Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How Wee Roll During COVID and Beyond?

Friday 5/22/2020

I am sitting in the quiet at the dinning room table.  I am bent over a large plate of salad with a big glob of re-fried beans and a couple handfuls of Fritos.

My cell phone rings. The display tells me the call is from Rhinelander, WI, but it doesn't identify the caller.  I decide to pick it up because my sister lives in Rhinelander.

Do you hear what I hear???  Available Now!

It is Karen from Housekeeping at Holiday Acres.  This is the resort where I had applied to be a "Towel Girl".  Guests of the resort would bring their dirty towels to the Towel Girl (me) and I would give them fresh towels.   A job as Towel Girl was supposed to be my part-time job this summer.  A time filler, a way to meet folks, a couple bucks in my pocket, I was looking forward to it.

But then the pandemic happened and everything is up in the air.

Karen said she just met with the managers of the resort.  They decided that they are not doing Towel Service due to COVID protocols.  She told me that Saturdays and Sundays they need staff for cleaning the cabins.  Would I be interested in that?

Yes, I would do that.  When does she need me?

She said when I get there to just come look her up and fill out an application.  Even if I arrive mid-July.

Cool, some motivation to get my Weeroll rolling!

Actually I already have a date set for trying out the Weeroll.









I had contacted Lois who had shared a room with me on a boat in the Netherlands a year ago.  We got along well and have since met up a few times.  I asked her if she would like to go camping with me.


She said, "Yes!"

She has a tent.  She named several campgrounds.  I guess I got lucky because the first place I looked up was Little Talbot Island State Park (which is by Jacksonville and quite popular) had three spots and I booked one for June 1st.

Immediately I let Debra know in case she would be ready to test out her new Weeroll too.  She tried to book a spot and all the spots were taken.  She won't be able to join me!  I hope we get another opportunity to try out our trailers together.

So I have a camping date for June 1st.  Cool.  Now I have a deadline for getting my Weeroll ready to go.

The curtains are done thanks to my friend, Cindy.  She made them out of old sheets and they turned out great!  I am very pleased.  Light and airy, and a hint of grandma...

Today I added some items and figured out some more ways to keep stuff from jumping around.








I installed a screen across the back door so I can get a nice cross breeze and look out at the stars from my bed if I feel safe leaving the doors open.

I have to tweek it because the bottom of the screen blows out when I close the shower curtain I hung in case I need some privacy.  I either need weights or I need to mount a steel bar to the threshold and then insert more magnets in the bottom hem of the screen.


Naming the Camper


What should I name it??  The gals in Sisters on the Fly name their trailers.  Debra called her first trailer Gator.  I think she is calling her Weeroll Itsy... or is it Bitsy?  Another Sister called her yellow and white trailer, Banana Split.

I was thinking Howwee Roll.  Howie is a male name, but it is better than some of the other stupid names that have come to me.

WOW Weeroll
Waywee Roll
Eye Roll
Trippin' House
Rollin' Home

The thing is, "WEEROLL" is in big block letters on the front of the trailer.

So why not just call it WeerollMy Weeroll?  I don't know, this decorating and naming stuff isn't where my talents lay ...

Yearning

I wonder if this symptom of wanting something, missing something, yearning for something is a symptom of social distancing?

I didn't put a name to the feeling, but then my sister mentioned she had some social time and some nature time and she still felt a yearning.  For what?

Sometimes I fill the yearning with food... and more food.

I reach out a bit to others, but not enough.

When George passed two years ago I told myself to reach out and hug someone every day.  I was doing pretty well with that until this pandemic.  No hugs... since mid March.  Wa wa wa... what a baby I am!

5/27/2020 Wednesday


Well I sat down and started making reservations for my trip to Wisconsin.  Yep, I am going.

Ok, I was the first to wonder why the snowbirds were returning home, they should just stay put!  But that was back when staying put was going on for only two weeks or a month.  Now it is time to figure out how to live and survive without spreading the disease.

If I have my house with me, what will be different?

I will be getting gas more.
I will probably be shopping for groceries more often (storage is smaller).
I will be sometimes using public restrooms more often.
And some campgrounds will not have no-touch check-in, so I will have to interact with them.
And then, there is always the risk, when anyone leaves their home, especially in a car, that there might be an accident or incident.

So, ya, it seems riskier to travel.  I will need to be extra careful disinfecting my hands and wearing a face mask.  And even so...

On the other-hand, I am 66 and not getting any younger.   My sister is about my age too.  We are  both in good shape, but that could change.

Though my back and hip problem that haunted me last year have really eased because of exercises and stretches I have been doing, I know that some day that pain or another pain will come.  I will someday be less able to hike and bike and drive and camp.

At first I just started to map my journey and find a campground every 300 - 600 miles.  That filled me with fear and dread.  I didn't want to get caught somewhere I didn't feel safe or worse, I felt super lonely and alone.

Then I remembered a few people I have biked with that invited me to contact them if ever I was traveling their way.  So then I started mapping my trip from friend to friend, trail to trail.  And guess what!  I will be meeting up with someone every place I stop to stay!

First I am doing a Sisters on the Fly event near Cheifland, FL along the Suwanee River.  Then from there I launch over to ride with a friend by Milford, Florida.  Then onto trike with Jean in Mississippi.

In Southern Illinios I will be riding the Tunnel Hill Trail with folks I found through a recumbent Trikes group on Facebook.  I will be there over the 4th of July.  No toilet facilities open, I will use a bucket and sponge bathe.

Near East Peoria, Illinois I ride with Peggy, whom I re-connected with at the trike rally early this year.

On to Madison, Wisconsin stay for several days and meet up with my friend Kathi, my son and his wife, and other friends.

Finally by mid July I will arrive in Rhinelander where the campground that I have a seasonal site at will not have open showers or bathrooms.  We will figure it out.  Anytime Fitness Gyms are opening, so maybe I will be able to use their showers...  Or not.  It's ok.

When I was a kid we visited my grandmother's farm.  We hauled water in buckets and heated some water on the stove.  Then we would bathe in a washtub.  I am experienced and blessed with clean water.

Great audio narration by Voice Actor Robin Seigerman


Other Happenings

Thanks to Jeremy and Mel that sent me this cute blouse for Mother's Day.  It is purple and matches my glasses and my new style.  Love it!

 One afternoon some birds came banging on my door.  I would shoo them away and then they would bang it again.  One time a little bird knocked himself out.  I watched while his eyes slowly became more alert.  I got tired of watching him and went inside.  Later he was gone.


COVID Continues to Infect


I am venturing out a bit more.  The Florida Governor and our county board is urging businesses to re-open if they can after being shut down for two months.  Some small businesses just aren't going to be able to make it.

Some restaurants seem to be packed (which isn't good if any of the staff or guests are infected and they don't know it).  But some restaurants are struggling with less customers than before.

I have not sat down in a restaurant yet.  There is a case where on restaurant customer was infected with COVID-19.  And that one customer managed to infect almost everyone at their table of 7 or so and half the people at the next table.   They even infected one person that was up-wind from them.  The conclusion is that poorly ventilated small spaces with prolonged exposure (1-2 hours in a restaurant) is where infections are transmitted.  Of course it is prisons, care homes, public transportation and hospitals that are also places where transmission is likely.  Hopefully most of us can stay out of those places.

Distance
Outdoors

That is how I try to do my visiting.

I went to Donna's again for a happy hour.  She was the one that told me if you can't hug a friend, hug a tree.  So when I left her screen porch, I made a point to hug her tree.  She took my picture and I look pretty happy hugging a tree.  I need to do that more often!

My granddaughter graduated from High School.  Due to COVID they didn't have an in-person ceremony.  Instead they had a video of the ceremony and the valedictorian and other speakers.  I got to thinking that I hope this is a tradition that they keep even if they have an in-person graduation ceremony in the future.  It was nice being able to attend while drinking coffee.  To cheer when my granddaughter's name was called.

When my son graduated he was only allowed to invite a few people to the ceremony.  With the video there is no limit on the size of the audience.  You can invite family and neighbors and extended family.  I like that.

I also like that after my granddaughter's name was called, I didn't have to sit through the endless list of names following hers.

Congratulations to graduates of 2020.  Abby I am proud of you!

Go Trippin' and Trikin' with us - Available Now.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Perspective Adjustment - Nature Heals Us

Friday, May 8, 2020


I am grateful for nature.  There are few things that raise my spririt up more than seeing something rare in nature and soaking up a beautiful day.   Especially if I have someone with whom to share the experience.

So I am going to tell you all about my totally awesome day I had recently.

I am also grateful for wonderful neighbors and friends that lift my spirits and sometimes they help me move heavy furniture, loan a tool or volunteer to assist with something.

I will tell you all about THAT too.  But first I need to talk a bit to those folks in the future who will be reading this and wondering what is going on in the world at this time.

We Are Living at the Beginning of COVID-19

Historical Perspective 2020

It is easy for us baby-boomers who have lived most of our lives with freedom of movement and freedom to express our opinions to fall into a self-pity party during this time.  We have lived in a period of economic growth for most of our lives.

When I feel my four-year old inner self start to whine, I think of these facts that were shared on Facebook recently.

We have been into the shutter-in-place only a few months.  
Japanese internment -- 1 year
Holocaust -- 4 years
Great Depression -- 10 years
American Slavery -- 246 years


Skip this section if you are currently living through this COVID-19 thing.  I am writing this section to give the future readers of this blog a look into what is happening around me.

This COVID-19 lock-down, shutter-in-place, safer-at-home isn't so hard on me because I am retired and in Florida where I can get outside everyday.  I can chat with neighbors and friends outside at a distance.   My income (for now) is safe.  I understand the stock market goes up and down and as long as I don't have to sell right now, I am fine.

I am very grateful to be where I am at.

For those in rural or colder climates it isn't so easy.   It isn't as easy to socialize at a distance.  Though people are using the phone and internet to have conversations and keep in touch.  In the colder climates it isn't as easy to get out in nature.

For those in urban areas without nature and with more strict lock-downs it has got to be incredibly hard.  Imagine being without work and locked up in an apartment for weeks, months! Not as bad as Ann Frank and the many Jews and others forced into hiding for years during the Holocaust.  Not as bad as slaves who were forced to hide in fear for their lives. 

We really don't have it so bad.  It is just taking some adjustment... and we like to complain.

And we worry about those that didn't have any savings to cushion them when this hit.

There are many, many workers and business owners that were struggling before this all hit.  I know of a coffee shop and a restaurant that had just opened in Inverness a few weeks before the shutdown.  All that initial investment and planning and work.  Now they may not be able to open their business again.   Some restaurants may not be able to make it with the new spacing requirements of six feet between customers.  Things are going to be different for a while.

And will the spacing be enough?  This article explains that indoors even at six feet for long periods of time can be enough to spread the disease.


Millions of American workers who have lost their jobs or fallen even further behind in their bills.   Even with the states slowly opening their economies again, so many of us will be afraid to go to restaurants and bars due to the threat of infection.  Then of course many won't be shopping like we were because of the unpredictable nature of the economy.  Which isn't all bad.

Sometimes I think that even with all that it wouldn't be so dang stressful if we didn't have social media making it easy to toss around conspiracy theories and fuel the us-vs-them mentality.  People are protesting the closing of the businesses and schools.  Some say the virus is a hoax and they don't practice social distancing, they don't wear face masks.


My neighbor told me she went to the grocery store and even with all the signs and the precautions and the education there were so many people not wearing masks, not kind enough to care if they were unknowingly spreading the disease.  When my neighbor was done shopping, she went into her car and cried.  (You see when you catch the disease you may not have any symptoms but will be spreading it through the air when you talk, breath, laugh, cough, sneeze, and even fart.  If you have pants on, it is like wearing a mask on your butt.  Or you could think of a mask as wearing pants on your face so all the crap doesn't spill out and get on other people.)

They say that the numbers aren't as bad as they predicted. Of course the numbers aren't as bad as originally projected, because we are staying home, social distancing, and shutting down.  They would be so much worse if we weren't doing that.


And now, wearing of a mask is being politicized.  This virus doesn't care if you are Democrat or Republican, Socialist, or Skin Head, old or young.  But some don't believe the virus is real, or don't believe they or anyone they know and love can get it, or they just want to say, "screw you" to the world.

Supplies for keeping our hands and surfaces clean went out of stock in early March.  I have been hunting for rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer on line and every time I enter a store.  I had heard that this flea-market style store had some.  So I stopped there on one of my bike rides.

They had a big bottle of 80% alcohol for sanitizing. 

When I went to check out, the clerk told me the price was $28.  Wow.  A small bottle (maybe 8 oz) used to be around one dollar.  Now, with the shortage....  She said that a brewery made the stuff.  And it wasn't so much a shortage of the alcohol but there was a shortage of the plastic bottles which used to come from China.  Now we aren't letting stuff come from China because the disease started in Wuhan, China and for other political reasons.

So this is what my kitchen counter looks like with all my sanitation supplies.






The bottle with the black label is the 80% alcohol that I bought for $28.  It doesn't smell like rubbing alcohol.  It smells like... high proof, low quality booze.  It makes me nautious to use it.  Fortunately it evaporates quickly.  I hope I don't smell like an alcoholic.

I rinse out the wipes and put them in a container and pour the alcohol on them to get wipes that work fast on germs.  I also have a container with wipes and bleach water.  When I got out I either take a baggie of alcohol wipes or the bottle of hand sanitizer.


It is hard to believe we are at the beginning of this COVID pandemic.  Those of us living in it just keep thinking it will be over soon.  Certainly we can't keep the economy closed for much longer.  There are some promising things on the horizon for vaccines and treatments. Maybe this won't take the full 18 months to two years that the disease experts first predicted.

I hope you skipped this section if you are currently living through this Pandemic.  You didn't need to be reminded of all that.  It didn't tell you anything new and added to your stress.  Sorry!  I warned you, didn't I?


But hang in there, because the next sections are more up-beat.  I promise you.

New Beginnings and Hope

Amsterdam has announced that they are planning to rebuild after COVID in a different way.  Instead of measuring themselves by their GDP they are going to use other measurements that include health, well-being, the environment, and more.  They call it the donut.  Trying to balance between economic well-being and human and environmental wellness.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have many people and countries learn from this time and re-adjust?   

Speaking of hope and changes that could come from this down-time...  There is a cute video out by TomFoolery of a man reading a story book to his son THE GREAT REALIZATION: Hind-site 2020.

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I biked down to feed the goats on my own.  On my way back I got a call from my friend, Kathi.  She had just traveled from her Florida home to her Wisconsin home in her sister's RV.  She said she had very little if any exposure to the outside world on their trip except to get gas and walk around outside.

I was telling her that some rural communities that usually are full of tourists in the summer in Northern Wisconsin are asking people to stay away this year.  I told her I was hesitating about going to Northern Wisconsin for the summer in my WeeRoll.   I don't want to be the one to drag COVID up through the country.

Kathi listened to my reasons why I wanted to go and she advised me to go.  Time with my sister is important and especially if I follow the guidelines for social distancing and cleaning my hands often, I should be OK to go.

It Has Been Two Years Since George


I was riding with friends when one of them asked me if it was two years ago in May that George passed.  I had to think about it.  Sure enough, he died May 20, 2018. 

That thought got me thinking.  My house-mate, Carolyn, left to go to her home in South Dakota and the master bedroom was free.  I should be ready to move back into the room.  I had moved out because the only place for the queen bed was the same place it was when George died.  Since it takes energy to keep my brain from ruminating on those last days, I have just avoided spending a lot of time in the room.

Instead of changing to a smaller bed and rearranging the room, I was using the excuse that I didn't want to buy a new bed and get rid of a perfectly fine queen bed. So I would just keep the room in that arrangement and not sleep there.  Instead I was sleeping upstairs.

But now it is two years and my neighbor, Jerry, offered to help me move the bed out. (I don't think he comprehended how heavy it was.) 

That very evening that he made the offer to help, I disassembled the bed.

I moved the cot in that I had purchased for the Weeroll camper.




 

I tried sleeping on the cot that night.  And I slept well!!!

The next day Jerry came and helped me move the big bed into the garage.  Then we took the couch from the den and moved it into the master.  After he left I pushed the couch to different locations.


The whole process wasn't without shedding a few tears, but now I am back in the Master bedroom and I am liking the extra floor space and the simplicity of the space.



In fact, moving the couch out of the den gave me more space in there too.  It is cleaner, less cluttered, I like it!




Preparing the WeeRoll

When I started this post, I mentioned being blessed with neighbors and friends that continue to help me out.

One day I arranged for neighbors Dave and Craig to help me move the mini fridge from my kitchen into the Weeroll.  I was proud of myself for backing up the Weeroll into my driveway without taking out any bushes or buildings.


 It took two minutes for Dave and Craig to get the fridge into the trailer.  Then I proceeded to set up my cot and use the D-rings and some straps to hold things in place.


Cindy and Regis stopped by while the Weeroll was in the driveway.  Cindy had volunteered to sew curtains for the trailer before I bought it.   She wanted to look at it and measure the windows again.

She had volunteered to make the curtains when I was debating about buying the trailer. 

I was whining over the work I would have to do after I got the trailer.  Making curtains seemed overwhelming to me.  Cindy took away that pressure by saying she would make them.   I don't think she really expected me to take her up on the offer.  Ha ha.   Thank you, Cindy! 

We are not allowed to keep our trailers parked in our driveways.  So that evening I was driving the Weeroll back to the storage area when I encountered a neighbor who had questions about the Weeroll.  Somewhere in the conversation I told him I was planning on removing the back seat in my minivan.  It has the stow-n-go seats so if I remove the seats I will be removing weight and have a nice pocket for storing things when I travel. 

The dilemma, I told him, was I needed to cover the pocket with something so I can roll my trike in and out.  He offered his experience doing that same thing with his van and his table saw!  Cool! 

Sometimes I think it might be all of you readers saying prayers for me and sending love and good thoughts that brings all these wonderful blessings my way.  Thank you!

Stuffing the Weeroll


I should be at an age where I don't need more STUFF.  In fact I am trying to get rid of stuff.  (I am happy to announce that I put the queen bed up on Facebook Marketplace and sold it in a day... for $80.) 

But it seems the more I get for the Weeroll the more I seem to need for the Weeroll.  It was time to get a mini microwave that I would place on top of the fridge when camping.

During this time of shuttering in place I shouldn't be going out shopping.  But ... well, the article on risks says that it isn't the brief encounters during shopping that will spread the virus (as long as you wash your hands and don't touch your face and no one sneezes or coughs on you and you wear a mask in case you cough or sneeze...).

On a Sunday morning early, I drove to Walmart.

I wore my mask and took my wipes.  The Walmart greeter presented me with a rose... and said, "Happy Mother's Day".  Oh!  "It's Mother's Day!". 

The rose was kind of orange... George's color, perfect.  My sister said later, "Awww, that was George sending you a sign and wishing you a Happy Mother's Day."


The shelf with the small microwaves was empty.  The clerk said the parts are made in China and so the supplier is tooling up elsewhere.  It will be about seven weeks before the microwaves start arriving again.

As I shopped for other items, I kept encountering a robot used to sweep the floors.  I don't think it can completely replace humans.... it doesn't get into the edges or the corners.



I tried to think of somewhere else in town I could check for a microwave.  But they were all big-box stores. 

Later I ordered one from Amazon.  Sigh.  So much for supporting the local economy!

A Totally Awesome Day

We have had a few cooler days here in May.  I decided I wanted to go do the Van Fleet Trail.  That trail can be really hot since it goes through the Green Swamp and has areas without tree cover.   Thank goodness that Debra said she would go to.  It is so much more fun to share with a friend.

We left Inverness in our separate cars at 7:30 a.m.   By the time we got there we were already having an awesome day.  While traveling down Hwy 48 we had to stop three times for animals in the road.

  1. A family of sandhill cranes
  2. A peacock
  3. Two brown cows that started kicking when I honked my horn.
When we started our ride it was even cool enough to wear a light jacket.

We road from Mabel (the northern terminus) to Green Pond Road.  It was almost 40 miles round trip.

There is a section on the trail with three bridges.  We stop at the bridges to see if we can see any gator or turtles in the water below.

As we approached the second bridge I saw a lot of large white birds.  When I stopped to look I saw the water was boiling with fish. 

There was Ibis and Woodstorks and Egrets wading in the waters and up in the trees and bushes.





And there was a huge gator just laying there among them.

Debra and I stayed there a long time watching.

At one point I looked down and saw the bushes were white below me.  Then plop!  I said, "Shit!". 

Debra and I kept saying that the weather was perfect, the sky so blue.  We had a lovely time and did almost 40 miles. 

And the experience was so much more because I got to share it with someone.  Thank you, Debra!

When I started heading home I went through a love-bug storm.  These bugs seem to always be mating in flight.  Their guts are acidic and it will eat the paint off your car.


I finished off my totally awesome day by washing my car.

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.


All By Myself - Widows Way

When I left you last I was heading to Cedar Falls and I wasn't quite sure any of the folks I know there would be available.  It turned o...