Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Count-down To Book Launch - Day 7

November 27, 2019

This is so exciting!

Only seven more days to the launch on ebook/kindle of THE JOURNEY CONTINUES!



I am doing a series of videos as I count down to launch.  Just me, talking about the books and the process and life this week.



Let me know what you would like to see in an up-coming countdown video.

Who do you know that would enjoy our journey, or benefit from the positive out-look and caregiving information within it?  Share this post and this link to the book.









Thanks for watching and joining me on this journey!


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Coming Soon - Count Down to Launch and Holidays


Hello,

It is Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Today I was interviewed on our local TV station.  They were nice enough to share the program with me.  I added the captions to clarify what we were talking about.  It is about nine minutes.

How do you like that cover picture?  Ha ha, what does it look like?  Leave a comment and let me know. 



The big thing was I offered the first 20 people who sign up to Join the fun here on this blog a FREE download of the Audio Book of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  If you don't get email alerts to let you know I have posted, then you need to click the "Join the Fun" tab above and enter you email.

So... first about the books and then about the rest of life...



THE JOURNEY CONTINUES


Some of you have been asking when book two THE JOURNEY CONTINUES will be out on ebook.   You have been anxiously awaiting.

December 4th it launches!   And guess what!  You can pre-order the ebook now and it will download on Wednesday, December 4th!

The price bumps up when it launches.  So now is the time to get it.

Then on December 4th, if you are in the Inverness area, come help me celebrate in the morning at 10 a.m.  


I will do a reading from the book and then I will hang out as long as people want to.  I will sell and sign books.  I will have the first book there also and the LARGE PRINT!!!
 
A reader that is also a support group leader is highly recommending THE JOURNEY CONTINUES on Facebook and in her groups.  High praise!  She loves that I actually talk about how I dealt with bowel incontinence step by step.  She has not found that kind of instruction in any other Alzheimer's book, and she has read a lot of them.

I did a series of videos when I launched the first book, counting down to the launch date.  I will TRY to do something similar this time.  Short videos about what is happening as we approach the launch.

Currently there have been FIVE pre-orders.  I am a LONG way from the my goal of 100!  But then, it won't be the first or last time I have to work very hard to reach a goal... with no guarantees I will reach it.  We will see!  I will keep you posted in the count-down videos.

I got the first draft of the audio book for THE JOURNEY CONTINUES.  I am starting the process of listening and taking notes.  I have a hard time not comparing this voice actress with the one that did the first book.  I wonder if the readers are going to expect the same voice for both books.  The first voice actress, Robin Siegerman, was booked through the winter, so I hired a different one.

Candace Tuttle is good, her style is different, and her voice is pleasant.  This audio-book will be different but still have a good quality production and a clear voice. 

Here is her sample.



ALZHEIMER'S TRIPPIN'


I love how the sales are going on Audible for ALZHEIMER'S TRIPPIN' WITH GEORGE.  The audio adds a whole new dimension to our story.  If you have already read the book and enjoyed it, I guarantee you will also enjoy the Audio version.

I imagine other bicyclists listening as they travel like we did from trail to trail.  Or other caregivers and those just diagnosed out on a trip to try to grab as much of life as they can while they can.  It makes me smile.

If you are thinking about starting an Audible account and are buying my audio book,  use this link I will get a bonus from Audible!


It is available on:

Amazon
Audible
Itunes

Wow, I just found the audio book on itunes to create the link above and I gotta tell you, it was thrilling to see my name up there.  Wow.

And then I saw that my interview on Fading Memories Podcast was up there too.  Pretty cool.  Itunes!

BOOK SIGNING EVENT


On Sunday, November 24th I will be at the Citrus Writers Book Fair.  If you are out that way, stop by and say "Hi".


PARKS ON THE WITHLACOOCHEE

Those of us living and riding the Withlacoochee State Trail have been watching the construction workers revamping two parks that sit side by side along the Withlacoochee in Inverness, Florida.  It was a major redesign.  They added pathways, a shelter for the farmers' market, places for bands to play, half walls where people can sit, showers for sweaty bikers and boaters, kayak launch and rental place, docks, bathrooms, an adult fitness area with chin-up bars and sit-up bench, an amazing fenced-in playground for kids.  It was expensive to do, but exciting to watch.

On Saturday after our Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders breakfast at the Hen House, many of us went down to watch the ribbon cutting and to get a tour of the parks.  You know why two parks are side by side?  One, Wallace Brooks Park, was for the African American Community.  Even in 1968 after all the civil rights marches and exposure of the Jim Crow south, they were created separate facilities based on the color of your skin.  That was when Wallace Brooks Park was created.

It was a cool 50-degree day after a long hot fall.  The breeze was brisk.  Many of our group and the crowd did the tour but didn't hang out.   A guy hired to play jazz was on the stage playing with no audience.

Some of us went over to Cattle Dog afterward to warm up over hot drinks.  It was fun to see Regis and Cindy back on the trail.



 



HOLIDAYS

The holidays are coming.  I have about 18 people coming over for Thanksgiving!

We are all bicyclists and that is what binds us.  I invite folks who don't have any family in the area to celebrate with and who play well with others.  Many of them have come every year for several years.  They are my extended family here.  Many of them stepped in to help when I was care-giving and George was living with dementia symptoms.

I was going to make the turkey, but one of the attendees offered to do it.   Everyone else is bringing a dish to share too.  So I won't have a lot to do for this event.  Set-up and wait.  My friend Beth is coming over early to help greet people and get the food set up for the buffet so if my hip gives me trouble I can sit down a while.

I called my doctor and made an appointment again.  This will be the 6th time I have been to a doctor about this hip/back/leg thing.  The healthcare system is very frustrating.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Unfocused, Unqualified, Unsatified

Hello,

It is often said that to achieve great things, you need to focus your energy on one thing.  You can't spread your energy over many many things or you won't excel at anything.

I guess I am programmed to be mediocre.  Ha ha.

I kind of timed things wrong.  You see the audio version of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George has just been launched.  With that launch is the task of writing and sending out press-releases, putting posts up on social media, and giving out lots of free copies to experts and audio-book fans in the hope that they will leave a review on Audible or Good Reads.


I just got my first review of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George on Audible!

This book was great! I was a caregiver for my mother who had Alzheimer’s for 10 years!
It was very hard when she did get angry and aggressive. This book gave a sense of calm and patience. I look forward to the second half when it gets much more difficult to see how it is handled. Being married for 45 years now one of the things we do anticipate is what we would do if one of us gets this dreadful disease!!!!!
Thank you for sharing! 



When you launch a new book on Audible they give you 25 free audio books to give away.

If you want to listen and give an honest review I would love to give you a code.  Just send an email to me, susan at susanstraley dot com.  I still try to give my email in code to avoid spammers.  Giving out the free codes and getting reviews is the best way to promote the audio-book.

If you want to join Audible, use this link because then I get credit.   I think a membership at Audible is $14 something a month.  I joined recently and the first book I listened to was Becoming by Michele Obama.  I like listening to books when I ride or walk alone.

Back to talking about the work involved after the launch of the first audio book.  The work would be just fine if I didn't also plan the release of the ebook and audio-book of The Journey Continues for early December.  That also requires press releases, social media posts, and events.

So I am feeling like a squirrel... first I head one way, pause and run the other way, and then end up dashing in front of someone almost getting squashed in the process.

My emotions fly from excited to nervous to confident and calm to unworthy and not confident at all.   I have taken up a bit of meditation.  Only 5 minute blocks of time throughout the day.  Sometimes it helps me stop the squirrel and find the stillness where I might encounter insight, direction, and peace. Boy is it great when that happens!

There is a bit of pressure to get a lot of press for The Journey Continues in November.  Because from now until December 4th the ebook is available for pre-order.

So what?


Soooo... if I get alot of pre-orders (say 100), they all download on the day the book releases.  Amazon will take notice, maybe give me best-seller status for my book categories, and help find buyers for the book.  That is why pre-orders are important.

Last I looked I have 15 pre-orders.  Only 85 more to go!

You can help!

Send your friends to here to pre-order their kindle today.  At the special discounted price of ONLY $2.99 during the pre-order period.

I have found a few folks through some facebook pages and even twitter that wanted a code.  I keep my fingers crossed that they will leave a review.

Events


If you are in the Tampa or Inverness area, I hope you can join me for one of the launch celebrations.  This time I hope to spend a few minutes in the beginning reading from The Journey Continues before I sit down to sell and sign books.



Also the Citrus Writers Club is hosting a book sale at the Citrus Memorial Library in Citrus Springs, Florida on November 24th.




Speaking of signing, I was talking with my neighbor that is also a new author.  She just is in the process of producing her second book.   She shared with me that her emotions are high and low too.  We might be feeling low and then we hear from a reader that was touched by our writing and our emotions soar.  It's a crazy ride.

Friday I went to a fundraiser for Dementia Education at the Hen House Cafe in Inverness.  Two friends joined me, and I also saw and sat with two Dementia Divas and their princes.  I had donated ten books to the cause.  I guess they had decided to give them away as door prizes.  But one lady came up and asked if she could buy one for her friend.  Sure!  I donated the money to the cause.


Dementia Education helps educate businesses in the area.  And they have two booklets they have created.  One is about dealing with fire-arms, which is something I didn't have to worry about with George.  I know of several caregivers that do have to figure out how to deal with fire-arms in the house.

Anyway, the very next morning after the fundraiser, I was back at the Hen House for our bike-group's Saturday-morning breakfast.  A waitress brought a white-haired woman back who was carrying Alzheimer's Trippin' with George in her hand.  The waitress told the woman she read the book in two days, "It was very good."  The woman, (her name was Adele), wanted me to sign the book.  She was just thrilled to meet me.  I felt so high... "I am a celebrity!"  ha ha.


Short-lived, these highs drive me to keep going, keep working to spread the news about the books.   Sometimes I wonder why, then someone says that if I feel driven it is what I should be doing.

I am feeling driven by some unseen force.  Maybe it is angel George with his hand on my back that is nudging me forward.  George had high integrity and showed people respect.  To me he was better and kinder than some evangelicals I have met who don't have integrity or respect.  George also had Athiest beliefs... or let's just say he didn't believe in the stories that churches tell.  

I am open to knowing that I don't know what happens after our heart stops beating and our brain-waves stop waving.  I am one to think that we can pick and choose our beliefs.  Each of us can find the stories that make sense to us and help us through tough times.  For some that is the story of virgin births and salvation, for others it is the story of angels watching over us.  For some it is the idea that our thoughts create our reality or the law of attraction.   I say, whatever toots your horn,  it all might have some truth to it.  Just don't blast that horn in my ears.  If there is a all knowing being, I choose to believe it is full of love and forgiveness and kindness... flowers, butterflies and puffy white clouds.

See what I mean?  How did I get off on religion and philosophy?

Oh yes, I was talking about feeling driven... and unfocused.

A bit About Care-giving


AARP Bulletin has a great article on financial stress and care-giving.  Mostly it is talking about the financial burden on caregivers.   Extra medical care, neglect of their own medical care, less savings, more debt, less paid hours of work.

What they didn't mention is that spouses carry the burden of poor financial decisions by their partner.  Decisions made by the person with dementia that were made before they are diagnosed.  And those with dementia in these early stages are especially vulnerable to spammers and con-artists.

Other Stuff


Besides working on the books, I have been riding trike, attending parties.  I even entered a walk/run and got second place.  So I signed up for another one, the Jingle Bell run/walk.


I hosted a party here.  My hip didn't start hurting until people arrived and I had to stand and find counter space for stuff and utensils and prepare the last-minute stuff.

The very next night I had Warmshowers guest.  This was a couple from Turkey that were making their way up Florida to New Orleans.  I enjoyed having them here and I had some left-over chili and ice cream from my party so they were very happy.


Of course they both wanted to try out my lovely trike.  And I was happy to show them how much fun it is.



 Ok, I have yammered enough.  Now to dash off in a different direction.

Til' next time, enjoy your moments.
 




Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wow! Alzheimer's Trippin' on Audible! Interview

Howdy howdy!

Can you believe it??? I posted yesterday that I was waiting for the audio book to be launched by Amazon and Audible and Itunes. This morning it was there!

I made a short link for you.

http://bit.ly/AlzTrippin1

So you can send the link to your friends and post it on your social media.

Thanks again to Robin Siegerman the Voice Actor who put so much life and fun into my writing.  What a thrill.

Here is a short link to the sample so you can share that with friends too if you want to.

bit.ly/Alzheimers-trip-AudioSample


Podcast Interview Coming Soon!


And then, I went up on Twitter to let folks know and saw that the interview I had with Jennifer of the Fading Memories Podcast is going to go LIVE on November 5th.  It says 5 a.m.  Is that my time or her time?  She is in California.





Whoo hoo!

Can we stand any more excitement?

Thanks for being part of this new "trip"!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Thought Switching, Fundraising, Book Launching

 It is Tuesday, October 29, 2019 and my mind and body are all over the place.

Before I get into what I have been up to, I want to share a statistic put out by the Associated Press.  


More than five million people
in the United States
have Alzheimer's Disease.
We have just over 329 million people in the USA.  So five million is a lot, but it is less than two percent of the population.

Now that figure doesn't tell us how many have dementia.  Remember that dementia is the set of symptoms.  You can think of dementia as the umbrella of symptoms.  Under those symptoms are many reasons, diagnoses, or folders.   Debbie Selsalvage says the folder under the umbrella with the most papers in it (people or cases) is Alzheimer's Disease.  

There are many, many causes of dementia symptoms.  Some of them are curable.  That is why it is good to get to the doctor if you or a loved one is showing symptoms.  Sometimes it is just a vitamin deficiency, a tumor, or a medication side affect.  

Speaking of Debbie Selsalvage, she is part of a fundraising effort for Dementia Education happening at the restaurant that I go to with my bike group every Saturday morning.



I am donating 10 paperback copies of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  I deliver them tomorrow when I go to buy my ticket(s).   I don't know if they will have a drawing and give them away or if they will sell them to raise more funds.



I haven't decided if I am buying more than one ticket.  I can think of a lot of people I would like to invite to go with me.  If you want to go and want me to pick up tickets for you, let me know.  I could meet you out front by the rooster.   

**********

I am not over it....  
What? you may ask.
The day George died.

Notice I didn't say, being a widow or missing George or George not being here.

I mean I think of those things and I am adjusting, but the biggest effort (and I talked with others who have this symptom) is getting my mind to not mull over the last days.  Some widows have lived wonderfully with their spouse for 50 years or more and still their thoughts loop and loop over the last weeks, days, hours.

Today I was having a busy and great day.  It still is a busy and great day.  At 6 p.m. after a warm and sweaty and active day I decided I needed to shower.  I showered just fine in the master bath.  

Afterward, on my way walking through the master bedroom I remembered him lying on the floor there unable to move.   I quickly made the effort to change the subject in my mind.  I don't need to go there again.  We had 41 years of memories.  I don't need to replay that one.

I do well with the mind switch.  Right after he passed, the thoughts looped obsessively.  It is like a worry loop only looking at the past instead of the future.  I was trying to think of what I could have done differently in those last hours.  I think this might be a traumatic-event symptom of the brain.

I had to make the effort to stop those thoughts.  Logically I told myself I was a loving wife and cared for him well.  I could continue to torture myself with those images and thoughts or I could re-direct to something more positive. 

In my long life I have read and practiced positive thinking and thought re-direction.  So I created a fun image that I could think about whenever I caught myself heading down that same thought path. 

Want to know the image I created?  Doesn't really matter, just make up an image or remember a nice one from the past.  Something that gets you to smile... puppies playing, babies laughing, a pretty scene.

OK, twist my arm!  I will tell you the image I created.  I call her Bertha.  She is a large busty woman in a low-cut, tight-fitting, teal gown with glittery sequins.  She is leaning toward me and shaking her finger at me and saying, "Oh no, girl!  You ain't goin' there!"

So Bertha and I interupted my thought loop again and again and again.  Now the switch happens so often and so fast that it takes less effort.  And sometimes it doesn't even take Bertha!  But it still takes a little effort.

So....

I don't sleep in the master bedroom yet. I sleep upstairs.  As we fall asleep we relax, our guard falls away.

Shortly after George passed, I slept in the master bedroom with no problem.  I slept on the floor in a different part of the room.  That was when there was not a bed in the room... just fresh carpet and paint.

When the bed was put back into the room, it had to be placed in the same location.  It is a different bed, but it is the same size and the only wall it fits on is the location it was in that last day.

It has been well over a year since George has passed. It still takes effort.

I wanted to share that experience in case anyone out there is experiencing the guilt, the what-ifs, the horrible images of a trauma.  If you want Bertha, she's available.

*********

 OK, now for the mind and body all over the place stuff.

Audio Book


I have approved and submitted the first audio book, Alzheimer's Trippin' with George, to Amazons audio book division (ACX.com).   As I have told you before the narrator, Robin Siegerman, added so much fun to the book!  She is great!  Did you listen to the sample yet?

ACX said it takes 14 business days to go through a book and if there are no problems they release it.  Only it seems like this has been so much longer than 14 days.  I keep checking to see if it is released yet.  Today I wrote them an email.

In the meantime I am working on a press release, gathering emails of editors and reporters who might find it news-worthy.



The Journey Continues

I am preparing for the launch of the second book, The Journey Continues.

The editor I hired, Patrick Hartnett, has completed his work.  So now I get to take his edits that he made to the audio script and put them into the Kindle version.  DONE!

Since the Kindle version has colored pictures and the paperback version had black and white photos, I am now going through the paperback adding the edits.

In the meantime the voice actor, Candace Tuttle, is working on recording the book.  My goal is to have it all done by the launch date, December 4th.

Candace wrote to me yesterday, "I'm enjoying the story and your attitude through all of it.  I can't believe how active you stayed through such draining times!  And I laughed about the lady's dad who got his walker stuck in the bathroom!!"

Which reminds me that this blast of activity with the books and life is an on-going thing with me.  It is the energy of care-giving re-directed.

The official launch of The Journey Continues will also involve press releases, a celebration (just coffee and a reading) at Cattle Dog both here in Inverness and one on December 6th in the Tampa area, Social media images and blasts.  More info on that coming in a future post.

And I just put together a Launch Leader Team on Facebook to help me spread the word when time comes and help me keep my thoughts clear.  I feel there is too much to do and too little time.  I can use some clear minds of some talented fans to help me launch successfully.  If you would like to add your talent and enthusiasm to the team, private message me on Facebook:  Susan Straley.

Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders

I do the newsletter and schedule for the Withlacoochee Bicycle Riders.  I got up this morning and thought I better check the schedule so I can remind folks when our ride start time changes.  I send everyone the schedule at the beginning of the season, but no one remembers to write stuff into their calendar... including me.  I learned that our ride start time changes today.

I quick had to get an email out to the group.  And as I was doing that I realized I have not reminded people of the upcoming special rides for November.  So I had to put that newsletter together and send it out the committee for review and approval.

All that before jumping on the trike to go ride with some of our riders for a shorter ride because I had an appointment with a health-insurance agent in the afternoon.


Body Moving

It seems as we age we need to keep moving in order to... well, keep moving.

I am just thinking that there are still parts of my body I am neglecting as I do all this other exercise.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I still ride my trike with the bike group.  

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I go to the clubhouse and meet up with my friends in the neighborhood.  We do high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) for about 20-30 minutes and then yoga.  

After that I really need to work my bones, so I have to get to the gym at least twice a week to lift weights.  Somewhere in there I am supposed to walk for the old bones too.  That doesn't happen as much, except to walk the three blocks to the mailboxes in the neighborhood. 

If you aren't moving around, here are the simple exercises I did with George to keep him ambulatory.  At least try to do these.



 

Life

Did I tell you that my traveling is done until the spring?  I was going to fly my trike to Arizona but the people I was going to visit had some medical stuff going on so I canceled my flight.  I have a credit sitting at Southwest Airline until July.  So I am going somewhere, maybe still flying my trike to Arizona.

I am glad to be here in one spot.  So much to do, so little time. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

I Did It! It Was Wonderful.

Hello Friends and Folks Trippin' with me!

It is Monday, October 21, 2019.  I am writing this from the relatively cool patio of my home in Inverness.  The windows are open, the fan is going, I am in my space in my place.  Tired and happy to be here.

There are no ants crawling up my leg, no fellow campers playing country music.

Last I wrote to you I was at the McDonald's in the early morning on Friday.  I was tired of being hot and disappointed with my beach snorkel experience at John Pennekamp State Park.  The park is known for it's reef and snorkel experience. I found the water murky and once the water got deep I could see nothing but the murk in front of me.  I got scared.

I would swim back to where I could see the bottom, and then try again.  Maybe it was the slant of the sun, I thought.   But each time I saw nothing and the fear that something big might appear, was too scary.  I gave up.

I was tired of waking up in the night with no breeze and feeling over-heated.  I was debating going home.

After I left McDonald's I went back to camp and I took my shelter down.  I had enough shade and the shelter doesn't provide much protection from rain.  I was simplifying.

It seemed too hot to kayak.  I had said I would kayak with Mary.  Mary is the only other Sister on the Fly at this event that was not diving but was going to snorkel.   She is real nice and I enjoy chatting with her and her mother Jean.  Jean was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago.  She is in a research project and the disease seems to be moving so much slower, if at all, in her than it did with George.  Everyone is different.

This is Jean and I.


There are many kayak paths among the mangroves in John Pennekamp.  Last night one of the Sisters told me to be sure to use bug spray.  The idea of kayaking in thick mangroves with bugs didn't appeal to me on this hot day.

Mary stopped at my camp and said she was heading out to kayak.  She said the weather report for tomorrow, the day we had paid ahead of time to go by boat to a reef to snorkel, was predicting rain and winds. 

I said I was tired of waiting in anticipation.  I came here to snorkel and then it might get canceled.  I just wanted to go.  She felt the same way.  She said she would see if we could book a snorkel trip this very afternoon. 

And she did it!  Thank you, Mary!

In the picture below, Mary is the tall one in the middle.  Gail, on the left, organized the Sister event.  Debbie, on the right, agreed to let me share her campsite because my site was only available for two nights.  I will be moving to her site later this weekend.



Thanks to Mary, my day was looking brighter.  We were scheduled to get on the boat at 3:00 this afternoon.  I had time to go for a ride!  Mary was fine going by herself in the Kayak. 

I felt so much better once I started riding.  The whine of the morning lifted.  The breeze that I created by riding felt great, and there was plenty of shade on the trail that goes along Highway 1. 



I don't know how far I rode.  I don't have a speedometer on my trike anymore. 

I stopped at a grocery store and bought a bag of salad to take back to camp for lunch.


I had enough time before the boat trip to work a bit on incorporating the edits to my second book: The Journey Continues

Just as I had myself set up to work, Debbie came over.  She had been on a dive this morning and she just got back and said I could move into her campsite now.



OH!  It was after 2:00 and I had forgotten this was the day I was moving from my own camp site to her site.

For those of you who have not camped in Florida you may not know how booked the best campgrounds can get.  Some campgrounds, especially in winter, have to be booked way in advance.  In fact some fill up with reservations within hours or even minutes of opening up for reservations eleven months in advance. 

I rushed to put my computer back in the car and drive my van over to her site which was only down a few sites. 

I rolled my trike over to her site. 

I tried carrying my tent cot by myself over to her site, but I ended up dragging it.  Making a loud scraping noise until Debbie came to help me carry it.

It was time!  It was time to get ready to go snorkel.  I planned to ride my trike over.  The dive shop was right across Highway 1 from our campground.  Mary was driving her truck over.

I used a bungee cord to attach the flippers to my bike rack. 

When I was pulling into the lot of the Sundiver shop, I heard a ping.  I wondered if I had run over something.  But it wasn't that, what had happened is somehow the bungee came loose and wrapped around my back wheel hub.  It took me a while to get it untangled.




I was surprised to learn that we don't launch from this location.  Fortunately Mary was there with her truck and I was able to ride with her several miles up the road to the boat launch site.


I bought a pair of sunglasses at Sundiver.  They fit over my prescription glasses just fine.


I was hoping the water would be clear so I could see and not be terrified.  When the captain slowed the boat to park I looked down and the water was aquarium clear.  I could see the bottom easily from in the boat.  I was thrilled!

I followed the other snorkelers and slid off the boat.  Just as Gail taught me, I relaxed face-down and began the breath and stroke my way in the direction the captain had told us to go.  I was floating and bobbing in the gentle waves high over the sandy bottom.  It was lovely!  I floated over some purple and green fern-like things waving up at me from the bottom. 

I peeked up and looked for Mary.  I spotted her.  She asked if I saw anything. 

"Just a purple thing," I said.

"I saw a purple thing and a green thing," she said. 

I went back to floating and replayed that conversation in my head and started laughing.  Can't do that, water will get into your snorkel.  You have too keep you lips sealed over the tube.  I tried not to smile, but I was soaring.

Then I heard Mary shout at me, "Sue!  Over here!  It's amazing!" 

I moved toward her and the other snorkelers.  There is was, the reef.  It was like floating in an aquarium watching the fish from above...  four-eyed butterfly fish, angel fish, and parrot fish.

Here is a website with some pictures of the fish I saw.

I was afraid to take my camera/phone into the water, so I don't have any pictures to show you.

I wouldn't have been able to name any of them, except that Gail had us watch a video and then quizzed us.  I could hear the parrot fish as they take their beaks and chomp off bits of corral.  I saw them poop out sand just like in the movie.

We had a whole hour of floating and watching the fish.  I was starting to get cold and my throat (with all the mindful breathing) was getting dry.  I was just ready to get back on the boat when the hour was over and I saw I was one of the last to return to the boat.

 


I was elated!  YAY!  I did it!  I DID IT! 

And guess what... no jellyfish, no stingrays, no sharks.  I did it!  And it was the best!  I probably won't ever do it again, but that is OK.  I am so glad we had arranged to do it a day early.

I told Mary, "I am going to shower, make a chili dip and bring it and chips and my beer over to your campsite tonight and hang out with you." 

As I said it, I thought I should have phrased that as a question.  But hey, we are Sisters and we are here not just to snorkel but to socialize.

I had a lovely evening hanging out with Mary and Jean.  I sprayed myself with 40% Deet.  I still got bit, but not more than six times.

We checked the weather again.  Rain and wind predicted.  I have done what I came for.  Though I paid for Saturday's Dive and Dinner, I just am ready to return home.  I am tired of trying to sleep in the heat. 

I saw on the South Florida Recumbent Riders Facebook page that Will Byers is going to be biking with trike riders in Davie, Florida on Saturday.  I look on the map.  It is right on my way home.  If I get going first thing in the morning I can get there in time to ride with them at 8:30 a.m.

In the dark in my tent-cot I text Gail, the event leader and let her know I am heading out first thing in the morning. 

She is gracious.  I feel bad about bowing out.  She worked so hard on getting everything organized and so many Sisters canceled before the event.  Some just not showing up.   Then I get here and leave early.  She was so pleased to learn that I had gotten out to snorkel and that I had a great time. 

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

Biking in Davie, FL

I couldn't sleep.  Again is was very hot and there was the prediction of storms in the night.  I put on the rain fly, which cut the breeze.  I got up and took it off, but still it was hot.   I finally got up at 3:30, showered, and packed up and left by 4:30.

It rained on and off all the way to Davie.

I arrived early at the Burger King in Davie where the South Florida Recumbent Riders were supposed to meet for the ride.  I took a short nap in the drivers seat, with the windows up.  With the rain and cloud-cover the car stayed comfortably cool.  I wonder if I could sleep in the car on hot nights... run the air a while and then sleep in the driver's seat.

The first one to arrive was Jane Weber!  I had hoped she would be joining the ride.  She had told me on the ride in the Everglades that she is work-camping at the KOA near Davie. 

I saw a tiara in her car and asked about it.  She had decorated a bike helmet with gems and a tiara.


 Jane is one of the younger ones biking with us.  She is part of Strokes on Spokes or something like that.  She had a stroke at a young age.  She is weak on one side, but is thrilled to have found recumbent tricycling so she can exercise and socialize.

Then Jim Mcrea arrived!  I had ridden with him in the Everglades too.  Then Will Byers and Marie arrived.  Hale hale the gangs all here!

I met Laura who was leading the ride and Steve (below) who took our group pictures and was the sweep.  That means he rode behind us all so we wouldn't get left behind if we needed to stop.  Thank you Laura and Steve!



 The route was on paths, roads, and sidewalks.  The scenery was always changing, we went through parks, along canals lined with large homes, and across a few bridges.

 





We did about 20 miles.  Then off we went our separate ways. 

Will's group will be visiting my neck of the woods in early November.  I promised to come visit them at their camp at Rainbow Springs and to join them for a ride on the Withlacoochee.

Driving Home

It was over four hours to get home.  I could easily drive all the way, but I had not gotten good sleep in a few nights and didn't want to push it.

As I drove I kept waffling back and forth.   
Yes, I am going all the way home.  
No, I am going to stop a treat myself to a nice night in a motel and take my time getting back on the road tomorrow.

I was wondering if I should stop and search for Bok Tower on the map.   I had never been and so many that have gone there tell me I should go.  The gardens are lovely, they say.

I remembered it being somewhere just north of Lake Okeechobee and I had just passed the lake with it's high levee.

I think I did stop, but then got distracted by a call or looking for a motel.  I pulled into a couple of motels, but they were either over $100 for the night or too grungy to be a treat to stay there.

Then I saw a sign for Bok Tower!

There was a Root Festival going on (whatever that is).  There were lots of plants for sale.
 

I bought a navel orange tree for my back yard.






I love this wall of air plants.  They are tied up with fishing wire and the spinners used on trike flags.






I send a message to Joyce who is staying at my house and watching over things for me. 

"I am coming home today."

Then...

"I have decided to get a motel.  I am tired."

And then...

I have changed my mind, I am pushing through.  I am one and a half hours way.

It is dark when I arrive in Inverness.  My phone beeps at me.  I glance over when I am at a stop sign.  It is from Joyce.  The combination lock on the house isn't working.  Joyce and Gail are locked out.

I didn't bring the key with me.  I didn't need it.  I am home and I am not able to enter.

I find Joyce and Gail slapping at bugs waiting for me.  The sun has gone down, the mosquitoes are biting and we can't get the door open.

"What about the back door," Joyce asks.

It is keyed to match the front door, and I don't have the key on me.  The key is in the house...   I look for my hidden key.  I did not change it after the new lock was installed.  The key doesn't work.

I use my iphone to google for a locksmith.  He said it is $75 for their services.  He said give him 45 minutes to arrive.


Gail, Joyce and I hide in the garage away from the bugs and we wait.  He works and works on the lock.  He tries the back door locks.  

"They usually just pop," he says.  Finally his boss checks on him and comes to help out.


It turns out these locks are very secure - pick-less.  He is going to have to drill through the lock.

Finally the door is open.  I am able to unload the essentials into the house.  A reasonable $122 included replacing the lock and selling me a combination box where I can keep a key just in case.

He said, "You need to change the batteries twice a year, do it around daylight savings time just like your smoke detectors."

I marked my calendar before I went to bed.

Though we got to bed past our bedtime, I slept well.  I was not able to sleep late.  My inner clock woke me up at 6 a.m.

Thank you ATC House Sitters!

I had posted on the Affordable Travel Club that I needed a house sitter for September and October.  Joyce stepped in a brought her friend Gail.  They have been clean, quiet, pleasant, and positive.  They even scrubbed my grungy coffee pot!


Joyce and Gail took me to dinner at Stumpknockers on Sunday night.  Thank you!

It was great to have a day at home to catch up on some stuff. 

I find out from my brother that his wife is in the hospital.  It would be best if I postponed my plan to fly to Arizona in November.  I am tired of traveling, though her pain is not good news, being home right now feels so right.

I canceled my flight.  I have a credit now that expires in July.  We will see what comes up.

I planted the orange tree, visited Anytime Fitness and chatted with my sister on the phone.  A great first day back.

Life is good.



Joy is a Choice

 Hello, I am glad I went to Jean's to help her with the paperwork.  She appreciated my efforts and she paid me!  There will be more work...