The Good, the Bad, and the IRMA

The Good, the Bad, and the IRMA

I purchase my condo and move in the end of July. Less than six weeks later, on a Tuesday, my a/c stops working and has a weird smell. I turn it off before bed. In the morning, it’s working, but I still call a technician who comes out on Wednesday. The technician claims the actual unit is in good shape, but possibly the thermostat is bad. I decide to wait to see if it happens again. When it does, I place a phone call to my local handyman to see if he’d be available to change it out if necessary.  The answer is yes, but not until after he boards up someone’s home. There’s another handyman through a co-worker who could do it some evening after work. Or I could just do it myself.

While, out to sea, Category 5 Hurricane Irma, the largest Atlantic Ocean hurricane in forever, is bearing down on the entire state of Florida. My kids want me to evacuate and even offer to fly me out. It’s a lovely gesture and one that I wish I could accept.

Consider that I work for Hospice, and this week many patients need to be evacuated to inland nursing homes, ALFs, or the special needs shelter with enough medications and oxygen to get them through, plus transportation there and back. In making sure their paperwork is in order, the social worker in charge tries to keep track of each one and where they’re going, while the Patient Care Secretaries hope we don’t miss anything, all the while trying to expedite each one as the clock ticks towards zero hour. By 5:00 o’clock on Friday, we’ve all reached our limit, and we’ve done all we could do.

When I get home, spent, I still have no a/c, I still haven’t figured out if I’m staying at home or going to a friend’s, but for some reason I check my front windows for air leaks. And I find them: glass-meets-glass corner windows that actually push away from each other when I press. I phone a friend who advises me what kind of caulk to get and, after I run to Home Depot, talks me through the caulking process. He even offers to replace my thermostat! (I won’t share his suggestion for barter, so desperate that I actually consider it; suffice it to say it goes to character and lessons learned.)

Meanwhile, throughout the week, whenever possible, I buy bread and water, get cash, make ice, gas up my car, make sure I have batteries for my flashlight, and keep a keen eye on as many weather apps as I can find since I don’t have cable tv.

Saturday morning arrives and I decide that perhaps I can change the thermostat myself. Back to Home Depot, I return with the same brand, check FB and find that wonderful Mike from Michigan has given me the perfect YouTube link for the exact one that I purchased. It really wasn’t hard to do! I cross my fingers and turn it on.

Nothing.

After troubleshooting over the phone with Mike to no avail, I decide to put the old one back on hoping for a better result. Nothing. Another friend offers to help when he’s done with work. I never hear back from him or anyone else.

What is it in people that they feel they can hold out an offer to help and then simply not follow through with said offer?  Do they think that the offer of help without actually helping satisfies some moral code they own? It doesn’t. I’d much prefer honesty, hearing that they would if they could but they’re busy with ‘whatever.’  But to offer and ignore? I am far from impressed with these men.

Instead, I leave my mess where it is, leave a message with Arctic Breeze asking them to please call me after the hurricane, mix a stiff drink, then go to bed early. Sunday morning I take a shower, put my thermostat mess away, pack a few necessities, some food, some adult beverages, and eventually I head to Anita’s to wait out Irma while hoping when I return I’m not flooded or worse.

Irma, like the stereotypical female, keeps changing her mind about her direction. Ultimately she decides in our favor and ends up wreaking havoc on the Gulf side instead.

At Anita’s, we watch TV until we lose power around 9:30 p.m. We knit by candlelight, eat snacks, and get sleepy knowing the full wrath of Irma isn’t set to hit until around 2:00 a.m.  An attempt at sleep, no power, texts and messages to others in danger, and I’m finally up again in the wee hours only to find my hosts have beat me to it. The wind is howling, branches are banging on the wood covering the windows, and the wish for coffee finds Dean in his rain poncho outside braving the elements, boiling water on his propane grill at 3:00 a.m. Coffee never tasted so good!

Anita and I have done this before (remember Matthew?), and again we’re knitting to pass the time, only looking up when startled by a strong gust of howling wind, then looking at each other with round eyes. When daylight finally arrives, things are calmer, and neighbors begin to emerge to take stock of their surroundings. We all breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

After the noon curfew, I drive home through debris-laden streets where, oddly enough, many signal lights are operating. When I pull into my condo, I have to leave my car and move branches and limbs so I can park, then I clear a path to my door, praying all is well inside.

It is.

I know many people will decide they’ve had enough, they’re leaving for safer climates, they’ve given Florida a try, but it’s just not worth it. I understand that. I’m at my wit’s end with this one and currently find myself at the EconoLodge for sanity’s sake. But I’m not ready to bail just yet. I still love it here, and the ensuing months will only bring out the best northeast Florida has to offer. It’s kind of like I’ve paid my dues, and now I’m going to enjoy that payment. I own a little piece of it now; I’m part of it.

I’m staying; good, bad, or otherwise.

Time flies…maybe too fast.

Time flies…maybe too fast.

October 23rd.  I’ve been in my condo a little over a year now. How well I remember a year ago leaving my cute little house and a very dysfunctional relationship to start a new chapter in my life; it’s been an interesting year, for sure.

Muhly GrassFall ushers in the best time of the year in Old Florida. The temperatures are cooler, I can have all the sliding doors open, turn off the a/c, maybe catch the sunrise at a more decent hour. Though I’ll miss the vibrant green kudzu vines of summer, I love when the beautiful rows of muhly grass turn a vibrant shade of pink and wave in unison in the breeze. The beaches empty, the RVs caravan south, and the area preps for an increase in its population.

A lot happened this past year.  I was able to spend three precious months with my mother, months I would not trade for anything.  I saw two fabulous concerts; Bruce Springsteen with Drew, and Rascal Flatts with Meg; unforgettable, both. I shared the tragic loss of a nephew to suicide and, in the circle of life, met my beautiful new granddaughter Audrey. I discovered the joy of ballroom dancing and as an added benefit met some wonderful people.  I lost my Sadie this past Labor Day that brought an additional heartbreak with it.  My job has had its share of unmentionable challenges with the ups and downs and office drama that only a large corporation can offer.  I tried online dating and met some lovely men and a few not-so-lovely ones, made a great friend, and am more hopeful than I’ve been in awhile. I survived Hurricane Matthew, and in doing so learned there are many angels walking around here on earth.

I can only imagine what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to a quick but much-needed cruise with Meg next month. I’ve started working virtually for a transcription company in the hopes of having an exit strategy when the time comes to leave Hospice. I’m eager to spend time with my mom and siblings at Reed Ranch in January, see my Oklahoma kids and grandkids again. Next spring will bring another opportunity to go to Michigan, hopefully with Meg, and see Audrey and her parents.

It has been a surprisingly good year; I have no complaints. I’m grateful for my many blessings; I’m excited about the future. I know we can’t stop time, but perhaps we can slow down a little now.

Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?

Arthur MurrayA million years ago at a New Year’s Eve party I was asked to dance by a young man who knew his dance moves. It didn’t matter that I didn’t. I was able to follow him like I knew what I was doing. We were swing dancing, spinning, matching step for step. At one point he said to me, “Are you ready?” I said, “For what?” He yelled, “Hook your elbows through mine, back to back, and when I say, ‘Jump!’ you jump!” And I did! He flipped me backwards over his head and I landed on my feet like we’d been rehearsing it for weeks! I was hooked.

Since that night I’ve wanted to learn how to dance. Granted, I’m not interested in doing backward flips anymore. But that wonderful feeling of dancing with a partner is something I’ve been looking for for quite awhile.

Enter Arthur Murray Dance Studio, new to Palm Coast, with the wonderful young Russian couple 13569018_1379894012027846_6514564640992986896_oSasha and Magda. These two exude the joy of dancing, and they want to share their excitement with anyone who is interested. I had my first ‘trial’ lesson over a week ago and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. Sasha claimed I was a ‘natural.’ I take that for what it is, but I will admit I felt comfortable learning the different dances and was able to move through several types in less than an hour. The next night was the Dance Party where anyone who is a member can come for group lessons and then spend the second hour dancing with everyone. It’s so interesting dancing with different partners, seeing how it is going from one to another.

My first paid lesson was tonight, and I left feeling invigorated, my mood elevated! There’s another Dance Party tomorrow night, and I’m really looking forward to it! Sure, it would be great to have a partner to go with me and learn alongside me. But I don’t, and it won’t stop me, because I’m having a wonderful time simply dancing!

Mr. Shaw said it best…

Mr. Shaw said it best…

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.”

I took one of those silly tests that occasionally pop up on Facebook. This one was, “What is your pet peeve?” I clicked the button and it apparently analyzed my Facebook page or something. The answer that popped up surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. “Lack of humor” was the response.10400245_1064119489617_1162_n

The reason it surprised me is because it is so true, and I’ll put this squarely on my dad. The way he was, the way he made us kids laugh around the table with his silly “Outhouse” joke or his crazy stories and witty one-liners…that sense of humor was passed down to all 11 of his children. He was the life of every party. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be the word “Smile” in his handwriting along my wrist. He made everyone smile and taught his kids the value of laughter.

Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” 

I agree. Humor can get you through so many hard times in life; a disagreement with your spouse, a difficult workplace, challenging kids, financial hardships. I try and find the humor wherever I can, because if I take life and myself too seriously, I find it’s easy to succumb to negativity. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious about issues, but if I can find the humor – however deep it is buried – I can get through anything. I believe humor is God’s way of keeping us humble. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” 

George Bernard Shaw knew what he was talking about.

My baby’s baby

My baby’s baby

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My baby just had a baby. Well, he and his wife did, my daughter-in-law, the mother of my baby’s baby. I have three grandchildren by my oldest child that I enjoy tremendously, even though due to distance I only get to see them a couple times a year. Their dad and mom are a hoot, and so are the kids, and they get more fun every time I see them.

But now my youngest son has a baby girl. Audrey Jean was born June 17th. She has one of those palindrome birthdays: 61716. Reads the same both ways. And her parents are so in love with her already I don’t think they know what hit them. As a parent you can tell them about that kind of love, but they’ll typically either shrug it off or think you’re just being ‘mom.’ I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think that anymore.