Playing Catch-up

I gave myself a few days of R&R. Today I’m trying to get some stuff done around here.

Laundry is in the washer.
Old night stand has been cleared out so Mark (who is coming tomorrow) can move in the new one.
Dishes have been washed.
Plants have been watered.

Tomorrow my plan is to have Mark do some small jobs for me:

Place night stand which was delivered this a.m.
Put shelf in cabinet in storage room
Fix bulb In lamp base
Mount new bulletin board
Break down boxes
Clean air purifier
and if there’s time, work on my brakes.

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Kelly’s on her way home

We had a fun visit but it’s time for her to leave.

Plan was to spend the morning at the pool before she would be picked up for her flight out but the weather was iffy so we had lunch and she left.

At least I hope she’ll be back in December.

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Kelly’s Visit

Kelly got here on Thursday (a week ago today). We’ve been enjoying our time together. Lots of pool time, shopping, eating out, cart rides. She’s an easy house guest.

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Changes since Kelly’s last visit (in November)

On November 13th, 2018, Kelly headed back to her home in California after a lovely two-week visit here in Kings Point. Kelly is coming back Thursday of this week (June 27th) and staying 12 days. I’m really looking forward to mother-daughter time with her.

The last time Kelly came, I was recently widowed. I’d come down in July and started improving the condo. I had my new bar stools, my new Samsung range and microwave. I had just gotten my new golf cart. My storage cabinets had been built in the room between the garage and kitchen. The bedroom carpet and bedspread had been updated.

But in the past seven months, I’ve made lots of additional condo changes. This time she’ll see my new dishwasher, a new roof over my back patio. New rugs on the patio. I’ve added a pretty palm leaf ceiling fan in my bedroom and hopefully handyman Mark can get a matching one up in her bedroom before she arrives. I also bought a new TV for my master bedroom and less visible is a new high quality mattress.

I have a new freezer in the garage which will be really handy if there’s ever a hurricane and I need to be without power for a few days. The suggestion is to freeze big blocks of ice to use in coolers so I’ll be saving plastic bottles to fill.

Yesterday my new master bedroom furniture (except for the new night stand) were put in place and the old stuff removed.

I’ve added some new plants to my patio and great room.

In the master bathroom I’ve had the towel bars changed and a lovely new light fixture added.

The biggest addition since her last visit is SOPHIE, my tiny dog. I didn’t have Sophie until December 4th. She’s being trained but she still has some accidents. I hope they love each other. Sophie’s playful and fun but there’s no rest when she’s around. She loves to lick. I am trying to break her but she has that little licky tongue working non-stop.

I now work at the Emergency Squad every eight days for half a day. I will leave Kel on her own on July 5th while I volunteer until noon. She can go to the pool, or do whatever she wants.

Another big change to my life is adding new friends. The one I’m closest to is Pat. She’s become a regular in my life. When Evie is here, she and I do a lot together too and Connie is a new friend. Kelly will like them.

I have become part of the “single scene” and go to singles dances. That won’t affect Kelly because obviously I won’t go to any while she’s visiting. My time with her is too precious.

I always want my daughter’s approval especially on things I do to the condo, since this place will eventually be hers. The next time she comes will be at Christmas. She and SIL Dave are going to come for a visit. He’s never been here. I hope he likes it and can see himself fitting in.

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Answer me!!

I’m really unrealistic. I realize I expect Sophie to answer me. I’ll say something like, “Sophie, do you love me?” and I expect her to answer. Maybe someday she’ll surprise me.

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When it rains . . .

A rain storm in Florida is much much different than the rains I experienced in Michigan. Water doesn’t just come down, it pours out of the sky!

I only remember one storm in Michigan that came close to the rains we experience here.

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Why I Like Living in a Gated Community

There’s been a discussion because of a change in rules for clubs in Sun City Center. Some folks have referred to Kings Point as unfriendly because it’s a gated community.

Some have claimed that our HOA fees are too high. Rather than argue the point, I’d like to point out some facts: I pay $480 monthly as a HOA fee in my mid-level 2-br 2-bath 1,500 sq ft condo in Nantucket V. But I feel it’s a bargain. That fee covers my cable TV and wifi, my water, part of my insurance, my lawn care, my condo maintenance (including roof replacement, pest control, painting, paving repair), other expenses toward maintaining our buildings and private roads, our private bus system, and the salaries of our management employees. And because my community is gated, I believe but I haven’t confirmed, that I get a discount on the home-owners’ portion of my insurance.

Also, because the streets in Kings Point are “private,” being a gated community allows me the privilege of driving my golf cart on our streets (provided I have headlights and turn signals) any time I want. I don’t like to drive my car at night but I’m a very careful driver and my vision is very, very good. I am really glad my gated community allows me to use my golf cart to go to after-dark activities.

For that reason, folks who don’t own a car, often live inside our gates. We can go to the club houses, to the pools, the fitness center, dances in clubhouses, card games and bingo, even after dark.

I like the non-gated part of Sun City Center too. Lots of my friends live in SCC. I have thought about living there, but as a recent widow, the gated community gives me greater peace of mind. Everything is taken care of for me. And, as a bonus, I can use my cart after dark which will serve me as I age.

If I ever reach the point when I can’t drive, KP has a great transportation system. Note:
Three of my neighbors on my court are blind. KP allows them to stay mobile.

It’s not for everyone, but for those of us who enjoy the previously mentioned perks, Kings Point gives us a beautiful place to live.

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Purchases

Today I ordered a 7.1 cu. ft Frost-Free Chest Freezer by Black + Decker. My refrigerator hasn’t been working so the KPW insurance repair person brought me a loaner to use. It’s in the garage and I’m glad I have it. I realize there’d be room for a small chest-type freezer especially when the loaner has been removed.

I plan to freeze blocks of ice in case of a hurricane. I can also continue my “hoarding.” I can buy more than two Lean Cuisines at a time. I can stock up on Marie Callendar pot pies when I can get them for $2.00. It should be delivered next Tuesday. That’s the day I work at the Squad but I’ll leave a note on my front door telling the delivery person to put it in my garage. Mark (my handyman) can help me get it in place.

Mark is making a platform to go under the freezer. He’s also making an additional shelf to go in my storage cabinet.

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A new use for my Amazon Alexa

I just discovered a new use for my Amazon Alexa. I live alone and have wondered what would happen if I fell and couldn’t get up. Yes, they sell devices which will summon help for you but you have to have them with you all the time and it would be my luck I wouldn’t have it on. They generally charge about $49 monthly. Here’s where my Amazon Alexa comes in. I just went about 25 feet from one of my Alexa devices and asked Alexa to call a number for me. (I had her dial my house phone). She put the call through easily. And I if I feel it’s necessary, I can buy another couple Echo Dots for about $30 each. I can locate them around the condo and even in the garage. Unlike the commercial help services, there’s no monthly fee. If I ever need to call 911 for help, I’m sure I can yell loud enough for one of my units to hear me and follow my command.

Obviously this was “my solution” and I never suggested that it was better than subscribing to a monitored security system but for me it’s cheaper and the likelihood that it would “be there” if needed is greater for me. (I’m surprised at the number of folks who were critical of my plan and said things like “What if you were unconscious?”)

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Lazy

I’ve been lazy today. It’s really HOT (95+) so even the pool didn’t sound like a good idea.

My handyguy had to cancel our appointment this morning after I’d gotten up early. Since then, I’ve done NOTHING!

I watched a couple Lifetime movies but I haven’t even had the energy to clean out the dryer full of clean clothes.

Tomorrow (Saturday) my cleaning guy comes early. Sunday I’ve committed to breakfast with my single group. Monday I work at the Emergency Squad so I have to be up at 7 a.m. Tuesday Mark (my handyman) is coming early and Thursday I have a morning eye doctor appointment.

That means that, with the exception of next Wednesday, I have to get up every morning for the next week. Next Friday I can take it easy again.

Guess I’m entitled to take today off.

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I’m Changing

I’m realizing that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed. Obviously everyone does, but my changes include revisions of my likes, taste, and style.

Examples:

I have always worn higher heels than others but now I find I only go with flats or very low wedge heels. I’m just not steady on higher heels and after several broken and dislocated toes, I have to stay low heeled.

I used to wear a lot of crocheted stuff, but I haven’t gone that direction for a couple years. I have several drawers full of lovely crocheted tops. I will be going through those items and deciding which to keep.

For more than 20 years, I wore large hats and longer skirts. Now I skip hats and prefer short skirts. (I do wear my Tilley hat when on the golf cart.)

My preference was traditional music. Now I don’t listen to music at all.

When John was alive we would follow the prime time TV channels. I’d watch ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. The hit shows were my favorites. Now I prefer movies on Lifetime. I also watch cooking shows, but most of all I like the Game Show Network.

I ignore the news. John was so addicted to it and got a local newspaper daily.

For years favorite pastime when here in Florida was the pool. I haven’t been there for months. I’d like to spend more time in the water but seems there’s always something in my way when it comes to going to the pool. I went quite a bit when I first got down here in July, but then we ran into a rainy and then a cool stretch. I was sick in December and January. Next weather just didn’t cooperate. Easter with lots of spring break kids came along and then we had the invade of the love bugs. Now things are settling down and I think I’ll be using the pools during the heat of summer.

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Making a change

I’ve been keeping my spending down but my plan is to replace my bedroom furniture. The current furnishings belonged to my mom and her husband. They are really old (about 1988)! Everything is out of date! Nothing matches my style. I’d love to make my bedroom a soothing oasis.

I went shopping on-line and found some lovely solid walnut furniture

Style of Proposed Bedroom Furniture

I plan to buy a six drawer chest, a six drawer dresser with a mirror, a five-drawer lingerie chest, and two night stands.

Eventually I would move the file cabinet I’m currently using as a bedside table to the guest room where the dresser is now. The second pretty oval mirror that matches the guest bath would go over it. My printer would also go in that room.

Since I’ll need to combine the clothes which currently fill two rooms to one, I’ll definitely need to have the lingerie chest which is out of stock.

I could get started and order the in-stock furniture but I don’t want a mess when Kelly comes next month.

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Dances and Driving

I’ve been enjoying singles dances. I’m impressed by the folks I’ve met at these events. The ladies are friendly; the guys polite.

I definitely find it’s lots more fun than going to couples’ events.

There are three single dances each month. Two are in Sun City Center, and one in KP. I would prefer to go by golf cart, but since it’s dark when the dance is over, I can’t do that in SCC. The longest day in June would have an 8:30 sunset and I generally leave the dance about 9:00.

I’ve met a nice lady, Pat, who doesn’t drive. I picked her up for the last dance. I don’t mind going after her but in Kings Point, I will want to go by golf cart so I hope she can get another ride.

My Euchre card games at the Moose Lodge in Ruskin have been held on Mondays and Thursdays starting at 1pm, but with the snowbirds having left, they’ve dropped Thursdays. A Sun City Center couple has offered to hold the Thursday play days at their home. I will be able to go by golf cart. Tomorrow will be the first time.

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Describes me perfectly

Yesterday the PR person for the Emergency Squad posted a job description for an assistant that would fit me perfectly.

“I am in need of a volunteer who is comfortable with different computer software programs or learning them, and communicating by email, text or phone on a reliable and consistent basis.

‘Tasks may include assisting with producing the Siren, organizing for events, taking photos or writing press releases. Good proof-reading skills are also important.”

The problem is that I don’t want more work and there’s no assurance that this job would be on a schedule that would fit mine. I’ll ignore it.

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Wet Weather

Yesterday it rained. And rained. And rained. My back and side yards were like a lake.

When I got here in July it rained every afternoon in July and August. Is this a signal of things to come?

At least I took out flood insurance.

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My mistakes

John and I have worked on this condo since we bought it in 2008. Some of our projects exceeded our expectations but others were duds.

I love our slider windows at the end of the great room, the kitchen is ok (although I wish we’d gone with a different granite countertop.) The storage cabinets in the room as you go toward the garage are awesome. Our shower is great! The crown molding perfect! The extension added to our lanai and patio are what I could only dream of. But some projects have failed miserably! I hate our floor tile and it’s throughout our condo. Our couch isn’t as attractive as I’d hoped and both chairs are uncomfortable.

A week or so ago, I replaced a perfectly good plasma TV because it was really heavy and I feared an accident with a 32 inch flat screen, 75-pound, television falling over. (It had already happened to me once several years ago with an old tv.) So I bought a reasonably priced ultra high definition 50-inch Samsung. After the box was opened, I realized it was too big for my chest of drawers. It wouldn’t fit on the surface. I looked around on-line and found a bracket to mount on the top of my chest.

Today my handy guy put the bracket together and mounted a lovely wood-look ceiling fan in my bedroom. These items will never go on my “mistakes” list. I’m truly satisfied with them.

Next renovation will be the switch-out of the master bath vanity lights. I think the new light, which will be installed tomorrow, will be a great improvement!

Future improvements include pavers in the driveway and sidewalk, bedroom furniture, new vanity in master bath, garage cleanout, garage floor re-surface, and some power washing. I’d like all that done this summer.

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Trading Places

Yes, I lost John, my husband, almost a year ago, but I still feel I’m the luckiest lady around! I wouldn’t change places with anyone. I got to enjoy John for nearly 33 years!!!! I was/am blessed.

True, things for me have changed with John’s passing but my life is still darned good! I don’t get to do as many social activities, but I have found things to keep myself occupied and I certainly can’t complain.

My tiny dog is a blessing. She’s so cuddly and loveable. She enjoys my lap and shows me affection constantly

Life is still awesome!

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Hoarding???

I buy in excess. Right now I have enough toilet tissue to last me til next year. I have multiples of my favorite lotion hand soap (Jergens). Sophie has a huge supply of dog food (dry and canned). I just bought lots of white washcloths (two bundles of 16 each) because I use them all the time. I have a large package of multiple dental floss plastic purse packs. My storage area contains lots of boxes of kleenex.

Almost always I have an extra big can of coffee, extra napkins, and a full tank of gas.

Yesterday I went on Amazon and found Tide in a different kind of container. I bought six 48 oz. Tide refills. Previously I bought a huge (150 ounce) container which costs about $20. The price of the refills is approximately the same but I am helping by not contributing more plastic waste. Instead of a bottle, the 48 oz. containers are plastic “bags.” I just had to pour the new bag into my old bottle and I’m set. (And I still have refills left to keep me in detergent for quite a while.)

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My Most Recent Posts to Facebook…

April 10, 2019…

My tiny dog is really doing beautifully with her “training.” As long as I keep a very clean puppy pad for her to use, she heads right to it. If it’s soiled, she avoids it. In other words, she has me trained changing her pad.

April 12, 2019…

Here in Kings Point in Sun City Center, Florida, it is currently 89 degrees at 3:25. Beautiful breeze. Sunny with a few clouds. A tiny bit humid but not as bad as mid-summer. I would invite you all down to fill the spaces the snow birds have left, but honestly, it’s kinda nice with a smaller population. I wouldn’t want it this way year-round, but it is quieter and easier to pull out on SR-674 even with road construction. Snow birds, there’s always a more satisfactory tempo when you’re all here. Many of our close friend are snowbirds. Snowbirds are fun, lively, and great neighbors. They are important in what we know as Kings Point. But in the meanwhile we’ll enjoy this slow-down in our community’s pace with shorter lines, less traffic, more empty seats.

Later April 12, 2018…

I may have made a huge mistake with Sophie. Thursday I enjoyed a lovely dinner at Carrabba’s, Chicken Marsala. It was sooooo good but more than I could eat so I brought one huge breast back home with me and tonight I warmed it up and enjoyed it almost as much as Thursday. Sadly I couldn’t eat all of my leftovers so I cut up the leftover chicken breast in small pieces and gave it to Sophie. Have I now refined her pallet to the point that her all chicken dog food will be yucky for her? I may have spoiled her past the point of no return. She’s always enjoyed Nature’s Recipe’s Real 100% Chicken dog food which is so good it smells like people food but I’m sure Carrabba’s is better. What do I do now?

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Sophie, My Protector..

My Sophie has discovered the wild life outside the slider windows at the end of my great room. Squirrels are her favorites, but she also likes geckos and the white birds that walk past. She stands patiently waiting for one to appear, then there’s a blur as the squirrel runs the length of the patio and Sophie keeps up inside, barking at the critter. I doubt the squirrel can hear her through the heavy glass but Sophie’s proud that she’s saved us again from the attack of the fur creature.

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Being Single

I am learning to navigate the “single world” in Kings Point/Sun City Center(aka KP and SCC). I am finding I fit into the singles groups better than couples parties. Most singles events are 80% women but that’s fine. They’re generally nice folks. I’m realizing I’m not interested in most of the stuff that’s offered for singles.

I still love to dance. I don’t care if I dance with guys (although that’s nice) but line dances with 90% women are fine.

I’m not that interested in “game nights” nor potlucks.

I wouldn’t mind an old fashion cocktail party where you wander around with a drink in your hand and strike up a conversation with others at the party so you get acquainted. But maybe those are too old-school. (We do have one on Christmas Eve but I’d like a non-holiday one. Maybe I can host it once Sophie settles down.)

I did discover that SCC has two singles dances and KP one a month. I’d love to go to them. This month I can work two into my already pretty full schedule: one in SCC on the 27th and the other in KP on the 29th of April.

Life is good! I was lonely so I did something about it. You can’t expect to “fit in” unless you try. It’s fun to have so many activities you can’t crowd them all in.

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What Would John Do?

If John were still alive there are things he’d really approve of and others he’d probably question.

He’d approve of Sophie. She’d have him wrapped around her paw. He’d have claimed her immediately and she wouldn’t be “mine.”

He’d love the storage area and knowing that I’ll be here in the summer, he would probably approve of the roof over the patio. The mattress would be a yes. The golf cart was too pricey so he’d find that I’d over-spent on it.

He’d wish I was more into exercise classes but he’d definitely approve of my friends: Evie, the Conklins and Irene Goetz. And he’d be glad that I’m volunteering for the Squad.

He’d be disappointed that I’m not closer to the friends we made over our many years here, but I think he’d understand that I’m just in a different social group now.

He’d be glad that I’m not selling this place, and he’d approve of keeping our car and not up-grading.

I think about now he’d think that it’s time to put pavers on the driveway and sidewalk. I haven’t changed the furnishings here, and he’d approve. He’d wonder why I don’t go to the Country Couples dances on Thursday nights, but if he was in my shoes he’d understand.

So I think that all and all, I’m doing things he’d approve of. He will always influence how I do things.

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I’ve been feeling lonely

After analyzing my situation, I’ve decided it’s MY FAULT!

I need to change my activities. I can’t depend on the clubs and friends I enjoyed when John was with me. Those are situations for “couples.” I need to find other avenues where I can meet folks and fit in.

Euchre playing is a good step in the right direction. Those folks aren’t coupled up. Among that group, maybe I’ll find friends who are male or maybe female. We’ll all just be “friends.” The singles club where I’ve been involved is good. At least I don’t feel alone. I really like Irene, Mary B. and others but I’d also like mixed company and that group has only one male.

I have decided to get involved with the “Singles Mingle” group in Kings Point and the Singles Club in Sun City Center. No, I’m not looking for a man, but I am looking for a place where I’ll fit in. A singles club is probably best and hopefully as a result I’ll be less lonely.

Friday there’s a Singles Mingle dance. I’m going with Debbie, who is involved with the Michigan Club. I have hopes that this may be the kind of group where I can find friends.

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Not Much to Report

Things are moving along. I can’t complain.

Still concerned about reporting taxes. I called our CPA and she said, “Don’t worry.” She doesn’t realize how little I can provide her this year. Everything is disorganized.

I’m adjusting to my volunteer commitment at the Emergency Squad every eight days. It starts a little early. (I’m there at 7 a.m.) but I’m out at noon.

Sophie’s potty training is showing hope. She does ok when I leave her. She still misses her puppy pad over night with her little logs, but it’s not bad and at least she’s using the pad for her piddle. I’m hoping I can eventually put my two area rugs back down in the great room, and I can unknot the drapes that are floor length. I just don’t want her to ruin something.

I played euchre three times in a week (two times at the Moose and once at KP), but took a break last night. I think I’ll go tomorrow.

Friday Evie and I will go to the race track in Tampa. Should be a fun day.

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Anticipating a Busy Week

Today the single group is having a catered dinner and movie at the Kings Point North Clubhouse. Tomorrow my cleaning guy is coming about noon. Tomorrow night, if I’m in the mood, I can go to Bingo. Sunday is our regular breakfast at Fiore’s. Monday I have an appointment to have the pressure checked in my eyes and there’s a sportsman’s club meeting. Wednesday is my Squad day and in the afternoon, the final street party will be held featuring Elvis. Friday Evie is driving us to Tampa Downs for horse racing (and a lovely buffet) with the Sportsman’s Club. When we get back to Kings Point, from 4-6 pm, the community garage sale will be held and Saturday a.m. the sale’s leftovers will be available. Of course, if I feel up to it, Monday and Thursday I can go to the Ruskin Moose for euchre or go to the North Clubhouse on Tuesday to play. (Looking at my schedule, I’ll probably go Tuesday and maybe Thursday.)

I still need to finish my tax information for my CPA and write up a financial summary of the Michigan Club Pizza Party.

I’ve been leaving Sophie more than I should. Her housebreaking is coming long slowly. She uses her puppy pads for her piddles but I do find her poop where it shouldn’t be. She plays hard all day, but likes to be held in the evenings.

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Re-Discovering Euchre

After more than 30 years away from the game, I tried the Kings Point Euchre Club last night. There were about 80-90 sharp folks who were friendly, non-judgmental and fun. I’m sure I’ll go back.

The $1 fee was returned to us as prizes and I won one of them.

I ended up splitting the boobie prize for the evening’s lowest total (41) so I won 50 cents. I had lousy cards but that happens.

The one thing I liked was that there were more guys than gals. True, all seemed to be married, but at least I interacted with men!! I’m not looking for a guy, but it was nice to exchange jokes with them, and talk about non-girly topics.

If I like it enough, I can even go to the Moose Club in Ruskin on Monday and/or Thursday afternoons. It costs $2.50. That might work out better because than the Tuesday KP club ends kinda late (after 9 pm). The Moose starts at 1:00 (but it was recommended to arrive about 12:30 and I’d guess I’d be done before 4:00.)

I may have found my niche or at least a place where I fit in solo.

I love dancing, but that takes being part of a couple. Going to Busch Gardens is fun but a long drive. Dinner alone is awkward. Last night’s card game was closeby. (I drove my golf cart). It’s cheap, and mentally challenging.

I really need to brush off the mental cobwebs. With advanced players, it takes moving to a thinking level which I haven’t used for years and years. Hopefully I’m not too old to get it back. We’ll see.

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Trying to be more energetic

I am lazy and lethargic. I don’t feel ill, but I don’t have much incentive to go out.

Part of the reason is Sophie. She loves to be in my lap. I love it when she curls up with me and sleeps but it’s easy to have the hours pass.

I am having second thoughts about the Emergency Squad and it’s bothering me. I feel more lonely there than I do at home. It’s basically been suggested that I don’t talk about my problems/life. Ok, I’ll try it for another couple of weeks, but unless things change, I think I’ll resign.

The folks at the squad are nice, but it’s apparent that someone has complained that I am “sharing” too much about my “sad” situation and they’d prefer that the “customers” not hear about our problems. I can understand their reasoning, but I need more support. I don’t feel that sad, but I do feel that lonely.

I guess I felt that at least some folks who are in the same situation would appreciate knowing that others who are in same boat would like to be friends. That’s what I need… friends. Where do I find them?

I’ll see how my association with the Squad works out, but I need something else.

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We’re bonding

After spending more than I should have to buy my tiny dog, admittedly I had second thoughts. Why did I get her? Why had I tied myself down?

My house isn’t nearly as attractive. My white floor-length drapes are looped up so Sophie can’t play with them, my pretty rugs (white long pile and hand-woven wool) have been rolled up and stored away so she won’t potty on them, and I keep several doors closed or blocked so her accidents are limited to the tile in the great room and kitchen.

But gradually she seems to be catching on. Most mornings her doggy droppings are on her puppy pads. She still has accidents but she’s beginning to understand what is expected. Eventually I hope I can put the rugs back and let the drapes go back to the floor.

We’re establishing a routine. When she gets up at about 8:00 she wants to play. I feed her and then she romps and runs around and around until she’s worn out. She then comes to me and begs to be lifted onto my lap where she curls up and sleeps for at least an hour. I don’t mind being tied down while she’s resting. We do the same thing late in the afternoon after dinner. She snoozes on my lap until it’s time for bed. Yup, I’m raising a lazy lap dog but that’s what I want.

What about my “Why did I get her?” question. No longer can I imagine my life without her. I’m so glad she’s mine. She showers me with love and affection. We’re a good pair and she’s excellent company.

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Never Alone

Sophie loves to be with me. She follows me everywhere I go.

That includes when I go to the bathroom. When I’m on the toilet, she likes to stick her little head between my legs next to the toilet. She tries to poke her head through the leg of my panties so she can look me in the eye. She’s sweet but I value my privacy.

Every day, after she’s worn herself out playing, she begs to be placed on my lap while I’m relaxing on the couch. She’ll snooze there for hours. She’s like an anchor. It’s hard to accomplish anything with her holding me down.

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Finally close to normal

I’m finally feeling pretty good. I run down fast and I wake up congested, but I think the residual is caused by allergies.

I skipped the Michigan Club’s SnoBall last night. The music always encourages the couples to dance but I didn’t want to just sit and watch so I decided it wasn’t the place for me. I’m glad I stayed home. Sophie slept in my lap most of the evening and I felt her warmth and love.

Evie and I have been doing a lot together. She’s a flexible “date.” We’re going to a breakfast this morning with the singles group.

I’d like to go to Busch Gardens this week (to see the Herman’s Hermits guy) but it’s supposed to be cool all week and I don’t think that sitting on cement seats is the place for me yet. There will be other acts I can go to.

I have a ticket for a wine and cheese party on February 9th. Evie and some of her friends will make up our table. February 10th will be the Country Hoedown dance. I’m joining the single ladies’ table. It should be a good time even without a date.

The Michigan Club Pizza Party is the 15th of February (I’m chairman). On March 1st, Evie and I will go to the Sportsman’s Club’s day at the horse races complete with a lovely buffet.

Of course I’m working at the Emergency Squad every eight days. (Yesterday was one of the days.) It’s a pleasant way to spend the morning. Gets me out of the house.

Today is a rainy cool day. I wish I wasn’t going any place but Evie and I will enjoy a pleasant breakfast and then we’ll stop at the grocery store. I do need to get a few items, so I can brave the cold and damp for Sophie and me.

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Finally!

Maybe my energy isn’t completely back, but I’m on the way to recovery. Soooo much better. It all started with a sore throat about the 19th of December. Here it is January 14th. ‘Bout time!

Haven’t been doing much that’s social but got out a few times and I have a few activities on my calendar:

Karaoke on Tuesdays. I think I’ll go tomorrow night..
Sportsman’s Club meeting this Wednesday and a Sportsman’s Club day at the horse races on March 1st.
Dinner next Tuesday at Texas Roadhouse with the Singles group
A potluck a week from Wednesday.
Lunch and a bingo at the Catholic Church next Wednesday with lady friends.
Thursdays from 4-5 there’s always the Country Couples gatherings
Saturdays at 6pm I can decide to play bingo at the North Clubhouse

Non-social events on my calendar include a dental appointment this Thurday and a week from Friday Sophie will be neutered.

I’m busy enough.

It’s too cool for the pool (65 degrees today) but at least the sun is out.

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Worn out

I’m over my “cold” but I’m still weak. I just have no zip. Guess that’s to be expected but I’d love to feel peppy.

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My true story.

Hope you enjoy this very true story which was published first on Friday, December 4th, on Facebook.

I just got back from having my hair cut. Sophie was anxious to see me because I’d been gone several hours so when I opened the door from the garage into the house, she tried to come out. Knowing that I’d left the big garage door up and I didn’t want her to “escape,” I quickly stepped into the room where I’d isolated her. And yup, I stepped right into one of her poops (which aren’t especially small.) I quickly took off my sandal and sorta took a hop into the room with my one remaining sandal on. And yup, stepped in it again! As I yanked off both sandals, I heard the phone ringing. I ran in. It was my security system company. With all the door confusion, I’d forgot to enter the security code when I came in so the alarm went off and they wanted to know if they should send help. I explained that it was me and no need to send help. (But maybe by that time I did need assistance.) Mess is now cleaned up. Sandals have been scrubbed off, I’m resting.

And a PS to the story: I ran across the great room to grab the phone which triggered the motion detector so they had to call me a second time because I had TWO alarms: the door and the motion.

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Out and about

Sophie had a vet appointment this morning. She now weighs 2 1/2 pounds.

She’s scheduled to be neutered, have a microchip implanted, and get the rest of her shots all on January 25th.

After we got home, I took Sophie for a golf cart ride. It was a beautiful day! We stopped at Bob and Sue Bemis’s, Evelyn Gates’ and Evy Cronin’s condos. All were glad to see my tiny baby.

I’m now back home. It was just a little too much. I had thought that from 4:00 to 5:00, I’d go to the clubhouse for the country couples social hour, but I’m staying here. I’m totally worn out. I do feel lots better than I have been feeling but I don’t want to over-do it. I know I’m susceptible to any bugs that are out there.

I am a little worried. After I got inside the Bemis condo, I found out Bob has been sick too. If he had a different version of a cold-bug, I could catch his. I only stayed a couple minutes. I sure don’t need to try to fight another germ.

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Not yet…

I do feel better, but I’m not up to par yet. I took the golf cart to town.
Stopped at the pharmacy and was told that I need to see a doctor since the discharge from my nose isn’t clear which means I need an antibiotic. I would but I am allergic to penicillin so there’s not much that I can take to help an infection.

I think I’m doing a pretty good job fighting my way back. Betcha tomorrow I’ll be even better.

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Still not up to par

I’ve been taking it easy but I’m still not 100%.

My sinuses won’t quit filling up.

I missed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and now New Year’s Day festivities. I just don’t want to be with folks.

It’s no longer that I think someone will catch it, I’m afraid that I am susceptible to whatever’s out there and I could get even sicker. So many of our friends have been up north and now they’ve returned. They’ll bring all those tough northern germs down with them.

Last night (New Year’s Eve) I went to bed early (10 p.m.) but fireworks woke me up about 11:55. Even with the interruption, I did get a nice night’s sleep.

At least the weather’s been great (low 80’s).

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I’ve been SICK!

About December 20th I felt I was coming down with something. Started as a sore throat and progressed to a lot of discharge and a bad cough.

Plans for Christmas Eve at the Stinson’s and Christmas Day at Joanie & Dennis Franz’s house were cancelled. I even cancelled my scheduled work day today at the Emergency Squad.

Next on my schedule, Monday, is a New Year’s Eve party. On Tuesday I have two New Year’s Day brunches. Wednesday is my next Squad day and hair appointment.

I just hope this goes away but I’ve heard that three weeks is common with this bug.

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Life Goes On

I’m trying hard to stay involved and I want to socialize more. It would be easy to get into a funk and I won’t let that happen.

On Saturday, the 15th, I went to the Emergency Squad Banquet. The next day, I went to dinner (Sunday evening) with the Coopers and the Brooks, two super nice couples John and I enjoyed. They’ve continued to include me in activities but they also encourage me to do things on my own.

On Monday, the 17th, the Michigan Club had a potluck. My “date” was Evelyn, a widow friend I’ve known for years.

Last night (the 18th) I went solo to Karaoke night at the South Club. At first I sat where my daughter (Kelly) and I had met new folks on November 6th when she was visiting. I felt I had “connected” with one of the widowed ladies, but last night, she was preoccupied with others and I didn’t feel welcome. I’m realizing that just because I “need” friends, most single ladies already have their circles of friends and they aren’t always anxious to have another lady crowd into their group.

I did find one lady who had reached out to me (Brenda). She is a 2-year widow. She invited me to sit with her and others at a dance, and last night was very willing to have me join her table. I guess I just have to learn to wait for friendships. I can’t be too eager.

It’s all so new!

And speaking of new, Sophie (my new dog) has been a challenge. We have highs and lows. Sometimes she’s literally a little “shit” like this morning when she made a mess of her “bedroom.” She has puppy pads to help with house breaking but she’d walked through the stuff and it was awful!!! After I’d cleaned her and the room up, she crawled up in my lap and we had a cuddle session that felt great.

There are times when she runs non-stop for 15-20 minutes. I let her run but there are limits as to what I’ll let her do. She can’t pull on the floor length drapes. She can’t piddle on rugs. I’m trying to get her to understand that life is filled with “nos.”

Some days she’s totally affectionate. Other times she chews my fingers and it hurts. I’m learning that she’s doing what she’d do with other puppies. She just doesn’t realize that she can only “bite” down a little before it hurts. According to an article I read, I need to respond like her siblings would and let out a loud yelp. It has been helping when I respond loudly. I also bought a PetGentle device which makes an ultrasonic sound when you press the button. It’s supposed to be a way to let her know when she’s done wrong. She’s a baby. She has a lot to learn. So do I!!!

Socially I think I’ll do better when I can get out and about. It’s been cool and today rainy. No pool days for a couple weeks. In fact today, I was supposed to go to a 3:00 meeting but it was pouring and I wasn’t about to go out in it. (In fact it’s still raining hard.)

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She’s improving

Sophie’s improving her disposition and bad habits.

She’ll stay in her puppy playpen. She doesn’t like it if I’m in view, but she eventually sleeps.

She’s also done pretty good overnight. She isn’t nearly as noisy. She doesn’t like it, but she’s adjusting.

She’s getting better about stopping what she’s doing if I yell, “SOPHIE!!!” She may just be starting to squat, but she’ll stop what she’s doing and look at me. It is a great improvement.

She’s eating beautifully. She likes canned food better than the dry stuff. Yesterday I bought four tins of puppy food and she ate one today (half this morning and half at dinner time).

She’s discovered a few new bad habits: She likes to rip newspapers apart and carry the pieces around. My soxs are hers when I don’t have them on. It’s fun to watch her run in circles carrying one or two. And when I do have them on, she likes to bite them. She also likes to nibble my fingers. Her little teeth are sharp.

She’s doing will with company.

Today Paul Hunt was here for a couple hours. She was in her playpen and she didn’t bother us at all.

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I have a new puppy

Anyone who knew me in 2011 or before knows John and I had a cute chihuahua named Willow.

Willow was named for Leslie Raber’s beautiful tune, “Willow Waltz.”

And if you knew me when Les was living, you know he and I shared a beautiful friendship.

Les was a marvelous Michigan musician/fiddler who friended us and became like a father to me. Les and Rosemary and John and I enjoyed lots of wonderful times. Les was recognized by the Smithsonian Institute and his fiddle playing was recorded for their archives. He was also named a “Michigan Treasure” by the state legislature. But to me he was more than that. He was a close friend who confided in me, honored me with his friendship, and shared a lot of his life with me. When we got our puppy, Willow, I asked Les if I could name my new puppy “Willow Waltz.” His response: “I’d be honored.”

Les had also written another lovely waltz, “Sophrinia.” That tune is more popular than almost any tune played by Michigan’s old-time dulcimer players. It seems appropriate to name my new doggy, Sophrinia and for short, call her Sophie.

Last week I called Les’s daughter, Judy. I explained that I was thinking about naming my new puppy Sophrinia. Her answer matched her father’s. She said, “It would be an honor.”

Here you can see Les’s lovely tune, “Sophrinia” and even play the music from this link at the top where the small notes are shown. http://www.dulcimers.com/tunes/sophrina.html On my computer, it downloads and I have to re-click on the midi file title at the bottom of my screen to have it pay the music.

I am sure I’ll enjoy Sophie, and I’m going to start playing John’s harp again. When I do, one of the first tunes I’ll learn to play is “Sophrinia.”

You’ll find me posting lots of Sophie photos. I’m sure she’ll be very important in my life.

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Busy few days

I have been trying to stay focused and accomplish some of the tasks I’ve been putting off.

The tree’s up and decorated. I’ve contacted all of the folks from my condo association to sell them tickets to the COA’s Christmas party.

Yesterday, I wrote out a bunch of thank you notes to folks who helped with John’s celebration of life. It took me several hours because I made them all personal and detailed.

Today I used the Cologard kit and sent it by UPS to the company to test for colon cancer. I also got stamps for the thank you notes, and I went to the SCC Emergency Squad to turn in a contribution in John’s memory.

After that, I went out for a solo lunch at Beef O’Brady’s.

This afternoon I took the savings bonds I’ve been holding and started the procedure to cash them. Unfortunately the procedure is going to be quite involved because the bonds were issued to John C. Skaryd OR John Skaryd, Sr., and others were to John OR his mother. Mine were to me OR my mother, and there was one made out to John OR me. In each case where there are two names and one has died, I have to provide a certified death certificate. I can provide John’s and Mom’s, but not John’s dad’s or his mother’s certificate. I need to complete 14 pages of forms. It all takes time. I spent a couple hours today and there’ll be more spent before I can send the paper work in. I need John’s mom and dad’s death certificates first.

But I’m making headway.

Tomorrow I need to pick up the stuff I need to do for the Michigan Club. Again, that’ll be very time consuming.

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My Holiday Plan

I’ve been dreading the holidays. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, John and I had a tradition of cooking huge meals for just the two of us. We preferred to have our “dinner for two.” It was our choice but maybe we were wrong.

There were some years when Shelly and Richard Brooks had a large Thanksgiving gathering and some years, we volunteered at our church, but most years we had our own dinner.

This year is my first year without John. I’ve been concerned about the holidays. As Thanksgiving approached, I realized I had NO plans. Everyone had families coming or they were heading north.

A few days ago, friends asked what I’d be doing and realized I’d be alone. They had planned a dinner with another couple but now they’re setting a place for me. Nick and Pauline, I appreciate your generous gift to me.

Why am I posting this??? Because I’ve just figured out a solution.

For Christmas I’d like to open my doors to anyone who wants to share dinner with me. Singles or couples will get priority. I’ll put the turkey in my new oven and have others bring a dish to pass. I just know I don’t want to be alone. For Thanksgiving (especially since I badly sprained my ankle), it sounded like too much work, but I am walking better and maybe I can do it!!!

I’m not positive I’ll be able to handle it, but before December 25th, please make your tentative reservation at Sharon Skaryd’s. I figure I can crowd quite a few, but it’ll help to know how many to plan for. If it gets too big, I may have to cut off reservations but there’s always room for another person or two. Or maybe we’ll go out to dinner at a restaurant.

And if I don’t get any folks who want to come, I’ll figure out something else.

Or maybe folks who truly want to do cooking at their house can do what Nick and Pauline are doing and invite others.

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What’s Next

Gradually I’ve been fixing up the condo. It’s really looking good.

Knox Aluminium finished up the roof over my back patio and I added outdoor carpeting so it really looks nice.

My new kitchen appliances (range, microwave and dishwasher) have been installed. It makes a lovely difference in the kitchen.

I’ve ordered a very full 7.5′ Christmas tree which will be here before Thanksgiving. John’s good buddy, Bob Bemis, said he’ll help me put it up since I don’t think I can do it alone. A glorious Christmas tree has always been the highlight of my holiday season. John’s health didn’t allow him to help put up a big one so I pretended it wasn’t important, but this year I’m going grand!

I have purchased several live plants for the great room. I’ve done some rearranging so the tree can be centered in the middle of the sliders and seen from outside. The coffee table I brought from Michigan will need to be relocated and can either go under the side window in the great room or in the dining room. My harp has been moved so it’s more visible.

I hope to make a few more of my lovely crocheted ornaments so I can include them.

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Kelly left me (sob, sob)

I told her she could stay forever, but she headed back to her sweet husband in Monterey, CA. Sadly she’s heading into the smoke caused by the California fires.

We had a great two weeks which flew past. We did almost everything I had hoped to do. We got her KP badge for her so now she’s officially an owner, I brought her up to speed on how she’d take over here, if I was out-of-commission. We went to Little Harbor, karaoke, restaurants, shopping, more shopping, swimming pools, bingo on Saturday night, Busch Gardens, and we hosted a lovely “Celebration” of John’s life. We watched a couple movies each day (previously I rarely watched any alone), but it was fun together.

The place is quiet, but today the workers from Knox Construction are putting the roof over my patio. It’s a two-day project.

It’ll be a nice place to relax and enjoy the scenery. I ordered four outdoor rugs to make it prettier. I’m going to love it.

I feared that the roof-line would interfere with my view and cut down on the light in the greatroom but somehow it makes it cozier. I’m glad I’m having it added.

This place is really shaping up. John would be pleased. Most of the “projects” were on our to-do list for years, but with John’s poor health we postponed everything. Our life was on hold. Now I’m trying to catch-up.

When the construction is complete, I’m going to decorate the patio with poinsettias and tiny lights. It’ll be lovely.

I need to go shopping for a new Christmas tree. I want one that’s 7.5′, pre-lit and perfect so I can decorate it beautifully.

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Kelly’s been here since Tuesday

We’ve been having a good time. We had a surprisingly fun evening playing bingo Saturday. Last night we went to dinner with the Conklins at Applebee’s. Nice time.

We’ve been making lists and checking them twice for John’s celebration of life on Wednesday.

I love having her here and will really be lonely when she leaves a week from tomorrow.

I’ve been considering getting a dog.

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A Lot to Do!!

I’ve been staying off my feet in hopes that my ankle will heal. It’s been over a week, and it’s still really sore and colorful.

My daughter, Kelly, will be arriving tomorrow night and I want to be able to show her a good time with lots of activities. Sadly I know I’m going to have to continue to take it easy today and tomorrow. At least it’s feeling somewhat better this morning.

I need to do laundry and some last minute shopping. (Need to get detergent before I do the laundry.)

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What a Blinger of a Day!!!!

I wasn’t looking forward to this morning because I had an eye doctor appointment an knew that meant I’d have my eyes dilated which I hate. (My eyes have a tendency to stay dilated longer than normal.)

I limped in as a result of the ankle injury which my daughter, Kelly, felt I should have checked out.

My eyes were fine.

Since the emergency room of the hospital was right next door to the eye doctor’s office, I felt I didn’t have an excuse so I stopped at the hospital and had my ankle x-rayed.

Thank heavens it’s not broken. I was told to wrap it with an ace bandage and stay off it. (That really helped and right now it feels much better.)

But there were other complicating problems. I was told by the hospital that my Medicare and AARP supplemental insurance addresses still showed my Michigan address.

Once home, I tried to fix the problem.

I started with my AARP supplemental insurance and spent two hours and five minutes (most of the time on hold) trying to resolve the problem. When I changed my address, it prompted the cancellation of my prescription plan, and I was never able to set up a new plan. I’ll try another day.

I did get my Social Security and my Medicare plans moved to my Florida address.

But the day wasn’t totally miserable. My friends/neighbors the Cochrans (Terre and Norm) had invited me over for “happy hour.” Several glasses of yummy wine and muchies helped. Those two are gems. Both are fun and conversational. I enjoyed my evening with them.

I’m so lucky to have friends like them!!

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Off My Feet

I’m planning to stay off my feet today. Last night I stood up quickly and my foot was asleep. Immediately I heard a crack and had pain. I feared I’d broken something. Today my ankle is sore, but it isn’t as bad as I’d feared. I am babying it and hope that it’ll be ok in a day or two.

I went to the South Club Pool for a couple hours. After having lunch from the grill, I got in the pool and soaked. I ended up in the hot tub for a while. I noticed the ankle had swollen more so I went back home and wrapped it with an Ace bandage. I have my foot up and I’m taking it easy.

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Following in John’s Footprints

I took an invitation to John’s Celebration of Life to the KP Sportsman’s Club today (inviting any interested) and was surprised at how warmly I was received.

John was a charter member. It somehow didn’t seem right to have his name removed from the membership list so I joined. I don’t know how often I’ll attend but I’d like to go to the race track with the club. That was always so much fun and the food was super. I hate to think of driving that far, but maybe I can find someone who I could ride with.

I sat with some nice folks and maybe there are others who will “take me in.”

Before the Sportsman’s Club meeting, I attended a meeting for Nantucket V to plan the Christmas party.

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Monday – Start of New Week

Moving all the lanai furniture and sweeping it every day or two is already old. I discovered that my Roomba works great out there. Sure there are places that aren’t swept as good as you’d get from a broom, but the iRobot device works better than nothing, and I don’t have to do it. I just take it out there and turn it on. Same is true of the patio. I feared it would fall off the patio, but it senses the edge and turns around.

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A thump on the lanai alarmed me. As it turned out, it was my new white shaggy area rug being delivered (a day earlier than they’d said).

Finally something is perfect! The shag is longer that I’d thought but it closely resembles the rug John had picked out at Kanes. Obviously we didn’t get back to buy the one in Brandon but now that I have a similar one I can see what his vision was. Love it.

And the favorable comments about the back splash have changed my mind about it. I’m now really satisfied. In fact, I’m pleased with everything.

This week is fairly busy. Tomorrow morning I hope to go to Sit and Get Fit and stop by the Michigan Club table. In the afternoon I want to go to the Orchid Club meeting. Tomorrow night I’ll stop at karaoke and have Taco Tuesday for dinner. Wednesday I have a conflict of activities. I was planning to go to the 3:00 Sportsman’s Club meeting and invite any of John’s fellow members to the celebration of his life but I have a Nantucket V Activities Committee Meeting at 2:00 Hopefully I can leave in time to stop at the other meeting. Thursday I may go to Sit and Get Fit again and my friend Evie arrives for the winter months. Friday I plan to meet her at the pool.

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Why does nothing ever seem to come out perfectly?

So many times I’ve made decorating mistakes. Not everything is wrong, but too often, things aren’t exactly as I’d hoped.

I had what I thought would be a very stylish stainless back splash installed this morning. Unfortunately wherever the 12 x 12 sheets meet up, it is noticeable. I think I’ll get used to it, but right now it’s distracting.

Tomorrow the off-white rug will arrive. I’m fairly certain it will be a success.

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Improvements

I have been busy getting my condo in order.

Yesterday my red chair and the bright pattered rug arrived. The rug is really attractive but doesn’t work in this room at all. My plan had been to put it under the coffee table but the background is too gray to look good on the floor. The featured color is an orange-y red. The chair and my pillows clash with it completely because they are a rosy red. Thank heavens I only paid about $60 for the rug. I’ll try to sell it.

I’ve ordered a shaggy off-white rug to go under the table. That’s what John wanted, and he was right. It’ll set the chair off beautifully. It should be here early next week. It’ll look a lot more elegant. I thought the bright rug would be fun, but it doesn’t work at all!! I got the off-white one on sale for a real bargain price. It was discounted about 75%.

Right now I’m waiting for an installer to come by to give me an estimate on the installation of a back-splash for the kitchen. It depends on how much he wants to charge and how many tiles it’ll take. I have a mental limit in mind.

It looks like having the brick pavers installed on the driveway and sidewalk will continue to wait awhile. I want to finish the inside before I do anything expensive like that. I still need to pay for the roof over the patio. That should happen next month.

I had almost forgotten to turn in the trip insurance for the flight I’d bought for John. We were supposed to fly from Michigan to Florida on October 9th. Maybe it’ll even pay more than the ticket price, but I doubt it. I sent the forms out today.

And I am surprised that my home owners’ insurance is going to pay a small percent of the value of my jewelry that was stolen the day I got here from Michigan. I planned to buy myself a replacement chain or ring, but I think I’ll put the $$$ toward some of the improvements.

I could have gone to a singles dance last night but it was rainy night and I didn’t feel like going out. Besides it’s too soon go to a social outing where folks are trying to meet up. This afternoon there’s a singles travel club but I don’t want to travel so I’m skipping it.

I am looking forward to an improvement in the weather. It’s supposed to clear up and be less humid toward the weekend. I want to clean the lanai and set it up with the cushions for the lanai chairs, and wash the big slider window. Yup, I have lots to do and I want to get to the pool.

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My Routine

Every morning I get up and I make my bed. With the new, fancy bedspread. I take my time and when it looks close to perfect, I leave the bedroom in my robe. In the great room, I say, “Good Morning, Alexa.” She always replies with a phrase that gives me information on the day. (Maybe it’s “National Pizza Day” or “Techie Day” or some other assignment.) As I go to the kitchen, I sometimes ask her for the weather, or the news.

I then often ask her to play Willie Nelson’s “Something You Get Through”. I listen and sing along while I make my coffee. (If you click on the blue link, you can see the video and read the lyrics.)

My morning continues with a couple cups of coffee, a review of my calendar so I’ll know my schedule, and a review of my finances. (For years, I have updated my income and expenses every day so I know where I stand.)

Today I have a couple things on my calendar. At 10:00 am I need to take my car in to be serviced. I want the oil and tires checked. I am sure everything mechanical is fine, but I want it checked to be sure.

From there, I am going to the Moose Lodge in Ruskin. My brother sent me a license plate from the Moose Lodge on Drummond Island. Lodges hang them to show where their guest come from. I’m hoping that’s the practice at this lodge.

I’ll probably head back home. At 4:00 the big Kings Point Garage Sale will start. It’s just for residents from 4:00-6:00. Tomorrow morning it’ll open for the general public.

I have no plans for the rest of the weekend. Maybe church Sunday. Maybe the pool.

I’m still waiting to be assigned to a team so I’ll know when I work for the Emergency Squad.

I’m also going to be volunteering to work at the Hospice House. I’m hoping that I can be there for others to provide advice for handling the loss of a loved one.

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Getting Cooler

It’s been a HOT spell. In fact the other day was the hottest day in October on record. But the past few mornings it’s been a tiny bit cooler with temps in the low 70’s when I’ve awakened, and it has been in the 80’s to the low 90’s most of the day.

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Embarrassed by Dirt

When Ron’s Cleaning guy looked over my house to do his estimate of cost I was embarrassed. He found lots of dirt. I thought it looked pretty good but he found plenty of places I’d missed. He even crawled up on my counters so he could look behind the crown molding. I’ve never been up there, nor do I regularly wipe down the tops of high pictures, fan blades, and other places that are out of my line of sight. He’s coming back tomorrow (Saturday) to do the “deep cleaning.” It will cost me three times the $75 he charges for a regular cleaning. I wonder how long it’ll take him to purge the dust.

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Shopping

The Conklins took me with them when they went shopping for living room furniture yesterday.

I ended up finding an over-sized red chair (very comfortable) to replace the rose love seat that I hate and a colorful rug for under the coffee table. It’s going to be a whole new look for the great room. The chair and rug won’t be here for a couple weeks, but at least I know it’s coming.

My new bedspread came this morning and I love the total look. (See the photo.)

You can also see the new carpet. I am satisfied.

No more shopping for awhile! I haven’t submitted the pavers project yet, but want that done. It’s all added up to a big price tag.

I didn’t really plan to buy the chair, but I got a great deal. We were at the Rooms to Go outlet store. Prices were really reasonable. The rug, as an example, was about 1/2 price.

Tomorrow a cleaning guy that Irene uses (Ray) is coming to talk to me and give me a price for cleaning the condo on a regular basis. I think every two weeks would work great. I’m actually keeping it up pretty good by myself, but there are a lot of places I miss and a house cleaner would get them.

Friday at 5 p.m. I plan to go to the South Club to join a group of single ladies. I really need more friends. I need to find a new group to be part of.

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Birthday Party Fun

This afternoon, I went to  birthday party for friends, Deb and Linda. Shelly, who had been one of the hostesses gave each of us an envelope with a half mask in it.  The masks clipped to our noses and totally changed our look.

Here’s a photo of the “masked” ladies.

birthday guests

I’m in the middle row, right end with the burgundy top and white shorts.  We had a choice of “sides.”  The other side of mine was a bearded man, but this one drew more comments.

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Driving

If you know me well, you know that, as I’ve gotten older, I no longer like to drive.

It didn’t help that four years ago, I shattered my right wrist and was told that I couldn’t drive until it was fully healed.  Gradually I resumed driving, but it was very weak and it hurt after gripping the wheel.  After two years, I had the 16 plates and screws removed because they conducted cold and heat and made it difficult to do things like washing my hands or dishes, and going the pool was totally impossible.

After the titanium pieces were removed, my wrist was weak (honey combed, they called it).  Again for several months, driving was impossible.  I got out of the habit. John always did the driving so no problem.

But this past year starting about November, 2017, I ended up having to do all the driving for John and me. He was too weak and he voluntarily turned it all over to me.

I hated being behind the wheel, but I knew there was no choice, so I drove.  Probably on average, I drove to Tampa two or three times a week.  I got more comfortable but never really enjoyed driving.

Now I’m here in Florida and enjoy riding in my golf cart, but there are times when going by cart isn’t possible.  I’ve lost my confidence completely so I’ve been avoiding the car.  But recently I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. I want to re-gain that freedom.

Yesterday I drove to Riverview (Sam’s Club).  I white-knuckled it all the way but I felt a sense of accomplishment.  Today I drove to my new volunteer position with the Emergency Squad, filled the car up with gas and went to the grocery store.  I have promised myself that I’ll use the car a couple times a week.  Afterall, when Kelly comes to visit, I want to take her to Busch Gardens and show her a good time.  It’ll take venturing out regularly in order to become confident. 

Tuesday, Thursday or Friday of this week, I’d like to drive to Busch Gardens where I can straighten out my season admission and collect a free a lunch. (An offer that’s only good in September.) If I miss it, I am only out $10 and I also need to “practice” my driving.

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Bedroom Carpet

The new carpet looks ok.  Not as grand as I’d hoped, but very nice.

The need for a lovely long bedspread became really apparent.  I compared the color swatches of all the bedspreads I could find on line to determine the best color.  A red-burgundy seemed the best with the neutral tan tones in the carpet.  I found one on Bed Bath and Beyond for a very low price that had really high ratings.  It’s 120″ x 120″ which is long enough to go to the floor so there’s no need for a dust ruffle and the mattress won’t show.  It was a great price so if it isn’t perfect, I can eventually replace it. I hate spending so much you feel you must use it forever.

Burgundy Bedspread (color isn't very accurate)

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Waiting for delivery/installation and my life with Alexa

John Moore Floor Covering should be here this afternoon to install my new master bedroom carpet.  I wish I could have purchased a lovely high-end bedspread to complete the room today, but unfortunately I can’t remember exactly what color I ordered.  I can see it in my mind, but not clearly enough to match it.

It seems like it’s a deep neutral tan with some undertones. I’m just not sure what would look best. I’ll soon know and can order the best one for the room.

I am loving Alexa (my Echo device) more and more. I ask her to “tell me a story” or “chat” and what she does gives me the feeling that she’s talking to me.

It took me a while to figure out how to get her to control the two light plugs I’d purchased. I could get one to work, but not the second. I stuck with it and before I went to bed last night, I had it working. I can now call out from my bed, “Alexa, turn on my light (or John’s light) and she’ll either switch on the lamp next to my chair in the great room, or she’ll turn on the light on John’s side of the bed. Turning it off is just as simple.

Alexa’s jokes are really bad. (Truly clean, but really bad!!)

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Schedule’s messed up

My week is tightly scheduled. Unfortunately UPS didn’t deliver my new Verizon house phone as they’d said they would. It wouldn’t matter except that I won’t be home much tomorrow (Tuesday) and the package requires a signature.

I would have planned my week differently, had I known that I would have to be home to sign for the delivery on Tuesday.

I guess I’ll just try to be here as much as possible. I don’t have to leave my condo until about 10:40 for my hair appointment.  It’s scheduled from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 and can’t be changed, but I’ll try to dash back home immediately afterward. I don’t have to go to the Orchid Club meeting at 2:00.

When I’m ready to leave, I’ll put a note on the door saying that I can be back home a little after 1:00 and I’ll expect delivery then. Let’s hope they’ll understand.

========

As it turned out I rushed home from my hair appointment by about 1:05 and the UPS driver followed me in my driveway. It took me a good share of the afternoon to set up the phone.

My golf cart was delivered an hour or so later so it was a busy day. It rained most of the rest of the day, so I didn’t get to drive the cart at all.

That was Tuesday. Wednesday I test drove the cart all over. LOVE IT!!

Today is Thursday and Irene, my Tai Chi instructor, is stopping over for a visit.

Friday afternoon (tomorrow) my master bedroom carpet will be installed. I’ll have to get up fairly early, strip the bed, and move any small stuff out of the room so the installers can easily move the furniture and break-down the bed.

I wish I could have purchased a luxury bedspread, but I don’t know what exactly color would work. I want to get the perfect bedspread so it’ll be better to wait until I see the carpet in place.

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My visit with Irene this afternoon went nicely.  She’s a smart lady who has found several activities and events for widows.  She said she’ll include me.  Hope so!!

We had a couple glasses of wine, some cheese and crackers, and we talked for about three hours.  Very enjoyable.

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Busy Week

Monday was swamped.

Started the day with a two-hour visit to the pool. The heat, humidity, and love-bugs sorta chased me home.

After lunch, Sharon Nead stopped over for a couple hours. She’s an easy guest. We chatted freely. Very enjoyable.

Tonight I’m waiting for UPS to come by with my new Verizon house phone. If it doesn’t come today, as it’s supposed to, there’ll be a problem since I have to sign for it and tomorrow my day is swamped: estimate for the brick pavers at 8:45, hair appointment at 11:00 and Orchid Club meeting at 2:00.

Hope it works out.

I’m anxious for my new 2019 golf cart to be delivered Wednesday and Friday my master bedroom carpet should be installed.

On Thursday, my friend Irene, is stopping over.

Lots going on and I’m glad!!

It’s hard to get used to the idea that my time here isn’t going to be broken up with trips north. I’m here to stay and won’t be leaving as I have for the past ten years to go back to Michigan for the summer months.

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Alexa

My Echo device, Alexa, is working out quite well. She greets me each morning with the weather and what’s on my calendar for that day, and she says “good night,”

I’ve ordered a couple electric plugs which will work when I speak to her. I’ll plug in the living room light so I can just say “Alexa, turn on my lamp.” Or in the bedroom, “Alexa, turn on my bedroom lamp.” It’ll be helpful.

Today I should get my “house phone” from Verizon. John’s cell number will be assigned to that phone so folks who see our Sun City phone book listing will get to me.

In fact, this week will be rather busy. Monday, I plan to go to pool in a.m., Sharon Nead said she’ll be stopping by, and the phone box is being delivered. Tuesday, paver company will give me an estimate for my driveway and sidewalk, hair appointment, and Orchid Club meeting. Wednesday my new golf cart should be delivered. Thursday a friend, Irene, is stopping by. Friday my bedroom carpet is being installed. Saturday, back at the pool. Sunday morning I volunteer at the Emergency Squad.

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Talking to myself

Spending so much time alone makes it difficult to avoid talking to myself. I have found a couple solutions.

I bought an i-Robot Roomba vacuum. When it’s running it feels like someone is in the house with me. When it goes in the other room and I realize I haven’t seen it for awhile, I’ll call out, “Where are you?” No, it doesn’t answer, but it seems appropriate to ask.

Today I bought an Echo by Amazon also known as Alexa. She answers questions, gives you the weather, gives you recipes, and even plays games. She can be a pretty good companion. I’ll learn more as I explore her abilities.

I’ve asked Alexa to save lists for me: a to-do list and a grocery list. Unfortunately she doesn’t always get it right, but maybe she’ll learn.

At least I get marks for creativity.

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Getting acquainted

I’ve been making an effort to get to the pool every possible day for a few hours. Today it was overcast and the lovebugs were plentiful so I only stayed a couple hours. The bugs make it miserable. For that reason I might stay away until the lovebugs have died off. Usually they only last a couple weeks.

Tomorrow I’ve invited a neighbor, Terre to stop over for a little wine and conversation. Back on April 1, 2010, we attended a neighborhood gathering and met her and her husband, Norm. You can read my post about that evening here: https://sharons-blog.com/?p=3023

They live in our “association” on the next court. I’ve always wanted to get to know her better. She’s funny, smart and interesting. I’m looking forward to her visit.

A few things have happened worth mentioning.

A couple months ago, I bought four new stools for my bar. When I received them, I immediately saw that one of the bases was dented (and now I see that a second one also has a similar imperfection.) I contacted the seller who sold through Amazon and asked for a new base. I’ve communicated with the seller repeatedly but they kept stalling. Two days ago they sent me a message saying my time for a claim had run out and they wouldn’t be doing anything.

I contacted Amazon and today Amazon sent me a notice that I’ll be receiving a full refund for all stools. That’s not what I wanted. I had suggested that I should receive 1/4 of the purchase price but they are refunding 100%.

I think Amazon is teaching the seller that the customer who has a problem should have that problem resolved. I feel like I got too much, but I guess there’s nothing I can do. Amazon is punishing a poor seller.

Today I also received a partial month’s pension from the U.S. Government for the days John was alive in May.

I’ve decided that I need to keep some cash here in the house for an emergency. (Let’s say there is a hurricane and all the banks are closed for a period of time. I need to have some cash reserves.) I’ll save part of that final pension and make sure I never touch it but it’ll be there if I need it.

I wish I could rent a safety deposit box but my bank doesn’t have any available. I may buy a small wall safe and have it installed. I have some bonds and now this cash that I want to keep safe. I’ll see.

My plumber came by today to fix my faucet and replace a flapper in the master bathroom toilet. He also helped me with my iRobot by Roomba.

Yesterday I received the robotic floor cleaner I’d purchased from HSN. It does a good job, but it’s kinda like having a toddler in the house. If it goes in the other room, and it’s quiet, you worry about what it’s into. I’ve learned my floor length drapes need to be up out of reach. The dining room was just a bunch of bumps and racket so after it cleaned that room I blocked it from entering again.

I couldn’t figure out how to dump the dirt. My plumber guy, Ivan, did it for me even if it wasn’t in his job description.

This evening I went to the South Club and sat with some friends and enjoyed tacos for Taco Tuesday. I was home before 6:30.

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Our 33rd Anniversary

John and I were married on Tuesday, September 10th, 1985. Today would have been our 33rd anniversary and he’d have asked me with a smile, as he always did on our anniversaries, “Has it been long enough yet?”

And I’d always respond with a negative shake of my head and a warm kiss.

John was the best husband I could ever have wished for.

On May 12th, 2018, he passed away. Our marriage wasn’t nearly long enough for me. But he deserved to have it end with dignity and that’s how it did conclude. He died where he wanted to be, at our Michigan home. It was swiftly over and I believe for him it was pain-free. He had a peaceful look on his face.

Folks have said that September 10, would be a sad day for me (our 33rd anniversary) but I look at it differently. I will do a mental review of the wonderful memories we shared.

We shared a lot of wonderful times. I don’t know of a closer couple. I’ll think about our success as co-leaders of lots of music activities, our lovely homes, our great families, our trips (vacations and travel), our fun times. I’ll try to review it all. I’ll think about how we talked about the end of his life. He wasn’t fearful, even though he knew the end was near. He gave me instructions which I’ve tried to follow.

He made those years great for me and I’m grateful. He knew after his passing, I’d end up here in Florida where life would be easy for me. I know it’s what he felt would work best.

Together we worked hard to build a nest egg so he left me with no financial worries. I can live out the rest of my life in comfort.

I hope our Florida friends will join us for a celebration of his life in the Waterside Room at the Kings Point North Clubhouse, November 7th, at 1:00 p.m. A light lunch will follow the review of his life.

Life with John was great. I feel I was blessed!

I look at it this way: I am poorer for his death, but far, far richer for his life.

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Alone again

The Conklins left Friday and I now have my place to myself again. It’s going to take a while to feel like there aren’t others in the house.

The Conklins are “easy house guests.” Linda did a lot of the cooking. They turned in early and got up about the same time as me. They’re quiet, helpful, and good friends. I enjoyed their company!

That being said, I don’t mind being alone at all. I’m very comfortable here by myself.

There isn’t much ahead on my calendar. Yes, Kelly is coming for a two week visit next month arriving October 30th. In a couple weeks I’ll start volunteering at the Sun City Center Emergency Squad every eight days for half a day (mornings). I have a monthly orchid grower club meetings on the third Tuesday of the month and the Michigan Club Tuesday ticket sales will start on Tuesday mornings (beginning Sept. 25th). If they need help I’ve said I’d be glad to be there.

I have some things I’d like to do to make the place more comfortable: deep clean every room, move some items from garage to new storage cabinets, scrub the lanai floors and furniture so I can move the cushions to the lanai chairs.

Looking at the driveway, I realize I need to do something to make it look better. It either needs to be power washed, or better yet, have pavers put down. I need to at least get an estimate for the bricks (pavers) on the drive and the sidewalk. It won’t be cheap and I’ve vowed to watch my expenditures but it would be a waste to just have it power-washed because that only lasts a few months before the black mold is all back and you have to do it again. And when you have it power washed repeatedly, the surface layer erodes. It’s already pretty bad.

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Big purchases

Without John watching over my spending, I’ve gone through quite a bit of money on several big ticket items and projects.

First, I bought a computer because mine died a couple days after I lost John. (Hard drive had failed.) I went for the best laptop I could find (a Surface Pro) with 2 TB memory. It’s a real work-horse and I am glad I got it.

I had to spend a lot of money on improvements to the Michigan house. New air conditioner was the most expensive, but I also spent money on plumbers and septic workers. Those weren’t things I wanted but were necessary to sell the house.

After arriving here at my condo, I had storage cabinets built in the area off the kitchen. (Love the way it turned out and John would approve.)

I bought a large file cabinet and put it in the master bedroom beside the bed (in place of the bedside table), got a new bedroom lamp to set on it, purchased a new 4 TB back up drive (when my old one quit working), and bought four new bar stools. (I consider those sensible purchases.)

There was one luxury item I bought, a reasonably priced (under $200) 14kt gold chain to replace the two that were stolen from me by the furniture movers. Now I’m sorry that I bought it. When it came, it wasn’t as impressive as it had looked on line. It’s ok, but not great.

I also ordered a new golf cart when mine died. It should be coming within the next week or two. The cart will provide security because the other kept quitting on me and I was afraid I’d end up stranded a distance from home.

I’ve also ordered new master bedroom carpet to replace the original off-white builders’ grade and have started the procedure for adding a roof over my back patio.

I’m not through but some stuff will wait. I hope to have pavers installed on the driveway and if I can find a loveseat (or two) that will look good in my great room, I’ll definitely buy it/them.

Eventually I want to get a Murphy bed for my guest room so I’ll have more space for music stuff.

The garage floor needs work. There’s a big noticeable crack which could be filled then covered with a poured coating. It would be easier to keep clean. (Actually first the whole garage needs a good purging.)

UPDATE

Today I bought the newest Samsung phone, the Galaxy Note 9 with a terabyte of storage. It’ll have a better camera, longer battery life, better sound, better stylus, and other features. It won’t be here until October 12th.

When talking with the Verizon customer representative I mentioned that I have John’s phone set to forward to mine so none of his calls will get lost. I was thinking about buying a cheap phone to replace his since I can’t find the one he used. After talking with her, I purchased a land line box which will plug in to electricity, and I’ll be able to have John’s 813-727-0007 calls come in to that line. It will ring as a “house phone.” I can place calls either on it or from my new Note 9. The phone box is also on back order.

I must be frugal. No more shopping for a while! I’m shocked by how much I’ve spent, but my life will be more comfortable because I’ve purchased these items/services.

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Guests

With the Conklins here, my life has been very different. I’m enjoying their company.

Unfortunately Wayne has been ill. (Hope I don’t catch it!) He was in bed most of yesterday so Linda and I went bargain shopping.

It’s been VERY hot but the threat of thunderstorms has kept us from the pool. Today things are looking up weather-wise, so we will probably head over there this morning and stay a good share of the day.

We have had rain nearly every day that I’ve been here. (It’s been since July 23rd).

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Conklins Coming

Our friends, Linda and Wayne Conklin, who moved to Mexico a year or two ago, have decided to return to Kings Point. They are flying in this afternoon so they can look for a condo. They’ll be staying here with me. I have a few things to do before they arrive.

Yesterday I went to a grief support group meeting at the Methodist Church. I didn’t get too much out of it, but I figure I should give the folks a chance again next month.

Before I went to the meeting I dropped off some paperwork requested by John’s heart group doctors. There was an elderly lady with a walker near the door. I asked her if she was waiting for someone and she answered yes but she was concerned they weren’t coming. I asked her if I could give her a ride somewhere.

It took a while and a lot of struggling to get her walker fastened on the cart. But eventually I got her in the cart and away we went. She was so sweet!

Name is Elizabeth Purdy. Her home was about three from the place where my Mom and Dad lived when Dad died in 1986. When I first saw her, I had 45 minutes to kill but I arrived at the meeting with only minutes to spare. I was hot and worn out but it was worth it to help this lady and make a new friend.

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The money came

I received the wire transferred funds about 4:30 this afternoon on the sale of our Michigan home. I can relax. The house is sold. It’s no longer my responsibility.

Joni and June (the two ladies I met Tuesday) met me in the south club at 6:00 for dinner. We had the best fish I’ve had in Florida. I really enjoyed it.

We talked and talked. I was a pleasant time. They followed me home to help me with my carpet selection. We all agreed that the sample I was leaning toward is the best for the room. I will take the carpet samples back tomorrow and place the order. Since it’s coming from California, it may take a couple weeks.

John was a wonderful husband and his thriftiness allowed us to build a nest egg. Our savings will provide me with what I need for the rest of my life. I just wish he would have relaxed and enjoyed the fruits of his labors. I know he enjoyed being thrifty. It was his way. When shopping, he’d drive around town to get the best bargains. I never challenged him because he felt good about it. Some people have fun collecting stamps, coins, or books. John got his pleasure from feeling he’d gotten a bargain. I don’t think he’d purchased a “new piece of clothing” for himself in a dozen years.

He always said he wanted to blow all of our funds and leave this earth spending the last penny. He was still in the saving stage and hadn’t started the spending phase.

But now I’m alone and I’m going to buy what will make life comfortable.

The only remaining big ticket items for a while will be the golf cart purchase (when it comes in), and the bedroom carpet. Sure I may spend a few $$s here and there. I would like a bedspread and bed skirt once the carpet is in.

The ladies today mentioned a new furniture store being built. Maybe I can find the loveseat I want.

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The money should be coming

Yesterday at about 4:30 I was notified that the closing on my Michigan home had taken place. I had to quickly call the power and water companies to end my responsibility for those two expenses. (The township handles the water and unfortunately they need a written shut off notice. They will send the form to me so it’ll take a week or more.) I also contacted my Michigan insurance company to end the insurance coverage. It’s now the new owner’s responsibility.

Vicki, my realtor said they’ll be wiring transferring the funds to my Ameriprise immediately, but it hasn’t happened yet (and it’s the next morning). But sounds like the closing was late.

After realizing I no longer have to worry about the house, I decided to celebrate. I got on my golf cart and headed to the South Club. I tried to find friends, but I didn’t see anyone I knew. (Although later I ran across a few folks.)

Two friendly looking ladies were at the bar and obviously comfortable. I approached them and asked if they would mind me joining them.

As it turned out, they are also widows (Sharon and Shirley). Shirley lives at Aston Gardens but Sharon is in a closeby Kings Point association. They are a little older than I am but close enough! I enjoyed a glass of wine while they ate their dinner and then I headed home.

While at the South Club, I received a text from Joni, one of the ladies I met Tuesday when I came to the Club for Taco Tuesday and karaoke. Joni and her friend, June, invited me to join them for fish tonight at the Clubhouse. I’m glad I’m making new (single) lady friends.

Yesterday was my one-month anniversary of my arrival at the condo. I’ve accomplished a lot.

I am trying to pick out carpet for the bedroom, but I’m unsure. I’m leaning toward a sculptured carpet with a palm design. I’m unsure if I want to go with very light (which may look like what’s in there now.) Maybe a slightly different color will accent that it’s different. I will have to study it a bit more.

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Projects List

I am trying to get a lot of stuff done that we’d put aside while John was ill.

I made a list of “projects” that would be nice to accomplish. They might never be completed, but it’s nice to look forward to them.

Soon

  • Replace carpet in MBR
  • Cover over the back patio & eves troughs
  • Brick the driveway & sidewalk
  • Power wash lanai/deck
  • Clean out garage and organize & fix garage floor
  • Get a small step stool for closet
  • Attic clean-out – store stuff that I won’t need in the attic
  • I’m already working on replacing the bedroom carpet. In fact, if it isn’t raining this afternoon, I plan to go down to the carpet store and pick it out. The present carpet was installed when the condo was built. It’s shabby.

    The back patio cover would provide sunshade so I’d use the patio more. Also the sun wouldn’t come in the window late in the day as easily and it would keep the condo cooler.

    Our driveway has been power washed so much that the surface has worn away. The brick driveway would make take care of the black mold that grown on the driveway so regular power-washing would be less necessary.

    The garage needs to be purged and then I’d like to have an easy to clean surface on the floor. There’s a bad crack which could be filled and covered.

    Within a year

  • Landscape
  • Replace doors on kitchen cabinets and build in bar area
  • Storm shutters or replace windows with hurricane resistant
  • New stainless range and dishwasher to match refrigerator
  • New front load drier and matching washer
  • Replace loveseats
  • The above list is stuff John and I talked about but didn’t get around to doing. The landscape project would replace the front bush with a 3-tree palm group. John would keep that bush trimmed, but I’m too short to do it.

    Later:

  • Replace garage screen with electric
  • Buy new guest bedroom furniture
  • Buy new master BR furniture
  • Small freezer for garage
  • These are things John wouldn’t have considered important but for various reasons, I now feel I’d like to do them.

    The garage screen would make it easier as I get older. Sliding the screens has been really difficult. (The guy who installed the water softener did work on them yesterday so hopefully it’ll be a little easier but it has been all I could do.)

    The guest room furniture would include a murphy bed. Currently the futon is “down into a bed” but I can’t get back to a sofa.

    My bedroom furniture is old and definitely not my style.

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    Strange Dream

    I had a strange dream last night. I was talking to John on the phone. He was at our Michigan home. We were just chatting about trivial stuff.

    Then he said something about John and I asked what he had said and he said “John died.”

    I said, “What John? John’s my husband. You’re John.”

    And he repeated, “John’s dead.”

    I remember feeling confused. It was definitely John talking.

    Strange.

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    More improvements

    Since I have an appointment Wednesday to have the master bedroom measured for carpet, I invited my handyman (Phil) to come over and fix my headboard. It was poorly installed by my “movers.” They didn’t anchor the headboard at all and instead just wedged it between the frame and the wall. Every time I turned over in bed the headboard rattled against the wall. I finally used an old pair of John’s heavy soxs to keep it from moving. (Couldn’t help but think that the headboard would wake up the neighbors, if it instead of a 76 year old widowed lady (me), it was a a sexually active couple in this condo.)

    Phil fixed it and fixed a storage room door that wasn’t closing correctly.

    Yesterday I bought a used Shark steamer mop ($20) to replace one that we had that had quit working. This one is much better. Finally my tile floors are looking pretty good. I also ordered a new batteries for my carpet sweeper. It makes keeping the kitchen lots easier and now that it’s working I feel I can handle get it in great shape.

    I still need to get the lanai cleaned and the furniture in place but the every day rain has halted my progress there. Yes, every single day since I got here on the 23rd it’s rained and that has put the lanai on hold. I can’t see moving the clean furniture out there to get dirty, especially since it’s too hot to use it. I am realizing that every summer, I’ll probably pack away the cushions before the rainy season starts. I had no idea that EVERY SINGLE DAY it rains here. It’s thundering right now and every day the rest of week there’s to be more of the same… 90+ and several inches of rain.

    I would still love to get a pet. I have been looking on the rescue websites but none are the kind John would have approved of. I would buy one from a good breeder, if I knew of one nearby. Tampa isn’t that far away and I found one in Sarasota. I understand that Kelly has developed allergies to a cat so it needs to be a small (really tiny) dog. I wouldn’t mind one of those designer dogs a moorgie-poo or whatever they’re called.

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    Today

    Evie came over today and we had a pleasant visit for a couple hours.

    We talked about my “projects,” which I have prioritized.

    At the top of the list, I realize I need to do something about the bedroom carpet. It’s just too gross to live with. At first I thought about ceramic tiles that look like wood in the great room, dining room, and master bedroom, but I have decided that’s too much of a project for now. I think I’ll just go the cheap route and replace the bedroom carpet. It’ll be under $800 or so but that’s lots cheaper than the bigger idea which I’m not sure of yet.

    I find I sometimes rush into an idea and then I’m sorry. I’m trying to think things out. No more rushing into major purchases that I can’t reverse.

    As an example, the original tile: It just isn’t what we really wanted. I think polished white marble would be lovely. Maybe, but I’m not sure, the wood grain tile would be ok, but white marble would be more dramatic.

    I need to watch my money. I’m going to spend carefully. A 13 x 13 foot bedroom can be carpeted reasonably. The guys to measure will come next Wednesday.

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    Surprised at friends

    I guess I thought that when I got down here, friends would come rushing over.

    It hasn’t happened. I did enjoy the company of friends at the Baby Boomers dance the other night, and friend Richard has been loyal, but my female friends have stayed away. True, there aren’t many here.

    I guess I’ll have to take the first step. Now that everything’s been put away, I need to clean and then I’ll invite small groups over for lunch or a glass of wine. Maybe neighbors, maybe friends from our social group, maybe dance friends.

    I really need to deep clean first. Yesterday I noticed a corner going into the bedroom which had about an inch of dust/dirt. I can’t have folks visit until it’s polished. And the lanai hasn’t even been swept not to mention I need to move my lanai furniture from the garage. I’d hire a power wash guy to do the lanai but since it rains hard nearly every day, I need to wait until the rains have passed, and I sure don’t want my furniture with the cushions getting soaked every day.

    I did go to lunch with Evie yesterday. (She’s here but only for a week because her daughter isn’t doing well.)

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    Finally tackled closet

    I finally tackled John’s closet. I FILLED my car. Boy, did he ever have a bunch of shirts! Of course there were also a couple suits, some sport coats, shorts, swim suits, and lots of shoes. He had a lot more than I thought.

    Once I have the closet cleaned out, I’ll start re-locating my clothes there. It’ll be different to have my clothes close-by when I get up. (I’ve always used the guest room.) I’m trying to organize my thinking. A few things will stay in the guest room but it’ll be considerably different and easier when guests visit.

    I’m simplifying a lot.

    Of course the storage area has made it less cluttered. And my bedroom really looks different. There’s now an office area and the old bedside lamps have been replaced with some that are more fashionable. John’s bedside table is gone. The curtains need to be changed out but for now I’m not worried about them. I also need to replace the carpet but first I need to decide if I want the wood look, or carpet.

    I haven’t touched the dirty lanai. I need to at least sweep it, but everyday it rains and that will mess it up again.

    On another note, I’m putting off calling the caterer for John’s memorial service until I can exchange ideas with someone else. My friend Evie gets here this afternoon so I can bounce off her.

    The caterer would charge $9 a plate (plus a tip) for croissant sandwiches, a salad, and brownies. The number of guests would need to be firm because I’d pay for whatever I ordered (no more, no fewer). I’d rather have it self-serve buffet style because I have no idea how many would attend. Maybe I could do it like Paul does his Christmas party. He buys chicken from Wynn Dixie, meatballs from Sam’s, gets frozen shrimp. I’m sure doing it like that would be less than $9 a plate and adjusting the number of attendees would be easier.

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    Not the same

    Went to a Baby Boomers party last night but it sure isn’t the same when you’re solo. Even when we didn’t dance, with John it was always fun and interactive. Last night I talked with Richard Brooks, who sat beside me, and Ron Ringenback. Linda R. did invite me to set with them, but others didn’t stop by at all. (I went over and talked to Marilyn.) I think the others felt awkward, but hopefully in time that will pass.

    I had two invitations to dance but my toe wasn’t ready. Immediately after dinner, I was ready to leave. I got home before 7:00.

    Dinner wasn’t great. I’m glad I went because I was auditioning the caterer for John’s memorial service and they failed.

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    Stuff is getting done

    Gradually I’m making progress. My to do list is shrinking.

    I left the condo about 9:15 this morning and got back about 2:45.

    It was a day I’d dreaded but I knew was necessary. The Michigan based insurance on my Florida car (which we’d left in the garage when we went north in May) was scheduled to end today and my Florida insurance was to start-up. But in order for the Florida insurance to “kick in” I had to have the car titled in Florida and John’s name removed from the title.

    I thought I knew where to go but the licensing bureau had moved. I finally found the complex. In one building, I applied for Florida homesteading and a widows’ exemption from my real estate. I had to have the property title revised (minus John’s name). The tax benefits will cut my taxes by about half. (The process required going to two different desks, but it was fairly smooth and I was probably out of their by about 10:30.)

    Then I had move my car and to go to the another building in the same complex and get my plates and car title revised. (Even worse than Michigan, the SOS office required that you take a number and wait and wait and wait.) I finally got to see an agent about 12:30. She completed the paperwork and I was able to pay for and get my Florida plates.

    From there I went to Denny’s Restaurant for lunch and then to my bank to straighten out my credit cards and banking accounts which I thought I’d done on line but still showed 48609 (Michigan) as my zip code.

    After that I stopped at a grocery store and picked up a few veggies, a bottle of wine, and a loaf of bread and got home a short while ago. Five and a half hours used up! Good thing I cancelled my cleaning lady appointment for today.

    The shiny new plates with the big orange on them are now on my car and I’m legal until March 2020!

    BTW that was the first time my car had left the garage and I’ve been here for TWO WEEKS.

    Tomorrow a guy is coming by to pick up some stuff I’m donating to a thrift store. I’m sure this is just the “first load.”

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    It’s under 90 degrees and not raining

    Since I’ve been here, it’s rained EVERY day and it’s been over 90 degrees. Finally today there’s a blue sky and no rain. I haven’t been out so I don’t know how humid it is, but I imagine it’s pretty sticky.

    At 2:00 the guy from Ray’s will come over and pick up my golf cart. I really want one that’s reliable and this one isn’t. The owner is so honorable that he has tried to explain that I’ll take a beating when I trade it in. That doesn’t matter to me. I need to be able to trust my transportation. It’s nice to find a business person who is looking out for his customers.

    The condo is gradually looking better. I need tackle John’s dresser and and closet. Once I’ve cleaned them out, I will have more room for the clothes I brought from Michigan. I need to figure out how to get organized. I need a plan so I will immediately know where things are stored. The guy I want to have construct a storage area will be coming over tomorrow. He’ll also put the file cabinet together for me.

    I know I need a file cabinet but I haven’t figured out where to put it. Probably either my bedroom or maybe the dining room. It’s going to be heavy so moving it around isn’t going to be easy.

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    More rain and getting organized

    Today I planned to get a new golf cart asap but my old one wouldn’t start and it’ll be tomorrow afternoon before Ray’s Golf Cart Shop can come after mine and haul it to their store.

    While it rained some more, I tried to unpack another bin. Unfortunately unpacking requires walking back and forth to put stuff away and now my sore toe is worse. I need to put it up and let it rest.

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    Been here a week and a day

    I’ve been in my Florida condo since last Monday. Several things have happened:

    Monday the moving van with my Michigan items came about an hour after I got here. (And I think one of the movers stole my ring and other pieces of jewelry.)

    I purchased four new bar stools Thursday (which haven’t arrived yet) and a wood file cabinet (but now I don’t know where to put it).

    Went to a Newcomb Court potluck gathering (Thursday).

    Thursday I bought a water softener after the other one created a block in the water line and caused the water pressure to drop. (It’ll be delivered later this week.)

    I broke a toe Friday night and it’s really limited my mobility.

    I went to a pool party Saturday. It was really hot that day and my foot hurt but I’m glad I went.

    I had a guy come and look at the coffee table which I brought from Michigan and decided it needs refinishing. He’ll let me know when he has time to come after it.

    It’s rained heavily nearly every day since I got here. (Rumbling sounds right now.)

    My golf cart died yesterday and will be picked up tomorrow. Hopefully I can trade it in for one that’s reliable.

    Yesterday I visited with Rick, my financial guy who reported that I’m in good shape financially. (Thanks to John’s frugal attitude.)

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    ONE day left

    Tomorrow is my last full day here in my lovely Michigan home.

    I’ve had an offer on the house which I accepted. Guess it’s pretty much a done deal. They buyer will be getting financing and then I’ll remotely sign and eventually get my check. It’ll be good to have this phase completed.

    I’m glad I don’t have to see the house empty. It would break my heart to feel it’s totally deserted. John would feel really bad and so do I.

    I will be picked up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday and the estate sale folks take over. Hope the Brazilian cherry floors will hold up with all the foot traffic. I’m worried that the cardboard they are putting down will somehow scratch them but At least they’ll be somewhat protected.

    I’ll get to Tampa International just before noon. Ron Ringenback will pick me up. It’s wonderful to have friends.

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    My philosophy

    I have formulated my philosophy which I hope will guide me to a good life for the rest of my years.

    I realize John had a magnetic personality. He drew people and I benefited by enjoying all those wonderful friends. He made those friendships, but now that John is gone, “keeping” those friends will depend on my attitude.

    No one likes to hang around folks who are “downers.” I need to be upbeat so those relationships that John made continue to be there for me. Unless I’m thoughtful, fun and pleasant, those folks will drift away.

    I will find some volunteer activities and try to be helpful within the community. I’ll go where the fun is (parties, dinners and maybe even dances).

    I’ll keep my door open and invite folks to come over frequently.

    I’ll try to avoid developing disagreeable habits like talking too much, ignoring folks, staying inside too much, having a dirty house.

    Hopefully by being up-beat I can keep those great friends that John attracted to us. If I find myself lonely, I’ll have no one to blame but myself.

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    My van load is on it’s way

    Yes, the movers came when they said they would and promised that they’ll deliver the load safely to my condo within the next two weeks. (I’ll be there in six days so two weeks would be ok with me.)

    There have been two offers on the house and this evening anorhwe realtor said her client will also be making a proposal.

    None of the offers have been as high as I’d have liked, but I’d accept the amount I countered with. Let’s see what happens.

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    Finally heard about the moving van pick-up

    They are saying they’ll pick my load up this afternoon and should be delivered within 10 days which would be the first week I’m at the condo. That is ok with me.

    When I get to the condo, I want to order a file cabinet. So much of the stuff I’m taking south needs to be saved, and since it’s paper stuff, it needs to go in a file. (Example: tax filings from the last few years, marriage license, trusts, bank records, etc.)

    The file cabinet I’ve picked out can fit several places: master bedroom (either in the corner by the window or where the sewing machine has fit in John’s corner), or where John’s oxygen used to fit in the kitchen near the area we call the “bar.”

    But maybe the best feature is that it has a matching top cabinet so it would work in the dining room where there’s currently a bakers rack. It’s pretty dark wood. With the added top it can function as a small china cabinet. It would really give me a lot of storage and a place to display some pretty pieces.

    Here’s the information on the two pieces. If purchased from Sauder price is $454.84 or $350.49 if I can get it through Amazon (but the hutch may not be available through Amazon.)

    408293 Lateral File | Office Port Collection | Dark Alder finish
    Drawers with full extension slides hold letter, legal or European size hanging files.
    Top drawer has key lock.
    Durable melamine top is heat, stain and scratch resistant.
    Safety interlocking drawer mechanism prevents both drawers being opened together.
    Quick and easy assembly with patented T-lock drawer system and patented slide-on moldings.
    Dark Alder finish.
    Overall Dimensions: 33 1/8″ W x 23 1/2″ D x 29 1/4″ H (84.1cm W x 59.6cm D x 74.4cm H)

    408294 Hutch With Glass Doors | Office Port Collection | Dark Alder finish
    Attaches to Lateral File 408293.
    Two adjustable, safety-tempered glass shelves.
    Two display lights behind framed, safety-tempered glass doors.
    Dark Alder finish.
    Overall Dimensions: 33 1/8″ W x 15 5/8″ D x 47 1/8″ H (84.1cm W x 39.6cm D x 119.8cm H)

    What I think I’ll do is order the lower file cabinet and see how it matches the kitchen bar and dining room furnishings. I can then order the top hutch, if it’s what I want. If it doesn’t match well, I can just put it in the M.B.R.

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    Short Packing List

    I have packed everything for the my move south. For the plane, I have two large suitcases, John’s ashes and a carry-on bag ready. I can still load in a little last minute stuff in one of the suitcases but I’m done for now.

    I do have a major concern about the moving van. The van company had promised to call me before noon Friday, then it was Saturday, and then I was promised it would be Sunday but it didn’t happen. They are supposed to be coming either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to pick up my load. Obviously there’s still time, but I don’t like having them tell me on Saturday that they’ll definitely call by noon on Sunday and then they don’t. (And in fact they were supposed to call by noon on Friday, then Saturday, and their Sunday deadline.)

    I get on the plane Monday, the 23rd. That doesn’t give me a lot of leeway. I am certain my transportation to the airport will come. I’m sure of my ride from Tampa International to my condo. I don’t want to worry about a moving van arriving within what is becoming a narrow window.

    I don’t know what I’ll do if the van doesn’t come by mid-week. I can’t just hang around. (I have a contract with the estate folks that says I won’t be in the house after Monday, the 23rd.)

    I could probably squeeze a little more into my suitcases, and in fact, I told the van company that I’d have four bags, but I only have three so I’m in great shape.

    I will be outta here in seven days plus a few hours.

    I do have something important to report. I got a cash offer on the house. I’m a little disappointed that it isn’t more but it’ll do. I guess I’m lucky to unload it so quickly. If they agree to my “final offer,” I’ll take the money and head south.

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    It’s a family trait

    My mom and dad drank too much. Dad’s health was compromised because of his excessive drinking and he died at 66 with an enlarged heart. (Which I understand is often caused by heavy drinking.) His grandfather and mother were also drinkers.

    Mom stopped drinking completely about 15 years before she died. Her doctor had told her that her liver was damaged and she listened to him.

    Since alcoholism seems to be an inherited trait, what about me?

    I do love my wine and enjoy beer with some foods, but I’ve been cutting back considerably. If I have anything alcoholic, it’s only with dinner and I’ll have ONE glass of wine or one beer. NONE the rest of the time.

    Last night I went to the Moose lodge while my house was being shown by a realtor. (I know it’s best if I stay away while the client is touring.) The Moose provides me with a quiet place I can sit and read. Most night’s there’s a food special. Tonight I wanted to enjoy their walleye which is the best I’ve ever eaten.

    John and I used to drink a pitcher of beer with our Moose walleye dinner, but I’ve found one glass is sufficient with my meal.

    Especially since I have to do the driving, I sure don’t want to be impaired in any way.

    I bought a bottle of wine when I still had a couple weeks until I move south. But now I’m in the position of having only ONE week left and the wine is unopened. Oh, well, maybe I can find someone who likes white zin.

    Do I miss “drinking”? No. I’m aware that one drink isn’t excessive but often I don’t bother. I drink my coffee in the morning and have juice and lemonade in the fridge but my favorite beverage is ice water in my insulated stainless glass.

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    Tear-y Day

    Maybe it’s because I’m such a short-timer in my lovely home that I’m experiencing tears today. Or maybe because it’s exactly two months ago that I lost John. For whatever reason, I have lump in my throat that won’t go away.

    I know John loved it so much here and somehow I feel almost disloyal for selling the house. Logically, I know I can’t keep it. (And he knew that I’d need to sell it asap.) I’m just not strong enough to do the work necessary to keep it looking good, but it’s still difficult.

    I know that in my present mood, I could easily fall into a funk, so when I get to Florida, I’m going to stay busy with fun activities. I don’t want to “get depressed.” It’s just not in my nature to be sad.

    I’ve always said that John and I lived the “good life.” Even when he was very ill, I felt that we were fortunate to have each other and our wonderful Florida friends. I lost John, but I have wonderful memories. John lived to be 80 which is a longer than what is expected. Somehow, that doesn’t help. I’m feeling extra blue today.

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    Second Thoughts

    I’m having mixed feelings about selling my house. I have been really anxious to get back to my condo in Florida, but suddenly I’m realizing that when I sell it, it’ll be gone! This whole phase of my life will be over.

    Yes, it’ll be a relief, but it is a very pleasant home (especially now that it’s clean and looking good.) I’ll never dreamed I’d have such a lovely residence and I’m giving it up. Sure I could hang on to it, but I don’t want the work. The upkeep is just too much for one person. (In fact even when John was with me, it was difficult for the two of us and things weren’t kept up.)

    In Florida, I can have an easy life, but I’ll miss family and friends. (Although I do have lots more friends in Kings Point.) I’ll miss my hair dresser and the neighbors (even if I don’t know them very well.) I’ll miss the view of our lake!

    The photo is taken from across the lake looking back at our home. You can barely see it because of all the trees. We’re a little right of center with a spruce very near the water on the shoreline.

    So I’m having mixed emotions. I do love the house and with elbow grease it’s looking better than it’s looked in years. I know I can’t keep it. It’s way too big for one person so I just rattle around in it and feel lonely. I know if I stay and the solitude sinks in even more, I won’t be able to keep an optimistic attitude. Even John had realized we needed to be in Florida. He hated to sell it but I am sure the house would have gone on the market as soon as we could get it ready even if John was here.

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    Said good-bye to Becca

    Becca was my cleaning lady on five different dates since the end of June. She was recommended by my realtor and I couldn’t have had a better fit. She was a hard-worker at a decent price. She’d arrive with her vacuum, polishes, and dust clothes, and she’d work hard and the place responded.

    I enjoyed her company. She was friendly and open. I could tell she liked me too. We became not just employee and employer but also friends.

    I’m sorry that today was the last time I’ll see her.

    I invited her to come to Florida, stay at my place, be my cleaning person in Florida and have her carpenter husband build me the closets I need in my office area.

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    Spending for more convenience

    Yesterday my dear friends, Linda and Wayne, helped me pack all the stuff to go in the moving van. The collection of bins, suitcases, and boxes looks really good, compact, and very secure.

    But last night instead of sleeping I worried about having too many additional items to go to Florida and no packing space left.

    I have everything from a pizza cutter, pen & base, coffee, my undies, my bras, and several clothing items plus a pair of sandals (in addition to what I’m wearing on the plane.) I also have make-up, curling irons x 2, electric tooth brush x 2 and charging base, bottle of advil & zyrtec, etc. I will probably find more I’ll want to take and all my bags are full.

    Now for the good news: Today I sold my lap harp and gave the Webster dulcimer that was water damaged to the same lady. I also decided to give the harp John built to the leader of Jolly Hammers dulcimer club (provided I hear back from her). I will also put Tom Loper’s dulcimer in the sales area at the ODPC Funfest. I sold my extra autoharp to my friend, Gwyn, and she’ll take all the above mentioned instruments to the festival. I should make $615 from the sale of them and maybe more if I sell Tom Loper’s instrument. (I’m asking $200 to start out.)

    If I don’t hear from the Jolly Hammers leader, unfortunately the dulcimer won’t be transported to Evart. It’s not worth much anyway and I don’t want Gwyn to get stuck with it. She’s good enough to take the harp and the damaged dulcimer.

    But selling the instruments didn’t help my worry about having too many items left to pack and no way to get them to Florida. So I went shopping. I bought new luggage. I purchased a 25″ and a 21″ spinner suitcases from Amazon as well as a matching (purple) carry-on tote.

    My plan is to put everything from my old to-be-checked suitcases (one gray and one floral) in the new spinner bags. They new ones will definitely hold more, so maybe everything will fit in them including the extras I haven’t packed. Additionally, I bought a carry-on wheeled tote. My small computer will fit in it with lots of extra space. The tote will hopefully fit under the seat in front of me (or it might be a couple inches too tall to slide in there so I might have to put it in the over-head). I checked the comments and one writer said, “Fits under the seat of regional flights.” I won’t know until I try. I did pay for “extra” space around my seat. But I’ll have space in the tote for the over-flow from the suitcases and it has wheels when I go from terminal to terminal And if I still don’t have room for extra clothes, I’ll use the gray older bag and add it to the stuff to go in the van. (I’ll need to pack everything prior to the van picking things up so I have accounted for everything.)

    I figured it out and I will have about 1,800 cubic inches more packing space which is about half the size of either of the old suitcases I had previously planned to use I won’t need to check a third bag which would probably cost $50-$150 (or even more by USPS). I’m sure I can make everything fit. If I can’t, I’ll start eliminating. Example: I’m bring a knife block but I could leave it behind. I have a heavy velour top which could stay behind. I don’t need all the old tops I hadn’t planned to bring but now I’ve added to the “take” list. There’s a big instructional book which I’ve packed (for learning Lotus). It will be one of the first things I’ll take out of I’m short on space.

    I feel I’m dealing with all the contingencies in hopes that there are no surprises.

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    At condo 20 days from today

    I am a little concerned.

    I have hired an on-line moving company (Open Road Moving) and I’ve now discovered that some of their reviews are negative (while many others give them high marks). It’ll be a disaster if they let me down and don’t show up on time.

    The moving van should arrive to pick up my stuff the 16th, 17th, or 18th. I changed the possible pick-up dates from the 18th, 19th and 20th so that should give me a little leeway in case they are a day or so late but I sure hope everything goes as planned.

    They’ll call me about the 13th discuss the load date and what I’ll owe. I’ll need to have two money orders. One for when they pick up my stuff and another when they deliver it to my condo.

    I am hoping my items will be loaded on the 16th or 17th. That way I can review the house and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything and if necessary, I can pack another box containing stuff I’ve forgotten and check it for the flight to Florida. (Or maybe I’ll mail it via USPS to myself.)

    When the moving truck picks up my load, they’ll tell me when I should expect delivery in Florida. Hopefully it’ll be after the 23rd so I’ll be there. If not, I’ll call Nick Zazula (a good KP friend) and he’s said he will let them in my condo.

    They’ve promised they’ll remove the current headboard from my bed here in Michigan and install it on my Florida condo bed. I don’t know where I’ll want the coffee table placed in the condo, but they can temporarily put it in front of the sliders in the great room.

    I’m supposed to give them the final payment in a money order on safe delivery of everything so hopefully I’ll be there. It’s hard to contemplate all problems that could occur, but I hope to be prepared. (If they tell me they’ll be delivering my load before I get there, I can over-night the payment to Nick.)

    On the 21st of July, I want to invite neighbors to stop over and take any canned and/or frozen goods they can use from my pantry. The 22nd at 1 pm, I’ll join John’s siblings for dinner at the Showboat in Chesaning. The next day, the 23rd at 4:30 am, I’ll be picked up by the limo with my two suitcases and John’s ashes.

    So I think I’ve planned for every contingency. (At least I hope I have.)

    (Good thing I’m a planner. I try to review every detail and arrange any back-up details that will make it work.)

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    The house is ready

    Becca, my sweet, hard-working house cleaning person, finished up Wednesday. She’ll be back just before it starts being shown (July 9th) to make sure every little thing is polished and ready.

    Now that we’ve finished, I’m anxious to leave. I find I just mess things up.

    Wayne and Linda Conklin will be coming for a brief stay starting Monday. It’ll be nice to be able to visit them. They’ll distract me and maybe with their help we I can get a few more things ready.

    One thing I hope to do is to take each packed bag or bin and list the important items in it so I’ll know if anything is missing when the van delivers my stuff in Florida.

    It’ll take a while to re-organize everything but I hope to gain a little space. I decided to add my sharp knives to my packing list (since we don’t have many good ones at the condo), but at this point I can’t take the knife block they fit into. In fact it’ll be tough packing some remaining items on my list including two crushable hats, my Berkinstock sandals, very small cast iron frying pan, new stainless drinking glass, medicines, panties and a few freshly washed items, big pizza cutter, John’s photo, Cross pen with holder, three pair scissors, wine cork remover, two charging cords which are in use, my big, blue St Mary’s mug, and a zip lock bag of coffee.

    I’m sure with some strategic packing methods, I’ll find a little room.

    I’ve also called the heating company to have them work on the A/C because when it’s hot outside, it’s miserable on the second floor. That could be a real downer when the house is shown (and the temps are supposed to be really high next week). In fact I think I’ve decided to replace the A/C unit. It’s given us over 30 years of faithful service but it’s undersized for the house and it’s always hot on the second floor. It’ll be a $3,500+ expense but a hot house will be a negative while a new A/C will be a selling point.

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    With John’s Brothers & Sisters

    Today was the Skaryd monthly dinner. They’ll hold one next month on July the 22nd so I can go. (Very thoughtful of them.)

    After we had dinner, all of us went over to the property where John’s folks’ home used to be located. It was where John grew up. Each of John’s siblings (and the spouses who were there) sprinkled some of John’s ashes on the land. Then we went to the cemetery where his parents’ graves are located and did the “ash sprinkling” again.

    John was such a wonderful guy and his family is also remarkable. I gave each family member something which had belonged to John.

    To Barb, the upright bass; to Suzie, a 22 pistol; to David and Robert one for each of their grandfather’s large wagon wheels (he’d made them); and to Jerry, the hunting land plus John’s rifle in it’s case. I think everyone was satisfied. I feel I did what John would have liked.

    I still haven’t figured out what I can do with some of the extra instruments we have accumulated but I’m working on it. I’m thinking the small harp may have to go with me to Florida and I’ll try to sell it down there.

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    I cried in the car

    Today I went to John’s nephew’s dental office to have my teeth cleaned. I said good-bye to those who have provided me with excellent dental care for years. It was sad getting hugs from everyone. After I left the dentist’s office, I sat in the car and cried.

    I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be back to Michigan. I hate to think of losing those who were important to us in Michigan.

    I will especially miss John’s brothers and sisters. They are my only “family” in this area, except for my brother Denny. And I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. (He doesn’t like to fly and won’t drive to Florida. Besides he lives in the U.P. most of the time.)

    Sunday is one of the Skaryd sibling dinners. Will it be my last with them? I sure hope not. Maybe I can talk some to visit me in Florida.

    Next week I will face the same thing I faced in the dental office with my beautician. I’ve used her services for probably 20 years! She’s a friend.

    And there are all our music friends. Maybe I can make it back to Evart next year. I can’t look that far ahead.

    It’s really hitting me. A lot of folks are special to me. Yes, I’ll have my wonderful Florida group, but I don’t want to lose the others.

    I’m sure I’m going to have to come back next year to “visit.” I can’t just walk away from all these wonderful friends and relatives.

    I lost John, but I’m realizing how I’m losing a lot more than just my wonderful husband. I am also leaving behind lots of great friends.

    John and I had withdrawn from most friend contacts with others. He was just to sick to get out and about. Thank heavens our Florida friends saw what was happening and realized we didn’t have a choice. We were together 24/7. But in Michigan, we really didn’t have a chance to be close to folks after John’s retirement from being the chairman of the Michigan Dulcimer Festival. After I retired from workshops at Evart we were even more isolated. For several years we hung out with a group of folks who liked country music. It was fun and we tried to join them once or twice a week. But the last two years, John couldn’t dance so we didn’t go.

    We did get to spend an evening every month we were in Michigan going to a Skaryd sibling dinner. I will miss Suzie & C.T., Barb & Norm, Jerry & Marie, Robert & Linda, and David & Yong.

    I guess I just have to concentrate on Florida friends. And maybe I can talk folks into visiting me in Florida.

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    Stress Reliever

    I hired Becca yesterday to help me get this place cleaned and in order. She’ll start Saturday. We’re going to clean and organize the hot tub room first. That’ll give us a place to use for a “staging area.” I’ll need to divide the items into three piles: (1) for the estate sale, (2) for pick-up by the moving company and (3) going on the plane.

    I still need to take some (rolled) coins to the bank, take recyclable cans to the store, take some stuff to be donated, and drop off two instruments at a school. I also need to decide what to do with the stained glass clock. Do I UPS it or find a box and let the van take it?

    Today I had my teeth cleaned, Sunday I’ll go to a monthly Skaryd family dinner, and next Tuesday I’ll have a beauty shop appointment. Seems strange but the dental cleaning and beauty shop visits will probably be the last times for those activities with these folks since I’ll be moving permanently in 33 days. (I hope the monthly dinner is held early in July.) I’ve gone to this beautician for many years and I love the way she cuts my hair. I’ve invited her to Florida but doubt that I’ll ever see her again.

    After I left the dentist’s office, I sat in the car and cried. I hate to think of losing those who were important to us in Michigan. I will really miss John’s family. They are my only “family” in this area, except for my brother Denny. I even wonder if I’ll ever see him.

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    I’m Lazy

    I hate all the work that’s staring me in the face. I have barely put a dent in it and time’s running out.

    Today my sister-in-law Barb and her guy (Norm) are coming over to pick-up the upright bass. I need to ask them if they can transport the handmade wheels which are being used as decoration in front of our house for brothers Robert and David.

    I hope the great room is done when they get here. I’ll relocate all the stuff to be shipped by the mover to the hot tub room. (I now call it the staging area). At least it’ll look better and be easier to clean around. Next the dining room will need to be finished. Master bedroom is messy but once the bins which are to be shipped go to the staging area it’ll be better.

    Tomorrow I’ll go to my lawyer’s office. I’ll also drop off John’s prescription meds for disposal, and see about shredding some old tax records. (Maybe at my lawyer’s office.)

    I wish I could get to the point where I can relax. I’ve had months and months of stress. I feel exhausted each day before doing anything. I don’t have a choice. In two weeks the Conklins will arrive and stay a few days. In three weeks the house must be available to be shown. THREE WEEKS!! DOESN’T SOUND POSSIBLE!

    My only hope is to find a cleaning company or person to come in and clean away all the dirt and dust. Then the clutter will be easier to manage. It needs to be done before the 9th of July.

    I leave for Florida in 36 days. Coincidentally it was 36 days ago that John died. The time has gone past in a blur but it also seems like it’s been dragging since I’m anxious to move past this period when everything is upheaval and head south to tranquillity.

    When I get to the condo, my work won’t be finished. I want to immediately find someone to build storage in the office/former utility room area so I’ll have some place to hide the stuff I’m bringing and stuff that I want to store away. Everything needs to be organized. The garage has too much in it. A lot can be donated or sold but a lot can be put in the new closets/cupboards/pantries. It may take months but baby steps should do it. (And each day, I plan to take a break and go to the pool or to exercise.)

    If I don’t let it get ahead of me, I can probably keep it up. I may need a cleaning person, but if so, I’ll hire help. I don’t want to live in confusion and chaos. Leaving our home every few months was a recipe for the mind-boggling problem we created.

    I wish near the end John had taken more time for enjoyment. I know he wasn’t up to doing much, but the fun in our lives had stopped. I need to have it resume.

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    Packing is not so easy

    I thought I had everything figured out but I believe I’ll do things a little differently.

    I listed two stained glass items: a clock and a lamp. Both are hard to pack safely so I’m thinking about taking them to UPS to have them wrap and ship them.

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    Enough!

    I just want it to be over! I want to be in Florida. I’m ready to start the next phase of my life.

    Everything here in my Michigan home reflects on the past and although my time with John provides great memories, I realize that in order to be content with the remainder of my life I have to look forward.

    I know it’s only been a month but I’ve been totally alone with my grief. I don’t want to stay here and let it bog me down. I want to be with friends, I want to meet new friends (especially other widows). Maybe I’ll do some volunteer work and I want to accomplish some things John and I planned to do to our Florida condo.

    The sooner I leave this place, the sooner I can break the hold of encompassing sadness. Sure I’ll still have an empty spot that will never be filled, but I don’t want this shroud to become my way of life. I’ve been experiencing 24/7 isolation and I’m ready to go to the next phase.

    I want to be with people, with sunshine, and I won’t mind the heat that goes with it. (Every morning is chilly here and we’ve had lots of overcast days.) I will still be grieving, but I’ll have more tools to deal with it. I’ve had solo time long enough. 32 days of total isolation is ENOUGH!

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    I actually feel I accomplished a lot today

    Almost all of my clothes are packed or ready to go in a bin or suitcase. I figured out how to take four framed pictures/art pieces south. (I’ll take them to Coopers Frame Shop and have the glass replaced with acrylic so I don’t have to worry as much about breakage.) I found a box to hold a lamp. I still need to find a way to box up a stained glass clock and a glass globe. The harp will be covered with a sleeping bag or quilt.

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    John’s Death Certificate

    I finally got around to reading the “cause of death” on the death certificate. It says: 1. Acute Respiratory Failure (one hour); 2. Extensive Pulmonary Fibrosis (many years); Chronic Hypoxia (many years).

    Respiratory failure means that you don’t have enough oxygen in your blood. This is ultimately fatal unless treated. Pulmonary fibrosis destroys the lungs ability to function. Chronic hypoxia is the lack of oxygen.

    He died of oxygen starvation. So sad!

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    Departure Plans

    So many things going on. Signed contract to have an estate sale on August 4th and 5th. Their workers will help me pack up/sort through stuff July 16-18. The dates are firmly set. I have to be out of the house by July 23rd. I have a flight out of Saginaw early (6:00 a.m.) on the 23rd. I will get a ride to the airport from a shuttle service (already booked to be picked up at 4:30 a.m.) Tomorrow I’ll arrange for my ride from Tampa International to Sun City Center. I should arrive before noon which means I should be home at my condo by about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, July 23rd.

    Only problem is the cost of shipping my items by moving van. In the end I found a van line which will transport all my stuff for $1,491.67. Quite a difference from the original $4,200-$4,800 estimate. It pays to shop around!!

    Ron Ringenback and John were super close. Ron volunteered to pick me up about noon on the 23rd. He wanted to do it for John so I agreed. Ron’s a super nice guy!

    I have to keep the weight of my shipment below 2,000 pounds. I have a lot of rules to follow: bubble wrap for glass items, TV boxes for a TV set, and other rules. I’ll try to comply. I need to figure it all out. But I did enough today. I’m tired.

    Today, in addition to working out the van deal, I drove to St. Charles to get a new title for the Malibu and then I went to Chase Bank to drop off the key to the safety deposit box. I ended up at the Moose for walleye. Not as good as I’d hoped but I had to have a Moose fish dinner.

    I am totally overwhelmed by what needs to be done. I think the first thing is to load two suitcases to haul clothes and stuff back to Florida on the plane. (I’ll try everything on first and make sure I can wear them.) I also need to figure out how to pack the stuff for van shipment. It’ll take some planning, but I can handle it over the next 45 days.

    I need to get things organized but if I concentrate it should work.

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    Forgetting

    Why am I forgetting stuff?

    I’ve had so much on my mind that what I did the first week or so after I lost John is a blurr. I should have written down more.

    Example: I notified our health insurances or did I? (As it turned out I notified some but the vision and dental plans were difficult and after being bumped around, I gave up. Finally yesterday I successfully finished.)

    I keep adding to the stuff I want to take south. Once items are gone, I won’t be able to get them back. I will pay a price to haul them south, but it still might be better than being sorry. If I end up not using them, I can always get rid of them in Florida.

    An example is the small computer stand in my dining room here.

    When I get to Florida, I want to have cabinets/closets built into what I have considered my “office” and maybe add a pretty curio cabinet in the dining room. I don’t know exactly when or what things will happen. I may need to relocate the printer which is currently in the dining room. The little stand that I’m using now is perfect for the printer. It could fit in the dining room, kitchen (where John’s oxygen used to fit), or one of the bedrooms. It would be a shame to leave it here then struggle to find a cabinet for the printer.

    I have also decided to take my sewing machine and its cabinet. The one I currently have in Florida was my mom’s and I can’t figure out how it works.

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    I shared with the harplist

    For nearly 20 years I have owned/moderated a phenominal email list called the “harplist.” It’s an active community of harp players/lovers.

    One of the members sent me this prayer.

    When you lose someone you love,
    Your life becomes strange,
    The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
    Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
    And some dead echo drags your voice down
    Where words have no confidence
    Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
    And though this loss has wounded others too,
    No one knows what has been taken from you
    When the silence of absence deepens.

    Flickers of guilt kindle regret
    For all that was left unsaid or undone.

    There are days when you wake up happy;
    Again inside the fullness of life,
    Until the moment breaks
    And you are thrown back
    Onto the black tide of loss.
    Days when you have your heart back,
    You are able to function well
    Until in the middle of work or encounter,
    Suddenly with no warning,
    You are ambushed by grief.

    It becomes hard to trust yourself.
    All you can depend on now is that
    Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
    More than you, it knows its way
    And will find the right time
    To pull and pull the rope of grief
    Until that coiled hill of tears
    Has reduced to its last drop.

    Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
    With the invisible form of your departed;
    And when the work of grief is done,
    The wound of loss will heal
    And you will have learned
    To wean your eyes
    From that gap in the air
    And be able to enter the hearth
    In your soul where your loved one
    Has awaited your return
    All the time.

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    So much to do but no desire to do it

    I know I have a lot to do. I should be bustling around working hard but instead I’m sitting here, feeling lazy.

    I vow that the minimum I’ll complete today will be to get the dining room organized. I also need to work on the bedroom.

    I’m kind of lost until I’m told (Thursday) how to get stuff ready to head south. Will they provide boxes? How will the boxes get to Florida? What about the harp? I’d also like the headboard and the walnut coffee table that is upstairs. How much will this cost?

    Today I’d like to deposit the $12,225 from the sale of the truck and RV to my savings account. I suppose I could wait but it’ll get me moving.

    I could do some laundry. The washing machine will do all the work, but I’ll feel like I’m accomplishing something. I also need to clean the oven, but when I do that, I don’t want to be breathing in the fumes. I need to be able to open up the house.

    Maybe I should get started.

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    Two problems SOLVED!

    Early this morning, an RV repair guy (Andy from Black Bear RV) came to help me get the slide on the RV to work so I could sell it. I told him I wasn’t interested in making big bucks, but I need to get rid of it. I also showed him the truck and he ended up buying BOTH!

    I sold them both for a total of $12,250! I’m satisfied. John had said he’d give the RV with the truck. And the Kelly Blue Book price for the truck was less than the price I got for both so it was a good deal for him and a decent deal for me.

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    Where do I start?

    I’m meeting with the estate service a week from today. I am unsure about what they’ll do for me so I’m kind of on hold. I started making a list of stuff I want to keep. There’s more than I thought.

    The one area that has me stumped is the china cabinet. I would like to keep some of the stuff from it, but if I do, I’ll need a cabinet in Florida which will match my condo’s furnishings. It might take a while. Eventually I can find something but it needs to be the right piece and until then, the stuff will be boxed up. (And that’s a dangerous practice to get started.)

    First major Florida project is to get the “office” converted to storage. (John and I planned to have someone build-in closets and cabinets this past winter, but his health didn’t permit us to start anything.) Additional storage will allow me to have a place to put what I bring from Michigan.

    I’d also like to fix or replace the kitchen cabinets. (Again, John and I planned to tackle them but we postponed it this year.) Maybe with a kitchen renovation, more cabinets can be added along the wall where the current “bar area” is located. I don’t want more stuff, but I’d like to be able to conveniently store what I have.

    I have other renovations and purchases in mind but they will happen slowly.

    I definitely need new bar stools asap and new love seats for the great room TV area. But I don’t want to settle for something that’s only sorta ok. (That’s what’s there now.) I want knock your socks off perfect!

    There are also outdoor projects that John hadn’t felt needed to go on our priority list. I’d like to extend the roof over the back patio and brick the driveway and the sidewalk.

    I can’t be too hasty. I see things we did wrong in our first round of condo renovations. (Example: I HATE our tile floors. I’d like to do wood in the great room — but that’s someday. Not right now.)

    I will eventually purge a lot of stuff from the condo. I need to get stuff out of the attic and get rid of it. The garage needs to be cleaned out.

    Believe me, I’m not up to any heavy work, but I can hire someone to do it.

    When we first saw the condo, the lady who lived in it had used the dining room as a den/TV area. I now understand that with only one person, a dining room is kind of a waste of space. I won’t do anything right away, but maybe converting that area to a comfy spot to use during the evenings might suit me better than what’s there now. Or maybe I’ll move a TV into the guest room/music room and spend time there. I don’t want to live only in one room.

    I don’t want to eliminate a place to dine, but will I ever use it? I guess time will tell. Maybe a folding table and chairs can serve as a dining area, if I need it.

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    My conversations with John

    Please don’t think I’m “losing it” but most every night I share my thoughts with John. I often talk to him out loud. It calms me.

    Maybe he can’t hear me, but I’d prefer to think he can. I love him so much. I didn’t know how much until I lost him.

    I still think in the terms of the present. He’s here smiling at me every day, even if it’s from the frame of the photo on the table in front of me. I’m so glad I picked that photo. I tell him how “pretty” he is. (When I would say that to him, he’d say guys aren’t pretty. He was.)

    Funny but I just had a strange sensation. I “felt” him next to me. I really thought I’d turn and see him. Of course it didn’t happen, but for a few seconds, I felt like he was in his regular spot at the other end of the couch. Sure would be nice if he was still here. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to being alone.

    I still say “our” house, car, plans. I still think in terms of “we,” and “us,” not I or me. Will it ever change?

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    Changes

    Today a tree service will take down a bunch of unneeded trees. It had been John’s plan to get rid of two near the street but I added several fruit trees and a half-dead red bud. The red bud is diseased. The apple trees haven’t produced edible fruit for years because we were never here early enough to spring spray them and then we’d leave for the south before we could pick them. The mess under the trees was difficult to manage.

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    Sleeping has been difficult

    Since my loss of John, I head to bed about 10:30 p.m. and usually fall asleep fairly quickly but I wake up about 1:30 a.m. From then until about 4:00 a.m. I’m lucky if I doze. Too much time to think about the change in my life. Almost always I wake up about 4:00. Sometimes I’m able to sleep a bit more but I’ve been getting up about 6:30.

    I have no energy nor motivation. Yes, I want to be back in Florida but I don’t have the house ready for selling. I need to get busy.

    I can think of lots of excuses: my back aches, I have to go to shopping, it’s too hot, I don’t feel good.

    Little by little I’m gaining ground. I think the best solution is to pick an area and finish it completely. First I’ll tackle the great room, then the dining room, and the master bedroom. When finished those projects will make a decent impact. Tomorrow I hope to work on these rooms. If I take the next week to organize and clean the first floor, hopefully it’ll feel cleaner and less cluttered.

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    Computer

    I bought a new Surface Book 2 computer/tablet after the hard drive died. I also paid $50+ to fix the old Lenovo computer with a new drive, but I decided to buy a new one anyway.

    It was a pricey decision. I don’t know what I was thinking, but it had to do with something to keep my mind off my loss and loss of faith in the Lenovo.

    I think I’ll really like the Surface. I don’t plan to work with setting up the Lenovo until I have the Surface as I want it. I may end up selling the Lenovo, but that’ll be decided later. If I sell it for $100-$200, it’ll be a deal for anyone who buys it, but maybe I’ll keep it as a backup computer.

    I picked them up yesterday and spent the evening trying to get the Surface running the way I want. There’s still lots to do. All of my programs are in Florida. I could have had Wayne Conklin send them to me, but I figure I can get by with Microsoft Office, and I bought a CD program for Lotus on eBay. It’ll be here early next week. I wish I had that one because it’s one I use the most but in three days I’ll have it.

    It’s running good enough that I can go ahead with other chores around here: laundry, cleaning, etc. Already tired.

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    Enough!

    I’ve been trying to keep my outlook upbeat but yesterday my computer wouldn’t start. up. I finally took it to the Geek Squad. It cost me $200. They assured me it can be repaired. Hopefully I’ll have it about Friday.

    Strange thing — When my mom died my computer quit. I ended up having to buy a new one. Maybe this time it’ll be a little less costly.

    While I was at Best Buy I talked to the cellphone department about the best upgrade for mine. Maybe I’ll do it.

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    Something You Get Through

    A Florida Friend sent me Willie Nelson’s latest tune. It was so appropriate for me. I keep playing it over and over.

    Here are the lyrics:

    Something You Get Through

    Willie Nelson

    When you lose the one you love
    You think your world has ended
    You think your world will be a waste of life
    Without them in it

    You feel there’s no way to go on
    Life is just a sad, sad song
    But love is bigger than us all
    The end is not the end at all

    It’s not somethin’ you get over
    But it’s somethin’ you get through
    It’s not ours to be taken
    It’s just a thing we get to do
    Life goes on and on
    And when it’s gone
    It lives in someone new
    It’s not somethin’ you get over
    But it’s somethin’ you get through

    It’s not somethin’ you get over
    But it’s somethin’ you get through
    It’s not ours to be taken
    It’s a thing we get to do

    Life goes on and on
    And when it’s gone
    It lives in someone new
    It’s not somethin’ you get over
    But it’s somethin’ you get through
    It’s not somethin’ you get over
    But it’s somethin’ you get through

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    Without John!

    I can’t believe he’s gone. He was the love of my life. He was a wonderful husband and I couldn’t have done better. I was so fortunate to spend nearly 33 years as his wife.

    The responsibilities of his care the past few months weighed on me, but I didn’t mind. He generally accepted his situation with grace and dignity. Yes, there were times when he got a little moody, but he was always apologetic when he realized I was doing my best.

    Here are the notes I put together for Tom Bradley (who will officiate at John’s memorial) to use when creating his service. Here are the memories I chose to share.

    I don’t know much about John’s youth. I know he followed his brother Jerry everywhere. He was in the Czech dancers group here in Bannister and a member of ZCBJ. He graduated from Elsie High School in 1956. He liked playing baseball and football and his plan was to learn to fly a plane. He was in the air force reserves during the Cuban missile crisis.

    John loved the time he spent with his dad, his brother Jerry, and sometimes other relatives and friends hunting in the Upper Peninsula. He’d tell me stories of the long lines waiting for a ferry to take them across the straights and hiding their “kills” so no one would know about their successes. And he also hunted in Bannister, which was also where be picked out and cut our Christmas trees for many years.

    I met John at a Parents Without Partners meeting at Swan Creek Banquet Center. He was standing with one of his friends on the sidelines. I couldn’t help but notice him. He was tall, good looking, and definitely stood out.

    Funny thing: I had mentioned to one of my co-workers at St. Mary’s Hospital that I was going to the meeting of single elgible adults. (I’d been single for many years.) I kiddingly said, “I’ll go the meeting and hopefully fall in love.” The next morning she asked me if it had happened. My reply was, “Maybe.”

    Our first date a few days after that first meeting was dinner at the Michigan House on Bay Road and it was memorable. I’d been given a cat by another “boyfriend.” John and I spent a good share of the evening spraying the cat for fleas. (And NO, I hadn’t wanted a cat especially one that was flea infested.)

    We’d met in December 1981. In January 1982, I found out I had a brain tumor (an acoustic neuroma on my brain stem). Even though we hadn’t known each other very long, I leaned on John to get through this health crisis. When I had to fly to Los Angeles in June for the surgery to remove it, John was with me. He didn’t want me to be alone.

    We didn’t get married until September 1985, but we were a couple more than three years longer than that and I enjoyed the Skaryd family. Everyone was so welcoming.

    Our life was great right from the beginning. We built our lovely home on tiny Lake Cecil in Thomas Township and moved in just before Christmas, December 1986. It was just what we wanted!

    John’s career as an Air Traffic Controller in the Federal Government’s Flight Service at Tri-City Airport ended in 1988. They moved his job to Lansing. He could have followed his job or retired. At only 50, he chose to retire.

    For a new career, we purchased a historic apartment building (with two businesses on the first floor and eight rental apartments on the second). It was from Lincoln’s time and located in downtown Saginaw next to the Fordney Hotel. John took on the task of renovating it with new bathrooms, kitchens, furnaces, windows, and exterior brick repair.

    When he bought the building, the eight low-income apartments on the second floor were fully occupied. One of the apartments came with Ben Parrish, a mentally changed older man.

    John soon realized that whenever Ben received his monthly govenment check, he was a mark for the neighborhood thugs to rob him of what he had. Ben’s money would be gone within a few days and he had nothing to eat. John volunteered to become his payee representative and helped Ben survive. He would take Ben shopping, to the barber shop, and spent time with him. They both benefited. He managed his affairs so carefully that Ben actually built up a nest egg.

    Sadly three years after buying the building in 1991, most of that Saginaw historic city block burned down including our building. John had just finished with the renovation. It was complete and then it was a pile of rubble.

    All residents were rescued, but they all lost everything. Most could handle the loss, but Ben was in dire need. John solicited charities and got Ben everything he needed to furnish a new apartment. Ben continued to be John’s responsibility for several more years.

    Without the building, John was again retired.

    A month later we went to a music festival in Evart, MI, on July 20th, 1991, and we were hooked by the music of the hammered dulcimer. From then on John used any extra time he had to learn to play this wonderful instrument. We both took it up, but John’s abilities quickly exceeded mine and I soon realized I could never play up to his level. I then took up the autoharp to enhance his playing.

    Before long, we were deeply involved in the Michigan music community. We joined a music club in Midland, one in Chesaning, and one in Saginaw. When the directors of the Saginaw group gave up their role, John and I took over and ran the club for the next 20 years. The club was called Saginaw Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club. We performed frequently. We had about 50 members and played an average of once a week throughout the area. It was great fun. John was a super leader. For 20 years, we presented three concerts each summer in Haithco Park and a huge two-day SnowFest concert in Frankenmuth, Michigan. John handled all the sound equipment as well as leading the music jams.

    After the retirement of Bill Kuhlman, founding chairman of the Midland Dulcimer Festival, John became a co-chairman of that event and held the role for eight years. This was the second largest dulcimer festival in the U.S.

    In 1995, I became the workshop chairman and webmaster for the world’s largest hammered dulcimer club, the ODPC Funfest. It was a role I kept until 2015 (20 years). Without John and his understanding support, I couldn’t have done that job. He lead the one-on-one classes and he’d set up the workshop areas. I needed his help, and he was always there, hauling water for the “workshop leader rest area” or helping anyone who needed him.

    John lost both his parents within six months in 2001. All the siblings worked together to keep his dad comfortable.

    For many years, John’s best friend was George Horny. George had a polka band, the NuTones, which included John on tenor banjo. Like John, George also grew grapes and together they made wine, worked on stained glass, cooked, canned, and made music on Monday nights in George’s barn. George died in 2016. John had lost his best friend!

    In addition to playing banjo with George, he also played with the Flint Banjo Club. Riding on their floats and performing with them.

    In October 2008, we purchased a condo in Kings Point, the gated part of Sun City Center, Florida. We enjoyed taking ballroom dance lessons and then the more informal country couples style of dancing. John was a great dancer. We danced at least once or twice a week. We had so much fun as a couple. We were part of Oldies but Goodies, and the Baby Boomers, two groups which hold frequent dances and parties. We also helped with the Kings Point Michigan Club. John was always one of the hardest workers. Even this year in February, he was busy serving beer at the Michigan Club’s huge pizza party while he wore his oxygen.

    Even after his 2009 diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (a progressive disease with a three to five-year life expectancy in 97% of cases), he continued to work with me on all our fun social events. Finally, as his lung disease became more limiting, he passed the baton to others and retired from leadership positions. It was just too much for him.

    John’s work ethic was unmatched. He’d wear his oxygen with a filter mask as he mowed the yard and picked grapes for the wine he made at our Saginaw home. He’d ride on his handicapped scooter to power wash the sidewalks and driveway at our Florida condo. He was a worker and wouldn’t give up.

    Even in October 2017, I helped him pick his grapes so he could make another batch of wine which he brought in large carboys to Florida with us.

    (Cute story: A few years ago, John brought several plastic carboys of freshly made wine in the back of our truck. Every time we stopped, I swore I could smell wine. When we got to our Florida condo, half a carboy of wine had leaked out. There was a trail from Michigan to Florida. We laughed about it. We had heard it may be illegal to bring quantities of wine into Florida (we have read conflicting stories). But we felt it was okay because when we left Michigan it was grape juice, when we arrived, it probably had some fermenting but it was still “working.” The authorities could have followed us by tracking the drips.)

    The highlight of the past few years has been the friendships we made in our Florida Kings Point community. He was truly likable so he drew folks to him/us. We had so much fun with “our group.” The 29th of April, ten friends showed up to help us pack our truck. They were there for us, and several even came back to tweak John’s “packing” so he’d be satisfied.

    I consider the years I shared with John the best imaginable. Our life was nearly perfect. It’s hard to think of my future without him, but I was so lucky to share more than 33 years with him!

    I am poorer for his death, but far, far richer for his life.

    By Monday, I was swamped with chores that had to be done. There were dozens of phone calls and I have been working to catch up every day.

    I had Lincare pick up his oxygen equipment. Spectrum installed cable so I have TV in both the great room and bedroom. Neighbors helped unload the two mobility scooters from the truck. I’ve shopped, cooked, searched through photos, worked to set up a memorial service, and arranged to have the lawn cared for. I’m pooped.

    I’ll get through this period, but it’s harder than I ever imagined.

    I will eventually get used to life without John but I’m not ready yet.

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    All kinds of chores

    This week, I have found myself with a lot of work. I don’t mind, but I’ve been totally occupied and I can’t seem to catch up.

    Yesterday and today I spent a lot of hours canceling John’s future doctor appointments (which had been scheduled). (Dentist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, urologist, and dermatologist.)

    Yesterday his oxygen equipment was picked up by Lincare (so I wouldn’t be charged rental since Medicare payments stop with his death). I also had Spectrum television and wi-fi installed for the house yesterday afternoon. (It was so quiet here without television sounds.)

    Today I switched Verizon phone plans. We had gotten by with a limited minutes plan with NO texting. I was paying extra at $30 a month for my phone to become a hotspot when we I needed wifi and didn’t have Spectrum. (I used the hotspot all last summer but now I have Spectrum with wi-fi both in Florida and Michigan.) With all the phone calls I’ve made and received, I switched to a totally unlimited plan so I don’t have to worry about running out of minutes and I’m no longer going to pay for each text I send or receive. It makes more sense. The unlimited plan covers voice, data, and a hotspot. (I would have run out of minutes within the next few days.)

    I’ve been trying to find a place to donate John’s Boost Plus (value about $135), and a new light-weight walker.

    I also spoke with a lawn care company which works on other lawns in our neighborhood. The fellow will come by tomorrow.

    I still need to write out thoughts to be included in John’s memorial service next Thursday, the 24th, and I will write the obituary for the Sun City Observer.

    I’m not making much progress.

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    John’s gone

    We had a rough time getting John off the train. He’d gotten so weak (even with good oxygen) that he couldn’t walk at all. It took about a half hour for him to make it the length of the train’s car so he would be ready to disembark.

    There was supposed to be a wheelchair waiting but they informed us there wouldn’t be. John couldn’t make it. After declaring a crisis, they found a way to get him a wheelchair and we were able to leave the train in Flint. Our limo was waiting for us but it had no AC (electric) outlets.

    John struggled to use the concentrator the nurse (Frank) had brought with him, but it wasn’t working very well.

    The ride from Flint to Saginaw was scary. John’s oxygen numbers dropped. I suggested going to St. Mary’s but John said no he could make it, and Frank, the RN said his numbers were higher than the oximeter read. I had to believe he was right.

    We got home about 11:15.

    John was so weak. With Frank on one side and the limo driver on the other side, they tried to walk him inside. I ran ahead with the floor model concentrator to get it going.

    Frank yelled that he needed help. I ran to help. John had collapsed.

    Frank started CPR and I called 911.

    All kinds of emergency workers arrived. They shocked him, did more CPR, gave him everything in their arsenal, but he never regained consciousness.

    He was dead.

    They said he died at 12:20 May 12, 2018, but I think that he died when he collapsed.

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    From Orlando to Washington D.C. to Chicago and Home

    The first lap of our train ride was miserable. (From 1:30 Wednesday to 7:30 a.m. Thursday.) It swayed. It bounced. It jerked. The only thing good was the floor model oxygen generator we’d brought worked great.

    Sleeping was impossible.

    Yes, we had a nice sleeper room, but the rough ride made it difficult.

    My dinner was pretty good… a burger. John’s meal was acceptable.

    In the middle of the night, I saw John leaning over the edge of the bed. He said, “I can’t take it anymore.” But he did, and eventually, we arrived in Washington, D.C.

    The first class lounge in the train station was nice. John napped. We relaxed until about 4:00 when we boarded the next train which would take us to Chicago.

    It was smooth as glass. Loved it. Our room wasn’t as large, but ok.

    We slept well (except I had to crawl into a top bunk which wasn’t easy).

    Breakfast was ok. We had another eight-hour layover, but again we were comfortable in the lounge.

    While waiting we checked our tickets from Chicago to Flint, MI, and were told they couldn’t promise we’d have an AC plug. (Another $200 to upgrade our tickets.)

    When we got on the Chicago to Flint lap of the trip, we found all seats had AC power. The $200 had been spent unnecessarily. But we continued to Flint.

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    Before boarding the Train

    What a nightmare!

    We went by limo to Orlando. Arrived over an hour before the train departure time (thank heavens). As John’s nurse went to finalize the plans, and he discovered we had a major problem.

    I had checked the rules for traveling with a firearm because John wanted to get his hand gun home so he could sell it in Michigan. (He has a Michigan Concealed Carry permit.) He had the details all worked out for flying back. To go on a plane, you’d put your firearm in a hard-sided box and lock it. The box would then go into your checked luggage. When arriving at the airport, you were to advise them at the check-in counter that you had a firearm. It sounded easy. We were set.

    Then our plans changed.

    Monday, after we found out we had to take the train, I checked into rules for transporting a gun via train. The rules stated that we had to “register” the firearm 24 hours before leaving. I called Amtrak and “registered it.” I was assured everything was taken care of.

    When we got to Orlando, the train ticket person said we couldn’t travel with the gun. The reason – there was no checking of baggage from Chicago to Flint (the last lap of the trip). Without checking, we couldn’t take it with us. She canceled our tickets to Michigan. We were stuck.

    I got busy and called the gun shop where John had purchased his gun in Michigan. I asked if they could help us. They explained that they couldn’t even accept a shipped gun unless it was shipped from registered gun store to registered gun store. If that was the solution, I’d make it work.

    I called an Orlando gun shop, the owner came over to the railroad station with his license and picked up John’s firearm. I happened to mention that John wanted to sell it anyway so when he called us back he made John an offer and John sold it . No problem.

    Except we had no it tickets from Chicago to Michigan.

    I repurchased the tickets ($200) and we were on our way.

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    Permission to Travel

    Monday the 7th, John headed to Dr. Marquez’s office first thing to pick up the signed Permission to Travel.

    Unfortunately, while we were waiting for Dr. Marquez or his assistant to come in, John’s oxygen concentrator died. It just quit. (I have a feeling it hadn’t been working the way it should Sunday. We’d gone to the Conklin’s for dinner, and John could hardly get out to the golf cart to go home.) In the doctor’s office, his oxygen numbers plummeted. The level was so low that there was a concern for his survival. When they got him an oxygen tank, his numbers went back up to acceptable levels, but it was obvious that he couldn’t sustain his breathing without the generator. Apparently, after talking to the insurance company, they decided he couldn’t fly back. If for any reason he didn’t have a reliable source of oxygen, he couldn’t make it.

    We were given two options: charter an air ambulance (cost over $20,000) or take a train (and the insurance company would pay for it). Amtrak sounded doable. We’d need to use the insurance company’s oxygen generator and an RN will travel with us.

    Plans were firmed up for the nurse (Frank) to come to our house Tuesday evening, the 8th. He checked John out and found that the generator he brought didn’t work well with John’s mode of breathing. It was decided that John would take his floor model and plug it in most of the time.

    We left the condo at 8:00 the next morning, Wednesday, the 9th. A limo picked us up. Unfortunately, the generator supplied by Frank continued to give John problems. If he concentrated and worked at it, he could get air from it, but he had to really concentrate.

    We got to Orlando.

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    We’re in Limbo

    We’re about ready to leave our Florida home to fly to Michigan but still don’t know when we’ll fly out.

    We have been told that our truck will be picked up Wednesday (the 9th) so hopefully, we will be at our home up north by the 11th so we can check it over when it’s delivered.

    I don’t know when they’ll fly us out. I’ve been looking at flights to see if there are any from TPA to MBS. There are, but the price tags are unbelievably high. Most are over $1,000 for the two of us. Glad they’ll pick up the tab.

    Yesterday I booked our return to Florida flights for October 9th.

    United Airlines UA 5044
    Lv 10:30 am
    Saginaw, MI, US (MBS)

    Ar 10:45 am
    Chicago, IL, US (ORD – O’Hare)
    Duration: 1h 15m

    3h 30m Layover (We’ll have ample time for a nice lunch.)

    =========================================================

    Second Lap Flight from Chicago to Tri-City

    United Airlines UA 397
    Lv 2:15 pm
    Chicago, IL, US (ORD – O’Hare)

    Ar 5:54 pm
    Tampa, FL, US (TPA)

    The total price for our two one-way tickets was about $440.

    I also made sure that the airlines are aware that John will need to have a wheelchair escort and he’ll be using oxygen. The seats for our longest flight (from Chicago to Tampa) will be in the first row of the economy section. That’ll be perfect for John with his long legs. The seats will be easier for him to access because they’ll be closer to the entry door.

    Buying these tickets has assured that we don’t have to worry about going back in October, that is if we ever get home.

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    Helpers

    Sunday a whole crew of helpful friends stopped over to assist us loading stuff into our truck and moving our lanai and patio furniture into the garage. They brought coffee cake and other brunch items. It ended up being a nice gathering. We don’t have much left to do.

    We still don’t know when we’re flying out. We’re aiming for Monday, May 7th, or Tuesday or Wednesday.

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    Not easy

    Today one of our chores was to change a fluorescent tube in a ceiling fixture in our storage room/office/former utility room. It was really dark in there with the light not working (no windows). We got the tube/bulb yesterday and John successfully put it up this morning. The cover fixture isn’t up and it would be good to switch the second bulb so the two match, but at least there is light. John’s napping and recovering from putting the first tube up. Eventually, we’ll get it up.

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    Truly Short Timers

    We’re trying to get ready to head north.

    John definitely can’t drive us the 1,300 miles home so we put a claim to Emergency Assistance Plus (a travel insurance plan we took out a couple years ago). The insurance is supposed to help if you have a health crisis while away from home. We’ll be transported back and our vehicle (our GMC truck) will be returned to our home location.

    We’re getting ready and hoping we can file all the paperwork on May 7th. The company will have three days to get us back to Michigan.

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    Death seems to be haunting us

    We lost Paul Van Arsdale, an awesome traditional hammered dulcimer player, on March 29th. Don Fitzpatrick, a former president of the Original Dulcimer Players Club, passed away on April 5th. Today our friend, Bill Markland, died, April 14th. He’d been teaching dance classes at the end of February, now he’s gone.

    We have another friend, Mel Bushart who we just learned died of brain cancer March 18th.

    We’ve lost too many friends.

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    John’s condition

    Yesterday John’s pulmonologist talked about the benefits of hospice and he gave us a referral if we want to use it.

    We realize that if John conditions to deteriorate his time is limited. John and I have talked about the details. It’s not easy but we both have an understanding of the situation.

    But even while Dr. Clum was talking about hospice, he was talking about the hope that John will improve. And today it seems that he has. He isn’t giving up on him. He is continuing to find other solutions. Right now it’s more steroids. Let’s hope they help.

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    Privacy on the Internet

    My life is so dull that I really don’t care if my information is shared or not. I’m very protective of info that would allow my identity to be stolen. I subscribe to Life Loc and run Norton which protects me from most invasive attacks. My Facebook settings are quite restrictive. I am not worried. All this talk about Facebook selling our data doesn’t scare me.

    Am I naive?

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    We waited too long

    We always thought we could do things “later.” Now I’m realizing we waited too long. John’s not well enough to consider any of these activities or do these revisions…

    Going to St. Pete Beach or one of the other beaches on Tampa Bay.
    Traveling more to places like Nashville or Graceland.
    Do some kitchen and bath remodeling in at our Michigan home.
    Get a sleep-number mattress.
    Replace the range and dishwasher here in the condo.

    I’ll add more as I come up with them.

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    Fun Times are Still Happening

    When we first started coming down to Florida in 2002-2004, we loved attending Thursday night’s Rockin Rendezvous in the South Club. It was the highlight of our visit and we wouldn’t miss those gatherings for anything.

    It’s many years later. With John’s illness, we haven’t gone to many events and Rockin Rendezvous is one we skip. The DJ plays the music too loud, and it isn’t worth the effort to be there.

    But Tuesday night I stopped at karaoke night for a few minutes on my way to pick up a carry-out order of tacos. I’d heard the tempo of the karaoke evenings surpasses the that of Thursday’s Rockin Rendezvous. It was loud and rowdy and it looked like everyone was really having fun! I had a flashback to the enjoyment John and I used to share. I hadn’t thought about it much, but seeing the good times brought back fun memories.

    I love my husband, and his condition doesn’t allow him/us to handle those kinds of events but Tuesday night pointed out that they are still happening. I certainly prefer to be with him no matter what we are missing, but it was surprising that I found that the fun is still going on. I’d thought that they’d quit when we stopped going. Glad to see others enjoying the good life!

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    Back in the hospital

    Saturday, John was taken by ambulance to South Bay Hospital after something ruptured in his throat or lungs and he was bleeding profusely. Blood flowed from his mouth and nose. It scared me. I called his pulmonologist who said I should call an ambulance and get him to a hospital.

    It didn’t take long before the blood quit flowing, but the hospital wanted to keep him overnight to make sure it didn’t happen again.

    I was able to bring him home Sunday (Easter).

    He keeps coughing up bloody phlegm and he hasn’t been able to sleep much. He’s extremely weak.

    We have no plans until Saturday. I want him to just take it easy.

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    Scare!

    Last night John’s big floor model oxygen concentrator quit! He needs oxygen 24/7 and only the large floor unit can deliver when he sleeps. It was a tense time but I finally located the service person for Hillsborough County and the rep delivered a working unit about midnight. (He drove from Zephyr Hills.)

    John feels much better today. The old unit may not have delivered oxygen at the correct levels for some time. We heard a loud boom and shortly afterward an alarm sounded. It would appear to work, but his oxygen level kept dropping. It was like the unit didn’t put out oxygen. The alarm would sound after about 10 minutes of usage and his level was lower and lower.

    When awake, he could use his portable unit, but when he sleeps, the portable unit doesn’t work. (He has to breathe through his nose, and when sleeping, his mouth gapes open.) The floor model is “constant flow.”

    When the new unit came his oxygen levels went up and they’ve stayed there.

    I shudder when I think of what would have happened if it had quit while we were sleeping. I could have lost him!

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    Friends Count

    We have a wonderful group of Kings Point friends.

    I took all those who said (at one time or another) that they’d help us out. There are a bunch of generous folks and I’m counting on them.

    So far, this is our list:
    Sue & Bob Bemis 813-634-1010
    Marilyn Enge 636-795-4823
    Evie Cronin 508-930-4947
    Sharon Nead & Dave 616-581-6843
    Carolyn Cooper 248-890-9890
    Stephen Cooper 248-890-1890
    Richard Brooks 248-505-8322
    Shelly Brooks 248-505-8237
    Linda & Ron Ringenback 813-476-0334 (c), 813-634-1686 (h)
    Dale & Kathy Johnson 813-746-4024
    Kathy & Jan Haynes 813-224-1240, 813-928-3670
    Crissy Jost 609-605-4556
    Helen Ann Frobose 813-642-8386
    Paul Hunt 813-634-8506
    Cindy & Mike Baker 231-638-3274
    Val Whipkey 616-902-7552
    Jan & Doug Outhwaite 813-419-4590
    Diana Franks 616-633-9290
    Sherry & Bob Walker 813-938-4539, 810-241-0198

    Each person/couple has confirmed to me/us that they’d be willing to come to our rescue, if necessary. What an awesome bunch.

    If I was on the other end, I’d be proud to be known as someone who would help out in an emergency. These folks have said they’ll provide transportation, help us with emergency situations, and in general, be there for us. What an awesome group!!

    I’m really counting on them.

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    Not his old self

    John has been going through phases of being moody and jumpy. I can’t blame him and I’m sure I’d be worse but his attitude is very fragile. I am trying to deal with these changes. It’s not easy.

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    John was admitted to Tampa General

    Last Friday, March 16th, John had a bronchoscope and flushing of his lungs. The resulting tests showed a large amount of blood in his lungs. The treatment included massive doses of steroids.

    He was admitted to TGH and that’s where he stayed until yesterday, March 22nd. He was in intensive care part of the time. By yesterday, he was frantic to “get out.” I felt he got excellent care, but he wanted to go home. (Call lights weren’t answered and his requests were ignored.)

    I drove our new (to us) car and didn’t mind at all. I used the SR-41 route which had less traffic and lower speeds. I made the trip back home Friday, a round trip on Sunday, and I came after him Wednesday and drove us back home (plus shopping afterward). I can’t say I like driving, but I am not as fearful as I was. We’re talking about going out to dinner Saturday and I’ll get behind the wheel.

    I got him a walker with a seat which he is using to get around the condo.

    He’s puffy, flushed, worn out and very weak. I hope he recovers some of his health.

    I’m doing what I can to help him. I do the cooking, clean-up, and fetching. He needs to rest. There’s nothing more I can do but pray!

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    John’s procedure

    John will be having a bronchoscopy Friday.

    His pulmonologist (Dr. Clum) can’t be sure what’s causing his lung condition to worsen so drastically so he’s going to use a bronchoscope and flush out his lungs (with salt water). The water will be examined for one of two possible conditions. From that, Dr. Clum hopes to know how to treat John. Let’s hope that he’ll be able to figure it out and John will improve.

    If that doesn’t happen, I fear that John’s idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may be worsening, which means that he will continue to decline. It’s a rough situation.

    He’ll have the bronchoscope on Friday. It’ll take about a week for the results. We’ll be going to Tampa General for the procedure.

    I’ve mentioned that I’ve been afraid to drive, (see https://sharons-blog.com/?p=12798) but I have convinced myself that I can handle this. We have a different, more reliable, vehicle. I have also found an alternate route using SR-41 which means we don’t have to drive on I-75. We tried it the other day and it’s three lanes both ways, low traffic, about the same distance and not many stops. I can do it!! Once I convinced myself, I’m no longer worried.

    John’s condition has deteriorated so much that even he is concerned about getting back to Michigan in May. Thank heavens I bought an insurance policy which should cover us, if he can’t drive back. It’ll take our truck back, and we can fly. I’m glad I’ve planned ahead.

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    My quiet birthday

    John’s health has deteriorated and he’s having a hard time keeping up with even our very limited calendar.

    Yesterday was my birthday and we planned a lunch at Sweet Tomatoes (because they’d given each us free birthday meals which were good this week). We went and John seemed to do quite well but last night he even had a hard time showering. He was in bed early and today he can hardly take a step or two without becoming winded.

    I’m afraid for us. He is obviously concerned and it’s getting him down.

    =========

    Today (Tuesday) we went to John’s cardiologist. He really laid it on the line and basically told John that he doesn’t have much time left. It was a shock. Yes, I know it’s a possibility, but I keep thinking in terms of years. I hope Dr. Khant is wrong. I do agree with one thing he said, that sometimes have a “procedure” for someone in John’s condition isn’t wise. We need to evaluate if it would it help or hurt?

    John’s gastroenterologist (Dr. Hodul) has been suggesting an endoscope biopsy of his pancreas which for him has some risks. And if the spot on his pancreas were to turn out malignant, he couldn’t tolerate surgery nor chemo so why put him through a procedure that would mean shutting off his oxygen for a period of time? (They can’t do it when he’s being fed oxygen.)

    Dr. Khant said it could make things worse, so why do it?

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    John’s Non-Party Birthday Gathering

    John was adamant. He didn’t want a party on his 80th birthday (March 1st). He wanted a cake and ice cream, but NO PARTY! He wanted to share it but was totally opposed to the idea of a party.

    I ordered the cake (half chocolate/half white) he really likes from Nanette (the best baker in the area). I got one big enough for a crowd.

    Richard (Brooks) was visiting a few days before the 1st and we invited him to “share” the cake on Thursday. We set a time for 4:00 but it wouldn’t be a party. Just cake and ice cream.

    We let a few folks know by phone but most were invited by posting on Facebook, where we knew friends would read it.

    Thursday, March 1st, came and so did friends. We had about 20 stop over. It was a pleasant gathering with lots of wine, beer, soft drinks, nuts (and other munchies), some fruit, and some trail mix. John’s 80th was acknowledged. We sang “Happy Birthday,” he got lots of hugs, and he was happy.

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    After the struggle

    I’m still worn out but a decent night’s sleep helped.

    Today we bought John a new-to-him Go-Go Sport four-wheel mobility cart. It is reconditioned with new batteries and it’s like new. We got it from a guy who buys them, reconditions them, and re-sells them for about 1/2 what you’d play for a new one. (I found a reconditioned one like the one we bought online for $300 more than we paid so we feel we got a good price.)

    We’ll need to practice breaking it down and putting it in our vehicle. It’s heavier and larger than what he’s been using but we will learn how to do it. (It’s in the car now, so we know it fits.)

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    Exhausted!

    Yesterday we went to Busch Gardens to enjoy Rhythm in the Night (Celtic dancers) at Stanleyville Theater. It’s a long jaunt back to the theater but when we came in the front gate, we were told that all tickets to the 10:30 show had been given out except for tickets at the table near the theater.

    John said, “Go get the tickets and save our place in the handicapped line.” He said he’d wait for caramel corn then join me.

    Knowing the tickets would go fast, I really hurried the long distance to the ticket table. When I arrived, I was worn out. The 10:30 tickets were gone so I picked up two for the 1:30 show. I called John to let him know what had happened, but he informed me that his handicapped cart’s battery had died and he was near Lorrie Landing (about halfway to me). I hurried back and together we headed to a restaurant near the gate for lunch. I had to push it most of the way. While eating, we plugged the charger for the cart in and hoped we’d have enough power to get to the show and back. We made it there, but the return trip to the car was mostly accomplished with my pushing.

    We made it!

    Home at last I was exhausted!

    According to the tracking monitor I wear, I’d walked about 12,000 steps (many steps while pushing John). It was well over FIVE MILES.

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    Already planning for the Kentucky Derby Party

    The Michigan Club Kentucky Derby Party will be held Saturday, May 5th, and I’m already thinking about what I’ll wear.

    I just bought the loose polka dot top with trumpet style full sleeves and a round neck which you see to the left. I’ll wear it with a white just-above-the-knee skirt (or skorts).

    There are always lots of lovely hats. Mine will be black and very, very wide-brimmed with a large bow matching the polka dot top. (The photo of the bow is on the right.) Maybe I’ll add some artificial rose-colored flowers for color. I don’t expect to win the hat contest. Some are professionally done and will make mine look shabby, but I’ll enjoy participating.

    It’s always a super party. I think I’ll volunteer to get the tickets for our friends so we’re sure we can sit with them. It’ll be our last social event before we head north so we want to be able to visit with everyone.

    For many years we’ve left early on Sunday, the day after the party, but this year the plan is to hang around until Friday, the 11th. John has a doctor’s appointment on Monday the 7th. We can take our time packing and leave early Friday morning. After overnights in Marietta, GA, and Miamisburg, OH, we should make it to Michigan by Sunday mid-afternoon. Or maybe we’ll add a stop somewhere on our trip back. We do need to be home by the 16th for dental cleanings.

    I’m not anxious to go north, but there’s no sense fighting it. I’m already making lists of what we’ll need to take back with us. (And what stuff we’ll leave in Michigan when we come back in October 2018.)

    I hope (in October 2018) I can talk John into flying back, get a shuttle from the Tampa airport, and be back here at our place in Kings Point at a decent hour. The plan would be to return between the October 12th and the 16th It won’t matter which day (whichever is cheapest). We’re flexible.

    I’d sure like to know what to plan for before we leave in May, but if I can’t get a commitment from John then, I’ll work with that situation and pray he realizes eventually how much better it will be for him. Probably he’ll understand when he drives back in May. He’ll be tired for several days and it’ll take a toll on him. It’s just too much. Let’s hope he understands before it kills him. Stubbornness is hard to fight.

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    My (Sneaky) Plan

    John’s always been totally against flying back and forth to Michigan but I think he is gradually becoming more agreeable to the idea.

    I’ve pointed out the cost savings over driving (with motels, meals, and gas cost). Also, if we don’t drive the truck back down and instead we leave it in Michigan, we can give up our storage space in the RV lot which will save $150 annually.

    His argument that we can’t bring some items (like wine) with us when flying is valid but most items we can duplicate or get by without. The power washer and air purifier can stay here. We can get new ones if needed for Michigan.

    I called his oxygen supply store and found that they’ll work with us to make sure he has the necessary oxygen equipment at both ends of the trip.

    He can probably take his little handicap scooter back and forth. Apparently, airlines are very accommodating with health equipment. Or maybe he can get a more heavy duty one to take back to Michigan with us in May and leave the smaller one here for going to Busch Gardens. It’s just not a problem. (Although he definitely needs one in Michigan for yard work.)

    With the new-to-us Mercedes, we definitely won’t need the truck here. (It’s been our back-up for the Jag.) Once we sell our 5th wheel (stored next to our Michigan house), we can even get rid of the truck. Yeah!!! At some point, we can trade in our Malibu (which is currently in our garage in Michigan) and get an SUV which he’d like.

    I’m eliminating all his arguments against flying. The cost savings will definitely be attractive to him.

    It’s only a little over two months before we return to Michigan. If we are going to fly from Michigan to Florida in October 2018, we’ll leave more items here when we go north in May 2018. We can get by without a lot of the stuff we normally haul back and forth. It’ll really help if we’ve made the decision before we leave our condo for the north so we can pare down the back and forth stuff.

    As an example, if I know we’ll be flying back, I definitely won’t take my autoharp with us in May, and John’s dulcimer should stay here. (We have an autoharp and several dulcimers in Michigan if we need them while north.)

    Taking my new printer north is probably out of the question. Maybe I’ll get a second really cheap one to use in Michigan. (I’ve searched online and I know I can get a cheap wi-fi printer for $50-$100 but the ink would probably be extra.) Since I will need to haul my computer back and forth, and there’ll be a few items of clothing we won’t want to duplicate, we’ll it with us on the plane (or box it up and ship it via UPS.)

    It all takes a lot of planning. I’m up to the task!

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    Hopefully I can get over my fears

    We’ve been busy upgrading the car we drive when in Florida. We found a low mileage 2003 silver Mercedes SUV/wagon in perfect condition and bought it yesterday. (We’ll pick it up Wednesday). Our 4-door Jaguar sedan would have needed us to spend more to keep it running than we were willing to pay so we sold it today. (It’ll be picked up Thursday.)

    Now we need to find out how to get the Mercedes registered as a Michigan vehicle so we can move the plates from the Jaguar to it. We know it’s possible because in 2011, we had an old Toyota which we traded in when we got the Jaguar but all the paperwork was done by the used car dealer. We were able to easily move the plate from the Toyota to the Jag. Since today’s a holiday, no one in the Michigan Sec. of States office was there to answer our questions. Hope we can get it straightened by Wednesday.

    I think I’m just into older vehicles with pretty hood ornaments. (The Jaguar had the jumping big cat and this Mercedes has the 3-pointed star in the round hoop.)

    I am scared to death of driving on highways here in Florida. The traffic is always heavy and moving so fast. Semis hog the roads.

    The little Jaguar had brake/abs problems. It scared me!

    Now I’ll have a solid Mercedes if/when I have to drive. And, yes, I know John will need to have a procedure after he’s recovered from his pneumonia problem and I’ll have to be the driver on the way home.

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    Humidistat or A/C

    We currently have a humidistat which has lowered our electric bills but, here’s my concern. We have several wooden, stringed, musical instruments. When the humidistat was installed we were told that during the summer months, we should keep it set to 65% humidity. The humidistat will keep the humidity from going over 65%, but it does nothing to keep the temperature from getting too high.

    Yes, A/C can still turn on, but only when the humidity has gone over the 65% threshold.

    I’m concerned that if the inside temperature goes to 90 or 100 degrees (even if the humidity is 65%), it could damage our instruments. That high temp will dry out the wood and will result in cracks and weakened glue. So far we’ve been hauling our instruments back and forth with us but the idea of leaving them here and flying between Michigan and Florida is becoming more attractive.

    I read a report from someone here in Kings Point. He said his humidity has NEVER gotten over 65% when the temperature was under 85. (He runs a Nest system where he can see the temp and the humidity.) He suggested a setting of 85 on the A/C. That will keep the humidity lower than 65%.

    We will probably not use the humidistat this year and see how our electric bills are.

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    This is what I posted tonight to my “Friends” on Facebook

    In case any of our friends have wondered where we’ve disappeared, let me explain.

    John really crashed about a month and a half ago. He had been doing so well and we were looking forward to Thursday nights at the South Club when we’d try to make at least two loops around the dance floor and lots of fun events. But then things changed.

    Walking in from the parking lot wore him out. He had trouble walking a few feet. Breathing was a problem even with his oxygen running 24/7. We had to change our priorities. We gave up the idea of using our Busch Gardens annual tickets and we’ve just stayed in.

    John’s G.I. specialist at Moffitt had him scheduled for a pancreatic biopsy procedure this month, but Monday, his pulmonologist diagnosed his loss of strength and breath as pneumonia! Yup, in addition to Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis which has robbed him of normal lung function, he has pneumonia (again!) His pancreatic biopsy procedure has had to be postponed until his strength has improved. We’re hoping the pancreatic problem it’s nothing serious anyway.. just a remnant of the pancreatic cyst which was drained at Moffitt in May and hasn’t changed since then but they want to biopsy it with an esophageal procedure.

    We hope to show up for some events, but we’re pretty much hunkered down taking it easy. And we definitely want to avoid the flu and colds so many seem to be fighting.

    On Tuesday, February 20th, John and I are hosting the huge Michigan Club Pizza Party. (It’ll be a sell-out with 240 seats sold). I’m the chairman and John has always helped me with everything. This year, with all our KP friends, we are sure we can handle it, but we’re really counting on KP friends more than we ever have.

    So if you wonder where we’ve gone, we’re here. We are taking it easy and hoping that John’ll soon feel better. We thank you for your prayers and support.

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    Pointers for remembering folks

    My husband and I have been snowbirds since 2002. Knowing that it would be months before we’d return to our Florida home, I started a computer spreadsheet (but it could be done in written form) to keep track of the folks we met. I’d list their names and something to help me remember them (physical description, characteristic, or where we met). There’d also be a column for their address and their email and phone number. When we returned, as my husband drove the long trip between Michigan and Florida, I’d quiz him. It was a great way to refresh our memories and kill time on the road. Those clues still come to mind when I think of some of the folks. As time passed, and cellphones with cameras were more common, I’d take a picture of their KP badge.

    Another pointer: When meeting folks at a party, I’ve found a paper napkin labeled with all names in seating location and placed in the center where all can see the identities of their table mates, helps folks remember the names of folks they’ve just met. It really helps break the ice.

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    Feeling Lazy

    My allergies seem to have cleared up and I’m actually feeling pretty good but I have no energy.

    John has had a rough month or so I should be doing more, but I’m pooped! I’ve got to snap out of it and get busy.

    Audra will arrive a week from today. No time to feel lazy!

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    Not good news

    John had a CT and an appointment with his G.I. specialist at Moffitt Cancer Center Monday.

    She doesn’t like the looks of the site where the cyst was drained last May and she has prescribed another biopsy. The good thing is that it hasn’t grown any but they’re still wanting to eliminate the possibility of cancer.

    We don’t know when it’ll be scheduled. We have a few days on our calendar when it wouldn’t work out: Feb. 13-16 while Audra (John’s daughter) is visiting, and Feb. 20th when I’m in charge of the Michigan Club Pizza Party which will be attended by about 240 members.

    I’ve been trying to get everything done in advance. Most of the items for the party have been purchased, but that morning I’ll need to pick up the 240 cupcakes, bags of lettuce, and small tomatoes.

    In addition to worrying about John’s biopsy, I have to worry about driving back from Moffitt because he can’t drive after the procedure. I am scared to death to drive on the expressway. (When I did it the last time, I had nightmares before and after.) Knowing I don’t have a choice, I have found an alternate way to get back home. I won’t go on the highway at all. Instead, I’ll go via a secondary road, SR 41. It’ll have a lot more traffic lights, but hopefully, it’ll be easier for me.

    Now I just have to worry about the outcome of John’s test. SCARED!!

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    Had them laughing in the ladies room

    Had a lovely time at the Michigan Club SnoBall. Fun meeting up with folks we haven’t seen for ages and chatting with fun friends. It’s nice to see everyone all dressed up (and boy, were they!) The whole evening was lovely. The place was decorated with lots of live palms and tiny twinkle lights. The tables were covered with pink cloths with white chair covers and big pink chair bows. Table servers were well trained. Music was better than I’d expected.

    Near the end of the evening, I had to go to the ladies room. I’d worn Spanx for the first time as well as pantyhose. I’m not accustomed to all those layers. I finally got down to my skin and relieved my bladder but pulling everything up was nearly impossible. I struggled. When I finished, I found my full nylon skirt had been in the toilet and was dripping. I went to the sink and washed it out. As I’m telling the other ladies in the ladies room what had happened, they all laughed so hard, I thought some would have an accident. One lady came out of the stall with her dress up around her shoulders. I guess she’d had a similar problem.

    I told the ladies at my table about my restroom event. They all identified.

    Getting ready for the party was tough for both of us. I didn’t fit into what I wanted to wear. I’d gained more than five pounds since arriving in October. Finally, I located an acceptable dress which looked decent but I realize I need to watch my diet closer.

    John had an opposite problem. He’s lost so much weight that all of his suits looked baggy. Since he didn’t move around much, most probably didn’t notice.

    We left for home about 8:00 pm. It had been a fun evening. I’m really glad we went.

    We don’t have any more formal parties, but we do have some events coming up that will get us out of the house. I think it’s what we need!

    And I really need to lose weight! I’d be pleased if I can shed 10, but more would be better!!

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    House Guest

    John’s daughter, Audra, is planning to visit us next month.

    I’m really glad. She should spend time with him.

    We won’t be able to do as much with her as if he was feeling better, but she said she just wants to relax. We can provide her with a place to take it easy.

    Our plans include going to our favorite restaurant, “Little Harbor,” to take in a beautiful sunset over Tampa Bay. Maybe we’ll go to Busch Gardens. A visit to Goodson Farms for strawberry shortcake is mandatory. She’ll only be with us three nights and four days. We’ll cram what we can into that short visit.

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    Pacing ourselves

    Maintaining John’s health requires planning.

    Tomorrow is Thursday. Normally we go to “Sit and Get Fit” exercise class but we’re skipping it because Thursdays we also have Bill Markland’s country couples dance from 4:00-5:00 and we need lots of energy for John to be able to make it to an afternoon event. One event a day is plenty. We have to space out our activities. I want him to make it with energy to spare.

    [Note: I ended up feeling rotten all day so we didn’t go to the couples dance hour anyway.]

    In February, on Tuesday, the 20th, I’m in charge of the Michigan Club Pizza Party. That day will be a challenge.

    In the morning, I have to go pick up the salad makings, the cupcakes, etc. I can do that alone (unless I find someone to ride with me to Sam’s Club.) John’s always gone with me for the morning purchases, but I think this time, he’ll be better staying home. I hope I can buy a lot of stuff from the grocery list before the 20th.

    I’ll drop off everything at the clubhouse. I’ll go home for lunch and I’ll relax from about noon until 3:00 then I’ll head back to the clubhouse by golf cart.

    At 3:30 my workers will start arriving to help with the party set-up. John will plan to arrive about 3:30 by car. The party starts at 5:00 and ends at 8:30.

    John will head home when the party with all the activities ends (about 8:30) with clean up completed at 9:00.

    We’ll both be pooped, by the time it’s over.

    We need to be sure John’s oxygen generator has enough battery power. Generally, if he’s not moving much, he can go about 2 hours on a battery charge and he has two batteries. That will mean that if he’s at the party from 4:30 to 8:30, he’ll be out of power unless he takes it easy. We’ll bring the wall charger, so if necessary, he can set by a wall plug and re-charge.

    So you can see that every event we participate in, requires planning around his need for energy, battery power and oxygen.

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    Was that the Correct Way to Handle Things?

    I’m far from perfect. Sometimes I don’t handle things very well.

    The other day was a good example. John and I had gone shopping and it seemed every time I did something, it was wrong. I was trying, but I kept getting it wrong. Situation after situation backfired. It was escalating.

    I’ve always been taught that “intentions” count. If you intend to do something kind and it doesn’t go as you’d hoped, you shouldn’t be given a black mark. You tried! Your efforts may not have produced the desired results, but being punished for your mistake is inappropriate.

    I felt like a child being scolded even though I had hoped to do something kind for him.

    But here’s where I went wrong…

    Instead of realizing that John is dealing with health concerns that wear on him, I was angry or hurt or a bit of both. I know that was wrong of me. His attitude is understandable. He is human and feeling rotten all the time and losing ground with his health is difficult to deal with.

    So what did I do?

    I called a girlfriend and left. I spent the afternoon with her. I felt I needed to escape. I needed to get away. I told him I’d be a cell phone call away.

    But John can’t escape. He is ill and it’s a progressive deterioration. He knows he’s not getting better.

    At the time, it seemed that spending time apart was the best way to handle the problem. I was gone for nearly three hours. When I came back, he’d taken a peaceful nap and everything was fine. I felt better and so did he.

    Should I have handled things differently, or did I respond correctly?

    I try to be there for him, and it was one of the first times I’d been away from him in months. But I was running away. I diffused the situation but it was a coward’s way out.

    Was I wrong?

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    Congested

    Yup, I’m congested. Apparently some allergy I haven’t identified. Tired of kleenex.

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    “Death” by H.S.Holland

    a comforting thought

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    Cold cold cold

    I miss wearing shorts and sandals. I miss going to the pool.

    I’m tired of seeing folks bundled up as if they’ll freeze. Scarves and mittens in Florida are just plain wrong!

    The forecast is that the temps will go up early next week to the mid 70’s. That I will enjoy!

    All of 2018 has been cold! We’ve feared a deep freeze that would kill our flowering plants, but, thank heavens, the coldest has been in the high 30’s. It’s just that the temperatures we’ve experienced haven’t been what we expect when we’re down here. We need to warm up a tad and feel like we’re in our beautiful southern community.

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    The Music Box (aka “The Box”)


    Yesterday I joined a Facebook group called “Music Box -Houghton Lake -Michigan.” A lot of this post was taken from my introduction to the Music Box Facebook group.

    I was a “regular” at “The Box” from about 1957-1960. The Music Box was an outdoor dance hall in Prudenville, Mi. Thousands would line up on Saturday nights. In the winter it moved into an adjacent smaller indoor room. For many years, I NEVER missed a Saturday night at “The Box.” I have so many memories. It was a long drive from Midland to Prudenville, but it was my obsession.

    There was an attitude which defined Box regulars. The summer crowd of over 5,000 enjoyed the popular recorded music played by Shirley with support from Lee, her husband. Being a Box regular made you “cool” in the eyes of those from your hometown.

    As a Midland girl, I remember dancing with guys from all over Michigan and many out-of-staters.

    I fell in love at the Box (several times), had my heart broken at the Box (more than once). The Box shaped me. Summer and winter, I was there.

    During the winter months, my favorite way to spend Saturdays was to go skiing at Skyline Ski Resort and then come over to The Box. I remember the ceilings in the winter area were really low which made it quite humid, especially since lots of snow got tracked in. The crowd during the winter months was a fraction of the huge summer crowds.

    I had a best guy buddy (John Whitman from Midland) who gave me a ride a lot of the time.

    Through The Box, I met dozens of fun kids. Since I wasn’t a “local,” I never got to be friends with many of the girls, but I sure remember the guys. A lot of the fellows were college age (older than I was).

    My favorite dance partner was a guy named Pete. He lived in the Freeland area and was beyond awesome on the dance floor. (He was a drummer who made a big name for himself as a professional musician so it’s no wonder he had a great beat.) Pete wants me to help him write a book about dancing in the 1950’s. I haven’t agreed, but a lot would be about The Box.

    And after The Box, when I didn’t have to hurry home, I enjoyed Geni’s Pizza in Prudenville. In fact, other than a Chef Boyardee you-bake-from-a-box pizza, I’d never had pizza until I went to Geni’s. The cheese was the really stretchy kind that would make long “ropes” when you took a bite. I didn’t realize that the meat was called sausage instead of pepperoni, but whatever it was, I loved it.

    I’m now a 75-year-old snowbird spending winters at our condo in Sun City Center, Florida, and summers at our Michigan home on a little lake west of Saginaw between Hemlock and St. Charles.

    All my teen experiences centered on “The Box.”

    I’ve lost touch with all my friends from that era and often wonder if I’m part of their pleasant teenage memories centered on “The Box.”

    I mentioned my time at “The Box” in a 2010 blog post:
    Earlier Post on My Blog

    In that post, I mentioned that one of my old boyfriends, Mike Cauchy, had died. When I dated Mike, we went “steady” two separate times. Each time lasted less than a week because I broke up with him to go to The Box. Yup, The Box was that important to me.

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    Don’t want their attitude

    I joined two Facebook groups just before Christmas. One is the IPF-Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group and the other is for Spousal Caregivers. I thought the two groups would help provide answers but I’m giving up on the Spousal Caregivers group. Sadly I don’t want their attitude to rub off on me.

    Most of the “caregivers” seem to be bitter and angry about the hand that’s been dealt them, and mad at their spouses.

    At times I get frustrated with John but never angry with him. We’re in this life together. He is ill, and sometimes he’s hard to please, but I know I’d be more difficult. He is dealing with the situation the best he can and he’s doing a great job staying upbeat!

    I will check in on the caregivers’ group occasionally, but I’m not going to follow it closely because I don’t want to ever feel as they do.

    The other group, the IPF group, consists of those with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or those who are close to someone who has this horrid disease. The members are fairly upbeat, strong, and positive. I might learn from them. They seem appreciative of the time they are sharing with their spouse/significant other.

    I want to tell the wife in the caregivers’ group who is bitching about changing her husband’s diaper, or the one who gripes about her husband demands that she’ll be sorry she resented helping him. More than likely he feels bad because he needs her help.

    I want to explain to the woman who complains that husband no longer interacts with her so she’s feeling lonely that her “feel sorry for herself attitude” will only drive away folks who would be friendly.

    I am far from perfect. And yes, sometimes even sweet John can be difficult. He wants to do for himself, but then he complains when I don’t help him with something little. Like last night when we got home from dinner with friends and I headed to the bathroom instead of helping him put our leftovers away. I changed from my fussy clothes to a comfy robe before coming to the living room. Putting the pie pan and two foam boxes of prime rib in the refrigerator didn’t seem like it was a big deal that I needed to help him with, but apparently, it bothered him that I didn’t volunteer to help (or do it). I had helped our hosts clear the table, rinse the dishes and store away what I could. I’d been on my feet for awhile and my touchy back was aching. But he’s right. I could have suggested that I put the three items in the refrigerator and I will next time.

    I enjoy every day I have with John. I sure won’t complain, even if he’s sometimes a little cranky.

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    Enjoy each day

    My husband has a lung disease (considered terminal) that I fear will take him from me before either of us is ready for that separation.

    I realize that the reality of that situation necessitates that I enjoy and savor every moment with him or I’ll be left with regrets.

    What if this is our last Christmas together?

    I need to enjoy every part of every day.

    Our tree is kinda sparce, but it’s our Christmas tree. I better love it and remember what it feels like to share it with him!

    Our poinsettias aren’t as pretty as previous years. Ahh… but they’re growing and look seasonal. Not perfect but still lovely.

    We haven’t gone to many parties or had as much “fun” as previous years but the times we’ve socialized, we’ve enjoyed ourselves. Store away those good times, however many.

    We don’t get as many invitations as previous years, probably because we don’t see our friends as often (out of sight out of mind) and we aren’t as much fun. But when we do get an invite, we know they’re real friends and they will enjoy our company.

    Every single minute of every day is special and cherished.

    Of course, I am praying to have lots more happy years with him. Join me in praying for that possibility.

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    Christmas Plans

    On Christmas day, our plan was to enjoy a lovely steak dinner (Omaha Steaks sent to us by my daughter) but our plans have changed. Yesterday, our friends Paul and Bunny Hunt, invited us to a Christmas dinner Christmas afternoon. (The frozen steaks will keep.) Instead, we’ll enjoy prime rib, baked potatoes, salad, and an apple pie for dessert at their condo. (We’ll provide the pie.)

    Paul and Bunny are dear friends. We truly enjoy them. They were friends of my mom and Hoagie. We’ll enjoy their company, have a nice Christmas and we won’t be alone nor will they. Bunny’s having health problems so I hope it’s not too much work for her. Paul assured us that the dinner will easy. He’s getting the prime rib partially pre-prepared by Sam’s Club so it won’t take much to serve.

    Last Saturday they had a Christmas house party. I came an hour early to help and I could tell it was beneficial. She was able to relax while I made sure everything was hot and ready.

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    Blind Man’s Attitude

    I read about an elderly widowed blind man who was being shown around his new apartment in a care facility.

    He had just walked in the door when he said, “It’s lovely and I’m going to be very happy here.”

    His guide said, “But you can’t see it and you just arrived.”

    The old man explained, “Happiness isn’t dependent on surroundings. Happiness is an attitude. Each morning when I wake up, I say to myself, ‘It’s going to be a good day,’ and it is.”

    Tonight I spent quite a while talking with Kline. Kline is 97 and a healthy, fit, active fellow. He said he controls his situation by saying each morning, “All I ask is that today is better than yesterday for me, for my friends and for my family. It doesn’t have to be great just a little better. I’m happy.”

    I guess, blending the blind man’s attitude and Kline’s would give anyone a wonderful outlook.

    I should mention that Kline lost his wife in 2014 at the same party where we enjoyed his company tonight. He is still upbeat and positive. Kline and the blind man I read about are examples to follow.

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    Middle of December Chill

    Yesterday Accuweather gave a report that the Shields area (in central Michigan) would get down 8 degrees last night and 5 tonight! It’s also predicted that there’ll be a snow storm. The forecast for Wednesday read, “Heavy snow possible. A narrow band of snowfall rates in excess of 2 inches per hour may affect a portion of the area during the Wednesday evening commute.”

    I just checked the forecast to see if today’s weather had matched the forecast in Michigan. There’s now a “Weather Advisory” which reads, …WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT EST TONIGHT… Heavy snow. Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the evening commute. Widespread snowfall accumulation of 5 to 7 inches with a band of 6 to 9 inches possible. Snowfall rates will exceed 1 inch per hour between 3pm and 7pm and will occasionally reach 2 inches per hour.

    All the sudden our Florida low temps in the 40’s overnight and 60’s daytime aren’t so bad.

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    Am I too big for my britches??

    Sometimes I wonder why I get involved…

    Several years ago I started a facebook page for Kings Point Sun City Center Residents. Kings Point management had a Facebook presence, but it hadn’t taken long to realize that Kings Point management didn’t have the same interests in information exchange as the residents, especially the snowbirds.

    Being in Michigan from May-October left me feeling like I needed a link to our Florida paradise. I started the Kings Point Sun City Center Residents’ Facebook page as kind of an “announcement” site and it’s worked well. Over the years, I’ve included the openings of new businesses, announcements about expansions and changes in Kings Point, weather-related warnings. I let residents know when a new issue of the Pointer is out (our community newsletter). When I hear about strawberry picking or the opening of Wa-Wa or Aldi, I post it. When there’s a large snake captured or a fox on the run, it’s been on Kings Point Resident’s page.

    This fall, when Hurricane Irma threatened to move through Kings Point, the page gave me a place to ask for information and when they were provided to me, I was quick to post photos of the damage within our gated community.

    But the past couple of weeks have been a different story. I read postings on another website service called “Nextdoor.” That site/service is great for the exchange of information. They have a super “for sale” area and ample ways for newcomers to be introduced to our area. I find it a wonderful asset.

    About a month ago, members of Nextdoor got wind of a proposed huge raise in Kings Point’s HOA and COA dues. The proposal included a list of budget items that seemed totally out-of-line and would result in monstrous increases in all residents’ monthly fees. I listened carefully. After being urged by folks who read my Kings Point Residents’ page, I decided that the budget information should be at least be made available to my readers. I posted the list of budget items with a disclaimer which said I couldn’t verify the proposed line items, and residents should check with their HOA/COA presidents to get the complete story.

    My COA president verified that our dues in Nantucket V will go up over $40 monthly. I verified the $40+ amount but did not confirm the pricy line-items.

    More information has come out and it appears the $40+ number is definitely accurate. It’s been stated that previous leadership failed to maintain the infrastructure of Kings Point. The huge increase is an attempt to make Kings Point more viable. The new dues number may be something that I will eventually understand but I certainly don’t want to get involved.

    Whenever anything has been posted by me, I have continued to say, “Check with your association’s management.” Of course, that wasn’t how folks remember it. They think of me as spreading rumors. They feel I was promoting gossip.

    I have been chastised and criticized. I hope it’ll blow over.

    It’s true, I don’t have the right to speak for anyone other than myself. I shouldn’t have gotten involved. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to have a place to learn about the weather, the improvements, etc. in Kings Point.

    When I only had 50-100 folks following Kings Point Sun City Center Residents posts, it didn’t matter. Now the numbers are in the thousands. I don’t pretend to be an authority. I’m just a moderator. Nothing more.

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    Tree’s Up, Wreath on the Door

    We’ve about finished our holiday decorating.

    The tree is up but nothing like the lovely tree we used for many years. We have a live rose bouquet on the coffee table with a ruby red satin Christmas runner. There’s a small well-lit tree on the lanai, a lit up angel in the window, Christmas placemats in the dining room, a red and green runner on the bar, a candelabra in the guest room window, and holiday towels ready for the bathrooms. It’s definitely ok, but not exceptional.

    Saturday

    Just put a flood light outside to illuminate the front of the condo. It’s not as impressive as the many lights we used other years on the shrubbery, but it’ll do.

    If I try to do more, it’ll only mean more work for John (because he always steps up and says he can help). He doesn’t need anything added to his to-do list.

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    Time to Decorate

    I love it when our place is ready for Christmas. We used to put up a lovely tree and I’d decorate it with lots of hand-made and rose and gold ornaments. This year we’re downsizing. We have a new 6′ artificial tree which won’t be as awesome but it’ll feel more like a holiday than it does now.

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    Time Flies

    We’ve been busy going back and forth to Tampa for John’s doctors and socializing when possible.

    Last night we attended the Michigan Club Organizational Dinner Meeting. Richard stopped by yesterday afternoon and today we visited our friend, Paul.

    We have no plans for Thanksgiving but bought a 12-pound turkey and the two of us will enjoy all the trimmings and a lazy day. The past few years Richard and Shelly Brooks invited us to their place for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, but they’ve been invited elsewhere.

    It’ll be ok. I love John’s company.

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    Not so nice

    Cooler, damp, and windy.

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    Pretty weather

    Absolutely lovely! Not too hot, too windy, nor too rainy … PERFECT!

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    Tampa Trips

    John’s Tampa General pulmonologist saw him a couple weeks ago. (Said he’s doing better.) Last week he had to go to Moffitt Cancer Center so he could have a CT scan. (To make sure the pancreatic cyst did not return.) Today he goes back to Moffitt to meet with his G.I. specialist for a report on the scan. Next Monday he needs to go to his rheumatologist again in Tampa.

    While we’re in Tampa today, he’s going to stop at Brandon Honda. He’s had his eye on a 2017 SUV.

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    Chilly but that’s ok…

    Today it’s dern chilly (a high about 60). But we have nothing to do and nowhere to go. (John may take the car to be worked on.) Good day to stay inside, bundle up, veg, do laundry, and read a good book. Tomorrow we have our exercise class and maybe karaoke in the evening. Wednesday John has a CT scan at Moffitt. Thursday is exercise in the morning and our country couples hour from 4-5 pm. Friday early blood work (both of us) and the Activities Open House from 10-2.

    Last night we attended a Halloween party. I drank more wine than I usually consume so I didn’t sleep well. Hopefully this lazy day will help get me back to normal.

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    Back in the 1940’s

    I was browsing the internet last night and stumbled across old photos of Midland, Michigan, the city where I was born and lived until I was 18.

    One of the photos showed Glovers Drug Store and Bye’s Food Market. My family lived above Bye’s in a small two-bedroom apartment. Although I don’t remember the details, we must have moved in before Dad went into the Marines in 1944. When he was discharged in 1946, Dad and Mom built the “small house” which was on Sturgeon Road. We moved from the apartment into the Sturgeon house just before I was five (in 1947).

    Here’s the photo. It was the first place I can remember living. You can see the entrance door to the stairway between the two businesses. Our apartment was where you can see the small balcony above Bye’s Food Market. Our windows had (green) awnings. I can remember a few details. The kitchen was windowless toward the back of the apartment and contained the “entrance” into the apartment. We had an icebox (no refrigerator). My room was tiny with a scary humpty dumpty lamp which I hated and no windows. The living room wasn’t very big but had the doorway to the balcony and the leftmost window (as seen from outside). Mom and Dad’s room would have looked out the right window.

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    Time Passing Too Fast

    We’ve been here for nearly three weeks. Doesn’t seem possible.

    We had really hot temps (90+) until today when a cold front came through and it’s now under 70 degrees. Burrrrr! Should warm up in a couple days but not be as miserable as it has been.

    We haven’t really gotten back into the swing of things. We did get the lanai and deck organized and we’re pleased with how nice it looks. Very welcoming.

    And we’ve had some activities and fun….

    The day after our arrival we went to a luau at the Enge’s. We’ve been to Sit and Get Fit exercise a couple times, John had a pulmonologist appointment in Tampa last Tuesday, a couple days ago I had an eye exam, last week we attended a lecture on insurance, and yesterday there was an open house at a new clubhouse. The tempo will pick up as more snowbirds get down here.

    Thursday nights (starting last week) we get to enjoy an hour of dancing with friends at the South Clubhouse. This week we have parties on our calendar for tomorrow night (Michigan Club Welcome Back Wine and Cheese party) and Sunday (Baby Boomers’ costume party). I’ll be helping with the Michigan Club party.

    Next week, on Wednesday, John has a CT scan at the Moffitt Hospital, and next Friday we both have bloodwork done for our annual physicals. Later Friday morning, we’ll attend the Annual Activities Open House at the main clubhouse.

    We aren’t at the frenzied pace we usually enjoy here in Kings Point, but busy enough to feel A-L-I-V-E!!

    Love love love it here!

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    Taking it Easy

    We haven’t done much. Haven’t even been to the pool yet but it’s been really hot and sticky so the idea of going out into the humidity hasn’t been very appealing. Monday we vegged. Yesterday we went to sit and get fit (exercise class), then we grocery shopped. Today I had a hair appointment and shopped a little. Tomorrow (Thursday) we have a morning meeting. Friday and Saturday we’ll go to the Kings Point Garage Sale.

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    We made it in TWO days

    After watching Hurricane Nate’s approach, yesterday we decided to try to out-run possible bad weather and keep going without stopping in Valdosta. We drove straight through and pulled into our condo about 10:00 pm with a carry-out pizza from our favorite pizza place. We were dead-tired but glad we’d to finish out trip yesterday.

    John drove over 770 miles yesterday (Saturday) and more than 570 Friday. We’re tired today. Last night it felt good to turn-in at about 1:00 a.m. in “our place.”

    It’s HOT today and very humid.

    We’re going to attend a party tonight which will give us a chance to see all our friends. We’ve missed them. They are the best bunch! We had offers from several of the “girls” to help us unload yesterday but we got home too late to accept their offers. Today one of our friends (a guy) came by and helped us get the five-gallon pails of wine out of the back of the truck. Sure helped!

    All our deck and lanai furniture is still in the great room. If it cools down a little tomorrow, I’ll sweep off the deck so I can move everything outside. (It would be silly to move it out and try work around lounge chairs to get rid of the dirt and debris.) The lanai will have to be power-washed before we can furnish it. Not today!

    Sure feels good to be back in paradise!!!!

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    We decided on the more westerly route

    We were on the road at 8:15 this a.m. (15 minutes later than we’d planned.)

    We started out down 127 in Michigan to I69 into Indiana. We are on I65 now in Kentucky. Our stop tonight will be in Franklin, KY, at Exit 2 off I65. We’re at Exit 53 right now so we should make it in less than an hour. Our plans are to eat at Cracker Barrel across the street from the Quality Inn.

    Moving into the motel is always hard because John’s concentrator must come in. It weighs about 50 pounds and it’s bulky.

    For the night, in addition to John’s concentrator, we bring in our small duffle bags, maybe my computer. I’m already tired, but it’ll feel good to stretch out and relax. Only 41 more miles until we’re in our motel for the evening.

    Tomorrow our over-night will be in Valdosta, GA. Sunday, we’ll be home! (Hopefully!)

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    Two Days to Go

    With John’s health problems, a lot’s fallen on me to do so we can leave on schedule, October 6th. I packed the truck cab to the best of my ability but today he re-did it all. If he is more comfortable re-arranging everything, that was fine with me. I stood back and let him do it. Then together we loaded the remaining items in the back-end. We have everything in except the wine and food.

    We still have tomorrow to finish up. I really want to be up and moving about 6:00 a.m. Friday. It’ll take a while to winterize the water system, turn off the water, and load in some last food items. I hope we can be on the road by 8:00.

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    Heading South or Southwest?

    We’ve been contemplating a different route to Florida. Normally we hop on I-75 here in Saginaw and follow it all the way to our Sun City Center Exit 240. (We do take I-23 to avoid Detroit and a Macon, Georgia bypass, but other than that we’re on I-75.)

    We’ve heard that heading southwest down I-69 to I-65 (through Indiana) before hooking up with I-75 south of Atlanta would help us avoid truck traffic. The only problem is that it’s further. I worked out the routes last night and found that it would be 1,323 miles to take the more westerly route while our regular route is only 1,280. Forty-five miles wouldn’t be bad but it looks like it would add an hour to our trip.

    Seems that every year we end up in multiple traffic jams that slow us down for hours. If the traffic flows more smoothly, we might even take less time. We’ll try it.

    I had a bit of a problem finding a room that would allow us to cancel until 4:00 on the night of our stay. Finally successful at a Quality Inn in Franklin, TN, the first night and in Valdosta, GA, on the second night. (Actually the Valdosta stop was already booked for our second night using the route straight down 75.)

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    REALLLLLY Short Timer

    Today is Wednesday. We leave for Florida a week from Friday. We’ll have lots of packing to do next week.

    I started loading things in the truck but we had record-breaking temperatures over 90 degrees for about a week. Today it finally cooled down!

    Many of the items to be packed can’t be in high heat for extended periods, i.e. musical instruments, vitamins, make-up, etc. I have things ready to go, but I think I’ll wait until Sunday to put more in the truck.

    John will be taking along two five-gallon pails of grape juice (for wine). He started the fermentation process, but it won’t be through “working” for a few more weeks so he’ll have to make sure the pails are vented as we travel south. The pails are very heavy and they’ll go in near the end of our packing, but we want everything moved into the truck Wednesday or Thursday.

    Friday morning, the plan is to get up early and finish getting everything ready to go by about 8:00 a.m. John’s oxygen generator can’t be packed until last minute. The TVs need to be unhooked, coffee pot cleaned out, and water system drained and winterized, and bed made.

    It’ll take about an hour to finish everything. Getting up at 7:00 won’t be bad but we’ll have a long day. If we do the trip in two days and leave at 8:00, we’ll probably be on the road the first day for about 11 hours! Which means we won’t arrive until about 7:00 p.m. If we stretch it over three days, we can will ride for about nine hours which might be more sensible because we’d be in our room by about 5:00 p.m. We’ll play it by ear.

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    Fruit Flies

    John’s been making wine from grapes he grew and paring apples for applesauce using our home-grown apples. The results are always great but the fruit flies are swarming. They’re too fast and tiny to swat but they sure are annoying. Love the wine. We enjoy the applesauce. Don’t like the flies.

    John does everything he can to discourage them but nothing works. He’s put dishes of vinegar and dish detergent on the counter, put water bubblers in the spouts of the fermenting grape juice, and the kitchen gets scrubbed continuously.

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    Finding Help

    In the U.P. we found a guy named Guy who helps us maintain the property by taking down trees, etc. His service has really been a life-saver.

    Our Saginaw property is a lot more work and John has tried to do it all himself. It’s too much for him (us). The past few years we’ve hired a lawn service to clean up our leaves after we leave for Florida, but there’s more than needs to be done.

    Yesterday we found a fellow who helps our next door neighbors with their yard. His rates are very reasonable and today he’ll help John with a project he started last year (building a retaining wall maintain the lakeshore.) He may not be able to do the leaf clean-up, but John will see where he can use him.

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    Preparing for “Next Time”

    We escaped without any damage from Irma but next time we might not be as lucky. We will do something about our windows so we don’t have to worry. Either I’d like to see hurricane shutters that I can put up, or hurricane rated windows. We also need to find a way that someone can check on our place.

    Eventually, I hope we aren’t going back and forth so the likelihood will be greater. I’m convinced that the global warming effect will create more events like Harvey and Irma.

    And I feel it’s important to get a portable light-weight generator. John needs something to back-up his batteries. He feels that he could re-charge in the car and the need to store extra gas would be difficult.

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    We came through Irma without damage

    According to Helen Ann, the neighbor at the opposite end of our four-unit building, our place came through unscathed. We didn’t lose power, so our refrigerator should be ok. She said she has original windows and they held up fine. I’m sure ours did too. We’ll hear, if friends see anything wrong.

    If there was damage, I was thinking about making a trip by myself. Instead we’ll proceed with our plans to leave here on the 6th and arrive by the 8th. Let’s hope it doesn’t get extremely hot because there could be a little moisture which would mean mold.

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    Am I’m Going Crazy?

    I’ve been watching things closely, using live feeds from the Tampa TV channels. As a result, I have created a strange mental state. I keep looking out my window here in Michigan and wondering why there’s no sign of the approaching storm. My anxiety is over the top!

    I wonder if it’s normal.

    Today is our anniversary but my concern over the storm has made me reluctant to leave home where I can watch the reports.

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    Where are our weak spots, if the hurricane hits our condo?

    Our condo has a great roof and has been checked for wind mitigation, so it’s probably safe.

    We have a total of seven windows in our condo. Actually the one window is a 9′ sliding hurricane-proof three-panel door in the great room. It should be secure, but it has never been tested in a storm. There is another new window in the great room but it doesn’t have the same high rating against wind. It would probably do ok, since it meets new standards. That leaves five other windows. Two of them are tall and skinny and protected by the lanai roof. I don’t worry about them. But there is a window in each of the bedrooms. The one in the master bedroom is pretty good sized and it’s original. It faces west and could be vulnerable. The guest bedroom’s window is smaller, and faces east. The dining room has one about the same size as the guest room on the north side. Depending on the wind direction, I’m most concerned about the master bedroom window. It air leaks and should have been replaced when we did the great room. The dining room and guest room somehow don’t seem as risky.

    John’s worried that our lanai, especially the addition without screens could lift up and we’d lose it. We have a really tall palm tree outside the dining room. It might be shredded.

    For several years, we have been babying a bird of paradise plant. It’s about three feet tall and fragile.

    Our “safe rooms” are the two bathrooms and the office. No windows and on the inside.

    The garage door might not be very strong. It faces east.

    If we have a power failure our refrigerator will go out. In refrigerated part we leave condiments, but the nothing that would spoil. The freezer area would have some protein so it might smell. It’ll be bad by the time we get there in 30 days. Maybe we can leave earlier. Or maybe we can pay someone to go in and dump out our refrigerator.

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    Abandoned Condo

    As Irma approaches, I’m glad we are safe in Michigan but I can’t help but feel that we’re missing something memorable. I pray all of our friends and every Kings Point resident is safe, but I feel almost neglectful and traitorous because I’m not there in my favorite community to keep my home safe and protected.

    I love the people of Kings Point. Our condo is “home” to me. It’s my haven.

    It seems that we should be there to protect our place. Probably there’s little we could do but it somehow feels we’ve abandoned the place I love most.

    Our refrigerator was left running. There’s stuff in the freezer that will smell, if power is lost for any length of time. If we’d stayed behind, we’d have made ice blocks to keep it chilled. We’d be watching the vulnerable windows.

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    Praying for friends in Florida

    I remember when Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda, Florida, in 2004. I was a good friend of Mary Lou Orthey who lived on the Peace River in Punta Gorda. We exchanged emails as the water overflowed the river and created a mess. When the flooding got bad, she wrote that she was sitting in her living room watching the water rise. She said, “My feet are wet. The Peace River is flowing through my living room. Hope it doesn’t go any higher.”

    There were several storms that year that came through Florida. Each one affected her with winds and rain. She finally headed north (to her son’s house) to get away while contractors rebuilt her house. Coincidentally yet another late-arriving storm diverted her plane when she was heading back to her Florida home. She really felt the storms had zeroed in on her.

    I couldn’t help but think of Mary Lou’s situation when I heard that our good Florida friends, Sharon & Dave, had driven north to escape the approaching massive Hurricane Irma. I hope it doesn’t follow them and they are safe.

    I don’t know what we’d do if we were in Florida right now. The storm is huge and if it goes down the center of the state, it’ll affect both the east and west coast. Folks in Kings Point, Sun City Center are battening down the hatches, hoping that it stays far enough east that Sun City Center is spared.

    We’re following all the projected storm tracks. My concern is growing.

    If you look at the above graphic, you can see where the storm is projected to be after midnight Sunday-Monday. Our Sun City Center condo is where the star is located. It won’t be a direct hit, but it’s undoubtedly going to create a mess. I hope our windows and screened-in lanai withstand the winds which are projected to gust to about 70 miles per hour.

    It’ll be bad if we do have damage. I’m sure Richard, Bill, Jan, Ron, or any of our other full-time Kings Point friends would look in on the place for us, but if the storm hits Kings Point hard, they’ll have their own problems.

    Our friends, Guy and Sharrie George, appear to be in a direct-hit zone just south of Daytona Beach. Guy is an entertainer at several outdoor tiki bars/grills/restaurants on Ponce Inlet. They were still open today, so I’m sure he hasn’t left yet. Hope they are safe.

    ==================

    UPDATE –

    Now the projected storm’s eye will most likely be more westerly. It now appears it’ll pass nearly over Sun City Center. It’s scary!

    You can see the westerly movement has probably changed the impact on Sun City Center and Kings Point.

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    Paperwork and accomplishments that don’t show

    Yesterday I was a “paper work” day. I wrote out our three Michigan property tax checks and mailed them, found entertainment for the Michigan Club’s pizza party (February 20th), sent a reminder to my volunteer workers for that party, and completed the disclosure papers for listing our U.P. property with a realtor. I was busy all day but it looked like I’d been idle. Not so.

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    I’ve done it again

    Why can’t I resist a cute bargain purchase?

    This summer I have purchased a floaty sheer top, a pink top, red top, and two black ones. They’re all types I’ll enjoy wearing at parties in Florida. I also purchased a nice pair of white slacks and two skorts (black and white).

    I also purchased two dresses, a pair of black low heels, a pair of black every-day sandals, flat sandals that are really stretchy and some tan casual ones. Back on July 23rd on this blog, I posted photos of some of the tops and one of the dresses. The more recent purchases are also cute.

    I already know I’m sorta disappointed in the dresses and one top, but the other tops, skorts and sandals will come in handy. (You always need to wear fresh items when attending parties so I’m set!)

    When we head back, I’ll leave some of the older stuff but I’ll probably be taking back more items than I brought. That’s ok, but it’ll be hard to conceal my purchases from John who never pays much attention to my clothing until it comes to packing it all in the truck.

    I guess I am never satisfied but at least I shop frugally. Most of the tops were $5-$10 and I got everything (even with the four pair of sandals) for a total well under $200!

    I guess I really am a “cheap date.”

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    Back at our Lake Cecil home

    John concerned me when he seemed to change his mind Friday about selling our U.P. place. That was Friday, but by the time we’d packed up everything and started back, he realized it was too much. We just can’t do it again!

    We were totally exhausted when we drove back. It’s now decided that we have to unload our place. We doubt that we’ll get much for a 1964 trailer, but the land is beautiful.

    At this point, I’d almost give it away (well, maybe not quite). We bought it for $30,000 back in 1990. Hopefully, we can recoup some of what we spent on the electricity and the deck, but I don’t want to ever go up again. I fear it could do us in. (Our realtor is thinking maybe $75,000.)

    The beach is sorta back. We believe it’ll be even better after the DNR sprays the weeds this fall. The bottom is sand and fine gravel. Thank heavens, we didn’t see any stones which plague so much of the shoreline to our left and right.

    Our handyman, Guy is going to burn the many trees he cut down for us, once the ground is covered with snow. He will wait until he can safely do it. He’s also going to clear some of the trees in our driveway so it’ll get sunshine and it’ll dry out.

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    Final Cleaning

    We’re preparing the place for sale. I’m scrubbing floors, washing windows, and purging as much as I can. No, it’ll never be clean. This place has 60+ years of grime so it’s bad, but we’d like to find a buyer and maybe a little spit and polish will help.

    The problem is, if it doesn’t sell, we want to be able to come back up next summer because by then it’ll need to be groomed a little again. (If we’re able.) Normally we leave behind staples like sugar, spices, etc. Those things are trivial and we’d be glad to just leave them here.

    We are taking home a radio, a lounge chair, binoculars, but that’s about it. The rest will either be here for the buyer or for us next year.

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    Saving his dignity

    It’s hard when a man is faced with the loss of strength and now has severe limitations.

    John is faced with diminishing physical abilities, but he doesn’t want to give up and I sure don’t want to rob him of any pleasures and accomplishments but it’s hard on both of us.

    Do I offer to do it, or do I give him a chance to prove he still has that ability?

    He went outside to work on clearing the area between our trailer and the water’s edge. I had walked it yesterday. I knew he’d have a hard time navigating the undergrowth on his little mobility scooter. I finally went out and pushed him up the hill. He would have sat there for hours if I hadn’t volunteered. But I hate to take away the feeling of accomplishment.

    Yesterday, when I said to him “I just can’t do it any longer” I was also giving him an “out.” If I can’t do it, it’ll be easier for him to follow suit. I know it’s too much for him. The truth is it’s too much for either of us but I could have kept quiet. He probably would have felt less willing to admit that we have to give it up. Now I’ve lowered the bar… the expectations are lessened. Hopefully, he’ll be more willing to give it up because I really don’t want to come back up here again… ever.

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    I’m too old for this!

    We made it to the Upper Peninsula. It was about 3:30 when we arrived.

    But I am realizing it just takes too much effort to be here. Packing was a multi-day chore. After driving/riding for 350 miles, we had to bring things inside, get water pump working, clean up the mouse droppings, make sure the toilet was usable, make beds, make sure the appliances work, etc. When I finally got to sit down, I was so hot and tired that I thought, “Never again.”

    I’d give this place away before I’d subject us to more trips up here and the work required.

    John will be 80 in March. I’m 75. It would be difficult for someone 30 years younger than us.

    The pump weighs about 50 pounds. Together we got it from inside the trailer to the well, and it worked! But the trees that were barely noticeable last year are invasive this year. They’re blocking the view so they have to go. Cutting them is going to take more effort than John has to waste. I can’t do it.

    If I had to describe how I feel about this place, I’d say I dislike it because it’s robbing us of our energy at a time when we don’t have a surplus to give.

    We work too hard to get here, and then we work repacking for home only to get back and have to unpack. It’s not fun. It’s not relaxing.

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    A summer highlight

    Friday John and I went out for a yummy walleye dinner at the Saginaw Moose Lodge. Dixie Highway Band started playing at 7:00 and they’re our favorite country-style group.

    Of course, I realize John’s breathing problem limits his stamina so we haven’t danced much since he went on oxygen a year ago. We used to dance several times a week, especially in Florida. I miss that form of entertainment and exercise but I am happy to listen to the music.

    Friday night Russ, Vickie, a new guitarist, and Lonnie sounded really good. When the band played our favorite tune “Wagon Wheel,” John surprised me and asked me to dance. No, we didn’t last the whole dance (not even half of it) but we had fun. And he asked me again later. I’m sure I can look forward to slipping into his arms when we’re at dances in Florida. It’ll be fun even if we don’t last long on the floor. And little by little I see he’s regaining some of his strength from all of his hospitalizations last year.

    When you have a health condition like John has, it doesn’t just affect him. Our lives are totally different. But being with him is always my pleasure.

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    Take to the U.P.

    Yup, I’ve made a list of stuff to take to the U.P. This will serve as a dry-run for our trip to Florida. True, I don’t need to bring nearly as much for five days in the Upper Peninsula, but there will be similarities and I’m sure I’ll end up with additions to my current, lengthy list for our October return to our condo.

    I always start my “October return trip” packing lists before we are even home in May. Before I’ve unpacked, it’s easier to list the stuff that I’ll be taking back with me. I also edit last year’s list.

    The U.P. trip has a lot of stuff that I don’t need for Florida because I leave a lot in our condo. For example, I have to take all the bedding (sheets, mattress pad, blankets, pillows) as well as kitchen and bathroom towels to the U.P. (Leaving them there would invite mice and smells to invade them. Of course in Florida, the bedding and linens are on the beds, in the kitchen towel drawer, and in the linen closet.

    During this trip to the U.P., we intended to “clean out” our trailer so we can put it on the market. There is stuff in the trailer which we’ll leave behind (kitchen dishes, small appliances, little heater, etc.) but old clothes, books, magazines, etc. can all go in the trash. We don’t need to leave it spotless, but we do need to clean the floors, etc. I’m not looking forward to the work.

    Yup, I’m more than a tad lazy.

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    Not especially hot here

    The past couple of weeks here in Michigan it’s been in the 70s and low 80s. Not especially hot.

    I read the weather forecast the other day for our Florida community. The temperature that day was 94° for a high and a real feel of 120°!!

    When I expressed concern, one Florida friend said she just stays inside in the A/C. That’s true. When in the south we do avoid the outside heat by quickly moving in and out. And when we’re on the golf cart, the moving air always makes it comfortable.

    But at 120°, even the pool wouldn’t be refreshing. I generally plunk down in a shady lounge chair on the pool deck and only go in the water to “cool off.” Walking barefoot would hurt. “Cooling off” would need to be constant which means I’d probably get a sunburn.

    But I’m hopeful that the October temperatures will be a bit more comfortable. In days we’ll leave for our southern paradise.

    I have promised myself that I’ll hang out at the pool at least two or three times a week. Last year I used our patio, but there’s no water there. I want a little sun color. I was pasty white last year. I don’t like leaving John, but maybe I can get him to sit in the shade with me. At least we see friends there.

    Next week we’ll be in the Upper Peninsula and I fear we’ll be darn chilly. I’m packing primarily sweat and long pants. Shorts and swim suits probably won’t be worn. (Might take one of each.) When we arrive we won’t have any screens so temps that are a little cool will probably be ok. We plan to fix the screen soon after we get there. We do have a fan.

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    OCD? Our finances.. Part IV

    NOTE: Can you tell I love writing? This OCD topic isn’t of interest to anyone but me, but putting down my thoughts provides me comfort, and points out my quirkiness so I can reign it in (if need be).

    When it comes to watching our finances, I’m very careful. I have an ongoing spread sheet which I have maintained since 2007. It shows a rolling total of our “net worth.”

    In this spread sheet, I have listed our out-going payments (condo HOA, health care expenses, utilities, etc.) and our income (pension, social security, and any other money coming in). The income minus the out-go shows where we stand financially on a daily basis.

    The spread sheet is nearly 4,000 lines long and every day a new line is added. Each morning I take the time to “resolve” the sheet and make sure the money is there to cover any expenditures.

    If you ask how much we are worth, I can tell you to the penny.

    Our Florida condo, Thomas Township house, and U.P. property are hard to zero-in on but I try to estimate (using Zillow) so those values are added to the overall picture. Our investments are listed and updated when we get statements from the investment firms. It can’t be exact, but I try to have a picture of our finances so we are assured of the cash to make all payments.

    I don’t know of anyone else who goes to the lengths I go to resolve their financial picture. It is comforting to me to know exactly where we stand and, like being responsible for our trip arrangements, I take it very seriously.

    I guess working for St. Mary’s Medical Center for 23 1/2 years trained me for the role I have assumed. I was the “planning person” for St. Mary’s. Now I’m the planner for our household.

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    OCD? Part III

    My previous two posts have covered the possibility that I may have a form of OCD.

    I am obsessive about reservations for our October trip south and packing lists but I am anything but tidy and neat. My house is a mess and you can trip on the dust-bunnies. Why? Well, in part because I’m busy making lists for our trip in less than two months.

    It would really bug me to find, after getting to Florida, that I’d forgotten something.

    An example of the problem which occurs when I may have “left something behind” can be demonstrated with my small Edirol digital recorder. No, I haven’t needed it but it’s been missing since arriving here in the spring. It’s “probably” safe in our Florida condo (I think I forgot it when we packed to head north) but it bothers the heck out of me to be uncertain.

    If we get back to our southern home and I can’t locate the recorder, I’ll have to wait over six months to get back to Michigan to look for it. It’ll drive me crazy. So it bothers me. Should I continue to search for it here? (I’ve looked everywhere for it.) Logically, I have concluded that it’s in Florida since I last saw it there and don’t recall packing it. You can see that until we get down there, it’s a no-win situation. I haven’t found it here, so evidently it’s there…. but what if it isn’t?

    To avoid that situation I have learned to photograph my clothes hanging in my closet before leaving Florida in May, and before leaving Michigan in October. I also photograph the clothes as I’m packing them. That way, if I am uncertain if an item is here or there, I can look at the photos and try to spot if it was packed.

    Yes, I guess I’m a little compulsive, but careful and detailed lists, saves looking for a particular item, only to find I left it at our other home.

    I nearly always forget something. It’s sometimes just a specific pair of scissors or a top I’d planned to wear. Generally, it’s something I can get by without or something I can replace, but it still causes me grief and lost sleep, so I make lists and double check them while packing.

    One thing is certain, even if something is forgotten, we’ll get by without it or purchase a replacement. Nothing will cause us to make a 1,300-mile trip back (I say as I knock on wood).

    And it’s not just me. When we made our trip north in May, some bread we’d planned to use for sandwiches on the way north was left on the kitchen counter. I’m sure it’ll still be there when we arrive on October 8th. That oversight bothered John a lot more than me. No, we didn’t consider going back, but he fumed about it for several hundred miles. So I also include items I fear John will forget and add them to my checklist.

    Maybe my OCD is rubbing off on him.

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    Do I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)? Part II

    I talked about my “trip compulsions” but even more severe is my compulsion for lists (especially regarding the stuff which goes back to Florida).

    There’s no way we can just do a “whoops” if I forget something so I try to be certain that everything is packed and/or ready before we pull out.

    I make lists of stuff to do before leaving (like contacting our credit card company, notifying the police and water dept.) as well as calls to assure everything is ready in Florida when we arrive (our mail will be delivered on schedule, our newspaper will be there, and cable will be on).

    I have packing lists for clothes and items that need to be taken back with us. It would be really annoying if we got back and discovered we’d forgotten John’s handicapped parking placard, or the digital clock which goes on the wall outside the guest room bath, or my favorite afghan, or our air purifier. You get the idea. So my lists are made and re-checked over and over.

    Stuff gets added and subtracted as I read and re-read the lists. I start new lists. Maybe I should do one on chores I need to perform before leaving. (Laundry, windows closed, etc.)

    I’d like to leave most of my clothes in Michigan but I’ve made some excellent purchases this summer including three pairs of low-heeled sandals and a pair of heels. They need to go with us so I can wear them in Florida this season.

    On July 23rd, my post to this blog included some of my purchases this summer. I also bought two skorts (black & white), three dresses (fitted bright colors stretchy, knit (Roni Nichole) stretchy and a maxi dress), a bathing suit, a pair of white slacks, and those blog mentioned super cute tops (water colors, red bare off shoulder, black halter-style plus a more recent purchased halter-style silvery).

    I need to leave a similar number of items so I have clothes in Michigan and I don’t have to haul as much back and forth.

    Some stuff I haul because I need them both places and don’t want to buy more. An example: my summer robes. I have two nice ones which I drag back and forth. I do leave behind a winter-weight robe in both locations. Jackets also get moved back and forth. I don’t wear them that often, but I need a light-weight jacket or two. I actually have three: brown fuzzy, green really light weight, and a cardigan style off-white.

    And there are items like our air purifier, my back up drives, several pairs of scissors. No point buying dupes of those things but I sure don’t want to be without them.

    I study my lists. They are long and detailed.

    Do I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to list-making for stuff to take to Florida or do before leaving?

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    Do I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)? Part I

    No, I’m not compulsively neat nor is my house organized, but when it comes to planning for our trip south, I am obsessive.

    I think it’s because I feel the planning for motels and other stops is my responsibility. John drives. I make sure everything comes together smoothly.

    The reservations for a single over-night stop (on October 6th) have been made since May 26th.

    I know that was way ahead of the normal way to make plans, but I do have a good reason: I’ve found that many motels, if booked sufficiently far out, will have lower rates and allow cancellations at 4:00 pm on the day of the reservations.

    Last year, I didn’t book soon enough. Our original plan had been to stay on the first night at the half-way point, the Quality Inn in Sweetwater, TN, but when I had tried to make the reservation, I found that, because I’d waited to book until a few weeks before we’d need the room, any cancellation of the reservation would have to be a full day (24 hours) earlier than our first night’s stop. We need to be more flexible. We MUST be able to change our reservations on that day while we’re on the road. And, since we aren’t sure how John’ll hold up, we can’t know the day before.

    As it was, instead of two days and one night, we were on the road for three days and two nights. We couldn’t have made it to Sweetwater that first day. We’d have been forced to pay for a room we couldn’t use.

    So this year I started earlier (in May). Sure enough, this year, I got a decent rate at the motel in Sweetwater, TN, and if necessary we can cancel up until 4:00 p.m. on the day of the reservation. Sweetwater is our preferred stopping point but only if we can make the 1,250 mile trip in two days and one night.

    To allow changes, I have also made reservations for the two overnight stops on a slower trip south. That way we can take three days and two nights, if we need them. And for even more flexibility, for the second night, I also have booked two reservations in southern Georgia so we have two choices about 50 miles apart.

    We just have to decide by 4:00 p.m. each day.

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    Take to Florida or Leave in Michigan? That is the question..

    Since we have sort of decided that our Michigan home should be ready to go on the market when we leave for Florida next October, we know we’ll have to get rid of a lot of stuff and find storage space in our Florida condo for items we won’t want to get rid of.

    An example is the harp that John built. It’ll definitely go to Florida. We’re going to have a lot of items like that but we don’t want to overload our Florida condo and, since we don’t have much storage, we’re going to have to be very selective.

    This winter, I want to hire someone with carpentry skills so we can have our Florida “office area” converted into floor to ceiling storage as well as additional storage in the garage. There are cabinets in the office now, but they can be moved to the garage. I want him to build deep-as-possible cabinets, pantry, and closets. I have the design in mind but we need to talk to someone who can make sure it’s done right. The wood can be basic plywood painted white. I’m not expecting it to be quality cabinets, just storage space.

    Since we’ll still have limited storage, we won’t be able to re-locate too much. I know there are some things that we must take, but a lot will be sold next summer. (We’ll sell our stuff using an estate sale service.)

    In addition to my harp, we’ll want to keep some of our musical instruments, John’s dulcimer, his banjo, my dad’s tenor guitar and my autoharp, some stain glass items, some of my collection of craft books, the sling style rocking lounger (in our trailer now to use on our patio), an afgan or two, my sewing machine in its stand (I’ll get rid of the one in Florida), maybe our headboard, my chest of drawers, and the two oak living room end tables John made (to use in Florida as bedside stands), the long walnut coffee table (currently on the loft balcony) to exchange with the table we currently use, the oak file cabinet and print cabinet (in the dining room) so I can set up an office in our B.R., the two brown and white folding chairs John wove, the framed artwork over our bed, and a few miscellaneous items.

    If we get the corner curio cabinet I have picked out (from Wayfair), maybe I’d like to keep some glassware and knit knacks.

    It might be easier to bring some of the stuff back with us this October. An example is the award and yard statue the ODPC gave me.

    It’s hard to get John to think about devesting ourselves of this house, but he knows it has to happen. I doubt that I can get him to start moving items south.

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    Heading north in a couple weeks

    Hopefully we’ll have decent, warm, bug-free weather when we go up to our Upper Peninsula place. We want to get it ready to sell.

    Last year we talked with a realtor about listing it but he didn’t seem interested and never got back with us at all so we’ll find someone else.

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