Two days and counting…Time to say goodbye…Tomorrow, final expenses for six weeks in Minnesota…

Miles, Madighan, Maisie, Camille, and Greg in front of our hotel yesterday.

The 4th of July was a good day for us although we spent little time engaged in the usual activities. As we wound down our last few days before leaving Minnesota, our priorities revolve around spending quality time together.

Yesterday morning, son Greg, daughter-in-law Camille, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan arrived at our hotel in time for the complimentary buffet breakfast. When we booked this hotel, Country Inn & Suites in Plymouth, we included a total of five of us in the reservation.

The Port of Excelsior, our former downtown.

In doing so, we’d be able to have any of our six grandchildren come for breakfast at no extra charge and swim in one of the two indoor swimming pools. This idea proved to be ideal when at one point or another, any of our three families visited us; Tom’s son TJ’s family of four, Tom’s daughter Tammy’s family of three, and my son Greg’s family of five.

In checking with the kindly hotel general manager, since more mornings than not, it was just Tom and me for breakfast, there was no additional charge when any of our family members came for the breakfast and pool time. Also, based on our long-term six-week stay, this wasn’t an issue. 

 Miles, Madighan (front), with me, Maisie, Camille, and Greg.

After all, most guests check-in and back out after about three days. We have undoubtedly been the exception with this long-term stay.  We’ll be preparing a more comprehensive review on our last day, Friday, when we’ll leave to fly to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the next leg in our US visit, the first in almost five years.

This is where I took Willie for his haircuts.

The three families were with us in Hawaii at Christmas/New Year 2014/2015, but now, as we head to Nevada, we won’t have seen son Richard and my sister Susan since Christmas 2012, a very long time. 

Of course, I’m excited to get to Nevada, although we’ve stayed in close touch over these last almost five years through Skype and Facebook’s Messenger, an easy-to-use “text” type communication medium.

There are many quaint shops in Excelsior.

Now, we continue saying goodbye after yesterday’s day with Greg’s family, which ended up with us coming to dinner for a fabulous meal of grilled steaks, skewered veggies, and salad. 

Not only did we enjoy the home-cooked meal, but after the meal ended, we loved hanging outside near the bonfire with Camille, Greg, and the three kids. Before dark, we decided to head back to our hotel, knowing it was time to say goodbye. 

Upscale clothing store.

The next few days would be spent saying goodbye to all of our other family members, including Tom’s siblings, on Thursday night when we attend the usual barbecue at his sister Mary’s home. 

Today, Tom will pick up Vincent, and he’ll spend the afternoon and evening with us. At 8:00 pm we’ll meet Tammy for dinner at a restaurant and say our goodbyes. On Thursday evening. After we leave the barbecue, we’ll stop at TJ’s home to say goodbye to TJ, Sarah, Nik, and Jayden.

Many of the storefronts in downtown Excelsior had changed over the years.

Saying goodbye isn’t easy. It wasn’t when we left on Halloween 2012, and it’s not easy now. But, our hearts are filled with love that will carry us through for the next few years until we return in 2019 for another visit. In the interim, we’ll all stay in touch.

Leopold’s is an exciting hardware type of store with parts for literally all household goods.

If it weren’t for the magic of the Internet, such a long time away could be heartbreaking. Able to see their faces on Skype, their photos, and experiences on Facebook and have conversations online all make it considerably more manageable than it would have been long before technology facilitated the ease of staying in touch.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our final expenses for the six weeks we spent in Minnesota, and on Friday, our travel day, we’ll include a post with a review of the hotel and any notes on our final goodbyes. 

Not a good photo as we whizzed past the Dock Cinema, where my sons and I often attended movies when they were young.

Thanks to all of our readers for bearing with us through this intense family time. It’s odd that I ever assumed we’d be able to “entertain” our readers with peripheral topics instead of our continual family time. What was I thinking? It all became way more important than photo-taking and sightseeing. In a mere 26 days, we’ll certainly be back to THAT! 

Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2016:

This clawfoot tub is just what I needed for soaking when we arrived at the five-star hotel, the Sofitel Legend Metropole, located in Hanoi, where we stayed for five nights before the Mekong River Cruise. For more details and photos, please click here.

I cut Tom’s hair…Nightmare or nirvana?…The loss of a dear friend, one year ago…

Birdie’s hair standing up.

Included in our recent arrival of clothing and supplies were a Wahl Hair Clipper and all of its attachments and an electric shaver. Tom was tired of paying $29 or more for a small package of blades, often unable to find the correct blades for the shaver, especially in other countries. 

The Norelco, AT790 Rechargeable Cordless Tripleheader Razor was his choice of a razor, a product he finds perfect for his needs. In six months it pays for itself. If it holds up for a few years he’ll be happy.

When I saw the Wahl electric clippers I chuckled. Guess I’ll be learning how to cut his hair. Our readers may wonder, “Why doesn’t he continue to get haircuts wherever we may live?” Why it is such a big deal?

For men who get their hair cut every six weeks or so they find they have a preferred barber or stylist at a location generally close to home that becomes familiar and competent with how he’d like to have his hair cut.

Tom’s hair standing up before the haircut.

That’s not the case in our vagabond lifestyle. As soon as he finds a barber he likes, it’s time to go again.  Overall, he’s been OK about most of the haircuts he’s had in our travels. But, the inconsistency has left him cold.

Why he would make an assumption that I’d give him a consistently good haircut escapes me when I falter in small hand skills, mostly from being inept and secondly, from being somewhat clumsy at times. What kind of consistency can I offer him?

As it goes, my nature is always to try hard and never give up. Tom knows this about me giving him confidence that eventually I’ll figure it out.  I may not be the best barber at first, but eventually, I’ll get it right. I suppose it’s similar to me learning how to take photos with no prior experience. It’s a work in progress.

Not one to read instructions, yesterday I bit the bullet and watched a few videos on how to do a buzz cut or short haircut with the electric clippers, using scissors for a final touch up. Then, I actually read the instructions included in the Wahl package. 

Later in the day, I trimmed the stray hairs with scissors. Overall, an improvement.

It’s hard to recall the last time I’d taken the time to read instructions. Perhaps, it was the last time I purchased a new car and had to look in the manual for how to change the time on the digital clock. The rest I figured out on my own, more as a result of stubbornness, less from innate skill. 

I suppose my refusal to read instructions is more about bullheadedness and arrogance when one believes they “know it all” or at least “can figure it all out. Arrogance, snobbery, or not, I usually can figure things out. On the other hand, Tom is equally good, if not better than l am at figuring things out but, won’t hesitate to look at an instruction manual.

Last month neither Richard, Tom, nor I could figure out how to turn on the oven in Richard’s house. Elaine was on the mainland and we were left trying to figure out how to avoid locking the oven while turning it on. None of us could get it figured out. Instead, Richard used the microwave. It bugged me that I couldn’t simply look at the dials and turn on the oven. Tom never gave it another thought. Later, Richard read the manual and figured out how to turn on the oven. 

We’ve had trouble with ovens and washing machines in non-English speaking countries. However, in each case, we managed to get these appliances working after trying over and over with determination. Staying calm in these situations can be difficult but, over these past few years, we’ve learned that staying cool is vital to success.

Hand me a small electronic device or computer and I’m usually able to find fixes without stress. Those darned ovens and washers baffle me. In both Italy and Dubai, we struggled with the ovens and washers, somehow managing to get them working. 

The Wahl trimmer along with lots of accessories. In time, we’ll be able to toss some of these once we figure it out.

Anyway, after careful perusal of how to use the clippers, we prepared the bathroom by removing the two rugs and the luggage/person scale, closing the closet door with everything we needed on hand.

Tom put the barstool in the bathroom which was a little too high for my reach although better than with him sitting in a regular height chair. Next time, wherever we may be, we may be wise to use a regular chair and have him sit on something to raise him up about 6 inches. 

I’d expected to be a little nervous when I turned on the razor and took the first swipe. I wasn’t. If I botched it, we had three weeks for it to grow back for the upcoming cruise and with a plan not to do a buzz cut, we could have that as our “ace in the hole.” A buzz cut would remove any cutting errors if short enough.

We used the 1″ comb. Luckily, Tom had to take off his glasses so he couldn’t see well enough to coach me.  Leaving an inch of hair isn’t as easy as one might expect using this apparatus. Snipping my own bangs and hair with sharp scissors isn’t anything like using this powerful electric tool. Any skills I’ve had there were useless with those clippers in my hands.

This electric razor has a flip-up sideburn cutting blade which works very well.

The amount of hair that came off his head was unreal. He didn’t squirm, complain, or sound worried. When I missed a spot, I made no big deal nor did I say anything when I cut too much in hopes of preventing him from worrying.

When all was said and done, we cleaned up the mess and he took a shower. Once his hair dried we made an assessment. It was good, not great. I’ll learn. I have no qualms about cutting his hair again in the future.

As we’d assumed, throughout the remainder of the day, I’d look at him from the side to notice a few stray hairs or unevenness. On a few occasions, we went outside on the lanai where I snipped with the scissors, evening out the flaws. 

His patience and lack of criticism made all the difference in the world inspiring me to improve. Isn’t that true with everyone we love? Inspiration comes from our own desire to excel and to please those we love. Would that all of us could have experienced this in our own upbringing and in the upbringing of our children. I cringe over the times my expectations were too high.

There it is, dear readers, the home done haircut saga. I doubt we’ll write about this much in the future no more than one extols the virtues of cutting an even lawn when one mows. This first experience was a momentous occasion for us both.

In 19 days, we leave Kauai. In 20 days, we leave the US for the next few years. Thanks for being here with us. Have a great Monday!

                                                Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we wrote about the loss of dear friend Lane Barton who passed away the prior day, shown here with his beloved wife Peggy and their dog. For more on this story, please click here.

Julie’s last moments in Kauai…Tender…Touching…Terrific…A brilliant sunset!…

Oh, sun, what you do to us in our perpetual pursuit of the perfect sunset.

Yesterday, Julie and I returned to several of her favorite spots before she had to leave for the airport to return to her home in Los Angeles, California.  We revisited several of her favorite spots; the town on Hanalei for another sushi roll at the fish market behind Dolphin restaurant; a visit to see the Laysan albatross chicks and their parents; a stop at the overlook on the road to Hanalei.

A view of few tide pools from the grounds of the condos across the street.

She went with me on her last trip to the Princeville Center to the Foodland grocery store to buy ingredients to make a pu pu to share for tonight’s movie night at Bev and Sam’s home.  It will be the last movie night for us with our pending upcoming departure in two months.

Hideaway’s Beach at dusk.

A trip to Foodland became a laugh fest for Julie and I with the parking lot always filled with hens, chicks and roosters scurrying about hoping for a crumb from shoppers and diners from the various nearby cafes and restaurants. 

In a good spot to see the sunset, we couldn’t help but relish this view.

We laughed a lot about the chickens which are found everywhere one goes in Kauai, whether the parking lot at a market, a farmer’s market, a roadside stand, the sand at the beach or on the side of the road as one drives in any direction.

Although some locals protest over their annoyance, most are tolerant and some even find them endearing as we do.  Their constant presence is another reason for Kauai’s charm, found in every direction, down every road.

What a view!

To add to Julie’s final day, I made a dinner of corned beef and cabbage which I’d hoped to make on St. Patrick’s Day when instead we went out to dinner, the three of us and friend Richard.  With her flight not until 10:00 pm, it all worked out well.

A week ago, Foodland had offered a coupon that could be used for a free uncooked corned beef, you know, the one in the plastic with the little packet of spices along with a head of cabbage.  Of course, I used my “accumulated points” on my rewards card for the corned beef and head of cabbage.

Every Friday evening around sunset, we can see Norwegian’s Pride of America at over a mile from shore, as it passes on it’s week long cruise throughout all of the Hawaiian Islands.

When Julie and I returned from the grocery store, we noticed extra pairs of shoes outside our door upon entering.  Opening the door we saw Tom sitting at our dining table with a couple he’d met across the street at the lookout when he was whale watching, somewhat of an obsession he’s taken up this past months.

There sat Cheryl and Paul, a lovely couple, a bit younger than us, who by coincidence were also from Minnesota.  Tom had invited them over when pelting rain suddenly poured from the sky as they all were whale watching.

Yesterday, it rained most of the day and dark clouds were still looming.

The lively conversation was easy to step into.  They stayed for another hour as we exchanged email addresses hoping to be in touch before they leave in another week.  How funny!  My hubby “picking up” a lovely couple and bringing them home in the rain.  That’s my guy!

Adding to last night’s dinner was the leftover homemade German Chocolate cake that both Julie and Tom savored over a few days.  I also included those giant Grands biscuits, a treat for Julie and Tom, boiled potatoes and rainbow carrots cooked in the pot during the last 90 minutes. 

As the sun makes it’s final descent.  Its hard to believe how quickly the sunset disappears from sight.

We savored the dinner at 6:00 pm to ensure Julie had plenty of time for last minute details and for us to take a quick trip across the road to see the sunset from the grounds of the condo complex.  This explains today’s sunset photos.

A stunning view of Holes 6 and 7 at the Makai Golf Course that overlooks the ocean.

Saying goodbye to Julie we wondered when we’d see each other again when our plans include two years in the South Pacific, a very long distance from the US.  I held back the tears in an effort to stay strong for my younger sister (eight years), but she succumbed, sad and bereft over what the future holds as to when we’ll see each other once again.

A long Kolea bird on the grass at our feet.

I’ve often reminded her that on occasion with her living in Los Angeles and us in Minnesota, there were many periods of time that we wouldn’t see each other for a few years, staying in close touch by phone as we do now.  But, she says, that’s different.  We’ll be so far away.  We understand.  Its the nature of our lives.

Shortly after taking the above photos, Tom quickly drove us over to his favorite lookout spot when we got these final shot.  We don’t know the guy in this photo.

Now, Tom and I are settled back into our easy routine, firmly ensconced in our pleasant day to day lives, free of stress and worry, filled with the joy of our exquisite current surroundings and possessing a twinkle in our eyes of what is yet to come.

Moments later, darkness fell and we wandered back indoors.

Today, we’ll clean our condo and I’ll make our pu pu for tonight, a apricot almond Brie en croute with a variety of crackers.  Its nothing I can eat but perhaps a bite of last night’s leftovers of tender corned beef, cabbage and carrots will be on the menu before we head out the door.

Its Saturday night!  Enjoy!

Photo from one year ago today, March 21, 2014:

As we’ve traveled the world, we’ve made a point of watching movies about the country in which we’re living.  A year ago living in Morocco, we watched one of my favorite movies, Casablanca which was a first for Tom.  For details from that date, please click here.

Saying goodbye to all of our friends, human and animal…Saying goodbye to Marloth Park and South Africa…

Tangled necks!  Love it!
Yesterday, as we approached the 13 giraffes, we were all excited!
As they began to gather…


As they began to untangle…

By far, this is the most difficult of all of the goodbyes since leaving the US many moons ago. Tonight will be our last night’s dinner at Jabula Lodge. Okee Dokee will join us as our guest trying to squeeze out every last moment with her. Saying goodbye to her, to Zeff today, to Dawn and Leon tonight and to Louise and Danie tomorrow, won’t be easy. 

Giraffes hogging the road. We happily waited for them to move.
“Oh, oh, I’d better get out of the way!”

At 4:00 pm today, Okee Dokee will pick us up to head to the Crocodile River one last time to say goodbye to the wildlife in Kruger National Park. 

Mr. Tree Frog sits on his perch in the rafters, returning for the sixth time in these past few weeks at the African Reunion House, staring at us most of the day, occasionally closing his eyes for a nap. 

Clive, our friendly neighborhood Ostrich, was hanging out in the driveway of the same house where we’d first met him, almost three months ago. He also visited us at the little house.
Life is simple for Clive as he wanders about, visiting houses, foraging for vegetation with a “bird’s eye view” of the world.

At 4:00 am I awoke to the sound of him wildly croaking, simply being a frog. If anything, my attachment to him is as if he were a representative for all the “small things” that have brought us so much joy in Marloth Park, let alone the “big things.”

Our resident tree frog continues to watch us most days. He ventures off this ledge in the ceiling of the veranda every few days for food and water, returning to this exact spot. We’ve counted six return visits thus far. How does one find it difficult to say goodbye to a frog? With the same childlike wonder, we all possessed at one time, that freely come to the surface when living in this wonderland.

Mrs. Warthog and babies stopped by several times yesterday as if she knows we’re leaving soon. We hope to see them one more time.

Giraffe at sunset.

The photos we’re posting today were taken yesterday morning when Louise and Danie picked us up at the tented lodge. Only a few blocks from the African Reunion House, we were “gifted” with a few joy-filled sightings; 13 giraffes near the road, “Clive,” the ostrich, and later in the day, two giraffes walking through the yard on a mission. 

These two were more interested in this tasty bush than us taking photos with flash as night fell.

I was on a Skype call with my sister and didn’t take photos, instead, describing every detail to her as they raced through the yard. (We don’t always use video on Skype to keep data use under control when talking to grownups).

Packed? Almost done. Yesterday, I tossed out no less than 10 pounds, 4.5 kg of old worn clothing. I think the weight of my bags will be OK. It’s funny how I now have little interest in clothing, shoes, and accessories, only needing enough until the next wash cycle.

A few minutes ago, Tom asked me if I feel sad about leaving. I do. I know that once the guy meets us at the taxi stand (no cars allowed in the Medina) with the little wooden cart to wheel our luggage the 10-minute walk to our new home, Dar Aicha, in Marrakesh, Morocco, where we’ll reside for the next two and a half months, I’ll be smiling and once again taking photos.

See if you can find five giraffe heads popping up in the bush!

But, the memories of Marloth Park, Kruger Park, and South Africa will linger in our hearts and minds forever, eternally grateful for the experience. We’ve changed in many ways from our time in South Africa, and again in Kenya. How we’ve changed has not been easy to describe.

We’ve become more tolerant of discomfort, more attune to our surroundings, more appreciative of the perfection that God created (or whatever or whomever you may believe as our maker) when He created us, His creatures, and His vegetation, all which is magical in the manner in which it relates to our universe.

For only a second, he picked up his head out from this bush.

We’ve come to understand that the oldest human remains found on this planet were found in Africa, known as the “Cradle of Mankind.”  The science and history are clear. It’s no wonder to me that I’ve felt a powerful sensation of being “home” while in Africa. Perhaps, that infinitesimal aspect of our DNA explains this phenomenon for me.

I’ve come to better understand my way of eating while in Africa while watching the animals forage for what their bodies need. Man/woman was intended to eat the available food in their environment, the hunter-gatherer concept; meat and vegetation, the core of my daily diet. 

It’s all here in Africa, the vast array of nuts growing wild and farmed, the free-range chickens and resulting eggs, the grass-fed meat, and a plethora of vegetation befitting human consumption, easily grown in the chemical-free fertile soil in a land that overall, abhors chemicals in food. 

Thus, dear readers, we continue on…on to our unknown future, less fearful, more accepting, more at peace than ever before. We hope and pray for safe travel, however long and discomfited, to bring us to our next location, eyes wide open, full of wonder, and grateful to be alive.

Note: Tomorrow, before leaving for the airport in the early afternoon, we’ll post the total of final expenses for the three months we’ve spent in South Africa. As we travel to Morocco, we’ll be posting at varying times, in real-time, as to the progress on our 29-hour journey, while on four separate flights as we transverse the continent of Africa.

Close to our house, this giraffe was checking us out.  Unless a lion or leopard sneaks into Marloth Park (which happened a few times during our stay) there is little danger for most of the wildlife which primarily is herbivores. Their natural instinct keeps them constantly on the lookout for predators.  Lions and leopards can take down a giraffe.

Goodbye party with our Minnesota friends…

There’s something magical about the sunset over water anywhere in the world.
As darkness falls, the sunset drew all of our attention.

It was a small gathering of friends to celebrate the almost completed new construction house that we described in the post of March 7th and to say goodbye “for now,” as Nancy and Roger, our new Minnesota friends departed Belize this morning.

From left to right, Ian, Bill, Nancy, and Roger, celebrating friendship and the near completion of the amazing home they’ve built.

See our post of March 7th in the archives on the right side of our homepage in our blog for details on this artfully designed and meticulously built single-family residence, listed on MLS in Belize.

The temperature was comfortable, the no-see-ums less active and the sunset breathtaking as we stood atop the architecturally interesting outdoor bar of the new home our friends are building, overlooking the lagoon and marina.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening.

In attendance beside Tom and I; Nancy and Roger; Bill, lifelong friend of Roger and construction manager on the house; Rene, the manager here at LaruBeya; Ian, a partner in the new house and builder, developer and owner of LaruBeya and  Al, owner of a substantial dredging company in Belize. The first five of us from Minnesota, the remaining three, all born and raised in Belize.

Tom and I at last night’s party.
That’s my guy!  The photo he took of me was so blurry that I didn’t post it, to avoid causing our readers dizzying effects.
A common thread we’ve heard time and again from citizens of Belize has been the love of their country. Often they’ve traveled to other lands for periods of time, eventually returning to their beloved roots. 

As Ian and I chatted at length, his charming thick Belizean accent in full bloom, he told the story of his college education in the US and his eventual return to his homeland.  As we discovered from many Belizeans, the pace, the traffic, the massive population in big cities throughout the world, was far removed from the reality of their less hurried upbringing.

Ian explained that there are few, if any, nursing homes in Belize. Their “way” is to care for their old and disabled in their own homes and comforting environment, family, and friends banding together to provide the care, the meals, and the maintenance of their familiar surroundings.  What a pleasant thought. 

The wine and beer freely flowed as we nibbled on individual shrimp cocktails adorned with paper umbrellas, chips, and guacamole, all thoughtfully prepared by the chef at LaruBeya

This morning we said our final goodbyes to Nancy and Roger, all of us expressing the joy we experienced in the time we’ve spent together and the commitment to stay in touch. We’ve invited them to visit us wherever we may be so perhaps, once again, we may pick up where we left off, relishing in the treasures of friendship.

As I sit writing this today, only moments ago we heard a small plane flying overhead coming from the direction of the small Placencia airport. Surely, Nancy and Roger were on board as they made their way to the airport in Belize City to fly home to Minnesota. It was only 45 minutes ago we all hugged goodbye in the parking lot.

Thank you, Minnesota friends. Thank you, Belize friends. Thank you for enriching our lives and adding to the wealth of memories filling our hearts and minds forever.

Goodbye party on the point…Thank you…

Saturday, at 4:45 pm, after a laughter and tear-filled day spent with son Greg and daughter-in-law Camille, and going through a lifetime of photos, handing off precious bits of memorabilia, enjoying a homemade low carb gluten free pizza, we realized it was time to get ready and head down the street to our party.  

Scheduled to begin at 5 PM, it was a short walk of only four doors down the road to attend a going away peninsula party, hosted for us by our friend Sue.

Twenty six years of blissful dinner parties, cocktail parties, cocktail cruises on the lake, lawn parties, neighborhood parties, 4th of July celebrations, graduations, holidays and birthday parties.  Ironically, each of the three husbands in every other of five houses in a row on the point were born on December 23rd, which included my Tom, Doug and Chip. Coincidence?

(And most recently, hundreds of friends and family members came to celebrate his life and to grieve the loss of our dear friend Chip, Sue’s loving husband’s memorial service at the nearby University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. He would have wanted a party, but it was hard to celebrate without him there. Then again, he was there in all of our hearts).

The thoughtfulness, the love and the generosity of a friend, amid the throes of such loss, such grief, so zealously decided to throw a party for us. Mind boggling. Beautifully executed. Gluten-free foods for us. Our neighbors, our friends, in attendance, happy for us, wishing us a great adventure, interminable safety and relentless freedom.

We couldn’t have had more fun. Thank you, dear Sue. Thank you dear friends. How lucky and grateful we are.

Sunday morning, we faced yet another day of seemingly endless list of “to do’s.” Starting our day with a big breakfast of free range organic eggs fried in a dab of coconut oil, topped with guacamole, nitrate free bacon, a thick slab of nitrate free ham and organic chicken sausage with spinach and feta cheese, we were fueled for the day.  

Since we started this way of eating almost 15 months ago, we aren’t hungry all day. Formerly grazers, it’s a pleasant sensation to be comfortably satiated all day, free of the endless search for the next “food fix.”  

Eating low carb, gluten/grain/starch/sugar free diet prevents the addictive centers of the brain from crying for a constant fix of high carb foods. Over the past year I’ve been following the new research that is emerging daily clearly defining that our relentless hunger is a result of blood sugar spikes and brain chemistry.  

By eating a moderate protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet, we have found it easy to stop thinking about eating, simply enjoying two delicious and satisfying meals a day. More on this later.

So, we hauled our six orange Antler suitcases to our friend Karen’s home where we will reside from the night of October 24th until the day we leave Minnesota, October 31st.  

The thought of staying in our house during the estate sale seemed preposterous to us and to our estate sale guy, Jim Anderson.  Most likely, the furniture will sell first. If returning during the sale, we’d witness the vacant spot where our two comfy chairs had been or, see strangers traipsing down the road with their arms loaded with our stuff.  No thank you.

It’s unusual for us to stay in another’s home.  We seldom traveled over these past years together, rarely feeling compelled to leave the lake or our pups (dog lovers understand). When we did, we stayed in hotels, fearful of imposing upon others in varying parts of the country. 

Let’s face it. I am not the easiest house guest.  Tom is.  Not me.  My family and friends accept my cooking and eating habits along with my endless array of eccentricities around the house; nary a dish in the sink or an item of clothing left in the laundry basket.  

Of course, my ultimate desire is to avoid making others uncomfortable with my peculiarities. Thus, I am somewhat of a “closet” perfectionist. 

It is only this confession that so clearly reveals why all the details of the planning of this year’s long adventure is not laborious to me.  It fuels my passion for the infinitesimal, researched and documented until there is no more. Then, the finale, let it go and enjoy it.    

Thank you, dear husband Tom for accepting my eccentricities with your usual aplomb and great sense of humor, for teaching me to laugh at myself and not taking it all so seriously.

So, house guests, we will be.  I will temper my ways, saving room for the relentless teasing I have so welcomed over the years while trying to simply enjoy the process.  

In 9 days, we move out for good.  In 16 days, we leave.  Thank you, family. Thank you, friends. Thank you, husband. Thank you, God, for them, for the joy they’ve given us and for that which the world has yet to offer.

Letting go, not so simple…

Here are our two comfy chairs and fluffy blankets. I had the lamp on the table made for Tom for Christmas in 2007 along with three bowls and another lamp from downed trees in our yard. A storm the prior August felled 20 trees in our yard. Everything you see in this picture will be sold at our upcoming estate sale October 25-28th.

In January, when our plans to travel the world were mulling around our heads, we gradually began the process of rummaging through every cupboard, drawer, and closet, contemplating mementos worthy of saving, that which to toss, ultimately what to sell.

Practically speaking, it was a necessary process.  Emotionally, it was filled with laughter recalling the stories attached to the photos, the trinkets, the handmade crafts from our children when young and now from our grandchildren.  

With tear filled eyes we have accepted the price we must pay to let go of one dream in order to build another, saying goodbye, first to those we love, second, to the peninsula home and all that it has contained, that which we have treasured and enjoyed. 

How do we say goodbye to these two comfy chairs, our fluffy blankets neatly folded during each day to be tossed onto our laps each night, winter and summer, when the air conditioning, the bowl of ice cream and sheer exhaustion rendered us chilled and sleepy?  

The conversations we shared in these chairs, the giggles we couldn’t control while sitting here either together or while watching the grandchildren play with the big tote of toys we continued to fill over the years with newly found treasures.  

Yes, we are grateful as we venture out into this unknown new territory of our lives, away from the familiar, the predictable, the routine that we have never found to be mundane or, to be boring. 

We loved the routine; Tom, rushing out the door to chase the pesky geese off of the lawn in summer or blowing the copious amounts of snow blocking the narrow road here on the peninsula in the winter, often too high for him to accomplish requiring that we call the guy with the bobcat.

Whether marching up and down the stairs to the basement each day in a futile effort to finally finish the laundry or enthusiastically preparing our lofty health-promoting nightly dinners, the routine, two years after my retirement was still comforting and peaceful. So simple.

And neverm and I mean never, did he walk in the door after a long day’s work, did I not greet him at the door with a kiss so heartfelt and yet, so routine that moments later, we’d often kiss hello again, uncertain if we’d already kissed. This simple routine will be changed when seldom leaving each other’s side, beginning six weeks from today.

Whether it was the dinner parties for friends laden with adventurous dishes and printed menus, the ambitious meals for the family working around special diets and food allergies, the ear splitting noise of the kids playing rambunctiously amid our patient observation, we loved it all.

And now, six weeks to go.  We’ll walk out the door for the last time.  We’ll have already kissed all of them all goodbye with tear filled eyes, holding back the sobs with the hope of appearing strong.  The house will be empty, the belongings sold and taken away, the bed, staying until the last night of anticipated fitful sleep.  

It will be Halloween that day.  Tom’s SUV will be loaded up with the orange luggage. For the first time in our adult lives, we won’t anxiously wait by the door to hand out a special treat to the well-dressed young visitors.  

Saying goodbye.  Not so simple.

Sometimes it hurts…

Awakening at 5:50 am after a fitful night, feeling exhausted from “running” in one confusing dream upon another, a wave of sorrow ran through me.  

This past Sunday was the memorial service for our beloved friend Chip. I wrote about him in my June 1, 2012 post (please see the archives) and was honored to be asked by his wife and our friend, Sue, to share that post during the service, with the many devoted family members and friends in attendance to say their last goodbyes to this very fine man. 

Lying in bed, thinking about Chip no longer being four doors away, that involuntary rush of tears filled my eyes. Deciding to distract myself, I ventured to “read my phone,” a habit I’ve acquired since first owning a smart phone; read my email, peruse last night’s texts arriving after we’d gone to bed, check out my newest Facebook blurbs and scan through Engadget‘s daily updates for the latest advances in technology.

Spotting a lengthy text from my dear younger sister Julie, a Hollywood TV producer, I breezed through the usual, saving her message for last. She plans to make her last visit here soon to once again celebrate her birthday. I was touched by her words, “Your home has been my haven, my peaceful place to go to recoup, to recover, to celebrate so many times in my life.” The tears flowed freely.

I was reminded how hard it must be, not only for us, but for all of our loved ones, to no longer have access to this comfortable home, surrounded by water, abounding with the gifts from Mother Nature and often overpowered by the aroma of loving prepared home cooked food.

It wasn’t perfect. It never is. But, it was our home for many years. We did our best to make it “home” for a little while to whomever graced our door, to send them home with returnable containers filled with food, always hoping they’d return soon to fill them once again. And they did.

While I allowed a little sob to escape my lips, determinedly I jumped out of bed, anxious to tackle the day’s tasks, so many of which lately revolved around the “preparations,” a seemingly endless list that must be accomplished in 3 months and 8 days from today, the day we leave.

WorldWideWille, a fine dog 

Scurrying around the house, bath water running, I emptied the dishwasher, filled and fired up the tea pot (still not drinking coffee!), neatly made the bed, and stopped to take a deep breath while staring out the window.  

My eyes fixated on the tiny headstone, a gift from a dog loving friend, where our little Australian Terrier WorldWideWillie was laid to rest only 15 long months ago. 

(If you are a dog lover, click the above link to his blog, written from his perspective, over the last days of his life. Please scroll the archives to get to the beginning). 

The tears, not quite gone, reappeared with a sob, for a moment, sucking the air out of my lungs.  Willie was named for our interest and love for the wealth of information provided by the Internet so long ago, as this blog was named as a tribute to him, for our interest and love for him. 

Ah, life is so complex, yet so simple, so joyful, yet so sad. We lose the ones we love, both human and animal, maybe now, maybe later, grasping each moment as a gift, as a memory that we behold wherever we may go for however long we may have.

The house and the things in it, the ambiance created by its warmth and charm, the breathtaking views surrounding it, is merely the tools that we used to build the memories. When the tools are gone, the memories will remain, forever in our hearts and minds.

A half hour later, ready for the day, my tears dried, a second cup of tea in hand, I heard a knock at the door. There stood my next door neighbor and friend, smiling from ear to ear, just in time for me to whip up a low carb breakfast of gluten free, Portobello mushroom, Vidalia onion, and spicy pepperoni omelets laced with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Life is good.

Sunday Morning…

Ceramic tea set our granddaughter used to serve us “tea.”  I saved this set for her as we made totes for our grandchildren filled with memorabilia.
As we sat in our comfy chairs this morning, a rerun of Sunday Morning playing in the background, our precious little granddaughter almost three years old, served us “pretend” tea from this tea set which had gone unnoticed on the bookcase for almost 26 years.
Where I found this miniature tea set fails me. Was it an arts and crafts fair, an antique shop, Apple Days in Excelsior, or merely a local garage sale? In any case, most likely I didn’t pay more than $10 for it. 

But this morning when our tiny overnight visitor served us the tiny cups of “pretend” tea, it was priceless. When she leaves later today to return home, I will carefully wrap and place this little treasure in the bins we are saving for each of our grandchildren, little treasures from our past for our treasured young loved ones. Ouch!

Wiping tears from my eyes, Tom suggested I look at the TV for a moment to see a story on Sunday Morning about Fiesta of which we have main dinner service for 25 plus a wide array of plates, serving pieces, bowls and glasses. 

In 2004, we remodeled our kitchen combining three rooms into one large space. Due to our close proximity to the lake, zoning restrictions prevented us from “building out.”

With seating for 12 at the giant wood island, eight at the 60″ square table, three at the corner banquet and two more in comfy chairs for a total of 25.
River rock granite and stones on side of fireplace.
Our Fiestaware dishes brought out the colors.

Thus, began our (mostly mine) fixation on dinnerware for 25. Searching for months online for style, function and price, we finally decided on Fiesta for several reasons:

1. We were able to choose four base colors all of which matched our river rock granite counter tops and hand picked river rock boulders in the fireplace. This resulted in either a mix and match place setting for smaller groups or one or two color place settings at any time.

2. Timeless style – Fiesta was introduced over 80 years ago

3.  Durable – I am constantly dropping things (or, as Tom would say,  I’m “a bull in a China shop.”

4.  Easy to find replacement pieces on eBay and other web sites.

5.  Playful or elegant depending upon the selection of our many matching linen napkins and place mats and, of course, the manner of folding the napkins.  Yes, I have been using linen napkins all of my adult life, folded in a style befitting the occasion along with other decorative accouterments including flowers, candles, flatware, etc.
Sample of the colors in our Fiesta dinnerware.

This was fun! Tom wasn’t into cloth napkins when I met him. In time, he came over to the other side, leaving me chuckling when he occasionally helped set the table, gingerly placing the folded napkin in the correct spot. That’s my man!

Let’s not forget for a moment that we met halfway on the multitude of differences we immediately observed when we started dating. (Those will be a point of discussion in a future post). Adapting to each other’s taste and differences is part of the reason we will be able to continue to be happy when we’re together 24/7, beginning this October 31st! We are continually challenged and intrigued by these differences while being delighted by the accommodations we each make to please each other.

Needless to say, Fiesta… in its entirety will be sold at our upcoming estate sale or sooner. Bye, bye dishes! Any takers?P.S. If its hard to say goodbye to dishes, how can one fathom saying goodbye to family and friends? Stuffing that for now. Will deal later.