Tampa One Day, Nashville Evacuation the Next

Labor Day weekend we drove over to the Port of Tampa and caught up with a bit of Channelside, which had fallen on hard times since we lived there.

With Irma upon us and unsure about a new rental apartment in a new town, we chose to evacuate to Nashville. Other than the Jeep problems, we enjoyed catching up with Nashville, including Broadway honky Toni’s and our favorite resort from previous visits, The Opryland Hotel.

Tampa Bay on Memorial Day

After our taste of the crowds at Disney Springs on Saturday and wait time to just get our AP,s and hearing insane reports of wait times and staggered park entrances, we decided not to venture back to Disney on Monday to catch the last day of the Flower and Garden Festival.

So we headed back to our beloved Tampa Bay to catch up, have lunch at Frenchys Outpost and spend some time on Dunedin Causeway and/or Honeymoon Island. Frenchys wasn’t too crowded but we couldn’t get on Dunedin. So we squeezed onto a small stretch of the Courtney Campbell Causeway on our way back to Orlando.

It was such a blast being back at Frenchys – we were last there on our Thanksgiving trip from Las Vegas and now six months later we’re living in Florida again. We’d hoped we’d be living in Tampa Bay – Orlando is crazier than over – so much traffic and beat up roads making getting around quite a challenge. And, of course, housing prices are higher in Orlando.

We’ve been househunting like crazy and are absolutely exhausted mixing that with so much fun – lol! Hard to believe we’ve only been here two weeks.

Above: Blackenef Mahi Mahi Sandwich, Fiery Shrimp Tacos, Blue Paradise, and the “Perfect Margarita”

On the Cusp of Change

There’s something in the air that tells me we’re on the cusp of change. We hear the train coming for us. The thinking, the analysis, the paralysis is over. It’s time to grab hold and jump on when we see the train arriving in the station. “Don’t miss this one,” we hear. It could be the last one.

It’s like there are two roads ahead – one is a straight, two-lane road in the wide open desert. There’s a car sitting there waiting. It has two sets of brakes. It looks predictable and safe. On the other road sits a free-flowing, gravity pulling roller coaster. There are no brakes, allowing life to take you where it wants to. There is no set course that you can see, just up, down, and around in circles. But there’s a sign overhead that says, “This is where your dreams come true.” You know this is the road you should take, but it’s absolutely terrifying.

“Don’t think. Just surrender.” I wrote these words on my blackboard over my music keyboard in my studio. The thinking has been done. This is the time of surrender.

When I wrote about our Florida Thanksgiving trip when we were staying on Clearwater Beach, I told you about the encounter we had with a musician singing his heart out, strumming his guitar on a cold, lonely night on an empty street one block from the beach. And when we contributed to his tip jar, he stopped playing and singing, flashed me the biggest smile I’ve ever seen and started talking to us. I urged him to “Keep warm,” and he gave me a scientific explanation of the weather. And when we left, he said, “Thank you for reminding me to keep warm.”

In that moment I was convinced that Father Philip was right that “You see Jesus in the poor.” Now I don’t really know how poor he is, but I get the point. Nobody has ever smiled at me like that. And when I pondered that experience over the next few days, especially when I was feeling terrified of the idea of moving back to Florida for the third time, I realized, “I’d rather step out of my comfort zone and have an experience like that than safely tuck myself away in the familiarity of our house in the desert.”

I’ve committed to releasing an entire album, and I’m terrified of that, too. But I’m no longer overthinking. I’m surrendering. I’m jumping on the roller coaster and letting life take me where it wants to.

Waiting for Rope Drop

The main difference between our situation and the “Arizona” guy mentioned in the previous post, Leaving Las Vegas – Did We Miss Our Opportunity?, is that I’m assuming he moved back to where he was from. The hardest part about leaving Las Vegas (30 miles from the California border) is that it usually means a move to Florida, moving me 2500 miles from my home state of California. And I always get homesick.

Watching Fresh Baked “Disney” videos reminds me of who I am and who my people are, and I start to get homesick before we even leave. It would help if I could find more Californians in Florida because as soon as somebody finds out I’m from California, they shut down. And then I shut down. It’s hard for me to make new friends in Florida. In California, I feel surrounded by friends and family just because that’s who they are to me – I grew up there.

Plan B is to ask for a transfer to the Florida office, but we’re just not sure we want it or if they would grant it. We’ve done that a couple of times in the past and it worked out temporarily. Maybe if we were more sure of what we really wanted, we’d go for it. We’d prefer the perfect opportunity to tap us on the shoulder.

In the meantime, our Disneyland Food & Wine trip is coming up and we’re still discussing whether we invest in an AP or take it one trip at a time, taking a wait and see attitude about our future. Rich called it this morning when he said, “We’re waiting for rope drop.”



Last night was Margaritaville at our house. Thursday starts the weekend, right? πŸ™‚

We discovered this delicious Pineapple Serrano Margarita at SOL in Newport Beach, and Rich found something similar to that in the liquor store that replaced Fresh and Easy. We tuned into Jimmy Buffett on the Margaritaville station on SiriusXM. And when I’m listening to Jimmy Buffett, going all Parrothead, I’m ready to move to Florida no matter what.

The night before last was the first time we felt positive about it all in the evening. In the morning, we’re fresh and ready to do what it takes. By the end of the day, we’re tired and fearful and thinking we should call the whole thing off. But Wednesday night, we were feeling much more positive after work. Maybe because I’d found a rental in our old neighborhood that I loved so much. I’ve been watching and there’s been one available about once a month. Hopefully, if we were to go, there’d be one available for us. However, the main problem is location – it would be about a 40 minute commute. And its isolation got to us last time. But it is just about an hour to Disney, onramp to offramp.

The stress is really getting to us – the next event doesn’t happen until Thursday of next week. This was our choice to give us more time to give them our answer. In the meantime, we’ve made ressies at Disneyland for the Food & Wine Festival – just in case we say no.

T Minus 2: Part 2

Wishing I could skip the grieving process – don’t want to go through it again – but I can’t. What I can do is show gratitude for the extra 4 years we thought we wouldn’t have with Lovey. When she was struggling with diabetes and flea bites in Sunnyvale, she got really thin and bare. We thought for sure she’d never make it back to our house in Vegas. We thought we’d move back in with just Skipper. But she proved us wrong.

She got to finish the rest of her life in this house, which we think of as Lovey’s house, and what I’d hoped for her. She ruled the bed, and the boys honored her queendom. And she got to be mommy to Shadow, something she was born to do. At three years of age, he’s outgrown that need for a mommy cat, but he and Skipper have gone from a father/son relationship to pals. They wrestle and pal around with each other.

That leaves me without a girl. That’s the loss I felt after Ginger left us. I needed a girl. Now that Lovey’s gone, what strikes me the most is how much that relationship meant to me, and that with her, I aimed to please. And without a little girl to please, I feel a bit lost. I had no idea about that pleasing portion of our relationship until she was gone.

We don’t know what today will bring after this meeting, but in the midst of grief, we need to consider our options:

  1. Stay here and get another girl and a Disneyland AP
  2. Accept a potential opportunity and move on; holding off getting another girl until we can move into our next new house

The question we face is, is it better to remain in the house where Buddy and Lovey and Skipper and Shadow have all lived, providing us with a houseful of memories? Or move on, creating new memories not to be reminded of old memories around every corner?

Speaking of memories, one of the most dramatic moments occurred soon after we moved into this house. Right away I was concerned by the open wall from the loft to the downstairs entry. I was so afraid one of the cats would slip and fall and hurt themselves. Sure enough, as much as we tried to block that area off, Lovey jumped off, attempting to land in the high window but the ledge was too narrow so she readjusted herself and made a forced landing on top of the coat closet. Rich had to get the ladder to get her down. He remembers how hard her heart was pounding – she was so afraid. So we immediately hired somebody to build a wall upstairs so that this could never happen. We were locked into the master bedroom all weekend long while this work took place.


Las Vegas house where Lovey jetted off the loft wall on the left, headed toward the window and made an emergency landing on top of the coat closet.

The other Lovey memory here was soon after we moved on – she followed me out to the front porch, probably thinking it was just another room because she never went outside. I yelled, “Lovey,” and she ducked low and froze in place. I then picked her up and carried her inside. I was so afraid she’d run when I yelled her name – thankfully, she didn’t. I was always afraid the cats would get outside.

On a side note, when we were living in that Windermere townhouse just 2 miles from Cinderella Castle, I pulled up in the Mustang and parked out front. Rich stood there with the door open, and so Skipper just wandered out to greet me. He could have been eaten by a gator – we did have one show up on our sidewalk one day. Okay, so it was just a baby. Still, this is why mommies don’t like to leave the kids with daddies. πŸ™‚


Windermere, Florida townhome, 2 miles from Cinderella Castle


And when we were living in Oregon, I’d left the slider to the backyard open without realizing it and actually took a little nap on the living room couch. When I woke up and noticed it was open, I started looking for the cats. I told myself, “I don’t want to see one of the running up the stairs” knowing they’d been able to get outside but, sure enough, here came Buddy running up the stairs with a leaf in his mouth, presenting me with a gift.

And then back to the Lovey adventures, there was that time in our house in Tampa Bay. Rich and I had opened the slider to sit out on the screened-in Lanai, and closed the slider behind us. The next thing we knew, we heard a latch. Yep, Lovey had locked us out of the house. Rich had to go to the neighbors and asked to use their phone (he was wearing shorts and no shirt) to call the locksmith. After that, we learned to bring a set of keys and a cell phone whenever we go outside. πŸ™‚


Tampa Bay house

Oh the adventures we have had!

Pics of Lovey when she was a tiny kitten in our home in the Portland, Oregon area (where we got all 3 kitties while living there and later Shadow by plane).