Archive for2007-11 and 12 – Home for the Holidays

Christmas is for families

Yesterday we enjoyed a family Christmas dinner in Owosso for John, his five siblings, spouses, and one of his nieces for a total of 12 close family members. Family is important during the holidays, but John and I spend Thanksgiving and Christmas Day alone. Our children are too far away (in distance or life) to be with us. Some folks feel we’re disadvantaged, but I don’t.

Actually we have dozens members of our music family who have spent part of the holiday season with us. These people are close to us… closer than most folks feel about blood relatives.

Sadly since July, we’ve lost four of them and another isn’t doing too well.

And then their are our newer but equally special Florida friends. Our buddy, Bob, called the other day, and New Year’s Eve we’ll be with three couples that are really special to us.

Most folks would think, “these folks are just acquaintances, blood relatives are closer.” But relatives are in your life because they are born into your family. Our friends are folks we’ve met along our journey who choose to seek us out and be in our life.

I didn’t mail many Christmas cards this year, but many of those we received were from friends. Like Grace, the 90+ year old music fan who looks forward to our summer performances. And there are lots of others.

These close friends are our family too – maybe not by blood, but by choice. We are blessed.

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Ready, Set —

Our 2007 Christmas Tree
We’re about ready for the holiday (which will happen if we are prepared or not). Actually we have very little left to do. Most of our preparation has involved our performances which are winding to a close. We have only one club play left on Friday afternoon, and then we can put away our Christmas music until next year. (Whew!)

My cards have been mailed, and packages are on their way. We still want to do some shopping and get some “for us” gifts. But that can be done the next time we’re out and about. We really don’t make a big deal about gifts between the two of us. Instead we usually get what we want, when we want it.

Our TreeI’ve been gathering items for our return to Florida. We’ll take our tree down on the 26th, pack for our trip on the 27th, and take off on the 28th.

We have tickets for a New Year’s Eve party in Sun City Center which should be fun.

Let’s hope the weather stays decent. We had about 10 inches of show last weekend so it looks like it’s out of Mother Nature’s system.

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Hectic Holiday

We’ve been so busy that I haven’t started my Christmas shopping.

Our dear friend, Al Lietz, passed away last week and Monday we went to Tawas City for the funeral. That was in addition to about a half dozen performances, lots of practicing, the Flint Banjo Club’s Christmas party, and a holiday luncheon.

Last night we drove to Elsie, MI, to perform at a private Christmas party. When we were hired we were told about 20 folks would be in attendance but it was closer to 40. That was fine, but they were primarily old friends and relatives of John. Playing for familiar faces makes for a lot of stress unlike what you’d think. (It’s lots easier to play for those who don’t know you and who you’ll never see again.)

We did ok, but it was the trip home which was truly challenging! We ran into blinding snow and slippery roads. We crept home at under 30 mph. It was truly a white knuckle trip!

The remaining holiday performances are easy ones: Friday we’ll be in Bridgeport, MI, at a Pioneer Christmas with our club; Monday John and I play background music at an open house in Frankenmuth; Saturday we are planning to go to the Jolly Hammers club sing-a-long; and Friday the 21st we will be with our club at a nice senior independent living apartment complex for their holiday party.

Just hope I can get everything done so we can relax. My primary concerns are to shop for presents that need to be mailed and get them in the mail by Friday, get the house ready for company (the Conklins are staying over Friday night), write out our Christmas Cards this weekend, and before Christmas get a party dress for New Year’s Eve. It’s all doable. Just need to get at it.

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Toe Trouble – Take Two – Take Three

Once or twice I’ve stubbed my toe and really hurt it badly to the point that I figured it was broken.

Back on October 8th, I wrote about running into a ladder and having my toe go at a 90 degree angle to the other toes (so the middle one, which I hurt, was pointing at the little one). It has really been painful. It didn’t quit hurting after a week or two or even three. I’ve heard that if it is just bruised, it’ll be ok within two weeks. If it’s longer than that, it’s a break.

I talked to my friend, Dr. Doug Jackson, an orthopedic surgeon who plays with our dulcimer club about my injury. After looking at it he said he thinks it’s healing well. It may not have been broken, but more likely dislocated which has about the same healing time. He said I should expect discoloration, swelling, and some discomfort for the next year until it heals completely.

That was “Dr.” Doug’s diagnosis on Sunday. Sunday night I tripped over John’s banjo case. It was dark in the dining room. I didn’t turn on a light. My left little toe caught on his hard case sitting on the floor. That’s the same foot that I hurt in October. As usual, I was barefoot.

The whole top of my foot is now dark and the base of my little toe is black. I hope it’s just badly bruised. I’m having trouble wearing shoes, but it isn’t as uncomfortable as the middle one has been.

But as Doug said when he saw it last night, “Yup, you did it again.”

And then today I stripped the bed to launder the sheets. I was carrying an armful of bedding to the laundry room and I stepped on the corner of the sheet which caused me to trip and… yup, you’re right, I ran my little toe into the dresser… again it was my left foot pinkie.

This time at least I had on slippers and the sheet sorta protected the toe.

But it’s throbbing. I’m sure a glass or two of wine will help but right now it hurts.

I’m feeling like a total klutz. We perform a three or four times this next week, and we need to get our Christmas tree. It’s going to be rough doing those things barefoot but wearing a shoe is going to be tough.

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Got it!

my FZ-18 Panasonic cameraI’ve just received my wonderful new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 digital camera. What a wonderful example of photographic engineering excellence!!

I plan to use it extensively to capture photos for this area. It’s going to make the previous pictures I’ve taken look pretty shabby.

I will really appreciate your understanding as I learn how to use this tool! Mastering the learning curve is going to be challenging. I’m a old dog learning new tricks, but I’ll do it!

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Finally feeling fine

By the end of the week we’ll be only one month from returning to Florida. I can’t say that I’m ready to turn around and go back. It’s just that I haven’t accomplished anything here. We have been so sick that everything was on hold. Now that we’re beginning to feel human again, it’ll take a while to get back on track.

Thursday’s Thanksgiving and I’m hoping I can feel inspired. I’d love to get the house looking spiffy for the holidays. Holiday time has always been special.

My cold had really shut my ambition down. Time to get busy and catch up.

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I’ll soon be the owner of a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

my new camera
Yup, it’s on order and hopefully on it’s way to me.

I will have time to work with it and get comfortable using it before the holidays. I hope I can take a few of the Frankenmuth Music Day we have planned for November 24th.

And when I get back to Florida, I hope to capture lots of the wonderful clouds that seem to love the Tampa Bay area as well as the lovely people.

It’s on its way to me now!!!

And I should be able to take nice photographs of my lovely mother who is my reason for being in Florida. She was once really pretty but even though alzheimers has robbed her of most of her beauty, there’s still a quality I hope I can capture.

Note added Nov. 20:
Ahhh but that purchase didn’t work out. I had ordered the camera from a cheapie website. They cancelled my order (said it was out of stock), so I have replaced the order with Amazon. Now I don’t expect to receive it until about December 3rd.

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Shopping for a camera

At least three times, I dropped my four year old digital camera and it’s now history. It’ll still take photos, but there’s about a 1/4 inch separation in the seam and it’s just a matter of time before it dies completely.

I have always loved taking pictures. The camera I’ve been using has been perfect for grabbing a quick shot. It would fit into my smallest purse so I almost always had it with me, but now I’m looking at something that will allow me more creativity.

At one time in my life, photography was an obsession. I do mean obsession. I’d take a camera and a few rolls of 35mm film, and disappear for a day at a time. That was in the 1970’s and early 80’s. I was a SLR competitive photographer and member of the Photographic Society of America. I wonder how much I can remember about f-stops, etc. I want one that has a good auto mode, so my results won’t be embarrassing while I re-learn how to do it manually.

I have narrowed it down to two choices. I’m not considering a camera with removable lenses because I’ve gone that route (and at this time they’re lots more expensive). I want something that will do it all without toting a huge camera bag filled with various focal length lenses. I’m thinking of a super/large digital.

After posting the video that was taken at the South Club pool (see the posting on November 6th), I realize I’d like better video capability. Maybe I should just buy a separate video camera, but I’m hoping I can find a digital camera that will take great pictures in various light situations plus it’ll let me take awesome videos.

Of the two I am considering, one is better for videos in that it’ll zoom and do everything in either video or still mode. The other choice has the lens which will meet all of my needs including close-ups, wide angle, and telephoto. I am leaning toward the one with the impressive lens. About it’s only limitation is that it won’t let me “zoom” while I’m shooting the videos, but maybe I won’t take all that many anyway. (Up ’til now, I’ve gotten by very limited video capability so I won’t know what I’m missing.)

It’s funny, but writing it out makes the decision easier to “see.” Maybe I’ll buy it today so I can get it and be comfortable with it before we play in Frankenmuth and before the holidays.

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How come I’m still ill??

I called my mom’s caregiver today (Mercedes) and found out Mom has avoided our extreme colds and illness. I was so afraid that, since I caught it from her, she’d be as sick as we are, and she wouldn’t survive. But Mom’s fine. She’s been better’n ever. I was pleased that she’s now able to feed herself and she’s still gaining weight. I am so relieved. Mercedes said she has everything she needs and for her, life is as good as can be expected.

John and I went shopping today. We needed to get “provisions” but it was tough. We were both out of it and didn’t have the strength that shopping takes. We hit about a half dozen stores and we were exhausted but we got through the day. Tonight we are taking it easy while we continue to recover. I can’t remember that we’ve ever been this sick together (when he couldn’t take care of me or I couldn’t take care of him.)

Hopefully next week will be a new beginning.

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