Archive forApril, 2012

Being Silly

At last night’s Oldies But Goodies dance someone discovered that the red wax cover on Baby Bell cheese works great as a clown nose. We got pretty silly but it was fun. Our friend, Stephen, took the photo (below).


There were 20 of us at two tables next to each other. We had a very nice time. Three of the couples will be leaving early this next week so we had lots of hugs and good-byes. (John and I have only a week before we head north but we’ll be able to say good-bye at the Michigan Club’s Kentucky Derby Party on the 5th.)

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My Photo Book

Here’s a link to a book I had printed of some of my Florida photos. This isn’t an advertisement for the service I used. I just want to make the photos available for you to see.

Our Florida, my photo book.

The first copy they printed had a slight defect in the binding, but it was redone at no cost to me, and I was allowed to keep both. I was very pleased. I will have one in Michigan and one here in Florida. Both will be coffee table books.

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Creative Writing Club

Yesterday I attended the Creative Writing Club for the first time this year. The format of the “meeting” is very relaxed. We gather around a table and read things we’ve written. I selected three brief essays from my posts.

  • Arguing with My GPS – posted February 3, 2012
  • How Old Am I? – posted September 23, 2011
  • Too Nice – posted November 17, 2011

    These weren’t “ha-ha” funny, but rather a look at life through my eyes.

    I totally enjoyed hearing the contributions others brought to the meeting. What a great group of unique people! I’m sorry I haven’t attended more of their twice monthly sessions.

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    Farewell Party

    John and Ron CookingToday about 25 of us got together for a “farewell party” before any more left for the summer.

    Linda Ringenback was the hostess with the help of Renay Andren. Linda’s husband, Ron, was in charge of the grill with my husband, John, as his assistant. It was held in the gazebo at the North Clubhouse. The facility is lovely. The clubhouse provided a large grill, ice, tables, and chairs. It was much easier on the hosts to have it in there.

    The meal was great! a wonderful spread of bar-be-qued chicken, hot dogs, sausage, a lovely salad, lots of great desserts, hor devours, vegetable salad, layered jello. Everything was really good. We had rain and cool temperatures about noon, but it cleared up and was lovely.

    What a great bunch of friends!

    We’d planned to go swimming, but the weather didn’t cooperate so we stayed in the gazebo.

    Janet and SherryIn the above photo, you can see Ron and John on the grill and Janet Outhwaite and Sherry Walker in the lower picture.

    It sounds like everyone would be agreeable to putting on a gathering (or several of them) next year. Two or three couples could host each of these events. It’s lots less work than doing it in your home.

    We even did a little dancing to music provided by our friends, Bill and Donna Markland.

    Janet and Doug are leaving Tuesday, Caroline and Stephen this next week, and others will soon follow.

    The weather up north is reported to be miserable anyway, so we sure aren’t anxious to leave here until it’s warmer there, but according to the forecast, that will happen by May 8th, when we plan to arrive at our Michigan home.

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    Two weeks….

    What to do? What to do?? So much to accomplish, so little time.

    Yesterday I cancelled our first night motel reservations because, after reading the confirmation, I discovered that any changes/cancellations would have to be made by noon the day before. That just wouldn’t do. What if we had bad weather and decided postpone our departure by a day or two?

    So I called the motel to cancel the reservation I’d made a couple of weeks ago. I got an understanding front desk worker who told me I needed to cancel the reservation through the website where I’d made them. Then if I’d call him back, he’d make sure we got the same room, same deal, without the absurd penalty in case we needed to make last minute changes. He also put us in their “prime room” (Room 123) on the first floor because that’s where they prefer to put senior citizens. I guess there are a few perks to reaching “maturity.”

    There are a lot of things I need to do before we leave. In addition to motel reservations, I need to print coupons for restaurant discounts and since most of those have less than a two week “use by” restriction, I need to wait to do them. There are also things to do for both here and for Saginaw: newspapers delivery, magazines subscriptions, car insurance (currently we have our truck and Malibu in “storage.” When we head back, the Jaguar will be “stored.” Before we leave, our lanai furniture will need to be moved to the garage, refrigerator cleaned out, stuff stored in the refrigerator, all the last-minute laundry done, and of course packing.

    Just before we take of, I’ll take photos of everything in drawers, closets, the pantry, and refrigerator. It helps to know where items are when we look for them and we aren’t sure if we left them in Florida or if they’re in Saginaw.

    Packing is difficult. I always take back too much stuff, but miss the items I need.

    Some years I’ve tested the “take it all back with me” theory and other times, I’ve tried leaving everything in Florida. This year, I think I’ll go with a moderate approach. I’ll bring back my favorites, but leave an ample wardrobe in Florida so I could “get by,” if we decided to fly in instead of driving.

    I maintain a packing list. The list has a column to indicate what will make the “round trip” and what will go north and stay there.

    Eventually I hope to have it all figured out so the process is smoother and I actually know what I need to take back. As it is, I’ll probably take the wrong stuff and wish I had items that I left behind.

    This year, I’m doing one thing differently. I’ve always left behind modems, routers, and printers so everything was working when I walked in the condo. But I’m toting my favorite Lexmark all-in-one printer back and forth with me this time. It uses ink more efficiently than any other printer I own, but I’ve found a lot evaporates when I leave it in Florida over the summer. I’m going to box it up and take it back. It’s the only printer I own that works wirelessly and I hate to revert to cables. (I have a total of five working printers!)

    I also need to have my Original Dulcimer Players Club workshop scheduling materials printed out and/or loaded in my computer so I can work on the huge scheduling task while we drive the 1,300 miles northward.

    So I have two weeks to get it all done. And between now and when we leave, I need to absorb enough fun and sun to carry me through until we can get back to this paradise!

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    Lovebugs are back

    love bugsYup! No doubt about it. They’re here and pesky. They don’t bite, buzz or stink, but they’re annoying because there are so many of them.

    And when you drive through them, they stick to your car. Their bodies contain a substance that will eat through your paint surface. So the only ones who like these pests are car washing businesses.

    You see them flying around in tandem. The female pulls the male around.

    Usually they appear twice a year, spring and fall. The fall hatching this year was small but last year’s spring appearance was larger than anyone could remember. Hope we don’t have a repeat this year. (Last year they were so overwhelming that folks just stayed inside.)

    It’s somehow just not right for them to flaunt their sexuality so blatanly.

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    The back (inside) of the refrigerator

    When they leave their condos for long periods, some folks clean out their refrigerator completely and shut off the power to it. We don’t. We’ve been told that refrigerators last longer if they aren’t put through the trauma of being shut off and turned on again with hot and cold extremes. So we will try to use up the food that’s currently filling the unit, but ketshup, mustard, salad dressings, and other staples will be left in the refrigerator and some items will be in the freezer.

    I’m think that it might be good to store non-food stuff in the freezer or refrigerator. Aspirin, perfume, vitamins, cold products, even shampoo, cream rinse, and liquid detergents might do well in the refrigerator. We’ve found those items are affected by heat and leaving them in the condo shortens their shelf-life. (With liquids like shampoo, they tend to “thicken.” Hopefully that’ll mean we’ll have more success keeping items from being wasted when we come back in the fall.

    When we return in September or October, we’ll make sure we have a frozen pizza and maybe some coffee to tide us over until we can get to the store.

    John, who’s our cook, is trying to use up all of the perishables. Between now and when we leave, we’ll try to make sure everything is consumed. John was looking into the refrigerator tonight commented that he can now see the inside (back) of it. We’re getting there!

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    Are they back?

    Last May we heard that the lovebugs had arrived in mass!!! Everyone complained that they spoiled everything that was outdoors.

    I just saw a couple pairs of them. I sure hope they won’t disrupt our last three weeks down here!!

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    Neglected Plants

    I remember the first time I walked to the little ravine behind my mother’s condo and saw huge philodendron plants climbing up large trees. I was sure my mother had taken houseplants and had disposed of them in the ravine. But now I realize philodendron plants grow in the wild around here.

    Of course, some are planted purposefully, and when cultivated, they can “take over” the area.

    We have a sidewalk that runs along the side of our condo from our driveway to the main entrance. There are split-leaf philodendrons in the space between the sidewalk and the house. John keeps them trimmed-back, but when we return in the fall, we’ll have to fight our way through them to get to the door. They grow so fast that sometimes I think that if I watch carefully I can see them increase in size.

    The weather encourages growth in this part of Florida. But plants are sensitive. Sometimes the heat is too much, and the rare winter frosts can kill them. If it’s not the heat or the frost, I can often find a way to “do them in.”

    We brought three orchids back down with us when we returned in October. We’d purchased some of them in Florida, and some in Michigan. They haven’t done anything this season. I totally ignored them. John figured he’d just stick them in the ground where they will receive enough moisture and maybe, with luck, they’d eventually fluorish. But surprise! When he got ready to plant them, he discovered one is covered with buds (eight of them.) My neglect paid off.

    arboricolaWe brought a tiny 3″ potted poinsettia one year when we came down. After the holiday, we stuck it in the ground. When we returned the following year, it was nearly 2′ high covered with lovely flowers. By the next year, it was HUGE! The frost got that one a couple years ago, but we planted two this year, and hopefully when we come back in October, they’ll still be growing.

    The heat of summer can also “do in” a plant. A newly-planted bird of paradise was dead when we came back last fall, but our “foundation plantings” are surviving nicely. They’re two-tone arbicola (the photo on the left). The ones down here are lovely, while the potted ones we have up north are scrawny even though we make sure they are watered while we’re away.

    We’ve given up having “house plants.” They don’t do well when we leave them alone. We had a nice 5′ palm tree which we tried moving outside thinking it would grow over the summer, but because it was newly planted, the hot summer almost did it in. It’s just now coming back but it’s still only about 18″ tall.

    So some plants survive nicely and others don’t make it. It’ll be nice when we figure out which is which.

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    Florida’s smoking policy doesn’t go far enough!!!

    I am hoping that someday Florida’s smoking laws will be changed to match Michigan’s.

    Michigan would not allow many of the practices which we see in Florida..

    Example: At our clubhouse, smoking is allowed on patios, even those where we buy food. In Michigan, that would not be permitted. The Great Lakes State’s rule states that if food is served OR CONSUMED in an area, there can be NO smoking (patios are covered by the ban). Anyplace where a food or liquor license is involved.

    I hate having to stand in line in an area where folks are smoking, but that’s how it works at the South Club in our Kings Point community. The smoking area is clearly an area where folks consume food, and in fact it’s where we buy food. A definite Michigan no-no!

    Here in Florida we can’t go to the Moose Club, because it’s sooooooo smoky. You walk in the door, and it engulfs you. They will say that they have a smoking area (the bar area), so they think they’re helping the non-smokers, but there are large open doorways between the areas, and the food ordering area is in the smoking zone.

    Instead we go to the Elks Lodge because they have banned all smoking. In Michigan, all private clubs come under the rules. If they serve food at all, they cannot allow smoking.

    And how do Florida folks think that having a “smoking area” works? Smoke can’t read signs. When folks at the next table are smoking, who is convinced that the smoke stops at the sign?

    Somehow smokers think that the “outside” belongs to them. If they are “outside” they can light up. But smoke outside is every bit as annoying as inside. (Especially when the air is heavy or humid, smoke settles close to the ground and doesn’t disburse.)

    In Kings Point, there are lots of times when the smoke carries over the pool deck from the smoking area, and is really bad in the pool (because of the way the air moves). Also all of us have to pass through the designated smoking area to enter the clubhouse.

    Here are Michigan’s rules:

    I wonder when Florida will become more considerate of non-smokers. For many of us, it’s not a matter of just our “discomfort.” I am very allergic and lose my voice (sometimes for several days) after being exposed to tobacco smoke and my husband, John, has a lung problem. For him it’s life-threatening. It’s not just disliking the smell.

    We were at a pool party the other day (at a private pool). Three smokers “lit up”. (There were about 30 of us.) My voice started failing me, so we left. (Actually that situation would not have been covered by Michigan’s law because there was no food or liquor license for the area where the party was being held but the smokers at the party may have been made more aware if they were accustomed to following rules for smoking that were more strict.)

    I suppose some would think John could benefit when I lose my voice. He’d have peace and quiet. But neither of us can tolerate exposure to smoke.

    Florida, with all your senior citizens, you should be leading the way. Let’s hope you wise up and protect your residents and guests.

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    I’m Wife #9

    John and I enjoy Wednesday country couples dance classes instructed by Bill Markland. We will have two more weekly classes and then, with Bill heading north, we’ll have to wait until next November for them to resume.

    Donna, Bill’s wife and partner, hurt her shoulder this year, so he’s had to ask several other women to be his substitute “wife/partner” to demonstrate the dances for the class. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been “wife #9.” John was out of commission last week because of his sore leg so he couldn’t dance anyway and I was “available,” but tonight John was back in good form, so I was dancing with Bill for the demos, and then, when the couples worked on their dances, I’d do them with John. That meant I was dancing constantly. It was really fun, and I’m not complaining at all, but we also attended the second hour which is a more advanced class so I danced for nearly two solid hours.

    John said it was good exercise for me and it was. And it was a good time (Bill’s an excellent partner and fun to dance with), but by the end I was dragging.

    Being Bill’s partner was fun and I learned from the experience. I think John liked having me singled out. Glad I don’t have to choose one role, because I’ll always be John’s but I’d hate to have missed being Bill’s Wife #9.

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    Oak Trees

    It’s my understanding that the shade-producing live oak trees which we find all over Kings Point are there because of an agreement.

    When Del Webb developed Sun City Center, he took a swampy wet-land area and drained it. Of course, there were many ecological concerns. Mr. Webb was granted permission provided he would plant “live oaks” which were considered “native” vegetation.

    The area is heavily planted with these trees which are generally festooned with Spanish moss.oak trees

    So what’s the problem?

    Well, in the spring these trees produce massive amounts of yellow pollen, and they’re a very “dirty” tree dropping lots of little leaves and at one time during the season, lots of acorns. We blow away the leaves, we sweep up the acorns, but the pollen is out of our control. It causes severe allergies and covers everything, including our vehicles, with yellow “dust.”

    I found the following information explains why we view the shady oak trees as a mixed blessing.

    Oh, those bloomin’ Florida oak trees . . .easy to love, but so tough to live with
    Posted on February 24, 2012 by Stephen J. Klemawesch, MD

    If you live in Florida you might develop paranoia about oak trees and allergy. Our prodigious oak tree population accounts for the most severe form of our pollen seasons – spring tree season.

    They also provide a home for a special type of fire ant that can drop down on people to sting them. Finally, they can also be a source of Pyemotes herfsi, the oak leaf itch mite. This mite belongs to the biological class Arachnida (which includes all spiders), and to the subclass Acarina. All of the members of this class have 8 legs. Unlike spiders, however, these mites are extremely small – 0.2 millimeters – and are difficult to see with the naked eye.

    They fall off the oak leaves on to unsuspecting people and cause a bite that is extremely itchy. The resultant rash is a red, raised area about the size of a mosquito bite, but with a tiny central pustule or blister.

    The agreement to save the mighty oak allowed Mr. Webb to develop the area. Now we’re stuck with them.

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