Sunday, December 27, 2009

On to the Next Stage

Christmas has come and gone. It was rainy, but warm, and we drove to St. Pete where everyone was waiting on us to open presents. The kids opened their stuff first, then they went to play and the grownups began. Gary got a snake lite and we got RV books. Then we proceeded to cook, assemble Graham’s kitchen, take the kids for a walk, cook some more, eat dinner and then the disaster. The dishwasher had been sounding funny, and when Michelle started it up, it started leaking all over the floor. We used every towel we could grab and Brian and I baled water out of the bottom so that the door could be closed without leaking. That accomplished, it was 8:30 and Gary’s feet were hurting so bad, we left. Whew. Twelve months until next Christmas, and I’m not sure where we’ll be. Christmas is so commercial, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to getting rid of Gary’s ‘rash’, getting a clear report on his PET/CAT scans tomorrow, wishing his eye would be better, a good checkup, losing the six pounds I put on and getting to work on our dream. There’s so much to do, and we can’t do any of it until we are fit to go – which will not be long. Only 8 days, and Granny will be gone. How strange that will feel…

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good News and More Good News

Gary finished up his foot radiation on Monday, and he was really feeling a lot of pain, so asked the Dr. for some meds. We stopped at Walmart to put in the prescription and I grabbed some more giant bandaids. Poor guy. On the way back to my car in the parking lot, there was a beautiful sunset. I wish I had had the camera. I wish I had been on the beach! The Venice radiation office called to cancel his appointment today because they need a physicist to recalibrate the radiation machine. They will call when it is ready knowing that Gary is MORE than ready to get this stuff gone. I doubt it will be before Christmas. There are only 15 more days till Granny goes to NC. It will be a big change for her and Mandy and us, but I’m ready for it! We are contemplating selling the house if we love this fulltiming thing, but not until next year. The value will rise a little by then, too. We keep looking for a MH, and see some good ones out there, but can’t do anything about it yet. Guess what? The phone just rang, and it’s THEM. First treatment today at 4 PM. Yippeee! We’re in the car and gone… It’s now 8pm and we are ecstatic. The Dr. who built the thing says that he has done this many, many times and Gary is one of the least affected he’s seen. All the other patients have responded really well, so he expects full recovery for Gary! In the big picture, who knows if our health will last? But if our health doesn't last, at least we will say we had some fabulous years. We’re going to look online for MHs now – later J!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun Day/Terrifying Day

The weather forecast was 84 and sunny with morning fog so we said “GO” to the christening of our SEAEAGLE 380x. Should we take it to the Lido Key or Turtle Beach on Siesta Key or try the Myakka River? We’ve never done a river so let’s go there. We might even get to talk to a volunteer. Twelve minutes later we were at the Welcome Station where the ranger said it was good water and an easy put-in place was at a bridge about a mile in. I love this Florida State Park. We took an airboat tour here with Gary’s parents a couple of years ago and saw plenty of alligators, birds, fish and plants. We again visited to climb the Canopy Walk, a specially built system of towers and a suspension bridge to study treetops in the forest by a Dr. Margaret Lowman, a canopy scientist and mother that had a threefold objective as Selby Gardens’ director: to entrance the public with a little known method of study, encourage students and schools to take an interest in the ecosystem through research projects, and carry out Selby’s research objectives. But today it was to get on the water and try out our new kayak. There were a lot of curious looks as we opened up the boat, spread it out, hooked up the pump and in 12 minutes everything was ready to go!

Down the bank we went, I jumped in the front, Gary pushed me in a little, hopped in the back and with a little bit of shoving with the paddles, we were off. The fog was nearly gone, but because there was no breeze, the clouds were kinda nice.

My first photos were of a young egret and an immature ibis on the left bank.

About 200 yards downriver where the banks started closing in we saw our first whopper of an alligator.
Now watching them behind an enclosure or from land near our car, they are OK. But my heart is still palpitating as I remember this guy watching us just about 30 feet away and me snapping shots. He suddenly turned towards us and lurched into the water going under. Well, let me tell you, I just about lost it. At least I was quiet about it, but both Gary and I were really uncomfortable seeing them lying so close to us with their eyes open and their teeth sooo visible…Anyhow, a couple of kayakers were behind us in separate boats and we slowed down thinking there might be safety in numbers. John and Ed said there was nothing to worry about. They won’t bother you. I asked if I could get that in writing. They had passed about 50 of them further up river. Yippee – yes, that’s sarcasm. They eyed our SeaEagle and John mentioned that he would like something like that for when he began fulltiming in a couple of years as the hard boats were just too difficult to handle. Did he say fulltiming? Yep, and when I said I found this brand on Howard and Linda’s site he knew about that and he and his wife, Terri, are forum members and planning to attend the Rally in SC in April. Right about then they reached their exit point and left us with promises to find each other at the Rally. What a world, huh? To meet someone on a river that you know will see again in a couple of months and can correspond with in the meantime? Coincidence or North Star? Well, we continued a little further meeting more and more alligators and getting more and more rattled, until we decided we couldn’t enjoy the water knowing there could be man eaters only ¼” of canvas between us and them. We turned around, and headed back to our car. Our plans of going under the bridge with lots of people on it were thwarted because, of course, they were looking at gators IN the water. Paddling hard and furious, we shoved up on the grass, I hopped out, easily pulled the boat up further so Gary could get out, hauled everything up to the parking lot and looked behind us. There was a 10-footer in the water probably saying to himself “Darn, just missed lunch”. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. As we were taking apart the boat, a volunteer stopped by on his bike and talked with us a while. Originally from Michigan, he and his wife fulltime now and this will be his 12th year volunteering for Myakka. The one thing he recommended was to put in an application early (they do two month commitments) and that to have some sort of skill (carpentry, electric, etc.) is really helpful. Well, other than painting, that leaves us with the rest of the crowd who want to work in a really beautiful park where it’s warm all winter. We drove past the camping parks (2) and on up past the lake to the north gate where there were two picnic areas on the water. Absolutely peaceful and quiet; just the chirping of cicadas and crickets. I definitely could get used to this. We headed home to wash off the kayak and it was a cinch. We left it out to dry overnight. After dinner I visited the RV-Dreams forum and indeed did see Eagleshea (John and Terri’s sign-in name). I submitted my first “Get-to-know-you” post and within 15 minutes got replies. What a great community of people helping people. Later, gator. [Oh, my….]

Monday, December 7, 2009


We were a little excited about today because Gary had his appointment with Dr. Patrice in Venice about starting full body electron treatments. If he is accepted into this program, it could mean full remission. The Dr. says it is would be tough: 8-12 weeks, 4 days a week for about thirty minutes, and 1 hour roundtrip. He will confer with the other 3 doctors working with Gary and discuss the procedure and time frame. Chip, the technician, will need to devise lead eye contacts and some type of fingernail protector to eliminate losing them. Then we went over to his regular treatment of his eye and jaw (only one more tomorrow), but Dr. Silverman had already heard from Dr. Patrice and they decided that he would begin treatment on his feet tomorrow as well since the full body won’t be able to reach the soles when he’s standing. We came away thinking that this would be his best chance at beating this because it is still only on his skin and he has been responding well to every radiation treatment so far. I am hopeful, so hopeful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Honey

Well, Thanksgiving came and went very quietly with a delicious turkey pot pie that I made from leftover “thanksgiving” turkey. But the most exciting thing is that yesterday our new SeaEagle 380x arrived! After Gary’s return from radiation, we opened the box and started putting it together. I did the paddles and the seats, and Gary put the floor in the bottom of the kayak. The footpump is really easy to use and within 6 minutes we had the pontoons inflated to within ¾ depression, seats clipped onto the D-rings, floor inflated and were sitting in it in front of the Christmas tree. But we couldn’t find the straps that held the seats to the floor. Oh, there they are (under the boat). The next thing we had to do was take it down and see if it will fit back into the ‘bag’, which is really a flat piece of vinyl with four flaps that fold up around it. I’m going to sew a bag for the paddles and the pump. We can hardly wait to get it out on the water! We’ll see what the weather is like Friday. There is a huge storm heading our way that should arrive in about an hour. Till later…