Archive for2011-10 to 2012 – We’re in Friendly Florida

On the well-traveled road

We’ve been on the road north for a couple of hours (left about 8:15 a.m.)

As we were departing, we passed Sherry, Diane, Shelly, Linda and Ron on their morning walk. It felt like they were “seeing us off” and I couldn’t help but think that it was a good way to start our trip back to Michigan.

I don’t know which place to refer to as “home.”

We arrived in Florida on October 6th. Here it is May 6th, and we’ll leaving to go back the Great Lakes State. That means 213 days in Florida and 152 in Michigan. When in Michigan, we will spend time away from home. (About 13 days at the ODPC Funfest, a day at White Lake, 3 days in Gladwin at Carriage Days, and possibly some time in the U.P. That gives a total of 152 days in Florida and approximately 128 days in our Michigan house.

Last night we attended a Kentucky Derby Party presented by the Michigan Club. It was a nice evening.

When we got home we finished our packing. At about 8:05, we hopped on our golf cart and went out to look for the “super moon” which had been hyped as the biggest, brightest moon for 2012. Found a nice place to take photos without the clutter of condos.

After finishing up a few last minute packing chores, we turned in early.

I didn’t sleep well. From about 2:30 until 5:30, I was awake. I realized I was coming down with a cold. I was stuffed-up and miserable. Today I still have all the symptoms. It’s either a cold or bad allergies. Guess I can be miserable while riding back to Michigan just like any other place. At least here, if I’m sick, I don’t feel as if I’m missing fun.

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Until we meet again

As the date for our spring departure from our Florida condo approaches, I’m already eagerly looking forward to our return.

But we can be flexible. Maybe could get away in mid-September, or maybe it’ll be as late as mid-October. A lot will depend on the weather since it could be lovely with beautiful fall color or, as in many Michigan autumns, it may be cold and wet.

John’s grapes often dictate when we can leave. After he harvests them, he squishes them into juice. We then bring the carboys of grape juice with us and he processes the juice into wine in Florida.

We must be here by mid-October. Both of us have doctors’ appointments. Mine is an important follow-up to my eye surgeries. My surgeon wanted me to come in the first of June. Since we won’t be here, I have an appointment for October 16th. If I get back earlier, I’ll move it up.

John loves it up north. When I talk up our great Florida life too much, he tends to become defensive more firmly committed to be in Michigan. I’ll be patient and not appear too eager. Our place in Florida is paradise but so is our Michigan home. Looking ahead to the weather we can expect in Michigan next week, I’m seeing low 60’s with rain Tuesday, when we get home. That hardly compares to Sun City Center, FL, where it’ll be in the 80’s with sun and pool time every day from now until we return in the fall. I just need to let the Michigan versus Florida decisions resolve naturally.

I guess I shouldn’t complain about having two lovely residences where we are very comfortable.

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Being Silly

At last night’s Oldies But Goodies dance someone discovered that the red wax cover on Baby Bell cheese works great as a clown nose. We got pretty silly but it was fun. Our friend, Stephen, took the photo (below).


There were 20 of us at two tables next to each other. We had a very nice time. Three of the couples will be leaving early this next week so we had lots of hugs and good-byes. (John and I have only a week before we head north but we’ll be able to say good-bye at the Michigan Club’s Kentucky Derby Party on the 5th.)

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My Photo Book

Here’s a link to a book I had printed of some of my Florida photos. This isn’t an advertisement for the service I used. I just want to make the photos available for you to see.

Our Florida, my photo book.

The first copy they printed had a slight defect in the binding, but it was redone at no cost to me, and I was allowed to keep both. I was very pleased. I will have one in Michigan and one here in Florida. Both will be coffee table books.

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Creative Writing Club

Yesterday I attended the Creative Writing Club for the first time this year. The format of the “meeting” is very relaxed. We gather around a table and read things we’ve written. I selected three brief essays from my posts.

  • Arguing with My GPS – posted February 3, 2012
  • How Old Am I? – posted September 23, 2011
  • Too Nice – posted November 17, 2011

    These weren’t “ha-ha” funny, but rather a look at life through my eyes.

    I totally enjoyed hearing the contributions others brought to the meeting. What a great group of unique people! I’m sorry I haven’t attended more of their twice monthly sessions.

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    Farewell Party

    John and Ron CookingToday about 25 of us got together for a “farewell party” before any more left for the summer.

    Linda Ringenback was the hostess with the help of Renay Andren. Linda’s husband, Ron, was in charge of the grill with my husband, John, as his assistant. It was held in the gazebo at the North Clubhouse. The facility is lovely. The clubhouse provided a large grill, ice, tables, and chairs. It was much easier on the hosts to have it in there.

    The meal was great! a wonderful spread of bar-be-qued chicken, hot dogs, sausage, a lovely salad, lots of great desserts, hor devours, vegetable salad, layered jello. Everything was really good. We had rain and cool temperatures about noon, but it cleared up and was lovely.

    What a great bunch of friends!

    We’d planned to go swimming, but the weather didn’t cooperate so we stayed in the gazebo.

    Janet and SherryIn the above photo, you can see Ron and John on the grill and Janet Outhwaite and Sherry Walker in the lower picture.

    It sounds like everyone would be agreeable to putting on a gathering (or several of them) next year. Two or three couples could host each of these events. It’s lots less work than doing it in your home.

    We even did a little dancing to music provided by our friends, Bill and Donna Markland.

    Janet and Doug are leaving Tuesday, Caroline and Stephen this next week, and others will soon follow.

    The weather up north is reported to be miserable anyway, so we sure aren’t anxious to leave here until it’s warmer there, but according to the forecast, that will happen by May 8th, when we plan to arrive at our Michigan home.

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    Two weeks….

    What to do? What to do?? So much to accomplish, so little time.

    Yesterday I cancelled our first night motel reservations because, after reading the confirmation, I discovered that any changes/cancellations would have to be made by noon the day before. That just wouldn’t do. What if we had bad weather and decided postpone our departure by a day or two?

    So I called the motel to cancel the reservation I’d made a couple of weeks ago. I got an understanding front desk worker who told me I needed to cancel the reservation through the website where I’d made them. Then if I’d call him back, he’d make sure we got the same room, same deal, without the absurd penalty in case we needed to make last minute changes. He also put us in their “prime room” (Room 123) on the first floor because that’s where they prefer to put senior citizens. I guess there are a few perks to reaching “maturity.”

    There are a lot of things I need to do before we leave. In addition to motel reservations, I need to print coupons for restaurant discounts and since most of those have less than a two week “use by” restriction, I need to wait to do them. There are also things to do for both here and for Saginaw: newspapers delivery, magazines subscriptions, car insurance (currently we have our truck and Malibu in “storage.” When we head back, the Jaguar will be “stored.” Before we leave, our lanai furniture will need to be moved to the garage, refrigerator cleaned out, stuff stored in the refrigerator, all the last-minute laundry done, and of course packing.

    Just before we take of, I’ll take photos of everything in drawers, closets, the pantry, and refrigerator. It helps to know where items are when we look for them and we aren’t sure if we left them in Florida or if they’re in Saginaw.

    Packing is difficult. I always take back too much stuff, but miss the items I need.

    Some years I’ve tested the “take it all back with me” theory and other times, I’ve tried leaving everything in Florida. This year, I think I’ll go with a moderate approach. I’ll bring back my favorites, but leave an ample wardrobe in Florida so I could “get by,” if we decided to fly in instead of driving.

    I maintain a packing list. The list has a column to indicate what will make the “round trip” and what will go north and stay there.

    Eventually I hope to have it all figured out so the process is smoother and I actually know what I need to take back. As it is, I’ll probably take the wrong stuff and wish I had items that I left behind.

    This year, I’m doing one thing differently. I’ve always left behind modems, routers, and printers so everything was working when I walked in the condo. But I’m toting my favorite Lexmark all-in-one printer back and forth with me this time. It uses ink more efficiently than any other printer I own, but I’ve found a lot evaporates when I leave it in Florida over the summer. I’m going to box it up and take it back. It’s the only printer I own that works wirelessly and I hate to revert to cables. (I have a total of five working printers!)

    I also need to have my Original Dulcimer Players Club workshop scheduling materials printed out and/or loaded in my computer so I can work on the huge scheduling task while we drive the 1,300 miles northward.

    So I have two weeks to get it all done. And between now and when we leave, I need to absorb enough fun and sun to carry me through until we can get back to this paradise!

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    Lovebugs are back

    love bugsYup! No doubt about it. They’re here and pesky. They don’t bite, buzz or stink, but they’re annoying because there are so many of them.

    And when you drive through them, they stick to your car. Their bodies contain a substance that will eat through your paint surface. So the only ones who like these pests are car washing businesses.

    You see them flying around in tandem. The female pulls the male around.

    Usually they appear twice a year, spring and fall. The fall hatching this year was small but last year’s spring appearance was larger than anyone could remember. Hope we don’t have a repeat this year. (Last year they were so overwhelming that folks just stayed inside.)

    It’s somehow just not right for them to flaunt their sexuality so blatanly.

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    The back (inside) of the refrigerator

    When they leave their condos for long periods, some folks clean out their refrigerator completely and shut off the power to it. We don’t. We’ve been told that refrigerators last longer if they aren’t put through the trauma of being shut off and turned on again with hot and cold extremes. So we will try to use up the food that’s currently filling the unit, but ketshup, mustard, salad dressings, and other staples will be left in the refrigerator and some items will be in the freezer.

    I’m think that it might be good to store non-food stuff in the freezer or refrigerator. Aspirin, perfume, vitamins, cold products, even shampoo, cream rinse, and liquid detergents might do well in the refrigerator. We’ve found those items are affected by heat and leaving them in the condo shortens their shelf-life. (With liquids like shampoo, they tend to “thicken.” Hopefully that’ll mean we’ll have more success keeping items from being wasted when we come back in the fall.

    When we return in September or October, we’ll make sure we have a frozen pizza and maybe some coffee to tide us over until we can get to the store.

    John, who’s our cook, is trying to use up all of the perishables. Between now and when we leave, we’ll try to make sure everything is consumed. John was looking into the refrigerator tonight commented that he can now see the inside (back) of it. We’re getting there!

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    Are they back?

    Last May we heard that the lovebugs had arrived in mass!!! Everyone complained that they spoiled everything that was outdoors.

    I just saw a couple pairs of them. I sure hope they won’t disrupt our last three weeks down here!!

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    Neglected Plants

    I remember the first time I walked to the little ravine behind my mother’s condo and saw huge philodendron plants climbing up large trees. I was sure my mother had taken houseplants and had disposed of them in the ravine. But now I realize philodendron plants grow in the wild around here.

    Of course, some are planted purposefully, and when cultivated, they can “take over” the area.

    We have a sidewalk that runs along the side of our condo from our driveway to the main entrance. There are split-leaf philodendrons in the space between the sidewalk and the house. John keeps them trimmed-back, but when we return in the fall, we’ll have to fight our way through them to get to the door. They grow so fast that sometimes I think that if I watch carefully I can see them increase in size.

    The weather encourages growth in this part of Florida. But plants are sensitive. Sometimes the heat is too much, and the rare winter frosts can kill them. If it’s not the heat or the frost, I can often find a way to “do them in.”

    We brought three orchids back down with us when we returned in October. We’d purchased some of them in Florida, and some in Michigan. They haven’t done anything this season. I totally ignored them. John figured he’d just stick them in the ground where they will receive enough moisture and maybe, with luck, they’d eventually fluorish. But surprise! When he got ready to plant them, he discovered one is covered with buds (eight of them.) My neglect paid off.

    arboricolaWe brought a tiny 3″ potted poinsettia one year when we came down. After the holiday, we stuck it in the ground. When we returned the following year, it was nearly 2′ high covered with lovely flowers. By the next year, it was HUGE! The frost got that one a couple years ago, but we planted two this year, and hopefully when we come back in October, they’ll still be growing.

    The heat of summer can also “do in” a plant. A newly-planted bird of paradise was dead when we came back last fall, but our “foundation plantings” are surviving nicely. They’re two-tone arbicola (the photo on the left). The ones down here are lovely, while the potted ones we have up north are scrawny even though we make sure they are watered while we’re away.

    We’ve given up having “house plants.” They don’t do well when we leave them alone. We had a nice 5′ palm tree which we tried moving outside thinking it would grow over the summer, but because it was newly planted, the hot summer almost did it in. It’s just now coming back but it’s still only about 18″ tall.

    So some plants survive nicely and others don’t make it. It’ll be nice when we figure out which is which.

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    Florida’s smoking policy doesn’t go far enough!!!

    I am hoping that someday Florida’s smoking laws will be changed to match Michigan’s.

    Michigan would not allow many of the practices which we see in Florida..

    Example: At our clubhouse, smoking is allowed on patios, even those where we buy food. In Michigan, that would not be permitted. The Great Lakes State’s rule states that if food is served OR CONSUMED in an area, there can be NO smoking (patios are covered by the ban). Anyplace where a food or liquor license is involved.

    I hate having to stand in line in an area where folks are smoking, but that’s how it works at the South Club in our Kings Point community. The smoking area is clearly an area where folks consume food, and in fact it’s where we buy food. A definite Michigan no-no!

    Here in Florida we can’t go to the Moose Club, because it’s sooooooo smoky. You walk in the door, and it engulfs you. They will say that they have a smoking area (the bar area), so they think they’re helping the non-smokers, but there are large open doorways between the areas, and the food ordering area is in the smoking zone.

    Instead we go to the Elks Lodge because they have banned all smoking. In Michigan, all private clubs come under the rules. If they serve food at all, they cannot allow smoking.

    And how do Florida folks think that having a “smoking area” works? Smoke can’t read signs. When folks at the next table are smoking, who is convinced that the smoke stops at the sign?

    Somehow smokers think that the “outside” belongs to them. If they are “outside” they can light up. But smoke outside is every bit as annoying as inside. (Especially when the air is heavy or humid, smoke settles close to the ground and doesn’t disburse.)

    In Kings Point, there are lots of times when the smoke carries over the pool deck from the smoking area, and is really bad in the pool (because of the way the air moves). Also all of us have to pass through the designated smoking area to enter the clubhouse.

    Here are Michigan’s rules:

    I wonder when Florida will become more considerate of non-smokers. For many of us, it’s not a matter of just our “discomfort.” I am very allergic and lose my voice (sometimes for several days) after being exposed to tobacco smoke and my husband, John, has a lung problem. For him it’s life-threatening. It’s not just disliking the smell.

    We were at a pool party the other day (at a private pool). Three smokers “lit up”. (There were about 30 of us.) My voice started failing me, so we left. (Actually that situation would not have been covered by Michigan’s law because there was no food or liquor license for the area where the party was being held but the smokers at the party may have been made more aware if they were accustomed to following rules for smoking that were more strict.)

    I suppose some would think John could benefit when I lose my voice. He’d have peace and quiet. But neither of us can tolerate exposure to smoke.

    Florida, with all your senior citizens, you should be leading the way. Let’s hope you wise up and protect your residents and guests.

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    I’m Wife #9

    John and I enjoy Wednesday country couples dance classes instructed by Bill Markland. We will have two more weekly classes and then, with Bill heading north, we’ll have to wait until next November for them to resume.

    Donna, Bill’s wife and partner, hurt her shoulder this year, so he’s had to ask several other women to be his substitute “wife/partner” to demonstrate the dances for the class. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been “wife #9.” John was out of commission last week because of his sore leg so he couldn’t dance anyway and I was “available,” but tonight John was back in good form, so I was dancing with Bill for the demos, and then, when the couples worked on their dances, I’d do them with John. That meant I was dancing constantly. It was really fun, and I’m not complaining at all, but we also attended the second hour which is a more advanced class so I danced for nearly two solid hours.

    John said it was good exercise for me and it was. And it was a good time (Bill’s an excellent partner and fun to dance with), but by the end I was dragging.

    Being Bill’s partner was fun and I learned from the experience. I think John liked having me singled out. Glad I don’t have to choose one role, because I’ll always be John’s but I’d hate to have missed being Bill’s Wife #9.

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    Oak Trees

    It’s my understanding that the shade-producing live oak trees which we find all over Kings Point are there because of an agreement.

    When Del Webb developed Sun City Center, he took a swampy wet-land area and drained it. Of course, there were many ecological concerns. Mr. Webb was granted permission provided he would plant “live oaks” which were considered “native” vegetation.

    The area is heavily planted with these trees which are generally festooned with Spanish moss.oak trees

    So what’s the problem?

    Well, in the spring these trees produce massive amounts of yellow pollen, and they’re a very “dirty” tree dropping lots of little leaves and at one time during the season, lots of acorns. We blow away the leaves, we sweep up the acorns, but the pollen is out of our control. It causes severe allergies and covers everything, including our vehicles, with yellow “dust.”

    I found the following information explains why we view the shady oak trees as a mixed blessing.

    Oh, those bloomin’ Florida oak trees . . .easy to love, but so tough to live with
    Posted on February 24, 2012 by Stephen J. Klemawesch, MD

    If you live in Florida you might develop paranoia about oak trees and allergy. Our prodigious oak tree population accounts for the most severe form of our pollen seasons – spring tree season.

    They also provide a home for a special type of fire ant that can drop down on people to sting them. Finally, they can also be a source of Pyemotes herfsi, the oak leaf itch mite. This mite belongs to the biological class Arachnida (which includes all spiders), and to the subclass Acarina. All of the members of this class have 8 legs. Unlike spiders, however, these mites are extremely small – 0.2 millimeters – and are difficult to see with the naked eye.

    They fall off the oak leaves on to unsuspecting people and cause a bite that is extremely itchy. The resultant rash is a red, raised area about the size of a mosquito bite, but with a tiny central pustule or blister.

    The agreement to save the mighty oak allowed Mr. Webb to develop the area. Now we’re stuck with them.

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    Palm Trees

    One of the symbols of Florida is the palm tree.

    I read up on palms in the “sunshine state” and discovered that there are 27 varieties that grow in the “wild” and a couple thousand “imports.” Of course, here in our Kings Point community, they come from tree farms so we have thousands and each seems unique.

    palms around the pool
    At the South Club pool, where I spend a great deal of my time, there is a nice variety of palms. I find myself mesmerized by them. In my opinion, the prettiest is one has fronds that look like feathers which is the tallest one on the right side of the above picture.

    For the past week or so, a huge black bird (maybe it’s a crow or raven) has been building a nest high in one of the taller palms (shown on the left side of the above photo). He’s still determinedly dragging building materials up to the top of that tree. I’d love to see what his “home” looks like. It’s got to be huge!!

    There’s a wonderful variety of palms. Some are well over 100 feet tall, some look like pineapple tops, some grow in low bunches. There are those with ball shaped tops, others with only a frond or two. Rough trunks, smooth trunks, cross-hatched trunks. All pleasures for the eye.

    After the hurricanes in 2004, many of the trees were damaged, but surprisingly most survived wind force that would have cleared-out vegetation in the north. When I came down here right after the storms, I was surprised how they’d “weathered the storm” but some were pushed over at odd angles. You can still see a couple of these crooked reminders along Sun City Boulevard (SR 674).

    Palms are a lovely back-drop to our life here in sunny Florida.
    florida palms

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    Condo Changes

    Back in October, I wrote a post about looking at other condos versus staying put. Here’s my earlier blog post In that article, I explained our thinking about the pros and cons of upgrading to a larger condo. So where do we stand now?

    We decided to stay here. But since the condo had some “problems,” we made some major improvements: Porcelain tile was installed everywhere in our condo except in our master bedroom, where we left carpeting. We even installed slate-looking tile on the lanai. We bought four nice barstools for the counter between the great room and the kitchen. We had a lovely tiled shower built in the master bathroom.

    So what about next year? What are our plans?

    We started to “rearrange” our guest room so it can be used as a music room, but the bed still occupies most of the space. We need to replace/remove the bed. When we come back in the fall, we’ll either bring a futon or an inflatable bed with a folding frame that makes the queen-size air mattress “standard bed height.” We have both a futon and the inflatable at our home in Michigan and could get by without them there.

    When we were talking about buying a larger place, my daughter (who is most apt to visit) commented that she felt we’d be better off making our current guest room multi-purpose. She was the one to suggest that we use an inflatable bed. When the bed is stored away, the room will definitely accommodate our instruments with space to spare. Probably we’ll go with the blow-up mattress because the futon will be hard to transport (and the futon mattress is only standard-size while the inflatable is a queen.)

    The current dresser and chest of drawers are part of the “very dated” set with the bed. I’d like to junk them all and buy simple storage pieces like those they sell at Ikea. (I definitely need lots of drawer space for bathing suits and sweaters.)

    In addition to the guest room furniture, we definitely need to replace the two antique recliners in the living room as well as the lanai furniture. The “office area” needs to have more cupboards added and the existing ones painted white.

    But next year, the big project will be replacing the window in the great room with the wonderful view. We can either put in slider doors across the whole end, or windows that don’t have the multiple “bars” and come down to about a foot from the floor. It would make such a difference and I’d be able to watch the pond while seated on the sofa!

    We need to replace our dishwasher with one that’s black and quieter. The master bathroom still needs additional storage/cabinets. To do everything will take time. We’re doing it all slowly. The guest room and the great room window are my priorities, but we’re comfortable even if we don’t do anything further.

    We’re really glad we didn’t move. The place may be smaller than we’d like, but the view is unequaled. (Eight of the photos I’m including in my coffeetable photo book photos which were mentioned prominently in yesterday’s post were the view out our great room window.)

    When seated in our great room, we are far enough from other condos, that we really can’t see other people closely enough to recognize them. (We’re more than a city block from those condos in our view. Only when golfers are teeing off from the short tee directly behind our condo, can we “see” individuals and that’s only early in the day. Actually watching the golfers is a sport of its own and I’d miss it, if we didn’t have their antics to observe.

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    More fun stuff!

    We’ve been totally enjoying our time in Florida.

    Just since last Tuesday (a week ago today), we’ve attended a pool party and a ballroom dance (both on Tuesday evening), a Sportsman’s club meeting and couples dance class Wednesday, a trip to Busch Gardens Thursday where we enjoyed Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis (formerly lead singers for the Fifth Dimension) followed by an evening of dancing, Friday an early dinner meeting with our financial adviser, My booka Saturday potluck dinner, a music jam at the home of friends and a 50’s and 60’s dance Sunday, a chorus practice and dance class Monday, and tonight a lip sync show. And nearly every morning John’s played pickleball, I’ve gone to the pool, and he’s attended a couple pickleball clinics. Whew! We’re trying to crowd in everything.

    Somehow I also found time to edit a coffeetable photo book which I submitted for private publication. The cover’s the photo on the right. You can see the pictures by clicking the link: Coffeetable photos. It’ll be a nice way to recall the good times we’ve spent down here.

    We’ll be going home on May 6th or 7th. We want to have all the fun we can.

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    Can’t do anything about the weather

    Today I posted to Facebook: “Is anyone else beside me worried about the impact of this warm weather? I fear the lack of snow will lower the Great Lakes even further (they’re already low). We have a place in the U.P. and I fear our Lake Michigan shoreline beach will never “return.” And what about mold and bugs (black flies, ticks, etc.) that are usually killed off by the winter cold? The apple, cherry and grape crops (along with all the other fruits grown in Michigan) will be devastated, if there’s a cold spell now. And I’ve heard the winter wheat did not germinate as it would have if there’d been a normal winter. Even here in Florida, where we had a warmer than normal winter, I see the increase in bugs and little critters. Yes, we’ve had lovely temps, more than 10 degrees on average warmer here in Florida, but we may pay the price.”

    A California friend replied, “Yes, I am worried…our town depends on the snow, and we haven’t had much this year :(”

    And a friend from the Traverse City area said, “We need water badly. The fire danger is high. Our hotels, restaurants and retail establishments had a very rough season. I am seeing a few more ‘closed until May’ signs than other years. I think the bugs will be very bad this year as there is usually a bit of a kill off with the cold weather.”

    She said, “You are very correct that this year will be different. We cannot worry about it, as it will happen. Worry should only be spent on that which we can change.”

    And one optimistic response said, “The Earth will be fine – it has withstood global greenhouse, global ice age, toxic atmosphere, meteor assaults, crashing of the continents, and at least two mass extinctions. In 10,000 years none of this will matter.”

    Yes, life will go on, but we will probably “pay” for the warm weather we are currently enjoying.

    We can’t do anything to change it and it doesn’t do any good to worry, but we will need be prepared to respond in appropriate ways.

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    The Lost is Found!

    Today I was determined to find two “mislaid” items (which have been missing for a couple months): a USB thumb drive and my Edirol digital recorder. It took about an hour of searching.

    The recorder is only about 4″ x 2.5″ x 1″ so it’s not a large item. (About the size of a deck of cards.) It was stored in a fitted black leather case. The thumb drive less than 3″ long and only about an inch wide and 3/8″ thick. I knew they were both here…. someplace.

    It’s funny how I over overlooked a small compartment in my computer bag where the USB drive was hiding. And, with the recorder, I’d forgotten that we out-grew ONE shoebox-size plastic box so, before we left Michigan, I added a second box to hold some of the recording equipment.

    There were TWO IDENTICAL shoebox-size plastic storage boxes stored under a dresser in the guestroom. I kept going back to the front shoe box, but I was only looking in the first of the two. The second box was pushed out of view but once I remembered there were two, it was easy to find the recorder.

    The lost is now found. Feels good!

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    Soon We’ll Head Home

    John and I have loved our months down here. We arrived October 6th. Originally our plan was to leave for Michigan about April the 27th. But as that date approaches, we’ve found reasons to delay our departure.

    John has pointed out that traffic at the end of April will be heavier than a few days later because many snowbirds who rent pay through the end of the month and then clog the northbound highways. Besides we have an “Oldies but Goodies” dance on April the 29th.

    There’s also a Michigan Club Kentucky Derby Party on the 5th of May that sounds like a lot of fun!

    But we really should leave for Michigan by the 7th or 8th of May at the latest since John has a doctor’s appointment on the 11th which we’ve already changed once.

    We’ll see. Every day is precious when we know we’re “short timers.”

    We’ll need to decide before April 1st because our mail forwarding ends on April 4th. Mail forwarding cannot be established at a “temporary” address for longer than six months so when I set up our forwarding on October 4th, I had to set the return date no later than April 4th. I can CANCEL that temporary forwarding and set a new return date, but I’d like to be certain that what I set up is accurate. We can have the post office “hold our mail” for up to 30 days, so I could cancel the forwarding and put in a “hold” but it’s not convenient for us to go to the post office about 10 miles away.

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    I need a secretary

    Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s I was a secretary for several product managers at Dow Chemical Company. I booked their trips and rooms, filed their papers, covered for them with their wives, and brought them coffee.

    Later in the 1980’s I worked for the Saginaw Gears Hockey, again as a secretary, this time to the owner, Wren Blair. (I did everything from taking his car to a car wash, picking up his dry cleaning, and renting a condo for him.) He was demanding but I learned a lot.

    But by the time I worked at Saginaw Valley as the Supervisor of Secretaries and later when I worked as secretary for the Vice President of St. Mary’s Medical Center, I could see that “secretaries” were being phased out. They were becaming “assistants.” Somehow “secretary” became an antiquated term and those remaining “secretaries” expected a defined “job description.” No longer were they versatile.

    Whatever the current title, I need someone to get me organized. Today I was looking for a thumb drive. I know I loaned it out a month or so ago but it was returned. Now I have no idea where it is. And I can’t find some important documents and I’m hoping we can get everything together for taxes.

    I know we’re not organized. We need help. We/I need an old-fashioned, help-me-do-everything, SECRETARY or assistant, or whatever your call them. I don’t need someone who won’t make coffee because it’s not in her job description. I need someone who will “take charge” and fix the mess our paper work is in. I need someone who will clean-up my work area when I don’t feel like it and search for papers when I’m too tired.

    What I need is a good old fashioned SECRETARY! Do they still exist?

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    Feeling Secure

    Everyone has their own items that make them feel secure. Maybe it’s an especially soft pillow you love. Maybe it’s the smell of a pot roast cooking. Maybe you feel safe when you have a pot of money in the bank (or under your mattress). Everyone has their own ways of feeling comfortable and safe. (I think for guys it’s the feeling that their car just got a 10-point check-up, or maybe a full tank of gas, a new spare tire and jumper cables in the trunk.)

    For me it’s toilet paper. I really love having a large stash of toilet paper (or, as I say when I’m feeling “classy,” … toilet tissue.)

    Side note: Is it toilet “paper” or toilet “tissue”? I vote for toilet paper. In my teen years, I remember some kids vandalizing the “popular kids’ houses by throwing rolls of toilet paper in the trees at their homes. That was called, “Getting TP-ed,” not “TT-ed”.)

    I am most comfortable with a whole supply of TP and other paper products in the house. Napkins, kleenex, even an ample supply of paper for my printer helps add to my security.

    Yesterday, on my birthday, we went shopping at Sam’s Club in Riverview. John got us a 36-count triple-roll package of my favorite brand of toilet paper, Charmin Ultra Soft.

    I’m content.

    Ok, so it sounds like I’m telling too much information about me, but it has nothing to do with bodily functions. It’s more to do with knowing that you have what is necessary to make your home feel complete.

    At home in Michigan, we have three bathrooms plus a fifth wheel parked beside our house with another toilet (and I generally tuck away a huge quantity in the fifth wheel in closets and under counters so that we’re never short when we’re using that home-away-from-home.) Here in our Florida condo, we have only two “facilities.” Somehow knowing that we don’t have the same “fall back” provisions we can resort to (steal from) bothers me here.

    But with his purchase yesterday, John solved the problem until we head home at the end of April.

    Come to think of it, when we came down here in October, I brought all we had from our home in Michigan, so I’ll need to bring back an emergency supply until we can get to the store.

    Side note number two: I thought this was just my quirk, but I have a good friend who admitted to me that she too needs an over abundance of paper products for comfort. — Ok, we’re weird.

    Maybe in my childhood I was deprived, although I don’t recall any such trauma. We were a typical ’50’s family with a three bedroom, one bathroom house.

    But somewhere my security blanket has become a stash of TP.

    And right now I’m happy!!

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    My Next “Big” Birthday

    Yesterday was my birthday. Now I can brag/complain that on my next “big” birthday, I’ll be 80. Wow, that’s old!! Of course, if I don’t get a shocked expression from the person I’m talking to I’ll never speak to them again… ever!

    But yesterday, on my 70th, enjoyed a nice (quiet) birthday.

    There was a great sale at Beall’s (my favorite Florida store), so after noon I went shopping alone (so I didn’t have to worry about John getting bored). Found some cute stuff: white capris that fit like a dream, black city shorts, turquoise glitzy top (wore last night), bright striped sheer top with a camisole, and a short black and white versatile dress.

    Since our membership is about to expire, we went to Sam’s Club in Riverview for some items which we always purchase there.

    Then we met a group of ten friends (the Conklins, Brooks, Coopers, Ringenbacks, and Bakers) at Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. It was fun. Cindy brought a cute little plant for me, and Stephen re-gifted his Bonita Fruitville calendar. I was honored since Bonita was the “star” of the Drag Queen Bingo Friday night and she’d personally presented it to Stephen (aka “Ralph”). (Unfortunately in a typical senior moment, the calendar was left in a box on the table, but I called the restaurant and it’s being held for me in their safe until I can stop and claim it.)

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    Drag Queen Bingo

    An evening with friends in Sarasota at the Golden Apple Dinner Theater. Really different experience. It wasn’t what we expected and not really our “cup of tea” but we were with a great bunch of good sports. “Ralph” won a bottle of wine and got a hug from one of the “ladies.” John was wished a happy birthday.

    Everyone always teases us about going to Florida where the “old folks” do nothing but play bingo. Finally got to play… “Drag Queen Bingo.” I won’t say more. We promised that whatever happened at Drag Queen Bingo stayed at Drag Queen Bingo.

    Didn’t get home until after midnight, high on iced tea. (Couldn’t sleep.)

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    John’s Birthday March 1st

    John’s birthday last night was a great reason to celebrate but, because we’re going out with friends tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday, we decided to celebrate the actually day with just the two of us.

    We went dancing at the clubhouse from 4:00-5:45. By then we were hungry. We’d heard about a place that serves freshly caught fish located in Ruskin. It’s a carry-out place with seating in front but our plan was to get our dinners as “carry-out” and take our meals to watch the sun set over Tampa Bay at our favorite sunset site, Little Harbor.

    The place was packed, a fun atmosphere! Our food took a while but while waiting we chatted with other diners.

    Being a blabbermouth, I had mentioned to the lady taking our order that it was John’s birthday (so he got his choice of a dessert, keylime pie). When they had our order ready she announced the occasion over the mic and the whole crowd, about 40-50 friendly diners, sang to him.

    We’d been watching the sun slip behind the trees on its way to the horizon. As soon as the food came, we dashed to the car and as quickly as we could, we drove to Little Harbor. We just barely caught the setting sun over Tampa Bay. It was lovely!
    Little Harbor
    After the sun had set, we returned to our car overlooking the bay where we ate our great fresh fish dinners, and drank a glass of wine. It was definitely different than any other birthday celebration but sometimes those that are “different” are the most memorable.

    By 7:30 we were back home where John cut his German chocolate birthday cake.

    Tonight we’re going to Sarasota to take in “Drag Queen Bingo” in Sarasota with about 15 folks. Then Saturday we have a Baby Boomers dance and Sunday we’ll again enjoy birthday celebrating at Ruby Tuesday’s with a bunch of our friends.

    John loved his birthday celebration.

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    Finally feeling better

    Both John and I have had bad colds for about three weeks. Mine’s been better for the past couple of days, but John had to go to the doctor yesterday to get a prescription to help with his sinus congestion. He’s feeling better today but still not 100%.

    But I’m ok, still an occasional cough, but nothing I can complain about. Now that I feel that I’ve licked the cold, I have a new problem. I sprained/twisted my right knee a little over a week ago (when we were at Busch Gardens last Friday). I’ve been babying it. Probably should have gone to the doctor, but I’m sure he would have told me to do what I’m doing: apply Biofreeze (or ice it), wrap it when I must walk, and stay off it as much as possible.

    I miss my walks to and from the pool, but I learned by doing it one day that, until it totally heals, I need to avoid long walks. And when we dance, I need to have an ace bandage wrap.

    Tomorrow it’s supposed to be rather rainy and cool, but Monday and next week, we’ll enjoy 80’s. The pool and sunshine will help more than anything to get rid of all our “bugs.”

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    Better?? Naw!!

    By mid-week I thought I felt pretty good. Wednesday I washed my hair, put a little color, and went to the country couples class. And then again on Thursday, we went to Rockin’ Rendezvous (aka Throwback Thursday). Both activities were fun and I felt pretty good, but last night (Thursday night) I got practically no sleep. (At about 4:00 a.m. I finally got up because, while reclining, I was going into coughing fits.)

    Today I’ve been all stuffed up and coughing a lot.

    We had an invitation to Caroline and Stephen Cooper’s tonight for a house party/dinner. I was really looking forward to it, but I knew that no one would appreciate my presence if I continually sneezed and coughed. So I decided to stay home. (We have other parties tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, and I’d hate to miss them all.)

    John was feeling better, so I encouraged him to go, especially since he’d baked dozens of cookies to take to the party. (At first John didn’t want to go alone but the host, Stephen, talked him into coming.)

    So he’s at the Coopers. I’m home alone. But it’s the right thing. If anyone got sick, I’d be blamed for spreading my bug. I feel better here.

    He said he’ll bring back dinner to me but I’m not hungry anyway. (I’ve been filling up on wine.)

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    Feeling Poorly

    I was sorta disappointed that we didn’t have plans for Super Bowl Sunday, but last night we both started feeling rotten and when we got up this morning we both had head colds.

    My eye lids are horribly swollen. I couldn’t open my eyes normally this morning and the swelling went clear up into my tear duct. Now I can see ok, and the lids are down to about 1/4″ thick but I’m still sick and so is John. (He’s coughing and sneezing.)

    We canceled today’s planned practice with the Conklins for our two up-coming performances. They are nearly two weeks away so there’s still time. We’ll get together Tuesday or Thursday. We weren’t about to expose them to our “bug.”

    So we lazed around all day, and had a nice dinner. As we were cleaning up from our meal, I bumped my wine glass and it hit the tile floor. The glass was everywhere. Hopefully we got it all, but we will have to check again tomorrow when it’s light.

    My plans are to take more Cold-Eze and get to bed early.

    We’re watching the Super Bowl now.

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    Arguing with my GPS

    My smart phone has decent GPS services.

    Yesterday John and I went to to Tampa Bay Downs racetrack. As we pulled out of Kings Point I put in our destination address: 11225 Race Track Drive, Tampa, FL. The GPS responded and we dutifully followed the instructions, listening to the female voice. Unfortunately following her instructions took us onto a toll road and John wasn’t happy. He was sure we could have avoided paying the fee, if we’d taken a different route. And as we approached the race track, she had us turn right rather than left, so we had to backtrack. John wasn’t happy.

    So on the route home, we didn’t follow her instructions. Instead we defied her!

    We intentionally kept going on Hillsborough Ave. even when she said we should turn, and we didn’t get on the Memorial Highway, even when she told us to. We had our own route in mind and it felt good to be defiant. We stayed on Hillsborough Ave. until we could get on 275, which allowed us to merge with Hwy. 4 toward Orlando. We knew Hwy 4 had an exit to I-75 and that’s what we took. Once on I-75, we were in familiar territory. Only when we got on I-75 did I feel “the voice” approved. Up to that point, she knew we were defying her and her tone chastised us.

    John laughed at me as she gave me orders and I’d reply to her, “No, we aren’t going that way.” I had the nerve to taunt her!

    He said it was weird listening to me argue with a “device.”

    But it felt good to know we had a better route in mind. Of course, she was there, if we really got lost. I can imagine she’d have laughed, if we’d really gone astray, but as it was, following our route went smoothly and didn’t have any tolls.

    I just thought of something: Maybe she is paid by the toll roads.

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    Time’s Flying

    Won’t be long before our time in paradise will be up for this season and we’ll head back to Michigan. Last night John did concede that we may want to stay down here until May because last year we experienced cold weather when we got back up north. We won’t know until we can see the forecasts for the end of April. But the weather in late April and May in Florida is always truly lovely.

    Of course, after spending the summer in Michigan, we’ll return to this beautiful Florida location in early October. (Again, depending on the weather.)

    I can’t believe how fast time passes. Our February calendar is filling up fast. Seems that as it gets closer to the time the snow-birds leave, every club/organization crowds in more activities. As an example, over the next seven days we have at least 14 firm commitments (lunches, meetings, dances, parties, karaoke, racetrack, etc.)

    Believe me, we aren’t complaining. Our life is active and fun!

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    Skipping Church

    Yesterday the weather was very nice with a high about 74. I had arrived at the pool before 10:30 to get a lounge chair in my favorite area. By noon all of the prime seats were occupied. We stayed until about 4:00. The breeze was a little chilly in the late afternoon, but it was a good day!

    I want to spend the day the same way today which means that I won’t be going to church. I wouldn’t get home until about 12:15 and there’s no way I could find a lounger that late.

    The way I look at is that God made this beautiful day for me to enjoy. I’ll thank him by acknowledging his wonderful creation.

    John’s already playing pickleball (it’s 9:30), but he’ll join me at the pool.

    I’m going to go get ready now. It’s a tad cool (60 degrees) but by within an hour I’m sure it’ll be comfortable in the sun.

    This afternoon there’ll be a chili cook-off at the clubhouse. I plan to walk back and forth so I’ll get some exercise.

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    Dick McCool

    I was just thinking of the special friend who officiated when John and I were married. His name was Richard (Dick) McCool.

    Chaplain McCool was an inspiration! He’d broken his neck as a teenager and as a result was a quadriplegic.

    After his accident, he continued his education, and eventually became a minister. At St. Mary’s Medical Center (where I also worked), he was a protestant chaplain and it was a role he filled perfectly. I got to know Dick when I was facing major brain surgery in 1981. He was totally supportive and always had time to talk though my fears.

    I watched him struggle with his disability, but he never felt sorry for himself. He used his own situation to show that life could continue to be great, no matter what difficulties you face.

    John and I enjoyed a special friendship with him. When we wanted to get married in 1985, we asked him to perform the service. (He always said we were one of his “few” true successes.) Our wedding was even more special with him officiating over our ceremony.

    Here’s an example of Dick’s philosophy: He tried to be totally independent. He used a van with a lift to drive himself back and forth to work. One cold winter evening, when I was leaving work (well after dark), I found him in the hospital parking lot on his back. His chair had somehow rolled backward as it was lifting him into his van and it had tipped him backward. He was a good sized guy and there was no way I could get him up-right. He was laying on his back so I shoved my purse under his head to keep it from laying on the cold cement as I hurried to get help. His comment to me, as I ran off to summon security was, “Don’t hurry. I don’t get to see things from this perspective often.”

    People like Dick McCool deserve to be remembered. So I ask you to remember this remarkable man. He died in 1997 at the age of 59.

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    Life’s good

    We’re been busy lately.. busy but having fun.

    We’ve spent time at the pool, gone dancing numerous times, John’s exercised or played pickleball every day, I’ve walked lots.

    Unfortunately the pool time is not as attractive now because we’re in a cool spell. For the next few days, we’ll miss out on those outdoor activities. (50’s tomorrow.)

    A couple from Michigan, Cindy and Mike Baker, arrived here a couple days after Christmas. We’ve had fun introducing them, and “trying to keep up with them.” Cindy is really active.

    Tomorrow (Saturday) Cindy and Mike are leaving from Tampa on a five-day cruise. A big bunch of our friends, the Brooks and Coopers, Bill and Donna and others are also sailing out on a seven-day cruise, leaving Sunday. It’ll be empty around here for a week. We’ll miss them!! But maybe I can catch up on some of my chores: laundry, cleaning, organizing, paying bills, etc.

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    Seeing Stars

    starsMy vision has been pretty bad for years. I wore corrective lenses (bifocal contacts), but even with them, I missed some things.

    Now, after having my cataracts removed and Crystalens interocular lenses implanted, my vision has improved considerably.

    I can see at a distance better than I have since I was a child. (My close-up vision still has a way to go, but it’s also improving.) And I’m discovering something I didn’t realize. There are STARS in the sky. I knew they existed because when I was young I could see them, but I thought that, because of pollution and light infringement, stars were no longer visible. I couldn’t see them, and I assumed no one else could either.

    But now I see stars. Millions of beautiful white heavenly stars.

    I’m in awe.

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    Living the Dream!

    We talked with several friends over this New Years weekend. One universal feeling is that we are “living the good life.” We worked hard when we were “employed” but now as retirees, we are enjoy a life-style that we never dreamed would be so comfortable.

    John and I are typical of our friends. We are relatively health, have lovely residences, vehicles and toys, and we are debt-free. Life is good!

    I realize a lot of younger folks are currently struggling. It’s our hope that the economy will improve and when their generation reaches our age, they will be rewarded.

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    Photo Slideshow

    Here are lots of photos I’ve taken since we arrived in Florida, October 2011. Several appear to be duplicates, but I often take multiple images of the same view to see if a subtle difference will improve the shot. (I’ll keep adding photos through April 2012 and you’ll be able to access them from the rightmost menu here on

    If you’d like to stop the slideshow, click picture, and use the arrows to back up or scroll through the photos without the auto feature.

    Most of the sunsets were taken right out my back door, although we did go to Little Harbor Marina and viewed a wonderful sunset across Tampa Bay.

    On December 29th, we spent the day at Busch Gardens where we enjoyed the holiday shows. My photos include several of the animals at the Gardens.


    PS In June, I went back and added all of photos which were taken at the end of our Florida stay. You can now see the whole show until June 5th or 6th, 2012.

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    From Poolside

    According to the forecasts, today will be the last of our 80+ degree days for awhile. In fact, over the next 10 days, the prediction is that we’ll experience at least six days when it will be 55-65 degrees. That’s quite a change from what we’ve been enjoying.

    We’re here at the South Club pool. It’s the day after Christmas. After hosting our Christmas Eve party, we feel that our place is presentable so we can relax today. We’ll be inviting other folks to come over the next week or two so we’ll need to do some additional spiffying but nothing major.


    The cool air moved in about 3:00 p.m. We left for home about 4:00.

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    We’re Almost Ready

    Christmas PalmTonight we’re hosting a compatible bunch of friends for a Christmas Eve / Happy Chanukah gathering.

    The invitation we extended said: “It’ll be an informal evening. We’ll whip up some hors d’oeuvres for your enjoyment, haul out some of John’s 2011 vintage homemade wine for a wine tasting plus soft drinks, and four of us will play about 30-minutes of fun holiday music.”

    I planned a simple menu so it wouldn’t be a lot of work: sloppy joes on small buns, baked beans, fruit tray with dip, cheese spread with crackers, a relish tray with veggie dip, Koegel’s hotdogs in a red sauce, cranberry Jello sauce, Bacardi Rum Cake and a pumpkin pie. Several have asked what they can bring and I know we’ll have two salads and tray of cheese and sausage.

    We have six bottles of wine chilling.

    We’ll start with a little wine tasting and the cheeses, relishes, etc. Then we’ll serve the sloppy joes, beans, salads, and hotdogs. Desserts will be a little later while we’re playing a little holiday music.

    The condo looks lovely. The decorations are simple (poinsetteas, a Christmas Tree, table decorations in both the living room and dining room, candles everywhere.)

    We’ll have a video of a fireplace running on the TV and holiday music playing.

    I still need to get dressed and make the sloppy joes. (Don’t want them to be ready too far in advance.)

    Unfortunately the sun will have set when the party starts so no one will get to see the view and most of the crowd hasn’t been here before.

    We wanted to include several other couples, but this bunch has been hanging out together so we figure we’ll invite other friends over between Christmas and New Years. One evening I think we’ll have six couples over, another night two couples, and probably others before we take the tree down. I’m sure we’ll have lots of food we’ll be able to serve again, and in fact, I’m setting some aside for those evenings.

    So glad we’re finally going to “show-off” our place!!


    It was a pleasant evening. We had 16 guests. That included nine couples counting John and me. It was a nice way to celebrate the holiday. We ate a lot (had lots left). Fun conversations, and played a little music. Everyone left by 9:00. It took us about an hour to get the food put away and the place back in order.

    Glad we opened our home. We’ll do it again very soon. This was one group we enjoy, but we also enjoy other circles of friends and neighbors. This was a large group that have been getting together with a lot this year, but we’d also enjoy inviting others to enjoy our hospitality. Old friends, new friends, we love ’em all!!!

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    Robert and Jennie Mahoney

    Jennie and Robert Mahoney's 70th Anniversary PhotoTonight I did an on-line search and discovered a lot I didn’t know about John’s aunt and uncle (his mother’s sister), Robert and Jennie Mahoney. This year this remarkable couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

    Robert was the first blind man ever elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Robert Mahoney stayed in the Michigan Legislature for eighteen years and is best known for introducing the bill that requires hunter safety classes for young people. To prove that anyone could buy a hunting license, the blind legislator went out and bought one himself. The bill passed the following year.

    Together they raised 10 children, yet they are both totally blind.

    In 1956 the Mahoneys established a mail-order business, Michigan Notary Service, which sold seals, bonds, rubber stamps, and other notary needs. Jennie Mahoney took care of the business, basically run out of the couple’s bathroom, while her husband served in Lansing. This very successful business is still on-going and is currently owned and run by one of their daughters.

    In 2006, Jeannie wrote: “We have twenty-four grandchildren and three have earned their Ph.Ds and two have their Master’s Degrees. The rest are still pretty young, so we will have to wait to see what they will produce.”

    What an inspirational couple!

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    Sneaking in past curfew

    Here in Sun City Center, FL, many folks travel everywhere by golfcart. We were on our golfcart when we headed out this afternoon to shop at Walmart. It took much longer to make our purchases than we’d planned and when we came out to get on our golfcart (four or five miles from our condo), we realized we only had about 10 minutes until the sun would set (and at this latitude, when it sets, it gets dark immediately).

    Our golfcart is fully equipped with headlights, “So what’s the big deal?” you ask.

    In Sun City Center, golf carts are not allowed on the streets after sunset (no exceptions) and if you’re caught there’s a ticket and sizable fine.

    We live in Kings Point, which is a large, gated, separately-managed area, within the city limits of Sun City Center. It’s a totally separate community. In Kings Point, golf cart restrictions are much less restrictive. If you have headlights, they look the other way and let us drive on the streets within the gates after the sun has set, but as a protection to the residents, the Kings Point guards do chain lock the golf cart gate INTO the community at dark. We don’t know of anyone who has tried to come in after dark. We figure there’d be hell to pay.

    We didn’t want to get caught outside the gates. (It happened to us several years ago, when we were visiting my mother’s nursing home for a holiday party and over-stayed. That time, we managed to circumvent the Kings Point guard by edging behind their post. Quietly we manage to drive half in a ditch through a narrow opening but it was a challenge. The gate area has just been revamped, so I’m sure that access point has been plugged.)

    Tonight we weren’t the only ones dashing for the security of our Kings Point gated area. There were at least three other carts rushing down the golf cart path ahead of us as the sun was setting.

    With our headlights on, we made it home! (But it was fun and reminded me of beating curfews when I was in high school.)

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    Christmas Cards

    This year we limited the mailing of our cards to immediate family (just our siblings). Looks like others are also limiting what they send because, from friends, we are receiving primarily email greetings.

    As we receive mailed cards, I’m surprised by who is sending those cards.

    We have received cards from our newspaper delivery person, a favorite restaurant, our investment company, our insurance agent, our tile contractor, one of our dentists, my beautician, and a few other business services. I know the attempt is to thank us for our business, but I almost feel that we’re being spammed.

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    Running out of excuses

    With both of my eyes now seeing at a distance, I’m doing very well. I’m finding that it’s frustrating not to be able to see close-up, but not so difficult that I can evoke a sympathetic response from friends. John is feeling a little “used” and he’s right. I’ve taken advantage of my “handicap” for as long as I can. Time to get busy and accomplish something… anything.

    At night, before I go to sleep, I always resolve to get busy, but when morning comes, I’m back to feeling lazy.

    At least now the Christmas performance is history. We played yesterday and it went very nicely. The audience was very receptive.

    Next week (Christmas Eve), we’ll be hosting a party here. Between now and then I need to get the house prepped. There’ll be food to fix for about 20 guests.

    But right now I need to get our Christmas cards mailed to our family. (I no longer send cards to friends, but instead try to do an email version which doesn’t require addressing and stamps.)

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    Viewing the World More Clearly

    This a.m. I had the cataract on my left eye removed. Now both of my eyes can see beautifully.

    After my eye heals, my vision will improve, but already I can see better that I can ever remember and I don’t need glasses or contacts!! (I got my first pair of glasses in second grade.) It’s a whole new world.

    I’m slightly uncomfortable and exhausted, but I know tomorrow I’ll be better and it is certainly worth a little discomfort.

    Already I can read all of the small print on television, and distant vistas are sharp and clear. My close-up vision isn’t working yet, but in a couple weeks, I can start eye exercises which will eventually allow me to focus on fine print.

    I’m sure my friends are tired of my whining. Soon I won’t have anything to complain about. (I will have a couple weeks when my doctor will have me on physical restriction.)

    I was forewarned, that when my vision improves, every dirt spot will become evident to me. Already I’m walking around with a damp cloth removing finger prints I didn’t know existed.

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    Hot Christmas!

    Today the weather had warmed up to about 80 so I spent the afternoon at the pool.

    Looking at the long-range forecast, they’re saying that we may have a Christmas that is in the high 70’s. Wow!!

    It seemed unseasonably hot today, but if it continues to the New Year, that would be grand. They’re already saying that maybe we’ve already experienced our “Florida winter.” I just hope there are no “heavy freezes” like we’ve experienced both last season and the year before. We lost so many pretty plants (a 7′ orange and and a similar sized rose-colored bougainvillea, a poinsettia, and a bird of paradise.) I hope this year our plantings will survive.

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    Cool Down

    Today we awoke to chilly temperatures (the coolest this season). It’s about 43 and won’t get out of the mid-60’s. The wind is fierce. But it’ll be warming up tomorrow and into next week with nicer 70’s.

    Monday I will have my left eye cataract surgery. I’m looking forward to having the interruption behind me. My right eye sees quite well, but it’s tough to optimize that improvement when the left eye is so blurry.

    Folks have told me that I’ll spot every dust particle and finger print. Hope so because we’re planning a party on the 24th and right now I can’t see well enough to get the house party-ready.

    We attended a nice holiday affair last weekend, and there are more to come.

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    Only nine days!

    Thank heavens this limbo waiting time will be resolved in nine days. I’ll have my left eye cataract removed and hopefully my vision will gradually improve. It won’t happen immediately, but I’m sure that when both eyes are “equal,” it’ll be a lot easier to enjoy the world around me. Right now my vision is very good with my right eye alone, but when I open my left eye, the blur distorts everything. It’s much more difficult that I’d thought. I can’t clean because I can’t see the dust well enough to eliminate it. TV viewing isn’t very much fun since I’m looking through one eye.

    The muscle in my eye has been intentionally paralyzed so I can’t focus, allowing the eye muscle to heal around the Crystalens extensions. I was told that when reading or using the computer, I must use “reading glasses” which blur more than they help.

    Also I can’t do anything which raises my heartbeat more than about 10 bpm.

    I feel helpless because there seem to be so many things that don’t work as I wish they did. But, although it sounds like I’m whining, I have no reason to complain. I’m blessed that I only have to endure this for a few more weeks, and after the 12th, it’ll be easier. Yeah!!!!

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    A brighter world

    Yesterday morning I had my right eye cataract removed. Today I found out that on the 12th (in less than two weeks), I’ll have the left one done.

    I got back home yesterday and felt a little disoriented and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. Today I feel and can see better, but now I’m faced with one eye that can see and one that can’t. That situation is uncomfortable and makes me queasy but I’m sure that once I have the second eye done, I’ll be able to quickly adjust to good vision which is equal in both eyes.

    As my right eye vision has cleared, I’m amazed at how bright the world is. I see “white” as much much brighter than white was before the surgery. And the color blue just pops!

    I didn’t know what I was missing, but now when I look at the world from my right eye only (covering my left), everything in the “new view” seems to sparkle. The view from my left eye (covering my right) has a muddy yellow tinge, there is no pure white by comparison, and it’s of course less sharp.

    The photos below show my impression of the way the view has changed. (The left is now. On the right before the surgery.)

    Before and After my Cataract removal\

    The right side is actually a little brighter than it should be to accurately depict my view, but the yellow cast and lack of definition is similar.

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    Today I kept pushing dust around. I polished the floor tiles on my hands and knees, and they are looking better. But the dust everywhere is discouraging. I tried collecting it but all I succeeded in doing was batting it into the air so it came down on things again. I have dusted some furniture pieces a dozen times and they still look neglected.

    The new shower needs a curtain or glass door but so far we haven’t been successful finding anything we like. Finally we “borrowed” the clear liner from the other bathroom and it looks nicer than the colored curtains we tried.

    Our very good friends Linda and Ron Ringenback stopped in and I was ashamed that everything was still so dirty but she seemed to understand and had some nice things to say about our place (first time she’d seen it). Hopefully the next time she’s here, it’ll be polished up and glowing with holiday decorations.

    Hopefully within the next couple of days, I’ll feel that everything is back to “normal”. Right now most all the cleaning has been complete, but the dining room and the guest/music room still need my attention. I’ll work on that over the weekend.

    Someone said that tiling is like moving. I think it’s much harder to cope with. When you move, it’s clean and new. With tile, it is disappointing because it seems so overwhelmingly dirty/dusty.

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    A Wonderful Thanksgiving with (Lots of reasons to be Thankful)

    elderlyYesterday we started the day serving a Thanksgiving dinner at our church. It was free to anyone who came. The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was rewarding. What food was left was put in carry out-containers and taken to the nearby disadvantaged community of Wimauma. I was in charge of dishing out the stuffing. (I developed a great two-handed two-spoon technique to serve the sticky stuffing to each individual in fairly equal portions.)

    We were back home about 2:30. After resting for a couple hours, we went to Richard and Shelly Brooks’ for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast.

    There were about eighteen of us. Everyone brought a dish and Richard and Shelly did a great job on the turkey. It was a fun evening in their beautiful condo.

    The conversations were interesting and lively. Stephen Cooper (ret’d Judge Cooper) has stories galore. We got to know these friends better and liked what we discovered about each person.

    What a great day!

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    What’s happened since my last post?

    My right eye cataract surgery is scheduled for Monday the 28th.

    I was provided with a whole packet of instructions including three prescriptions which must be administered from now until February 4th. That’s just for the first eye. The left eye will be on a similar schedule so it’ll probably be late February before I’ll be finished with the drops in my eyes.

    Two of the prescriptions, were moderately expensive after insurance coverage, but the third (Acuvail), wasn’t covered by our policy at all and cost more than $145 for a 15-day supply. That means it would cost about $800 for that one medication during the required two-month period. That prescription is totally “packaged” in individual sealed vials. My doctor had given me one sample box of five vials. After trying to find a way to avoid the huge expense, I was able to get two (still sealed) full boxes of the vials that another patient couldn’t use. That will reduce my cost significantly and in fact may be enough to get me through.

    I have to be at the surgical center Monday at 7:15 a.m. (No coffee, or anything at all by mouth after midnight.) I should be back home before 11:00 but for day or so, I’ll have to wear an “eye covering” and for a while I won’t be able to read with my right eye. It’ll be worth it!!

    Our tile project was completed yesterday. We still have a lot of cleaning to do to get things back in place. Things are dusty and dirty. Windows and screens need to be washed. Floors polished to get rid of any grout and dust that got on the tile.

    Starting as soon as the crud has totally settled, I want to get our Christmas decorations out.

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    Tile is nearly installed

    The tile folks are ahead of schedule. It was supposed to take until the first week of December, but I know they will be starting a huge project after Thanksgiving, so they are anxioous to finish us up.

    At least part of the crew (Billy) will work all weekend (continuously) to finish things up. We are happy thus far. The main body of the condo looks really nice. The lanai tile has been laid and looks better than we expected (but also busier). It’ll take some getting used to the bold tiles. The master shower stall has been stripped bare in preparation for tile. Hopefully it’ll all be done soon.

    Tomorrow (Saturday) the plumbing contractor arrives to make the construction of the shower stall possible by doing the piping and stuff assigned to the plumber. It looks like Tuesday or Wednesday, they’ll finish everything.

    The crew has spent long hours so they have earned the “sooner than expected” completion.

    I’ll soon post the before/after photos. We’re satisfied.

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    Too Nice

    elderlyFolks here in Sun City Center, FL, are sometimes too nice. I do appreciate their courtesies and good manners, but sometimes it’s time-consuming.

    You approach a four-way stop corner and the rule says the car on the right has the right of way, but not here. If you’re a woman, you get to go first, at least that’s how the guys feel. So we all sit there waiting to cross the intersection. Everyone waits. Maybe we should get out and compare i.d.’s to see who is the oldest, who is female and who is male. And what do we do when encountering a 90-year-old male driver, if you’re a female in your 60’s? If age earns respect, do you give him the respect he deserves, or do you let him feel gallant and manly.

    Same for doors… Men open them for women here – ALWAYS! That’s fine; but if you’re a woman, and you’re ahead of an older woman, I was taught you should open the door for her. Down here, often the opener is confronted by an openee who feels that it’s somehow demeaning and you’re treating them as infirmed. And as mentioned above, no matter how old a man is, he wants to show his respect for a woman, while I have been taught to defer to those who are noticeably older.

    Grocery store carts are a problem at the corners in the store, sort of like four-way stops. But somehow it’s even worse. You all stand there waiting for someone to go ahead. Few collisions but sometimes it’s difficult to stay sane.

    In Florida, marked pedestrian crossings have the right of way, but what if you’re close to the curb’s edge and there’s no crosswalk? It’s not unusual to have a driver stop mid-block and wait for you to cross, even if crossing the street at that time wasn’t your intent.

    Sometimes the courtesies slow down the already leisure pace of life. Of course, is refreshing, but a bit of a challenge in our adjustment to Florida life-style.

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    Progress is being made

    Our tiling project is coming right along. Today is the fourth day of our humungus mess, but the main part of the condo should be back in order tomorrow morning.

    Tomorrow, Friday, after the main part is complete, the second phase of the project will begin. They will rip up the carpet toward our master bathroom, our closet carpet, the vinyl in that bathroom, and pull out the fiberglass shower stall.

    The crew is working on Saturday and on that day they will install the floor tile in the bedroom hall, master closet, and master bath. The renovated master shower will be started. For 24 hours, we will be unable to get into the master bedroom so we’ll move to the guest room.

    Monday the plumber will come to take care of the installation of the shower.

    The hope is that they’ll finish our whole project (the living area of our condo) and our friends’, Richard and Shelly’s lanai before Thanksgiving (next Thursday). Friday and Saturday after the holiday, they’d come back to do our lanai with a slate-like porcelain.

    Everything should be finished by the 26th.

    We are anxious for life to get back to normal.

    Obviously as things are put back in place, it’ll be a good time to really clean and soon after that, I’ll want to start our Christmas decorating.

    We will still need to revamp our master bath vanity and the shower curtain problem hasn’t been solved, but it will all come together. I’m sure!!

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    Our Tile Project!

    What a mess we’re in right now.

    The tile contractor arrived about 9:00 and started ripping up vinyl and carpet. Mold and uneven floors were revealed. We were pleased to see that the contractor took it all in stride.

    But the whole project required moving our furnishings out of the way. All furniture is piled into rooms which aren’t currently being worked on. The master bath is fine, the master bedroom overcrowded with extra furniture, great room is totally bare because the tile is being laid so it’s totally unusable, dining room is filled with furniture, guest bedroom room filled with extra furnishings so that it’s even tough to enter the room, master bath has a bare floor but working facilities, the office is untouched, garage is being utilized for tile cutting and the lanai is overcrowded with extra furniture which wouldn’t fit elsewhere. It’s all a mess.

    The work crew didn’t realized that I needed access to the dresser and closet in the guest room where I keep my clothes. But after a minor struggle, I got into drawers and my closet so I’m fine.

    Surprisingly, I feel everything is ok.

    We’re pleased with the floor as it’s being laid. We are slightly uncomfortable tonight, but so what??!! We have a hooked up television, we’re comfortable on lawn furniture, but who are we to complain? Tomorrow it’ll be better and by Thursday or Friday we’ll have everything back to normal.

    We have A/C, comfy chairs, television, access to two bathrooms with showers, access to a full featured kitchen, three vehicles, and everything else we need. We are putting up with what we consider an “uncomfortable” setting but it’s more than what 3/4’s of the world would consider “ultimate luxury.” What snobs we must seem to be.

    Life is good.

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    The week in review

    Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, were spent at the pool. Evenings were busy: Tuesday night was karaoke night at the clubhouse. Wednesday evening we had our Country Dance Class and then headed to the Ruskin Elks for spaghetti. Thursday I didn’t get to the pool but the evening was fun with a typical noisy, crowded gathering at the clubhouse. Friday we had fun at an 11/11/11 11:11:11 party at Wayne and Linda Conklin’s condo. After a potluck, we enjoyed about an hour of jammin’ with some new musicians and our group of four. Today at noon our four-some performed as Kings Strings for a radio club(s) picnic.

    Yesteray was cooler day (about 70). Today a nice warm-up and by Sunday it’ll be back about 80. Can’t complain. We’ve been here over a month. Time is flying by. We’re enjoying life to the max. Wish everyone could be so fortunate.

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    A perfect day

    We had a wonderful day today. This a.m. we got on our golf cart and went to our church service at the United Methodist Church, Sun City Center, followed by a luncheon in the adjacent hall. (Those church ladies know how to fix wonderful food.)

    At about 1:30, we got together with our good Michigan friends, Wayne and Linda Conklin. We play music here in Florida as a foursome called “Kings Strings.” We needed to practice for a performance this coming Saturday.

    It’ll be an easy play so our practice was relaxed and informal.

    After our music practice, we enjoyed a few glasses of John’s 2011 vintage wine. (I think it was a tad stronger than we realized.)

    The four of us relaxed at our bar on our new barstools while enjoying a breeze coming in all of the open windows and the door. It was a glorious afternoon. The conversation was fun. The temperatures were lovely. Lots of laughing and sharing. Couldn’t ask for anything better.

    A perfect day!

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    Sunsets in Florida are almost always awesome.

    Wednesday evening we went to Little Harbor, Ruskin. We enjoyed the company of 11 friends and excellent half-price burgers.

    Here was the view:

    Little Harbor Sunset

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    Busy Week!

    We went to Tampa twice this week. Wednesday we made the trip to look at used vehicles and ended up getting a replacement for our 1992 Toyota. It’s definitely a step or two up.

    On Wednesday, we also bought/ordered three bar stools.

    Several days we looked at tile and met with tile representatives who gave us prices. In the end, I’d say we are just more confused.

    Yesterday we picked up the bar stools. When we got home, we put them together and were extremely pleased with our purchase. They were very reasonably priced and really match our decor.

    We haven’t settled on a tile contractor yet. The differences in the bids for the job are fairly broad. The business we like best had the highest price and didn’t include the price of the tiles. Their labor costs are higher than the complete job from the lowest priced contractor. I would rather go with the highest priced place because they are “locals” but they so much more expensive. We also had a company from North Tampa give us an estimate, but they’re quite a trip away, and sort of a “big business.” We didn’t care for the tiles that the sales guy brought and somehow giving the job to a business with three show rooms isn’t as appealing as giving the work to a small business.

    So we’re undecided.

    Our week was busy: Sunday after church, we went to a Shriner pancake breakfast; Tuesday, we attended the Michigan Club wine and cheese party followed by a karaoke gathering at the clubhouse; Wednesday was our Tampa shopping trip when we bought our new-to-us car and the bar stools; Thursday, an association meeting plus doctor appointment and an evening Halloween party at the Clubhouse; Friday our second trip to Tampa (returned some sample tiles and picked up the stools); today we are planning to practice music with the Conklins.

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    The Good Life!!

    We have been having fun fun fun!

    This week on Tuesday we went to a meeting of the Michigan Club, Thursday we had a fun evening at the clubhouse with two couples (Richard & Shelly and Linda & Ron). Last night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Ron & Linda’s house, and today after church we joined the Conklins and the Brooks for Shriner Club pancake breakfast.

    Today was beautiful weather. The pool was crowded. We enjoyed visiting with several good friends and stayed nearly all day.

    When we weren’t having fun, we were shopping for tile for our condo. It’ll be a big project, and we want to get it right.

    I still have a little over a week to go before I return to my eye doctor to see when I can have my cataract operation. I hope it can been scheduled for November 7th but there’s a good chance I’ll have to wait three additional weeks. I’ve been good. Haven’t put my contacts in at all. It’s tough not to see, but I want the surgery results to be the best so I don’t want to mess things up by cheating so the lenses aren’t accurately tailored to my eyes.

    Sure is nice here!

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    Revisiting Expiration Dates

    Most of this posting was written in 2010, but I’m adding to it with some new insights.

    In 2010, I explained that I had believed it would be wise to have items at both our Michigan and our Florida homes, but we’re finding that we aren’t using things fast enough. Stuff “expires.”

    This is quoted from my 2010 post:

    We have purchased batteries of different sizes for both locations. Seems that most of the time, the unused batteries die before we use them for the purpose intended.

    The other day John wanted some baking soda and baking power. They were “dead.”

    Even items like suntan lotion sprays get old before we use up our supply.

    My shampoo and cream rinse were “thicker” in the bottom of the bottle and hard to get out when we arrived from Michigan (we leave the A/C down here set at 80 over the summer).

    Vitamins and even ink cartridges for my computer’s printer have expiration dates.

    We freeze lots of food for our return, but much of it ultimately “goes down the disposal.” (John’s grinding up some frozen bacon right now.)

    We don’t have a solution for our problem. We can’t haul everything back and forth and with only two of us, we wouldn’t go through items very quickly even if we stayed put. We usually buy large (more economic) sizes to save on cost by the ounce, but it often ends up being wasted.

    I opened a “packaged” inkjet cartridge when we got down here, one which I’d purchased last spring and left here. It wouldn’t work. I called Lexmark and they sent me another, but I was informed that the normal warranty is six months from the purchase date. Tough. I am not going to haul that printer back to Michigan just so I can use up my supply of cartridges faster.

    Expiration dates are hard on snowbirds.

    End of 2010 Post===

    2011 addition: I should explain that we no longer set our thermostat at 80. Instead we have a humidistat and it keeps our humidity at an acceptable level, but the temperatures are higher. Nevertheless, our place was in good shape when we arrived.

    But this year I found a few more things that are problematic when I leave them here in our condo:

    Perfume: I love my regular scent and I buy a bottle or two of it every year. Last year I left two partially used spray bottles (about 1/4 full) only to find that, when we returned a couple of weeks ago, the color of them had deepened and the scent had changed. (Now it stinks.)

    Detergent (both granular and liquid) changes when the temperatures are high. I wanted to use our dishwasher detergent but it was a solid block instead of a granular. Our clothes washing detergent was so thick I had a hard time getting it out of the container. Our scouring powder aka cleanser had solidified. My deodorant was all dried up. Six months here is not the same as six months in the north where it’s cooler. Here the summer heat really takes a toll.

    When we arrived this year, we’d lost some plants that we loved: Our huge three year old poinsettia had died (it was hit last December by the freeze we experienced so that may have weakened it). Our newly planted bird of paradise didn’t make it, but out green and yellow foundation plantings had grown, and in fact they’d spread out unattractively. We have a three-year-old palm which we’ve watched and moved repeatedly depending on the season, but this past summer was hard on it. We won’t move it again until it is healthier.

    The lawns look nice, the trees are healthy. Our split leaf philadendron had overtaken the sidewalk.

    Some plants and items do well without us. Others need our gentle touch.

    Perfume apparently needs more attention.

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    Another Lovely Sunset!

    Last night’s sunset out the back door of our condo was exceptional even by Kings Point standards:

    Out our back door 10/15/2011

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    Looking at Condos…

    John and I looked at three promising condos yesterday.

    We’ve been in the position of wondering if we should find a larger condo with everything as we want it, or fix up the one we have. So yesterday we spent the afternoon with our realtor who took us to see the three.

    The first was a lovely unit on a quiet up-scale court (culdesac). It had a lovely tranquil pond view but it faced south which is bad here in Florida. You’d never get to enjoy the lanai (screened porch). Also the color scheme was all green and I don’t like green. The kitchen had low-end appliances.

    The second condo was in the same neighborhood with a slightly more cluttered view of a pond but it had a stainless kitchen and the color scheme was better. There were tons of built-ins in the closets. In fact the closets were almost too out-fitted. The price was more than $30,000 less than the first.

    The third unit had the nicest view of all, but it was an old unit and needed up-dating. The price was a steal, but the bedroom had cheap flooring, the kitchen was totally dated. The living room was small. It was a lot cheaper, but you could easily spend $30,000-$40,000 bringing it up-to-date.

    We went home thinking the second unit was the best deal, but when we got home we did some computing, we changed our minds. We can fix up our current place over the next five years and make it perfect for about $40,000. Even if we spend that much, we’ll still save a lot. If we buy we’d have realtor fees and closing costs. (Those expenses for the new and our current condo would come to over $16,000!!!) If we just fix up our place, we wouldn’t need to tap into our investments. Also, if we upgraded, we’d need to pay higher taxes, homeowners association dues, and insurance. Those higher costs would continue indefinitely.

    So I think we’ve decided to stay put. We’ll have tile installed throughout our place this year. It’ll be a sizable expense, but a lot less than moving. And maybe this year we’ll buy some new furniture in the guest room so it becomes a multi-purpose/music room. Next year, maybe the lanai extension and living room window. The bathroom is still a question mark because we don’t have a plan.

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    My Eyes…

    I’m very, very near-sighted. Most folks don’t realize how bad my vision is because I’ve worn glasses since second grade and contacts since I was 15. (Yup, I was one of the first people to get contacts in Midland, MI. I went to the only doctor offering them and I was his third patient.)

    Over the years, my eyes went through the normal aging process. Back about 2000, it became necessary for me to wear reading glasses in addition to my contacts in order to clearly see my computer screen at work. It was a bother and I wasn’t satisfied. I found a solution, bi-focal contacts, giving me 20/20 vision whenever I wear my contacts. It has worked.

    Several years ago, my Saginaw eye doctor said I have cataracts. My vision was last checked a year and a half ago. At that time, he said he didn’t feel the progression of the cataracts was severe enough for surgery. But recently I’ve felt that my vision has gotten considerably worse. I no longer drive at night, and when I have to get up in the night, my vision is so bad that I have a rough time not running into things (like walls). I made an appointment with the most experienced cataract eye surgeon I could find (and he’s in Sun City Center). I went to see him yesterday and he feels the cataracts are large and there’s no reason to wait.

    There is a problem. I’ve worn contacts for so long and now my eyes need to adjust to a state which won’t change once I stop wearing them. If my eyes were to reshape, the inserted lenses wouldn’t work as intended. Will my eyes re-shape?

    Only going without them for a period will tell the surgeon if I can have the surgery or must wait until they have stabilized. During the appointment I had my eyes scanned so for the next three weeks, I can’t wear my contacts at all which means I can’t see very well. I’m getting by, but it’s tough. My glasses are ugly and uncomfortable. It’s only three weeks… or maybe six. I don’t have my hopes up that the earlier deadline will work, but there’s a chance. If my eye measurements don’t change, I’ll have the surgery on the 7th of November. The second eye will then be done a couple of weeks later (about the 21st or 28th). But if they aren’t stable when I go back to his office on November 1st, it’s very possible that the whole schedule be at least three weeks later making the second eye surgery in mid-December (or it’s possible that it’ll take even longer). The earlier the better!!!

    The lenses I’m going to have inserted are called a Crystalens. They’re the most advanced and expensive, but they are my eyes and it’s important that I see!! They should last my lifetime.


    How Crystalens Works

    The Crystalens® is attached to the ciliary muscle, a circular muscle that surrounds the lens in the eye. When the ciliary muscle contracts it bulges backwards and increases pressure behind the lens, thus forcing the optic forward. Relaxation of the muscle increases the pressure in front of the lens to move the optic backwards, thus enabling the lens to focus naturally at all distances.

    In general, patients who choose to have monofocal lens implants will be dependent on glasses either some or most of the time in about 95% of cases. The best results are with the Crystalens. They are multifocal and their unique system of using the muscle, allows eyes to act like normal eyes. Most people don’t need extra glasses. That’s what I want!

    So I’m hoping that I can have the surgery on the first eye on November 7th. What will it be like to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and see to walk through the house. And I haven’t viewed stars for years and years. I am eager!

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    Lots of Fun Stuff

    October 2011 Pool
    Since arriving Thursday we have been moving in but we’ve also had time to play. Sunday evening was an Oldies but Goodies Dance. Lots of fun!!!

    Monday and Tuesday we spent a good share of the day at the pool. Yesterday the water was flawless. A perfect temperature and not many folks crowding the pool deck. Couldn’t have asked for more.

    Last night we attended the Kings Point Ballroom Dance. John always complains because it’s a dress up (with tie and jacket) evening, but it was very nice and I enjoyed seeing folks look their best.

    In about two hours, we’re going to a Nantucket V association luncheon at an Apollo Beach restaurant.

    This afternoon I plan to head back to the pool, and this evening John wants to attend a Master Gardner class in Ruskin.

    The weather is now just what we want: mid to high 80’s with big puffy clouds. Love it!

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    Nothing but rain!

    Friday was our first full day here in Florida. It rained, not heavily but enough to stay inside.

    Saturday (yesterday) it was so windy that being outside was difficult and there was damage to trees. Rain started in the afternoon. The winds continued. Some nearby communities got eight inches but we lucked out with only about an inch. Today we’ve already had about two inches and it’s still coming down.

    While we’re putting up with lousy weather, in Michigan everyone says it’s glorious. About 80 degrees and sunny.

    Their extended forecasts show that by mid-week, their temps will crash into the 50’s. By mid-week here, we’ll have glorious sunshine.

    Long-range the National Weather Service is saying that the Great Lakes Area will have a severe winter. Florida will have a mild one.

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    We made it!

    Yesterday we decided that we wouldn’t stop as we had planned at the motel in Tifton, GA. We kept going and pulled into our condo at about 9:15 p.m. Both of us were glad that we’d pushed on. It felt so good to stretch out on our comfortable bed and feel our sheets. So much nicer than any motel.

    We did only what was necessary for the night and then went to bed where we watched the Tigers WIN their division in the playoffs.

    Today we “moved in”. There’s still lots more to unpack, but no rush.

    One minor inconvenience: our range/oven decided to act up. When John turned on the circuit breaker to the range, there was a loud pop and the oven came on. We couldn’t turn it off except by cutting the power at the breaker.

    Thank heavens we have a service plan in effect so it is all covered under our contract. The repair guy came and said we need a new clock/timer mechanism and he ordered it. In about five days we should have a range again. Right now we’re stuck with just a microwave, a fry pan, a slow cooker and a gas grill….. and another option: dining out!

    We won’t starve.

    We wanted to go to the pool this afternoon but it started raining (not hard). So instead we looked at condos on our list of “possible” condo units. We viewed three (from the outside) that we really like. Maybe it would be a good move, but we’ll see. We should set up a tour through our realtor.

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    Day Two and Lousy Drivers!!

    We’re about 950 miles into our trip with a planned destination in Tifton, GA, but John is saying that we’re making such great time, he’d just as soon keep going to the condo. We’d arrive about 10:00 p.m. We haven’t decided. We don’t have to commit until 6:00 when we’d need to cancel our room.

    Our motel stay was a disappointment. Last night we got to our motel in London, KY, only to find that they no longer have the lovely waffle breakfast John was anticipating. He tried their oatmeal and said it wasn’t very good. Maybe next year we’ll try another place. There are several in the area that provide breakfast at a similar price. We’ll see.

    But the trip has gone fairly smoothly. Traffic hasn’t been as bad today, but there are always construction zones.

    We have seen some crazy drivers.

    Yesterday, just north of Cincinnati, we ran into a tie-up.

    Apparently one of the southbound motorists got impatient and decided to cut across the grassy median. There was no cut-through and in fact it was uneven terrain and probably 150 feet wide. With tall grass, it was hard to tell, but when the impatient motorist came to an abrupt stop in a ditch that was at least three to four feet deep, he realized he shouldn’t have tried it. He was waiting for a wrecker when we saw him.

    Later we saw a guy with a blown tire. It wasn’t just flat, but shreaded and he was still driving on it. As we watched in our rearview mirrors, we could see him lose control and actually drive with one wheel up on the concrete barrier between the lanes. His car was at about a 45 degree angle.

    And today we watched in horror as a semi truck driver nearly side-swiped a semi in the next lane, but he didn’t stop there. He wanted to move over a lane but there was a white RV trailer next to him. He didn’t let that slow him down. He just bullied his way over, and the trailer was forced over to the next lane where a small black car was just about taken out. We expected that there’d be a crash, but somehow all made it.

    I am sure the black car driver didn’t realize that the white RV trailer was innocent. He’s probably still shaking. And the RV trailer driver had to be praying. I know we were!

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    The Road Well Traveled

    We’re still in Michigan outab 48 miles from the Ohio/Michigan border. We plan to stop at Beaverdam, OH. We’ll grab a bite to eat and gas-up. Today’s destination is London, KY.

    This is the first time that we haven’t traveled with little Willow. We were always “required” to stay in a pet-friendly motel, and Red Roof has worked great. The Red Roof in London has always been our favorite. I believe it’s the highest rated RR in the nation. Breakfast is included and they have the makings for great waffles. John’s in heaven.

    Tomorrow night, we’ll try a Microtel in Tifton, GA.

    We had a rather dramatic start to our trip. This morning, as we were about to pull out of our driveway, I plugged in the inverter I use to run my laptop. The inverter won’t work. John checked the fuse and sure enough it had blown. A second fuse, did the same thing. We decided it must be the inverter that was blowing them. It became apparent that, if it was causing the problem, I just wouldn’t be able to run my laptop on our trip.

    I unplugged the inverter.

    As I reorganized things, I plugged in John’s fuzz buster. It started smoking and I actually saw flames. Obviously it hadn’t been the inverter that was blowing the fuses, so I’m powered up and purring. The fuzz buster was left in the trash can.

    With our new cellphones and my wireless usb modem, we have totally updated our communication and internet access.

    Riding down the road, while on line, isn’t new to me. For many years I used an old cellphone tethered to a laptop running Windows XP. It ran a program which allowed me to use a cell signal for unlimited digital. Back in about 2005 and 2006, the network which it connected to was nationwide. It was about half the speed of dial-up so loading a page of data took patience.

    But that system was gradually being phased out. Over the years many areas no longer allowed access. Last year I gave up and didn’t bother trying to connect through that antiquated system. We’d make a point to request internet in our motel rooms.

    But now my internet connection is the same while in the car as at home. I can use either my laptop or cell to go on line. It’s great to have joined the technological age. I even got a “will you participate in a survey” phone call a few minutes ago.

    Life is good.

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