Oct 31, 2012

Photojojo iPhone/SmartPhone Camera Attachments! Teens would love this!

Happy Halloween. In the spirit of modern day culture I think that since it is Halloween we can begin talking more about Christmas. Witchy says, TEE HEE HEE! Cackle!

I found a new attachment for our iPhone camera yesterday on ApartmentTherapy.com! They are little lenses let you take all those fun pictures you could not capture on your iPhone/smartphone before! And yes they work on you iPhone 5. The set of three little lenses let you take macro, fisheye and telephoto shots. This is a very good price on amazon.  I paid a lot more than this when I bought a set!

In fact if you look at the Photojojo page on Amazon you will be amazed at all of the cool stuff there is for your smart phone camera.  The quality is already on your cell phone camera.  All you need is some neat attachments to make it perfect!

Photojojo has some things I could not find anywhere else. For example, if you invest in the lenses you will want something to carry the goodies.  Here is where the lens wallet is needed. I know (she squealed)...this is just too wonderful!

Buy the The iPhone Lens Wallet at the Photojojo Store!

Oct 30, 2012

2012 Election, Flooding and Duct Tape

English: A roll of silver, Scotch brand duct tape.English: A roll of silver, Scotch brand duct tape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are all watching the news from the East Coast. Devastation to property, loss of income, death and the national financial consequences for this storm may bring many their knees. However, some good might come of this event...maybe we will see if we can work together.

I remember commenting on a blog recently about the hatred in our political rhetoric. My thoughts were that the hatred would only lessen in the face of a disaster. It seems we are at our best when we need to pull together toward a common goal. Hopefully no candidate will try to make political hay out of this. We will see. I didn't think that the talk after Libya was our finest hour.

That brings me to the duct tape. You know what duct tape is don't you? It is a tape that is so sticky and tough that it can kill warts. At one time it only come in silver but it may be available in other colors now. Most importantly it has many many uses.
In the eastern part of Oregon, the Snake River runs along the border of the state. That river floods over and over. When the snow melts in mountain throughout Idaho and Oregon, the Snake can rage out of its banks onto farmland covering islands and damaging homes that sit near the river.
A family that I know lives on one of those island near Ontario. The year that the river came to the level of a 100 year flood the family evacuated their small home and left everything they possessed behind. Each time the river flooded they needed to make that hard decision. However, they knew that safety was more important than anything. This flood was the worst they had ever seen.
In this particular case the wife decided to get out her supply of duct tape. As her husband moved cattle off the island and evacuated the children, she sealed the home up on the inside at every crack and cranny with the sticky gray tape. As she stepped out of the home she sealed the door behind her and drove through the water off the island just as the water was flowing over the bridge.
When the family returned home, the house had the water marks up the sides but the house sat on the foundation and the interior was absolutely dry. 
 I did not see the house so I cannot vouch for the truth of this story. I only know that I have always thought about duct tape in a whole new way. The many uses for such a simple thing can be amazing.

So today as we wait for our election the hurricane has done the unthinkable...it has stopped the campaigning. This can be our presidential canditates finest hour...or not. But I am an optimist. I hope that maybe one candidate with call the other and ask "What can I do?  How can I help?" Is that possible?

Since we are all in the same storm, it seems to me that we could all just stop bickering, pick up a shovel and put duct tape where it is needed.


Oct 29, 2012

Frugality in Retirement is a Must

Where is the road sign for Frugal?
Oh my gosh, retirement can be hard if we don't handle our finances in a responsible manner.  I talk about retirement finances a lot even though I am not an expert. It is always on my mind.  However, I rely on the experts when it comes to anything specific. However, when I am asked to write about "frugal" I can do that. I think I am the expert on that subject.

Late last week I wrote a blog on brainstorming about possible things we might do to make retirement possible. I talked about ideas that I thought might work for you if you could just be creative. However, in the end I said that you cannot retire by using coupons and that you much always spend less than you spend. Frugality is not about coupons; it is about lifestyle.

There are some specific things that experts have said on this blog.  This what we should all do to make sure we are on the right track:
  1. Not everything should be about "frugal". Be sure you have the right insurance. In the end, cut-rate insurance may cost you more.
  2. We need to be sure to check with an expert and get a finance analysis on our spending.  If we live on less than we make, we can save.  However, if we get a little help with that plan, we will be better prepared.
  3. Always be sure that your children are on board with your plans. This can be a huge problem if you don't address the issue now. Whether it is giving up the car keys or moving to a far off state because you can live more frugally there,  the children will want to be involved.
  4. Take a good hard look at the size of the house.There are expert that deal with seniors specifically.  They can be very helpful.
What does frugality mean to you? Is it just about groceries and clothing? I want you to think about all the things that frugality can involve. This what my husband and I do:
  • Take a hard look at your internet and TV usage. If you can do with just a little bit less, you can save a bundle. 
  • Travel on the shoulder of the season if you travel. This will save you a great deal of money and still be just as much fun.
  • Even though I say you cannot retire on coupon savings, I still think that you should always use them. You are a fool if you don't. Websites like Groupon, GolfNow.com, and Restaurant.com can have some great deals.  Everything from bark dust for the yard to eating at a fine restaurant becomes more affordable.
  • Be sure your bank is giving you all the benefits you are entitled to when you are retired. This one just makes good sense.
  • Use public transportation when possible. Seniors can ride our Max Lines here in the Portland Metro area for around $.75. No parking fees.
  • Shop smart...don't shop to keep yourself entertained. Have some kind of a dollar amount in mind before you even get in your car. I have found that if I go to the grocery for soap, I will come home with 5-10 other items.  It is not smart to do that.
I know that living frugally is a must...it always has been for us. If you are thinking that you cannot retire because you cannot live the "lifestyle to which you have become accustomed" it could be that you are accustomed to a lifestyle you cannot afford now let alone in the future.  Think about it.


Oct 28, 2012

Garden Vineyard in the Rain! Fall in Oregon at its Best!

I don't how you could find a more beautiful place.  Even in the Fall rain, Washington Co. in the Willamette Valley of Oregon sparkles.  These images were taken at Garden Vineyard this afternoon. We had a wine tasting outside as the rain pelted down on the awnings and heater warmed the autumn air.  My life is so good!

Garden Vineyards open on weekends or by appointment.
Be sure to check their schedule of events. This is a family friendly place and perfect for the photographer.  Wine club members get their tastings free.


To arrive at the Vineyard House & Gardens follow these simple directions.  Don’t stop until the very end of Dick Rd.
Address – 12960 NW Dick Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97124
1. Head northwest on US-26 W to Exit 61
2. Take Exit 61 for Helvetia Rd
3. Turn right at NW Helvetia Rd (follow signs for Helvetia Rd)
4. Turn right at NW Phillips Rd
5. Turn left at NW Dick Rd
6. Follow NW Dick Rd as it winds uphill to the Vineyard House & Garden

Oct 26, 2012

The Stove Is on Fire! Yikes!

In a fireplace hopefully!
The stove was on fire...really on fire. I was drying a grill pan and turned my back. It might have been me that spilled something. But I am not taking the blame! I don't think it is important. All I know is the tray underneath the burner was full of flammable liquid and it caught on fire.

The fire alarm did not go off. I'm a little worried about that.

You never really know how alert you are until the accident happens...right? My husband huffed and puffed on the flames. I got the box of soda and put it out. I know how to put out a fire...I've had some experience. The question was, how am I going to handle this blame stuff? I said in my most casual voice, Well the house needed airing out anyway!

Which goes to show you...it is not how big any fire is or who started it. It is how much soda you can throw on the blames!

Be well.


Oct 25, 2012

Christmas: 8 Lessons for Beginning Grandparents

Faroese christmas seals 2005 - santa claus

Do you remember your first Christmas with your new baby all those years ago? I do. I was very young and it was important to me that we spend that Christmas with my parents. I was not thinking of my child at that time or even how much my parents loved being with us to watch their grandchildren. I did not know how important it was to them.

But now...now I am on the other end of the grandparenting. In fact I have been a grandmother for 20 years now. I have no idea if my husband and I are good in this role but we certainly have a lot of experience.  I thought I would share some lessons reflecting what we have learned and maybe you can find something that will help you.

  1. Tradition is very important. My husband always teased his grandchildren with the "piece of coal" in their stockings story. Then we taught them that even a rock can be a treasured gift. When I vist them in their home, I find the rocks somewhere in their room or toys. I don't know why but them love them. Everyone can give a rock...the gift doesn't have to be big
  2. My husband and I are not responsible for Santa Claus or big gifts. We can't be! In fact, we did not assume that role even in the beginning. I always thought it would be intrusive for us to take that fun away from my children. We are not the center of the grandchildren's world.
  3. We don't compete with the other grandparents. In fact we only rejoice for what the other grandparents can give and do our own thing.  We have a good relationship with the other grandparents. We respect, love and appreciate the other grandparents.
  4. Children love little gifts of money...but I have learned to be careful about what we can give. Sometimes a little money is more fun that a lot. Ten dollar bills is a lot of money when you hold it in your hand. Remember, the dollar store is one of the best destinations for a little person. Money should not be made into a big thing.
  5. We PARTICIPATE in the big gifts for grandchildren. This helps their parents too. Many times there is a need to be filled that can be turned into a gift. We love to contribute to those things. We can help the parents feel good about what they can do.
  6. It is fun to give a gift that teaches a lesson. Gift cards for Amazon, etc are a good value.  One of my grandsons has hoarded his, figured out that he gets free shipping if he has several item and still talks about the card.That one was a real winner. I sent it to his email account at the last minute. We can be teachers without making a big fuss.
  7. I have learned that Grandchildren may not say thank you, at least not right away and then not in writing. We learned to be patient.  
  8. Finally, Christmas should be fun...that is the beautiful thing about it. Grandchildren want you to join in and have fun too. Embrace the quirkiness of your family tradition, enjoy the time and be sure to give a little prayer of thanks. Even the simplest of traditions are what binds a family together.
Have a great day!


Oct 24, 2012

I"m Worried about Santa Claus...there are rumors!

Santa and his pipe! Look how happy he is.
There is a nasty rumor going around.  I don't know if it is true but if it is, it does not bode well for any of us at Christmas this year! See, I think they took Santa's pipe away from him...I am not sure who "they" are but I they might have done it.

I am the last person in the world to promote tobacco smoking. I do not smoke and never have. But I know people that have smoked and quit. They got grumpy and twitchy. In fact, I found myself avoiding them during the first few weeks of their new life style. Quitting tobacco is very hard.

Who in their right mind would take Santa's pipe away from him just before Christmas? The Jolly Old Fellow really needs to be in a good mood. And what about The Night Before Christmas? Do you think they will need to change the poem too?  This has me worried.
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Oct 21, 2012

10 Rules for Shopping - Don't Gamble with your Money

We have public information spots on TV about gambling here in Oregon. People get carried away, get in debt and do crazy things.  I think shopping is a lot like a game of chance. That is why I am giving you 10 rules for shopping to keep costs down. I do these things:
  1. Go to the bank and get the cash for what you can afford to spend.
  2. Limit the number of stores you will visit...make a list.
  3. Limit the amount of time you will spend in each store.
  4. Don't go shopping unless you have a specific need. Shopping when you are frugal cannot be your entertainment.
  5. Make a list of the items you need.
  6. Pre-shop for those big items online so you can make sure you are getting a good price at the store. Take shipping into account when you jot the price down on your list.
  7. Look for coupons online and in the paper. Always take into account the distance you will have to drive for a good deal. Gas is expensive.
  8. If you love something but it costs too much, wait for a while and shop outlet stores. Marshalls, Home Goods and Ross can have that very item for much less.
  9. Think outside the box...if you are shopping for light fixtures, for example, be sure to check outdoor lighting. Look in the men's department for unisex clothes...they charge men less for the same items
  10. Never throw a receipt away...not for a long time. An item that doesn't work or breaks after a short period of time can be returned. I am told that places like Costco will take things back after the warranties have expired no questions asked.
Be sure to check the related articles below. You might find something that interests you there too.

Have a wonderful week.


Oct 20, 2012

Reinvention: Making a movie called "The Red Suitcase"

Note: I love it when I find a project or movie that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. The idea that we find a way to survive and grow at any age has a lot of appeal for me.  I think that is why I have become a follower of a movie project called The Red Suitcase. The movie is written in the genre of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Both are about aging in a state of crisis. This movie has not been released yet and is in fact not finished filming. But you get an inside look now.

Henrik Ibsen wrote timeless raw material that shocked his readers in the middle 19th century.  I remember reading what I think were his words in a literature class in college in the early 1960s.  Even at the age of 19 I recognized the truth in his words. I will paraphrase the story for you:
Ibsen told about taking the old people to the poor house to live out their days. The family was busy, the old people were very hard to care for and they did not have any wealth to contribute to the family. As the elderly couple climbed from the coach, the old man tore the blanket that had covered him in two and handed one half to his son. 
The son asked, "Why did you do that?  It is very cold." 
In reply the old mans said, "I am leaving you half of the blanket. You will need it when your children bring you here."
I have always thought that this story spoke to the examples we set for our children. The cycle of our actions continue even though we are gone. The way we treated our parents is how we will be treated.

The Movie
That brings me to a movie called The Red Suitcase. I received an email from the writer of the movie several months ago.  The movie is about a mother and her daughter connecting in a cross country journey.  The mother had been divorced for several years but lived with the hope that her husband would return one day. It is only after she has found out that the husband has remarried that the truth becomes a reality for her. 

I could see myself as the daughter in this story. I would have gone to my mother to try to convince her to join me in the far off state. The idea of my mother being alone and sad was a reality I could never face.

Both of the women needed to own the unpleasant realities in their lives.  Neither was without fault and their personalities clashed. The mother did not have the means to care for herself. But in this case, the daughter did not take the easy way out. She assumed the responsibility that the connection between a mother and her child demands.
Red Suitcase Films is dedicated to launching a Movement, that inspires Reinventing at any age.Our mission is to spark a revolution, by inspiring old and young alike to see aging as an exciting journey of discovery, proving that... It's never too late! Keep checking back for future updates on our upcoming campaign. (Click here for The Red Suitcase website.)

The movie is being produced in a very unusual way I think. The makers went to the public and asked for donations so that it could be produced. They are still working on that project but as they travel across the country toward their destination the movie too inches toward it's completion. I have been watching the process and it is fascinating.

The message here is "reinvention". The idea that we can find a new path at any age is one to which we can all relate.  We would all like to think that we are stronge enough to pick ourselves and and start over no matter how old we are.

Dana White is the writer and producer. But more importantly she plays the role of the daughter. As with most writing, this film is the response to her own life experience.

Ibsen's Selected Plays (Norton Critical Editions)

Could the old people in Ibsen's tale have reinvented themselves in that era?  I doubt it. In fact this modern version of reinvention is gaining momentum all the time because it is a part of the boomer phenomena.  I think you should visit The Red Suitcase and enjoy.

I also urge you to visit the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel research website.  This is good stuff.

Just a thought.  

Technorati tags:  Film, Boomers, Divorce

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Oct 19, 2012

#Grandparents: Learning about learning from a @TED!

I never am quite as interested in a YouTube performance than when I am watching a TED video. Here is the one I received today called Science is for everyone, kids included! Quote: "If you aren't sure what you see is a predator, it is too late" Read the published outcome at Biology Letters Blackhawton Bees


Have a wonderful weekend.


Oct 17, 2012

Best Ways to Live on a Limited Income: 8 RV Resort Stories

This post if for those of you that wonder what it would be like to live in less than 400 square feet. The very smallest of homes can be found in RV resorts across the country. People either come to visit in the winter or live in the tiny doll houses year around. The latter group does this mostly out of necessity but in some cases they have found ways to live beautifully as well as frugally in that small space.

There are two couples that live year around on my street.  They have beautiful park models and everything they could want even though their space is very small.  The amenities in the park allow people to use their homes for all those personal things and the community space for activities that require spreading out. In many ways it is like a Cohousing arrangement.  A sewing room holds very large tables so those that love to quilt can have the room they need.  Sewing machines line one wall so they can be used by residents.  A shop has all kinds of tools for members of the wood shop club.  A lapidary room provides all the tools necessary for rock cutting and silversmithing. They share things that they only need occasionally. For example, one person stores the ladder while another shares a rug shampooer. It is a very economical arrangement for everyone.
Block Party...R. and W. are just retired and traveling in an RV.
J. and C. come for the winter from northern Wisconsin.

These people have found a way to make their income go a long way.  The luxuries they yearn for are more affordable because they are not spending a fortune on housing amenities.  Many of the year around residents are widows/widowers or have divorced. Some of them are living on a limited income and are managing to do it with very little help from family.

The Stories
  1. R. and C. lived in northern Arizona where he worked as a teacher for most of his career.  They still have deep roots in the community they moved from. They had her mother living close by here in the park for many years.  They have an income from the Arizona retirement fund that is very, very limited.  I do not know their personal business but he has talked about their situation informally.  They are younger than we are.  She was always a stay at home mom and never worked at a job that provided retirement or even social security.  He plays pickle ball almost every day and they do go north for a short period of time in the summer.  They have found a wonderful life here for themselves.  
  2. W. and E. live in a beautiful park model that they have spend 15 years remodeling...they are working to get it just the way they want. They are from Illinois. E. worked as a nurse here in Tucson until she reached retirement age and W. was a business man. They have made themselves indispensable in this resort.  W. might be the mayor if there was such a thing.  He knows the workings of the park so he our go-to person.
  3. L. lives on doggie row. She stays year around and lives on a very limited income. She did not even turn on her air conditioner for many years. The story is that in the summer when it got too hot, she slept on the couch in the coffee room. We have a TV room too so she could spend most of her day in the cool.  The airconditioner went 24 hours a day in the common areas.
  4. P. lives very close...he is alone but has a friend that lives down the street.  This couple eats together, dances together and comes to happy hour together. But they do not live together.  They have separate lives, finances and homes with their own belongings.  It is a wonderful arrangement. They stay in the park year around. 
  5. T. is P.'s friend.  She has survive two or more husbands and has children living in the midwest.  She is an independent person of great resources.  She buys her shoes at the Tanque Verde swap meet and gets her clothes at a store that sells at close out prices (Cato's). She always looks beautiful and her park model is well maintained.  
  6. V. and R. have family here in Tucson. They care for their grandchild frequently. They have a newer park model and like all of the people mentioned above, do not own a second house.  They pour all their energy into their home here in the park. They are very active in their church.
  7. S. is not a year round resident but she does knows how to make her money go a long ways. She dresses entirely with clothes from thrift shops. Christmas decorations and even her bicycle have been purchased second hand (Second Time Around Sports).  
  8. L. has turned her park model into a two bedroom home. She has moved her living room outdoors and has a heater she can use if she holds a party for a large group.  She has turned the living room into a dining room and has a small comfortable seating area she uses when she is alone.  It is just darling.
People do need things done in this park but the maintenance people and residents are willing to help with handy man jobs.  This makes living here even more affordable.  And we all share what we do not need with someone that needs it.  I have a neighbor's bedspread on my bed and her husband used my husband's saw to reface kitchen cabinets.  They gave us the paving stones we use for our back patio and I will send my basket of succulents home with her this spring.  It is a very simple informal bartering system that works for everyone.

Life goes on here when the snow birds leave.  Over 100 people live here year around.We have a city owned recreational facility nearby.  It adjoins the community college campus and a walking park.  Seniors can use the exercise facilities for a little fee or can join and pay for a season of use.  There is no need for them to spend much on this type of activity.

I love this place.  It might be my second home town...small, gossipy, busy, sunny, friendly. And unlike what you have heard, we are surrounded by younger boomers in increasing numbers. We watch carefully for bikes whizzing by and love to watch tennis players and pickle ball games. In fact, I really would have to tell you that I feel much younger here than I do anyplace I have ever been.

Have a wonderful day.


Oct 16, 2012

5 tips to Make Your Money Stretch in Retirement

What can be new under the sun...have we talked about money and retirement so much we have worn the subject out? Well the answer is a resounding NO. It turns out that the technology sector is very creative when it comes to saving us money. The nerds are working for us again. You all know you need to be to sure to check your bank account regularly. That is a given. But you need to check your smart phone too. S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G your income is getting to be easier and easier thanks to those little devices and the people that write applications for them.

Here are 5 downloads you can use on your smart phone to save you money and time:
QR Code generator
QR Code for my blog!
scan it and see what it says!
  1. QR Readers:  Shopping can be very tricky these days. The better armed you are, the better you are at finding what you need and at the right price. That is where the QR Code works for you. QR stands for Quick Response. The little square actually contain a world of information.  You can find out more about a product, a store or even the movie advertised on a poster.  You will see them in magazine and online at blogs like mine.  Being informed is always better and can save money.
  2. Barcode Scanners: I have an app on my phone called RedLaser -Barcode Scanner, Shopping... It is an eBAY Inc. product. The applications allows you to walk into a store, any store and find out if the product you are about to buy is priced right. You simply open the RedLaser app, scan the barcode and the phone will tell you where else that product is available in the area and at what price. This so simple and just smart.
  3. Golfing App: My husband is a golfer and was given a gps device that helps him on the golf course. It was expensive and a yearly subscription was necessary. It was called Sky Caddie and he will probably never pay a fee to Sky Caddie again. Why? It turns out that our iphone has an app available called Sky Droid that only cost a $1.99 one time fee that does the same thing. There is another one called GolfLogix that is free. My husband is actually going to start using my iPhone because he wants to use these applications. Stretching the golf dollar is very important these days.
  4. Maps and GPS: My husband and I became the proud owners of a Garmain GPS for our car last year. I don't know why we have it but my husband earned it filling out surveys online so I guess almost free is good. HOWEVER, we have been using the mapping gps on my iphone since I bought the very first iphone several years ago. We have gone through Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the dark and found our way to our destination. I have gotten to be very proficient at operating it. My app was on my phone when I bought it but a search on the Apple App Store would probably give me lots of other choices.
  5. Around Me: I hate to waste gas searching for a place to eat or buy groceries when I am in a strange place. Even down town Portland befuddles me sometimes. Where is that.....? That is when I use the app called Around Me.  I can find the bank, hospital, restaurants and even the motel when we are traveling. It links back to my maps application. When I am traveling, finding the bank can be a real problem. This application has saved our bacon many a time.   
I have only exposed the tip of the iceberg here.  You get a free Kindle application on your iPad. You can also download Nook for free. Skype is a free calling service available on the pads.  Think of how much that saves you. I don't have a hard wired phone in my house. I just use my iPad and iPhone.  You can do your banking without getting in your car. The list goes on and on. Managing your money in todays world means you need to be not only aware of how much money you have in the bank.  You need to be able to manage it and access it.

Just a thought.

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Oct 15, 2012

Redecorating: #Grandma...Wanna Come and Watch #Grandpa with Us?

We redecorated a room in our house and turned it into a dining room.  It is at the front of the house and has lots of light.  We had been using it as a TV room but it was not a comfortable room or attractive for that purpose.
We have painted, put down a cork floor, replaced the molding and moved the furniture in.

My grandsons think watching Grandpa working is better than a TV show. My husband was in the room replacing the baseboard last Friday and the boys were here for a visit. They came running out to get me...."Grandma, grandpa is putting nails in the wall.  Wanna come watch with us?" 

Well, of course I did.  I think Grandpa working is better than a TV show too. Have a wonderful day!



Paint - Sherwin Williams "Bagel"
Sconces - Lowes Gavanized Zinc Exterior Lamps
Floors - Cork
Lamp Shade - Lowes Barrel Shade

Oct 12, 2012

5 places Overseas That Are Ideal for Retiring

Have you ever arrived from a dream in the morning thinking about where you would love to retire? If you have, I can almost guarantee you have let your mind wander to a foreign country. What would it be like to live in an ancient city or on a sunny shore? Could you actually do that? Well the answer is a definite resounding yes...yes you can. People from around the world move to foreign shores to become expats in their retirement...a lot of people.

In my dreams this morning I thought about Panama or Spain. Then my mind wandered to the wonderful Kohs in Thailand. Island living can be the best for some people. I have always thought that Bulgaria would be interesting and I love the idea of living in a place like the Bahamas. However, dreaming is one thing and actually making that dream come true is another. Before you even begin, you need to think how you will manage your financial affairs if you live overseas. You need to remember that having an international bank account is also important. Do your homework and dream on.

1- Bahamas The Caribbean lifestyle has a lot of appeal because of its relaxed vibes. I visited the country many years ago for a very short period of time. The people were on island time and I liked that a lot. The natural beauty of a tropical climate is always appealing.  The cost of living in the Bahamas may not be as low as some developing nations but the Bahamian dollar is on a par with the US dollar so moving back to the states later is not a big problem. And I will tell you that there is nothing in this world more beautiful than that beautiful clear water.  WOW!

2- Spain  Spain has a beautiful coastline on the Costa del Sol. The Mediterranean is like a magnet attracting people from northern Europe. Anyone that lives in Europe knows that this is the destination for those seeking a respite from the cold North Atlantic. In fact, I suppose that a lot of writers disregard this area because it is one of those "been there done that" locations. HOWEVER, I absolutely love it. The food, international atmosphere and beautiful location are just perfect.

from Tourism of Thailand
3- Thailand This country is a great draw for expats. The tax advantages and low cost of living make it ideal for Westerners. Winter tourist from Europe, Africa and the Middle East find the simplicity of island life or life in north Thailand to be perfect.  I have been to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  The island of Samui was charming beyond belief.  I could see myself spending a lot of time on that tiny island. The island of Phuket and the northern Thailand city of Chang Mai are the Thai people's favorite. They will always ask you if you have been to those places in polite conversation.The Thai people are the most charming lovely people I have ever known. 

4- Bulgaria I am told that Bulgaria is becoming more and more popular for British retirees.  This is one of those places that boasts a beautiful historic past. The capital of Sofia dates back to the 8th Century B.C. and has a population over 1,250,000. It is the capital of the country. It seems Bulgaria has it all. There are many ski resorts, opportunities for cultural experiences, and of course, there is the Black Sea. What more could anyone want? A visit to the Bulgarian Travel Organization will provide you with more information than you could ever want. 

5- Panama I dream of that part of the world. The idea of a tropical climate with a high standard of living yet still affordable should be the ideal. Panama has some very appealing advantages for retirees. For example, if you buy a home valued at $200,000, you can have a resident’s visa AND be property tax free if you make it your sole residence.  

I found several things you should think about before making this kind of decision in a Forbes article.  They mentioned things like language, climate, medical care, ease of acquiring residency, tax laws, cost of living, crime and most important of all, how you can keep your money safe.    

The world is your apple and if you are nearing retirement, this may be the time for you to begin making those "trial runs" to countries around the world. Take a vacation to see if you can find your ideal overseas retirement spot. Remember there are over 200 countries on this earth. There is probably someplace that is just perfect for you. 


Oct 10, 2012

Retirement Travel: 3 Best Beginners Lessons

Su Mae's MotherSapa Vietnam(Photo credit: Always at Home)

Travel is a passion and I love to talk about it, write about it and listen or read or watch movies about it. I once wrote in a journal about the need to travel.  It was in 2004. (I was 62...which proves it is never to late or early to be a beginner.) I said:
If I were not traveling I think I would die from itching feet. My feet may bleed from the coarse sand and ill fitting shoes but at least they do not itch and I do not die.  I grow callouses that make me strong and even taller.  I seem to become smarter from the bottom up.
This entry was written while my husband and I were traveling in Thailand with our son, his wife and our 16 month old granddaughter. The granddaughter is 9 now and we have been to the far east several times since that time. But the memories from our first trip are still alive. What I remember more than anything else was the feeling of being a beginning traveler. The first time in the Orient was wonderful and hard at the same time. I continue to learn about traveling abroad.

If you are a beginning traveler, I think you can benefit from several things I have learned. I cannot give you the smells or the emotional experience, not in person.  But what I think you can learn from books and movies will help you a lot.

Lesson # 1: Different is a GOOD THING!
The latest and greatest destinations are usually third world countries. There are still deal to be had and the people have not learned to dislike tourist...yet. I read on a travel site the other day about the two sides of places we will visit. There is the resort experience...the one where we go to a country like Thailand, stay in a resort, and leave with a sun tan but no knowledge about the country itself. Or we can stay in a hotel, wander out for lunch or dinner and experience the people of the country. It is our choice.

The thing is, if you go out into the country you will not find what you have at home. If you have never been in a third world country where a small percentage of the citizens are very rich and the rest are not, it is a shock. 

The experience of seeing people living at or below what you consider the poverty level may make you uneasy. The reason you will feel that way is because you are basing your judgement on your countries standards. I have learned that material possessions are not even possible for a lot of people in the world. They do not miss what they do not know. They live very frugally and are happy. I envy them that life. 

Here is what I suggest you do. Rent a movie! Of all the videos I have ever seen, the one that hit the perfect balance was The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Pilot). The Book Series written by Alexander McCall are wonderful to read but the HBO series based on the books give the viewer a feel for the joy and simplicity of life in a place that is not all about Internet service and TV. The experience is about the people and their dress, culture, and music. After watching the series and reading several of the books, I want to visit Botswana. I think I would like it.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a television series, produced by the BBC in conjunction with HBO, and based on the novels of the same name by Alexander McCall Smith. The novels focus on the story of a detective agency opened by Mma Ramotswe and her courtship with the mechanic Mr. JLB Matekoni. The series was filmed on location in Botswana and was seen as one of the first major film or television productions to be undertaken in Botswana. (The Gods Must Be Crazy, a 1980 film set in Botswana was filmed mainly in South Africa. (Wikipedia)
Even if you are traveling in the United States you will find "third world" conditions or cultures you do not understand. Be respectful and listen. You may just learn something.

Less # 2: Find the Place that Calls Your Name
The world is your oyster...the whole big wide world. Oh my gosh what will I do first? When we retired, the "oyster" was like a big giant elephant demanding to be eaten NOW! I know we both had to take a big deep breath and step back. Remember, you eat an elephant one-bite-at-a-time. I think a list is good. Keep in mind expenses, time and dreams. In other words do what you dream of on what you can afford and the time you can stand to be away from home. It is as simple as that.

Lonely Planet suggested several movies that are available no.  They give you glimpses of various regions in China. The article called Silver screen China: a movie buff’s travel guide refers to movies shot in locations throughout China. Because I travel in China I was very interested in this article. Getting a visual picture of the places even helps me make my choices.

Lonely Planet forum has conversations about The Da Vinci Code and how that movie prompted people to take a trip to the movie scene locations. I even wrote an article about the movies that had been filmed in Tucson, AZ. For those of you that are a Lord of the Rings fans, the images of New Zealand may even lead you to visit that country. Incidentally, I see that New Zealand has restored the movie set for tourist that visit from around the world.

Lesson #3: Review the Etiquette of Travel
Here is the deal. You need to remember that the movies can give you images of a country but people are people. I don't know about you but learning about people is why I travel. So you really, really must read The Accidental Tourist by Ann Tyler. If you are one of those people that think that all those people out there that do not look like you or eat like you or worship like you are evil, you need to get over that. The Accidental Tourist is about a man that writes how-to books for people that travel but don't want to ever taste or smell the country. It might help stop you from being an "ugly American". Even Mark Twain wrote about the traveler that would not give up the idea of superiority when they traveled. The Innocents Abroad is a wonderful book and still is valid even after all this time.

I remember the first time I had ever been in Washington, DC.  The sights were so familiar and it was a amazing that I actually felt very at home in a place so unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The reason?  Our nation's capital is in the news every night. The images were ones I had seen hundreds of time. I had read history and novels placed in the capital. It was like home because I knew and understood it even though I had never been there. That is what movies and books can do for you.

So that is what was on my mind today.  Send me an email if you have a question or leave a comment.  I would love to hear your thoughts!


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