Flow - Just Livin'

Flow - Just Livin'
Florida Sunrise

Monday, 28 December 2009

Visit with Rachel and Family

Only a small selection of photos I took while in northwest Arkansas for Lela's birthday party.

I think Lela and I became soul mates while I was there. Or as was written of King David and Jonathan, our "souls were knit together."

Happy birthday little girl!

video

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Catching Up

Today has been a Pajama Day. Sort of. I'm spending the week with Rachel, Rick and Lela, and today we stayed home and played and looked at pictures and talked and read. And walked....if she has a grasp on one adult finger, Lela speeds around the room as if she has been waiting too long for legs to grow strong enough to take her where she wants to go. And she wants to go EVERYWHERE!

At last I think I can upload some things, so maybe I will catch up on the blog.

Lela With Her Nonnie, Oct 2009

video

Friday, 4 December 2009

OH LOOK! SOMETHING UPLOADED!







More Blog Trouble

Sorry I can't post any photos right now, and don't have time to try to find the answer. Nothing is uploading, and I can't even get the photo uploader to open. Once it let me get as far as saying the pictures were uploaded, and then I discovered they weren't on the blog. I searched the problem a little yesterday, and found no answers from Blogger, and only one answer from many posts by other bloggers having the same problem. Sorry Followers, I'll update ASAP, and if I can't, I may try creating my own website in the future.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Still Creating

It has been such a long time since I posted anything. I'm still a bit overwhelmed, but starting to see some things reach the Finish Line. Today I am happy to post pictures of the dress I have been making for Lela's first birthday. It has lambs and flowers smocked on the front and back, and is made to be worn as a pinafore now and a sundress next summer. Hopefully I'll get some good photos of Lela wearing it...and fitting it! It looks so big, I can't believe she's nearing her first birthday! I am looking forward to being in northwest Arkansas for her party in two weeks.

Almost everything is unpacked and in place in the house, so now I get to start putting things on the walls. Soon I will upload a video tour.

I have been doing a little writing on the book I started many years ago. I hope that some day it will be a source of encouragement for others. So far I have revised the outline and written a short chapter. An interesting obstacle I have to get past: about 150 pages are saved in text format on a floppy in Windows 3.0 (I think)! I don't even have a floppy drive any more, so I may need to have a Geek extract the information for me. Fortunately, I also printed it, so I have a hard copy in case the disk can't be accessed.

Another writing project... the story of Onyx and his skunk escapade...is being illustrated by Jesse. There is so much work involved, but he's making it look so cute.

School has been somewhat ignored lately, though I have done a small amount on two classes. If I were taking traditional classes, I would have dropped out long ago. DePaul has been a great online opportunity for me, and I still plan to finish my BA, though it's been on hold while I moved ( twice this year). My newest school project will be creating a website for our home business, in addition to finishing 3 essays for a creative writing proficiency exam and 2 science exams. It's good that the work I do can be applied to more than one subject. Hm, sounds like life to me!

We've had some beautiful sunrises and sunsets recently, and I also got photos of some storks on the canal behind our house. It was fun, because I had to creep up on them.

PROBLEM: None of the photos or videos I've taken will upload. They appear to be in the proper formats and sizes, but I've been trying to upload a video of Lela all morning - which I first tried to upload in OCTOBER and it will not go.




Wednesday, 7 October 2009

No Title Necessary

Having fun with my granddaughter while I'm staying with Rachel, Rick and Lela this week!
video

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Onyx the Explorer, I Presume?

Onyx...he got out while we were unloading some stuff, and disappeared. I didn't realize he was gone until I sat down to dinner and discovered he wasn't sitting beside me, waiting for me to drop something.

We hunted outside with flashlights for a dog that is perfectly camouflaged for moonlit undergrowth (the military should think about this for "evening attire) in addition to being nearly deaf and having poor vision. After about ten minutes I heard Jesse yell, "I found him!" He had walked about one hundred yards down the streeth and was just disappearing into a field. If we had been a few seconds later, we would not have been able to find him.

Yes, he's old, and I may have to make The Decision someday in the near future. But I don't want him to be lost and alone when it's his time.

In the meantime, we try to keep him from escaping outside alone, and take him out for exploration walks every day. He even runs sometimes....he feels pretty good for a dog of 14+!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Natural World



If you get to come visit us in our new home, you will see signs like the one in this photo. The Florida Panther is a protected species and, on this stretch of highway, the speed limit is reduced at night when they are on the prowl. I don’t know anyone who has actually seen one, but I anticipate the opportunity! Alligators aren’t all that visible, either, but I have seen a few of those. I have a photo of one somewhere..... I found the moth - as big as my hand - on our neighbor's front door last week.

Progress on the Home Front

We are IN!

Jesse took off work Thursday and Friday so we got so much more accomplished! The piano made it without a scratch, and yesterday he brought fresh flowers to brighten up the house.

The pets are enjoying the extra space, and Onyx - the old man dog - has suddenly resurrected his curiosity. Every time he goes out, he heads straight for the woods, where I'm sure he would get lost because he can't see or hear very well. And he loves sniffing around the canal, and walks right in. I will have to accompany him every time he goes out. Lenny hid most of the the first day, but has adjusted well. Right now, he's trying to pick a fight with Delilah. He doesn't like going outside much yet, but is curious. Delilah LOVES it here. She spent almost all of Sunday on the lanai. Angel....she loves exploring, but doesn't go far. And she's "in the doghouse" now because she pee'd in the house, although she had been outside almost all day. Not sure what the future holds for her.

Today, I am TRYING to catch up on some school work, as well as all the other things that fell to the wayside while we were getting ready to move. Well, “catch up” is probably too optimistic. I should probably say “not fall farther behind.” It may be impossible to catch up at the moment.

Also, the fun part of moving starts today: choosing some curtains and towels. There are also still pictures on the walls and some miscellaneous items still to bring from the condo. Plan to move some of that today, although I probably won't be able to get all of it.

The major painting is finished. I only have touch-ups where drips and smudges are. After that, we will be painting trim as time allows. That’s OK with me. The motto “inch by inch, anything’s a cinch” is a good one for me, although I’m prone to get caught up in a project and not let it go until it’s completed. When I have a job that I know cannot be finished in one sitting, I’m able to plan regular work sessions until it is finished.

Yesterday, I got to plant a tomato and a basil plant - in containers. I may have to get a tiller when I'm ready to plant an entire garden, because the turf is so thatched here. We also bought a small palm and two orchids. The orchids can be planted outside – a major difference from the way I had to pamper them in Arkansas!

As for schoolwork, I have been mentally writing a paper while I paint. I know what I want to say, it’s simply a matter of expressing it effectively. I had hopes of finishing this fall, and then in the spring, but I may have to stop projecting a date, and just be happy if I manage to finish. I have been having a little trouble prioritizing schoolwork amid all the other things I need to do. It seems that, in order to get one thing finished, I have to neglect an entire list of other things. As I've said before, Stephen Covey would be so disappointed, because I have tried doing the priority list, but everything seems to be high priority!

I'm visiting northwest Arkansas next week, and hope to see everybody then!
OK, time to get "moving!"

Monday, 14 September 2009

video

House Painting Pictures and Video




The video was taken Labor Day weekend and the still shots were yesterday. We finished painting the living room, master bed and bath, and dining room yesterday! The ceilings are done now, and I hope to go out this afternoon and paint the laundry room. If I get some good photos, I'll post them tomorrow.

Directions

Yesterday, for the first time since I moved, I felt like I was driving west, and I WAS! Maybe that's a good indicator that I am not feeling quite as lost as I was ... know where I'm going. It does make a good analogy.

My prior posts titled "Is It Really September?" and "So Much To Do" revealed a lot of my thoughts on this big change in the middle of my life. It wasn't easy to break out of a mold, especially when some people in my life disapproved, and it was extremely difficult putting more than one thousand miles between myself and my daughter, son-in-law, and new granddaughter. But those who know me also know that I rarely do anything without a lot of thought. I recognize how fortunate I have been to have friends and family - including Rachel and Eric - who encouraged me to do what was best for myself.

Another thought regarding my kids: I so loved and enjoyed being their mother! Of course there were some difficulties and issues (we are distinct human beings, after all), but the pleasures of motherhood exponentially outnumbered them. We played GI Joes, Little People, Barbies and Laser Tag together ... fished, rode bikes, cooked, colored, gardened, studied and read books. I have so many pictures of them in face paint because we loved dressing in costume. Still do, as a matter of fact!

But now that they are adults, our relationships have matured to real friendship, and that is a tremendous joy that surprises me! Though I was saddened that they grew up so quickly, our new relationships have more than alleviated the sadness. I believe the reason must be that we have the freedom to talk to one another about anything ... no subject is tabu...even if we disagree. I remember the last time I visited Eric and Amber, she made the observation that, "Your family talks more than any I ever met!" I don't doubt that at all! :) Baby Lela is another catalyst for the evolution in our relationships. As a new mother, Rachel now understands the emotions and thoughts that I experienced. And my son-in-law, Rick, and daughter-in-law, Amber, are two more blessings my kids have brought into my life. I love both of them!

Jesse's family and their friends) have been kind and generous during this transition, and they treat me as a member of the family. His dad has been a wonderful help in getting the house ready to move into.

It's difficult to verbalize how kind, loving and supportive Jesse has been. He's done so much, and been so understanding when I feel homesick or forget something, or get lost for the bazillionth time. He encourages my creative side, even working on some of my projects with me.

But I think the best illustration would be that, every morning as he leaves for work, he looks back and smiles.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Is It Really September?

There are never enough hours in the day, or even days in a year. I expect that when I reach the end of my life, I will say there haven't been enough years.

That's why it's so important for me to live as Myself. It is not the job of another person to tell me what I should do or think. If I agree with you, that's OK, but it's not necessary. We should be able to appreciate one another's differences as well as our similarities.

I once heard someone say (wish I could remember who), "If two people are exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary."

That's a good point to consider, because I spent so much of my life trying to conform to the pattern others had chosen for me. That is not to say that I have eradicated that tendency, but - at last - I can do what I believe is best for myself, whether or not others approve. Sometimes I have to stop myself mid-action or mid-thought, and even verbally remind myself that, as an adult, I can make my own decisions based on who I am and what I need because I know myself better than anyone else knows me. If I am judged and "found wanting," it is that person's problem, because he or she can be judged by the same criteria, and with the same verdict.

Carrying that thought a little further: people who condemn others are generally guilty of the very same "sin," though it may be hidden. It is interesting that they think they can "fix" someone else when they can't control themselves.

Time to close the "forum" for today. I hope to post photos of the house progress soon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

So Much To Do

Since I moved to Florida, I have been in a metaphorical whirlwind. I've been here almost 8 months, and yet I still sometimes have that Is This A Dream? feeling. I suppose that should be expected when I have essentially turned my world upside-down!

As a person who prefers organization and order, it can be quite disconcerting at times. I can't seem to prioritize and follow through with the things I need to do. Everything seems to be of equal importance, so I try to do too many things at once. That's like grasping for straws in a tornado. Stephen Covey would be so disappointed in me!

Jesse has been particularly supportive in this adjustment period, while adjusting to some life-changes of his own. When I became frustrated because I was constantly getting lost when driving, and couldn't determine the compass points unless it was sunrise or sunset, he gave me his GPS. It has helped, though I still get confused sometimes. When I get discouraged in the job search, he encourages me to view it as an opportunity to do more writing and school work. Recently I've been homesick to see family and friends, so he checked out airfare to Fayetteville. I hope to make the trip once the house purchase is final.

And....we're still waiting on that. We are in the process of buying one of the Fannie Mae foreclosures, and experiencing Your Tax Dollars At Work. We closed on August 31 (the original closing date had been August 19). Tuesday morning arrives and -uh-oh- they had one other paper they wanted a signature on. Jesse went by and signed that, they shipped it out and we thought all we were waiting for was the doorkey.

We're still waiting. The new paper had a different date from the rest of the closing documents, and they couldn't accept that. They now have to review ALL the closing documents, which they had initiated themselves! As of Tuesday evening, the earliest we can expect to close, for the second time, is Friday, September 4. We had hoped to begin painting this week and have the Labor Day weekend to get a lot of things done.

So there you have one of the undoubtedly INNUMERABLE reasons for the decline and fall of the government loan empire.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Lenny Cheats the Reaper!










We had almost given up hope, but this morning we had a most pleasant, exciting surprise! This is the plastic protective endcap from the neck of the guitar stand. Lenny loves chewing, but we hadn't noticed that was missing. We are so happy he is going to make it!

Monday, 10 August 2009

House Photos











_____________________Here are a few shots of the house we hope to buy. We love the screened lanai on the back, the large living room with the high ceilings, and the crown molding. It seems to be just the right size. There are 2 downsides - master bath only has a shower, and Jesse had hopes for a circle drive. We may be able to modify the drive, however, and I look forward to a hot tub on the lanai in the future! Best of all, Jesse's dad has already enlisted to help paint! Yay!

Get Well Wishes




So Busy!

It has been a somewhat eventful and chaotic 2 weeks since I last posted. We have been looking for a house (found one and now waiting on the bureaucrats), and poor Lenny the tuxedo kitty is in a life-threatening situation right now.

He has been sick for more than a month because he swallowed what looks like a button, or an eye from a stuffed toy and it is lodged in the ileum. If it could move just a fraction, he could pass it on through. So our bathroom is an infirmary at the moment, and we are running IV 3 times a day to keep him hydrated and force-feeding him blended cat food with mineral oil. We were thinking if he didn't pass it by today we would have to put him to sleep (surgery is $1500 and no guarantees that he wouldn't develop peritonitis or die in surgery), but last night he seemed improved, and I just couldn't do it. Today he ate on his own, but is still tired. He's lying on the lanai, watching the birds fly past and some kids playing on the playground. I asked the vet for another bag of ringers lactate, and so we're going to try a couple more days of treatment and see what happens. It's so difficult to see him lie around because he's such an active and playful cat.

I feel bad, too, for Jesse, because he really loves Lenny. He's been working really hard in this hot weather, in addition to househunting and worrying about the kitty, and I worry about him. I try not to worry, but those of you who know me personally know that's virtually impossible! I don't like to see those I love suffer in any way, and tend to fuss over them, sometimes to my own detriment. Sometimes I make myself stop and take a break. Yesterday I took a book down to the pool for an hour of "escape reading." That was nice.

My friend, Rhonda, and I have started reading The Kite Runner. A good story so far, and I've flagged several pages to discuss, but it's sad, emotional. Maybe it will have a happy ending. I'm having to exercise strong self-control to keep from reading the ending now.

I have been working on a proficiency in college writing, hoping to get out of taking a class, and it takes so much time - 4 essays of 2500 words each. I have ONE finished, and parts of the other 3. I have had to postpone - again! - my hopes for graduating in December. There are still 3 6-hour classes to take, as well as about 8 more proficiencies. The professor from my last class mentioned grad school and I laughed. At the rate I'm going, I figure I could enroll in grad school and Social Security at the same time! :p

And speaking of school....time to get to it! Love you all!!!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Dominique

video

Thanks to Jesse for the videography and the time he spent whittling down a 13 minute video to 3 minutes!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Good Fortune - Vacation Final Chapter

It was actually great fortune that we went to Key West first, because the day we headed north, we had rain. It rained for most of the drive to Bahia Honda. We set up the RV on Sunshine Key, and the rain cleared out enough to take an evening swim, and then we had a big storm overnight. Incredibly, I slept through most of it!

The next day was cloudy with sporadic rain, but it didn't stop us from getting on our bikes and riding through the State Park. I found a huge sponge on the shore and brought it home. I planned to clean it so I could actually use it, but it's still in the garage......hopefully not stinking too much! When the rain got too heavy, we went back to the RV and downloaded pictures and read. But again the rain cleared enough to let us have another sunset swim. Yay!

On Thursday we took off, planning to spend the night in Miami. We passed a place called Theater of the Sea on Islamorada, and decided to check it out. It was interesting, with bird, dolphin, and sea lion shows, and a nice garden. After seeing the shows, we thought we'd make sandwiches and take them to the swim beach at the back of their gardens. We stood with our bags and bottles at a little bridge, waiting on the tour guide to take us through to the beach and she pointed out the different species of mangroves as we walked. We crossed a little bridge to the beach and I heard Jesse snort. The "beach" was a pile of sand next to a tiny pond-like inlet covering an area about 2,000 square feet. The pond had a lot of big fish that looked like carp. You could rent snorkels and fins (some kids took advantage of that) or buy snacks at the little thatch-roofed shack. We were hungry, so sat down under an umbrella and ate our lunch and laughed. This was no beach, particularly to some one who knows Fort Myers Beach!

(There was a sort of nasty incident with a manipulative, controlling woman who was sitting next to us. She was talking very nastily to her husband and children, which made us cringe having experienced similar people in our pasts - and we were glad to get out of there.)

Next stop was to look around at John Pennekamp Park on Key Largo and we found a place to camp. Not surprisingly, it rained then too. A lot. We lost electricity, but were able to switch to generator so we didn't swelter.

If you make it to Pennekamp, be warned that snorkeling at the swimming area is not good. We saw a few fish, but the water was very murky. There was supposed to be a "sunken ship" there, but we couldn't see it. Later we read that it was only a "re-construction" of a Spanish wreck as it would appear after 400 years underwater.

Save your snorkeling for a reef trip from the park. We didn't take it this time because it had been canceled due to seaweed, so the next day we left for Miami and the zoo. And the rain was fortunate, because it was cooler for walking around outdoors all day, though we were damp most of the time. Also, there was no crowd, so we could ride the little tram around the park without waiting, and it was cool enough that the animals were outdoors for our "viewing pleasure."

We just missed getting a great video when we were watching the tigers. There was a large bird of unknown species, about the size of a hawk, that landed in the tiger habitat, and one of the big cats hurtled toward it with deadly intent. He made one swipe with his big claws, but just missed when the bird took flight. That would have been a great video! Sorry you missed it. :)

At the end of the day, we boarded the RV and made a 2-hour ride north to Fort Myers....in a driving rain. Again. We arrived home about 8pm, unloaded the refrigerator, and saved the rest of the unpacking for a clear and sunny Saturday.

It was a lovely - and too short - week!

A Key West Street Musician


We really liked this guy. Nice, smooth voice, and no theatrics. I don't think we got his name. When there were little kids nearby, he would sing a nursery song such as Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Key West Chapter Three

There are so many pictures to show you that I decided to create a little slide show, and I must say I'm rather proud of how it turned out, considering I haven't done one before. It even has music.

These were taken at the Miami Zoo, Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor, and while snorkeling on the reef. Mallory Square in Key West is right on the waterfront, and you can see by the photos that in the evenings there is a carnival atmosphere. There were mimes, painters, potters, musicians. Oh darn, I just remembered a picture I left out! Oh well, I'll post it separately.

video

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Sunset in Key West

Can you believe this beautiful sunset???? This has not been touched up or filtered, and Jesse just handed the camera to another tourist to take a picture of us together. We were so happy we made it to Mallory Square the first night, after the Bus Stop incident, because that was the prettiest sunset of our entire stay.
I will post a video of the Catman and maybe a slide show once I figger out how to do it!
Hope everybody is having a good summer!

A few more snorkeling shots




















Snorkeling Key West Photos







“Snorkeling on the Reef.”

My previous post makes a good segue to the Vacation Report.

It was bright, but not too early when we set off for downtown Key West on our bicycles. We arrived about an hour before departure time, so toured the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society & Museum where I was apprehended by a savage pirate, but managed to elude his clutches … probably because he had only one “clutch” and a hook on his right arm (photo above).

On display in the museum are treasures recovered from the Atocha, a ship that sank en route to Spain from Havana in 1722. Gold, silver, emeralds, amethysts … You can even buy a little bit of gold, if you’re willing to forfeit a lot of green. One item of interest was a $60,000 snuffbox. I don’t remember if it was gold or silver, but it was about four hundred years old. Wouldn’t it be interesting to touch it, and imagine the aristocrat who may have last carried it in his pocket?


We chained our bikes behind the Key West Art & History Society building (http://www.kwahs.com/customhouse.htm) with the enormous statue (about 30 feet high) of a dancing couple, and walked to the pier where we boarded a catamaran for a thirty-minute ride to the reef.

While we enjoyed the sail, one of the mates instructed us on the use of our manually inflated buoyancy compensator (BC) vests. I couldn’t help laughing because it reminded me of Eddie Izzard’s routine discussing life saving techniques in the event of an airplane crash. “Care for a top up?”

I overfilled my BC a smidge, so I had a little trouble diving, but that was ok, because if I had dived I might have hit the reef, it was so near the water’s surface. The initial problem I had, however, was when I first jumped in. The seas were choppy, and we had to “butt-walk” down a folding stair which bobbed around like a cork. It made me slightly dizzy, and I held tightly to the ropes to prevent being pitched in head-first. I was doing OK, but forgot to pull down my mask! So naturally I couldn’t get it cleared of saltwater once I got it on, and my eyes were stinging, and my rhythm was thrown completely off. So I dog paddled – tossed and bobbed would be a better description – back to the “cat” and crawled up the steps to dry my mask and adjust it so it wouldn’t leak. Poor Jesse thought I was going to chicken out, and I thought I might not be able fix my mask so I could use it, but tried it again. I never got it to be leak-proof or fog-proof, but was able to clear it enough to see the pretty fish, coral, and even found a stingray and a needlefish. Time flew past, and they whistled us back to the boat. Jesse had bought a dry bag for his little camera, so we have some nice pictures to post. On the return sail, we were served wine and beer, listened to island music and enjoyed the scenery, including a school (pod?) of about five dolphins.

Back on shore, we weaved our way to our bikes and peddled through Old Town, stopped at Cheeseburger Key West for – of course – a cheeseburger. Stopped to listen to a flute player on the street with his “singing” dog, and rode through the city cemetery as we looked for the Haitian art gallery. The cemetery is very interesting, both culturally and historically, and I hope to go back to spend more time there. At last we found the art gallery, only to discover it was closed, so we rode to Fort Zack for a leisurely beach afternoon in the sun followed by a windy sunset.

And that’s the second chapter of another day in Paradise.

Current Events

I have been performing veterinarian/zookeeper duty for almost two weeks, but the work has diminished slightly as Lenny the Cat appears to be recovering from a bout with hairballs. We were worried about the little feline because he was completely off his food and hiding away to rest. I took him to the vet about 8 days ago, and OMG, it was more expensive than a checkup for a human! Plain old amoxicillin was $28 for one ounce ... about 14 times the price for same thing humans get. I hope there isn’t a next time, but I will be better prepared if it happens. This morning the old Lenny is back…harassing Delilah, fighting Angel the Bichon, and chasing Logan down the hall. And, of course, climbing the screen on the lanai! But we are so happy he’s getting well.

I found a perfect coconut Sunday! I was too tired to open it when we got home, so I’m waiting until this weekend and will report on the taste. I found a good one in the Keys, but it got cracked somehow and spoiled before I got to test it.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Bus Stop Show

If you visit Key West, and some one recommends public transportation, be aware that there is no “schedule.” Both of the guidebooks we read recommended the city bus system as the most economical transportation, which would provide the opportunity to see places in the city we would like to explore, and eliminate the need to find parking - a perpetual complication in Key West. On Saturday evening, we arrived in time for the famous sunset at Mallory Square, and were told by a citizen that the bus stop was just down the street, and the bus would show up when the driver got around to it. We have decided it is a “phantom” system because we never saw a city bus during the three days we were there!

Disclaimer: This experience is recounted from the perspective of two tourists who lost themselves in a not-so-good neighborhood and decided to make the best of it. It is not meant to treat unsympathetically those with addictions or mental afflictions.

We walked to the bus stop at 6:30 and recognized immediately that we were going to have free entertainment similar to Bill Cosby’s description of the “free show on the subway.” Standing about twenty feet away from the pavilion, a Haitian woman seemed to be arguing with someone on a cell phone. Two men who apparently shared a fear of soap and water were sitting on the bench, their gestures defining an argument in a creole of Spanish, English and cheap whiskey. A thin woman who may have been in her mid-thirties, with long, stringy, brownish hair, freckles, and missing her front teeth was also on the bench, waving her arms and proclaiming, “Nobody gonna disrespeck me!”

My first thought was, Is this a good idea? Second thought: I’m glad Jesse is with me! We stood some distance away from the bus stop shelter, but still within earshot of the unintelligible discussion. Jesse realized that we didn’t have change for the bus fare, so he tried to get change at the deli across the street. One of the men said, “They closed tonight …” and attempted to tell us where we should go to eat. I think he recommended a restaurant down the street because it sold “all kinds of food – Cubano, Mexicano, Americain ...”

Jesse ran back to the RV for change. Returning in a hurry, he said, “I want to get out the video camera, but I’m afraid it could cause trouble.” I wish he could have, because I can’t begin to describe it all!

The longhaired woman sauntered toward us to give us her history, opinions, and advise us about the bus schedule. “The bus will be here any time … my family used to have a lot of property in Key West, but my husband had to be a drug dealer, and we lost everything … now I have to live on” [multiplied increase in volume] “f*****g Stock Island!” Then she walked into the street and back to the pavilion.

A small, thin, person of indefinite gender, with a very short haircut, an unbuttoned shirt, and a bra staggered toward us from the street corner. I will call the person She. She muttered a lot, but we had no idea what was being said because she was not lucid. She seemed to be sympathetic towards the long-haired woman, and possibly trying to prevent a fight.

The next character was a woman who rode past on a bicycle. The long-haired woman jumped from the bench and ran into the street to berate her for riding past, and that she was going to get an “ass-whoopin’.” The cyclist called the long-haired woman a “meth ho” and rode on past. “Meth Ho” chased her unsteadily down the street yelling, “Nobody loves you! At least my mama loves me and fixed up her garage for me to sleep in! You’re just a *&#@* TV dinner ho!”

Jesse and I now quietly discussed the possibility that we might need a taxi. The woman on the bicycle was returning and the long-haired woman ran back into the street shouting epithets. The TV Dinner Ho turned down a side street to take a safer route, but the Meth Ho ran across to catch up with her in an alley, and did not return.

Fortunately, a taxi arrived and Jesse waved him down. We made it to the pier just in time for the sunset, and that was the most beautiful sunset of our visit, so I’m glad we didn't take the Spirit Bus.

One more transportation note: taxis are expensive. It cost about $20 to go five miles. Parking for more than two hours may cost about the same. Our best decision was to drive the RV to Fort Zachary Taylor, pay the $6 to visit the fort/park, and ride our bicycles to tour the city. The fort is interesting to see, and it has a very nice beach!

So that’s the story of our first evening in Key West. Stay tuned for more!


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Busy Week


We had such a great time in the Keys! We snorkeled around the reef in Key West, watched Dominique and his Flying Housecats in Mallory Square, bicycled and shopped and saw the sights. I will write more for posting and upload some photos and maybe videos when they are ready. I'm posting this picture just to prove that I was there! Some people would argue that Harlingen, Texas is farther south than Key West, but I'm not getting into that debate. More and better shots to follow!

Monday, 15 June 2009

"One Way Ticket"

video

I have been mentally composing the story of our first voyage in our little sailboat because it was a great time. It’s OK, you can laugh at our expense…..we did!

We had promised the lady who gave the boat to us that we would take her daughter out on the weekend before Easter. I was a little apprehensive because it was somewhat windy, and I didn't have experience with it, but Jesse said we would launch by the causeway so we could experiment with it where it was less windy. We would take it out alone before we took the daughter. That was almost the best decision of the day.

The sail is made with a sleeve that slips down over the mast, so it can’t be raised or lowered. Before we took it out I thought that was a bad design, and after we took it out, I discovered that I was right. We had to put the sail up while still on shore and after about thirty minutes of struggling we jumped in, and were OFF in a FLASH!

We learned right away the truth of the claim that it was a fast runner! No time to trim or even get seated before we found ourselves halfway towards a little barrier island where the river runs into the Gulf. I was so afraid I was going to do something to mess us up, but I didn't even have TIME to do anything (other than try to prevent myself falling out) before a big wave completely CAPSIZED us! I had a split second to realize it was going over, and pushed myself astern so it would not bonk me on the head.

Now we were dangling in the water beside a useless upside-down boat, with its sail pointing at the bottom of the sea, and I was holding the only paddle in one hand. We quickly learned how beneficial our short wetsuits were because that water was cold! I must have repeated a dozen times, "Jesse, tell me what to do. I don't know what to do....." At last, he said, "Let's try rocking it." So, with him on one side, standing in the keel, and me pushing from the other side, it rocked like a concrete seesaw. Because the sail created a lot of drag, it wouldn't turn over.

After several exhausting minutes, Jesse said, "We have to get this sail off," so he dived under and disconnected the mast, and then returned to his post on the keel and we began to seesaw again. After about 5 minutes of aaallllmmmooossstttt getting it righted, a wave assisted at just the right time (never mind that it was a wave that tipped us in the first place), and the boat popped upright. Yay!

Jesse managed to hoist himself into the boat, and I pushed the mast and sail so he could pull them in, and then I bobbed in the waves alone, asking, "OK, what do we do NOW?" That was when I noticed Jesse had a little cut on his forehead. "Your head is bleeding."

He answered, “That explains the headache – I don’t remember being hit. Oh, that could attract sharks.”

I knew he was mostly kidding, but retorted, “Gee thanks a lot – seeing that I’m the one in the water!” He laughed and said, “Oh, look! Dolphins!” I turned to look and got a face full of saltwater when a wave swamped me. I coughed and wiped my eyes, and said, “Do you need me to PUSH this thing, or can you help me back in?” The deck was above my head, with nothing to grasp, so there was no way I would be able to get in without a ladder. (Mental note #1: A rope ladder would be a good idea.)

So he grasped my hands and I lunged upwards (that’s how it felt, at least) and then he grabbed my right leg and hauled in my butt and I slid gracefully into the boat. “Are you OK?” he asked. “Yeah,” I replied, not wanting to admit the word “thirst” into the conversation. (Mental note #2: no matter how long or how far you plan to go, put the water on board first!) “Where are the dolphins?” He pointed them out, about five of them leaping the whitecaps. So beautiful and exciting!

We sat quietly for a moment, contemplating our dilemma. Suddenly Jesse laughed out loud and said, “That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!”

I started to laugh then, relieved that he wasn’t upset, but thinking he might be delirious from the knock on the noggin. “It’s not over yet! How are we going to get back? Only one paddle….” I reminded him, holding it up. “Look, I saved it. I’m so proud.”

“It would have floated,” he reminded me. “It’s wood.”

“Yeah … but it could have floated away,” I insisted. (Actually I hadn’t been sure it would float - some woods don't.)

"You did good,” he said with a smile. He must have realized I needed some reassurance. Or maybe he recognized the early warning signs of mutiny.

“Let’s see if we can get the sail back up,” he answered. So after a few minutes of fumbling with a soaking wet 60 square foot piece of canvas while rocking on the waves, we managed to re-attach the mast without re-dumping ourselves. Alas, we found that a tiny, important piece of steel that holds the sail to the boom had been lost (Mental note #3: spare parts are optional, but could be helpful). Jesse thought he could hold the sail and the boom if I could man the tiller. Yeah, right?

So he fought the boom into place, and pulled the sail out a little, and we immediately headed away from shore! “Grab the tiller! We need the ass-end turned around!” Yes, Jesse is a sailor. He may have forgotten the seaman term for the back of the boat, but his language was still colorful enough to qualify.

I fought the tiller while Jesse fought the sail, and we managed to get about halfway to shore before the wind whipped the sail from his hands. He decided to paddle while I tried to maintain an even keel. I repeat, Yeah, right?

So he paddled and I steered, then we rested a few minutes and watched the dolphins. We had just started again when two men on jet skis came to our rescue. The friend - still patiently waiting on shore - had asked them to give us a tow. Jesse was happy because his arms were worn out. All I could think was, Water! My lips felt as if they had shriveled to nothing and my skin felt shrunken. The jet ski guys said they had been stranded the week before and paddled over 6 hours before they got to shore. Jesse didn't tell me that until we got to shore.......

Jet skis look fast when they travel alone, but they are slow when towing a sailboat. We were getting close to shore when the guys towing us decided to increase their speed, and naturally, something else went wrong. The boom slipped off the mast – again – and pinned me to the inside of the boat!

I yelled (maybe demonstrating my grasp of sailor’s expletives, but I don’t remember), and Jesse yelled at the guys towing us, and we stopped so I could be extricated. “Are you ok?” Jesse asked for at least the second time that day as he disconnected the mast and boom again. “Yes, I think so,” I said a little shakily. “No cracked ribs and I’m still in the boat!” I didn’t notice any injuries until the next day when baseball-sized bruises appeared on my arms.

At last we made it to shore. I helped pull the boat out and walked straight to the ice chest for water. Aaahhhh!

We decided to sit in our beach chairs to eat our sandwiches, look at the sea and relax. (Mental note #4: that was the best decision of the day) We were exhausted, but still laughing! While we ate, we tried to estimate how far we had gone (maybe a half mile from shore into the bay) and decided to modify the sail so it can be raised and lowered - good idea, right? What brilliant mind thought a stationary sail was a good idea?

Jesse repeated that he hadn’t had so much fun in a long time, and then asked again if I was ok. “I’m fine,” I answered. “Just tired and thirsty. Is your head all right?” I checked his cut and it didn’t appear to need stitches, though I would have Steri-Stripped it if we’d had them. “It hurts a little, but it’s ok.”

We sat quietly for a few minutes. “I wish we could have watched the dolphins longer,” I said.

He patted my shoulder and said, “You’re a good sport.”

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Le Menage











Photos of Delilah with a kitten, Onyx the dachshund, Angel, a Bichon Frise and Leonard, aka Lenny.

Free at last, free at last ... ...

... ... for the time being.

I finished a class on June 5, and still have that unburdened feeling! The last week was pretty intense because, in addition to writing an 8-page research paper, a weekly 1-page writing assignment and 100+ pages of reading were due. Mix that with the continuous job search and you have a recipe for Chaos, which is a pretty good description of last week. For the summer I have several papers to write, but no classes, so I will have more control of my study time (she said hopefully).

I am currently working on a blog post that will tell the story of my first experience in a small sailboat, and hope to upload it, along with a few pictures and maybe a video within a few days. The excursion didn't quite work out as planned.....but I'm anticipating the next one and hoping it will contain more sailing ... less bailing. :)

Also, we plan to take an RV trip through the Keys in just 10 days, so that should provide some interesting posts!

I think that's everything for now. It looks like there might be enough sunshine to take Delilah the kitty downstairs so she can lie in the sun beside the pool -- away from her nemesis, Lenny. Today I'll post pet photos because I forgot to ask permission from Jesse's sons to post theirs.

Hasta la vista!

Monday, 1 June 2009

More Family

Another photo, this time of my daughter, Rachel and her husband Rick. They are the parents of Lela, born December 23, 2008. She is named for my Grandmother, Lela Cox, of whom you will probably learn more as I ramble.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Beautiful Sunset




These are the two best pictures we took - of the sunset anyway - last Friday. I love how the pink is reflected in the wet sand.

A few more pictures....




I asked Eric for permission to post these. For those of you who haven't met them, these are of my son Eric, and daughter-in-law Amber in a creative mood .... when I look at these, I think of Deadwood, Doc Holliday, Belle Starr.

Saturdays

I love Saturdays! When I go to sleep on Friday night, I know that I can sleep until I'm through sleeping....if the dog will allow it. This morning he whimpered occasionally beside the bed, but I slept until I was ready to get up.

This morning Jesse and I are sitting in the office quietly enjoying a "cuppa joe." He is working on his photography while I ramble on my blog and the pets wander in and out - just checking on us. The sun is shining brightly, but I see some dark puffy clouds coming in from the southwest. Maybe we can go for a bike ride sometime when the storms have passed over.

I feel a little celebratory this morning, because I have only one week left of the class I'm taking. I still have an 8-page paper to write, but the research and outline are finished - that is if I can keep myself from looking up "just a little bit more." This is a 6-hour class, and takes a lot of my time, but I am slowly inching my way to that degree... This summer, my plan is to finish about 4 proficiency exams. That would help pad the transcript!

I should stop the ramble for a while....pancakes sound pretty good....the growling of my stomach rivals the dog's.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

One More Small - But Growing - Item

Before I stop posting for the day...well, that is for now.....I have to exhibit one of the prizes of my life: my new and first grandchild asleep with a full tummy on her Boppy. (I think that's what it's called. I get it confused with Bumpo, as in "Last of the Mohicans.") Naturally, she is quite precocious and beautiful!

One more shot from the beach. Actual sunset photos to appear later! :)

Sunset on the Beach


Last Friday the weather forecast was for storms for the entire 3-day weekend, so we had planned to do mundane things such as grocery shopping. After our workout, Jesse said, "It looks like it might be a nice sunset." So we decided to go to the beach for dinner. If it started to rain, we could go back to the mundane. Apparently everyone else thought the weather would be bad and made other plans, because we drove straight to the beach, easily found a parking space, and were seated - without waiting - next to the pier at the restaurant. The sunset was spectacular, and Photographer Jesse took lots of shots. He is still working on them in his "darkroom," so this is the only one I have at the moment.

The Name "Flow"

I chose the name "Flow" for my blog because that is my aspiration. Lately, however, I seem to be spending most of my time doing what has to be done, rather than planning and creating. I'm working towards reconnecting with my creative forces, but my job search (fruitless so far), schoolwork (slowly progressing) and building a life with Jesse (the best facet) take most of my time. However, when I consider it, all those projects require creativity!

With that said, it's time to sign off and get something else done!