Post Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was FUN for change, instead of a ton of work. I made my favorite thing ever: Reservations. O.C. White’s, a charming and laid back restaurant in one of my favorite places on earth, St. Augustine, was doing a Thanksgiving menu. So we (me, my daughter, and The Kid) drove north to dine, hang out, explore. We were joined by my daughter’s new boyfriend, who is such a trouper he drove up from Orlando separately to lunch with us, then drove back to do an obligatory big family thing with his extended family. I like him.

So, anyway, we had a lovely afternoon introducing The Kid to St. Augustine for the first time again. She hadn’t been there since she was a preschooler. It’s a totally different experience exploring with a really smart tween – she was into the old cemeteries and the history and of course the fort. The Castillo de San Marcos interior was closed, as it’s a federal park and it was a federal holiday, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from exploring the exterior, including the ancient coquina walls.

Kid: “Can I climb up there?”

Me and her mom, in unison: “NO!”

Kid: “But other people are doing it!”

Us: “Only because the park rangers have the day off.”

“BUT…”

“NO!!! Just because idiots are risking their necks doesn’t make it okay!”

It was like that. She needs to go back so park rangers can yell at her too. Then maybe she’ll believe us.

We spent a couple of hours just walking off our meal. After the fort we visited the Huguenot cemetery , which was also closed, but we did the history tour thing reading all the signs, and it was fascinating. We saw a tiny headstone for a child who died at 5.

We walked the streets of Old St. Augustine, and to our delight, the old schoolhouse was open! This is one of those hidden gem history experiences, admission is less than $7 per person, and there’s an animatronic story, tons of artifacts, it’s really fascinating. The Kid got to ring the old school bell, and read all of the history. It’s the ORIGINAL BUILDING, people! It’s old AF!

Then it stared to “mist,” and the mist became light rain, and we decided not to stick around for the holiday lights, because yeah, it was not just a mist. But all in all it was a lovely day, and I wish St. Aug was an hour away instead of two. It is one of those places I’d love to live, if I had the money. I do not.


All Better Now.

My knee is 98% recovered, just in time for work tomorrow. My three day weekend was not what I’d intended. My knee was still stiff and slightly sore when I woke up this morning, but this afternoon I took Gidget down the stairs for the outside walkie she’d missed for TWO days (plus most of the Nicole day). She’d been sighing and looking at me reproachfully, like I was either being mean for no reason by saying we couldn’t walk outside, or she was being punished for something she didn’t do. So the big moment arrived, I took her out this afternoon. I had NO pain at all going down the stairs. I’m gleeful. Gidget walked to a patch of grass, peed, sniffed around a bit, and headed for the stairs. She was done. Apparently I missed Outside way more than she did. She is not an outdoorsy girl.

I can’t begin to describe how insane my knee issues are. It came out of the blue Thursday evening after I had to squat and kneel doing the computer stuff. By Friday morning I could NOT put any weight on my left leg without screaming in pain as my leg buckled. By Sunday afternoon it was fine. Yes, I will be walking tomorrow, and all the days thereafter, because DAMN! I’ll give it a couple more days before I start a few minutes of yoga too, but this weekend was a wakeup call that exercise is NO LONGER OPTIONAL.

I realized that in my long tale of hurricane and knee pain, I never got around to discussing the midterms. Yes, Florida was very disappointing, but as a Democrat in FL, I’m used to disappointment. This effing state could have put Val Demings in the Senate, but re-elected that sanctimonious little shitweasel. And okay, Crist wasn’t an “exciting” candidate for governor, but he’s decent and competent and definitely not a fascist.

But, it’s FL and it’s full of rednecks and retirees who watch Fox 16 hours a day, and it’s gerrymandered AF. And sadly, the national Democratic apparatus wrote the state off as a lost cause and didn’t send much funding for Val or Charlie, let alone the House races or state races.

Nationally? A totally different story! Our national media was all in on the “traditional wisdom” that midterm elections favor the party that doesn’t hold the White House and acted like the “Red Wave” was a done deal. The “Red Wave” turned out to be a pink splotch, largely thanks to those meddling kids from Gen Z, God bless ’em. Democracy was saved, and we might end up with a squeaker of a win in the House as well as the Senate, and then we can get back to the work of fixing all the shit broken in the previous Admin.

We need to support Sen. Warnock in the GA runoff with that witless puppet. Send him a few bucks if you can.

No More F*cking Around Here.

So, the good news – Nicole had minimal impact in my area, except for right along the coast. The storm surge was BAD. Houses fell into the ocean, more are teetering on the brink, and there are beachside condos that are no longer safe, because the storm surge undermined the buildings.

I had basically no impact from the storm, except for a personal impact. I was not called in for storm duty (because it wasn’t that big a deal here) so I was working in my home office as usual on Thursday. Nicole was busy outside, but after being awakened at 4 am to the sound of transformers blowing and instant darkness, the power switched over and came back in about two minutes. So, I’d been up since 4 (I couldn’t go back to sleep, the storm was LOUD). I was at my desk in my home office well before 8, and was in the process of uploading research when the power blinked…and flickered…and blinked out…and I of course swore like a sailor, then it came back on, and blinked a few more times and then stabilized. Of course I’d lost my wifi connection so I waited for that to reset, then restarted my company laptop. It was fine, but the dock that connects to my two monitors (I can’t do my job off a laptop without those two monitors) had lost the connection.

So I fooled around with settings for a bit, then decided I had to do the tried and true, unplug it all and plug it in again before sitting on hold for tech support. So I did. It required a bit of physical contortions to do all the unplugging and plugging in again, but I got it done. It worked. I was up and running again, yay!

I sat down and worked – I did get up occasionally, I was not actually glued to my chair for the next 8 hours, but I noticed when I got up from my chair after 5, my bad knee was stiff and sore. I didn’t think too much about it, it as only a bit sore and I assumed it would calm down overnight.

It did not calm down overnight. It calmed down about as well as I do when told to “Just calm down.” I slept fine, no pain at all, because it only hurts when I put weight on it. My knee was so enraged by morning I could barely stand to get out of bed. I could not straighten my left leg, and putting more than the slightest bit of weight on it was unbearable. I had to support myself with grabbing furniture and walls, but I got to the bathroom, then the kitchen and made coffee and an ice pack, hobbled to the couch, and spent my previously scheduled “day off” with my leg elevated and iced.

Thank God Gidget is tiny, potty pad trained, and the goodest girl ever, because there was no way I could get her down the stairs, and she’s also totally neurotic and won’t let anyone else walk her. (My pet sitter never laid eyes on her when caring for her in June.) She’s very hurt about this no walkies situation and thinks it’s something she did. I’m praising her to the skies for being so good about it.

That was Friday, today is Saturday and it’s 80% better, though I am still elevating it when I’m sitting. Today’s issue is just general stiffness in my leg from hobbling around on it for a day; the insane joint pain is nearly gone. Tomorrow I’m sure it’ll be even better. Gidget might actually get out, but I can’t do that until I’m sure I can navigate the stairs without making it sore again.

This is not a new issue for me; it has happened in the past whenever I’ve gotten too out of shape. It started in my 30s. I know for a fact it responds 100% to regular exercise and a plant based diet. It might be arthritis, but I suspect bursitis, because it’s back of knee pain and it only happens with specific situations/motions and if I’ve been neglecting exercise and diet.

The last time I annoyed it, it didn’t get this bad, but it was after a ride on Expedition Everest a few years ago. Again, a mild twinge when I exited the ride, but an hour later I was hobbling around and it hurt for a day, then it was fine. I was in much better shape then, and it never got as bad as this round.

I’m sure it happened this time because I had to get my ass out of my chair and do some knee bends and twists and other normal movements humans who are in decent shape can do without incident, when I had to unplug and reconnect my computer stuff. It didn’t hurt at all at the time, because that’s how this is: It’s not an OW! I just hurt something! It gets annoyed later. Then I sat down in my cheap desk chair and clearly didn’t get up enough, and voila!

When I swore I was going to get out and walk every day in November, the Universe sent more heat, rain, and a tropical storm, and I had excuses to remain sedentary. This knee drama is what happens when I don’t walk regularly, and haven’t in weeks. I talk about doing yoga, but actually getting on the mat? Not so much. I sit. A lot. All the damn time. And now I’m paying the piper.

So, yeah, when my knee recovers from the current drama, probably by tomorrow, definitely by Monday (if not I’ll see a doctor, but it’s on its usual trajectory for recovery) I swear to GAWD I will walk daily, I will do yoga and stretch, and I will clean up my diet and cut the crap. This was a reminder that I’m NOT young anymore, but this state of decrepitude is due to deferred maintenance. . There is no leeway for deferred maintenance now. NONE. Maintenance must be Job One. I have had a wake up call, and I’m on it.

Didn’t We Just Do This?

Yeah, but Nicole will not be like Ian. Nicole is many hours of rainy already, but not as extreme, at least so far. 4-6 inches of rain at worst, vs. 18. (YES, 18.) For the places that still haven’t recovered from Ian this will be bad, but not another Ian on top of the original disaster.

I got my hair cut Tuesday night and I did not go super short again. I mean, it’s still quite short, but my stylist and I are both curious about growing it in. I have faith that Nicole will not be a storm disaster and it’s unlikely I’ll need another hardhat day anytime soon, so I’m kind of curious about now my hair will look in a short, layered bob. And while my stylist and I chatted, we realized my last cut was The Day Before Ian, when we both spent days without power and were just cautiously restocking the fridge, and now wtf? I did not schedule another cut just yet. I may be jinxed.

Anyway, I don’t think this will be that much storm drama, at least hereabouts. I’ll check in on the other side.

Really, Nicole?

So, yeah, we are a week into November and about to get hit by a tropical storm/sub-tropical storm (that’s a weather geek thing but makes no difference while it’s happening at your house) or maybe an actual fucking HURRICANE. Really.

So, right when I make a plan to get my ass out to walk daily, our forecast is now wind and rain from Tuesday night until Friday, because OF COURSE. We had plans to hit Epcot Food and Wine on Friday, because my daughter’s county takes Veterans Day as a holiday, and I was going to burn a vacation day, but now we’re rescheduled for Sunday, because Nicole.

Meh, whatever. I bought a couple of nice new camping lanterns after Ian, when I discovered that while I had a ton of batteries on hand, the bulbs in two of my better lanterns had died. I have pet food, people food, potty pads, cat litter, all the things, I’m good.

I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow after work, and not a moment too soon. I had this crazy idea that I’d let my hair grow in “just a bit” to see if maybe I wanted to go for a short layered bob or something, and it isn’t working for me. I’ve always had fine hair but a TON of it, and now I have fine, thin, old lady hair. It’d take a lot of time, styling, and product to achieve even a very short cute layered bob, and yeah, that’s not me.

Then right on cue, Florida reminded me that hair that needs to be styled is not for me, because my life is sweaty. Sweaty plus hats, baseball caps, and now and then a hardhat. We’ll be back to the semi-Jamie Lee Curtis (semi because my hair refuses to do pretty silver) short tomorrow, right as Nicole starts making herself known.

So, my few but loyal readers, please cross your fingers or mutter a prayer or whatever you do to send good juju, because I’m about to drop a couple grand at the end of the month to pay off our February cruise. I’m of course catastrophizing, because that is what I do about absolutely everything. I’m convinced that because we got through Ian unscathed, Nicole is here to take the roof off the “investment” property my daughter rents, and I’ll have to shell out a hurricane deductible and there goes the cruise.

It’s what I do, I was trained to do it from birth, seriously. I was raised as the kid who, if I tried to do a cartwheel, would get told I’d break my neck. I’m aware of it and I mock it, but it’s still a thing I live with. I let go just a bit with my own kids, (I remember screaming at my parents when they tried to scare the shit out of them) but I’m sure it still hovered over me, because my parents still were around to tell me how I was doing parenting wrong.

I think I’ve broken that cycle with my granddaughters. I’m proud that though I was always in terror when The Kid did an aerial at dance, I never let her know. But it’s a deeply ingrained training psychological damage, and I’m 64 and still fighting it.

So, anyway, other than my anxiety having a new place to focus this week, besides the election, my daughter and I spent last night finalizing cruise plans for when I make that whopping final payment at the end of this month.

For those who just wandered into this blog somehow, we are going on a three day cruise on the Disney Wish, and we are irrationally excited about it. It’s me, my daughter, and The Kid, and none of us have ever been on a cruise. I really never thought I’d enjoy one, but as I’m a Disnerd and a former coworker emailed me out of the blue to say she’d just been on the Wish with her family, and on and on, the stars converged and after a perhaps wine influenced conversation with my daughter, we decided that this was our big Christmas present. The Kid will get a suitcase from me, with a picture of the ship inside. (She really needs a suitcase, the busted bag she dragged around this summer was ridiculous.)

So, we have our shore experiences planned: We will be doing an up close meeting with sea lions in Nassau, then snorkling on Castaway Cay. It’s only a 3 day cruise and there’s dining adventures and that awesome tube ride on the ship so we’re thinking two shore adventures plus just hanging out will be plenty. My former coworker fellow Disnerd is going to share some cruise veteran tips with us. We’ve been a bit busy with real work and now another damn storm.

I will tell my anxiety to STFU, about everything.

Hello, You Loyal Few

Who still read this sorry-ass blog. I really do appreciate you, but feel this blog is just drifting lately, like its owner. I have a plan for a Do Better November, though.

Work is work, I don’t like it much, but do like the paycheck.

My anxiety and insomnia have been awful lately, I can’t imagine why.

I’ve been reading a lot, I mean, a LOT, lately – audiobooks, Kindle books, book-books, it’s all reading. It distracts me from fretting about….everything. I’m caught up on all my favorite series, I just finished the 4th in Jodi Taylor’s Time Police and am impatiently waiting for the newest Inspector Gamache to hit my Audible account next month. Then I’ll blow through it in a day or two and be left searching for something new again.

I’m not going to rant about politics for the sake of my blood pressure and the aforementioned anxiety and insomnia, but this is my periodic reminder that Republicans have always had this fascist streak, they’re just loud and proud about it now. But they are NOT “HALF the country” and people need to stop repeating that. They ARE just about 30%, and they can be neutralized if rest of us get off our asses and VOTE.

Oh, and polls are bullshit. Their sample is people dumb enough to answer a call from an unknown number. Get out the vote and ignore the bullshit.

I wrote a couple of hundred Postcards to Voters. I’ve been contributing to campaigns. I voted by mail and received confirmation that my ballot was received and counted. I paid careful attention to every down ballot race, including the ones for soil and water, etc. And of course school board, because that’s where these insidious fascist bastards get a foothold at the local level.

So, back to my Do Better November Plan. I have to get my shit together. I’ve made half-hearted attempts to do better, but for one reason or another I’ve been struggling to commit to anything. I decided to pick just two habit changes to focus on for a month, to get my exercise groove back.

WALK DAILY. There really is no excuse now, the weather is more tolerable (it’ll only be 87 today), the rainy season is wrapping up, and I need to get out and walk again, because for the first time I have to say I’m feeling my age. The ankle I sprained about a year and a half ago still randomly bothers me, and my bad knee (same side as bad ankle, my left) has suddenly been acting up too. Yes, I apparently have reached the age where I can hurt my knee in my sleep. I didn’t do anything to aggravate it, I just woke up with a sore knee.

No great mystery here, it’s simple: I SIT TOO DAMN MUCH. I pretty much live in this home office, in this desk chair, it’s unhealthy and I know it. I don’t want to feel this way. I want to feel strong and be active. So I’m committing to daily walks and I’m doing this:

STRETCHING PROGRAM. Yes, I confess, I clicked on a Facebook ad. I’d heard of this guy before and have listened to his podcast a few times, and my ass was in my chair at my computer as usual, and I clicked and listened and said, “IT ME!” and signed up. 15 minutes a day before bed? I can manage that. That plus walking is all the exercise I have the mental and physical energy for right now. I’m intrigued by the idea of holding long stretches, and my back and hips are tight AF from hours at a desk. My back is hunched, my posture is poor, if I sit on the floor I can’t get up gracefully, I’m an overweight and out of shape mess, and I know it. So I will do this program and walk daily, and see where I am by the end of the month. (No, I’m not getting any compensation for sharing this because I suck at blogging, but I will give honest updates as I follow the program.)

I need to get my healthy habits back, and I am committed to doing these two small things every day, because I’m facing the reality that I ain’t young anymore.

There are other components to Do Better, like tackling the clutter that has built up on every flat surface in this dump, and getting my blogging groove back, and finding my creative mojo and cleaning the oven. But I have to start somewhere.

A Quick Gidget Story.

I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept well since before the hurricane, thanks to one thing and the other. This morning the thing was Gidget. She woke up at around 4:30, scratching and moving around, trying to get my attention. I got her to settle down for a bit, gave up around 5:15. We got up. She was thirsty and had to pee, and after taking her out and coming in again I didn’t see the point of going back to bed. So I’ve been dragging ass all day.

I did summon the energy to do laundry, deep clean the cat box, change the sheets, etc. Then I decided I really did have to vacuum, so I got out the vaccum cleaner.

Gidget, meanwhile, has been snoozing on the couch all day, totally catching up on her beauty sleep.

She hoards treats at times. She’s been known to pack 5 tiny dog biscuits in her mouth like a chipmunk and follow me from living room to office. Today she had four tiny biscuits on the couch with her while she napped.

I got out the vacuum and did the floor and the couch. The treats were gone and I assumed she’d finally gotten around to eating them.

After my chores were finished I reached for the basket that holds the TV remotes.

I’ve had smart dogs in my life. Murphy was practically human, and my beloved Golden Retriever Bailey was TV Hero Dog smart. Sophie wasn’t dumb, but she was more average in her doggy-ness. Gidget’s smarts keep showing themselves in things like this. She didn’t just take the treats off the couch, she put them in the basket where the scary vacuum couldn’t get them.

I also discovered, quite by accident, that she will poop when asked to (if she has to poop). She likes to wander and Sniff All the Things on her evening walks, and I’m fine with that, mostly, until I’m ready to go home and she’s still reading the neighborhood news. So I started asking her: “Don’t you need to go poop?” I was just kidding, trying to hurry her along, but she walked into the grass and…pooped! I assumed it was a funny coincidence, until she repeated this several times. She knows her walk is coming to an end and she needs to take care of business.

If she doesn’t walk into the grass and assume the position I’ll say, “Okay, if you don’t have to poop we’re going home,” and she heads for home. Again, this has happened consistently and isn’t my imagination.

So I guess I’m not surprised that she collected her treats and hid them from the vacuum. She’s so quiet and unassuming, it took a while to realize I have another very smart dog.

I’m Back!

Power went out Wednesday night, 11-ish. I got it back at 4:30 pm Saturday.

This was quite the storm. I’m sure you’ve seen the devastation in the Ft. Myers-Naples area on the news. Ft. Myers Beach, that lovely, wonderful laid back beach town has been pretty much wiped off the map. SW Florida was absolutely decimated, but Ian was a huge storm and the damage continued inland long after landfall. By the time it reached me, hundreds of miles from Ft.Myers, it was either a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane (official opinions vary).

I’ve been through several hurricanes, but as I’ve said, I’m inland. When the coasts evacuate, they come here. And hurricanes usually move faster when they pass through. Ian was Insane – huge, slow-moving, intense and with more rain than you could ever believe. I am not exaggerating that it rained hard for 48 hours, non-stop. It rained most of the day before Ian arrived, and then when the official rain started, it was just endless rain and wind.

The outer bands started very early Wednesday and it didn’t move on until late Thursday. We got over a foot of rain – I’ve heard up to two feet – in less than 48 hours. Places in Orlando that NEVER flooded were underwater. A friend lost her roof. Others had flooding in their homes. I lost power for a little less than three days and was only mildly inconvenienced. I am very grateful.

It didn’t even screw up our plans to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! I was truly afraid it would, either because of the storm or because I’d get called in to work for storm duty, but it all worked out. It was an expensive splurge for the party, and sold out, so it was another thing to fret over during the storm.

But not to worry. I had no power at home, but I spent Friday afternoon and late into the night at Magic Kingdom, where it was like Ian never happened. No pictures because I’m a bad blogger (and also didn’t have great views of the shows, etc, at least not great enough to share). We ate special snacks, (a coconut-matcha “gravedigger” milkshake was wonderful!) We rode rides, saw the parade (the gravedigger guys totally lived up to my expectations, they did a sharply executed march-dance, dragging shovels on the pavement to shoot sparks) and I saw the headless horseman! The Headless Horseman opened the parade, trotting the parade route on a huge black horse, holding his glowing head in his outstretched hand. The lighting for the parade is unusual, ruining the few pictures I did take, apologies. I was there with a half-charged phone, not really set for being all “blogger.” (Edit: I did find a few half decent photos and went back to add them to this post.)

The “Cadaver Dans” sang gorgeous harmony and delivered bad dad jokes.

I can attest that the HH was physical, not spectral, because the big handsome horse he rode very distinctly smelled like horse. The aroma of warm horse lingered after he passed, but it was still a great effect. A CM with a scooper and rolling bin followed at a discreet distance, and the woman on the curb in front of us cracked us all up by cheering for her – “MVP! MVP!” She was trying to be invisible and did not crack a smile.

Lousy picture and I didn’t capture the sparks from the shovels scraping the pavement.
A Country Bear at the Frontier Land treat stop.

The Sanderson Sisters stage show really exceeded my expectations! Great dancing, singing, drama, humor, small explosions, a huge cauldron, lots of villains, including Dr. Facilier, the Shadow Man from the Princess and the Frog. I would have absolutely loved it except by that time (10 pm) my feet were screaming from standing on concrete. If I’d had a chair under my ass I could have watched it forever, but stage shows in the hub are standing room only.

I’d never done this party before and TBH, probably won’t do it again for a while. It was tons of fun and I came home with a 2.5 lb bag of really quality candy from the trick or treating. I have an obscene quantity of mini-Snickers, the CMs load treat bags with huge handfuls at every stop. It’s a Big Bag o’ Pre-Diabetes! I have to figure out what to do with that haul, because if it stays in my house I will eat it. I think I’ll make post-storm goodie bags for a few neighbors.

Working from home is a pain with things like this. I used to just throw a bag of leftover candy in the break room in the office, confident that it would vanish.

Now that I have power again, today’s mission is to restock my fridge, and also hit Target and Michaels for some holiday decor. Friday night definitely put me in the mood.

It’s a relief to sleep normally, with A/C and without my phone alerting about flood warnings every 20 minutes. I haven’t had a normal night’s sleep since…Tuesday? Maybe before that.

Anyway, we were very fortunate and had no storm damage. The only casualty was the contents of my fridge, which TBH, was overdue for a good clean-out. And that, honestly, was a good thing. More about that to come.

Ian Update

It’s after 7:30 PM on Wednesday, and I still have power and internet! Wheee!

I just jinxed myself, I’m sure. Ian isn’t here yet, he’s crawling his lazy destructive ass up through the state and we are just getting the outer bands at this point. Even the outer bands have been loud and very, very rainy. It will of course get really bad when I should be sleeping, local forecast is that the strongest winds will hit at 1 am, because of course they will.

I’m running the AC at 72, which is much cooler than usual, to preserve what cool air I can after we do lose power. I have flashlights/small but very bright lanterns stationed in useful places. I have charged all of my devices and the small portable chargers I carry to Disney, I have enough boring survival food (tuna, crackers, apples, cheese) to get through the next day or so, and this is supposed to move through by Friday.

My phone just alerted that Ian has weakened to a Category 3. Oh, how lovely. I’ve never done more than a Cat 1 here, and believe me, that was plenty of scary and uncomfortable, so let’s hope that over the next five or so hours it continues to weaken before it visits Chez Bossydog.

I’m sick about the images from Fort Myers Beach, with 6+ feet of storm surge churning down Estero Blvd. Cleanup is going to be massive throughout the state, but you don’t have to worry too much about me, the most I should suffer should be being sleepless and miserable. I won’t lie; it’s very loud and very scary, but I live where the coasts evacuate TO, we are the safe place.

Gidget is fine so far, but very confused by Mommy’s declaration of Storm Amnesty. Even these outer bands are too strong to try to walk her outside, so we have potty pads. She uses them for pee but apparently feels it’s gross to poop on them too, so she poops BESIDE them (on the easy to clean floor). We have discussed this many times, but I continue to be wrong . She doesn’t like pooping on the floor and will only do it under duress and if she can sneak off and not be noticed, so I’m listening to the wind and rain and ignoring the dainty warning farts from the office dog bed. Eventually she will “sneak” off and poop beside the potty pad. We do what we must in these conditions.

I’ll probably go dark in the night, I’ll be back when civilization returns – 48 hours, a week, WTF knows?