Archive forSeptember, 2010

Drip Dry

Our problem: Our clothes washer decided to die while I was doing final, before-we-leave laundry. It’s ancient (at least 40-years old) and has served us well, but why now??!! It won’t spin the water out of the clothes. Our choices seemed to be: pack up wet clothes and re-wash them when we get to Florida, haul the whole wet load to a laundrymat and spend the afternoon there, or go buy a new washer.

But together we handled the problem.. Yes, it’s a temporary fix.

The clothes are drip-drying in the garage. We siphoned the water from the washer. They’ll go in the drier when they’re not so wet. (All will need to be rewashed anyway.) We’ll take any that we need to Florida as they are and wash them down there.

In April, first thing we’ll do when we get home is buy a new washer AND dryer. Since the old harvest gold set has lasted for more than 40 years, they deserve retirement.

Wonder what currently sold washer/dryer set will last 40 years. We’ll be in the market in April.

Come to think of it, if the new one lasts 40+ years, I’ll be 109 and John will be 113. Maybe 25 or 30 years will be a sufficient warranty.

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I saw a saying:

“I can’t promise I’ll love you for the rest of your life, but I can promise that I’ll love you for the rest of mine.”

My sweet husband, John’s, illness is frightening. There’s no cure. He’s doing well, but his condition could worsen at any time. Sadly, the statistics would indicate that I’ll lose him at some point. It doesn’t help that he’s older then me and a male. (He’s 72 and I’m 68 and he has what is considered a terminal illness.)

The above saying really “hit home.” I’ll love him for the rest of my life. But sadly he can’t promise that he’ll love me for the rest of mine.

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Hurry Scurry

view from our condoHere’s the view which awaits us from our condo.

Today we were hustling around finishing up a slew of appointments. John went to his doctor, stopped by our investment counselor and attorney, went shopping, picked up John’s new glasses, and got a chest x-ray. We were on a strict schedule. Everything fit together, but he did have to schedule blood work and a breathing test for tomorrow.

Additionally tomorrow we have the closing on the farm. (We sold it to a neighbor.)

We’ve set aside Thursday and Friday to pack the truck and mow the lawn again.

It’s all exhausting, but we’ll be able to relax when we get to Florida.

It’s good that we no longer have to worry about our house staying safe. Paying for a “security system” seems like a good peace of mind investment.

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Lost my “calendar”

Last night I clicked on my desktop icon to bring up my “Palm Desktop” program. That’s the place where I record all of our appointments. It opened but it was EMPTY. Instead of the full calendar pages I expected to see, everything was gone. The calendar was totally blank.

I put EVERYTHING we do on our calendar. Our lives are controlled by it. I was shaking and there was this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I thought of what it would take to recreate our schedules. (Doctor appointments, dental appointments, beauty shop, birthdays, etc., it’s all on my computer in that program.)

Since I’ve been faithfully backing up my computer to my new two terrabyte hard drive, there was hope. My fear was that the program wouldn’t accept the back-up data, but with nothing to lose, and my fingers crossed, I went to the back-up hard drive and found the directory where my Palm program was stored. There was a version of the Calendar database which had been created Friday (less than 24 hours previously). I copied from the back-up to my C: drive.

IT WORKED! The back-up saved the day.

The Seagate two terrabyte hard drive…. $206. Restoring our calendar…. PRICELESS!

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Pool People

A week from right now we hope to be somewhere south of London, KY, on our way to Florida. On Saturday, we’ll drive about 500 miles. We’ll have dinner at John’s restaurant of choice, Cracker Barrel. Sunday we’ll go 535 more miles and overnight in Valdosta, GA. On Monday, we’ll complete our trip and hopefully reach our destination shortly after noon. We’ll have driven 1,300 miles from our home in Saginaw. The sun will be shining, and we’ll be anxious to head to the pool. While floating on a “noodle,” we’ll find out what our Florida friends have been doing since we last saw them (in April).
In the pool

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Walmart Marketing in Florida

Somewhere, somehow, someone decided that Halloween stuff should come out as soon as possible after Labor Day is past. And then immediately following Halloween (sometimes even before) Christmas merchandise goes up. (What happened to the old adage of starting the Christmas season with Thanksgiving?)

walmart logoApparently in Walmarts, the pattern of marketing extends uniformly through all the states. You’ll find the same stuff in Florida that’s sold in Michigan at the same time of the year. Yes, Florida residents think in terms of “seasons” just as they do up-north, and when you’re talking about pumpkins and Christmas trees, it makes sense.

But the seasonal merchandising extends to a lot of items which have nothing to do with holidays. Think of the stuff you buy in the summer when you’re heading to the beach. And what about grills for cooking outside, and lawn furniture? Those items are also “seasonal.” Apparently the rules are uniform. Cold weather items are stocked from the fall through the winter. Warm/hot weather stuff in spring and summer.

Here’s the problem: We need those beach items in Florida year-round.

Wouldn’t you think that someone would figure that out?

When folks vacation in Florida, they are often looking for warm weather items? Especially with the additional restrictions on airline baggage, folks will be “traveling light.” With these baggage restrictions, there will be more folks who will expect to purchase what they need when they arrive in Florida.

Several years ago, we arrived in Florida in September, as many snowbirds do. I wanted to buy additional beach towels for guests who were scheduled to arrive during the winter months. Walmart, where I’d generally shop for towels (because theirs are big, thick and fluffy), had absolutely none and I was told I had missed the season for beach towels by about six months. Same was true of “pool noodles” and “beach umbrellas.” But just before we (and all the other snowbirds) left for home in March, they brought out the next season’s supply.

I asked a clerk and she said that it’s always that way. Beach stuff is considered seasonal, and it’s therefore only sold starting in the early spring. Yard items are put away until about April. She said, “Hope you never want to buy any lawn furniture in December. We don’t stock outdoor items during the winter months.” Yet Florida boasts year-round nice weather.

The heaviest influx of snowbirds is in January, February and March. The population of many areas doubles or quadruples. Wouldn’t you think that these prospective buyers would be recognized by Walmart and they’d make it possible for these folks do their shopping at Walmart for a beach towel, a beach bag, or a sun umbrella? Nope.

But if you want a heavy winter coat, the Florida Walmarts carry them in December. I’ve even seen mittens and scarves and I’ll bet you could buy a snow shovel at a Florida Walmart, but no beach items. Go figure!

In our destination community in Florida, there is a Bealls department store. They get it. They cater to the Florida lifestyle and you can always buy shorts, bathing suits, and other beach attire. You’d think that Florida Walmarts would also catch on.

(Note: I should revise this critical report. I checked on February 5th, 2011, and found that Walmart has just re-stocked outdoor grills and they even had a few “pool noodles.” This is the first time they’ve been in stock this early. Maybe they’re learning.)

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Willow, the Wonder Dog

Willow, the Wonder Dog
I think Willow is part Energizer Bunny. She just “keeps on going.”

Back about three years ago, Willow was diagnosed with a major heart problem and started on diuretics and heart meds. We were told we’d be lucky to have her for two years.

On December 22nd, 2009, she had a really bad spell and it was suggested to us that we “let her go.” But with lots of gentle care she rallied and within a few weeks was doing much better. She had another serious problem this Spring when she couldn’t stop coughing, but increasing her meds got her over that hurdle. (We’ve since reduced them back to a lower level because, once she got over her cough, she appeared over-medicated.)

Admittedly I keep fearing that soon we’ll lose her. She’s so fragile and at this point nearly incontinent. It’s difficult. She’s only allowed on vinyl floors unless we’re watching her closely.

Last Spring, when we brought her back from Florida, we didn’t expect her to make it through the summer. Now here it is time for us to return to Florida and she’s still with us. We’ll take her back to Florida again. I know the trip be hard on all of us. She doesn’t walk well but at least she’s small and we can contain her on plastic sheeting so she won’t soil the carpet in the motel. It’s the ride which worries me. She’s uncomfortable so she is more demanding. I’ll keep a water cup and banana chips handy so I can keep her happy, but it’s not easy and it wears on all of us. Three days and 1,300 miles will be tough.

At least we don’t feel she’s suffering. When that happens, we will have to make a hard decision.

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Is it here? Is it there? Who knows?

In my last post I mentioned that I can’t find my large suitcase so I must have left it in Florida. My gray duffle bag is also missing.

We got back from Florida in April. It’s now been six months and we’re re-packing for our return trip. What we left in Florida is now a faint memory.

Six months is just a tad too long to recall what you did with things. I remember some stuff, but usually written lists save me. And photos. Yup, I take photos of the inside of our refrigerator, our pantry and our closets, but I don’t see the suitcase nor the duffle bag, so I’ll just have to assume that, if I can’t find them here, those things are in Florida. I guess I can survive without them, if I’m wrong.

Why can’t I be certain?

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Packing for Florida

I think I left my large suitcase in Florida so I’m using plastic “bins” to pack all my clothes and other items.

We have less than two weeks before we “take off” so I’m packing in ernest.

I’m notorious for my “lists.” I have a detailed packing list which keeps growing.

Yesterday in my first bin, I started packing a bunch of new sweaters and bathing suits (including the ones I bought in May), some dressy stuff, and several pairs of shorts. Today I started with another bin and crammed in more shorts, camisoles, more dressy dresses, and started a heavy gauge clear plastic bag of just sandals/shoes. I am also working on a bin of techie stuff. I need to bring a winter coat (in case it’s cold again in Florida or cold when we drive back in April). John is bringing back his bicycle, and his oxygen generator. I sure hope we can fit it all in.

The stuff I’m packing is all “extra.” I have enough clothes and other items to “get by” even if I don’t bring anything back from Michigan to Florida. This will be the very first year we’ve stayed for six continuous months so leaving winter stuff up north won’t serve much purpose. And despite my previous plan to leave everything in place in Florida and in Michigan and not move clothes back and forth, I’m finding that doesn’t work. Things go out of style too fast and I’m always missing what I left behind. So I’m hauling stuff back that I brought to wear this summer in Michigan.

My packing list has therefore expanded. It also now includes Christmas and Halloween decorations (although this year we’ll be back in Michigan in time for Easter). I think I’ll even toss in extra table service in case we host a large party. No sense doing without when you have it at the other “location.”

It’s a challenge. Half of my yearly life is now spent down south and those six months are the most active. I need ball gowns, bathing suits, and all my cute outfits down there. I really don’t need much here in Michigan.

So I’m packing and packing and packing. The “staging area” in the dining room is a mess. But my closet is nearly empty and I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

John doesn’t prep at all. Of course, I’m the one he blames if WE forget anything, so it’s really on my shoulders to get everything ready to go. Everything from the mail scale to an outdoor thermometer, and all our camera and recording equipment goes with us. We’ll be performing so we’ll need mics. We’ll be there over St. Patty’s day so we’ll need our green garb, and on and on. So much.

Maybe we should bring along our 5th wheel so we’ll have more room to pack stuff in. I can’t imagine how we’ll get it all in our truck.

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Should we “upgrade”?

two-story condo with music room on balconyWe’re tempted to buy a different condo when we get to Florida. Of course, we should look at it before we decide and we’ve only seen photos. But before we bought our current condo, we had looked at what was available and we both felt the perfect condo for us would be a two-story model with a room over-looking the living room which we could use for a music room. The two-story units were totally out of our price-range, when we were looking, but there’s one available now with a decent view that might be affordable. Since we toured many units with that layout, we know what to expect. The balcony has a FULL bathroom instead of the usual 1/2 bath. There’s also a lovely screened balcony room.

The best improvement would be the master bathroom. John hates our current condo’s bath because it’s small. This one would have a master bath with lots of room with two vanities, a garden tub and a large walk in shower. There are also two walk-in closets in the master bedroom area. There’s also a lovely bay window (sitting area) at the end of that bedroom. Our living current living room is probably about the same size. The kitchen in the two-story has a breakfast room (eating area) and twice as many cabinets. There is a room which is currently being used as an office which could be restored to a utility room, or there is room in the garage for a washer/dryer. The dining room is open and spacious. The second bedroom and bathroom nice. The floors are laminate in the kitchen, office, and hallway. There’s tile in the three bathrooms and foyer area. But unfortunately the great room and bedrooms are carpeted.

The negatives: no washer or dryer; and it has wallpaper in the bathrooms and kitchen (which I hate); and a fairly steep stairway which I may not be able to handle. The dining room light fixture would work until we can replace it and the view isn’t quite as spectacular as ours, but there is a pond which is sorta visible especially from the screened balcony off the upper room.

We love our current location but the two-story condo is almost within view of our current court. The two-story is about five years older.

We could swing the price of the new unit, but we know we’d take a hit on the sale of our current place. We’d probably lose about $20,000-$25,000. The place we’re looking at was valued at $300,000 a few years ago (when the economy was strong). Now we could buy it for less than half that price! We feel certain that the values will eventually turn around.

But do we want a 2,200 sq. ft. place? That’s really large! I have a hard enough time keeping our smaller place clean. It would be better when we have house guests because we wouldn’t have to move out all our instruments to make room for company. We’ll see. If we are going to do it, I’d like to decide soon so we can put our current place on the market and hopefully sell it and get settled over the winter.

What about friends and neighbors? We love our current neighbors. It would be difficult to “start over.”

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A new look for

I’m trying a new look for my blog. It has a bit more information in the right most column and it’s a little “brighter” with slightly larger text. I’ll give it a chance. I can always “switch back.” This layout also treats the Archive and Categories differently. It gives you the first three lines of a posting which can be expanded. Makes it easy to scroll through a month of posts to find the one you’re looking for, but it omits photos until you go to the complete text.

I’ve also tried a design which lets me use multiple header photos but it squeezed the text into a narrower center column which didn’t work with photos I often include. I’ll keep looking for the perfect design.

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15 days!

Times change. We used to be able to lock our door and leave for Florida without thinking about safety for our Michigan home. Now “security systems” seem like a very good idea. They may be pricy but they’re effective.

We have 15 days before we leave for Florida. Right now the leaves on the trees are a concern. Short of going out and plucking them manually one-by-one, it’s doubtful that we’ll have many on the ground before we head South. Someone said we should shake the trees because John would love get them all raked up but it’s not going to happen.

We have lawn service lined up to do the job, if it’s necessary.

We have lots to do over the next two weeks. Packing will take time, we need to blow out the irrigation lines in our lawn, store the lawn furniture, and fix all the plants so they’ll survive. We will be selling our farm and figuring out investments. It all takes time.

We’re hoping to complete the deal on John’s farm before we leave. It’ll be tough to crowd it all in, but we do our best work when pressured.

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Doctor Oz’s Five Rules to Lose 10 Pounds

1. Don’t consume sweet sodas (aka pop or soft drinks)
2. Don’t eat after 8:00 p.m. (or if you have irregular hours, 3 hours before bedtime)
3. Move 10 minutes a day.
4. Don’t eat snacks bigger than your fist.
5. Weigh yourself and record it daily.

You will lose 10 pounds.

I’ll try it!!

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King Point’s new website

The Kings Point, Sun City Center, FL, community where we have our condo put up a new website today. It’s awesome and shows why we love the area. You can see the site at the Kings Point Sun City Center website.

John and I are sorta looking into “upgrading.” Yes, we love our current condo, but the prices are so extremely low for high-end condos, that we feel we might be wise to invest in something which has all the stuff “completed” which we’ll have to do to make our current condo work for us. We’re looking, but we do like our view. I’ll take something really remarkable to convince us to move. We’ll see.

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Wish more people would list their music related classified ads

After all the problems I had with my websites being hacked, I finally solved the problem by eliminating my classified area on which provided a portal which was used by the hackers to get into my domain hosting area. I was forced to delete the entire program with all the existing advertisements.

The past month I’ve researched safe classified ad programs and decided to go with Classipress which runs on the same platform, “WordPress,” as this blog. It’s extremely safe and I’m comfortable with WordPress. The area is up and running smoothly. Now I just need to get those who had listed their items for sale to come back and list them again. I’ve tried advising them that the new site is up. Haven’t quite stooped to begging, but I may.

Check out the NEW and ‘improved” Classified Ads Area

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An Evening with “Old Folks”

Last night was my 50th class reunion. I looked around the room, I was surrounded by “old folks” and since most all had birthdates within a year of mine, that means I’M THEIR AGE! NO! It can’t be!!!

The evening was fun. We arrived at the reception about 5:45 and socialized until about 7:00 when the doors to the dining room opened.

Everything was “first class.” From the reception muchies to the lovely white table linens on the round tables it was more than we had expected. The food was perfect! After a nice fresh salad (with a selection of dressings), a perfectly cooked filet mignon, PLUS we all got a good size chicken breast, a large baked potato (with butter and/or sour cream), steamed vegetables, roll and butter, and a blueberry topped cheese cake. And at every table there were two bottles of wine (a red and a white). Of course a wonderful coffee was also served.

The entertainment was a comedian/magician who was fun! He had several of us up on the stage with him as he performed his tricks. He did a rope trick with me. I cut the rope and it was “reconnected.” I watched closely and sure couldn’t figure out the trick.

Butch Heath, provided a little dance music and sang a few oldies tunes.

It was a most enjoyable evening. Even John had lots of fun.

I so enjoyed seeing old girlfriends: Sue Lloyd, Sue Miller, Heather LaCroix and others who I’d totally lost touch with were there. It was fun catching up.

Some I didn’t recognize. Sue Miller still has a body to die for!

But I didn’t feel as bad about my own shape as I’d feared. John said I was among the top. Notice, he didn’t say I was the best, but I’ll settle for being one of the best. (Especially in a class of nearly 700!!) Of course love is blind, but I think his vision is pretty good. I noticed he had looked them all over!

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Dinner Disappointment

John and I had carefully planned our 25th anniversary celebration.

I’d researched every restaurant in the area. We really wanted to do more than just go out for a meal, but after calling every place where evening entertainment might be available, we decided we’d settle on a lovely dinner. The two most highly rated restaurants (according to friends and internet reviews) were Jake’s Grill in Old Town Saginaw and Lucky’s Steakhouse in Bay City. We settled on Lucky’s.

Both of us spiffied up. John looked grand. He was dressed in nice dress pants and a comfortable long sleeved shirt, (no-tie). I wore a short black dress with black knit cardigan style top over it.

This was a special night!

We should have been forewarned when the restaurant wouldn’t take a reservation for two on Friday night.

We ran into problems just getting out of our subdivision. The annual garage sale is tomorrow and lots of folks came in tonight to get a jump on the actual sale. We couldn’t get out to the main road. Our streets were blocked with folks parked on both sides of the street and folks coming and going. It was a mess. John is not a patient person, and by the time we got out to M-52, he was angry. (Not a good start.)

We arrived shortly after 6:00 and were told the wait would be about 15 minutes. That didn’t bother us at all. But we felt that we were way over dressed. The other “guests” were in summer casual casual casual… (example: gym short shorts on guys with hairy legs). Very few looked prepared for a nice dinner.

We went to the bar, where loud obnoxious patrons annoyed us. We could hardly hear each other talk.

Within five minutes we were seated in the dining room and our nice server, Stephanie, did what she could to make our evening feel like an “event.” I ordered a filet mignon, Caesar salad and a potato. I’d carefully quizzed her about the restaurant’s definition of medium versus medium rare steaks. She assured me that since I wanted a warm center but definitely pink to red, medium would work for me. But when it came, it was dry and very well-done! Of course waiting for a second filet to be grilled took forever so I filled up on potatoes. John’s prime rib and garlic mashed potatoes were ok but the prime rib was medium well instead of medium.

The dining room was noisy, crowded, and definitely lacked ambiance. Ponderosa Steakhouse, across the street, would have been better, probably quieter, and we’d have felt more satisfied and we’d have spent $20 less.

The filet was good, but much too salty. It was if it had been soaked in soy sauce.

So much for a grand dinner.

We were home by 8:00. That was our 25th Anniversary celebration… very disappointing. Hopefully our fiftieth will be better.

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Anniversary Rose

Anniversary Rose
Tomorrow is our 25th wedding anniversary. In celebration of the event, a lovely bouquet of a dozen red, long-stemmed roses grace the coffee table. They are perfect right now. Wish I could freeze them at this point.

We have no sensational plans for tomorrow. We’ll go out to dinner, then dancing afterward.

Saturday is my 50th class reunion so we’ll be eatting fabulous meals for the next two days. It promises to be fun. I’ve organized a website for the class (at and I’ve established an email list to use following this “get together.”

There’s going to be a great turn-out. We had a graduating class of well over 700. But we have about 300 classmates plus their spouses and “dates.”

I had vowed to lose weight and look really great for the “reunion.” I did shed about five pounds, but I didn’t reach the toned state I’d promised myself. I wonder if it’s too late. It’s still 20 hours away. If I start exercising now….

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I’d love to change this blog’s design

All afternoon I’ve been trying to find another “free” blog theme which would work with the stuff I generally post on “Sharon’s Blog.” (Themes are the “design” which organizes the stuff you see.)

I want one that allows me to have nice “photo” at the top of something which impresses me. I want a few links for my true stories (of “Grandma,” “Our Fire,” “My Brain Problem,” and the story about finding my brother, “Family Matters.”) I’m surprised that few blog formats allow for the things I want to post, so I’m stuck with this layout.

I tried to freshen up “Sharon’s Blog” but so far I’m not successful. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up, but after about four hours of “looking,” I’m disappointed.

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tattooedI’m turned off by tattoos. I’ve never seen a tattoo which I’d want on my body permanently. Seems as if there should be a market for more permanent, temporary tattoo. Something which could be removed with a special solvent but would stay put for a period of time. I suppose it’s the “tough” factor that attracts some folks to get ink, but I can’t imagine that, when these folks are 50 years older, they’re going to want the tattoo which they have etched into their body permanently.

I feel that way about piercings too. Of course I have one hole in each ear, but I never felt the need for a hole in my nose, tongue, or any other part of my tender body.

When I got my first and only earring piercing, I was hesitant. It was the 1970’s but I doubt that it’s much different now. You could have the hole punched in at your local drug store or jewelry shop. I didn’t feel that environment was sterile enough, so I went to the most popular piercer in Frankenmuth back in the 1970’s… the local vet.

The vet explained that he had a young daughter who wanted to have her ears pierced but he was concerned about the places women had to go to for this service. He bought one of the piercing tools, and did it in his veternary clinic. It was sterile. He felt better and so did I.

Even if tattoos weren’t permanent, I’d be concerned about the settings where this service is done.

So even though I think of myself as a modern senior citizen, I don’t need to be tattooed to prove it.

The illustration I found when I looked up “tattoos” really bothers me. That little girl is covered with tattoos AND her brow, lip and ears are pierced!

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Signs I’m getting “old”

I watched a cute video a friend posted to her Facebook which pointed out some of the signs you’re getting old. I recognized many of them.

Hairs appearing in weird places: Sprouting out of your chin or above your lip where no hair should grow. Long nose hairs and eyebrows that extended beyond their appropriate borders.

Forgetfulness! The other day I was at Penney’s at Fashion Square Mall. When I was ready to leave, I exited via what I thought was the closest door to my car. When I got out to the parking lot, I realized I was on the East, not the South end of the building. Felt dumb as I walked around the sidewalk to find my car. It was right where I’d parked it, but I swear the door had moved.

Aches and pains! When I twist my body, I swear the cricks and creaks are audible.

I remember my mom talking about her graduating class’s 50th class reunion and being surprised that any of them lasted that long. Now I’m planning for mine in a week!

Hearing is difficult. It has hit John too. “What did you say?” is our most common question.

Pills and medicines in quantity. I’m fortunate, but even I now take over-the-counter ibuprofen and allergy medicines every night. Although I forget most of the time, I’m also supposed to use eye drops for dry-eye and apply some skin cream prescribed by my dermatologist at night.

Extra skin: Even though I haven’t lost any noticeable weight, it’s like my skin is becoming too large. Under my chin, my eyes, my underarms and my belly. It’s all so flabby!

Foods affect me more. If I eat certain things it’s a problem. I love hot and spicy but it’s getting so my system doesn’t enjoy extremely hot any more. And some foods seem to produce more gas than previously.

It takes longer to get ready to go places and the results aren’t as satisfying.

My feet hurt more than previously. I’ve always loved walking but now it wears me out and I can’t seem to find a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

Time flies faster. It was just Memorial Day (just a blink ago) but now it’s nearly Labor Day.

Our future plans have changed. I remember when John and I purchased our place in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan). We actually thought we’d retire up there. Now we want to be closer to people where we can socialize. And in selecting a place to live, we think about how far we are from a quality medical facility.

The Emmys, Oscars and music award shows are filled with acts and material I’ve never heard of. They may be the best, but I’ve never seen nor heard of a lot of the “big names.” I love the fashions, but often don’t recognize the person wearing the gown.

Yup, I exhibit a lot of signs that I’m a “senior” but life is still great and I’m not complaining. Just commenting.

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