Archive for2013-05 to 10 – Summer in Michigan

Ready to head out

We’re nearly ready to head south. Tomorrow night at this time, we hope to be in Clinton, TN.

Packing is a science. I started a couple weeks ago, but the final stuff won’t go in until tomorrow morning.

The past couple of days, John’s been packing the truck. We sure take a lot. We have instruments (banjo, sax, hammered dulcimer, autoharp, ukulele and marimbula), 25 gallons grape juice to be made into wine, a bike on a back rank, clothes, and lots of miscellaneous stuff.

We definitely resemble picture. Loaded to the max.

I look forward to the 1,300 mile trip. It’s fun to spend two days beside my husband. A great time to chat and enjoy the scenery.

Saturday night we hope to enjoy a lovely dinner and stay in a nice motel. Sunday, provided everything goes according to plan, we’ll pull into our condo at about 7:30.

It’s an adventure! And when we get to Florida, the adventure will continue. What an awesome life!

Comments off

Chanukah for 2013 is Thanksgivukkah

This year, the first day — and the second night — of Chanukah falls on November 28, which also happens to be Thanksgiving. This particular coincidence, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for some 77,000 years, and some American Jews are pretty excited.

Our Jewish friends are imagining “mashups” of the two holidays — turkeys with latkes, pilgrims and rabbis, dreidel balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgivukkah Day Parade.

The hybrid holiday — which some folks spell “Thanksgivukkah” offers a chance to celebrate both Jewish and American values.

Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday in November, and the next time American Jews will light Chanukah candles at Thanksgiving will be in 2070, when the first night of the festival begins at sundown on November 27. That overlap hasn’t happened since 1918.

Regardless, because the Jewish lunar calendar is slowly falling out of sync with the solar calendar — with Jewish holidays moving forward through the seasons at a rate of four days every 1,000 years — Chanukah has slowly but surely been moving deeper into winter and away from Thanksgiving.

This year, however, Chanukah begins at sundown on Wednesday, November 27, which means that the entire day of Thanksgiving overlaps with the Jewish holiday. So on Thursday night — sometime during the first quarter of the Steelers-Ravens game, for those on the West Coast — families can fire up their menorahs.

Since we have several Jewish couples among our friends, I’m glad to announce this joint holiday.

Comments off

Our Florida Friends..

Today I got a call from Linda, one of our Kings Point Friends. She was checking to find out if we will be with her and her husband (and a dozen or more others) at the North Club New Years Eve party.

Yes, we are definitely planning to attend the party she mentioned so I mailed the check immediately.

She (as a year-round resident) always makes sure that we have our tickets/arrangements so we don’t miss things when we return to our southern haven. She keeps our fall/winter/spring life going. When she realizes there’s party/show/dance that we may not know about, she contacts us, collects the money from us, and buys the tickets.

There are givers and takers as we go through life. Linda is a giver. She makes sure we don’t miss a thing. She looks at the calendar while we’re up north (six months of the year) and makes sure that, if we’re going to be in Florida, we’ll be able to enjoy those activities she knows we love!

Thanks, Linda. You’re one of a kind.

We love you!!

Comments off

Short Timer … the countdown continues..

We have a full calendar of events to anticipate:

I’m eager. Here in Michigan from May to October, we live day to day, doing very little socializing. But in a couple weeks we’ll be having fun with friends and we’ll soak up the lifestyle that keeps everyone we know young and smiling.

The first week we arrive we’ll have extra stuff to do (cleaning the condo, unloading and moving back in, grocery shopping, putting the truck in storage, meeting with our financial advisor, etc.)

But we’re anticipating the fun stuff. Getting to the pool is primary for me. It’s where we meet up with our friends. We will arrive at our condo Sunday evening. I know we’ll need to settle in, but hopefully we can get things roughly organized so we can head to the pool for an hour or two Monday morning. On Mondays, we always have a afternoon commitments to John’s chorus and my line dance class.

Tuesday is a free day for the pool. Tuesday evening there’s a karaoke evening in the clubhouse. Karaoke nights are really fun. (We used anticipate Thursday’s Rockin’ Rendezvous over everything that happened all week, but now these Tuesday night activities have surpassed Thursday.)

Wednesday is kind of an open day (with a “Nearly New” sale downtown in the morning). If we haven’t done so before, we’ll need to go shopping to stock the condo.

We have a conflict that first Thursday: a wine and cheese party AND a Rockin’ Rondezvous at the South Club.

Friday p.m. and Saturday a.m. there’s a fun “almost world’s largest” Garage Sale at the main clubhouse, and Friday evening we’re planning to attend an evening concert at the Sun City Center Community Hall. We have tickets for an event which will feature a tribute to Buddy Holly and Fats Domino with performances and hopefully some dancing. Saturday is a “free day” so we can shop, or whatever we need/want to do.

Sunday evening we have a costume party/dance at the main Kings Point Clubhouse presented by one of the clubs we belong to (Baby Boomers).

Sounds like a grand week and that’s just the start of nearly seven months of good living and happy days.

Comments off

New Cellphone

Yesterday I spent the day configuring and loading apps into my new-to-me Samsung Droid Charge smartphone. (My previous 2 1/2 year old, identical phone died – i.e. won’t shut off with a battery in place and won’t recharge.) I bought the replacement re-conditioned unit from a distributor through eBay and so far I’m really pleased. It looks (and acts) new. I haven’t found anything that newer cellphone technology offers over the abilities of my Droid. The camera is great, the sound fine, picture crystal clear, the ability of all the apps is basically the same no matter what smartphone is running them.

I dreaded the set-up, thinking it would take forever, but I use Lookout, which is a backup/restore service, so reloading the stuff (including my phone contacts and photos) was easy.

I started about 1:00 and worked for a couple hours then took a shopping/dinner break from about 3:30 until 7:00. I had everything perfectly installed by about 8:00. Not bad. It fact it was fun, and I was disappointed that it didn’t take longer. I enjoy this kind of work.

Not only does my “new” cellphone operate like a new one but also many of the apps I loaded have upgraded features. There were some on my old Droid which I rarely if ever used, so I didn’t bother with them. (They can always be added later.) It’s purring.

I’m happy.

Comments off

One of “Those” Weeks

This week has had some bumps.

Three examples:

About a week ago I realized I had lost/mislaid the keychain remote control for our home security system. At first I was sure it would turn up, but it hasn’t. This little control has stayed in the outside zippered pocket on my purse since we installed the system back in June. It’s always been with me. When we leave our home, if I haven’t pressed the “away” button on the keypad in the living room, I can activate the system from the remote with the blue button as we’re pulling out. When we return, I can hit the gray “off” button, or hurry in and put the 4 digit code in the keypad before the alarm goes off. The remote definitely makes it easier.

The end opposite the “keychain” loop has a cap that covers a usb flash drive. That flash port gets plugged into the computer to set up everything and when the settings have been saved, you take it to the base station (the brains of the system) where the remote is plugged in and the information transferred and stored. The base unit has a cellular transmitter which stays in touch with the 24/7 monitor desk.

Since I lost that little unit it didn’t mean that we couldn’t activate the system, nor turn it off. Afterall activating and cancelling are both doable through the wall keypad, but any changes must be done with the flash drive then transferred to the base station with the remote.

We’ll want to review everything and test it out before we leave for Florida. I knew I need to have that keychain remote so we can thoroughly check everything and make sure it’s all in working order.

Also, having lost the remote, I feared that, if the person finding it knew whom it belonged to, they could cancel the security at any time and enter our home without triggering the alarm. After investing in such a sophisticated system, I sure didn’t want to risk someone being able to enter. We’ll soon be leaving for seven months and with a lost remote, it would be like an unknown someone having the keys to our house.

I called to order a replacement and was pleased that I could deactivate the lost remote so no one can use it for access. (If we do locate it, we can re-program it so we’ll each have our own keychain remote.)

The new remote arrived today. It was a snap to program it into the system. And, to be sure I’ll never lose it again, I found a keychain quick release clasp to fasten inside the purse I usually carry. With the remote anchored to the inside of my purse, I can easily locate it, and should never lose it again.

Problem #1 resolved. But it did cause me some anxiety and over $30!!


Problem #2. My three-year-old smartphone has terminal problems. It’s actually still functioning, but it won’t charge and it comes on unexpectedly. Something burned up inside the charging port. I can remove the battery and, using a free-standing charger, I can charge it, but the batteries are old, so they’re being switched out constantly. I had purchased two flash chargers, and they’re useless because they must be plugged into the phone. I also can’t use my docking bay. I can’t do things with my phone that drains the battery fast, because I’m switching out the batteries constantly (no plugging it in).

The phone had been over-heating frequently so I know it’s time for a replacement. With lots of chargers, a docking bay, cases, batteries, etc. I decided that the cheapest way to go would be to get the same model, a Samsung Droid Charge. I have unlimited voice and data so the same model will allow me to continue that plan.

And there’s another reason I want that particular phone: I have an app that allows me to use the phone as a hot-spot. I don’t want to lose that ability. I can connect and the bytes I use don’t count. (Last month I used 13GB in additon to another 4.5GB through my wireless usb modem.)

So yesterday, I bought a rebuilt cellphone with a dealer warranty on eBay for under $67. (According the the description, it’s in “like-new” condition.) I should have it by tomorrow or Saturday. I’m anxious to get it set up. I fear it’ll be a challenge to transfer everything, including my contacts, apps, etc. I use a program called Lookout for back up. It uses “the cloud” and is supposed to store your phone contents so you can install them on a new phone with ease. Never having tried a complete restore before, it’ll be a good test.

I figure that by only spending $67, I can still upgrade, if I decide that’s best. I won’t have that much invested.


Problem #3. Yesterday I didn’t feel well. I’m still half a bubble off. Didn’t do anything all day and today I’m still dragging. Glad we had nothing planned.

So that’s been my week

Comments off

Getting Closer!

I'm getting excited. Our October calendar for our time in Florida is filling up. In just the 11 October days after we arrive, we have a whole slew of stuff to do: a pool party, a wine and cheese party, two Halloween parties, garage sales, karaoke evening, chorus practices for John, exercise/line dance classes for me, doctor appointments and a show/dance. We'll also enjoy visits with friends and time relaxing at the (newly renovated) pool. I've been checking out the weather forecast, what I need to pack, and my "to do before we leave" list.

Comments off

Credit Card Blues

What a day! Thank heavens I keep on top of our finances because I discovered one of our credit cards (our main card, a Chase Visa) had been “compromised.” There were two charges I knew we hadn’t made: a $513.80 charge for Virgin Airlines and the other was Coconut Grove Sports Bar in Sacramento, CA, for $1,025!!
Having a credit card compromised had also happened to us a couple years ago. That time it was John’s card. We assumed the stealing of the information on his card occurred at a restaurant or other place where his card was “out of our sight” because his card has never been used “on line.” That time Chase Visa caught the problem before we were aware. Since his card is only used for gas, groceries and restaurant purchases, we would have been ok with our “reoccuring charges” (which are on my card), but unfortunately the customer service guy accidentally deleted my card as well as John’s so I had to go through the chore of setting up all of our accounts for on-going payments.

Wisely I had kept a list of the businesses I needed to contact: Tampa Electric, Brighthouse (our TV supplier in Florida), Cloverland Electric (in the U.P.), the Saginaw News, Wall Street Journal, Tampa Tribune, Verizon, Bluehost (my internet hosting company), Paypal and more… lots more. Some would be easy with on-line revisions, but others world require phone calls. I knew I had a huge job ahead of me. The replacement Chase Visa card is scheduled to arrive Monday, but that still meant several days when scheduled payments might come in and I was anxious to get started and hated to waste time.

After considering different options, I decided that it would be best if I could put all of our automatic (reoccurring) charges on a card of their own, used only for that purpose. It would be a card that wouldn’t be carried with us nor used for any other type of transactions. If I “took out” a new card, I wouldn’t have it for a week or two. And then I remembered a Chase Freedom card that we had received but hadn’t activated. It was ready with a quick phone call so I could begin my tedious chore.

I worked for hours setting everything up. I used phone calls and the internet and finished after 4:00 (more than six hours of steady work). The actual plastic card was filed away and marked so we won’t use it for purchases.

If one of our cards is hijacked again, hopefully I won’t have to go through the hassle of setting up and changing dozens of accounts as I did today.

Interesting thing: Neither fraudulent charge (for $1,025 and $513.80) was “swiped.” The larger one was a “sports bar.” Maybe it was an employee. How else would a non-swiped card for that much be accepted?

Comments off


Nearly 27 years ago, we had our Michigan home built for us. One feature we stressed when were were designing the house was sufficient storage. We wanted lots of places to put things. Over the years, being pack rats, we managed to fill up every nook and cranny and a huge basement. Now we’re faced with unbelievable quantities of old stuff that we certainly don’t need. I’m wondering, why did we save everything?

I’ve started going through stuff we have stored upstairs, especially in an under-the-eaves closet. I’ve found many things we didn’t need to save. (Examples: There was a $24 receipt for some unnamed item from a furniture store back in the 1960’s! I’ve moved six times since then. We have checks and check books for accounts that have been closed since the 1980’s.)

Was there anything of value? A few items. I found lots of brand new duplicates of music books, a couple of lamp dimmers that I forgotten about, and many photo “slides” from my active photography days.

What do you do with old dial telephones, video equipment that is totally out of date, cassette tapes and early hand-held video games?

What do I save? Is there any reason to keep anything?

John wanted to participate in a neighborhood garage sale today but the stuff we need to get rid of isn’t stuff that would sell in a huge subdivision sale. Folks who come to this “largest in Saginaw County garage sale” have to park 1/2 mile away. They need to be able to carry what they buy and most of our items, especially stuff stored in our basement, are way too large to be carried down the road through traffic. As an example we have a huge fish tank and many folding chairs. We don’t have many small items. I’d rather donate my stuff to a resale charity than have my neighbors to peruse my stuff.

I know we need to have a sale, but I’d prefer to do one of our own. We could advertise a list of the stuff. Folks who are looking for a fish tank or a snow blower would come to buy it and be prepared to haul it away. Folks who want to buy an acoustic-electric bass would be ready to spend the $$$s. We wouldn’t be competing with 40 other houses for shoppers.

We’ll see. Probably holding such a sale won’t happen until next spring, but by purging the upstairs, we’ll be in better position to get rid of what we don’t need. And in the meantime, I’ve started listing a few things for sale on Craig’s list.

Next time I go through life, I’m going to restrict my storage areas so I don’t save so much.


Note: As it turned out, John was really glad we didn’t participate in the garage sale. He talked with a neighbor who said that, despite having an enormous quantity of stuff and working all day, he only made $50. From the beginning it was obvious that the crowd was down, but also it RAINED hard several times during the day so items were ruined and many of the sales closed down before noon. We’d have done a lot of work with little to show for it.

Comments off

Halloween Costume

John and I have tickets to the Baby Boomers Halloween Costume Party on October 27th. Since we will be arriving the Sunday before, we won’t have a lot of time.

Last year I went as a doctor in scrubs with a stethoscope, John had on a nerdy green checked pants and vest, a painted on mustache and a derby. My old scrubs weren’t all that comfortable (the pants were extra small so very fitted) but it was ok for an evening.

Everyone will be in costume, but John wasn’t anxious to dress-up. I knew that if I could find the right one, he’d go along with it, so I’ve been shopping for costumes for us. I found a cute peanut butter and jelly couples’ costume but it was kind of pricy and John felt it would be uncomfortable for a whole evening. So that ruled that one out.

Today I stumbled across something that will work. I won’t give away the secret, but we’ll definitely be identified as a “couple.” Each of us will be comfortable enough. Mine is sorta cute with a hat. John’s includes a can opener. John’s will be an “assembled” costume. Part of it is coming from China. The total price of his will come to about $10-15 and mine will be a little over $20. Not bad.

Now I don’t have to worry about it.


My costume came came and it’s too tight. Cute but my stomach is too big. I either need to lose some major weight about (20 pounds) or find a way to alter it. I’ll think about it for a few days. I am sure I can figure something out but it’s going to mean more work than I’d planned.

Comments off

Last “Legal” Day

According to a majority of women my age who live in Michigan, Labor Day is the final day of summer… the last opportunity to “legally” wear white. Of course, it’s different in Florida. The year in Florida is seasonless, but here Labor Day signals the end of summer.

In the mid-west, white is acceptable above the waist but not as slacks, skirts, dresses, nor shoes. The no-white rule runs from Labor Day until Memorial Day.

After tomorrow, I’ll should put away the summer stuff but I will probably continue to wear what I want. I’ll get “the look” from other women when I violate the sacred rule which we are expected to follow. Ladies will comment as if they need to “educate me,” but when I say we have a place in Florida, it’s like I’m a foreigner so they nod knowingly, shrug, and don’t say anything further.

Undoubtedly summer will soon be over. It’s been hot – last week several high 80’s. But during September the temperatures will plummet. It happens fast. Even next week, I predict there’ll be a nip in the air at least part of the time.

But you can bet I’ll wear white when I want, as I wave good-bye to the summer 2013!

Comments off

My Facebook “friends”

Who are my “friends”…? (I’m referring to those I consider Facebook “friends.”)

I went through the 140 folks I have listed as “friends.” (Yes, I have turned down many requests to be “friended” because I figure if you’re a “friend,” I should at least know who you are and recognize you.)

Among my friends, there are our “music friends.” This is the largest segment of my friends’ list. Most of those come to us through our involvement with the Evart and Midland dulcimer festivals and our Saginaw dulcimer club. They are genuine folks who we include in our close circle. We know and recognize these folks and the typical greeting would be a huge hug. They are friends in every way. I want to know about their families and care deeply. We enjoy them totally. Some are banjo players John knows through the Flint Banjo Club. I’m so glad our involvement with music brought all of us together.

Next, there are a few “family members” who are also “friends.” Actually this is a very small group. I come from a huge family, as does John, but few are interested in the internet. My daughter is my #1 friend in this group. And I hope I will be able to follow the January wedding of my new granddaughter-in-law to my grandson. (She is on FB a lot posting the details as they develop.) I also watch my cousin who is a cross-country coach in a Saginaw Township school and admire his support of his students. I’m proud to be associated with this small but important segment of our “friends.”

And there is a huge group of our “Florida friends.” These are folks we interact with in Florida (and in Michigan whenever possible). These folks live about six months a year in our Florida Kings Point community and most, like us, head back to Michigan for the summer. They enjoy the very active social life of our southern community. They are individuals from many walks of life that fate brought together in our retirement location. We are all inclusive and non-judgmental. We’re all at the same stage of life. What a wonderful bunch!! These are folks who I am so glad we know. They enrich our lives completely but most we have only known for three or four years. Doesn’t seem possible that we could draw close so fast. I’d do anything for this bunch.

So that’s almost my complete list of facebook “friends.” What a wonderful assortment.

We love them all!

Comments off

Our Departure Plans have Changed

We had planned to leave for Florida on October 5th and arrive the 6th, but we have decided to delay our departure for two weeks. (John has lots of unfinished jobs.)

I’ve made a change to our motel room and doctor appointments. I also changed the start-up of our HD TV subscription and our Florida newspaper. Until we started moving between residences, I had no idea how many items need to be changed when you move every six months. Right now I’m trying to contact our magazine subscriptions. We have four print magazines that need to have our travel plans.

I am sorry that we’ll miss an Oldies but Goodies dance, but there’ll be other dances. At least we’ll be back for the Michigan Club kick-off event, the Wine and Cheese Welcome Reception.

We’re both looking for fun stuff to do here in Michigan until we leave. Sadly all that we’ve found is a once monthly dance at the Moose Club and a senior bingo and potluck. There may be a dance at a closeby establishment. We’ll make the best of it.

I can complain, but in the end, it’s John’s life too. If John is happier with us making this adjustment to our travel plans, our life will be more enjoyable for both of us. I may not enjoy Michigan as much as he does, but the balance reverses when we’re in Florida.

Comments off

Finding Lowest Prices on the Price Tag

Some stores have secret ways of telling you whether you’re getting their lowest price. Check the last number of the tag price tag to know whether or not it the item will come down in price.

At most stores (especially Target) regular prices end in “9.” If the price ends in “8,” it may get marked down again. If it ends in “4,” that’s the lowest it’ll get.

For Sam’s Club’s below cost prices are end in “1.” A “C” on the price label means it’s on clearance.

At Costco, an asterisk (*) means the item won’t be reordered but it still might go down in price so wait until the item goes on clearance, which is when the prices end in “97.”

Comments off

Bags of money

Several times, when I was a young child (maybe seven or eight years old), my grandmother took me to visit her very close friend, Ersel, a very wealthy lady, who lived in a to-die-for apartment on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. This place, with it’s sparkling mirrors, luxurious furnishings, white grand piano, plush carpets, and wonderful view of the Detroit River would be awe-inspiring, even by the highest of today’s standards.

Life at Ersel’s was more opulent than anything I’d ever experienced. She had hired “help” (a sweet maid named “Vassey”) and a chauffeur. We went to “The Yacht Club” for dinner (where I was served a grown-up looking drink, a “Shirley Temple.”)

moneybagsAs a child, I knew they were “rich.” It was an over-the-top lifestyle accented by fur coats, big cars, flashy jewelry and even Ersel’s first-person recounts of her frequent cruises to Europe.

But as a youngster, the thing which impressed me most was a large dish of change on Ersel’s husband’s dresser. A dish of MONEY! People so rich that they had money sitting around in bowls. I was hard to believe but there it was!

As an adult, I grew to understand that this was just a convenient way for the man of the house to empty his pockets of change but as a child it seemed to mean something much more.

About thirty years ago, I started the same practice. Every time I’d pick up loose change that had slipped down between the cushions of the couch, or from the bottom of my purse, I’d put it in a bowl. Over the years, the bowl filled. In fact, I had to start a couple additional containers as the first over-flowed. Sometimes my contributions over months were meager but pennies or change went in the jar.

This week I decided to cash it in. I found that First Merit Bank will “count it” for us so I dumped the change into a cloth bag (it was heavy!) and took it to the bank.

Most of the change was pennies. John spotted a few coins that looked foreign. The teller laughed when she realized what they were. Somehow five or six Chucky Cheese tokens had made their way into the collection.

I don’t know yet how much change we had. But the bag weighed about 18 pounds! In our case, it sure wasn’t a sign of great wealth. Just a convenience accented with Chucky Cheese tokens.


Note: Our 18 pound bag of change contained $42.87. (Certainly not a fortune.)

Comments off

South? North?

I’m looking forward to our return to Florida and it can’t come soon enough.

John is wishing we could stay in Michigan longer. He says he’s not ready.

There is no solution. We can’t both be totally happy. I’m sure, once we get to Florida, John will enjoy himself. It’s leaving Michigan with incomplete jobs that is bothering him, but if we stayed longer, we both know he’d just start more jobs.

Right now he still wants to wrap up building the beach fortification. He still needs to finish planting a row of shrubs and using rocks to accent it. There are two dead trees he hopes to bring down. He’ll need to pick grapes (when they’re ripe in about a month). And on September 7th, he wants to participate in a neighborhood garage sale.

Of course there are some winterizing jobs, like making sure nothing freezes in our RV unit. There will be leaves to rake and get rid of. And, before we can leave, there’ll be lots of packing.

If we put our mind to it, we’d have no trouble being ready by October 19th when we’ve planned to head south. If we’re being honest he knows there’s no point in delaying the date. If we move it a couple weeks later, he’d be talking the same way. We have several doctor appointments for the week after we return, and lots to do when we’re there. And in fact, I need to make another doctor’s appointment.

I’m eager.

He’s dragging his feat.

(Note: After we changed our date, I had to change the departure date from Michigan.)

Comments off

January Plans

My grandson is getting married January 4th. We’ll be in Florida starting in October. Although I hate the thought of leaving our Florida “Paradise,” I do want to do grandma stuff, and it’ll be wonderful spending time with Kelly. So I’m trying to work out flights, car reservation, etc.

I have a feeling Kelly’s house will be crowded to the max. I’m thinking that I’ll get a motel room at least part of the time to lessen the stress on her. She’s such a good daughter! I’ll certainly be flexible in every aspect. I want to make it as easy on her as possible.

Comments off

Keeping our word…

About a month and a half ago we met a lovely couple, Sim Clark and his girlfriend Eleanor. They’re quite a bit older than us, but we enjoyed their company. We spent several evenings with them at the Moose. They like to dance almost as much as we do. They’re a sweet couple.

Sim is celebrating his birthday tomorrow, his 90th!! We have a hard time keeping up with them. They’ll get out on the floor and dance by the hour. (Unlike them, we sit out every other dance or two.)

We have had other possible events for tomorrow, but we told Sim we’d be at his party so we will. We keep our word.

Besides it sounds like he has a fun time planned.


Couldn’t believe the size of his party. Had to be 200-250 folks in attendance! Good food, good music. Nice time!

Comments off

Busy Day

Today we bought TEN pyramidal arborvitae to plant around the area where we store our 28′ RV unit. We figured that if they are planted around the “pad,” it’ll camouflage the RV.

Planting them will be more work than he anticipated. The instructions said to dig a hole three times the width of the root-ball. John’s being more conservative, but even digging a hole the size of the ten root balls is a lot of work.

He started.

I suggested that he plant one per day because it’s exhausting work. Knowing him, it’ll be done in a lot less time but he sure doesn’t need to rush.

After several hours of work, I convinced him to quit. He was pooped!

This evening we went to the Moose where we ate and dancing. Yup, after all that work I dragged him to a dance to the music of Dixie Highway Band.

Pacing yourself when you’re our age is important. The day nearly sapped John but he saved enough of his energy for the evening so we ended our day with a fun bit of dancing.

Love that man!!

Comments off

I’m happy to be home

Seems that I’m always wishing I was at our home in Florida, but it took being at our place in the Upper Peninsula to realize how much I love our Lake Cecil (Thomas Township) home. It’s nice. I need to do a lot of work to bring it up to snuff, but we have two months and maybe I can accomplish some of my chores list before we head back to our Kings Point home.

It’s truly comfortable here in Thomas Township!

We’re more isolated than in Florida, but we have some social activities on our calendar. For example tomorrow night we’re going dancing at the Moose Club. Saturday we have a birthday party for a 90-yr-old friend complete with a lovely dinner (and dancing). Monday we have a family gathering with John’s siblings. A hair cut appointment is a week from today, and a big family reunion in a week and a half. So, with a few things to look forward to, I don’t mind at all that we have two more months here in Michigan.

John’s busy finishing up chores he feels necessary before we leave. He has about 10 pyramid arborvitae to plant, stuff to clean out of the basement, purging the upstairs, and maybe participation in a neighborhood garage sale after Labor Day. That’ll take us until the first part of September. During that month we have dental and doctor appointments and preparation to head south.

Time’s flying but life is good and I’m going to quit wishing it away. I’ll savor my time here, just as I love our time in Florida.

Comments off

And Then It’s Winter…..

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change…Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t of my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, what ever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

(I did not write this. I copied this from a friend’s Facebook post, but I’m sure she read it elsewhere. It’s worth sharing.)

Comments off

A hum-dinger!

We’ve been watching the hummingbirds devour the sweetness we’ve supplied in our bird feeder. The “hum” of their wings is almost constantly heard even from inside our trailer here in the U.P.

These small birds are very territorial so generally only one feeds from the feeder at a time – occasionally two. But there are sometimes as many as four fighting for “air space” around the area. Most of them are the Ruby-throated variety.

We’ll refill the feeder before we leave tomorrow. They’ve consumed about a cup of the liquid since Tuesday (today’s Sunday). After reading a bit on line, I understand they will start migrating south anytime within the next month so they’ll need lots of fuel. The males sometimes leave as early as mid-July.

Most of them must retreat back “home” to Central America in the winter. A few Ruby-throated remain along the Gulf coast each winter instead of continuing to Central America, perhaps because they are too old or sick to make another trans-Gulf flight or too young (from very late nests) to have had time to grow fat and strong enough to migrate; their survival chances depend on the severity of each particular winter, and many perish in unusually cold years.

Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds winter between southern Mexico and northern Panama. Since hummingbirds lead solitary lives and neither live nor migrate in flocks, an individual bird may spend the winter anywhere in this range where the habitat is favorable, but probably returns to the same location each winter.

Maybe they’ll visit us in Florida.

Comments off

Our place in the U.P.

Tuesday we took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to our place on Lake Michigan. It’s about 90 miles west of the Big Mac Bridge, south of Thompson off Highway 2 down the east side of the Garden Peninsula.

I’ve explained in previous posts that this place isn’t anything fancy. It’s an old 1960’s 12 x 50 foot trailer on a foundation with a newer roof over it and a large covered deck with a lovely view of Lake Michigan. (This is the beautiful view from our deck. It is truly a spectacular sight.)

It’s tranquil and quiet, but it does have it’s shortcomings:

  • It smells musty! The old furniture, which came with the trailer when we bought it about 20 years ago is mismatched and harbors old odors of a closed-up place. It always looks messy and not very clean.
  • It seems there are always pesky insects. Mosquitoes are a bother most of the time, and some seasons we have to avoid big wood ticks that latch onto you whenever you venture out. Spring is black fly season and in late summer we fight swarms of biting beach flies. (Thank heavens this trip we’ve just had mosquitoes.)
  • There’s no access to the lake. Over the years, because of the drop in the level of Lake Michigan, the beautiful white sand beach we purchased has turned into a weedy, mucky, no-man zone. You can’t walk across it without sinking to your knees in ooze. When we first got here Wednesday, John tried to get to the water’s edge but lost the battle. If we were here more, build a long deck or some other way of getting over the muck, but since we’re only staying for six days, it’s not worth the effort. Winter storms would erase anything we would do by next year when we return. Our hope is that by the summer of 2014, a grant which has been secured to spray the lakeshore, will eliminate some of the weeds.
  • We are totally isolated. No TV and little internet. We brought a small TV with us this time, as well as a digital converter, and an antenna. We hoped that we could watch some of our favorite TV shows. The first night we were successful for a couple of hours, but since then, not at all. Internet access is spotty. I find it nearly impossible to use my cellphone as a hot spot. I had hoped we could view some of the on-line “programming” or videos but the connection just isn’t strong enough to download anything.
  • But even saying all that, I’m glad we came up.

    Temperatures have been about 70 most of the time and even warmer some days, but certainly not hot.

    I’ve loved watching hummingbirds at our bird feeder. Their antics are amusing. I’ve had time to read a book and relax.

    So even with all the negatives, I’m glad we came up here. John works hard but seems to enjoy it, and we’ve had lots of time together without distractions.

    And the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is lovely. The drive through untouched areas is beautiful. The scenery unmatched.

    But when we head back home Monday, we will both be more than ready! If only packing wasn’t so much work. I don’t look forward to hauling everything out to the truck and trying to fit everything in. We’ll start packing Sunday. Monday John will winterize the water system and we’ll try to pull out by about 9:30 a.m.

    Comments off

    Aunt Hazel’s Memorial Service

    Yesterday we attended an unusual memorial service for my 102 yr. old aunt. Most of the tribute was lovely but then her elderly pastor took the mic. What can I say? He rambled for well over an hour. I recognized dementia symptoms. His talk had nothing to do with my aunt. It was painful! He repeated and made no sense. Ended with about a 15 minute prayer which wouldn’t end. The crowded chapel got restless. Folks started murmuring “when is this ever going to end?” An elderly guest finally had to leave. We were forced to vacate our seats until she could get out but we came sat back down after she’d left. It was horrid. The only topic after the services finally ended didn’t include my lovely deceased aunt. Everyone talked about the pastor’s behavior. How sad!!

    Dementia is cruel in so many subtle ways. Too bad about 100 of my aunt’s friends and relatives had their final tribute to my aunt interrupted by a pastor who should have been stopped 10 minutes into his rambling sermon.

    Comments off

    Another Dog??

    We’ve been thinking about getting another pet. After our visit with Shelly and Richard, we began considering a kitty, but we’ve had a tempting opportunity this week to acquire one of two adult female papillions. They were listed on Craigs list so I wrote to the owner.

    Evie, one of two little dogs that the owner was trying to place, is shown at the right. She is beautiful and it might have been a wonderful opportunity, but we have talked it over and decided that a dog would really change our care-free life. We are able to travel, to stay with friends, to stay at any motel, and life is easy. It would be complicate our comfortable situation, and we’re not sure it’s best for us.

    Ahhh but it sure was tempting.

    Since these are mature dogs, they might have some old habits that will be hard to break. During our married life, we had two sweet paper-trained dogs (Gizmo and Willow), but the new dog would expect to be walked. We have never had to walk a dog. Neither of us is anxious to have to take on that chore.

    Actually there were two females. The owner felt Joy would fit us best. We both preferred the looks of Evie because she reminded us more of Willow. (Joy had a darker face without the white accent from the forehead down and around the muzzle.) But we never met them face to face so, until we had really been around them, we couldn’t know for sure which was the best.

    After a long chat with the owner, we decided that we aren’t ready to make the commitment. Maybe we’ll kick ourselves, but for now, we decided we’re not going to accept the opportunity.

    Before the dog would have been placed with us, the owner would have had to come to our house and check it out but a home-check didn’t bother us and I’m sure we would have passed no matter what the criteria was.

    We’ll never know and just hope that we made the right decision.

    Comments off

    Stopping the Bad Guys at the Door

    About a month ago, we purchased a Simplisafe home security system for our Michigan home.

    We shopped carefully and checked out all the available systems. We were impressed that this one provides 24/7 professional alarm monitoring without a contract, no installation cost, and no phone line needed (uses cell phone service to connect to the monitoring desk). Our house is safer and, in the event of a break-in, the police would be summoned immediately.

    We’ve had Simplisafe since the middle of June, and except for a few mistakes WE’VE made, it has worked flawlessly.

    John has set it off twice when he forgot to turn it off and went out the door triggering the alarm. Both of those alarms occurred when I was still in bed and believe me, it’s a rude awakening. And I accidentally hit the “panic” button which was installed right over our bed. (My pillow bumped it but it’s since been moved). In those instances, were able to enter our “code” and the police weren’t summoned but if it had been a real problem, we’d have been protected.

    I am a true believer in the system.

    We bought a set-up which includes motion sensors, door sensors, high volume exterior alarm, temperature and water sensors. [Note: The temperature sensor is a valuable feature in Michigan to avoid frozen pipes (in the event of furnace malfunction) and the water sensor will tell us if there’s a plumbing problem or a failure of our sump pump to keep water out of our basement.] The purchase price for everything was under $400. Our monthly monitoring is under $15. Which is certainly worth it and it has lowered our home owners’ insurance about $10 a month!

    If you are curious about the Simplisafe system, feel free to contact me. If you let me know you’re interested I’ll send you a 5% discount coupon and if you buy, I’ll get a free month’s service.

    Oh, and I haven’t mentioned how helpful the service desk is. Really a first class U.S.-based operation!!!

    Comments off

    Home again, Home again

    Yup, we spent 11 days at the Osceola County Fairgrounds planning and working on the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest (the largest hammered dulcimer festival in the world.) Most of the week it was so hot that we were miserable (well over 95), but at the same time it was fun to be there.

    Thank goodness yesterday a cold front came through. It was 46 overnight and today it was only 80 for a high.

    Thank heavens!!

    Packing to head home is always difficult but if it had been hot, we’d have had a worse time. As it was, John started at 7:00 a.m. and we left about 3:30 for home in high 70’s low 80’s temps. It’s a huge job to squeeze everything back into our 28′ fifth wheel. But all in all the festival was great. The board of our club is awesome! We have a wonderful blend of friendly, knowledgeable folks and competent organization.

    When we got home we were so tired that we only brought in the stuff we needed for tonight. No dinner. Just vegging. We’re so tired!

    Sure feels good to be home.

    Two months and we’ll be heading back to Florida. I’ll be ready!

    Until then, we can relax and catch up on sleep and energy. The festival always saps both.

    Comments off

    At the festival

    We’re at the ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club)’s Funfest held at the Osceola 4-H Fairgrounds. This event is always the highlight of our year.

    This year it’s felt slightly different. I think part of the difference is that I’m honestly trying to be “less involved.”

    Because I was the only person who has worked under four different ODPC presidents (Wes Linenkugel, Don Fitzpatrick, Gail Schwandt and now Kathy Rayman), I would offer my unsolicited opinions too often, but I’m realizing the new leaders have everything under control and their methods may well be better than the way things have been done previously. I’m now treated as sort of a “respected relic.”

    It’s hard to “step back” when you see that you aren’t as vital to the success of the event as you once were.

    That doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t important. I’m still the webmaster, the workshop chairman, and I host the workshop leader rest area, but none of my ideas nor opinions are fresh and vital. I recognize that the new leaders will bring new life to this event and I’m glad to be included even on the fringes.

    So I’m trying to adjust to my new role. It’s not easy.

    I have said that after the 2015 festival, when I’ll have been workshop chairman for 20 years, I’ll step down. I haven’t found a replacement yet, but next year I’d like to start working with whoever will follow me as workshop chairman. That will be an even harder adjustment.

    Comments off

    A change of attitude

    For more than 22 years (since July 1991), John and I have attended the huge hammered dulcimer festival, aka ODPC Funfest, at the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart, MI. Most of those years, we’ve hauled a trailer and now a fifth wheel RV unit to the fairgrounds and stayed for several days.

    Since 1996, I’ve been in charge of workshops (18 years). Our involvement has required that we bring lots of “stuff” to the festival. Over the years, we have added a 20 x 20′ canopy and increased the size of our RV (now a 28′ fifth wheel with a slide) so we’re not as crowded as we were when we first started out.

    I used to wear long dresses and big hats, and would bring dozens, but I’m much more casual now (shorts and tank tops). And I’m trying to reduce what we take. Example: we used to bring about two dozen chairs for the use of those who wanted to take a seat under the canopy now we’ll have about a half dozen.

    I still bring a complete office set-up (computer, printer, copy machine, router, wi-fi source, and external hard drive). We always bring too much food. We have found that Fosters Market, adjacent to the fairgrounds, has anything we’ve forgotten and at a fair price.

    The workshop programs always create a heavy load, but we’ve cut back on those too.

    I can remember being itchy to get to the fairgrounds first. This year we will head to the festival Wednesday a.m., eight days before it starts on Thursday, the 18th, but a day later than last year.

    Most everything is packed. Wish I could load in even more so we could take off easily tomorrow without stowing last minute stuff.

    But this year I feel much more laid back. Sure, I’m anxious to get there and I’ll love seeing the folks and enjoying the music, but the urgency has lessened. I feel our attitude about the festival has matured and we’re now more relaxed.

    Yes, we could have headed out today, but it’s raining right now, and the idea of getting there in the rain and trying to set up when it’s soggy, didn’t sound appealing. It may rain tomorrow morning, but if not, we’ll hope to pull out so we can arrive before noon.

    Comments off

    What a Weekend!!!

    What a great weekend! Stephen & Caroline Cooper and Richard & Shelly Brooks opened their lovely lakeside homes on Cedar Island Lake for our close friends from Kings Point, Sun City Center, Florida (aka “the group”).

    We had enjoyed the generousity of their 4th of July parties in 2011 and 2012. On the previous two occasions we stayed at Coopers’, but this time we slept at the Brooks’ (although our days were divided between the two houses located a short distance apart).

    We arrived for lunch July 4th at the Coopers. The afternoon was spent visiting and on a pontoon ride. At 6:00 we headed back over to the Brooks where enjoyed a huge dinner. Afterward we watched the fireworks offered by the around-the-lake residents. They were wonderful! Back to the Coopers we had munchies, drinks, a bonfire, and sent Japanese lanterns skyward.

    Yesterday (Friday, the 5th), we feasted on a huge brunch and some of the group headed home. During the day, the remaining ladies played Rummikub and went shopping. Evening was another huge dinner (bar-be-que). We were joined by several of their neighbors. A nice group!

    Last night we wound down with a lengthy conversation with our hosts, Richard and Shelly. Everyone else had departed by then so we had an opportunity to get better acquainted with them. It was late when we headed to bed.

    We were up fairly early this morning and headed home.

    Now we need to pack and get ready for the ODPC Funfest. We want to be at the Evart Fairgrounds by Wednesday at the latest.

    Comments off

    Twenty years of Concerts

    For 20 years, John and I organized Haithco Park Concerts with our hammered dulcimer club, Saginaw Subterranean Strings. It was fun, and we certainly got our share of rewards working with close friends in our club and performing for wonderful audiences.

    For many years, our “core” performing group has consisted of the Conklins, the Kuhlmans and a few others. We could always count on them and it made our job easier. In January, the Conklins informed us that, because of a wedding and some family commitments, they’d decided to stay in Florida over summer 2013. We were concerned that if we went ahead with another year of concerts, it would put too much stress on the Kuhlmans who are now in their 90’s! Also there are days when John just isn’t up to the physical commitment of hauling around and setting up the sound equipment, then performing for 90 minutes, and breaking down/stowing the equipment. So early this year, we notified the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Department and posted to our club’s website that, after 20 successful years, we would no longer present the Haithco Park Concerts.

    About a month ago, we sent a notice to the club members in case they hadn’t read the website. (It should be noted that we’d hoped we might host a summer get together but that hasn’t worked out thus far and only ONE of the members has expressed an interest.)

    But it has been rewarding to hear from several who have loyally been part of our audiences. They have expressed disappointment but understanding in our decision.

    Comments off

    Fun time approaching

    Next week (over the 4th of July) we’ll have a fun “reunion” with our Florida friends who, like us, live in Kings Point, Sun City Center, during the winter months, but are snowbirds and spend summers in Michigan. We’ll head to White Lake, Michigan, to share a few days with this awesome a bunch of really nice folks.

    When we return from that fun time, we’ll have dinner on the 8th with John’s family and then pack up and head to our huge dulcimer festival, the ODPC Funfest at Evart, MI, on July 9th. We will work hard (I’m in charge of workshops and John is my right hand guy) and by the end be totally exausted. The actual festival doesn’t start until the 18th. On Sunday, July 21st, we’ll return home.

    So this next month will be fun! We will totally enjoy ourselves.

    After we return, the summer will be half gone. We may slip up to the U.P. for a week (or less) in August. September will be harvest time for John’s wine crop.

    Last year I was depressed all summer. This summer my attitude has improved. We found a band that plays in our area about once a week. We’ve been going dancing and it’s been fun. I will be ready for Florida in October, but the months between now and then will also be totally enjoyable and they will fly by.

    Life is good!!

    Comments off

    Truly “Safe” – No Foolin’!


    We’ve been back and forth to Florida dozens of times since 2005. The route is familiar and so is the concern for the home we leave behind in Michigan.

    But as of tomorrow, our home will be PROTECTED! We’ve purchased a monitored security system which will be installed tomorrow. If anyone enters, the police will be advised (and so will we).

    Previously I would post messages to this blog inferring that we were subscribed to a security system but that was just a way of deterring would-be thieves. But now we’ll be protected by high-tech motion sensors, entry alerts, sirens, and other ways of recognizing and protecting our home from intrusion. We’ll also be advised if there’s water in our basement or the heat is off.

    Yes, it came with a pricetag but cheaper than we’d thought and we will rest much better. We also get a discount on our home-owners policy because it’s not just a security system but one which has 24/7 monitoring.

    To be very honest, we don’t leave behind much of value when we head to Florida. We have no new TV sets (a couple OLD ones), no DVR devices, computers or anything else that burglars would want. I take all jewelry (most of it costume) with us. Anything we don’t take goes in our bank safety deposit box. And we sure don’t have cash laying around. (Note: In Florida, we don’t worry at all because we have closeby neighbors AND our community is GATED!)

    Our Michigan home will be protected. And this time I’m not being deceptive.



    The security system came!! It’s all installed. We have a few days to get used to having it in place before the alarms we trigger go to the central dispatch center and the police are notified. Right now it just sounds a loud siren but no one is summoned. (Eventually an even louder outdoor siren will be installed, but not during this test period.)

    We’re sure it’s money well spent. John commented that we might never have a break in, but we feel it’s worth it for the peace of mind.



    The alarm was armed when we went to bed and this morning Johh forgot when he opened the door and went out. Good thing the system is still in test mode so the central dispatchers weren’t notified because John had forgotten the passcode. Oh, well… It does work.



    At 7:00 his morning I was rudely awakened by our new security system alarm. I figured John had forgotten that he couldn’t exit without disarming it. (He was outside when it sounded.) But come to find out, it was me!! We have a “panic button” near our bed and my pillow had accidentally pushed it. Needless to say, the button has been moved to a location that is more protected. It was worse than an alarm clock. (Thank heavens the new system is still in practice mode so the police weren’t summoned by the dispatch service and we haven’t installed the outdoor mega volume siren which would have awakened the whole neighborhood.)

    We “activated” the system today but can continue to practice for a couple days. We’ll be notified when it’s truly up and running.

    Comments off

    Best Applications (aka apps) (According to Sharon)

    I realize this post won’t be of interest to everyone. It’s directed to folks, like me who have a “smart phone.”

    I have a two-year-old Samsung Android. I love it even though it’s looking a little shabby because I’ve kept it with me non-stop for the past two years so it’s pretty worn.

    Over that period I have found a bunch of apps which serve me well. I’ll share them with you. You may not have an Android, but most apps are also available in a format for iPhones.

    There are several which I don’t use much, but most folks consider staples: Pandora, Skype, twitter, Netflix, Pinterest, and Barcode Scanner. I also won’t mention those that I figure everyone is familiar with and I use a great deal: Chrome (browser), Kindle, Facebook, Gmail, Weather Channel or Accuweather, eBay, Adobe Reader, Craigslist Mobile, You Tube, CNN, and MSNBC.

    All of the ones I’ve mentioned thus far are free, but I have purchased a couple for my specific interests: Documents to Go Full version so I can use Microsoft Works files, and Draw Something pro version (a fun drawing game I play with friends). These are well-known.

    But what apps are the ones I discovered but you may not know about? (Some I may have paid a small amount for, but most were free.)

    #1 – WiFi Hotspot & USB Tether by SVTP (which I highly recommend if you have unlimited usage on your phone and restricted or no access on your computer). With this program I can use my computer as a hot-spot. It’s perfect for me. I use a usb modem from Verizon, but if that was all I had, I’d really be restricted. I’d guess I use this hotspot app at least half of the time. I hook it up and my computer can go on-line without digital volume limitations.

    #2 – At Bat (free version) so I can follow the Tigers games.

    #3 – aWallet Password Manager – The only way I can securely keep my passwords straight.

    #4 – Chrome to Phone – which lets me sent websites from my laptop to my phone easily. Only works if you use Chrome as a browser.

    #5 – Countdown Widget – I love to know how long before we head back to Florida. I set this up and know at a glance how many days.

    #6 – Evernote – which is great for keeping notes handy. I’ve even made notes to my smartphone at my bedside… things I didn’t want to forget.

    #7 – Gas Buddy – a MUST have for anyone. Shows lowest prices for gas. When traveling, it helps us plan our stops. With this information we can decide if it’s better to fill up “here” or go to a station further down the road.

    #8 – – fun to occasionally broadcast what’s going on.

    #9 – MyFitnessPal – No it hasn’t worked to help me lose weight, but it’s a great way to track what you eat and if you are better than me, what you’ve lost. (Ok so I haven’t lost, but it’s still a good app.)

    #10 – Lookout – It’s an excellent back-up and phone finder! I figure this app may never be used to locate my phone, but if it’s lost or stolen, I’ll be glad I have it.

    #11 – Silent Toggle Widget – A small button on your smartphone screens turns your sound off easily. This is such a simple tool, but I’d be lost without it.

    #12 – Drop Box – One of the best apps available. Use it to store everything from recipes to budget files. All newsletters are available through dropbox. Even works as a photo back-up area. LOVE IT!!

    If you don’t have a smartphone, this list won’t mean anything to you, but if you have one, you might discover a new to you tool.

    Comments off

    Water view

    I love love love having a view of water out my window. Our home in Michigan is on a small man-made lake. The ripples on the water are a constant. When we were here in the winter, I found the “icy” view boring. The movement, ripples, waves and sparkles are soothing and mesmerizing.

    In Florida, our view includes ponds but they’re smaller and a little further away. But even though we don’t get to observe quite as close-up, I still find the water even at a distance fascinating.

    I’m always watching out our windows. Our life is blessed!!

    Comments off

    Best fish dinner

    Florida is known for good sea food but our favorite fish is walleye served at the Moose Lodge in Saginaw, Michigan.

    It’s only available on Friday nights and it’s always a treat. The current price just under $10, but it’s worth it! We rarely order “seconds” because what they serve is ample, but it is all-you-can-eat (served with cole slaw, a roll and a nice-size order of fries or baked potato.)

    We’re headed there tonight. Already thinking about how good it will be! I’ll cut back on what I eat today so I can enjoy my dinner guilt-free. (One slice of 12-grain toast for breakfast and a large salad for lunch is all I’ll eat until evening.)

    Wish we could find similar fish when we go south. Nothing we’ve had in Florida is nearly as good although we do like Anna Maria’s Oyster Bar fish dinners but they don’t come close.

    In fact there are several foods that we miss when we’re in Florida: Michigan lake perch, fresh late summer muskmelons, June fresh asparagus (had it last night), hamburgs at Farmers Home Tavern (Hemlock, MI) or Boulevard Lounge (Midland, MI), apples picked from our trees, Traverse City cherries and vine ripened Michigan tomatoes. Yup, Michigan tomatoes are lots better than any we’ve had in Florida. At one time, I would have said the same thing about strawberries because Florida’s didn’t have the same flavor, but now we enjoy Florida strawberries that are equal to Michigan’s fine crop and Florida’s are cheaper (four quarts for $1).

    Yup, I love Florida, but there are some treats that we can only enjoy here in Michigan.

    One surprise, the steaks we get at Publix in Florida are as good or even better than what we generally find here and the price (when on sale) is lower.

    Comments off

    Looking Ahead

    It’s still months away but I’ve already made motel reservations at a Comfort Inn in Clinton, Tennessee. We’ve figured out approximately when when we’ll pull in and it seems doable (although we are always flexible.)

    Why would we book so soon? Last year, on our way south (October, 2012), we stayed in Knoxville. Recently I checked out prices for the first weekend in October and found that ALL rooms in the Knoxville area will be well over $100 a night! (Probably there’s some large gathering being held there.) Based on that information, we realize that unless we book now we may have to pay the high price. We don’t want to buy the place; we just want a clean, comfortable place to stay for one night.

    When we found that Clinton, Tennessee’s Comfort Inn serves breakfast and is priced at half that of the similar ones in Knoxville, we jumped on it.

    I use Microsoft Streets and Trips (a gps program) to create our trip plan. I can tell you where we’ll be at what time. I plan it all out. Lunch breaks, gas fill-ups, motel stays, are all pre-scheduled). (About half the time, we have to make changes, often in route. But that’s fine. At least we’ve covered our butts and made sure we aren’t stuck without a reasonable room preferably with breakfast.)

    The map shows our motel (#4) when we stop on the 5th of October, and our gas stops (#2, #3, and #5). Hidden under the #7 is a #6. #6 is Sun City Center’s Hungry Howie’s pizza (our favorite pizza carry-out) where we’ll grab our dinner before heading to our place (#7). And yes, I’ve already checked and, if we stick to our schedule, our arrival time will get us down there before sunset so we can unload the necessities before it’s dark.

    I was a hospital planner and detailing every little thing suits my personality. I love to organize. Making sure the trip south is a smooth venture, is right up my alley.

    Comments off

    Working non-stop

    ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) Funfest is fast approaching. I’m in charge of the workshop program so it’s been my responsibility to prepare the printed line-up of classes, after they’ve been submitted to my website. I didn’t start until after we got back from Florida. (Just couldn’t break away from the Florida sunshine to work on my computer.) But I’ve been working for the past three weeks and have finally finished it!! Actually I have one page to fill but that’ll be easy. I should be able to have it in the hands of the printer in about a week.

    Comments off

    Wearing a “Bib”

    My mother had alzheimers. For several years I was responsible for her care. I placed her in an excellent facility where she could be close to husband.

    But as her condition worsened, I refused to accept the way she looked after she ate a meal. Eating for her was a messy ordeal. The rest of the day, she was stuck wearing food-spotted clothes. The food often resulted in permanent stains.

    I went to her nursing home administration and explained that she needed to wear an “apron.” She’d grown up in a generation that accepted aprons. The facility claimed that it was demeaning for her to wear a “bib” and she should be allowed her dignity, but I insisted and finally demanded that she be allowed to stay clean (changing her clothes was a true struggle for her so that wasn’t an option after every meal.) I said it was more demeaning to have her clothes soiled than to wear a protective cover. They finally relented and I bought her a couple dozen terry cloth adult bibs. (Believe me by then my mom didn’t care one way or the other, but it bothered me to see her clothing soiled and stained when an apron/bib would help avoid that problem.)

    Mom passed away in 2008. I donated all of her clothes, including the terry cloth bibs I’d purchased for her, to a charity. I did keep one. It was white terry cloth and closed with velcro behind the neck.

    This past social season I realized that every time I got ready to go out to one of our fancy evenings, I somehow spoiled things by getting my liquid make-up on me. I’d try my darnedest, but it always seemed to happen, especially when I wore a dark dress. (And the spots from make up are difficult to remove!) It dawned on me…. I needed to wear a bib or apron while I got ready. So I started putting Mom’s terry cloth bib around my neck. It worked great!

    Funny I never once felt that it was demeaning!

    Comments off

    A bit about me…

    I guess I’m unusual among the senior set.

    I’ve had computers since the 1980’s even before there was a Windows program. Since I was the first one to get a computer in the hospital where I worked, I taught the employees as they were assigned computers.

    I created a database-type scheduling program for the nursing staff, wrote an inventory program for hospital supplies, and set up a (hard-wired) scheduling network (long before there was “wireless”) between surgical areas on different floors in the hospital. I developed the hospital’s first web site (which was the 2nd hospital web site in Michigan). Yet, when it comes to computer skills, I’m totally self-taught.

    But that was 20 years ago.

    Now I maintain at nine active web sites. One of them,, gets about 3 million hits a year.

    Yup, I am computer savvy and I guess that’s unusual for a 71-year-old female. It’s funny to hear the comments of astonishment, especially from tech savvy young males who aren’t used to ladies my age being knowledgeable about computers. One representative from my credit card and banking company (Chase) said, “Usually I’m trying to talk timid seniors into trying to pay bills and track their accounts ‘on line.’ I’m not used to talking to a senior lady who knows more than I do about computers.”

    Several years ago, my web site hosting company representative bestowed on me the title of their “Oldest Techie Geek.”

    Comments off

    Atypical Old Folks

    I guess we’re “old folks” but we’re not what I think of as the “average senior citizen.” We do more, we enjoy life to the fullest, and we rarely play BINGO. We go out whenever we can and never miss a fun event. But things have been different the past week or so.

    Since we’ve been home, John hasn’t been feeling well and I’ve been busy working on my workshop program project for the ODPC Funfest. That’s made couch potatoes out of both of us. I’ve been determined to finish organizing the 200+ classes and John’s just been trying to keep his stomach under control and his hip from hurting.

    So Memorial Day came and went while we vegged out. We skipped a Moose Club bar-be-que that we’d planned to attend. Thursday John has two doctors’ appointments and next Wednesday we have a BINGO (with a free burger or hot dog grilled feast) on our calendar. Maybe we are getting old.

    To balance out these symptoms of aging, we plan to go to a picnic and dance Saturday, (provided John’s “up to it” and he definitely seem to be improving).

    My ODPC workshop project is under control so I feel less pressure from it. But I’m still working on it from the couch.

    Yup, I guess we are slipping into the “aging mold.”

    Comments off

    Financial Mess

    For the past week I’ve been distracted by an imposing chore.

    Here’s the boring story: John and I always had a direct deposit checking account with Citizens Bank in Saginaw (just changed to First Merit). But we also maintained checking and money market accounts in our Sun City Center Bank, now PNC. We also have an Ameriprise investment account.

    With PNC we can access our accounts from both FL and in MI.

    Unfortunately there’s no Citizens Bank in Sun City Center so for many months I’ve had to keep my eyes on everything and “move” money between accounts to accommodate both PNC and Citizens banks. It’s been a pain, especially when we realized that, when dealing with PNC, we needed to maintain minimum deposits to avoid fees. What a mess. So recently I suggested that we SIMPLIFY!

    [My aim is to get our banking down to one checking and maybe one savings account. All deposits will go to that checking account, all debits will come automatically out. I won’t be required to manage anything. It’ll just happen automatically. Our investment account doesn’t require any “handling.”]

    A new Chase bank opened in Sun City Center just before we left. Not only were they as convenient as PNC and located both in Florida and Michigan, but they offered John a military account with lots of perks (free checks, no fees, and a safety box)!! We accepted their offer, which included a $200 incentive bonus. Eventually we’ll go from three banks down to one bank. I am working us toward that goal.

    We need to have a bank located in both cities (Sun City Center, FL and Saginaw, MI) with the lowest charges. The newly opened Chase Military account accomplished everything we wanted. Ok, so no problem. Just switch all automatic payments, and deposits to Chase and it’ll be perfect.

    Not so simple..

    I found that I needed to contact old employers (for pension plan payments) x 2, health insurance companies so we could do direct deposits x 2, Home Owners Association payments for our Condo service fees x 1, utilities (multiple), Soc. Security payments x 2, and credit card payments. (I’m sure I’ve left out a few when compiling this list.)

    It’ll take months to get it all straightened out. I only wish everything had been on our credit card because that only required one switch, but it’ll eventually work.

    I’ve spent so many hours that I can’t begin to compute them. (I would guess 16 hours minimum.) Nothing is working smoothly but on the horizon I see a break. I have requested social security and pensions to be moved. I need to coordinate the out-going payments with the income. I can’t move everything until more income accounts are up and depositing. It’ll take a couple months to straighten it all out. But at least, when it’s coordinated if something happens to us, it’ll be easier for our survivors. I wouldn’t wish this mess on anyone…

    I’m really on top of our finances and banking. What happens when folks don’t have that kind of focus.

    I have been toting multiple check books: Citizens checking, Citizens line of credit account, PNC money market, PNC checking, and Ameriprise cash. Now I’ve added Chase checking. That means six check books as well as debit cards for each of those accounts. What a mess. Hopefully I’ll get my wish and eventually we’ll be able to carry only one check book and everything will be on autopay.

    Comments off

    Can’t stay focused

    We’re home in Michigan (although definitely not unpacked). Our lovely home is messy and in need of a good cleaning.

    But I have a more demanding project.

    I MUST complete the workshop schedule for the ODPC Funfest. (I’ve been the Workshop Chairman for 18 years for the world’s largest hammered dulcimer festival.) I need to finish scheduling the rough daily grids and get them to my proofreader this week. Once she has proofed my work and the corrections have been made, I’ll work on the descriptions of the 220+ classes. It’s a huge project and takes the biggest share of a month to complete.

    The problem is, I can’t seem to stay focused. I find all kinds of excuses to do something else. I play on-line games, pay bills, do anything else. I must get busy. (So why am I writing on my blog?)

    Ok, I’ll get back at my project. No more procrastinating!!! I vow I will finish the three daily grids by Friday at the latest!!! (I currently have about 1/3 of the classes scheduled.)

    Bye for now!

    Comments off

    We’re Back!

    We made it home by about 3:00 this afternoon. Our trip north took three rather uneventful days.

    Monday things started out negatively. Everything was packed and John moved the truck in the driveway so I could get in for the 1,300 mile trip from Florida to Michigan. Just as I was ready to close the truck door, John said “Oh, no!”

    The brakes weren’t working at all. The brake line had sprung a leak and the brake fluid was in a puddle under the vehicle. With no brakes weren’t going to be able to leave. But in less than three hours we were on the road. John had been prepared with a new brake line and a couple of bottles of brake fluid, and he quickly replaced the line. We were headed north before 11:30 a.m. — three hours behind schedule.

    The brakes worked fairly well, but really needed to have the air purged from the line. He tried to open the valves on each tire to allow him to purge them but they were frozen up. The car stopped firmly, but when they were depressed John felt they were a little “mushy” and I sensed his tension.

    The trip was therefore more difficult than usual. With him being tense, I became his extra, vigilant eyes. We drove even slower and more cautious than we normally would have. We stayed in the right rather than the left lane and maintained lots of space between us and other vehicles on the road. John tried to get the brakes serviced while in route, but no one could take the truck in on short notice and since they did respond (even though mushy), we kept going. John would never have risked us if he’d felt they weren’t safe. It was just that they just didn’t feel as firm as usual, and the difference put both of us on edge.

    About 50 miles from the northern Georgia border, we ran into swarms of lovebugs. They covered the truck and made it hard to see. We stopped at a rest area to clear the windshield, and while stopped, the pesky critters made outside existence miserable. By the time we were 10 miles into Georgia, there were no more bugs, but we carried their bodies back with us.

    Traffic wasn’t bad except around Atlanta when we ran into a massive jam-up. (TV news reports explained that there’d been a police chase down I-75 to catch a bank robber. The robber lost control and crashed. We caught the end of resulting traffic tie-up.)

    First night we stayed at a lovely Quality Inn in Marrietta, Georgia. Of course we arrived later than we’d planned, but it was before 7:30.

    The room was large, pleasant, fresh smelling, clean, and the staff was really nice. They even gave us a gift box for being a preferred guest. (The box contained oranges, apples, bottled water and Chitos.) We enjoyed a pleasant late dinner at a nearby Cracker Barrel (the next building). Tuesday morning we were impressed with the huge free buffet for guests. The buffet included eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, toast, sweet breads, bagels, waffles, hot or cold cereal, and/or lots of fruit choices plus an array of juices and morning beverages like tea, coffee and milk.

    No lunch break. We just nibbled in route. Arrived at our motel in Miamisburg, Ohio, about 5:30. Again we stayed at a Quality Inn. (They’ve become our motel of choice.) This was one we’d enjoyed last year when we were headed north. It was just as nice this year, although the free breakfast wasn’t quite as spectacular as we’d enjoyed in Marrietta but with waffles, sweet breads, biscuits and gravy, cereals and yogurt, we sure didn’t go hungry. (We did miss the fresh fruit.)

    Except for quick rest stops, we drove straight through and made it home by about 3:00. .

    Our Michigan residence welcomed us. It was chilly inside (about 60), but with outside temperatures of about 80, we didn’t complain. Our house was a little stale, but absolutely no problems. Grass looked shaggy, and a bunch of branches littered the lawn, but nothing to complain about. (Mice did get inside our travel trailer, but except for droppings, it doesn’t appear there was damage.)

    We considered the trip totally successful. John will make sure the truck brakes are working better before we use it again, but he did a great job getting us safely home. We’re both tired but it feels good to be here.

    Comments off

    Click here to go to the Skaryd's Biography and a link for emailing.