Archive for2010-04 to 10 – Mid-April ’til Oct 2 in Michigan

Drip Dry

Our problem: Our clothes washer decided to die while I was doing final, before-we-leave laundry. It’s ancient (at least 40-years old) and has served us well, but why now??!! It won’t spin the water out of the clothes. Our choices seemed to be: pack up wet clothes and re-wash them when we get to Florida, haul the whole wet load to a laundrymat and spend the afternoon there, or go buy a new washer.

But together we handled the problem.. Yes, it’s a temporary fix.

The clothes are drip-drying in the garage. We siphoned the water from the washer. They’ll go in the drier when they’re not so wet. (All will need to be rewashed anyway.) We’ll take any that we need to Florida as they are and wash them down there.

In April, first thing we’ll do when we get home is buy a new washer AND dryer. Since the old harvest gold set has lasted for more than 40 years, they deserve retirement.

Wonder what currently sold washer/dryer set will last 40 years. We’ll be in the market in April.

Come to think of it, if the new one lasts 40+ years, I’ll be 109 and John will be 113. Maybe 25 or 30 years will be a sufficient warranty.

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I saw a saying:

“I can’t promise I’ll love you for the rest of your life, but I can promise that I’ll love you for the rest of mine.”

My sweet husband, John’s, illness is frightening. There’s no cure. He’s doing well, but his condition could worsen at any time. Sadly, the statistics would indicate that I’ll lose him at some point. It doesn’t help that he’s older then me and a male. (He’s 72 and I’m 68 and he has what is considered a terminal illness.)

The above saying really “hit home.” I’ll love him for the rest of my life. But sadly he can’t promise that he’ll love me for the rest of mine.

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Hurry Scurry

view from our condoHere’s the view which awaits us from our condo.

Today we were hustling around finishing up a slew of appointments. John went to his doctor, stopped by our investment counselor and attorney, went shopping, picked up John’s new glasses, and got a chest x-ray. We were on a strict schedule. Everything fit together, but he did have to schedule blood work and a breathing test for tomorrow.

Additionally tomorrow we have the closing on the farm. (We sold it to a neighbor.)

We’ve set aside Thursday and Friday to pack the truck and mow the lawn again.

It’s all exhausting, but we’ll be able to relax when we get to Florida.

It’s good that we no longer have to worry about our house staying safe. Paying for a “security system” seems like a good peace of mind investment.

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Lost my “calendar”

Last night I clicked on my desktop icon to bring up my “Palm Desktop” program. That’s the place where I record all of our appointments. It opened but it was EMPTY. Instead of the full calendar pages I expected to see, everything was gone. The calendar was totally blank.

I put EVERYTHING we do on our calendar. Our lives are controlled by it. I was shaking and there was this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I thought of what it would take to recreate our schedules. (Doctor appointments, dental appointments, beauty shop, birthdays, etc., it’s all on my computer in that program.)

Since I’ve been faithfully backing up my computer to my new two terrabyte hard drive, there was hope. My fear was that the program wouldn’t accept the back-up data, but with nothing to lose, and my fingers crossed, I went to the back-up hard drive and found the directory where my Palm program was stored. There was a version of the Calendar database which had been created Friday (less than 24 hours previously). I copied from the back-up to my C: drive.

IT WORKED! The back-up saved the day.

The Seagate two terrabyte hard drive…. $206. Restoring our calendar…. PRICELESS!

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Pool People

A week from right now we hope to be somewhere south of London, KY, on our way to Florida. On Saturday, we’ll drive about 500 miles. We’ll have dinner at John’s restaurant of choice, Cracker Barrel. Sunday we’ll go 535 more miles and overnight in Valdosta, GA. On Monday, we’ll complete our trip and hopefully reach our destination shortly after noon. We’ll have driven 1,300 miles from our home in Saginaw. The sun will be shining, and we’ll be anxious to head to the pool. While floating on a “noodle,” we’ll find out what our Florida friends have been doing since we last saw them (in April).
In the pool

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Walmart Marketing in Florida

Somewhere, somehow, someone decided that Halloween stuff should come out as soon as possible after Labor Day is past. And then immediately following Halloween (sometimes even before) Christmas merchandise goes up. (What happened to the old adage of starting the Christmas season with Thanksgiving?)

walmart logoApparently in Walmarts, the pattern of marketing extends uniformly through all the states. You’ll find the same stuff in Florida that’s sold in Michigan at the same time of the year. Yes, Florida residents think in terms of “seasons” just as they do up-north, and when you’re talking about pumpkins and Christmas trees, it makes sense.

But the seasonal merchandising extends to a lot of items which have nothing to do with holidays. Think of the stuff you buy in the summer when you’re heading to the beach. And what about grills for cooking outside, and lawn furniture? Those items are also “seasonal.” Apparently the rules are uniform. Cold weather items are stocked from the fall through the winter. Warm/hot weather stuff in spring and summer.

Here’s the problem: We need those beach items in Florida year-round.

Wouldn’t you think that someone would figure that out?

When folks vacation in Florida, they are often looking for warm weather items? Especially with the additional restrictions on airline baggage, folks will be “traveling light.” With these baggage restrictions, there will be more folks who will expect to purchase what they need when they arrive in Florida.

Several years ago, we arrived in Florida in September, as many snowbirds do. I wanted to buy additional beach towels for guests who were scheduled to arrive during the winter months. Walmart, where I’d generally shop for towels (because theirs are big, thick and fluffy), had absolutely none and I was told I had missed the season for beach towels by about six months. Same was true of “pool noodles” and “beach umbrellas.” But just before we (and all the other snowbirds) left for home in March, they brought out the next season’s supply.

I asked a clerk and she said that it’s always that way. Beach stuff is considered seasonal, and it’s therefore only sold starting in the early spring. Yard items are put away until about April. She said, “Hope you never want to buy any lawn furniture in December. We don’t stock outdoor items during the winter months.” Yet Florida boasts year-round nice weather.

The heaviest influx of snowbirds is in January, February and March. The population of many areas doubles or quadruples. Wouldn’t you think that these prospective buyers would be recognized by Walmart and they’d make it possible for these folks do their shopping at Walmart for a beach towel, a beach bag, or a sun umbrella? Nope.

But if you want a heavy winter coat, the Florida Walmarts carry them in December. I’ve even seen mittens and scarves and I’ll bet you could buy a snow shovel at a Florida Walmart, but no beach items. Go figure!

In our destination community in Florida, there is a Bealls department store. They get it. They cater to the Florida lifestyle and you can always buy shorts, bathing suits, and other beach attire. You’d think that Florida Walmarts would also catch on.

(Note: I should revise this critical report. I checked on February 5th, 2011, and found that Walmart has just re-stocked outdoor grills and they even had a few “pool noodles.” This is the first time they’ve been in stock this early. Maybe they’re learning.)

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Willow, the Wonder Dog

Willow, the Wonder Dog
I think Willow is part Energizer Bunny. She just “keeps on going.”

Back about three years ago, Willow was diagnosed with a major heart problem and started on diuretics and heart meds. We were told we’d be lucky to have her for two years.

On December 22nd, 2009, she had a really bad spell and it was suggested to us that we “let her go.” But with lots of gentle care she rallied and within a few weeks was doing much better. She had another serious problem this Spring when she couldn’t stop coughing, but increasing her meds got her over that hurdle. (We’ve since reduced them back to a lower level because, once she got over her cough, she appeared over-medicated.)

Admittedly I keep fearing that soon we’ll lose her. She’s so fragile and at this point nearly incontinent. It’s difficult. She’s only allowed on vinyl floors unless we’re watching her closely.

Last Spring, when we brought her back from Florida, we didn’t expect her to make it through the summer. Now here it is time for us to return to Florida and she’s still with us. We’ll take her back to Florida again. I know the trip be hard on all of us. She doesn’t walk well but at least she’s small and we can contain her on plastic sheeting so she won’t soil the carpet in the motel. It’s the ride which worries me. She’s uncomfortable so she is more demanding. I’ll keep a water cup and banana chips handy so I can keep her happy, but it’s not easy and it wears on all of us. Three days and 1,300 miles will be tough.

At least we don’t feel she’s suffering. When that happens, we will have to make a hard decision.

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Is it here? Is it there? Who knows?

In my last post I mentioned that I can’t find my large suitcase so I must have left it in Florida. My gray duffle bag is also missing.

We got back from Florida in April. It’s now been six months and we’re re-packing for our return trip. What we left in Florida is now a faint memory.

Six months is just a tad too long to recall what you did with things. I remember some stuff, but usually written lists save me. And photos. Yup, I take photos of the inside of our refrigerator, our pantry and our closets, but I don’t see the suitcase nor the duffle bag, so I’ll just have to assume that, if I can’t find them here, those things are in Florida. I guess I can survive without them, if I’m wrong.

Why can’t I be certain?

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Packing for Florida

I think I left my large suitcase in Florida so I’m using plastic “bins” to pack all my clothes and other items.

We have less than two weeks before we “take off” so I’m packing in ernest.

I’m notorious for my “lists.” I have a detailed packing list which keeps growing.

Yesterday in my first bin, I started packing a bunch of new sweaters and bathing suits (including the ones I bought in May), some dressy stuff, and several pairs of shorts. Today I started with another bin and crammed in more shorts, camisoles, more dressy dresses, and started a heavy gauge clear plastic bag of just sandals/shoes. I am also working on a bin of techie stuff. I need to bring a winter coat (in case it’s cold again in Florida or cold when we drive back in April). John is bringing back his bicycle, and his oxygen generator. I sure hope we can fit it all in.

The stuff I’m packing is all “extra.” I have enough clothes and other items to “get by” even if I don’t bring anything back from Michigan to Florida. This will be the very first year we’ve stayed for six continuous months so leaving winter stuff up north won’t serve much purpose. And despite my previous plan to leave everything in place in Florida and in Michigan and not move clothes back and forth, I’m finding that doesn’t work. Things go out of style too fast and I’m always missing what I left behind. So I’m hauling stuff back that I brought to wear this summer in Michigan.

My packing list has therefore expanded. It also now includes Christmas and Halloween decorations (although this year we’ll be back in Michigan in time for Easter). I think I’ll even toss in extra table service in case we host a large party. No sense doing without when you have it at the other “location.”

It’s a challenge. Half of my yearly life is now spent down south and those six months are the most active. I need ball gowns, bathing suits, and all my cute outfits down there. I really don’t need much here in Michigan.

So I’m packing and packing and packing. The “staging area” in the dining room is a mess. But my closet is nearly empty and I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

John doesn’t prep at all. Of course, I’m the one he blames if WE forget anything, so it’s really on my shoulders to get everything ready to go. Everything from the mail scale to an outdoor thermometer, and all our camera and recording equipment goes with us. We’ll be performing so we’ll need mics. We’ll be there over St. Patty’s day so we’ll need our green garb, and on and on. So much.

Maybe we should bring along our 5th wheel so we’ll have more room to pack stuff in. I can’t imagine how we’ll get it all in our truck.

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Should we “upgrade”?

two-story condo with music room on balconyWe’re tempted to buy a different condo when we get to Florida. Of course, we should look at it before we decide and we’ve only seen photos. But before we bought our current condo, we had looked at what was available and we both felt the perfect condo for us would be a two-story model with a room over-looking the living room which we could use for a music room. The two-story units were totally out of our price-range, when we were looking, but there’s one available now with a decent view that might be affordable. Since we toured many units with that layout, we know what to expect. The balcony has a FULL bathroom instead of the usual 1/2 bath. There’s also a lovely screened balcony room.

The best improvement would be the master bathroom. John hates our current condo’s bath because it’s small. This one would have a master bath with lots of room with two vanities, a garden tub and a large walk in shower. There are also two walk-in closets in the master bedroom area. There’s also a lovely bay window (sitting area) at the end of that bedroom. Our living current living room is probably about the same size. The kitchen in the two-story has a breakfast room (eating area) and twice as many cabinets. There is a room which is currently being used as an office which could be restored to a utility room, or there is room in the garage for a washer/dryer. The dining room is open and spacious. The second bedroom and bathroom nice. The floors are laminate in the kitchen, office, and hallway. There’s tile in the three bathrooms and foyer area. But unfortunately the great room and bedrooms are carpeted.

The negatives: no washer or dryer; and it has wallpaper in the bathrooms and kitchen (which I hate); and a fairly steep stairway which I may not be able to handle. The dining room light fixture would work until we can replace it and the view isn’t quite as spectacular as ours, but there is a pond which is sorta visible especially from the screened balcony off the upper room.

We love our current location but the two-story condo is almost within view of our current court. The two-story is about five years older.

We could swing the price of the new unit, but we know we’d take a hit on the sale of our current place. We’d probably lose about $20,000-$25,000. The place we’re looking at was valued at $300,000 a few years ago (when the economy was strong). Now we could buy it for less than half that price! We feel certain that the values will eventually turn around.

But do we want a 2,200 sq. ft. place? That’s really large! I have a hard enough time keeping our smaller place clean. It would be better when we have house guests because we wouldn’t have to move out all our instruments to make room for company. We’ll see. If we are going to do it, I’d like to decide soon so we can put our current place on the market and hopefully sell it and get settled over the winter.

What about friends and neighbors? We love our current neighbors. It would be difficult to “start over.”

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A new look for sharons-blog.com

I’m trying a new look for my blog. It has a bit more information in the right most column and it’s a little “brighter” with slightly larger text. I’ll give it a chance. I can always “switch back.” This layout also treats the Archive and Categories differently. It gives you the first three lines of a posting which can be expanded. Makes it easy to scroll through a month of posts to find the one you’re looking for, but it omits photos until you go to the complete text.

I’ve also tried a design which lets me use multiple header photos but it squeezed the text into a narrower center column which didn’t work with photos I often include. I’ll keep looking for the perfect design.

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15 days!

Times change. We used to be able to lock our door and leave for Florida without thinking about safety for our Michigan home. Now “security systems” seem like a very good idea. They may be pricy but they’re effective.

We have 15 days before we leave for Florida. Right now the leaves on the trees are a concern. Short of going out and plucking them manually one-by-one, it’s doubtful that we’ll have many on the ground before we head South. Someone said we should shake the trees because John would love get them all raked up but it’s not going to happen.

We have lawn service lined up to do the job, if it’s necessary.

We have lots to do over the next two weeks. Packing will take time, we need to blow out the irrigation lines in our lawn, store the lawn furniture, and fix all the plants so they’ll survive. We will be selling our farm and figuring out investments. It all takes time.

We’re hoping to complete the deal on John’s farm before we leave. It’ll be tough to crowd it all in, but we do our best work when pressured.

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Doctor Oz’s Five Rules to Lose 10 Pounds

1. Don’t consume sweet sodas (aka pop or soft drinks)
2. Don’t eat after 8:00 p.m. (or if you have irregular hours, 3 hours before bedtime)
3. Move 10 minutes a day.
4. Don’t eat snacks bigger than your fist.
5. Weigh yourself and record it daily.

You will lose 10 pounds.

I’ll try it!!

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King Point’s new website

The Kings Point, Sun City Center, FL, community where we have our condo put up a new website today. It’s awesome and shows why we love the area. You can see the site at the Kings Point Sun City Center website.

John and I are sorta looking into “upgrading.” Yes, we love our current condo, but the prices are so extremely low for high-end condos, that we feel we might be wise to invest in something which has all the stuff “completed” which we’ll have to do to make our current condo work for us. We’re looking, but we do like our view. I’ll take something really remarkable to convince us to move. We’ll see.

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Wish more people would list their music related classified ads

After all the problems I had with my websites being hacked, I finally solved the problem by eliminating my classified area on http://dulcimers.biz which provided a portal which was used by the hackers to get into my domain hosting area. I was forced to delete the entire program with all the existing advertisements.

The past month I’ve researched safe classified ad programs and decided to go with Classipress which runs on the same platform, “WordPress,” as this blog. It’s extremely safe and I’m comfortable with WordPress. The area is up and running smoothly. Now I just need to get those who had listed their items for sale to come back and list them again. I’ve tried advising them that the new site is up. Haven’t quite stooped to begging, but I may.

Check out the NEW and ‘improved” dulcimers.biz Classified Ads Area

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An Evening with “Old Folks”

Last night was my 50th class reunion. I looked around the room, I was surrounded by “old folks” and since most all had birthdates within a year of mine, that means I’M THEIR AGE! NO! It can’t be!!!

The evening was fun. We arrived at the reception about 5:45 and socialized until about 7:00 when the doors to the dining room opened.

Everything was “first class.” From the reception muchies to the lovely white table linens on the round tables it was more than we had expected. The food was perfect! After a nice fresh salad (with a selection of dressings), a perfectly cooked filet mignon, PLUS we all got a good size chicken breast, a large baked potato (with butter and/or sour cream), steamed vegetables, roll and butter, and a blueberry topped cheese cake. And at every table there were two bottles of wine (a red and a white). Of course a wonderful coffee was also served.

The entertainment was a comedian/magician who was fun! He had several of us up on the stage with him as he performed his tricks. He did a rope trick with me. I cut the rope and it was “reconnected.” I watched closely and sure couldn’t figure out the trick.

Butch Heath, provided a little dance music and sang a few oldies tunes.

It was a most enjoyable evening. Even John had lots of fun.

I so enjoyed seeing old girlfriends: Sue Lloyd, Sue Miller, Heather LaCroix and others who I’d totally lost touch with were there. It was fun catching up.

Some I didn’t recognize. Sue Miller still has a body to die for!

But I didn’t feel as bad about my own shape as I’d feared. John said I was among the top. Notice, he didn’t say I was the best, but I’ll settle for being one of the best. (Especially in a class of nearly 700!!) Of course love is blind, but I think his vision is pretty good. I noticed he had looked them all over!

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Dinner Disappointment

John and I had carefully planned our 25th anniversary celebration.

I’d researched every restaurant in the area. We really wanted to do more than just go out for a meal, but after calling every place where evening entertainment might be available, we decided we’d settle on a lovely dinner. The two most highly rated restaurants (according to friends and internet reviews) were Jake’s Grill in Old Town Saginaw and Lucky’s Steakhouse in Bay City. We settled on Lucky’s.

Both of us spiffied up. John looked grand. He was dressed in nice dress pants and a comfortable long sleeved shirt, (no-tie). I wore a short black dress with black knit cardigan style top over it.

This was a special night!

We should have been forewarned when the restaurant wouldn’t take a reservation for two on Friday night.

We ran into problems just getting out of our subdivision. The annual garage sale is tomorrow and lots of folks came in tonight to get a jump on the actual sale. We couldn’t get out to the main road. Our streets were blocked with folks parked on both sides of the street and folks coming and going. It was a mess. John is not a patient person, and by the time we got out to M-52, he was angry. (Not a good start.)

We arrived shortly after 6:00 and were told the wait would be about 15 minutes. That didn’t bother us at all. But we felt that we were way over dressed. The other “guests” were in summer casual casual casual… (example: gym short shorts on guys with hairy legs). Very few looked prepared for a nice dinner.

We went to the bar, where loud obnoxious patrons annoyed us. We could hardly hear each other talk.

Within five minutes we were seated in the dining room and our nice server, Stephanie, did what she could to make our evening feel like an “event.” I ordered a filet mignon, Caesar salad and a potato. I’d carefully quizzed her about the restaurant’s definition of medium versus medium rare steaks. She assured me that since I wanted a warm center but definitely pink to red, medium would work for me. But when it came, it was dry and very well-done! Of course waiting for a second filet to be grilled took forever so I filled up on potatoes. John’s prime rib and garlic mashed potatoes were ok but the prime rib was medium well instead of medium.

The dining room was noisy, crowded, and definitely lacked ambiance. Ponderosa Steakhouse, across the street, would have been better, probably quieter, and we’d have felt more satisfied and we’d have spent $20 less.

The filet was good, but much too salty. It was if it had been soaked in soy sauce.

So much for a grand dinner.

We were home by 8:00. That was our 25th Anniversary celebration… very disappointing. Hopefully our fiftieth will be better.

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Anniversary Rose

Anniversary Rose
Tomorrow is our 25th wedding anniversary. In celebration of the event, a lovely bouquet of a dozen red, long-stemmed roses grace the coffee table. They are perfect right now. Wish I could freeze them at this point.

We have no sensational plans for tomorrow. We’ll go out to dinner, then dancing afterward.

Saturday is my 50th class reunion so we’ll be eatting fabulous meals for the next two days. It promises to be fun. I’ve organized a website for the class (at http://mhschemics1960.com and I’ve established an email list to use following this “get together.”

There’s going to be a great turn-out. We had a graduating class of well over 700. But we have about 300 classmates plus their spouses and “dates.”

I had vowed to lose weight and look really great for the “reunion.” I did shed about five pounds, but I didn’t reach the toned state I’d promised myself. I wonder if it’s too late. It’s still 20 hours away. If I start exercising now….

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I’d love to change this blog’s design

All afternoon I’ve been trying to find another “free” blog theme which would work with the stuff I generally post on “Sharon’s Blog.” (Themes are the “design” which organizes the stuff you see.)

I want one that allows me to have nice “photo” at the top of something which impresses me. I want a few links for my true stories (of “Grandma,” “Our Fire,” “My Brain Problem,” and the story about finding my brother, “Family Matters.”) I’m surprised that few blog formats allow for the things I want to post, so I’m stuck with this layout.

I tried to freshen up “Sharon’s Blog” but so far I’m not successful. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up, but after about four hours of “looking,” I’m disappointed.

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Tattoos

tattooedI’m turned off by tattoos. I’ve never seen a tattoo which I’d want on my body permanently. Seems as if there should be a market for more permanent, temporary tattoo. Something which could be removed with a special solvent but would stay put for a period of time. I suppose it’s the “tough” factor that attracts some folks to get ink, but I can’t imagine that, when these folks are 50 years older, they’re going to want the tattoo which they have etched into their body permanently.

I feel that way about piercings too. Of course I have one hole in each ear, but I never felt the need for a hole in my nose, tongue, or any other part of my tender body.

When I got my first and only earring piercing, I was hesitant. It was the 1970’s but I doubt that it’s much different now. You could have the hole punched in at your local drug store or jewelry shop. I didn’t feel that environment was sterile enough, so I went to the most popular piercer in Frankenmuth back in the 1970’s… the local vet.

The vet explained that he had a young daughter who wanted to have her ears pierced but he was concerned about the places women had to go to for this service. He bought one of the piercing tools, and did it in his veternary clinic. It was sterile. He felt better and so did I.

Even if tattoos weren’t permanent, I’d be concerned about the settings where this service is done.

So even though I think of myself as a modern senior citizen, I don’t need to be tattooed to prove it.

The illustration I found when I looked up “tattoos” really bothers me. That little girl is covered with tattoos AND her brow, lip and ears are pierced!

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Signs I’m getting “old”

I watched a cute video a friend posted to her Facebook which pointed out some of the signs you’re getting old. I recognized many of them.

Hairs appearing in weird places: Sprouting out of your chin or above your lip where no hair should grow. Long nose hairs and eyebrows that extended beyond their appropriate borders.

Forgetfulness! The other day I was at Penney’s at Fashion Square Mall. When I was ready to leave, I exited via what I thought was the closest door to my car. When I got out to the parking lot, I realized I was on the East, not the South end of the building. Felt dumb as I walked around the sidewalk to find my car. It was right where I’d parked it, but I swear the door had moved.

Aches and pains! When I twist my body, I swear the cricks and creaks are audible.

I remember my mom talking about her graduating class’s 50th class reunion and being surprised that any of them lasted that long. Now I’m planning for mine in a week!

Hearing is difficult. It has hit John too. “What did you say?” is our most common question.

Pills and medicines in quantity. I’m fortunate, but even I now take over-the-counter ibuprofen and allergy medicines every night. Although I forget most of the time, I’m also supposed to use eye drops for dry-eye and apply some skin cream prescribed by my dermatologist at night.

Extra skin: Even though I haven’t lost any noticeable weight, it’s like my skin is becoming too large. Under my chin, my eyes, my underarms and my belly. It’s all so flabby!

Foods affect me more. If I eat certain things it’s a problem. I love hot and spicy but it’s getting so my system doesn’t enjoy extremely hot any more. And some foods seem to produce more gas than previously.

It takes longer to get ready to go places and the results aren’t as satisfying.

My feet hurt more than previously. I’ve always loved walking but now it wears me out and I can’t seem to find a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

Time flies faster. It was just Memorial Day (just a blink ago) but now it’s nearly Labor Day.

Our future plans have changed. I remember when John and I purchased our place in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan). We actually thought we’d retire up there. Now we want to be closer to people where we can socialize. And in selecting a place to live, we think about how far we are from a quality medical facility.

The Emmys, Oscars and music award shows are filled with acts and material I’ve never heard of. They may be the best, but I’ve never seen nor heard of a lot of the “big names.” I love the fashions, but often don’t recognize the person wearing the gown.

Yup, I exhibit a lot of signs that I’m a “senior” but life is still great and I’m not complaining. Just commenting.

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Celebrating our 25th

John and I love a bargain. (Actually we’re pretty much “cheap skates.”)

Going out for an expensive dinner never happens. We do try to dine out weekly, but our idea of a splurge is happy hour at the Moose Lodge followed by a super walleye fish dinner. Total evening cost about $20.

On September 10th we will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I’ve been trying to find something for us to do which would make the evening memorable.

Since we’ve never gone to the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, that came to mind, especially since they often feature star-studded talent. But looking at the restaurants in the casino, I’m not impressed with what’s available. On our anniversary date the only entertainment is “Uncle Groovy.” No kidding, that’s the headline act. And we definitely aren’t gamblers.

The idea of a dinner cruise on Saginaw Bay or down the Cass River (in Frankenmuth) sounded special, but no dinner cruises are scheduled for that evening!

I went back to reviews of special restaurants. In Saginaw, the highest rated restaurant in the area is called Jake’s Old City Grill. We’ve never been there, but it comes highly recommended, has earned five star rating and is “Best of the Best” in this area.

Lucky’s Steakhouse in Bay City has an even better menu and their prices aren’t exorbitant. We’ve heard they are also very good.

We will be going out the next night for my 50th class reunion so that weekend will be calorie packed.

So it looks like we’ll go to either Lucky’s or Jake’s. Once we get to Florida, I’d like to plan a get-together for our friends. I don’t want to announce that it’s an “anniversary celebration” but it would be a good way to convince John that we should host a gathering. So that’s probably what we’ll do.

For an anniversary gift, we will probably buy something for both of us. We’re thinking of a “yard light” and a “front door light.” (When the sidiing went on the garage the lights were removed and discarded.) Or maybe some furniture for our Florida condo. (True, we’d buy that stuff anyway, but it’ll be a good excuse to get it now.) Probably we’ll wait until we make a big “expenditure” and declare it our “gift to ourselves.” As I started out this post, we’re very frugal. (AKA Cheap!)

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Tasting Wine

George and Judy Horny had a bunch of us over tonight for a “wine tasting.” It was a nice evening. We really enjoy getting together with folks and chatting. It’s too bad that we don’t do more of this when we’re in Michigan. In Florida, it happens all the time.

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Impressed!

The reports from the Midland music festival at the Midland Fairgrounds have been very favorable.

John and I are hosting Bill Robinson and his back-up guy, Greg, so Bill can donate his time to the festival. He filled us in on what’s been happening at the festival grounds and his observations have eased our concerns.

When John’s health forced him to retire, I was quoted as saying that, because we had no way to reach many of the attendees, “I would rather see the festival put on hold for a year (during a transition period), than to present an event which was markedly different than the event which Margaret and John had offered.”

But much to the credit of the volunteers, they have successfully preserved what John, Margaret and Bill Kuhlman had accomplished. It appears that most of the festival kept the format which had been set. People who traveled a great distance, weren’t disappointed.

I have heard that the pricing structure was changed (no more one-day admissions), and the elimination of the friendly sales policy which allowed campers to sell their music items from their campsites was a disappointment to many, but all-in-all the reports have been up-beat.

It pleased us to hear that camping numbers are equal to last year’s high numbers. (When folks come back, it’s a good indication that they had a good time last year.)

It has been a tough time for us, especially John and Margaret. We have loved that event! The time we spent building it can be measured in years/decades. We hated to see it be something other than the unique “hammered dulcimer” festival it had been since 1994! (Especially since it was only one of two in the world!) But from all appearances, the hammered dulcimer still reigns. Too bad the name changed!

PS We’ve been hearing that a presentation of some kind of a plaque was planned for Saturday night to the former committee (Margaret, John and myself). Too bad no one let us know.

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Soon I’ll be “Staging”

In 36 days we take off for Florida. No, it won’t take 36 days to pack, but starting Monday I’ll begin by collecting stuff in a “staging area” which we’ll take with us. I’ve already gathered quite a bit together in the basement, but it’s nearly time to put it where I can easily “add to it.” That’s the only way I can be sure I’ll include everything.

Our friends, Wayne and Linda, are even more “detailed” than we are about packing. They were renting a trailer to haul furniture down to Florida so they chalked out an outline on their garage floor and placed what they wanted to take so they could be sure it would “fit” in the alloted space. Of course they had a lot of “big stuff.” For us, it’s a bunch of small items but we don’t want to forget anything.

Yesterday I noticed that John’s “bike battery” is in the trailer. With our luck, he’d bring the bike, but forget the battery.

We have lots of stuff to do around here before we take off: the trailer needs to be winterized, the grapes picked and squished, the sprinkler lines need to be blown out, lawn furniture stowed.

I have completed all the stuff like being sure the mail forwarding both directions is set up correctly, cable TV and internet are scheduled to turn on, the newspaper in Florida will be delivered. We have our motel reservations. The only thing left is to shut the Saginaw newspaper delivery off.

Ok, I’ll admit I’m “anal.” I love planning. To me it brings the whole adventure closer. There is nothing I dislike more than feeling I’ve forgotten something which I should have remembered, so it’s important for me to do the advanced preparation.

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Chilly or Che-lay ?

As for the pronunciation in English of Chile, if you are talking about the ground beef and bean meal, Chile is definitely Chilly.

But when referring to the country, there are more differences. Most people who don’t speak Spanish say it like chilly, but others who do speak Spanish mostly say something more closely approximating Che-lay. For a long time in the USA, Chile, the nation, was generally pronounced “Chilly,” even by radio announcers.

In checking, it seems even those who speak “the language” don’t agree. If you google the pronciation of Chile (the country), you’ll find that, depending on what language you speak, it’s spoken differently.

For me Chile (meal or country) has always been Chilly. But I’ve recently realized that the country, Chile, has various pronunciations. I’m glad those from the country of Chile are forgiving so even to them, it’s fairly unimportant in the over-all scheme of things. I’ll probably still say “Chilly” regardless of my meaning. But when I’m trying to impress someone who “knows,” I’ll go with Che-lay.

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One thing after another..

Today I finally got the “automatic” process to save all of the changes on my computer to my new 2TB Seagate Black Armor hard drive. It’ll run each day at a scheduled time, so I now have a way to “recover” if I ever lose my computer. I felt like I’d crossed a successful hurdle. Everything should have been perfect. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Then this evening I checked in on http://dulcimers.com and my bluehost domain service had totally shut down all the sites I host because of “viruses/malware.” When I called Bluehost, they informed me I’d been hacked again. It’s been a problem since the end of June, as you can see from my June 30th blog post,

I’d kinda figured there was a problem when I spotted “hAcKEr” as a new user name signed up to get into my http://dulcimers.biz/classifieds area this morning.

I’ve erased that whole classified area of the domain. Evenutally I’ll find a way to re-establish a safer classified sales area, but right now I am just relieved to have everything solved.

Apparently it was so clear to Bluehost that they felt they had to “turn everything off” so none of my dozen or so sites worked. Now everything is back up, and hopefully it’ll continue to work fine but maybe, like before, the hacker will have left behiind scripts which will run each day. I’ll keep watching. Meanwhile, the classifieds area is no more, hence the back-door in has been slammed shut! Let’s hope he didn’t leave behinid anything malicious.

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City shorts, capris, bermudas, crops…

my favorite style of shortsOk, if you’re a guy, turn this next discussion off.

I am currently into “city shorts.”

Ok, what am I talking about?

Those long shorts that come just above the knee, and are fairly fitted (usually with a bit of spandex.). They used to be called bermudas, but today’s are a bit less baggy.

I love white ones. I’d wear them year-round if I could find a sufficient number of them. Too often I order them on ebay only to find they aren’t “tapered” enough or they are a tad too long. As I said, they’re very much like bermudas of old, but much more “stylish.” The spandex makes the difference.

The other day I found some by a designer called Josephine Chaus and when I received them, they were nearly perfect (ok, so they need a little tapering but they were the right stretch and length so 2 out of 3 criteria wasn’t bad). I was happy.

I’ve since bid on two more pair by that designer (black and kahki). I won’t know until next weekend if I won them.

Tonight I bought another white pair by Eric Casuals. They are supposedly $98 shorts. They look great. (See photo.) I’ll know in a few days.

It’s awful to have an obsession.

(And it’s so good that my Grandma Brophey’s “rule” of no white over Labor Day doesn’t apply in Florida. I plan to wear these kinds of shorts all the time!! I don’t mind black, but white is always perfect.)

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Wasting time!

Yesterday John was gone from 8:00-5:00 (taking a class at a sportsman’s club). I had the day to myself. I gloried in the thought that I’d have a full day do some heavy cleaning and get to some other long-postponed chores. My to-do list was lengthy. I was sure I’d accomplish a lot; I’d have lots of time to work uninterrupted.

So what did I get done?…. Not much!

I did complete the initial back-up of my computer to my new Black Armor NAS (network) external hard drive, but that happened pretty much on it’s own. I just looked in on it occasionally. In the meanwhile, I used John’s computer and tried to “speed it up.” I got stuck trying to get his mouse to work. It kept failing despite my settings changes and re-boots. And I couldn’t get on-line, but since I rarely use his computer, I thought it was just slow.

It was now about 10:00. I needed to get started with the heavy cleaning, but first I thought I’d check my email and my facebook with my own computer. That’s when I realized I couldn’t get the internet to start up on it either. I tried to figure out what wasn’t working, and why I was having problems. The phone was operational and since it uses the internet, I assumed that meant that the internet was working. So I checked, and rechecked the network.

About noon, after trying different cables and connections, I called Speednet, my wireless internet provider. The service person explained that “part” of their system was down which explained all my problems. They expected it would be fixed but no idea when. I just had to be “patient.”

It was now after noon.

Ok, so I’d wasted about three or four hours. I still had half my day left. I’d have to hurry but I’d still have time for major accomplishments.

I fixed my lunch, started a load of laundry, and began rearranging and cleaning the upstairs. But almost immediately I was faced with a decision.

John has been using the guest room for a music practice location but with the Robinsons coming Thursday, they’d use that room, so I had to move his instruments out. I started moving them into the computer room but realized that area was going to really seem crowded. Maybe it would be better to move the practice area to the balcony room….? I knew John would prefer the computer room but what if the Robinson’s brought along their guitarist? It stopped me. I needed to ask John. I did get the guest room fairly “emptied out” but it really messed up the rest of the up-stairs.

I sure wasn’t getting through my “to-do list” very fast.

It was now 3:00. I spotted a book I’d started a day or two ago. I figured I would read a chapter and then hurry to get more done. I still had two hours to make a dent in my self-imposed assignments.

At 3:30, John got home. I was still reading. (The class had gotten out early.)

My list was barely touched.

This afternoon John will be finishing up his class. It’s scheduled from 1:00-4:00, but I’m not counting on the full three hours.

I hope to finish the upstairs, and/or I can tackle the hot tub room. Or maybe I’ll find another book.

I’m very good at “wasting time.”

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In 44 days we leave…

Boy, am I anxious to head south!

This past weekend we were with our good friends, the Conklins. A couple weeks ago they purchased a condo about a mile from ours (in Sun City Center, FL). This next Monday they’ll hit the road with a trailer full of furniture so they can “move in” to their new place. All our talk about their plans made me anxious (and a tad envious).

John and I have some commitments we agree we must attend in September (a family dinner, my class reunion, a performance, and a meeting), so we will hang around until October, but I’m counting the days until we can leave. I think John will also be more than ready to take off. By October he should have been able to pick his grapes, and maybe even be able to get the leaves off the lawn. One way or the other, we’ll take off then.

This will be the first time we’ve headed south with the plans to stay six continuous months. Leaving October 2nd means we’ll leave when it’s moderately warm. We’ll be there over Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and both of our birthdays. When we come back in April, it’ll be cool, but hopefully past the snow season.

Packing will require a lot of forethought. I will need to think about things like holiday decorations and clothes for multiple seasons.

Since I’m sure we will follow this schedule next year as well, we may as well transfer stuff to Florida permanently. We do more entertaining and partying in Florida so there are a lot of things we can use for those purposes. It’s silly to get to Florida and not have things which would make life easier. Therefore, as I think of things I try to write them down. My list keeps growing.

When we left Florida last April, I had vowed that I’d be able to get by without hauling many clothes back and forth. My plan was to create a wardrobe for Florida and one for Michigan. I’d leave clothes in each location so there wouldn’t be much to pack. But I’m realizing that isn’t such a good plan. If I have fashionable clothes, I want to wear them, before they’re out of style (or I out-grow them). Therefore I’m bringing back a lot of my Michigan summer attire. I’ll even bring a moderately heavy coat (but no snow boots). Last year we had such a frigid January/February in Florida, that I learned that I need some fairly warm outfits and I wore that coat a few times when it was really brutally cold.

In the past, we’d head south in September but we were back in November. I was able to plan for a shorter increment. If I forgot something, it was only two months before I could get it. Of course, last year we did stay from the end of Decmber until mid-April, but we were already well into Michigan’s winter when we drove down, so it was easier to think in terms of that season.

John’s not a planner. It falls totally on me. I make the lists.

So I check and re-check. Everything we take is “my” responsibility.

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I ordered a different back-up drive

new driveI gave up my attempt to use the Seagate GoFlex Home external back-up drive. After nearly two weeks trying to get it to work, I was told by a Seagate customer service rep that I would have to re-install or change my operating service. I decided that wasn’t do-able, so I’m sending it back.

Today I ordered another 2TB hard drive. It’s called a Seagate Black Armor. I’m hoping it’ll be even better for me. I’ll be able to run a total back-up including all files, programs and the operating system. If my system ever dies, I can insert a cd recovery disk and everything can be restored. It’ll also save on an on-going basis.

I got a good price on it. So I’m starting over. I love techie stuff, but not the frustration that it often causes.

Yesterday I spoke with Bill Robinson. He and his lovely wife, Ann, will stay with us starting next Thursday. They’ll leave Sunday early in the day. Most of the time, they’ll be in Midland at the music festival, but hopefully we’ll get to visit a little. He and Ann are genuinely nice folks.

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Another Change of Plans

Today I changed our motel reservations so we can leave for Florida a week earlier. (The first week of October instead of the second.)

The rest of the day was spent trying to get my new Seagate back-up drive to work as it should. It keeps stalling and not starting up. If delete the program completely and reinstall it, it runs fine until I shut the computer down again.

Finally Seagate suggested that I reinstall Vista. That’s a cop out if I ever heard one. It would be a major problem to reinstall my operating system. Each program I run would also have to be installed.

If I can’t get it to work right, I’ll see if I can send it back. I’m still trying a few of my own fixes.

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Back from Gladwin

We had a very nice weekend with good friends. Not all of our Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club members could attend, but we had a nice group. There were six camping units and a bunch who drove in. We arrived at the Gladwin Fairgrounds Thursday and got back home late this afternoon.

The only complaint was the heat. Although we had rain, it didn’t interfere with us in any way, but the heat and the humidity were horrid.

Every time we played, we received lots of positive comments. Audiences were small, but we always drew in folks who stayed to listen.

We played for our lunch Friday (fried chicken) at “the Brook.” Several of us went to a fish fry Friday night. (Very good and cheap!) And the club provided dinner Saturday night (pizza) and a big waffle breakfast Sunday. I think I gained weight over the weekend.

Much of our free time was spent chatting. We started with a Thursday night marathon conversation. Several other occasions, we chatted for long periods. It was fun to get to know our people better.

They’re a great bunch of good friends. Except for the heat and small audiences, we can’t imagine how it could have been better.

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Humidity

Earlier this week I called Geri, who lives just a condo from us and is one of our Florida friends. During our conversation, she said, “It’s sure hot down here. I’ll bet it’s lovely up there in Michigan.”

And in an email from Sun City Center, Terri said: “It’s terribly hot here right now. I bet the weather in Michigan is perfect.”

They don’t know Michigan. Right now it’s hazy and so humid that our deck furniture is actually dripping and some of the windows were steamy when I got up this morning. The predicted high is 90. And it’ll be so sticky that it’ll make it feel like 100 today. Toward the end of the week, it’ll actually “warm up.”

Yes, Florida is hot but probably the “feels like” temperature is higher here this week. Michigan can be miserable in the summer and this year it has been been excessively hot .. much hotter than normal.

No doubt that “global warming” is reality.

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Perfect Life..

We’re never satisfied.

Life is grand … but (and there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) .. Things could be better.

  • I could be more energetic and could get this house in order and have all my windows clean and shiny.
  • John’s health could be better. It would be wonderful if his lungs could be restored to normal.
  • We could have a greener lawn and fewer bugs and weeds invading our garden.
  • We could see our children (and my grandchildren) more often.
  • My new back-up program/device could be working better (faster).
  • Willow (our sweet dog) could be more comfortable, without the problems of her old-age.
  • Our years of working to build the Midland Dulcimer Festival, could somehow seem valued.
  • The siding could miraculously be installed on our house.
  • We could win the lottery (although our odds aren’t good since we never buy tickets.)

Yes, life would be perfect if only….

But if all of those things were fixed, would we find some new complaints?

Some of those problems (like John’s health) are serious. They are life-altering. But in analyzing even those huge problems, the question simply stated is: “How good is our life?”

We have a great marriage. We are debt free, with two very comfortable and lovely homes plus a place on Lake Michigan. Our vehicles are decent, we have all the toys we need. Our dog is doing better than she should be considering her diagnosis.

The economy may stink but our finances are in order.

Yes, John has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and that’s a frightening diagnosis, but he’s actually doing quite well. He feels pretty good. He’s 72. He’s not a youngster. He still acts like one. He may not be able to do the things that he did 20 years ago, but he’s much healther than most of our friends of similar age.

We have close families and considerate, caring, valued friends.

When it comes right down to it, we are blessed.

No, our life isn’t perfect. It has a freckle or two, but it’s still grand and I wouldn’t want to change places with anyone.

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Disappointed

My wonderful Seagate GoFlex Home back up device is disappointing. It’s been running for two full days and only 42% of my hard drive has been backed up. I tried running it cabled rather than wireless, but I couldn’t tell the difference. Both ways it’s sloooow.

But I’m also concerned about what I see when I look at the stuff that’s been backed up. It doesn’t resemble my hard drive.

And the couple of times I’ve had to shut down my computer, it was really difficult to restart. I worked over an hour yesterday to be able to get my computer to start up again, after I’d shut it down. It caused lots of system errors too. I had to run chkdsk for the second time since installing the back-up system.

I did find one nice feature. I can plug a printer into the device using a usb port, and it works wirelessly. But that’s not enough. I want a smooth seamless back-up system and this one is sluggish, doesn’t work well with my computer system, and the back-up appears unusable.

I wanted to wait until the whole hard drive had backed up before I called and complained, but I’m losing patience.

So here I am frustrated with technology. A common complaint!

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Not worth much

On Monday I set a goal of cleaning out my computer room this week. This afternoon (Friday) I will finish up the job but I wasn’t as thorough as I hoped to be. The clutter isn’t completely gone. I thought I could purge everything and I did toss out a bunch. The garbage was collected this a.m. and there were three huge bags totaling over 100 pounds! But I still have a big box of stuff that I don’t want to toss now. I’m trying to weed through that stuff and hope to eventually eliminate it too, but for now I’m stuck with that one big box.

Some of the items have been posted on the freebie yahoo list (SaginawMi-Freecycle@yahoogroups.com). I was successful getting rid of a midi keyboard that way, but still have a USB four-port hub and a bunch of printer cables (about 13 of them of various configurations), but I’ll keep trying to eliminate more. It’s awful when you can’t even give away your “treasures.”

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Soooooo content with my latest techie gadget

seagate back up driveIf only I’d had it before my computer crash in January 2010. If only I’d had it when I lost everything back in 2008. If only I’d been aware that it existed the other times I had total system failures. Even when my domain was lost, it would have helped.

But it was just released.

I just got my newest techie gadget and it would have saved all those headaches.

It’s a Seagate GoFlex Home two terrabyte storage system. It sits beside my wireless router (upstairs here and in the computer area in Florida). It works WIRELESSLY (using my router). The set-up was a breeze and took under 30 minutes. Right now it’s backing up my laptop’s hard drive and then, whenever I start up my computer, it will automatically run a back-up of any files which have been added or changed.

With two terrabytes of storage, there’s lots of room for storage of all digital photos and videos. I’ll set it up so I can save my digital images. I won’t out-grow it for a long time. I love it!!!

I’m amazed that it’s as compact as it is. Our friend, Paul G., said the only negative he could see was the back-up’s slow speed but since it runs in the back-ground it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to even know it’s running.

I hope I can now I can be “worry-free.” When I have a system crash, or a domain crash (like in March), or a problem with a hacker, I can restore a pure version of the files on my domain or on my computer. I figure that this past year, those kinds of problems cost me at least five to eight 40-hour weeks of restore time. (When I lost everything believe me I was at it 10 hours a day for many days.) Even at minimum wage, I’ll have paid for this $200 device, even if I only use it for standard restores of files I mess up.
ca
I have a feeling it’ll become very popular.

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Less Content today:
24 hours later and I’ve only backed up 14% of my files. At this rate, it’ll take me a week of downloading. I am using an ethernet cable, NOT wireless. It ran over night last night. Hopefully eventually I’ll get the first backup done. From then on, it’ll run in the background and won’t be intrusive.

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Momentum

Now that I’ve started purging the computer room, I’m anxious to get back at it. It sometimes just takes getting started.

After I’ve satisfactorily finished that room, I hope to move to the guest room where I’ll clean out that closet and dressers. Then there’s a cubby hole which has collected junk in the balcony area. I want to rearrange the balcony room. (Give away extra furniture we have crowded in there.) Next the hot tub room needs major attention. My goal is to really rid us of clutter. For now I won’t even think about the clutter in the basement.

My first goal is the computer room. I’m not looking beyond that.

Somehow when you bite off too big of a bite, the overwhelming amount of work, dooms the project. Smaller projects are more easily accomplished. So I’ll only think in terms of one room at a time. When I finish a room, I can feel a sense of satisfaction. This week, it’ll be the computer room. It’s Monday. I will budget my time accordingly. Then the rest of the upstairs. The basement may wait until next spring. Small manageable bites. I don’t want to choke on my goals.

I find myself taking frequent breaks. I can’t see it, but there must be a lot of dust in the air. There’s stuff from the very back of the closet which hasn’t been touched for 24 years. My eyes get itchy and I find it hard to breathe. (Darn those allergies!)

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Mom’s Thoughts

Today I discovered this message (in my mother’s handwriting). I was going through Mom’s files and discarding old papers I don’t need to save.

I know she didn’t originate this poem but it was important enough for her to copy. Therefore it became her thoughts.. her feelings. She died in September, 2008. (I wish I’d found it before she died. I would have included it in her funeral.)

Miss Me But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little, but not too long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,.
Miss me but let me go.

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Gray day

Little rain. It’s ok, we need the moisture! The lawn toward the lake is brown and very dry. (We were gone a couple of weeks so it didn’t get watered.)

I’m definitely in “end of season” mode. I’m looking forward to packing for Florida. Seems like the fun stuff is coming to an end. There is still our “camping” weekend August 12-15 , and a few minor activities, but Florida is definitely sounding good!

Normally we’d have Midland to keep us occupied for a week in late August, but since that’s not an option for us, we have sort of an open spot in our calendar. We’ll have Bill Robinson visiting us that weekend, and Haithco on August 25th, but it still feels like the summer’s winding down yet we’re just moving into August.

Maybe we should plan a week in the U.P. but our calendar makes it hard to full find a week when nothing’s planned.. Besides in late August it can get pretty darned hot, with lots of flies. (The flies up there are vicious!)

John still wants to finish siding the end of the garage. Probably next week when it’s a tad cooler than it has been.

Today I started “purging”. I’ve gone through a plastic bin of my mothers files which were stored in the basement and I’ve started working on the computer room.

Many of the computer disks which clutter my computer room are empty but some contain photos from an old Sony Mavica camera (which used 3.5″ diskettes.) I no longer even have a computer which will play them so they’re almost lost to me. But they cover various topics: cars we sold, places we visited, festivals we were part of, and friends we have lost. I couldn’t just toss those old diskettes without reviewing them. So I became totally absorbed going through the ones containing old pictures. I found one disk of 18 photos which was taken at the Nashville Grange Hall and featured Les Raber. Ahhh!! what memories. I realized I needed to slow down, be careful, and not lose a valued memory I’ll cherish, so I’m going through them slowly, disk by disk. It sure takes time! I can see I need to save many of them. I’ll buy an external drive so I can play save them to another format. Life’s too short to lose archives of memories that were that special.

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Good day

I don’t know what people expect from my blog. You’re basically just “looking in” on my life. Some days are going to be pretty boring. This was one.

Last night we had one of the best Haithco Park performances ever. It was so much fun. I think it was grand because initially we had great news which we shared with our audience. Our friend and Sub-Strings member, Rose Wark, had an MRI yesterday morning prior to her proposed brain surgery. The MRI showed that her brain tumor had shrunk and the surgeon decided to postpone yesterday’s surgery until it can be re-evaluated. Another MRI will be done in a couple of weeks. We were all so happy and we shared that with our audience at the beginning.

All evening was up-beat and filled with kidding and silly stuff. We had toilet seats, “counters” and lots of other things which made the evening special.

Our audience numbered over 200!! The evening was perfect. Weather was grand. Music was perfect. All stars were in alignment.

Now we move to today.

It was a dull day by most markers. But I found it was great. I’d had a “wireless” printer set-up which had worked for a year or two but in April had decided to just stop. Today I got it to work again. Yeah! Now I can use my big old laserjet printer which makes super cheap black and white (crisp) copies. It’s so old that it doesn’t have a way to link up to it through my computers usb port but wirelessly, I can now use it. Also I started purging my computer room. The desktop computer was eliminated. The desk reduced in size by removing an extension we’d put it. My goal is to make it a nice room with less clutter. I have a few weeks to accomplish this (before we have house guests.)

Additionally we had a phone call from John’s 93-year-old aunt, an email from a close Florida friend, and a message from my beloved daughter. All were welcome communications.

So today was a success. We glory in small accomplishments.

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Techie Trouble

For the past week I couldn’t connect to the internet through my wireless system. I monkeyed with it for hours. I could hard wire it (using what is called an ethernet connection), but when I tried to go through the router so it would be wireless, it wouldn’t work.

Finally, after a lengthy phone call with a wireless technician, I learned enough to figure out a “work-around.” I set things up in a different sequence than was recommended. Instead of taking the incoming line to the Vonage device and then to the Router, I had the incoming line go to Router then to Vonage.

This morning I called Vonage and explained the whole problem. A really nice fellow named Tim helped me and explained the Vonage system. Once I understood it better, I felt comfortable “resetting” the Vonage unit which cleared out the conflict. Now it works perfectly using the suggested Vonage set-up.

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Glorious Weather

Yesterday was a lovely day. We had a group of 13 musicians playing at River Place in Frankenmuth. (On Saturday we’d had 16 but it had been hotter.) Sunday’s weather was flawless. The skies blue, the birds soaring overhead. Temperature was about 80 with a breeze. It doesn’t get much better.

The music we played came out good. Hopefully the players and audience enjoyed the day as much as we did!

Nothing could spoil it.

And after the play Linda and Wayne Conklin went out to dinner with us.

All in all it was a super day!

My goal for today: I’m trying to come to grips with the fact that we should change the things we can but we should accept the things we can’t change and move on. It doesn’t pay to worry about the small stuff – generally problems are pretty unimportant in the overall scheme of things anyway. I am content with myself knowing I have almost always done things thinking about the benefit to others. I’m certainly not monetarily rewarded, but I’m content with myself.

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Midland’s Approaching

As I’ve mentioned before, last fall John and Margaret resigned from the chairmanship of the Midland Dulcimer Festival which will be held the last weekend of August. It was immediately renamed the Folk Music Festival and other things were changed. We were disappointed.

We aren’t planning to go.

Today Bill Robinson, one of our favorite musicians, asked if we knew where he could stay during the festival. We offered to let him stay here. I don’t know if he will, but he’s welcome.

We don’t want to be in an uncomfortable position so we’ll stay away from the festival. It’s better.

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– Time until..? (repeated post)

On the right side of this page under the heading Categories, you’ll be able to click on “Time until..?” which will give you a current update to the following “countdowns.” I’ll probably change them as time goes by, but it’s my way of keeping track of how long it is to something I’m looking forward to.


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Wasted Week!

The week after Evart is always a wasted time. I accomplish very little and drag around. This year was even worse than usual. (I think because we are older.) We were pooped Sunday when we left for home, so we brought in what we had to have from the trailer and then we vegged. That was two days ago. I’m still in vegetative state. I just can’t pull together any energy. Lots of stuff is still in the trailer.

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) we’re performing in Frankenmuth at River Place with our club. We’ll do it, but I wish we could have left a dozen additional days vacant after Evart. We need to recover before we pretend we’re back to “normal.”

One thing on the “anticipation side”… We’re getting closer to our time back in Florida (only 79 days) which is slightly over two months! The Conklins have bought a place not far from ours and they’ll be back down there in September. We won’t arrive until October 11th, but we’ll stay until mid-April, once we’re there. I am already packing and preping for our return trip and I’m definitely counting the 79 days.

This week is also stressful because we have had workers at our house for two days. We’re getting a new energy efficient furnace (to replace one which was 24 years old), a new thermostat with wonderful energy features, a humidifier (with sensor), lots of filtration of the air, and efficient water heater. The government will pay us up to $1,500 of our purchase price and Consumers Energy will chip in $200 plus the thermostat will bring us another $20, but it’s still a major expense for the improvement.

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It’s over!

The huge and extremely successful 2010 ODPC (Evart) Funfest (hammered dulcimer festival), is now history.

It was a great festival. We are beyond exhausted. Got home about 5:00 last night. Lots to be done unpacking and cleaning the trailer, but right now we’re just pooped, and it seems over-whelming.

John over-did it but truly appreciated the help of a lot of friends. There was also a “crew” assigned to help us break down and stow away the workshop stuff but it was still a huge amount of work!

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Wednesday, 14th of July

We’re still here at the fairgrounds at Evart enjoying the ODPC Funfest.

This morning we’re at the breakfast. It’s about over. Some folks are still sittin’ around chatting.

Today will be a busy one. We’ll have the cart parade at 6:15. At 7:30 “the reception.”

We need to slip in enough time to greet friends and play a little music.

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Report on Monday

This was written Monday, the 12th, but I didn’t get to post it until the 14th.

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Fifth day at Evart and I’m pooped. Today was a better day. (I didn’t feel well yesterday.) It wasn’t quite as hot and I took time to wash my hair this morning. I felt much more human.

We had lunch with Wayne and Linda. (Wayne’s famous “gumbo.”) It was excellent.

Tomorrow we’re going to host one of John’s famous “breakfasts.” We’ll provide coffee and waffles. Others are bringing eggs, sausage, juice, and hopefully lots of other good stuff.

Last night we had a jam here in the “rest area.” Today we’ve had a nice amount of music and right now three dulcimer players are learning tunes from each other (Peggy Carter, Mary Lou Battley, and Kathy Cook.) We can also hear the Kaiser Family Band practicing. (They’re the final act Saturday night.)

Willow has been getting along ok. She sleeps most of the time and isn’t friendly, but she’s been pretty good about getting to her “papers” where she does her thing. (She has a closed in place under the one bench seat which she uses so it’s out-of-the-way. She’s definitely at the end of her life, but she’s not suffering in anyway. She stays inside where it’s air conditioned. We are able to keep her confined on vinyl to about a five square foot area so she doesn’t get too far from her “essentials” (food, water and papers).

Weather is only in the mid-70’s now, but when the sun is out it’s definitely hot and it’s muggy. We just had a shower come through and there’s another on the horizon.

Last night at 2:00 a.m. we had a heavy storm. It came down so hard that it shattered the skylight over the toilet in the bathroom. (We heard there was hail but it might have been just the rain and wind.) It also filled our awning, and when John tried to lower it, the awning jammed. Duct tape fixed the skylight and everything dried out today.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be about 80.

I am tired. I haven’t been sleeping well, and the rain last night disrupted things. John took a nap this afternoon. I wish I had.

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From the Festival

We made it to the festival yesterday. The festival, the ODPC Funfest, is our largest music event of the year.
John was able to get into the dentist to have the permanent tooth installed at 10:30 (he’d lost most of the temporary cap Wednesday night). We took off a little after noon, stopped for lunch on the way up, and arrived mid-afternoon. It rained hard on the way, but it had stopped by the time we arrived.

Getting our trailer parked just right took longer than it should have, but eventually we got it in place, turned on the power, opened the slide, and kicked on the A/C. It didn’t work correctly – wouldn’t go to high. John took the thermostat apart but it had lots of broken pieces inside it. Wiggling the control just right turned it on low and we left it that way – hanging by wires from the wall – afraid to touch it at all. When it cooled down sufficiently last night we shut the A/C totally off but didn’t touch the one switch at all. This a.m. it worked when we switched it on. (On low, but it was definitely working.)

Fortunately a RV repairman was working in the campground this afternoon and John bought a new thermostat from him and we installed it.
Lots of our friends have now arrived. We’ve chatted a lot but haven’t played much music.

I’m able to connect to the internet once from our canopy. (But when more trailers arrive, the view to the building where the network server is located will be more obscured.) Most of the time I walk toward the office until I find a vacant bench behind it.

It was a lovely day. Mid-80’s and the humidity was down. Guess we can’t ask for more.

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We’re all packed for Evart

John’s tooth is holding us up. He broke a temporary cap last night and right now he’s at the dentist getting the permanent one installed. It was better to do it now than to have him have trouble with it over the next two weeks.

But everything’s packed and he should be back here in about an hour. We’ll take off about noon and be there before 2:00. I’m looking forward to seeing friends, but I don’t look forward to the work. So much fun, but so much work!

I have hinted that I am ready to give up my workshop duties. Fifteen years is long enough. I will continue to be involved (maybe just webmaster) but I think it’s time to back away from the huge responsibility of scheduling the workshops.

Better go double check everything, so I can be truly good to go, when John gets back here.

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Our cellphone

Folks would be surprised that a “techie/geek” like me uses a cellphone which is an antique. The reason: years ago I stumbled on an old Verizon service (which is nearly phased out) which lets me use the cell with a laptop to connect digitally for FREE (unlimited)! In many locations it’s already been shut down, but when we travel, I can usually connect about half the time while in our vehicle. Because I want to continue using that system, I must continue with the same cellphone.

Admittedly it’s not as important as it once was because now the motels where we stay have wi-fi, but it gives me something to do while in route.

So, although my phone will accept text messages, it’s bulky, and there’s no keyboard and texting would be pricy and cumbersome. Do I mind? Would I like to be able to get text messages and have all the bells and whistles on my phone? Actually, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Who would I text? I rarely use my cellphone. It’s never been a big part of my life.

I realize younger folks have grown up with their cell at ear. They can’t survive without constant texting. I don’t know who I’d call or text. Very few of my friends really care about that sort of thing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t lust over an I-Phone for the apps. I would enjoy being able to do it all. But I survive.

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The Siding on our House – Before and after

You can get an idea of what an improvement the siding project is making by seeing these two pictures. The top one is before and the bottom one is after. It’s lovely cedar shake (vinyl). The color of the new stuff blends with the old and it doesn’t stand out that it’s not finished.
The way it looked last year.

The way it looks now.

On the top photo, it looks sort of dark in the center of the wall. That’s where the stain was fading and needed to be redone. This is a forever fix.

You can also see hot the other side of the garage looked before John did that wall: Last summer when the project was started.

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Getting Ready

John’s finished siding the most visible side of the front of the house. He’s done a superior job. We’ve been trying to get the trailer packed while he’s worked on the siding, but a lot has to be done by him.

So tomorrow, with the siding now at a good stopping point, we can work on the trailer.

We have about five days to go before our scheduled departure, but we really don’t have to rush. Our planned “leave date” is Wednesday, but if we are delayed, that’s fine. We can get out of here any time before the 14th. Of course we need to be there early enough to get set up and relax, but no need to feel hurried.

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Still being hacked

I was hacked the first time the evening of June 25th. That night four sites were hit. Every morning since then, a few of my sites have had the Muslim message and arabic chanting. The changes show up here early in the day because I’m sure the offense is happening on the other side of the world.

I have come to the conclusion that my invasion must have been a “time-bomb” type program which was left behind at my website. My reasoning is that I have 13 websites. None have been hacked more than once. I therefore figure the hacker came once and left something that would run through available subdirectories. I’ve put in place all the “protections” but I can only do so much.

I had hoped the nightmare was over since they’d hit all my domains, but this a.m. the message was found on a subdirectory which contained an index html file. That’s a trigger component which can be used on the next tier down.

So now I fear that the hacker will go through all the other subdirectories that have index.html files. Here are all the areas that might be hit:

The first bunch have all been hit (but he could come back.)

1. http://dulcimers.com
2. http://dulcimers.biz
3. http://originaldulcimerplayersclub.org
4. http://sharons-blog.com
5. http://sonasmusic.com
6. http://finniganmusic.com
7. http://deedeetibbits.com
8. http://mhschemics1960.com
9. http://sub-strings.com
10. http://flintbanjoclub.com
11. http://originaldulcimerplayersclub.com
12. http://midlandduulcimerfestival.com
13. http://sharonsdiary.com – a password diary for only me.

Subdirectories with index files:

http://dulcimers.com/audioclips
http://dulcimers.com/Annettesmusic
http://dulcimers.com/dulcimerslist
http://dulcimers.com/buttons
http://dulcimers.com/email
http://dulcimers.com/evart
http://dulcimers.com/fbc
http://dulcimers.com/festival
http://dulcimers.com/Jim_album
http://dulcimers.com/lesraber
http://dulcimers.com/music
http://dulcimers.com/nantucketv
http://dulcimers.com/odpc
http://dulcimers.com/ODPCMembers
http://dulcimers.com/petes09
http://dulcimers.com/photos
http://dulcimers.com/skaryds
http://dulcimers.com/tunes
http://dulcimers.com/workshops

Going down the list to check works great then you hit your back to come back to the list again.

Hopefully folks will help me check out this list and let me know if any are hacked.

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Staging Area

John and I travel often enough to know that it’s easiest to use a “staging area.” The dining room in our house is little used, so I’ve been filling up the table with bedding, toilet tissue, cds, ODPC information, recording equipment, batteries (for the battery operated amps), blankets, sound equipment, software, and lots of items which need to go to our trailer for Evart. I’ve vacuumed and cleaned the trailer, but lots more needs to be done. We will live in our fifth wheel for 12 days.

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Change of plans

We have decided to stay in Michigan until October. We’ll leave for Florida, arriving on the 11th. We will stay straight through until April 11th. (No more extra driving trip back to Michigan in November for a month.)

It’ll save us an extra 2,600 mile trip and the $$$$ that represents. No more driving on winter/snow-covered roads.

This whole back and forth four times has bugged both of us. It’s a relief to have made a decision. I’m sure we’ll have some disappointed club members, but we have to look out for ourselves. It made no sense to drive back to Michigan for a month (mid-November to mid-December) strictly to DONATE our time to play music with friends once or maybe twice. It’s too dangerous on the roads in December!!! (We used to have 7 or 8 performances starting in November, but the economy is so bad hat we’re lucky to play twice during the holidays. It isn’t sensible to drive that far for a benefit concert.)

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What a day! (ankle deep)

John had an idea for a special day today.

We had to do some shopping and then he thought it would be great fun to go to Saint Stanislaus’ polka festival in Bay City. I agreed.

We made a couple stops and then headed to Bay City but as we were driving over, we saw dark clouds forming to the southwest. By the time we’d arrived in Bay City it was pouring. Not gentle raindrops, but buckets. We sat in the car for awhile. When it let up slightly we got out and headed to the huge tent where the event was hosted. Between the parking lot and the tent, the water was ankle deep. By the time got under the cover of the tent, my feet were totally wet.

We sat and listened for awhile, but the kids drove us crazy. They were running around, knocking into us. The rain which had let up, started coming down again harder and harder. We were trapped. There were sheets of water running off the tent and it appeared that the top of the tent was sagging where water had collected. I got really up-tight. I couldn’t relax thinking that the tent could come down at anytime.

When there was a slight break in the rain, we ran for the car. I had taken off my shoes so I was running barefoot, but my slacks got wet about three inches up the leg. It was unbelievable.

We made it back to the car. For me, it was an adventure. John thought of it as a disappointment.

We got back to Saginaw. Did a little more grocery shopping and headed home to a wonderful steak dinner, corn on the cob, oven baked fries with a bit of homemade wine.

The day had been a blast! I loved running through the puddles. I loved being so relaxed and the rain.

No complaints at this end!

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I was HaCkED!

Four of the websites I host on my domain were hacked by a person who called himself Al-GhAmDi. What he posted was a web site for Muslims with Arab singing and guns, etc. (Thank heavens, he just replaced the “index” file, which opens a website, and didn’t replace subdirectories.) It was disappointing to think that I must tolerate the theft of my websites. It’s a form of terrorism. It a challenge. It’s like these people who promote guns and jihad also feel that a 68-year old woman can be a target by stealing her hard work as represented by the websites I create. I have always felt that all religions need to be a “personal” thing, but not when a person steals my website to promote Muslim beliefs complete with guns, etc.

I’m dern MAD!!

Thank heavens folks sent me an email. I had lost control of http://originaldulcimerplayersclub.org,
http://sonasmusic.com, http://finniganmusic.com, and http://deedeetibbits.com. I don’t think it was that way very long. And I was able to quickly restore three of the four. Now all are back working fine, but Dee Dee’s site has lots the most recent update. What a pain!!

I found many similar hacks. Just Google using “Al-GhAmDi hacked.” It’s safe to look at it, but I wouldn’t click on any links.

Surprisingly, as I was looking for other sites hacked by Al-GhAmDi, I found that there are sites that instruct and provide the files. I didn’t bother to look further, but it’s sad.

Note: http://dulcimers.com had been hacked this a.m. Again, it was easy to fix. I am tired of this problem but can’t seem to “plug” the hole. I’ve followed all the instructions Bluehost (my domain provider) has given me. I’ve deleted files, and made sure things are secure. Nothing seems to stop them.

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Getting Close

Our big event of the year is coming up —

On Wednesday, July 7th, we’ll take our trailer and head to Evart, MI, for the world’s largest hammered dulcimer event. We’ll be loaded down with everything imaginable. Since I’m Workshop Chairman, we bring the programs, items for the workshops, chairs for the “hospitality area,” and stuff so John can fix a huge breakfast for anyone who wants to join us one of the mornings. I set up an “office” and a “print shop.” We “live” at the fairgrounds for a week and a half so we bring attire for any weather, two TV sets, food and cooking stuff. It’s like moving. The advantage is that we don’t have to “unpack” when we get home, because our dulcimer club has a camping weekend in August.

The trailer needs to be prepared. It’s filthy with winter grime. I’ll get busy next week and get it ready.

This afternoon I need to take the workshop program to the print shop. It’s a huge job, and with the Fourth of July coming up, they wanted it by Monday, but it was better for us to drop it off today. We’ll pick it up on the 6th of July and head to Evart, on the 7th.

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Too Comfortable

While we’re in Michigan, we are isolated home-bodies. Therefore I find I “dress-down.”

And folks around here don’t “drop in.” Since no one will be seeing me, it seems there’s no reason to put on make-up, fuss with my hair, or dress carefully.

I know I shouldn’t be that way. The person I want to impress more than anyone is John. He sees me at my worst all the time. Sure we go places (and I clean up nicely), but here in Michigan, unless we leave the house, we can go for weeks without anyone else around us.

We’re in a nice neighborhood, but we know no one. I know the neighborhood isn’t going to change. We’ve lived here for 24 years. We’ve tried approaching folks in the past, but we’re just not at the same point in our lives. We have accepted that.

Knowing we won’t be seeing anyone, I tend to get pretty lazy about how I look. So does he.

Because folks drop in all the time when we’re in Florida, I am much fussier about how I dress, about how the house looks. I wouldn’t dream of not putting on make-up (in part because it contains SPF 30 sun screen and I know I’ll be in the sun.) I’m a different person. I love the “drop-in” Florida attitude and the friends we see frequently when we’re at our Kings Point condo. Down there we are all in the same boat. Most folks are back and forth between their southern homes and a place up-north. We compress friendships into a six-month format and they seem to be more intense.

I feel better when I’m in Florida: younger, more attractive, and more energetic. I don’t know how to turn the situation around so I feel better about myself here in Michigan. This isn’t the way I want to be.

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One trip or two? (2,600 miles or 5,200 miles?)

We’re trying to decide what we should do regarding our return trip to Florida.

For the past half dozen years, we’ve gone back and forth between Michigan and Florida multiple times each year. Most years we arrived in Florida in mid-September, but we’ve always returned to Michigan from November until about mid-December so we could lead our club in a lot of Christmas performances around the Saginaw area beginning in mid-November and usually wrapping up the week before Christmas. We also able to attend the Skaryd Christmas dinner.

We genuinely care about our club members and it has seemed important to be in Michigan for them. Two years ago we had about about a half dozen holiday performances for the club and two or three for John and me (by ourselves). Last year we had half that number. At this point we’ve made ONE playing promise in Michigan and the November event has been cancelled. We may have only the one. (Who knows, with the economy?!!)

Until last year, we also made a trip back from Florida in January so we could put on “Snowfest” in Frankenmuth, MI (sometimes only staying a week or two). That’s one event we’ve passed on but prior to giving up that date, we had to make yet another trip back in January!

Last year John was ill so we didn’t make the fall trip to Florida, and instead went down about a week before Christmas and stayed until mid-April.

Currently our plans are to return to Florida, leaving Michigan on September 12th. We’ll come back north (for a month) on November 15th until December 17th. We’ll stay in Florida until mid-April.

We’ve been thinking about changing our plans. Instead of two round trips, we might be wiser to stay in Michigan until early October and then go down to Florida and stay put until mid-April. It would be a cost savings of close to $500 for the extra round trip, not to mention that we’d avoid the risk of being on the highways all those extra miles (especially if we travel in December when the weather can be bad).

Changing our plans requires more than just motel revisions. We will have multiple changes in doctor, dental and beauty shop appointments. And we have already made one performance commitment in Saginaw for our dulcimer club on the 12th of December. The Skaryd family Christmas dinner would definitely be missed. We will need to make a decision soon.

Wish we could be two places.

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A special dress

You celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary and your 50th high school class reunion only once so, if you’re a lady, those events require the right dress. On September 10th, we’ll be celebrating our silver wedding anniversary, and the next night (September 11th) is my 50th class reunion. I’m their webmaster: Midland High School Chemics, class of 1960!

I have been looking for something which would work for me. The class reunion invitation says “casual dress” but I’m not an overly casual person, yet I want something appropriate.

little black dress
I ordered a dress the other day from Bealls, my favorite Florida store. It arrived yesterday and I love it but John commented that I could be pregnant and no one would know.

little black with polka dot areas dressWhen I had placed the order, I’d actually preferred another dress but it was “out-of-stock.” Yesterday, when I checked back, it was available, so I also ordered the dress shown on the right. Both are cute and look like they’ll be comfy.

The second dress is a little flashier. After a “facebook discussion” with girl friend, Gwyn, I decided to splurge on the second one too. When it comes I can make the decision to either keep both or return one. (I know for certain that I’m keeping number one.)

I remember when my mother had her 50th class reunion. I envisioned a bunch of really old people. Definitely none of the ladies would be brazen enough to wear either of the dresses! The one is “above the knee” and the other is even sexier. My friends commented: “You go, Girl!”

Note: The second dress came and the print in the panels wasn’t just little dots. I was disappointed. I can return in when I get back to Florida.

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The Humble Hideaway near Manistique, MI

In the past, I’ve posted photos of our Florida condo and our home in Michigan. I’ve never shown our place in the U.P. of Michigan.

Last week when we were there, I took a few photos:

the interior of our 55 x 12 foot, 1960's house trailer
The “great room” (ha!) of our 55 x 12 foot, 1960’s house trailer.

view from the deck
We do have a view of Lake Michigan. Swans are sure pretty. We have never seen swans there before this year.

That’s our place. Certainly not fancy. It consists of living room, kitchen area, small guest room, bath room (with storage), and a carpeted master bedroom. Across the front it has a 20 x 10 deck. If you’re interested, we’re thinking of selling. We just don’t get to use in often enough and when we do go, it’s too much work for John.

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Just one of those days…

John was discouraged today. He’s been doing his vinyl cedar shake siding project for several weeks. What he’s accomplished looks great. He started in September 2009. The one elevation on the west end of our house was nearly complete. He ended up in the hospital, wasn’t well enough to continue and didn’t get back to it until a few weeks ago.

He’s been working on the front of the garage which looks great. Today he was working on the side of the garage that folks “walk past” to get to our front door. He was making decent strides when he realized that the front of the garage and this side, must tie in together. When he did the front, he’d found the front wasn’t straight. The distance between the ground and the eves slanted so there was more height on the left side. John adjusted, making sure the left side was gradually higher.

What he forgot was that he should have also adjusted the side he’s currently working on so it would “match” the front. Instead he kept the siding level and by the time he got to the eves, the siding didn’t match up with the front. The “corner pieces” wouldn’t work. They needed to snap into place. The claps which hook on the siding wouldn’t work. He’s going to have to rip off much of the side and adjust it as he did on the front.

It was many hours of work that he’ll have to re-do.

About 4:00 p.m. we decided that it was wise to put it aside. We’d to go to town.

Willow needed a re-fill on a prescription. Friday we’d tried to pick up a three-month prescription re-fill (90 pills) but Walmart’s pharmacy didn’t have enough to complete the 90-day supply. They sold us three pills to tide us over, and asked us to come back. We returned today to get the other 87 pills of his three-month supply. The total three month prescription should have cost $10. We had paid $.54 for the three ($.18 a piece) on Friday. We knew that was an over-charge, but we expected that we’d pay $9.46 for the remainder of the three-month supply. Instead we were charged $.18 times 87 pills or $15.66. John complained.

The clerk recognized that there’d been a mistake. No problem. Our charge would be adjusted to the correct price: $10 total. The $6.20 over-charge ended up costing us about an hour of our time. Goof after goof. After about 45 minutes they produced a new charge slip for $10. The clerk realized it still wasn’t right, so she tried again. About a half hour later, I said, “Just charge us the $10 for three-months (forget that we already paid $.54), and we’ll be happy.” It still took another 15 minutes (at least.) In the end, we paid $10 today (plus the $.54 Friday) for the three month prescription. We were over-charged by $.54 but I was glad to get out of the store. It had taken well over an hour!!

We left Walmart and went to the local Moose lodge to enjoy an advertised “all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner.” For some unknown reason, the dinner was cancelled. No spaghetti. We ended up enjoying a happy-hour beer and grilled burger and fries. Spaghetti will happen tomorrow.

Maybe we should just forget today.

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What websites do I “visit” daily .. or even more often?

John says I’m addicted to the internet. I do find it an educational and informational tool.

What sites to I visit frequently, usually at least daily (sometimes more often than that)?

Obviously I return to this site (sharons-blog.com) and http://dulcimers.com, http://dulcimers.biz and my other websites. I am always re-checking content for errors, and making sure everything is up and running. I also check the “guest book” comments and make sure no entries to the “classified” section (on dulcimers.biz) need approval.

I also check in to my two banks (Florida and Michigan) and my credit card account to make sure that everything is reconciled. I keep a running total on a spread sheet on my computer so I always know where we stand financially, and when payments are being made. I stay current on everything every day. I use auto-payments whenever possible and shuffle money so it always earns the highest interest rate.

After finances, I check the weather a lot! Knowing that it’s rainy or hot in Florida, makes me feel more connected with our “other home.” My favorite weather sites are: accuweather.com and wunderground.com. Accuweather is great for forecasts up to 10 days into the future, and wunderground gives you live satellite and radar images with “wundermaps.”

I’m also the moderator of the “harplist” which is the largest email list of harp players. Since all subscriptions to that list must be “approved,” I usually check the website for the harplist to make sure there’s no one waiting to become a member.

For checking on what my “friends” are doing, I head to facebook. (I don’t do twitter).

And frequently I’ll check out items for sale on ebay. Usually I have something I’m “watching.” (Admittedly I’m often bidding on something.)

When I’m bored, there’s always You Tube and if I’m in a game-playing mood I will sometimes go to yahoo’s game area and play “Bookworm”.

I also love staying “current” on what’s happening in our Florida community. Kings’ Point Activites are available on line if you scroll down the page. (The complete Kings Point Newsletter called “The Pointer.”) When we’re in Florida, I’ll frequently check what’s happening at Busch Gardens so we don’t miss a great “show.” And there’s the Sun City Observer, the weekly publication.

I am always watching for “the perfect condo” in Kings Point, our Florida gated-community. The ideal residence for us may be the one we have now, but we know that in order to be completely content with our place, there are several projects which will be costly. We may be better off selling our current unit and buying one which already has tile or laminate on the floor, better windows, and an up-graded kitchen. I check out what’s available at http://www.suncityflorida.net/. That’s the website of Trudy Province, our realtor. It’s fun to look at the videos of the lovely places. (I do a search within “Hillsborough County/Sun City Center.” I limit my search to offerings in a “gated community” which gives me only Kings Point places, and usually look at only those over 1,400 sq. ft. I can also restrict to a certain price range.)

When there’s a news-type crisis, national or local, I will generally google the topic, and try to find information, but those sources vary, depending on the topic.

So that’s what I watch for every day. I love the internet. I’ve been involved with it since the mid-1990’s when it went from a way of linking universities to being a way of staying in touch with friends and learning about the world.

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Points to Ponder..

If an atheist has to go to court, do they make him swear on the Bible?
Why is it illegal to park in a handicapped parking space but its ok to use a handicapped toilet?
How come you play at a recital, but recite at a play?
If a fork were made of gold would it still be considered silverware?
If heat rises, then shouldn’t hell be cold?
Why can’t you get a tan on your palms?
How come popcorn isn’t a vegetable?
Once you’re in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?
If Sunday is the holy day of rest why do we have to get up early for church?
When you snap your fingers, does the sound occur when your middle finger releases from your thumb, or when your middle finger hits the palm of your hand?
Why are you IN a movie, but your ON TV?
If you don’t pay your exorcist, do you get repossessed?
Why is Bra singular and Panties plural?
What are those little things on the end of your shoelaces called? (Answer: They’re called aglets.)
How can someone be dirt poor, and another be filthy rich?
When you put ‘THE’ and ‘IRS’ together, it forms ‘THEIRS’. Coincidence? I think not?
Isn’t it scary that the word “therapist” is the same as the words “the” and “rapist” put together?
Do sheep get static cling when they rub against one another?
Why do people say heads up when you should duck?
Why did Superman wear his briefs on the outside of his tights?
Why do they call it your “bottom”, when it’s really in the middle of your body?
Why do British people never sound British when they sing?
Why is it called a TV set when there is only one?
If it’s zero degrees outside today and it’s supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
If you mated a bull dog and a shitsu, would it be called a bullshit?
Why are they called stairs inside but steps outside?
Why is it that rain drops but snow falls?
Why is the third hand on the watch called second hand?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why is an elevator still called an elevator even when its going down?
Why is an electrical outlet called an outlet when you plug things into it? Shouldn’t it be called an inlet.
If love is blind, how can we believe in love at first sight?

Credit should be given to http://www.goodquotes.com/funnythoughts.htm

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Muggy Michigan

Michigan’s hot summer humidity can be hard to endure and today is one of those “off-the-chart” humid days. Temperature right now is only 77 but the it’s hard to breathe.

It’s supposed to get to nearly 90 this afternoon, which will make it even more unbearable.

I’m trying to tidy up the place. We seem to always be unpacking or packing. Clothes are always going in and out of our place.

In about twenty-five days we’ll head to the huge dulcimer festival in Evart, MI, which means we’ll “move into our fifth-wheel” and live in it for nearly two weeks.

I’ve been working on the Evart (ODPC) workshop program. It’s coming together, but still needs some tweaking.

I have just made the “workshops” available for folks to check out. You too can find them at:

Dulcimer Festival Workshops

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Trying to Catch-Up

Today I have tried hard to catch up on all the things, which piled up while we were in the U.P.

Email crammed my mailbox. (600+ messages.) A lot of those messages were from folks wanting to attend the Evart Funfest. Questions like: Can I be on stage? Can I reserve a campsite? When will the workshop program be available?

I also had to up-date the stuff I’m doing for the Midland High School class of 1960’s 50th Class Reunion, and revise that website.

One thing after another.

Bank accounts to be reconciled.

But finally I feel I’m up-to-speed.

Tomorrow I’d love to enjoy some out-side time.

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Couldn’t post to my blog but I wrote anyway

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We’re here at our place west of Manistique on Lake Michigan.

We arrived about 4:00. Lovely weather… mid-70’s.

A pair of white swans were in the water in front of our place. Lovely!

I should explain that the place is a 1960’s 50 x 12 mobile home. It is sufficient for our needs: two small bedrooms, a kitchen-living room and a bathroom with full sized tub and shower. We added on an extra pole-barn-style roof a few years ago. We had it off-set it in such a way that we could add a large deck toward the water. The raised deck is about 10 x 24 with a fabulous Lake Michigan view.

We hadn’t been here since August, 2008, so we didn’t know what to expect. Surprisingly, the place was in remarkably good condition for having been vacant so long. Dusty and dirty.. yes!

We spent several hours making it habitable, but other than dust and a musty smell, it was fine. Dead flies and lady bugs in the windows, and a few (but not many) mouse droppings. We swept, scrubbed and dusted. It still could stand lots more cleaning but we’ll get by.

A clean mattress pad, clean bedding on the bed and clean dishes make the place feel acceptable.

We forgot a few things (a vacuum cleaner, small electric heater, some folding lawn chairs, the outdoor carpet we use on the deck, dish cloths and some extra cleaning products) but we’ll get by.

The beach is down a path about 150 ft from the deck. The water looks a lot better than it did a couple years ago. Smelly seaweed has washed up at the waters edge, but this year the cattails are fewer and the water looked clear and inviting.

The tall grasses had grown in the pathway we take to the beach. By the time we got back, we were liberally covered with wood ticks. We hate ‘em. They are ugly parasites that seem to be waiting to latch onto you. They don’t immediately burrow under your skin, but they do settle in after a few hours and leave ugly infection if you don’t get them off you. They’re about 1/8 inch around with lots of legs, sort of dark reddish brown.

I wore white long pants so I could spot them easily and sure enough there were dozens on me. I removed my slacks and turned them inside out. One of the wood ticks had managed to work his way up to the highest point of where the legs joined. This was in five minutes or less and while I was wearing them!

We looked each over and found all that we had dozens of the crawly critters.

This is not my idea of a good time.

Tomorrow and for the next couple of days it’s supposed to rainy and cool. Monday it should be fairly nice.

Oh, and to top things off, we have no TV and my internet connection isn’t working. (I didn’t expect that it would.) Oh, well…

Tonight we enjoyed a glass of wine and danced to a country tune playing on the radio. Life could be lots worse, but I wish we were home.

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Saturday, June 5th

We went into town yesterday. Stopped at a couple re-sale shops. I bought a lot of books for later reading and a folding umbrella (which I immediatly put to use because it was pouring outside.) We also got a coffee maker. On our way back, we stopped at the Moose Lodge for an excellent dinner.

It was cold tonight (as was last night) so we headed to bed early.

Today it’s semi-sunny and a little warmer (low 60’s). John’s been trying to mow the grass. It’s a large area. He used his chain saw and cut up a tree which had come down where we often park. The driveway still needs to be cleared but the place looks surprisingly good.

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Monday, June 7th – 9:30 p.m.

We’ve decided that we’ll head home Wednesday. Today it was in the low to mid-60’s, tomorrow it should be a tad warmer. We figure that we will leave Wednesday because there’s a rain front moving in for Wednesday, plus we have an appointment on Thursday.

I’m listening to John play “Take Five” in 5/4 time. It’s not an easy jazzy tune to play on any instrument. John’s playing it on sax.

Sax is not his primary instrument.

Why is he struggling to play “Take Five”? Because it’s a good exercise for his deteriorating lungs. When you have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, you do what you can to help your lungs. John’s efforts include playing the sax

He’s made this place look very nice. He’s mowed, trimmed, and even painted. We called a realtor today about selling this place. I don’t know what we’ll do. It’s not the best time to sell, but we should divest ourselves of some of our property. It’s too much work!

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Wednesday, June 9th – 11:15 a.m.

We’re headed home. Still in the Upper Peninsula. We should make it home by 4:00 or so this afternoon.

The weather during our stay hasn’t been very pleasant. The first day we had temps in the 70’s and that was grand, but since then, we haven’t gotten past the mid-60’s. Nights were in the 40’s (although one night it was near freezing).

Yesterday the sun was out, so I decided to go for a walk. I walked toward the lake, then went parallel to the shoreline in a southerly direction. I was curious about a couple lovely lovely places which have been built within the past five or so years. One is landscaped with a rolling lawn. I decided to cut through their yard, go up their driveway, and then take the road back to our place (so I went in a circle). But when I cut through from the beach area to their yard, I had to go through a fairly tightly packed row of spruce trees. I looked down at my legs and saw I was “covered” with wood ticks. Dozens had hopped on me. It took a while to pick them all off and continue on my way back to our place. Once home, I gave myself a total inspection and discovered another tick. A couple hours later, I was combing my hair and realized I had a couple that had gotten in my hair!

That experience left me feeling “crawly.” I still have the sensation that something is on me. Can’t wait to get home so I can wash my hair and rid myself of the phantom feeling of “bugs.”

No, it hasn’t been a wonderful trip. John loves it in the wilderness, but it’s not my idea of fun. Staying on the deck and looking at the water from a distance was the most pleasant part of the visit. Each time I walked to the beach meant I picked up ticks.

I became a fan of Dr. Laura, who did a talk radio show each morning.

I’ll be glad to get back to civilization where I can check my email.

But during our stay, I did accomplish quite a bit: I was able to type pages 2-11 of the dulcimer festival’s workshop program. I still need to finish up the back and front covers of the program, but that’s easy compared to what I’ve already done.

Last night we went to bed early (about 10:00). A storm with a heavy wind and a lot of rain hit us from about 10:30 until about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. It blew so hard, that it was difficult to “shut out the noise” and sleep. Everything was really wet this morning so it made packing the truck for home a little more difficult.

So we’re headed back to “civilization.” It’ll be nice to be “home.”

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Me at nine months

me at 9 months

My dad did this sketch of me when I was nine months old. I found the original in my baby book.

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Brother Jim, our not so new, but still a remarkable story!

My newly discovered brother, Jim, contacted me yesterday. (Actually he’s not all that new now, because I found him five years ago.)

He finally got himself a new computer so he can get back to emailing me again. I hadn’t heard much from him since January, 2009, when he gave up on his old desktop. Email works great between us. It’s less intrusive than a phone call. (Although I have called him a few times when the space between our contacts went too long.) But now we can get back to email exchanges every few days.

Let me explain, for anyone who is new to Sharon’s Blog, that Jim, my half-brother, was totally unknown to me until I accessed my mother’s medical records. She had alzheimers and I had her power of attorney and spoke for her medically. In 2005, I discovered that my mother had told her physician she had three children: me (the oldest) and my brother Denny (1949), but also she claimed there was another child who was born in 1946. I didn’t know about Jim, but with the help of my aunt, I found Jim. He lives only about 6 to 10 miles from me.

The story is all posted here: Family Matters (“My New” Brother Jim) which is always in the menu to the right on Sharon’s Blog.

I successfully located Jim my totally-unknown-to-me-brother on March 20, 2005, but after the initial contact, it took until February 2006, before Jim got back to me.

During that time, Jim had become totally blind. He was dealing with all that and multiple surgeries to try to save his sight. It didn’t work. He never saw me.

We have a nice relationship. He has been here, he’s come to our concerts, festivals, and even my mother’s family’s annual family reunion. In September, 2008, when Mom died, he was “our” mother’s funeral beside me and my other brother, Denny.

I genuinely adore him and his family.

He has a leader dog, Jake, and he does pretty darned good although his vision is almost totally gone. I’m proud of his independence, as only an older sister would be.

Jim is a sweetheart but I am also glad to have found his lovely family.

Louise, his wife is someone I’d enjoy even if I just met her casually. Ideally I’d like it if she and I could be BFFs, but she’s a busy working woman. She works for the eye practice where both John and I have our optical services done. She’s the kind of person I find myself really attracted to. She’s genuine, bubbly, and warm. What a treasure!

Jim has three children: Emily is his older daughter and works at Dow in Midland. She married Chris a couple of years ago and we were at the wedding. Last year they had, Will, who is the family’s pride and Joy. Will REIGNS but it’s fitting. He’s a beautiful boy-child.

Abbie is a grade school teacher in Georgia. And there’s Eric who has a nice girlfriend. Eric’s a wonderful cook!!

That’s the family I found. What a wonderful discovery.

But this past year I’ve rarely heard from Jim, so it was nice to get a casual “HI BIG SIS” message yesterday. With a new computer, I hope he’ll stay in touch. He always signs his emails… LVLBJ and Jake. (Love, little brother Jim.)

I’m so blessed to have found this wonderful addition to my family. It was a miracle. I couldn’t have picked a better addition(s) to my family. I only wish I’d grown up knowing him.

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Keeping a tan

I’m nicely bronze when we’re in Florida. Not burned, not dried out, just nicely tanned. I love the look and even my dermatologist said we do something right, so I would love to keep that look twelve months a year.

For most of my life, I have lived in Michigan. Pasty white was the color of all skin ten months out of the year. We would tan a little in July and August before the tan started fading and we went back to no-color.

Now that John and I spend our winters in Florida and live in the pool, we are both a lovely, healthy tan at least six months of the year. I use sunscreen to avoid burning, I never lay out in the sun, but instead we stay in the shade and let the reflected sun tan us gently.

But after listening to all the discussions on TV about the dangers to skin of even being just moderately tan, I’ve decided to try using a “self-tanner.” It supposed to be a chemical alternative to the sun but your skin is supposed to look naturally tan without the possibility of sun damage.

Although I haven’t tried it all that long (about 10 days), I can’t see any difference. I don’t look gloriously healthy, and I don’t really like the smell.

I’ll keep trying. I spent my $$$’s to buy this product so I’ll give it a fair trial, but it doesn’t seem to work. I use it every day, often twice a day, on my face. The rest of my body is still nicely tanned from our time in Florida, so it doesn’t need the extra color, but since I have always used a SPF 30 in my daily face make-up regime, my face is totally untanned. The rest of me may look bronzed, but my face is “Michigan white.”

So I’m trying to match face to body. I read the reviews and Jergens seemed to have a reliable, relatively inexpensive product, but it has failed me. My face is still pasty Great Lakes no-color.

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Flexible Travel Plans

We’re undecided. The weather here is grand but next week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it probably won’t break 60 (which is a tad cool).

Tomorrow here, he’s supposed to be over 90!!

Our plans were to leave for the U.P. immediately after the north-bound Memorial Day traffic had died down (which would be Sunday or Monday), but looking ahead, we see the weather in the U.P. isn’t going to be warm or sunny early next week. (Temperatures from Monday on range from a high of 65 to a low of 61. (Little temperature variance but all below average.) So we’re waiting to decide when to head north. There’s no rush. I would be happy to just stay home, but I know that we need to look in on our property (which was supposed to be a long-term investment in our future but we haven’t visited since 2008.

It now looks like Thursday the 3rd would work out ok and we’ll stay up north five days to a week. It won’t be hot, but acceptable. We don’t really need to be home until June 18th when we hold a Sub-Strings practice. We’re very flexible.

We’re

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What?!!

I’m trying to become a Florida resident. We figure at least one of us should be able to vote in the Sunshine state. I want to be prepared with all the paper work completed before we head to Florida in September.

I have been reading up on residency requirements. I will need to file a “Declaration of Domicile.” One would think that means I will declare that we have a home and we/I live there a majority of the time. But here’s what I ran into. Talk about gibberish this is it!! (and if you don’t believe I quoted it exactly, you can check here and scoll to item 4 which is what is quoted below: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0222/SEC17.HTM&Title=-%3E2000-%3ECh0222-%3ESection%2017

Section 222.17 Manifesting and evidencing domicile in Florida.-

(4) Any person who shall have been or who shall be domiciled in a state other than the State of Florida, and who has or who may have a place of abode within the State of Florida, or who has or may do or perform other acts within the State of Florida, which independently of the actual intention of such person respecting his or her domicile might be taken to indicate that such person is or may intend to be or become domiciled in the State of Florida, and if such person desires to maintain or continue his or her domicile in such state other than the State of Florida, the person may manifest and evidence his or her permanent domicile and intention to permanently maintain and continue his or her domicile in such state other than the State of Florida, by filing in the office of the clerk of the circuit court in any county in the State of Florida in which the person may have a place of abode or in which the person may have done or performed such acts which independently may indicate that he or she is or may intend to be or become domiciled in the State of Florida, a sworn statement that the person’s domicile is in such state other than the State of Florida, as the case may be, naming such state where he or she is domiciled and stating that he or she intends to permanently continue and maintain his or her domicile in such other state so named in said sworn statement. Such sworn statement shall also contain a declaration that the person making the same is at the time of the making of such statement a bona fide resident of such state other than the State of Florida, and shall set forth therein his or her place of abode within the State of Florida, if any. Such sworn statement may contain such other and further facts with reference to any acts done or performed by such person which such person desires or intends not to be construed as evidencing any intention to establish his or her domicile within the State of Florida.

What does that say????? I can’t believe the double-talk! Maybe our attorney can figure it out tomorrow.

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Sax Cure? (notice that in the first word it was an “a” not an “e”)

John had a CT scan and went to his pulmonologist Monday. She ran a breathing test which showed he’s improved considerably. The other great thing, the breathing test showed that a portion of his lung damage is still “reversible.”

He had a couple of new meds including a Symbicort inhaler and allergy meds added to what he was taking.

But we are wondering, how much of John’s improvement is a result of the medicines he’s been on and how much is because he’s learned to use his diaphragm to help him breath. His friend, George, was a music teacher, and he gave John a saxaphone and some basic instructions which included implementation of his diaphragm. When John used those techniques Monday, his scores soared.

He’s breathing better, but it may be because of the “sax cure.” When he mentioned that to the doctor’s assistant, she misheard and thought he’d said “sex.”

That might also work, but for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a saxaphone appears to help.

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Sad state of affairs

As you who follow this blog know, I include a lot about our trips to Florida, our trips to the U.P. and everything else we do.

I’ve been warned that I may be putting our residence(s) at risk by saying when we’re going to be gone. I guess that’s true, but I’d hate to think that I have to be secretive about what we’re doing. Heck, folks have always known the events we attend. We’re pretty visible. When we go to the dulcimer festival, yup, our house is empty.

What folks don’t know is that our neighbors are very conscious of our comings and goings. We have neighbors both in Florida and Michigan. They watch our places for us. And I think I’m going to look into a security company. it might be worth it for peace of mind.

I’d hate to have to avoid references to our locations. I love writing about geckos in Florida, and sitting by our lake in Michigan. I love to chronicle our trips up and down I-75. Yes, that tells readers where we are, but I don’t want to stop.

I think I’ll go call a security company. Sad, isn’t it?

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Wow Weather

It’s 73 degrees and breezy right now (10:00 a.m.). Predictions are for the high 80’s which is a tad hot for May in Michigan, but I’m NOT going to complain.

Yesterday John and I bought over-sized gravity lounge chairs to put on our deck so we can stretch out. I had purchased some huge plush beach towels which I have use to throw over the chairs so they are extra comfy.

I love the outdoors in Florida, especially under an umbrella seated near the pool. Why not here near our lake? I need to give it a chance. Of course there is a big difference. In Florida we go to the pool and enjoy the interaction with other folks. Here we’re isolated, but with a book and the wonderful weather, it should be lovely.

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Where’d my butt go?

It has warmed up here in Michigan and I’ve been dressing for the warmer weather with shorts and yesterday a swim suit.

Yesterday I noticed I’ve lost my butt. My weight hasn’t gone down, but I’m flat on the backside.

It’s no mystery. I found out where it’s gone. It’s pushed from back to front. I now have a belly in place of the butt.

Is this what happens to all 68 year old ladies? I could buy a pair of those “padded” panties but in a bathing suit the butt pads might absorb more water and having a butt one time and not another might not give the right impression … Naw!!!

Oh, well, as long as I suck it in (the belly) and stand facing folks, maybe no one will notice.

And my arms… they’re changing too. It’s like the skin is getting looser.

Old age definitely has some disadvantages but I am actually happier at 68 than I was 30 years ago. Guess I have to take the good with the bad.

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Domain Disaster

Yesterday I tried to access my website, dulcimers.com, but I couldn’t. A call to Bluehost, my hosting company, confirmed that their server was having problems. When it didn’t come back up, I was informed that everything had been deleted from all of my sites. Bluehost worked to get everything running from back-ups and soon I saw that it was restored, but on further examination, I found everything was out-of-date by about a week.

I try to update my websites frequently. Any work I’d done over the past week or so had reverted to the older version. Thankfully I always try to save copies on my computer (and do back-ups of those files). It took a couple of hours, to update the affected sites: dulcimers.com, originaldulcimerplayersclub.org, sharons-blog, flintbanjo.com, and dulcimers.biz. I had to resort to restores from my trash can in a couple of instances but it appears everything is now working.

I did lose my email. Only mail since December, 2010, was included in the restored data. I generally save incoming mail on my computer, but sent mail is more difficult because of problems with the provider of my internet services.

Friday Update:
I discovered that the back-up which Bluehost loaded was older than I’d thought. Some parts of my website were restored to the middle of March!!! I have been working to get everything current. I hope anyone who discovers missing photos or out-of-date information, will let me know. It’s been a nightmare!

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Confessions of an “eBay Addict”

Earlier this week I wrote about my purchases on eBay. I gave lots of shopping hints. After I wrote that post, I started thinking about the great stuff that’s available on eBay and yesterday I went shopping.

I don’t do it often, but I’ve really let my eBay “addiction” take over. I took advantage of some fantastic deals and I’m sure I’ll be really happy with them.
Chico
The first purchase yesterday was a top with crochet accents (on the left). It was described as “CHICO’S green print w/ crocheted trim TOP.” Chico’s are pricy high-end items ranging in price from $70-$100. I spent $9.99 plus shipping. $4.08 in shipping. This is the one item I probably wouldn’t bid on, if I had it to do again. It is cute, but I could do without it.
Too Sexy Top
The second item was a tank top with a built in bra. (I haven’t included a photo because it’s pretty bland.) I’d been looking for an item like this for quite a while. I actually bid on this one early in the day and went with a bid that I hoped would win. The auction wasn’t up until evening. I had forgotten that I’d bid, and when I won it, I was pleasantly surprised. I got it for the minimum bid. This “tank top” or “cami” is a Carol Wior. I am sure I’ll love it and I got it for a bargain price of $9.99 with shipping of $5.00. I love camis with built in bras, that this one looks like it’ll be great. I have generally paid about $30 for one with a true bra built in (but not of this quality). Many times they are listed for more than $50.

The next item a little skimpy crocheted top (shown above at the right). It’s unique and all open work with the exception of the bra area, where it’s lined. Really a cute vintage item. I was looking at various items, and stumbled across this one. I got it for $4.25 but paid $5.95 for shipping. It was a bargain. Hope it fits. Sometimes these vintage items are hard to gauge and until I see it, I won’t know what will work “under it.”

carnation vintage top
The next item (shown on the left) was my big splurge but I’m sure it’s the one I’ll be happiest with long-term. It’s new but vintage (meaning it was stored away by a store or manufacturer for years.) It’s by a top crochet designer, “Lim.” Those items are always unique and high quality. The top’s design is called “Carnation” and it’s obvious why. There are lovely dimensional carnations. It’s truly a work of art. I did go over-board and spent $42.99 and the shipping was $4.95. The top is one of those that, had I lost out, always been remorseful. I’m glad I got it. This is a wonderful addition to my wardrobe.

Cute Suit!
The last item was one I bought late last night. It’s a bathing suit by Carol Wior and it’s cute cute cute, and “new with tags.” I started bidding when it was going for something like $14. I wanted it so I’d have another swim suit here in Michigan. I ended up paying $26.55 plus $3.48 shipping. Carol Wior makes the highest quality swimwear I’ve found. These suits sell on QVC for as much as $115 plus shipping, so I shopped wisely.

My items came to a total of $93.77 plus $23.46 in shipping. Did I get bargains? Yes!! Could I have spent that much just on one of the items? Yes!!

But now I’m having “buyers remorse.” I don’t usually go that over-board. My excuse, I wasn’t feeling well so I spent my time looking. I stumbled across those items and the rest is history. Actually I computed a rough total for what I’d have spent if I’d purchased these items the conventional way and I estimate at least $400 value. John doesn’t know I’ve purchased all these items. I’ll gradually let him know. He would never complain, and he feels I’m a great shopper.

I do have one pending auction. I bid on two pair of new-in-the-box SAS sandals with about 2″ heels. One pair is white, the other wine. My top bid is $15.99 (shipping will be $8). The two pair of sandals had a “Buy it Now” price of $60. The bidding stands at $10.01. The auction is up at 11:00 tonight. Since I bought so many items yesterday, I really would just as soon lose this one, but it is a great bargain. I will not raise my bid, no matter what happens.

The shoes I mentioned in my post earlier this week arrived today. They will be perfect, once I break them in. Glad I bought them because the ones they are replacing are shot, but I hope John isn’t keeping score.

Will I go on a shopping spree again soon? No, it’ll be months before I’ll feel I can even venture into eBay. I went over-board yesterday!

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Notes:


May 19, 2010

I fessed up to John. He knows what I spent. His attitude: “Hope you will enjoy everything.” He’s pleased.

Thank goodness for a great guy!



May 16, 2010

Everything except the swim suit has arrived. I love every item. There isn’t anything I wish I hadn’t bid on. Every purchase was better than I had imagined. The little crocheted top I refer to as “skimpy” was extra cute. The “carnation” top fabulous. The Chico’s top nice. The cami with built in bra is what I’d been looking for at three times the price I paid.

Love eBay!!

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May 29, 2010

Got the bathing suit. It is WOW!! It’s the best I have. Carol Wior swim suits are better constructed than any others I’ve seen. They’re all fully lined, with extra layers in all the right places. They feel more secure and better built. They squish you in where you want to be squished and let you blossom where it’s nice to look more expansive.

So glad I bought it. For $26.55 plus $3.48 shipping, it’s a wonderful buy. If I went to a store, there’s no way I’d expect being able to buy suit like this for under $30! (Actually I wouldn’t expect a suit like this in a store for under $100 (probably more.) It’s better than I’ve ever witnessed anywhere else.

I am so pleased with my recent eBay purchases. I may have spent close to $100, but I would defy anyone to go to stores and buy items like that for less than three times what I spent… probably more, if they could be found. It’s great fun to know you are wearing true bargains.

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Hints for Shopping on eBay

Friends can’t believe that I buy most of my clothes on eBay. The trick is to buy “new” and stick with brands you have purchased before so you know how they fit.

I’m comfortable buying most anything on eBay. For instance I buy all my swim suits on eBay but usually I buy only the brand names I know because suits within a brand usually fit the same way. I love the Carol Wior swimsuits. They are fully lined and keep their elasticity after lots of time in the pool. I know what style suits me best, so buying a swim suit on line is definitely possible. Gottex styles also appeal to me, but they aren’t fully lined and sometimes they run smaller. I have several Miraclesuits, but find they eventually lose elasticity.

Things to watch for when shopping on eBay

I would recommend that before you bid on shorts or slacks, you do your homework. I suggest you spend some time shopping in stores and write down how different brands fit you. Shop for those same brands and styles on eBay. Restrict yourself to only those you’ve tried on. You will probably be able to get them for less than half price (sometimes as little is $.99) so it’s worth a little extra effort. (Create “searches” so you are notified when someone lists your favorites in your size.)

But the other method of finding a good fit for shorts or slacks is to measure a pair which you currently own to know exactly what size fits you best. Then request the exact measurements of the item for sale. Often the eBay listing won’t include this information, but ask the seller to lay the item flat and measure hip, waist, and the rise. (Rise is especially important and often forgotten.) Take into consideration the fabric. If the slacks you measure have stretch and you love them, don’t think a similarly measured pair with no stretch will work.

Do not shop by size unless you know how the brand fits you and even then, ask for measurements. I have made the mistake twice of going with a name brand in “my size” but not checking the measurements. In these two cases I was disappointed, the brand was one I had purchased but it was mis-marked. I should have asked measurements and I would have realized they weren’t true to size. Note: Often the seller has been able to buy the item cheaply because the size is wrong. Using measurements, you will find that the measurements will vary as much as three sizes.

And don’t be turned off because you need a larger size. I’m looking at a cute top on eBay which is a “large.” I usually wear medium, but this one says, “It is a size Large which fits a 36″ bust size. Fabric is stretchy, so it can easily fit a size up or down.” I would bet I’d need a “large.” Measurements are the key.

I said, “buy new,” but there are exceptions. I have purchased lots of crocheted tops that were pre-owned. If the item is clean and in good condition, it is often a good way to go. I wouldn’t recommend buying used knitted items but crocheted items of rayon or cotton seem to look like new longer. Many of the items which are listed as crocheted are actually knitted or even worse, they are created of fabric to look like crocheting. (Crocheting is an art form using a hook and yarn or thread. It can not be done by machine while knitting can be machine made.)

EBay is especially good for matching items that you love in your wardrobe. Example: I had purchased some capris on sale at Kohl’s which I loved. Unfortunately the next season that style was replaced by other styles I didn’t like as well. So I went on eBay and shopped by brand. It was easy to spot the style which I liked. I was able to buy them in several different colors. I knew how they’d fit. Right now I’m hoping to find some Koret capris which I already have but I’d like to duplicate in other colors.

Shoes are often great buys on eBay. Buy new. Shoes are pretty standardized in size. Generally a size 7N is a 7N. I have just purchased pair of shoes to replace some which I’ve worn out. They have served me well. I spotted some very similar (same brand) on eBay so I bought them. They haven’t arrived yet but I’m sure I’ll be happy.

With sandals, I have shopped by brand and style. Since I have very narrow feet, I usually try to buy only those with heel straps.

What wouldn’t I buy on eBay? I wouldn’t recommend flash drives from Hong Kong or any other foreign country. If you find a 128 GB flash drive at an unbelievable price, resist the urge to order it. It’ll come packaged to look like it’s a name-brand, but it probably won’t work.

Recently I bought some nice sized fresh-water pearl earrings for $.99 from China. I figured I wouldn’t be out much if they weren’t nice, but they are very attractive! Just make sure you buy from a seller with decent feedback. There is one pearl seller with nearly 5,000 sales in 12 months and only ONE dissatisfied customer. A string of freshwater pearls for under $10 is a bargain.

Be sure you watch shipping costs. If you get a great price, but pay high shipping, it’s no bargain.

Electronics can also be found at remarkable prices, but before you buy on eBay, google that same product and see how much it will cost and make sure it’s just what you want. Once you know what you want, often you’ll find an online price that is lower than on eBay. (I just found a battery for my new video camera at an unbelievable price. They were also available on eBay, but more expensive.)

I suggest that you create saved searches on eBay and check them every day. Don’t expect to find the perfect item immediately.

eBay is extremely safe. (I got a full refund for the flash drive which I bought from Hong Kong.) Always use Paypal. It’ll make refunds much easier.

I have also looked at items on http://www.shopgoodwill.com/default.asp. (Haven’t purchased from them but especially used musical instruments appear to be good deals. Again, check shipping costs – they seem high on this site.

I have purchased many items which have been great deals on eBay. I purchased a service for 12 lovely Pfaltzcraft stainless 18/8 for about $50. Hand made Christmas placemats and table runner for about $15. I’ve purchased lovely handmade afghans, cellphones, cellphone batteries, my favorite perfume, bras. musical instruments, instrument tuners, glassware. I’m always looking for a bargain.

Have I been burned by a bad seller or a bum deal? Once I bought an HP printer which ended up not being what was described. I got my money back. Same is true of a cellphone which was advertised as new but had been set up with someone else’s passwords. EBay has gotten better about refunds. A month or two ago, I bought a flash drive which didn’t work and had my money back the same day I complained.

I have actually thought about running “classes” in Florida for folks who want to understand how to shop successfully on eBay. Might be a good idea, but then I’d be competing with these folks for the “hot items.”

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I did it again!!

Why why why do I continue to embarrass myself when dealing with the most legendary dulcimer player ever, Paul Van Arsdale?

In 2008, I got a call from a sweet older gentleman who said he was interested in attending our Evart Funfest. He didn’t identify himself and of course I had no idea who I was speaking with. We talked at length and I gave him the whole sales pitch about how he should attend and how there’d be lots of workshops that he could take. He could take a dobro or even a harmonica class.

“I already play the dulcimer,” he said softly. “I’m Paul Van Arsdale.”

I was speechless. I stumbled and stammered. I said, I’d do anything I could to help with his visit. Eventually, with the help of Bill Robinson, his good friend, we got his trip all straightened out and everything went smoothly. He loved his visit, and we adored him!!

Now, here it is 2010. Back about January, Bill Robinson contacted me and said that Paul wanted to return to our event. I assured Bill that I’d get Paul a room, and plans proceeded.

This a.m. I received a message that read:

“hi sharon, the days are quickly passing by to the evart festival. If you
have a confirmation number for the room for paul & myself if possible i
would like to have it. Just a reminder we will be arriving on wednesday
but we are departing saturday morning. thank you, bill….”

Because all of my dealings have been with Bill Robinson, I assumed the “Bill” who’d written the message was Bill Robinson. It wasn’t. It was Bill Van Arsdale. (I didn’t notice his email address which was wvanarsdale@… )

I replied back. I knew the motel was holding two separate rooms so I suggested that he (meaning Bill Robinson) should contact the motel and get things straightened out.

After I’d sent the message it hit me!

Paul Van Arsdale’s son is also Bill. He’d accompanied Paul in 2008. The message I’d replied to had gone to Bill Van Arsdale NOT Bill Robinson as I’d thought.

Dah!

I immediately wrote a second message to Bill Van Arsdale and said, “Disregard the earlier message. I thought I was writing to Bill Robinson.”

I feel so dumb!!

I hadn’t noticed the email address. I had just assumed the message was from Bill Robinson. (Why didn’t he refer to Paul as “Dad” or sign his message Bill Van Arsdale?) I should have known because Bill Robinson never does email.

I’m feeling so incredibly stupid!!

The second message explained that the room is all set and gave the details, but that first message will totally confuse Bill Van Arsdale. (I’ll call him tonight.)

Just too many Bills.

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Bill Robinson called me today and I told him what I’d done yesterday (above). He’s still laughing.

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Games people play

I’m an ancient “gamer.” I love word games and some number games. I was a Sudoku player before it became fashionable. I used to subscribe to word puzzle magazines and there were always one or two of those Sudoku-like games, but they had an extra challenge. As with Sudoku, you had to arrange 1-9 to fit in the nine horizontal rows, nine vertical columns, the nine small squares, but with those magazine puzzles, you also had to fit in two 1-9 diagonals.

In the 1980’s I had a little battery operated hand-held game which I played non-stop but I don’t know where it is. I’m not even sure how it worked, but I remember you had to guess the order of the numbers. As you guessed, your guesses added up. The object was to figure out the number, in the fewest possible guesses. When I had my brain tumor removed, that was the first thing I tried. It was my way of proving to myself that I was still as “sharp” as prior to the surgery.

I went through a period of time when I did “logic” puzzles. They really require concentration, and no-interruptions. I find them more frustrating that comforting.

I’ve never liked the word seek puzzles. They are just a matter of locating words that are “hidden” among other letters. They don’t hold my attention.

I find myself drawn to Bookworm (on Yahoo games), and games that came with my computer: Hearts, Solitaire, Freecell and Minesweeper. I’ve improved at Minesweeper but I’m only an average player with the other games. Freecell continues to challenge me.

I suppose, like reading, game playing can be considered a tremendous waste of time, but I’ve heard that stimulation of this type keeps away alzheimers.

Now I’m wondering where my little hand-held game is. Last time I saw it, it was in storage area, but I should pull it out and see if it still mesmerizes me.

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More rainy, cool weather

I talk about the weather a lot but it seems to control my life. I want to get outside and take in some fresh air but it’s been a really cold spring.

My favorite pass time is to take a book and read it outside. In Florida that means sitting under an umbrella near the pool, where we can see friends, and get in and out of the water to control our body temp. This spring in Michigan, the weather hasn’t been cooperating. Today it’s raining and in the mid 40’s. (We might get two inches of precipitation.)

So what can I do inside that will give me a feeling of accomplishment?

How about my promise to clean a room a day? Well…. I’m bad, really bad. I need to get disciplined. I should start with the guest area. It’s a mess. (We stored lots of stuff there when our new floors were being installed.)

But will I do it? It’s not fun. I am not really interested. Somehow housecleaning “accomplishments” don’t do it for me.

Maid. I need a maid! I need a housecleaning service.

I admire folks who have shiny houses and I’ve seen folks who love to clean, but that’s not me. And it doesn’t rub off on me. I want to be better, but I’m too old to re-train.

I’ll try.

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Unimportant observations

Shoeless

Today is Mother’s Day and John is going to take me out for dinner. It’s about 50 degrees. I’ll just wear a pair of slacks and a cute top. On my feet I’ll have sandals. Yup, despite the temperature I wear sandals.

Most of the time I’m barefoot when I’m in the house. It’s always been that way (winter or summer). Now that we’re in Florida during the winter months, I am barefoot even more. And when I wear shoes, they are almost always sandals. In fact, I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I wear regular shoes in a year. (Of course, at fancy dress-up ball or when we perform dressed-up I’ll reluctantly wear shoes.)

I have a good excuse. Our doctor friend, Dr. Doug, recommended a couple years ago that I wear sandals whenever possible to help my broken toe heal. The toe is now fine, but sandals have become my primary foot attire.

So today I’ll wear cute sandals. Glad it’s not snowing.

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Shiny floors

I love our Brazilian cherry floors. We have noticed that they show the dust more than carpeting did. Especially with a white haired dog, it’s tough to keep the floors dust/hair free. We bought a little rechargeable carpet sweeper. No suction, just brushes that pick it up. It’s a handy little gaget.

For keeping it shiny, I use a damp terry cloth towel and buff it when I see a spot.

And speaking of shiny floors, I love my Swiffer Wetjet for the vinyl floors in the kitchen and bathrooms both here and in Florida. I wouldn’t use the Wetjet on wood (unless maybe with the new woodcare liquid jet fluid), but a Wetjet is sure is better than an old mop (and it smells nicer).

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I have been putting off the start of the “scheduling of the workshops” for our big fesitval. I’m just not in the “concentrate hard” mood. I am kind of in a funky don’t-care wanna-be-lazy mood.

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Cleaning Out

I’ve decided to get rid of my old computer which is in the “computer room.” I haven’t turned it on for about a year so it’s time to re-gain the space. I need to purge everything that’s on it. I sure don’t want to leave anything on it that could be recovered by someone else. Once it’s been reformatted, I’ll put up a “free for pick-up” Craigs List ad. I’ll even give it away with a print stand (which could be used as a small computer desk.)

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Trillium Time

When I think of our place in the Upper Peninsula, I think in terms of what flowers are blooming. Right now the trilliums would be in bloom and the tiny dwarf lake iris. They’re beautiful, but it would also be black fly and wood-tick season.

We’ll wait about three weeks to go up. We’ll probably still hit the bugs, but they shouldn’t be as bad as right now.

In late summer (July-August), we enjoy wild raspberries and beautiful showy lady’s slippers. These are protected, delicate, rare, wild orchids.

Come to think of it, it would be wiser to wait until July. But since we didn’t make it up there in 2009, we are anxious to get up there and see if the place in intact.

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One of those days

Today in Michigan is “one of those days.” It’s too cold to dream of spending time outdoors and there’s a chill that seems to seep in. I’d like to build a big fire in the fireplace and feel cozy, but it’s really too windy and damp to build a fire. (The draft in the fireplace wouldn’t work well.) And since it’s rained for a couple days, the wood, which is outside, would be wet.

It’s “one of those days” which I dread when we leave Florida. I know there’ll be a few like this and they stick in your memory. It’s predicted that there’ll be a few snowflakes over the weekend.

We are both bored. We’ve talked about going “out to dinner” tonight, but John mentioned a big pot of chili and that sounds better than bundling up and going out.

I wish we had stayed in Florida an extra month. It’s 90+ in Sun City Center. That’s not “too hot” because we’d be at the pool.

I have work I could be doing.

I should get busy scheduling the workshops for the big festival in July. (Here’s the list of classes I’ll be arranging over 3 days – 8 hours a day with 9 areas simultaneously.) The past few days I’ve been getting everything ready to begin the process, but it only works if I can “shut out” all the distractions and I know that’s not today.

I sure don’t want to do house cleaning.

It’s just a lazy day.

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Beyond springtime

I mentioned in my last post how it was “springtime in Michigan” but obviously the date on the calendar doesn’t necessarily mean it’s spring. This weekend in Michigan it’s supposed to be winter again. The U.P. will have major snowfall. We had thought about going to our place in the U.P. but it looks like this was a good weekend to stay home.

Tomorrow we perform for a Mothers’ Day party at “the Pines,” a senior citizen complex. It should be a fun time for our dulcimer club. Our friends, the Conklins, will be attending and we’ll have a “good group.”

I hope John enjoys tomorrow. He’s gone through a few days of depression because of his health.

I admire his strength of spirit, but sometimes it’s hard to keep it up. Yesterday the FDA rejected approval of the first drug to treat Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis patients. It’s a disappointment.

Today I worked cleaning the kitchen. Is it spotless? No, but it’s better. I deep cleaned the major appliances (dishwasher, range, microwave, refrigerator). Stainless appliances are lots harder to keep looking flawlessly clean than I ever imagined — much, much, much harder than the old stuff we had before. I’m sure it’ll take another day or two before I feel that room is really up to snuff because there’s more that needs to be done, but I’ve got a good start.

I have explained that I hate housekeeping/cleaning but if I take small steps, I’ll get it done.

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Springtime

The leaves are popping out, tulips are in bloom, redbud is actually past it’s prime, the geese with their two fluffy babies are strutting across our yard and John can hardly keep up with the growth of grass. It’s springtime in Michigan.

Unfortunately it’s been really windy so it’s hard to enjoy the great outdoors. Yesterday it got into the mid-70’s but the wind was terrific. Maybe this afternoon it’ll be nicer.

But in Michigan, weather is always changeable. It’s supposed to get down to 32 degrees Sunday morning!

I’ve been trying to master my new JVC HD video camera. It’s taken me a couple of days, but I think I understand it a bit better. Even though I was flustered, I like that sort of thing.

Finally I was successful posting a tune from the Original Dulcimer Players Club meeting: “Soldiers Joy” as played at May 1st ODPC meeting. I also moved all of the videos I’ve taken since March when I got the camera to my computer.

For some folks Spring cleaning is part of this season. My house could definitely benefit from a Spring shakedown, but I hate housework. Wish I had a maid. Some folks get great pleasure from a shiny house and I do too, but NOT if I have to do the cleaning. Since no one else is going to do it, I guess I should get busy. I am going to turn a new leaf. I vow to at least give one or two rooms per day a good cleaning.

Who am I kidding?? I’ve made a vow, but if it works like my promise to lose weight, I won’t be successful. It does look good when I put it down in writing, but I am not very good at sticking to my plans. Nevertheless I’ll try….Tomorrow.

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John continues to do well

John’s Saginaw pulmonologist (Dr. Indira) is a really good doctor. She says that, because John came in when his disease was just starting, she can hopefully keep him going for a dozen years or more. At 72, that’s great news for John.

(Note: She keeps telling us about the one patient she has who is still doing well after 10 years, but that’s probably (undoubtedly) not what happens in most cases.)

Today, after going to his doctor, we went to the bank and dozens of stores. We were exhausted by the time we got home. (Why is it that going in and out of stores is the most tiring of all the kinds of shopping trips?) We didn’t get many items: some plants for our garden, a couple of small flashlights, a rug for our guest bathroom (to replace the one I took for the guest bath in Florida), two large heavy beach towels, a prescription, and a few grocery items. We must have stopped at a dozen places where we didn’t get anything.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be grand weather with temps near 80 degrees.

We’ve been looking for a gravity lounge chair. I hope we can find one, In Florida, my favorite pass time is being beside the pool in a comfy lounge chair reading.

Why do I need to be in Florida? I can do that here beside “Lake Cecil” (the tiny lake where we live). With a lounge chair and a good book, I’ll love this summer as much as if I was in Florida.

I’ve been working on the workshops for the ODPC Funfest, the huge dulcimer festival which will be held in July. The scheduling of the classes always takes me dozens upon dozens of hours. I hope I can have the scheduled grids completed within the next month. It’s such a monumental task that even the preparation takes weeks.

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Back to the Saginaw pulmonologist

John has an appointment tomorrow with Dr. Indira, his Saginaw pulmonologist.

Some of his problems have returned since we got back from Florida. He coughs more and I can tell he has some additional problems. But he pushes himself harder so he accomplishes more. I wonder if it’s the pushing that causes the cough.

But he’s still much better than a year ago. His color is good, his energy is up.

Tomorrow we want to approach Dr. Indira with the idea his Florida doctor had, to get him on the lung transplant list. I’m all for it. I know that’s a cure. He isn’t at a point where he could except a lung (or two), but who knows what six months could bring and at that point he’d have a lessened chance to get on “the list.”

We’ll meet with Dr. Indira and see how she feels about such a proposal. His Florida doctor was very careful not to undermine any of Dr. Indira’s treatment plan. He said he’d be silly to since her plan seemed to be working. But I wonder if we’d come to him first if John would be better off, or if he’d have been written off.

We’ll see how she feels. It might be tough to balance the personalities of two different physicians.

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Our Fire

Headline: “Historic Fordney now rubble”


Friday, June 28, 1991, The Saginaw News

The photo (above) shows the rear view of the fire which destroyed a major part of the historic district of Saginaw. We owned the part that is shown fully involved in flames. The one-story white building behind the main structure was also ours.

We’d purchased the building shortly after John retired in 1988. The building contained eight apartments on the second floor and two long-term businesses on the first floor. The third and fourth floors were occupied by a vacant ballroom with a balcony.

We had obtained a historic grant and had spent approximately $45,000 to renovate the builidng. John had done most of the work himself. It was up to current code and the old place had a “new lease on life.” He had put the final coat of paint on the doors of one of the shops the previous weekend. Everything was new: furnaces, plumbing, kitchens, bathrooms. We looked forward to steady long-term income.

We’d feared the proximity to the Fordney Hotel (which was located next door). John had witnessed derelicts entering the Forney which had been condemned for about two years. The authorities had been notified over and over. Everyone ignored John’s concerns. The fire was almost pre-destined. We knew that the homeless folks who lived in the condemned building were “cooking” and smoking. It was a problem waiting to errupt.

When the fire broke out, John’s first concern was getting all of the residents out. There was no time for “packing”; the fire moved fast. The fire department fought to save nearby businesses, but ours was written off as a total loss. The walls of our building collapsed about five hours into the blaze. It was hard to stand by and watch dreams go up in smoke.

Within a few days The Saginaw News reported that the City of Saginaw had contracted for clean-up. We had been negotiating for clean-up on our own. We had a contractor lined up who agreed to haul away the debris for $5,000. Instead the contract the City negotiated was for the demolition of a four-story building. (Our building was just rubble. There was no demolition necessary.) The clean-up contract reported that we’d owe $150,000, then it was lowered to $57,000. In any case, we didn’t have that kind of money to pay off the clean up company.

And the City gave all salvage rights to the clean-up company. One of our tenants had been allowed to store his motorcycle in the white building behind the main building. The fire didn’t touch it, but the clean-up company got the motorcycle. We had items stored in that building. We crept on to the property and took our broom, our shovel and a couple of souvenir bricks. But the rest was hauled away. (We’d have loved bricks to build a path at our home.)

Eventually insurance paid off the bank but we lost all our equity and had nothing to show for the three years’ of work John had invested.

We looked into the possibility of re-building on the site. With the help of a local congressman, we felt we could probably get a grant to re-build since low cost housing in that area was desperately needed. We sketched out plans and proposals.

But the City continued to fight us. It was a nightmare. We found an attorney who said he’d take our case against the City for a 1/3 contingency fee, but as is widely reported, “You can’t fight city hall.”

It was one headache after another. The City hired a fleet of attorneys.

After several weeks of struggling, John’s temper was near breaking point.

I suggested we “get out of town” for a day. We went to a hammered dulcimer festival in Evart, MI. We’d never been there, but we had enjoyed the sound of hammered dulcimers.

That day at the festival changed our lives. We listened to lovely music and knew we wanted to be part of that community. Within a couple of months, we’d purchased a dulcimer and John had built one.

The battle with the City of Saginaw continued for a couple of years. They decided to “go after us” for the grant money because (as they said), it wasn’t being used for the intended purpose. (It had been paid out for materials and contractors. All money had been controlled by the granting agency. It was all spent on the building.)

As the time added up, our attorney decided that it wasn’t worth it to his firm to continue to represent us. He sent us a bill for $25,000 and withdrew as our counsel. We met with him and couldn’t believe his position. We knew we’d agreed to pay him only if we won the case but his comment was “You have a place in the Upper Peninsula. I don’t have a place in the U.P. Don’t you feel guilty? Sign on the dotted line and agree to pay what you owe.” Basically he wanted us to agree to give up our place or pay the $25,000. We refused .

We filed a complaint with the State Bar. Our attorney was reprimanded.

But in the end, we represented ourselves in court. We lost our property to the City in exchange for the clean-up bill and the grant money.

The property is now a parking lot. Our dreams were snuffed out by the City of Saginaw.

The bitterness John felt was slow to dissipate. But the hammered dulcimer world became a big part of our lives.

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My Brain Tumor

On September, 1981, I was hired by St. Mary’s Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan, to work in Administration as a secretary.

Three months later, I met John Skaryd at a meeting for single parents.

From our first introduction, I was smitten. At the end of the evening, he walked me to the car and kissed me gently on the cheek. We made plans to go to dinner later in the week. That date was followed by many more.

In January, 1982, only a month after we’d met, I found out I had a brain tumor. Talk about bad timing! A new job, a new guy, and a life-threatening brain tumor!

I had gone to a specialist when I felt something with my hearing wasn’t “quite right.” From the audiologist, I was sent to one of best neurosurgeons in the world. He diagnosed my condition as an acoustic neuroma, a non-malignant tumor on my brain stem. It took about a month of tests and a hospital stay to confirm and map the tumor. Without the surgery, I would die, with it I had a 50/50 chance of facial paralysis with many side effects. My doctor explained that he hadn’t been successful removing these tumors and felt I should go to the center where they’d had the best outcomes and were making the greatest advances: St. Vincent’s Medical Center, in Los Angeles, California.

I was frightened. I’d never been across the country. I couldn’t lean on my parents because Mom was incapable of becoming “involved.” (I now believe her inability to deal with difficult situations may have been part of the very early stages of Alzheimer’s.) Dad was dealing with a major heart problem and couldn’t handle anything further. My teenage daughter had her own life.

So I confided in John, my very new gentleman friend. I shared my innermost thoughts with him. I cried. I felt vulnerable.

A surgery in California presented logistic problems. I had to stay for three weeks following the operation. Since my finances and paid sick-time were extremely limited, there was no way I could cover the costs for my daughter to accompany me.

I prepared to go across the country alone. Although John wasn’t able to get much time off work, he said he would be there for the surgery.

I arrived on the weekend so that I could have lab tests and work-ups. John came in on Wednesday just before I checked into the hospital. The surgery was scheduled for Thursday.

The night before my operation, I received a call from Sister Mary, Administrator of St. Mary’s Medical Center in Saginaw. At that time, I’d only worked for St. Mary’s about six months but we’d become friends. She was at a retreat and had requested a special mass for me. She also arranged for my care after the surgery.

I am not Catholic, but I was glad that I had her and her strong beliefs behind me.

The next day, everything went fine. John was with me in intensive care. He called my parents to fill them in, and then left to go back to work in Michigan.

Eight similar surgeries were done the week I had mine. I was one of only two patients who had a successful outcome. (Sister Mary’s prayers had helped.)

The next three weeks, I had to stay in California. My recovery progressed smoothly under the care of the Daughters’ of Charity, the nuns of Sister Mary’s “order.” Her pull had really helped with my accommodations. After I was discharged from the hospital, I was invited to stay in a vacant nursing school. It was empty except for me. She’d even arranged to have my meals delivered.

Six weeks after my surgery, I was back at work.

I’d met John in 1981. On September 10, 1985, we were married.

That’s the brief story of our romance… Or maybe you could say it’s the story of my brain tumor. I know my health crisis drew us closer. He was there for me.

This past September, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.

Because of the surgery in 1982, I’m totally deaf in my right ear and my balance is lousy. I have found that the loss of my inner ear produces dizziness which isn’t always easy to deal with. Sometimes I am disoriented, especially after dark, but I am fortunate to have come through it as I did. I’ve had a grand life.

When Sister Mary died in 2003, I asked to speak at her memorial service. All of the others who took the podium were high-level community leaders and political figures. They talked about how Sister Mary had made the hospital financially viable and credited her with the introduction of high tech services that made St. Mary’s the second most intensive care facility in the state of Michigan. Because of her leadership, Saginaw now has a reputation as a hub for excellence in medical services.

The room was filled and noisy when I started my story. As I told of my experience, the room quieted. My account explained how Sister Mary had made sure I had the best possible treatment in California. She may have been an icon of business success, but it was clear that Sister Mary was more importantly a warm, caring friend, who lived her beliefs.

There was total silence … then applause when I finished.

In 2004, I retired from St. Mary’s. Over the years I had advanced from secretary to an administrative position in charge of hospital planning and the authority on certificates of need for most of hospitals in central Michigan.

In those 23 years, I’d only missed one additional day because of illness.

Boy, that Sister Mary had some powerful prayers!

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Willow’s better

Willow’s sleeping and we’re taking a breather.

She’s kept us up most of the past three or four nights. When she gets started, she hacks continuously — often for more than an hour (unrelenting) . But right now, she’s quiet. I hope it lasts.

We have increased her meds to the max. We’ve prayed and hoped. She is better right now. Let’s hope it continues. We both know that if the coughing continues, we have to make a decision because, if something like that doesn’t cease, it isn’t fair to her. If it goes on incessantly, we can’t let her suffer.

Tonight it’s looking up. She’s breathing easily and she’s comfortable. Hope it continues.

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Now and Then

20091960

I scanned a photo of me taken in 1960. Quite a difference fifty years makes!!)

I look at that wide-eyed innocent young lady and think, “Girl, you’re going to have a great life. Not what you would plan for, and you’ll find some of it difficult, but all in all, pretty darned good!”

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Willow’s (our dog’s) hacking

We will probably have to take Willow in to the vet’s today. She keeps coughing. It’s like she has something in her throat; like she’s trying to hack up a fur ball. John says it seems more like hiccups… a spasm.

John can calm her by holding her. She doesn’t want me near her.

I have a fear that it’s something to do with her heart condition.

We were up much of the night with her.

===

We took her to the vet. It’s her trachea that’s being crowded by fluid build-up in her chest cavity because of her heart problem. It’s all one condition. Her meds have been increased. Hopefully it’ll help. The vet indicated we will probably lose her in less than 6 months.

On the way home from the vet’s she wet me completely (slacks, jacket, and top). Only a mother understands that being drenched with pee goes with being a “mom.” I didn’t complain. I felt badly because I should have realized she needed to be “walked” before we headed for home. I thought her discomfort was because of her trachea. I didn’t know it was because she had a full bladder.

John may be the one she loves most, but I do what’s necessary because she’s my baby too. (Note: According to him: she’s never “wet” him. She must either hold it or he doesn’t take her when she’s in crisis. I have been wet twice this weekend… and countless times before) She may prefer him, but I pay my dues.)

She’s been a good dog but it’s hard to deal with these times when you know she’s suffering.

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I shouldn’t have promised

I sorta “promised” that my next couple of post would cover a couple important events in our lives: my brain tumor and our fire; but those will be in depth narratives so I’ve put them off because they’ll take serious effort and I have to be in the right mood. So let me say, they’ll come, but I don’t feel prepared to do them now. Instead let me add a fluffy piece about Michigan where it’s lovely and we have a grand view out the window to our tiny lake.

The robins have been collecting nest building materials and the geese have been making pests of themselves while the red buds are coming into bloom and the grapes, apple, pear and peach trees are flowering.

It’s not all that warm (60-65) but I can tolerate this temperature. I just want sunshine and clear skies. That we have!

Our yard is surrounded by maple trees and blue spruce. The spruce never loose their green needles, but the maple are just leafing out. It’s amazing that there are so many varieties of maple: red maple and several green-leafed varieties. Right now we can see the small leaves forming and opening up. Some are fairly large (4-5″ plus) but others are tiny buds barely showing themselves. The color difference is huge: bright kelly green, dark muted green, and red/burgundy.

Ahh…. maple trees. My daughter, Kelly, took one back to California and tried to grow it but it didn’t survive. As John has pointed out, maples need the cold hibernation season and then the “rebirth.” Florida wouldn’t provide that climate so I need to accept that, but I’d love to see the multi pointed leaves in Florida. Ahhh well…. it’s not to be.

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Missing stuff

In the past, John and I have gone through two major situations that I’ve never shared with my blog, but I probably should: (1) I had a brain tumor which totally impacted my life in 1981 and (2) we experienced a fire which was a life-changing experience in 1991. These life-landmarks make us who we are so I will delve into them soon.

I did tell the true story of finding the brother I never knew I had and that’s already shown under “Family Matters.” (Shown to the right under the “Menu” heading.)

I need to also report these other two events that changed us deeply. The fire got us into playing hammered dulcimers and changed the focus of our lives. The tumor brought John and me together closer than we may have been otherwise. When I add these “Life Changing” true stories, they will also go into the area of the blog on the right so, in addition to being a post, you’ll see these “life altering events” under the “Menu” items.

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Videos are up!

There are 22 videos of the Kings Point Lip Sync Show. It’s easiest to see them here, but they are actually on “You Tube.” I consistently used the tags: Kings Point, Lip Sync, Sun City Center, March 24. If you go to You Tube, you should find them by entering those words as a search but remembering “sharons-blog.com” might be easier.

Spread the word.

(And I’m sorry that it took so long. It took a lot of time to do them. Each one had to be converted, edited, titled, uploaded and embedded. It took more than 15 hours of work to get them ready for you.)

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Video 22 – “Billy Jean” (Michael Jackson)

A tribute to Michael Jackson:

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Video 21 – “Witch Doctor”

Bill and Donna always do fun stuff.

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Video 20 – “Lady Gaga”

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Video 19 – “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”

This is the much talked about “puppet duet.” What fun! (Wish I had been able to get better audio.)

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Video 18 – “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”

Our own Marilyn (aka Rachael) did this version of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

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Video 17 – “Jailhouse Rock”

Honey and Rachael:

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Video 16 – “Bosom Buddies”

The participants in this video deserve extra credit. The sound track on Sue’s sound track did not come through so she was handed a mic. This was supposed to be lip sync, but she ended up speaking and singing the lyrics. Her partner never missed a beat. Both deserve recognition for the excellent job they did in a difficult situation.

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Video 15 – “Inspite of Ourselves”

Another of Linda’s many looks:

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Video 14 – “The Squirrel Went Berserk”

Cute! This one was another crowd favorite.

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Video 13 – “You’re the Reason our Kids are Ugly”

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Video 12 – “Sam, You Made the Pants too Long”

Don’t forget you can make the image full-screen by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner (above the “U” in “You”).

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Video 11 – “Drippin’ and Droppin'”

I guess this one was called “Drippin’ and Droppin’.”

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Video 10 – “Hit the Road, Jack”

This one started with a skit:

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Video 9 – “She’s Got You”

Sue did a cute version of “She’s Got You.” Notice the photo of Tiger Woods who is the object of her affection.

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Video 8 – Dolly Parton’s “PMS Blues”

Linda’s “PMS Blues” had a small technical glitch, but she handled it well.

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Video 7, New York, New York

Don’t forget you can click the little icon in the lower right corner of the screen over the “U” in “You” to enlarge the screen.

Sue did “New York, New York.” A great job!!

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Video 6 – He’s So Fine

Don’t forget you can enlarge the image to the size of your screen by clicking on the icon which is just above the “U” in You in the lower right corner.

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Video 5 – Let’s Get Loud

Look for the “naked man” during the intro to this one.

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Video 4 – To All The Girls I’ve Loved

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Video 3 – Dancing Queen

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Video 2 – I’m having a hot flash

If you click the little icon in the lower right corner below the “U” in You, it will enlarge to fill your screen.

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The first video: “The Blues Brothers.”

I’ll be posting the lip sync acts which were performed March 24, 2010, in Kings Point, Sun City Center, FL. This was a fund raiser to benefit the Sun City Center Emergency Medical Services.

The first act was “The Blues Brothers.”

If you click the little icon in the lower right corner below the “U” in You, it will enlarge to fill your screen.

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Kings Point Lip Sync Videos

I’m not really happy with my lip sync show videos. The sound isn’t very good, and the images should be sharper.

Here’s my excuse: I bought a new video camera just prior to the lip sync show. It came just before the show so I only had time to try it out once. I could see there would be problems. The battery wouldn’t last long enough for the show and I wasn’t impressed with the quality. I didn’t have a choice but to use it for the show and then sent it back for a refund. I’ve since purchased a much better camera, a JVC HD – high def with an 80 gig hard drive. I’ve also purchased THREE BATTERIES so I can do up to eight to ten hours without needing to stop. It has a super zoom and Dolby sound so I’m sure it’ll be much better.

In order to conserve the battery, I did the March 24th, 2010, show in snippets. As it was, the battery ran out about half way through and I recharged it for about a half hour during intermission to get a little more time. And while it was charging, I switched to my “other” camera which doesn’t have the ability to zoom so it’s hard to use for that kind of show (but I think it actually had higher def images.)

I’m now in the process of editing what I was able to video. It’ll probably take me a few days. I may not have captured all of the acts because there were times when my battery was too low. I believe I videoed 22 which I’ll make available asap. They are not necessarily in the order they were presented.

Enjoy. (And next year I’ll be better prepared.)

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“Michigan, My Michigan”*

We’re home.

The house smells musty and it’s more than a little dusty. It’s a little chilly here compared to Florida, but the weather forecast is for 80 tomorrow so we can’t complain! This afternoon we were able to open the door for a while before it cooled down. It’s good to be home.

Actually it was an “easy trip” compared to many we’ve made. Traffic wasn’t too heavy and the truck purred. But our dog, Willow, was restless and difficult all thirteen hundred miles and that was exhausting. (She’s gotten crabby in her old age.) She was shedding so we were constantly breathing her fine hairs.

I always seem to have problems getting our wireless internet to work after we’ve had it shut down and today was no different. Took two calls but it’s working now except for my out-going emails which I must transmit from by domain host. It’s a pain!!

The house seems to have made it through the winter without many problems. We did have a leak in the drain from the master shower, but since we shut off all water, it didn’t hurt anything.

In December, we stored our houseplants in the hot tub, which we filled just enough to provide a constant “drink” while were away. (Now it’ll be drained and wiped down). My white orchid succumbed and a mother’s tongue bit the dust, but the other plants look fine. Our grass is a little sparse (needs re-seeding), the geese are hanging around on our beach, and the apple trees have started to bud out (which disappoints John because he hoped to be home in time to spray with dormant insecticide.)

As we came down I-75 we saw lots of redbud trees in bloom from Georgia to Kentucky and green everywhere, but it’ll be a few weeks before this area of Michigan is leafed out. Our redbud doesn’t even have a haze of red yet. I do see a couple of white flowering trees in full bloom across the lake and the maples have tiny green leaves. It looks like spring.

Nice to be home but we’re pooped.

* “Michigan, My Michigan” is the tune most residents think is the state song.

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