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    Everything Else Fabulous

    Age Perception is a Funny Thing

    Back in the USA and These Things Are on My Mind

    Age perception is a funny thing.  When you were 40 years old and your parent turned 60 they seemed so ancient.  In two weeks my husband hits the big 6-0 and he is certainly not ancient.

    When I was 35 my baby brother passed away at 32.  Of course he seemed very young to die, but recently my family lost my cousin, also 32 and she seems like a child to me now that I am 58.  Gone way to soon.

    I was thinking the other day about my teachers in grade school.  When I was a kid I had some great teachers, but of course they all seemed old to me.  I was a kid.  They were grownups.  When you are little grownups all seem old.

    Age perception is a funny thing. As we mature we look at age so differently.  I have never been afraid to grow old, but I certainly make a constant effort to keep my body in condition and be as healthy as I can.  Because at this time in my life I am acutely aware of people my age and younger who are passing away – some after a long illness while others very suddenly.

    Today I look at my parents in their 80’s and am thankful they are still here, and hope they have a lot of years left.  I think about celebrating their fiftieth birthdays and it seems like yesterday.

    Age perception is a funny thing.  Maturity definitely sheds a different light on life, age and longevity.  But we live and learn don’t we?  And I’d rather be growing old than not at all.

    No regrets.

     

     

     

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Book review

    Book Review The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

    Spanish author Pen has conjured a remarkably sad, but simply engaging story of a small boy with hope.  

    I almost put this back down after the first two chapters.  I didn’t know what was going on at first and thought I wasn’t going to like this novel.  But I held on and I am glad I did.  

    Imagine being born in a basement and never ever knowing anything beyond the walls of that basement.  Similar to “Room” this story is of a family that lives hidden in a basement.  But unlike “Room” they do it by choice – or more accurately because of choices they made before they begin living underground.

    I love how the author never gives the characters in this book names.  They are only “the boy”, “Dad”, “Mom”, “my grandmother”.  By not personalizing these characters further, it’s easy to feel aloof to many of these characters when the author needs you to, and yet feel very engaged and empathetic to “the boy” throughout.  

    A set of circumstances that begin with a neglectful sister, a brain injury, an accidental murder, a coverup and then a fire bring this family to a decision to go into hiding in a basement completely closed off to the world and feigning their own deaths.

    As the years go by two births happen in the basement, including the birth of “the boy”.  His life unfolds knowing only a tiny slit of sunshine that comes in through a crack in the ceiling.  He follows the light throughout each day and creates an imaginary world of his own in the basement.  But as the years go by his curiosity grows and when he finally decides to make an escape, he learns that not all he thought he knew was true and although he is free to leave, he will forever be connected to the family in the basement.

    Another book currently in the works to be a motion picture.

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐Four Stars for the Light of the Fireflies.

     

    Everything Else Fabulous

    Reveling in Reunions

    Back in the USA and Reveling in Reunions

    We have been back in the USA for two weeks today. And we have been in constant motion. For us the 18 months we were traveling outside the USA flew by.  But to people we know back home they felt like we were gone for a decade.

    We weren’t.  Just 18 months.

    Reveling in reunions

    The Martini Mamas

    And yet, on our first return to our home country we find ourselves caught up in a myriad of reunions, nearly every day.  I told my husband I thought the demand on us was mostly because of the novelty of our adventures.  I think by the time we return again for a visit next year, that novelty will have worn off.

    Reveling in Reunions

    Book Club Babes

    Please don’t misunderstand.  I LOVE all these reunions.  We are having such a great time getting re-acquainted with our loved ones. We had a big reunion with my husband’s family right away.  And I have spent individual time with my parents.  Our oldest son

    Reveling in Reunions

    The Lund Family

    Reveling in reunions

    Lifelong Friends

    has been here at our house several times and we went to Seattle yesterday and toured the brand new Nordic Museum with our youngest son.  We are doing our best to work around our kids work schedules so we can spend as much time with them as possible.

    I spent four days in Nashville with my girlfriends from high school and we had another lovely reunion last Friday night with some of our oldest friends who we have known most of our lives.

    Reveling in reunions

    Yard work with my Mom

    I loved seeing the wonderful ladies of my book club as well as my dear girl friends who are known as the Martini Mamas.  I’m lunching with other friends, meeting for coffee with others and having wine with still more.  Next Sunday we head to Zion for a reunion with Arne’s college friends. Lucky me.

    Reveling in Reunions

    My son Erik

    During the time we are here in the USA I’m spending every Tuesday with my Dad (as well as other days).  We have had lunch together and we brought him from his assisted living home to have dinner at our house.  I’m spending every Wednesday with my Mom.  So far I’ve helped her in her yard, but she and I have plans to do several girl things together from crafts to Ride the Ducks in Seattle.

    Arne is also spending every Wednesday with his Mom.  They went for a walk, he did yard work and they are attending the Seattle Mariners games.

    Reveling in reunions

    My friends from high school

    As we plan to continue to travel for an undetermined amount of time, spending these eleven weeks here in the USA soaking up our family and friends is our goal. The time will fly and we will be off again before we

    Reveling in reunions

    Dinner with son Dane

    know it.  But then, I expect that time will also fly, and a year from now we will be back again.  Back and forth – we see this as our way of life for at least a few more years. A grand adventure to see the world, while we can. How fabulous!

    We leave again on August 7th – details on that coming soon.

    Fab North America Travel

    Nashville For First Timers

    What a Fabulous City

    Location: Nashville Tennessee USA

    Nashville for first timers

    Breakfast at Bisquit Love

    Nashville for first timers. Not what I was expecting. What a wild place – crazy, historic, loud, interesting and delicious. Nashville for first timers can be a bit of a surprise though. At least it was for me!

    Nashville for first timers

    Famous Jacks BBQ on Broadway

    My high school girl friends and I went a bit rogue this time in choosing our destination for our (almost) annual girls get away.  Nashville made the cut and eight of us put on our mud kickers and headed out for a country music weekend.

    We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Unfortunately we didn’t realize how spread out this city is. So my first bit of advice is be prepared to need to Uber and cab it all over town. We spent a ton of money on that – big surprise there. So if you are a Nashville for first timers virgin be prepared!

    Nashville for first timers

    Visiting Antique Archeology

    The Old Town Hop On Hop Off  Trolley was a good investment though when you are doing Nashville for first timers. We bought the first day ticket for $35 and added the second day for an additional $10.  I really loved the drivers of these trolleys who gave us great history, interesting stories all served up with southern charm and humor.

    One of my favorite things we did from the Hop On Hop Off was visit the famous and historic Ryman Theatre where The Grand Ole Opry performed from for many decades. The theatre is really amazing and the tour was was interesting.

    Nashville for first timers

    Historic Ryman Theatre

    Nashville for first timers

    Nelson Greenbrier Distillery

    Also I loved our visit to the historic Marathon Motor Company building. Today it’s filled with funky shops including the Antique Archeology of American Pickers fame. Also on this same block is the Nelson Greenbrier Whiskey Distillery.  The $11 tour was really fascinating and included a tasting of four different spirits they distill.

    From the Hop on Hop Off we also found Music Row fascinating and surprising how these famous recording studios are mostly in tiny houses and not in huge skyscrapers.

    Blake Shelton’s brand new Ole Red bar on Broadway

    The Honky Tonk scene on Broadway in downtown Nashville is way crazier than I imagined. It was Las Vegas with the volumn turned up to eleven. Wild. Thousands and thousands of people, hundreds and hundreds of bars and restaurants and every single one has live music blasting all day long.

    Apparently Nashville is the number one destination in the USA for bachelorette parties. Young scantily clad brides and bridesmaid groups are whooping it up on the sidewalks, in the back of rented flatbeds and open top busses and on the cycle beer trucks. Loud and ready to party. Wow.

    Nashville for first timers

    With my friends at The Grand Ole Opry Hotel

    We took an Uber 20 minutes out to the Gaylord
    Grand Ole Opry Hotel. This is also the place where the Grand Ole  Opry now has its home. But the 3000 room hotel is a destination in itself. Again I was reminded of Vegas – ornate and over the top with waterfalls, jungles, orchids and a riverboat cruise.

    Nashville for first timers

    Country Music Hall Of Fame

    Nashville knows it’s audience and country music fans are very loyal to this town. Fans can spend hours or days at the Country Music Hall Of Fame as well as many other museums including Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones and others. Tennessee was also home to three US Presidents (Jackson, Johnson, Polk)and the area around Nashville is full of history relevant to our country.

    Nashville for first timers

    Corn Cakes at the historic Woolworth’s

    I ate a ton – everything from corn cakes to steak, hot chicken, biscuits and macaroni and cheese. Southern comfort food as well as delicious alternatives are in abundance in this town of abundance.

    You can spend a weekend or stay a week and still never see and do everything here.  It’s a great town – alive! Nashville for first timers or do it again? So much fun!

    Y’all should come now ya hear?

    Everything Else Fabulous

    We are Back

    The Weird and Wonderful World of the USA

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    And We Are Back – Adjusting to being back in the fast paced USA.

    It’s both wonderful and weird being back here.  It’s surreal and my husband and I keep looking at each other with a perplexed look – “was it always this “wired”?”  Fast paced and a bit maniacal, we haven’t felt this in a while.  But here we are and it will be like any other country we visit – spend sometime getting into the swing and then we will feel right at home.  At least the language is familiar!  Oh and the money is green – the way it should be. And there is toilet paper!! Woohoo!

    For those of you who are personal friends and family, we hope to see as many of you as possible.   Please note however that we are holding the majority of our time open for our family; particularly our aging parents and our adult children.  But we still do hope to see our friends and we have many dinners and lunches and coffees and glasses of wine already on the calendar with our dearest peeps.  But other than a quick reunion trip to both Nashville with my high school girlfriends(leaving today) and Utah (college buddies) in June, we will stay mostly on the Kitsap Peninsula during our visit.

    We are staying in the home of our friends in downtown Gig Harbor while they are off in their RV for two months.  This is from May 14-July 15.  On July 15th we move to another home in Seabeck to be a closer to Arne’s family for our final three weeks.  We depart the USA again on August 7th and plan to be away this time for nine to ten months. More on that later.

    But for now we try to catch our breath, squeeze our loved ones, and remember to drive on the right hand side of the road!

    So hello USA, Washington, Kitsap Peninsula and Gig Harbor.  Hello, Susaday, Hafa Adai, Apa Kabar, Kihineh, Sabaidi, Swasdi, G’Day, Zdraveite, Zdravo, Xin Chao, Namaste, Chomreabsuro, Vanakkam, Is-Slama, Om suastiastu, Huh-low, Ssalamu, Sawubona, Salam-Alai Kum, Bom Dia, Bon Jour, Kia Ora, Hola, ‘Lekum, Aloha. Hello!

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Still Water by Viveca Sten

    Location: Book Review

    Book Review Still Water buy Viveca Sten

    About a month ago Kindle offered a special incentive in honor of International Day.  Kindle made available a half dozen books by international authors for free.  I downloaded most of them to my Kindle App on my phone, which is where I read most of my books.  

    I was not familiar with Swedish author Viveca Sten.  I’ve since learned of her popular Sandhaam Island Murder Mysteries, of which Still Water was the first.  I liked this book, did not love it, but am curious to possibly read one of her later novels to see if her writing improved over the years.  She is a good writer, but this book had some lengthy descriptive paragraphs and a few incidents (including one at the very end of the book involving a boat full of drunk teenagers) that to me, in no way enhanced the story or even fit the tale.  A good editor should have cut some of this out to tighten the book up.

    Granted, this book was originally written in Swedish and perhaps something was lost in the translation.

    I sound more critical than I mean to, because I actually enjoyed the story and I was intrigued to find out “whodunnit” in the murder mystery story.  Near the end I knew who it would be, but it still held my attention and I enjoyed the read.

    The story is based in the Swedish Archipelago on Sandhaam Island a place I have always wanted to visit.  Somewhat  like the Martha’s Vineyard of Sweden, old families have handed down homes here for generations, including the family of Nora one or the lead characters in the book.  Thomas, a police officer and her childhood best friend becomes involved in a murder investigation when a man’s body washes up on the beach one summer day.  All the residents on Sandhaam including Nora become involved in trying to solve the mystery. Thus unfolds a tale of family secrets, murder and mystery,  rocky marriages, love and loss and then several more murders, suicides and deaths. Phew! A lot happens. Eventually the story pulls the pieces together and mystery is solved. 

    I did not love the way the book ended, as it left some things hanging, although I expect that is because Sten continues the Sandhaam series and ties loose ends together in the next book.

    A quick and easy read, not the best I’ve ever read but I still give Still Waters three stars.

     

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    What I Have Read Over the 18 Months Abroad

    I’ve had a great deal of time to read over the past year and a half.  I enjoy reading very much and the Grand Adventure has offered me a wonderful opportunity to read more than ever before.  I started a list of the books I read and after nearly a year set my sights on finishing 100 books before we returned to the United States.

    I almost made it.  I read 93 books in 18 months.  Almost all (not all but almost) of these books I reviewed in the Reading Wednesday series on this blog.  I didn’t start Reading Wednesday until after we had been traveling for a few months, and since then it has become one of the most popular features on My Fab Fifties Life blog.  That makes me happy.

    I doubt I will be reading as much during my two and half months in the USA because I will be busy with family matters.  But I still have some books I haven’t reviewed so hopefully I can continue to review one book per week and you can continue to enjoy the weekly reviews.  Meanwhile, if you are interested, I have listed below all 93 books and the ones that have been reviewed are highlighted in green if you would like to go to that review on the blog just click on the link.  I’ve also put a gold star by some of my all time favorites!!

    Happy Reading everyone!  Reading is Fabulous!

    1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

    2. Bangkok Secret by Anthony Gray

    3. Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

    4. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    5. Today will be Different by Maria Simple

    6. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

    7. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

    8. I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

    9. ⭐These is My Words by Nancy Turner

    10.⭐ 97 Orchard Street by Jane Ziegelman

    11. Lady Susan by Jane Austin

    12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    13. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    14. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

    15. Tulip Fever by Deborah Muggach

    16. ⭐Michlings by Affinity Konar

    17. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

    18. Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

    19. War of the Worlds by HG Wells

    20. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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

    22. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

    23. The Girls by Emma Cline

    24. Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie

    25. Swingtime by Zadie Smith

    26. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

    27. ⭐Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    28. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    29. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

    30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    31. Thank you for Being Late by Thomas Friedman

    32. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

    33. ⭐Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    34. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    35. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

    36. Dirty Chicks by Antonia Murphy

    37. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman

    38.⭐ Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

    39. News of the World by Paulette Giles

    40. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    41. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    42. A 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley

    43. H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald

    44. A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterson

    45. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

    46. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

    47. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    48. The Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Allameddine

    49. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

    50. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

    51. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

    52.⭐ The Paris Wife by Paula McLean

    53. The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

    54. Al Franken Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

    55. The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett

    56. Human Acts by Han Kang

    57. The Zookeepers Wife by Angela Workman

    58. After the Fall by Charity Normal

    59. A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway

    60. Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

    61. ⭐The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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

    63. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

    64. Circling the Sun by Paula McLean

    65. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    66. A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

    67. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

    68. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

    69.⭐ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows

    70. Star Dust by Neil Gaiman

    71. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

    72. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

    73. Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    74. ⭐My Antonia by Willa Cather

    75.⭐ Elinor Oiliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    76. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

    77. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    78. Sing Unburried Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    79. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

    80. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    81. ⭐Station Eleven by Emily Saint John Mandel

    82. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

    83. The Girl Before by JP Delaney

    84. The Maze Runner by

    85. Still Water by Viveca Sten

    86. The Light of the Firefly by Paul Pen

    87. A River in the Darkness

    88. The Question of Red

    89. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

    90. The Rapture of Canaan by Sherri Reynolds

    91. Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

    92. Neverhome by Laird Hunter

    93. Delicious Food  by James Hannaham