Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Snippets of.. clarity?

Today I was watching a recording of one of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, and she was interviewing this lady I'd never heard of, Barbara Brown Taylor. So, she used to be an Episcopalian minister, but gave it up to go teach and has written a number of books. Of course, if you've watched any of Oprah's SSS, the main thread is about soul… and living. I always learn something, but, at times, someone says something that really touches me.

Today's session did that. Ms. Taylor told Oprah something along the lines that we (all of us) need to start at the red x under our feet (rather than always yearning, searching for more, or something else.) Start with what you've got and do the best with that. That hit home for me, because it makes things… easier?  Well, maybe not easier but it does take a certain paralyzing pressure off. That idea, of looking at the immediacy and what I have in my power to do right now, calms that inner critical voice telling me that I should be doing this or that, or that I should be further along, or better or whatever it is that it's prattling on about at the moment. And I felt it when she said it. The inner anxiety just chilled out.

That idea is freedom to me. It's freedom to move forward-in any direction you'd like- because you are starting right here. You're not looking where you've been, where you want to be. It's immediate. I'm here. Right here. Right now. And what can I do from here? What can I do right now? It might not be much, but it's something. (Of course, what you can do might be a lot…everyone is in a different place, no?) 

While it's a great idea to challenge yourself to do better, to move forward, you also have to be happy with who you are, where you are, and start from there. I've had that insight before. I had forgotten. I hope to remember.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How do you deal with rude people??

I have no idea, except to ignore the rudeness, because if I let go, I will rip into this guy.

Backstory…this guy rides his bike in my mom's neighborhood, round and round. He's grumpy and randomly yells at people as they walk. One time, he said something rude to me as I was walking about my weight. As if that is any of his *&^#*$&#* business.

Today, my mom took me out on the rented wheelchair we have. Instead of just riding by, he stops, looks at me and tells me I don't need the wheelchair, to get up and walk. Again, as if that is any of his business. I politely tell him him, no, actually I can't walk as I had an operation and I'm not allowed to put weight on it yet.

"Oh, what did you have done?"  "Well, it could be worse." (yes, true..)  And then he has the gall to tell my mom that I'm going to stretch it out as long as I can so that she can keep pushing me around on the wheelchair.

We laughed it off and I said, "oh no, as soon as the doctor tells me I can walk, I am going to be up and about." And the thing is he actually turned his bike around to follow us and talk to us about this! Really??  I have no problem about people being curious, or asking me questions about what happened. But I do have problems with people making judgements about who I am, and what I do when they have no clue.

Both my mom and I were non-committal, trying not to speak more to him and finally he left, saying that he hopes to see me walking next time. If I see him again, however, I cannot say that I will be as polite.

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


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?"


"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. 
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.