A walk in the hilly neighborhood…

Vegetables for sale in a front garden.  We selected a zucchini and a small pumpkin.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Falmouth:

   “Falmouth was originally known as Smithwick, home to the Killigrew family at Arwenack Manor. In 1613 John Killigrew began to build houses around the harbor, despite opposition from the ancient towns of Helston, Penryn, and Truro, and a new town began to emerge, split into two hamlets called Smithicke and Pennycomequick. Finally, in 1660, King Charles II decreed that they should be known as Falmouth.”
Three days ago, I was official “off” the heart medication Bisoprolol, which caused severe side effects, including difficulty breathing, difficulty walking, extreme exhaustion, and a constant feeling of general malaise.
This is the sign for the produce garden products.  We dropped the appropriate coins in the letterbox after we’d selected a few vegetables.
The side effects of the medication withdrawal may include dangerously high heart rate, excessively high blood pressure, breathing problems, and severe palpitations.  
During this gradual withdrawal process, I experienced infrequent episodes of all of the above but for short periods only, no more than a few minutes at most.  Knowing the possible withdrawal symptoms, I stayed calm and made my way through it all.
Plant prices were marked and offered for sale in the homeowner’s front garden.
Within minutes, my readings would return to normal.  Once I was down to ¼ of the original dose, these side effects dissipated completely. I stayed on that dose for another week, and three days ago, I stopped completely.
I hadn’t planned to reduce the dose while on the cruise, but since the process seemed to be going well, I continued, checking my pulse and blood pressure a few times each day, which were normal except for one night early on. As I patiently continued, those ill effects ceased.
This sign is located in the garden by the plants for sale.
Among others I recently stopped, this drug may remain in one’s cells for many months, still serving up side effects. I hope I will make it through the upcoming months without incident and be free of these toxic drugs.
(If you are prescribed any of these mentioned drugs, please see your physician for changing or stopping your medication. Some patients must be hospitalized during the weaning process when doing so may cause a heart attack. Proceed with caution. We are not offering any medical advice, nor are we qualified to do so).
A Black Rose Aeonium.
The literature included with this last drug stated three days after gradual withdrawal, the incidence of side effects may begin to lessen. I started noticing a dramatic improvement yesterday on day 2.

As a matter of fact, for the first time since the surgery on February 12, 2019, Tom and I went for a walk in the neighborhood, taking the photos included here yesterday and today (post found here).

No, during the 30-minute walk, I wasn’t free of pain in my legs, but I did considerably better than I’d done while on tour in St. Petersburg. The hills are steep in most Falmouth based on the terracing of homes for the outstanding ocean views. Walking on the local streets is a challenge for most people, let alone me in my weakened condition.  

Fuzzy burgundy blossom was spotted on the walk. Any ideas what this may be?
It’s not so much that I run out of breath when walking but more so having to deal with the severe pain in my legs. Now, as I continue to progress, we’ll walk more and more, taking advantage of those hills to aid in my recovery. I only push myself as far as I can go, frequently stopping as needed.  

Today, we’ll stay in on a rainy day. There’s no point in risking a fall on the cobblestone streets in the rain. Instead, I’m busy around the house, organizing and repacking my messy suitcase. We leave here in nine days for the following location, but fortunately, we’ll be driving, not flying.
We made a reservation for the “Sunday Roast” which we’d had at a restaurant in South Kensington, London, in 2014 at the Andover Arms.  Here’s the link from that date.  Fantastic meal.  I hope to be so once again.  Check back on Monday for details.
With the towel situation resolved and a bottle of Prosecco for our inconvenience delivered by a wonderful neighbor, Sheena, we’re willing to provide a good review if everything continues as it appears from here on.  

We love the beautiful location, and the house is fulfilling our needs with good Wi-Fi, constant electricity, running water, and a very comfortable bed. The fridge is tiny, but we’ve adapted, and every three days, we shop for perishables.

Have a pleasant day and evening.

Photo from one year ago today, August 28, 2018:
We visited the Railway Museum in Livingstone, Zambia. A steam engine reminds us of “Thomas” trains, appropriately named, built-in 1919.  For more photos, please click here.

Struggling with sorrowful situations…

The Artina Phoenix Reisen, with 1260 passengers, built in 1984, is a passenger ship, arrived in the Falmouth port this morning.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Falmouth:

“Falmouth Harbour and the Carrick Roads form the third deepest natural harbor globally and the deepest in Western Europe.”

It’s a glorious morning in Falmouth, England. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and a cruise ship is docked at the Falmouth Pier while passengers disembark to savor this stunning town and surrounding areas.  

We were able to take a photo of a portion of the ship, part of which is obscured by a building. Perhaps later, we’ll walk down to the road for a better photo. But, today, our hearts are heavy.

As the sun began to rise this morning, Tom captured this photo with the sun’s reflection in the bay.

Someone we love has been diagnosed with cancer, and we pray she’ll find a path to recovery and healing. Our love, hearts, and prayers are with her until we can be at her side in 73 days. (To protect her privacy, we aren’t disclosing who this is and the depth and breadth of her condition).

As we’ve learned, particularly in the past seven months, joyfully traveling the world in love with life and one another doesn’t make us exempt or free from the sadness associated with disappointment, heartbreak, and sorrow.  

Sunrise with more reflections in the bay.

Often, others perceive our lives of world travels to primarily consist of the pleasure and fulfillment one might experience on a non-stop holiday/vacation.  Not the case.  

As “they” say, “Everywhere we go, there we are.” There’s no escaping the realities of life, much over which we have little to no control. As I struggle to re-learn to walk less tentatively, I realize, perhaps for the first time in years, that regardless of a degree of sheer will and determination, not everything can be overcome.

Sunrise in Falmouth Bay.

Oh yes, some theories promise that healing can come from meditation, mindfulness, and prayer. And, perhaps, there is a particular element of fact in these modalities when we exercise our hearts and minds to heal and ultimately recover.

Is the reality such that “we can’t control what comes our way?” But we can control how we react to what comes our way. And, can it be that our reaction has a profound effect on the outcome?  With that, I agree.

All Saints Church in the center of the town.

I’ve been no hero or example of strength and fortitude over this past almost seven months filled with pain, worry, and frustration. Many have so kindly written praising me for “being tough and strong.” I appreciate these comments wholeheartedly (no pun intended).

However, my reality remains…I merely have done my best to get through this, emotionally and physically intact. That’s all any of us can do. We have the option to “give up” or continue. But most of us have a robust commitment to ourselves and those we love to heal and recover.

A clock atop the Packet Quay, where vacation rentals are located.

I will admit I did exercise a high degree of self-control to avoid self-pity and hopelessness by not complaining aloud. The story can be shared but not in an attempt to elicit sympathy, although a tinge of compassion goes a long way when I haven’t been able to keep up the pace.

Over the past months, I’ve seen this compassion from our readers, expressing a deep understanding and compassion over my inability to write at times, take photos, and get out sightseeing to add depth and interest to our site.

Alternate view of the cruise ship in port.

Believe me. If it hadn’t been for all of you, I could easily have become a “couch potato” lounging day and night. Instead, I was keenly aware that our readers expected a “little action,” thus motivating me to get out and do more and more. This proved to be a blessing in disguise.

For those who are worrying about a loved one’s illness, there’s no easy answer.  Not everyone wants to include other family members and friends during a difficult time. We must respect this and let them know we care. It’s not about us and how we react. It’s all about them and the process that lies ahead and how they choose to handle it.

Our love and prayers to our loved ones and yours, who struggle to find peace and resolution in their challenges.Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2018:

Lots of kudus by the steps to the veranda.  We couldn’t hand out pellets quickly enough.  For more photos, please click here.

A meaningful and heartbreaking story from a loyal reader…Tomorrow, Tom’s birthday, a special but scary story with photos…

All of today’s photos were taken yesterday on a drive to the countryside surrounding Penguin, Tasmania.

After a lazy start of the day, finally I opened my laptop to begin today’s post. Each morning, before starting I check my email for comments that we may have received overnight. 

At times, there are many email messages from readers and some comments posted on the site. Rarely is there a day when we don’t hear from our readers. With the commitment to respond to all email messages and comments within a day, on most occasions we respond within 12 hours

Poppies, Permethrin flowers and the hills.

This morning, there was only one message and it read as follows with this word in the subject line:


Dear Jess,  I came to your talks on Radiance (of the Seas)and now follow with great interest your blog. I wish both you and Tom continuing health and happiness. You are both so inspirational. Happy holidays!”

Immediately, I wrote back thanking the thoughtful sender for writing to us. Each message we receive, short or detailed, is truly a gift.  As Christmas approaches we’re reminded that we have no need for decorations, a tree, presents to unwrap, cards to open, cookies to bake and yet… the gifts keep coming and coming.

What are those gifts? Simply put, the gifts of words, written by readers, family and friends when they share their love, their experiences and their heartfelt expressions over the holiday season and throughout the year. 

Beautiful farm land with hay rolls (bales) at a distance.

Sometimes, we receive a comment or message that touches us in immeasurable ways; with compassion, empathy and appreciation for a reader opening their heart to reveal their innermost struggles and losses. 

Today, I share this story that came to us via a comment at the end of a post of a few days ago. Had the reader chosen to be anonymous, he could easily have done so. Instead, he used his name and location both of which we’re excluding today with the utmost of appreciation for his privacy. 

We share his story with respect and sympathy over his tragic loss.  Had it not been the holiday season, which inspired our story of a few days ago of the sorrow and loss many suffer over the holidays, our dear reader may not have been inspired to write. 

Bordering trees.

Perhaps in doing so, it may have provided him with a moment of relief from the grief which some of us may feel when we put thoughts into the written word. “They” (whomever “they” are) often say expressing ourselves in writing may provide clarity. 

His message had a powerful and lingering effect, one we’ll carry with us long after the holiday season comes to a close. As sad as his experience, he so kindly wrote to us to share his life changing experience. 

For us, in a way, his message became a gift, one we’ll always treasure. Not all gifts in life bring a smile to our faces. Some are a message from which we learn and grow. Isn’t that the message of Christmas, after all? And, long after a “happy” gift has worn out and withered away, the gift of learning and growing lingers with us for the remainder of our lives.

Thank you, dear reader, for sharing this sorrowful, yet powerful story, for being a part of our lives in your own special way as you work  through the grief and healing you’ll experience for many years to come.

A creek running through farmland.

Here’s his story as written to us in a comment a few days ago:

“Hi Jessica and Tom. I have written you a couple of times during your travels and my wife and I have followed you since you left Minnesota, where we lived nearby.  I love your adventure and we were using you as inspiration to perhaps do something similar. I had to write today because your words of grief are so true and enlightened. I lost my wonderful companion and wife in July this year. Without going into details she hid her depression from everyone and developed psychosis late in life, very unusual (age 66). She took her own life. And it has been very daunting. But myself and our daughters are forging ahead and I treasure your wise words about filling our hearts with the blessings we’ve been gifted (I feel very fortunate for the 33 amazing and wonderful years my  wife and I had together) and this Christmas time we will tell joyful stories about her. So just wanted to say I find your words many times inspiring and wise, always interesting, and look forward to reading every post. Thank You. You and Tom have a wonderful Christmas.”

We wrote the following response to his comment:

“Dear Reader, we hesitated in responding to your comment on our site as quickly as usual. We were at a loss for words, our hearts aching so, for the loss of your beloved wife. Its kind and generous of you to share the story of your devastating loss of your love and companion of 33 years.

No words we or anyone can express can lighten the load of the sorrow you must carry with you each and every day. The typical, “I’m sorry for your loss” is meaningless and shallow, an easy attempt to deflect the responsibility of saying something more revealing and heartfelt when we try to imagine the depth of your loss. None of us who haven’t experienced such a loss can even comprehend.

We are grateful to hear your daughters have rallied at your side while together you try to make some sense of it all. We commend you and admire you for your determination and hope for the future.  (Continued below).

A peek between the trees to the sea.

Reading your comment has had a profound effect on both Tom and I, especially in light of our discussion of loss in the prior post. We are honored and grateful to know you have found even a morsel of distraction in reading our posts and thank you with all of our hearts for reaching out to us.

If you don’t mind, we’d like to make mention of your comment on tomorrow’s post. We will do so anonymously, using no names, no city or any specific identifying references. We all have a lot to learn from you which is all the more vital during the holiday season and year end, as we all reflect upon our own lives.

May healing and comfort find their way into your hearts as you work your way through the painful grieving process.

Much love and blessings always,
Jess & Tom”

One of Mother Nature’s bountiful gifts.

Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2015:

One year ago in Fiji, we noticed there were no poinsettias or Christmas cactus plants in the stores, only colorful flowers blooming year round.  For more in Fiji, please click here.

Remembering lost loved ones during the holiday season…A visit to a local resting place overlooking the sea…

What a peaceful spot for the General Penguin Cemetery. May all those who rest here bring peace and comfort to the family members and friends of Penguin, Tasmania.

The holiday season is upon us and for those who celebrate worldwide, many find themselves entrenched in myriad festivities, purchasing gifts and participating in endless traditions.

With thoughts of those we’ve lost, we visited the General Penguin Cemetery overlooks the Bass Straits in Tasmania.

But, many with memories of heartbreak and sorrow for the loss of loved ones during the holiday season and other times throughout the year are plagued with feelings of loss and grief during these special times.

View of the bay in Penguin from the cemetery. 

Anniversaries of losing someone we love can be daunting. I sense this feeling myself while easily remembering my father’s death in October, 1960 when I was only 12 years old. All these years later the angst of that loss becomes all the more prevalent on that date.

How interesting it would be to know the history of those buried here.

For Tom, the loss of his first grandchild in 1999 and losing both his parents, his father in 1985 and with whom he shared a birthday on December 23rd, and his mother who passed away in 2008, remain in his heart during the holiday season and throughout the year. 

Penguin General Cemetery was established as a National Heritage site.

We all grieve differently. Losing a loved one never seems to heal, but as “they” say, “time is a great healer.” In essence, this may be true but no one wants to hear these words during their deepest periods of grief.

There were fresh and permanent flowers recently placed throughout the cemetery.

The feelings of joy and excitement over holiday festivities are often marred by the sense of loss sweeping through our hearts and minds as the flurry of activities often helps us avoid thinking about loss.

From the 1800’s on we noticed many young lives lost.

Suddenly, the memories overcome us resulting in holiday periods being one of the most likely periods of depression and suicide.  Loss, in the form of the passing of a loved one, the end of a relationship or especially in today’s world, the end of a meaningful and pertinent career or financial security, merely enhances the heaviness in one’s heart, easily exacerbated during the holidays.

What stories could be found herein?

There’s no easy answer as to how to avert these feelings. No method is cut and dried. We’ve found that focusing on embracing the spiritual meaning or special significance of the holiday while sharing joyful stories of those we’ve lost may be instrumental is softening the sorrowful feelings. 

Decades of erosion and weather left some headstones tilted.

The ability to fill our hearts and minds with the blessings we’ve been gifted in our lives today (and in the past) may ease an overwhelming sense of sorrow.  Above all, finding ways to give to others may aid in taking us outside of our own grief to focus on bringing a moment of happiness and joy to those who may need it more than us. 

This lost soul at the top of this headstone was born in 1829, the lower lost soul was born in 1859 and passed away in 1877, at only 18 years old.

Now, far from family and friends, alone together in this foreign land that we only call our own for short periods, we still feel the love awaiting us when we visit Minnesota and Nevada in five and seven months respectively.

There is a wide array of markers.

In the interim, Penguin has wrapped its arms around us healing some of our losses from the past, including us in her magical world and filling us with memories we’ll always carry with us.

It was sunny the day we visited the cemetery, but the wind was blowing voraciously, chilling us to the bone.

In a mere 27 days, we’ll be on the move again, leaving behind new friends, a town we’ve treasured for its charm and unique qualities, adding greatly to the repertoire of memorable experiences in this unusual life we live of traveling the world until we can’t, with no home, no stuff, no storage and an ultimate sense of freedom and adventure. 

This gravesite is showing signs of many years of erosion.

We’re grateful. We’re happy. We continue on..

A statue commemorating the cemetery.

Thank you to each and every one of our readers for sharing this seemingly never ending journey with us (health providing). It’s through YOU that we find the determination, the commitment and the dedication in sharing our story, day after day.

A family plot of many years.

Photo from one year ago today, December 20, 2015:

Danny, Samantha, (newlywed couple staying next door) me and Tom, outside our house in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, one year ago today. We had just returned from dinner at a local restaurant.  For more photos, please click here.

Bite sized pieces….

My feet hitting the floor at 5:40 am, a surge of energy running through me, I rushed around the house performing the morning’s usual tasks.  

The bath water ran while I turned on the teapot, emptied the dishwasher, threw the sheets in the wash, folded a load of laundry, checked my email and looked in refrigerator contemplating tonight’s dinner.  

The tub was full. Time to get ready for the day. Having worked for 45 years, I can put myself together in 20 minutes, providing I don’t get distracted stopping to watch the news story of the day on the TV in our room.
By the time I got the sheets into the dryer for the 70 minute cycle, I found myself walking in circles around the house, my eyes scanning the cupboards, the drawers, the closets, filled with the “things” of our lives, yet to be tackled.  I felt my heart race; a little bit of fear, a little bit of angst, a tinge of sorrow. 

Letting go? Letting go. Day by day. “Bite sized pieces” keeps running through my mind, the words I used daily to remind my precious sister Julie to hang on as she went through lengthy and agonizing breast cancer treatment about 4 years ago. She survived, thank God, with  a level of grace that I so admired and with a hope for the future, that has proven to serve her well.
Of course, there is no comparison with these life events, but the simplicity of thinking in terms of “bite sized pieces” has a magical way of putting our apprehension and fear in perspective, allowing us each day to bite off a little piece of the challenge while continuing to deal with it, day after day. 

I keep reminding myself of the upcoming sense of freedom and adventure facing us.  But now, with 3 months and 23 days to go, the reality of the looming tasks, many of which are too soon to complete now, I could easily  throw myself into a tailspin.  
Taking a deep breath, I don’t choose the tailspin, thinking, “What can I bite off today to lighten the load?”

We have found as we age, our ability to handle challenges changes. Somewhere along the way, both Tom and I have accepted that emotional upheaval is pointless, “drama” is used to elicit a response from others, stress is damaging to one’s health, and loud vocalization (yelling) to those you love (or not) doesn’t solve problems but creates them. Again, simple, again magical with the ultimate goal of contentment, entirely attainable, not at all elusive.

At 8:30 am, I packed up our six year old grandson Vincent, driving him to Gale Woods Farm for his second of five days in “farm camp” a short jaunt from our home. Three hours later, having completed multiple errands, I returned home, feeling a sense of accomplishment for having taken several “bite sized pieces” out of the daunting tasks that are looming. Walking into the familiar smells in our home; remnants of last night’s dinner along with the orange organic cleaner I used this morning to clean the kitchen, a wave of accomplishment washed over me.In only a few short months this life as we’ve known it, will be over with a new life to begin its place. We’ll continue to take “bite sized pieces” with contentment, joy and wonder as our ultimate goal.

Looking around the house at the cupboards, the drawers, the closets and the “things” I knew it will all get done and, it will all be OK.