Archive for2008-01 to 04 – Winter-Spring in Paradise

Home at last!

Yesterday afternoon we arrived home. Seemed like a longer than normal trip.

The grass is green here in Michigan, and the crocuses are in bloom. The leaves haven’t really popped out yet although with some species (like willows) you can tell that they’re on the verge.

It was really warm (about 70-73) both yesterday and today even warmer (about 78).

Our place seemed dusty and in need of some major sprucing up. As soon as possible, we’re doing some major renovations.

Feels good to be home, but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to returning to Florida in June.

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Headin’ Back to Michigan

Yesterday John and I headed northward to our home in Michigan. I hated to leave behind all the great friends and fun times we experience in Kings Point.

I have been taking lots of photos and I plan to create a collage of head shots of the lovely folks we consider our Florida Friends. It’ll take some time to go through all of the pictures I have taken and pick out good ones. You’ll want to check back, if you think you might be included.

The last few days of our visit flew past. We enjoyed the pool as much as possible. Of course we were at Rockin’ Rendezvous Thursday. We had our buddy Bob over for dinner Sunday evening. We packed. I spent as much time with Mom as I could.

Now we’re on the road headed north.

I’m already looking forward to returning. Although we can’t drive down again until mid-September, I’ve decided to fly back alone two times (once in June and the second time in late August). I know it’ll be deserted when I come back by myself. Many of our friends are snowbirds so it’ll seem empty. It’s just that I can’t leave Mom longer than a couple months. I worry about her. She is my responsibility

My last visit with Mom was bitter sweet. She seemed to understand and did the “I love you a bushel and a peck” routine.

But in addition to missing Mom, I’ll also miss all the sweet people from her alzheimers unit. There’s classy Petra who must have been an elegant lady because she’s still very attractive and one I’m really close to. There’s Ruthie who “mothers” everyone. She’s made me promise I’ll continue to visit her, even if something happes to Mom. There’s Ray who observes and seems to really care about the others in the unit. There’s Lois, one of the newer residents who doesn’t seem to belong in the unit at all because she’s so sharp. She’s always sweet and friendly and still loves to go out dancing with her husband. Larry is the Casanova of the unit. He loves women. When I asked him for my good-bye hug, he jumped to his feet and gave me a bear hug!

Little Monica is 102 but still loves her beer. She’s sometime demanding and surly, but at her age, she is the matriarch of the unit. Dale and I enjoy a special friendship. He held my hand all one evening when he was feeling really blue. Jean moved into the unit few months back and seemed unhappy but she’s fitting in nicely. Eleanor is also fairly new, but looks lost. Jack never talks but he has a smile that’s ear to ear. Shirley and Mom are the most “advanced” in their disease. Shirley seldom talks much but she’ll smile and say “fine” whenever I ask how she is.

They’ve become folks I value and care about. Sadly I know that their lives are as fragile as my mother’s. One bad cold or the flu can be fatal. Since Mom moved into the unit three years ago, there have been several of the members who passed away. Mac, Helen, Regina, and Doris all died while I was gone. It’s hard to say good-bye, knowing that most times when I have come back, someone has left the group. I realize Mom’s very vulnerable too.

These special people were all once vibrant. I still see traces of what they were, but in many ways they’ve already left society. It’s really sad. I hugged each one and had a few minutes of private time with each of the 12. I know they will miss me but I’ll miss them too. I’m kind of a fixture in the unit. Some of them never have any visitors at all so they look forward to my “interruption.” I make it a point to be up-beat and talkative. I tell funny stories. I make them laugh (although Mom’s past that point and can’t even smile). I question them and answer their questions even if they ask the same thing 50 times in one visit. I encourage them and tell them how important they are in my life. And those aren’t empty words said for their benefit. They do add to the quality of my life.

Now I’m getting teary so best change the topic!

We’re enjoying perfect driving weather and moderate traffic. Michigan, here we come!!

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Furniture Came

We spent yesterday afternoon at the pool and I’m sure that’s where we’ll be every day until Sunday. Monday will be packing day. Mother Nature is cooperating by forecasting weather which will cool off and by Monday the pool won’t be as tempting.

A few observations:

Love bugs have been the subject of a couple of my blog posts. Click here to read a previous post about Love Bugs. I’ve seen a few the past week or two. They’re definitely on their way back!!

We may be real grumps, but we’re still upset by the behavior of the children who visit Grandma and Grandpa and invade the pool. Yesterday the yelling of three or four kids got so loud at times that adults couldn’t converse. We moved away from them, but they were so loud you couldn’t escape. What happened to the old adages we employed when we raised our kids? I’d never have allowed my kids or my grandkids to infringe on the enjoyment of others. I’m amazed at folks who feel it’s an indication that kids are having fun. To me fun and rudeness don’t have to go hand and hand.

Rockin’ Rendezvous hasn’t lost any of it’s charm. The folks are really nice and we wouldn’t miss it. I do wish they’d have scheduled one outdoors. Last year we enjoyed the outdoor pool deck for one of the fun Thursday evenings. The new pricing policy on optional two-for-one drinks works better for us. Now you can buy one drink for a slightly higher but still very reduced price rather than always getting two. (The old policy pushed you to consume more than you wanted.) We’ll say good-bye to many of our friends at the gathering tonight.

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Sunday Splash!

Sunday we went to Busch Gardens again. By mid-afternoon it rained! And boy did it!!!! We were soaked.

Prior to the rain, we had a great time! We took in Jungala. It’s a new area. We especially enjoyed the with close-up encounters with tigers but it’s primarily directed at kids.

At 11:30 we attended the Charo show. The koochi koochi gal still has a body to die for. She’s 67 but could pass for an in-shape 40!! Darned good guitarist too! We had great seats (three rows back and in the center). I was able to get some decent photos of her:


We also had a nice lunch at the Dessert Grill while we watched American Beat, a high-energy music show featuring sounds from the 50’s to about the 80’s.

On our way home, we shopped for new furniture for our condo. We found some stuff that will be delivered Wednesday. It’ll really make our place more livable!

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Fun Week!

Grand weather and lots to do created a perfect week.

We were at the pool nearly every day, went out to dinner with friends, and spent time with Mom. Of course, Thursday’s Rockin’ Rendezvous is always a “must attend.”

Here’s a video of a bevy of beauties line dancing at this week’s rockin’ time. (Sorry the “Achy Breaky” sound isn’t clearer.) If you were there, see if you can find yourself.

Sometime soon, I plan to take all of those still photos I’ve been taking and compile a collage of the KP/SSC folks. It might take me a couple of weeks, but I hope I have a good picture of you to include. So if you see me with camera in hand, smile!

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Two weeks to go…

We leave for home two weeks for today. There’s a lot to do before we head back.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, from some standpoints, I am ready to go home. We’ll miss our Florida friends, the activities, and the lifestyle, but we have some up-north responsibilities that are nagging at us.

We realize our 20+ year old home in Michigan needs up-dating (floors, counters, paint, and a replacement roof). Our place is lovely from many standpoints, but when I think of what we are looking for in a Kings Point condo, we realize our place in Michigan needs some of those upgrades. So I’m getting itchy to get going on some of the projects that I envision.

Today we went strawberry picking on the other side of Wimama. Strawberries were beautiful, and we couldn’t believe the price: 25 cents a quart (for you-pick). We picked ten quarts. Now we need to do something with them.

We spent time at the pool this afternoon and saw many of our favorite friends. The water temperature was perfect! Tonight I was with Mom (who was a little better).

It was a perfect day.

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Comment about Sue’s Video

Three posts ago, I added Sue Sussman’s video of “Middle-Aged Woman.”

Last night a “comment” about the video was posted to the youtube site which is where the video of Sue’s performance is actually “stored.” (Most of us don’t have the tools on our websites to provide videos without youtube or a similar service. You can view Sue’s video from youtube or my blog.)

The comment was from Sue’s granddaughter.

She said, “cant believe my grandma’s on youtube. you go grandma.”

What a way to bridge the generations!!

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In Search of Peace and Quiet

When my mother was well and lived in Sun City Center, she would call me and complain about all the snowbirds who flocked to the South during “the season.” She’d whine about the lines in restaurants, the lack of parking places, and other inconveniences. I was never very understanding. Now that we’re here and in the midst of that time of the year, I understand why my mom complained.

This week it has been so crowded at the South Club pool that, even going early didn’t assure that we had a place to sit. The parking lot has been jammed, folks wander around looking for a seat, and when one is vacated there’s a mad dash by the masses. Today we finally admitted to ourselves that the guests have crowded us out.

After we ate lunch at the Friday South Club “pool party,” we went to the North Clubhouse pool. The water was considerably cooler and it’s not nearly as pretty, but we had lots of space and quiet. It was heavenly. We will probably go back there this weekend.

We have heard that a lot of folks rent places for the first three months of the year, so next Tuesday (April 1st) many of them will probably be gone. I’ll be looking forward to going back to the South Club but it’s not fun to have to jockey for a place to relax.

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Report from Rockin’ Rendezvous

I haven’t added to my blog since Saturday (the day before Easter) and here it is Thursday. Admittedly stuff has been piling up.

Let’s see — what has been happening?

I’ve spent a lot of time with Mom. She’s not doing very well. With my mother’s alzheimers, one of her major health issues had been loss of weight. For at least three or four years, getting her to eat had been a chore. She didn’t want anything except sweets. About six months ago, her doctor found the right appetite stimulant and suddenly she was hungry. She’d eat everything put in front of her. It was such a refreshing change that the staff just kept giving her more and she packed on more than 20 pounds.

Last month, the doctor felt she was gaining too much weight so he took her off the medication. Without the stimulant, she doesn’t seem to remember how to chew and swallow. Again it’s really work to get her to eat anything. After a few calls to her physician, we have her back on the medication. We hope she’ll respond to it again. She is developing other health issues (swelling of her legs and feet, fixed stares, etc.) It is possible that these symptoms are not related to the dietary issues, but it’s coincidental that this all happened at the same time. She seems to be slipping away.

After Busch Gardens on Friday (Good Friday), we had a cool and rainy Saturday, and cool Easter Sunday.

Lots of routine stuff took our time earlier this week: John had our vehicle and our golf cart serviced, golf cart inspected, I sold some instruments on my website, normal stuff like laundry and house cleaning. I also had to straighten out an error by our credit card company. They took a payment for the full balance of our credit card, which was a larger than our normal balance, out of both our credit union and our bank so they were double paid! As a result, we had a credit coming of over a thousand dollars!! Don’t know how you would feel about that, but I’d rather have the money in my account earning interest for me rather than in my credit card company’s hands. I had to get them to reverse the payment from the bank account. It’s all fixed now.

The cool weather continued through Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday (Wednesday) and today have been warm and wonderful. We were at the South Club pool both days. It looks like many families are together because of the Easter holiday. It’s been crowded, so finding a lounge chair on the pool deck has been difficult, but we managed.

Wednesday was especially busy. We spent a couple of hours at the pool and Wednesday night we went to the Elks Club in Ruskin and joined a big table-full of friends. Great spaghetti and friendships.

I also had a “wardrobe malfunction” at the pool. It seems my favorite swimsuit decided to deteriorate on me. Yup, it became see-through on the backside. Chlorine does that to some fabrics. I had been really careful too. I always hand wash my suits after I get home, but it still happened.. I was oblivious to the problem until a friend (Nancy) quietly mentioned to me that the rear of my suit was transparent and I was able to cover myself with a towel. It’s now in the trash. (And I realllllly liked that one too.) (Ladies, this is a warning. Hold them up to the light before you go out in public and make sure they haven’t become see-through.)

Tonight was karaoke night at Rockin’ Rendezvous. Kings Point has lots of talented folks. We enjoyed them. One singer did “Proud to be an American.” By the end, everyone was on their feet, singing in unison. It was really moving and felt good!

We have less than three weeks left before we’ll be heading back to Michigan. Days like today make us aware of why it’s so much fun down here! We had perfect pool temperatures, wonderful weather, a good time with friends tonight. Couldn’t have been any better.

Later I’ll post some photos of tonight.

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Sue’s Lip Sync Performance

On March 13th, Rockin’ Rondezvous featured a lip sync contest which I mentioned about five or six postings ago. Sue was the hit of the evening with her rendition of “Middle-Aged Woman.” I included the lyrics in that earlier posting about the evening so after you watch the video, you can scroll down to catch any words you may have missed:

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A “Good Friday”

We thought we’d beat the Easter Weekend crowd by going to Busch Gardens on Friday. Well, we were wrong! Traffic heading to the park was horrid. Once we got to the park, although it was more crowded than we’ve seen before, they can accommodate the masses, so it wasn’t too bad.

John and I saw the Irish Thunder show again and this time we had the best seats in the house (center front row). We also got great seats for the Herman’s Hermits show with Peter Noone (4th row center).

Peter and the group really got the crowd going. It was amazing to see the huge audience singing “I’m Henry the 8th I am” with gusto. Their music may be more than 40 years old, but they still have a following.

Here’s a small clip from the show:

We also went to the Budweiser Brewmaster Club presentation which was an interesting and enjoyable visit. We’d recommend. (Wish they didn’t make you wait 30 days to return. We plan to revisit to Busch Gardens in April for Charo, but that’ll probably be April 4th which is only a couple weeks from now.)

The traffic on the return trip home discouraged us from a shopping trip to Brandon which we’d planned to include in our day. Oh, well.. it was a fun full day.

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Finally a Phone!

Today we finally got our 813 area code phone number. Our new number is 813-944-3129. Any of the folks we’ve met here in Sun City Center can now call us as a “local” call. We need to inform Mom’s facility, accountant, vet, etc.

Now that we have Vonage service and we’ve been fully transferred to them, let’s hope it works as advertised!

Tomorrow we’re heading back to Busch Gardens – our second visit this year. We’ll get to see Herman’s Hermits and take in the wonderful park. Should be a beautiful day! Not too hot and since it’s Good Friday, we think it’ll be less crowded.

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Elvis Lives!

Elvis aka Billy LindseyTonight we were invited to a street party on Inverness Greens Drive here in Kings Point. Bill and Donna Markland and Bob and Sue Bemis hosted it. It was billed as “A Night With Elvis” and sure enough “The King” was there. It was a fun time, with music, food, dancing, and lots and lots of friendly people. We estimated the crowd to be about 150-200 folks. Everyone had a fun time.

After the party, a local realtor, Pam Reno, gave us a tour of the condo next to the Markland’s. It was lovely and is definitely on our short list especially with such great neighbors!

On our way home, John and I also stopped at Sifield Greens Drive where we learned quite a bit about some vacant units from couple who lived next to the units. We were even invited in to see their place which had a perfect view.

The pool has been heavenly for the past three days. Today it was a tad windy, but the water and air temperatures were perfect. 75-85 degree temps are predicted every day for the next ten days.

We have less than a month left before we head back to Michigan. We’re going to savor every remaining day!

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Night Swim (aka Night Swarm)

Tonight, after dark, we went back to the South Club pool. We’d enjoyed near perfect water and air temperatures all afternoon and it was just as enjoyable this evening. It was nearly empty. There were a few party people in and near the hot tub but the scene was lovely and tranquil. We didn’t get home until after 9:00.

The only minor problem were some flying insects (sorta like locusts).

They weren’t so bad that they broke the mood. We loved the evening.

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Middle Aged Woman

Susan Sussman did the cutest “lip sync” at the Rockin Rondezvous contest night. She was a hands down winner!!!

You’d have loved it.


The lyrics:













The person who wrote it (I believe her name is Lisa Koch) really did a great job poking fun at conditions all mature women relate to. Sue’s rendition was awesome.

The evening was a mixture of fun and so-so time.

One thing really upset us was that, for the first hour of the evening, there were several tiny kids (2-4 years old) on the dance floor and to me that’s totally inappropriate in an adult drinking setting. If a child gets hurt by being bumped by someone who can’t see them at knee level, who will be sued? Is it appropriate for tiny toddlers to be subjected to adults in a drinking setting? Twice I saw adults walking across the room carrying a tray of drinks and a near miss occurred. The tiny kids were obscured by the tray and didn’t pay any attention to the adults.

The seating was also at a real premium. Although they aren’t supposed to, folks saved seats all over the place. We arrived early and found our places, but it was a mess because by the time the event was scheduled to start (at 4:00), all seats were taken. As folks arrived, they didn’t appreciate finding 3/4’s of the chairs reserved for folks who hadn’t arrived yet.

We were in the midst of folks we didn’t know at all. They were very nice, but it wasn’t as much fun as last week.

When the lip sync contest started, it didn’t matter who we were sitting by. We all enjoyed the efforts of the four acts.

We left as soon as it was over.

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Too Much to Do –Too Little Time

We have so much that we want to cram in before we head back home.

This Saturday, Sun City Center will have “Funfest” which is a total community involved festival. We’ll be part of a dance demo which will be put on by Bernice and Art May, the folks who provide us with our dance lessons. It’s just two short dances, so very easy.

We want to go to Busch Gardens.

We have a dinner to attend Saturday and a party on Monday. (Guess that leaves Sunday for Busch Gardens.)

We have looked over the bus trips that we could take before we leave for home on April 15th. We have one in mind on April 4th, but it’s hard to commit to a day away from Kings Point when we could kick ourselves because the pool here is so lovely.

We want to take in all of the Thursday Rockin’ Rendezvous, and I want to be with Mom for her evening meals. There are dance lessons, Friday Pool Parties, get togethers, meetings, dances, parties, etc. It’s hard to crowd it all in.

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Phone Patience and Other Stuff

This whole phone transfer business has tested our patience. We are FINALLY scheduled to be completely moved to Vonage VoIP telephone service on Thursday, March 20th. The process was delayed and our regular phone number wasn’t operational for about two weeks. But at least Vonage has given us a month’s credit for our trouble. We were able to get Speednet to restore our old phone service until Vonage takes over. I don’t know who to blame for the problems we’ve had but there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m anxious because, once we have our regular phone number transferred to Vonage, I’ll subscribe to a second “virtual number” here in the Florida (813 area code) so folks down here can call us with a local number. We should be able to receive both our 989 and our 813 phone numbers seamlessly on the same phone. It’s not really “forwarding” but it’ll work that way.

I LOVE techie stuff. Can’t wait to be able to play with all the features which will be available to us. Waiting until the 20th will be a test of my patience but at least folks can reach us on our regular number now.

Last night we went to a Kings Point Ballroom Dance Club dance at the main clubhouse. It was a nice evening. We sat with enjoyable folks, the music was good, and we had fun dancing a lot. I wore a dressy dress (the one I wore New Year’s Eve) and John looked great. It was fun!

Today from 12:45-1:45 we are taking a swing dance lesson and it’ll be warm enough for the pool when we finish. Tonight there are spaghetti dinners at the Ruskin Moose and Elks Clubs – maybe we can go.

In addition to our phone problems this week, we also had electrical problems with our golf cart, but John was able to fix it.

Life is good!!

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We’re Winners!

Back on February 16th we attend some real estate open houses of residences that are for sale here in Kings Point. Last night we got a call from a Keller Williams realtor.who informed us that we’d won a $50 gift card. We’d signed up for the drawing at the condos we toured. Obviously it’s not the lottery, but we’ll enjoy spending it.

Kings Point has dozens (actually hundreds) of homes/condos for sale, but there’s a “no sign” rule so it’s hard to discover which ones are available. Keller Williams uses a small inconspicuous placard that has been deemed “acceptable.” It’s actually hard to spot, but hopefully it will be adopted by all realtors.

We’ve found that word-of-mouth is probably the best way to learn about available units, but even neighbors aren’t always aware when a place goes on the market.

We already have the condo where Mom and her husband lived so now isn’t the time for us to buy. We will have free use of this place until Mom is gone. We’d be stupid to take on the expenses associated with a second condo, especially since prices are still going down, but it’s tempting because there are so many available and there are deals to be had. We’re keeping out eyes open and making a list of the ones we prefer. If/when something happens to Mom, I hope we’ll be able to find the perfect place. (Notice I said “I” because John’s not totally convinced that we want a place down here.)

The past weekend was chilly (60-70) but today it’ll warm up to about 75 and by next weekend it’ll be about 80-85!

Still no phone service. It looks like Speednet hasn’t released our number so it can be moved to Vonage.

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Blown away!

We were invited to play for an outdoor BBQ at the Episcopal Church and really looked forward to it. We had a polished list of 32 of our favorite tunes ready to go. I don’t know about John, but I felt really good about how we sounded and was sure we’d do a great job and leave a great impression. I could see all kinds of opportunities coming our way because the hammered dulcimer is so unknown around here. It would have been a good way to display the instruments.

When it came to our performance, the best way to describe it was “blown away!” We arrived about 1:40 for our 2:00 performance but the winds were so strong that they recommended that we should forget about it. We hung around until about 2:30 and had to agree that there was no way we could play. It was about 62 degrees out and the winds were gusting to about 35 mph. (Flags were straight out which is an indication of high winds.)

Graciously they still give us a BBQ’ed pork dinner which we’ll enjoy tonight. (We tried refusing but they insisted and it was obvious that the crowd would be down from what they’d planned so we thanked them and accepted their offer.)

They’d decided that sound equipment wasn’t workable in the wind because the mics would just pick up wind noise, so they’d put away the amplification.

There was a band playing when when we arrived — all horns and a drum. They were good. But with the wind, even their sound died out 25 feet from where they were playing.

We didn’t even try it. John’s hammers would have ended up in the next county and we’d have been playing for ourselves because no one could have heard us. The tent was empty. No one stayed to eat there because it was so cold and windy. We were relieved that they didn’t insist because the situation wasn’t good, but I’m disappointed. We were ready and we would have blown them away, instead we were.

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Phone Status and the Past Week

Our phone problems will (hopefully) soon be resolved. We have the Vonage phone service now, but we’re using a temporary number because our Saginaw (989-781-0849) number hasn’t been “ported” (transferred) yet. Once it’s working, I can set up an 813 number so people down here can call us as a local call.

It’s been a busy week.

Last time I wrote was a week ago.
Little Harbor View
Saturday, the 1st, was John’s 70th birthday. We went to “Little Harbor” for lunch and sunset. It was cool but lovely. We left about 6:40 p.m. so we could make it to “The Follies,” a big production put on by residents of Kings Point. It was a fun show, a tad long, but enjoyable. Dancers, vocals, more dancers, cloggers, all performed. No hammered dulcimers or other instruments. (Only instrument was a guitar.)

Tuesday, the 4th, we drove down to Sarasota where we had a lovely dinner with our friends, Wayne and Linda Conklin. The food was grand, the conversation lively, the friends “the best,” and the wine super. For me it was a great 66th birthday!

St. John's River View
Wednesday we took a Romance Riverboat Cruise down the St. John’s River leaving from Sanford, FL. It was a fairly long bus ride, but the scenery and meal made it worthwhile. Yup, the food was fantastic (prime rib). We were back by 4:45, just in time for me to be with Mom for dinner.

Thursday (yesterday) we were busy. I spent a couple of hours in the beauty shop having my hair done and had to apply for our annual Kings Point badge. With our situation being fairly unique, it takes forever to fill out the paper work.

We went to Rockin’ Rendezvous last night and had a fun time. We sat with (cute) Brenda and John, who we are getting to know. They’re dern nice folks. We’ve watched them across the room and I’ve always commented that she looks like she’s having so much fun. This time we were part of it.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the two of us are going to perform for a picnic/BBQ at the Episcopal Church. It should be a fun, informal play. It’ll be our first real performance down here.

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Phone Woes

Kings Point
Last night we had an ok time at Rockin Rendezvous at the South Club. It was a karaoke night so we enjoyed watching folks do their thing. It was a cool night as we drove back, but I stopped and took a photo of the lovely scene.

Today it’s warmed up a bit and over the weekend it’s going to be into the 80’s.

We finally had our phone service restored, but we’ve already decided to leave Speednet and go with Vonage. It’ll still be a VoIP (voice over internet phone) but Vonage has lots of extra features and is a little cheaper. This past week has showed us how vulnerable we are with Speednet’s phone service. At least with Vonage, we can do a lot from the internet such as: turn off voice mail, check messages, see who has called, change our phone to forward to our cell phone, have 911 service, and for less than $5 monthly get a second “virtual” phone for this area code so folks can reach us here without calling long-distance. It took me all morning to get everything straightened out and get it set up.

It’ll take up to 10 days to move our regular Saginaw phone number to this number, but in the meanwhile, we’ll be able to use the phone through Speednet. We’re looking forward to those extra features.

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Out of Touch

If anyone is trying to reach us by phone, they’re going to get our voice mail.

We use a voice over internet phone (VoIP) which requires a special “box” plugged into our high speed internet. It works both in Michigan and here in Florida so the same phone number rings no matter where we are. We really like being able to answer Saginaw calls seamlessly. It’s much cheaper than cellphone service and allows us to have a couple of “house phones.” Unfortunately yesterday our phone system “went out” and we can’t receive or place calls.

Therefore if you try to phone us, you’ll go to voice mail. Speednet (our Michigan internet service) has told us they are working on the problem.

Today it’s very windy and cool so we won’t be doing anything outside. I had planned to do some telephoning. Need to make some appointments and it would be a good time to talk to friends. Unfortunately it’s not possible.

Oh, well, there’s lots to keep me busy and no excuses. The condo needs cleaning. I also need to do laundry, organization, sewing, filing, and lots of stuff I’ve been putting off. I’m also way behind with the stuff I need to do for the Evart dulcimer festival. This afternoon we take our next foxtrot dance lesson.

So, if you leave a voice mail message, be aware that we won’t get it until Speednet’s system problems are resolved.

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The Week in Review

What’d we do this week? Don’t know where the time went… the days flew by, and we were busy every day!

The high points included: pool on Monday (see my previous post of that day); the raffle for bus seats on Wednesday (we’ll be taking a river boat cruise on March 5th); a dance lesson Wednesday; Rockin’ Rendezvous at the South Club and a “Family Night party” with my mother at her facility (Courtyards at Aston Gardens) on Thursday; Friday bus trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa, the huge annual Garage Sale held at Kings Point Friday and Saturday, and more time at the pool yesterday (Saturday) until we were rained out. Today we’ll go to dance practice and shopping.

Busch Gardens Background
Friday at Busch Gardens was a great day! Perfect weather, great shows, and lovely grounds with flowers that were breath-taking.

We purchased two-year passes so we can return frequently. It was physically exhausting to try to take in as much as we did (we’re out of shape) but would have been even worse, if we didn’t know that we can go back and catch what we missed.

The shows we saw included Irish Thunder, a talented Celtic group with dancers, singing and fiddling; two musical shows, one vocal and one instrumental; a honky tonk piano player; and a great animal show which featured cats, dogs, birds, pigs, and even a skunk.

Busch Gardens FlamingoBusch Gardens Bird Pond

I loved the flamingos. They were incredibly colorful.

Busch Gardens Gorilla

And we were both mesmerized by the primates, especially the gorillas.
Sometimes it felt like we were the captives and they were enjoying us.

We will make it back at least once in March. We’re looking forward to it!
Busch Gardens Elephant

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Drips on the horizon

Yesterday was way tooooooooooo crowded with a gazillion grand KIDS at the KP South Club pool. We struggled to find a lounge chair and then fought the kids constantly. Guess it had something to do with today being Presidents’ Day and the fact that kids had a three-day weekend. We were so frazzled from avoiding them, that we were ready to just skip the pool for the rest of the season. They splashed us (intentionally), dove in (barely missing me), cannonball jumped in (with wild splashing), and were total nuisances. But we found that kids are “fair weather friends.” Today was cloudy and threatening but we headed that direction shortly after noon. It was fairly empty and as the clouds moved in, more folks left. But just before the rain, it was heavenly to have a tranquil pool where we could converse with friends and float around unimpeded. Tomorrow the temps will be even cooler (probably too cool for us although John is saying “maybe”) but by Wednesday it should quite warm again. (Pssss — Please don’t tell the kids!)

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Wow! What a day!

The whole day was perfect.

We hit “the sale” which is the fund-raising re-sale shop in downtown Sun City Center early today. I found a whole cache of paperbacks (25 cents each or 5 for $1). I bought 10 for $2. I then discovered a pair of cute new stretchy white knee-length shorts and some other stuff. I spent a total of $3 more. John got a couple of items for less than $4. We were both totally satisfied. Then we headed to Wal-mart. Shampoo and a few other items were on our shopping list. After a stop at Taco Bell, we were home by 12:30.

This afternoon, starting at 1:00 there were open houses of condos for sale in Kings Point. We attended about six of the open houses and enjoyed seeing what was available but viewing that many in a short time blurs their distinction. Princeton Greens Court seems to be our favorite area. We found one we like there which we added to our “wish list” which includes one we already viewed on that street and an adjacent one we know is available. We really like that association. We’ll keep watching what’s available.

We got to the pool about 2:30.

The South Club pool was unbelievably crowded but perfect. The temperature couldn’t have been better. After struggling to find a lounge chair (which is your oasis amid Kings Point residents), we floated around on noodles*, chatting with KP friends. At about 4:15, I mentioned to John that I should get back to the condo to change, so we left.

I was visiting with Mom by 4:45. At 5:50, I was heading back home to have dinner with John.

A busy, perfect day. Tomorrow I hope for the same.

Weather was flawless. Friendships perfect. Lots to do. What more could we ask for?


* Noodles are the foam tubes we all use to enjoy the pool. Most folks use a style that is about 2.5″ in diameter but we have two monster tubes about 4″ in diameter. Everyone has a noodle or two. We have four but need to replace one of our small diameter ones. It’s lost it’s ability to keep it’s shape. Nothing more disappointing than a floppy noodle when you want to stay afloat in the pool.

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Will the real Morrie please stand up

John and I attended a Michigan Club pizza party the other day. The entertainment for the evening was a men’s chorus from here in Sun City Center, Florida.

When the group took the stage, John and I looked at each other and said, “Morrie?”

Yup, there in the second row was a fellow who looked just like our Evart festival friend, Morrie Holloway, who is the sound man for our huge summer dulcimer event.

Here are photos of the two guys and I’m sure you can see the resemblance. Which one is the real Morrie?

Which one is our Michigan Morrie?

Give up? That’s our Michigan Morrie on the left and even Morrie said, “WOW! He really looks like me.”

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Not seeing well (aka distorted view)

I wear hard contacts and have for years. The ones I wear now are “state of the art breathable bifocals” but still hard lenses. I love them and see wonderfully well.

Today I put my lenses in and my right eye started tearing. I took it out, cleaned it again but it kept irritating my right eye. It was awful. John was anxious to get going, so I finally toughed it out and put it in and we left the condo. My eye was a mess by then, but I was able to see pretty good. Nevertheless it wasn’t comfortable.

We were gone a couple of hours and it was getting worse and worse. Finally, while we were grocery shopping, I popped it out and saw a hairline crack on the edge of the lens. I could feel it with my fingernail, but I kept thinking it was probably some eye grunge.

When we got home, I quickly removed that right lens. I was trying to feel if it really had a crack and the lens fell a part in two pieces! Guess there’s no doubt it was breaking.

I consider myself lucky. What if it had broken in my eye? I don’t know how I’d have gotten the pieces out without hurting my eye.

Thank heavens I have some old ones with me and I can get by until a new one can be made and sent to me.

I can get by. I actually was relieved to put the old ones in. At least they didn’t hurt like the one that was breaking did. I can’t see as good, but I can manage.

But if I’d had those two pieces of broken lens in my eye, it sure would have been rough getting them out. I don’t know how they would have been able to be popped out.

Anyway that was my today excitement. It’s been cool and cloudy. Not nice as it has been. It rained part of the day but tomorrow it’ll be better and by mid week we should be back in the low 80’s.

I just realized, I haven’t posted since we found out that our sweet dog, Willow, (a 5 1/2 pound long-coat chihuahua) has a heart problem. It’s cost us a fortune to have her diagnosed and get the medications, but she seems to be doing better. We found out Tuesday, she has a bad heart valve so some of the blood is going the wrong way and filling up her chest cavity. Her heart’s enlarged and she coughs a lot because it’s causing fluid to build up in her lungs. (Her coughing keeps us awake most of the night. It’s been awfully hard on everyone.)

Hopefully we can get her condition under control and she’ll do ok. She’s now nearly 12 years old. Hopefully we can give her a few more good years. (The vet said he often has dogs with this problem who have survive in good health for 4 to 6 additional years.) The vet here is wonderful. We are fortunate to have even better vets down here than at home. We found a veterinary hospital nearby a year and a half ago when Willow got “bruised” (she walked under John’s feet in the kitchen).

The vet has been really attentive with this heart problem. He said it’s very common with small dogs. He’s called us at home several times to talk over what he’s found out. We’re not used to such excellent service from our veternarians. It’s not cheap but they are really good and we trust them.

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Updated video

I just updated my video taken the South Club Pool. Originally I put it on Youtube in November, but I’ve replaced that one with one taken yesterday (February 3rd). It was busy yesterday and a lot more “typical” of what goes on at the pool. I’ll be adding some other videos to this blog area. Watch for them.

Check it out.

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Venice Music

Yesterday we enjoyed the company of nice folks in a lovely setting at the Venice jam session. The music was so-so which is sometimes what happens when folks play together for the first time. The place was beautiful. Unfortunately hearing each other was tough and sometimes you could only hear someone playing with a beat all their own. But we’re glad we went.

Venice Jam Session

Above is a photo of the gathering. You can see John and me to the far left. John’s next to the lady with the red shirt and white hair, and I’m next to him. Our good friends, the Conklins, also attended. It’s always fun to be with them.

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This week

Another great week.

We had two or three days of “pool worthy” weather so we took advantage of it. Saw the Temptations Tuesday night (quite disappointing) and had a typical fun time at Rockin’ Rondevous on Thursday.

The Rockin’ Rondevous crowd is always fun. There’s cute Sue, adorable Brenda, and good friends Jim & Sissy. The whole bunch is animated and enjoyable to be around. Everyone seems content with where they are in life.

The crowd is broken into two bunches: the inside “dancing” crowd, and the outside “chatting” folks. Normally we’re inside, but the rest rooms are close to the outside folks, so we always get that far and spend the next half hour laughing and enjoying the company of Pat & Paul, Peg (I and II), and lots of others. (You always have to allow time for these conversations.)

This next week it’s supposed to be in the low 80’s!!! Sunshine, here we come!!

As I write this, we’re heading south on I-75 on our way to Venice. There’s a music jamboree at a restaurant called “Snook Haven.” We’re supposed to meet up with some Michigan folks. Should be a good time. It’s been so long since I’ve played that I’m sure I’ll feel rusty. Down here in Florida our music definitely takes a lower place among our priorities.

Willow (our cute little chihuahua) hasn’t been feeling well. She kept us up most of the night coughing. We hated to leave her, but she seemed fine this a.m. I’m sure we’ll cut our day slightly shorter than we’d originally planned so we can get back to her. That might allow me to be with Mom for her dinner this evening too.

I’ve been trying to fulfill my commitment to create three websites for a Michigan music group (Sonas). They hired me to do a main site for them ( with two sub-sites. I’m still working on one of the sub-sites, but this weekend I should finish it up. That’ll be a relief.

I also need to get busy organizing the workshops for the huge Evart Funfest. I’m way behind but having too much fun to think much about that commitment.

We’re nearly to Venice. I’ll write more later and I’ll include some photos from Rockin’ Rondevous. There are some attractive folks who are fun to photograph.

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Warming Up

Half of today was spent with my mother in the outpatient facility at the local hospital. She needed an ultrasound test so I accompanied her.

All went smoothly although I don’t have the results of the test.

I picked her up at about 8:30 and we rode her facility’s bus to the outpatient center. We had quite a wait.

I noticed she was looking at me closely and I asked her if anything was wrong. She said “no” but I asked if maybe she’d like to fix my hair for me. She took my comb and fussed with my hair like I was a child. Mom doesn’t remember a lot, but those old memories are sometimes there. It felt good to let her be my mother. Our relationship is obviously reversed, but for that moment, I was her little girl again.


Tomorrow night we’re going to see the ’60’s group, The Temptations, at the main clubhouse. It’s also supposed to warm up into the mid-70’s so we’ll be at the pool all day. In fact, it appears that we’ll have wonderful weather for the next week. We’ve had a few days of cool temps, so it’ll be great to get back to the social center of Kings Point, the pool.


John McCainI haven’t mentioned that Saturday we went to a John McCain rally. It’s not that I’m a big fan of McCain, but I think my husband, John, is leaning that direction. (I’m totally undecided.)

It was interesting. The place was packed with loyal supporters. It was much better organized than what I witnessed back about 25 years ago when Jimmy Carter was running for re-election and visited Saginaw Valley State University (where I worked). Back then, we were given the day off. It was a mad house. People pushing and shoving. Security this time as much better.

I’ve been asked how McCain looked (older? younger?) I’d say he looked exactly as I’d seen him on TV. He was a good speaker. His answers were concise and impressive.

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Week Three and two days

We have been really busy.

I wrote the following on Tuesday (the 22nd), but somehow it didn’t show up on the blog. It’s now Thursday.

When you read what I wrote, please consider that it was posted Tuesday. It’ll then make sense.

I said. . . .

We just got back from the pool. John dropped me off so I could change my clothes and he scooted to the grocery store. He’s getting the food for dinner and when he gets back I’m taking off to go see Mom. He’ll fix dinner while I’m gone so we can eat fairly early.

Today was beautiful and warm (about 75). It had been too cool for the pool. The warm up today was really welcome.

We have been so busy it’s unbelievable. We go to dance lessons or dance practice two or three times a week, we’ve had dinners, dances, and gatherings.

Wednesday nights it’s Spaghetti night at the Elks Club so tomorrow night we’re going to be at the Elks Club with Dale and Trudy (neighbors) and some friends of theirs. Thursday nights are the most fun here because it’s Rockin’ Rondevous at the South Clubhouse. Friday noon there’s a pool party and Friday nights are fish fry nights.

We now belong to the entertainment club known as the Pelican Players and last October we joined the Michigan Club.

We have attended Kings Point Dance Club Dances and we’re on their waiting list to become a member of the KP Dance Club. We also attend some Baby Boomer Club and Golden Oldies Club events but we don’t really belong to those groups yet. It’s easier to just play a couple dollars more for a non-member admission fee to an event than pay $40 or so for an annual membership since so far we haven’t been able to attend that many events.

Last Wednesday when we went to the “raffle drawing” for the seats on the bus trips. The drawing was a huge, well-organized event. Everyone put their resident badges in a barrel (couples put theirs together so when one was drawn they both were.) All of the badges were drawn out one by one and announced. We were drawn early and we chose to go to Busch Gardens on February 22nd. Kings Point only provides you with the bus trip. The admission is extra. We’re buying an “annual” admission so we can go back every month or so on our own without paying again.

We are also on the waiting list for another trip on February 2nd to a craft fair in Sarasota.

I love it down here.

Our neighbors here on Fallow Court petitioned all of the condo owners in this association .. As a result, they changed our association’s rule about “no pets” in part because of our dog Willow. The rule change now makes Willow a legal resident!

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Two weeks

We’ve been here for a little over two weeks. We’ve gone through several temperature extremes and this week the prediction is for cool temps for at least a week. (Darn!) We had beautiful days for the first few days, then for or five days of cool, followed by several days of lovely, and here comes the cool again. By cool, I mean it’ll be in the 60’s… certainly not pool weather.

I guess it’s to be expected since January is Florida’s coolest weather. February it should start warming up. We’ll be here until April so we can afford to waste a few days.

We have lots going on: tomorrow (Tuesday) morning a condo owners meeting, a dance in the evening, a potluck Wednesday evening, Rockin’ Rondevoux on Thursday, Friday a pool party. We’re hoping to get seats on the bus so we can go to Busch Gardens in February (they do it by a lottery this week) and maybe go to an art fair in Sarasota.

I’ve been trying to get some of my business chores done. I agreed to create a website for a music group, and it’s been hard to fit it into our busy schedule but I have things shaping up at:

Today I lost a good share of our social calendar which was stored on my computer. Somehow a shutdown corrupted the datebook file and it wouldn’t boot up. I have restored most of it from an old (mid-December) back-up, but it took a lot of time I didn’t have. I hope I haven’t forgotten anything that we’d added since mid-December. I vow to be better at doing back-ups. (How’s that for another New Year’s Resolution to add to what I’m already working on?)

I’m really fitting into this “good life” life-style. John’s fighting it, but I think he’s reluctantly enjoying it too.

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THE Accident and Spaghetti

Yesterday was another lovely day at the pool followed last night by a great spaghetti dinner and dancing in Ruskin at the Elks Club. But the day had started dismally with the news reports of a horrid accident on I-4 in Polk County (northeast of us). Four people were killed in the 70 car pile up, the result of zero visibility fog/smog at about 4:30 a.m.. When we got up at 8:00 a.m. we were horrified as the news broadcasts showed cars and large trucks still burning while helpless rescue helicopters were forced to wait until the fog cleared before they could go in and move the victims to hospitals. Four deaths and 36 injured were finally tabulated. The highway is still closed. (Note: a week or more later another victim died bringing the death total to five.)

We also looked at a few more condos. We only went inside one of them. The owners are an older couple with some health problems needing to move north to be close to family. The place showed promise but would require some renovation to make it work for us. If we could get it for under $130,000 and put $20,000-$30,000 into it, it would probably be a great. The price they’re asking is higher. The setting was lovely in a neighborhood we really like. Oh, well… we’ll keep looking.

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Florida Dreamin’

The other day we visited a condo that really impressed us. I guess I mentioned it in my last posting. It was just perfect. Both of us keep thinking about it. We will probably go back and talk with the owners again yet we know this isn’t the right time for us to find something. This place is beautifully decorated and comes with all the furnishings. It’s “possible” for us to get it now, but we’d need to negotiate. It’s probably best to “just say no” but it sure is tempting.

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Different Kind of Cold

In Michigan, our normal indoor thermostat during the winter is set to about 68 degrees and at night down to 55. We are comfy.

Here in Florida, where buildings are poorly insulated, we have the inside temperature set at 75 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night, and it’s darned cold. I’m bundled up in an afghan.

Record-setting cold is predicted for tonight here in Central Florida. We had a high of about 50 degrees today with a record-setting low predicted of 28 tonight. We’ve loaded all the extra blankets on the bed and plan to snuggle in. Up in Michigan we’d be celebrating a heatwave of 50 degrees with a 28 degree freeze. Sure doesn’t feel good down here.

This afternoon we looked at “for sale” condos. We toured about a half dozen and found one that’s perfect. It’s not a new unit but it’s been renovated and decorated beautifully. Everything is first class. Lovely furnishings, color, style, simplicity, total taste. We can’t find anything that we don’t like about it except the price. We aren’t ready to buy yet, so maybe the price will come down or it’ll be sold to someone else so it’s not on the market when we’re in a position to purchase. At least we can see what’s possible to do a lot with an older unit. This unit had large ceramic floor tiles throughout, a spacious bar in the kitchen, excellent lighting, with exceptionally lovely furnishings (which would be included with the place). It even had four large screen TVs including a 58 inch LCD in the living room. A fantastic master bath including a see-through glass-type lavatory sink could have been a poster for decorating excellence. The kitchen was flawless – stainless with the black granite counter tops and some custom features that have been used in advertising brochures. The lanai faced a golf course. It was really a show-place which we were in awe of. I wish we could buy it now, but it doesn’t make sense. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. John was equally impressed. We could buy it, but it would make things difficult financially. Yet it’s sooooo nice. We can dream!! I can’t imagine finding any place more perfect.

After visiting the “for sale” condos, we stopped and visited our buddy, Bob Taylor, and then came home. It was too cold to be outside riding around on a golf cart so we came back and warmed up. Next weekend it should be warm enough for the pool, but not today.

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Happy New Year!!

Last night we celebrated the incoming year with friends at an “Oldies but Goodies” club party. It was great fun.

We had arrived on Saturday. It was the roughest trip we’ve ever made. Traffic was heavy and that rain I described continued until we got into Florida. It was hard to see and really stressful for John. When we finally got out of the rain, we ran into a major traffic jam as the result of a three car pile-up north of Tampa. But we finally made it about 3:30. The temperature was about 85.

At 5:15, I broke away from the unpacking long enough to go see Mom. I had expected that for sure this time she wouldn’t know me. I came in during dinner. She looked up and I couldn’t tell what she thought. I sat down beside her and said, “Hi. I’ve sure missed you and I’m sure glad to be here.” I didn’t know if she was aware of who I was, so I said, “Do you know who I am?” (I had been careful NOT to call her Mom or to give her any hints.)

She answered firmly, “Yes, you’re Sharon.”

Last time I had to give her hints. In September, I reminded her by saying “Am I your daughter? Who is your daughter, etc.”

But this time she said “Sharon” without a hint or a clue and I was awed!!

I said, “You’re right. I sure do love you.”

And she said, “I love you too.”

Then we went into our “routine.”

I said, “How. much?”

And she said, “A bushel and a peck.”

and I asked.. “And……..????”

And she said, “And a hug around the neck.”

It’s an old old old song from the 1940’s, which we both remember. (The lyrics are: “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, a hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap, a barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep about you… about you. Yes, I love you a bushel and a peck, you bet your pretty neck I do. A doodle-oodle-ooh-doo, A-doodle-oodle-oodle-ooh-doo, A-doodle-oodle-oodle-ooh-doo, A-doodle-oodle-ooh-doo-doo”)

I said, “Mom, there’s nothing more in this world that could have made me happier than you remembering me and telling me you love me.” And then I started crying. It was so special. Everyone was laughing and hugging us. MOM KNEW ME!! I know it sounds trivial, but it was the best thing that could have happened. I can’t remember being so happy.

At least for that day she was so much better!

I was over to visit her Sunday and yesterday. Neither time was she was sharp as she’d been Saturday. She didn’t remember John’s name and had a fixed stare on Saturday. Yesterday I couldn’t get her to wake up and talk with me. I’ll soon go over to see how she’s doing.

Sunday, we hung out at the pool. It was fun seeing dozens of our Kings Point friends.

Yesterday was cloudy and rainy so we didn’t do the pool thing, but instead took a list of available condos and when “shopping.” It was fun. We got home late afternoon in time to get ready for the party.

So far, it’s been a great visit.

I’ve made some resolutions which I vow to keep. They include losing about 15 pounds, exercising more, and being a better wife house keeper.

Happy 2008!!

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Creeping to Florida

We’re near Chattanooga, TN. We’ve been driving through a horrid rain storm. Blinding conditions, fog, and heavy traffic. It’s been scary but John always seems to keep his cool so I feel surprisingly safe even in a bad situation like that. It lets up for a while, and then hits us again.

We have about 190 miles before we get to our second night destination in Macon, GA.

Last night’s motel was very convenient but it had one negative quality: cigarette smoke. We had requested a non-smoking room and when we got there, it was fairly fresh smelling. But last night, while we were relaxing and watching TV, smoke came in. It was like a half dozen heavy smokers were in our room. It would come and go. I have a feeling there was a ventilation connection between our room and a smoking room and whenever they’d light up, it was pumped into ours. I’d give it another chance, because maybe it was just a fluke and maybe our Room 115 had the problem.

Dinner was at a better than average Cracker Barrel.

Tonight we’ll have steak at Logan’s Roadhouse. We’ll be ready for it, because we didn’t really eat lunch. We’d stopped in Knoxville for gas but decided it was a tad too early for lunch. Then we drove into that lousy rain storm — which right now is hitting us again extra hard. Our lunch consisted of cashews, some potato chips, and a peanutty brownie.

The sky is a little brighter, so maybe we’re nearly past this rain storm.

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The Road Well-Traveled

Again, we’re headed south to Florida. We got through the holidays and now it’s time to be in the sun.

Our weather this morning is gray and dismal. It’s sorta spitting snow or something, but very lightly and it’s not affecting travel.

We will over-night at a new-to-us motel in the Lexington/Richmond, KY, area. We were prepared to leave either today or tomorrow, so I booked rooms both nights and we’ll cancel what we don’t use.

Our choice of motel is decided by several factors. We keep looking for the perfect itinerary. Last time we came down John was recovering from surgery so our daily distance covered had to be carefully monitored. We stayed in Lexington which we found balanced out “Day 1” and “Day 2” better, but it was kind of a low-class place. We had a run-in in the parking lot with a resident who appeared to be doing a drug deal or something shady, so we decided to pick a new first-night stopping point a tad further south. Besides this one is close to a Cracker Barrel and John likes their food.

Christmas was very low-key. Since I’d received my big gift (a high end digital camera) a month ago and John just got small stuff, there wasn’t a lot of suspense in the gift area. Christmas day, to avoid a massive “left-over” situation, we skipped the large turkey feast in lieu of a tasty roast beef dinner. It was great but not “tradition.” Christmas night I took the tree down, while John prepared the house for our four-month absence.

This trip south is becoming “routine.” I used to feel my role was important and I needed to keep us on the right track, but now the truck knows it’s way.

Snow cover on the ground is skimpy – it melted Christmas Day. We did enjoy a few weeks when we had quite a bit, so at least I can feel that I experienced some Michigan winter. Now, hopefully, we can enjoy some southern sunshine.

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