Category Archives: Our Year of Preparation

The Sculpturistas…

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Several years ago , I began to search for a new hobby, something new to learn . I was in the thick of the yucky “troubled teen” era of my life and felt as though I were drowning in my woes. So my solution to this sensation of drowning was to lose myself in some form of creating something beautiful. I have found solace in my life during times of crisis , by allowing something beautiful to come forth from my hands. I’ve learned that there is a transformational process for me when I’m involved in an artistic endeavor. While I lose myself in the process of creating something, I am simultaneously finding myself . That may sound weird to some people but for me it’s miraculous. I think everyone has their own way of navigating life’s challenges , this is mine.

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How We Decided to Move To Panama

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This is a post that I published a while back but thought it was worth re-blogging. I notice that the most frequently asked question from those who don’t know us is “How did you choose Panama?” So for those of you who may have missed my answer to that very good question…..

As I’ve been discussing our plans to expatriate with clients, friends and family, there are naturally many questions that everyone has . How did you decide on Panama? How do you fly there? Is it safe? Do they have Internet ? Where is Panama in relation to other countries in Central and South America? Do you have to give up your U.S. citizenship ? Can you collect Social Security down the road? Do you still pay U.S. taxes? What is banking like there? What currency do they use? What s health care like there? Will you ship a vehicle out there?

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Work, Work, Work…

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This is a picture of the detached garage in the backyard and the dirt that will soon be lawn. We are building an arbor over that glass sliding door and I have a beautiful pot to plant a topiary to the left of the door.

Each day off work is a day to work. There really isn’t any time to just have a day off and recharge. We have set a very tight schedule for ourselves and it will take every spare minute we have to get everything done. We have two weeks left to get this house in perfect shape. The painters will continue tomorrow and Scott and his four workers will continue pulling the backyard together, while simultaneously finishing off woodwork projects that are not quite complete . Today (Sunday) we bought four beautiful trees to plant along the fence in the back. We already bought a lot of shrubs to plant and three vines. Scott plans to order the sod tomorrow. We are supposed to get some rain on wednesday so hopefully all the plants will be in by then. Today Mariah helped me empty the attic and haul my last load to Goodwill. The biggest project that Scott has to complete is probably packing up all his tools and transporting them to storage. There is a pretty long list of little details to address. I have taken the week of the 11th off work so that I can help pull together the moving out and the front yard planting as well as anything else I can tackle while Scott is finishing up all the details he is working on . We need to plant a bunch of color in the front yard. Our Realtor is coming on Wednesday with her cleaning person so he can give a bid. The plan is to be out of the house and moved into our short term rental by the 15th. The cleaners will be scheduled to clean on the 16th and then the stagers will begin on the 18th. Then the realtors will have photographers in here to begin a virtual tour and photos for marketing brochures and such. Then the Brokers tour should be the 22nd and open house beginning on the 23. The clock is ticking, we shall see if we make it! If not , then oh well, we will just have to push everything out a week or so, not the end of the world! This entire timeframe is our own, nothing says we cannot change it if we aren’t ready. Whew! Sounds exhausting, huh! Well, it kinda is!

IT’S A WILD RIDE!

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Painters, stagers, realtors, landscaping, storage spaces, and cleaners OH MY! Our life is literally upside down! It’s all a part of the ride we signed up for so don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining , nooooo. It’s exciting , to be sure! But man, It’s moving along much faster than I could have envisioned. And my stomach gets a bit tight at unexpected moments. Yesterday when I walked into the house there was a crew of painters in there and my beautiful colors were gone! Not all the colors were gone but the ceilings are all white now. If you don’t know me, I am not a fan of white, is white ‘really’ a color? I just love to surround myself with cheery color. I knew the painters were starting this week but I thought they were starting the exterior first so I was kinda surprised when I walked in the house, to see the interior started. I had to turn around and walk back out to Scotts truck and just cry. Scott saw me crying and said (after a chuckle) are you crying because your sad or happy??? “I don’t knowwwww!” I have a strange feeling that will not be the last of the tears. This is a transition of emmence proportions ! A change that I’m very excited about but also very aware, even more so lately, of the magnitude of change we are initiating. I’m so grateful to be doing this with my best friend! Although I think he’s wondering who this cry-baby is at the moment. Humph! Onward and upward! Did I hear someone say ADVENTURE??? I might need some kleenex for this portion of the ride.

Yippee! She Did It!!

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Yippeee! My daughter is officially a licensed Cosmetologist! She Passed her state board Exam today! Im so very happy for her and of course , more proud than anyone can possibly imagine! When she called to tell me the good news she burst into tears! I wish I could have been there to hug her! She is soooooo awesome! Time to celebrate!! Cheers!

Weepy about the house…

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Wow! Today,(Wednesday) I work at 12:00. So I got up at 6:00 and started boxing up the last remaining miscellaneous stuff that needed to be gotten out of the house so that the painters can do their job with as little in the way as possible. We also scheduled a Salvation Army pick up . The last remaining furniture that we couldn’t give to friends or family is sitting out on the curb waiting for a ride. The house is empty except for the few pieces of our furniture the stagers want to use. And the painters should be able to do their job without much in the way. At 10:00 we have yet another meeting with potential realtors, deep sigh. This is the first time I’ve been through the selling of a house and I must admit, it is not for the faint of heart. Especially given the fact that we have so much invested in this house, not only financially but emotionally as well.
45 minutes later…
We just finished our meeting with the realtors and I imagine I looked like a deer in headlights to them! At one point, I must admit I was holding back tears. I can’t really explain why I had this sudden burst of emotion talking about the best strategy to sell this house with two practical strangers who really only care about making money. ( well, I’m probably being a bit harsh, they are very nice people.) Don’t worry, I’m certain no one sitting at the table could even tell I was experiencing an internal burst of emotional upheaval! Well, It’s all part of the process and I am marching along , maybe a tiny bit weepy but it will pass. I have been expecting the unexpected and I must admit I feel a bit surprised by this sudden burst of emotion about the house, Darn it! Yet another part of the Adventure!

Mariah is taking her State Board Exam today!

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Mariah is in Fairfield today taking her Cosmetology State Board Exam. She has been studying like Crazy so I have a feeling she is very prepared and all will go smoothly. But we’ve all experienced these types of tests or exams that are the culmination of a lot of hard work and time invested in something that is very important to us. Please send her good thoughts and prayers . I know she’s gonna be fine!

Next On Our List …

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The next step in our diabolical plan is to have the house staged beautifully for selling. We have hired a staging company called Fresh Accents. The designer we are working with is named Valerie Rebesque. She and her partner are both very creative and professional women who I have a lot of faith in . They will surely make our house a show-piece . I must say that I really enjoy decorating and consider myself pretty good at it (some may disagree, too bad!) , at least good at making my home look how” I” like it to look. I have my own particular style and I really enjoy creating an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming as well as expressing myself in my home. When someone comes into my house it is an invitation to know me better. I really get a lot of joy out of making my home an expression of me. So, having someone else come in and decorate my home will be a tiny bit strange, to put it mildly. I think it will be really important for the decor of our home to appeal to the masses and not just to me. We want as many potential buyers as possible to walk into our home and be able to envision themselves living in the space. I know how to decorate for myself but It will be best for a neutral person to get in here and set the stage that will appeal to lots of people. Read the rest of this entry

Let The Landscaping Commence!

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With the exception of the front yard, we have quite a bit of cleanup to do around the yard before the house will be ready for public consumption. The backyard is especially horrifying! So today Scott has rented a little Bobcat tractor and the big push to clean up the back yard is on it’s way. We have a detached one car garage in the back that was once converted into a little cottage. It has a bathroom and a tiny little kitchen area. When I was a single mom I used to rent it out to help with my mortgage. It was so good to have it. Before we did our remodel the original house had a garage attached but we used up that space for another bedroom. So the cottage became the garage. We have made good use of that back area through the years . First living in it while we built our house then it became Scotts workshop for all his tools. All around the garage there is ugly concrete and we are removing all of it so we can landscape all the way back. Our backyard is quite large so it will be so pretty to have sod, trees and flowerbeds to see from the house rather than the huge mound of junk I’ve gazed upon for so long! Grrrrr!

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A Very Familiar Feeling…

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The house is nearly empty

I remember when Scott and Mariah and me were living in our 500 square foot cottage in the back of our property while we built our house. How could I forget, right? The three of us and two indoor cats stuffed into 500 square feet for 2 years, yikes! By the time the house was at the very least , air tight and water tight, I was itchin’ to get back in there ASAP! I didn’t care that most of the house was only plywood subfloor , and there were no cabinets ( boy, was that a mistake to let him get side tracked before our project was completed! ) I just wanted to move in soooooo badly. Now, fast forward about 8 or 9 years later and I just can’t wait to get moved OUT! My this is a very familiar feeling , indeed.

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Mariah Update…

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I think I may have reported that Mariah recently moved out of my house into a rental house with three other young women her age. The house is in downtown San Jose in a really nice neighborhood. Two of the gals who share the house are sisters and they both work as nanny’s . One of the sisters is just starting cosmetology school , it’s so great that she has that in common with her. She found this great rental situation on Craigslist . One really nice thing about it is that they all moved in on the same day so it didn’t feel like she was moving into someone else’s place. They all contributed to the household with furniture and accessories for the common areas and I was, of course, thrilled because she was able to take many of the items from my house that I was getting rid of. No one had dishes so , yippee, she took a set from me as well as plenty of glasses . It’s just so nice to see her getting so comfortably settled in a very nice place.

After finishing cosmetology school she has been studying while waiting for the state board to send her a date for her exam. The exam is pretty grueling and she is a nervous wreck about it. It is an all day test , part written and part practical. Any kind of big final exam is so nerve wracking and I hate seeing her so stressed. She’s been bringing a mannequin head to the salon to practice her haircutting for the practical portion of the test. The date for her test arrived last week so it’s official, February 27 is the big day! They administer the test in Fairfield which is a couple hours drive away from here so I think she’s planning to go a day early to get acclimated and have a good nights sleep. I know she will do great!

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The Home Stretch

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We are in the home stretch ( there’s a pun in there, but I’m too tired to see it) with all the house preparations. This next Monday we will interview the last two realtors. I really dislike this part of our Adventure! I have never been involved in the selling of a house and there are so many intricacies involved in the whole process, it makes my head spin! The other thing I really hate about the house selling process is deciding on a realtor. For me it’s especially awful because I am acquainted with so many very successful realtors from my salon. There’s just no way to consider every one of them. We would be interviewing realtors forever! I’m choosing to take a backseat on this decision. Scott’s mother was a realtor for nearly forty years and she owned and ran a very successful real estate office for much of her career , so he grew up around the business and is very familiar with the whole process. We will have interviewed six realtors after next monday and from those six we will decide which person we will feel most comfortable working with. It’s a hard decision because they are all so good, although they all seem to have varying opinions as to how to price our particular property. Pricing is yet another part of the process that causes a knot to form in my stomach. This house is our nest egg and we need to get as much money as possible to fund our big Adventure so we need to be smart about our decisions. This is why we are attempting to make certain that the house is finished perfectly and that it is staged to show its maximum potentials.

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A Grumpy Milestone! Grrrrrr!

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Today is a Milestone. Today is the day I will stop asking Scott so many questions ! ( “whatcha doin’ today? When will that be done? what time is the painter coming? where does that go?) He’s got a lot on his plate and my normally calm, cool and collected man seems to be showing a bit of wear and tear on his calmness. Just A little. While I’m at the salon cutting and coloring hair and blissfully chatting away with all my clients, Scott is here at the house making cabinetry and trying to get as much of our things from inside the house moved to the storage unit as possible. He’s also clearing out the backyard and around the cottage in the back so that the painters can paint the exterior next week. On the weekends the two of us bust our buts to get as much done together as possible and the weekends fly by so fast. We are pretty productive together but the busting buts here at the house continues on for him each and every day, without a break. So He isn’t getting much down time to recharge right now. Our evenings are the time when we both unwind and have a nice dinner and a bottle of wine together in front of the tv. Every morning while we are having our breakfast I like to ask, ” So what’s on your agenda for the day?” He’s normally very happy to list what he has planned to accomplish each day. But last night I mentioned that I thought It might be a good idea to get a few more hands to help him, some laborers, and whew, he just snapped at me. Not a common occurrence at our house ( totally understandable this time.). Apparently he has it all under control, Sheesh. This is a sign that we are nearing the time of the project when I need to be mindful not to add more stress to my sweet man. Nerves are high at the moment , on both sides, not just Scott. We have so much on our minds and our to-do list is pretty overwhelming. Not to worry, we are getting plenty of sleep, for the most part. The list is beginning to get many things checked off so the good news is it wont be long now and we can take a deep breath, AHHHHH! Having momentary Grumpy moments are to be expected right now and don’t let me mislead you into thinking it’s only Scott who is exhibiting this lapse of normality. I too am feeling the effects of the whirlwind that is our life at the moment. Boy oh boy , The coordination it takes to make a move of this magnitude is pretty amazing! You really have to WANT to do a move such as this really bad to make the many and varied life changes and sacrifices that are required . If your asking yourself “why” we are so determined to put ourselves through such a move, well, I have a long and detailed list of reasons for our relocation but the first one that comes to mind is, Change. In a nutshell, we are in a place in our lives where we are craving a change of lifestyle and this is our solution. All this craziness we are putting ourselves through will pay off in a big way in just a few more months. Our eyes are on the prize and our minds are focused , we may be experiencing temporary moments of grumpiness and we may snap at one another on occasion but we carry on hand in hand and forgive and forget ! This is our life right now, we have chosen it and we are solid in our resolve to continue marching together towards this goal , Smiling, frowning, laughing, crying, but never wavering in our devotion to the path we have chosen. We are each a “Rock” for the other, (even if we may occasionally like to whack each other over the head with a “Rock”! hee!hee!) The Adventure Is Upon Us!

Selling My Salon, Sigh…

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As I’ve talked about many times in the past, selling my salon is another bittersweet part of our preparations for our new life. The first person I wanted to offer the opportunity to buy my salon was, of course, my dear colleague Natalie. She has worked along side me in my business for ten years and I would never have even considered offering it to anyone else before she had the opportunity to consider if it was something she wanted to undertake. Owning a business and being responsible for all it takes to make sure it runs smoothly is not a dream everyone has. There is much backstage work that goes into running a successful business, even one as small as mine. Many of the maintenance and the daily worries that go along with owning a business are not something every person considers worthwhile . There is much to be said for just being responsible for yourself and for your own personal business on a day to day basis, and being a successful stylist has its own challenges, believe me, it’s not easy work. So When Natalie and I talked this last weekend about her feelings about taking over the salon I was very supportive of her decision not to take it on. She spent a good deal of time struggling with what was best for her and for her future and decided that for her , the thought of owning a business on top of being a busy stylist was going to add too much stress to her already very comfortable life. In the end what is best for my dear friend is most important to me. Plan B will reveal itself and life will go on .( Big Smile!) Everyone is happy and there are absolutely no hard feelings between myself and Natalie. I have many other options and will do my best to find the person who is the best fit to continue running the salon. It’s a very desirable business in our little community of hair salons and I already have a great candidate who I am talking to at the moment. This Adventure of ours is proving to be an Adventure for many people around us as well as for us! I have very optimistic outlook on the future of One Eighty Four Plaza South and I just know that change is good, hard , but good. I’m really proud of Natalie and the courage it took for her to do what is best for herself! She’s an amazing woman and will always be one of my best friends!

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Thank Goodness For Craigslist!

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Scott was very productive the other day. His workers didn’t show up yesterday so he decided to be productive in a different way. He decided to post a few things for sale on Craigslist. His motorcycle, an old car stereo, and a handgun. All three items sold the very day he placed the adds! Amazing! The people who bought them came that day and picked them up. With the exception of the handgun which we learned is illegal to sell in the state of California , he was able to find a gun store in another state and mailed it off already. Whew! Im really impressed with how fast he was able to sell his junk. ( I would never call it Junk In front of Scott !) One persons junk is another persons treasure, that’s true. Hurray! For Craigslist!!!

Our Pool Table

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I know you all most likely think we are nuts for dismantling and shipping our pool table all the way to Panama. And you would probably be absolutely correct in your assumption! We are totally nuts! ( We have long ago embraced our nuttiness!) But Our pool table has a history that is very sentimental to us. Way back in about 2003-4 when we were in the very beginning stages of designing and planning our remodel, we went to Reno for a long weekend. Mind you, in the process of dreaming about and planning the design of our house, we knew early on that we would incorporate a game room. While we were in Reno we learned that there was an art fair going on . We both enjoy walking through festivals and just checking it all out so off we went. Now let me give you some background on Scott and Me for those of you who dont know us. One of our greatest pleasures is entertaining our friends at our house. We love nothing more than preparing some good food, opening up a bottle of good wine ( or two, or three) having a group of friends over and having a good time. At our house a good time often includes playing a board game, a fun Wii game , darts, and Yes, you guessed it , a friendly game of pool. We love playing games together as well. Its hard to stop us when we get a good cribbage game goin’! Some of my fondest memories ( aside from Hollyween parties!) is sitting around our dining room table drinking and laughing while playing Apples To Apples, one of my personal favorite group games. I also have some great memories of playing Balderdash with our friends Mike and Maria. I’ll never forget laughing so hard with them as they kicked our butts with their knowledge of different languages , which I still think was an unfair advantage! Ha! Ha! Our pool table has seen some fun nights with lots of friends and it’s always been a focal point , especially at our Hollyween Parties.

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Expat Kitty’s …. “El Meowo?”

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Well, it looks like Midnight and Copper will be joining us on this Big Adventure! I put the word out to see if I might be able to find someone to adopt them but to no avail. So onward we go with our two little fur balls. Given the fact that I have not taken them anywhere in the car since they were about 2 years old, I’m expecting any type of transportation at this point is going to be pretty terrifying for them. In order to attempt to minimize the trauma, we are putting them in their shiny new crates and taking them on short drives with us. I have been trying to desensitize them to the carriers by spraying cat nip in the carriers at night . Both cats seem to really fall for this little trick , I’ve seen them sniffing around and rubbing themselves on the crates. I think thats a good sign? The crates I bought have these nifty little food and water receptacles built into the doors. Not that you want an animal who will be trapped in the crate for upwards of 12-13 hours drinking and eating much as they have no way to go to the bathroom. Sunday we took Midnight with us while we took another load of household belongings to our storage unit. Aside from a bit of pathetic meowing in the beginning, he seemed to do pretty well. Success! Copper is next for a little outing! Each evening we are still putting harnesses on them to see if we might eventually be able to use a leash down the road. I don’t really see them putting up with being on a leash but, what the heck , It’s worth a try! I thought it might be possible to give them a break from the carriers when we arrive in Panama City but I’m most likely delusional. The reality is that they will most likely be stuck in the safety of the crates until we get to a pet friendly hotel in Panama City. Cats on leashes?? I think Not! Ha! Ha!

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The Hard Part Of This Adventure Is Hitting Us

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When Scott and I made the decision to retire abroad it was impossible for us to really grasp the reality of what that was going to actually involve. Oh, we knew that we would have many many decisions to make, financial decisions, logistical decisions, business decisions, just to name a few. We had a pretty good vision, of course, of all the physical labor it was going to take to get the house ready to sell ( we had a pretty accurate vision on that count! ) . Retirement of course would mean I would no longer own my salon, consequently I would either sell it, or close it down (Sigh!) and if I had to close it down then getting rid of all the furniture and equipment would be what I would face down the road. When we decided we wanted to pursue a completely new and different life in an entirely different country we , of course, were aware of what a monumental change it would be for us, in so many countless ways. I think one of the many aspects of making this move that I didn’t fully and realistically anticipate is how our moving would affect those around us and then how that would in turn, affect us. How could we have known just how much our leaving would sadden those who care about us?

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One Entertainment Center, Coming Right Up!

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The last big piece of the woodworking projects in our house is the entertainment center in our family room. Here’s some pictures of the progress! I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed with my carpenter , his design and workmanship never ceases to amaze me! That last huge piece of the entertainment center was too big to fit under our arbor leading from his workshop into our house so he had to put it into his truck and drive around the block to bring it through the front door! I found that kinda humorous ! I’m also including a couple shots of the Kitchen ,its soooo close to being done. I really hope whoever buys this house has an appreciation for all the quality workmanship that Scott has so lovingly contributed to it. I’m glad we are taking all his tools and equipment with us to Panama cuz’ I’m gonna need another pretty closet ! Read the rest of this entry

15 Weeks Of Work? What????

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I just counted how many more weeks of work I have! Oh My! Fifteen weeks to go! I know, some of you don’t want to think about it, and I’m sorry to make you sad. But I can’t help but be super excited! Scott and I are working so hard to make this all happen and all our hard work, planning, and strategizing is coming to a completion. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel! I have most of our essential belongings that we want to take with us packed up and stored in the storage unit. I have a couple more truck loads to take to the donation place and I’ve made a list of things that I need to find a home for like big planters and garden things that I think friends or family may like to take. Soon Scott will be ready to start loading up his tools and clearing out his workshop. The biggest pieces of the puzzle are very close to being done. Landscaping the backyard will be the last big push at the house then we can begin , in earnest, to work on all the documentation for residency in Panama and importing the cats and the transfer of the salon to Natalie. I know she is giving me a generous gift of patience , I have been so caught up in my own transition and as a result her transition to a business owner has been very much neglected by me . I’m about to have room in my head to change my focus to working on the salon and walking Natalie through the process of becoming an independent business owner. She’s gonna be Great! When I think of her running the salon, I feel so glad. There are so many pieces to this puzzle and as organized as I’m attempting to be, some things just have to be addressed first before I can move on to the next piece. Counting the number of weeks I have to work is just one more measure of time for me and I hope those of you who are sad about our move can let me be excited , cuz’ I’m really , really beginning to feel my feet getting eager to do a “Happy Dance!” . Not to worry, I’ll hold off for a bit longer before I let loose with some killer, happy moves! Giggle! Giggle!

Movin’ Right Along…

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I mean “literally”, we are movin’ along with all the necessary steps needed to take to get this boat sailing ! Today, (Sunday, 2/10/13) was a very productive day. We decided to divide and conquer! After we managed to drag down a truck load of more donation things from the attic and loaded the truck ( load number 5, one or two more to go! ), I took off to our local Goodwill while Scott took off for his workshop in the backyard to Finish off the last coat of poly on the carcasses for the entertainment center. I then returned to the house and continued packing up clothes and odds and ends like artwork, and other various things that are still laying around the pool table area. We really need to clear out the area around the pool table so Scott can disassemble it and we can get it packed up in our storage unit. The stagers have decided that we will transform that area into a formal living room for the sale of the house. Im also getting ready to call my friend Charleen who owns a carpet cleaning business and get her to send her guys over to take away our four area rugs to clean them and pack them for shipping. But first the pool table needs to go in order to get to the rug below the table. So, as I was saying, after I got through packing more boxes, we loaded the truck again and made yet another trip to our storage unit to drop off all the boxes I got packed up today. whew!

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Go Sharks!

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Last night was another ‘last’ for us, our last San Jose Sharks Hockey game . Our friend Marie has always very generously shared her season tickets with us when she can’t go. I just love going to the games! I love all the music and the hype, and the general camaraderie of cheering on your local team, its good fun. I also really enjoy the fact that when Marie shares her tickets she always gives us four tickets so we can invite friends to come along. Last night our good friends Jim and Cathy came with us , it was great to spend an evening with them. They can really relate to the transition we are about to dive into because they made a very similar move from Pennsylvania to California not too many years ago. Even though they didn’t leave the country it was still a huge life change . They sold nearly all their possessions , packed up their young son and drove out to California for a fresh new adventure. Sounds a little bit like the Beverley Hillbillies ! Only I don’t think they drove out here in a truck with Granny sitting on top,! Noooo Granny would have been strapped to the Viking stove on top of the BMW!! They wish they had found Oil in their yard but no such luck, at least not yet, maybe they should start digging just in case! Lol! Chances are all they would find in the dirt around here is an old iPhone or some kids discarded old ( last years version) iPod . No, I’m just kidding, There’s gotta be a PC somewhere in the yard! Ha!Ha! I really admire the courage and adventurous spirit it took for them to make such an enormous life altering change. They were lucky to have Cathy’s sister, Sandy ( also my very dear friend) already living here. I know it was helpful to have a family member to help acclimate during the early transition. I don’t have any family in Panama but I have connected with a few really friendly and supportive bloggers and other expats through this blog and from our past visits. Its great to know that once we get to Panama and get settled we have people we can contact who will share their experiences with us and help us acclimate to our new life. I seriously doubt we will ever see an ice hockey game in Panama but Im sure we will discover some other way to gather and enjoy a common interest with those in our new community. I know they have a fantastic Blues and Jazz festival in Boquete every year and plenty of parades and festivals to go to . As far as spectator sports, I’ll have to get back to you on that one, there;s probably no shortage of soccer games! For every ‘last’ we experience on this end of our adventure there will be a ‘first’ on the other side! I hold onto that knowledge and it softens the melancholy that comes along once in awhile. Sigh. But for now “Go Sharks!!”

It’s Crunch Time!

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Here we go…. It’s “Crunch” time! I’m Beginning to feel the pressure of all the many and varied aspects of organizing such an enormous move . At the same time I’m getting really excited to just be there! But first before the adventure can begin,we must soldier through and carefully choreograph each part of our preparations . Lets not forget , Scott and I are also working 8 to 12 hour days while simultaneously organizing so many things. We must try to remember that this is part of the Adventure! Are we having fun yet?? Humph! :0 Read the rest of this entry

I Do Believe She’s Launched!

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If you just can’t stand hearing a mother bragging about her child, then you should stop reading right about now…. Im feeling rather gushy about my daughter at the moment. She has been living with us for the last six months and the other day, ( Friday,2/1/13) she moved out. Sigh! I never thought I would feel the pangs of an ,’Empty Nester’, but here I am feeling kinda weepy about my baby moving out on her own. After suffering through an extremely trying ( to put it mildly ) adolescence, I have found that I was actually ENJOYING her presence here in my house! I keep mentioning how much she has morphed into a beautiful, responsible, ambitious, smart, caring, generous, young women, and ,Wow, I gotta say ,” I really like being around her”! Im not surprised, I’m Just sayin’!

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Going Home

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We spent five nights with our good friends, Jason & Caroline. They live in Santa Cruz but have a beautiful home in the mountains above Calistoga. The area is called Lake County and its a great place to have a relaxing getaway . It just happened to be my Birthday weekend but we really just wanted to spend time with our friends before we leave for Panama. The weekend was a very productive one , we spent plenty of time not doing much at all, reading, lounging in front of a roaring fire, watching movies, chatting , laughing, ample wine and beer drinking (of course!) with a little hike thrown in just so we weren’t compete and utter slugs. We can check off yet another ‘Last’ on our list of last times. We will not likely make it back up to Lake County again before our move.

Wednesday morning, as we were packing up to drive back home I couldn’t help realizing that although we had completely enjoyed our time , I was looking forward to going home. There’s always something so good about getting back home. I began to think about this, going ‘Home’ thing. There is a time, (fast approaching for us), when we will not be,’Going Home’. Hmmmmmm….. That’s interesting. Of course it’s not an epiphany or a sudden realization! I really do realize that moving to Panama means I won’t have a home to come back to here in California. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we have established a place in our new location where we feel ‘at home ‘. I have to believe that our home will be wherever we are. As long as we have a cozy bed and a kitchen where Scott can cook, (let’s not forget a place where I can charge my iPad !), we will feel at home.

I am really looking forward to discovering our new life. I’m certain we will have an enormous amount of adjusting to do and lots of work , but I’m ready for it. And a time will come when I have a home to look forward to going to!

Oh My! We Have Certainly Been Through A Lot Of ‘Life’ Together!

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I’ve been thinking about all the many life experiences we (me & my clients) have been through together. I was about twenty or so when many of us began our long relationship. Yep, we were so young! I was married to Brian( affectionately known as Dip-shit) ๐Ÿ˜… well…. Maybe not exactly ‘affectionately! I was a young, inexperienced stylist. I was eager to succeed and you trusted me, and stuck with me as I gained experience and grew into a seasoned stylist ! Thanks for that! Your loyalty has been very, very appreciated! Many of you have followed me to three salons since we’ve known each other and others have been in my life since the beginning of my own salon in 1993! Yep 1993!!! Can you believe it’s been that many years! How does time slip by so fast?

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Getting the boys ready to travel !

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It’s about time to start getting our kitty’s ready for the big move. They’re going to be quite surprised about the big adventure we have planned for them! Although, as you know, we continue to go back and forth about what the best thing is for them. Will they be better off staying here with a new home, how would they adapt to different people? They are not especially fond of anyone but us, even their fondness for us is questionable at times! On the other hand would it be best for them to suffer through being transferred by plane, (in cargo), to Panama? Is it best for them to be with us in an unfamiliar place ? There is no easy answer to this dilemma ! So my approach for the time being is, I’m going to pursue all options to the best of my ability and just see what happens in the end. I’ll attempt to find a good home for the old guys, which I believe is not likely to happen , and I’ll prepare them to join us in panama which my gut tells me is what is most likely the outcome .

So I’ve invested in travel crates for them. I bought two crates that have little food and water bins attached to the doors. I have places them in our room with the doors open and a plush blanket ready for a good cat nap. I put a little food in the bin and everyday I sprinkle a bit of catnip inside to entice them to enter and enjoy! Muahahaha!! It’s working! They have been wondering into the crates to sniff and to curiously check out what it’s all about.
The second part of our diabolical plan is to slowly desensitize them to kitty harnesses ! Yep! I said, kitty harnesses ! So every night we very gently place the harness on them and just let them hang out with them on. Then before we go to bed we gently remove the harness and place it in front of them to smell and to inspect. So far, so good! In a couple of weeks we will very slowly and ever so carefully we will introduce the leash !!! Yikes! Hard to imagine that we will survive that part , stay tuned ! We’ll let you know how many stitches we need after that step !

I will be arranging for a visit to the vet soon to have all their vaccinations updated and a clean bill of health documented. I’m hoping to get some helpful advise from the vet about the safest, healthiest approach to transporting them . And while I’m there I’ll also see if the vet might know of anyone looking for two 12 year old slightly grumpy cats! Don’t laugh! It could happen ! There’s lots of ‘Crazy’ cat people out there!!๐Ÿ˜ง Yea, I know, sigh , Midnight & Copper will most likely be learning Spanish right along with us! I really never expected that the cats would end up being one of the most difficult aspects of organizing this adventure! But I did fully expect to expect the ‘Unexpected’! So begins our big Adventure!

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Starting Over

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I’ve noticed while following many seasoned bloggers that WordPress often puts out these weekly challenges, either photo challenges or writing challenges. I really enjoy reading them and in the back of my mind I’ve often thought,” Someday maybe I’ll try it!”. Well, why not now? I mean, when I saw what the subject of this weeks writing challenge was, I just knew it was time to dive in! The subject is , are you ready for this?… STARTING OVER! Sheesh! I got this one, here’ goes……

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Progress Report

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This is Scotts workshop, he also has a big tent outside where the big table saw lives because as you can see, this space it teensy!

Progress Report!

Scott is making great progress on all the remaining cabinetry for the kitchen and dining room. All the interior door trim , baseboards, and window trim is installed. He is currently working on the range hood cover. The upper cabinets for the kitchen are being processed, there are 21 doors currently being prepped for assembly. The front door needs to be finished off with moulding and trim. We finished the design of the built-in entertainment center in the great room . That will be the last big piece of interior work for Scott.

On Monday we had a consultation with a stager to get an idea of exactly what that will entail. Next Monday we have set up two more consultations with two other stagers . This should give us a good idea of what to expect in terms of packing up our remaining household. We need to know what furniture a stager will likely bring in and what pieces of ours will need to stay. It would be really good to have a paint consultation as well because my paint choices definitely won’t appeal to the masses! Our goal for listing the house for sale is still pretty on target for March. I’m being told my many different realtors that houses in my neighborhood are selling very fast so our fingers are crossed! Yesterday I was told that a house was listed for sale on Monday and there were ten offers the very same day! Yowsa! We seem to be hitting the real estate market at a great time! Maybe we’ll be “LUCKY”! Lol!

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Lucky? Really? Hmmmm…

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Your So Lucky!

Lately I’ve noticed that this is the reaction we get from complete strangers when we tell them that we are moving to Panama. “Your so Lucky!”. Hmmmm…. Ive been thinking about that. Are we “Lucky”? In my mind ‘Luck’ is something that ‘Happens’ to you, as opposed to actually ‘ ‘Making’ something happen with intention . Winning the lottery would be lucky. Finding a hundred dollar bill on the sidewalk would be lucky! I suppose to a complete stranger who doesn’t know anything about us or how or why our move is taking place, might see it as ‘Luck’. Possibly moving away to another country sounds like something they would dream of doing but would never actually act on . Therefore by virtue of our apparent ability to follow through with our dream , and to make it a reality, they see us as , ‘Lucky’! This may be true.

I know I feel pretty ‘lucky’ to have a partner who wants to live the same kind of life that I find appealing . We’re ‘both’ equally ready to change the way we live our lives and we’re ready to experience a completely different culture. We’re on the same page in terms of our willingness to trade in the life we are accustomed to and letting go of expectations and familiarity . If only one of us liked the idea of making such an extreme lifestyle change , we’d be in big trouble! We are ‘lucky’ to share a very similar desire to take on such an enormous lifestyle change.

Luckily Scott and I are not averse to hard work because there is much hard work to put our plan into action. One of the nice things about our partnership is that we have a nice balance of skill-sets that combine to make a great team. This is truly lucky! I have a vocation that I love which provides the financial support that enables Scott to work full time at completing the construction of our house. If Scott had to work full time in order for us to pay the mortgage he would never be able to prepare our house to sell. We are both working hard at doing what we do best as we work together towards a common desire. In this , we are lucky. We work well together in the strategizing and prioritizing of all the details it takes to move our lives to another country. Our lists are extensive! We have built our lists together and as we check things off the lists we feel a sense of accomplishment that ‘together’ we are working towards a mutually satisfying goal. Is this ‘Lucky’? Maybe.

I suppose if I’m truly honest with myself I do feel ‘lucky’ to have made the decision to begin going down a new path. Having a life partner who is so incredibly well matched with me makes me feel ‘lucky’, indeed! The timing of our plans finally coming to fruition feels pretty ‘lucky’. Everything seems to be falling into place just as it needs to in order for us to feel like our plan is moving along smoothly. It’s been my experience that when things go smoothly it’s ‘Meant to Be!’! If we were hitting walls and running into big snags I would feel quite nervous about trying to make a square peg fit into a round space! No big , insurmountable issues have arisen which to me, is ‘Lucky’! Is it ‘Lucky’? Or is it a result of intentional , strategic, smart planning, along with a combination of good ol’ hard work? Ya! I’m goin’ with that! ๐Ÿ˜œ. Maybe a little bit of good ‘Luck’ too!

Something I Love In My Salon

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This beautiful piece of art is very special to me because it was a gift from one of my dearest friends, Lauretta. (Lauretta is not only a friend but my former sister in law, so my daughters Aunt) It is a collection of old paintings done on tin. They were collected and framed by Lauretta’s mother who is deceased. Her mother collected them when the family lived in Mexico City when Lauretta was a young child. I have always loved it and so Lauretta very generously gifted it to me and long ago it hung in my home . When I designed my salon I realized it would look great there and then it would be appreciated by many people. I learned that the pictures are known as ‘retablos ‘, they were a gift of thanks to the church from parishioners for answered prayers. I’m not a particularly religious person but I love the sentiment of gratefulness they represent. I also love the sentiment of generosity from my loving friend, Lauretta. I will be bringing this with me to someday hang in my home in Boquete and it will make me think of Lauretta every time I look at it.

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Exciting! New! Adventure! REALLY?

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I notice, as you may have as well , that I often refer to our future life abroad with various adjectives such as ‘Exciting’, ‘New’ and let’s not forget,’Adventure’! Let me assure you, I suffer no illusions of grandeur about the realities of everyday life living in a new place. I tend to focus on the positive and some may say, optimistic aspects especially while writing about our new life. Naturally! But, I also realize that after we get through this long stage of planning, preparing and strategizing, ‘actual’ life will begin in earnest. Reality will set in and it will not always be great or exciting , even the ‘new’ will begin to fade. Just like life in general, there’s no good without a bit of bad.

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Tick, Tick, Tick, Time Is Flying By!

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Everyday gets us closer and closer to our goal date for our big move to Panama.( May-June) Scott’s focus has been getting our house ready to sell. My focus , naturally, is much different . My business , mostly the people, is becoming extremely emotional for me. As we’ve entered the new year I really have a sense of the ‘end’ coming quickly. Many of my clients,(friends), have been telling me that they prefer to stay in denial that I’m really leaving. I suppose for now being in denial will work for them because we still have several more appointments set up. But for me, it’s not quite so easy as I am faced with seeing such a large number of people who I know I must say goodby to soon. It’s going to be one of the most difficult aspects of this adventure , saying goodbye! Gulp! As for my two dear colleagues, I am also beginning to feel deep sadness for abandoning them. I must say that both Natalie and Elisabeth offer nothing but the kindest , most genuine support I could ever hope for. They make me feel so cared about and I’m grateful for their desire to take care of my clients and that Natalie will take over the salon when I’m gone.

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Another Year Done, A Fresh New Beginning Ahead!

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It’s nearing New Years Eve and I find myself thinking about the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. It seems so easy to reminisce about all the endings and lasts but it’s much preferable to think about all the good, positive happenings of 2012! 2012 has been filled with many wonderful memories and monumental achievements , accomplishments and milestones. 2012 was a very peaceful year for me. I feel peaceful when those I’m closest to are happy and healthy. 2012 has been a year of learning and experiencing new things. It’s also been a year of life changing decisions for us. It’s been the year we finalized our decision to change everything in our life, including our address, and begin a new chapter in our life.

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Crab Season is Here!

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Christmas Eve is Tomorrow and this year our traditional hosting of our family gathering has been handed over to Scott’s brother and sister in law. We will be enjoying a Christmas Eve brunch instead of dinner. Our contribution is pumpkin pie, blueberry scones and crab cakes, all homemade by Scott. This morning, bright and early,7:30, we took a drive over to Half Moon Bay with Pat to buy some live crab. We always love driving over the hill to the coast. Even in the rain it’s a very beautiful day! I love seeing the waves crashing on the beach . When we got to the harbor we were relieved to see people returning from the fishing boats with bags full of live crab. We weren’t able to get a call through to find out if the fishermen had been out in this weather to bring in their catch for the day, so we weren’t even positive that we would find any crab. Worst case scenario , we figured we’d just enjoy the drive and have a nice breakfast with Pat even if there was no crab to be had. But it was our lucky day! There seemed to be only one boat selling , all the other boats were only providing crab to people who had pre-ordered. So we walked down to the boat and stood in line in the wind and rain behind about four or five other people waiting with coolers ready to be filled up with live crabs! The fisherman on the boat was trying to get his scale working and standing on the pier in the stormy weather it felt like he was taking FOREVER ! By the time we got to the front of the line we were soaking wet! But… Scott’s homemade crab cakes are worth it!! I don’t know if we will have access to crab in Boquete like we do here in California so we are taking every opportunity to indulge in fresh crab this season. I’m sure this will not be our last trip over the hill to visit the crab boats! Here’s some snapshots of our outing!

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Always Learning ๐Ÿ˜, Usually By Trial and Often By Errors!

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Back in June I had the bright idea to start blogging as a way to chronicle our plans and preparations to expatriate ,with the hopes to continue sharing our life as expats after we move. I thought it would be a fun way for our friends and family to keep track of us after we are gone. I also thought it might shine some light on our crazy plans for those who were just shaking their heads and saying,” HUH?”. “WHY?”๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ In the course of researching and reading everything I could find about expatriating I had discovered reading other blogs written by people who had already made the leap into a life that Scott and I longed to experience ourselves someday. Somehow I realized,” Hey, I could do this blogging thing!” I love writing and as an avid reader I knew that good writing comes from having a passion for your subject! I most defenitly had a newfound passion! Although the jury’s still out as to how good the writing is! (sigh!). You gotta give me an ‘A’ for effort though! (Big Smile!)

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It’s A Dilemma!

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Copper and Midnight patiently waiting to be let in the house.

I’ve told you about our cats, Midnight & Copper. They are litter mates. We got them when they were just a few weeks old. One of my clients came into my salon asking if I knew of anyone who might want a kitten. A stray cat had somehow gotten under her house and gave birth to a slew of kittens! That was nearly thirteen years ago. They are beautiful long haired , part Maine Coon cats. I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘cat person’, but apparently somehow I morphed into one! I grew up with dogs and have always loved dogs, but I must admit I love my two cats. They kinda grew on me. I know I can speak for Scott when I say that he too has developed a deep fondness for the little fur balls!

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Enjoying The Beauty and Luxury Of California Before Our Re-Location!

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12/16/12. Scott needed to use a very generous gift card he received as a big thank you from some friends who he did a bathroom remodel for. The gift card was for golf at Poppy Hills golf course on 17 Mile Drive in Monterey. Soooooo given the fact that there is a marvelous spa conveniently located near Poppy Hills golf course, I was happy to tag along with my sweetie! This was a golf game I would enjoy , for sure! We met our friends at the golf course , the boys jumped in their golf cart as me and my girlfriend followed the friendly GPS to “The Spa at Pebble Beach”! We were on a mission to indulge ourselves in much needed, and much deserved opulent luxuriating ! Ahhhhh!ย  We wereย not a surprised,ย to confirm what we both suspected ,” we are ‘naturals’ when it comes to luxuriating !”. Yep! We had no problem soaking up every moment of our delicious spa day! We truly BELONGED there!

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Progress Report …

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Time is marching on and we are getting closer and closer to our goal of starting the next chapter in our life. There is still much to do before we’re able to jump on that plane headed for Panama city to begin our adventure. Our main focus this far has been completing the work on our house so we can get it on the market to sell. This part of our preparation is the biggest and obviously most time consuming part of the diabolical plan. We are still hoping to reach our goal of getting the house ready to sell by February or March at the latest. Scott is making great progress on all the finish work inside the house.

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Our Twilight Twinkle Tour ! Whooo! Hoooo!

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The Twilight Twinkle Tour Gang! Scott, Jason,Caroline,Jesse,Me, Liz,Mariah,Cole

A Memory to last a lifetime ! Yep, zip lining through the redwoods at night with a giant elf and seven of my friends qualifies as a memory to last a lifetime! Screaming, crazy laughing, flying like a rocket man (Cole!) , and hugging trees(Caroline!) are things I will fondly remember! Our Twilight Twinkle Tour was a successful adventure full of much screaming (ME!), lots of laughing(everyone) and a bit of overcoming fears of heights(I won’t mention any names(Caroline)) ! The Santa Cruz mountains was a fabulous backdrop for a holiday gathering and we couldn’t have chosen a better night for such an adventure!

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Holiday Fair At Harley Farm๐ŸŽ„

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For the last few years We have enjoy our yearly trek with Pat over the hill to Pescadero for the Holiday fair at the Goat cheese farm. They have a big barn,( well, several big barns!) and upstairs in the converted hay loft they have a lovely array of hand crafted items to admire and purchase. All the artists are local and the variety of art is always fun to see. There is beautiful sea glass jewelry, knitted items, a women hand weaving the yarn as you admire her wares and many eatable things like lavender honey cheese, lavender sachets, peppermint bark, and jewelry made from antique beads, just to name a few. This year they expanded the fair into a second barn and its more of a small retail set up . They even had PAINT made from goat milk! What? In the original barn they have a lovely cheese shop , Scott bought two cheeses Fromage Blanc and goat cheese ricotta . They have a nice selection of many things made from their goat milk . We always like to watch the goats roam around and butt heads or chew on the fence or just chomp on hay. They are adorable little guys, for sure, although kinda stinky! Ha! Ha! I’d like to try to get back over there in the spring time to see the babies! Read the rest of this entry

This Time Of Year, I Pause…

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I pause to feel grateful . As we enter into this time of year we refer to as , “The Holiday’s”, many people , commercials, advertisements and greeting cards speak of being grateful . So I find myself pondering what ‘ I’m’ grateful for. Everyone seems to have a long, touching list of what they are grateful for in their life. The first, and most obvious thing that comes to my mind is my health and the health of those I love and care about. Then I think of all the happy, fun, loyal, deep connections I’ve had with various people during my lifetime . I’m grateful for the blessing of so many people who have been a part of my life and the experiences and memories I cherish. For me, my life would not be as rewarding without having spent time connecting with so many amazing people. For this, I am grateful ! Anyone who knows me knows how deeply grateful I am that my daughter made it out of her adolescent turmoil! That dark time will forever be a memory of not only deep agony but great growth! And it always gives me perspective on what is important to me. Seeing her on her own path, and observing the strength of her fierce independence and capacity for self dependence is a source of unending gratefulness. My partnership with Scott is a never ending source of gratefulness throughout the year, not only during the holidays. I am deeply, intensely grateful for what our relationship is to both of us! I’m grateful for the way we live our lives ‘together’ and the mutual respect and admiration , loyalty and compromise with which our connection thrives upon.

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The Gift Of A Memory To Last A Lifetime

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Can you think of a more special gift than the gift of FUN!!! I certainly can’t ! Which is why I’m taking a group of special people zip lining through the forest in the Santa Cruz mountains! Yep! Not ‘Only Zip Lining’, but Zip Lining At NIGHT!! WhoooooHooooo! It’s called a ” Twilight Twinkle Tour!”. They only do this during the month of December, they decorate the forest with twinkling Christmas lights and the guides are dressed as elves,( or are they actually elves?, Hmmmm?). This glorious event is Sunday night, December 9th and I’ll let you know if it turns out as fun and glorious as I expect it to be! I know I’ll be enjoying an adventure with my friends and creating a memory that will last a lifetime.

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Christmas in Boquete, Panama

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I found some pictures online of Christmas in Boquete , Panama! I was glad to see what appears to be a Christmas tree farm! But who knows if it’s still there, things change. I’ll bring my fake tree( to Scott’s horror!) just in case a real tree isn’t easy to find !

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Oh Christmas Tree’

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Tadaaa!

20121202-182035.jpgToday was a great day to decorate a Christmas tree! Luckily I happened to have one sitting in my living room! WHAT??? And to top it all off, Mariah just happened to show up just when the decorations were ready to go! Lucky girl!! It was a truly good day!

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Sorting, Packing and Clearing!

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This is our storage space,

(Ok, let’s try this again, I inadvertently published this last night before it was completed! I know… A rookie mistake! )
Sort through the attic , check! Sort through the basement, check! Sort through all the stashed stuff in all the closets, check! Now there are piles! Piles in two bedrooms, piles on the pool table,and piles on the dining room table! Yikes! Turns out, sorting is painful, OUCH! In the course of a lifetime we accumulate, and accumulate until every nook and cranny is bursting with stuff!

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Commence Tree Chopping!

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Our tradition has always been to drive up into the mountains and chop down our Christmas tree on the Sunday after Thanksgiving . This year it seemed a bit premature because it’s not even December yet! But , oh well! Up to the mountains we went!

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Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Day!

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Natalie and Pat and Mariah joined us

It was a beautiful warm sunny thanksgiving day and as usual Scott and I spent most of the day happily preparing a delicious meal to share. This year my house was just too cluttered with boxes, tools, and just a general explosion of messiness to invite many people over so we kept it simple.

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