THE JOURNEY OR THE DESTINATION?

lantana, zinnia, and sweet potato vine

I have come to many realizations while being cooped up inside during this pandemic. My fascination with one’s perception has me asking myself which is more important in life? The journey or the destination? This is a hot topic among many people, whether they think about it or not. If you think of the people you know, there are many people that are more “journey” type people, yet others are more “destination” people. This fascinates me to no end. Our perceptions about the world colors our approach to living time and time again.

Recently, the discussion in our home has centered around the pergola that my husband built recently in the back yard. We talk about how we are planning on growing all kinds of plants in containers to make the space more inviting when we sit under it. I have enjoyed the many “pipedreams” that have gone round and round in my head, much like I enjoy a good road trip. For me, the journey is such an important part of the experience. Thinking about doing something, pondering about all the possibilities, brainstorming for new ideas, “seeing” the plants in my head in various combinations all give me joy. Similarly it doesn’t matter where I plan to “go” on the road trip; doing whatever comes along, stopping where the wind blows is equally fun. The trip itself, or the journey, is half the fun. It is similar to the selection of planting materials, containers, etc. in my mind. It matters less what I actually plant, as the journey is part of the experience with growing plants as well as I search for “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” for my containers. The pandemic has inspired me to get back to my “roots” of gardening, if only in containers, which is something that had always defined me until I moved to Florida. Gardening here is a whole new world, one that I had not ventured into again until recently.

zinnia, lantana, and calibrachoa

It is very interesting to me that my daughter, “Teen Traveler” isn’t always quite like me. She isn’t always quite like her father, either. However, she’s game for almost anything, like both of us, and I dragged her to a garden center today where we could be in the open and socially distance ourselves with a wide area away from others. I told her I could use her thoughts about what we grow near the pergola and told her that my only requirement was that the plants need to attract butterflies and be colorful. We walked round and round in the garden center, and after a while she announced that she was “done” with the experience as she was getting very hot in the Florida morning sun. She laughed when she said “I guess it really doesn’t matter to me what we plant in the containers. It will be fun, but all I really care is that they look good in the end.” What a revelation. Definitely a “destination” person, at least in this matter. Fascinating.

pentas (I am not a big fan or red in the garden, but it sure does attract butterflies)

I guess in the end, I have decided mostly that I want it ALL. I always want it all. The “journey” is part of the joy in my life, as well as the “destination”, too. I always enjoy a good “pipedream” as often as I can as well as having my hands elbow deep in the dirt, but the finished product gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy, too. I wonder if this approach is situation specific or if this approach can be generalized to other areas of our lives as well. Food for thought.

Life is good; enjoy both your journey as well as your destination if you can, whenever you can.

Carpe diem, friends…………………

Two links for creating beautiful container gardens:

https://www.provenwinners.com/Container-Design

OF ADJUSTING ONE’S SAILS

Food for thought today for those whose lives have changed and whose travel plans got postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic:

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

-Jimmy Dean

Look forward to better times ahead.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends………………

photo:Dreamstime

THE BLESSING OF AN INSPIRATION AND OF A FRIEND

Wall mural and bike photo taken in Amsterdam, the “cycling capital of the world”

I have an amazing friend who lives in another part of the world. He has a certain “joie de vivre” that I can’t possibly explain. I have been fortunate to have had the chance to break bread with him and share a laugh or two over a short period of time. When he smiles, the world smiles with him. My friend recently went on a bike ride while going for a short get away while he was seriously ill and feeling very tired. He was equally tired of all his body has been through with his illness, yet he managed to find joy that day. An explorer and a traveler, my friend adjusted to his status at the time, adapted to what he could do, and revised his conception of adventure during this week end. A picture of him riding his bike that day is one of my favorite pictures of him, as it captures his essence somehow. This friend makes me smile again and again. The world is a better place, in part, because of him. The world is also a funnier place, too, because of him. He knows how to live well, and I admire that in him. He enjoys the love of his beautiful family, great food, travel to exotic places, and reading. One of his favorite songs is “Oh What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and it has always been one of my favorite songs, too. My friend is an inspiration to many people, including me. I will keep this photo of him etched in my mind and heart forever, feeling fortunate to have had the good fortune of spending time with him, even if a short time.

my strong and funny friend

Today, thinking of my friend, I decided to get on my bike, as I used to really enjoy riding my bike and haven’t done that in a while . Seems like it’s been a long while since I went for a bike ride in the neighborhood. Too long. Can’t believe I haven’t thought of this earlier as I try to find something new or re-connect with something that I used to do as often as I can during this pandemic and self-isolation. It seems pretty easy to social distance on a bike.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”

-John F. Kennedy

(photo taken in Amsterdam)

Perhaps I’ll go for a little longer bike ride tomorrow. Perhaps the next day will be even longer. Maybe later in the week I will put the bike on the bike rack on the car to go for an even longer ride. No time like the present. Makes me think of a reply I once heard when I asked someone what time it was. The reply was simple; the person said “the time is now.”

“It is the unknown around the corner which turns my wheels.”

-Heinz Stucke

(photo taken in Zaanse Schans in the Netherlands)

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

-Albert Einstein

Life is good. Find something you used to love doing and haven’t done in a while today. Live fully, live life well, and enjoy the moment, using some inspiration as your guide if you have one.

Carpe diem, friends………………………….

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ANGEL ON THE TOP OF A CHRISTMAS TREE I HAVE EVER SEEN

Although it is only May (already), my thoughts turned today for some reason to an anecdote that I hold dear in my heart. When I was first married many many years ago, my husband and I had so many wonderful discussions about how we would begin our lives together. Because we got married in September, it seemed that the holidays would arrive before we knew it. We began talking about our first Christmas Tree together, and we visited a local farm in New England, which has since closed, to find, tag, and cut down our own tree.

It sounded like such a fond memory even before we went to the farm, and it was every bit as wonderful as we thought it would be. There is something so tender about finding a tree together in the snow and dragging it off the field after going on a hayride or sleigh ride to get to the field in the first place. I think we even had the classic Hallmark cup of hot chocolate afterwards.

Some of our compromises that seemed like such difficult concessions at the time really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things I’m thinking now. It is so very easy to get caught up in the mundane at any stage of our lives, to give importance to the unimportant and somehow miss what is right before our eyes. I have learned since then that life is far too important to be taken so seriously. It doesn’t really matter to me whether we have garland or ribbon, tinsel or no tinsel, ornaments that all match or are mis-matched, or even Christmas lights that are all white or multi-colored, as long as we spend our Christmas season together with those that we love, laughing, baking cookies, and creating new memories and traditions while remembering the old ways fondly, too.

We decided somewhere along the way that we would have a photo ornament that represents each year that we have been married, in good times and in bad, and THAT is something I would decide to do all over again.

Our discussion at the time many years ago, however, turned to whether we would have a star or an angel on top of our first tree, as we set out to purchase our first ornaments together to decorate our tree. Growing up in the same city, there were many similarities, as well as differences, to our upbringings, but both households had an angel on top of the Christmas tree. That made that decision very easy, and an angel it was. While we were walking through the store to find the perfect angel to top our perfect tree, I remembered the angel that sat on top of the tree in the house I grew up in. Christmas was a special time for me, as I was the youngest child, and the youngest in our family had the privilege of being the one to put the very last decoration, the angel, on top of the tree. For years and years, my father lifted me up on his shoulders to accomplish this task. This made me feel like I was on top of the world, which I really was because my parents were the center of my world at the time.

Because my parents had moved out of state before we were married, there was no angel from my childhood to show my husband, as my parents were still using it on their tree in another state. I tried to find the words to describe to my husband how very beautiful the angel was, dressed in a gold dress with perfect pleats. The size of the angel was just perfect, too, neither too large nor too small. The angel’s hair, with it’s perfectly flowing and uniformly curled hairstyle was not like any more modern angel I had ever seen, either. The angel was, in fact, the most beautiful angel I had ever seen, and I would be hard-pressed to find anything at all that would compare in anyway to this angel from my childhood. We settled on a pretty angel, but she held no proverbial candle to the angel from my childhood in my mind.

Fast forward to a few years later. My parents sold their home and started using a smaller, table top tree, that many seniors use after growing tired of puttting the tree up and taking it down again in such a short amount of time, after having taken it up from the basement for many years, year after year. My parents decided when sorting through their decorations they would no longer need that it was very clear that the angel from my childhood should go to me. Time to pass down the baton, so to speak. One day when I went to visit them, my parents unexpectedly presented me with a cardboard box, flat and brown. I recognized the box immediately, as I removed the angel gently, very gently, from her resting spot between Christmases, before putting her on the tree each year. When I opened the box, I was surprised to see that the angel from my childhood was a little “worse for the wear” than I had expected, and the perfect pleats on her dress were a little imperfect. Her hairstyle was a little messy, and her arms were a bit bent. Not only was she a little old, my perfect angel wasn’t so perfect after all. In fact, I was shocked to see that she was a bit ugly, too. Her facial expression wasn’t nearly as beautiful as I had remembered, maybe even a little creepy, but I was oh so very grateful for the gift.

When I came to the realization that the angel wasn’t quite what I made her out to be in my mind all these years, I smiled. I realized that she was the most beautiful angel in the world on top of any tree that I had ever seen, mainly as a child, because of all the love, laughter, and happy memories at Christmas with my family that made her beautiful to me. While I can’t quite bring myself to put the angel on top of my tree now, I keep her in that same flat, rectangle, cardboard box from many years ago, among my present-day Christmas decorations. She serves as a reminder of where I have come from, who I came from, and what makes Christmas, and life, meaningful. I also have come to appreciate the need to see as much as we can through child-like eyes to see the beauty from time to time. Even if the angel is quite ugly, she is still so beautiful in so many ways, because of what she represents. And timeless memories of years past with those we love, even if deciding on unimportant things which seemed so important at the time, are priceless.

Life is good. Carpe diem, friends…………

photos: Dreamstime

LESSONS LEARNED FROM A LANTERN

Lanterns have been used throughout the ages for many things. First and foremost they have been used to light up a dark area. They are the inspiration for many festivals around the world, especially in Asia. They remind us that the light they yield can bring us out of darkness, if we follow the light, both literally and figuratively. Finally, lanterns symbolize joy, celebration, good fortune, longevity, and protection (from evil.) Lanterns have also been associated most recently with knowledge, finding one’s way or helping another find his or her way, light over darkness (or good over evil), intelligence, and even truth.

It’s uncanny to me that “Teen Traveler”, my daughter, and I discovered by chance recently that we both had seen lanterns made out of cans independently and both wanted to make them some day. Someday is today, whenever I can make it so. To that end, we have been washing out cans from the vegetables we stocked up on for the pandemic. Seems as though we’ve been eating our fair share of canned green beans. Probably even more green beans then we ever wanted to eat. Probably even more green beans than we ever will eat again. That being said, we put some water in the washed cans and froze them overnight. This makes punching holes in the cans easier (and safer), as the can is less likely to roll when working on it.

After we decided on our designs, we put the can on a towel to prevent it from rolling while we were working on it and to catch the water as the ice melted. The internet is full of can lantern patterns, so we looked on the net for inspiration. Some people spray paint their cans afterwards, too.

With a hammer and a nail, we punched a hole through the pattern we taped onto the can. This project takes just a few minutes and yields a lot of fun when doing it together with someone. “Teen Traveler” makes me laugh so much that tears flow from my eyes, and this project was no exception. Ice from inside the can broke like an iceberg off a continent while we were hammering the nail, and the ice slid (and sometimes flew) out of the can. The pattern from the can became wet and disintegrated after a while. The project looked so easy to those that had gone before us to do this very same project. The more the project didn’t work out according to our plan, the more we laughed. Life isn’t perfect, as they say, and neither is this seemingly easy project. I am reminded of something Alan Alda, and American actor, once said he wished he had told his younger self years ago. That is, the need to “adapt, adjust, and revise.” We adapted the pattern we wanted to use. We adjusted the pattern we had chosen, as it was far more complicated than we originally imagined to accomplish. Finally, we revised our plan to fill the yard with a barrage of lanterns we would make and hang from the tree. Maybe just two is plenty, afterall….

I wanted to think of some clever poem or song about lanterns to provide us with some inspiration, but then decided that simply being together with my teen daughter doing something fun was inspiration enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is what it is, and what it is was beautiful.

Life is good; find a way to make something wonderful with someone you love today. Create beauty and recognize the beauty of the moment.

Carpe diem, friends………..

DON’T FORGET TO HAVE SOME FUN DURING THE PANDEMIC

target (credit:Dreamstime)

My daughter, “Teen Traveler”, and I used to have a lot of fun when she was little with the computer chair. On days where it was rainy, and we were stuck inside, I pushed her around in the wheeled computer chair through the living room, into the kitchen, then into the family room, along with some twirls and spins along the way. When she was a bit older (and stronger) we took turns pushing each other in the same manner, laughing again until our bellies hurt.

It has been a while since we did this, but the other day, “Teen Traveler” rolled me out from in front of the computer….into the living room, into the kitchen, then into the family room, along with some twirls and spins along the way, laughing and laughing as we went along.

I was recently thinking about how much we missed going to Walt Disney World while it is closed due to the pandemic. While I was laughing in the computer chair, an idea came to me. I have seen how some people have gone to great lengths creating Disney World in their own homes during the pandemic, so I wondered how we could make a fake “Buzz Light Year” – type ride. I got off the computer chair and went into my daughter’s room to get our old supply of nerf guns, ammo, and tactical vests. You can imagine her watch me, wondering what I was up to. Even the look on her face made me laugh. Yet, just minutes later, she completely understood what I had in mind and let me know with her twinkling eyes (and her glimmering smile). Before long, we were donning our tactical vests, loading our guns with ammo and re-filling our ammo pouches. Not too long after that, we were busy making bulls-eye type targets to hang around the house. Game ON! I loaded Teen Traveler into the computer chair, both of us still laughing, and slowly moved her out of the computer room into the living room, spinning her a few times, watching her try to hit the targets we had taped on the walls. We kept score, and she is evidently quite a marksman, EVEN when trying to hit a target while moving. My “Lara Croft”.

Next was my turn. Armed with my tactical vest and belt, I was poised to beat the record. Game ON again! Ready……set…..GO! Of course my daughter turned and twirled me in my chair every single chance she could, and I was already dizzy before we even started. Try as I may, I can not beat my daughter’s score, but we had such a fun time. NOT “Lara Croft Mom”.

Life is good. Try to connect with those you love in ways you haven’t connected in some time. Find the fun. Look for a way to laugh ’til your belly hurts today.

Carpe diem, friends………….

LIFE IS LIKE A PERGOLA

pergola pieces on grass

As long as I’ve lived in our present home, five years or so, I have wanted a pergola in the worst way. No, since we bought our second house about FIFTEEN years ago, I have wanted a pergola. In our current house, we have a cement patio slab in the back yard that we rarely use, which I always thought would look great with a pergola. I thought it would center the yard and give us a purpose to venture outside of our comfortable pool screen deck area into the “real world.” Another way of stepping out of our comfort zone metaphorically. The patio is on the south side of the house, which of course in central Florida makes it hot most time of the year. My husband has pointed out that it’s nicer in the screen room, as we are free of mosquitoes when we sit there. My husband has also pointed out that with only three of us living in the house, we have PLENTY of places to sit and enjoy the moment without the addition of a pergola. I, however, pointed out that I really wanted the pergola to have a place to string those wonderful industrial “Edison” light bulb outdoor string lights that I’ve seen EVERYWHERE, and it would be great from time to time to enjoy the breeze OUTSIDE the screen, especially at night while watching the sunset over the pond behind our house. The lights were a key component to my plan, something to which I really looked forward.

definitely a “before” picture of the patio in the back yard, SO ready for a pergola for SUCH a long time

Fast forward to Sunday, Mother’s Day. When I awoke, my daughter gave me a “pergola” that she had constructed from rolled paper cylinders and tape along with a beautiful card she made. I laughed and said I FINALLY got the pergola I have always wanted. Then I saw it, that wry little smile on the faces of both my daughter and my husband. They brought me out to the garage, where there was a pergola kit that my husband had purchased earlier in the morning while I was sleeping. Evidently, he wore his N99 half face mask from his garage workshop when he rented a van to drive to the store to purchase the pergola. I was speechless. It was even a GRAY pergola, the color in my head which I had recently decided I wanted. It was such a beautiful sight seeing my husband and my daughter collaborating together to make a beautiful moment. A beautiful moment for ME. It was, in the words of Raymond Carver, “a small good thing”, except this was a LARGE “good thing.”

model pergola created by my daughter, “Teen Traveler”

Shortly thereafter, my husband tirelessly laid out all the parts to the pergola on the backyard grass in the hot Florida sun and began to lovingly and patiently assemble it. We had delighted in planning all the wonderful things that we could grow in pots around the pergola to make a backyard oasis, a spot of rest, relaxation, and tranquility. I became even more excited when I saw the pergola move beyond a set of boards, nuts, and bolts to really start to take shape. I have not decided yet what I want for furniture under the pergola, as I already have two large sectional seating areas and a good sized dining table near the pool already. I want this space to be somehow different as it beguiles us to sit beneath it. We decided that we want a vine-covered pergola to allow us a bit of shade, so my husband decided on a confederate star jasmine plant after a great deal of research. This plant would give us a quickly growing scented flower which grows wild in these parts and is easy to care for. We did a “curbside” pick up of two of these plants from the local nursery to get a jump start on growing them before we really need them. We are enjoying the planning process as a whole family. This gives us a new bond together, something we can call our own and can each take part in. Each of us takes turn watering the plants we have purchased for the pergola, and there is beauty in this sense of togetherness. In a sense, it is somehow like we are all breaking bread together in some way, as this is a shared experience that brings us even closer together.

confederate star jasmine plants for the pergola

As my husband and I were going for our walk last evening, I decided to check where the electrical outlet closest to the pergola site is, as this pergola has electrical outlets built into it which can be connected to a nearby electrical outlet. We have outdoor electrical outlets all around the exterior of the house, EXCEPT adjacent to the concrete patio. I laughed at myself for thinking of almost everything EXCEPT the electricity. In retrospect, I decided I didn’t want the pergola as much as I wanted the hanging lights, truth be known. It seemed, then, that my plan had the first monkey wrench thrown at it.

After just a moment more with my own thoughts, I quickly decided that life is VERY much like that pergola. We come up with a plan, sometimes in intricate detail in our lives, looking forward to a myriad of things that unfold as part of the process along the way. The pergola, like life itself, gives us a sense of purpose that we develop and nurture. We think the sky is the limit and live our lives accordingly. After all, what the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve, so it has been said. However, as life happens, sometimes there is some obstacle in our way. Something comes along that we had not planned. Something threatens to thwart our plans. We consider changing our course. We consider putting our plans aside, if even only for a short time.

construction begins slowly, but it does begin

However, the human spirit prevails, and the pergogla construction (and life) continues. My husband and I know we can come up with a new plan in which we can solve this issue. If we eliminate the improbable, as it has been said, what remains is the possible. We CAN make this work with a little thought and effort or we can change our thinking and our expectations. That is, we could always have a pergola without lights (not a possibility for me). We could always run an outdoor extension cord as the most obvious and quickest solution solution. Or, we could hire an electrician to put in another electrical outlet where we need it once the pandemic is over and we can have someone come into our house again. We could have him drill through the cement/block construction of our house in order to bring power from the INSIDE out. There are many ways to solve this problem, and we simply need to think about them and decide upon a solution. That’s life, isn’t it? Define the problem. Work the problem. Find the solution. It can be done, and it will be done. My motto always is, “Don’t tell me no, tell me HOW.” Sometimes, though, we have to wait just a little while for the plan to come to fruition.

Life is good. Work the problem. Find the solution. Life life fully and completely, finding something to look forward to and make it work. That’s life, in all its glory and in all its beauty.

Carpe diem, friends……find your own version of a “pergola.”

WORDS TO LIVE BY AND MAKING MEMORIES


I love when I stumble upon joy. Pure joy. Today while driving with my daughter, “Teen Traveler,” we saw a whole group of people social distancing a whole different way. In the water, we saw dozens of people kite-boarding and experiencing true joy. I can only imagine how that must feel with the waves splashing beneath your feet while you are pulled literally in whatever direction the wind blows. I imagine it feels free, exciting, peaceful, liberating, and joyful all at the same time. It was almost poetic watching these kites and their owners making a memory today before our very eyes. Made me think of a poster I have hanging in my house that reads:

“Make a memory

Smile for no reason

Create joy

Pay it forward

Dance without music

Wax poetic

Laugh until you cry

Win with grace

East Dessert First

Count your blessings

Say yes to chocolate

Take the high road

Make someone’s day

Celebrate everything”

-Author Unkown

Life is good; carpe diem friends………live fully, live well, and create a memory today.

(Note to self: look into kiteboarding and surfing lessons…………)

SOCIAL DISTANCING WITH SCENIC SUNFLOWERS WHILE THE SHADOWS FALL BEHIND YOU

Happy Mother’s Day y’all. Today I wanted to get out of the house to do something different. Several years back, we had traveled throughout Tuscany looking for sunflowers. I never realized they were right in our own state in such numbers. “There’s no place like home,” it’s been said. Traveling to Sledd’s u-Pick Farm in Mims reminded me of that saying. Although the sky was cloudy, the bright yellow sunflowers provided a beautiful contrast against the otherwise dreary day. It took my breath away when we pulled up to the farm and saw sunflowers in such number.

Sledd’s is a pick-your-own farm in Mims, Florida, offering a large field of sunflowers that you can pick yourself, as well as a sunflower maze this time of year. While many of the sunflowers have already been picked and some are past their prime, more sunflowers will be available to pick again in June.

Sledd’s charges five dollars per person for entry into the field and then charges for the sunflowers you pick. Prices are two dollars for the first sunflower stem, three dollars for two sunflower stems, and five dollars for three sunflower stems. Remember to bring your own scissors, as none are provided for you. Also, come prepared with cash, as this is the only form of payment they accept. Plan ahead by checking their Facebook page, as hours change greatly due to weather and unforeseen circumstances as well. Keep in mind, also, that there are only port-a-johns on site and only a little structure under which to make payment. This is a small family farm without any kind of gift shop or visitor center that offers other pick your own crops at different times of year, such as tomatoes, berries, and vegetables as well.

Like a single sunbeam on a warm summer day, there is an exuberance and a brilliance of a sunflower.” -Author unknown

When we arrived, we were amazed at the numbers of people that were standing in line (without six feet between them) to pay for entry into the field. No attempt was made to remind the visitors of the need for social distancing, and we saw only two other families with masks. We were glad we brought along my husband’s N-97 mask from his workshop, which we took turns sharing and went into the field one at a time. Once we got into the field, however, we could stay apart from others to keep our social distancing.

I’m thinking that this place might be less crowded on a week-day or any other week end than Mother’s Day. Seems as though lots of people came with their mothers for this charming pick your own activity. Social Distancing might be easier at another time.

I couldn’t help but notice my daughter “Teen Traveler’s” tee shirt, which suggested the need to “Bloom With Grace” when she was walking around the field. That’s my girl; such attention to detail. Such sage advice. My daughter, the old soul.

Sunflowers are symbolic in China for longevity and long life, and I am reminded of the pandemic which began in China while walking about the field, hoping for long life for the citizens there and everywhere. My mind wanders also to Vincent Van Gogh, who said he found “comfort in contemplating the sunflowers.” I also found comfort among the sunflowers after being essentially cooped up inside for weeks during our “safer at home” pandemic orders here in Florida. It felt so good to be among such a bright backdrop of living, thriving beautiful plants today. There were lots of bees on the flowers, and watching them on the sticky sunflower heads was fascinating. There was such peace for that moment in time, and it felt wonderful to be a part of it. It felt like life goes on, despite all that is going on around the world at the same moment.

“…You’re making it feel that everything is alright
You’re my sunflower, you’re my sunflower
In a world that’s crumbling, all around us everyday
You are, all the inspiration that I need to find my way…

You’re, making it feel that everything is alright
You’re my sunflower, you’re my sunflower
You’re, making it feel that everything is alright
You’re my sunflower, you’re my sunflower….”

-“Sunflower” by Lenny Kravitz

Helen Keller, an inspirational writer who was born both deaf and blind once wrote

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” ~ Helen Keller

I contemplate this as I think about the days ahead with the pandemic. Helen Keller’s advice, along with the old Maori proverb that says to “Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.” I look forward to brighter days ahead when we can return to some semblance of normal after the Covid pandemic is behind us. In the meantime I remember that life is still good, even now.

Carpe diem, friends……..and turn your face to the sunshine today while you get out to live fully again. May the shadows fall behind you, or may you at least not SEE the shadows today.

BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN WITH A TRAVEL SOLUTION DURING THE PANDEMIC AND ENJOYING THIS MOMENT RIGHT BEFORE US

With “Safer In Place” restrictions lifting in Florida, “Teen Traveler”, my daughter, and I hit the road for the first time in many weeks for one of our day trips here in Florida. We are still self-isolating but decided we could go on a road trip IF we are not near other people. We thought we would try a trip to one of the eighty Florida State Parks that have re-opened on May 4.

Road into the park

We decided that we would pack all our water, snacks and everything we needed so that we could stay out of the stores and continue to self-isolate. We had a problem to solve, however. My proper upbringing normally leads me away from discussing things of this nature, but we had to think about what we would do once “nature calls, ” as we didn’t want to expose ourselves to people who might have Covid-19, even those without any symptoms by using the restrooms. We also did not want to give anyone Covid-19 in case we are also one of the asymptomatic carriers. “Teen Traveler” and I decided we could solve this problem and decided we would make our own “portable facility”. We turned to the net to see what others have come up with and built this from the supplies we had on hand.

The only modification I have to add to other models we have seen on the net right now is to put a large plastic garbage bag (13 gallon kitchen bags work well) OVER the pool noodle, as this pool noodle would be difficult to clean. So, one garbage bag UNDER the pool noodle, secured at the rim and one garbage bag OVER the noodle, too. Contact me if you want directions how to make this “portable facility”, but the picture is self-explanatory. I will also add that it it a good idea to place some disposable diapers or santitary napkins on the bottom of the garbage bag inside to absorb any effluvium prior to discarding this bag in the garbage after use. With a solution like this, we don’t have to stay cooped up inside any longer.

That being said, we decided we would be able to travel ANYWHERE now on a road trip. “Teen Traveler” and I always come up with a travel theme song to start our road trip. Today, it was “Life Is A Highway”. We also play a little travel game together to break up the time while we are driving, so she enjoys the journey. One of us comes up with a word, and then we both try to think of songs that have lyrics or titles that include that word. That way, I get exposed to “Teen Traveler’s” musical tastes, and she gets to hear some of the older music she might not get a chance to listen to from me otherwise. Music is such an important part of her life right now, and I need to listen to her music if I am to remain as an important part of her life as well.

I saw this heart-shaped plant on the side of the road driving slowly to the entrance of the park, and it reminded me of the indescribable love and bond between a mother and daughter on the week end of Mother’s Day

We laugh, we bargain, and we enjoy the moments together while we have them. Today was a gift for me to be with my daughter, as time flies so very quickly. Before I know it, she will be off to college, but I have today. Someone once told me not to even think about the day that “Teen Traveler” will move out to college but to concentrate on this moment right now. Such sage advice.

We did not want to journey very far from home for our first outing in a long time while still maintaining social distancing. We took our masks, and we decided to travel to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park to see some ruins of an old sugar mill, here in the “real” Florida, as the state park system advertises.

Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park is located in Volusia County, Florida, approximately five miles north of Ormond Beach, on the Eastern side of Florida. It is easy to find with signs on Route 95 at exit 270.

The park is open again, and there are self-pay envelopes at the entrance. The fee is four dollars per car, but bikers and hikers pay only two dollars. Take the envelope and retain a portion to hang from your rear view mirror. There is no one at the entrance, so it is very easy to continue to self-isolate here.

Bulow Plantation was the largest plantation in East Florida and was started in 1821 by Major Charles Bulow to cultivate indigo, cotton, rice, and sugar cane and eventually housed a sugar mill. Unfortunately the place was destroyed during the Seminole War in 1836.

The sugar mill on the property site was constructed of coquina, a limestone that consists of shells and shell fragments.

In addition to viewing the old sugar mill, visitors can rent canoes on the property (during non-pandemic times) and hike. There is a 6.8 mile trail that leads to Bulow Creek State Park, where visitors can see an oak tree, the Fairchild Oak, that is over six hundred years old. The land that houses Bulow Creek State Park at one time contained eleven plantations, each with their own stories to tell.

six hundred year old Fairfield Oak at Bulow Creek State Park (credit: Florida Parks)

Hiking is beautiful in these parts, with flat wooded trails and beautiful trees and plants.

Paddling along the river would be beautiful once the canoe rental restrictions due to the pandemic are lifted.

“Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore….

“…..There ain’t no load that I can’t hold
A road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors
Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long….”

-“Life is A Highway” by Tom Cochrane

Life is good; find a way to get out of the house during this pandemic and live a little. Living a little with someone you love is even better.

Carpe diem, friends………….live life fully and live life well.