Exploring Island Life

Ahhhh……

We are now on island time.

The destination is a familiar place. In fact, we fell in love with Hutchinson Island in the early nineties when our family spent time here during several consecutive summers. It was a great place to host ‘mommy camp’ as our daughter called it and we all have fond memories of enjoying family time and simple pleasures here.

Our positive memories of this place, all those summers ago, was one of the many reasons we moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Martin County prior to our early retirement in 2006. Our recently sold home (of twenty years) is a half hour from this island and Malcolm and I have come here often throughout the years.

My favorite beach, which is just behind the House of Refuge Museum is a bike ride away from our little bungalow and our favorite place to watch a sunset on the river is here too. People come here to relax and enjoy pleasant surroundings. We will be doing that too, but mostly we will be experimenting with change.

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Little Milestones – August Recap

We just passed the one month mark of our transition to being home free. The first three weeks were filled with ‘fix it’ projects and acclimating to our new living arrangement with my MIL. Both of us have had a moment of ‘I miss this or that’, about the old house, but mostly we are adjusting. This past week we began to restore balance to our lives and find our way back to a normal routine. It feels good.

Around the House

During the past three weeks, Malcolm has replaced the kitchen faucet, replaced both drains and a garbage disposal in the dual sinks, replaced the door handles on both the front and back doors, added a French drain to the downspout from the gutters, changed out the florescent lights in the garage to LED, and repaired two broken cabinet doors in the bathroom. The garage is an on-going project, but we almost have room for one car!

With the interior of the house now sorted, (thank goodness Malcolm is handy), we now get to do the things we want to do, like refreshing the overgrown or non-existent landscape materials in the front yard. We took a few bike rides around the neighborhood, snapping pictures of things we like, then set off to the local nursery. It will be at least one month before we can plant, (Board approval), but here are the South Florida hearty plants we have chosen for the front of the property.

We chose three varieties of crotons for their coverage and low maintenance. They will fill the space nicely and still leave room for a few blooming annuals to add color. The bird of paradise will go front and center and hopefully provide beautiful blooms all year long.

Entertaining

We had a couple of friends over for drinks last week, then the four of us went out to dinner. That went well. Keeping it simple was key. My MIL loved the attention from our friends and the beautiful flowers they brought her. It was very easy to include her for pre-dinner and then have separate time with our friends. We won’t entertain as we have in the past, since that would be unfair to impose, but this was a good compromise.

I made this easy Mango Shrimp Salad and served it in martini glasses as an appetizer to go with our drinks. Sorry, no photos of the presentation, but here is the recipe. This is my nod to Donna’s ‘What’s on Your Plate‘ post for September.

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked (boil with salt), peel and chop into small pieces
  • 1 medium/large ripe mango, diced
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 dozen grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño, (or to taste) finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (for riming the glasses)
  • 1 medium avocado, chop just minutes before serving to avoid brown, mushy bits

Mix the ingredients together except the avocado, season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least two hours prior to serving. Use a lime wedge to rim glasses lightly with the juice, then roll the rims of the glasses in salt. Dip the salad into the glasses just prior to serving and top with avocado as desired.

Family Time

Malcolm’s mom has always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles – the bigger the better. More often than not, there is one sitting on the kitchen table. She assembles them on top of a big sheet of poster board so that it can be easily removed and stored at mealtime. At various times of the day, she and Malcolm drop by the table, choose a few pieces and move the puzzle along. Their sorting system is a thing of beauty and intelligence. Sometimes they get stumped and swear that a piece is missing. But, miraculously it always appears. They just finished this 1000 piece puzzle and are already on the hunt for a new one.

With all the disruption to her home and lifestyle, it is nice to see her returning to herself as the dust settles around her.

White Mountain Puzzle Company – Scene from New Hampshire

In case you are wondering, she used to save the puzzles by applying Mod Podge to them and putting them in frames, but when the number topped a dozen, she started breaking them apart and donating them to local senior agencies. Seems like a good way to pay it forward to me.

Out and About

In addition to establishing a daily exercise routine at the community gym, Malcolm and I also managed one scenic bike ride together this week. We loaded the bikes onto the car and traveled to our favorite place to ride – Jupiter Island. We offloaded the bikes at the beach parking lot and road the island for about two hours. Truthfully, I spent much of that time hopping off the bike and taking photographs. It was good for the body and soul. We will do more of that as the days begins to cool and turn into fall.

Folks on Jupiter Island love to create grand entrances! These are just a few of the driveways we passed as we rode the main street down the center of the island.

Reading

I have recently read a couple of really good books. The first was ‘This Tender Land‘ by William Kent Kreuger. It is the story of a group of runaway orphans and the experiences they encounter as they set out to find a place to belong. Set in the 1930’s with the Great Depression as the backdrop of despair, it is a compelling and educational read.

The second book I chose to read is ‘The Midnight Library‘ by Matt Haig. It was recommended by Deb at Deb’s World as a part of What’s on Your Bookshelf. She and a few other bloggers have combined efforts to make this presentation monthly. If you like to read and share reviews, please check out her post and follow her links to the others.

This book is based on the fascinating premise of parallel lives. When Nora decides to end her life, she is transported to ‘the library’ and presented with a book of regrets, which is massive, but somewhat unfounded, along with infinite possibilities for alternate outcomes. If you have ever considered ‘what if’, you will love this one.

Binge Watching

This week we watched all of the currently available episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers, now airing on Hulu. The final two will be released shortly. The show has been getting a lot of buzz and being a fan of psychological thrillers, I wanted to see what it was all about. I didn’t read the book (written by Liane Moriarty) and based on most Goodread reviews, I won’t.

From all accounts, the mini-series is not following the book, and I imagine that might be a good thing. Nicole Kidman is perfectly diabolical as Masha, the director of a wellness retreat, and the remaining cast of characters are sufficiently messed up. Can’t wait to see where this one is headed.

We watched all eight episodes of Clickbait, with Adrian Grenier as Nick, a good looking guy with profiles on multiple dating websites. Problem is, he’s married and has two kids. Things get messy, Nick gets dead. With more twists than a Philadelphia pretzel, you will love this series!!

Travel

Malcolm and I will move to a townhouse at the beach for one month starting mid-September. This was part of the plan since the day we contracted to sell our home. The idea is to travel and enjoy different environments for both short and long periods of time, while maintaining a comfortable base to come home to.

Also on the list of possibilities is South Carolina, (booked) coastal Georgia, (booked) Nevada, Michigan, Nova Scotia and the Pacific Northwest.

We were optimistic one year ago, when we booked travel plans for our family to visit London and the Cotswolds in November. But, it now seems prudent (based on CDC guidance) to cancel and regroup, which is exactly what we did. We have replaced the UK trip with a week in Nantucket and although disappointed, it will still be the family Thanksgiving we had hoped for.

And there we have it. How was your August?

Sharing with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share

Boomerang Kids

It has been nearly three weeks since we moved into Malcolm’s mom’s home, and almost every waking hour of that time has been spent creating a new normal. We are making progress but adjustments, like the three of us are making, require compromise, patience and time.

When we considered a ‘shared residence’ with Malcolm’s mom we were prepared for the physical adjustment of living in a smaller space and the changes that would follow. We strongly considered the disruption to her life but felt that the eventual upside would make it worthwhile. What we underestimated was the level of anxiety that the initial upheaval would create.

At ninety-one, she is a highly functioning, mostly independent individual who has created a comfortable space for herself within very small boundaries. We have interacted frequently in the past and have noticed normal signs of aging , but nothing alarming. What has surprised us lately is how much of her confidence and sense of security is tied to her environment. Our challenge has been to mitigate her confusion and allay her fears by tuning in to her tolerance levels and communicating changes carefully.

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moving – not for the timid

Malcolm and I have always valued experiences over stuff, but lately we have been forced to face reality. We have a lot of stuff! While most of it enhances our lifestyle and is valued, a lot of it is simply excess.

We have always been diligent about ‘spring cleaning’ and managing our clutter; or so we thought. As it turns out, it was all an illusion and mostly we are just really good at hiding things. That is both the blessing and curse of living in a big house. There are lots and lots of hiding places.

During this past month we have unearthed hidden stashes of craft supplies, cooking gadgets, collections long forgotten (DVD’s, CD’s and children’s books) and hobby paraphernalia to ridiculous extremes. Did I really need 6 bottles of Elmer’s Glue and eight spools of floral tape? Did I need to save every scrap of fabric, extra ribbons, trims and buttons left over from sewing projects? Why do I have ten lids but no matching plastic containers? We have a pasta machine?? When did that happen?

It all happened during our thirty-three years of enjoying life together, with the past twenty of them in the home we are about to sell. To say we have lived abundantly would be an understatement. That word is not just a reference to our excessive compulsions, but is also a reflection of our lifestyle.

Making the decision to sell and downsize was not considered lightly, but at our age and stage of life, it feels right. We no longer want the responsibility of a big house and have come to view it as a burden rather than a blessing. We have things that serve no purpose in our lives and will never again be used. Those items were easy to donate or throw out, but there are many things that we are not quite ready to part with.

When we moved into this house, we didn’t do a fine sift and sort of our previous thirteen years together. We just packed boxes and moved. It wasn’t important then to decide if we would ever again need or want a thingamajig or doohickey. Now it is.

Sorting

I mentioned in the last post that our sorting process includes ‘pitch, donate, keep.’ We have had a few disagreements about what that means so we further defined the process. Basically it comes down to one question. Can I envision this item fitting into the next chapter? The sorting gets much easier after that. Just to be clear, we LOVE our stuff and are not those brave people who sell everything and start a new life. We are however, amiable to streamlining.

Moving Forward

As we near the end, sorting becomes less important and expediency has taken precedent. The three boxes on the right were packed a few years ago and stacked in a closet, presumably with things we weren’t ready to part with, but there is no label indicating contents. Not wanting to take the time to unpack and deal with it all, I am sending them to storage – as is. Yes, I know that is akin to ‘kicking the can down the road’, but it is the best I can do right now.

As stressful and physically demanding as this time has been, it has also been cathartic and extremely liberating. Whether you plan to move or not, I highly recommend taking stock of your situation. It was long overdue for us.

The plan going forward is to donate a few rooms of furniture from Malcolm’s Mom’s home and update/redecorate her home with some of our furniture. We will also send a few pieces to storage along with about 75 boxes that will be moved into an apartment or possibly our ‘forever home’ at some future date.

In the meanwhile, we will have a room at Malcolm’s mom’s house and will bounce around among short-term rentals, her place and travel.

First up is a one month stay in a Vrbo condo at our favorite local beach. That stay will begin mid-September. After that, we have plans to fly to the UK with the family in November to celebrate Thanksgiving and after that, who knows.

Taking a leap of faith is not uncommon to us and we are optimistic that the future will evolve as it should. This home has served its purpose well, but now it’s time to move on – with a lot less stuff!

Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.

Wayne Dyer

From Play Time to Reality

Even as the heat and humidity descended upon South Florida, June got off to an entertaining start. A belated Mother’s Day celebration in Palm Beach, followed by a weekend in Boca Grande quickly became our first and likely our last hurrah of the summer. Life happens.

In early June our daughter treated me to an overnight stay at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. Our weekend included dinner, shopping, cocktails by the pool and a fun bike ride around the island. It was the perfect girl trip.

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