Excited about a new product…A must share with all of you…

This is my new toy, A JBL Bluetooth speaker that works with voice activation from my phone. The sound is fantastic!

A week ago Saturday, we went to Alan and Fiona’s house for dinner here in the park. We were seated on the veranda enjoying fantastic “starters” suitable for my way of eating (Alan also eats low-carb) and watching the animals come to their garden for pellets, as they do to ours.

We sipped on our chosen beverages while engaging in lively and animated conversation. The weather was cool but not uncomfortably so, and as the evening wore on, Fiona handed me a wooly blanket which sufficed until we went indoors after dark for the main course. The dinner was delicious and prepared perfectly.

As we embraced the calm of the evening, especially when we were outdoors. Suddenly I heard music emanating from inside the house. I recognized Andrea Bocelli’s melodic voice in the background, so clear and concise. It sounded as if he was right there. I mentioned this to Alan, and he jumped up to show us where the music was coming from.

In his house, on a shelf was a small device, a JBL Flip Essential Speaker, that spewed out music as if it was coming from a powerful built-in sound system, similar to that we experienced at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada. We were blown away when he suggested we ask “Alexa” to play a favorite song. In seconds, the music wafted through the air from speakers appropriately placed in the ceilings of every room in his house.

Now keep in mind that we’ve been “out of the loop” for many years, and although we were well aware of such technology, we didn’t have the “home” or suitable environment for such technology in our lives. However, I have  particularly enjoyed talking to my Google phone, saying, “Hey, Google, play a song or do this or that.” That technology alone makes me squeal with delight.

Then, in the past six months when I had my FitBit Sense and found I could talk to it as well, reading texts, WhatsApp messages, and incoming phone calls, again, I found myself tickled with the technology, using it often, especially for setting timers needed for cooking, by simply saying to the app on my Fitbit, for example, “Set a timer for 10 minutes.” Ten minutes later, my Fitbit vibrates, reminding me the timer is up. I use this feature almost every day.

I didn’t bother to read the included easy instructions that came in its box. All I did was have my phone pair with the device via Bluetooth, and voila! We had music!

But music? I’ve missed it. In our old lives, we had an older but high-quality “stereo system” from the 1980s that blasted out great music any time we’d like, but of course, wasn’t Bluetooth enabled to perform like systems of today. We had parties playing in the background, quiet romantic dinners with music playing in the background, and busy times performing tasks around the house with music playing in the background. I’ve missed those times.

So, when Alan showed us a birthday gift he received from his son, which plays music in a manner comparable to a primary sound system, I was particularly enthralled. He explained how he could “tell” his phone to play a song or album on the “free” version of YouTube Music, and seconds later, the piece (s) were emanating clearly from the little device.

Yesterday afternoon, Vusi dropped off the package containing the machine I had shipped to Louise and Danie’s office. Within minutes, I checked South Africa’s local equivalency of Amazon, Takealot, found the device, and ordered it without flinching. It was priced at ZAR 1999, US $133.80. If you are in the US, you can purchase this product for ZAR 1478, US $99, at this link on Amazon.com. (Imported items always cost more in South Africa). (It’s too complicated for delivery trucks to get to our house on the bumpy roads).

We opened the package, charged the device, and within a few hours, it was fully charged using the orange USB cord plugged into my laptop. It took me less than five minutes to set up the Bluetooth connection with my Google Android phone. It works with Bluetooth on most brands of smartphones. We suggest you check online to see if it’s compatible with your phone.

Moments later, I told my phone using voice activation, “Hey Google,” to play Barry White’s old song, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” It didn’t have to have the YouTube app open! The music played, clear as a bell bringing both of us down “memory lane.” Time after time, we requested old favorites. The lousy mood I’d been in for days wafted away. The music was such a boon to my state of mind.

Our dinner company arrived promptly at 4:30, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken,  while I had an “oldie” playing. I couldn’t wait to show off my new toy. I only left it on for a few minutes. We had lots of catching up and didn’t want the music to drown out the conversation. Everyone shook their heads in wonder over my enthusiasm, and we went on to have a lovely dinner and evening in the bush, entertained by the great conversation and an endless stream of wildlife visitors.

With the 2200 hrs, 10:00 pm curfew in Marloth Park, the evening ended early. Tom did dishes while I cleaned up, and before too long, we were off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

We highly recommend this product if you’ve been longing for great-sounding music, whether or not you have Alexa, “Hey, Google,” or any other voice-activated phone that is compatible. It can also be used with laptops, tablets, and other devices, but I’ve yet to give that a try, so I can’t guarantee anything.

We’ll be “dancin’ to the music” yet again this evening as sunset falls. Of course, not too loudly. After all, it’s intended to be quiet in the bush.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 25, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day#155, halfway through our confinement in the hotel. This building in London is the  Royal British Society of Sculptors. For more, please click here.

Hard to resist…Rocking the night away…Lautoka, Fiji…

Freighter beyond a peninsula while docked in Lautoka, Fiji.

I can’t recall the last time we danced as much as we have on this cruise. Oh sure, when we first started dating in 1991, it wasn’t unusual for us to go “on a date” to end up on the dance floor rocking the night away. 

Again, last night there was another “silent disco.” Immediately after dinner, both exhausted from too much fun, we walked past the event on the way to our cabin, hoping to turn in early for a change.

Many Fijian islands are small, as shown here.

Alas, Tom grabbed two lighted headsets off the DJ’s table, plopping one on each of our heads. Our instantaneous response was to immediately start dancing while the 1965 Four Tops song, “I Can’t Help Myself” was blaring on the “red” channel.

Once we started moving, it was nearly impossible to stop.  When Tom left for the restroom, I continued to dance by myself until some 30 something guy grabbed my hand and twirled me around, suddenly my new dance partner until Tom returned. Oh, good grief!

There are hundreds of islands in Fiji.

It’s easy to remember music from “the old days,” especially when today’s younger generation has a profound interest in music from our era in the ’60s, ’70s, and 80s when some of the best dance music rocked the radio waves and sound systems in our cars and homes. In addition, we often hear the old songs in movies, TV shows, and at a variety of venues.

Sure, most of our dance moves are still the same as our distant past. But, hardly ever does anyone adopt a new style of dance when, as amateurs, we kind of “loved the one we’re with” in more than one way…our personal dance style and our preferred dance partner.

The industrial port held little interest for us in getting off the ship.

Isn’t it funny how we each think our style is still upbeat and trendy when we’re dancing? Any yet, as we looked around, it was easy to tell how old the dancers were, besides inspecting the laugh lines on their faces and crinkles around their eyes. Their dance style gave it all away, and we were no exception to the rule.

It’s during the gyrations on the dance floor that suddenly we become young again, energized, hopeful for a long and healthy life and overall grateful to be alive and able to move about to the fast-paced thumping of the music. 

Buses were lined up at the port to take passengers on a variety of tours.

A variety of songs played on the three colored lighted stations consisting of red, blue, and green lights on the headset. One need only notice the color of their own favorite song on their headset to dance with someone else listening to the same station, same color. 

Although many couples and groups didn’t seem to care if their partners were listening and dancing to different songs, everyone, regardless of the songs, couldn’t seem to stop dancing, laughing, and interacting.

Booths were set up along the port for tourists to shop.  No interest in that!

Perhaps the average age in the overall group was probably around 50, with many of the dancers were well into their 70s and some into their 80s. There was only a handful of 20 somethings.

What great exercise! I wish I could have kept up with Tom, who has proven he can dance non-stop for hours. Maybe by the next cruise, I’ll have recovered sufficiently enough to keep up with my five years younger husband. In any case, I did my fair share on the dance floor.

Many passengers enjoy cruising for the shopping.  For us, we’re only interested in spending our remaining AU 133, US $100, non-refundable cabin credit. 

Hoping for an early evening, Tom didn’t get to sleep until well after 1:00 am, and it was 2:15 am the last time I looked at the time on the phone. So today, another sleepy day, we’ll attempt a short nap at some point. 

Neither of us is good at napping when it’s hard to turn off the “music” in our heads. But, I suppose, in essence, that’s a good thing!

May you have music in your head today and always!

Photo from one year ago today, March 9, 2016:

Could this face with grass in her mouth be any cuter? Nothing can compare to the charm of these gentle animals. For more adorable alpaca photos, please click here.

High on Penguin…A unique B&B concept like none other…Music memorabilia enthusiasts, check this out!

Gerard and his High on Penguin holiday home in Penguin, Tasmania, overlooking the town and the sea.

When we met Gerard last week, owner of an interesting B&B “High on Penguin,” when he and Terry stopped by to say hello, he invited us to see his unique holiday/vacation home high on a hill overlooking the town of Penguin, Tasmania.

The view couldn’t be more appealing.  Note the church, the windmill and the homes along the sea.
Ocean views from the veranda.

On Monday morning we drove the short distance up a steep hill to easily find Gerard’s rock and roll music themed B&B.  Visiting this creatively designed and meticulously maintained holiday home, equipped with the latest amenities, put a smile on our faces during our hour long tour and thereafter.

This modern day jukebox uses CDs from Gerard’s vast collection.

Gerard left no stone unturned in ensuring his guests receive an experience they’ll long remember at reasonable pricing with accommodations for one, two or more guests, up to as many as 10 or more if required.

Music buffs are enthralled with this extensive collection.

Gerard, a music enthusiast, though not a musician, had conceived of this idea of a music themed B&B several years ago, bringing the concept to fruition over four years ago after considerable expense, effort and creativity.

Music in the background, if desired and breathtaking views of the town and sea are easily available when dining in High on Penguin.

Nothing was spared in the design of this inviting and comfortable establishment that even without the rock and rock theme would be an exquisite holiday home.  Add his thought provoking theme and magic happens the moment the visitor pulls up in the driveway.

This well equipped kitchen has modern appliances and amenities.

The concept of many B&Bs have changed over the years in part due to the advent of the Internet where travelers from throughout the world can easily access an endless array of available options for their chosen destinations.

The walls throughout the property are adorned with rock and roll memorabilia.

Many perceive that B&Bs offer guests a room to rent in a multi bedroom home, sharing a bath and dining for breakfast in a communal dining area with the meal prepared by an on-site owner who fusses to ensure a good experience.  In some cases a communal living room/salon is available to provide the short term renter with a homey feel.

Each of the bedrooms have comfortable beds, bedding, storage space and views.

In many cases in today’s world, this perception had escalated to the use of an entire house or portion of a house with cooking facilities, lounge areas and total privacy from the on-site owner. 

Imagine awakening to this view!

Picturesque view from the Bob Dylan Room.

This is the case in Gerard’s High on Penguin property with pricing based on the number of renters occupying the property at any given time, making it affordable for one traveler, 10 or more.

Alternate living room/salon located in the spacious B&B.

As for the rock and roll theme, one might consider it a bonus when the property stands alone on its own merits in its many offerings and pricing, details which may be found at Gerard’s AirBnB’s listing.

It would be easy to spend hours perusing the wall décor and various memorabilia.

From the aptly named signs on each of the five bedrooms doors including the Bob Dylan Room, the Jimi Hendrix Room, the Janis Joplin Room, the Neil Young Room and the Joni Mitchell Room, each is adorned with its appropriate share of authentic memorabilia.  

Gerard left no stone unturned in ensuring an authentic rock and roll experience
for each visitor.

Whether its the modern Wurlitzer jukebox which uses CDs from a massive collection to the custom made side tables with vinyl records under glass, High on Penguin is without a doubt, over-the-top.

There are three of these glass covered “vinyl” tables in a lounge area, all
handmade by a friend of Gerard’s.
Note the guitar shaped wine rack.

During our tour, we both found our eyes flitting from corner to corner, finding one interesting and unusual amenity after another.  Whether it was the well stocked refrigerator with breakfast items for the renter to prepare at their leisure to the expansive views of Penguin and the sea, High on Penguin has it all. 

Music wafting through the air, a frosty local beer in hand and a view of the sea.  What more could a traveler require for a diverse experience?

For hours after we’d left Gerard’s fabulous property, we continued to reel over the delightful opportunity to see this special property, meet this creative local resident and, from the driveway of our own beautiful vacation home, only look up the hill to see High on Penguin.

Another amazing view from a guest room.
More views of Penguin.

Be well, dear readers.  Be happy! Be high on life!


Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2015:

The couples were in sync while dancing the traditional Bollywood performance at the Uprising Restaurant in Pacific Harbour, Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

Another week races by…Why does time fly fast when we’re older…Living in the moment…More photos from Princeville Ranch…

Curly’s stories of building the ranch, its history, its activities, and the grass-fed cattle business were varied and interesting. In this shot, he was pointing to the sea. We turned around to see the beauty of the ocean at a distance, another fabulous aspect of the Princeville Ranch.

Why does time seem to fly by us quickly when we’re hunkered down, having seen most of the local sights, findings ourselves settled into a routine? When perusing online for various answers to this question, I discovered a few answers that attempt to satisfy my curiosity.

The horse ranch is often busy with tourists riding out on guided tours of the Princeville Ranch.

This answer from an issue of Psychology Today provided me with a few possibilities such as this writer’s comments as follows:

Tom was thoroughly enjoying our tour of the Princeville Ranch.

“So what is the key to time perception? The routine makes time go faster, unique, and memorable events slow down time. Although there is comfort in routine, it does make time fly. So, if you want to “slow down” time, and make your days last longer, change the routine. Create unique experiences for each one. You can also engage in greater mindfulness by focusing on and savoring each passing moment. The old adage of “live for the moment” is the key to slowing down those quickly passing years.”

This is the off-road vehicle in which we toured the Princeville Ranch.

This philosophy may actually hold true. For Tom and I, it feels particularly glaring, when our routine is one of frequent change, moving every few months. Adding the frequent exploring, meeting new people, having new experiences and one would think time would almost stand still for us. 

The scenery was astounding in every direction.

We often marvel at how quickly the time flies, as we say, “when we’re having fun” which we’ve surely had plenty of these past years. It was early in 2012 when we first decided to travel the world in our retirement. It’s hard for us to believe that it’s well into 2015 as we continue on, still so excited and full of hope for the future. 

The colors in this scene took our breath away.

Yes, the time has flown too quickly. But, the memories have been rich, the experiences action-packed, and the planning well into the future filled with anticipation and wonder.

A few days ago, in the background, I heard Tom repeat one of my favorite expressions, “Love the One You’re With,” a popular song from 1970 by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. If you don’t recall the song, click here for the video.

The sea at a distance.

Hearing him use this expression in a conversation with others made me smile as I quickly turned my head back to the person I was listening to. I was smiling over the irony of these simple words, prevalent in our lives in many ways, one in loving each other, letting the past waft away and two, in stopping to live in the moment wherever we may be, essentially, loving the one we’re with.

Another vehicle loaded with friends of Curly’s daughter, Karin were also on a tour of the expansive 2500 acre property.

It is through this appreciation of the moment, that time has the potential to slow down for us giving us the glorious opportunity to savor the moment, the place, and the experience for whatever treasures large and small it may offer for our taking.

A family was on a tour in another vehicle driven by Curly’s daughter Karin. When they exited the off-road vehicle, two toddlers took off running down a steep hill. The mom had to do everything to entice them to come back up the hill when they were having such fun.

As I sit here writing now with 59 days remaining of our time in Hawaii (I use this app to figure that out), I hear the roosters crowing, the birds singing, and see the clouds wafting about the mountaintops. If I step outdoors onto the lanai I can see Hanalei Bay and its aquamarine waters, a color seldom found anywhere else in nature.

Although there were trails such as this on the property we often went off-road to get a better look at the property.

And Tom, at the moment is across the street whale watching as he does several times each day, chatting with his new buddies, shooting the breeze as guys often do, I revel in his few minutes of freedom from me. He’s living in the moment.

A young calf checking out the forest.

Suddenly, the door flies open and he’s standing there with a big smile on his face greeting me with a sense of enthusiasm as if he’d be away for days and once again, I’m reminded, “Love the One You’re With” which he does with vigor each and every day. Then again, I do so as well.

An angry-looking bull stared at us as we drove by.  However, that angry look is nothing more than the structure of these bull’s faces. He’d showed little interest in me when I stepped out of the vehicle to take this photo.

Tonight, we’re out to dinner with new friends for the third time this week with one more social event upcoming with friend Richard on Saturday night.  Hey, Father Time, pay attention to the line from Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy,” which states “slow down, you move too fast.” 

Let us savor the moment!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2014:

It was one year ago that Samir and Mohamed took us on a tour of Marrakech to see various points of interest. Of course, seeing this baby camel was a special thrill. For details and more photos from part two of that tour, please click here.