Getting Reacquainted with an Adopted Home

Interior Matriz da Praia
Visiting Matriz da Praia, the church where Sofia and I got married

Returning at Christmas (Natal) in Praia da Vitoria, some things haven’t changed since 1679, other things are amazingly different. The church is still beautiful, intricate, very hallowed. It’s also empty, as are the streets. Few pedestrians on the fussgangerzone (Pedestrian zone) and they are mostly wearing masks. Traditional warm greetings of Boas Festas (literally Good Celebration) are now largely replaced by a semi-curt nod; only the eyes if you’re close enough to see them relay warmth. Largely the wonderment of the season is replaced by the trepidation of “What’s tomorrow bringing?” When family gathers (many times, but only up to 10 at a time) discussions of “What’s happening in America?” and “What do you hear of things on mainland Portugal?”

One of the first stops on returning the island is always Matriz da Praia where we married many many many years ago. A visit to the cemitario to pay respects to friends, family and always Padre Candido, the wonderful priest who married us (and baptized Sofia, and confirmed, etc…). For me, I guess it’s a way of re-establishing my roots in my adopted home; it always works to get my mind back into island life.

And it helps get ready for this weird Christmas season…the knowledge that each of the generations before have not had Covid, but they have all faced challenges and triumphed. As will we!!!!

Boas Festas, Feliz Natal, Frohe Weinachten, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, adn Be Safe!

 

Took 13 months, but I’m Baaack:)

Pandemmic Look
Staying away from barbers for more than a year

Wanted to spend some time with my offspring in the states. Left two days before Thanksgiving…2019. Had wonderful holidays, did some travelling (never enough), visited friends and made planes to visit more, then the world changed and we found ourselves “locked down” in the States.  So we adjusted; got a couple of part-time jobs, got an apartment in Alexandria, and spent most of our time watching Netflix from the comfort of our little futon. Occasionally I would help out in my old office in the Department of the Interior, go grocery shopping with one daughter, meander up the liquor store, and wait for the world to change back. Making calls, video chats, Zoom meetings, and the like…some local, and some long distance!

So it was a different Rat Race, but we evolved until we could return to our island paradise, family, friends (all wearing masks now)! So we’re back in Porto Martins, sitting on our couch, wearing masks, watching Netflix, occasionally going grocery shopping, and calling friends and family to see how everyone how everyone is weathering….still some calls are local and some are long distance.

Saved considerable amounts of money on this lockdown…since I’m High-Risk for the virus, I didn’t want to risk exposure to a barber when they did open things up. Some say “it’s the real you” and others say “Arghhhh, get a haircut!” Maybe when things settle down after the vaccines are out:)

Missing friends and family, but know it’s necessary!

No Festivals this year:(
Annual Praia Fest parades cancelled this year for the pandemic, sad but necessary.

Missing Home! Yesterday Air Azores started flights back to the island for the first time in months. First flights were filled, we hear. This also on the heels of news that the U.S. is not on the list allowing visitors to Europe, and the slightly confusing reports that the Azores may or may not play by the same rules. We’ll wait and see what options develop; we miss home and we also love so many friends and family on the island that we have no desire to endanger any of them. Meanwhile, we isolate, watch TV, and drink Aguar Dente!

Overwatch

Overwatch — that’s what we used to call the team which had the best vantage point and sufficient power to keep an eye on anyone operating at a lower level. That’s the team who never tired, you could always count on, had the most creativity, communication skills and knew when to act and when not to.

Here at Casa da Sonho, we currently have a great overwatch team commanded by a great friend and neighbor… and her team:)

Bumper Junior and Easy E
Bumper Junior and Easy E stand Overwatch
Donkeys on nearby Captain's Mountain overlooking Casa da Sonhos
Donkeys on nearby Captain’s Mountain  (Pico do Capitao) overlooking Casa da Sonhos

Drinking with new friends

Sofia nad Christina join ladies at Porto Martins Senior's Support activity
Sofia and Christina join ladies at Porto Martins Senior’s Support activity

So if you’re looking to find something to keep you busy, help your adopted community, and meet some great folks, look into joining the local neighbors who gather every Tuesday to make and serve lunch for area seniors.

Sofia and Christine (neighbor ahd childhood BFF) join local ladies, share recipes and family stories each week, while whipping up some truly delectable dishes. Meanwhile, a local bus picks up about 25 seniors, brings them to the Casa da Povo, where everyone enjoys updates, cards, crafts, and memories.

It’s refreshing and invigorating. Astonishment abounds.  One gentleman who was older than 80 excused himself from the table to answer his cell phone. I was astonished because he grew up in the days of horse and donkey carts, cars, airplanes, wars, wired telephones phones, television, and now mobile phones. Amazing!!

Equally amazing is how the Casa da Povo still is a center of village activity, bullfights and celebrations, concerts, dances, and religious observances still provide so much social structure to this island with one movie theater and no malls.

I only hope I can enjoy as much at that age.

 

“Happy wife, Happy life…” so the saying goes. Happy wife has more flowers around the house…

Ladies cleaning up after planting new flower bed.
The warden and her friend clean up after we put in a flower bed lining the walkway between our front door and the front gate at Casa Da Sonhos. So when you come visit, you’ll be greeted by beauty, warmth, and love.

Thank goodness, we have more flowers, a new flower bed on each side of the front walkway, and a more difficult lawn mowing job…do you detect just a little sarcasm?

Things here on the island run slow. Very slow. Sofia planned the flower beds last January, we ordered the cement borders from mainland, they arrived in August, and we planted them yesterday. Our wonderful neighbor helped, and we spent most of the day working on flower beds in our yard, in the street in front of our house (a turn-around overlooking the bay and a popular place for tourists) and in Christina’s yard.

One stereotype for retirees is “working in the garden.” I wasn’t expecting that to be part of my retirement. Hmmmmm, expectations and life don’t always balance out, right? But…. Happy wife, Happy life:)

Home…

Moving, visiting, or returning; I always visit the library!

Sofia on steps to her old school, now the Praia Public Library
My darling returns to her roots…we visit the Praia da Vitoria Public Library…in the same building where she attended first through third grade…up these same stone steps!

Wherever I go, I strive to learn more about the local culture, and one of the best places is always the local library. I always meet the librarians; they have a broad spectrum of resources, they are friendly, smart, and helpful. (See Janie, I do like librarians:))

In our new home, the library also happens to be in the same building where my darling bride attended school nearly half a century ago — I was starting high school then:) She remembers walking up these same steps. We also learned the librarian attended the same school when she was that age. Small world:)

Take it from me, if you travel, move, retire, adopt a different culture, or just plain want to relax and learn at your own pace (no homework!) get a library card…I always have and always will. You learn more, meet some amazing people, and it doesn’t cost a thing!

Traveling mainland Portugal lately … a little of everything

Lisboa Caparica Praia with people everywhere
Lisboa Caparica Praia – the beaches outside Lisbon are busy, hot, and have great surf. Every kind of people, young, old, gorgeous, friendly, and of many nationalities…just one of the many attractions after a short drive…traffic permitting:)

Seems like forever since I wrote, sorry. Traveled with family to mainland, just for a short trip off island. Stayed at a friend’s apartment, rented a car, and had a great time. Never enough time to see everything you want; visited shops, fantastic bakeries, beaches, landmarks, and malls.

The one greatest thing about retiring outside the U.S.A. is the unbelievable diversity. I was never raised as a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy, and traveling in mainland emphasizes that every minute. Of course, they have meat and potatoes, but also every manner of fish, cous cous, rice, pastries, and candies. One of our best meals was fire-roasted pork ribs and potatoes in a little out of the way restaurant near Sintra, run for decades by an magnificent lady called Alice — thus I dubbed it “Alice’s Restaurant.” So we sat at the Group W Bench and chatted with Alice about her history, the good times and bad, how she had stayed with the business so long, etc. (Officer Obie was long gone by then:)) She was wonderful, the food was wonderful, and there is no way I could find this place again without GPS. But I will try, believe me!

For a history buff, Lisboa has a lot. I have visited many times and only scratched the surface. I’ll keep going back as long as I can. One trek I still want to make is to walk over the Roman aqueduct built in the 1600s. You can walk from one end to the other, and it completely bisects the town so the view must be awesome. It’s not a “ruin,” it’s in perfect shape, so the folks who built it really knew what they were doing! Not to mention museums, cathedrals, gardens, narrow streets and stairways, and of course, the warm reception from nearly everyone.

So please put Lisbon on your list. It’s awesome, fun, crowded, and warm. I think you can’t help but love it. See you there!

Gone….but never forgotten

The USCGC Eagle sails out of Praia da Vitoria, still flying the beautiful flag.
The USCGC Eagle sails out of Praia da Vitoria, still flying the beautiful U.S. flag. We spent many hours with the crew and cadets, including eating, drinking, hiking, touring, and standing in the rain. Seeing the flag makes us feel great about my past defending the U.S.A. and talking with the cadets makes me feel better about the future of the U.S.A.

With mixed emotions we bid farewell to the USCGC Eagle after participation in the Praia da Vitoria celebration of the U.S. 4th of July celebration. Apparently much of it was organized by the US Embassy Lisbon. I spent a great deal of time with the cadets (drinking in rain-soaked bars and hiking down island trails) and also talking with embassy, Camara da Praia, and base officials.

I expect that to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S State Department, this was mostly a training opportunity for the cadets and a Show of the Flag operation. To many of us living on this remote island in the Atlantic, this was a tremendous reminder of the country we love. Many hundreds of us visit our homeland occasionally, talk to loved ones there often, and watch day-old newscasts about what’s happening at home. We talk often (with some adult beverages involved) about the good, the bad, the great memories, the pain and the joy of our lives in America. Behind each face in each discussion are memories, some good, some painful, but each amplifying diverse emotions. This diversity is bound together by one thing which was on display for a few days in the harbor…our love of a great nation!

Thank you to every American tax payer that footed the bill for this visit. Lest we ever complain about how your tax dollar is used (of course, I never have:) ) we thank you for the pittance spent on this USCGC Eagle visit. I, for one, truly appreciate this reminder. And thanks again to Lee Greenwood for a tag line….

When you take time to see the world, Terceira has some fantastic examples of the old and the new side by side

photo of Pico Alto Terceira geothermal plant next to antique farmer's barn on hiking trail.
Hours into a hiking trail, we crossed through fields of cows (some not too happy to see us) and then discovered this aging barn…next to the island’s 2017 four-megawatt geothermal plant harnessing subterranean renewable energy; to be the second largest binary geothermal plant in the world.

I love the juxtaposition of Terceira, I always have. From antiquated (maybe I should say more restrictive) dating protocols to donkey carts with milk cans in a parking meter zone, the old and the new live side by side and strongly influence each other.

I’m truly amazed when I visit Padre Candido’s grave in the Praia cemetery (Padre Candido performed every ceremony for my wife’s generation in the main church — baptisms, communions, confirmations, and funerals) where many visitors still are shrouded completely in black to visit their loved one’s graves. This year, across the street from the cemetery, is our newest restaurant, a Burger King with signs in English and the tallest, most non-traditional sign towering above the antique cemetery.

Recently we’re trudging through yet another cow pasture as part of another marked hiking trail. We head down a dirt trail and pass one of the hundreds of hand-built, stone barns which have served families and their cows for centuries. Behind one I hear and then see a geothermal electric generation facility – the second largest in the world when it opened in 2017. This system (trying to paraphrase some really tough words) harnesses the steam and pressures in the volcanic island to generate about 10% of the island’s electricity. And 50 feet away, farmers repair rock walls and old wooden gates to keep milk cows in their pasture.

Sometimes I wonder how the generations and technological advances exist. One anthropological measure of a culture explores how change and tradition interact. From my limited understanding of these wonderful people in this European environment, I have to admire how they go to church on Sundays and Holy days, and then drive both donkey carts and GPS-guided tractors to their fields to raise sustenance for their families.

It’s not always a perfect balance, and it’s not always peace and harmony. But it is working, and I’m having a magnificent time exploring and learning about how they maintain traditions and also capitalize on new technology. I’m learning more about my neighbors, my in-laws, and I’m even learning more about myself and America.

So when I get impatient and frustrated with stores are closed for lunch, or when the cows are blocking the road while I’m in a hurry, I force myself to remember that this island is not “backwards,” they are more advanced than I was when living in DC. They have evolved into a more balanced way of coping with life!

Darwin was right…

He visited Terceira on the Beagle on 16 September 1836 and liked Terceira

When I announced I was retiring to this island, many many many (enough get the idea?) friends and family inquired regarding my sanity…seems no one thought I could just “retire,” as apparently some perceive it against my nature of staying busy. So I added that I would find something to occupy my mind … something besides gin and beaches.

My dear friend and colleague Vince provided me with a unique opportunity when he was researching where I would retire; Vince discovered a book by Patrick Armstrong from the University of Western Australia’s Department of Geology entitled Charles Darwin’s Last Island: Terceira, Azores, 1836. Vince also helped me get in touch with Professor Armstrong, who applauded my plan and sent me one of his last autographed copies of the 64-page book. Armstrong has written extensively on the voyages of the HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin.

My project to stay busy is to examine various accounts of the stop at Terceira (after five years at sea) before Darwin finally returned to England. My plan is to develop a presentation for tourists of Darwin’s stops around the island, his comments and impressions, and offer a better understanding of his work at Terceira. It seems Darwin liked the island, the geology, the flora and fauna, the people and culture. So do I. So to learn more about my adopted home, I will retrace his impressions. (To do the project justice, I must also learn more about some of Darwin’s observations in geology, botany, natural history, evolution, and socioeconomic cultures).

As a side note, Author Patrick Armstrong visited Terceira for his book in May of 1992, unbeknownst to me. At that time I was stationed at Lajes AB with the American Air Force and was busy planning my wedding to the most beautiful girl on the island in just a few months. Indeed, it is entirely possible that the professor and I dined at the same places and visited the same landmarks simultaneously and didn’t know it.

So if you’re used to being active, using both brain and technology to make some contribution to our civilization (no matter how small), and retiring, I suggest you look at your skills, find a project which keeps them sharp, and set a leisurely course for a project to give you something to think about … and if it helps you learn more about your new environment, so much the better.

Volksmarching island style…without the medallions

Three sisters on the San Sebastao trail posing at the Fort for the Little Fishermen
Hiking trails dot the island, and longer summer days are a fantastic chance for families and friends to get together, laugh hysterically, and get some exercise. Fair warning…hiking up some of these hills take a lot of energy:)

Living many years in Germany, I have Volksmarched in hundreds of villages, always enjoying the company, the camaraderie, wine, bier and soup. I still have many medallions by which to remember these walks. (Try explaining to the wife why we need to keep these memories and move them around the world for decades while they stay in a box in the garage!) Terceira boasts many magnificent marked walking trails, so we forego the medallions and take long leisurely (mostly) walks with friends, family, and folks we’ll get to know better.

Birds, cows, bulls, scenic shorelines, waves, distant sailboats, and historic buildings are commonplace. Seems like every turn on the trail brings us to an old barn, fort, and farmers caring for their herds. Ancient stone “line shacks” built generations ago for people and equipment to brave high winds and rain while tending herds of milking cows, horses and donkeys. Historic forts along the coast bear witness to the defense of islands centuries ago, and shrines, memorials, and crosses bear witness to generations of hard-working people and their struggles, sacrifices and triumphs. Walking these trails also gives a retiree time to think about our lives; for example, I record most of my struggles, sacrifices and triumphs on digital media…so generations from now, will my grandchildren (sem dica filhas, não apressando ninguém) miss the sun, fresh winds, and exercise of these walks)? Will they miss climbing those damn high hills?

Speculation is academic, I learned many years ago to live in the moment. I’ll forego the medallions, forego the bier, brötchen and wurst (sadly), and strike out on a new trail to make new memories. Evening hikes on Terceira with family and friends make new memories and I recommend them highly. They make wonderful moments, enjoyable blog content (I hope), exciting digital photos, and that’s important to me right now!

View of Porto Martins from the top of the trail near Tres Marias, Terceira, Azores, Portugal.
View of Porto Martins from the top of the trail near Tres Marias, Terceira, Azores, Portugal.

First guests at Casa da Sonhos

First US visitors spent a week seeing the sites
Visiting from the states for their first overseas travel, our dear friends spent a week touring our island and got home safe and sound with many many many photos. What a joy and great memories!

Like nearly everything, retiring overseas has it’s pros and cons. Visiting family and friends often means living out of a suitcase, this time for a month. We visited several old towns, family, friends, neighbors, loved ones acquaintances, and business associates. Some of the “pros” included watching a daughter graduate and meeting her friends, spending some quality time with another daughter, and getting to try several exciting new rental cars. Some of the “cons” include never enough time with everyone, never enough time to add another name to the list of visits, bad Internet connections, spending too much money, and sleeping on several different floors, beds, couches, and air mattresses.

But this trip also brought home with us a couple of friends who we’ve travelled with, ridden motorcycles with, camped with, drunk with, and worried with. Though they never had travelled outside the North American continent, they had pledged to come see our retired life on the island, and they did! We had a wonderful time showing them around, they tried new foods, made new friends, and made us very very happy. They braved days of air travel, TSA lines (Boston…arghhh) and they rode in boats, trains, and numerous cars and trucks. We laughed, cried, and can’t wait to see them again.

We’ve decided that travel back home is great, memories are great, Kodak moments are great…but the best thing by far is realizing how many friends and family are supporting you, even with an ocean or two between you and them! The only thanks they want is for us to be happy and that’s pretty invaluable!

“Visiting” homes…you can’t step in the same river twice, but seeing friends and family is great…so is coming home!

Living overseas offers a unique opportunity to return to where friends and family live, catch up on the good and bad news of everyone’s live, share news of the new life you have, and then COME HOME:) Even with mostly rain in the U.S., we made new friends, saw our daughters grow and excel, hug and kissed dozens of great folks, and then survive several flights, airports, and we’re home, enjoying a great view, a visit from some great friends, and the joys of unpacking.

Coming home always gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I succeeded in pushing myself, affecting lives (hopefully positive) and returning to a refreshed outlook on life.

Travelling is great fun; coming home is greater:)

Visiting the states

Traveling in Michigan…the Air Zoo with friends is the perfect way to spend a rainy day.

Kalamazoo Michigan Air Zoo…a great part of living overseas is coming back to friends and family occasionally. During days of pouring spring rains (and snow!) visiting the Zoo’s magnificent aircraft and history museum with Dan has been one highlights…great memories past and present!

Working at the Kalamazoo Gazette, we watched the Kalamazoo Air Zoo grow and become even more interesting, professional, and fascinating. Years in the USAF, the growing list of static display aircraft and well-prepared professional exhibits are both reminiscent and inspiring.

The only thing I can think of that tops it is a cold brew with old motorcycling buddies (and perfect hosts) and visiting colleagues, family, church, and sharing their triumphs, disappointments, joys and sadness. Bragging about retired life in the Azores is just a part of the excitement:)

Special thanks to everyone who has helped us on this journey, past, present, and future.

Immersion…understanding the past wherever I am seems to help me adjust

Sometimes your parents were right…mom and dad always told me to “play to your strengths.” One of mine is history, so whenever I travel, I try to learn more about what happened in the past to better understand people and culture. It’s proven helpful in my past and led to some small triumphs in business, government, and romantic situations in Europe, the orient, Africa, central America, and especially in my new, retired residence in Terceira.

A group of “American” and “Azorean” friends spent a day in the city of Angra do Heroismo at the museum, which I hadn’t visited for about 20 years. We wandered through professionally-styled exhibits about the past 600 years on our island; I learned new things and many of the folks who’ve lived here their whole lives learned some new things as well. After a great lunch at Chico’s (yes, we did get to know the local cuisine and help the wine economy as well) the warden and I had dinner with friends from the states who’ve retired here, as well as a wonderful Portuguese couple (he’s an artist and historian) who know a lot of the island history as well. We talked well into the night, learning more about each other, the language (I’m slower than most) the culture, our personal histories, our likes and dislikes. We made plans to spend more time together and to visit some sites near our new home which may have evidence of residents here well before what has been recorded.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed in a new place, or even underwhemled, play to your strengths. Be brave enough to go to a sports field, automotive collection, even the local taxi stand where the drivers just talk while queued up, and offer to buy a cup of coffee. For many of them, it’s a distraction; for you, it might be following age-old advice from your parents…which I never did when I was a kid:)

the choir loft of the church, now the Museu do Angra do Heroismo
The “gang” taking a quick rest touring the Museu do Angra do Heroismo, an old church and convent on the Placa Velho (old main square). A wonderful day of history and new friends.

More high winds…it’s beautiful!

Moon over Praia Bay Lighthouse -After a hard day of mowing the grass, battling with computers, washing the dishes...this is better than "Miller Time"
After a hard day of mowing the grass, battling with computers, washing the dishes…this is better than “Miller Time”

Sometimes I have to stop and think…or go walking along the boardwalk with my lady in the moonlight.

When anyone asked me about retirement before I came over here, I’d tell them “Not less problems, just different problems.” I was right. But since I’m a “glass is half empty” kind of guy, I never mentioned “but the rewards are better.”

Different problems. Health insurance isn’t what we thought. More bureaucracy than we ever dreamed possible. Never enough money. Different cultural expectations…traditionally you say to everyone who walks into a shop while you’re in there or they think I’m a stuck up American, little things like that.

But the rewards. Besides gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, winds whipping your wheelbarrow across the back yard (yes, darling, I’ll go move it back after I finish this post!), and the invigorating howl of winds, you get fresh fish for lunch, watch the donkeys on the mountaintop graze, go shopping with your neighbor, and a fresh ham and cheese sandwich and shot of coffee for breakfast.

So I admonish anyone thinking about retiring, moving your family, traveling to a new place…keep things in perspective but be realistic…not no problems, just different problems…and better rewards!

Happy Carnival; Mardi Gras;

No matter what it’s called, enjoy with friends and family!

Not sure of the story, or the Freguesia they’re from, or even what some of the jokes or songs were about, but the audience enjoyed their work and enjoyed it together!

Many people ask what do you do for fun on the island. During the first week of March, on Terceira we do the same thing most Christian cultures do…we gather with friends & family and enjoy Carnival … as only the Azores can!

Preparing for Ash Wednesday and Lent, much of the Christian world has parades, dances, (some drinking) and especially laughter, merriment, and a joy and respect for life. On Terceira, I have enjoyed parades through main streets, poetry, concerts, comedies, and each Freguesia (village) around the island hosts many “Dança”

We get together with friends and travel the few kilometers to each Freguesia’s “Casa do Povo” (House of the People — or Community Center) where volunteer community groups from all over the island perform. (Last night in Juncal we watched about 60 Americans from Cambridge, MA, with roots on the island return to perform). It’s amazing; powerful, fun, and inspiring. For a few hours, many (not all) put up their cell phones, sit with grandparents, little children, teens, young parents — all to sit tightly packed in folding chairs and watch performances.

I sat through many (some funny, some musical, some ‘less than appealing to me’ ) and tried to find a way to describe them, both literally and figuratively.

Figuratively, I find them inspiring. Positive. Empowering. Old people, youngsters, lawyers, farmers, school teachers, bartenders…everyone is sitting there laugh, humming, swaying, dancing, and enjoying.

Literally, I had more challenge to describe it. Late last night (very very late) I hit on it…it’s vaudeville! I wasn’t sure, so I checked with my buddy Julian: Wikipedia says: vaudeville is a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation. It was originally a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, usually a comedy, interspersed with songs or ballets.

On Terceira, each 45-minute performance is a volunteer group, often from the same village, who sing, dance, make their costumes (very elaborate and refined) and ignore stage fright aside to harmonize, recite, dance, tell jokes, and often memorize 45 minutes of dialog, to the enjoyment of friends and strangers.

These folks have fun, work hard, learn and pass on skills, thoughts, humor, love, and community. Personally, I’m not sure what the ancients had in mind for Carnival, but in my teeny weeny mind, this is a major part of it. And it’s a part of a different culture that I’m really enjoying!

One of the finer things in life

A European island has some challenges, some frustrations, and some of the finest traditions I know…a cup of coffee is one of them. Now trust me, NO ONE enjoys a drink or three, some “adult beverages,” a great wine with dinner (as well as before and after), and some just plain hard-charging Aguar Dente (Portuguese drink, often homemade, clear, high-proof, different flavors, similar I think to Brazilian Cachaca) … well, you get the idea. But no matter what the weather, with or without a meal, meeting an old friend, lover, American or not, NOTHING compares to sharing a cup of coffee. I think NOTHING! It can take anywhere from a few minutes break from work to an hour-long conversation, rendez-vous, or a quick respite from pouring rain.

My experience is that many of my friends from Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, France, or Portugal who visit the U.S.A. usually complain, when they return to their respective homeland, that many Americans don’t understand what a cup of coffee does for your mental well-being. And retiring here, I can’t disagree … it is a wonderful tradition.

Try it…and if you like, give me a call and tell me where and when…I’ll be there!

Ahhhhhhhhhhh

The Grass is Always Greener…

The Grass is Always Green…After it Rains:)

Paradise?

Winter in Porto Martins means a lot of wind, a lot of rain, and a lot of mowing the grass. It’s cool, I love cutting grass, and that’s a good thing. I usually get up before the sun, get some work done on the computer, then when the warden gets up, we have breakfast, watch the news from the states, look out the windows, and plan our day.

Little did I realize that my day includes mowing that beautiful green grass at least once a week! Nearly every day this week, I’ve woken to beautiful sunny days, and by the time we’re working on lunch, it’s raining, visibility is down to about 2 kilometers, and we’re feeling sorry for the birds, the cows, and the neighborhood cats…all outside in the rain.

I am reminded of my first year in Germany where the weather statistically was worse than Pittsburgh, then the worst flying weather in the U.S. Everyone said “You have to live with rain and snow.” I did. My parents would always remind us kids that our native Michigan tribes learned to live with nature — and rain and snow are natural. So I’m not having much trouble adapting to the weather in the Acores…just mowing the grass all the time:)

So if anyone asks me what I’m doing with my retirement, I can honestly say I’m spending much of it with nature; walking the beaches, hiking in the mountains, and of course, cutting the grass.