Thursday, June 24, 2021

Are You A Volunteer Critic?

It is nice to be in one place.  No days spent packing up and driving to the next place.  
 

Physical Training

 
I have mapped out a nice nine-mile route that I ride my bike on several mornings a week.  Eventually I will add weight and practice the hilly route loaded.  
 
I am training my body for the 300 plus mile tour I will be doing in September with friend Joan.  We will be riding the Allegheny Gap Trail and the C&O trail.  The C&O Trail has some very rough surfaces, so I am training on my two-wheel bicycle.  Since I arrived in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, I have not even removed my recumbent tricycle from the van!

I set some physical goals for myself and went to meet with a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness.  Sydney is a slim young woman with a physical training degree and a cheerleader inside her.  

I told her I wanted to be able to jump up onto something.  I told her that I was afraid to even jump onto a rug for fear of catching my toe.  Well, I guess that was negative self-talk because the first day of training she had me jumping onto a step and by day three I had raised it up.  (Beating my chest here.)

Instead of one trainer one trainee, the training is done in groups.  Even though the exercises she gives me are personalized to my goals and abilities, she shows me what to do watches to see if I got it right, then goes onto the next person in the group.  
 
I like it and already I can feel I am making a little progress.
 
Goals are to:
  • Strengthen core and shoulders so that putting my two-wheel bike into the van isn't such a struggle and going to cause me injury;
  • Be able to do two perfect unassisted pull-ups;
  • Do ten wide and ten narrow mens-style push-ups;
  • Do down-dog to up-dog back to down dog with chin sweeping the floor ten times;
  • Be a faster, stronger rider in prep for the September tour in Pennsylvania;
  • And be able to jump onto something a foot or higher.


Improving on Book One

Yesterday I called my friend Jean in Mississippi.  She is slowly making her way through my first book, Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  I laughed because I really know the book is too too long.  Even with pictures, 600 pages is too dang long!

Then I asked Jean if she would help me by making notes of where I could cut stuff out.  She was happy to.  She said she would mark the pictures too.  A ten, she said, would mean definately keep, and a one means it isn't needed.   Yay!  Some help with purging!

That is why on this third book I am glad to have a few volunteers to look through the first draft and advise me on what to add, what to take away, and where I could improve.  

Sometimes critics can stop us in our paths, but I already published the first two books.  My friend Margaret was a big help with the first book, helping me round out the beginning and the ends and catch a lot of grammatical errors.  

But it is time to go back and create a second edition, clearing out the fluff and focusing the storyline.

If you would like to help by volunteering to mark up your copy of the first book or making some notes and emailing them to me, I would love it, really I would!

Since the first book is the first book in the Trippin' series, it has to be good enough to tempt people to want to read the second and the third, right?  

I have so much to learn and do.  The days fly by! 

Progress on Book Three

I mailed out the first draft of Book Three to the three friends that volunteered to help me by reading through and catching flaws and making suggestions.  I am excited to see what they come up with!  Catch the errors!  Praise is good for my ego and suggestions for improvements will help me think through how to change it for the better.

My sister gave me an impassioned mini-speech about how I need to follow my heart and say what I need to say because that is what some people out there reading my books need to know.  Call it divine guidance or universal kismet.  I am driven for a reason, she said.  Don't let others tamp down what I need to write.  I love my sister!  She lifts me up.

Sister Time

This spring my sister's dog passed.  Spirit was a lovely quiet small dog. After Mary and Dave experienced the heart-breaking void for a while, Mary went in search of another small dog.

Arky is a wonderful little dog.  My sister is facing some challenges with needing to house train Arky.  (They are making good progress on that front.) Arky has a passion for chasing squirrels and chipmunks causing her to sometimes flip when she reaches the end of her leash. This instinctual drive to chase small things makes it impossible to have Arky off-leash unless she is in a fenced in area.

I have enjoyed my time taking Dave, my brother-in-law living with dementia, and Arky to the dog park.  Arky is pretty good at fetch, and chases what we throw with such speed and persistence she is an inspiration.

One day Mary and I took the kayaks up the Pelican River and floated back down.  Mary wanted to try taking Arky.  I had seen how Liz's dog, Diego, rode so well in the kayak.  Arky too, is going to turn out to be a great kayak dog.  We need to put a platform or rug on the front of the kayak for Arky to sit or lay on.  


Meeting Up with Others

I was riding my bicycle through the campground where I had stayed last year, Lake George.  There I saw the seasonal campers I met last year.  They were out having their morning coffee and cigarettes.  I stopped to chat and this year I got to hug them.  I invited them over to my place for a happy hour on a Saturday night.  

They are still young enough to have to work, so they are only around during the weekends.  

Lisa told me that over the winter a mammogram showed she had cancer!  She went through a mastectomy.  I later texted her a picture of a woman with lovely tattoos over her mastectomy scars.  I told her about a picture in my doctors office that made a deep impression on me.  A shirt-less woman with one breast removed is looking up at the sky with arms lifted high in a joyful prayer of gratitude. 

Last year Tom insisted on building me some stairs for my trailer.  They were wonderful and sturdy and I am sure kept me from injury. This year my camper isn't sitting as high, so the old stairs he built for me and I left with him to store, won't work.  Tom insisted on building me a new step.  One day I came home from my wanderings and there it was, a new, wider safer step.  Thank you, Tom!

Last year I rode bicycle on the Three Eagles Trail with the Northern Paddle and Trail group (NPT).  This year I joined them again.  They only ride about 16 miles.  So I arrived early and stayed late and biked 32 miles on that lovely trail.  

We went of ice cream in Three Lakes.  They had these suckers with real crickets in them!




I loved chatting and riding with new bike buddies, Mary and Susan.


 It was fun riding with them.  I have sent in some dates and times to NPT for other rides on the Bear Skin and the Manitowish Trails.  I have also signed up for a hike with a Northern Adventures Meetup Group.

A few days after our ride, Susan texted me and invited me to come to her beautiful home in the woods on a lake.  Susan makes stained glass art and I had expressed an interest in seeing her work.  I took Arky with me (I was doggy sitting that day).  I got to see her lovely work and she showed me how she works with copper instead of lead.  Pretty stuff!  And a lot more talent for selecting colors and transparencies that I would have.

We went for a walk on a narrow path in the woods.  Susan has a labor-doodle and Arky and he were playing and jumping.  Not streets around, and we were on a peninsula, so there was water on three sides.  I took the leash off Arky and let her run.  She was so funny, leaping high over ferns.  It was funny and cute until she disappeared over a knoll and didn't come back when called.  

Oh no!  Losing the dog?  It was a scary few minutes until she came trotting back toward us on the trail.  Lesson learned.  A bit more training in the come-when-called department is needed.  

 

Early Morning Messages

Yesterday my sister was able to spend a day with her visiting friend because I was here to have supper with her husband and make sure the dog was walked and fed.

Dave and I went to the dog park.  There Arky met up with Jake, a dog just a bit taller than she is, with longer legs.  They zipped and zipped around the park.  It was amazing the speed and energy they have!

I then drove us to Dave's favorite food place, Culver's.  He loves their fish dinners and always, always gets a chocolate malt.  I am always tempted to get a shake or malt too, but then I would defeat all my efforts of the day to not gain weight.  One sure way to gain weight is to get into the habit of sipping on shakes or malts.

We took our take-out meal to Hodag Park and dined while Arky wound his leash around the legs of the table.  I kept sneaking glances at Dave's chocolate malt, tempted to ask for a sip.  Then I told myself that Dave would be nice enough to allow me a sip, but then would probably never dine with me again.  Ha ha.

Our meal was interspersed with Dave expressing his gratitude for the free healthcare he gets from the VA.  "Though I worked my but off for four years, it's nice to get some pay-back," he says.  And then, "I don't know where Mary went."

Mary had gone for a pontoon boat ride with her friends.  

Later as we sat by the lake and watched a few pontoons float by way out, I wondered if one of them might be Mary and her friends.  Later I learned, one of them was and they were dancing!

Earlier in the week Mary had asked me if I had noticed a difference in Dave from last year.  I remember asking the same question of others who came to visit after not seeing George in a long time.  We need reassurance that the decline we see is not just our imagination or us just getting tired.  Care-giving while losing someone is very tiring.  

Yes, I had seen the progress of cognitive decline in Dave since last year, I told her.  As I write this I remember that Dave is a very private person.   I hope he won't mind about me writing this. 

Later, Mary and Dave and her friends visited my campsite.  It was good to see them, though the visit wasn't long enough, Dave decided it was time to go.  Keep 'em happy! When they need to go, and you can go, then go!

This morning shortly after my alarm went off, my cell phone alerted me that I had a text message.  It was my sister expressing her gratitude for our friendship.  Awww.  I am where I am supposed to be.  Content in my Weeroll.




Friday, June 18, 2021

Seeking Balance

On June 12th I moved into the campsite in Rhinelander where I will spend a whole month.  I am ready to stop, to rest, to get into a healthy routine again.  

Last I wrote to you I mentioned toward the end that I had decided to sell my townhouse in Florida.  More data, information, and offers have come in and now I am confused again.  I will write about that toward the end of this letter.  If you don't care what I have been doing between my last writing and this one, skip down to the bottom subtitled "Decided/Undecided" ha ha.

Too Much of a Good Thing

I love people. I need a little social most days.  Since I last wrote to you I had lots of reunions and fun with fantastic people.  People with big characters and something to teach me.  People who make me feel valued, people who inspire me. 

It has been fun, delightful, interesting, and ... I am sad to say ... too much.  I didn't space out all my meet-ups and so day after day in a short span of time I was enjoying people and then going back to my campsite exhausted.   Next time I will spread it out more.

***

Thursday, June 3, 2021

I arrived at Ottawa Lake State Park near Eagle, Wisconsin in the early afternoon.  When I opened the back door I discovered ants had taken up residence in the back door jam, complete with eggs.  I sprayed the area with a bleach-based cleaner.  That worked very quickly.  Deadly stuff!



I had invited Laurie, my son's mother-in-law to come visit my site.  I was thrilled that she accepted my invitation.  We had a wonderful chat.

I was so pleased that my son married into such a nice close-knit family.  We had a great visit.  Laurie said, "I am so glad your son and my daughter found each other.  They are good together."   

I agreed whole heartedly.  She told me she thought my son was so patient and so kind.  "He is wonderful," she told me.  Wow, makes a Mom proud!

We took a picture and I texted it to our shared Granddaughter and asked if her ears were burning.  Ha ha.

Ottawa campsites have electric only.  Some sites (the ones closer to the lake) don't even have electric.

Across the road and surrounding the park is the Kettle Moraine Forest with lots of hiking trails and some dirt-bike trails too.

I only had the time and energy to do one of the trails.  At one point they had a selfie sign.  It is a shelf that holds your cell phone so you can take a selfie with a nice vista in the background.

June is a big month.  My daughter-in-law's birthday and my granddaughter's birthday are in June.  Father's Day is in June.  And June 19th is Juneteenth day when the slaves of Texas were finally told they were free two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  It was declared a National holiday by Congress.  Finally something they agreed on!

Also, June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. 

Back to talking about my whirlwind of reunions...

We lived inWaukesha, Wisconsin, for over 25 years, there were lots of people I wanted to see.  I didn't allow enough time to see them all.

Friday, I went to John and Sandy's for breakfast.  It was lovely as always.  Post COVID we were able to move our meal inside when it started to sprinkle.  Yay!  A year ago, we would have had to sit in the rain or pack my meal up and send me away.  

We were able to take a long walk, some of it on the Bug Line Trail.

I headed over to the Post Office to see if I had anything in General Delivery.  Nothing!

In the afternoon a friend I had met when I worked at a non-profit in Milwaukee in the early 90's came to visit my campsite. Jeri Jackson came for dinner.  I am learning it seems like a lot more work to prepare a meal in my campsite.  It wears me out to prepare something special to serve others.   This is new to me, I have hosted so many gatherings at home with many people.  Now, (is it because I don't have my co-host, George?) the work seems to take more out of me.

Jeri and I sat close together in the small amount of shade on my campsite.  It was hot!  But we had a great visit anyway, catching up on family and life stories.  I got to show her my little camper. 


Saturday was my daughter-in-law's birthday celebration.  What a delight to be invited to spend more time with them and Mel's family.  Mel invited me to arrive early and help decorate and set up.  I loved that! I get so little chance to spend time with them, it was fun working as a team to get ready for the event.

Every time I visited them on this trip I was just so amazed at how much healthier they both appeared.  

This is a picture of Jeremy before he started his weight-loss journey.

155 lbs lost, the first 60 he lost on his own before life-saving stomach reduction surgery.

 

 

Mel and Jeremy have a young nephew who brought his new pitching machine.  I even got to try my hand at swinging the big red bat at the plastic balls thrown by the automatic pitcher.  Hey!  I made a home run!

Sunday I went to visit Jo Maupin.  She became a widow shortly before me and we have enjoyed sharing our stories and transition from couple to living as one.  

It was a fun to see how she has simplified her home.  She said she only has one decoration per wall and one per flat surface.  "Easier to dust," she told me.  She also painted all her walls white, and it really was a lovely feel, less stuff, less distraction, more peace.

As I was leaving she pointed out that the ash borer got into the trees on their street and all the trees lining the curb had to be cut down.  A neighbor with a 3D printer got creative and has decorated the stumps with little plastic creations.  Smiles!

I had a bit of time before my next stop, so I strolled through downtownWaukesha.  The triangle-shaped ice cream store is now a little burger joint owned by Guitar for Life.  The guitar shop was a little store next door to the ice cream shop that I didn't think would survive.  Now it has expanded into a few more spaces and diversified what it offers.  

It is fun to go back to a place I moved from and identify and notice the changes.  I missed sharing the moment with George.  In fact, I did talk to him a couple times on my stroll through town.




My next visit was with Elizabeth.  If you have been reading these letters for a while, then you know that Elizabeth and I go back over 20 years.  She was new to this country and didn't speak English.  I was a volunteer for Waukesha Literacy.  I was very fortunate to be paired up with her.  She was a persistent and dedicated student.  I was a fumbling inexperienced tutor.  I am very proud of her and all she has accomplished.  I am very proud to be her friend.

Elizabeth was having a garage sale when I arrived, so we sat out in the yard.  What fun that was because her daughter and son-in-law were there and her new granddaughter, Luna.


Her daughter Ile wasn't much older than Luna when I first met her, now she is a mom herself!



While I was at Elizabeth's I got a message from my friends Mark and Jane.  I didn't expect to see them when I was in town because their youngest daughter was getting married that weekend.  I knew they would be busy with family and activities.  

They phoned to let me know they were done with wedding activities and wanted to see me.   So off I went to visit them!

We sat in their back yard and I got to attend the small wedding through their descriptions.  Soon there will be pictures to see! As I was leaving, Mark offered me one of his geraniums he had propagated. 


Whew!  Next time I visit the Waukesha area I really need to stay longer.  As I was driving through town I saw new bike trails and I was disappointed I wouldn't have time to explore.

That was a whirlwind of visiting!  I wasn't done yet.  Back at Ottawa Lake Campground I prepared to leave my campsite for an early departure the next morning.  

Then I took a small walk for a last look at Ottawa Lake.


Monday morning early I was on the move again.  

 

First I headed to the Bug Line Trail.  It was not far off my route and I don't remember riding it since they paved it several years ago.  I rode my trike on the Bug Line for about six miles.  I came across an Any Time Fitness in Sussex and worked out a while there before I biked back toward my car. 

Fountain Lake Campground was my next destination, it is near Plover, Amherst, and not far from Stevens Point.  I was going to camp in Liz Thundercloud's driveway.  There were camp spots within the park for people like me, but Liz insisted it was better to have me close by.

Liz lives her Winters usually in Florida and summers in central Wisconsin.  She and her husband park their motor home on a lot they own in the RV park.  It is a nice location and a nice idea, to own the land you park on.

Liz had plans.  She wanted to take me on the trail she rides and show me some of the lakes she kayaks on.   The first day we biked 20 miles and then kayaked.  It was a full day and it was hot, but so enjoyable!

Liz's dog Diego runs next her her bike and then when he tires out he keeps looking up at her and she stops and says, "Up," and he jumps onto her thigh and then climbs into his basket behind her.   

When he is ready to get down and run again, he claws on her shoulder.  Sometimes not so gently.  Once I was riding in front of her and she yelled, "AAAA, you little shit!  It is a good thing I love you!"

I got a laugh out of that.



We rode the Tomorrow River Trail to an IHOP where we had breakfast outside on the patio.


While kayaking we pulled into a swimming area and dunked ourselves.  I admire Liz for her ability to connect with just about anyone.  There were some young women in the water and she bantered back and forth with them.  We were all laughing.  One well-endowed young woman was wearing a suit that must have had a lower neckline than her previous one because she had a bright red sunburn stripe across her breasts.  "You better cover up those poor girls," Liz told her.  "They are going to be hurting."

The girls started singing a song from the play Oklahoma and Liz and I joined in.  A spark of delightful connection and joy.

Diego is also a good kayak dog.  Liz lays a rag rug on the top of her kayak and Diego sits or lays there.  If the sun or the bugs get bad, he sits in the cockpit with his feet up on the rug and a towel over his head and back.



The next day we kayaked on a chain of lakes for about three hours and then ate at a Mexican restaurant.  Liz had to drive the car after that.  I was toasted after one Margarita.


There was more to share with me, Liz said. 

Liz wanted to show me all the wonderful lakes and more of the trail in her area of Wisconsin.  But on the last day and I bowed out of the fun day she had planned of biking to the cute little town of Amherst and beyond on the Tomorrow River Trail.  I have not done that part of the trail, but I was tired.  Daily tasks had been neglected for too many days in a row. I had things I wanted to attend to.

She told me she was disappointed but was OK with that.  She had put aside many of her tasks to take me to see the lakes and trails she loves in the past two days.  She was falling behind in her tasks too.  

I was so happy to have half a day just to be inside Lilac with her air conditioner roaring.  I worked all morning getting book three ready for the Beta Readers.  I was thrilled to get it done and on a thumb drive to take to the printer.  Something accomplished!  

What do you think of this title for this book about the period of time after George passed?...  

Trippin' We to Me   

or is this better...

Trippin' From We to Me

And some time out of the heat and by myself.  Balance is good, and this was very good.

In the afternoon we drove to a park and rode the short trail there.

A woman took our picture for a local paper. She says she takes pictures of people having fun.


Then, each of us in our own cars, were driving to a brewery where we met up with her husband Steve and two friends.   

"What's the name of the bar," I asked her so I could put it in my GPS.  

"Hinder," Liz said slapping her ass.

The bar was fun.  And right there in front of us was the newspaper in which a future issue will have our picture on our bikes!

 

 I had two beers and they were more potent than I was used to.  I had to walk around a few blocks and then sit for a while sobering up enough to drive. 

I would have walked further, but I was in pain.  Earlier in my visit with Liz I had taken my bike and my trike to the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point for maintenance.  It used to be mostly a recumbent bike shop.  Now, under new ownership, the front of the store is full of electric assist two-wheel bicycles and dirt bicycles.  The back is full of recumbent tricycles.  I didn't see any two-wheel recumbent bikes.

But, I digress.  The reason I was in pain was while emptying the car to removed the bike, I dropped a 12 lb. steel camp chair on my left foot.  Ouch!  I thought I broke it.  I have been diagnosed with Osteoporosis (ie: weak old bones).  I have never broken a bone and I was really worried this would put a damper on lots of my travel plans.   The pain and shock put me on my hands and knees for a while on the hot pavement. 

Back at Liz's I iced it and that night I googled "walk in clinics near me".  If the pain got worse during the night, I had a plan.  

I was almost happy enough to do a happy dance in the morning.  Much of the pain had subsided, I knew it wasn't broken.  I could kayak and bike and even walk short distances.  I am very grateful.

I was getting anxious to get to see my sister and she was less than 100 miles away.  So I cut my visit with Liz a day short.   I will have to stop there again some year in the future, and do the other half of the Tomorrow River Trail.

Thursday, June 11th I drove to Rhinelander and set up camp just before the rain hit the area with threats of hail and wind.




This is my campsite until July 18!  I am here now and ready to settle into a routine.  

Last year we had to wear masks and worry about out close proximity due to COVID, but this year we hugged without masks.  Mary and Dave are fully vaccinated. 

Decided/Undecided

As I mentioned at the end of the last letter I had made the decision to sell my 1900 sq ft townhouse in Florida.

I got a message of encouragement from Cindy to go full time.

I sent a deposit for a space at Oasis Mobile Home and RV Park.  Just in case.  It is across Hwy 41 from the trail and about 3 miles from downtown Inverness.

I learned from Liz Thundercloud that in order to go full time you need something on your drivers license to get auto insurance.  My Weeroll would not qualify because it is considered a utility trailer, not an RV.  When I mentioned that to Cindy, she said I could make their house my home residence.  Wow!  

After I got an estimate from a realtor, I am not so sure.  She estimated $175,000 sale price and after costs I would get $162,000 or so.  The smaller villas in the neighborhood are selling for $165,000.

The selling price was not what I had anticipated in a market where people are clambering to buy and bidding more than the asking price.  I had envisioned more and in another part of the country it might get more.  I could be contacting another realtor to get a second opinion.

My place hasn't been updated much since it was built in the 1990's. 

Later I was contacted by a friend in Florida that was interested in staying in my house while I was gone and either doing work on the place or paying rent.   Hmmmm.  If I could get her to rent year round, it would cover my insurance and taxes...

I heard of a friend that might be selling her trailer that was close to the trail and downtown Inverness.  I was thrilled and gave her a call.  The price is right.  A chance to downsize, the trailer will need some work.

I love my neighborhood friends and our yoga and exercise classes.  I love it that my neighbor Jean can just pop over on her trike and surprise me with a spontaneous visit.  I love that I can be out for a walk in the neighborhood and end up meeting someone walking their dog and walk and talk with them. I love that my friends Mari and Jerry live right next door and we can do spontaneous happy hours.

Debra and the realtor both told me my front garden is beautiful with color.  Mari my nextdoor neighbor sent me a picture of my Angel Trumpet in bloom.

No rush, no rush,  I have time to think, assess, negotiate.  This saga of information gathering will continue.


In the meantime I will enjoy my time in Northern Wisconsin, by my sister.  

Loon Encounter

Yesterday I went to yoga and met up with a woman I had biked with last summer.  Cool, maybe we will ride again this year.

Then I enjoyed some deck time with Mary and Dave watching the birds at the feeders and admiring the view.

Back at camp I grabbed my snorkel equipment and went to the campground beach.  I was the only one there.  There were no boats on the lake either.  I started swimming out. 

The water is murky which made it a bit scary.  My brain told me there were no sharks or gators in these waters, but my emotional side was wary.   

After a bit I noticed I kept hearing a loon calling out.  I popped my head up and the loon wasn't far away.  I swam toward it keeping my arms and legs underwater.  It continued to call, looking at me out of one eye and then the other.  I got within 18 feet of it, maybe much closer.  

I watched its lower beak chatter as it called out, I could have counted the spots on its side.   We stayed like that a while, the loud call echoing on the hills behind me.   

I then realized this might be considered "harassing the wildlife".  I swam away and the loon dived.  

The air was quiet again.

Frostburg to Paw Paw and first primitive camping

 It is Monday morning and since I can’t sleep I am writing to you again to try to catch up to where we are at in the trip right now (at a co...