Waiting for a turtle

6 large bottles of spring water. In the foreground are an aluminum Florida Gators glass, a large, clear glass with beach chairs, and a stack of red, plastic cups.

The monster turtle

Have you ever waited for a turtle? A turtle that you can’t see but are told it is big and mean and getting bigger and meaner? And it’s going to walk right over your house? The turtle has a name – Dorian. It is a big hurricane that formed in the Atlantic ages ago and has been taking its sweet time on its trek. The forecast track put my house directly in Turtle Dorian’s path. We’ve been preparing for days.

I’ve experienced hurricanes that came too close, some that missed entirely, and too many tropical storms to mention. Only once was I scared, and that was during Charley, which came through at over 100mph in the middle of the night. All that having been said, never turn your back on a tropical system. But how slow can this thing move?

We are already stocked up with food that can be eaten cold, water, flashlights, a lantern, and numerous batteries. Over the past few days we’ve gassed the car, filled the bathtub with water, bolstered the supply of protein bars, and bought the most important thing to anyone who has weathered out one of these storms – comfort foods, aka snacks. Still waiting for the turtle. Snack and comfort food. A large box of Corn Chex, a huge jar of cheese puffs, tack chips, and powdered sugar donuts.

It’s looking the other way

Yesterday the National Hurricane Center began moving the forecast track of Turtle Dorian to the east. They admit they really don’t know. We are told that Central Florida can “stand down.” We are getting missed? Maybe. Tropical storm, but likely no more. We shall see.

I ask you a question: What should we do with all those bags of goodies? Do we wait for Dorian? Do we put them back in case the next turtle is more of a hare? Do we dutifully eat the stuff we’d normally not buy? Meanwhile, I think it’s time for a protein shake.

Where have you been, George?

Please accept my apology for being somewhat absent, both from writing and commenting you your blogs. I’m working to catch up. My family lives in Taiwan and is home for a month most summers. Plans got a little crazy, but the result was that I got to spend some quality time with my 6 year old grandson! Splash pads, coloring, LEGO’S, and chicken restaurants with indoor playgrounds. We built a robot “Daddy” with LEGO’S and put a tree on his head. Laughed ’till we cried!

Thank you for stopping by. I always appreciate your Likes and Comments. But what are we to do with all that comfort food if the turtle stays out in the ocean?

Images: Main photo: 6 large bottles of spring water. In the foreground are an aluminum Florida Gators glass, a large, clear glass with beach chairs, and a stack of red, plastic cups.  Second photo:Snack and comfort food. A large box of Corn Chex, a huge jar of cheese puffs, tack chips, and powdered sugar donuts.

Sandy, there’s no floor here!

Large, round sign that reads S P R Coffee against a green background.“Sandy, there’s no floor here!” I opened the door of the state-of-the-art elevator and found only a metal grate, through which I could see the floors below.

Taiwan is an island nation south of Japan. The island’s previous name, Formosa, is Japanese for beautiful island. I don’t know why I panicked in the coffee shop.

An urban park. The foreground is grass, followed by a small stream lined with river rocks, and beyond are more park and then skyscrapers in the distance. To the right is a foot bridge on which is visible a man doing Tai Chi.Across the city of Kaohsiung is a small chain of American-themed coffee shops called SPR Coffee. They are ornate and have a retro atmosphere. On the walls are photos, posters, and signs from the 1940’s and 50’s. Frank Sinatra, Norah Jones, and Harry Connick, Jr. emanate from the elaborate sound system. Coffee is ground in a huge, elaborate grinder and is always freshly brewed. They do food from hot sandwiches to Eggs Benedict. The shop near my family’s home takes 3 floors of a modern building across from a park.

Guests use ornate stairways, but there is an elevator for wheelchair users. It sits prominently near the lobby area and is a plexiglass tube. A barista showed me how to operate it and invited me to use it as needed throughout my stay in Kaohsiung. You’ve used the pneumatic tubes that connect bank drive-throughs to the main building. This is the exact same thing, only it will lift an adult using a manual wheelchair. It is swift and quiet.

On our first trip, we sat in the second floor cafe. The coffee and sandwiches were tasty and aromatic. We vowed to return, and return we did. Only this time we elected to try the third floor. That is where I nearly lost it.

In the center is the elevator. It has a blue, steel frame with a clear tube and a door. It is just large enough to carry a wheelchair. To the right is a young man with glasses, a navy shirt, and jeans. On the left are posters and pictures on the wall.As Sandy made her way up the steps, I was whisked quickly upward. I opened the door, began to roll out, and panicked. “Sandy, there’s no floor here!” All I found was an open, wrought iron pattern of elaborate, curving lines. My casters, the small wheels in the front of the chair, would fall right through those openings! I don’t do well with heights and balconies, except on a ship. Looking though the grate disoriented me.

“It’s fine. Come on out,” Sandy assured me. “But there’s no floor!” “It is plexiglass,” as she walked across it.

Sometimes things, are better than we might think. When scared, I made the matter out to be worse than it was. In fact, it turned out okay. This is the case with so many things in our lives. Bad things turn out for the best if we have faith and keep trying.

Expect the best, and prepare for the worst.

Thank you for stopping by. I apologize for having not written in a few weeks. Sandy and I did a 30 day detox. We have reset our brains and cooking back to healthy and nutritious. Much of what we are eating is organic. I’ve resumed doing free weights and have added some new things for arm and wrist strength.

Comments are welcome and appreciated. I wish you all the best. For those who have been in the bitter cold, Sandy and I care and hope you get an early spring.

Photo descriptions: The main picture is a round sign that reads SPR Coffee against a green background. Second picture is an urban park. The foreground is grass, followed by a small stream lined with river rocks, and beyond are more park and then skyscrapers in the distance. To the right is a foot bridge on which is visible a man doing Tai Chi. The third picture shows the elevator in the center. It has a blue, steel frame with a clear tube and a door. It is just large enough to carry a wheelchair. To the right is a young man with glasses, a navy shirt, and jeans. On the left are posters and pictures on the wall.

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. 

 

Winter solstice and the patio

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Earlier this year I wrote about the empty pot and suggested we should view the full ones instead. The empty pots By the end of summer and damage to the plants in Hurricane Irma there was almost nothing left. All the pots were empty. The winter solstice here in Florida means a time of cooler weather and a break from the seemingly endless summer. We used this time to plant anew. Even added a fresh coat of paint to the old lawn furniture.

fullsizeoutput_173bAs the days get longer I’m hoping to make more progress in working through my arm and shoulder woes, get through the reaction to a prescription med, and begin to feel almost human again. Like the new plantings in the old pots, this is the time to grow again.

The flowers were available when we first planted, but they were not a really good idea. They were delicate in the heat and attracted bees to which I am highly allergic. Now we have colorful perennials that should  take the heat and the cold and be okay if (when) I miss a day of watering.

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We still have the aloe, rosemary, and oregano, as those perennials literally weathered the storm. And in the front of the house the small rose is blooming.

As I was watering this morning, a songbird landed in the top of the elm and began singing. (Does anyone know what this bird is? White tip tail; I think it might be a mockingbird, as is sounds very much like a sparrow.) In Florida the beginning of winter was a new beginning on the patio and I hope in my life. fullsizeoutput_173a

My family will be arriving from Taiwan just before Christmas. Sandy and I are excited beyond words and feeling truly blessed. We wish all of you the joy of Christmas. Thank you so very much for stopping by and for your support. You are awesome!

Media: The top photo shows 3 small and 1 large planter with a red, ornamental grass, colorful crotons, and a tall tai plant; green bushes a behind. Below on the right is the edge of the brick patio with planters of grasses and crotons leading to the statue (her name is Gina) that has graced our patio for years. Then below on the left is the truck planter now planted with succulents. Center are the herbs, aloe plant, and the rose that is beside the front walkway. The final picture is a songbird in the top of a drake (Chinese) elm that has mostly lost its leaves for the winter. The bird is gray with white on the breast and has white on the tips of the tail that can be seen in flight.

 

 

Pop art and 85 Sky

I hope you like the catchy title, though it says little of the topic. We’d best forge on to the Pop Art Cafe. Friday evenings are for relaxing and giving ourselves a little reward. That seems to be a universal thing. With my pockets empty and no camera (and apparently the world didn’t end) we piled into the small Hyundai and visited a section that I’d describe as the Taiwanese version of Soho. With limited accessibility and maximum help from the chef/owner himself, I worked my way through a series of ramps and bumps that he had mapped out ahead when Cliff called to make a reservation.

The Pop Art Cafe’s chef, another George, explained to us that he is a Canadian who came to Taiwan as an adventure, fell in love with a lady and with the nation, and merged his art profession with his culinary passion. The fare is what he described as simply delicious American ranging from burgers to pizza to steaks plus a bit of Indonesian. Excellent!

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Pictures resumed yesterday with a trip to the 85 Sky Tower. Approximately the height of the Empire State Building, all similarities to other skyscrapers end when one views the building. The first 39 stories are two office buildings that then connect and have a single spire rising from there.

We were in time for afternoon high tea, which did not disappoint. Salads, fresh seafood, sushi, ham, pot stickers, and an amazing lemon green tea. Let’s not mention the seafood pizza. “Pizza is not to be made with seafood.” – G Rector, 2017

Have you enjoyed Taiwan? I hope over a couple of weeks I’ve introduced you to wonderful people and an amazing nation! This was Kaohsiung, family style, which is what the world is all about. I’ve popped wheelies over bumps, rattled down old sidewalks, and glided on marble floors. This is my family, and I love them dearly.

Thank you for the wonderful comments and the many Likes. To our new followers, I hope you will join us as we continue around the world in 27 days. My time and my energy (remember old MS fatigue?) have been stretched thin. I promise that once home I will visit your sites, as well.

Picture above is of Cameron standing in front of a drawing of 85 Sky Tower. Below are some pictures taken from the 74th floor observation area. They show the harbor, Love River, and the city. And a photo of my my beautiful daughter-in-law Natalie. 

Night market pinball

Thursday evening Sandy, Cliff, Cameron, and I went to the small night market near home. Having worked all day, Natalie cherished a few moments of quiet. Space in Taiwan isn’t wasted. The seashore area where we had gone has fishing by day, but on Thursday nights there is a local night market.

There are two areas of interest to children, and those are what interested us most. We arrived early, so things weren’t so busy. Cameron got his choice of the tiny pinball machines. He did well and won a helicopter. And had fun.

After pinball we made our way to the other end where a tiny train is set up in front of a temple that appears to be of ancient origin. Along the way were food stands with spicy foods like  fresh fish, chicken, shrimp. Having had dinner we stuck to enjoying the odors.

The train, a tiny set up of cars pulled by an “engine” connected to an electric motor supplied from an industrial battery, is hugely popular with the little ones. For a modest fee you can ride until your parents can stand no more. Then you receive a toy. Awesome.

As we worked our way back to the car we passed stands that resembled an American flea market that had some intriguing goods that we didn’t buy! By then the food stands had lines and the seats full. Willpower, George, willpower.

Thanks for reading. I got a bit behind in writing, so let’s put the night market to bed and move on to Pop Art and 85 Sky.

The top images show Cameron at a long row of tiny pinball machines with child size stools. He is wearing his light jacket, a baseball cap, and has his Snoopy backpack to carry home his loot. A third images shows the tiny train. Below are two roofline images of the old temple and a small shrine that is attached. Both are forms of the pagoda style architecture. 

Return to Lotus Lake

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When we were in Taiwan 3 years ago, one of the things that was most memorable was beautiful Lotus Lake (or Lotus Pond, as some prefer). We arranged to have more time this trip. Cliff let Sandy and me out; then he and Cameron joined us in the early afternoon. There is a temple built in 1681 and restored in 1977 along with the twin pagodas of the dragon and the tiger. Each are 7 stories tall and are connected to land by a 9 section bridge. You enter the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger. (‘Tis not wheelchair accessible inside.) Magnificent statures as tall as the pagodas are also in the lake. Everything is done with exquisite detail.

The day was quite warm and humid, so Sandy and I visited one of the small fruit markets that are in front of the temple and got some cold water from the ancient Coca-Cola machine. The kind lady invited us to sit under her umbrella. Before leaving we bought more water, and we got bananas after Cliff and Cameron joined us.

I was fascinated by what is essentially tether tennis. The ball is attached to a very long, elastic cord and secured to the ground by a heavy weight. You serve and return underhanded a la Pickle Ball. Had it not been for size and weight, which we are trying to reduce, not increase, I’d have bought the set from the nice lady who was demonstrating it on the square near the pagodas.

With due apology to my visually impaired friends who might not see the pictures well, the site does warrant a small gallery.

Thank you for reading, and please feel welcome to comment. Today, by the way, was an easy day with a quick trip to Carrefour’s grocery before lunch. Carrefour is the French company that is the parent company of Trader Joe’s and Aldi. Pizza for dinner!

Top image shows the huge green dragon and tiger. Below are smaller images of some monuments along with Sandy selecting our water from the old Coke cooler and a fisherman with his net.