Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saddlebag, Disney, Thanksgiving, Space Coast Marathon

The minute the weather turned cooler, I began my next major home improvement project--landscaping.   This was to be a "concept" job as I do not want to maintain crabgrass and weeds.  Grass does not grow well in Saddlebag because the immense oak trees block the sun and consume all soil nutrients.  What the tree canopies don't kill is mangled by the troupes of sand hill cranes wandering around digging up the ground with their primitive talons.

This is what lawns typically look like, except mine is worse than most.

My initial impulse was to AstroTurf my entire property; it is a very environmentally-green thing to do and my turf would look good all the time and not need any maintenance at all.  Alas-it was cost prohibitive!  The next idea is to divide the property into two parts and do the front this year and think about the back half next year.

The goal was to blanket the front yard with mostly drought-, heat- and cold-tolerant, ground-hugging plants that need no pruning, thereby eliminating grass/weeds.   I dug about a hundred holes for plants, laid in weed control fabric and soaker hoses, placed a ton of paver block for edging and hoisted 75 bags of rubber mulch.   Job completed in about 3 weeks of almost daily work.  Got a good tan.

I finished just in time to join my pal Carole and her new baby Rachael in Disney.  We bought our FL Resident "weekday only" tix, loaded up  BSE (baby support equipment) and headed out to the parks.

Rachael is one yr old and not mature enough for most of the rides, but that was OK because we were quite pooped and pushed to our limits with the few rides we took.   I had not realized that the strollers get parked outside the attraction and non-walkers had to be carried while waiting in line!   Here I am with a sleeping Rachael waiting to see "It's a Small World".  Disney made a major improvement in this attraction and stopped piping the music OUTSIDE the attraction so you are no longer subjected to this child's song playing over and over inside your head for the next 2 weeks.

From time to time, Carole had to use the changing table; this particular change was pretty major.

We all  had a fun ride on the carousel.

That evening, we went to Hollywood Studios to see the Dancing Lights, which are just Christmas lights flickering with music.  Naturally, Disney did this "bigger than life" and got me in the Christmas spirit with snow falling down from the snowblowing machines mounted on top of the NY building set and speakers blasting out Mannheim Steamroller's Deck the Halls.

We didn't make the Food and Wine Festival due to exhaustion...

My friends, Barry and Sue invited me up for Thanksgiving, so Cassie and I loaded up the moho and squatted in their backyard for a few days.  Since my brother and nephew were flying down to Florida for the Space Coast Marathon, they were also invited, as was their friend, Drew.  Here we are enjoying a sumptious meal prepared by Barry and Sue.  As usual, they outdid themselves with smoked turkey, a spiral pineapple-glazed ham, garlic mashed and candied sweet potatoes, dressing, green bean casserole, homemade cranberry jam and homemade pumpkin schnapps.  We had Jack Daniels Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert.  It was an amazing meal!  Thank you guys for your generosity and an awesome feast!

The next day, we dragged our inflated bodies to Cocoa Beach, the site of the Space Coast Marathon.  The red arrow at right/center is the staging area of the Marathon where the DJ and all the sponsors hang out.

My nephew, Luke, runs for Team In Training Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, DC Chapter.   He is a leukemia survivor and Frank also had leukemia and was an Honored Patient.  This organization supports patients and families in many ways and raises money for cancer research.  I am proud that my nephew has aligned himself with such a fine organization.

The weather was changeable for the day and a half preceding the race, but the morning of the race was perfect!  The start was at 6:15am!   It was controlled chaos at the Start Line with hordes of volunteers and pacers gathering their groups together which are "coralled" according to estimates of race time.  Everyone wore a shoe lace tag which digitally logs their personal time at the Start and Finish lines.

On the day we arrived, Luke turned his ankle walking to the Pier in search of a brewsky, resulting in tenderness and moderate swelling.  We treated it best we could with bandaging, a stabilizing brace and anti-inflammatories and could only hope for the best.  Luke estimated his time for this 13 mile race would be 30 minutes slower than usual because of the ankle.

The race was open to all mobility modalities and ages.   The race course followed the Indian River and I am told that the route was incredibly pleasant and picturesque. 

Luke was excited to see a dolphin swimming close to the shoreline.  This pic was taken in a quaint and beautiful section of Cocoa Village, a walking shopping/dining destination.

Racers were encouraged by Volunteers clad in orange NASA jumpsuits to "Embrace the Suck".

Here is Luke at the Finish Line "embracing" it.

Imagine our excitement when Luke finished almost 30 minutes ahead of his estimate at 2h 3m!  That was a personal best for him and he was very pleased.  We were also quite happy that the ankle had not been a problem or further injured.

After gorging on a pancake breakfast prepared by Volunteers, Luke immediately posted to Facebook followers.

We hoisted a few to Luke's success.

I am now back in Saddlebag making my Christmas round of doctors and other purveyors of medical devices.   Right before I closed on my house, I decided to do "medical housekeeping" and get a complete systems tuneup, so now all the annual checkups fall during the holidays.

Between chats with the docs, I'll decorate the house for Christmas, and work on another project I have cookin'.  More on that next blog.


  1. Thanks so much for the update! It's official....I must be clairvoyant, or some such, as I was thinking this morning that I should email you and see what you've been up to! Your yard looks incredible!!! You've done your usual wonderful job. :-) All is well here. Not as dramatic as your doings, but it suits us fine. Hugs to you and Cassie!

  2. Sue your blogs are always so interesting. You keep yourself busy. I love the landscaping you did. Makes me want to do some of my own next summer. Give Cassie a hug for me.
    Happy Holidays. Mare

  3. No picture of Cassie with her new boyfriend Tucker?