Where Have You Been?

That’s what you’ve been asking, right?  Come on — confess.  I know you’ve missed me.  I could feel it. And I’ve missed you.

I don’t know — I hate to admit this or even really think this but, is my advanced age causing me to be too easily distracted?  Where does my day go?  I need to put my laptop back up on my third floor, that’s for sure.  I’ll think of something I need to Google and two hours of playing games later, I walk away. Sound familiar?  I know I have company out there!

So what have I been up to you ask? Well aside from the hectic pace of the holidays, I had two cataract surgeries in December.  My distance vision is great now, but dealing with  reading glasses has been driving me crazy. I’ve worn glasses for 62 years.  They were the first thing on my head in the morning and the last thing off my body at night.  How do people manage readers?  Besides reading and looking at my computer screen, there’s like a million things I need to see.  Like chopping vegetables instead of my fingers, for instance.  I look like Chuck Schumer with his glasses hanging off his nose.  Hate! Hate! Hate! I decided to spend $400 on new glasses with a mild distance prescription and bifocals so I wouldn’t have to deal with this annoyance. Sometimes, I’ll wear them and sometimes not. I actually see better without them.  When I go back to my doctor in March, I’ll have him check them. I’m obsessed with my vision right now.

Then, Christmas Eve I got the flu.  That lasted two whole weeks.  Is there a theme going on here?  Whine, whine, whine.

The last three weeks my grandson has been tracked out of school, so he’s been hanging with Grandma.  This is a good thing.  Well, as long as I’m not making him do something he doesn’t want to do, that is. Just prior to his tracking out, I was paying my credit card bill and my balance was higher than I expected. Turned out he had been charging robux on this game he plays, Roblox, to the tune of $257.62.  Whoa!

He had my old iPad and so I immediately contacted my son to take it away from him until I could get my card info off of it.  It turned out not to be as easy as I expected, but “Nevertheless, she persisted.” My teenage granddaughter could have done it in 5 minutes, but it took me most of the day. Luckily, Apple refunded all the charges.  Woo.

Thursday was our last day together. He goes back to school on Monday. I’ll miss him.

Now that I’m unencumbered, I can concentrate on my stuff seeing as how I can sorta see and I’m not blowing my nose every thirty seconds. Jim and I leave for Tuscany on Wednesday.  How’s that for a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? So I’m finalizing the last bit of detail.  Most of you would probably be making a list of the museums, etc. you want to see.  We’ll head down to Florence, of course, and to Lucca and on to Viareggio for their Carnivale. But me?  I’ve been researching the Milan train station!

What?? We’re doing what? We opted not to take the rental car that was included because Jim was too old for them to let him be a driver. Really.  Talk about feeling old! How’d you like to hear that? I didn’t want to be the sole driver, lest I “lose my shit” and park the car somewhere and walk away. And so much of what I’ve read on TripAdvisor indicated that it’s less stressful to just take trains.  Not enough parking in places and we won’t even discuss the narrow winding roads and crazy drivers. Hence the Milan train station.

The last time I was using trains in Milan, it was a nightmare. I didn’t want to be in that situation again. Heck, the last time, two in our group broke into tears and I had a hissy fit on the train. So, I’m prepared. A kind soul on TripAdvisor told me exactly what train to get from Milan to Montecatini Ferme.  And there is a station at the airport into Milan, so I printed out the airport map and her directions and know exactly what we need to do.  Problem solved, I think. Hey, I have my priorities.  And it’s to not have a hissy fit again! Getting from point A to point B to point C is a biggie.  And if I happen to run across the Statue of David, that will be a plus. Mostly, I’m wanting to eat some great food and drink some great wine and meet some nice Italians. And we’ll be staying in a spa town, so some mineral baths are on the horizon.

Catch you when we get back!






This is something I posted three years ago.  It still holds true.

I watched a video on the Internet recently about what characteristic people possess that makes them the most happy.  I was attracted to this video because I’ve wondered it myself. Why do some people always seem so content?  Do they have especially good lives?  I’ve had people tell me that I must have had an easy life because I laugh so much.  I haven’t, by the way.

So … the attribute that is most important for being happy?  Gratitude!  Since then, I’ve thought about it a lot.  Do I have gratitude?  I do!  I didn’t realize it until I began to think about it, but I do.  That doesn’t mean I’m unrealistic or that I’ve never had “bad” things happen in my life or that I’ve never been disappointed.  Quite the contrary.  I know those things are there, I just don’t dwell on them.  When I look back on my life, I see the good things and good times, first and foremost.

  • I have two great kids (Todd and Amy, whom I’m so proud to call my children) and two wonderful grandchildren (Lila and Shane).
  • A new man (Jim) in my life who is kind, caring and enthusiastic and loves traveling.
  • A previous man (Paul) who remains a good, dear and kind friend who taught me more than he’ll ever know.
  • A husband of 35 years (Larry) who left this Earth way too early and shared so many of those good times.
  • A brother (John) who flew out to CA to drive cross country with me when I moved back East.
  • His wife, my sister-in-law (Deb) who came and spent two weeks packing my belongings for my move, so I could work my last two weeks.
  • My nieces and nephews who have all made me glad to have them as part of my family.  They each have their place in my heart.
  • So many friends who have stepped in and out of my life, contributing bits and pieces to my life when I’ve needed them most.
  • My new friends here in Murrells Inlet who make life fun and make me glad to be here.

I have found  that life is too short to let it pass me by without squeezing every bit of fun out of it.  Living in an adult community, I’ve learned you can’t count on there being a tomorrow.  I wish all young people would learn this, as well.  Accidents and illness happen to them too.  So … since life can change very dramatically from one minute to the next, I intend to enjoy all my minutes.  I hope you do too.

If you are interested in watching the video, this is the link:http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-discover-one-of-the-greatest-contributing-factors-to-happiness-youll-thank-me


It’s not just the BIG things…

If I would just win the lottery.  Once I get through this week.  This month.  I’ll sure be glad when this year is over. These are thoughts I’ve had over the years.  Honestly, I think I spent so many years wishing my life away. I suspect many of you have or do, as well.

I realize I don’t do that anymore. I’m satisfied with my life as it is right now.  Is it because I’ve settled into and embraced retirement finally? Or maybe it’s that I am now fully into my 7th decade and I no longer sweat the small stuff. Maybe it’s a state of mind because really, it’s all about the small stuff.

The big stuff is great.  Kind of like the icing on the cake.  Maybe you’re the icing type of person.  I’ve always preferred the cake.  Anyone want my icing?

These past three weeks have been my cake.  My grandson was tracked out for those weeks from school.  Both he and my granddaughter have been attending year-round schools.  They are in school for 10 weeks, then out for three. This occurs four times a year. My granddaughter is now in high school and it follows a traditional school calendar. Consequently, she was not available to care for Shane.  This fell to me.  In the past, they’d both be home and I’d be a chauffeur for her and the person who’d play card games and such with him. This first track out for the year gave me time to spend with him alone. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

Mostly, our days consisted of him walking in and taking possession of my computer to play Roblox. It’s more fun on my laptop than his iPad I was told. And I mostly got food together because he was hungry. All. The. Time. And now that he’s eight, he actually will eat things besides mac ‘n cheese and chicken nuggets/tenders. Well, truth be told, those two items still make up the bulk of his menu. But hey, progress is progress, after all.

Yesterday was our last day together.  Monday he goes back to school.  So as a finale, my son took the day off and we went to the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, NC. It’s a favorite destination of ours. It has grown into the largest collection of exotic and rare waterfowl in the world. The facility now houses more than 3,000 birds representing 140 species.  It also plays a role in protecting endangered species.

We ended our visit with a stop in The Landing.  This is an enclosed area where you feed the birds with popsicle stick coated with seeds. We had a lot of fun with them landing on our heads, shoulders, and a favorite, my backpack.

All in all … a great day.

While hopping on a plane and flying off to some new or favorite place is fun, you can’t underestimate the joy of the small stuff.



Can I do this again?

I really liked Killarney.  It was easy to navigate around town and I enjoyed the shopping district, but we move on. Next stop … Ennistymon, County Clare. What great scenery we saw along the way.  We stopped in a neat village called Adare.  After wandering around a bit, we went into Pat Collins Bar for some lunch.  Marie and I began a love affair with the soup we ate in Ireland!  I had vegetable soup, blended.  I promised myself I was going to blend my soup from then on, but so far I haven’t honored that promise since being home.

We arrived at Ennistymon late afternoon. Since it was a relatively small town, we headed straight to the hotel.  Falls Hotel and Spa was nice enough for us to stay put. We had a  beautiful room in a beautiful hotel and the bathroom was extraordinary. How often do you say or hear that?  But, we were very impressed. From now on, all bathrooms will be held to that standard. Large, dark wood, ceramic tile, chrome … just impressive.

When we arrived, the place was full with locals watching a finals Irish soccer match.  Dublin won. By the time we registered and got our bags in the room, the match was over and the bar had emptied out. We missed an opportunity to talk soccer … or Trump with the locals.  So we followed our normal routine … hit the bar for our afternoon libation.  Marie had her drink of choice — Irish coffee, while Jim and I  stayed with wine and scotch.  As we sat and enjoyed the view of the falls and the town in the distance, a  sheep dog came bounding into the corral to herd the donkeys back to their barn. The donkeys weren’t really having any of it.  Mostly they were hiding under a little bridge. The sheep dog evidently decided the hell with it because he just went back to the barn and laid down. Kinda like dealing with your kids … whatever! Marie then headed out to climb over rocks and hills to take pictures. Jim and I sat and drank our adult beverages and watched her.

After breakfast the next morning, we loaded up and headed out.  Next stop?  Oughterard. I did receive instruction from the bartender in how to say it, but I’m wasn’t always successful. The “ough” is sort of like “auk”.

We took the scenic route via the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. More beautiful scenery. Ireland is packed full of beautiful sights.  The Cliffs are self explanatory.  The Burren is what it sounds like … barren. It’s limestone without any soil cover.  After all the green grass, it was such a stark contrast. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore much of it.  It was best experienced by bicycle or walking.

As we exited the Burren, we stopped in Ballyvaughan for lunch. We saw a neat looking place sitting on the water and decided it would be a great place for lunch.  Monks Bar & Seafood Restaurant. Once again, we loved every spoonful of the most wonderful soup. Yum. Yum.

After our delicious lunch and some silly picture taking, we got back in the car to head up to Oughterard. We missed a turn in Galway, but managed to get it corrected and reached our destination without further issue.  As I was reading off the highlights of things about Oughterard, we discovered part of The Quiet Man (old John Wayne movie) was filmed here. This got Jim really excited as he loves movies … old ones included. This became a “must see.”

We stayed in a really nice B&B with extremely nice and helpful hosts — Carrown Tober House.  We deposited our bags and after asking where The Quiet Man bridge was, we went in search of it. We found it, with a minimal number of wrong turns, as well as a mini bus of tourists from Minnesota. We all took turns getting our pictures.  Jim was sooo excited.

We went back to town for some liquid libation and some local interaction. We chose a place because of its thatched roof … Powers Thatched Restaurant and Bar. Turned out to be the right choice. Once again, we were on the receiving end of barbs about the President we elected. We definitely saw a pattern here. We had some great laughs with one bartender and when his shift ended, we were subjected to the same comments from the next one. (We laughed with him.)  Isn’t this a neat looking place?


Next stop … Cong.  This will be on our way back to back to Dublin for our last night.  Having learned about that part of The Quiet Man was filmed in this town, Jim had Pat Cohan’s Tavern on his must-do list.  After a tasty lunch at Puddleducks Cafe we walked up the street to have a drink at Cohan’s. What? What?  It can’t be!  Closed on Tuesdays?  No!  It can’t be. Not only was it closed, but shutters were across the inside of the windows and we couldn’t see in.  Bummer. Oh well.

On to Ashford Castle so Marie could take some more castle pictures.  Wow!  Really impressive.  And expensive.  People with lots of money … lots of money … like movie stars, etc … get married here.

AND … the Piece de Resistance?  Some of the buildings here were used in the movie. The  one with the red porch is the one Maureen O’Hara lived in with her dad, I believe.  My memory isn’t what it used to be.  It was fixed up, the red porch not being there when the movie was made.

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We were happy campers when we got back in our car.  This last day was definitely a good one.  Onward to Dublin for our last night.

Lest you think it was smooth sailing from here, think again.  We did not leave Ireland without stress.  Heck, we didn’t even get to our hotel in Dublin without stress.  We managed to get into Dublin during rush hour.  With no GPS or even a great city map.  Not that a map of any type would have helped much. Coming into town we planned to head to the airport because the directions I had for the hotel had easier directions from the airport. BUT … we missed the airport exit off the freeway or whatever they call them there. Hence our foray into downtown Dublin at 5:30 p.m. Marie had her phone GPS on, but the phone signal couldn’t keep up with our need to make decisions on turning or going straight ahead.  Street signs aren’t on posts at the corners like in the U.S.  They are on small signs on the corners of the buildings, so you need to get rather close. Yikes!

We had discussed getting gas near the airport so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning, but obviously that wasn’t happening. Basically, we were going wherever traffic was taking us. At one point, Marie’s GPS got us heading in the right direction but couldn’t keep up. Oh boy!  And don’t forget, I’m the navigator in the back seat because I’m a lousy passenger. Can you visualize the three stooges in the car trying not to scream, yell and smack each other in the head? It took all the control we had.  Or at least I had. (Pat on the back for us all.)

All of a sudden we were in the vicinity of our hotel, The Croke Park Hotel right by the Croke Park Stadium. Thank you, Jesus.  Whoops, we went the wrong way on a one way street. Hallelujah! There it was! We parked that damned car and never felt so happy to be somewhere in our whole lives.

As per our normal pattern, we checked in and put our bags in the room. Woo … nice room. And once again, nice bathroom. I continue my love affair with bathrooms! Staying in better hotels than Holiday Inn Express will do that for you. After our unplanned adventure in Dublin rush hour traffic, we went looking for the bar. Found the restaurant instead. Good enough. Double duty.  We ordered our drinks and then our dinner from a very nice waitress from Nigeria. Feeling sated and relaxed, we headed up to our room to organize our bags and hit the bed.  We had a very early flight out of Dublin … 6:50 a.m. And we needed to fill up the gas and return the car. Not to mention check in and get through security. We all set our phones and iPads for 4:00 a.m.

The next morning, we stumbled around getting ourselves ready. When we checked out I verified the directions to get to the airport.  Now bear in mind, it was pitch black outside when we left. We were told to make a right turn and then head straight until we got on M50.  Well, the straight part of it ended and we had to choose, left or right. We chose left and came onto a freeway.  Yay … M50.  We’re doing good.  When we got to the toll booth, we needed to pay.  But the sign in our car clearly stated we weren’t to pay the toll on the M50. Well, this wasn’t the M50, it was M4 or 1 or 6. It was something not the M50.

We managed to get to the airport and were so stressed we decided the hell with filling up the gas.  Let them do it.  We got to the car rental return place and WHAT? It was gated shut and wouldn’t open until 6 a.m. It was 5:30 a.m. There was a sign that said we could take it to someplace across from the terminal and leave it.  But after driving around twice, we couldn’t find it and ended up back at the rental return. At that point it was 10 minutes until they opened , so we parked in front of the gate and waited. Jim reminded us that he was right when he pointed out where we were to leave the car.  And he was right, I had to acknowledge. We should have listened.  But when do two women listen to one man, I ask?

We made it through check-in and security in time to make our flight. Okay!  We made it! We were flying back to Paris on Aer Lingus to get our flight back to JFK on Air France, then onto Raleigh on American. Well surprise, surprise. Air France canceled our flight and we were going to be leaving 4 hours later. We could have slept longer!  We were now going to miss our connection in JFK to Raleigh. Marie got our missed flight out of JFK changed to the following morning while I found a hotel to stay in that night. And I learned that if you use different airlines that wasn’t scheduled by one of them, you are on your own.  Air France did give each of us an 11 Euro voucher for lunch vs. the $250 we were paying for a hotel room by JFK.

Checking in the next morning, we found that only 2 of us could get on the flight.  One had to be on stand-by. They had already checked Marie and I in.  Jim was the one who’d have to wait for the next flight out unless someone gave up their seat.  No one did. So Marie gave up her’s to Jim, and got an $800 voucher.  Jim and I arrived back in Raleigh, took a short nap, grabbed Marie’s other suitcase and clothing she left at my house and we drove back to the airport to meet Marie.  She had to fly out to Denver for a wedding a few hours later. Success.

With all we went through the last day, I’d do it again in a minute. I’m not sure I would choose Air France again. They did the same thing to us when we flew over to France. But, I guess all the airlines do things like that nowadays.

And remember when we dropped off our car and figured they could fill it up?  This was a economy car.  I would estimate the size about like my Honda Civic with a 14 gallon gas tank. Well, it cost me $80.


Au Revoir, Paree, it was great! But, Eire calls.

It was mixed emotions on my part to actually leave Paris.  But we had a week to spend in Ireland and looked forward to some new adventures there.  I had been there before, but would be seeing a few new places. So we loaded our bags into the taxi and took off for Charles De Gaulle airport. Wow! Huge airport and half the population of the world was there. Or so it seemed. Long, long, long line to show our passports.  Then long, long, long line to go through security. But, I’d rather they be thorough than not.

The terminal itself was very nice.  Good stores … expensive stores.  And nice eateries.  Not to mention the lounge to rest our weary feet. Anyone need a nap?

lounge in CDG

But, alas, no time for a nap now. Where were these when I needed one?

Two hours later — Hello Dublin!  We got our cab and began the drive to the hotel.  Our cab driver was a riot!  As soon as we got in our seats, he wanted to know what the heck was wrong with Americans? And then he started in on Trump. We couldn’t argue with him because we shared his views.  The world’s watching and we had to accept the fact that we were a laughing-stock. A country to be made jokes about. Clearly not on a path toward making America great again. Sad.

Dublin.  Hmmm … not a favorite city.  Don’t get me wrong.  There were plenty of historic sites and history here. My favorite being the Old General Post Office where the Easter Rising of 1916 began. I’ve had a fascination with that event from Irish history for quite a few years. And with Michael Collins, but he didn’t enter into much that occurred at the Post Office. More about him later.

Next would be Trinity College and the Old Library, not to mention the Book of Kells. I loved the library. All that was needed was a recliner and I could live here. Well, and a bathroom too.Paris...Ireland2 003 (640x402)

Why didn’t I care much for Dublin?  It felt crowded to me.  Lots of buses and people.  And too many Americans, it seemed.  Going into pubs or restaurants, all around us —  Americans.  I wanted to get to know locals, not people from my backyard.

The last night, we walked to the corner and entered a restaurant/bistro — Copper Alley Bistro. We were the first ones in there and began to question our decision.  There was music playing in the background and lo and behold a song by Eros Ramazotti came on.  Okay — now I loved this place. One of my favorite singers.  Turned out the owners or managers were Italian. And our food was wonderful.  We enjoyed every forkful as we did our drinks and desserts.  As we were eating the place got very busy.  Glad we arrived when we did.  We definitely recommend this place.

The next morning, we took a taxi to pick up our rental car … a Skoda. Some compact model that used diesel fuel. Marie did a fantastic job of driving us out-of-town.  After all, this was left lane driving with the steering wheel on the right. I am confessing to one and all that I am the worst passenger.  I truly am.  I know it.  And I apologize for it.  I rode in the front left side because I was navigator. That put me front and left looking close up to all the rock walls, etc.  There was a lot of grabbing the dash, pushing of my imaginary brake, hand going to the roof … you get the picture, I’m sure. Thankfully both Marie and Jim allowed me to remain in the car. I’d have tossed my butt out. I did direct her off the M6 or M9 or whatever it was into the lane of oncoming traffic.  Luckily, there was no oncoming traffic at the time. Yikes!

After several days, I decided I wanted to ride in the back. My nerves just couldn’t take it anymore.  This was a small car, after all.  When Jim rode in my former seat, I did hear an intake of breath several times.

Our first stop was Kinsale, by way of Waterford to pick up some crystal. Kinsale, we could have done without. It was a small town on the water, but extremely crowded.  Too many cars.  Streets too narrow.  Street signs almost non-existent. This was September and I can only imagine what it must be like in the summer. We finally found the B&B we were staying at by accident, I should admit. Scratch Kinsale.  I have since found people either love it or hate it.

We found this wonderful old church on our way to our next stop…. Killarney, County Kerry.

We were driving through a town called Macroom.  Michael Collins (remember from my Dublin opening?) was outside of this place at a crossroads called Beal na Blath when he was ambushed and killed.  I really wanted to see it, so I was watching for a sign but we were heading around a curve when I saw it, and there was no place to turn around. Sad. This was true of most of the roads we drove on.

We were staying at Muckross Riding Stables B&B in Killarney. When we got there, we kept seeing signs for Muckross House and thought that was where we were staying. Not!  We stopped by a horse and buggy lot to ask if this was the right place and when told that no one stayed there, we decided to seize the moment and take a horse and buggy ride to the castle.  What a treat! The horse’s name was Joey. I don’t know what the driver’s name was but I do know he was having a nip or two when no one was looking. But, he had been doing this for 30 years, so I’d have been nipping too.  The only issue?  It was cold and drizzly.

Since we had no idea where our B&B was …obviously not what we just saw … one of the buggy drivers gave us directions.  Boy, look at this place!  There were horses and cows, too. I guess that’s why it was called Muckross Riding Stables. We could have ridden the horses had we so desired, which I did not. This was a neat place and the breakfast was wonderful. Between Paris and Ireland, Marie and I couldn’t get enough of the bread. Yum … yum.  The Irish bread was heavy and dark. And moist. I ate bread a lot.

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How neat was this?  This was definitely not Holiday Inn Express. We spent our day in Killarney and I believe … but I might be wrong about this … that Marie bought the city out of Irish wool sweaters. She chose to have them shipped which made us very happy as her suitcase weighed at least 100 pounds, I think.

I could continue on with this but I don’t want your eyes to glaze over, so I’ll continue in my next edition. This ends our fourth night out of seven. We were loving Ireland!












Is it wrong to write about having fun?

With all the distressing events in our world right now, I feel frivolous writing about the fun I’ve been having. But … I need the diversion.  So bear with me.

Just one month ago, my friends, Marie from California and Jim from South Carolina, arrived at my house in North Carolina to begin our adventure to Paris and Ireland.  After months of planning, endless emails, calls and texts, we were going to find out if all the arrangements and plans were going to work out.  We already had our flight in the morning to NY changed to an earlier time by the airline.  This would make our layover longer, so what the heck?  We’d just head into Manhattan for a few hours. Not so fast.  After checking our bags which included our rain gear, it started to rain.  Scratch that plan.  Then our flight to Charles De Gaulle in Paris got delayed by 3 hours. We managed to get our flight changed to Orly airport at our original time. We then did what self-respecting travelers do, we headed to a cocktail lounge.

Finally … we arrived!  Gay Paree! Hello Paris!  Glad to be here.  My favorite city.  We proceeded to the apartment we rented for the week.  This was one of my big worries.  Was it going to be as portrayed in the pictures?  It was!  It was in a building that was built in the 1800s. And we loved it. Lugging the suitcases up winding narrow stairs to the third floor wasn’t particularly fun and I’m glad I packed light.

Now that’s a bathroom with some reading material!

I’ve been told by my fellow participants that I walked their legs off the first day.  Sorry guys!  My enthusiasm for walking around Paris got the best of me. Since this was not my first trip to Paris, I was the tour guide. Ha! The rest of the days we traveled by Metro, which generally involved a lot of stairs … up and down. At least I didn’t subject them to that the first day! It was very exciting when we encountered an escalator to take us up.

And then, another day of small complaints about all the walking … Louvre, Tuileries, Place de la Concorde to Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. But, we stopped again for another drink at a cafe. Well, truth be told, we stopped for several drinks at several cafes.

The thing that made me sad … during my prior visits, you could walk right up and under the Eiffel Tower.  Now there were barricades and security to go through. The world is not changing for the better. But the view of it still makes your heart stop. And at night when it lit up and the twinkle lights came on, it was absolutely charming.  What a beautiful sight.

One afternoon when we were heading back to our apartment, we stopped at a cafe a few blocks away for a drink.  We did this a lot.  A lot. As we were sitting there at a table outside watching the people walk by, this creature jumped out and very loudly greeted us. He was one of our favorite remembrances of the trip.  What a delightful man.  So we had wine and pizza … a great Bordeaux, one pizza with olives and anchovies and the other with tomatoes and basil, but not like we get back home. We had so much fun with this waiter, who couldn’t speak English, that we went back on our last night just to eat the same pizzas, drink the same wine and say good by to this very funny guy. I wish we had thought to get a picture with him.

I asked Jim what his favorite part of Paris was and not discounting the beauty of the architecture, the, churches and museums, he felt exactly as I did … sitting at the cafes drinking some wine and watching the people. The difference doing it there rather than a big city in the U.S. — it was quiet! The drivers were attentive and courteous. The people were fashionably dressed. I marveled at the cut of the suits or pants and jackets the men wore. Very impressive. And most of them were lean.  They do a lot of walking. A lesson for us, perhaps.

While drinking our wine, we ate a lot of charcuterie.  I believe I had a platter everyday. There were variations, but the cheeses, sausages and pork were wonderful. And lets not forget the bread that came with it.


On our next to last night, we took a dinner cruise on the Seine.  This picture sums up how Jim and I felt about the week we had there. And for those of you wondering, we felt safe.

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It’s blurry, but clearly shows our joy.

On to Ireland … catch you later.




How Do You Do It?

This is a question I’ve been asked a few times, most recently last night. A long time friend called after reading my recent blog post about my travels wanting to know that very thing. Her feeling was that I had a lot more money than she realized.  Well, I didn’t ask how much she thought I had, but I did respond that it wasn’t that I had a lot … it was that perhaps I chose to spend mine differently.

Back in the 60s when we bought our first house, I remember realizing that if someone got a new television delivered you could rest assured that there would be televisions being delivered up and down the street. And over the years, I’ve found that to be true with cars, houses, clothes … whatever.

That was just not my thing.  While I enjoy walking into friends homes that are nicely decorated with all the newest trends and I think about redoing my home, I then equate that money as better spent on trips. Or take clothes, for instance.  I don’t recreational shop.  I’ll shop twice a year for myself.  Going into summer because the previous years stuff is usually pretty worn having been washed so much. And going into winter if I’ve gained weight or lost weight.  Winter clothes don’t need replacing that much. Not to mention it helps to be old and not care about the current fashion.

When I had to replace my car, sure I loved those really cool SUVs.  But, wow! Those price tags.  So I got another Honda Civic. I still fantasize about tooling around in one of those cars.  Remember, I lived in Southern California for a long time and learned you are what you drive. I’m not quite sure what my Honda Civic says about me.

When Jim and I are together, we might go out to eat once a week.  We don’t do it most days. When I’m by myself, I like to go to Chipotle.  I get one of their bowls and I can get two or three meals out of it.

So go ahead … call me cheap.  I know I am. Jim keeps forgetting that I’m cheap. Or he chooses to forget when he’s proposing another trip.  Does my carpet need to be replaced?  Yeah. But that Viking River cruise down the Rhine is such a better way for me to spend my money.

My daughter laughs at me because I won’t throw away the tissue paper from gift bags.  I iron it and reuse it. Plastic ziplock bags?  Yep … wash those and reuse them.  Then there’s those lightweight produce bags. Good for lots of things too.

When I grocery shop I don’t buy just anything, I generally buy what’s on sale. I rarely buy steak.  But I do buy canned tuna a lot.  I buy whatever laundry detergent is the cheapest that week.  I do buy loads of fruit though.  It’s a shame the things good for us cost the most, isn’t it?

Are you getting my drift? It’s not how much we have, it’s how we choose to spend it.  Travel is at the top of my list right after my essential needs. And since we are retired, we can take advantage of all the great deals on travel.  We can go on short notice or during off seasons.  We’re going to Tuscany for 8 days including room, car and flight for $800 each.  But, it’s in February. It’ll be cold but it will be cold here too.  So why not? I’ve never been to Tuscany.  I want to see it and feel it. And February is such a dreary month.

I don’t have many wants, otherwise. I don’t golf, work out at a gym, go out to lunch, gamble, smoke, get my nails done. Jim once asked me what I would buy if I won the lottery.  After thinking for a while I told him I’d buy a new car.  (This was before I had to buy a new car.) What kind?  Another Honda Civic. (Which was exactly what I bought.)  What?? Not a Cadillac or Jaguar or Mercedes?  No.  A Honda Civic.  And I’d buy better brands of clothing… better quality stuff … like from Dillard’s, instead of Kohl’s, Belk’s or Macy’s. And maybe a pair of leather boots.  I can’t bring myself to spend the money on them even though I really want them. I don’t need them.

Definitely El Cheapo, here.