Emotional Mojo, videos of Inspirational people, and health update, and puzzle update

I was just contacted by Troy, the CEO of Emotional Mojo. I didn’t know about this website or the company until they contacted me yesterday. We may be working on a project/video together sometime in the next few months. As time goes on, I will let you know what’s happening… it may be a while. Update: I am being interviewed via Skype on August 20th. The video will be televised sometime after September 1st. I will post a new story with a link when I receive it from the company.

Troy and others in his company were searching the Internet for people who have inspirational messages to share and they came across my name and website. My journey through life is taking turns that I never could have imagined. I am truly blessed, and honored to be able to keep sharing the message I have been sharing for many years about living life fully, keeping an attitude of gratitude, and being grateful no matter what is happening in our lives. To make time to do the things you want to do now.

After looking at Emotional Mojo website and watching several of the videos they have posted, along with reading about the message they are sharing, I found it to be in line with the message I always try to share on my website… live each day with a good attitude and purpose. Live life to the fullest everyday. Be an inspiration to others, and inspire others on their life journey.

Please make time to explore the Emotional Mojo website and watch some of the videos. It will be well worth your time. Check out their Facebook page.

One of the men that has several videos on this website is Nick Vujicuc. This is a man without arms and legs, he has a powerful message… make time to watch it, then when you have time search the Internet and Utube for more of his inspirational video messages. Here are two of his videos on the Emotional Mojo website, feel like you can’t do it, and the importance of apologizing.

A friend sent the link to a 5 minute video of Jen Bricker who was born without legs, and it didn’t stop her. Can’t is not a word in Jen’s vocabulary. In high school she became the State of Illinois Tumbling Champion.

In July 2013, I met David Nicholson who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan, he is a true hero. I wrote about him in a story on my website. He’s helping a government agency do tests on his bionic legs so that Navy seals who lose limbs can go back into active service.

Yesterday, I went to my doctor to discuss my health condition to see if I will be able to make the trip out west in early September. She confirmed what I already knew was happening in my body since my last visit to her on June 20th. My tumor has increased in size and it’s shifted location a little as it’s growing because there isn’t much room in my abdomen. This is causing it to press harder on my organs and push them against each other and my bones more. The change in position and size of the tumor is also affecting the nerves in my left leg and foot causing more numbness and intermittent pains in my leg, foot, and also my abdomen. We discussed the distance I would be driving and the time it would take. We both feel I can make the trip as long as I am careful and listen to my body for when I need to rest and how many miles I can safely drive in a day. The trip I took in May and June is giving me insight on how to plan for the trip out west. At the end of August, I will see how I’m feeling and make the decision then on whether or not to go.

I’ve still been working on puzzles. Here is the completed Peacock Garden puzzle, and also the puzzle I started called Memories and Dreams.

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Update: I updated the story I wrote on July 21st, regarding the puzzles I have been working on, and I added more narrative and also pictures of some puzzles that I may want to add to my list to work on next. I stopped by Prestigious Puzzles today (August 20th) and talked with Lacy the store owner. He has a really large selection of all types and brands of puzzles. His store is where I first saw the SunsOut brand of puzzles. I saw so many beautiful and unusual puzzles there today. Lacy just received a new shipment of puzzles. I saw many I like and want to put on my to do list, he said he can also special order the ones I want that are not in his stock. He carries numerous brands of puzzles, I saw one that has 33,600 pieces. I can’t even imagine trying to work on that size puzzle. Evidently that size puzzle comes in bags with a specific section of the puzzle in a bag so not all the pieces have to be sorted to work on the puzzle.

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Fires in Jesup and Madray Springs, Georgia, award for a firefighter, and Webbs Mills, NY area communication equipment for fire departments

Georgia Fire Chief Ashley Dent in Madray Springs, and Fire Chief Kevin Altman in Odum, let me know there was a fire in a strip shopping center in Jesup the other day. Thankfully, there were fire hydrants so they didn’t have to only rely on tanker trucks like at other fires, which many times are in rural areas. Chief Dent told me that the City of Jesup estimates that between 750,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of water was used to put out this fire.

Chiefs Dent and Altman told me that departments from their entire county, plus several neighboring counties were called in to help fight this fire. This means there were paid and volunteer fire departments on scene.  I asked if there were any injuries, Chief Dent told me that three firefighters were sent to the emergency room, one broke a leg, and at least 2 others were treated for heat related emergencies. In addition to being the chief for the Madray Springs VFD, Chief Dent is a firefighter for Hinesville’s fire department. Hinesville is in a neighboring county, about 25 miles from Madray Springs and Jesup, and they were also called to help fight the fire. He sent me these photos of the fire, including the one on the right which was taken 100′ in the air from the Hinesville tower truck.

I searched the Internet and found several stories and videos about this fire. I recognized the street names at this intersection, I remember driving past this shopping area when I was in Jesup in May. From reading several articles, it seems there were approximately 150 firefighters, and that 16 fire departments from 9 counties sent equipment and firefighters to combat this fire. It took over 12 hours to extinguish the fire, sometimes flames shot 40 feet into the air, and the fire glow was visible 10 miles away. At least 6 businesses were totally destroyed, as was a storefront church. A total of 10 businesses were affected by the fire. One of the stores totally damaged was a pet store, thankfully, no animals were hurt.

This is a small town of approximately 10,300 people, where people know each other and help each other. It will take quite a while for the area to be cleaned from the remains of the fire, and then for these stores to be rebuilt and opened. How will those affected earn a living and support themselves and their families while they are waiting to rebuild, if they can? It will have a large impact on the store owners and the community. When I was reading the articles written about this fire, I saw quotes from two fire chiefs and a lieutenant. These are men I met and talked with on my recent visit in May. Also, knowing that many of the firefighters and fire chiefs I met when I was there for my recent visit were at this fire seems to make it more personal for me. I want to make sure that “my firefighters” as I have been referring to them, are safe. I want them to go home safely to their families, I met many of their families at the dinner they had for me, and the cookouts we had at the fire stations. I could tell that the children and spouses of the firefighters are proud of them.

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house fireA few weeks ago, Chief Dent sent this photo of a house fire. There were no fire hydrants near this house, so they had to use tanker trucks. The nearest fire hydrant was about 6 miles away, so the trucks had to drive that far to fill the trucks and then come back to the scene of the fire. I can tell you from watching the structure fire I watched being fought in May that it takes a lot of water to put out a fire, and it comes out of the hoses rapidly. The fire in May took almost 20,000 gallons of water and it wasn’t even close to the size of the shopping center fire. Where there are no fire hydrants, tanker trucks are used to replenish the water tanks on the fire trucks. The tanks on the fire trucks and tanker trucks range from 1,000 gallons to 5,000 gallons. Hoses are connected between the various fire trucks so that there is a constant stream of water at the flames.

Imagine the heat from these fires. Then imagine putting on about 70 pounds of fire gear the firefighters are wearing, and going close to or into the fire to extinguish it. Factor in the air temperature being 80 or 90 degrees. Imagine if there were no fire departments. Jesup has a paid staffed fire department, however due to the size of this fire, in addition to other paid fire departments, several volunteer fire departments came to help them. Extra manpower is important, especially with fires of this size and intensity. I saw the difference it made at the fire I was at in May when I was in Madray Springs.

I really admire the firefighters dedication and effort to keep communities safe. All across the country these men and women have extraordinary courage, and they risk their lives to keep others safe, most of the time it’s people they don’t even know. They do it because they love what they do, it’s a profession they chose.

Many places around the country only have volunteer fire departments. Fire departments receive limited funding, especially volunteer departments. They do several fundraisers a year so they can buy their equipment and pay for fuel for the trucks and other necessities. I hope that people, especially government officials, realize how important it is for fire departments to have the proper equipment and gear so they can have it handy for when it’s needed. I know from talking with many fire departments that they help neighboring cities when it’s needed. I also know that minutes make a difference in saving lives and property. Having the proper equipment can make the difference to save a life, or contain a fire so that it doesn’t spread, or save the life of firefighters so they can go home to their families uninjured. Stop by your local fire stations and ask if there is something you can do to help them, or maybe help them purchase gear or equipment. Support them when they have fundraisers. Let your elected officials know you want them to be sure the fire departments have the equipment they need. It might one day be your house or life that needs their services.

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Chief Dent also sent me this photo of Gene Pritchett who retired recently with 31 years of service. He will remain a volunteer firefighter. I met Gene and his wife Patty in May when I was in Georgia visiting the fire departments.

 

 

 

The Webbs Mills volunteer fire department in New York state contacted me several months ago requesting my assistance with helping them purchase a repeater, antenna,  tower, and radio equipment so that they and several other rural volunteer fire departments can communicate with each other. They said if I purchase the tower and repeater that they would raise the funds for the radios. So we worked together for this joint project. I just received these photos of the equipment and antenna they purchased. They are thrilled that they can all communicate on the same channel now. I know it’s going to save them lots of time and most probably save lives and property now that they can communicate better. I feel blessed I can help them accomplish this goal.

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I just received an email from the Webbs Mill Volunteer Fire Department. Recently, they sent me a picture of the members of their department and also family members. Often, when we do something for others we don’t know the impact it has. I want to share the words in the email I received.

“Carol,

We need you to understand how much the members of the Webbs Mills Volunteer Fire Department and other area departments appreciate your help ending the communication problem we have had in our area for years. Generally speaking it will benefit seven departments on average, with others being able to use it as a backup system if their repeaters or the county system goes down. Once the new county radio system is up and running we may be able to move the antenna to their site at the highest area in Chemung County which is in our fire district and can be seen from our station.

As far as operations go, we were assigned three UHF frequencies by the FCC. This allows us a dedicated frequency for dispatch and two for operations. Even though the new county system will be digital, the analog system we have because of your generosity will afford area departments alternate frequencies to use for other operations such as traffic control, water supply, EMS, and for conversations that we won’t tie up the dispatch frequency with.

The fire commissioners are committed to purchasing more radios before the end of this fiscal year however, the membership has agreed to undertake a fund raising project so we can buy a portable radio for each of the contiguous fire districts to further improve the use of our new system at emergencies. We presently use the repeater and operations frequency at Reeses Ranch Rodeo for communications every third Saturday for the rodeo event we cover for EMS allowing members to become more familiar with it’s use before we encounter a major incident.

Thank you Carol for helping us end our communication problem and long into the future we will have a functional repeater that provide a safer environment on the fireground.”

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Health update, Inspirational sayings, and photos of artwork

The past few weeks I have not been doing much. My body is adapting to the increase in my pain medicine and I’m a bit more tired than I’m used to. I think it’s finally leveling out and that’s a good thing. It seems the pain is under control. Since I am no longer in pain, or else it’s not noticeable when I take my medicine, it’s easy to think that there’s nothing wrong, and periodically, I think I don’t need my medicine. I know that’s not accurate, I bet if I stop taking it I will soon know that I need to take it. However, I don’t like that it’s made me more tired. Naps are becoming more necessary, sometimes several in a day. My sleeping is off too, it’s a combination of taking naps and also reading until very early hours of the morning. If I’m almost finished with a book, I try to stay up and finish reading it, which sometimes means that I am reading until 2 a.m. or even 4 a.m. That really messes up my sleep pattern. I don’t know why I can’t put the book down if I have 50 or 75 pages, I guess I want to know the end of the story.

As for a health update, it seems that everything is about the same for the most part. I’m still having numbness in my left foot and up into my calf, and periodically I have intermittent sharp pains in my leg and abdomen. Some days it’s more apparent than other days. The same goes for the pain or soreness my abdomen and pelvic area that is affected by my tumor. I have an appointment with my doctor on August 11th. After she pokes and probes my tumor and midsection, we will discuss whether or not it’s okay for me to make the trip out west to Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. I’m guessing she is going to leave the decision up to me. We know it depends on what I’m able to do.

Some days I feel I can make this trip and other days I hesitate. I know it’s a lot of miles to drive, I think it will be about 4,300 miles round trip. There is no time restriction, so I can take my time driving as long as I’m in Albuquerque by September 27th. I know that I need to allow 3 or 4 weeks travel time to account for not being able to drive a long distance in one day, and also that there will be days I am unable to drive. It will be nice to attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta again and see my friends in Texas and Oklahoma. I may not be able to keep up all of the activities I did the past few times at the balloon fiesta, but it’s nice to be there to watch it. I’m guessing I can also crew for the same pilot again, and maybe even get a ride in the hot air balloon… that’s really a fun thing to do.

One of my friends told me that I don’t seem to say much on my website about the days I’m not feeling well. It’s true, but mostly because I feel so blessed for so many things. As I’ve written many times, Lois, who is someone that mentored me years ago, taught me to always look for things to be grateful for, so I’ve done that. You can use the search feature on my website to find posts where I wrote Lois stories. Yes, I do have days that are painful, that I have more difficulty eating and sleeping than other days. Yes, I do have days that I don’t leave the apartment where I’m living because the pain is a bit more intense. For quite a while I made myself get out every day, even if it’s to go walk around the grocery store or some other store. Now, I don’t do that. I really don’t need anything and we have been having really hard rain storms for the past several weeks. It’s not fun being out driving in them. I’m trying not to be frustrated or depressed because I have more limitations and am more tired.

Some days I have to admit are not fun. I don’t like that I have this tumor and complications from numerous operations that are most likely cutting my life shorter and limiting what I can do easily like I used to, like driving and traveling long distances. But, it’s the life I’ve been given and I need to make the most of it. I have friends that stay in touch that are going through situations that I feel are much worse than mine. One close friend has been battling pancreatic cancer and other serious health issues for more than 4 years, a few other friends have really serious health issues with their husbands and other family members. This helps keep my life and health issues in perspective. Yes, I too have serious health issues, but at this time I am still able to take care of myself, cook, shower by myself, and get to the stores by myself. So, I have lots to be extremely grateful for, therefore, I don’t complain very often. Thankfully, I have a few people close to me that I do tell when I need to vent and share my feelings.

I’m realizing that I don’t always want to get out every day, it’s really hot and humid here. I have several jigsaw puzzles, and I have a lot of novels to read. I go on the county website and download some on my Nook when I want to fill in a series. I’ve decided that it’s not always a good thing to go grocery shopping when I don’t really need anything. Since I want to take a trip at the end of the month, I thought that it would be good to use up the food I have on hand. It might also involve creative cooking which is fine with me. So what do I do yesterday, I go to the store just to get out and walk around, not a good idea. I saw a new type of ice cream bars, so I bought several boxes of them, some with caramel and others with raspberry swirls. I’ve resisted buying half gallons of ice cream. I made a chocolate cake a week or so ago and it was dry, so I bought ice cream and made an ice cream cake. I still have some left to eat.

I was at a different section in the grocery store and they had a large selection of chicken with various stuffing fillings like baked potato, bread stuffing, lobster and scallop, broccoli and cheese, etc. So, I bought a few boxes of them for when I don’t want to cook. These just get put into the oven and they are ready half hour later. So much for eating what I already have in the freezer and cabinets. I have willpower… I need won’t power. I won’t buy things I really don’t need??? It’s okay, I’m sure the additional food will be put to a good use. I ate 2 of the chicken pieces last night for dinner and they were pretty good. I might put some in my tiny freezer for my trip if I take it.

It’s been quite a while since I wrote posts with inspirational quotes and poems. You can read some here and also here.  So, I thought it was time to add some more. I’ve been reading a series of books by Emily March called the Eternity Springs series. I’m really enjoying this series, there is a character named Celeste who seems to be a wise woman who inspires people and she says things to the characters to help them heal. She reminds me of my friend Lois who passed away in 1989. There are several things she has said throughout this series, I selected the ones that have touched my heart, thoughts, and spirit the most lately and I want to share them with you. These lines have given me lots to think about and helped me know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, experiencing exactly what I’m supposed to be experiencing.

“Change happens whether we like it or not. The trick is to accept it. To make it work for us as best we can.”

“Life is not meant to be an interstate highway. It’s a winding mountain road with hills and dips, stop signs and school zones. Let friends and family be the data for your GPS satellite feed, and never forget that sometimes and unexpected detour leads to a hidden miracle.”

“Peace is a process, not a shot clock with seconds ticking away and a buzzer at the finish. It’s the result of many decisions, not just one. Don’t expect otherwise, and don’t fail to recognize how far you’ve risen from the depths of your despair.”

“You can’t rush the journey, but you can lift your foot from the brake and goose the gas a little. Slow and steady wins the race.”

“Emotional healing doesn’t follow a straight line It’s often one stop forward, two steps back. A curved mountain road with switchbacks and curves.”

This quote is from a different author and book, I can’t remember which one, but I liked the saying and wrote it down.

“A man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with pre-judgment.” “Do you indulge in pre-judgment too often?”

 

My friend Albert Gray Eagle and his niece Tori do a lot of volunteer work with children, and especially children with cancer. Albert is currently still in his battle with pancreatic cancer and other serious complications, and yet, he still does so much volunteer work with children and veterans. I’m so proud of him, and inspired by him. Over the years, I bought leather, beads, bead books, looms, etc. I didn’t use them very often. So at Thanksgiving when I saw Albert  and Tori at a pow wow, I gave them several large pieces of leather, and all my beads and bead books, etc. I knew that he and Tori would put it to good use. They have. Periodically, I receive pictures of what they made, or the children made. I also have pictures of the children with Albert. Here is some of the artwork the children at Camp Quality have created. I have to get permission from Albert before I post photos of the children.

artwork kids drawings

 

peacockHere is the latest picture of the peacock puzzle I’m working on. I guess that’s about it for now.

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Puzzles, reading books, miscellaneous items, and more

I have not been doing very much lately, mostly reading books and taking it easy. I’ve read about 16 books in the past 2 weeks. Some of the novels I’ve been reading are parts of a series and I’ve been using the Nook that two of my friends in Texas gave me for my birthday in 2011. They know I read alot, and that I have limited space when I travel, so they thought a Nook would be handy. At first I wasn’t sure how I would like it, but I really do. It’s giving me the ability to get ebooks to fill in the gaps in a series when I can’t get to a library, or if I can only find the book I’m looking for on the county library website. It’s also saving me several trips to the library, I’m finding that even if the local library has a book I want to read, that if they have the ebook it’s more convenient.

I also get used paperback books at the library and thrift stores. One of the ladies at the local library likes the same authors as I do and we frequently exchange books. Currently, I have about 40 paperback books to read, that is if I don’t keep trying to add the books missing from a series. I had 2 books in a series of 3, so I went online and got the missing book as an ebook. Then I found other books that are related to the series and that has several of the same characters. Well, that got me hooked and I wanted to read more about the various characters, most of them had a book written where they were a main character. That led me to read 9 more books by that author. Every now and then I start reading a book and after several chapters I think that I’ve read it before. By the time I realize I read it, and I’m involved in the story, I realize also that I don’t remember what happens so I finish the book. I probably read it several years ago, so it’s like reading the book for the first time.

SunsOut puzzles have the most unique and unusual and puzzles and puzzle pictures I have even come across. Many of their puzzles are special shapes like the parrots, hourglass, hummingbirds, etc. that I have been working on. They also have the traditional rectangle shaped puzzles as well. Check out SunsOut puzzles to see their wide selection of puzzles. I think you will discover like I have that their designs are amazing. They have many truly exceptional and creative artists creating their puzzle designs. I saw some beautiful puzzles in their New Designs – 2014 gallery, and I also saw great puzzles in the various categories listed on the left side of the page. I was looking at some of the puzzles to see which ones I want to work on after I finish the one I have started, and the 2 waiting to be done next, Irish Charm (shamrock), and A Delicate Balance (penguins and wolves). I saw a fire truck puzzle in the new puzzle section. This looks really challenging, I think it’s more than I would even attempt. I tend to like puzzles with more variety of colors. I bet some of my firefighter friends would love it.

Classic Fire Trucks/ A History of Fire trucks

The puzzles below may be some of the next ones I want to get to work on… there are so many to choose from it’s hard to decide. Being from Texas, the state of Texas one interests me. A few times when I was camping, I saw otters swimming in the waterways. It’s fun to watch them swim and play. There are several puzzles with hot air balloons. Having experienced attending the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta twice, which was a dream of mine that came true, I love hot air balloons. I saw a puzzle of hot air balloons flying around Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. When I was at Arches National Park in 2011, I didn’t see any hot air balloons flying by, it would have been really cool if it happened. However, Arches is an amazing place to explore. I really like the special shape balloon puzzle, it reminds me of when I was at the Balloon Fiesta.

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I have to tell you, that I really enjoy putting together the special shape puzzles. It’s more challenging because the shape of the puzzle and puzzle pieces are really unusual which also makes it more interesting than looking for regular shaped pieces. The traditional rectangle shaped puzzles are also fun, it’s nice to switch between the special and traditional shaped  The Puzzle Guide tab on the SunsOut website shows many of the puzzles, a few of which I have already done. Also, check out their other tabs to see their other puzzles. Other than receiving  a surprise package with 3 puzzles from the owner of this company a few months ago when she found out that I posted a story about locating these amazing puzzles at a local puzzle store, I do not receive anything from this company. I just like to share things, websites, places, and experiences that I enjoy, so that perhaps you can enjoy them too. People that read my website let me know that they enjoy working on puzzles too. If we are spending many hours working on puzzles, they should be ones we really love, it makes it more fun. I love seeing the picture come together as the puzzle gets completed. Then I keep it together for several weeks, before I take it apart and pass it on. I really like to look at it after it’s completed. There are pictures of puzzles in many of my previous posts. All of the puzzles shown below in this post are SunsOut puzzles.

You can buy SunsOut and other brands of great puzzles at Prestigious Puzzles in Deerfield Beach, Florida, they also do mail orders. In January 2014, I wrote a story about this puzzle store and wonderful, unusual puzzles they carry.

I finally finished the parrot puzzle that was started several months ago. It wasn’t worked on as often as previous puzzles so it took longer to complete. Several of the puzzles, like this parrot puzzle have hidden items to search for after the puzzle is completed. This parrot puzzle has hidden a parrot and several butterflies to look for. I started a new puzzle the other day, this one too should be very challenging. These puzzles are about 38 inches. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them in order to see them in more detail. The colors are more vivid than these photos show.

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It’s not often that a puzzle can be worked as two separate puzzles. However, this hourglass designed puzzle allowed me to work on it that way. It’s about 38 inches long, but by working it as 2 puzzles, I was able to use my smaller foamboards which made it easier to work on. I could even do it sitting on my bed at night. The bottom half with the butterflies and flowers I did in about 2 days. The top half with  the small birds and colored leaves is taking more time and is more difficult, but still fun. The top half I mostly had to put together by the shape of the pieces, rather than by object because the leaves were multicolored and they have random patterns, and the birds were very small. Also, as with other special shaped puzzles, I found that sometimes what I thought would be one piece to fit into a space, was really two smaller pieces. This is definitely keeping my mind occupied, and giving me something to do besides reading. It’s also easier on my eyes to work on the puzzle.

Update, July 27th: Last night I finished the hourglass shaped puzzle, so in the paragraph above I posted it for you to see. It’s really spectacular. Then, since I wasn’t really tired yet, I decided to begin another puzzle, and because I was excited to get the one with the peacocks, I thought I would work on that one next. It’s about 1,000 pieces and the size is 27 x 35 inches. The pieces of this puzzle are large shaped, and the shape of the pieces are pretty much regular shapes. I put a quarter next to some puzzle pieces so you can see their size. As I started sorting the puzzle pieces, I realized this is going to be a fun puzzle to assemble. The colors are so vivid and bright. I assemble a section of puzzle, then fit it into the frame. Working on smaller sections makes it easier to work on large size puzzles.

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SAMSUNG SAMSUNG SAMSUNG1IMG_3963Lori Schory, who designs the puzzles I enjoy doing, and I continue to stay in touch. You can read about how I connected with Lori in this story I wrote in January 2014. Periodically, she sends me a picture of the artwork she recently completed that will be made into puzzles. I don’t post them on my website because she sends them for me only as a preview. She did one a few months ago of peacocks in an oriental scene, it’s shown lower left in the photos below. I fell in love with the picture, and about a week or so ago she let me know it’s now officially a puzzle. She sent it to me with 3 other puzzles that she created, I received them two days ago. I can’t wait to do them… they are beautiful. I think the one with the penguins and wolves will be really challenging since there is a lot of black and white, but it’s going to be amazing to put together and see how beautiful it is as it’s worked on. It’s fun watching the puzzle evolve from hundreds of pieces into a beautiful scene.

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The plastic covering is still on the boxes, which makes the picture of the puzzle not very clear, the light seems to reflect off of the wrapper. I will try to get better pictures soon. By the way, Lori cut the plastic wrapper near her name on the box, and she personally signed each puzzle box for me with her name. Very cool, and extremely thoughtful. I never expected her to offer to send me some of her puzzles, and I wouldn’t have even thought about signing them. I wrote and told her how much I appreciate her kindness. As I work on the puzzles I have that she designed, I send her pictures of the progress I’m making on each puzzle. I think she enjoys seeing her work in various stages. I also let her know when I find them very challenging either because of the intricate design, limited colors of pieces, and like in the parrots… flowers that don’t really have a pattern to them so I have to assemble those sections by shape of pieces. Same with the leaves where there are so many the same.

hb2Usually, I leave a puzzle together for quite a while to admire the design. Sometimes it takes weeks to complete a puzzle, but it only takes a couple of minutes to break it apart. I still have the Hummingbird Reflections puzzle on a foamboard. Now, since these 4 new puzzles are about 35 inches at their longest measurement, I am going to have to take it apart to use that larger foamboard. I have lots of foamboard, which is what I use to spread out the puzzle pieces and do the puzzles on. Due to limited space, I only have 2 foamboards that are 40 inches across for large puzzles. Tough choice which puzzle to work on next.

The Sun’s Out puzzle brand has many special shaped puzzles. Having a border that is not square seems to make the puzzle more challenging and interesting to complete. Now that I have done several special shaped puzzles, I’m getting better at finding the edge pieces. I try to begin with the outside edge of any puzzle. Usually, I sit on my bed at night and separate the pieces while watching TV. It’s a lot different than finding the edges in a traditional puzzle with straight edges. In the story linked above with how I connected with Lori, I wrote about some tips I found helpful when doing puzzles.

The town of DeSoto, Kansas, had asked for assistance helping to fund a swingset for a park that they were creating on a piece of land that was in need of cleaning up and creating a park for children to use. I provided matching funds for the swingset. I received a thank you note and also these pictures of children using the playground equipment on July 4th.

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My friend Betty in Texas sent me an email telling me of some adventures she has been doing lately. She said I’ve inspired her to take trips and try new things. A new experience for her was ziplining at Palo Duro Canyon, which is near Amarillo, Texas. I’ve camped at Palo Duro Canyon a few times, it’s absolutely beautiful there. Here is the story I wrote when I was there in 2011. I haven’t ever had a zipline experience. I’m proud of her for trying something new and exciting.

betty zipline view betty ziplining

I found an interesting website to explore, www.carlwarner.com. Take time to explore this site. Carl Warner makes pictures, tv ads, etc. using various foods. Look closely at the pictures. The About tab you can click on a photo and it will tell you the story about how it was made. The tv ads are really interesting, a river might be pineapple juice, or carrot juice. Trees in some of the pictures are broccoli, mountains might be loaves of bread. The ocean might be salmon filets or whole salmons… it’s very unique. There are also stories on his website for some of the foodscapes explaining how he created them.

Cucumber-Bridge

IMG_3018Last week I received an email from a lady in Seattle, Washington. She is creating a book and publishing it for the Muckleshoot Tribe near Auburn, Washington. During the summer of 2011, I traveled to Washington State as part of my journey. Several of my Native American friends who are vendors do the pow wows in the Pacific Northwest during the summer months and I planned my trip to join them for several of the pow wows and the canoe journey. Evidently, one of the tribal members was searching the Internet for pictures and he found my website and the pictures I took at their pow wow and they asked my permission to use some of my pictures in their book. I felt so honored and gave them permission to use whatever pictures they wanted to include. There are going to be about 5,000 copies of the book printed, and I was told it will also be available online. If I get a link I will post it in a story. This is the primary photo they want to include. You can read the stories about my time at the northwestern pow wows and the canoe journey in my July and August 2011, and August 2012 posts.

Madray Springs Fire Chief Ashley Dent is still in first place to win the MSA thermal imager.The contest closes on August 22nd, so please remember to vote, preferably daily if you can. Here is the link to the story about him and the contest.

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Health Update – CT Scan results and thoughts

After I returned from my recent 6 week trip to Georgia and South Carolina, I went to visit my doctor because when I was away my pain was more intense and I was having more symptoms that the tumor is affecting my organs and nerves. The doctor and I talked and we decided to have a CT scan done of my abdominal and pelvic area to see the size of the tumor and what it’s affecting. When we received the results, it confirmed what my doctor and I already knew from feeling the tumor and my abdominal area and my symptoms.

The CT scan shows that in my left lower pelvic area I have abdominal wall masses, which includes a large tumor that is approximately 3 inches. Also, near the incision line up my abdomen I have another tumor, it’s small about half inch in size, located near my scar. We didn’t know about that one. It sure feels like the large tumor is bigger than 3 inches because when the doctor and I press near the tumor, the lump from the tumor and the surrounding area that’s hard is larger than 3 inches. The doctor says the other hard things we are feeling near my large tumor is probably my organs which are shifting because of the tumor. The CT scan also shows that I have a small hiatal hernia. We didn’t know about that either.

We can tell by feeling my abdomenal and pelvic areas that the tumor has shifted from moving to the right, and pushing organs to the right, to now it’s moving to the lower left. The tumor is close to the skin and it can be felt easily. It feels like it’s moved about an inch or so to the left in the past few months. We are guessing it’s because there is nowhere else it can go towards the right due to scar tissue, adhesions, other organs, my ostomy, etc. filling all of the space. The tumor is pressing on my bladder and other organs which is causing some minor issues and intermittent back pain. It’s also pressing firmly into my left pelvic bone which is causing some sharp stabbing pain in the tumor. The tumor, and/or organs that are moving, are now located close to the crease where my left leg meets my body which is causing more numbness, and intermittent sharp pains, in my left foot and leg. We are hoping that it doesn’t continue growing into the nerves and muscles which could cause more numbness in my leg and foot, and possibly eventually the loss of feeling in my left leg.

There are days when the pain is more intense than other days, so I take my medicine accordingly. As with when I was away on my trip, there are days I am not able to drive, due to the pain. I don’t drive when I take my liquid pain medicine for breakthrough pain. The time release pain medicine allows me to drive without being sleepy, but the liquid medicine makes me drowsy.

I am still not considering surgery or radiation. The odds are still stacked too far against success, and they are still high on the side of complications, due to numerous surgeries over the years. Quality of life is still more important to me and right now it’s still pretty good thankfully.

I didn’t ask the doctor what she thinks about my life span. We have no idea, it’s depending on how the growth of the tumor progresses and what impact it has on my organs. Since I am alive longer than we thought, I will just continue to enjoy each day. Evidently, God is not ready for me yet. I’m guessing there are still things for me to do here. Some of my friends tell me I’m here because I’m an inspiration to them. As with everyone, our life and time on Earth is up to God’s plan for our life.

Last summer, my doctor and I didn’t think I would survive until the end of 2013, now it’s July 2014 and I’m still here. When I watched the July 4th fireworks on TV last year, and in the distance from my apartment, I didn’t expect to be here to watch them again this year, and I am. If I knew I would be, I might have planned a trip to NY. For many years I have enjoyed watching the Macy’s fireworks on TV. It would be so cool to watch them in person. Except, now I’m not sure about taking a long airplane ride and sitting that long. However, I really did enjoy watching the Macy’s fireworks on television again this year. They always have an extraordinary fireworks show.

If I am able to, I am planning on taking another road trip. At the end of August or early September, I want to drive out west to Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico to see my friends. I’m hoping to be able to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta again this year. I made a reservation for a camp spot in the dirt field where the RVs park. I can always cancel if I can’t go. I know it will be a long trip, it’s about 2,100 miles one way. I will allow about 3 to 4 weeks travel time since I can’t drive as far as I used to in a day. About 200 miles is now a lot for me to drive and there will probably be days I won’t feel up to driving.

Thank you so very much for your continuing love, support, encouragement, friendship, kind words, and so much more. I couldn’t be going through this life journey, which has been difficult at times, without having so many people that care about me and pray for me. I’m so extremely blessed and grateful to have a core group of close friends that I can share my honest feelings with no matter what they are. They always know what’s happening with my health, pain, and limitations. I can also share honestly with them about my frustrations because of my health situation and the limitations it’s created. It’s allowed me to share my feelings, experiences, and challenges. For example, I can’t drive to my friend Sue Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to visit, spend a few hours there, and then drive home easily in the same day. It’s 100 miles each way. I used to be able to do it easily, now I can’t.

A few weeks ago I told my doctor and some close friends that I want to write a story on my website that says… Sometimes life sucks when you are dying slowly and know it, but I’m making the most of everyday I have and living it to the fullest. So, now that I wrote the line, I guess I will let this paragraph say my thought, and all of the stories, pictures, and posts on my website are the part where I am living life to the fullest and cherishing each day, even the difficult ones where the pain is intense and it’s not a fun day. I always remember that there are other people who are facing more health issues and life challenges than I am. I also remember, like Lois taught me, to keep an attitude of gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for, and I know I’m so blessed. I have a safe place to live, food to eat, medicine to control my pain, money to pay my bills, and so much more. I do a gratitude list daily, sometimes several times in a day. I also have so many friends and people who love me and who are here for me, no matter what. In addition, I have a God that loves me and guides me on my journey through life, and when time comes for the next journey God will guide me through that too.

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Postcards from Carol – A story the Lighthouse Point Magazine wrote about my travels and my journey through life

In April 2014, I attended the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life event, and I was honored to be the survivor speaker. I have been very involved with this Relay for about 9 years. During the survivor dinner, Lighthouse Point City Commissioner Sandy Johnson introduced me to Richard Rosser who is the Publisher of the Lighthouse Point Magazine. Richard said Sandy told him about me and he said that he would like to write a story about me sometime. I informed him that I would most probably be going on a trip a few weeks after the Relay. I also saw Richard at the Soroptimist award night.

I didn’t hear from Richard before I left on my trip, and I was hoping he forgot about writing a story about me. I’m still not comfortable having people write about me. I’m not doing what I am so that I will be written about, I’m doing it because it’s what my heart and spirit feel is right. I also understand, because numerous people have told me, that by sharing my story I am inspiring others in many ways. I’m also giving hope to people that no matter what their challenges, they can make the most out of life and live life to the fullest, however they can do it. I always try to let people know to enjoy every day, live it the best you can. Live each day as if it’s your last, one of these days you are going to be right.

I just returned from a 6 week trip to visit my firefighter friends in Georgia and South Carolina. I wrote several stories about my visits with them. You can read them in two of the posts a little below this one May 2014 and June 2014, and also in my July 2013 post when the Georgia firefighters came to visit me. While I was away, I received an email from Susan Rosser, the Lighthouse Point Magazine Creative Director, asking for permission to use some of my pictures for a story she is writing about me. I gave her permission to use any of my photographs and stories. A few weeks later, I received another email telling me that she wrote a story about me, that she thinks I will like it, and it will come out on June 25, 2014.

When I went to my mailbox on June 26th, the new issue of the Lighthouse Point Magazine was there. When I got into my apartment I opened the magazine and in Susan’s It’s the Journey story which is her editorial, she wrote that in this issue there are two stories about women on vastly different, unique journeys. The first woman is Donna Romanelli who traveled the country going to all of the GQ magazine’s 20 hamburger’s you must eat locations. The second woman was me. Susan wrote: “Carol Landau’s story seemed straightforward at first, but as we worked on the feature it became so much more to us. We didn’t know Carol’s struggle with cancer was so challenging for so long. Her zeal to live in the here and now is astounding, while her desire to help communities around the country is uplifting.” Further down she wrote: “And I hope many of you find joy and inspiration in Donna’s and Carol’s adventures.”

The way Susan wrote my story is extraordinary… and extremely creative. I love how she created the story using postcards. Very clever. In fact, during my 2011 travels, I did send postcards to several friends as I traveled.

I felt so proud of how my story was presented. By reading what Susan selected from the numerous posts on my website, I could tell she must have spent quite a bit of time reading my stories and looking at pictures in my albums. When you look at the pages in the link I am posting of the article, know that these were posted side by side in the magazine.

Here is the electronic file of the story that Susan sent me so I could post it for you to read. Postcards from Carol LHP Magazine 2014. I took the pictures below with my phone and and the text is unreadable. I posted the pictures so you can see what the magazine article looks like when you read the story using the above link.

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I’m glad there are not any closeup pictures of me in the article. It will still let me be pretty anonymous, other than those people around here who already know me.

One of the other stories in the magazine was written by Jack Noble, who I have personally known for many years. He has always been a source of courage and inspiration to me and many others. Instead of explaining about his article, I will let you  read the Jack Noble article for yourself.

What Jack wrote reminds me of my Lois who was a very important part of my life many years ago. Even though she died in 1989, her influence and words of wisdom still guide me daily. She used to tell me frequently that I have to take care of myself for God because if I don’t, then I can’t do what God wants me to do. I wrote a few stories about her and some of the things she told me. Here are a few of my posts about Lois which I wrote in April 2013, September 2013, and November 2013.

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Back Home in Florida – arrived safely

I arrived home safely on Thursday, June 19th. It was an amazing trip. I’m so thankful I took action on my dream to take another road trip. I was able to accomplish what I set out to do, which was to visit my friend Cindy, then go visit my firefighter friends in Georgia and South Carolina. I was also able to camp in a few campgrounds and have a campsite at a lake along the way.

A few months before I left, I began planning where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and to work towards getting the medicine and supplies I would need for a couple of months. I knew the decision whether or not I could go would be made a few days before I wanted to leave. However, I planned like it was going to happen, and it did. I didn’t know when I began the trip how my health was going to be, or how long I could be away. I planned on being away 2 or 3 months, it turned out to be 6 weeks. That’s still pretty great in my book, especially since I accomplished everything that was really important to me to do. If you have a dream, plan, work towards it… it might just come true. Step out in faith.

On my way home after I left visiting with the Georgia firefighters again, I stopped at my friend Cindy’s house in near Jacksonville, Florida, for a few days. I took almost 2 days driving home, it was too much to drive in one day. I am not able to drive the distances I did a few years ago. It’s too hard on my body to sit for long periods of time.

While I was on my 6 week trip, I wrote several stories, they are in several posts below this story. There were periods of rain, mostly in the afternoons. I also encountered pea size hail once while I was camping. If you read the stories about my time at the fire stations, you will know how much we enjoyed our time together, they welcomed me with open arms, hugs, and their hearts. I returned those same feelings back to them. I think of all of them as “my firefighters and their families.” We adopted each other. I have open invitations to come back anytime for a visit.

After I got home, I had to unpack the camper. That was a challenge. I know I could have asked for help, but that’s still not an easy thing for me to do. It was hot out while I was unloading the camper, and since I live on the 2nd floor, I had to make many trips up and down the stairs. I didn’t realize how much of a physical strain this put on my body until the next morning. Friday morning, I got out of bed and when I went to walk, my calf muscles were so stiff and sore. It was not easy to walk. Saturday was a little bit better, but still it’s hard to walk and go up and down the stairs.

As I was unloading the camper van, I saw the letters MSVFD on Molly’s back bumper. It’s her tattoo from Chief Dent. MSVFD stands for Madray Springs Volunteer Fire Department. When I was at his department I saw the decals of these letters sitting on a table and noticed that they are on the departments air tanks and several pieces of equipment. I asked Chief Dent if he could put it on Molly and he said certainly. So before I left the station on my visit in May when I was heading north to South Carolina, he put it on her. I display it proudly. The first lettering was black, then he put a slightly smaller decal of royal blue letters over it. I don’t know if it shows in the pictures, but it’s royal blue lettering outlined in black. As I traveled, periodically I would be asked what MSVFD means and I would proudly tell about what I call ‘my firefighters,” the volunteer firefighters and the job they do and their needs.

msvfd 1 MSVFD bumper

Thursday night just before sundown we had a heavy rain. Then the sun came out and I saw a full arc rainbow above the building next to mine. I have seen several full arc rainbows over the years, but none quite like this one. Below the rainbow in the semicircle were colors in various shades of yellows and pinks. The rainbow was in the east and it must have been over the ocean since that is what is east of me.

rainbow left rainbow right

I know many of you are wondering how I did healthwise on this trip, periodically when I wrote a story I would give a brief update. During my trip, I did keep in touch with several friends and let them know in more detail. I also let several people know my location every day in case it was needed. Since the fire chiefs and a few others close to me were concerned for my health and safety they asked me to let them know anytime I left and got to a different location, so I did.

There were several days when the pain was pretty intense. If I had to travel that day I would not have been able to. Thankfully, I didn’t have anywhere I had to be on any certain date. So, if I had planned to leave that day to go elsewhere and I wasn’t up to it, I stayed where I was for another day or so until I could travel. No one was upset to have me an extra day or two. In fact, most of the time they welcomed me to stay longer, or come back anytime if I could. I know the tumor is growing and it’s shifting to the left side of my body. It’s affecting more nerves and pressing on my organs more. I’ve had to increase my medicine to manage the pain. I sent my doctors office an email letting them know I was back safely and that the pain is more intense, and they wrote back that the doctor wanted to see me the next day.

On Friday afternoon, I went to the doctor and she confirmed that my tumor is larger and she said harder. I told her I didn’t think that was possible, it’s been quite hard for a long time. She said she can tell that it is harder, larger, and more invasive. I told her that I’m planning on taking a few short camping trips in the next couple of months if I can, and that in September I want to drive out west to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Oklahoma City, and Fort Worth, if I’m able to. We will see… so until then, I will continue to pray and plan and see what happens.

If you read my story last year when I was camped at a lake in Georgia about my health and how my life would play out, God clearly gave me an important message about my life and the path it would take. When a few of my friends knew I was camping at lakes on this trip, they asked if I was talking with God and got any messages this year. I replied that I continually talk with God. I did continually, including while I was camping at these lakes as well as when I was driving. I didn’t get the same type of message this year. I did feel like God was still talking with me, however, it was more subtle and that it was more of a follow my heart and body and I would know how this trip was to evolve. I listened to my body and  that’s why I came back at this time. I knew things were changing and probably not for the better.

I am taking my time putting everything away from my trip. I am so happy I went away and had the experiences and time with friends that I did for the past 6 weeks. I think about what I would have missed if I didn’t take the risk to go. I would have missed so much if I had let fear and what if’s take over my thinking. I’m glad I stepped out in faith and went on the trip.

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Madray Springs, Georgia, Volunteer Fire Department needs our VOTES to win MSA thermal imager – and Update

My friend Fire Chief Ashley Dent in Madray Springs, Georgia, needs all of our VOTES to help to win a contest that runs through August 22, 2014.

Madray Springs is one of the volunteer fire departments that I am close to and donate funds to. This is one of the fire chiefs that drove down to visit me last year. In the past 6 weeks, I have spent several days at their department. You can read about my visit to their department and the structure fire I went to while I was there in the post below this one.

Chief Dent is trying to win a contest that will get the Madray Springs Volunteer Fire Department a $12,000 MSA thermal imager to help the fire department find trapped occupants in thick smoke where they normally can only see a few feet.

After being at a structure fire last week and seeing how thick the smoke was coming out of the house, I can see how this piece of equipment can locate someone and hopefully save their life.

Knowing Ashley and his department, if they win, and other departments need to borrow this piece of equipment, they will lend it to other departments, or bring it to where it’s needed.

Here is the link where you can vote. Go to:

http://www.tinyurl.com/madrayspringsvote

Then sign into Facebook and click on the Love It button.

You can vote once a day until August 22, 2014.

PLEASE: Pass this info on to all of your friends and contacts using email, Facebook, and whatever other methods you have.

Chief Ashley Dent

Chief, Ashley P. …

by: Ashley D

UPDATE: June 22nd. Chief Dent says they are currently in 1st Place. In order to keep them in 1st place, please continue to vote daily if you can. Also, please pass this info on to others. The contest is open until August 22nd.

 

Thank you very much for your help.

Carol

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Back in Georgia at Madray Springs Fire Department and at a Structure Fire of Historical House

mur 2I arrived at the Madray Springs fire department on Thursday afternoon. Randy, one of the firefighters, came over and helped me hook up my camper to their electricity, with Chief Dent’s permission of course. Late Friday morning Chief Dent’s wife Lindsay came to the fire station with her sons Renley who is almost 6, and Murphy who is now almost 3 weeks old. He was born the day I left here a couple of weeks ago. After Murphy was fed and ready for his nap, Lindsay asked if I would like to hold him. I said I would love to. I was sitting on the sofa and I held Murphy and laid him against my chest and cuddled him for a couple of hours while he slept. He’s so cute, cuddly, and soft and has that nice baby smell. Friday night we had a cookout at the fire station, and just after we finished eating and cleaning up from dinner, there was a call for a car fire and the guys left so us gals sat around talking and having a nice visit.

garySaturday afternoon, my long time friend Gary who I’ve known for about 45 years drove about 170 miles to come visit me here. We went into Jesup for the night and then Sunday morning we went to Darien which is an old historic town with Fort King George. From 1721 until 1736, Fort King George was the southern outpost of the British Empire in North America. After the fort was abandoned, General James Oglethorpe brought the Scottish Highlanders to the site in 1736. They named the settlement Darien, its the second oldest planned city in Georgia, it was settled in 1736. As we walked by the waterfront we saw the remains of original buildings. We drove some of the older streets and we saw this a historical church which had beautiful architecture. After we walked around town, we realized we were hungry and we found a nice local restaurant to eat in a few miles from the waterfront. After lunch, Gary took me back to the fire station and then started the 3 hour drive home. It was nice to see him again.

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Sunday night, June 8th, while I was staying in the Madray Springs fire station there was a call for the firefighters at midnight and the guys returned at 1:30 a.m. Five firefighters from this station went on the call. I know for a fact that Kevin Altman who is also the Odum fire chief gets up at 4:00 a.m. for his regular job, and also Chad gets up at that time for his job. Here it is 1:30 a.m. when they get back from the call. Then they have to drive home, shower to get clean after their call, then hopefully they get some sleep before they have to get up a couple of hours later and then work at their regular job. Other firefighters get off work and then the call for service comes in and they probably didn’t even get any sleep because they just got home from their regular job.

It’s about noon on Monday, June 9th, I just got back from being at a structure fire this morning. Richard, one of the Odum firefighters, brought me back to the Madray Springs fire station since the fire was basically extinguished and the fire departments on scene had to do cleanup. Richard just got off work this morning, when he heard the call that trucks with water tanks were needed at a fire that Madray Springs was called to. So he brought his departments tanker truck and drove at least 10 miles to the fire. Since he was not needed at the scene any longer, and he needed to get some sleep, he took me back to the fire station.

When I got back to the fire station I decided to download the pictures I took onto my computer. As the photos were downloading, I thought that since I had my computer on, even though I don’t have Internet here, I would start writing the story about my experience watching the house fire being extinguished. I was standing by the fire trucks or in the grass behind the house, and yet, I still smell like smoke. My hair and clothes have a strong smoke smell, so I can just imagine how the firefighters smell. It’s not a bad smell, it’s like being at a campsite when the wind blew the smoke at me, just a bit stronger. I thought I would stay this way as I write part of the story I want to share with you about my couple of hours at the fire today. (June 12th, now that I am at a friends house and have Internet, I am able to write the final story and post it, and I created a new photo album with all of the structure fire photos.)

Monday morning, July 9th, about 9:45 a.m. I heard the fire truck engine start. Chief Ashley Dent had gotten home from his regular job as a firefighter a couple of hours earlier. When I heard the engine, I went into the fire station bay and Ashley told me they just got a call for a structure fire. He was waiting for Randy to show up so they could leave. Randy arrived about a minute later, jumped out of his truck, got into his gear and within a minute the truck left the station. I listened to the radio at the station and heard the dispatcher putting calls out to other departments saying water trucks are needed for the structure fire. A while later I saw a couple of fire trucks passing the station on the way to the fire.

Chief Ashley Dent gave me the pictures he took when he arrived first on the scene. By the time I got there the flames were mostly extinguished. The man you see in bare feet in the pictures is Chief Dent. He realized when he went to put on his fire boots at the station that someone had taken his socks out of his locker, so he had to put the boots on without socks. After a short time at the scene, he was getting blisters on his feet from wearing the boots without socks, so he took the boots off. Later on he said that he is going to keep extra sets of socks in his locker and elsewhere so it doesn’t happen again. We think that someone used the socks on a previous call and didn’t put them back yet.

fire 10 fire 11fire 6 ashley barefootThe Odum tanker truck drove past and I waved since I know some of the firefighters in that department. A couple of minutes later that truck came back and pulled into the station and the driver who introduced himself as Richard asked if I would like to go to the fire. I said I would and he let me get my camera before we left.

fire 15

We arrived on scene and the area was surrounded in smoke. It seemed that most of the flames were extinguished but there was still lots of smoke and the firefighters were coming in and out of the building. When it was safe, Richard took me around the back of the house so I could see where most of the damage was and where they were still hosing down walls. I took the picture on the top left below when I first arrived at the scene, before I got out of the fire truck. We could smell the smoke very strongly from inside the fire truck before we even opened the door.

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When we came back to the front of the house someone yelled that there are flames starting again inside the house on the upstairs floor, and there were some just under the eve of metal roof. The firefighters geared up again and went into the house while firefighters on the outside were spraying streams of water on the visible flames on the outside under the edge of the roof. It was amazing watching the crews in action. They helped each other get into and out of the gear and gave them water to hydrate them. It felt like the outside temperature is at least 90 degrees, and yet, these firefighters put on all of their protective gear and air tanks, and then carried hoses into the fire. The gear and air tanks weigh about 70 pounds. That’s the weight they carry into the fire, in addition to their own body weight. They stay in the structure about 10 or 15 minutes then come out and let others go in.

The only shade I could find to stand in was against the side of the fire truck I arrived in, at the end of the row of trucks, I wanted to stay out of the way.  I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and sandals and I was sweaty, sticky, and smoky. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be in the heavy fire gear, boots, and other items they have to wear. When they weren’t in the fire, most of the firefighters took off their fire jackets.

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When the firefighters come out of the structure, or even working on the outside of the structure, I could see how soaking wet their gear was and also so full of soot. As they took off their gear their faces showed the exhaustion and impact the weight of the gear and the heat has on them. I tried to capture this in photos so you can appreciate the sacrifice these men and women make to keep their communities safe. After they take a short break, they put on their wet, smoky, sooty gear and go back into the fire again. It really takes special people to be firefighters. If you look closely at the photos below you can see the wet gear, soot, and the exhaustion on the firefighters faces. The oxygen masks they wear make their mouths extremely dry and they are almost unable to talk until they get some water to drink. I was standing about 5 feet from these two firefighters for most of the fire, so I got to take good pictures of them gearing up and coming out of the fire taking off their gear. Remember, when they are called to go back into the fire, they have to put on this same wet, smelly, sooty gear.

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fire 1There are no fire hydrants in this area so all of the water to extinguish the fire came from the fire and tanker trucks. When they get back to their stations they will refill the tanks, unless they were able to fill the tanks on the trucks from the tanker trucks at the scene. I also learned that during the fire, several of the fire trucks had their water tanks refilled from the tanker trucks while they were fighting the fire. It seems that there are valves, hoses, and devices that allows water to flow between the trucks to ensure there is a constant water flow where it’s needed.

 

Eight departments responded to this fire, some came from about 35 miles away. There were 10 to 12 trucks on scene, including 2 tanker trucks that held 5,000 gallons of water in each truck. There were also several other tanker trucks with water. I saw several men fighting the fire that had the words Inmate Firefighter on the back of the shirt. I asked about them and I was told that there are inmates that have been trained to fight fires and that they are called out when needed and they are happy to help the fire departments. I think that’s really great that they do that. Chief Dent gave me a photo, shown above, that he took from the top of a fire truck.

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At the fire several men came up to me and introduced themselves and thanked me for what I did to help the departments get the necessary gear and equipment, Jesup Fire Chief Gene Lane was one of them. I’ve always known that these men and women work hard and sacrifice time with their families and friends, and many times leave their meals and homes to help others and fight fires. Seeing it up close today, and especially in this heat and with no hydrants handy, confirmed how important it is to make sure the firefighters have the gear and equipment necessary to protect them while they are protecting their communities and the surrounding areas. The departments that came from miles away to help their neighboring fire departments shows how close these departments are to each other. They watch out for each other and make sure they are safe.

Remember, in addition to the fire, there are chemicals from carpet, furniture, construction materials, cleaners, paint, and other materials in the house, garage, etc. Most of the time the firefighters don’t know what types of flammable and/or dangerous chemicals or gas might be in the house. They wear oxygen masks and protective gear, but remember they are in a dangerous situation every time they respond to a fire, any kind of fire, regardless of vehicle or structure. In a house, walls, floors, and roofs can collapse. These men and women continually train to keep their skills sharp and up-to-date, but the unknown and unexpected can always happen. I respect them and appreciate all they do to save lives and property in their community.

There was a man on a golf cart with two dogs. Someone told me that this house is one that the man’s grandfather lived in many years ago. I went and spoke with the man who is named Jim, and he gave me permission to take his picture. He said the house was about 94 years old, and that his grandfather Dr. Woodrow Yeomans who was a doctor, lived in it for many years before he died, and that when he was young man he lived in the house. I could see the sadness in his eyes while he watched as the firefighters sprayed water on the flames and knocked out windows so water could be sprayed. A few days after the fire, the Jesup newspaper came out and it had pictures of the fire on the front page with the headline Landmark home lost in Monday morning blaze.

When I returned to the station after the fire, I got a text message from Chief Altman saying he heard that I was at the fire. I told him I was and that I smelled like smoke. He wrote back that I’m a member of the department and I should smell like smoke like they do. It made me smile and feel like family once again. Later that afternoon, Chief Dent, Randy, and I were sitting at the station looking at pictures that they took and I took. We also discussed how many other departments came to the fire, it was 8 departments: Madray Springs, Jesup, Odum, Screven, O’Quinn, Wayne State, Anderson Drive, and Ludowici, who is in the neighboring county. I asked about how many gallons of water was used and we added up all of the tanker trucks and fire trucks and we estimated that about 20,000 gallons of water was used to put out the fire. Out of the 8 fire departments on scene, Jesup was the only paid fire department. They sent 3 firefighters with their truck. All of the other firefighters and departments are volunteer. Also, thankfully, the sheriff sent deputies to be stationed a short distance away from the fire because the fire was between two sharp curves in the road and it could have been dangerous without them there to stop traffic.

Chief Dent told me that I need to go back to Florida. He said they have had 2 structure fires this year and it happened to be both of the times when I was in town. He said he was only teasing me and that he didn’t really want me to leave. When I came through town a couple of weeks ago, I was in Ludowici for the night and Madray Springs had a structure fire. I wrote about it in a previous story. Then after I was in Madray Springs for a few days, they had this structure fire which was a large house and thankfully no one got hurt.

sunset 2A few times during the day Chief Dent went by the house to see if there were any hot spots, there were still a few areas smoking and he wanted to be sure another fire didn’t break out. Later that day, a few towns away, a lumber yard was on fire. It was a really large fire burning very hot. Many departments were called to fight that fire. Patty, Gene, Kevin, and Kathy took me to dinner in Odum that night and when we left the restaurant we noticed a really colorful sunset. They said it was also probably from the smoke from the fire that was still burning.

Tuesday night, Chief Dent, Randy, Chad, and their families came to the station and we had another cookout for dinner. Lindsay asked me if I wanted to hold Murphy again. Of course, I said I would. Several times during my stays at the fire station Chief Dent’s son Renley and Randy’s son Remington were there. They loved to play with the toy fire trucks, and water hoses. They loved being wet and playing outside with the water.

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Volunteer firefighters work so very hard, and they don’t get paid. I know that paid firefighters work very hard too, it’s the profession they chose and they get paid to do it. Many volunteer firefighters have other jobs, some are paid firefighters and others have jobs in fields other than firefighting. I feel that firefighting is in their blood, it’s their passion.

After getting to know the volunteer firefighters better from my time with them in both Georgia and South Carolina, I know how much it means to them to be a firefighter. I know from talking with other departments around the country that they feel the same.

When you see firefighters, please stop them and thank them for their service to their communities. I also stop soldiers and police officers and thank them as well. I know all of these men and women appreciate the fact that people care about them and what they do to make sure that all of us stay safe. If you can, talk with your local fire departments and ask if there is some way you can help them. Perhaps help with a fundraiser. Or, if you have a garage sale or bake sale, maybe donate the proceeds to the fire department and have a donation jar visible.

I bet most departments can use more fire hoses and nozzles. They usually come in 50 foot lengths. Look at all of the hoses used for this fire. Imagine how many feet of hose is needed to get from a  fire truck into a house, and upstairs in the house if it has an upstairs. Or to get to into the backyard. After the fire, the hoses need to get rinsed off to get the chemicals and dirt off the hose to give it a longer life. While the hose is drying, more hose is needed for the truck in case it gets a call before the other hose can be loaded onto the truck again. I got to help load the hose back onto the truck when it was dry.

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Almost all of the fire departments, especially the volunteer ones, rely on fundraisers to give them money to buy much needed gear and equipment. Perhaps find out what items the department needs, the costs vary for different items. Maybe you and some of your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even local businesses can share the cost and purchase an item they need. Remember, it might be needed one day to save your life or the life of someone you know, or one of your homes.

Words alone cannot express how much it touches my heart when a firefighter comes up to me and says thank you and gives me a big hug and says I’m wearing one of the sets of bunker gear you bought for our department. Or they show me a piece of equipment like stabilizing bars, and I hear the stories of when they used it and how it helped get people out of the vehicle safely, and also the firefighters were not injured rescuing the victims of the crash.

To read the stories of my recent visit to Ludowici, Odum, and Madray Springs Fire Departments in Georgia, and my recent visit to the New Prospect Fire Department in South Carolina, click here.

I left Madray Springs on Wednesday, June 11th, and arrived in Yulee, Florida, that afternoon. I will be here visiting Cindy for a few days then head south towards home. I may camp at some of my favorite places on the way back. It will depend on the weather and how I feel.

Posted in 2014 Trip | 2 Comments

Camping at Lake Hartwell and Dreher Lake State Park, South Carolina

Today is Thursday, June 5th. I am now in the Ludowici Library where I have Internet access, so I created a photo album with the pictures I have taken at the two parks I’ve camped at since leaving the New Prospect Fire Station, and below I have written the stories about my time camping.

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Tuesday, May 27th: I arrived at Lake Hartwell, Twin Lakes Campground this afternoon. It is a Corps of Engineer Park near Clemson, South Carolina. I have a beautiful lakeside campsite until Friday, then I have to move to a different site until Monday. I will still be able to look at the lake.

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Tuesday afternoon, after I arrived at my campsite and got set up, I ate a sandwich, relaxed, and read a book. I enjoyed looking at the lake which was calm and there was a slight breeze. A couple of hours later as it was starting to get dark a storm blew in. There were high winds, the lake had waves with whitecaps. I am parked under lots of very large trees and I prayed that the branches would stay on the trees. The rain came down very heavy, the winds got stronger, then I heard what sounded like hail. I looked out the window and saw pea size hail all over the ground. I’m glad it was only pea size and that it didn’t cause any damage. About half hour later the storm was over. I stopped at the grocery before I left the fire station Tuesday morning and bought a roast chicken. It lasted me several days, I ate chicken salad sandwiches, chicken and cheese burritos, etc.

IMG_3603Wednesday morning, I got up and tied my hammock between 2 trees in my campsite. Then I took a walk around the campground. It’s really beautiful here. At the moment it’s peaceful and quiet. I’m sure during the weekend when the campground fills up that will change. After walking for almost an hour, I came back and made something to eat, then laid in my hammock alternating between reading a book, looking at the water, watching the squirrels and bluejays, and talking with God. I really like this campground. Most of the campsites are on the water and those that aren’t many still have a view of the water.

hammockHere is a photo I took when I was laying in my hammock looking at the lake.

On Friday, I drove into town which is about a 10 minute drive so I could get some groceries and see if the thrift store had any good books. It turns out that this thriftstore is being remodeled and all of the books were tossed into a very large wire bin and I couldn’t even look through them. Since I have been not doing much except reading, I’ve read about a dozen books in the past couple of weeks. The other day the alarm went off at 9:30 a.m. I set it so I can get up to take my early dose of medicine. Then sometimes, and truthfully… often… if I don’t have to be anywhere, I go back to sleep for a while longer or just lay in bed talking with God and saying all the things I am grateful for. Anyway, Saturday morning when the alarm went off I didn’t even want to open my eyes, but I did. I took my medicine and went back to bed. Then I realized why I was so tired. I read until 4:00 a.m. At about 2:00 a.m. I only had about 75 pages left to read and I wanted to finish the book before I went to sleep. That was 4:00 a.m. So, if you look at me waking at 11:30 a.m. it wasn’t so bad, that was 7 ½ hours sleep.

The campsite I moved to on Friday, and that I would be at until I left on Monday morning, did not have any trees that I could tie my hammock to, so I sat in a chair and did my reading and relaxing. There were a few days when it rained and then I was inside the camper.

Monday morning, I got ready to leave the campground. I stopped to empty my water/waste tanks. This is my least favorite part about camping. The other is trying to get my camper level when the ground is really uneven. The dumpsite here is on a slight hill which is not the easiest, but it was okay. Emptying the tank went well, however, when I went to rinse the sewer hose the hose at the dump station sprayed and I got a bit wet. I’m glad that I always wear rubber gloves, socks, and a shirt and shoes that I change before I start driving. After I put my hoses away, I used those large saniwipes to wipe off the water and then I changed my clothes and shoes and put eye drops in my eyes just to make sure there was no contamination. Sometimes things work out great, other times there are hiccups. Sometimes the dump stations are not well placed or made easy to use.

I left Twin Lake Campground about 11:00 a.m. and headed southeast towards Columbia to Dreher Lake State Park, which is located in Prosperity, South Carolina. I don’t usually call ahead to see if campgrounds have open spaces, but I did in this case because if they didn’t I was going to stay where I was longer. Dreher Lake ranger station said they had campsites on the lake and I made reservation for a couple of days. I arrived about 2:30 p.m. It was about a 100 mile drive. I did stop at the grocery for some food to last me for a few days. I bought some ground beef, tortillas, refried beans, cheese, etc. I thought taco’s, burritos, sloppy joes, etc. would be good for a few meals. I also have LOTS of Jelly Belly’s to eat, and I bought some brownie mix so I could bake some brownies too.

I was really glad that on the drive today my check engine light did not come on again. It came on about 2 hours after I left the New Prospect fire station last Tuesday. David at Lake Bowen Auto had put some Techron fuel cleaner in my gas tank before I left hoping this would solve the check engine light that comes on occasionally. On Tuesday, after I got my campsite setup, I drove around the campground and the check engine light was not on. It went off on it’s own. Today, when I was driving, I was very thankful it didn’t come on again. David told me to let the gas tank get down to about ¼ before putting in another bottle of Techron and then fill with gas. I usually do not let the tank even get close to ½ empty before filling it. So it’s a bit scary for me to let it get this low. As of arriving at this campground, I am almost at ¼ tank. I think it is about 50 mile drive to where I will get gas, then I will put the Techron in the tank and fill it. I don’t even want to imagine the cost of filling my 40 gallon gas tank. I usually fill it every 150 or 200 miles which is a bit more than ¼ tank being used. That way it doesn’t seem so much even though that cost is around $45-$70, depending on the cost and number of gallons which averages about 15 gallons. Update, June 5th: When I finally got to the gas station, I added the Techron and then I filled the tank and it took 26 gallons of gas. I really lucked out, this Pilot gas station had the lowest price I have seen anywhere, it was $3.27 per gallon. I wish all the gas stations were this low a price. As I’ve traveled south, the average cost is now $3.60 or more a gallon. The check engine light came on again after a few hours of driving. Then when I started out again in the morning, it was not on. I am guessing and hoping that perhaps it’s a sensor error.

Anyway, yesterday when I called the campground I was given my campsite number. When I arrived at the campground there was no one at the entry gate, so I found my campsite and got set up. It’s right on the water at the edge of the lake. There are several other campers here. I saw a couple riding a golf cart and asked if they are the camp hosts. They said they aren’t and I told them I needed to check in. They told me the camp office is over the bridge at a different part of the lake. They said they would ride me over there and wait while I checked in and paid for an additional night. Their names are Pat and Robert and we had a nice talk on the ride there and back. They camp here often, and they told me about some baby ducklings that hatched a couple of days ago that are near one of the other campsites. I walked over and saw 3 baby ducks swimming, they are so cute.

IMG_3617 IMG_3620During the 2 days I was in the campground I watched the squirrels and baby and adult ducks. The squirrels sure were brave and full of spunk. They didn’t hesitate to get on top of my tires, underneath my camper, on the back step, and I even found one on the roof trying to get in my back door. When the baby ducklings and adult ducks were in the little cove area behind my campsite the squirrels didn’t hesitate to get within a few feet of them. I was about 5 feet from the ducklings when I took the photos. Mama duck didn’t seem to mind, mostly she was busy grooming herself in the water and chatting with the other 2 adult ducks who came to join them. I took lots of videos of the ducklings swimming and walking on the shore. The edge of the water is about 30 feet from the back door of my camper. It’s hard to tell, but in the bottom right photo, the baby ducks are at the edge of the water and the squirrel is towards the center. The videos are at the end of the photo album, here is one of the videos. MVI_3698

IMG_3635_1 IMG_3642 IMG_3662IMG_3668 IMG_3687 IMG_3689I cooked the ground beef, at lunch, and then set up my hammock between two trees where it would be shaded and I could look at the water. I took a shower and washed my hair, then I laid in the hammock and alternated between reading my book and looking at the water. It’s pretty peaceful here, except when the neighbors dog is barking. Later on in the evening I walked around and stopped by Pat and Robert’s campsite which is sort of across the road from mine. We had a nice chat and I told them about my website. Tuesday afternoon, Pat, Robert, and I took photos of each other next to my camper and also next to a tree that has really interesting knots and bark. Pat also took some pictures of me laying in my hammock reading and relaxing.

IMG_3705 IMG_3706 IMG_3709 IMG_3711Pat said that I should have a book with my stories. I told her that many people have suggested that to me. I even thought of doing it and having all the proceeds be donated to a charity such as rural libraries. I don’t really want to write a book. I like writing and posting it informally on my website. However, I know that many people don’t like to use computers and don’t access the Internet. Pat says she doesn’t and she would love a book. But, the book would always be out of date, as I have new experiences and adventures. There would probably have to be at least 2 volumes, current and then an update. Also, many of my photos were not taken in high resolution and would not do well to be enlarged.

I’m planning on being here until probably Wednesday, then heading east on Interstate 26 towards Georgia so I can connect with my long time friend Gary who lives about an hour or so outside of Atlanta. Then on to Savannah and stopping at Gore’s RV to have the knob installed on my air conditioner, I’m hoping it came in by now. It seems that the air conditioning unit is working. I don’t use it all the time, I still prefer the fresh air and hearing the sounds of nature when I’m in the camper rather than the sound of the air conditioner. When it’s on, I can’t hear anything outside. It’s nice hearing birds, insects, and the wind in the trees. Sometimes, if someone nearby has a campfire, I get the smell of the smoke or whatever they are cooking coming into my camper.

Wednesday afternoon, June 4th, I stopped at an RV Park off Interstate 95 in Waltersville, SC. I usually don’t stop early in the afternoon, but I decided to today. It was about 1:30 p.m. and time to take a break. This campground had showers so I took one and relaxed and read, after I ate lunch. The campground office has a section where books can be exchanged, so I swapped out 5 books I read for 5 I haven’t. I woke up about 8:00 a.m. and left the campground about 9:00 a.m. and got to Gore’s RV about 11:00 a.m. Their serviceman installed the new knobs on my air conditioner, and made sure it was working properly. Then I headed south towards Ludowici and Madray Springs, stopping for some groceries when I got here.

carol mollyI probably will not have Internet access again until I get to my friend Cindy’s house in north Florida, about June 12th or sometime around then. If I do, I will post a story or update. During the time I am here I will be relaxing and visiting with the firefighters and seeing Chief Dent and his wife Lindsay’s new baby Murphy who is now 2 weeks old.

Posted in 2014 Trip | 3 Comments