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05 January 2011 @ 02:05 pm
things still evolving even after five months  
Just after the last entry was posted two days after Christmas, I returned to Tedders and have been there now for over a week. Amazingly, the wind has not bothered me at all since I got back here! Just when I was saying it never stopped blowing, it has done exactly that. At least I know it's actually possible to have long, multi-day calm periods here. I wonder how often this happens. I only know this is the first time it's been calm for much more than just a day in the five months since I got here.

There are many other learning curves that are still steep after all these months.

For example, I'm still learning how things are going to work out with Ghost.

This reached a climax right at New Years.

Leading up to December 31st, he had been becoming more and more restless. Then, on that morning, while I was away in the car, he leapt the five feet from the boat to the floating ramp I built recently. There was no sign of him all around Tedders clear until dark, so I concluded he had ran into the forest surrounding the State Park next door.

I got very depressed, and concluded that he decided he did not want to live on my boat, and that he could not resist the beautiful forest, and would catch his own food like he was doing before I adopted him as a stray late in 2009.

Within less than an hour after I knew he was missing, everyone in the hamlet here was on the lookout for him, including the ranger at the State Park, the fishermen, and all the neighbors in the handful of houses that make up this little community.

Then I had some hope again New Years morning. -One of the guests at Lee's house saw Ghost in the back yard, so I knew he was still close to the ramp, not deep in the forest.

Then, just after sunset on New Years Day, Jack called to me from his little elevated house next to the water across the ramp from me in my boat. He said, "Mike, look who's back!". Sure enough, after being gone over 36 hours, Ghost was on the gangplank walking slowly toward the boat deck. He jumped into my arms and purred and I brought him into the shelter, and he stayed right next to me all night and all the next day.

Since then, he has been much, much calmer than before this happened. I now take him for walks WITHOUT his leash, and he stays with me. I even let him walk across the gangplank and floating dock to the grass at Tedders, but he stays where I can see him, and he comes back to the boat when I call him.

So I've managed to get through "the Holidays" OK, and am now into 2011 headed in the right direction.

I needed to get away from the boat and do some things on land for a change.

That's what was happening when I was away from the boat Friday morning (December 31st) when Ghost left the boat. Bob Costa, my friend who rows here almost every late afternoon and who lives closeby toward the center of Deland took me with him to Sanford Industrial Supply down this side of Orlando. As I think I've said before, Bob is the man who lived half his life on the Ohio River near Cincinnati (Higginsport) and the other half here, and who is now finishing construction on his paddlewheeeler riverboat in his large yard. I think it may even be ready to launch on the Saint John's maybe in 2012, because it is more finished on the inside than I thought. (I saw the inside for the first time Friday, and Bob ran the engine and activated the paddlewheel.) At Sanford Industrial Supply, I bought some turnbuckles, an ammeter, and a ratchet strap and Bob bought the lengths of structural aluminum he needs to finish the transmission enclosure on the paddlewheeler.

I also did some exploring on land on New Years Day, when I needed to walk off my sadness because I thought Ghost was gone. I walked the trail in the Lake George State Forest, which is across from Tedders, to Bluffton Landing on the Saint Johns, which will be a place I will use as a safe harbor eventually.

I have almost as many miles of hiking routes surrounding me here as I do waterways to explore by boat. In the State Park there are over four miles, in Lake George State Forest there are probably fifty miles of trails, and in Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge there are almost ten miles of trail. These trails then connect to many others, including the ones in the Ocala National Forest, which would take me almost to the Gulf of Mexico. In the other direction, I could get almost to the Atlantic Ocean on trails across public Conservation Lands adjacent to Lake George State Forest.

So it is actually possible that I will do more hiking in the coming years than waterway exploring. I say this because I live all day on the boat, so getting off to explore on foot might end up being more appealing than exploring via water.

For now though, I will be focusing on the connections to my life before everything changed in July, 2010. I don't mean the people I love, because I will always be thinking about them every day forever. Rather, I am talking about the property I still own.

I have applied for unemployment checks because it is the proper thing to do because of the significant slowdown at O'Neil. After all, someone would be laid off there anyway. It just happened to be me because I have this other life. As I am required to if I receive checks, I've just begun actually looking for work in my profession down here. If I really do get a job offer, which I think is very remote, mainly because of my age, of course I will need to accept it even though I am ready to retire. I need to have all options open. Anything could happen, and my life could turn again in some way I can't even imagine now. And the time I spend on the internet submitting resumes, etc. will teach me about the economy down here, which I need to understand anyway for my security. I'm such a dire pessimist about society and politics and so convinced the economy has become a fraudulent racket that I have not even looked at a newspaper since I got here. I know nothing about what Orlando of Tampa or NASA look like or what is there. I go downtown here in Deland and like that city but I've had no interest in the rest of Florida at all except for the rivers and the natural places near here. Over the last fifteen years I've so thoroughly lost all interest in everything else I used to care about that it may even be almost unhealthy.

So on many of the days in the next few months, I'll be out on these waterways in this boat not exploring nature but connecting in various ways to the world I somewhat abandoned in late summer 2010. The first connection is the one I just described -communicating with industries in Florida. And then I will need to use the extra money from unemployment compensation to plan and take trips to Ohio. One reason I need to is so I can bring my 1960 Rambler and my bikes and motorcycle down here. Also, I should bring that nice floating platform I finished in 2006 but abandoned and stored away in the days just after Mom died. It has been in Camden and completely forgotten ever since but would be perfect for Tedders. And I'll bring the wood from that boat shed/planter I built last spring at the lot I bought on the Ohio River in Cincinnati, when I still believed I'd start learning about life on the water there instead of here. The wood could be used to repair the docks here. They really need it. After these trips, I'll have my condo and my garage in Camden empty, except for a table and chairs, etc. at the condo. I will have the garage in Camden, my lot in Cincinnati, and my two acres on the Scioto River toward Portsmouth up for sale. This all makes me sad to talk about, because all this was my life until last summer. But things are going so well for me here now it really must be this way. Safety and security are more important. Life always changes and I need to not cling to things just for the memories.