Ah, and so ends our wonderful few days of vacation! OK, so maybe it's not officially spring yet, but it feels like it. I'm glad Jack insisted we take them off work and have some fun, because all The Usual and No Play might make Jack the proverbial dull boy (well, not to me), but makes Robbyn most certainly an uninspired lump of monotony.
In planning the timing of a few days off, I'm glad we timed it after having our 2010 taxes done. This was one year we just weren't sure of where we stood at tax time, which had us a bit on edge until the preparer told us that we don't owe anything...and together we heaved a WHOOSH of relief.
Now, how to play?
Well, we did the quarterly tallying of our remaining debts (yeah, everyone's ultimate start to vacation, haha!)...actually, we haven't tallied them since early fall of last year. It was not nice finding out that we had more remaining than we thought due to doc bills of mine from late summer and early fall...ugh. But the numbers were crunched, a revised plan was made, and Jack-who-is-my-debt-barometer was encouraged, and believes we can be totally done with it by the end of the year. This is a year longer than our original payoff projection, and it seems we've been doing this FOR-EV-ER.
Maybe my next post will be about my emotional body armor to The Ship May Come In expectations, my own personal survival mindset that renders me riveted ONLY to the REAL and probable so that I don't get disappointed in overreaching goals and such. But it helps me zero in on the most important goals and not get disappointed if the secondary ones don't all get done at the same time...or from losing focus and not getting any of them done. It's very nice to see the progress we've made so far, I must say, even despite the setbacks.
So Goal One is still (STILL) to get out of debt, and no other goal, not even getting on some land, shall be equal to it, of necessity...because (and thankfully we both agree on this) without being free of bills Jack and I simply will never be able to be free to accomplish the other goals (and there are a lot)
SO...we got that in focus again, came up with the actual number and did all the updates to the bookwork. And then called it a week for anything else but fun.
About $200 had been set aside for vacation...yeah, compared to some vacations, that's a pretty spare amount. But we're sticking to our debt goal! So we nixed any prospect of hotel or dog boarding costs by making it a Day Trip scenario and getting out of the house and the postal code, but not out of a day's easy driving range. And, happily, there was no "vacation fatigue" wherein we felt like we needed to recover from vacation :) It's simply nice to come home to your own comfortable bed and bathroom.
In short, we were able to be together, and that was such fun...relaxing to our own schedule, actually getting to sleep nights and be awake days, and getting to play!
I'm so glad we chose weekdays to travel...the snowbirds are down here from the blizzard states and traffic was really thick comparatively. Mid-week was the best time for sight-seeing, window-shopping, and getting to enjoy local businesses without crowded parking or waits.
First day, we "did" Sarasota. We're not your usual tourists, and we've already taken in a lot of the local attractions a bit at a time of the past few years. Between driving and popping into places to window-shop, we hit the Indian buffet for lunch (a real treat, we love Indian), caught the $1.50 movie, did some stints at the County Extension office, bookstores, army surplus, tool shops, cruised through the RV center, stopped and lingered over coffee and snuggled and talked, and generally lazed. Wandered about wherever we wanted, then went to a different Indian restaurant, where Jack had the most delicious lamb korma I think we've tasted yet (it's made with a ground cashew sauce) and where I finally was served a curry hot enough for my liking...hot enough to bring tears to my eyes but still taste the food. Or as Jack likes to say "hot enough to melt the stomach lining and peel paint." He likes mild and I like it hot. The waitress raised an eyebrow when I described how hot I wanted mine and I assured her I really did mean it. Three of the staff came to stand at the table a minute after I'd been served, making sure I was "ok"... ha :) Anyway, it was great. (And no, no later stomach upset)
We got home mid-evening, and the next day did a few house chores and then headed out to Ft. Myers. Again, it was pretty cold for down here...which means I LOVE IT. I love being able to wear a jacket and the sun shining and it not being hot out, but not freezing. We had thought about going to the ECHO farm, but we'll make the time to revisit it soon, when we can spend time without other things on the agenda. And when it's not cold. We tooled around Ft. Myers a bit, and basically we decide ahead of time where we want to go...it's not our preference as far as scenic and atmosphere compared to Sarasota, but we went for a different reason. First, around noon we holed up for a while (warming up!) at a big splashy local Mexican restaurant that didn't disappoint and didn't break the bank. And then the highlight of the day (and for me, the week) was spending all afternoon at Fowler Firearms and Gun Range. I've been wanting to find out about some gun safety and handling classes as well and have been looking into getting a CCW handgun permit. Though I don't own any sort of weapon yet. And know that if I do, I'd better find a place to practice, practice, practice. So this trip was my initiation, as I've never handled or fired a handgun, and up till only recently was downright afraid of touching them in a way I'm not with rifles.
Thankfully, the staff didn't have a "little woman" mentality, and there was a good mix of men and women throughout the store all day coming to use the range. We went on Ladies' Day, where a woman and partner get pistol rental and range fee free. Ammo has to be bought there. There were over 50 handguns to choose from. Even though they were quite busy, the staff was really helpful, especially getting me started. I started with a .22 and learned how to load the magazine and get familiar with safe operation. I'm glad Jack was there with me. We took turns, and he made me feel a lot more confident. That pistol jammed several times. I was a pretty good shot with it and it was easy to handle.
The next ones we tried were all 9mms, and it may be a while before I fire anything in a higher caliber than that. That was about the best I could handle for now. We alternated between the S&W MP and the Glock 17, which were the two the employee recommended from their selection. The S&W was a better fit for my hand in some respects and a bit less recoil, but both were exilirating to learn on, and the sound of their being fired, even with the ear protection on, was ominous. We practiced for about three hours. It seems I tend to hit the target lower than where I site it, so I'll have to see what I'm doing wrong in between siting and the trigger pull. But Jack said I did really well. He did better than I did, and he enjoyed trying different ones.
What the trip there helped me with was to overcome the unfamiliar, (especially the initial intimidating things)...which is what guns are till I get the swing of some of the terminology, abbreviations, knowledge of types and parts and actual hands-on time. The hardest part for me was the initial learning how to safely load, hold, and unload. We fired semi-automatics this trip. Some had safeties, some did not. It took a while to train my non-firing hand to grip correctly (without leaving my thumb back). Where I surprised myself was in not being phased by the recoil, the brass from the fired rounds doinking my face and arms occasionally, and handling the noise inside the gun range well. It was just fun, and especially because Jack was there and I could watch as he took his turns, and learn. It was also nice seeing other women there. In the store area, there were monitors where you could watch the range lanes.
After 3 hours in the actual range, I was kind of at my saturation point, and it was a great first experience. We live in an area that is part-rural, part-city, and has everything from quiet families with children to criminals who dump dead bodies in the woods nearby or make rental houses into marijuana grow-houses till the authorities conduct raids. In our idyllic location we still are hit with roaming gangs of thieves who target homes at any hour of the day, using "joggers" with pagers or cellphones as the scouts who jog the streets or wander the swales at the back of properties, and break in forcefully. It's not uncommon for Amber alerts to happen several times a year.
THAT is why I'm even considering arming. It's my right.. I've just never had to use it before. We don't actually have anything in the way of desirable loot to take, unless you count a pre-digital box TV and older model PC and a jar of pennies :) But if this becomes somebody's gang turf, or if drugs are involved I guess that doesn't matter. But I digress...we took the rambling route back along Tamiami Trail/HWY 41, which is slow but meanders the length of the SW Florida coast from top to bottom, so when you get on it you know you'll never get lost. We thought about stopping after dark in an Irish pub midway in our journey, but not finding it easily, we just ambled back to our own neck of the woods, stopped for a milkshake, and headed home where Jack indulged in a non-girlie blow-em-up movie and I warmed up in a hot shower and I drowsed under the bedcovers with Pamel Jekel novel about the Suwannee...first time I've discovered her writings. And of course getting to have the same bedtime schedule as Jack...well, it's simply wonderful!
Friday. A day In Town. We did our weekly grocery shopping, again ate Mexican, this time at the local mom & pop place that's a favorite watering hole, got all "libraried up" with books from the library, and I cooked for the upcoming week. Finished it up with a good homecooked meal here at the house just in time for sundown, when our shabbat starts, and snuggled in for the night, which was again chilly.
No, it wasn't a trip to Paris, ocean cruise, cross-country road trip, historic Williamsburg trip, etc. And there were a lot of things we nixed, such as making purchases, which eliminated some favorites...antique shops (woo!), art supply stores, architectural salvage warehouses, old book stores, historic district shops, and the State Fair this year. But I never felt disappointed in any of those things, because I know we kept to our budget and totally relaxed, and had time to talk and reconnect. I was with my best friend. We weren't going backwards into debt. And there may come a day when we can go antiquing or camp and rent canoes and so on to our hearts' content, or maybe even dink around at a theme park, but we didn't miss out on anything...and we already have what we need. If we ever do have the money, a possibility would be going to some sort of workshop that interests us, like learning traditional craft or living skills, or even an out of town writing workshop, or such. But I don't feel like I'm missing anything in the meantime.
Amazingly, even though we ate out a lot, we didn't really junk it up much. The whole week, the only blips were a chocolate milkshake and on another day a cake donut with coffee, and if you count the entrees then the rice and the tortillas. One of the nicest things for me was being able to go a whole week without having to stay up all night any night. It made a huge difference in how I felt the next day. My energy is SO much better with that rest schedule. Makes me want to hasten the getting out of debt so that we have more wiggle room with job flexibility.
Just two or three days of playing gave me needed perspective at what I'd like to tackle in the short term towards longer-term goals. It cleared my head. And it refreshed Jack physically a lot, too...he got to get full sleep and no stress. Which is a good thing, because his boss called last night and requested he work 16 hours starting this afternoon. Ugh.
Anyway, we'll be doing this again!
What're your own favorite things to do locally?