Four friend day…

Saying goodbye to family will be tearful.  We will hug.  We will kiss.  Sobs will catch in our throats.  No doubt. We will see one another, each week on Skype, communicate through email and see their faces in photos on Facebook.  They will be “with us” in our hearts and minds each day, counting down the days until they come to visit us from afar.  This we know for sure.

Saying goodbye to friends will be different. We all dream that once a friend, a friend forever.  Not the case.  It’s no one’s fault.  It’s nature which intended us to gather around our core family for love, support and companionship. 

In the wild, animals form a family group welcoming “outsiders” of their species. In humans, we welcome “outsiders” on our own terms:  knock before you enter, respects their family times, don’t call during dinner, don’t expect to be together on holidays.  In essence, make an appointment to see one another.  That’s a learned behavior in our human society, not a part of our nature.

Thus, as we prepare to go away, we do so with this certainty:  we will see our family again, we may not see our friends. It’s a reality.  It still hurts.

Yesterday, in one single day, a dear friend Chere, an amazing friend, came for a low-carb, gluten- -free breakfast. With many common interests and years as friends, we simply couldn’t get enough of one another; sharing, smiling and laughing.  

When she was leaving, I hesitated, “Will I see you before we go,” I asked.  

She squeezed my hand while we hugged, “Of course.  I’ll be back several times before you go.”  I wanted to believe this.  I wasn’t sure.

Second friend of the day, our delightful next door neighbor Nelleke, from whom we’ll be renting her home in Majorca, Spain next May. Most days, she and I walk the neighborhood with her little white Westie, Max, chatting on endlessly about our dreams, our hopes and our disappointments. She’s a strong and sturdy senior, a fitness aficionado, like me and young for her age.  She’s leaving today for a week to visit family.  I will now know what it is like without her. 

Later in the day, the third friend of the day, our precious neighbor Sue, showed up at our door for happy hour, staying until 9:00 pm, when we walked her home, bellies full, still giggling over our enjoyable evening together, the three of us.  She lost her beloved husband and our friend Chip, whom I wrote about here on June 1, 2012. I was given the honor of speaking about him at his memorial service only a month ago.  We miss him.  We will miss her.

As we walked Sue home at a little after 9:00 pm, reveling in the starry night sky, so bright away from the city lights, we ran into our friend Jamie, another amazing neighbor and friend, stopping to chat.  Only days ago, she discovered that her little dog Bella, has cancer.  I was reminded of losing our Willie such a short time ago and can only hope that little Bella experiences a better outcome. I will miss Jamie and her family.

More friends will come to visit, to say goodbye before we go.  Each time I will wonder, will we see them again, before we go, 74 days from today?  Will they email?  Will they stay in touch? Will they read this blog from time to time for an update on where we are, perhaps considering a visit?  

Friends have  moved away and we have stayed in touch.  My friend Carol, a friend for 27 years, an airline pilot, moved away over 25 years ago. We text, we email, we visit one another, we talk on the phone never losing touch.  

There are more all over the country that don’t let it slip away, that are still “part of the pack” kind of friends.  Then there are the friends with whom we talked with almost every day, that left, never to return, never to talk, never to write.  Suddenly, they appear on Facebook.  We smile.  We are happy to “see” them again, not angry we lost touch.  In most cases, we both failed to stay in touch.

It’s all a part of this life we live.  We love, we lose.  We lose, we rediscover. Whichever way it goes, we accept it, still loving them, still holding on to the memories. This, dear friends, we know for sure.

Giving up habits..Wean me slowly!…

Bye, bye tea!

“They,” say it takes three weeks to break a habit. Yes, we still have six months and fourteen days until we leave for our adventure, but I feel compelled to start weaning myself off of some of my habits and routines. Most likely, Tom will bring his habits with us! 

We often chuckle over our routines and habits, as written in the first entry in this blog on March 14, 2012, describing in painstaking detail how we jointly manage to change clocks twice a year for daylight savings. That bi-annual event is but the tip of the iceberg!

Creatures of habit, we are! As we anticipate the homes we will occupy in the countries we will visit, many of our familiar and comforting routines will be tossed aside. Never staying long enough in any location to firmly establish new routines, we will strive to find ways to feel at ease and comfortable in someone else’s space.

The master bath in our home has a sink with brass fixtures, a bit outdated, but still attractive and befitting our lodge-like home on a lake here in Minnesota. The faucet in the pedestal sink drips. Over the years we’ve had several plumbers looking at it, telling us that the faucet cannot be repaired and must be replaced with a more current design. It still looks quite nice.

The faucet leaks when not shut off tightly (mostly by me). It drips onto the brass ring and stopper at the drain. This annoys me. Two to three times a day, I get out the Barkeeper’s Friend with a little sponge kept at the bottom of the closet (have to bend over each time), wet the sponge, sprinkle the Barkeepers, and scrub the drain until it sparkles, drying off every last drop of water with a piece of toilet paper. 

Good riddance!

Throwing the t.p. in the toilet, I consider flushing it but don’t. Why waste water?  Why don’t I throw it in the little plastic bag inside the little decorative brash trimmed, off-white porcelain trash can? Simple, I don’t want to have to feel compelled to empty the trash! (Now you can see why the details of planning this extended many years life of world travel, make me feel right at home as if you didn’t already know)! Two or three times a day, I do this! Twenty-six years!!!

Will I immediately go to a grocery store upon arriving in Belize, buy a Barkeeper’s Friend equivalent, and a small scrubby sponge to run back to our little ocean side house and start scrubbing the sparkly stainless steel drain two to three times a day? I don’t think so. Some habits will die on their own. Good riddance!  

However, other habits will be harder to break. This morning, as usual (another habit) I awaken at 5:30 am. I get up, hit the loo (Ha! Look, I am already getting more familiar with foreign expressions!), brush my teeth, wash my face and put in my contacts in order to see and go back to bed to look at my phone, an AndroidX loaded with 100’s of apps, but only a few I habitually use: Gmail, Facebook, Pulse, and Amazon Kindle Free App (containing my latest reading obsession).  

This morning I realized that this may not be possible once we are no longer on US soil. Yes, we will have access to the Internet on our laptops, many times provided as wireless broadband by the property owners. During these periods, we will be unable to use the Internet on our phones unless we are willing to pay outrageous fees. 

When I calculated the possible fees, it would be about $5000 a month for playing with our phones, considering our current megabyte usage, utilizing our current service provider! No thank you! (We will get into this in more depth on this topic as we move along here and discuss XCOMGLOBAL and SIM card options). Thus, another habit to break! Playing with our phones! Yikes!

We have three flat-screen TV’s as do many Americans, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and one in the kitchen. From the moment we are up and about, until going to bed, the TV is on in the background, quietly or off when talking or loudly when watching due to Tom’s hearing loss (42 years on the railroad).  

Although recently distracted with our laptops; Tom with ancestry, me with travel stuff, we usually spend most evenings together watching shows we programmed during the week. This “getting outside your head” form of entertainment is a delightful respite from the stresses of everyday life.   

Most of the vacation rentals will have tiny hard to watch old TVs with shows in foreign languages. No more piling up our plates with tasty homemade dinners to sit and watch yet another episode of “Downton Abbey”, “Dexter” or one of our favorite mindless, sinfully deliciously reality shows.  

Guess we’ll watch TV on our computers when we have Internet access or watch the many movies we plan to download to a yet-to-be-purchased portable four terabyte external hard drive.  

Here’s another habit, hard to break. Every afternoon at 4:00 PM, I brew tea, one cup at a time, at exactly the correct temperature, with precisely the same pot, for exactly three minutes, with a certain strainer, a special timer, a sterling silver spoon, in a pale green cup, with 3 drops of liquid Stevia, my own version of Happy Hour.  
I only like one type of tea, Pouchong, a hard to find, buy-online-only tea grown in the spring in Taiwan. I have tried numerous other teas to no avail. Oh, no! The bag of tea, the strainer, the cup, the timer, the Splenda, the pot, the spoon all weigh 2.7 pounds which equals 3.85% of our allowable luggage when we fly. Bye, bye tea!