Monday, April 05, 2021

Easter with Family

 Easter is traditionally a family affair with the Gulds. Jim's sister, Debbie has always put on a big spread and invited multiple generations over to get together and celebrate.

We didn't "do" Easter last year ... or Thanksgiving ... or Christmas. This year, since the 4 old folks have all been vaccinated - the meet up was ON. The 3 younger folks were also invited but told to keep their distance. It felt quite normal, and the food was awesome!




Even a homemade cake for family members with birthdays this month.


I was especially impressed with the orchids they had around their house. What a beautiful flower! And, nothing says spring, like beautiful flowers.


Thanks for being such a great host Debbie!


My contribution was making some fun JibJab videos:

Debbie, Jim, and 3 kids/cousins dancing

The 4 old folks dancing

HAPPY EASTER

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Isolation elation

If this past year has taught me anything, it's how much I love our home. I thank my mom every day for finding and buying this place back in 1989. I'm also grateful that I didn't sell it back in 2010 when she moved into assisted living and Jim and I were still Fulltime RVers. It is a little piece of heavenly jungle in the middle of a big, busy city. 



Both Jim and I have separate office spaces and we've both used this year to improve our spaces to our liking. 



I've learned that I like to stay home!

Yesterday was the first time I ventured out on my own to do a little shopping. I was in for a rude awakening. Traffic was abysmal. The stores were busy. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable. And the stores  didn't even have what I wanted. I was so happy to get back home to the views of the trees and the sound of the birds. I'll stay content to get anything I need delivered from Amazon or Publix.

Is this how agoraphobia starts?

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The world stops ... again

I get my regular mammograms--they say there may be something suspicious, keep a close watch.
Get your mammogram girls!

Bad News

Several months later I feel a lump and call the doctor to arrange a follow up mammogram and an ultrasound. They still come back inconclusive, so it's off to a biopsy. The doctor says, "it doesn't look like anything to worry about, probably just a cyst." So, I was surprised when it came back positive.

Yikes, what now? My personal doctor sets me up with appointments with a surgeon and an oncologist. She says treatment is usually several months of chemo and or radiation. That means we have to cancel all travel this year ... again. The world stops ... again. Luckily, we've gotten accustomed to staying home and we have a wonderful home. All is ok on that front.

Luckily I'm old enough to be on medicare, so at least we don't have to worry about the financial burden.  

I have several friends right now going thru breast cancer at various stages. It's not fun, but it's doable. It's definitely survivable. So I'm not worried. I go to the surgeon and arrange a date - April 8. Then I go to the oncologist ...

Good News!

The oncologist was happy to see me. He likes patient visits where he has good news! We chatted a bit, he looked at the biopsy results and tells me that the cancer is so tiny that the biopsy procedure got rid of most of it. The surgery will surely get the rest, and I won't need any chemo or radiation therapy. Travel should not be a problem!

What a relief. I can breathe again. I have a hard time believing it. We think about our summer travel plans again - put them back on the calendar. 

Bad News

Just as a precaution, since I have a history with asthma, I'm scheduled for a chest xray and visit with a pulmonologist. I breathe just fine - haven't had any bouts with asthma in many years. Should be smooth sailing. 
Not so fast. I'm told the Xray shows a spot on my lung. Once again inconclusive - don't know what it means - but I need a CT scan before they'll clear me for surgery.

stay tuned ...


Sunday, March 14, 2021

RV Rally - old friends, new friends

We're so glad to have gotten our vaccines in February, that made us feel safe to attend the FMCA RV rally in Perry Georgia. On our way up, we stayed overnight at a Cracker Barrel - that's our favorite place when we're in "just-gotta-get-there" mode. You get dinner and breakfast - and a safe-feeling sleeping spot.

When we get to Perry we go straight to our spot. Most people attending a large RV rally like this are a little lost, but we've done this rally, in this location, at least 4 times: 2018201620142011 . It's beautiful weather and we are quite happy to be here.






We've intentionally lightened our schedule compared to last years, so we're feeling less stressed and can enjoy taking a bike ride around the fairgrounds.
The first day we presented 2 seminars, the second day 1, and the third day 1.  No printed materials this time, we just put everything online and told our audiences to go to a web page to get it. Easy peasy.



It was awkward for people to have to wear a mask, but everyone was a good sport and they set up way fewer chairs for social distancing, but I still think we had at least 100 folks in each seminar. I just love a live audience! We had a good time.

Jim brought 5 lobster from the freezer so we could invite some old friends, Mike and Darlene over for lobster dinner. We also invited a new friend, Meagan. She was parked right next to us in the seminar presenters parking area because she was giving seminars on solo RVing. Check out her cute little camper/trailer in the background.


Meagan also took a little video when she visited our seminar on Google Photos. Learn more about Meagan on her website: HerFineMess.com


On the way home we stopped at Alex's near Gainesville, and were treated with an outdoor music show by Mark Miale . Both Alex and Mark were in my High School graduating class.
What a nice getaway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Getting our covid vaccines

We're in line at the parking lot of the Hard Rock stadium. I figure that someone from Disney world must have helped design this operation. One giant, empty parking lot is used. They set up big drive-thru tents where the shots are administered. Then lines of cars snake around the parking lot until they reach a tent. It's like the tent is a ride at Disney. The lanes to drive are designated by hundreds of orange traffic cones. It takes several hours to snake from the parking lot entrance to a tent.



We came here for our first shot 3 weeks ago. For several weeks before that we had been checking the website and calling every number we heard about in an attempt to snag an appointment. What finally did the trick was a viewer of our YouTube show. During the show we always spend a couple minutes saying what we are up to and we mentioned our failed attempts to get an appointment. A woman who was watching sent us an email with a new phone number that had worked for her. I immediately dialed the number, a person answered and gave us an appointment in 4 days time! We were thrilled and so thankful for the kindness of strangers.

We were in line about 3.5 hours on that first visit, but we drove the van so we had our own bathroom as well as some snacks. We got our shots and felt downright giddy we were so happy to believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic.



Now we're back in a similar line. We got here at 12:40.

Yay! We're done. We got our 2d shot. Two more weeks of waiting, and we're supposed to be 95% protected for COVID 19. 
We left at 3:20 - 2 hours 40 minutes. Such a small price to pay for a new lease on life. 


Monday, January 18, 2021

Real people! We presented seminars at the Tampa RV Supershow

 Months ago, we got a call from the organizers of the Tampa RV Supershow asking if we would present our seminars there. We thought for sure the Covid pandemic would be under control by the January date, so we said sure. Meanwhile, cases spiked and we expected the show to be cancelled. But they didn't. hmmm what to do? Well, we were only obligated for one hour seminar each day. We would be staying in our RV, and we decided it would be safe enough. A seminar room that normally would hold about 200 people was socially distanced to accomodate only 100.



It was SOO nice to have a real, live, audience! We gave our seminar called "Maps and Apps for RV Trip Planning." We gave it at 10am each day for the 5 days of the show and LOVED it. This is what we do! Here is the link to all of the material we used: Tampa RV Supershow seminar






Other than our seminar times, we did a little bit of bike riding, then just stayed "home." Jim cooked wonderful meals. This is lobster fried rice!



Thursday, January 07, 2021

2020 - the year that Zoomed by

 Decades

I like remembering my life - that's probably obvious if you know this blog! But I don't have a great memory (also . I mark the passage of time by creating memorable moments - like New Year's Eve. It's impossible to remember every year, so I focus on decades. I can tell you what I did for New Year's in 2010, 2000, 1990, and 1980. For my younger years I marked time by my age: 10 years old, 20 years old - and I remember approximately where I was, what I was doing. 

When New Year's 2020 was approaching, we were at home in Fort Lauderdale after a year with lots of travel (Australia, New Zealand, Ohio, Arkansas, Colorado) so I didn't want to go anywhere. How about a New Year's Eve party at our house?! That would be memorable. To my delight, several friends agreed - as long as I didn't make them stay up till midnight! So, we celebrated on Brazil time to ring in the New Year at 9pm! In the process, I learned that New Year's Eve in Brazil is a really big deal and it is traditional to wear all white.

We were so happy to ring in the new Decade with friends we've known for 30, and even 40 years.

Little did we know

We had such high hopes for the year - and it started out quite nicely. We had our normal RV rallies around Florida for Jan/Feb. We joined our dive club for a special "dive with hammerhead sharks" in Bimini in February. Our last appearance was in Sarasota on March 4. We had already declined the invitation to speak at the FMCA rally in Tucson because it conflicted with the big dive trip we booked to the Maldives. 

Were we ever lucky that the Maldives trip was scheduled for the last week of March. If it had been even one week earlier, we might have gone ... and we might still be there - stuck due to travel restrictions because of the Covid pandemic. We know people who got stuck in Fiji for 6 months! The Maldives trip got rescheduled for April 2021 - now it's looking like that may not even work. We should be able to get our vaccine sometime between March and June. We won't go anywhere until after we get it.

We start Zooming

When we're in town, we always enjoy going to our Earlybird Toastmasters club at the local Denny's restaurant in the meeting room. On March 19, we showed up and Denny's turned us away. They were open, but Covid-related lockdown orders prohibited groups of people from gathering. So, we went home and started a Zoom call - getting the connection info to as many members as we could. It didn't take long before everyone was comfortable with this new meeting space. It's not as good as IRL (in real life) but it's a helluva lot better than nothing. As we continue our weekly Zoom Toastmasters meetings we are finding delightful benefits. Our local club now has members in Spain, South Africa, Pennsylvania, and Orlando. And, all meetings are recorded, so if you gave a particularly good speech, you can remember it and share it with others.

What would we do without our Toastmasters group on Halloween!?


The Book

Meanwhile, we enjoyed our #StayHome time. I was able to spend much more time revising my Learn Google Photos book than originally planned. Instead of just updating specific references to features that had changed, I rewrote the whole thing. I even hired an editor who is very familiar with helping authors of technical how-to books. Much more than proofreading, she helped me develop the book in a way that I hope is more useful to my readers. I spent most of my summer working on it and we launched the printed book on September 1. The "Launch" deal was for a spiral bound, autographed copy. As my author friend, Nick Russell says, "Writing the book is the easy part! Then you have to market" It sold well during the launch month - a few hundred. Then we've done 50-100 each month since. I'm happy.

Chris autographing lots of books

Jim doing the spiral binding. We get them from Amazon, then he cuts off the spine, punches holes and inserts the coil.

Mom

I got Hospice's call on Saturday night, Aug 29. Our Book Launch was a live-streaming YouTube event on Sunday afternoon. What an emotional basket case I was. Understand - the call was good news. She had been in Hospice care for 3 years, her death was a relief. She had no quality of life those last few years, she hadn't recognized me for several years before that. Her facility had been on lockdown due to Covid since late March, so I had not been able to visit. She tested positive for Covid and was transferred to a Hospice in-patient facility in Boca Raton that was specially equipped for Covid. I was able to have "window-visits." By that time, she was completely unresponsive. It was so past time for her to go. If Covid was the straw that finally put her over - I guess I'm grateful. It was a relief, but I was still inconsolably sad. 

A window-visit with Mom at a Covid-equipped Hospice facility

She was 89 years old and she had an amazing life. I wrote about it here. Alzheimer's took her away at 79. We took her on RV trips and a cruise during the first few years, but she could no longer function on her own. She moved to an Assisted Living Facility in 2010, then a more secure facility in 2014, then to the last memory care facility in 2016.

Her wishes were to take her Dive Club buddies out for one last dive to scatter her ashes and then raise a glass of wine to toast her and have a party. I booked the dive boat for Dec 5, thinking that the Covid restrictions would be lifted by then, but then the Covid deaths started spiking and it was too anxiety producing to ask people to gather. SO - we had a Zoom party!

It was great! In addition to her dive buddies from South Florida, I was able to get other friends to participate from various parts of the country. I loved seeing their photos and hearing their stories of Mom. We all rose our glass and made a toast to Mom - may her spirit live on in all of us.

Traveling?

Our normal life is traveling around the country, going to RV rallies and teaching our technology seminars. We didn't do any of that this year. But we did meet up with some of our far-flung friends by having happy hours over Zoom.

Last year we traveled to New Zealand with Melinda - this year we Zoomed to her home in Nevada

Last year we parked our RV in Ann's driveway. This year we visited from the comfort of our own homes.



Zoom has given us the ability to get to know our Geeks on Tour premium members. We have a "Backstage Pass" meeting after our Live YouTube shows with lively conversations. It's like having Geek conventions with a fraction of the travel costs!

Teaching

I need to teach, it's what I do. It's what I look forward to when we go to RV rallies or other "gigs." It's why I wrote a book on Google Photos. Now, I'm using Zoom to deliver workshops that go along with the book. Two hours with 4 to 12 people, I demonstrate some things from the book, then I use the Zoom feature called "Breakout rooms" to give them some time and space to practice on their own. I certainly prefer in person classes, but this is a pretty good alternative. These techniques have been available for many years, but it's the pandemic that has forced people to use it. Now that everyone has had some experience, it makes it so much more feasible to offer teaching over Zoom. I love it!




We're old pros

It feels like Zoom just burst on the scene this year, but we've been meeting with a couple of groups for several years now. 


If you're still new to Zoom, or just getting started and want to learn more, we've done a series of tutorial videos for you  Using Zoom online meetings.

Good-bye 2020

As the year comes to an end, the US has surpassed 300,000 deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are certainly glad to say goodbye to this year and hope another like it never happens again. 

However, for those of us who stayed healthy and are financially secure, 2020 was a gift. It was a gift of time and opportunity. The opportunity to spend quality time with family. The opportunity to spend time with ourselves - without the pressures of normal activities. For those of us who have always wished for the world to stop and let us get off, our wish was granted this year. In spending quiet time at home or on walks in the park, we got to think about what we really want from life. I was able to read some of those books I wanted but never got around to - and I feel better for it. 

I love our travels and teaching seminars at RV Rallies, but having this year where all events were cancelled was like a reboot. When we start back up, we can decide what we really want to do going forward instead of just continuing on continuing on.

From March thru December, neither of us have left the house much at all. I can count on one hand the number of times we've eaten at a restaurant, and most of those were outdoor. We get our groceries delivered. When we are in public we wear protective face masks, but we haven't needed to do that much at all. The face masks really are uncomfortable, hot, and makes talking difficult. 

As 2021 gets started, the virus is raging hotter than ever and we are now facing events where we are booked to speak that have not been cancelled. We might need some more masks, and will just have to get used to the nuisance. A vaccine is now available, but so far, it is impossible to get an appointment to get it. We keep refreshing the website only to see the message "all appointments are taken, check back later."

We'll keep trying. Meanwhile, we have a happy hour Zoom call with our friends in Arizona today. Looking forward to it!