70 Degrees in FL

With apologies to our Northern friends who are experiencing the coldest winter in recent memory, I must say we are enjoying central Florida.  Everett and I are not so far south as to be in tropical territory, but not so far north as to be cold.  As a matter of fact, Monday was a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun was shining brightly.  I decided to run a couple of errands in town while Everett was out golfing.  I pulled on a pair of capri slacks, a short-sleeved top, and my flip flops, gave Tyler Dog his “you’ve got to stay in the RV” cookie, and headed to the local Winn Dixie for some groceries.

After finding what I needed – there’s a level of compromise when hunting for familiar ingredients in regions of the country that aren’t “home” – I headed for the checkout.  As the friendly cashier scanned my items, I noticed the woman in line behind me.  She was a few years younger than I am and dressed completely different.  SHE was wearing a vest over a thermal, waffle weave, long-sleeved Henley-style shirt, heavy sweatpants and sneakers with thick socks.  She looked me up and down a couple of times.  She smiled.  And said, “Y’all one of them snowbirds, ain’t ya?”  She then proceeded to try to sell me a couple of acres of swamp land along the Withlacoochee River that had been in her family “for generations without doing us much good.”  I believe I was lucky enough to experience the rare sighting of a native Floridian!

Post Disney

I know, I know, I’m a HORRIBLE blogger.  We didn’t take pictures at Disney.  We didn’t post any “during the experience” information.  We simply had a wonderful time visiting the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios) plus the “Downtown Disney” shopping extravaganza.  We rode bikes, busses, trains, and boats to get around almost 50 square miles of Disney property.  Did you know there’s an actual gated community of HOMES that people buy so they can LIVE in Disney?!?!?  It makes The Villages look natural!  Yes, the rides and shows were fun, but you can read about them on someone else’s blog.

I was really impressed with the “small” details.  There were NO LINES at any ladies’ room I used.  And I could always find one when I wanted one, within just a few steps.  Now THAT’s important!  We didn’t see a single piece of litter the whole week.  Well, except for that bloody tissue at the foot of the escalator in the Contemporary Resort one evening around 9pm . . . but I’m sure there was a perfectly reasonable bit of drama behind THAT.  Every staff member (or in Disney-speak “cast member”) was cheerful, helpful, and sincere.  Most we spoke with admitted they even came to the parks on their days off to shop, meet friends at restaurants, and see shows . . . just like a “real” city!  Well, except for the cranky old man at the 1st gate into Fort Wilderness who acted like we were potentially illegal immigrants to his domain . . .  was I SUPPOSED to know exactly how the check-in procedure worked before I’d ever done it?  It was fascinating to see the engineering involved in moving thousands of people in tightly planned ways without them noticing.  The place is mind boggling!

There was one incident at the campground where a guest checking out with his 38′ motorcoach cut the corner of his site too close.  His site was one of those with a 55-gallon trash can near the front.  There was a can every 3 or 4 sites for the convenience of guests, and they were partially buried to prevent being moved by wind or people — or 38′ motorcoaches.  The can did NOT move, but it was caved-in and badly scratched .  We saw this as we left our site for breakfast around 8:30am.  By the time we got back from breakfast around 10am, a brand new trash can was in place and no evidence remained of the damage.  Scary efficient!

So, we’re back at our winter home base, ready for family holiday visits, and working part-time at the local flea market for cigar money.  We hope you and yours will have a lovely holiday and leave you with our single Disney photo.  That’s Donald (according to Disney the original angry bird) and it cost us $14.95 to buy the JPEG (can’t you just hear Donald spluttering!?!?)

Disney Holiday 2013

OMG DISNEY!!!

We’re at the Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney for a week.  This is a big step for Everett & I as we 1) don’t like kids, 2) don’t like to be in crowds of people, 3) are not fond of using public transportation (i.e. not being in control of the ride), and 4) aren’t really “Disney People”.  We define “Disney People” as those who decorate their RVs with Disney lights, signs, and mouse ears.  Every T-shirt they own is Disney licensed.  These are the folks who start wearing their Disney Santa Hats with mouse ears on December 1st.  There are a LOT of those people here.  You should see the Christmas lights!!!  (no, we didn’t get any pictures last night, but we will, we will)

So . . . we will struggle to stay on our Fast Pass schedule and not snipe at the parents of crying children.  Or barking dogs – during Tyler’s dog walk last night one lady shouted over the hysterical yapping of her Tibetan Spaniel that “he doesn’t like other dogs, but he’s lovely with just people.”  Who could tell?

Everett promises not to be crabby about the sounds of fireworks from 3 different parks after 9pm.  I promise not to give parenting advice to anyone, regardless of how they’re struggling.  We both promise to make an effort to have a good time.  I booked this trip and I’m GOING to have FUN.  Can you tell I’m up too early?  Our breakfast reservations are for 8am.  Ugh.  I’m sure it will be an incredible, enchanted, happy, happy day!  But I’ll keep you posted.

Northerners Anonymous

“Hello, my name is Ethel.”

Chorus:  “Hi Ethel!”

“Umm, yeah, my name is Ethel, and I’m a recovering Northerner.”

Chorus: “Welcome to Florida, Ethel!”

Look, I was born and raised in New England.  I believed to the bottom of my warm woolen double knitted socks that if you didn’t have the fortitude to stick out eight or nine months of cold and snow, you didn’t deserve to enjoy the short but perfect New England summer.

December in Maine

December in Maine

We used to joke about it:

“Say, Everett, what do you want to do this summer?”

“Gee I’m sorry, Ethel, I’ve got to work that weekend.”

But I was SOOOOOO sick of shoveling snow.  Again, I realize this is sacrilege to a good Northerner.  It’s healthy exercise, warms one up, clears paths and decks for winter use.  But we were tired of it and decided to winter down south after retirement.

So here we are in central Florida.  In December.  In the sunshine.  75° Fahrenheit.  No jacket.  Flip flops on my feet for crying out loud.  And BLOOMING FLOWERS!!!  No one ever told me there would be winter-blooming flowers!  I mean, I’d heard of Christmas Cactus and Poinsettias, but those are indoor plants that sit in your grandmother’s dining room.  Everett and I went to the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville this Monday and there was COLOR!  Outside!  We even saw a blooming BANANA TREE!

It IS winter.  It still gets dark around 4:30, 5pm down here, just like up North.  But the locals call anything below 70° “freezing”.  And I can walk my dog 3 times a day without spending 20 minutes getting bundled up before and unbundled after.  And I can stop to smell the flowers EVERY time.

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The Night before Thanksgiving

“Everett, where’s my phone?”

“Dunno.  Want me to call it?”

Tyler Dog gave us that “they’re acting weird again” look as Everett and I sat motionless at the kitchen table with our heads cocked, waiting to hear a ringtone.

We’d gotten a call from friends saying they were on their way over to visit.  Much to the dog’s amusement we instituted a rush of “cleaning up”.  A 400 sq. foot RV doesn’t provide much visiting room at the best of times, and late on a rainy afternoon before Thanksgiving is NOT the best of times.  We gathered dog toys off the floor and stashed them under the end tables.  We pulled the “dog hair prevention blanket” off the couch and stashed it in its traveling cupboard.  We put away all the dry dishes from the rack and put the sink cover over all the dirty ones in the sink.  We stuffed countertop clutter into cabinets, piled the day-to-day stuff from the kitchen table/computer desk into a basket and hucked it in a closet.  We ran a quick check around the livingroom/diningroom/kitchen/entryway (it’s an RV, remember?) and tossed all the assorted trash that had accumulated into the garbage bin in its own little closet under the sink counter.  I picked up my purse to stow it in the bedroom closet . . . and realized my cell phone was NOT in its little pocket.  I had just taken our friends’ call on that phone, it MUST be nearby.  So, yes, I did want Everett to call it.  And yes, we did hear the ringtone . . . quietly and as if from far away.  And yes, after several minutes of triangulation and secondary calls to keep it ringing, we did find the phone.  Deep in the garbage bin, under the morning’s coffee grounds, thankful to have been rescued.

Among so many other blessings, we are thankful to have friends who want to visit us, for family who invited us for Thanksgiving dinner at THEIR house, and for an RV big enough to live in, but small enough to not lose anything I’ve misplaced for long.

How we'd like friends to think we live

How we’d like friends to think we live

How it usually IS - I can't even fix red eye on the dog!

How it usually IS – I can’t even fix red eye on the dog!

11-12-13 One Kibble

Yesterday was Veterans’ Day – a Big Picture Day.  My maternal grandfather and my father were both Marines.  Everett was Air Force.  All three served during wars.  We visited the Florida National Cemetery for Veterans yesterday and paid our respects.  Big Picture.  Private feelings.

Today is 11-12-13.  Now that’s a small detail kind of day that I can write about.  As you may have noticed, our plans to visit Gettysburg on our way south for the winter were altered by the advancing cold front, and our desire to be well below the snow line before having to deal with actual snow.  We still took our time getting to our winter base, stopping to smell the camel, etc.  Dear Auntie says we’re the only folks she knows who take a month to make the 3-day drive from New England to Florida – though she admits we do see a great deal more of interest our way.  We’ve come back to the wonderful little RV park we stayed in last spring and have spent a week renewing acquaintances with year-round residents and placing bets on which of the other snowbirds will be the next to arrive.  Major excitement as I’m sure you’ll agree.

The oddity of today’s date got me thinking about small stuff.  Like Tyler Dog’s One Kibble Mystery.  It’s been going on for quite some time and has become one of those things one notices as being of some mystic importance.  The dog is an American Cocker Spaniel, medium sized, of placid temperament, and regular habits.  His day-to-day schedule runs to: wake up, scratch vigorously, go out to pee, eat breakfast, nap, take a walk, nap, look out the windows to be sure all is right with the world, nap, eat dinner, take another walk, nap, go out for a last pee, go to bed.  Meals consist of 1/3 cup of kibble for breakfast and 1/3 cup of kibble with a spoonful of leftover “people food” for dinner.  Tyler is an eager eater and most meals do not last more than a few seconds from bowl touchdown to completion.  But invariably – and I mean EVERY time – he leaves a single kibble uneaten.  Not that he simply doesn’t eat it.  Nope, every time – every single meal – he manages to leave one lone kibble floating in his water bowl where it swells up and bobs in the current.

What?

What?

In the years we’ve lived with him, we’ve never actually seen how the task is accomplished.  But after every meal, day in and day out, we have to clear his water bowl of one soggy kibble.  Is he making an offering to some doggie God?  Sacrificing a mouthful to atone for best forgotten sins?  Is it a test to be sure that the meal is safe before proceeding?  How does a creature with a brain the size of a lemon manage this ritual every day with just ONE kibble – never more than one, but always one?  What mysteries do YOUR pets promote?