Three’s Company

Al, me and Dad

My dad is only 18 years older than I am and we are the only two of our family who live in Florida. Dad just got home from an extended visit to my mom and brothers in Michigan; Al and I are glad to have him back. It seems natural that I start to think, when I notice he’s not moving so fast these days, “this is me in 18 years.” I’ve always been interested to see how it feels to become older. It is mostly full of surprises, both good and not so great. Dad’s still got his health and his mind is sharp. He drives a cool sports car, lives in a condo a few blocks away that’s a step up from ours. We all love the weather here. My dad’s mother was born here and so was her mother, Mama Q, who lived in Leesburg her whole life. She died at 99, but not before she’d met my sons, her great-great grandsons.

It’s official now: Al and I are Florida residents. We recently received our new driver’s licenses and registered to vote. Dad has been a Florida resident for many years. He’s still married to Mom, they love each other, but they prefer things as they are. She loves the cold; he doesn’t. They are in their 80s but still visit back and forth. I got a text from my brother yesterday Don’t worry about Ma, we’ll take care of her. I knew that. And he knows I’ll help Dad if he needs me. In a way, we all grew up together.

Remember the “sandwich generation”? Caught between their children and their aging parents? Trying to raise kids and take care of Mom and Dad? I could never relate to that. It’s only lately my folks have been slowing down (a little bit) and my boys are both married with little ones of their own. My boys don’t need my help and my folks don’t either. But there is another guy I turn to all the time now that he’s retired…Al.

Since Al retired not quite two years ago, I notice I have become more dependent on him. Not life or death, just open the pickle jar. Watch the finances. Handle the real estate. Even sometimes…wash the dishes. Al is easy to lean on, but I probably do too much of it. He doesn’t complain.

Al and Dad usually golf together but they have not started yet. It’s a bit warm for Al still and Dad’s hip has been bothering him. We did take Dad to his favorite place for a waterside lunch on the Intracoastal after picking him up at the airport. It was getting cold in Michigan. 60 degrees some days! We knew he’d appreciate the heat and the band. It reminds him of better times, when his friends were all alive and they’d party the afternoons away.

I got a tiny sun blush. We all ate local-catch fish. My sandwich-free life may seem odd, our family might look strange, but we are a family and we’re all doing good.

Two Anniversaries

36 years!

September is a very happy month for me. Both my boys were born in September. I married Al in September. And I started my blog in September 2002. It seems like time flew, but if I stop and think about all the memories, well, I’ve lived a wonderful life so far. My boys turned into amazing men, dads themselves now. My husband has mellowed…he loved a party back in the day. Well, he still does, but he doesn’t stay up until 2 a.m. and then get up at 5 a.m. for work anymore. He never stopped loving people and action and still wants to be the last to leave any party. Not that we’ve had many opportunities to party since Covid came along. Al is used to being much busier, even in retirement. Golf, gym, long walks, tickets to concerts and sports events…all that stopped with the virus. He has been to a few baseball games and now that the heat is not so intense he’s back to walking. And I’m back to blogging and my book. Also yoga but it is so much better in a class.

I have been thinking about when to end the blog and next year, at 20 years, sounds like a good stopping point. I’ll keep my website and continue to post, but maybe do a “best of” or maybe a quarterly newsletter — I’ve got a year to figure it out. As much as I’ve adored this blog, I’ve dropped every pearl of wisdom I’ve learned along the way, probably twice. Stats say I’ve published 2,715 posts! Maybe after I read through the many years of blog posts and choose the “best of” I’ll have another non-fiction book. I always wanted to do that, too. A writer’s memoir. I love reading them, and they say to write the book you want to read.

Right now I really want to read Jane 2. Working title: Death on the Bayou. It feels so good to be writing daily again. Yes, even on my wedding anniversary. ❤

Story Bible

Finally a new desk. Early in the year I found a used desk with a large flat area I thought would be perfect for this first draft/plotting stage of Jane 2. But the desk broke in half when I tried to move it from one room into another. Broke in half like a candy bar. Then we had to go back to Michigan and sell our house and say goodbye to everyone and just this week I’m getting organized and writing again. The new desk helps. And the chair I bought with the other desk works too. It’s super comfortable.

But before I even got the desk, the first thing I did was re-read Jane in St. Pete and make a series bible. Then I read quickly through the new draft and found the scene sequence want to send to Zoom writers today. I tried to bring it up but between the iffy WiFi and the discontinued Word for Mac software, there were a few technical difficulties. I stopped working for the day. No idea what to do. But I had my bible: all the names, places, history and description I’d need for future books in series reference. I wrote that in soothing longhand.

Next morning, whew the new Mac for Word was in the app store. Sold! It came right up as did all my documents, including Jane.2. We have mercury retrograde later this month and I feel it already. Nothing snaps easily together. Especially electronics. There’s a different cable company here in St Pete from Michigan and while we’ve never had a problem before, this year, going to 5G, we do. So Al worked on that all weekend and finally called the cable guy. He could be here anytime.

Moving House at 66

We will miss you, Dad

Al’s dad is turning 90 in September but we celebrated early with him yesterday while the estate sale folks took everything out of our cupboards and arranged all with elegant simplicity on tables they brought . Even cleaning products like mops and brooms look kinda good. Then also it’s like living in a danger zone when we pass the crystal table dangerously set up next to Al’s chair. He’s selling the chair, too. Al made coffee on the kitchen table because our countertops are filled with mostly glasses. Also plates and bowls and serving dishes. Even the silverware is out of the drawer. I’m not sure how this happened but it’s fine for the few days before we move forever to Florida. I suggested Al make coffee in the bathroom like you do at a hotel. But no. He had to bring a very long orange extension cord so he could do it his way. It worked out.

What I have learned is try not to move when you are 66. Al is strong and fit so it’s not a big deal to him physically but it was hard emotionally saying goodbye to some of his family yesterday. We said bye to my family last week. Also hard. Even my dad is here! He’s got a ticket back to Florida but with the way the virus is, Florida is Spike City and Michigan is mostly safe. Not the best time to move there. We have tickets to visit our Seattle family so we’re not staying in Florida yet…the few days we are there I will be masking outside or in public. We have two young grandchildren in Seattle and even though we are vaccinated, this “delta” twist has me considering postponing the trip for their sake. Meanwhile I’ll see you down the road. xo

Starting Over

In writing and in life, I am ready for what’s next. Our Michigan house is shiny clean and ready to be sold. Since leaving Florida, we have been non-stop cleaning, inside and out. We have hired a realtor and an estate sale team because…we are not taking much. I am taking about 100 of my thousand or so books, some art, family photos, and my granny’s hope chest. Also everything to do with the WIP. I have what may well be my last writers’ meeting (in Michigan) tomorrow. I have ideas for the book, so I have a fresh writing pad and of course all my electronics go wherever I do.

We have our Florida condo, and it’s small, but we love almost everything about it. So we have a place to land once we sell this place. We’re hoping for a final summer in Michigan, and I’m hoping most of it will be in Traverse City. I’d also like to visit Seattle before we head down to Florida, because hugs are officially okay again. I did see my grandson Ben and yes I hugged him! But we have not seen our Seattle family except on FaceTime in 19 months! Our community here in Michigan had the first summer gazebo party this week, maybe 20 people, no masks, and I hugged with abandon! I caught up with a neighbor here who has a place right where we want to be in Florida!!! I knew that, but I forgot.

Covid turned the lights off, but they’re back on and I’m feeling so much better. Some weird things were going on inside me at the end of the lockdown, like I didn’t want to engage on social media. I’ve never been one for phone calls, and am amazed when friends will say they talk to their mom every day at least once on the phone. Or they call their kids every day. I am always worried that I’ll be interrupting somebody. Especially my sons because when I was their age with kids, work, spouse, and friends, my time was planned down to the minute. I lost a few people who might have become friends because I had to cut conversations short. It was dinner time, I was late for class, or writing. And I thought, you know what, if they don’t understand, we shouldn’t be friends anyway.

I have not been blogging as much as I used to…I believe I’ve said it all before. But this next chapter is new, so maybe I’ll soon have fresh gossip or news or both. Getting together with friends again feels like a warm bath after being caught out in the snow. During Covid, all I did was read and write. And shop on Amazon. I want a few things, for example all my tech is old. I’m trying to wait until the computer industry finds a way to banish the foreign hackers. Not that I’m keeping any state secrets, just moving on, literally.