Friday, July 31, 2015

"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"

Mikey celebrated his 70th Birthday this year.  Its a milestone and I thought it deserved a gift that was something to remember.  So I asked Ratchlet if she and T.A. and M-t-G would be interested in going with her dad to Ireland.  (As you all know, I.  DO. NOT. FLY, EVER! so I never even considered going with them.  Besides, I don't have even a little bit of Irish in my family.)    My darling daughter actually thought it was a great idea too.  She and T.A. had been to Ireland nearly 20 years ago, and was, therefore, at least a bit familiar with the country.  She graciously offered to make the arrangements and put together an itinerary that would take them to a variety of historical and ethnic sites and towns in Ireland. 

When we told Mikey about the gift he was really excited and happy.  His paternal grandparents both came from the same town in Ireland to the U.S. where they met.  So Mikey had always felt the family connection to Ireland and the idea of actually spending time exploring Dublin and some of the countryside and small towns was perfect.

Ratchlet and her dad talked  several times about what he would like to see and visit in Ireland.  They decided that they would go first to London because Maddie-the-Great is enamored of all things British, and she has wanted to go to London for some time.  (A lot of her interest was generated through British TV shows, like Dr. Who, and the recent Sherlock Holmes series among other things.) 

After spending four days in London, they would fly to Dublin and spend an additional six days in Ireland.  At they end of their time there, they would fly back to the U.S. from Dublin.

Well, anyone who wishes, can pat me on the back for a great idea!!!

The four of them left Austin on July 10 and returned on July 23.  From what I understand they had a great time.  In London they saw Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the British Museum home of the Magna Carta), Westminster Cathedral, and several other famous sites.  London was absolutely amazing just as they had expected....but, at least for the Big Guy, Ireland was the best.  They went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kels , visited several castles, explored Dublin, and went to the town where his grandparents were from.  Mikey loved everything about it....he loved the history, the people, the country, the weather.  In fact he didn't really want to come home.  Mikey loved Ireland!! I think he would go right back if he could. 

I have been told that Mike, Ratchlet, and T.A. all took photographs of the trip.  So far I have seen exactly two photos!  I'm sure I'll see more of them when T.A. downloads his photos (I hope). 

When Mikey came home he talked about the things they saw, the places they went, the food they ate, the things they just didn't have time to see.  All things considered however, when Mikey started telling me about the trip, he was the perfect embodiment of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". 

So glad you had a great trip, Big Guy!!  Happy Birthday!!!!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

"Gun Love"

As you all know there has been a lot of on-going debate about gun control, and the need to do something to stop the horror of school shootings and the like.  Each time another of those incidents occurs the controversies arise again and most of us fall on one side or the other of the debate.  One of the main  (possibly the only) reasons why there has been no action on this vital necessity for the protection of our citizenry, is the forceful position of the lobbyists, members, and supporters of the National Rifle Association, and those people who have a seemingly innate and unstoppable case of "Gun Love."

Now I do not mean in any way to minimize the seriousness of the issue of the need for gun control in this country, however, it occurred to me that those who are in favor of any form of gun control, really need to recruit the individuals who drove the battle against smoking.  Those folks took hold of the issue and pushed and bullied, and convinced just about everyone that smoking is worst thing on the planet!  And their efforts worked!  Smoking has been reduced enormously in this country because of their anti-smoking fanaticism.  They have been doing this for over 35 YEARS.  They won't give up until cigarettes disappear and smoking only relates to bonfires!

 Just think what this same group could accomplish if they changed their focus to gun control! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"My Wish Came True"

The driver of the car that sideswiped my car on New Year's Eve, turned out to be a17-year-old girl who had never had an accident before.  I think my chasing her down to get her license plate probably scared her to pieces.  Thinking back on it, I admit it was a really dumb thing to do.  The policeman that responded to my call told me the same thing.  (ahem!)  What was really amazing about the whole thing is that she got away and headed straight home, where her mother convinced her to turn herself in!!  Which she did.  Not only that but she admitted her responsibility, so she got a ticket, but in spite of that her insurance company paid the total bill for the repair of my car!!  It sort of restored my belief that most people are good people! 

The Big Guy arrived here in mid-January and the movers arrived a couple of days later.  And of course, at that point we began to realize that we had way too much stuff for this house.  The new house was only about 200 sq. ft. smaller that the Austin house, but it has become pretty clear that the "missing" 200 sq. ft. must have all been storage space!!

Over the last several months we have encountered some repairs required, some replacements required, some things that cost a little bit, and some things that cost a lot!  We have donated a very large amount of our stuff to the local Care Center Thrift Shop, but we are still not finished getting everything unpacked and put away.  I know it will happen eventually....but it is a sloooooooow process.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the move hasn't exactly been a smooth one, we are still living in Central Florida which is something I have wanted for over 50 years!  It took a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of indecision, a lot choices, and a lot of convincing, but the bottom line is after all this time, "My Wish Came True!" 

I never would have believed it!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Home Sweet Home"

Once we made the decision to move to Florida, the search for the right home began.  Luckily for us, one of my former classmates from Lake Wales, was a very experienced and excellent realtor.  With her help we began the search.  Mike and I went back to Lake Wales to look at some homes and explore the area.  We saw a house we liked that was actually less than 1/2 a mile from the house I lived in back in high school.  It was an older home with lots of character and  quirkiness.  It was a bit on the small side compared to the last several homes we had lived in, but it had a lovely pool and a guest cottage and it was very reasonably priced.  We placed a bid on the house and kept our fingers crossed!

Well, crossing our fingers didn't work.  On the same day we made our offer, the owner also received another bid for the same amount but their offer was a cash offer....which pushed us right out of the picture.  It was disappointing, but it was understandable.  So it was back to the drawing board.  After searching on-line some more we found another home that we liked.  After much discussion I went back to Florida to actually see the house and Mike stayed in Austin.  I really liked the home and Mike and I  decided to make an offer.  Surprisingly, the offer was accepted and then we had to put our Austin home on the market.

That didn't go as well.  It took about 3 months to find a buyer, a long and frustrating 3 months.  So for those 3 months we had 2 homes.  The Austin house was built in the early 90's and unfortunately many of those who viewed the house thought much of it was dated and in need of major updating.  The things people didn't like were fairly superficial, and in some cases downright ridiculous.  But eventually we received an offer.  It wasn't as good as we had hoped but we wanted to get on with it, so we accepted the offer.  Yay!

So the summer of 2014 was filled with all the paperwork for both houses, sorting through some of our possessions to begin to weed  out some of our stuff.  We closed on the Florida house in September, 2014.  I went back to Florida in the middle of October (for my 50th H.S. reunion).  Because we didn't want the Florida house to sit empty while we were waiting to sell the Austin house, I filled my car with as much of my stuff as possible and I stayed on after the reunion. 

For the next three months I lived in Florida and Mike lived in Texas.  We spent a lot of time on the phone!  Mike ultimately decided to retire in mid-January, 2015.  After we got the offer on the Austin house, we scheduled that closing for mid-January, 2015.

While I was in Florida waiting for Mike and the rest of our things to arrive in January, I got the worst case of flu I have ever had!!  I was so sick for over three weeks that I was totally incapacitated.  I wasn't able to get out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time.  I was hardly able to eat anything and lost about 7 pounds!  I mostly slept through those three weeks.  I wasn't able to drive back to Texas for Thanksgiving which was extremely disappointing.  My whole family was together for the holiday, except for me. 

I seemed to be recovering slowly but surely, when I had a relapse and was sick again for another 10 days!  Finally, Mike flew to Florida and took care of me for a few days and then we drove back to Austin about a week before Christmas.  It was a very weird experience all the way around.

After Christmas 2014, I loaded up my car again with as much stuff as I could get in and returned to Florida.  Mike would be there in about 2 weeks and then  we would be able to start getting our house in order and settled in as Florida residents!  I had a smooth trip with no delays and I arrived back here on New Year's Eve at about 7:00 pm.  Safe and Sound!  After 50 years, I was finally back to "Home Sweet Home!"  

As I was on the very last leg of my trip back to our new home, and I was only about a mile and a half from the house, I pulled into a turn lane to make a right turn onto the street leading to our house, when, seemingly out of nowhere, I was sideswiped,  pushed out of the lane on to the shoulder, and then the driver of the other car took off like a bat out of hell!!  Luckily I was not injured and my car was still drivable, but I was really angry and I took off after the car so I could get the license plate number.

Hardly a great start to 2015!!

(More tomorrow....)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Homeward Bound"

Hi there!  Anybody remember me??  I have absolutely no excusable reason for my total disappearance from Mellodee Musings.... for the last year and a half (give or take several months!)  Having felt as though I told every story from my life, and discussed all the things I felt driven to write about, and generally felt as if I had nothing more to say.  And then of course, there was the major upheaval in my life. 

After having left the state of Florida at the age of 17 in 1963, over the next 50 years I lived in Chicago, IL, Sunnyvale, CA, and Austin, TX.  All during that time, I had an on-going desire to return to Florida, because I always felt like it was home.  Circumstances over those decades never were conducive to making that move.  So I had pretty much accepted the fact that I would never again be able to live in my favorite place. 

That was pretty much true for a long, long time.  I never thought I would be able to convince the Big Guy that Florida was a good place to live.   But all of a sudden in October 2013, things changed!

I went to the 50th H.S. reunion for the class before mine.  Before I left Austin I thought this would most likely be the last time I would travel to Lake Wales, the town where I went to high school.  I traveled around the area, went to all the events that were part of the reunion, saw many old friends that I hadn't seen since those high school days and generally made a farewell visit to all the places I loved.  I had a great time, reconnected with several people I knew from back then, and still felt like it was home.

A few months later, I met up with my oldest friend (I known her since the third grade!) and we decided to take a trip to the ocean in  the area were we grew up (Vero Beach).  On my way back to Austin then, I drove through Lake Wales again and actually saw a house for sale that I really liked.  And that was the start of whirlwind year in which everything turned upside down and inside out!

Mike had decided that he would retire in January of 2014 after having worked 4 years beyond his "retirement date".  But it was definitely time for him to stop working and enjoy life.  We talked and I told him about the house I had seen.  We agreed that Austin was getting way too crowded and we didn't want to deal with the bad traffic and crowds anymore.

Somehow in those discussions the option of moving to Florida came to be our mutual choice!!

WOW!  After 50 years, I was "Homeward Bound."

I truly will try to finish the story tomorrow....I swear!!

I'm back!  Just spent the last 2+weeks in my favorite places on earth....all contained in my favorite state:   Florida!!  What a time I had! 

Thanks, Janie!!  Had a great time with you, it was terrific discovering that all those "disconnected" years made not one whit of difference....true friendship survives time, distance, age, differences, and lives gone down diverse pathways.  Love you!

Rediscovered McKee's Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, which has had a rebirth and is even more beautiful than I remembered.  Spent an afternoon at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, another gorgeous spot that is perhaps the most peaceful place in the world.  Kudos to those who are preserving and supporting these historic and unique landmarks of my childhood.

Saw several of my favorite LW people and enjoyed laughing, talking, and sharing of stories with Sharon Horton Kurschner, Kathy Manry Smith, Estelle Martin Sullivan, Faye Smith Anderson, and Charlotte Raymond Cannon.  It was so great to see you!  Hoping to be back soon!

The drive home was interesting!  The weather conspired to keep me in Florida (even Mother Nature thinks I belong there!)  With the rain, flooding, road closures, tornados, and the inundation in Pensacola (which I would have been right in the middle of had I kept to my original plan), I decided it best to hole up in a safe haven near Tallahassee for two nights.  It was a good decision but once I finally got back home on Saturday I felt like I had been driving for weeks!  Actually I guess I had.....put nearly 3200 miles on the odometer from the time I left until I got back home!

All in all it was a great trip with only a few moments of confusion (when I got lost for a bit in Houston) and sorrow (when it was time to head for home) and regret (when I realized I had not taken a single photograph of the people and places I had seen....again!) 

Thanks, everyone, it was lovely!

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