Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I'd Like to Give the World a Coke

One of the writing prompts I have been given in classes is to write about something that inspired, surprised or touched me.  On my flight back to Houston...after 4 months at the shore, I had an encounter that inspired, surprised and touched me and I could not wait to get home and write it all down with fresh emotions.  The rough draft was very rough and after several revisions I'm still not sure I am conveying the genuine emotion this individual stirred in me.  Suffice it to say, "he made my day".

 Usually, I stick to myself on planes...I'm not one of those people who strikes up a conversation with the person next to me.  I plugged myself into a movie early in the flight and had that "don't bother me" body language happening.  I noticed the fellow next to me asked the flight attendant for water twice before we even took off, he shyly smiled at me and said he was very thirsty.  We acknowledged each other but did not talk.  I ordered a Diet Coke when the beverage service came.  We both dozed and of course had the elbow war over the armrest between us.  Eventually we finally decided to just share even if our elbows occasionally touched each other.  I'm okay with that, most men (in my experience) try to dominate the armrest so sharing is a step in the right direction.  At one point he was trying to watch a movie and could not get it to work on his screen and tapped me and pointed to his screen as if to ask, "what's up with this?  Can you get the movie to play?".   I gave it my best but had no success either.  He finally did get another movie to play on his screen, tapped me again and pointed to it, smiled and gave me the thumbs up. 

About halfway through the flight, he now had his own can of Diet Coke.  He filled his cup, tapped me on the arm and offered to fill my empty cup.  I can honestly say no one has ever offered to share their drink with me on a plane.  He proceeded to pour until my cup was full.  I was surprised....

We got closer to Houston and I was looking out of the window at my long lost home and took a couple of photos.  He started to look out the window too...with curiosity. I assumed he was from New York since we left from Newark.  I was not really sure what ethnicity he was, I thought maybe Indian and put him in his late 30's.  I figured he was not from Houston because he was wearing jeans, a long sleeved button down shirt and a v-neck sweater.  Anyone going back to Houston at this time of year would NOT be wearing a long sleeve v-neck sweater!  Yes... I was making assumptions about my seat mate.  I asked where he was from and he answered, "India".  I asked why he was going to Houston and found out he was on his way from Mumbai to Santiago, Chile, which explains the sweater and his thirst.  Poor guy was in the middle of a VERY long day or two of travel!  
Back to Houston!
The rest of our conversation was priceless.  He said he had a layover and asked what he could do in Houston.  I mentioned a few things and then found out the layover was only 2 hours. Basically, he had time to go from one gate to another, go to the bathroom and maybe grab a bite to eat.  He assumed he could just leave the airport and take the metro (of which there is none from the Houston airport) and be minutes away from something interesting to see or do.  Maybe in Mumbai but not in Houston.

He asked a lot of questions....
-Is Houston a city or a state?
- How far away is Dallas?
-Is Texas a state?
- How many states are in the US?
-How far away do you live?
-What is there to see in Houston?
 I showed him a map of the US on my phone and explained the states and cities.  He was so curious! This was a turning point for me...after 4 months in another country it took a foreigner to bring me back to America.  Through him asking me about my city and my country I suddenly realized I was back "home".  I have been on the other side of this equation many times and am always thankful for those locals who take the time to help a traveler.

Once we landed he was very polite and asked which bag in the overhead compartment was mine and retrieved it for me.  We walked off the plane together and inside the terminal he asked if he had to go through customs or pick up his bag and re-check it before his next flight.  I explained that he just needed to go to his gate and we checked the monitor to find the gate for his next flight.  It just so happened to be in the same direction as baggage claim so we continued walking and talking on our way.  We reached our parting spot and I said goodbye when he whipped out his cell phone and said he had to have a picture of us.  He flagged down a girl and asked her to take our picture.  I was surprised...again!  He proudly showed me the pictures and said thank you over and over and said he would not forget my kindness.  I admit, way back at the beginning with the Diet Coke, I was a little skeptical and distrusting but his kindness and sincerity were infectious.  I was a bit choked up when he wanted to take a photo.  He kept telling me how nice I was and thanking me for being so kind to him when all along all I kept thinking was how nice and kind he was!  I stood waiting for my bag to arrive with tears in my eyes, a warm heart and an overwhelming feeling God sent this person into my day for a reason!  I really wish I had asked for a picture too!  He touched me!

P.S.   I took Uber back to my house...a good 45 minute ride.  I was quiet for a while still thinking about my new friend.  The driver and I chatted a bit about Hurricane Harvey, we were both spared any flooding, and then I sat quietly for a bit.  I thought about sharing how a kindness can change someones day and was inspired to tell my driver about my experience.  He proceeded to share his hurricane experience and blew me away.  He and his son borrowed his brother's truck (with huge wheels) and went out and rescued people in the flood.  He said he cried when he found a man in a wheelchair alone in his house with water quickly approaching his home.  He said his son rescued a dog that was tied up in a yard.  He said they worked all day giving people rides out of flooded areas and the next day his son went and volunteered at the animal shelter because he loves animals.  He is just one of thousands of people who did the same thing.

There is good in this world!  We are barraged  every day with negative news and stories of horrors happening in our world and if we are not careful we can assume the worst about people, expect the worst to happen and only see the bad.  My eyes were opened twice in one day to the good around me.   I hope you have someone surprise, inspire or touch you today!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Farewell Bill Murray

I would have preferred to just ride off into the sunset at the end of the summer and look back at his cute little face knowing he would watch over the garden and keep the weeds at bay.  Instead I watched him ride off into the sunrise to his new home down the road a few miles.  I'm going to miss him!

Bill Murray has spent the last two summers living under our shed.  I wake up every morning to his little furry body munching weeds next to our flower bed.  He doesn't make a mess, he doesn't bother anyone, he lives under the shed...not in the shed (as far as I can tell) and has provided me with many morning and evening smiles over the summer.  I really do love waking up and looking out my window and saying, "good morning Bill!".  He just stares back and nibbles grass.
Good morning Bill!
Bill has very good taste in accommodations
This morning when I was having my first cup of tea (aka...barely awake and speaking)  TJ said he had an errand to run and was waiting for me to finish my tea before he told me about the nature of the errand.  He knew I would not take it well.  I told him to just break it to me, expecting him to say he needed my help to do one of our many "closing the farmhouse" chores.  To my surprise he confessed that his errand was to relocate Bill Murray who was now trapped in the "have a heart" trap.  I almost cried!  NOT Bill Murray!  TJ knew I would want to go out and say goodbye to the little fella.  Sniff, sniff!

He looked at me as if to say, "why...what did I do?"
We had a moment...or two.  He came right up and we looked at each other much like we have done every morning and evening ...except without the cage.  I think what I liked most was having an animal in the yard again.  With no dog running around the property these days, I enjoyed watching a cute groundhog named Bill Murray.  He did very little destruction and was kinda cute.  TJ was afraid Bill was going to talk some cute female groundhog into moving into his cool shed for the winter and make lots of little Bill Murrays who would munch the entire garden next summer.  I was more willing to risk it and let Bill and his potential family hang out over the winter and deal with the little lettuce eaters next summer.

It will probably be a few days before I quit looking for Bill every time I go to the kitchen window.  I spend a lot of time at the kitchen sink here at the farmhouse so having something to entertain me was pretty nice.

In other news, Bill Murray is not the only thing we are saying goodbye to this week.  Our summer has come to an end.  Part of the reason I was emotional saying goodbye to Bill was that I am also saying goodbye to another summer at the farmhouse.  It is the last week or hell week as I refer to it.  Plenty of emotions flying around this place amplified by exhaustion.  It was a different kind of summer, but aren't they all?  If I had to guess the number of beds I washed and changed over the summer I might just have to take a nap...my best guess is around 25....not that I counted.  We built it... they came... and we loved it!

So as I close the book on another beautiful summer here are a few of my favorite pictures from the summer of '17.

June had a few very nice days!
and some beautiful nights!
In July we celebrated Canada's 150th and TJ's brother's 60th!

This happy little guy and his Mom visited in July!
And there were more spectacular sunsets...over the water.
One of the attempts at a Lee family photo in August
The "cousin party"....one of my favorite
nights of the summer!
Oh, what the heck...there are just too many to share.  I will forever be grateful for this place my family found to spend their summers..... way back when.  We are thankful for being able to carry on the tradition and pass this place on to the next generation.  May they always know the gift that is "the shore" in Nova Scotia.
And Bill Murray....I hope you find a nice girl with a sweet shed for the winter!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

If You Build It They Will Come

247....the number of times, since my last post, I have sat in front of my computer and tried to write something original  anything.  247...times I have come up empty.  Hoping 248 is the lucky number! Summer has a way of gathering momentum and I've been hanging on and enjoying the ride.  Writing requires creative energy.  Something I lack after exercise time, beach time, visiting time, grand kid time, sibling time, cousin time, parent time, doing nothing time, dinner time and last but not least.... watching the sunset time.   Write or enjoy summer?  Summer seems to have won 247 times!  I'm feeling a trend.
I'm all out of energy after this time every night!
One thing I have found interesting this summer is how we, as "summer locals", share this special place with visitors.  We have hosted six "first timers" so far this summer and still have seven more "first timers" before we close down for the season.  Most of our visitors have heard about this place for years from either our kids, our siblings or from us.  They come expecting the greatness that we have made this place up to be in our recollections over the years.  There is no place in the world that can compare to this place if you listen to any of us after an epic summer.  People arrive expecting heaven on earth.  I am not completely sure what they think when they first arrive but I'm pretty sure they don't think "Finally...I've found heaven on earth".  I do think the impression upon departure, for most, is closer to heaven on earth than when they arrived. Surprisingly, there are some people who just "don't get it"....we don't get them either!

Sharing a place you love as much as we love this shore is a nerve racking blessing.  We want our visitors to love it as much as we do and to see the same beauty we see.  Some people arrive on a gray, rainy day to what can feel like the end of the earth.  I'm sure they wonder to themselves why we come here every summer.  Our first weary travelers this summer arrived to.... squishy wet grass, gray skies, and air filled with rain and mosquitoes.  Not the ideal vacation destination unless reading a book wrapped in a blanket is your ideal vacation.  Of course, you could always just forget about the rain and celebrate Canada Day 150 like we did!
What rain?  Bring on the parade and the tall ships!
The sun eventually showed its face for our first visitors and they got to see the real shore!  This place has a way of making you slow down and smell the roses, lilies, lupines or the fields of hay.  I'm not saying there isn't anything to do.... there just isn't the madness that makes up life in the city.  Rural shore life is all about the rhythm of nature. It's about the tides, the winds, the long days and the occasional rain.  The pace of life is slower and later here.  Sometimes visitors have a little trouble adjusting to this pace.  When you come from a fast paced work schedule and live in a big city with lots of traffic you expect things to happen fast.  Things don't happen fast around here.  After a couple of days most of our visitors finally slow down, relax and embrace the peaceful, happy pace of life we lead.
When drying the clothes takes longer....relax,
lay down in the hammock and read.
We always hoped the farmhouse would be a gathering place.  It has too much space for the two of us.  Be careful what you wish for!  Every summer I say to myself I will take it easy and not over plan or invite a lot of people and every summer I don't listen to myself.   I think I was meant to live in a commune.  Having many people under one roof feels very natural to me whether they are my friends or friends of my kids.  Today is the first day in many weeks I have been here alone.  It is VERY quiet!  It is also kinda nice for a change and may just be the atmosphere I need to finish a blog post.

So in no particular order here are some things we want our first timers to appreciate about our little piece of heaven on earth.

-the stars.....because there is very little light pollution up here we can see millions and millions of stars on a clear night!  Just lay down on the ground, let your eyes adjust and wait.  Last night I laid down in our field with my daughter and two grandsons and watched meteor showers....awesome!
The farmhouse at night...photo compliments of  "first timer"
Parked Rangers!

-the tides....low tide is unlike anywhere else.  Walking on the sandbars is one of our favorite things about this place!  High tide is for jet skiing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding but low tide is what we all love the most!  Even if we are just sitting in our beach chairs reading, napping or talking.
The tide is coming in and the kids are loving it!

Low tide and walking on the sandbars!
-We love our family!  This place is all about family and we have a lot of family.  Extended family from great-grandparents to grandparents to cousins to second cousins...once removed.  We know and love them all!  Not many families have such a close connection.  This may be a bit overwhelming for some visitors...and we appreciate that and still welcome all visitors!
-the sky!  The sky is huge up here and the colors are vivid!  It is spectacular, even during a storm.
Soaking up the beautiful blue!
-the flowers!  It may just be me but I doubt it.  The flowers here are prolific and display unbelievably bright colors.  My flowers at home struggle to survive and are bleached out by the heat.  The ditches, as I have shared before, are an ever changing rainbow of color from the purple/blue lupines in June to the yellow and white daisies to the pink wild roses and the purple flowers growing now that I don't know the name of!  Flowers are one of life's gifts here and I, for one, can't ever get enough.
All fresh out of my yard!
-the food!  who does not love garden fresh vegetables?  I love being able to go right outside and pick my dinner.  We can drive up the road and buy our eggs and meat and then we can go to the dock and get lobster off the boat.  It does not get any more local or fresh than that!  The taste of something only hours out of the ground is unlike anything we can buy in a store.  I get seriously spoiled up here!
Teaching them the value of fresh veggies at a young age!
As you can see, I could go on and on.  It isn't for everyone, but for us... it is everything... and we love sharing it!
Happy summer!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Day in the Life of the Farmhouse

What goes on in that farmhouse up on the hill?

 This morning we woke up and smiled!  Well Logan, the 2 year old, smiled and his dimples and zest for life in the morning made the rest of us smile.  Two of us took turns eating breakfast and playing with the happy busy boy instead of going on that morning run.  One of us woke up and went directly into the back yard and began working on his van conversion project.  One of us slept in because she could!
Not a bad place to work on your van.
After we had exhausted the acceptable activities inside the house it was time for a change of venue.  Outside we went to harvest lettuce for dinner.  Logan was happy to investigate the van conversion progress, play in the golf cart, play on the lawnmower, tromp through the garden, play a little ball, and just run around the yard.  We needed a focused activity!  Let's go pick strawberries!

We woke up sleeping beauty upstairs, loaded the car with berry boxes, interrupted the van progress and all headed to the u-pick....only to find it was "closed for the season".  There goes the fresh strawberry jam for this summer!  Oops!  On to the next activity.  Let's go pick up the lobster for tonight's feast.

They were open for business!!!

We procured our lobster and headed home.  Time for lunch and naps.  By the time we got back the cloudy sky had cleared.  We had successfully killed a morning and tired out one two year old!  Nap time on a sunny day is the best!  Just imagine the gentle breeze blowing through the house, curtains slightly waving, the sound of leaves rustling on the trees outside and the radio softly playing some seriously good tunes.  We are all busy doing just what we want to be doing.
One of us is reading in the hammock

One of us is in the sunroom reading and napping

One of us is very happy with the ceiling in the van!

One of us dug those potatoes, cooked them and made them into
potato salad for dinner.  When I was suddenly hit with a blog idea....
The littlest one is napping upstairs and I don't dare open that door for a photo for fear of waking him.  Trust me, he is sound asleep  powering up for his run on the sandbars later this afternoon.
A perfect day....quiet, simple, and beautiful.
Just the way we love them!



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Like Christmas in July

The last two weeks have been relatively quiet around here and I am not complaining.  They have been peaceful yet busy days. I would love to have one of these days in about a month, enough to keep me busy without the stress of missing out on valuable beach time or socializing. There has been a lot going on, it just hasn't been of  the usual frantic social nature.  It has been more in the line of washing winter from windows, planting flowers, mending screens, cleaning drawers that haven't been cleaned in 10 years and cleaning up "post construction" sawdust and chaos....you know...the stuff you save for a rainy day.
Like this one...June showers bring July flowers right!?
June days are like that time before Christmas.  There is much to do in anticipation.  June is Advent at the shore.  I'm preparing the way for the family and friends who come in July and August.  Every song on my music library has been played in June because I work best with a soundtrack.  The early summer time up here is one of my favorite times.  Of course, I like all of the times up here but I've always been a big fan of anticipation.  The weather is more springlike in June so there is tender vegetation and flowers ready to burst open when it gets warmer.  The grass is bright green and new instead of dried up and brown.  Every day it seems there are new wildflowers blooming and the fields change colors daily.  The landscape is constantly changing!
These beauties opened a day ago!
 There are hundreds more of them about to bust open.
This year, in particular, I am embracing this quiet time.  Spring was spent at home being busy in our "real" lives and our first few weeks here were filled with fun travels.  These two weeks before most of the summer friends and relatives arrive have been perfect!  Enough socializing so TJ and I don't get tired of one another but not so much that we feel like we are always missing out on something.  Mostly, I have enjoyed the slow nesting process of the last couple of weeks.  Getting my house and cottage in order has given me the same pleasure I have when decorating my house for Christmas. I love reminiscing about or admiring each ornament as I put them out the same way I enjoy reacquainting myself with the cottage and farmhouse after our long winter away.  I found little treasures, like a journal I have kept since 1983 when we first bought our cottage.  That little gem cost me at least an hour of down time while I sat and read through 34 years!  It was full of treasures!  Definitely worth a blog post dedicated solely to that journal....it is priceless!  Beware kids....it's all about your growing up years...mine too for that matter!

This stained glass is one of the surprises I forgot all about!
Christmas involves much preparation (by some), followed by special family time.  This weekend begins a very special family event!  I don't remember the last time my husband's family spent Christmas together with all 7! siblings and spouses.  It will be Christmas in July this year.  They will all be here, together... with their spouses (minus one, who will be dearly missed!) to celebrate a significant birthday.  Really....like Christmas in July!  This will be a perfect kick-off to the busy season at the shore!

The quiet two weeks of advent were lovely and just what I needed to make me appreciate this place for its subtle, quiet way of making me love it more every year.  I also love it for its inviting way of bringing people together.  The weather can be perfect or it can be crap, regardless, people come and love the pureness of this place.  Let the season begin!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Tale of Two Boats

Sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone to get the good stuff!  Boats are not my comfort zone.  I prefer to see my azure blue waters from the sandy shore sitting in a beach chair or enjoy a river from a nice riverside cafe with a glass of wine.  It must be my new maturity, now that I have entered another decade of life but I voluntarily went on two boats in the last month.  Two very different and yet very similar boat tours.  While I am still not going to line up to ride in anyone's speed boat I have a new respect for leisure boating.

Before we went to Portugal I had read about the famous caves in the cliffs along the coast.  Everything I read said the coast was best viewed from the water, which meant a boat would be involved.  As much of a "non-boat person" I am, I am even more a "spectacular view" person... so I found some courage and scheduled a boat tour of the caves.  It was the best time I have ever spent on a boat!  

Our water craft
 I was "all in" and could not wait to see the sights.  When we entered the first cave I was hooked.  The colors on the rocks went from purple, to green to gray.  Against the blue water it was so stunning I totally forgot I was on a boat.  Bring on the next cave and the next one and .....
Going in...eerie and stunning.

Going out....breathtakingly beautiful!
 I was always in awe of the color of the water when we headed out of the caves.  I think we were lucky to tour on a clear, relatively calm day.  It was purely by luck and not design.
I think the heart formed by this ceiling says it all!
 The sole motivator for this tour was to see this one cave.  Benagil Cave is famous.  I guess if you were/are a good swimmer, like TJ and our friend Yvon are, you could swim to the cave.  But then where would I keep my camera?  As we rounded the corner into this cave it absolutely lived up to its billing.  Jaw dropping and like nothing I've ever seen before.  We saw 20 caves and each one was a bit different.  The views from the water were definitely worth an hour or so in a boat, driven by a very handsome young man.  I could have been on a magic carpet for all I knew.
At this point in the tour I wanted to jump out of the boat
and join in the circle of love in the sun!
 Fast forward a week to Chicago.  It was time to celebrate my birthday with my three daughters.  I may just celebrate this birthday for the rest of the year!  Why not?!
One of the weekend activities was a lake and river cruise... a two hour tour.  (now once again to the Gilligan's Island tune)  It was a hot day in the windy (literally) city.  The tour began cruising up and down the river while being awed by and educated  about the architecture.  They really have done a wonderful job upgrading the river walk and cleaning up the river.  The ride was peaceful and scenic.
Calm, clear blue waters and some pretty sweet views!
Then we left the river and headed out into Lake Michigan.  On this hot, windy day the lake was a bit choppy.  This is the point in the tour when I remembered why I am not a boat person.  There were a few times I wondered how far out we were going to go into the lake and exactly how long we were going to be there.  This is usually how every boat ride goes with me, how long are we going to be on this thing?  I will say that the view made it worth the ride in this case.
Goodbye Chicago.....

The lighthouse and tall ship were beautiful distractions.

Ahhh, back in the safety of the river....are we there yet?
Safely back in the river I breathed a deep sigh of relief!  I never knew how welcome the river would feel.  The city certainly showed its best side from our view in the water.  

Two very different boat trips.  One in a small craft being blown away by nature's architecture and the other in a very large boat being awed by man's architecture.   Our world is a feast for they eyes!  Maybe I am a boat person after all.....only if the view is worth it!  


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Goodbye 50's....Hello 60's

When I turned 50 I went skydiving with 3 out of 4 of my children and 10 friends.  Was it a metaphor for my 50's?  Maybe.  Take a chance, do things you have always wanted to do, live for today, start writing a blog, surround yourself with friends and family.  My 50's were some of the best years of my life... so far!  If you are 50-something, my advice to you is "enjoy it"!  Enjoy the empty nest.  Enjoy what is left of your smooth skin and firm muscles.  Enjoy your confidence.  Enjoy your independence.  Enjoy your health!  One day you will wake up, 60 years old and wonder how the time flew by so fast and ask yourself "why does my skin sag?".

This is my last blog post as a woman in my 50's.  Tomorrow I turn the big 6-0.  I will not be jumping out of an airplane.....been there, done that.  I will jump out of bed and greet the day!  TJ and I already took a fantastic trip to Portugal in order to celebrate changing the first digit in my age!  It only took a month or two for me to choose my destination.  I made a very good choice!  So, if Portugal is a metaphor for my 60's I think I'm going to love being 60!  Bring on the blue skies, red roofs, white houses, Piri Piri Chicken, perfect weather, good wine and friendly people!  I can do this!

Diving head first into my 60's!
This is the part of the blog where I shift, ever so cleverly, from turning 60 to telling you how great Portugal is/was!  I was given the choice to go "anywhere".  Portugal seems really random doesn't it?  I had heard good things about it and after doing my due diligence I decided we should go see for ourselves.  This time we would actually visit a place close to tourist season.  After visiting Croatia and South Africa in the "off season"  I was ready to go someplace where the restaurants were open and I did not freeze.  We found it!

Espresso next to a construction site....welcome to Portugal!
This picture reflects my arrival experience.  I made it to Lisbon but my luggage didn't.  It was expected, as we RAN to catch our connection...there was no way my bag was going to make it.  Thank goodness I packed a "back up outfit" and toiletries in my backpack.  Being "almost 60" has its advantages...namely, experience.  After we were able to drop our....well his....bag in our apartment, we took off for a bit of sightseeing.  Lisbon is a hill town.  There are narrow stairways that lead up or down to other streets.  We were climbing up some stairs in a narrow passage, TJ was ahead of me.  I opened my purse, got my phone out to check our directions when I felt and saw a hand from behind me going into my purse.  I instantly slapped the hand and loudly said, "Get out of my purse!".  I turned around and two men were behind me.  They started waving a map saying I had taken their map....yeah...right.  I said, "No...you were trying to get in my purse!"  Meanwhile, I started checking my purse for my wallet and passport.  They can have all the lipstick they want!  TJ was about 10 steps ahead of me and telling me to get away.  I did not understand that he just wanted me to get some distance between me and them.  I was MAD!  I could not believe someone had tried to pickpocket me!  They continued with their map story and I confirmed all my possessions were still in my possession and I told them they had no business in my purse and we left.  Welcome to Lisbon!  I must say I totally surprised myself!  You never know how you are going to react in a situation until you are in that situation.  I did not even think about it, I just slapped him!  Go figure!  No harm was done but I did not have to worry about any jet lag after that....I was very awake!
Since we were so wide awake, we climbed to the top of a castle!
 TJ was in big trouble in Portugal.  There are many miradouros (viewpoints) in Lisbon and they are all high up somewhere.  As you may all know, I love going to the top....skydiving on my 50th!  Gotta get the best view!  We had to climb to the top of every castle, hill or cliff so I could see the view.  He did not embrace it all but I will say that by the end of the trip he had come a long way.
We actually rode e-bikes to this hill top.  TJ was "all in" on the bike ride!
 On our second day, our friends from Montreal joined us for the rest of the trip.  They and their luggage made it!  We kept them moving through their first day and ended our night in a port bar.  When in Portugal you must try the port!  I never knew I liked port!
Just passed by this place on our walk home and had to stop!

Watch out behind you!!!
 One of the most unexpected finds in Lisbon was found through wandering.  My friend and I saw a very nice clothing shop and slipped in to do a little shopping.  Meanwhile, TJ explored the area.  I joined him in a playground, high up, with a great view.  I would take my kids there every day just to enjoy the view!  In addition to a wall of morning glory vines in full bloom, down below was what looked like ruins.  Such a contrast!  We found our way down to he ruins and realized they were a sort of shrine decorated by someone with "found garbage".  It was one of the most unique things I've ever seen.

The view from above

And down below

                      
                        Caught in the act of a selfie!
I just love finding undiscovered corners of cities.  We had lunch at a very nice cafe, outside, off the beaten path and it was just right for us!  We did plenty of the classic Lisbon tourist activities but every once in while it's nice to feel like you are paving your own way.  
One thing we followed the crowd on was tasting these delicious pasteis de nata!
 We each ate more than one pasteis de nata during our time in Portugal.  Our friend, Yvon, had the perfect description for them.  Creme brulee in pastry.  Ponder that!  Flaky pastry with delicious egg custard browned to sweet perfection.  They were decadent!
What would it be without a parade?
We went to mass on Sunday.  Noticed there were people making arches and banners with real flowers.  They told us they were having a parade later in the day.  We explored the Belem area and on our way back we just happened to see the parade.  I loved he flowered arches and the families parading, showing their faith openly for all to witness.  We followed them for a bit and admired the decorations.  It was definitely a good few days.

We headed south the next morning.  Lisbon is a beautiful city.  There are many areas to explore and we barely made a dent!

So on the eve of my last night in my 50's I say thank you to all of you for reading for the last almost 10 years.  I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts, dreams and experiences here on the blog.  I may be a bit less diligent in posting but I am not quite ready to say goodbye to this part of my life.  To new horizons!  Cheers 50's, hope my 60's are just as good or better!  Stay tuned for the rest of Portugal, the best is yet to come.  Hmmm, maybe it is a metaphor for life.


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