Archive forSeptember, 2006

Feeling yucky!

When I last wrote, it was Thursday and we were anticipating Rockin’ Rendevous, the weekly clubhouse dance.

We enjoyed the evening. This time it was held around the pool. Normally we’re tightly packed in the lounge, and we missed feeling of closeness that is present when it’s held inside, but the crowd was huge so it wouldn’t have fit in the normal lounge/dance area anyway. It was kinda neat to see dancers around the huge pool, and at sunset, the sky was unbelieveably beautiful. I could kick myself for not having my camera. It was fantastic. Against that background, the dancing couples looked like a postcard.

We sat with Bob and Marilyn and had a nice time.

That was Thursday. Friday after visiting with Mom, we enjoyed more pool time. Friday evening we went out to dinner in Ruskin.

Today’s Saturday. I have a miserable cold. It’s at that drippy stage and I’m feeling rotten. We therefore we didn’t go to see Mom or Hoagie today. It wasn’t wise to infect them. We did hang out at the pool from about 3:00-5:30 or so. I’m going through kleenex like mad.

I can’t believe I have a cold. I know they are caused by viruses and you can catch them anywhere, but it seems so wrong to catch one when you’ve just come from Michigan to Florida. I hope it’s one of those I can over-come in a day or two.

I am still functioning, but have a headache and my drippy nose is making me feel lousy.


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Thursday in Paradise

Tuesday night we were invited to dinner at the home of a fellow we met last year. He’s a widower. I think he’s kinda lonely. We spent a nice evening with him, and the meal was super. He’s an interesting guy who has a million stories. We both like him.

Tonight we’ll go to Rockin’ Rendevous in the clubhouse. Friday there’s a noon pool party/barbeque.

It’s really nice down here. Yesterday it was over-cast, but it didn’t stop us from spending a couple hours at the pool. Today it’s supposed to reach 86 degrees and should stay under 90 for the next week.

When we drove in our golfcart back from Bob’s house it Tuesday night was about 8:45. We couldn’t believe how there was no one on the streets. We saw two or three other golf carts, but in the two miles or so that we traveled through the complex, the roads were empty. Normally the traffic is really heavy. But these old folks must be in bed by 9:00.

We’re about ready to head over to see Mom. We’ll be back here by 4:00 so we can go to the South Clubhouse for an evening of fun. Hopefully we can crowd in a visit to the pool before then. We’ll try the main pool. Since we started going to the South Club, we haven’t gone back to the main facility. I guess it’s been remodeled and it’s lots closer.

The cart is really working out perfectly for us. 20 mph sounds slow, but when buzzing around, it’s warp speed.

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Sunday in Sun City

Our new (to us) golf cart is getting quite a workout. About 1:00 we picked up Mom and took her out for a milk shake at Java Cow (a new business in town). Mom rode willingly but did complain that the sun was hot. She woofed down her shake and really seemed to enjoy it. We took her the “round about” way back to her nursing home.

After leaving her, we decided to drop in on her husband, Hoagie. He’s miserable, not because his care isn’t top notch, but he feels he’s totally lost control of everything. He wants to make decisions and be free to come and go. He’s 97, can’t walk, and is in no condition to be on his own. Previously he lived in the assistant living part of the same facility, but he had no one to interact with him. Now he’s in a secure unit, with people around him. He’s forced into a “community.” It is actually a better set-up for him but the decision to be moved wasn’t his. He’s mad. He’s resentful.

So we took him out. Getting him in the golf cart wasn’t easy, but we managed. We drove him back to the condo complex and he visited with some of his good friends. He’s especially close to his friend, Dale. He talked out some of his frustrations, and we found some ways to make him feel more in control.

When it was time to take him back, he didn’t complain. I think he felt we’d given him the opportunity to be “in charge” and to make some decisions. He felt he had some of his dignity back.

Over the next month we’ll give him lots of chances to go out with us. If we can get him to tell us where he wants to go and what he wants to see, maybe he’ll realize he can have some “control.” I’m sure he’ll feel better about his situation. At least I hope so. He’s a proud man. He needs his dignity back.

Visits with Mom and Hoagie took up most of the afternoon. We also needed some groceries so it was about 4:00 before we finally got to the pool for our daily dip. At 4:00 the sun was low enough that we didn’t have to worry as much about getting a little too much like we did yesterday.

It was a fun Sunday.

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Florida’s deserted

As I’ve stated several times, we make two trips to Florida each year: one from mid-September to late October, and the other from early February until late March. The February-March visit is peak season and the crowds then are huge. Everywhere you go the snowbirds have the place straining to capacity. In February-March, we must arrive at the pool early in order to secure two lounge chairs. And you can be sure that every available chair at the Thursday evening Rockin’ Rendevous will be taken.

This time of the year the absence of the majority of the snowbirds is noticeable. This picture was taken Wednesday afternoon with temperatures about 90 degrees. Today (Saturday) there were a few more folks, but definitely not like we experience during the spring. (If you scroll way down, you can see a photo taken in March and I’m sure you’ll see the difference.)

No one's around

The Thursday night dance had a crowd that was down by about 75%. We left early because “nothing was happening.”

This afternoon we were pleased to run into our friend, Bob Taylor. We call him the “Worm King” because he made his fortune selling night-crawlers to fishing outlets all over the mid-west. He’s a sweet, single widower, and a really down to earth guy, dispite his “very comfortable” financial situation. He’s interesting with quite a remarkable history in his 75 years. It was great to see him looking tanned and relaxed.

When we left in the spring, Bob was having a new home built. He’s since moved into it. We missed his house-warming party in April when he had 125 guests.

Bob was especially pleased to see us because (like us) he’s finding that a lot of his friends are still up north so he feels a little deserted. He invited us to come over to his place Tuesday evening for small dinner party (six of us). Sounds like a fun evening.

I’m anxious to see his new glorious “digs.”

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We’re now true Florida old folks

Yesterday we bought a golf cart:

New to us golf cart

We’ve been struggling with the problem taking Mom places since our only available vehicle is our four wheel drive diesel truck. There’s no way we can get her up into it. And it’s so large that it’s difficult to manage it in crowded parking lots. So Thursday we purchased a used golf cart and we picked it up yesterday afternoon. It’s fun. We can get nearly anywhere in Kings Point and Sun City Center. There is a grid of golf cart trails that take you from one end of town to the other. In 1999, there were about 9,500 residents and 4,000 registered golf carts. There are probably twice that many people now and an equal ratio of golf carts. We’re now part of the “in crowd.”

Before we bought it, we took Mom for a spin in it and she did fine. As you can see above, it’s a four seater. We had a seat belt installed for the front passenger seat and the back seat directly behind so we can buckle her in and maybe even take Hoagie with us. It also has a full “enclosure” so we can close it in if the weather is bad.

Tomorrow we want to take her for a milk shake, Tuesday we’ll be taking her to her dentist. We’ll get on the cart trail and be there in less than 10 minutes.

It’s fun being Florida old folks.

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Joy in small things

Mom knew us!

We visited her the first thing Wednesday a.m.

Her glasses were broken so she had to squint to see, but I asked if she knew me and she said, “Yes, you’re Sharon.” I was so relieved.

I said to her, “You told me you’d remember me and you did. Thank you!”

And then to make things better she said, without prompting, “Hi, John.”

She’s gained a little weight. She had just had her hair done and she looked lovely.

I see a real improvement in her from day to day. The stimulation of family and the extra attention brings out the best in her. Today she looked at a photo I’d brought her of her siblings. She recited their names, all seven of them!

We had the bow replaced on her glasses, tomorrow there’ll be shopping for some new clothes for her, Tuesday we have a dental appointment for her. Being a daughter in this situation is a full time job.

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Settling in — the problems

When I last wrote we were fighting the love bugs. It was Tuesday. We were somewhere north of Sun City Center.

We got to the condo about 3:30 and expected that we’d move in and relax.

Nope! It wasn’t to happen.

We were locked out. The locks had been changed in April and we weren’t advised. So we stood outside in the 90+ heat waiting for a lady who had a key. Needless to say, we were upset. They knew we were coming but no one told us about the lock change and provided us with a key.

But the problems didn’t end there. We found the place had been stripped of a lot of the stuff that was here when we went home in March. It wasn’t theft in the genuine sense of the word, but we felt victimized.

My mom and her husband (Hoagie) had lived in the condo for 16 years before they were moved into the nursing home where they are now cared for. It was “his” place when they got married, but when they combined homes much of the stuff was Mom’s.

We have been using the condo regularly for the past two years (four times for a total about a month to six weeks each time). Hoagie’s daughter is the only other one to use the place. She comes about once a year for a weekend.

She came down in April to take possession of Mom and Mom’s husband’s car. (That’s another story.) While she was here she cleaned the place out. I’m sure much of it went in the trash. A lot of it she was entitled to and I have no problem with her taking. Things like crystal that was her dad’s should have been removed, but she went well beyond that.

She may have felt all the food stuff was all old and out-of-date, but much of it we had purchased. We had left behind lot of staples that wouldn’t spoil. It’s all gone. When we went home in March, we left a fully stocked house and now nothing is here including toilet paper. At least she left the furniture, but Mom’s dishes, towels, most of the silverware, everything is gone! And we didn’t bring the stuff we knew we left. Things like the toaster, mixer, spices, etc. etc. are missing. We’ll be here for six weeks and we will have to buy lots of essentials.

It’s maddening! I should explain my mother has a “Life Estate” in the condo. It’s a legal term that is written into the deed and says that for her whole life, the place is hers to use (or rent out) or do whatever benefits her. We feel our presence is the best thing for her.

She and her husband jointly owned the condo for a period of time, then she deeded it over to his trust so that eventually it’ll be inherited by his kids (which is only fair), but during her life-time it’s hers to use. The presence of that “Life Estate” provision gives us the right to be here.

But Tuesday our problems didn’t end with the discovery of the missing items.

Let me describe the condo. It has two bedrooms, two baths, a small kitchen, dining area, living room, and then across the back there’s a glassed in “lanai.” Connecting to the lani is a small room normally used as a golf cart garage and next to it a laundry room which has a door leading to a workshop. The golf cart garage was used for storage of lawn furniture and had a couple of cabinets for miscellaneous items. There’s also an extra refrigerator.

When we opened the sliding doors between the living room and the lanai the overwhelming stench of mold hit us. The lanai isn’t air conditioned but it is carpeted and is arranged like a living area. Normally the door between that room and the golf cart garage is closed, but it was open. The golf cart garage roof had leaked and the place was a disaster. Things had molded all over them. There had been a bag of charcoal but the bag had dissolved! An animal had gotten in and there were feces all over the place. It was sickening.

Then it started to rain hard and the roof in the golfcart garage roof leaked.. not a tiny drip, but like a facet turned on. We brought out buckets and tried to catch it, but the carpet was soaked from previous rain storms.

What a mess.

But we’re here.

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Day Three of our Trip..

We just left Tifton, GA, after enjoying a nice “brunch.” complete with pecan waffles. We had a few showers last evening in Macon, Ga, and now we’re just ahead of huge black clouds that are in the forecast for the area. Hopefully we can out-run them.

We’re wondering if we’ll run into love-bugs. Last September, when we came down, they were really bad near the Florida/Georgia border.

And just what are “love-bugs,” you ask? They’re harmless flying critters that seem to do nothing but mate, multiply into vast hordes, and then aim their duo-linked bodies for your windshield and headlights. Last September the infestation was especially bad. In a restaurant near the Stephen Foster National Park in northern Florida, we asked what they were, and the waitress explained that they are a real nusiance. If not washed from your vehicle, they can corrode the paint. They’re just nasty. She said they sweep them up several times a day. They’re always mating even when they fly, hence the name.

Along the roadway, Georgia has planted a lot of decorative grass. It’s the really tall, heavy tassled stuff. They use it along the highway right of way fences.

So what are our plans while in Florida, beside visiting with Mom? We want to hang out at the pool, go to Rockin’ Rendevous at the South Clubhouse every Thursday (it’s a fun friendly dance), go to the Moose for grouper on Friday nights (it’s fish that’s not as good as Michigan walleye, but not bad), and just take it easy. In mid-October, we need to get busy practicing our holiday tunes for our first Christmas gig at Warmbier Farms on November 4th.


At the 18 mile marker (near Valdosta, GA ) we spotted our first palm trees. Yup, if the ya’alls and grits had convinced us that we’re in the south, we now have visual proof.


The forecast for the Sun City Center area of Florida is for a few days of showers. Hopefully they’ll be spotty enough so we can enjoy the pool.

We’ve established a pattern of two extended (about six week) trips down here to Florida; one in February-March and one in September-October, so we kind of know what to expect. This time of the year, there aren’t the crowds of “snow birds” that we experience during our spring trip. Lots of folks who spend part of their year in Florida wait until right after the holidays to come down. We’ll probably have some hot weather, but not any worse than a Michigan summer. We just passed a couple of large campgrounds which were nearly empty. It’s definitely not like the February-March period when everyone wants to be down here it the warm climate.


Well, we hit the bugs. We stopped for gas at the 2 mile marker just before leaving Georgia and there they were, flying in tandem. The female appears to drag the male along. She’s definitely larger and stronger. They’re totally black except for a little red on their heads. They were so thick that you found yourself batting them away as you walked. Take my word for it, they’re yucky.

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On the road again

By the end of 2006, we’ll have been away from home 40% of the time. Our travels included the cross country adventure to visit my daughter in California, attendance at festivals, camping trips, trips to the U.P. and trips to visit my mother (who has alzheimers and lives in Florida).

This morning (September 17th) at about 9:15 we started out for Florida. We’ll be down there approximately six weeks (returning on October 26th). This is the fourth time we’ve driven down since February 2005. (Each time we stay from 4 to 6 weeks.)

Mom and her husband, Hoagie, both reside special needs units in a lovely assisted living facility, Aston Gardens.

Mom’s life certainly isn’t what I’d have wished for her, but she’s comfortable and her deterioration seems to have slowed down considerably. She has a lovely room, nice care-givers, and great food. In her condition, there isn’t more I can wish for her.

Folks often ask why we don’t bring her back to Michigan, but 97-year-old Hoagie her husband of 17 years is down there, and she’s doing well. We have been told that consistency is important so she will probably live out her life there. Besides, the facility is actually less expensive than similar places in Michigan.

The condo that they lived in is empty, except when we or Hoagie’s daughter visit.

It’s a two bedroom, two bath duplex, in King’s Point, a gated community. The place needs major up-dating and remodeling. We love the King’s Point community where it’s located. There are lots of fun people, activities galore, and facilities (pools, club houses, exercise rooms, etc.) and a luxury resort feel. The neighbors are super nice people. We feel more welcome there than at our home in Michigan.

You can see the King’s Point South Club Pool here: One of the King's Point pools

If anything ever happens to Hoagie (he’s 97 and has had multiple strokes, we know it’s always a sad possibility), we may buy the place so we can continue to visit Mom. We can’t imagine a nicer community to live in.

We will arrive in Sun City Center by Tuesday mid-afternoon.

Our over-night stops will be in London, KY, tonight and Macon, GA, tomorrow night. (We’d thought about taking a more easterly route rather than going straight down I-75, but we’ve decided that we’ll go directly down, but maybe, on the return trip, we’ll schedule some extra time and come back through the Smoky Mountain National Park since the color should be excellent according to the Foliage Network website , which provides an archive of previous years’ color patterns.

Last time we visited Mom, one of the nice people we’ve met (Sandy), organized a lunch cruise out of Clearwater. It was great fun. That evening we ate at a beach front restaurant as the sun set.

Sunset at Clearwater

Should be a nice stay. Today is Mom’s 85th birthday. I will be calling her shortly to remind her that we’re on our way. Sadly she won’t remember when we hang up that we’re coming, but hopefully she’ll still know me.

I’ll write more later.

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End of Summer – Getting Ready for Fall – But scroll to the bottom to START this category

Only about a week and a half and we’ll be on our way south to Florida.

Our normal trip (and we’ve been making a slew of them since Mom developed Alzheimers about two years ago), has taken us straight down I-75 to our destination. Since we’ve made the trip a half dozen times down and back, we figured a change of scenery is in order, so we’re thinking about going down I-75 through Kentucky, and then heading through Tennesse, North and South Carolina and into Florida before coming back to I-75 and to Sun City Center. Our diversion will add about 90 miles to our trip, but we’ll see the Atlantic (which I haven’t encountered).

We haven’t cancelled our reservation for an over-night in Macon, Georgia, and a fairly straight shot down, but we’re probably going the longer but diverse route.

Should be interesting to go through the Smokys and see some new sights.

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I’ve been neglectful

I’m sorry.. I got so busy at the Midland festival that I never found time to write down what was happening, and then we took off for a week of camping at Rifle River. That’s where we are now.

With it being Labor Day weekend, the campground is fairly crowded. We have a near perfect campsite. The back of our trailer is within a few feet of the riverbank. Weather is in the 70’s but cool at night (low 50’s).

the view from our campsite

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