Good Morning & An Update


(For Mae)

Happy Freya’s Day, Everyone! (Okay, Friday is actually named for the Norse goddess Frigg, but Freya and Frigg are considered by most to be the same goddess. That being the case, I’m going with Freya, because, you know. It sounds nicer. 😉

At any rate, I hope your day is a good, productive one with plenty of smiles. 

As you may have noticed, I don’t have things back on my preferred schedule quite yet, and I apologize for that. The truth is, I’m still not feeling 100% after my fall of two weeks ago. I’m vastly improved, for sure, but I’m still suffering some recurrent dizziness and fatigue. This isn’t uncommon when you’ve received a concussion and can continue for several weeks before finally disappearing. And while the ER doctor said he didn’t THINK I had a concussion, he also told me to watch for the signs of one. (Along with the signs of brain bleeds and swelling, and various other things. I spent a lot of time watching, believe me.) Bottom line is, concussions are often missed, and based on the types of symptoms I have going on right now, it appears I’m still recovering from one. Frankly, I’m just grateful I’m not still recovering from a fractured skull. 

And all of this is by way of telling you that, as you’ve no doubt noticed, #FirstLineFriday has been put off for another week, due to a couple of bad days Tuesday and Wednesday that pushed me even farther behind on my overall work schedule. But NOT to fear! I am much better than I was, and I know I’ll be catching up soon. I’m just trying to do what my  doctor suggests and not push too hard, though it’s against my nature to be idle very long. So, I work a bit, and then I rest a bit, and by and by, I expect the time spent working to increase until life is once again as normal as it gets around here.

Thanks so much for your patience and your well wishes, and all the kind things everyone has sent me. I appreciate each and every one of you more than you can imagine! Will be resuming my usual blog features, etc, one at a time until all is running smoothly again, which I hope won’t be too much longer.

And now we’ve come full circle: Happy Freya’s Day, Everyone! 😀 ❤

Enough, Already! Or, What Do Fire Ants, Cellulitis, and Ascending Lymphangitis Have In Common?


Fire Ant
(There are several varieties, but all look similar.)

I’ll tell you what they have in common: a second trip to the ER in eight days and  a ninety-minute IV hookup! Yep. I’m not sure I’ve ever been treated in an ER before, and now I’ve had to visit one twice in just over a week! Saw the same doctor, too. We’re on a first-name basis, now.  And what caused this week’s drama? A stinkin’, vicious little  invasive critter known as a fire ant!


Note the BIG Jaws on the head, and the
pointy STINGER on the other end!

Fire ants aren’t content with just biting you, like most ants, oh no. They bite in order to hang on to your skin while they STING the hell outta you with the HARPOON in their posterior region! Fire ant bites cause a red lump with a “blister” (a/k/a pustule, ick) on top. The sores  itch like fire–hence the name–and on many of us can last ten days or longer before finally shrinking to nothing and disappearing. You can end up in the hospital if you are allergic to them, or, like me, accidentally scratch them open and they become infected. Often seriously so

Tuesday afternoon, I realized that the one on my arm was not looking good. I treated it with some  antibiotic ointment and crossed my fingers. Yesterday  morning, it was looking much worse, but I couldn’t get in to see my doctor. Within a couple more hours, it was a mess, and I had red streaks about 6 inches above the bite, running in several directions. This is what we used to call “blood poisoning” and it was NOT to be dismissed lightly. Today, it’s known as ascending lymphangitis, or an infection spreading upward through the lymph glands, toward the heart! (BTW, “cellulitis” just basically means “infection of the cells.”)

No way I could wait for my doctor to be available. 

Back to the ER I went, where they admitted me immediately and said they needed to get antibiotics in my system as fast as possible, thus the IV. On the happy side, the red lines started fading within a couple of hours, and the rest of my medication can be taken via the usual route, by mouth with a glass of water, over the next week. 


Typical Fire Ant Mound
(Though They CAN be Smaller, Too)

I’m reporting this in detail because I want those of you who live in areas where fire ants have taken over to be very aware that their bites can be more than just a painful annoyance. The current thinking is, do NOT puncture the blister on top of the bite, and if it accidentally gets broken open, clean immediately, and treat with antibiotic ointment. If it starts oozing and hurting, get medical treatment before you end up with streaks running up your arm. Lymph gland infections can lead to all sorts of problems, including organ failure, and they spread very quickly. 

Speaking of spreading, these nasty little ants have been doing so (especially in the southeast) for years, via the usual methods, plus the ability to make large, floating mounds of nothing but THEM, and drifting along on water to reach their next area to colonize. They move this way often after storms and flooding.


Nuthin’ Here But ANTS, Being Carried Along
on Top of the Water. Soooo . . .

Praemonitus, praemunitus!
or
Forewarned is forearmed. 

*NOTE: This has been a Public Service Announcement.*
😉

Happy News! #MondayBlogs #amwriting

Happy Monday, Everyone. That’s possibly contradiction in terms for some of you, but for me, this is a happy day, indeed.  I am finally feeling well enough to get back to my WIP, which I had hoped to send off to editing a week ago, but which is still (sadly) lacking a final chapter and epilogue. SO, feeling up to writing–looking forward to it, in fact–is a big step forward from where I’ve been for the last week.

When they tell you a blow to the head can scramble your brains, they aren’t kidding. While I didn’t have any memory lapses, I’ve had trouble concentrating and have done some really odd things over the last week. But finally, I seem to be able to organize my thoughts and think creatively. Maybe. 😀 

I do want to let you all know that I’m taking things one step at a time, with the first one being to finish this long-overdue book. I do have a guest scheduled tomorrow for #ShareAReviewDay, but I’m not ready to commit to any other specific blog features, like #FirstLineFriday. I might put that off another week. A tortoise once told me slow and steady wins the race. 🙂

As I return to my normal blogging routine, I’m planning to make a change or two. For some time, I’ve featured mostly writing-related memes on Mondays, but I’d like to expand that to include more than memes. Articles, tips, shared posts, etc, related to writing might become part of Mondays going forward. We’ll see how that goes. #ThorsDaySmiles will stay focused on anything I think might make you smile. Smiling is good. Laughing out loud is even better. And because I enjoy it so much,  #FirstLineFriday WILL resume, I’m just not sure when. 

So with those thoughts in mind, off I go to work on that last chapter of The Light, and to think about what I need to do to get this one “out there.” But I’ll be at least a bit more visible here from now on, I think. 

Thank you all for your support, healing thoughts, prayers, and encouraging words over the last week. I may or may not be able to respond to you individually, but please believe I read and appreciated every single comment! 

Hope you all have a great, productive week! Go get ’em, guys! ❤ ❤ ❤

(And btw, does anyone know why all our sweet little hearts turned black all of a sudden? I mean, it’s really pretty sinister looking now, isn’t it??? 😀 )

Central Florida’s Ordeal is OVER!

Though Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia are still in danger, Hurricane Dorian is officially crossing the state line and no longer menacing us here in central Florida! Hallelujah! I was beginning to think being stalked by a Deadly Turtle was the new normal. And I confess, I’m exhausted from all the preparations and the stress of not knowing for five long days whether we would take a hit or not. 

We did have some tropical storm force winds here during the night and throughout the morning, but let’s assess the damage, in comparison to what Irma did two years ago.

Here’s what Hurricane Irma left us on September 10, 2017:

Yes, our house is under there.

Another view, showing the size of the massive trunk of this tree.

The roof is lifted off the garage and the lintel is broken.

Top of the garage, with rafters poking up through the  roof. (The other ends of the rafters are poking into the seriously damaged Honda, which  was holding up the attic.

See? A good add for the Honda, which they were able to repair because, believe it or not, the frame didn’t buckle. (Even under the combined weight of our attic and contents, the garage roof itself, and the weight of a tree with a trunk 5 feet in diameter!

There are tons more pictures of the smashed gardens, the broken trellises and lamp posts, fence damage, and of course, the entire roof ruined. But enough about Irma.

Now let’s take a look at what Hurricane Dorian wrought:

Yep. That’s it. A dead moss monster next to the driveway. 

Seems like an unbelievable amount of labor and stress just to be ready for this, but the good news is, we can clean it up in about 30 seconds. (We’re still working on yard clean-up and replanting from Irma!) 

In all seriousness, it could just as easily have been as bad as or worse than Irma. Catastrophic, even. So it’s always better to over-prepare, and not need it, than to find yourself under-prepared and in danger. We’ll do it again the next time we’re menaced and we will pray all we end up with is a dead moss monster in the front yard.

Sadly, The Tale is Still Ongoing!

I swear, I’ve never been through a hurricane that moved this slowly before, and after 75 years of Florida living, I’ve been through quite a few. The Stalking Turtle reference becomes more obvious every day. The image above shows you very clearly that the danger of this storm is not in the eye, which is a quiet, calm area in the center of the storm. The danger is in the bands of powerful winds which circle the eye in a counterclockwise direction. Yellow, orange, and red are the DANGER colors.

I’ve used an image from last night because it gives you a good idea of just how far these bands can reach out to wreak havoc. The eye of the storm was approximately 100 miles off the coast of Florida when this image was taken. I’ve tweaked it a bit to show you roughly where it is now, in relation to Daytona Beach and us.

We got significant winds during the night and some downed branches here and there, but so far have been lucky. However, these bands will be arcing through Florida for hours before clearing the state line, so we certainly aren’t in the clear, yet. And then it’s the folks in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and even Virginia that have to be on the alert. (The Carolinas look to be in for some rough times ahead.)

If our house doesn’t take a hit today from one of these bands of wind, we’ll be okay. Just soggy and tired of it all. If we do, and another tree comes down, that changes everything. Mark had to go in to work, so I’m sitting here by myself, watching the heavier wind gusts and trying not to panic. 😯 It’s going to be a long day, but so far, no damage or power loss, so I’m very grateful for that.

I have discovered that one can only “hunker down” for so long before it gets really uncomfortable! 😀 

Here’s a photo I saw yesterday, long before the storm itself was even close to this particular location (St. Augustine, in north Florida). This is what even an outer, outer, outer band of the hurricane looked like yesterday morning. 😯

Please forgive me if it takes me some time to respond to all your lovely comments. I thank you so much for your support and well wishes and prayers. ALL are much appreciated and have helped me stomp down the incipient panic attacks. I’m taking deep breaths this morning and trying not to worry about what I’ll do if a limb smashes a window or damages the roof–other than running around in circles while shaking my fist at the sky, I mean. I’ve got that covered! 😀 

See you on the other side! ❤ ❤ ❤ 

Tonight Will (Probably) Tell the Tale

The new header image is what I’d love to think our coastline will be like by Thursday, instead of the hovering black clouds, bands of rain and wind, and possible massive storm surges that might be going on. For us in the Orlando area, it is currently dark, dismal, and raining like crazy–but the worst of what we are going to get will likely happen tonight, probably between 2:00am and 8:00am, so we’ll see how it plays out. There was a tiny shift eastward again overnight, but not very much, and it can swing back. However, it’s beyond our control, and we’ve done all we can do, except wait. 

I figured if I tried visualizing clear skies and beautiful, calm water along our beaches, maybe that’s what will soon be going on. I’m OVER this waiting and waiting, and after seeing what happened to the Bahamas, it has been a pretty scary wait, too. But one way or the other (preferably The Other), Dorian should be moving along into history. 

Meanwhile, please send your well wishes and prayers to everyone in the storm’s path, and especially to the poor folks in the Bahamas, which I think suffered the worst destruction I’ve ever seen from a hurricane. And thanks for all the love that you’ve sent our way! ❤  Will stay in touch as long as we have power. 🙂

It’s going to be a very long day around here. 

#Hurricane Dorian – Looking Grim Again!

I guess it was too much to hope this one would move far enough offshore to leave Florida alone. Saturday’s optimistic predictions have morphed into Monday’s abysmal ones. 

Yes, the eye of the storm is still over the water in the update above, but it is substantially closer to the shore than before. In fact, if it wobbles to the west even a tiny bit, it will make landfall on us. As it is, even if it follows the path currently predicted, the coast will take a major hammering. The worst winds of the storm are the bands on the west side as they whirl counter-clockwise around the eye. 

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the red zone areas along the coast, and I do hope people will leave! They are predicting an enormous storm surge all along that area, and that is one of the most dangerous things about the storm. (Notice that “the storm” and I are no longer on a first name basis!!) 

Here in Seminole County, we are already under a tropical storm watch, and will no doubt be getting at least that much wind and rain through the duration of “the storm.”  We are located just about 40 miles west of the 2AM Wed “M” in the graphic above. In a storm this huge and WIDE, that means we won’t know until it’s here just how bad things might get in Sanford/Orlando. 

This image shows the probability of wind speed, with the purple area being full-on hurricane wind. (You can see that a significant portion of the coastline is in the purple area.) We are in the narrow brown band of 50 to 60 mph winds, and close enough to the orange 60 to 70 mph range to be worrisome. And that’s if the storm does not move more inland.

This one is scary, folks.

We’ve done pretty much all we can do to be prepared, and now it’s just wait. And as they say:

WAITING FOR A HURRICANE
IS LIKE BEING STALKED
BY A TURTLE!

I will update again later today, if possible, but since we are already getting some rain and wind, power outage is very likely in the cards. Please continue to keep us and everyone in harm’s way in your thoughts and prayers.  And thank you so much for all the love and support you’ve sent our way!  ❤ ❤ ❤

Dorian Update & Rescheduling Next Week’s Regular Features

Hi, Folks!

Been checking the updates on Dorian all day long, and it hasn’t swerved a bit so far, darn it. It is now scheduled to hit us here in the Orlando/Sanford area at 8:00am Tuesday, and though that might change, for now, it’s the best information we have. After a good bit of deliberation, running around wondering what I should do, and fretting over all the prep work still ahead for Mark & I to get ready for impact, I decided I should reschedule any posts I had planned for next week. It will be one less thing I have to worry about right now, and that’s a good thing.

Accordingly , I’m bumping everything to the week of Sunday, September 8 through Saturday, the 14th, skipping any pre-planned posts for September 1 through September 7. Tomorrow’s #FirstLineFriday will be the last regular feature until after September 8. Next week, if I’m able to get online, I’ll touch base and let you guys know what’s going on. If we get lucky and the storm is here and gone in a hurry, I’ll fill in the gaps. But our regularly scheduled events, such as #MondayMemes,  #ShareAReviewDay, the new #WriteStuffWednesday, #ThorsDaySmiles, and the next #FirstLineFriday will all return during the week of 9/8-9/14.

Hope this makes sense, and you guys understand that sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to stay safe (and stay SANE.) I think this is my best option right now, so there won’t be any last minute panic if we lose power here and I can’t run the various series as I’d like. 

Again, if the storm passes us by with no real interruption, you’ll be the first to know, and I’m sure I’ll find a few things to share with you next week.

Thanks for your understanding, and I do sincerely hope this all turns out to be much ado about nothing. (Oooh. Cool name for a play. 😀 )

#HurricaneDorian Looking Worse for Florida by the Minute

Here’s the latest update on Dorian. Picture me standing right underneath that “H” in the center of the state, waving at you. (Actually, I’m jumping up and down and yelling “Somebody get me outta here!” 

The “H” means a significant storm with winds between 74 and 110mph, (with anything over 74 being a hurricane, as opposed to a bad tropical storm.) 

This is SO not good!

#WriteStuffWednesday – What’s Up?

I figured since it looks like we are in the dreaded “Cone of Error” for Hurricane Dorian, today might be a good day to introduce a new feature I’ll be sharing from time to time. Wednesday is not a day I have anything special scheduled for guests, nor for my own posts, so I think it will be perfect for me to use now and then to catch you guys up on what I’m up to, or to talk about all sorts of subjects. I’m thinking it might run the gamut from personal observations, to funny events, to writing-related to subjects I just want to talk about. Whatever is on my mind. We’ll see how it goes.

Today, I want to talk about living in the path of danger. Many of us do end up in hurricane, tornado, flood, or earthquake-prone areas. Me, I’ll take hurricane-prone any day over earthquakes. Unlike with quakes, we get quite a lot of notice when a storm is approaching and can take steps to batten down the hatches, stock up on supplies, or even get the heck outta  Dodge–whichever seems more prudent at the time. What we can’t afford to do here in Florida is ignore the warnings until we no longer have any good options.

Having had Hurricane Irma drop a preposterously big tree on our house, flattening the garage and our new Honda, and tearing up our roof, we are NOT of a mind to take these warnings lightly. We are now stocked up with food for us and the pets, and Mark will be getting gas for our generator. The path of the storm looks like it won’t go directly over us, though again, we are in the an area where we could get clobbered. Either way, the sensible thing to do as of today’s warnings is to at least prepare for loss of power and tons of rain. So that’s our current plan.

IF the situation changes and we are told to evacuate, we will. No hesitation, even though it will mean packing up six cats and an elderly dachshund. We won’t leave them behind, but we won’t stay here and risk our own lives, either.

I had a talk scheduled Saturday at Enterprise Museum, but after conferring with the good folks there, the decision has been made to close the museum Saturday.  My apologies to those who were planning to attend. Stay home and stay safe, instead. Already, several of the museum volunteers have called to say they will be doing storm prep for the next few days, and I wish them well. 

With any luck, Dorian will take a sharp turn to the north east, wander out into the Atlantic and die a quick and lonely death. Please say a prayer for all in its “predicted” path. There is no way to tell what will happen, and I worry greatly for those in the islands off our coast, particularly Puerto Rico, where things are still not back to normal from Hurricane Maria. 

Thanks for any well wishes, and rest assured, I will be here daily, until I’m forced to shut down. Our generator will run the range, the fridge, the little window unit a/c in the bedroom, and a couple of lamps at maximum. But the computer will be unplugged, and the cell phone service might be iffy, too. 

Here’s to Dorian being all bark and no bite, and leaving us ALL alone! And I hope my next #WriteStuffWednesday will be about something a lot less threatening!

UPDATE:

Latest Update from NOAA has this storm aimed smack at us. And they are saying it could be a Category 3 now. 😦 I live between the gray “FL” on the map and the black circle with M in it. So, Monday at 8AM might be a bit grim for us. 😯 Will keep you updated as I learn more.