Archive for2015-05 to 10 – Back in Michigan

Driving South

When we take off to make our nearly 1,300 mile journey, we both have a purpose: John is behind the wheel while I watch the GPS and keep him advised of directions.

I used to read (a lot) while he would drive, but now I take my role much more seriously. I am the navigator. He is the pilot. We watch with extreme vigilance and I realize I can’t be totally absorbed by reading an unimportant story book. I realize it’s much less stressful for him if I’m his extra eyes. Believe me we are both alert to road problems. I don’t ever relax nor does he. Hopefully we will make it safely. We’re a driving “team.”

When we get to our destination (hopefully without a hitch), it’s because we both fulfill our roles. I don’t get to read my good books, but we know we had four full-time eyes watching the road.

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Out Houses

I saw a facebook posting about outhouses. The person who was commenting seemed to be afraid of them.

We have one at our northern hide-a-way that is so primitive that few would venture in, but I’ll bet it’s actually less germ laden than most any place because it’s virtually unused.

Being from “primitive” Michigan, and an “old-timer,” I’ve used many grungy outhouses. Believe me, a clean one is definitely better than a dirty inhouse!! Yes, they sometimes have an odor, but so what?! That never hurt anyone and if the seat is comfortable, you can feel you are in the lap of luxury.

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Aging

I guess I’m getting old. I don’t feel old (well, sometimes), but according to statistics I am.

There are indications..

When you are asked to select the year of your birth from a list, and you find yourself running out of numbers before you get to yours. It’s also bad when they provide ranges such as: 1-5, 6-10, 11-18, and you’re in the highest category in the “66 or over”

But there are other indications.. I’m not as sure-footed. It’s harder to bring names to mind. I run out of “steam” faster. I have more aches and pains. My friends all have grey or no hair. Our nights end earlier (9:00 p.m. at the latest). I have had cateracts removed (but not a hip(s) or a knee(s)).

My once lovely figure now sags and bags. I don’t have a pretty perky butt any more, and my waist is almost non-existent. I don’t like to drive after dark.

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About to Head South!

Cool weather has hit Michigan (40’s tonight).

Only week and a half until we’re in Florida.

There are so many last-minute things to do. We haven’t started packing the truck, but a lot is on the dining room table (in the staging area) ready to take it out. It’s loaded!

I feel I’m as ready to head south as I can be at this point, but there’s a lot I need to accomplish. I need to carry the stuff from the dining room to the truck, read through (and follow through) the list of things to do. The house still needs to be cleaned before we can “lock the door” behind us.

There are little things (like changing my ship to address on eBay and Paypal). I need to contact my Visa credit card and the local police so they’ll know we’ve left for the winter.

I’ve about finished packing clothes. There is lots of laundry to be done. And more.

But I look ahead and in less than two weeks we’ll be in the sunny south. Hopefully we’ll have arrived on Saturday, gone to an Oldies but Goodies Dance on Sunday (with Flash Back), John will have gone to a Monday chorus and we’ll have picked up our badges. On Tuesday, I’ll have attended an exercise class or two, and we’ll feel comfortable in our Sun City Center, Kings Point, residence. We’ll go to Karaoke on Tuesday evening. And I want to spend a lot of time lounging at the pool after walking to it.

Sounds hectic, but I love the pace.

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Fall nAllergies

It’s that time of the year! Every fall, from late August until the first heavy frost, I suffer from ragweed allergy. I try to stay inside, but it seeps in.

Today it’s especially bad.

I found this map on line.

That’s another reason I love heading to Florida. There is NO ragweed in our part Florida.

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Entertainment

I subscribed to the Entertainment discount coupons on September 7th at http://entertainment.com.

They offer a $.99 one-month trial and that is perfect for us since, when the month is up, I can cancel. Renewal is almost $5 monthly. Since there are very few Florida Entertainment deals close to our community, renewing for the second month wouldn’t make sense.

Tuesday, the 15th, we tried for the first time to use a discount coupon for a nice dinner but it didn’t work. We wanted to celebrate our 30th anniversary but I was unable to print the coupon. The instructions said you could print a coupon OR use your phone, show it to your server, and you’d get the discount. As it turned out, despite what it said on their website, the waitress said they only accept printed coupons. She suggested putting our phone on a scanner and printing it out that way. We left the restaurant and ate elsewhere. The next day (the 16th) I tried following the servers suggestion, but come to find out, that meant we could only use the coupon that one day and we couldn’t get back that soon. (The printed coupons are normally good for two weeks. I didn’t know that the phone-type coupons expired that day and wouldn’t even be available on the 17th.)

I sent a complaint email to Entertainment’s customer service. Today I got an response saying that that my account had been “re-set” so the coupon could be used. This time, I was successful printing out the paper coupon and next Tuesday we’ll go back to the Rustic Inn and we’ll enjoy our delayed steak dinner. Hope it’s worth all this trouble.

In the meanwhile, I looked ahead to our time in Florida. The only coupon I found that we could use in our area is a pizza coupon on for South Shore Pizza and Subs on College Avenue (aka SR-674). It’s only about two miles from the entrance to our gated community (Kings Point). The coupon is for 50% off the regular price and their pizzas are excellent. Our tradition is to grab a pizza before we go to our condo as we get down there. South Shore is conveniently located for that evening.

Our current $.99 Entertainment membership will expire on October 7. But I thought of a solution. Our current subscription is in John’s name with our Michigan address, skaryds@dulcimers.com, and our 989 phone number.

Before we leave for Florida, I will subscribe under Sharon Skaryd using our Florida address, my gmail or Brighthouse email and our Florida 813 phone number. It’ll cost me $.99 for a month as a new member. With that membership, we’ll get half off the South Shore Pizza price. I will need take time to print it out before we finish packing (since I take the inkjet cartridges with us).

We can pick up the pizza and then head to our condo in Kings Point, Sun City Center. It’ll be just as close as stopping at Hungry Howie’s where we usually pick up our first evening meal to enjoy at the condo. Pizza from South Shore is better but usually more pricy! Hungry Howie’s a bargain at $6, but I just figured it out and the regular price for a large pepperoni from South Shore would be $10.99 plus tax. With half off the $10.99, we’ll pay approximately $5.50.) Sounds good!

We’ll just need to remember to exit at the Ruskin exit to the west, instead of the next exit which is toward Sun City Center to the east. And hopefully we left a couple beers in the ‘fridge.

Perfect!

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After the Fall…

Since I fell and badly broke my wrist on July 11th, 2014, my life has changed and things are totally different. The 5 1/2 hour surgery when two plates and 16 screws were inserted left me with a hand that doesn’t work like it should. It’s numb and hot and cold sensitive with little flexibility.

Yes, I get by, but even little jobs like peeling and removing the apple cores causes discomfort. (I tried to help John peel apples but my whole hand’s been sore since I did that little chore for about a half hour.)

I doubt if I’ll ever feel I can move and use it normally as I did before I fell.

As a result of this change in my life, things continue to change:

I’ve gained more weight because I’m less active.
I find walking and dancing more difficult because I’m fearful of falling again.
I’m less energetic because I’m not moving around as much (one breeds the other).
It’s an effort to do any housework, so it doesn’t get done.
Because I’m chubby, I feel old and unattractive.
My clothes don’t look good on me.

Oh, well… It could be worse. We can afford the best of care.

I still have my wonderful husband beside me and our life is pretty easy.

When we get to Florida, I’m sure I’ll be more active. I vow to go to exercise classes and walk more. I’ll feel younger.

Four years ago I wrote a blog post about feeling younger when in Florida. http://sharons-blog.com/?p=6659

At that time, I said, “Something about the Southern climate and attitude changes us. (snip) I’ll bet if a test could be done, we’d each de-age by 20 years. I can’t help but wonder if we stayed in the south all year if our age-regression would take us back to childhood.” I feel that way more and more. I can’t wait to be a kid again.

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55th Reunion

Tonight we’ll attend my Midland High School Class of 1960 reunion. It’ll be the 55th! Not overly anxious but it might be fun/interesting. I’ll report on the event later.

—————–

It was an ok night. Not great, but I’m glad we went.

A big reason for going to a reunion is to compare yourself with others. I felt we measured up. My guy was the best looking, and even John said I rated very high among the ladies.

It was nice seeing Sue Lloyd, Carole and Jim DeLong, Pat Sycle, Cindy Dehn, and other “old” friends.

There was no meal, just munchies but enough to fill us up. Drinks were on the high priced side. (Steep for an American Legion which is usually very reasonable.)

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My on-line business selling dulcimers

In October 2004, I started selling hammered dulcimers.

My friend, Rick Thum and awesome instrument builder, had encouraged me. I’d decided to try selling on line and established http://dulcimers.biz. My sales were never huge, and in fact I didn’t sell any at all in 2014 (eight in 2013). Starting this summer, things seemed to be picking up. I have sold four in the past few months.

Wednesday, I called Jim Newman, owner of Jake’s Cabin Dulcimers. Jake’s builds the smaller instruments Rick Thum used to sell: Meadowlarks, Wrens, and Travelers. I was placing an order with him. During that call, he informed me that he is giving up his business. Unless he is able to sell the rights to those instruments, there will no longer be a Jake’s Cabin Dulcimers.

I’m not changing anything on my website at this point. I am suggesting that buyers check with Chris Foss (Songbird Dulcimers). I admire and respect Chris. His instruments are an excellent quality. I also recommend Lost Valley Dulcimers formerly built by Linda Foley and Curt Sanders and now built by Jerry Cyr.

I’ll also continue to give information to those who are just getting started.

Maybe I’ll find another builder with instruments I can distribute. I’ve thought about calling and talking with Chris or Jerry, but I figure there’s time and I want lots of free time to play in Florida. I don’t want to be tied to my computer revising site pages.

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Lots of plans (from now until end of October)

We’ve been making plans for the next couple of months.

We’ll only be in Michigan for about three more weeks but here’s what’s lined up:
My 55th class reunion is this Saturday.
While in Michigan, John has plans for doctor and optical appointments and we both have dental cleanings scheduled.
We will probably try to go to the grand opening of the Evergreen Tavern on September 25th and/or 26th for a pig roast.
We’re still owed a dinner for our 30th anniversary.
October 3rd or 4th we’ll visit Audra, John’s daughter.
October 6th we have a Skaryd family dinner planned in Owosso.
October 7th a senior luncheon.
And on Sundays at the Evergreen from 4-8, Tuesdays at the Back Forty from 6-9, and Thursdays at the Evergreen from 6-9, we can attend country dances. We may not go to all but they are available and fun.

Then we’ll head to Florida on October 9th and arrive on the 10th.

On October 11th we have an Oldies but Goodies dance, a Michigan Club welcome back wine and cheese party on the 20th, a bar-be-q and potluck on the 29th, a Baby Boomers Halloween Party on the 31st.

In October, we have dermatologist, pulmonologist, optical, and physical appointments.

If we feel like it, we can go to exercise, chorus and dance classes, Tuesday karaokes, Thursday Rockin’ Rendezvous, and several meetings including John’s Wednesday “pickers” gathering. We have pool parties and pool relaxation. There’s a Kings Point garage sale on the 23rd and 24th.

And that only takes us through the end of October. We have lots more in November and December, but looking two months out is sufficient for this update.

Busy busy busy. Love it but I’m already tired thinking about all the stuff we have on our agenda.

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Started packing

Previously I’d vowed I’d wait until a week before we leave to start packing. Last year I started too early and by the time we were ready to leave, I forgotten what I’d packed. I couldn’t remember if or where it was stashed. I ended up unpacking and repacking, so I promised myself I’d wait until “last minute.” Sadly I’m too impatient. Nothing’s in the truck, so it’s not technically “packed,” but I went through my closet and moved everything I’ll be taking together. I can see how much that’ll be. I can easily add to the grouping, if I discover items I’ve missed. Everything is still accessible.

I also went through the two flat bins I use for capris and slacks. I have twice as many pair as I need for Florida so I’ve decided I’ll leave quite a few pair in Michigan. I tried them on and picked out a bunch to leave behind. At this point I am able to fit those capris, slacks, and shorts that I’ll take in one bin. I’ll use the other bin for tops. Dresses and items I don’t want wrinkled will be dealt with differently.

Lingerie, bathing suits, and jackets will all go in a plastic garbage bag with other items (maybe hair care, medicines and office supplies). And my jewelry, and perfume will go in my carry-in bag. My shoes are all packed now in a heavy clear plastic bag.

This year it seems there are more than the usual number of extras: wine, musical instruments, air purifier, vacuum cleaner, deck chairs, and power washer but we’ll manage somehow.

I’m gathering a pile of stuff in the dining room: Tax records, extra bottles of instant coffee, and other things from my packing list are in that staging area. More will be added over the next three weeks. I want to be packed by about October 1st. John will be packing all the pails of wine and the perishable food that we’ll take from our refrigerator.

Since I have several lists to check against, I feel I’m sorta organized.

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Computer wouldn’t let me in

One of those hair-pulling days.

I have a good size USB drive I use for back-up and it is messed up. When I try to use it, an error comes up saying it is write protected even though it isn’t. I decided to work on it and see if I could reformat it.

I tried countless on-line suggestions but none worked. I stumbled on one which sounded do-able — to let my computer format it in “Safe Mode.” All of the extras would be shut off and the formatting might work.

I started up the computer in “safe mode” but my computer has a four digit number for a password and when I tried to get in, my pin number didn’t work. I couldn’t get any further.

I called Lenovo’s customer service. Come to find out the password is a Windows function so I’d have to work with Microsoft. I was given a Windows/Microsoft site to reset my password, but I figured out on my own that if I needed to use the Microsoft password, maybe that would solve the problem.

Yes!!! My original Microsoft/Windows password worked. Once I got in, I shut off safe mode, gave up the idea of formatting the usb thumb drive, and bought another from eBay.

But before I got to that point, I read the user guide. It was scary. It said that if I’d forgotten my password, there was no help for me. Either an authorized service center would try to fix it or I’d need a new mother board. Both would be at my cost. I hadn’t forgotten my pw but who would believe me? When I got it to work, I felt much better. Whew!

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Today’s our day!

Today, September 10th, is our 30th wedding anniversary. Sadly neither of us felt up to par today.

To celebrate, the plan had been to go to a steakhouse (Rustic Inn in St. Charles) and then dancing at a nearby establishment (The Evergreen on Swan Creek Road). But both of us felt yucky all day (an intestinal thing) and we finally admitted it to each other.

We decided to postpone our celebration to another time within the next week. Hopefully then a nice (extravagant) meal will be enjoyed. So our dinner tonight was a cheap bottle of wine and a frozen chicken kiev on rice while watching the ripples on the lake outside our great room window. I’m not complaining and I sure felt better staying home and not trying to go out. Hopefully we’ll enjoy a fancy restaurant meal in a few days.

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Our 30th Anniversary

Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating a milestone. September 10th is our 30th wedding anniversary!

Yup, 30 years ago we were married.

It was a very small ceremony at a nearby church. The minister was our friend, Dick McCool, chaplin at St. Mary’s, who passed away several years ago. You can read about him here: sharon’s blog post about Dick (Chaplin Richard) McCool. He was a very close friend and he always said we were his best “success story.” It was special to have such a brave, inspirational person officiate. He was amazing.

The witnesses to our wedding were my parents, John’s parents and his two children. When the ceremony was over we headed to my (our) house on Hemmeter where we had cake, coffee, and munchies. Nothing fancy. It was appropriately low-key.

The next morning, John and I headed out on our honeymoon to Toronto. We almost missed the train, but it was all fun. We were only gone part of a week.. a lovely experience.

No big hype, but whatever we did stuck. We’ve held onto those vows for 30 years, and plan to continue together for the rest of our lives.

As John says, it’s getting a little late to start over and by no means do either of us desire a “re-start.”

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Wine Making

John’s making pear wine in the kitchen and our house smells like a cheap bar. I swear if I take a deep breath, I’ll be over the legal limit. (And the fermentation is just starting. It’ll get worse.)

Did I mention sticky floors? I use my swiffer floor scrubber many, many, many times each day but the floors can still stop me in my tracks. I love his wine, but the time when it’s being prepared is a challenge. Come and rescue me if you don’t hear from me. I’m probably stuck to the kitchen floor.

We’ll be hauling the wine to Florida with us. Last year we used five gallon carboys and one cracked down the seam while in route. Every time we stopped, I commented that I could smell wine. By the time we got to our condo, we’d lost half from that container. They could have followed our trail all the way from Michigan down I-75. This year John’s doing it differently. He’ll put the wine in five gallon covered “pails” which are less apt to crack. There are other advantages of pails over carboys: they are lower and flat on top so some stuff can ride on them and they are stackable to bring them back to Michigan.

It looks like it’s going to be tough cramming everything in. We thought that on this trip back, we’d be traveling light, but the load keeps growing. The wine might crowd out the deck chairs I really want to bring for our lanai. I’m so hoping for four of them but I may have to settle for two, if we can even fit them in.

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I succeeded!!

Yesterday when I discovered that the “Email Me” link on the right side in the “Menu” area of this page no longer functioned, I got busy and I found a fix for it.

I will have to add the same fix to several other pages where I thought folks could send emails to me. Hope this works. Please try it out. Just say hi.

And thanks!!

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Who is reading this stuff?

I’ve been posting more lately.

Maybe that has something to do with why http://sharons-blog.com has been getting more hits.

I just checked and, Webilizer (the tracking system used by Bluehost, my company) shows 12 months of data at a time.

Since September, 2015, only has four days, it’s really not a complete count for this month. Yet the 12 months October 2014-September 2015 has recorded 1,272,786 hits for http://sharons-blog.com. During the same period, dulcimers.com, which is my main site, has recorded 1,554,477. Doesn’t seem possible!

Who is listening to the ramblings of this 73-year-old lady, Sharon Skaryd? Just who are you? Sometimes I wish I allowed comments, but I found many years ago that there are too many abusers when comments are permitted. Language, sex toy promotions, etc. all would have to be deleted and I just don’t have the patience to deal with perversion.

Note: Because of this post, I tried the email link on the right side of the page (in the menu area). It isn’t working. Times have changed and the method previously used has been eliminated so I need to revise it. I will also have to change the coding on several pages. I will try to do it this next week. I do hope folks know I would welcome any emails sent to me at sharon@sharons-blog.com or to skards@dulcimers.com.

Yo..hoo….. who’s out there?

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Five Weeks

Five weeks from today (on Friday, October 9th), we take off for Florida. We’ll leave as early as possible and arrive 640 miles later at the Quality Inn in Sweetwater, Tennessee, at about 6:30 p.m.

The next morning (Saturday, the 10th), we’ll be up early, enjoy a breakfast provided by the motel, and hit the highway by 8:00. Our arrival (after several potty stops and lunch break), will get us to our condo at 5:54 p.m. Obviously the times may vary a little but I figure everything out pretty closely and unless there are major traffic problems, we should get there pretty much on schedule. We want to arrive before dark. Sunset occurs at 7:05 that night. By arriving before 6:00, we should be able to eat, then unload while it’s light.

Eat? Yes, we wait until we get to the condo to enjoy dinner. We’ll stop at Hungry Howies in Sun City Center and pick up a large pepperoni carry-out pizza which we’ll have ordered 10-minutes before Exit 240A. The plan is to take our still hot pizza to the condo, rush inside, pop open a couple of beers and enjoy meal #1 at 2604 Newcomb Court.

Then the unloading will start. There are always a few things that need to come in, and that’s why we will appreciate the hour (or more) before darkness. We won’t be able to totally settle-in, but it really isn’t necessary because so much is still at the condo from spring when we left. The bed will be ready for us, cable and internet started. We’ll bring in the perishables and do the rest the next day.

When we get up the next morning (Sunday), the Tampa Tribune should be on the drive. We’ll spend most of the day getting everything out of the truck.

Sounds like I have everything figured out but John’s wine may create problems. He’s making more and more which takes up a lot of space. We want to take back four stacking deck chairs with fluffy cushions. Might be a tight fit. (Especially since we have a few other big items to take back: our musical instruments, air purifier, power washer, and Shark vacuum plus our clothes, shoes, and food.)

Maybe Sunday we’ll have time to go to the pool, but probably not. (I’ll want to wash my hair and freshen up because at 6:30 Sunday evening, we’ll be at the Oldies But Goodies dance at the Community Hall in Sun City Center. Our favorite band, Flash Back, will be playing for our dancing pleasure.

Betcha after a glass or two of wine, and some trips around the dance floor, we’ll be ready for bed Sunday night (October 11th).

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Rain in Michigan – but nothing like Florida

We’ve had several days of rain here in Michigan. (None today but cloudy, over-cast, and increasingly humid.)

Nevertheless we can’t complain because Florida folks in the vicinity of our condo have been hit with almost non-stop showers and rain storms for the past month. As if that’s not enough, that area is now being hit by the remnants of Erika, the tropical storm. It dissolved before hitting Florida, but it’ll be sending rain into Tampa/Sun City Center. There’s a flood watch for that area.

We never need to worry about a storm surge coming from Tampa Bay because we’re far enough inland to avoid that concern. But outside our condo there’s a low spot, and it’s common for us to get water on our lanai. Doubtful that it’ll ever come into our condo, but it does make for a mess that needs to be cleaned up when we get there. Oh, well…

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Fish or no fish

I’ve been trying to lose weight without success. Especially when I’m in bed and can’t sleep, I think about my resolve to get in shape. It always sounds so easy in those wee hours. I figure when I get up, I’ll jump on the exercise bike or go for a long walk. I’ll consume practically no calories. I’ll be good.

Then morning comes and all my good intentions disappear.

Last night was such a sleepless night. As I tried to turn off my mind, I vowed to lose at least five pounds before we head back to Florida (in the next 43 days.) I was going to avoid high calorie meals. But then morning came and I realized that today is Friday and we want to go to the Moose for one of their wonderful, all-you-can-eat fish dinners. We always enjoy beer with that meal.

I argued with myself. Should we go for fish? We’ve planned it all week. We’ll be really sorry when we’re in Florida because we can’t find any fish equal to walleye served at the Moose in Michigan.

We finally decided to go and I’ll just restrict my consumption the rest of the day.

So right now I’m hungry. I am planning to eat that one huge meal so I have to wait. No munchies. And maybe I better go jump on the bike.

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Everything’s working

My computer and printer are working perfectly.

So glad I didn’t follow the suggestion of the Microsoft rep who thought the only solution to my problems would be to reinstall Windows 10 as a new installation, which would have eliminated all the programs and files except those Microsoft includes when it does the Windows 10 install. It would have taken me at least a week to reinstall all my “purchased” programs, set them up, and then add the previously created files for each of those programs. (In fact I’m afraid I may not have the disks for all of them.)

Today I used what I’ve learned over the past few days and connected with my external 2TB hard drive wirelessly. I’ve had the drive for several years, but this is the first time I’ve been able to back up to it without halting all other work on my computer. I was successful setting it up using the Charter router (the same one which connects to the internet). The external hard-drive acts like a drive on my computer. I can copy to it easily and I’m amazed at the speed. I backed-up all of my computer files today and it only took about an hour. I can remember when the same process took a couple days.

I still don’t have my Lexmark printer working wirelessly, but that’s ok. I can tote my laptop to the dining room (where the printer is located), connect to my USB port, and print easily. When I get to Florida, I’ll try harder to get the printer to work without any connections, but even if I could get it to work here/now, I’ll have to re-do it in Florida, so I might as well wait. As it is, I will have to re-do the connection to the 2TB hard drive, but now that I know how it works, I think I can do it quite easily. Hopefully I can use the same process to get the Florida Brighthouse connection to work.

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Saved $79

About eight or nine days ago, I upgraded to the latest, greatest Windows program: Windows 10.

About a week later, I realized my newly installed Windows 10 program had created some problems with my five or six year old Lexmark printer. I tried for a couple days (unsuccessfully) to fix things. Finally, today I called Lexmark.

As the customer service rep checked files and settings using a program that allowed him to go into my computer, I watched. I saw a problem which I assumed he saw too but he didn’t even try to repair anything. At that point he told me he would fix my printer but it would cost me $119 for a year’s service (up to three problems calls) or $79 to just get it working today. $79 was too much! The printer is old. I can buy a new one for less than that. But after I turned down his offer, I went back and found the problem I’d noticed as he was going through my computer. I fixed those problems and guess what, it’s working! Whew! Saved $79!

I won’t say how much time I wasted over the past few days. The problem occurred when I tried to reinstall the Lexmark program. The program stalled and said that remnants of the old program remained. I kept trying everything I could think of to delete all the Lexmark files, drivers, and references so I could do a clean install with a 64-bit version of the install program. I ended up going into reg edit, which is a touchy program that allows the editing of the program registry (where all of the installed programs are listed.) It was risky, but I’d tried everything. I thought I’d found all of the references to Lexmark, but when the representative was scanning the directories, I saw the representative had discovered one more place where there was reference to Lexmark and that’s what I deleted.

Hope it doesn’t mess up again.

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We’re getting closer

Today I worked to figure out what 2015 papers we need to take with us to Florida so we’ll be prepared to do our income tax in April. It’s always difficult. We don’t want to take too much, but if we forget something, it can be a problem. We’ve had friends who had to fly back to Michigan from Florida because they forgot something they couldn’t do without. That’s an expensive error!

It has gotten much easier over the years because I can access almost everything on line or on my computer. If I’m lacking, I can usually find what I need without the paper copy.

But when we came back from the Upper Peninsula this past Friday, we realized we had forgotten several things. They’ll be there when we get back up north, and we can replace them, nevertheless it’s annoying. Thankfully nothing we forgot is critical, but forgetting even our bug spray, raisins, and baking powder, shakes my confidence. I need to be even more aware when I’m packing for Florida. No room for forgotten items.

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Too Hot

We went to a Skaryd family reunion in Bannister at the ZCBJ Hall. Unfortunately it was horribly HOT and although there were fans, they just seemed to accent the hot air.

We left at about 1:30. Stopped at the Evergreen Tavern where we sat with some of our friends. Nice seeing them (especially Wilma and Ron) but we didn’t stay long. The heat had just drained us.

Back home. Our place with A/C was perfect! We watched a baseball game and a golf match while I installed a Windows 10 upgrade to my computer. After exploring the new program a little, I read a little while John snoozed. It was what we needed to relax.

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Purging

Today we worked to get some little-used items cleaned-up for sale: an 1980’s Atari console with eight games, an electronic knitting machine with advanced features, a 55-gallon fish tank, and two nearly 30-year-old bikes (with roomy seats and old-style handlebars). All of these items have been ignored for many years and they are dirty! It take a lot of elbow grease to polish them up.

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We’re back in the Lower Peninsula (at home)

Our stay was pleasant although the last full day (Thursday) was waaaay too hot! On Wednesday, I was bit by some nasty flies that left scary red welts on my arm so I was avoiding the “outdoors.” Our old trailer has very small windows and therefore little ventilation. It was nearly 90 in the shade on the deck and about the same inside with no air movement. A fan helped, but it was oppressive.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were predicted to be even hotter!! We packed up Friday a.m. and left for home. We made it by mid-afternoon.

It felt so good to get into air conditioning.

I’d also missed cable TV and wi-fi.

We still haven’t totally unpacked, but we’re working on it.

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Today we’re 60 days from fun

I’m enjoying our peaceful get-away in the U.P. There’s lots of time to just take it easy. I’ve read a couple of books, drank a bit of wine and vegged!

Yesterday we went into Manistique and hit a few re-sale shops. (No purchases but lots of looking.) We also enjoyed a beer at a folksy tavern and a great burger at a drive-inn called Clyde’s (which was awarded “best burger in the U.P.”)

The 60 days until fun refers to our arrival at our condo in Florida on October 10th. SIXTY DAYS! I’m ready.

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Watching the critters

Yesterday afternoon we watched a small spotted fawn feed on grass about 40 feet from our deck. We sat quietly for 15-20 minutes and observed him. Eventually he wandered off but came back later. We also saw an adult deer.

But when it comes to creepy, crawy, this a.m. I spotted a wood tick on John’s neck (but got him off before he dug in) and John killed what he thinks was a recluse spider. The mosquitoes aren’t quite as plentiful as some years but the other bugs are bad even in limited numbers.

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We made it to the U.P.

Tried unsuccessfully to beat a rainshowever to our place but we were a little damp when we arrived.

John had to clear a couple of downed trees in order to get in the driveway.

Hauling everything inside was a chore but somehow we managed and even slept in our new bed last night.

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We head north tomorrow (early)

Guess we’re finally ready to take off tomorrow morning for our place in the Upper Peninsula. Originally we thought we’d leave on Wednesday, but it became apparent that we’d have to rush, so we postponed our departure. The advantage of being “retired” is that you can alter your plans.

It’s definitely harder to go to the Upper Peninsula than it is to go to Florida. When heading north, we have to bring all of our food, all of our bedding, linens, lawn mower, weed whackers, chain saws, musical instruments, a compressor to blow out the water lines for the winter, and more.

When we go to Florida, we bring a cooler with perishable food items we haven’t used up before leaving. There are also some of our favorite clothing items and shoes, but most of our Florida clothes stay there. We tote a few things back and forth like our musical instruments, our power washer, a few deck chairs we aren’t using here, and a few computer items (like my back-up drive). But most everything else stays-put in Florida from season to season. It’s much easier. (The deck chairs will be a challenge, but if we can’t fit them in, we won’t bring them, or we’ll bring two instead of the four we plan to relocate. They’ll just look much better than the 40-year old ones we inherited from my parents.)

Fitting everything in the truck this trip has been especially difficult. We wanted to replace the bed that’s up there. I went on line and purchased two extra long twin mattresses which we will use together as one. We’ll cover the twins with a king-size mattress pad to make a king-size bed. The mattresses are memory foam and right now they are compressed for shipping. The two boxes they were shipped in are good size but easier to manage than a king-size mattress would be.

We are using the “foundation” which was under our mattress (here in Michigan). We no longer needed the foundation because we’d purchased an frame that’s elevated, giving us some extra storage room under the bed.

When we didn’t sell the foundations on Craig’s List, we decided to keep them and use them up north.

We had to figure a way to pack to the two foundations, which were just a tad too long to fit in the bed of our pick-up truck. It took John almost a full day of trial and error until he could get the foundations, new mattresses, lawn mower, compressor, our food for a week (including all staples), crammed in. He ended up elevating the end of the foundations and tying them down. Once he did that, the rest fit into place.

We haven’t been to our place on Lake Michigan since 2013. Last year therapy on my broken wrist required that we stick close to home. (It’s nearly 700 miles round-trip so not the kind of a jaunt you do for only a day or two.) We always make lists saying what we left there, but what it boils down to is that we have to bring all the staples: coffee, sugar, flour, and everything else for meals.

There are stores in the U.P. so we will manage, but we hope we’ll have all of the necessary stuff.

We take off at 8:00 tomorrow. I won’t have internet except for my smart phone, provided we have cell signal.

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Isn’t it lovely

Here’s a photo that is used on our Florida Community Kings Point’s website. Love it. I can imagine I’m in the upper left corner under the green awning because that’s my “usual” shady spot.

I can walk to the pool without hurrying in less than five minutes. It’s about 1,100 steps on my pedometer.

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Prices, Produce, and Green Grass

I started to make a list about stuff I prefer in the North (or conversely in the South). The list balances out with neither Michigan nor Florida being a clear favorite.

Some of the items I listed are better in the North because they’re “in season” during Michigan’s summer months. Examples: Michigan-grown raspberries, muskmelons, apples, cherries, and Michigan corn-on-the-cob. Or Michigan’s flowers which don’t grow well in Florida: tulips, lilies, lilacs, peonies, red buds trees, apple blossoms, roses. But other items are better in the South.

Shopping in the two areas can be distinctly different. Some store chains are available to us only while we’re in Michigan while others only while in Florida. (Not that the stores I mention aren’t located in other states, but for this discussion, we’re comparing what is available to us in the Saginaw (Thomas Township) area in the North or in Sun City Center in the South.)

Here are some of our regional chain stores with their specialties. You can buy Publix yogurt or get a wonderful Publix sirloin steak or shop for tropical-weather styles in Bealls in Florida; while Michigan has Meijers, Menards, and Jack’s Produce and Meats. In fact, when we head South in October, I’ll bring with us some items we buy in Michigan at our local Saginaw Aldi’s stores: caesar dressing, paper products, and jalapeno flavored kettle chips. (Note: By next year, hopefully they’ll have completed an Aldi’s in Sun City Center, but we understand it’s a long way from being open. Also SCC’s Aldi’s may not carry everything we find in our Saginaw stores. Example our favorite caesar dressing wasn’t available when we stopped at a Florida Aldi’s a few years ago.)

In Florida, there are Sweet Tomatoes restaurants for a good lunch, and we obviously love Busch Gardens for a day of shows and animals. We also enjoy Little Harbor for a romantic water-side setting. But there’s no place in Florida that comes close to the Saginaw Moose lodge for cheap super Friday night all-you-can-eat walleye or perch dinners, nor is there any place in Florida like Farmers Home Tavern for a great reasonably priced burger.

I am partial to Florida clothing styles: Chicos name-brand, shorts for men, Bealls, and beachy colors.

The color white is always perfect in Florida, but white is a no-no from Labor Day to Memorial Day in Michigan. Black always seems to be ok in Michigan, but looks totally wrong in Florida, even mid-winter, unless it’s really cold!

Florida features superior re-sale shops. (Let’s face it, a lot of stylish older folks die in Florida. Their survivors usually donate the stuff in their closets and cupboards to resale/fund raising sales.) Michigan has resale locations are filled with poor quality junk!

Regional styles extend beyond closets and food choices to exterior home styles and furnishings. Stucco is popular and attractive Florida but would look out of place in Michigan. I like our charcoal leather couch and loveseat in Michigan, but in Florida, I’d consider them way too dark and bulky. Tile is great in Florida, but in Michigan I prefer our solid cherry wood floors.

I love the lush vegetation we have in Michigan. Maple trees are glorious. Our grass texture is soft and wonderful in Michigan, while broader, stiffer, more heat resistant grass blades are common in Florida. Palms and colorful bougainvillea are lovely in the South, but the cool shade of maple, birch, or Michigan oak trees is unequaled. In the fall, the reds and golds of Michigan trees are blindingly brilliant.

For scenery, it’s a toss-up. Michigan has the Mighty Mac Bridge linking the upper and lower peninsulas, but Florida has the Sunshine Skyway Bridge crossing Tampa Bay. Michigan has the shorelines of Lake Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Superior but Florida has the Atlantic, the Pacific and Tampa Bay. Can’t come much closer to a draw than that.

Looking up, the skies are prettier in Florida. Big puffy clouds seem more “close-up” probably because we’re close to Tampa Bay and the “pull” of the ocean plays a part. And I’ve never seen sunsets with clouds that echo the colors like I see in Florida.

And then there’s produce. Don’t get me started on strawberries. Folks who say that Michigan strawberries are better than Florida’s probably haven’t had a freshly picked Florida strawberry in the past dozen years (the varieties of strawberries have changed and no longer are the Florida berries white inside and hard. Florida’s are huge, juicy and unbelievably tasty. Michigan’s are smaller and not as sweet.

But the reverse is true about Michigan and Florida raspberries. The only raspberries we’ve seen in Florida are not locally grown, but in Michigan we can go to the garden in June and early July and gather sweet luscious berries.

We can pick Michigan McIntosh or spy apples off the trees in September, and grapes from our vineyard. Nothing better.

Tomatoes are also better (sweeter) in Michigan.

Corn-on-the-cob used to be much better in Michigan, but like strawberries, the new varieties have leveled the field.

Understandably the climate of Florida produces lovely orchids and pineapples which can grow outside and I’ll never get used to what I considered “house plants” growing outside. (I’m referring to gardenia plants, split leaf philodendrons and variegated schefflera.)

My mother used to plan her trips to Michigan around the availability of Michigan produce. If possible, she wanted to take back a bushel or two of Michigan apples and she spent her entire visit consuming an excess of corn-on-the-cob and muskmelons. She also took rolls of Viva paper towels and claimed that there was a distinct difference between north and south paper products.

The size of boxed wine is different in Florida than in Michigan. In Florida, you’re lucky to get a 3-liter box of wine while in Michigan the standard box is 5-liters. (And yes, in Michigan, the price for the 5-liter box is about the same as the 3-liter box in Florida.)

Allergies are different in Michigan and Florida. I sneeze a lot more in Michigan, because I have Michigan ragweed intolerance but John finds the Florida oak trees produce a pollen that kicks in his allergy symptoms.

The availability of good doctors in Florida is better than in Michigan. Probably we find that to be true because in our Florida community the physicians are geared toward a senior community. (In Michigan we found it impossible to “get in” to a new primary care physician. In our Michigan community, although we tried repeatedly, we couldn’t find ANY doctors taking new patients. In Florida, we easily found a great primary care doctor and the dermatologists are much more accessible there.)

Without the freeze and thaw of a Michigan winter, the roads are in better shape in Florida.

We love that many residents who reside in Sun City Center (Kings Point) create a “blended community” in our part of Florida. This situation is a result of folks who spend winters in the sunny South from the states in the northeast and Canada as well as Michigan. We get to Florida and happily congregate in our community. All parts of our great country come together! But the extra thing that makes this situation great is that we’re all at the same stage of our life. We’re all retirees. We’re all comfortable enough to have a Florida home and we’re all open to new friendships. It’s a great place to be.

But just as perfect is the quiet of our lake in Michigan or our place in the Upper Peninsula, make our summers lovely.

Isn’t it nice that we have six months in each Florida and in Michigan?!!! We definitely enjoy the best “peninsulas” in the nation!

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Love a bargain!

I’m a coffee drinker. I drink two huge (14 oz) mugs of coffee (black) every morning. I’ve always loved hazelnut coffee but unless I get the flavored ground coffee, I not satisfied with the taste. And the extra cost for ground hazelnut puts it way over my price-point. I’ve tried the liquid hazelnut syrups but they always taste fake and way too sweet. But recently I discovered Folgers Flavors™.

Unfortunately they aren’t cheap. Best local price is $3.79 plus tax for a tiny 1.62 oz bottle. They are about twice that on Amazon.

I was finally successful finding a great deal at http://smucker.com. Yes, I had to buy four bottles (my choice of flavor so I got four hazelnut) and I had to agree to a scheduled delivery plan, but by doing it that way, I got free shipping and a 10% discount. My total price for the four bottles was $10.80 ($2.70 per bottle), delivered, with no tax!! I placed the order yesterday. It was delivered this a.m.

I have my shipment schedule set up for a four bottle order every three months, but that may not be frequent enough. Fortunately it’s easy to change the order schedule and the “ship to” address is also changeable. Since the orders are filled so fast, if I find I’m low, I can speed up the delivery. When I open the first bottle, I’ll mark it with the date so I’ll have a better idea of how long a bottle lasts. (It doesn’t take much to flavor my big mug perfectly.)

Sure love this stuff.

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Hot Spell

It’s been HOT here in Michigan (yesterday 92 and at least 90 for several days before).

In our Florida paradise, it’s currently 84 and it was only in the high 70’s yesterday afternoon. After today, the forecast is for temperatures in the low 80s for at least a week.

Folks who think Michiganders suffer from perpetual frost even in summer months don’t realize that we often have excessively high heat and humidity. It’s often hotter here than in the sunny south and our humidity is often equal or higher than Sun City Center’s.

Next week we will probably head to our place in the Upper Peninsula and that almost guarantees it’ll cool down. Forecast is for high 60’s-low 70’s.

We rarely get it right.

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Life in Limbo

We had so many plans before we came back to Michigan.

We were going to enlarge and replace our greatroom window and renovate our kitchen. Nothing has happened.

We had several window company estimators come to our house, but in the end, we couldn’t agree on what we wanted, and the designs that we preferred didn’t seem to be possible.

John wanted a bow or bay window which I felt would create a problem using the table we prefer for our meals in front of the window. I wanted a window nearly to the floor, but John couldn’t see any advantage.

So we changed our focus to the kitchen. We invited a contractor to give us an estimate and help with our plans, but he kept waiting for us to say what we wanted and we were waiting for him to give us his vision of what would work. He fell short in being helpful as a visionary. We need someone who can point us in the right direction. Yes, we have ideas which we expressed, but he never offered any suggestions at all. (Not helpful.)

A second contractor sounded interested and wasn’t available for a few days but he supposed to call us before coming one of three days but we never heard from him. We haven’t found anyone else to help with ideas.

The summer’s nearly over and nothing has happened.

In a week or two, we’ll go up north and get rid of the bed foundations which are stored in the hot tub room. I’m hoping when they’re cleared out and that room doesn’t look so crowded, we can at least get the first and second floors of our place in order. It doesn’t look too bad right now but it could be better. I’d also like to get serious about purging, especially on the second floor since that’s a do-able job.

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Too Relaxed

Life’s great. So relaxed with nothing stressful going on nor even on the horizon.

I’m ready to get back to Florida but the next two months will fly by. No point wishing my life away.

Finally feeling better. I think I was just exhausted. The stress of the festival took a tole.

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Half a Bubble Off

My husband will refer to being “half a bubble off” which indicates he isn’t “up to par.” (Those who have used a bubble level will know what half a bubble off would mean.) Today I’m half.. or maybe three-quarters of a bubble off. Just don’t feel good. Lost sleep last night and the night before. For a couple days, I’ve felt queasy and I’ve had a digestive problem. Not fun. Thankfully we don’t have anything pressing to attend. John hasn’t felt peachy either so we’re glad to have some down-time. I’m sure I’ll soon feel better.

Maybe a nap would help.

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Home from Evart (tired!)

We’ve been back home from the huge, wonderful, ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) Funfest since Sunday. It’s Wednesday and we’re still tired. In fact we’re both more tired today than Monday or Tuesday. Can’t understand that but we’re definitely pooped. We went dancing last night but didn’t stay as long as usual. Guess it’s wise to listen to our bodies. It takes longer to recover than when we were younger but I fear that if we don’t listen and take time to recover, we could easily get sick.

The festival was great!

imageIt was my 20th (and last) year as Workshop Chairman. I was honored numerous times with a plaque from the ODPC for being “Outstanding Volunteer” and a gift (a sculpture for a garden). There were also lots of personal notes. One of the thank-you letters was from my good (young) friend Gracie. I will cherish it forever. There was even a reception (complete with a large sheet cake), and we were Grand Marshals of the parade.

The pictures are from the reception.

imageThe statue could go outside, but for now it’s on the floor near our front door and it looks perfect.

We are gradually emptying our trailer of stuff that we won’t need until next year. No rush. Eventually we’ll get everything done. Feels great to know that we can take our time. There’s no deadline to meet.

Sure I have a couple chores to complete: a huge pile of laundry, thank you notes to write, a report of my expenses, and clothes to put away, but we have no up-coming appointments so we can do it at a snail’s pace.

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At the ODPCFunfest

Lots of wonderful music and nice folks. Weather has changed every day. We’ve had warm, cold, windy and wet. Perfect temps right now.

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Soon we’ll be headed to the ODPC Funfest

We head to Evart, MI, Thursday, for the Original Dulcimer Players Club’s Funfest. The world’s largest hammered dulcimer gathering.

In two days we’ll be there. I can’t understand why I’m not more eager. Every year I’ve excitedly anticipated our big festival which is always the most fun of our year. Maybe it’s because now we have so many truly rewarding adventures in Florida that they’ve stolen some of the luster. Or maybe it’s because we haven’t been playing as much music (but I still love the genre that’s played there.) Or maybe it’s because this is my last year as workshop chairman so maybe I’m already disassociating myself from the event. Or it could be because last year I fell on the 9th of July at the festival and broke my wrist so the 2014 festival wasn’t really fun and now it may represent something else to me.

All I know is that I’m getting ready (and so is John) but neither of us are all that anxious. We’ll see lots of great people and many of our close friends, so I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

I just wish I was more excited.

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Richard and Shelly Brooks Home is for sale

http://tours.mixedmediaco.com/2128#.VZckr2EPCTY.facebook

Video of their listing.

It’s AWESOME!!

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And here is the Brooks’ house

We stayed at Richard and Shelly’s place in 2013 and 2014. (Cooper’s this year and in 2011 and 2012.) The Brooks have their place up for sale.

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Visit to Coopers

Here are some photos of Cooper’s lovely home where we spent last weekend:

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I once felt….

I used to feel I was way ahead of the curve when it came to being tech savvy and up-to-date on trends but lately I’m realizing how behind I am. Sure I can do lots on line and with my computer but here’s proof that I’m waaaay behind:

I don’t Tweet!

I don’t text much (only occasionally).

I never Skype.

I don’t have an Instagram account.

I don’t do Facetime.

I don’t own any Apple products nor have I ever.

I don’t own a tablet.

I don’t own a selfie stick (although admittedly I’ve taken selfies).

So I admit I haven’t stayed current but I guess that’s acceptable. Afterall, I’m 73.

I am ahead of the previous generation but that’s not saying much. Heck my mom wouldn’t even get a cell phone and definitely didn’t approve of on-line-banking.

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Fixing

John is firm about not selling our house. He won’t even consider it. I am realizing that’s not going to change, at least not in the foreseeable future. Therefore I’m pushing us to do some upgrades to the kitchen, the master bathroom, and the floors in the 1/2 bath and utility room. We may end up spending $30,000 but in the long run, when the house is sold (and someday it will happen), it’ll need to be done.

Today we had a contractor come and look over the kitchen. Right now we’re leaning toward opening the kitchen by getting rid of the bar, and we’ll have 42″ cabinets installed. The extra height will give us more storage, plus we’d move the refrigerator and the old refrigerator space will enlarge the pantry. In the end, it’ll be open with granite countertops, quality floor, pendant lights and nicer cabinets.

We’re thinking it over and our next step is to visit the cabinet store. (Don’t know if we’ll get to do that until after we’re back from the festival because we leave next Thursday.)

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Visit with friends

Every year for the past five, we’ve spend a summer weekend at the homes of the Brooks and Coopers (aka Shelly & Richard and Caroline & Stephen) at White Lake, MI. The two couples host a bunch of us who live in our Florida community during the winter months (Kings Point) but are from Michigan. Both couples are excellent hosts. For sleeping, they divide our big group between the two lovely homes. We were there this past weekend but the weather was lousy. Saturday it was about 63 with rain!

We were housed at Cooper’s in their guest room. (Lovely!)

Although the weather didn’t cooperate enough for us to enjoy fireworks, we had a great time! Evidently we ate WAY too much, though, since Stephen and Caroline had a Zumba instructor come to their house Sunday morning to try and get us back into shape. What a riot!

It was all fun! I learned a couple new card games, got a little exercise and saw people I truly enjoy.

I recall years when we opened our house to a crowd. It was always so much work to get ready for a reward which was way too brief. I would assume that those two couples feel the same.

This was the last year we’ll have the gathering because Richard and Shelly are selling their place and the crowd is too large for one place. But we have loved every time they’ve hosted us and we are truly grateful!

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I’ll never remember

We signed up for basic Charter Cable TV in May when we returned from Florida. Charter Cable isn’t as all-inclusive as our Brighthouse service in Florida, but it gives us an acceptable number of channels and provides me with hi-speed internet. Previously for TV, we used a digital roof-top antenna and, since our bedroom set is older, for it, we needed to also use a digital converter.

Our current plan provides us with one Charter Cable box which is hooked up to our flat-screen living room TV. In our bedroom, we still use the old, rooftop digital antenna with the old set to watch the news before we shut it off for the night.

Here’s the problem: To turn on our Michigan L.R. TV, we need to use TWO remotes, one for the cable box and one for the TV. (The TV remote switches the picture from a tiny image up in the left corner on a menu screen to full-screen). (This problem has to do with the set being older, even though it’s digital.)

For now, in the bedroom, again we need two remotes: one for the digital converter and one for the TV set. After Evart, we will bring in the flatscreen TV from the trailer, which will eliminate the need for a converter. (Note: We did do this.)

In the living room, not only do we have to deal with two remotes, but the cable channels are numbered totally different than the “through the air” channels we get in the bedroom. Example: air channel 5 (CBS) is cable channel 7, air channel 25 (NBC) is cable 4, air channel 12 (ABC) is cable 11 and air channel 66 (FOX) is cable 8. So confusing!! And a couple times the cable’s gone out so we’ve gone reverted to “air.” What a mess.

Ok, so I assume we can handle that. We have learned our favorite channels and we’re able to switch back and forth from the living room to the bedroom. We’re figuring it out. Sometimes we make mistakes, and it’s taken a while to get into the swing, but we’re managing.

Now here’s the next catch:

We’ll be leaving Michigan in October (less than four months from now). When we get to Florida, we again will have a whole different setup. In Florida, we have a newer Samsung 3D 65″ Florida Smart TV. Brighthouse Cable provides us with a totally different selection of channels to memorize. At least, it is easier in Florida because at least the living room and the bedroom incoming signals match each other (and 10 is 10 on both sets and Brighthouse sticks pretty close to the original numbering of channels), although we get several hundred fewer channels in the bedroom. (Up to channel 95, it’s the same.) The living room remotes, when correctly set-up can allow the use of only one. Same is true of the bedroom.

We are getting to the point where memorizing all these TV channels isn’t easy. And learning all the various remotes is tough. I can count four (or five remotes) in Michigan and two (or three) in Florida. That’s a mind-full.

Eventually that may become another reason to give up our Michigan home.

I save instructions for us to use in the two areas (in May-Oct. and in Oct.-May). I spell out which remotes to use and how to start them up. Guess I’m getting old, but at least I’m still sharp enough to realize I need to write down the “how to” so I can get things to work quickly and without a lot of effort.

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Books galore

I have always enjoyed reading and there’s never a time when I don’t have a book that has me hooked.

A few years ago I realized that holding a paperback (or hard cover) for hours would cramp my hand. I switched to a Kindle and the problem was solved.

I belong to BookBub and get lots of free books from Amazon. I currently have a “Kindle library” of unread digital books that numbers in the hundreds or maybe thousands.

This week, as I’ve been purging our house, I have found many stashes of my books. They’re stuck all over. I could take them to my favorite book store, Maxie’s, where I’d get credit toward more books but I don’t need more so the Salvation Army resale store has and will benefit.

I know I’m so far behind that I’ll never catch up, but every day when I check the free books on Amazon, I find another one or two that I can’t resist.

At least my Kindle is feeding my addiction and my library doesn’t take up physical space.

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Memories from fabric

I decided to clean out the guest room closet where I for years I have stored clothes I no longer wear. I haven’t even opened the closet door for quite a while so I’m safe getting rid of almost everything. As I went through them, I found myself recalling when I bought or wore each one. Some I still like (but most are several sizes too small). There were huge shoulder pads, a lot of denim (including a denim bustier), ankle length dresses, and tailored business suits. Some of them are 20-30 years! All are in excellent condition.

I am purging so most everything was unceremoniously loaded into bags for the Salvation Army’s resale shop. So far I’ve filled three huge trash bags and there’s a pile that wouldn’t fit.

When I took a break, I went on ebay and I did a search using “1980’s dress.” I was surprised that dresses similar to mine are actually commanding a fairly high price. I don’t want to mess with selling, packing, shipping, so what I’m not throwing away, I’ll just unload at the resale place. A few decent coats will go into our “to be sold at out September garage sale” pile.

Wile looking through the eBay postings, I spotted a top on that reminded me of one of my items I had planned to get rid of. Mine is a hand-crocheted lined skirt which comes to mid-calf and a matching off-the-shoulder lined top. (The top can be worn separately.)

I retrieved it and tried it on, and it is dern cute and it fits! I’m not donating it!! It’s going with me back to Florida to wear to one of our many dances.

There are only a few items I won’t get rid of: my wedding dress, several hand-made German-style drindls from my years living in Frankenmuth, and some historic style dresses for reenactor-type performances. Most everything else is going.

When I finish the guest room closet, I have two rolling closets in the basement to go through. I’ll feel so much better when it’s done. Then I can tackle the loft closet and the basement. So much clutter! It’s time to get rid of most of it. When it’s all cleaned out, maybe John will more favorably consider selling this place. As it is, he says selling would mean cleaning out, and that’s a difficult thought to face.

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Migration

It seems that more and more of the “snow birds” we know are selling their homes and moving permanently to Kings Point, our gated community in Florida. In our circle of friends, we see it happening a lot! The pattern seems to be fairly consistent. Folks have a place they love in our Florida community but their ties to the north remain solid for a few years. When fully retired, going back and forth and maintaining a northern residence eventually loses it’s luster. After a few years, the idea of the “easy life” in KP becomes attractive enough that the northern place is sold and Florida residency becomes year-round. This season, we know of four KP friends (couples) who have their up-north places sold or for sale, with the intention to move full-time to Florida. Some will continue to go back and forth but they’ll be staying in the north for a shorter time and without the responsibilities of home ownership in another state.

In our group, Val sold her place on a lake in Michigan a couple weeks ago. Judy & Bob and Shelly & Richard have their places up for sale. Pennye & Bill and Cindy & Fred have either sold or are selling their northern residences and moving full-time to Florida.

Last year, Sharon & Dave made the move, and I believe, Sherry & Bob are now Florida residents.

And there are some who are seriously contemplating a move (Caroline & Stephen).

Eventually we’ll be in the list, but not this year (nor next.)

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It’s not all past tense!

On my website, dulcimers.com, there’s a link in the main top menu under “Mainsite” that will take you to our biography (called “About Us”.)

Although this informational page covering our life was started about twenty years ago, I try to update it frequently. Today when I re-read it, I realize that almost everything was “past tense,” so I added this:

After reading the above summary of “The Skaryds’ Life,” it sounded like everything is “past tense.” Not so! Yes, we’ve had a busy 30 years as man and wife and we’re in our 70’s, but we’re far from done. When in Michigan, we go dancing every Tuesday (or more often, if we can find a country band), John is always occupied with the exterior upkeep of the house and I’m trying to keep up with the inside. And I love my computer where I do a lot of shopping, surfing and web design. We belong to the local Moose Club, a local senior group, and enjoy getting together with family and friends.

Some stuff is more difficult for both of us. Last summer I broke my right wrist and it hasn’t worked correctly since then and John’s lung problem has taken a lot from him. But we’re both anticipating our return to Florida in October. In our southern community, we’ll be working with the Michigan Club on parties and activities, we belong to the Oldies but Goodies Dance Club, the Kings Point Baby Boomers, and we take dance lessons every week. We also dance every Thursday, John plays banjo Wednesdays with the “Pickers” group, and I try to walk to the pool when we aren’t in other activities. We hope to do more performing with Kings Strings. And we totally enjoy a fun group of lively friends so we’re always going to parties or other social events.

I guess I’d like to elaborate. Yes, we’ve passed through several phases in our life.

We both worked; we both retired. Starting in 1992, were totally involved in the music world and ran a busy performing club (Saginaw Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club). John ran the Midland Dulcimer Festival, but because of his lung problem, in 2009 he to give that role up. I was Workshop Chairman at the ODPC Funfest beginning in 1996 but after 20 years, I’ve retired from that position.

I deserve to “enjoy” rather than work full time.

If the truth is known, I gave up the Workshop Chairman role because it cut into our fun time. I want us to be able do more together. John has patiently watched me organize the huge workshop program but it takes me a great deal of my time starting in January and then becoming really intense from April-July. Maybe we can go camping. Maybe we can make it to the U.P. more. Maybe we can dance more.

Life is great!

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Taking it Easy

Since visiting my physical therapist last week I’ve decided to relax a little. Life is short. She recognized that my wrist is bothered by strenuous work and suggested hiring a cleaning service.

It’s true; there is a lot that I could do around here, but it’s time we found someone else to help out. I want to hire a cleaning person. John doesn’t approve. In the meanwhile, I do some stuff each day, but when my wrist starts feeling uncomfortable, I stop. There’s no reason to work too hard. No one is going to see it, no one stops by. This house is for our enjoyment. Keeping it shouldn’t represent just work.

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Didn’t take long

The ODPC only took a couple days to replace me. At least now I know I’ve finished that responsibility. 20 years was enough. I’m done.

I was amazed at the out-pouring of appreciation from friends on Facebook after I made the announcement:

I said: Yes, I retired. After 20 years, this week I told Kathy Rayman that I’d like her to find someone else to take over the ODPC Workshop Chairman duties and the preparation of the workshop program. After doing it for 20 years, it seems appropriate that someone else assume my role. Sue Crandle has stepped forward. Thank you, Sue. I’m sure she’ll do a great job. Of course I still need to complete this year’s program.

Shelly Zipper Moss Brooks Congratulations. A well deserved retirement. Now u can stay in Florida longer.

Sharon Skaryd No – not in Florida. Now I’ll be able to help John more around here. This place is too big for one healthy guy to keep it up, and John’s not in the best health. He needs more of my assistance. The ODPC job has always filled most of May, much of June, and into July. That left him doing all the house and up-keep stuff. I am so relieved!! He deserves more from me.

Peg Earl After all your hard work and dedication you deserve time for you and John. You’ve done a wonderful job!

Chuck Boody The impact you and John have made on The dulcimer world in general and Evart in particular is huge! “Thank you (both)” is insufficient, but the best I can manage.

Caroline Cooper Thank goodness. A well deserved retirement

Sharon Skaryd I was there through ODPC Presidents Wes Linenkugel, Don Fitzpatrick, Gail Schwandt, and now Kathy Rayman. I’ve seen every type of management style and what works and what doesn’t. We love the festival. (Obviously!)

Lou Miller Hibbard Thank you , Sharon. You have done an outstanding job.

Gwyn Besner Thank you for your years of service. It has been an amazing job1 Well done!

Lee Anne Whitman Thanks to you from me, too, Sharon! We appreciate you so much!

Jim Coon What a wonder job you have done.

George Jeanette Wilkins Congratulations Sharon. You did a wonderful job.

Judi Emery Morningstar Thank you for all your hard work. You did an amazing job. Now I hope you don’t think you’re just gonna stay in Florida & not attend the festival. I’m sure Sue will have a lot of questions for some time to come. Planning over 200 workshops isn’t all that easy for us mortals.

Pat Snover Tait Congrats on a fabulous run. Great organization. Thanks for being “Mom” for 20 years. Time to relax. Well deserved retirement.

Todd N Pam Bowman Thank you Sharon! You have done a great job from the start – always very organized and consistent – thank you for all of the many hours of planning that helps/helped make the Evart Funfest a great time smile emoticon

Lynn Gehringer Thank you for all you have done for a long time before I discovered the ODPC. It is time for you to spend as much time as you can doing what you choose.

Bruce Evans As previously stated, “Thank you,” doesn’t even come close. But Thank you for taking me in as a workshop leader and for all you have done for all of us.

Jeff Allen Thank you Sharon from the bottom of my heart for all you have done to make the Funfest what it is. For the countless hours of work putting workshops together you have done a marvelous job. Enjoy your time now!! smile emoticon

Gail Robinson Schwandt Good for you, Sharon! You did a terriffffic job. I remember standing in our church asking you if you might like to be more involved with the ODPC and be the workshop chairman. So many years have passed and you elevated the programs to a remarkable level. Kudos. Your dedication and love for the club and fest never waivered. I think Sue has big shoes to fill but I also believe she will do a wonderful job, she’s a great choice. All things move on, now you can enjoy your spring and early summer months without the pressure. Enjoy your well earned rest.

Mary Lou Battley Our congratulations for a job well done and way beyond the call of duty! Thank you for all the hours you have spent organizing a bunch of cats. You have added sooo much to the Evart Funfest.

I’m truly moved by their appreciation. I certainly didn’t do it for the recognition, but it’s nice to see that I left these folks I admire with a good impression.

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I want to be replaced!

I have just completed the biggest part of the huge ODPC workshop project that I’ve done for 20 years. It’s not finished, but I can see the end. I still need to format the 10 pages of class descriptions and compress the index to one-page (it’s about five pages now).

Today I told the president of the ODPC that I’d like to retire as soon as she can find someone. 20 years is long enough.

I found this year to be especially difficult because my hand didn’t like the excessive stress of typing for hours. Another problem: I found it hard to concentrate for longer than about an hour without a break. (I remember when I typed it all over a two day period, non-stop!! But now I find that kind of concentration almost impossible.)

I did tell the president of the ODPC that we wouldn’t mind continuing to host the workshop canopy and the Wednesday night reception. We’d watch over the copy machine, keep the goodie table clean with full water/ice containers be there to direct folks, to find workshop leaders when there’s a need. That would be enough.

Admittedly I’m tired.

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Reorganizing

We spent yesterday re-doing our bedroom. We have had too much stuff in that room (especially big furniture pieces) and it was time for a change.

The biggest problem in the room is/was the bed or at least the structure supporting it. About 10 years ago, we bought a huge “system” with a “bridge” as sort of a headboard with storage space and mirrors across the width of it. It stuck out about 12″ from the wall (maybe more). There are oak “towers” on each side which consists of drawers and cabinets. The whole thing, with our king-size mattress makes a huge unit. It fills the room. Not only is this the headboard tower structure large but the bed sits on a solid mattress foundation which is like an inner-spring mattress and goes to the floor. You can’t even put a pair of shoes under the bed.

It was time for a change.

We broke the bed down, moved the towers (which are like tall bookcases with cabinets on top and a three drawers on the bottom) to the hot tub room. Then we moved two small nightstands that had been retired and stored several years ago back beside the bed.

We moved out the mattress foundation and purchased a mattress frame which is elevated so stuff can go under it. We gained a lot of space. We still need a flat headboard.

To take my shorts and capris back and forth to Florida, I use two low (about 7″ deep) plastic bins that are long and wide enough to lay my capris flat. (I can fit about 25-30 pair in one bin.) When in Florida, they go under our music room futon bed. Here in Michigan the bins were in the way. Now they can go under the bed. I can also store a zippered plastic bag of shoes which is ready to go back to our southern home. John’s doing the same thing under his side. I’ve ordered a tailored bed skirt to conceal things we store there.

Now the bedroom feels more spacious and by the marks in the carpet, it’s easy to see that we’ve gained almost two additional feet of “open space” at the foot of the bed. The hot tub room is becoming an annex to our bedroom with 2 big pieces of exercise equipment, John’s dulcimer, and those two “towers” which abut each other nicely and serve as tall chests with drawers and cabinets. Eventually we’ll probably take out the hot tub (which is almost flush with the floor and hangs down into the basement).

Next week we have an appointment with a window installer to see about having some remodeling done in the great room. We’re hoping to replace the big window with an even bigger view-enhancing one.

I do love our house here. It’s much more impressive than our Florida condo. The view is lovely and it’s nearly twice as big.

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Country Dancing

John and I love to dance. Line dances are ok, but country couples dancing is even more fun. We do it a lot in Florida, especially with our friends (and teachers) Donna and Bill Markland.

We miss our Florida environment. We usually can dance at least a couple times a week when we’re in Florida. Our Michigan community doesn’t offer the same opportunities, but the situation in our area has improved.

About 20 miles down the road (M-52), there’s a bar called Back Forty and every Tuesday, from 6:00-9:00 they have a good country band and an older (like us) crowd. Yeah!!!

Also our Saginaw Moose Club has weekly dances. They are scheduled to start at 7:00 but the dancing doesn’t really get going for about an hour. We’ll probably pick and choose between the bands that play there. The band from “Back Forty” (“Dixie Highway Band”) will be playing at the Moose twice this month. We’ll try to go to those two evenings. (This Friday is one of their appearances.)

John’s endurance is very limited. We can only make it around the floor a few times per dance, but it’s still fun. Looking forward to dancing over the summer.

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Working hard

I’m trying hard to get the workshop program ready for the Original Dulcimer Players Club dulcimer festival. It’s a huge job but today I discovered that, with Windows 8.1 (which is what’s on my new computer purchased in December), I can split the screen and work on both sides. It makes copying text from the place where the leaders submitted their suggested classes to the printed copy much easier. I no longer have to print and retype everything.

I’m tired of working on this project, but with this new, streamlined method, I’ll bet I can have all of the program done by next weekend.

Hope so!!

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Florida stay wasn’t great

Usually I brag about how wonderful our time in Florida is (or was) but this year wasn’t as grand as previous years. I spent so much time in October and November trying to get my broken hand to work right. I went to hand therapy two times a week and seemed my non-functioning hand really restricted me. (Dancing was uncomfortable, and I felt awkward.) Christmas Eve we hosted our regular party, but my preparation seemed incomplete. I didn’t clean the place as thoroughly as I wanted and felt sort of uncomfortable about it. I missed a big party because I was ill on New Year’s Eve and for a few days afterward. John caught my bug a few days afterward. When I felt better, I started more therapy. Time seemed to fly by but we missed out on a lot. In late March we both caught bad colds that hung on too long and left us feeling weak and worn out.

Finally I felt better, but the whole cold thing left John’s lungs much worse. It frightens me.

We enjoyed a whirlwind of farewell activities, parties and dances. They were great fun. We did miss a birthday party when John didn’t feel up to going. But all in all the month of April lived up to our expectations but we were near the end of our stay and it was time to leave.

On May 2nd, we went to the Michigan Club Kentucky Derby party and May 3rd, left for Michigan.

Our trip back was uneventful. Traffic wasn’t too bad and we had no problems. We got home yesterday (May 5th).

The house was dirty and messy. Usually I make sure things look good before we leave, but I hadn’t been able to do much because of my wrist.

Now I’m trying to get the dulcimer club’s workshops organized. It’s a huge job and I was still receiving class submissions from leaders yesterday, although the cut-off was a month ago. I really have to settle down and focus just on it. If I lock myself away for the next week, I should be able to have the schedule created. It’ll take another week to do the “program.”

It’s tough when I see all the work around here that needs to be done and John is pushing himself too hard while it looks like I’m loafing. It’s hard for him to think of computer time and “real work.”

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