Showing posts with label Positive Thinking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Positive Thinking. Show all posts

Monday, December 26, 2022

Cold Camping In Florida

 It is Christmas morning and I am camping on St. George Island off the coast of the panhandle of Florida.

I am snuggled under a folded over quilt and a folded over down comforter.  The little space heater I use in Lilac has been working hard all night.  It is still cool in the camper outside my bed so when my alarm goes off.  I lay there and wonder why I should get up.  I mean, really, it is too cold to go out and walk or ride.  It is Christmas afterall.

But then I remember how wonderful the starry night was on Christmas Eve. How beautiful the sunrise was the previous morning.  

I remembered that it would be fun to send Steve a sunrise picture or two.   I pull the covers off.  I am already half dressed in two long-sleeve shirts and a light sweatshirt and long underwear.  

I turn on the coffee maker and finish putting on many more layers.  Ending with a wind breaker because these days the wind blows the cold right through to your skin.

Sleep - A Senior's Dilemma

I have the alarm set for six a.m. each morning.  It is part of my sleep-hygene program.  

When George got the dementia diagnosis I began to go to workshops to get support and learn more.  One place I went I met a man who was conducting research on caregiver longevity.  His theory was that if he could help caregivers sleep better maybe they would survive.  The statistics he explained were that caregivers often die before their loved one passes.  He was studying caregiver sleep and hoping to improve their ability to get good sleep.  He was conducting the research program through a University in Florida.

I volunteered.  

After many tests that monitored my sleep and tested me for sleep apnea, they issued a report.  I was averaging over seven hours of sleep!  I was surprised at that.  It felt like so many nights I was laying there not passing into unconciousness.

They then started teaching me about sleep hygene.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  Even if you go to bed late for some reason or have trouble sleeping one night, get up at the same time.  So I set my phone's alarm.  A pleasant little tune that slowly gets louder and repeats until I tell it to stop.

Other sleep hygene instructions were:

  • If you lay awake for 20 minutes.  Get up and do something like read until you feel tired again.  Then try again. Repeat all night long if you have to.
  • Don't look at a phone or computer screen or TV screen for at least an hour before bedtime and don't look at it if you get back up.   (This is the hardest habit to give up for me.)
  • Keep the room a bit cool.
  • Create and follow a bedtime routine; like brush your teeth, lock the doors, do a few stretches. 

My friend Regis said if he had one wish he would wish to be able to sleep every night soundly through the night.  Those of us over 60 often talk about sleep problems.  So I hope the information I shared above might help at least one of you get a good nights sleep. 

I have another pointer if none of that works.  A bit of blackberry brandy.  But use it only when you are despirate... it can be very addictive if you do it too often.

Back to Christmas Morning

I bought some rechargable handwarmers a while back and they have come in handy for warming up the bed a bit before I get in, and for taking with me on mornings like this one.

I grab a headlamp, but I don't use it.  There is enough light, even without a moon, to see the road and its edges.  I walk to the beach in the dark and wonder when it was I stopped being afraid to walk in the dark outside like this.  I have been doing this often enough it isn't scary... as much.  I do keep my hand on the flashlight just in case and watch for critters crossing the road.  I see none.

I reach the beach at 6:45 and the light in the east is already causing the stars to disappear from view.  The big dipper is right over my head.  I do my 10 pushups in the sand, pause and watch the sky, do another exercise, pause and watch the sky.  The wind is brutal, I move closer to a sand dune where I get some protection.  I get to see a small meteor for a brief moment.

A melody on my phone tells me I have an incoming text message.  I smile, I know it is Steve and he is wishing me good morning, and he may be out on the dock looking out at the sunrising over the lake in his neighborhood.

I check my phone, it is him and a picture of his sunrise. His power is out, he says.  During his working days he was a line man and remembers holidays spent fixing a crisis instead of being home with the family.  He feels the workers' pain on this cold Christmas morning.

I send back a picture of my sunrise.  If only I could have sent pictures of the starry night last night.  He would have loved that.  His appreciation of the night sky has enhanced my love of looking up at night.

I learned recently that Potts Preserve is a dark place close to Inverness.  You may recall that Potts Preserve is where George and I got lost on the trails and ended up spending a cold night in that preserve in early 2016.

But now I have learned it is a designated dark place for viewing the night sky.  This would be something I would never do alone, but Steve (who can read a compass, ha ha) makes it not only possible, but much more desirable.

This is the time of year (when daylight is short) to enjoy starry nights and sunrises.

Before Christmas Day

It is hard to believe a whole month has gone by.  I saw the last time I wrote you it was just after Thanksgiving.

I have not been at St George Island by myself.  

First Steve joined me at Newport Campground near Crawfordville, FL.  The campground is right across from the entrance to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.   We had a wonderful time there.  The first time we kayaked there it was sooooo incredible.  I don't remember ever having such a beautiful awesome view while kayaking or anywhere.  Look at the pictures and you will say, "WOW!"

Shortly after we started kayaking we saw five dolphin circling a school of fish and the fish (large ones) jumping.  What a thrill!

We saw an American Oystercatcher on one of the many oyster beds in the area. 

We went kayaking a few times after that in different places, but none could compare.  Both times the wind blew and it was cold.  Another time we saw a couple dophin but it wasn't as action packed.  

Steve said, "If you don't go experience the uneventful or even bad ones you will never get to the really great ones."  So true.  Forest Gump... "Life is like a box of chocolates..."

We hiked several times.  Once we heard the endangered cockaded woodpecker but didn't see it.  Once we stopped in the Nature Center and Steve bought several childrens books for his daughter's classroom. His daugter is a grade-school teacher in New York.  When we got to the checkout I teased him that he didn't get the one about the Armadillo.  He said he couldn't buy them all.  And the volunteer there told him the Armadillo book was one of her favorites.  

Most popular State Parks in Florida you need to make your camping reservation 11 months in advance.  I had planned to camp over Christmas at St. George Island with my friends, Regis and Cindy.  We had made our reservations last January.  About a week before Steve was able to book three nights at St. George when I would be there. 

I enjoy being with him alot, I still am very careful to hang onto some me time and to keep him also independent of me.  


At St George Island we biked into town and walked many miles.  But the sunsets and star gazing were out.  It was cloudy all three days he was with me there. 

Steve had memories of being at the island with his family.  We took an exploritory bicycle ride into the business district.  Steve showed me the house they had rented on the beach.  I stood there trying to imagine what Steve was feeling with all the fun memories from his time there. It was strange, looking back at happy times.  Living in different happy times.  It was kind of surreal. 

On our last night together we went to Paddy's on the island and had fish tacos and listened to live music.  Fun!

The next morning, on his way out of the campground, Steve stopped by my trailer.  He dropped off the brocolli cheese soup he had made and a pizza he had made.   Thank you, Steve!  I was going to need easy foods because I wouldn't be using my outdoor kitchen in the freezing cold days that were coming.

Later, my text bell went off.  It was a picture of the Armadillo book!  He had stopped by St. Mark's Nature Center and bought it afterall! I laughed out loud.

In the evening that same day I was sitting at my computer when I got a text.  

It was Cindy!  She said, "I didn't know we got a spot right next to you."  

I looked out my window and there was their van and trailer, they had pulled in and set up without me even noticing!

This is how I do dishes without my outdoor sink.  I have a glass measuring cup I use to warm water in the microwave.  I wipe all the food stuff off the dishes with a paper towel.  Then I put a little water and soap in one dish and use one dishpan for the dirty soapy dishes and the other for the rinsed dishes.

And this is how I dress for washing dishes when it is freezing cold out.  ha ha.

The dripping spigot made a skating rink on the pavement.

Ice under the dripping spigot.

If the Ice Fishing Houses on wheels weren't so heavy I would consider shopping for one.

Regis and Cindy and I have gone on long walks on the island.  Always watching for birds and other interesting things.

A jelly fish we saw at low tide on one of our long walks.

Regis and Cindy bundled up for a walk at low tide on the intercoastal side of the island.

Yesterday afternoon for an hour, it warmed up enough to brave walking barefoot on the beach a while.  We lasted about 20 minutes before we were putting out socks and shoes back on.

Just before we gathered for dinner we walked out to to watch the sunset.

Now I got to stop writing and start getting ready for a bike ride.  The weather is supposed to get up to 45 degrees by noon and that is my marker that it is warm enough to ride.  We plan to ride into Apalachicola.  Cindy said the Piggly Wiggly there will steam fresh shrimp for you.  I haven't been a shrimp eater.  Steve is encouraging me to try it.  I looked up the health benefits and said, "We'll see."

I hope your holiday season is going well and you are well and surrounded by the people or activities you love.


Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Journey to Life on Wheels


Wow!  Life is a trip.

I am feeling younger and stronger. 

How? You may ask.  

I took my trike to the shop in Inverness. 

 I was slowing down and I thought it was me.  My bike buddies were trying to talk me into getting an electric motor for my trike.  I resisted.  

I wanted an annual check up and lube job on my trike before I left on my travels north.

I left the trike there for them to work on.  Shortly after, the mechanic called me.  It turns out that my trike chain was a mess.

There is a little guide wheel under the seat of my trike.  There is a little bar that keeps the chain from jumping off the wheel when I shift or hit a bump.  

Some how the chain had gotten on the wrong side of that guide bar.  The mechanic said that the chain had sawed half way through that bar, the sawing had ruined the chain and my back cog and more.

It took a few days for them to get all the parts and fix it.  Boy, did it ride nice when I got it back!

Now when I ride with the group, I can keep up.  It isn't a big struggle to ride.  

In fact, on Easter Sunday I rode to Brooksville, via the Withlacoochee Trail and the Good Neighbor Trail, by myself.  It must be 54 miles round trip.  And it felt like nothing, no pain, no panting, no struggle.  In fact when I got a text from Cindy saying she just saw me bike by her house I turned around to go back and chat with her adding a mile onto my trip.  There was no way I would have done that when I was struggling to ride.

I am celebrating the life renewing effects of a smooth running bicycle.

Moving On

When I wrote you last I announced I had a buyer for my home and I would be moving out.

You may or may not be curious about all that.  But before I get to that, I feel bad about not telling you about two significant things that occurred earlier this season.  

Two VERY important things.

Two Important Items

January Family Time!

My nephew Tom and his wife Sarah contacted me to let me know they were going to be in Tampa for a few days.  They invited me to meet up.  This is really significant.  It isn't like we were super close when they were growing up.  But now that they are grown, every time I see them we have a fun time.  I was sooo honored to be invited and included in their visit to Florida.  I know how it is when you are working and you only get a week or maybe two to enjoy being away.  So I felt really lucky to be a part of their time off from work. 

It turned out I would spend two days with them.  One when they traveled up to Crystal River near me to see the Manatee and me, yes visiting me!.  Then I drove to Tampa one day when my other nephew, Jack and his husband Mike were going to be there too.  Jack and Mike only live less than two hours from me, but we usually see each other elsewhere.  Because life is happening when we are home.  You know, work and play and busy-ness.  It is always a delight to be with the four of them.

Thank you for welcoming me, Tom and Sarah, Jack and Michael.

Only, the week they were here at the end of January, 2022, was blasted windy and COLD.  In fact it was the time when it got down to 29 degrees and stayed there for a few hours at night.  What a bummer for them.  They had wanted to spend the day at the beach and outdoors, but we ended up taking a trolly around until the sun was almost down, then got off the trolly at the beach and watched the sunset while jumping around trying to keep warm.

We ended up having dinner at 9 pm.  My energizer bunny was low on power, so instead of driving back over an hour to my Weeroll, I called around and found a motel room.  It worked out well for me because I spent that very cold night in a comfortable, warm motel room in Tampa.  

Introducing Serenity Sam

The second fun thing I wanted to tell you about was my introduction to my travel companion.  Yes, I met a guy and he is going to be traveling with me.

While I was approaching the mailboxes in Windermere on my trike I stopped to chat with Peggy and Ron who live nearby.  Peggy handed me a golden monkey.  He is about six to eight inches tall, painted gold, and sitting in the lotus position.  Peggy said she had been given several and didn't have places for them all.

I immediately thought that I would give it to my friends Keith and Jean.  They have a golden frog sitting in a lotus position on their patio.  But when I took it there, I couldn't let it go.  What if I took Serenity Sam with me?  He could silently sit in the seat next to me like George did during the last years of his life.    

What if when something goes wrong I can take a picture of Serenity Sam reminding me to keep calm?  He could be like the Flat Sam that school children send around the world teaching them geography and history. 

I think he might be the ideal man for me.  He will be a great travel companion.

A Nomad Needs A Legal Address

I closed on my house on Thursday, April 14, 2022.  There are lots of stories to tell about the journey from signed contract to closing. And I will get to some of them here later. But first let's talk about my new address.

A big part of any move is changing your address.  But if you are going to be house-less, you have to make arrangements to have a place as the address for your driver's license and for voting.

You can't be homeless and have a driver's license and vote.  You have to have a legal address.  I could use an address of a friend in Florida, but then if they aren't there and something is accidentally delivered there...  

I am now getting my mail at my new address in Green Cove Springs.  St. Brendan's Isle is a mail service.  They cater to people who live on their boats.  

For the mail, I had to notify insurances and utilities of my new address, and give the Post Office my forwarding address.  St. Brendan's Isle (SBI) provides a "Domicile Declaration" form and guides their clients through how to fill it out.  This is provided to them and they get a copy to the Post Office (I guess).

I get an email each day from St. Brendan's Isle telling me how many pieces of mail I received that day.  I go up on-line and I can see a picture of the envelope and I can direct the mail service to:  Hold, Toss, Forward or Scan

It is taking a little getting used to, but I am liking it.  Of course one of the first pieces of mail was the US Post Office confirming my address change.  They have my new address a bit wrong.   I have added to my to-do list is to get that corrected.  

I haven't visited the DMV yet.  Green Cove Springs is a small town SW of Jacksonville, FL.  When I leave Inverness, (April 24, 2022, that is just a week away!) my first stop is a campground not far from Green Cove Springs.  I will visit their DMV and register to vote.  Maybe I will take Serenity Sam to the marina there which is the address that will be on my driver's license.

I will be allowed to vote in the State and Federal elections, but the county and city elections I won't be allowed to vote because I don't live there.

The mail house has all the information I needed to guide me through this transition and the few times I have called them with questions, they have been very polite and helpful.  

Some people have asked me why I have my address so far from where I will be spending my time. (In and around Inverness in the winters).  I said because another full-time RV woman told me about this service and the website made the step by step process clear and simple.  Besides, there is no mail service like that here in Citrus County that I know about.

One Person and Two Tons of Stuff

I had cleared and purged stuff before I rented my home to Frankie and Dennis this winter.  So when they left on April 2nd and I went in to start packing and moving boxes to storage, I was so surprised at how much stuff I still have!

Such spoiled Americans, we have no idea how much stuff we accumulate, and still we want more.  

I am often reminded of reading someone's will from the early 1900's or the late 1800's.  

1 Spoon

2 pots

1 mule

Or, something like that.

The Table

We bought our table and chairs in the 70's a couple years after we got married.  In 2008 we had it painted for our new life in sunny Florida.  We had family dinners, played games, and hosted dinner parties with friends at this table.  We held meetings at this table.  

When George's business, Rentapen, started cutting metal shims as one of its first manufactured products, we spent hours sanding the burs off of the shims, counting them, and putting them into little bags at this table.

Deciding to give it up was hard.  But I felt it was too big, too heavy, too worn.  Some friends said keep it, some said start new in a new place. I offered it up to the house buyers first at $250.  They didn't want it.  So I put it on Facebook Market Place.  Crickets...

I lowered the price.  I lowered it again.  Crickets...

Then at $150 I get a message request.  "Will you take $50 for the set?"

Arg!  I had been wondering if I would have a charity thrift come get it.  But sell it for $50???  Doesn't anyone value this Ethan Allen table like I do?   

I replied, "I would rather give it to charity than sell it for $50."

She responded, "Oh, Thank You!  It is for my mother who just moved here and is hard up and doesn't have a table and chairs..."

At first I was in shock and offended.  Then I thought, What do I want?   I want someone to appreciate this table and have fun around this table.  If this woman can do that, then why not?

She and her Mom came and got it within hours.  I kept two chairs because they are solid and good to use as a step up when I need to reach the top of the fridge or something.  And I kept the quilt, in case I can use it to coordinate the chairs in a spot in my new home someday.

The Back Seat

Another thing that was weighing heavy was the back seats to my Chrysler Town and Country.  I removed them because they were rarely used and the removal opened up more storage in my van and reduced the weight.  I was hanging onto them in case I sold the van.  But I have decided to keep it for another 100,000 miles.  By that time, the fact it is missing a back seat won't be a big deal.

The seats are in great shape, but when I posted them on Facebook I didn't hear a peep.  I kept lowering the price.

A few days before closing I had the Key Center Thrift come get some of the remaining pieces of furniture I wasn't putting into storage.  "Do you take car seats?"  I asked.  They must not have had a full truck scheduled because they were glad to take them off my hands.  Gone!

They also took a couple gliders, the TV and coffee table.  I don't use the TV.  I watch my computer or my cell phone.

The sectional chairs and two beds went to the people who bought my house.  Some they paid for, some I gave as gifts, like these sectional chairs.  They were left for me from the previous owner of the home.

It was also hard to give up my picnic set.  We bought it in the early 2000's.  Life was throwing us some curve balls so we would spend sunny afternoons out enjoying the yard.  We have had gatherings at this table too.  I love it but wanted to go lighter.  I want furniture that I can move on my own.  Let the new owners enjoy them.  I sold it to them, too cheap.

I have so much art!  I donated very few.  There was George's photos on canvas, prints by El Towle, and flowery paintings by Artist-friend, Jude Caborn.  Those all went into storage to give my next home fun.

There was one picture I was going to leave.  It was way up high on the wall.  A picture that George took of a Pelican that we had put on canvas.  But one of the last days, I thought I would attempt to take it down.  When we had moved in our friends, Jerry W. and David A. helped us mount the pictures.  They did an amazing job.  I thought they had mounted the pelican with L-brackets on the top side of the picture.  

I pulled out the extension ladder and extended... and extended... and extended.  Man it was high!

I started to climb, slowly, cautiously.  All the while asking myself if it was really worth it.

Then I decided, no, it wasn't worth breaking my neck.  I descended  and was going to start  bringing the ladder back down when it moved, tapped the picture, and the picture came tumbling down!  I rushed to inspect it.  No damage, one of the back braces had come loose, but there was no damage.

I was giddy.  It was like a sign from George.  "Here, take this with you."  And "Yes, this move is a good thing."  I know, silly, but it is the stories we tell ourselves that can make us happy or angry or sad.  I choose to fill my mind with happy stories.  

I had a container upstairs where our guests stayed.  The container was full of thank you notes and post cards from the years we had hosted Warmshowers guests and Evergreen Club guests and friends and even from the few months that I rented out the rooms as an Airbnb hostess.  

In storage I had a bag of all the cards and letters I received after George's death in 2018.

I hated to throw them away.  First I took pictures of them all, so that the memory still exists somewhere.


I had two weeks to pack up all the small stuff and move it to storage.  I made sure I packed the boxes light so I wouldn't hurt myself.  

There is a couple that work on the grounds in our neighborhood and have a handy-helper kind of business on the side.  I hired them to move the big stuff into storage, like the bed and some dressers.  I was so grateful to them!  What a load off my mind.

This picture is taken while the big stuff was being added to the storage unit.  I took pictures of my full storage unit, but I can't find them on my camera.  When the storage unit was empty, I thought there was no way I was going to fill it.  But I was wrong, it is packed to about 5 feet tall in most places.  Just me, just one person, so much stuff.  

There are:
Garden tools
and regular tools
and seven years of tax papers.

There are: 
boxes of my journals
bags of linens
Tubs of kitchen utensils and pots.

There are:
chairs for relaxing
end tables of all kinds.

And I threw away and gave away so much stuff.  Carrie is a neighbor whose son does flea markets.  She was delighted with whatever I had to give her.  Lamps, dishes, widgets, tools...

She even gave me some cash for the stuff.  She filled her car two or three times with stuff.

What I threw out or gave away:
expired spices (lots)
bars of soap (I just use pump bottles now)
rags and more rags

There were:
screws for keeping and screws for my son
a ladder for me and an extension ladder for the new home owner
silverware for me and old silver for my son
Sentimental pieces of George's for his daughter, Jodie

I keep reminding myself, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, I can't take it with me to the other side of life.  I may have twenty years left or even more, but still.  Let someone else enjoy it for a while.  

Car Issues

My car is at the dealer.  It will be there for a few more days.  I wanted to get things fixed before I leave.  One issue I could not ignore, when I locked the door, it really wasn't locked.  

One day I wasn't anywhere near the car and I had the fob with me.  But a friend wanted to try to open the door and put something inside for me.  The driver's car door opened and the alarm went off.  I had suspected there was a problem when it happened to me, but I had the fob on me so I thought it had something to do with the new fob I purchased from Chrysler.

Also, the last time I wrote that after I got a new fob for the car I had not had an incident with the intermittent problem of the car not starting.  Well, shortly after I wrote that, it happened again.  When I wrote about it on Facebook several other Chrysler Town and Country Owners reported they had the same problem and that I should check the VIN number because it might be the same problem that cause Chrysler to do a recall.

But my VIN isn't included in the recall list.  The car dealer says they can not fix an intermittent problem like that.  It has to not work while in their care.

So again I will be traveling the country with a car that sometimes just won't start.  Frustrating.  They are working on the car door issue, and had to order parts.  Hopefully I will get it back on Wednesday so I can start the process of downsizing even more for my six months of travel.

Delights on Closing Day

Closing was on a Thursday at 1:00.  So I figured I could meet up with my bike group and ride a bit before riding to the closing office.  It was drizzly out when I left Oasis.  When I got to Inverness there was no one waiting to ride, but a group of the Snails was just ahead so I caught up and hung out with them.  That was delightful, even if it started to rain.  I was glad to have others willing to ride in the rain. The snails are a fun group.

They went to a restaurant five miles up the road, I turned around at that point and returned to Oasis.  I had just enough time to lay out my wet clothes and take a shower and eat lunch.  

The rain stopped and I rode to the closing.  It was quick and painless.  The buyers had signed already, the money was in my account by the end of the business day.  Whoo hoo!

On my ride on the trail I saw a small gator walking across the trail, a big mud turtle beside the trail, and a great blue heron standing on a bench next to the trail.

I had asked a friend and neighbor, Linda M. to have a happy hour on her patio that night and she did!  We drank wine and Prosecco and had a great time.  Thanks again Linda and friends for helping me mark the occasion.

As I was riding back to Oasis in the twilight, it was lovely out.  

I saw a snake.  

I texted Linda M.  She texted back that snakes shed their skin.  The snake is a symbol of change.

Cold Camping In Florida

 It is Christmas morning and I am camping on St. George Island off the coast of the panhandle of Florida. I am snuggled under a folded over ...