August 2022

I am planning to take another trip the beginning of September and travel through the southeastern states to go visit friends. I’m in the process of having my camper van readied for the trip. I just had two new auxiliary batteries installed and this coming week I am getting new tires. Even thought the current tires only have about 10,000 miles on them they are five years old and I would feel safer having new tires. It will be nice to take another trip, it’s been several years since I’ve traveled due to the pandemic that started in early 2020.

March of 2020 I had the camper packed except for food and medical supplies and was ready to take a trip and go north and was planning on going to see friends in states including Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Vermont, and a few others. Then the pandemic happened and I thought it would pass in a month or so. We all know that didn’t happen. I didn’t unpack my camper until sometime in October. I was hopeful I would be able to travel but it didn’t happen.

So, now hopefully I will be able to travel. My health has been a bit rocky the past month but I feel confident that another trip is going to work out the way it’s supposed to just like other years. Since it’s late in the year and will be getting cold in the northern states, even ones I am planning to visit like Tennessee, NW South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and a few others I will head that way first and work my way back south into the Carolinas and Georgia as I travel towards home in south Florida. I love going to Native Rhythms Flute Festival the 2nd weekend in November in Melbourne, Florida so that is my target date to be back in Florida. However, my plans are flexible and written in sand so perhaps I will find other places to visit and have more time with my friends I will be visiting.

Deciding what to bring on my trip will be a bit more challenging this time because since I have been home for several years and not traveling I have been making almost everything I eat from scratch and that will not be as convenient because I don’t have room to take many things I use like my KitchenAid mixer and some attachments. I will take my Ninja container which will allow me to make my smoothies and a small amount of dough for bread or crackers. And I guess a rolling pin so I can hopefully still make some pasta and roll it out with a rolling pin instead of the roller attachment for my mixer or the hand cranked pasta machine. I have a small induction cooktop, and will take my small Instapot and a toaster oven so that hopefully will allow me to make meals and snacks. It will also take up a bit of my limited space and it will be a challenge to see how I can secure these items so they don’t break. I don’t have much cabinet space and they are small and not able to store these items. My medical supplies, clothes, and some food take up alot of the cabinet space. I bring some canned items since I am not always near grocery stores.

My intent is to visit a lot of friends in the southeast so I may not be in campgrounds as much as I usually am because in previous trips I didn’t have so many people I knew around the country. In the past 2 1/2 years I have made friends all over the world and I am looking forward to meeting many of them in the southeast. So, it’s well worth missing the conveniences I have been used to having while at home full time.

My friend Pam who set up this website updated it from a www to an https site a few years ago and it changed the way I add stories and pictures. I have not experimented with adding photos since she did that but I need to try soon so I will be able to add the ones from the past several months and hopefully some from this trip. I am also a few stories behind. Last fall I was able to go up in the Goodyear Zeppelin which is a lot different from the Goodyear Blimp I went up in during 2013. I have lots of photos I took during that flight and someday I hope to get them written and posted on my website. I also went to Arnolds Wildlife Rehabilitation Center last fall. My friend Sue Arnold has a horse and donkey rescue in Vermont and she closed the wildlife center in Okeechobee, Florida. She found good homes for all of the animals. I also went to Native Rhythms Festival last November. There are stories on these places on my website from previous visits to them, you can do a search and find the stories and pictures of these three trips.

I also have lots of interesting stories and places I visited on my website along with inspirational poems and stories, stories about my mentor Lois, pictures of jigsaw puzzles, National Parks, Reidsville, Georgia and a story I wrote about a talk with God I had when I thought it was the end of my life due to health issues, you can see that didn’t happen. God has plans different than what my doctor thought about my condition. I also wrote a story in October 2013, called Seriously, Really, You Would Rather be an Ostrich? It’s about the importance of having legal documents prepared and telling your loved ones what your wishes are. Life happens and so do unexpected events.

The beginning of August I unexpectedly ended up in the emergency room because I blocked my intestines by accident. I have had that happen a few times in the 30 years I have had my Illeostomy, it’s not fun. This time, even after 12 hours, then 15 hours it did not open up and the pain was too intense to handle anymore. After 6 hours in the ER they admitted me, gave me lots of IV fluids and thankfully it opened the blockage. They kept me for 4 days, 3 of which I had a tube down my nose into my stomach. Not fun!. On the 4th day they let me go home. No food for 4 days was not easy, when I got home it took about a week to get my body to feel like it was back to whatever normal is. I have so much to be grateful for.

When I was laying in the hospital bed in so much pain, I laid on my side and visualized God holding me and comforting me and wrapped around me like a cocoon and a blanket. It helped to ease the pain and allow me to relax a bit. I learned a lot during those 4 days in the hospital about tolerance, patience, self will, wanting my way, acceptance, etc. I also saw God working in the situation and the last day late afternoon when a nurse was taking the IV needle out of my arm and I suggested using an adhesive remover to take off the sticky bandage holding the needle in place, she was gentle and caring and we started talking and I was able to give her some tips to help patients with an ostomy like I have and I was able to give her some of my products to use to help others. We had a talk about God too. I would have missed that experience. My thinking was telling them I wanted to leave early in the day and I was going to check my self out of the hospital by noon, they didn’t let me out until about 6 p.m. I found out if I checked myself out without the doctors approval then my insurance would not pay my hospital bill. So, I had to wait and try to be still and patient. I had to continue to use the prayer I have used for about 34 years… God if it be Your will can I please not do things to hurt myself anymore. It works in lots of ways. Also, God if it be Your will please put me in the place I can best use my talents and God given abilities according to Your purpose for my life. I have to remember whatever I am experiencing is a lesson and experience I am going to grow through and use to share with someone else someday. When I can get to that I am peaceful no matter what is happening in my life.

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June and July 2022

Time sure passes quickly, hard to believe it’s halfway through July already. I am keeping pretty busy talking with friends, staying active online connecting with friends around the world and making new ones. I am still baking and cooking lots of foods and trying new recipes. l even make wheat thins and graham crackers and they taste lots better and are healthier than the store bought ones.

In April I had my camper van repainted and about 2 weeks later when I went outside I smelled smoke, it was a distinct smell miles around the area. That was on a Thursday. Friday I went to the camper van which is parked about a mile away and put new tire covers on the tires. Saturday it rained. Sunday morning I went to drive the camper van and there were black streaks and black spots all over the vehicle, there was some on the car too. But it would not wash off the camper van, it did wash off the car which was painted in October. I don’t know if it was because the paint was only about 2 weeks old, or a different paint, but it was not what I expected that it would not wash off. I took it to the body shop and he didn’t know why it would not come off either. He used some lacquer thinner and it came off. My friend who details the van had to use compound to get it to look white again, and then he used a paste wax on it. So now Molly (the camper van) looks almost like new again.

Physically, I am doing okay. Still have chronic pain and some days are more intense than other days. Every now and then I have a day that is almost pain free and I am so grateful for the reprieve. I was scheduled to have out patient surgery on Monday, July 11th. I went for the COVID test on Thursday and later that day the doctors office called and said the hospital overbooked the operating room and they are rescheduling my surgery for Friday, July 15th. Hopefully it will go smoothly and not be as intense and painful as when they took a tumor out of a different part of my back several years ago. This tumor is not as deep or as big and it’s not into nerves, etc. like the other one was. It’s in a sensitive spot on the lower part of my back just on the side of my spine. Last Thursday a friend who is a massage therapist came over and gave me a really good massage loosening my muscles, tissues, etc. I was so grateful for her. We had a nice visit catching up on life and I made lunch for us.

I know I still need to write stories about going up in the Goodyear Zeppelin, Arnold’s Wildlife, and Native Rhythms Music Festival. I have to download the pictures from my camera and phone and figure out how to add the pictures to a story since it’s different since my friend updated my website from www to http. Eventually, I will get them written.

I spoke with Sue Arnold who ran Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida. She sold the land and found good homes for the animals. A few years ago she started a horse and donkey rescue in Vermont so that is her focus for the past few years.

I’m hoping to take a trip maybe in late August for a month or so to visit friends in the southeastern states. A month or so ago the building I am living in had hurricane windows in which is a blessing. I am on the 2nd floor of a 2 story building and my north windows were exposed and I didn’t have a way to put up hurricane shutters if needed. Thankfully, the past few years we have been very lucky and didn’t have any hurricanes. I hope it stays that way. Living through a category 5 and a few 4’s was not fun. Neither was living through tornadoes when I lived in Texas.

In October 2013, I wrote an important story called Seriously, Really, You Would Rather Be An Ostrich? You can search the word Ostrich and read it. It’s about the importance of having your legal documents prepared like a trust, will, DNR, living will, health care surrogate, etc. Since it has been a few years since I updated my documents, I met with my attorney the past few weeks and did what he called the Eighth Amendment which is a restatement of my trust. It consolidated all the amendments into one document and I updated the organizations where my money will be donated when I die. Since I don’t have children or a spouse, all my money is being donated to organizations and charities that are important to me and that use the money to purchase necessary equipment, preserving historical documents, and other worthwhile places. In 2013, when the doctor told me I would not live long I donated funds to rural fire departments to purchase equipment, wildlife rescues, and other places. There are many stories about a few of the places I donated because a few came to visit me or I went to see them. I have some special friends at several of the fire departments around the country.

On my website there are also lots of interesting things other then places I have visited and traveled to. There are inspirational poems and stories, pictures of jigsaws I did, stories about a mentor named Lois who had a significant positive impact in my life and helped me become the woman I am today. There are lots of stories about historical places I got to see like the Oklahoma Bombing site, a RV dealer in Amarillo who has a wonderful free museum with RVs and motorcycles from the 1930s to the 1970s, many National Parks, and lots more adventures.

There are also links in some of the stories to books I like like Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, and the Real Story of the Three Little Pigs it’s the wolf’s version. Lois loved Shel Silvestein and we would read all of these books out loud in funny voices and laugh. I love reading books out loud. It slows my mind down, I remember more of what I read. I have learned over the years to believe in and trust a God that is my Higher Power and I invite myself into God’s day because I realize and have experience that anything is possible in God’s day. I don’t invite God into my small, limited, human day. Also, my God has a big eraser and makes frequent changes to the script of my life daily. I have so much to be grateful for.

Guess that’s about it for now. No promises but I will try to get some stories and pictures from last fall posted here.

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May 2022

It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of May. Time seems to pass quickly. Not much is happening here with me. I seem to stay busy and talk with friends on the phone and do lots of things online to connect with my friends around the world. I also have been continuing to make all of the food I eat from scratch including bread, crackers, pasta, candy, etc. and I am trying lots of new recipes.

I had my camper van repainted about a month ago and she looks really nice. About 2 weeks ago I could smell smoke and the day after it rained and there must have been ash in the air because my camper van looked like a zebra white with black lines on it that would not wash off with regular car wash soap, even with elbow grease. So I am bringing it to another detail place in the morning and then have it waxed and hopefully prevent this from happening again.

Healthwise, have some things happening and still dealing with the results of many operations internally and other issues. But I have so much to be grateful for that the health stuff is a minor part of my life. This past week was 33 years ago that my mentor and a woman very special to me being who I am today died. Her name was Lois E. The things she taught me, and shared with me are what has helped me become who I am today. She has a significant positive impact on my life in the 10 1/2 months I knew her and I do my best to live life so that she would be proud of me. I still can hear her laughter and know she is watching over me and probably laughing still. I truly felt the meaning of unconditional love from Lois and I learned how to return it, not always perfectly, but I try to do my best every day.

Have some health things to get resolved, and I am still considering taking a trip in my camper van in late summer for a few months even though I probably will not have Internet/wifi much while traveling. I thought about going out west to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque again since it’s their 50th anniversary but decided that is not a great idea for me with my compromised immune system. I would want to volunteer and there are thousands of people from around the world there and no telling what I could be exposed to.

So, I might just decide to take a shorter trip and go visit friends in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and that part of the country. I will try to decide after a doctor appointment the end of June. Lots of logistics to consider and coordinate when I travel.

Until then, I will continue to use online platforms to connect with my friends around the world, cook and keep trying new recipes, and talk on the phone with my friends, and read books to relax and/or learn.

I hope all of you are doing well. I still have stories from last fall to write and photos to add like the Native American Flute Festival I went to in November along with Arnold’s Wildlife, and going up in the Goodyear Zeppelin. Hopefully, I will get around to it soon. But there are stories and pictures from those events in stories over the years and if you do a search you will find them along with inspirational poems and stories that have helped me over the years, pictures of puzzles I have done, and a few books I like like Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, and The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs, by A. Wolf. It has great illustrations and great messages of life.

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March 2022

I know that I have not written stories nor added pictures since last fall. There have been adventures and experiences I could have written about but just did not make time to write the stories and insert photos.

I am doing pretty well, still have the same health issues. Last August or September I got to go up in the Goodyear Zeppelin which is very different from the Goodyear Blimp that I got to go up in during the summer of 2013. I will try to make time soon to write the story and add photos.

In November 2021, I went to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida for a few days and then went to Melbourne, Florida for several days to Native Rhythms Flute Festival which I really enjoy because not only do I get to listen to great music, but I also get to see many friends who are artists and vendors at that event that I have attended for many years. There are previous stories for the times I went to these places and events.

So many prayers are needed for people and countries around the world, so please send prayers if you can.

In September I had my 2000 Toyota repainted and it looks like new. Last week I brought Molly, my 1998 Camper Van, in to be repainted. I am hoping to take a long trip this summer and fall. Still in the planning stage. I would like to go volunteer at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta again this year. I did it for 6 years, but not in the past few years. It’s about 2,400 miles one way and I would be dry camping for a few weeks there and I know from experience it can get really cold and I can’t run the generator a lot of the time.

If I am going to go that far west, I am praying about and thinking about if I want to drive out to California and Las Vegas before Albuquerque to visit friends there and then come back east to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and other places to also visit friends and plan my travels to see friends in so many other states on my journey. I know it will be a bit more costly than in previous years due to gas prices. In the past week gas is $1.00 more per gallon than it was last week. I’m guessing the further west I got it will be more expensive. When I traveled in 2011 and got to Oregon, I found it to be the only state where I was not allowed to pump my own gas. There was and probably still is a state law prohibiting it. I think it had something to do with ensuring jobs for workers.

As for food, I am still making almost everything I eat from scratch… crackers, breads, pasta, cookies, etc. I’m trying lots of new recipes and experimenting with different things too. Lots of new foods that I find I like.

That’s about it for now. Just wanted to let you know I am alive and doing pretty good.

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August through October Happenings

I know I am behind on writing and posting stories and photos to my website. I’m doing okay, some days are still physically challenging, not like some of my friends who have much more physical challenges than I do. Mostly, mine are pain in my abdomen from all of my operations and some in my left leg and foot from the lumbar spine degeneration. Once I am up and moving I get a lot better and the pain seems to decrease.

There are so many things I am grateful for that they override any other things happening with my body. Like a special woman in my life many years ago told me: stand up, take two steps, and say thank you God I can walk, talk, and breathe at the same time. She was not able to do that with her medical condition for about seven years. There were times it was challenging for me to do that after some operations. I try not to take it for granted that I can do these things.

Many years ago I read somethings that impacted my thinking a lot: Is today the worse day of your life? Then quit looking like it is. Another was: Live each day as if it’s your last, one of these days you are going to be right. A billboard I saw in Albuquerque said: Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die tomorrow.

Being home because of this pandemic I have been doing lots of baking and cooking and trying new recipes. Giving away lots of home made treats has put smiles on the faces of my neighbors, people at places I shop, get my vehicles worked on, and many other places. Yesterday, I made my favorite treat… chocolate, chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes. You can go to the Handle The Heat dot com website and find the recipe. I take a bit of a shortcut which works just fine. I add mini chocolate chips to the cheesecake filling, and pour about 3/4 batter into the cupcake pan and then add a spoonful of the cheesecake filling and then bake. I don’t add the extra chocolate on top after it’s baked. I make them as mini cupcakes and freeze most of them then eat frozen when I want a snack. I also use silicone cupcake liners which makes the cupcakes come out easy.

In September, I got to use the certificate I won in an auction to raise scholarships for students to go to college. It was for two seats on the Goodyear Zeppelin, it used to be the Goodyear Blimp, but the new Zeppelin is much better. There are so many differences that made it a much more enjoyable ride. In 2013, I got to go up in the Goodyear Blimp twice which was really fun and especially since I got to share it with some friends. My mom was still alive then so she and my sister joined us.

I have lots of photos and will write more about it hopefully soon. In the beginning of October I think it was, I went camping for two and a half days to Johathan Dickenson State Park and it was nice to get away and be with nature and in the fresh air. I was able to hook my hammock between two trees and read a book laying in the hammock which is one of my relaxing things I like to do while camping whenever I can find trees to use, which is not often at most campgrounds. Weather permitting, I am hoping and planning to go to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida, about 100 miles north of me for a few days. I love going there and seeing the animals and helping to feed them. Also, the camels like to let me pet them through the fence. There are several stories and lots of pictures of my previous visits there.

That’s about it for now. Hope to write more and write the story about the Goodyear Zeppelin ride and camping soon. You can search this site for my 2013 Goodyear Blimp experiences.

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June and July 2021 Happenings

It’s hard to believe it’s the beginning of June 2021. The past year or so has passed quickly, as do all days it seems most of the time. It seems like a shorter time since I last wrote a post here. Not much has been happening. I have not gone on any trips, other than driving my camper van (named Molly) up the highway every few weeks to keep her running well and moving the gas in the tank and the tires. I saw a bit of rust around the front windshield so I brought the camper van to a window and glass place and they took the windshield out and brought it to a body repair place down the street from them to have the rust spots removed and fixed, or whatever it is they do for that. Hopefully, or some I am told, on Tuesday they will put the windshield back in. Then, sometime after that I will take Molly for a ride up the interstate.

I have some friends on the west coast of Florida, and further north than me that I may at some time go visit. I also found out that a campground I like about 200 miles north of me has reopened. It’s called Manatee Hammock and I have written several stories and posted photos of my stays there. It’s on a lagoon across from Cape Canaveral and one time I got to see a rocket launch happen. That was pretty cool. I also bring lots of bags of unsalted peanuts to feed the squirrels who are very brave and will come up to me to get them and when I run out they jump against my chair and get on my camper looking for more. One time I made peanut butter sandwiches to feed them when I ran out and one squirrel went on the table behind me and picked up a whole sandwich and began eating it. There is a picture in one of the stories from Manatee Hammock.

Other than that, I occasionally go to the grocery store and the rest of the time I am reading, talking to friends on the phone, sending text messages, and sharing with friends I have made around the world on one of the media platforms. This pandemic has opened an entire new world for me and so many people. I am getting to meet people I would never have had the opportunity to meet and learn about their lives and share mine with them. I love having friends all over the world.

As for a health update: Things are still about the same. Some days the pain is a bit more intense than other days. I wish I had a clear front rather than skin so I could see what’s going on inside. Some days it feels like the tumor is getting more tangled with my scar tissue, adhesions, organs, etc. I know things are moving around in there because some days it feels like my lungs and liver are bruised again from being pressed into my ribs. This only lasts about a week or so until they get back to whatever it was that’s called my new normal.

Since once again Humana denied the approval of my medicine, I filed what I thought was my last appeal it’s to a Medicare Administrative Judge. I had to do this in 2018 and that Judge approved my medicine, Humana accepted his decision until this year. So I filed my appeals again and on May 20th had my hearing before a different Medicare Judge. I got the decision a few days ago at the end of June. This judge denied approval of my medicine. I called the 2018 judges office and they said there is nothing I can do, but there is a higher Judge to appeal the decision to. It turns out this new judges office did not send me the Notice of Decision with the date, nor did they send me the Appeal form so I called and asked for it and it’s supposed to be sent to me next week after July 4th weekend. So, I will do the paperwork, go to my doctors office to coordinate with them and file my last appeal and hopefully it will be approved. Humana only approved my medicine until July 9th, so I have to start a new request for approval of my medicine, while still appealing the decision that I started in January and February for the medicine. It’s quite frustrating for me and I am trying my best to let God have the outcomes and to just do my part and let God do God’s part. I am learning more about patience and letting go of outcomes and being ok no matter what.

Otherwise, I am still experimenting with foods I cook, and trying new recipes for desserts. I have a sweet tooth and as a result of eating more since I am home most all the time, and not going to the gym since this pandemic, I have gained weight. It’s too hot to be out walking. I have my car in the spot where I park Molly so no one will take it. I like that spot because it’s mostly shaded from the hot afternoon sun. So I have not had my car to drive for 2 weeks since I brought Molly to the glass place. My friend took me to the grocery the other day and there is one about .6 mile from me if I want to walk to it which I have done a few times this past year. I know I need the exercise.

I tried a new recipe for English muffins a few weeks ago and they came out delicious and I finished them last night. I might have to make them again. This morning I made a cheesecake which is really easy with a recipe I have had for 50 years. It doesn’t seem that I had it that long, but I have to remember in September I will be 71. I am getting more gray hairs and I won’t dye my hair because I know I would not keep up with it and also I have earned every one of these gray hairs!!! I heard a local sheriff a few years ago at our American Cancer Society Relay For Life event, we were both cancer survivors telling our survivor story that year. He said he doesn’t think of it as being a survivor. He thinks of it as being a conqueror. I like that and adopted it for my life too. I didn’t sit passively by and let life happen again. I worked, prayed, took actions, and conquered life and the challenges that presented themselves as does happen by being alive. Here are some of the breads and foods I have been making. I have also been having fun using the 50 different colors of nail polish I bought last year when Tuesday Morning had a big sale on Sephora nail polish. I make all of my own bread, pasta, and crackers along with other foods.

I read something a long time ago that said: I ask God for strength and God gives me difficulties to overcome to make me stronger. God also gives me pop quizzes often. Like when I was in school and a teacher would give us a pop quiz to see what we learned. God gives me pop quizzes to see what I know and learned and how I apply it to my life. I am so very grateful for the life I have been given, for the people who have been my mentors and teachers. Everyone teaches me something. Some teach me what to do and how to be, others teach me what not to do and how not to be. Sometimes the ones that teach me how not to be give me a stronger lesson. If I want to be different than them I have to act differently.

Many years ago I heard a speaker and she asked what would we like our epitaph to be? I gave it a lot of thought for quite a while. I decided I want mine to be: My life made a positive difference. I want to have made a difference in the life of others and the world or whatever area my life touches. I try to live up to that. I don’t always succeed, but I do my best most days. Some days I have all I can do to just walk through life, or sit on the sofa and that’s okay too. It’s like a savings account. Some days I can make deposits, and other days I need to make a withdrawal. As long as I maintain a positive balance I know I will be okay. When I had operations and had to ask for help it was difficult. I was asked by a special woman in my life named Lois many years ago: What does it feel like to do for others? I replied that it feels good, I like helping others. Lois’s reply was if I don’t let others help me I am depriving them of that feeling. It changed the way I look at asking for help. It’s still not easy but if I remember the things that Lois taught me and try to live so that she would be proud of me I know I am on the right path. She passed away May 17, 1989 and Lois still has an impact on my life every day. I am so grateful that God put our God put our lives together for the time that God did, even though it was too short, 10 1/2 months, it was the way it was supposed to be.

That’s about it for now my friends. Abundant blessings and love always.

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April and May 2021

Seems time passes quickly and I have not added a story in a while. Not much has been happening due to the restrictions of Covid. I go to the grocery store every now and then, usually every other week. I keep lots of food on hand so I have been doing creative cooking and baking. Trying new recipes I find on the Internet or in my cookbooks and food magazines. When I go to the grocery, I look at the food magazines to see if there are any that have lots of recipes I would use. Most of them have recipes I wouldn’t make, especially breakfast ones. I have never been a breakfast eater. I don’t like eggs, unless they are in something and mixed with things so I don’t taste the egg. It’s the same with milk. I remember when I was a child at least once a week my mom would make me drink a glass of milk. I never liked the taste of it. When I am in Texas my friends have cows and that’s the milk they drink. They wanted me to try it and I can’t even think about trying it. It’s the same with Jello. Due to all of my abdominal surgeries sometimes Jello and other clear liquids were the only food items I could have for long periods of time. I only used to like red jello, and I couldn’t eat it because of the dye, the nurses said it would color my output and they limited me to lemon or lime jello which I didn’t like. To this day I cannot eat Jello, it won’t even go down my throat. I also don’t like soup broth unless I use it in rice or gravy or something like that.

I’ve been making different types of breads, cakes, etc. trying new recipes and they came out pretty good. The other day I made a chocolate pudding pie. I thought I cooked the pudding long enough for it to set up firm. I thought I used the correct amount of cornstarch as a thickener, but evidently I didn’t use enough or cook it long enough. My pie tasted really good, but it didn’t slice well. I ended up scooping the crust, chocolate pudding, and meringue into a bowl to eat it. Still it tasted delicious. I also make something like cheesecake bars with a crust, but it was made with yogurt and it was a recipe I will make again.

Otherwise, not much happening here. My outings are occasionally grocery stores, once I am out I go to a few on the same day to limit exposure being out multiple times. So, I buy extra items to have more handy so I don’t need to go to the store often. It’s nice to get out. Over the years I have made friends at the local grocery stores so when I go there we catch up on life. I also bring the various departments some of my baked goods like cookies and bread and they love it.

The beginning of April I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. They said they are careful and sanitize everything after each patient. About 2 weeks after my visit, I got a sore scratchy throat, low grade fever, and had a stuffy nose. I took lots of vitamins and stayed home and didn’t go out for a few weeks and within about a week it went away. I didn’t want to go to the doctor for a COVID test, that would just expose me to more germs. During this time the primary grocery I use had the wild caught shrimp on sale. I didn’t want to go out with a sore throat and low grade fever because I didn’t want to give whatever I had to anyone. I called the seafood/meat department and told the person I know in that department the situation and I was told that whenever I come in they will honor the sale price for me. So about 2 weeks later when I was well I went to the grocery and the manager said he knew about the shrimp price. It turns out they didn’t have any in stock. So, when I make room in my freezer for it they will order it for me. I usually buy two 2 pound bags frozen. It makes for lots of options for a quick meal.

I still have not figured out how to import photos into my stories yet since my website was updated by my friend to make it more secure. I also have not really spent time to research it. I also have to connect a cable from my phone to my computer to upload the pictures of the foods I took with my camera to put them in a file on my computer so I can access them. Hopefully, I will get to it soon. I have to admit, it has not been a priority. I had an issue with my phone several weeks ago where it would not let my camera work, nor could I use the video option. I use some of the online meeting platforms to connect with my friends and I was using my phone so we could talk and see each other. Often I use my computer so we can talk and see each other, but sometimes the phone is more handy. I ended up calling the company that makes the phone, since Sprint said it’s not their issue. After quite a long time with the Samsung rep, we got the camera to work again, but not the video. After a week or so it stopped working again. I ended up deleting almost every app off my phone to free up more space and rebooted my phone, cleared cache’s which caused me to lose some info and also I had to input codes, etc. on some other standard apps on my phone. I had to reinstall Firefox and try to remember the sign in codes, etc.

Due to the charging port not working on my tablet that is about 5 years old and still working except for that, I bought a new tablet and it is different and even though it is a little larger, the screen looks different. Firefox operates differently. On my older tablet Amazon stays on so I can download my Kindle books easily. On the new tablet, even though I select the option when I sign in to stay connected, it doesn’t. Then I have to log in all over again every time I want to use it to locate a book. I had taken advantage of the offer of 3 free months of Kindle Unlimited, then it would go to $9.99 a month, so I cancelled before they would charge me. Then 2 days later they offered a half price sale for 6 months, so I signed up for that so I could read more books and finish some series. I checked several local libraries and many of the authors I like are only available on Amazon or from the author directly. I sent a message to an author I like who is not in Kindle Unlimited and I didn’t want to spend $5 for a book to find out what happens in the next book. She informed me that she doesn’t put her books in Kindle Unlimited because if she did she wouldn’t be able to post the book anywhere else. It seems that many authors offer the first book in their series for free, but charge for the other books. They get you hooked and to find out what happens you have to buy the books. There are a few that I have bought the rest of the books in the series because I really want to know what happens. Other ones I use my imagination. I even tried using my imagination, then ended up buying the rest of the digital books and I was often not even close to correct for the twists and turns the author created in her storyline. But, it’s fun to make up my own endings too. So, there are still several stories that I have no way to know what happened, how the story evolved and ended. I just go on to other books and after a while I don’t even remember much about the book.

There are several series I read that have other books coming out several months later in their series. By then, even though I read the previous books I don’t remember the details of the previous books in the series. Sometimes the authors catch up the reader with tidbits of the previous books, but not always. It’s okay, once again…. use my imagination. Other times, I might wait to read a series until more books come out. There is a first book in a series I really liked, there were 2 more books in that series. I contacted the author to tell her I really liked here first book in the series and I am going to buy it, but asked if the story was finished in the 3rd book. She said no, she is going to have another couple of books in the series, so I will wait. It was intriguing, it was a treasure hunt, mystery, murder, etc. so good. I have to check if the other books came out, after I remember who the author is. I write the authors name and books I read, but when I started I had no idea I would read almost all the books by an author before going on to the next one. So, my notes are written really small, without spaces between them. I figure it out the best I can and once in a while I start reading a book and when it sounds familiar remember I already read it.

I read a really good mystery sometime early last year and the author had the first in his series free, other books had to be purchased at $4.99 each for many books. I read a book in a day or two usually and didn’t want to pay $about 50 for a series, and no it is not at the library. So, I didn’t finish the series. I saw the other day that it looks like that series is now in Kindle, so I will read it after I finish the author I am currently reading. And yes, I will most probably have to reread the first book so I remember what happened before the book left off at the suspense ending.

I had no idea what I was going to write when I started this article. My thought was to just put a quick update saying I am okay to let you know I am alive and well. It seems when I start writing that I never know what is going to come out. My stories just evolve as I start writing. I have some other tings to do this morning so I will try to come back sometime soon and finish this story, and perhaps even figure out how to add pictures of some foods I have been making and taking pictures of, even if I have to connect my phone to the computer to do it.

Thank you for making time to explore my website. There are lots of interesting stories and many albums of photos of places I visited. I would suggest you start at the bottom right in June 2011 and go forward to see how my journey evolved and how as I learned how to add pictures more showed up in the story without having to click on the photo album tab. A few years ago Google stopped supporting Picasa where the photos were easily available and put them in Google photos. So I had to go back into over 70 stories, create a link and put it in each story. It was really time consuming, but I made time to do that so the pictures were available in the stories. There is a travel map button on my website so you can see the route I took each year I took a trip.

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Altamont, Tennessee, Hunter’s Ridge, Unit 3, on Gap Road

A lovely, peaceful, scenic, wooded piece of property on the Cumberland Plateau in Altamont, Tennessee, which is in Grundy County. Hunter’s Ridge, Unit 3. It is approximately 5 miles from the town of Altamont where the Grundy County Courthouse and numerous businesses are located. There are also several businesses closer to the property. Land in Hunter’s Ridge is parceled in a minimum of five acre tracts. Altamont is approximately 55 miles northwest of Chattanooga, and about a three hour drive northwest of Atlanta. It’s also about 78 miles from Nashville. Taking back roads it’s about an hour and a half driving time.

This is a beautifully wooded piece of land, and I had a gently curved gravel road put in on the northwestern side of the property going about 3/4 of the way back. Here is a link to a photo album of pictures I took a few years ago in both the summer and fall. Because of the thick brush, I wasn’t able to see all the way back into the property, that’s why I had the road put in close to the side boundary. Also, by visiting there in two different seasons, it shows what the land looks like with and without leaves on the trees. There are several nice locations on the property to place a house and still leave lots of tall trees around it for shade. This is one of the nicest pieces of property in Hunter’s Ridge, it sits high on the plateau and it’s close to owning a bluff view property.

Here is a link to the photo album which contains over 100 pictures.

There are several photos in the album which were taken in the surrounding area, but are not on my piece of property such as the pictures with waterfalls and ponds, and a few that show an overview of the tops of trees looking out over the valley. These were taken a few miles from my property. I have seen wild turkeys and deer walking around the property, and also there are wild berry vines on the property. The pictures showing cattle grazing on a hill or really it’s a mountain, are taken looking out from the back of the property, using the zoom feature on my camera.

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February and March 2021

It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since the world changed due to what is called a Pandemic. I have not taken a trip in two years!!! I was planning a trip last year and even had my camper van mostly packed. Finally, in August or September I decided to unpack the clothes and other items I started putting in the camper for a trip, realizing that I would not be going anywhere.

So, I have been staying home cooking, baking, talking on the phone, reading books, and sometimes taking an online exercise class or going for a walk. Every 2 or 3 weeks I take my camper van for a drive to keep it running well. When I go to the grocery stores every week or two I try to go to the few that I go to all on the same day to avoid more exposure to Covid and other germs. I am not going to get the vaccine. I don’t have any comfort level with it.

As for photos, I do have a few of foods I have made, but I haven’t tried to figure out how to add them into this revised version of WordPress yet. Maybe I will sometime. I have been trying lots of new recipes and improvising with others that I have made before.

Many years ago, when I lived in Texas, Macaroni Grill had an appetizer on the menu that they removed a long time ago. It was called Italian Nachos. It was so good it’s sad they removed it. I found several recipes on the Internet for it, but mostly they use wanton wrappers or tortilla chips as the base. Macaroni Grill used fried pasta dough pieces. I make my own pasta every now and then, so I made pasta sheets and cut them into squares and triangles, brushed them with a little oil and instead of frying them in oil, I put them in the air fryer until they were crisp.

That worked really well. Then I made a simple Alfredo sauce which I used for many dishes and even froze some for another time. To make the Italian Nachos I put the chips on a dish, added the Alfredo sauce, some cooked chicken and/or sausage, tomatoes, yellow peppers, olives, Asiago and Parmesan cheese and whatever else you may want on top. Then cook until hot and bubbly. It’s so good and very addictive. I still have been baking my breads, cookies, crackers, etc.

I also love to eat hamburgers stuffed with blue cheese. Putting any cheese or toppings between 2 hamburger patties and sealing all the edges is a special treat. Instead of the cheese and other stuff falling off the top of the burger, when bitten into the hamburger with the fillings inside it’s soft and juicy.

That’s about it for now. I did go get my eye exam and unlike last year when my vision changed, this year it’s about the same. This is good so I didn’t have to buy several pairs of new glasses like I did last year.

I have been traveling around the world meeting lots of new people on a platform called Zoom. I now have friends in so many states in the US, and many countries around the World. It’s been interesting trying to figure out all of the different time zone conversions. Especially since some states and countries either change the time or don’t change it. For example, the United Kingdom changes their clocks the end of March whereas the United States changes it the middle of March. Countries like India don’t change it at all.

Yesterday, I made bread. Today I am planning on making wheat thin crackers again. I haven’t made them in a few months and I like to snack on crunchy foods at night. I did make soft pretzels last week and I freeze some to eat over time. When I make wheat thins I usually make a quadruple batch because it’s very time consuming and while I am making a mess I make enough to last several weeks. For what would be 1 box of wheat thins in the store, I can make almost 3 pounds of my own and they have less salt and no chemicals. It’s really only butter, flour, and whatever spices I add and a dash of vanilla extract. I use different spices like smoked paprika, rosemary, sage, thyme, or whatever else to change it up. I don’t like spicy foods so I don’t add chili powder or anything like that.

I guess some of you are wondering how my health is since I have not written about it in a while. My checkup in January was good. My thyroid level is normal again, and I didn’t even take medicine the doctor wanted me to take last year. I did use some thyroid vitamins for a while. Maybe that helped, or my body did it on it’s own. My insides hurt a bit more again. Usually in the mornings when I wake up. I do take my medicine but it wears off sometime during the night. Once I get up out of bed and start moving I feel better and the pain mostly lessens. It’s just some days it’s challenging to want to move and get up and it may take me a while to get motivated to move and get out of bed. It’s all good. It’s not near as bad as it was from 2010 through 2015. I have not gone back to the neurologist nor had another MRI done to check the tumor in my pituitary gland. It’s evidently not affecting my vision and I don’t want brain surgery again. I don’t think of my tumors as connected to my body. I pretty much ignore then and if I think of them I tell them they are not wanted and I don’t let them affect my thinking.

There are so many things I have to be grateful for… the list is so long it would fill pages. I have been thinking about my friend and mentor Lois who was confined to bed the last 7 years of her life with a third of a lung on oxygen. If she laid really still most days she could breathe. She would continually tell me to stand up, take 2 steps and say thank you God that you can walk, talk, and breathe a the same time. She could not do that. Some days I wasn’t able to do that either and most days I can.

A few years ago when I was more active I did lots of really interesting and unusual jigsaw puzzles. I still have several I have not done yet. You can do a search on my website for jigsaw puzzles to see some that I have done over the years. Also, search inspirational poems and stories to read some that have helped me over the years. There are a few stories I wrote about Lois and things she taught me which have changed my life and perspective on life. Such as keeping an attitude of gratitude. She would ask me almost daily… what are you grateful for? Especially in challenging times.

That’s about it for now. Best wishes to everyone.

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January 2021

Wow!!! It’s difficult to believe it is the beginning of a new year. A few years ago I had no idea I would be alive to see this year, nor the past 7 years. If you have been following my story you might remember that in May 2013 my doctor at the time told me I would not live to the end of the year, definitely not 2 years. Now it’s almost 8 years later and I am still here. Not only that but the constant intense pain I was in from 2010 through 2016 has lessened considerably and some days it minimum, thankfully. I am on some medication to help take the edge off the pain, but it doesn’t effect my mental thoughts for which I am very grateful.

Other than talking with friends on the phone, and using some media technology applications that provide video and sound, I have been reading lots of books on my tablet and making delicious meals and desserts. I’m trying lots of new recipes and experimenting with recipes I wanted to try for a long time. I am getting braver and making foods that are complicated and time consuming. I also recently was told about Amish Friendship Bread and it needs a starter to be made which takes 10 days before it’s ready to be used. I have since made it twice and once kept it alive for 20 days. I made some almond cookies, chocolate chip cake, and soft pretzels with the starter and I also gave 5 cups away, one cup each to 5 different people so they can try this starter with whatever recipe they want. I found a website that has about 100 different recipes for the starter.

I have a learning curve with my website since earlier last year. My friend Pam who set up this website for me in 2011 updated it so that it will be more secure and as a result the screen looks very different and it is different to try to upload photos. In all honesty, since early last year I have sort of been lazy in the way that I have been using email and Internet. Instead of taking my computer out of the computer bag and setting up my laptop, I have been using my phone, just because it’s handy and easier. So I only put quick posts on this website. Two days ago I unpacked my computer and set it up and installed a program so I can use the computer to visit with friends and see many of them at a time on the screen, rather than my phone which only lets me see 4 of us at a time. What a nice difference. Now I wish I did it 9 months ago.

I still have to figure out how to add photos and I also need to one day connect my phone so I can upload pictures from it to my computer. It’s progress, not perfection. Sometimes it takes me a while of procrastination before I actually get something done. From October until December I took advantage of Amazon offering Kindle Unlimited service to me again like they did over the summer, except it was $5 for 2 months rather than free. So since there are so many books I wanted to read and not as much time to read them, my priority was reading. Especially since due to this quarantine I was not going anywhere or doing anything exciting. Now a week or so ago, they offered 3 free months. So I am taking advantage of that.

I have found several authors that I like and am trying to read all of their books. A few authors I like had free books on Amazon. However, I found out that after their first book since they are not on Kindle Unlimited I would have to purchase the books. A few I did buy, others I only read the free short excerpts which gave a glimpse of what happens but not the details or outcomes. I use my imagination which I know is not the true happenings in the story. I did write a few of the authors to tell them how much I really enjoyed their stories and especially if there was something I identified with. A few wrote back and two even sent me the books after the free one in a series so I could read what really happened. In exchange, I surprised them sending them lots of my favorite recipes. I feel like we bartered, I don’t like to take advantage of anyone. That’s about it for now. One day, eventually, I will connect phone and computer and post photos when I figure it out.

Many years ago I had a Garfield the cat cartoon that I liked. It showed Garfield shackled spread eagle to a dungeon wall with chains. The caption read: Someday I am going to look back at this and laugh. Many times in my life I thought about that as I lived life. Including in 2010 and years after when I had those 4 operations and the pain and complications that came as a result of them. Also many other life experiences that were challenging and/or painful. I try to always be grateful no matter what. Lois a mentor I had from June 1988 to May 1989 taught me to always be grateful no matter what. She would tell me to stand up, take 2 steps and say thank you God that I can walk, talk, and breathe at the same time. Lois was unable to do that. She was on oxygen, had 1/3 of a lung, and was on oxygen the last 6 years of her life. You can search Lois, and also inspirational poems and stories. I wrote a few stories about my time with Lois and what she taught me that still has a strong impact on my life even today.

That’s it for now. I have so much to be grateful for. My gratitude list is extremely long.

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