There is No Place Like Home

I never thought I would ever write this, and yet, after over 3 years in Birmingham Alabama, I decided it was time to come to a decision. Do I stay or do I go?

When I accepted the position at AdventureKEEN it was understood that after proper training I would re-locate to wherever I wished to live and work for the company remotely. For the greater part of early 2016 I looked at all my options, especially Florida, but as time went by and after exploring my options in Orlando I came to the decision that the Kingdom of the Mouse was not going to work for me, after all.

Now what?

Reality check: I still have quite some years to go till retirement, and until I reach this day there must be a better way than renting a place that is fine, but was never meant to be permanent. The famous sheet with pro and contra columns literally saved the day.

I had grown fond of Birmingham, the little blue dot in the Red Sea. Friends and colleagues certainly were another plus in the pro column. The weather, definitively a plus, living on Highland Avenue, a lifesaver from the beginning, was another mark in the pro column. Paying rent, positively a minus, buying a home scary, and moving a thought that instantly raised red flags.

A Town House or Condo was always what I wanted as a single home would be way too much maintenance. What else did I need? A second bedroom for guests was a must; a terrace and an outdoor pool as well.

Friends had recently decided to retire and their apartment, a place I visited often was exactly what I longed for.

The rest is basically history. A contract was signed and on November 2nd I moved into Park Tower, only a block away from my rental apartment.

The move is a sore subject I prefer to forget about. Suffice to say that some furniture never made it to the new home. Reminder to self: for the next move pick reliable moving company, should there be such thing.

Getting settled came with all the ups and downs one expects and foresees. Yet the reality is that assembling cabinets quite never turns out as planned.

Slowly but surely everything, however fell into place. Furniture on backorder finally arrived, pictures went up on the walls, and last but not least the first flowers were purchased for the terrace.


Spring can’t come soon enough as I am eager to start my day on the terrace and end it at the pool.

In the end I think that home is a feeling, not a place, and there’s no place like home.

Spring Has Sprung in Birmingham

Spring in BirminghamGranted, we did not have a bad winter, but that doesn’t prevent Alabamians, and transplants like me, from welcoming spring. It is prime season for hiking, and Birmingham has great trails at Ruffner Mountain and Red Mountain Park.

It is also a great time to visit Birmingham’s Zoo and the Botanical Gardens.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.31.28 PMDid you know that the Botanical Gardens are Alabama’s largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants, 25 unique gardens, and over 30 works of original outdoor sculpture spread over 67.5 acres? My favorite is the Japanese Gardens, and I love sitting on a bench looking at the reflection of the bridge over the pond.

Another great spot to enjoy quiet time with a good book is the sculpture garden of the Museum of Fine Arts, and it is always great to celebrate the rebirth of nature in one of the many parks along Highland Avenue. If you like a little more action, be sure to be on Highland Avenue for the Do Dah Day parade. It is a riot only outdone by the October Dachshund parade.

Another Lovely Place to Celebrate Spring is Juniper Springs

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.27.19 PMI also got to spend a few days of absolute bliss at my favorite place: Juniper Springs, Florida. Located in the Ocala National Forest, it is one of the oldest recreation areas on the East Coast. It is a place that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of The Yearling, cherished. If you have not read her books, check them out. The Yearling won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939. My favorite, however, is Cross Creek, published in 1942.

March is also the month when I get to go to Walt Disney World to do research for the next edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. This year it will be a challenge, as many new attractions are announced but not open yet. But that is for another post.



Sweet Home Alabama

Wedding party at beachTwo month agos, I lost my job of over 20 years. At first there was the initial shock and the fact that I had to tell family and friends. Next I embarked on a four-night cruise to witness the wedding of cousin Sergio. It was wonderful, and being surrounded by loved ones was much needed and welcomed.

Back in New York, however, my type A personality (and what I call my single mother syndrome) kicked in, and all I could think about was finding a new job and securing my future. My son is grown and supports himself, but would I have enough resources to retire in 10 years from now? Would anybody want to hire me at age 56? So what came next felt like being on a roller coaster, except that it wouldn’t end after 60 seconds of thrills and anxiety but would keep running on a loop.Moving

Tempus Fugit and two months later, I can report that I found a new job, packed up my home, and moved to Birmingham, Alabama. I am waiting for the closing date for the sale of my home in New York, and I’ve rented an apartment that I hope to move into soon. I am living with friends and hoping my furniture makes it Down South soon. There is only so much I can control, after all.

I managed to produce five articles whenever my back needed a rest from packing boxes and, yes, I turned in–on time– the 2015 revisions for the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. I recommended Summer Fun at Walt Disney World and gave tips for visiting Disney Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends. For those who have a green thumb, I suggested the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot and I kept my book’s Facebook page up and running with daily tips.

NatureAt times I wonder if I could have done anything differently or simply if I did the right thing. I guess only time will tell. What I do know is that I am grateful to have found a new job, grateful for family and friends, and grateful for the kindness of the people Down South.

While I have not explored much of my new hometown, my friends took me on several beautiful outings. Hikes in Red Mountain Park and Oak Mountain State Park provided much-needed relief from anxiety and stress. There is nothing more restoring than the healing powers of Mother Nature. Onward, Sweet Home Alabama!