Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Friday, July 16, 2021

Moments... then planning and preparing for more moments

Life can go along and all the blessings, the joy and fun can seem ho-hum after a while.  Then something happens, a goal is reached, a plan takes shape, a fork is decided on.

The thrill returns.

Today is just such a day.  

I have been in the Rhinelander area now for over a month!  

Long enough that mushrooms are growing inside my screen tent.

West Bay Campground is wooded with lots of maple, oak and birch.  The campground is mostly quiet.

Three times I have driven to the Bearskin Trail and rode the trail.  Two of those times I rode solo from the woods into the town of Minocqua.  

The trail is 18 miles long and has a crushed gravel surface.  One end is in the bustling and touristy town of Minocqua, and the other end is out in the quiet woods near the the intersection of Hwy K and Hwy 51.

I love the stories of the early rail days that are told on the kiosks along the trail.  When they were trying to create a causeway through the swamp to Minocqua for the railroad they would dump loads of sand and gravel until they no longer sunk.  Once, they had a portion they thought was solid and they had several horses and mules pulling loads over the causeway when part of it sunk and they lost the wagons and the animals in the deep muck.

Once the railroad was operational, one of the trains derailed when crossing a long bridge over a swamp.  The engine and three rail cars fell into the swamp.  The workers arranged for two cranes to come and help pull them out.  While pulling, one of the cranes also fell into the swamp.  After much effort they finally gave up.  The kiosk says that if you poke a long pole down about 50 feet in the right place you will hit solid metal.  The peat and muck go about 90 feet deep.  Wow!

One day I spent getting stuff together for the bike tour I am planning on doing on the Allegheny Gap Trail in Pennsylvania in September.  I packed up the bike and decided I needed a smaller and lighter-weight sleeping bag and a few other things.

I found an expandable bottle holder that I bought at the local bike shop.  It will fit the water-filter bottle I have.

I think I will be able to fit everything into two bags and my tent bag.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  The key is to keep the food items small.  No big bags of popcorn!

A new friend I made while biking here let me try her two-wheel electric bicycle.  I didn't care for the electric, but I loved her comfortable handles.  I bought a pair, they were too long, I cut them to fit my bike.

It is interesting that I wanted to stay at a place on the water and with a beach.  But I have only gone swimming in this lake one time.  One evening I sat on the dock and read while the sun went down. 

I try to keep eating healthy on this trip.  I still manage to eat a lot of junk food, but each week I make a big pot of veggies.  One time I boiled some eggs in the same pot at the same time.  I don't mind eating these veggies several times a week when it is so easy to just add sauce and heat up in the microwave.

In early July I drove back down to Waukesha, Wisconsin.  A friend had passed this past winter and they were having a life celebration.  I had known this man through our Newcomers Club (that was still having potlucks 27 years after we were new to town).  

I left Lilac in the campground and stayed in Waukesha with friends Mark and Jane.  Mark was good enough to meet up with me when I got to town and ride the Glacial Drumlin Trail and a few country roads.  It was a great ride and made the day in the car seem so easy.

Besides seeing people I knew from our Newcomers Club, I was able to meet up with the three woman friends who had agreed to read through the rough draft of my third book.  

I received some great advice and of course lots of edit marks.  Thank you beta-reading ladies, Sandy, Jeri, and Kathi.  I haven't even begun to start working on the book.  I am living life right now.

On my last morning in Waukesha, Mark and Jane and I went to breakfast and then walked over to the Farmer's market. 

Even though I saw Sandy in Waukesha, it was great to have them come stay at the same campground with me!  

We have hiked together and John and I biked about 16 miles on the Bearskin Trail while Sandy hung out in Minocqua.  Sandy is nurturing an injury that prevents her from riding right now.

We dined at a cool restaurant with outdoor seating with Susan Watson.  She is that new friend I told you about with the electric assist on her two-wheel bike.  We had a super time at supper time, laughing and getting to know each other better.

Pictured are Sandy, Sue, and John at CT's Deli in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.


While all this activity was going on I was contacted by snowbird friends, Denis and Frankie.  They were looking for a place to rent near Inverness and the Withlacoochee Trail in Florida.  Did I know of any places?  

That decided it. I had been toying with the idea of not selling my place, but renting it out while I am gone so much of the year traveling.  I contacted a rental management company that was recommended to me by a friend and neighbor.  Thanks Linda!

I am going to rent out my home to seasonal or short-term renters (3-7 months).   That way I will have some time each year to go in there if I choose to.  The paperwork is done.  I still have my deposit in at the Oasis RV Park in Inverness where I plan to stay this winter, hopefully with Lilac (my trailer).

My sister asked me why.  

I said that living in Lilac is simple.  It is more outside time.  And the money from the rentals will help pay for some renovations to my home... or more travel.  AND I get to experiment and experience what long-term living this way feels like.  

It is definitely something I couldn't have done with George.  He would have wanted more luxury, stuff, and room.  I would have needed a bigger everything to fit two people.  This is just right for one... at least for now. 


Another goal I have been working on is jumping up on a box.  I am up to five risers on the step.  Today I tried to do a metal step of the same height.  I did it three times and then I began to doubt I could do it.  I lost my courage and with it the ability to take the leap!  Isn't that something?  Instead I had to switch over to the rounder softer step.  Then I jumped up on it for three sets of eight.  Go figure.

The picture is only four risers.  I have since added a riser.

I bought another few weeks of training.  I am getting stronger, but the chin ups and push-up goals are still waiting to be achieved. 


I reserved a U haul in Washington, D.C. for the end of our bike trip on the Great Allegheny Gap Trail and the C&O Trail.  We will use it to haul us and our bikes back to our cars in Pittsburg.  I tried renting a van, but I couldn't find any that fit our needs and was available.

I mentioned to Joan that maybe we will have so much fun we will just turn around and ride back to our cars.  She was thinking the same thing, but said to keep the U haul reservation just in case.  We are both going to leave our schedules open just in case...


In a day I move onto a different location but still in this area of Wisconsin.  From that new campground home base I am going to set out on a mini bike tour to test my equipment.  I haven't routed it yet or decided which direction to go.  We'll see what happens... of course I will let you know. 

Just as I am leaving this area, my friend John LaFave is going to be doing the Pedal Across Wisconsin (I think that is the name of the ride) and will be in Rhinelander!  We will be just missing each other by a few hours.  Later this week his ride will be in Boulder Junction.  Maybe I will be there too.  I don't know.


My friend Bev who was in my Creative Writing Class in high school suggested I look over my posts carefully to catch more of the grammar and spelling mistakes.  I am trying to do better.  It takes a few hours to do one of these posts.   Sometimes the internet is crappy.  Sometimes the post is sandwiched between activities.  

For example, I took my bike in for maintenance and now I have to go pick it up before the store closes for the day.  I am reminded of a wall decoration... "Bless this Mess".

Well, I just wanted to fill you in on stuff.  

I am missing my Florida folks.  Gosh, I want to list you all and send you love and hugs.  

I want to thank Connie and Jerry for the surprise calls and texts.  Thanks to Ann who has been advising me on what to expect on the bike tour in September.  Thanks to those of you that respond to this letter and comment on the site or send me an email.  It is great to hear from you!

I hope you too are finding things in life to celebrate and bring you joy and gratitude. 


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. 


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.

Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...