Most Treacherous Adventure

Saturday (your Friday) John and I and Steff and Phil had Budi for a good part of the day. He was excited to show us as much of this part of Bali as he could. The landscape.has changed to desert-ish dry land from wet thick green rainforest. We are living on a cliff rising from the Indian Ocean.

This morning the waves below are high and strong.

The surfers wait in the sand. Only two brave enough to venture out. This is where I’m planted until my 11:00 massage.

Back to yesterday.

Our first stop was Uluwatu Temple. Steps up, steps down and lots of aggressive monkeys waiting to steal anything shiny. Kept hats, glasses and water bottles hidden in pockets.

First the sarong. Love this color.


Most of the Chinese tourists ignore the “monkey rules” and attempt to take selfies with the monkeys. We saw a monkey come up and grab the phone from a hand and scamper away into the brush. Bye bye phone!

Next Budi wanted to show us the hidden beach. We drove to a remote spot and found stairs that went down down down. Down down. Many stories of stairs. Here’s what was at the bottom that made the descent so worth it.

Truly I thought I would not make it back up. It took a loooong time and I stopped every 8-10 steps to sit down and stop shaking. At one sit down Budi yelled “Monkey, monkey, move it! He’s got an enemy chasing him!” Fastest I’d moved yet, scrambling up a couple of flights before turning around to check for my attacker. Gone, phew! Particularly long recovery after that exertion! But so proud that I did it.

We stopped at a “secret beach” next. A new highway has just been built and the surrounding land hasn’t been developed yet so this beach is pretty unknown, for now

We headed to the other (east) side of the peninsula to Nusa Dua resort area where all the big western hotel chains (Marriott, Hyatt, etc) have resorts. It looks very Palm Beachy.

Back to our private pool for a soak and a nap and delightful dinner hosted by John and Sue.

Chris and Sherly ⬆️

Closing out yesterday. Here is what’s going on right now in front of me.

Oops. The wedding photo opp parade begins:

On to my Balinese massage. YAY!

Arts and Crafts Day

We said goodbye to Ubud on Friday and traveled south with Budi at the wheel. We had said we wanted to see some arts and crafts on the way to Uluwatu and, boy, did we. Each village along the way had a different speciality that had been in families for generations.

This wood shop had some creative works and some very large and heavy mahogany furniture. If you’ve been to Washburn Imports on Orange Ave you know what I’m talking about.

Weaving through hundreds of motorcycles, we next stopped at a silver place. Nothing tempted me. The motorcycles seem to have no traffic rules. They swerve in and out of the traffic like Shriners on mini bikes in a parade. It appears that car drivers ignore them and the bikes find their way any way they can. We drove all day, from coast to coast and never had a traffic signal.

A few other stops:

A basket place

And an art gallery

We arrived at Blue Point Bay at Uluwatu in mid afternoon to meet up with lots of family and the bride and groom. This resort is a popular place for Chinese couples to book a time to have wedding pictures taken around the infinity pool. They have set routines and poses. Doesn’t matter that guests are relaxing in the pool area. Here’s a photo of my niece Sara who was just sitting in her lounge chair when a bride dramatically posed in front of her. None of them were married here. Just a photo opportunity they pay for. They are lined up and staged all day.

The day ended with my brother and sister in law (John and Sue) hosting a dinner everyone who had arrived so far. So great to see Steff and Phil here, and my niece Sara and fiancé Collin, and my nephew Drew who just wrapped up a year in Manila on a State Dept Fulbright Scholarship .

We were thrilled to find upon check in that the wedding planner had us upgraded to a cliff side villa with private pool and big back yard.

That’s day one at Blue Point. Today still needs to be blogged about but I am exhausted from a very full day of sightseeing with Budi and making the most difficult climb of my life. I feel so proud of myself for pushing through it with Steff’s encouragement. Tomorrow I’ll post about it.

We ended the evening with John and Sue hosting a dinner for all who are here so far (16 of us) — and to celebrate bride Sherly’s birthday.

Good night!

The Money Problem

Usually I can figure out the money in a new country I’m visiting. But these Indonesian RPs have me confounded. One dollar is worth approximately 14,000 RP. Nothing is a dollar, though that hasn’t stopped me from trying to buy something for 14,000 RP. There are these cute small crossbody basket handbags which I believe are seen in fashion magazines. My goal was to try to buy one for $4 or 5. I have succeeded in getting lower than $8. But stayed stubborn and didn’t purchase. My brother says I must leave the seller happy and don’t worry about a dollar here and there. I agree now, after have my method fail me this morning.

These RPs can stuff your wallet fatter to about an inch beyond its normal expected expansion. And I’m only carrying $30 worth. Himself likes to dole the money out in small doses so I can’t go crazy buying brightly painted wood Balinese chicken carvings, or a pair of elephant print rayon balloon pants.

We hit this market today. Inside the walled part it is beyond hot, smoky with incense, smelling of BO from around the world. Outside was much less claustrophobic.

Backing up a bit – woke up this morning to cloudy skies and slight rain. Hot as Florida but the humidity seems much worse. In Florida when it’s hot and humid I do not go trekking a hill ridge. In addition to to heat and humidity the rocky muddy paths were very slippery. I’m looking forward to laundering my khaki capris that took it on the butt. After landing on my ass in the mud Budi would not let go of me the rest of the two miles. The hike on a ridge above the river gave a real view of the lush countryside.

Sue is very fit and scrambles on with ease. John and I both felt our age but so happy to have this adventure!

Our travel guide book mentioned another good spot to view the river valley. It was a place Budi was not familiar with, but with stops for directions and a wrong turn or two, and traffic obstacles such as this motor scooter carrying rocking horses,

we had coffee on a terrace overlooking the valley.


Back into Ubud for a quick look at the 11th century royal palace.

Found a cute lunch place for chicken and rice, and beer. Sue says we may start clucking soon. It is just a “safe bet” food. Another beverage choice is watermelon juice.

John and I headed back to the hotel for a lazy afternoon. We are good until about 2:00 and then crave a lie-down and some time to wring out our clothes.My hair after these excursions is totally wet. Because there is “product” in it, it also stands up and out in stiff little spikes. Not my best look.

Dinner tonight was at Three Monkeys restaurant recommended by a friend. Lovely setting outdoors on the edge of a small rice paddy. Two for one cocktails and grilled snapper for dinner. Ready to grab taxi home at 9 pm.

It has been a wonderful few days in Ubud with John and Sue. We don’t see each other often, but when we do we make great memories!

Tomorrow we drive a few hours south to Uluwatu, the resort venue where the wedding is next week. Will meet up with Steff and Phil who arrive around midnight tonight. It will be a real change of scenery in the surfing area of Bali.

Falling asleep to rainforest sounds…

Countryside Wandering

As planned, our awesome driver Budi picked us up at eight to begin our exploration. I really wanted to see the rice terraces. On the way, we found this guy drying rice on tarp before the product is sent on to be de-husked.

We were warned about Luwat coffee. The process begins with a special cat who eats the beans, passes them through his digestive tract and then poops them out. The pooped beans are collected, cleaned and ground for cat poop coffee. I swear I have unknowingly had this coffee at a 7-11.

Stopped at a glass blowing “factory” – shed – and watched the makings of unique bowls and pitchers that conform to a piece of tree root.

So now we already need another suitcase to carry our fragile purchases.

We decided we needed to see only one Hindu temple today. Bali is 90% Hindu. The rest of Indonesia is a Muslin majority.

This temple is the Holy Water temple from the 11th century. A most lovely place where people were praying. Not too many tourists.

First we were required to don sarongs. John not thrilled to wear a “dress.”

This pool below is for praying. At each water pipe a person prays, rinses their head and moves to the next. Maybe like rosary beads. It looked peaceful and COOL.

We passed by a koi pond and then exited through the gift shop!

Now we are starving. So off we go to a 7-11ish eating spot that Budi recommended. He hit the nail on the head. We were able to get a spread of simple food and icy beers. What ya gotta do when you don’t drink the local water. Fried rice with an egg on top, chicken wings with tumeric, (which is the spice of choice here), and chicken satay. Very, very good!

Now exhausted, we headed back to our beautiful resort for a long afternoon nap. View from balcony.

Budi picked us up again to drive us to dinner. We had hoped to eat at Three Monkeys recommended by Richard Arrendale but neither my brother nor Budi could find it. Ended up at a lovely spot for al fresco dining. Nice breeze, good wine, and more chicken for me. I like to stick to food I can recognize.

My Lemongrass Ginger martini was excellent and fun to watch!

Do you like my brother asking if he should order wine? A question that never needs to be asked because the answer is always the same.

Our after dinner stroll took us right to the Three Monkeys restaurant that we couldn’t find earlier. Reservation made for tomorrow night!

It’s so much fun being here with John and Sue and to have a terrific driver who “knows things”.

Time to sleep. Fun day!

First Impressions

Expecting to be supremely exhausted tonight, I am surprised to be wide awake at 9:30 pm Bali time. This lovely bed awaits when my eyes get droopy.

My brother John and sister in law Sue surprised us at the Singapore airport so we could all fly the last leg together.

We were coming off a 12 hour flight from Manchester UK. It turned out to be the best leg of the trip. With 12 hours there is time to settle in and feel at home in our little pods. Beds not bad.

Arrival in Denpasar, Bali uncomplicated and our drivers were waiting for us. It took 3 cars to haul to 4 of us the hour and 20 minutes to Ubud with about 10 pieces of luggage. Very narrow roads through villages with a Hindu temple on every block and motor scooters surrounding us like escorts.

The hotel is in a jungly location with the sounds of a waterfall not far away. There’s no clear path to the waterfall, and fearing scary Balinese critters, we choose to just enjoy the splashing from our balcony.

Lovely suite with a giant footed tub that I can’t wait to soak in. Candles and marches provided and I’ve got a stash of People magazines I brought along.

There is a photo opp every few steps. At dusk, after a short nap, we headed out walking up the road to a dinner spot my brother scopes out. Cute bar for mojitos then out to the deceleration overlooking the tropical landscape for dinner. But so many photos to take on the way there and back.

Love this creative spelling.

The airport grounds:

Ubud is 90% Hindu, unlike the rest of Muslim majority Indonesia.

Above is the pathway to our room.

Tomorrow we look forward to exploring the countryside with our driver Budi. I have so many questions for him! Sue has a massage in the afternoon and I see a chaise lounge with my name on it!

So happy to be here to celebrate Chris and Sheryl’s wedding next week !

Good night!

Tuesday at Retreat

Day Two at Elder Camp (aka Quilt Retreat) is crispy bacon day. The people who fix our food lure us to the large stone dining hall in the morning with the smell of country bacon. How lucky are we to spend four nights in a cabin in the Georgia woods with three meals a day laid before us? Country cookin’ for sure: fried chicken (twice so far), fried okra, French Fries, homemade mashed potatoes, apple cobbler, sweeeeeeeet tea.

This is the 18th year our group has met for a week long retreat in March. In a good year there can be as many as 18 of us here. As we age the numbers fluctuate and diminish. Two of the group have passed away and every year there are new health issues among us.

We seem to have had more than our share of cancers. More than half of us have suffered one cancer or another. Parts have been replaced. Husbands died. Divorces happened leaving 60 year old women to start a new life they never intended. But this is a support group that can lift you over any barrier or pot hole.

One thing hasn’t changed and that is the essential need we all have to let go of the “stuff” in our lives for just one week. We laugh heartily – some more heartily than others, share stories, gripe, sometimes laugh til we cry, or just cry.

Sure we get bitchy. Never can find music we can agree on. Or it’s too hot or too cold. Somebody’s crabby because it’s Wednesday and project panic has set it. So and so is feeling bloated. Most of us can’t sleep well. Pool the sleep aids. Pick your fave.

When we first started retreating we all quilted. Now it’s fun to look around the room and see the other directions some of the creativity has gone.

Pam doesn’t even bring fabric anymore. She has branched out with watercolors and is an accomplished potter. If we’re lucky she brings pieces we can buy. Look at this painting of a snake she made for her grandson who is obsessed with copperheads. Pretty scary sitting next to her!

Libby enjoys making complicated quilts that require her to do this before cutting fabric. Scary sitting next to her, too.

Edie, who is our Margarita Queen, works on authentic looking Harry Potter costumes for her grandkids. Fortunately, tiny Becky’s just the right size to be the model for a Griffindor cape.

I haven’t quilted much recently but this year I dug out some old fabric and stitched up this cheerful little quilt just for the heck of it. Also enjoying some mid morning and mid afternoon naps without being asked if I feel okay!

Crispy cold but sunny weather makes walking back and forth from cabin to lodge a nice break from our basement workroom.

These are the creations of what I call The Real Quilters. The women who plan each fabric, each placement, each design. Compare to my quilt above. Clearly, I have more time to drink wine so I’m not complaining. Somebody else’s turn in the drinking chair tonight:

I think I want this pimped out sewing machine.

Day Two in the books. Is there stuff going on in the world I should know about? If so I hope it saves until Saturday. Meanwhile, I’ll party on.

Memories – Photographs or Folk Tales?

I think a lot about writing my story.  One time I actually started a Life Story using Creative Memories digital story book software – a product they removed – along with the photo/storybook I’d made.  I’d only written up to 1981 when I got stuck on how to include my divorce.  Stopped me cold because to write the truth would not be an appropriate reveal for my particular audience (read: kids and grandkids).

Recently I enrolled in a “Writing your Life Story” course for seniors at Rollins College.

[Side note: When I actually went to college in the early 60’s the going-to-class part was not a priority for me.  I was busy learning how to drink 3.2 beer and smoke Salems.  Friday nights were for learning all that, plus drinking games, at the Purity. Saturday classes?!  Seriously.]

The first homework from Old Farts college is to write about our earliest memory.  Turns out my earliest memory is probably not a memory at all, but a folk tale that my mother loved to tell.  It was about me as a toddler descending the stairs to where my parents were entertaining –  hands covering my rear end with all the other lower parts open to plain view by the 20-something partiers.  It isn’t really a memory because I can’t picture it from my point of view.  The story in my head is more of a film because I am always viewing myself from the bottom of the stairs.

Skipping school when I was in Kindergarten is, I think, my earliest memory. Probably remembered because this adventure took place in winter in Rome, NY with a couple feet of snow on the ground. Why my mother let me walk to school alone, several blocks, in freezing weather, I have no idea. I got to the front step of the small brick two story building and decided I was too old for Kindergarten nap time, turned around and walked home.  In that 20 minutes or so my mother had left our apartment and the door was locked.  I spent the morning in a cold stairwell, curled up in front of the door, knowing the Wrath of Meg would soon descend.  THAT is a memory.  I can remember trudging through the snow, passing the crossing guard who never questioned my trip.  I remember being alone in the stairwell, shivering from cold and fear.  I don’t remember the consequence for this action, but it most likely involved some spanking “when my father got home.”

Photographs get imprinted in my mind as memories.  In the photo below:  I do remember the cellar door at 40 Parker St, Carlisle, PA in the background.  You could get a mean splinter sliding down the wood.  The boy – no clue.  My coat – made by my Grandma Galt.

ann cellar door

The rabbit in this photo. No memory. But I do remember (hearing?) that my Grandpa Galt once got me a de-skunked skunk for a pet.  His name was Sweet William. But, nope, no rabbit memory.


I don’t remember this slide adventure.  You’d think I would because I look like my life is about to end as my father forces me down the shiny aluminum.


And the last photo for this writing shows a dog of which I have no memory.  From the same time period I do remember being part of a University of Delaware tv show.  Cutting food with a knife; my first time ever.  We didn’t even have tv so I’m not sure what audience they were trying to reach.


It’s a pleasant journey to go through old photos and try to remember the stories they bring to mind – whether a true memory or a folk tale.

Paddling like Hell


At a small dinner party very recently, a friend said to me, “You know, one day I was really struggling with an anxiety/panic attack in church and I looked over at you.  You were so calm and collected and seemed to be so in control.”  She told her husband, “I want to be like Ann.”

At that point, feeling in “safe” company, I explained that I had just been hospitalized the weekend before with what I thought was a heart attack.  Over a period of a week or so after my discharge I underwent every cardiac test ever devised (or so it seemed).  Pronounced completely clear of any cardiac problems, that left one diagnosis – my heart was fine, but I was batshit crazy.  My BP had been close to and over 200 for a couple of weeks, felt chest tightening, racing heart, massive headache.

Those symptoms, I learned, are also symptoms of an anxiety/panic attack.  My preferred “Presentation to the Public” is of a woman totally in charge, able to conquer any task I am asked to take on – and many that I volunteer for without being asked.  I’m not a particularly good delegater because I can do it better than anyone else.  Not only leading programs, but loading the dishwasher!

Going nowhere

I have EXPECTATIONS that people will step up and devote their whole life to my project.  Expectations lead to disappointment and sends me into a frenzy of activity/stress.  I don’t let people find their own way to run something, because….um, what if it wasn’t as good, or didn’t make as much money, or meet a goal set by someone other than me?

FullSizeRender (1)
What my stomach felt like during an anxiety attack

Well, friends, that is no way to live.  I lived a self-imposed stressful life, letting go of all the creative activities I used to love. Sit down and read a book?  Are you kidding?  I should be up writing emails, reports, spreadsheets.  Work on my watercolor technique (if I can even call it that)?  Oh, no.  There’s committee work to do.  Not anymore. The resignation letters and calls were sent immediately with a huge sigh of relief.

I learned the hard way that this way of living with constant self-imposed pressure is extremely unhealthy.  In the old days, they called an episode like mine a “nervous breakdown.”  Now it’s an anxiety/panic attack, or disorder, if it goes on a while.

The anxiety spiral is really hard to break.  I can never tell when something will bring me back to my bed, curled in a ball, sobbing.  BUT, come to find out, I AM NOT the only woman in my circle of friends to go through this.  As I started telling a few people, guess what?  They have been through the same thing, or their best friend has, or a close relative.  What a relief to know that I am not a solo batshit crazy person.

There must be others out there!

Anxiety attacks can be triggered by a sudden death (my friend’s recent suicide which I conveniently stuffed into a file), or the grief for a sister who died four years ago.  FOUR years ago?  Get over it, already, I told myself.

My spiral is by no means over.  I am working with my doctors and therapist to find the right mix of meds (since blood pressure issues continually dog me, that is important to get back under control) and counseling to learn how to deal with this.  Tamp it down now.  Make it go away. Fix it.  Immediately.  That’s what I want.  It’s not what will happen.  I know this in my head, but the rest of my body isn’t there yet.

My circle of friends has drawn close and it has been the best medicine (well, maybe a little Xanax, too!).  I thank God that the right women friends have been put in my path, to surround me with support and love. I thank God that I found the right partner in marriage who, engineer-minded as he is, is doing his best to be present for me.  NOW, when he offers to do the dishes I actually say Yes, please.

New dishwashing captain on left.

I have two daughters who have opened up and told me that this issue comes up in their circles, too. I can’t imagine how many women out there are suffering with anxiety spiral and are too embarrassed to talk about it, or even consider therapy/medication.

I feel vulnerable sharing this, but I also want women to know that some of us who look so in control, who want to run every project, be over-the-top organized, and have a finger in every damn blueberry pie are, like the duck, paddling like hell underneath.

So why the serene beach photos interspersed in this blog.  Because that was the start of my healing process – a weekend at the beach with NOTHING to do.  It was a test.  I passed.  Happy ending, right?  Not quite.  I still have good days and bad days and soon I hope the bad days will dwindle.

Tranquility is out there.

In my first blog post I said I wish I had People.  Actually, I do have people.  They are called friends and family.

Peace to all of you.

Who needs a photo book?

This is a quilt design wall:

Not mine. This is mine:

A resting place for memories and reminders. Reminders that go back many years. Most of them not attended to. See the “Baby Emma” cross stitch?  It was made by my sister Cindi to be the label on a quilt for my first grandchild. Cindi is no longer with us and Emma will soon be 14. 

There’s a reminder to do exercises after my knee surgery from 4 years ago. (Well, in case it ever acts up again!)

A reminder from the church’s Marketing Team to update the Membership section on the website. Due May 1. Oops. Deadline missed. 

And the memories!  “Arts and Craps” pieces from afternoons with The Littles, a photo taken in 1985 with  my co-workers at Indialantic Elementary, my mom’s retirement photo made into a mini-quilt by my sister Sally, a photo of some Masai women taken in Kenya in 2000, ribbons won at quilt shows.  It goes on and on.

How could I possibly throw away messages of support from dear friends?

Or this cross stitch which perfectly captures my feelings on some days:

I like to make digital photo books of our travels and special family events. I have piles and baskets full of them. The grandkids love to go through them — if it’s a book about them!

But our house and our walls are the true “memory book” of my day-to-day life. That’s why I have a problem with de-cluttering. My house IS my true memory book. 

Old memories and new in one bookshelf. Ancestors and current art work. 

Cookbooks. I don’t cook but all of these have long-ago memories attached. A mug from Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. A sweet embroidered piece from a friend when I was dealing with thyroid cancer. Snapshot of the sisters. 

What prompted this post?  I have 3 major deadlines today and this is procrastination at it’s finest. While on hold with Constant Contact I was aimlessly wandering the house (to collect steps on my Fitbit) and realized we live in a museum. A personal museum. And this museum is the memory book of our lives. John is also a curator of this museum:

His office is his to add as he pleases. Never delete. We don’t delete.  

So…to my kids — the photo books will all be yours someday to dispose of as you wish. I suspect this “living” photo book will be of no use to you. But you can take pictures of it all and save for posterity. I wish my forebears had been able to do that. 

Is your home a book of memories?

The Only Cowgirl in Calgary

Our official part of the trip is over.  Most of the group flew home today.  The rest of us are on our own in Calgary.  For some reason I thought this was an old Wild West kind of town. I packed my plaid flannel shirt just for this day.  Guess what.  Calgary is an actual city and we ride the train and bus to prove it.  I was the only woman in a plaid shirt  clearly a tourist, though I don’t think the shirt was the only give-away.

There is a lovely island park close to our hotel with a photo opp recommended by the concierge. Canada is celebrating 150 years this year.  Could’ve bought the tshirt. Didn’t.

Park wildlife (besides us) included geese, black squirrels, and plastic hidden gophers.  My exercise today was dodging goose poop – which, by the way, is quite large considering the size of the critter.

How fun for little kids to run around the park looking for hidden gophers. Sort of the Canadian version of Hidden Mickeys.  

I have never seen a black squirrel. This one was moving fast so it was difficult to get a picture.

And there were pretty flowers, too.

Found a cute place along the river for lunch.  Yikes!  We forgot to check the posted menu before being seated.  Turned out to be pricy so John and I shared a kale pesto flatbread with poached apples, cheddar cheese and roasted walnuts.  About as filling as it sounds.  Thank God for the beer.

Note plaid shirt and Lake Louise fleece tourist jacket on me.  See the glasses of water?  $1 each. But great water.

The boys wanted to go to Fort Calgary.  Seemed like a nice day for a short train ride and walk. And walk.  And walk.  And walk.  Upon arrival I knew there was no way I could walk another step.

No Uber in Canada so we caught at bus to Calgary Tower.  Though both John and I swore we would not go out on the glass ledge, Pat double dog dared us.  We were brave to just stand there.  She outdid us by walking the entire ledge!

Once again note cowgirl outfit.

We both ended up dizzy and slightly off balance for a bit afterwards.  I mean, more off balance than usual.

Here’s another double dog dare. 

Well, maybe I DO look sort of cowgirl-ish…

Absolutely exhausted tonight and looking forward to sleeping in a little later tomorrow morning before our afternoon flight home.  But even though we are tired we have begun talking about our next trip!  We loved our tour director and if we travel again with  Tauck we would definitely find out which trips she is working.  

Can’t wait to WALK to dinner. 😏

Cowgirl out.