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Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Week in Florida Bonding with the Family

Spending time with one's family is way up there on the list of priorities in the Pomarolli family. Recently Dick and I were a part of that important process thanks to a most generous couple from Chicago who heard Kerri speak and offered her the use of their beach home in Sanibel Island. There are definite perks to being a Christian comedian.

The wheels were in motion last fall when Kerri spoke at a women's conference in Chicago and Patti Margaron was in the audience and after the show said she and her husband owned a home in Sanibel and Kerri was welcome to use it any time she wished provided no one else was there. Kerri, of course, was overwhelmed that a complete stranger would make such a generous offer, but immediately looked at her calendar and saw that she had 2 shows in Fl. in mid April. She emailed Patti and asked if the house was available and Patti emailed back that it was. Then Kerri phoned to ask if Dick and I could join them and of course we said yes because we don't pass up an opportunity to see our children. Kerri mentioned that she was going to also ask Ron's parents and Dick's step mom who had not been back to Fl. since Dick's dad died over 3 years ago. They were thrilled at the invitation and we allstarted making plans for the trip.

So the long awaited day arrived on April 14th for Dick and me to leave for the drive to Sanibel. As it is a 10 hour drive, we opted to spend the night in Gainesville since neither of us are into long drives anyone. Been there; done that, and it's hard on the arthritic joints and concentration abilities.

I should have gotten an inkling that this was going to be an eventful trip as Dick was diagnosed with an abscessed tooth a few days earlier. The dentist said he needed a root canal but the infection would have to clear up first so he gave him an antibiotic and said it was okay to make the trip. Well it wasn't the doctor's mouth and he doesn't know the history of unlikely events happening to the Pomarollis when we travel. No wonder we stay home all the time. After all we have visited most of the ER's in every state and quite a few in foreign countries.

A second omen was that the previous day I had my first "aura" preceding a migraine. Since I'd never seen jagged lights before it scared me enough to make an appointment to see the eye doctor who confirmed my diagnosis ( I should have been a doctor) and eased my mind somewhat. It's bad enough to suffer migraines without having vision problems to boot. Because of having to see the doctor I had to cancel my nail appointment which was a disaster since my gel nails would probably all fall off before we got home. That's not a pretty sight. Then on top of that I had a call from my beauty shop saying that my beautician was sick and had to go home. Another major disappointment, but I rationalized that one hour in the Florida sea air and wind would wreck havoc on my hair anyway so I would persevere.

The night before we were leave, Dick's tooth started hurting and swelling and he expressed his concern ( rightly so) about going on the trip, but it was too late to change plans since his step mom was so excited and we had to pick up her at the airport on Sunday. I tried to be positive and told him the antibiotic just needed time to start working. Of course it wasn't my tooth that was in pain. But God is good and the next morning the tooth felt better and we loaded up his Expedition with enough clothes for a month and started out bright and early. The weather forecasters were predicting severe weather and even tornadoes so that wasn't a pleasant prospect. I failed to mention that Dick and I never drive in perfect weather. Our windshield wipers need exercise when we're on the road.

The weather cooperated with exception of clouds and that was okay because I had purchased a portable DVD player so I could entertain myself while Dick drove and listened to country music. I could see the movie better without sunshine. Since I have a "slight" problem with cataracts and double vision plus had been experiencing "auras", Dick felt safer in the driver's seat than having me seeing 2 semi trucks coming towards us, with one in my lane. Imagine that!!!! So I relaxed and watched movies while he drove. Such a sacrifice on my part!!

By the time we arrived in Gainesville and secured the last room at the Hilton Hotel near the U. of Fl. campus we were ready to exit the car. Traffic in town was horrendous and we found out at the hotel that Fl. was having the Blue/Orange weekend where all the new athletes come in with their families and there were several sports events going on. Leave it to us to be in the midst of thousands of college kids and bumper to bumper traffic. There were policemen directing traffic and I thought we would never get to Stein Mart and the mall to partake of all the sales. I wanted very much to shout out a "War Eagle" but Dick didn't want someone to run over us so suggested that I keep my mouth shut. It was very annoying seeing all the No. 1 flags on all the cars, since Auburn actually was the only team to beat them in football. Can't understand that ranking process. After eons we arrived at the mall and shopped for several hours without making a single purchase. That was a first for me, I think.

By the time we came out of the mall the sky was very dark and we thought we should find a restaurant and have an early dinner before heading back to the hotel hopefully ahead of the storm. After stopping at a couple of places with people waiting in line we decided to just go back to the hotel and eat in their dining room and hopefully be safe from the storm. Bad decision. Our food was less than palatable and the prices weren't so palatable either since we couldn't eat the food. Of well, I always carry a stash of Snickers and Baby Ruth's so we wouldn't starve.

We were both tired so after showering and hearing on the weather channel that tornadoes were heading our way, we went to bed. At least we were on the 2nd floor so thought we were as safe as we could be under the circumstances. The next morning we woke up early and turned the TV on to hear that Gainesville was under a tornado warning until 9:00 so we decided to stay put. Gloria (Dick's step mom) would have to wait for us at the airport. Of course they were listing all the counties under the warning and we didn't have a clue which county we were in so didn't know if we would be heading into or away from the storm... That's the beauty of not knowing where you are which sometimes happens in old age. So after a leisurely breakfast the warning was over and we packed the car and headed towards Fr. Meyers.

The weather cooperated at first, but about an hour out of Ft. Meyers the bottom fell out of the sky and the rain came down in torrents. Dick could hardly see the road and I was seeing 4 semi's instead of two so it was definitely nerve-wracking. Gloria's plane was due in at 11:30 so she arrived before the rain and called to say she would just read her book until we got there to pick her up. Kerri and Ron had performed in Orlando the night before and that morning so planned to rent a car and pick his parents up at 6:00. Kerri called at 1:00 to say the rental agency didn't have them registered for a car so they were frantically trying to find a car. Are you getting the picture that the week wasn't starting off exactly on a positive note?????

After what seemed like forever we saw the airport exit and just as we pulled into the terminal area, the rain stopped. Gloria was sitting outside on a bench waiting for us so after hugs and greetings we were off to Sanibel. Our hosts Patti and Brett were waiting for us so they could show us around and explain the operations of the pool, hot tub, sauna, etc. As you would expect they were lovely people who have spent their lives doing good things for other people. Besides the home in Fl. which they bought 3 years ago, they own a home in the woods of Wisc. which they bought years ago so they could share it with people in the ministry field or people who they think need some time away by themselves. That's in addition to their main home in Chicago. They are in their early 50's and he retired early from the construction business so they could join a missionary project in Kenya and build a children's hospital which necessitates them spending a lot of time in Africa. Their oldest son is a surgeon and he's getting ready to leave to spend a year in helping with this project and taking his wife and 6 month old baby. Okay so I felt a little guilty about complaining about the weather and hair and nail appointments.

The home was located on the main road through the island about a block from the beach and was completely secluded from all the neighbors. It was on 2 acres of land surrounded by trees and flowers complete with a huge pool, hot tub, and sauna off the living room. Patti had told Kerri that it wasn't fancy, but comfortable and that was indeed the case. It was a 6000 square foot ranch home with 3 bedrooms, a separate apt. with sitting area, kitchen and private lanai; plus a huge living room, family room, large kitchen, and office with fold down couch and sitting area. Since Dick and I were the first to arrive we of course had first choice of bedrooms. We decided that Ron's parents would enjoy having some privacy so they should have appt. and Gloria opted for the room with twin beds. Since the master bedroom had a king size bed and Dick needs space for all his back pillows we chose that room which left Kerri and Ron with a nice room with queen size bed. Just to be considerate I checked with Kerri by phone to make sure she was okay with these decisions and after quietly mentioning that since she was responsible for getting the home, maybe she and Ron should have king size bed, she agreed that the Christian thing to do would be to let Dad have the larger bed. I had to keep checking my Christian charity attitude as we moved our belongings into the spacious master bedroom.

By the time we visited with Patti and Brett and got familiar with the house it was time for Kerri and Ron and his parents to arrive. But of course the plane from LA was delayed because of the weather so it was after 7:00 before they left the airport. Patti and Brett suggested that we drive down to the beach while we were waiting. The temperature had dropped and it was cool so we donned sweaters and beach shoes and set out. Brett explained that he was leaving his SUV for us to drive around the island as it had a parking sticker and parking was $2 at hour at the beach. Their halos kept getting larger by the minute. The wind was blowing 50 miles an hours and I was happy I hadn't spent money having my hair done as it took all of 2 seconds for me to look like a wild woman. Plus my light sweater wasn't keeping me very warm. Sanibel beach is known for its shells and the beach was covered with them. We walked for a short while and decided to head back so we could meet the others for dinner. I was certainly ready for that.

Patti and Brett were spending the night with friends before flying to Va. the next day to visit their two sons so we asked them to join us for dinner. By that time we felt like we were good friends and they also wanted to have some time with Kerri and Ron and meet Incha and Jae Ha (Ron's parents). They suggested we meet at the Island Cow, a local favorite with good food. We arrived before Kerri and Ron which was okay since we had to wait to get a table. Shortly Ron and Kerri and parents arrived and after more hugs and introductions we were shown to a large table where we proceeded to indulge in some delicious entrees. Incha, and Jae Ha do not eat out at restaurants other than Korean very often, but were very open to trying new things. Incha ordered barbequed salmon which she had never tried (neither had I for that matter) and seemed to enjoy it. Conversation was lively and mostly about the work that Patty and Brett are doing in Kenya. By the end of the meal Kerri and Ron had offered to do a benefit concert to help them raise funds. So now I'm feeling guilty and thinking that we'd better make some kind of contribution as well.

After dinner we went back home and by the time we got everyone settled and visited awhile longer it was after 11 and I was exhausted as was everyone else. We said goodbye to Patti and Brett and thanked them profusely for their generosity. After that it was good night and fall into bed for a very good night's sleep. Even Dick who doesn't sleep said he slept better than he had in a long while.

Monday morning: It had been decided that we would all travel to Okeechobee to visit Dick's dad and Gloria's old home site which had been devastated by several of the hurricanes shortly after Gloria moved away 3 years earlier. Even though we planned to get an early start it was 10:00 before everyone was up and ready to leave. Dick had brought hats for everyone and Incha gave all the girls a pair of bedroom slippers and Dick some aromatherapy for his car. Incha also gave Kerri and me a little "pig" charm since in Korea it is the "year of the Pig" and the charm is supposed to bring good luck. Well as you will see, it didn't exactly work for that week.

After the gift exchanges, we all piled in the Expedition and I was reminded of the vacation trip movies of the Griswold family. It took a few minutes to decide who was going to sit where, then get the air conditioning adjusted to suit everyone's body temperatures, look at the map and find the best route to take, etc. Since Incha and Jae Ha had never been to Fl. they were interested in everything we saw along the way and Dick and Gloria gave a running commentary on the foliage, trees, history, and alligators. After awhile Jae Ha dozed off as did Kerri and Ron who were tired from the previous weekend's activities. Dick and Gloria wanted to make a detour into Sebring and have lunch at Homer's Smorgasbord; Dad's favorite place to eat so that added an hour onto the trip.

It's hard to describe Homer's except to say that it is a senior's citizen's paradise; lots of food and cheap prices. Incha and Jae Ha were fascinated by the endless array of every kind of food imaginable and everyone quickly filled plates to overflowing. Incha got barbequed ribs and promptly wiped all the sauce off with a napkin. She probably didn't know what she was missing in the way of plaque for the heart. I will say that none of us walked away from the table with hunger pangs even if it was cholesterol heaven.

After lunch we headed out for Okeechobee to visit the mobile home park where Gloria and Dick's dad lived and where our family spent many vacations after Dick's parents moved to Fl. Since 2 hurricanes had passed through that area, there was still evidence of devastation. Gloria's home was unoccupied and it was sad to see their once beautiful yard and gardens overgrown with weeds. She felt fortunate to have sold it and moved before the hurricanes came through.

We then drove 10 miles into the town of Okeechobee and noticed quite a few new businesses; all with Mexican names. The town seemed to have recovered fairly well from the hurricanes. We stopped in to visit one of Gloria's old friends, Irene and what a delight she is. She's an 86 year old widow who lives alone and still does accounting work for several clients. She also makes and sells homemade pickles. We each left with a jar and they are delicious. As we sat around in her living room and chatted, she entertained us with some wonderful witticisms. The only major problem she has is that she can't hear so we had to talk very loud and hope that she heard what we said. Gloria asked if she was still driving and she said of course. There's nothing wrong with her driving; it's all the other old people on the road that you have to watch out for. Some other Irene sayings: She didn't need a man because she never found one who could take care of her as well as she could take care or herself. Probably missed out on a lot of marriage proposals because she didn't hear them. Marriage advice: stay married until kids are 30 or 40 so they can take care of you when you go your separate ways. Still likes to go "jukin". That would be to the local dance hall. Some man asked how many of those drinks have you had and she said "not enough". As we were leaving she asked Kerri if she could find her a man in Hollywood?

We could have stayed and listened to Irene all afternoon but it was getting late and Gloria wanted to visit the cemetery where dad and Dick's mom were buried so we said goodbye and thanked her for entertaining us. We hoped she heard us.

We made our way out of town to the cemetery and as we were standing at the gravesite, Dick picked up a plastic stature of the Madonna and said he had given it to his mother when he was 10 years old. Gloria had found it in the closet and put it on the grave. Dick then said it opened and had a secret compartment so he took the top off and lo and behold pulled out 3 wet one dollar bills which were filled with holes. We were all amazed and decided that we should do something special with the money and the obvious thing of course was to buy 3 lottery tickets. Was that my suggestion??? So on the way home we bought the lottery tickets and didn't have a single winning number. Guess we should have left the money in the statue.

We decided to take a different route home just to see different scenery, but Gloria, Incha, and Dick were the only ones to see much of anything as the rest of us slept. After all, it had been a long day and it wasn't over. Instead of stopping to have a quick dinner Incha insisted on cooking dinner so we made a stop at Albertson's to buy fixins' for fried rice, regular rice, salad, and marinated beef. By the time we got home it was after 8 and "Dancing With The Stars" was in progress so we just left Incha in the kitchen and watched "Dancing" I failed to mention that there was no cable television and only 5 stations with rabbit ears which had to be adjusted. ABC was very snowy so we did the best we could in watching our show. Reminded me of the days "long ago" without cable. How did we survive????

Well it got to be 9:00 and I was hungry, but dinner was not ready. I'm not used to eating that late, but it was only 6:00 Ca. time. So I went in the kitchen and dipped into Incha's salad bowl where she had cut up 10 different kinds of vegetables by hand and poured some dressing on it and enjoyed a healthy meal. The rest of the crew waited and ate the fried rice, and beef at 9:30. Incha loves to cook, but doesn't know how to cook small quantities so we had enough beef and fried rice for 5 meals at least. Little did I know that I would be eating fried rice for the next 3 days?

It had been a long day and everyone was tired so we were in bed by 11. That is everyone except Kerri and Ron who stayed up into the wee hours. Probably better for digestion instead of going right to bed after eating a big meal.

The next morning we all piled in the car again to explore the shops on the island. Kerri and Ron had to go to Bradenton that afternoon for Kerri to do a show so we had to stay close to home. The island shops were very nice, but also very expensive with no "sale" signs so needless to say we looked but didn't buy anything. We did make some bakery purchases at the local market. Dick cannot survive without snacks in the middle of the night. Since Kerri wanted to rest before leaving, we went home and ate leftovers from the night before. Then I got out the floating raft and spent the afternoon in or on the pool.

Dick's tooth was swelling rapidly and he was in terrible pain. He tried to reach his dentist, but no one answered the phone. He called a local dentist on the island, but he wasn't in that week. Finally about 3:00 Dick reached his dentist who prescribed penicillin which he called into the local CVS pharmacy. What a relief, we hoped.

Kerri and Ron left about 4:30 to drive to Bradenton and about 5:00 the rest of our group decided to drive down to the beach, pick up shell, and take pictures of the beautiful sunset. None of us realized how cold it got as the sun went down so we didn't dress appropriately. I actually had on shorts and a sleeveless top. Gloria, Dick, and I walked up and down the beach for about an hour and thought we had more than enough shells to last a lifetime. We had definitely decided not to start a new collection at our house since we have to have room for baby things.

The wind had picked up and we were all beginning to freeze so Dick volunteered to go back to the house and get some sweatshirts. Gloria and I sat down in the chairs we had brought and tried to block the wind. Jae Ha and Incha were still walking on the beach picking up shells and didn't seem to feel the cold; maybe because they were moving quickly. It took Dick about 20 minutes to return with the sweatshirts which we quickly put on. I also wrapped up in a beach towel and I was still cold so at about 7:30 Gloria and I decided to go back to the car and hope the sun set soon so we could go home and get warm. Dick, Jae Ha, and Incha returned to the car around 8 exclaiming how beautiful the sky was and showing us the wonderful pictures he had taken. We did agree that they were beautiful.

Well by the time we got home it was 8:15 and I was starving and Dick's tooth was hurting so he laid down. We deposited our shells on the front steps except that I noticed that Incha brought her bag inside and dropped some of them in the kitchen sink. I thought she was just washing them off, when all of sudden she yelled and jerked her hand back. Unbeknownst to me she had picked up several live creatures and planned to cook them. One was a huge conch shell and the others looked like clams or mussels. I just casually said, "You aren't really going to cook those are you" and she said "oh yes, they're very good delicacy". So she got out a huge pot and put the conch in it to boil and proceeded to clean the smaller creatures. One was very black so she rubbed salt in it to clean it. I had never seen anything like that in my life so was fascinated that as she rubbed and scrubbed the black part disappeared. Well almost disappeared. By that time I was having a hard time really believing that they were going to eat those fish, but both she and Jae Ha kept telling me how good they would be and I should have some. At that point, I just casually mentioned that I really didn't want to have to take them to the ER in the middle of the night. They just laughed and went on cleaning and cooking.

Well since I was hungry I just heated up some fried rice and beef and went into the den to watch "Dancing With the Stars Result Show" I was beginning to feel very Asian after two days of fried rice. There was a bar opening between the kitchen and den and Incha would periodically show me one of the fish and asked if I wanted a taste to which I replied "no thank you". During the commercial I went back into the kitchen and saw that the water in which the conch was boiling had turned a horrible green color. They moved the pot to the sink and Jae Ha lifted the conch out and tried to remove the fish, but apparently it wasn't done enough to come out so they put the pot back on the stove. I went back to my dinner and TV. After the show I went back into the kitchen and the insides of the conch were laying on a plate and it's hard to describe what it looked like except part of it was a kidney shaped orange color with 3 smaller parts which I wouldn't have touched much less eaten. Incha prepared some kind of sauce and I went back to the den. Gloria stayed in the kitchen to watch the meal in progress. After awhile Jae Ha came running into the den licking his lips and saying how great the sea creatures tasted. He even did a little jig to show that it had given him energy. I just calmly said again, "I hope I don't have to take you to the ER" and he just laughed. Soon afterwards we all went to bed.

At 7:15 the next morning Gloria knocked on our bedroom door and said that we needed to get up quickly as Jae Ha had been throwing up all night and was deathly ill. Thankfully Dick's tooth felt some better so he quickly dressed and went into the kitchen to find a pale and weak Jae Ha sitting at the kitchen waiting to be driven to the ER.

Apparently he had started getting sick about midnight and Incha called their doctor and friend in Ca. and he said to try and find something to make Jae Ha throw up. Well he didn't need anything because he started throwing up and continued all night. Incha said she was sleeping soundly and when Jae Ha shook her to try and wake her up she thought he said someone was breaking into the house so just covered up her head with the blanket. Not sure how that was going to protect her, but fortunately there wasn't a burglar. They didn't want to wake Dick up because they knew he was sick with his tooth. I also think they may have felt a little sheepish because I had teased them so much about getting sick and going to the hospital.

At any rate Dick practically carried him to the car and I'm sure broke the speed limits getting to the hospital which was across the bridge to Ft. Meyers. He got there in 35 minutes and there was no one in the ER so they took Jae Ha right in and when Dick explained what had happened and showed the doctor the conch shell he said that it was probably Red Algae poisoning. Apparently everyone in the area had been warned about the poisoning and not to eat seafood off the beach, but we didn't get the message. However there is a sign going to the beach saying that it is illegal to take live sea life from the beach. Ron said that it didn't count for his parents because it wasn't written in Korean.

So the ER staff put Jae Ha in a cubicle and began running tests and gave him something in the IV for nausea and he began to feel better. The tests eventually came back with confirmation that it was the Red Algae poisoning. The doctor said it was good that he had thrown up and gotten most of it out of his system, but it would still take time to get over the effects. In the mean time, Ron and Kerri had driven from Bradenton to the hospital so Ron and Incha drove his dad home and Kerri came home with Dick. The doctor told Jae Ha to just eat soup for a few days so Incha stopped at Publix and bought the ingredients to make enough soup for a month. She came home and began chopping about 10 different kinds of vegetables and cooked chicken breasts and made soup in a 2 gallon pot. Ron said his mom does not know how to cook in small quantities and I believed him. I knew what we were going to be eating for the next few days and we still had rice and beef from the day before. My plans for trying out all the wonderful restaurants on the island were dwindling away.

We were grateful that Jae Ha was home and he was feeling somewhat better but still very weak and tired. So for the next two days he slept most of the time. He got up to eat and tried to sit out by the pool but would doze off and wake up and go back to bed. We were thankful that Incha didn't get sick and no one knows why except that maybe Jae Ha's immune system was not as strong because of his diabetes.

A little side story to this one. That was week of the horrible shootings at Va. Tech and much to our sorrow it was a South Korean student named Cho who had done the shooting. Well Incha and Jae Ha's last name is Cho and they were mortified to hear about the shooter and his name. As they were leaving for the hospital that morning, Incha said to Dick "maybe we shouldn't tell them our name is Cho or they won't treat us". I think she was half way serious.

So between Jae Ha's poisoning and Dick's swollen tooth, there was definitely a damper on the vacation, but since April 18th was Kerri and Ron's second anniversary we decided to have a small celebration. Dick, Kerri, Gloria and I had gone out to lunch at a very nice restaurant on the island. The waitress was extremely friendly and in the course of the conversation she learned that Kerri was pregnant so we heard all about her pregnancy and babies and a lot more information that we didn't need to know. I don't know how the subject came up, but Kerri said the reason for her emotional problems was that she wasn't breast fed to which I replied that I was on drugs which would have harmed a baby. I should have said medications, because then Kerri said she was a Coke baby. The poor waitress started stammering and stuttering about people making mistakes and look how well everything turned out. I was mortified and no one saw fit to enlighten the waitress. When she left to get our check Dick said "well you did drink a lot of Coca Cola so I guess that makes you a coke addict". I couldn't disagree with that so we left the restaurant with the waitress probably thinking I was a drug addict and feeling sorry for my children. However she did recommend a restaurant for us to have dinner that evening.

Since Dick couldn't eat very well and Incha didn't want to leave Jae Ha, the three of them stayed home and Gloria, Ron, and I went out to a small restaurant that someone had recommended and had a wonderful; would you believe seafood dinner? I can't believe we actually ate seafood, but we did. We hoped that it had been shipped in and not caught off the coast of Sanibel Island. Dick sent a package with Ron and after the meal, we each received a present of a Sanibel tee shirt. Then much to our surprise the waiter brought over a bread pudding (their specialty) with a candle and said "Happy Anniversary" from the Godfather. Dick had called and talked to the owner who agreed to let him come by the next day and pay for the meal. Either Dick sounded very honest or he was a trusting guy; maybe both. It may have had something to do with the fact that the owner happened to be the husband of our waitress at lunch and he felt sorry for Kerri for being a coke baby. At any rate it was a nice evening, at least for the four of us.

There is a lighthouse on the end of the island and Ron has an interest in lighthouses so Thursday morning everyone except Jae Ha piled in the car and we drove out to the lighthouse. Now as lighthouses go, that could be the ugliest one in the country. It was just a round metal cylinder center surrounded by metal rods to hold it up. I don't think a lighthouse keeper ever lived there. At least I hope not. We walked down to the beach and it was covered with dirty debris and smelled awful so we didn't stay long. We definitely did not pick up any shells. After stopping at a couple of shops and the local grocery where Dick loaded up on bakery goods and fudge, we headed home.

Gloria and I donned our swimsuits and I spent the afternoon laying on the float in the pool and Gloria just sat out in the sun and baked. Kerri joined me for a short time on another raft and we discussed baby names; a topic dear to my heart. For some reason she didn't like any of the names that I liked and definitely none of my old family names. After awhile she just said she would surprise me so I'll have to live with that.

Later Dick decided that he was feeling well enough to cook a special dish for dinner so he went back to the store and came home loaded down with bags of groceries. Now, mind you we still had 2 gallons of soup and rice and he proceeded to make an Italian shepherd's pie in a 9 by 13 casserole. None of us knew exactly what was in it, but it tasted delicious and was certainly filling. After dinner I put 4 big containers of soup in the freezer. A little present for our hosts.

After dinner we all sat out by the pool and talked and then watched TV until bedtime. Gloria was the first one to get ready for bed and a few minutes after she went into her bedtime we heard a yell so naturally we all went running in to see what was happening. She pointed to a huge long grub worm type creature in her bed. When she pulled the sheets back there it was in the middle of the bed. She wasn't afraid, just startled when she saw it. Since the doors are open with no screens, we had seen the bugs in the house, but that didn't mean we wanted to sleep with them. So she got a Kleenex and disposed of it and then made a thorough inspection of the rest of the bed. I did the same thing before we went to bed. Sure wouldn't want to wake up and find a worm crawling on me. So another eventful evening.

The next morning Kerri and Ron were the first to leave for the airport, so we got up at 6:30 to say goodbye to them. Then we had breakfast and started taking sheets off beds and washing them along with the towels. For some reason the dryer was on slow motion so it took forever to dry everything, but we managed to get everything in order by 10:00 when it was time for Dick and me to take Gloria, Jae Ha and Incha to the airport. Dick and I were staying at extra night so we could finish cleaning the house and have things in order when our hosts returned. After saying goodbye we headed toward home, but decided it was time to at least visit a few of the shops at the outlet mall as well as Stein Mart and TJ Maxx. We shopped all afternoon and I tried on clothes and shoes for hours and didn't buy one single thing. I was beginning to worry that something was the matter with me as that was the second shopping excursion when I didn't buy anything. My back started hurting so I told Dick we'd probably better head home as we still had some cleaning chores to do.

It was a strange feeling to be alone in the house after all the activity and we missed the rest of the family. On the other hand it was very quiet and peaceful so I spent some time in the pool while Dick vacuumed. A sacrifice on my part, but my back doesn't allow me to use the vacuum cleaner. Later I did mop the kitchen and bathrooms and clean our bathroom. We talked about going out to dinner but we had so many leftovers that we just decided to eat some of them. Besides we had eaten a big lunch at Smokey Bones barbeque and had a milkshake at the Dairy Queen. So we ate some of the shepherd's pie and I put the leftovers in the freezer. Hopefully our hosts liked our cuisine for the week as they had several meals in their freezer. We would never know one way or the other.

The next morning we woke up early, changed the sheets on our bed, straightened up the bedroom and headed toward home. We had planned to spend the night in Gainesville in order to break up the trip and besides I had an extra 15% off coupon at Stein Mart. Once again I watched a movie and Dick drove, but fortunately the weather was nice and there wee no tornado warnings. There was a slight mishap as Dick was trying to find an exit with a place for us to eat lunch. He saw several restaurant signs and exited only to discover that the town was several miles down the road. He turned into a street and made a U turn. As he pulled back onto the main street, he heard a siren and saw a police car with the lights on following us. He had no idea what he had done wrong, but a very young police woman walked up to his window and told him he had made an illegal U turn. She took his lisence back to her card to check out his record and came back shortly to say she would only give him a warning this time. My thought was that she must not have much crime in her area if she stopped someone for making a U turn on a side street with no traffic. On the other hand we needed some excitement to make our day complete.

We arrived in Gainesville about 2 and checked into a new Homewood Suites Hotel and then headed for the shops. Wow did I make up for the last 2 stops? I hit the jackpot with golf clothes at Stein Mart and TJ Maxx. Then I found a pair of golf shoes at an outlet store. Now I'm thinking that I'd better continue playing golf so I can wear all the new outfits. Hopefully my back will cooperate.

By the time we finished shopping it was almost 7:00 P.M. so we decided to have dinner at a little restaurant that I had seen advertised in a hotel booklet. It was actually quite good and much better than our meal the previous week at the Hilton. We were both tired when we arrived back at the hotel so I took a shower and prepared to lay out my clothes to wear the following day. When I reached in my suitcase to get my shoes I saw something slither into one of my shoes and immediately yelled for Dick to come and see what it was. He picked up the shoe and took it into the bathroom and found a little lizard which had traveled with us from Sanibel. All I could think about was what if I had put my foot in the shoe and felt the lizard or if it had been in some other article of clothing without me knowing about it. I might have had a heart attack on the spot or at the very least a panic attack. I do not like creepy crawly creatures and especially not in my clothes. I guess God just thought that we had to have some more excitement for the day. After all something unexpected had happened every other day of the trip. So I proceeded to unpack the rest of my suitcase to make sure there weren't any other surprises waiting for me and thankfully there were none. It took a little while for my heart rate to settle down, but I was soon in bed and asleep after a long successful day of shopping. I also felt better knowing that there was nothing seriously wrong with my shopping abilities.

The next morning we got up early and headed home. The only thing we encountered out of the ordinary that day was driving through the smoke filled air of southern Ga. where the forest fires were burning out of control. We even stopped at a couple of outlets stores so it was late afternoon when we arrived home; tired, but happy to be home. After all there's "No Place like Home" and that was a week that I'm sure our family and Ron's will never forget. We had "bonded".


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