Archive forMay, 2011

It may be Warming Up!

Today, finally (with the help of my proofreader, Nancy), I completed the “index of workshop classes” and “three daily workshop grids” for the ODPC Funfest in Evart, Michigan. I emailed those two files to the leaders. I’ll be hearing from them as they review their commitments.

The recent weather has been lousy. Today was another rainy cool day, but tomorrow things will change. They’re saying that, within the next couple days, it’ll be nearly 90! That’s quite a change from the 50’s and 60’s we’ve been experiencing as daily highs.

But I’m already planning for the fall. I’ve reserved a table of tickets to a Prudential Sunshine Kids (kids with cancer) benefit in October at the Community Hall in Sun City Center, FL.

And the North Clubhouse at Kings Point in our Florida community is undergoing a major renovation. Can’t wait to see the changes.

What are we doing socially here?

This Thursday, we discovered a ballroom dance group. It’s a reasonable price and includes a really good dinner plus dance instruction and free-dance time. Can’t go wrong at $10 a person.

Right now I’m waiting for the predicted warm-up.

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Grand Rapids, MI, out-did themselves

I have watched and rewatched this video which was a Grand Rapids community creation. I can’t imagine a city caring so much and creating such an awesome video.

Watch it once, and I’ll bet you’ll go back and watch it again!


Grand Rapids, Michigan promo Video!!!!!! Wow!!

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New Photo

the view of the island in front/back of our house
I don’t like to have my photo taken.

Recently I was asked to provide a photo for the ODPC newsletter (an article about the workshops). I suggested one which I’ve used for a couple of years at “my 2009 photo.”

It was rejected and I was asked to take another. It was two years old so I guess it was time to replace it. So today I did. (John took the picture) And to the left is the current photo I came up with, which was taken today.

As I get older (my next birthday I’ll be 70) I balk at photos. I know I could be worse off and I’m fortunate to be in the shape I’m in, but nevertheless I hate to see myself in print.

In fact I’ve often wondered how my family would ever find a picture of me if they needed one. I had dozens of my mother, and I know I could lay my hands on dozens I’ve taken of John, but I’m usually the one behind the lens and therefore I have very few pictures of me. So here’s the most recent from May 27, 2011.

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The three daily grids of workshops for the ODPC Funfest Hammered Dulcimer Festival are now in my proof-reader, Nancy’s, capable hands for checking and re-checking. It’s taken me nearly a month to complete the scheduling of the three days (from 9:00-5:00 each night in nine different areas).

I sent her all of the raw data as well as the three complete and ready-to-go daily schedules. (I call the grids.) The three daily grids are the back-bone of the workshop schedule. They’ll go in the final program.

Now I need to get busy with the “descriptions,” which are the elaborations for each class in the schedule.

I should have the whole 18-page program completed by the end of June. (Three pages done, 15 to go!!)

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It Ain’t Done yet!!!

A couple days ago, I thought I’d have the workshop schedule done by now but nope!! I worked a whole eight-hour or more day today. I finally sent the files to my proofreader only to find I had sent an “earlier revision” and some how the last revision was lost. I had to tell her to hold up any proofing. (I’ll re-do it tomorrow.)

My proofreader, Nancy, has helped me for several years.

I just found out, she has faced a health crisis over the past seven months with multiple surgeries and now chemo. I wish she’d shared her problems with me.

She’s a sweet lady.

We work well together.

I have sensed that she thinks like I do. She knows how I want the punctuation. She understands why I decide to do things like I do. We have an unspoken bond. Because we think alike. To find that she’s had health problems bothers me. I want to help her somehow.

What a lovely, giving person!!

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Pretty Day

the view of the island in front/back of our houseToday I worked for six to eight hours on the schedule of workshops for the ODPC Funfest, the world’s largest hammered dulcimer event.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve devoted dozens upon dozens of hours to this project. Today I set as my weekend goal, the completion of the three daily grids (for July 14, 15, and 16). I just about succeeded, but I decided to wait until tomorrow or Monday and, with a fresh start, I can get that part of the workshop program job done with greater accuracy.

Of course, once the grids are finalized, I still need to generate 16 pages of descriptions which will let those attending know what they can expect from each class.

I haven’t been feeling well, but I knew I needed to keep working. Today I had to re-do a lot of what I’d done when I wasn’t up-to-par. I now realize have to be “sharp” when I’m working with this stuff, and it’s apparent that I wasn’t. Nevertheless, I hope to spot my mistakes within the next day or two and get everything smoothed out. Then I can send it to my proof-reader while I start on the descriptions.

At least I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The three daily grids are the tough part of the project. By comparison, the descriptions are easy. I figure I’ll have it ready to go to the printer near the end of June.

At least the day was lovely and my view was grand. I took my laptop and the printouts to our deck so at least I was outside. (The photo above was what I saw whenever I looked up from my work.)

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Half a Bubble Off *

The past couple of days I haven’t felt well. It started Tuesday morning. I woke up really congested. After I got up and started moving around, it didn’t bother me much until evening and then I felt like I had a horrid cold. A few shots of nasal spray (high octane stuff) and some antihistamines cleared my head.

I felt better most of Wednesday. But Wednesday night was a repeat of Tuesday. The bad cold feeling hit me again in the evening and I really suffered. Last night I got almost no sleep.

If my problem is an allergy, I don’t know what I’m confronting but it really wipes me out.

Tonight I had planned to go to St. Charles for our sub-division association meeting/dinner, but I feared a repeat of the past two evenings, so I stayed home.

John had a practice with George Horny’s polka band so he wasn’t planning to attend the association dinner-meeting with me anyway, and the idea of driving over alone and then maybe feeling rotten dissuaded me.

George’s band is playing for a graduation party on the 11th of June.

This week it’s been wet and chilly. Tomorrow and over the weekend it’s supposed to warm up and be glorious so I can’t wait. Maybe with a little sunshine, I’ll feel better.

(*Note: My definition of “half a bubble off” means not feeling up to par. If you’re familiar with the use use of a level, you know when things are “centered” by the bubble. But when things aren’t quite right, you’re “half a bubble off.” I didn’t feel well so that’s how I described my condition. I wasn’t sick, but not well.)

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Missing the “social” life! (aka, waiting to go back!)

The pace of our life is so different in Florida than in Michigan. In Kings Point, Sun City Center, FL, we’re up and out early to get to the pool where we join with friends. There are dance classes and evening gatherings. There are spaghetti nights in Ruskin and dances at the Community Hall. We hang out at the pool on our “noodles,” exchanging small-talk. All activities are accompanied by the chatter of people who are special to us, the pleasant warmth of multiple friendships, and the feeling that “it doesn’t get any better that this.”

Here in Michigan, John gets more than enough of exercise working in the yard. I’m busy working on-line doing festival organization or web work, but that only exercises my enlarging butt. In Florida, I feel better because I walk a great deal. John gets lots of exercise with pickleball.

During these summer months in Michigan, it’s the social aspect of our day-to-day existence that is missing plus, this week, I’ve missed pleasant temperatures warm enough to encourage lots of lung-cleansing deep breaths. It’s been really cold (stay inside cold!)

Here, we have very little involvement with others.

The quiet/peaceful situation we find ourselves in here in Michigan is of our own doing. Most of it is really enjoyable. We usually love our solitude. But at the some time, we/I miss the social contacts we have in Florida. But if we want to create a social circle close to our Michigan residence, we need to work on it.

Neighborhood: We moved into our neighborhood 25 years ago. We were one of the first houses on our lake. That first Christmas we got to know all of our neighbors by hosting a party that included everyone. But over the years, the neighborhood has developed and all the sites around the lake are now filled (about 80 homes). The original folks moved out and were replaced by new neighbors we didn’t know and we’ve never met. For many years, we were working so didn’t have a great deal of time to visit and weekends were taken up with trips to the U.P. where we have a place. But now we’re retired. Most of our neighbors still work and they have their own lives. I don’t think those who live near us are a ripe source of friendships. They have their own interests. It’s possible that the neighbors aren’t good candidates, but this Thursday the subdivision is having a gathering and I’m hoping to go (although John may have other plans). We’ll see what happens.

Church: We have a bond with a congregation when in Florida at the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center. It has a wonderful music program and we feel at home there. We haven’t found a church in Saginaw that has had that impact on us, but we are going to see if we can find one where “fit” like we do in Florida.

Organizations: In Florida, we belong to a bunch of social clubs: Oldies But Goodies, Kings Point Ballroom Dance Club, Baby Boomers, and the Michigan Club. We take advantage of several dance opportunities a week including our Rockin’ Rendezvous Thursday nights, our Wednesday night Country Dance Club group, and other “get out and shake you’re booty” opportunities.

I’ve been trying to locate dances in the Saginaw area. I’m still looking.

Sure we have friends who have been important in our lives for years. Most are part of the music community. But the problem is that those Michigan friends are “spread out.” Getting together involves driving a distance. These great folks aren’t next door or even a few miles away. Most of our friends are half way across the state. We see those folks at music gatherings, but they don’t occur often. Between times, there’s a void.

Our Michigan social situation is in a “rut” that is hard to escape, but it’s time that we tried. I realize that my life is “on hold” during the summer months. I find myself waiting to return to Florida.

John, on the other hand has a more active social life here than I do. He has a close, near-by buddy/friend. They get together frequently, gardening, making wine, and playing music.

John also looks forward to working in the yard. It’s his thing. (But even he admits, each year he is more content during the six months when we’re in Florida.)

But we need to create a fun social life from April until October.

Maybe, when it warms up a little, we can host have a bar-be-que on our deck. We need to do something to wake up our social life!!

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Willow’s Impact

We’ve received several “sympathy” cards from friends who know about our loss. They are thoughtful and deeply appreciated. (We have special friends!)

willowWillow was a tiny heart-stealer. She joined our family 14 years ago when she was nine months old. She died April 29th, a month short of her 15th birthday.

What a charmer! But she wasn’t easy. She had a reputation for being impossible for anyone but us to approach successfully. She’d nip (although no one ever claimed she’d successfully bitten them.) But it was fun to watch folks try to get her to warm up to them.

The secret was to grab her from behind and hold her off the ground. She wouldn’t bite the hand that was holding her if she knew she’d have a distance to fall.

Willow loved music. As a young pup, John would play his dulcimer with her on his lap.

She went everywhere we went. She never missed a festival. Everyone knew she reigned at our campsite. She had her own comfortable double-seated lounge chair, but didn’t appreciate sharing it. When we’d arrive at the fairgrounds where the festival was held, she’d have more visitors than we did.

One of the sympathy cards came from a friend representing the Original Dulcimer Players Club (the organization that puts on the big festival we always attend.) The note in it said, “We were saddened to hear of the passing of Willow. She was a part of the festival, especially being named after Les Raber’s tune. The music community mourns with you.”

She was a special little dog and a true beauty. We miss her. There’ll definitely be a vacancy at the festivals where she was a fixture.

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Playing Music

Last night John and I lead a Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club practice. We challenged our members to play a whole bunch of new tunes. Most went well, but we did take it one tune too many. The last one didn’t work and it wasn’t anyone’s fault. You can’t over-saturate folks’ brains with new stuff and that’s what happened with the last tune.

June’s practice will polish up those that worked well and we’ll omit the ones that didn’t.

What a great bunch of friends. We love ’em all. They are the reason we enjoy Michigan.

Today we substituted for Gail Schwandt in Chesaning at the library. She’d promised to play for them today and then had to be out of town.

Gail had called us and asked us if we could fill in for her. We agreed. Gail’s husband, Lyle, came by and sat in with us, playing guitar. He’s a strong player but, as a three-some, we were a little shaky on some of the tunes we tried to play. John and I had practiced them together (the two of us), but a new person changes the dimension. Next time we’ll do better.

It’s good to be back in the music world. We aren’t the best, but we try hard and enjoy the people we know from music.

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Can’t catch up

This house is a lot of work.

We got home two weeks ago and everything needed to be cleaned. Very little has actually been accomplished. It’s hard to get motivated. We spent most of last week shopping for a washer and dryer. It took several long days comparing prices and features.

And we’ve been trying to get ready for our music club practice tonight. It’s a big job to brush off our list of “playable” music. Also tomorrow the two of us are performing in Chesaning at the library for a couple of hours.

I also need to get crackin’ on the ODPC Funfest Workshops. I am behind schedule!!

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Not another post about a washer!

Yup, I’m now going to report on our new washer. It’s purring.

I’ve washed so many loads that I’ve lost track. LOVE IT!

Nuff said!

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Forty Year “Friend” Goes to “Washer Heaven”

Our 40-year-old washer was hauled away today by the guys who delivered our new and shiny, high efficiency, low-water washer.

The jury is still out on how we’ll like the new unit and its companion dryer. It wasn’t the most expensive. In fact, we considered units that were twice the price, but this unit sounded like it would “do it all” and give us more control over the process, while costing half the price of the high-end models.

The first load is still washing.

It was delivered this a.m. but the washer hoses weren’t included as we’d thought they would be, so we had to go back to the place where we’d bought the units and pick up hoses. We also needed more vent duct parts so John could vent the dryer to the outside. Everything is now installed and it’s working.

The models we selected are by Whirlpool. Nothing flashy, just a plain-jane white washer and dryer.

John’s concerned because the washer uses very little water. After it filled, we checked and the water level didn’t even cover the clothes. We had been forewarned that the new units really conserve water and energy.

We’ll report on how it cleans, but the fact that we have a washer and dryer and it seems to be going through the motions, gives me hope that tomorrow we’ll have clean underwear.

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Regular Routine in Michigan

The house was dusty and dirty when we got home on the 27th, but we’re getting things in order. It’s not easy because I hate house-cleaning. I know there are people who actually like cleaning. I like a clean house, but I hate the process, and I’m very allergic to dust which makes it extra difficult.

John’s been working on the yard and garage. Plus he’s installed a vent system for our new dryer (which will be delivered tomorrow). I’ve tried to start on the workshop organization for the ODPC Funfest because I know I have only a few weeks before the entire program must be completed.

Things are actually shaping up. The great room is now nearly dust-free and things are coming together. Today I started to tackle the hot tub room, but there’s still lots more to do in that area. Little by little things are back in shape. The hot tub room, where we had a gazillion plants that all croaked over the winter is still not totally in order, but it’s much improved. The outside deck is cluttered but the maple trees are leafing out so it looks better.

Since getting home, John’s been cleaning the garage and working on the yard, while I’ve been cleaning, dusting, and doing some minor purging.

We have a couple of music events scheduled this week. Our club will practice on Friday and on Saturday the two of us will perform at the Chesaning Library.

We’re fitting back into the tempo of this area. There’s not much here as far as socializing, but it’s still the area where we have our roots.

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A quick review of the past week

Here’s a message I sent to Florida friends that catches everyone up on what’s been happening since we traveled from Florida to Michigan:

We got back to our home in mid-Michigan last Wednesday, the 27th.

We’d had a rather rough trip back because our little dog was so close to death. She had a seizure in the middle of a heavy rain-storm in route, but we got her home. She passed away Friday night. We’d had her for nearly 15 years!!

Saturday, we had to go across the state, to a planning meeting for the huge festival for the music community. We were gone all day and traveled almost 300 miles!

But now we’re home and settled.

The other night we had a big fire in the fireplace. It was cozy and enjoyable, but we miss the pool, pickleball, and rides on the golf cart. (But fireplaces are grand and make cool weather bearable!!)

We’ll be really busy as summer gets closer. We’re involve with the big festival during most of the month of July; and in June, July and August, we’ll be hosting three concerts in-the-park. We usually have a weekend camping event in August and we also have to find time to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to check on our property up there. (We only plan to go there for one week this summer, but it will be necessary to check-in at least once.)

Our clothes washer died before we left for Florida (last October.) We couldn’t do anything about it then, so we’re been in shopping mode. We finally found a washer and dryer so eventually we will have clean clothes. Delivery is scheduled for Tuesday. I don’t know yet if we made a good choice or not. but we were so tired in the end, that anything that promised to wash clothes was all we asked for. We didn’t care if the units folded and put them in the closet as some seemed to claim.

Right now I’m trying to organize the music insturment workshops which have been submitted by the best instructors in the world. I will prepare a 16 to 20 page program. It’s a huge undertaking. I figure it takes me three plus weeks of solid work (150+ hours.) I’m just starting but already I’m feeling the strain.

I’m working with hundreds of classes which have been submitted. I’ll have plenty of classes to fill my 220-240 workshop slots, but creating three days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.each day in nine different areas at the same time is a challenge (especially since each instructor has their own needs.) Last year’s three daily grids are shown here: Last year’s workshop program. You can see what an undertaking it is.

When I get into scheduling mode, I kind of lock myself away and just concentrate. That chore will keep me busy for more than the next month. John will feel I’ve “left him.” But actually our festival is not until July. Until then we’re kind of isolated in central Michigan.

John is trying to get our yard and garden in order.

When we got home, we found some of our wines were excellent but they’re quickly disappearing. I hope next year’s batch is as good. Sometimes the results are a little less than we’d hoped for.

Yesterday we attended a sad funeral. It was for my brother’s grandson. He’d killed himself. No one understands why, but it was sad.

After the funeral, we stopped and visited with my aunt who had turned 100 while we were in Florida. We told her how sorry we were to miss her big 100 birthday celebration, but I suspect she liked the extra visit more than she would have enjoyed another couple at her huge birthday party in March.

So life in Michigan goes on.

I’m sure you are enjoying Kings Point. I know I would be.

John and I are performing in a neighboring community next Saturday.

When the people contacted us about playing, I commented that’s the day of the Kings Point Baby Boomers Pool Party. I said we had a conflict but only if we could get back to Florida.

Sadly we can’t make it to the Baby Boomer party so we are now committed to making music in Chesaning, Michigan, Saturday, But believe me I’d rather be at the party. And we’ll be thinking of all of you folks having a grand time.

Wish we could be there!!

Hugs to both of you.

Sharon & John

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Washer and Dryer Shopping

Just before before we left for Florida last fall, our washer died. To bring you up to date, here’s a link to my “Drip Dry” blog post from Thursday, September 30th (we left early Saturday).

When it died, it was because our washer full of dirty clothes, wouldn’t spin out. We had a tub full of wet, dirty clothes. We ended up drying the still dirty clothes and taking some of them to Florida with us where we washed them and brought them back with us last week. But since arriving home, the remaining dirty clothes from the load last fall, plus our travel clothes and the stuff we’ve soiled since arriving, have been piling up. It was obvious, we HAD to get a replacement washer and it was time to replace the dryer too. (After forty years we doubted we could them to still come under warranty.)

Last week was spent shopping for a new pair of laundry appliances. I can’t begin to tabulate the time looking on line and in stores. (I figure about five hours each day for about three days.) We gravitated toward two flashy, sparkling, high end units: the LG Wave or Maytag Bravos. Wow they were pretty! Either pair was a marvel of beauty and energy efficient engineering. The Maytag pair had a SALE PRICE of about $1,600 and the LG about $1,900. There were so many features that you couldn’t remember what each appliance would do. (Did they put the clothes on hangers, and put them in drawers or was that left to you?) And everything was pre-programmed. If you remembered you wanted to wash another pair of socks, the water would have to drain out so you could “start over”. A load of clothes could take two plus hours to wash. It was mind-boggling. We wanted the best, but the best seemed to be too restrictive.

Friday we were so tired of shopping that I made a vow: “We would get a washer and dryer before ending our day and going home.”

We got more and more confused as we reviewed the features and explanations of those “best” units.

Finally we went back to ABC Warehouse and picked out the simpliest of the High Efficient units, a Whirlpool. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles, but more of the controls were left to the user (instead of totally automatic). It’s highly energy efficient and even qualifies for a rebate from Consumers, but it has no extra hot water header to sterilize the clothes by using super hot water. There’s no steam in the dryer. Just a plan-jane but very serviceable pair of appliances. The price was half what we would have spent on the LG Wave.

The delivery will be Tuesday. We can’t say now if we were right getting the simple units, but in the end, we figured anything will work better than our forty year old pair which we’re replacing. And we can always get the super-dooper pair for Florida where we’ll probably use it more than here. Afterall here, we will only a grand total of four and a half months out of the year.

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Bird Watching

Birds' nestYesterday morning I wondered why two robins were repeatedly flying by our large window. From inside, their destination was out of view, but apparently they were going somewhere under the eves. I went out and found a nest, or at least I guess that’s what you’d call it.

We wonder why they didn’t select a tree. There are so many of them around our house. (Maybe the neighborhood cat has something to do with that decision.)

Or maybe they chose this site because it’s protected by the roof over-hang.

But the slippery surface of the flood lights seems to be presenting challenges. There’s more stuff hanging below than there is sitting on the lights. It’s obvious that they have lots of work yet to do.

Yesterday, when they’d only carried a couple of pieces of grass, John dismantled their efforts, thinking that maybe they’d move to a better location. But they weren’t deterred. We’ll follow their progress and you’ll be able to see the final creation.

Birds' nestDay 3 of the Saga

The photo to the left was taken today, a day and a half after the top one.

You can see the robins still haven’t mastered nest-building skills. Wish we could help, but this something they have to on their own. We can only watch.

You’ll notice that there hasn’t been much progress, but they’re still flying back and forth with bits of grass and stuff. They haven’t given up. There’s a pile of grass and sticks directly below the nesting area. The heap of materials on the ground is bigger than what’s staying on top of the lights.

Our birds just aren’t very good at this nest business. I’m sure they’ll have lovely babies, if they ever get their home ready for them.


The sixth day!

Still no progress. The same amount of stuff is still sitting on the lights, but it doesn’t look like nest. I haven’t noticed them arriving and departing for about a day. I hope they’ve moved on to a better location. I’ll break in with a “news bulletin,” if I can find their new nesting site.

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Fire in the fireplace….. awesome!

John built a fire in the fireplace this afternoon then left for his friend (George’s place). I kept it going until he returned, and now the flames are warming and friendly.

I love a fire in a fireplace. I’m sitting her watching the currents on our lake (Lake Cecil, a 26 acre lake on which our Michigan home is located) and several pair of geese who are currently very concerned about their nests on the island.

The fireplace is wonderful. It’s built of split field stones and two-stories tall. It really is the key feature in our great room. Love it!

Our Michigan place is definitely different than our Florida home. In Florida, our view is of a golf course and two ponds. It’s lovely. Here we have trees and a close-by lake with geese. It’s even prettier. Just wish it would warm up here, but it will. I have faith.

Life is great!

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It’s damp, gray and a chilly 44 degrees.

John’s at his friend’s house. Before he left, he built a fire in the fireplace for me. It sure helps make the place cozier. I love the crackle and glow.

We’re expecting an over-night house guest Friday. I need to get busy and clean the whole house. It’s hard to catch up from six months when we weren’t here.

It’s difficult to get started. A day or two of this kind of cold, damp weather and I become lethargic and depressed. I really need some sun and fresh air.

I keep reading the weather reports here and in Florida. I miss the 88 degree days which we’d be experiencing in Sun City Center. Here 50 would be appreciated.

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What’s happening in Kings Point

I guess the total invasion of love bugs in Kings Point, Florida, where we live so much of the year, has occurred and consequently the pool down there has been vacated and folks are staying inside. (How sad!)

Love bugs seem to appear for a couple weeks two seasons during the year. This year they held off until we were about to head back to Michigan. Easter weekend we saw more of the critters than we wanted, but they were just a “to-deal-with” pest. Now they’re restricting the fun in Florida. This too will pass, but it’s sad to think that our beautiful life down there can be interrupted by bugs.

If you check my previous posting, you’ll understand a bit more about these critters: Love Bug previous posting

They are pesty and miserable. Yet they don’t bite or make noise. They’re just a nuisance because they are everywhere and “in your face.” The only ones who love “love bugs” are the owners of car-wash businesses. It’s said that they do a major portion of their business because of these bugs.

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Friday night, at about 8:00 p.m., Willow died as John stroked her. She’d had a rough afternoon and evening and we knew the end was near.

When she left us, we both felt it was a blessing. She’d cried out a few times. It was heart-wrenching.

John built a solid wooden box for her interment. She was gently wrapped in her favorite soft blue blanket. We buried her adjacent to the foundation of our house near our front entrance. (That’s where we’d buried Gizmo, our other dog.)

Over the site, we placed a stone marker that’s carved with these words.

Gone yet not forgotten
although we are apart,
your spirit lives within me,
forever in my heart.

Willow was a sweet dog. She would have been 15 years old on June 2nd. She owned part of our hearts. She was our “baby.” (Wasn’t she a beauty?!!! Her grandpa, was the most awarded, recognized as the best-of-the-breed chihuahua of all time!!!)

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