Archive forAugust, 2010

Celebrating our 25th

John and I love a bargain. (Actually we’re pretty much “cheap skates.”)

Going out for an expensive dinner never happens. We do try to dine out weekly, but our idea of a splurge is happy hour at the Moose Lodge followed by a super walleye fish dinner. Total evening cost about $20.

On September 10th we will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I’ve been trying to find something for us to do which would make the evening memorable.

Since we’ve never gone to the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, that came to mind, especially since they often feature star-studded talent. But looking at the restaurants in the casino, I’m not impressed with what’s available. On our anniversary date the only entertainment is “Uncle Groovy.” No kidding, that’s the headline act. And we definitely aren’t gamblers.

The idea of a dinner cruise on Saginaw Bay or down the Cass River (in Frankenmuth) sounded special, but no dinner cruises are scheduled for that evening!

I went back to reviews of special restaurants. In Saginaw, the highest rated restaurant in the area is called Jake’s Old City Grill. We’ve never been there, but it comes highly recommended, has earned five star rating and is “Best of the Best” in this area.

Lucky’s Steakhouse in Bay City has an even better menu and their prices aren’t exorbitant. We’ve heard they are also very good.

We will be going out the next night for my 50th class reunion so that weekend will be calorie packed.

So it looks like we’ll go to either Lucky’s or Jake’s. Once we get to Florida, I’d like to plan a get-together for our friends. I don’t want to announce that it’s an “anniversary celebration” but it would be a good way to convince John that we should host a gathering. So that’s probably what we’ll do.

For an anniversary gift, we will probably buy something for both of us. We’re thinking of a “yard light” and a “front door light.” (When the sidiing went on the garage the lights were removed and discarded.) Or maybe some furniture for our Florida condo. (True, we’d buy that stuff anyway, but it’ll be a good excuse to get it now.) Probably we’ll wait until we make a big “expenditure” and declare it our “gift to ourselves.” As I started out this post, we’re very frugal. (AKA Cheap!)

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Tasting Wine

George and Judy Horny had a bunch of us over tonight for a “wine tasting.” It was a nice evening. We really enjoy getting together with folks and chatting. It’s too bad that we don’t do more of this when we’re in Michigan. In Florida, it happens all the time.

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The reports from the Midland music festival at the Midland Fairgrounds have been very favorable.

John and I are hosting Bill Robinson and his back-up guy, Greg, so Bill can donate his time to the festival. He filled us in on what’s been happening at the festival grounds and his observations have eased our concerns.

When John’s health forced him to retire, I was quoted as saying that, because we had no way to reach many of the attendees, “I would rather see the festival put on hold for a year (during a transition period), than to present an event which was markedly different than the event which Margaret and John had offered.”

But much to the credit of the volunteers, they have successfully preserved what John, Margaret and Bill Kuhlman had accomplished. It appears that most of the festival kept the format which had been set. People who traveled a great distance, weren’t disappointed.

I have heard that the pricing structure was changed (no more one-day admissions), and the elimination of the friendly sales policy which allowed campers to sell their music items from their campsites was a disappointment to many, but all-in-all the reports have been up-beat.

It pleased us to hear that camping numbers are equal to last year’s high numbers. (When folks come back, it’s a good indication that they had a good time last year.)

It has been a tough time for us, especially John and Margaret. We have loved that event! The time we spent building it can be measured in years/decades. We hated to see it be something other than the unique “hammered dulcimer” festival it had been since 1994! (Especially since it was only one of two in the world!) But from all appearances, the hammered dulcimer still reigns. Too bad the name changed!

PS We’ve been hearing that a presentation of some kind of a plaque was planned for Saturday night to the former committee (Margaret, John and myself). Too bad no one let us know.

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Soon I’ll be “Staging”

In 36 days we take off for Florida. No, it won’t take 36 days to pack, but starting Monday I’ll begin by collecting stuff in a “staging area” which we’ll take with us. I’ve already gathered quite a bit together in the basement, but it’s nearly time to put it where I can easily “add to it.” That’s the only way I can be sure I’ll include everything.

Our friends, Wayne and Linda, are even more “detailed” than we are about packing. They were renting a trailer to haul furniture down to Florida so they chalked out an outline on their garage floor and placed what they wanted to take so they could be sure it would “fit” in the alloted space. Of course they had a lot of “big stuff.” For us, it’s a bunch of small items but we don’t want to forget anything.

Yesterday I noticed that John’s “bike battery” is in the trailer. With our luck, he’d bring the bike, but forget the battery.

We have lots of stuff to do around here before we take off: the trailer needs to be winterized, the grapes picked and squished, the sprinkler lines need to be blown out, lawn furniture stowed.

I have completed all the stuff like being sure the mail forwarding both directions is set up correctly, cable TV and internet are scheduled to turn on, the newspaper in Florida will be delivered. We have our motel reservations. The only thing left is to shut the Saginaw newspaper delivery off.

Ok, I’ll admit I’m “anal.” I love planning. To me it brings the whole adventure closer. There is nothing I dislike more than feeling I’ve forgotten something which I should have remembered, so it’s important for me to do the advanced preparation.

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Chilly or Che-lay ?

As for the pronunciation in English of Chile, if you are talking about the ground beef and bean meal, Chile is definitely Chilly.

But when referring to the country, there are more differences. Most people who don’t speak Spanish say it like chilly, but others who do speak Spanish mostly say something more closely approximating Che-lay. For a long time in the USA, Chile, the nation, was generally pronounced “Chilly,” even by radio announcers.

In checking, it seems even those who speak “the language” don’t agree. If you google the pronciation of Chile (the country), you’ll find that, depending on what language you speak, it’s spoken differently.

For me Chile (meal or country) has always been Chilly. But I’ve recently realized that the country, Chile, has various pronunciations. I’m glad those from the country of Chile are forgiving so even to them, it’s fairly unimportant in the over-all scheme of things. I’ll probably still say “Chilly” regardless of my meaning. But when I’m trying to impress someone who “knows,” I’ll go with Che-lay.

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One thing after another..

Today I finally got the “automatic” process to save all of the changes on my computer to my new 2TB Seagate Black Armor hard drive. It’ll run each day at a scheduled time, so I now have a way to “recover” if I ever lose my computer. I felt like I’d crossed a successful hurdle. Everything should have been perfect. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Then this evening I checked in on and my bluehost domain service had totally shut down all the sites I host because of “viruses/malware.” When I called Bluehost, they informed me I’d been hacked again. It’s been a problem since the end of June, as you can see from my June 30th blog post,

I’d kinda figured there was a problem when I spotted “hAcKEr” as a new user name signed up to get into my area this morning.

I’ve erased that whole classified area of the domain. Evenutally I’ll find a way to re-establish a safer classified sales area, but right now I am just relieved to have everything solved.

Apparently it was so clear to Bluehost that they felt they had to “turn everything off” so none of my dozen or so sites worked. Now everything is back up, and hopefully it’ll continue to work fine but maybe, like before, the hacker will have left behiind scripts which will run each day. I’ll keep watching. Meanwhile, the classifieds area is no more, hence the back-door in has been slammed shut! Let’s hope he didn’t leave behinid anything malicious.

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City shorts, capris, bermudas, crops…

my favorite style of shortsOk, if you’re a guy, turn this next discussion off.

I am currently into “city shorts.”

Ok, what am I talking about?

Those long shorts that come just above the knee, and are fairly fitted (usually with a bit of spandex.). They used to be called bermudas, but today’s are a bit less baggy.

I love white ones. I’d wear them year-round if I could find a sufficient number of them. Too often I order them on ebay only to find they aren’t “tapered” enough or they are a tad too long. As I said, they’re very much like bermudas of old, but much more “stylish.” The spandex makes the difference.

The other day I found some by a designer called Josephine Chaus and when I received them, they were nearly perfect (ok, so they need a little tapering but they were the right stretch and length so 2 out of 3 criteria wasn’t bad). I was happy.

I’ve since bid on two more pair by that designer (black and kahki). I won’t know until next weekend if I won them.

Tonight I bought another white pair by Eric Casuals. They are supposedly $98 shorts. They look great. (See photo.) I’ll know in a few days.

It’s awful to have an obsession.

(And it’s so good that my Grandma Brophey’s “rule” of no white over Labor Day doesn’t apply in Florida. I plan to wear these kinds of shorts all the time!! I don’t mind black, but white is always perfect.)

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Wasting time!

Yesterday John was gone from 8:00-5:00 (taking a class at a sportsman’s club). I had the day to myself. I gloried in the thought that I’d have a full day do some heavy cleaning and get to some other long-postponed chores. My to-do list was lengthy. I was sure I’d accomplish a lot; I’d have lots of time to work uninterrupted.

So what did I get done?…. Not much!

I did complete the initial back-up of my computer to my new Black Armor NAS (network) external hard drive, but that happened pretty much on it’s own. I just looked in on it occasionally. In the meanwhile, I used John’s computer and tried to “speed it up.” I got stuck trying to get his mouse to work. It kept failing despite my settings changes and re-boots. And I couldn’t get on-line, but since I rarely use his computer, I thought it was just slow.

It was now about 10:00. I needed to get started with the heavy cleaning, but first I thought I’d check my email and my facebook with my own computer. That’s when I realized I couldn’t get the internet to start up on it either. I tried to figure out what wasn’t working, and why I was having problems. The phone was operational and since it uses the internet, I assumed that meant that the internet was working. So I checked, and rechecked the network.

About noon, after trying different cables and connections, I called Speednet, my wireless internet provider. The service person explained that “part” of their system was down which explained all my problems. They expected it would be fixed but no idea when. I just had to be “patient.”

It was now after noon.

Ok, so I’d wasted about three or four hours. I still had half my day left. I’d have to hurry but I’d still have time for major accomplishments.

I fixed my lunch, started a load of laundry, and began rearranging and cleaning the upstairs. But almost immediately I was faced with a decision.

John has been using the guest room for a music practice location but with the Robinsons coming Thursday, they’d use that room, so I had to move his instruments out. I started moving them into the computer room but realized that area was going to really seem crowded. Maybe it would be better to move the practice area to the balcony room….? I knew John would prefer the computer room but what if the Robinson’s brought along their guitarist? It stopped me. I needed to ask John. I did get the guest room fairly “emptied out” but it really messed up the rest of the up-stairs.

I sure wasn’t getting through my “to-do list” very fast.

It was now 3:00. I spotted a book I’d started a day or two ago. I figured I would read a chapter and then hurry to get more done. I still had two hours to make a dent in my self-imposed assignments.

At 3:30, John got home. I was still reading. (The class had gotten out early.)

My list was barely touched.

This afternoon John will be finishing up his class. It’s scheduled from 1:00-4:00, but I’m not counting on the full three hours.

I hope to finish the upstairs, and/or I can tackle the hot tub room. Or maybe I’ll find another book.

I’m very good at “wasting time.”

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In 44 days we leave…

Boy, am I anxious to head south!

This past weekend we were with our good friends, the Conklins. A couple weeks ago they purchased a condo about a mile from ours (in Sun City Center, FL). This next Monday they’ll hit the road with a trailer full of furniture so they can “move in” to their new place. All our talk about their plans made me anxious (and a tad envious).

John and I have some commitments we agree we must attend in September (a family dinner, my class reunion, a performance, and a meeting), so we will hang around until October, but I’m counting the days until we can leave. I think John will also be more than ready to take off. By October he should have been able to pick his grapes, and maybe even be able to get the leaves off the lawn. One way or the other, we’ll take off then.

This will be the first time we’ve headed south with the plans to stay six continuous months. Leaving October 2nd means we’ll leave when it’s moderately warm. We’ll be there over Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and both of our birthdays. When we come back in April, it’ll be cool, but hopefully past the snow season.

Packing will require a lot of forethought. I will need to think about things like holiday decorations and clothes for multiple seasons.

Since I’m sure we will follow this schedule next year as well, we may as well transfer stuff to Florida permanently. We do more entertaining and partying in Florida so there are a lot of things we can use for those purposes. It’s silly to get to Florida and not have things which would make life easier. Therefore, as I think of things I try to write them down. My list keeps growing.

When we left Florida last April, I had vowed that I’d be able to get by without hauling many clothes back and forth. My plan was to create a wardrobe for Florida and one for Michigan. I’d leave clothes in each location so there wouldn’t be much to pack. But I’m realizing that isn’t such a good plan. If I have fashionable clothes, I want to wear them, before they’re out of style (or I out-grow them). Therefore I’m bringing back a lot of my Michigan summer attire. I’ll even bring a moderately heavy coat (but no snow boots). Last year we had such a frigid January/February in Florida, that I learned that I need some fairly warm outfits and I wore that coat a few times when it was really brutally cold.

In the past, we’d head south in September but we were back in November. I was able to plan for a shorter increment. If I forgot something, it was only two months before I could get it. Of course, last year we did stay from the end of Decmber until mid-April, but we were already well into Michigan’s winter when we drove down, so it was easier to think in terms of that season.

John’s not a planner. It falls totally on me. I make the lists.

So I check and re-check. Everything we take is “my” responsibility.

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I ordered a different back-up drive

new driveI gave up my attempt to use the Seagate GoFlex Home external back-up drive. After nearly two weeks trying to get it to work, I was told by a Seagate customer service rep that I would have to re-install or change my operating service. I decided that wasn’t do-able, so I’m sending it back.

Today I ordered another 2TB hard drive. It’s called a Seagate Black Armor. I’m hoping it’ll be even better for me. I’ll be able to run a total back-up including all files, programs and the operating system. If my system ever dies, I can insert a cd recovery disk and everything can be restored. It’ll also save on an on-going basis.

I got a good price on it. So I’m starting over. I love techie stuff, but not the frustration that it often causes.

Yesterday I spoke with Bill Robinson. He and his lovely wife, Ann, will stay with us starting next Thursday. They’ll leave Sunday early in the day. Most of the time, they’ll be in Midland at the music festival, but hopefully we’ll get to visit a little. He and Ann are genuinely nice folks.

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Another Change of Plans

Today I changed our motel reservations so we can leave for Florida a week earlier. (The first week of October instead of the second.)

The rest of the day was spent trying to get my new Seagate back-up drive to work as it should. It keeps stalling and not starting up. If delete the program completely and reinstall it, it runs fine until I shut the computer down again.

Finally Seagate suggested that I reinstall Vista. That’s a cop out if I ever heard one. It would be a major problem to reinstall my operating system. Each program I run would also have to be installed.

If I can’t get it to work right, I’ll see if I can send it back. I’m still trying a few of my own fixes.

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Back from Gladwin

We had a very nice weekend with good friends. Not all of our Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club members could attend, but we had a nice group. There were six camping units and a bunch who drove in. We arrived at the Gladwin Fairgrounds Thursday and got back home late this afternoon.

The only complaint was the heat. Although we had rain, it didn’t interfere with us in any way, but the heat and the humidity were horrid.

Every time we played, we received lots of positive comments. Audiences were small, but we always drew in folks who stayed to listen.

We played for our lunch Friday (fried chicken) at “the Brook.” Several of us went to a fish fry Friday night. (Very good and cheap!) And the club provided dinner Saturday night (pizza) and a big waffle breakfast Sunday. I think I gained weight over the weekend.

Much of our free time was spent chatting. We started with a Thursday night marathon conversation. Several other occasions, we chatted for long periods. It was fun to get to know our people better.

They’re a great bunch of good friends. Except for the heat and small audiences, we can’t imagine how it could have been better.

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Earlier this week I called Geri, who lives just a condo from us and is one of our Florida friends. During our conversation, she said, “It’s sure hot down here. I’ll bet it’s lovely up there in Michigan.”

And in an email from Sun City Center, Terri said: “It’s terribly hot here right now. I bet the weather in Michigan is perfect.”

They don’t know Michigan. Right now it’s hazy and so humid that our deck furniture is actually dripping and some of the windows were steamy when I got up this morning. The predicted high is 90. And it’ll be so sticky that it’ll make it feel like 100 today. Toward the end of the week, it’ll actually “warm up.”

Yes, Florida is hot but probably the “feels like” temperature is higher here this week. Michigan can be miserable in the summer and this year it has been been excessively hot .. much hotter than normal.

No doubt that “global warming” is reality.

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Perfect Life..

We’re never satisfied.

Life is grand … but (and there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) .. Things could be better.

  • I could be more energetic and could get this house in order and have all my windows clean and shiny.
  • John’s health could be better. It would be wonderful if his lungs could be restored to normal.
  • We could have a greener lawn and fewer bugs and weeds invading our garden.
  • We could see our children (and my grandchildren) more often.
  • My new back-up program/device could be working better (faster).
  • Willow (our sweet dog) could be more comfortable, without the problems of her old-age.
  • Our years of working to build the Midland Dulcimer Festival, could somehow seem valued.
  • The siding could miraculously be installed on our house.
  • We could win the lottery (although our odds aren’t good since we never buy tickets.)

Yes, life would be perfect if only….

But if all of those things were fixed, would we find some new complaints?

Some of those problems (like John’s health) are serious. They are life-altering. But in analyzing even those huge problems, the question simply stated is: “How good is our life?”

We have a great marriage. We are debt free, with two very comfortable and lovely homes plus a place on Lake Michigan. Our vehicles are decent, we have all the toys we need. Our dog is doing better than she should be considering her diagnosis.

The economy may stink but our finances are in order.

Yes, John has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and that’s a frightening diagnosis, but he’s actually doing quite well. He feels pretty good. He’s 72. He’s not a youngster. He still acts like one. He may not be able to do the things that he did 20 years ago, but he’s much healther than most of our friends of similar age.

We have close families and considerate, caring, valued friends.

When it comes right down to it, we are blessed.

No, our life isn’t perfect. It has a freckle or two, but it’s still grand and I wouldn’t want to change places with anyone.

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My wonderful Seagate GoFlex Home back up device is disappointing. It’s been running for two full days and only 42% of my hard drive has been backed up. I tried running it cabled rather than wireless, but I couldn’t tell the difference. Both ways it’s sloooow.

But I’m also concerned about what I see when I look at the stuff that’s been backed up. It doesn’t resemble my hard drive.

And the couple of times I’ve had to shut down my computer, it was really difficult to restart. I worked over an hour yesterday to be able to get my computer to start up again, after I’d shut it down. It caused lots of system errors too. I had to run chkdsk for the second time since installing the back-up system.

I did find one nice feature. I can plug a printer into the device using a usb port, and it works wirelessly. But that’s not enough. I want a smooth seamless back-up system and this one is sluggish, doesn’t work well with my computer system, and the back-up appears unusable.

I wanted to wait until the whole hard drive had backed up before I called and complained, but I’m losing patience.

So here I am frustrated with technology. A common complaint!

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Not worth much

On Monday I set a goal of cleaning out my computer room this week. This afternoon (Friday) I will finish up the job but I wasn’t as thorough as I hoped to be. The clutter isn’t completely gone. I thought I could purge everything and I did toss out a bunch. The garbage was collected this a.m. and there were three huge bags totaling over 100 pounds! But I still have a big box of stuff that I don’t want to toss now. I’m trying to weed through that stuff and hope to eventually eliminate it too, but for now I’m stuck with that one big box.

Some of the items have been posted on the freebie yahoo list ( I was successful getting rid of a midi keyboard that way, but still have a USB four-port hub and a bunch of printer cables (about 13 of them of various configurations), but I’ll keep trying to eliminate more. It’s awful when you can’t even give away your “treasures.”

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Soooooo content with my latest techie gadget

seagate back up driveIf only I’d had it before my computer crash in January 2010. If only I’d had it when I lost everything back in 2008. If only I’d been aware that it existed the other times I had total system failures. Even when my domain was lost, it would have helped.

But it was just released.

I just got my newest techie gadget and it would have saved all those headaches.

It’s a Seagate GoFlex Home two terrabyte storage system. It sits beside my wireless router (upstairs here and in the computer area in Florida). It works WIRELESSLY (using my router). The set-up was a breeze and took under 30 minutes. Right now it’s backing up my laptop’s hard drive and then, whenever I start up my computer, it will automatically run a back-up of any files which have been added or changed.

With two terrabytes of storage, there’s lots of room for storage of all digital photos and videos. I’ll set it up so I can save my digital images. I won’t out-grow it for a long time. I love it!!!

I’m amazed that it’s as compact as it is. Our friend, Paul G., said the only negative he could see was the back-up’s slow speed but since it runs in the back-ground it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to even know it’s running.

I hope I can now I can be “worry-free.” When I have a system crash, or a domain crash (like in March), or a problem with a hacker, I can restore a pure version of the files on my domain or on my computer. I figure that this past year, those kinds of problems cost me at least five to eight 40-hour weeks of restore time. (When I lost everything believe me I was at it 10 hours a day for many days.) Even at minimum wage, I’ll have paid for this $200 device, even if I only use it for standard restores of files I mess up.
I have a feeling it’ll become very popular.


Less Content today:
24 hours later and I’ve only backed up 14% of my files. At this rate, it’ll take me a week of downloading. I am using an ethernet cable, NOT wireless. It ran over night last night. Hopefully eventually I’ll get the first backup done. From then on, it’ll run in the background and won’t be intrusive.

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Now that I’ve started purging the computer room, I’m anxious to get back at it. It sometimes just takes getting started.

After I’ve satisfactorily finished that room, I hope to move to the guest room where I’ll clean out that closet and dressers. Then there’s a cubby hole which has collected junk in the balcony area. I want to rearrange the balcony room. (Give away extra furniture we have crowded in there.) Next the hot tub room needs major attention. My goal is to really rid us of clutter. For now I won’t even think about the clutter in the basement.

My first goal is the computer room. I’m not looking beyond that.

Somehow when you bite off too big of a bite, the overwhelming amount of work, dooms the project. Smaller projects are more easily accomplished. So I’ll only think in terms of one room at a time. When I finish a room, I can feel a sense of satisfaction. This week, it’ll be the computer room. It’s Monday. I will budget my time accordingly. Then the rest of the upstairs. The basement may wait until next spring. Small manageable bites. I don’t want to choke on my goals.

I find myself taking frequent breaks. I can’t see it, but there must be a lot of dust in the air. There’s stuff from the very back of the closet which hasn’t been touched for 24 years. My eyes get itchy and I find it hard to breathe. (Darn those allergies!)

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