Archive forAugust, 2012

Already Heading South

Wayne and Linda are the first of our “snowbird” friends to head back to Florida. They’re leaving next Wednesday (Sept. 5th, I think) and taking their time returning to their place in Florida.

They have been camping and living in their fifth wheel since April. They’re more than ready to get “home” to our Kings Point community.

Our plans are to leave on October 3rd. That’s a month from Monday (five weeks from tomorrow).

Today John picked some of his grapes so he can get them processed for wine and he said the others he grew are ripe and ready for picking.

He’s also working to finish siding the east side of the house. When he completes that side, he’ll have wrapped up that the project for 2012. He still has about a week of work to do but when that’s done, we should be able to leave on schedule.

I’ve been trying to assemble the stuff I want to take to Florida. I’ve been moving items to the “staging area” in the dining room. I won’t officially get started putting things into the bins that I use for packing until two weeks before we leave. That way I won’t have to “unpack” if I need to use something.

I’m jealous of Linda and Wayne. They live in their fifth wheel so they don’t have to “pack anything.” They just hook up and drag it all south.

But honestly I’m glad we have until October to enjoy Michigan’s wonderful fall weather. In a month I will be ready to leave – especially if the weather changes to typical cool, rainy fall temperatures!

Part of the reason I want to get back to the sunny south is because John does much better in Florida than he does here. (We both do.) We feel healthier and more energetic.

So soon we’ll be packing for our southern home, but we have more than a month to enjoy Michigan, Michigan weather, and Michigan fun. It’s the loveliest time of the year here. Hope by early October it’ll turn dern cold so we’ll feel good about leaving.

The geese are already heading south for the winter. Almost time for these “snow birds” to do the same.

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Following Isaac

I’ve been following the stories about Isaac as he attacks New Orleans as a category 1 hurricane.

Last night, I checked and found the strangest weather report for New Orleans. It said “78 degrees and SNOW!”:

It stayed that way for about an hour.

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Great Purchases

I’ve been in a “shopping mood” lately. I’m thinking ahead to events which we have on our calendar for Florida.

So I went shopping on Found three super cute dresses which will work great for Baby Boomers, Oldies But Goodies, and other dances. The invoice was a total of $103 for the three with shipping!! Can’t beat that!

I also added to my wardrobe with some eBay purchases. One item was a cute gray loose top which you wear over a camisole because it is worn off shoulder for only $6.50.

I know I don’t dress “appropriately” for a 70-year-old senior citizen, but when I wear things that make me feel good, I don’t feel 70.

I was afraid the black tiered one would be too short, but John likes it. It just comes to my knees – not as short as it appears in the picture. (I’m 5’2″ and the model is probably close to 6′.) It will be perfect for our ballroom dances.

With these for “inspiration” I am hoping to lose about 15 pounds. (I’m back on the old Weight Watchers Point System which I used in 2007 to lose 20 pounds over a three month period. I hope I’ll be as successful this time. (I want to lose the weight, but not so much that I look older.)

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Blue Skies and Nice Weather

It’s a lovely day: 83 degrees with beautiful blue skies.

John and I are on our way back home from our five-day stay in the Upper Peninsula. We have about an hour to go.

Yesterday it rained all day, so we stayed inside, played music and relaxed. (John needed some get-away time because he works way too hard.)

We were up early this morning, packed and winterized the place, and were on the road home a little past 10:00.

It’s amazing that our place never seems to change, despite our neglect of it. We really don’t invest time, energy nor finances in the place, but it holds up amazingly well. It’s just a very humble old (12 x 50 ft.) trailer. It has two small bedrooms, a bath, and a kitchen/dining room/living room combination. We added a 12 x 20 deck a few years ago and a tin roof at the same time so it’s protected from massive snow build-up.

Two nights ago, something tried to scratch it’s way through the wall when we were trying to sleep. We both heard it, but nothing was visible when John went out to confront the critter. He also looked in the morning, but didn’t spot any traces of a “break in.” We’ll know when we come back next year.

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Hungry Birds

When we were up her (in the U.P.) last year, we left a hummingbird feeder hanging under the roof of our deck. Since no one’s been for a year, of course it’s empty.

While I was enjoying the view last night, a tiny, ruby-throated hummingbird came right up to me, and then went to the feeder then back to me. It was like he was saying, “Been waiting for you to get back her and re-fill this thing.”

Guess I better get busy before I have “Angry Birds” after me.


Got the feeder re-filled and the little hummingbirds are enjoying it.

At one point there were three or four of them flitting around.

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We should be pretty good at packing. In July, we packed our truck and trailer to go to our big festival in Evart. The first part of August, we packed truck and trailer to go to Gladwin’s Carriage Days where we camped. Now. at the end of August, we’re headed to our place in the Upper Peninsula for five days. We left home about two hours ago in our truck. (The trailer stayed home.) And in a month, October 3rd, we’ll pack BACK up and head to Florida.

Each adventure is different. For the festivals, we’re responsible for lots of extras. We feel like we’re bringing everything (including the kitchen sink.) Our supplies include: an E-Z-Up canopy, lots of folding chairs, and a multitude of items for the workshops.

But when it comes to “packing” when we’re using the trailer most everything (clothing, food, etc.) just goes in place. The closets are filled, bed made, medicine cabinet filled, kitchen stocked, and the refrigerator holds the stuff from our home refrigerator. Yes, packing takes some time, but with a trailer, we do it gradually over several weeks, and when we take off from Saginaw, the back seat of the truck is usually just loaded with boxes of programs which are distributed at the festival, so when we return home 10 to 12 days later, it’s empty.

Going to the U.P. is much more difficult. We have only the truck (back seat and covered truck bed) to hold stuff. Since we only go once a year and stay for about a week, John doesn’t leave tools up there. Our bedding gets hauled back and forth (including pillows). Canned goods go back and forth. (We’ve tried leaving stuff there, but everything freezes over the winter, and canned goods change consistency after being frozen.) The only stuff which stays in our place from year to year are the furnishings, some cleaning products, some paper products, and cookware. This time we’re even bring a TV set up there. Any paper products or staples (spices, etc) which are left behind get stored in a metal garbage can (only used for that purpose), so the mice can’t get into them.

John brings along a lawn mower and an air compressor (to blow out the water lines for the winter, when we’re ready to head home).

We’ve learned that mice can get in no matter how secure we make the place so we don’t risk leaving anything that would make a nest. Pillows are hauled back and forth, as well as sheets, blankets, towels, etc.

The truck is totally loaded (truck bed and the back seat)!

When we pack for Florida, in about a month, we hope to have a much lighter load than we have today as we head up north. Yes, there are some electronic items which go back and forth to Florida (printer and paper supplies), and some clothes, but except for a cooler, we don’t need to worry about food. Most everything is in place in the condo. We have ample bedding and linens waiting for our return. Favorite clothing items make the trip with us, but we could get by with what’s there. Those items should all fit in the back end of the truck. John’ll bring his bike on a carrier on the back. A full load, yes, but not like this time.

Our instruments (banjo, dulcimer(s), autoharp, sax, and my new marimbula), take up a lot of room in back seat both when heading to Florida and when we head to the U.P. And half of the back seat is reserved for Charlie, our cockatiel and his big cage. But we won’t feel like we used a shoe-horn to get it all in.

By October, when we pack for Florida, we should be pretty good at it.

To make it easier, I will start preparing for our October 3rd departure as soon as we get home next week.

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Cute Cartoon

Senior humor is fun. No, John hasn’t ever asked that question, and he sure doesn’t look like that old guy, but as long as we can laugh at our lumpy bodies, we’re doing ok.

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Keeping our Calendar organized

Looking ahead to October, when we’ll be in Florida, we already have a bunch of social events planned and a couple doctors’ appointments. Good thing I keep a detailed calendar because we’d never keep it all straight.

Between now and our departure for the sunny South, I have lots to keep me busy here. Most of it is WORK, but we’ll stop and play some.

Wednesday we head to the U.P. for a few days. I’m actually looking forward to it. Last year we had a surprising good time despite a list of crises which should have spoiled the visit. I guess it’s all in the attitude.

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Creating a “new me”

I’m in an uncomfortable position in my life: A time of change.

I’ve been Vice President of the Original Dulcimer Players Club since June and Workshop Chairman since 1996. When I took the Vice President job a few months ago, I made it clear that my role was a temporary one as a fill-in. But when nominations to fill the job for a full term were open, I thought seriously about running for the office. I decided against it when I realized that there were two other capable people who wanted the position.

And recently it was suggested to me that, because of my age, I may want to find a replacement in my job as “workshop chairman.” I’ve done it for 17 years! After careful thought, I decided that it might be “time,” so I’ve been asking if there’s anyone willing to step up and take over my chairmanship role.

I guess, in my dream world, folks would say “NO! YOU CAN’T!!!” But it’s dawning on me that someone else can do the job. I’ll be replaced, and the “show will go on.”

But what about me? What will I do, who will I be? I am realizing that much of my identity has been centered on my involvement with the ODPC. I have enjoyed doing my job to the best of my ability.

I am trying to imagine what it will feel like when I am not Workshop Chairman. I have a fall-back role as Webmaster, but even that is a job which could end, based on the feelings and needs of “the Board of the ODPC.” Maybe that too will change over time.

Of course I still do website design, moderating of lists, and I’m involved with the Michigan Club in Florida (could even take a more active role there) and could be more involved in lots of other organizations.

What I really need to do is to become “more involved” in my own home here in Saginaw, so I feel more connected to it.

But maybe I’m getting too old to be worrying about having an important job to do.

Is it really necessary for my “identity?” Maybe I need to relax and accept that I can just enjoy life without “working” so hard to prove my worth.

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Head North?? Stay Home??

We have been planning to take a trip to our place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula next week. We haven’t been up there since last August. We figure we should “check on things.” According to the itinerary we had envisioned, we’d leave home Monday, the day after John’s family reunion, and stay up north for 5-7 days.

Unfortunately it’s cool up there now, and every day it will be even colder with rain predicted about every other day.

Maybe we could cancel our plans to go to the reunion and leave this Friday. If we stay only about five days before the temperatures fall, it might work. But even then, we’d be plagued with rain.

John has really wanted to go, but the cost of driving over 700 miles (round trip) to spend several days fighting bugs while enduring cold, damp weather isn’t really appealing to him. We may stay home. I wouldn’t mind not going at all!!


Few days later…

The weather forecast has changed. Next week looks lovely – mid 70’s. We will wait until Wednesday, the 22nd, to go up north. We’ll stay until Monday, the 27th. We’ll drive the truck up so we can tote instruments, bedding, pillows, food, lounge chairs, TV set and everything else we need to be comfortable. I’m looking forward to the time in the U.P.

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Summary of the Camping Weekend

Here’s a wrap-up of our Saginaw Subterranean Hammered Dulcimer Club’s performance/camping weekend at Carriage Days in Gladwin:

When it came to weather, we had it all! The rain and cold made for a miserable Thursday and Friday (about 8″ of rain and highs in the 60’s) but we had a decent Saturday, and Sunday couldn’t have been prettier. The crowd was still scarce, but we had a good play in the reenactor area.

As far as the music and our friends, we enjoyed them completely! Our group of club members was smaller than some years, but we certainly fit together nicely and had a good time! Someone commented that our music was better with a small group because we stayed together.

Unfortunately the Carriage Days organizers haven’t figured out how to arrange the schedule to work for us and we came away with the feeling that they were having a hard time fitting us in. We were made to feel we were “in the way.” Too often we had to compete with over-amplified music and the idea that they had two music groups scheduled at the same time, under the same roof, is unthinkable.

As a camping location, it is perfect. Lovely shady campsites, with hookups. And the organizers seem to be determined to make the event work, but we may have to pass next year. True, they give us “free” camping, but each member spent much, much more than just the cost of camping. The fuel to get there was about three times the cost of the campsite.

So the weekend was a mixture of fun and disappointments and uncertainty about our future involvement with Carriage Days.

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Our camping weekend dried out

This weekend has been disappointing. The weather, until today, was horrid. Cold and rainy. Today improved dramatically. Temps in the 60’s and sunny.

The little festival sprang to life. The parade this morning had been cancelled. Our performance was scheduled from 2:30-5:15 in the big Swine Barn. As it turned out, I’d misunderstood. We started setting up on the stage but were told we were scheduled in the opposite end of the barn, while another act was on the stage. (Can you imagine how that would work with two groups’ sounds mixing under the same roof?) But we worked out a staggered schedule with the other act.

After setting up our sound equipment we played for an hour. The other act took the stage at 3:30 and finished about 4:15. We resumed our playing until about 5:10.

We had only one or two loyal listeners. The lack of audience was discouraging, and for the last 45 minutes, the smoke from a blacksmith demo outside the door overwhelmed us.

This evening we had a pleasant pizza party at the home of our local members (Caroline and Bob Brinkman). The conversation was lively and fun. Nice folks!

Tomorrow we’ll enjoy a group breakfast and at noon a 90-minute performance.

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If it’s Carriage Days it must be raining

Since 2008, Saginaw Subterranean Strings, the group John and I lead, have been playing for a small festival at the Gladwin (Mi) Fairgrounds. It’s called Carriage Days. We arrived this afternoon. This is the fifth time we’ve been here.

Over the years the festival has been plagued with bad weather. In 2008, we had cool weather: 66 degrees for a daytime high and a low in the low 50s. It also rained several times. Then in 2009, it rained HARD (3+”). In 2010, it rained some but it was the excessive heat and humidity which made it uncomfortable. Last year, some rain, but better than most years. This year it’s supposed to rain all weekend. It’s cool and damp. We’ll hang in there.

It would be a lovely event, if they could get in good with Mother Nature.

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Hunting Geese

We hate geese. They’re messy and pollute our lovely little lake.

Unfortunately their species is “protected” so they’re allowed to “take over” our lawn, our lake, and multiply exponentially, despite the fact that our tiny lake is only 26 acres. Not only that, but in the fall, they invite all “traveling geese” to stop in for a visit (so that, if they like it, they can make plans to return in the spring).

So John has a one-man crusade to chase them away. He watches, and as they approach our lawn, pulls out his pistol shaped bb-gun and takes pot-shots at them. The pellets bounce off their feathers as proof that they are not powerful enough to really hurt them, but it does give us a brief reprieve as they hurry off to a more welcoming neighbor’s lawn.

Since it’s impossible to tell, from a distance, that his gun isn’t a lethal, bullet-shooting handgun, I truly expect the “cops” to raid our house and confiscate his weapon.

Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure his over-shot copper-colored bbs are raising the lake level.

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Rusty old folks

Last night John and I went to the Moose Club for dinner and dancing. The entertainment was a country singer. We got to the club about 6:15. Dinner was okay. (Not my favorite.)

But the evening was fun!

The country singer, Walt Evans, and his back-up keyboardist provided nice music. It was a dancing crowd. Three or four line-dance ladies, and probably a half dozen couples at a time shared the small dance floor. We didn’t try any line-dancing, in part because our routine would have been different than what the ladies were doing and the difference would have messed them (and us) up.

We found out just how rusty we were. We had definitely forgotten a lot. It probably wouldn’t take long to get back in the swing of things, but we ran out of steam easily and were challenged to keep together.

That duo plays at the Moose on the first Saturday of each month.

We’ll be out of town next weekend (Gladwin Carriage Days from the 9th to the 12th), and we’ll probably go to our place in the U.P. From about the 21st to the 26th, so this month, even if we could find more opportunities, we really don’t have a lot of available time for dancing.

I noticed the crowd was approximately the same age as the crowd we are with in Florida. Maybe it’s just that people our age like moving our bodies to a nice, slow, country beat.

With folks our age, it’s really good that line dancing is popular. It allows single. dance-loving ladies the opportunity to take to the floor. And dance they did. Hardly missed a tune and were still going strong when we left.

We’ll be back on September 1st.

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My stash

About six months ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Feeling Secure,” about how feel most comfortable when I have an ample supply of toilet tissue. I love to be “stocked up” and get rather anxious when I see my supply dwindle.

But I am realizing there are other items I “stash.” This week, with a purchase from, I added to some of the items I consider “staples” — items I want to have in reserve. I am now feeling prepared and contented.

Of course buying quantities of items means that there is more to haul back and forth to Florida. When heading back, I’ll pack two unopened boxes of envelopes (two sizes); two reams of paper; extra ink jet cartridges; still sealed liquid makeup; unopened bottles of vitamin D tablets, allergy meds and ibuprofen; a new bottle of perfume, and several new tubes of lipstick (all the same shade). (These items could all be purchased in Florida or Michigan. I just “feel better” when I have my own supply.)

I am now set so I won’t have to order/buy stuff for a while. I love that feeling of having what I need without having to go shopping for it. Nothing I buy will spoil nor go out of style. My practice is to I get several when I find a deal so I’m always prepared. You never know when one of those items will be in short supply and I won’t be able to get what I need.

I have my stash. Life is good!

But come to think of it, we need to buy more toilet paper.

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Allergy Season has Arrived!

Every year since I was a teenager, I’ve had to fight seasonal and mold allergies. I’ve gone through all kinds of treatment plans including year-round weekly injections which were intended to gradually build up my resistance. And of course, I’ve tried every medication available. My problems have lessened over the years. I thought I was out-growing the problem or maybe my improvement is the result of better the over-the-counter medications. Zyrtec is my drug of choice (and a generic version can be purchased cheaply). I take it year-round because I never get away from mold completely.

Generally the worst time for me starts near the end of August and fades gradually as cold weather arrives (about late September).

This was a strange year with 80 degrees in February, and no real winter. As a result, many weed seeds (and bugs) didn’t totally die off. Trees bloomed early, the whole timetable was messed up.

Yesterday, after I’d opened all the windows to let in the fresh air, I realized the allergy season has arrived. I don’t know if it’s ragweed, or some other trigger, but all that “fresh air” did it! I couldn’t quit sneezing. I doubled up on my Zyrtec, then added another.

Looks like it’s going to be a miserable period and I’ll be stuck inside but there’s lot I need to do inside anyway. Life is still good, as long as I have my Zyrtec.

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