Meet the Neighbors

Yesterday I finally got out to look again beyond the lanai at all the flora. I needed the soothing vibrant colors and the sun after a slight accident when my slipper caught on the venetian blind and I lost my balance. Landed on my well-cushioned butt. It still hurts! My neck too. So as an exercise in appreciating what I have, I took my photo stroll. The banana tree above is in the side yard. It’s a lush yard full of palms and flowers and lest you feel my life is paradise, I ran into some trouble when minutes later I ventured out on my first solo trip to the local grocery store just down the road. All would have been fine if I had not turned the wrong way leaving the store. I figured out what I had done when I passed the paint store we’d shopped at. I knew it was the other way. So I pulled onto a side street; I knew my house was in there somewhere. I clicked on my phone map. In that nano second, I hit a mailbox which went flying everywhere.

Put the car into reverse to fess up and as I looked in my rear view mirror I saw a very large man in his driveway with his hands on his hips and a disgruntled look on his face. I carefully drove in and he turned out to be very nice, as was his wife. But they called the police, who did not issue me a ticket, for which I am eternally grateful. The homeowners, meanwhile, had stored my frozen food in their freezer and my perishables in their fridge. (They had an extra one in the garage.) While the report was being written up they had me come in and sit down and gave me water. Very kind. Al (on phone) talked to the mailbox owner who said this was the third time his mailbox had been hit so he had specifically used concrete to anchor it. It would be expensive to replace. Al is repulsed by the word “expensive.”

But the important thing was no one was hurt. “It was just a mailbox” the owner said when I kept apologizing. He said he was just happy I was okay and that I didn’t try to speed away! He was wondering if he’d have to chase me down. The reason they called the police was because I had a Michigan license plate, a Michigan car registration, and a St Pete address on my driver’s license. Nothing saying I lived where I said I did. So it seemed a bit suspicious. I believe I said I’d drive him to my house and show him the deed, but he declined.

Back home, Al was pissed. Of course he was. I’d just been in an accident in the bedroom a few days ago and when I confessed I’d taken my eyes off the road in front of me for one second, he was steaming. Unlike the hot tub he was supposed to be warming up for me! “So this is my punishment?” I asked. Listen, it’s been stressful. We moved twice this year on our own. Now with his stitches (never mind, he’s fine, and he would kill me twice if I told a story about him. Yes, he reads this blog now! Sometimes.) So anyway, he could not carry in the heavy groceries as he usually does. With my butt, my neck had also been whacked. Or my head. This is accident one in the bedroom, not accident two in the car. After I accused him of torture, he turned on the hot tub and we went in.

All my pain and trouble instantly dissolved. My butt didn’t hurt anymore, nor did my neck. I was buoyant! The bubbles were soothing. Al came in and we enjoyed an interlude of peace. Later, I grabbed the bar to get out and it was wet and my grip was weak, so I slipped right under the water, head and all. I never learned to breathe underwater but I’m okay. It’s a spa, not the ocean. 

Survival Medicine

Photo by Luci on Pexels.com

We finally moved on Christmas Eve, pulling into our new abode about dusk. It is beautiful and spacious and has lots of window sliders to the gardens. Inside there are many boxes but very little furniture. We do have a bed, television, and two chairs. I have my desk too, in fact I have everything for my office, but we are using my office for our little living space while Al paints the actual living room. He’s almost done. I’m not sure if I’ll get my office back today, but I am setting it up in the almost empty box room (someday to be our dining room). We’ve been so busy unloading boxes. I finally got my scented drawer liners for my dresser from Amazon and unpacked my suitcase on NYE. We have his and her closets, so cute!

Once I get myself together with this HEIC jpeg conflict I will be happy to splash photos because I exaggerated before. We have bookshelves too and I’ve got one filled in my office. It looks so good in a little alcove with a print of Frida in an antique frame above it. That was the photo I wanted to post. Just got frustrated trying to convert. Why can I post on Instagram and not Word Press? Anyway…yesterday (and the day before that) we were furniture shopping. We found a great sofa and chair for the living room and it’s coming next week! Well those pieces are, plus a ottoman and rug. The wood stuff, coffee table and end table, won’t be delivered until May. That’s the world these days. We looked at 500 sofas and this was the first one available. And, good luck, it’s my favorite! Very traditional Florida.

There are so many garden patches and palm trees here it’s hard to keep up. I don’t even have a pair of gardening gloves. But we’re managing to water everything. Including the weeds, which look just like Michigan weeds. We had this idea that we’d be in the hot tub drinking wine an hour or so after we moved in. Hahaha. We still have not OPENED the hot tub. But we’re getting there. Floors steamed and walls painted. Desk and chair ready to go. I wrote a scene a few weeks ago when I grabbed a spare couple of hours. I’ve been thinking of the next part of the sequence and oh I’m not sure if it’s the next book or if it’s going to work now…I need to write it to find out.

The holidays usually mess with my writing anyway but this one, well, it’s a whole other bag of toys. But we’re happy and settling in. We woke up Christmas morning, the first morning in our new house, and I thanked Al for my lovely Christmas present. He also insisted on gifting me with The Lyrics by Sir Paul and it’s wonderful reading in my favorite chair, which is the only chair we brought from Michigan. I have always wanted a ranch home and at age 66 I finally got one! It’s the nicest house I’ve ever owned. Maybe it’s the palm trees and the flowers in January or the Spanish Moss waving in the breeze. Maybe it’s because this was home to my ancestors. Now it’s my home, too.

Hope everyone had a good holiday. Back to work! For me that’s writing and I love it too much to think of it as work. More like survival medicine.

A Place in the World

Our grandchildren, all three of them, came to visit! We have two sons and our younger has one child (a boy) and our oldest has a boy and a girl. The cousins don’t live anywhere close to the same state so it’s a thrill for them to see each other. The boys instantly click like best friends no matter how much time has gone by (Covid!) since they saw each other last, maybe because they are only about a year apart. “Our” little girl is the youngest and she is very sweet. Her favorite color is pink and she asks me to read to her and sit by her as she paints pictures and likes to keep her hands clean. She’s brave, too, and follows the boys in their adventures. They all put on wetsuits and snorkels and swam with manatees the other day.

It was a lovely time. If we all had lived in Michigan, Al and I never would have moved to Florida. As it is, we’ll visit them and they’ll visit us. As it is, I have found my place in the world. Just lucky it clicked for Al too. And the kids come here to Florida where most of their grandparents are snowbirds. We all like to travel. Everyone is excited for the new house…they have seen pictures. They missed seeing the real thing by less than a month. Still waiting on the deal to close. I’ll say more then.

I have been so happy. As I’ve said before, it’s always felt like home when I’m in Florida. I thought of it longingly all my years in Michigan. But my children were born and raised in the north and for that matter so was I, thus I didn’t dwell on what I couldn’t have. Palm trees! Sunsets! Flowers full of vibrant color and large as dinner plates! Then, as I got older, it started to seem that maybe after all I would have that dream of my heart. But I could never entirely believe it. It seemed like too much. Yet…the kids had moved far away. Al was cautiously game. We found ourselves making a plan and taking steps. Slowwww steps.

I think I can stop asking him if he’s really sure he wants to live here…because we already are. We found our place in the world. Yes, we had to wait until Al retired…but it is never too late to do what your heart has always longed for.

Am I a Binge Eater?

Things on the new house are in process. It seems like a really long project, changing your life. Meanwhile, anxiety is a frequent visitor, even with the medications I take for the clinical aspects of it: phobia, panic, insomnia, migraine, IBS. I have been to the doctor three times since we got here a few months ago and I’m feeling more or less balanced. Food has been a problem because it soothes anxiety. Especially fast food and junk food are a problem. So my last visit to the doctor was with their dietician. She was going to set me up with an individualized Mediterranean diet that does not, except in very moderate portions, include sugar, dairy, red meat, alcohol, or wheat. No citrus, caffeine, crucirferious or raw veggies. It’s difficult. I just want someone to tell me what to eat and how much and then that’s all I’ll eat.

Things I know I can eat are oats, eggs, nuts, almond milk, almond yogurt, rice, quinoa, chicken, roasted vegetable, peanut butter and jelly plus some fruits. I do eat just these things for a while until I break down and have a donut. Or several. So I decided to call in the troops. I wanted to know why I eat so much when I fall off the healthy eating train. Is this binging or normal? I’m not changing my diet to lose weight, but to settle my tummy issues. I’ve read several books and articles and have many cookbooks too. Am I spoiled to think I need more variety? Or am I a binge eater? Maybe both? I had a feeling part of my problem would require a different kind of doctor, like a therapist of some sort. But I started with the diet doctor.

She came in and said “You’re obese but you are not morbidly obese.” Then she tried to soften the blow “after menopause it’s almost impossible to lose five pounds.” So I’m five pounds from NOT being obese? Before I could ask her, we went through food groups together, the things I can’t eat. Everything she said, I already knew. I was already trying to do. She did say it was fine to have “just a little” of everything. She was talking so fast I was again unable to ask a deeper question: What is “just a little?” I know I do eat more than just a little. I can’t stop once I start on a bag of chips. I could easy eat ten cookies. I really love sweets. Candy bars. For sure plural.

My life was like that for a long time, the stereotypical yo-yo dieter. Then gradually over maybe ten years, the next day I started to feel ill in ways I am not going to describe as I did that before. I know now if I eat bad shit in copious amounts I feel bad. It’s just been getting worse as the years go by. Not my eating but my gut biome. Some days I’m so bloated I cannot zip my jeans. Other days they feel too loose. I didn’t get a chance to tell the doctor that I can gain or lose five pounds in a day or two. The other binge type thing is if I start, I continue for days. Or I used too. Symptoms have gotten so bad I don’t get off the couch the next day. On the positive side, I’ve got some new prescription medication that helps. I really don’t drink much wine these days because wine and Prevalite do not mix well. Also wine causes insomnia. If I do have a little wine and then I’m just a little tired the next day.

Prevalite does not help me to process unhealthy (for me) foods. I was hoping it would. Finally at the end of the long lecture from the diet doc, I asked no questions, like am I am binge eater. Yes, I think I binge. Or binged. I haven’t overeaten since I saw the doctor. I did order a book on Diet and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which is really the best type of therapy for changing any ingrained character trait). I’ve practiced CBT with my favorite therapist in Michigan for other issues not related to food. Being human sure is messy. But the other part is at 66 I know how to find help and I never stop trying to heal myself.

These days, most everything is right. Hope to have exciting house news soon, but as Al keeps telling me, it’s not a done deal until the deal is done.

State of Mind

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My favorite way to avoid reality is reading. I’ve been doing more of it than ever since Covid came into our lives. Some days, most days, it’s the only thing I do. I should be writing my novel, but I’m…not. Ten pages a month is not a cheery output for me. My head is too cluttered right now and I wonder if it’s my age (66) or the move from the northern part of the country to the southern. During Covid. Which makes a difference.

I miss my friends. It’s hard to make new ones during a pandemic with your head stuck in a book. We had a lot to do when we first got here. Despite the crazy rising costs of houses, our plan was always to move to a house and we are stubbornly sticking to it. Also we are keeping our little St. Pete condo as an investment property because housing costs are not going down any time soon but the stock market just might crash. Another reason to buy a house. We finally got the okay for a pre-approved mortgage, our final piece of business, and called a realtor here in St. Pete. He says he has lots to show us in our $ range with our specific wants/needs.

Then this morning Al showed me a place on the Florida map north of us with newer, nicer houses for half the cost of those we’ve seen in St Pete. (Just to give you an idea, in St. Pete, a condo in a new development with the type of floor plan we want is a million dollars.) We had planned to move about an hour south if we didn’t find something affordable in St. Pete. This is an hour north. On a golf course. Not as close to the beaches, but still on the Gulf side of the state. I said okay, we can go an hour north or an hour south.

There are several reasons to go south instead of north. We have many Michigan friends who winter an hour south of us. We even have a few friends who live year round thereabouts. Then there are our boys. They have more family dotted south of us all the way to Naples, so when they come visit it is convenient. One positive thing about moving north is that it’s cooler in summer. The heat in St Pete did not please Al, and he has yet to golf. He only started walking a few weeks ago. Also, the golf courses seem plentiful in those northern ‘burbs.

My head knows I’ll get the house I want north of here and a happy husband. My heart says “stay put or go south.” Logic says Al is usually right about big moves and we’ll be content to live out our days a bit north, where there are nights when it actually freezes in winter. Freezing temps, or even a slight chance of them, make the news as it doesn’t happen every year. Most days I keep my mind occupied with Regency, England in 1815. I wouldn’t want to live then, but if it’s just in my head, I can pretend they have toilets and running water.