I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A week before travel

Mt. Baker
When the date gets within a week of any sort of major trip, everything in my days begins to shape itself around the travel day. I'll be writing one more post next Sunday morning and then everything will be concentrated around getting myself the following morning onto a 2:00am shuttle bus to SeaTac. Yes, that's right: the middle of the night, really. My flight is at 6:45am and this shuttle is designed to get early morning travelers to the airport in time. I took it once before and was simply amazed at how many people were on the bus with me. I thought it would just be me at that hour.

I couldn't have found a place to retire that is situated much farther from my sister's home in Florida. I will travel from the northwest corner of the country down to the Gulf coast of Florida, not quite as far south as the Florida keys, but close. Between now and then, I need to pack and try to keep myself from getting sick. It seems that many of my friends have caught some kind of a respiratory virus that has them coughing and generally not feeling well. Often when I travel I end up getting a cold from stress and the proximity of lots of other people's germs. Not to mention that it wouldn't be much fun to arrive in warm and sunny Florida and be unwell. Norma Jean is looking forward to me visiting and not bringing any unwanted guests.

Last year I visited my sister during January, and this year it's a month later, but I am sure glad I'm not there right now. It's been unseasonably cold there, and when I talk with Norma Jean on video chat, she's bundled up and complaining about the cold. By midweek it will be even colder there, with the high temperatures in Florida actually forecast to be colder than it is here! It's been a really wacky winter so far, with us in the usually wet Pacific Northwest going weeks and weeks without any rain, and the northeast part of the country receiving storm after wintery storm. Some of my blogging friends who live in that part of the country have posted pictures that make me glad to be living here. As pretty as the snow is, subzero temperatures and wind do NOT appeal to me.

When I lived in Colorado, I loved to go cross-country skiing and sometimes could do it from my front door. There was a small park close by, and I remember times I'd strap on my skis and go out for a few laps around the park. It might have been very cold, but I didn't feel it because I was exercising, and I learned not to overdress, as I would be quite warm within just a few minutes. It's a little different here, since it's much more humid, and when my fingers get cold, it takes quite a lot of exercise before they warm up.

That's one thing I still haven't mastered: the art of keeping my fingers warm on our winter hikes. Yesterday it was around freezing when I joined the Fairhaven walkers, and I was cold when we began walking. It took almost twenty minutes of exercise before my fingers were warm. It's the same thing on our hikes: I can be warm and toasty everywhere and then we stop for lunch. By the time I've eaten, my fingers are frozen, and it takes quite awhile before they get warm again. I've tried mittens (which must be removed in order to manage my lunch), layers, but nothing really works all that well. Of course, this topic is discussed by all of us, as we are in the same predicament, and the only thing that seems to work consistently are hand warmers. These are little disposable packets that, when opened, generate heat for awhile.  I've tried them before, but I stubbornly continue to try to find a glove/mitten configuration that works. I know there must be one.

When it gets cold outside, I worry about the animals that must try to find shelter in order to survive. Many wild creatures have adapted to humans well enough that they take advantage of warm crawl spaces and other nooks and crannies. There are several feral cats that take advantage of our apartment complex's outdoor porches, and I've disturbed a few now and then when I leave in the dark. I've started leaving food for one of them, who always runs down the stairs when I approach, but if I talk to it, the cat will talk back for a moment or two before retreating. I think we have an understanding. I put a blanket out last night near a chair that the cat seems to have adopted, along with fresh water. Cans of tuna fish disappear, and although I have no way of knowing for sure that the cat is the one eating it, I like to think it is.

Since I will be gone for almost two weeks, of course I worry that the cat will miss me. But I must remember that it got along just fine before I discovered it, and it will be fine while I'm gone. But I do really wish that all the animals that don't have warm and safe places to stay could be looked after by those of us who are distressed by the suffering of our fellow creatures. I've seen enough pain in the world that being able to alleviate even a tiny bit of it affords me a bit of comfort.

I know this tendency I have to worry about things I cannot change is counterproductive. In order to distract myself I go about my life trying to focus on the positive aspects of the world around me, which is a pretty wonderful place, after all. I've got good books to read, movies to see with dear friends, and a social circle that sustains me. My virtual online friends also give me numerous different ways to look at the world, all of which enrich my life. Until next Sunday, I look forward to reading about your adventures before I take off on one of my own.


Cait O'Connor said...

What a good read, I love your posts. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Florida and look forward to reading about your time there.

Anonymous said...

It's been cold in Hawaii, too, dipping into the low 50s at night. Sweater time! Remember that there is no central heating in Hawaiian homes.

Deb Shucka said...

Have a wonderful adventure with your sister. I hope the weather warms up - both there and here. Keeping extremities warm is more and more a challenge, isn't it? I'm so grateful every time I read your blog that we're traveling this path together.

Linda Reeder said...

To the cold fingers I will add a cold nose. I know when I am not warm enough because my nose gets cold too. I usually start out on my walks with fleece gloves and they come off about 15 minutes into the walk if it is warm enough and not windy.
I will look forward to your reports from Florida. You and your sister have such a wonderful relationship, and she keeps you hopping down there. Hopefully I'll be coming home on that Monday while you are flying away.

Sandi said...

Hi DJan! Those fingers sure do take a long time to warm up! I was flexing and trying to work mine into being warm this morning while walking. It was so beautiful around 7 am, but oh so cold! I discovered the hand warmers, too, and they help my palms, but not those fingers!

Have a wonderful time with your sister in Florida. We have certainly received the best weather it seems in our usually drippy PNW this winter. I worry a bit about what summer will be like, with so little moisture.

Take care and enjoy your travels! Love and hugs!

Gigi said...

You nailed it-it definitely HAS been a wacky winter. Hopefully, the weather pattern will have gone back to normal by the time you land in Florida. I wish this for your trip and for my comfort! ;-)

Safe travels, DJan!

SquirrelQueen said...

Wishing you a wonderful time with your sister in Florida. When I read about your flight it brought back memories of traveling from Anchorage to Atlanta where my parents lived. I would catch the 2am Red-eye, stop over at SeaTac, and arrive in Atlanta in the late evening. Of course back then flying was much more comfortable with lots of leg room and sometimes no one in the seats next to me.

Thank you DJan for being concerned about those feral cats. Perhaps when you get back you could check with your neighbors to see if the cats have been spayed/neutered and if they are a cared for colony. If not there is very likely a TNR group in your area that would be glad to help.

What I use to keep my fingers warm when I'm outside here is a combination of what are now called Texting Mittens and hand warmers. They are fingerless gloves that have a mitten covering. If you slip one of the hand warmers inside the glove on the top of your hand that should help keep you warmer.

Arkansas Patti said...

Are you too proud to wear a mask? I probably would be but it might be a thought for those closed in areas on the bus and plane.
I do believe in those Hot Hands hand warmers. How about those mittens that have a flap to flip up to expose the fingers only so you could eat? Ok enough.
Have a wonderful time and stay well. Hope Florida will warm up just for you.

Red said...

Your first paragraph makes me think about our night life. When I moved here in the late 60's the place died after 6:00 PM. Now it roars all night. We have evening shopping and all night stores so people can be about all night. I'm sure you've seen the same thing. Once in a while when we go out at night it's surprising to see so much activity.

Linda Myers said...

I like cold weather and snow, probably because I've never lived in it. I'm sorry I'm missing out on the clear days in Washington.

Not regretting, though, sunny and 70 in Tucson!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Weather in Fl should be good while you're visiting your sister. I think our winter is pretty much done. Stay well on the flight, though!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I hope the weather in Florida is just wonderful during your visit. I wonder whether taking vitamin C and zinc during your trip would keep the germs from getting comfortable in your system. Be well, be safe, and have tons of fun!

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

An interesting post that I enjoyed reading. Good luck to you.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Rita said...

So excited for you to be off visiting your sister! Yes, even florida is colder than normal. Such a winter! I'm sure the cat appreciates the food more than you know.
I don't know much about special gloves or mittens. You'd think you could discover something wonderful googling, but who knows.
This week will fly by. Enjoy your time in the warmer part of the country. :)

Friko said...

Funny that it should always be fingertips that should refuse to get warmed up. I usually put one gloved hand in a pocket, that does the trick but it leaves the other one cold.

I feel like you about creatures that have to endure harsh conditions. Telling myself that natural selection will take care of the weak ones by killing them off doesn’t help. It makes it worse.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Your trip is getting close. Try some added vitamins maybe before you go..or some Zicam which is a homeopathic to make a cold shorter if you get one. The airplane seems to always make you sick. BUT maybe this is the year it won't.
Gene has started using up some old hand warmers on really cold days when he is in his woodshop, they are inexpensive.
I hope you have a wonderful warm time in Florida...although I have heard lots of complaints from that way.
Really cold here again tonight. I am longing for spring or at least temperatures where we can get outside:)

Mel said...

I hope you have a wonderful time with your sister. I live too far from mine too, but you win the distance prize!
Your heart is so kind, worrying about the cats. I'd be right there with you, trying to make friends with them. Lately, I've been worrying about squirrels, rabbits and deer too. We got the animal lover/nurturer gene, and the worrying about germs in airports gene too!
This wacky weather is worrying me too, the warmer it gets up north, the further the jet stream buckles south, everything is kittywampus. Isn't that a strange word for off kilter?
Looking forward to more stories of your adventures :)

Sally Wessely said...

I hope your trip is one made without picking up any germs. I hope it is a seamless trip with no stress and delays. And, I hope your time with your sis is just awesome. I know how much you two love being together.

My fingers not only get cold in the cold weather, they also ache. I had slight frostbite on my finger while walking home from school in Leadville. I have suffered from pain in my fingers in the cold ever since. I always make sure I have on good gloves.

Sally Wessely said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joyful said...

Have fun with your sister. I'm glad you are visiting her a month later so hopefully the weather will have warmed up by the time you get there. I know what you mean about this being the year for respiratory infections and coughing. I have a number of friends in that situation right now. Get lots of rest and that should help.