Archive forMay, 2013

Wearing a “Bib”

My mother had alzheimers. For several years I was responsible for her care. I placed her in an excellent facility where she could be close to husband.

But as her condition worsened, I refused to accept the way she looked after she ate a meal. Eating for her was a messy ordeal. The rest of the day, she was stuck wearing food-spotted clothes. The food often resulted in permanent stains.

I went to her nursing home administration and explained that she needed to wear an “apron.” She’d grown up in a generation that accepted aprons. The facility claimed that it was demeaning for her to wear a “bib” and she should be allowed her dignity, but I insisted and finally demanded that she be allowed to stay clean (changing her clothes was a true struggle for her so that wasn’t an option after every meal.) I said it was more demeaning to have her clothes soiled than to wear a protective cover. They finally relented and I bought her a couple dozen terry cloth adult bibs. (Believe me by then my mom didn’t care one way or the other, but it bothered me to see her clothing soiled and stained when an apron/bib would help avoid that problem.)

Mom passed away in 2008. I donated all of her clothes, including the terry cloth bibs I’d purchased for her, to a charity. I did keep one. It was white terry cloth and closed with velcro behind the neck.

This past social season I realized that every time I got ready to go out to one of our fancy evenings, I somehow spoiled things by getting my liquid make-up on me. I’d try my darnedest, but it always seemed to happen, especially when I wore a dark dress. (And the spots from make up are difficult to remove!) It dawned on me…. I needed to wear a bib or apron while I got ready. So I started putting Mom’s terry cloth bib around my neck. It worked great!

Funny I never once felt that it was demeaning!

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A bit about me…

I guess I’m unusual among the senior set.

I’ve had computers since the 1980’s even before there was a Windows program. Since I was the first one to get a computer in the hospital where I worked, I taught the employees as they were assigned computers.

I created a database-type scheduling program for the nursing staff, wrote an inventory program for hospital supplies, and set up a (hard-wired) scheduling network (long before there was “wireless”) between surgical areas on different floors in the hospital. I developed the hospital’s first web site (which was the 2nd hospital web site in Michigan). Yet, when it comes to computer skills, I’m totally self-taught.

But that was 20 years ago.

Now I maintain at nine active web sites. One of them,, gets about 3 million hits a year.

Yup, I am computer savvy and I guess that’s unusual for a 71-year-old female. It’s funny to hear the comments of astonishment, especially from tech savvy young males who aren’t used to ladies my age being knowledgeable about computers. One representative from my credit card and banking company (Chase) said, “Usually I’m trying to talk timid seniors into trying to pay bills and track their accounts ‘on line.’ I’m not used to talking to a senior lady who knows more than I do about computers.”

Several years ago, my web site hosting company representative bestowed on me the title of their “Oldest Techie Geek.”

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Atypical Old Folks

I guess we’re “old folks” but we’re not what I think of as the “average senior citizen.” We do more, we enjoy life to the fullest, and we rarely play BINGO. We go out whenever we can and never miss a fun event. But things have been different the past week or so.

Since we’ve been home, John hasn’t been feeling well and I’ve been busy working on my workshop program project for the ODPC Funfest. That’s made couch potatoes out of both of us. I’ve been determined to finish organizing the 200+ classes and John’s just been trying to keep his stomach under control and his hip from hurting.

So Memorial Day came and went while we vegged out. We skipped a Moose Club bar-be-que that we’d planned to attend. Thursday John has two doctors’ appointments and next Wednesday we have a BINGO (with a free burger or hot dog grilled feast) on our calendar. Maybe we are getting old.

To balance out these symptoms of aging, we plan to go to a picnic and dance Saturday, (provided John’s “up to it” and he definitely seem to be improving).

My ODPC workshop project is under control so I feel less pressure from it. But I’m still working on it from the couch.

Yup, I guess we are slipping into the “aging mold.”

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Financial Mess

For the past week I’ve been distracted by an imposing chore.

Here’s the boring story: John and I always had a direct deposit checking account with Citizens Bank in Saginaw (just changed to First Merit). But we also maintained checking and money market accounts in our Sun City Center Bank, now PNC. We also have an Ameriprise investment account.

With PNC we can access our accounts from both FL and in MI.

Unfortunately there’s no Citizens Bank in Sun City Center so for many months I’ve had to keep my eyes on everything and “move” money between accounts to accommodate both PNC and Citizens banks. It’s been a pain, especially when we realized that, when dealing with PNC, we needed to maintain minimum deposits to avoid fees. What a mess. So recently I suggested that we SIMPLIFY!

[My aim is to get our banking down to one checking and maybe one savings account. All deposits will go to that checking account, all debits will come automatically out. I won’t be required to manage anything. It’ll just happen automatically. Our investment account doesn’t require any “handling.”]

A new Chase bank opened in Sun City Center just before we left. Not only were they as convenient as PNC and located both in Florida and Michigan, but they offered John a military account with lots of perks (free checks, no fees, and a safety box)!! We accepted their offer, which included a $200 incentive bonus. Eventually we’ll go from three banks down to one bank. I am working us toward that goal.

We need to have a bank located in both cities (Sun City Center, FL and Saginaw, MI) with the lowest charges. The newly opened Chase Military account accomplished everything we wanted. Ok, so no problem. Just switch all automatic payments, and deposits to Chase and it’ll be perfect.

Not so simple..

I found that I needed to contact old employers (for pension plan payments) x 2, health insurance companies so we could do direct deposits x 2, Home Owners Association payments for our Condo service fees x 1, utilities (multiple), Soc. Security payments x 2, and credit card payments. (I’m sure I’ve left out a few when compiling this list.)

It’ll take months to get it all straightened out. I only wish everything had been on our credit card because that only required one switch, but it’ll eventually work.

I’ve spent so many hours that I can’t begin to compute them. (I would guess 16 hours minimum.) Nothing is working smoothly but on the horizon I see a break. I have requested social security and pensions to be moved. I need to coordinate the out-going payments with the income. I can’t move everything until more income accounts are up and depositing. It’ll take a couple months to straighten it all out. But at least, when it’s coordinated if something happens to us, it’ll be easier for our survivors. I wouldn’t wish this mess on anyone…

I’m really on top of our finances and banking. What happens when folks don’t have that kind of focus.

I have been toting multiple check books: Citizens checking, Citizens line of credit account, PNC money market, PNC checking, and Ameriprise cash. Now I’ve added Chase checking. That means six check books as well as debit cards for each of those accounts. What a mess. Hopefully I’ll get my wish and eventually we’ll be able to carry only one check book and everything will be on autopay.

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Can’t stay focused

We’re home in Michigan (although definitely not unpacked). Our lovely home is messy and in need of a good cleaning.

But I have a more demanding project.

I MUST complete the workshop schedule for the ODPC Funfest. (I’ve been the Workshop Chairman for 18 years for the world’s largest hammered dulcimer festival.) I need to finish scheduling the rough daily grids and get them to my proofreader this week. Once she has proofed my work and the corrections have been made, I’ll work on the descriptions of the 220+ classes. It’s a huge project and takes the biggest share of a month to complete.

The problem is, I can’t seem to stay focused. I find all kinds of excuses to do something else. I play on-line games, pay bills, do anything else. I must get busy. (So why am I writing on my blog?)

Ok, I’ll get back at my project. No more procrastinating!!! I vow I will finish the three daily grids by Friday at the latest!!! (I currently have about 1/3 of the classes scheduled.)

Bye for now!

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We’re Back!

We made it home by about 3:00 this afternoon. Our trip north took three rather uneventful days.

Monday things started out negatively. Everything was packed and John moved the truck in the driveway so I could get in for the 1,300 mile trip from Florida to Michigan. Just as I was ready to close the truck door, John said “Oh, no!”

The brakes weren’t working at all. The brake line had sprung a leak and the brake fluid was in a puddle under the vehicle. With no brakes weren’t going to be able to leave. But in less than three hours we were on the road. John had been prepared with a new brake line and a couple of bottles of brake fluid, and he quickly replaced the line. We were headed north before 11:30 a.m. — three hours behind schedule.

The brakes worked fairly well, but really needed to have the air purged from the line. He tried to open the valves on each tire to allow him to purge them but they were frozen up. The car stopped firmly, but when they were depressed John felt they were a little “mushy” and I sensed his tension.

The trip was therefore more difficult than usual. With him being tense, I became his extra, vigilant eyes. We drove even slower and more cautious than we normally would have. We stayed in the right rather than the left lane and maintained lots of space between us and other vehicles on the road. John tried to get the brakes serviced while in route, but no one could take the truck in on short notice and since they did respond (even though mushy), we kept going. John would never have risked us if he’d felt they weren’t safe. It was just that they just didn’t feel as firm as usual, and the difference put both of us on edge.

About 50 miles from the northern Georgia border, we ran into swarms of lovebugs. They covered the truck and made it hard to see. We stopped at a rest area to clear the windshield, and while stopped, the pesky critters made outside existence miserable. By the time we were 10 miles into Georgia, there were no more bugs, but we carried their bodies back with us.

Traffic wasn’t bad except around Atlanta when we ran into a massive jam-up. (TV news reports explained that there’d been a police chase down I-75 to catch a bank robber. The robber lost control and crashed. We caught the end of resulting traffic tie-up.)

First night we stayed at a lovely Quality Inn in Marrietta, Georgia. Of course we arrived later than we’d planned, but it was before 7:30.

The room was large, pleasant, fresh smelling, clean, and the staff was really nice. They even gave us a gift box for being a preferred guest. (The box contained oranges, apples, bottled water and Chitos.) We enjoyed a pleasant late dinner at a nearby Cracker Barrel (the next building). Tuesday morning we were impressed with the huge free buffet for guests. The buffet included eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, toast, sweet breads, bagels, waffles, hot or cold cereal, and/or lots of fruit choices plus an array of juices and morning beverages like tea, coffee and milk.

No lunch break. We just nibbled in route. Arrived at our motel in Miamisburg, Ohio, about 5:30. Again we stayed at a Quality Inn. (They’ve become our motel of choice.) This was one we’d enjoyed last year when we were headed north. It was just as nice this year, although the free breakfast wasn’t quite as spectacular as we’d enjoyed in Marrietta but with waffles, sweet breads, biscuits and gravy, cereals and yogurt, we sure didn’t go hungry. (We did miss the fresh fruit.)

Except for quick rest stops, we drove straight through and made it home by about 3:00. .

Our Michigan residence welcomed us. It was chilly inside (about 60), but with outside temperatures of about 80, we didn’t complain. Our house was a little stale, but absolutely no problems. Grass looked shaggy, and a bunch of branches littered the lawn, but nothing to complain about. (Mice did get inside our travel trailer, but except for droppings, it doesn’t appear there was damage.)

We considered the trip totally successful. John will make sure the truck brakes are working better before we use it again, but he did a great job getting us safely home. We’re both tired but it feels good to be here.

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Cramming it all in

With a week to go, we’ve been cramming in lots of fun activities. This weekend we had a good time at a Michigan Club Kentucky Derby Party and a brunch celebration of Richard ending his chemo treatments.

I’ve been packing and feel everything is just about ready to move from the “staging area” into the truck. The little bit that’s left to be done can be completed last minute.

This afternoon we’ll attend a bar-be-que and go to our last line dance class. Tomorrow we’ll have fun at karaoke at the South Club. Wednesday evening I want to go to Little Harbor to take in a lovely sunset and enjoy their wonderful burger specials. Thursday is our last Rockin’ Rendezvous and good-bye to lots of folks we only see at the Club House. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I plan to hang out at the pool. Sunday evening we’ll attend an Oldies But Goodies Dance with music by our favorite group, Flash Back.

We leave a week from today.

Already I’m counting down to the return trip.

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