Sunday, February 16, 2020

Jamaica trip, 1st half.

So we had a perfect plan - drive to Nashville after work Thursday, spend the night at a cheap motel near the airport, fly out at dawn to Miami, and then another flight to arrive in Kingston, Jamaica a little after noon on Friday, pick up our rental car, head up north to a place we'd rented in the Blue Mountains, and fly back home mid-day Monday. We all know what happens to perfect plans.
I got up in the middle of the night to try to adjust the heater to make the fan block out some of the noise at the God-awful cheap motel, and saw a text letting me know our flights had been canceled due to snow. They offered to give us flights that would get us there either Saturday night or Sunday night. No. So after more than an hour on hold and being disconnected, we got through to the airline and they finally arranged for us to fly that morning to LaGuardia, then back down to Miami, and THEN to Jamaica, arriving that night. It was our only viable option, so we took it, and I scrambled to make a new reservation near Kingston for the first night. We sat on the tarmac for a quite a while while they de-iced the plane, but fortunately our connecting flight was held for us. On our flight from Miami, the first class section just a few rows ahead was occupied by Jamaica's Prime Minister and his security detail.
After a hairy wrong turn into a bustling and not-particularly friendly neighborhood in Kingston and a close-call with an angry driver, we got to the place I'd rented for the night in Bull's Bay. And it was amazing. The ocean was literally a few feet from our balcony.
We left the balcony door wide open all night to hear the ocean. I can't remember when I've slept that soundly.
We had a glass of wine on the balcony before bed and sat for a while with a cup of hot tea in the morning, just watching the waves and the pelicans.
Leaving the airbnb in the morning, we drove north along the coast. I say "we," but I didn't drive. My job was to help navigate and to offer periodic reminders to "stay left!"
The roads were often insanely rutted and narrow, and animals wandered freely. Cows, chickens, goats, dogs. People walk in the road a lot, too. Couple that with extremely aggressive drivers and you have an adventurous ride.
But what a beautiful place! And we got perfect weather the whole time, with highs in the mid-80's.
We stopped in Manchioneal around 10am for breakfast. I saw a bartender and people drinking in Monk's Seafood Shop as we passed, so we turned around and went in to see if there was food available. The bartender cracked open a couple of beers for us while the cook threw two snapper into the oil.
A whole fish, vegetables, and crackers soaked in the sauce. I ate every bite of mine. As we ate, we talked with some of the local people who wandered in out of curiosity, to smoke, have a drink, and chat with us. I got the impression that this was not a place tourists ever stopped in. One guy, who identified himself as the Chief of the town, was knocking back glasses of gold rum and a local energy drink  mixed with a shot of overproof. He probably shook our hands three dozen times. And then suggested that it was the custom to pay homage to the Chief with a tip. I don't believe that for a minute, but he was happy with the $100 Jamaican note (about 71 cents), which went toward another drink.
The drive wound its way in and out of tiny communities and along the shore.
Later in the drive, we stopped in another small town,  at this wonderfully-named grocery store.
We picked up a couple of beers and some crackers to have for snacks.
When we got to Portland, we went to Winnifred Beach, one of the few free beaches.
It was quiet and everyone was friendly, and I could have stayed for weeks.
The water was a little cool so I didn't do more than wade in.
There were several little restaurant/bars and my husband went in to this one to get us rum drinks and ask about the food. The cook, Cynthia, told us she'd be getting lobster in the next day and would save a good one for us.
Then back on the road to Port Antonio. This time the road hazard was a herd of goats.
We ate at this little place right by the road that went to our lodging.
The area specializes in jerk, so we had jerk fish and jerk chicken, both with fried plantains and breadfruit. Another really good meal, and the cook came out to talk with us. He had told some regular guests that we were friends of his, and one of them bought us a second round of Red Stripes. It had been a long couple of days and we were glad to head on to our Airbnb  in the mountains that evening.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Break time!

We're headed out for a few days to take a little break in the sun. Perfect timing, because it's been raining like crazy, the temperature is dropping, and they are calling for snow tonight. Other than a purse, this is literally all I'm taking with me. My husband has a comparable stack and it all fits into a single carry on.

I meant to get around to blogs before I left but flat ran out of time. I will when we return and also post about this little getaway.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Out and about.

We've been trying to spend a little more more time getting out to hear live music - especially when it's free! Downtown they have a taping of a live radio show every day at noon, so we took in one on a recent Saturday.
It's generally Americana/Appalachian music. Fortunately I love that. The studio at the visitor's center sells coffee, but on this occasion we had just had breakfast and just dropped in for the music.
Today, we went to a brunch at the Cancer Support Community with live music. There was a really good spread of food - quiches, bagels, gingerbread, fruit, and coffee and juice. The band is one we've seen before, and includes a therapist who works at the center. And again - free! At least to cancer patients/survivors and their families.

One sad note was my next-door neighbor coming up to say hello and tell me she'd "joined the club." That is a club we current members don't want anyone to have to join. And her boyfriend, who has had the house next to ours for all of his adult life, lost his first wife to breast cancer. My neighbor on the other side also had breast cancer. Three houses in a row, four incidences of breast cancer. What are the odds?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Progress Report

I wasn't kidding about my career change being an adjustment. Here's where I am so far:
I have started working as a contract employee for a group that does psychological evaluations for disability services. I am doing a day a week now, and will add in a second day next month. I've stopped taking new patients in private practice and am condensing my schedule to three days. It's not been exactly a smooth transition. Turns out, right now I am the only person in the office on the day I do testing. Which is just a little weird. The first day, I had NO idea about how it was all supposed to work and found myself trying to figure out how to use the fax machine and how to structure the evaluations. Also, I'd been given the wrong code to the building and someone had to let me in. Fortunately, I was only scheduled with clinical interviews my very first day, which I could do in my sleep. The other glitch has been that I keep getting scheduled to do tests that I'm not familiar with (yet) and have to get people rescheduled. I asked which tests they needed most so I know what order to tackle learning them. First up, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. I used to do those in grad school and earlier in my career but a much older version. But it's coming back to me. And I will also learn tests I've never encountered in due time. I remind myself that if I could do neuropsych evals, I can sure do these. And I got very positive feedback on my first set of reports, so I know I'm on track.  I don't even care that the office is ugly. I like just handing in my reports and not having to think about it again, and I am also very excited about being able to walk away from dealing with loathsome insurance companies.
The bigger question, I suppose, is the why of this change. Well, I'll tell you. I've been doing therapy now for 30 years. I'm a little tired. I was planning to just continue in private practice, gradually reducing my days when I got older, until I retired. And then, you know, cancer. I have to say, it just changed me. At first, I was so focused on just getting though the surgeries and chemo that I didn't really acknowledge to myself how much it changed me. And I thought that there was even a positive effect of it deepening my understanding of how it feels to have something truly frightening and difficult thrown into your life. And then... the long-term-ness of it set in. For one, the constant fatigue caused by the endocrine therapy I'll be on for a decade (assuming all goes well). And the ongoing awareness that there's a good chance it will come back. It's just an ever-present thing. Like a couple of weeks ago when I found a lump and ended up with an ultrasound to rule out a local recurrence or lymphoma related to the reconstruction. They decided it's a watch and wait sort of thing, and that's a relief. But it reminded me that life is just too short to keep doing something that I don't want to do anymore.
It has been gradually dawning on me over the past year that I'm not enjoying what I'm doing and I no longer have much patience for minor complaints. When someone walks in and says, "I have been up since 5:30," I think, "Wah." Hell, I can't even remember the last time I slept through the night and being awake for hours in the middle of the night has become commonplace for me. Headache? Cold? Sprained ankle? Need for a tonsillectomy? Big deal. And not just physical problems, but all the minor little glitches that make up life. The guys putting in your new HVAC knocked over a vase? Your car needs new tires? Your friend gets annoyed when you offer unsolicited advice? Well, suck it up. All those sorts of things fall solidly under the category of "it's not cancer" for me. My partner laughed and said, "You've lost your EFA." Which, it turns out, means "empathy for assholes." Clearly, it is time for me to pass the torch.
Our office lease gets renewed the beginning of every July, so that's my outside end date. It's too soon to tell patients just yet, although I know that's not too far away. And I'm anticipating some reaction. But I know it's the right move for me and for my health. It's increasingly clear that practice is taking a toll on me.
At this stage in the game, therapy is easy for me. Maybe too easy. And although it's a little nerve-wracking to do something pretty unfamiliar to me and walk away from a practice and referral base I spent years building, I am confidant that it will be a good change. I've got this.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Reverse Bucket List

Still working on the change in career, but I was missing the blogworld, so...
You all know the concept of a bucket list, right? The list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. I don't like it. It has always seemed to me that it would be setting me up for failure if I made out a list and then couldn't complete it before I died. And I feel that even more strongly now that I've had my mortality brought home to me. I don't like the idea of wishing for things that might not happen. Instead, I've come up with an in-progress reverse bucket list. It's a list of things to do or places to go that might appear on a person's bucket list, except all the items are things already checked off for me. And I add stuff as I go. That way, at any point, I can read over the list and think, "Yeah, pretty cool life I've lived."
This post is largely for my own benefit, a way of keeping a record, and I surely don't expect anyone out there to read the whole thing, but I wanted it here for me. To keep it organized, I divided into experiences, work, skills acquired, food and travel. The categories are soemwhat fluid and overlapping, I'll admit. So in no particular order, except that I start with my birth (because hey, is MY list), my current reverse bucket list:

• Be born in a Naval Hospital, and be taken care of by young corpsmen who dote on you, put a bow in your hair, and nickname you “Candy.”
• Drive on the Beltway around DC.
• Chat with an on-duty Secret Service agent during a press conference in the Pentagon.
• Watch a meteor shower.
• Go to a Swiss boarding school.
• Leave peace signs inscribed in wet cement.
• Dance on the big speakers at the Limelight nightclub in Atlanta.
• Go apple picking.
• Drive on the “wrong” side of the road (Ireland and Australia).
• Ride a train.
• Buy your first car, a ‘68 Chevelle, with $200 you saved up.
• Serve as a juror.
• Breastfeed a newborn baby.
• Go to a professional soccer game.
• Accidentally eat hash brownies at a party.
• Spend the night in a hammock.
• Go see the Lady Vols win their 999th game.
• Houseboat on Lake Powell in Arizona.
• Spend the night in a wigwam.
• Take a college road trip.
• Get thrown from a horse.
• Ride an elephant.
• Ride a camel.
• Catch a sea robin while fishing in the ocean.
• Get high under the stars.
• Go clubbing.
• Tour a replica of Columbus’s Niña.
• Win the grand prize of a walking tour of the Alps in a sweepstakes.
• Touch a squid and watch it change colors.
• Go hear Sedaris do a reading and laugh yourself silly.
• Go kayaking at dawn.
• Get thrown from a horse on a Longhorn cattle ranch in Texas.
• Sing a song about the Mafia while riding in the back of a car driven by someone in organized crime.
• Drive your MG Midget on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
• Get charged by an angry leopard defending the kill it has cached in a tree.
• Nudge an alligator at the Okefenoke Swamp.
• Get knocked off a horse by a tree branch while riding bareback.
• Chase cows while driving a tractor.
• Climb a lighthouse.
• Make a snow angel.
• Build a sandcastle.
• Sing “One Tin Soldier” around the campfire at Girl Scout camp.
• Participate in the ceremonial burning of an old U.S. flag.
• Watch the first person walk on the moon with your kindergarten class.
• Help build a house and a barn.
• Land your first acting role as the Letter U in a play about vowels.
• Live in a town with a posted population of 109.
• Go line dancing in San Antonio.
• Spend a summer getting to know your paternal grandfather the year before he dies.
• Have a traditional Panamanian outfit sewn for you by your grandparents’ housekeeper.
• Make up a song to commemorate Balbino the gardener’s encounter with a scorpion.
• Trek to kindergarten through the snowy woods in New England.
• Belong to a historic UU church where Emerson used to preach.
• Cuddle up with your grandfather while he reads the tales of Scheherezade.
• Learn all the words to “Age of Aquarius” in first grade.
• Tour a submarine.
• Live on a Naval Base.
• Shop at a commissary.
• Play in the park under the Eucalyptus trees.
• Buy alcohol without an ID when you are only 16 and look 12.
• Stand out as one of the few haoles at summer camp in Kailua.
• Touch a hammerhead shark’s eyeball.
• Celebrate the Bicentennial on Kailua beach.
• Go houseboating on Lake Shasta.
• Picnic at Lake Tahoe.
• Rollerskate in the breezeway of your elementary school.
• Move from Massachusetts to California by driving across the country in a VW bus.
• Play on the neighborhood beach in Gautier, MS.
• Get stranded on pylons as the tide comes in and the sharks swim by.
• Look for water moccasins in the bayou behind your house.
• Raise tadpoles in a wagon.
• Be evacuated from school during a hurricane.
• Sleep in a houseboat on Lake Seminole, Florida during a really bad storm.
• Assist a pig farrowing.
• Help clean up puppies as your dog gives birth.
• Attend Catholic mass and splash your best friend with holy water.
• Lose your place in a hymn when everyone else starts singing in tongues
• Get baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church.
• Serve as an acolyte.
• Become a lay reader by accident in college.
• Organize a pajama service at church.
• Become a lay Eucharistic minister and serve the wine chalice in Communion.
• Set a blanket on fire and melt a plastic mushroom lamp without burning down the house.
• Throw sticks at the water moccasins under the bridge at Girl Scout camp.
• Dance with a gorilla wearing a leopard-print dress.
• Make the front page of the local newspaper.
• Do a television interview.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Watch an avalanche.
• Attend a weekend long yard sale/art show.
• Get a pet python and name him Mike..
• Ride a Ferris wheel in the middle of downtown.
• Pet an echidna on the side of the road.
• Watch wallabies and pademelons foraging at dusk while listening to kookaburras laugh.
• Take your high school senior to visit colleges.
• Drop your sons off at college.
• Give birth to a big baby without anesthesia.
• Take your children to all of the Harry Potter movies.
• See your son in an ultrasound sleeping with his head resting on your pulsing aorta.
• Take your sons to death metal concerts.
• Adopt a rescued Greyhound.
• Have sex outside.
• Have a wedding with a hand-fasting ceremony.
• Honeymoon in Italy and Switzerland.
• Dance naked in the rain.
• Spend the night in a hammock.
• Get engaged at a B&B in Asheville.
• Have Celtic wedding rings designed and hand-made in Galway.
• Sip whiskey by a peat fire.
• Make out on the altar of an 11th century stone church.
• Participate in an anti-Nazi rally in Reykjavík.
• See the aurora borealis.

• Learn to needlepoint and make Christmas stockings.
• Crochet a sweater.
• Buy your first home on your own and make sure it contains a Cold War-era bomb shelter.
• Learn to strip wallpaper from an entire house.
• Learn how to paint in all forms - regular, sponge, granite textured and Venetian plaster.
• Stitch a quilt by hand.
• Get a Bachelor’s degree. Then a Master’s Degree. Why stop there? - get a Ph.D.
• Become an ordained minister online.
• Learn to drive a stick shift.
• Catch and clean a fish.
• Learn to skin a catfish.
• Raise pigs.
• Milk a cow.
• Learn to drive a tractor.
• Learn to meditate.
• Learn to ballroom dance.
• Climb a mountain.
• Learn to rollerblade.
• Learn, and use, some French. And Spanish. And Italian. And Swahili. And Gaelic. And Papiamento. And Icelandic.
• Find a 4-leaf clover. Better yet, find a 5-leaf clover.
• Take a yoga class. And Zumba. And aerobics. And Jazzercize.
• Ride a Segway.
• Learn to ice skate.
• Win the limbo contest on rollerskates.
• Learn to do landscaping.
• Plant trees.
• Build a raised bed garden.
• Grow a vegetable garden.
• Rent a place at the beach for a solo vacation .
• Fly to another continent on your own.
• Learn to forage for mushrooms.
• Build a raccoon- and snake-proof birdhouse.
• Learn to use a miter saw to make baseboards.
• Amass, and use, a variety of power tools.
• Learn to wire-in ceiling fans and lights.
• Run a 5K race.
• Learn to play an instrument or four.
• Remodel a kitchen.
• Learn to shoot and field strip a gun.
• Learn to call the cows in to eat corn.
• Learn to make a mean seafood risotto.
• Learn to change travel plans on the fly.

• Work in a Department of Defense office in Crystal City.
• Work at McDonald’s as a teen.
• Be a clinical supervisor for new therapists.
• Run an alcohol and drug abuse program.
• Become an Operations Director at a Community Mental Health Center.
• Work at a residential program for emotionally disturbed boys.
• Open a private practice.
• Conduct a parole evaluation in a room alone with a violent psychopath.
• Run a research team at UVA.
• Teach college courses.

• Eat poi at a luau.
• Eat at Windows of the World at the top of the World Trade Center.
• Make periwinkle soup using mollusks you dug from the sand.
• Eat crawdad gumbo in New Orleans.
• Sit on floor cushions to have dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant.
• Eat at the rotating restaurant in Skylon Tower overlooking Niagara Falls.
• Have clam chowder in a bread bowl on Fisherman’s Wharf.
• Eat blackberry cabernet gelato in San Francisco’s Little Italy.
• Make your own cheese.
• Make a pizza - dough, cheese, vegetables - from scratch.
• Eat fish roe salad in Athens, Greece.
• Make sourdough starter and homemade bread.
• Cook crabs you caught off a pier.
• Make fresh pasta.
• Introduce your children to the wonders of fried calamari in St. Maarten.
• Eat a bowl of saimin from a truck in Oahu.
• Eat langoustin on the beach in Anguilla.
• Eat muscadine grapes warm from the vine.
• Go wine-tasting in Tasmania.
• Eat local oysters in Oyster Bay.
• Have Turkish tea and pistachio baklava in a café in Istanbul.
• Eat sun-dried octopus, fresh from the line, on Mykonos.
• Eat a stuffed octopus bigger than your head at a café overlooking the Mediterranean on Santorini.
• Drink Greek beer at an outdoor café in Oia.
• Have a crab and asparagus omelet in a restored farmhouse in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
• Introduce your kids to fresh local-caught lobster on Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
• Eat the local seafood chowder by the water in Cape Breton.
• Eat scallops in Digby, Nova Scotia, scallop capital of the world.
• Eat at the sort of restaurant that actually has a price-free “woman’s menu.”
• Eat a blue crab frittata in Savannah.
• Eat hot boiled peanuts on a Southern island.
• Attend a Biscuit Festival.
• Drink draft Guinness in an Irish pub.
• Have a traditional fry-up for breakfast and fish and chips for lunch in Ireland.
• Have local Burren smoked salmon.
• Eat ravioli d’arancia in a tiny Castellina restaurant while the waiter sings and drinks wine.
• Have formaggio and spumante outside in Gaoile.
• Share a limoncello with a Michelin Guide restaurant chef in Radda after eating goose carpaccio and duck ragout.
• Eat pigeon, anchovy flatbread, and basil gelato at another Michelin Guide restaurant.
• Eat pizza for Sunday lunch in a restaurant filled with local Italian families.
• Have cappuccino and cornetti in bed in Lezzano.
• Have an elegant dinner in a rooftop Havana restaurant.
• Eat Arroz con pollo in Havana Viejo.
• Have a mojito on a Cuban beach.
• Have rich Argentine coffee and medialuna in Buenos Aires.
• Eat centolla, mussles, and melt-in-your-mouth black hake in Ushuaia.
• Drink local beers and mate at Ramos Generales.
• Eat pastries from the Panadería La Union in Tolhuin.
• Have café au lait and macaron in Québec.
• Eat fresh-caught fish on a pier in Savaneeta.
• Have bottles of the only beer made from desalinated sea water on a beach in Pos Chiquito.
• Try hákarl, the disgusting fermented Greenland shark, and wash it down with brennivín.
• Taste hardfiskur in Akureyri, Iceland.
• Have a picnic overlooking the fjord where whales were swimming.

• Spend a summer in a cottage on Cape Cod.
• Camp on the beach in Maui.
• Dig for clams in the surf in Massachusetts.
• Stay in a cottage on a beach in Oahu.
• See Stonehenge.
• Go to Disney Land. And Disney World.
• Walk in the Panamanian jungle with your grandfather.
• Go whale watching in Provincetown.
• Hike on an active volcano.
• Have lunch at Sydney Harbour by the Opera House.
• Shop at the outdoor Salamanca Market in Hobart.
• Ring in a New Year on the Hobart Waterfront.
• Hike up to get a view of Wineglass Bay in SW Tasmania.
• Chat with a former Tour de France cyclist at his vineyard about the merits of beer vs. rosé.
• Visit the LaBrea tarpits.
• Drive through a giant sequoia tree.
• Walk barefoot up the steps to the Parthenon.
• Have a Greek café owner named Apollo pull you from your chair to dance.
• Visit Kusadasi, Turkey, to see Ephesus (circa 10th century BC).
• Have lunch outdoors at a taverna in the old walled portion of Rhodes.
• Set foot on six continents.
• Stay in a cabin in Yosemite Park.
• Fly first class to Europe.
• Visit the temple at Delphi.
• Feed a wild wallaby a bit of granola bar.
• Hike all over the Smoky Mountains.
• Visit a black sand beach.
• Fly into a volcano crater.
• See the Grand Canyon.
• Body Surf in Hanama Bay.
• Go to a world’s fair - Expo ’67 in Montreal.
• Go to another world’s fair - to the Hemisfair in San Antonio, 1968.
• Stand in a red phone booth in London.
• Wave to the U.S. from Land’s End in Cornwall.
• Walk across the zebra crossing on Abby Road.
• Go on a safari in east Africa and witness the Great Migration up close.
• See the glow worms in a cave in Tasmania.
• Hike in the Costa Rican rainforest.
• Paddlebike in a lagoon in Tortuguera.
• Swim in a salt water pool in San Jose, Costa Rica.
• Ride in a small motor boat in crocodile-infested waters
• Drink local coffee in Costa Rica.
• Maneuver around a deadly eyelash viper on your way to dinner.
• Fly in a 6-seater plane just over the jungle treetops.
• Use a “bush potty” in scarily close proximity to hippos and crocodiles.
• Go to a celidh in Nova Scotia.
• Visit a Maasai tribe in Tanzania.
• See the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, Cape buffalo) on the Serengeti.
• Walk the plank off a ship anchored in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean.
• Buy a pair of Levi’s in San Francisco.
• Watch a funeral parade in Chinatown.
• Ride a cable car in San Francisco.
• Listen to the lions roaring at night from your tent on the African savannah.
• Get caught in a blizzard while hiking over the Col de la Croix pass.
• Go skinny dipping in the Tasman Sea.
• Watch the fairy penguins come ashore at night on Lillico Beach.
• Pet a koala. And a wombat. And a kangaroo. And a Tasmanian devil.
• Step into the Atlantic Ocean. And the Pacific Ocean. And the Indian Ocean. And the Mediterranean Ocean. And the Tasman Sea. And the Arabian Ocean. And the Southern Sea. And the Caribbean Sea. And the Greenland Sea. And the Bass Strait. And the Gulf of Mexico. And the Bay of Fundy. And the Chesapeake Bay. And the Beagle Channel.
• Take in an Anglican service in Melbourne.
• Go to Brighton Beach, Melbourne, to see the Victorian bathing boxes.
• See the wild parrots in Devonport.
• Play on a beach in Zanzibar.
• Ride a bicycle cab in Havana.
• Ride the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls.
• Snorkel a shipwreck site.
• Watch a green monkey steal your son’s sandwich.
• Watch the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
• Ride a double decker bus in London.
• Take a fencing class.
• Go on a cruise in the Mediterranean.
• Cruise on a sailing ship in the West Indies.
• Close yourself up in a solitary confinement cell at Alcatraz.
• Smoke clove cigarettes in the Bahamas.
• Drink free apple schnapps and polka with the German owner of a Bahamian Bar.
• Rent a room in a house in a poor neighborhood in Nassau.
• Visit Amish country in Pennsylvania.
• Have dinner on a rooftop overlooking the Acropolis.
• Shop in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
• Cover your head and kick off your shoes to enter the Blue Mosque.
• Tour the Haggia Sofia and Topkapi Palace.
• Travel by tender boat to see the Terrace of the Lions on the island of Delos.
• Visit the Palace of Knossos on Crete.
• Stay in an apartment on the side of a cliff in Santorini overlooking the caldera.
• Walk a hillside path from Imeroviglia to Fira.
• Take a boat tour in Big Bras D’Or, Nova Scotia to see puffins.
• Ride the ferry from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor, Maine.
• Soak in a natural hot spring overlooking the confluence of Spring Creek and The French Broad River.
• Play hillbilly mini-golf on the side of a mountain.
• Drink whiskey while sitting next to musicians as they play in an Irish pub.
• Dangle your feet over the Cliffs of Moher.
• Walk across the barren moonscape of the Burren.
• Stay in an isolated cottage on the westernmost point in Europe.
• Carve your initials into Inch Beach.
• Spend an afternoon on a private beach on Great Blasket Island.
• Visit the beehive huts on the Slea Head Drive.
• Take refuge in the Gallarus Oratory.
• Tour an Irish whiskey distillery.
• Walk around Inis Oírr and visit the wreck of the Plassey.
• Stay in a restored medieval Tuscan village.
• Wade in the Ligurian sea.
• Tour a winery on Etruscan farmland, housed in the stables of an old castle.
• Swim in a pool overlooking the Tuscan hillside while cuckoos call.
• Stay in a hotel with a balcony overlooking Lake Como.
• Have chocolate calda and cookies in Lugano, Switzerland.
• Take an impromptu trip to Cuba.
• Stay in the battered Havana Centro neighborhood with kind hosts.
• Travel the streets of Havana in a classic American car, a motorized bubble taxi and a bicycle taxi.
• Have a daiquiri in Hemingway’s haunt, El Floridita.
• Stroll along the Prado.
• Visit the Muséo de Revolucion to see the propaganda and the mocking of U.S. Republican presidents.
• Be mistaken for French or Italian in a tiny bar when ordering ron oscuro, sin hielo.
• Attend a Afro-Cuban street fair.
• Sit on the throne of Changó, the Santería war god.
• Watch the waves crashing over the walls along the Malecon during a storm.
• Attend a gaucho festival in the Mataderos neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
• Fly to the end of the world over the Andes Mountains.
• Wade in the Beagle Channel.
• Stay at a B&B in the shadow of a glacier, overlooking Ushuaia Bay.
• Hike the coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego to the end of the Pan American Highway.
• See the Ushuaia bay glow red at sunrise.
• Get detained by armed Chilean border guards.
• See herds of guanacos along the countryside in Patagonia.
• Visit the shrine of folk saint Gauchito Gil.
• Travel above a rainbow on the Garibaldi Pass.
• Spend an afternoon walking with thousands of Magellenic and Gentoo penguins.
• Travel in a yacht along the Beagle Channel in waters so rough that the Navy closes the port.
• Hike to the seriously green Lago Esmeralda.
• Stay in a lake-front cottage Lago Fagnano.
• Buy picnic supplies from the oldest grocery store in Quebec.
• Stay in a B&B with a private courtyard, right on the beach in Pos Chiquito.
• Snorkel over a reef in Aruba and see some of the most beautiful fish in the world.
• Feed carrots to rescued donkeys at a sanctuary in Santa Cruz, Aruba.
• Kayak off the dock of your B&B in Key Largo.
• Be surrounded by a herd of Icelandic horses while hiking on the Arnólfsfjall peninsula.
• Have a friendly little arctic fox climb on you.
• Soak in a natural geothermal spring overlooking Vatns fjörður.
• Hike through Þingvellir, site of the Alþingi Viking parliament.
• Stay in an Icelandic cabin in the shadow of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
• Watch whales breaching while having wine and cheese on a deck and being wrapped in warm woolen blankets in the Westfjords.

I think I'll post the new list each year so I can watch it changing. It doesn't have to have every possible thing to do or see in this world, it is just a record of my imperfect but wonderful journey.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Simplifying Christmas.

Still putting most of my energy into the career adjustment, but I wanted to take a moment to check in and post about Christmas.
When we were helping with my mother-in-law's house, my husband and I stayed in her bedroom. Which included a display cabinet, year-round, of about seventy bazillion Santas. I'll be honest, I don't like Santa Claus even in the singular. I've long had a sneaking suspicion that he's a pedophile. But that's just me. Even setting that aside, huge collections of tchotchkes make me antsy. Myself, I've been paring down.
I used to have a collection of snowmen, but I have donated all but my two favorites.
The one large grouping I have is a set of candles in silver and white that I leave out through New Year's.
Otherwise, there are just a handful of things (like the only one I kept of several Santa hats). And poinsettias. I put them in every room each Christmas and compost them in the spring.
And this little wine bottle sweater that a friend gave me when I was recuperating from my cervical cancer surgery a decade ago. I no longer fool with outdoor lights and just put lights on the tree and a string of bulbs in the dining room. Everything - all the Christmas tree ornaments, the lights, the tree skirt, and the few decorations I did keep - fit into the little trunk we brought home from my mother-in-law's house. The only exception are the candles, which I keep in a dresser drawer in the front bedroom when we aren't using them.
Instead of decorating, which took very little time this year, I'm focusing on time with people I love and food. I have big plans for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners and am eagerly awaiting having the boys here.

More on the career stuff when it's all more certain, but in the meantime I'm wishing you all peace and joy in this holiday season!

Sunday, December 1, 2019


Fall is turning to winter in the neighborhood, with all its attendant chores - raking leaves, putting away the birdbaths, covering the outdoor water spigots, and so on. But the bigger work for me right now has to do with a slight change in my career path. It will start with a day a week later this month and, assuming I like it, gradually include more days each week. Still in psychology, but on the psychological evaluation end of the business. I find out more next week, but what it means for me is a LOT of re-acquainting myself with test protocols that I haven't looked at in many years. So as I'm getting up to speed, I'm going to briefly disappear from the blog world while I shunt all my time to this new venture. Back soon!