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Sometimes I wish I were little again…skinned knees were easier to heal than broken hearts.

Things sure were easier to fix for certain people I loved when I was younger. I could easily kiss and make it better, make promises of ice cream or a new toy or take them to a movie. Now they are all grown up and I can’t fix problems quite so well. I don’t like it, but that’s life. We all grow up and the problems that used to seem monumental as a child, as a teenager even, are so laughable and trivial they aren’t even worth calling problems.

And really, sometimes the problems we face now aren’t as bad as they seem. Just when I think things are really at their lowest point, they can always go down a bit farther. Or, perspective changes and I see someone who is truly struggling with catastrophic illness or financial despair and I realize my situation or that of a close loved one is really not near as bad as when I first looked at it.

And finally, when I stop my crying over the reality of what is and think about what is to come I can look up clearly and smile. Because, in the end we still win. But the struggle for me still remains that I want to make it better for that loved one now. I want them to smile, to laugh and to move on NOW. And it doesn’t work that way. And I get angry….

Snow, snow, go away, don’t come back another day

Snow, snow go away, don’t come back another day!

Southwest Florida. Sunshine. Sugar sand beaches. Chilly gulf breezes. Hold up a second! Chilly breezes? I thought there was sunshine…and we’re at the beach…in SOUTH Florida at that! What gives?

Hmmphh! We’d like to know ourselves. As would every other southern state in the Union that had snow dumped on their front lawn today. I say dumped, because some cities will need shovels to get out of their driveways tomorrow. No, we’re not talking a dusting here this time. Atlanta, GA got 3.5″ today. Southern Mississippi, McComb to be exact, had 3″. And as much as 5″ were expected in parts of AL. The winner by far was Dallas, TX which received 12.5″! That is CRAZY! It doesn’t normally snow in these areas folks. This is truly unprecedented.

How does all of this affect us in Southwest FL you might ask? It’s supposed to be Season! No, not Christmas season – peak Snowbird Season!! They are our bread and butter and we should be packing them in here, ready to help them forget the cold temps, freezing rain and the dreaded white stuff!
But even in Northern FL the dreaded ‘S’ word reared it’s ugly head. Yes, for them it was brief and really caused no issues. But we don’t have snow plows, salt trucks and chains on our tires down here people. Neither does anyone in Atlanta or Dallas or any of the other southern cities that were turned into winter wonderlands today by SnowSlam 2010.

All of these things are working against us getting warm bodies into our comfy beds at numerous resorts and hotels across Lee and Collier counties. We should be booking weeks in advance for rooms and instead it is only days at most. No one can get to us because of all this stinkin’ snow! And if you have been able to get to us in the last week or so, hope you really like us, because you’re not going home anytime soon! Flights into and out of Southwest Florida International are grounded. So, settle back and relax…after all, you are at the beach.

And that brings us back to those chilly breezes. Average highs for this time of year are 77. Know what today was? 62. That is 15 degrees off the norm! Our low tonight is expected to be 47. The average low is 55. Again, a bit off the mark for what is expected this time of year. That’s why all you snowbirds come down here. For warm, tropical breezes and mildly cool evenings. Bring a light jacket, couple of hoodies and you’re good! Except for this winter, where gloves, actual coats, not windbreakers and even scarves are not being worn for fashion, but because we are all COLD!

So, Old Man Winter…please go back up North where you belong this time of year. In fact, could you head really far North, like, say, Vancouver? I hear you are sorely needed up there for some little races and competitions they are holding. We’d like our WARM sun drenched days back please? I did say please.

I know, I know…it will leave and those balmy breezes we so love will return. So to our Northern friends, our loveable Snowbirds, I say, come. The gulf may be cold now, but there are heated pools and jacuzzi filled rooms just waiting your arrival!

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s (almost) gone

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s (almost) gone
“I want to move to Florida!, I hate this cold place and I’m always sick with all this rain elevating the mold levels. I want out of here!”
“So start looking for a job then! But you know I can’t move right now. There’s my work and the house to sell. You’ll be on your own for awhile.”
“It’ll be okay. I can handle it. It won’t be for long and then you’ll be there and things will be great!”

And so started my search for a job in Florida – land of all my dreams coming true. And here I am with a great job on the beach, renting a house on the canal that has a stove the size of the Easy Bake oven I had as a child, a washer that leaks, a cooktop with only two working burners and a shower that takes fifteen minutes to get warm! Oh, wait. I’m supposed to be talking about my dream life. You know what? It’s not all you think it’s going to be sometimes.

When I started this journey I was just certain things would be great and it wouldn’t be that hard being apart from my husband. It was only going to be for a few months and he would visit at least every six weeks. How bad could it be? So we packed up everything, got moved here and now the real fun has begun.

My mother moved with me and thank goodness for that! Though at times she drives me crazy I don’t know what I’d do without her. We have poodles and my female recently had pups. So having Mom here to care for them during the day has been a blessing for sure! Not having my husband here…well, that has been so much harder than I could have imagined.

I’ve never lived alone, so taking care of all that comes with a home and it’s maintenance or dealing with a landlord, well, these are foreign concepts to me. Through trial and error, blood, sweat and tears I am learning! Take for instance the yard work. We had someone come and trim trees and they assured us they stacked all the clippings properly so that horticulture would pick it up. Wrong! They didn’t pick up anything! So I call the guy back to come and take care of it and that’s when problem number two reared it’s head. He had lost the check I paid him with. WHAT??? Are you kidding me? So off to the bank I go to cancel the check, retrieve cash for him now (minus the $27.00 fee I paid for the cancellation) and on to the next challenge. A call from fraud prevention on the same account regarding something with my debit card. Now I’m thinking, is there a black cloud over my head? Hopefully not. Back to the bank to apply for a new card, cut up the old card and file a dispute form for the fraudulent charge.

And don’t get me started on the issues with the landlord! Apparently the last renters didn’t take care of anything nor did they report any problems. And there have been several. Toilets that almost overflow, a washer that did overflow and flood the garage, a cooktop whose coils sit crooked making it nearly impossible to prepare a meal. The list goes on. And so have the calls and emails back and forth between myself, the property manager and her assistant. We are getting there though.

I am realizing that if I advocate the upkeep of the house and make myself the secondary recipient of said upgrades, the exchanges go much more smoothly. We are still waiting on coils to be installed that will sit flat for proper cooking, but, hey, at least they are working on it. Thankfully the plumbing issues have been corrected so no more overflows!

I talk with my hubby almost every night and email him during the day. It’s not the same as conversations side by side on the couch, but for now they will have to do. The bed feels very big at night and having my baby Keegan (our smallest poodle) sleep with me does help, but again, not the same. I know now how much he really takes care of and how much he truly helps around the house. Things I knew before, but never fully appreciated. I am so much more appreciative of even the littlest things he’d take care of now. Like taking out the trash. Even if he doesn’t remember to put a new bag in afterwards. Is it that big a deal that he didn’t? Can I not do that? Of course I can. And I will when he gets here!

For now I will continue learning more about the home maintenance processes than I probably ever wanted to. But with each new thing learned I will gain new appreciation for the husband that encouraged me to follow this dream. And I know now that every day should be filled with words of encouragement and praise for the wonderful man the Lord provided me with. And when my hubby is here with me, my road my still be bumpy, but it will be filled with even more sunshine than the Sunshine State ever thought about holding!

One poodle’s experience

I’m not sure what woke me. Until I opened our bedroom door I didn’t truly hear anything. Once I opened the door and heard those tiny whimpers, I knew. It was time. Our 4.5 year old female was in her crate in the family room and the closer I drew to her the louder those little whimpers became. I turned on a light and sat on the floor in front of her crate and slowly opened the door. Madden glanced at me briefly and then went back to her business. She didn’t have time to really acknowledge me. Her puppies were coming! The first one was already out when I arrived and our little mommy was licking it relentlessly. Cleaning it up, turning it this way and that to be sure she hadn’t missed a single spot. This being her first litter I had been concerned about how attentive she might be. Well, Madden was doing everything she was supposed to! My husband and I were able to just sit back and watch these little miracles of life appear.
It wasn’t long until our girl began to have contractions. Another pup was on its’ way out! Madden panted heavily as she worked to produce the next wriggling, squirmy body. This poor guy was turned on his head as his mommy worked quickly to release him from the fluid and membrane that surrounded him. Within fifteen minutes pup number three was ready to emerge. The ease with which she seemed to birth each of these little babies was amazing! If human births could go this easily and swiftly I suspect people might have more kids!
The last pup took a bit longer. Maybe because it was the biggest of the litter, maybe because at this point Madden was just tiring out. I’m not sure, but we waited a half hour for the last little one to arrive. Again, Madden cleaned it up and cleaned herself as well. There wasn’t much for my husband and I to do but just watch in awe of the new life that had emerged before our eyes.
They were so very tiny and so fragile looking. We decided as Madden appeared well and so did the pups that we would retire back to bed until the vet’s office opened. Fragile as they looked, these little guys and girls were already jockeying for position to gain a spot at the table, otherwise known as their mommy’s breast. They suckled and whimpered in turn as they sought a better grip to gain the nourishment that would soon have them growing like weeds!
A few hours later found us at the vet’s office. Everyone exclaimed over how small these babies were and couldn’t believe our little Madden had produced four babies given how small she is. After a thorough examination, the vet declared all pups to be perfectly healthy. No cleft palates, no hernias, no deformities or abnormalities of any kind. And Madden checked out 100% as well. She had done just great and the vet was very pleased with how well it had gone.
It has been three weeks now since these little ones arrived. They are growing, beginning to toddle around and make little growling noises at each other. They are precious and funny and altogether amazing. Madden is still doing well also, still has milk, still cleaning up after their messes. It will be many weeks before we can send these babies to their new homes, but I know there are going to be some proud new puppy parents when they get these dolls! You just couldn’t ask for better temperments and personalities. The fact that they are completely healthy and free of birth defects is simply amazing as well. I had heard so many horror stories from breeders about losing whole litters, losing their female, having to put pups down because of problems. It scared me and made me wonder if we were doing the right thing by letting Madden become pregnant. I have no such doubts now. She is a natural little mommy! Maybe we’ll do it again one day.