Check for Ticks

We’ve all heard of Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but did you know there are fourteen tickborne diseases that can be transmitted to humans in the United States? That’s a fact that could be used as an excuse to hunker down in the safety of air conditioned retreats like malls, restaurants, movie theaters or the comfort of home. But signs like this one we encountered on a recent hike should not be considered a reason to avoid hiking or biking in wild areas:


Instead, let it be a reminder to take a few simple precautions so you can enjoy spending time in nature.


Wearing repellent is always a good start, but also wearing light colored clothing so you’ll be more likely to notice the poppyseed like spots on your clothing that indicate you’ve come in contact with these nasty critters. It’s also helpful if you can wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and hats to create a barrier between you and the ticks.


While we associate these disease carrying insects with hiking, camping and other activities in the woods, many more people come in contact with ticks in their yards. So don’t forget to regularly check pets and keep your yard free of piles of leaves that provide a moist habitat for ticks.


Recommendations from the Center for Disease Control:


Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

Of course, a shower followed by a thorough tick check is always the final step in avoiding tick bites.

After spending time outdoors, check for ticks.



Alzheimer’s Through the Eyes of a Teen

This past Tuesday, when Emily created her account on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s page, she included the following message which explained why she was walking. She also shared it on Facebook as a way to encourage others to sponsor Team B.Lou, join us in the walk or create their own teams.

When I was in high school, my Granny moved in with us. Her husband, Frank, had passed away, and what we thought was the stress of taking care of a sick spouse and grief, turned out to be the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

It has been almost 15 years since we learned of the disease that she battled, and this past spring marked 5 years since she left this world to begin a life in God’s kingdom. A life free of Alzheimer’s.

Having Granny move in with us was tough. I’m sure it was tough on my parents in ways I will never understand, but as a high schooler, it was tough. It was tough for me for incredibly selfish reasons. It was tough because now I had to share my bathroom. It was tough because I realized after a few weeks of her living with us that she was using my toothbrush 😁. It was tough because being a former high school principal, she would critique my outfits and let me know I was dressed inappropriate for school. It was tough having dinner interrupted with her leaving the table to go and talk to Dr. Phil.

It is still difficult for me to talk about my Granny. It’s tough now. It’s tough because most of my memories are not of the brilliant, loving, talented, strong, creative, and beautiful woman that I have heard stories about and I once knew. Even though I was a teenager when this disease became a part of our family, it is tough because I don’t remember life before it.

On 9/19 I will be participating in a walk to end Alzheimer’s with family and friends in Ocala, and we will be walking not only for Granny, but also my cousins’ Granddaddy. We will walk for those feeling lost and frustrated because they are now feeling the effects of this confusing disease. We will walk for those family members that are watching their loved ones become a person they no longer recognize.

As we walk, we ask for your help. If you’re in Ocala, walk with us. If you can’t join us, consider donating money to support the cause. Donate to Team B. Lou by following the link below. If you have no money to give, share your stories of those you know that are living their own ALZ story or share your love and prayers. Together we can make a difference. Click here to donate to Team B. Lou.

And then a second post on Facebook last Friday.

Happy Friday friends! Is it just me, or has this week flown by? Now that I have your attention with this picture, let me offer an explanation. No, I’m not drinking at 9am. No, I’m not promoting this scotch, and it’s not even particularly good scotch.

This post is more about the story that goes along with this bottle of alcohol. Enjoy another addition of Granny stories. — As I previously shared, my Granny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just about 15 years ago, and just over 5 years ago she passed away due to complications from battling this disease. Though this story is funny now, it was pretty terrifying when we were living it.

My Granny lived with us when I was in high school, and one day my dad received a phone call from the Ocala police informing him that they had my grandmother. She was picked up wandering along a busy road several miles from home with 2 bottles of scotch in her purse and confused about where she was. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, but the officers were concerned and my dad went and picked her up.

After that point my dad would offer her scotch here and there with the thought that maybe she would like a drink, but she would refuse saying “I don’t drink that stuff” or something along those lines.

We laugh about this story now as it seems so absurd this lady walking around with bottles of scotch, but at the time it was this realization that this disease had progressed, and that my parents couldn’t assume she would be safe hanging out at home alone all day. From there we transitioned to a Granny Nanny and eventually an assisted living facility to help care for her.

So how did I end up with this Scotch? Well, instead of a traditional bridal shower before our wedding, I made Mr. W have a joint shower/stock the bar party with me. My mom and dad gifted us this little treasure. When I see this bottle, I smile. I smile for the silly stories we have of my Granny post Alzheimer’s that we just have to laugh about now, but more importantly, I think about my Granny. Help support us on 9/19 as we walk to End Alzheimer’s. Walk with us in Ocala or donate to our campaign.

If you’re not in Ocala, check the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website to locate a walk in which you can participate. Together we can help the Alzheimer’s Association accomplish their mission:

To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

A Triathlon on Miami Time

The first time I attended church in Miami the service started about ten minutes late. The pastor walked around the sanctuary letting those of us who were visitors know that things would be started soon, but they operated on Miami time.


Well, last week we completed our own version of a triathlon, and we were certainly competing on Miami time. First, this was not a competition. No registration fee or course to follow. We simply chose a water event, biking event and an event on foot in which to participate making it a nearly perfect day.


The very hot morning started on Biscayne Bay where we rented a Hobie Getaway and sailed for two hours in the waters where John first introduced me to sailing. We raced from the causeway past Vizcaya entertained by the brightly colored parachute pulling parasailing tourists across the bay and the fire department helicopter practicing rescues in the waters near the Seaquarium.

We left the water ready for the bike leg, but instead of jumping in the saddle in dripping wet bathing suits, we changed clothes and drove down Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne and mounted the bikes at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.


We rode through the park along the bay toward the Cape Florida lighthouse photographing iguanas scurrying across the trail or posing on the rocks.


Instead of eating a meal designed for athletes, we stuffed ourselves with barbecue sandwiches, fries, slaw and tea…the diet of the laid back triathlete.


The third leg of the day took place in Coconut Grove after sunset. A relaxing stroll from our hotel to Cocowalk and vicinity eyeing lights, fountains, painted peacocks and walls entangled in banyan roots. Even though the pace was leisurely, we did cover a little more than two miles making it a worthwhile final triathlon leg.

I’m sure those who train for these events would be appalled, but looking for opportunities to spend time on the water, bike, and by foot to enjoy the outdoors is always a treat and challenge.


Ready for Erika?

With Tropical Storm Erika in the news, it seems appropriate to repost this hurricane preparation reminder. Modified from June 2, 2014.

I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s time to prepare for hurricane season. It’s been eleven years since we’ve felt the impact of a hurricane, and ten years since we’ve HAD to prepare, however, that doesn’t mean preparation isn’t a good idea.

Image from NOAA; Friday, 8/28, 8:00AM

Last year at this time, I encouraged you to prepare for hurricane season, but it’s time for a repeat:

Get cash.
Fill your car with gas.
Buy water.
Prepare a first-aid kit.
Get a phone charger for your car.
Prepare for darkness.
Check out your battery operated radio.
Stock up on paper products, cleaning products, and personal care products.
Organize important papers, some clothing, and other items in case you need to leave.
Plan for pets.
Waiting until the last minute to prepare for a storm is stressful and expensive. That’s why I recommend you start preparing early. This is the time to check and replace your flashlights and batteries, but you may also want to buy gas cans, lanterns, or ice chests if yours need to be replaced.

It’s also a good idea to start putting away cash in case a hurricane comes your way. Without electricity you won’t be able to use the ATM so cash is essential. By setting aside $50 in cash every time you get paid, you should have a good start on collecting cash needed, and if there’s no storm this year, you can use this money for Christmas shopping or a weekend getaway.

Check out my memo from last year, It’s Hurricane Season or the American Red Cross Hurricane Preparation for more tips.

I’m hoping Erika turns out to be a dud and for a quiet hurricane season, but as my mom always says, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”!

TBT Lesson #65

Tuesday was the 99th anniversary of the National Park Service. Since I wasn’t able to visit one of the parks on that day, I dragged out a box of photos looking for some pictures from previous trips to a park.

I found several photo envelopes filled with National Park memories, it I especially liked this one of John and me taken at Redwoods National Park.



TBT Lesson: Hugging a tree is fine, but it’s better to hug the one you love while standing next to a giant tree.

99 Ways to Celebrate the NPS

Yesterday the National Park Service celebrated the 99th birthday of the park system and posted a list of 99 ways to #FindYourPark. The list includes ways everyone can enjoy the parks. Suggestions are as diverse as writing poetry, rock climbing or taking a selfie in one of our National Parks. They also suggest you post pictures or videos on social media using the hashtag #FindYourPark.

Click here to find the complete list of all 99 ideas.

Here’s some examples of ways to celebrate:

Enjoy the spectacular views at Golden Gate Bridge National Recreation Area.


Spot wildlife at sunrise at Canaveral National Seashore.


Swim with the manatee at Crystal River National Wildlife Refugee.


Follow the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from the Missouri River


to the Pacific Coast.


Hug a tree at Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks. (Or just relax on the stump of one of the trees.)


Take a late night walk through the National Mall and Memorial Parks.


Take a selfie at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.


How will you #FindYourPark?

Thanks to Meghan, Jonathan, and John for allowing me to post their pictures.

Another Baseball Stadium

In February on our way to Gainesville for the Hurricane vs Gators baseball game, a friend asked John how many major league ballparks we’ve visited. John quickly responded that the only park he’d been to was in Denver where we’d watched the Marlins play the Rockies.

Gary asked, you’ve never been to a game in Atlanta? John said, oh yeah, we have gone to a Braves game too.


I listened to this exchange not believing what I was hearing. Finally, I asked, didn’t we go to a Yankee game in the old Yankee stadium? And what about the Mets game we watched at Citi Field? And I remember going to a game in Fenway Park where we watched in Red Sox play the Rangers.

John said, I guess we’ve been to five major league ballparks.


Well, after seeing the Marlin’s Stadium for years, we went to a Marlin’s game last week and added a sixth stadium to the list. We took advantage of a Marlins’ promotion giving free tickets to seniors, and since we’re both slightly older than 55, we qualified.

The stadium which is not particularly attractive from the outside is a comfortable and fun place to watch baseball. We appreciated the air-conditioned facility, but it’s great to watch a game played on grass instead of an artificial surface which is possible since the stadium has a retractable roof providing plenty of sun for the turf.


In addition to dozens of food and drink concessions, The Clevelander, of South Beach fame provides a club with pool and patio with direct views into the visitor’s bullpen as a unique way to enjoy baseball in Miami.

The Marlins hit two homers in the second inning on the night we watched them defeat the Phillies so we saw the rather Marlin jumping over the tacky sculpture with palm trees, flamingos and sun in center field.


The stadium is also home to a tribute to the Orange Bowl which occupied the site prior to the opening of the stadium in 2012 as well as a Bobblehead Museum. Even those who aren’t interested in baseball can find plenty to do in this stadium.

Renew Someone’s Faith in Humanity

Did you know that for less than $1.00 it’s possible to renew someone’s faith in humanity? I didn’t either, but last week a woman told me I did just that after giving her 80 cents.


We were sitting at a picnic table in Coconut Grove enjoying an A.C.’s Icee when a young woman starting emptying change on the table explaining that she was dying for a frozen lemonade but wasn’t sure she had $3.50 in cash. (Yes, this is another example of why you want to always carry cash.) After a couple minutes of searching for and then counting out change she realized her craving for a cool, delicious treat was dependent on the number of pennies she could dig up from the bottom of her purse.

At this point I opened the change purse I carry when I ride my bike to see if I had any change. A quarter, two dimes, two nickels…55 cents. Then John found a quarter in his pocket. When we asked if the change we found would be enough to make a purchase, her face lit up.

“Thank you. Thank you so much. You’ve renewed my faith in humanity,” she exclaimed. She went on to say that she was going to leave all of her extra change on the table in case someone else needed a little extra change to partake in a cup of icy goodness.


It just goes to prove that you never know when some small act of kindness will make a person’s day. A smile, a little change, holding a door, reaching an item from the top shelf or providing directions can turn around a stranger’s day.

Look for an opportunity to renew someone’s faith in humanity.




September: What’s Happening?

With September only a week away, it’s time to start making plans so you can enjoy some of the fun events taking place around the state next month.

Flavor: The Restaurant Month of the Palm Beaches

Event runs the entire month of September with 51 participating restaurants

What a great way to try new restaurants in the Palm Beaches while supporting the Palm Beach County Food Bank! Good food at a good price for a good cause for a whole month: Flavor

Music by the Sea September 2nd

St. Augustine Beach Pier

Free concert featuring the local band, Papercutt, for those who enjoy the music of the ’80s. Food from the South Beach Grill will be available for $10. If the 2nd doesn’t fit in your schedule, check the website for bands and restaurants featured each Wednesday at the weekly Music By the Sea.


Gulf Coast Jam: Country on the Beach September 4th-6th

Panama City Beach

Country music on the white sand beaches of Panama City, the Gulf Coast Music Jam is the Labor Day Weekend event for music lovers. Gulf Coast Music Jam

Second Annual Key Largo to Key West Cycle Challenge September 12th

Key Largo

Spanning more than 100 miles of the Florida Keys, this event is more than a race. It’s a challenge! Riders and their support crews navigate the Florida Keys Heritage Trail and Overseas Highway as solo, 2-person or 4-person relay teams. The course begins at Key Largo Bike & Tour Adventures Cycle Shop, located at 91946 Overseas Highway (MM 92). All riders are to be awarded medals and event t-shirts.

O-Town MacDown September 12th

Kissimmee; Osceola Heritage Park Exhibit Hall

A mac-n-cheese cooking competition featuring celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, kid’s fun zone, and best of all…all you can eat macaroni and cheese. Event supports Give Kids the World Village

Walk to End Alzheimer’s September 19th

Ocala; Tuscawilla Park (other locations in the state throughout the month)

ALZ Thank You 2
Team B.Lou – 2014

For the third year Team B. Lou will be participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Lace up your shoes or donate to a team. Unite in a movement to reclaim the future for millions. Join our team for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Together, we can advance research to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s, and provide programs and support to improve the lives of millions of affected Americans.

Epcot International Food and Wine Festival; September 25 – November 16th

Orlando; Epcot; Walt Disney World

This is the 20th year Epcot has presented the Food and Wine Festival, an opportunity for guests to experience a culinary adventure with samples of incredible dishes from all over the world. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

Blessing of the Stone Crab Fleet September 26th

Everglades City Rod and Gun Club Lodge

Everglades City, the Stone Crab Capital of the World, will host a festival with music, crafts, a frog jumping contest and the annual Coconut and Guava Cake Baking Contest as part of the Blessing of the Stone Crab Fleet. This free event takes place on the bank of the Barron River at the Rod and Gun Club Lodge.





TBT Lesson #64

This is without a doubt one of the most embarrassing pictures ever taken of me. Can you see the uncomfortable expression on my face? And what an awkward stance. The reason: there isn’t a cheerleading bone in my body.

So why am I dressed in a cheerleading uniform? I wish I could say it was a Halloween costume, but I was a cheerleader for the Lighthouse Point Buccaneers for one very long football season.

New to South Florida, I was convinced that cheerleading would open the door to a new group of friends, but I was wrong again. I’m not sure if the season was more miserable for me or my mom. ( I think they made her “volunteer ” to help with the squad in order for me to be able to participate.)


TBT Lesson #64: Be yourself. Don’t become a cheerleader or join a group to fit in or look for friends.