North, South, East and West
It's been quite a year! And reflecting on where I've been and what I've done in 2017, it's been a real adventure.
Here in New Zealand, staying once again with our expanding family in Tauranga, (two marriages and baby since I was here four years ago) I've been able to actually unpack and put my clothes away onto shelves and hangers.
Starting the year off in South Africa, spending time with family and friends was very therapeutic, after a rather traumatic 2016. We visited game reserves and wineries and lots of craft distilleries. I discovered amazing craft spirits being created on sugar plantations and old warehouses in Durban. And down in the Cape, drove all over the place, to breweries out in the bush, distilleries in downtown and wineries way out in the country.
After three months, I headed back to California with the idea of heading to Mexico with a friend, where we would spend at least six months, and I would try to sort out what which direction my life was going.
Ryan and I took fun little trips, one out to the desert when it was flowering, which is something I had wanted to do for ages. We went before the mad rush a couple of weeks later, where there were so many people, the flowers were being tramples. Very sad.
Before heading to Mexico, I spent time with Betsy in Dana Point, getting to know Barry, her now-fiance, and attending a very sad memorial on the tallship America, for our dear friend Bobby, photographer extraordinaire. I worked with him on and off over the years. He is sorely missed.
Going south to Mexico turned into a complete disaster. The friend, who I have known and traveled with for 30 years, completely flipped out and left, not in the dead of night, but at 6am one morning, after I had been there barely 3 weeks. No car, a lease in her name, not a good situation. After the shock wore off, I decided that the area where I was, Ajijic near Guadalajara, wasn't for me so high tailed it out of there.
But it left me in a precarious position. Where to stay and what to do. For the next couple of months, I bounced between Studio City with Ryan, Dana Point and Santa Barbara with Betsy, house sitting a couple of times for other friends.
During that time, I snagged a wonderful assignment to go on an adventure, expedition boat up north in British Columbia for a week. Not my favorite weather, but I looked at it as a place to be, and something to do for a few days. I surprised myself and really enjoyed the different, cold experience exploring the Gwaii Haanas aboard Passing Cloud.
On my way back from the trip, I spent a couple of summer months with Jim and Mardelle in Port Townsend, pretty much trying to recover from a rather frenetic pace of life, and just hanging out. Walks on the beach, coffee chats every morning, movies here and there.
Of course, being there, it was the perfect time to head east to Lake Chelan to see Janet and Pat. As I didn't have a car, I was lucky to hitch a ride with my good old friend Bill, and we spent several days at the lake, once again catching up with my very sane friend!
I had hoped to see Cody and my grandsons but apparently my life is too inappropriate to be included in their lives, and that is such a heart ache for me. Not something I can dwell on; it gets shut away in a box or I would spend my days crying.
Back to Southern California for a brief stay before heading to Tahiti, perhaps my favorite part of the world (along with South Africa). Betsy and I had planned the trip with 6 women on the Moorings 48 catamaran, a trip like we did the previous year to Belize. Lucky for us, we added some days at the beginning and at the end of the 7-day charter and spent five days on Huahine. I fell in love all over again. I really feel like I belong there! It was absolutely heavenly and I was very sad to leave.
But once again, I was headed to family in Australia. Zoze, my sister was already there, staying with Carol, my niece who lives in Toowoomba, way outside Brisbane. It was springtime, and the flower gardens, which the town is known for, were in full bloom and we made several trips around the area to see them. The entire Australian side of the family came for a huge "braai" and I saw the nieces and nephews and all their offspring, who I hadn't met before. Great fun! We also did a 3-day trip to the coast, near Mooloolaba. Beautiful beaches, a visit to the ginger factory and a huge craft market with more "stuff" than you can imagine.
While I was in California, I got a weird infection that seemed to lower my immune system, because on the flight from Tahiti to Australia, I picked up what I call, an airplane cold, which stuck with me the whole month I was there and beyond. It really put a damper on my enjoyment factor and how I was feeling.
Next adventure was heading west across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, and a 6-month visa, a place to unpack, to chill, catch up and contemplate the future.
In a couple of hours, the house will be filled with young people. Christmas carols on the radio and I can smell the enormous ham cooking. We have already started eating, spiced nuts, chocolate-dipped biscotti and other treats as apparently Nigella says "It's not a fast, it's a feast!" And tomorrow, more friends and family will gather around, some "strays" whose families are in other parts of the world, or whose kids have flown the coop, leaving empty nesters.
As the year draws to its inevitable close, I am looking forward to new adventure, Ryan and my new business endeavor which you will hear about in February or so, when the wraps come off. Where I will be and what I will be doing are both up in the air, but at the moment, I am relishing the time here with family, having a room of my own and my clothes stashed away without a suitcase in sight.
Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year to everyone.