And to be perfectly honest, I’m still adjusting to our new reality: We’re living in Florida. We’ve given up our home in Oregon. We’ve given up our life of full-time traveling. And it looks like the pandemic is going to be a part of our lives forever.
Sometimes I feel a bit lost. But when I’m longing for what used to be, I remind myself that a cornerstone of happiness is the willingness to embrace this moment, wherever I am, whatever is happening.
“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”~Mary Oliver
With that in mind, I’ve set myself to the task of feeling at home here. I remind myself of the path of gratitude that I learned from my dad, and the path of being fully engaged in life that I learned from my mom.
Consciously cultivating a positive attitude does much more for my happiness than random internet searches on actuarial tables. Which I actually did one day. It was a sobering experience, lol. But it’s good to acknowledge that time is passing by, and to be deliberate about how I want to spend this precious life.
When we took on the task of renovating my parents’ home last year, it was with the intention of selling it. We chose everything with the idea of making the house appeal to a wide range of buyers—which basically meant neutral. And then, last summer, we decided to not sell, and to make this our home. We’re committed to the neutral gray palette that we chose for the renovations (which also goes well with the stone wall in the living room). But I need color. I need texture. I need art.
So I bought a purple chair. And baskets, lots of baskets. And turquoise dishes. I’m moving away from the ‘staged to sell look’ to doing whatever I want. Because this is our home, and I want it to feel like home.
Along with cruising the aisles of Wayfair and Overstock for household items, we’ve been researching and scheduling big projects. In the last month, we’ve gotten a new HVAC system, a new garage door, 20 tons of gravel to refresh the driveway, and a new pole barn to replace the old structure that was in bad shape. Now we have a place to park our truck and trailer. But dang, that thing is enormous!! It’s rated for 140 mph winds, as is the garage door. We’re hoping we won’t be testing that out.
Still on the list: a new wood stove, fixing up the lanai, redoing the shop and studio, more landscaping, and the new windows that have been on order for nine months. Supply chain issues are real.
The pandemic has been almost non-existent in this part of Florida for months, and we got our boosters, so we’re feeling somewhat more comfortable venturing out for local outdoor events. But with the emergence of yet another variant (STOP IT, already!), we’re still wary in crowds, even outdoors. And we’re still avoiding indoor activities, other than socializing with vaccinated friends, which is thrilling!
Enjoying Local Events
There’s always something festive going on here on the Forgotten Coast. It’s pretty amazing to have so much offered in a county consisting of a few tiny towns with only 11,000 residents total.
The Seafood Festival is one of the big fall events. The last time we were in town for the festival was in 2012 (I’ve been writing this blog for a LONG time!). The oyster shucking and oyster eating contests were just as spirited as I remembered. The winner ate 165 oysters in 15 minutes. I love oysters, but that sounds terrible.
At the end of November, we went to the Lantern Fest at the Crooked River Lighthouse in Carrabelle, just 15 miles away. It’s a benefit for the Crooked River Lighthouse, with beautiful handmade lanterns, music, and dance performances. It was magical. Now that we know about it, we’ll make it a yearly tradition.
Enjoying The Natural Beauty
This is still a community that largely depends on fishing for sustenance. Which means that despite the art galleries, beautifully restored Victorian-era homes, and even a couple of craft breweries, it’s still rough around the edges. We like it, just as it is. It’s real.
We’re lucky to have the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve right here in Eastpoint. Their mission is to protect this special place, where hundreds of miles of rivers flow south through cypress swamps to converge with the bay in our backyard. This is essential habitat for oysters, shrimp, fish, and migrating birds, and it’s one of the most productive estuaries in the northern hemisphere. Most estuaries have been severely compromised (New York City, for example).
How fortunate we are to live on an estuary that for the most part, is still undeveloped and pristine. We embarked on a couple of educational river and bay cruises, courtesy of the reserve.
Happy Birthday, Magnolia!
Magnolia turned one year old at the end of October. We cannot imagine our lives without our sweet, funny, and loving furry companion. How lucky we are that she came running out of the woods last February to adopt us.
As always, dear friends, we’re grateful to have your company, both at home and in our travels. We hope you’re doing well.