bevanddara

Daily Inspirations and Adventures

Archive for October 2012

Happy Halloween!!

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Written by bevanddara

October 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Pictures from the Park

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I couldn’t leave that poor picture of 2-Putt as our last entry before the weekend.  I hope he’s feeling better!  I, sadly, don’t have any flower pictures to share . . . but I did get the rest of the pictures Ashley took last weekend at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  I’m SUPER thrilled with how they turned out, especially since I hate almost every picture of myself.  These are some of my favorites.

This is typical Mike . . . and Chet is staring down a pigeon (since when did he even pay attention to birds?)

Okay, that’s enough of looking at our faces.  You have to spend some time on Ashley’s Blog.

She was recently ATTENDING a wedding in Kentucky and took some amazing pictures (eventhough she was a guest and should have been enjoying herself!).  I love them.

So proud of you Ash!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Written by bevanddara

October 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

Posted in Dara, Dara's Tid Bits

Poor Pink 2-Putt

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His allergies are back.  Last night I awoke to a strange noise…it was 2-Putt itching his nose by pushing an ottoman from one end of the house to the other.

Aaawwww, poor thing.  In addition to the pink, can you believe how gray he is?

We had to go to a new vet because our regular vet could not see him until next Tuesday.   After a thorough exam, the vet said he actually seems like a 7-year-old, not an eleven year old dog.   Some things she said that might help my granddog’s allergies:

1. Make sure that you use a shampoo that does NOT have soap or detergent on the label.

2. You can use a baby wipe that does not contain alcohol (most do not) to wipe the itchy areas.  This should remove some of the allergen.  This can be done several times each day.

She prescribed prednisone and an antibiotic for Rudolph, and suggested that we start him on a low dose of prednisone in September to prevent this next year.

I know I keep promising a Project Runway review I should probably do it before the new season starts.  Oh no , I ran out of time…All Stars starts tomorrow!  I’m happy because Joanna Coles from Marie Clair will be part of the show.  I really like her.

Thank goodness for Skype so I can keep in touch with you on your world travels.  I can imagine you “being homeless.”

 

Written by bevanddara

October 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Bev, Pets, Project Runway

When I Grow Up . . .

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I would like to do this.

The Let’s-Sell-Our-House- And-See-the-World Retirement

How one couple walked away from all they owned and are putting down new roots— one country at a time.

The Wall Street Journal

By LYNNE MARTIN

I’m 70 years old. My husband, Tim, is 66. For most of our lives, each of us lived and worked in California. Today, our home is wherever we and our 30-inch suitcases are.

In short, we’re senior gypsies. In early 2011 we sold our house in California and moved the few objects we wanted to keep into a 10-by-15-foot storage unit. Since then, we have lived in furnished apartments and houses in Mexico, Argentina, Florida, Turkey, France, Italy and England. In the next couple of months, we will live in Ireland and Morocco before returning briefly to the U.S. for the holidays.

As I write this, we have settled into a darling one-bedroom apartment a hundred yards from the River Thames, a 25-minute train ride from the heart of London. We have a knack for moving in. Within a few minutes of plunking down our belongings in new digs, we have made it our own: The alarm clock is beside the bed; my favorite vegetable peeler and instant-read thermometer are in the kitchen; and our laptop computers are hooked up and humming. Together we begin learning how to make the appliances cooperate.

Given all that, I suppose a better way to describe us is gypsies who like to put down roots. At least for a month or two.

Why we’re doing this is simple: My husband and I—in a heart-to-heart conversation during a trip to Mexico—realized that both of us are happier when we’re on the road. We enjoy excellent health and share a desire to see the world in bigger bites than a three-week vacation allows. The notion of living like the locals in other countries thrilled us, and after almost 18 months of living “home free,” we are still delighted with our choice. Even a “cocooning” day is more interesting in Paris or Istanbul.

How we’re doing this is more complicated. But we think our plan would work for many retirees with a reasonably healthy nest egg. A budget on the road—as in a stationary life—depends on how a person prioritizes expenditures and what kind of lifestyle he or she wishes to pursue. Someone who needs a large wardrobe or thrives on giving lavish dinner parties wouldn’t find our life appealing. (Rented places seldom offer much in the way of attractive dinnerware.)

We certainly have moments when we question our sanity. Being up to our knees in water, completely lost in the middle of a torrential rainstorm in Istanbul, or discovering that we have locked ourselves out on a third-floor Paris balcony does give us pause.

But we’ve learned three things. First, coping with new situations and making complicated travel plans even as we’re on the road keep us sharp.

Second, we aren’t alone. We meet fellow retirees on a regular basis, some who are taking extended vacations, others who are leading a life similar to ours, and some who have settled permanently overseas. A man I met early on in our travels said to me, “There are a lot of us out there who have figured it out.”

Third and most important, the rewards far outweigh the risks. The moments when we glance out “our” living-room window at Florence’s skyline or turn a corner in “our” neighborhood and see the tip of the Eiffel Tower winking at us make the scary times worthwhile.

Becoming international nomads sounded appealing, but we first had to find a way to afford such a lifestyle. Serious number-crunching showed that selling our home in California would allow us to live comfortably almost anyplace in the world. Not having property taxes or a roof that needs fixing can pay for a lot of train rides.

A few specifics about money. Our financial adviser sends us about $6,000 a month, generated from investments. We also collect Social Security and a small pension. We have a “slush fund” of about $20,000, which allows us to make advance deposits—for housing, cruises, flights, hotels and so forth—without affecting our cash flow.

We follow some simple strategies to keep our budget in line. Stays in more expensive locations, like Paris or London, are balanced by living in less pricey countries like Mexico, Turkey or Portugal. We dine out several times a week but eat at home much of the time. I like to cook, and food shopping is a great way to learn about a country. (Finding baking soda in Buenos Aires isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds.)

People certainly could live on less than we do. Accommodations are a good place to start; the cost of rentals overseas varies considerably with size, season, location and amenities.

And when all else fails, walking and gawking are free everywhere.

Although we have used airplanes, trains, buses, taxis, cars and ferries, our favorite means of transportation is now trans-Atlantic repositioning voyages.

When cruise lines move their ships seasonally, they offer big discounts. Not many people can spare several weeks in the off-season to cross the ocean. But it’s perfect for us because we not only reach our destination, but we also are housed, fed and pampered for more than two weeks each time. Traveling by ship, we arrive in sync with local time and get a quick peek at interesting places that we probably wouldn’t choose for an extended visit.

We are not married to any particular cruise line. Tim shops for the best deal he can find that fits into our schedule, although we sometimes schedule around the cruises. Prices vary. In May, our Atlantic crossing—16 nights with an ocean-view room—cost about $2,500 for the two of us. That included all of our food, and a wine package for me. Our return trip in November from Barcelona to Miami with the same cruise line will cost about the same.

Our repositioning bookings extend into 2014 and form the base from which the rest of our travels plans will grow. At the moment, we have reservations for next year to live in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. We are already confirmed for a Paris apartment for June/July 2014.

In our experience, vrbo.com and homeaway.com are the most reliable sources for short-term rentals. They offer a wide range of properties to fit almost any budget, and because we usually stay at least a month in each place, we can sometimes negotiate a slightly better deal.

We have had the best luck renting properties whose owners live locally. They offer information about transportation and shopping, grant reasonable special requests and are usually quick to correct any shortcomings. When I mentioned to our apartment owner in Paris that the pots and pans were a bit tired, she appeared the very next day with a new set of cookware and two wonderful stainless-steel frying pans.

Of course, challenges await us at each destination. A partial list: learning how to negotiate the grocery-store routine; using local transportation; connecting to the Internet; getting decent haircuts; operating heating and cooling systems; deciphering exotic DVD players.

Producing meals in an unfamiliar kitchen is often a particular challenge; microwave instructions in French or Turkish can considerably delay meal preparation, And every washer/dryer we encounter presents a whole new group of mysterious settings.

Connecting with people we would never have encountered in our regular lives is the most thrilling part of our lifestyle.

In Paris, my favorite neighborhood cheese vendor chose a slice of Brie that he guaranteed would melt perfectly at the precise time our guests arrived, and it did; we met two brilliant young Serbian educators and an internationally known Italian poet at a dinner party on a terrace overlooking Florence; and the owner of a gorgeous 16th-century hotel where we were staying in Kusadasi, Turkey, whiled away an afternoon with me playing fast and furious backgammon. Such moments make the uncomfortable times—like being stuck in a London traffic jam while still learning to drive a stick-shift car on the left side—more than worthwhile.

We also enjoy the freedom of not being weighed down by our “things.” Indeed, one of the benefits of living home-free is that people we meet on the road are interested in us and could care less about our house, our antiques, our art or other possessions. It’s a remarkably forthright way to relate to others.

Most days we’re up by 8 a.m., and we read our newspapers online with our coffee. If it’s a “tourist” day, we try to get out in the morning before the crowds fill up the museum, historic site or event we’re bound for. Sometimes we just attend to life with grocery or clothes shopping, or catching up on our laundry and our reading.

Strolling along the Thames on the way to have a haircut turns a mundane chore into an event, and many times we enjoy a chat with an interesting stranger along the way. My husband devotes some time every day to making travel plans for the future and writing a novel, and I try to work regularly on my blog, homefreeadventures.com. Many evenings we watch our favorite shows or a movie we’ve rented online, and we usually stay up too late, just as we used to do at home.

Since we have eliminated homeownership, we have few bills to pay. We use an online bill-paying service, and we buy almost everything by credit card so we can rack up mileage rewards. One of our daughters receives the mail, which has dwindled to almost nothing.

A good Internet connection is essential. Our computers link us with family and friends, help us plan future travels, and are our source of entertainment in places where movies and television in English are elusive. Each of us has a laptop and an iPhone, and our Kindles house our library and travel books.

We have Medicare and supplemental plans, and when we return to the U.S., we see our doctors for annual checkups. We also have international health insurance covering medical emergencies and evacuations. The plan has a big deductible to help reduce our overhead, since our experiences with health-care providers abroad have been very positive. For instance, Tim awoke one morning in Mexico with raging flu symptoms. A doctor was at his bedside within the hour, administered an injection and gave us a prescription. He charged about $50, and Tim recovered quickly.

Of course, we miss our family and friends terribly, but they have forgiven us for leaving and welcome us enthusiastically when we rent a house near them for a visit. Even our financial adviser has grudgingly admitted that our plan is working well.

For us, giving up 2,500 square feet of gracious California living for a 500-square-foot apartment in Paris or Istanbul is more than a fair trade-off. In place of our heavy-duty gas stove, big-name pots and pans and enormous refrigerator, we now find ourselves using Barbie-size sinks, bar fridges and some pretty sketchy cookware. We share bathrooms with one sink and watch movies on a 13-inch computer screen.

At the same time, we enjoy lunches where the paté comes from heaven, drives through the luscious French countryside where even the cows are beautiful, and strolls along the Arno River in Italy for our after-dinner exercise.

We don’t plan to quit until the wheels fall off.

Written by bevanddara

October 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

Fall in Florida

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We also had great weather last weekend.  It was so nice, I couldn’t be inside.  My yard looks so much better for the effort, and I can now describe each and every muscle I have, since I used and can feel each one.

Besides the start of months of spectacular weather, October also brings Halloween. Halloween is the biggest holiday celebration in Florida.  I guess it is bigger than Christmas because all of us natives leave the state, and all the people who visit are at Disney. Judy (who hosts us for sewing on Tuesdays) and her husband (our valet) Mike are very creative and skilled craftspeople.  Here are the OUTSIDE Halloween decorations:

 

Can you believe a witch flew into one of the trees?

This is my favorite, the noses light up at night.

Mike has crafted all of these.  I think Judy paints the works of art (in addition to supervising.)  She does hang a quilt by the front door.  This one cracks me up!

We are stocking up on candy, dog biscuits and carrots (for horses) for next week.

My granddog may be a ham, but he is very, very cute!

Written by bevanddara

October 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Bev, Bev's Tid Bits

It’s Not About the Bike

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Lance Armstrong may have cheated during the Tour de France races he won . . . but he also cheated death . . . something that only people who have gone through the same journey can relate to. For now, though, people are focused on the bad part of his story (of course, because that’s what media does) . . . but I hope that (after all of this dies down) he will always be thought of and remembered as a cancer survivor and advocate. He gives people, battling FOR THEIR LIFE, a hero and a reason to keep fighting and living each day. I know my friend, Mike O’Brien, feels the same way . . . for he is a cancer survivor and was deeply impacted by Lance’s efforts.  He wrote the following on his Facebook page last night and I had to share it with you.
 
Lance Armstrong won his seventh Tour de France on Sunday, July 24, 2005. I began chemotherapy the following day.
 
I remember watching highlights of his win in the hospital, an IV in my arm.I was disoriented. There was a real possibility I would die.

I was given Lance’s book “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” and I read it faster than I’ve ever read a book…

“You can’t know it yet,” a survivor told him, “but we are the lucky ones.”(It’s true, by the way).
 
The book provided the boost of motivation and determination I needed.Here was a guy who did it. He won. And then he won the Tour de France seven times.

He not only survived. He came back stronger.

I could.

I would.

His story inspired my fight.

Months later, after I had completed chemotherapy, there were indications some cancer was still in my body.

My oncologist wanted to operate. Invasively.

My incredible father took the initiative to call Larry Einhorn — because Einhorn was the oncologist who treated Lance Armstrong.

Larry Einhorn’s nurse spent hours reviewing my case and talking with us, ultimately advising me that the additional surgery my doctor wanted to perform was not yet necessary, and may turn out to not be necessary at all.

That second opinion changed the course of my life.

When I presented this opinion to my oncologist – she immediately changed her opinion to match it. “Einhorn said that? Okay.”

No surgery.

Over time, what they thought was remaining cancer in my body dissolved and eventually was not visible on the CT scans.

Within one year my oncologist stunned me with the word “cured.”

And I’m back.

Seven years on I haven’t won a Tour de France.

But I sometimes ride a bike.

And I sometimes run.

And I play soccer.

And mostly I try to appreciate my health.

To appreciate what I have and the fact that I’m alive.

It could have ended differently.

So, was his athletic accomplishment a fraud?

Perhaps.

Did his story change my life?

Yes. In no small way it may have saved it.

And my point?

For me, It Was Never About The Bike.

But really, it was never about him at all.

What he inspired in me was already there.

And that’s what sports do. That’s what athletes do.

They inspire.

Nothing more.

Written by bevanddara

October 23, 2012 at 8:33 am

Perfect Fall Weather Weekend

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This weekend, the weather was perfection. The sky was sunny and the temp was in the mid 60s.  It was so nice to be at home and able to enjoy it.

Friday night we had some friends over for “cake before steak” (I made this cake, into cupcakes and didn’t add the coconut) for my strawberry-loving husband’s birthday!

Then we all headed next door to Peter Luger’s.

Where he had his second cake, of course . . . 🙂

Saturday morning was spent at the Brooklyn Bridge Park with Mike, Chet and Ash.  This girl has more equipment than anyone I know!

But she sure does know how to use it. 🙂

Your granddog is such a ham.

Saturday afternoon was spent sweating our butts off at Soul Cycle with Katie . . . and then putting all of the calories back on at Blue Smoke with Jon and Wray.

Sunday morning we went over to Marine Park to play 18 (I shot the ball on the right in for a birdie 🙂 ).

The weekend was capped off with pizza and wine and watching the Pats (narrowly) win against the Jets!  Hope you had a nice weekend!

Written by bevanddara

October 22, 2012 at 10:04 am