Archive forDecember, 2009

2009 Ends quietly

John and I spent the day at the pool with friends. It was a fun place to be and the temperatures, although they fluctuated, ended up in the mid-70’s, lots of sunshine, and very comfortable. I walked both to and from the pool. (Good exercise.)

We came back about 4:30 and by 6:00, after a light dinner, we headed to the South Club for a New Year’s Eve celebration. None of our close friends were present so we didn’t stay long. A couple hours of drinking, dancing and “celebrating” and we were ready to head home.

We’re here now. It’s 9:00 and we’re watching TV. The door is open and a nice breeze is coming in from outside. It’s about 65 out there.

Can’t think of a better way to end 2009.

Comments off

Heat or A/C??

Last night with the heat on and the setting at about 62, the heat came on several times. John moved the thermostat setting up a few degrees when he got up. I think it was probably set at about 70. Today, it warmed up outside, but with everything closed, I was oblivious. Finally, early in the afternoon, I opened the doors and realized it was warm enough to go to the pool so the heat was shut off. Most of the afternoon, I left the door open, and soon it was 76 in the condo, so I turned the A/C on.

At this time the heat temp is back on but it’s only set to 61. It’s still 74 in here so nothing is running. But I’d love a system like our car which just automatically switches and keeps you at a temperature without having to decide if it’ll require heat or A/C to achieve that temp.

Over night tonight the low is heading into the mid-50’s. (No heat nor air required overnight.) Tomorrow it should be warm (mid to high 70’s), so I want to go to the pool (A/C? Maybe?), but by evening it’ll be chilly. (Maybe it won’t require heat because it’ll only be about 61 for a low.)

New Year’s Day it’ll only be a high of 64 but a low of 41. The heat will definitely be back on by the 1st, and I can guess that it won’t be off until at least after the 8th of January. We need a programmable thermostat. Low of about 60-63 over night. High of about 70 when on heat, and about 76 for an A/C setting.

Comments off

Making Plans

Last night we had a good time at the South Club while folks karaoke’d. We would never take the mic ourselves, but it’s fun watching others and sometimes the whole place “got into it.” Tunes like “Sweet Caroline” and “16 Tons” had everyone singing.

Today, I hope we can put up the second fan. (We took a break yesterday.) John didn’t sound as if he was interested when I suggested the fan installation, but hopefully he’ll change his mind.

It’s actually quite nice out. Maybe we should pretend it’s warm enough and go to the pool.

Tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) we’ll go back to the South Club to bring in the New Year. If we get tired before midnight, we won’t have anything invested. It’s just a Rockin’ Rendezvous evening. They should have the grill going so we can eat there, have a drink or two, and dance a little. If nothing is happening, we can go home.

Then on Friday (January 1st), we’ll go to Busch Gardens. It’s the last day for their ice show and Christmas shows so we want to be sure to go to it.

We were going to go before Christmas but Willow was so ill that we were afraid to leave her. She’s now much better and we feel we can go for the day.

Comments off

Look Up

our new fanJohn installed one of our two new ceiling fans today. The other one will be installed tomorrow.

The ceiling fans, which were in place were perfectly adequate, but they were like the thousands of other fans the construction company installed when they built these condos. The light fixtures in the dining rooms, the fans, and several other items are “standard.” You go into any of the condos in Kings Point, and you’ll see the same ceiling fans and light fixtures.

Last spring we replaced our dining room fixture with a stained glass, bowl shaped one, and a matching foyer light.

The plain white five-bladed fans will continue to be just fine in our two bedrooms but our living room deserved something nicer. If you look at the photo, you’ll see the old one in the foreground is plain white. The one from the ceiling near the “tree” is the new pretty palm leaves.

We have sort of a tropical theme in our living room. It’s comfortable and pretty, but we do need to do something about those worn and uncomfortable recliners. They must GO!

Comments off

New Year’s Eve Flexibility

Before we left Michigan, we thought we’d go to a New Year’s Eve party put on by the Oldies But Goodies club at the Sun City Center main community building. When we got here, we found it was a sell-out.

Since it appeared the party wasn’t possible, we made tentative plans to go to the South Club just a block or so from us. There won’t be a formal “party” but hopefully some folks we know will attend. They’ll have music and munchies.

Last night we got a call from a lady who had extra tickets for the Oldies But Goodies party. But we decided to pass on that opportunity. We have already adjusted our thinking. Going to a big party and sitting at a table with folks we don’t know doesn’t sound all that desirable. The $70 would have included “heavy hors d’oeuvres” but it was byob. $70 plus a new dress sounded like it was a budget stretcher.

But a bigger consideration is that John has good days and some days when he doesn’t feel up to par. Expensive party tickets would make John feel as if he was “required” to hang in there. Maybe that won’t be the best thing for him. We probably won’t dance as much as we used to and that means being at a compatible table is even more important.

The informal South Club gathering will be just fine, or maybe we’ll just stay home, or maybe we’ll get together with friends like last year. We’re flexible.

We also have two other big parties to go to during January and February and several dances. For those events, we will be at tables with friends. That will fill our “quota” of fancy “dress-up” opportunities.

So New Year’s Eve we’ll just go over to the South Club and come home when we feel like it. We won’t have the lovely hors d’oeuvres which would have been included in the $70 tickets but I don’t need the calories.

With John’s illness, I’m learning to make adjustments and be flexible. No sense it stressing him.

Comments off

Willow’s her old self

Tuesday, the 22nd, Willow nearly died, but she’s her old self now. She’s hungry and playful. Talk about a turn-around. And to think we nearly put her to sleep (at the vet’s suggestion). She’s sure doing well.

Comments off

Revision is up!

I love working with web site design. My website at has been totally revised. Actually it’s not 100% finished, but the main part is up. I will have to blend some of the sub-site pages, but there’s no rush. I’m pleased with it.

Comments off

Glorious Christmas feast

We just finished a lovely dinner: ham, sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, fresh baked bread, green beans, ambrosia salad (with tangerines, pineapple, bananas, coconut and mini marshmallows in sour cream), several relishes and hot apple pie. It was all very good. After we ate, we went for a golf cart ride through all the golf courses since all of the paths are open to everyone on Christmas Day. (The rest of the time you must be a member of a golf club to use the paths.)

Last night, Christmas Eve, we went to a party at Dale and Trudy’s condo. They’re the ones who used to let me know that Mom needed me when she first started displaying symptoms. They lived one condo over from Mom’s. We were their neighbors until we had to move from Mom’s condo. Trudy, who is a realtor, helped us find the condo we bought.

Comments off

Christmas dinner planned.. Willow better

Today we shopped for our Christmas dinner. We were supposed to have spent the day enjoying Busch Garden’s wonderful Christmas ice show, but we were too concerned about Willow to leave her for the day. So we stayed home. Willow slept all day today but was much improved from yesterday’s major trauma. This evening she walked a few feet then went back to her bed.

We planned our holiday dinner: a ham, sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, fresh baked bread, ambrosia salad, relishes, green beans, apple pie.

Hopefully tomorrow we can go to the pool. It was just a tiny too cool today (70 or so). Tomorrow it’s supposed to be close to 80.

Comments off

Willow in crisis

Willow, our tiny dog, wasn’t doing well this morning. She’s been up and down over the past few weeks. Yesterday she looked really good but not today. Because, when we called the vet, she was in critical condition, our veterinarian took her in as an “emergency.” He’s really good with her but there’s little that can be done. She was put on oxygen and nitro. We waited to see how she was this afternoon. By late afternoon, she was doing better. We were able to bring her home.

The time will come when we’ll have to make “the hard decision” but it looks like she’s made it past this crisis. The vet warned us to be prepared because her heart is shot. Willow is now sleeping peacefully. She’s on meds galore. Her heart is crowding her lungs, but she’s comfortable and no longer in distress. We’d have given our permission to end her life if it was hopeless, but she proved she’s a fighter and deserves to keep on going.

Comments off

Today we’ll rest

Since our arrival, we have been on the go constantly:
Thursday – Rockin’ Rondezvous at the South Club House.
Friday – a Marcille Wallis and friends concert at the United Methodist Church.
Saturday – a funeral, funeral luncheon, and evening neighborhood party.
Sunday – a dance club dance.

Now we will have two days of leisure.  This afternoon or tomorrow we’ll probably go get our H1N1 vaccinations.

Wednesday we’re going to Busch Gardens for their Christmas ice show,

It’s really cool today (high of about 62 and lows in the 40’s over night).  But by Wednesday it’s supposed to be 75.  Thursday (Christmas Eve) scattered showers are predicted.  I think we’ll just laze around today. No need to do anything. John’s tired. (He did fine at our first dance last night.)

Christmas Eve Day it’ll be about 76 and we have an invitation to a house party at Dale and Trudy’s that evening.

Christmas Day it’s supposed to be in the mid-70’s but possibly thunderstorms.  Then it’ll chilly down again for a few days.  I hope we can go to the pool.  (That’s the tradition we started last year.)

We haven’t decided what we’ll have for our Christmas dinner: ham, turkey, roast beef???

Comments off

Chilly and cool

Looks like it’s heading to a cool Christmas. I so wanted to be in the pool on Christmas day and maybe we will but it’ll be cooler than last year!

Last night we attended a concert held here in Sun City Center (FL) at the Methodist Church. It was Christmas with the Celts featuring Marcille Wallis and her group of four wonderful musicians and two exceptional Celtic dancers.

Matt Miller, who accompanied her one year when she came to the Funfest, has really matured into a great fiddler. She had an excellent guitarist, Michael DeLalla; a talented whistle/mandolin/vocalist; and Robin Hendrickson on bagpipes. The whole group was super! Each musician was outstanding. What a treat!

The act opened with the musicians and dancers coming down the center isle lead by the bagpiper. It was dramatic and stirring.

The Irish/Scottish dancers added a great touch. Their energy was contagious.

One of Marcille’s first pieces was a solo with guitar back-up of “Oh, Holy Night” which was awesome. She is really a very appealing showman who captured the audience. Her playing was excellent and those in the group really provided wonderful foundation for her dulcimer as well as individual solo numbers which featured their unique talents.

She told the audience about the Evart Funfest and what it’s like to go to sleep at 2:00 a.m. to the sound of hammered dulcimers and wake up at 6:00 a.m. to the sound of dulcimers (maybe even the same players).

She and her group visited the same church in February and we were fortunate to attend then too. We liked them last time but this time show was even better!

This a.m. we will attend the funeral of Joan Thate. Bob Thate is our association vice president and all round nice guy and helpful neighbor. Joan has been ill for some time and in a nursing home. It’s a sad time for Bob. We didn’t know Joan very well, but she seemed like a lovely lady.

This evening we’ll traverse three condos south from us to a neighborhood holiday party.

Comments off

A Christmas tree for the Skaryds!

We found a 7 1/2 foot artificial tree today for merely $25. It’s lovely with 1,450 tips and 800 lights. The couple selling it no longer spend their Christmases here so they decided to sell it. It’s really nice.

Our Sun City Center Christmas tree I’m a person who vowed never to have an artificial tree, but my allergies have gotten so bad and, with John’s lung condition, a real tree (complete with molds and fungi) would not be wise.

I need to get some silver, white or gold balls to make the tree look “complete” but it’s ok for now.

It took a couple hours to “assemble” the tree but it was worth it. It’s lovely!

Over the years I have made crocheted Victorian ornaments (lacy with pearls). They are the only ornaments I had to use, although I plan to get more plain silver, gold, or white balls to glorify the tree.

We went to Rockin’ Rondezvous tonight but felt a little isolated. Most of the folks we usually sit with are with families over the holidays. We did see some old friends and made plans to sit with Linda and Bob Sunday at the “Academy” dance.

We were home by 6:00. I haven’t been feeling up to par and I’m exhausted. (I’ve had a intestinal bug since about Tuesday.) A quiet evening should help restore my energy.

Tomorrow night we want to go to a Marcile Wallis concert at the Methodist Church. Saturday a funeral during the day and a party at night. Sunday the Academy dance. Sad for our friend/neighbor/vice president of our association who lost his wife Tuesday. But the concert and the dance sound like fun.

John tried dancing tonight for the first time since he’s developed his lung problem. He did fine. We didn’t do anything too strenuous but we got out there and shook our booty a little.

Comments off

First day in paradise

Flowers welcomed us When we arrived yesterday and opened the door from our living room toward the golf course, here’s what we saw. We’d planted a small flowerless poinsettia last year. It had been a luncheon centerpiece and door prize in about a 4″ pot. This year it’s magnificant. What a lovely Christmas-y greeting.

Today we’ll unpack and clean. I have a beauty salon appointment at 10:00. John will go with me and shop for groceries.

But we have a slight problem: Last night our next door Saginaw neighbor, Connie, called us.

We’d purchased a device called a “Honeywell Winter Watcher” which allowed us to plug in a light which would be visible in case our house temperature fell below 45 degrees. Connie had agreed to monitor the light. (She can see the window where we placed the lamp from her kitchen window.)

Last night she got home and the light was on. It was only 17 degrees outside when she called us. She doesn’t have access to the house but she wanted to advise us that the “warning light” was on.

Last week we had the furnace serviced so we”re fairly certain it’s just a problem with the way it was set. Maybe John didn’t leave enough of a range between the furnace setting and the setting on the “Watcher.” But we won’t know until John’s friend, George, can go into our house and check to make sure everything is working. We may have to have the thermostat replaced. Whatever it takes, hopefully George can handle it for us. We’re a little far to have a problem like this develop. It obviously bothered John all night. He slept very little.

Today is Thursday. I didn’t feel well Tuesday and Wednesday with a major digestive problem. It wore me out, so I was exhausted and slept like a rock.

So hopefully there’s no problem at home. As soon as John can reach George and have him check things out, he’ll feel better.


Friday George was able to go into our Saginaw house and check out the warning signal. But everything was fine. The device was just set too close to the thermostat setting. Moving the dial on the light to a lower setting turned it off. Now we can be fairly certain that the light won’t come on unless the lower temperature is reached.

Comments off

Sunsational in Sun City Center

We arrived at our condo about 12:30. Temperatures were in the 80’s. Before we went inside, we were welcomed by a couple neighbors and more stopped by shortly.

The afternoon was spent “settling in.” Next year it’ll be easier if I stick to my vow to leave everything here and just travel (not move) back and forth. No more bins of clothes. No more suitcases which require a man and a boy to move. I want to travel light.

But this time, we came with a full truckload and I spent much of the day unloading and unpacking. There’s still more to be done.

I also took time to “decorate for the season.” There’s a lovely Christmas centerpiece on our coffee table, a small Christmas tree on the table by the window. I put a wreath on the door, Christmas placemats on the dining room table and lights in the window. My mom’s small ceramic tree is on the lanai, greeting visitors. There are liberal candles around the condo. It looks nice.

The condo was in good shape except for the split leaf philodendron which we always battle or it over-grows the walk-way to the front door, and a dead hybiscus behind the condo toward the golf course. The front door and lawn furniture on the lanai were covered with black mold. I scrubbed it off the door, but it will take even more elbow grease. We’ll finish cleaning, dusting and vacuuming the place tomorrow. Right now it looks great and we feel “at home.”

It’ll be cooler in a few days… much cooler, but looking ahead it looks like, in about a week, it will return to the weather which greeted us today.

Already our calendar is filling up. We have plans every night starting tomorrow night through Christmas Eve except for Monday and Tuesday. I don’t know what we’ll do after that, but we sure have a full calendar for the next week.

Comments off

Visiting Valdosta

It’s now 7:30 p.m. We are settled in to our motel in Valdosta, GA. We made it by 4:30. The room is nice. We ate a light dinner, and now we’re relaxing.

This afternoon there were some light showers (more like mist) in the Atlanta area. Temperature got up to 72. It had quit raining by the time we got to Valdosta.

Unfortunately Sun City Center’s forecast doesn’t look all that great for next week. It’s in the 80’s today, but by next week there’ll be a few days in the low 60’s. (Then it turns around and heads back into the mid-70’s.)

I tried one of my techie tricks tonight from our motel. I brought along my “Magic Jack” device and a phone. Using the high-speed wi-fi which is available here in our room with the Magic Jack, I can make unlimited phone calls at no charge. (Magic Jack is an “internet” phone.) The audio quality was very good. I could switch our home phone forwarding to the Magic Jack and we would be able to seamlessly receive our calls, but since we’ll be at our destination tomorrow, and the calls are going to our cell, I didn’t bother.

We’ll be on the road by 8:00 tomorrow morning and should pull in to our condo about 12:30.

Comments off

We’re passing through Knoxville, TN

We’re enjoying another day of clear roads (knock on wood), with fairly mild temperatures (54 at 9:10).

Last night’s Red Roof in London, KY, is the nicest one we’ve stayed at. (We like Red Roof’s because they’re the only chain that doesn’t object to Willow nor charge any extra for her.) This morning the free breakfast consisted of waffles, toast, cereals, bagels, hot grits, juice and coffee.

Tonight we have two reservations so we can be flexible and either stay in Macon or Valdosta, GA. We’ll decide as we get further south, but since we got an early start this a.m., chances are we’ll drive on to Valdosta. (We’d probably arrive about 3:00 in Macon, and that’s too early to call it a day.) By choosing the more southerly stop, we can make it to Florida tomorrow and have lunch at the condo rather than another lunch stop on the road.

Comments off

Somewhere in northern Tennessee

We’re enjoying another day of clear roads (knock on wood), with fairly mild temperatures (54 at 9:10).

Last night’s Red Roof in London, KY, is the nicest one we’ve stayed at. (We’re locked into Red Roof’s because they’re the only chain that doesn’t object to Willow nor charge any extra for her.) This morning for breakfast they served waffles, toast, cereals, bagels, hot grits, juice and coffee.

Tonight we have two reservations so we can be flexible and either stay in Macon or Valdosta, GA. We’ll decide as we get further south, but since we got an early start this a.m., chances are we’ll drive on to Valdosta. (We’d probably arrive about 3:00 in Macon, and that’s too early to call it a day.) By choosing the more southerly stop, we can make it to Florida tomorrow and have lunch at the condo rather than another lunch stop on the road.

Comments off

The Eve of Discovery

I always think of our trips south as “adventures.” It’s fun to pack up the dog, the bird, and 3/4’s of our possessions and hop in our comfortable GMC truck with Florida as a destination. I love the time shared in close confines with my sweet husband. We rarely turn on the radio or music, although sometimes, when John gets sleepy or feels he needs a diversion, I’ll “crank it up.” Mainly, we talk and share observations. It’s a very pleasant time.

Of course, I’m not doing the driving so I can feel relaxed. John probably feels differently. Buy I try to help using my GPS by providing directions. It’s not like back-seat driving. I will point out that we’ll be approaching our exit in 12 miles (or whatever is accurate). I’ll tell him which lane we’ll need to be in and which direction we’ll be heading after we exit. It makes the trip easier on him. We’re a team. I rarely read because reading puts me in another world and John would prefer that I stay “with him.” I sometimes work on the computer. This time I hope to spend the time revising

And I’m always trying to get my email. It’s a challenge and it’s getting harder and harder to find the connections which used to be common-place. John’s computer running Windows XP still has the ability (but mine runs on Vista so it won’t work). The system uses a cable connection with our cellphone to make totally free digital connections using the “Quick to Net” system (free internet). It’s grand when it works, but fewer and fewer areas have connections to Quick to Net which was an early system we were fortunate to get with an old “pay as you go” cellphone and we now have grandfathered-in-status. We hang on to that cellphone because we know it is rare to get anything for free, especially a free digital connection to the internet. Of course it’s snail slow, but sometimes I can connect and if I’m patient enough, I can use my site-based text email system to pull in my messages. I wouldn’t try websites, because graphic images would slow the download beyond what I am patient enough to wait for. When I receive an email it’s a major accomplishment. I keep a listing of the mile markers where it works as we go south on I-75. Every trip I lose a few areas, but it’s still fun to try. Eventually I’ll give up and get an I-phone or other state-of-the-art phone with 3G or 4G mobile broadband.

Our plan is to depart at 8:00 a.m.. We should pull into London, KY, about 5:00 p.m. after 498 miles of driving. Day two will be slightly shorter, if we stay in Macon, GA (we actually have two different choices that evening about 2 hours apart). The third day (Wednesday) we’ll arrive at our destination at about 3:00 in the afternoon. We’ll take about an hour to “unload” and hopefully be able to go to the pool.

Thursday evening we’ll enjoy re-establishing connections with our friends at Rockin’ Rondezvous.

Can’t wait.

Comments off

Talk to me

I just added a new feature to my dulcimer sales site:, it’s a live “chat area” so I can answer the questions folks have.

But if you want to say “Hi” (provided I’m on line) I’d love to have you try it out. Just go to the link above and click on the Chat feature.

Of course it only works when I’m on line, and we will be gone this evening (Saturday) and Sunday during the day, then we head South. So if you don’t reach me, don’t be surprised. But it’ll be nice when folks have a question and I am available.

Comments off

Packing Problems

John had a major problem with a carboy of wine. I won’t go into it, but we lost five gallons of premium stock we were planning to take with us.

Also we looked hard for, but can’t find an “over-night” sized gym bag which we both lost track of several years ago. (It was a gift so we know we had it, but where it is, is the big question.) John would like to use it during our trip South. It is burgundy nylon and much too nice to have tossed out. Since our house isn’t that big, it has to be here somewhere, but we can’t find it. So today was frustrating.

John got up early (before 8:00) and headed out to have an “after fasting” blood test for his Pulmonologist. He then stopped to have the truck tires rotated. He also got a prescription for Willow, and picked up so last minute groceries.

I was busy changing doctor appointments, making lists, packing, and making sure everything is ready. I think we’re in good shape.

I just hope the rest of the packing process goes more smoothly than today. I hope maybe tomorrow or Sunday we can stop at a Walmart or Meijers and buy John another gym bag for his clothes while traveling. Someday we’ll find the burgundy bag which we both know is “here” but missing.

At least the weather isn’t going to be teasing us with wonderful “pool conditions” so instead of sunning ourselves, we can go get our mail, our Christmas tree, and re-stock our refrigerator before we feel the urge to hit the pool.

We will arrive on Wednesday, so the Thursday night (the 17th) “Rockin’ Rondezvous will be a “must-attend.” That’s the time when we all assemble in the South Clubhouse for some “adult beverages” and munchies. We enjoy the dancing and the friendships which are plentiful.

On Friday the 18th a friend of ours (Marcille Wallis) will be presenting a concert at the Methodist Church. I really want to be there.

Sunday, the 20th, we’ve been invited to a dance and holiday party. The 24th, Christmas Eve, we have a house party my mom’s old neighborhood. They’re super folks.

Then comes Christmas.

One problem: We don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve. But maybe we can have a party at our place.

Before we decide, I need to do some holiday decorating It’s hard to think of a holiday party without the decor. Once I get my Christmas Tree up and make the place look festival I’ll feel like entertaining. We’ll arrive on Wednesday and I’d love to buy and have a Christmas tree up by Friday or Saturday plus wall-to-wall holiday decorations.

I keep going to Walmart’s website:, to see if they have decent artificial pre-lit trees but it’s hard to tell what’s still available in the stores. That’ll be one of the first places we head when we get to Sun City Center. (We have only two choices: Walmart or Home Depot.) I know I want a tree with lots of branches, about 7 feet tall, with about 1200 clear lights. Probably what I’ll find will be 4.5 ft. tall with 150 lights and lots of bare spots.

Then maybe we’ll extend some invitations for New Year’s Eve.

Before then we have to get down there.

Comments off

Down to the Wire

I’m busy getting stuff ready for our departure Monday. Since Saturday and Sunday we have extra commitments, I really need to do everything possible today and tomorrow. (Stuff like food can be packed last minute, but anything I can do now will help avoid the last minute rush.)

Yesterday John went to his pulmonologist and his urologist. Today he’s at the dentist. Both of his doctors yesterday had good news. He did better on his breathing test and everything was fine with his urologist. So he’s been given the go ahead to leave town. Tomorrow he has one more blood test and then the truck gets a check-up, tires rotated, and new wiper blades.

It’s really windy today so the waves are fairly high on little Lake Cecil in front of our house. At least it’s “open water.” I don’t like the stillness of ice. Even with the sun out, the snow is blowing hard horizontally but there’s little on the ground and what’s coming down is going to end up in the next county.

We don’t have any plans for New Year’s Eve. I’ve been trying to get tickets for a party in Sun City Center, FL, but I should have purchased them weeks ago. I doubt that they’re available now. It’s not bad planning, I just didn’t want to jinx John by purchasing non-refundable tickets before he was “cleared to go.”

Comments off

An “Old” Techie Geek

Yup, I’d describe myself as an “old” techie geek.

When left Saginaw Valley State University in late 1981, we had only one computer on the campus and I got to use it once. But it wasn’t long after I started working at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Saginaw, that they got me my first computer to use.

Early computers had no hard drive, the OS (operating system) was usually booted from one floppy disk, which was then removed and replaced by another one containing the application. Some machines using two disk drives (or one dual drive) allowed the user to leave the OS disk in place and simply change the application disks as needed, or to copy data from one floppy to another. That’s the kind of computers we had to begin with. When our 30 megabyte hard drive was installed, the technician told us we’d “never fill it up.”

By the mid 1980’s I got my first “home” computer. It had a 30 megabyte hard drive, a 5 inch “floppy drive” and an “amber” monitor. It ran IBM’s Dos 1.1. I was “state of the art.”

Following that first off-brand computer, I found a used IBM, then a Dell, then I had one built for me, then an HP laptop, followed by a Sony Vaio and now another Sony Vaio. Each one was faster with a bigger hard drive. The same was true of my “work computers.” Because I was responsible for more and more data, my computer was always the best that was available, and I tried to stay abreast at home too.

I ran only two main programs: Lotus 1-2-3 (versions 1.0-3.0) started me out. I also learned Symphony which was by Lotus but it had database features built in. For word processing, we started with a free program until we up-graded to Word Perfect which was wonderful. With Lotus 1-2-3 and Word Perfect I was able to do most everything necessary but often slowly and with greater difficulty. Nevertheless, it was my area of expertise and I learned to “write programs” although I had no computer background. I used the “macro” feature of Symphony to write the first scheduling program for our hospital. I was able to “think through” to create solutions for which I received some notoriety (two awards through the Lotus magazine for winning national competitions solving computer “problems” with macros.

Just how do today’s speeds and sizes of hard drives compare?

Here’s a chart:
The nearest binary number to 1,000 is 2^10 or 1,024; thus 1,024 bytes was named a Kilobyte. So, although a metric “kilo” equals 1,000 (e.g. one kilogram = 1,000 grams), a binary “Kilo” equals 1,024 (e.g. one Kilobyte = 1,024 bytes).

bit = 1 bit
byte = 8 bits
Kilobyte = 1024 bytes
Megabyte = 1024 kilobytes
Gigabyte = 1024 megabytes
Terabyte = 1024 gigabytes
Petabyte = 1,048,576 gigabytes Kbr>
Exabyte = 1,073,741,824 gigabytes
Zettabyte = 1,099,511,627,776 gigabytes

I remember what an up-grade it was when we got our first HD 3 1/2 inch diskettes which held 2MB!

If you look at the comparative chart above, you can do the math and figure that the first computers were incredibly limited in their capacity.

I now have a thumb drive that holds 4 gigabyte. If I figured correctly that’s more than 136 times more than my 30 MB computer and my thumb drive doesn’t weigh an ounce.)

I remember the historic days when Dos came in 1.0 and 1.1 versions, when Excel and Word hadn’t been invented, when “Windows” didn’t exist, and we’d go on a break while our computer ran computations because they were so slow.

I’m an old “techie geek.” and proud of it!

Comments off

Hard Water

John and I are fortunate. We have three residences and a farm (which we rent out). Our residences are: our Saginaw home on lovely Lake Cecil in Thomas Township; our condo in sunny central Florida in Sun City Center (Kings Point gated community); and a very old trailer with about 185 feet of frontage on Lake Michigan in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

It wasn’t really our choice to become “property poor” but the economy has locked us into holding on to our “investments” well past the time we’d like to divest ourselves of our rental unit (the farm) and our U.P. property. We’d prefer to only own our home in Saginaw and our Florida condo, and when the real estate values turn around, that’s our aim. We were just unfortunate enough to think that real estate was a good investment.

But for now, our the three residences have something in common: lovely water views.

spring view of Lake Cecil

Residence #1 (above) – our Lake Cecil, Thomas Township, Michigan home view

view from our Florida Condo

Residence #2 (above) – view of ponds from our Florida living room

view of Lake Michigan from our trailer deck

Residence #3 – view from our old trailer – (above) – looking east as the sun rises over Lake Michigan.


The water view is lovely at all three locations, but a month from now in Michigan the water will have frozen over. There is quite a contrast between the moving, reflective surface of blue water with the stark whiteness of ice (covered by snow). When it freezes over, things become totally still. During Spring, Summer and Fall, the landscape constantly moves and changes. The trees cast shadows, there are reflections, fish jump, geese fly in and out. It’s an ever-changing view. Ice makes it still and unmoving.

Recently we’ve noticed a critter swimming in the lake in front of our Lake Cecil home. He seems to have taken up permanent residency. I snapped this picture of him. We called him “Nessy, our Lake Cecil Lockness Monster.”

Lake Cecil's Monster

We don’t know what he is. He’s not a beaver (tail’s wrong), not a muskrat (wrong size and not the right tail), maybe he’s an otter, or possibly a mink…?? He seems to live in the lake. (He has only been seen in the water.)

I wonder what will happen to our “monster” when the lake freezes over. Personally I don’t like “hard water.” Much more interesting when it’s flowing freely like it is now.

Comments off

Playing music

John and I presented a “lunch and learn” at the historical museum yesterday. I discussed the history of dulcimers especially as the history pertains to Michigan. Today Sub-Strings played for Catholic Federal Credit Union at the Double Tree Hotel in Bay City. We had a group of 25 musicians playing for about 300 diners. We had arrived early and everyone helped us set up the stage (which is no easy task when there are six big hammered dulcimers and lots of musicians with chairs and music stands). Our members enjoyed a lovely lunch in our own dining room prior to our performance.

Tomorrow John and I will play for the Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas House Walk in one of the lovely homes which with be open for touring. We’ll be there from 12:30-2:30. We’ve done this for many years. It’s generally an easy performance.

Next week we have a few commitments – most are non-music playing: John goes to his pulmonologist on Wednesday, his dentist on Thursday and on Saturday we have his family’s Christmas dinner. Our club will play music for Wescourt Senior Residence Sunday, the 13th. Since we leave Monday, December 14th, for Florida, most of next week we’ll be tying up loose ends and packing.

Today’s performance was fun. We played well and some of our audience even gave us a standing ovation. Comments were very favorable!

We have such nice people in our club. It’s like being with your favorite relatives. They are loving and kind. Can’t think of any place I’d have rather been.

Comments off

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