Childhood Friendships

I was away from home for a long time. After growing up in a small town, I graduated from high school and college early and left before I was twenty-one years old. I left emotionally long before that, after a traumatic event in my life caused me to withdraw from my school and friends. At little more than seventeen, I was already gone from those childhood friends to whom I had been closest. Even though I finished school in my hometown, I had little or no contact with them. The physical and emotional trauma didn’t involve them, but due to embarrassment and shock, I cut them off.

As soon as possible, I left my hometown and never looked back for over ten years. I had little contact with my childhood friends. I had gone to a very small private school through twelve grades, a laboratory model school on the local university campus. Each class was only 30 students. We knew each other well and were much like siblings. We were all extraordinarily sheltered. In order to survive after I left, I put them out of my mind for longer than I’d like to remember.

I eventually settled in a nearby city and through my job, my husband, and my efforts to seek an advanced education, I developed new friends. Good friends. Many of whom I still call my friends. Some my best friends. Except for a few, my childhood friends were lost to me by choice. In my rear view mirror. When I saw them, I saw the trauma I’d experienced.

As it happened, my parents still lived in my hometown and after my father passed away, my mother and other relatives were there alone. I returned there to work, but I didn’t live there. I commuted from the city. I didn’t seek out any of my childhood friends. I didn’t attend class get-togethers such as reunions. I went to work, cared for my relatives, and commuted back to the city. My career blossomed at the university in my hometown. Off and on, I would run into a friend from my past, but I still didn’t seek them out.

Through some accidents of fate, I ended up having to move back to my hometown to finish up the last third of my career. I built a house a few miles out of town, went to work, and still had my social life in the city. I traveled widely and knew people all over the world. I still did not attend class reunions, talked only rarely to childhood friends, and continued my life without them, except one or two. The trauma I had experienced was so bad that, even after decades, I could not see my childhood friends without remembering it.

Then, two years ago, a childhood friend sought me out when there was a reunion that was supposed to happen. She convinced me to attend. The reunion didn’t happen, but we continued our renewed friendship and that put me in contact with other friends. I began talking a little more to these friends. I was still not really comfortable, but I was trying. Recently, one of my classmate’s mother passed away. She was one of the mothers who I particularly loved when I was growing up and I loved her daughter as well. I decided after much reflection, to attend her funeral, knowing I would see a number of my childhood friends. I very much wanted to be there for her daughter.

I finally put my embarrassment over the trauma I’d experienced aside and went to the funeral. Not only did I see a number of my childhood friends but the funeral was in my childhood church. I was very glad I attended for my classmate whose mother had died, but it was also wonderful to see my friends. They were sweet and accepting even though I had been gone so long. It was also nice to see some of the townspeople I had long avoided and to be in my hometown church.

I’m very sad for my friend, Carla, and will miss knowing that her mother is in this world. But, I’m glad that I went to say my goodbyes to her mother and pay my final respects. It was the vehicle I needed, something I couldn’t miss, to reconnect with those people who helped make me who I am today. I’ve missed them.

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A Christmas Story

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Roseanne didn’t like Christmas. Many years ago, her dad had died near Christmas and was buried on Christmas Eve. She had avoided celebrating Christmas ever since. This year, for the first time in a number of years, she would be spending Christmas alone. She was looking forward to it. She could celebrate in her own way instead of pretending as she had to do almost every Christmas.

Roseanne smiled as she thought back to Christmas in the past, when she was growing up. Her dad was the original Santa Claus, in her opinion. Not only that, but the religious meaning of Christmas was very special to him and he never let her forget that part of Christmas in her excitement over Santa. He had an operatic voice and would sing his favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night,” to her on Christmas Eve. She could hear it as if it were yesterday. He had been gone for 34 years now.

Roseanne let herself descend into a dreamlike state and thought of one Christmas in particular. She was in the third grade. Her dad had left that year in January, supposedly to find work. He had spent the year working in Wisconsin and Northern Michigan. She didn’t know until she was an adult that he and her mother were actually separated that year. She had missed him so terribly that she could hardly do her school work. She had cried when her mother suggested getting a Christmas tree, but she finally agreed to a small one. It didn’t feel right with her daddy.

When her Daddy was home on Christmas Eve, she always got up really early and he met her in the living room to see her “Santa Claus” gifts. When Christmas Eve came, she knew it would never be the same without her daddy. She woke up early anyway and went downstairs, thinking she would just sit and look at the tree until her mother awakened. She climbed up in his big easy chair and sat there and cried for him.

Suddenly, she heard someone at the back door, using what sounded like a key. She froze in the chair. The person walked in, making a lot of noise. Could it be Santa, she wondered? But a miracle happened! Her Daddy walked into the living room with a bag of presents. She flew into his arms.

After not seeing him for almost a year, she and her daddy sat under the tree and had Christmas. It was 3 a.m., so they didn’t wake her mother who wasn’t well. Then, she fell asleep in his arms in the big easy chair. That’s how her mother found them the next morning.

Roseanne roused herself from her dream state both smiling and crying. She still missed him so much.

She walked over to her recording system and found “O Holy Night.” As she listened to it, she grew more calm. Her future was uncertain, but a good and wise friend had given her good advice. He had advised her to let it come to her and have some faith. For the first time in her life, she was going to try to follow that advice. She would always hold her dad and that very special Christmas close to her heart. It would help her have faith.

 

Journal: My Respite – Wildlife Sightings

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This island is a wild and beautiful place. It’s also a place where one has to be careful because it is home to interesting wildlife. A virtual  zoo. Some live only in the tropics. Some live out on this island because they feel safe and, for the most part, they are. Since we share the island with them, we have to be sure we are safe as well. We also have to make sure our pets are safe. I would guess that the majority of people who live on the island have a dog and so do the majority of tourists. People who come to my island and who live here have to remember that we are, indeed, in the tropics.

During the last few days, there have been wildlife sightings, not just on the island but in the development where I live. Very close to my home. In the case of the dangerous wildlife, like alligators, the management tries to keep them out. Alligators are a part of life this far south in Florida. We have three small lakes, perhaps ponds, Today, an alligator was sighted in one of them, slithering into the water. Even though I’ve always known alligators are here, I’ve never seen one on the island. There’s a first time for everything!

This island is a nesting spot for the bald eagle. I love to watch them nesting in the fall to have their babies in the early spring. One has to remember that they can be dangerous. If you are walking a small dog, they have no problem swooping down and picking it up. There is a nesting pair in a tall evergreen tree in my yard. I’ll be guarding Hanna, my small dog of about 25 pounds, when we go for walks.

In the last few days, a bobcat has been spotted at night in the back of the development. I’m used to bobcats since my home is in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky and I’ve heard them scream in the trees in my backyard. But, I don’t particularly want to encounter one when I’m walking Hanna at night. To complicate matters, the management of the development says that coyotes are encroaching on our development. Suddenly, island wildlife has decided to live right here with me.

Life is never boring on this beautiful island. Any ideas on how to walk Hanna after dark? 🙂

 

The Sounds of the Gulf of Mexico

 

IMG_1407I stand on the pier listening to the sounds of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s always overwhelmed me just to see the Gulf or any part of the ocean. When I get accustomed to seeing it, then I begin to listen to its sounds. There are far more sounds than sights.

The Gulf is generally a calm body of water. If you just listen to the sound of the water, you will hear it gently lapping at the beach or whatever lies at its edge. Other places, such as the island where I live part-time, it laps at the mangroves trees along its banks. Mangrove forests surround parts of my island. They serve as fish hatcheries, protection from hurricanes for the island, and many other purposes in tropical areas. If the tide is coming in and you are at an area where there are rocky beaches, the water sounds like it is slapping the rocks with that sound of slapping turning into almost a cracking sound as the tide comes in faster and faster.

If you are facing the Gulf and not a bay off the Gulf, the sound differs. If the tide is coming in and hitting rocks or a sea wall, you hear a percussive sound, almost a booming. If the Gulf is stirred up due to a storm, the sound becomes almost thunderous and to some, very exciting.

The sound of the Gulf or any part of the ocean appeals to something primitive, perhaps embryonic or even evolutionary, in most of us. It soothes my moods and evens out my temperament. It makes me feel at home.

Journal: My Respite…..the Bat House – Nov 6, 2017

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When I went in search of a Pine Island sunrise, I found fog, but I also found a gem of a tiny park in the community of Matlacha. This park is called Bat House Park and you can see the Bat House and plaque in these pictures. There are also a few benches, a small number of parking places, and an awesome place to fish in Matlacha Bay.

This bat house is for the Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat which can eat up to 3,000 insects each in a night. It’s located at the base of the “fishingest bridge in the world” and is a great use of a tiny pocket of land.

Journal: My Respite….Making it Home

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Do you see the images out there in the fog? Those are shrimp boats in the Matlacha, FL harbor. When I looked at this scene, my thought was “the ghost ships of Matlacha,” but they are not ghosts. They are real fishing boats. I took this picture yesterday morning, through the fog. I had come to Matlacha to take a picture of the sunrise, but it was socked in with fog.

Matlacha is a tiny village adjacent to Pine Island. It was a commercial fishing village turned, now, into an artist’s colony. It is a collection of neon-colored buildings housing art galleries and great restaurants. It’s very much an “old Florida” place and is only one of the villages in the Pine Island complex. I love many of the restaurants in Matlacha and will feature them in this blog as I visit them. Even though there isn’t as much commercial fishing in Matlacha as in the past, the industry still exists there as you can see by the shrimp boats in the fog.

Today, I plan to visit the Island Seafood Market in Matlacha where many of the fishing boats come in for the night. They have some of the best, fresh seafood in the late afternoon that I’ve ever eaten, after the fishing boats unload their fare. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about the seafood and can even tell the novices about preparation. I’ll let you know what I buy and have for dinner in this blog tomorrow!

We had fog yesterday and today. It’s odd for my beautiful island, although it happens occasionally at this time of year. I’m looking forward to the fog clearing so I can go to Matlacha in the early morning and photograph the sunrise, which is as beautiful on Pine Island as the sunset.

Today is a beautiful sunny day on Pine Island. We are trying to figure out what to do about our failing A/C and refrigerator. I’m still trying to unpack and will complete that task today. I also hope to get to the Bokeelia pier to get a new sunset picture in the late afternoon. I have an appointment in Ft. Myers today.

All of this means that I will probably not have time to write until evening. I am a little behind with  my word count for NaNoWriMo, but not much. I hope to catch up tonight.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ll be here for 5-6 months. That’s a long time to be away. So I’m taking some time to make my place on my island in the sun home.

 

Journal: My Respite…..Really? Nov. 5, 2017

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Life does indeed get in the way, doesn’t it. I’ve been in South Florida only a little over 48 hours. I knew there would be some upfront recovery time from the trip and some upfront time to set up my home again after being gone for many months. I was prepared for all that. I was even prepared for a little hurricane damage. But, my friends who had advised me of the hurricane damage couldn’t know the extent of it.

It seems that dear Hurricane Irma (please notice that I am not cursing though I want to) decided to, more or less, take out our central air conditioning unit as she passed our way. I assume it was water that did it, although there is no way to know now. It is also interesting that, suddenly, the refrigerator is also not working. Water? Probably. But again, no way to know. The hurricane was weeks ago. The moral to the story is if a hurricane is ever in the vicinity of your property, don’t do what I did. Don’t wait weeks to check on it. GO CHECK ON IT right afterwards. Being a hurricane novice, what did I know? So now, I get to purchase a new A/C unit and probably a new refrigerator. Thanks, Irma.

Do you know what it is like in South Florida with minimal A/C and refrigeration? Hell. That’s what it is like. Oops. Cursing. Yesterday, it was 90 degrees here. Yes, in November.

I’m going to talk to FEMA. Not that I think it will do any good at this late date, but a girl can ask, right? Maybe they will at least send someone to check and make an assessment. Next year. That’s how far behind they are running. I have to have A/C and refrigeration NOW, not next year.

Since I am ranting, I will continue! Let me tell you what the news media does NOT report. Bonita Springs, FL is a pretty major community around here. Hurricane Irma was weeks and weeks ago. Bonita Springs is STILL under water!! Has anyone even heard about that!? How can this not be a news story? Apparently, a river in the area came out of its banks and just never receded. ??? I think Bonita Springs needs FEMA and help beyond FEMA. The National Guard? Something? Does the U.S. now just leave our citizens under water?

As you know, I am here for a respite and to write. So far, respite? Zero. Writing? If you’re reading this, you are reading the first thing I’ve written since arriving on my island and it is 3:40 a.m. That might emphasize my day to you.

On the upside, I did visit the pier this evening and was lucky enough to see some friends who I haven’t seen in months there. Beautiful cobalt blue water and the pink aftermath of the sunset. Picture above. The Gulf/Bay was whitecapping tonight.

I forget that it is morning! It may be my morning to try to catch a sunrise. After all, why go to bed now! Sunrise is only 2.5 hours away and a friend told me tonight about a wonderful place to catch it.

Stay tuned…..

 

 

Journal: My Respite on my Island in the Sun – Nov 3, 2017

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Photo copyright Rosemary Carlson

It’s Day 1 of my respite on my island in the sun and Day 3 of NaNoWriMo 2017. I arrived around 2 p.m. on my island after several rather hard days of traveling by car. I feel like the interstate highways, or at least the one I was on, have become highways from hell or at the very least, international speedways populated mostly by 18-wheelers. I seriously almost got run over once. I had a less serious close call a second time. I feel like I was lucky to get here! But, here I am, at my home on my island and it is so good to be here.

There was a hurricane. Hurricane Irma. It shows and I’ve only seen a small part of the island so far. The islanders and outside help from various states have done an excellent cleanup job. But there was a hurricane and it was a serious one that almost directly hit my island. You can tell. Did I have damage? Yes, but very little compared to some people. I feel lucky.

My island is still the wonderful, magical place it has always been. Hurricane Irma, I have one thing to say to you. You failed. Big Fail. At least on this island. Other places were harder hit.

After eating some soft-shelled crab for dinner at one of my favorite bars on the island, I came home and took a three-hour nap. Hanna, my puppy, joined me. Unpacking could wait, I decided. The picture at the first of the post? That sign stands at the front of my favorite bar and I love it!

Speaking of Hanna, she had serious motion sickness when we left home. She’s only seven months old. By the time we arrived, Hanna was a big girl with no motion sickness at all. Trial by fire.

National Novel Writing Month 2017 (NaNoWriMo17) started while I was on the road. Have I managed to write? Yes! The goal of the competition is 50,000 words during the month of November. My goal is not that lofty because my WIP is going to be about 30,000 – 35,000 words – a novella. That means I must write 1,167 words/day to finish my first draft this month. So far – DONE! I will keep you posted.

I can’t wait until tomorrow. Isn’t that a good feeling to have? Groceries – healthy food – is the first priority and I hear there is an awesome new produce market on the island. I will work on unpacking. I will enjoy the bright blue sky and sunshine here. I would like to get up early enough to photograph the sunrise. I’m pretty tired from the trip. If I manage to get up, I’ll share the photo with you. Until the next installment….