2020 Life Logs, Day 22: Back to ‘Normal’

2020 Life Logs, Day 22: Back to ‘Normal’
Date: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Weather: ; High 34 degrees, Low 23 degrees F
Location: Back Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

I’ve been home for a little over 24 hours and I definitely hit the ground running. But that’s the normal state of things. Since Jed is out of town, I pitched in last night and today to help Heather with childcare. It’s the least I can do to thank her for taking care of Shadow while I was in Florida. Plus, there’s nothing I love to do more than be with my grandkids. Heather had an early morning meeting, so Shadow and I started our day playing with Ollie until it was time to walk him to school. I was very impressed with how good Ollie is with Shadow on his leash. And believe me, that is not easy. But Ollie and Heather had walked to school yesterday and Ollie obviously paid very close attention to directions and knew exactly what to do today. After dropping Ollie off at school, Shadow and I returned to Heather’s and finished up a laundry load I had started when I first arrived earlier in the morning. Once the laundry was done, Shadow and I headed home for another walk and lunch (for Shadow). Today was friend Karen Baranowski’s birthday and at noon she picked me up and we drove together to meet Olivia White and Jane Woodin for a birthday luncheon at The Lobster Trap in Bourne. We are the female half of our Newcomers Dining-in Group and we get together for birthdays every year. Happy Birthday, Karen! Today we were missing Midge Frieswyk as her husband Bill fell and broke his hip last week and had to be taken to Mass General in Boston for a hip replacement. Bill was already in a rehab center after breaking an arm and a wrist as the result of another fall. We had a wonderful lunch, great seafood, but our thoughts were definitely with Midge and Bill.

When I got home, I had an hour to spend with Shadow before our next outing. We played outside and cuddled on the couch while I caught a bit of today’s Impeachment proceedings, and then we were off to pick Ollie up after school and take him to violin lessons. We stopped by Heather’s and I asked Sam if he would puppy sit while we were gone. He was glad to do it, but when Ollie and I were about half-way to his violin lesson, I got a call from Sam. He was panicked because Shadow had nabbed a chocolate cookie from him. I have told the boys that dogs should not have chocolate, so Sam was afraid it might really hurt Shadow. I felt bad for Sam because he felt responsible. But I assured him that he was not at fault and that one little chocolate cookie was not going to hurt Shadow. I then went in with Ollie for his violin lesson. I love hearing him play. Such a delight. Then after the lesson, we headed home with Jonah and his friend Kaiden who walked over after their jazz band practice at nearby Morse Pond School.

Once Heather got home, Shadow and I headed to our house to have a quick dinner before I had to leave . . . again. Wednesday night is my Mah Jongg night. I hated to leave Shadow, but he probably slept the whole time I was away. I did come home a little early tonight to be with him as I have to leave again tomorrow morning. Right now, we are sitting on the couch, me writing this log while watching a wrap up of today’s Impeachment proceedings, and Shadow cuddled up to me sleeping. Tomorrow I give my Voyage of Windbird to a small group in the morning and go to my memoir writing class in the afternoon. Uh oh, I haven’t done the writing assignment. I might have to tell the instructor that the puppy ate my homework!

2020 Life Logs, Day 21: Happy 13th Birthday to Sam

2020 Life Logs, Day 21: Happy 13th Birthday to Sam
Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Weather: Cool in Florida, Cold on Cape Cod; High 46/29 degrees, Low 37/16 degrees F
Location: Back Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

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This evening I arrived back on Cape Cod in time to be a part of a birthday dinner for Sam. He had his ‘official’ birthday dinner on Friday night, but apart from the birthday party, each year the boys get to request a favorite dinner on their actual birthday. Sam is my oldest grandchild, but I am having difficulty believing that he is already 13, a full-fledged teenager. Mark and I came home from New Zealand after our first year of cruising around the world to be here for Sam’s birth. In the 13 years since then, he has grown to be a handsome, thoughtful, loving, and talented young man. I made it home this evening just in time for the birthday dinner. Sam requested Indian so we had his favorite chicken tikki masala, vegetable korma, saag paneer, samosas, and naan. And then we had chocolate pudding with whipped cream for dessert, instead of a birthday cake, at his request. He was a happy birthday teenager.

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My short time in Bonita Springs visiting with Linda and Mike was short, but it was just delightful. This morning Mike left early to play tennis, but I got a few more minutes to visit with Garrett and Linda. Linda and I walked Garrett to the gym for a workout before he started his work day. Then Linda drove me to the airport and was returning to go play pickleball, her new passion. Thank you, Mike and Linda, for a wonderful few days. My three days there were all sunny and warm enough to really enjoy the break from a northern winter. We have had many unseasonably warm days making me feel like winter has not yet begun here, but while I was away, the temperatures plummeted. I definitely got a taste of winter on arrival in Boston.

I was very excited to see Shadow when I arrived at Heather’s and we had a happy reunion with many puppy kisses. But it was obvious that he had really enjoyed his time living with Heather and Goldpebbles. He also loves Jed, but Jed has been out of town since Saturday. Heather reported that Shadow has taken her for many brisk walks and the boys reported that after the first day, Shadow settled down with them instead of always being a wild child. All three boys seemed to really enjoy Shadow’s long weekend visit. Then when I got home with Shadow, I was busy putting things away and all of a sudden he disappeared.

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I found him up on my bed cuddling his stuffed puppy friend. I brought him back into the living room, continued putting things away, and he disappeared again . . . back on the bed with his stuffed puppy friend. He has never been able to jump up on the bed before, but it was obvious that he was ready for a long winter night’s sleep. I think maybe those boys wore him out!

2020 Life Logs, Day 20: Pool, Hot Tub, Beach, and Feast—Tough Life

2020 Life Logs, Day 20: Pool, Hot Tub, Beach, and Feast—Tough Life
Date: Monday, January 20, 2020
Weather: Cooler but Sunny; High 71 degrees, Low 47 degrees F
Location: At Home with Linda and Mike Stuart, Bonita Springs, FL

Overnight the temperature dropped, but not enough to keep Linda and I out of the pool for water aerobics. The water was warm and I didn’t really notice the chill in the air until I got out of the pool. So, Linda suggested we head to the hot tub to warm up and it did the trick. While we were in the pool, the sun burned through the cloud cover giving us another sunny day, perfect for our next foray which was to the beach. Linda and I spent the afternoon on Bonita Beach sunning and walking. I was in my bathing suit and I was plenty warm, but Linda had on her long-sleeved jacket and still felt a little chilly. I’ve always been told that’s how you tell the locals from the tourists in south Florida. When the temperature falls, only the crazy tourists are still out in bathing suits and in the water. That’s me. The couple of hours we spent on the beach were like magic. I love hearing the waves crashing on the shore and today they were doing just that. But all good things must come to an end. It was time to go buy food for dinner and get home to prepare it. Linda’s brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Mary Ellen, were coming over for dinner. Since Garrett and I were also visiting, Linda and Mike decided to get grass fed beef tenderloin steaks to celebrate the occasion. There is a farm store in Bonita that sells grass fed, grass finished beef, pork, lamb, and chicken straight from the farm that is about an hour away. The tenderloins were at least two inches thick and delicious, along with the scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and salad. We ate, drank, and talked away a lovely evening. It was late when Jack and Mary Ellen left, so I decided to head to bed. I’m writing this log on the plane ride back to Boston and will post it when I arrive.

Heather sent another ‘adventure’ photo from today. She took the boys and Shadow for a walk on the cranberry bogs that are close to their house and ventured to the huge hill of sand that the boys love to climb and slide down. Shadow was no different. He loved climbing up and running after the boys as they ran or slid down. His life is going to seem mighty boring when I get home, so I’ll make sure I arrange weekly playdates with the Goldpebbles so they can continue their adventures.

Life Logs, Day 19:  Hanging Out with Friends and Family

Life Logs, Day 19:  Hanging Out with Friends and Family
Date:  Sunday, January 19, 2020
Weather:  Beautiful Day; High 78 degrees, Low 60 degrees F
Location:  At Home with Linda and Mike Stuart, Bonita Springs, FL

It was a day of just hanging out with friends and family.  Add to that clear, blue skies, bright sunshine, and a high temperature in the upper 70’s, and it equals a totally delightful day.  Linda and Mike are here in southern Florida taking a winter break from their bicycle trip around the world.  Their next destination is Europe, and weather dictated that they should wait until March to begin that leg of their journey.  They had planned to stay here in Florida in a condo owned by Linda’s sister until the first of February, spend a month in northern New York where most of Linda’s family lives, and then head to Spain.  But Linda has fallen in love with the weather here in southern Florida and made arrangements to stay here for one more month, making a short trip to northern New York.  And I can certainly see why.  The weather here is just perfect right now and it seduces you into thinking that you never want to leave.  I have one more day and then I head back to Cape Cod.  I’m not looking forward to the winter weather, but I have really missed Shadow and Heather and family.  Today Heather sent a photo of my boys—Shadow, Sam, Jonah, and Ollie—going for a walk, and it jolted me back into reality.  Even if it is cold, I really can’t wait to return home to be with them.

This morning Linda and I did an hour of water aerobics in a warm swimming pool and then I just sat in the sun while Linda swam laps.  We went to Mark’s sister Mary Ellen’s home for lunch and visited with Mary Ellen and Lee and their son Dan and his two teenagers, Noah and Danny.  We returned home to watch the Titans play Kansas City in a game that decided that Kansas City will be going to the Super Bowl (not my choice), and then we prepared a welcome dinner for Mike and Linda’s son Garrett.  Garrett flew in from San Jose late this evening to spend a week with his mom and dad and his wife Katie will arrive on Friday morning to spend the weekend with them.  The dinner tonight was another fantastic meal—salmon stuffed with spinach and Fontina cheese, roasted sweet potatoes, stir-fried oyster mushrooms, and homemade applesauce.  I have not seen Garrett for years, so it wonderful to reconnect with him.  He has to work during the days while he is here, so tomorrow after water aerobics, Linda and I will head to the beach for a couple of hours while Mike plays pickleball.  Then we’ll return home and get ready for another fantastic dinner, this time with Linda’s brother and his wife who live nearby.  It’s tough life down here, but someone has to do it.

2020 Life Logs, Day 18: The Boathouse and Tour of Rialto

2020 Life Logs, Day 18: The Boathouse and Tour of Rialto
Date: Saturday, January 18, 2020
Weather: Mostly Sunny; High 77 degrees, Low 61 degrees F
Location: At Home with Linda and Mike Stuart, Bonita Springs, FL

It was a lovely day here in south Florida and great to be here with Mike and Linda. During the early morning we walked to the Farmers Market, stopped at the grocery store, sat by the pool for a few minutes, and then drove west of Fort Myers to have lunch with Mark’s family and friends of his brother Steve.We met at a restaurant called the Boat House just west of Fort Myers and after a very long wait, we finally had lunch. But the wait gave us time to visit.

After lunch, we drove to where Steve lives on his boat. The boat is on a dock at what used to be a small marina called Rialto. It is no longer a marina, but the property is just gorgeous. Steve designed the old-style Florida home for the owners, as well as the guest house which also includes an office for him. Steve’s daughter and her husband, Kristy and Nate, drove out to see us with their two boys, Hayden and Caleb. We didn’t get home until almost 7 o’clock and it was just too late for Linda and I to fix the mushroom souffle we had planned. So, we stopped at a place called Black Jack’s and picked up a veggie pizza. I almost never eat pizza, but this was a special treat. Really yummy. Linda and I added sautéed spinach to ours and after pizza, we had the corn-on-the-cob we bought at the morning market. It was another delightful day with delightful people.

2020 Life Logs, Day 17: Happiness is Good Friends, Good Food, and Warm Weather

2020 Life Logs, Day 17: Happiness is Good Friends, Good Food, and Warm Weather
Date: Friday, January 17, 2020
Weather: Currently 68 degrees (Bonita Springs, FL), 18 degrees (East Falmouth, MA)
Location: At Home with Linda and Mike Stuart, Bonita Springs, FL

Happiness is visiting with good friends after way too many years apart. And add warm weather to that and I am in heaven. My flight from Boston Logan to Fort Myers went without a hitch and Linda and Mike Stuart picked me up at the airport at 7:15 pm. Linda fixed a wonderful dinner using a favorite Mark Hyman recipe for Greek chicken with artichokes, kalamata olives, and lemon slices, plus acorn squash filled with apples, and roasted potatoes. It was delicious and then she presented another Mark Hyman recipe for dessert. It was a cherry cobbler with an almond meal, chopped pecans, and chia seed topping and topped that with whipped coconut milk. Yum! The Greek chicken is already one of my regulars and the dessert will definitely become a standard for me. You always know you are going to eat great food when Linda is doing the cooking.

We had a change in plans this morning when Heather realized the house cleaner was coming today. I had planned to deliver Shadow and have Meghan of Get My Goats feed Shadow lunch and dinner there. But Shadow would not have been happy having to stay in his crate with the cleaning people running around the house, so Meghan did Shadow’s mid-day walk and lunch at my house and then Heather moved Shadow from my house to hers and Meghan did the evening visit at Heather’s. A little more complicated than planned, but it worked out fine. Tonight was Sam’s birthday dinner with friends in Hyannis, thus the need for Meghan to feed Shadow dinner. I got a great report from Meghan after her mid-day visit and a hilarious selfie of Heather and a wild child puppy tonight. Both made me a happy puppy momma.

Tomorrow will be spent just enjoying friends, family, and sunshine–at least I’m hoping for sunshine. After a walk to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, we are going east of Fort Myers to visit with Mark’s brother Steve. He lives aboard his boat adjacent to a property that I call the Garden of Eden. It is a part of Florida I want Mike and Linda to experience and Mark’s sisters, Mary Ellen and Jeanie are going to join us.