Dad, sweet Dad

April 1 is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 107 today. He used to tell the joke about how how his grandfather would have been considered a remarkable man. Why? Because he would be over a hundred years old. I can hear him telling that on himself, chuckling.

Kenneth E. Leslie, father, salesman, veteran, jokester. He was all of these things.

With infant Joan

That was pretty much Dad’s jokes – familiar, well-worn gimmicks. Repetition was his specialty. He loved the tale of “Silent Cal” Coolidge, our thirtieth President, who supposedly was asked, on leaving church, what the preacher spoke about. “Sin,” he replied. Asked what the preacher said about it, he replied, “He was against it.” We got to be reminded of this tale every Sunday, when my mom dragged the three of us kids to church (Redeemer Lutheran, if you are from Ramsey) while Dad stayed home. Afterward, when we pulled into the driveway, Dad would come up from his garden to greet us. “Well, what did the minister talk about? Did he talk about sin?” (wince) “Was he against it?” (wince) Often he played straight man to his own jokes; it was the only way he could get to tell them.

He was a terrible tease. He grew up with his brothers Wally, Burton and Ernie, who all kidded each other mercilessly. He must have made a life decision at some point always to be the guy who pokes fun at people, or looks for funny things that they do. He and I went on a camping trip together and watched a family in the adjoining campsite, where a guy was sitting in a camp chair, shouting orders to his wife and kids as they struggled to put up the tent. “Look at that guy – the big boss, shouting the orders while everyone else does all the work!” Another example is a family member who didn’t have the best of grammar, who would say stuff like “We was going…” Dad would turn to me, and in an undertone, go “we was!!” Years and years of this helped me become the irritating and satirical genius that I am today.

With Freckles, Ramsey, NJ, about 1957

This came out where his parenting was concerned, in his repeating of the same joke endlessly, or calling attention to something that bugged you. He knew I liked music, so he would say, “Why do people waste time with music? They could be trading on the Stock Market.” Despite his purported dislike of music, he could hum melodies with cornball lyrics, like this little gem, “George Washington Bridge,”  He was actually a very talented guy, for someone who pretended to hate that stuff.  We all heard the story of how Dad played a female part in the school play, at Lowell Textile School, because there were no women.  (Today, Lowell is a full engineering school, and is coed.)

With Aunt Ruth and Uncle Norman, around 1989. That day Derek crawled off the couch and rolled onto the floor.  He survived just fine.

And yet he was the tenderest soul. You couldn’t criticize or make fun of him. That was just how it was. But the plus side of this was that he almost never yelled. He just got upset. And for a dad, he had what I would call a healthy, sensible attitude toward sports, in other words, it wasn’t a religion for him. He enjoyed watching a ball game once in a while, but I never saw the “I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!!” kind of screaming at the tv set. He asked that I try at least one sport in school. I tried two – wrestling and cross country, so in my mind I had met the budget, and it was OK with him. Rather than worry that his son would not be sporty enough, he worried I was going to get killed in junior football, because of my ineptitude in the game. (That’s the subject of another essay.)

To balance his satirical side, he had the softest heart of anyone I have ever met. When his kid brother, Ernie, died of a massive heart attack at age 43, he wept openly in front of the whole family. He never hid tears, and that was a powerful, positive lesson for me. It was OK to cry! Later I learned that many men grew up otherwise. He loved poetry, and would quote his favorites from time to time. (“Hardly a man is now alive…”) Some poems triggered something tender in him, such as Frost’s The Death of the Hired Hand. He frequently quoted this line, and you could hear the emotion in his voice:

Home is the place where, when you have to go there,  
They have to take you in.

He loved plants, which to my young, teenaged mind was boring, but today I’m grateful that on some level, I must have been listening. I can’t tell how often I have looked at a rhododendrons (his favorite – he belonged to the American Rhododendron Society) and been grateful that he taught me so much about plants. It’s as if the knowledge came alive when I became an adult. I don’t know how many people I have told that the name refers to the reddish colored bark (‘rhodo’ = red, ‘dendron’ = branch).    I suppose I’ve picked up Dad’s habit of endlessly repeating stuff. Of course you can ask my sons, Derek and Ian, about that. They can tell you just how repetitious their dad is.

With Sue, at Derek’s christening, 1988

Dad had a wonderful talent for understanding people, and would share insights about people we both observed. He once took me on a couple of his regular sales calls, and coached me on how to shake a person’s hand: look them in the eye, and shake firmly, giving them a good smile. He would continually lecture me about the importance of enthusiasm. Again, in my youth I rolled my eyes, but today, I benefit from Dad’s talks. He talked about his work as a seller of dyestuff, how proud he was that he had loyal customers who would buy from him rather than a competitor who offered a lower price. His customers, he said, depended on him always to tell the truth, and not try and do a big sell job on them.

He had a curious habit of self-limitation. For example, he claimed that he could never hear a conversation if there was any other competing noise at all. Sometimes, when my mom would turn on a little soft music on the radio, he would stride over and snap it off. Occasionally, in the middle of a discussion in which I was trying to explain something to him, he would shake his head, say, “ I don’t follow you, I’m in a fog.” He also struggled to remember things, always reinforcing the difficulty by mentioning how difficult it was.  I found his methodical, plodding style bothersome, so to spark things up a bit I would walk around the house flipping a knife in my hand, over and over. I actually got pretty good at knife-flipping.

While I was a teenager, he and I would go camping up to Lake George, and enjoy the ice-cold water, the fresh air, and the fishing. The first year we went, he rented a boat and motor. We set out from a little inlet at a placed called Hulett’s Landing. We loaded the boat to the gills with gear, got in, and he said, “I’ll steer us out of the inlet, and then you can try running the boat.”  Immediately the boat roared toward the rocks along the inlet, and he panicked, turning the rudder sharply, and around in a big circle we went, barely missing the rocks.  Finally, he managed to slow it down and get it under control.  “Why don’t you take it over right now,” he said, a sheepish look on his face.

With Sue, at Derek’s christening

The very core of my relationship to Dad was that we could talk about stuff. He and I would go on fishing trips on the Delaware, at a placed called Pond Eddy, where the water sort of swirled lazily around in a circle, rather than rushing in a powerful current. It was the perfect spot to fish for bass, and it was the perfect time for us to talk.  So often his stories dealt with some admission of weakness or insecurity.  That was Dad 101: the truth is a golden ideal, to be sought out at all costs. Even to his own detriment. When offered a job in management, he took it against his better judgement, and found himself in a strange, new world. He described his frustration, shuffling papers on his desk, dealing with a new-fangled idea called Marketing that he just didn’t understand.

Dad, sweet Dad, I so loved those conversations. They were golden. Thank you for all that you did.

Patrice and Richard’s 2017 Experience

Oh, what a year we had! Have you heard about our travels? (Observe us below at a Maori “Living Village” in New Zealand. I think we need to work on the challenge of lowering our eyebrows while sticking our tongues out.)

FullSizeRender (69).jpg In June Richard retired from full-time work, and we spent a crazy month emptying the house, selling it just before we left for our loooong trip around the world. On July 16th, we were off!

FullSizeRender (59).jpg

July 17 – Ireland

PMF windy Ireland.jpg We started in Dublin, and then went up to County Donegal where Patrice met three new Irish second cousins. See her at right, standing in the field where her maternal grandfather was born—and yes, there was a cottage there back in the day. We saw the glorious Ring of Kerry, drove on the “wrong” side of the road, and felt right at home in this gorgeous country.

August 2 – Scotland

It’s been our dream to sing at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, and this year we finally did it, giving a cabaret performance and leading a worship service the next weekend, both at St. Mark’s Unitarian Church. The city was packed with excitement, performers, and attendees for the 75th Fringe Festival. After Edinburgh, we went north to the tiny town of Leslie, in Insch. We stayed in the Leslie Room at Leslie Castle, and we weren’t the only Leslies there! Our visit included an impromptu concert for the owner—the daughter of the Baron of Leslie—in the Baronial Hall.

FullSizeRender (61).jpg

August 20 – England

We zipped down to London and saw the fabulous “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” with Audra McDonald… and we got a chance to meet her outside the stage door. An amazing talent, and very gracious to her fans.

FullSizeRender (77).jpgAugust 23 – France

We flew Paris for Patrice’s birthday at the end of August. Highlights of France included mouth-watering crepes, the rental of a snazzy black Jaguar (not our choice—it was probably the last car they had left), and a visit to a charming medieval town where we stayed with Facebook friends who offered a cottage to us sight unseen. Another friend-of-a-friend in Paris showed us around and took us to a fascinating open-air market with delicious Moroccan food. Throughout this trip, we managed to connect with kind, never-before-met friends who generously shared their towns, their homes, and often their yummy cooking. Thank you—you know who you are!

September 1 – Belgium

Our brief stop in Brussels featured a jam-packed beer festival set smack in the middle of the Grand Place, and Belgian waffles that had to be seen to be believed.

Sept. 4 – The Netherlands

In Amsterdam Patrice connected with a law school chum and friends from Connecticut, while Kathleen joined us from California. Loved the city, the incredible art, and the charm, but found the streets full of bikes difficult to navigate.

Sept. 11 – Germany

Kathleen continued to Berlin, where we took a long walking tour ending up at the Holocaust Memorial. We had just been to see the Ann Frank House in Amsterdam, and the next day we toured the Jewish Museum. Powerful and meaningful, yet full of disturbing truths.

Sept. 19 – Austria

Next up was Vienna where we got a fabulous personal tour of the Wiener Staatsoper from our friend Speedo, a rising international opera star. In contrast to her visit years ago as a student (while living on bread and cheese and staying in youth hostels) Patrice wanted to spring for tickets for both the Vienna Choirboys and the Lipizzaner Stallions. Absolutely worth it.

FullSizeRender (78).jpg

Sept. 26 – Italy

Florence and Rome. What else needs to be said? We spent hours and got sore feet walking around the Uffizi Gallery, and we adored our Airbnb view of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio. A highlight was a trip to a farm in the Tuscan countryside, where we made pasta by hand and enjoyed a concert featuring a soprano diva and harpist—and then stepped in ourselves to sing a duet!

Oct. 10 – Thailand

Then for something completely different, we went to Thailand. Loved the food and the people and had trouble with the heat and the humidity. Our trip up to Chiang Mai to visit an elephant rescue park was phenomenal. A very different world.

FullSizeRender (63).jpgOct. 16 – Vietnam

More heat and humidity, delicious food, and lovely people. We went to Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The traffic and the hordes of motorcyclists were somewhat scary. We visited the War Remembrance Museum, a sobering experience for Americans, despite the fact that 90% of the Vietnamese are too young to remember the war. We sang for our Airbnb hosts in Hoi An to thank them and their neighbors, tailors who made us cool custom clothing.

Oct. 31 – Singapore

The orderliness of Singapore was in startling contrast to Vietnam. We were there only a couple of nights, but we were impressed with this city-state, one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Nov. 2 – Australia

Australia is a gorgeous country that is so big that we could visit only a small part of it. We rented a car and made our way to Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne, and then had a grand time at a friend’s sheep farm in the wilds of Victoria. Along the way we saw kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, and assorted other creatures—including little penguins on parade—and had an altogether excellent experience down under.

Nov. 21 – New Zealand

New Zealand was one of our favorite places on the whole trip. Miles and miles of beauty, clean water, and friendly people. Plus Hobbits! We adored it. It’s not cheap to live there, but it would be high on our list of spots to settle in, if only it weren’t so far from our kids.

FullSizeRender (74).jpg

Dec. 4 – Tahiti

At the end of our journey, we spent two weeks in glorious French Polynesia, visiting Moorea, Bora Bora, and Papeete on the main island of Tahiti Nui. It doesn’t get any lovelier than this paradise in the middle of the Pacific. And Patrice got a chance to dance with the locals.

FullSizeRender (76).jpgDec. 21 – California

We spent Christmas with Kathleen in Los Angeles, where we were thrilled to jump in with her local UU choir for their Christmas Eve service. It was amazing to be back in the U.S. Water you can drink. People who not only speak English but pronounce it the way we do. Money that doesn’t make you feel like an idiot as you puzzle over the coins in your hand when trying to pay the guy at the 7-Eleven!

R w:Joan 2017.jpg

After Los Angeles, we visited Richard’s sister Joan in Oakland. It was great to have time to be with her and see her current digs. We then went on to…

Dec. 30 – Oregon

… where we are checking out Portland for three months. Seems very cool so far (and not, fortunately, as freezing as New England right now).

April, 2018 – Connecticut

We plan to be in the Hartford area from about mid-April through October. We will catch up with friends, decide where we want to visit/live next, and celebrate a family wedding—Derek and Lindsey are getting married!

Here’s wishing all of you a fabulous 2018.

Watch this space for news from us next year… living who knows where?

Patrice and Richard

FullSizeRender (72).jpg

Lovers of Leaving: Traveling Styles

Over the course of nearly four months, we have traveled in thirteen different countries, and we have traveled by plane, bus, train, rental car, underground train, overhead tramway, and of course, our own feet.  One aspect of all this traveling is the physical act of getting up and leaving the place where we currently have our stuff, and getting ourselves and our belongings transported to another place.  And by now we have it down to a routine — more or less. The night before, depending on how early we have to check out, I perform a few preliminary steps:

  • Open closets and pull any clothes off their hangers;
  • Consolidate the many bottles of shampoo and shower gel, and place them in the shaving kit;
  • Put away all miscellaneous electronics, including adapters, USB cords, and power cables, and have them ready to pack up the next day, when phones are disconnected from the charger;
  • Fold and pack any clothes that were taken out for the present hotel room / Airbnb / whatever space we have occupied, and carefully layer them into our respective bags;
  • Decide which food items we will bring.  I like to pack a bag of granola or muesli that can be eaten for breakfast, plus a few fruits.  Weight is a consideration when it comes to items placed in the bags that will be checked, but we can carry quite a bit in a backpack for the purpose.

On the morning of check-out:

  • Find a place to deposit miscellaneous small change, especially if we are traveling to a country where a different currency is used.  I generally pour these into a spare pocket of the shaving kit;
  • Jam shaving kit into the bag;
  • Place Patrice’s toiletries bag into my bag, trying not to crush it (notice I am more careful with her stuff);
  • Close up our respective bags;
  • On second thought, remove some of the smaller change from the shaving kit, and place in the room someplace (the bags often get overweight due to this stuff);
  • Close the bag;
  • Remember that I have not yet packed the miscellaneous electronics, and swiftly reopen and re-close my bag;
  • Hope that the zipper holds up when I close my suitcase — every time;
  • Roll out the door.  Wait! Take one more peek under the bed, in the bathroom, or wherever there are likely to be belongings hidden away.

(Side-note:  Patrice claims that she can pack in ten minutes.  That is her super power.)

While the routine is much the same, the space we occupy adds a special challenge.  I am what I would describe as a “geographic” type of organizer:  I need to have my shaving kit, Kindle, smartphone, etc.,  kept in the “same” place, so I don’t lose them.  See the challenge here?  Every rental space is layed out a little differently, and it takes about a week for me to get used to where things are — just in time to move again…

Every city is different and has its own climate, and every temporary living quarters, whether an Airbnb, a freebie from friends (rare, but welcome), or a fancy hotel (equally rare, and usually in reaction to issues where we lived previously), has its own personality. One recent place, in Singapore, was fairly small, with a very minimalist kitchen, and an enormous bed that took up fully a third of the entire place. But on the other hand, affordable food places were readily available, and the condo complex that it was part of had three gyms (one women-only, one men-only, one coed), plus a huge outdoor swimming pool.  There were inviting outdoor spots where you could enjoy the cooler air in the evening and watch kids having a swimming lesson.   We stayed over Halloween, and were entertained by a little costume party for little kids, as they excitedly flitted this way and that in their costumes.  The concept seems to be that people tolerate a small footprint in terms of personal living space, but the common space is generous and very actively used by the membership. It made me think about the big, wasteful homes I have lived in for the past few years.

With rare exceptions, we have found something to like about each of the spaces we’ve traveled to.  Amsterdam had a great, roomy kitchen, and the hosts had left us a number of yummy snacks to tide us over while we got used to the neighborhood. Florence had a nice, long table that could double as work area and dining place.  Singapore, besides the wonderful pool, had a bathroom scale, which we used to weigh our bags.  Most airlines were allowing no more than 20 kg per bag, or for two people traveling together, a total of 40 kg.  Sydney had, among other things, an actual overstuffed couch that was so comfortable we would sometimes stay there for hours.  That was a rare treat after many hard sitting surfaces in other spots.

One characteristic of all the places we have stayed is that they are temporary; as “lovers of leaving” we somehow look forward to the next place, the next experience.  Truth be told, some of us like the leaving more than others.  😉

The last phase of this trip will be to pick out a place (or several places) in which we plan to stay for at least six months, before we decide where to settle “forever.”  I confess I am looking forward to that, so at least I’ll know where my Kindle is.

Where are we?

Lots of people are asking us where we’ve been and where we’re going.  So here’s a rundown of places we’ve stopped in to date:

IRELAND

Dublin – July 17-21

Killarney – July 21-26

Doolin – July 26-28

Sligo – July 28-29

Galway – July 29-August 2

 

SCOTLAND 

Edinburgh – August 2-14

Leslie (Insch) – August 14-16

Aberdeen – August 16-20

ENGLAND

London – August 20-23

FRANCE

Paris – August 23-26 (For Patrice’s birthday!)

LeMans – August 26-28

Parce sur Sarthe – August 28-September 1

BELGIUM

Brussels – September 1-4

NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam – September 4-11

GERMANY 

Berlin – September 11-19

UPCOMING

AUSTRIA

Vienna – September 19-25

ITALY

Florence – September 25-30

Rome – September 30-October 2

THAILAND

Bangkok

VIETNAM

Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

SINGAPORE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

TAHITI

USA! (CALIFORNIA)

HAWAII

 

Living on the Outside

Now it’s time to talk about a question that we sometimes get from people who meet us when we travel:  What’s it really like, traveling from place to place, being away from home (and in our case, not having a “home” that we own at all)?

The short answer is, Great.  It’s really great to travel to different places, meet different people, see a lot of wonderful sights.  The longer answer is that it’s a bit complicated. We do enjoy the change of scenery, the many choices we have, the element of chance that always has the potential to spice up our lives — or, in some cases, throw a monkey wrench in our plans.

It can actually be a bit intimidating, to have all these choices.  For example, when we started planning where we wanted to end up after Scotland, first we had to decide where we want to go next — Paris, Rennes, London? Do we stay at an AirBnB, a hotel, or what… and for how long?  How many floors does the place have?  (Richard does not like to carry his 50 lb. bag up too many flights.) How many nights do we want to stay in Aberdeen where we happen to be at the moment, before we take off?

So many questions to be answered.

What shall I do in the morning when we get up?  When should I get up?  When is breakfast? What day is it, anyway? Is it time for another of my famous naps?  (Patrice estimates that I had five naps between Wednesday and Thursday, or was it Thursday and Friday?)

Actually, in between naps we have been doing quite a bit — researching, writing, and publishing blog posts and pictures, and occasionally taking time to do necessary chores.  And I make it my business to check out the surrounding countryside, whatever it might be.  Yesterday I stepped out of our Doubletree Hotel, which is located close to Aberdeen’s coast, and took a five-minute walk.  I was greeted with this view:

It felt like I had just stumbled into Heaven, and I did what I will likely do when I reach that place, should it actually exist:  I took off my shoes and socks, hung them over my shoulder by the laces, and immediately set off down the beach, soaking in the sunshine.  Around me, mothers in dress clothing enjoyed the serendipity, and watched their toddlers run gleefully up and down on the sand, playing chicken with the waves, while whole families gathered for impromptu picnics, right on the sand, without even bothering to lay a blanket.  Finally, I started hearing the tune to “Dancing Cheek-to-Cheek” in my head.  That’s the one that goes:

Heaven, I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we’re out together dancing, cheek to cheek.

Oddly, no adults were in the water, and no one was actually swimming.  Wondering why, I approached a man who held the hand of a bouncy child eager to get splashy with the waves.  

“I think it has to do with the riptides,” he said after a moment’s thought.  (His thick Scots accent cannot easily be conveyed here, and is another topic altogether, perhaps the subject of another blog post.)

It happened that this particular day was a gift, because the very next day, Mother Nature gave us an opportunity to appreciate this sunny visit to the sand by turning cold and rainy.  It’s all good, although personally I would take the sunshine over the other stuff.

Then there is the whole aspect of travel and lodgings.  When planning this trip, we made a conscious decision to leave our travel arrangements very loose: we knew we wanted to spend some time in Ireland, spend some time in Scotland, then spend some time elsewhere in Europe, but we have no detailed itinerary; some might say no itinerary at all.  Tickets to France or the Netherlands have not yet been purchased, but we have a general (again, some would say vague) idea of where we are going, and when.  Occasionally we will have a conversation that goes something like this:  Gee, Honey, we need to figure out where we will be staying in France, and decide whether we want to take trains and ferries across the Chunnel, or just fly there.

We have worked out a relaxed approach to getting where we want to go:  when we know we will spend a lot of time in one place, as we did in Edinburgh, we generally look for an AirBnB. Staying in an AirBnB apartment is a rarified mix of all-the-comforts-of-home and something-out-of-the-ordinary.   All kinds of people rent out their living spaces, in many cases their own homes, and in the process visitors get to meet some of the most fascinating and possibly the nicest people on the planet.  Whether the place you rent is just like the home you left behind, or not, there is a real person behind the space, and the act of communicating with them, and frequently meeting them in person, adds a dimension of something other than mere comfort or convenience.  A stay at an AirBnB  can be way more rewarding and interesting than staying in a faceless room in some anonymous hotel with garish carpets and clunky furniture.

It has to be said that hotels have a lot of attributes themselves.  Price, for one.  The hotel where we are now costs half of what we paid for our last AirBnB.  Free and reliable WiFi, is another.  We have been staying at a Doubletree Hilton in Aberdeen for a few days, catching up on paperwork, correspondence, etc.  Prior to Aberdeen, we stayed at Leslie Castle (see earlier post), which despite its many charms, lacked even the most feeble internet signal; even the cell service failed to penetrate the thick walls.  I know people will tell you how wonderful it is to get “off the grid,” but I’m still looking for my own personal reason to prefer off-grid living. Even a few days without any internet feels like punishment.  Call that extreme, but that’s how I roll.

Every AirBnB has its own rules.  The lady from one potential Paris flat we looked at had this in her Rules:  “Please be careful of my luster, and don’t touch the heater. ” Not sure why anyone would mess with her luster, and whether after disturbing the luster, people tend to move on to mucking with the heater? Almost worth renting the place just to find out.

Food is a whole other topic.  It’s really phenomenal how everyone here in Europe thinks seriously about food.  No sloughing off on the food.  In a month, I had exactly one bad meal; ironically, on my last day in Edinburgh. Bad falafel.  Which serves me right; it isn’t even typical Scottish food.  But one caveat:  the traveler should be careful of over-indulging in rich food, and for that matter, over-spending.  It is very easy to fall into the habit of eating out in a nice restaurant every night, as we started doing for a while in Edinburgh.  We stopped that with the purchase of a few items at a local convenience store, including fresh fruit, which often is lacking in restaurant fare.  A single box of Alpen cereal and a packet of Activa yogurts kept me in breakfast for over a week.

When you travel for a long time, you will need to wash clothes, unless you have more money than God and can just buy new every few days.  AirBnB will tell you whether a place has a washing machine, and in Europe we have found that they tend to be combo washer/dryers, which have a single drum that doubles as the dryer.  You put in dirty clothes, and a few hours later (it takes quite a long time), you pull out clean, fluffy clothes.  Magic!  Well, not quite:  we find that often you need to add more than one extra dryer cycle before you are done.   The trick with these is to put a modest amount of laundry in.  The tendency for us Americans with high-power dryers is to stuff.  What happens if you do that with combo dryers is that it will run endlessly.  Less is better.

Happiness is having clean clothes.  To paraphrase the good book, Blessed is he who is pure of heart and clean of sock. And now, a little music…

The Richness of Time

When did you start racing through life?

When your mom told you to hurry up and get ready for school?  When you had to get that report written stat for your new boss?  When you took the kids to Disney World and managed to hustle them, whining, onto one more ride… just so you’d get your money’s worth out of those expensive tickets?

Well, this is not like that.

Going on this projected nine month — nine MONTH! — trip has given me a whole new perspective on time.  We aren’t having an “If This Is Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” experience here. We’re having a three-or-four-weeks-for-each-country, what-would-we-have-fun-doing-next, darling? kind of trip.

We have the relaxed joy of having enough days and weeks and months to savor the trip.  How often does that come along in life?  It certainly makes the journey very different.

Just yesterday we had a grand time performing our Great American Songbook cabaret as part of the Festival Fringe, and because of the energy it takes to get up in front of a crowd and sing (not to mention amuse them between songs with charming patter) we were both feeling depleted today.  So we didn’t push ourselves.  We didn’t have to!

We lolled around in the morning enjoying the fact that there was no alarm to wake up to.  Then we wandered over to the church where we sang to set up a rehearsal with the accompanist for the service we’re leading next Sunday. Afterward, we walked along the Royal Mile, stopping to watch buskers as they entertained the crowds, popping into the spectacular St. Giles’ Cathedral to ooh and ah over the stained glass windows, and eating dinner at Angels with Bagpipes, a restaurant with the most scrumptiously delicious mascarpone I’ve ever tasted.  Yum.

Such a fantastic abundance!  It’s almost obscene.  To have this absence of time pressure is amazing.  And rare.

Remember when you were a kid and all summer stretched out before you, so ripe and full of sunshiny hours to come that you couldn’t see the end of it?

Well, this is like that.

I wish you all a day, a week, a month, a year with such an indulgent richness of time.