Archive forMarch, 2012

Palm Trees

One of the symbols of Florida is the palm tree.

I read up on palms in the “sunshine state” and discovered that there are 27 varieties that grow in the “wild” and a couple thousand “imports.” Of course, here in our Kings Point community, they come from tree farms so we have thousands and each seems unique.

palms around the pool
At the South Club pool, where I spend a great deal of my time, there is a nice variety of palms. I find myself mesmerized by them. In my opinion, the prettiest is one has fronds that look like feathers which is the tallest one on the right side of the above picture.

For the past week or so, a huge black bird (maybe it’s a crow or raven) has been building a nest high in one of the taller palms (shown on the left side of the above photo). He’s still determinedly dragging building materials up to the top of that tree. I’d love to see what his “home” looks like. It’s got to be huge!!

There’s a wonderful variety of palms. Some are well over 100 feet tall, some look like pineapple tops, some grow in low bunches. There are those with ball shaped tops, others with only a frond or two. Rough trunks, smooth trunks, cross-hatched trunks. All pleasures for the eye.

After the hurricanes in 2004, many of the trees were damaged, but surprisingly most survived wind force that would have cleared-out vegetation in the north. When I came down here right after the storms, I was surprised how they’d “weathered the storm” but some were pushed over at odd angles. You can still see a couple of these crooked reminders along Sun City Boulevard (SR 674).

Palms are a lovely back-drop to our life here in sunny Florida.
florida palms

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Condo Changes

Back in October, I wrote a post about looking at other condos versus staying put. Here’s my earlier blog post In that article, I explained our thinking about the pros and cons of upgrading to a larger condo. So where do we stand now?

We decided to stay here. But since the condo had some “problems,” we made some major improvements: Porcelain tile was installed everywhere in our condo except in our master bedroom, where we left carpeting. We even installed slate-looking tile on the lanai. We bought four nice barstools for the counter between the great room and the kitchen. We had a lovely tiled shower built in the master bathroom.

So what about next year? What are our plans?

We started to “rearrange” our guest room so it can be used as a music room, but the bed still occupies most of the space. We need to replace/remove the bed. When we come back in the fall, we’ll either bring a futon or an inflatable bed with a folding frame that makes the queen-size air mattress “standard bed height.” We have both a futon and the inflatable at our home in Michigan and could get by without them there.

When we were talking about buying a larger place, my daughter (who is most apt to visit) commented that she felt we’d be better off making our current guest room multi-purpose. She was the one to suggest that we use an inflatable bed. When the bed is stored away, the room will definitely accommodate our instruments with space to spare. Probably we’ll go with the blow-up mattress because the futon will be hard to transport (and the futon mattress is only standard-size while the inflatable is a queen.)

The current dresser and chest of drawers are part of the “very dated” set with the bed. I’d like to junk them all and buy simple storage pieces like those they sell at Ikea. (I definitely need lots of drawer space for bathing suits and sweaters.)

In addition to the guest room furniture, we definitely need to replace the two antique recliners in the living room as well as the lanai furniture. The “office area” needs to have more cupboards added and the existing ones painted white.

But next year, the big project will be replacing the window in the great room with the wonderful view. We can either put in slider doors across the whole end, or windows that don’t have the multiple “bars” and come down to about a foot from the floor. It would make such a difference and I’d be able to watch the pond while seated on the sofa!

We need to replace our dishwasher with one that’s black and quieter. The master bathroom still needs additional storage/cabinets. To do everything will take time. We’re doing it all slowly. The guest room and the great room window are my priorities, but we’re comfortable even if we don’t do anything further.

We’re really glad we didn’t move. The place may be smaller than we’d like, but the view is unequaled. (Eight of the photos I’m including in my coffeetable photo book photos which were mentioned prominently in yesterday’s post were the view out our great room window.)

When seated in our great room, we are far enough from other condos, that we really can’t see other people closely enough to recognize them. (We’re more than a city block from those condos in our view. Only when golfers are teeing off from the short tee directly behind our condo, can we “see” individuals and that’s only early in the day. Actually watching the golfers is a sport of its own and I’d miss it, if we didn’t have their antics to observe.

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More fun stuff!

We’ve been totally enjoying our time in Florida.

Just since last Tuesday (a week ago today), we’ve attended a pool party and a ballroom dance (both on Tuesday evening), a Sportsman’s club meeting and couples dance class Wednesday, a trip to Busch Gardens Thursday where we enjoyed Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis (formerly lead singers for the Fifth Dimension) followed by an evening of dancing, Friday an early dinner meeting with our financial adviser, My booka Saturday potluck dinner, a music jam at the home of friends and a 50’s and 60’s dance Sunday, a chorus practice and dance class Monday, and tonight a lip sync show. And nearly every morning John’s played pickleball, I’ve gone to the pool, and he’s attended a couple pickleball clinics. Whew! We’re trying to crowd in everything.

Somehow I also found time to edit a coffeetable photo book which I submitted for private publication. The cover’s the photo on the right. You can see the pictures by clicking the link: Coffeetable photos. It’ll be a nice way to recall the good times we’ve spent down here.

We’ll be going home on May 6th or 7th. We want to have all the fun we can.

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Can’t do anything about the weather

Today I posted to Facebook: “Is anyone else beside me worried about the impact of this warm weather? I fear the lack of snow will lower the Great Lakes even further (they’re already low). We have a place in the U.P. and I fear our Lake Michigan shoreline beach will never “return.” And what about mold and bugs (black flies, ticks, etc.) that are usually killed off by the winter cold? The apple, cherry and grape crops (along with all the other fruits grown in Michigan) will be devastated, if there’s a cold spell now. And I’ve heard the winter wheat did not germinate as it would have if there’d been a normal winter. Even here in Florida, where we had a warmer than normal winter, I see the increase in bugs and little critters. Yes, we’ve had lovely temps, more than 10 degrees on average warmer here in Florida, but we may pay the price.”

A California friend replied, “Yes, I am worried…our town depends on the snow, and we haven’t had much this year :(”

And a friend from the Traverse City area said, “We need water badly. The fire danger is high. Our hotels, restaurants and retail establishments had a very rough season. I am seeing a few more ‘closed until May’ signs than other years. I think the bugs will be very bad this year as there is usually a bit of a kill off with the cold weather.”

She said, “You are very correct that this year will be different. We cannot worry about it, as it will happen. Worry should only be spent on that which we can change.”

And one optimistic response said, “The Earth will be fine – it has withstood global greenhouse, global ice age, toxic atmosphere, meteor assaults, crashing of the continents, and at least two mass extinctions. In 10,000 years none of this will matter.”

Yes, life will go on, but we will probably “pay” for the warm weather we are currently enjoying.

We can’t do anything to change it and it doesn’t do any good to worry, but we will need be prepared to respond in appropriate ways.

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The Lost is Found!

Today I was determined to find two “mislaid” items (which have been missing for a couple months): a USB thumb drive and my Edirol digital recorder. It took about an hour of searching.

The recorder is only about 4″ x 2.5″ x 1″ so it’s not a large item. (About the size of a deck of cards.) It was stored in a fitted black leather case. The thumb drive less than 3″ long and only about an inch wide and 3/8″ thick. I knew they were both here…. someplace.

It’s funny how I over overlooked a small compartment in my computer bag where the USB drive was hiding. And, with the recorder, I’d forgotten that we out-grew ONE shoebox-size plastic box so, before we left Michigan, I added a second box to hold some of the recording equipment.

There were TWO IDENTICAL shoebox-size plastic storage boxes stored under a dresser in the guestroom. I kept going back to the front shoe box, but I was only looking in the first of the two. The second box was pushed out of view but once I remembered there were two, it was easy to find the recorder.

The lost is now found. Feels good!

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Soon We’ll Head Home

John and I have loved our months down here. We arrived October 6th. Originally our plan was to leave for Michigan about April the 27th. But as that date approaches, we’ve found reasons to delay our departure.

John has pointed out that traffic at the end of April will be heavier than a few days later because many snowbirds who rent pay through the end of the month and then clog the northbound highways. Besides we have an “Oldies but Goodies” dance on April the 29th.

There’s also a Michigan Club Kentucky Derby Party on the 5th of May that sounds like a lot of fun!

But we really should leave for Michigan by the 7th or 8th of May at the latest since John has a doctor’s appointment on the 11th which we’ve already changed once.

We’ll see. Every day is precious when we know we’re “short timers.”

We’ll need to decide before April 1st because our mail forwarding ends on April 4th. Mail forwarding cannot be established at a “temporary” address for longer than six months so when I set up our forwarding on October 4th, I had to set the return date no later than April 4th. I can CANCEL that temporary forwarding and set a new return date, but I’d like to be certain that what I set up is accurate. We can have the post office “hold our mail” for up to 30 days, so I could cancel the forwarding and put in a “hold” but it’s not convenient for us to go to the post office about 10 miles away.

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I need a secretary

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s I was a secretary for several product managers at Dow Chemical Company. I booked their trips and rooms, filed their papers, covered for them with their wives, and brought them coffee.

Later in the 1980’s I worked for the Saginaw Gears Hockey, again as a secretary, this time to the owner, Wren Blair. (I did everything from taking his car to a car wash, picking up his dry cleaning, and renting a condo for him.) He was demanding but I learned a lot.

But by the time I worked at Saginaw Valley as the Supervisor of Secretaries and later when I worked as secretary for the Vice President of St. Mary’s Medical Center, I could see that “secretaries” were being phased out. They were becaming “assistants.” Somehow “secretary” became an antiquated term and those remaining “secretaries” expected a defined “job description.” No longer were they versatile.

Whatever the current title, I need someone to get me organized. Today I was looking for a thumb drive. I know I loaned it out a month or so ago but it was returned. Now I have no idea where it is. And I can’t find some important documents and I’m hoping we can get everything together for taxes.

I know we’re not organized. We need help. We/I need an old-fashioned, help-me-do-everything, SECRETARY or assistant, or whatever your call them. I don’t need someone who won’t make coffee because it’s not in her job description. I need someone who will “take charge” and fix the mess our paper work is in. I need someone who will clean-up my work area when I don’t feel like it and search for papers when I’m too tired.

What I need is a good old fashioned SECRETARY! Do they still exist?

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Feeling Secure

Everyone has their own items that make them feel secure. Maybe it’s an especially soft pillow you love. Maybe it’s the smell of a pot roast cooking. Maybe you feel safe when you have a pot of money in the bank (or under your mattress). Everyone has their own ways of feeling comfortable and safe. (I think for guys it’s the feeling that their car just got a 10-point check-up, or maybe a full tank of gas, a new spare tire and jumper cables in the trunk.)

For me it’s toilet paper. I really love having a large stash of toilet paper (or, as I say when I’m feeling “classy,” … toilet tissue.)

Side note: Is it toilet “paper” or toilet “tissue”? I vote for toilet paper. In my teen years, I remember some kids vandalizing the “popular kids’ houses by throwing rolls of toilet paper in the trees at their homes. That was called, “Getting TP-ed,” not “TT-ed”.)

I am most comfortable with a whole supply of TP and other paper products in the house. Napkins, kleenex, even an ample supply of paper for my printer helps add to my security.

Yesterday, on my birthday, we went shopping at Sam’s Club in Riverview. John got us a 36-count triple-roll package of my favorite brand of toilet paper, Charmin Ultra Soft.

I’m content.

Ok, so it sounds like I’m telling too much information about me, but it has nothing to do with bodily functions. It’s more to do with knowing that you have what is necessary to make your home feel complete.

At home in Michigan, we have three bathrooms plus a fifth wheel parked beside our house with another toilet (and I generally tuck away a huge quantity in the fifth wheel in closets and under counters so that we’re never short when we’re using that home-away-from-home.) Here in our Florida condo, we have only two “facilities.” Somehow knowing that we don’t have the same “fall back” provisions we can resort to (steal from) bothers me here.

But with his purchase yesterday, John solved the problem until we head home at the end of April.

Come to think of it, when we came down here in October, I brought all we had from our home in Michigan, so I’ll need to bring back an emergency supply until we can get to the store.

Side note number two: I thought this was just my quirk, but I have a good friend who admitted to me that she too needs an over abundance of paper products for comfort. — Ok, we’re weird.

Maybe in my childhood I was deprived, although I don’t recall any such trauma. We were a typical ’50’s family with a three bedroom, one bathroom house.

But somewhere my security blanket has become a stash of TP.

And right now I’m happy!!

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My Next “Big” Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. Now I can brag/complain that on my next “big” birthday, I’ll be 80. Wow, that’s old!! Of course, if I don’t get a shocked expression from the person I’m talking to I’ll never speak to them again… ever!

But yesterday, on my 70th, enjoyed a nice (quiet) birthday.

There was a great sale at Beall’s (my favorite Florida store), so after noon I went shopping alone (so I didn’t have to worry about John getting bored). Found some cute stuff: white capris that fit like a dream, black city shorts, turquoise glitzy top (wore last night), bright striped sheer top with a camisole, and a short black and white versatile dress.

Since our membership is about to expire, we went to Sam’s Club in Riverview for some items which we always purchase there.

Then we met a group of ten friends (the Conklins, Brooks, Coopers, Ringenbacks, and Bakers) at Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. It was fun. Cindy brought a cute little plant for me, and Stephen re-gifted his Bonita Fruitville calendar. I was honored since Bonita was the “star” of the Drag Queen Bingo Friday night and she’d personally presented it to Stephen (aka “Ralph”). (Unfortunately in a typical senior moment, the calendar was left in a box on the table, but I called the restaurant and it’s being held for me in their safe until I can stop and claim it.)

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Drag Queen Bingo

An evening with friends in Sarasota at the Golden Apple Dinner Theater. Really different experience. It wasn’t what we expected and not really our “cup of tea” but we were with a great bunch of good sports. “Ralph” won a bottle of wine and got a hug from one of the “ladies.” John was wished a happy birthday.

Everyone always teases us about going to Florida where the “old folks” do nothing but play bingo. Finally got to play… “Drag Queen Bingo.” I won’t say more. We promised that whatever happened at Drag Queen Bingo stayed at Drag Queen Bingo.

Didn’t get home until after midnight, high on iced tea. (Couldn’t sleep.)

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John’s Birthday March 1st

John’s birthday last night was a great reason to celebrate but, because we’re going out with friends tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday, we decided to celebrate the actually day with just the two of us.

We went dancing at the clubhouse from 4:00-5:45. By then we were hungry. We’d heard about a place that serves freshly caught fish located in Ruskin. It’s a carry-out place with seating in front but our plan was to get our dinners as “carry-out” and take our meals to watch the sun set over Tampa Bay at our favorite sunset site, Little Harbor.

The place was packed, a fun atmosphere! Our food took a while but while waiting we chatted with other diners.

Being a blabbermouth, I had mentioned to the lady taking our order that it was John’s birthday (so he got his choice of a dessert, keylime pie). When they had our order ready she announced the occasion over the mic and the whole crowd, about 40-50 friendly diners, sang to him.

We’d been watching the sun slip behind the trees on its way to the horizon. As soon as the food came, we dashed to the car and as quickly as we could, we drove to Little Harbor. We just barely caught the setting sun over Tampa Bay. It was lovely!
Little Harbor
After the sun had set, we returned to our car overlooking the bay where we ate our great fresh fish dinners, and drank a glass of wine. It was definitely different than any other birthday celebration but sometimes those that are “different” are the most memorable.

By 7:30 we were back home where John cut his German chocolate birthday cake.

Tonight we’re going to Sarasota to take in “Drag Queen Bingo” in Sarasota with about 15 folks. Then Saturday we have a Baby Boomers dance and Sunday we’ll again enjoy birthday celebrating at Ruby Tuesday’s with a bunch of our friends.

John loved his birthday celebration.

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