Showing posts with label Widows Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Widows Life. Show all posts

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Locked Out or Unhinged?

 Sunday, December 20, 2020


I did it again.  Some days my mind is just not in the moment and somehow I lose track of important stuff.

I was looking forward to this trip.  I was traveling just two or three hours to the coast east of Orlando, FL.  I was excited because I would be spending my holiday with some up-beat and active friends.  We were to be camping in an area where there is water for kayaking, lots of nature for birding, and a trail for biking.

 But this morning as I was packing I was in a foul mood.  My neighbor, Mari, commented, "Sue, you are frowning!  You should be smiling, aren't you excited?"  

I hadn't even been aware I was in a foul mood, but then I realized that the thrill of going just wasn't in me.  I felt frayed... is that a feeling?  I felt like my brain was a bit scattered.  It wasn't working as sharp as normal and I was having to work extra hard to concentrate and make sure I didn't forget anything.  Mari reminded me I had a packing list for trips.  But I had not used it.

Instead I had spent some of my morning signing up for another camping trip.  This one is in January with the Sisters on the Fly Sister Corp.  The trip will be a working trip, helping someone on the coast of Louisiana rebuild or clean up after the area was hit by two hurricanes this summer and fall.  

And as I ran upstairs to turn the thermostat down to save on energy while I am gone, I remembered that in a week or two Carolyn will be arriving to rent a room from me and share my home with me.  Wow!  Time is moving so fast.

Maybe I was scattered because I was watching the neighbors' Labrador.  I walked it before I started packing up.  

 I finished packing and I hooked the trailer up to the van.  I did my walk around to check that everything was ok.

Now that I had the trailer packed gave Ellie the dog one last walk around the block.  It started to rain.  

In the van I began the drive east in the rain.  After a picnic stop, the rain stopped and the temperature rose to the high 70's.  

It was 2:30 when I checked into Manatee Hammock campground and backed into my site.  It is a roomy site with trees, I can walk to the inter-coastal, it's all good.

I go to unhitch and I reach in my pocket for the trailer keys.  

No keys.  I pat myself down, no keys.  I search all the jackets, the back pack, the purse, the console, under the seats, the floor, between the seats.  

I paused and tried to calm myself and think.  

Can I do this week of camping without my trailer keys?

1) I can't unhitch the trailer because the hitch is locked.

2) I can't plug in my fridge/trailer because I don't have access to my cord which is in the toolbox that is locked.  My water hose is there too.

3) I can't get in the trailer because the trailer door is locked. 

I walk back to the campground office to see if I dropped the keys there.  Nope.  

I told the campground host I would have to drive all the way back home to get the other set of keys.  He said call "Pop-a-lock".

I walked back to my car and trailer and I called my insurance because I have road-side assistance.  But I couldn't get through.  They were busy, the recording said, and short-staffed due to COVID-19.

Then I called Pop-a-lock nearby.  The woman that answered said the locksmith was working on a job right now and would call me after he was done.  "It will be about an hour," she said.

I waited two hours.

As I was waiting I remembered that the back of the trailer has a padlock on the door.  I could enter in the back!   I started working to get the trailer set up to use

My friends came over and visited a while.  They said they heard the no-see-ums are bad here.  They helped me set up my CLAM screen tent.


They left and I called my sister to chat.  While I was on the phone, my friend Regis returned with his keys to see if any of them would work on my hitch or tool box.  None did.

I then told him if I couldn't get into my tool box I would need to hitch a ride from him to a store to get an extension cord and a hose.  That is the stuff I need from my tool box.

Regis left and returned again with an extension cord and a hose!



I called Pop-a-lock after waiting two hours.  This time the person that answered the phone said the locksmith in my area doesn't work on Sunday's and he will call me the next day.  Sigh.

Cindy has plans to ride the trail tomorrow and maybe visit the nature preserve to look for birds.  I would love to join them but that means I would have to haul my trailer.

Traveling with the trailer means I would have to strap stuff down again and move everything back to the floor so it won't fall and cause damage.   Another adventure, another lesson.

Regis gave me these words of wisdom: "Keep a spare set of keys hidden somewhere." 

That means not at home (which is where my spare set of keys is sitting).

It is raining again.  It is dark.  I have shelter, I have light, I have my computer, I have my bed, my fridge is plugged in and I can make coffee in the morning.  I am having a mini celebration.

We will see what tomorrow brings.


I am listening to Untamed.  My sister had mentioned she was reading the book and was really pulled into it.  I love it.  It is real, it is poetry, it is inspiration and motivation.  

It makes my own simple writing style look... simple.  I shouldn't compare myself, but you know how we humans can be.

She said today as I was listening on the drive here that grieving is a kind of metamorphosis.  You snuggle down, feel the pain, get through it, and on the other side you are transformed.  Your old life doesn't fit anymore because you have changed.

I thought, oh!  I am searching for what fits now.  I am no longer George and Sue, I am just... Sue... and seeking a life that fits the new me, the changed me.  

I want a life with lots of moments when I know that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Those are moments of content.  The pants fit.

One thing I know that fits is this writing I do.  Because I just can't stop.  I think about just giving up and going a different direction, and I just don't want to do that.

The good news is that I am selling more audio books!  A friend let me know they were listening to both books just this week.  I told him others had told me the books made them laugh.

When he finished listening to them he contacted me again and said he didn't laugh so much as cringe.  Ha ha.  Yes, there was some of that too, mostly in The Journey Continues, the second book with the tandem trike on the cover.

 Speaking of The George tandem trikes.  They are sold and shipped to a man in Huntsville, Texas who is caring for his wife who has...  drum roll please... Alzheimer's Disease.

May you both get miles and miles of smiles from the rides on The George tandem.

Christmas 2020

Many families are still getting together for this holiday.  The numbers of Covid cases continue to rise and hospitals in California are running out of ICU beds.   The first vaccines have been given.  It is expected that it will take a year or longer to reach all those who will take it.  Can we then gather again in groups, put our heads together as we whisper, shout at each other over the loud music in a bar?

What do you miss most?  

Hope your holidays are enjoyable even with the safety precautions for COVID.    May your 2021 be full of peace and hugs.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Moving Forward... Maybe Not...


Last I wrote to you I was just ending my trip to Sanibel Island and the Everglades.  I was debating whether to downsize or cheapen my Florida living situation and travel half the year.

As usual in these tough decisions, I have gone round and round.  I was talking with a friend who is building a house.  She said once she has made a decision, she just goes with it.  But her husband loops through the decision they have already made.  He goes through the decision-making process over and over again.  Second guessing, double checking, he is like me in that regard.  

I remind myself to be grateful that I have choices.  Sometimes in life, and in so many lives less fortunate, there are few choices other than to be negative or look at the bright-side.

Before I get into some decisions I have gone through recently, I have to share this bright sunset picture with you.  Last I wrote you I had a Halloween picture and song lyrics by my Wisconsin friend, Mark Blackman.  Well this week I got this lovely sunset picture in my email.

Wow it is bright... and orange.  Mark wrote about the fire spitting dragon in the picture.  I had not seen the dragon (or dog) until I read his note.  Now I can't UN-see it.

The morning I left the last campsite at Alafia State Park, it was still dark so my van's headlights were on when I was hitching up and the bugs just swarmed and piled up at the base of a flashlight I set out and at the base of my car headlights.  The tiny dead... (Mayflies?) were still laying in front of my headlights when I arrived home.


One decision I made was to sell The George.  For those of you who just started reading my posts, you don't know what The George is unless your read my second book, The Journey Continues: Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.

The George is the tandem trike with electric assist that George and I rode as his dementia progressed.  It consists of two Greenspeed delta trikes hooked together. (Delta means: two wheels in back and one wheel in front.)

I took pictures of the trike and posted it in our Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders newsletter.  I have not gotten any nibbles, so next I will post it on Facebook marketplace.  Then I will start lowering the price.  If you are interested, let me know. 

I am selling the red trike with electric assist that I rode.  Cindy, who donated her trike to the project, is also selling her yellow trike, so if one person buys both they can hook them together like we did and make a tandem.

After I got back from my trip, we started watching Hurricane Eta.  First it blasted into Central America and then it went back into the Gulf and zig zagged.  I have never seen anything like it.  They should have called it Sue the way it couldn't decide which way it wanted to go.

At the last day it looked like it was going to go right over us as a category one hurricane.  I brought all the pots and patio furniture into the screened porch.

It ended up going north of us, we got a little rain, a little wind, but not enough to down any trees or hurt any buildings that I could see.  The storm made me glad to be in a brick building instead of a mobile home.

I moved everything back out to the patio and sprayed the lanai because there were palmetto bugs in those pots of dirt!  (Palmento bugs are called roaches in Wisconsin.)  

While I was out traveling, Jean Hawks arrived in Inverness.  If you recall I met up with her and rode with her in Mississippi both on my way north to Wisconsin in July and on my way back south this fall.  She lives in my neighborhood.  

When I told her I was thinking of selling my house and buying a cheap trailer.  Why have a big home when I was only going to be in Florida a few months each year for the next few years while I travel with my Weeroll?  Jean was ... disappointed.  She likes having a trike friend in the neighborhood.  It is nice to be liked.


Yes, well, it is nice having friends close by and I do have several in the neighborhood.

I got a call from a woman I had contacted to tell her if she thought of selling to call me.  She said she was ready to sell.  I set up a time to go see the place on the inside.  It is in a mobile-home park where I would own the trailer but pay rent on the land.  Rent is $380 per month, which is more than my HOA fee in my current home, but then I wouldn't have taxes or such big insurance.

The morning I was to go look at the trailer I walked from my house to the trail and down the trail to the lake.  Someone had recently stuck some blossoms on the bridge railing.

I thought, I wouldn't have this lovely place to walk if I moved, but maybe I would have a different pretty place to walk.

I went to look at the trailer.  I was grateful to have Cindy and Regis, Diane and MaryAnn meet me and help me look at the place.  I am so blessed!  Thank you.

The thing with trailers is - if the water flows toward the house, it isn't a big deal, because it just flows under the trailer and out the other side.  The porch entrance was at a low spot.

My friends said I could take up the carpet and paint the cement underneath.

And I said I had planned on re-doing the floors and painting anyway.  But I wonder what caused the yellowing of the linoleum. 

Then I thought I would replace the fridge because it was rusted and old.

And part of the decorative wood is pulling away from the ceiling.  The man next door to the trailer is a handy-man and said to let him know what I needed to have done.  That is pretty convenient!

It appears the air conditioner is older, but still working.

The list of work that needed doing was a bit overwhelming, and there is no guarantee that the land owner might not decide to re-purpose the land to something else, and then I would be out of all the work and money I put into the home.

What was most attractive was the trailer sits on an end lot and the screened patio faces some woods.

When I got home after the tour, my place was looking pretty darn good.  I called the owner of the trailer and told her I had decided not to buy it.


I think I told you about the neighborhood in Inverness where a bunch of recumbent tricycle riders have moved in from all over the country.  They had met each other while riding over the years and just one by one chose to retire on the Withlacoochee.  

I have called them the Texas Trikers because the first few couples moved here from Texas.  But there is also couples from Main and Vermont and Minnesota and elsewhere.  I have called their neighborhood Trike City and Trike Town.

They have shirts that say Citrus Cyclepaths.  So I guess I will call them the Cyclepaths now.

I bring them up because I am pleased to be invited to join them on their rides.  Recently a few of us rode down to Floral City to see the Zebra there.  As we were winding through the neighborhoods I saw this forward and backward bicycle.  I stopped to take a picture.  The owner dashed out to talk.  He made it himself.

Malotte is a fun-loving woman (in the yellow t-shirt).  She bravely got on the back and let the owner take her for a ride around the block.  It is, I imagine, pretty scary to be pedaling forward while moving backward.  I was content to sit firmly in my trike seat and watch.  Which, I observes as I sat, was not who I was a few years ago.  Years ago I might have been that woman on the back of that bike.  Certainly I would have been engaged in the conversation and wanting to try it.

In the back of my mind was the worry about falling and broken bones.  I got my bone scan back recently and I still have Osteoporosis.  So I have to really get serious about weight-bearing exercise (which I already do), supplements (which I have done half of the time), and making an effort to build my bone density.  Osteoporosis is often the reason for broken hips in older women.  Guess what, I am now an older woman with thinning bones.

Since bicycling is not a weight-bearing exercise.  I have taken up more walking and I am going on shorter rides.  

I took a ride in the Withlacoochee State Forest this week.   Before I got out of the car, I texted Debra to let her know where I was and what I was doing.  I told her I would text her again when I was done.  Some safety when hiking by myself, especially when hiking in a new place.

I am going to try different trails until I find one with some nice rolling hills and maybe some rocks to climb.   

Bike Racks and Letting Go

One day while out riding I saw this inventive trike rack.  I had thought about modifying one of these trailer-hitch luggage racks that you can buy off the shelf.  I was stumped because I don't have metal-working equipment and I am not a welder.  

This is how you can do it if you work better with wood than with metal.

Pretty cool!

Speaking of bike racks.  One of my Diva friends moved into my neighborhood!  I helped Diane unload a pod along with a few of her other friends.  Diane and I wore masks, the other friends did not.  Hmmm.  I hope our passing in the garage isn't a spreader event.

Anyway,  piling all those boxes into her new home reminded me of how much work moving can be!  All the decisions of what to keep and what to get rid of!  All that packing, moving, unpacking, deciding where to put things.  It makes me glad (at least for today) I decided not to move into that trailer.  

But, speaking of bike racks, the former owner of Diane's home was a biker and had a nice Yamaha - roof-top carrier.  I took it, not for me, but to share with someone who needs/wants a bike rack.  I will post it in the next Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders (WBR) newsletter.  Maybe for a donation to the trail or to the Alzheimer's Family Organization.


 I started thinking about how much I have and I really don't need that much stuff to live and be happy.  George had a set of China he bought while he was in the Navy.  He told this story every time we dined on the china.  He was in Japan, bought the 12-piece serving set for only $18.  Then had to pay $32 to have it shipped home.

I only use the set when I am having a big party.  And of course it has been almost a year since I have had a big party.  And hosting big parties isn't as much fun without my partner.  George would chop the onions, clean the bathrooms, set the tables, greet the guests, and clear the tables and fill the dishwasher.  Once I had served I would just relax and chat with folks.  

We were a great team.  When he could no longer do these things, hosting became harder on me and not as much fun.  Even when I had great friends pitch in and do much of the work, it wasn't the same.  If COVID passes and we can gather in big groups again, I can always use paper or have people bring their own dishes.

This week I decided to pick a few items from the set to keep and the rest I packed up and took to the thrift shop.  It was uncomfortable.  It was letting go of a bit of George, I think.

When I told Debra I had taken the china to the thrift store she said, "Oh, that rose George is buried under is curling up and wilting."  

I told her that while I was getting into the car to drive the stuff to the thrift store I found myself arguing with George.  We can't take it with us.  It is time to let go.  I could pass it on to the kids, but they already have their houses full of their own stuff.  It is time to let go.

Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

Yesterday I met up with the Cyclepaths again to drive up to Gainesville and ride the Gainesville trail.  It was a cool and breezy day, but we had a great time riding and chatting anyway.  Everyone had masks, but we pulled them down when riding, or for the photo taking moments.

What is neat about the Gainesville trail is it goes by the huge Payne's Prairie Preserve.  There are tons of birds, wild horses, deer, buffalo.  It is beautiful any time, but right now with the fall grasses it is especially lovely.

After the ride the group was going to one of my favorite restaurants.  Satchel's Pizza is a place to display art made from junk and to have great pizza and salad.  

I learned the group was not interested in walking into the Prairie.  I like to do that every time I am here, plus, with this many people on a cool day, it would be hard to distance at the restaurant.  I made the choice to walk into the prairie and skip the restaurant.

Every time I walk this board walk it is different.  In the drought of three or four years ago, there were LOTS of gator.  But now there is so much vegetation growing on the flooded areas that the Limpkin are able to walk on top in their search for the snails. 

There was a Limpkin sitting on the left-hand railing.  He/she was chattering away.  I didn't know this sound.  I always identified Limpkin with their haunting and loud call.  This guy was doing a guttural clacking.   He wasn't at all disturbed by my walking by, and kept aiming its eye either on the water or the sky... They look out to the side of their head, so it is hard to tell what he was looking at.

The wind was blowing quite a bit.  There were Snail Kite Hawks and Vultures swooping over the pond and riding the wind currents up and up.

I got close to a Snail Kite that was working hard to remain on a weed that was really swaying in the wind.  I was close enough to see the very sharp hook of its beak.  It's feathers ruffling in the breeze.  When it took off it showed me its white bottom end.  Flashing me with its bird moon.

I saw a couple large gator sunning themselves, but not near the numbers we saw when the water was low and they had less places to hunt and hang-out.

Traveling to Wisconsin and beyond in 2021

I am already making my reservations for my trip back to Wisconsin for the summer.  I am thrilled because Marie (who I met up with in the Everglades) is going to travel with me in her motor-home,

We are going to some areas in the Panhandle of Florida and then a couple of trails in Mississippi where Jean plans on riding with us near Hattiesburg.

Marie is going all the way to Des Moines, Iowa with me!   (Yes, Ruth, I hope you will be around to ride and show us some trails the week starting May 22, 2021.)  In fact maybe we can talk Regis and Cindy into joining in the fun. 

There is quite a network of trails around the Des Moines area and I know Ruth and Bill, Kay and Jim, Pam and a few others that might be able to ride with us.

We will ride and hike and see what we can see all along the way, right Marie?

I have news!  I just got an email from the ranger at Council Grounds State Park near Merrill, Wisconsin.  They have a campground host position for me!  I have some questions about hours and days required of me, but I am excited to have this opportunity to see what it is like to work for a free campsite.  I will be about one hour from my sister's place.  So I hope I will still be able to do a lot with her, like I did last summer.  I have requested the gig start July 12th.  We will see...

Today I skipped riding the WBR group and instead I attended a Webinar on advertising on Amazon.  In an hour I will take off and meet up with Jean and Debra for a short ride.  Then I will have time to walk and jump and build my bones with some weight-bearing exercises.

The only constant is change... what comes next?



Friday, October 9, 2020

Days of Reflection and Rest

 It is Friday night, October 9, 2020, and I am sitting at my little TV tray-desk in my little Weeroll drinking a little glass of red wine... or purple wine.  It is the last of the wine from the bottle that Jeannie Clayton gave me from the Purple Toad Winery in Paducah, KY.  It is Black and Bruised Red Wine.  It is sweet and potent, as I sip my writing might get silly.  Just warning you.

This evening before I sat at the computer I hooked up Lilac and folded up my portable sink and horror of all horrors... I used the campground shower.  I have tried to avoid doing that because COVID might be lingering in the air from the last user.

Now I am all hooked up and ready ready ready for.... HOME!  Yes, I leave in the morning and drive to Inverness.  

Last I wrote I was feeling down about ending my journey, but the last few days I have stayed in one place on my own.  I have rested and reflected and thought about next spring and summer and fall.  Oh the places I will travel with Lilac! 

I have come to realize that this small simple living is in-line with my values.  In my house I have three toilets, THREE!! Even when I am not using two of them I have to flush them about once a week.  Each time I flush my toilet or the other two toilets I think what a stupid waste of fresh clean water.  Six gallons or more, woosh!  Gone.

I mean it isn't really gone, the planet has the same amount of water, it is just now dirty.  Most municipalities clean it up enough to dump it in a river.  Some have started to clean it up enough to water lawns or even make it drinkable again.

Speaking of water!  I drove all the way from Hattiesburg, MS (starting at dawn)  to  Nothern Florida SE of Tallahassee.  I am right back where I started this trip, Suwanee River Rondevous near Mayo and Live Oak, Florida.  

I eat healthier if I pack my lunch. 

I arrived at the Suwanee River Rondevous after dark.  That is the first time I have arrived at a camping spot after dark I think.  Setting up was interesting, I have a headlamp but didn't want to dig it out I guess.  The night was warm and muggy and the mosquitoes bit me all over.  I am still scratching and putting on anti-itch creams.

This time I reserved a spot in the upper campground because I almost got washed away in a heavy rain in the spring in the lower campground closer to the river.  I think the upper campground with full hook-up is much more expensive.  They are charging me over $48 a night.  I thought about cutting my stay here by a day, but I am glad I stayed the full time.

It was a loooong driving day to get here.  My first day I was content to rest much of the first day in this spot.

They have laundry facilities so I washed and dried clothes.

I found the Goo I had packed when I started this trip, so I fixed my lovely flowery sign.

I sat in the shade in listened to the mocking birds.  One made a cricket sound.  The mocking bird must have the two vocal cords like the brown thrush because they can make that pretty double throat sound.

I went down and waded in the spring but wasn't brave enough to go all the way in.  The spring is so much smaller.  In June when I visited it was so flooded we didn't even know it had a cement patio around it, and cement benches.

I rode my bike to Mayo to get groceries.  About 15 miles RT.

Back in the rural south there is no political balance it seems.  In my campground of maybe 50 campers there are two Trump flags, two confederate flags, and a multitude of Trump yard signs.  As I ride the roads to May and back I did not seen a single Biden sign.

The second morning I walked down to look at the Suwannee River.

And then I did exercises and yoga with youtube videos.  And I read!  I have been reading Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing!  And I picked it up to read a little and I read all afternoon.  I rarely RARELY do that.  It just goes to show me that this travel takes energy and it is good to stay in one spot a few days and just chill and recharge.

Oh dang!  As I was writing this, I have both doors open wide.  It is the first cool night here in Florida.  I was looking forward to sleeping without the hum of the air conditioner.  But my neighbor has decided to watch his outdoor TV and has it turned up like he is at the outdoor theater.  Deep voices, punching and Star Wars sword sounds.  I yelled at them twice, "Sure is LOUD!" I said.  

What makes people think when they are camping that they can do this?  I have been fortunate on this trip to have mostly quiet neighbors.  

Today was wonderful.  

Yesterday I almost decided to leave for home, I am so close, only an hour or two away.  But I made myself stay the full time so I can be ready to get moving when I get home.  There will be lots to do unpacking, dealing with the mail, cleaning and repairing and visiting and riding.

First I washed my car and the bugs off the front of the Weeroll.  Then I went down to the spring and this time I went all the way in and floated a bit.  

While I was still wet (I use my biking clothes for swim attire) I packed my lunch and rode to Peacock Springs State Park which is less than 10 miles from here.

The park is dotted with sink holes where the underground caves collapsed.


There was a gator in the water foating about 30-40 feet beyond these divers.  My first gator siting since I returned south!

Here people were scuba diving.  I watched the bubbles rise from the rocks as the divers went down into the underwater cave.

I found a quiet spring and sat at the edge to eat my lunch.

I returned to camp and then took the car to Troy Springs State Park which is about 10 miles in the other direction.

Here the people were snorkling.  I suddenly remembered that I had packed my snorkle, but I don't think I have used it at all this summer.  I went to the car and got it.  I am so glad!  What an experience.  The water was cold, but then the bottom dropped away (one diver said at least 76 feet).  An even colder gush of water was coming up from the spring.

A couple that came to snorkle asked me to take their picture and text it to them.

On the far side from the stairs where we get into the spring is the Suwannee River.  I tried to swim over too it because I guess there is an old boat that used to deliver mail along the Suwannee that is sunk over there.  But each time I passed the cavern, the water got murkier and warmer and I started thinking this would be good gator water.  

I started seeing these orange sparkly clusters like Tinkerbell Sparkles and I began to wonder if I was swimming through fish poop... or were they spawning?  Anyway, I figured swimming to the boat wasn't important. I chickened out.

Well I have an appointment to bike with Debra, an appointment to dine with Regis and Cindy and Mari and Jerry, and in only two weeks I take off again to ride near Sanabel, FL.  Plus I have three women to call and discuss being housemates.  If none of them are interested, I may look for a peice of land with electric and water and just park Lilac and live in it... small and simple.  Less to maintain, less insurance, less taxes, less.

Cautious Hope for Post COVID

Greetings from Inverness, Florida.   I am back home and very much enjoying springtime in Florida.  My garden is happy, the monarchs are flut...