Tag Archives: retiring

A little Update

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We did our 2 mile walk into town today. After a very satisfying breakfast at Central Perk, a little cafe in the town square, we made our way to the BCP (Boquete Community Players) where they hold the weekly farmers market. This market is every Tuesday from 9-12. They have everything from jewelry to organic produce, homemade baked goods, water purifiers, skin care products, hand made soaps, used books, vitamins, locally grown coffee and many other things. It seems to be a pretty popular gathering spot for many of the expats in the community to connect and I noticed a lot of socializing and catching up. We did run into a couple of our new friends and I must say it was a good feeling to see familiar faces and to be greeted by people we knew and introduced to new people as well. At one point , believe it or not, Scott was chatting to a couple of woodworking guys so I decided to go walk around and check things out while he visited, (I know, Scott “chatting”???) We were on a quest for a baguette for the bruschetta we plan to make to bring to our friends house for dinner tonight. There was a stall selling fresh baked breads but the baguette was $3.00 which seemed a bit steep to us so we decided to look around elsewhere in town. We did find some nice cherry tomatoes and a bug repellent called Gruber’s Jungle Oil , which boasts , ” Made from Panama’s finest medicinal plants and soybean oil”. It is said to not only repel mosquitoes , tics, wasps and bees and spiders and scorpions for up to four hours but also rapidly neutralizes bites. I have a couple good bites on my legs and it does seem to have stopped the itch! After the Tuesday Market we headed over to Romero’s to pick up some lunch food and see about the baguette. Nope strike two on the quest for the baguette , off to Sugar and Spice, a bakery in town, across from the place where we had lunch yesterday. Score, well kinda, they had a nice Ciabatta which we decided would work just fine. We caught a cab right outside the bakery and are now relaxing and catching up on some emails and a few online bill paying. Before we stopped at the bakery we stopped at Habla Ya to confirm our classes which begin on June 17.

We did have a funny misunderstanding with our new local cell phone number. Yesterday we got an email from one of our new friends who said they had gotten a phone call for us? HUH? We were confused at first, why would they get a call for us? Then after thinking about it we realized that while we were at the Cable and Wireless office arranging our new phone, they asked us who recommended them to us , they wanted the phone number of the people so they could send them a discount as a thank you. Well the only phone number we had was there’s so we gave it to Geovanna. They had, after all been one of the many people who had recommended Geovanna at Cable and Wireless. She handed us a receipt as we left the office and it had our new number printed on it(what we “thought” was our number) . What we did not know was that they had also printed our friends number on this receipt. So we began giving out what we thought was our new number to the spanish school as well as to Keith, the car guy. Unknowingly giving the WRONG number !! Oh my gosh!! We only just figured it out and sent our friends an email apologizing profusely about being such dummies! We, of course immediately contacted the other people who we had given the wrong number and corrected our mistake! Geeez! We may be loosing friends as fast as we are making them at this rate!! ha!ha!ha! Although I must say the price was right for their answering services!

As far as little Snafoos go , we think that one was pretty minor, and hope to be more careful in the future. Although, who knows what mischief we may find ourselves unintentionally getting into! These things make for a good adventure , never a dull moment! Onward and Upward!! Cheers!

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So Far…

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So far, 5 day’s into our expat adventure, I have to say I have not detected any mistakes yet. I’m sure something will crop up eventually but as of today, June 2,2013,we are feeling as though all our research and planning has really paid off. Also our mindset is a huge help in this regard because we are very relaxed and ready to just chill! To worry and fret about things and have very specific expectations would lead to extreme frustrations and unrealistic outcomes. Things are different here and we are prepared to face whatever comes our way. We expect to begin to experience some difficulty in some way but it’s too soon to know what they may end up being.

We are still debating on when we will buy a car, how we will do it, where we will do it and what car we will buy. We know already that we will eventually have two cars , one new or newer SUV for me to drive and a used pick up truck for Scott to use. We have been looking on line and talking to our friends to find out what dealerships are in David . There are Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubitshi, Honda, Ford, Suzuki, Kia. There are also two men in town who come very highly recommended by every expat we speak to . Apparently they both help expats buy cars and get all the necessary license and registration and insurance and inspections done. One guy is known as Cowboy Dave and Keith is the other guy who we actually saw today at One Eyed Franks. Scott sent Keith an email today asking him a few questions. We are thinking it might be prudent of us to wait to buy the new car until we have our Pensionado visa because it’s our understanding that when we have that we can defer the import taxes on the new car,( it’s one of the perks of this particular visa) . This could amount to several thousand dollars so it’s probably a good idea to consider waiting for that benefit to click in for us. Scott is hoping to get some answers regarding what is available and what is the best way to proceed in regards to buying a vehicle here. We are in no hurry to buy a car because so far,(it’s only been 5 days) we find taking taxi’s and walking to be quite easy to get around.

I began thinking about mistakes about moving overseas because I was reading another blog written by someone who just recently moved to Boquete. One of his posts was listing some of the things he considered mistakes for him and none of them seemed to be things that have even remotely registered for us as mistakes. His was not buying a car before or just when they got here and not speaking the language and bringing too many belongings from his country of origin. Hmmmmm, I wonder how many pairs of shoes he brought? I’m sure we will eventually have a list of things we would do differently but as of right now we seem to be cruising along just fine and enjoying the fruits of many years of research and planning, a very open mind and a sense of humor along with an appreciation for a culture and community that we hope to integrate ourselves into with time. So far we are relaxing, exploring, recuperating from surviving our exit strategy from the States and finding our bearing with each passing day.

This indigenous couple were strolling into town ahead of us on Saturday night, Sooo adorable!!

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Travel Day…

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This has been a very smooooth travel day (Long, but smooth!) with the tiny exception of my very warranted meltdown over the Cargo issue with the kitty’s. You’ll be relieved to know that they arrived at the Panama city airport virtually unscathed although clearly not especially happy. I was very relieved when we were boarding the plane scott looked out the window and just happened to see the cats being loaded last into the cargo hold of the plane. They loaded them last so that they would be unloaded first upon arrival in Panama City. Given the fact that the flight was a red-eye, we slept the whole 6 hours. After going through immigration and customs we made our way very smoothly to baggage claim where I immediately began trying to find out where we would find our cats. I was looking all around for them and then I saw a very nice lady who looked like she was in charge, standing off to the side, by the two cages containing my precious cargo. Oh Good! She was so sweet and managed to get me to understand with no english, that she would wait there while we got the rest of our belongings. All four of our bags arrived as well, like I said, smooth travel day .

After securing our bags we made our way back over to the line for customs and we were instructed by a guy who looked in charge to come this way, around to the front of the line. They took us to the front of the line so we could get to our animals asap, so nice. The lady who had been patiently waiting off to the side with the cats turned out to be Lucy, our pet relocation guys (Jose) wife. She spoke no english but we managed understand what we had to do next. Scott grabbed the documents and the money and went , escorted by Lucy, to talk with the vet, who I never even saw. As a matter of fact, Im not sure if the vet ever even looked at the cats but, oh well. Money was exchanged and paperwork procured for the in-home quarantine required in Panama for importing animals and off we went. As soon as we exited immigration there was Jose, I recognized him from his web sight. He grabbed the two cat carriers and warmly greeted us and off we went to the front of the airport where Jose parked us on the curb with his wife Lucy while he went to get his van. One funny thing that happened as we made our way through the crowded airport, there was one point where Jose was forced to stop for a minute while a bunch of people looked at the cats with huge smiles and obviously admiring their beauty, even though they were seeing them at their absolute worst ,I’m certain the poor cats were mortified to be so exposed! After being parked on the curb to await Jose, I stood in the humid, but not too uncomfortably hot Panamanian air and just took a deep breath ! I’m here! Finally!

Now I’m sitting in the van with Jose and Scott in the front seat, the cats in their carriers in the next seat and Lucy and Brian, Jose’s 6 year old grandson sitting in the seat behind me. I just finished playing on my iPad with Brian, I entertained him a bit with the photo booth app and we laughed and laughed as we took funny pictures of ourselves and I tried to learn a few words of spanish(which my addled brain has already forgotten, ugg) while we giggled. When He finished playing with me he sat back and took out his own iPad! Ha!Ha!Ha! Silly me, I thought I was exposing him to something new when all along he was just being polite to this silly gringo lady. Too funny! The other funny thing is Scott ( you know, that quiet, guy) sitting in the front seat of this van with Jose and just Chatting away with him! Turns out Jose is quite talkative and considers himself a tour guide as well as educator to new gringos coming here to settle. I must say, his knowledge is very appreciated indeed! He also made sure we are aware of all the other services that he offers in addition to pet relocation and transportation. He gives tours of Panama City and the surrounding areas and when our family and friends come to visit us he will be there to take good care of them, (hint, hint!) But seriously, its great to have someone like him lined up.

Did I mention that this time of year is the beginning of rainy season? As we are driving down the PanAmerican Highway on our way to Boquete ( 6 hour drive ) it is pouring rain, not like California pouring rain, These raindrops ore HUGE! and I find myself wondering how Jose (of the chatty driver) can see the road, but I have confidence in his abilities, he strikes me as a very capable man. We are in good hands for sure.

Fast forward to 10:30 pm. We got to our lodging, Villa Marita and are comfortable settled. Scott is snoring away as I update you on the remainder of our travel day. The cat’s are recovering , although it may be awhile until they completly forgive us for such a humiliating experience. Copper is badly in need of a bath , he seems to have peed himself, poor guy. They were stuck in those crates for an awfully long time. But we have all their familiar things here for them, The cat box , some scratching pads which have been freshly doused with fresh catnip,their waterfall water, which they love and the familiar cat food dispenser. They have been exploring the apartment and I expect it wont be long before they are feeling much better. After we got here we had Betty, the lady at the front dest, call us a cab and take us to La Posada for a delicious Pizza and a good bottle of wine, Ahhhh! The cab driver quickly ascertained that we would be needing to find a long term living situation and drove us , not far out of our way, to see two house that he happens to rent, they are not currently available so I”m not sure what the point was, but oh well. Fernando, ( the cab driver) would really like to help us find a place to rent, we shall tread carefully with this kind offer, he is after all, a completer stranger to us. We are smarter than we look , Ha! Ha! Ha! We have already made dinner plans with our friends Al And Sela for Saturday night and are looking forward to seeing them again. I am also looking forward to connecting with other “virtual” friends who I have been communicating with via my blog and Facebook as soon as they have time.

It’s good to finally be here, although we both agree that it is a bit surreal, it just seems like it’s not real yet. Maybe after a good nights sleep and a bit of exercise tomorrow we will feel a little more like ourselves. Thanks for all your well wishes! We are grateful to be on a path of our own making and to feel so supported by everyone who cares about us. Cheers!

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Finalizing Our Storage…

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As you know, we plan to ship a 40 foot container with our household belongings off to Panama. The plan is to leave all our belongings in two storage units until we return later in the year to facilitate the packing of the actual shipping container. We opted to do it this way in order to take advantage of one of the perks of the particular Residency Visa we plan to apply for, the Pensionado Visa. This perk is a one time only exemption on the import taxes on one container from your country of origin. This import tax would be 21 percent of what Panama values the contents of the container. whew! That would be quite a bit. ( this is the most recent information we have gotten , but if It’s different I’m sure we will soon find out, these things often change) This Residency Visa is one that is offered to retired people and although there isn’t an age requirement, there is a requirement to prove that you receive a lifetime income , of a minimum of $1,250.00 per month. Most retired folks could satisfy this requirement with a pension or Social Security but given the fact that we are too young for social security, we decided to purchase an annuity that will provide us with the required proof of lifetime income. This is what is causing the hold-up on shipping our belongings because the document proving we will have this income couldn’t be provided until we got our money from our house in the bank. Then they want to see three months statements from the annuity. Sooooooo we will come back to be here while the packing company packs the container.

We have rented two storage containers to hold all our belongings. It took us some time to find the right place that would work for us. There wasn’t a place that had a single unit to accommodate our belongings , One big unit would have been ideal but , oh well! So the shipping container is 2900 cubit feet , give or take, and our storage units equal 3700 cubic feet, so we are banking on the professional packers being able to pack that puppy much more efficiently than we packed, cuz we have those units packed to the rim. Of course we have a list of things we can abandon but we will just wait until packing day to just be sure we have to give up those things.

The very last big job we have had to accomplish , which by the way, we finally finished just yesterday,(Sunday), is Getting the last of our things into those storage units. We had a bit of a complication because one of the two units was a bit small to fit what we planned to fit so we decided to exchange it for one that had 5 more feet of space! The new unit was one row over from our existing unit so Scott and Me and a worker spent Saturday,(Scott and the worker were also working on it on Friday ) schlepping everything from one to the other! Yikes! Thank God for Dollies! This gave Scott an opportunity to pack the new unit much more efficiently and Voila! It all fit! Whew! Sunday, yesterday, we had to complete this task. On Friday while I was working for my last day, Scott was getting all the final things out of the house and he didn’t have enough time to get it all over to the storage so he left it all in our next door neighbors ( Janet ) garage. She kindly let us do this and she also let us use her pick up truck to get it all to the storage. We had two loads including my 10 boxes of my personal belongings from the salon. We were very relieved to have finished this last big job.

Now, today we have Lunch with Scott’s mom, Pat and Then I’m meeting Natalie and Elisabeth at the salon to get my hair colored one last time before I set out on Tuesday. But before we start the day we are about to get our final pack done here at the hotel. Tomorrow, (Tuesday) the plan is to meet Mariah at 7:00 am for breakfast then return the economy rental car that we have been driving this week, And pick up the SUV we will drive to LA with our four bags and two cats. Off We go! Soon we will be on the airplane headed to Panama , Big smile! What an Adventure it’s already been!

Our first kinda big snag in our Diabolical plan…

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Those darn cats have caused yet another snag in our plans. To be fare it isn’t really their fault that their owners are dummies! We somehow dropped the ball on the correct procedure for the documentation requirements to import animals to Panama. The Certificate of Health document needs to go to the USDA then to the Panamanian Consulate , somehow, on the day we began the process of fulfilling all these requirements we thought(correction, someone told us!) instead of the Panamanian consulate , we could take it to the Secretary of State to be Apostiled. Nope, Wrong information somewhere down the line. OOPS! So remember this document is time sensitive so we had to do it at the last minute so it would be no older than 10 days old, otherwise we would have done it ahead of time just in case we had any crazy mix ups.

So Scott had a very successful trip to the Usda got it embossed and whatever else they had to do to this precious document but the remaining requirement being the Panamanian consulate is the part that is holding us up. There apparently is no Panamanian consulate in Sacramento or San Francisco! UGGG! We got online and the only Consulate that said they dealt with Pet importation was the Washington DC consulate, the LA one did not say anything on their web sight about their ability to deal with it (we should have called and spoken to a human being, hindsight!) so we quickly Fed Exed the Certificate to DC with their assurance that they would turn it around right away, we should have received it by Wed, Thursday at the latest, emphasis on “SHOULD”! You guessed it, No delivery!

The Washington DC Panamanian Consulates office hours (West coast time) is 6:00am to 11:00am! Welcome to Panama! LOL! so I phoned them at 6:00am Friday morning to inquire. I was placed on speaker phone as the gal on the other end shuffled through paper, asking,”how many cat’s?, What’s your Name?, When did you send it?” Blah! Blah! Blah! “OH! Here It is!!” Ahhh Ha! “you will get it saturday!” We did not trust this promise of delivery, justifiably so. So Yesterday, Friday, Scott decided he would simply redo the whole thing and drive back to Sacramento again to the USDA with a new copy of the document so that we could then leave early on Tuesday and take it to the LA consulate who we spoke with and they said they could take care of it. We are flying out of LA on a red-eye Tuesday night, so we figure we should have time to do this before our flight. Sadly, we should have called the office to see if the hours would be different given the fact that it is Memorial Day weekend, (do you see where this is going?) yep, they closed early and Scotts 3 hour drive was a bust, sooo 3 hours back home again! Poor Scott! Ok, soooo fast forward to today, Saturday, its early yet, but we shall see if the original document actually materializes. I had to let the new owners of our house know that we are expecting a Fed Ex delivery on their front porch today, but they will not be there so I will need to go check later to see if it miraculously appears today. Fingers are crossed! If it makes it we will be sooooo lucky but if not, well, plan B is to be at the USDA first thing Tuesday morning, have the new document of Health Certificate stamped then drive to the LA Panamanian consulate to complete this silly requirement. There is only one flaw in this plan, that is, we had arranged to hand in our economy rental car on tuesday morning and pick up a bigger SUV to accommodate all our baggage and the two cat carriers. The car rental place opens at 9:00 so we cant get to Sacramento until probably around noon! Grrr! It’s a 3 hour drive to Sacrament then a 5 hour drive to LA and the consulate is 50 miles from the airport. Good Grief!! Thankfully, this has been our worst snafoo yet! There had to be some kind of wrinkle in our diabolical plan, otherwise, how could we call this an Adventure, we would have had to call it A CAKEWALK!!! WaaaHaaaa!! Here We Go!!!

What A Day Today Is!! Whew!

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Friday, May 24th,2013…
Look at all those cards!! Sigh …

Today may seem like just another ordinary day to you, but to me, it’s a very special, extremely bittersweet, and totally exciting! Today Is the last day of my thirty year career in the Hairstyling business. I got to the salon early , as usual, but today I cant help feeling sentimental as I prepare for my day. I just tossed my little color file box in the trash! I have two more colors to mix up today and that’s it! I’ve given all my clients their color formulas and Ive given Natalie and Elisabeth all the formulas as well. I have a short day today, I finish at 2;00 and then I must scurry around to accomplish many little details of our move. I’m glad I have a lot to do today after I’m done with work.

I have so many things tumbling around my head that I want to say about this day and about retiring from
a very satisfying and extremely successful career. I don’t mean Success in the traditional way that most people consider the definition to be. Some may think when I say success I mean that I see myself as having been the best stylist EVER or that I made lots and lots of money. I know I am very creative and talented and I have always strived to do the absolutely best job I could do, but Ive always been of the mindset that there is always someone more talented than me and there is always someone less talented than me. I have enjoyed practicing my chosen career as a collaboration between myself and each person who sat in my chair. But I must say that to me, my success is measured right this moment by the many many good wishes and cards , gifts and tears of sadness at my parting , the people who have said,”I Love You”, the hugs, soooo many hugs and kisses on the cheek!. My clients are my family and my friends. There is a mutual, deep love and admiration between us all. I’ve made lasting connections with so many people and I’m confident that even if I move away to begin my next adventure and I don’t get to see everyone on a regular basis, the connections never end. They will change and some may seem to fade but , go away? or end? NEVER!

So today is the last day of my career as a stylist! The last day I will make a living cutting and coloring hair. Tomorrow when I wake up I’ll still be the same Holly, but after 30 years of doing my job , going into the salon and making people happy (Most people anyways!) I believe I’m a better person, more confident , satisfied, and fulfilled . What a gift my job has been and I walk away today having received immeasurable gifts of generosity in the form of friendships that I take with me to Panama. Ahhhhh! Sweet Success!! Life is good! I’m a happy girl today! Tears will come and my heart aches, as I face this day. But the tears aren’t all sad, they are a mix of gratitude and reflection on all the amazing and wonderful experiences I get to take with me.

The sadness of leaving my dearest co-worker Natalie is an Ache in both our hearts that will need time to heal. She is a sister to me and to say I will miss seeing her everyday doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling we both have today. Boy oh boy! This isn’t easy!

Whew! Just got notice from the Title company , The money is in the bank! Holy crap! We’re homeless!! OMG! This is a very very big day! Tears are flowing all around me and This Adventure is really in full force now! Sooooo stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the Adventure. I gotta go take a deep breath and grab some kleenex! Gulp!

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6 More Day’s…

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Last night was our first night in the hotel where we will be staying until we leave next Tuesday. I worked yesterday from 8-7 and Scott finished up some details he needed to address at the house as well as doing a bit of running around to accomplish a few details. We weren’t able to establish our mail forwarding yet so we decided to just set up a P.O. box at the Mountain View post office and Mariah agreed to check it for us and then FaceTime us so we can go through it. We have gotten all the important stuff set up for electronic mail already so it will mostly be junk , but you have to have a mailing address anyhow. We will address the Mail forwarding in Boquete at the MBE office in town.

While I was in between clients yesterday I began the big cancellation process. I cancelled a couple of credit cards and notified PG&E to discontinue service in my name (at the salon) effective 6-1 as well as garbage service at the salon too . Then I called both my business liability insurance and our homeowners and car insurance brokers and cancelled those ( Big Huge Smile πŸ™‚ . Scott also had to quickly FEDEX the documents and money orders for the cats to the Panamanian consulate in L.A. , our fingers are crossed that we get it back by Friday! Darn Cats!

As you can see, there’s still quite a bit of little details to address . Tonight, Tuesday, we have the final walk thru at the house with the buyers. I’m not really looking forward to that. sigh! Maybe I’ll be too late to make it??? Scott is finishing up moving out all the rest of our belongings from the house to our storage unit. This morning he went to pick up the moving truck that he rented to transport it all . I think he had to get a truck with a lift-gate so he could load the three huge woodworking tools. We had a bit too much left at the house to fit it all the the storage unit we currently have already packed so we had to switch everything to a different one that has a bit more space. We are counting on the professional packers who work for the shipping company to be able to pack that container TIGHT! so that all our stuff will fit. If not, then when we are here watching them pack we will have to start saying,”ok. we don’t need that, or that, or that!” But for now, we will just store it with the hopes that it will all be able to make it.

I have to admit, with each passing day I am feeling a bit more nervous. There just seems to be so many little pieces to this move that still need to be addressed and I’m anxious about messing something up or forgetting something important. Scott keeps telling me to “Breath”. He is my rock! Mariah has been on a little vacation this week in Utah. She is with Elisabeth , they are hiking around the national parks there, Zion and Bryce Canyon . It’s been great to have her car while she’s gone. I’ve gotten a lot of running around done , like just now, I ran to my optometrist and friend’s office to get my lenses in my glasses replaced. They had a bit of a smudge (from all the hair spray , I think!) that was really driving me crazy and luckily they were under warranty so I got brand new lenses!! Yea! But had I not had Mariah’s car I wouldn’t have had any way to run over there.

It’s hard to believe that I have only two more days after today to work! Yikes! and Yippee! There is most definitely an Adventure brewing !! What will I do??? Who will I be?? Where will we settle? Will anybody like us there?? What new and exciting hobbies will we discover?? Sooooo many new things to look forward to discovering but the first discovery I want to make is, “Where is the closes bar??” I’m thinkin’ Maybe a Big, cold Margarita ! That’s an adventure I’m ready for! Tuesday, May 29 we are expecting to hit Boquete if all goes according to plan! Villa Marita here we come!! And whatever bar or restaurant that is around, that’s were we will head first. Although, there is a possibility that a bit of a nap will be in order after the travel day we will have had! UGGG!

Let’s Get This Adventure Goin”! Oh, wait a minute, I do believe It’s already begun in ernest!! It began wayyyy back when we started dreaming about moving to another country! Sometimes I have to pinch myself! I just cant believe we’ve made it this far and we are just day’s away from making this dream a reality! Boy, oh, boy, as I read back what I’ve written I see that I’m a very ‘excessive exclamation point user’ !!!! That particular key on my keyboard may wear out any moment now!!! But that’s exactly how I’m feeling at the moment!! I just cant help Exclaiming about my anxieties, joys , fears, excitements and especially the extreme anticipation about the next few days, weeks, months and years! (Big Smile!) Cheers!!!!!

Yes folks, Another Dinner! (I’m stuffed!) But this dinner is with my virtual Brother!

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So tonight I am going to enjoy a very rare social outing with my very dear friend Walt. I’ve been cutting Walt’s hair for somewhere around 27 years. We go wayyyyy Back! Three children two divorces and two marriages later we have a shared history that has flown by at a blink of an eye. I’m really looking forward to spending time with him and celebrating all the years of our friendship.

I don’t know any other way to describe my friendship with Walt except to say that if I had ever had a big brother I would wish him to be exactly like this guy. I don’t really know why we have not had more opportunities to spend time together except that we just got so darn busy with all the regular things that suck up our time , careers, raising children,developing and enjoying relationships with our spouses and all the other activities that end up being the sum of 27 years. I must say I do regret not having made more time to be around him cuz’ he’s just such a great person to know. Even so, I’m so grateful for every moment we’ve shared together while I was cutting his hair. Lot’s of laughter, a few tears, sharing story’s of kids, travel, loves, Ups and downs in our careers, and endless other aspects of our lives

When Walt walks into the salon he always gives me a great big hug and I feel like I just saw him the day before. It’s as though no time at all has gone by and we just pick up the conversation where we left off four or five weeks ago. Our lives have had turmoil , the regular trials and tribulations of life and more blessings and happy times as well. All these things we somehow manage to share with one another in the span of a haircut every single five weeks in the last 27 years. It may sound strange to some but I love this guy and I feel blessed to call him my friend. I’m certain that every person who is in his presence can feel the genuine generosity of his spirit . Walt is just one of those rare human beings that emanates warmth and caring anytime your around him. I am pretty sure he and his wife Alley will visit us in Panama someday because they love to travel and have a very similar adventurous spirit like us.

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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Time may fly fast, but at the moment it feels like slow motion…

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Yes, It’s almost always true that time really flies by fast. But at the moment, for us anyways, it’s moving at a snails pace, ssssslllloooowww! When you’ve made a decision ,such as the one we’ve made, to begin anew in a different location, and then subsequently worked your but off to prepare for said move, you reach a point when all you can think is,” let’s go already!”. Last night we walked into town to a local restaurant where we can sit at the bar and drink sangria and watch Hockey. As we enjoyed our sangria and nachos we both lamented our mutual feeling that this waiting period is very reminiscent of pulling off a band aide reeeeeal slow! I even went so far as to compare it to that last few weeks of pregnancy , when you get to the point where that tiny bit of fear you may have had at the beginning of the pregnancy, the fear of being torn apart to get that baby out of that tiny area, is completely gone because you just want that darn baby OUT!
Early on in our planning I remember worrying about all the “lasts” that I would experience and how emotional It would be. Well, I’m here now, experiencing lasts everyday and boy oh boy am I done! While my heart strings are most certainly being pulled by the emotion of ending the life we have built here, I feel as though I’m done with the ‘endings’ and really ready for the ‘new beginnings’. I’ve been very focused on all that I’m leaving behind. While there’s no way around the sadness of goodbyes, I realize I still have quite a few more to endure. But I can’t help hoping that while It’s goodbye ‘for now’ to all the people it’s really a very final goodbye to some ‘places’, to our house, to my salon, to Los Altos, and to California even to the U.S. Well, Okay, maybe not goodbye “forever” to California or to the U.S., I admit, that may have been a bit on the dramatic side! But the big “Final” goodbyes to my house and to my salon that I have been preparing myself for … those goodbyes, I’m just ready to GO ALREADY! I’m so tired of being sad and of thinking about what it will be like to have left these two parts of me behind. Intellectually I know that time will pass and our new life will begin to take on a shape of it’s own. This part of my life will always be a fantastic memory that will always be a part of who I am .
Aren’t we all, in part, a sum of our past, in a way. Our life experiences make us who we are . I’ve been so lucky to have had some pretty amazing experiences so far in my life. I see this next step as yet the beginning of even more amazing experiences to come. This period of time, may be hard for us , the waiting is a killer. But it’s all a part of the Big Adventure and I think it’s a pivotal time for us. We get to decide what our focus will be, will we mourn and wail about what we leave or will we focus our attention on the road ahead and be grateful for what lies behind us? The same goes to those who love us and are feeling sad to see us relocate so far from them. Our hope, of course, is that in time the focus for them too will change and they will enjoy knowing that we are following our dream. That our life is of our making and that we are overjoyed to be making it an Adventure ! But for now….We hurry up and WAIT! GRRRRR!

Our Next Big Milestone Will Be The Close Of Escrow…

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The next big milestone for us will be the closing of escrow on the sale of the house. We don’t have a firm date on that quite yet! Originally the paperwork said May 24 but the buyers are going on vacation on May12 so we are hoping they will be able to close before their vacation, maybe May11? That will mean we need to vacate the house just as soon as that date is determined, so either by May 24 or May 11. The last few days or weeks of our stay will be spent in a pet friendly hotel.

We still have a few things remaining in the house that we are hoping to be able to fit into our storage unit and then into our shipping container. We have our couch,coffee table, king size bed,washer/dryer,patio furniture and three more big tools that Scott just ordered. Unfortunately this is where we begin to re-prioritize the things we are bringing. Why? you may be asking? Well, our storage unit is just about full already and as you may know, the two storage units are equivalent to our 40 foot shipping container so that means that whatever fits into the storage units should also fit in the shipping container! And Whatever ‘doesn’t’ fit will surely not fit into the shipping container! Yikes! There are already a few things that I know we can abandon, well not abandon exactly, but find a home for. Like a desk and printer stand,a wine rack, a corner metal bakers rack thingy,an upholstered chair, and I’m sure I can think of a few other things we can live without. The last things on my list of priorities is the couch and coffee table, although I’m pretty sure the coffee table can be disassembled and then it will fit better, I love that table! But the patio furniture is something I really want to be able to bring and the washer/dryer are non-negotable as well as the bed. Scott thinks he will have to completely unload the storage unit and repack it more efficiently. Given the fact that we had to pack it little by little, it was impossible to do a very efficient pack job. So we shall see how much more room we can find in there and just what ends up not making it into the container.

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Writing our Next Chapter…

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I love reading! I’ll read almost anything, Historical fiction, non fiction, satire,fantasy, you get the idea, literature is my friend. In my mind, there’s nothing more delightful than being completely enveloped in a story and just relishing in each chapter, wishing all along that the chapter I’m in or the book itself would never end. It’s like saying goodbye to a cherished friend when I finish a particularly engrossing book. I was thinking about this today as I was discussing with a friend , all the transitions I am currently facing. She said something very apropos , ” It must be so hard for you right now when your facing so many “transitions” and so many exciting, new beginnings are awaiting you in Panama”. This made me ponder how a chapter must be complete before the next chapter can begin. Isn’t that just what a Chapter is about? It’s a transition , a place in the story where a new point of view begins or a different sequence of events begins. Such a true statement , and an analogy that is close to my heart. As an avid lover of all things literature, drawing a parallel to a difficult, sad or challenging event in my life with my love of books really speaks to me.

A new chapter is not an ending to the story, not at all, it’s a point in the story line where a different direction may begin or a different narrator begins a different perspective . All the same characters remain a part of the story, the next chapter is what I almost always look forward to experiencing. Depending upon the book, sometimes I may dread or fear what direction the storyline may take on in the next chapter. But dread or fear never stop me from continuing on to see what the next chapter will bring. I’m often pleasantly surprised by a turn of events or by the introduction of a new character into the storyline. The story just gets better and better as more complexities are layered into the narrative. A good story must do just that, it must twist and turn and cause you to follow the story with baited breath .

Aren’t we all the authors of our own story? Yes, there are plenty of experiences that present themselves to us which may seem as though we would be self destructive to have written that into our own story on purpose! But I think it’s ‘how’ we decide to travel through those parts of the story and ‘how’ or ‘if’ we decide to carry the results of those more complicated life experiences along the path that is our story. There are some juicy parts to the story that only we can decide where it will take us. There are those who choose to believe that they are the victims of their life, that they have been dealt a bad hand, I say “Peshaw!” Buck up! Everybody gets to experience difficulty of some sort during their lifetime, It’s the fire of life that we must walk through to find our strength and our power. I’m taking the reigns of my story. I’m creating the next chapter and it’s building on the chapters that Ive already been through. It is a thrilling story with suspense and humor a story that is unpredictable and I’m on the edge of my seat as the suspense is building and the story is getting more thrilling to me as time is passing.

Don’t we all look forward to the next chapter? Transitional life moments are often fraught with powerful emotions. I’m in the midst of a new chapter myself. As you can see , from this post, It’s on my mind a lot. Transitional times are not unusual but having the opportunity to actually plan it and make it happen is not always the case. Many changes in life are just natural life transitions like becoming an adult, living on your own for the first time, getting married, having a child, starting a career, then your child grows up, you become an empty nester, maybe you decide its time to retire. These new chapters are somewhat predictable , at least they are events that you expect. They are events that most folks have expectations of experiencing at some point in time. Scott and I have chosen to write a storyline that is not so predictable. Ours is a road less traveled. Many have gone before us and made a life for themselves abroad, created a completely new storyline. This is our “Next Chapter”. Instead of allowing the chapters to unfold in a traditional path, we’re customizing the next chapter to appeal to our sense of adventure and our desire to experience something totally different and unpredictable. Oh, we have a plan but that plan is simply a ‘rough draft’ of the story. We don’t know exactly what twists and turns it may take and we may find aspects of our adventure will occasionally need to be edited or re-written in places. That’s the way it goes in life, and we are prepared to expect the unexpected. Expecting the ‘expected’ sounds , oh sooooo boring after all. What genre is ‘your’ story? Ours is part suspense, a bit of a thriller, often a comedy, but mostly a mystery. We don’t know all the answers or what turns may come next , and the suspense keeps us on the edge of our seat!

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

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!