It’s a New Life

Once again I am apologizing for not blogging as frequently as I promised. I actually made a New Year’s resolution to blog weekly and, as with most resolutions, that one got broken too. I did have a good reason though and you’re going to hear all about it.

I retired from nursing six years ago. The work was becoming hard physically and mentally I felt it really wasn’t as challenging as it could be. I needed something different. I thought I would relax, do some writing, study the use of crystals in health and healing, maybe travel a little, further explore my interest in politics. I did run for political office, unsuccessfully but that was okay. The hubby and I had always wanted, we thought, to spend our winters in a warm place and of course be home the rest of the year. We did travel to Great Britain and had a fabulous trip. We bought a mobile home in Florida and a trailer in Ontario, did some sight seeing, golfing, learned shuffleboard, played cards, all the things snowbirds do, but things change.

We really weren’t satisfied with that lifestyle. When you have worked all your adult life, it’s very hard to make the switch. We missed our sons and their families. The grandchildren were growing up and we weren’t there to see it happen for half the year. Other than being warm all winter, the Florida lifestyle was not for us. Nor was the trailer life we envisioned having here in Ontario. I missed having my “things” around me, I missed my family, and I missed my friends. So we sold our mobile home in Florida and our trailer in Ontario and got ourselves a nice little apartment, easy to care for and once again I have what I need and want at hand. But as I said, things change.

We sold our Florida place in mid-February with the new owners taking possession on March fifteenth. Just after the sale but before we came home we heard that one of our council members had passed away unexpectedly. As I said, I had run unsuccessfully in the city election, three were elected and I came in fourth so I wasn’t sure if her passing would have any effect on me. I got a phone call a few days later from a private citizen to ask if I still lived in the city. Then after a few more days, I received a call asking that, if the city council decided to appoint someone for the last eighteen months of the term and if I was nominated, would I accept the appointment. Since I had long wanted to serve my city and it’s residents, the answer was an easy one for me. I said yes and was subsequently appointed about five days after returning from Florida.

Whew and that’s how I got to this point in my retirement. Things change and I have a whole new life happening right now. I love it! I am working again but I’m not physically exhausted. I’m using my brain, my listening skills, my public speaking skills, what I hope are my people skills. I am a bit obsessive-compulsive at work. I like a clean desk at the end of the day, accomplished not by just putting everything away but by answering the messages & solving the problems. I am trying to make my city just a little bit better and am thoroughly enjoying this new life.




Exploring Our Little Space


One of the best things about owning our little mobile home in Florida is having good friends come to visit. They force us out of the inevitable rut we get into as a couple who are sometimes too used to our own company. This year we were happy to show off the part of Florida we stayed in and as a result found, and saw, an area we didn’t even know existed so close to the city. It’s called the Circle B Bar Reserve and is a wildlife preserve that’s free to visit and just beautiful. It’s situated on Lake Hancock, home to one of the densest alligator populations in Florida.


The name comes from a cattle ranch that was originally on the property and now belongs to the state and has been naturalized. There are twelve hundred acres of land with a three and a half mile hiking trail that lets a happy wanderer get as close as is safe to the bird, reptile and animal habitats. No dogs allowed, they make a great meal for sunning alligators, and small children should be kept close to their guardians. A nature discovery centre tells all you should learn about the various species you will see and there are signs along the paths that give information as well. Near the centre there are picnic shelters and grills for public use. We visited in early March, a recommended time if you want to avoid insects, and a good time to hear the mating calls of alligators and birds.

Just a few of the hundreds

We started our walk on the Heron Hideout where we spotted hundreds of herons, white, great blue, green. Yes there are green herons, they are smaller and are distinguishable by their greenish, yellow legs. Two types of ibis, the regular white, with the long orange beaks and also a shiny, brown ibis and snowy egrets were common. My favourite bird was the roseate spoon bill; also a wading bird that has a bright orangey pink stripe on its wing. You can’t see his distinct shaped bill here, but the stripe is unmistakeable.


Roseate spoonbill


My friend really wanted to see alligators so the next part of the hike was down Alligator Alley. It’s a shadier walk where oak trees dripping in Spanish moss overhang the path. You can see the alligator slides, depressions in the banks beside the water, where ‘gators that have crossed the trail from one side to the other, slide down into the water. There was a report that an eighteen footer lived here but the longest spotted by our group was about eight or nine feet. It is said that the length from between the alligator’s eyes to the tip of the snout is a tenth of his length, but darn it, we forgot to bring our tape measure so we really couldn’t verify this statement.

He’s waiting for supper


We arrived later in the afternoon, so couldn’t really meander further but on our way out of the park< I was excited to spot an armadillo! It was his suppertime too and we watched him trot across the road and start digging at the soft dirt, hunting out some tasty insect morsels. They are much smaller than I thought and really quite cute in spite of the leathery looking armour.

Such an industrious guy

That was an exciting side trip for our vacationing friends and for us too! I really want to visit there again to see more wildlife in a natural habitat but next time I’ll take a better camera and give myself a whole day to explore!








Everything Old is New Again!



Here’s a question – do you have an address book? And if so, do you keep it up to date? I mean a physical book that you write in with a pen or pencil. Years ago I had an address book that I tried to keep up to date. Of course that was back when we wrote letters, addressed the envelopes, put a stamp on them and physically put those things in the mailbox. I also sent Christmas cards every year to about fifty people. I am old enough to remember when the cost of stamps was actually a few cents cheaper during the holiday mailing season, of course that no longer holds true. It could be frustrating if people moved and changed their address and phone number, then I ended up with a very messy little book but at least I still had all those important contacts still at my finger tips.

When we got our first computer, I diligently copied all those names and their information into the ‘contacts’ tab area. So exciting to have a computer and feel pretty darned important that I was wired in to the future. I was still writing letters and sending cards but those names and addresses were very well organized on my computer.  Email was next and I added all the email addresses to my contact lists. I no longer wrote long letters by hand, I could send quick snippets to all my friends just to tell them what was happening. The downside to email is huge in my opinion. Spelling took a hit as the computer corrected mispelled words, it didn’t do much for grammer but there you go. I also didn’t send pictures to people I wrote to, they had to rely on my descriptions. Remember it was quite a while before digital cameras caught up with the technology and pictures just didn’t get sent anymore. But I digress.

Our first computer quickly became obsolete so we had to upgrade and I, once again, meticulously entered all my contacts. I adjusted the new addresses folks had sent when they moved and wrote letters and sent cards, but fewer and fewer of both. Then the unthinkable happened – the computer crashed! Eek!! All those names and addresses were lost. By this time I had thrown away my old, hand written book and no way could I remember all the names and information it contained. I had to email friends and relatives and ask for their infomation and that of mutual acquaintances ao I could update my list. Of course not everyone responded and I lost contact with too many people because I just didn’t have any information. We are on our third or fourth computer and I live in fear of losing my remaining list.

My solution? At the dollar store the other day I picked up a new address book. It has space for cell phone numbers and email addresses as well as the usual slots to put in names and street addresses. I have started to fill it, writing names in pen and information that can change in pencil. Generally I’ll use black ink, but there are so many choices that I may vary that. Pink for my female friends, green for male, red for relatives, you get the drift.  I feel really good that I will always be able to contact my friends and relatives. I do have a lot of updating to do but, unless this little book gets lost somewhere in the house, I’ll always have the names and addresses available. Everything old id new again. Isn’t progress wonderful!

I’m Sorry



I promised to write a blog a week and boy did I fall off that wagon; but extenuating circumstances, some personal issues and my own tendency to procrastinate were responsible. I am sorry. If you have read my previous blogs, you would be aware that the hubby and I bought a mobile home in Florida and I intended to write this winter’s posts about our ongoing work to make our winter home pretty and more to our taste. Things changed.

My blog was never intended to be political but somehow politics crept into how we feel about being in the US this year. Last winter, we were able to have some interesting conversations about the politics here. We asked questions about the system, the candidates, about the party policies. We got answers, some little arguments but nothing terrible. This year there was no conversation about the winning side. None, zero, nada. Strange; any attempt at introducing the subject was ignored. Folks here were content to just go on in their little world they didn’t want to explain how they voted or why. We Canadians are inquisitive and always willing to have a good debate but no one in our little circle here wanted to talk about political choices. That’s okay we could have other conversation.

Our park was active, quite a few activities, pot luck dinners, day trips, that type of thing. This year there was very little of that. Shuffleboard and cards still went on, if that’s what we want to do. We could play darts once a week but there were no movie nights, no pot luck dinners. There are only one hundred ten spots here so it is smaller than most and I discovered that’s not really a good thing. As in high school, the residents seem to be divided into a couple of cliques. I haven’t had to deal with that for many, many, many years and frankly neither I, nor the hubby, want to deal with that nonsense.

I injured my foot last year and it’s still not healed properly so I was stuck in the trailer or on the lanai for most of the time. The hubby was able to join a golf league and the participate in shuffleboard at the local senior’s centre. I get to read to my heart’s content, write and study my crystals. Each month we pay a land lease fee to the owner of the park. Everyone does but we pay over a twelve month period and we only use the park and trailer for three months so adding up the cost in pitiful Canadian dollars plus the exhorbitant cost of travel medical insurance, we decided to sell our mobile home. It makes sense and we can still travel and rent here if we decide we want to visit, get away from winter, and it would be much more cost effective. Posted on Craigslist, it only took five days to get an offer, meet the lovely couple, and receive a down payment.  I’m sure they’ll really enjoy it.

So there you have it, our tale of the mobile home experience. I’m sorry I haven’t been writing much lately but expect that will change this spring.

This is How We Travel


With the minivan packed and ready, and ourselves prepared, we set off at about six in the morning. Normally we would leave earlier, but we left on a Sunday so traffic across Toronto wasn’t too bad. Coffee was of course our first need and we stopped about ten minutes into our journey to fuel ourselves. We had already decided to take the I75 route so our border crossing was at Sarnia. The weather forecast was checked at least twice a day before leaving so we could avoid potential storms, we had our emergency gear handy that included snacks and blankets. We were ready!

No one told the weather station though, that there were whiteout and bad road conditions on the 401 at London. Most of the way only one lane had been plowed and not very well at that. We saw a number of cars off the road, driving too fast for conditions, they had simply slid right off the highway and the shoulder and down a slight incline. I think this is a good time to thank the person who invented the cell phone as those we passed were standing beside their cars, cell phones in hand, no doubt calling for a tow truck. Strangely enough once we turned off that highway and onto the 402 to Sarnia, the weather cleared, there was no snow at all and it was clear sailing through to the border.

One never knows what will happen at the border. We’ve been pulled aside to have our vehicle gone over carefully by the border guard, one time we had our van packed so full that the guard decided to not even open the side door for fear that something would fall out. This time the young fellow asked no questions other than where we were headed, he scanned the passports and sent us quickly on our way. I was honestly surprised because I thought, with the new, incoming  administration, we would be in for a hard time. Ah preconceived notions.


The rest of the trip was pretty easy. We stopped overnight in Kentucky, a state I do think is quite lovely. One of these days I’ll convince the hubby to stay a couple of extra days there so I can see Lexington and perhaps some horse farms. Whizzing by on the highway just doesn’t do it. I want a meaningful stop and tour. But the drive was clear and we sailed on through to Kentucky before we had to eat and rest.

After a seven o’clock breakfast we hit the road again, determined to make it to our destination and we did! I spent three hours on the phone but managed to book our time share for a few nights so we could get the electricity turned on and stock up on a few groceries. The timeshare is about half an hour away from our mobile home, so we could go & clean and stock the cupboards.

And now we’re here, ready to start relaxing – well not really. We have quite a bit of work we want to get done!

But We Just Moved!



One week after moving into our sweet little apartment, it’s time to begin our winter sojourn to our little mobile home in Florida. Crazy I know but we really don’t like the winter cold anymore and go to great lengths to avoid it. This season the plan was to travel south in November, the high cost of medical insurance and having just found our apartment, it seemed better to wait again until January. Next year I’ll be a better planner, at least I’ll try but, like most New Year’s resolutions, that too might not make it. Ah well; we live in hope.

With just about everything I own still in boxes, I started my vacation packing with the most obvious, clean out my purse. Most people I know wouldn’t consider it essential but when we travel, my purse turns into the repository of everything from passports to gas receipts. Add in a wallet containing American money and my regular Canadian money wallet and my small case for holding all cards, my cell phone, some headache tablets, keys for Florida and home and you can see that it gets really full, really fast. Occasionally I also have to carry the hubby’s wallet and keys also. He complains about the hard time I have finding things once in a while but, he too would be lost without my purse. Now that task is complete, I can move on with the rest of the packing. Clothes and toiletries of course as well as food that would rot if left here for a couple of months and what I consider kitchen essentials that travel everywhere with us. We learned last year that Florida is not always hot and sunny, sometimes it’s not even warm, so a few extra long sleeve shirts and a couple of sweaters were added this year.

We’ve made this trip quite a bit over the years so we basically know how to get to the sunshine state, but I gave the hubby a gps device for Christmas in the hopes it would be good to have for any little side trips we may take. The darn thing still isn’t programmed, we have pages of instructions to follow online and I’m just not that adept at these. Maybe I should give it to my four year old grand daughter to program for me, she seems to be a budding techie.

Next thing I pack is the personal care bag. I take a couple of meds for diabetes, the hubby takes nothing, but I had to sign a paper at the pharmacy swearing I was going on vacation and needed the extra meds. Sheesh, are diabetic medications selling on the black market now? If we feel a cold coming on, I have vitamin “c” and then first aid stuff. Then of course cosmetics, toothbrushes, our preferred soap etc. Why not buy that type of thing after I arrive? Because I have personal preferences that I’m afraid I won’t be able to get elsewhere and I already have a ton of this at home so why waste time and money buying more. Makes perfect sense to me. Besides I always forget something that I have to replace when travelling anyway.

At the end of it, our minivan is well packed with every conceivable necessity. It looks like we’re moving all over again. But even though we just moved, we are ready to do it again! So setting out at four am; or five; maybe six, anyway we avoid the worst of the morning traffic and hit the road. Every trip is an adventure!






























Moving !


Moving can be a real pain and though we have moved many times, it never gets easier. Part of the reason it’s hard for us is because we prefer to do it ourselves with the help of two of our sons and perhaps a couple of friends. What can I say – we’re too cheap to hire movers. But finally, after this move, the hubby and I have agreed that moving is too hard physically and if, God forbid, there is another move in our future, we’ll use a company that employs some young strong lads to cart our stuff around.

I must give you a little insight as to why we have moved so much lately. One of our retirement dreams, from years gone by, was to have a mobile home in Florida and a home, trailer, here in Ontario. To us this was the ideal, warm weather year round and one floor, not too large, to clean. So a couple of years after I retired and the hubby’s company closed its doors and laid him off, we sold our house and down-sized to a town house. Purging was next on the list (now that’s a real hardship)We stayed there for two years, did a few other things we wanted to do and relaxed. We next bought a mobile home in Florida. So far we were on the right track but….. The hubby decided it was silly to be paying big rent when we weren’t there so we gave notice and moved most of our belongings etcetera to a large storage unit. As part of the purge, we also sold a couple of appliances and some furniture and we donated things we knew we’d never use again. I regret selling some of our things but hey, it’s a chance to shop right?

It was great! Off we went to Florida for three months and we enjoyed every minute of our time there. In spite of a very low dollar exchange rate, we really had a good time. A little bit of shopping, some golf, visits with friends who came to our area for a week or two, it was perfect. There is a lot to be said for gardening in February. But we had to return to reality and we had no place to live. EEK! Panic was about to set in.

We purchased a trailer about forty kilometres from our previous home and it was just okay. The thing I missed the most was having my own things around me. My pictures, my good dishes, all the flotsam we have accumulated, were stuck in storage. And this unit is seasonal, meaning it closed on Thanksgiving. Again the push was on to find a place to live. Our little city seems to have a definite lack of rental units. We got lucky and happened to run into a friend who, upon hearing our tale of woe, said he would put a word in with his landlord as there just happened to be a unit coming available. Yay for us, the downside being this wouldn’t be available until the week before Christmas. Off to the mother-in-law’s place in Nova Scotia for six weeks but a whole lot happier. We had a plan! Yes she is ninety-one and still in her own home and she likes me and I, her so we are very compatible. It wasn’t a hardship to stay there and gave us a bit of a breather while we regrouped and planned our move.

Which brings us to the current time and place. A few piles of boxes that won’t be emptied before we leave for Florida. But the storage unit is empty and my favourite things are once again around me. And we’re staying put, we’re here for the long term because I am not moving again!