In no particular order…
1. Florida. We moved here from Utah six years ago because my daughter, her husband, and the two WonderKids were living here. My son-in-law was in the military and stationed here. My daughter was dealing with two small children on her own while he was serving long deployments. It was a huge step to pack up everything we owned, put it on a truck, and head off across country, but it was really a no-brainer at the time.
2. Family. Top on my list of important things/people. My two kids, the two grandkids, my son-in-law, my sister and brother, my brother-in-law. My nieces and nephews, and now all of their kids. My mother, who turned 90 last summer, and my dad, even though he’s no longer with us. My cousins … Do I have cousins! Aunts. Uncles. It’s a long list, and right now I’m living a bazillion miles away from all of them.
3. Friends. I’m a lucky woman to have friends dating back almost as far as I do. I don’t have any friends from elementary school days, but thanks to social media, I’ve reconnected with friends from junior high and high school, from my days as a young married woman, and almost every job I’ve ever had, not to mention writer friends I’ve made along the way and the new friends I’ve made here in Florida.
4. Fry Sauce without which I cannot eat french fries. For those poor souls who have no idea what fry sauce is, it’s usually mayonnaise and ketchup, sometimes with a dab of barbecue sauce or something else to give it zing. Some places serve Thousand Island dressing instead of fry sauce, and that will do in a pinch. In Utah, fry sauce is a staple. Almost expected at your fast food restaurants. Here in Florida, nobody’s ever heard of it, but most places will give me a small bowl of mayo and ketchup so I can make my own.
5. Faith. An element that’s of ever-increasing importance in my life.Not in the way some might expect, as in “I can’t live without my faith,” or religion, but the kind of faith that exists without religion at all. I’ve been learning more about faith since moving to Florida that ever before in my life, but I’m still a firm believer that my faith is my business and yours is your business, and I never make any attempt to sway anyone to my way of thinking.
6. Freedom. I don’t think you can have a family member in the military without thinking about freedom …. a lot. I’m grateful for it. I thank our founding fathers for fighting for it. I thank my dad, my uncles, and my son-in-law for putting their lives on the line for it. I try not to take it for granted.
7. Fiction. Of course. I mean, it’s what I do!!! But more than that, books have been a constant, faithful companion to me as long as I can remember. I occasionally read non-fiction. I’m not a snob. But fiction is my first love.
8. Firewalkers. That’s the name of the group of my closest friends, who are also a critique group on occasion. I say on occasion because I don’t remember the last time all four of us were producing pages in a new manuscript simultaneously, and especially during the past few years of pregnancy, battles with cancer, depression, and moving. In the past few years nobody’s been at the computer long enough to even e-mail regularly or check in on Facebook, much less write. But we’ll get back there. I have faith.
9. Forgetfulness. According to my kids, I have the world’s worst memory. I think they may be exaggerating a bit…but probably not by much. I will admit to feeling a slight vindication after learning that foggy brain and forgetfulness are symptoms of diabetes. I’m learning to tell when my blood sugar is out of whack simply by the way my brain works. When I stare at something I use regularly and either can’t remember what it is or how to use it, I know it’s long past time to get out the blood testing equipment.
10. Forsythia. One of my favorite bits of flora in the world. It blooms in early spring, and it’s bright and cheery and full of hope and promise after a long, cold winter. When I was young and newly married, my then-husband planted three of these in the back yard where I could see them from the kitchen window. They don’t grow here in Florida–at least not where I’m living–and I miss them in the spring.
11. Frogs. I’ve never lived in a place where frogs also lived, and getting used to the noise they make, and to occasionally finding one in my garage or hanging out on the window screen is a new experience for me. At certain times of the year, after a rainstorm, the frogs are so loud they can keep you awake at night. I’m used to the sounds of crickets. Frogs are ever so much more enthusiastic.
12. Furry Family Members. Currently, we share a house with (l-r) Aramis and Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell is about 2 years old. Aramis isn’t a year old yet. I found him abandoned outside a church one day along with his sister. Someone else wanted the sister but didn’t want the boy cat, so I put Aramis in a box and brought him home. Tinkerbell was also abandoned with two siblings in a box in the woods. You might think they would show some signs of gratitude for the rescue, but they are cats so gratitude is kind of a lost concept around here. They rule the roost.
13. Fuel Prices. Ridiculous. Absolutely unacceptable. I’m sure I’m not alone in my thinking. What galls me the most is that prices are lowered whenever “they” want us to spend money–like right before the holidays–which proves to me that the higher prices are artificially inflated. And I’m utterly gobsmacked by the way we as a society become so used to the outrageous prices, we’re actually grateful when the prices drop. We are, apparently, a nation of puppies. We really should take a lesson from cats.