Saturday, November 22, 2014

Progress continues...

Progress continues...

It has now been just over a month since my surgery. The doctor continues to be happy with my recovery and physical therapy is progressing. Yesterday, I started doing my least favorite exercise of all...straight leg raises. Ugh. Hate them. Probably because I find them to be the most difficult (and therefore probably the most needed!) exercise I have to do.

It doesn't sound very difficult- basically, I'm lying back, my good leg bent to support my back, and I have to keep my bum leg straight, toes flexed, and raise it up about 12-18 inches and back down. Sounds easy, right? HA! Not for me. I could barely get my leg up off the table! But in the end, I did it! Yes. Go me! Two sets of 5! Woohoo! Ready for the marathon!

I keep joking with the therapist about that- "So, jumping jacks today? How about some skipping?"

Her answer is always the same, "No."

But, I'm able to put a little bit of weight on my leg with crutches. I'm working on getting the leg straight again. That is another challenge.  I work on gently bending the leg, and in therapy, the therapist will push a little further (probably further than I'd go, but that's why she's the therapist and I am not!)   I keep doing my ankle circles and pumps. I get weird aches and pains in my legs that come and go.

On one hand, I find myself frustrated at my incapacity to do more (even sitting at the computer typing, my knee starts to ache and swell up.) And I have to remind myself that it's a long term project- I've only been out of surgery a month and I have to be super gentle on myself as this is my 3rd ACL surgery (and 4th overall knee surgery) and I need to give my body time to heal. In my mind, it's time! Let's go! I'm tired of sitting around. As Speedy Gonzalez would say, "Arriba! Arriba!! Andale!"  But not yet. I'm making progress, and I have to think of how I have progressed instead of how far along I would like to be.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Maine

I love Maine. I don't know how my fascination came to be, as I had never been there, didn't know anyone from there and hadn't even done any research on it. All I knew was that I wanted to go. When I got that first decent paying job oh-so-many years ago, I had to pass a licensing exam in order to keep my job. As an added incentive, they also gave us a bonus for passing (they have since eliminated that, but I was lucky enough to get it!)  I passed my license and got my bonus (about a week's pay, in case you were wondering…)

Everyone asked, "What are you going to do with your bonus??"

"I'm going to Maine," I answered.

The reaction was mostly the same: Maine? Why? Have you been there before?

"No, I've never been. But I really want to go."

Finally, a friend, one of the supervisors, had a better question, "Where are you going in Maine?"

Oh. I hadn't thought that far ahead. All I knew was that I wanted to go to Maine. He suggested Bar Harbour. I looked it up. It was on the water and had a national park. And that was where I went. That trip is at least a blog post in itself, but let me just say that I definitely fell in love with Maine. It's magical, as far as I'm concerned.  I was able to go up a few more times since then, usually involving a work trip. However, in 2010, I was able to spend a week taking there, for a workshop.

Now, here's the kicker…I went in February. Cold. Snowy. Beautiful. Still magical. 




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Surprises of older houses...

I bought my place "as is" and it was a short sale. It took months to finally get approved and closed. It's a good thing I had a place to live in the meantime. Anyways, after moving in, I realized that some work definitely needed to be done. The question was, what could I live with, what needed to be done now?

As I had mentioned, the kitchen was one of those that needed to be done.  


Here is the kitchen as it was (except for the yellow…had to paint! Love my yellow!)  It looks ok, right? Except that…weeellll…some of the drawers were actually falling apart when you tried to open them. 

So, the dismantling begins..


At the sink, evidence of not so great upkeep- wet and mold. Yuck. 


Then, there was this! Under one of the cabinets, a strip of the original linoleum from when it was built in the 1970s!! Whoa! cool.  Actually, I don't have a picture of it, but we also found an S&H green stamp catalogue from 1980!!  You never know what you'll find!

The kitchen, outside...

And what was left inside...


Redone… almost done...


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

my first real winter...

As the cold front moves through, I remember when I moved out of Florida. There were a few amusing incidents involving my complete ignorance of what exactly cold weather is. You see, I grew up in South Florida. Yes, I am north of Miami, but not by much. Growing up down here, the coldest days I remember were the ones where there was frost on the (still green) grass when I had to go to school. Within a few hours of sunrise, all the frost would have melted.  A nice cotton sweater is probably the warmest bit of clothing I owned. That's what I considered winter weather. Yes, there was that one winter it froze so badly that it was still freezing at 10am, but even that didn't last the day. It was freak weather.

So, although I saw pictures of snow, and mentally knew it was cold, I still couldn't quite comprehend what it means to actually be that cold. It just didn't register. So, cue my moving north to snow country (anywhere it actually snows during the winter on a even a semi-regular basis), and couple that with this complete incomprehension of actual cold weather, and yeah…that first year proved interesting (and probably gave people I interacted with more than a good laugh, I would guess). I moved up in May. I thought that would be great, allow me time to adjust once the cold did come. I would get to experience summer, then fall, then adjust to winter! Great!

Of course, you lovely folks that live there know that even though it's summer, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be warm. Of course, it could be broiling hot, with temperatures over 100F. Or, like happened to me that summer, it was a cool summer and temperatures were still in the 60s in July. July! This concept was so foreign to me, I felt like I'd moved to another planet!

So, I thought, HEY! I'll get ready for the winter and go get myself a winter coat. So, off too TJMaxx I went (yes, inveterate TJMaxx-whore here). They had all sorts of coats, and I tried on this simple black wool coat that reached down to my calves. Ooh, it was HOT! Ugh, get this thing off of me. Logically, I had seen people (on tv and in movies) wearing these coats. I probably needed it. But, that incoherence, that deep abiding ignorance of actual cold weather, persisted. Would I really need this? Naaaaah!! It can't be that bad, can it?? Luckily, I was wise enough not to trust my own mind, so I asked this girl that worked there.

"Hi, I just moved here, and I was wondering, will I really use a coat like this in winter?" (mind you, I had this incredulous tone, like again, Naaaah, won't really need it!)

She looked at me like I was from outer space.

"Where you from?"

"Florida."

"Oh, yeah. You'll definitely use it."

And with that, she quickly moved away lest my stupidity might somehow be catching. I bought the coat. I figured, hey, if you can't trust someone that lives here, who can you trust?  And boy, did that coat come in handy.

Work sent me to Minnesota at the beginning of December. Sometimes, I wonder if they did it on purpose. Hmm…who can we sent to the arctic of the U.S? Hey, I know! Let's send the Florida girl there! Yeah, that ought to be amusing!! har har.

I had looked at the weather forecast prior to my trip. With a forecast in the 20's, I was ready- had my coat, long johns, wool scarf, hat, gloves, boots, and wool socks ready. What I did not expect was the pilot to come over the intercom as we were landing and tell us the temperature was -27F with winds of whatever the hell they were and to cover any exposed skin because frostbite would occur in less than 5 minutes.

Wait…what??  Did I hear that right?? That's not possible, is it?? Nooooo… So he came back on and repeated it again. Yep, that would be negative 27 Fahrenheit (equals -32C)! And I was going out in that? Aw hell….

When it was time to get out of the airport to go to my rental car (which I couldn't understand why they would leave it outside, and not inside, in a nice covered garage),  I bundled up as best I could…I had my coat on, pulled my hat down as much as I could without covering my eyes, wrapped my scarf nice and tight and pulled it up over my mouth and nose…and….

I survived. I was there a week, listening to the radio warn parents not to let their children play outside without properly covering them. I was there a week, letting the car warm up before attempting to get inside. I was there a week, scraping the ice off the windows every morning. And I survived.

Actually, by the end of the week, it had warmed up to a semi-tropical -1F. I went for a walk. I even left the coat at home.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A visit to the swamp

If you ever see a picture of Florida from space, you'll see that most of South Florida is very watery, thanks to the amazing Everglades. And although I grew up here, I didn't really go there much (if ever). No, it was there, but I always had other things to do, and it was a longer drive and blah blah blah. Always some excuse. However, it's really an amazing place to visit.

After I moved back in 2009, we had some friends visit us from overseas and one of the places we went was to the Everglades. There are a number of Indian villages and various attractions where you can go on an airboat ride through the Everglades. That July, we visited Billy Swamp Safari. We decided to first go on the airboat ride…
It's basically a floating platform with a large fan that propels the boat through the water. It's loud! And it's fun.

On the way out, we passed the chickee huts. These are original Seminole style chickee huts and, if you want, you can stay overnight in them.

Here, we have the somewhat open waterway. See all the plants in the water? That's why you need an airboat- to basically float right over those without tearing anything up or risk getting a motor tangled with anything.

Along the banks, we some some wild pigs. The Seminoles have them on their land, along with some other creatures (we saw ostrich and water buffalo too!) Here we have what looks like either a pregnant sow and some semi-little ones. Our guide joked that they called the really little ones Bacon Bits.  

Then, of course, you have the ever present American Alligator. This guy had been across the river, but when he saw us, he decided to come and investigate. And he kept getting closer and closer. 
And here he is, right close to the shore, where all the little piggies are!

All of a sudden, our guide starts throwing dog food into the water! And all the pigs started coming into the water to feed. 
WHAT? WAIT! 
WHOA!! There's an alligator here, dude?? What are you doing?? I do not want to see some pig get massacred. NO NO NO!!! I think all of us on board were screaming at him. And then…
This happened….


The alligators completely ignored the pigs and started eating the food the guide had thrown into the water. Here they were, right next to each other, predator and potential prey, all eating this dog food that had been thrown into the water, and completely ignoring each other.

And finally, here is one of the pigs, laughing at us.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Detours and Adventures

I would say that's probably a good way to describe life. Well, my life at least. I've certainly still got a ways to go, but overall, when I think back to my younger self and the ideas I had then about what I would do with my life, I've had detours and adventures along the way. (In the meantime, I'm still trying to figure out what to do when I grow up.)

For example, while in high school, I thought that I would go to college, take my classes, do my work, graduate and find a job. That was what I had been trained to think, to expect. However, life had other ideas. I graduated all right, but couldn't find work within my field (shocker right? that never happens!) Many people would have been happy to have me come and work as an intern (free labor!) but, uhm, those bills have to get paid. 

My best friend and I were in the same boat. I ended up finding work at a restaurant as a hostess (loved that job, and I was damn good at it, too bad it didn't pay enough for me to keep doing it!) and my friend kept working at the used bookstore she'd been working in all through college. And we both kept looking for full time work. 

Finally, I landed what was a pretty good job with rather large, corporate, finance company (I did not study business btw…) That was a definite detour.  I had not studied finance, or economics or business, or much anything like that, yet here I was. They picked me, I had a job. I had to go out and buy adult clothes (apart from my interview outfits.) It was a new world. And an adventure. I learned what they needed me to know, and I learned how to do my job and do it well. I also learned what it can be like in the corporate world. I learned what having a great supervisor is like, as well as what being micro-managed is like. I definitely became more cynical when I saw how people were treated based on office politics, and how some people got set up to take a fall.  I saw office romances bloom, then fade (or in some instances crash and burn horribly and then both people had to keep working together. Oh, that was fun to be around.) (I also made some really great friends that I'm still in touch with 10+ years later!!)

But like I said, I was good at my job, which led me on to another path, getting a promotion and moving up north, to snow country. I stayed with the company for three more years after that before deciding to take yet another major detour and go back to school (not once but twice!) I was burnt out and that was a way out. Now, I find myself at another crossroads, trying to decide what to do next. There are certain parameters I need- enough income to have a decent lifestyle, maybe some extra to put away, benefits, and preferably, have a feel-good factor in some way to it (still a bit of a hippie at heart and would like to be beneficial and helpful in some way…)

With the years as a filter, I look back on some of those experiences I've had, and think about the people I've known, especially at that first job, and my compassion goes out to most of the people I have worked with, because, in the end, everyone was just trying to survive as best they could (there is one person I think of with antipathy still, as he was one of those that seemed to like to see others fail-- but I also have to thank him because he gave me the incentive to get the hell out of that office just so I wouldn't have to work with him anymore!) 

So, who knows what will come next? Who knows, but I'm sure it'll be an adventure, no matter what! Like I said, I still have a ways to go!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sunrise


Sunrise on the beach. I'm not really a morning person, but I haven't found anything yet that can compare to the feeling I get from making it down to the ocean and watching a new day come alive.

I love my friends...

I missed a day yesterday, but I had a great reason- my friends came over to visit, bringing wine and gifts and lots of laughter! How lucky am i?

Here is the homemade get well card they made for me. I love it! Inside were a bunch of little cards each with jokes from everyone. I am overwhelmed (in a good way) with their creativity and they that took the time to do this for me.

 

They also brought me a present. They said knowing I'm mostly home and lots of time on my hands, they thought this could entertain me a bit.


OOOH!!!!! This looks like so much fun! I've never done any type of pottery, so this is going to be a new experience for me. It's like being a kid again!! Needless to say, the wine flowed and the time passed too quickly. Before I knew it, it was late, and it was time for them to go. And I missed a blogging day-some things are just more important!