Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Natural Joy

Hello,

I hope your are doing well with your new routines.

A Morning Walk


This morning the birds were singing.  It was a lovely 52 degrees when I stepped out for my walk, my face-mask tucked into my pants pocket, my binoculars tucked under my arm. 

The trail that runs past our neighborhood is a state park and therefore is closed.  I have read it is scheduled to re-open on May 15th.  Breaking the rules, I walked down the trail because I had seen a nest of large white fluffy birds there the other day and I wanted to get a closer look with the binoculars.

I was alone on the trail and as I approached the lakes that boarder both sides of the trail in this area I was awed once more by the beauty.  A light swirling mist was rising up from the waters.

I suddenly missed George deeply.  I talked to him and told him so.  I also told him I was often glad he was gone.  At the same time I was appreciating the beauty I began to cry.  I told George I know how much he would also enjoy this walk and this scene.  He would also be excited to go get a closer look at the birds. 

I told him I missed sharing these moments with him.  I missed holding his hand and having him rub my back.   It was a lovely moment, really.  Missing him and imagining that his spirit still accompanied me on this outing.

I arrived at the place where I could observe the nest in a small cypress tree in the shallow waters.  The white birds have necks that move like Anhingas and when I got home I looked up Anhinga chicks and really think that is what they are.  I didn't see the parent today.

As I stepped away from viewing the chicks something large and silent swooped over the trail and landed on a branch over the pond on the opposite side of the trail.  I think it had found its sleeping perch for the day.  Its lids were heavy and it didn't move much.  I think it was a barred owl.

As I headed back home I saw a small possum next to the trail.  It's back legs sometimes giving out.  It must be sick that it didn't notice me as I walked by.  I took several pictures, none of them turned out.  I didn't want to crouch down or get closer,  I thought he might have rabies or distemper and I wanted to be able to move quickly if he started coming toward me.


Staying Positive During a Pandemic


It is Tuesday, April 28, 2020.  It took a while for me to figure out it was Tuesday since our days now don't have the normal structure that used to define our weeks.

If you spend much time looking at the news you will get frustrated, full of worry, and well just feel like crap!  So don't do it.   That's my advice, for what it is worth.

I suggest you step away and step out into nature.  And if you can't do that reach out to someone who is also isolated.

It also helps me to put these days in a historical context.





I don't know who to attribute this poem to but it is beautiful.  If you can't read it, I am re-writing it below.

This is Timeless...
And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed


The person that sent this to me also sent the information that pandemics come about every 100 years.

1720 - The Plague
1820 - Cholera
1920 - Spanish Flu
2020 - COVID19

The changes are just part of the ebb and the flow of life.

There was a time (and it may come to that yet) when wearing a face-mask was mandatory or go to jail.  I wear it when people are around, but when exercising I need to breath in fresh air and release the bad air.  So I try to keep away from people so I can breath freely when exercising.  

If you are still having a hard time with all the changes in your life, read this article from the Atlantic.

Weeroll Update

I called the campground in Wisconsin where I have reserved a seasonal site for the year.  The manager understandably is frustrated with the situation.  Wisconsin will be allowing campgrounds to open on May 15th, but the community areas such as the showers and the bar and grill must remain off limits.

She said she received my deposit but has not taken it to the bank yet because she is one of the vulnerable and isn't venturing out to the bank.

So now it is in MY hands.  Do I want to travel to a place without a shower, without gathering places like libraries and coffee shops where I can get good WiFi?

I am anxious to try out the Weeroll though.  I received my cot, the shelves and curtain rods are installed.








I am envisioning sleeping in the space with screens across the doors and the night breeze flowing over me.  I imaging peeking out at the star-lit sky.  I imagine sitting and walking with my sister (six feet away of course).

I also think that being that I am over 65 and being that I will be traveling over several days, that I would have to self-isolate when I get there for 14 days.  Yuk to that!  I imagine dealing with mosquitoes while I try to prepare my dinners outside or go for walks.

I have decided to wait until the lifting of restrictions has gone on for over 20 days and see if the new cases of COVID start increasing again.

In the meantime I will continue to work on getting my Weeroll ready... just in case.

Dodo Me


It was just in September or early October 2019 that I set down my purse and the wrong person picked it up and started using my bank card.  I was on my way home from Wisconsin and Indiana in a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The other day I went to the liquor store (yes, they are open as an essential business).  I was going to buy my friend that worked on the Weeroll some beer.  (That was my excuse.)

When I parked my car in the lot I pulled out my charge card and hid my purse.  I got out of the car and I saw an older man with a face mask that must have called in his order standing with the trunk of his car open.  A staff person was loading a case of something into his car and he showed her his drivers license.

"Oh!  I guess even old folks like us get carded here," I thought.  I better bring in my license just in case.  I reached into my car and retrieved my purse.  Still hanging onto my charge card.

I went in, grabbed a cart and placed my purse on the child's seat.   I zoomed down one aisle to the beer cooler and grabbed the beer, that zoomed down a different aisle to the check-out counter.  There were only about five customers in the whole store.

I paid with my charge card and went to my car, unloaded the beer and returned the cart.  Back at the car I noticed I didn't have my purse.
Was it hidden still?  No.
 Was it under the beer? No.
Was it in the back seat? No.
I dashed back in the store and checked the cart.  Nope.
I dashed down the aisles I had traveled, I looked in the hands of any customers I saw.  Nope.
I asked the clerk.  No.

Cuss words.  Hunt more in the car.  No.
Back again to retrace my steps.  No.
Ask a different clerk.  No.

Sigh.

I return home and start to make a call to the bank to report the missing bank card (at least I had my charge card!)

Then while I was making the call, in came a call and I decided to pick it up.  It was one of the clerks.  Someone had turned in my purse!  OH MY!  YAY!!!






When I posted a thank you on Facebook a friend said I was beginning to act like an old lady that keeps losing things.

Yes.

I have been instructed to put the dang strap (which it has) over my neck and shoulder.  If I did that it would be easy to keep it with me.  This is my new skill to practice... mindful purse carrying.

Writing?


I have started to gather data for book three, but I am mixed about what it will be about other than more memoir-journal-style ramblings.  It is hard to gather data when I don't even know what data will be useful.

In the meantime I will keep posting here, and as I tell my story,   I hope that you may find something to make you smile.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Refilling the Cup during COVID19

April 15, 2020

This is normally Tax Day.  But the government has pushed off Tax Day to July 15th.   What are you doing to celebrate not having to pay your taxes for a few more months?  Confetti Party?

Encouragement for Caregivers


AlzAuthors is an organization that provides networking and cross-promotion for authors who have written about dementia.  Many of the authors, like me, have written about their experience as a family caregiver.  Some are experts in the field and some have written books for children.  There is a wide variety of books.

This week I was invited to create a short video of encouragement and solidarity for caregivers dealing with even more stress during the COVID-19 stresses.

Here is what I sent them.






One day I was feeling teary... it is only natural with all the changes and worries we are facing.  I am sure most of us have our moments if not days.

I went to bed sad but told myself that it was ok to be sad but that the next morning I would do some things to refill my cup.  I had no idea what that was, but I have a few tricks that have worked for me in the past.

I woke up still sad.

That's ok, I told myself.  I massaged my cheeks upward to force my face into a smile.  Then I started thinking about who I can reach out to.  Who is having a rough time too and might appreciate a virtual or six-foot greeting.

Before the day was out I had set up four COVID-style happy hours.  Because we are in Florida we can gather in small groups at a distance outside.  So these happy hours are on people's driveways or on a shady patio.

COVID-Style means: 6 feet apart; chairs are cleaned or bring your own chair; fewer than 8 people; no snacks or drinks shared; no passing of dishes, phones or stuff;  no entering or passing through hosts home; bring your own beverage.

The gatherings usually last only two hours or less.  Time to connect and then our bladders or our hunger send us home.  

Blueberry Pickin' - COVID safe

My house-mate Carolyn and I rode our trikes yesterday down Hwy 44 to Floridas Best Blueberry Farm.  It was a blast.  There was a slight cloud cover protecting us from the full heat of the sun, the traffic was light, and the activity was wonderfully clean with wide spaces between people.

 Highway 44 has a sidewalk for about the first three miles heading east of Inverness.

 It was nice to see things up close, places I normally see while speeding by in a car at 55 miles per hour.


 I had read in the Citrus Chronicle about the coming of an RV park along Hwy 44 near Inverness.  Now there are signs up.

 The shoulder was roomy enough for three wheels and the traffic was lighter than normal.

 About the last quarter mile of the road into the farm was loose sand.

Even the grassy areas the sand was loose and we could hardly get traction.  So we locked our trikes and walked the rest of the way into the farm.


 When we arrived at the gate there was a sign with instructions on COVID safety.  There were hand washing stations, then the clean buckets and bags.  When we were done  there was a big vat of disinfectant water where we were to place the bucket.  Any cash payment we were to place in bucket with disinfectant also.

There were many many rows of berry bushes.  Lots of room for us pickers to spread out.


 I picked two buckets full.


While I was picking I heard familiar voices.  I looked up and there was my former neighbor Sara (on the right in pink).  With Sara was Wilma and Wilma's niece.   They are a little closer than social distancing rules allow for the picture.  Wilma's husband of 70 years passed away recently so closer proximity is needed right now.  Wilma and Hesh were our adoptive second parents when we lived in their neighborhood.  We spent many hours playing cards and chatting with them.

I wanted to step in and hug too, but real hugs will have to wait.


Book III

I have started... just started to gather information for a book about the time just before George's diagnosis.  A time when we rode our trikes from Northern Illinois to Florida.  It will be a while...



Weeroll Update


Whoo hoo!  A neighbor, Dave, is "stay-at-home" bored.  His wife is keeping him pretty busy with a to-do list.  But still he offered to help me with anything I needed on the Weeroll.  Isn't that fantastic???

Today we met and I showed him the trailer.  I had written out everything I wanted done.  He was good with it and offered to make me a table that will fold down out of the way as well as the counter in the front nose of the trailer.

I am excited to see what he does.  I am trying to keep it simple.  The less I have the less to maintain and the less weight to tow.

Another thing I want to do is remove far back seat of the van so I can lighten up and use the stow-n-go cubby hole for storage too.  But I have to think it through.  When I remove the seat, the floor of the van over the cubby hole disappears too.  I have to design an easy to lift and hold up lid for the cubby hole.

Well, I have time to think on it and plan.

Next time I post I may have pictures of the progress.  Until then, stay well and keep refilling your cup.



Friday, April 10, 2020

Bike, Clean, Happy Hour, Repeat...

4/8/2020

For years, on Tuesday evenings, a few of us that ride bike and live in our neighborhood would meet at the clubhouse and have a Happy Hour.  We would bring our own beverages and a snack to share.  There was always a lot of stories told and news to catch up on.

When social distancing was needed because of the COVID-19 virus, we stopped meeting at the club house.  Then a small group of us decided to continue with just the beverage, outside on one of our back patios, and plenty of distance between us.  It is just six of us catching up and sharing time with each other.  It is a special time, the conversation never lags into silence, there is always another story waiting in the wings for its chance to be told.

This Tuesday was my day to host on my back patio.  I cleaned up the patio and sprayed the furniture with bleach water.  It looks nicer now than it has in months!  I like that part of having company over, we get to enjoy a nicer, cleaner looking space for awhile.

Mari arrived first.  She is also in my neighborhood book club.  The book we are reading this month is one that I chose.  I loved it when I first read it years ago.  This time I listened to it on audio and loved it again.

Haven Kimmel is the author of A Girl Named Zippy.  I am amazed at her writing of her early years growing up.  She writes in the voice of her 4, 6 or 8 year old self.  Mischievous,  creative, simple... you know the saying... kids will tell it like it is.... no filter.  And that is how the little Haven Kimmel is.  The result is a joyous fun read.

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Named-Zippy-Growing-Mooreland/dp/B000N3AO4G/


Mari said she was listening to the book and she thought that Haven Kimmel writes just like me!  Wow!  What a compliment!  My heart skipped!  Thank you Mari for sharing that sentiment!  My head is so big now I can hardly sit upright!

https://www.amazon.com/Alzheimers-Trippin-George-Diagnosis-Discovery/dp/B07ZQCZ8RN/

While I was still beaming and patting my chest, Margaret and Zip arrived.  Both in their 80's they looked great and reported they had biked 50 miles that day.  How can I not be inspired surrounded by strong, up-beat, and active people?

I don't have a speedometer on my trike anymore.  So I don't know how far I have ridden lately.  I know the last time I did a long ride was on my way home from my attempt to fly my trike and me to Wisconsin.  That was a bit over 80 miles in July 2019.  I don't think I have ridden over 40 in a single day since then!

I got a flat tire yesterday so I didn't ride more than a few miles.

As I was strolling the neighborhood later that day, my neighbor and fellow yoga practitioner, Marilyn waved me over to chat on her back patio.  Her husband Dave was there and asked about my Weeroll.

"Do you need anything done?" he asked.

He explained that he likes to build things and he was going a little nuts being stuck at home due to the COVID restrictions.

"Oh?" I asked feeling my heart pump faster, ("Be still my heart.")  I almost jumped out of my seat.  "I need some shelves and a counter... but you would have to go out shopping..."

He nodded but didn't seem deterred.  So I told him I was thrilled with the offer and I would draw something up.  I was very happy!

I went right away and took measurements.  The next day I drew up a counter with shelves under it for the front nose of the Weeroll.  I actually wore my mask to do the writing so I wouldn't breath on the paper.  I then disinfected some cash to give to him to shop for supplies.   I texted Marilyn to see if he was home... I wanted to deliver it before he got another "job".   Ahh, too late... Marilyn said he was busy this week fixing their bathroom.  But my project was next on his list.  I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

One day this week I went to the bike shop to get a 20" tire for my trike.  I had gotten a flat and could see the tires was worn and it was time for a new one.

YES, (I know you are wondering,some may be shouting "stay at home!") I did use hand sanitizer and my face mask.  The shop has a large bright-pink sign in the door.  Call for an appointment it says and it explains that they can not have more than two customers in the store at a time.  I called on my cell while standing right outside.  They had no customers inside so I got right in.

Sherry who owns the store and got my tire for me said that people from the Tampa Bay area were calling wanting to ride the Withlacoochee Trail because they are "bored with their Pinellas Trail".  They are often looking to use her bathroom, she tells them no. 

The time in the store was very short and Sherry pointed to the hand-sanitizer right by the door to use on my way out.  Thank you Inverness Bike and Fitness!

I hoped to put the tire on and go for a little ride the next day.

I was doing well changing the tire but I could not get the last little bit of the tire over the rim.  I pushed and pulled and twisted and used tire tools.  No luck.  I went over and knocked on my next-door-neighbor's door.   Jerry, came over and he pushed and pulled and twisted and grunted and strained.  FINALLY it popped over the rim.  Wow!  I hope he didn't pop something in the fight.

The COVID Numbers

For those of you that are TIRED so tired of the COVID19 news... skip this section and jump ahead to the gratitude section.

Today is April 10, 2020 and those in the future may be wondering where we are in the pandemic right now.  They will know how it went, but we here in the midst of it, we have no idea.  Scientists are saying it will take a long time because we really either need to all get it or we need to create, manufacture, and distribute vaccines.  Politicians are saying by May, by June, we will be going back to restaurants and stores. 

So far I don't know anyone who has it... that I know of.  Except some famous people.  John Prine wrote a lot of songs and died from COVID this week. This info comes from the Worldmeterinfo.com

World Cases 1,687,857
World deaths 102, 198

US Cases 495,750
US Deaths  18,430

Deaths per million in the US  56.
Testing per million in the US 7,583

Just out of curiosity, how does that compare to other countries?


Deaths per million in Italy 312
Testing per million in Italy 14,999

Deaths per million in India  .2
Testing per million in India 137

Deaths per million in Netherlands 147
Testing per million in Netherlands 5,926

What this all means, I dunno, do you?

The stay at home order for 65 and older now asks that all of us wear face masks when we are out.  The lawyers of course have told the Board of Directors of our HOA to close the pool and the clubhouse.  Now my house-mate Carolyn can't practice piano which she has done at the clubhouse every day.  And our fun little (and safe) yoga group of 4 of us can't do yoga together at the club house.  I was feeling very fortunate to be able to gather at the pool (social distancing) and do the yoga.

Now I will find many other things to be grateful for.

Creativity

It is fun to see the amount of creativity coming from the stay at home order.  People are making face masks and getting creative about it.

My friend Mark in Waukesha has decided to take a picture a day and send it out to his friends.  Sometimes with just a short sentence, sometimes a whole narration.   I love it, distraction, and a focus on the beauty and fun in the world.

A fellow author and friend, Kathie Heimsoth wrote a COVID song and got our friend Regis Hampton to put it to music for her.   The video quality isn't that great, but the sound comes through good.  I love that they worked together to get this done!



I have been finding videos on Youtube that I love and sending the link to my sister or Facebook.  One has a six year old girl giving tips.  One of her tips is to crawl around the house on your stomach like a caterpillar.  She demonstrates.   Yes, I wanna do that!

Gratitude Corner

My sister (who I am extremely grateful for) sent me a list she had.  for 30 days, each day, there is a prompt to think of something to be grateful for.  For example I am on day three and it says, "A food that you love."

Oh my! I could go on an on and on! 

Top of the list is dark-chocolate with peanut butter.  But then there is good pizza, veggies with pesto, ice cream, smoothies,  cowboy cookies.  I bet you can think of many too.  What a bounty of things to be grateful for.

I am grateful for my neighbors.

Thank goodness the "Shutter-in-place" order allows walks and bike rides and hunting and fishing and boating as long as you keep your social distance of six feet.

Today I saw three Swallow-tail Kite Hawks all floating over the retention pond behind my house.  I saw a humming bird for the first time at my corral-something-or-other flowering vine that I planted last year.  I am grateful for cool breezes that come in my window.  I am grateful for mornings walks filled with bird songs.

I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Connie being grateful for her husband of many years.  Though it wasn't always easy she said she is so glad to have the rich accepting love of someone who has seen all sides of her and accepts and cherishes her.  Sweet!   Yes, long and trusting relationships enrich us and make us better people.  I am grateful for my time with George and for this time after George.

I am grateful for the people who love me with all my pimples and warts and quirks.  I am grateful to be surrounded by love-able and inspiring people.   

What are you grateful for today?

Oh!  And All Authors site sent me a nice mock-up of my book for Easter.



HAPPY EASTER!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Watching the Curve... What are you doing?

April 6, 2020

Each night I sit in my bed and write down the numbers in my diary.

Last night it was:
World Cases  1,272,860
World Deaths   69,424
US Cases  336,673
US Deaths  9,616
Florida Cases  12,350
Florida Deaths  221
Citrus County Cases  43
Citrus County Deaths 2

I look back and compare from a day or two ago trying to grasp and get my mind around it all and trying to see the bigger picture.

Then I write down the things that I am grateful for that day.  Because it's all kind of scary, isn't it?

I am grateful for blue sky, and butterflies.  I am grateful for conversations with friends.  I saw a humming bird today in the front garden.  I am grateful for the rain.

I am grateful for farmers and grocery store clerks and truck drivers.  They are still working and exposing themselves and when they return home, the expose their families to possible infection.

Since I last wrote the Governor of Florida issued a shutter-in-place order.  We are only to go out for a walk or bike ride, get groceries, go to the pharmacy.  All "non-essential" businesses are closed.  I think bike shops are essential because they are still open.  Some are reporting an increase in bicycle sales.

On April 3rd I received my first home delivery of groceries.  I had ordered the groceries from Publix online on Sunday and the soonest they could be delivered was Wednesday. 

I then set up a table to clean everything before I brought it into the house.

Here is a video of a doctor explaining the cleaning process.

And a nurse explaining how cross-contamination can spread the virus.

The future might look back on these days and wonder why we were such filthy folks.

"Do you mean they brought their groceries into their homes without washing them first?" they might ask, eyes wide in disbelief.

I had the grocery-delivery woman leave the groceries on the porch.  She had to see my license so she stepped back and I laid the license on the porch and stepped back.  She stepped forward and scanned it into her phone.  Then she stepped back and had me flip the license so she could see the back.  Always staying at least 3-6 feet away from each other.  The new COVID dance.





Maybe those in the future will wonder why we walked around with our faces naked to all those germs out there...

Yes, the CDC is now recommending that we all wear face masks when we have to be in the public.  They are finding that the droplets we exhale can stay in the air and able to infect others for up to three hours.

My neighbor, Carol, posted on our neighborhood Facebook page that she had made some masks for folks and I raised my virtual hand, "yes! I want one!  Purple if you got it."

She delivered mine last night and I had to have her leave it in a box by my porch.  No contact, six feet of separation from others and wash it before I use it.



I like the mask.  It's pretty!



Maybe we are on the cusp of a huge cultural shift.  And maybe it won't just be about sanitation or face masks.

I have seen a huge amount of creative videos on YouTube lately.  Singles, Couples, and whole families re-writing songs with lyrics addressing the new situation we find ourselves in.  Just go to Youtube and search for "Covid song" and you will get a long list of suggestions.

A family with four children performed a song from Les Miserables.


And I have read about engineers putting their minds to solving the need for more ventilators for COVID-19 patients.  One team I read about has created a working ventilator out of existing items like a blood-pressure cuff, and things you would find in a hardware store.  The FDA has promised to speed up the approval process for items that could be of help during this crisis.

My old neighborhood, Stoneridge Landing, has gotten creative and twice a week at a designated time they go out with their golf-carts and bicycles, and dog walkers and do a COVID-Cruise around the neighborhood.  Those that want set out their chairs and wave to the passers.  It is a great way to connect while staying safe.  They have decorated their carts for a Christmas theme and this week they are decorating for Easter.

I saw in the news that one neighborhood was all stepping out to music every evening and dancing.  Just one or two songs, just a quick, "here we are and we are OK" fun way to check in with each other.


Weeroll Camper News

Debra emailed me.  She had made reservations for Anastasia State Park (near St. Augustine, FL) for camping four nights in late March 2021.   I followed suit and made a reservation.  Then I wondered if we will be out of this crisis by then.  Will we still be waiting for a vaccine?   The only way I see this ending is we find a vaccine or we all get it and either grow immunity or die. 

The shutter-in-place strategy is trying to buy time so that the hospitals can have enough ventilators and equipment and staff to deal with the number of cases.

I then felt guilty about spending the money to make the reservation.  I vowed to donate an equal amount to help those struggling financially through this.

I spent an hour or two one cooler afternoon fixing the door screen on the Weeroll.  I am gluing steel washers below the door threshold and then sewing magnets into the hem of the screen.   I need about four more small magnets.



I was hoping to use those fridge magnets.  I have several of them, but they are not strong enough to hold the screen to the washers.

Bill, my friend that gave me the 12 volt battery wrote to me after my last post and told me that I should fasten the battery box to the tool box and then put the battery in the box.  He also told me to fasten everything down in the trailer.   Since it doesn't have shocks, like an RV, things will bounce around a lot.  So I have to keep that in mind as I decorate the trailer, I knew I was going to have to put in D hooks to strap down things. I will have to keep that in mind.  Thanks again, Bill!


Writing, Riding, Socializing

Some writers are really getting a lot of writing done during this safer-at-home time.  That is not me.

My books were selling at an OK clip until about a week ago.  Then the sales just stopped.  I know that if I publish another book it will help, but the commitment isn't there.  Just call me "Wishy-washy Suzy".

What are you doing?  

I bet you are doing great things.  I bet you are sewing facemasks or delivering meals or helping elder folks use Zoom or Facetime to visit their family or friends.

 Not me.  I am: calling and Face-timing friends; going to the pool because we can space ourselves out and chat; driving 40 minutes to Brooksville to ride a trail there; washing my hands; cleaning surfaces; and checking the news.  

Speaking of Brooksville.  I rode the streets from there to go feed the goats.  They were anxious for good veggie scraps, I could tell.


 Sometimes I will post on Facebook a bit of news that I think is reliable and good information.  Then I spend time responding to comments.  Sometimes I have to take the post down because it turned out to either be partially false when I checked on Snopes.com or it was causing too much political defense from both sides of the aisle.   We are walking a narrow line on Facebook these days.  No wonder so many people just post puppy videos. 

Glen and Debra and I set out to ride Turner Camp Road to the end the other day.  But the traffic was a bit too much for Debra and she turned around.  Glen and I went to the end and stopped at Potts Preserve.  The ranger was there and he told me I could bike in to use the toilet.  I think it is open for hiking, but I won't do that alone.  Anyone have good GPS and want to go for a hike?  6 feet of separation, of course. 

Potts preserve is where George and I got lost on the trails and ended up spending the night on the trail in February of 2016.   I will remember to take my cell phone this time and to let others know when and where I am going.

 



On my way to Brooksville I stopped at McDonald's and got a sandwich from the drive-up window.  It was my first time doing take-out since the "safer-at-home" efforts.  I learned that McDonald's is now delivering!  Wow.

I tipped the cashier... I have never done that at McDonald's before.  Strange times.

Stay safe... and let me know what you are doing these days.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Riding up the COVID Bell Curve as Best We Can

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The surreal situation, we are now living through a pandemic that has:

  • Put millions of people out of work because businesses have been closed;
  • Overwhelmed medical hospitals as they try to keep their staff healthy while testing and treating those sick with this highly contagious illness; (There is not enough protective equipment.)
  • Orders coming over our cell phones telling everyone 65 and older to stay home!  Shutter in place, don't go out unless it is essential; What is considered essential is grocery trips, pharmacy trips, and exercise in the fresh air.
Thank goodness we can go outside and exercise!

This amount of allowed (or recommended) activity is so much MORE freedom of movement than what Ann Frank experienced.  Ann Frank and her family were stuck inside in an attic hiding from the Nazis for 470 days.

And they had to do it quietly.  

For us today, there are no enforcement of the shelter-in-place recommendations, just civic duty.  Of course, we are all different and some don't have a civic-duty part of the brain.  There are a few that were probably dropped on their head when they were kids.

I have now been seeing signs like this around.  "Wash Your Hands" and "Cover Your Cough".

 The other day a few of us neighbors were spread out chatting around the mailboxes.  I was sitting on my trike at least 8 feet from anyone.  I sneezed into my elbow (I am glad that time I remembered the elbow and not the hand... that isn't always the case).   Everyone looked nervous as I apologized.  Then one of the others coughed a deep full cough.

Oh, ya, time to go.  I rolled away.  Don't know if a breeze can carry that virus further than six feet.  Ha ha.  All in good fun, but we have to be careful.
 
We get to exercise which is great for both our physical and emotional health.

We miss having the Withlacoochee Trail open.  But we are seeing people on the trail.  In fact yesterday there was a front page picture of a couple walking on the trail right past the "Trail Closed" sign.  There are stories by some bikers of being kicked off the trail by the park Ranger.  But others say they have been riding every day and not been told to get off the trail.

Many in our bike group have started driving down to Brooksville to ride the Good Neighbor Trail. It is a 10-mile paved county park and has remained open.  They closed up the bathrooms but, thank you very much, have provided a porta-potty with hand sanitizer in it.


My friends Margaret and Zip and I rode the Good Neighbor trail and then had our picnics with a wide gap between us... social distancing is an important part of stopping the spread of the virus.

We had a great time and saw several other Withlacoochee Riders on the trail including my next-door neighbors, Mari and Jerry.

Our neighborhood pool is still open.  We keep our distance but are able to cool off and chat.  I think that if someone in our neighborhood contracts the virus the board will decide to close down the pool and clubhouse.  But for now, we socialize but at a distance.

So even in the early parts of the pandemic, when tears sometimes hover close to the surface, I am feeling fortunate and enjoying life.

Pandemic Update

I found an VERY interesting and telling chart on the CDC website about the number of cases in the United States and it's territories.    If you go to this site and scroll down you will see a chart that starts with 1/12/2020 and zero cases.  Then 1/13/2020 and zero cases.  As you scroll two cases are found, then it stays at that for a long time and then a little more and a little more and then it starts to jump, big numbers, bigger jumps, every day.

That is exponential growth.

When numbers are going up the steep side of the bell curve we don't know when it will start leveling off.  We are on this side of history.

I have taken to writing the number of cases in the US and the number of deaths on my calendar.  Yesterday it was 103,321 cases and 1,668 deaths.  Today it was reported 122,653 cases and 2,112 deaths.


WeeRoll Progress

This morning while the dew was still on everything, I went down to the corral where my Weeroll is parked.

 My friends, Bill and Christine, gave me a battery they no longer used.  I don't know what I will use it for, I don't expect I will be camping without power the first year... at least not in my plans, but who knows, maybe I will use parking lots in my travels and will need a way to charge my phone.

Bill also gave me the case for the battery.  Do I need to store the battery in the case?


I had borrowed a cordless drill from my friend Regis.  I drilled a hole in the bottom of the attached tool box so I can run the DC wires from under the Weeroll up to the battery.

 I had bought a bunch of curtain rods and I was going to hang them while I had the drill.  But then... I just didn't want to put all those holes in the wall.  I mean, what if I change my mind?  I have been known to change my mind a few times. 

What if I decide to velcro on a curtain?  I can use command hooks with the strong tape, can't I?

I put the drill away.

Next I hung my magnetic door screen.

The top and sides stick to the wall with velcro.  The middle strip is held together with magnets for an easy in and out.

 The screen is way too long.  I am thinking I will glue a metal (stainless steel) strip to the aluminum threshold and hem some magnets in the bottom of the screen.


After that I cleaned up some plastic three-drawer cabinets that I got for free.

I grabbed the bag of veggie scraps I have been saving.  Since I was driving 8 miles down to Floral City to return the drill to Regis, I might as well just keep going to Townsen park near Istachatah.  From there I would walk maybe 1/2 a mile to where the goats are by the Withlacoochee Trail.


They like the collard green stems and banana peels, but don't like watermelon skin.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Surreal Living In the Beginning of COVID-19

It is March 26, 2020

Hello!

I hope you are well and finding ways to stay mentally healthy.  We are social creatures and isolation and distancing are both un-natural and uncomfortable.

I found a song on Youtube that was supposed to be funny, but made me sad. "All by myself, don't wanna be all by myself anymore..."

Those of us that are retired are feeling very fortunate to not be depending on a wage right now, with many businesses closed for a period of social distancing in an effort to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

I woke up this morning having another difficult night trying to sleep.  My shoulders hurt because they are used to heavy lifting at the gym, I think.  Or maybe they hurt from the lack of giving hugs and getting hugs.  This social distancing is physically difficult for those not living with family or pets.

When I descend the stairs to start the coffee, I can sense my tears are ready to erupt.  This is a feeling I am very familiar with, these un-shed tears were often present when I was experiencing the slow loss of George to dementia.

We are all experiencing loss of the life we knew just a month or two ago.  I was doing ok until they closed the Withlacoochee Trail.  Now, disconnected from so many of my friends, and my schedule of regular rides disrupted, the change this pandemic has placed on so many lives is finally touching me a little.  I am so fortunate, but I can still grieve over the changes we are all facing.

Promoting my Alzheimer's books seems silly now.  Though I know they could provide someone with entertainment and a caregiver with comfort and reassurance.

I spend a little time each day on twitter and there are several Alzhiemer's Caregivers and former Caregivers that provide support to each other.  Some are authors like me, some are pod-casters.  Jennifer Fink contacted me this week to arrange a short interview via Zoom.  She wanted to gather ideas and just empathy for all the caregivers and family members out there who are trying to keep their loved-one with dementia safe from COVID-19.  Some of them have their loved one in a facility and are locked out of that facility, unable to visit.

Jennifer's mother is in a home and has already forgotten Jennifer is her daughter, but she remembers she is the nice woman that comes to visit.  That bit of memory will most likely be gone by the time Jennifer gets to see her mom again.  And Jennifer really REALLY wants to just be able to go in and hold her mom's hand.  She worries that her mom will die before she gets to see her again... that she will essentially die alone.

ARG!!!  It is all so depressing!

So you know what I do?

1) I look for funny songs and videos on Youtube in the evenings.

Feel free to share a favorite in the Susan Straley Writes Facebook group.  If you are not a member, just join and answer the questions.  A lot of people like to watch movies and TV shows, but I just can't get into it.  Ever since I had skin cancer in 1989 and realized my time in this life really IS limited, I stopped watching much TV and now most movies don't attract me either.

2) I go for walks and ride the streets.  

When I am walking I might see a neighbor I like and walk with them trying to keep six feet between us.  Six feet is the recommended distance to keep so you don't spread the virus.  Any of us that are feeling well could have the virus and not know it.  Even if we feel fine we need to keep our distance.  The virus is very contagious.

3) I vowed to not go to the store for a full week.

I thought I wasn't a shopper, but man, the grocery store is constantly calling to me... "Come, come now!  Our shelves are almost bare.  You know you would much rather have nachos and ice cream for supper instead of that left-over soup."

I cheated yesterday and ordered some nuts and dried fruits from Nuts.com .  I was going to order dried beans but all of us have become survivalists in the last month or two and all the dried beans are out of stock.

4) I arrange small social gatherings.

This is the best thing that I have found to do.  I have the advantage of sitting outside with folks at a safe distance because we live in Florida which is warm and our area has few biting bugs most of the day.

I think Debra started it by inviting Carolyn and me over on Monday evening.

On Tuesday I sat with my neighbors, Mary and Jerry, Margaret and Zip.  My house-mate Carolyn came too.  We sat in a circle.  Earlier that day Margaret said, "I have so many words in me that just need to be let out!"

On Wednesday I met up with a new friend and neighbor at the pool and we chatted for a hour.  We were going to bounce around in the pool, but the pool heater isn't working.  It was uncomfortably cold at 72 degrees. 

We watched a lovely hawk sit on the fence a long while and then took off flying over our heads.



Also on Wednesday I went for a street ride with Debra and Glen.  We rode through areas of Citrus Hills and wow, I didn't know we had so many hills so close to home.  The trail is pretty flat.


I had to ride the trail a couple miles to get to the meeting place.  I have since heard that the Ranger is stopping people and telling them get off the trail or issuing a warning.

5) I listen to audio books.

I just finished listening to, Before We Were Yours.  I can tell you if you are looking for something relaxing to read, that isn't it.  It was gripping and at times suspenseful.   I hated how tense it made me, but I couldn't stop listening.

My friend Kim shared her audio book with me, Olive Kitterich.  She said it is a nice story.

6) I reach out by phone, Facetime, and text to others.

I am fortunate in that my sister is open to chatting with me almost every day.  We have never done this before, but I think we both need the contact and conversations.  One day we both were feeling down, so we made a pledge to do something to combat the feelings.  Mary was going for a walk in the woods.  I was going to meditate 20 minutes.

Speaking of my sister... she and her husband still deliver meals on wheels.  She uses her hand sanitizer after each home and before she enters her car.  I need to start volunteering somewhere during this... where?

7) I practice backing up my Weeroll.

Ok, I have only done this once or twice.  I also spent some time sitting inside it, thinking of what will go where.  I cut an old yoga mat to be the size of the mini fridge that I have.  It helps to figure out how things will fit.



What a Difference Three Weeks Makes


It is hard to believe that only two weeks ago I was listening to the news reports about COVID-19 (called the Corona Virus back then) and wondering if I should be worried.  I flew to Arizona on March 6th and packed wipes and was a bit on edge wondering if I should cancel my flight.

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States was small, I had not been watching the news and didn't know anything about why this virus was unique.  I was thinking of the Swine Flu which hardly touched my life, and I remembered the talks about Ebola.  They both were slowed before they became a problem for my family and friends, my corner of the world.  I was ignorant of any of the science explaining why COVID-19 was different and a big worry.

It is only 20 days later now, and the CDC website reports the number of cases in the US is over 68,000.  The number of deaths almost 1,000.   It is still kinda small numbers in the big scheme of things until you realize that those numbers happened in just three weeks and are doubling every 2-3 days.

Here is a video giving you a view of exponential growth.

Here is another video.

I have heard people argue that we are making too big a deal out of this.  That it hasn't killed as many people as the regular flu each year.  They are probably not taking into account that this flu is brand new and in just a few months has spread to pretty-much every country and started to grow from there, over coming the ability of the medical system to care for the victims in many places (New York City and Italy especially).

Well no sense in worrying.  "It is what it is," George would say.

I found some bean seeds and planted them.  And I see I have a couple potatoes in my cupboard sprouting... I will try planting them.  Who knows how long this pandemic will go on.

Please share some of the things you found to help you stay connected in spite of social distancing.  Are you pitching in to help somewhere?  Tell me about it, I would like to hear!




Saturday, March 21, 2020

Covid-19 Changes

3/18/2020

COVID-19 Changes


It is Wednesday, a lovely warm sunny day in Florida.  I decide that even with the "Social Distancing" that we are trying to abide by, I can go to exercise and yoga at the club house.

Why?

1) there are only three of us spread out in that big room.
2) I decided to disinfect my hands before entering
3) I brought along a rag to touch any door handles or remote controls.
4) None of us are coughing



It was great to be back among my friends and neighbors.  We did the "Covid Hug" which is standing far away from each other and putting our arms up like cactus arms and moving them up and down.  I know, corny.  But it makes us smile and feel loved, and THAT is so important.
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For those of you in the future reading this, in 2019 there was a flu that only resided in animals, but one day in 2019 it morphed and transferred into a human and then transferred human to human.  This flu, as I understand it, can sit on a hard surface ready to infect someone else for 48 hours.  It attacks the lungs mostly, and can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems.  The good news so far is that it isn't deadly or very damaging to the young with strong immune systems.  The bad news is that since it morphed into a virus that can transfer to humans it has morphed one more time creating two different strains.  This is a concern to the scientists that study viruses and if it keeps morphing it will be hard to develop vaccines.

The governments around the world had learned from past viruses that if they cancel events and really reduce human to human contact they can slow down the transfer of the virus.   This way the capacity to treat patients will not exceed the need and fewer people will die as a result of catching the illness.

So that is what is happening around the world right now.  When I heard they had canceled the National Basketball Association games, it hit me how serious this was.  The NBA and others make millions of dollars on games, yet they were canceled.  Since then they have closed schools, bars, and cancelled all gatherings of more than 10 people, including weddings, funerals and church services.

There are currently 3 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Citrus County where we live.

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

After yoga, my housemate Carolyn and I left on our trikes this Wednesday morning to meet others on the trail to go for a ride.  We are feeling very fortunate to have the trail and our trikes.  We feel safe from transferring any germs when we are riding.  We are able to leave our homes and ride and even socialize as long as we don't touch each other and keep a safe 6 feet between us when we are standing still.

We met up with Debra and Glen, Frankie and Dennis and were going to the Withlacoochee Trail down past Floral City and do a little road riding around some small horse farms and then have a picnic at the park.  Spreading out at the picnic tables so we aren't too close.

On the way to Floral City, Covid-19 and the changes it has brought in all our lives is all we talk about it seems.  We debate whether the beaches are closed and agree that the bars have been closed to reduce or slow down the spread of this very contagious virus.

Dennis is a doubter,  He doesn't think this flu is a big threat.  He says that other flues have killed more people and that more people die in car accidents.  When I returned home I found a video on exponential growth and sent it to him.  (If the lily pads double each day and fill the pond on day 60, when is the pond only 1/2 full of lily pads?  Answer -- Day 59.)  Also this flu, from what I understand, became a concern when it transferred from being an animal flu to being transferred to humans and then human to human.  And really became a concern when it morphed again in just two weeks.  Sounds like a science fiction movie to me.

Worries

If you are worried about all the changes.  Start to journal your worries.  A study of 51 participants with anxiety found that a worry journal helped reduce anxiety over a regular journal.  So each day just take some time to write down all your worries.  Then in 10, 20, 30 days go back and take a look, see which worries came true.

I had started having a chest congestion weeks before we even heard of COVID-19 it seems.  Maybe even two months ago.  It doesn't make me cough, but it is a burning and congested feeling in the chest.  This morning it made me cough on our bike ride.

There is a joke being passed around that the reason there was a run on toilet paper in the stores, (The shelves are empty of paper products now), is because when someone coughs everyone around them shits their pants.

I decided to return home instead of completing the ride.

I didn't know if I should go in.  Do I just weather it out at home and not burden the medical system with another person?  I don't feel that bad.  But what if I am contagious and I am sharing a house with Carolyn and I am going to the grocery store?   And do they need me to get tested so they can track where the cases are? 

I called my doctor just to ask if it was worth getting tested since there is no treatment or cure.  They have on their recording a special line for talking with someone about COVID.



Emily answered and when I told her about the congestion she said I have two factors.
1) I have been traveling
2) I have congestion in the chest.
She made an appointment for me to get tested that very afternoon.

At 1:00 from the parking lot I was supposed to call in and get instructions.  I was not to enter the building.  I called and was instructed to follow the green footprints into a side door.



I was given a mask and taken to an exam room where they took my temperature which was 99 degrees.  They listened carefully to my chest and my story about how the congestion started probably a whole month ago but it seems to be getting worse.  They palpated my lymph glands around my neck, some were slightly swollen.

"Allergies,"  she tells me.  She said if the Musinex and two other medications she prescribed for nasal congestion (even though I protested) doesn't work they will Xray my lungs.  I don't feel I have nasal congestion, but she said that the drippage causes irritation in the bronchial tubes and that can cause a bacterial infection, so let's get this under control.

When I mentioned on Facebook that I had been to the doctor a woman I know going through Chemo asked me why I went, since there was no cure.  She has a lower immune system and is having to utilize the medical system. She is trying to convince people not to get tested and stay home.

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Commercial Star


On Tuesday the Withlacoochee Riders biked.  When we were gathered by the Caboose on the trail, a man with a big camera came to me.  He had called me about a month ago and asked if he could film us riding the trail.  He is from the Department of Parks and something... I think it used to be Recreation but I think they changed the name.  Anyway, he was creating commercials for the bike trails in Florida.  So he interviewed me with the bikers scattered behind me.  It was awkward with the huge camera in my face, my sun protecting hat and helmet on, trying to be clever and instead being super stupid.  Oh well, water under the bridge.

I didn't tell him I was an Author and that I wrote a book that included our life using the trail in The Journey Continues and bike trails elsewhere in Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.    I now wonder if I should have...

Exploring NE Arkansas

Sometimes as we travel we come upon things that delight us and remind us why we leave the comfort of our homes.  That, I am happy to say, is...