Pumpkin Spice, Anyone?

September 1st. It doesn’t seem real.

For someone who looks forward to fall every year, this should have been a welcome calendar page flip. But the prospect of spending another season mostly indoors is just not appealing to me. Sure, we can go outdoors and enjoy the refreshing crisp air, but many of the gatherings I have come to enjoy will be missing this year.

Still, it is actually a relief to be inching our way closer to the end of 2020. Most of us wish it would be over with now.

Recovery Mode

My time away from writing has been spent in recovery mode following my shoulder surgery on June 18th. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with an uneventful, and fairly pain-free recuperation. For anyone who has experienced this surgery, you’ll understand me when I say, “Don’t overdo it.” Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. After being in a sling 24/7 for six weeks, the last thing I would want is to be back in that contraption! (I cringe just looking at the photo.)

The greatest challenges I faced were sleeping while sitting up, and learning to do everything with my left hand. Sleeping was made a little easier with our adjustable bed. Because we have a split-king, we were able to move half of the bed to a guest room. This enabled me to lie awake for hours on end without disturbing my hubby. After the first week or so, exhaustion took over, and I grew accustomed to sleeping on my back. By week 5, I was able to lie on my left side, and now — week 11 — I am finally able to lie flat again.

But the left-handed thing . . . that was another story. Try wearing a sling on your dominant arm for 24 hours and you’ll see the challenges I faced. Everyday tasks we take for granted, such as bathing, dressing, eating — and yes, even trips to the bathroom — take twice as long. Living without a blow dryer nearly brought me to tears. It took me about 3 weeks to master these challenges and find some work-arounds. My doctor was kind enough to adjust the sling so that I had almost full use of my right hand, as long as it stayed inside the sling. I was then able to do some typing on my computer at work and use my cell phone and iPad. Once I was off the pain meds (Day 6), I was even able to drive the mile to work and back home again. Life was not so bad after all.

I am now in physical therapy and have regained about 90% of my range of motion. (My best guess.) Next week, if my surgeon gives the okay, I will begin the strength training portion of my PT. It’s been a long road, but I am glad I had the surgery.

My recovery would not have been so smooth without all the love, prayers, cards and meals that came my way during the first few weeks. Our church family has been amazing! It is always a humbling feeling when you are on the receiving end of such generosity.

🍁 🍁 🍁

Reflecting and Refueling

We celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary last week while visiting relatives in Tennessee. They have a beautiful home in a lakeside community, and a pontoon boat that became our favorite respite for seven days. It was a much-needed getaway for both of us, and a chance to unwind and forget about the pandemic for a while. The lake was full of little hidden coves where we could drop the anchor and swim (or in my case, float) the afternoon away. We dined out most evenings, and lazed around most mornings. (Any day I can stay in my PJ’s past 7:00 AM is a good day!)

My time away was an opportunity to rest and look forward to the future. So much of our time lately has been spent focusing on the chaos around us and around the world. The doom and gloom and bad news is relentless. I find that during these difficult seasons in life, we often neglect our need to get away and disconnect. We need space to breathe, and a new window to enjoy a different view. (I find water views are best!) This is not always possible in these times, I know, but if the opportunity presents itself, embrace it!

Now that I am home again, I realize how much I have missed my writing. As we begin a new season, full of pumpkin spice and whatever else it may bring, I look forward to sharing this space with you once again. ☕️

Sun, Sand and . . . Blizzards

Fall quietly arrived in Virginia while we were on vacation. We are home now, surrounded by colorful leaves and all things pumpkin. Our daughter held down the fort while we were away and confessed that she finally turned on the heat. We were glad for that warmth when we arrived home.

The photo above was taken in Little Sarasota Bay on the morning of our last day of vacation. Tropical Storm Nestor had blown through  overnight, and was just making its exit during my morning walk. The rain had ended, but it was quite blustery and overcast. If you look toward the opposite shoreline, you will see that the ocean was still churned up with white caps in the outer bay. But the shallow waters and mangroves within the inner bay were protected. I was happy to be safe onshore.

🌊🌊🌊

Blossoms and Beaches

This was a relaxing time away. We found time to meet up with friends and relatives, but also set aside time to just relax and explore. One of the highlights of our week was a visit to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. We discovered an amazing exhibit on the Blossoms of Asia, which is a stunning collection of colorful orchids.

On the day of our visit, Selby was launching their annual fall concert series. We grabbed a couple of chairs and enjoyed our lunch while listening to Big Band tunes beneath a huge Banyan tree. Relaxation at its finest! 😎

🐚🐚🐚

On our last full day of in Florida, we took a day trip to Sanibel Island. We hadn’t visited Sanibel since Hurricane Charley tore the tiny island to pieces. It had been our favorite vacation spot as newlyweds, and again as a family after the kids had outgrown Orlando’s theme parks. We have many happy memories of our days on Bowman’s Beach, swimming, snorkeling and shelling. I remember feeling heartbroken as I watched news footage after the devastating hurricane.

Sanibel has changed a lot over the past 15 years, but some things have remained the same. The Gulf water is warm and inviting, seashells are abundant, and the Dairy Queen still serves Blizzards. We sampled them all, and my heart was full as we drove back over the causeway. 

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we arrived. Hearing about the massive damage, I thought it would be unrecognizable.  But in the face of adversity,  Sanibel not only survived, but thrived in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley.  With determination and compassion, neighbors and snowbirds alike worked together to restore and rebuild their island paradise into what it is today.

I’ll be back, sweet Sanibel!