We lost a dear friend…Saying goodbye from afar…

Lane and Peggy and their beloved dog.

Yesterday morning, we lost a friend, Lane Barton, a prince of a man. 

How easily we extol the virtues of those who pass from this world with our well-intentioned popular phrase of the past 20 years, “We’re sorry for your loss,” words that I’ve come to find redundant and monotone for a lack of the use of a more meaningful expression. 

How easily, “they,” say the person who has passed was good and kind and loving. Often, whether he or she was or was not, out of some form of reverence for those who have passed. 

But, Lane Barton, was good and kind and loving.  When he walked into a room, all eyes averted to him, waiting to hear what morsel of wisdom, humor, or hearty welcome he easily had on the tip of his tongue ready to spew to the audience on hand, eliciting a bout of laughter, or a rush of warmth, flooding through the heart. He was a prince of a man.

His family? His greatest treasure. With Peggy, his wife at his side for 50 years (they recently celebrated their 50th), they personified a couple to be reckoned with, a couple to aspire to, in their love and adoration of one another; relentless, strong, never wavering.  It was easy to be with them as a couple, independent and individual, yet united and unstoppable. 

To their two daughters, Tricia and Lisa, he was a prince of a man. Attentive, in tuned, and in touch he was loved and loved back, cherished and revered by them, for them, along with his grandchildren and other family members and friends. He will be missed. He will be remembered.

Lane and Peggy spent considerable time in Duluth, lovingly caring for Peggy’s Mom. Lane was the epitome of a fine son-in-law. never wavering in his commitment to family and friends.

Almost twenty-three years ago, I met Lane and Peggy, shortly after I’d met Tom. They were “friends of a friend.” You know the drill, with “friends of a friend,” tread lightly, be inclusive of the first friend. But, selfishly, we couldn’t share. We wanted them to ourselves.

As our friendship blossomed, I couldn’t wait for them to meet Tom and vice versa to share in this mutual connection. Tom was working “on the road” for the railroad, often gone for days, back for short stints, only to be gone again. We’d set up several dates for the four of us to get together only to be disappointed when Tom was suddenly called away shortly before our scheduled time.

I’d get together with Lane and Peggy anyway, never feeling like a third wheel when Lane had this magical way of making everyone feel inclusive. After several attempts to meet Tom, they finally met at a prearranged dinner party I had hosted. Lane vigorously pumped Tom’s hand saying, “You are real! I was beginning to think you were a figment of Jess’s imagination!” We all laughed as we often did in times to come.

And the magic continued with the four of us chatting endlessly time after time, no subject taboo, no words left unsaid, often all of us speaking simultaneously and yet, all of us somehow engaged in an animated four-way conversation. 

As the years rolled by, we often socialized at our home, on occasions at theirs, sharing deep thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, and frustrations. Oddly, we talked little about our hobbies, our recent trips, or our favorite movies. Instead, immediately in each other’s presence, we delved into the “meat” of our lives, the funny stories, the sorrows, and the joys.

No matter the topic, Lane always had a twinkle in his eye. He loved not only the people in his life but savoring and cooking good food, having good friends, playing with his old cars, his home, photography and so much more.  

Lane loved his dogs. There’s something to be said about us, animal lovers. We seem to find one another, relishing in the ability to seek the joy one receives from a beloved pet; unconditional, unfettered with needs other than love and nourishment. 

And, that was Lane, love, and nourishment. His love fed our hearts as he freely nourished our minds and our souls, always to remain and never to be forgotten. And, now we must say goodbye. He was a prince of a man. 


Photos from one year ago today, May 4, 2013, won’t be shown today.  Please click on this link to see the story and photos from our day in Marseilles, France.

Wow!…Scary insect….Wow!…Tom Lyman…Wow!…Amazing reader’s comment!

After days of rain, last night this ugly thing came for a visit only inches from Tom’s bare feet. We’d always heard that bugs with red coloration on them indicated it is poisonous. This millipede is only poisonous to insects that it consumes, only leaving an itchy streak on a human if it walks over bare skin. No thanks. Tom picked it up with the dustpan and brush, tossing it well out into the yard.

Yesterday, a rainy 100% humidity day, prompted me to hide the camera from the moisture except for these few photos. The clothing we were wearing was damp, our insulated never-sweat mugs left puddles of water beneath them and my everyday leather Keds that I’d bleached and washed on Monday were still wet.

I had to soak my white leather shoes in soapy bleach water when I found little bugs living in them, not previously visible to the naked eye. No wonder I was always scratching the bottoms of my feet when wearing them. But, I couldn’t see the little bugs until the population grew to the size of a city. Yuck!

These comfy leather Keds, my everyday shoes, recently became infested with tiny biting bugs. Bleached, clean, and free of bugs, its been 4 days and they’re still wet.

Surely, soaking them for an hour in bleach with a subsequent lengthy hot water rinsing has solved the problem, if they’ll ever dry in this humid air.  If they take much longer to dry, mold will set in. 

The deck of playing cards we’ve been using to play Gin, that we’d grabbed out of our old house kitchen junk drawer, are now moldy. Apparently, they aren’t coated with enough plastic and have become moldy in this humidity. They aren’t washable. If only we’d thought of bringing high-quality washable plastic-coated cards. Who knew?

Our moldy playing cards, a result of the high humidity in Kenya.  We’ll toss these when we leave Kenya, opening a fresh deck once we get settled in South Africa where it also will be hot and humid. 

We’ve taken to thoroughly washing our hands after playing cards. With only one same type of deck of cards left, we’re trying the make these last until the day we leave Kenya, in 22 more days. There are no playing cards for sale in the stores in Diani Beach.

Besides, Tom beat me at Gin all the way through Italy. It appears as if he’ll do the same in Kenya.

Tom, after dinner last night in our outdoor living room as we were watching the latest episode of “Dancing with the Stars” on my laptop.  We usually dine out on Thursdays.  But, it was raining too hard to once-again walk the long, treacherous unlighted, uneven paths from the taxi to the restaurants in the pouring rain.
Reader comments mean the world to us.  Isolated from family and friends, any comments, questions, and suggestions are important to us.  When a comment is posted on the site it first arrives in my inbox for me to decide if it is appropriate to post. 
At times, we get comments from advertisers promoting products of questionable nature or products in general that are considered SPAM. I delete those, not wanting our readers subjected to these on our blog cluttered with junk. However, we do post most reader comments which overall are kind and thoughtful. 
Yesterday, one of our most dedicated readers wrote one of the kindest comments we’ve seen so far, that truly warmed our hearts. Pat and Dan, a lovely couple we met on the Norwegian Epic which embarked on April 20, 2013, also shared the scary three-day, 50-foot wave experience, a memorable Atlantic crossing for us all.

Here’s the link to Pat and Dan’s comment if you’d like to read it. 

Another comment we received a few days ago can be found on this link from a delightful young woman I met through posting who is from our old home state of Minnesota. Ashley has been a joy to communicate with back and forth as it has been with Pat and Dan and many others. 

Thanks to everyone for their comments and to you lurkers, like I used to be for years prior to writing here, please keep reading. We’re always amazed at how many readers actually read about our mundane days. But then again, we all have mundane days. I wouldn’t mind reading about what others do on such days to entertain themselves. Care to share???

(Comments are posted at the end of each post. If interested in reading them, scroll down through other posts to find more).

Socializing in the world…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate!
Happy birthday, Richard!

The sunrise this morning, after several cloudy mornings.

Yesterday, while lounging at the pool as the blazing sun finally peeked out through the dark billowy clouds, it dawned on us that our social life at Laru Beya has been more than we could have imagined.
Not only have we enjoyed the company of various guests coming and going on their one to two-week vacations, but we’ve had the pleasure of making new friends we hope to see again in the future.  After another great evening together on Friday night, we’ve delighted in our remarkable good fortune in making such fine friends.

In the future, living in various vacation homes throughout the world, we’ll have less of an opportunity to make new friends.  In most cases, we’ll be living in single-family homes often in remote areas.

In the case of South Africa, we’ll be a mile from the next closest house, although many braais (South African barbecues) are planned frequently in Marloth and Kruger Parks, as well as safaris and night, walk with guests staying in other houses and lodges.

Are we intimidated by the potential isolation?  We discussed this yesterday by the pool, after having been spoiled by living here and on our past two cruises, a virtual plethora of endless social interactions.

After all, both Tom and I are social butterflies, flitting about, seeking the sweet nectar of friendship, always a vital element in our lives both as individuals and as a couple. As with many of you, we have friends over a span of decades, from our youth, our work, and our neighborhoods.

Many remain in our hearts as sorrowful losses, having left us and their loved ones, too soon for their time.  Others have moved away not staying in close touch, as often happens. Some experience life changes causing them to step back from close relationships, no matter how often we reach out. 

Hello, sunny morning at last!

And others, they become and remain a part of the foundation of our lives.  Time passing with nary a peep to suddenly appear filling the air with memories, love, and laughter.  Ah, friendship.  A gift.  A treasure.

Isolated we will be, in Tuscany, Italy, in Kenya, in South Africa, and on the island of Madeira, Portugal.  There will be no shared pool or communal dining rooms beckoning new friendships to blossom.  There will be no neighbors in close proximity, like us, visitors for a short time, borrowing their culture, their morays, and a glimpse into their lifestyle. 

As we recall our two months in Scottsdale, Arizona, from November 4, 2012, to January 1, 2013, in a lovely condo complex with snowbirds yet to arrive for their winter break, we made no new friends, although we had an opportunity on several occasions to visit with three of Tom’s sisters and two spouses, a mere 35 minutes drive. 

The weather in Scottsdale, too cool for the pool, we languished in walks, dining out, and busying ourselves in our continuing endless planning for the future. We had a fabulous time, as we will again, however remote we may be.

Staying on our veranda to avoid gawking or disturbing, we took this photo of a wedding through the trees taking place next door.

Knowing that many of our friends and family members are sharing this experience with us brings great comfort.  Many of them stay in touch via Facebook, email, and Skype. Recently, Tom received a Skype call with video while several of his retired Minnesota railroad friends met for their usual weekly breakfast. It was almost as if he were there, sitting in the big booth, sipping hot cups of coffee with laughter and idle chatter ringing through the air.  Ah, friendship.

The fortunate part of it all, my best friend will always be at my side wherever we may be nurturing, comforting, laughing, playing, and reveling in the wonders of today and that which is yet to come tomorrow. A gift. A treasure.