Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hiking Again and... Catastrophe!

I had asked Greg if we could start hiking again this weekend and we had agreed to go this morning. Then our favorite breakfast restaurant sent me a coupon for 15% off this weekend so we decided to go out to breakfast first and then to go walk.  We thought we'd go to the restaurant at 9 a.m.

Greg woke me up at 8:50 a.m. and I was dead to the world, lol.  He was chumping at the bit to go eat. Me?  I'm never hungry when I first get up so I should have really planned to get up earlier.

The restaurant was packed and I feared (and Greg warned me!) that we would be relegated to the back room, the one I don't like because there aren't any windows. But we lucked out and got a large booth by a window, yay!

We both ordered our usual orders (I got the "healthy" turkey wrap and a fruit cup) and coffee and had fun chatting.  I redeemed our 15% off coupon and we paid the $22 OOP with Discover for 5% back in Rewards.

I asked for a coffee to go and they brought me a brand new large to go cup of coffee, yay!  I kept it for this afternoon.  We tipped 20%, as usual.  Our waitress was super nice. However, it took us longer than we had planned as service was pretty slow.

So by the time we got to the General Van Fleet Trail, it was already close to 11 a.m.  We agreed that next time we'll need to go eat breakfast at 8 a.m. so we're not walking at mid-day when the sun is right above us and there's not as much shade as we wanted!

It was nice and shady when we started but 45 minutes later, it was mostly sunny and the temperature rose by quite a bit!
When we started walking it was pretty nice, actually, not too hot and there was a nice breeze. However we knew that, before long, we would be complaining about the heat, and sure enough, we did :)

It's been raining a lot so once again the ditches were full of water and the mosquitoes were out.
As usual, the trail was laid back.  There were a few cyclists but today most of them didn't even say "hi", which, frankly, I prefer. It's annoying to stop whatever you're saying or doing to greet people non-stop.  Ignore me, I don't care!  I enjoy NOT talking to people :)  Usually Greg is Mister "I'm saying hi to everybody!" but today even he wasn't greeting anyone. I think it just was too hot! I did do a little wave, like bikers do, and some of the cyclists returned it but most of them were just concentrating on their biking.

There were baby gators!

Not many flowers, mostly those.

And their seed pods

I spotted a tiny tortoise!

So cute!

It hid as I was talking to it! Awww....

This huge grasshopper was well camouflaged!

The spiders are out again!

Muscadine grapes?  Or berries, I wasn't sure...

This dung beetle pushed that turd all the way into the grass and then dug a hole under it. I guess he was planning on bringing the "food" underground and then feasting on it?  We didn't stay through the end, it was too hot!

We found a large hawk feather that we brought home for the cats!

We stopped to visit with the baby gators again before we left. We saw four of them.

Once again I couldn't use my RunMeter app to measure our walk since we don't have cell phone service on the trail anymore (grr) so I ran the stopwatch on my phone. We estimated that we walked for about 3.5 miles. The timing isn't very accurate since we stopped to gawk at the baby gators and for me to take pictures.

I got a sudden urge to go to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive since I was frustrated that we didn't get to see any birds (save for vultures) but Greg wanted to come home to mow the backyard and suggested that we go there next weekend instead.  Woohoo!  He's never been there.

We stopped by McDonald's on the way home. I bought a large Diet Coke for $1 and used an app coupon to get a free chocolate shake for Youngest Son.

Then we stopped by RaceTrac and Greg used his monthly app coupon to get himself a free medium fountain drink.

Back home, the kids were up. My daughter was finishing the shoes for her Etsy shop order.  She asked if I had any tissue paper but I couldn't find my stash. I think I might have thrown it away when I was decluttering?  I did find two sheets of it in my Christmas wrapping paper stash.  She'll be going to the UPS store this afternoon with her BFF to ship them to the buyer.

As soon as we got home, Greg said he was taking a quick breather and then he was going to go mow.  So I grabbed the electric trimmer and edged the berm, the area behind the hedge and around the shed. It was so hot, sweat was dripping down in my eyes and burning them.  I ran out of the string for the trimmer so I'll need to order some from Ace Hardware.

When I was done, Greg started mowing and I went to take a shower.  Today I decided to use some of the free Coconut Verbena Bath & Body Works body lotion that I had brought back from a hotel. Explorer came to sniff me for a while because he couldn't figure out what I had put on!

Then he and Tabby Kitten helped me pick my outfit. Such helpful kittens!

My Kindle doesn't take very good pictures :(
It's now close to 3 p.m. and I'll probably just have a fruit salad for "lunch" since my breakfast was so filling.

I earned the Microsoft Rewards for the day and am earning Swagbucks by playing some videos. My first goal is 81 SB, however, and I got started very late so I doubt I'll make it. I might need to try taking surveys.

I defrosted ground beef overnight so tonight I'll make burgers and corn on the cob. I just hope the corn I bought at Aldi over a week ago is still OK. I had forgotten to cook it last week. I need to go back to planning a menu around what I have in the fridge!

While we were waiting for our food at the restaurant this morning, I had unlocked new CVS and Publix digital coupons on my apps.  I also unlocked new SavingStar offers while Greg was at RaceTrac getting his drink.

At home, I printed a few coupons via Swagbucks, Redplum and Smartsource.

Today is "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" Marathon Day on ION TV so I have that on until it's time to watch the latest episode of "Game of Thrones" episode tonight.

USAA asked me to recertify the "Good Student" discount that we are receiving on our car insurance for my daughter so I did. It's only $38 every 6 months but better than nothing.  Our premium is a little bit over $1,400 for 6 months but we receive close to $2,000 in discounts due to our payment history, how long we've been with USAA and because we have more than one USAA product, apparently.  I also found out that if my daughter was at college at least 100 miles away, without a car, we'd get an additional discount, although I don't know how much.  I'm not sure if they use the campus address or her apartment address, but her apartment is 92 miles away from our house. Arrgh!

I placed an order on for a new electric trimmer spool.  I went through Swagbucks (1% back in Swagbucks) and signed in to our MyLowe's account so I received 10% off for the military discount and free shipping to our house, woohoo!  I charged the $7.62 OOP to our Amazon Visa for 1% back in Rewards.

Woohoo!  Thanks to a Slickdeals post, I was able to order a free "I Love Birds" decal for my car!

I'm still bummed about my daughter moving out (I'll be in Gainesville a week from now, delivering what she couldn't pack in the family car on Saturday!) but I reminded myself of the "good things" that will come out of her moving away:

1) We will use less electricity:

  • She has dark shades on her windows that stay down so she turns on the light whenever she's upstairs, which is most of the time. Even with LED bulbs, that's still energy we won't be using when she's gone.
  • I will be able to set the thermostat on the  kitchen side of the house back up to 75F instead of 73F.  That should make a big difference on our bill.
  • She won't be doing her laundry here anymore (she uses the dryer a couple of times a week).
2) I should be able to lower my food budget by $25 a week, down to $75, or so I'll try :) Also, it'll be one fewer person to feed when we order food in or eat out as a family. 

3)  There will be one fewer person using the internet at home! I'm not sure how this will help but it should free up some broadband :)

4) We will use less water since one fewer person will shower and do the laundry here and also it means one fewer person using dishes that I need to wash.

5) We will spend less on gas and tolls since the family car will be back here starting on Labor Day weekend.  I will drive that car primarily until Youngest Son obtains his driver's license (at the earliest in January), which will cost much less in gas (large SUV vs. small compact car!).  Also since she won't be driving to her dad's with our car, we won't incur tolls.

Of course, I will send her care packages, buy her food and clothes and stuff when I go visit or when she comes home, and will go pick her up from and/or bring her back to school when she wants to visit us.  But overall, it'll be a savings for us.  So maybe I can focus on this and celebrate her moving out?  LOL.

Speaking of my daughter, it was 5:15 p.m. when I remembered that she was in Clermont and that I have the Free Bagel A Day reward from Panera's this month!  So I sent her a text to ask if she wanted a bagel and if not, to let me know when she could be there so I could place an order for myself and have her pick it up, lol.  She replied that she didn't want it and asked me to order it right away so I placed a Rapid Order for a chocolate chip bagel for Youngest Son and she'll get it. Woo!

The soles of my feet hurt after our hike!  So I'm going to start on my stretching exercises 3 times a day again because I do not want a repeat of the plantar fasciitis days of yore!

Princess doesn't care, her paws don't hurt at all!
My daughter came home with the bagel but she was unable to ship her package and she was annoyed because she had checked online to see if the UPS store was open and it said yes, until 5:30 p.m. but it actually wasn't.  So she and her BFF are driving back to Clermont tomorrow to ship it. This time the BFF is driving. I asked my daughter to pick up the free bagel again but she said she probably won't be able to because her friend doesn't like to make several stops. Considering all the times my daughter drove her around before she had her own driver's license and vehicle, I'm kind of annoyed that she wouldn't drive another 5 minutes to allow my daughter to pick up something for me, quite honestly.

This is the bagel of doom. Why?  Because when it was time to cook dinner, I decided to have a ham wrap instead of a burger. Huh?  Let me explain: I had defrosted 2 packages of ground beef, one larger than the other.  Then my daughter came back and said that she and her BFF had eaten a very late lunch at Golden Corral so she wouldn't eat dinner.  So now I had all this ground beef defrosted AND I only needed 4 burgers instead of 5, because I usually cook an extra one for Greg's lunch on Mondays. only we still have 3 pieces of Calypso Chicken left in the fridge so I decided to only cook two burgers, make a wrap for myself, give Greg some Calypso Chicken for tomorrow's lunch, and then keep the largest package of ground beef for tomorrow's dinner (I'll probably make meatloaf).

But... after I put the wrap on my plate, I didn't feel like having corn on the cob and that bagel was right there so I decided to have the bagel.  It was stale so I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and then put some raspberry spread on it.  Yum.

BUT: I took one bite and something felt off in my mouth. Why?  Because I broke half a tooth on that damn bagel.  Criminy.  It's one of my upper canines and of course it's the half that's facing out, which means that I look like a total hillbilly when I smile now.

Most of you will probably think "Oh wow, poor Nathalie, get thee to the dentist!".  BUT: I have a very long history with dentists, unfortunately because my dental hygiene was horrible when I was in France. My mom never made it a priority and never stressed it, probably because she had some pretty bad habits of her own, learned (well, passed down) from her own parents who both had full dentures by the time they were 40.

When I was a teen, it all caught up to me and I had horrible toothaches and abscesses.  I was on vacation at my dad's and stepmom's at the time and my dad already hated my mom so that didn't help. It was pretty traumatic to have to be rushed to the dentist with my dad yelling at ME for my mom's lack of care the whole time (not that HE ever was involved with anything anyway either). After that, he made sure I had dentist appointments, though. However, several of my teeth were in such bad shape that I guess the dentist decided to just pull them.  I was 14 to 16 and had a couple of my molars pulled, without any solution (crown?) proposed. Just pulled. And then I had a lot of cavities that had extensive work done on them.

Fast forward to being a student at Stetson University when I was 18. One of my front teeth, one day, broke in half.  Cue, again, emergency dentistry.  The dentist rebuilt my tooth and did a good job but after my year there, I moved back to France and then, when I moved back to Florida, I didn't leave in DeLand so I never went to see him again.

When I became a mom, my teeth started bothering me again. At the same, I had lousy dental insurance via Disney. It was insurance, but not many dentists in the area accepted it.  I found this one dentist who was Indian and had an office in a crappy part of town who didn't even have a hygienist.  He started working on my teeth, but I guess that by then, the situation was pretty bad?  I don't remember the details, just that he pulled a molar or two and then ordered a bridge for me for one of my lower sides, in the back. It took forever to come in and when it came in, it didn't really fit well in my mouth and was painful. It'd come off, I was always afraid to choke on it. So I ended up not wearing it and I didn't go back to that dentist. Or any other dentist. For something like 10 years.

Then Greg and I got together. By then, I really needed dental work and now more dentists accepted that insurance. I found an old-fashioned dentist whom I really liked, with a great hygienist. But boy, did I get scolded and shamed.  I accepted it because I knew he was right, but it didn't make my visits very pleasant.  I went to see him a lot, got a lot of work done and paid a lot of money for it, but after a while he stopped accepting my insurance.  Crap.

In the meantime, I had found a dentist in town for my kids. Due to my own parents' negligence, I've always been strict with my own kids' dental work. I take them to the dentist every 6 months, ever since they were tiny toddlers.  At first we were going to a pediatric dentist in Orlando, but that was so far away, I found a family practice in Clermont that was great, and where they still go. Myself, I started seeing that dentist too. He's originally from Mexico and is familiar with French dental practices so he was able to give me advice that made sense based on what I had done all those years ago in France.  However, at the time, he had 2 older ladies as hygienists who were unprofessional, in my opinion. I had been diagnosed with periodontal disease and so they were really on my case to brush, floss, etc. And I did it. However, not only do I have bad teeth due to poor dental hygiene when I was growing up, but also genetically.  For instance, my teeth (and my kids have the same problem) have always been yellow, no matter how many times they clean them and I brush and brush, and they never believed me when I told them that I didn't smoke or drink coffee or soda (back then, I didn't!).  They also didn't believe me when I told them that I indeed was flossing twice a day.  One day, I overheard them talk about me, saying "She's lying, there's NO WAY she doesn't smoke and she flosses!". And that was the end of that. I decided to change dentists.

Now, I absolutely hate and fear going to the dentist but all those years, despite my fear, I did go. And I had teeth pulled, root canals done, many shots in my jaws (I'm really afraid of needles) and I always bore it because I didn't want tooth pain like I experienced a few times when cavities were very bad.

So I found another dentist in town.  It started well enough. He planned on putting in a couple of crowns including on one of my better teeth. I was surprised, because there were more pressing issues to address and that tooth was OK compared to others, but I figured he knew what he was doing..  One day, I think he was planning on giving me a root canal to prepare for a crown, and he gave me injections to numb me.  People, he gave me injections for FOUR hours before I told him to stop.  Nothing he did was numbing me and he stuck me so many times, my jaw hurt for weeks afterwards!  He had already ordered the crown, but after that, I never returned. He wasn't pleasant, caused me a lot of pain, and then his office proceeded to stalk me for a good 2 years, calling me non-stop telling me they had a $300 check for me from my insurance company. I knew that was bullshit so I never answered the phone when they called (they wanted me to come in to put in the crown so they could get the insurance payment!) and eventually blocked them.  That was several years ago and I haven't seen a dentist since.

Even when I lost the one crown that last dentist had put in when I was visiting my dad during my stepmom's last days, back in 2013.

I'm brushing my teeth, probably not flossing enough. Now this is all coming back to haunt me.  I probably don't qualify for crowns anymore, implants are probably the only thing that will work... or dentures. Hey, I beat my grandparents by at least 10 years.  

Ugh. The worse part of the story is that I don't have a dentist.  I need someone who is not going to scold me, accuse me, etc. Otherwise I'll never be back. It's stressful enough that I have to deal with this again and that the cost is going to be astronomical. It totally makes sense that I should start going now while we still have dental insurance. Did you know that Medicare doesn't include dental insurance?  Or vision for that matter?  I guess I do need teeth and glasses.  I wish my eye doctor was also a dentist!

So... since I last was a patient at my kids' dental practice, the old ladies who were the hygienists left.  The "new" (they've been there several years now!) and younger hygienists are super nice.  I think I might stop by the practice this coming week, ask to speak to one of them, explain my whole situation (I'll probably cry that's how stressed I get about going to the dentist), and see if I can become a patient there again.  Ugh.  It's going to be embarrassing and expensive, two things that I really don't like.

The good news is that I'm not in pain (I think the tooth is one of those that had had a root canal but I don't even know) and that Greg assures me that he loves me even MORE now that I look like a hillbilly when I smile :)

So I need to gather some courage, put on my big girl pants, and set foot in that practice. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Maybe my daughter will come with me to keep me calm.  Update: I talked to her and explained the whole thing and she was so sweet and said that absolutely she'd come with me. Phew.  I have got to do this this week.

Right now it's time for Game of Thrones!


  1. Oh, Nathalie, what a time you've had with your teeth. I hope that this experience will be okay and you will feel comfortable going back to him.

    Also, enjoyed the pictures from your walk, especially the one of the dung beetle.

    1. Thank you. I'm very stressed about it. I just broke down in front of Greg about it. Ugh.

      I knew you'd like the dung beetle picture! I was just telling Greg during our walk about your picture of the bear poop and the discussion that had ensued with several of us admitting that we liked seeing pictures of animal scat when people hiked, LOL. It was very interesting to watch it push it all the way to the grass. It was a very determined dung beetle!

    2. Does Greg know your blog friends by name? My husband is starting to learn them because I talk about my blog friends a lot. That helps because now I don't have to say something like, "You know, Nathalie, the one who lives in Florida and grew up in France?..."

    3. LOL, he's starting to know some of them, but I do what you do, which is "my friend from xxx part of the country, you know the one who "this and that". Even when he does know their real names, I still add extra details for the background just to make sure he does know who I'm talking about, and sometimes he goes "yeah, yeah, yeah, I know...", ha. Does your husband read your blog? Greg doesn't. Or so he says. But I'm quite sure he doesn't.

  2. The leaves n the picture you took look like muscadines. I have a ton of them in the back yard.Unfortunately the grow on a fence we call the squirrel highway, so I will never get any ripe ones.

    1. Ohh, that's good to know! I suspected that they were but wasn't sure. Sorry about yours. Those pesky squirrels! I know them all too well. They love nibbling on my tomato seedlings and other things. Thankfully, they've left the pineapples alone.

  3. I'm with you on the dentist- I never minded until I got older and had a dentist who IMO was rough- actually, it was a she! Last fall I got up my nerve and went to a dentist here in town with a super nice assistant. I have dental and vision insurance both as a supplement to Medicare- a perk from my late husband's company. I have my Monday schedule already- I actually wanted to stay home all day but I need to mow and my gas can is empty like the mower. So I'll be leaving soon- maybe wait until 10 and I can stop by the library and get a book I have on hold. How exciting!

    1. That's great that you have the dental and vision coverage through your husband's company. Years ago Disney gave free medical coverage for life to their retirees and I did qualify for it after x number of service (I think 10?) but shortly after it, they discontinued it. Actually, I think the current retirees still got it but it was no longer a benefit to new hires. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if that's something I could get once I get my tiny pension from them or not but I would guess no. They've been asking me if I wanted to take a lump sum instead of drawing the pension when I'm off age, but I'm holding out for the pension. It's almost nothing (like less than $500 a month!) but I suspect that it might come in handy at that time and right now we don't need the money and I don't trust my investing abilities to get a decent return for it.

  4. Oh, poor you! I'm so sorry to read that you, too, are having dental issues! I hope you'll be able to get treatment for your tooth without too much trouble. I'll be holding your hand, virtually, through it all! At least you are not in pain from the broken tooth.

    1. Yeah you were definitely on my mind when it happened and I was trying to calm myself down, thinking about your own ordeal and how gracefully you had borne it. I will definitely picture you holding my hand, my dear, thank you so much! And yes, I'm very thankful that I'm not in pain for now. I suspect the filling material (the tooth itself was full of it) is going to wash away though and at some point there will be pain. I had a little bit of twinge of it this morning when I got up but maybe I imagined it? I'm trying not to eat on that side, which isn't easy since I'm missing more teeth on the other side. Arrgh. Somehow, missing all these teeth hasn't prevented me from putting on a lot of weight. American foods are too soft (save for Panera bagels!) for my own good.

  5. I started to get teary reading your dental story. Go talk to the new hygienist. And don't worry about Crying. They are younger and new and they're going to want to make you feel safe and cared for. I agree with you, as medical providers get older they tend to become more cynical and opinionated. In my own internists practice I have become disappointed with the changes I see. I no longer feel like I've been listened to and I avoid going for help sometimes. My G.I. doctor he is wonderful, though I am still trying to learn the right way to deal with his office. My own dentist semi retired closed his practice and joined another group. Fees have doubled he has no control as he did before Even in my profession as I get older I have to watch my own thoughts and opinions about first impressions or what I see and try to get more of the back story.

    1. I'm sorry you had such a hard time with your medical professional as well. I know it's a frustrating job they must have, but they really need to get on board with "bedside" manners because I know that in my situation it's what's keeping me from seeking the care that I need and not just for teeth. I have insurance and the means to pay but I don't go because most of them, IMO, are such a**holes. I'm really hoping it'll go well at the dentist. I know that I'll cry again when I tell her my story and I'm hoping that, after that, I can just concentrate on what needs to be done. I've never cried at the dentist's before, the regular procedures (fillings, drilling, root canals, extractions...) don't phase me anymore. I don't even dread the needles anymore. But the judging and recriminating, etc, that sends my blood pressure through the roof. And if I'm honest, thinking about such things as bone graft, that does scare me.

      I'm glad your GI is great. Sometimes the problem lies with the office staff. That receptionist that I called yesterday was nice but it was stressful enough having to explain to her over and over again what I needed and she not understanding. I can't imagine having to do it all again in person in front of everyone else in the waiting room (so much for privacy, eh?).

      Thanks for your sympathy, Sandie, I appreciate it.

  6. Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear about your tooth and your negative experience with dentists! I hope that you are able to get this particular problem resolved with as little stress as possible.

    It's nice to see you back on the trail -- I always enjoy your nature reports!

    1. Thanks, Laura. Once again, I'm thankful not to have to go to a job and worry about my mouth's appearance and what people might be thinking. I need to go back to smiling "The French Way", i.e. without showing my teeth :)

      I can't wait for the "fall" so hiking is really pleasurable again, but it was indeed very nice to be out and about, even for such a short time. We really want to start visiting new state parks too! When are you going to PA?

  7. Oh Nathalie, I'm so sorry your tooth broke off...that's one of my nightmares. I have issues with shrinking bones and gums in my mouth, so my teeth are no longer supported as well as they should be. I'm always afraid I might bite into something and a front tooth might break off - exactly what happened to you!

    I hope you find a kind and understanding dentist quickly and can get this taken care of. {{{Hugs}}}

    (My childhood dental background seems to mirror yours - my parents had full dentures, too, by the time they were in their 30's or 40's)

    1. I can't tell you how comforting it's been for me to read all the comments from other people with similar issues and fears. I felt like a freak show before! I hope your teeth don't break. Do you go to the dentist regularly here?

      You might have caught up with my posts since you wrote your reply, but my visit went much better than I anticipated. I'm going back tomorrow for a deep cleaning and the dentist is planning on putting it 2 crowns tomorrow as well (he makes them in house on the spot). It's going to be a long appointment (4 hours). Then I'll have to go back to get an implant on the same side (but next year, I think, because of the insurance, hopefully Greg's employer will still offer the same plan!).


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