Twelve Years Old

zelda photoZelda went on another food strike this weekend. In the saga of Z-food over the past three months, there have been no clear winners, except that anything is good for two or three days, some things are good for two or three weeks, and everything, in the end, is not interesting. She’s not apparently sick—not throwing up or having obvious digestive trouble—she’s just not in the mood to eat.

This, of course, makes me crazy.

When my son was picky about food, I let it go entirely. My philosophy was, “Eat what you like, kid, my responsibility is to provide good food, your responsibility is to listen to your body.” Did I have to grit my teeth when he didn’t bother to bring a lunch to school? Yep. But I still didn’t say anything (much!) and I definitely didn’t get into a power struggle about it with him.

With Z, I have lost the power struggle before it’s begun. I will feed her whatever she wants to eat. Except that I keep trying variants of healthy food, of course. The oldest dog in England is a 26-year-old Jack Russell terrier that eats fish fingers and other people food. Apparently when he turned 18, he got picky and his owners decided he was old enough that he could have whatever he wanted. Not on the principle of “make your own healthy choices, dog,” but on the principle of “you’re going to die any time now, let’s make your last days happy.” Eight years ago. I’m not quite ready to do that. Zelda’s only twelve. If she will eat healthy food, she should have plenty of good years left.

In fact, she’s not quite twelve — tomorrow is her birthday! I’d bake her a cake if I thought she’d eat it.

A dozen years ago (tomorrow), I got a phone call saying Woody, Z’s mom, seemed to be going into labor and asking if I could stay with her because her owner had to work. The answer was yes, of course. I pulled R out of school for the day so he could be there with me. That turned out to be unnecessary: Woody didn’t start having her puppies until late afternoon. Z was the last one born, sometime around 6:30 PM.

She was not a lovely puppy. She was mottled pink and black, minimal fur, pink rims around her eyes, a red nose where Woody had been chewing while trying to deliver her. She was the biggest of the puppies and her birth was more of a struggle than the others. I’d post a picture, but I have, in fact, no pictures of newborn Z, because I didn’t think she was the puppy we were (eventually) taking home. I’ve got several pictures of the other girl puppy because we wanted a girl and with one cute girl puppy and one not-cute girl puppy, the choice seemed obvious to me.

It was not so obvious to R. Within the very near future—not that day but fairly soon—he said that we needed to take Z instead. He was worried that no one would ever love her, because she was so very ugly. I was surprised, but the puppy was going to be his dog, so it was his decision, of course.

Ha. She was never his dog. Maybe for the first fifteen minutes after we brought her home for good, but after that, she’s been my dog, heart and soul. And I’ve been her person, the very same way. I’m sad about B, the thought of losing him makes me cry, but when it is Z’s turn, I will be devastated.

And the fact that she’s growing older is always in the back of my mind. She’s losing her hearing pretty obviously and family members have commented on how much she’s slowing down. She was a pretty typical Jack Russell when it came to energy level: visitors didn’t usually see her sleep because she was always ready to play when there were people around and she could spend hours chasing balls and swimming. Not so much anymore. She still likes long walks, but she used to have no upper limit on how far she’d go and now she does.

This weekend someone asked why I was going to Galveston and I admitted a truth that I only realized recently: I’m headed to Galveston because a long way back, before I had Serenity, before I’d even decided to buy Serenity, I read an article about the best dog beaches in the country and Galveston was on the list. When Z was a puppy in Santa Cruz, we spent tons of time on the beach and she loved it. Her happiest day of our trip so far was probably the day we spent on the beach in Gloucester, MA. So yeah, I’m taking my dog to the beach. In Texas. It would have been an excellent birthday present, but I’ll have to deliver it a little bit late.

Happy Birthday, Zelda!

Roadtrippers

I’m having so much fun playing with Roadtrippers.com. I haven’t really planned out my previous adventures, except in terms of which family member or friend I was headed to visit next, with stays at Thousand Trails campgrounds or state parks between visits and errands. But I decided I needed to map out my next few weeks of adventure while I had plentiful internet access, so I spent a big chunk of the past few days reading links off roadtrippers and being alternately wistful about the things that just don’t make sense to do with two dogs in tow and excited about the ones that do. In other words, no Mardi Gras, even though I’ll probably be in the right area around the right time. But Dauphin Island might work out and it looks lovely.

I say “might” because I’m not making reservations. Not yet. Serenity is in for service again today and I’m… well, not doubtful, exactly. But I lack faith. I’m not really thrilled with the fact that I’ve gotten so comfortable at the RV dealer’s service facility that I bring my own coffee cup along to help myself to their (really quite decent) coffee rather than making my own coffee on service days, and that the vast multitude of people who work there are starting to become familiar to me. There are three women who work behind the service counter and I have a favorite, the one whose line I prefer to get in. (Short version: the cheerful, helpful one, of course.) That’s not a good sign. But fingers crossed, today might be the day I’m done for a while. This morning I noticed a latch sticking and I just closed my eyes to it. I’ll live with a sticky latch. If it does break, I’ll figure out how to fix it myself.

Serenity did get a nice upgrade this week. My dad and an old family friend installed a shower curtain rail for me in the bathroom. I’m waiting for clips to actually hang the curtain, so I can’t say for sure what it’s going to be like yet, and I’m going to need to get a tie of some sort to keep it bunched in the corner when not in use, but I’m very optimistic that this will make showering in the van seem like less of a project. Previously, every shower required snapping the shower curtain along the ceiling and walls to protect the closet and drawers, and it was kind of a PITA. In the last two months, I haven’t showered in the van once — I’ve learned a lot about campground bathrooms, and never ever forget to bring my flip-flops to wear while I shower anymore! — but it’ll be nice if showering in the van feels easier now.

But back to Roadtrippers. You set a starting point for your trip and pick a destination, and select what you’re interested in discovering along the way. Roadtrippers has data on hotels, restaurants, points of interest, campgrounds, all sorts of places. And links to their sites, of course, so when I find a campground or state park that I like, I can find out more about it by following links. It currently doesn’t have enough reviews — I wish they and TripAdvisor could join forces because Roadtrippers’ mapping software is way more useful than TripAdvisor, but TripAdvisor wins for quantity of reviews — but roadtrippers is very fun to play with and explore. When I’m on real internet, of course, not cell data!

Oscar Scherer State Park

I was near Sarasota this weekend, mostly so I could see R, with a side dollop of managing some paperwork with him. Honestly, if the paperwork hadn’t existed, I would still probably have gone to Sarasota because one breakfast was not nearly enough after not having seen him for six months.

Got there on Friday and took him out to an all-you-can-eat sushi place, which was remarkably good, considering how unlikely it is that all-you-can-eat sushi can survive economically. It seems so impractical, especially in a college town.

Afterwards, I drove to the campground and got settled. I think it was my very first arrival after dark — a thing I had been cautioned against doing, even before getting Serenity. (Or the first such arrival at an unfamiliar place where I would want to connect to water and electric, anyway.) It was sort of thrilling, doing a slow drive through the dark wilderness to the campsite and getting myself situated, but of course it was fine. No problems at all.

I’m developing a different relationship with darkness after months of living with a camper. Unfamiliar dark has always been sort of scary, potentially threatening. What villains might lurk in the night? But now I’m out so often after dark, walking dogs around campgrounds and appreciating the night skies, that I’m really starting to take darkness for granted and even enjoy it.

On Saturday, I mostly hung out at the campground. R came over for a while and we worked on the paperwork that needed to get done and then took a walk together. He’s playing Pokemon Go and I really might have to give it a try, although somehow our entire month’s supply of data for our shared phone lines is gone and if that’s all Pokemon Go… Data has become such a precious commodity in my life.

I really liked the park. They’re using controlled burns and it made for such interesting and diverse vegetation and scenery. In the campground, I was surrounded by trees, plenty of barrier between sites to feel like there was a sense of privacy. But right outside the campground, the landscape was blackened, charred tree trunks sticking up out of ashy ground. And then walking around, there were lots of areas of different heights of plants.

On Sunday morning, I went for a long walk with Z and got a little lost. I didn’t mind feeling lost, mostly because the park wasn’t big enough to stay lost for long, so even when I wasn’t sure where I was, I knew I’d find something familiar eventually. But also because it was such an incredibly beautiful morning. I took my first ever panorama photo because I was so awed.  If I’ve managed to display it properly on the site, that little dot of light in the top left corner is the moon, with the sun rising on the right.

Oscar Scherer State Park at sunrise

Oscar Scherer State Park at sunrise

We ran into one person, also walking a dog, and she pointed out a nest containing baby eagles to us. Their little heads were bobbing up, tiny dots against the horizon. I could have stayed lost for much longer and still enjoyed it.

But it was my last day, so I had to head out. I met up with R for brunch/lunch and then made the long drive back to Sanford. Today the van is at the dealer, getting her fan repaired. Tomorrow it’s back to Mount Dora for an oil change, I hope.

And since I have internet at the moment — not on my data plan! — I’m going to spend a good chunk of the day playing with roadtrippers.com and mapping out a route to Galveston. And also, of course, doing some real writing, not just blogging. The story I’m working on right now — which I totally should not be working on, of course — contained these lines yesterday:

She dashed behind me and I looked up to see a rat charging at us.

Not just a rat, though. A big rat. A rat out of nightmares. The kind of rat that you might invoke in a scary story designed to keep children up at night, with glittering red eyes and a hairless tail lashing the air behind it, clawed feet and teeth dripping with poisoned saliva. It leaped at us, flying through the air as if propelled by demons.

I incinerated it, of course.

Without hesitation.

And with none of that fancy drama some elemental talents throw into their work, with pointing hands and mystic gestures, lines of fire extending from their eyes or balls of flame shooting out of their fingers.

No, I just set it on fire. All of it, inside and out.

Yep, having fun writing. Not writing anything I ought to be writing. So it goes!

Re-posting

Someday I will actually have my site working again. Today might even be the day. Why not think positive, right?

Reposting from Thursday, to see if this works:

Highs and Lows

It’s been a weird week. I started this post by saying that it had been a rough week, but then I thought back and realized that my week has had some really lovely things in it to counterbalance the roughness and perhaps I should focus on those.

B’s test results showed that his heart is enlarged and he is in the early stages of congestive heart failure. Before the vet appointment, I did my best to not dwell on the possibilities, to not prepare myself for bad news, which is totally unlike me. Turns out, hearing bad news is actually not any harder if you haven’t spent two weeks focusing on preparing for the bad news and in fact, might be easier. And in the long run, I’m no worse off now for not having spent two weeks dreading what I would hear and then hearing it.

But I’m still sad, of course. Everyone with a dog knows that our time with them is not going to be long enough, could never be long enough, but that doesn’t make it easier to find out that the time is going to be measured in months, not years. On the other hand, I now have heard a couple stories from people whose dogs did live years, so I’m not going to think too bleakly. We’re living one day at a time and today, B is a happy, cheerful, entertaining companion who is not suffering at all, just has a good excuse for his extreme laziness.

It was still a low to have gotten that news. But the high that balanced it was my nephew, seeing me, saying immediately, “I’m sorry,” and giving me a hug. Twenty-one years old and such a sweetheart, so kind. And my brother checking in three times during the long day of waiting for news, knowing I was worried and worrying with me. And my son, getting to hear his voice on the phone, when he told me how sorry he was, and and all the friends who called and texted and commented on Facebook and sent messages. I never felt alone in my sadness. I felt lucky to have so many people who were sad for and with me.

Of course, now I’m all tearful again, but that’s okay.

Another low–and high–was helping my dad help my sister move. I’ll skip the details on the low part, it’s not entirely my story and probably more personal than appropriate for semi-public consumption, but I feel/felt a remarkable amount of anger and frustration around the circumstances. I managed not to say anything totally unforgivable, (in my opinion, anyway) but I sure thought some unforgivable things. And you know how it goes with anger: when you’re furious, you wind up carrying it around with you, ruminating on it, brain going in circles of nastiness. It’s been tough to let go of those hostile feelings and it’s really darkened my days to be feeling them.

But within that, I got to spend some really nice time with my dad and stepmom, who are both such terrific and wonderful people. I feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life. My stepmom should probably be nominated for sainthood. My dad is so, so fortunate to have found her. And on two evenings this week, I got to escape to spend time with friends — the kind of friends who once upon a time, several years ago, were acquaintances with a single common interest, but who have become people I hope to have in my life forever, truly for the rest of my days.

For a long time in adulthood, it seemed impossible to make real friends — people through work drifted away when the work was done, people through school (either the kids or my own) never became more than friendly acquaintances, neighbors always stayed casual. And maybe that was all me, but it felt like it was part of adulthood, too, that everyone was having the same problem. But there are people in my life now who are like… ha, like characters in a Maeve Binchy novel. Unexpected friends. And I got to spend time with them this week, which really helped balance out the stress of the other stuff that I was going through.

Tomorrow it’s back to the vet, then this weekend I’m headed to Sarasota for a couple of days, which will include taking care of forms and financial aid paperwork. Next week, it’s back to central Florida to do some final van stuff, I hope–an oil change, tire rotation, and finally getting the fan fixed. And then… then!… finally adventures begin!

Highs and lows

It’s been a weird week. I started this post by saying that it had been a rough week, but then I thought back and realized that my week has had some really lovely things in it to counterbalance the roughness and perhaps I should focus on those.

B’s test results showed that his heart is enlarged and he is in the early stages of congestive heart failure. Before the vet appointment, I did my best to not dwell on the possibilities, to not prepare myself for bad news, which is totally unlike me. Turns out, hearing bad news is actually not any harder if you haven’t spent two weeks focusing on preparing for the bad news and in fact, might be easier. And in the long run, I’m no worse off now for not having spent two weeks dreading what I would hear and then hearing it.

But I’m still sad, of course. Everyone with a dog knows that our time with them is not going to be long enough, could never be long enough, but that doesn’t make it easier to find out that the time is going to be measured in months, not years. On the other hand, I now have heard a couple stories from people whose dogs did live years, so I’m not going to think too bleakly. We’re living one day at a time and today, B is a happy, cheerful, entertaining companion who is not suffering at all, just has a good excuse for his extreme laziness.

It was still a low to have gotten that news. But the high that balanced it was my nephew, seeing me, saying immediately, “I’m sorry,” and giving me a hug. Twenty-one years old and such a sweetheart, so kind. And my brother checking in three times during the long day of waiting for news, knowing I was worried and worrying with me. And my son, getting to hear his voice on the phone, when he told me how sorry he was, and and all the friends who called and texted and commented on Facebook and sent messages. I never felt alone in my sadness. I felt lucky to have so many people who were sad for and with me.

Of course, now I’m all tearful again, but that’s okay.

Another low–and high–was helping my dad help my sister move. I’ll skip the details on the low part, it’s not entirely my story and probably more personal than appropriate for semi-public consumption, but I feel/felt a remarkable amount of anger and frustration around the circumstances. I managed not to say anything totally unforgivable, (in my opinion, anyway) but I sure thought some unforgivable things. And you know how it goes with anger: when you’re furious, you wind up carrying it around with you, ruminating on it, brain going in circles of nastiness. It’s been tough to let go of those hostile feelings and it’s really darkened my days to be feeling them.

But within that, I got to spend some really nice time with my dad and stepmom, who are both such terrific and wonderful people. I feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life. My stepmom should probably be nominated for sainthood. My dad is so, so fortunate to have found her. And on two evenings this week, I got to escape to spend time with friends — the kind of friends who once upon a time, several years ago, were acquaintances with a single common interest, but who have become people I hope to have in my life forever, truly for the rest of my days.

For a long time in adulthood, it seemed impossible to make real friends — people through work drifted away when the work was done, people through school (either the kids or my own) never became more than friendly acquaintances, neighbors always stayed casual. And maybe that was all me, but it felt like it was part of adulthood, too, that everyone was having the same problem. But there are people in my life now who are like… ha, like characters in a Maeve Binchy novel. Unexpected friends. And I got to spend time with them this week, which really helped balance out the stress of the other stuff that I was going through.

Tomorrow it’s back to the vet, then this weekend I’m headed to Sarasota for a couple of days, which will include taking care of forms and financial aid paperwork. Next week, it’s back to central Florida to do some final van stuff, I hope–an oil change, tire rotation, and finally getting the fan fixed. And then… then!… finally adventures begin!

 

Unexpected restaurants

My weekend took an unexpected turn, but turned out really quite nice. Because of flight problems, I wound up bringing my brother up to my dad’s place, so that he could fly out of a central Florida airport instead of Fort Lauderdale. Even though he flew out a day later, he probably wound up getting home earlier and he definitely wound up getting home with a lot less hassle than he would have otherwise. And it was really nice to get to spend time with my dad and my brother and — although way too short — my son! Yay! R came home from his adventures and came out to breakfast with us on Sunday and it was so nice to share a meal with my favorite people.

On our last night in Fort Lauderdale, I got my brother to take me to an Argentinian steakhouse, Las Pampas Grill. I had the arugula, endive and blue cheese salad, which was terrific. Not at all the fancy restaurant type salad where you get six leaves of arugula and a sprinkle of blue cheese, it was a solid salad with a scoop of a soft blue cheese, very yummy. And then we shared the meat platter, which included blood sausage and sweetbreads. My brother gave me a look when I suggested it — the look that said, “What have you done with the sister I grew up with, the one who ate nothing but white foods?” — but joined in agreeably. I liked the blood sausage a lot, definitely a different taste, but a good taste and a good texture. And that makes a week with three new foods!

The next evening, up in Mount Dora, I was off doing things — checking my email or turning my laundry — and returned to the kitchen to discover that I had been nominated to figure out dinner for us. I was surprised. I’m by far the most adventurous eater in my family (with the possible exception of my son), and I would have thought dragging my brother to two different restaurants in two days would have had him making sure I wasn’t in control of his food on the third day, but no, he was up for it.

I wound up picking a Japanese hibachi restaurant right near the house that my dad and stepmom had never tried. It was great — I had sushi and they had the rice, noodles, vegetables and meat cooked on the grill — and the cook put on a terrific show. I wanted to ask him if he’d sharpened the edges of his spatula, but then I decided that it was a dumb question, because obviously he had — he could slice an onion without hesitation using it. He could also break an egg, by balancing it on the spatula, tossing it up and catching it on the edge — I was extremely impressed. We needed a kid with us to be more awed, but for a little neighborhood strip mall place, very unprepossessing from the outside, it was a good show. And I should find the name again so I can give them a Trip Advisor review, but I’ll have to do that later, because today is a packed day and I need to get to it.

It’s a busy, busy week for me — I think it’ll be my last full week in Central Florida, so I am definitely trying to pack a lot into it. But I have to keep reminding myself that getting stressed out about my choices is silly. I’ve got plenty of time to do all the things. Starting right now! Happy Monday!!

Apocalyptic flash fiction

I screwed up. I admit it. My bad.

But, you know, what are you gonna do? It wasn’t like I woke up this morning and thought, “Huh, I think I’ll destroy the planet. That sounds like fun.”

And it’s not like you aliens are actually destroying the planet, right? The cockroaches are probably going to be fine. The rats might survive, too. They’re very adaptable creatures.

The only ones who are really out of luck… well, the dogs are probably not going to be too happy. They kinda rely on human beings, don’t they? The house cats, especially the ones that are declawed, yeah, they’re going to be in trouble. The goldfish, doomed most likely. Cows, chickens, pigs—they’re probably not going to make it either. None of the zoo animals will have much chance.

So yeah, okay, it’s not just humanity that’s out of luck.

But seriously, I’m willing to accept responsibility for my share of the problem, but it’s not like it’s all my fault. You aliens asked me a question. You didn’t tell me ahead of time that my answer mattered.

And why should I think it did? Twenty-seven years I’ve been on this planet and it’s not like anyone else has ever cared a whole hell of a lot about my opinion.

When I was a kid, I didn’t want to go to school, but did that matter? No, it didn’t. My mom said it was the law and the cops would drag me if I didn’t go willingly, so I went. I did figure out eventually that the part about the cops was bullshit, but by then school was better than my house, so off I went. Not a lot better, not better by much, but after my dad left, my mom got… well, school was better.

And let’s face it, school doesn’t exactly teach you to think your opinions matter. It’s a real sit-down-and-shut-up environment. My dad used to rant that it was for training drones, that schools were designed to create factory workers who could stare at an assembly line all day long and not go insane, and I’m not saying he was wrong. I could probably stare at an assembly line for forty hours a week without losing it. If there was money in it, a decent paycheck at the end of the week, and some vacation time every year, hell, yeah I could.

But there aren’t any assembly line jobs left. Not here, anyway. Maybe off in Asia somewhere. I bet those drones don’t think they’re lucky, but they are.

Well, they were lucky. Not so much, anymore, huh?

So how are you guys going to do it? Plague, maybe? Like AIDS, only faster? It’d have to be faster, I guess. Maybe like that Ebola thing, with blood coming out of all our orifices, even our pores. Sounds gross but hey, it’ll be over quick.

I kind of expected big explosions. You know, mushroom clouds expanding over all the major cities. We’d probably get a real good view from up here. Where would you start? I guess maybe if you threw one nuke, like at Washington DC or something, you could just stand back and let us take care of the rest.

Our president wouldn’t be shy about blasting back. He’s the kind of guy who if he goes down, he’ll take the world with him, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pushed the button even without aliens taking out DC. Although I suppose if you took out DC, you might get him, too. Him and all his buddies.

Huh, that wouldn’t be so bad.

But you’ll probably have to hit a lot of cities to really wipe humanity out. China, Japan, the big ones in Europe. Paris, you’d have to get Paris. I once read a book about how all the historical shit in Paris, all the great art work, how it all survived World War II ‘cause the German general in charge of the occupation couldn’t bring himself to destroy it.

Well, I say read, but I didn’t really read it. I had a job, temp thing, with a guy who played audio books all day. Annoying stuff at first, but I got used to it. Two months of work there, it wasn’t bad. But then the holidays were over and there wasn’t enough work and… yeah, you know the story.

Anyway, I guess Paris survived the Germans, but not me. Funny, huh?

Sad, I mean. Definitely sad.

Not that I really care. Not like I’d ever see it for myself. So what? Some painting of a chick with a smile burns, it’s not like the end of the world.

Except that it is, of course. The end of the world.

Man, this is not how I figured this day would go. When I woke up this morning, I thought sausage biscuit for breakfast, then some Edge of the Universe for a few hours. Then an hour filling out applications online. Boring as shit and totally pointless, but my mom gets on my case about it. She keeps saying she’s gonna kick me out if I don’t start contributing so I like being able to say I did what I could. Then some more EU. Afternoon games are better when the kiddies get home from school. Nothing I love more than wiping the floor with the noobs.

Oh, you don’t know that one? Great game. I play it a lot. Hardcore PVP but the graphics are quality. I’ll miss some of the guys I play with, I guess, but eh, they’re all assholes, too. I bet if they’d gotten asked the question, they would have given the same answer. It’s not like I’m the only one who hates the whole rotten lousy place.

What?

A second chance?

You want to ask the question again? You like to let the representative consider his answer for a while before making a final decision?

Oh.

Thanks.

I guess.

***

*Posted for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Apocalypse Now

Fort Lauderdale

Updated to add: Needless to say (I hope), this happy vacation post was written and posted before people started getting murdered at the Fort Lauderdale airport. I knew something was happening when we were down at the convention center and cars with sirens started appearing out of nowhere, all with sirens blaring. I wish it had been the bad traffic accident I expected it to be. 

I feel some sort of dreadful American normalcy about this, and I really hate feeling this way. My mood definitely soured, but my brain went straight to the practicalities of how long the airport would be closed, how many flights were going to be delayed or cancelled, whether my brother is going to miss his son’s birthday (most likely) and his daughter’s spelling bee (hopefully not). As if a mass shooting was just another weather problem. As if someone wasn’t going to have to be mopping up the blood before anyone can use that airport again. Just another tragedy of the week. But if it had been yesterday, or tomorrow, it might have been my family’s tragedy, too. It makes me sad on so many levels. 

*****

I apologize (symbolic, at best) to all of the campgrounds I have called parking lots in the past. I did not know parking lots until I reached Fort Lauderdale’s Sunshine Holiday Resort.

I am squeezed in between two big trailers in a spot so small and tight that my neighbor came out to help me back in, mostly, I think, because he didn’t want to lose his slide to my incompetence. The water didn’t work — the spigot had “seized,” according to my brother, and I’m writing that down just because I really like the use of the word. Unfortunately, all of our tugging and struggling with the faucet handle weakened the pipe just enough that it fell apart and began spraying water out after dark, so there was a plumber working next to the camper until 11PM. The sewer outlet doesn’t have a cover on it; it’s an open hole in the ground and I keep worrying that a dog is going to step in it and break a leg. Not that I’m letting the dogs out by themselves — it’s just pavement, so it’s not like they can sit in the grass and enjoy the sun. Although there is a tree behind me, fortunately, and possibly I’m parked backwards — the power outlet and the sewer are on opposite sides of the site, instead of on the same side, and apparently you’re just supposed to run either your cord or your hose underneath your camper. The key to the gate didn’t work last night, so we were stuck outside for a while. And I’d feel better about all of this if this wasn’t the most expensive campground I’ve ever stayed at. Ouch.

Still, I’m pretty cheerful about it all. It feels like an adventure. Mostly, I suspect, because the air feels tropical and it is a gorgeous day. It’s a different kind of “too warm” than central Florida. It’s beach warm, and I like it. It feels like vacation in the air.

It sounds like city, though. I can hear traffic constantly, lots of it. And it smells like Mexican food. Refried beans and rice, maybe? Chilis? Or maybe that’s me. Nope, it’s definitely coming in the window on the cool breeze. It’s making me hungry, it smells so good.

We ate at a Salvadoran restaurant last night, the top-rated restaurant in Trip Advisor for this area, El Guanaco. I ate the Salvadoran combo: a chicken tamale, a sweet corn tamale, a loroco  pupusa (like a super-thick quesadilla stuffed with cheese and a Salvadoran flower), fried yuca, Salvadorian cream and cheese, pickled cabbage, red sauce, and spicy salsa verde. It was all delicious and (I really, really hope) didn’t include any gluten. I was pretty wary about the yuca, only took one little nibble, because even though the waitress said it wasn’t battered, it sure looked battered. But I guess I’ll know in a couple of days. It was good enough that I might call it worth it anyway: I particularly liked the sweet corn tamale, topped with cream and green sauce, plus, of course, the joy of eating a food that I’d never heard of, i.e. the loroco  pupusa (which spellcheck adamantly insists are not words.)

In other random news, I’m still struggling with my email. I thought I had downloaded my folders: nope! I’m trying not to worry about losing five years worth of email — how often does one go back and look at old emails, anyway? But I definitely have a churning uneasiness about what important things might have gone poof and whether I’m being rude to anyone who sent me email in the two or three days that seem to have been lost to the ether. So it goes, I guess, and I’m going to try not to dwell on that. Today I get to hang out with my brother and explore some of Fort Lauderdale, so off I go to do just that!

Heading south

Today is a movement day. I think the RV term is “relocation” day, although maybe that’s just when you’re making a big, big movement, like heading off to a new state. I’m just leaving this campground and heading to Fort Lauderdale for a couple of nights, and then coming back in this direction, so “relocation” sounds way too dramatic. I’m just… moving.

I am excited about this movement, because I’m meeting my brother and looking forward to it, but last night was one of those nights where I feel like I spent hours floating on the edge of sleep, not quite awake but definitely not soundly resting, so I’m tired and that tiredness is definitely shading my mood. When I was walking the dog this morning, I was counting good things. Yay, it was 63 degrees and felt so comfortable. The mist rising off the water was lovely. Sandhill cranes flew overhead, making their plaintive whirr, which always sounds magical to me. Lots of good things, but somehow I still felt grouchy.

The campground I’m in — the Thousand Trails in Clermont — is one that I picked purely to have a couple cheap days, plugged in, with very low expectations, but it’s been lovely. It’s a “first-come, first-served” place, so when you show up, you just wander around and find a campsite, but it’s big enough that they have guides with golf carts helping you find the right spot. My guide was terrific. She asked me a couple questions to which I didn’t have great answers and then I said that I was really trying to write a book, so quiet would be good. She had just the place.

And it really has been perfect. I’m in the wooded section, and the sites are angled, so my view out the back and out one side window is of peaceful plant life. It’s easy walking distance to a lake that gets the sunrise and a dog park that Zelda has enjoyed sniffing her way around. And the campground is huge, so I’ve easily been able to take long walks with Z without feeling like we’re going over the same territory again and again. There’s even a nature trail that goes through the surrounding scrub pine forest. Z flat-out refused to go on the nature trail this morning and actually ran away from it when I finally grumbled, “Fine, whatever,” and turned back to the road, so maybe there’s even some serious nature back there. I liked imagining that she smelled far-distant bear better than concluding that she prefers pavement, anyway.

But I’ve got a lot to do, so I should get to it. I told myself this morning that it was a new year and I didn’t have to write a Thursday blog post, but I guess 52 weeks of Thursdays has made it feel like… not an obligation. But like brushing my teeth. It’s part of my Thursday morning routine and I just didn’t feel good about not trying to get it done.

But now I must start the packing up routine — stowing all my belongings, sweeping out, unmaking the bed, unplugging, and so on. And maybe quick making a little more coffee, because I am seriously not awake yet. The final stage of my website restructuring (the domain moving to a new host) finally came through this morning and I spent half an hour trying to get my email fixed and finally decided that I was just too tired to figure that out this morning, but I’m going to have to spend some time fighting technology later, too, and that is worthy of extra caffeine, I suppose. I fully expect today to be a nice day, but it might be a nicer day if it included feeling a little more energetic.

Welcome to 2017

I had the loveliest/weirdest New Year’s Eve. It was R’s 21st birthday and I was prepared to be sad about not getting to spend time with him on his birthday. Obviously, now that he is an adult, that’s going to happen less and less often anyway. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that I will never spend his birthday with him again. Although having written that out, it seems very unlikely. I didn’t often spend my birthday with my parents between the ages of 20-30, but after that, I sometimes did, especially the major birthdays. I definitely saw them on my 30th and 40th.

Anyway, it’s a nostalgic day, of course. As always, I remembered details of the day 21 years ago, mostly how madly, head-over-heels, totally joyfully in love I was. I know some moms don’t get that. My midwife told me it was the endorphins from a very long labor. It might also have been some exhaustion delirium—my water broke on Thursday and R was finally born on Sunday morning and there was not a lot of sleep during those three intervening nights—but whatever, I was dazzled and awed and infatuated beyond anything I have ever experienced before or since.

But I was also trying to remember details of the year before that — 22 years ago, the New Year’s Eve when I had no idea, none, of how dramatically and permanently my life would change in the next 12 months. I couldn’t remember a thing. I assume I spent it with the boyfriend that I was coming to realize I ought to be breaking up with and probably that we both drank too much, but no specifics beyond that.

And then my thoughts turned to last New Year’s Eve. It was just a year ago. I had no idea it would be my last new year in my house. If you’d asked me then, I would have predicted this new year’s to be just as the previous seven or so had been: quiet, at home, probably including a nice meal with R…

Instead, he was in Paris. And I was sitting in a friend’s driveway watching the best fireworks display ever. Best, not because the fireworks were out of reason spectacular — Disney has some great fireworks shows with music and fireworks that create designs in the sky, ie Mickey Mouse ears, so I’ve seen some impressive fireworks — but because it went on and on and on, and I could watch it from the cozy comfort of my own bed with the dogs on top of me.

I would love to know what Zelda thought about the whole thing. She’s always hated fireworks, but she’s never figured out that they’re the flashing lights in the sky. She started to get agitated, barking and pacing, when she first smelled the smoke and heard the banging, but then she came and sat on me and watched them with me. Ears up, eyes alert, I really think she paid attention to the whole thing. And they were beautiful, big fireworks, some simple explosions of blue and red and green, others those swishing things like one little explosion after another in white sparkles.

It was a lovely night. Not what I meant to write about this morning, but I’m glad to save the memory.

The other lovely thing that happened was that Andrea Host released a new book in her Touchstone series. I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned the series here before — I know I have elsewhere on social media. But those books somehow became comfort reads for me, such that a few months after reading them for the first time, I got sick and the only thing I wanted to do was reread the series. They’re fantasy/science fiction, but the new book, In Arcadia, is very much a romance: it’s a calm, quiet, slice-of-life story that tells the tale of the main character’s mom from the previous books falling in love. I read it between fireworks and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven’t tried her books and you like fantasy/sci-fi/romance, I really do recommend them—she creates worlds that I love escaping into. I’ve reread almost all of them, I think.

In fact, my one regret about In Arcadia is that it makes me want to reread all Andrea’s books, one right after another, and I really shouldn’t. I should be writing my own books!

Resolution for 2017: write lots of words.