Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Morning Raptor Visit!

Bob yelled, "Quick, a hawk in the tree."
I rushed to the window, saw who he was talking about, though almost 
hidden behind the dead leaves.
Asked him to grab my camera while I gently pulled up the blinds!
Dive-bombing small, very fast, noisy birds were hitting the young
 Red-tailed hawk's head, but it stayed just long enough for me to get a
 few photos then apparently said to itself, enough of this malarkey, 
I'm off to greener pastures.

I always enjoy unexpected garden visitors!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Everything but the kitchen sink!

Last of the summer blooms at the kitchen sink.

Always so much to do before leaving on a big trip. 

What constitutes a 'big trip' anyway?

For me it's all about the number of countries on the itinerary - usually
 more than two.
The transportation to get to the first one and then the journey 
onward whether on planes, ships, trains or automobiles.
The weather in each place can be so different making choosing
what to take and wear often time consuming - for me anyway!

For the upcoming trip we will have possible cool days in
Europe - and of course something for rain always needs to be packed.
As it won't be cold my nylon packable jacket bought in England in 
May will be perfect - it's longer, roomy, and has a hood. . . . . . . and
it folds into a very small 6x8 inch pouch which came with it. I love it.

We board the ship in Lisbon and, following one port stop in Spain
where layers may be required if temps are cool early morning and 
warmer later, we'll then be heading to Morocco with perhaps much
 warmer weather. Picking clothes for Casablanca and other Moroccan 
ports requires comfy sightseeing outfits, but with more coverage such
as loose tunics with sleeves, over long pants - no plunging necklines
 or shorts, which I wouldn't consider anyway!

Once in Western Sahara it will most likely be even hotter and drier.
Again, local custom requires modesty and coverage - perhaps the caftan
or tunic length tops worn with lightweight long pants will work there.
As for the port stops on three Cape Verde Islands, who knows. It's 
going to be tropical and again hot, so will wait and see. By the time we
 arrive there it's likely I'll just be tossing on something comfortable. . . . . 
 in linen and very wrinkled no doubt!

One large bag for checking awaiting.
A big pile of clothing being edited to fit in said bag!
Plus one small roll-aboard to carry on. 
If only I could travel without so much. 
I will leave the kitchen sink behind though!!!!!

Busy weekend ahead and still so hot and dry here.
Hope you have fun things planned.

P.S. Coming next - the travel clothing rack is collapsing under the weight!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A perfect shoe. . . . . . .

I remember the many years I hated my feet! 

My long, narrow, on a good day. . . .size 10 feet! 
Of course in those days I was also 5' 8" tall so probably required this size to stay balanced. Well that's what I told myself. My most recent height measurement taken at a doctor's office noted I was 5' 71/4", damn it, I'm shrinking! 

My younger feet seemed only to fit comfortably into very expensive shoes. Shoes that were definitely not within my budget. Sometimes I even required a whopping 10-1/2AA, and in killer pointy toes they needed to be a narrow fitting to stay on and be comfortable. My mother had beautiful feet into her early nineties - long, narrow, and always wore a size 12AA. She often had to special order shoes. With her great fashion sense - being a professional dressmaker - her shoes were also very important to her. 

In those long ago days, when I liked to think of myself as a well-dressed, quite fashionable young woman, the only shoes available in size 10-1/2AA were brands such as the amazingly beautiful, and very expensive, Italian handcrafted Salvatore Ferragamo brand. I have owned two pairs in my lifetime. One, a gorgeous burnt red and cream summer classic spectator with a chunky mid heel - sadly long gone - requiring pleated mid-calf skirts or a tailored black one with a kick pleat in the back. . . . . . and sometimes a true trouser, hi-rise waist with a fuller leg and cuffs, decidedly Katherine Hepburn, and thankfully now back in style!

The second pair, above, I splurged on and ordered in my perfect size from the SAKS Fifth Avenue catalog long before computers and online shopping. When they arrived I loved them from the first moment! I still wear them on occasions where a higher heel works for a short time, such as a restaurant dinner, or a funeral! They are black and brown, the smoothest, most velvety calf leather, the top stitching so fine. Even though over 30 years old, they are the 'spectator' style, classic and timeless. I feel they can be worn forever. The last time I wore them when traveling was many years ago when in Montreal where I joined Bob on a business trip. I recall walking on the ancient cobbled streets, from our hotel to a restaurant, and swore "never again" would I pack them for travel as I realized my tottering on heels on rough ground days were over! 

I still love shoes and probably have too many!  Is there actually a woman who doesn't? A few days ago while looking online at spectator style shoes, Etsy popped up with some amazing vintage beauties, including many Salvatore Ferragamo! There was a '50's pair made for Greta Garbo, asking price now $925.00! Thankfully she wore size 8 so were not even considered. As for current Ferragamo shoes, still beautiful, often quirky rather than classic, and way beyond my budget. 

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes you will never say goodbye to?

I'm back to serious preparation and packing for the upcoming trip and it's taking up my time as we're leaving next week. Choosing other footwear for shipboard, sightseeing in cities, the desert and islands, is quite a chore. Packing a lot of shoes is a no-no . . . . . . . . too heavy and take up too much space in that one checked bag!  

Friday, September 20, 2019

Classic Knits in Desert Shades -


Perhaps not for the desert, although those who camp out overnight
would require one as it does get chilly once the sun sets.
Sweaters in desert colors have however been on my radar recently.

Each year, especially around this time, the knitwear choices seem more
and more exciting. I'm definitely a sweater collector and probably
should never buy another, but when I see something that catches
my eye - a new style, a color I've been searching for, sumptuous yarn -
I'm hooked!
I have purchased this rust version because it checked all my boxes -
a color I've wanted for some time, mock turtleneck, dolman sleeves, 
lighter weight for here in the south, and at H&M quite inexpensive.

Coats can be knits too!  
This camel shade from H&M is a knitted fabric brushed on the outside
 to a soft, lightweight and cozy fabric, ideal as a grab and go casual coat, 
perfect for travel in the cooler weather. It is a classic cut, straight with
 good pockets, always a must for me. It also comes in a light grey, and a
 deep chocolate brown, and the price is awesome.
Yes, I did buy this one and I know I'll find it useful once the really chilly days
arrive and a longer coat feels better than a short jacket.

This collage displays some favorite things of the season. 
We've just enjoyed two early mornings with dew and much cooler
 temps - a fabulous feeling after such a long spell of heat. 

But the desert calls and soon we'll be feeling the heat again. . . . . .packing 
will not include hefty knitwear, perhaps just a classic cashmere cardigan
to throw over the shoulders evenings when on board the ship.

Best wishes for a lovely early Autumn weekend.
We're heading out of town for an overnight and a visit 
to dear friends. . . . . . then back here to really get on with 
all the things necessary to leave home and travel overseas. . . . . . 
. . . . . . . it's hard work, take my word for it!

Monday, September 16, 2019

A ship in the desert!

Some of you have asked where we are off to next.
I promised to share our upcoming trip so will do so now as time is getting short.
Leaving in early October for exotic places, some old and some new.

This will be another expedition on the Noble Caledonia ship, MS Hebridean Sky.
We were on this same ship last year when we traveled to Patagonia and the 
Chilean Fjords. Passengers usually number around 120 on these smaller
 expedition ships. Again, we'll be with our California friends, meeting up
 with them in London for the flight to Lisbon where the ship will be waiting.

Our itinerary will take us to Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara
 the Cape Verde Islands, and then back to London.

Imperial City of Taroudant, Morocco - past capital of the Saadian dynasty

This trip will include adventures in the Western Sahara desert, one of the least
 populated regions of the world.

What on earth does one wear to tea time in the desert?
Shall I be practical in linen pants and breezy tunic top, or throw caution to the
 desert winds and wear the zebra print kaftan? 
Must throw in a broad-brimmed sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for certain.
A long, silky scarf perhaps, just in case there's a sandstorm brewing and I 
need to wind it around my head!

Laayoune Desert, Western Sahara

Afternoon tea in the desert with a nomadic tribe actually is part of the expedition
(and how I wish my very special 'tea friend' Marilyn in Portland, Oregon could be
 with me to enjoy that). 
Riding to the top of the sand dunes in 4X4 vehicles is also on the itinerary. . .
that long scarf may be required there.

MS Hebridean Sky

Photos via Noble Caledonia

I need help with packing for the Sahara Desert if you've ever been there - or at 
least some suggestions if you want to humor me. . . . . .please!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

'ELEPHANTINE' - and zebra too!

Are you, like me, enjoying a leisurely coffee this cool, at last, Saturday morning?
I'm also munching on a slice of crusty Farmer Bread slathered with butter
and my favorite English marmalade! 
It's the weekend and I'm in 'spoil myself' mode.

Never ready to pass by an attractive bakery/coffee shop, we were thrilled 
to stumble over Elephantine tucked into a tiny alley in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
during our recent visit to New England.
Elephants are much-loved by us having been a huge part of our African safaris.
Anytime I see something elephant-related I must explore!

The story of the bakery, its owners, its name, and how it came to be, is so interesting -
read about it HERE on their website.

Above, the charming owner Nadine with the most beautiful crafted breads and pastries.
I chatted with her about the stunning decor of the retail and seating area space,
 with a few tables and chairs for enjoying a drink and pastry. Bob and I each had an
 almond croissant, the best ever!
Outside, plenty more seating in the alley is an option to relax and
enjoy people watching.

Behind the counter the beautiful black and gold wall covering depicted animals
 and trees, with geometric patterns on adjoining walls, all were amazing . . . . . with
 vintage wood, marble, and brass touches, all blended together making an elegant yet 
colorful and comfortable space. . . . . 

. . . . . and then there was the restroom! 
Zebras cavorting across brilliant red walls, so unexpected and fun.

If ever in Portsmouth, a fun, bustling seaport hugged up to the bridge crossing 
the border with Maine (another favorite state) - don't forget to turn down the
 little alley and head for the elephant sign. 
At Elephantine you will be welcomed warmly by the fragrances of 
fresh baked breads and excellent coffee. . . . . .and friendly people.

Actually, Portsmouth is a place now on that little list I keep tucked away
 in the back of my mind of places I would consider moving to!

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Memoir - Lakeside in Summer

Besides the bold Merrimack River which rushes over falls near the city's
 former world famous textile mills, where the water provided power in those
 long ago manufacturing days, there is a place of calm and beauty at 
Lake Massabesic in Manchester. 

We always stop at least once when in town, and it's especially
lovely on a hot summer's day, sitting on a bench waterside, watching 
sailboats and kayaks silently drift by - no motorboats permitted.
We pick up an ice cream at nearby Goldenrod, the best in town, and sit
 licking the huge cones of 'Frozen Pudding' our favorite old fashioned
 flavor - which we can never find anywhere else these days.
Bob tells me again of his happy childhood days here. They were mostly with
 his older brother John. The things two youngsters could get up to when sent out
 early morning and told not to come home until the street lights came on, would
 scare the heck out of today's parents whose children know very little about
 running free in their suburban neighborhoods, let alone in a bustling city.

This scenic lake is one of those places where one can truly feel relaxed and is
 just a few minutes drive from the cacophony of downtown traffic and bustling
 city sounds.

Manchester, New Hampshire has an extremely interesting history - read more
HERE if interested in the phenomenal growth of the American textile industry, 
sadly now just about gone.

I lived here for a couple years when first married. It was the town where I
 learned how family life was in America. I was fortunate as Bob's parents
 and other family members were close by, and very kind to me, and I needed
 all the help I could get! 
Although the family are gone from town, I enjoy going back and remembering
 those sometimes hard years. They were long ago, yet often feel like yesterday. 
 Sitting and reminiscing at the lake on that recent August day was perfect, and 
I'm thinking we'll be doing it again next year hopefully.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Time Tables -

I love old tables.
Farm tables especially catch my eye and make me want to pull up a chair, 
sit down and run my hand over beautiful aged wood. 
Family histories have often been created around a table. 
A beautiful slab of wood supported on four legs, plain, turned or carved,
can hold history from several generations.
Tables age but seldom wear out, they stand solidly taking the daily knocks,
scratches and dings of life.
They may have been dressed elegantly on special occasions when
 the best ironed linens, china and silverware were used in celebration.
For everyday, a more rustic look with a linen tablecloth draped 
casually can turn the table into a surface for a casual meal, even a
 workspace for writing and creating.

This year I've used the farmhouse style table in my dining room much more
for projects than dining. Currently it's my desk and covered with folders, papers, 
lists, travel itineraries - we'll soon be on the move again to places far away.

The bounty at our favorite pumpkin farm. . . . captured on a lovely Autumn
 afternoon in early October last year.  I'll really miss our annual visit chatting to
 our farm friends and bringing home pumpkins, gourds and squash.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Living it up in the Golden Years!

Allen and 'motorcycle Mary' ready to ride.

I didn't always do as I was told when I was sixteen or so! 
Did you? 
Come on, confess, you know you sometimes broke the rules
 when you were a teenager.

My parents always said, "no riding on motorbikes, far too dangerous."
In the 1950's English boys couldn't afford cars, even my parents never owned a car.
But motorbikes were affordable and a good way to get about town, to work, to play!
Girls queued up for a boyfriend with a motorbike, the bigger and snazzier-looking
 the better the bike. . . . . . . 
. . . . . . . . . not necessarily the boy!

My downfall happened on a summer Saturday night when in town with my girlfriends.
 We would walk along the seafront and stop at a coffee bar to listen to the 
jukebox before heading for the last bus home at 11 o'clock.
Motorbikes would line up outside, engines revving, leathers gleaming, extra helmet
 at the ready for a willing pillion rider. Boys with bikes were show offs - I wonder what
 they drive today, or even if they are able to drive today!

With a little cajoling I hopped aboard Mike's bike - he was nice and I'd known 
him a while. His bike was a powerful, brand new, silver Triumph. Before I
 could change my mind, I was holding on tight and we roared off into the night.
Less than a 10 minute exciting ride home. I told him not to stop in front of my
 house but to drop me in front of another house up the road and I would walk down.
All went perfectly. . . . . . . .until the following Monday when my mother heard from
my French teacher, Miss Taylor, a rather dour spinster who shared the house up
the road with her sister. Her serious comment went something like this.
"Mrs. M. . . . . . .I saw Mary get off the back of a very loud motorbike right outside
my house on Saturday night and just thought you should know."
French class was never the same after that. I was grounded for several weekends.
Later, when I did have a serious boyfriend, I made sure he had a car!

I'm a big girl now, an old girl, and things are different.
Bob and I stopped in at his American Legion Post when in Manchester, NH
 last week. I usually give those places a wide berth, however as it was a dreary
 Saturday afternoon and a local American Legion motorcycle club of mostly 
veterans were cooling off after a run, I went in and we chatted with them for a while. 
A special run coming up in September is to raise money for medical expenses
 for the disabled grandson of a rider named Allen. As we wouldn't be there I gave
 him a donation. . . . .then he offered to take me for a ride!  

I had noticed the bright yellow Gold Wing 'trike' when we arrived and when
he said it was his I thought what the heck, it's now or never - perhaps one last 
chance to ride, and this was safer than a two-wheeled motorbike! 
Bob almost dropped his beer, but didn't try to stop me, and there were
no tattle tale French teachers around!!!

What can I say except that it was interesting and great fun! 
Many people waved to us, including local Police officers!  
Allen must be well known. 
Seeing the city this way was certainly a treat, much
 different than from the inside of a car. 
We even headed out on the highway, south toward Boston for a few
 miles, and Allen opened it up to 65mph, music playing, wind whistling,
 and that 

Would I do it again, you bet I would!  I can add this to my list of what we
older women do for fun, such as zip lining, crossing churning oceans on
 tiny ships, walking with penguins on Antarctica, African safaris etc. etc.

Have you done something exciting recently which took you out of your
 usual comfort zone?
Do tell us about it please.
P.S.  I really wasn't going to share all this nonsense with you, however I see
 my daughter has already posted about her "crazy motorcycle mother" on FaceBook,
and I needed to clarify a few points!