Archive forApril, 2013

Too close for comfort

Our departure from Florida will occur May 13th, two weeks from tomorrow. I have a lot of cleaning and packing to accomplish.

Wish I liked cleaning and packing like I do being at the pool but I find the lure of warm water and friends hard to resist.

Between now and the 13th, we have a couple parties and dances. Maybe we just won’t find time to leave.

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Fun weekend (and it’s only half-way through)

Yesterday a bunch of us (close to 30 folks) gathered at the bowling alley on Big Bend Road in Riverview for a birthday party for two of our good friends: Shelly Brooks and Ron Ringenback. It was fun although both John and I bowled lousy!! From there, we went from the alley to Asian Fusion in Apollo Beach for a lovely buffet. It was a totally enjoyable time!

Today was cloudy and overcast. John played pickleball this morning and I should have gone to the pool, but instead we went shopping and didn’t get home until mid-afternoon. After getting home, I worked on the workshops for the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest and the website for that club.

I need to focus on scheduling workshops. It’s a huge job and I really need to apply myself.

Tomorrow night (Sunday), we’ll enjoy an Oldies but Goodies dance with a bunch of our friends. Monday and Tuesday we have pool parties. It’s all so much fun.

This is why I love our time in Florida.

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Toilet seats (probably TMI)

Many women complain when their husbands or other males leave the toilet seat up. Most ladies have had the unpleasant experiencing of “falling in” when we expected the seat down, and it was in an “up” position. The hard, cold porcelain greeting us (or worse the water in the bowl) is a rude awakening (especially in the middle of the night.)

At our house, it’s not a problem. After we both listened to an explanation of the micro-fine, germ-laden mist which envelops the bathroom, when a toilet is flushed, we both vowed to put the seat COVER down before flushing. So if you come to our house, you’ll find the cover is always down. To me it seems strange now to see the innards of the toilet bowl.

When I use the “facilities” in friends’ houses, I lower the cover out of habit before flushing. I’m sure John probably does the same.

It’s an excellent habit to develop. That way both the males and females have a responsibility to “put the seat down.” And, more importantly, your bathroom will have fewer nasty germs.

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The Dove Experiment

This is an interesting study:

Dove soap did an experiment.

A former forensic artist for the San Jose police department met a series of women and asked each to describe the way they look. He had no way of seeing them behind a curtain. He prompted them to detail everything: hair length, facial structure, their most prominent features. He then sketched each participant from their self-description.

Each woman was asked before the study to get to know one of the other participants. The forensic artist then prompted each woman to describe the other’s face. The results are fascinating.

We’re so critical of ourselves. This should be a lesson to each of us.

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Missing from the Landscape

Today, as I walked to the pool, I noticed the grass beside the sidewalk. I’m not referring to lovely thick green grass like that on golf courses; I’m talking about the stuff that survives in high traffic areas next to sidewalks here and there.

I noticed large patches of green (probably about a foot or more in diameter). In Michigan, those clumps would have been made up of sweet green clover. At first (from a distance), I thought I was approaching a clover patch and looked forward to hunting for a four-leaf (which I frequently do when I spot clover in Michigan.) But this morning, the weeds which filled the area were strange to me. These were multi-leafed, growing much like clover, but many leaves on straight stems.

There is NO clover that I’ve seen in Florida.

I miss Michigan vegetation. Down here we have no spring flowers (lilac, tulips, crocus, daffodil). There are no maple trees, Michigan oaks, elms, birch trees, willow, white pine and spruce. None of those grow here in our central area of Florida (or, if they are here, I haven’t spotted them.)

In Florida we have a native tree called an oak complete with acorns, but the leaves don’t look at all like the lobed leaves of a Michigan oak tree. Our Florida oaks are often festooned with Spanish moss which sways like a dancer’s skirt but these aren’t the oaks of my youth.

And here in Florida, we have a whole host of palms which could never survive in Michigan, but I can’t begin to identify any of the various sub-species of palms.

I need to go back to Girl Scouts or summer camp. In summer camp, we were required to identify lots of trees by their leaves and as a Girl Scout, I won a merit badge for identifying trees.

Maybe with that incentive I’d learn the difference between date palms, fan palms, queen palms, royal palms and areca palms.

I somehow feel that if I could identify the vegetation here in Florida, I’d feel even more that is my home permanent home. Afterall, I can tell you about the maple trees I climbed as a child in Midland, or the white pines that have grown with unbelievable speed at our place in the U.P. But I can’t tell you what the “red bottle brush” is actually called. I just know it’s pretty.

It’s kind of a trade-off. Down here, in addition to the palms, we enjoy colorful hibiscus, birds of paradise, gardenias, and many sensitive plants that we use as “house plants” in Michigan but here in Florida grow outdoors.

Bottle Brush Tree Flower:
bottle brush flower

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Suggestion: Another Blogger

I know at least one friend who pops in every morning to see if I’ve added to this blog known as “Sharon’s Blog.”

Like my friend who visits my blog and enjoys my posts, I look forward to some blog posts written by a friend: Judith Lindenau. Judith’s daily blog draws me in. She writes beautifully. Some of what she writes (unlike my posts), is fiction, but it’s all well done. I’m hooked. I’ve signed up for reminders that tell me when she’s posted and I never miss her writings.

I strongly recommend her to those who appreciate interesting, brief essays. You can find them under the title Mice in the Cupboard.

I can almost guarantee you’ll love Judith’s blog. She has a home in Eleuthera, an island in the Bahamas. Many of her posts have to do with her life there. I truly believe that you’ll enjoy her beautiful, descriptive prose. Try her. I think you’ll be hooked too.

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Very relucantly we’ll soon be leaving Florida (probably about May 13th.)

I’m starting to make my lists of things I must remember to do before we leave. I’m also preparing packing lists.

About two weeks before we leave, I’ll start a “staging area.” Some stuff has to wait until last minute to be rounded up, but there are always lots of items I don’t want to forget. This year I’m determined to to leave most of my clothes here in Florida. The stuff I haven’t worn this season will go back with me (or I’ll purge/donate it). I don’t want to forget that I need about a dozen nice casual outfits to wear while we’re at our big festival in July.

Of course this year wasn’t like last. We didn’t have any severe cold requiring a “winter wardrobe.” Most years I’ve worn my Michigan heavy jacket a few times, but not this year. (I may take it back to Michigan with me because reports are that spring is refusing to arrive and it’s still threatening to snow!)

My overly-full closet is crowded with stuff that just hangs there unworn because it either doesn’t fit or isn’t in style. I’d love to lose about 20 pounds, but I’m no longer saving clothes with that in mind. Instead I want to reward myself, if I get back to a smaller size, with new outfits. So as I pack, rather than just pushing unused stuff to the back of the closet, I’m going to purge a lot of items.

On the topic of weight, I will readily admit that I didn’t do what I’d promised myself before I left for Florida. I thought that coming here, where I’m dressed in skimpier attire and I’m more active, would help me lose weight. But I hadn’t counted on the potlucks, the party food, the wine and beer, and the dining out experiences which have occurred every few days.

I have no will-power when it comes to those dining events that make up so much of our social life here. I hope, when I get back to Michigan, I can concentrate on a diet and shed some weight. With the incentive of looking better in the fall for Florida and approximately 140 days in Michigan, I hope I’ll do better than I have this winter. (I’ve gained nearly five pounds over the past six months!)

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Playing the Marimbula

9NoteMarimbula.jpgLast July, when we were at our big dulcimer festival, we bought another instrument for me to play, a marimbula. I didn’t want to give up my autoharp, but we felt the strong beat of the marimbula would enhance our music.

The photos to the left are of a marimbula. It sounds like an upright bass but easier to tote around. The thought, when we bought it, was that I could learn how to play it with our Florida group, Kings Strings.

(Kings Strings is made up of four of us: Wayne Conklin and my husband John play hammered dulcimer, and Linda Conklin and me are on autoharp. John occasionally also plays tenor banjo, Wayne sometimes sings and adds ukulele, and Linda sometimes plays Irish drum aka a bodhran, in addition to her autoharp.)

I’m really not very musical and definitely lack confidence. I was easily discouraged when John picked it up and played my new instrument perfectly, while I was struggling.

We brought it with us when we came south in October but I only played the autoharp and the marimbula sat idle in our dining room.

At a recent practice, the Conklins convinced me to try playing the marimbula. We needed the beat and that instrument would help. With their encouragement I made the effort. I’ll admit, it sounded pretty good so I practiced after that and prepared to play three or four tunes with our group, when we performed for a pizza party on April 4th. (I picked tunes with a Latin beat.)

The day of the performance arrived. I was tense and John didn’t feel well. Tension and illness don’t help a performance. The last minute run-through went smoothly but a good dress-rehearsal is said to be a bad sign.

During our show, although my playing of the Marimbula was successful, I was concentrating on the marimbula so intently that I lost it on the autoharp. I’ve never played worse (on the ‘harp). In fact all four of us had problems on one tune or another.

The audience may not have known that we weren’t playing as good as we usually do. We were disappointed but our audience loved us.

Since that night, we’ve had gobs of favorable comments. Audiences don’t notice small flaws and I think folks felt supportive of my playing because I told them it was my first public exposure with my new instrument. That helped get them on our side.

Next time I’ll feel more comfortable with my big baby, the Marimbula. I am determined to do better!!!

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Crowded Pool!!!

Today I planned to spend the whole day at the South Club pool. We haven’t been at the pool much over the past month because of the huge crowds and our busy calendar. As I planned for today, I hoped that the spring break grandchildren and other guests would have headed back north. I also expected that many snow birds would have left for their northern homes.

My plans were for a quiet day at poolside reading and soaking up the wonderful Florida sunshine.

I walked to the pool before 10:00 a.m. By arriving as early as I did, I had managed to secure two lounge chairs in my favorite shady corner. John joined me when he finished playing pickleball.

As it turned out today’s crowd was huge. By noon it was totally packed with no extra loungers or chairs.

At one point about 1:00, I was in the pool. When I got out, a crowd of ladies had “moved in.” They brought in chairs so close they were touching our chairs in a circle around us. Sure, when you go to a crowded pool deck, you expect to be close to other chairs and people, but these ladies squeezed more chairs into the space normally alloted for two lounge chairs. Instead of the two of us, all of the sudden there were six!! We had folks inches on three sides of us. It became impossible to read because they were talking (loudly) over us. (One lounge chair by our feet, one beside and one behind us.) I couldn’t even get out of my chair because we were blocked in. John felt they were intentionally trying to make us uncomfortable so we’d leave. That made me more determined to stay.

I’ll be darned if I’d give up our chairs and give them a victory for their rudeness.

One of the ladies informed me that she usually sat where I was sitting. (Actually for about SIX years, that corner has been recognized as “our spot,” although any time we arrive after others have claimed that area, we find another place. That’s how it is. No spot at the pool is for anyone’s exclusive use!!!)

A year or two ago, I found myself in the position those ladies were in. I tried to slip in behind others where there wasn’t much space. But before I located my chair I asked the close-by people if it was ok, and I said, “If I’m too close, let me know.” Then I tried to be extra quiet and not “invade” their tranquility. I shut off my phone, I didn’t talk loudly. I was respectful. I honored the fact that they had arrived first.

These ladies didn’t even acknowledge us. They just moved in around us and all of the sudden our quiet afternoon was gone.

We headed home about 3:00.

So tomorrow I’m going to try again. I’ll go even earlier (9:00-9:30), aim for my favorite spot again, and hope that I’m not crowded out. From their conversations, I have a feeling that the one who was most difficult, may be leaving for a northern state soon, maybe even tomorrow morning.

I’m glad we have a month before we leave to get over this negative feeling.

John said, “Don’t dwell on it. Ignore them. They were inconsiderate.” But I was disappointed.

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We’re looking forward to next week. By then most of the Easter/Spring break house guests who come down to Florida to visit relatives in our community should have returned home. We’ll have our pool back.

We had a cool spell during a lot of March (especially toward the end of the month) but it is now warm/hot and lovely.

Today we didn’t even bother to go to the pool because we know it’s packed!! When finding a parking place is impossible, you know that there won’t be a place to sit.

Actually this week we have a lot to anyway. Our music group, Kings Strings, is playing for Manchester’s pizza party on Thursday and Saturday John’s chorus is offering a concert. Both of those events will require practice and prep. That doesn’t leave a lot of free time.

I do see a totally open day on Friday. And after Saturday, I vow to devote several hours each day to pool time! We have a lot of late afternoon events on our calendar, but if I’m at the pool by 9:00, I can get at least five hours in each day before we hit our scheduled stuff.

It’s time!!!


Friday (April 5th) –

Wouldn’t cha know it. Finally have a free day and it’s not pool weather. We’ve had rain showers all morning. Now it’s windy and only 68 degrees. (A cold front is coming through.)

Tomorrow and Sunday should be lovely.

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