Archive forJune, 2013

Twenty years of Concerts

For 20 years, John and I organized Haithco Park Concerts with our hammered dulcimer club, Saginaw Subterranean Strings. It was fun, and we certainly got our share of rewards working with close friends in our club and performing for wonderful audiences.

For many years, our “core” performing group has consisted of the Conklins, the Kuhlmans and a few others. We could always count on them and it made our job easier. In January, the Conklins informed us that, because of a wedding and some family commitments, they’d decided to stay in Florida over summer 2013. We were concerned that if we went ahead with another year of concerts, it would put too much stress on the Kuhlmans who are now in their 90’s! Also there are days when John just isn’t up to the physical commitment of hauling around and setting up the sound equipment, then performing for 90 minutes, and breaking down/stowing the equipment. So early this year, we notified the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Department and posted to our club’s website that, after 20 successful years, we would no longer present the Haithco Park Concerts.

About a month ago, we sent a notice to the club members in case they hadn’t read the website. (It should be noted that we’d hoped we might host a summer get together but that hasn’t worked out thus far and only ONE of the members has expressed an interest.)

But it has been rewarding to hear from several who have loyally been part of our audiences. They have expressed disappointment but understanding in our decision.

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Fun time approaching

Next week (over the 4th of July) we’ll have a fun “reunion” with our Florida friends who, like us, live in Kings Point, Sun City Center, during the winter months, but are snowbirds and spend summers in Michigan. We’ll head to White Lake, Michigan, to share a few days with this awesome a bunch of really nice folks.

When we return from that fun time, we’ll have dinner on the 8th with John’s family and then pack up and head to our huge dulcimer festival, the ODPC Funfest at Evart, MI, on July 9th. We will work hard (I’m in charge of workshops and John is my right hand guy) and by the end be totally exausted. The actual festival doesn’t start until the 18th. On Sunday, July 21st, we’ll return home.

So this next month will be fun! We will totally enjoy ourselves.

After we return, the summer will be half gone. We may slip up to the U.P. for a week (or less) in August. September will be harvest time for John’s wine crop.

Last year I was depressed all summer. This summer my attitude has improved. We found a band that plays in our area about once a week. We’ve been going dancing and it’s been fun. I will be ready for Florida in October, but the months between now and then will also be totally enjoyable and they will fly by.

Life is good!!

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Truly “Safe” – No Foolin’!


We’ve been back and forth to Florida dozens of times since 2005. The route is familiar and so is the concern for the home we leave behind in Michigan.

But as of tomorrow, our home will be PROTECTED! We’ve purchased a monitored security system which will be installed tomorrow. If anyone enters, the police will be advised (and so will we).

Previously I would post messages to this blog inferring that we were subscribed to a security system but that was just a way of deterring would-be thieves. But now we’ll be protected by high-tech motion sensors, entry alerts, sirens, and other ways of recognizing and protecting our home from intrusion. We’ll also be advised if there’s water in our basement or the heat is off.

Yes, it came with a pricetag but cheaper than we’d thought and we will rest much better. We also get a discount on our home-owners policy because it’s not just a security system but one which has 24/7 monitoring.

To be very honest, we don’t leave behind much of value when we head to Florida. We have no new TV sets (a couple OLD ones), no DVR devices, computers or anything else that burglars would want. I take all jewelry (most of it costume) with us. Anything we don’t take goes in our bank safety deposit box. And we sure don’t have cash laying around. (Note: In Florida, we don’t worry at all because we have closeby neighbors AND our community is GATED!)

Our Michigan home will be protected. And this time I’m not being deceptive.



The security system came!! It’s all installed. We have a few days to get used to having it in place before the alarms we trigger go to the central dispatch center and the police are notified. Right now it just sounds a loud siren but no one is summoned. (Eventually an even louder outdoor siren will be installed, but not during this test period.)

We’re sure it’s money well spent. John commented that we might never have a break in, but we feel it’s worth it for the peace of mind.



The alarm was armed when we went to bed and this morning Johh forgot when he opened the door and went out. Good thing the system is still in test mode so the central dispatchers weren’t notified because John had forgotten the passcode. Oh, well… It does work.



At 7:00 his morning I was rudely awakened by our new security system alarm. I figured John had forgotten that he couldn’t exit without disarming it. (He was outside when it sounded.) But come to find out, it was me!! We have a “panic button” near our bed and my pillow had accidentally pushed it. Needless to say, the button has been moved to a location that is more protected. It was worse than an alarm clock. (Thank heavens the new system is still in practice mode so the police weren’t summoned by the dispatch service and we haven’t installed the outdoor mega volume siren which would have awakened the whole neighborhood.)

We “activated” the system today but can continue to practice for a couple days. We’ll be notified when it’s truly up and running.

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Best Applications (aka apps) (According to Sharon)

I realize this post won’t be of interest to everyone. It’s directed to folks, like me who have a “smart phone.”

I have a two-year-old Samsung Android. I love it even though it’s looking a little shabby because I’ve kept it with me non-stop for the past two years so it’s pretty worn.

Over that period I have found a bunch of apps which serve me well. I’ll share them with you. You may not have an Android, but most apps are also available in a format for iPhones.

There are several which I don’t use much, but most folks consider staples: Pandora, Skype, twitter, Netflix, Pinterest, and Barcode Scanner. I also won’t mention those that I figure everyone is familiar with and I use a great deal: Chrome (browser), Kindle, Facebook, Gmail, Weather Channel or Accuweather, eBay, Adobe Reader, Craigslist Mobile, You Tube, CNN, and MSNBC.

All of the ones I’ve mentioned thus far are free, but I have purchased a couple for my specific interests: Documents to Go Full version so I can use Microsoft Works files, and Draw Something pro version (a fun drawing game I play with friends). These are well-known.

But what apps are the ones I discovered but you may not know about? (Some I may have paid a small amount for, but most were free.)

#1 – WiFi Hotspot & USB Tether by SVTP (which I highly recommend if you have unlimited usage on your phone and restricted or no access on your computer). With this program I can use my computer as a hot-spot. It’s perfect for me. I use a usb modem from Verizon, but if that was all I had, I’d really be restricted. I’d guess I use this hotspot app at least half of the time. I hook it up and my computer can go on-line without digital volume limitations.

#2 – At Bat (free version) so I can follow the Tigers games.

#3 – aWallet Password Manager – The only way I can securely keep my passwords straight.

#4 – Chrome to Phone – which lets me sent websites from my laptop to my phone easily. Only works if you use Chrome as a browser.

#5 – Countdown Widget – I love to know how long before we head back to Florida. I set this up and know at a glance how many days.

#6 – Evernote – which is great for keeping notes handy. I’ve even made notes to my smartphone at my bedside… things I didn’t want to forget.

#7 – Gas Buddy – a MUST have for anyone. Shows lowest prices for gas. When traveling, it helps us plan our stops. With this information we can decide if it’s better to fill up “here” or go to a station further down the road.

#8 – – fun to occasionally broadcast what’s going on.

#9 – MyFitnessPal – No it hasn’t worked to help me lose weight, but it’s a great way to track what you eat and if you are better than me, what you’ve lost. (Ok so I haven’t lost, but it’s still a good app.)

#10 – Lookout – It’s an excellent back-up and phone finder! I figure this app may never be used to locate my phone, but if it’s lost or stolen, I’ll be glad I have it.

#11 – Silent Toggle Widget – A small button on your smartphone screens turns your sound off easily. This is such a simple tool, but I’d be lost without it.

#12 – Drop Box – One of the best apps available. Use it to store everything from recipes to budget files. All newsletters are available through dropbox. Even works as a photo back-up area. LOVE IT!!

If you don’t have a smartphone, this list won’t mean anything to you, but if you have one, you might discover a new to you tool.

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Water view

I love love love having a view of water out my window. Our home in Michigan is on a small man-made lake. The ripples on the water are a constant. When we were here in the winter, I found the “icy” view boring. The movement, ripples, waves and sparkles are soothing and mesmerizing.

In Florida, our view includes ponds but they’re smaller and a little further away. But even though we don’t get to observe quite as close-up, I still find the water even at a distance fascinating.

I’m always watching out our windows. Our life is blessed!!

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Best fish dinner

Florida is known for good sea food but our favorite fish is walleye served at the Moose Lodge in Saginaw, Michigan.

It’s only available on Friday nights and it’s always a treat. The current price just under $10, but it’s worth it! We rarely order “seconds” because what they serve is ample, but it is all-you-can-eat (served with cole slaw, a roll and a nice-size order of fries or baked potato.)

We’re headed there tonight. Already thinking about how good it will be! I’ll cut back on what I eat today so I can enjoy my dinner guilt-free. (One slice of 12-grain toast for breakfast and a large salad for lunch is all I’ll eat until evening.)

Wish we could find similar fish when we go south. Nothing we’ve had in Florida is nearly as good although we do like Anna Maria’s Oyster Bar fish dinners but they don’t come close.

In fact there are several foods that we miss when we’re in Florida: Michigan lake perch, fresh late summer muskmelons, June fresh asparagus (had it last night), hamburgs at Farmers Home Tavern (Hemlock, MI) or Boulevard Lounge (Midland, MI), apples picked from our trees, Traverse City cherries and vine ripened Michigan tomatoes. Yup, Michigan tomatoes are lots better than any we’ve had in Florida. At one time, I would have said the same thing about strawberries because Florida’s didn’t have the same flavor, but now we enjoy Florida strawberries that are equal to Michigan’s fine crop and Florida’s are cheaper (four quarts for $1).

Yup, I love Florida, but there are some treats that we can only enjoy here in Michigan.

One surprise, the steaks we get at Publix in Florida are as good or even better than what we generally find here and the price (when on sale) is lower.

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Looking Ahead

It’s still months away but I’ve already made motel reservations at a Comfort Inn in Clinton, Tennessee. We’ve figured out approximately when when we’ll pull in and it seems doable (although we are always flexible.)

Why would we book so soon? Last year, on our way south (October, 2012), we stayed in Knoxville. Recently I checked out prices for the first weekend in October and found that ALL rooms in the Knoxville area will be well over $100 a night! (Probably there’s some large gathering being held there.) Based on that information, we realize that unless we book now we may have to pay the high price. We don’t want to buy the place; we just want a clean, comfortable place to stay for one night.

When we found that Clinton, Tennessee’s Comfort Inn serves breakfast and is priced at half that of the similar ones in Knoxville, we jumped on it.

I use Microsoft Streets and Trips (a gps program) to create our trip plan. I can tell you where we’ll be at what time. I plan it all out. Lunch breaks, gas fill-ups, motel stays, are all pre-scheduled). (About half the time, we have to make changes, often in route. But that’s fine. At least we’ve covered our butts and made sure we aren’t stuck without a reasonable room preferably with breakfast.)

The map shows our motel (#4) when we stop on the 5th of October, and our gas stops (#2, #3, and #5). Hidden under the #7 is a #6. #6 is Sun City Center’s Hungry Howie’s pizza (our favorite pizza carry-out) where we’ll grab our dinner before heading to our place (#7). And yes, I’ve already checked and, if we stick to our schedule, our arrival time will get us down there before sunset so we can unload the necessities before it’s dark.

I was a hospital planner and detailing every little thing suits my personality. I love to organize. Making sure the trip south is a smooth venture, is right up my alley.

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Working non-stop

ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) Funfest is fast approaching. I’m in charge of the workshop program so it’s been my responsibility to prepare the printed line-up of classes, after they’ve been submitted to my website. I didn’t start until after we got back from Florida. (Just couldn’t break away from the Florida sunshine to work on my computer.) But I’ve been working for the past three weeks and have finally finished it!! Actually I have one page to fill but that’ll be easy. I should be able to have it in the hands of the printer in about a week.

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