Archive for2007-09 – Fall in Friendly Florida

I posted a video to YouTube

I just uploaded a video of the South Club Pool so you can see where we hang out when we’re in Florida. A video says it better.

Check it out.

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Home again, home again, jiggety jig..

We are home.

Arrived yesterday about 3:00. My cold has been horrid and now it seems that John is catching it. Wouldn’t ‘cha know!! and this weekend we need to be sharp. Tonight we have our first holiday music practice with our music club and tomorrow we’re scheduled to play for five hours at Warmbier Farms for their Christmas open house.

If we can make it to Sunday, the two of us can then curl up in a corner somewhere with a monsterous supply of Kleenex, nasal spray, Vicks, and Advil.

Being sick takes the luster off the otherwise wonderful past two months.

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A cold appears to be “mandatory”

It seems that every time we come down to Florida, I catch a cold. Usually it’s early in our stay and I’ve about decided that my symptoms are actually allergy-related and not a cold, but this time it’s different. I was feeling perky until late Saturday. This time there’s no doubt that it’s a cold and I even know how I caught it. Mom and four or five of the other residents in her unit have had bad chest colds. Mom was one of the last ones to develop the symptoms, but about a week ago, she got it bad. Her cough is awful. Of course, I continued to visit her so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I now have a/her cold.

Since Sunday, I’ve been taking Zicam (which is that new stuff claims that you’ll get over your cold faster). It also supposedly lessens the severity. So far, it’s main side effect is that I haven’t been able to sleep my normal seven to eight hours. Last night I got three hours sleep (awake until 4:00 a.m.!!)

As I write this, we’re headed back to Michigan. We left the condo about 8:40 a.m. It’s now a little after 10:00 a.m. Our next stop will be just across the Georgia border where we’ll stop for gas and a quick lunch. Tonight’s destination is Locust Grove, GA.

Our trip was pleasant. Weather was wonderful. Pool time was grand. I’ll be ready to return in late December.

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Image of “old folks”

Yes, King’s Point has senior citizens, which most would think of as “old folks.” But somehow my impression of senior citizens has changed as a result of the life we’re experiencing here in Sun City Center, Florida.

For example, would you think of this lady as a “great grandmother”? Well, she is.

My previous impressions of a Florida “retirement community” definitely been altered. What we have here are fun folks, living life to the fullest. It’s like the aging process has slowed down.

That photo was taken at Thursday’s Halloween party. Tonight we’re going to another one.

Last night it was a “Michigan Club” wine and cheese party.

We just may be too busy to go home. I need to start packing so we’ll be able to pile in the car on Tuesday and head north. At least the weather has been less enticing because it’s been cooler and we’ve had some rain.

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Winding down

We’re wrapping up this visit. We leave a week from tomorrow for Michigan. Between now and then, we’ll try to soak up all the wonderful weather because when we get back here after Christmas it’ll probably be cool. For the next week, we will be at the pool whenever possible.

Friday we took a bus trip down to Cape Coral to attend an Oktoberfest. It was hot and the day was too long.

This week our plans are to attend a family night at Mom’s facility, go to the music club on Wednesday afternoon, attend Rockin’ Rondevous on Thursday, a Michigan Club wine and cheese party on Friday, and a Halloween party on Saturday. We’ll probably go out to dinner a couple times and, of course, I’ll try to be with Mom as much as possible. At least we know it won’t be long before December 30th when we’ll be back.

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Less than three weeks left and BUSY!

We have less than three weeks left before we’ll be heading back to Michigan for the holidays. Between now and our departure date our calendar is really filling up. We have Rockin’ Rondevous every Thursday; a benefit concert Friday the 12th (tomorrow night); a dinner at the Elks Club Saturday the 13th; a dance Sunday the 14th in the afternoon plus birthday party Sunday evening (Martie’s); a swing dance lesson next Monday; a music club meeting every Wednesday at 1:00; a bus trip to Coral Gables for Oktoberfest on Friday the 19th; and Halloween parties the 25th and 27th. We also like to go out for spaghetti at the Elks Club in Ruskin on Wednesdays.

Between all those activities we need to get our music all brushed up for our performance on November 3rd, at Warmbier Farms, right after we get back home.

We’ve discovered two music groups: the Country Music Club and a banjo club called the Polk County Plunkers. We haven’t attended meetings for either group, although John has visited with the leader of the banjo club. It should be fun to go next Wednesday.

The weather is cooling down from the 90’s to the 80’s so getting to the pool won’t be quite so enticing.

Life doesn’t get any better than this!

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Toe Trouble

John handed me a folding chair that was stored in the condo attic. I grabbed it and stepped forward only to ram my middle toe (left foot) into the base of the attic stairway. When I looked down my toe was no longer pointing forward but instead was at right angles to my foot pointing leftward. I “rearranged it back into place” as it cracked and pained. It was either dislocated or broken. It’s now a beautiful burgundy shade and twice it’s normal size.

Today, we were scheduled to take a swing dance class. Sounded like a good idea when we signed up. But dancing with a sore toe is tough.

It’s painful, but I should admit that I’m also “milking it.” It looks so horrid and uncomfortable that I don’t hesitate to point it out to get the maximum in ohhhhs… and “you poor thing” comments.

We had a great time, then to the pool for a few hours of perfection in the pool. It was incredibly wonderful weather. It couldn’t have been nicer. Breezy but warm. We were in the pool and out and either place, we were really comfortable.

Here in King’s Point folks frequently say, “Isn’t this a tough life?” “What did I do to deserve this?” It just doesn’t get any better than this!” (I heard comments similar to those at least four times today.) They’re right. This is paradise. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been (even counting Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Rio de Janeiro). I prefer King’s Point.

The folks are fun. We have friends, although they’re not crowding us. We have lots of activities which we can participate in or ignore. We have a climate that’s been incredible (high 80’s with low humidity). Beautiful blue skies. Warm pool water. Someone said they miss the ocean, but personally I prefer a clean pool. The ocean/bay is only about 10 miles away, but we’re content here.

We’ll head home in about three weeks. I won’t be able to wait to get back.

It’s a great life, even with toe trouble.

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Storms galore!

Willow, our dog, has never been afraid of storms. She ignores them, unlike other dogs I’ve had. (My childhood dog, a dalmation, used to try to squeeze behind the toilet bowl, under the tank.) Willow, takes storms in stride. But here in Florida, the thunderstorms are really something. We’ve had several. Last night was the loudest. It crashed and boomed for a couple hours. Things are a little soggy. Even Willow has wanted to be held when the thunder rolls. The storms we’ve experienced have been really severe.

Actually they’ve had a lot of rain this week (about 6″). Ditches are filled, puddles are deep.

The other day, we took our golf cart and headed to Walmart. It was a pleasant, cloudy late afternoon. We parked at Publix, which is as far as you can legally drive your cart. Walmart is just across the highway. Carts can’t legally cross the highway but we walked, so we were ok. It’s a little distance, but it was nice out and we didn’t mind. John even thought to bring along a little wheeled shopping cart so we could haul our purchases back to the golf cart. But while we were shopping, it started to rain. We were ready to head back at about 4:40. As I waited by the door for the shower to let up, a pleasant gentleman headed out in the direction of the Publix parking lot. He said he’d done the same as us… walked over. He commented that he had a towel to wipe off the seats and he’d be fine. He asked if we had “sides” and I said, yes, but they weren’t rolled down.

When we finally dashed for the cart, the curtains were down and the seat had been dried off. That’s the kind of folks we meet all the time down here.

Today a gentleman at Taco Bell held the door for us. I thanked him but paused to let his wife go ahead of us. We were all trying to be polite. It was funny.. “you go first, no you, no you.” It sure isn’t this way most places, but Sun City Center seems to have an over-abundance of nice folks.

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Bugs are Back..

I was concerned, as we were coming down here, that we’d run into love bugs, but they weren’t at the Florida-Georgia border, as I’d expected. Instead they were waiting for us here in Sun City Center. They’ve been getting worse.

I’ve previously described love bugs. They have Love Bugs
no natural enemies except for cars. They fly around “joined” together with the female pulling the male. Unlike flies, they’re easy to swat. That can be a blessing or curse, because when you’re sitting by the pool, you end up with squashed bug bodies around you and stuck to your towels, etc.

They don’t bite, they don’t buzz. But they are soooo plentiful. Someone said, they also contribute to the local economy by providing car washes with extra business.

I’ve read that there are two hatchings each year: May and September. Supposedly they only last a couple of weeks, but it’s early October and they were worse yesterday than in September. It feels like they’re here to stay.

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Today was hot (over 90)! We soaked in the pool after enjoying “Fun Friday” but we were still HOT!

We started the day buying the toilet for our guest bathroom. Guess we got a little over-heated unloading it and moving it around so it was hard to cool down. John installed it after our pool time. Nothing fancy.

We also bought some plants: two hybiscus for our yard and an anthurium for use as a house plant.

Plants here in Florida are dirt cheap. The three (large) plants cost me only about $16 total. The two hybiscus (very large and slightly smaller) and either would have sold for three to five times that much at home.

Mom’s eating more than before so that pleases me. I spend at least one meal a day with her.

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Perfect weather!

It’s been perfect. Pool temps about 85, air about 85-89. Crowds are still small. We did get the TV problems resolved. (Whew!)

Folks are drifting back: Bob’s here, Carl, and we’ve met a few other really nice residents.

We went to dinner at the Elks in Ruskin tonight. It was good. Carl and Suzanne and another couple sat with us. They’d invited us to join them but three couples didn’t work and we felt a little isolated.

I’ve been taking pictures of the Florida skies. Here’s one of my favorites:

clouds over Florida

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TV Woes

Back on September 15th we had our Brighthouse TV and internet service installed by two installers. End of story, right?

Nope, it didn’t work so the repair folks were supposed to return on the 15th, then on the 16th but it took until the 17th before someone finally showed up. The install was so defective, that repair person said they’d need to start over with new cables throughout the whole house and he scheduled two installers to re-do the job. They came that Monday afternoon (the 17th) and stayed most of the day. The job wasn’t complete that day so on the 18th two more came back to finish the job By then we’d had seven installers/repair people. On the 22nd, we had one repair person (number eight) who was scheduled to figure out why we weren’t getting all of our channels.

Yesterday we worked with the Hitachi expert to find out why our new HDTV had a loud background hum and wouldn’t allow us to turn on close captioning. He checked out everything and isolated the problem in the cable box. So today Brighthouse was supposed to send out a repair person to replace our cable box. The repair person was told to call us a half hour before he would arrive. (We gave him our cellphone number.) We knew he was scheduled between 2:00 and 5:00 but figured we could go to the pool because he’d be calling and we had our phone with us. (I also put a note on the door.) When we got home at 3:35, the note had blown off and guy number nine been here at 3:30 without calling us first.

Our appointment is re-scheduled for tomorrow between 2:00 and 5:00. Guess we can call that person number ten! Will the saga ever end?

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Saturday means football

To my dear husband, a Saturday in September (or October or November) means football.

Yesterday we’d picked up our new HDTV in Bradenton. We couldn’t set it up because I couldn’t be counted on to lift most of it (88 pounds) and move it from the back of the truck inside. But today we had to have another repair person work on our TV again. (We’d lost about 1/3 of our cable channels and couldn’t bring them up.) When he came, he helped us move our new TV in and set it on our new TV stand. He was a truly nice and helpful guy and hung around to make sure we got it working. It’s awesome!

So John’s had his nose buried in the new TV enjoying the HD signal. He swears HDTV was invented for football games.

I spent time with Mom tonight. I fed her dinner to her. I think she’s forgotten how to feed herself. I was there a couple hours and she ate a large dinner.

We didn’t get to spend any time at the pool, but there’s always tomorrow.

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Trouble getting connected

Saturday, the 15th, we had an appointment to have our high speed internet and HDTV cable installed. To make a long story short, after the installation by two incompetents, we didn’t have workable service. The company acknowledged nothing was working and said they’d send a repair person out immediately (Saturday and then again on Sunday they were supposed to send someone). It took until Monday before we got someone to come and look at our situation. When he did, he said it would never work, so we had to be totally re-wired. Two installers showed up Monday afternoon to start the installation. Finally Tuesday things were completed. We had five different service folks and a total of about 15-20 hours of labor but now it’s purring. Our reception is better than we’d imagined, and we have 100+ channels.

We have purchased a new HDTV and will be picking it up Friday or Saturday in Bradenton with a stand.

But the most exciting thing is that our high speed wireless is allowing us to use the box we bought from Speednet in Saginaw to receive our Phone by Internet. That means folks calling us at home will reach us here seamlessly. We can also call anyone with no per call expense. It’s wonderful to be able call folks in Saginaw just as if we were still in the same locale.

One problem getting a new HDTV is that the TV weighs 88 pounds. Although John is doing fine recovering from his hernia surgery, he still can’t lift anything, and I can’t manage that much weight. We have the names of a couple handymen who advertised on the bulletin board in the clubhouse. We’ll probably try to get them to come over and help us set it up.

John also needs help with the guest toilet. It’s not working so he needs to wrestle it around and possibly install a new one. I want him to hire it done. He said he’ll see if he can at least diagnose the problem, and then we’ll decide.

Tomorrow we’ll have been here a week.

September emptiness

We’ve been to the pool numerous times but it’s always empty. It’s been hot, although today was quite comfortable.

When I say empty, I mean EMPTY!!

Monday we had a birthday party in the special needs unit for Mom complete with two cakes and candles (one ice cream cake and one sugar free for the diabetics). We had about 20 folks and Mom felt special.

She’s sure not doing well.

Tonight I was there for her during dinner. I fed her and got her to eat more than she would have. Mercedes, the healthcare “companion” I have hired for Mom, is with her from 10:30-1:30 so she helps during lunch time. I will try to be there often for the evening “shift.”

More September emptiness

We’ll be busy for the next few days. I will have my hair done tomorrow a.m., we’ll visit Mom and go to the pool mid-day, and to Rockin’ Rondevous tomorrow evening – they’ll be having a karaoke evening. Friday we’ll be at the pool for a hamburgs-on-the-grill lunch, and we’ll try to pick up our TV in the afternoon. Saturday we want to go shopping early and there’s a dinner at the Moose.

We still haven’t seen our buddy Bob, and we haven’t run into Paul and Pat or many of our other close Kings Point friends and I’ve hardly had time to say “hi” to Loretta, our lovely next door neighbor.

But we’re relaxed.

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Best Laid Plans Go Astray!

We arrived at the condo about 3:00 Thursday, September 13th. It was 93 outside AND 93 INSIDE! Yup, the A/C wasn’t working. We called the repair service that handles the maintenance on the condo and they came over about 4:30. In the meanwhile, I’d unloaded most of the stuff from the truck. Talk about heat exhaustion. It was awful!

The problem ended up being easy to solve. A dead ant had blocked the electrical connection and the compressor wouldn’t kick on.

By 5:30, we had things pretty much under control and the temperature was down several degrees. We decided to go to Rockin’ Rondevous. (Ok, I pushed John because I was anxious to see old friends.)

Well, no one was there. It was depressingly empty. None of the people we hang around with were there. We had a beer, cooled off in comfort, and headed home about an hour later. The condo was still hot, but by 11:00 p.m. it was down to a normal level. Whew!!

Today, we visited with Mom, ordered a birthday cake for her, shopped for a TV set, and went to the Fun Friday by the pool. (Fun Fridays consist of music and hamburgs on the grill.) We dipped ourselves in the pool enough to cool off. I read while John soaked up a little sun. But that was short-lived because it started raining.

So we headed home. I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing stuff in the condo. It’s now comfortable and looks nice.

It’s cool and comfy. But our friends are among the missing. Sure hope they get here soon! It’s lonesome without the folks who have made it fun.

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Lookin’ for Love (Bugs) …

We’ve nearly reached the point we are attacked by unlovely love bugs (at least during our past two September trips south). Even though I detest them, I watch for them as a signal that we’re getting close to our destination. They’re usually all everything when we stop just north of the Georgia/Florida border for gas.

While looking for love bugs, I also watch for the first palm tree as an indication that we’re really in “the south.” It’s one of my “things-to-do-while-driving-in-an-area-where-I-can’t-get-internet.” (I lose my connection for about 100 miles, from about 70 miles north of the boarder, to 30 miles into Florida.)

Weather is in the mid 80’s (at 10:30 a.m.) and rising rapidly. I heard that Michigan was only 40 degrees this morning.

We’re less than 10 miles from our gas stop and still no bugs. Could we have “lucked out”?

No bugs! We stopped for gas and there weren’t any. John said he thinks maybe we’re a week or two early for them. Could be, but they were thick in May when I was down, so I began to think they’re full-time residents.

When we passed into Florida, the rest area was landscaped with dozens of palm trees. Yup! We’re here.


Little later….

We’ve stopped twice today so John could stretch and walk With only about two hours to go, I doubt that we’ll stop again.

Unloading the truck is going to be a hot job. It’s about 95 degrees out there now. Rain is expected this afternoon, but no cooler temps for the next week or so.

Tonight, after dark, I’d love to drive around in the golf cart. It always feels so good with the warm evening breezes blowing past.

I haven’t been able to connect to my blog site even though it looks like I have a connection. I’m writing this and will “copy it in” when I’m finally able to connect.

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Second Day

We’re into our second day on the road. We’ve been making good time, even though we’ve stopped more frequently so John can stretch his legs.

Last night we stayed in Louisville, KY. It wasn’t nearly as nice as the motel in London, KY, but at least we were able to stop earlier. The caliber of guests left a lot to be desired. We had a run in with a whole van load of unsavory people who parked in the parking lot for hours at a time, but didn’t seem to have a “room.” I couldn’t help but wonder if they were trying to sell drugs or do something else illegal. It was an uncomfortable feeling, but nothing happened, and it wasn’t as noisy as we’d feared. Nevertheless, it sure wasn’t the same quality as the accommodations in London.

At London, they also give you a complimentary breakfast (freshly-made Belgian waffles) but there were no such perks at Louisville. Of course Louisville was about $10 cheaper, so this morning we stopped at a Waffle House and spent our savings on breakfast.

Last night we had good hamburgs and beer at a place called Horseshoes Saloon. It was conveniently close-by. Tonight we’re looking forward to a nice steak dinner at a Logan’s Roadhouse near the Macon motel which is tonight’s destination. Tonight we’ll celebrate our anniversary with a nice dinner.

This trip is broken into “laps” of 425 miles, 440 miles, and tomorrow about 400 miles. Personally, I’d like to go to Rockin’ Rondevous tomorrow, if we arrive in time. Of course, I know we’lll have to unload the stuff from our truck before we can go anyplace since all of our clothes are packed. But even if we don’t stay long, I’d like to go see who’s around. (Just mentioned it to John, and he sounds agreeable.)

The most unpleasant (stressful) part of our trips south (or north as the case may be), is getting through Atlanta. We’ve run into problems that have included getting off at the wrong exit (twice), going down one-way streets the wrong way, and being stuck in traffic for long periods.

We should get through that area before the heavy traffic times.

We’re just passing the “We’re Glad Georgia’s on Your Mind – Welcome!” sign. Outside temperature is 82. Traffic is moderately heavy. Lots of construction. Just once, we’d like to hit it at a time when all the road work is complete.

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We’re in Ohio, headed south..

With the doctor’s approval regarding John’s health, we are headed to Florida. Our 22nd anniversary was yesterday but we were busy packing, so our celebration will wait.

Tonight we’ll over-night in Lexington, KY. Normally we stay at the same Red Roof Inns every time we make this trip, and the first night is usually London, KY. But we revised our schedule so today won’t be quite as long. Lexington is still a good piece from Michigan but about 90 miles closer. We’re supposed to stop frequently so John can stretch his legs (to avoid clotting). We’ll soon be at Beverdam, Ohio, where we’ll have lunch, walk the dog, and stretch.

Unfortunately John won’t be able to “soak” in the pool for a few weeks. He can dip himself to cool off, but until he’s better healed, the doctor suggested that he avoid the soaks.

Ohio is greener than previous trips. I know they’ve had a lot of rain which has even resulted in flooding in some of the area.

Traffic is kinda heavy for to Tuesday, but the truckers travel this route every day.

When we get to Florida, I want to plan a party for Mom’s birthday Monday, the 17th. I also have some banking to take care of for her, and some shopping to do. But this trip is going to be laid back and lazy. ‘ Least that’s the plan.

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