Day #246 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Ten reasons to avoid test cruises…

Tom’s hair was blowing with his back to the wind at Sails Restaurant in Diani Beach, Kenya. The cool ocean breeze was heavenly.

Today’s photos are from dining out at our favorite restaurant during the final few days we spent in Diani Beach, Kenya, in 2013. For more details, please click here.

Each day when I walk the corridors, I listen to podcasts on various topics. Recently, on a mission to further improve my health, I listened to podcasts from Dr. Ken Berry, Dr. Ali Nadir (cardiologist), Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Jason Fung, and Dr. Paul Saladino, and more, all of whom advocate a very low/zero carb way of eating, which with their advice, I’ve been able to lower my blood sugar and blood pressure dramatically as described in this post from a few days ago.

I equally enjoyed the cool ocean breeze at Sails. It was so hot that night. We were sweating. 

When I need a break from health podcasts, I often listen to travel-related podcasts relevant to today’s COVID-19 situation in hopes of learning something useful for our future travels. By accident, I came across Tony’s podcast site, La Lido Loca, and was fascinated to listen to his take on why it makes little sense to accept such an invitation. To listen to Tony’s excellent podcast on this topic, please click here.

Here are his ten reasons why not to embark on a free test cruise:

  1. A cruise line must have the “free” passenger sign a document accepting the potential risks of participating. In other words, if you get the virus during or after the test cruise, you will not have legal recourse against the cruise line.
  2. There is an expectation that test cruise passengers must have a doctor’s letter confirming they don’t have any pre-existing comorbidities that may result in severe cases of COVID-19 or even death.
  3. You will be virus tested at the port upon embarkation, disembarkation, and possibly many more times during the cruise.
  4. This is not normal cruising with all the fluff and activities cruisers may be used to. Passengers will be directed to activities during the cruise and subject to the guidelines and requirements that reduce the risks of becoming infected.
  5. Restrictive port experiences are unlike those typically offered by the cruise line. You will not be able to wander on your own if any ports of call are visited, nor will you be able to choose a multitude of experiences.
    Tom’s crab au gratin was as delicious as usual.
  6. What happens if you or others get the virus, either in reality or in a simulation, which may require even those without the virus to lockdown in their cabin? Cabin selection is up to the cruise line. One may end up in an inside cabin when they usually book a balcony cabin. A lockdown during a simulation could result in days in a windowless cabin when you aren’t even sick.
  7. Disruptive cruise – You may be in the middle of enjoying a meal or a drink, or an activity, required to stop immediately for health checks and other protocols.
  8. A cruise may be cut short if too many passengers become infected with COVID-19. This could happen after paying round-trip airfares to reach the cruise embarkation point, at your own expense, only to have the cruise cut short after 24 to 48 hours when passengers are reported to have contracted the virus resulting in the cruise ending early.
  9. Waiting around – For test results, for new procedures, for activities, and a variety of entirely unfamiliar protocols, passengers may spend hours each day waiting for the next activity or event.
  10. Stringent adherence to the CDC’s virus protocols; masking, social distancing, hand washing, and more. The usual socialization most cruisers enjoy will be obliterated.
    My dinner at Sails was too heavy on the oil, very different from the first time I’d ordered this entrée.

Are you still interested? Probably, not. If so, contact your favorite cruise line and see if options are available for you to participate. Most cruise lines got their authorized cruise resellers with invitations to participate. It will be interesting to see how these cruises roll out.

We’ll be watching for those results and will report back here for details.

As for us cruising in the future, hum, we’ll see what happens. Our next booked cruise is scheduled for November 30, 2021. We’ll see if that transpires and if we decide it’s safe to go if it does.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2019:

Tom’s Reuben sandwich with jumbo onion rings when out for bingo at a restaurant with friends Karen and Rich one year ago. Drool-worthy! Click here for Tom’s win.

We’ve arrived in Mumbai…33 hours from airport to airport…

View from our hotel room in Mumbai, overlooking the Arabian Sea.

We arrived at our hotel, Sun-n-Sand, overlooking Juhu Beach on the Arabian Sea, and we couldn’t be more pleased. But, more on our trip tomorrow when we’re coherent enough to write a post.

A few-hour nap, a nice dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, followed by a good night’s sleep, and we’ll be good to go.

See you soon with the “rest of the story.”

Sweet dreams.

Sightseeing in the exquisite surroundings…Welcoming the sunshine…Clontarf Reserve…

Moreton Bay Fig Tree highlights the entrance to Clontarf Reserve. Click here for details on this type of tree.

Yesterday afternoon, Bob popped down to see us, as he does several times each day, asking if we’d like to venture out on some sightseeing to the North Beaches area, which we can see from our veranda, which appears difficult to get to from across the bay based on our view.

Zoom in for hours of operation at Clontarf Reserve.

As it turned out, the access to the area was easy and, although hilly, was a pleasant ride in Bob’s comfortable newer car. So please leave it to Bob to ensure we had another great experience.

In no time at all, we were out of the car enthralled with some of the best scenery Sydney has to offer with expansive views and photos ops we could hardly believe.

Lots of fluffy clouds enhanced our photos.

The area we’re highlighting today is Clontarf Reserve and Beach, one of the many areas we visited during yesterday’s outing. In fact, upon returning, we found numerous great reviews online including these following comments at TripAdvisor.

Clontarf Reserve and Beach include the following amenities that many visitors and tourists may find pleasing for a day at the park and beach, including these comments below from this site for both individual and group use for such events as weddings, reunions, and parties:


  • Toilets: Amenities Block with disabled access and toilet
  • BBQs: 4 double electric & 2 single electric
  • Playground: Yes undercover, shaded suitably for 0-12 age group
  • Carparking: Carpark and street parking
  • Carpark entry fees – Metered parking – charges apply, Ratepayers / Residents with designated car stickers have free entry; disabled parking:   2 spaces.
  • Applicable: Monday to Sunday 8.00am to 6.00pm
  • Lighting: Park lighting only
  • Power: Upon request.
  • Seating/Tables: Both
  • Shelter: 2 gazebo type shelters/ seating for 16 and shade trees
  • Water/Taps: Taps and bubbler near swimming pool and at amenities block & 1 outdoor shower
  • Passive/Active Recreation: Passive (continued below)
There are hundreds of sailboats and motorboats in the marina. Construction is in process as shown on the left but doesn’t seem to impede any of the activities.
Availability (for group events, only)
  • Anytime up to 10:00 pm
  • Tentative bookings must be confirmed within 1 week.
  • Community Facilities Co-ordinator will email confirmation of your booking.
  • Fees must be paid within two weeks of request of booking.

Bookings are required for group events, and fees are applicable.


For information (including fees) about booking Council venues for a wedding ceremony function, please see the page:

Other facilities

  • Clonny’s Restaurant: (02) 9948 2373
  • Kiosk, enclosed swimming baths, sailing, boat access ramp.
  • Manly Scenic Walkway Access.”
We can only imagine the cost of the one of these boat slips.

Clonny’s Restaurant is located on the premises, with information found here including pricing and menu options.  Nearby, as mentioned above, is the Manly Scenic Walkway, a 3 hour, 30 minute 10 km walk (one way) with information located at this site.  

Not only did we enjoy visiting Clontarf Reserve and Beach on the sunny, albeit windy day, Bob drove us to several choice locations which had us dashing out of the car to seeing yet another gorgeous expanse in the horizon.

Hills surrounding the bay.

Please check back over the next several days as we’ll continue to post breathtaking scenery photos we’re excited to share.  Soon, we’re off to catch the Hop, Skip, Jump bus to Manly where we’ll embark on a long walk and to grocery shopping for a few items we’ll need to last until after our packages arrive.

Hopefully both packages will arrive on Monday and/or Tuesday, as per the online tracking for Tom’s new laptop and our formerly missing box from the US.

This reminds us both of our boating days in Minnesota many moons ago.

We plan to “stay put” on Monday and Tuesday (or longer, if necessary) until we have those two packages in hand. We’ve made a sign for both Fed Ex and Australia Post which Bob will post by the mailbox early Monday morning to ensure the delivery personnel know to walk down the side of the house to bring the packages down to us. Our fingers are crossed.

Have a beautiful weekend! 

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2016:

The Fonterra Cheese Factory with a retail store across the street in Eltham, New Zealand.  For more details on this quaint town, please click here.

Creating our own good news…Planning for the future…

A fishing boat tied to tree at the beach.

In yesterday’s post our heads read, “Bad news keeps coming and coming… How do we handle the risks?”

After rethinking this negative heading and after watching more bad news on TV, we turned off the news and started thinking positive thoughts as to how we can reframe our thinking during this difficult period in our country, in our world’s history?

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negative press much of which is often over reported, over dramatized and over exaggerated to enhance viewership. How easily we can become entrapped into this cycle!

The way out? Don’t let it get inside our heads! This is not easy, but it’s doable, just like everything else we choose in our lives. We can find joy within the framework of our lives or we can allow ourselves to let outside influences have a profound effect on our daily lives.

The ocean is extremely shallow in this area.

I suppose in part, I’ve become engrossed in the negative news since our arrival in Phuket two weeks ago when we discovered we had English speaking news the TV which we’ve had on all day while we’ve stayed indoors as I continue to recover. That’s easy to do when one is housebound after an illness, injury or surgery.

Although I remain somewhat housebound, in an attempt to avoid the outrageously bumpy roads we must travel to get to the highway, yesterday we had no choice but to get out when our food supply had dwindled down to a completely empty refrigerator.

Tom could probably grocery shop without me, but it’s important for me to get out and besides getting out is uplifting. I’d brought along the camera hoping to take a few photos, but again it was cloudy and rainy. I never took a single shot.

A fisherman looking for a possible catch.

Once inside the huge market, Tom pushes the trolley as we both become engrossed in the shopping mode ending up having a good time selecting from the array of fresh, organic, non GMO foods, free range eggs, grass fed meats and wild caught fish.

During this outing, I started thinking of the last place we lived where we grocery shopped on a regular basis which was the three months we spent in New Zealand living on the alpaca farm from January 19 to April 15, 2016.

We arrived in Bali on April 30th after a cruise.  One month later I was injured, somewhere around June 1st.  Here we are over two months later, while I’m still focusing on recovering. 

How we ever managed all the tours on the Mekong River cruise baffles me when now I gingerly maneuver through each day desperately avoiding bending, twisting and sitting too long. I continue to feel confident that my limited level of activity is contributing toward my attaining a full recovery in months to come.

Close to the shore, this fisherman may be looking for squid.  Fried calamari is a popular dish in Thailand, especially for tourists. These circles are fishing pools.

In time, light exercise and more walking will be appropriate but for now, easy movement combined with rest seems to be most effective. I suppose all the activity on the river cruise may have been detrimental to my condition when there were days that my Fitbit showed over 10,000 steps. 

For now, I stay under 3000 steps a day frequently getting up and down engaging in light household activities that don’t include any bending or lifting. It would be great to get outside to walk the neighborhood, but the ruts in the road are so many and so deep, even the most surefooted of walkers is taking a risk.  Falling would not be good.

Back to yesterday, when we returned from shopping Tom put all the refrigerator items away while I sat at the dining table cutting veggies for our salad and side dishes. 

Island across the bay where numerous boats stop to enjoy the sandy beach.

We purchased two roasted chickens, deliciously seasoned with cinnamon and lemon grass (a Thai thing), one for each of two nights. Adding a huge salad and two side vegetables, fresh green beans and asparagus, rounds out the meal. 

As I chopped, I was thinking about getting my thoughts outside of this news related state of mind.It was time to turn off the TV and start planning again.  Tom loaded his favorite radio podcast on his computer, Garage Logic (from KSTP 1500, Minneapolis, Minnesota), that often has us howling with laughter.

We were able to tune out the limited discussions of negative news to make a point of listening to the endless chatter that easily elicits rounds of hearty laughter from both of us. 

A short time later, sitting at my computer, (the day’s post was uploaded hours earlier) the research began and the first thing I tackled was booking tickets for the Sydney Opera House for March 19, 2017. It’s a good thing we’d booked tickets now. Based on leftover available dates there wouldn’t have been tickets remaining if we waited any longer.

The water is barely ankle deep at low tide.

The tickets and great seats we chose are for a Sunday at 5:00 pm. The day of the week was irrelevant to us. Us retirees find days of the week for activities less significant as when we were working when Fridays or Saturday nights were preferred for most social events. It doesn’t matter now.

Let’s face it, opera is not Tom’s first choice of entertainment although I’ve always been a  huge fan. However, the idea of spending a few hours at the famous opera house is an experience neither of us wanted to miss during the 40 days we’ll spend in Sydney from March 13 to April 22, 2017, while awaiting the 24-night cruise from Sydney to Seattle.

Its this very cruise on April 22, 2017, in exactly 8 months 17 days, that will take us back toward the US. After an Alaskan cruise ending on May 26, 2017 we” fly to Minnesota where we’ll stay seeing family and friends for six weeks. Later we’ll be heading to Nevada to see more family for another three weeks. Then, we’ll be off “for the world” once again!

Phuket consists of hundreds of smaller islands.  For more information, please click here.

The simple process of booking the tickets for the Sydney Opera House reminded me of how much the future holds, especially seeing family and friends for a total of nine weeks and then, the journey continues on.

We can choose to create positive news in our lives, news that can take us away if only for awhile to live life to the fullest in the best way we can.  

Now, we’re back to researching for the future! May you find ways to incorporate good news into your daily lives!

Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2015:

Boats docked at the marina in Port Douglas, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Comment from a friend/reader…Love hearing from all of you!…

It had rained for the first several days since we arrived.  Yesterday, the first sunny day, we stumbled upon this view. We were both mesmerized by the beauty of Mount Taranaki.  (We’re located in the Taranaki region of New Zealand). The trek up this mountain can be dangerous, which we heard aboard the ship, as per this link.

This morning, checking my email, as I do first thing each day, reading the comments from our friends/readers, I saw that Staci wrote the following:

“What a gorgeous place! I remember when you booked this location, I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out! I can tell you all are just having an outstanding experience, and you can write about the alpacas every day for all I care! 🙂 Have a great weekend.”

At the end of yesterday’s post, I commented how we laughed over her comment about us posting excessively about the alpacas. As each day passes, I’ve come to realize how impossible it will be for me not to write about them and post photos.

After all, there are approximately 90 alpacas surroundings us along with a wide array of cows on the bordering properties. How can we avoid noticing their activities throughout the day with a perfect spot to sit in the warmth of the sun on the veranda and with huge windows and walls of glass throughout the house?

This morning’s view from the veranda of the cows on the adjacent property.  We easily hear mooing all day.  Having never lived on a farm, this is all quite a joy for both of us. 

The first thing we see each morning in the master bath’s window (instead of a mirror over the sink) is one of the many paddocks on this property with 20 alpacas huddled together to stay warm in the coolness of the morning.  They recently had been sheared for their precious fleece which is hypoallergenic.

I’d rather look at them each morning rather than myself as I start my day! (There’s another vanity area with a mirror and sink in the master bedroom that serves that purpose).

As the sun rises each day, my heart flips in my chest seeing them, closely connected for companionship, love, and warmth. They’re still shy about us but surely in time, they’ll come to know us to approach more readily.  For now, we wait patiently, keeping a distance to ensure their ease and comfort.

At some point, we’ll drive to the area of the mountain where there are beautiful lakes we’d like to see such as Lake Mangamahoe.

Over these past few days, that it’s nearly impossible for us not to address the alpacas in our posts, at least with one or two photos added to other photos for the day.  Humor me, folks.  I’m totally in love with them and Tom is a close second.  The alpacas are our new “warthogs” with whom we also fell in love in South Africa after their multiple daily visits to our veranda.

Yesterday, was a wonderfully busy day. After finishing the last of the wash while delighting in hanging the clothes outside on a breezy, sunny day, we took a drive into the town of New Plymouth to check out the ocean views and become familiar with the “downtown” area. Later, after being back home, we went back out a second time, taking more photos.

New Plymouth, with a population of over 68,000 has commercial areas reminding us more of a community area than a tourist area. None of the areas we’ve seen to date feels touristy and over-marketed. We spotted a mall but it didn’t have that “tourist attraction” kind of appearance.

As we drove to another location again we spotted Mount Taranaki as the clouds had moved from the peak.

Of course, we’ve only been here a few days and have yet to formulate any concrete observations or opinions. Although, this we know for certain…we love it here, especially out in the countryside where we’ll live for the next three months.

In only a matter of 20 minutes, we’re able to drive to town to shop for anything we could want. With 117 restaurants listed in TripAdvisor for New Plymouth, we’ll never run out of dining out options. 

The difficult part will be choosing to dine out when the robust selection of wonderful foods at the markets far exceeds anything we’ve seen in a very long time. In many ways, the options are even more abundant than what we discovered in Trinity Beach, Australia. 

Hours after being born, this baby alpaca is nursing.  Pinch me!  This is so sweet!

Then again, with Valentine’s Day, my birthday, and our wedding anniversary all upcoming in the next six weeks, we’ll certainly plan a few nights out to dine at some of the above-noted top restaurants in the area.  For now, we’ve just begun to explore the 35 acres surrounding us.  Um…heavenly!

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2015:

One year ago, while living in Kauai, we stumbled upon this view driving down an unexpected road.  For more details, please click here. (The same occurred yesterday when again we stumbled across the main photo view when we drove down an “unexpected road.”)

The exploration continues…Photos backlogged….Lots of fun sightseeing on the Big Island…

With cooler temperatures on this side of the island, there wasn’t a huge number of bathers in the tide pool at Ahalanui Park.

Each day we’ve explored the island and have accumulated many photos we’ve yet to share. We need to spend the next few days in slow mode in order to catch up!

The volcanic thermal heated tide pool at Ahalanui Park where we spent time yesterday afternoon. The park is closed from 12:00 to 1:00 pm each day for cleaning and maintenance.

Actually, neither Tom nor I would mind a lazy day today.  If the weather clears, we’ll head to the massive, life-guarded community pool about five miles down the road in the village of Pahoa for some sun and fun with the kids.

This side of the Big Island has no sandy beaches based on the lava flow over the past million years. There are some sandy beaches on the Kona side but swimming in tide pools in a safer alternative, especially with children when there’s no risk of rip tides and sharks.

Although, sightseeing is fun from time to time, we especially enjoy sitting on the patio whale, sea turtle and wave watching, all mindless drivel.  With family at our side, it couldn’t be more enjoyable. Luckily, they too, love this leisurely pastime. It takes no arm twisting at all to encourage any of them to hang out with us in search of the next blowhole.

There was no shortage of views at Ahalanui Park.

Then again, when they’re ready to go, we join in on most activities, except for shopping outing for trinkets and such, or when visiting any of the malls in Hilo, a pastime we’ll easily forgo. Neither of us have any interest in window shopping and thus, tagging along is a pointless activity. Plus, the kids tend to feel rushed knowing we’re waiting. Without us, they can shop at their leisure.

TJ enjoyed swimming in the tide pool. He and the kids mentioned they spotted tiny fish through their swim goggles, while swimming in the pool that had entered through the opening to the ocean as shown in the photo below.

Yesterday, our goal was to find the popular tide pools within a 30 minute drive from Pahoa. It turned out to be a lovely day when not only did we find one of the two tide pools we sought (the main tide pool area of Kapoho is for another day), we stumbled across another park, Isaac Hale Beach Park and later Ahalanui Park where we spent a few hours while TJ and the two boys swam in the warm volcanic heated waters.

It was a beautiful day, not quite 80 degrees with a mostly clear sky.

As well as time at the two parks, we spent several hours in the minivan, lunches and beverages packed, stopping to take photos, relishing in the exquisite natural beauty surrounding us. Stopping at the Mamala grocery store for a few items on the way home, we didn’t return until 4:00 pm, ready to relax with more whale watching and a nice homemade meal. 

At the far end of the tide pool, there’s this passageway to the sea which has a large screen that prevents the entrance of larger marine life.

I stayed busy in the kitchen making Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, garlic bread and salad for the five of them with chicken and avocado salad for me. With only one large pot, cooking the large portion of noodles and sauce was challenging. Later in the evening I wrote to the owners asking if they had a larger pot we could use during our stay.

The pool cleans itself naturally as the water enters and exits through the passageway to the open sea.

This morning our kindly local landlords arrived to not only remove our trash but also leaving an enormous pot that will serve us well during our time with the family. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. 

Beyond the tide pool there are various rock formations.

Ah, its the simple things, as always, that find us smiling and content; the six of us (soon to be more) sitting at the kitchen table having a meal together, chatting all the while, loving the time together; all of us, riding in the minivan oohing and aahing over the exquisite scenery in front of us; Jayden giggling as we drove over a roller-coaster type road; Nik’s occasional tossed out a morsel of wisdom he happily bestows upon us. 

Again, we observed these peculiar vine-like tree trunks, Albizia trees, which are reminiscent of scenes in the movie, Jurassic Park.

We’re loving every moment and will continue to do so in larger doses when the others soon arrive, ten days from today. We’re not wishing the time to fly by in expectation of the others arriving. We’re simply reveling in every moment that we have.

We stopped at a small park along the road that was closed due to storm damage from last June and July, yet to be cleared of downed trees and branches.

There’s a price to pay for living this life we live, the world as our oyster, always on the move.  That price is clear.  But, we choose to have it all right now cherishing every moment we have in front of us with each of our family members as precious time well spent.

Even the road to the tide pools was an experience in itself. The red on the road is the shirt of a biker making her way up the hill.

And when they’re gone, we’ll joyfully recall the new memories we’ve made with all of them, as we continue on in making new memories of our own, traveling the world for years to come, feeling their love all the while.

The back of a humpback whale we spotted from our backyard in Pahoa.  In Maui, we heard there are few whales near the Big Island.  Ha!  We see them everyday as we successfully search the sea for blowholes.

We’re grateful for it all; each moment, each memory, with the hope and expectation of many more to come.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 11, 2013:

As we stood near the banks of the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park in South Africa, we were privy to an elephant ritual as shown on our post on this date, one year ago today.  Please click here for details.

Almost two weeks in Maui…Sharks…Hurricane…Lava….Farmer’s Market visit…

This smoothie truck was certainly eye-catching as we drove up to the Farmer’s Market.

Tomorrow will be two weeks since we arrived in Maui. There’s been more excitement here than since we lived in Marloth Park when the adventures occurred daily.

Surfers and swimmers on the beach near the Farmer’s Market.

Don’t get me wrong. We find quiet, uneventful times relatively pleasing. And, of course, we pray for the safety and well-being of everyone in all of these situations. 

Another beach view along Highway 30.

It’s hard to believe that in four weeks and four days we’re moving to the Big Island, possibly close to the lava flow to see a major geological event in the making.

A park at the beach on Honoapiilani Highway.

We never bargained for this. Perhaps, if we think long term for us and for our family, we can all feel at ease knowing that in a small way, Mount Kilauea had an impact on our lives, whether we ultimately have to choose other accommodations or not.

A free-range chicken at the Farmer’s Market.

We’re at peace in this knowledge, not panicky, knowing if and when the time comes, we’ll make a good decision, whatever that may be.

Homemade banana bread for sale at the Farmer’s Market at $10 each.

As for now, we’re content while I’m busily working on corrections of this site going back from the beginning of over 800 posts. At this point, doing it every day since we arrived, I’m only up to July 12, 2013, almost halfway through since the first post in March 2012.

A wide array of fruit was offered at the Farmer’s Market.  Since we can’t eat fruit, we didn’t buy any.

It’s a huge task. Once I’ve uploaded the day’s post and Tom’s removed the photos in order to send it to his blind brother Jerome who listens to it on his talking computer, we head to the pool for a short time. 

Returning indoors, I usually start chopping and dicing for dinner which, depending on what we’re having, can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Then, after any cleaning and laundry is completed, I start the revisions which take the remainder of the day, usually until shortly before dinner. It’s easy to see how the day easily flies by.

It would have been fun to purchase raw macadamia nuts but they require a special device to open them.

I’m anxious to complete the revisions to free up time for other things. But, the more time passes, the harder it will be to go back and do this important task. I’m anxious to complete this task. If we have to find other living arrangements for the family to get together, it will be great to have this time-consuming task completed.

We don’t grumble about these types of tasks. They are a part of our lives comparable to keeping our budget updated and keeping future travel plans on track. It’s all a part of the experience that we fully accept. In the realm of things, it’s good that we don’t mind these kinds of tasks or we’d be in big trouble.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2013:

A year ago today, we took a 3-day “vacation” to celebrate our one year anniversary of leaving for our travels on October 31, 2012. We stayed at a beautiful resort on the Indian Ocean in a gorgeous air-conditioned hut. As soon as we arrived, this Vervet Monkey appeared at our window assuming that new guests will feed her when they always get a fruit plate upon moving in. We didn’t feed her but certainly got a kick out of her looking in the window. For details of this first day of on “vacation” please click here.

Memories, old and new yet to come…

The 4th is over. The house is cleaned of the chocolate flag cake little hand prints and the freshly cut grass covered little feet.  The dog nose prints on the glass are gone, the kitchen cleaned from my “bull in a China Shop” food preparation, food flying everywhere.  

The leftovers are almost gone with only one more night of tender barbecue ribs, almond flour fried chicken and crunchy broccoli salad.  There’s one more piece of the gluten free cake for Tom to enjoy tonight after a 12-hour day of hard work in the heat. I look forward to placing it dead center on a his favorite white plate and handing it to him while he cools off in his comfy chair, TV in the background, loaded up on his laptop, ready to go.

Tom doesn’t like for me to “wait” on him. He never asks me to get him anything. For me, it has become less of a gender role, but more of a being a caring and responsible partner in life, holding up my end of the deal. Retiring almost two years ago after 45 years of work I find my new “job” of homemaker, cook, blogger and travel planner rather rewarding.    

I do laundry every day, washed, folded and ironed if needed.  Each night, Tom took out his clothes for the next day’s work invariably choosing the same already washed and dried shirt among a dozen others, one that he wore the prior day.  

I asked him last night if his co-workers noticed that he rotated only two shirts. He laughed, saying, “Guys don’t notice other guy’s clothes unless they are particularly unusual or fodder for endless jokes.”  His two shirts are relatively boring.  He’s not.

This morning as I padded around the kitchen, almost running in circles, I anticipated my big activity for the day; lunch with my old friend, Lynda of 36 years at Maynards in Excelsior situated on Lake Minnetonka, where she and I hung out in the 70’s (when it was known as T. Butcherblocks). We’d skillfully maneuver our big boats up to the dock, tied them up, and proceeded to order copious amounts of sweet drinks with umbrellas, later dancing into the night in the upstairs bar, chasing boys. 

Both boat owners, we were proud to be women who could manage our meticulously cleaned and maintained 25+ foot cabin cruisers into a tight slip in “the front” of the dock, later heading home to our growing kids, our hard earned homes, our booming business and the responsibilities of the day. It was fun. We were young.

As we meet today to discuss our lives, she with her second husband, me with my third, we’ll surely chuckle over the changes in our lives; our grown kids, our grand kids, she and her husband Jim, living part time in China with two homes in California and now a home on Lake Minnetonka and, us on our path of seeing the world. We’re both digging into our “bucket lists.”

We both still work out almost every day, as we did then, enjoy healthy food, take care of ourselves and grumble over the ravages of time that inevitably heads our way.  We accept that reality of aging as gracefully as we can. We both still relish a “cute” outfit and a brag-worthy bargain on a sexy pair of high heeled shoes, comfort being more of a prerequisite than it was in the past. 

Life has never been easy for either of us, as for most. We worked hard for what we wanted and fumbled along the way. We experienced sorrow, health issues, disappointments and failures. We survived. We still know the words to Gloria Gaynor’s, I Will Survive, popular in our “day.”

It will be a lovely lunch, seeing an old friend, sharing our lives, ordering the delicious Seared Ahi Tuna Salad that I always order at Maynards, reminiscing about the past, anticipating the future that we both share in common in so many ways.

Later, when I return home, I’ll squeeze into a bathing suit spending a little time getting my usual hour’s worth of Vitamin D, finish a load of wash and anxiously await Tom’s return home.   I’ll pour him a cold glass of sugar free iced tea and set out the white plate for him to enjoy the last piece of the gluten free chocolate flag cake. 

I’ll ask him no less than three times if he’s ready for his cake and smile when he finally says “yes”, springing from my comfy chair to get it for him.  

He never asks for me to get something for him, which occasionally makes “waiting” on him, all the more meaningful.