Return to me!

It has been quite some time since I have sat down to write much of anything. I love to write down my thoughts and feelings, but have been so occupied, I haven’t found the time to do so. I decided a while back to step away from most forms of online media, especially social media. We also cut the cord to television and have abandoned most news stations. It was a very good decision. My angst about world affairs and politics quickly diminished when we eliminated the angry, hate filled rhetoric from our life. Facebook had to go too, because to me it had become a giant, out of control, opinion machine which presented itself to me every time I went on line. I finally snapped. My personality has never been the type to be engaged with people 24-7, yet there I was, deep in the middle of all of it. I now look back and laughingly refer to my fb years as my own personal “Stockhom syndrome”, which is where a person develops a bond with his or her captor.

Be back in a while………

While I may appear to be a very gregarious human being, I am actually happiest in my own nest in my own company with an added person or two with whom to communicate with. Marriage is the perfect union for me. It is warm, loving, comfortable, rewarding, and non competitive. No real pressure here to be anyone other than my real self. We are aging together and as we age, we find comfort in seeing our other half age as well. If anything, aging endears us to each other, because we are in this together.

I have been busy reevaluating my life and how I spend it. It is so easy to get caught up in the cyber world and before one realizes it, cyber reality overtakes “living in the moment” reality. The operative word being living. Too often we mistake our internet friends as real friends and we engage with them on line from the comfort of our chair and laptop keyboard. It requires less work on our part to continue a relationship that is only a click away.

Relationship in the first person requires time and effort, but the rewards of eye to eye contact along with body language during a conversation is infinitely more pleasurable. It is enjoyable nurturing a long time friendship where we note the passage of time as we view the increasing wrinkles on their faces and see their hair slowly going gray or even white. There is no way to hide behind a photo-shopped picture when you are sitting across from each other during breakfast or lunch. There you are in your total unvarnished reality. There we sit, a couple of feet away from our friends in our mutual, close up visual range and we begin to relax as we look back and see we are not alone in our aging. There is nothing wrong with staying in touch with friends and relatives on fb if one can control the time spent. I was one of those who became addicted to the whole cyber social scene and as I look back I still have some very good feelings about catching up with long ago acquired friends and childhood cousins. It was great while it lasted, however, I reached a point of needing to step back into “the moment” of my every day existence. I am so glad to be back!

On Sunday we decided to go to the park after church and we enjoyed watching other people picnic, play ball, fly kites, walk and run the paved paths. It was a picture perfect day. The sun was shining and the light blue skies were graced with white wispy clouds. Birds were riding the air currents, swooping and diving alongside of other birds in reckless abandon. Dogs were running to retrieve balls from their owners. Children were laughing and calling out to each other as they enjoyed the day with their friends. It reminded me of my childhood long before the invention of the internet and cell phones, at a time where we had to create our own fun with our imaginations running amok. I was impressed to see parents actively involved with their children. All seemed so happy to be there.

Yesterday we went to golf a few holes in the late afternoon. I drove the cart while Al golfed, because I am a very poor golfer. He wanted me to ride along anyway. The golf course was a feast for the eyes because as the day progressed, the shadows got longer and longer as the sun made its way across the sky. The pictures the shadows created were worthy of being in a painting., Taking time to be in the midst of Gods creation frees the soul like nothing else does. To be one with nature is an exhilarating experience. Al and I enjoyed our time, one on one, seeing all the beauty around us together. It is still a rush to look at ones partner and know that our love is as strong as ever and that there is joy and peace in just being in each others company.

Note to self!

Listen to Gods beckoning!  Can you hear Him when He says “Return to me”? He wants us to return to real life more often, to the great outdoors, which so many of us recognize as Gods creation. Returning to real life frees our souls to swoop and glide as giddily as the birds fly on the currents of the air. God is everywhere, all around us in real life. Life is a verb where we should be actively involved in all of it. We really do “need” to spend more time in His majestic creation, plugging into his infinite power while getting recharged. It is an awe inspiring experience which has the ability to briefly takes ones breath away as our eyes and inner being takes it all in!

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! We only have THIS moment in time that is guaranteed! All else is unknown!

 

Jjb/2/18/2020

 

 

Magoo

When I was a young girl, I wasn’t aware that I had very poor vision because it was my “norm”.  A person can’t miss what they have never had.  When I was in first grade, the school nurse paid a visit to my parents to tell them it was suspected I needed glasses and so off to the eye doctor we went. Indeed!  The school nurse was correct.  I was tested and found to be very, very nearsighted and so shortly thereafter, I got my first pair of eye glasses. 

On the way home, it felt like I had landed in a Magic Kingdom.  Everything I saw now had dimensions I had never seen before.  The trees had many individual leaves which until that day simply looked like large green cylindrical spheres sitting on top of big brown vertical sticks.  We came to a 4 way stop and there was a stop sign I had never noticed before and now I was excitedly pointing at it and spelling out the word STOP to my father.  Previous to that day everything in my life was seen as a large blur and now, miraculously, everything was crisply in focus and I was having the time of my life.  When a person speaks of miracles, this pair of glasses was my very first “miracle” gifted to me by a Doctor who God had blessed with the intelligence to become an Optometrist.  I was so grateful, and I felt absolutely giddy over my new ability to see things that people with 20/20 vision took for granted.  Thank you God!  Thank you Doctor!  Thank you Mom and Dad!  I was SO happy and very, very grateful.

My second miracle came about at the age of 16 years when I was fitted with my first pair of contact lenses. For years I had worn my old coke bottle thick lenses and while I was still grateful that they allowed me to see the world in focus, I now wanted a way to see the world without the heavy frames sitting on my face.  I researched and read about the cost of the newly discovered contact  lenses and began to save my money.  This was going to be MY gift to myself paid for with my part time job. My parents could not afford  this new way of seeing the world so I thought “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” 

I remember the day the Doctor showed me how to insert the contact lens into my eyes and him saying “You will never be able to see well without medical assisted devices, but these little lenses will allow you to see the world as if you were born with 20-20 vision.” No more glasses!  I put them in and when I walked out of the office, once again, my heart skipped a beat.  Hello World!  Look at me now!  I felt instantly freer and even a little bit prettier without my enormous glasses.  I also saw the world better because I was no longer restricted by my glass frames which offered no peripheral vision. I loved it!

Now, I find myself back at the Ophthalmologist’s office, being made ready for cataract surgery. I have been 5 and ½ months out of my gas permeable glasses, but, thankfully, I have been allowed to wear the soft contact lenses while my eyes adjust back to their pre-rigid contact lens shape.  One month before surgery I will see a retina specialist who will take a look at my astigmatism and retina to determine if he needs to do any laser correction before my actual cataract surgery to lower possibility of a retinal separation.  For 2 weeks before surgery I have to wear what I exaggeratingly call my “40 pound glasses” because of their weight and size. 

I am old enough to remember Mr. Magoo,  the cute elderly myopic cartoon character from long ago, and I have dubbed myself “Mrs. Magoo” because I, too, would most likely walk into walls, just as he always did in the cartoon, were it not for the help I have received from Doctors to be able to see the world.

I am nervous, but I am also very excited for this next step.  I am grateful to have been born in this country in this time and place where medical miracles occur all the time with God using the brains and hands of trained Physicians.  I am blessed.

I will be writing an update on how this next chapter goes on my journey to improved vision. 

Please pray for me!

Jjb/1/30/2020

Life, the next chapter!

It was as I suspected……I left because I knew.

At first I thought I mattered, which happens to NOT be true.

I spent my time writing words, from my heart, my soul and mind.

I felt like I was contributing to the goodness of mankind.

I offered my pearls of wisdom, shared what was on my heart.

I posted pictures of the life we live, the big and little parts.

But then one day I realized, I was spending too much time,

Writing words in stories and words in poems that rhymed.

I was hanging out with people who were social media friends.

It was fun to be in a dialog that never seemed to end.

One day, I rose from my chair. I put on my socks and shoes.

I went outside to take a walk. The sky was sunny and blue.

Oh how the air refreshed my lungs and the scenery was lovely to see.

I came upon a neighbor (who miraculously remembered me!)

We had a lovely little chat about changes that had occurred,

(while I was busy in cyber space where reality is often blurred).

I thought I’d be missed when I left, but it seems this isn’t so.

I heard from a few of my facebook friends who asked “where did you go?”

A very small group reached out to say “YOU have been duly missed!”

But truth be told, it was just a FEW who reached out from my fb list.

Social networks are addictive, we are hooked in no time flat.

We sit at our screens for time on end posting this and that.

So now I go for long, long walks, and read from my stacks of books.

I have reengaged in the real world and its been worth a second look.

It is fun to invest my newfound time in our home and grounds outside.

This is a our much loved private space where we feel a sense of pride.

I am happy now with much more time, and lots of ways to spend it.

I am spending more time in my garden and I am delighted I get to tend it!

 

Jjb/1/28/2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting go

Long ago when we were young and newly married and having children, we were in the building stage of our life. We got married so one plus one equals two. We had children, add three more. We bought a house, another addition.

We both worked before we had children until I chose to quit my job and become a stay at home mother because it was necessary to have someone raise the children and manage their transportation to school and friends homes and Dr. appointments.

The early years were fun, fairly busy and exhausting. There was always something that needed attention, and I was the one that had to attend to it. As the children grew up they became more independent as they navigated around in their own orbits in their own world. When they left home they left an empty spot in my life which was very difficult to fill.

In this day and age, more often than not, both partners within a couple work out of necessity. This is true even if they have children which creates its own set of challenges, but at least when their children do grow up and leave home, there is something left for the Mother to focus on by way of her career. This was not the case for me. My children remained my focus and so my challenge was to find balance in those relationships.

As the years went by, and after they began the building of their own lives they became progressively more busy, while we found a lot of time to fill. We went out and got a hobby in the guise of a part time job we each enjoyed. It helped fill the hours. We did a lot of traveling which also helped fill the time. We volunteered at church which allowed us to get to know more people.

Growing old is a major change in ones life. In our younger years, the change transforms us from feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with years of preparation for retirement, hoping we will have enough to get us by when the time comes, to a time when we are trying to figure out how to fill all the excess time.

On top of this, we begin our reductions. In the beginning of our life we are busy building and adding, but now it takes on the form of dismantling as we unconsciously get ready for the next stage of life. All the things we purchased in the building stages of life we begin to eliminate. Out they go as we remember how much we paid for them and we wince as we realize they are no longer needed. We should have known since we saw the process all before with our own parents. But, we never really relate to the generation before us because we are too engrossed in our own busy, youthful lives.

I now see that this is part of Gods perfect plan for those of us who continue to age and move towards old age. It is all part of His perfect design in preparing us to let go of this life. Bit by bit the things that made us feel important and needed are lost to us…our jobs, our children, our health. Granted, there is building and some additions continuing as our children take on partners and have children, but we are no longer central to any of it. We move on from being the sun around which the planets (our children) orbited, and now we exchange places with them. Now it is we who are the planets that orbit around them.

There are a lot of blessings that come with aging, but mostly, I have found it to be a grad course on letting go of all the things that we thought would make us happy in this earthly life. We have to release all of which we gathered and it is rather jolting in the beginning. It is especially shocking when you realize your children are not interested in things you have held dear. We want to hang on to the familiar. In the end, we, just like all those who have gone on before us, are forced to loosen our grip and let all things fall away.

Sometimes I wish there were a waiting room between this world and the next where when we die, we could see our parents and be able to say to them, “Oh my goodness, Mom and Dad, I had no idea what you were dealing with at the time, but NOW I understand! Forgive us please for not knowing how difficult it all was.”

Thankfully, we know that this life is not all there is. There is another, even more beautiful life waiting for us and while we accept that this is so, we still cling to all that is familiar. We do not relinquish the remnants of our life easily, so we find that we have to trust in what God has promised is in store for us. We have to hand over the reins to God and when we do, we feel the freedom that comes with letting go of that responsibility.

There is often a fear of letting go because so much of our identity has been caught up with our being in the drivers seat. Our life has been a repository of all the decisions and choices we have made and we have had to live by them. Letting go is one of the most difficult things we will ever have to do, but once done, a peace takes over in knowing that the responsibilities of this life no longer are on us. We start over in the next life with the innocence of a child living in Gods kingdom with all the wonder and excitement a child feels. Letting go does have its rewards.

Jjb/12/8/2019

Time goes by…

When I was born I became a daughter,

I became a sister too.

I grew up and became a good man’s wife,

As we promised each other “I do”.

Time went by and I became a Mother.

My new baby I held in my arms.

A head full of hair, so artfully combed.

I was in love with his sweet baby charms.

More time passed and I held a baby again,

He was a boy, our second son.

With a serious face he held my gaze,

Our journey had just begun.

Then came time for petticoats pink,

Our sweet baby girl, such a joy to see.

Ribbons and bows tied up in her hair,

So precious to her Father and me.

The years swiftly passed until one day,

Fatherhood visited our son.

Another baby to hold, a sweet little girl,

A grandchild, our very first one.

Now she is grown, going off in the world.

This woman who was once a child.

How did it all happen so quick?

When I asked her, she only smiled.

From Daughter to Mother to Grandmother,

How quickly my life has passed by!!!

When did it all happen that I became old?

Didn’t I just marry that sweet young guy?

My Mother felt the very same way.

As she grew old, her life felt too brief.

She looked at her past and when she looked ahead,

She realized “tick-tock” was a thief.

Dear Mother, you brought me into this world,

For YOU, I’ve always been glad.

You raised me up to be honest and good.

You taught the best lessons I’ve had.

My Mother has now gone to a better world.

Her faith’s reward is her heavenly place.

I miss her so much, I wish she was here.

So I could see her beautiful face.

From baby to Grandma, the years flew by,

The rest of life will seem like a day.

I will slow down to savor my journey.

Because life’s clock just keeps ticking away.

Jjb/11/9/2019

Aging

Embrace your age, for it’s just a page

in a chapter in your life’s book.

Laugh real hearty at your birthday party.

Be glad for how good you still look.

Shed no tears over adding more years,

no matter how many go by.

If someone’s so bold as to tell you you’re old

Just be grateful that You haven’t died!!!

 

Jjb/11/8/2019

Oh! Oh!

My apologies to readers of my Word Press site, known as “Thoughts Expressed from My Retirement Nest”. This morning I got into a bit of a snag when reformatting my story. Me and tech settings are hardly compatible to say the least! I think I somehow got this post sent prematurely and incorrectly and repeatedly!

I find myself in a learning curve and I politely ask for your patience! I love learning new things but sometimes there is a bump in the road just ahead of the learning curve. That said, I love this format for my writings! I hope you do too!

Jjb/11/06/2019

Peppermint Patty!

A while back, I was volunteering at the front desk of a local health care center. One morning, as I was greeting people who were arriving to visit a loved one, I had a fun experience with one of the visitors.

That morning, I saw a very well dressed older woman walk through the front door to visit her husband. She was short and plump with very thin hair. I had seen her before on other visits and had come to see, as the weeks passed, how much she seems to enjoy wearing makeup and perfume. It was also apparent that she put a lot of time and effort in getting herself ready for the day.  She was always immaculately dressed in a flashy, colorful ensemble of one style or another. The style always varied, but the bright colors were ever present.

She must have some form of arthritis because as she pushes through the front door, she walks in an awkward staccato fashion, her heels creating a loud clacking sound with each short, jerky step. Heads turn as she approaches the guest register where she signs in.

One day, she arrived wearing a large hot pink brimmed straw hat which boasted a prominent silk peony tucked into the wide pink polkadot band above the brim. She also wore a long flowing multicolored blouse with Capri pants, all in a matching shade of Peppermint Patty pink.  She was wearing large earrings, a matching necklace, and an infinite amount of thin bracelets stacked high up her arm starting at her wrist. On her feet were cute little pink shoes with a large pink flower sitting on top of each one.

I was blinded by the light….a bright pink light, I might add. She and I had a very sweet conversation where I eventually complimented her on her ensemble, to which she responded,

“Well, thank you Sweetie! You make me happy that I went to all this trouble this morning!” I chuckled and said “Me too!”

One of the most fun parts of life, for me, is seeing the variety of humans God has created.  No wonder we call Him “The Great Creator” because CREATIVE He was when it came to the human race.

Out of dust He created all kinds of people….tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, chubby ones, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, light skin, dark skin, smooth skin, wrinkled skin, big butts, little butts, long legs, short legs, (you get the picture!) 

As “Patty” (the name I nicknamed her in my mind that day in honor of her pink outfit) went down the hall, she left me with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Why? Well, I just saw a person who was wholly and uniquely herself. She wasn’t following another persons idea of how she “could be”, nor another person’s opinion for how they think she “should” LOOK or be.

In a world where so many people seem to buy into the idea that we should all look the same, weigh the same, live the same and think the same….I was blessed to see someone who walked in as the “real deal”. She was proud to be the person that God created in the first place, albeit “gussied up”.  No plastic surgery for this woman. Of course she was trying to “improve on creation” a little bit with her clothing and makeup, but over all, she seemed content with the package she was born with.

When I told her how much I looked forward to seeing how she was dressed each time she visited, she beamed at the compliment (which, no doubt, reinforced her determination to bless the world with her personally chosen custom packaging), she leaned into me and said…

“Well, honey…The way I see things is this way….the effort I put into my appearance is MY little gift to the world”.

I let out an uproarious and appreciative laugh on that one and she laughed with me. Honestly, she made my day with that statement because she was being completely sincere when she said it. This was, indeed, exactly her motivation in how she saw herself….as a gift! In the south, isn’t this where one says “Bless her heart!” Maybe we would ALL do better to take on the philosophy of presenting our best version of ourselves out in the world.

      Anyway, it was more pleasure to rest my eyes on her than on someone who has bought what the industry has decided is the “perfect” package.  Moral of the story?

BE YOURSELF because NO ONE is better at being YOU than YOU!  

    Besides, I just love Peppermint Patty, don’t you?

Jjb/11/6/2019

Courage

I work very part time at the front desk of an Assisted living, although I use the word “work” very loosely because I enjoy it that much. Everyone needs a sense of purpose and value, and this happens to be mine. Working the front desk gives me a chance to interact with people who are old and for one reason or another, cannot live alone at home anymore. I love it! I love the conversations that take place and how their personalities emerge as I get to know each one a little better.

In America, being old is a mixed bag for most. We all want to live a good long life, but we think of it in terms of living independently, having enough money, and being in good health. Most of us will eventually have health issues and some of us will need assistance.

One day, an older ex-musician rolled up to the desk in a wheel chair. He asked me if I could help him figure out a financial equation. I said,

“Sure…if I can. What do you need help with?

He said, “Well, I just sold my house for $$$$$$$$$$. How long will that money allow me to live here?”

I was taken aback because he is in his mid 70’s…So, I asked him how much he paid for rent and divided that into the house sale amount.

I said “6 1/2 years.”

Because he looked so deflated, I then said, “Wait a minute you must have social security, right?”

He nodded, and told me the amount. So I added that to the equation and then I said “Looks like 9 years now and we have not taken into account the interest on your money”. (Also did not take into account the usual annual price hike in rent, but did not want to mention that).

He held eye contact with me for a long moment, nodded his head again, then rolled away down the hall to his Apartment. I felt his fear.

Working a few hours a week at this place has given me great insight into what a lot of people deal with in old age. There are many who are content here. The staff is very good and very good to the residents. They have good meals and planned activities for those who are interested. Some have devoted family members which makes all the difference for a residents sense of self worth. Its a very nice place to live. However, there are a number of them who are just doing their best to “make the best” of living so long.

Courage comes in all forms. We think of it when we watch people go off to war or dare devils performing dangerous stunts. We see it in people who have been given a terminal diagnosis. We see it when someone loses someone who was very dear to them and now they have to go forward in life without them. To live this life in this world takes a LOT of courage.

It also takes a lot of courage to live in old age. You find yourself dealing with the loss of friends and family who have died. You deal with the indignities of a failing body or a failing mind. You put on a happy face when you feel it is expected even though you may not be the least bit happy because you know that people avoid sour old people. If you had children, they are now grown and enjoying their own adult lives, which in this day and age often means living far away in a distant place with calendars full of comings and goings and you get a very small percentage of their time (if you are one of the lucky ones) and you smile broadly when they come to see you so they will come again.

Old age for some people is no different than their previous ages other than the understandable slowing down as they reach their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s. These people are living independently and in reasonably good health and have enough money to see them through to the end. But, the majority of our elderly are living lives that demand courage and tenacity and fortitude.

I see courage in these people every single day as they live their lives knowing that they are on the other side of the hill. Most of them love to engage with other people in their surroundings by having a good laugh, by sharing a tidbit of news, and by encouraging someone who needs a bit of a psychic lift on any given day. A lot of them will be social during meal time but then will go back to their apartments where they feel in control of their surroundings, where they can nap, read, and reflect and do whatever suits them.

Inside these aging bodies resides the ageless spirit and personality of who they have always been. Our spirits never age because our inner spirits or souls are timeless and eternal. Our personalities of our childhood are the same personalities now…just in more restrictive environments.

If you want to do something today to make a difference in this world, take a minute to visit with an older person. Smile at them. Tell them to have a good day. Look them in the eyes and let them know they are not invisible to you as they so often are in this world to others. Let them feel seen and heard. Let them feel as if they matter, if only for that one moment. Shake their hand in greeting. Help them cross the street. Offer your arm as they step off a curb. It will make them feel good and it will make you feel even better!

God bless the elderly. They are the true courageous soldiers in this often times challenging life that complicates our journey! It is in them that I see living breathing older “profiles in courage” in a very different way from in the book that bears its name!

Jjb/11/05/2019

From now on..

I have been in a funk lately and I think I know why. Even though we cut cable, news shows, and finally facebook, negativity still seemed to seep into our life. Our “Next Door Neighbor network” on email may need to be the next thing to go. What is it about public forums that are communicated from our homes on a keyboard that creates a platform for some people to spread the seeds of fear, discontent, and mean spiritedness.

Now, I realize these people are in the minority since a lot of the posts are simply helpful posts suggesting good Dr’s, service people, nice walking spots etc. However, though the negative people are in the minority, they can still swing a mighty sword cutting through our happiness. Just last night I was reading a forum that got downright nasty between several people discussing a local topic. I could feel myself tensing up as I read the exchange. I have put that site on mute for now.

So, this morning, after my coffee, I went for a walk in our neighborhood and the psychic transformation was a miracle in the making. Instead of having my thoughts directed at all the things that could go wrong in our future, here I was, strolling along while looking at all that is good right here, right now! My body was moving with ease though it has been pretty sedentary as of late. I almost felt like the tin man on the “Wizard of Oz” when I first started to walk a fast clip, thinking a little oil on this joint or that would be a good thing. As I walked along, I could feel my spirit take flight and my joints loosen up.

It is a perfect fall day. The air is cool and crisp, the leaves on the trees are turning color, the neighborhoods are quiet with kids back in school and people back at work. Mr. Rogers, it certainly IS a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We have a lot of gentle rolling hills in our area, so when I arrived back home, my face was glazed with perspiration! GOOD! This is what my body needs right now and for the unforeseeable future. What does that commercial say? “A body in motion stays in motion”. I would say that is exactly right!

So, it is still morning and the sunshine with its warm rays is beckoning to me. Mr. is painting the front door and Mrs. needs to go out and tidy up our porch. There is nowhere I communicate with my maker better or more fully than right in His own creation.

Blessings to all!

Jjb/11/4/2019

God

I’m living my life like I used to do.

I woke up refreshed, said a prayer to YOU!

I smiled to myself as I got out of bed.

The whole day was waiting with promise ahead.

We live in an age where busy’s the word.

Our schedules are full, our priorities blurred.

We fill every moment of each hour, each day,

Watching and listening to what the world has to say.

Its been good to reacquaint with my quieter side.

Its uplifting to commune with my spiritual guide.

I focus on whats kind and honest and true.

I take time out each day to spend it with You!

Its a blessing how calm and serene I now feel.

I know its because God my Father is real!

So, now Heavenly Father, I would like to say,

How grateful we are to awaken each day.

My dear sweet husband and his devoted wife.

Feel blessed to have reached this stage of our life.

Our love has deepened, our commitment has too.

We love our morning communing with you.

Thanks to our parents who taught us to pray.

They encouraged us to love you and follow your ways…

We did and we do and we will all our days,

Say prayers of thanksgiving and sing to you praise!

Jjb/10/18/2019

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Travel thoughts

Oh it is SO good to be home again. The feelings of contentedness just keeps growing. I am a new appreciator of things I previously took for granted, not the least of these, our bed. The comfort of ones own bed cannot be over stated.

Our appreciation of our bed is followed with an appreciation of our own old leather chairs that over the years have contoured to our body shapes so when we sit in them it is like putting on an old kid glove. We are not just sitting, we are embraced!

Listening to the washer sloshing away as we sit in our chairs while we catch up on mail and messages is like listening to an old familiar rhythmic melody.

Brewing coffee in our old coffee pot, frying an egg in our old frying pan, popping toast, simmering a pot of chili, all with ease within the confines of our friendly and familiar kitchen…ah, it makes a persons heart flutter a bit.

Yes, while we had a wonderful vacation in Spain and Italy, it is just so good to be back to friends and family. One friend gave us a ride to the airport and our son picked us up to bring us home. This is where we are loved and this is where we belong. 20 plus years is a long time to live anywhere and we never get tired of it…Home Sweet Home!

Reflecting on our trip to Europe, the things I am most glad we purchased for the trip are the fanny packs, the back packs and the small roller bags. We have never gone anywhere with just carry on luggage, so leave it to us to experiment on a trip to Europe! Lol! As it turned out, reducing our luggage not only made it easier to not deal with baggage pick up hassles and fees, it made it easier in general. I had also purchased packing cubes which to me, at first glance, just seem like a marketing ploy to buy more things, but in reality, work really well in keeping your things organized, particularly if one keeps moving from place to place on a trip.

Because I read that hotels don’t supply washcloths, I purchased these very tiny wrapped cubes about the size of a large crouton marketed as travel washcloths. When you hold them under running water they expand and grow before your eyes. They are very sturdy and can be used more than once! These were probably my favorite new find! Everyone should have them in their cosmetic bag even when visiting family so one doesn’t ruin the hosts washcloths with makeup residue. I give them a 5 star rating!

I brought my small turbo hand held fan along and was so grateful for it since we experienced times of extreme heat or exercise in Spain and Italy where I desperately needed a breeze to cool off. It’s a fan that can be recharged with a cell phone cord. I love it. On one very hot ride in an over packed train, I noticed a young Chinese fellow standing a distance from me in the train car and using a fan very similar to mine. I caught his eye and wiggled my fan at him and he wiggled his back as we both began to smile. We both knew how lucky we were to have those fans at that moment. It is one of my most favorite possessions.

I brought only 2 pair of shoes. My sketcher sandals and my merino wool Allbirds shoes. Both far exceeded my expectation of comfort. The wool runners are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned.

We brought a small blue tooth speaker and were able to stream Minnesota Public Radio in our hotel rooms. Ahhhh! Such a treat.

I brought sample sized containers of everything I could find that I use in cosmetics and cleansing products. It reduced my haul by 80% and I still had product remaining at the end of 2 weeks.

I bought packets of sink suds to wash clothes as needed. In my opinion, this works well for underwear, socks and bras, but not as convenient for clothing. Still, I was glad I had it.

These are top take away thoughts on travel from us. I now know,that it is unlikely I will ever again check luggage. I know I can get by on much less. The only exception to the rule would be if we go north in the dead of winter, where we would need boots and heavy outer wear.

So here we are…..we are always glad to come home….to the nest we have created together and where we share our thoughts and dreams and mutual love. When it comes down to it though, our home really is wherever the two of us are together. We are most definitely simbiotic. We are never gone from “home” as long as we are in the company of one another. To have found another human being who so completely compliments who I am as a human being is nothing short of a miracle, and we both appreciate this blessing the most of any other blessing in our life!

Miracles do happen!

Jjb/ 9/22/2019

Great new book

When we were in Italy with a long day of travel ahead of us to get back to Spain, I came across a book store in the airport. I walked inside as I often do because books always beckon to me to read them. Quickly I was reminded that I was not in the U.S. because the titles were in a foreign language and so was the marketing material. A lady behind the desk smiled at me and said something in Italian. I immediately apologized that I only spoke english and asked if she did as well.

She said “Yes, how may I help you?”

I said, “ Oh bless you…I am so grateful when I can understand what someone is saying to me here in Italy!”.

She laughed.

I then gestured around the tiny bookstore and asked “Do you happen to have any books in English?”

She pointed to a tiny wall space about 2 feet wide and 6 feet tall with shelves of books in English. There was an extremely limited selection, so it took me a while to find something I might want to invest my time in. My eyes landed on this. “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine”. I picked it up, never having heard of it before, and began to read the back cover. It seemed interesting and I thought I might like it.

I just finished it this morning and have to say, I have not been “glued” to a book for a very long time. But, glued I was to this one. It definitely caught my interest right away, even though I was not completely engrossed at the offset. That part grew and deepened as the story grew! This authors command of the english language is beyond anything I have ever read before. Just her wording and phrases and written thoughts were a pleasure to read and take into my mind and turn over and over again.

Can a book be delicious? THIS one is because I savored it all the way through.

I loved it from beginning to end because of the soft, steady intrigue than ran through it. The book made you wait all the way to the end to wrap up the story and I did not see what was coming. It is a story about loneliness, kindness, cruelty, love, despair, the whole human condition.

I am going to save it for someone I think may enjoy it and give it to them. I just don’t know who it will be yet.

What a fantastic way to wrap up a vacation! I am back to reading again and I am absolutely hooked! I am looking for my next favorite read! Try it! You may just like it!

It is SO good to be back in the U.S…..in our home, in my chair, in our own little corner of the world.

It is fun to travel, but

“No matter where I travel, No matter where I roam, be it Palaces or pleasures, There is NO place like HOME!” (My Mother loved this poem…it resonates with me too)

Jjb/9/21/2019