I paused in the sun
Lifted my face to the sky
Offered a prayer
For this day and those to come
Protect those I love
Comfort those in need
Cushion every wounding word
Heal winter’s hurts
I paused in the sun
Lifted my face to the sky
Offered a prayer
For this day and those to come
Protect those I love
Comfort those in need
Cushion every wounding word
Heal winter’s hurts
Studly Doright is playing in a golf tournament today while I’m home taking care of the cats and doing laundry. Any thoughts I had of getting out and running around town for a bit were dashed by the weather.
It’s “Florida cold” outside, not to be confused with “Michigan cold” or “Wisconsin cold” but trust me, when you’re accustomed to 70° weather with sunshine, a cloudy 40° day is a real bummer, and our night time temps are going to dip below freezing this week. Brrr.
My daughter in Illinois has no sympathy, though, and I can’t blame her for that. Their weather forecast makes me want to cry for them. If they cry for themselves, their tears will freeze on their rosy cheeks.
Studly Doright and I are no strangers to bitterly cold weather. We did our time in the cold white north, four years in North Dakota and another eight in Illinois were plenty for me. Perhaps our little cold snap here in the Florida panhandle is just a reminder to count my blessings. Or maybe it’s just cruel and unusual punishment for some unknown offense. Whatever it is, may it be gone soon. I’m also wishing warmer weather for all those impacted by Winter Storm Harper.
Here’s our own force of nature, also named Harper.
peace and warmth, people.
Studly Doright and I live in the Florida panhandle where it seldom snows, and when it does we receive only a light dusting that disappears almost as soon as it hits the ground. We haven’t always lived here, though. For three years we lived in North Dakota, a place that sees more than its fair share of snow starting in October. And once the snow falls it’s there until early spring. So, while I love the thought of snow, I never want to live in a place that gets more than a few centimeters in a decade. I’m quite happy enjoying snow from afar.
Lately my Facebook feed has been inundated with snowman and woman humor. I figured that’s a good way to appreciate snow, right? All the cuteness without the cold.
Here are some of my favorites. Some of them really resonate.
Okay. I’ve had my fill of snow for the year. No fuss, no muss, and no shoveling.
This is what I awakened to this morning:
Maybe I needed a reminder that I wasn’t snuggled into my bed in Doright Manor near Quincy, FL, on this Friday morning. Or maybe it was time for my “Driving on Snowy Roads” refresher course.
Brrrrr! And peace, people.
I might’ve used this title before. If so, my apologies. Surely no one is keeping tabs, least of all me. It just seems that my life is divided into two unequal parts: 4/5 a yawn worthy routine and 1/5 “holy cow I’ve got back to back events, and I’d better freak out a little.”
Freaking out is my go to mode when the routine is broken up, and since I’ve had the same reaction for as much of my life as I can remember I recognize it for what it is and just roll with the feelings. Sometimes I can even use them to help me focus on the task at hand.
Studly Doright and I broke up our normal routine and spent Friday night in Orlando, FL, so I’d packed an overnight bag with just the essentials. Of course in freak out mode the essentials ended up being the entire contents of my cosmetics drawer and enough outfits to have stayed for a week instead of just one night.
Saturday was used to recover from a Friday night spent at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, and once we were back home I slept much of the day. Getting scared silly multiple times for five straight hours is exhausting. Part of me knew there was something I was supposed to be freaking out about, but I was too tired to care.
So on Sunday morning, I’m back to full on freak out. I’m flying from Tallahassee to our daughter’s home in Illinois on Tuesday to stay for a week, hoping to help out around the house after she undergoes surgery. I say “hoping” because sometimes I’m more of an annoyance in those situations than I am a help. I have given myself pep talks, and made promises to myself not to be a nuisance or a hoverer. Hovering is my unwanted super power.
At least my bag is still partially packed from the trip to Orlando, but if I needed seven tops for an overnight trip I’m going to need at least 49 for a seven day trip, right? And at least 40 of those need to be sweaters because it’s way colder at her house than it is in Florida this time of year. And boots. I’ll need boots and socks. No flip flops! Maybe just one pair, you know, just in case the temps warm up, and a coat. Will I wear the coat on the plane or should I try to pack it in my carry on with the 40 sweaters? Everything has to go in the carry on. I’m not checking a bag! That’s an extra $60 both ways. Well, maybe I should just pay the extra, but wait, what if my luggage gets lost and I have to go buy all new clothes while I’m there? Better to cram as much as I can in my carry on. Or not. Argh!
See? Freak out mode. BUT, I get to see my daughter and my Illinois grandkids in a few days! Totally worth the freak out. Right?
Now, where is that other pair of jeans? No, not those, the dark blue ones.
Studly Doright and I left Doright Manor early Friday morning to enjoy a night at Universal Studios in Orlando. But, after months of waiting for our Halloween Horror Nights adventure it appeared that we might have to contend with a few little inconveniences such as thunderstorms and tornadoes.
The skies in Tallahassee were a dreary gray, and we hadn’t driven five miles before the clouds opened up and made driving hazardous. I’d been checking my Weather Channel app for the past week, and thought that our weather would clear up as we turned south. Nope. If anything it had gotten worse.
Surprisingly the drive down went smoothly. Most drivers on the busy interstate were mindful of the rain slicked roads, and we made it to our hotel way before check in time. When we’d booked this trip I told Studly I wanted to stay on property at Universal, so we could stay out a little later, take a shuttle bus back to our hotel, and not have to worry about driving to an off property hotel in case we’d indulged in a drink or two. Or in my case, three.
I picked the newest Universal hotel, the Aventura. Picture a scene from the Jetsons and you’ll have a good idea of the Aventura’s accoutrements.
The following are their websites’s photos, but our room looked exactly like the one pictured below. Studly wanted to know why the woman pictured wasn’t part of the deal:
All afternoon we watched the storms fume around us. At least twice we received warnings on our phones to take immediate shelter. And there we were in a huge building of chrome and glass, sitting ducks for a tornado. When we left to take the shuttle to the theme park, the palm trees were swaying deliriously and rain was blowing sideways. It was not an auspicious start to the evening.
We had plans to meet a couple I hadn’t seen in years for dinner at Cowfish in the City Walk section of Universal, so we dashed through the rain, taking shelter under any canopies we could find. I’d brought along my rain coat and Studly had on a hooded sweatshirt, so neither of us was terribly drenched when we reached the restaurant.
Dinner was terrific, and we enjoyed playing catch up with Paul and Amy over good wine and burgers. That, however, was not the night’s focus, and soon we were ready to explore as many of the ten haunted houses as we could jam into seven hours. Now if only the weather would cooperate.
Miracle of miracles, the rain tapered off, and I never needed my rain jacket after dinner. There were some sprinkles every now and then, but the night was about as pleasant as anyone could ask for. I’ll shut up now and share a few photos that I took with my trusty iPhone. We only made it to seven of the houses, but I screamed myself hoarse after the third one. And today, oh, do my knees and hips hurt! I’d go again tonight, though, given the chance. Studly, not so much.
Below, Paul, Amy, me, and Studly:
During HHN, Mel’s Drive-In from American Graffiti becomes Mel’s Die-In.
Around every corner there’s something to frighten or delight the unwary visitor.
Before we left the park we stopped for a snack at Voodoo Donuts. I was tempted to buy the t-shirt, but really, does a woman my age really need a shirt that says, “VOODOO DONUTS, The Magic is in the Hole?” I don’t think so. Still, I was tempted.
Above and below are photos of the donut carousel. It’s a rotating 3-D menu of sorts that had me jonesing for a sweet when I had no idea I really even wanted one. Clever.
Now to recover!
Yesterday was interesting. I’d had a good night’s sleep, albeit with a somewhat frustrating dream, detailed here https://nananoyz5forme.com/2018/10/29/library-dream/ to top it off.
Studly Doright called from work mid-morning to tell me he was going to Panama City after noon to look at a motorcycle, and that he’d need me to accompany him in case he decided to buy the bike. I happened to be at the mall when he called, so I finished shopping and hurried back to Doright Manor, where I waited, and waited, and waited. In retrospect, I guess I should have had him clarify what he’d meant by “after noon.” Unbeknownst to me Studly had a dental appointment to attend to before he could get away for the day.
When he was finally on his way home Studly called telling me to be ready, that he’d just run in and grab his riding gear to put in the back of my car. I’d already filled the car with gas, so we could head to Panama City without that worry. His goal was to look the bike over, pay the seller if he liked the bike, and get on the road in a timely fashion in order to avoid riding too far in darkness. My goal was to leave him with the bike and drive home, keeping my phone near in case I needed to double back to offer aid.
I know, to non-motorcyclists that sounds odd, but a car following a motorcycle at night can be a dangerous annoyance. I never want to be that, and Studly certainly doesn’t want me driving behind him. The system has worked for us for many years. He’s only needed me to come back for him once, and that was a long time ago in a galaxy far away.
On our separate ways home I took the interstate while he traveled backroads. The new bike didn’t have a windshield, and he didn’t want to drive in 70 mph traffic without that protection. I stopped at a McDonalds for a sandwich, and somehow Studly arrived home minutes before I did.
He looked a little sheepish when I came through the door. “What happened?” I asked.
“I think I might’ve left my phone in my back pocket….”
“And it might be somewhere between here and Panama City?”
We went out to check the interior of my car, and found the phone stashed in the storage area of my car next to the shoes he’d exchanged for riding boots. So much for our plans of staying in touch. Thank goodness he didn’t need to call me.
I was too lazy to walk the 75 yards to his shop this morning to take a photo of the new bike, but this one is almost identical. It’s his first Harley, something I never even knew he wanted.
Remember the film, Steel Magnolias, and how life for a group of women in a small southern town revolved around the goings on in a beauty parlor? If you’ve never seen the movie or the play, I highly recommend it. Or you could just come visit me and I’ll take you to the salon I patronize in Blountstown, Florida. You’d get the gist of the movie pretty quickly. I love this salon and the women who work there.
Blountstown took a big hit from Hurricane Michael, and I wasn’t sure G, the owner, would be open for business yet. I called the salon on Tuesday and one of the stylists assured me they were operating as usual. I drove the 40-something miles down Florida’s backroads noting how much more damage was evident the further south and west I got from Tallahassee. Way more trees were down and many more roofs were damaged. Several buildings were completely gone with only foundations remaining.
The salon was hopping when I arrived and I waited as G finished blow drying a customer’s hair. G is something of an artist and I love to watch her work. Of course most of the talk centered on what folks had experienced during the storms. One of the stylists, B, lost her home in the hurricane, while another, R, had very little damage to hers. G’s came through the storm fine, but there were some near misses at the salon.
All three of the ladies came back to work at the salon as soon as they could after Michael, shampooing hair for free for those who had no electricity at their homes. Now, that’s pure southern comfort.
When it was my turn in the chair we talked about the new version of “A Star is Born.” None of them had seen it, so I gave them my take on the movie. Actually we discussed Bradley Cooper and which of us were meant to be with him. I’m pretty sure I won that argument simply because I’m writing this post, and I get to be the heroine of my own story.
B said she’d prefer country singer Chris Stapleton anyway, because in her words, “He looks like he’d smell like diesel and dirt.” That should be the title of a country song, right?
Talk came back around to the storm and a day when the ladies were doing their free shampoos. R said, “There was a woman in here who said things had gotten so bad at her house during the hurricane that she’d sat in a corner with her Bible and her beads.”
B said, “And when my client heard that she whispered, ‘Does she mean anal beads?'”
I guffawed. B continued, “We don’t get a lot of Catholics ’round here!” Obviously not.
After G worked her magic, I paid, leaving feeling lighter than I had in days. And not just because of my haircut.
You know how Facebook reads your posts and all of a sudden your feed is magically filled with content that is in some way related? I’m hoping you do, because if it’s just me that happens to that might creep me out.
Anyway, after I returned to Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida from Texas I posted on FB that I was looking for opportunities to volunteer in some way. Voila! Within mere minutes a post seeking volunteers for storm relief miraculously popped up. The group, Operation BBQ Relief, made it easy to sign up.
As soon as I’d answered a few simple questions their website told me I’d be contacted with a place and time to volunteer. I kept checking my email and text messages all Monday evening, but hadn’t heard anything by the time Studly Doright and I went to bed last night.
First thing on Tuesday morning, though, I saw that during the night I’d received three emails. The first one told me I’d been “deployed” to help on Monday morning the 15th. Hmm. That boat had sailed. I figured better late than never, though, and hurriedly dressed to drive into Tallahassee. The second email just told me what to wear and where to go, and the third told me I’d been okayed to help. I might’ve read them out of order, but I figured everything out.
When I arrived at the staging site around 7:30 a.m., things were already hopping. I signed in, got a hat and a name tag and tried to find my niche. I hadn’t been there long when a man with an official looking t-shirt on tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew of a laundromat in the area that would pick up and drop off clothes. I’d just been to the closest one a couple of days ago and knew they weren’t doing that at this time. One would think this would be THE time for such services, but what do I know? I volunteered to take the items and launder them. Soon, I had a large trash bag full of gloves, dish cloths, and aprons. I was cool with being the laundress. Once everything had finished drying I hurried back to see what other tasks were in store.
Basically, OBR prepares, cooks, and packages foods to be picked up by groups like the Salvation Army and local churches. These groups deliver to places without electricity and water. One of the team leaders told me that even yesterday they spoke with local folks who hadn’t had a meal since the hurricane hit last Wednesday.
I found myself packaging and labeling items such as red beans and rice, peas and carrots, and bbq beans. The meats were handled by a separate crew–those with food handling certification. As volunteers packed items, trailers pulled up to be loaded. Everything was well organized and efficient with permanent team members directing volunteers of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities. What an experience!
At lunch time, they fed us an amazing lunch. The country group, The Zac Brown Band donated the services of their huge kitchen trailer and a cook to feed volunteers. I got a quick tour of the trailer. It’s like a chef’s dream.
After working until two p.m. on Tuesday everything on my 62-year-old body hurts, but if I am able to walk on Wednesday morning I’ll go back to work again. It felt good to know we were there to help. Here are a few photos I took during some downtime.
One of the volunteers wrote little love notes on the box lids:
Pallets stacked with water bottles:
Hurricane Michael wasn’t my first experience with a major storm. In the autumn of 2004, four hurricanes, beginning with Charley, and followed by Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, impacted one part of Florida or another. I was teaching 5th graders at Croton Elementary in Melbourne that year, and it seemed that through much of August and September my students and I were either prepping for a storm or cleaning up after one.
Prepping at school meant wrapping all of our electronics, computers, monitors, and books in heavy duty garbage bags, securing the openings with duct tape, and placing them as high as possible in the classroom. Then after the storms passed we had to take everything down, remove the tape, and put things back where they belonged. Networked computers had to be put back on line, and books matched with students.
The school was fortunate, and we never had any significant damage, but every time a storm’s predicted path indicated Melbourne might be hit, the drill to prepare was carried out to a “t.”
Since some of this prep and de-prep had to take place during the school day, we made learning games out of the process. I taught math and science, so my students measured the equipment to be stored during the storm and estimated the minimum amount of bags and tape we’d need to do the job. They measured shelves and cabinets to see where the equipment could be stored best. They learned to code tags for computer equipment in order to get everything running smoothly again as quickly as possible. We did job efficiency studies afterwards to see where we expended unnecessary energy and what we should do differently if there was a next time.
We didn’t realize when we prepped for Charley that we’d be doing it again for three more storms, but the students made charts and checklists just in case, so we’d be ready to go into action if another storm hit. By Hurricane Jeanne, we were operating like a well-oiled, if slightly weary, machine.
The team prep work seemed to take some of the anxiety out of waiting for storms to hit, and the games helped minimize the learning time lost to the storms. And when we came back together after the various storms had passed, students were engaged in problem solving and trouble shooting, instead of worrying about the lack of electricity at home, at least for a portion of the day.
That was a tough year for all of us, but I have only good memories of working with that group of children. Studly and I moved to Illinois at the end of the school year, and I’ve lost touch with those students, but I hope the ones who stayed in hurricane country remember those days of prepping for the storms as good ones.