Archive for2007-06 to 08 – Summer in Michigan 2008

Two days to go..

It’s Saturday night and I’m really tired after an exhausting day getting ready for our trip. John’s much better after his surgery, but he isn’t supposed to lift over 10 pounds and isn’t allowed to drive. A lot of our preparation required lifting. We/I loaded the truck and picked fruit (grapes, apples, and pears). I’m not complaining because John usually does most of the heavy work, but I’m just not as strong as he is and admittedly I’m out of shape. But now most everything is done. He’s even decided to make some pear wine tomorrow.

Today was also our subdivision “garage sale.” We didn’t participate but we visited a few neighbors to see what they had for sale. It was late in the day, so everything was picked over and we bought very little. (Thank heavens. We already have enough junk.)

Tomorrow (Sunday) we’ll finish packing, make the wine, and I want to do another load of laundry and clean house. Monday we’ll finish up everything, we’ll do a little last minute shopping, and John will have his pre-departure check-up by his surgeon. We should be ready to leave by 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.

I’m a little stressed. It’s my responsibility. John needs to recover from his surgery so I don’t want him to have anything to worry about.

Comments off

John’s ok… we’re preparing

Yesterday John had his hernia surgery. He’s still not back to his old self, but doing darned good. We’re preparing to leave Tuesday a.m. (He goes to his doctor Monday to get the go-ahead.)

He’s restricted to lifting only 10 lbs. so he really can’t pack or get us ready to go so it will be my responsibility. I’ll do it.

I’m anxious to get down there. I miss Mom and I think we’ll have a great time down there. This will be the first time we’ve ever been able to go without extra distracting “baggage.” (The last time we stayed with my mother’s husband’s (Hoagie’s) daughter for over a month and when she left, she took much more than she was entitled to.) Before that, our place was really depressingly dirty and we lived in the guest room. This time it’s been renovated and we have the whole place so we can just relax and have a good time.

I haven’t mentioned “Comfort Keepers,” the caregiver service I’ve hired. I’m really pleased with the lady who is helping with Mom in my absence. I pay her for three hours of care five days a week. It sounds like Mom’s doing much better with the extra stimulation of someone who is there for her.

We’ve talked with our buddy, Bob, who also returns to Florida this Thursday. My good friend and neighbor, Loretta, is looking forward to our visit. So when we arrive we will have friends to spend time with and a comfortable place to call “home.”

I hope we get there Thursday in time for Rockin’ Rondevous from 4:00-7:00. Can’t think of a better way to say “we’re here!”

Comments off

Our Trip’s Postponed

John’s groin injury Friday was uncomfortable and swollen for the rest of the festival. He went to his internal medicine doctor Monday and was sent to a surgeon Wednesday. He’ll have hernia repair surgery next Tuesday, the 4th. We’ll be able to leave for Florida the following Tuesday (the 11th) which is a week later than we’d planned but that’s certainly ok. His health is paramount. He won’t be able to lift anything before or immediately after the surgery. I’m so darned puny that it’s tough to think of packing without his help, but I’ll get it done.

It’s good that we aren’t leaving this Tuesday. John’s grapes aren’t ripe. There’s still packing to be completed. And we’re still in slow motion after being exhausted from the festival.

Comments off

A Review of Five Busy Days…

We arrived at the Midland Dulcimer Festival on Wednesday, August 22nd. It was hot and a little rainy that day, but the evening was flawless for our Haithco Concert. About 200 showed up in our audience and over 30 musicians. We enjoyed a lovely event.

Thursday was a hot and rainy day but busy. The evening potluck turned out great. Food was plentiful and everyone went away satisfied. Music was played well into the night.

Friday more folks arrived and there was more rain. The festival aims at 100 campers and we passed that level so we should do ok. Music was still going strong at 3:30 a.m. and chatter until well after 4:00. Friday was a tough day. A friend had a health crisis, another camper died (a cancer victim who wanted to be at the festival) and John hurt himself with a muscle tear.

Saturday was really hectic. Morning rain ended. The sun came out. Temperatures dropped to a comfortable level. The workshops all weekend were well attended. I was emcee for the Saturday evening show which started with a huge crowd. (Next year it will be shorter so folks won’t leave before it’s over.) We turned in about 1:30 and most of the music quit earlier than the previous two nights.

Sunday we got up, and spent the day packing. It was time to head home but before we left six of us went out to dinner. A nice finale.

So now we’re back at home.

In a week we should be packed so we can head to Florida. We’re tired.

Humble John should be really satisfied but he’d never toot his own horn. He and Margaret Loper did a great job organizing this event. When the finances are computed we’ll know how successful it was but regardless, it was a wonderful time.

Comments off

Unpack – repack – again and again

Seems we’re always packing. This time it’s so we can head to the Midland Dulcimer Festival. This time is a fairly easy chore (unlike Evart when we take everything imaginable). I also find it easier when we use our trailer because so much is already “in place.”

We’ll be leaving tomorrow (early) for the fairgrounds in Midland. That’ll be Wednesday. We’ll stay until Sunday. Festivals are always as much “work” for us as they are “fun.” For this one John’s in charge so he has a lot of responsibilities. I don’t have anything official to do except organize and emcee the Saturday night stage show. I also hang around our campsite so I can monitor the copy machine. John, on the other hand, works really hard. He’s always on the go.

Oh, yes, and we also have the Concert tomorrow night at Haithco Park in Saginaw Township. The Concert is kind of the kickoff for the festival and it’s our baby.

We’ve been kind of worn out all day today. Yesterday we were on the local TV channel (TV-5) during their morning show. It was a live broadcast so we had to be up at 3:55!! We were on the air several times between 5:15 and 6:45 – yup, that’s A.M. We promoted the Wednesday concert at Haithco Park and the festival.

When we get back from the festival, we’ll start thinking about our trip to Florida. We leave two weeks from today. I’m determined to simplify our Florida preparation. I want it to eventually just take an hour or two to pack. More and more stuff stays at the condo and we don’t need to bring it back and forth. We’re getting it down to a science.

Comments off

What happens when we’re home?

We got home from the U.P. on August 4th, so what’s gone on since then?

Well, we’ve installed a beautiful kitchen sink with lovely new faucets, and new garbage disposal. We’ve done lots of laundry, and I’ve spent at least a couple or three days totally redesigned two of my websites: ( and

Why the sudden interest in my website designs? We were notified by TV-5 (WNEM-TV) that we will be interviewed Monday, August 20. The interview will focus on the August 22nd Haithco Concert and Midland Dulcimer Festival. John will be playing, I’ll be talking. The websites for Sub-Strings and the Folk Music Society (festival) will be mentioned on the TV-5 Website for reference. They need to look top-notch and professional. I hope you agree, they look pretty good now.

On the 20th, we will be interviewed live three separate times 5:45, 6:15 and 6:45 a.m.!! That means we need to leave by 5:00 A.M. so we can get to Haithco. Each interview will only be 30-90 seconds. But apparently the audiences are in excess of 200,000, so it’s worth the time.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

Next week is the Midland Dulcimer Festival. It’ll run officially from August 23-26, but we will need to be at the Midland Fairgrounds on the 22nd or earlier.

Today. I’ve been organizing my part, the Saturday Night Stage Show. John’s been ordering porta potties, water fountains, canopies, and golf carts. We’ll be ready, but it’s always a challenge. We need to get some copy paper and pick up the copier and have lots of other stuff ready.

I need to get busy packing the trailer which was “stripped” after we got back from Evart. It’s a mess!

When we get back from Midland we’ll only be home about a week before we head to Florida for September and October.

Next Monday, as an example, we need to go to Haithco for the 5:00 a.m. interview. We also need to meet with Mom’s financial advisor to discuss on her security which will take two to three hours. In the afternoon, John must set up the areas for workshop and other canopies at the Midland Fairgrounds. Oh, yes, and Bill Kuhlman has arranged for us to donate our time playing for an ice cream social from 5:00-7:30 p.m. (and I’m lactose intollerant). Just a typical day.

John and I have been practicing three tunes for the three times we’ll be interviewed Monday. We’ll do “March of St. Timothy,” “Angle Worm Wiggle” and “Pig Ankle Rag.”

“‘Ain’t’ life grand?” I love being busy. I love having challenges.

Comments off

Leaving the U.P.

The U.P., to any Michiganders, means the Upper Peninsula of our great state.

It’s Saturday a.m. and we’re headed home. We packed and winterized the place in record time (90 minutes) and were on the road by 8:30. John has a performance with the Flint Banjo Club at 4:00 which means he must leave home by about 2:30. We should make it home about 2:00. It’ll be close, but we’re on-schedule.

Highway 2, which we’re on headed east, has little commerce with the exception of a few mom and pop motels, an occasional small restaurant, and a once-in-a-whilel work-from-home business but mainly it’s woods and undeveloped land. The traffic’s light. We’re still quite a distance from the Mighty Mac (the Mackinaw Bridge which joins the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

The word “bridge” is a little frightenng this week, with the collapse of the Minneapolis bridge into the MIssissippi.

When we get home and un-pack, we need to start packing for the Midland Dulcimer Festival. John’s a co-chair of that event so he’ll be busy for the next couple of weeks making final arrangements. We’ll probably at the fairgrounds in Midland, where the event is held, from about the August 21-26.

Then as soon as we can get ready, we’ll head back to Florida for September and October.

We seem to be always on the go, but I’m not complaining. It’s a great life!

Comments off

Heat in the U.P.

Whoever thinks that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a cold area, should be here this week. It’s been hovering around 90-95 degrees since we arrived Tuesday. Hopefully it’ll cool down tomorrow. I’m tired of sitting in front of a fan to feel a miniscule amount of relief from the heat.

It’s been a really disappointing visit. We never know what it’ll be like up here and this year, getting into the water (Lake Michigan) is impossible.

When we bought the place about 16 years ago, we had a wonderful sandy beach with about 200 feet of frontage and maybe 25-30 feet of sugar sand beach. We spent most of our time in the crystal clear water swimming or floating around or walking the beach. But for the past seven or eight years, the whole Great Lake’s area has experienced a drought. All of the Great Lakes have much lower water levels. That means that the area that was once the shallow water close to shore is now dry land. The water is much further out. And because it’s so low, there’s been a lot of vegatation that’s washed up and caused a gunk along the water’s edge. This year it’s the worst.

From where we used to sit at the water’s edge to where the water is now is probably more than 150 feet!!! Most of that is high grass or cat tails. For about the last 50 feet, it’s just muck. There’s no way we can wade through it to get out to the clear water. So we can see the water from our deck, but not enjoy it. Last year we were able to clear about a 15 foot beach. This year, because of the muck, we can’t do anything about it. About the only solution would be a dock out about 75 feet! Of course it would have to be removed at the end of the season because the winter ice would break it up. So construction of such a project isn’t going to happen since we don’t get up here much.

So we’ve been depressed about the water table. Everyone says the Polar Ice Caps are melting and sooner or later the lakes will be rising, but it hasn’t happened yet, and instead because of global warming, we’ve got this drought and subsequent mess with our beaches.

When we bought the property with the trailer, it was really cheap. As the years went by, water front property like ours really went up in value. We were tickled that our property was worth about five times what we paid for it. We thought we really had a treasure. But now I doubt anyone would want it.

John works hard when we’re here. Just opening up the place is always a chore. When we arrived Tuesday, a line from the pump had a hole, so he fixed that. And then later he had a hard time getting the water heater to light. About bed time, he went to plug in our electric coffee maker and it shorted out all the power in the house. Actually that was an easy problem to solve. We just tossed out the coffee maker and used one that works on a burner instead (and the coffee has been GREAT!)

John cleared the driveway in to our place. The grasses and trees have really filled it considerably since last year. He used a chain saw to chop out some of the encroaching trees. If we didn’t come for a year, I doubt that we’d be able to get in. I don’t do well around the cutting of grass and weeds because of allergies, so I am stuck in here when he mows.

We do have a window air conditioner which we could put in our kitchen window and it would cool the place, but if we did, we would end up staying inside all the time with the windows closed. At least the way it is now, we leave the doors and windows open, and when the sun moves around the trailer, we’ll be able to sit on the deck and enjoy the view.

I know my whole blog message has sounded negative. There are some nice features of this place.

The view of Lake Michigan from our deck is fantastic. The sunrise photo at the top of this page is from our deck.

The number of hummingbirds is phenominal. I put out a hummingbird feeder today after I had one of the tiny birds hover about three feet from me and I could tell he was begging for some sugar water. It didn’t take long before he was feeding from our feeder, but I haven’t seen the half dozen or so that we had last year.

It’s really quiet and tranquil. Only the waves and the birds break the silence.

We can tell that this spring we had about eight showy ladies slippers this spring which are wild orchids. We still have a few wild raspberries growing in the woods around our place although it’s past the peak season. There are also other wild flowers and the other vegetation is plentiful. John dug up a pretty white pine to take back to our place in Saginaw.

So although the water table is low and our property on Lake Michigan no longer represents a wonderful swimming get-away to us, it is still lovely from many aspects.

Today is Thursday. Tomorrow night we’ll go out for a good fish dinner and we’ll head home Saturday. We have have only seen two other humans since we pulled into this place Tuesday: our power company meter reader stopped by today and someone walking the beach went past but didn’t see us.

I’d just as soon be back on Lake Cecil in the lower peninsula in Saginaw County where we live, but this visit will make us appreciate what we have at home: air conditioning, comfort, fewer bugs, and no musty smell.

Comments off

Bumps in the road…

We’re on our way northward (to our place in the U.P.).

We’re only been home from Evart for nine days, but it seems like it was a looonnnng while ago.

We got home on Sunday (the 22nd) and Wednesday (the 25th) we played music for our monthly Haithco Concert with our club (Saginaw Subterranean Strings). It started out iffy weather-wise, because it was raining until about 30 minutes before we played and therefore our audience was small. But we had a pleasant evening.

One of our performers was Ralph Beyersdorf, the “character” of our club. He’s the kind of guy who loves to get under your skin but everyone enjoys his humor. Ralph was in fine form Wednesday at Haithco.

Thursday about 9:30 a.m. we got a call from Ralph’s daughter. Her dad had died of a massive heart attack that morning. We were in shock.

Wednesday morning we’d lost the husband of another member (Carol Ellis’s husband, Dick, but that had been expected because he’d waged a long battle with cancer, but with Ralph there was no warning. He was the picture of health Wednesday night and gone Thursday morning. Ralph was 67.)

So within the past few days we’ve had two funerals for friends: Saturday was Dick’s funeral, Monday was Ralph’s.

We’d just as soon have stayed home and gotten some stuff done, but we haven’t been able to visit our place yet this summer, so we figured we’d better look in on our investment. Today’s Tuesday. We’ll probably head home Saturday a.m.

Comments off

Headin’ Home from Evart

A couple weeks ago, I posted to this blog and said the Evart FunFest would soon be starting. Now here it is Sunday, July 22nd, and we’re headed home.

As usual after one of these events, I’m filled with affection for the festival crowd, basking in the warmth that is shared. It’s a wonderful event, steeped in tradition.

We had a grand time. Was it the best time ever? No, but it was much better than the last few have been and I attribute that to a change of attitude on my part.

There were sad parts: Rick Thum’s dad died during the festival so he left quickly and I found that a dear friend has lung cancer that has metatistized and spread so he said his “good-byes” to me which tore at my heart. He was so brave when he told me he won’t be back to Evart. I could tell that he’d enjoyed the festival and those memories were going to be savored. When I kissed him on the cheek, he said, “That helped.” So I did it again.

The music is always special. Our friend, Judi Morningstar wrote a beautiful new aire. It was a high-point of the festival, especially when played with Cece Webster (on harp) and Renzo Hutchinson (on flute).

Saturday I had kind of a mystical experience: a monarch butterfly took a liking to me. I had just put on perfume so maybe that lured him. He stayed on my hand and my shoulder for about an hour. When we went to dinner, I was concerned about him flying down to the ground and being stepped on because the crowd was huge, so I took him over to the fountain which is surrounded by flowers and placed him on one of the blossoms. He returned to me twice before I could convince him to stay. He was gone when I checked about a half hour later.

We had a lot of long conversations and enjoyed listening to a lot of music but really didn’t have time to make much ourselves. As usual the time before the festival was best.

My job as workshop coordinator was complicated by 18 or 19 class cancellations by instructors. All reasons were understandable, and I was able to “fill most slots” with substitute instructors who stepped up and volunteered. I’m sure some of the fill-in classes were better than those originally scheduled. There were a total of 208 classes.

I was distressed by some rule changes that seem arbitrary. For instance the golf carts are now so restricted that I’m really wondering about the cold heartedness of some of the board members. (No help for handicapped, no rides for newcomers, etc.)

Hopefully these things will be reviewed at the fall meeting.

We’re tired and ready be home. It’s nearly 7:00 p.m. It’ll feel soooo good.

Comments off

Thursday, the 12th

A week before the start of the festival.

It’s been a cool day and right now it’s raining. Hopefully the weather will improve before the start of the festival.

The Tent City area, where we camping, is still pretty empty. We’ve been here for five days. No one has arrived since we came in. I have a feeling that’ll all change tomorrow. Lots of folks will arrive after then get off work tomorrow. We’ve enjoyed playing with the Conklins, who are next door. Today I spent the day practicing the dulcimer, which I rarely play. It was fun.

I’ll write more later.

Comments off

We’re here at the Evart Festival but..

it seems that we’re waiting for the fun to begin. Many of our Evart friends haven’t arrived yet and although we needed some down time, we’ve now rested up and we’re “READY.” Since it’s only Wednesday, we still have at today and tomorrow before folks will show up.

We went to a jam in the Swine Barn last night. (John had also participated Monday evening.) It was a nice gathering. I counted about 20 dulcimers and 10 other instruments. Many of the musicians were the ones who had been at Rose Wark’s Florida gathering in March. We played about an hour and 15 minutes.

The weather was hot the first few days we were here, but today the outside temperature (at 9:30 a.m.) is only 61 which is a tad chilly. Actually we’re going to have a few cool days, and then a gradual warm-up to the start of the festival in about a week. Next Wednesday and Thursday (which is as far out as the weather forecast goes) show temperatures in the low 80’s with over-night lows down to about 60.

I have a new digital recorder which I’m looking forward to using. I tried it out last night, but really haven’t had a chance to see how it worked.

Yesterday afternoon, Wayne and Linda Conklin spent the afternoon playing music under our canopy. It was fun.

I’ll write more later.

Comments off

I wrote this Saturday (July 7th)

“Headin’ to Evart”

There’s a tune by that name written by our friend, Bill Robinson. But as I write this, those words accurately describe our destination. We’re about 15 miles from home and finally on our way to the biggest festival we attend. It’s also the event where we’re in charge of workshops. (I say “we” but technically it’s my job, nevertheless, without John’s help, I couldn’t do it.)

It’s always a chore to get ready. Yesterday we were busy all day picking up the workshop programs and the copy machine, getting the paper for copies plus all the other stuff that we need to make the workshops run smoothly.

This morning we were up about 7:30 and by 8:00 we were packing. It took us until 4:30 of steady, hard, physical work.

My old body isn’t up to that kind of abuse. I’m plum tuckered out!

We didn’t even stop to eat so all I’ve had is a 2” x 2” brownie, and a few chips washed down with a diet ginger ale.

We definitely take more stuff when we go to this event than when we traveled across the country, and also lots more than when we go to Florida.

But we love the whole Evart experience. It’s like “going home.” Many of our best friends are there, we get to enjoy the most fantastic music imaginable.


I wrote the above in the truck while riding. Haven’t had time to post it before now (Wednesday the 11th). We are now at the fairgrounds relaxing in anticipation of the festival. I’ll write a more current up-date shortly.

Comments off

Time flies when you’re having fun

The month of June is almost past.

John played for a wedding reception yesterday. I stayed home getting our fifth wheel ready for the huge Evart festival and double-checking the Evart Workshop Program so it can head to the printer. Summer’s nearly 1/3 gone!!

This afternoon, John will be playing for a parish picnic in Hemlock. I will be going to Owosso to have dinner with his siblings.

We’ve been really busy but I’m sure not complaining.

Our big festival, Evart, is nearly here! Yeah!

Comments off

Click here to go to the Skaryd's Biography and a link for emailing.