Archive forApril, 2009


The whole area seems to be “under water.” We drove west on M-46 today on our way to our friend George Horny’s son’s memorial visitation in nearby Hemlock, MI. With about four inches of rain this week, and a few inches the week before, we’re more than saturated. Farm fields are underwater. But more rain is anticipated.

I look at Sun City Center, Florida’s weather and wish we could send our over-abundance of precipitation down there.

At least I hope that this soggy weather and massive snowfall this past winter in Michigan will have raised water levels on the Great Lakes – especially Lake Michigan. Our vacation place in the Upper Peninsula (near Thompson) has seen a depressing decline in the water table up there.

Please don’t think I’m in any way bragging about our U.P. retreat. Our place up there was purchased in 1990 strictly because we figured “property” would appreciate. The residence which came with the land is a grungy, smelly, 1960’s 12 x 55 foot trailer but about five years ago we added an off-set pole-barn type roof over it which covers the trailer and a newly built 24 x 12 elevated deck toward the lake (Lake Michigan). It does have a good well, power, and a septic system. But it seems we are always fighting black flies, ticks, beach flies or mosquitoes. The white sand beach which we enjoyed for the first half dozen years is now gone. We purchased the trailer and land (nearly 200 feet of frontage by over 700 feet deep) for a steal price but we have watched the taxes go up and up and up. We thought it was a good investment. Now we’d probably have a hard time giving it a way.

Maybe/hopefully this rainfall will be beneficial in bringing our U.P. property back to the state it was in when we bought it.

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Newer Wheels

We finally retired/replaced our 1997 Saturn with about 150,000 miles on it. It had gotten to the point where we were going to have to spend quite a bit to keep the Saturn running. We needed to replace the tires and exhaust system and it didn’t seem worth it. The newer vehicle we got today is a modest but much nicer 2004 Chevy Malibu.

We were both tired of looking. This one came with a one-year warranty and has lots of bells and whistles (leather heated seats, moon roof, and everything automatic). It’s a pretty sapphire/midnight blue.

It’s a good day. A tad cool, but at lest the sun was out.

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Should we build an Ark?

We live on a small lake west of Saginaw, MI, and east from Hemlock. The lake has two small islands, but right now the islands are much smaller because the lake level is so high. We’re fortunate because we aren’t connected to any storm drain. In many areas the high water is putting a strain on sump pumps and water is coming into basements. Even with near continuous rain for the past few days, our basement is dry.

The current weather is cool and drab but currently not raining. More is expected this week. We’re already saturated.

And to think that in Florida, Sun City Center is experiencing a drought. Water is being rationed. No one can run fountains, lawns can only be watered occasionally, and cars can’t be washed.

Sad news for our music community: our friend, George Horny, who is a very active member of our music club, lost his 34-yr. old son, Tim Horny. Tim passed away Sunday night after a 2-year fight with leukemia. Today there is a column on the Saginaw News website about this remarkable young man.

Tim Horny Tribute column

Today I think our plan is to look for a replacement car for our old Saturn which we use for short trips. We want something that gets good gas mileage, is cheap with four doors, A/C, and is trouble free. The Saturn needs work and we can’t see spending anything on a vehicle with 152,000+ miles on it.

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@**#$* Weather!

The weather since we got home has been crappy. We had one warm day a few days ago but even that day it rained some and for the past two days, we’ve had about 2″ or more. It’s depressing.

I feel as if I’m getting moldy.

Today I optimistically bought a new bathing suit on eBay. (I’d left all of mine in Florida.) I am hoping to spend some time in the sun here in Michigan soon. I need to do some window washing and gardening so I’d have a good excuse to get out. I’d even like to do some sunning like we do beside the pool in Florida. We’re on a lake so wearing a bathing suit is very appropriate. Tomorrow? Maybe? I keep hoping that a little sun will make me feel human.

Our good friend, George Horny, just called us to say that his 35 year old son, Tim, died this evening after a 2 year fight with leukemia. George is a big part of our music family. He attends Evart, Midland, and many other music events. He’s John’s best friend. They make wine together. George is a super friend. He was here several times last week helping John get the yard in order. It’s so sad.

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Back in the Routine

John’s been cleaning up the yard. In December, he had a bunch of trees cut down. He worked hard to collect as much as possible before we headed back to Florida, but some of the mess had to wait until spring (now). This week he’s been moving man-sized logs to a trailer and hauling them to a friend’s house where they’ll be used for firewood. He’s in heaven doing hard physical outside work. Not me!! Especially since it was only in the 40’s this week. Today it’s supposed to up to about 60, but I miss the 70’s and 80’s we enjoyed in Florida. I understand tomorrow and over the weekend, it’ll get that warm here!! Can’t wait!.

I’m settling in to the routine here and it feels good to be home.

I try spend some time every day working on the organizing of workshops for the huge dulcimer festival (ODPC Funfest), which will be held in July. I’m trying to keep up with my commitment. It’s a huge job and I don’t want to let it become over-whelming.

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We Lost our Dog (she didn’t die), we just couldn’t find her!!!

Anyone who knows us, knows Willow, our dog. She’s a tiny (5 lb. 2 oz.), a chihuahua named after Les Raber’s “Willow Waltz.”

This morning about 7:15, John got up and Willow was no where to be found. It didn’t take him long to get concerned enought to get me up too so I could help search. We called and looked.

The last time either of us had seen her was about 11:15 last night when she curled up on “her” pillow next to our bed.

John said it concerned him when she didn’t pester him to get up as soon as it was light.

I heard her when I got up to go to the bathroom before 5:00 (it was still dark). She made a slight noise but I figured she was laying beside John on her pillow, so I didn’t give it any thought nor did I look for her then.

With both of us looking, it only took about five minutes to find her. What had happened to her? Where was she?

Willow had apparently gotten up to use her “paper.” (She uses a paper like a cat uses a litter box. Her paper is a spread out newspaper on a plastic runner in the laundry room.) Instead of going through our bedroom door toward the laundry room, she went sightly right and ended up behind the door. (It probably wasn’t totally open.) When she missed the door opening and instead headed into the area behind the door, it was too narrow to turn around. She couldn’t back up. She was stuck. Being 14 years old and blind in one eye, she has her challenges. The space behind the door trapped her. She probably could see us through the slit by the hinge, but couldn’t move forward, nor back. We have no idea how long she was there but she was traumatized and so were we.

Poor Willow.

When we found her she was quiet and frightened. She seems to have recovered, but I feel so badly that she went through that scarey trauma.

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Too much to do

We returned home from Florida Thursday; beauty shop appointment and dulcimer club practice Friday; trip to Chesaning and Lansing (most of the day in an ODPC Board meeting) yesterday; today (Sunday) a benefit for a friend’s son (Tim Horny, son of George Horny) so we’ll be tied up until probably 6:00 p.m.

The house is a disaster: three months of dust, stuff half unpacked, windows needing to have the winter dirt washed away, clothes begging to be laundered.

Florida is much easier because we have less stuff and we’ve kept it organized. (I can clean that place totally in an hour.) Here, even if I had a month with nothing else to do, I couldn’t catch up.

I also need to get busy on the organization of the workshop information for the big dulcimer festival where I’m workshop chairman, I need to update many of my the ten websites I maintain, and also provide our dulcimer club members with some additional printed music which I promised to prepare.

I’m over-whelmed.

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Home Again, Home Again – Spring 2009

John and I are home in Michigan now.

We had truck trouble in Ohio about 10:30 this morning. We were just south of Lima, Ohio, when we heard a strange noise like something hitting our truck. It was the drive belt breaking. A dash warning light came on and from the car’s manual we read that it was probably a power problem and we needed to stop as soon as possible. At the next exit we found a garage and helpful folks. The main drive belt had broken and we needed two other ancillary parts. The guy at the garage finally located the parts and we were back on the road within an hour and a half but $180 poorer. John’s attitude was that the parts we replaced wore out. They needed to be replaced. It was just not a very convenient place/time.

We were able to continue flawlessly after the repair on and made it home by about 3:30.

When we got home, I was disappointed that our Speednet Wireless Internet Service wasn’t working. I spent close to two hours working on it with tech support and trying everything possible on my own. Since nothing worked, a service call was scheduled for tomorrow. I hooked it all back up and after an hour or so, tried again. It started working. (I think the tech support person may have continued to work on the problem.) So now the service is purring, the truck is working fine and we’re home.

Temperatures tonight will require an extra blanket (32 degrees), but the sun’s out and it feels good to be home.

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A well-worn road

We’re back and forth on I-75 between Florida and Michigan so often that our vehicle now knows the way. This a.m. we started out before 9:00 and pulled into the motel tonight before 5:30. We’re in Kennesaw, Georgia. Traffic was heavy around Atlanta but at least we’ve already gone through Atlanta so tomorrow morning when we hit the road, the traffic should be heavier going south toward Atlanta rather than north like us. (Maybe we’ll have the road to ourselves… joke joke.)

I had limited email access as we traveled but it was spotty and slow (I was using a cell phone as a modem.) The motel has high speed internet. So I’ve caught up on my correspondence.

Our last day in Florida was relaxing and fun (more pool time and fewer visiting kids). We saw a lot of friends and made plans to get together when we return.

We’re both anxious to get home to Michigan, but also looking forward to being back to our Florida condo in the fall.

Tomorrow will be another day of travel.

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Easter Crowd

This morning we went to the early Easter service at the Methodist Church in Sun City Center. It was a perfect way to start our Easter.

We had planned to spend most of our day at the South Club pool, but the volume of visitors was over-whelming. We arrived early and found a nice shady spot, but it seemed every grandparent had been invaded by their grandchildren. Well-behaved kids are one thing, but these kids ran wild. They out-numbered adults 2 or 3 to 1. I blew up at some kids who cannonballed into the pool, just missing and drenching me. John was hit in the face with a ball. We weren’t the only ones complaining. It’s too bad that parents (and grandparents) don’t understand that there are a lot of us who aren’t accustomed to kids and when they are out-of-control, we aren’t going to be happy. I’d be embarrassed if I had visitors who made others so uncomfortable. When we couldn’t take it any longer we went home. Tomorrow, if we get our packing done, we’ll find a pool that is less kid-friendly. (Or maybe/hopefully the kids will have gone back home.) Thankfully there are two other outdoor pools available to us at Kings Point (plus a couple indoor ones). We like the South Club because it’s close, but today’s experience really soured our Easter.

We have tomorrow left before we head to Michigan on Tuesday.

There’s always a lot to get done the last day: We need to pack our truck. I’ll do laundry and clean up the place before we leave. Hopefully we can complete it all by noon and have the afternoon for a last day in the sun. Michigan has warmed up since last week when they enjoyed several inches of snow, but “warmer” still only means a high of 55 and it’ll be cloudy or rainy. Quite a change from non-stop sun, and 89 which we enjoyed today!

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Today’s weather was flawless.

We’re over-run with Easter/Spring vacation folks so our pool here at the Kings Point South Club was packed, but we found chairs by arriving early and had a great time. The water was warm. Lots of friends were present.

Thursday night’s Rockin’ Rondezvous was totally boring. I was hoping it would be a ball and we’d have a nice send-off carry us through until we can get back, but instead it was empty and dull. We left at 6:00. Very few danced. There were, at the most, about four couples on the floor dancing at any time. The crowd was very small. I guess that makes it easier to miss next week’s. (We’ll be back in Michigan Thursday.)

I heard from our Kings Point friends Brenda Wiley and John Berbard who are back in Maine. Sadly Brenda lost her brother to cancer April 3rd. She did make it back to spend time with him before his passing, but he was only 58.

Tonight we have plans to go to a potluck dinner/dance at the North Clubhouse, it’s a group of country dance folks. We haven’t ever country danced but enjoy potluck dinners and maybe we’ll learn to two-step. (Right now we’re upset because the beans we’ve been slow-cooking all day still aren’t done and we have about a half hour before we need to leave.)

Tomorrow is Easter. We’ll go to 9:00 church service and then stake out a pool spot.

I’ve been packing a little at a time, so hopefully the chore won’t be too bad Monday. I want to be able to enjoy pool time as much as possible between now and Tuesday.

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Six days and counting

Yesterday it turned cool and today there were gale force winds with a high temperature of less than 70 degrees. It would seem like wonderful weather if we were in Michigan, but since it’s our last week in Florida, and we want to cram in as much pool time as possible, it isn’t appreciated.

Thankfully it’ll warm up by the weekend so we’ll be able to enjoy the sunshine.

Today we had a condo association meeting. I did a little house-cleaning, some bill paying, and worked on the stuff I do for the Evart Funfest hammered dulcimer festival.

Tonight it’ll be down into the 40’s!

There tends to be an urge to cram in everything when we get down to the last few days. It’s been a grand visit and I hate to have it end but Michigan is still home.

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Green and growing

I’ve become a lover of Florida vegetation, especially palm trees and orchids.

Palm trees fascinate me. We have two in our yard. And we’ve used a “palm” theme in decorating our condo.

They come in a dozen or more varieties. Some look like pineapples, others like feathers. They are towering and stately and oh, so Florida!! I love all the species. The canary island date palms (aka pineapple palms) are especially appealing. There are the cabbage palms which are native to Florida and grow in the “wild.” Some look like “fans” some are whispy. All seem to have a special personality.

I tried growing a palm inside, and it nearly died when we went home for two weeks, but now that it’s outside it seems to be recovering. (It was in a pot that was too small and no moisture could get to the roots. John replanted it.)

In case you’re wondering, none of the trees here are coconut palms. In Florida the coconut palm is successfully grown from Stuart on the east coast and Punta Gorda on the west coast, south to Key West but not in Sun City Center.

The other tropical plants I have come to love are orchids.

Orchids are exotic and lovely. The first two I owned died before I understood how to keep them nourished. Now I know watering needs to be restricted to once a week and it should be a flushing type of watering where you let the water run through the container, but never let the plant sit in standing water.

I have a lovely white orchid which is doing well with about nine large blooms. Two opened from buds after I got the plant and there is some “new growth” which is encouraging.

But I know that when we head back to Michigan (in less than two weeks) it’s doubtful that I’ll be able to keep it alive.

My orchid only cost $10, and I’ve enjoyed it for about a month so I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth, but I’d love to be able to bring it back and forth from Michigan to Florida. I don’t know how. It’s tall (about three feet) and extremely fragile and sensitive.

Orchids seem to have a personality. The lady who sold this one to me referred to the one I have as as “her.”

She said, “I hope she will do well for you.”

Plants with enough personality to be defined by gender deserve to encouraged to thrive.

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Today was a garage/estate sale day

Today was fun. We must have hit fifteen garage and estate sales. We were able to replace our microwave for only $20 and got a couple of other small items ($1 each) which we needed. It was a fun morning. Since it was rainy and overcast, it was a good thing to do.

This afternoon we went to the pool and John played Pickleball while I read. He’s really getting toned. I’m really proud of how he’s staying so fit. Heck, he is the “male body” of the pool! At 71, he’s awesome.

Last night we played music for the Stained Glass Club dinner. It was a very nice event. John was sort of disappointed in his/our performance, but personally I feel we did fine. It was a tough room with a large percent of the folks were more interested in conversation and eating, but as we played, we “captured” them. They ALL stopped and listened. What more can you ask for? It definitely worked as good as it could under the circumstances.

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Sadness in Michigan

John was notified last night that his nephew was killed in an accident. A truck he was working on slipped and crushed him at his home. He’d been married for 21 years and had two children. How sad!
You can read his obituary here

John truly wanted to go back for the funeral, but it’ll be Saturday a.m. and we have a Thursday commitment we can’t get out of. That means we’d have to leave Friday and there’s no way we can drive back by the funeral time Saturday. John could fly home alone and then come back to Florida on the 6th to get me so we could drive home leaving on the 15th but it would be tough and expensive to get flights this late. It just won’t work so he won’t be attending the funeral.

On a lighter note, we’ve been practicing for our performance tomorrow.

And today we had to look for a microwave. We didn’t have one when we moved into our new condo but a friend loaned us one and said, “We’ll never need it back, just consider it yours.”

We had extra one in Michigan, but since we had that assurance, we didn’t bring it back with us in January. Wouldn’t you know, our friends had a change of circumstance and needed their microwave so we returned it to them. Now we have none.

Especially since I’ll be here alone in June, we want to make sure one is here when we go home in two weeks.

Since we can bring one back from Michigan in September, we’re not anxious to spend much on one. Our first choice would be to get something to fill-in until we can bring one from home. We’ve been shopping like mad. No success yet, but we’ll figure it out.

The pool was lovely today. The air temps were in the mid-high 80’s. It was a tad humid and sorta over-cast but the water was warm and our friends were there. Nevertheless the shadow of the tragic accident in Michigan clouded the day.

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