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, November 8, 2015

Florida musings

Lexie playing in the rain
While visiting my Florida family, I've been really suffering from the intense (and abnormal) heat here. Another day yesterday in the mid-nineties changed, finally, with a lovely rain storm. I was in Tampa and not at my sister's house when it began to rain. Hard rain, and Lexie, my grand-niece, ran outside to play in it. She stayed out for the entire time it rained, and then her mother (my niece Allison) changed her clothes and off they went to do some shopping. Norma Jean and I had been there most of the day, not only visiting with the two of them, but also with the newest addition to Allison's family, Alicia.

By the time the storm had passed and they left to shop, Norma Jean and I headed back home to Zephyrhills, about a 45-minute drive away. The entire atmosphere had changed after the rain. Everything sparkled and the oppressive heat was just gone. Funny how quickly I forgot about the heat and humidity, once it cooled off a little. Of course, I m a bonafide Pacific Northwesterner now, and Florida heat is not easy for me to love in any event. The heat wave is supposed to have broken today, and we should have more "normal" temperatures in the eighties rather than the record-setting heat of the past week or so. I have three more days here before heading back home.

I'm not ready yet to leave, even with the heat. I've enjoyed every little drop of time with Norma Jean, although we use video to "see" each other twice a month, it's not the same as being with her. And I've been enjoying the solicitous attention to our meals that her son Peter lavishes on her daily. He loves to cook, and he makes wonderful salads for each of us, beautifully presented and never the same thing twice. Tonight he will cook for all of us at Allison's, and I'm looking forward to whatever it is he will be preparing. I think I heard something about tuna steaks. He knows I'm happy to eat fish but not red meat, so I figure it must have something to do with me being here. He's thoughtful that way.

Peter also spoils the dogs. He buys a pork tenderloin at Costco and makes pork jerky for them. Boy, do they love that! Peter has been living with Norma Jean for more than two years now, and they have settled into a good relationship. Peter's dog Zen is older (13), and when Peter goes off on extended trips to California or Michigan, Zen seems very happy to be settled in at Norma Jean's home. Everybody is very content, it seems to me.

Allison, Norma Jean's daughter, moved from Alexandria, Virginia, to Tampa this past June. She has been promoted to full Colonel in the Army and is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base. I asked Norma Jean why an Army colonel would be at an air force base, and she told me it's because Allison is a member of CENTCOM, US Central Command, responsible for tactical operations in the Middle East. (That link provides a very interesting explanation of what my accomplished niece is doing with her life.) So, for the first time in many years, Norma Jean has all of her family nearby. And I benefit from it, too, by seeing everybody all at once. I hadn't seen Lexie in person since she was an infant.

Allison is a very high-powered person, very different from Peter. It's interesting to see how much Peter is like Norma Jean was as she was growing up, and Allison's approach to life is similar to her father's. Family dynamics fascinate me. Of course, I have four other siblings, but I am closest to Norma Jean. My sister PJ died in 2014, the last time I was with the rest of my siblings. With such a large number of siblings, I'm glad I have Facebook to keep track of them all. Some are much more active than others on social media; it simply amazes me how quickly all their offspring grow and change, and I wouldn't know any of that without Facebook. Some have even grown from youngsters to full-fledged adults, and since I haven't seen them in years, I would otherwise continue to think of them as children.

I'm sitting here in the living room now, with Peter, Norma Jean, and the two dogs. The sun came up on a day I'm hoping will be much less hot, as promised by the forecast. Sunday is the one day Norma Jean doesn't swim, so we'll go for a nice walk in what I hope will be cooler temperatures. And then Peter prepares omelets on Sundays, and that will be our wonderful breakfast. Oh, I'm getting spoiled. Not really, I am just enjoying it all.

Until I see you again, back in my normal routine, I do hope that all my dear blogging friends will have a good and productive week. Until we meet again, be well.


Anonymous said...

I am grateful for air conditioning in my home, because it can get very hot and humid here in Hawaii. I am so glad you are enjoying seeing your family in Florida. That makes up for the heat.

Linda Reeder said...

I enjoyed reading your descriptions of your Florida family and their relationships. They all sound like they are in a good place with each other.
I have siblings and offspring of siblings spread across the northwest and across the country too. I also keep up with them through Facebook, and I try to do the same by posting family events. I am by far the most prolific poster of my siblings. I wish they could take the hint and let me in a little more on their lives.
Have a good rest of your stay in Florida, and safe travels back home. May you find a bit of sunshine on your shoulders on Thursday, back in our mountains.

Tabor said...

Your gene pool is powerful and produces people that make the world go around. Glad you are all so close. Heat is hard on me as well, but I think that has to do with age. I am not too big on cold winters, either!

Linda Myers said...

Ah, yes, the heat. Grateful to live in the Pacific Northwest!

Elephant's Child said...

Hot? Humid? Bleah.
I am so glad that family time is weighing much more heavily (and positively) than the weather.
Enjoy your time - as I know you will.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I used to envy those who lived in warmer climates. What was I thinking? Sounds like you are having a wonderful visit. Lexie is growing up so fast...much like my grands, I guess! Enjoy every moment of your visit, and safe travels homeward.

Jackie said...

May God continue to bless the closeness that you have with Norma Jean.
Makes my heart smile to read about the love you have for your family....and theirs for you. Continued happiness to you....and safe travels when you head back to the Northwest.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Lexie is so cute in the rain! We were stationed at MacDill years ago. November is cool...we moved there in June and I thought I would die. Colorado to Florida...not a fun transition! It sounds like Norma Jean is doing well and it is nice that they are all so close to each other:)

Red said...

No wonder you like your Florida trips! Good food. Pleasant weather. Relaxation. relatives. It's a good time.

#1Nana said...

Sounds like you 're having a wonderful trip. I'm so glad you make the time to see your sister in person. I know it becomes more important to me to see my family as I get older. I'm looking forward to seeing all of them in San Diego in December. Safe Travels!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

It sounds as if they treat you like royalty! And it's been hot here on Florida's east coast, too.

Glenda Beall said...

Peter, the chef, is what I would love about your trip. How nice to have someone cook for you every day! Some days I go into my kitchen and stand trying to think of something I want to eat. I don't want to cook and mess up my kitchen just for me because I have to clean it up.

I had not remembered your grand niece was named Lexie. I love that name and that is what I call my new puppy. Good for your niece, letting Lexie play in the rain. That is wonderful when you are a child.

I, too, hate the heat of Florida. I don't go down there in summer. I hope to go down in January or February. That is the weather I like.

amanda said...

It sounds like Norma Jean's family arrangement is delightful - including having you there. :)
What a treat to be under the culinary care of a chef like Peter. I'm curious - does he clean after himself in the kitchen too? :)
I agree, family dynamics are extremely fascinating.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I also feel a great tenderness in your writing--the words you choose, the expressions you use--when you write about your sister Norma Jean. There is a bond between you that reaches all of us through your stories. What a blessing you two share.

It must be so comforting for her to have Allison and Peter there--nearby. And to see her grandchildren more often.

Peace ever and always.

Sally Wessely said...

Your time with family is going well. I'm so glad you are there with those family closest to you. Like you, I could not take that heat and humidity either. But then, I couldn't take all the rain of the northwest either. Weather really doesn't matter when you are with loved ones. It gets even better when one of them cooks fabulous meals for you. Enjoy your time, DJan. Hugs.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Thanks for the nice report on how things are going down in Florida. It sure sounds like you are having a fine time. Especially the dining! :-) And, of course, it is always good to hear about a family visit going so well. I am not sure, but believe you may be returning home either today or tomorrow, and if so have a safe trip. I'm sure all your other followers will join me in welcoming you back to the cool Pacific Northwest. Take care DJan.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Glad you are able to connect with family.
Heat, ha! not here its gearing up for the deep freeze. as i speak i sit here with 2 pairs of pants, a hoodie long sleeve top and a blanket thrown over me.

send some heat my way, not too much now, just enough so i can take off the extra pants and blanket.

stay blessed.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Heaven to be with family. Safe journey home.