This Weekend…

Siesta Key Sand Classic

A few years ago, we were gone the second weekend in November.  I imagine we were probably in Massachusetts or Texas.  That’s where we go most of the time.

The problem was this is my favorite weekend in Florida.  And so I told Jerry that we could go away any time at all EXCEPT the second weekend in November.

It’s always busy in Florida once the snowbirds start coming but this weekend it’s just crazy. You can’t do it all but we sure try.  We miss things but we hit our favorites each year.

There’s the chalk festival.  It’s held in Venice now, every year.  My good friend, Pam, is team captain for the merchandise booth and Jerry and I volunteered for a few hours in the booth.  We could spend time with Pam and another friend, Paula, and meet lots of nice people from all over the country who are in Venice at the moment.  And, best of all, volunteers have their own morning at the festival after the final day…breakfast and time to take a good look at the creations without the crowds.  We were there this morning.  Nice.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out how they do these 3D pictures.  Here are a few.  Some look 3D even when you look at them with just your eyes but when you look through the lens of your camera, you can’t imagine how everything changes.  How do they do it?

3-D chalk drawing

Anther 3D

And this one








And this one








And there’s Bowls of Hope, a fundraiser for All Faiths Food Bank.  We went with good friends and picked up two new bowls made by local potters and had soup and bread and salad and desserts donated by local restaurants.  We’ve got quite a collection (maybe twelve bowls)  We’ve been going for years and just love it.

Bowls of Hope

And finally there’s the Siesta Key Sand Classic.  We went there on Monday.  It’s pretty impressive. I will never figure out how they do it.  Such magnificent sculptures made purely with sand and water.  This year’s offerings were as magnificent as ever but not as wonderful as ever.  I wondered if I was just used to it…that they didn’t make me gasp the way they used to do.  But I think the “gasp factor” was still there.  They just didn’t touch my heart the way they have some years.  Some years you’re just impressed. Some years you’re moved.  You know the difference?  Still it was a great afternoon capped off with a meal at Turtles on the south end of the island.  Love that place.

Hopefully I can  catch my breath before we fly out to spend Thanksgiving with Sean and Carly.  I do have things to do around here besides play, you know!

One other thing.  I subscribe to the podcast Fresh Air on NPR.  It’s always good but this week there was an exceptional one.  Terry Gross interviewed a priest who is working gangs in East Los Angeles. He’s been there a long time….started as pastor of the parish right in the center of “gang country”.  I listened to the podcast twice and won’t delete it.  Too much wisdom, too many memorable quotes.  Here’s my favorite. He was asked about how he goes about turning kids’ lives around.  First, he says, we need to “hold them in a place where they feel cherished.”  I can’t stop thinking about that.  And thinking we need to hold everyone in a place where they feel cherished.  What a different world this would be. The priest’s name is Greg Boyle.  And he’s written a couple books that (obviously) I put on reserve at the library.

And to all of you who are facing cold weather up north…think about visiting the second week of November next year.  It is a load of fun.



End of Daylight Savings

The Thoubborons…left to right.  Mary, Paula, Karen, John, Kim, Eileen, Anne.  What a great week we had.

I honestly don’t like to see Daylight Savings end.  I don’t mind the darkness in the morning.  It’s when it gets dark in the evening that I think I should go to bed or something.  And I absolutely love the way everyone looks when the light finally hits the beach during yoga.  People look positively gorgeous.  Still, I’ll like the extra hour tonight and I (unlike people with kids or dogs) can actually enjoy and sleep later.  And I’ve wanted to go to full moon yoga for awhile but it’s so late in the summer (like 8:30 last month!) and now that it’s going to be at a reaasonable 7:30 even this “early to bedder” can make it.

All’s well here.  I had a great time with my sibs and Jerry and I had a wonderful week with the kids in Flower Mound.  We saw swim meets, helped with Halloween costumes, and, in general, tried to be useful.  Declan has turned into a passionate little baseball player and Erin saw an ad for private coaching …a young Flower Mound resident who plays for the minors who was home for awhile.  Declan loved his lesson and can’t wait to go back.  But the funny part came when we were talking about it at the dinner table, about how smart this guy was to offer private coaching to make some money in the off season since he didn’t get a paycheck until the games started again.

He gets PAID for playing ball? Declan asked, astounded.

Well, yeah, Declan, that’s his job.

It’s not a job.  It’s a sport. You don’t get paid for playing a sport.

Oh yes, you do.  Tom Brady probably gets more than a million a game with the Patriots.

No way.

Yes, way.

But it’s a sport.

Well they don’t play for free, Declan.

Well, I’d play for free.

I know, but they don’t.

You mean I could make MONEY playing baseball.



He was dazzled.  What a totally new thought…athletes get paid to play ball.

The weather here is spectacular.  And the snowbirds are arriving every day.  It’s like old home week at yoga almost every morning.  I just love it.  We just pick up where we left off last spring and go on.  And life falls into it’s winter rhythm.

What have I been reading?

Hmmm…well I read Wish You Were Here by Stewart O’Nan and promptly wrote to my friend, Debbie, who has a lake house in upstate New York. The story is about a family at their lake house for a week in August for the last time.  The mom is selling the house..too expensive to maintain, too much work to keep it in shape…It’s a bittersweet time…People don’t want her to sell but no one is in a position to take care of it.  I liked the book a lot but didn’t love it.  It was just too long…more than 500 pages…and even though it was beautifully written I wanted it to be over so I could read something new.  I had no idea it was so long.  That’s the trouble with reading books on my Kindle.  I have no clue how many pages they are when I start. But I do think Stewart O’Nan is a marvelous writer.  I guess I’d recommend Emily Alone or Last Night at the Lobster if you want to try him out.

I liked Celeste Ng’s new one, Little Fires Everywhere, which Sean and Carly still can’t believe. They really hated the ending. I couldn’t see any other way to end it.  I think she’s a marvelous writer and this was a good one.

Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network was good, not great. Loved the idea of it…two stories about two women, one who was a spy for the British in World War I and one a young girl looking for her cousin after World War II…nothing profound but a good read.

John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down didn’t blow me away the way The Fault in Our Stars did but it was good.  And he did a fabulous job shining a light on what it must be like to struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Rachel Cusk’s Transit was beautifully written but I just didn’t love it. I just couldn’t appreciate her brilliance, I guess.  It gets rave reviews and I enjoyed reading it but it was “easy to put down.”

I loved Louise Penny’s latest, Glass Houses, but I’d probably love anything she wrote because I just love Louise Penny.  The plot doesn’t matter, though it’s a good one. It’s just checking in with the villagers in Three Pines that works for me.  I think I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. If you haven’t read any of Louise’s books, start at the beginning with Still Life.  They certainly can stand alone but are so much richer if you get to know the characters as you move along.

Oh and if you have any elementary kids in your life, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, is great. Calli and Lana had it and I read it while I was in Texas.  Wonderful book.

So I haven’t been exactly dazzled by the books I’ve been reading in the past few months…liked them okay but nothing has me saying ” Don’t miss this one..” except the one I’m reading right now…Alice McDermott’s new one, The Ninth Hour. No wonder…one of the few books in which the nuns aren’t dumb or mean and spiteful.  I am loving this book.  Beautifully written with characters I care about…what more could a woman want?

Time to quit.  I need to see if I have any pictures to go with this post.  As I said, the weather has been heavenly…a bit chilly in the morning but gorgeous by early afternoon…warm sun, cool breezes…My very favorite Florida weather.  And we usually get lots of it from now until April!

Love to all

On the porch on Mustang Island

This is so us!

Seven Sibs in Texas

Three sisters walking the beach

So my sweet daughter-in-law wondered if there was something the matter with me because I hadn’t posted in so long.  No, actually it is just because I’m lazy, have been reading some good books and hate typing on my iPad (didn’t bring my computer to Texas) No, life is good.  But we were busy cleaning up after Irma and getting into the swing of fall activities. And, of course, packing for Texas.

My 70th birthday was back in April. My sister, Anne, planned an incredible present…a week on the beach on Padre Island for me with my brother and five sisters. And we all cleared our calendars, booked our flights and everyone but me started planning meals. (They said I didn’t have to cook because it was my party but honestly i think it was because they are all far better cooks than I could ever hope to be)

And then Mom died. And then we lost Dad.  And then we postponed the trip until October.  Then Harvey slammed into Padre Island and ripped off the roof of Anne’s condo. Then Anne got sick.

We figured maybe we should postpone the party until Eileen turned 70 in November of 2018.  But Anne got better, found us a beach house, bought a ton of food and lots to drink and we all flew into Corpus Christi for almost a week of time altogether on Mustang Island.

We are so different in so many ways.  The oldest was born in 1947 (me) and the youngest in 1964 (Karen). But we are also so amazingly alike. We like to read. We’re all readers.  Raised kids who are readers who are raising kids who are readers.

We like to walk the beach. We like to sit and stare at the waves for hours.  We like to cook and some of us ( not  me) are fabulous cooks.  We like to eat. We like to drink. (Some are big on craft  beer,  some love wine, some are gin and tonic fans—me, I drink anything anyone offers me.

We like to talk (some, like me, more than others)  We’re all on the same page politically.  That was nice.  We don’t like having our picture taken(we booked a photographer and considered it something to be endured)  I’ll post the picture of all of us jumping on the beach when I get the digital downloads.  It’s hilarious.  We like games…played several games of Oh Hell (I came in last both times but at least I wasn’t way behind the one who came on second to last.)  I played Gin Rummy with Kim who killed me even though  play every day with Jerry and she hasn’t played in ages.  We did several thousand piece puzzles …well, some people did three puzzles.  I put in a few pieces for each one.  And Paula had a trivia game for us.

We said grace at dinner in honor of Mom and Dad.  We always said grace when we were growing up.  And we spent a lot of time on “Remember when…” and found out we all remembered very different things.

We didn’t go anywhere except to church (we’ll, some of us went to Mass) and John and Karen found a bar to watch the Patriots on Sunday.  We didn’t need to go anywhere.  We were content to just sit and relax and read and talk and nap and cook and eat and drink.  It was a good week and everything was almost perfect except the mosquitoes and flies that attacked you on the way to and from the beach.

I don’t know when’s all seven of us will be back together again…hopefully at a wedding in the next few years.  I do know it was just marvelous to be together and live together as a family again.  We’re lucky we still have all of us.  And we’re lucky Anne made this happen.

Still in Texas…in Flower Mound with the Littles….playing more cards, reading more books (Declan is reading a kids’ bio of Alexander Hamilton.). They have swim meets this weekend. Got up at 5 this morning and will do it again tomorrow.  Can you imagine? And worked on Lana’s Halloween costume with her.  If you need to know how to make tulle skirts, call me.  I know how to do it.

We’re heading home on Thursday and won’t take off again until we meet up with Sean and Carly in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving.  Can’t  wait to see them…haven’t seen them since June.

I’ll post again soon  I’ve read some good books lately and seen some good movies…

Happy Halloween, my friends.  Love to all

Beach house on Mustang Island

View from the house

Working on the puzzle

Kitchen at the beach house

Beach walk at dawn




Home Again and So Thankful

Back to Normal…Sunday Breakfast at Croissant and Company

We drove into Venice about 5:00 yesterday evening and stopped at one of our favorite local restaurants for dinner before we went home.  It was an easy ride home (minimal traffic and plenty of gas) and we were thrilled to come into Venice, to see working stoplights and trees still standing and then to drive into our driveway and see a house still standing, oh my.  We walked in to air conditioning, lights, Internet, Cable…could anything be more wonderful?  Trust me, I take nothing for granted!

We were bone tired last night but needed to at least begin to put things back in order.  Jerry took down hurricane shutters while I dealt with unpacking and getting the house back to normal.

This morning we were really back to normal…to yoga, to breakfast with friends, to the car wash (those love bugs in Alabama and Mississippi were disgusting) and to the grocery store for enough food to carry us through till tomorrow.  Everything in the fridge and freezer is heading for the trash.  We have no idea how long we were out of power and we don’t want to take any chances.  So sad…Ditwilers had a sale on New York strip and shrimp a week before we left and we loaded up! And when I make spaghetti sauce, I make a huge pot and freeze it in zip lock bags and it lasts us forever.  Just did that about a week before Irma.  Sigh.  But when I think of how bad it could have been, I know we got off easy.

Breakfast today was fun.  Everyone at the table had stayed except us and we shared Irma stories…theirs of riding it out, ours of traveling north praying we’d find gas.  And if we had it to do over again, we’d do the same.  And if they had it to do over again, they’d do the same.  The hardest part was making the decision.  After that, you just put one foot in front of the other and tried not to do anything too stupid.

I know a couple in their 80s who ended up sleeping on the floor at a shelter in North Port (Heron Creek Middle School) and said the experience was lovely.  And people in Englewood who put on a huge dinner for first responders and those who were restoring power to the town.  And local restaurants and grocery stores that were grilling burgers and passing out food to workers and anyone who had lost power.  People slept on neighbors’ couches and in their extra bedrooms.  Neighbors with power offered freezer space to those without.  A friend evacuated, came home and then turned around with her husband and four kids to go to Georgia to help her grandmother who property was filled with debris and downed trees. People took care of snowbirds’ houses.  Friends of ours came over after the storm to get a package that was delivered just before the hurricane.  It had survived the storm on our front porch.

There are still people without power.  One friend in Naples has a generator running her refrigerator and bought a window air conditioner for the master bedroom.   Schools in Naples won’t open for another week.  Too many of them still don’t have power.  Schools in our county open tomorrow and believe me, kids and parents are cheering!

I saw a friend at yoga today who still doesn’t have power.

I’m fine, she said. I have a great flashlight and a good book.  And I bought a deck of cards so I could play solitaire.  Sometimes it gets hot but it’s not THAT bad.  (That girl is tough!)

We worked in the yard today but we’re pretty sure our neighbors (the same ones who boarded me up in 2005 when Wilma was coming and I was alone) did some major cleaning in our yard when they did their own, including trimming some trees with their chain saw.  We haven’t seen them around today to talk with them.  They usually spend Sunday in church.  But we know we owe them “bigly”.   Hopefully we’ll see them tomorrow to thank them.  Still trying to figure out HOW to thank them.

We were lucky in so many ways.  Our house is fine.  And we had a wonderful visit with Erin and Brent and the kids…nice bonus visit that we loved.  We are well aware that many were not so lucky.  I see the pictures of the islands in the Caribbean and Key West and know we dodged a major bullet.  And I know how Houston has been since Harvey hit.  As I said, we were lucky.

Below is a picture of our neighborhood.  Everyone has been busy clearing out debris and putting it near the street.  Waste Management has been doing an incredible job of picking things up as fast as they can.  The number of people who’ve been working and are still working round the clock to get everyone back to normal boggles my mind.  Never doubt how many good people there are everywhere.

Looking down the street.

So Very Grateful

So lucky, so very lucky.  And so thankful for what didn’t happen.  We DIDN’T run out of gas on the way to Texas.  We DIDN’T have any car trouble (better not…we have a brand new car)  We DIDN’T sleep in a rest area on the way (Erin found us one of the last rooms available on the Panhandle) And we DIDN’T lose our house.  We DIDN’T lose our roof.  We DIDN’T have a flood.  And we have power.  (don’t know about cable and internet)

So it’s time to head home.  We’re watching the traffic and gas situation carefully.  We know that those who headed home yesterday crawled along and had terrible trouble finding gas.  We aren’t in that big a rush but we are anxious to get back.  If everything on the road looks good, we’ll leave tomorrow and be home Friday night.  Personally I’d like to wait till Saturday.  We’d get to go to another baseball game (Declan isn’t much of a fielder but that boy can hit!) and play a big family game of Oh Hell on Friday night and just be with these cute kids for a few more days.

But all good things must come to an end and I’m sure Erin and Brent will be glad to be back to normal.  Weren’t we lucky to have a place to go filled with so much love.

Be well, my friends.  Sending much love…


If you use Facebook, you’re pretty much up to date on what Jerry and I have been doing this past week.  I’m writing this for those of you who don’t have Facebook and are wondering what’s going on in sunny (???) Florida.

When Erin first texted me a little over a week ago asking “You keeping an eye on Irma?  I hear she’s going to be a monster”, I thought, “Who’s Irma?”  I found out fast who Irma was and Jerry and I started paying attention.  And I started saying to everyone, “I think people like us (older, retired, no reason not to) should evacuate as soon as they hear there’s a hurricane coming and leave the roads open for the poor working people who can’t leave until schools close, until stores and restaurants close, etc.”

So, we started trying to decide when we should leave, not if. This was Monday.  And Erin said, “Hotels will sell out fast.  You need to make a reservation.”

So we did.  We decided we’d leave on Thursday. Not Tuesday.  I had turtle patrol. Not Wednesday.  Jerry had golf.  And I had an appointment for a haircut.  Thursday.  Me, I wanted to leave Friday but okay, I’d go Thursday.

So on Tuesday we started saying goodbye to friends and I cancelled a bunch of things like lunch with Mary Anne, breakfast with other friends, and a breakfast I was hosting Saturday morning at my house.  We started putting up shutters and getting things out to pack.

Then on Wednesday I couldn’t find gas on the way home from yoga.  I heard the roads were filled with traffic and no one was moving.

Jerry came home from golf and I told him I didn’t want to leave. It was far more dangerous to run out of gas on the highway than it was to sit in a shuttered house.  People died on the highway in Texas trying to escape Rita a few years ago.

Okay, says Jerry.  And for the rest of the day we laid low.  I went to volunteer at the library that night and told everyone we were staying.

Then on Thursday morning, I filled the car with gas on the way to yoga with no problem. I heard from some people who had left that it was slow going but not impossible.  I heard it could get VERY nasty on the west coast.  Erin’s storm chaser friends who originally had said, yes, better to stay, it’s scary on the road with no gas, were suddenly saying, “Tell your mom and dad if they have a full tank of gas, they should get in the car and go.”

Okay, says Jerry and we move as fast as we can.  We shutter the rest of the house, We pack the car.  We take showers.  We fill coolers and we are heading out of town shortly after noon.

I think until you’ve gone through it, it looks simple.  If it appears dangerous to stay, you leave. If it appears dangerous to leave, you stay.  What’s the big problem?  Why do people wait till the last minute to go ( I honestly thought, originally, that Thursday was EARLY!) Why do people gett on the highway when they know there’s no gas? Why do people stay when the hurricane is coming?

And then it’s you trying to decide which is safer, to stay or go.   And it’s you trying to decide if you are going, when will you go, what to bring (I threw shorts and teeshirts and a sundress in case we go out to dinner in a suitcase and woke up this morning and it was in the 60s…good thing I can fit into Erin’s jeans) and what to leave at home.  (almost everything) And you’re almost frozen in space.  And you can’t sleep.  And you search the Internet for information on Irma, on gas, on traffic.

And Jerry and I are two adults with no one else to take care of …no kids, no elderly parents, no pets.  We have a reliable car (brand new CRV with lots of bells and whistles we got to try out) We have money.  We have a daughter who found us a motel room when we could finally figure out how far we might be able to get our first day.  We have a place to go to where we have family. We even have a great book downloaded to the iPod (Louise Penny’s newest).  And think of how hard it was for us to decide.  Now think of all the people in Florida who don’t have things as easy as we do.  I can only imagine how hard it was for them to decide what to do, especially with the very real fear of running out of gas.

So we’re safe in Flower Mound, going to Declan’s baseball game, running errands, drinking wine and grilling steaks.  Originally we thought we’d be heading home on Tuesday, get home Wednesday.  Now we aren’t so sure.  First, Irma appears to be aiming directly for our house. We may not have a home to go to.  Or we may have a home but no power. Or everything may be fine.  Even then, if thousands of people have left Florida, thousands will be coming home.  And the kids don’t want us to leave that fast.  (They want me to go to school and do sea turtle workshops in every class…I keep saying, Not now. Later in the year. I don’t have the materials but they won’t listen) So we may stay longer than we planned (as I said, good thing I fit into Erin’s clothes)

I know many who decided to stay.  And many who left, even as late as today.  I do know that, for us, leaving was the right thing to do.  I can’t remember when I’ve been so anxious trying to make a decision.  Just deciding was a relief.  I was so sad leaving the house, though.  I told Jerry that it reminded me of the day we left for MD Anderson.  I didn’t cry much when I was diagnosed with cancer or during treatment but I did cry when we left the house.  I was afraid I might not ever see it again.  I felt the same way on Thursday…that I might never see the house again.

I did a lot of praying…God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.  I’m  still praying…for all the people who are still in Florida, sheltering in place.  And we’ll see what the next few days will bring…Whatever it is, even if we don’t have a house to go home to, we are very, very lucky and we know it.



After Harvey

Beck Junior High Katy, TX

It’s been overwhelming, hasn’t it?  My family has been fine…still have their houses, their cars, their things, and most importantly their lives.  They’ve started to venture out of their houses to help where they can.

My nephew, Chris, and his wife, Jackie live in Katy, just west of Houston.  It was hit hard.  Their youngest, Emma, is in eighth grade and her school is completely flooded.  No idea where or when she’ll be back in school.  Jackie wrote an email to the family this morning.  I’m sharing it with her permission.


Hi Everyone

I’m finally sitting down to process this past week and update you all. I can’t believe it’s been a week since the storm started. The kids have been out of school for a week now and won’t be back until sept 11. We have a few schools damaged (Emma’s Jr High) and a few schools have been used as shelters (Grace’s high school). I can’t even explain the flooding. We have friends who lost everything, their house, cars. Most of the flooded around here won’t even recede for three weeks to three months. Whole neighborhoods have been wiped out with the flooding. Right now we have Emma’s friend and her sister (Gabby, 8th and Camila, 9th) living with us. They have lost everything but what’s in their backpacks. They were rescued by boat. Their neighborhood probably will be flooded for months. Their mom is a single mom who doesn’t speak English well and doesn’t understand the FEMA process.

I can’t begin to explain how wonderful our community is. They actually have been turning away volunteers at a lot of places bc they are overwhelmed with donations and man power. Once the water recedes, then the real work will begin. We’ve been keeping the kids busy volunteering everyday. Chris and Taylor have been able to help rip up flooring for those who have had their water recede. We’ve worked at the shelters, the high school and last night Chris took the kids to the shelter in the church right outside our neighborhood. Grace has helped serve first responders with some friends. I’ve taken Emma and her friends to the animal shelter and we’ve gotten the outside kennels ready for the incoming displaced animals by hauling bales of hay into the kennels to absorb the mud so the dogs have a dry place to sleep. And we’ve petted kittens–that’s a real stress reliever. I’m trying to keep it low key for the girls staying with us. Yesterday they realized they won’t get into their house for at least three weeks (they’re one of the harder hit areas and I think it’s closer to three months, but don’t have the heart to tell them that) so petting kittens is perfect for them.

Yesterday was the first day the grocery stores are back to normal, fresh fruit, milk and eggs. No bread yet, but I won’t complain. I almost burst into tears walking into a full stocked fruit and vegetables section. I know, it’s weird, but when you’ve seen completely empty grocery stores for over a week, it’s very ‘apocalyptic’.  Gas isn’t a problem, since a lot of cars are under water there isn’t much of a wait for those of us still blessed with our vehicles.

Last night was the first night we were able to sleep. Each night the past week have been filled with tornado warnings ( after about 10 a night, we were ignoring them and listening for a freight train). We were lucky to have Chris’ meteorologist from work live close by, so he would text Chris when a cell was by us. Thankfully, only once, we felt the need to tell the girls to gather their cats and get ready. I love our animals, but I wasn’t waiting for the girls to coax their ‘cagey’ cats out from under the bed for a tornado. Our dogs are scaredy cats and followed me around through the storm, so they weren’t a problem. They had to be ready to run into the closet under the stairs.

Wednesday night, when we thought it was over for us and we could finally get a good nights sleep, we got a call at 2:30am from my friend telling us we were under mandatory evacuation and have to leave by 5:30. Chris got the auto text telling him the same thing. We didn’t know why our neighborhood would be evacuated since we didn’t have flooding, just the surrounding neighborhoods. Needless to say we didn’t sleep and we waited for the press conference at 8am. We’re still not sure why that went out. If it was for a possible breach in the levee or they wanted tighter control on who was coming in and out of flooded areas. The national guard is now watching over a lot of the flooded areas and you can not get into them. But thankfully we didn’t need to leave.

So right now, the Shugarts are safe. And trying to keep the kids busy outside the house. Not sure when our area will begin to feel normal again, but working on getting back into our routine soon with the start of school in a few weeks will help.

Thanks for all the emails and texts, we really are very lucky we came out of this without any damage.