Sunday, March 29, 2020

Riding up the COVID Bell Curve as Best We Can

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The surreal situation, we are now living through a pandemic that has:

  • Put millions of people out of work because businesses have been closed;
  • Overwhelmed medical hospitals as they try to keep their staff healthy while testing and treating those sick with this highly contagious illness; (There is not enough protective equipment.)
  • Orders coming over our cell phones telling everyone 65 and older to stay home!  Shutter in place, don't go out unless it is essential; What is considered essential is grocery trips, pharmacy trips, and exercise in the fresh air.
Thank goodness we can go outside and exercise!

This amount of allowed (or recommended) activity is so much MORE freedom of movement than what Ann Frank experienced.  Ann Frank and her family were stuck inside in an attic hiding from the Nazis for 470 days.

And they had to do it quietly.  

For us today, there are no enforcement of the shelter-in-place recommendations, just civic duty.  Of course, we are all different and some don't have a civic-duty part of the brain.  There are a few that were probably dropped on their head when they were kids.

I have now been seeing signs like this around.  "Wash Your Hands" and "Cover Your Cough".

 The other day a few of us neighbors were spread out chatting around the mailboxes.  I was sitting on my trike at least 8 feet from anyone.  I sneezed into my elbow (I am glad that time I remembered the elbow and not the hand... that isn't always the case).   Everyone looked nervous as I apologized.  Then one of the others coughed a deep full cough.

Oh, ya, time to go.  I rolled away.  Don't know if a breeze can carry that virus further than six feet.  Ha ha.  All in good fun, but we have to be careful.
 
We get to exercise which is great for both our physical and emotional health.

We miss having the Withlacoochee Trail open.  But we are seeing people on the trail.  In fact yesterday there was a front page picture of a couple walking on the trail right past the "Trail Closed" sign.  There are stories by some bikers of being kicked off the trail by the park Ranger.  But others say they have been riding every day and not been told to get off the trail.

Many in our bike group have started driving down to Brooksville to ride the Good Neighbor Trail. It is a 10-mile paved county park and has remained open.  They closed up the bathrooms but, thank you very much, have provided a porta-potty with hand sanitizer in it.


My friends Margaret and Zip and I rode the Good Neighbor trail and then had our picnics with a wide gap between us... social distancing is an important part of stopping the spread of the virus.

We had a great time and saw several other Withlacoochee Riders on the trail including my next-door neighbors, Mari and Jerry.

Our neighborhood pool is still open.  We keep our distance but are able to cool off and chat.  I think that if someone in our neighborhood contracts the virus the board will decide to close down the pool and clubhouse.  But for now, we socialize but at a distance.

So even in the early parts of the pandemic, when tears sometimes hover close to the surface, I am feeling fortunate and enjoying life.

Pandemic Update

I found an VERY interesting and telling chart on the CDC website about the number of cases in the United States and it's territories.    If you go to this site and scroll down you will see a chart that starts with 1/12/2020 and zero cases.  Then 1/13/2020 and zero cases.  As you scroll two cases are found, then it stays at that for a long time and then a little more and a little more and then it starts to jump, big numbers, bigger jumps, every day.

That is exponential growth.

When numbers are going up the steep side of the bell curve we don't know when it will start leveling off.  We are on this side of history.

I have taken to writing the number of cases in the US and the number of deaths on my calendar.  Yesterday it was 103,321 cases and 1,668 deaths.  Today it was reported 122,653 cases and 2,112 deaths.


WeeRoll Progress

This morning while the dew was still on everything, I went down to the corral where my Weeroll is parked.

 My friends, Bill and Christine, gave me a battery they no longer used.  I don't know what I will use it for, I don't expect I will be camping without power the first year... at least not in my plans, but who knows, maybe I will use parking lots in my travels and will need a way to charge my phone.

Bill also gave me the case for the battery.  Do I need to store the battery in the case?


I had borrowed a cordless drill from my friend Regis.  I drilled a hole in the bottom of the attached tool box so I can run the DC wires from under the Weeroll up to the battery.

 I had bought a bunch of curtain rods and I was going to hang them while I had the drill.  But then... I just didn't want to put all those holes in the wall.  I mean, what if I change my mind?  I have been known to change my mind a few times. 

What if I decide to velcro on a curtain?  I can use command hooks with the strong tape, can't I?

I put the drill away.

Next I hung my magnetic door screen.

The top and sides stick to the wall with velcro.  The middle strip is held together with magnets for an easy in and out.

 The screen is way too long.  I am thinking I will glue a metal (stainless steel) strip to the aluminum threshold and hem some magnets in the bottom of the screen.


After that I cleaned up some plastic three-drawer cabinets that I got for free.

I grabbed the bag of veggie scraps I have been saving.  Since I was driving 8 miles down to Floral City to return the drill to Regis, I might as well just keep going to Townsen park near Istachatah.  From there I would walk maybe 1/2 a mile to where the goats are by the Withlacoochee Trail.


They like the collard green stems and banana peels, but don't like watermelon skin.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Surreal Living In the Beginning of COVID-19

It is March 26, 2020

Hello!

I hope you are well and finding ways to stay mentally healthy.  We are social creatures and isolation and distancing are both un-natural and uncomfortable.

I found a song on Youtube that was supposed to be funny, but made me sad. "All by myself, don't wanna be all by myself anymore..."

Those of us that are retired are feeling very fortunate to not be depending on a wage right now, with many businesses closed for a period of social distancing in an effort to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

I woke up this morning having another difficult night trying to sleep.  My shoulders hurt because they are used to heavy lifting at the gym, I think.  Or maybe they hurt from the lack of giving hugs and getting hugs.  This social distancing is physically difficult for those not living with family or pets.

When I descend the stairs to start the coffee, I can sense my tears are ready to erupt.  This is a feeling I am very familiar with, these un-shed tears were often present when I was experiencing the slow loss of George to dementia.

We are all experiencing loss of the life we knew just a month or two ago.  I was doing ok until they closed the Withlacoochee Trail.  Now, disconnected from so many of my friends, and my schedule of regular rides disrupted, the change this pandemic has placed on so many lives is finally touching me a little.  I am so fortunate, but I can still grieve over the changes we are all facing.

Promoting my Alzheimer's books seems silly now.  Though I know they could provide someone with entertainment and a caregiver with comfort and reassurance.

I spend a little time each day on twitter and there are several Alzhiemer's Caregivers and former Caregivers that provide support to each other.  Some are authors like me, some are pod-casters.  Jennifer Fink contacted me this week to arrange a short interview via Zoom.  She wanted to gather ideas and just empathy for all the caregivers and family members out there who are trying to keep their loved-one with dementia safe from COVID-19.  Some of them have their loved one in a facility and are locked out of that facility, unable to visit.

Jennifer's mother is in a home and has already forgotten Jennifer is her daughter, but she remembers she is the nice woman that comes to visit.  That bit of memory will most likely be gone by the time Jennifer gets to see her mom again.  And Jennifer really REALLY wants to just be able to go in and hold her mom's hand.  She worries that her mom will die before she gets to see her again... that she will essentially die alone.

ARG!!!  It is all so depressing!

So you know what I do?

1) I look for funny songs and videos on Youtube in the evenings.

Feel free to share a favorite in the Susan Straley Writes Facebook group.  If you are not a member, just join and answer the questions.  A lot of people like to watch movies and TV shows, but I just can't get into it.  Ever since I had skin cancer in 1989 and realized my time in this life really IS limited, I stopped watching much TV and now most movies don't attract me either.

2) I go for walks and ride the streets.  

When I am walking I might see a neighbor I like and walk with them trying to keep six feet between us.  Six feet is the recommended distance to keep so you don't spread the virus.  Any of us that are feeling well could have the virus and not know it.  Even if we feel fine we need to keep our distance.  The virus is very contagious.

3) I vowed to not go to the store for a full week.

I thought I wasn't a shopper, but man, the grocery store is constantly calling to me... "Come, come now!  Our shelves are almost bare.  You know you would much rather have nachos and ice cream for supper instead of that left-over soup."

I cheated yesterday and ordered some nuts and dried fruits from Nuts.com .  I was going to order dried beans but all of us have become survivalists in the last month or two and all the dried beans are out of stock.

4) I arrange small social gatherings.

This is the best thing that I have found to do.  I have the advantage of sitting outside with folks at a safe distance because we live in Florida which is warm and our area has few biting bugs most of the day.

I think Debra started it by inviting Carolyn and me over on Monday evening.

On Tuesday I sat with my neighbors, Mary and Jerry, Margaret and Zip.  My house-mate Carolyn came too.  We sat in a circle.  Earlier that day Margaret said, "I have so many words in me that just need to be let out!"

On Wednesday I met up with a new friend and neighbor at the pool and we chatted for a hour.  We were going to bounce around in the pool, but the pool heater isn't working.  It was uncomfortably cold at 72 degrees. 

We watched a lovely hawk sit on the fence a long while and then took off flying over our heads.



Also on Wednesday I went for a street ride with Debra and Glen.  We rode through areas of Citrus Hills and wow, I didn't know we had so many hills so close to home.  The trail is pretty flat.


I had to ride the trail a couple miles to get to the meeting place.  I have since heard that the Ranger is stopping people and telling them get off the trail or issuing a warning.

5) I listen to audio books.

I just finished listening to, Before We Were Yours.  I can tell you if you are looking for something relaxing to read, that isn't it.  It was gripping and at times suspenseful.   I hated how tense it made me, but I couldn't stop listening.

My friend Kim shared her audio book with me, Olive Kitterich.  She said it is a nice story.

6) I reach out by phone, Facetime, and text to others.

I am fortunate in that my sister is open to chatting with me almost every day.  We have never done this before, but I think we both need the contact and conversations.  One day we both were feeling down, so we made a pledge to do something to combat the feelings.  Mary was going for a walk in the woods.  I was going to meditate 20 minutes.

Speaking of my sister... she and her husband still deliver meals on wheels.  She uses her hand sanitizer after each home and before she enters her car.  I need to start volunteering somewhere during this... where?

7) I practice backing up my Weeroll.

Ok, I have only done this once or twice.  I also spent some time sitting inside it, thinking of what will go where.  I cut an old yoga mat to be the size of the mini fridge that I have.  It helps to figure out how things will fit.



What a Difference Three Weeks Makes


It is hard to believe that only two weeks ago I was listening to the news reports about COVID-19 (called the Corona Virus back then) and wondering if I should be worried.  I flew to Arizona on March 6th and packed wipes and was a bit on edge wondering if I should cancel my flight.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States was small, I had not been watching the news and didn't know anything about why this virus was unique.  I was thinking of the Swine Flu which hardly touched my life, and I remembered the talks about Ebola.  They both were slowed before they became a problem for my family and friends, my corner of the world.  I was ignorant of any of the science explaining why COVID-19 was different and a big worry.

It is only 20 days later now, and the CDC website reports the number of cases in the US is over 68,000.  The number of deaths almost 1,000.   It is still kinda small numbers in the big scheme of things until you realize that those numbers happened in just three weeks and are doubling every 2-3 days.

Here is a video giving you a view of exponential growth.

Here is another video.

I have heard people argue that we are making too big a deal out of this.  That it hasn't killed as many people as the regular flu each year.  They are probably not taking into account that this flu is brand new and in just a few months has spread to pretty-much every country and started to grow from there, over coming the ability of the medical system to care for the victims in many places (New York City and Italy especially).

Well no sense in worrying.  "It is what it is," George would say.

I found some bean seeds and planted them.  And I see I have a couple potatoes in my cupboard sprouting... I will try planting them.  Who knows how long this pandemic will go on.

Please share some of the things you found to help you stay connected in spite of social distancing.  Are you pitching in to help somewhere?  Tell me about it, I would like to hear!




Saturday, March 21, 2020

Covid-19 Changes

3/18/2020

COVID-19 Changes


It is Wednesday, a lovely warm sunny day in Florida.  I decide that even with the "Social Distancing" that we are trying to abide by, I can go to exercise and yoga at the club house.

Why?

1) there are only three of us spread out in that big room.
2) I decided to disinfect my hands before entering
3) I brought along a rag to touch any door handles or remote controls.
4) None of us are coughing



It was great to be back among my friends and neighbors.  We did the "Covid Hug" which is standing far away from each other and putting our arms up like cactus arms and moving them up and down.  I know, corny.  But it makes us smile and feel loved, and THAT is so important.
 **************

For those of you in the future reading this, in 2019 there was a flu that only resided in animals, but one day in 2019 it morphed and transferred into a human and then transferred human to human.  This flu, as I understand it, can sit on a hard surface ready to infect someone else for 48 hours.  It attacks the lungs mostly, and can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems.  The good news so far is that it isn't deadly or very damaging to the young with strong immune systems.  The bad news is that since it morphed into a virus that can transfer to humans it has morphed one more time creating two different strains.  This is a concern to the scientists that study viruses and if it keeps morphing it will be hard to develop vaccines.

The governments around the world had learned from past viruses that if they cancel events and really reduce human to human contact they can slow down the transfer of the virus.   This way the capacity to treat patients will not exceed the need and fewer people will die as a result of catching the illness.

So that is what is happening around the world right now.  When I heard they had canceled the National Basketball Association games, it hit me how serious this was.  The NBA and others make millions of dollars on games, yet they were canceled.  Since then they have closed schools, bars, and cancelled all gatherings of more than 10 people, including weddings, funerals and church services.

There are currently 3 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Citrus County where we live.

***************

After yoga, my housemate Carolyn and I left on our trikes this Wednesday morning to meet others on the trail to go for a ride.  We are feeling very fortunate to have the trail and our trikes.  We feel safe from transferring any germs when we are riding.  We are able to leave our homes and ride and even socialize as long as we don't touch each other and keep a safe 6 feet between us when we are standing still.

We met up with Debra and Glen, Frankie and Dennis and were going to the Withlacoochee Trail down past Floral City and do a little road riding around some small horse farms and then have a picnic at the park.  Spreading out at the picnic tables so we aren't too close.

On the way to Floral City, Covid-19 and the changes it has brought in all our lives is all we talk about it seems.  We debate whether the beaches are closed and agree that the bars have been closed to reduce or slow down the spread of this very contagious virus.

Dennis is a doubter,  He doesn't think this flu is a big threat.  He says that other flues have killed more people and that more people die in car accidents.  When I returned home I found a video on exponential growth and sent it to him.  (If the lily pads double each day and fill the pond on day 60, when is the pond only 1/2 full of lily pads?  Answer -- Day 59.)  Also this flu, from what I understand, became a concern when it transferred from being an animal flu to being transferred to humans and then human to human.  And really became a concern when it morphed again in just two weeks.  Sounds like a science fiction movie to me.

Worries

If you are worried about all the changes.  Start to journal your worries.  A study of 51 participants with anxiety found that a worry journal helped reduce anxiety over a regular journal.  So each day just take some time to write down all your worries.  Then in 10, 20, 30 days go back and take a look, see which worries came true.

I had started having a chest congestion weeks before we even heard of COVID-19 it seems.  Maybe even two months ago.  It doesn't make me cough, but it is a burning and congested feeling in the chest.  This morning it made me cough on our bike ride.

There is a joke being passed around that the reason there was a run on toilet paper in the stores, (The shelves are empty of paper products now), is because when someone coughs everyone around them shits their pants.

I decided to return home instead of completing the ride.

I didn't know if I should go in.  Do I just weather it out at home and not burden the medical system with another person?  I don't feel that bad.  But what if I am contagious and I am sharing a house with Carolyn and I am going to the grocery store?   And do they need me to get tested so they can track where the cases are? 

I called my doctor just to ask if it was worth getting tested since there is no treatment or cure.  They have on their recording a special line for talking with someone about COVID.



Emily answered and when I told her about the congestion she said I have two factors.
1) I have been traveling
2) I have congestion in the chest.
She made an appointment for me to get tested that very afternoon.

At 1:00 from the parking lot I was supposed to call in and get instructions.  I was not to enter the building.  I called and was instructed to follow the green footprints into a side door.



I was given a mask and taken to an exam room where they took my temperature which was 99 degrees.  They listened carefully to my chest and my story about how the congestion started probably a whole month ago but it seems to be getting worse.  They palpated my lymph glands around my neck, some were slightly swollen.

"Allergies,"  she tells me.  She said if the Musinex and two other medications she prescribed for nasal congestion (even though I protested) doesn't work they will Xray my lungs.  I don't feel I have nasal congestion, but she said that the drippage causes irritation in the bronchial tubes and that can cause a bacterial infection, so let's get this under control.

When I mentioned on Facebook that I had been to the doctor a woman I know going through Chemo asked me why I went, since there was no cure.  She has a lower immune system and is having to utilize the medical system. She is trying to convince people not to get tested and stay home.

***********

Commercial Star


On Tuesday the Withlacoochee Riders biked.  When we were gathered by the Caboose on the trail, a man with a big camera came to me.  He had called me about a month ago and asked if he could film us riding the trail.  He is from the Department of Parks and something... I think it used to be Recreation but I think they changed the name.  Anyway, he was creating commercials for the bike trails in Florida.  So he interviewed me with the bikers scattered behind me.  It was awkward with the huge camera in my face, my sun protecting hat and helmet on, trying to be clever and instead being super stupid.  Oh well, water under the bridge.

I didn't tell him I was an Author and that I wrote a book that included our life using the trail in The Journey Continues and bike trails elsewhere in Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.    I now wonder if I should have...

Friday, March 20, 2020

Botanical Delights and Strains of Solo Travel

3/15/2020

It is Thursday, and my brother, my sister-in-law and her granddaughter Tasha are at LOVES truck stop souvenir shopping.  Tasha has promised to bring souvenirs home to her kids. 

My nephew's wife texts me, "Where are you?"

I text her back and with 15 minutes they are there to wisk me off for some sight-seeing.  YEAH!!!

They take me to the Botanical Gardens.  I am excited because I have heard that the desert really blooms after a rain, and it sure has been raining!













They also took me to the hole in the rock which was next door. 


Thank you Tom and Sara, Jack and Mike for taking me along on your tourist adventures!

We then returned to my brother's home and prepare to all go together to dinner.  Some bars and restaurants were already closing due to the COVID-19 virus. We all were still in denial, I think.

Feeling the Fear



It is Friday, 3/13/2020.  I am still in Arizona.  I have moved on from staying at my brother's home to an Airbnb five miles away.  It was in my plan to be here.   The host of the house doesn't live here.  I came in late at night and I don't know if there is anyone else staying here, though I did see a car in the driveway last night.

The owners come in and clean with soap that contains too much perfume.  But it is clean and dry and the window works so I can let fresh air in. 

The evening before was stressful.  We have had too much together time, and my efforts to be helpful came across as intrusive.  Some words were said that hit where I know my personality is faulty.  Though I love being a strong woman, sometimes I plow ahead without consulting others and I step on people's toes. 

I think it got to me even more because I was trying so hard to not be a bother but an asset.  I didn't sleep well, and this morning I feel ... almost sick from the hang-over and stress.

Plus, right now, with the Covid-19 scare growing world-wide, any inkling of illness makes one more afraid than normal.  We all become a little more like a hypochondriac.  It is only natural to wonder.  And then trying to figure out how to fix my personality flaw or if I should even try at the ripe old age of 66 has me missing George so much.

I miss having someone at my side to love me anyway.  Someone to hold my hand, provide a warm hug.  Someone to talk to about the ache in my heart and the funky feeling and the fear.

I want to be home.  My good friend Debra calls me "The General".  She knows about and has experienced my personality quirk and accepts it as just a part of me.  I miss her.

I am sitting on the edge of my bed in the small den/bedroom that is my room for four nights.  I call my sister, feeling very alone and needing to hear her voice.  She doesn't answer, I leave a message.

A few minutes later she calls me back.  She was just going to call me, she said.  She went to the Rhinelander, WI library and there was my book on display,  Alzheimer's Trippin' with George!  She took pictures and sent them to me.


I told her I was thinking I should change my flight because I was afraid they would cancel flights because of the COVID.  I told her I had not planned my trip well.  I was trying to get around by trike but didn't plan any rides or destinations and it was threatening rain all the time.  I told her about the stressful last evening and I started to cry.

She said such wonderful kind words and encouraged me to change my flight and head home early.

Ok,  I am supposed to be a person that travels and enjoys different places.  I see myself as a strong independent woman.  But when I am traveling solo and hit a snag, I am not such a good traveler.  I just want to be home.

I change my flight.  Southwest allows the change without penalty, but inevitably, the new flight costs over $200 more.

Friend From the Past

 

I had planned on meeting a childhood friend for breakfast on Saturday.  Right after I changed my flight I notified her of my plan changes and she offered to drive me to the airport!   Whoo hoo!  Thank you, Jan!   

I then called my brother and he wanted to join us for breakfast on Saturday, before I left.

In the morning on Saturday I rode the trike the 18 miles back to Bob and Rose's to return it.  I arrived at 8:30 a.m. and I had time to chat with them a while before they headed out for a ride on their trikes.  Rose was packing for a ski trip.  I have yet to call to see if she actually went.

At 9:15 I met my brother at the entrance to their gated community.

Larry drove me to the restaurant where we were to meet Jan and her husband Doug.  I had chose a restaurant by a high-speed train stop thinking I was going to take the train to the airport.

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort, Larry.  I feel loved!  

My only regret is I didn't get a picture of Larry and me together.   

Before we parted ways he took a picture of Me, Doug, and Jan.


Why didn't we think at that point to get a picture of Larry and me?   "Regrets, I have a few..."

When I scooted into the back seat of Jan's car she had my book, Alzheimer's Trippin with George on the seat!  She had just gotten it and she asked me to sign it.

When I got on the plane to Tampa, Florida, I got out my germ-fighting wipes and wiped down the buckle, the table, the arms the window... anything I thought I would touch.   I didn't accept any snacks or beverages on the flight.  I was grateful that the seat next to me was empty.

When I got home I wanted to hug everyone.  I was SOOO glad to be home.  But, no hugging.  We are doing the "Social Distancing" now to greatly reduce the rate of transmission of Covid-19.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Corona Light - Going with the Flow in Arizona

Tuesday, March 10, 2019

Before I talk about my trip I want you to know Alzheimer's Trippin' with George e-book is on sale through April 1st at $2.99. 






It is Monday morning. I am pedaling the e-assist Scorpion recumbent tricycle that my friend Bob has loaned me.  I am riding toward my brother's home south of Phoenix.  Google bike map has directed me down a bike trail along one of the many canals in the area.



Every once in a while I am pushing the orange-painted plexiglass wind-shield away from me and studying how it is attached.  In time it creeps back toward me and my right foot starts going click click click as it hits the shield.  I know I could tighten it, do I remember where I put the tools?

I am wondering if I can remove the wind-shield along with the canvas sun canopy that protects the rider from the strong Arizona desert sun.   The canopy keeps bumping the back of my helmet and it takes extra energy to fight against the head-wind and to keep my zen-cool with the annoying scrape each time I turn my head.

I am glad to be on this bike path, though.   I am grateful for the loan of the great trike.  I am especially glad to not be driving in the traffic that I see on the streets that I cross.

I am pushing and panting even though the path is flat and smooth, the weather is just the right temperature, and I have an e-assist motor.

"Why is it so hard?" I wonder.  And I wonder if I just need an attitude adjustment or if the struggle is real.

I look at the e-assist monitor and discover that the power is already at 48.9.  I have only gone about six miles!  Later I realize that I must not have had it fully powered when I started the ride.

I stop and check the tires and realize the right front tire seems squishy.  Not bad enough that I need to change the tire, but it would be nice if I could pump more air into it.   Only, I realize after a call to Bob, that I don't have a pump for such tasks, all I have is a cartridge and a spare.  I don't want to use the cartridge to just add a little air to a low tire.   

While I am contemplating my options, a rider stops and asks if I need help.  Thank goodness for thoughtful bikers!  He pumps up the two front tires for me.  One of the tires is missing a stem cap.  When he finishes pumping, the stem starts leaking air and blowing bubbles.  I take the stem cap from the other tire and move it to the leaking stem.  Problems solved.

I get back on the bike and start to pedal.  The e-assist monitor still reads it is losing power.  I have only about 10 miles to go, but the weight of the trike is over 100 lbs with the battery, my 20 lbs of luggage, and all the extras on this sturdy trike.  I worry that I will have to really struggle to get the trike all the way to my brother's home.  I turn down the power to level one and I pedal hard.  At least I am getting some exercise.

When I get only two miles from my brother's I punch up the power and make it to his home with power still in the high 40's.

There is a prediction of rain in the forecast.  Yes, I have traveled to the desert where it rarely rains and the weatherman is predicting three days of rain this week.  The good news is that I have heard the desert is lovely after a rain.  Desert plants wait for the rain to bloom so the desert blossoms after a nice rain.  My brother makes room in his garage of the trike to protect it from the rain.  Thank you, Larry!

I plug it in and hope it powers up ok so I can make it to my lodging tonight.  I have arranged to stay at an Affordable Travel Club member's home.  The problem is it is 26 miles from Larry's home and I have booth the threat of rain and that hard ride I just experienced to worry me.  Bob had taken me for a drive the night before.  He took me over to the neighborhood where my host lives and I learned that the last few miles are all uphill.    I am worried about the ride later that day, if I buzz through the power I will be miserable and painfully slow climbing the last bit of the ride up a mountainside.   Two miles and hour takes an hour to go just 2 miles.

My brother's wife Peggy/Lenore is going to be celebrating her 80th birthday on Tuesday and has invited relatives to come for the party.  Their house will be full of blow-up mattresses and people on the couch. 

We are sitting out on the lovely back patio overlooking the golf course when I see very dark clouds approaching in the distance.

As we sit we sometimes check our phones and we learn that the NBA has canceled its games due to the COVID-19 virus.  This blows me away.  This must be serious for a big company to give up major money making opportunites.

Later, I express my concerns about riding in the rain with my friends battery and electronics exposed.  Larry offers for me to stay on the couch or on a cot  on the patio.  I like the idea of being outside on the patio.  But then it starts to sprinkle.   He has a tent-cot but it isn't like the one I have, it is hard to assemble.   So I move the cot into the garage.  Yes!  I have shelter, I am comfortable and protected, at least for one night!

I call the Affordable Travel Club (ATC) hosts to let them know I am going to show up a day late.  The hosts tell me they were going to cancel the reservation anyway because they are both over 65 and I was from Florida and the Covid-19 virus was in the community in Florida.  They were too afraid.  

What?  Me?  A pariah?

The fear of the Covid-19 (Flu) has reached me too.  I didn't blame the hosts.  

I had even thought of using this trike to ride all the way home instead of getting on a plane again.  Man!  Arizona is a LOONNG way from my home in Florida.  It would take me two months to get there by trike!

I had thought of changing my flight and getting home before the fear spread even more and Southwest Airline started canceling flights.  I had packed disinfectant wipes and used them to wipe down my table and arms and seat buckle on the plane on the flight here.   

Fear is the enemy.  People are buying up all the toilet paper in some areas because they are afraid of being isolated or running out. 

Anyway, I was glad to be staying with people I knew.  The cot is comfortable, and we left the door of the garage up a few inches so I had nice fresh air.

I remember when I was hunting for a place to stay, there wasn't much around here close by.  I guess I am staying here three nights.  I worry that my added presence will be an added strain on my brother and sister-in-law.  I vow to myself to be as helpful and self-sufficient as possible during my stay with them.

Then I will move on to an Airbnb.  It is only five miles away so I will still be able to come back and visit.

The Party and the Ride


On Tuesday Lenore's family begins to arrive.  Then Larry's sons and their spouses.  It was fun to meet new people and re-connect with my nephews and their partners.

The party was in a room at the club house.  Several of us went over early to set up.  The thing is, we never thought about decorating until someone mentioned it at the party, sorry Peggy!  The picture below is Peggy not looking at all like 80 and her granddaughter, Tasha.


It was a full room and it was fun taking pictures with my nephews and their spouses.


 I ate too much at the party and then we went home and I ate some more.  Larry bought pizza and I ate a bunch of that.

Mary, Lenore's daughter, wanted to take a spin on Larry's golf cart.  It turned out my trike was fully re-charged so I took a spin around the neighborhood with her.  It was an easy ride.  I rode in front of the golf cart zig zagging around and waving at neighbor's.  It was fun.

The WIFI went out at Larry's.  Probably because there were so many of us accessing it.  So I am writing this on my iPad in Notes.  I will copy and paste it when I get a chance and the WIFI is back up.

While I was writing this in the kitchen, Mary came into the room and we chatted.  She had major surgery in 2019 and had most of her colon removed.  She now lives with an colostomy bag.  I asked her about infections, since I have a friend with an exterior bladder bag and he has had a couple hospital stays due to infection.

She said no infections but the tape on the skin is tough on her skin.  OUCH!  Can you imagine!  Taking layers off you skin each time you pull it off.   She is learning tricks that help.  She told me due to the medical issues and time off work, she lost everything.   

Mary is a sweet  and kind woman who has been through hell.  I am feeling grateful for my gut, my skin, and my good fortune.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we want to visit a museum.  It is supposed to rain all day.  But then I remembered that Larry and Lenore's bridge group wanted me to speak at 1:00 about the books

The Alzheimer's Presentation

Wednesday, 3/11/2020

What a hoot!

A couple players from my brother's Bridge Club had asked him to have me speak to them while I was visiting.  So they set up Wednesday at 1:00.  They never got in touch with me so I had no clue how many participants or how long they wanted me to speak or even the focus of the talk other than it was "about the books."  Which Larry had shared with them.

I walked to the clubhouse at 12:30 and entered the room that Larry had told me they had reserved for the talk.  There was a group in there just setting up to do something with essential oils.  They had the room, their leader said.  I checked the schedule on the door and my "Author Talk" was on there for 1:00. But the Essential Oil Leader wouldn't look at the schedule and insisted they had the room.  

There was a divider in the room and I said we could close the divider and they could have half and we have half.  

"No," Ms. Essential Oils said.

She told me the next room wasn't being used.  It was scheduled for crafts.  

"No one ever comes for crafts," says the Essential Oils Lady.  "You can use that room."  

So we go in that room.  About six of our clan that is visiting for my sister-in-law's birthday and three Bridge Club members show up.

We giggled over the change and our ability to go with the flow.  Someone suggested that Ms. Essential Oils needed to hear the talk.

At 1:00 I started talking about George's dementia story.  I emphasized finding the person that remains in spite of the disease.  There is still life that goes on after the diagnosis.  At 1:05 in walks a woman with a walker and three others.  They are crafters and need the room.

After some shuffling, we used the room divider and moved into the smaller section.  Our small audience gathered around those felt card-game tables with pockets in them.  We got another laugh out of our ability to adapt.   Some had been paying attention enough and were able to remind me where I had stopped in my presentation.  Thank you!

No one in the audience was currently a caregiver, but they all were attentive and I hope they learned something - like don't force your person to do anything they refuse to do.

I told them that the short-term memory is gone.  So just say, "Ok, of course you don't have to."   A while later, try again.   Let them win, be respectful and empathetic.  Let them be comfortable.  It is scary for someone with dementia to not recognize things and people.   So much to tell, but I cut it short and answered questions.

Thank you, Bridge Club for the warm welcome and to Peggy's family for being supportive.

We didn't make it to the museum.  Instead we met my nephews at a restaurant.  There were 12 of us there... this is before the COVID-19 warnings were sinking in and being accepted.  The restaurant was packed.






Sunday, March 8, 2020

First E-assist Trike Ride by Mesa, Arizona

March 7, 2020

I love seeing Bob and Rose again.  They are such down-to-earth, open people.  And so much fun to be around.

When Bob picked me up at the airport he told me he would be in a white van.  I watched as white van after white van went by door 6 where I stood on the curb waiting.  I studied each driver looking for Bob's signature wild hair.   As soon as I saw him I smiled big, he did not disappoint me.

Later when Rose was mentioning he refused to cut his hair, Bob mentioned it was his protection from the Arizona sun...  Like his own built in sun umbrella.  I love it!


Rose and Bob's white van has built in bunk beds for when they are traveling.  What a great way for me to get used to sleeping in my Weeroll!  I slept soundly in their van in front of their home and they even provided a bucket for me to pee into.  Of course I could have entered the house and used the toilet, but what is the fun in that???

An advantage of this desert climate was I was able to keep the windows down for air and no bugs came in to bother me.

I was up before Bob and Rose so I used the swim suit that Rose loaned me and walked a block to the clubhouse to use the hottub.  There was only one other person in the hottub.  He came over and sat on my side of the tub as he talked.

He was newly retired after 45 years of being a minister.  He and his wife were now snowbirds.  Besides being a preacher in a church in Sturges, SD, the past few years he was also owner of a coffee shop there.  I don't remember the full name but it had the word REV in it.  Rev for motorcycles (Sturges is a big gathering spot in South Dakota for motorcyclists every year) Rev for caffeine and Rev for Reverend.  Pretty cool.  He said the coffee shop was on ABC a few years back because they had 5,000 people paying it forward... Anyway he kept track and ended the paying it forward when it got to 10,000 because it was work to maintain it and track it.  The staff had to always say, Your coffee was paid for by the person in front of you, would you like to pass it forward to the person after you?



After the hottub, I walked to the corner gas station for coffee and passed a different kind of Cathorlic church.



Bob set me up with an e-assist trike they have complete with sun shade for protection from the Arizona sun.  It got up to 83 degrees.



We rode about 9 miles to meet up with their bicycle riding friends.  The group calls themselves the Lizards and many had little lizard decorations on their bikes.



Many of the riders were snowbirds, a few, like me were just visiting.  On rider told me to be sure to ride in the desert after a rain.  The flowers are blooming then and the smells are wonderful.

It was a lovely ride, we arrived home just after sunset.  I showered in the clubhouse and went to bed fully spent.  This night was the switch to daylight savings time, but NOT in Arizona.  Interesting.

Trippin' Again - Flying to Pheonix, Weeroll Design

March 6, 2020

Hello Friends, Family, and Followers,

I am sitting at the Tampa airport.  I have a couple hours before we fly and thought I would dash off a note to you.  Life is more fun when shared, after all.


I have a keyboard that connects to my iPad by Bluetooth.  I packed it and brought it along in case I felt like writing to you.  But guess what!  I packed the keyboard in the pannier that I checked as luggage.   So my fingers may fumble a little more than usual as I peck this out with my thumbs on the touch screen.

It is Friday and I am flying to Phoenix, AZ.  I first made plans to do this when my sister-in-law announced in September or October that she was going to have a celebration for her 80th birthday.  I have not been to Phoenix and don't remember much about AZ.  I am sure I must have been to AZ at one time, maybe as a tween when we visited the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.

Initially when I booked the flight I was going to ship or check as baggage my own recumbent trike.  But then I connected with friends that used to ride the Withlacoochee with us and it turns out they, Bob and Rose, have an extra trike they can loan me for my whole trip!   So much easier.  So if I can figure out how to post my pictures, I will be posting pics of the trike and what I see along the way.



The Weeroll


I took measurements of my new camper, Weeroll.  Debra and Frankie and I went on an outing to IKEA to get ideas and stuff.  I had never been to one and I had been told it was an experience.  The nearest one was in Tampa.  I didn't get anything big like furniture.  I did get some battery operated lights.  And we had a great lunch.  IKEA has a buffet and my big breakfast was less than $5.00.

My friend Mari told me when she couldn't sleep she was planning ways I could furnish and decorate my camper, complete with storage baskets under the bench style bed.

That gave me the idea to share my measurements with you.  When I return from this trip later in March, I will start purchasing and working on getting the trailer furnished.  I like getting ideas, so feel free to design away.  The key is I have a mini fridge to put in the camper.  I don't have the dimensions with me,  but it is at least 2 1/2 feet deep, and at least 22 inches wide...  I plan to put the microwave on top of it.








One day I got a call from a neighbor, my Weeroll was parked in the wrong spot.  He met me over at the corral and I was able to back up my van to hook up pretty easy.  Then I drove to an empty parking lot to practice some more.  I got a new slot to park in and I was thrilled because it was a straight back-in.  Not a 90 degree turn which I have not come close to doing well yet.


I am very proud to have backed the Weeroll into its slot and unhook all by myself.  Lesson learned, be sure to disengage the ball lock before lowering the front wheel.

Alignment

 For those of you who have hooked up trailers to pull, you know that there are two satisfying sounds.   The first is when the cup receiver o...