Archive forJune, 2009

Our many projects

John and I married in 1985. In 1986 we moved into our lovely home on Lake Cecil. It’s a small (26 acre) man-made lake in Saginaw County. The house we had built for us has been perfect. It’s not huge, but has a soaring two-story living room with a real split field stone fireplace. We have a lovely view of the lake, a room off our bedroom with a hot tub, three bedrooms and three baths, a sorta finished basement and many other lovely features.

But, for the past few years, we’ve felt our place needed to be up-dated. The exterior is T1-11 siding which is basically a form of plywood that looks like board and batten siding. (I’ve hated it from the beginning and recently the wood peckers (destructive birds) have loved to peck rows of holes across it.)

We have also found we had a shortage of storage space for John’s “work toys”. Things like the snow blower and the lawn mower no longer fit in the extra space in our limited 2-car garage.

We have decided that an under-utilized covered porch off the back of the garage could have walls added and it would be a nice (10’x7′) storage space for lawn equipment.

In June, we also replaced the roof with shingles which will last longer than we will.

When we started the covered porch addition project, we knew we would have to extend the garage siding to make it match. But as we got closer to the point where the siding needed to be added, we realized that we hated the old stuff and adding it to the new space wasn’t a good idea. So we went shopping.

We’ve evaluated all kinds of vinyl siding. We want something that is totally maintenance free. We’ve finally decided that a rough sawn look that replicates cedar shakes would look nice. It’s pricey but we love it. The color will match what is currently on our siding (called “natural clay”). We like the looks of the “rough sawn shakes.” So that’s currently the plan. The siding is expensive, but the installation is the costly part. John is firm about doing the job himself. (I’d rather hire a contractor.) He feels it can be done is stages. If he starts with the garage side, it’ll tie-in the new covered porch addition. We’ll then go to the front. The lake-side and the east end will be last but we’ll buy all the materials at the beginning to save a significant discount which we’d get if we buy it all now.

I’m sure it’ll be grand. It’ll really add to the value of our home and since the exterior will be virtually “maintenance free” the house will be much more appealing, if we ever decide to sell it.

The next project which is waiting in the wings is a total kitchen re-do. Once we finish the kitchen, the flooring in the dining room and living room will be changed to all hard-wood.

It’ll be lovely when we complete it all.

As I said, my John wants to do most of the work. I would rather see it done sooner by hiring a contracor, but he loves the challenge. So whatever he decides will be the way it’ll be done.

Oh, and then, after the siding, and the kitchen, and the hardwood floors, the next thing will be adding a stone chimney to match the front of the house.

(We have real field stone across the front of the house (as well as on the fireplace inside). The chimney chase which shows above the roof is currently just wood (T1-11 siding). Adding fake field stone to match the real stone would really make the chimney out-standing. It may not be the same material as the front, but no one could tell. Once everything else is done, when we add a fake field stone chimney, it’ll it’ll look awesome.

We just took life expectancy tests. John is expected to live to be 100. I have a 106 life expectancy. (We’re 71 and 67 respectively.) So we have close to 30 years to go. I wonder if we’ll finish our many projects?

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It’s in the can!

Or I guess you could say, “It’s a wrap.” Either phrase describes a completed project.

I FINALLY, have the Evart ODPC Workshop Program ready to go to the printer tomorrow. Whew! What a relief.

About three festivals ago, a lady stepped forward and volunteered to assist me by proofing the program. Her name is Nancy Basford and she’s been a God-send. She comes to the festival from Oak Ridge, TN, so all of our communication is done on line. She has a keen eye which is tuned to detail. She patiently corrects my many errors. She’s easy to work with and a genuinely nice person.

Before she came along, John and I would “read” the program to each other to verify that it was accurate but it was a challenge, and I know many things slipped through. I can’t begin to tell you how stressful it was on the two of us. John is not a detail person, and it drove him crazy to have to look for tiny errors that I felt were important. He has enough to do and the time it took drove him crazy, therefore much of the proofing was done just by me. It’s really hard to spot your own mistakes.

I tell everyone that Nancy saved our marriage. Although that’s an exaggeration, it does make for a much happier household.

The 2009 festival program is now completely ready. It is available for download at I just hope I don’t discover any errors after it goes to the printer. When it’s too late to do anything about problems, I don’t even want to know that I’ve made a mistake. (Ignorance is bliss.) We can always put a notice on the bulletin boards around the fairgrounds, if it’s something that makes it difficult for the attendees to understand or misdirects them.

So today I feel a real load lifted. Now I can start packing for the festival. We leave in 11 days and there’s lots to get ready.

Thanks again, Nancy, for making the job much easier.

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Hot time

Last night our Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club played at Haithco Park for the first in our 2009 series of three summer concerts. We’ve put on these concerts since 1993 and we usually attract 300+ audience members and about 25 performers. We got the performers, but had only about 110 in our audience. The reduction in numbers was probably because the Saginaw News is no longer printed daily so the news about local entertainment doesn’t get out, but also last night was truly HOT. Sweltering!! Definitely the hottest concert we’ve ever performed at that venue. It was 97 degrees when we arrived at the park at 6:30 p.m. and it had only cooled to about 92 at 9:00 when the concert was over. We nearly melted. A light breeze kept us upright, but we were hot and dehydrated.

I also experienced an allergy attack and by the end had almost lost my voice.

So it was an evening that was uncomfortable, but we nevertheless had a good time. How could that be? I can’t tell you. It was fun. We saw old friends, got lots of hugs, had lots of thank-yous, and were really over-joyed being there.

Time is fleeing as the summer passes by. Life is like that. I wish it would slow down.

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Two weeks ’til we head to Evart

Lots to do!

We haven’t used our fifth wheel since last August so we need to get it cleaned up and checked out.

On July 8th, we’ll drive up to the Evart fairgrounds and live there for 12 days. The festival doesn’t actually start until July 16th. It’s over at noon Sunday so we get home by the evening of the 19th.

It’s the most fun we have all year. We see old friends and meet new ones.

Last year’s event was filled with strife, but this year I’m hoping the whole festival will be even more fun since it’ll be managed by new folks who are excited and up for the challenge of putting on the best festival possible. They are listening to folks and trying hard to satisfy them. (If I have any concern, it’s that the new management is “trying too hard.”)

Can’t wait.

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Practice and Party

Tonight we held our June Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club practice.

Sub-Strings, as we’re known, got the name because, when the club was started, it seemed that all of our practices were held in “basement” locations. The name stuck. We used to take the summers off, but this year since we’re the leaders and we’ve been in Florida so much, the club has been on a “break.” Now we need to get our tunes polished up to performance quality for several gigs coming in July.

So we worked hard starting 6:45.

Jane and Bill Kuhlman

The last part of the evening featured a surprise event for our dear friends Jane and Bill Kuhlman and everyone was in on it but them. They are a lovely 91-year-old couple who celebrated a special anniversary on June 17th. They had no idea we had a party planned to honor them. At 8:20, I suggested that we practice another tune, “Anniversary Waltz.” It was a ploy. As we played, they were presented with a large cake which said “Happy 70th Anniversary Bill and Jane.” They were totally surprised.

My John had made home-made ice cream and the banana cake was beautifully decorated from the best bakery we could find…. really tasty. We also served lemonade, punch, soft drinks and coffee.

Jane and Bill's Cake

About 35 members of our club including some spouses were present.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We were tired at the end, but several members pitched in and helped with clean-up. They’re a good group!

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This part of Michigan is predicted to experience several days of rain. I guess we need it, but I had hoped to soak up the sun today. Instead we’re stuck inside.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. We had perfect weather for the Bavarian Parade. Both John and I rode on the Flint Banjo Club float. (John played and I was the best “waver” of the bunch – I can rile up an audience and get folks dancing, singing, waving, and clapping along.) The past few days have been flawless with pleasant breezes and moderate temperatures.

Our roof was replaced last week while I was in Florida. Weather could have been a big factor, but it wasn’t an issue.

John has been building a storage area behind our garage (enclosing a covered porch) but that can wait. He’ll finish it in good time, but it’s not something that creates a crisis.

I sure don’t want to have rain interfere with the outdoor activites we have planned for the rest of the summer: the big Evart Funfest in July, the three summer concerts on the fourth Wednesdays of June, July and August, and the Midland Dulcimer festival. We also have a camping weekend planned with our music club the second weekend of August. And we have a week scheduled for the U.P. at the end of July.

So considering all that, today’s as good a day as any for rain.

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Lost another friend

Denise Stein, (only 48 yrs. old,) one of my popular workshop leaders at the ODPC Funfest passed away this morning from leukemia.

She had been fighting the disease for about three years. She was tough, but it won.

She had a lovely voice and a spirit to match. Her voice fit the “folk music tradition.” If you’d like to hear her, you can by clicking here: Foxfire with Maggie and Denise

What a loss!

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Back home..

Yup, I’m back in Michigan. I got home last night.

Today we’ll be going to Frankenmuth for the Bavarian Festival Parade. John will be playing banjo with the Flint Banjo Club. Sometimes they have the wives ride along so fill-up the float. I don’t know if that’s the case this year, but I’ll go prepared to be a banjo lady.

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Last Sunset Photo (I promise)

Out the back door.

I took this picture Friday night from the back door of our condo.

I’ve taken so many photos of this view. It amazes me. But this is the last one. (Until next time.)

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Last Day in Florida

Today is my last day here in the sunny south.

I have a whole list to do before I am picked up to go to the airport at 1:00 tomorrow. It’s really hot, so I decided that I will do all the stuff I need to do inside where it’s cool (packing, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and then this afternoon I’ll head to the pool. From 5:00-9:00 there’s a get-together at the South Club called “Sunset Celebration.” There’ll be music, food, and dancing. All of it will be beside the pool.

If I have everything ready tonight, I can go to the Saturday morning “Re-sale Shop.”

Last night I enjoyed Rockin’ Rondezvous in the newly redecorated and re-named Palm Court Cafe. I sat with a really nice couple (Patsy and Merle). I was home about 6:30.

I better get busy and finish my chores so nothing will stand between me and the pool this afternoon.

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What’s Missing?

I just realized that the hot weather has caused a change. When I got here 10 days ago, the vicinity of the pool was invaded by a swarm of love bugs. Yup, those pesky flying critters had invaded. They swarmed. They were everywhere. They don’t bite but when you have them crawling on you, they’re definitely hard to endure. Click here for an earlier blog entry about love bugs, complete with a photo.

But this week the temperatures went up and the love bugs have vacated.

It was too hot. At least there’s one good side to the extreme heat!

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Hot Hot Hot

It was a tad too warm yesterday (92 with a “feels like” temperature of 100). More of the same is predicted for today. I spent a lot of time in the shade at the pool. I filled a spray bottle and “misted” myself every few minutes. There was a slight breeze so I felt comfortable, but by about 3:00 I started feeling a little light-headed. I knew I was dehydrated. I hadn’t been consuming enough liquids, so I headed home. After a hearty consumption of water and the pleasantly cool A/C, I was fine.

Gerry, a really nice neighbor lady, invited me over for wine and conversation at 4:30. She had a fascinating history. I was glad I got to know her better. I stayed a couple hours.

After three days of renovation, the South Club’s lounge area, formerly called “BC’s,” will reopen as “Palm Court.” Hopefully folks will turn out tonight for Rockin’ Rondezvous and to see the newly decorated area. I’ll say good bye to friends.

Tomorrow night, they’re going to have a “Sunset Celebration” poolside. I plan to attend.

I only have two days left so I need to make a list if the stuff I don’t want to forget: bring in the cushions from the lanai furniture, close the hurricane awning, shut off the water, turn up the A/C, etc.

I will be glad to be back in Michigan where temperatures are predicted to be ideal (low 80’s).

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The rains have passed

It looks like the rest of my stay here in Florida will be under clear skies. Florida Sky

Today was absolutely lovely. I was at the pool all afternoon. Did lots of visiting. I’d thought I’d leave about 4:00, but an hour later and I was still yacking with friends.

I’ve been here for a full week. I have four and a half more days.

When in Florida, I love taking pictures of the sky. The skies down here are incredible. They are often colorful with big poofy clouds. Sunsets are fantastic.

I talked with John. He said it’s been in the low 60’s in Michigan and raining. At least the forecast for Sunday, when I will be back home, is for temps in the high 70’s. Yes!

It sounds like John has tackled some pretty big projects in my absence. I should feel guilty, since I am enjoying the sun and lovely weather, and he’s working hard, but I think we both enjoy some private time. I know I’ll sure go back “refreshed” and I’ll appreciate him even more.

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Rain again in Florida

This morning, I was ready to go to the “Nearly New” sale (which is only held on Saturdays during the “summer months”) but as I was about to head out the door the rain hit. For the next two hours it really came down. Obviously my plans changed, so I took a book I was reading to the lanai and enjoyed view and sound of the rain. I guess there was a lot of rain over-night but I slept through it.

By noon the rain had moved on. The temperature was perfect. I was at the pool most of the afternoon. I floated around a lot and visited with friends. I may have gotten a bit too much sun, but I’m trying to watch it with sun screen and shade. I must admit I forgot to “renew” the sun screen and was out there for a loooonnnng while.

This evening I figured I’d go enjoy a Belmont Stakes horse race party at the South Club, but when I got there, I was disappointed. It wasn’t much of a party and sitting around a bar isn’t my thing. I visited for a short while with a friend, and I left. I’d planned to eat dinner at the party but they weren’t grilling, so I went shopping, got myself a nice little steak and had it with a baked potato. (My favorite meal.) I was home before 7:00 p.m.

The days are blurring together. Most of the time, it’s glorious sunshine (at least part of the day) and lots of great pool time. I’ve read a couple of books, and I’ve been working on the scheduling of the workshops and preparation of the program for the big dulcimer festival next month. A week from tonight I’ll be back in Michigan. It’ll be hard to leave. It’s so nice here.

What a wonderful life.

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Warm and Wonderful

Here it is Thursday evening. I’m really enjoying my Florida visit. It’s been relaxing and quite warm. I got here on Tuesday, and my primary activity has centered on the pool. It’s been really warm (high 80’s). I aim for at least four hours at the pool – more if possible.

Both Tuesday evening and last night (Wednesday), it rained really hard at about 7:30 p.m. The rain was also predicted for this afternoon. I was determined to get my pool time before the rain chased me away. I arrived about 10:00 a.m. and stayed until 2:00. That left me plenty of time to wash my hair and spiffy up for tonight’s Rockin’ Rondezvous. As it turned out there was a little thunder, but no rain.

Rockin Rondezvous, the Thursday evening get-together at the South Club, was fun. I saw lots of folks I knew. Sat with our friend Sue Sussman. All of the regulars were there. Of course no snowbirds, but it still felt like I was among friends.

At 7:00 they had a jitterbug contest with only five couples competing. They decided it was a tie and all won dinners for two. Personally I had my favorite but it was good that all the brave souls we declared winners.

Tomorrow afternoon there’s a 50-60% chance of rain in the afternoon. I intend to be at the pool early. If it rains, I’ll go shopping. I’d like to get there by about 9:00. If I stay until noon, and it doesn’t rain, I can maybe take a break for a couple hours and come back later.

I have been watching my sun exposure because I don’t want to over-do it, which would be easy this time of the year. I’ve got a nice “glow” but so far, using sunscreen and staying in the shade has worked.

I haven’t worked on my stuff for the festival today. I figure that’s a good rainy day job.

The forecast is for rain nearly every day, but I’m discovering that rain can be only an hour and the rest of the day is great. I plan to make the best of the next eight days. They’ll fly by.

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What a day!

This morning the alarm went off at 6:00. I bounced out of bed thinking I’d planned things out and I’d have lots of time to get to the airport before my departure. Then it hit me! I’d mis-calculated. My plane was leaving at 7:00 – boarding at 6:30, so I should have gotten up an hour earlier. But I flew around getting ready. We left the house by 6:10. We were at the airport by 6:30. I wasn’t able to swig down my normal quota of coffee until I got to Detroit. But with a two and a half hour lay-over, I had time to “catch-up.”

The fellow who I hired to give me a ride from the airport in Tampa was there even though my plane came in about 30 minutes late. Everything went smoothly. By about 3:00, I was home in our condo. No problems. I was able to turn on the water, get the hot water back on, and the ice maker working. I had a slight problem getting our cable TV up and running, but with the help of the cable company, it is working fine.

I spent a couple hours at the pool and saw some of our best friends. The water was actually too warm to be refreshing but I feel younger and more alive.

About 5:45 I went shopping for a few groceries. A thunderstorm hit while I was in the store. Thank heavens I’d brought along an umbrella, but it rained so hard and the wind blew so strongly that, as I was getting into the car, it turned the umbrella inside out, and I was drenched.

My “MagicJack” phone device, which plugs into a usb port when you have high speed internet and you can plug a phone into it, is working beautifully so I have nice clear phone service. I feel like I’ve really moved into the 21st century. A phone! (Sure I’d have had a cellphone, but this provides unlimited service at no cost.)

So I’m here in Florida. I’ve talked with John twice. I wish he had been able to come with me, but I have lots to do. Tomorrow I have an appointment at the bank. I need to clean the lanai (which is really a mess from all the rain they’ve had here).

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