Beautiful Pandora

Portrait of a beautiful young lady with blue skin and long, dark hair.

Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been on our radar for months. Summer in Florida is not the time for someone living with MS to be out, so we waited. The weather finally cooled. It was worth the wait!

It was a cool day, so my available energy was good. There is a long hill just after the park entrance. “Let’s see if I can push this.” Indeed, I did. I kept up with young families pushing strollers, so that was encouraging. (I’ve been rehabbing my shoulder and arm all summer.)

It’s the South, y’all, and for lunch we had a Southern favorite, pulled pork on mac and cheese with a side of cole slaw. And a big ol’ Diet Coke. We ate in a shelter house by the lake at the Flame Tree Barbecue.

Then on to Pandora. One of the most popular features is meeting the beautiful, blue skinned warrior Neytiri. The vegetation is awesome.

It’s afternoon and time for a break. Sandy went to get something to drink. “If you see something really neat, get that if you’d like.” She did! Behold! Chocolate mousse plus blueberry and lemon. If you are going to indulge, this is the way.

We explored a bit more and wisely decided to call it a day whilst my limited energy was still holding out. Next time we are going to do the ride and see the River of Lights.

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Thank you for stopping by. As always, I love your comments. I’d also be delighted if you subscribe. Coming soon, Epcot Food and Wine.

Pictures: Top photo is a close up of Neytire. She has clear, blue skin and beautiful, long hair. First composite photo has vegetation. A red plant resembling a croton only with fan leaves and a large yellow plant in the shape of a pineapple set amidst luscious ferns. Second composite are a chocolate mousse, a blue and yellow mousse, and then Sandy siting back and enjoying her soda. Final picture is George in my wheelchair, left leg on the footrest, right leg forward and on the ground, wearing an orange hat, bright green shirt, jeans shorts, and blue flip flops. (Yes, it’s a tad bit colorful!)

 

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Popping wheelies in the hurricane

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“One if by land and two if by sea.” What is the signal for something coming by land and by sea? We in Florida are looking down the barrel of a nasty hurricane. I’m in the middle of the peninsula about 60 miles (96 km) from either coast – and therefore close to both.

We have worked for days preparing, and this morning the first bands of wind and clouds arrived. The first wind driven rain arrived at noon. How does a paraplegic prepare? What extra precautions do we have to take to accommodate wheeling through this safely?

First things first, and that means food and water. We had sent our “hurricane kit” to Houston, so we started over. Canned soup with pull tabs, protein bars, 2 loaves of bread, and a big jar of cheese puffs. Additional water, orange flavored carbonated water, and some Coke Vanilla Zero. Then we went back for paper products and that necessary stuff. It was a lot of trips between the car and the kitchen. Sandy lifted the reusable bags out of the car, and I trucked them in on my lap.

Having taken care of ourselves, we moved outside. I lifted the small and medium pots off the patio, and Sandy carried them to the protection of the covered and screened lanai. Thank goodness for good neighbors. IMG_0427.JPGThey lifted what would could not lift and reached what we could not reach. The flowers you saw in The Empty Pots no longer grace the patio. It’s devoid of everything. Then we moved to the front of the house and repeated the process.

 

Books! Too heavy if we’d have to leave. Ebooks, yes! Lots of them. Audiobooks. Are three enough? Maybe not. Charge our electronic devices. Do we really have that many? I’m guessing you have several, as well.

Pffft. As I roll past the kitchen island the sound came from my left tire. Flat. Fortunately, in a moment of brilliance, I had ordered spare tubes. I can change a tire if needed and proceeded to try. That was a no go. Enter again a good neighbor. An excellent bicyclist, he picked up the wheel, tube, and tire and proceeded to change it with just his hands.

Rolling again, it was time to prepare the wheelchair. You might ask why something so important was left to last. I don’t need electricity to prep the chair, and flat tires aside, it is something that doesn’t require help from our friends. Make sure tires are aired, chair cleaned, front casters rolling well. My cushion is washable, and I’d washed it last week when electricity was certain.

Well in advance of hurricane season I had talked with our county Emergency Management people about accessible shelters and transportation. They advised me to stay in my solid home if at all possible but to call if I need transportation. Never ride out a hurricane in a mobile or manufactured home. Just don’t.

We are experiencing outer bands 12 hours before we will receive tropical storm force winds and 24 hours ahead of hurricane force winds. And in a wonderful moment after a band of wind driven rain. a rainbow appeared. We’ll be fine!

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Pictures: Top photo is the statue of a lady holding grapes in front of a dark, leaden sky. Center photo shows the brick patio with everything removed. The final picture is the same statue taken through a rain soaked screen with a rainbow beside her. By the way, her name is Gina.

Wheelies and waves

fullsizeoutput_149b.jpegI love ships – cruise ships. Big ones, small ones, new ones, and old ones if they’ve been refurbished. Cruises are our escape. Escape from the grocery, pharmacy, hardware store, watering plants, and running the robot on the floors. Escape to flip flops.

Oh, wait! I wear flip flops for everything. Let’s try this… Take my flip flops, my wheels, and my camera and go somewhere. Somewhere stress free and laid back and accessible. What is more accessible than the ocean if you have a beautiful ship?

Two weeks ago we drove to Port Canaveral and headed for the Caribbean. Sandy and I cruise differently than what one might expect. This week, for example, we actually used the dining room. My tux consisted of a shirt with buttons and soft, brown pants with the drawstring tucked in out of sight. And I wore socks!

This beauty is new and large. Very large with lots of carpet. Did someone find a sale at Captain Ollie’s Carpet Outlet? Wheelchairs don’t like carpet. I got pushed a lot more than I like. But other areas are nice and smooth with the freedom to roam around, get  a coconut cooler, hit the Coke Freestyle machine, and shop. I love to shop. This trip I bought some sunscreen and some spray aloe. I said shop. It takes money to actually buy!

DSCN1835We relaxed in the pool. Why are ship’s pools not accessible? Getting back into the wheelchair takes some doing. The lifeguards offered assistance. The water was warm and the fountains fun.

My favorite stop was the beach party. DSCN1801Caribbean. August. Hot. But the sidewalk is paved close to the water, there was a great breeze, and the lunch was fun. I didn’t attempt the sand. fullsizeoutput_1499.jpeg

You can make a cruise into whatever you want. Flip flops or ties. To this wheelie, the sea is the place to be.

Thank you for sailing with us. It is always a pleasure having you here. Try out the new Follow button!

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Pictures: The opening photo is a blown out flip flop with a repair tag that reads Flip Flop Repair Shop; Customer, Jimmy Buffet; Address, Margaritaville; Service Required, Fix blown out flip flop. – Small photo on the right shows a small, round pool with overhead fountains. Next pictures are of Sandy behind a life preserver and George under a palm tree on the beach. – Final picture is a large photo of George sitting partially turned in the wheelchair, in front of a cut out of a huge butterfly.

Where’s the Follow button?

DSCN1183 Last evening I received a nice message from my friend, Sassy Wyatt who writes the wonderful blog Thinking Out Loud. She was trying to find the Follow button. I knew it must have been there at one time. Nope, not there. Only by accident did I discover how to access it. This had to be fixed. And fixed it is. I cleaned up the side panel, simplified it, and added a nice, easy to find Follow button. If you are new here, I invite you to try it out! Meanwhile,  here is the link to Thinking Out Loud. I think you will like it, and I suggest you check it out. Thinking Out Loud

Thank you for stopping by. I always welcome your comments. By the way, Sandy and I just returned from a cruise. More on that soon.

Small photo at the top is a purple oval against a black background. Actually it is a light fixture from a cruise ship.

 

 

 

Saturday selfie

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Oh, the much maligned selfie! It has become an art form in itself. But let’s start with a confession. I took the picture on Friday with the intention of writing on Saturday. This leads us to today, Sunday, and the actual topic. It’s about life on wheels and the less than glamorous things that happen. And the blog entries that didn’t happen.

I have not forgotten you. In fact I think of y’all every day and am thankful for each of you. Why has blogging not happened? In a nutshell, this invincible, wheelie warrior has taken some arrows (watched Avatar last night, hence the arrows thought) and is rolling backwards instead of forward. Hey, I said it was about life on wheels, the ugly with the awesome.

About 6 weeks ago I was removing the cover off the neighborhood pool’s lift chair when I felt a sudden pain that felt like someone had chopped my arm with an ax. As it turned out, that’s about what happened. I ruptured the bicep of my right (dominant) arm. The tendon ripped totally off the shoulder. Whack!

Now we have a paraplegic with a serious issue, as my arms are how I move around the mall – and do the essentials of daily living. Let us not forget the uninvited guest that moved in long ago called multiple sclerosis. MS does not like to be disturbed. The injury poked my MS with a big stick. Not good.

The heat has been oppressive with no rain for months (yes, no rain in Florida). Heat + MS = Fatigue. Multiply that by tendon and nerve damage, and we have ourselves a fight. Literally every MS symptom, you can find the list online or just ask me, has flared up.

The sunflowers are in the form of seeds. The potting soil is in the form of a bag in the garage. So you get a selfie instead of sunflowers. Sorry about that. I’m doing therapy every day and going to the office weekly. Yesterday we did Target. Today I cleaned the wheelchair you see in the picture. It’s my backup, and it has to be kept running, too.

Life on wheels. It’s time to get on with things, adapt as we have all done before and will do again, and keep on moving. I do think I’ll try forwards instead of backwards. What do you think?

Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll try to do better at writing and sharing.

Photo is a mirror selfie. Summer blond hair, round glasses with light brown tint, blue and white polo shirt, white canvas pants, and my favorite blue and white Converse All Stars, loosely laced. Titanium wheelchair with red casters, wood plank floor.

Final thoughts & the missing blog

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Has it been too long to add final thoughts to our series on Around the World in 27 Days? I asked and was told it’s not too late. We returned home very tired. I don’t think I realized  how tired. In dealing with paraplegia and all the issues with MS, fatigue remains my most disabling problem.

Thanks to all who followed along with us and to those who joined along the way. You are genuinely appreciated. Somehow, someway, part of an entry went missing, and I’d like to fill in the gap, as it was an interesting day.

London in the winter is wet. We were prepared with a simple itinerary that took into account a rainy day. We jumped in a black taxi and were at the Victoria and Albert Museum at opening time.

FullSizeRender The exhibits were incredible. This is the Archangel Gabriel. I believe it dates from the 1600’s.

A trend in museums is to have some tactile exhibits. The V&A is no exception.DSCN1637 In the photo below I am touching a vase that is also from the 1600’s. There is a complete explanation in Braille. There are several such exhibits throughout the museum.

 

 

Of course on a rainy dFullSizeRender_2ay, there is the matter of lunch. Lunch at the V&A is affordable and in a beautiful room. The special of the day was one of my absolute favorites, leek and potato soup. Indeed, it was the best soup I’ve ever had. We were at a table for six, which was the only one available. We invited two ladies to join us and were treated to an interesting and pleasant conversation.

Have we covered everything? Not by a long shot, but there is a limit. I think we have reached  that limit on this topic. I always welcome your comments and will try to respond. I also am beginning to explore the blogs of my new friends. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support in this. Thanks especially to my wife and best friend Sandy. She makes travel and life in general a joy. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Photos: Top picture is the Victoria and Albert Museum taken in the courtyard. It has quit raining, and the building is gleaming in the round reflection pool. Second picture is a colorful statue of the Archangel Gabriel. Below that is George touching the vase. Final picture is a china plate and bowl with leek and potato soup and a slice of bread.

Awe in Westminster Abby

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I intended to write this entry last night, but the events of yesterday in London changed what I want to say. First, Sandy and I offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected in yesterday’s terrorist attack and to the entire city where we have been treated so wonderfully, during the Paralympics 5 years ago and again this month.

On our last full day we took one of the wonderful black taxis (all of them are accessible!) to Westminster Abby. In Roger Miller’s catchy words, “Westminster Abby, the Tower of Big Ben, the rosy red cheeks of the little children.” We explored the area in front of the Abby and around Parliament. About 15 minutes before opening we went over to the entrance and joined the queue that was just forming. A delightful gentleman showed us where to wait and said they would take us in through the accessible doors as soon as the Abby was open.

Photography is not allowed in the Abby, and I fully agree with that position. The Abby cannot be photographed. There is such a cornucopia of sensory input that just one cannot do it justice. I could not believe I was sitting in the very place that William was crowned in 1066 and every monarch since. Where Royals married and others were buried.

The nave is long and splendid with stone arches. I could hear the sounds in the arches far above and gauge the height. As we entered the transepts, the sound changed. It became more open, huge. The stone floor gently rocked my titanium chair, and there are plaques and crypts.

After touring we went to the cafe in the Cloisters. Tea and carrot cake. DSCN1742Then we explored some more, took our leave, and went over to Parliament. This is the exact area where yesterday’s attack occurred. The news and the pictures are surreal and heartbreaking. This is a happy place where people patiently wait their turn to take a selfie in front of Parliament. There were young couples, children, ladies on a girl’s day out, and even Floridians bundled against the cold. This is the meeting place where Commoners and Royalty stand.

Enough with the cold and damp, let’s play with Lego’s and find a pub. So away in another black taxi, and soon we were at the Lego Store in Leicester Square. DSCN1765

Pub time! The greeter/traffic director at the Lego Store said we would find some good pubs if we headed a bit south, so off we were to find a local eatery. In London finding a decent pub is simple. Soon we were enjoying pints of Carling and fish sandwiches. IMG_0490

At dinner time we were thinking maybe something light. The hotel’s restaurant/bar had chicken fajitas on the appetizer menu. In London? OK, why not? Hey Texas, y’all down there need to take notice. Paired with a Foster’s, the chef did this to perfection.

And then it was time to go home. Day 27 of Around the World in 27 Days was only hours away. This has been so much fun for me. The quality time with Sandy, the wonderful time with our family and friends in Taiwan, meeting our new grandson Cameron, sightseeing and sharing tables with Londoners who seemingly never meet a stranger. It has been fun having YOU along. Thank you for reading, for Liking, for commenting.

We have picked up some new subscribers, too! As we get things sorted out at home I will be looking you up, checking out your blogs. And thinking about a cruise. I’m always thinking about a cruise.

Images: At the top is a large image, almost Gothic in style, of a gnarled tree in winter in front of the face of the clock in the Queen Elizabeth II Tower. Then George at Tea  in a long, arched room.  A large picture of George wearing a red raincoat in a Lego train car. Finally Sandy ordering in a pub.