Tag Archives: friends

The Recipe For A Good Time In Panama…

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I bet you’ve been wondering what it takes to have fun here in Panama. Well, luckily I’ve got just the recipe! You start with the completion of a brand new Techo, or Roof for my non-Spanish speaking readers. Then after the sparkly new Techo is completed the required fun must commence with a few key ingredients. The first and most important ingredient for a fun time at this traditional celebration is the food. And , specifically the main dish which is called Mondongo. Basically, this is Tripe, or at least similar to it, let me be more specific….Cow intestines. I know….many of you may be saying..”Yuck!” I’ll stick to Non-Cow intestines please! And I would not disagree, but the traditional celebration of a newly completed Techo is aptly named a Mondongata because these fun-loving folks here love it! It’s Party Food! Shrug, I’m pretty sure we very likely have a taste for many things they think is crazy as well, so, let’s just roll with it, k? Read the rest of this entry

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We’re all in this together…

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I wrote about this on my Facebook timeline today (yesterday) but I know many of you don’t do Facebook so I thought I’d share it here. This morning (yesterday morning) , bright and early I had to take Martin, one of our indigenous workers, to the Seguro office to sign some paperwork for his Social security. And, on a side note before I get to the story I was planning to tell you, this young man is 20 years old and has a very young wife who is expecting their first baby, so getting on social security for the first time in his life could not come at a better time for he and his new family. Martin moved to Boquete, like many of the indigenous, in order to find work to support him an his new bride and growing family. Before he began working for us we had seen him around the neighborhood doing other menial labor for other neighbors. He had walked up to our job site on one other occasion to ask if we had work for him but at that time we didn’t. Then about a month or so ago he came by again ,(very persistent, gotta respect that!), to see if we had work for him and this time Scott hired him. Read the rest of this entry

A followup on our Thanksgiving…

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I wanted to share some of my photos of our wonderful day yesterday. It was a belated Thanksgiving and a fantastic day with such great friends! But one of the funnest parts to our day was getting acquainted with little Maggie Mae, Raquel’s 6 week old howler monkey. Raquel is an animal rescue professional and her home in Volcan is home to a lot of wonderful wild animals that are native to Panamá. She gets contacted by different people who know about her and if there is an animal in need she’s usually the person to call. She has such a big heart and a passion for animals of all kinds. We felt honored to have her join us and when she called to let us know she had just a couple of days ago been given a baby howler monkey and could not leave it home alone we were all thrilled to include such a sweet baby in our gathering. So, along with Maggie Mae we had a day of great food, fun games, drinks, great conversation! We all agreed that we are each one of us grateful for this wonderful place we all now call ‘HOME”! Here are a few of my photos…

Cheers For Bananas!

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The neighbor kids came over today. They seem to visit more and more lately. It used to be only the three girls would come up but now even the little boys come knocking on the door on occasion. I’m getting used to these kids and not feeling quite so sad about how they live. They’re just such happy kids. They’re as dirty as heck, but what kid cares about that! This morning the youngest girl,( Nicole, she’s about 7), along with her two little brothers (I haven’t quite gotten their names down yet), about 5 and I’m guessing the little one is about 4ish, came up. They brought their little puppy along and their kitten. They seem to really love dragging those little guys everywhere with them. When I answer the door they’re all smiles , “Holly, Tienes manzanas?” They love apples. Apples are pretty expensive here and I’m sure they never get them. So every once in awhile when I’m at the market I’ll buy a few extra apples and give them to the kids, its amazing how much they love them. Which brings me to what inspired me to write this short post. Today I didn’t have any apples , only bananas from Luana’s house. So I said, ‘lo siento, no hay manzanas, pero,tengo bananas”…thinking they would be disappointed, they have banana trees all over the place here. But, to my surprise they were delighted! “Bananas!” they all cheered in unison! Big smiles all around….can you believe that! Kids who felt joyful over someone giving them bananas! Of course they then wanted to know if I also had cookies, and then wanted more bananas…. (eye roll!) kids, they all wanna see just how much they can get! Hah! I’m getting really good at telling them “Estoy muy ocupado, tienes que ir a casa ahora”. ( I’m very busy, you need to go home now). And off they go laughing and playing all the way down the hill. They actually came up to charge their mothers cell phone, it wasn’t just a random mission for manzanas. And I must say, they kinda made my day. I don’t quite get everything they say, but you can’t mistake gratitude on the faces of little kids. They seem to be just having a great day running around filthy dirty and barefoot, with puppies and kittens in tow munchin’ on bananas and not one bit sad that the nice Gringa vecina didn’t have any cookies. Just another day in the barrio…

Wow! So Much Has Been Going On, Where Do I Begin…

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I’ll begin with my continuation of Spanish classes, which I started about three weeks ago. Scott and I had taken twenty weeks of Spanish classes when we first arrived, which left our brains spinning! We learned so much an then decided it was time to spend a little time in the real world attempting to use what we had learned. I made a few Panamanian friends who I began practicing with on a regular basis. We were getting together three days a week and just chatting . This type of practice was my most favorite because It wasn’t just learning Spanish, it was also making friends. Read the rest of this entry

We love a party…I may have mentioned this before…

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Scott and I really do love hosting casual gatherings and last night (Well, Sunday night) was the second gathering in our ‘partly’ built casita. We wanted to have a small “Happy Hour” and just have a couple friends who wanted to see the progress and celebrate our new home with us. When we hatched this plan we had two couples in mind but somehow before we knew it, more and more couples came to mind. Suddenly that ‘small Happy Hour” became a party of 15… “Whowsa!” She say’s with a huge smile on her happy face!

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We all have such different views, all spectacular in different ways…

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Spending time here in the city with Emma and experiencing a little bit of how her life plays out in Panama City, has been a lot of fun and pretty interesting. She’s lived in Panama City for about 3 years. What brought her here from Arizona was a job as a music teacher at an international school. As much as I’m enjoying the tranquility of life in the highlands of Panama in a small town, I must say, Living in the city is much more conducive to being an active, ambitious 20 something career women with a social life. She lives in a beautiful high rise apartment on the 16th floor (27 floors in the building), that has a spectacular view of the skyline of the city. I’m struck by just how safe it feels living in an apartment like this with a very secure parking garage and a security guard in the lobby. Of course, that’s the “mom” in me thinking about safety, hah! Read the rest of this entry

I’m Off To Pedasi This Morning And When I Return To Boquete It Will Be With Mariah!!!! Yipeeeeee….

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This morning My friend Kris & I are taking the bus from David to Santiago and switching buses to get our selves to Las Tablas and our friend Karen will pick us up there and drive us to her home in Pedasi. She lives in a small town on the coast, going towards Panama City. Both Karen and Kris are fellow bloggers who I’ve met through writing my blog, well, I haven’t actually ‘met’ Karen yet, we’ve been corresponding through our blogs for a couple of years now. So I’m really excited to be finally getting a chance to spend some time getting to know her in real life. Kris & I will spend two nights in Pedasi and hopefully get some beach time in while we’re there. Then we get back on the bus on Thursday and make the remainder of the journey to Panama City to meet up with another blogging friend Emma, who teaches music at an international school in the city. She invited us to attend a production that her students are performing in on Friday night. Emma has arranged for a driver to entertain us on Friday while she’s at work and he will show us some of the touristy spots that we haven’t seen and then get us to the school in time for the show. Kris will head back to David on Saturday and then Emma & I will go to the airport on Sunday morning to pick up my Daughter, Mariah!!! If it werent exciting enough to have my baby here in Panama with me, It’s also U.S. Mother’s Day and Emma arranged for a Champagn Brunch at a nice restaurant that she knows, in an area of the city called Casco Viejo. You can imagine how excited I am for this next couple of days. I’ve been fluttering around my house for the last two days just getting ready for her visit and making everything just right. We will take the bus back here to Boquete on Monday oh how nice it will be to have her here with me and to show her around our new home. I hope she likes it as much as I do….

I’m learning to be a ‘Bug Killing’ kinda gal… BUT…(Caroline…don’t Read this!)

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(A side note)
My friend Caroline Chavez has told me that if I keep posting blogs about bugs and critters here, she will never come visit me….So…Caroline, sweetie, this particular post is not one for you, it’s not interesting at all, as a matter of fact , its quite boring…move along my dear… go on…don’t’ you need to make dinner now, or at least have a glass of wine?

Holy crap! The spiders here must be on steroids! Geesh! Why the heck are they so Ginormous??? And the strangest thing is, just lately they seem to be coming up the gosh darn drain in my shower! !@#$ I can’t figure out any other way that they end up crawling around in there. (I have to veer here to tell you about an odd thing that I found when we first moved into this rental house. There are two bathrooms and each of them has a shower. I noticed that inside each shower, placed over the drain in the shower, was a small piece of that green astro-turf type material. The material was cut to generously cover the drain and I wondered why it was there….now I know!) The first two that I spied scurrying around in the shower Scott very kindly and sweetly caught and took outside (anything to shut me up!) . Then another one appeared another day, just as he was leaving for work…. “Gotta Go! Ha!Ha! Have fun with that!” Says my “Sweet”? Husband as I screeeched from the bathroom! How was I going to take a shower? And….How the heck will I ever survive here… living in the tropics, where critters are abundant (and on steroids)? Read the rest of this entry

Familiarity..

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I grew up in a small town in Northern California, called Morgan Hill. I have such fond memories of growing up in a place where I recognized most of the cars that drove by and neighbors felt like family. Then I spent the largest part of my adult life living and working in a small town called Los Altos. One of the things I just love about small town living is the Familiarity of walking around town and seeing faces that you know. I’ve been living here in Boquete for nearly 10 months now and It just occurred to me the other day when we were driving through town that I’m beginning to recognized faces that I see around town. We slowed down to let a young women cross the street and I said, oh, that’s one of the tellers from Romero’s. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to experience that familiar feeling of recognizing faces from different places in town. I just love it when I run into someone while running errands or walking into a restaurant or driving to the bank. It’s one of the things I loved most about living and working in Los Altos. I loved being at the grocery store and running into people I knew or walking to work and having people honk and wave hello as they drove by. Some people prefer the anonymity of larger cities where they can walk around and not see one familiar face, but not this gal. There’s nothing I like more than seeing a familiar face and I’m finding as time is passing that this is happening more and more for me.

I just can’t believe it’s been nearly a year that we’ve been living in this wonderful town. Boquete is a bit different than any other small town I’ve lived in, for many reasons but mostly because it’s a place where people visit for vacation. It’s interesting to see so many backpackers and tourists with cameras taking photos of the scenery as they drive around or walk around town. Countless times I have found myself stuck behind a car that’s driving so painfully slow and then I see the camera taking a picture out the window and I smile. When I look around at the tourists visiting this gorgeous mountain town in the highlands of Panama I often say to myself, ” I LIVE here!” I still feel so fortunate every single day when I wake to the sound of the birds chirping and the wind blowing through the banana trees in my yard. And as time is flying by I’m finding myself feeling little by little like this is actually ‘home’, and not a vacation.

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Yesterday, (Monday), could be called a “Bad” day…But honestly, It was pretty “Good” in many ways…

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The really ‘bad’ thing about yesterday was that I was trying to deal with a very sick little cat. As you know we brought our two cats with us from the states when we relocated to Boquete. They are litter-mates and they’re 14 years old. I know, not young guys. The transition has gone fairly smoothly for them. The worst part of the whole move for them was the actual day of the move, it was a very long and grueling day. But now we’ve been settled and they seem like their old selves, lounging about all day and running around at night doing who knows what. Taking the occasional break to jump on our bed and make sure we are awake and ready to pet them. They’ve always been very cuddly guys in the evenings when we sit down to watch a little tv. We almost always each have a cat sprawled across our laps. Many nights I’m the Cat lady, and both cats are somehow smothering me in my chair. One on the back of the chair and one on my lap. Yes, so far the cats have been just as happy as can be. But being 14 years old we expected them to start having some sort of health problems sooner than later. It turns out Midnight is the one who has started to show his age. Poor guy. He’s really sick.

I won’t go into all the symptoms, I’ll just say I suspected that his Kidneys or liver have begun to shut down. So I decided it was time to get him to a vet. Oh, boy! Where to start on my quest to find a vet? Well, I decided to ask my friend who has two dogs and a cat. Until recently they also had two cats but lost one to a very similar fate as I am currently dealing with. I’ve read various things on blogs and forums about different vets here, some good, some not so good. My friend sent me a list of all the vets , with phone numbers, locations, what language they speak and she suggested one that she likes best. Of course on the paper she forwarded to me it says..”.Right now, he’s the best of the worst vets around……ask q’s. He’s very personable and believable, just always be skeptical”…(this is a good place for an Eye Roll!) This particular vet is in David, about a 35-40 minute drive , so I loaded my poor little kitty into his crate and headed down the hill with my Google map printed out, ready to attempt to find the vet. Of course before leaving I tried the 3 phone numbers I had on the sheet my friend emailed me, but alas! none of them were right! Ugggg! After asking my friend if she might have a different number, she told me she didn’t think I would need an appointment . So off I went.

I’ve told you before about my dread of driving in strange places. I really hate it. My friend had offered to come with me but Damn it! I hate being a wimp and I really need to learn how to drive in that darn city and stop feeling so nervous about it. The best way to do that is to just do it, right! So I set off, map in hand and I , of course, did not have an easy time. Because, of course, there are no GD street signs here! I know, Get over it! Okay….So I pulled over and opened up a great app, WAZE! It really helped me navigate my way and after taking many deep breaths and trying not to be a big baby and cry….low and behold I see the sign!! WHoooHooo!! I did it! I surprised myself and felt so good! There was one other car in front of the office and I saw a lady exiting the building….I also saw a “CERRADO” sign in the window! ARGGGG! Nooooo! They can not be closed! Holy crap! I got out of the car and the lady, a very friendly gringo lady, said, “They’re closed because of Carnival!” Ohhhhh! (Trying really really hard not to let the tears start!) This lady , Edna was her name. Was so kind. She had a big black lab in her back seat and she told me there was another good vet in town and started to tell me where it was. I can only imagine how pathetic I must have looked, being a very caring and obviously intuitive woman, she stopped, mid-direction, and said,”Oh, follow me, I’ll guide you there.” Deep sigh! “Oh, really? Oh my gosh! Thank you soooo much!” And off we went weaving in and out of streets and through David to the other vet. And Dontcha know….”Cerrado!” Yep! Closed! Okayyyyy! This was obviously not meant to be, but I have to say, I’m so glad to have gotten to meet Edna! What a sweet lady. We chatted a little while standing outside the second closed vet and when I introduced myself to her she told me she has 6 dogs and she has one named Holly. Hah! It’s times like that when I’m struck by just how many truly kind and generous people there are in the world. To have a complete stranger make me feel as though she cared about my situation and take time to help me, just warms my heart to no end. I am sad to say, I neglected to get her email address or phone number, I hope I run into her again someday. She even took the time to lead me back to the highway so I could easily make my way back up to Boquete. We said our goodbyes and I continued to follow her until making it to the highway and then waved a goodbye as I drove off on my way.

So Two strikes! My friend had also mentioned a vet in Boquete who is not actually a full-fledged Vet, but a Vet Tech. I was feeling pretty desperate and decided I would just drive by here office and see if she were open. I really needed to have someone take a look at my poor little lethargic cat who had not made one little peep the entire time in the car. Mind you, Midnight would normally be meowing and howling like he were dyeing. I found the office, no problem,and she was open! Not only was she open but there were two other people waiting outside for her. I spoke with these people, who all just raved about how much they liked this vet (or vet tech). Again, I had just run in to more nice people who I got to chat with. One man with a very strong southern accent was with a young woman with a tiny white dog. And another couple a gringo man and a Panamanian women had brought their neighbors dog in because he had a broken leg. Apparently the neighbor was handicapped and couldn’t get the dog to the vet. All these people were obviously very much “Animal” people and were very concerned about caring for the animal they had brought to see this vet tech. You can see where I’m going with this post….meeting all these nice, caring , generous people made a day that I may have otherwise labeled as pretty “Bad” and turned it into a “Good” day.

The Panamanian lady with the Neighbors dog even stayed to help me communicate my cats symptoms to the vet before she left. Staying for a really long time with me to make sure I was okay. I must say, the vet tech was extremely caring and knowledgable and I felt as though Midnight were in good hands. I don’t know why I didn’t go to her right away, I guess the fact that she isn’t really a full-fledged vet, made me nervous. She told me that because he is such an old cat the prognosis was not good, which I knew. She said he was anemic and very dehydrated and she hooked him up to an IV and began to give him fluids. She recommended a prescription cat food and a supplement that she said would be good to give him. All of which she said I could buy from the pet store in town. I spent two hours in her office and she gave him an IV of fluids and it only cost me$20.00! Yea! Panama! I was not wrong about my suspicion about his organs shutting down. He is on a downward spiral and , sadly it’s just a matter of time. Sigh. I’ve never had a pet for 14 years and seeing an animal decline is heart wrenching.

So, to say I had a day mixed with both good and bad moments would be an understatement. To feel the kindness of strangers is a gift. I feel so grateful to have been the recipient of so much generosity. Also I feel so grateful to my pet loving friend who has been incredibly encouraging and just today gave me really good advice about how to know when it’s “Time”. She says when you see that your pet can no longer do the things he loves to do, thats a good indication that it may be time to step in and do the most humane thing possible. Whew, sometimes its great to just talk to someone who’s been there. All in all, yesterday, while I had a few challenges, I really had some great interactions with several caring people, and It just makes me smile to think about it.

A Couple Day’s At The Beach…

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Since moving to Boquete we’ve had the opportunity to take several little trips to different areas in Panama and Costa Rica. We always love seeing new places and experiencing different areas. But, I have to tell you, every single time we’re away from our new home , we’re delighted when it’s time to go home again. It’s funny how happy we are to go ‘home’! So this past two days we spent hanging out on the beach with some great new friends that we met through my blog. Dan & Janet were out visiting back in August and we all got together and went on a coffee tour and had a great time. We’ve kept in touch with them as they’ve been preparing to make their move out here to Panama. They decided to plan one more vacation out here before they make their actual move which will be early next year. But this time they invited their good friends along, Sheldon & Laurie and their two kids Amanda & Branden. They rented a house on the beach in Boca Chica and we rented a small casita nearby. For my readers who don’t live here, Boca Chica is a small beach community about 2 hours drive from Boquete. We had done a bit of driving around that area in the past but had never really spent much time there so we were happy to have the opportunity to spend more time there.

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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!

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

It’s Nice…

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It’s nice when… Scott and I have something to do that we are both excited about and are rushing to get out of the house.
It’s nice when… the morning is beautifully sunny and warm and we have a fun day away from the house planned.
It’s nice when…we decide to take some snacks and our folding chairs because we know we will be someplace where we will want to linger and sit and enjoy the moment.
It’s nice when…we run back into the house a few times because we forgot important little things like sunscreen and bug spray.
SCREEEEEECH! Hold on….. It’s not nice when….We get back from our “nice” little excursion only to realize we don’t have the keys to the pad lock that locks up our house! Yes, that’s what happened yesterday. We got locked out of our house, Grrrrrrr! Don’t ya hate it when something like that happens? And Scott’s completely throwin’ me under the bus just cuz we were driving my car and I (for some dumb reason) didn’t have the key to the lock on my keychain. Why not? I don’t know, there were just too many keys on my keychain, I guess. Had we taken his truck on our little excursion all would have been well, but we took my car instead. So we walked around the house looking for a way to breach the security that keeps us feeling oh so safe when we’re locked “inside”. Here in Panama most houses have bars on the windows as a way to send a signal to anyone who might think your and easy target that nope, this house isn’t easy to get into so move onto the next one. Not like it’s especially ‘dangerous” here or anything like that, it’s just that here, crimes of “Opportunity” are pretty common. So if there’s an easy opportunity to get into a house where they can clearly see there’s a laptop sitting right there or a flat screen TV that they can just carry out, they will take advantage of the fact that you have left your belongings vulnerable and go on in and help themselves. I’m not saying violent crimes don’t occur because that type of thing happens everywhere, but in general, the petty non violent crime is much more common here. So at first, bars on the windows was something that seemed strange to me but now we don’t even notice the bars except when we suddenly find ourselves attempting to break into our house because “someone’ didn’t have the key!! Ugggg! You know what? Our house isnt easy to break into. Good to know.

I’v written about making new friends and connections here in our new home. Before we moved I thought a lot about how nice it was to live in a place where we had such a good community of friends and family who we knew we could always count on if we had any kind of emergency or needed help. I had thought about how alone it was going to feel at first when we got here and didn’t know many people. Ya, that “sooo alone” feeling I thought we would feel here? Not having anyone we could call in an emergency? Well….we’ve only been living here in Boquete for five months and when my mind started thinking about calling for help I had a pretty good list of people I knew we could call. Sooooo, It’s nice when…you are locked out of your house and your house is so burglar-proof that you can’t break in!
It’s nice when…you can think of a long list of friends who would gladly give you a hand,(after laughing their heads off at your stupidity of course!)
It’s nice when…your friends have great big bolt cutters and your man knows how to use em’.
It’s nice when…you realize that you were wrong in thinking you would feel like you were all alone in a new country! Cuz, yesterday, I had a lightbulb moment as I was walking around our house with Scott desperately looking for a way to get into our house , I realized, we already have such a great community of people around us. I’m glad I didn’t have my key to the lock on my keychain, because when I called my friend to ask if her husband might have a bolt cutter, ( after I had to hold the phone away from my ear while she had a good long laugh, at my expense! Hah! Eye roll! ) and she told us to come on over, I couldn’t help but think…How Nice! Life is good and our Adventure is an adventure everyday!

And one more thing..no, not all the houses here have a pad lock on the front door! When we first went to look at this house to rent it, I just loved the house so much and only really focused on the high ceilings and the big windows, the great kitchen and of course the outside living space. When we showed up with all our belongings and cats in tow and the property manager handed us the key to the pad lock I was at first a bit confused, “that’s the lock?” But by then, what was I gonna do, ask her to change the front door? Ha!Ha! The front door is some kind of antique thing that although its really pretty, its just not a normal front door so it has to be locked with a pad lock, oh well. Sometimes on this adventure you just gotta shake your head and adapt to what’s in front of you, it may sometimes be different than what your used to but with a bit of ‘Tranquillo” life goes on!

Dinner With My “Girls”…

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I know, what your thinking, She has a lot of “girls!”( also, you may be wondering how many dinners a girl can endure! Lots!) And you are kinda right about that. But I must say these two “girls” are the two who I get together with on a regular basis . We bond over dinner about once every five to eight weeks , sometimes longer depending on what craziness is going on in our lives. I don’t remember how long we’ve been doing this , long enough that I’m very attached to our regular gatherings. We three are very different women with vastly different lifestyles and careers but one of the many common connections I would say we share ,is our mutual desire to have women of substance in our lives. These gatherings are our regular opportunity to connect with each other and to enjoy the blessing of the power of girlfriends.

We three, bosom friends, have often solved all the worlds problems (well, most of them anyways!) during our dinners, with much laughter, psycho -analysis, opinionated banter, constructive criticism and plain ol’ female intuition. We each have faced a world of difficulties in our own personal lives , many times I walk away from a dinner with my “girls” feeling abundantly supported, validated, sometimes redirected by my wise friends when they have often helped me to see something more clearly or more optimistically even at times, a bit more realistically. Wendy and Janell and our regular girl-time -gatherings have truly been a source of balance and often sanity in my life. Everyone should be so lucky to have nurtured connections such as the one we three enjoy. I find it ever so important to have bosom-friends who “GET” you! Friends who you know will always be on your side and who will also kick your but when you need it.

I remember a time long ago when I was on a quest to ‘really’ define or discover who the ‘genuine’ Holly was. It was a pivotal period of my life when I just wanted to grow and to be myself without trying to please everyone and to stop letting everyone around me define who I was. As I began to look around me and really take in the people I was the closest too, the people I admired the most, and the people I tended to attract, I had an epiphany….. If I had so many amazing admirable people in my life, to a degree, they must be a reflection of the kind of person I am. I think it’s a truth that we attract “Like” people (most of the time) . It was an AH, Ha! moment for me. From that time on I’ve had a renewed and deepened appreciation for the beautiful women in my life. Each one has a special light that attracts me to them . All this to say, spending time with Wendy & Janell feeds my soul and I thank my lucky stars for them! Girls Rock! (boys’ arent bad either, but hey, we’r talkin’ about the girls now! )

Another Fabulous Dinner With Some Special Friends…

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I told Scott that before we leave I really wanted to have one more dinner at my favorite steakhouse, Sundance. I just love the food, it’s a good old fashioned steakhouse, but truth be told, the Mud Pie is to die for!! We don’t get to go there too often but I’ve had it in my head that we would get one more visit in before our departure on May 28. When My friend Cathy said she and her husband Jim and their son Alec, wanted to find a time to get together with us before we go, I had a lightbulb moment! “How about Sundance Steakhouse?” They agreed and I booked a reservation for Saturday at 7:30. Then Cathy’s sister ( also my dear friend) Sandy and her husband Rob , wanted to join us so a party had evolved before I knew it.
Scott and I have always enjoyed spending time with these friends and this dinner was no exception. Who can go wrong with delicious steaks, Amazing wines, and great conversation with a group of good people. Jim & Cath brought two bottles of exceptional wines to share with us . And Alec,( who may someday become a consummate Sommmelier) chose an Amazing Cab from the menu, what 16 year old do you know who can do that? It’s amazing to be around a young man who has such a passion for food and wine, I think he’s destined for big things someday, I can’t wait to see what path he chooses.

The fun part , besides the meat and wine, was reminiscing with our friends about when we first met and our friendship began . It all started with Sandy who is an Optometrist , she owned an office just down the street from my salon , I walked into her office one day ( over 10 years ago) and introduced myself. It was a beautiful new office in town and I just like to welcome people to town and get acquainted with new people. Not long after we met, She began coming to me for her hair , I got my eyes cared for by her and we just hit it off right away, a kindred spirit for sure! I’ve always admired Sandy’s ambitious , adventurous spirit She’s a person I just love to be around. I love the way she thinks and I always know that if I want smart, honest , often witty advise or opinion , Sandy can always be counted on. Not too long after we became friends Sandy’s sister Cathy and her family decided they wanted to relocate from Pennsylvania to Sunny California. Of course they needed haircuts (Who Doesn’t?) and I hit it off with them right away, no surprise ,another friendship was formed. One of the focuses of Me and Scott’s friendship with Jim and Cathy has always been our mutual admiration of FOOD! Good food! Gourmet food! Scott and Jim are the cooks in this group! Me and Cathy are the lucky ones, right? We’ve spent many evenings with these folks enjoying not only eating together but also getting great pleasure in the whole process of preparing elaborate menus ,(Scott & Jim enjoy this part) then gathering at one another’s homes to let those guys do their magic ! Cath and I get great pleasure in preparing the cocktails (Most important!) and perching ourselves at the counter where we chat and supervise as the magic unfolds before us. Those two men can cook! And they share a passion for cooking with top notch ingredients and preparing food that wayyyyyy surpasses any 5 star restaurant I have ever been to ( not like I’ve been to a lot , but you get it?)

I’m so glad that Sandy and Cathy and Jim fell in love with California and decided to move here. In past blog posts that I’ve written about people I come into contact with who inspire me to have the experience of starting over in a new place and getting out of our box, these three are on that list . Even though they didn’t move to a whole different country to start over, it was still a huge, brave, adventurous decision to begin again on the West coast. They sold everything and left all they knew to have a completely new life. And it’s paid off. Life is good for them here and I don’t think they have ever looked back . They ‘get’ our craving for a fresh new start and an adventure more than most. Hopefully that ‘adventurous spirit’ they had when they moved to California is still alive and well , because we’re expecting to have them over for a group cooking and drinking night in our new home in Boquete someday! And I hope it will be someday sooner than later!! I’m sure as soon as they are ready to come out Jim and Scott will start the emailing back and forth to strategize about the menu they will be preparing in Panama! And Alec, will stash some good wine in his suitcase, right buddy? LOL! The moral of this post is… Sandy,Rob,Cathy,Jim and Alec are good people who Scott and I have shared many good times with and look forward to more good times in the future. Cheers! Here’s to Cookin’ good food and drinkin’ great wine with GOOD PEOPLE!

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A Fun Evening With Some of my Favorite Women…

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When Kathy decided to organize a night out to celebrate my move I knew it would be a good time, but boy , oh , boy, to say it was a ‘good’ time is an understatement ! I haven’t laughed that hard in a really long time! She made a reservation at an italian restaurant in downtown Mountain View that she said is her ‘new favorite restaurant’. I wish I could describe the hilarity of this evening but words could never do it justice! It was one of those evenings that you just had to be there to appreciate . But, if you insist, I’ll attempt to draw you a picture with my words… Six of us sat at a round table in the middle of a small ,crowded Italian restaurant ready to share a meal, a glass of wine and some good conversation , sounds like a nice send off for me right? Well, It quickly turned into an even better send off when one of the men who runs the restaurant came to our table and began to belt out , in a very loud operatic voice, I Left My Heart In San Francisco! YEP! Well, we all had to join in , as did the rest of the entire restaurant patrons! Who could just sit and listen to such a thing, it was a spontaneous chorus mixed in with a lot of laughing and Mariah looking as though she wanted to climb under the table ! Kathy had requested that he sing that particular song especially for little ol’ me! AWwww! Soooo sweet and soooooo like Kathy! After that it just kept getting better and better, lots of good italian food , a fantastic Chianti, then a fabulous desert to top it all off! Then as we were all sitting around enjoying the ambiance and the company and talking to our hearts content, we noticed a teeny tiny little old lady with a kerchief tied onto her head walking around the restaurant like she was the princess, just stopping at each table and spending time chatting with such passion. We wondered who she was. And leave it to Kathy to say to her from across the room when she looked our way,”Who Are YOU?” Well, she responds, “I’m MOM!” Well, we thought we had already had all the laughing and fun for the evening but Mom sat down at our table and began to give each and every one of us a one on one lecture on why it’s important to love the father of our children even if we are divorced from them (which not all of us are divorced from the father of our children,only, 3 out of 5 of us are ,but who’s counting?) . She was so funny and sooooooo talkative and she had us all laughing as she went around asking each of us how many children we have and how old they all are and on and on and on! Between the five of us I think there are 17 children of various ages and stages of life! “Mom” was extremely impressed that we all look so young! As she should, cuz’ we are all very young!! lol! That adorable tiny old lady was more fun and has such a gigantic personality I think we all enjoyed her zest for life and her ability to connect to us and to make us all laugh and just revel in her presence. I think all my dear friends would agree that we can’t have too many “Moms” no matter what age we are! As the laughter died down and we all looked around the restaurant we were the last people there, it was after 10:00! Time to go home ! Darn! I had such a great evening with four really amazing women who have been a part of my life for many years and who I love and admire more than they could ever realize. Kathy, Lisa, Angela And Tara you are four women who I admire, respect and Love!Try to guess who Mom is!!

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A Great Evening at Teske’s!

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Last night we had a great evening with some really good friends at Scott’s favorite bar/restaurant, Teske’s of Germania In downtown San Jose. It’s a place he and his friend Jason have a long history and many good memories of drinking excessive Liters of good German beer and B.S.ing with the owner and the bartenders who happened to also be the grown kids of the owner. Jason and Scott & the rest of the gang are definitely longtime regulars who get a big friendly greeting when they sit down at the bar and order their liters. They serve the best Goulash and (i cant spell, sorry Chris!) Spetzle. But , I think the big draw for Scott and Jason and Theo,(yes, you too Holly!) is the BEER!! They apparently serve a large variety of good German beer on Tap that you don’t find at just, ‘any’ bar. Given the fact that Jason is a professional brewer and lives, breathes, eats, sleeps BEER, its a requirement for this group to patronize establishments where quality beer is served and it’s a huge bonus when said ‘quality’ beer is served by the ‘Liter’! Yep, they are serious about their beer consumption, for sure! Although Scott and Jason can’t quite consume the same ‘large quantities’ of beer like they did when they were younger! These day’s there seems to be a bit more self control and dare I say moderation? Yep, the days of sittin’ at that bar for hours on end and consuming innumerable quantities of alcohol without a care in the world, are gone. We’ve heard stories of the two of them just wasting away the day or night (they would never call it wasted time, NOOO) drinking to their hearts content. Darn it! Now they have grown into responsible guys who have wives that are in charge! 🙂 HA!HA!HA! ( But, really, we are the bosses, right Caroline?) Scott will surely miss his buddy Jason and I know the feeling is mutual. Those two guys ( Scott & Jason) go back a long , long time and I know for a fact that they both have an incredible amount of admiration, respect, and love for one another. They would never say those words out loud but some things don’t need words, that’s the type of friendship they share. I’m absolutely positive that last night will not be the LAST visit to Teske’s! It may be awhile, but surely those two guys have more evenings in the future of sitting at that bar and sharing a liter together! Cheers!

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Two Women I Admire!

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I’ve lived in my house since my daughter, Mariah was just about two years old. Very soon after I moved into the neighborhood I became a single mom. I soon discovered that I had an incredible single women living right next door. Janet and I quickly formed a mutual admiration of one another that has only grown as the years have passed by. She may not realize it but she has made a very big impact on me in many ways. She was also a single mother and raised two incredible children who are both healthy, productive, successful adults. At the time that I moved into my home both her kids were practically all grown up, I think her youngest may have been at the tail end of high school, and her son was already off in college. She has seen my life change through the years and it’s always been such a comfort just knowing she was right next door.

Way back when Mariah was in elementary school Janet used to be a Teachers Aide at the school. The teacher that she worked with, Tara, was a very dear friend of Janet’s who also had two young kids,(also another single mom). Tara and I used to spend a lot of time hanging out and visiting at Janet’s house with kids in tow so naturally we also formed a close friendship. Mariah and Tara’s kids would play in Janet’s pool or run around the house laughing and conducting plays and dances or making up various games that kept them all busy . Meanwhile the three of us would sit together sipping on wine and endlessly chatting and laughing while we supervised all the shenanigans. Those evenings are precious memories for me. I just loved spending time with those two women who both have become so important to me. In my eyes they have always been strong, independent, wise and generous women who I have admired more with each passing year.

I’m certain both of these women are reading this right now and are saying to themselves, ” Awe that Holly, she’s just being nice.” While that may be partially true, cuz’ I am usually ‘nice’, ( Eye role here!) I’m also very honest and honestly, I love these two women and have admired and felt tremendously supported by them for a better part of my adult life. We may have had less and less opportunity to sit together and enjoy a glass of wine and laugh at those adorable kids who are now adorable young adults, but even though life has flown by faster than any of us can really believe, I always know that they are there for me ! They cheer me on with such gusto and I always feel that they are two of my biggest supporters no matter what crazy plan I manage to come up with! They may not realize what role models and mentors they have quietly been to me , so this blog post is my way of expressing my adoration of them. Janet and Tara have created such successful and I think satisfying lives for themselves without having depended on anyone . I see them as ‘self-made’ women , and they have done that while simultaneously caring for their families and friends around them with such selflessness. I’ve quietly watched with admiration as my two beautiful friends have, through the years managed to find some balance between family, friends, career, fun, financial independence and also very personal spiritual beliefs.

While I wont live right next door to Janet anymore and Tara wont be coming to see me for her hair appointments anymore, I have no doubt that these two women will always be my dear friends. We already miss the good ol’ days of sittin’ in Janets backyard drinkin’ our wine, but someday I hope they manage to get out to Panama to sit in my backyard ! Hey guys, I promise, I will have wine ready to go!! I’m so lucky to have such great women in my life! We truly make each other better people! Cheers, guys! I know you’ll still be cheering for me from Los Altos no matter where I live! I’m so lucky to have you both as my friends!

A very ‘chill’ day for us…

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Today we had several things we accomplished but the most important things we did was spending time with important people. We began the day with a yummy breakfast with Scott’s mom, Pat. It’s always a good day when we start it with her ( and with cinnamon brioche french toast!). After breakfast we came back to the house and then my friend Cindy came to get me and we went on a mission. I have these beautiful hanging moss baskets that I just love. I had replanted them so they are bursting with color and they were a beautiful accent in our yard for all the open houses. I really want to take them with me to Panama so that I can someday use them in my new yard, but I would have to pull out all the plants and throw them away, Nooooo! My friend loves them so I suggested that if she wants, I will let her take them and she can just purchase new , empty ones for me to take. Great Idea, right? She thought so to. So our mission was to go to the nursery to try to find the same ones. They are 24 inches and they are made from pretty heavy duty black metal, not the wimpy ones with the chain that gets all tangled. Our mission failed but we did find one place that said they could special order them for us. Given the fact that we will be back to California at the end of this year to see to the packing of our shipping container, there’s no hurry. It will be a great excuse,(not that I need an excuse!) to visit with Cindy when I’m back in town. But we did enjoy looking at plants and smelling roses and we even saw a beautiful display of a huge amount of different varieties of Fuchsia plants. I think it was a smashing success of a shopping trip cuz’ it was time well spent with someone I adore.

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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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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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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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My Book Club📖

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Moving to another country of course means leaving many many things that are precious to me. One of these things is my book club. So I thought I would write about that group of very special women who I have had the great honor of sharing my love of books with for many years. This is a group of like-minded women who I will miss dearly. I’ve been reminiscing about the beginning of my book club and my ever growing love of books.

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Histories Shared….

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My history, your history, Our history. I’ve been thinking about all the people in my life and the history we share. Some go way back to my childhood some my young adult or teen years and other shared histories go back to my early 20’s and still others are more recent histories. This came to my mind of course, because I’m only months away from moving to a new place where I have no history with anyone there. Kinda makes me stop and ponder this fact.

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Emotions Abound! 😃😂😝☺😖😨😣😊

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Planning a drastic life change like the one we are currently in the process of embarking upon has the tendency to bring up many and varied emotions. I’m expecting all these emotions to reach a fevered pitch as our date of departure gets closer to becoming an actual reality . At the moment, our goal is to be ready to move by next June. Right now there are so many projects and decisions around preparing to sell our home and minimizing our material possessions for transportation to a new country. So focusing on what this whole move will actually feel like for me emotionally isn’t the most productive activity at the moment. But still, I can’t help having moments like this, when I let myself ponder how hard leaving all that I know and love, will actually be. After all the flurry that comes with preparing for a move to another country settles, what’s next? I ponder what it will be like to say our goodbyes to all the people we know, and love and then get on that airplane headed for a new life in a new country . On that day I’m sure my heart will be filled with conflicting emotions. Part of me will most definitely be sad, and a little scared, and another part will be filled with anticipation, and excitement . It’s been my experience time and again, that the most difficult and challenging life experiences that I’ve faced have been the ones that have brought about the most meaningful and significant outcomes. This decision Scott and I have made is not a decision that we’ve made lightly. It’s been a culmination of six years of much thought, endless discussions , and never-ending research. Not to mention lists, lists, and more lists! But no amount of discussion or research will be able to completely prepare me (or Scott, even though I don’t think he’s too focused on how much he’ll miss Home Depot!) for the reality of leaving all that we know. With all this in mind , I’m confident that it won’t take long before we feel at home in our new town and are building new relationships and enjoying our new digs.

The other day one of my clients who really loves me and cares about me, said,” Is it really so bad here? Why leave?”. She was just so concerned and didn’t understand why anyone would want to leave the U.S. and especially California. California is one of the most beautiful places to live, for sure! I had to explain that we aren’t running away from anything “bad”. We aren’t so terribly unhappy here. Nope. It’s very simply a decision to experience a different way of life. Change. We aren’t looking for paradise or the “perfect” life. That’s not very realistic. We like to make things happen in our life ! As opposed to just letting life happen “To” us. Scott and I are very fortunate to be on the same page about our life and what we want to do. And we aren’t afraid to dive into a big adventure full of challenges as long as we have each other . We are sure to hit walls at times that are painful, we’ve certainly been there and survived it. Even grown from it! But we agree that staying put and not pursuing this dream is not an option.

Obviously expatriating is not for everyone! We aren’t following a path that most people would even consider. But I know countless people who have left their families and all they know to relocate to a different state here in the U.S. . It may not be a whole different country but the change is still very significant. Yes, the language is the same and the culture isn’t so different, but they still had to start their lives over again. New home, new friends, new job, new Doctors& dentists, unfamiliar surroundings. And family no longer close by. I have always admired these people and envied them too. To have an opportunity to redefine yourself and your life seems appealing to me. And very rarely, if ever, have any of these people expressed regret for having made such a drastic and somewhat difficult change.

I can’t write a blog about emotions without talking about the most emotional aspect of all……….Mariah ( my daughter). Yep, in normal situations it’s the “kids” who leave the parents! But we’re breaking with the “norm” and leaving the kid.(The Norm’s no fun!) Everyone wants to know what she thinks about our plans. From the very start she’s been supportive and says she understands the appeal of a simpler, less materialistic, less stressful life. As a matter of fact, she toyed with the idea of joining us. But after really thinking about it, has decided , for now, to establish herself here and pursue a career. Who knows, down the road she may decide to spend extended periods of time in Panama. I know there is also a part of her that’s sad thinking about us not being right here. But anyone who has ever known Mariah knows that she has always been fiercely independent! She’s not the kind of kid who needs a lot of face-time , she’s established a life of her own , which is the natural progression of life. School, Apartment, Car, Job, friends, bills , all the necessary ingredients for a life of her very own. She really knows how to make things happen for herself! Albeit , a bit earlier than most, she’s only 20! I don’t know where she gets that natural inclination to break with the “Norm!”. Hmmmmmmm? I don’t think I would be able to move forward with this plan of ours if she weren’t on such a good path. The timing feels right and I can see that she has a firm grip on her life and is more than capable of living her life with me in a different country. It’s not like she can’t pick up a phone and call me anytime she likes. But even now, we talk on the phone only about once, sometimes twice a week. Modern technology has made the world a much smaller place. So between Skype, Magic Jack, and Email, it won’t be too much different than it is right now. I’m pretty sure one of the biggest things she’ll miss are the occasional Mother/Daughter shopping sprees! I’ll miss that too! Lol!

The other subject that really evokes intense emotions is my salon. One Eighty Four Plaza South has been a part of me and has in a big way defined me for the last twenty years ! Me and my very dear friend, Madonna , designed and built the salon together in 1993. We ran the business together until about 2000, when her life took a different path and she moved to a different state. I have continued to run the salon on my own , making changes , dealing with non-stop maintenance and repairs, and enjoying most everything , good and bad about owning my own business . I have been extremely fortunate to have always found such amazing stylists to work with me. Through the years I’ve had the honor to have worked with four very special women that have been not only co-workers but very dear friends. Donna, Tessa, Natalie and Patti. Working together in such close quarters I always become so attached to the people I work with. We share so much of our lives working side by side for 8 to 10 hours a day. Laughing, telling stories, supporting one another through all of life’s trials and tribulations, laughing some more and sometimes even crying,( we are “women” after all ! ) . It’s impossible to spend so much of your life with people and not develop deep, lasting relationships! These four very special women will always inhabit a very special place in my heart. And most recently my list of four special women grew to five when Patti relocated to Texas and Elisabeth joined our little family. She is a very talented, ambitious young women , and Its so great to have the opportunity to mentor her and to pass on a little bit of my nearly 30 years of experience on to her. Watching her soak it all in and achieve success is rewarding beyond belief. ( Not taking credit for her success, she owns that and is earning it with each passing day! ) I know beyond a doubt that my clients who choose to give her a chance will be pleasantly surprised by the level of creativity, and professionalism they receive from such a young stylist. Leaving my little salon will be very hard, I’ll miss so much about it. And when I think back to these twenty years I’ll always smile! I’ve been so lucky! Actually, LUCK had very little to do with it, hard work has really paid off, for sure!

When I look back at this time of my life I’ll have no regrets because I’m confident that I’ve succeeded in conducting my business and my life with honesty, integrity and kindness, mixed with a bit of humor! It’s always been my hope that every person who walks into my salon feels important and cared about. And I think I’ve succeeded in creating a very warm, welcoming environment where people enjoy spending time. I’m very pleased that my dear friend Natalie wants to take the reigns when I go . It will be her turn to make the salon reflect her personality and I know she’ll enjoy making it hers. To me, it’s been a bit like welcoming people into my home everyday . I hope she gets as much pleasure from running the business as I have. I like to think its a special place and I know Natalie feels the same way and will do an exceptional job at keeping it that way!

I’ve got a lot to say about the subject of emotions, as you probably noticed! :). And I’m pretty sure there will be other posts that touch on even more aspects of how this journey makes me feel and all the many emotions that come into play surrounding this next chapter of my life. Let me say though, that the over-riding emotion besides fear, sadness, anxiety,and anticipation, is intense excitement ! There’s so much to experience and learn and see! I can’t wait to start the part of this blog that shares all those new experiences with you ! The Adventure is coming! And you’ll all be with me in spirit as you read my long-winded blogs( in between snoring and falling asleep !) :). Lol!

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My Salon

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