Got to spend the Labor Day weekend with Karen and her family. We took in Discovery Cove and SeaWorld. Good times at both. Visited Hudson, FL. a few times to look in on Michael and Karri as they renovated their new home there. It is on a canal that leads to the Gulf and has a nice pier and boat lift. The lift was empty so Michael had to buy a 27' boat to go on it. Robert was in town late in the month so Jay, Robert, and the boys had some fun together. The boys are all involved in soccer at West point, GA, and Robert coaches four teams! The tripletts are into fall sports: Braden (baseball), Skyler (softball), Daylin (Cross Country and Orchestra). Keeps Karen and Cathy busy shuttling the kids to practices and games.
August was moving month, with Michael and Karri moving to Hudson with a home on a canal leading out to the gulf, and with Robert and Natalie moving to a home in LaGrange, Georgia.
July began with Joyce having her first procedure, designed to prepare her for a radiofrequency ablation (RFA) at some later point. An RFA is used to deaden the nerves sending pain signals to the brain. A few days later Jay and Joyce set out for another Independence Day Celebration. Again at the Bilmar on Treasure island Beach in St. Petersburg, along with Michelle, and also Michael and Karri who were celebrating their second anniversary. During the weekend, we were visited by Joseph and his girlfriend Mallory, and by Tyler and Conner. We brought beach gear and snacks . . . and games, of course. Everyone liked Bocce Ball (beach rules) and Mexican Train dominos. The fireworks on July 4th were also great. We returned home to watch the final two games of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens, and cheered when the Bolts won on July 7th for a second straight Stanley Cup. A few days later Tampa celebrated with a boat parade, something unique to the city.
June was not a good month. On the second day of the month Joyce learned that her best friend - who was like a sister to her, Carol Foster, had died in a May 30 auto accident; the news arriving late because Carol's husband, David, was in ICU from the accident and incommunicato. Carol and David had been Joyce and Fred's traveling companions all over Europe and to the Western US for 12 years beginning in 2000. David is Joyce's lawyer and he has done work for Jay also. The funeral service was for family only, but Joyce is "family" to the Fosters so she and Jay attended, and also the reception afterwards. Two weeks later, Joyce was one of only three speakers at the Celebration of Life, and she did an amazing job, her words making the church audience both laugh and cry. Later in the month, Jay drove up to Orlando and joined Robert's family for a day while they were staying at a Marriott resort.
May was just another slow month. It began with an nice event: the triples got baptised at St. Andrews United Methodist, where they attend. A few days later we got to hear Daylin play in the All-County Band. Then Robert came by for an afternoon and played Pickleball with our group. Then Jay visited Robert in Lanett to watch the boys play baseball while Joyce and her friend Lu visited Daytona Beach. Braden made the Bloomingdale Youth Sports Association All-Star Team, and Skyler drew attention and praises for her piching and fielding with her softball team. Skyler even got invited to practice with the Bloomingdale High School Softball Team; quite an honor. Jay and Joyce drove to Anna Maria Island and had a nice dinner at a favorite restaurant on the beach there. Jay had his first traffic accident (his fault-one other car involved-no injuries) and the Equinox began a slow seven weeks of recovery and repairs while Jay got to pay for rental cars. And the month ended with the celebration of Joyce's birthday. Whew.
The highlight of the month was traveling to Indianapolis to help Jay and Ellen's Mother, Elaine, celebrate her 100th Birthday. All went well!! Jay and Joyce also got away for a few hours to enjoy the Florida State Fair.
This was highlighted by a couple of nice events. This year the Florida Strawberry Festival at Plant City was held albeit with many COVID-19 precautions in place. Normally there is big name entertainment each night but that went away this year. Understandably, attendance was down. We felt sorry for all the food vendors cooking up goodies for people who just weren't there. We did have our traditional strawberry shortcake, however. We also had two trips. Both over the March 26-28 weekend. Jay, with Robert's family and Karen's family, spent three days at Universal Studies while Joyce and her good friend Lu spent that weekend at Daytona Beach, accompanied by their dogs, Cinny and Bella. (Joyce's back just could not take three days of running through Universal.)
February was also a relatively quiet month, though Joyce was saddened by the passing of two very close friends, one being her Sunday school teacher whom she had known for 30 years. In terms of the pandemic, it appeared that spring and summer might see COVID-19 pretty much under control, and therefore opening up potential places to vacation. As one might guess, everyone had that same thought and it was surprising to find many places already booked up for so far in advance. Jay took on a small project; assembling some of the Christmas letters he could find. Those letters go back 40 years, and he has about 30 years worth now posted on the BradenClan Webpage.
January was a quiet month. It was a little bit of “recovering from Christmas and putting away Christmas decorations“ and pretty much waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted to the extent where we could begin thinking about travels. Joyce continue making contacts and speaking with the her friends and neighbors who count upon her for medical expertise, and at one point she had 13 “active“ cases of persons needing serious medical attention and seeking her advice. Jay continued with golf and pickle ball, and enjoyed each of these activities, though his golf game could always be better. Speaking of golf, Jay stepped down as his men’s association’s secretary after serving in that capacity for six years. Time for someone else to get that enjoyment.
Nothing special about this December. Despite an abundance of care and caution, Jay tested positive for COVID-19 in December 3rd. By December 14th he tested negative and was fully okay. Of course, between the 3rd and the 14th there were most of the symptoms: sore muscles, a cough, excessive fatigue. But with the help of Joyce (AKA Nurse Ratched) he recovered nicely. This year Jay and Joyce celebrated Christmas Day with her side of the family. There were around 14 of us and we had a good time with food, fellowship, and Jay’s games.
This month Joyce and her long time friend visited Gatlinburg, one of Joyce's favorite cities. During this time Jay visited Robert and his family in Alabama. Both visits created good times and sweet memories.
This month Jay and Joyce traveled to St Augustine for a few days. While there we enjoyed eating at some nice restaurants, hopping on and off the trolley tour, visiting the lighthouse, and expereiencing the unique aspects of this very old Florida city.
This month we returned to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, where we stayed on property at one of their three bedroon villas. Joining us were Robert's family and Karens's family. to get around the property - from the villa to the lake to the activities center ... we rented two 6-passenger golf carts, and riding around in these added a new and fun aspect to our adventure.
Robert came in from Orlando with his family and we celebrated Karen's 50th Bithday at nearby Medard Park. The next day Jay joined Karen and her family at Holmes Beach in Bradenton. Braden, Daylin, and Skyler prepared to go back to (virtual) school. They were not happry with that, but Karen and Cathy felt that distancing precautions still needed to be practiced.August was go to UCF month for Conner Kernohan, and Joyce and Conner had made a lot of preparations for his freshman year there. They had worked hard to select a nice dormitory and to make sure Conner had all the supplies necessary for his stay there. Conner would be living in a four bedroom freshman suite with two other roommates and they would all be taking classes virtually.
Jay and Joyce got away for two nights at the Bilmar Resort on Treasure Island Beach in St. Petersburg. Good times. Jay visited with Robert and his family when they were in Lakeland. On the 18th of July Joyce exercised her Second Amendment rights and purchased a pistol. She also purchased all the ancillary items: bullets, hearing protection, protective glasses, holster, and ammo. She practiced at the range and did well. Joyce and Jay also took the required training for a concealed weapons permit and filed their applications with the state of Florida. Note: You might want to knock loudly before your come in to our house.
This must have been surgery month. Joyce had two separate hospital days; one for cataract surgery on her left eye and another for cataract surgery on her right eye. Both procedures turned out very well and now Joyce can read the fine print on all the advertising we get in our junk mail. Hunter Wooden also had surgery, to remove some pins in his leg that were part of a surgical solution to a broken leg he had years ago. The steel rod will remain but the pins had come loose and were causing him some discomfort. This procedure needed to be done because Hunter was considering entering the US Air Force. Jay and Joyce along with the Karen Alvarez family, spent the weekend in Orlando at the Westgate Lakes Resort. There they played miniature golf, swam in the pool, competed in board games at night, ate out at Longhorn Steakhouse, and played paddle ball on the grounds of ICONN Park. A nice time. Not a lot to report this month. COVID-19 precautions still dampened our activities and so Jay's racquetball had been out since March but this month one of his racquetball buddies set up a PickleBall court in his driveway, so Jay switched racquet sports. PickleBall is fun. Jay also resumed playing golf, with safety precautiions in effect. he learned that COVID-19 had somehow made his golf game ten strokes worse!
Karen continued to struggle at her hospice work due to the shortage of PPE and the rest of us continued with social distancing. Bummer. We had graduation celebrations for Hunter Wooden (from USF) and Conner Kernohan (from Bloomingdale High School and about to attenbd UCF).
This month will be remembered mostly for how the United States and the world attempted to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. In the US alone, the death toll went from 3,746 on April 1st to 55,225 on April 30th. Concurrently, unemployment numbers soared and the stock markets were in the tank. Cities scrambled to locate N95 masks, PPE for health care workers, and ventilators for critically ill patients. Jay and Joyce did "sneak out" to deliver Barbeque to the doctors and staff on the COVID-19 ward of Advent hospital, but mostly adhered to stay-at-home and self-isolation mandates and practiced social distancing when they did have to be in public. On the upside, Jay’s mom seemed to being okay in her nursing home and we got to speak with her fairly regularly using our iPhone FaceTime software. Her 99th birthday was on April 10th, and we met virtually to send our best wishes. We did have some sadness in the house: Mosby went to cat heaven. He was a great pet and will be missed very much. Puppy Cinny remained, however, to bolster our spirits.
Armed with surgical masks, germicide sprays, and Lysol wipes, Jay and Joyce flew to Hawaii for six great nights. Yes, the Coronavirus was out there, but no reports cases in Oahu. They had a great time and some pictures of their visit are here. They returned to a mainland overwhelmed with cases of COVID-19, schools closing, businesses closing, and to essentially self-isolation. Jay did play in the Polk County Senior Games before things got really serious (and even won his age group by kicking the crutches out from his opponents), but even gave up his twice-a-week golf, citing an overabundance of caution plus the fact that his family would kill him if he caught the virus and died.
February was a month of a number of things. jay and Joyce visited the Florida State Fair to include its horticultural exhibits and even Jay could tell thatr Joyce would have won Best of Show there should she have entered one of her Fairy Dish Gardens. Jay visited his Mom in Indianapolis who is now in assisted living. She is well, all things considered. Blessings to Ellen who sees her almost daily, arranges her doctor appointments and gets Mom to them, does her laundry, and interacts with the staff to stay informed and to be a presence in the home ... a good way to keep care to one's family member at the best possible level. Joyce also succumbed to getting some attention to her back, visiting a neurological spine surgeon, beginning therapy sessions, and getting scheduled at a surgical center for a spinal injection that had some promise of helping ease her pain. This was also the month that Jay sold his townhome that he owned and had been renting in the valrico area for eight years. His great tenant Carlos had decided to move and Jay decided not to be in the landlord business any longer. The sale was fast and smooth. And - meanwhile - Jay and Joyce continued preparations for their upcoming Hawaii trip while watching the Coronavirus in China beginning to spread worldwide ... wondering if all that travel would be safe.
In early January Jay returned to Orlando with Karen and her family to cash in on remaining passes from the December visit. This time they tried another Escape Room (and again successfully escaped) and also played video games, had lunch, and drove Karts at the NASCAR I-Drive attraction. In mid-January Jay and Joyce's life changed when they added a new member to the household; two-month-old Cinnabar Braden ("Cinny), a loveable five pound mix of Bichon Frise and Shih Tsu. Why would anyone want to sleep through the night when you can get up at 3 AM to walk the dog? Also Joyce continued her efforts as essentially a patient advocate for a number of friends and one relative: grandson Devin who broke a bone in his ankle and required surgery to insert a pin to hold the bones in place. Lastly, Jay and Joyce joined the boistrous crowds to watch the Gasparilla Pirate Parade in downtown Tampa (Aaargh!). A fun time and they collected almost more beads than they could carry.