fun

Birthday Swag Bag – Blog Hop

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I was asked to participate in this “blog hop” by Angela, at Amsterdam Oriole. Angela is an Englishwoman married to a Dutchman living in Amsterdam. She writes about events in and around Amsterdam and everything Dutch. She is a prolific writer of flash fiction and short stories.  Be sure to visit her swag bag!

SWAG has several definitions.  According to the Oxford American dictionary SWAG can mean any of the following. I am assuming the relevant one is highlighted in red.

My friend tells me it really just stands for Stuff We All Get.

  • A curtain or piece of fabric fastened so as to hang in a drooping curve
  • A carved or painted representation of a swag of flowers, foliage, or fruit: fine plaster swags
  • Money or goods taken by a thief or burglar
  • Products given away free, typically for promotional purposes
  • Marijuana, typically of a low grade

My mission is to fill a virtual goodie bag with my birthday wish list and must include a book, beauty product, snack food, music, and ‘my choice’. My birthday is next month, so listen up!

Book

Having recently returned from Lake Como, my current dream is to live there and wake up to that view morning after morning. I often troll expat/memoir books looking for something to read and happened to come across this. She sounds like an interesting person.

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Going Solo on Lake Como by Ciara O’Toole

“Sometimes flying by the seat of your pants is the best thing you can do …

When Ciara O’Toole and her husband move to Lake Como, Italy, they make plans – to run their own businesses, to learn the language and to immerse themselves in the Italian way of life.

But just a few months into the adventure Ciara’s marriage ends and she finds herself alone in a country where she doesn’t speak the language. She is faced with a choice: return to Ireland or stay in Italy and make her new life work.”

 

New favorite snack – White Cheddar popcorn

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Back in the 1980’s I went to visit my boyfriend who was doing a summer internship at the Boston Globe. We took a road trip up to Maine. On that trip he turned me on to something I had never seen before – Smartfood. Cheese covered popcorn. I was immediately addicted. Not only was it delicious but the packaging was always entertaining. It would say things like, “We don’t drown our kernels in preservatives. That wouldn’t be fair. They can’t swim.” They told silly stories about the product’s origins and would claim things like “more than twelve billion kernals popped”, mocking McDonald’s.

Then they sold out to Frito Lay and I thought, ugh, that changes things. But even though the packaging got boring, the taste was still good. Now they have a “lighter” version that isn’t quite as cheesy or salty but still states good.

Beauty product

I love nail polish and always have way too many of it. It is fun finding new colors and textures. This one caught my eye.

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Arabella PixieDust by Zoya

 

Music

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Blondie is one of my all time favorites. Debbie Harry is always so cool. They just released their 40th anniversary double CD called ‘Blondie 4(0) Ever’. It includes their old hits, new material, and a dvd of one of their live performances.

 

 

My Choice – Just for fun!

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BMW Z4

A mere $57,000

Need I say more?

 

Next week please join our continuing blog hop over to see Jennifer at the ever creative and amusing Expat Lingo site. She describes herself as a serial expat and is in the process of moving from Hong Kong to the Netherlands.

 

 

Four Days in Miami

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I went to Miami for a high school reunion of sorts.  A bunch of us went to boarding school together and we still like each other so we gather every few years for a weekend of fun.  We don’t all know each other but we are all from the same era so we can relate to each other.  Plus we have the common bond of having been to boarding school in a foreign country and many of us are third culture kids.  We click right away whether we met before or not.

Day One – Arrival

Dined at Doraku Sushi.  Japanese Restaurant.  Crowded and loud.  Arrived 9 pm, had to wait for a table.  Good food, good music, good vibe.

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Walked down Lincoln Road.  Lots of shops, restaurants, people.

Cool window display.

Drove alone Ocean Drive.  Hotel after hotel after hotel.  Bar blasting music filled with people after bar blasting music filled with people.  Dancing girls with go go boots and little else on.  Just starting to hop at midnight.

Day Two

Breakfast at The Front Porch right on Ocean Drive.  Packed, had to wait in line.  Nice hearty breakfast.  Apparently “the thing to do” in South Beach.

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Walked along the beach.  Cloudy and windy.  No swimming or sunning.

Sat around the hotel and greeted old friends as they arrived.

Cocktail reception followed by a two hour ride around Miami on a bus with no windows and music blaring.

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Day Three

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Piled onto a bus at 10 am and headed for the water.  Boarded a catamaran for a two and a half hour ride off Miami.

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Had fresh orange juice delivered by jet ski.

Saw how the other half live….

Where they filmed Serpico

 

Where they filmed Serpico 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Al Capone's lookout tower

Al Capone’s lookout tower

Don Johnson's Miami Vice house

Don Johnson’s Miami Vice house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give me a break… I was in a moving boat….

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Five million dollar landscape job…

Afternoon nap.

Barcelona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner at Barcelonaeta Restaurant

One of our friends has a daughter who owns this restaurant so it was special for all of us.  We would have enjoyed it no matter what it was like but take my word for it, it was good!!  We had a wide variety of tapas that just kept coming and the wine was flowing.  Some of the dishes I remember – fried potatoes, seared calamari so it had a crusty outside – delicious, salmon carpaccio, sweetbreads, sliced tomato with onion, eggplant and tomato, chorizo on a pizza like bread, escargot with pastry puff.  Plus the ones I can’t remember.  If you ever get to Miami, check it out!

Day Four

Departure.  Miami airport was crowded with long lines.  The only other time I had ever been to Miami, I was just at the airport for a connecting flight to Bogota.  I almost missed the flight because since I was in transit I thought I would get my boarding pass at the gate.  They called my plane, I went to the gate, and they told me I had to go back to the main terminal to get my boarding pass.  Luckily the airport wasn’t as big as it is now, but it was big enough.  I ran all the way there and back and barely made it!  I was 14 years old.

No traumatic experiences this time.

I had a wonderful time with old friends and new friends.

She Wore White Linen

 

 

 

 

 

 

November is National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1, and November 30.  Well, a first draft, anyway.  I don’t know if it is possible but I figure, why not give it a try?  Motivation!!!!!

 

Chapter 1

Stepping off the airplane the air was thick enough to cut with a knife.  She choked on her first breath, faltering for a moment, the second one came easier.  She was dressed in white linen, fitting for the tropics.   Or so she thought.  She had not taken the dirt and grime of an African city into consideration.  She was not going to a vacation resort but one of the bustling capitals of the Dark Continent.  Having never been in this part of the world before, she had no idea what she was getting herself into.  She was to find a completely alien world.

As she saw everybody pushing and shoving to get through immigration, she began to realize it would be some time before she arrived at her destination.  Passports were being waved in the air and the rank smell of people who were obviously unaware of soap filled her nostrils.  She tried to keep her composure but decided she must stand her ground if she ever wanted to get out of the airport.

Finally the immigration man took her passport.  She smiled at him using all her charm hoping it would speed up the process.  It did not.  He tediously filed out the necessary forms and stamped everything several times and then he leaned down and gruffly said,  “Make your way to the Health Counter”.

There being no through passage, she had to fight her way back through the crowd and around to the next stop.  Her vaccinations were in order and again she fought her way to the luggage area.  There, young boys descended on her asking to carry her bags.  Being laden down with a coat, a carry-on bag, and her purse, she agreed to let them.  They had to dig through the pile but finally all her luggage was accounted for.

As she approached the gate, an official asked if she had anything to declare.  She couldn’t think what he meant and said “No”.

On the other side of the gate, a mob was stretching to see the people inside, looking for a familiar face or an easy mark.  Several men asked her if she wanted a taxi but she paid no attention as she was also stretching to see a familiar face.

Her dark brown eyes relaxed as a man in khaki shorts and sandals came up to her.  He kissed her on the cheek and asked about her trip.

“Long and crowded” she answered, “I’m exhausted.  And I can’t believe this stifling heat!  How do you stand it?”

“You will get used to it.”

“And the smell?”

“You will get used to that, too”,  he said, laughing.

Chapter 2

She hadn’t seen her brother in two years.  He looked well.  Tan and thin.  He was a little taller than she was but not much.  They shared the same brown eyes but he had lighter hair.  Maybe from the sun.

Ned was living in the bush, working on some contract related to the US Embassy.  He was probably some kind of spy.  She didn’t really know what he was doing.  But he seemed to like it.

They piled into his rugged white Peugeot sedan and headed off into nightmare traffic.  It took them five hours to reach their destination, a large village north of the city.  It was crowded and dirty and smelly but she was glad to finally arrive and unwind with a glass of wine on the porch.  Her time was so messed up she couldn’t really think.  She just went with the flow.

“Sorry but I’ve accepted an invitation for us to go out tonight.”

“What?”

“It’s the Christmas Pantomime and then a light supper at a friend’s house.  It will be fun.  You can sleep through the pantomime.”

“Fine.”

 

HaHa… I’ve got a long way to go… where will it take me?