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Laureen

    Everything Else Fabulous

    We are back – New and Improved

    Starting 2018 with Upgrades for the Blog

    Location: My Fab Fifties Life

    Over the past month we have been working hard on some upgrades to My Fab Fifties Life and now with the new year we are back fresh and new!

    Most of the changes, you as a reader will not be aware of, as the changes are technical and behind the scenes. But there is one important change you will notice.  My Fab Fifties Life now has all new categories/topics, creating a more user friendly blog.

    We have removed several categories that were no longer  relevant as My Fab Fifties Life has evolved.  But most importantly we have created new topics for all the travel blogs based on world regions.  A much simpler and easier to use system.

    If you are new to My Fab Fifties Life you can look at the topics and click on regions of interest such as Fab Africa Travel or Fab North America Travel. If you are a long time follower and now you are planning a trip, say to Croatia, you can click on Fab Europe Travel, put Croatia in the search bar and pull up everything we have written on that topic.

    And if you have been away from the blog for a spell (shame on you!) you can click on Fab Asia Travel and catch up on where we are right now!

    You’ll notice in addition to the travel categories there is still Fabulous Reading Wednesday (because I love to read) and Fab Food (because I love food!).  Also the My Fab Fifties Life junk drawer category (everyone needs a junk drawer) Everything Else Fabulous.

    To find our categories go to the TOPICS drop down box at the top of this page.  Or if you are on  a PC or laptop the topics are also listed on the right column.

    Easy and quick and more reader friendly.

    We’ve also made some upgrades to the photo library to help present the photos better in each blog.

    If you follow on Facebook you’ll notice some new videos related to the blogs and a new cover shot each time we visit a new country. If you are following our Instagram account you will see even more beautiful photos and videos daily.

    We want to keep you engaged and enjoying the work we do with My Fab Fifties Life.

    So we have a few favors to ask of you- our valued followers. First and most important are you receiving the blog in your email inbox?  Because if you are relying on Facebook only, then you are only seeing about a quarter of our blog posts. I encourage you (beg, plead) to sign up right now to get My Fab Fifties Life via email. It’s easy to do – if you are reading this on a mobile device there is a email sign up at the bottom of this post. If you are reading this on a PC or laptop there is an email sign up in the upper right hand corner.  I would be very grateful for your support via email.

    Are you on Pinterest? We are building our presence on that valuable search engine tool and expanding
    our reach through Pinterest is one of our new goals. Please pin and repin our blogs as often as you can which would help us a lot. Just hover on any photo in any My Fab Fifties Life blog and you will get the Pinit save button. Snap it’s done.

    We encourage you to coment inside the blog, rather than on the Facebook comment section. This is another way My Fab Fifties Life gets pushed to the top of the very crowded Google ladder.

    Next month My Fab Fifties life celebrates its 5th Birthday! My baby is growing up!  Thanks to all of you for your help and support. It takes a village and you are my village!  Fabulous!

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly


    Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    First of all the name of this book is all wrong. But luckily that didn’t matter much. It’s a good, but not fantastic story based on real events, exceptional women and survival. I was on a long wait list for this book so I expected a bit more from it.

    Kelly takes the reader on a journey, following three women from distinctly different backgrounds during World War II.  Herta a young German doctor trying to prove herself as both a doctor and a woman.  Kasia a young Polish women and a member of the resistance in Nazi occupied Poland.  And Caroline Ferriday a real women whose bravery and work to right injustice is little known in the USA. Caroline is a wealthy American woman of French ancestry fighting the war from the states the only way she can- by volunteering, processing French immigrants, helping get children out of Europe and collecting money from her wealthy circle of “friends”.

    The separate paths of these women will collide, but before that happens each of these women will make decisions that lead to regret in ways none of them could have ever foreseen as happy young girls growing up.

    Lilac Girls, much like the book Mischling I read last year, will open your eyes to the horrors of Nazi Germany and the far reaching effects of racial cleansing and Arian supremacy.

    Although based on a real life woman (Ferriday) the other characters are a conglomeration of real and fictional women.  The story dragged a bit towards the end but I appreciated the ending and the photos from Ferriday’s personal collection. Only at the end of the book are lilacs even mentioned. I found the title completely ridiculous, and a better title I believe would create more interest in what is another interesting WWII novel.

    The Lilac Girls 4 stars

     

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Observations from an American Abroad

    The Funny Things the Travel Books Don’t Mention

    Location: An American Abroad

    Observations from an American Abroad (or things the travel books don’t mention). I’m very observant.  My husband ignores me for the most part because I’m always asking out-loud questions like – who the x%#&  is in charge of determining time zones?  Why are there no cats in South Africa?  Where is the mango gelato?  Very important stuff.  But as a full-time traveler, and an American abroad, certain observations stand out to me in this nomad life.  Some just don’t make sense – no matter how hard I try to understand.  For instance;

    KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN – What the hell is up with KFC?  Everywhere we go, in every country,
    Kentucky Fried Chicken is far more prominent than Starbucks or McDonalds.  Now I’ve had my share of “finger liken good” over the years.  Sure it’s good at a summer BBQ.  But as an American abroad I can’t comprehend why is it so popular around the world?  I totally believe there are far fewer Kentucky Fried Chicken stores in Kentucky than in Cape Town South Africa and most other big cities we’ve been to.  I don’t get it.

    Which brings me to another iconic American brand – THE NEW YORK YANKEES.  Since we landed in Bangkok at the beginning of this odyssey I have
    noticed and wondered about the phenomenon that is the NY Yankees baseball cap.  There are more NY caps outside of the USA than in it (well, I’m speculating, but I feel pretty confident based on my “scientific” research).  Absolutely everywhere we have traveled since day one I have seen people donning the cap.  At first I was like “well okay, maybe they are also Americans abroad.”  It didn’t take long though to realize these are not tourists.  That logo has some American symbolism for people around the world.  In fact, our tour guide in Namibia wore one.  I asked him if he was a fan.  He didn’t know anything about the team – he said he just thought the logo was cool.  And, I admit it, it is a cool logo – but there are lots of cool logos out there.  For me personally I like the Starbucks logo, NBC News, Nike and of course Washington State University.  Then there is the AMAZING City of Gig Harbor logo (a bit biased here). But still New York Yankees?  Just weird.

    As weird as it is that the Yankees cap is a major fashion statement world-wide – it’s even weirder that there are only three countries IN THE WORLD who are not on the metric system: The United States, Myanmar and Liberia.  Yeah we are in good company – way-to-go-USA!  This American abroad says time to make the switch people, I mean really, how backward can we be?

    More crazy backward stuff I’ve noticed includes the dozens of different electric outlet styles.  What a giant pain in the ass.  We carry with us many ADAPTORS adding several pounds (err….kilos) to our luggage.  And for some cray cray reason South Africa has its very own.  Just an entire special South African version.  I suppose it’s a little late, but wouldn’t some universal system have made life a lot easier for everyone – or at least for me? Call me demanding.

    Since we are talking about differences in designs, it’s always a surprise wherever we go, to see WHAT KIND OF FLUSHER you’re going to get.  Some times it’s a push handle like in the USA.  Sometimes its on top of the tank and you push, or on top of the tank and you pull up.  Some times it gets wild and crazy and it’s on the wall behind the loo or even a chain above.  And then there is that hose sprayer you find often attached to the toilet.  I really try not to think about what that’s for.  (Oh well, at least most places HAVE flushers these days…)

    And as long as we are on this bathroom topic – there will be DIARRHEA.  It happens.  End of rant.

    BEETS are very popular in most countries and I like beets too. But don’t order beets cause no one will know what you are asking for. Around the world these bulbous beauties are known as beetroot.  Zucchini is courgette, eggplant is aubergine, cilantro is coriander and fries are chips.  Cake is pudding, cookies are digestives, and potato chips are crisps.

    Sheets.  Yes I mean BED SHEETS.  It’s just really not a thing in most countries.  There is always a covering on the mattress (sometimes fitted, sometimes not) but there is very rarely a top sheet.  Rather just a duvet cover and 99% of the time it’s plain white.  I have really grown to like this because it gives you the ability to hang your legs off the edge of the bed during one of my numerous nighttime hot flashes.  No doubt a fab fifties woman came up with this way of making the bed.  If you want your bed to keep you swaddled and tucked in nice and cozy well stay home and hunker down.

    Rarely do you pump your own gas, or have your fruit weighed by the checker (there is a person in the produce department whose  job it is to weigh your fruit), or FIND BEER in a grocery store.  Sometimes there is wine but no beer…why?  I do not know.  Hard alcohol usually comes from a bottle store but mixers from the grocery store.  It’s enough to make you stop drinking. Well, not really-just kidding.

    Then there are the amazing PHARMACIES.  Everywhere we have traveled pharmacies play a very big role in health care.  Pharmacists have the ability to provide many remedies and drugs if you just tell them what your symptoms are.  No need to go to the doctor first.  Certainly there are some ailments that only a doctor can address, but for the most part a pharmacy is your first stop.  On the road for 13 months I have been to a pharmacy at least once in every country but I have not been to any doctors (except for the clinic in Namibia where I just took a long nap).  I wish it was easier in the USA but apparently it’s gonna get even harder now.

    We have become acutely aware of the ECONOMIC DIVIDE in most countries and (again with our very “scientific” research) have confirmed that 25% of the people in Asia work feeding the other 75%, 25% of those who are actually employed in South Africa earn a living in the Security industry protecting the 1%, and in Tunisia and Morocco, 25% spend their days teaching the other 75% to drive.

    As I travel to each new and interesting place it’s always like The Price is Right – you never know what’s behind Door #1, #2 and #3.  What surprises will each new country afford?  How many NY Yankee fans?  How many Kentucky Fried Chickens?  And for goodness sake will I have the right electrical adaptor?  I’ll just order a beetroot salad and pour a beer from the bottle store and keep my sense of humor.  It is after all the grandest of adventures!

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Flying Without Fear

    How to manage and learn to fly without fear

    Location: Sri Lanka

    NOTE – Hi Everyone!  Still working on our blog upgrades but today we are flying without fear to Sri Lanka and this will be my 36th and 37th flight in the past 13 months!  Which reminded me of this blog (below) I wrote nearly four years ago, after the mystifying disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370.  So I thought it would be a good reminder to any of you who suffer from the fear of flying.  We will be back soon with new, fresh and fun blogs for 2018!  Thank you for following!

    It may come as a surprise to many of you, given how much I travel, but I have a fear of flying. In fact there was a period in my life when I couldn’t get on a plane.  I have worked really hard, not to overcome this fear, but to learn to manage it.  But this past week as I have waited with the rest of the world for news about Malaysia Flight 370 I have definitely had a set-back in my continual goal of learning to fly without fear.

    There was a specific moment, a specific flight, when my flying fear was born.  I had never had fear like this before; I had aspired to be a flight attendant; I had parachuted  from a tiny airplane; I had traveled by air tens of thousands of miles.  But in January 1993 on a flight from Puerto Rico to Washington DC my fear was born.

    About half way through that flight we lost an engine.  I knew immediately something was wrong.  I could hear something had changed and I could see on the flight attendants faces things were amiss. Eventually the pilot announced the engine had failed and we were going to continue on into D.C. on one engine.  What?  One engine?  What if that ones goes? I was totally no longer flying without fear!

    Okay so everyone remained calm (except me – nearly hyperventilating.)  We had to travel at a lower speed due to having only one engine.  Finally we were on approach.  No additional announcements came from the cockpit.  My fear was under control and I was ready to land. BUT the fear of flying was born after we landed.  Although the crew did not prepare the passengers in any way, when we landed we were met and chased down by multiple emergency vehicles and as soon as we came to a stop (well away from the terminal building) with sirens blaring, the firetrucks doused the plane with white foaming fire-retardant.  Unprepared for this unexpected foam bath, most of the passengers, including myself, were frightened near to death.

    How simple it would have been to have schooled the passengers in what to expect upon landing. With a little preparation, I may not have developed my fear.

    When we finally stepped into the terminal we learned from our waiting friends that all the people waiting for this flight to arrive had been moved from the gate (this was pre-9/11 when you could still wait at the gate) to a holding area away from the windows but also kept in the dark as to why.

    In 1993 I had two small children ages 2 and 6.  In the days and weeks following this incident I began to have fears about traveling, fears about something happening to my children, and fears about me and my husband dieing and leaving our kids behind.  It developed slowly but eventually consumed me.

    It was two years before I got an another airplane.  During that time I planned family vacations that revolved around car travel.  We went on a cruise that left from Vancouver BC, where we could easily drive.  I pretended this didn’t have anything to do with my fear, but it did.  My husband knew it did too.  I needed help to learn how to fly again – how to fly without fear.

    And a fact I haven’t yet mentioned has to do with my husband.  My husband works for Boeing.  He is a mechanical engineer for the largest airplane manufacturer in the world.  But his wife couldn’t get on an airplane.

    My husband, as in most things, tried to use logic with me.  He spewed statistics on air safety, compared highway deaths to airplane deaths, explained away all the safety features on modern jets.  All that just pissed me off.

    Because my fear is not logical.  And all the logic in the world cannot, will not help.  My fear is emotional; without logic.  And I knew back then, and I know now, the only person who can come up with a solution for my fear, is me.

    I started the process with a simple book “Flying Without Fear” by Duane Brown, PhD.  I still have this book, it is sitting next to me as I write this blog.  I haven’t pulled this book out of my library in a very long time.  But my renewed fear this past week had me go in search of it.  The very best thing about this book; the thing that helped me the most both 20 years ago and now, is a section that takes you step by step through the flight process.  The book explains what to expect from smells, sounds and feel from the minute you step into the terminal to when you arrive at your destination baggage claim.

    • Why do you smell diesel?  I used to fear that smell.
    • What do the ringing bells mean?  I always feared the bells.
    • Why does the plane slow down after about three minutes in the air?  I’m always sure we are crashing right then.
    • What is the clunking noise under the plane?  I’m sure the plane is breaking up.

    These are just some of the things the book “Flying Without Fear” helped me with.  The book also helped me learn to breath deeply and do relaxation exercise during take off ( the time I fear the most). The book helped me emotionally, with some logic thrown in, to manage my fear of flying.  It didn’t take the fear away, it just helped me live with it.

    My children are now grown and I don’t have the same fear of leaving them motherless that I used to.  In fact, I am, in my fabulous fifties, much less afraid of dieing.  I know I will die, and I know it could happen tomorrow.  I no longer let fear keep me from traveling, even if I still feel a pang of it each take-off.

    But the strange and mysterious disappearance of Flight 370 still gives me pause.  I can’t help but think of each and every one of those innocent souls; did they fear?  Did they suffer?  I hope not for all of them.  I hope they had peace in their hearts and no regrets.

    Just like me.

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    Location: South Africa

    NOTE –  I’m still on a blog sabbatical and working on some website upgrades.  But as promised, still posting Reading Wednesday. Enjoy and we will be back with more fun blogs very soon.

    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I’m here in South Africa.  I am here.  It’s a pretty remarkable place, beautiful and sunny (and VERY WINDY) and friendly and very cosmopolitan.  But, everywhere a visible economic divide.  A big divide that I was struggling to understand.

    We took the “apartheid” tour in Cape Town, to learn some history and get a bit more insight about the apartheid period that defined this country.  It was on that tour that Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” was recommended.  Our guide having also grown up in the color-separated country praised the book to help understand more in-depth how South Africa got here and what it was like and is like, living as a person of color in South Africa.

    By all odds, Noah, the smart, funny, good-looking host of the Daily Show in the United States, shouldn’t be leading his successful career.  He was “Born a Crime” in apartheid era South Africa when his parents (black mother and white father) broke apartheid law by having an interracial relationship and eventually a mixed race child.

    During apartheid it was often illegal speak to someone from another race (let alone have sex with them), and the first years of Trevor’s life he was kept out of sight of the racially charged  government and the laws that separated every part of people’s lives.

    Noah was six when apartheid ended, but the end of apartheid did not mean the end to poverty, unemployment, violence.  Noah’s hard-working, no-nonsense and fervently religious mother dedicated her life to him, and eventually his two younger brothers to keep them on track and (for the most part) out of trouble.

    That’s not to say Noah was an angel of a child.  Surviving growing up in the townships and schools of the time Noah writes in detailed hilarious voice about the time he burnt down some white folks house, when he spent the night in jail, when he pooped on the floor of the kitchen rather than go out in the rain to the outhouse, and numerous other boy and teen antics.  All of which could have led him down the wrong path, but luckily for him, it built his character, his humor and eventually a career he now excels at.

    “Born a Crime” is an eye-opening, educating and funny read that everyone should take the time for, whether or not you plan to visit South Africa.  A little understanding of this country’s past and present, might have you recognizing familiar-sounding struggles of people and intolerance of color around the world, including in the USA.

    Five Stars for Born a Crime.

    Fab Asia Travel

    When the Dog Bites

    Location: Thailand

    Note – Hi Everyone!  We are still on a blog sabbatical as we work on some upgrades and cleanup of My Fab Fifties Life.  In the meantime, here is a repost of a blog I posted a year ago today from Thailand.  That was a memorable day to be sure! We will be back with some fun, new, fresh blogs real soon!  Happy New Year!

     

    Well as I’ve said before, Mama said there will be days like this.

    We had an excellent Christmas Day here on the island of Samui, Thailand.  Very relaxing and lovely.

    Today, December 26th, we vowed to get up and run, since we had taken the last five days off from running.  We headed down the hill to a flat area near the beach.  I told Arne I wanted him to stay with me until we passed a house where three dogs had growled at us the other day.

    So as we walked down the hill, we passed another house with three dogs, one very nasty and viscous  looking, but all behind a tall secure fence.

    About 20 yards past the house, suddenly we heard a noise and turned to see all three dogs flying down the hill, the vicious one in the lead teeth barred.  Someone had opened the gate and released them and immediately they came after us. In clear attack mode.

    At the hospital emergency room for the first in a series of shots

    The mean one took a bite. Leaving a broken wound on my husbands thigh.

    The dogs retreated and we stood there in shock and shaken.  My husband was not gravely injured, but the only way back to our apartment was to walk past that house again.

    We both got a big stick.

    As we approached the house the three dogs were back behind the gate.  We hollered and yelled trying to get someone’s attention but no one came.  We walked back to our apartment and immediately went to find the proprietors of our Airbnb.

    Of course they were horrified. They told us there had been some problems with these dogs in the past.  They walked with us down to speak to the owners.  The conversation, which was in Thai, seemed to lean towards the fact that we shouldn’t worry because they had vaccination records for the dog.

    That didn’t cut it for me.

    I asked for an explanation as to why they let the dog out right as we walked by? The answer was the dogs needed to poo.

    That didn’t cut it for me.

    They offered to pay for the doctor.  Duh.

    Our Airbnb owner told us where to go for the doctor so we headed out.  After three tries we ended up at the Koh Samui hospital emergency room where Arne was treated by beginning a series of both rabies and tetanus shots that will take place several times over the next month.  At a total cost to us of around $150.  I expect the dog owner to reimburse us.  Time will tell.

    Additionally our Airbnb owner wants to go with us to the Tourism Police to help us file a report. This will start a process against the dog and the owner.

    We will go there tomorrow.

    Here is my philosophy on this – Dogs shouldn’t bite. Plain and simple. I don’t care what country it is. I am as much of a dog lover as the next guy, but owners need to be responsible to train and monitor their animals.  And there are no second chances.

    Here in Thailand elephants and monkeys are regularly trained and used for both work and entertainment.  I know many people feel strongly against such uses of animals. You won’t see me riding an elephant for tourism purposes, but  I am also not going to condemn something that is a centuries old practice in a country where I am only a visitor. That doesn’t mean I will participate or support the practice.

    But when it comes to dogs that bite, in a neighborhood with pedestrians, children, scooters, cyclist – I draw the line.  Even as a visitor from another country. There is no room for error and no second chances. This dog must to go.

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Arthur Pepper is a lonely old widower stuck in his routine and unwilling to venture beyond his grief for the loss of his wife of 40 years.  Until one day when he finds a curious charm bracelet hidden inside a boot as he is cleaning out his wife’s closet on the first anniversary of her death.

    Arthur Pepper begins the most unlikely journey as he tries to discover more about the charms and learns many things about his beloved wife he never knew.  Arthur’s adventures take him from England to France to India and creates opportunities and experiences old crotchety Arthur would never have found himself in before finding the charm bracelet including being attacked by a tiger, posting nude for an art class and discovering he may actually know more about love and relationships than he ever realized.

    You can’t help but love Arthur Pepper and this story of family, love and life and how you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  Life is not over at 69.  He may only just be beginning.  Five stars for The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.