Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Journey to Life on Wheels

 Hello,

Wow!  Life is a trip.

I am feeling younger and stronger. 

How? You may ask.  

I took my trike to the shop in Inverness. 


 I was slowing down and I thought it was me.  My bike buddies were trying to talk me into getting an electric motor for my trike.  I resisted.  

I wanted an annual check up and lube job on my trike before I left on my travels north.

I left the trike there for them to work on.  Shortly after, the mechanic called me.  It turns out that my trike chain was a mess.

There is a little guide wheel under the seat of my trike.  There is a little bar that keeps the chain from jumping off the wheel when I shift or hit a bump.  

Some how the chain had gotten on the wrong side of that guide bar.  The mechanic said that the chain had sawed half way through that bar, the sawing had ruined the chain and my back cog and more.

It took a few days for them to get all the parts and fix it.  Boy, did it ride nice when I got it back!


Now when I ride with the group, I can keep up.  It isn't a big struggle to ride.  

In fact, on Easter Sunday I rode to Brooksville, via the Withlacoochee Trail and the Good Neighbor Trail, by myself.  It must be 54 miles round trip.  And it felt like nothing, no pain, no panting, no struggle.  In fact when I got a text from Cindy saying she just saw me bike by her house I turned around to go back and chat with her adding a mile onto my trip.  There was no way I would have done that when I was struggling to ride.

I am celebrating the life renewing effects of a smooth running bicycle.

Moving On

When I wrote you last I announced I had a buyer for my home and I would be moving out.

You may or may not be curious about all that.  But before I get to that, I feel bad about not telling you about two significant things that occurred earlier this season.  

Two VERY important things.

Two Important Items

January Family Time!

My nephew Tom and his wife Sarah contacted me to let me know they were going to be in Tampa for a few days.  They invited me to meet up.  This is really significant.  It isn't like we were super close when they were growing up.  But now that they are grown, every time I see them we have a fun time.  I was sooo honored to be invited and included in their visit to Florida.  I know how it is when you are working and you only get a week or maybe two to enjoy being away.  So I felt really lucky to be a part of their time off from work. 

It turned out I would spend two days with them.  One when they traveled up to Crystal River near me to see the Manatee and me, yes visiting me!.  Then I drove to Tampa one day when my other nephew, Jack and his husband Mike were going to be there too.  Jack and Mike only live less than two hours from me, but we usually see each other elsewhere.  Because life is happening when we are home.  You know, work and play and busy-ness.  It is always a delight to be with the four of them.



Thank you for welcoming me, Tom and Sarah, Jack and Michael.

Only, the week they were here at the end of January, 2022, was blasted windy and COLD.  In fact it was the time when it got down to 29 degrees and stayed there for a few hours at night.  What a bummer for them.  They had wanted to spend the day at the beach and outdoors, but we ended up taking a trolly around until the sun was almost down, then got off the trolly at the beach and watched the sunset while jumping around trying to keep warm.





We ended up having dinner at 9 pm.  My energizer bunny was low on power, so instead of driving back over an hour to my Weeroll, I called around and found a motel room.  It worked out well for me because I spent that very cold night in a comfortable, warm motel room in Tampa.  

Introducing Serenity Sam

The second fun thing I wanted to tell you about was my introduction to my travel companion.  Yes, I met a guy and he is going to be traveling with me.

While I was approaching the mailboxes in Windermere on my trike I stopped to chat with Peggy and Ron who live nearby.  Peggy handed me a golden monkey.  He is about six to eight inches tall, painted gold, and sitting in the lotus position.  Peggy said she had been given several and didn't have places for them all.


I immediately thought that I would give it to my friends Keith and Jean.  They have a golden frog sitting in a lotus position on their patio.  But when I took it there, I couldn't let it go.  What if I took Serenity Sam with me?  He could silently sit in the seat next to me like George did during the last years of his life.    

What if when something goes wrong I can take a picture of Serenity Sam reminding me to keep calm?  He could be like the Flat Sam that school children send around the world teaching them geography and history. 

I think he might be the ideal man for me.  He will be a great travel companion.

A Nomad Needs A Legal Address

I closed on my house on Thursday, April 14, 2022.  There are lots of stories to tell about the journey from signed contract to closing. And I will get to some of them here later. But first let's talk about my new address.

A big part of any move is changing your address.  But if you are going to be house-less, you have to make arrangements to have a place as the address for your driver's license and for voting.

You can't be homeless and have a driver's license and vote.  You have to have a legal address.  I could use an address of a friend in Florida, but then if they aren't there and something is accidentally delivered there...  

I am now getting my mail at my new address in Green Cove Springs.  St. Brendan's Isle is a mail service.  They cater to people who live on their boats.  

For the mail, I had to notify insurances and utilities of my new address, and give the Post Office my forwarding address.  St. Brendan's Isle (SBI) provides a "Domicile Declaration" form and guides their clients through how to fill it out.  This is provided to them and they get a copy to the Post Office (I guess).

I get an email each day from St. Brendan's Isle telling me how many pieces of mail I received that day.  I go up on-line and I can see a picture of the envelope and I can direct the mail service to:  Hold, Toss, Forward or Scan

It is taking a little getting used to, but I am liking it.  Of course one of the first pieces of mail was the US Post Office confirming my address change.  They have my new address a bit wrong.   I have added to my to-do list is to get that corrected.  

I haven't visited the DMV yet.  Green Cove Springs is a small town SW of Jacksonville, FL.  When I leave Inverness, (April 24, 2022, that is just a week away!) my first stop is a campground not far from Green Cove Springs.  I will visit their DMV and register to vote.  Maybe I will take Serenity Sam to the marina there which is the address that will be on my driver's license.

I will be allowed to vote in the State and Federal elections, but the county and city elections I won't be allowed to vote because I don't live there.

The mail house has all the information I needed to guide me through this transition and the few times I have called them with questions, they have been very polite and helpful.  

Some people have asked me why I have my address so far from where I will be spending my time. (In and around Inverness in the winters).  I said because another full-time RV woman told me about this service and the website made the step by step process clear and simple.  Besides, there is no mail service like that here in Citrus County that I know about.

One Person and Two Tons of Stuff

I had cleared and purged stuff before I rented my home to Frankie and Dennis this winter.  So when they left on April 2nd and I went in to start packing and moving boxes to storage, I was so surprised at how much stuff I still have!

Such spoiled Americans, we have no idea how much stuff we accumulate, and still we want more.  

I am often reminded of reading someone's will from the early 1900's or the late 1800's.  

1 Spoon

2 pots

1 mule

Or, something like that.

The Table

We bought our table and chairs in the 70's a couple years after we got married.  In 2008 we had it painted for our new life in sunny Florida.  We had family dinners, played games, and hosted dinner parties with friends at this table.  We held meetings at this table.  

When George's business, Rentapen, started cutting metal shims as one of its first manufactured products, we spent hours sanding the burs off of the shims, counting them, and putting them into little bags at this table.

Deciding to give it up was hard.  But I felt it was too big, too heavy, too worn.  Some friends said keep it, some said start new in a new place. I offered it up to the house buyers first at $250.  They didn't want it.  So I put it on Facebook Market Place.  Crickets...

I lowered the price.  I lowered it again.  Crickets...

Then at $150 I get a message request.  "Will you take $50 for the set?"

Arg!  I had been wondering if I would have a charity thrift come get it.  But sell it for $50???  Doesn't anyone value this Ethan Allen table like I do?   

I replied, "I would rather give it to charity than sell it for $50."

She responded, "Oh, Thank You!  It is for my mother who just moved here and is hard up and doesn't have a table and chairs..."

At first I was in shock and offended.  Then I thought, What do I want?   I want someone to appreciate this table and have fun around this table.  If this woman can do that, then why not?

She and her Mom came and got it within hours.  I kept two chairs because they are solid and good to use as a step up when I need to reach the top of the fridge or something.  And I kept the quilt, in case I can use it to coordinate the chairs in a spot in my new home someday.


The Back Seat


Another thing that was weighing heavy was the back seats to my Chrysler Town and Country.  I removed them because they were rarely used and the removal opened up more storage in my van and reduced the weight.  I was hanging onto them in case I sold the van.  But I have decided to keep it for another 100,000 miles.  By that time, the fact it is missing a back seat won't be a big deal.

The seats are in great shape, but when I posted them on Facebook I didn't hear a peep.  I kept lowering the price.

A few days before closing I had the Key Center Thrift come get some of the remaining pieces of furniture I wasn't putting into storage.  "Do you take car seats?"  I asked.  They must not have had a full truck scheduled because they were glad to take them off my hands.  Gone!

They also took a couple gliders, the TV and coffee table.  I don't use the TV.  I watch my computer or my cell phone.

The sectional chairs and two beds went to the people who bought my house.  Some they paid for, some I gave as gifts, like these sectional chairs.  They were left for me from the previous owner of the home.


It was also hard to give up my picnic set.  We bought it in the early 2000's.  Life was throwing us some curve balls so we would spend sunny afternoons out enjoying the yard.  We have had gatherings at this table too.  I love it but wanted to go lighter.  I want furniture that I can move on my own.  Let the new owners enjoy them.  I sold it to them, too cheap.


I have so much art!  I donated very few.  There was George's photos on canvas, prints by El Towle, and flowery paintings by Artist-friend, Jude Caborn.  Those all went into storage to give my next home fun.


There was one picture I was going to leave.  It was way up high on the wall.  A picture that George took of a Pelican that we had put on canvas.  But one of the last days, I thought I would attempt to take it down.  When we had moved in our friends, Jerry W. and David A. helped us mount the pictures.  They did an amazing job.  I thought they had mounted the pelican with L-brackets on the top side of the picture.  

I pulled out the extension ladder and extended... and extended... and extended.  Man it was high!


I started to climb, slowly, cautiously.  All the while asking myself if it was really worth it.

Then I decided, no, it wasn't worth breaking my neck.  I descended  and was going to start  bringing the ladder back down when it moved, tapped the picture, and the picture came tumbling down!  I rushed to inspect it.  No damage, one of the back braces had come loose, but there was no damage.

I was giddy.  It was like a sign from George.  "Here, take this with you."  And "Yes, this move is a good thing."  I know, silly, but it is the stories we tell ourselves that can make us happy or angry or sad.  I choose to fill my mind with happy stories.  

I had a container upstairs where our guests stayed.  The container was full of thank you notes and post cards from the years we had hosted Warmshowers guests and Evergreen Club guests and friends and even from the few months that I rented out the rooms as an Airbnb hostess.  

In storage I had a bag of all the cards and letters I received after George's death in 2018.

I hated to throw them away.  First I took pictures of them all, so that the memory still exists somewhere.

Hauling

I had two weeks to pack up all the small stuff and move it to storage.  I made sure I packed the boxes light so I wouldn't hurt myself.  

There is a couple that work on the grounds in our neighborhood and have a handy-helper kind of business on the side.  I hired them to move the big stuff into storage, like the bed and some dressers.  I was so grateful to them!  What a load off my mind.



This picture is taken while the big stuff was being added to the storage unit.  I took pictures of my full storage unit, but I can't find them on my camera.  When the storage unit was empty, I thought there was no way I was going to fill it.  But I was wrong, it is packed to about 5 feet tall in most places.  Just me, just one person, so much stuff.  

There are:
Garden tools
and regular tools
and seven years of tax papers.

There are: 
boxes of my journals
bags of linens
Tubs of kitchen utensils and pots.

There are:
dressers
chairs for relaxing
end tables of all kinds.

And I threw away and gave away so much stuff.  Carrie is a neighbor whose son does flea markets.  She was delighted with whatever I had to give her.  Lamps, dishes, widgets, tools...

She even gave me some cash for the stuff.  She filled her car two or three times with stuff.

What I threw out or gave away:
expired spices (lots)
bars of soap (I just use pump bottles now)
rags and more rags

There were:
screws for keeping and screws for my son
a ladder for me and an extension ladder for the new home owner
silverware for me and old silver for my son
Sentimental pieces of George's for his daughter, Jodie

I keep reminding myself, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, I can't take it with me to the other side of life.  I may have twenty years left or even more, but still.  Let someone else enjoy it for a while.  

Car Issues

My car is at the dealer.  It will be there for a few more days.  I wanted to get things fixed before I leave.  One issue I could not ignore, when I locked the door, it really wasn't locked.  

One day I wasn't anywhere near the car and I had the fob with me.  But a friend wanted to try to open the door and put something inside for me.  The driver's car door opened and the alarm went off.  I had suspected there was a problem when it happened to me, but I had the fob on me so I thought it had something to do with the new fob I purchased from Chrysler.

Also, the last time I wrote that after I got a new fob for the car I had not had an incident with the intermittent problem of the car not starting.  Well, shortly after I wrote that, it happened again.  When I wrote about it on Facebook several other Chrysler Town and Country Owners reported they had the same problem and that I should check the VIN number because it might be the same problem that cause Chrysler to do a recall.

But my VIN isn't included in the recall list.  The car dealer says they can not fix an intermittent problem like that.  It has to not work while in their care.

So again I will be traveling the country with a car that sometimes just won't start.  Frustrating.  They are working on the car door issue, and had to order parts.  Hopefully I will get it back on Wednesday so I can start the process of downsizing even more for my six months of travel.

Delights on Closing Day

Closing was on a Thursday at 1:00.  So I figured I could meet up with my bike group and ride a bit before riding to the closing office.  It was drizzly out when I left Oasis.  When I got to Inverness there was no one waiting to ride, but a group of the Snails was just ahead so I caught up and hung out with them.  That was delightful, even if it started to rain.  I was glad to have others willing to ride in the rain. The snails are a fun group.

They went to a restaurant five miles up the road, I turned around at that point and returned to Oasis.  I had just enough time to lay out my wet clothes and take a shower and eat lunch.  



The rain stopped and I rode to the closing.  It was quick and painless.  The buyers had signed already, the money was in my account by the end of the business day.  Whoo hoo!

On my ride on the trail I saw a small gator walking across the trail, a big mud turtle beside the trail, and a great blue heron standing on a bench next to the trail.




I had asked a friend and neighbor, Linda M. to have a happy hour on her patio that night and she did!  We drank wine and Prosecco and had a great time.  Thanks again Linda and friends for helping me mark the occasion.



As I was riding back to Oasis in the twilight, it was lovely out.  



I saw a snake.  


I texted Linda M.  She texted back that snakes shed their skin.  The snake is a symbol of change.






Sunday, March 6, 2022

Sold! Now What?

I sold my townhouse!  I will tell you about that in bit, but first some realizations and excuses for not writing to you sooner.

It Feels Like Going 90 Miles An Hour

My son contacted me with an "I love you" text and an "Are you OK?" text because I had not written a blog post in a while.  How wonderful is that?!  I called him and we caught up with some of our news.  Feeling loved, I realized I had not talked with him since Christmas time!  Life moves fast.

Winters are always bustling in Florida.  It is the peak of the Snowbird and visitor season, January - March.  People come that I only get to see during this time, and so I am active with dinners and rides and gatherings.





Friends from my years in Waukesha, WI sometimes contact me when they are in Florida.  I jump at the chance to connect with them and share some of the beauty of this part of the country.  I drove to Tarpon Springs to visit Kathi Seiger from Waukesha.  Another day I met up with Diane and Rick Frowein that were vacationing in Kissimmee, FL.  It was my first time in Kissimmee, and though I didn't like the higher population and traffic in that area, I really enjoyed our visit and kayak ride through a natural area.  I vowed to return to the area someday to camp and do some birding, hiking and biking on the trails in the nature preserves east of Orlando.  


Then there is all the Snowbirds!  There are opportunities to dance, go birding, connect over a cocktail.  

And I am still working a few hours a week.  No wonder I haven't had much time for making my reservations and planning my trip for this coming summer.


Signs From Heaven/the Universe/George

So, I decided to sell my townhome and move (hopefully) into a villa in Windermere.  I had gotten a price from a realtor in November, I decided to try to sell it on my own first, since the market is hot.

I listed it on Zillow and MLS for the price I was given in November.   So many friends told me I had not priced it high enough.  

I got lots of calls from realtors and investors, but the first call I got from a potential buyer was interesting... their last name was GEORGE!  I thought that was a good sign.  They were downsizing.  They wanted to see the place.  

At the time, the people renting my house had contracted a light case of COVID and were isolating.  So, I waited until they were feeling better before asking for a date to show off the place to potential buyers.  I decided as long as I was showing the place to the George's, I would keep it open for a couple ours and promote it as an open house.

The second call I got was from a guy in New York with a verbal offer to buy (unseen) for the asking price.  I told him I was going to wait till after the open house to give him an answer.

The third call I got was from a couple from Waukesha, WI!!  They had been visiting a relative in Windermere and fell in love with the place and wanted to live here.  Wow!  They gave me a verbal offer above the asking price.  I told them also that I would wait until after the open house to give an answer.

I asked for their offer in writing, which they delivered.

Open house day I got to meet the George couple.  Nice, they liked it.  I told them I had other cash offers on the table, they also made a cash offer.  I went back to all the buyers and asked them if the offer they cage me was their best offer because I had three bids on the table.  (I did this upon listening to the advice of a friend who is a realtor, thanks Friend!)

The couple from Waukesha won the bid.  And it turns out that he and I were in Toastmasters (a professional leadership organization) together 30 years ago in Waukesha.   Wow, so many signs to tell me I am making the right move.  And it is a good thing, too.  Because I am a bit scared to be house-less.

We set closing for two weeks after the tenants move out, April 15, 2022.  That way I have time to sort through stuff, and haul stuff into storage or charity and give the buyers a chance to claim some things.  I already promised I would leave them the antique bed.


On one of the birding walks I got to meet-up again with one of Cindy's friends, Connie.  She has been living full-time in her van.  I asked her about residency and being able to vote while living that way.  She gave me information about Green Cove Springs.  It is a town in Florida near Jacksonville that has a mail-service business.  The mail service house has all the instructions and help for establishing an address to not only receive mail, but be able to use the address for voting and ID.   If you are interested, it is St. Brendan's Isle.

In the meantime, I have friends in Windermere keeping their eyes and ears open for the next villa that might be coming up for sale.  And I have been too busy to make all the reservations needed for all the places that Lilac and I plan to stay in the coming year.

Starting the Travel Plans

I like to launch my trip up north with a social event.  A couple of times I went to a Sisters on the Fly camping event to launch my journey north.  This year I am joining a bicycle and kayak event near Live Oak, FL.  The Suwannee Bicycle Association is hosting a Pedal and Paddle for four days.  I start camping there on April 27th.  

Then I will zig zag north.  I want to do a couple of the trails I didn't get to last fall.  I think the Pine Creek Trail in Pennsylvania and the Virginia Creeper in Virginia and maybe something in western New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and into Wisconsin.  If you would like to meet up along the way, let me know.  It always makes the solo times more enjoyable when I know that I am connecting with friends in a few days.  Let's ride, hike, kayak, bird, dine or happy-hour together.

This Page of History -- In the News

Don't read on, if the news of the day is stressing you out.  I am just trying to give some perspective for those of you in the future reading this entry.  

Yes, we are experiencing a real-estate bubble or recovery, we don't know yet.  The number of cases of COVID is trending down.  The CDC has eased some of its recommendations, saying that the precautions should be localized to the areas according to the number of cases they are experiencing.   I and friends have found ourselves once again sitting inside restaurants... feeling a little uncomfortable... a little scared... but celebrating and hoping that our vaccines will protect us and those around us at the same time.

A convoy of truckers that are against any COVID restrictions (most of them are gone now) are entering DC to protest.  And all that seems silly now because... about 12 days ago Russia attacked Ukraine.  Images of the destruction of modern cities and neighborhoods are coming through to us via the news and social media.  The whole world, the web, the cell phone systems, our monetary systems could be at risk of attack.

We citizens of the world do not know yet if this is the beginning of World War III.  So far, the NATO nations have been inflicting financial pain on Russia and sending weapons to the Ukraine.  You know better than I do, what happens next.




Friday, February 11, 2022

Mind Changes Yet Again

 It is 40 degrees out this morning.  Too cold for this Florida gal to ride into town to attend my neighborhood fitness and yoga class.  I miss it.

But I also need to stay away because I was with friends on Saturday, February 5th, and they came down with cold symptoms a day or two later.  They ended up testing positive for COVID19.   

Yesterday I donned my N95 mask and went to Walgreens and bought myself a COVID test kit and stocked up on comfort food thinking I might be isolated for a while.  Though the government is giving out COVID tests, I have yet to order mine.  So I paid over $20 for a test packet.

When my siblings and I were young and had a day home from school sick with chicken pox or some fever, we would often get to drink 7-up and get treated with M&M's.  I still turn to food for comfort when I am not feeling well (unless it is stomach upset).  Yesterday I anticipated not feeling well.  

This time, though, after reading the label on the ice cream and the 7-up, I returned them to the shelf and opted for almonds dusted in chocolate and peanut butter sweetened with a little bit of maple syrup... and Cheetos cheese puffs.  Ha ha.

Back at camp I took the test.  A clear negative.  The instructions tell me to take the test again in 24 to 36 hours.  In the meantime I am being more diligent about my mask and distancing.  But the gym is calling to me!  I do have some N95 masks which are what is used by healthcare workers when treating COVID19 patients.  

Some of you will be horrified that I would go out at all, others of you will say I am being more cautious than you would be in the same situation. 

The good news in all this is that my friends were vaccinated and boosted, reducing their symptoms.  And they probably got the Omnicron variant which is sweeping the Nation (world?).  This varient is milder but so much more contagious than the previous variants of the virus.

Besides feeling lousy for a couple days, they will be fine.  And I am grateful for that.  I don't want to lose them or have them living with long-COVID symptoms.

The Housing Experiment

This experiment of living in Lilac is teaching me some things.  It has been a huge success.

One thing I learned is that I love living in Windermere.  I love our clubhouse exercise classes. I love being able to walk out the door onto quiet streets and walk for miles. I love the people I run-into on the streets and the friends that live there.  I love being able to walk down to the bridge between two lakes and watch the sun rise and the sun set.  I love being able to plant things in the dirt... my own plot of land.


What I don't like is too much space.  I don't like too much stuff to store, maintain, etc.  I don't like the expensive insurance, and the worry during hurricane season.  I hate it when something goes wrong with the house and I don't know who to call to come fix it.  I was thinking those items would be knocked out of my life by living on wheels.  

 

But I now realize that would be traded for the constant need to plan where I will park, the costs of parking.  The RV life used to be that you drive until your are tired and then look for a place to camp, or you make a reservation two or three days before you arrive somewhere.  But now you need to plan months in advance.  As I look to make reservations in state parks for May, some of the parks are already fully booked.  Some places in Florida they are booked 11 months in advance, as soon as they open up for reservations.

I didn't want to sell my big house and move to a smaller villa in Windermere because the price difference isn't much and probably won't cover the costs associated with moving and the agony of downsizing.  But when I think of living the next 10-15 years in a place, a smaller home feels right.  I realize now it isn't all about the money.

Another factor I was stressing over was that my current home has a discount on property taxes because it is homesteaded.  I was afraid I would lose the discount and have to start over at the prices of houses now... and that is the case a bit.  But I do get to keep a portion of the homestead exemption if I buy into a Villa within three years.

This week I put my house on the market on Zillow.  It will probably sell fast.  

I started spreading the word I am looking for a villa which is only one story and has two bedrooms vs four bedrooms and two stories.  But first I should sell my home and maybe float for a while in between homes.  That will give me that experience.  I like that idea.

Book Progress or Not

I think, ok, all this time in my little Weeroll, I will get back to working on Book III.  But it hasn't happened yet.  I feel the stirrings, but mostly they are ignored.  

But the motivation is building each time I hear from someone that they enjoyed or are enjoying one of my books.

Linda is a woman in Oasis RV where I am parked.  When she inquired about my books, I gifted her the first book, Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  

There are several residents that gather in a circle in her front yard each afternoon.  When I joined them one day Linda told me she had finished the book.  

"You were probably as glad it was over as we were to get home after that long trip," I said.

"No!" She exclaimed, "I want to know what happened next!"

Wow, that made my heart sing.  I told her she could learn all about it in the second book, The Journey Continues, Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.


Then I thought of the people like her that have read the second book and still want to know what happened next.  The next book...  a work in progress, a life in progress.  

Linda passed on her book to Carol.  Carol told me yesterday that she is enjoying the book and has had a few good laughs.  My ego is boosted.

The city of Inverness arranges free music in the park on Wednesdays.  I was there with some friends and saw some neighbors.  One neighbor told me they had gifted my book to a friend who was in the same position I was, caring for a spouse with dementia.  She told me that the woman has told her the book is helping her a lot in dealing with situations.  

Oh wow, to help caregivers and family members understand, be more patient, find strength; to hear that the books are doing that, well gosh, it is amazing.   Thanks for telling me that.

The notes for book III are under my bed, starting to call to me again.  We'll see.

For now, though, the temperature is above 50 degrees, the sun is shining, and my trike is out and ready to ride.  



Saturday, January 22, 2022

Thank You For Caring, I Am Cozy

 Life is full.

I am getting back into biking with friends, sometimes 30-40 miles.  Between that and preparing meals and taking care of "stuff".  A bike day is all used up.

I have set up my kitchen table/sink out in the screen tent.  It's a great place to chop veggies and dine.  I get my exercise going in and out of the trailer a dozen times getting things, putting things back.  


 

The neighbors at the RV park were having Happy Hour out in their front yard one day watching me and marveling on my ability to go up and down so many times as I had to go in and out of Lilac.  

That particular evening I was more busy because I was getting ready to have some friends from Windermere (my house neighborhood) over for snacks and Pizza.   Setting out chairs and tables and dishes. 


 

Another thing that fills my life and time is my part-time job.

I am working part-time helping out my friend, Jean. Sometimes there is no work, and then there is stuff that keeps me busy for a few days.  I like it!  It is perfect for me.  And Jean is soooo appreciative.  Yesterday she wrote me a bonus check as a big thank you.  Thank YOU, Jean!

I keep thinking, I want to write to you.  I want to keep in touch!

But the weather has been soooo lovely here.  It can be 45 degrees in the morning and 70's in the afternoon.

There is always something fun calling to me.  Who wants to sit inside when I have the freedom to be outside? 

So when a cold spell came swooping down from the north this weekend, I was grateful for it.  Now I may have some inside time for writing to you.  


I am COZY!

So many good people have offered a room in their home if I get too cold in my little trailer.  

"I am serious, Sue, you are welcome to come sleep in our guest room.  I won't even fuss and try to feed you.  You can just come and go as you please," insists my friend Margaret each time I see her.  She is so awesome! I love her.

Today I got an email from Lois wondering if I was keeping warm.  Tomorrow night it will dip down to 29 degrees.


 

Here is the scoop for all of you who are wondering and worried.

I have two little space heaters.  I had only one until a few days ago.  I keep one in arms reach of my bed, so in the morning before I get up I can reach over and turn it up to take some chill out of the air before I get up and get dressed.


 I also was concerned about the moisture that gathers on the windows on cold nights.  So I bought a mini-dehumidifier.  It was only $35 and it isn't 100% but keeps my bedding from feeling wet and less moisture collects on the windows and frames by the doors where there is no place to put insulation.


 

I have two space heaters now because the other day I reached over to turn up the heater and it quit on me!  It wouldn't start up again.  I was grateful that happened on a 45 degree morning and not a 20 degree morning.  I quickly got dressed and ran to Lowes to get a new one.  When I got back to Lilac I tried the old heater again and it started right up.  Now when I return from being out and it is really cold I get both heaters going and in no time I am peeling off jackets and scarves.

I like spending so much time outside.  When the sun goes down, if I am not in front of the computer screen, my energy goes down too.  I sleep better, and that is a very good thing.

Frankie and Dennis are happy to be renting my house.  I have visited them a couple times.  It was interesting how the second time I felt less attached to the stuff I left there.  "It would be easier to let it go now," I thought.  

Frankie says she feels guilty that I am in the little trailer while they are enjoying the house.  "This is an experiment I wanted to do," I tell her.  "I am happy to have people I know and trust renting it."

Sometimes I step out to use my screen room kitchen to brush my teeth or wash some dishes after dark.  Sometimes I walk to the showers after the sun has set.  It feels so nice to be out under the stars.  Recently I got to enjoy the full moon!  Something I rarely did when I was closed up in the big house.

 

Since I am parked here for three months I covered the wheel facing the sun.  Pretty, hey?


Plans for 2022

Cindy just contacted me today.  It is time to make plans for next Christmas.  In Florida the good camping places fill up as soon as they are available to rent.  That is 11 months before your camping date.  So today I made my reservations for next Christmas!  


 Might as well go camping, I expect that COVID will still be an issue that will keep me and my friends for having a big holiday party.  Life sure is changing, isn't it?

Speaking of plans for 2022, did I tell you I have a "Camp Host" volunteer position for a month this summer?  Yes, it is at a Wisconsin State Forest Campground near Boulder Junction and Minocqua, Wisconsin.  I will be 45 minutes from my sister, and right on a paved trail for the whole month of July.  

The thing about the gig is it doesn't have electric power.  So I will be researching portable power stations and maybe a solar array. I was already wanting to try camping without shore-power.  This will force me to take that step. My friends Keith M. and Bill D. have sent me links to videos of people reviewing the different ones available.  So much to learn!  And oh oh, another big decision... do I get enough power to run my microwave? Coffee pot?  What about the fridge?  I think I will use my fridge like an ice-box and just keep things cool in it and buy bags of ice.  

I just looked at how much power the little heater takes.  Oh my, I hope it isn't cold in July or I would need 1500 watts!

 

Blessed with Fun and Friends

Here are some pictures from some of the fun with friends I have had since I have been in Florida.

 

 

I keep training and recently I jumped this high 10 times.  And I am still going back to the hood to attend exercise and yoga sessions that a few of us do in the clubhouse three days a week.

 


I danced downtown with friends, Sandee, Dave, and Marilynn.

 

Attended a fun Christmas Party at Michael and Susan's (Thanks again you guys!).  Pictured here are a couple of the better-dressed attendees, Bette and Paul.


I went birding with Diane, MaryAnn, and Cindy.  What fun!  Thank you!

I went to High Tea with Marilyn, Linda and Sheila.  I didn't expect to have so much fun playing dress-up.  What a blast.


 I attended a recumbent rally on the Withlacoochee Trail.  It is interesting how you really connect with people and then you don't see them again for several years.  

I went with Frankie and Dennis to the Drum Circle at Fort Island Beach.  There must have been 300 people there.  I danced and danced.

Ann and Fred and Jean and a small bunch of us biked to Front Porch for pie.  It was such a lovely day and we all stuck together for the ride.

I hope you are finding ways to enjoy life.  A good book, a cup of something warm or cold, a conversation.

Books

I have not been working on book three.  It will come... or not.  

The other day a new neighbor at this RV park asked how to get hold of my books.  "Amazon!" I said.  Then I found my last copy of the sunset cover in a box in my storage unit.  I left it on a chair in front of her trailer.

If it stays cold enough long enough, maybe I will get to working on that kind of writing and book promotion.  While I was at the storage unit I pulled out the edited papers my friendly-editors did up for me.   

We will see what comes.



Friday, December 24, 2021

Weebles Wobble - But Then...

 Do you remember that commercial for the children's toy.  They were little people figures with a rounded bottom instead of legs and feet.  The bottom was weighted so the person-figure would pop back upright if you pushed it over.

Well, sometimes people wobble.  I wobble a lot.  Not physically, (due to yoga practice, my balance is pretty good at 68), but decision-wise, I weeble and wobble all over the place.

But before I get into all that, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season.  Whether you are sad or happy, excited or in dread, may you find yourself surrounded by blessings and experience moments that bring smiles and awe.

Let's get you up to date on where I am today.

Last Christmas, due to COVID, I didn't have our traditional holiday pot-luck with friends.  And though I missed the fun gathering and seeing folks, I had a great time with my friends, Regis and Cindy.  We did a lot of birding and a little biking and kayaking over on the East coast of Florida near Titusville.  

So in January when reservations opened up at the Florida State Parks for December, Cindy and I agreed to snatch up a reservation over Christmas time at Oscar Sherer State Park.  The park is located near the Gulf Coast, but not on it.  The park is south of Tampa and north of Fort Meyer, FL.  The park is a conservation of forest and scrub land that is surrounded by urban growth.

Visiting here is a mixture of urban choices of restaurants, shops, and museums while enjoying also the hikes to see the eagles, owls, scrub jays and raccoons that make the area home.  And the Legacy Trail, a paved bicycle trail, goes right through the park! We can hop on it to just ride or to go places.


My one Merry Christmas decoration.


When I got here it was so warm, instead of having a campfire, I light a candle and had a solitary happy hour.

Just a couple miles down the road is where I can go strengthen and stretch and get a warm shower, though the showers here are clean and have warm water.

On my first day exploring the park I saw a man plugged in at a shelter.  Dave lives in the area and travels only by bike.  His bike is electric, he had music and was watching a program on his phone. 

I am enjoying my time here at Oscar Sherer.  I left town not sure if I was going to be happy with my choice that I made last January.

But then I got here and enjoyed a ride to a museum where I got to be blown away with awe inside a small butterfly house.  
 
Then as I was riding back into the campground someone yelled my name!  It was Linda O. who lives at my new "home" in Oasis RV Park in Inverness.  She rides a trike and I have ridden with her and enjoyed her company and now she has her home right next to mine in Oasis just by fate, not by plan it happened.  And now, here at Oscar Sherer, we hadn't a clue we were going to be here at the same time! 

We were both surprised and pleased with the encounter.   Since then we have ridden and explored together. 

Regis and Cindy have arrived and we have done some birding together.  We also went on the ride to the Key/barrier island where the rich folks live.
 



 
When we got to the beach we saw two dolphin only about 50 ft from us.  And we watched a man launch his kite-surf board that had some kind of thing sticking out the bottom that I thought was a rudder to help keep him upright, but when he picked up speed, he and the board he was standing on rose out of the water a few feet and he was surving on that little gizmo.  Fun.

Today we are going to Spanish Point.  That is where I went by myself the first day here and experienced the batch of fresh new butterflies.  I am returning with Regis, Cindy, and Linda and I will spend most my time in the butterfly house.
 




 

Oh!  And yesterday spontaneously, I decided to ride to the Celery Fields where there is supposed to be good birding.  Linda went with me as we rode the trail and zig zagged the streets and side walks to cover the 14 miles to the field.  Right away we saw about 30 yellow and green parrots... black hooded?  We enjoyed watching them.  We arrived back in camp just as the sun set and the temperature dropped.

Speaking of temp, I am glad it cooled off.  I bought a little $35 dehumidifier and it seems to be keeping the windows from steaming up too much and my bedding from getting damp.  Yay!

***

The weeble wooble...

I arrived back in Inverness in late October.  I had been living in my  six by twelve foot trailer (Lilac) for six months.  Then I moved into my 1900 square foot home with cathedral ceilings and two stories.  At the same time, the real estate market was going crazy.  Houses were on the market for one day.  Some had several offers in one day.  Some of the offers were over asking price. Another advantage to put my house on the market was that some are buying without even seeing the property, so the fact that my decorating had not been updated for 30 years wasn't going to be a problem. 

I decided (and I felt so sure of myself) that I would sell my home.  In my neighborhood there are smaller two-bedroom homes. I would sell my big house, wait a year or two, and buy a smaller place in the same neighborhood.  I like the location and my neighbors and the construction of the homes here.

Where would I live in the meantime?  Lilac!  Why not?  It was simple living, I had already enjoyed it for six months.  I already was committed to living in it for three months this winter because I was renting my house out.

I moved forward and got a quote from a realtor, then on the suggestion of neighbors I just started spreading the word before signing with the realtor.  I got an offer (low ball) right away.  I refused it,

 Then... I started to second guess my decision to sell.  Questions came up, obstacles presented themselves.  Then my decision wasn't as rock solid as before.

1) What about homesteading?  The property tax here is based on what you paid for your property and can't go up more than a certain percentage each year if you are homesteaded.  So if I sell and then buy a smaller place for more money than I originally paid for my big place in 2016, then my taxes will be more than I now pay.

2) The price difference between a small two bedroom and the larger four bedroom that I have isn't that much.  I was hoping to come out with 40,000 to 50,000 dollars by making the move.  That probably wasn't realistic.

3) A realtor in the area told a friend that the boom in the market isn't like the previous boom that depended on banks and loose mortgage rules.  These buyers are paying cash. So a bust might be a long time coming if at all. It certainly will not be a big bust, lowering the prices a lot.

4) Clearing out my house, making decisions about what to keep and what to give away, became over-whelming when I looked around.  I had already purged a lot and still there was so much.  How would I ever get through it all, a desk full of papers, a box full of photos, a shelf full of cleaning supplies, a cabinet full of tools.  Everywhere I turned there was more stuff.   

5) I would sometimes walk in and go, "ahhhh, I like this place".  Sometimes I would walk outside and have a fun conversation with a neighbor, or be invited to a spontaneous happy hour.  And I would think, "I really love living here."

I decided not to sell.

Weeble Wobble.

I told my friend Angie that used to sell real estate that I had changed my mind.  I lamented my indecision.  She said that as we age it is harder to make decisions.  She has experienced that a lot with her clients over her career.

I shared that information with another friend.  She is widowed like me and she said, "Oh, thank you for telling me that!  I am horrible at making decisions and sticking with them!  I thought it was just me."

Nope, it's me too.  

Then my car didn't start again.  I have had this periodic problem with my 2011 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van for well over a year.  I turn the key and it starts every time, until the one time when it doesn't.  It grunts.  It isn't the battery (replaced) it isn't the wiring (tightened) it isn't the starter (new one installed).  It isn't the battery in the fob either as I have replaced that twice.  

On top of that I had been dreaming of having a vehicle that could pull more pounds.  I got up the small eastern mountains just fine pulling Lilac, though at times my tachometer would jump and the engine would scream.  I had passed the 100,000 mile mark and noticed that some window gaskets were getting cracked and brittle.  I needed to upgrade.

Decision made, I was firm.  Friends supported the decision, "that's smart," they said.

Then more information came in.

1) Prices of cars and used cars are way up now due to the back log in shipping, shortage in people and parts due to plants having to shut down due to COVID or employees  being ill or they often having to stay home at the first sign of illness.

2) As I looked at car choices I began to settle on just getting another van like mine with the stow-n-go seats so I could haul my trike and screen tent and lots of stuff.  I would get one with a tow package so it would be more reliable towing more pounds.

3)I went to test drive a 2019 and the interior was cheaply made.  It made me love my current van more because it is luxury and quality compared to the newer models.

4) Car Max quoted my van, they would only give me $4000 - $5000 for it.  A newer model would cost me over $30,000.

I decided not to sell.  Cars run for over 200,000 miles these days, I thought, and I have this one ready to haul all my stuff when I travel.

Weeble Wobble.

When I mentioned wanting to keep my van and just fix it up to be better at towing, Keith May gave me a list of things to have the mechanic do.  And then he agreed that keeping this vehicle and just fixing it up would be a good idea.  

Now I have new tires, new hoses and belts, new heavy-duty shocks in back, and a transmission cooler on order.  I also learned I can order the window gaskets on line and my mechanic or a body shop will install them for me.

A lot of my friends and neighbors use this same auto mechanic, Steves Auto Service, in Inverness.  He does a good job and doesn't propose things that don't need fixing.  Tell Eric I sent you.  He was pleased that I decided to keep this van.  The thing that concerns him and me is the life of the transmission, but we will cross that bridge later.

***

You probably don't want to hear about all the fun I have had re-connecting with folks since I have returned home.

I am feeling very blessed to have wonderful people as friends.  So I will mention that Dave, who put the counter top in my Weeroll in 2020, volunteered to put in more shelves for me so I can store more stuff.

Next time I write I will show pictures of the improved interior of my Weeroll.  After he was done I redid some curtains.

So much has happened since I arrived home to Inverness in late October.  If I tried to update you with all the wonderful encounters, the down moments, you would be reading and I would be writing too long.  
 
One more thing.  When I arrived home it was looking like we might have this COVID thing under control as long as we are all vaccinated and now boosted too.  But then a new variant that spreads fast is filling up the hospitals again in places.  This chart below of deaths by counties according to political leanings show that there is a higher number of un-vaccinated people dieing from COVID.  And even though our 45th President is vaccinated and boosted and encourages others to do so,  more of his voters are not vaccinated.

 

  
 
It is mostly those that are not fully vaccinated that end up in the hospital, but even if you don't end up in the hospital, and you get it, you can have residual symptoms... like tiredness, brain fog, achey-ness.  Yuk!
 
So at first I had planned to try to have our bicycle groups annual New Years Day party somehow.  But as time has passed it looks like a surge in cases requires caution, especially among those of us over 65 years old.  So I have cancelled the indoor venue and I am working on creating an outdoor event where all might feel safe... as long as the weather cooperates.
 
But enough writing for me and reading for you.... it is time to go explore some more!

Stay well, laugh until the tears flow. 

 


Topping It Off In Wisconsin

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