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And All the Rest

    And All the Rest

    Can You hear Me Now?

    Chapter Seven – No wifi

    Can You Hear Me Now?

    We haven’t had wifi in the Seychelles and as a result we have been spending a small fortune on data.  It’s currently our only way to connect.  I’ve been typing my blogs in text edit so as not to use data while developing the blog, then when I’m ready I cut and paste.  But it still uses data as does every time I check Facebook.  Talking to my kids who are both still abroad also requires data – Dane is in Germany and Erik in Burkina Faso.  We started a four-way chat on WhatsApp – using data.

    Arne used FaceTime to have a video chat with all of his pledge class brothers at their five-year Sigma Chi MIT reunion the other day.  That was well worth the money.  I used WhatsApp to check in with my wonderful book club while we were in New Zealand and Thailand too.

    Up until the Seychelles we were calling the United States frequently, using the Text Now app.  With wifi it gave us free-calling to the United States.  So we have been able to call family and check in, call friends on their birthdays and I even got to call in to the Martini Mamas.  But this only works for calls to the US – and here in the Seychelles it devours our data.

    Of course we will call our Moms on Mothers Day.  Even if that uses data.  It’s just one of the unexpected expenses of our Grand Adventure.  But keeping in touch is important to us.

    Can you hear me now?

    And All the Rest

    Living Climate Change

    Chapter Seven

    A pattern has emerged.  I’m not sure why I am surprised but I am.  A pattern of climate change has emerged in our travels.

    I am not a scientist, a climatologist, or a meteorologist.  Just a travel girl who observes.

    And the observation is, everywhere we have traveled in the past five and half months the locals have lamented on the unusual weather.  Including here in sunny Seychelles.

    In Thailand we saw some incredible and unseasonal floods.  In Vietnam it was rain and unusual chill.  In New Zealand they bemoaned the fact that they never got a summer.  Well, I guess they did for one week.  And here in the Seychelles, the rainy season has arrived earlier than is normal.

    What is normal?  Is there a normal when we speak of the weather anymore?  I know my friends back home have experienced one of the snowiest winters followed by one of the wettest springs on record.  That’s not normal.  Or is it the new normal?

    Even those who used to dispel climate change as fact are coming around to the reality.  Even though they still don’t believe it’s human caused.  It’s hard for me, as a travel observer, to look at a glacier in New Zealand that has receded ten miles in the past century, (since the industrial revolution and the burning of fossil fuels began) and not connect the two.  That seems pretty easy to see – for normal people anyway.

    So our travels continue.  The world continues to spin.  The naysayers continue to argue.  And I continue to observe.  It will be interesting to see how the summer develops.

    And All the Rest

    New Feature on the Website

    You asked for it!

    We have a lot of new readers – welcome!  And thanks for your comments and input. As a result we’ve added a new feature.

    For those of you who read the blog on a smartphone (most of you) now you will see a “Topics” list at the top of the page. It’s now easier to find past blogs on topics of interest.  PC or Laptop uses have always had this option

    Check it out and thanks for the suggestions to help us always improve your experience enjoying My Fab Fifties Life!

    Please share our blog with your friends!  Thank you.


    And All the Rest

    Laundry Lessons

    Chapter Six

    My friend Ruth asked me recently how the heck are we dealing with laundry and suggested a blog on this topic.  Okay so you want to know about laundry?  Next to the lack of toilet paper it’s probably the single thing that has taken the most adjusting to on our grand adventure.

    Just like at home, laundry is constant.  But in our lifestyle you learn to wear things a few more times than you might back home when the washer and dryer are so handy.  When we were in Asia there were many local laundry services where, for about five dollars, we could have our laundry done by

    Laundry drying in the cab of the van

    someone else.  It was cheap and they did such a wonderful job.  Not only did they wash and dry but they IRONED AND FOLDED!  Oh my goodness I got so spoiled.  When we didn’t have enough for a full load I would do hand wash and hang the laundry around the room or outside to dry when possible.

    Drying rack at one of the airbnb’s

    As a matter of fact at the campground we recently stayed at in Milford Sound was the first dryer I had seen in nearly four months.  Dryers are really an American cultural thing.  Everyone else hangs their laundry out to dry.  Even here in New Zealand the air is very dry and things dry quickly.

    Part of the Grand Adventure is learning to deal with the situation at hand with the tools available at the moment. And that is true with laundry too.  It’s one more thing that makes me realize how spoiled we are as American’s with our conveniences we take for granted – not just washers and dryers but hot water, and running water from a tap.  Where we find washers here they are usually small and compact and efficient – not the behemoth machines Americans have that fill a special room in our houses dedicated specifically to the task.

    Do we really need all that to be happy?

    I don’t.  Wash my panties in the sink and move on.  I’m happy with that.  There is too many other things that are so much more important.


    And All the Rest  --  Family and Friends  --  Travel Around the World

    Marking the Monumental Moments

    Chapter Six- A Big Week

    This week is always a monumental one in My Fab Fifties Life.  Each year my husband and I mark the day we met.  March 27th, 1975.  It’s a very important date in our relationship and it never passes on the calendar without some recognition on our part.  It used to a big deal to say “wow we’ve known each other for 20 years” .  But now its just plain amusing to think of all we have done and been through together over the past 42 years.  We usually just turn and grin at each other and one of us will say “who’da thunk?”

    42 years.  Yep.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    So in addition to our annual marking of that day, this week we also mark four months on the road.  I hardly can believe it.  Time is neither flying by or slog’n by-  it just is.  We are well settled into our new lifestyle and feel comfortable and confident.  Mostly we are present.  Not really looking ahead too far just being and enjoying each miraculous day.  And each day is miraculous.  Not just the days where we do something spectacular like visit a Hmong Village or Hike 17 miles or spend the day on a sunny beach.  Those days are wonderful but its the little miracles we enjoy like hot coffee on a crystal clear cold New Zealand morning.  Or a thunderous rainstorm that blackens the midday sky in Koh Samui.  Or listening to the melody of a bird you can’t see but can only hear. Or me winning scrabble – for once!

    It’s the little moments of the past four months and the past 42 years that make a life well lived.  Not just living the moments but realizing, relishing and respecting them.  That is fabulous.

    And All the Rest

    My Fab Fifties Reading Wednesdays

    Frequently I am asked by readers and friends what I am reading.  I love this question, because I am always reading.  The only time I am not reading is when I am in a car or other vehicle on the road.  I have always gotten motion sickness from trying to read in a car – so instead during those times I work on my cross stitch.

    Back before I retired reading was more of a luxury.  I never seemed to have the time.  When I retired I made reading a priority.  And now with our travels, there is even more time to read.  In the past 13 weeks I have read 21 books – some longer than others – some better than others.  But 21 books in 13 weeks is definitely a record for me. Averaging about 1.5 a week.

    I’ve been thinking about a way I can share my love of reading with the readers of this blog and I’ve decided to do a weekly update or “book of the week”.  That way My Fab Fifties Friends can join in my personal book club – if you want.  So today I am posting a blog about the 21 books I have read so far, giving them a rating and a brief description of each.

    Then starting next week, each Wednesday I will tell you what I am reading.  So if the book club is of interest to you, you can make a point to check the blog on “Reading Wednesday”.

    Only two of the books below were in paperback form.  All the rest I read on my phone in the Kindle App.  But only one of these books I purchased.  All the rest I downloaded from either the Pierce County Public Library or the Kitsap Public Library.  I have accounts with both library systems and at any given time I am on a waitlist for at least half-dozen books.  So the order in which I read is more the result of the library books availability than anything.  When none of my waitlist books are available, I go in search of titles I may never have heard of.  This is how I found some of my favorite reads including “These is My Words”, “97 Orchard Street” and “The Secret History”.

    So – welcome to My Fab Fifties Book Club and Reading Wednesday.  Here we go;

    1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I loved this book that followed a multi-generation family from the East Coast find their way out west and build an often difficult life there.  Wallace Stegner has many books and this was the very first of his I have read.  I plan to read more.

    2. Bangkok Secret by Anthony Gray⭐️⭐️

    I read this book primarily because I was in Thailand, and it did give me some interesting insight and history about the country, but the writing and plot was a bit predictable.

    3.  Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I enjoyed reading Wohlleben’s  thoughts on trees and their lives and personality, although the book was a bit more technical and scientific than I would normal go for, but still I recommend it for it’s unique and interesting observations about trees on our planet.

    4.  Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I really enjoyed this book, which was one of my book club back home’s books of the month.  Jodi Picoult has so many novels I can’t imagine why I have never read her.  She does a really good job in her writing creating a mystery to be solved and keeping you turning the page.  “Leaving Time” follows a young girl looking for answers about her mother’s disappearance and the life she can barely remember as a toddler in an elephant camp.  I enjoyed the interesting details about elephants in this book as well as the wonderful twist at the end.

    5.  Today Will be Different by Maria Semple ⭐️⭐️

    This book was one my book club back home was reading.  If it wasn’t for that fact, I may not have finished it.  This is the second book by Maria Semple I have read (Where’d You Go Bernadette?) and I was not enamored either time.  I found the main character in “Today Will be Different” to be difficult to like.  I personally don’t care for the female characters Maria Semple creates who seem always to be needy and addled.  However, if you liked “Where’d You Go Bernadette” you will probably enjoy “Today Will Be Different”.

    6.  The Mothers by Brit Bennett⭐️⭐️

    I chose this book because it had excellent reviews, but it fell a bit flat for me.  The story is about women in a tight-knit Baptist community who follow the births and deaths and in particular the stories of the women in this small town and their trials and tribulations over a period of years.

    7.  The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Another book from Book Club back home, “The Little Paris Bookshop” is full of interesting twists, crazy characters and sometimes a bit too many coincidences, but I loved the story and it was an easy and quick read.

    8.  I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb (no stars)

    I did not like this book.  The story was convoluted and not in the least believable.  Don’t waste your time.

    9.  These Is My Words by Nancy Turner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I loved this story about a family of pioneers in the Southwest scraping a living, barely, in the 1800’s.  Told from the point of view of a young girl whose English is rough and uneducated, her language and vocabulary changes with her as she matures and endures over the years.  A lovely story.

    10. 97 Orchard Street by Jane Ziegelman⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I stumbled on this book and found it just fascinating – my love of food and history made this non-fiction book about immigrants and how their food changed the American diet was wonderfully written, educational and mouth-watering.  An edible feast.  If you are a foodie, you will love this book.

    11. Lady Susan by Jane Austen⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Well who doesn’t love Jane Austen?  This is one of Jane’s shorter and less known stories and was another book for my Book Club back home.  I read this book in one day and as in all Jane stories I loved the English story of class and culture and traditions in the 18th century.  And in true Jane form – everyone who deserves to, lives happily ever after.

    12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    This book popped up on my Kindle “you might like” list so I downloaded it and read it with gusto.  A crazy story about five friends in college and the serious choices they make and how their lives are changed by it.  Some parts unbelievable, and some more so, the story is a page turner though and I loved it.

    13.  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I thought I would love this book, since I had just read her earlier novel “The Secret History” but did not.  It wasn’t terrible, certainly not, but it seemed to drag on for me and was too complicated and not always believable.  The story of a young boy and his exploits from a terrorist attack in New York City to Russian Mafia in Las Vegas and a whole lot in between had me wishing she would wrap it up.

    14.  The Turner House by Angela Flournoy ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    A story of a family’s history, addiction, devotion and more, The Turner House opens wide the skeletons in our closet and how family will always endure.  The ending fell a bit flat.

    15.  Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    One of my top reads so far.  Tulip Fever is set in Amsterdam in the 1600’s when the tulip industry was just getting off the ground and speculation was rampant.  In the story a young girl is married to a much older man, but when they sit for a portrait she falls in love with the artist.  Then ensues a complicated tale of lies and deception that changes the lives of multiple people, some for the better, others not.  A really lovely story.

    16.  Michlings by Affinity Konar⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    My top read so far since leaving home.  An amazing eye-opening story of the real life “medical” experiments on human beings that took place during the holocaust on children at Auschwitz.  Much of this story is difficult to read, but a reminder to all of us what horrors people are capable of given the opportunity.  A must read.

    17. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I was expecting something more from this book.  I’m not sure why but I thought this book was going to help me understand more some of the political views of a segment of the American population I am not really familiar with.  I suppose in a way it did, but this real life story of a boy growing up in a self-proclaimed hillbilly family was more about his survival against all odds in what was most decidedly not the “all-American” family.   I liked it but didn’t love it.

    18.  Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Many years ago I read Anne Tyler’s “Accidental Tourist” but had never read anything more from her.  “Spool of Blue Thread” is one of last years best sellers, but I had not found the time for it yet.  Since it’s more than a year old, I didn’t need to waitlist it, so it seemed like a good option.  Boy was it!  I really loved this story – another epic family tale with twists and turns bringing the characters to life in a way that made you love them all.  A wonderful story about growing up, growing old and figuring out who you are.

    19.  War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells⭐️⭐️

    For some reason I had never read this science fiction story, about “Martians” invading our planet.  It seemed like a good time to tackle it.  I enjoyed the story, although it felt very dated (and it is, written in 1897) but still violent and funny all at once.  No doubt George Lucas took some cues from the descriptions in this book before he created Star Wars.  A classic everyone should read at some time.

    20.  The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    One of my all time favorite plays this comedy of errors is just as good of a read as a play.  Oscar Wilde’s classic English tale will have you rolling in the aisle – a perfectly light and humorous read after “War of the Worlds”.

    21 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Last summer I read my first Neil Gaiman book “American Gods” and it quickly shot to the top of my all time favs.  So I decided to try out some of his other works.  Gaiman is known for his fantasy, mystical and magical stories and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is certainly one of those.  A small boy of only seven experiences a frightening and yet magical event that includes his unusual neighbors, a monstrous nanny and mystical creatures and events that change his life forever.

    So there you have it.  My first 21 books on the Grand Adventure.  I hope you find some of these suggestions useful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts after reading any of these books.  I’m just now starting the books “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson.  So plan on checking in next Wednesday and see what I think.

    Enjoy a book today!  Reading is Fabulous!

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    Vietnam Farewell

    Ending Chapter Five in Laos

    We are marking three months on the road with our departure from Vietnam. After 28 days we say farewell to Vietnam. Tomorrow we fly to Laos.

    We will only be in Laos for nine days, six of those will be spent on board a boat on the Mekong River with 20 other passengers. I am very much looking forward to this experience and the sun that is forecast. No doubt it will generate a blog or two.

    Woman spinning in Mai Chau

    At the end of our time in Laos we close Chapter Five- Southeast Asia, and turn the page. Chapter Six is six weeks in New Zealand!

    At the three-month mark we have settled in to the

    Textile art in Mai Chau

    lifestyle, behaving less like tourists and more like locals.  I am surprised by a few things – finding a place to run has been hard and it is not happening as often as I would like.  Cooking has actually

    Photo of old woman from Vietnam Women’s Museum

    proved more expensive than eating out, so I am not cooking as much as I thought I would.  That will likely change in New Zealand.

    Flowers on the back of a bicycle

    We regularly take a day or two to do nothing. Hanging out, working on the computer and reading. I like these days and do not need to be on the go all the time.

    I try to blog a couple of times a week and just submitted my next story for my column “Travel Bug” to West Sound Home & Garden Magazine.

    We have been amazingly healthy.  We both had a tummy issue in Thailand that was brief and a cold here in Hanoi only lasted a few days.  Feeling great.

    We tell our travel story to people we meet who all stare at us mouth agape at our plans. Why it seems so unachievable to most people but not to us still baffles me.

    Bridge in Hanoi

    We are under budget thanks in part to how inexpensive everything in SE Asia is. A beer costs about $1.  A manicure is about $3. Dinner for three people, $15 or less.

    We track our expenses very closely right down to

    On the boat in Halong Bay

    taxis and tips. It helps us see where we are spending and where we can improve.

    I will say once again that our choice to live this life is not for everyone. We are living much less

    A common sight on the busy streets of Hanoi

    expensively than we did back home. We do not have a house to update and maintain. We do not have a yard to spend thousands of dollars on each year. We are not entertaining as we used to (which I of course loved to do but also spent tons of money on). No

    Young girls in traditional dress, rice paddies of Mai Chau

    cars, boats or even lawn mowers to put gas in, maintain and purchase tabs for.  I haven’t had a haircut since August. I don’t buy shoes and clothes or even gifts. But I know some people couldn’t give all that up. And that’s okay. We did – for now at

    Floating village family Halong Bay


    When asked Arne always tells people that if we make it to the sixth month mark he thinks we can make it to the six – year mark. My answer is a bit different – as long as we are having fun then I can continue.

    And we are. We spend nearly every waking hour together and get along better than we ever have.

    Night view from our apartment in Hanoi

    There is nearly no stress, nothing to argue about or disagree about. It’s working.

    So it’s farewell to beautiful Vietnam and hello to Laos. I’m looking forward to a bit of a change of scenery and learning something new – I know so little about Laos. So it will be an adventure.

    A Grand Adventure!

    Thank you for following!  Please share and tell your friends!  ❤

    Note- I have been asked to write about the books I have been reading (currently reading book #18) and I’ve also been asked to write more about how Airbnb works. I promise to both in the near future.