Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

First we say goodbye to the year just past.  Here is a slideshow of highlights:

The pictures show a full, amazing, beautiful year. What you can't see is the cloud that shadowed me all year ... my Mom's diagnosis with Alzheimers. She has lived alone for over 20 years, and I was so nervous leaving her alone as we traveled our summer tour. If you follow closely, you'll see we didn't leave her for any longer than we had to. She traveled with us in the RV for the first few weeks from Florida to Kentucky, then I flew her home before our first big rally in Louisville - in July. I had caregivers visit her and I called her every day as we made our circuit of Rallies from Kentucky, to Oregon, to Indiana. Immediately after our last rally, we rushed back to Florida to gather Mom, and Jim's Dad, and take a family cruise to Alaska the end of September. Mom and I made some beautiful memories this year, well, for me anyway :-) I'm afraid, even with pictures, Mom doesn't remember visiting Mammoth Caves, or Lake Tahoe, or Alaska.
I made it my job this season to move her into an Assisted Living facility. We had checked out several last year, and chosen Willow Wood - it's in our same neighborhood, and I have a friend who works there and loves it. 
This was one of the few challenges in my life that I didn’t think I could handle.  I mean, how do you tell your mother, who has always told you what to do, that she needs to move out of the place she loves?  When you can’t handle it … you get help.  I had so much help this year!  Jim, who held me together every time I fell apart and, along with Devon, did all the heavy lifting for the move; Jo Ellen who was instrumental in transforming the new apartment into a thing of beauty; Mary May who started me on the path of understanding Alzheimers; Melinda in Nevada, and Debbie D in the Florida keys, who opened their homes to Mom and me; the caregivers – especially Debbie C.  who has become a surrogate sister; Mom’s brother, John, and USA Dive club members, who visited Mom so often while I was on the road; North Broward Medical Center Memory Care unit and their support groups; the folks on the forum at; and all the many people who have shared their stories with me.  I am not alone.  I’ve spent hours on the phone with old friends and new friends alike who have already gone thru this same experience.  Thank you to everyone!
So, it seemed so appropriate to spend New Year’s Eve with Mom at Willow Wood.  The activity director there, Adam, puts on a show.  He sings and he dances.  He gives away prizes.  He sets the clock to 11 when it’s really 8, and after an hour we count down to midnight.  At the stroke of 9pm, we shout Happy New Year! 
It’s still sad to see her such a shell of her former self, but I am thrilled that she is in a nice place, with entertainment, good food, and watchful eyes.  She still doesn’t think she belongs there, but she forgets about that!  She is healthy and able to enjoy the moment, walks in the woods or on the beach are still joyful events for her.  As long as knowledge of past or future is not required, she is quite happy.  The ultimate ‘be in the now’ Taoist!  And I can sleep nights again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Morning Sunrise

We’ve done this for several years now – our USA Dive Club meets for Sunrise at the beach on Christmas morning.  I almost didn’t take my camera because I have so many past photos of this event.  I’m so glad I did.  The sun and the clouds cooperated in such a spectacular way.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gypsies and Geeks

Such a treat!  Nick and Terry Russell, of Gypsy Journal, came to Fort Lauderdale for the week and stayed at our ‘home’ RV park – Paradise Island.  Unfortunately, circumstances conspired against us for going on a water taxi ride, or snorkeling in the ocean.  The weather was cold (50s) when they first arrived, and rainy at the end of the week.  There were a couple of gorgeous, sunny, warm days in between – but those were work days.  I had website work, Nick needed to work on his latest issue of the Gypsy Journal newspaper, and Jim was working in the park’s office.

Nick is better about blogging that I am.  He writes *every* day.  Here’s some posts he wrote while here: Geeks bearing Gifts, Last Day in Fort Lauderdale, It’s warming up and Get that Penguin off my Patio!

But, it wasn’t all nose-to-the-grindstone.  I got Terry out one day and showed her the world famous Swap Shop.  Billed as the :Second Largest Tourist Attraction in Florida”, it is a Drive-In Movie theatre, Flea Market, Car Museum, and vendor shops with food court.  You can get great deals on wallets, watches, tshirts, tools and everything in betweek, but I go there for the farmers market.  Here’s Terry surveying the produce:


The farmer’s market goes on and on and on …


I was particularly impressed with the florist’s display:


We also managed a few meals together.  A couple restaurants and one stay-at-home meal with lobster from Jim’s diving efforts.


What a treat to be able to spend some quiet, social time with Nick and Terry!  We usually see them at RV rallies, or just in passing somewhere in the country.  This time we got to hang out for a while in their comfortable Winnebago.  We talked about what its like to live and work on the road … they’ve been doing it for longer than we have … we talked about computers and websites, and we played with gadgets. 

I enjoyed playing with Nick’s iPad – but, since it doesn’t play Flash (something the Geeks on Tour Show-Me Videos requires) I figure it’s worthless!  Nick researched and found an article about how Skypad for iPad will soon remedy that.  I hope so! 

Nick perked up when Jim showed him how to turn the Droid phone into toy guns!


See ya down the road guys!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beautiful Day in South Florida

In the morning, Jim went for a kayak dive.  Check out the video to see why Fort Lauderdale can be such a great place to be.

Then, Mom and I went to her Society of Women Geographers meeting at Sandy and Georgia’s home in Coral Gables (South Miami.)  We’ve been there before and we always know we’re in for a treat with the gorgeous garden.  Georgia Tasker was the garden writer for the Miami Herald for nearly 40 years and now works for Fairchild Gardens.  And Sandy grows award-winning orchids.  There were too many pictures to post individually, so here’s a slide show: (if you click on the slide show it will take you to my Picasa Web Album where you can see the pictures full screen)

I’m sure glad we enjoyed Sunday’s weather because it’s cold today and getting even colder tomorrow.  They say it may be freezing.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Las Vegas–Wishlist Member

I love conferences – fun, business, learning, playing, meeting cool people!  I used to go to industry conferences all the time back when I owned a stick and brick computer training center.  At one point, I was even president of the International Computer Training Association – I *had* to go to the conferences!
We are now trying to take our new business seriously.  Our new business is our membership website.  It’s actually been in operation since July 2008, but we have recently converted it to a new system called Wishlist Member.  So, when Wishlist Member announced a conference – we signed up.
It was in Las Vegas.  Here’s the view from our hotel window

Will add some more pictures or video later ...