July was a combination of fun and work (lots of work!) First the fun part….
As mentioned in last month’s update, Lucille’s parents (Jerry and Rita) celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary late June, with the gang (all four of their kids plus other family members) gathered down in Florida over that first week in July. Even Jerry’s twin sister, Marie, flew in from California with her daughter Carole to not only join us all but to belatedly celebrate her and Jerry’s 85th birthday in May.
Lucille’s brothers Roger and Ray and sister Yvette and their respective families rented two of the villas at the Beach Bungalow in Melbourne Beach, right across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. Both places are beautiful but we particularly liked the larger of the two villas because of its spaciousness when entertaining a crowd. The family has vacationed in several areas in Florida over the years and have declared this place the best for the level of detail and service the owners provide. Each villa has a three-ring binder chock full of information on the best places to eat, where to buy groceries, nearby churches and the service times, medical facilities, things to do and see in the area--all with accompanying maps. The Beach Bungalow even rolls out the red carpet for pets – the most dog-friendly accommodations we’ve ever seen. If you are looking for a great place to stay within a stone’s throw to the beach and a few minutes walk to nearby restaurants, check them out.
So, now we have a gathering of family from Sarasota, Tamarac, Melbourne, and of course Palm Bay (all in Florida,) Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, California, and the two of us (home is wherever we’re parked) – what do we do? A hint…. when Yvette arrived, she declared – “Let the eating begin!” And so we did. Our best family gatherings seem to revolve around food – we all contributed either by cooking a dish, throwing in a few dollars to pay for groceries, or bringing something tasty to cook. It was enjoyable just hanging out, visiting while meals were being prepared, eaten and cleaned up. The entire week was a laid back celebration of Jerry and Rita’s wedding anniversary – no formal party, just a gathering of family.
Ray had done research in advance and learned about a sea turtle walk while we were all in the area. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society has obtained permission to conduct tours of the loggerhead nesting sites during the months of June and July to educate the public about this species. On Monday evening, Ray and wife Tracy, their daughters Katie & Jessie, Roger and wife Kathie, and the two of us drove to Pelican Beach Park in Satellite Beach on A1A.
The program started at 9 pm with an interesting but lengthy presentation on the seven species of sea turtles and then specific information about the three found in this area – loggerhead, green and leatherback. Green and leatherback are endangered, loggerhead threatened. The Society’s volunteers are only allowed to look for and show the loggerhead because it’s not endangered.
Sea turtles are similar to land turtles except sea turtles don’t retract their heads. Their bodies are shells that are not as open as the land turtle. Having a more open shell would make it difficult to stay in the water. The turtles lay eggs about three times a year, 100 eggs at a time. (They lay so many eggs because the mortality rate is high due to human and natural predators.) They go back out to sea after laying the eggs, leaving them incubating for the next 55-60 days. Hatchlings then emerge and head for the sea where they’ll live for years before coming back to lay eggs themselves, usually around age 30. The volunteer told us that someone called to have a hatchling rescued after having spotted it on a roof. They assumed a bird had picked up the hatchling and dropped it there. Hatchlings usually head out only at night, using natural light to find their way. Man-made lighting may confuse their direction, causing them to go in circles and die before finding their way to the ocean.
While we were listening to the presentation, some of the Society’s volunteers were walking the beach searching for a loggerhead turtle on shore laying her eggs. We finally got the word around 10 pm that a nest had been spotted about a half mile north of the park, so off we trooped, along with about forty other people, dodging the surf and walking on shells, seaweed and who knows what else. Flashlights are not allowed and there was very little moonlight. When we got to the nest, it was awesome to see how huge Mama Loggerhead was, probably weighing close to 300 pounds. She had climbed to the top of a three-foot bank and was facing inland. After scooping out a deep hole with her back flippers, she started laying her eggs. The eggshell’s consistency is rubber-like at this stage; otherwise, there would have been a huge hole filled with scrambled eggs. After she finished laying her eggs, she then scooped the sand back into the hole, tamped it down using her considerable weight, turned herself around and slid back down the bank. Using her flippers, she ‘walked’ back out to sea and swam away, at which time, we all applauded her. Volunteers led us back to make sure we didn’t disturb any other turtles that may have come up on shore since we passed by. If we had, we would have had to wait till the turtle was finished and back out to sea. We also had to make sure we didn’t disturb any of the turtle tracks – volunteers patrol the beach every morning during nesting season to count the tracks leading to nests to get an idea of how many eggs have been laid. It was midnight by the time we returned home but being part of the sea turtle walk made the long night worthwhile.
After the week’s celebration, everyone left for their respective homes. And we kicked into high gear with the upcoming move. We still had lots of the folks’ personal belongings to sort through and decide what was moving with them and what would be left behind. Years ago, Lucille had worked for a moving company – she pulled that experience out of the memory bank and put it to use professionally packing the many boxes that then ended up stacked in the spare bedroom. The local Uhaul company got a lot of our business during the month – we kept returning for a few more boxes, and then a few more, etc…
Our days usually started right after breakfast. We’d work weekdays till early afternoon, leaving then to allow the folks to relax some (they are both in their 80s and we were doing a good job of disrupting their normal routine.) Afternoons were spent rounding up their medical records from the various medical care providers they had used over the past nineteen years; chauffeuring them to medical appointments; arranging for utility, phone, cable and newspaper services to be cancelled; completing change of address forms for the post office as well as magazines, etc; reviewing healthcare and prescription drug plans in the Georgia area; lining up a gal to handle the estate sale when the house was empty; finding a kennel for Shelley while we were in Georgia.
We stayed busy but weekends were our free time, giving us all a break. Larry worked on a local Habitat for Humanity build site on Saturdays; Lucille volunteered a few hours here and there at the local library. Where’s the free time you ask? Well, the Habitat and library work were not only fun, they were great stress-relievers.
And then the last week of July was here – a week in which we both physically and emotionally were pushed to our limits. Yvette and Pat
came down from Georgia in Pat’s truck, which we promptly loaded with oddball-shaped household goods. We loaded the trunk of the folks’ personal car with all the clothing they were taking to Georgia. On Sunday, their mini-caravan headed north. Yvette drove the car with her parents riding with her; Pat followed in his truck. Right after they left, we started disassembling their bedroom furniture and packing the last of their stuff. We moved all the packed boxes into the garage (all 44 of them!) Some of the smaller pieces of furniture were also moved to the garage, the easiest point from which to pack the rental truck.
Monday morning we dropped Shelley off at the kennel. For those of you with pets, most dogs aren’t too thrilled to be left behind. We’ve got a weird dog--she actually enjoys going to the vet and kennels – more opportunities for belly rubs and attention. After two quick stops to get the last of the folks' medical records, and prescriptions (a 90-day supply to give them some time to line up a new doctor in Georgia), we picked up the UHaul truck. About four hours later, the two of us had the entire truck packed, to its limits, with just a few false starts (oops, this piece will fit better over here; do you have anything small for this gap? Stuff like that…) We managed to pack the 44 boxes plus furniture for a one-bedroom apartment into a 14 foot truck (size of the truck box, not length of truck) in about four hours. If Pat hadn’t brought his own truck down, we would not have been able to take everything that was needed. And we did this with the heat and high humidity (heat index of 104!)
Tuesday we were on the road by 9 am and after an uneventful trip, arrived at Magnolia Manor in Richmond Hill around 2 pm. Pat (a lifesaver again!) took off work early and met us down there (driving the car that was still loaded with clothes), helping us unload the truck. What we didn’t know was that there is a 300-yard paved walk from the parking lot to the freight elevator – oh well, at least the afternoon rains hadn’t started yet and there was a little bit of a breeze. The Manor has hand trucks, small flatbed carts and rolling carts to help the residents move in. We had an assembly line of sorts. Larry remained with the UHaul truck and loaded hand trucks and carts while Pat and Lucille pushed whatever carts, etc…were already loaded up the path, into the elevator and up to the third floor to unload, then back downstairs to get more stuff. It took us a while to figure out the best configuration to fit all these carrying contraptions in the elevator, which wasn’t very big but it was adequate. And we had some laughs doing all this, like the time we thought the elevator had gone up to the 3rd floor, only to find out we were still on the first floor; or the elevator seemed to have a mind of its own when we’d select the floor. Surprisingly, and despite the 300-yard walk and the multiple elevator trips up and down, we had the entire UHaul truck and the trunk of the car unloaded within three hours.
Back to Pat and Yvette’s to spend the night in their travel trailer set up in the backyard – it was like having our own apartment. What hospitality!
Wednesday, we drove Pat’s truck down to Magnolia Manor to unload it – at last, all vehicles emptied out. But now the apartment was a jumbled mess of boxes and furniture. We spent a long day that day setting up the furniture, unpacking most of the boxes and putting things away. Back to Yvette’s for the night, then back down to Richmond Hill again on Thursday to finish unpacking. Yvette joined us that afternoon – she organized the kitchen drawers and cabinets. Back to Yvette’s for the night.
At last, on Friday, the folks moved into their apartment. But wait – that brings us to August! Stay tuned next month for our adventures the first few days at Magnolia Manor.
Coming up: Back to Florida to start getting the house ready for sale.