Posted in Family, Just for fun, Travel

“THAT was a GREAT GAME!”

Perhaps you remember when Robin Williams played Peter Pan in the movie “Hook,” the story about a grown man with two kids and a wife, a businessman who has forgotten who he is. There’s a line near the end when he’s finally leaving Neverland and the Lost Boys. During their goodbyes, one of the smaller boys exclaims, “THAT was a GREAT GAME!” describing their last adventure with Peter and Captain Hook. To me it summed up the movie perfectly.

Seems like after every road trip with my daughter Meg or yet another new ‘adventure’ with her, I feel like saying that. Because it always is! And this last time was no exception. The short story was that I would fly out to Albuquerque on Thanksgiving day, help her pack up her car and clean the house, and the next day we would begin our trek back to Florida, stopping at her brother’s in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City, for a quick overnight before driving the rest of the way home.

Except early in the morning the day we were to leave, Meg really wanted me to see a New Mexico sunrise. Since I had gained two hours and I’m an early-bird anyway, I was up and ready to go well before I needed to be. She had a particular place in mind about 25 minutes south where she said it was the perfect spot. So off we went. The Albuquerque skies were were clear and star-studded, but as we drove south to Los Lunas, it became quite foggy as if we were driving into the clouds. I suggested we may not be able to see the sunrise here, but she wanted to keep going just in case it cleared. Finally, after driving through town and onto some dirt roads, she stopped the car, sighed, and said, “Well, I wanted it to be a surprise, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen now. We were going for a sunrise hot-air-balloon ride. Merry Christmas!”

I was stunned, and then I was so disappointed, and then so appreciative, all at the same time! Here we were with a helluva long drive ahead of us, but knowing how sad I was to have missed the balloon festival, she had arranged for me to go up in a hot air balloon! This kid!

After driving onto the field where the crew was, it was decided we would head back to Albuquerque where the weather was clear. We might miss the sunrise, but I didn’t care. I love anything to do with flying, and Meg knew it. She had decided if I was finally in Albuquerque, I was getting my first balloon ride. So back we went.

It was chilly and crisp. We rose to around 2600 feet, moving with the air in total silence until the burners were lit. I’ll never forget the quiet. Even with a basketful of people, it was quiet. I’ve been in big and small airplanes, open-cockpits and gliders. But this was different. And while I don’t like walking towards the edge of anything high up and looking down – my knees turn to jelly – I had no trouble in that basket. I don’t know why. It was just … peaceful. And yes, I did think of Dorothy and Kansas and Oz. How could I not?

After landing (with the help of a large bush and a lot of laughter) we were asked if we wanted to assist in packing it up. Slowly and carefully that gigantic balloon was deflated, folded, and repacked into a large canvas bag that weighed well over 400 pounds. Everyone took turns having their picture taken on it to get any remaining air out!

It was a short four days, but as always with Meg, we packed as much into them as we could. After three great highlights to the trip – getting Meg, the balloon ride, and seeing my son and his family – all I could think of was, THAT was a GREAT GAME!”

Posted in Florida, Randomness

The gales of November

I live in Florida. We went through pretty much the entire 2022 hurricane season with no named storms. To say that’s unusual would be an understatement. But October and now November have more than made up for it. I remember the song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” by Gordon Lightfoot where he sings of the gales of November. I always thought that had to do with the Great Lakes; Lake Superior, in particular. But now I’m not so sure.

Mid October Ian crept slowly towards our peninsula building in strength, keeping everyone guessing until it made landfall at Fort Myers Beach as a high-end CAT-4 hurricane. After dragging itself through, the devastation left behind was mind-boggling. Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, Captiva, Pine Island – flattened; obliterated as if bombs had gone off leaving the islands and shores barren; half-erect buildings leaning into now empty lots strewn with debris. It even took out a bridge cutting the mainland off from the island as if to say, don’t bother; there’s nothing for you here now. As it moved slowly across the state, it caused major flooding from west to east.

I truly thought that would be it for the 2022 hurricane season. There were a few storms that went towards Central America, but it looked like we would be in the clear until the season ended. We weren’t.

Nicole, a very disorganized tropical storm, was edging itself towards a CAT-1 and then scaling back, wobbling a bit to keep everyone guessing where she would land. The east coast area south of Vero Beach ended up her target, though since it was such a huge system (700+ miles wide), the entire coastline was in the zone. We took precautions. We knew there’d be some power outages. They closed bridges to the mainland. But it was a CAT-1. What’s the worst that could happen?

The top photos are in the area of South Daytona. I cannot imagine what this has to feel like as a home owner. The last few are in Flagler Beach. I won’t go into the particular heartbreak I feel for Flagler Beach; I lived there over 10 years and fell in love with it. But what was is essentially gone. The homes didn’t get the destruction the Fort Myers’ area did, but the beaches, the dunes, the walkovers – when all is said and done, it’ll never be the same. In the repairs and reconstruction to come, they will have to forego the aesthetics and concentrate instead on the stability and function of a maybe not-so-attractive alternative if we’re to keep any semblance of the area alive.

So on 11/12 I’m fairly certain the worst is over as far as the 2022 hurricane season. But it has wreaked havoc across this state. I think no one, outside of the Panhandle perhaps, came through unscathed. Is this to be the new normal? Have the warmed seas now made way for future gales of November?

As of right now I’m unsure whether I want to find out.

Posted in Moving forward

Where You lead, I will follow

Seems like life changes if not daily, then certainly week by week, with the unexpected coming unexpectedly just when you think you have things finally figured out.

I like change. I do. No one could say that I haven’t had a few changes this past year, though certainly not all good. And while sometimes change is hard (sometimes!?), once you get on the other side of it, you find your new normal and settle in. Until it changes again.

In 2018 I retired from a job I really loved for a man I thought I loved. We had fun during early retirement, traveling around the country visiting friends and family and enjoying the newness of no routine. Then in 2020 during COVID my former boss asked if I was interested in coming back to hospice to help a fellow worker, and I could do it remotely. I’ve always loved working from home; I did it for 15 years as a court reporter while raising my family. I’m disciplined enough – or maybe I just love what I do enough – to sit myself down and do the work that needs to be done. I told her yes, absolutely. That was almost two years ago.

Since then, the office management changed, and I was told my position was actually not a position at all. I could no longer work from home. They said I could come back and work 40 hours a week, but because of the distance, I had to decline. Then, because I knew the position so well, I was asked if I would be willing to train the people in the office. In a nutshell, I was asked to train myself out of a job.

Fast-forward, and I have spent the past two weeks driving 35 miles to the office and back every day doing the training that was asked of me. They brought someone from the Orlando office that needed training. I’ve trained the two workers from my office. And then upper management came in and started showing me all kinds of new things until I finally asked her, “Why?” Her response? “I’m training you to train.”

This past week they let one of the office staff go, and I am now faced with a choice. I can have my old job back, and they will allow me to work part-time at the office making the drive three days a week instead of five. Or I can accept a position as a type of regional trainer traveling to other offices throughout the state helping organize and train in the role I know so well, working only as needed. And while that sounds ideal, what happens when I’m no longer needed?

On the one hand, I like the idea of being in a familiar place doing familiar things with people I know and enjoy. I’m good at it. It’s the drive I don’t like. On the other hand, I rather like the idea of going to different places, being challenged in new ways, and having my expenses paid for however long that takes. I suppose I can simply try one of these and see how I like it.

It’s yet another change looming in the not-too-distant future. But this time I’m open to it. I’ve been talking to God, telling Him I’ll go wherever I’m led without worry or angst because I know the path is already laid out for me. And while I don’t know what His plan IS for me, this time I’m trusting my Spirit and will follow where it leads.

Posted in Daytona Beach, Family & Friends, Florida

Remember when…?

I watched in trepidation along with everyone else as Ian made its way past Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico, bee-lining Florida’s west coast, building in strength, keeping everyone on pins and needles regarding its landing.

It’s hard living in Florida. You know people all around the state – and it’s a BIG state! While you hope and pray you are not in the bull’s eye of any approaching storm, there’s relief and a little bit of guilty angst when it goes elsewhere. While we might feel as if we’ve dodged a bullet, that bullet is still heading straight towards someone we know and care about.

Ian took care of that by becoming the biggest, baddest storm in recent history; big enough to cover nearly the entire state with winds spanning 400+ miles, the highest recorded gusts reaching 150mph. And it was slow, moving across the state at around 9mph. Large, slow storms produce a lot of storm surge; up to 12 feet on some Fort Myers’ barrier islands. And the water didn’t just affect the west coast. Florida is flooded throughout the state, including many central and east coast areas.

Ian arrived on the sunrise side Wednesday night and Thursday, the outer bands heralding in the weakened now tropical storm. Don’t underestimate a tropical storm. We had wind gusts in the 80s. Out my front window, the Intracoastal looked like the ocean on a blustery day with whitecaps flying over the banks. Our palm trees swayed in submission to the winds, their fronds flying sideways like hair in a wind tunnel. Eaves flew off the roofs of the buildings or were bent sideways, banging with the wind throughout the night. I lost power, but miraculously only for a few hours. I thought it would never end. And I was only in a tropical storm.

My brother and his wife stayed in their townhouse in Fort Myers, hunkered behind hurricane shutters and no doubt praying to our sainted mother to make it through unscathed. They’re originally from Colorado, and this was their first hurricane. What a first. They’re fine. They’re without power and will be for some time. They have someplace to go until it’s restored. But there are hundreds of thousands of people, victims of Ian, who do not. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Once again Mother Nature has changed the landscape – and the seascape – of this blue ball we live on. So many memories made in these places have had their backdrops painfully erased. Thankfully we DO have our memories, and we can share them with others beginning with, “Remember when…?”

  • Ian's track
  • Satellite view
  • CAT 4 hurricanes - comparison
  • Hurricanes Charley and Ian comparison
  • Inside the eye
  • Naples
  • North Fort Myers
  • Fort Myers Marina by Dylan Federico
  • Cape Coral
  • Bridge to Pine Island
  • Sanibel Causeway before
  • Sanibel Causeway after
  • Fort Myers Beach by Dylan Federico
  • Fort Myers Beach by Dylan Federico
  • Fort Myers Beach by Dylan Federico
  • Fort Myers Beach by Dylan Federico
  • S Flagler Beach, NE Florida
Posted in Moving forward, Thoughts

A life that I love

I saw this humungous white feather recently while spending some time with my daughter at the beach. I knew Mom and Dad and all our loved ones were smiling down and watching over us.

Several years ago, after meeting David, I was updating passwords. I used the words ‘newme…’ in many.

But that was the old me; I know that now. That was the me that settled, that overthought, that didn’t listen to my gut, my Holy Spirit, the me that lived with ‘shoulds’ and ‘what-ifs’. And look where it got me.

It got me to believe in myself. It got me from the thick of the forest and the depth of the rabbit hole to the clearing on the other side where I’ve learned I don’t ‘need’ anyone else to be happy with myself. I’ve packed and moved twice in as many months. I’ve assembled all types of furniture, fixed my e-bike and my car, put up home hardware I never had before, all the time relying on ME. And the feeling of accomplishment I got is so much more satisfying than I could have imagined.

Believe me, I’m still a work in progress. I still have to learn to accept God’s love for me even when I don’t understand it. Would I like someone to share my life with? Sure. But I now know that I won’t settle for the same ol’, same ol’. I may never have that ‘love of my life’ feeling, and I can accept that gladly. But I will have a life that I love.

Posted in Daytona Beach, Randomness

I hate Wally World

I have to write this down while it’s still fresh in my mind. And then I have to email it to myself as a daily reminder to NOT SHOP AT WALMART! I don’t know how people regularly shop there much less WORK there.

I literally had to talk out loud to myself this afternoon to get myself to go to Wally World. Publix is right around the corner, but they didn’t have some of the items I needed, and when I checked online, Walmart did. I put it off as long as I could, then I finally said to myself, ‘Self, just get it over with. Try the one south of here; maybe it’s better than the other one.’ That was around 4:30.

Two hours later, after discovering they didn’t have any of the items I specifically went there for (yep, I could’ve gone to Publix), I went through the self-checkout because God forbid there’s anyone working the store checkout lanes. Packing up my bags, I headed outside only to be stopped by a drenching downpour. I waited about 10 minutes then said the hell with it and headed to my car. It let up on the way home.

I made two trips up and down the elevator with bags. I was starving, so I quickly scarfed down some food while putting things away. I eventually realized I was missing several items; like about $15 to $20 worth of chicken salad, deli turkey, cheese, eggs, bread, wraps! I went back to the car to see if I’d left a bag there. Nope. I tried calling Walmart, but by then it was going on 8:00 p.m., and the phone just rang and rang. I thought I might wait until tomorrow to go back but decided, no, just bite the bullet, get in the car and drive the 20 minutes back to the store, now in the dark.

As I was walking into the store there was a man at the entrance leaning against the wall. When I walked past him, his little dog lunged at me, just missing my ankle. The man barely looked up. Inside I asked who to talk to about my groceries and was directed to customer service (I use this term loosely). I told her what happened, she looked through some book, asked if I had used the self-checkout, then said, ‘Yeah, someone probably came up after you and just took your bags. It happens all the time.’ Then she walked away.

Seriously?

Maybe it was all a self-fulfilling prophesy. I don’t know and I don’t care. But the next time someone goes on and on about how much money they save when they shop at Wally World, or how can I shop at Publix when it costs so much more, I may consider sharing this story with them. Or not. It doesn’t matter. I hate that store.

Is ‘hate’ too strong a word?

Nah. I hate that store.

Posted in Moving forward, Thoughts

You Learn

"After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts,
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman,
Not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
that you really are strong,
and you really do have worth,
and you learn and learn…
With every goodbye you learn."

By Jorge Luis Borges
Posted in Moving forward, Thoughts

The Other Side

My last few posts have been, well, depressing is one word that comes to mind; a little disturbing since now, looking back, I see the progression towards the rabbit hole I’d tried so hard to resist and avoid. But there it was, lurking just beyond the forest as I made my way through. Or at least I thought I had.

I’m not going to repeat the past months here, only to say that I had hoped I could stay at White Feather for at least a year. Turns out I could not. Turns out I had six months, which would have had me looking for another place to rent in the midst of snowbird arrivals and holidays. I couldn’t face that, so I started looking for a rental. Again. Everything was overpriced, overly small, or just a room in a house. The fact that I looked at Facebook Marketplace at all still surprises me. But again, Mom is up there guiding me in ways I’m not aware of until afterward. On there I found a 2/2 condo on the third floor of a 55+ complex on the outskirts of Ormond Beach – yes, I now have a Daytona Beach address – but it overlooks the pool and the Intracoastal and I have it for a year, at least. I again started packing. I arranged for movers this time, and in mid July, I got the keys to my current place. I’ve had to start completely over again. Oh, I had some kitchen stuff, a lamp or two, my office. But no furniture to speak of. No bed, no dresser, no living room, dining room; nothing that makes a home livable. Thankfully the place had some very old, very dated things in it that got me by until the house sale when I was finally able to hit some used furniture places and start filling it in.

I think it’s so interesting how we perceive ourselves. I’ve gotten through some pretty difficult times going back to my teens, and usually, at the time, I’d wonder how I was going to do it. This past year is almost a repeat of the period my dad died, though I won’t go into that. Suffice it to say, this wasn’t my first rodeo. And while my head was going in a million different directions still waiting on the house sale, still waiting on the divorce, planning a move again, juggling all that, my days consisted of going through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other, falling into a fitful sleep, and repeating that the next day.

My friend Anita and I share a common experience with what we call ‘the rabbit hole.’ It’s a dark place that gets more comfortable the longer you’re in it. Comfortable to the point where you don’t want to climb out, you don’t want to interact with anyone; not your friends, not your kids; you just want to lay down and be miserable in your misery. That’s where my good friend Chris found me the last time. After sharing her experience and how she finally came out of it, I decided the next day to contact my doctor who suggested we try an antidepressant. He said it could take two to three weeks to see results. Silently I wondered if I could make it that long. He called it in. It was a low dose, so I wasn’t expecting a miracle. I know about depression and chemical imbalances in the brain. Again, the rodeo thing. I was loathe to go back down this road, but I knew I had to do something.

Morning came, and it was as if a fog had lifted and pulled me out of the hole. Just like that. I woke no longer feeling the heavy weight of sadness and despair that had plagued me. It wasn’t as if I were high or giddy. No. It was an evening of my mood, a balance that wasn’t there before. My tolerance and patience came back. I wasn’t crying or tearing up suddenly. I was … relieved. If it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t have believed it could happen that quickly. What it suggests to me is that the stress of the past six months had taken its toll on my body, both externally with the eczema, and internally in my brain, knocking out whatever that pill replaced so that I could function again, live again, enjoy the sunrises and sunsets again.

I think I’m on the other side now, or at least pretty darned close to it. It’s been less than a month that I left Flagler Beach, but it seems like a lifetime ago. If you’ve never experienced a deep depression, first be grateful, but second, don’t underestimate the seriousness and scariness of it. I don’t ever want to go there again. If I have to stay on these, I will, but we’ll see. I will be forever grateful to Chris who most likely saved me from either being Baker Acted or not being here at all. I think there’s only so much one body can take. When this happened long ago, I had family around, lots of friends, my kids were younger and more dependent, and my mom came to my rescue. It was different, but it was still scary. This time it was just me. I’ve always to believed that I’m strong, that I have what my dad used to call MOXY. And maybe I do. I’m still here; right?

Now I need to look forward and stop dwelling on what was, on what happened. It’s in the past. Everyone has problems. Everyone goes through hard times. Some have people around them, but some do not. I’ve learned to be more compassionate, more patient. I don’t judge. If you have been lucky enough to avoid the rabbit hole, be very grateful. Too many people don’t make it to the other side.