Archive forOctober, 2011

Busy Week!

We went to Tampa twice this week. Wednesday we made the trip to look at used vehicles and ended up getting a replacement for our 1992 Toyota. It’s definitely a step or two up.

On Wednesday, we also bought/ordered three bar stools.

Several days we looked at tile and met with tile representatives who gave us prices. In the end, I’d say we are just more confused.

Yesterday we picked up the bar stools. When we got home, we put them together and were extremely pleased with our purchase. They were very reasonably priced and really match our decor.

We haven’t settled on a tile contractor yet. The differences in the bids for the job are fairly broad. The business we like best had the highest price and didn’t include the price of the tiles. Their labor costs are higher than the complete job from the lowest priced contractor. I would rather go with the highest priced place because they are “locals” but they so much more expensive. We also had a company from North Tampa give us an estimate, but they’re quite a trip away, and sort of a “big business.” We didn’t care for the tiles that the sales guy brought and somehow giving the job to a business with three show rooms isn’t as appealing as giving the work to a small business.

So we’re undecided.

Our week was busy: Sunday after church, we went to a Shriner pancake breakfast; Tuesday, we attended the Michigan Club wine and cheese party followed by a karaoke gathering at the clubhouse; Wednesday was our Tampa shopping trip when we bought our new-to-us car and the bar stools; Thursday, an association meeting plus doctor appointment and an evening Halloween party at the Clubhouse; Friday our second trip to Tampa (returned some sample tiles and picked up the stools); today we are planning to practice music with the Conklins.

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The Good Life!!

We have been having fun fun fun!

This week on Tuesday we went to a meeting of the Michigan Club, Thursday we had a fun evening at the clubhouse with two couples (Richard & Shelly and Linda & Ron). Last night we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Ron & Linda’s house, and today after church we joined the Conklins and the Brooks for Shriner Club pancake breakfast.

Today was beautiful weather. The pool was crowded. We enjoyed visiting with several good friends and stayed nearly all day.

When we weren’t having fun, we were shopping for tile for our condo. It’ll be a big project, and we want to get it right.

I still have a little over a week to go before I return to my eye doctor to see when I can have my cataract operation. I hope it can been scheduled for November 7th but there’s a good chance I’ll have to wait three additional weeks. I’ve been good. Haven’t put my contacts in at all. It’s tough not to see, but I want the surgery results to be the best so I don’t want to mess things up by cheating so the lenses aren’t accurately tailored to my eyes.

Sure is nice here!

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Revisiting Expiration Dates

Most of this posting was written in 2010, but I’m adding to it with some new insights.

In 2010, I explained that I had believed it would be wise to have items at both our Michigan and our Florida homes, but we’re finding that we aren’t using things fast enough. Stuff “expires.”

This is quoted from my 2010 post:

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

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.

End of 2010 Post===

2011 addition: I should explain that we no longer set our thermostat at 80. Instead we have a humidistat and it keeps our humidity at an acceptable level, but the temperatures are higher. Nevertheless, our place was in good shape when we arrived.

But this year I found a few more things that are problematic when I leave them here in our condo:

Perfume: I love my regular scent and I buy a bottle or two of it every year. Last year I left two partially used spray bottles (about 1/4 full) only to find that, when we returned a couple of weeks ago, the color of them had deepened and the scent had changed. (Now it stinks.)

Detergent (both granular and liquid) changes when the temperatures are high. I wanted to use our dishwasher detergent but it was a solid block instead of a granular. Our clothes washing detergent was so thick I had a hard time getting it out of the container. Our scouring powder aka cleanser had solidified. My deodorant was all dried up. Six months here is not the same as six months in the north where it’s cooler. Here the summer heat really takes a toll.

When we arrived this year, we’d lost some plants that we loved: Our huge three year old poinsettia had died (it was hit last December by the freeze we experienced so that may have weakened it). Our newly planted bird of paradise didn’t make it, but out green and yellow foundation plantings had grown, and in fact they’d spread out unattractively. We have a three-year-old palm which we’ve watched and moved repeatedly depending on the season, but this past summer was hard on it. We won’t move it again until it is healthier.

The lawns look nice, the trees are healthy. Our split leaf philadendron had overtaken the sidewalk.

Some plants and items do well without us. Others need our gentle touch.

Perfume apparently needs more attention.

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Another Lovely Sunset!

Last night’s sunset out the back door of our condo was exceptional even by Kings Point standards:

Out our back door 10/15/2011

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Looking at Condos…

John and I looked at three promising condos yesterday.

We’ve been in the position of wondering if we should find a larger condo with everything as we want it, or fix up the one we have. So yesterday we spent the afternoon with our realtor who took us to see the three.

The first was a lovely unit on a quiet up-scale court (culdesac). It had a lovely tranquil pond view but it faced south which is bad here in Florida. You’d never get to enjoy the lanai (screened porch). Also the color scheme was all green and I don’t like green. The kitchen had low-end appliances.

The second condo was in the same neighborhood with a slightly more cluttered view of a pond but it had a stainless kitchen and the color scheme was better. There were tons of built-ins in the closets. In fact the closets were almost too out-fitted. The price was more than $30,000 less than the first.

The third unit had the nicest view of all, but it was an old unit and needed up-dating. The price was a steal, but the bedroom had cheap flooring, the kitchen was totally dated. The living room was small. It was a lot cheaper, but you could easily spend $30,000-$40,000 bringing it up-to-date.

We went home thinking the second unit was the best deal, but when we got home we did some computing, we changed our minds. We can fix up our current place over the next five years and make it perfect for about $40,000. Even if we spend that much, we’ll still save a lot. If we buy we’d have realtor fees and closing costs. (Those expenses for the new and our current condo would come to over $16,000!!!) If we just fix up our place, we wouldn’t need to tap into our investments. Also, if we upgraded, we’d need to pay higher taxes, homeowners association dues, and insurance. Those higher costs would continue indefinitely.

So I think we’ve decided to stay put. We’ll have tile installed throughout our place this year. It’ll be a sizable expense, but a lot less than moving. And maybe this year we’ll buy some new furniture in the guest room so it becomes a multi-purpose/music room. Next year, maybe the lanai extension and living room window. The bathroom is still a question mark because we don’t have a plan.

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My Eyes…

I’m very, very near-sighted. Most folks don’t realize how bad my vision is because I’ve worn glasses since second grade and contacts since I was 15. (Yup, I was one of the first people to get contacts in Midland, MI. I went to the only doctor offering them and I was his third patient.)

Over the years, my eyes went through the normal aging process. Back about 2000, it became necessary for me to wear reading glasses in addition to my contacts in order to clearly see my computer screen at work. It was a bother and I wasn’t satisfied. I found a solution, bi-focal contacts, giving me 20/20 vision whenever I wear my contacts. It has worked.

Several years ago, my Saginaw eye doctor said I have cataracts. My vision was last checked a year and a half ago. At that time, he said he didn’t feel the progression of the cataracts was severe enough for surgery. But recently I’ve felt that my vision has gotten considerably worse. I no longer drive at night, and when I have to get up in the night, my vision is so bad that I have a rough time not running into things (like walls). I made an appointment with the most experienced cataract eye surgeon I could find (and he’s in Sun City Center). I went to see him yesterday and he feels the cataracts are large and there’s no reason to wait.

There is a problem. I’ve worn contacts for so long and now my eyes need to adjust to a state which won’t change once I stop wearing them. If my eyes were to reshape, the inserted lenses wouldn’t work as intended. Will my eyes re-shape?

Only going without them for a period will tell the surgeon if I can have the surgery or must wait until they have stabilized. During the appointment I had my eyes scanned so for the next three weeks, I can’t wear my contacts at all which means I can’t see very well. I’m getting by, but it’s tough. My glasses are ugly and uncomfortable. It’s only three weeks… or maybe six. I don’t have my hopes up that the earlier deadline will work, but there’s a chance. If my eye measurements don’t change, I’ll have the surgery on the 7th of November. The second eye will then be done a couple of weeks later (about the 21st or 28th). But if they aren’t stable when I go back to his office on November 1st, it’s very possible that the whole schedule be at least three weeks later making the second eye surgery in mid-December (or it’s possible that it’ll take even longer). The earlier the better!!!

The lenses I’m going to have inserted are called a Crystalens. They’re the most advanced and expensive, but they are my eyes and it’s important that I see!! They should last my lifetime.


How Crystalens Works

The Crystalens® is attached to the ciliary muscle, a circular muscle that surrounds the lens in the eye. When the ciliary muscle contracts it bulges backwards and increases pressure behind the lens, thus forcing the optic forward. Relaxation of the muscle increases the pressure in front of the lens to move the optic backwards, thus enabling the lens to focus naturally at all distances.

In general, patients who choose to have monofocal lens implants will be dependent on glasses either some or most of the time in about 95% of cases. The best results are with the Crystalens. They are multifocal and their unique system of using the muscle, allows eyes to act like normal eyes. Most people don’t need extra glasses. That’s what I want!

So I’m hoping that I can have the surgery on the first eye on November 7th. What will it be like to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and see to walk through the house. And I haven’t viewed stars for years and years. I am eager!

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Lots of Fun Stuff

October 2011 Pool
Since arriving Thursday we have been moving in but we’ve also had time to play. Sunday evening was an Oldies but Goodies Dance. Lots of fun!!!

Monday and Tuesday we spent a good share of the day at the pool. Yesterday the water was flawless. A perfect temperature and not many folks crowding the pool deck. Couldn’t have asked for more.

Last night we attended the Kings Point Ballroom Dance. John always complains because it’s a dress up (with tie and jacket) evening, but it was very nice and I enjoyed seeing folks look their best.

In about two hours, we’re going to a Nantucket V association luncheon at an Apollo Beach restaurant.

This afternoon I plan to head back to the pool, and this evening John wants to attend a Master Gardner class in Ruskin.

The weather is now just what we want: mid to high 80’s with big puffy clouds. Love it!

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Nothing but rain!

Friday was our first full day here in Florida. It rained, not heavily but enough to stay inside.

Saturday (yesterday) it was so windy that being outside was difficult and there was damage to trees. Rain started in the afternoon. The winds continued. Some nearby communities got eight inches but we lucked out with only about an inch. Today we’ve already had about two inches and it’s still coming down.

While we’re putting up with lousy weather, in Michigan everyone says it’s glorious. About 80 degrees and sunny.

Their extended forecasts show that by mid-week, their temps will crash into the 50’s. By mid-week here, we’ll have glorious sunshine.

Long-range the National Weather Service is saying that the Great Lakes Area will have a severe winter. Florida will have a mild one.

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We made it!

Yesterday we decided that we wouldn’t stop as we had planned at the motel in Tifton, GA. We kept going and pulled into our condo at about 9:15 p.m. Both of us were glad that we’d pushed on. It felt so good to stretch out on our comfortable bed and feel our sheets. So much nicer than any motel.

We did only what was necessary for the night and then went to bed where we watched the Tigers WIN their division in the playoffs.

Today we “moved in”. There’s still lots more to unpack, but no rush.

One minor inconvenience: our range/oven decided to act up. When John turned on the circuit breaker to the range, there was a loud pop and the oven came on. We couldn’t turn it off except by cutting the power at the breaker.

Thank heavens we have a service plan in effect so it is all covered under our contract. The repair guy came and said we need a new clock/timer mechanism and he ordered it. In about five days we should have a range again. Right now we’re stuck with just a microwave, a fry pan, a slow cooker and a gas grill….. and another option: dining out!

We won’t starve.

We wanted to go to the pool this afternoon but it started raining (not hard). So instead we looked at condos on our list of “possible” condo units. We viewed three (from the outside) that we really like. Maybe it would be a good move, but we’ll see. We should set up a tour through our realtor.

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Day Two and Lousy Drivers!!

We’re about 950 miles into our trip with a planned destination in Tifton, GA, but John is saying that we’re making such great time, he’d just as soon keep going to the condo. We’d arrive about 10:00 p.m. We haven’t decided. We don’t have to commit until 6:00 when we’d need to cancel our room.

Our motel stay was a disappointment. Last night we got to our motel in London, KY, only to find that they no longer have the lovely waffle breakfast John was anticipating. He tried their oatmeal and said it wasn’t very good. Maybe next year we’ll try another place. There are several in the area that provide breakfast at a similar price. We’ll see.

But the trip has gone fairly smoothly. Traffic hasn’t been as bad today, but there are always construction zones.

We have seen some crazy drivers.

Yesterday, just north of Cincinnati, we ran into a tie-up.

Apparently one of the southbound motorists got impatient and decided to cut across the grassy median. There was no cut-through and in fact it was uneven terrain and probably 150 feet wide. With tall grass, it was hard to tell, but when the impatient motorist came to an abrupt stop in a ditch that was at least three to four feet deep, he realized he shouldn’t have tried it. He was waiting for a wrecker when we saw him.

Later we saw a guy with a blown tire. It wasn’t just flat, but shreaded and he was still driving on it. As we watched in our rearview mirrors, we could see him lose control and actually drive with one wheel up on the concrete barrier between the lanes. His car was at about a 45 degree angle.

And today we watched in horror as a semi truck driver nearly side-swiped a semi in the next lane, but he didn’t stop there. He wanted to move over a lane but there was a white RV trailer next to him. He didn’t let that slow him down. He just bullied his way over, and the trailer was forced over to the next lane where a small black car was just about taken out. We expected that there’d be a crash, but somehow all made it.

I am sure the black car driver didn’t realize that the white RV trailer was innocent. He’s probably still shaking. And the RV trailer driver had to be praying. I know we were!

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The Road Well Traveled

We’re still in Michigan outab 48 miles from the Ohio/Michigan border. We plan to stop at Beaverdam, OH. We’ll grab a bite to eat and gas-up. Today’s destination is London, KY.

This is the first time that we haven’t traveled with little Willow. We were always “required” to stay in a pet-friendly motel, and Red Roof has worked great. The Red Roof in London has always been our favorite. I believe it’s the highest rated RR in the nation. Breakfast is included and they have the makings for great waffles. John’s in heaven.

Tomorrow night, we’ll try a Microtel in Tifton, GA.

We had a rather dramatic start to our trip. This morning, as we were about to pull out of our driveway, I plugged in the inverter I use to run my laptop. The inverter won’t work. John checked the fuse and sure enough it had blown. A second fuse, did the same thing. We decided it must be the inverter that was blowing them. It became apparent that, if it was causing the problem, I just wouldn’t be able to run my laptop on our trip.

I unplugged the inverter.

As I reorganized things, I plugged in John’s fuzz buster. It started smoking and I actually saw flames. Obviously it hadn’t been the inverter that was blowing the fuses, so I’m powered up and purring. The fuzz buster was left in the trash can.

With our new cellphones and my wireless usb modem, we have totally updated our communication and internet access.

Riding down the road, while on line, isn’t new to me. For many years I used an old cellphone tethered to a laptop running Windows XP. It ran a program which allowed me to use a cell signal for unlimited digital. Back in about 2005 and 2006, the network which it connected to was nationwide. It was about half the speed of dial-up so loading a page of data took patience.

But that system was gradually being phased out. Over the years many areas no longer allowed access. Last year I gave up and didn’t bother trying to connect through that antiquated system. We’d make a point to request internet in our motel rooms.

But now my internet connection is the same while in the car as at home. I can use either my laptop or cell to go on line. It’s great to have joined the technological age. I even got a “will you participate in a survey” phone call a few minutes ago.

Life is good.

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Packed for 8:30 a.m. Pull-Out Tomorrow

Finally we’re ready! We’re packed and tomorrow a.m. we’ll hit the road for Florida!

We have appointments and plans waiting for us.

Unfortunately this week Michigan has decided to be unseasonably beautiful and warm. The forecast for this weekend may take temperatures to 80 degrees which is unheard of in Michigan in October. In fact, it’ll be nearly as warm as Florida but we’re going.

John isn’t really pleased, but he realizes that we can’t reschedule now. We arrive on Friday and have parties/dances planned for Sunday and Tuesday and a doctor appointment Tuesday a.m.

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I’m Probably Driving John Crazy

As I’ve mentioned frequently, I’m a detail oriented person. I plan. My specialty is “lists.”

This compulsion is especially evident before we take a trip, like the trip we’ll take starting Wednesday to our place in Florida.

I have lists for packing and lists for chores still needing to be completed. I know I’m obsessive about this sort of thing.

I also plan out every detail of our actual “trip.” I can tell you that at 9:05 a.m. on Day Two (Thursday, October 6th), well be crossing the Kentucky/Tennessee border; and that at 1:11 p.m. Friday, we should pull into our Florida condo.

Today John and I went over the “lists” I’ve prepared for our trip South so he’d know what’s left to be completed. We’ll do it again, at least once more, but little by little we’re whittling-down the stuff that remains.

Because John trusts and expects me to do all of this pre-preparation, I’m responsible if something is forgotten. That’s enough incentive to recheck the lists again!!

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