Cocka doodle do

My days almost always include some time sipping and staring from my balcony. Yesterday morning I was too lazy to walk (I’m soooo off of my walking routine right now it’s ridiculous), so I sat in the breeze, sipped my coffee and watched chickens taking over our parking lot. Today, I listened to them cackle complaints at the rain, which has been going on all day.

I don’t know what this says about me, but these feral fowl fascinate me: so much so that I invested way too many minutes googling Guam chickens. Apparently, they’ve become a nuisance and have managed to hatch some headlines. One of my favorite quotes comes from a 2021 article in The Guam Daily Post, which focused on the demand for authorities to contain chicken shenanigans.

Mangilao Mayor Allan Ungacta complained, “How do you police chickens? … Do we tell them [citizens] not to go catch a chicken because that’s private property? That’s what I want to know now. How do we police chickens? We police the stray dogs, the feral pig, the stray cats and then now you got chickens too.” (for more on this check out Chicken article)

Hunting birds here is actually a bigger deal than temporarily trespassing on private property to catch your Sunday roast. Besides stray pigs, dogs, cats and chickens, we also have an issue with the prolific, egg-feasting brown snake (accidentally brought onto the island via ships). Since the brown snake population decimated the local bird population, causing some species to go extinct, it’s agains the law to kill birds.

But, the chickens are thriving, and just this week legislation was discussed on making it legal to kill wild poultry (don’t know what the final verdict was). I’m guessing by all the chicken being grilled at fiesta barbecues that perhaps folks aren’t really concerned about the legalities of catching these chickens.

I, for one, hope they’re still protected because I am totally entertained by them, and I’ve come to realize they’re not as stupid as I thought they were. I have yet to see chicken roadkill. I witnessed a few almost get hit while crossing our busiest street, but midway through they saw incoming traffic, did a 180 and hauled feathers safely back to the curb.

Watching chickens run also gives me joy — only two feet and no arms to pump makes it funny (because, apparently, I’m also cruel).

So while I won’t give up eggs and KFC, I have developed a whole new love and respect for chickens. Hahaha and on cue: a rooster just made it clear he’s not happy with my diet.

Dark and Stormy

If only my stuff were here, I’d pull out the copper mugs and whip up a dark and stormy to sip while listening to the howling wind. One of the things I worried I’d miss the most was snuggle weather. I love those cold, dark nights where it’s scary outside, but warm and safe inside. They usually include me making hearty meals and baking something or other.

My video sucks because it’s just not capturing the palms whipping and the wind whistling through our rafters

Well guess what? We get weather here too. The a/c is still on, but oh my goodness the rain storms can be intense. Driving my little rental (with bald tires) up the hill to my building is like riding a wild tadpole up a waterfall. It’s been gray and windy all day, so other than my morning walk (which was pleasantly calm) I haven’t left the apartment — and I’m freaking loving it. I’ve got my tea, my wine (which I’ll open soon), my candles and my books.

A view of my building from the main street below. It’s 10 floors, so you’re only seeing part of it. It’s a steep little road that leads to it. You can’t see it, but our balcony is on the left (absolutely love it!)

I tried sitting on the balcony to read and sip tea, and let’s just say it’s a good thing no one else was outside. Not only did my buddha belly show herself to the world, but also one of my boobs played wind sock while the other did a whip around. My hands were full and it happened so damned fast (those little t-shirt dresses are not your friend).

No one has closed their typhoon shutters, so I’m guessing this is nothing in the way of really bad storms. I can’t even imagine what a typhoon is like.

Joe is missing out because he’s in Arizona having fun with family and friends. A few days before he left we also experienced our first real earthquake. A 5.7 not too far from us. I was getting ready to slap Joe and tell him to calm the eff down in his sleep, but then he said “earthquake,” and I realized it was better to grab onto his arm than bruise it. Our whole room shook, but absolutely nothing got damaged — no cracks, no broken windows, so yay our building is well built.

Mostly, though, it’s amazingly relaxed and beautiful here. Mother Nature throwing us the occasional curve ball keeps it all real. You can literally just pull off to the side of the road, walk a few steps and go swimming. When you get bored of the beach (like that’s ever going to happen), you can drive up into the mountains, which are green and lush and, you guessed it, breathtaking.

I haven’t done much touring around. I’ve been mostly learning my job and making new friends. I have some fun things planned for October, like (lol can you believe?) a beer fest and a waterfall hike. And, I’d really like to learn how to paddle board (even if it means me just sitting on the board) and do the nature canoe trip. It’s all good, I live here now, so I have plenty of time. When Joe gets back we’ll do some snorkeling and then take diving lessons. Apparently there is a whole new world to discover under Guam’s waters, so stay tuned I will eventually also share that with you.

But, for now, I’m enjoying all the new and waiting for my stuff to get here. I so miss my Rav 4; it’ll handle these roads and rain no problem. Fingers crossed all that will arrive in October.

Will ya look at that. Guam has a heart too.

Home Sweet Home

Current view from my balcony

We found a home, and we’re moved in already. Our unaccompanied baggage (suitcases and duffle bags of things like towels, more clothes, sheets, etc.) is expected to arrive September 9, our car in October, and our furniture, dishes, etc. sometime in November. Sooooo, we’re borrowing sheets and dishes from friends. The landlord left an old couch for us to use, and we got rid of our master bed in Mons, so we bought a new one here. We could borrow more furniture from the Navy base, but I’m good with our camping phase for now. It’ll be a long while before our place truly looks like our home, but we love it.

We also don’t need keys since we have a digital key pad for front door. We’re within walking distance of restaurants, resorts, bars, the beach! It’s a 10-story complex on a hill, so we have to drive up a tiny, windy road to get to it (turns into a waterfall during our intense rain storms, which don’t last long, but man do they let out the water). We love where we’re perched because we also have lots of rogue chickens (seriously they should be Guam’s official bird) greeting us in our parking lot. There are also some stray cats and dogs (not in packs like we see in mountainous area), so I’m sure we’ll have them all named in no time.

I haven’t dived in yet, but I totally plan on testing out our pool this weekend.

View of the pool from my balcony. It’s tempting me.

Basically we’re shopping, exploring, making friends and loving life right now. I’m also really enjoying my new job. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the education curtain, where I get to experience what goes into supporting what happens in the classroom. I’m a little overwhelmed and have a lot to learn, BUT I am so freaking happy that the number one expectation of me is to support teachers. Yes, I represent district and school/district/HQ goals and mandates, but I understand more of why and what they are, etc., etc., etc. LOL I’m sure I’m boring you … so long story short, I love that I am getting to help people like me get what they need, so the kids we love so much get what they need to learn and grow. I was concerned that I might not like giving up teaching, but I think I’m actually really going to love this job. And, I’m really lucky because I swear I’m not lying, there isn’t a single coworker I’ve met that I don’t like. Not a one! How freaking cool is that?

I don’t know why I was stressing so much while we were packing out of Belgium. Joe and I both worried that we were giving up a good thing, and we were, but woo hoo we moved right onto another good (maybe great) thing. So lol we heart Guam too.

Some more Guam pics for your perusal. I just realized that I didn’t upload the best, but oh well I’ll have prettier pics for next time. That last guy is a small coconut crab. I met him and some of his buddies last night while we were having fun at a friend’s pool.

Well, that’s all I have for you now. We’re off to visit a beach and do some more shopping for apartment — throw out extended-arm-for-shower vibes lol because we really don’t like flooding our bathroom.

Have a great weekend! I’ll post some more info about Guam and its history and culture next time.

Hafa Adai!

At Magellan monument in a gorgeous area of Guam. LOL we felt like that tree when we landed.

So, dinner time tonight Joe and I will have been on the lovely island of Guam for one week. It was a trek getting here: Brussels to Chicago to Los Angelas to Honolulu all in one day. We, our six suitcases (two carryons) and two backpacks made it safe and sound (albeit a bit bruised and a lot tired). But who is going to complain when you have a 4-day stopover in Hawaii?

That said dealing with all the timezones and travel is still wreaking a little havoc on our sleep patterns. When we were in Hawaii, our kids in Arizona were three hours ahead of us; Brussels was 8 hours behind; Guam was 20 hours ahead (what?!). Guam is also a little over a 7 hour flight from Hawaii (again, what?!).

Now that we’re in Guam the kids are 17 hours behind us, which works out easier to chat because my day is their night. I have no idea what timezone my body thinks it’s in because by 7 p.m. I’m fighting to keep my eyes open and by 2 or three I’m struggling to keep them closed. That said I managed to stay up until closer to 9 last night and slept (on and off) until after 6 this morning, so I’m getting closer to being normal again.

And that is way more than any of you want to read about jet lag. My co-workers here are all so welcoming and friendly, which seems to be the norm for the island. We have yet to meet anyone grumpy (other than each other when tired). We’re staying in a hotel apartment until we move into our new home, wherever on the island that will be. It’s perfect with a kitchen, washer/dryer, two bathrooms and a balcony that overlooks the busiest street in Guam and the bay. We are so happy to have a little home versus hotel/suitcase living.

We put an offer on an apartment that we were really excited about, but it fell through (so now we’re really bummed about it), but hopefully that means an even better one is waiting for us. It is a diverse island in that there are gorgeous ocean views, and then there are gorgeous mountain views, and also gorgeous backyards with lots of tropical plants and fruit trees. There are also lots of moldy concrete views, which is the only view we’re not going for.

It’s been raining a lot (it is rainy season), but tomorrow promises good weather, so we bought some beach towels, chairs and an umbrella. Fingers crossed tomorrow will be our first beach day on the island. We have more homes to check out on Sunday, and then it’s off to my first day of the new job on Monday. Until then, we explore and keep pinching ourselves because (despite the apartment setback) we live here.

And while we will miss our old home and being so close to our friends there, we’re excited to face all of our new!

The close out mash up

Oh how we loathe the chaos of closing out residency. The UAE was stressful, and Belgium is no better. In many ways I feel like those two countries are in cahoots with how they manage things, except one has way more money than the other, but the other has way more years of governing (it’s a term that has multiple definitions depending on where you live).

So, I got back in one piece late Thursday night (flying this summer truly is also hell, but I’m desperately hoping our next big travel day will be a good one, so I don’t want to jinx myself bitching about it), and got up bright and early Friday, ready to take on the close-out day.

Called my local bank, got an English-speaking rep on the third try, and voila I had an appointment at the branch that day. Got to bank, rep didn’t speak English, but between my bad French, her bad English, and our most excellent Google Translating abilities, we got my rental deposit release letter in order, set things up to cancel my accounts and she hooked me up with an English-speaking rep to close out car insurance.

Yay me (and her)! Win that day. But, there’s a catch, car insurance won’t cancel without me turning in license plate and registration, the base I work on also wants those things (I’ll figure it out).

Cleaner comes to my apartment and does an excellent job. Joe and I take out the last of our things, and I think we’re good to go for our 11 a.m. apartment inspection Monday morning.

It looks so big and lonely without my stuff, and see how clean she is…

Happily I trot on over to apartment. Landlord immediately demands to know where her curtains are. In a previous conversation I pointed out that I replaced the dusty, sun-bleached curtains with my modern ones (and stored hers in the basement). Then she flicked switches on and off and pointed out the lightbulbs that were out. I apologize.

Then she looks under the stove vent — the cleaner, Joe and I completely forgot about the vent filter. “Sticky!” she barks, and I apologize.

She uses google translate to tell me “all this must be fixed.” I google back, can we just take out of deposit? Because, you see, at this point all of our furniture and ladder are gone, so we can’t reach high enough to do lightbulbs. She makes some typical Belgian annoyed sounds and gives me a ‘whoosh.”

So, she’s already in a bad mood. Mind you we have always had a good relationship. I have always paid rent on time. I even enthusiastically showed the apartment to potential renters. I also referred her to a co-worker who rented one of her apartments. She always immediately fixed anything I reported broken.

Other than the vent (an honest oversight) and the stupid lightbulbs the place is immaculate.

But then we get to our garage, and this is where Joe and I are screwed. A few months into our first year the remote for garage door fell apart, we taped it together, but it kept breaking. The inconsiderate fools that we are we didn’t call for help. We simply unplugged the garage door opener and used it manually. It was quicker and easier as well since we had one remote; two drivers with two sets of keys. Anyway, long story short, Joe reactivated the opener day of inspection. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, there was a small dent in frame, so when door closed, it popped back open a little on the bottom.

Definite unhappy sounds come from landlord. The tone she uses with me is one you use when speaking to an idiot, she angrily types on phone. Basically, she tells me I should have reported this, and it would have been an easy fix. I try to explain I didn’t know and didn’t think not using the garage door opener was a problem. I also wonder to myself why it can’t be an easy fix now.

“You must use repairman to fix this,” google tells me.

And, as you all know, I know very little French, just enough to piss people off when I’m trying to be cordial. But, there’s this guy we foreigners use to help us get things done. He’s like super fix it agent guy.

So I send him a message, but, he doesn’t respond quickly enough, so she calls her guy, who will fix, and we will pay. I go to bed that night wondering if I’ll not only lose my 1,350 deposit, but will I now owe on top of that. And while I was angry at Joe and me for not getting those things done, I was also totally demoralized by the situation. It wasn’t that we had to pay; we’ll gladly own up to our responsibilities, it’s the way I was spoken to. It all could have been lost in translation, blah, blah, blah, but let’s be real: I’m an outsider, and boy oh boy did I feel it that day. No matter how much you love living somewhere, and how much you think you try to learn a culture, there’s always someone ready to remind you you’re an idiot for not knowing it. So, please remember this the next time you’re annoyed by someone who doesn’t speak your language or get your ways. We are all on this planet just trying to get by the best way we can, which doesn’t always work out to be the best way.

Anyway, back to the apartment: the signing of close-out papers was rescheduled to Friday, which delays closing this part out at work and delays closing out my bank accounts, but whatevs I’m still here, so it’ll get done.

I did manage a small win shortly after the inspection failure. Proximus, the cable company we have battled with since we got here, was super friendly and super easy. Fingers crossed our accounts are truly closed as promised. The emails they sent seem to confirm that.

And, I had what I felt like was a win on Tuesday. Landlord emailed damages. Long story short only 375 euro will be deducted from my deposit, and that includes the water and property management fees I would have had to pay anyway. I email info to English-speaking bank rep, who emails me documents I don’t fully understand, but whatevs, I forward to landlord. Fingers crossed, we sign, and move on. I meet with bank rep next week to hopefully close out car insurance and my bank account, withdrawing whatever is left in there. Trust me folk the fingers need to be crossed because I’m pretty sure something will go wrong. Closing an account isn’t as easy as it would be to do at home.

My car leaves us for its big trip on Monday.

We’re living the hotel/suitcase life. Tour de France is going through the Wallonie region of Belgium, so all of Mons hotel rooms are booked, so we had to check out of our room at the Lido (the same exact one I lived in for 5 weeks when I first arrived!) and checked into a surprisingly lovely B&B in the countryside. We weren’t sure of what to expect, but the owner is wonderful, and we enjoyed chatting with her in her garden, while she shared an amazing block of aged French cheese. The universe reminding me that there are also always warm, wonderful souls to help pick you up when you’re overwhelmed and stressed.

Then we’re off to a weekend trip somewhere (I need to hike through some woods), and then back to Mons to close out our final bits (we haven’t even begun to close out at the base yet) before we’re off to Brussels for our last few nights. And, yes, there are folk we need to hug goodbye in between the close outs.

I got our flight info today, and it’ll be a voyage, but I’m happy to finally have dates. We fly from Brussels to Chicago to Los Angeles to Honolulu, where we will stay for 4 nights (we’ll need the break!) and then hop on our final plane to Guam. So, unless the travel gods have something else in store for us: we will finally be on the island of Guam on July 22. New job begins Aug 1, so I’ll have a few days to sleep and get my bearings straight, and look at potential homes.

And then the in-processing dance begins, but let’s finish this out stuff first.

But before I close this post out, here are some pics of our walk through the local zoo (this girl still needs her steps and nature. Belgium is truly beautiful.

Time with my babies…

Dinner with my kidoes and the one and only Torin. I love that he’s got his selfie pose down pat

I’ve a long journey ahead of me — on my way back to Brussels. Flying this summer is ill advised, but a girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do. I’d take advantage of the flight vouchers Delta is giving away if only I didn’t have to get my buttocks home to close out my move. Meanwhile, Joe has oversaw the packing up of our stuff; tomorrow he’ll witness it go on truck. I get to sit in airport after airport. My flight to Phoenix was frustrating — lots of delays and rude folk. My flight back doesn’t promise to be much better. My original route has been cancelled, and now I’m headed to Salt Lake City for a 5-hour layover, which will hopefully get me on time to my Amsterdam flight, which will hopefully easily get me on my Brussels flight, but I’ve read Amsterdam is a mess, so we shall see. I’ll eventually be back in Mons.

My week and a half home with the kids was worth every minute of flying hell. We went camping, did some shopping (woo hoo Oma worked out the credit card and even bought herself some new shoes and cool clothes), lots of eating, some swimming, and lots of family chill time. It’s always good getting to spend time with my loved ones, and I needed this little break from the stress of once again moving.

If I get home tomorrow night, I’m sure I’ll pass out, but will have to wake up early to begin the close-out process. We’ll have a few weeks before the big flight fiasco to Guam, but I’ll worry about that then. And then it’ll be time to begin the whole home hunting, new job acclimating, new life adjustment thing, which I should be a pro at by now, but it’s always different.

A few days before I flew home, Shannan flew in from Columbia for a few days. It was great to see her, and she got to witness Dou Dou at its finest. We even got caught in the crowd that surrounds the dragon slaying. I had a few “am I gonna die this way” moments, but we lived to tell about it. AND no Covid. I swear after all these crowds I’ve been in, I consider myself pretty damn lucky.

Here’s a link to video that shows the sacred chariot being ‘pushed’ up the big hill. Yes thousands of people help push it up the hill; some fall and get bones broken. Chariot link

Check out these fools going for horse (er, I mean dragon hair). Dragon slaying

Well it’s after 7 p.m., and I was told KLM reps would be at desk by then, so it’s time for me to finish my wine, and waltz on over to beg for a comfy seat. Fingers crossed I’ll be back in the Belgique by tomorrow!

Viva la weekends!

Oh J’adore Belgique

It’s been forever since I knew I got the new job, but now that I’m just a few days away from closing out my old one it feels like my time here is going by too quickly. We’ve been packing in our weekends with all sorts of fun. Our original plan was to try to visit as many places we have not yet been to as much as possible, but we quickly discovered that’s insane. What we really need to do is enjoy our time here with our friends, who have become like family.

I type this as music from the Grand Place blasts in the background. Dou Dou, the great Mons festival, is finally back, and the town is giddy as all get out. LOL there are so many bands and DJs it’s like one big mashup of songs, and it’s only Thursday. The real party begins tomorrow, which in the past pulled in thousands. I’m guessing even more will come, but I’ll write about this weekend probably when I’m on a layover for my flight home to visit the kids (next Friday).

Two weekends ago we flew into Nice with some friends and stayed in a lovely nearby village (cannot remember its name, but it begins with a V). Our friend rented a car, so we also drove to Monaco — again we didn’t look at events when we booked. So, we strolled the busy streets of Monte Carlo while Formula One roared nearby. Had we known we would’ve booked tickets, but it’s all good we saw enough fancy cars and heard plenty an engine rev, then we escaped before the crowds got too crazy and had a seafood feast on a Nice beach. It was such a great, relaxing, amazing weekend. Wish I took the time to write about it when we were experiencing it! But, here are some pics.

Last weekend we had fun in Brussels. We finally got to go to a Red Devils game where they lost badly (it’s all good two days ago they won 6-1). I love Belgium, but oh my goodness sometimes it also has the weirdest way of doing things. We are living as if Covid is not. A Red Devils match is a big deal, but the way you enter the stadium is you find your zone, enter the mob pit and slowly millimeter your way toward the ONE turnstile that lets you in one by one. Apparently creating line queues is not possible. But, whatevs, we eventually got in, and we had a great time. Our pre-game tailgating was in front of an Arabic bakery and sandwich shop where we ate the best savory pastries (the curry chicken one oh yum yum) and drank Jupiler (lol the party beer for sports and festivals). Lots of cheering, singing and loving life.

The next day we did touristy things like visit an automobile museum (Torin Oma bought you some gifts), sip at lots of places, including the Beer Project, and lol strolled through a sewer museum, which I’ll have you know is by reservation only, and ate a tasty meal. Another perfect day.

Basically, we’re doing what we do best imbibing and inhaling the good that life has to offer. Next week is my last week of teaching, and then we’ll be doing the close-out tango, which rarely is fun.

Until then it’s Doudou madness!

Sleep well, little ones

“There’s a lot of ugly things in this world, Son.  I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you.”  Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Many moons ago, a few weeks after my move to Phoenix, September 11th happened.  My then-young children and I joined our new neighbors in a candlelight vigil.  It gave us a chance to get to know and grieve with them.  After awhile one of my kids asked if it was time to blow out the candles.  I said they could but only after they sent out a wish to those affected by the violence.

My son in the second grade said “I hope they catch the bad guys who did this.”

My daughter in the seventh grade said “I hope there will be no war over this.”

My youngest, a kindergartner, thought about this for a bit and said “I wish that the mommies and daddies who died can come back for one more night to tuck in their kids and kiss them Good Night.”  And then blew out his candle, spreading his profound request into the universe. 

Decades later, and I am still moved by those words because, at the end of the day, that’s all any of us want is to be loved and protected and tucked safely into our sleep.  

While I am so incredibly proud of my adult children, and I am grateful that they are continuing to find love and awe in this world, I am also fully aware that there’s an edge of cynicism and fatalism to them. Maybe it’s simply in our DNA and the way mankind has always had to be, but, in part, I think it’s because we have failed them. There is what we teach our young: play nice, do the right thing, be honest, be kind, respect others, resolve your issues. And then there’s what we model: point fingers, play dirty to win, resort to violence, refuse to compromise, fuck ‘their’ feelings or ideals or rights, etc. etc.

We cannot expect our children to grow into the problem solvers we need them to be if we do not practice what we preach.  

I woke to the news that yet another mass school shooting took the lives of too many.  I dread the thread of debates and platitudes that will once again ensue — more arguing, more finger pointing, more blaming. 

While acts of violence and hate happen all over the word, the shooting up of children (by children) at school has become as American as our red stripes. How did we get to this point?  Why are we at this point?  Why can’t we get beyond this point?

This will again become political when our issues are not politics.  Politics are theories of governance that influence our decision making connected to what rules us.   We need to take a long, hard look at what we’ve let rule us because it aint working.  Oh, I have so much more to say, but I need to focus on doing the teacherly thing at work, which sadly is also political, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Tonight, when I go home, I will once again light a candle and make my youngest son’s wish — in reverse. And, while I know we cannot bring the dead back to life, nor change the horror of the last minutes of those young souls, I do hope the positive of what we have to offer will one day blow out the flame of this nasty reality in our communities.

Ahoy matey!

Well, I’ve made it another year among the living, and Joe stepped up our game when it comes to birthday gifts. He planned a surprise weekend trip to Rotterdam, where we spent our nights sleeping on the SS Rotterdam, a retired cruise ship that now serves as a hotel and meeting/celebration venue.

We loved it. The ship was a stunner in its day, and an affordable way for us to experience what high living would have been like in the 1960s (fittingly enough, the decade I was born). It also seems to be a hit among the Dutch because we didn’t run into any other native English speakers like we usually do when vacationing. That’s A-ok by me because in my next life I’d like to be born in the Netherlands. I just love everything about it. And the Dutch speak better English than most of us do.

Since the ship isn’t in the city center, it’s easy to drive to on a Friday night (and it has plenty of parking next to it). Best part is it has a water taxi stop, so still super easy (and fun) to tour the rest of Rotterdam, which is always a fun city to visit. In typical Netherlands style, it owns its vibe — a combination of old, modern, and a whole lot of quirky “let’s try it this way.”

A view of the ship from our water taxi, a must-do when touring Rotterdam

We mostly strolled, sipped and checked out touristy things (which are worth it) like Markthal, the cube houses, city streets and the little red ship that’s a bar restaurant (shame on me; it has a name, but I can’t remember it).

As you can see I posted several pics of the little red ship because I just liked it so much. Joe dropped the ball on NOT reserving the floating hot tub for us because hello? that so is my style. We got a kick out of the floating bus, which we also passed while it was driving on the street.

So, yep another fun weekend was had. Next up is Nice. We’re packing in our trips while packing up our pad. I don’t yet have my orders, but our next move is official. I imagine I’ll receive my orders sometime this week, which means I can schedule our furniture pickup, car shipment, etc. Our goal is to have it all done by early July, and then find ourselves in our new location sometime before my start date of August 1. I’m finally at peace with saying goodbye to all that here has to offer, and I’m totally excited to begin our new adventure. Which will be in…

Guam! Can you believe?

Image nabbed from https://www.istockphoto.com/fr/photos/guam-sunset

Oh, and I finally broke down and bought a new phone that can actually take pics, sooooooo cannot wait to see the photos Guam will bless me with. But, before then, I’ll be sure to snap plenty more of the gifts Europe continues to share with us.

Art!

So we’re filling our days appreciating nature-made and man-made art. We spent a night at a quaint seaside town in the Netherlands just so we could finally visit Keukenhof, an amusement park for flowers, mostly tulips.

Although a seaside town in April is still cold — beautiful but chilly.

The one-night trip was exactly what we needed, and the park did not disappoint (although after awhile you’re exhausted from all that color). I nabbed Joe’s phone and snapped way too many photos.

Get ready to feast your eyes on some flower power

I paint flowers so they will not die.” Frida Kahlo

Sadly all those blooms will be gone soon, and visitors will have to wait until Spring 2023 to see their offspring. But, that’s okay because there’s always plenty else to see. This past weekend we hopped on a train after work and spent the weekend in Paris, just so I could finally visit Musee d’ Orsay.

I didn’t snap too many pictures because I was getting lost in all the art. Of course I love the Impressionist wing, but it was also packed with rude folk. I totally get that people want their selfies in front of a famous piece of work, and I have no beef with that. But, there are also people who are there to actually look at those paintings. I try my best to not obstruct someone’s view; I wait my turn, and then I like to get lost in whatever I’m looking at. I’m cool with others standing next to me to do the same. Other folk actually know about the paint strokes and the craft, and they too like to look at it. And, then we’re bumped or pushed out of the way so people can do their Insta thing. It happens at all the big museums that allow photography, so there’s my rant for the day. Take your pics, but for the love of art take a moment to appreciate it too (and allow others to do the same). There are also plenty of rooms the crowds don’t flock to, and I treasured those. Plus, I bought a book loaded with pics of the museum’s collection — way better photos than I would have been able to take.

If you do get to go, don’t miss out on the top floor cafe/bar before entering the Impressionist wing. It is beautiful and totally worth the extra euros you’ll pay for your sip of wine or beer.

We were also lucky that the weather was great, so we did lots of strolling and sipping (and nibbling), which is the absolute best way to enjoy Paris (or any place for that matter).

Basically I’m winding down this school year taking in all that is near me. I’m also stressed because we’re in the beginning phase of getting things ready for our big move. I try to balance it out with planning more trips, so the next two months are going to be a see saw of “why is this so difficult” and “why is that so amazing.”

As always it will all work out in the end. Today I’m grateful that it’s Friday. There’s a beer festival and ‘street party’ going on at the Grand Place this weekend, so I’m sure we’ll find some other versions of art to enjoy in just a few hours. Bonne Weekend!

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