Sunday, December 13, 2015

More often than not . . . I'm just sayin'

It's not an identity crisis, per se.
We know who we are. We know what we like. You would think choosing a place to live would be easy!
Yeah. Not so much.

We're coming up on retirement from this man's Army! It's gleaming on the horizon!
For the first time in 20 years we have total control over where to live.
And infuriating.

You hear all the time, "It's a small world!"
Well when you're staring blank faced at a map, it can seem pretty darn big!

Lot's of factors in a decision like this;
job availability
cost of living
yada, yada, yada ...

Factors are supposed to help you narrow things down.

After months of conversations we've come to only one conclusion so far - 
North America.

We seriously considered staying in Europe. 
There are lots of opportunities. 
(Paris! Oh my gosh we'd love to live in Paris!)
And I know my parents would throttle us support us if we stayed.

But . . . the girls would like to finish up their junior and senior years in public school. And they've already got their eyes on certain state-side colleges.
And after 20 years of networking, Joey has possible connections to better jobs back home.
So, North America it is.

Still a lot of ground to cover!

Here's the real meat of the problem . . .

We love the mountains! The cool crisp air, higher elevations, crystal clear springs feeding azure blue lakes. Camping at 10,000 feet. Bears coming right up to your campfire. Elk 10 feet away posing for a quick pic! Breathtaking views of the Great Divide to the west and the great plains to the east.
We love the beach! Sea level, salt life. You can feel it on your skin and smell it in the air. Southern beaches with palm trees, sea gulls, dolphins, and manatees. Or northern beaches with puffins, whales and oh so yummy lobster! The sound of waves through an open window lulling you to sleep at night. 

We love the city! The people, the shops, the sights. A great skyline all lit up at night. Stepping out the front door and onto a street full of sidewalk cafes, markets, and newsstands. We love coffee shops, and museums, and the symphony, and the convenience of walkability. We love Chinese take-out!
We love the country! Peace and quiet. Being able to sit out on the back porch, sip coffee, and hear the birds and the breeze and absolutely nothing else. We love having a yard full of flowers and a deck to grill on and room for company aplenty. We love being able to actually see the stars while sitting around a toasty open fire on a crisp fall evening.

We love the south! (Let me interject here. There's a big difference between southern and redneck. Big difference. HUGE!) We love the south. 'Ya'll', 'Bless your heart', and 'Fiddlesticks' - it's part of our DNA! Sunshine lovin', sweet tea sippin', front porch swingin', howdy wavin', azalea growin', SEC watchin', southern sensibilities! Magnolia trees, spanish moss, live oaks, about a week of winter, and a closet full of capri pants and blingy flip-flops! (That last bit would be for me, of course. Joey would be decked out in a Magnum P.I. luau shirt and khaki shorts!)
We love New England! Now, I realize some of our deep south friends would rather die than go yankee! But geography doesn't change who you are. We'll always be "Whoo-Pig" and "Roll Tide".
It's just that New England is one of the most picturesque places on the planet! Port towns, historic homes, steepled churches, covered bridges. Breathtaking autumns followed by white Christmases. Early American history abounds. Museums, orchestras, playhouses, universities - so much culture and learning in such a small area. And the festivals! Maple, Apple, Pumpkin, Garlic, Lobster . . .
so many festivals!

Where to retire?







Colorado Springs


Hard choice.
A wonderful conundrum!

So you see, it really isn't an identity crisis.
We know who we are and what we like.

I guess the question really should be what do we like more often than not?

I'm just sayin'. . .

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. . ."
James 1:5

Friday, August 14, 2015


For mother's day, Joey arranged a trip to Paris!

(Yes, I know Mother's Day was months ago........ don't judge me!
Summer has flown by, and I'm a little behind.)

Anyway - PARIS!!!

We grabbed a taxi from De Gaulle. It took almost an hour to get to our hotel from the airport - 

But the scenery was amazing!

Our hotel was fantastic. Just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.
Shelby liked the signs...

For those of you who were asking, you can find HOTEL ARES HERE.
It's in the seventh arrondissement, and only a block from the Champ de Mars!
The rooms were great, the staff extremely friendly, and the prices on par.

The girls immediately checked out the terrace and tower view.
I lost it, though, when one of them said, "Hey, mom! Ugly naked guy tanning on his terrace!"
(You "Friends" fans will totally get that reference.)
Luckily, there was a strategically placed flower box to keep the girls from permanent scarring.

Paris had been Shelby's dream for years. When we finally set out for the tower, she was ecstatic!
She took a pic every few feet! (Don't worry. I won't show them all.)

We visited the Louvre, of course. 
It did not disappoint!

Huge museum with a vast amount of ancient artifacts and 
some of the most famous paintings and statuary in the world.

Hard to get a pic of Mona without a glare,
but Shelby did a pretty good job!

And my personal fav,

"Winged Victory of Samothrace".  Just...wow.

We also toured the Musee d'Orsay, my new favorite!
It's located in an old railway station across the Seine from the Louvre.

The building itself was a work of art!

The top floor gallery houses an incredible collection of Impressionist paintings.
Monet, Cezanne, Sisley, Degas, Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Pissarro ....... love them!!!

I think my favorite collection, though, was in the Realism wing.
Jean-Francois Millet.

I could stare at his work for hours.

(As long as there's no flash, they allow you to photograph the paintings!)

Then there was Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cite in the fourth arrondissement.
(Hard to take pics with such low light inside, but it really was beautiful!)

On Mother's Day we had fresh macaroons and coffee. Best breakfast ever!

We walked through a farmers market. 

Joe bought me roses!

And that evening we attended a violin concert at Sainte Chapelle.
Stained glass, setting sun, candle light, beautiful music - it was a perfect evening!

Sunset from Ile de la Cite with Pont Neuf in the background.

Shelby LOVED the tower after dark!

Monday we took a Seine River cruise.

So many bridges! And every one was unique.

Even underneath...

And a great view of Notre Dame.

We enjoyed the little shops, sidewalk cafes, and street performers.

We had five days to take in as much as possible.
I'll admit I was a little nervous at first. We'd heard so many horror stories about the French!
They're rude, they're stinky, the city is filthy, everything is overpriced, queues are unbearable, cabbies are thieves.... you know, basically all the things we were told about Rome.
I hate to admit it, but my initial feelings were to get there, get it done, mark it off and forget it.
Crazy talk! Seriously!
I know people have different experiences in different places, but honestly our trip couldn't have gone better. Even the weather cooperated! A slight drizzle one night, the rest was perfect.
We stayed mostly in arrondissements 1,4,6 and 7.
We hope to go back and see more of the city and visit Versailles.