Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there…Have a beautiful day!…Expectations….

Could this Yellow Candle flower be more exquisite with its white blooms?

Special days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can easily result in high expectations. Will the kids call?  Did they send a card or greeting? Will they show for a hug and expression of love? Will the Dad of the young ones make an effort to make them aware of this special day for Mom and, vise versa for Dad on Father’s Day?

We all make the assumption that most moms are anxiously waiting at home to be honored on this special day when for some, the day becomes sorrowful and disappointing. Then again, some moms have an expectation that the husband, partner or significant other will create a degree of hoopla only to be disappointed as the day wears on, that no such event or celebration will occur. I do not have that expectation.

Today, as a mom of two sons and step mom to a son and daughter all in their 40’s I have no expectations. We left. We left behind the circle of life and in doing so, perhaps all of those expectations were left behind. 

A single plumeria bloom.

We said we expected nor wanted cards or gifts and not to worry about birthdays and holidays. None of that is necessary to know we are loved. It’s all OK. (We continue to send gifts to our grandchildren on birthdays and holidays and acknowledge all of our children and significant others on their special days).

We chose this life. They did not. In their perfect world, we’d have been those available doting grandparents.  But, we chose a different path for these years of our lives after my decades of ill health. Do it while we can. Life is short. We’ll see them again in the future. We are not lost forever.

Regrets? None.

Do days like today make me sad? No, not at all. But, I do think of them a little more today than yesterday.  They are truly loved, all of them, and will always be loved.

A miniature daisy?

Tom and I both became parents in our teens. At such an early age, we had responsibilities resulting in few worldly experiences in our 20’s other than attempting to live up to those responsibilities. We were young. It wasn’t easy. We did our best. 

In reality, these facts brought Tom and me together. We had the commonality of being such young parents, working too much, and maybe had our priorities mixed up…work…provide…work…provide. 

As a single mom for many years after an early divorce, I did what I thought was right at the time. I was present and then again, I wasn’t. I was so wrapped up in surviving, let alone “making it” as a single parent that at times, I fell short. Tom expresses a similar sentiment.

Luscious hot pink blossoms.

We seldom traveled (one vacation in 20 years) due to my health and we lived a life of expectations that somehow could never be fulfilled. As we’ve aged, the expectations continue to grow…out of reach…perhaps unrealistic.

Still under the weather today, I’m reminded of how fragile our lives really are. One bad illness, surgery or injury and it all could be over, possibly for good. We could be forced to settle somewhere, living a life of doctor appointments, dealing with insurance, medications and medical care.

As much as we may try to avoid that possibility, I have to face the facts that I’ll be 70 in a few years and for many this is when ill health begins (or sooner for some). No matter what measures one may take to stay healthy, we still can fall prey to an unexpected illness.

Plumeria trees are on a blooming frenzy now that spring is here.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit concerned that I haven’t yet “turned the corner” after almost 48 hours on antibiotics. Our cruise departs two weeks from today. If I’m not on the mend by tomorrow, I’ll have no choice but to call for a different course of antibiotics which of course, I despise taking. Without them, it would only get worse.

Today, we continue to hunker down while I rest, drinking tons of water, hoping that at any moment, I’ll discover that the pain is gone and I’m on the mend. This, dear readers will be cause for celebration on this day or the next.

Again, we wish all of our mom readers a Happy Mother Day by lightening up on the expectations and living another fine day filled with love. I know I will.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2014:

Near the entrance to the Medina in Marrakech, we stopped at the ATM. For details as to why we wrote about “sexist steak portions,” please click here.

Drinking alcohol in Morocco…Not readily available in Islamic countries…

Baskets of spices outside a spice shop in the souk.

Tom is not a big drinker. On occasion, if readily available, he may enjoy a couple of bottles of beer or a few of his favorite cocktails. When planning to live in Morocco, he had little concern when we discovered that buying a bottle of his favorite Courvoisier, which he mixes with Sprite Zero over ice, was not an easy purchase in this non-drinking Muslim country.

He dismissed the concept of drinking for the two and a half months without giving it a thought. Out of curiosity, we checked prices of his brand at the grocery store at a cost of US $60, MAD 486 for the VS, not VSOP, for a smaller bottle than he usually purchases. He said, “Nah, it’s just not worth it.” 

Leather sandals are a common offering in the souks.

Yes, he’s quite frugal when it comes to himself but never when it comes to me. Then again, my wants and needs are minimal these days so I have followed suit in frugality for myself as well. (Over the past few weeks, I’ve been using a Q-tip in order to get the last remnants out of a favorite tube of lipstick. Perhaps, the difficulty in replacing it is more the intent than the frugality).

Instead of buying a bottle, I suggested he have a few drinks when we dine out. The restaurants we frequent offer beer, wine, and his favorite cocktail. But, the other problem in ordering cocktails in restaurants is the ice.  All of them use tap water when making ice. With the risk of intestinal distress, the only ice we use is that which we make in our riad using bottled water to fill the tiny trays in the household’s tiny freezer. 

Tourists are often attracted to the varied choices of leather handbags.

The average cost of his cocktail in the restaurants with the Sprite Zero is US $14.17, MAD 115. If he were to have only two cocktails without ice, which he doesn’t care for, the cost at almost US $30, MAD 243 is ridiculous, costing as much as our food, which in itself in not a bargain in Marrakech. 

Beer, a good second choice, is an average of US $7.00, MAD 57, again in a smaller bottle. He decided to forgo beer as well. Why bother? He feels it’s just not worth it. For me, it’s not an issue. I don’t drink alcohol, although at times I do wish I could, especially red wine. But my health supersedes my desire to drink, a decision I made many years ago.

Carry on leather bags also appeal to the tourist trade.

All said and done, Tom has ordered one cocktail without ice and one beer on two separate occasions when we’ve dined out in Marrakech, never to order again.

Another situation where we find cocktail prices outrageous is while cruising. The cost of drinks and beer is comparable to Morocco prices and then again, Tom cringes. Cruises offer drink packages usually around US $59, MAD 478 per person per day plus 15% gratuity. 

This clump fell onto the floor of the riad overnight.  With spring in the air and all the birds flying in the house, we assumed it may be the makings of a bird’s nest.

When we did the math for these cruise packages, there was no way buying one made sense for Tom. He only has a few cocktails at dinner when we’re gathered around a sharing table or dining on our own. He never drinks alcohol during the day so he’d have to drink six cocktails at dinner to break even, seven to be ahead. Forcing oneself to drink to justify the “package” hardly makes sense to us. There are non-alcoholic beverage packages that make no sense for me. I don’t drink sugary beverages, juice, or soda.

In a mere 17 days, we’ll be in Madeira, grocery shopping the next day with our late arrival. With enthusiasm, we anticipate purchasing all the foods, snacks, and beverages that we desire. Perhaps, at “happy hour,” we’ll lounge on the veranda overlooking the ocean and once again, feel like we’re “home,” wherever that may be. 

Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2013:

The view of the island of Madeira where we’ll arrive in only 17 days, flying from Marrakech. Our ship docked in Madeira for one day a year ago today, enabling us to visit with Gina, the owner of the house, and to see our future home in person. We couldn’t have been more pleased. The house is away from this busy port town of Funchal. For details of that date with more photos, please click here.

Come see the gifts we’ve received for Christmas…Tom’s Irish Cream Recipe…Christmas in the bush…

With no Poinsettias for us this year, we revel in the beauty of this flower that we encountered on a walk in the area.

In our old lives, Christmas was a time to celebrate life, family, friends, and the powerful message the holiday season represents for many. There was nothing spared in the preparation of this special time of the year. 

A flaming sky at sunset is a gift.

For almost 20 years Tom made his well-received over 100 bottles of Lyman’s Irish Cream (see recipe below) to give to friends and family while I spent endless hours decorating, sending cards, wrapping gifts (mostly purchased online), baking, cooking, and entertaining.

A baby duiker on wobbly legs warms our hearts.

Each year we’d receive tons of cards, which we displayed during the Christmas season, saving them until the following year. The next year, I’d cut them into shapes befitting the card’s design punching a small hole in a corner, inserting a satin ribbon for them to be used as gift tags. 

A curious baby zebra at our door.
We all have traditions that bring us comfort in their familiarity. As a family, the participants in the traditions, look forward to their implementation with little concern for their redundancy or silliness.
A mama duiker, standing watch.

Last year, we spent Christmas in Henderson, Nevada, renting a spacious vacation home, with 19 in attendance on Christmas Day. It was a memorable time, as we were only days away from leaving the US to begin our worldwide journey on January 3, 2013. 

A Giraffe we encountered on the road on a cloudy day.  Notice the three Oxpeckers (birds) on its neck eating off the insects and one flying off its head.  Seeing this was a gift.

Tom’s birthday is on December 23rd, an unconscionable time of the year for a birthday. Over the years, I made every effort to make it a special time for him as well, wrapping his gifts in birthday, not Christmas paper, planning festivities unrelated to the holidays, often not easy to do. 

A rank of impalas, very sensitive to sound and movement, kept us practically holding our breath when they appeared in our yard.

He shared the same birthday with our dearest friend and neighbor Chip whom we lost a year and a half ago.  Over the years, together with his wife Sue, the four of us celebrated birthdays, times we’ll never forget.

This is the cactus plant from which we took the above flower photo.  In our old lives, our Christmas cactus would often bloom.  This will do as an alternative.

By this time each year, all the festivities were planned, the gifts were wrapped and under the tree, the cookies were baked and placed in colorful tins and Tom had attended or was about to attend his railroad union Christmas party. My various annual “girlfriends only” Christmas luncheons had occurred and all that remained was the sharing of the meals with family and friends as Christmas edged its way in and of course, the always fun-filled gift opening.

A glimpse of the sunset from our veranda.

So, here we are, Christmas in the African bush, the South African bush to be precise, surrounded by nature, a Skype call away from contact with family and friends without a single card or gift, decorated tree, or homemade cookies. 

A joy to behold such beauty.

This is our first Christmas outside the US. How do we feel about that? We don’t feel alone. We’re surrounded by nature. If someone had told me years ago, that I had to forgo all of my usual holiday activities to sit at home without family around us, a tree, gifts, or homemade treats, I’d have gone kicking and screaming.

Certainly no “partridge in a pear tree” we delight in the simple beauty of this bird visitor.

Now, here in Marloth Park at Christmas time and for Tom’s birthday, we are at peace. The thought of all the work we used to do makes us cringe. The thought of being with our adult children and their families next year in Hawaii makes us smile. Yes, we are at peace.

Not quite, “Three French hens,” instead we have three Helmeted Guinea-fowl that visits us daily.

Living in Marloth Park is a gift, God’s creatures all around us, nature at it’s finest. We are thankful that in our senior years we are given an opportunity to engage in an entirely different Christmas season, one that isn’t about our somewhat selfish objectives to “get everything done” based on our own outrageous expectations.

The sun finally came out to reveal the moon and blue sky.  Heavenly.

Instead, we simply watch, wait and marvel as the visitors and lush vegetation surrounds us whether we’re lounging on the veranda as we’re doing at the moment, on a short drive to dinner, on a game drive, a bush dinner, or a walk in the area. For us, this is the gift that keeps giving… and giving… and giving.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tom Lyman’s Irish Cream (Bailey’s)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint half and half cream
3 pasteurized eggs (important for safety)
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
1 T. chocolate syrup
1 cup whiskey
Blend in a blender for 2 minutes, then add the 1 cup whiskey. Blend for another 30 seconds. 
Pour into a clean glass bottle with tight-fitting cork. (Use your empty wine bottles after they’ve been washed in the dishwasher).
Make 1 1/2 wine bottles, enough for sipping while making. Recipe doubles for more easily.

Keeps fresh for 30 days in the refrigerator.

Tom’s retirement party was a year ago…Photos…Problematic ATMs in Kenya…Suggested reading for the medically curious…

This photo was taken the night of Tom’s retirement party on October 27, 2012. At this point, we only used our smartphones to take photos. Little did we know at that time, how much would change, how much we would change, how important clear photos would mean to us, and how much we had ahead of us.   How does one unload their entire lives and travel the world for years to come?  Now we know.

Tom’s retirement party was a year agoIts hard to believe. We so appreciated all the wonderful friends and family that joined us for a highly memorable event. 

A special thanks to daughter-in-law Camille for all of her hard work at the party while I was busy trying to communicate with guests after losing my voice and still feeling poorly.

Here’s the link from the post for the night of the retirement party if you’ve never read it or would like to see it again.

This was the cake I had made for the party by an amazing cake decorator, surprisingly edible, depicting Tom’s 42 years on the railroad and our plan to travel together to see the world. Little did we know what adventures were yet to come. Little did we know how happy we would be.

When traveling for the usual vacation periods of one or two weeks, most tourists have little need to go to an ATM during their stay other than to use it to exchange a small amount of the local currency required for locally-owned standalone restaurants, tips, and taxi fare (always paid in cash in Kenya). 

With the universal acceptance of credit cards worldwide and preparedness with some cash from their home location, there is little need for additional cash during their stay other than those listed above.

Many resorts and hotels, especially the larger chains, may accept certain forms of currency. From our experience, overall, they prefer the use of credit cards. On occasion, as in the case of dinner a few nights ago, the restaurant didn’t accept any form of cash. We’ll see more and more of this in the future with the growing amounts of counterfeit money and also, the risk of theft from cash drawers.

However, in Kenya, we’ve found we frequently need to use cash, Kenya Shillings (Ksh or KES), to pay for many services. Most assuredly, this is a result of our long three-month stay. For security reasons, we’ve chosen to visit an ATM more frequently rather than carry large sums of cash with us.

At a cost of US $5 per transaction charged by our bank, we felt the security aspect has well been worth the added expense, totally approximately US $50 over the three-month period, a small price to pay for the security of carrying lesser amounts of cash at any given time. It’s important to determine the fees one’s bank charges in foreign countries (as well as in one’s home country!).

The issue we’ve experienced, not uncommon worldwide, is finding an ATM that:

a.  Works
b.  Is located in a generally safe, well lighted public area
c.  That doesn’t have “hidden” charges

In Kenya, we’ve been able to easily determine “b” and “c.”  But, “a” has been tricky, as in the case last night on our way to dinner.

With our upcoming mini-vacation beginning on Tuesday, we knew we’d need more cash for the many tips for service personnel which may not be added to credit card charge slips in Kenya. Whether it’s a waiter for dinner, a bartender, a hotel valet or maid, or a guide, cash is the only method of payment.

On our way out to dinner last night, we asked Alfred to drive us to an ATM we’d never visited in the past, less of a drive from the resort we were visiting for dinner hoping to save a little on cab fare and driving time.

Knowing full well that there was absolutely no reason our cash request would be denied, we still approached the machine with a degree of hesitation; the location wasn’t ideal and, would the machine work?

Entering Tom’s card, we hesitated. When it promptly kicked out the card but still proceeded with a request for the PIN and desired amount of cash, we became worried. It began the processing including the rifling sound of money dropping down, but none was in the slot. With our hearts pounding, we waited.

Moments later, a receipt popped out, saying “transaction incomplete.”  We left, asking Alfred to take us to our usual ATM near the Nakumatt Grocery at the local Barclay’s Bank, a known reliable ATM. Once there, we received our desired amount of cash without incident, and moments later, we were heading in the direction toward our reservation.

Had a new tourist had such an incident, they may have assumed that none of the ATMs would work (or that something was wrong with their card), although it clearly stated that our type of card was accepted. If this resulted in an inside visit to a bank, the fees would have been considerably higher, both in exchange rates and service fees.

Thus, it certainly is worthwhile for tourists to have a “backup plan,” in this case another cash machine location. Also, it would be wise to try an ATM directly at a bank that is open, should anything go wrong.  In our case, it was Saturday evening at 6:00 pm. The bank had been closed since noon.

We’d found this link for local ATMs but didn’t choose to take the time or expense of taxi fare to try more of them.

With our ready cash in hand, tomorrow we’ll pack the same duffel bag for me and the same carry on bag for Tom that we used to go on safari, although this time, our mini-vacation won’t require safari boots and BugsAway clothing. Tuesday morning by 10:00 am we’ll be off, sharing photos and stories each day.

It’s with no disappointment that we’re not embarking on another safari at this time, keeping in mind that life will be comparable to one long safari when we move to Marloth Park/Kruger Park, South Africa where we’ll live for another three months while many animals will visit us at our new home at the rather remote location and we can take daily game drives at will.

We’ve made a point to continue to enjoy every remaining moment of our remaining 34 days in Kenya, as we lounge in our outdoor living room on another sunny, hot, humid day with the precious little dogs, Jessie and Gucci at our feet, the birds singing, the monkeys occasionally swinging through the trees and bugs nipping at our bare feet. Life is good.

P.S. A few of our readers have asked that we share photos and recipes of meals befitting my diet. For dinner this evening, we’re making one of our favorite dinners, Coconut Crusted Parmesan Chicken. Tomorrow, we’ll post the recipe and photos of our meal.

Also, I downloaded yet another excellent book detailing the medical research that has been discovered over a period of many years as to why my diet is so highly instrumental in vastly improving health (and coincidentally, weight issues) in many ways including preventing and possibility being instrumental in healing brain deterioration (dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease).

The book is entitled:  “Grain Brain, The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers” by Dr. David Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist, and researcher. As I read this book,  I’m beginning to understand why my memory has also improved 100% in the past few years since adopting this way of eating. Interesting.

Tom’s online football experience…

The haze in the hills continues day after day with the high humidity.
After signing up at NFL.com in order to watch the Minnesota Vikings games, which we wrote posted on August 8th.  At that time, he had yet to watch his first game.
Last Saturday, after the game had occurred the previous night, he watched the first preseason game.
In his words, “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  I’m not happy that I paid (US) $169 to watch the Vikings games.  Every time there’s a commercial, which has been removed, there’s a black screen. Either I sit there and watch the black screen for the length of the commercial or I can click ahead in either slow-moving, 10-second increments or by using the scroll bar to try to find the spot when the commercial ended.”
With the lack of rain, few flowers remain.

We all know how long those commercials can be. This task is annoying and cumbersome for three-plus hours, definitely taking away from the enjoyment of watching the game. Tom’s expectation in purchasing a prepaid package from the NFL, was that it would be similar to watching an on-demand program minus any intrusion by commercials. 

When originally booking the house in Boveglio online comments seemed to indicate that this old hotel’s bar was still open. Unfortunately, the bar and the hotel both closed a while back.
This room at the end of the hotel was once used as a ballroom.

One would assume that in this day and age with advanced technology, that this type of issue would have been resolved prior to offering such a package for sale to the public. Will he cancel?  No. 

He’ll continue to watch the game the morning after they’ve occurred with the ongoing frustration associated with this poor system. Isn’t it frustrating enough that the Vikings have yet proven to be the team that loyal fans have fantasized about for many years?

The local residents frequently place flower pot at this neighborhood shrine.

Although not a football fan, I certainly empathize with him over this issue when encountering poor technology by major corporations.

It’s no wonder that we can hear lively Italian conversations and toilets flushing in the tight little neighbor.  All the plumbing pipes are on the outside of the buildings.

Most recently, one of our credit card companies was sold out to a larger credit card company, resulting in the necessity of the customer set up an online account at the new company. Should be easy, right? Oh, no. 

Each day there appears to be a new stack of prayer candles at this shrine across the street from our house.

After trying to create an online account for this card over a period of the past 5 days, only to have the screen require me to enter the same information over and over, I’m left with no alternative but to call. Yes, I can use a toll-free number on Skype without having to pay for the call.  But the issue is the time difference and the loss of my time in making this call. 

Regardless of the drought-like conditions, homeowners continue to regularly water their outdoor plants. With no lawns to tend to, plants fulfill their desire to connect to nature.  Community gardens are within walking distance in which some neighbors participate.

After trying various numbers, I’ve been informed I must call during regular business hours, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Pacific time.  With this time difference, I must call after 6:00 pm here, a time when we’re busy getting dinner ready with the expectation of enjoying a stress-free evening. Being on hold for 10 to 15 minutes only adds to the frustration.

The vantage point from the road heading southwest.
This is across the street from our main entrance, looking up from the road. In most neighborhoods, homes across the road aren’t located so high up!

Wherever we may be, we aren’t free of the time-consuming tasks of managing our daily lives. There’s literally no way that one can choose to be “off the grid” if they require any type of insurance, banking, handling of their assets, managing their credit cards, and paying taxes.

The road as I returned home from my walk.  We’re located a few doors down on the right.

To my left in the lower level as I entered the house.  The laundry room is located behind the curtain.

Years ago, I heard a motivational speaker say, “Everywhere you go, there you are.” So true. So true.

Walking gingerly is a must on these step stone steps to the basement.  The Homeaway listing for this house clearly stated that this property is not intended for the older population due to the many steps required to get from one end to another down the long hallway and the tricky access to the patio on the right of this stairwell.

Giving up favorite pastimes…For Tom, not the Minnesota Vikings…

Several months ago, Tom canceled his subscription to the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper due to its inability to be downloaded several days each week. 

The newspaper was available either from the StarTribune’s own website for almost $1 a day, after an initial $8 for eight weeks offer, or through Barnes and Noble for $10 a month. Of course, he chose the lower-cost subscription. Well, you get what you pay for. Downloading was a frustrating daily task, taking the fun out of reading the paper when it did arrive.

He’s been reading the StarTribune in the late 50s when only a kid when the sports section was a peach/pinkish colored paper. Do any Minnesotans out there remember that?

Thus, as an avid reader of the daily paper, this was a big change for him. I always joked that he read and memorized every word in the daily paper, even the page numbers, able to quote dates, times, and most minute details months, if not years, later.

Easily bored reading the newspaper, I’d ask Tom to tell me the news if a topic caught my attention, to which he did so verbatim, perhaps with a bit of “spin” of which I didn’t object.

Newspaper reading days are long over for him, although the upcoming Minnesota Vikings football season had frequently come to mind as he contemplated the options available for viewing the games quickly after airing on US TV.

Looking online, for apps that may be options was fruitless. Many sites offering “free” viewing of games were a hoax, many of them pirating the games through various means. 

Viewing live TV on a computer has yet to become readily available to the average viewer, although the technology will be available soon. There are various companies such as Slingbox, as recommended by son Greg, that for a fee allow a subscriber to watch live shows.  Unfortunately, such an option isn’t unavailable to viewers when outside the US. 

With our use of Graboid we’re able to download and watch primetime commercial-free shows the day after airing.  But this doesn’t include sporting events, concerts, and special events.

After considerable research, Tom discovered that the easiest, most cost-effective option available to football fans, outside the US, was to subscribe to the NFL’s online viewing program GamePass.

For US $169, he will be able to watch the Vikings all preseason and regular-season games. If by a miracle, the Vikings make it to the playoff, he will purchase an add-on to view those as well. 

Yesterday, he subscribed to the GamePass plan to begin watching the first preseason game which airs live tomorrow (Friday, the 9th).  However, this game will air online at 2:00 am here in Italy, which he won’t be interested in doing. However, he’ll be able to watch the recorded game on Saturday at his leisure. Son TJ made a good point: don’t look at Facebook or the news during the game, if he prefers the outcome to be a surprise.  Good point, TJ!

This particular subscription service is only available to viewers outside the US or US territories. Other options are available online for those who don’t have access to TV or prefer to watch the game on their computers at a later time.

Need I say this Vikings fan is rather pleased to know he won’t miss a game. Not a football fan myself, he’ll be watching on his own, which he prefers rather than be interrupted by my idle chatter. 

In any case, I’m thrilled for him and will provide a quiet, comment, and question free environment during his game viewing.

With modern technology, traveling the world doesn’t have to leave a traveler’s favorite pastime, totally beyond reach, as we see here with Tom’s Minnesota Viking viewing options. 

Go Vikings! I guess.

A walk on the beach…Changing our ways…

This photo of Tom clearly depicts our quiet, contemplative, uncomplicated lives, relatively free of stress. 

Tom always jokes that he never imagined that his retirement would include walking other the necessary steps from his comfy chair to the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, and the yard.  Yes, he was quite the handyman, fixing and fussing as needed, walking about the house.  We never took a walk together in our neighborhood.

As I began planning our worldwide travels over a year ago I budgeted for rental cars for most locations fearing that Tom would seldom want to walk to nearby restaurants, shops, and pubs.

Living in Belize for an extended period, the cost of a rental car or even a golf cart was prohibitive.  After all, we are on the secluded peninsula of Placencia, a four-hour drive from Belize City where our ship arrived. 

Upon arriving, we resigned ourselves to occasionally renting a golf cart as needed.  Much to our liking, we now have our own cab driver Estevan, whom I’ve mentioned here, who will take us anywhere we’d like to go for reasonable rates during daylight hours leaving us to “hoof it” for dinners out at night.

With multiple good restaurants nearby requiring no more than a 10-minute walk each way, our transportation needs are fulfilled.  We dine out two or three times a week and love rotating our favorites, especially on the nights they offer their stupendous buffets.  If we go on an adventure, transportation is provided.  So, we walk.  Tom walks.

After moving to Laru Beya on February 5th with a massive expanse of white sand beach in front of our villa, Tom surprised me when within a few days of arriving he suggested we walk the beach, a popular tourist outing.  I always treasured walking in our old neighborhood with our precious little dogs to their favorite spot, Poop Park, often walking with our equally wonderful neighbors and their little dogs. 

As long as the temperature was above 10 degrees we walked. The pads of their little feet would quickly freeze at lower temperatures.  Often, our World Wide Willie would stop dead in his tracks looking up at me with sorrowful eyes that asked me to carry him home when he’d had enough and of course, I did.  In the snow, on the ice, I carried him home, all 22 pounds of him, often as much as a 1/2 mile.  I loved walking.  Tom, not so much, having never walked the neighborhood with me once in 22 years.

Each day we began to walk along the beach at a lofty pace, in the water or on the sand, carefully watching for stray rocks, shells and bits of glass, engaged in idle chatter or in quiet contemplation. 

We can change, can’t we?  Life circumstances often unplanned, force us to look at our often rigid ways, leaving us open to change, to grow and to learn.  Some take advantage of the opportunity, others do not.  We revel in watching each other depart from that which we knew as familiar and comfortable, to the new people we are fast becoming. 

The chairs here aren’t comfy, the kitchen supplies are limited, finding foods for our way of eating is challenging, not owning cars is peculiar and no Walgreen’s is daunting. But we change to accept the differences, growing and learning in the process, all the while reveling in our personal ability to adapt. 

As I over-packed for almost a year in Minnesota all the things that “I couldn’t live without” much of which is now packed to be shipped to my sister in Los Angeles when we get to Miami on April 13th, I realized that I too could let go of things, learning to live without the comfortable and the familiar.

All the kind and generous advice others gave us regarding our excess luggage could only have meaning to us when we discovered it on our own, in our own time, on our own terms.  We’ve changed.  We’ll continue to change.

Suddenly, we look at one another with new eyes, with a new interest, knowing that wherever we maybe we’ll learn new ways of life, we’ll release old ways that don’t work in a new environment and, without a doubt,  we’ll walk, we’ll walk and we’ll walk. 

From couch potato to world traveler…Happy birthday to my husband…

A hard-working, dedicated man, helper around the house, a supporter of my every whim, compassionate to my every sorrow, and infinitely able to make me laugh when I wanted to cry, my husband Tom has been a rock.

Today, we celebrate his 60th birthday. The world didn’t end of the 21st as he so fervently predicted, leaving us here today to celebrate his special day, the holiday season, and our upcoming world travels beginning in a mere 11 days.

Happy birthday, my love.  I commend you for getting up from your former comfy chair, away from your Minnesota Vikings, out from behind your computer endlessly researching your ancestry and freeing yourself from the constant chatter of mindless drivel on TV in the background.

I admire your courage to make this enormous change, leaving everyone you know and love behind (except me) to venture out into an unknown world of uncertainty, risk, and challenge.

I admire you for leaving behind everything familiar in your world in which you found the cocoon that comforted you after long days of work, the unbearable drive to and from, the smell of diesel fuel, and the wrenching exposure to chemicals around you each day.

Reaching for a purpose beyond that which we currently know, you stretch yourself to the limits, and I, a loyal follower travel with you. What lies ahead of us on the plains of Africa, the shores of southern  France, the Mayan ruins, the Great Pyramids remains to be seen.  Together, holding hands, we reach for the stars in the last decades of our lives, fearless, strong, and in love.

What more could I ask for?  Nothing.  Nothing more.

So today for the first time on your birthday, I have no gift for you to unwrap. You have no room in your luggage for yet the tiniest of trinkets. 

I give you, Tom Lyman, husband, lover, and best friend of mine, ongoing, on growing love and devotion, combined with an unending curiosity to gain further knowledge of this side of you that I have yet to learn.  This in itself, adds an element of adventure that I anxiously await.

Happy birthday, Tom Lyman, for on this day your 60th birthday as we celebrate with family and friends, you embark on this new chapter in your life, with me, my love,  simply writing the words along the way.

I love you.

Tom’s day for tests…

Most often I write the post for this blog every other morning.  This morning, as typical for medical procedures, we must be out the door before 8 am.  Tom is having both his colonoscopy and endoscopy, the final medical tests before we leave the US, four weeks from today.

Yesterday, was “clear liquids only” day.  He amazed me how well he did without a single complaint about hunger.  Since we’ve been on our low carb, gluten-free diet, either of us is seldom hungry, certainly never ravenous. It’s ironic how, when you feed your body what it needs, whole nutritious food, it sends out a few hunger signals.

Recently, we decided to stop eating based on the clock. Could we get our appetites in sync eating whenever we felt hungry as opposed to the time of day? Did the caveman watch a clock and go out and kill his meal in time for lunch or dinner? 

Hardly.  Most likely he hunted and gathered food for himself and his family, preparing it quickly to prevent spoilage which they consumed until stuffed, perhaps not eating again for another day or two.  Maybe we are meant to eat the same way to a degree. 

It’s not so much about hunting for our food in this modern world, but gathering our ingredients to create a healthful, nourishing and delicious meal to be fully enjoyed, eating again only when we’re hungry.  Both Tom and I love this concept.  Over the past several weeks, we’ve had dinner at varying times, huge breakfasts, and no dinner later that day, and now, for the first time, no real food all day.

So, yesterday, when “my hunter” was unable to hunt, I decided that I too would follow along and consume only simple liquids.  In this temporary home, smaller than that which we are used to,  there would be no place for me to eat without him smelling and seeing the food.  His gentle soul encouraged me to have whatever I wanted and he’d be fine. Instead, I decided to join him in this one day fast.

I considered making myself liver and onions, which he dislikes, but figured the smell might be intolerable on an empty stomach.  Instead, we ate a few sugar-free Popsicles, chicken bouillon, sugar-free Jello that I’d made the night before and plenty of iced tea and purified water.  We made it through the evening, hardly giving it a second thought as the day wore on.

At 5 PM he drank the first of two 6 ounce bottles of the prescribed SUPREP (with a ridiculous retail price of $75.  We paid a $25 co-pay) mixed with 10 ounces of water and the same again this morning at 5 AM, each time followed by an entire quart of water within an hour. 

He managed to chug down the 16 ounces of nasty tasting liquid along with the required quart of within an hour.  Nonetheless, it worked. Surprisingly, he slept through the night to be awakened by my cell phone alarm clock going off at 5 AM.  After the same drinking process again this morning, the results continued. All in all, the prep was relatively easy. 

If you have hesitated to have a colonoscopy due to fear of the prep, please reconsider.  A day at home watching mindless TV, lots of liquids, a few minutes of chugging a foul-tasting drink, multiple trips to the loo, and the first phase is over.
So, this morning we’re preparing to go out the door for the appointment soon for the second phase.  We’ll be reporting back here later today with what we hope and pray will be great results…that all is well and we may proceed with our plans to travel the world for as long as we want, as long as our health holds out until we get tired until we are sick of our bags or until we find a place along the way, that we mutually agree is truly where we’ll call “home.”  One never knows.

11:15 AM – We’re back from Tom’s test.  His signs of Barrett’s esophagus are gone!  He has no polyps!  The visible signs of irritable bowel are gone!  Dr. Larry Pass, here in Scottsdale, tells Tom to keep “doing what you’ve been doing!”  Our healthy diet has paid off in only 16 months. 

We hoped for this good result since Tom’s acid reflux disappeared within 30 days on this way of eating:  low carb, grain-free, wheat-free, starch-free, and sugar-free (no corn, no rice, no beans, no grains of any type). Plus, he’s lost 50 pounds of belly fat since August 2011!

We’re free to breathe easy knowing we can continue with our plans to travel the world. We are grateful.  We are relieved.  Perhaps, now, we can begin to allow ourselves the privilege of getting excited without trepidation and without hesitation. 

Now I must jump over to Dr. William Davis’s blog and thank him for the great inspiration he offered us when we read his book, Wheat Belly so many months ago.  Thank you, Dr. Davis!