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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July through November 2020

Due to the quarantine I’m not able to go anywhere. My camper was half packed. I had everything except for food and medical supplies in my camper and ready to leave on a trip when the quarantine for Covid 19 hit and I decided not to go anywhere to stay safe at home.

So I have been reading books on my tablet, cooking different foods and try a new recipes and sharing them with friends and Neighbors, and talking on the telephone.   It’s hard to It’s hard to believe it’s already November and the end of the year is rapidly approaching. 

The good part is I have been able to reconnect using different online applications and able to visit with friends in different states and make new friends in states that I have not been to .  So that’s been interesting.  I just decided to add I just decided to add this post so you know I am still alive and doing okay for the most part still have some health issues but I’m surviving them and I’m grateful for so many things I have so much to be grateful for and I feel very blessed and humble. I wish all of you good health and happiness always.

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April through June 2020

Due to the Covid-19 quarantine  I am still at home. I was hoping to leave in early April on a trip for several months but it seems that it will not be possible to take a trip for a while.

I have been home reading books online, and cooking and baking and trying new recipes. The gym that I went to discontinued their fitness classes, but last week my gym instructor Shon associated with a new gym and is doing some online fitness classes, so now I’m getting some exercise 3 days a week thankfully.  I am using my phone to update my website because I haven’t written since March. I will try to turn my computer on sometime soon and add some pictures of foods that I’ve made. I’ve been experimenting and trying new recipes including some that are a bit more challenging than my normal ones.

I hope everybody is doing well through this change in our New Normal.  The good thing is through using Zoom and WebEx I’ve been able to reconnect with friends in Texas which has been really nice. Check back in a while and hopefully I’ll have written something within a week or so.

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March 2020 and a new trip starting hopefully in April

It seems the year is rolling along and time seems to pass quickly. It’s hard to believe it’s the end of March already. I finally wrote two previous stories for my activities of September through February. In addition to going to the gym five days a week, reading LOTS of books, and going to the events I wrote about in the posts prior to this one, I am still cooking, baking, and making almost everything I eat from scratch. I don’t want to eat all of the cookies, bread, and other things I make so I share it with my friends and other people I know through places I go to like the grocery store, mechanics, doctors office, and other similar places.

I am still having some health issues, but I think my body is finally settling in to trying to get back to a somewhat normal rhythm. Starting this past fall my body was doing strange things, even for me. My heart was beating differently like fluttering and beating hard when I was sitting and reading, headaches were severe, severe pain in my lower back pain from my arthritis in my lumbar spine, intense pain in my left hand and arm, and a few other issues. Since my four operations in 2010, I have been having some serious and intense health issues, and pain, which I have written about periodically. I decided to get massages at least once a month, sometimes more often. I am worth spending the money and I think it’s been helping me. A friend of mine is a massage therapist, so she comes over so I don’t have to go to her studio. We get to visit for a while before my massage and I make us something to eat for after and we have a nice time catching up on life and our adventures and activities.

Christmas Eve night I ended up in the emergency for four hours due to extremely high blood pressure and a severe headache which I also had when my blood pressure was normal. I have been to more doctors and different types of doctors in the past three months than in the past two or three years. I even went and had my eyes checked and found out I needed to get new glasses since my vision got worse. By the time the doctor ordered a heart monitor and it was put on me my heart decided to start working okay and nothing showed being wrong with my heart, which is a great thing.

I went to a neurologist and she ordered an MRI of my brain and Pituitary gland to see if we can find why I got such bad headaches. I have to go back to her the end of this week for the results, however, when I went to my primary doctor the other day he said one of the things the MRI showed is that there is a micro adenoma (tumor) in my Pituitary gland. It’s very small thankfully, this could be the cause of some of my health issues and my thyroid levels being elevated. In 1982, I had surgery on my Pituitary gland since there was tumor growing in it and putting pressure on my optic nerve. It took about 18 months of tests and waiting for the tumor to grow to a size that the doctor felt it was time to operate. We are not close to that size, however, I don’t think I will go through that surgery again, it took it’s toll on my body functions and it was a little over a year recouperation time.

I know medicine has changed a lot since then. I am not concerned about this tumor. I am going to think about it like the other tumors and cysts I have now, including the large tumor in my abdomen. I don’t give them permission to be in my body. I think about them as a ball that is there, but, not attached to any organ, nerve, tissue, etc. even though I know they are. I ignore them, except when they cause pain or complications, even then I still do my best to ignore them. I visualize them gone. Something is working, the abdominal tumor has not grown in 22 months, according to the CT scan I had in January.

I am still drinking my glass of celery juice I make almost every morning and it’s helped my back pain be lessened and on many several days gone, thankfully. It’s not fun waking up with pain in several places in my body every day and not wanting to move or get out of bed. But, I make myself do it every day even if I don’t want to. Until 2010, whenever I had operations they were not four in one year, I was younger, and after several months the pain would be gone and my body was normal, whatever that is. Since 2010, that has not been the case. I have been in almost constant pain and have had health issues and complications. I have a new normal, and it changes from time to time for a different new normal. I didn’t write about it for several years, only my close friends knew what I was dealing with and going through.

Then one of my close friends who also has serious health issues told me I should write about it on my website to give hope to others. So, I went back to the beginning of my stories in 2011 and added wording about my health issues and pain. So for the past few years I write about it every now and then like this story to show that no matter what we deal with we can still live life to the fullest that we can.

Perhaps we have to modify our activities, but life still happens and we can have fulfilling experiences. I refuse to be a victim and just sit and feel sorry for myself and let life happen. I choose to be proactive and live life as best I can. Some days it’s more than on other day. But I do push myself and not just sit feeling down or get depressed. It’s been ten years now that I have been going through almost constant pain, some days a lot more intense than other days. Thankfully, it’s now four days that I have not had a headache or back pain after having it for several months. My heart is pumping correctly, my blood pressure is under control. I still have other issues, and now this new tumor but it will all work out the way God has it planned.

My part is to continue to keep a positive attitude, look for all of the things I have to be grateful for… which are so very many. I focus on the positive. There are days that I tell God that I am tired of the pain and limitations I have, but then God puts people in my life that have more serious issues than I do, whether it be physical, monetary, or spiritual. Sometimes it’s so I can share the message of hope and gratitude. It shows me and confirms that I still have a purpose to be alive. It also gives me hope and inspiration.

I did not go on a trip in my camper van last year due to some health issues. I decided it’s time to take another trip this year. I am not going to let my health issues control my life again. As in previous years, I can hurt anywhere. There are three fire chiefs that stay in touch with me and a mechanic friend I made near one of the chiefs. They have been asking me to come visit them again since it’s been several years since I visited them. I think that is a great thing to do this year.

I have started getting ready for this trip. I had mechanical work done on my camper van to get it ready for the trip. I am hoping that there are no issues this year, even minor ones, but I know that if something happens I will be in a place or situation where it can be resolved. It seems every trip I take that something needs attention, my experience is that God has never left me stranded. One year the back step motor went out when the step was down, another was windows leaking water, or the refrigerator or air conditioner stopped working. In 2017, the transmission decided to stop working with no warning, another time it was minor needing to replace the auxiliary batteries. Maybe this year all will be well.

I know that God is in charge and has taken care of me all along the journey. I have driven about 80,000 miles in the camper van in the 15 years that I have owned it. My camper van had 25,000 miles on it when I bought it in 2005, and it was 8 years old. Now she is 22 years old and I am sure she has enjoyed the adventures and experiences we have had together. We have had some amazing and wonderful experiences as we traveled around the United States. Since 2011, I have documented the journey in my camper and my life and it’s nice every now and then to look back and read a story and look at pictures in the albums. There are some things I forgot about, one was holding a baby alligator at the fire station in Georgia. Or I look at pictures and remember the experience and feeling like standing in the snow at Crater Lake, Mount Ranier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

The long trip I took and went away for a few months was the summer of 2018 when I helped a family in north Florida on their farm. That was great and I had a kitchen to use because I also cooked meals and ate with the family and had a washer and dryer to use. Unless I am at a friends house, I wash my clothes and towels in a bucket and hang them on a chair to dry. If there is no shower house where I am camping I wash my hair and me using a hose at a faucet, and use a washcloth to was me. I used to go to a laundromat but found I didn’t like doing that and waiting hours for the clothes to be washed and dried.

So, since I now make all of my food from scratch I was trying to figure out how to do it as I travel in my camper van. I can’t take my Kitchenaid Mixer and attachments or my Vitamix because they are too large, as is my air fryer oven and my 6 quart pressure cooker. So, I bought a small 3 quart instapot pressure cooker and have been using it and it will work in my camper if I have electric, and maybe also operate on my generator, which won’t work for my air fryer oven since it is a more powerful voltage.

I have a Ninja master prep with three different size containers and I have been using it at home to see if it will work for my needs. I used it to make my celery juice, it doesn’t grind it as fine as the Vitamix, but it is okay to drink. I used it to make a cake batter, bread, and several other things I eat and I think by bringing two containers of the Ninja I can make foods almost the same as I do with the Kitchenaid and Vitamix. I will bring my hand crank pasta maker so I can make pasta and crackers. I only have a small toaster oven that will work in the camper with my generator, or electric if I have connections. It’s small and works fine, I have used it to bake desserts and chicken, fish, meat, etc. I would like to take my larger toaster oven, but space is an issue and so is how to run it if I am not plugged into electric.

It’s going to be fine and I am up for the challenge. I will also bring a few canned goods like chicken, soup, beans, pumpkin, etc. Of course I will bring flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and other things to bake with. I am bringing my silicone baking cups that I can use in my toaster oven rather than taking muffin pans that take up more space. I think washing the items may be more of a challenge unless I am at a campground. I have some meat and fruit along with some food I made and froze to put in my tiny freezer to eat while traveling. While visiting the fire chiefs they said I could use their kitchens to make food if I would like to. Also, in Georgia at the fire station, like the last time I was there they let me use the shower and stay in their break room to watch television and cook. When I am at the fire stations, we usually have a cookout which is great fun.

Evidently, Google and/or WordPress made some changes and I can’t figure out what I need to modify, but it seems that I won’t be able to update my travel map buttons to show my route anymore. It was nice being able to see the routes I took for each trip. I still use maps and my GPS as I travel. Every night and morning before I head out to a new destination I look at my maps, Atlas, and campground books to see what route I want to take or maybe where I want to stop for the day.

It seems that this new Virus and all of the panic the media and others are creating because of it is changing life and causing people to panic and alter lives. Based on seeing the food supply and empty shelves in almost every department at stores it seems people think that there is not going to be food to eat or clean water to drink. Paper products and other items like alcohol, disinfectants, aloe gel, hand sanitizer, etc. are almost non existent. There are long lines just to get in to a store. The line at Costco last week to get water or paper products was from the front of the store, around the side of the building to the gas pumps. If people would just get what they need and not panic there would be enough supply for everyone.

I am not panicking or changing much of my life. It’s frustrating and I feel sad for so many businesses and people who are losing their income because stores and businesses are closed for weeks. Even the place I get my eyeglasses have been ordered to close. Government offices are closed to the public, it’s almost impossible to transact business or do normal activities. We should all be conscience all the time. We never know when we pump gas who touched the handle before us. Could have been an exterminator using chemicals and people using the bathroom not washing hands, and many others that keep compounding the germs the same as on door handles, etc. I always have been washing my hands frequently so it’s not much different than now. I use vinyl gloves when pumping gas often and also when I cook.

Yesterday, I spent several hours in the camper to get ready for the trip. I put my clothes in it and went through my cabinets to make sure I am not taking unnecessary items. Usually when I come back from a trip I restock what I used up, like hand sanitizer which I use when I can conserve water to wash hands or clean items. I didn’t replentish in November because I was not sure when I will take another trip. Usually I leave in July for a few months, since I had to have the transmission replaced and the warranty is up the end of June I decided to leave in April for a few months. Now, all of the sanitizer, wipes, etc. are impossible to get I was concerned about having some for my trip. As I was going through the camper, I found two 8 oz. bottles of sanitizer, 16 rolls of toilet paper, two rolls of paper towels, and a package of sanitizer wipes. So, I am good for the trip. I also have a bottle of alcohol which I can use for towels to make my own if needed.

Here are pictures of some of the foods that I have been making, enjoying, and sharing with others. Eating fresh soft pretzels, homemade pizza, and fresh homemade pasta tastes so much better than store bought. It also has no chemicals and less salt. I use herbs and spices rather than salt and pepper. I have been trying recipes and making foods I never made before, many more challenging and time consuming than my regular foods. One of them was Ciabatta bread and another was Kolaches which I love to eat when I am in Texas. Neither was really hard to make, but they took lots of time to make and the taste was well worth the effort.

Lasagna with homemade pasta makes such a difference from using hard store bought pasta and it’s not hard to make. My homemade wheat thin crackers are addictive. I made two pounds at a time and it only lasts about 10 days. I made a corned beef in the pressure cooker the other day and it was great to eat for several days, including making Reuben sandwiches. So, I bought another corned beef and I will cook it before I leave on my trip to eat for a few days while I am driving.

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