Beat the heat? No, but…

A hot, hazy sunset. The white sun is setting below a cloud bank is an orange sky.

The ad on radio fairly screamed, “Beat the heat this summer.” How exactly are we going to do that? Answer: We aren’t, but we can live with it. As I sit at my writing table I can think of several things to do about summer or year ’round in tropical areas. I’ll do these randomly off the top of my hatless head. (I don’t wear my hat in the house, which, by the way, is nicely air conditioned.)

Screen shot from a phone showing the weather for a city, Clermont. It shows Partly Cloudy, 94 degrees. The forecast for 3 days is for sun and thunderstorms with highs in the 90's. There is a notation written on it, pointing to the 94 that says, "34C."
As we enter July, much of the Northern Hemisphere will experience several weeks of hot temperatures and bright sun. For anyone with a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia, the summer heat means fatigue is a problem. For those with light skin, sunburn is a serious matter. Let us not forget that darker skin can burn, as well. Para and quadriplegics who do not regulate heat in the paralyzed areas face the serious danger of over-heating.

I personally do better in the heat than the cold, but I still have to manage it. Along the way I’ve read some very good tips and learned a few on my own, sometimes the hard way.

These are some things that come to mind in no particular order that can help. The byword of summer is Hydrate. Hydrate, hydrate. I can’t say it enough. Water is generally considered the perfect hydration drink. I like my water either filtered or natural spring water and cold. I cannot comment on sports drinks with any authority. If I get too hot, I like a couple of them. Please note that energy drinks are not considered hydration drinks.

A simple, yet effective, tool for keeping cooler and reducing light is the hat. There are hats of all styles. For light and heat we are concerned with three things: the color, the brim, and the material. My wife Sandy wearing a soft blue and white striped hat with a large, floppy brim. She has on a matching top, dark sunglasses, and long, light colored hair.

  • Lighter colors reflect light and heat. A white hat will let less heat get to the head than a black one. A dark color on the underside of the brim, however, will help with light that is reflected off of sidewalks and bright surfaces.
  • Brims can be wide (think summer straw hat), turned down (rain hat), or just in front (baseball cap). Wider defects light off of a wider skin area, whilst turned down offers good protection for the sensitive skin on top of the ears. The ubiquitous baseball cap is practical, relatively inexpensive, and comes in a myriad of logos. A friend who was helping me clean out my closet asked, “How many of those hats do you really need.?”
  • Material speaks for itself. A light cotton will be cooler than wool or felt. I have a cooling hat that has a wide brim, dark green underneath, and looks silly (my wife disagrees about silly). It can make my day outside possible.

Much the same can be said for clothing. Light colors reflect light and thus heat. Before moving to Florida I’d never have teamed a white shirt with khaki pants or shorts. It is common, and I quickly found out why. Fabrics that breathe are cooler, and looser is also cooler.

I know this will give you the perfect excuse to go out any buy that white Porsche you’ve been wanting. The color of your car makes a huge difference to its interior temperature. When we come out of the grocery a black car in the Florida sun will be 40 degrees (22C, I think) hotter than a white car. Either way, it is best to air it out and let cooler, fresher air flow through before getting in. Please don’t ever leave children or pets in the car.

Lighter to reflect light, dark to keep it out of our eyes, fresh air, and water. Now go find a nice air conditioned spot and get back to the book you’re reading!

How do you keep cool in summer? Let’s share ideas and things that work for each of us.

And that photo at the very top? That was the actual color of a Caribbean sunset, not a filter. The day got very hot. Thank you for stopping by. I hope I’ve not sounded too much like a physics professor, except maybe my high school physics teacher who made even physics fun.

George

Picture Descriptions: Top photo shows a hot, hazy sunset. The white sun is setting below a cloud bank is an orange sky.  The second photo shows a screen shot from a phone showing the weather forecast. Currently 94 degrees. The forecast for 3 days is for sun and thunderstorms with highs in the 90’s. There is a notation written on it, pointing to the 94 that says, “34C.”  Third photo has my wife Sandy wearing a soft blue and white striped hat with a large, floppy brim. She has on a matching top, dark sunglasses, and has long, light colored hair.

The Amish bakery

Front of a bakery. The entire front is made of doors and windows with individual panes. The trim is painted bright red. There is cutout of an Amish lady with white hair, black bonnet, blue dress, and black apron. She is holding a basket with a napkin and cookies. Below is a sign that reads, "Fresh Amish Pies and Cookies.

Do you ever simply need to get away from the daily routine? A simple outing? We visited a small town an hour from our home. It was not a thrilling, or even particularly successful visit. Then we found a small Amish bakery and deli. I’ll tell you about lunch, but first…

We left home, crossed Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest spot on the Florida peninsula at 312 feet above sea level, circumvented Lake Apopka, and arrived in Mt. Dora. A small town, noted for its quaint shops and eateries, it is usually bustling. It is also extremely hilly. We have gone before but never were able to get an accessible parking space. We arrived in town, passed a picturesque church, and spotted an old shelter house. Perhaps there would be parking there. Yes! In the back was a space. We ate our mid-morning snack as we watched a rousing game of pickle ball. Shopping time. We trudged up and down hills over a few blocks. There were some interesting antiques and some fun things for the garden. An old cooler resembling a Volkswagen Bus from the 1960's. It is blue with a white stripe and front. On the front is a peace sign. The lid is open, and the inside is painted black.We didn’t buy anything. Manual wheelchairs are not fond of steep hills and rough curb cuts, but we made it. What we didn’t find was a lunch place that struck our fancy. It was only noon, and we decided to explore in the car. If we didn’t find lunch other than a chain, we’d go home and have a protein shake. 

Aha! A small building with red windows and doors. “Amish Bakery and Deli.” There were bright red tables and chairs on the small porch and in the front lawn. I opted for the pastrami, and Sandy chose the chicken salad, both on freshly baked ciabatta bread. Lean pastrami piled on ciabatta bread. It is cut in half, and top center is a small cup of macaroni salad.Ten dollars each seemed a bit high until we learned this included the sandwich, a side of macaroni salad, a bag of healthy potato chips, a warm chocolate chip cookie, and our choice of beverage. Yum. Each lunch comes is a red box that makes its own carrying handle. We ate half of our sandwiches, our macaroni salads, spit a bag of chips, and ate the rest for dinner. 

Life on wheels. It has its challenges but can be very rewarding if we keep searching and enjoy the simple things. 

Thank you for stopping by and sharing a common day with Sandy and me. I enjoy your comments and questions. In the works are some pictures and descriptions of the repeat of an ill-fated vacation that was very successful this time, but I got overwhelmed with things at home and haven’t finished it yet. 

Picture descriptions: Main photo is the front of a bakery. The entire front is made of doors and windows with individual panes. The trim is painted bright red. There is cutout of an Amish lady with white hair, black bonnet, blue dress, and black apron. She is holding a basket with a napkin and cookies. Below is a sign that reads, “Fresh Amish Pies and Cookies.” Second picture is an old cooler resembling a Volkswagen Bus from the 1960’s. It is blue with a white stripe and front. On the front is a peace sign. The lid is open, and the inside is painted black. Third picture is of  lean pastrami on ciabatta bread. It is cut in half. Top center is a small cup of macaroni salad. 

Fall break, finally!

Version 2

I need a break – badly. It looks like that is going to happen. It has been very hot here all summer without any let up in the heat. In July I wrote about the Florida summer. ( it’s the humidity ) I am pleased to say that autumn is bringing a bit of relief. I’ve stayed inside with the overworked air conditioner,  but it and I are going to being spending less time together. When? Let’s try now!

The days are getting shorter, the light more slanted. It is time for me to just roll back and take a break. As we speak my camera battery is on the charger. More time with the old camera and less time with the computer. More time reading and less time stressing. The rest of October is mine. I’m claiming it for Sandy and myself.

I’m going to find a winding path, a city street, an old church. Something other than the daily grind. Look at the ocean, share some small plates. With my Kindle loaded, it is time for an adventure.

Please bear with me when I get behind again because I surely will. Please know that your comments and blogs will be read, just maybe not on schedule for a few days. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your comments – and your patience!

What is your favorite season? Do you love fall or dread it? There seems to be no in between.

Picture: A paved path winds through a park with grass and trees still wet after a rain. A mist hangs in the background. 

Stinky and Dirty

A swamp in shades of greed with long afternoon shadows. There is a central area of moss covered water with trees on both sides.

Stinky and Dirty… Am I describing this beautiful Florida swamp? I’m talking about the cartoon that is currently playing on our seldom used TV. Stinky is a brown garbage truck, whilst Dirty is a yellow backhoe loader. They are best friends and the heroes of the series. It’s one of my grandson’s favorite shows. Our family is visiting from Taiwan. It is an exciting and blessed time and one of the reasons I’ve been a bit absent.

A couple of weeks ago we met up in Asheville, North Carolina and spent five days with our little guy while Mom and Dad attended a class. Wow! Five year olds have more energy than I remembered from being a parent. Or is it that I’m considerably older? Can’t be that, can it?

The summer has been another hot one here in Florida. It seems like there is an appointment or something every morning, and then it storms in the afternoon. Pool time has been non-existent. I love the pool because I can move freely when gravity is removed. It’s liberating.

It is a gray, gloomy afternoon. Thunder is crashing around us as we speak. Matches my mood. It just hasn’t been a great day. Sometimes I think I paint a rosy picture when in fact there are not-so-good days, as well. Such is the nature of life and especially of life with Multiple Sclerosis. My lesions are almost entirely spinal cord, but I am still blessed with the usual myriad of symptoms.

So while stinky and dirty is how my day feels, Stinky and Dirty are a bright spot reminding me of the love and joy inside that little guy and the hope of all our futures. Wishing you a Stinky and Dirty kind of day!

Thank you for stopping by. As I warned in the Popping Wheelies premise, “…you are about to find out.” Life is good, the future is fine, and there will be some clouds and thunder.

Picture: Large picture of a Florida swamp. It is shades of green with long, late afternoon shadows. In the center is an area of moss-covered water. Trees are on both sides. 

 

it’s the humidity

The classic American summer begins on Memorial Day (May 30) and ends on Labor Day (early September), which puts the Fourth of July pretty much in the middle. Close up of a huge, yellow sunflower. Yellow petals with an amber center.
Mix Florida with July 4th, and the result is a hot day. The forecast for Florida every day, every summer is the same: 90’s and thunderstorms.

One summer we went to Las Vegas. “It won’t be hot here because the humidity is low.” It was hot.

There is a point to all this. For many of us who are heat sensitive, whether it be due to multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, paralysis, or any number of chronic diseases, summer can be a difficult time. “Do you want to meet on the patio at the Crooked Can about 5:30?” In hopes of a miracle, I check the forecast. “I’d love to if we could make it later. Say October?”

So when those of us in your group of summer loving, heat wilting friends seem to be in hibernation, we actually are. Unlike Las Vegas, however, it is not hot in Florida. “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity.”

On this auspicious American holiday I thank you for stopping by. The air conditioner is humming along nicely, and the thunderstorm missed us, so all is well. I love your comments. What are your thoughts on summer?

Picture: Close up of a huge sunflower. It has yellow petals and an amber center.

 

Sun, rain, and bargains

George is in his wheelchair. Blond hair is a bit messed. He is holding a large shopping bag, 2 large black plastic bags, and a large green bag. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt with white stripes, white shorts, and flip flops.Everyone loves a bargain, and everyone needs things. Thus arose the outlet mall. In Orlando there is a boulevard call International Drive. It runs from Universal Studios on the north to Sea World on the south.  But there is a spur going east from the north terminus, and that, my friends, is where you’ll find the largest outlet mall in the Southeast.

Sandy and I each needed some shoes. More correctly, she needed shoes and I needed flip flops (plus, of course, an article or two of clothing). The 6 o’clock alarm is silenced at 5:45 and we don’t get an early start. It’s 10:30 when we arrive. Big mistake. We got the last wheelchair accessible space, and it was in a lot at the far end from the shoes.

By 11:30 we had “bought 6 and got 3 free,” but not shoes, and we were at the food court. Breakfast had been skimpy, and there were seats. We opted for Panera. Sandy had salad. I had half a sandwich, a small salad, and a gallon of the ginger, hibiscus, whatever iced tea. Shoes? Well, there’s this shirt in a window and a clattery cart going by. “Go in there,” I called to Sandy over the noise.  Somehow  I managed to emerge with just the shirt. On to shoes.

“Does the buy on, get 60% off the second apply if we buy 4?” A bit later we emerged with the large green bag filled with plastic shoes and flip flops. Then it was on to real shoes for Sandy. One style she liked fit well, the other didn’t. Calling the trip a success, we began the trek back toward the car in the 94 degree (34 Celsius) summer sun.Light green background with large, red print reads, Outlet mall. Got 2 things I needed and 5 things I didn't. Think of the money I saved.

Behold, Nautica. “Can I look in there? We can cool down.” So cooled down and 6 more articles of clothing in the bag, we plunged into the rising heat. Why are outlet malls so hot or so cold? Halfway to the car we encountered Starbucks and a grande, iced green tea.

As we are clearing the heaviest of the metro traffic, there is lightning up ahead. By Lake County, we met the rain. Wow! A good thing happened, though. The rain removed the bugs the $13 car wash had fail to cut.

Before I put any of it away, several things are going to leave my closet. We spent the better part of today in there. At least it was air conditioned and dry.

Thank you for stopping by and joining us in the sun and rain. I love to read your comments.

Pictures: Main picture: George is in his wheelchair looking into a shopping bag. He is holding that bag, 2 large black, plastic bags, and a large green bag. His blond hair is messed. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt with white stripes, white shorts, and flip flops. Smaller photo: Light green background with large, red print reading, “Outlet mall. Got 2 things I needed and 5 things I didn’t. Think of the money I saved.

 

Replanting and writing again

Portrait framed photo with newly planted, but large, crotons along the edge of a brick patio with a white, Greek type statue at the far end.I’ve been planting again, and hopefully writing will happen, too. In the post Winter solstice and the patio  I showed some crotons and dusty millers that we put out before Christmas to replace those that died in Hurricane Irma. All except the dusty miller froze out during the record cold that followed.

With the arrival of spring, we are not so pressed for time and have planted the beginnings of a hedge of rosemary. This friendly herb will grow tall, likes the sun, and be tolerant when I don’t get it watered. I hope.Foreground is a brick patio, raised above the lawn, that has planters with hand high rosemary plants. Receeding is an ornamental grass, and at the end a dusty miller plant.

In the front, Sandy and I have been trimming up a potted bush whose name I haven’t a clue. It is green with red blooms and flourishes in Central Florida. In front of it I replaced two red pentas that also died in the freeze. Tall, ornamental green plant with red blossoms in the shape of small trumpets hanging down. Very bottom shows 2 small pentas.

Writing again… I have a “new” writing table. Finding one hasn’t been quick, though I’ve wanted one for some time. My legs just barely fit under it, but how much clearance do I need? They fit. And the table fits the style of our home. It even fit the budget.

So things are happening slowly and, to be inaccurate, surely. Thank you for stopping by. I am always grateful that you did and love for you to make comments.

Off white, antique distressed table. It has 43 shallow drawers and turned wooden legs. On the table are a green desk lamp, writing pad with sharpie, reading glasses, laptop computer, large Donald Duck mug, antique looking magnifying glass, a coaster, and a tray for mail.

Here’s a little smile for those who managed to read this far. It’s a bloom on our magnolia tree, which is just off the patio in the back.

Dark green magnolia leaves surround a large, white bloom.

Top photo: Raised, brick patio with planters along the edge and a Greek style, white statue in the background. Planters contain new crotons, a tall grass, and some dusty millers. Second photo shows the same planters in close up with new, hand high rosemary plants, an ornamental grass, and a dusty miller that survived the freeze. Third photo is a large plant with long green leaves and red, trumpet-like blooms hanging down with 2 small pentas at the bottom. Fourth photo is a writing table, well worn off-white color, turned wooden legs, and 3 drawers. On the table are a writing lamp with green glass shade, writing tablet with Sharpie, reading glasses, laptop computer, large Donald Duck mug, antique style magnifying glass, and a tray for mail. 

Popping wheelies in the hurricane

FullSizeRender

“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!

FullSizeRender

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!

DSCN1814.JPG

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.

The empty pots

IMG_0347.JPG

It’s a truck load of flowers, and it is delivering a load of pleasure. Or is it? What do we see or feel or smell?

Near our truck are pots of flowers, fragrant and a delight on the patio.

But next to the truck is a planter of pots whose flowers could not take the Florida summer heat. Or maybe I didn’t water them like I should have. IMG_0349.JPG

What do we choose? Do we   dwell on the empty pots, or do we smell the flowers? It is all too easy, and I think maybe even natural, to say, “That bare spot is ugly,” when there is so much to enjoy.

This is something that I am having to tell myself over and over, literally every day as I try to rehab my arm and shoulder. How much can I get back? How much function can I, as a full time wheelie, hope to regain? The point here is that moan and groan while there is beauty and love around us is just not the answer.

I hope y’all are doing well and having a good summer. Thank you for stopping by, and I always appreciate your comments and will try to answer. You are the flowers in my garden.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Photos: Top is a concrete planter in the shape of an old time truck with a bed of red pentas. Second is a row of circles, each featuring a healthy and attractive plant. Third is a large photo of a concrete planter with three empty pots. Bottom is an explosion of Mexican heather that is loving our hot, humid summer.