Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Going/Not Going

I was supposed to be in Gatlinburg this week. Somehow Kayak Guy and I have made a habit of traveling in December. No doubt this habit is reinforced by busy-ness, procrastination, and frequent disregard for the deadline to use timeshare points before the end of the year.

Anyway, we had a few days of flip-flopping because of the terrible fires in Gatlinburg last week. It was hard to believe the magnitude: 14 dead, more than 100 injured, something like 14,000 displaced, and about 1,700 buildings destroyed. Then it was hard to accept that driving into the aftermath wasn't a good idea. We were thoroughly looking forward to some winter hiking and holiday festivities downtown (not to mention the aquarium!).

While we were trying to decide, it was particularly concerning that most of the touristy websites and the information we received from our resort said absolutely nothing about the fact a disaster was taking place. Even the lively person we spoke to assured us that the resort was open and the surrounding area wasn't affected by the fire, although they had experienced some wind damage from the 75+ m.p.h. winds that came through.

It was decidedly weird to receive cheery "we're looking forward to your visit" e-mails when the pictures we were seeing were of buildings consumed by flames and people having just enough time to jump into their cars and drive down a burning mountainside to safety. Or, sad to say, not having enough time to do that.

The view from the resort, via the Integrity Clubhouse Facebook page

In the end we decided that even if the resort was undamaged, it felt selfish and wrong to drive into the recovery effort in search of a good vacation. 

We'll go back early next year to support the area with our tourist dollars. Meanwhile, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies asks for letters of support while they remain closed; I'm happy to let them know I'll see the sharks and penguins and poison dart frogs another time, and to make a donation to help the community recover. Being disappointed about a vacation is nothing compared with what they're going through. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Timely Gift

I am delighted to be using this perfectly sparkly tote bag for my holiday forays into the world of Christmas commerce. As a festive person who heartily dislikes shopping in most forms, this time of year can be a challenge: I need something special to ease me through the cognitive dissonance.

This tote is just the ticket, thanks to the charming Martine at Silencing the Bell. She hosted a give-away in celebration of her 1000th post (wow!) and I was one of the lucky random few to receive a gift. Thank you, Martine!

It's sober brown with golden spirals and pink satin lining, made with Martine's own hands. Naturally someone with that sort of taste is a very discerning reader as well. Give her blog a visit, when you have the chance. You're likely to find something just right there, as I did.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Today I am thankful for health and home, for the blessings that family and friends bring into my life, for hope and kindness and all the best of human character, and for the endless support and renewal of Mother Earth -- each a gift that I strive daily to deserve.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Few Steps Forward

I'm thrilled to report that after two solid weeks of rest, my knees have started working again.

I promise never ever to take them for granted.

When they first got bad, I couldn't walk even a single step without pain. The worst part was that both knees hurt, meaning there was no way to favor one or the other. It was truly a miserable experience. I'm sure other people have worse pain, but I'm lucky enough to be pain-free most of the time. Now I have a new appreciation for how well my knees and other joints work, under normal circumstances.

Thanks to my running experience, my soreness became obvious to the point that Kayak Guy took to calling me "Grandma" because I was so gimpy and slow. I needed a walking stick to get up and down the numerous steps at the cabin last week. Carrying anything of substance was out of the question: I could feel the extra load smack dab in both knees.

When I started to improve, I'd walk almost normally in the morning, moving gingerly around the cabin, taking it easy, but by the end of the day I'd be sore all over again.

This week I'm decidedly better, thank goodness! In a few more days I'll start walking for exercise again. For now, I'm just happy to make it into the kitchen without having a conversation with my knees the whole way.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Worlds

Juniper Creek

Last week we stayed in a remote cabin in the Ocala National Forest, and filled our time with kayaking, tracking, exploring, woodcrafts, campfires, relaxing, and time with friends.

Now I've returned to the busyness of pre-holiday plans and lists, e-mail, projects, and the distractions and pressures of so-called normal life. I'm trying to maintain my cabin serenity even during re-entry. (It isn't easy!)

One of the things on the To Do list is creating our holiday card. Choosing the photos is fun and time-consuming. This is one of the leading contenders. The salt bush blooms profusely along Juniper Creek this time of year, giving us the nearest thing to Florida snowdrifts.

We had a lovely paddle that day. Holding that memory . . . .