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Laureen

    Inspire

    Making Sense Of It All

    A New Year of Travel

    Location: Around the World

    Why do we travel? I get many, many questions about our travel life, everything from how do I make coffee in my French Press to how do we afford a life of travel? Some people find it hard – making sense of it all – my travel life.

    But the questions I like the best are when someone asks me to describe the way a place smells? Or what are the sounds I hear when alone sipping coffee in the morning? I love it when someone is astute enough or interested enough to ask a meaningful question like how does travel make me feel? What are the sensory elements of travel? How does a handshake feel from a Masai warrior, a Mayan weaver or a Chinese fisherman?

    Door knocker in Oman

    Because as we tumble into 2020 and our fourth year of travel these are the moments that linger for me. I am long past being impressed by tourism kitsch, fancy restaurants or hotels and shopping deals. Travel is now about the senses and mine are more alive than at any time before in my life.

    A Sense of Adventure

    Adventure is a key part of our travel life. In fact we are much more adventurous in our fifties and sixties than we ever were in our twenties or thirties. Living a life with a sense of adventure creates remarkable moments – moments that are often difficult to describe – but are part of this person I have become through travel. This reality of being someone different than who I was before is part of our grand adventure, a part I never planned or expected and yet, here it is. And it makes sense.

    Sailing in Seattle

    A Sense of Space

    No one is more surprised than myself about how I have become a minimalist. Learning that I can, quit easily, live with very little has created a sense in me of openness. A sense of space. And I like that space. It feels good. It feels healthy. I feel lighter and more free. I don’t want to fill that space with anything more than moments. For now that is what makes sense.

    Balloons over Bagan Myanmar

    A Sense of Time

    Starting 2020 I also make the transition into my Fabulous Sixties (more about this in a couple of weeks). And this monumental birthday brings with it a lot of feelings, most significantly the feeling of waning time. I am accepting of the fact that there is a lot more territory in my rearview mirror than in my windshield ahead. As I have mourned several dear friends these past few months my sense of time has been sharpened. Each individual approaches this sense of time differently, but for me and my husband filling our lives with a travel life of memorable moments brings us joy and a sense of happiness. This makes sense to us.

    Arabic clock Tunisia

    Common Sense

    You might think that travel and the frequent stress it can create would make me high-strung and irritable. But it’s actually the opposite. Travel has instilled in me more common sense than I have ever possessed before. Learning to navigate the world while loving the experience and just going with the flow is a learned skill – one you cannot do without common sense. Serving as a self-appointed ambassador for my home country – showing a big and beautiful world that Americans can be nice, thoughtful, tolerant and understanding has provided me a greater sense of being…and a well rounded repertoire of common sense. Nothing could make more sense.

    Bridge in Hanoi Vietnam

    A Sixth Sense

    Maturity more than travel is what I credit for my own awareness. A sort of sixth sense has developed in me as I have aged. I’ve learned to read my own intuition and act on it, rather than regret it later. I’ve learned awareness of my surroundings, and my place in it, and my impact on it. I have tried to be a better steward for our planet, a better representative for my generation and a better American towards other cultures. In my own little way, I am here. This is how I make sense of it all.

    Temple in Hua Hin Thailand

    Forward

    So here we go again. We look forward to another travel year. Our travels in 2020 will take us from Armenia to Zimbabwe. From oceans to mountaintops. From jungles to cities. From beaches to glaciers. It’s all there. Waiting to fulfill us and our thirst for sensing how the world turns and what makes it’s people tick. A full and fabulous experience. A Fabulous Fifties Life.

    Taj Mahal India

    We post a new blog every Friday…with some fun things coming up in the weeks a head including our annual travel awards. Sign up to receive our blog via email so you don’t miss it! We appreciate it when you share our blog.

    Happy New Year to all!

    Reading Wednesday

    Guest Book Review – Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

    Reading Wednesday

    Shout out to my husband Arne for his first book review. Enjoy.

    This is a fascinating read that takes on the subject of how the modern world came to be dominated by the West.  Diamond makes the case that this is not due to any inherent superiority of Western culture or peoples, but was enabled by a combination of random environmental factors present in Eurasia and not in other parts of the world. 

    These simple factors included easily domesticated plants and animals, and the geography that allowed for easier communication of new ideas and technologies.  These elements allowed for more dense populations, the formation of states, and the development of superior technologies like written language and boats capable of crossing oceans.  

    Another far less intentional key that Diamond explains in great detail is the evolution of epidemic infectious diseases in the West. This came as a result of the close quarters resulting from those more dense populations.  Epidemic disease created an huge unplanned advantage when the Old World began to meet and clash with the New World. As brutal and well-armed as the armies of the Old World were, those diseases killed off far more of the enemy than any weapon.

    There are a lot of details and a fair amount of repetitive arguments in this book; it’s a long and fairly dry read. Can you open your mind to the concept that the modern dominance of the West wasn’t achieved through higher intelligence and moral superiority? If you can, you will find interesting this book’s premise that the West’s legacy of a better food supply and inherited tolerance to devastating diseases brought us to where we are today. Diamond’s work may forever change your thinking about how the modern world came to be.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Read last week’s review of Burmese Days.

    Everything Else Fabulous

    The Night Before Christmas

    I Still Believe

    Location: The Night Before Christmas

    I was only five years old when I learned there was no Santa.  I remember it clearly.  I actually wasn’t even five yet…just a few weeks shy.  It was Christmas morning 1964.   The little neighbor girl who was friends with my seven year-old sister came over to see our gifts.  My sister was showing her this cool play kitchen Santa had brought when Jodi said to my sister “you know Santa is really just your Mom and Dad.”  Those were her exact words.  I remember it 55 years later like it was yesterday.

    Well Jodi was the youngest child of a large family, where apparently, her older brothers and sisters had not managed to keep the big secret from her.

    I’m not sure either my sister or Jodi even realized I was standing right there.

    I remember my sister’s reaction – she cried and was very upset.  And I remember my reaction.  I thought to myself “Well, that makes perfect sense.”  And I never doubted it or worried about it from there on, although I didn’t let my parents or siblings know I possessed this knowledge.

    The Night Before Christmas

    Hawaiian version

    That same Christmas was the year I received my first book.  We had lots of books in the house, but I had never been given a book that was all mine.  Just for me.  That book was a beautiful copy of “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clark Moore.  It’s ironic that I received this book the same morning that I learned there was no Santa Claus.

    I adored that book.  I cherished it.  It had a rich, beautiful red cover and beautiful illustrations that I looked at for hours and hours and in later years read cover to cover.  I didn’t let my siblings touch it and it luckily got packed away and preserved in the decades that followed.

    When I was a young Mom I once again fell in love with the book as I read it each year to first my first-born son, and later both my boys.  I easily could recite the poem without the book and often did.  One Christmas my two children and I put on a play of the poem for the family, complete with costumes and scenery.

    The Night Before Christmas

    Some of the older copies in my collection

    It was in these years when my children were very tiny that I picked up an interesting book at the library (yes this was way before Google) all about the history of our Christmas traditions.  I learned so many fascinating things from that book, including the amazing history of the poem “The Night Before Christmas”.  It wasn’t until then, that I understood that many of the holiday traditions I took for granted, including Santa Claus himself, were fairly new developments in recent generations and the poem “The Night Before Christmas” was largely responsible for the image of St. Nicholas we know today.

    The Night Before Christmas

    The flocked version

    Until Moore wrote the poem in 1823 as a gift for his children, St. Nicholas had a Christmas Day arrival not Christmas Eve.  Moore’s image of the “jolly elf” arriving under darkness on Christmas Eve is one we still accept today, elaborated and secured for all time by the Coca-Cola image of Santa in the early 20th Century.

    Moore’s poem also brought into cultural acceptance the idea of Santa’s reindeer as he named them individually for the first time.  And of course the popularity of the later poem “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” added additional holiday fun to that aspect of our Christmas cultural icon.

    Once I began to learn and understand the history of Santa Claus in the United States and around the world I became infatuated with the story and the history.  I started purchasing new and antique copies of “The Night Before Christmas” each year and through out the year.  As my love for the story grew as an adult, I also began to receive antique copies of the book from friends and family.

    I currently own more than 30 copies of the book.  My oldest of the collection is a 1905 edition.  I have some fun versions including two Hawaiian versions, a Mickey Mouse version, Holly Hobby and two illustrated by Grandma Moses.

    I have flocked version, a pop-up book version, and one of the most fun versions is a revolving picture book.

    But my favorite will always be the original one I received that Christmas in 1964, published in

    The Night Before Christmas

    My favorite – The book I received for Christmas 1964

    1960.

    The same day I received this amazing storybook of Santa Claus was the same day I learned there is no Santa Claus.  And perhaps my love and adoration for this poem all these years was my way of accepting that truth, while still believing in the Christmas spirit.

    So let’s believe together;

    A Visit from St. Nicholas

    AKA The Night Before Christmas

    By Clement Clark Moore

    “Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house

    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

    In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

    The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

    While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads,

    And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,

    Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap-

    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

    I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

    Away to the window I flew like a flash,

    Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

    The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,

    Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;

    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

    But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

    With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

    I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

    And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:

    “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,

    “On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;

    “To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

    “Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

    As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

    So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,

    With the sleigh full of toys – and St. Nicholas too:

    And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

    The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

    As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

    Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:

    He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,

    And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;

    A bundle of toys was flung on his back,

    And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:

    His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,

    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

    And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

    And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

    He had a broad face, and a little round belly

    That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:

    He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

    And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;

    A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

    Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

    And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,

    And laying his finger aside of his nose

    And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

    He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle

    And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:

    But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –

    Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

    From Kenya with love – Merry Christmas to you all!

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Burmese Days by George Orwell

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This book kept popping up at shops around Myanmar while I was visiting there last month. I had read Orwell in high school (1984 and Animal Farm) but never any more. But I picked up this paperback and decided to check it out.

    First of all it was clearly a pirated book. Although the cover looked like a Penguin Classic Book, the inside was printed poorly on cheap paper and within the first few chapters it began to fall apart. Oh well, I just kept trying to hold the book together.

    Written in 1934 the book is a fictional tale of the waning days of the British Colonial period in Burma (now Myanmar). This is a time when Burma was ruled by Britian from Delhi as part of British India.

    Orwell himself spent time in Burma, so the book (his first) is based on his first hand experience there.

    The book uses serious racist language that today is completely frowned upon, and reflects the true superior British societal approach to the people of Burma. The debasing effect the empire had on the native people of the time is frankly, disgusting.

    But I’m glad I read it. Even though Britian eventually revoked it’s colonial rights through out the region as well as in other regions, the deep scar Britian left is still today part of life in Myanmar and in other countries like India. Colonialism was and is a blight on people of the world and Burmese Days spells it out in a sad and honest tale of the people who were there.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for Burmese Days. Read last week’s review of Remarkable Creatures.

    Middle East Travel

    The Allure of Oman

    The Safest Country in the Middle East

    Location: Oman

    Once again we have stumbled on a country full of surprises. The allure of Oman includes it’s majestic scenery; captivating history; kind and thoughtful people; delicious food; fascinating traditions. Oman is all of this and more…as well as an up and coming tourist destination.

    Nizwa fort
    The people of Oman

    I’m so grateful to have spent ten days here and hope to return again someday.

    History

    Oman has a long and fascinating history dating well before the ancient silk and spice roads. Oman is the oldest independent Arab state. At one time the Omani Empire stretched from present day Oman down the East Coast of Africa and included the island of Zanzibar.

    Prehistoric findings of the region date back as much as 100,000 years. Over the millenia, Oman has been invaded often by Arab Tribes, Portugal and Britain.

    In the 1800’s the country had several sultans ruling over different parts of the territory. In the 1900’s two strongholds remained and tensions caused conflict between the Sultan in Muscat and the Ibadei Imam in Nizwa.

    Oman Seal
    The Sultan of Oman’s Seal

    When oil was discovered in 1954 the two factions once again went to war, and the British Army sided with the Sultan and assisted in air raids of the Ibadei region, including the bombing of the Tanuf Castle (see below).

    From then until 1970 the Omani people were ruled by Sultan Said bin Taimur who decreed the people could have no luxuries…that included shoes. His medieval and archaic way of thinking bred discord as it was a hard life with no schools, roads, or doctors. Disease was rampant.

    “In the 1970 Omani coup d’étatQaboos bin Said al Said ousted his father, Sa’id bin Taimur, who later died in exile in London. Al Said has ruled as sultan ever since. The new sultan confronted insurgency in a country plagued by endemic disease, illiteracy, and poverty. One of the new sultan’s first measures was to abolish many of his father’s harsh restrictions, which had caused thousands of Omanis to leave the country, and to offer amnesty to opponents of the previous régime, many of whom returned to Oman. 1970 also brought the abolition of slavery.

    Sultan of Oman Palace
    At the Sultan’s Palace built in 1971

    Sultan Qaboos also established a modern government structure and launched a major development program to upgrade educational and health facilities, build a modern infrastructure, and develop the country’s natural resources. “(Wikipedia)

    Today

    The allure of Oman can certainly be credited to the Sultan. Sultan Qaboos at age 78 is still ruling Oman today. The remarkable changes in this country in a mere 50 years is astonishing. We have found excellent infrastructure of highways and roads (but no subway or well connected transit system), sparkling clean public parks and beaches; everyone is educated and speaks English.

    Wherever we travel, each country has problems. In Myanmar the question of the Royhinga genocide hung heavy over our visit. In China the protests in Hong Kong kept us from our original itinerary. And of course in my own country of the United States, the political upheaval is embarrassing. And Oman too has problems. Cost of oil has dropped and Oman is looking at ways to diversify, including tourism. There are some who feel human rights are neglected and protestors of any kind towards the monarchy are jailed. A clear hierarchy is in place with Omani people serving in government and leadership roles and most service and labor jobs are done by workers who have come from Pakistan, India, Asia and Africa.

    Fishing at the beach
    Fisherman bring in the catch at Qurum Beach

    Oman sits on the Straight of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, only 35 miles from Iran. Oman is focused on territorial stability in a volatile region. As a visitor however you feel very safe and welcome. In fact it feels like a paradise.

    The Omani People

    We met some really wonderful people during our visit. Although most people keep pretty much to themsleves, it’s not uncommon to have people stop and ask if they can help you find something or ask where you are going or where you are from.

    The home of an Omani Family
    Our hostess for our dinner in her beautiful home

    The Muslim men all dress in what is known as the dishdashi and the women are in abaya, usually black but sometimes in other colors. Women wear a hijab. Some women cover their face but most do not. Women actually have a lot of rights in Oman, more than some other Arab countries. They vote, drive and hold professional positions such as doctors, airline pilots and more.

    Many people in Oman also dress in “western” clothing, but you will never see shorts or tank tops on locals.

    As a visitor I was careful to be respectful of the culture and I did not wear shorts at all during my visit. Long pants and shirts that always covered my shoulders and often my elbows as well. The only time I had to cover my head was when I visited the mosque. (see title photo).

    I was a little aghast at some young women we saw from Britain dressed very scantily and I felt it was incredibly disrespectful and as if they were flaunting it. Poor taste indeed.

    The Nizwa Souq
    Spice seller at the Nizwa Souq

    Our favorite experience of our visit to Oman was when we went to the home of a distinguished Omani family and had dinner with them in their home. We made this connection through a local business called Zayr whose mission is to connect Omanis with visitors to broaden the understanding of the culture. I am so glad we did this because we really learned a great deal about the daily life of Omanis. The family we visited was a man who is a Omani diplomat, his lovely stay-at-home wife and their five children. We also met a cousin (who works at the US Embassy) and a brother. Another brother is the Omani Ambassador to China. Many of the family members live in a cohabiting way in a large and beautiful house outside of Muscat. We talked about our respective cultures, and how each are so often misrepresented by media accounts of the actions of a few. We ate sitting on the floor in the Omani style and we truly could not have enjoyed this more. We learned about food and traditions such as eating dates in odd numbers, having coffee and dates at every meal and incense burned after the meal to cleanse your palate. It would be my wish that every American could have this experience to understand more about the peaceful and lovely Muslim people.

    Dining in Omani home
    The lovely family we dined with

    Oman, which is about the same size as California, has a population of 4 million, but only 2.5 million of those are Omani. The rest are expats who come to Oman to work, mostly from India, Pakistan, and other surrounding African and Asian nations.

    Beautiful Oman beaches
    Gulf of Oman

    Muscat

    The capitol city of Muscat is the most beautiful in Oman. The allure of Oman is found in this utopian city. Restriction on high rise buildings (no more than nine stories) as well as architectural restrictions that only allow Arab style structures with stucco in white and desert colors makes the city very symmetric and alluring. Hundreds of workers can be seen tending greenery in parks, medians and along roads keeping the capital city pristine.

    Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Oman
    Inside the Sultan Qaboos Mosque

    Muscat’s main attractions include the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (the top sight in Muscat), the stunning Royal Muscat Opera House, and the brand new and amazing National Museum of Oman.

    The opera house in Muscat
    The Royal Muscat Opera House

    You can also enjoy the beautiful Sultan’s Palace from the outside. The area known as Muttrah was one of our favorites, it includes a beautiful harbor (cruise ships dock here almost daily), a promenade with parks and viewpoints as well as the historic Muttrah Souq.

    Historic Muttrah
    Muttrah Souq

    Outside of Muttrah we also spent one day hiking in the beautiful barren mountains that surround this region. We had an outstanding day hiking up the craggy rocks and returning through the wadi (Arabic for valley or river bed) where we worked our way around babbling brooks and standing ponds back to sea level.

    Mountain hiking around Muttrah
    Hiking high above Muttrah

    Nizwa and Balha

    We took one full day to tour the forts in this region, about a two hour drive southwest from Muscat. Many visitors stay one or two nights in Nizwa but we chose to do it as a day trip from Muscat.

    We visited the restored Nizwa Fort, built in the 1600’s and restored in a very high quality way between 1985 and 1995. Today it is one of Oman’s top tourist attractions and we enjoyed it very much. Connecting to the fort is the Nizwa Souq. We hit it on a Saturday and many of the vendors were not open (the weekend is Friday Saturday) but we still enjoyed it and bought some spices and tea and dates.

    Beautiful Nizwa fort
    Nizwa Fort

    We also toured the Balha Fort, which was built in the 1100’s. It is currently being restored but you still can walk around it and enjoy it although there is no interpretive information. Hopefully that will be added when the restoration is done.

    One of my favorite things we did was crawl around the Tanuf Castle ruins. Nothing has been done to this site and it sits as it has since it was bombed by the British during the insurgence battles between Muscat and Nizwa in the 1950s. I really enjoyed this place and wish the government would add some interpretive information here.

    Bahla Fort
    Balha Fort

    Many people also go out into the stunning mountains in this region to hike. However we did not rent a 4WD vehicle, and you can’t get very far without one.

    The ruins of Tanuf Oman
    Tanuf Castle ruins

    Sur and Surrounding

    We spent one day driving south and east from Muscat towards the city of Sur.

    Our first stop was to just admire the amazing view of the ocean on this drive. The gorgeous turquoise blue of the Gulf of Oman will take your breath away.

    Our next stop was at the Bimmah Sinkhole – a super cool hole in the ground that was formed by the collapse of the surface layer of limestone. It is considered a lake but it is slightly salty. Visitors can swim in the crystal clear blue waters and enjoy this area for free.

    It is 50m by 70m and 20m deep. There are a few small fish that live in the hole.

    Clear water at Bimmah Sinkhole
    Bimmah Sinkhole

    Wadi Shab is a very popular hike not far from Sur. Both tourists and locals flock here for the beautiful nature and for a chance to swim in the waterfall cave.

    We went to Wadi Shab just after our visit to the Bimmah Sinkhole. However it had rained really hard the day before and we were quit surprised to find mud and silt all over the parking area several inches deep. We were told hiking to the cave was open but expect it to be slippery, muddy and difficult.

    With that information we reassessed our plans and decided to give the area a couple days to dry-out and return. Which we did. And I am so glad we did. A fourty-five minute hike up the Wadi was difficult but fun. Wading through deep water and clambering over boulders made for quite an adventure. If you want to go to the cave at the top it requires swimming for about 100-yards. We did not do this, but even without seeing the cave, it was one of my favorite things in Oman.

    Wadi Shab

    The town of Sur itself wasn’t all that special. We did visit the lighthouse in the old town of Al Ayhar and walked along the ocean boardwalk. We had a wonderful experience having lunch in a tiny little restaurant here. There wasn’t even a menu! The very nice man just brought us lots of lovely food and it all cost only $10.

    Oman's desert Wahiba Sands
    Wahiba Sands

    The Desert

    I wanted to see “the desert” and most of the area along the coast of Oman is craggy mountains. Though these mountains are really beautiful, being in the Middle East means camels and sand dunes to me! So from Sur we drove two hours southwest to the Wahiba Sands desert. Without a 4WD you can’t drive into the dunes. There are plenty of drivers available and willing to take you out into the sand. Overnight camel treks are also available. But since we had done both of those in Morocco, Egypt and Namibia, here we decided to just enjoy the view from afar.

    Come to Oman

    If you are fearful of the Middle East, Oman is the perfect destination. It is welcoming and beautiful and you can learn a lot about the culture of the Middle East and the Muslim people. Don’t fear it – the allure of Oman is as much about the region as it is about the culture…both full of mystery and history just waiting to be discovered.

    Muslim people and Omanis in particular are kind and welcoming and want to share their culture and country.

    I am so glad we came. Shukran Oman. We feel blessed to know you. Tusahibuk alsalama. Peace be with you.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Remarkable Creatures: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Oh I enjoyed this book so much. When I saw this book by Tracy Chevalier, author of The Girl With The Pearl Earring, I knew I would love it – I loved The Girl With The Pearl Earring.

    So I was kind of surprised I had never heard of this book. But I am glad to have found it. It’s just the kind of story I love; history, science and strong-willed women from an era of female suppression.

    Set in England in the early 1800’s a time where females had no rights, and without a husband, basically no life. Here Chevalier takes real people from the past and combines them with intriguing fictional characters to create a wonderful voyage of discovery in Remarkable Creatures.

    The name of this book refers both to our two herions and the discoveries they make.

    Mary Anning a real person from Lyme England is one of the early discoverers of fossils. Despite her lack of education or status, her work will lead to the scientific advances on dinosaurs and extinction. Mary will not however, get credit for most of her work since she is “just a female”.

    Chevalier creates fictional Elizabeth Philpot, a spinster with a broad mind and interest in fossils. Newly arrived to Lyme she befriends Mary Anning and they begin an unlikely relationship. Part envy, part loyalty, and part mutual appreciation the two women will use each others strengths to trail blaze the science, navigate the prickly issue of female rights, and help each other through love and loss.

    A fascinating book with just enough science as well as a beautiful love story and test of true friendship.

    Five Stars for Remarkable Creatures. Read last week’s review of About the Night.

    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Inspire

    Gift Ideas for the Traveler on Your List

    A Video Blog – Gift Ideas


    Next Friday I will have a blog about beautiful Oman, but today I hope you enjoy our first video blog.

    Are you stumped for a gift for someone on your holiday list who loves to travel? Check out our video below, with our favorite travel items, sure to be a hit for any traveler you know. Lot’s of gift ideas for the traveler on your list.

    We hope our video helped you think of new ideas and we wish you happy shopping and a very Merry Christmas!

    PLEASE NOTE – these opinions are my own and I have received no compensation for mentioning these products in my blog.

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