Archive for2011-07-18 to 2011-09 – the rest of the summer

Packed for 8:30 a.m. Pull-Out Tomorrow

Finally we’re ready! We’re packed and tomorrow a.m. we’ll hit the road for Florida!

We have appointments and plans waiting for us.

Unfortunately this week Michigan has decided to be unseasonably beautiful and warm. The forecast for this weekend may take temperatures to 80 degrees which is unheard of in Michigan in October. In fact, it’ll be nearly as warm as Florida but we’re going.

John isn’t really pleased, but he realizes that we can’t reschedule now. We arrive on Friday and have parties/dances planned for Sunday and Tuesday and a doctor appointment Tuesday a.m.

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I’m Probably Driving John Crazy

As I’ve mentioned frequently, I’m a detail oriented person. I plan. My specialty is “lists.”

This compulsion is especially evident before we take a trip, like the trip we’ll take starting Wednesday to our place in Florida.

I have lists for packing and lists for chores still needing to be completed. I know I’m obsessive about this sort of thing.

I also plan out every detail of our actual “trip.” I can tell you that at 9:05 a.m. on Day Two (Thursday, October 6th), well be crossing the Kentucky/Tennessee border; and that at 1:11 p.m. Friday, we should pull into our Florida condo.

Today John and I went over the “lists” I’ve prepared for our trip South so he’d know what’s left to be completed. We’ll do it again, at least once more, but little by little we’re whittling-down the stuff that remains.

Because John trusts and expects me to do all of this pre-preparation, I’m responsible if something is forgotten. That’s enough incentive to recheck the lists again!!

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Great App Discovery

Today I found an app for my Droid which allows me to use my cellphone as a “wifi hot spot.” With unlimited data transferral available through my Droid, this will be a real godsend. I was budgeting my 5GB monthly allowance, which meant I had .172GB of data transferral per day. I found I could easily use two or three times that amount but I couldn’t justify paying more. The Droid was at least unlimited. I tried and used the droid all I could but sometimes the laptop was easier than the tiny droid screen. Now I can relax and be productive without budgeting.

Tonight we enjoyed our last walleye fish dinner at the Moose until Spring. Our old friend, Roger, came by to sa(Joyce) were active members in the old Moose Lodge on Hamilton Street. She’s since passed, but Roger is always there with a joke and a smile. It felt good that he cared enough to make it a point to come tonight to send us on our trek southward.

This afternoon it turned really cold. I’ve cranked up the heat to take the chill off the house. (It’s 43 but the wind and dampness make it feel like it’s 30.)

I’m ready to head South where it’s warm!

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Five days and counting….

Today I cleaned house. I hate to leave a dirty house behind so I vacuumed, dusted, and did bathroom floors. I still have more to do, but I’m on-track. (The windows will wait until Spring.)

I have finished my “packing.” I have filled two bins with my clothes plus a third bin of “stuff” which includes a slew of batteries, a mail scale, a new weather “station,” back-up hard drive, hats, etc. In the “staging area” I’ve accumulated several smaller shoebox-size boxes (computer programs in one, make-up and medicines in another, and one of camera cables and camera instructional manuals), a plastic file-box, a couple reams of paper, a box of card stock and sheets of labels, a box of tax records, and a bag of recorded cds, one of microphones (etc.), a bag of shoes, and a bag with beach towels. I’m hoping it’ll all fit in the truck. If possible, I also want to bring a box of Christmas glass ornaments, a bag containing a wreath, and a few more holiday items. John has a bin of clothes, and a few zippered clothing bags (but he left most of his stuff in Florida).

I’m sure the mounds of stuff I have ready to go will more than fill the back-end truck box, and I may have to leave some stuff behind. We’ll see.

I want to get busy fitting it all in but we need to wait until we know we can leave the truck outside without affecting what we’ve packed.

We’ll take off in 5 days, 13 hours, and 30 minutes!

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Two days to go…. Actually a week, but…

John just informed me that I’re two days too early to start packing the truck for Florida.

I’m ready! I’ve brought two plastic bins to the area by the door so they’ll soon be packed, but I understand that I’m pushing things.

John needs to finish cleaning out the truck and he really doesn’t want to acknowledge that we’re that close to leaving. So this weekend we’ll officially start packing. I am READY!!!

Guys do things at a different pace. Or maybe it’s just “me.”

I’m a planner. I’ve explained that for 23 years I was, by my profession, an “official hospital planner.” Now that I’ve retired I find myself still tending toward planning but John plods along. I make lists and get ready. John takes off and counts on me to cover his butt.

But somehow we are compatible.

Love that guy!!

I will adjust to his “lack of planning” but I will also be his backup with print-outs and readily prepared agendas of what we need to expect on our trek south.

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Wow! What a great Saturday!!

Yesterday was a long but enjoyable day. We attended the ODPC meetings in Lansing starting at 10:00 a.m. It’s always fun to share time with good music friends.

We sat in on three meetings and a lunch. The fun music time was just starting with lots of wonderful friends playing, but we headed south to Ann Arbor to visit Audra and Dave, John’s (really nice) daughter. It was a totally enjoyable visit. Audra cooked up a meal that was amazing. Everything looked, smelled, and tasted magnificant. (Her culinary abilities sure show she’s John’s child.)

We left her place at about 8:30 so we’d have time to stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home. We really didn’t leave ourselves much time but we got some “Two Buck Chuck,” Charles Shaw wine.

We were tired and the trip home, through never-ending construction zones, was extra exhausting. John kept reminding me that he was close to falling asleep, so I continually chatted with him until we were home. It tired both of us.

We’d been gone since 8:00 a.m.

The many years of having Willow, our little dog, at home waiting for us, has left a not-to-be-erased feeling of uneasiness when we’re away from the house all day. There’s always that feeling that she’s waiting.

The ghost of Willow still haunts us.

Of course, last night, when we got home about 10:45, the house was empty. It still felt good to be there, but the realization that there’s nothing waiting at home is kind of disappointing.

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How old am I?

Depends on the time of the year. Right now most days I’m in my early-60’s (although my driver’s license would say I’m nearly 70). But when we get to Florida (in about two weeks), my outlook will change. If you ask me this same question in December, I’ll probably say without hesitating that I feel about 50-55 and getting younger every day.

Something about the Southern climate and attitude changes us.

John hates to admit it but, when we’re in Florida, I see the years slip off him too. There’s a lift to his step, and a brighter twinkle in his eye.

I’ll bet if a test could be done, we’d each de-age by 20 years. I can’t help but wonder if we stayed in the south all year if our age-regression would take us back to childhood.

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John’s Siding Project

North End – Just finished

North end of the house - new siding

Above is the newly finished north end of our Saginaw house.

old siding

The old siding was in rough shape! This is the same side as in the top photo.

Here’s the front side

Two more before and after’s: You can see the before and now the 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.

When the project was started.

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My Colored/UnColored Closet

In Michigan, my closet is filled with BLACK. Sure I wear some color as an accent, but generally I find myself bathed in BLACK.

Example: Today I’m wearing black slacks, black sandals, a sleeveless black tank top covered with a long-sleeved Chico’s black buttoned cardigan with red/orange flowers with green leaves on a black background.

In a little over two weeks we’ll be in Florida. My color scheme and clothing when we’re in the south is totally different. Most of the time I wear really bright stuff. My shorts are shorter and more fitted and they are nearly always white or light. My tops are bright! (Grandma didn’t know what she was talking about when she told me, “A lady never wears white after Labor Day.” In Florida, I wear white all winter!!) In Florida, clothing tends to be sexier. This year I’ll be SEVENTY but I love dressing young. In Florida, I find that attire is lots more lively and fun. It’s ME, my STYLE!!

The whole mind-set of Florida is fun. Color enhances the mood.

(Note: A couple years ago, I was in a restaurant in Ruskin, FL, and three or four couples came in. The only thing I could think was that it was obvious they were from the North. The women were all dressed in black or very dark attire and everything looked bleak and cloistered. I commented and everyone in our party agreed. They stood out because they didn’t portray the Florida image of light colors and fun.)

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Winding down in Michigan

John has been working every day on the installation of vinyl siding on our house. He’s progressed to the “peak” (about 30′ up). It scares me every time I look out. (If he doesn’t finish it today; he’ll complete it tomorrow.) Once the north side is done, his plan is to postpone any more siding work until next spring (the lake side and south side still remain to be completed but they’re only one-story high so, by comparison, it’ll be a snap.) The one side toward the lake will be vertical siding, to accent the cedar shakes. That should make it a lot easier with less waste. What’s finished really looks nice, but it’s been so much work for him. I’ll post photos.

He is saying he also wants to cut down two dead poplar trees before we leave for Florida, but I’d like to see that job wait until next year.

Our 5th wheel trailer is winterized, the sprinkler system blown out, and our truck is nearly ready to take off. The lawn needs to be mowed at least one more time. Last minute apples picked. There are grapes to be harvested. We’ll probably bring along some juice to make into wine when we’re down south. Looks like our lawn guy will have to do the leaves because they haven’t even started to fall.

But everything is wrapping up.

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Verizon goes 4G in Saginaw

I now have 4G access both in Michigan and in Florida. My connection speed, even at 3G, was outstanding. But I do have a problem. I’m restricted to 5GB of digital download a month. Seems that at the faster speed, I use even more bytes yet previously I was restricted to 2MB per month (with Speednet) and I never had a problem (ok, so maybe once or twice I went over for less than 1 gb per month, but now I’d doing twice that volume!!). I’ve stopped visiting my favorite game site ( because I can’t “afford” the digital usage. Why is it taking so many bytes to do what I have done for over a year?


Note September 25: I have found that the 4G area is very limited. Yes, I receive 4G, but a mile from here, there’s only 3G.

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Chilly Time for Wonderful Chile!

This morning it was time to get up, but it was dern chilly in the bedroom. I pulled up the quilt and nestled down for a few minutes additional warmth. My nose was cold! Yup, we’re in Michigan and it’s late September. There’s definitely a nip in the air.

The leaves have subtly changed and will soon blend into reds, yellows and oranges before they fall to the lawn.

Since it’ll only get into the high 50’s today, we’re talking about having a fire in the fireplace.

We’re leaving for Florida in three weeks. Since the leaves are still fiercely clinging to the trees, it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to get them off the yard before we leave. Hopefully we can hire our yard guy, Steve, to finish up the job.

This evening we had a big pot of from scratch chile! That’s the best meal on a cool day and it really hit the spot. Wonderful chile made with lots of fresh picked tomatoes, from the garden green peppers, kidney beans (yes! chile must have beans), onions, spices and ground chuck. Served it with club crackers. Yummy!!!

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John’s health

Lots of folks know that John was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2009. IPF is a very serious lung disease. (To be very clear, the available information would say that such a diagnosis is generally a death sentence with, at most, a three to five year life expectancy!)

But John’s doctor in Saginaw is really, really optimistic. She has proven to us that her treatment plan can produce positive results and she has statistics to prove that her, non-standard treatment of early stage pulmonary fibrosis, works. (Notice I said “early stage” because John went to the doctor as soon as he noticed a change in his lung capacity and kept working with doctors until he was diagnosed with a lung biopsy about six months later.)

Here’s what the University of Michigan said about Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis but they aren’t dealing with my husband nor his determination.

So we work with with his Saginaw doctor, and he continues to do very well on her prescribed treatment of Prednisone and Imuran.

Admittedly her treatment plan isn’t recognized as acceptible by most pulmonologists who study Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, but since it works for John, even his Florida doctor says, “Although I would never have prescribed that treatment, it’s working, so continue following your Saginaw doctor’s suggestions.” (And he added, “You’re lucky you went to her first because I would have told you there is NO treatment but she has one for you which seems to be successful so continue it!”)

So John’s health problem is holding it’s own. He’s physically doing more hard work than he should. He’s definitely not at 100% but he is much better than he was two years ago so we are grateful.

We’re indebted to his Saginaw pulmonologist, Dr. Indura.

She’s really kept him ticking.

Our Florida doctor (who is highly recognized as one of the best in his field) feels that John’s amazing progress means that he must not have pulmonary fibrosis, although when his biopsy was review by the Mayo Clinic they confirmed his diagnosis. Whatever has happened to John shows that prayer and good medicine works. And John receives both.

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Where Were You on 9/11/2001?

Surviving 9-11Everyone can tell you precisely what they were doing when our nation’s innocence was destroyed by terrorists who used planes to toppled the World Trade Center, hit the Pentagon, and caused a fourth plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.

Where were you?

I was working for St. Mary’s Medical Center and had left my office at about 8:20 a.m. to attend a meeting at Bay Medical Center. I was listening to the radio as I drove. Regular programming was interrupted with an announcement that a “small plane” had hit one of the twin towers in the heart of New York City. It was assumed it must have been a small private plane, but a short while later, the other tower was hit by a second passenger plane, and the horror of the situation became apparent.

I was with a half dozen of our area’s hospital administrators. We were on a committee to run a lithotripsy service in our area. (In addition to Bay Medical and St. Mary’s, Mid-Michigan Medical Center, McClaren, West Branch, and a couple other hospitals were represented. About six of us attended the meeting.) I was the only one who didn’t hold the title of President or Vice President of his facility.

When I walked into the meeting room at Bay Medical, several others were already watching the unfolding story on television. All eyes were riveted to the news as it developed. The dramatic photos showed the damage to the buildings. Terrorism was apparently the cause.

We attempted to conduct the meeting, but it was impossible. The TV was behind me. The sound was turned down. All of the sudden there was a gasp from those on the opposite side of the table. The second tower to be hit had collapsed. Shortly thereafter the other tower came down. It was devastating.

We were silent as we listened to the reports.

The meeting concluded prematurely and I headed back to my office. The rest of the day was spent huddled around the TV set in the conference room at St. Mary’s. No one worked. There was little conversation. We were stunned.

It was an unforgetable day. Our nation’s innocence had abruptly ended.

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Tonight’s Anniversary Celebration

Well, we had a very nice dinner. We went to the Rustic Inn in St. Charles. The food was excellent! The ambiance was different: lots of huge stuffed animals including a couple bears, elk, deer, birds, etc. It was a nice evening. Thanks, John!!

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Our Anniversary Tomorrow

Tomorrow is our 26th wedding anniversary. We don’t normally make a big deal out of birthdays or anniversaries but last year was our 25th and although we tried to make it special, it was very disappointing. We had hoped to go out for wonderful dinner and thought we’d found a nice dining room, but it ended up being an expensive crowded, noisy meal that nothing noteworthy. “Review” of last year’s anniversary dinner.

Maybe tomorrow night we can find a place which will make our 26th special.

Anything will be better than last year’s “celebration.” John mentioned a really good burger from our favorite burger spot would be fun so Farmer’s Home Tavern might be our destination. Or maybe a steak at Outback. We’ll see. It has to be better than last year’s lousy experience. Come to think of it a Farmer’s Home Tavern burger, fries, and a pitcher of beer might be the best “gift” for John.

We don’t get ESPN and he really wants to watch the football game. We could view it from Farmer’s Home. Boy, would that ever win me points as a good, understanding wife.

We’ll see.

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27 Days to Go

Last night I reminded John that we’ll be leaving Michigan in four weeks. He looked stunned. Although we plan and prepare for the trip south well in advance, to know that it’s approaching at an unbelievably quick pace, surprises us. He hasn’t changed his mind, but I think he’s shocked that it’s approaching so fast.

I’ve set some personal goals for our six months in the south:

  • Decide once and for all if we want to buy a bigger condo
    (which means that if we decide to stay put, we’ll want to do some minor upgrades).
  • Include a physical fitness routine in my day.
  • Take advantage of the various clubs and lessons.
  • Become more involved with the church we attend.
  • Purge our condo of anything I don’t use or wear. (Don’t let unused/old stuff become a huge problem as it is in Michigan)
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    30 days and packing

    I mentioned to my Facebook friends that we have made a decision about when we’ll leave for Florida.

    I explained that John has been very unhappy about leaving September 28th. He was talking about how he’d like to stay up north through the fall. Finally I realized that dragging him south would make him miserable and we’d end up having a lousy time. So instead I suggested that we change our plans and leave on October 5th.

    Now John is happy. He gained a week which to him was a victory.

    A couple of my gal friends have given that post a thumbs up. I’m sure they see that us wives often make our men feel good about small gains to win the fight.

    suitcaseWe give up concessions so we get what we ultimately want.

    I want to get to Florida. John’s balking. I would like to leave asap. John would like to delay for months.

    By saying, “Ok, let’s we leave on October 5th, instead of September 28th” he’s happy. He gained a week. I gained a contented guy who is smiling because he got his way.

    Sure I could have fought him on the date, but seven days isn’t that important and now we’re off dead-center. We’re leaving on the 5th, and he’ll be happy when he gets down there. I’m happy that we have resolved it.

    Besides, I have a feeling I need eye surgery and my appointment with the surgeon is October 11th. I want to get it over early in October so I’ll be all healed by Christmas time.

    At least now we have resolved our departure plans and I can get things packed. Yeah!!!!!

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    Decision: Our Trip Will Be Delayed One Week

    calendarOur plans are now complete. We have decided that we might as well wait to leave for Florida until October 5th. We’ll arrive on October the 7th. Yes, we’ll miss one Baby Boomer party and a farmers’ market, but I have a feeling that this concession will make John much happier, and therefore there’s no doubt that it’s what we should do. He’ll be miserable if I drag him down there reluctantly. If we delay our leave date, I’m sure he’ll be happier about the trip because he’ll know his feelings are being considered.

    John would like to wait to make up our minds. He doesn’t understand that, for me, it’s a very uncomfortable feeling when things aren’t decided. I need to start my mental “count-down.” It’s 31 days until October 5th, and 24 days if we leave on September 28th. The week’s difference won’t matter in the overall scheme of things. We’ll still have lots of time to have fun. I do want to get down there before the 9th. (We have a party on the 9th and I have an appointment with an eye surgeon on the 11th.)

    In this case, moving our departure a week later will make my man happier. It’s a great trade-off.

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    Getting Ready

    I’m not sure when we’re leaving for Florida. At the earliest, we’ll leave September the 28th and arrive at our Florida condo the 1st of October. But it’s possible that we’ll leave a week later. Either way, I’m starting to get ready now.

    My staging area is the dining room. I’m collecting items I fear could forget like a new crocheted beach hat, our tax records, a bag of cds, a couple reams of paper for printing, the CDs for computer programs which are installed on my laptop, and lots more stuff. Everything I don’t want to leave behind goes to the dining room. Also clothes are hung together in a special area in my closet. I have a detailed/refined packing list which I review frequently, but there are always those “extras” that may not be on the list. I’m doing my best to be sure that when we’re to leave, things will be packed. It’s just too far and we’re gone too long to forget critical items.

    We have lots of exciting occasions waiting for us in Florida. Everything from a couple of pizza parties, dances, wine and cheese parties, sunsets, friends and fun! Can’t wait.

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    I’ve found a free service which I’m sure will be of interest to those who love to write and would like to see what they write “in print.” It is also a good source of free books for those of us who are “readers.” I can download these books to my Droid cellphone and folks with iphones or ipads can also access them with apps for their devices.

    Check it out:

    I also love the free ebooks which Amazon makes available in Kindle format. With my Droid I can search the Kindle Store by price (lowest to highest) and find all those that are free. Yesterday I finished one by C.L. Bevill that was very good. I’m sure I’ll read more by this author.

    So far, my price for my ebooks library = $.00.

    One side note: I can read in bed and not bother John. The screen can be changed to a black background with white text and dimmed down so it’s only visible to me. (My too bright book light used to keep John awake, but he says it’s much better now that I’m using my Droid and eBooks.)

    BTW Kindle books can be read using any computer, so if you don’t have an eReader device, you can use your laptop. Not as compact, but there are free books galore so you’ll never run out.

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    Packing day

    We had planned to leave the U.P. on Saturday, but decided instead to leave on Monday. Today we’ll pack what we can for our Saginaw-bound trip. It’s always a chore to winterize the place and make sure that it’s as safe as it can be until our return next summer. John does most of that stuff, so I sure don’t have anything to complain about. My part is easy.

    He has done a great job cleaning up and grooming the yard. He also added a “skirt” so the area under the deck is now more “hidden” from view and can be used for storage. Don’t know how he does it all.

    We moved furniture around in the living room. The place now looks bigger and gives us a little easier way to view the lake while relaxing inside. We’d like to get new living room furniture, but this stuff is actually quite comfortable.

    It’s amazing that things continue to be livable even though we only visit once a year. We fear that someday when we get up here the pump or the hot water heater won’t work (both are old and way past their life expectancy). But for now, everything is purring and we enjoyed our stay.

    Next time we come up here I vow we’ll have television, if it’s at all possible. Our old set that’s here has never worked well and requires an HD converter (which I forgot). But we’re thinking about getting a bigger TV for our living room in Florida. If we do, we can move the living room set to the bedroom and bring our Florida bedroom set home for use in the bedroom in Saginaw. (It’s a HD flat screen.) Since it’s a manageable size maybe we could bring it up here plus use it in our trailer. Or maybe we’d just bring our the small trailer TV and converter box up here and leave it. One way or the other, we need to have TV while we’re here. It’s been difficult to follow the progress of hurricane Irene and stay abreast of what’s happening in the world.

    Guess I better go start packing.

    (BTW it was COLD this morning.. only about 45 degrees.)

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    No hot water!!!

    When we got here (in the U.P.) on Monday, the place was dirty. After more than a year of being closed up, it smelled moldy and stale. We cleaned up what we could that night and I made the bed with bedding I’d brought from home including a clean mattress pad on the bed. It was livable. No hot water but we “washed up”. The next day (Tuesday), I was really glad when John got the hot water heater going so we could have wonderful hot showers that night.

    Last night (Wednesday), I anticipated another relaxing shower, but the water heater wouldn’t stay lit.

    NO HOT WATER!!! NO!!!!

    Since we’ve only been up here twice in three years, it’s hard to keep track of how much bottle gas we have used. Apparently we ran out of gas.

    Tomorrow they’re refilling our two 100-pound tanks. In the mean time we have no hot water.

    I’d love a hot shower tonight (Thursday).

    I can take the lack of TV but no shower is worse!!

    Later: John just coaxed enough gas out of the tank to start up the water heater for a short while before it went out again. There’s hope that we’ll each be able to take a very short warm (not hot) one. At this point I’ll be happy with a warm dribble.


    Yeah!!!!! The water heater put out enough to warm the tank and we both enjoyed gloriously hot showers.

    Isn’t it funny how one adjusts and finds joy in simple things when they don’t come easy.

    Considering that:

  • a tree had come down requiring major clean-up
  • we had mice in the trailer
  • there were some leaks in our piping
  • we have no TV (because I forgot the HD converter)
  • the flies are bad
  • the beach is non-existent
  • and part of the time, we haven’t had hot water
  • this visit could have been a disaster but we’ve had a surprisingly good time. I love sharing adventures with John.

    In fact we’re now thinking that instead of leaving tomorrow (Saturday) we may stay until Monday.

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    I hate talk radio!!!!

    I’m so sick of hearing how bad our administration and life in this country is. It’s really sad that all of the radio broadcasts are so negative. I’m tired of it.

    This week has been a real eye-opener. In my previous post, I explained that I left behind our HD converter so we have no television. Therefore we’ve been stuck listening to radio. I’m totally depressed. No one could listen to daytime talk radio and not come out with a distorted view of America. This land is wonderful. Not all politicians are corrupt. Not all Democrats are bad, nor are the Republicans. Seems we have a pretty good balance of good and evil in each party.

    I just wish talk radio would stop being so negative. They see nothing good in anyone.

    Give me a break. I’ll be so glad to get home so I can listen to Dr. Oz instead of the bitter talk radio personalities.

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    Stuff I Forgot

    I am the one who is responsible for “techie” stuff and therefore the HD converter was my responsibility. I forgot it! About a week ago, I had packed it up along with my new hard drive (which I’d planned to set up so it would back up my system) and my router (which was a key component in my plans). I put everything in a cloth bag and put it in the dining room (our staging area). The problem was that I’m also using that area to get ready for our Florida departure. Somehow in my mind, I thought of the bag as something which was ready for our Florida trip. So when I was packing for the U.P., I left it behind. It wasn’t even an accident. I just had the mind-set that it was for Florida (because I’ll also be taking it south).

    So we’re up here in the north woods without TV. Our only set is an old one. Last time we came up, there were no digital channels which could be accessed. That was over a year ago, so I would think that they’d have some available for those who can’t get cable. But we won’t know until next year.

    At least my new Verizon USB 3G service works just fine. Wish we could use it for TV but that doesn’t appear to be an option. I keep checking various apps which say that they play television, but they are just videos.

    I thought maybe we could at least watch videos with NetFlix, so signed up for the free month trial, but it hasn’t worked. I can’t get any sound. Maybe it needs separate speakers. I don’t know. It just doesn’t work, and also the 3G connection speed is so slow that it bogs down while buffering. Hopefully it’ll work better at home.

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    We’re in the U.P.

    Sunday, August 21st, we went to the Detroit Tigers baseball game with George and Judy Horny.

    The game was exciting to the very end. Only negative was that we were in the HOT sun without sunscreen and both got a little fried. Now I have a “farmer’s tan” since I was wearing a short-sleeved tee shirt with a slightly scooped neck.

    Stopped on our way home at Fuddruckers in Flint for a great burger.

    Monday we packed up and headed to our place in the U.P.

    We arrived mid-afternoon and found a real mess. Mice had gotten in so a lot had to be “scrubbed down.” Also a spruce had come down in front of the deck. If the tree had been a foot or so taller, we would probably have had damage to our place, but as it was, we squeaked by.

    view of Lake Michigan from our deck
    Yesterday (Tuesday), John managed to chop up the tree and work a little on mowing.

    I finally went down to the water this morning. It was totally “over-grown” with cattails and over 6′ tall marsh grass. There’s no beach. It’s depressing. It used to be so lovely up here! We’d take our lounge chairs to the water’s edge and stay there all day. It was heavenly. Thank heavens we have a deck because, from it we almost feel that it’s still beautiful as you can see in the photo.

    The stump in the center of the picture is where the tree was that came down. Actually it gives us a better view with it gone.

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    I’ve missed blogging

    Not posting to my blog leaves me feeling “incomplete.” When I haven’t written down my thoughts, especially for several consecutive days, it often feels that maybe my “life-experiences” weren’t vital enough to share but that definitely hasn’t been the case since I last posted. We’ve just been swamped with activities.

    Back on August 9th, when I last wrote, things nationally/world-wide seemed rather bleak, but the days since then, including Thursday the 11th through Sunday the 15th, were crowded with friends and music. That weekend, we were at the Gladwin Fairgrounds where we helped celebrate the Gladwin Carriage Days. It was fun! Lots of music performances, catching up with friends, and food galore. What more could we ask for? Even the weather cooperated and wasn’t as steamy as previous years. Yes, we had a few showers, but none stopped our good times.

    When we left on Sunday, we were exhausted, but good-tired. We were on a “high” that has carried us through the week.

    Then yesterday, Thursday, the 18th, we played for a Red Hatters’ Party at Wescourt Retirement Residence facility. Again, lots of fun folks and a great time.

    You can enjoy our performance here:

    Thank you, Sue Smith, for the video memory.

    (By the way, our 93-year-old friend and mentor, Bill Kuhlman started “In the Mood” for us.)

    Tonight we enjoyed a great walleye fish fry at the Saginaw Moose Lodge. It was one of the best fish dinners I’ve ever eaten.

    So life is great. The weather has mellowed and hasn’t been overly hot, and we’re staying really busy. I’m definitely not complaining, nor bored.

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    All of the news these days seems to be bad: helicopter crash kills 30, stockmarket takes a beating, record heatwave threatens much of U.S., national debt at record levels, England rioting.

    Actually today the market looked better. Maybe things are improving.

    Tomorrow I clean and pack the trailer for a weekend camping weekend with friends. That will cheer us.

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    Tired of Testing

    About a year ago I bought a wonderful external 2TB Seagate Black Armor hard drive which I felt sure would allow me great peace of mind since I’d never again have to worry about lost data.

    Actually it worked quite well until about a month ago. At 9:00 a.m. each day, it would back up any data added since the previous day. But it got so that the scheduled daily back-ups were failing most of the time. After about a dozen failures, a week ago, I figured that I’d clear it off and start over. I deleted a year of back-ups (but not before I’d made a series of small back-ups on 4GB jump drives.)

    Over the past few days, I’ve reinstalled the software multiple times but it’s working worse than it was.

    I’ve tried everything I can think of. A full back-up can take a day and a half to run to run and I can’t use my computer while it’s doing the initial back-up. At first, I got several hours into it before would fail, but always it stopped, and I have to start over. I keep thinking, “Maybe I just need to tweak this.” So I’d do some small change and try again.

    Now it’s stopping only a few minutes into a back-up. I’ve wasted about a week. I am at a loss. The Seagate site explains that there’s a three year warranty, but the website warns that, if you send the drive to them and the problem isn’t with the drive, they’ll send it back to you and charge you for their time. So I keep testing.

    I’ve finally given up and emailed their customer service department in hopes that they can offer a suggestion but I envision a whole department of “Peggys.”


    Monday, August 8, 2011 – 3:30 p.m.

    I just got off the phone after many hours with Seagate. They are the company which offers my 2TB hard drive back-up. Yup, they got back to me this a.m. by email, and I called them. They have been very helpful.

    I spent the whole morning working with their (U.S. based) service department trying to trouble-shoot and see if the problems I’m having are because of their drive or my computer. Many hours later, the two techs I worked with finally determined that the problem is with the back-up drive so they are sending me a whole new set-up.

    I will pay a $9.95 service fee which will cover the UPS cost both directions. I’ll have a brand new unit. I can keep both units for 30 days, so I can take my time and move the videos and photos I’d backed up.

    I hate to think of all the time I’ve wasted, but at least I found it wasn’t “me” and they’re the ones saying I should send the drive back.

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    John’s “Project”

    The year John was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis he started putting up vinyl siding on our Michigan home. That was the summer of 2009. Last year he wasn’t well enough to do much but this year he has been working on it, especially since it cooled down some. With less than two months before we head south, he’s in a frenzy. We are committed to a few days in Gladwin with our dulcimer club and a week in the U.P. but the rest of the time I predict he’ll be busy with the siding project.

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    Closet Cleaning

    I have waaaaayyy too many clothes I’ll never wear! They are crammed in two up-stairs closets, two basement portable closets, and 3/4’s of a walk in closet off our bedroom.

    I have decided to take clothes I know I’ll never wear to a consignment shop or donate them. Today I really got busy. When I got into the depths of the guest room closet, I found some things I’d totally forgotten. There is a pair of crisp off-white dressy crepe slacks with a very sharp crease which fit perfectly, a perfect long pleated evening skirt (I’ve been looking for one on eBay but hadn’t been successful), and a very pretty sleeveless flowered dress (very long) which will look perfect at at one of our dressy dances. Maybe tomorrow I’ll uncover more treasures.

    I went successful “shopping” in my own closet.

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    Too Hot

    This summer it’s just been too hot to enjoy being outside. I look at the temps in Florida and realize that it’s often even worse down there, but somehow I think of our time in Florida as breezy with lots of cooling pool time. Realistically I know that during the summer, everyone suffers in the heat.

    Next week we’re going camping with our Sub-Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club. Last year we about cooked in the campground in Gladwin. Hope it’s more comfortable this year.

    There is hope. This afternoon we’re supposed to have storms moving through and then cooler weather.

    John has been working on the siding so I have to keep after him to take it easy.

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    John said today that he wishes we’d stay in Michigan through October.

    Not me. I want to hurry down there, the sooner the better.

    In Florida, we have several events scheduled for October, and one is a “free” pizza party and there are a couple of dances. John also does better in Florida than he does up north.

    But mainly I want to get back to see friends.

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    I’ve had my Samsung Droid for about four weeks now and I LOVE it. When we got my Droid we also got a Chocolate Touch with email and digital access for John and a USB modem to provide wireless internet for my laptop.

    The Droid has unlimited digital. The USB modem is subscribed to a 5.0GB per month plan. I may find that, in order to stay within my budget, I will have to learn to use the Droid better. I sure don’t want to pay an additional $10 per gig for overage because I over-used the laptop connection.

    Actually the Droid can do most everything my laptop can do but at this point, it takes me lots longer. Hopefully I can manage my usage and also use the Droid more effectively.

    I think I’ll have enough access to get me through the month, but it’s going to be close. The month ends at 12:30 p.m. on August 4th. This afternoon, with six days to go, my data usage was 3.765GB which means I have about 1.235GB left for the remaining six days. Dividing that out it comes to .206GB per day. The original 5.0GB equaled .161GB per day, so I should have excess; about a quarter of a gig left over. I hope!!

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    I’m list and preparation obsessed

    We’ll be driving down to Florida in less than two months.

    This week we started assembling stuff.

    We now have a box ready to take with us for our 2011 income taxes. We’ll still have to add our most recent payments, but all of the historic information has been collected.

    I’ve prepared a file which uses my GPS program on my laptop so we know where well stay and even where we’ll eat. Our motel reservations have been confirmed. I’ve figured out how I’ll get my orchids back with me. And I’ve even lined up our realtor to show us new condos when we get down there.

    I’m busy working on my “lists.”

    I have lists for chores I need to do before we leave, items I need to take back with me, and things which I need to remember for the trip. (It seemed really strange to eliminate all of the items we used to bring for little Willow, our sweet little dog who was always with us as we traveled to and from Florida.)

    Betcha there aren’t many folks who spend more time “getting ready.” I truly love to plan ahead.

    I plan ahead in part because we spend so long in Florida or in Michigan, and it’s distressing to forget something that’s necessary for our comfort. I do everything I can to avoid forgetting.

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    Great Group

    We had about 20 members of our dulcimer club playing at Haithco Park last night. The rain held off until we were packing up to leave.

    We need rain desperately but why does it always happen when we have an outdoor event? I kiddingly commented that whenever we have a Haithco Concert, it rains (or looks like rain).

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    Another Instrument in the Hands of a New Player

    I love it when folks who have never played a hammered dulcimer get an instrument and are hooked by it.

    Our good friend, Shelly Brooks, is progressing nicely on her instrument. She got her instrument at the ODPC Funfest the 13th of July. It was provided for her use for a year by the ODPC’s mentor program.

    Today a sweet lady, Barb, from Ontario Canada and Florida, picked up her new instrument from me. She’s excited and anxious to get started.

    It’s fun to watch these people get excited about their instruments. I’m sure they love the experience.

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    Summer is Flying Past

    We have our second Haithco Concert Wednesday the 27th. Two weeks from now we’ll join our club for the performance at Gladwin Carriage Days, an event that also serves as a camping weekend for the members. The week of the 21st we plan to head to our place in the Upper Peninsula. When we return, we’ll be heading into September and the grapes should be ready for John to pick, crush, and make into wine. At the end of September, we leave for Florida. Wow! Time flies!

    Yesterday we received a message from Oldies but Goodies, a dance club we belong to in Florida. Their activities are enticing. We’ll miss their root beer float party and dance, and several other fun times, but at least we’ll be there for their annual pizza party and dance in October.

    I’m already starting to gather the stuff we need to take back to Florida. We leave

    But I hate wishing my life away. Time flies fast enough and here I am hoping time will hurry past.

    So I’m going to savor each day. I’m going to “use up” each minute before it passes.

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    My new phone

    For years and years we were out-of-date with our cell service. Our phone was about ten years old (an old flip phone), which we paid for with a monthly $15.60 pay as you go payment which gave us very few minutes.

    On the 30th of June, we signed up for Verizon’s two-member famiy plan and bought two high end phones and a usb modem which plugs into my laptop and brings in high speed internet.

    John got a fairly basic LG Chocolate Touch (with internet and email access), and for me, smart phone, a Samsung Droid Charge (with all the bells and whistles available). Neither of us are into texting so we didn’t bother signing up for that extra service.

    We had problems with each of the two phones. John’s was DOA so he had to get a replacement. Mine worked fine, but had a major overheat problem and ate battery charges at a rate that was unbelievable (at best, two hours per charge). But now both phones have been replaced and they’re working perfectly. We’re happy. The service from Verizon has been excellent. I’ve spent hours with customer representatives and all the folks have been quick to respond (no wait times on customer service). They’ve all been well equipped to answer my questions and give me the kind of service you don’t often receive.

    Now that things are purring, I realize I enjoyed the visits with those nice folks.

    Maybe I should just call them up to say hello.

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    We are going to Relax!

    John and I are realizing that our summer has been really demanding and we have limited energy. We helped all we could with Evart, and although we’ve been home nearly a week, we’re still tired. Coming up, we have fun commitments to our dulcimer club, Saginaw Subterranean Strings, including a long camping weekend in August and some performances, but that’s it! The rest of the summer, until we leave for Florida, will be calm and tranquil. We deserve it.

    We haven’t been to our Upper Peninsula retreat since last July. We have a trip planned for late August, if we’re able.

    Florida, with its relaxed attitude, is We look forward to quiet time, but with lots of activities and friends we enjoy at our Florida home.

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    Super HOT!

    I know my blog is followed by several of our Florida friends. They generally think of Michigan as the ice box of the country. Comments are frequently made that we are in the “cold” north.

    Well, this week would change their minds. It’s dern HOT (92) right now, with a prediction to go to 95 this afternoon. There are “Excessive Heat” warnings on the weather sites.

    I checked the reports on Sun City Center and they haven’t been spared. The temperature is the same (92) but the feels-like temperature is a cooler 101 compared to our 109 feels like temp and they have the pool. Also they are expecting a cool-down into the 70’s about 5:00 when rain moves through.

    We’re staying inside with the A/C running at a comfy 76 degrees. Our plan is avoid going out. We invited a friend over who doesn’t have A/C. It’s just miserable if you can’t escape it.

    John went outside a while ago and after about 15 minutes gave up because it was really hard to breathe. The humidity really gets to you.

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