Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've just returned from a 3 day trip to Key West.  This is equivalent to a three day trip to Sault Ste Marie when I lived in MI.  What I mean by that is 8 hour drive to get there and 8 hour drive home so only really a day and a half  in Key West.  But it was a very interesting time.

I went down with good friends Pam and Allen and we stayed at a  lovely tropical resort about 3 miles out of downtown Key West.  It was a beautiful resort though we didn't really have time to enjoy what it had to offer.  The interesting thing is we had a two story room which started on the second story of a building.  I had the upstairs room which meant I was on the third floor.  I had my own bedroom and my own private bathroom.  I was very happy to discover I can still climb stairs without a problem after a year of living where everything is on one level. 

When we made our reservations for our trip we did not know that they would correspond with a two week Key West celebration called Fantasy Fest.  For information on what Fantasy Fest is or pictures  you can go at your own risk......People were definitely living out their fantasies at least their freedom from cloth clothing fantasies.  It was quiet an education in  human nature for us.  Would I go back to Key West during this time??????  Not sure is the answer.  We were told by several of our waitresses or bartenders that most of the people taking part where visitors and not Key West natives. As one waitress said...."Those of us that live in Key West can't take part in this.  We have to work!"  A bartender told us "If you really want to see something interesting you need to be here Friday when the clothing optional cruise ship docks..."  OKAY.......we left for home on Tuesday.

In all fairness to Key West public nudity is illegal.  It's just that for them clothing does not have to be made of fabric.  It can just be a coat of paint or a piece of chain link.  I do have to admit though that some of the paint jobs where absolutely amazing!  Not my style, but amazing none the less. 

Friday, October 19, 2012


I am into my second year in Florida and getting close to moving into my fourth year alone as a married single person.  Time really does move by quickly.  At times that scares me and at other times I find it a relief that time goes by so quickly,  That is how my whole life seems to have been.  A series of contradictions. I hate being alone and I love being alone.  I'm married and yet I am single. I don't know how both can exist at the same time but they do. 

I can't help but wonder what the future will bring.  At times I think I know what I would like my future to look like then in the blink of my eye I'm not so sure. I guess it will be what it will be and I will find a way to embrace it and make the most of it. 

As for tonight and this moment I will make my dinner, eat it in front of the TV and well after dinner who knows.  I'm not sure what I will find myself doing but I know whatever it is I will do it alone.  Today has been a day of being alone.  Tomorrow will be with others. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


One year ago today I arrived in Florida and began the process of restarting and rebuilding my life.  It has been a year of ups and downs; of challenges and excitement. I still believe it was the right thing for me to do and do not regret making the move.  There are many things I love about living in Florida and the weather is only one of them.  I definitely DO NOT miss winter and its cold, snow and ice.  Yes the summer had its hot and humid days, but Maryland has them as well.  We actually had less severe weather than they did this summer.  I know they had lots of threats of severe weather since I can't get Montgomery county to stop sending me the text messages on my cell phone.  Currently the fall weather here, though wetter than usual, is beautiful. 

I have been very busy since arriving in Florida.  I did have a slow start due to not being able to find a doctor and getting treatment for my RA for the first 4 months, but once that challenge was met and I got back my flexibility and for the most part lost the pain I got busy.  My energy level isn't what it used to be, but that may have as much to due to age as RA.  I can do a lot in a day or maybe even two, but then I need to really rest for a day or two.  An example is I can go to Disney World and spend the day and maybe also evening walking around with no problem, but then the next day I need to have planned R&R to get back my energy level. 

What have I been doing this year.
  • I've joined a number of "clubs" in The Villages.  Most that I have joined deal with my interests such as Card Making, Quilting, and Disney.  Some are purely social such as neighborhood and church gatherings and a few activities for singles.
  • I have learned how to play several new card games such as Samba and Texas Hold 'em, and have become reacquainted with Canasta a card game of my childhood and youth.  
  • I have read a lot. And I do mean a lot!  I've collected the books in a box to give away at some point and there are currently over 30 in there. That doesn't count the library books I've read or those that were loaned to me by others.
  • One thing I have really enjoyed is learning how to line dance more than just The Electric Slide.  I have spent a fair number of evenings dancing and listening to music at one of The Village squares.  (As of last weekend we now have three free music venues every night and that doesn't count the musical entertainment at the various bars.)  
  • I've made a few short trips to visit other parts of my new home state.  One trip took me over to Tarpon Springs on the Gulf Coast.  As part of that trip I revisited places from the past when my parents lived in Bayonet Point.  Sadly their old neighborhood was looking pretty run down.  But looking back on good times had there was fun.
  • There have been lots of trips to Disney World.  I've gotten more than my money's worth out of my annual pass.  It was a good investment and I have enjoyed the relaxed nature of visiting there when you know you can always come back to see what you miss.  There have been fun free concerts and other events such as Epcot's Flower and Garden show and now its Food and Wine Festival. With an annual pass and shopping restraint a visit to WDW can be very inexpensive for FL residents.  
  • I am finding a variety of volunteer opportunities.  Some of these are directly tied to volunteer experiences I had in MD such as working with 4-H, packing food bags for the homeless, and our quilt guilds up coming quilt show scheduled for January of 2013.  I'm also finding new activities involved with support of military personnel deployed overseas and their families, working with craft classes for people living in assisted living homes and soon I will be working with a craft group meeting in a new women's prison in Ocala.  
I am definitely not bored!  I thought I would be going to the movies more once I moved down here since it is much less expensive to do so down here than up north, but I actually haven't.  Partly I just don't find the time to do so, partly I think why pay money for such things when there are so many free things to do.  The truth is actually probably more that I just don't like to go to movies alone.  If I'm going to watch something alone I'll sit at home and do it on my TV. 

One thing I have learned about life in TV (The Villages) is people eat out A LOT! They eat out before group activities, they eat out after group activities.  They eat out after card games and after golf games.  Church on Sunday morning....go out for brunch afterwards!  Nothing specific to do on a Thursday evening find a group of friends and go out for dinner. Going for an early morning walk or exercise class go out for breakfast afterwards. I think between all the various groups I am involved with I could probably eat out at least 8 or 9 meals a week.  I don't though; too much money and way too many calories.  I eat out 1 or maybe 2 meals a week.  Consequently, I spend a lot of time begging off invitations to join in dining out.  The other thing done a lot down here is drinking.  Booze is cheap in most bars. Most have Happy Hours all day and night long.  I've seen bumper stickers that say "The Villages--a drinking community with a golfing problem!"

All the above said what is my favorite activity in The Villages.  Well other than going down to Disney World I think my favorite activity remains driving around TV in my golf cart.  There's something freeing about it.  I love being out in the fresh air.  I also like not having to visit the gas pump with it.  It's electric!  Oh and I love the cloud formations in FL.  They can be absolutely breath taking! 

I have met a lot of wonderful people, made lots of friendships and am now cementing those friendships which are becoming deeper than others.  I still miss my friends from Maryland and hope one day some of them will wander down this way to visit.  I definitely miss my family members, but they all have lives of there own that they are now involved with.  I look forward to their coming down to visit as well as my going back to visit with them. 

Now on into my second year.  I am looking forward to what God has planned for me in this next year.  He has indeed been good to me so far.  He has guided my steps and protected me when I've needed protection.  He is my strength and my hope.  I am daily amazed at the depth of his love and his grace. I praise God and give thanks to him for all he has done for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


They say time flies when you are having fun. Then again my very wise Grandmother always told me that the older you get the faster time goes by!  I sure would like to believe the first sentiment is why time is flying by so fast for me, though I know there is much truth in my Grandmother's wisdom as well.

I can hardly believe that in one more week I will have been in FL for a year!  So much has gone on in that year and I have learned so much about myself, but more on that next week.  Today I want to reminisce on last evening.

It was another in a long line of trips to  Walt Disney World. (I have certainly gotten the worth out of my annual pass this year!)  This time heading to EPCOT for a visit to The Food and Wine Festival.  While riding down on the bus I was musing on how I hadn't been as excited about this trip as I had others in the past and wondered if maybe I had been one too many times to WDW.  This I found a rather distressing thought!

 It had been a rather dreary day so far and the afternoon before I had spent standing out in an unexpected downpour watching a parade in The Villages.  It had been a dreary day all long yesterday as well.  I've been to Disney in the rain and was prepared with my disposable rain poncho, but really didn't want to face that yesterday.  Could this be part of my malaise?  I think so.  As we got closer to WDW the clouds broke up and the sun came out.  Disney magic at work???  By the time we arrived it was a beautifully sunny afternoon and the humidity had dropped like a dead weight. The excitement had returned.  I think I had just been sun deprived!

Faith and I started our trip by stopping in at Innovations West to have our free picture taken with Disney Characters, courtesy of  Chase and our Disney Visa cards.  Who would we meet today?  Ah, it's Minnie and Goofy.  I loved standing next to Goofy; he's my height. Then on to the Festival Center.  We just missed the free wine tasting, which I was sorry about since it was a South African wine they were offering, but we got our free chocolate and then broke down and each purchased a small cup of pure liquid enchantment; Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate.  It was a decadently rich, slightly warm, liquid chocolate bar. I've never tasted anything like it.  YUM! 

Now it was time to move on into the Festival itself.  I had already had a preview of it a week earlier when at a friends invitation I joined her for a special day long presentation on the planning and building of EPCOT.  That event is another whole story, not for today.  ( I really need to get back to posting here more often!)
Anyway I already know the layout for the Festival and that the food was wonderful!  The big decision now in front of up is which of the 21 countries food booths to choose from.  What a dilemma. Not being able to decide, mainly because we really weren't hungry after that amazing chocolate drink, we headed back to the concert stage and the Boyz ll Men concert.  By this time I was into full Disney wonderment mode and it would only grow the rest of the evening.

I finally did settle on some food choices as the evening wore on.  Before we left for home I had Bratwurst on a Pretzel Roll from Germany; Baklava from Morocco; Steamed Mussels in Hoegaarden Beer Broth with a Baguette to sop up the broth; Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Carmel; and a Pumpkin Ale from Blue Moon.  All very tasty and just the right size portions and price. 

Why do I love Disney so much?  I think it is simple.  For me it is a magical place.  It's a place I can go and feel like dreams really can come true.  The sun suddenly comes out on an otherwise dreary day.  People are smiling, kids eyes are wide with wonder, and after a while mine are too.  EPCOT and the world showcase let me travel to places I've always dreamed of going but will in all likelihood never make it to.  Lat night we went to France.  As I sat in the theater watching the scenes of Paris, The Riviera, and the French Alps I could close out the theater and feel I was there.  At Disney I can go to concerts and revisit the music I love and all the concerts I never went to when I was younger and best of all they don't cost me anything additional.   But the best was yet to come. The Illuminations laser light show.

I can not describe the feeling I had watching this show.  I've seen it many times before and loved it.  I never tire of it.  Last night when watching it I had such a sense of wonder at its power and its beauty.  It no longer mattered that I was getting older, that I was returning to a home where I lived alone, that at times my body ached and I don't want to get out of bed.  For this moment everything was right!  For this moment I was sharing with tens of thousands the wonder of Disney and magic of not what is but what can be.

This is why I love going to Disney.  It's a happy positive place where people go to experience sharing in a love of a Mouse and the wonder of our world.  Call it escape. Call it what you will.

 I call it MAGIC!