Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Great Start to the Year

It is almost impossible for me to believe that we've been here at Fisheating Creek two days less than four weeks. This has been our longest stay in one place since we embarked on our adventure of a lifetime. We've left the campground only for groceries and other necessities, and we attended an RV show. I haven't even pulled out my camera. I know, crazy, isn't it? And, stupid. But, I'm in the middle of one of 13 (or is it 14?), books I've read since we arrived on January 7th. It has been a welcome respite, although in my literary immersion I got lazy and failed to schedule an airboat tour of the Everglades. I've wanted to ride on an airboat since I was about 7 years old, when The Everglades TV show was airing. Oh snap, and sigh. It's just another reason to come back.

We've had some chilly weather, and rain off and on, which kept us indoors or under our awning a bit. We met some wonderful folks and got reacquainted with others. We walked around the campground and checked the creek for alligators and it's always fun when one is spied; had a potluck up front at the campground entrance with the camp hosts and workers during the Friday evening check-in parade that marked the start of the MLK Jr. holiday weekend.

The campground was 100% full during the holiday weekend. It was great to see people out riding bikes, kids running around, the creek full of kayaks and canoes, campfires all over the place, and laughter in the air. Rob even took a video of kids riding a zipline the adults had strung between two big trees. They secured it in such a way as not to damage the trees and, boy, did it keep the kids entertained. If they fell, it would have been a short fall, maybe potential for a broken arm, but the risk was worth it for all the fun they had. But all of us who were here for more than just a weekend were glad when it was over and peace settled over us again.

We were fortunate that a particular family was assigned the three sites that were beside us on one side, the one behind that, and the one behind us. This family is Cuban and from Miami. And what a wonderful family! So very friendly and welcoming, and so… well, normal. Beside us was Luis and Stephanie. Stephanie is from Colombia, so Rob was thrilled to relate our experiences when we were in Colombia. Luis and Stephanie had two children with them—a son and a daughter—in their travel trailer. Behind them was Luis's parents, Luis Sr. and Annie, who camped with their teardrop trailer (which is the only thing I photographed). Luis Sr. built the teardrop and is still in the process of finishing it. So cute! Behind us were Jose and Rose in their travel trailer. Not only did we enjoy their company, but they introduced us to Cuban coffee.

Cuban coffee aka Italian coffee is pretty much sweetened espresso and it can be addicting. We were served the coffee in little plastic cups like those used in hospitals for pills; and, Luis Jr. had mini red solo cups for serving his brew. Both Rob and I wanted to start singing Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup when we saw them. They were adorable!

On the morning that all but Jose and Rose were leaving, I started asking questions about how they make their Cuban coffee. Even though Luis and Annie were packing up their teardrop, they stopped what they were doing to show me how by making a pot of it for me. They demonstrated how they mix the sugar with the first tiny bit of coffee produced to make a frothy paste, which looks a bit like butter and brown sugar when creamed; and how to know when the coffee is finished 'perking' as it is done by a pressure-cooker kind of method. They served it up in the little cups and then gave me the remainder to use for iced coffee later. Rob and I so enjoyed the treat but, that night, our bloodstreams were so infused with concentrated caffeine that we hardly slept. I found some decaffeinated coffee, but it also has enough caffeine in it that you can't drink it in the evening—I say no later than 3pm. 

Nonetheless, I did a little research on the cuban coffeemakers on Amazon. I went to see Jose and Rose to ask which kind they used so I'd know which to order. They asked what the prices were and just about fell over. I told them I'd found a 6-cup coffeemaker for about $30 and they said no, no, no! They so graciously offered to buy what we wanted in Miami since they were leaving their trailer and would be back the following weekend. I took them up on it and we now have 2-cup and 6-cup coffeemakers, a small pitcher for mixing the sugar and a can of Jose and Rose's preferred brand of coffee, all for the bargain price of $23.21. Thank you Jose and Rose! And it was a pleasure to meet you and your family.

If you read my last post, you'll know that I took our cat, Spooky, to the Humane Society's Vet Clinic, only to find out that he has a potentially life threatening injury probably caused by whatever happened that broke his ribs. I contemplated taking him to the animal hospital recommended by the Vet, but decided not to. Spooky has managed so far and I decided my main concern is his cough. It's funny that the Vet seemed to zero in on Spooky's other issue, which of course could shorten his life, but entirely ignored the cough I described. I would think that getting his lungs healthy would be a prerequisite to any kind of surgery, wouldn't you?

I researched online what to do to treat cat coughs and found that giving them Robitussen expectorant is acceptable. Well, we couldn't find regular Robitussen anywhere, so we bought the children's brand, flavored grape. Spooky would froth and foam at the mouth with each dose, even though it was helping. He hates it so much that the last time I tried to dose him four days ago, I had Rob hold him. He would have none of it! While I tried to get the medicine dropper in his mouth, he fought hard and he'd snap his jaws closed. He squirmed just as I tried to open his mouth again and clamped his mouth shut right on my thumb. My thumb was kind of upside down when his bottom tooth entered my thumb directly next to my thumbnail, slicing me open from about two-thirds back to the end of my thumb, and fairly deeply because he's got big, long, teeth for a cat, and punctured the other side with his top tooth. Holy crap it hurt! I was breathing hard and steady and getting dizzy (no I wasn't hyperventilating), and fighting off the vagal response that I am known to get when I feel exquisite pain. It was all I could do to tend to the wound before laying upon the couch to further breathe through the pain. My greatest worry was the puncture wound because they tend to heal from the outside in, which can promote infection. So I've pampered it by breaking it open several times a day, washing it and applying more antibiotic. It is on the mend.

What I learned, and now know for a fact, is that more than our big, human brains, it's our thumbs that caused us to become masters of the world. If I ever doubted it, I don't anymore.

I will now have to order cough tablets (expensive) for Spooky from one of the sites online when I know we'll be stopped long enough to receive delivery.

For me, one of the joys of our time here was the visit from my old junior high and high school friend, John Olexa. He brought along his lady, Marilyn, and we had a lovely, companionable afternoon and evening. While reminiscing, one of the things John said to me completely warmed and touched my heart. When we were in 8th grade, we were allowed to leave school to go home for lunch. One day, I went with my friend, Paula, to her house. Paula was on her 20 inch bicycle and I was on my brother's sting-ray. To keep up with Paula, my tires had to make that many more revolutions than her larger bike, which meant I had to peddle harder and faster. While we were peddling back, just a few blocks away from school, my left foot slipped off the peddle, which then hit me on the back of my calf immediately stopping the bike. I was propelled by momentum up and over the handlebars, landing on the pavement and sliding a foot or more on my teeth and mouth until I came to a rest in a heap. I still remember the moment my two front teeth broke. I got back on the bike, accompanied by Paula, and rode home. My mom took one look at me and cried, "Oh, your beautiful teeth!" It was devastating—more because I'd never known my mom thought I had beautiful teeth. My mom set out to get me to the dentist, and Paula went back to school. A couple of classmates witnessed the whole thing, Henry Reevey and darned if I can remember the other fellow's name, who I'm sure told the tale of Linda Luiz busting her two front teeth. John told me that after he'd heard what happened (I won't use the same words he did), that if he'd been 
just a little bit braver, he would've walked out of school to come see if I was alright. Just that he even thought about doing that for me is one of the sweetest, kindest things I've ever been blessed to know. I love you, John, my dear friend. Always have, always will.

Then there was Jim and Liz. We met them first when we were at Fisheating Creek before going to The Keys. I had just noticed Jim's dogs, Belgium Shepherds, thinking, "Hey! I remember those dogs," when Rob said, "Oh, look who it is!" They were equally excited about seeing us again. I heard Liz tell Jim, "Hey, look who's back!" 

When Liz heard that Rob's birthday was on Sunday, she mentioned that Jim's birthday was on Tuesday. So Tuesday morning I paid a kindness forward and baked Snickerdoodles for his birthday. He seemed astonished that I'd go to the trouble for him. And he said he'd never had Snickerdoodles before. Poor, poor guy. All these years of missing out on something as good as Snickerdoodles. And he loved them.

This afternoon we'll be off to Mike and Janet's camp for Super Bowl—which is just an excuse to eat, drink and be merry.

Yes, it has been a good month. Happy 2014.

Luis and Annie's Teardrop Trailer.

Our Cuban Coffee supplies.

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy that your year has started off so great. I am sorry about Spooky and your thumb. Big OW!! I love you guys so much and I love hearing and/or reading about your fantastic adventure. Look forward to the next posting.

    One of your five beautiful daughters.