Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays from Kit and Kat
 at Busch Gardens, Tampa Florida

Friday, August 22, 2014

A few bumps along the way.

I was used to walking two to three miles a day with my pups and my hubby and enjoying the beauty that is Florida. Then one day I struggled to just make it around the block while walking the pups, but I pushed through as I know they need their exercise. The pain started in my calf, moved to my hip, and now my lower back. I continued to push myself every morning to walk my normal route, but would get home and have to sit in order to relieve the pain. After much encouragement from Kit, I went to see the doctor and she thinks it may be Avascular Necrosis which is caused by the loss of the blood supply to the hip bone.I have Antiphospholipid Syndrome due to the lupus, that could be a cause.  The doctor said it happens with lupus patients. I will need an MRI to confirm what damage has been done to the hip and then I may need a hip replacement. I am hoping to avoid surgery if I can.

 Another issue caused by lupus and hypothyroidism is Peripheral Neuropathy and I have been dealing with this in my right hand for years. The pain in my hand and in my leg wakes me up almost every night and just recently realized it is due to the lupus as well. The most recent flare has been one of the worst, but I am slowly feeling more like my old self again. When you are used to a certain amount of activity and all of sudden you can't move, it can be a bit depressing. I have even set aside my camera for awhile, but picked it back up today and feeling a renewed spirit. I will post more photos soon.

Until next time,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not Letting this Train Get Derailed

Why is it that life must always throw a curveball, when you expect a steady diet of fastballs?  Over the past couple of months, I have been really disciplined in writing (for my short stories) about 750 to 1000 words a day.  I have begun to relish getting my creative juices flowing.  But, it seems like, every time I really become immersed in something I enjoy, an old friend comes to visit.  Something similar took place several years ago when I was moving up the ranks in Tae Kwon Do, I succeeded all the way to a 2nd Senior Degree Black Belt and my 'friend' paid me a visit.  Then a couple of years ago, I became a habitual jogger, setting my personal records, losing weight and preparing to run more competitively, and my old 'amigo' stopped by once again.

It is almost as if, this 'companion' extracts, special pleasure, by waiting until I begin to achieve rewarding results before he swoops in to do his damned best at stomping all over my efforts.  Who is this 'friend' that I speak of?  He is not one, but two separate auto-immune diseases that reside within my body.  These two 'partners in crime' like to tag team me when I am at the peak of my game.

These diseases go by the names of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Ankylosing Spondylitis (or AS).  They are alike in the fact that they attack joints and connective tissues.  RA isn't real particular about which joints it attacks, but AS is a specialist that attacks primarily the lower back, fusing the spine in place as it travels upward.  In severe instances, it enjoys targeting the rib cage around the lungs, making it difficult to breath very deeply (I am not at that point, yet). When I was diagnosed with these conditions, in my mid-thirties, I genuinely believed that I could just push through the difficulties that would arise, when they arose.  And, for a while, I am able to do, just that.

In Tae Kwon Do,  I began to experience nagging injuries to my knees, ankles and finally my back that, essentially, retired me from the sport.  While jogging, I was able to avoid repetitive type injuries by a technique of 'fast walking' as opposed to a pure 'jog' for nearly two years.  But, my lower back eventually had its way, knocking me out of that activity, equally well.  I have been able to replace that activity, fairly well, with hiking.  I do enjoy hiking, but it does not have the cardio advantages that running does.  So, I have not been particularly successful at dropping the weight that I need to.

Not too surprising, I suppose, I have become susceptible to some levels of depression, as a result.  I currently take a low level anti-depressant, which has been pretty effective, along with some thought exercises.  I have also transformed my 'passion to write' into a self-help methodology.  Nevertheless, this Ankylosing Spondylitis is a cunning, insidious bastard; he can strike in the most unexpected ways.  As I was writing and putting words to paper, I noticed that my right eye was beginning to ache and the white of my eye was radiating, beet red.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw one normal eye and one very angry eye.  I hoped it was simply an allergy that, perhaps, eye drops or anti-histamines could remedy.

Ahhhhh, but no such luck.  AS has another little gift: a condition called Iritis or swelling of the iris.  Untreated, it starts putting pressure on the optic nerve causing intense pain and possible blindness.  So I am under treatment now, but my right eye is hazy which is quite distracting when you are attempting to write or work, for that matter.   It has taken me almost a week to write this entry.

But, I will recover.   I will pick the pace of writing up again.   This posting is not really about my infirmaries,  I want it to highlight that I am going to persevere.   I will not let auto-immune disease define me.

So, please bear with me for a while.   I will post some of Kat's wonderful photos soon.  I cannot possibly keep up with her.

Until next time.

See you on the trail,


Friday, August 8, 2014

What I Did This Summer

Every now and then, everyone indulges in a shameless self publicity.  Am I one of those?  Yep, I am today. While our blog has mainly been about our travels and interweaving Kat's photography into the posts, this time I am going to talk about some of my activities.

Ah yes, the lifestyle of full time RV'ers:  It isn't always about workcamping and discharging the black water tank.  Actually, that is merely a tiny part of it.  The reason we choose this lifestyle is to stop and smell the roses; we engage with nature and thoroughly enjoy the places that most people are too busy to even detect.  The 2nd component of that enjoyment is the analysis of the experiences that we partake in.  Kat does this by emptying the contents of her camera to her hard drive and editing her pictures until they become art.

I likewise have a process in which to relive what we experience.  I am doing this by writing fiction.  The scenery and people around me either become a story or drive me to include them (or a facsimile of them) into a narrative.

In the past, I have embarked on the process of writing fiction novels.  But when one lives the hectic life of a career, house payment, keeping up with the Jones's etc., It is easy to become sidetracked and lose focus on your story.  Kat has often become frustrated with me for starting and not finishing a book.  But now with the advent of e-books and self publishing, staying focused is no longer such a challenge for me.  I have also opted to modify my strategy:  instead of attempting to author the gigantic, monolithic, 'War and Peace' sized piece of literature, I have chosen to write novellas.  These short stories can then be used as a collection.

This change of strategy has paid dividends:  I have already published three short stories on Amazon.  Two of these stories are part of a serial publication that I have named 'The Pale Horse Saga'.  In literature, beginning with The Bible, the symbol of the pale horse has been synonymous with a deliverer of death.

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:8

This is a series about a secretive vigilante group who decide to take on the vicious men in power that believe themselves to be 'above the law'.  This group recruits the surviving victims of the atrocities of the wicked and trains them as weapons to bring them down.

I thoroughly enjoyed penning these stories and continue to do so:  Volume 3 is 75% complete.  But, more joy exists when others share in it.

I would love nothing more than having my peers, my compadres (in exploration) partake in my work and provide feedback.

Hence, I invite you, encourage you and just short of 'beg' you to download these free e-books, read them and provide an honest review.  If you enjoy it, hurray!!!  More are sure to come soon.  If you feel the need to scrape your eyeballs free from the shrapnel of my prose, then, please, feel free to roast my work verbally and literally, if you wish.

Below are the links.  Did I mention that they are free. In fact, you can also buy one and get one free.  If you wish, you can buy them at 50% off, since half of nothing is still nothing.  But this price is for a limited time, so don't hesitate, get them right away.

Volume 1 - The Rise of the Pale Horse

Volume 2 - The Pale Horse Goes Fishing

So, until next time,

See you on the trail,


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Homebase = Florida

After living for eighteen years in the Atlanta suburbs, Kat and I have officially changed our home base to Tampa Florida.  It was sort of a rocky road and not the most desirable route to get to our new location.  Long before we reached the decision to become full time RVers, I had been seeking work in Florida, but the opportunity never really presented itself.  It was our original desire to travel the United States and be able to travel to our grandchildren, but life can so drastically change overnight.  My brother's illness and passing brought us to Florida, but news from our daughter is keeping us there, for the present, anyway.  She and her family, residing near Seattle, Washington are moving to Hawaii.  Therefore, she and our grandkids will no longer be practically accessible by a land based RV.  That is not all terrible; I do not think we will really mind flying to Hawaii a couple times a year, but it definitely altered our goals.
Life is always an uncertain path, but we may as well enjoy it along the way.

In the meantime, I have attained employment in Tampa and we have found a really nice place to park our Dutchman.  And so begins our love affair with the state of Florida.  In Georgia, we had to travel hours to visit places of beauty and we did.  We relocated to Cumming, GA to be near the North Georgia Mountains and we experienced most of the beauty, Georgia had to offer.  But now that we are in Florida, unique places of beauty are only 10 minutes away in whatever direction.  As a photographer, Kat, is lost in wonderland so standby for a long series of subtropical paradise postings.

Finding time to reflect.  Hillborough river

These are just a sampling, some within walking distance of the camper.

Cypress Knees in the golden hour of the afternoon

Some neighbors foraging for lunch right outside our camper

Thank for taking the time to read my rambles, hopefully Kat's Photography makes it worthwhile.

See you on the trail,


More photos: Hillsborough River Watershed

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

We Have Reentered the Fray

It has taken several months of grieving and soul searching, Kat and I have  decided to, return to our blog.  No doubt, we went through a rough patch with my brothers illness and passing, along with an unplanned relocation and need to find a replacement income.  But, through all of that, we have survived and come out on top.

Our strategy changed,  as well as our overall plans (we are now full time RVer's  that are also full time Florida residents.  Kat has continuously taken pictures, while I commuted every week from Tampa to Atlanta.  I am finally free of that cycle, now working in Tampa.  Our kids are being transferred to Hawaii, so our need to travel the west coast is gone.  We are very happy to focus on Florida for a while.

So standby for a barrage of postings full of Florida's stunning beauty.

Until later, happy trails.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Florida's beauty is my therapy

It has been two months plus since my dear brother in love Dennis passed. I was unable to write anything for awhile and it has hit Kit and myself to our core. I never imagined life without him in it or how much I would miss his comments, love, and likes on my photos or posts on Facebook. Not that I am just living on that social media, but that's how Dennis chose to communicate to us. I never imagined being here in Florida without Dennis there to share a pot of coffee and not be able to sit with him for hours. When we made the decision to live in an RV full time, one of the driving forces was to search him out and spend some time together. Kit and I would talk about that dream to drag him along on our adventures and share some talks over a pot of coffee. We knew from speaking with him how much he was hurting and the regrets he had on choosing to remarry. We wanted to supply him with that escape. We knew he was working too hard, but that was who he was. Dennis was always there for us in our youth and he gave us some superb advice. I will always treasure those fond memories of him.
I remember the first time I met him and his lovely Vicki. I was seven months pregnant and my doctor told me due to my previous pregnancy difficulties that I would not be able to travel from California to Florida in a car, so I had to fly. I was flying with a two year old (who as all two years olds can be a bit unruly at times) and seven months pregnant, while Kit drove our little car across the United States. Dennis offered to pick me and my little two year old up at the airport. The flight was not an easy one as we hit turbulence and I was nauseous. When we finally landed in Florida, I saw this man with this crazy mustache walk across the airport towards me, with sweet Vicki on his arm. I had a description and had seen photos of them, but had never met them. They immediately wrapped their arms around me and I nearly broke with relief. As my sweet two year old was in a stroller, Dennis immediately let her out. I told him she had boundless energy and he said that's alright I got this. My girl had her uncle and aunt wrapped around her finger from that point on. As I predicted she bounded off and Dennis ran after her. Vicki and I started chatting and she helped me with my luggage and wouldn't let me lift a finger. Dennis was still having fun chasing his girl as he called her. They came back hand in hand with huge smiles on their faces. The connection between them was priceless and I can still see the love in his big huge eyes for us and Vicki's sweet hugs. Oh how I miss them and how we connected and they made me so comfortable from that first moment. I fell in love with them and their sweet boys (whom I met later) and felt so at ease with them.
There are so many memories of them being there for us throughout our time in Florida. We spent a lot of time getting to know them. When Kit was in boot camp, I was planning on staying home for Xmas, Vicki and Dennis would not have that and picked me and our little bit up for a family reunion in Tennessee. You could never argue with Vicki and her stubborness, she would not take no for an answer. Vicki was what I always had hoped for in a sister as I had none growing up. We had a such a great time on just the drive up, they were always helpful, loving, and giving. Dennis and Vicki were so much fun to be around and their two boys were so sweet. I fell in love with their boys as much as they fell in love with our girls.
On leaving Florida, Dennis and Vicki insisted we stop at their shop. Dennis wanted to make sure our car was safe for the long drive up to Massachusetts. He did a total overhaul on our little car, gave Kit some tools, and Vicki made sure we had all we needed as well. They were the most loving and giving couple I knew. They would not hear of any payment and with many hugs and kisses they sent us on our way. To me their kindness touched me to the core and I vowed to one day repay that kindness.
Throughout the years we kept in touch, we watched as their sons grew into young men and they watched as our girls grew. Even over the miles we were close.
As Kit was leaving the Navy, Vicki got sick and I lost a sister and Dennis lost a huge piece of himself. I remember one time after she passed of us getting together with Dennis and he took us out for a drink. After having a few drinks and good talks, Dennis did some karaoke and he blew me away with his voice. The man could sing and we had some good times that weekend. It appears all three brothers have a talent in that area. My Kit sang to me at my wedding and has a beautiful voice. Dennis was hurting and we told him our home was always open to him anytime. He did end up moving in with us for quite awhile, but he always helped pitch in around our little home. Kit and Dennis replaced the flooring, planted a garden, and Dennis made me a gorgeous hanging pan wrack. Dennis and I made fresh homemade salsa together and we just genuinely enjoyed spending time talking over a strong pot of coffee. Dennis was always there for his boys as well as our girls and he was a huge influence on them. I never wanted Dennis to leave, but when he did we never lost that connection we had developed. We visited him in Florida on our family vacations and had fun miniature golfing with him. He was always teasing us girls and had such a great connection with his brother. When we needed advice we always went to Dennis and he always took the time for us. The girls were spoiled by him and had fun with their uncle, but what I value the most is what a positive influence he was on their young lives.
As Kit and I explore Florida now, I can feel and see Dennis everywhere I look. I will forever miss my sister Vicki and my brother Dennis. In his passing my heart shattered, but I am happy that he got to tease me even in his last few weeks. I have this huge urge to "Get in the kitchen and make him a pie" as he always said. I only wish I could have one more pot of coffee and time to make him his pie just so we could once again sit and have one of our deep discussions. Dennis you were loved by so many and will be missed deeply.

Always in my heart,