Every little thing…

 

So I’m a little introspective these days… maybe 36 hours of weather mayhem and a week of prep before said near-disaster will cause that? Or it’s the overthinking thing… there’s that too. And then there’s the OCD issues…

Oh holy hell… perhaps I should just take myself to a facility and call it a life? Continue reading

#HurricaneIrma… a love letter to my home

So I’ve been posting on Facebook pretty regularly and I’ve given updates and commented and replied to some folks on other social media channels and via texts but now that the storm has passed and the shutters are mostly down and all has been checked and verified, here’s the rundown on the biggest Hurricane I’ve ever ridden out in this crazy place I call home.

Yes, it’s crazy, yes I love it, yes it’s home. Always. Home.

To be clear, I am truly protected by Angels. That’s the only explanation I have for this weekend… divine intervention is pretty much the only thing that comes to mind. And mind you, I’m definitely not a religious person. But if you know me you already know that and we won’t go into it right now. But suffice to say that I am blessed. For those of you who don’t know, I either own, rent, or borrow 3 homes in Punta Gorda and Lakeland. So when Hurricane Irma started making her way here I took care of the Punta Gorda plan and sent lots of texts and made lots of calls to the roomies on how to prep the Lakeland house to survive the storm. By Saturday morning the two in Punta Gorda were fully shuttered and/or boarded and the Lakeland house was far enough inland to not be a concern. Then I heeded the call and got out of town. So… long story short… at the end of the storm every one of these homes ended up being within 30 miles or less of the eye of the hurricane and NONE had any damage at all. Oh wait, I forgot! There was one broken candle holder in my home in Punta Gorda that apparently was pushed off a window ledge at the height of the storm due to the window vibrating. Well, that’s what I think happened. Truly I can only guess because – duh! – I wasn’t there. 6 to 8 feet of projected storm surge pretty much guaranteed that.

img_3186#nope #evacuee #notcrazy #scenesfromarefuge

So I weathered the storm fine personally… without electricity from Sunday around 8am to Monday when I packed up and left to return home… but I’m pretty damned sure I never want to spend that many hours watching trees bend in positions that they were never designed to bend into. And the noise… lawd the noise. Every bang and bump had me saying “what the hell was that!” But finally late Sunday night it was over in south Florida… and then when I got back to Punta Gorda on Monday afternoon I found that everything there was completely unscathed. Nothing missing, nothing damaged, and the condo even had power. Of course I did find that my friend’s boat was definitely trying to jump the building… stern-heavy isn’t a good thing in a hurricane, make a note… but from the condition of the freezer the power at the condo wasn’t even out long… the ice cream didn’t even thaw FFS!

img_0753img_0754Stupid Boat Tricks FTW!

And as for my home in Lakeland… wow. The pictures are amazing. There are so very many trees down all over the historic district and Lake Hollingsworth, including a great big one right across the street from my house and yet my beautiful oaks stood the worst of the storm and are still standing. I lost a few screen panels in the pool cage and an errant branch was thrown through one of them (thanks Irma – that’s pretty petty of you), and I currently have 3 panels of Privacy Fence that are laying down on the job, but there was no roof damage, no leaks, and my roomies did a fantastic job of keeping everything together… in their first hurricane, because they were already #Detroittough and now they too are #Floridastrong.

21557560_10211430613493458_5674464579090493501_n.jpg21462690_10211430629173850_3788808345616788346_n.jpg21432936_10211430627093798_5682140161990968008_n.jpgWow.

So Lakeland took a surprise hit and Punta dodged a big bullet with storm surge that was less than half the projected amount and at the end of the day all is well. Honestly I hope I don’t have to live through 24 hours like that again. Evacuation was a good plan, especially when I was coming back through Naples on I-75 yesterday. TBH the semi laying on its side at the truckstop in Alligator Alley was pretty epic but the bigger story is that everything survived… and I’m so proud of our state and how we did it with humor and grace and generosity. An example, I found gas yesterday morning south of Miami at a Costco but I don’t have a card. The man in front of me in line not only let me use his Costco card but also tried to pay for my gas. Seriously. Because #Florida.

img_3198img_3199img_3201Because #home.

Weird, wild, wonderful Florida. The place I can’t quit. The place I love. The place that will always be home to my heart and soul. Even if it’s also the place that periodically tries to kill me. No, not kidding… when I got back to the condo I found a baby Rattlesnake coiled up at the gate. Apparently he needed shelter from the storm? I’m just hoping the rest of his siblings aren’t lurking around anywhere else… and BTW thanks Mr Fireman for conveniently showing up to take the shovel and relocate that displaced resident to his proper home. He’s apparently endangered. And his place on the list moved up when I found him here.

#Yikes

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But in the end everything survived. Even the damned rattlesnake. But most especially all of the people I love and the places I call home. And now I too am back home. So everyone stay #Floridastrong… everything will be back to normal very soon. Or as normal as it ever gets down here. Meanwhile Boat Drinks for everyone! We’ve earned it!

img_3212Cheers!🍊🌴🍹

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Five months… and change…

Five months ago everything in my life started changing, and I didn’t even know it.

I started changing.

Five months ago I sent a resume to a company in Fort Myers that I’d never heard of. Four and a half months ago I came down to Punta Gorda for the first time. Continue reading

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season…


Hint… you can’t. There, now I’m your weather guru.

So we’re already under a State of Emergency, entire state, and it’s freakin’ October. I know, what the original hell? Does the weather know what month it is? Apparently not. So it’s time… time to prep, time to inventory the Liquor Cabinet, time to put things away outside so nothing becomes a future flying projectile, and time to realize that apparently I am adulting right now… even if I didn’t think I was every capable of that, especially with natural disasters and stuff.

Apparently I can. Who knew?

I remember 2004 and the terrible trio of Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne when we lived in Celebration. Eddie B and I were renting, we were not allowed to board the windows because our landlord in NYC didn’t see the need for it and was more concerned about the Hardieboard trim on the windows than the risk of windows being blown out, but we had great neighbors and we made it through all three with very little damage. Then there was 1999 and Floyd when Eddie and I lived in Melbourne (AKA the original projected landfall site) and we had to evacuate for the only time in all of my years in the FLA. That was eally hard – saying goodbye to all of my possessions that wouldn’t fit in our car and knowing that we might be homeless at the end of the thing.

Really hard stuff.

Today however this is easier. Now I’ve got a sturdy well-built house, it has a hard-wired generator to keep the lights and A/C on and the food and beer chilled, and I’ve got a homeowner’s policy to cover whatever goes wrong if it’s over my deductible. So I’m hoping for the best and prepping for a bit of convenience at the worst and getting a poncho so I can lower the pool regularly and let the dog outside.

I’ve got this. Really. Without Eddie and without Bob, because now I truly am a grownup. Sometimes anyway.

What’s hard to believe today is how much has changed since the last time I prepped for something like this though is how different life it now. We didn’t have any smart phones in 2004… internet access was limited to our computers and keeping the electricity on was a priority. We had a cellphone but we were still mostly dependent on landlines as was everyone else so if the phone lines were down or your battery died then you were in trouble. We were lucky in Celebration that we had underground utilities so we never lost cable, electric, or internet, but we were definitely in the minority. Also we lived in a very well-built community and honestly we sustained very little damage but most of central Florida looked like a sea of blue tarps for months and even years after those three storms.

We were lucky… but today I wonder what another Charlie would bring? Probably not as much luck. Probably results that would be a lot worse.

So I’m getting ready and I truly hope my neighbors are doing the same. I’ve already let friends know that my home has room if they need shelter. In the end though we’re Floridians, we really don’t even wake up for anything less than a Cat 3, but since this thing is the size of Arizona we’re all starting to stir. Keep my crazy state in your thoughts and if you need a dry spot to rest then know that dinner will be ready by 7 on Thursday and Friday and there will be wine and Hurricanes.

#becauseFlorida

They’ll be here before you know it…

live-your-lifeSo this morning I started planning our big yearly entertaining event – the 2017 New Years Brunch. So far I’ve created a Facebook event, built a guest list, started adding to the Pinterest board, built a planning spreadsheet… you know, the usual things when you’re entertaining in 2016? Yeah, all of those.

Side note, how did we do this before social media? Wait, what? You don’t do it that way? Whatevs… Paper invites? Spiral notebook lists? In a word… #nope!

And with this step I’m making the decision that come what may with the search for work I’m still here and this is where my life is happening. It’s time to make some plans farther out than tomorrow. Life goes on. And if something happens that pulls me out of here then guess what? I know how to fly home. I’m pretty damned good at buying plane tickets in fact and I can get here pretty fast. So everything else be damned… the holidays will be as I wish. Thanksgiving in North Carolina, Christmas and New Years here. Festive, fun, surrounded by people I love in the places I love, with everything I love included.

I guess the message I’ve been getting from the voices in my head is “live your life”. Out loud. With no need for any forgiveness or permission. These are most assuredly interesting times indeed but putting everything on hold in order to wait for other people to decide things just isn’t working for me anymore. It’s time for me to just do it. Just live.

Today… and tomorrow… and beyond.

 

Be a Princess? Yeah, I can do that…

Of course it’s harder than just typing the words.  Yeah, and it’s harder than walking into a shop, putting on a Tiara, and et voila!  There I am, ROYAL!  Oh I wish it was that easy.  I also wish I could just “Bibbity Bobbity Boo” it into happening.  But no, it’s been hard damned work becoming royalty.  It’s hard damned work making a dream come true.  But I can.

First let me explain.  I’m not working on becoming a real honest-to-goodness House of Windsor Royal or some such nonsense.  Er, no.  Clearly, being born in Dandridge, TN as the descendent of German farmers and Irish horse thieves that’s pretty much not going to happen.  Besides, the crown I’m seeking is far harder to attain.  You see, I want to be a Disney Running Princess, with a RunDisney Princess Crown Medal around my neck, after I’ve run 13.1 miles through The Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, and I even get to run through Cinderella’s Castle which is really a dream come true.  It’ll be just like my first visit, when I was just a little kid and I skipped through those gates and up the street because I was so damned glad to finally be a part of the magic.  And that’s what it is you know.  Magic.  And this Sunday, at the buttcrack of dawn, I’ll make that magic happen, and I’ll make this particular dream come true.

Because I can do that.

Yes, yes I really can.  Even if I didn’t believe it when I first said the words.  Even if I’ve had lots of doubts along the way.  Even if it’s been harder than I ever dreamed possible to make this happen.  Because making this “Can” happen started out as a dream.  Something I didn’t even start turning into a plan until years after I first said the words.  So it’s a dream that’s been a very long time coming indeed.  But first it started as words spoken out loud in the sunshine way back in February of 2011, as I lounged by the pool at Disney’s Yacht Club on our yearly Anniversary visit.  The dream came when I saw all of the happy and tired runners from that day’s Disney Princess Half Marathon partying on the sand, with their so shiny medals glinting in the afternoon sun.  After first thinking “what a bunch of idiots” I immediately had another thought that was just ridiculous.  Because that second thought I said out loud.  And the words I said were “you know, I can do that”.  And that small sentence?  Those six words?  They changed everything.

Everything.

Those words were prescient, because those words, spoken four long years ago, have come true.  Then I could not do this thing that I’m doing this weekend, but today I can.  I can do it, I will do it, and truly it’s been worth every bit of the metric crap-ton of work I’ve invested, the gallons of sweat I’ve lost as I trained in the hottest summer we’ve had in years, and the laser beam focus than most ADHD people can never muster the energy to pull together in order to be able to do so.  This weekend I will meet that long-delayed goal.

I will be a Princess.

A running Princess.  A running princess who has run a long way from where she started when she first spoke those words.  When she first began moving toward a nearly impossible goal from the most unlikely of beginnings.  Because back when I said that?  The furthest distance I could run was maybe one city block, if someone was chasing me with an axe, and they looked reasonably healthy.  Last year I still couldn’t do it.  I ran/walked the Royal Family 5k on Princess Weekend and I managed a 17 min. mile.  And while that was definitely not great, it also wasn’t as bad as before.  It was progress.  And this Sunday I will realize that dream, with what I hope is something around a 13 min./mile.  But whatever I finish with, it’s mine, I earned it, and it all began with that simple statement of “I can do that”.

Those words are damned dangerous.  They can change your life.

For me though, making those words come true about this and my other goals of the last ten years means that I now know truly that I can accomplish anything.  As long as I say those words.  As long as I believe.  As long as I work.  Hard.  As long as I do not quit.  I can.  And the lesson here for you guys is that you should never stop believing in your dreams… because only you can make them come true.  You can do that.

I can do it.

I can.

Let the Fall Festivities begin!

ergh!  Or whatever noise facsimile you want to insert for halloween creepy crawlers.  See also, ick.  Filed alongside “WTH would I want to do that?”

And with that small “get offa my lawn moment” can I just state for the record that there isn’t a chance in Hell or Orlando that I’m planning on going to Halloween Horror Nights this year?  Er, yeah, um, no.  To be totally crystal clear on this point, I’d rather deal with thousands of killer death armies of clowns than anything remotely undeadish like a zombie.  In my considered opinion zombies are so played out.  Well, zombies and sparkly child vampires.  Oh and anything to do with chainsaws.

So, yeah, the chance of me paying Universal what I consider to be an exorbitant amount of my hard-earned money for the opportunity to spend an entire evening being mauled by dozens of moth-eaten, slime-covered, oozing faced people in need of a bath and maybe some Bactine is not good.

Yes, I am well aware that all the cool kids are doing it.  No, I’m not cool.  Maybe I never was. In fact, I’d say it’s highly likely that I never was.

Oh well.

But the idea of paying someone for the opportunity to have a bunch of people groaning like my Great-Aunt as she gets out of her Lazyboy, as they paw at my face and utter “brains” overandover just doesn’t sound like fun.  Or not fun for me today.  I think I’d be more into going to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween and collecting some candy.  Or even better, going to EPCOT Food & Wine and collecting a hangover.

Yeah.  Winner winner chicken dinner!  That’s the ticket!

And the bonus is that if I have a really successful Food & Wine experience the next day I could probably scare those damned zombies.  ”Brainsssssss” indeed… but I’m reasonably sure I can restore myself with a Bloody Mary or a “triplegrandeonepumpnonfatlightwhipmocha”.  Added bonus is that my acne is clearing up.  And my hands aren’t falling off.

So, with all that grumbling, happy early Halloween.  Since it appears that we must celebrate it for an entire month down here in order to make sure it is properly commemorated.  My advice is to skip the faux zombies and go to Miami – don’t settle for second best.  ARRRRGGHHHHH…