Archive forNovember, 2010

Creative Writers’ Group

Yesterday I attended my first meeting of the Kings Point Creative Writers’ Group. It was an enjoyable two hours and I’ve penciled in their gatherings for the future. (They meet on the first and third Tuesdays in Sun City Center, and the second and fourth in Kings Point.)

The format is simple. Everyone brings something they’ve written and they read it to the group.

There were ten attending.

There were: fictional stories, poetry, narratives of current situations and other contributions.

When my time came, I read the first part of “Family Matters,” the discovery of my brother Jim. (Note, you can find a link to it immediately to the right under the heading “Menu”.) It was well received. I think, when I attend again, I’ll bring the first part in case someone missed the beginning of the story but for my second presentation, I’ll tell “the rest of the story.”

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Kitchen Renovation

We’re kind of stumbling into a kitchen renovation.

A week or so ago we put up new blown glass, dark brown very contemporary pendant lights over the “breakfast bar.” They looked great but they made everything else look bad.

Then we found a great buffet,

There’s a blank wall in our kitchen, near the dining area. We’d pressed a tacky free-standing bookcase/bar-type unit into service when we moved in, and located it on the blank wall for extra storage. It was ugly, but served us well. We realized was time to do something about the bookcase, so we purchased the buffet. Yes, we know built in cabinets could be built-in to match our kitchen, but this is something we can arrange elsewhere or even take with us if we buy a different condo. With wine storage and ample drawers and cabinets, it fits our lifestyle.

The new unit is dark, chocolate colored wood with brushed stainless knobs. It looks great with the hanging pendant lights, but it sure doesn’t match the existing honey oak kitchen cabinets.

Today our new stainless French-door refrigerator was delivered. The refrigerator, buffet and the lights blend together quite nicely. But the existing wallpaper is too busy. (We’ve always said the paper should be removed.) But it’s the cabinets that now stand out as “totally dated.”

This afternoon we had a guy come to give us a bid for changing the cabinets. For obvious reason, he wants us to go with replacement cabinets. He’d like us to get rid of the buffet, which he said doesn’t do a thing for the area. He may be right, but it’s serviceable and we’re satisfied. We didn’t spend so much that we can’t ever part with it, but for now, we want to just concentrate on the rest of the kitchen.

For the lowest price we can paint the existing kitchen cabinets, or for more we can put new doors and skins on them, or we can replace them completely. We’re getting bids on all options.

We’ll see what this cabinet maker can do and tomorrow afternoon, we’ll have another bidder look at the job.

We don’t want to put too much into this project. We’ll see…..

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Lots going on

Monday we spent the day in Brandon shopping. We ended up buying a stainless French door refrigerator which is going to be great!! No more turning the ice maker on and off and if we forget, ending up with a freezer full of ice. It’s large (29 sq. ft.) with accessible ice and water without opening the door! And a freezer which will be large enough to hold our Thanksgiving turkey.

We are also getting a buffet with a hutch top to go on a blank wall as you go into the kitchen. That’ll give us five additional drawers and three sizeable cabinets plus a wine storage area. We especially need the drawers!

We’ve added new hanging lights over our breakfast bar. They really up-graded that area. With the refrigerator and buffet/hutch, it’ll be much nicer and more appealing. Next step: add granite counter tops, up-grade our kitchen cabinets and hopefully replace our bar stools with some that are more contemporary.

Of course the floors need to be either tiled or we need to lay wood flooring. There doesn’t seem to be any end to our dreams.

Thank heavens!!

Dreaming makes life fun!

Today we rearranged my “office area.” We brought a four-drawer file cabinet in from the garage, which means I can “get organized.” It’s a temporary fix. Eventually we want to make the “office” into one huge pantry/storage area with a sink and cabinets for canned goods against the back wall and a built in desk area to the right side. At least now, the space isn’t totally wasted. I’d also like to find a good sized book shelf to hold my abundant books. Maybe it can go in a corner of our bedroom. I read so much and our community is utopia for buying bargain books.

Let’s see, since getting down here (six weeks ago), we’ve gone to Little Harbor to watch the sunset and enjoy hamburgs three times, two evenings at the Elks Club in Ruskin for spaghetti, an Oldies but Goodies dance, an Acadamy dance, and a Ballroom Dance Club dance, a pizza party, wine party, a fund raiser dinner, a potluck with the Pelican Players (drama club), dinner at Circles (very good and up-scale), and we’ve had dinner at the Conklins twice, pizza here once, pool at least five or six times a week and well…. you get the idea. Busy Busy Busy!! Love it!

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A day late

Yesterday we had decided to make an offer on the lovely condo on Princeton Greens. It offered more space and storage with an unequaled view at a very low asking price.

About noon we called our realtor and she in turn called the listing agent. We were too late. It had been sold. Darn!

But the experience has prompted us to look at our place differently. We do love our view and there are a few things we can do to make our place even nicer for us. We’ll gradually complete some small projects. The large ones will wait for now. Even the small ones will make a difference.

We’ll move the utility tub from the office and move a storage unit into that space. We’ll see about adding a cabinet in the master bathroom. We’ll look into the replacement of our refrigerator and relocate it left of where it is now. We’ll add a pantry where the current refrigerator sits. We’ll see about some extra cabinets to the left of the new refrigerator location. We’ll buy a new furniture grouping for the end of the living area. That should do it for this year.

Yesterday our garbage disposal died so John replaced it and we added two pendant lights in place of two recessed lights over the bar that divides the kitchen from the living area. Those projects totaled less than $200. Little things like that will enhance our place.

I do need to wash the living room windows while it’s cool. (The 85-90 degree temperatures didn’t encourage working outside especially on the sunny side of the condo but this week it should be nice and we have few activities planned.)

We also need to have the living room carpeting commercially cleaned.

We’ll keep our eyes open for a different condo, but there’s no rush. (I really wish we’d moved faster on the Princeton Greens condo!)

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A new condo for us..??? (540 Princeton Greens Court)

540 Princeton Greens
Today John and I took a tour of the above condo which is located in Kings Point (our gated community).

We’ve been hoping to find a place that would make up for our current condo’s short-comings. This may be it.

If we stay here (in our current condo), we’ll eventually need to do some expensive projects to make it work for us.

We’ll need to replace the carpet and vinyl floor coverings with durable tile or wood flooring. We’ll eventually replace the living room windows with some that are more weather resistant, expand the lanai, enlarge the kitchen, and possibly move a wall between the master bathroom and office to expand the master bath by two additional feet (and rearrange the shower, etc.) Roughly we figure the changes we’ll need to make will total $30,000-$50,000. Although once we get a place or decide, we’ll hope to stay put, the value of the condo probably won’t reflect any of the changes.

The condo we looked at today is two years OLDER than ours but it’s considerably larger and has an exceptional view (a view is a requirement for me). There’s a pond directly behind the condo with a conservation district on the other side of the pond. The side yard is wide. It’s on a quiet cul-de-sac.

Most of the floors are 18″ ceramic tile. (Only the bedrooms are carpeted.) There are lots of closets and storage galore. The galley style kitchen is twice the size of ours with a window over the sink. There’s a nice-sized utility room with a utility sink off the kitchen and the utility room has a whole wall that’s a pantry (about 18″ deep).

The master bedroom is much larger than ours and would accommodate a “sitting area” toward the pond. (They have 4 or 5 dressers in a row along one wall in the bedroom.) The bedroom view is awesome. There is a walk-in closet for the lady and a second closet for a guy. The master bath is spacious with a large “Roman shower”. There’s a long two-sink vanity with ample storage. There’s nice sized linen closet in the master bath and a hallway closet in the foyer near the front door. (Yes, it has a foyer!) The guest room is larger than our current one with a closet along one whole wall and a pretty arched window.

Both bathrooms have solar lights.

The living room is about 30 feet long and about 20 feet wide (with two solar lights). They’ve divided it into two distinct furniture groupings: one area for TV and another for conversation, but we’d blend the two.

There’s a nice sized dining area which opens with sliding doors to the lanai. The screened lanai is really pretty. In addition to the dining room siding door the whole width of the living room opens up completely to the outdoor room and the doors slide in such a way that the opening is totally unobstructed. The lanai would also act as a greenhouse for John’s green thumb.

We didn’t come in the front way, but it appears there’s a gracious entry feel.

All the condo’s ceilings are very high with interesting angles and slopes and neat ledges at different heights. (They are currently filled with knick-knacks, but we’d prefer to just see the angles of those shelves bare.)

There are four solar lights (two in the living room and one in each bathroom).

The current dark, musty den, which is being used as a “library” with a whole wall of dark bookshelves, would make a perfect “office”/”music room” and is positioned away from the traffic areas so the required clutter wouldn’t be visible. It would eventually need another solar light but is large enough to serve all those purposes.

Negatives: the current owners are into art work and have dozens upon dozens upon dozens of paintings on all the walls (30-50 hung on just one living room wall). We’d therefore need to patch nail holes and repaint completely. The place is so cluttered that it’s hard to see the “bones” of the place. It has a sort of an old, musty smell (which would be eliminated with a thorough cleaning). The kitchen is dated but serviceable. Older white appliances are ok, but not glamorous. There’s no “breakfast bar” which we love in our current condo so we’d need to eat in the dining room all the time. There’s no dining light fixture, only an ugly fan with a light (a fan over a table?? Naw!) The garage Is too short for our truck and that’s almost a deal breaker for John. There’s no window in the den. It faces east while our current place faces west so we’d lose our lovely sunsets. We would be further from the South Club where we hang out and I wouldn’t do as much walking (too far to the clubhouses and it’s easier to be motivated to walk with a destination).

The things which would need to be done to the place: paint throughout, change cabinet knobs in kitchen and bathrooms, change light fixtures in bathrooms, upgrade fans in living room, dining area and lanai, install a hanging light over the dining room table, change lanai light fixtures, (if possible) add a “breakfast bar.” Eventually re-face or paint the kitchen cabinets. All of those things could be done for a few hundred dollars. Quite a difference from the $30,000-$50,000 we’d need to spend on our current condo.

Both of us can envision the lovely place this could be. It really has a lot of promise.

I should mention that the place we’re interested in has a very motivated seller who must unload the place. (The husband needs to be in an assisted living area and they have made plans to move to Lakeland where doctors can help with his care.) They need to move by the end of December. Therefore, we’re hoping we can make a cash offer and get a quick acceptance. We’d list ours for about $5,000 less than we paid for it two years ago and hope to sell soon. But we could also consider renting it out.

A lot to think about.


It’s now several hours later. We went to the condo again with Trudy our realtor and I thought we were ready to make an offer. Then we measured the garage and the truck and found the garage is too small. The truck doesn’t fit. That was like a “sign.”

John’s now cool to the whole idea. He’s afraid of owning two condos at the same time. The association dues would have to be paid on both units. That’s nearly $400 monthly. With his cold feet and the garage too small to hold our vehicle, we’re giving it second thoughts.

I still love it. John’s less convinced. Actually don’t think John has the energy to move right now anyway. It is difficult and stressful to move and today John wasn’t feeling well enough to consider it. I know he doesn’t feel strong enough. I have to bow to his decision.

This place is nice. I just hate to spend the money we’ll need to spend to make it work for us.

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Little Harbor Revisited

John and I went to Little Harbor for dinner tonight. (Just the two of us.) It was lovely.

Here’s one of the photos I took.

Little Harbor

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Expiration Dates

I thought it would be wise to have items at both our Michigan and our Florida home. But we’re finding that we aren’t using up things fast enough. Stuff “expires.”

For instance we have purchased batteries of different sizes for both locations. Seems that most of the time, the unused batteries die before we use them.

The other day John wanted some baking soda and baking power. They were “dead.”

Even items like suntan lotion sprays get old before we use up our supply.

My shampoo and cream rinse were “thicker” in the bottom of the bottle and hard to get out when we arrived from Michigan (we leave the A/C down here set at 80 over the summer).

Vitamins and even ink cartridges for my computer’s printer have expiration dates.

We freeze lots of food for our return, but much of it ultimately “goes down the disposal.” (John’s grinding up some frozen bacon right now.)

We don’t have a solution for our problem. We can’t haul everything back and forth and with only two of us, we wouldn’t go through items very quickly even if we stayed put. We usually buy large (more economic) sizes to save on cost by the ounce, but it often ends up being wasted.

I opened a “packaged” inkjet cartridge when we got down here, one which I’d purchased last spring and left here. It wouldn’t work. I called Lexmark and they sent me another, but I was informed that the normal warranty is six months from the purchase date. Tough. I am not going to haul that printer back to Michigan just so I can use up my supply of cartridges faster.

Expiration dates are hard on snowbirds.

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Finally some RAIN!!

Today it rained (close to 1/2 inch) from about 10:00-1:00. We were so glad! It’s been nearly a month without any precipitation at all. Although our community has a lot of “irrigation” with huge sprinklers, and although everything is still green, we feared that the trees haven’t been getting enough deep rain to keep them going if we have any stressful situations (like the cold we had last winter).

For the past half dozen years (or more years) I’ve totally ignored my health. First it was my mom’s heath and I was consumed by her needs. Then about 18 months ago John’s health deteriorated and I was busy worrying about him. But recently I realized I need to worry about my own condition.

Last week I went to an internist who scheduled me for blood work, x-rays and insisted that I needed to go to a gynecologist for total gynecological exam. I also needed a mammogram. I have taken care of all but the blood work (which I’ll do asap – I just have to get up early and have the tests done before I eat anything) and I still need an uterine ultrasound next week. So far so good. I don’t want to let it slip again. I want to live a long, productive life.

I love our time down here and I don’t want to miss any of it because I’m not healthy.

So I’ll have all the tests done. I’ll get the final wrap up explanation on November 22nd.

With the rain, we didn’t get to the pool today and the forecast looks like it’ll be considerably cooler. If we have any warm weather, we’ll definitely spend it at poolside.

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