Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

Tuesday, the last day of September, 2014:

I've been doing a lot of reading, along with all the fun I've been having with my new friends in Redding, as well as my family.  Last week I drove down to Kari's house in El Dorado Hills and spent four days having lots of fun with Kari and David and the triplets: Spencer, Tate, and Avery.  You'll recall that they have started their first year of high school - and boy, are they busy - school work, football games, dances, sports, the list goes on.  With them in high school it's fun to 'compare notes,' sharing with them (when they have the time to be in a conversation with Mimi) some of my memories of freshman year.  For some unknown reason Kari was more available than usual, what with her jobs as wife, mom, athlete, athletic coach, and business owner, so we did quite a bit of retail therapy for ourselves and others.

Back to the reading notation above . . . I came across a book by a woman named Donna Markova, "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life:  Reclaiming Purpose and Passion."  I'd like to copy the poem she wrote the day her father died.  [Her father had believed that his life 'didn't matter' and he literally slipped into death, she thinks, without having really experienced the purpose and passion in his life].

Living Wide Open:  Landscapes of the Mind

I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the net as blossom, 
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Donna Markova
Copyright 2000

I'm so enjoying my time in Redding with relatives and new friends, healthy living with lots of exercise (with my new knee), coffee klatches, lunches out, reading, playing with my pets, and readying myself for the next big travel adventure beginning in November.  This poem just resonated with me at this particular time in my life.  It's curious that many people I talk with about previous and upcoming travel adventures seem to be impressed with my "lack of fear."  I wasn't always so independent with my solo travel plans; but, I learned a long time ago that if I really want to do something, I have to make it happen.  One of my greatest joys of living this retired and mobile lifestyle is that I can, and must, be a go-getter for the things I want to have or to do.

I am happier than I've ever been.  How can that be?  I'm retired and living on a fixed income.  I'm alone; well, except for Lacy and Eleanor.  I wake up every single morning with the light bulb coming on saying, "I'm retired.  I have innumerable choices of how I want to live this day."  I have a Bucket List, as so many others.  I suspect that I'll never be able to check off all the items on that list; but I'm going to die trying to get to them all.

What are some of your Bucket List items?

And, I'm off . . .

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Looking Forward To - And Excited Very Excited About . . .

I'm excited to share my Fall through Winter travel and adventure plans.

My daughter, Kari, and I will leave Oakland to fly to Cozumel, Mexico on Saturday, November 22nd, where we will get the rental house ready for other family members who will be flying in the following day.  The reason for this family jaunt is that Kari and her older brother, Jeff, will be competing in the Cozumel Ironman on Sunday, November 30th.  I've shared some stories about both Jeff and Kari and their fetes of considerable athletic competition.  This Ironman will be the 4th for each of them, but will be the first they'll do together as a brother - sister team. 
Ironman Cozumel Logo
The entire Ironman event will take place in the waters off the island and on the island itself

A water paradise - we'll surely do some snorkeling
We've rented a large house with enough bathrooms, forks, spoons, chairs, and floor to room and board at least 10:  Jeff, Alice and their twin girls, Malia and Samantha; and, Kari, David and their triplets, Spencer, Tate and Avery; and, me, I'm Mimi.  Jeff and Kari's dad and his wife may be in Cozumel for the race and visits to the house and their brother, Spencer, may be able to fly in from the Dominican Republic, his current domicile.  Many of you are familiar with blog posts about his long international-traveling lifestyle.  So, when the time actually arrives, there may be 11 members of the family in that one house, and a couple in hotels.

The week before the race we're hoping to take in some of the sites and attractions; although, the main event will dictate how much galavanting we all do.  Jeff and Kari will be saving their enthusiasm and energy for the big day; I'll be the chief chef; David and Alice will be chief kid-managers; and you can bet the five cousins will be into having a ball the entire time.  It should be quite a party!

I'm thrilled to see my children wanting to take on this a wonderful experience and fabulous memory-maker, together.  Not only is it an incredible accomplishment for them, but it sends such an important message to those five young people [twins and triplets] who are all Freshmen in high school this year.  Both Jeff and Kari are avid about their dedication to health and the sport of triathlon; they set the bar high for their kids, who all seem to be interested in sports and fitness.  For those who aren't too familiar, the Ironman competition consists of a 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and finally a marathon run of 26.2 miles - in one day!  They are NOT competing with one another, but are planning to be a support for each other; is all goes well, they'll cross the finish line hand-in-hand.  Jeff is the elder, who, on race day, will be 53 years, 7 months, and 14 days old.  Kari will be 52 years, 7 months, and 5 days of age - pretty impressive to be an Ironman at any age, but I'm a very proud mama of these two.

I'll post more about Kari and Jeff in future posts.  This post is meant to share my upcoming travel plans . . .

On December 1st, the day after the race, I'll board a flight from Cozumel to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I'll meet up with a friend and the two of us will hop on a Celebrity cruise ship December 4th for a 16-day cruise through the Caribbean, traversing the Panama Canal from East to West, and then South to Valparaiso, Chile.  There will be lots of stops for interesting visits to fascinating locales all along the way.  We'll arrive in Chile on December 20th, just in time to take part in yet another country's Christmas and holiday season. As you know, I'm a people person.  I love to study cultures and learn as much as I can about how others live, love, laugh and enjoy life on this planet.  
Departing from:  Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sailing to:  Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Panama Canal, Panama; Manta, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; Arica, Chile; Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile skyline
More Latin American music, dancing and fun

Can't wait to see the colors, taste the food, meet the people
I currently have reservations and tickets for the adventure up to this point - Valparaiso.  From here on my timing and plans will blossom as they may.  My travel partner is planning to remain in South America for the entire Winter (that is, Winter in the US); of course it'll be Summer in the southern hemisphere.  My reading and web-surfing research indicates that Valparaiso will have a climate commensurate with San Francisco's Summer; so I'm feeling pretty comfortable with what to expect weather-wise.  I visited Santiago, Chile in 2003, but didn't make it to the coast on that trip and am looking forward to new horizons.  Where else I go in Chile - or other South American locales, I know not at this time.  Any recommendations form old-hand Chilean and South American visitors are welcome.

Sometime after the first of the new year I'll jump on another flight and head to Guatemala for a long-awaited visit to my cousin, Linda, who lives there, and all the wonderful friends I made while I was living there in 2011 and 2012.  I can't wait to see my Spanish teachers and their families,  my knitting / crocheting students, both adults and children, and all the wonderful kids and adults in the various foundations I grew to love.  And, I have three very important, to me, young people who are continuing to work / study very diligently to possibly be able to head to the United States for further education, after which they'll return to their Guatemalan homes and families with skills to really make a difference in their communities and families' lives.  I'm very excited to see them again:  Isai, Shirli and Hazel - be ready for me!  
Oh, how I love this country, the land of the eternal Spring,  the home of the Maya and volcanoes

Cobblestone streets, flowers, colors, lovely people
I'm tentatively planning to stay in Guatemala for about a month; but, who knows?  The first time I went with the plan to stay for 3 weeks - and stayed for a year and a half!  Seriously, though, I am planning to return to California, Floribunda, Lacy and Eleanor sometime in February.

So, that's the plan for Winter this year.  I'm already giving thought to next Spring, too.  More about that as it materializes . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hello from Redding

Hi Everybody,

It's been a long break since I last posted; believe me, I've been thinking about all my virtual friends out there.  From the blogs I follow, I know there's a lot going on all over the place.  We, here in California, have returned to one of our hated and frightening "draught years."  I think almost every part of the state has been affected by forest fires.  I was talking to my daughter on the phone the other night and I could hear the in the background, "There's smoke coming in the house!"  They're in El Dorado Hills just off of I-50 about an hour and a half from South Shore Tahoe. 
 King Fire Arsonist Arrested

Here in Redding, I've moved my RV into a lovely RV Park, Green Acres, that I didn't even know existed until a couple of weeks ago.  I've not headed back out onto the open road because I've made some exciting travel plans for this Fall and Winter - without Floribunda and Petunia.  More about that in a future post.

I've been thinking about perhaps changing the focus of my blog during this time when I'm not out exploring this beautiful Country.  My original intention, when I began posting a couple of years ago, was to blog for my grandchildren about the adventures and experiences of their Mimi.  Well, suffice it to say, I'm not sure any of the eight looked at the blog more than once or twice.  The two older girls, Quinn and Addison, did sporadically - but they're so busy with their own lives, careers, fiancees, etc. that they don't have time or inclination to read Mimi's blog.  So, I've a bee in my bonnet to perhaps weave into the blog some short stories that have been whirling around in my head for years - mostly autobiographical tales - with the ulterior motive to have them down for posterity; so that my grandkids can read my tales, maybe when they're grandparents!  

I haven't been just vegetating while here; I'm very actively pursuing the healthy and active lifestyle I wanted when I retired and moved into Floribunda.  But, first I had to get the knee surgery over and recovered from - in order to be capable of enjoying all the adventures available.  I moved Florabunda and my family (Lacy and Eleanor) to my son's home in Cottonwood (about 25 miles south of Redding) and stayed there for about a month.  Then, my sister-in-law, Barbara, in Redding, asked me to care for her house and cat while they headed to the Coast in their RV for about 6 weeks.  So, I stayed in their house, but missed Floribunda, so moved her up into the RV hookup they have in their side yard.  After they returned, I moved to this lovely Green Acres RV park, only about a mile from them.  It's a real find:  beautiful and level cement pad and patio at each site, each is surrounded by green grass (a rarity in this parched environment) and shade trees.  I paid for a month and have decided to stay at least another, maybe more.  I'll take some pix to do some advertising for them; however, I don't want too, too many people to discover it, for obvious reasons.  There are about 25 sites, all full hookups, free cable TV and the best WiFi I've had in any park so far.  It's a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Redding and convenient to so many wonderful attractions:  Mt. Shasta, Lake Shasta, Whiskeytown Lake National Recreation Area (free with Senior Pass), Mt. Lassen National Park, Trinity Alps - the list goes on.

Before my sis-in-law left on vacation, she took me to the Shasta Family YMCA in Redding and introduced me to her gym buddies.  I've made such wonderful friends and have looked forward to getting to the gym almost every single day.  My knee recovery has been a dream I'm happy to report; there is absolutely no pain and I'm really getting back into shape after a long, long absence from exercise and physical activity in my life.  Those of my followers I've met personally over the last few years know that I was pretty incapacitated.  The doc says I may have to have the other knee done, someday.  I guarantee I'll not put it off, as I did with this knee.  I have been very conscientious about the recovery and I think I deserve, and am having, a positive experience for the whole thing.

I ride the exercise bike up to an hour a day and walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill, too.  I've started adding some weight training to try to get some of the muscle mass back that I lost with all that pain and inactivity.  I also swim a few times a week (indoor and outdoor pools at the Y) and have made the BEST friends.  

Every single day, as I awake, I'm thankful for being retired, having my health and my wonderful family - I'm loving life.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello From Redding, California

Welcome to Redding, CA - a big little city
right off I-5 in Northern California

Redding City Hall

Need I apologize for not posting?  If so, here it is - I'm sorry I've kind of gotten myself wrapped up with family and friends and haven't been keeping up on writing / reading posts.  I hope all my readers are well and happy this summer of 2014.

A sunrise shot taken earlier this year by a 
Redding resident - notice the Spring green and 
flowers - it's golden brown now!

Because of recovery from my knew surgery - it's 3 months ago this week - and family commitments and fun, I've not been spending much time on my computer for any reason at all.  I'd given myself lots of recovery time, which, thank you Lord, I haven't needed.  After having done lots of total knees during my many years working in the operating room, I thought I knew all there was to know.  Not!!!  Yes, I knew about the surgical procedure, but really very little about the recovery.  So, when I met with the surgeon and physical therapists before surgery I took  their advice and didn't plan anything for this [about] six-month post op period.  Well, what I've found is that this total knee surgery has been a piece of cake!  I cannot believe how easy (and pain-free to boot) this experience has been.  

Currently I'm in Redding house-sitting for my sister-in-law, Barb, and her partner, who are out on their first RV trip in their new (to them) RV.  It's a Class C, but a few feet longer than their previous rig.  They went from here to Santa Cruz for over a week; now they're in the Monterey area.  They asked if I'd stay in the house, so I left my RV at my son's house and am living in their stix and stone house with Lacy, Eleanor and their kitty, Mr. Tibbs.  

Floribunda parked at Jeff's house in Cottonwood, CA (about
25 miles south of Redding)
I started walking for exercise about a month ago and have not had a twinge of discomfort.  Since I'm going to be here for at least a few more weeks, I joined the Shasta Family YMCA and have made it there almost every single day for walking on the treadmill, riding a bike,rowing a little and swimming in one of their two pools - one is indoors and is great for summer in this heat!  As I've often repeated, I'd had such a bad time with my bum knee I'd completely stopped exercising for most of the past three years; and, once I started again, I am just loving it.  Barb made sure I met some of her exercise buddies, so we have coffee almost everyday after getting our aerobic work done for the day.  It's been lots of fun to meet new and interesting people and to get back on the path of some kind of healthy shape at the same time.

Barb and Fred have a great Sony flat screen TV I thought I'd really love after not having watched TV for more than a few minutes since I retired and started traveling three years ago.  Well, I've surfed through channels at several different times of the day and have decided that reading, cooking, exercising - even doing chores in the house - are all more beneficial than spending time watching TV.  Maybe it's just me but it seems like there are hunions of channels with no more selection than I had when there were three - ABC, NBC and CBS!  The bottom line is I'm not going to bother getting my solar up and running in Floribunda - unless I come across several programs I just can't live without, and that doesn't seem likely.  I did watch some of the  'Futból' World Cup from Brazil; I have to say it's nice to see that the US is catching up with the most popular sport in the World.  When I lived in Antigua, Guatemala it was impressive to see literally hundreds of people crowding the streets and sidewalks outside the local Sports Bar to watch futból.  Only the fans right outside the door (lots of folks can't afford to go into the bar) could see any action, but the play-by-play news rallied through the crowd - and everybody was happy to be a part of the excitement.

As the heat and dry conditions continue in this part of the country, we are, of course, having a rash of forest fires.  In this area the Bully fire (in Igo-Ono) was ignited on July 11th by a marajuana grower who was driving a pickup truck load of supplies to his remote growing patch and started large grass fire.  At this time it's about 95% contained - having had tons of equipment and over 2200 firefighters working constantly for 12 days now.  My nephew and his family live in Igo, fortunately not too close to the fire area, but the smoke-laden skies, high winds and thunder and lightening strikes have certainly worried them.  It's bad enough when weather and natural disasters start forest fires; but, when it's human error / carelessness it's even worse.  Many of my blog-writing and reading friends are so concerned with the natural wonders of our homeland.  

Let's all be extra careful this year - and always! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wednesday . . . Late Posting

I published this post on Wednesday, but didn't check until today - it didn't publish.  Sorry for the delay . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I’m getting settled here in Cottonwood and am discussing the possibility of using this as my [kind of] home base.  I have to keep the address of my house in Roseville to maintain my Kaiser membership for healthcare; Cottonwood is located too far from the closest Kaiser facility to qualify as a permanent residence.  I'm currently researching the plausibility of some upgrades to Jeff's property for RV use.  I'll update readers as I progress trough the process.  The Roseville house has renters who love it and want to stay for the foreseeable future; which makes my mobility much easier.  I don’t have any set plans for when or where I’ll venture next, but I certainly want the option to be able to pull the plugs and head out whenever I feel the urge.  A couple of thoughts are Pacific Northwest this Fall and Southwest next Winter - suggestions welcomed!

As I continually mention in this blog, summer in the Central Valley of California is HOT.  This first week at Jeff’s has been balmy by our standards, only in the mid- to upper-80s.  Today begins the rise with 94F expected – and hotter tomorrow.  Last evening my nephew, Gregg, electrician extraordinaire, came over and installed a 30-AMP outlet for me to plug into, making the use of the AC in Floribunda much easier.  As all fellow RVers are aware, these “metal boxes” can turn ambient 90F into over 100F inside!  The installation was easy, with knowledge and proper tools for the job; he did it in about 30 minutes.  However, my 30-AMP extension cord is not long enough, and I can’t find one here or in Redding; so, no luck for today.

I took this shot with my iPhone, while driving from Cottonwood to Redding yesterday.  It's a warning of what's to come . . . dry, hot, dangerous summer!

I’ll be driving south to the Sacramento area today for doctor and physical therapy appointments tomorrow morning; I’ll hopefully be able to find an extension cord at Home Depot or somewhere and get it back up here to have AC in Floribunda tomorrow afternoon.  I’m leaving Eleanor, kitty, in the rig, and will ask Malia and Samantha to check on her, from time to time, making sure she isn’t passing out from the heat later today.  I’ll take Lacy with me and we’ll stay at Bob and Judy’s tonight, where she can play with their four Chihuahuas and kitty.  It’s going to be just as hot there but I can park in the garage at Kaiser and leave Lacy there while I’m at my appointments.

Time to get moving so I won't be in the dreaded Sacramento commute later this afternoon.  I kid you not, I've been there, done that.  One of the greatest, if not the greatest, joys of retirement is the ability to avoid commute nightmares.

Have a great Wednesday!  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Floribunda back in Operation . . .

I've been 8th Grade Graduation inundated.  Not too many grandmothers or grandfathers have 5 grand kids graduating from 8th grade in the same year!  And, it's not only the graduation ceremonies, but also Honor's Awards ceremonies and parties and . . .

I moved back into my RV on May 31st, about 5+ weeks after my knee surgery.  I can hardly believe how easy this recovery has been.  Other than a little soreness after exercise and some UGH during the flexibility exercises I've been doing 2-3 times a day, recovery has essentially been pain-free!  It's now 7+ weeks and at a recent physical therapy appointment the therapist announced that I've reached the flexibility goals for recovery.  Now, that doesn't mean I don't have more recovery to do.  Oh, no.  It's a major accomplishment because the flexibility component of recovery has some time limits for success.  She said I can still keep up with my exercises; but, I can also start on the road of recovering strength.  I feel sort of like I'm at a good and healthy weight for myself - but there's just so much FLAB from muscle atrophy and disuse syndrome!  Strength can be increased as I go along; there's no time limit (within age and ability limitations!) to get back into at least hiking, biking, walking, swimming, etc. shape.

Earlier this week I battened the hatches in Floribunda and hitched Petunia up behind and headed out of Judy and Bob's ranch / private RV park(!) about 175 north to my son's in Cottonwood; Jeff and Alice are the proud parents of my twin granddaughters, Malia and Samantha - the last two to graduate - yesterday.  Hooray or ???  I now have five grand kids who are all Freshmen i high school; is that a positive or a negative?  We'll see!  Actually,  I'm very proud of all of them - several honor students, great athletes, and good, healthy, friendly, caring and fun kids.

There's been so much going on all at the same time.  Samantha and I continue our respective quests to get right leg health back.  Sadly, Alice's 92- year old mom passed away; of course, it wasn't unexpected, but that's not to say it isn't a trying time for Alice and her siblings.  The Filipino traditions were in full force and boy, there are a lot of people who thought Soledad was a wonderful person.  She will be missed and is still loved dearly.

Bob and Judy were out driving around a few weeks ago and found a 2-acre ranch with "everything we want" to downsize and also get a newer house with a pool.  They made an offer and were accepted almost on the spot!  Then they put their place the I've taken so many photos of, on the market and it sold for fifty thousand dollars over the asking price in about ten days!  So, for me, I'll lose my wonderfully generous RV site in Loomis; however, they've shared that "there's one ready" for me at the new ranch in Granite Bay - only about four miles away - actually closer to town than the present ranch.

I don't have any plans to move onto new territories just yet.  I'm going to spend some quality time with Jeff and family and hope to make some improvements to my RV site on their property.  I'm sure you'll remember that this is HOT country.  Shade is a premium and I've asked my nephew, a licensed electrician, to install a 30-amp outlet for me to be able to get my AC working properly.  The last few days have been cool, only about 92-96F!

I only intended to jot a few thoughts today.  When I get graduation photos ready I'll post them.  Hope everybody is well and enjoying Summer wherever you are!

Tate, Avery, Malia and Samantha using my camera to take their own shots of the famous Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay over the Sacramento River in Redding, CA - about 20 miles north of here.  I opted to stay home and write this post.
The Sundial Bridge was completed and opened in 2004 at a cost of about $23M. It's really gorgeous; be sure to take a very short detour off I-5 when heading north or south on I-5.  It's about one minute from the freeway and beautiful to behold.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

First Outpatient Physical Therapy, Dave and Marcia, Memorial Day

Thursday, May 22nd:
I went for my first outpatient physical therapy appointment; and, it turned out to be the same physical therapist who I'd seen last summer just before I left for my RV adventure.  Aimee, P.T. had told me at that time that I should make arrangements for the surgery; but I wanted to head out so put it off.  Now that I've done it, I realize I could have avoided lots of pain if I'd had it sooner. Oh well, live and learn.

Aimee was impressed with my abilities to both bend and flex my right knee.  She did, however, 'scold' me for doing so much walking.  I'd been doing more than a half mile a day walking around the neighborhood, during which I felt fine; but suffered later in the day.  She said to get back to spending most of my time sitting or lying with ice on my knee.  She reminded me that there's only a small window of opportunity (6-8 weeks) for recovering full functionality of the knee; but there's lots of time (later) to build the muscles back up.

After the PT appointment I drove to a nice restaurant in Roseville to meet Dave and Marcia, my great RV and Blog friends.  We had a great lunch ('thank you,' Dave) and a super visit.  They're going to be here in the Sacramento area for several more weeks; so we'll have more opportunities for get togethers; next lunch is my treat!

Saturday - Memorial Day weekend:

Since I've been more diligent about the rest and relaxation of this rehab, I've been really taking advantage of my Netflix subscription.  I'm really not sure that Netflix is worth the monthly fee while I'm out on the road.  My Jetpack doesn't stream movies well and wifi coverage in RV Parks is a little iffy.  But, here I have fantastic wifi and can stream movies and TV shows to my hear's desire.

Yesterday, I watched "Emperor,"  a movie about the end of WWII in the Pacific; when Douglas MacArthur and our military moved into Japan, as conquerers, to round up war criminals and rebuild the Japanese government.  I'm a history buff and loved learning a lot about a segment of history I knew very little about.  My dad spent his WWII time in the Pacific theater and gave my brother, Jim, and I lots of history lessons about his experiences with General MacArthur during the war; but nothing about after the war.  MacArthur is played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Matthew  Fox played General Bonner Fellows, who was tasked by MacArthur and President Truman, to investigate and determine whether Emperor Hirohito (the emperor was, at that time, considered a 'god' by the Japanese people) was personally responsible for Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on the United States.  I won't give away the outcome.  Suffice it to say, I found the movie interesting and fascinating.

Today begins the Memorial Day weekend so it was appropriate to watch that movie at this time.  Kari's house will be a beehive of activity all weekend.  Their whole family, except Addison, will be here within minutes.  There are lots of activities planned and it should be lots of family fun.  They've rented a power boat for all day tomorrow for tube-water-skiing on Folsom Lake (about 9 miles from here); I'm going to pass on that activity I think; or, maybe I'll go for a short time, then drive my car home and not be out there all day.

There's food to plan, who's doing what when?  Should be lots of fun.  And, I hope all of you will also have a nice memorial weekend.

Thank You to all our military, who make / have made it possible for us to enjoy our wonderful Country and this wonderful weekend.