What a Wonderful Morning!

I’ve been home for two weeks in a row now which seems unusual to me. I’ve been riding my bike for exercise almost every day and have logged 40 miles this week – not a lot for an avid biker but for a late middle age woman, it’s not bad.  I have almost established a habit for my Saturday bike ride. My motto is “twice the distance at half the speed”. It makes for a relaxed and interesting ride since I plan to explore a bit or go somewhere different each time.

I live in a city that is full of mobile home parks and they are wonderful places to ride.  On the weekend, there is almost no traffic to worry about once you enter a mobile home park and when you do meet someone they most likely are walking or riding in a golf cart, they wave.  Saturday rides are not just for exercise, they are for calming the mind, stirring curiosity, and enjoying the sunshine and breeze (when you ride a bike there is always a breeze…). Come with me.

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The traffic was intense on this street…

There are a thousand ways to do pretty much the same type of housing. If you don’t believe that, you need to ride through a mobile home park to convince yourself it is true. I’m not a big fan of mobile homes to live in myself, but I love to look at them, at their porches, their landscaping, their ramps, their weird colors, roof lines, windows. The mystery house of the morning was the usual basic shape but the street side had only a garage door. Both other visible sides had no entryways. What’s with that? There is a reason hermits don’t go to mhp’s to live, mainly that they are very social places and people live to decorate their entrances with pink flamingoes, flags, name signs and plants. But no visible entrance? I couldn’t figure this one out.

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On to the next attraction – the champion camphor tree. Pictures do not do justice to its hugeness. Nature always inspires me and I am in awe looking at this tree. The sign explains.

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Bradenton was on national news lately with heavy rains that flooded the area. This next picture shows a drainage ditch that filled to overflowing and did flood the parks that I rode through.

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Can you imagine water rising to cover the road? It did.

Commonly there is a fence of some kind around each park, but if you know where to find them, there may be gates or walkways connecting one to the other.  I crossed a shaded wood bridge over the ditch to the next park.

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Doesn’t it invite exploration?

Without having to cross any major roads or deal with busy traffic, I finally made my way through a small golf course to this destination. I love shakes…

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One hour, ten miles – it was a great ride. Getting out and doing something active, just for the fun of it, is important for people of any age. I find it is essential for me. It made a wonderful morning, on a wonderful day.

Do you sense this need? What do you do that meets it? I’d like to know.

 

 

My Daughter’s Horse and I

A visual sequence that brings good times and a great horse to mind…

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Ghost want to go for a ride? No? This looks like a belt and I think I need it to be tight. Don’t be holding your breath now…
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Yeah, I’m on. Nice horsey, you knew that was going to happen so don’t act all surprised. Nice horsey, let’s go.
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Round and round the track we go – you lift your feet so pretty and I haven’t fallen off. We’re good.
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We are so cool, and I am still firmly in the saddle. Let’s keep it that way, thanks.
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You are so pretty and white. I am red and blue. We look so red, white and blue together. I make you look good, don’t I? Smile for the camera please.
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Good ride Ghost. Now let’s get back to the barn before something bad happens…
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Whaaa!!! Getting off is supposed to be the easy part! Gimme my shirt back!
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That was embarrassing. I’m outta here. Don’t pretend you’re sad.

I really do have fun riding and am not quite as fall phobic as I make myself out to be. And Ghost was always a good horse. RIP 5-11-2016

Looking for Adventure

I have this fear, and I’m  sure we all do – that we are going to run out of adventures and slip ignominiously into the boredom abyss. To stave off this looming possibility I decided to sign up as an Uber driver.

I signed up a few weeks ago actually, almost by accident because it was so easy. I wondered if I could and before I knew it, I had. Not that they don’t vet their drivers, because they do.  But it takes a matter of minutes instead of the days that usually pass when you want to be cleared for something.

I took my first rider the next day, just to see what it was like before I left to visit my daughter. I took a nice tourist 10 miles south to visit a friend of his. It was the briefest of exposure to the Uber app but enough to make me think “I can do this. I can.”

Now, more than three weeks have passed, my Mom has gone back to the north woods, and Uber has started sending me messages asking why I’m not driving and hinting about my partner account being at risk (AAAAGGGHHH!!!) They call it an inactivity alert. Of course we wouldn’t want that to happen, so I went driving yesterday. All day. I’ll show them.

It’s slightly addictive. It’s like the feeling I get when I’ve just published a post and am waiting for reactions. The phone starts ringing and flashing. I get such an adrenaline rush. I have to accept that invite. I have to see who wants a ride. I have to get out there and sit in long lines of slow moving traffic.

No, wait…

I thought I was used to the long red lights at intersections. Here in Florida, probably no where else, the traffic is horrible, horrible, horrible in the winter. The weather is nice and that’s why so many people are here, in their cars. But now, the red lights seem much longer, like maybe half an hour when I am trying to get quickly to a passenger. And maybe even longer than that in cases like tonight when five teen-age boys were giggling and snorting over something on their ride to Shake ‘n Steak, in my car.

I won’t get rich driving for Uber (more about that later) but I’m already finding it adventurous. Can’t wait to write about the experience as it progresses… just sayin’.

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Evidently there are other desperate adventurers in the area…

 

How to Get Dog Tired

I could lie down on the floor just like this, right now.
I could lie down on the floor just like this, right now.

A couple of weeks without writing goes by so fast – I don’t even notice.  Sometimes I just want to go live life for a while so I have something to write about.  I think so much better when my hands are busy, especially when I’m outside and busy.

This morning it was English Ivy.

“That’s a really pretty plant covering your fence now.  Couldn’t you plant some of that after the new fence goes in? It looks like it grows pretty fast.”

Um, where is the fence?
Um, where is the fence?

My daughter and I were discussing plans for replacing the existing fence which is nearly ready to dissolve in the next rain.  It has been there since the house was built in the 50’s.  The dogs keep finding/making holes and escaping. The new fence has been in the plans for a while but fencing here in Washington costs so much it takes my breath away.

“There’s a problem with that plant – it’s an invasive species so I don’t think we should keep it”.   So that was settled. It had to go, and I had a new project.  I love having a clear, understandable goal with a probable outcome (because it  helps make up for all the unclear, non-understandable elements in my life that have no known outcome…)

Armed with gloves and two sizes of nippers I took off the outermost layer of vine, hoping to see fence.  But as with many plants with dense foliage, there was another layer of dead, dry leaves, mold and dirt beneath the living.  Clipping and hacking my way down to the fence, I began to notice the dust in the air, especially when a new section was pulled clear.  The thought occurred that it might not be good to be breathing all that.  This thought was soon followed by coughing that I couldn’t control and a nasal sinus condition that made me wish I had an inhaler.  I’ve never had allergies, but this stuff wanted me to develop one.

Eh, no plant easily deters me from a well made plan.  I coughed my way through and stuffed all that section of ivy into trash bags.  Some of the main branches were two inches thick and many of the vines had grown right into the fence and become part of it  – and I only mention that to impress you and to explain why I’m now tired as a dog. And I don’t  know if dogs are really tired or just bored so I’m just sayin’ that they look tired and that’s how I feel.

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There was a fence under there and I found it.

A Day in which I Acquire a Boat

For some reason, I have had presents on my mind lately.  No, not because of the not so subtle Christmas marketing EVERYWHERE. It’s more because my parents’ birthdays are both this month, and I was making a gift or two to take to our family Thanksgiving next week.  I love presents.  It’s fun to make them, fun to give them, fun to get them.  I can plan the first two, the making and giving, but it’s hard to plan getting a present unless you are great at buying yourself gifts.  As I pretty much always do when thinking to myself, I ran that thought past God. ( He’s listening to my thoughts anyway so I might as well be conversant.) ” It would sure be nice to get a present God.  I know there’s really nothing I need, but if there is something you wouldn’t mind giving me, I’d just like the excitement of getting a present. ”

For years now I have been taking guests and friends out on the water in kayaks that I borrow from a good friend.  When I know someone wants to go I call my friend several days ahead to make sure he isn’t planning to use his kayaks, then I borrow the husband’s truck, drive 20 minutes and pick up the kayaks which are on a trailer.  I have to have the right size hitch on the truck, which means I’ve lost and bought at least two of them.  I have to hook up the lights on the trailer, which means I’ve lost, borrowed and bought at least two electrical adapters.  I have to lock and unlock the trailer hitch, which means I’ve had to buy and replace a couple of padlocks.  I’ve had to buy and borrow life vests for numerous people of varying sizes.  All this to say that there is a lot of work involved in having fun on the water.  But it is still just so interesting to float around on these beautiful rivers, surrounded by birds and tropical wonders that I’ve considered it well worth the trouble.

Last winter my cousin Mark, who loves to fish, decided we should look for used kayaks.  If we each had one, he and a buddy could go fishing in them, and I could take friends out for a paddle too. They would get more use if we shared them. So we spent most of the season looking on craigslist and at sales but nothing was quite right. I continued borrowing from my friend.

Last week my cousin arrived for the winter and decided to go buy his fishing kayak. There was a sale at a sports store and he wanted to get it done.  Back he came with a kayak in his Suburban.  His wife’s remark was “You know this means that tomorrow you’re going to see a great deal on a used kayak…” I was there, I heard her say that.  Unbelievably, fifteen minutes after I got home I got a text from another cousin in town, Kim, telling me that her neighbor was selling his two kayaks for less than half their value and they were in like new condition, with paddles, seats and life vests.

Something like that almost demands to be considered.  I’ve been a little financially stressed lately, making sure all my medical bills get paid, lots of house repair expenditures, etc… Even though I’ve managed to meet these demands I still feel insecure enough that it’s hard for me to shell out money for fun when so much serious stuff has to be paid for. I mean, I get nervous eating out, much less buying a boat.  I decided to ask the husband if he would be upset with me if this came to pass.  Would he tell me the garage was too full already?  Would he remind me that we’re trying to downsize, not accumulate more?  In what direction might he freak out?  What he said, “No, kayaks are always easy to sell again so if they’re a good deal, get them.”  Ha ha.

I still thought they might be terrible kayaks, ones that wouldn’t be sturdy enough to hold  Mark (who is a big man) or maybe they would smell like dead fish, or be some awful color.  All of those possibilities could keep me from having to make the decision… But they were beautiful, hardly used, top quality, and the friendly man from England who was selling them clearly wasn’t out to get his money back.  Oh my goodness, we bought them, picked them up an hour later and went immediately out to the river to test them out.  They floated very nicely.

Instead of spending the day at home like I had planned, I got to do this.

the water was still and almost black!  My boat is blue!
the water was still and almost black! My boat is blue!
Reflections!  Two of everything along the bank.
Reflections! Two of everything along the bank.
love to look at all this crazy Florida plant life!
love to look at all this crazy Florida plant life!
did you know pelicans roosted in trees?
did you know pelicans roosted in trees?
Cousin Mark in his new fishing kayak.
Cousin Mark in his new fishing kayak.
Our two beauties.
Our two beauties.
Me, enjoying a present.
Me, enjoying a present.

It’s not that my prayers for blessings always get answered in the affirmative or immediately.  But today I got a present and I really had no idea it was coming. I’m going to give God the credit.  It’s the kind of thing he would have fun doing. I’m just sayin’…

Those Moments

There are moments of reflection, and I seem to have a lot of them lately, where I think “what if I never get to do this (fill in the blank) again?”  I have done a bunch of really fun things that I never intended to stop doing but haven’t had a chance to repeat.  

Last week, cleaning files, I found my maps and notes from my two Appalachian hikes.  I know the exact section I wanted to do next but have not gotten back.

And later, the three day walk for breast cancer – I did 60 miles and it was so gratifying to have made it to the end. I’m having trouble with my knees now and wonder if it is permanent or temporary.  

I found the handbook for the trail ride my daughter and I took across Florida, the menu from the chuck wagon, and the schedule of ranches that where we camped. My horse lives four hours away from me now and I rarely ever get to ride. Will it happen again?  Have I put these plans and dreams away?  

All this came to mind yesterday, at the pool of all places.  I don’t go to a pool very often but I have always loved to swim.  My childhood was full of long afternoons at the lake swimming and making up water games with my brothers and friends.  Here I was with Gracie, who is eight and in that early stage of water love that I remembered so clearly.  We had a few little races and tested how long we could hold our breath underwater.

I got one of those moments of reflection.  Some body memories never leave you and I could sooo feel the arch of my back and the body swirl of a backward somersault in the water.  Thought I, to myself, “do it again, it’s only water, how could you possibly hurt yourself?”  

(Are you poised for disaster?)

I was right, it didn’t hurt.  It felt downright good. (fooled you?)

 Gracie was very impressed and we spent a few minutes while she tried it and practiced.  As we did, we migrated to the height of water most convenient for her, about 3 1/2 feet. .My next backward flip demo was a little short on water depth, and I found myself kissing the floor of the pool at the bottom of my circle.  Well, not even that really. I scraped the tip of my nose and chin, but the redness kind of disappeared into the sunburn I had already gotten. I appear unscathed.  

It’s kind of nice to find that you CAN do it again, sometimes. You might have to think it through and be a little more careful, but you can do it.  If you want to.  If you don’t care that you are the only person over 60 in the pool doing handstands and back flips… just sayin’.

DaVinci Dating

For a couple months now the husband and I have been trying to revive dating as a regular practice. It’s not the easiest thing to do if you’re at the stage of life where staying home is really, well, kind of fun. But we try. The husband compromises and goes to movies with me. I compromise and go to things that catch his attention while watching TV commercials.  It was a commercial for the Diiscover DaVinci exhibit that prompted this particular date. “I want to go to that.” was all he had to say to make me rush back to the half price Groupon I had recently deleted and snatch us some tickets.  Finding a way to do it at a discount is almost like a message from God that it’s meant to be, in my eyes.

After a couple weeks wondering when to do it, on the last day of the exhibit, we set out in the morning – because it certainly wouldn’t be crowded then, right? No, wrong.  There was a good crowd already in the one room auditorium.  We got our wrist bands for all day admittance and started with an overview movie that was being shown on the stage.  One of the guided tours that was just finishing was louder than the movie narration (did I mention it was a one room exhibit?) so my eyes were on a different script than my ears – but it was all about DaVinci, so who cares?Read More »

Another Interesting Day

It’s July already and I’m having another interesting day.  Thankfully, this one had nothing to do with me visiting a doctor’s office or my health, but it does have a medical component to it.  Remember hearing about the old days when doctors made house calls?  Well, guess what? My daughter, the veterinarian, still does (read about her here). She traveled 275 miles to see this client.

patient sign-in sheet
patient sign-in sheet

We had a restful Fourth of July weekend visiting Doctor Julia ( ) in Jacksonville at her home. Then yesterday the Doc, the grand dog Tess, the husband and I all traveled south to our home. Julia still has lots of friends here and a couple of them breed Dalmatians – the dogs with all the spots. There was a litter of puppies due to go to their new homes this week and they needed their health certificates.  I always love watching the Doc work so I volunteered to go along and help.  I’m a nurse and a good animal holder.

It was kind of like being at try-outs for a remake of “101 Dalmatians”.  There were 10 of the cutest, roly, poly, wiggly pups waiting to be brought out, one by one, and checked out from head to toe.  And the process is not all that different from what I’ve recently been through, although I wasn’t checked for worms (yet).  Listen to heart and lungs, check ears and mouth, temp, stool sample, vaccines and de-wormer, toenail clip… an assembly line that amounted to a good morning’s work.

The Doc at the poop station checking for parasites...
The Doc at the poop station checking for parasites…

 

Doc, I'm seeing spots before my eyes...
Doc, I’m seeing spots before my eyes…