It is hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the fires devastated our region. So much has happened since October 8th, 2017. Yet it seems not that long ago I left our home for 11 days with my stepdaughter and four dogs, not knowing if we would ever see our house standing again. When I think about that time and all that’s happened since, I often need to take a long and deep breath.
Since the fires (both the wine country fires and the fires in Southern California that quickly followed) my husband retired from his 34-year career in the fire service, his father passed away, two of his three children were married, his youngest daughter moved out of our house – and out of the state – leaving us empty nesters and I turned 50. It’s been quite a year. I can’t recall ever experiencing more change in such a short period.
I am more than grateful our home survived the fires. So many wine country residents cannot say the same, sadly, and lots of people continue to have difficulties rebuilding their homes and their lives.
Bill’s eldest daughter and her husband have been able to settle into their new home and their new life as a married couple since losing their home and most of its contents to the fires. That has been relief and a gift for our family. Also, I am abundantly thankful Bill has retired and therefore doesn’t spend days on end during our lengthy fire season, working to exhaustion in smoky, toxic and dangerous conditions.
Today is the first day of October, an important month to me as my birthday and both of my parents’ birthdays are in October, and it’s the month Bill and I were married. Of course it’s also when the fires occurred and when so many things began to shift and change and churn over the last twelve months.
As I approach 51, my urge to write, share and be creative has returned, so here I am! Rather than try to figure out where to begin with the sharing part, I will just get right to it with what’s dominating my thoughts these days. But first, a little background.
Last year, Bill and I planned to celebrate my 50th birthday in France, leaving on October 11th, but we canceled our trip because of the fires. Although I didn’t want to rebook the trip, Bill convinced me and eventually I came around to the idea. I started planning and dreaming and considering lots of options. After much research, discussion and lots of help from a fantastic travel expert, Adam Martindale of Martindale Travel & Tours, we decided to go on a dreamy Mediterranean cruise to re-celebrate my 50th birthday, my 51st and, most importantly, celebrate and commemorate Bill’s retirement from Santa Rosa Fire Department.
We leave in early November and head to Barcelona for a couple days before we board the ship. We have never been to Spain and I am excited to explore parts of this magical country. Our cruise is 10 nights in duration and at the end, we disembark in Rome where we will stay for a couple of days before heading home.
Lately my thoughts are filled with either dreaming about what we will see and do or figuring out what we both will wear on the ship. We are loyal blue jeans people and I personally live in Birkenstocks. Our cruise line asks that passengers to dress up a bit. They don’t require or expect black tie but jeans are not really allowed after 6 pm.
I have already found some great pants for Bill. Next we will look for a blazer for him. Wearing a uniform for over three decades does not make for much of a dressed up wardrobe.
My searches focus on black pants, a couple of dresses, shoes that are both comfortable and stylish, and blouses/tunics. Also on my mind is how I will avoid gaining 20 pounds eating all that fabulous food on our ship.
Our stateroom looks lovely and spacious and the excursions we reserved sound interesting and exciting. On our one day at sea, we booked a cooking class. Our ship has a culinary department and we will taking a class on cooking seafood! Oh, and spa treatments are on the agenda too.
This will be our first cruise ever and it’s sure to be a trip of a lifetime for us. We have been to Rome before but many of the other destinations our cruise is taking us to are firsts for us.
Any advice on cruising in general, and visiting Spain, Malta, South of France, Pompeii, and Monaco are appreciated!
I hope you’ve all been well. Happy October!