Photography is amazing.  It inspires me and excites me.  Photos can evoke memories certainly.  But they can also bring instant sensations as well.  A remembrance of a taste.  A smell.  Or a sound.

A sunny day in Portugal, and my first taste of the crisp, vinho verde03almost tart sip of Vinho Verde.  I can still feel it on my tongue when I see this picture.

Or the powerful smell of rosemary against a warmed wall on 4m_2a summer’s day in Tuscany.

Or the baying of longhorns as their mealOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA time was approaching.

My parents were not photography buffs.  And both Tom and I tend to steer  clear of the front of the camera.  But we have so many opportunities today to document our lives and to relive particular moments.  What a wonderful gift.

Related:

I’ve started to move my online photo album to a site of it’s own.  Please visit it to see some of the photos that make me happy.

“Lucky to have been where I have been…”  (lyrics from a pretty sappy song “Lucky” by Jason Mraz, but none the less, applicable).   I’m so thankful that I’ve traveled a fair amount and been able to experience some cultures outside of the US.  It has made me appreciative of what we have… but also respectful of a different lifestyle.  Something that I believe I could never get from a textbook.

We have so many wonderful memories of our travels.  Pictures in our mind, and pictures for real.  Experiences that we will continue to add on to as we go along.

Everyone has their favorite.  Spain, Italy, Portugal — I have a hard time narrowing it from there.

Check out my photo gallery for some of our favorite images:

Evoking Me, a Photo Gallery

I can’t believe that it’s been a year since my last post. This past year was filled with a  plan for our retirement, sale of our house, and move to Northwest Arkansas. A plan that I felt needed to be kept quiet until I gave my notice at work. That made for an unusual period of time, and a little bit isolating.

What was so hush-hush? Well, it started with buying a house during a trip in July 2011. We closed on that house 9/13/2011, taking a two week vacation to drive down with Dylan and ‘camp out’ on inflatable beds in our new digs. It also included the plans to prep and sell our house. We put our house on the market 3/1/2012 and had a sale by 4/1/2012 – right on our planned timeline. I felt that if I made my plan known at work, that it would impact my effectiveness. Particularly the way others viewed me and included me in their strategies. I noticed some of that even with my relatively short notice of 90 days.

We were incredibly fortunate to have accomplished everything on our own timeline and to have a easy house sale.

20121026-122754.jpgAnd now we are on the road, making the trip to our new home. It’s quite an emotional time for me. The Pennsylvania scenery is gorgeous, and I am thinking already about how I will miss it. Dinner with Pam, Jed, Jean and Gerry last night was wonderful,and I am already missing their friendship. But with hugs, a few tears and promises to visit, we started off on our newest adventure!

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I can’t believe that January is over.   But as months go, it is one that I’d just as soon go by quickly.

I seem to recall January being a quiet month in years past.  Hunkering down to spend the winter indoors.  Finding inside entertainment.  My mom used to do jigsaw puzzles in the winter.  I remember the card table permanently set up during January and February, with a puzzle in various stages of completeness.

There is always a project or two in the back of my mind that I will tackle in the winter. This year, it is a vow to get the hundreds of slides from past travel adventures scanned into digital images.  I’ve had that same project in mind for 2 or 3 years now.  But this year, I’m committed.  I’ve easily gone through 8 slide reels so far, and probably have just as many to go.  The process is time-consuming… but not nearly as time-consuming as the editing job that I will take on when this part of the process is over.

Is it worth it?  I think so.  Each image brings back not only a memory, but a sensation.  Beautiful times!

Bucks County.  What a beautiful spot.  Tom took me there on a spontaneous weekend trip.  Very spontaneous.  No reservations.  Decided to go and one hour later had some things thrown in a bag for an overnight stay.

The bright sunny weekend was the perfect backdrop for the wonderful views of Bucks County.  I’m enamored with walking trails, and the area along the Delaware River by New Hope is one long, never-ending (or it seems like it) walking path.  Thanks to the canal system where horses used to pull barges up the canal along those trails.

Charming Inns and rustic homes line the drive.  Antique shops and restaurants are everywhere.  We stayed in a cute little borough called Stockton, NJ.  Just a handful of buildings made up the town.  After settling in, we walked the length of the town, and crossed the bridge over to the PA side, investigating our dinner choices.  The two Inns had cozy and well-appointed dining rooms, already lit festively for the holidays.  The local firehouse as an interesting option, and one of the firemen enthusiastically encouraged us to attend their spaghetti dinner (homemade meatballs, garlic bread, salad, cannoli and cookies) to help them raise money for a new truck.  The “garage” of the firehouse was decked out with folding tables covered with white plastic table clothes in the bright and functional surroundings.  If gregariousness alone were swaying our decision, that is where we would have dined.

But then we passed a Sicilian restaurant.  The perfect atmosphere.  Warm, cozy, friendly, all at the same time.  That is where we returned.  The couple sitting next to us were retired and had been coming to this restaurant for 3 years.  You can’t get a better recommendation than that.  We had an expansive dinner (in terms of time), starting with calamari.  I don’t think I’ve ever praised marinara sauce, but this was wonderful – made fresh, with chunks of tomato and not at all heavy.  Then we shared a Cesar salad.   And lastly we had a pizza with sautéed peppers, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, and prosciutto.  Heaven.  We couldn’t finish it all, and the server sent us home with leftovers and some birthday cannoli.

A long stroll the next morning after breakfast was the ideal end to our stay in Stockton.  And encountering a Corgi ensured not only a good day — but a good year ahead.



There are so many interesting place in the world that I want to experience.  pSome of them I’ve seen before and some not.  It’s quite a dilemma for me…  to return to places that I love, or to visit new places that I’ve never seen?

Not an uncommon quandary, I’m sure.  Some people probably struggle with the choice of visiting their favorite restaurant week after week versus trying something new.  For me, it’s the choice between spending more time in a place I love, or using the time to explore a new place entirely.

It would be sad to think I’d never return to Tuscany, for example.  Or to see the Alhambra again.  Yet, there are new place to see:  Buenos Aires, Kenya, Prague.

100_1339It reminds me of the feeling that I get in a wonderful bookstore…  There is so much to read.  So much to learn. So many worlds to escape to.  How will I ever get to it all?  Sometimes a bookstore can be overwhelming to me.

Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World” is an uplifting, grateful song to many.  The sobering part for me is:  “I hear babies crying, I watch them grow .  They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know”.   I don’t want the next generation to know more than me.  I want to know it all.

But I digress.   I want to learn more.  I want to see more.  I want to travel more.  I want to experience more.  But I don’t want to give up the “known” things that I love.   I’m going to have to learn to live with that.

One of the things I savor above all else is traveling (for fun) to a far away place.  When we commit to a “big” vacation, we typically plan it about 9 months out.  During that time I become totally immersed in the thought of it.

I learn the language (or at least I attempt to).   Balcony (15)_2Tom checks out hotels.  I look for gardens in the surrounding areas.  Tom finds unique restaurants.  I search for monasteries with chanting monks.  Tom prices rental cars and plots best routes.  I google live music.  Tom books flights.  I hope to discover uncommon shopping experiences.  Tom calculates exchange rates.  I plan my wardrobe.

And all the while, my excitement grows.  Almost to the point that when it arrives, I fear that it will pass like a flash and evaporate before my eyes.  And sometimes it does.

I’ve always felt that part of the fun of travel was the anticipation of the trip.  But it only sunk in recently when I was challenged to think of what motivates me most.  When I feel the most driven.  The most full of excitement.  I realized it was when I was preparing to travel to a foreign place.

View (21)_2We’ve decided to go to Europe next fall.  Portugal.  Or France.  Or Spain… or Italy.  One of my new requirements is to stay in one place for a full week, in a beautiful setting in a home like environment.  Such as the apartment in a Tuscan Villa that we rented on our last trip.

It appeals to me to have a home-like surrounding.  To not rely on maids, restaurants and valets.  Funny, those are things that many people value on vacation.  But the ability to get a sneak peak into real life in a foreign country is priceless.   To find the farmer’s market.  To discover the local wine.  To try our hand at cooking the local specialties.  To eat breakfast in my caftan.  To host an impromptu dinner party.

Already I am looking forward to the upcoming year and all the anticipation ahead.