Archive forJune, 2010

Still being hacked

I was hacked the first time the evening of June 25th. That night four sites were hit. Every morning since then, a few of my sites have had the Muslim message and arabic chanting. The changes show up here early in the day because I’m sure the offense is happening on the other side of the world.

I have come to the conclusion that my invasion must have been a “time-bomb” type program which was left behind at my website. My reasoning is that I have 13 websites. None have been hacked more than once. I therefore figure the hacker came once and left something that would run through available subdirectories. I’ve put in place all the “protections” but I can only do so much.

I had hoped the nightmare was over since they’d hit all my domains, but this a.m. the message was found on a subdirectory which contained an index html file. That’s a trigger component which can be used on the next tier down.

So now I fear that the hacker will go through all the other subdirectories that have index.html files. Here are all the areas that might be hit:

The first bunch have all been hit (but he could come back.)

1. http://dulcimers.com
2. http://dulcimers.biz
3. http://originaldulcimerplayersclub.org
4. http://sharons-blog.com
5. http://sonasmusic.com
6. http://finniganmusic.com
7. http://deedeetibbits.com
8. http://mhschemics1960.com
9. http://sub-strings.com
10. http://flintbanjoclub.com
11. http://originaldulcimerplayersclub.com
12. http://midlandduulcimerfestival.com
13. http://sharonsdiary.com – a password diary for only me.

Subdirectories with index files:

http://dulcimers.com/audioclips
http://dulcimers.com/Annettesmusic
http://dulcimers.com/dulcimerslist
http://dulcimers.com/buttons
http://dulcimers.com/email
http://dulcimers.com/evart
http://dulcimers.com/fbc
http://dulcimers.com/festival
http://dulcimers.com/Jim_album
http://dulcimers.com/lesraber
http://dulcimers.com/music
http://dulcimers.com/nantucketv
http://dulcimers.com/odpc
http://dulcimers.com/ODPCMembers
http://dulcimers.com/petes09
http://dulcimers.com/photos
http://dulcimers.com/skaryds
http://dulcimers.com/tunes
http://dulcimers.com/workshops

Going down the list to check works great then you hit your back to come back to the list again.

Hopefully folks will help me check out this list and let me know if any are hacked.

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Staging Area

John and I travel often enough to know that it’s easiest to use a “staging area.” The dining room in our house is little used, so I’ve been filling up the table with bedding, toilet tissue, cds, ODPC information, recording equipment, batteries (for the battery operated amps), blankets, sound equipment, software, and lots of items which need to go to our trailer for Evart. I’ve vacuumed and cleaned the trailer, but lots more needs to be done. We will live in our fifth wheel for 12 days.

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Change of plans

We have decided to stay in Michigan until October. We’ll leave for Florida, arriving on the 11th. We will stay straight through until April 11th. (No more extra driving trip back to Michigan in November for a month.)

It’ll save us an extra 2,600 mile trip and the $$$$ that represents. No more driving on winter/snow-covered roads.

This whole back and forth four times has bugged both of us. It’s a relief to have made a decision. I’m sure we’ll have some disappointed club members, but we have to look out for ourselves. It made no sense to drive back to Michigan for a month (mid-November to mid-December) strictly to DONATE our time to play music with friends once or maybe twice. It’s too dangerous on the roads in December!!! (We used to have 7 or 8 performances starting in November, but the economy is so bad hat we’re lucky to play twice during the holidays. It isn’t sensible to drive that far for a benefit concert.)

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What a day! (ankle deep)

John had an idea for a special day today.

We had to do some shopping and then he thought it would be great fun to go to Saint Stanislaus’ polka festival in Bay City. I agreed.

We made a couple stops and then headed to Bay City but as we were driving over, we saw dark clouds forming to the southwest. By the time we’d arrived in Bay City it was pouring. Not gentle raindrops, but buckets. We sat in the car for awhile. When it let up slightly we got out and headed to the huge tent where the event was hosted. Between the parking lot and the tent, the water was ankle deep. By the time got under the cover of the tent, my feet were totally wet.

We sat and listened for awhile, but the kids drove us crazy. They were running around, knocking into us. The rain which had let up, started coming down again harder and harder. We were trapped. There were sheets of water running off the tent and it appeared that the top of the tent was sagging where water had collected. I got really up-tight. I couldn’t relax thinking that the tent could come down at anytime.

When there was a slight break in the rain, we ran for the car. I had taken off my shoes so I was running barefoot, but my slacks got wet about three inches up the leg. It was unbelievable.

We made it back to the car. For me, it was an adventure. John thought of it as a disappointment.

We got back to Saginaw. Did a little more grocery shopping and headed home to a wonderful steak dinner, corn on the cob, oven baked fries with a bit of homemade wine.

The day had been a blast! I loved running through the puddles. I loved being so relaxed and the rain.

No complaints at this end!

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I was HaCkED!

Four of the websites I host on my domain were hacked by a person who called himself Al-GhAmDi. What he posted was a web site for Muslims with Arab singing and guns, etc. (Thank heavens, he just replaced the “index” file, which opens a website, and didn’t replace subdirectories.) It was disappointing to think that I must tolerate the theft of my websites. It’s a form of terrorism. It a challenge. It’s like these people who promote guns and jihad also feel that a 68-year old woman can be a target by stealing her hard work as represented by the websites I create. I have always felt that all religions need to be a “personal” thing, but not when a person steals my website to promote Muslim beliefs complete with guns, etc.

I’m dern MAD!!

Thank heavens folks sent me an email. I had lost control of http://originaldulcimerplayersclub.org,
http://sonasmusic.com, http://finniganmusic.com, and http://deedeetibbits.com. I don’t think it was that way very long. And I was able to quickly restore three of the four. Now all are back working fine, but Dee Dee’s site has lots the most recent update. What a pain!!

I found many similar hacks. Just Google using “Al-GhAmDi hacked.” It’s safe to look at it, but I wouldn’t click on any links.

Surprisingly, as I was looking for other sites hacked by Al-GhAmDi, I found that there are sites that instruct and provide the files. I didn’t bother to look further, but it’s sad.

Note: http://dulcimers.com had been hacked this a.m. Again, it was easy to fix. I am tired of this problem but can’t seem to “plug” the hole. I’ve followed all the instructions Bluehost (my domain provider) has given me. I’ve deleted files, and made sure things are secure. Nothing seems to stop them.

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Getting Close

Our big event of the year is coming up —

On Wednesday, July 7th, we’ll take our trailer and head to Evart, MI, for the world’s largest hammered dulcimer event. We’ll be loaded down with everything imaginable. Since I’m Workshop Chairman, we bring the programs, items for the workshops, chairs for the “hospitality area,” and stuff so John can fix a huge breakfast for anyone who wants to join us one of the mornings. I set up an “office” and a “print shop.” We “live” at the fairgrounds for a week and a half so we bring attire for any weather, two TV sets, food and cooking stuff. It’s like moving. The advantage is that we don’t have to “unpack” when we get home, because our dulcimer club has a camping weekend in August.

The trailer needs to be prepared. It’s filthy with winter grime. I’ll get busy next week and get it ready.

This afternoon I need to take the workshop program to the print shop. It’s a huge job, and with the Fourth of July coming up, they wanted it by Monday, but it was better for us to drop it off today. We’ll pick it up on the 6th of July and head to Evart, on the 7th.

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Too Comfortable

While we’re in Michigan, we are isolated home-bodies. Therefore I find I “dress-down.”

And folks around here don’t “drop in.” Since no one will be seeing me, it seems there’s no reason to put on make-up, fuss with my hair, or dress carefully.

I know I shouldn’t be that way. The person I want to impress more than anyone is John. He sees me at my worst all the time. Sure we go places (and I clean up nicely), but here in Michigan, unless we leave the house, we can go for weeks without anyone else around us.

We’re in a nice neighborhood, but we know no one. I know the neighborhood isn’t going to change. We’ve lived here for 24 years. We’ve tried approaching folks in the past, but we’re just not at the same point in our lives. We have accepted that.

Knowing we won’t be seeing anyone, I tend to get pretty lazy about how I look. So does he.

Because folks drop in all the time when we’re in Florida, I am much fussier about how I dress, about how the house looks. I wouldn’t dream of not putting on make-up (in part because it contains SPF 30 sun screen and I know I’ll be in the sun.) I’m a different person. I love the “drop-in” Florida attitude and the friends we see frequently when we’re at our Kings Point condo. Down there we are all in the same boat. Most folks are back and forth between their southern homes and a place up-north. We compress friendships into a six-month format and they seem to be more intense.

I feel better when I’m in Florida: younger, more attractive, and more energetic. I don’t know how to turn the situation around so I feel better about myself here in Michigan. This isn’t the way I want to be.

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One trip or two? (2,600 miles or 5,200 miles?)

We’re trying to decide what we should do regarding our return trip to Florida.

For the past half dozen years, we’ve gone back and forth between Michigan and Florida multiple times each year. Most years we arrived in Florida in mid-September, but we’ve always returned to Michigan from November until about mid-December so we could lead our club in a lot of Christmas performances around the Saginaw area beginning in mid-November and usually wrapping up the week before Christmas. We also able to attend the Skaryd Christmas dinner.

We genuinely care about our club members and it has seemed important to be in Michigan for them. Two years ago we had about about a half dozen holiday performances for the club and two or three for John and me (by ourselves). Last year we had half that number. At this point we’ve made ONE playing promise in Michigan and the November event has been cancelled. We may have only the one. (Who knows, with the economy?!!)

Until last year, we also made a trip back from Florida in January so we could put on “Snowfest” in Frankenmuth, MI (sometimes only staying a week or two). That’s one event we’ve passed on but prior to giving up that date, we had to make yet another trip back in January!

Last year John was ill so we didn’t make the fall trip to Florida, and instead went down about a week before Christmas and stayed until mid-April.

Currently our plans are to return to Florida, leaving Michigan on September 12th. We’ll come back north (for a month) on November 15th until December 17th. We’ll stay in Florida until mid-April.

We’ve been thinking about changing our plans. Instead of two round trips, we might be wiser to stay in Michigan until early October and then go down to Florida and stay put until mid-April. It would be a cost savings of close to $500 for the extra round trip, not to mention that we’d avoid the risk of being on the highways all those extra miles (especially if we travel in December when the weather can be bad).

Changing our plans requires more than just motel revisions. We will have multiple changes in doctor, dental and beauty shop appointments. And we have already made one performance commitment in Saginaw for our dulcimer club on the 12th of December. The Skaryd family Christmas dinner would definitely be missed. We will need to make a decision soon.

Wish we could be two places.

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A special dress

You celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary and your 50th high school class reunion only once so, if you’re a lady, those events require the right dress. On September 10th, we’ll be celebrating our silver wedding anniversary, and the next night (September 11th) is my 50th class reunion. I’m their webmaster: Midland High School Chemics, class of 1960!

I have been looking for something which would work for me. The class reunion invitation says “casual dress” but I’m not an overly casual person, yet I want something appropriate.

little black dress
I ordered a dress the other day from Bealls, my favorite Florida store. It arrived yesterday and I love it but John commented that I could be pregnant and no one would know.

little black with polka dot areas dressWhen I had placed the order, I’d actually preferred another dress but it was “out-of-stock.” Yesterday, when I checked back, it was available, so I also ordered the dress shown on the right. Both are cute and look like they’ll be comfy.

The second dress is a little flashier. After a “facebook discussion” with girl friend, Gwyn, I decided to splurge on the second one too. When it comes I can make the decision to either keep both or return one. (I know for certain that I’m keeping number one.)

I remember when my mother had her 50th class reunion. I envisioned a bunch of really old people. Definitely none of the ladies would be brazen enough to wear either of the dresses! The one is “above the knee” and the other is even sexier. My friends commented: “You go, Girl!”

Note: The second dress came and the print in the panels wasn’t just little dots. I was disappointed. I can return in when I get back to Florida.

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The Humble Hideaway near Manistique, MI

In the past, I’ve posted photos of our Florida condo and our home in Michigan. I’ve never shown our place in the U.P. of Michigan.

Last week when we were there, I took a few photos:

the interior of our 55 x 12 foot, 1960's house trailer
The “great room” (ha!) of our 55 x 12 foot, 1960’s house trailer.

view from the deck
We do have a view of Lake Michigan. Swans are sure pretty. We have never seen swans there before this year.

That’s our place. Certainly not fancy. It consists of living room, kitchen area, small guest room, bath room (with storage), and a carpeted master bedroom. Across the front it has a 20 x 10 deck. If you’re interested, we’re thinking of selling. We just don’t get to use in often enough and when we do go, it’s too much work for John.

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Just one of those days…

John was discouraged today. He’s been doing his vinyl cedar shake siding project for several weeks. What he’s accomplished looks great. He started in September 2009. The one elevation on the west end of our house was nearly complete. He ended up in the hospital, wasn’t well enough to continue and didn’t get back to it until a few weeks ago.

He’s been working on the front of the garage which looks great. Today he was working on the side of the garage that folks “walk past” to get to our front door. He was making decent strides when he realized that the front of the garage and this side, must tie in together. When he did the front, he’d found the front wasn’t straight. The distance between the ground and the eves slanted so there was more height on the left side. John adjusted, making sure the left side was gradually higher.

What he forgot was that he should have also adjusted the side he’s currently working on so it would “match” the front. Instead he kept the siding level and by the time he got to the eves, the siding didn’t match up with the front. The “corner pieces” wouldn’t work. They needed to snap into place. The claps which hook on the siding wouldn’t work. He’s going to have to rip off much of the side and adjust it as he did on the front.

It was many hours of work that he’ll have to re-do.

About 4:00 p.m. we decided that it was wise to put it aside. We’d to go to town.

Willow needed a re-fill on a prescription. Friday we’d tried to pick up a three-month prescription re-fill (90 pills) but Walmart’s pharmacy didn’t have enough to complete the 90-day supply. They sold us three pills to tide us over, and asked us to come back. We returned today to get the other 87 pills of his three-month supply. The total three month prescription should have cost $10. We had paid $.54 for the three ($.18 a piece) on Friday. We knew that was an over-charge, but we expected that we’d pay $9.46 for the remainder of the three-month supply. Instead we were charged $.18 times 87 pills or $15.66. John complained.

The clerk recognized that there’d been a mistake. No problem. Our charge would be adjusted to the correct price: $10 total. The $6.20 over-charge ended up costing us about an hour of our time. Goof after goof. After about 45 minutes they produced a new charge slip for $10. The clerk realized it still wasn’t right, so she tried again. About a half hour later, I said, “Just charge us the $10 for three-months (forget that we already paid $.54), and we’ll be happy.” It still took another 15 minutes (at least.) In the end, we paid $10 today (plus the $.54 Friday) for the three month prescription. We were over-charged by $.54 but I was glad to get out of the store. It had taken well over an hour!!

We left Walmart and went to the local Moose lodge to enjoy an advertised “all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner.” For some unknown reason, the dinner was cancelled. No spaghetti. We ended up enjoying a happy-hour beer and grilled burger and fries. Spaghetti will happen tomorrow.

Maybe we should just forget today.

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What websites do I “visit” daily .. or even more often?

John says I’m addicted to the internet. I do find it an educational and informational tool.

What sites to I visit frequently, usually at least daily (sometimes more often than that)?

Obviously I return to this site (sharons-blog.com) and http://dulcimers.com, http://dulcimers.biz and my other websites. I am always re-checking content for errors, and making sure everything is up and running. I also check the “guest book” comments and make sure no entries to the “classified” section (on dulcimers.biz) need approval.

I also check in to my two banks (Florida and Michigan) and my credit card account to make sure that everything is reconciled. I keep a running total on a spread sheet on my computer so I always know where we stand financially, and when payments are being made. I stay current on everything every day. I use auto-payments whenever possible and shuffle money so it always earns the highest interest rate.

After finances, I check the weather a lot! Knowing that it’s rainy or hot in Florida, makes me feel more connected with our “other home.” My favorite weather sites are: accuweather.com and wunderground.com. Accuweather is great for forecasts up to 10 days into the future, and wunderground gives you live satellite and radar images with “wundermaps.”

I’m also the moderator of the “harplist” which is the largest email list of harp players. Since all subscriptions to that list must be “approved,” I usually check the website for the harplist to make sure there’s no one waiting to become a member.

For checking on what my “friends” are doing, I head to facebook. (I don’t do twitter).

And frequently I’ll check out items for sale on ebay. Usually I have something I’m “watching.” (Admittedly I’m often bidding on something.)

When I’m bored, there’s always You Tube and if I’m in a game-playing mood I will sometimes go to yahoo’s game area and play “Bookworm”.

I also love staying “current” on what’s happening in our Florida community. Kings’ Point Activites are available on line if you scroll down the page. (The complete Kings Point Newsletter called “The Pointer.”) When we’re in Florida, I’ll frequently check what’s happening at Busch Gardens so we don’t miss a great “show.” And there’s the Sun City Observer, the weekly publication.

I am always watching for “the perfect condo” in Kings Point, our Florida gated-community. The ideal residence for us may be the one we have now, but we know that in order to be completely content with our place, there are several projects which will be costly. We may be better off selling our current unit and buying one which already has tile or laminate on the floor, better windows, and an up-graded kitchen. I check out what’s available at http://www.suncityflorida.net/. That’s the website of Trudy Province, our realtor. It’s fun to look at the videos of the lovely places. (I do a search within “Hillsborough County/Sun City Center.” I limit my search to offerings in a “gated community” which gives me only Kings Point places, and usually look at only those over 1,400 sq. ft. I can also restrict to a certain price range.)

When there’s a news-type crisis, national or local, I will generally google the topic, and try to find information, but those sources vary, depending on the topic.

So that’s what I watch for every day. I love the internet. I’ve been involved with it since the mid-1990’s when it went from a way of linking universities to being a way of staying in touch with friends and learning about the world.

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Points to Ponder..

If an atheist has to go to court, do they make him swear on the Bible?
Why is it illegal to park in a handicapped parking space but its ok to use a handicapped toilet?
How come you play at a recital, but recite at a play?
If a fork were made of gold would it still be considered silverware?
If heat rises, then shouldn’t hell be cold?
Why can’t you get a tan on your palms?
How come popcorn isn’t a vegetable?
Once you’re in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?
If Sunday is the holy day of rest why do we have to get up early for church?
When you snap your fingers, does the sound occur when your middle finger releases from your thumb, or when your middle finger hits the palm of your hand?
Why are you IN a movie, but your ON TV?
If you don’t pay your exorcist, do you get repossessed?
Why is Bra singular and Panties plural?
What are those little things on the end of your shoelaces called? (Answer: They’re called aglets.)
How can someone be dirt poor, and another be filthy rich?
When you put ‘THE’ and ‘IRS’ together, it forms ‘THEIRS’. Coincidence? I think not?
Isn’t it scary that the word “therapist” is the same as the words “the” and “rapist” put together?
Do sheep get static cling when they rub against one another?
Why do people say heads up when you should duck?
Why did Superman wear his briefs on the outside of his tights?
Why do they call it your “bottom”, when it’s really in the middle of your body?
Why do British people never sound British when they sing?
Why is it called a TV set when there is only one?
If it’s zero degrees outside today and it’s supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
If you mated a bull dog and a shitsu, would it be called a bullshit?
Why are they called stairs inside but steps outside?
Why is it that rain drops but snow falls?
Why is the third hand on the watch called second hand?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why is an elevator still called an elevator even when its going down?
Why is an electrical outlet called an outlet when you plug things into it? Shouldn’t it be called an inlet.
If love is blind, how can we believe in love at first sight?

Credit should be given to http://www.goodquotes.com/funnythoughts.htm

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Muggy Michigan

Michigan’s hot summer humidity can be hard to endure and today is one of those “off-the-chart” humid days. Temperature right now is only 77 but the it’s hard to breathe.

It’s supposed to get to nearly 90 this afternoon, which will make it even more unbearable.

I’m trying to tidy up the place. We seem to always be unpacking or packing. Clothes are always going in and out of our place.

In about twenty-five days we’ll head to the huge dulcimer festival in Evart, MI, which means we’ll “move into our fifth-wheel” and live in it for nearly two weeks.

I’ve been working on the Evart (ODPC) workshop program. It’s coming together, but still needs some tweaking.

I have just made the “workshops” available for folks to check out. You too can find them at:

Dulcimer Festival Workshops

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Trying to Catch-Up

Today I have tried hard to catch up on all the things, which piled up while we were in the U.P.

Email crammed my mailbox. (600+ messages.) A lot of those messages were from folks wanting to attend the Evart Funfest. Questions like: Can I be on stage? Can I reserve a campsite? When will the workshop program be available?

I also had to up-date the stuff I’m doing for the Midland High School class of 1960’s 50th Class Reunion, and revise that website.

One thing after another.

Bank accounts to be reconciled.

But finally I feel I’m up-to-speed.

Tomorrow I’d love to enjoy some out-side time.

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Couldn’t post to my blog but I wrote anyway

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We’re here at our place west of Manistique on Lake Michigan.

We arrived about 4:00. Lovely weather… mid-70’s.

A pair of white swans were in the water in front of our place. Lovely!

I should explain that the place is a 1960’s 50 x 12 mobile home. It is sufficient for our needs: two small bedrooms, a kitchen-living room and a bathroom with full sized tub and shower. We added on an extra pole-barn-style roof a few years ago. We had it off-set it in such a way that we could add a large deck toward the water. The raised deck is about 10 x 24 with a fabulous Lake Michigan view.

We hadn’t been here since August, 2008, so we didn’t know what to expect. Surprisingly, the place was in remarkably good condition for having been vacant so long. Dusty and dirty.. yes!

We spent several hours making it habitable, but other than dust and a musty smell, it was fine. Dead flies and lady bugs in the windows, and a few (but not many) mouse droppings. We swept, scrubbed and dusted. It still could stand lots more cleaning but we’ll get by.

A clean mattress pad, clean bedding on the bed and clean dishes make the place feel acceptable.

We forgot a few things (a vacuum cleaner, small electric heater, some folding lawn chairs, the outdoor carpet we use on the deck, dish cloths and some extra cleaning products) but we’ll get by.

The beach is down a path about 150 ft from the deck. The water looks a lot better than it did a couple years ago. Smelly seaweed has washed up at the waters edge, but this year the cattails are fewer and the water looked clear and inviting.

The tall grasses had grown in the pathway we take to the beach. By the time we got back, we were liberally covered with wood ticks. We hate ‘em. They are ugly parasites that seem to be waiting to latch onto you. They don’t immediately burrow under your skin, but they do settle in after a few hours and leave ugly infection if you don’t get them off you. They’re about 1/8 inch around with lots of legs, sort of dark reddish brown.

I wore white long pants so I could spot them easily and sure enough there were dozens on me. I removed my slacks and turned them inside out. One of the wood ticks had managed to work his way up to the highest point of where the legs joined. This was in five minutes or less and while I was wearing them!

We looked each over and found all that we had dozens of the crawly critters.

This is not my idea of a good time.

Tomorrow and for the next couple of days it’s supposed to rainy and cool. Monday it should be fairly nice.

Oh, and to top things off, we have no TV and my internet connection isn’t working. (I didn’t expect that it would.) Oh, well…

Tonight we enjoyed a glass of wine and danced to a country tune playing on the radio. Life could be lots worse, but I wish we were home.

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Saturday, June 5th

We went into town yesterday. Stopped at a couple re-sale shops. I bought a lot of books for later reading and a folding umbrella (which I immediatly put to use because it was pouring outside.) We also got a coffee maker. On our way back, we stopped at the Moose Lodge for an excellent dinner.

It was cold tonight (as was last night) so we headed to bed early.

Today it’s semi-sunny and a little warmer (low 60’s). John’s been trying to mow the grass. It’s a large area. He used his chain saw and cut up a tree which had come down where we often park. The driveway still needs to be cleared but the place looks surprisingly good.

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Monday, June 7th – 9:30 p.m.

We’ve decided that we’ll head home Wednesday. Today it was in the low to mid-60’s, tomorrow it should be a tad warmer. We figure that we will leave Wednesday because there’s a rain front moving in for Wednesday, plus we have an appointment on Thursday.

I’m listening to John play “Take Five” in 5/4 time. It’s not an easy jazzy tune to play on any instrument. John’s playing it on sax.

Sax is not his primary instrument.

Why is he struggling to play “Take Five”? Because it’s a good exercise for his deteriorating lungs. When you have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, you do what you can to help your lungs. John’s efforts include playing the sax

He’s made this place look very nice. He’s mowed, trimmed, and even painted. We called a realtor today about selling this place. I don’t know what we’ll do. It’s not the best time to sell, but we should divest ourselves of some of our property. It’s too much work!

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Wednesday, June 9th – 11:15 a.m.

We’re headed home. Still in the Upper Peninsula. We should make it home by 4:00 or so this afternoon.

The weather during our stay hasn’t been very pleasant. The first day we had temps in the 70’s and that was grand, but since then, we haven’t gotten past the mid-60’s. Nights were in the 40’s (although one night it was near freezing).

Yesterday the sun was out, so I decided to go for a walk. I walked toward the lake, then went parallel to the shoreline in a southerly direction. I was curious about a couple lovely lovely places which have been built within the past five or so years. One is landscaped with a rolling lawn. I decided to cut through their yard, go up their driveway, and then take the road back to our place (so I went in a circle). But when I cut through from the beach area to their yard, I had to go through a fairly tightly packed row of spruce trees. I looked down at my legs and saw I was “covered” with wood ticks. Dozens had hopped on me. It took a while to pick them all off and continue on my way back to our place. Once home, I gave myself a total inspection and discovered another tick. A couple hours later, I was combing my hair and realized I had a couple that had gotten in my hair!

That experience left me feeling “crawly.” I still have the sensation that something is on me. Can’t wait to get home so I can wash my hair and rid myself of the phantom feeling of “bugs.”

No, it hasn’t been a wonderful trip. John loves it in the wilderness, but it’s not my idea of fun. Staying on the deck and looking at the water from a distance was the most pleasant part of the visit. Each time I walked to the beach meant I picked up ticks.

I became a fan of Dr. Laura, who did a talk radio show each morning.

I’ll be glad to get back to civilization where I can check my email.

But during our stay, I did accomplish quite a bit: I was able to type pages 2-11 of the dulcimer festival’s workshop program. I still need to finish up the back and front covers of the program, but that’s easy compared to what I’ve already done.

Last night we went to bed early (about 10:00). A storm with a heavy wind and a lot of rain hit us from about 10:30 until about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. It blew so hard, that it was difficult to “shut out the noise” and sleep. Everything was really wet this morning so it made packing the truck for home a little more difficult.

So we’re headed back to “civilization.” It’ll be nice to be “home.”

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Me at nine months

me at 9 months

My dad did this sketch of me when I was nine months old. I found the original in my baby book.

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Brother Jim, our not so new, but still a remarkable story!

My newly discovered brother, Jim, contacted me yesterday. (Actually he’s not all that new now, because I found him five years ago.)

He finally got himself a new computer so he can get back to emailing me again. I hadn’t heard much from him since January, 2009, when he gave up on his old desktop. Email works great between us. It’s less intrusive than a phone call. (Although I have called him a few times when the space between our contacts went too long.) But now we can get back to email exchanges every few days.

Let me explain, for anyone who is new to Sharon’s Blog, that Jim, my half-brother, was totally unknown to me until I accessed my mother’s medical records. She had alzheimers and I had her power of attorney and spoke for her medically. In 2005, I discovered that my mother had told her physician she had three children: me (the oldest) and my brother Denny (1949), but also she claimed there was another child who was born in 1946. I didn’t know about Jim, but with the help of my aunt, I found Jim. He lives only about 6 to 10 miles from me.

The story is all posted here: Family Matters (“My New” Brother Jim) which is always in the menu to the right on Sharon’s Blog.

I successfully located Jim my totally-unknown-to-me-brother on March 20, 2005, but after the initial contact, it took until February 2006, before Jim got back to me.

During that time, Jim had become totally blind. He was dealing with all that and multiple surgeries to try to save his sight. It didn’t work. He never saw me.

We have a nice relationship. He has been here, he’s come to our concerts, festivals, and even my mother’s family’s annual family reunion. In September, 2008, when Mom died, he was “our” mother’s funeral beside me and my other brother, Denny.

I genuinely adore him and his family.

He has a leader dog, Jake, and he does pretty darned good although his vision is almost totally gone. I’m proud of his independence, as only an older sister would be.

Jim is a sweetheart but I am also glad to have found his lovely family.

Louise, his wife is someone I’d enjoy even if I just met her casually. Ideally I’d like it if she and I could be BFFs, but she’s a busy working woman. She works for the eye practice where both John and I have our optical services done. She’s the kind of person I find myself really attracted to. She’s genuine, bubbly, and warm. What a treasure!

Jim has three children: Emily is his older daughter and works at Dow in Midland. She married Chris a couple of years ago and we were at the wedding. Last year they had, Will, who is the family’s pride and Joy. Will REIGNS but it’s fitting. He’s a beautiful boy-child.

Abbie is a grade school teacher in Georgia. And there’s Eric who has a nice girlfriend. Eric’s a wonderful cook!!

That’s the family I found. What a wonderful discovery.

But this past year I’ve rarely heard from Jim, so it was nice to get a casual “HI BIG SIS” message yesterday. With a new computer, I hope he’ll stay in touch. He always signs his emails… LVLBJ and Jake. (Love, little brother Jim.)

I’m so blessed to have found this wonderful addition to my family. It was a miracle. I couldn’t have picked a better addition(s) to my family. I only wish I’d grown up knowing him.

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