Monthly Archives: November 2013

Our First Panama Thanksgiving…

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Dia de Gracias! Many people from home have asked if we cooked a turkey for our first Panama Thanksgiving and the answer is, nope, but our friends did… and boy was it delicious! We had a great meal, great food, wonderful company and went home feeling quite full and satisfied. And the weekend has just been non stop fun because our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David (about 40 minutes away), are spending a couple nights with us so that they can also enjoy all the festivities that are going on in town. They were originally planning to take the bus up to Boquete for the day because the traffic getting up here for this Panamanian holiday is supposed to be just terrible. When Kris told me about their plans I suggested they just stay with us for a couple nights and join us for Thanksgiving , then on Saturday they’ll already be up here and wont have to deal with all the traffic. So it’s been lot’s of fun having company, especially given the fact that I’m not able to get out and about at the moment.

(a few hours later & a couple bottles of wine…) We had a spontaneous gathering with Valerie & Mark while Kris & Joel are here! Wow! We just had such a great evening , eating some amazing food and drinking some good wine, enjoying the warmth of the fire in the fireplace on the outside patio and getting lot’s of laughter in! I just can’t think of a better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving than to spend it with four great new friends! We had so much fun telling the stories of how each couple originally met and talking about so many different subjects that I can’t even begin to remember all that we talked about. This time last year I remember wondering if we would have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with…Hah! Well, not only did we have such a great gathering at Andrea & Don’s yesterday, but then this evening was just the cherry on top of an already amazing start to the holidays! To say that I’m feeling “Thankful” right now is an understatement. I love my life! And I’m giving Thanks for all that I have! Cheers!

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Happy Thanksgiving..

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Happy Thanksgiving…

This is our first big Holiday away from all our friends and family, and as I’m sitting here in my home in Panama looking out my window at the view of the mountains covered in coffee plants and the banana trees swaying in the breeze I find myself hoping everyone in California has a wonderful day planned, doing whatever makes you happy. Spending time with all the people you care about and who care about you. We’ve been invited to join our friends Don & Andrea for the Thanksgiving celebration today. Andrea’s parents also live here in Boquete and her father is in charge of the Turkey, I hear he’s quite the pro so we are in for a treat!. Scott’s contribution is homemade Parker house rolls, Mocha Pecan Pie and Smoked gouda and garlic mashed potatoes. We also have our good friends from David, Joel & Kris, coming up to join us , and they’re staying with us for the weekend. I’m sure it will be a feast and all will leave feeling happy and full! I know Andrea is especially ready to start the holidays , she’s already put up her Christmas tree! That girl is in the mood! 🙂

This weekend is also a big one for the Panamanians, they celebrate their second Independence Day this month! The first one earlier this month was their celebration of their independence from Columbia and this weekend they celebrate their independence from Spain. From what I hear this particular celebration is very big here in Boquete. Apparently schools from all over Panama converge on this little mountain town to participate in band competitions and a huge parade. Our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David, which is about 40-45 minutes away from here, were planning to take the bus up here to see all the festivities because we hear the traffic is just horrible. But I suggested they just spend the weekend with us and avoid all the hassles of getting here and then back home. They happily took me up on it and I’m soooo excited to spend time with them. I must admit, being immobile at the moment, I’m looking forward to having the company. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to the parade myself, but hey, there’s always next year.

This Thanksgiving is very very different for us, not to say it’s a bad thing, just sayin’. I can’t help but think back to our Thanksgivings of the past and reminisce about good memories. I also can’t help but dream about our Thanksgivings to come, in our new home that we’re having so much fun dreaming and planning. But mostly I’m just grateful for today! The Thanksgiving of here and now. Of knowing all my friends and family in California are thinking of us fondly, and sending us such kind and thoughtful wishes of happiness. And I’m so grateful to know firsthand, that no matter where in this great big world we live, there are great friendships to be made! We’ve been sooooo lucky and blessed to come into contact with so many incredible people who open their lives to us and welcome us! It warms my heart when we walk or drive through town and run into so many people who wave and smile and greet us wherever we may be. Yes, I’m Thankful for all the people I’ve met here that have become my friends and all the ones who have been my friends for many years, you are my family!

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Sending lot’s of Hugs ! Cheers!

Okay, This Sucks…

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Can I be honest with you? I think you’d want me to be honest,right? Sooo, here goes….I know I always try to find the positive in almost everything , that’s just my way. But today I’m feeling a bit down. Humph. Prepare yourself for a bit of venting… Besides the constant pain from both the sprained ankle and the cuts and scrapes, I’m seriously bummed to be so immobile at the moment. Each day will get better but I have a feeling it will be awhile until I can do all the things I’m used to being able to do. It’s a very unfamiliar sensation to me, being unable to do what I want to do…Grrrrr. I was sooo looking forward to celebrating our newly official purchase of land here to build our home. We had planned to go up there with a special bottle of wine that we brought with us from California , and bringing our lawn chairs, a couple of glasses and celebrating the beauty of the spot we are about to call our “home”. That’s not happening for quite awhile, I would never be able to make it up there at the moment, it’s a bit of a hike. I promise, I wont keep moaning about this, I just had to get it out. I’m amongst friends so I figured You wouldn’t mind.

Another sucky thing that’s on my mind, while I’m talking about “sucky” things…some people really suck. The people I’m thinking about are the ones we ran into at the border on Sunday. When we got to the Panamanian side of the border crossing , after getting stamped out of Costa Rica, we were very disappointed to find that there was a long, long line of people waiting . So, of course, we just went to the end of the line and prepared for a long, long wait. All the people in front of us were indigenous Indians , and they all seemed to have papers in their hands and were dressed in their Sunday best. Nicely pressed pants, many with buttoned down shirts and nice black shoes. All looking very hot and not happy, but determined to do whatever it was that they were standing in that long long line to do. These determined, well dressed indigenous are not the ‘sucky’ people I speak of. The “sucky” people I speak of were , sadly, Gringos! Yes, I’m so sorry to say, and quite embarrassed by, the behavior of these people who walked up after we had been patiently waiting our turn in this line behind these determined indigenous people. Ugggg…As these Gringo’s walked up to the line we clearly heard the women say, (there were two men, a women and what we assume was a guide, possibly Costa Rican), “Oh thank God, White people!” (meaning us!) Then one of the men said, with a very unkind face “This line is this long because they don’t know how to write and the papers have to be completed for them!” With a scowl on his face, as though he hated each and every one of those people who were standing in the line……They proceeded to march up to the front of the line to inquire if they were required to wait with the riff-raff. (Big eye roll!) At this moment, I began to understand why many of these indigenous people harbor a dislike of my kind. Humph! I felt so embarrassed. In the end, we learned that all these locals were in line for some sort of work permits and there was indeed a second line for immigration. Well, given the fact that I was on crutches and not doing well, and that we were indeed meant to be in an altogether different line, we very apologetically and humbly made our way to the front of the long long line…I gotta tell you , all four of us felt so bad. Even though we didn’t have that same “better than thou” attitude as those “ugly Americans” who went before us, and we made our way to the place we needed to be with as much humility and kindness we could muster, all four of us felt pretty bad. In a perfect world ( I know Valerie agrees), we would love to have had not only the time, but the knowledge of their language, to stay there and help each and every one of those people fill out the necessary papers they held in their hands.

I’ll never understand why some individuals think they are better than other people, the way these people clearly felt they were better than those indigenous people who’s country we are visiting . It’s disturbing, to say the least, to witness such behavior and to feel so directly associated to it simply because of our appearance. Ugggg! I have no answer to this dilemma, but since I was in a venting mood, there it is. So, my ankle hurts and some people suck! Blah! I promise to resume my normal optimistic outlook tomorrow….:)

A Very Different Border Run This Time…

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We just got back home from San Vito, Costa Rica and I have to say, all in all, it was a wonderful little mini vacation, in spite of a little unexpected glitch, (otherwise known as me falling down!). Our last border run we went through a different border, there are two borders to choose from, Paso Canoas and Rio Sereno. Last time we went through at the Paso Canoas border and it was a totally different experience (Yuck!). Paso Canoas is a bit closer and easier to get to, but it’s not a pleasant place, in my opinon. Rio Sereno, on the other hand is a fairly pleasant little crossing, much quieter and not crowded at all! The only sort of bad thing is , if you’re prone to motion sickness , the twisting, curving road through the mountains may not be your cup of tea. I don’t happen to suffer from motion sickness so I found the drive delightful. It’s quite lovely, meandering through a lush green, picturesque area.

When we arrived in the little town of Rio Serano we then had to figure out exactly where the border was. It wasn’t especially evident at first, so we just sort of drove around until we saw an official-ish looking building then Valerie hopped out to investigate. Sure enough, that was the spot. Our friends learned many things about us on this trip but I think the first thing they learned was that we don’t do a lot of planning before we go on a trip. We like to think we’re being spontaneous and adventurous but really , there are times when we’re not always especially smart! This was one such instance when we may have been wise to figure out one tiny detail…. We hadn’t looked into where we should leave our car for the weekend. Ooops! Well, Scott simply found a “good enough” looking spot on the side of the road and pulled over. We had no idea how safe or un-safe it was to just leave a nice car parked on the side of the road for the weekend, but (shrug) what else could we do? We walked away from the car just hoping it would still be there, in one piece, when we returned on Sunday. And given the fact that this post isn’t titled “Car-less in Rio Serano” or “Keith, what do we dooooo!”, you doubtless know the car survived the weekend. Whew!

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A weekend Away…

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We’re in Costa Rica at the moment visiting a small town in the mountains called San Vito. We found a great little B&B ,www.casabotania.com. They arranged for a taxi to collect us after we crossed the border Rio Sareno. The taxi cost $25.00 and took about thirty minutes to get here . It was a beautiful drive through the mountains , the landscape is just spectacular … Green as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately I had a bit of an accident at the border, I was wearing flip flops (not smart!) and I slipped and took a pretty bad fall. My ankle is injured and now I can’t walk well at all. Such a disappointment ! But the good news is , our good friends Mark & Valerie are traveling with us and being the consummate athletes that they are , they’ve got lots of past experience with injuries of this sort ( not that they fall down a lot or anything !). All three of my traveling companions helped me make it through the border as best as they could . And we borrowed a wheel chair from the Costa Rica border office, they just happened to have one sitting there and given how pathetic I was, the guy offered to let us use it. It turns out, Considering this Is my first big injury of this sort, I learned that It’s really, not easy for me to lean on people . Valerie had to keep telling me to put all my weight on her and Scott… It’s not easy to do! The ankle is really very bad, I may go see a doctor tomorrow just to make sure it’s not broken…Ugggg!! This is gonna be a reading and relaxing trip for this gal ! Oh well. We had a wonderful dinner and plenty of wine so now I’m ready to sleep! Cross your fingers that my ankle is better tomorrow .

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And…The Obsession Begins…

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It’s time to start planning, strategizing ,designing,shopping,researching,brainstorming, dreaming, and planning some more. Wait a minute….I’ve been here before!! Remember? We did this in our past life in Los Altos! Yes, I remember this stage of the game. We were so excited (just like now!) about all the possibilities and we had such a great time dreaming together about all the things we could do. The only catch was, the only way we could possibly afford to attempt such an endeavor as designing and building our own house was to do it all ourselves. We just didn’t have the budget to hire professionals to design and build a custom home. We could do the building and heck, we ended up really enjoying the designing part of the project as well. We hired an architect to draw all the details and submit it to the city for all the permits but in the end, we both agreed that if we ever did it again we would feel comfortable not spending the money for the architect. “Screeeeech!” That was before we realized that our next house project would be in a different country! Yea, we’re gonna need to utilize an architect. We already hired one and we’re looking forward to working with him.

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A Girl, A Guy, and A Little Dirt…

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No, I’m not talking about ‘dirt’ as in gossip, I’m talking about a piece of land to build our home! Yes! We finally found a piece of property here in Boquete to purchase for our new home. A couple of months after we got here and got a bit settled we slowly began to look around for just the right piece of land where we could build a house and really settle in here. We haven’t been in any hurry and have not wanted to rush into anything but just thought we would try to be smart and start getting acquainted with the real estate market here, begin to learn how the whole process works here in Panama.

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Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion…

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Tell us about a time when you felt out of place….

Okay.. I got this one! It seems many of the daily prompts just don’t resonate with me, but obviously this one does! Although I’ve mostly recovered from my earlier bouts of feeling serious culture shock (Serious? well, maybe not too Serious!), that doesn’t mean that I feel ‘at home’ all the time. I’m gradually adapting to my new life in Panama but there are countless situations when I feel terribly out of place. Situations, that mostly come about as a result of not having a firm grasp on the language yet. “YET!” But mark my words….” There will be a day when I’ll speak like an adult and not like a pre schooler!” And I’m certain this alone will provide a sense of belonging that is, at the moment often alluding me. Read the rest of this entry

Yippee…My iPad will live to see another day!!

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It’s a happy day! I took my precious iPad to the computer fix-it guy here and….You probably guessed it, he can fix it!! Whoot! Whoot! I’m doing a “happy dance” And “jumping for joy!” They said we would first have to pay before they begin any work, no problem. Then he said they charge $110.00 for the replacement screen that they will have to order, (about a week) and then the guy who actually does the replacement work charges $25.00 per hour , and it would take about 3 hours. Hmmmmm? Sooo that didn’t sound too bad! We didn’t have any cash on us and therefore told him we would return tomorrow.

After we got home Scott got online to check about what it costs to buy the replacement screen. Hmmmm… From Amazon.com it’s $ 33.00, including all the necessary tools. Wow! That’s a pretty big price difference. Now we’re considering plan B. You know Scott! He wants to go ahead and order two replacement screens and then give it a try. I agree we should go ahead and order the screen but I think we ought to take it to the guy with the experience and see if he would be willing to install it. There are videos on youtube that demonstrate how to replace a broken iPad screen and it doesn’t look too bad. I’m just thrilled beyond belief to know that it’s repairable. Jumping for joy!! 🙂

Craving Chinese Food!

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Okay.. so we knew that one thing we would really miss about living in the Silicon Valley was gonna be the variety of food. There are many good restaurants here in Boquete. We love George’s Grill, Big Daddy’s, Sugar & spice and Baru’s just to name a few. But we have yet to have found any Chinese food…not to mention Thai food or caribbean food or Greek food , but I digress. We’ve been craving Chinese food lately. We know of only one Chinese restaurant and tonight we had the opportunity to give it a try. Well, it wasn’t Chef Chu’s, But it wasn’t bad. Even though we were the only people in the restaurant we didn’t let that stop us from having a good dinner. We mostly cook at home but when we feel like going out to eat we really love that here in Boquete there’s many good restaurants to choose from. Read the rest of this entry

A (sad) Day In The Life…

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Today was “mostly” a really great day! It was a great day of connecting with good girlfriends, which is ALWAYS my favorite kind of day. I would have had such great things to say about this day had I not had a tragedy with my iPad… Sad Face! I dropped it!! Whaaaaaaaa!! It is still working but the screen cracked!!! I am devastated! If I haven’t mentioned it before…I am very in love with my iPad. I don’t use a computer so I am very dependent on the iPad . It’s really my most treasured possession. I use it for everything, I Facetime my friends and family, I write and publish my blog, I read magazines, I read the news, I Facebook, I take photos, I search the web, I practice my Spanish, I use the translator and let’s not forget Words With Friends!……nuf said! I just love this silly thing, it’s like an appendage to me! So I’ve put out feelers to see if I may be able to find someone who can repair it, but I don’t know….. Grrrrr! It was my darn cat’s fault….He was sitting on my lap and suddenly jumped and my iPad just went flying onto the hard tile floor. I hate to admit it but I did shed a few tears and Scott was very sweet, he told me not to worry. I just hate to sound so materialistic! But that’s just the way it is. I don’t need a lot of “things” but I really love my iPad. So this is a post filled with not so happy feelings , I’ll be better tomorrow, and I’m very glad that it’s still working. I do feel a bit at a loss without a convenient Apple store to run to. If I were in California I’d already have it on the way to whoever fixes this kind of thing! But I bet there has to be someone here who can help and Damsel in Distress! This makes my silly worries about going to an unknown hairdresser seem like nothing!! The universe always has a way to give me perspective!

It’s a Hairy situation….

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What’s the Freakin’ problem!!! Well, ya see, I’ve been living here in Panama for nearly six months now and about two weeks before I got on that airplane with my kitties and my two suitcases, my dear friend Natalie gave me a haircut. Sooooo it’s been nearly six months since I’ve had my haircut! I know, I can get away with going a pretty long time in between haircuts with this wild, curly hair, but this is getting a bit ridiculous, even for me. Why? you say,is this such a big deal? Well….”Big deal?” Shrug…I don’t know that I’d call it a “Big deal”, per say. It’s just that ,well, I’ve never in my life walked into a hair salon , where I didnt know anyone, and sat down in a styling chair in front of a complete stranger, to have my hair cut ! I know, all my clients who are reading this right now are probably laughing! “Now she knows how we feel!”. And I will say, “yes, and it’s not fun!”

Even before my thirty years as a stylist I grew up in a household with two hairdressers so I’ve ‘never ‘had a haircut by someone I didn’t know. Both my parents were licensed stylists, as a matter of fact they met while they were in cosmetology school! I know, that’s a whole other story! But My Father was the one who ended up pursuing it as his career and he, like me,( or should I say , Me , like him) was a salon owner. As a matter of fact, his salon, where I grew up spending a lot of time, was located in the same small town where I also owned my salon. His salon was very large with about fifteen stylists who worked for him. But I never worked in my Dad’s salon. No, I liked him too much and besides that, I never wanted to be “the owners daughter”. Read the rest of this entry

Ooops! This day just flew by….

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I’ve challenged myself to write a post a day this entire month and this day flew by so fast I almost didn’t make it!
But I’m home now , trying to dodge the cat on my lap that is doing his best to get my iPad off my lap so he can have an uninterrupted cuddle!! Grrrrrr! I spent the morning doing my Spanish Tarea (homework) then got a bit of limpiar mi casa done before picking up Scott from Escuela so we could conducir to David. We had a few errands to do today,Price Mart, Do It Center, Rey. One funny thing that we saw today while driving around David …. we were sitting at a stop light and these big pink cages attached to trucks went by us. One had about four big Tigers in it, and one had an Elephant, then another had a camel and a zebra and a couple of cows. I hear the circus is in town, but why they are driving them around town I have no idea. Shrug…Oh well, sometimes you just have to chuckle and move on! After getting back to Boquete from our David excursion I had a great couple of hours on FaceTime with my dear friend in Los Altos, Elisabeth. I love FaceTime! She got me all caught up on what’s going on at the salon and I got to hear all about all my clients who I miss so much. It sounds like she’s very busy and really enjoying life. Then before I knew it, it was time to go to my friend Robyn’s art reception. She had a great opening, it was very well attended and she looked like she was having a great time. Scott and I had dinner at Mango’s and had a great time getting to know our neighbors John and Margot. All in all, a very productive day. I know this wasn’t the most exciting post, but I just wanted to make sure to post something today! Cheers!!!

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Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

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Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home….

Well that’s an easy one, New Zealand! This was my “Maiden Voyage” all by myself. I was about 31 years old and had just experienced a bunch of crazy tragedies in my life. I was about two years in to being a single mother after having gone through a divorce. Two years prior to this was what I like to refer to as my “Oprah” year! Yes, in one year I went though losing my father( who I loved dearly), my husband decided to fall hopelessly in love with our nanny(insert big eye roll here!), I had just opened a business and purchased a home, whew!. My father had helped me buy the house before his death and my ex-husband had no claims to it so I unexpectedly found myself alone with a huge mortgage, not exactly what I had planned for. Whew! I was holding myself together by a thread. You may be wondering what all this personal drama has to do with traveling solo to New Zealand?

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A little art today…

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This day started with a very familiar activity…art. I had the pleasure of assisting a friend with her art show installation at a restaurant in town, Mango’s. Her art will be on display at the restaurant during the holidays and it was so fun to be able to help her as she strategically placed all her beautiful pieces all over the restaurant. I’ve been involved in many other good friends art shows and will never tire of watching a transformation such as adding art to a space will create. It made me think about all my incredibly talented friends who make a living with the art that they create. Weather it be sculpture, painting, jewelry designs, textiles, amazing quilted kimonos, floral designs, ceramics, photography, I’ve had the pleasure of being exposed to so many unbelievable artists. I have so many great memories of attending art exhibits as well as participating in a few of my own. I’m fortunate to have been involved in more art show installations than I can even remember and today brought back so many memories of all my talented artist friends who I miss so much. I get so much pleasure in being around kindred spirits who let the beauty inside manifest in some sort of art that they so generously share with others. It’s no easy thing to create something from your soul and put it out there for all to see . Those who have never gone outside their box to explore what can happen when you let go of your inhibitions and allow yourself to create something outside of yourself, something that is an outward expression of “you”, are missing out on an indescribable experience. You may not think your an “artist” per say. And it may be true that you will never pursue art as a means of making an income, but I firmly believe that the only thing stopping you from creating something beautiful is Your own inner “self-talk” that constantly tells you…”Oh, I could NEVER do that”. The moment you listen to that voice… you have made it so. Only when you can get past that “self-limiting”, knee jerk self-talk, will you allow yourself to experience what it’s like to actually create something with your two hands. There’s a magical thing that happens when your in the process of creating art, it’s a simultaneous feeling of both losing yourself and finding yourself at the same time. At least that’s been my experience . When an artist decides to display a body of work in a public place it takes an amazing amount of courage and generosity to expose themselves in such a way. I admire all my friends who have done just that and I’m so grateful to have been able to lend a hand today and to help a new friend to display the beauty from her heart for this small community in the highlands of Panama to enjoy. I hope all who get to see it will appreciate it. Sound familiar…Judith,Shelly,Julia,Maria,Karen,Brian,Merlin, Pam,Nancy,Marty,Susan,Oh, the names of all my artist friends could go on and on and on…Miss you all, thought of you while I was helping today.

There was a day…

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There was a day when getting up before the sun would be a dreaded thing. There was a day when I’d never even seen a machete much less kept one in my car. There was a day when I only bought my coffee from Costco and I didn’t have the coffee plantations to go to just down the street, and purchase directly from the people who grow it. There was a day when I didn’t have dozens of banana trees growing in my yard. There was a day when I never heard a rooster in the morning or drums in the distance. There was a day when I didn’t understand anything when a spanish speaking person tried to speak to me. There was a day when we drove 70 miles per hour on a crowded freeway rushing to wherever I was going. Rushing? I vaguely remember rushing all the time.
There is a day…today, when I got up before 6:00 and made a pot of coffee and went to sit outside to watch the sky begin to light up. It’s a different show every morning. Today it began with a small patch of light but most of the sky was black. Then I began to see small areas of pink with tiny patches of blue behind the clouds. Now the sun is shining behind the clouds and there are grey clouds mixed with pink ones and the blue patches in the foreground are slowly growing. I’m enjoying the sounds of the morning and wishing I could record it to share with you. There are so many different birdsongs and always the roosters in the distance, as well as crickets and dogs parking. Today there’s no wind rustling the banana leaves, it’s still and peaceful as I type this post. The sky is an ever-changing show of color and texture as it slowly lights up and the day officially begins. Who knew I would love the early morning so? There was a day when I wanted only to sleep until the morning was no more. Now I awake hoping I haven’t missed it……

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Daily Challenge…

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Hmmm

Sometimes I just cant figure out how to use the daily prompt that word press supplies. This is one such day. So then I need to come up with my own subject and there are days when I just don’t know what to talk about…..Let’s see….. Last night we went to a fantastic gathering where we met a whole bunch of our neighbors who we had never had the pleasure of meeting before. Who knew we had so many nice people living practically right next door. One couple who were at the gathering I had met last week while I was waiting at the deli meat counter at Romero’s. They were a really friendly couple who told me they were visiting Boquete for the 5th or 6th time and trying to decide if they wanted to move here permenantly. They are from Northern California , like us, Berkley, I think. But they told me they lived in Alto Lino, which is where we live but I didn’t realize they live right next door! And we met several other couples who also live in Alto Lino, very nearby. Two of the ladies that I met like to go walking for exercise three days a week and I think after my school is over, in four more weeks, I may start to join them, that sounds fun to me. This gathering we went to was a potluck at our friends Manzar and Terry’s new house. Terry’s family was visiting and it was great to meet them. I can only imagine how Manzar and Terry must have enjoyed opening their home up to all their new friends and having a full house. I bet there were around twenty five or thirty people and the house accommodated all those people without even feeling crowded. And THE FOOD!! Holy cow…there was so much food! And GOOD food too! I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Potluck with so many really good dishes to choose from! No one left that party hungry, that’s for sure. Read the rest of this entry

Separation Day Parade

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I’ve been meaning to write a post about the recent holidy but my friend Kris just published one with so many great photos, I thought you’d enjoy it! Thanks Kris!!!

The Panama Adventure

Last Sunday, November 3rd was one of the many holidays at this time of year. This one celebrated Panama’s separation from Columbia, and there was a big parade in town. I’ve been hearing all the drumming and practicing for weeks, so Sunday I was very interested to see the results. There were many many schools and bands participating, and the majority of the parade consisted of beautiful young women dressed in their finest and very enthusiastic young men with drums. Of course I have tons of photos, so I’ll post them in groups in slide shows so you can flip through them as you wish.

Bands, School, and Groups

Panamanian costumes and traditional dress

Lovely Young Women

I had a good time watching the many beautiful little children

Vendors – it seems that anywhere people gather, there will be people offering food, drinks, toys, and anything else people may want…

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Daily Prompt:” About” Page of the Future

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Write the” About ” page for your blog in 10 years.

Todays challenge is interesting….I had to go back and re-read my “About” page on my blog. I wrote that a little over a year ago and it’s fun to think back to where I was, not only physically but emotionally as well. Todays challenge asks me to imagine what that “About” page on my blog would say ten years from now. Hmmmmmm…. That’s an interesting thing to consider. Let’s see…Here is what I wrote on my “About” page a little over a year ago…

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Lucky Dogs…

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We were craving a good juicy steak for dinner tonight. Scott bought a beef tenderloin at Ray, the grocery store in David for $3.50lb. We baked a couple of potatoes, poured the wine and Scott seasoned the meat and threw it on the BBQ. MMMMMM. It looked pretty good and we were starving! Then before he even took them off of the grill he said, “I don’t know…they might be terrible” Huh? my response…”did you just say they might be terrible?” I thought he was joking, although that ‘s nothing to joke around about when the taters are bakin’ and the wine is poured! And truth be told, Scott doesn’t joke around when it comes to Steak! Well, you might have already figured out the sad, sad ending to this tale just based on the title…yep…It was terrible! RATS!!!! As Scott said, it was very flavorful (because he heavily seasoned it) shoe leather! As a matter of fact we’ve been debating weather or not it was actually STEAK??? Looked a bit like pork after it had been cooked but the pork here is actually pretty good and this was nothing remotely close to “Good”. Soooo as the title says….there are two very happy dogs at our house tonight! And we had delicious baked potatoes and wine!! What’s for desert????

Daily Prompt: Cheering Section

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Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us what that relationship has added to your life.

Todays Prompt has got me thinking about all the people who I admire and who mentor me without even knowing they’re doing it.( side note…I know, I know, mentors are not usually mentoring without their knowledge, but I have a slightly different perspective which I happen to like ) I’m an observer of people. I really love to people-watch. And I learn so much from just observing others. Does that sound strange? Well, I suppose I may be a tiny bit strange so let’s just accept that and move on, shall we…. what was I saying? Oh, yes, Mentors…Hmmmmm. In my life I’ve quietly watched and learned many lessons from many people and many of them had no idea they were teaching me . From some of my mentors I’ve learned lessons of what I wanted to do in my life and from others I’ve learned important things about what I wanted to avoid doing in my life. I guess you could say that I’ve often learned from others mistakes ( not to say that I haven’t made tons of my own mistakes to learn from! Hmmm I wonder if anyone learned anything from watching my epic fails? That would have made them worth it! ) . At the same time I’ve often seen a path that I admired and tweaked that path a bit to suit me as I set a goal and went in that direction. Is it just me? Or is this what many people do? Maybe you don’t necessarily realize it, but have people in your life influenced a particular path you went down? I don’t know about you , but to me, people who’ve entered my life almost always seem to have been sent to me for a reason and when my eyes are wide open and I’m paying attention (which isn’t always!) there can often be invaluable gifts to receive. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Challenge….

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The daily prompt from WordPress is : what’s the last thing you googled and why?

Well, that’s an easy one, Hummingbirds was my last search. And I wanted to tell you about this anyways so hey, good timing. Yesterday, like many days, I was sitting on my porch enjoying an especially glorious bird show. There’s a great tree right in front of my porch, where I put ripe bananas in a little basket attached to a low limb, and the birds just show up from every direction to eat the bananas. Birds of every color! Lately we’ve noticed a new (to us) bird that’s a crazy bright Orange on his chest and black on his back. He’s not the same as the bright Orange one who has Orange on his back and black on his chest. And the Orange is much more of a true orange not as red as the other one who we’ve seen l lot. Anyways, as I was saying.. the little basket of bananas was being visited by such a beautiful array of colorful birds and I was enjoying the show immensely when I began to notice that my little troupe of hummers was also quite active. They always swoop around, seemingly fighting over the feeder and I just love to watch them. But yesterday they were especially vocal, one would sit on top of the feeder and just chirp, and chirp, and chirp , seriously, non-stop ( almost to an annoying degree)! And there just seemed to be a kind of frantic sort of feeling about them, I can’t really put into words what I mean but suffice it to say, something was definitely up with my little guys. Low and behold, something was up alright….There was a new hummer in the hood trying to hone in on their territory! A different variety of hummer that I’ve never seen around here. I wish I had my bird book, I tried to look him up on Google and didn’t see him. He was at least twice as big as my regular hummers and he looked mostly black but when the light hit him just right he had a bluish tinge to him and he has a very big fan-like tail with white along the bottom of the feathers. When this intruder would feed from the feeder he looked like he had on a big skirt, that fanned out. I think he may have been one of the varieties that we saw at that ladies house last week, but those seemed so much more purplish-blue, so I’m not sure. The only thing I was sure of was that my little regular hummers were not having any of this guys swooping in on their territory and they were putting up a major huff over the whole situation. They were very lucky that there was only one of these big hummers because he was massive compared to them. I know what your thinking…”Boy Holly, you are easily entertained!”. And you would indeed be correct about that! (Big smile here!). I have spent many a live long day , me and my iPad, just sitting out here listening to the birdsong and the wind rustling through the banana trees while I watch the ever changing clouds roll across the view of the mountains in the not so far distance. Some days as I look up from playing a word on WWF’s, it seems as though the evening is upon me and before I realize it, I am sitting in the dark. I write, I read, I play, I read some more, and I watch my birds, pet the dogs, give the dogs a little treat, read some more, and stop to Google an uncommon hummer that’s causing my familiar hummers to behave differently than normal, because yes, I know what “normal” is when it comes to how my little hummers behave….that’s just my life! And did I mention…..It’s Good 🙂

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Daily Prompt…Googled

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Describe the last time you were surprised by the intensity of a feeling you had about something, or were surprised at how strongly you reacted to something you thought wouldn’t be a big deal.

Intense…Hmmmm. what is something that made me feel an intense emotion? I’ve had a lot of those this last year. There were a lot of intense feelings about selling my house and about leaving my salon. Intense feelings were just rattling around at every corner. I was about to leave everything and everyone that had until then, made up what was my life as I knew it. I was preparing to make a move that we had been planning for and preparing for and dreaming about for seven years. Moving to Panama was something I wanted to do . I had hoped and dreamed and researched and planned to do it. I was filled with such a huge mix of emotions from excited,sad,scared,nervous,happy, to sad,anxious,frustrated,and more emotions than I can even describe . I had a good life. I wasn’t escaping some terrible life of turmoil or strife. I loved my neighborhood, my salon, my house, my colleagues at work, my neighbors, all the things that made life comfortable I was preparing to walk away from. Emotions were running high! Not just my own emotions but the emotions of everyone around me seemed to be at a boiling point. One small thing that I can remember being surprised by had to do with preparing my house to sell. We had hired professional stagers to stage our house and make it look perfect in order to list it for sale. On this particular day the painters were to begin painting the interior of the house. I should tell you, I love to decorate and to express myself in my living environment. One of my favorite ways to express myself in my home has always been to have a lot of colors on my walls. Colors always seems to add warmth to my life and I just always feel happy when I am surrounded by a lot of color. The thing about color is that we all have very different opinions about it. I’m certain that not everyone who visited my home would agree with my personal choices in terms of colors. With this in mind, I understood that the stagers felt it was necessary to tone down the colors in my house in an effort to make it more appealing to more people. This made perfect sense to me and then the day came for the painters to begin to paint….

I had been at work all day and when I walked into my house, my warm , inviting house that was a reflection of me, GASP! It was WHITE! Gasp again! Oh my! Not all white, they kept some of my colors on a few ‘accent’ walls but much of my color was now muted and toned down as I had agreed it needed to be. But even though my head had intellectually agreed with the designers, my heart sank when I saw it. I don’t know why , but tears began to well up in my eyes and I felt an instant knot in my stomach. Holy crap! Why was I feeling so gosh darn emotional over white paint? Looking back, it seems so silly to have had such an intense feeling about this. After all, I WANTED to sell my house, no one was twisting my arm and making me leave. It was my decision to change my life and move to Panama. But the fact remains, I was having a little meltdown because I was beginning to see the actual physical manifestations of my plan actually coming to life in the form of white paint on the walls of my house.

Sometimes, even when we take a step towards something good , and new, and exciting, we must also face some things that challenge our resolve. In my experience there’s always a balance and it’s true that we must take the good with the bad, or if not ‘bad’ per-say, then, not so ‘good’. They say, “Good things come to those who wait”, but I think’ “Good things also come to those who accept that with difficulty comes great reward!” Preparing to make this move to another country and begin again was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. Leaving so many people and so many things that I love and was proud of, forced me to have a tremendous amount of Intense emotions. I must say though, that as I was going through those intense moments of occasional ‘Gasps’ and ‘knots’ in my stomach, tears welling up and falling down my cheeks, and watching tears fall down the cheeks of so many people who were sad to see me go, I never once doubted that those intense emotions were going to be worth it. I had already enjoyed the colors on those walls and there will be other walls and bright, warm colors to express myself with. It’s not the end but a new beginning. And who knows, maybe I’ll have a new appreciation for white….Naaaaay..I’ll always be a color girl, no matter where my home is.

After publishing this post my friend emailed me with the answer to what this hummer is…Its got a great name..A Violet Sabrewing

Rebar is our enemy…

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20131104-175433.jpgI didn’t need to depend on WordPress for inspiration on a subject to write about today because in the dark of the night it came to me. We were invited to meet a group of friends for dinner last night at a great little Italian restaurant nearby called, Pianista. We got in the car and proceeded to drive down our driveway and at the bottom of the drive it becomes a communal driveway that is kinda narrow, not really meant for two cars. So one must pull over and let the other car pass. We politely moved to the side as an oncoming car went on past us, as we have done numerous times in the past, but this time as we pulled over and began to go again we heard an awful noise coming from under our car. Yikes! We looked at each other quizzically, shook our heads and continued on down the drive onto the main road. We were on a mission to get to that Italian restaurant so we shrugged our shoulders and hoped for the best. But the “Best” was not to be. About a mile or so down the road it quickly became apparent that there was a problem in the form of a flat tire! HUMPH! No, amount of shoulder shrugging was gonna let us continue on down the road to our destination. RATS!

Those who know my husband will know that he is ‘Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected”. And yes, in situations such as flat tires, on the side of Dark, narrow, windy roads , at night, he remains just as calm as usual. This is something that I am very grateful for given the fact that I am not so calm. I try to keep my head and just silently panic without causing too much commotion but being inside my head is not a picnic. I’m instantly terrified about the someone coming along around the corner (did I mention it’s DARK!) and not seeing us, which is absurd, because it’s pitch black, and practically deserted, hardly any cars on the road, so how could anyone miss the only brightly flashing hazard lights in sight? Scott immediately assess the situation, goes to the back of the car and begins to find the little tire changing kit that comes with the car, removes the spare tire from the back of the car and proceeds to begin quietly and calming changing the tire. And of course it begins to become apparent that the jack isn’t going to work. This doesn’t stop him from attempting to use it . This is when I begin to point out that we do have roadside assistance included in our car insurance and we can just call for help. Hah! Call for help? My husband? Not gonna happen. Ugga!Ugga! He will fix this himself, no matter how much time it takes. Besides, he points out that it is a Sunday Night of a Holiday weekend, and I agree, it could quite possibly take just as long to wait for help.

After attempting to make the jack work it became apparent that it was a great big FAIL. So on to plan B! I would stay with the car while he walked back the mile or so to get his truck which would hopefully have a functioning jack. I could not sit inside the car on the side of the dark road because he already had it partially jacked up and it was unstable. So I had to stand by the car, alone, on the dark quiet road! Gulp! I should tell you that the area where we were pulled over was very near the housing for some indigenous Indian laborers. For those of you who don’t live here I should explain that here in Boquete there’s a large community of indigenous Indians who make up a large part of the workforce for the Coffee plantations here. The owners of the plantations usually provide housing for these laborers and they tend to be pretty rustic dorm-like buildings that you see all over the place. Outside many of these dwellings you will see women washing clothes or bathing their babies. Many times driving by we see the kids playing soccer or baseball in the street. These people seem very humble and quiet, private and reserved. Last night I was standing outside one of these places and I must say, I felt pretty safe. they seemed curious about what we were doing but I never felt afraid. I was very touched by the kindness of passing vehicles who stopped to ask us if we were okay and needed help. We also knew we needed only ask and our friends who we were meant to be sharing dinner with would have been there in a minute. But we were fine, only a bit frustrated , luckily it wasn’t raining. I had my iPhone and began texting my mom in Texas in an effort to feel less alone. She , of course was up to the task of keeping me company during my moment of solitude.

It didn’t seem to take Scott long to return with a working jack. We were soon able to jack the car up enough and replace that poor sad flat tire. Our flat tire adventure had a happy ending and even though we missed an Italian dinner with our friends we triumphed over a nasty piece of rebar. I’m so grateful for such a calm husband who responds calmly during times of stress. We’ve many more adventures that await us, of this I’m certain. And Pianista will still be there next time we decide to go grab some good Italian food. Let’s just hope that nasty piece of rebar stays far away from my sparkly new tires next time! And we’ll be going down to David to shop for a good car tool kit with a functioning jack.

My own Daily Prompt: My how my life has changed…

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Daily Challenge….

Today (yesterday) was so much fun, I just have to write about it. One of my new friends came over and we had a “Hair Day”! What fun! She brought her box of color and I mixed up my color stash that I brought from home. We sat outside on my porch and just chatted away as we applied color to each other’s hair. To be honest, the hair part of the day was secondary to the “girl” part of the day. We talked and laughed and shared stories of our lives as our color was processing. It’s times liked these that make be reminisce about how much my life has changed. I used to do hair in exchange for money and these days the currency is a simple exchange of services along with a great afternoon of conversation. I’ve always enjoyed doing hair, my creative side gets much satisfaction from the pleasure of creating shape, color and design. In the past I also felt financial reward from doing hair. I paid my bills and afforded a certain lifestyle as a result of the money people were willing to pay me to do their hair, that was also satisfying. But far and away the most satisfaction at the end of each day was the conversations I had had with each person, the connections and the building of relationships that gave me the most profound and valuable reward. Yesterday reminded me of that feeling. To get together with someone you enjoy spending time with and exchanging a very personal service with one another is a great way to build a friendship. How many opportunities do we normally get to do something for a friend? And that Mutual exchange of ridding one another of gray hair, to me , feels very satisfying (of course I’m the one with they gray hair, she just colors her hair for fun! Humph!). I must add that the setting up here on my porch with the view of the mountains, the cool breeze rustling through the banana trees, and the birds chirping away seriously beats doing hair in any salon I’ve ever worked in! It’s worth the inconvenience of having to rinse our hair in the kitchen sink! I can’t help but think to myself, so often, “My how my life has changed!” As I Smile!!

Daily Prompt: Conflicted

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Again: I’m challenging myself to write a blog post every day this month based on the prompt from WordPress. So I may be veering a bit from my usual subject matter, which is my new life in Panama. I think, my new love of writing is something that I’m embracing now that my life has changed and I get to redefine who I am and what I do with my time . Who knows what I’ll decide to do when i grow up, but right now I will write…

You’re in the middle of a terrible argument, and everyone turns to you to help resolve it. How do you respond? How do you react to conflict?

Wow! This is a hard one for me. In my life I have strived to be a great avoider of conflict! Conflict and me are newly acquainted, we haven’t known one another for long. For most of my life I’ve tried my best to avoid conflict. Have you ever heard of a personality study called, The Enneagram? The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram) system is represented by a circle containing a nine-pointed starlike shape. Ennea is Greek for the number nine, and gram means “a drawing.” Enneagram means “a drawing with nine points.”
The Enneagram teaches that early in life we learned to feel safe and to cope with our family situations and personal circumstances by developing a strategy based on our natural talents and abilities.( The Nine personalities are
1. the perfectionist 2. the Helper 3. the Achiever 4. the Romantic 5. the Observer 6. the Worrier 7. the Adventurer 8. the Asserter 9. the Peacemaker.)

Well, I am The Peacemaker. Yes, I like nothing more than keeping the Peace! In spite of this fact the universe has been known to send conflict my way and I’ve come to learn that If I face conflict with authenticity and integrity It doesn’t feel so scary. As a matter of fact, I’ve slowly begun to see my relationship with “conflict” at times, as an opportunity to grow and become a better person. But when conflict arrises, my knee-jerk response is just to make peace, at any cost, I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been known to lose myself and simply please the person, or people, who are manifesting the conflict. This ‘knee-jerk’ response is one I somehow naturally learned as a child and although it was a behavior that may have served me well as a child, as an adult I’ve slowly come to learn that being an “Un evolved Peacemaker” has a tendency to create a very “unauthentic” person.

Being a Peacemaker at the cost of my authenticity was a price I began to realize I just wasn’t willing to pay. I needed to learn to be in the same room with “Conflict” and face it with courage and integrity. Thus began my relationship with “conflict”. I’ve come to accept that when I’m In the middle of a conflict and it’s up to me to resolve it, I try hard to practice being okay with the possibility that it may get ugly. I may end up not necessarily being “liked”…..Yikes! Someone may even be mad at me….Gasp! But in the end, I have to live with “me”, with who I am,( As soon as I figured out just “who” I was) . I began to realize that Conflict had been a huge distraction for me. Conflict caused me to avoid facing my authenticity. All to keep the PEACE! Well, I still like to keep the peace, but I now have the presence of mind to realize that it’s not always my job and when I am involved in a conflict, I need not sacrifice my own needs in order to make everything okay . There are times when I disagree or when I’m angry, or when I have to give my title of “Peacemaker” to someone else. While I’ll always feel most comfortable with conflict far away from me, I’ve learned and am ever learning that conflict isn’t necessarily my enemy. Nowadays I’m usually pretty good at finding a peaceful way to deal with conflict and when me or someone in my life has a conflict I’m up to the challenge of facing it, instead of my past reaction of exiting stage right. Mind you, I’m still learning and growing and those tendencies to avoid conflict will likely always be a part of who I am. The Peacemaker in me , although, hopefully becoming more evolved as I grow older, will always be a big part of what makes me who I am. Where would the world be without us Peacemakers after all? The important thing , to me, is to identify and understand, those personality traits that hinder my ability to live my life authentically.

Daily Prompt..Eat, Drink, and Be Merry… …for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.

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( WordPress, the blog hosting sight that I use to publish my blog, is hosting a “Daily blogging” challenge and I’m thinking I just may give this a try. I’m challenging myself to write a post a day. Not necessarily a long post, just ‘something’ every day this month, starting today. They offer a prompt and on days when I just don’t know what to write about I may take advantage of the ideas, like today….)

Boy do we love to host dinners! A big part of what we, as a couple enjoy about hosting dinners is, believe it or not, all the planning and Strategizing about what to serve, we enjoy the debate about what entree to prepare with what side dishes, and what appetizer to serve and then what to prepare for desert. Then Scott starts to research online for new and interesting recipes (not that he’s ever followed a recipe!, they serve as inspiration for him) One of our favorite ways to share a meal is to enjoy an array of Tapa’s, a variety of small dishes. We think It’s just good fun to experience several different small dishes instead of the traditional plate full of food. A Protein, a starch a vegetable, blah, blah, blah, how boring. Not boring to eat mind you because I’m most certainly a fan of all those ingredients that define a traditional dinner. But it’s not always, in our opinion, so fun to prepare the same thing, meal after meal. When we prepare a meal for our friends, it’s a gift really, and we like it to be special. In addition to finding and trying to prepare new and different foods.

My husband is the cook in our house and I’m the lowly sous chef. Well, not “lowly” just not at all interested in the actual ‘preparation’ of the food. We make a great team because my forte is in the table-scape! I love to set the table. Picking out the dishes, doing a centerpiece and creating a beautiful place to gather with people we like to spend time with. I get great pleasure in setting the stage, candles, flowers, you get the idea. Given the fact that my table is always ready for the meal way before the meal is ready to consume, I naturally make myself useful by doing any prep work the cook assigns to me while simultaneously cleaning up after him, of course. (eye roll here!) And may I add here….my man, while he CAN COOK, he’s exceedingly messy while he’s doing it! He leaves no pot or pan unused! As I roll my eyes during this part of my narrative I should add that, I jest, the entire process from menu planning to shopping, prepping, cooking and yes, even cleaning, when we’re working along side one another we’re enjoying our time together. Some couples enjoy jogging together or hiking or reading the paper in the morning over their coffee, but we cherish, cherish? Well, that sounds slightly dorky, okay, how bout, “thoroughly enjoy” preparing special meals for friends and creating a gathering and sharing our home. To us, this is good fun.

When a gathering at our dinner table is in the making we begin with the guest list. How many should we invite? We’ve found that, in our opinion, 6 to 8, people is a perfect sized gathering. Of course, if you are a reader who has known us from our Los Altos days then you may be familiar with our gigantic, blow out! Hollyween parties! Yea, that may have been a few more than 6 to 8 people. Believe it or not, they started out smaller and then through the years grew until the last one was close to 200 people! Whew!! While we enjoyed throwing those parties, I never really got to socialize with anyone as I would have liked to. That’s just wayyyyy too many people to actually sit down and enjoy entertaining, a different form of entertaining for certain. The more intimate gatherings are my cup of tea these days.

Given the fact that we’ve just made a major move to Panama and are just now, five months into it, getting settled, we’re only just getting back into the swing of entertaining. It’s a little different for us, given the fact that all the people we know so far are very new friends. And this house we’re renting isn’t exactly stocked with all the kitchen equipment we’re used to cooking with, so it’s an adventure preparing meals like we enjoy preparing. We’re slowly beginning to host small gatherings and have done it about three times so far. In order to continue hosting these small gatherings that we so enjoy, we’ve had to search out certain ingredients and even had to purchase a couple basic things like a cheesecake pan, measuring cups,mixing bowls, a hand mixer (Scott is jonesing for his Viking Mix-master!!) . It’s funny, you don’t realize how much you depend on certain little conveniences until you don’t have it. I don’t think I ever remember cutting up a boiled egg with a knife instead of using that handy little egg chopper! Ha! Most of the silly little gadgets and kitchen conveniences are easily found here in Panama, but we have a 40 foot container that we plan to ship out here and we already own all that good stuff and are trying to live without it now. It seems frivolous, and unnecessary to buy things that we know we already have.

I see, as I’m winding up my little essay, that I’ve veered terribly from the prompt! Oh well! That’s just too bad…hah! I just started writing and here’s what I ended up with. Writing about dinner and hosting a dinner , naturally lead me to talk about how and why we, as a couple , enjoy entertaining. I’m going with it! I soooo enjoy writing, it’s fun, therapeutic and just a new way for me to express myself. Please forgive any grammatical errors and limited vocabulary, I’m not a “writer”, I just enjoy writing.