Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Personal Climate Change

Last year, we moved from Kentucky to Florida to assist in my father's care. He has passed away, but we appear to be stuck here for the long haul. I'm sure this sounds like fun to everyone who only comes here to vacation at the beach, but we live with my mother and we're not making enough money to buy any of the fun vacationers get to have. My spouse's asthma has gone into remission since our arrival, but I'm having far more trouble with the climate adjustment.

Kentucky is hot and humid far more often than I would like, but it doesn't even come close to Florida. We live about a mile from the ocean, which means we get all the humidity and none of the breeze. Plus, 'winter' here consists of a week of autumn-like coolness preceded and followed by temps in the high 70s and lower 80s. That sounds fine until you realize that winter only lasts 3 months. The rest of the time it is punishingly hot. As in 'blast furnace' hot. Since it rains at least once a day during the summer months, I don't think it'd be going too far to apply the term 'outdoor sauna' to the state.


  • Exercising outdoors is only done during the winter months by sane people. These are usually the snowbirds, who still have brain cells undamaged by the heat. Even walking along the causeway is a dangerous undertaking if there is no breeze. If I want to get up at an obscene hour, I can walk at the community center, but let's get real - I only get up early if someone is paying me to do it. Exercise is not happening.
  • Moisturizers with an SPF factor. Treating skin cancer is a big function of Floridian dermatologists. My late father had pieces cut and zapped out of his scalp on a regular basis. Some stores even sell clothing with an SPF factor, which tells you how serious a problem the sun is here. I use Lubriderm SPF 15 and watch my moles like a hungry hawk would.
  • The constant use of Zip-Locs and Glad bags: rain comes and goes with very little warning here, and with great ferocity. Why? Because there's nothing tall enough to slow rain clouds down, and they've got an ocean to draw material from. Wearing rain gear all the time is begging for heatstroke, so people just do their best to protect their electronics and other delicate items. 
  • Hair: Whenever it rained in Lexington, at least one person would ask if I'd just gotten a perm. With the humidity here, I'm using all sorts of conditioners I never needed before. If I didn't, I'd have bigger hair than Carrot Top playing with a Van de Graaff generator.
  • Legs: Women's work attire generally involves skirts and capris, although during the 'winter' months 'regular' slacks are preferred. Me, I've worn shorts almost every day since I moved here in April. There's only been a few days in which I willingly wore anything longer. It's that hot here, especially when you live in a house with old folks. This also translates to my sudden need to shave my legs when employed. I have a question for drag queens and very butch women: can you shave your legs with a Norelco, and if you do, will you damage it?
  • Nether regions: I am much higher-maintenance here, too. The heat and humidity cause a malady referred to as 'prickly heat' by women and 'swamp ass' by men. I powder everything when I get out of the shower, and have even had to change my brand of pads... which may be TMI for the male readers out there.

I've been told that my blood will eventually thin and I, too, will learn to tolerate the summers and come to think of sixty degrees as a 'freezing' temperature. Question for other transplants: is this true, or is it just a line of bull Floridians came up with to conceal their possible reptile heritage? I'm not seeing it.


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

TGI 2013, and TG I Have Friends

Anyone who's dealt with me knows I love to talk. I like to give opinions, tell stories, and supply a generous amount of humor to conversations. There are only two times I don't. One is when I'm too busy, the other is when things have gone drastically wrong in my life.

2011 was one of the happiest, and busiest, years of my life. 2012 was the saddest.

My father's first visit to the hospital happened during my appearance at the Kentucky Book Fair in November 2011. I joked with the authors beside me that he was trying to weasel out of a heart cath, so he couldn't be that bad off.

At Christmas, it was clear that he was in trouble. He was physically miserable and unable to do much more than watch television. Gwen and I asked then if he needed us to move down to Florida to help out. He refused, saying he wasn't 'there' yet.

On February 26th, he arrived.

He collapsed at his computer, and Mother called 911. He spent the next month in the hospital, while Gwen and I gave quick notice at our jobs and packed up the house. We wouldn't have made it without the help of Gwen's family. They helped us pack, made repairs on the house, and took turns on the drive to Florida. They were truly wonderful.

We arrived to a mess. My parents' house, and their way of living, required severe adjustments. Dad was wheelchair bound, so we had the local handyman over to put in ramps. He also converted the enclosed bath into a walk-in so Dad could use a bench.

Most of the bill-paying and medication ordering had been done online by my father. We strongly suspect that he had a mini-stroke when he collapsed, because when he came home he was no longer able to use his computer. Gwen and I took those over, and now they are done mostly on paper so my mother can participate.

His health continued to decline, which you may have gathered from the obit I posted earlier this year. In many ways, his death was a mercy. It was a hard way to die, and I am grateful to Hospice for making it as comfortable as possible.

I didn't post much here, but I did share the harrowing experience with my friends on Facebook. So many of them offered their support and encouragement during the bad times, I could not name them all. During the final week in the hospice facility, several were posting cute kitten and puppy pictures nonstop on my wall because it was my only relief from the emotional blast furnace.

A number of arrangements and filings had to be made, and we're still making bureaucratic adjustments nearly four months later. Enough space has been opened up, though, to see our future, and we don't have one. Gwen has a part-time job, and I don't know if I have a real post-holiday job with Macy's yet. We have no savings left and no health insurance.

I'm still looking forward to 2013, though... because I'm damned glad 2012 is over.