Archive forAugust, 2015

Rain in Michigan – but nothing like Florida

We’ve had several days of rain here in Michigan. (None today but cloudy, over-cast, and increasingly humid.)

Nevertheless we can’t complain because Florida folks in the vicinity of our condo have been hit with almost non-stop showers and rain storms for the past month. As if that’s not enough, that area is now being hit by the remnants of Erika, the tropical storm. It dissolved before hitting Florida, but it’ll be sending rain into Tampa/Sun City Center. There’s a flood watch for that area.

We never need to worry about a storm surge coming from Tampa Bay because we’re far enough inland to avoid that concern. But outside our condo there’s a low spot, and it’s common for us to get water on our lanai. Doubtful that it’ll ever come into our condo, but it does make for a mess that needs to be cleaned up when we get there. Oh, well…

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Fish or no fish

I’ve been trying to lose weight without success. Especially when I’m in bed and can’t sleep, I think about my resolve to get in shape. It always sounds so easy in those wee hours. I figure when I get up, I’ll jump on the exercise bike or go for a long walk. I’ll consume practically no calories. I’ll be good.

Then morning comes and all my good intentions disappear.

Last night was such a sleepless night. As I tried to turn off my mind, I vowed to lose at least five pounds before we head back to Florida (in the next 43 days.) I was going to avoid high calorie meals. But then morning came and I realized that today is Friday and we want to go to the Moose for one of their wonderful, all-you-can-eat fish dinners. We always enjoy beer with that meal.

I argued with myself. Should we go for fish? We’ve planned it all week. We’ll be really sorry when we’re in Florida because we can’t find any fish equal to walleye served at the Moose in Michigan.

We finally decided to go and I’ll just restrict my consumption the rest of the day.

So right now I’m hungry. I am planning to eat that one huge meal so I have to wait. No munchies. And maybe I better go jump on the bike.

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Everything’s working

My computer and printer are working perfectly.

So glad I didn’t follow the suggestion of the Microsoft rep who thought the only solution to my problems would be to reinstall Windows 10 as a new installation, which would have eliminated all the programs and files except those Microsoft includes when it does the Windows 10 install. It would have taken me at least a week to reinstall all my “purchased” programs, set them up, and then add the previously created files for each of those programs. (In fact I’m afraid I may not have the disks for all of them.)

Today I used what I’ve learned over the past few days and connected with my external 2TB hard drive wirelessly. I’ve had the drive for several years, but this is the first time I’ve been able to back up to it without halting all other work on my computer. I was successful setting it up using the Charter router (the same one which connects to the internet). The external hard-drive acts like a drive on my computer. I can copy to it easily and I’m amazed at the speed. I backed-up all of my computer files today and it only took about an hour. I can remember when the same process took a couple days.

I still don’t have my Lexmark printer working wirelessly, but that’s ok. I can tote my laptop to the dining room (where the printer is located), connect to my USB port, and print easily. When I get to Florida, I’ll try harder to get the printer to work without any connections, but even if I could get it to work here/now, I’ll have to re-do it in Florida, so I might as well wait. As it is, I will have to re-do the connection to the 2TB hard drive, but now that I know how it works, I think I can do it quite easily. Hopefully I can use the same process to get the Florida Brighthouse connection to work.

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Saved $79

About eight or nine days ago, I upgraded to the latest, greatest Windows program: Windows 10.

About a week later, I realized my newly installed Windows 10 program had created some problems with my five or six year old Lexmark printer. I tried for a couple days (unsuccessfully) to fix things. Finally, today I called Lexmark.

As the customer service rep checked files and settings using a program that allowed him to go into my computer, I watched. I saw a problem which I assumed he saw too but he didn’t even try to repair anything. At that point he told me he would fix my printer but it would cost me $119 for a year’s service (up to three problems calls) or $79 to just get it working today. $79 was too much! The printer is old. I can buy a new one for less than that. But after I turned down his offer, I went back and found the problem I’d noticed as he was going through my computer. I fixed those problems and guess what, it’s working! Whew! Saved $79!

I won’t say how much time I wasted over the past few days. The problem occurred when I tried to reinstall the Lexmark program. The program stalled and said that remnants of the old program remained. I kept trying everything I could think of to delete all the Lexmark files, drivers, and references so I could do a clean install with a 64-bit version of the install program. I ended up going into reg edit, which is a touchy program that allows the editing of the program registry (where all of the installed programs are listed.) It was risky, but I’d tried everything. I thought I’d found all of the references to Lexmark, but when the representative was scanning the directories, I saw the representative had discovered one more place where there was reference to Lexmark and that’s what I deleted.

Hope it doesn’t mess up again.

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We’re getting closer

Today I worked to figure out what 2015 papers we need to take with us to Florida so we’ll be prepared to do our income tax in April. It’s always difficult. We don’t want to take too much, but if we forget something, it can be a problem. We’ve had friends who had to fly back to Michigan from Florida because they forgot something they couldn’t do without. That’s an expensive error!

It has gotten much easier over the years because I can access almost everything on line or on my computer. If I’m lacking, I can usually find what I need without the paper copy.

But when we came back from the Upper Peninsula this past Friday, we realized we had forgotten several things. They’ll be there when we get back up north, and we can replace them, nevertheless it’s annoying. Thankfully nothing we forgot is critical, but forgetting even our bug spray, raisins, and baking powder, shakes my confidence. I need to be even more aware when I’m packing for Florida. No room for forgotten items.

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Too Hot

We went to a Skaryd family reunion in Bannister at the ZCBJ Hall. Unfortunately it was horribly HOT and although there were fans, they just seemed to accent the hot air.

We left at about 1:30. Stopped at the Evergreen Tavern where we sat with some of our friends. Nice seeing them (especially Wilma and Ron) but we didn’t stay long. The heat had just drained us.

Back home. Our place with A/C was perfect! We watched a baseball game and a golf match while I installed a Windows 10 upgrade to my computer. After exploring the new program a little, I read a little while John snoozed. It was what we needed to relax.

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Purging

Today we worked to get some little-used items cleaned-up for sale: an 1980’s Atari console with eight games, an electronic knitting machine with advanced features, a 55-gallon fish tank, and two nearly 30-year-old bikes (with roomy seats and old-style handlebars). All of these items have been ignored for many years and they are dirty! It take a lot of elbow grease to polish them up.

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We’re back in the Lower Peninsula (at home)

Our stay was pleasant although the last full day (Thursday) was waaaay too hot! On Wednesday, I was bit by some nasty flies that left scary red welts on my arm so I was avoiding the “outdoors.” Our old trailer has very small windows and therefore little ventilation. It was nearly 90 in the shade on the deck and about the same inside with no air movement. A fan helped, but it was oppressive.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were predicted to be even hotter!! We packed up Friday a.m. and left for home. We made it by mid-afternoon.

It felt so good to get into air conditioning.

I’d also missed cable TV and wi-fi.

We still haven’t totally unpacked, but we’re working on it.

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Today we’re 60 days from fun

I’m enjoying our peaceful get-away in the U.P. There’s lots of time to just take it easy. I’ve read a couple of books, drank a bit of wine and vegged!

Yesterday we went into Manistique and hit a few re-sale shops. (No purchases but lots of looking.) We also enjoyed a beer at a folksy tavern and a great burger at a drive-inn called Clyde’s (which was awarded “best burger in the U.P.”)

The 60 days until fun refers to our arrival at our condo in Florida on October 10th. SIXTY DAYS! I’m ready.

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Watching the critters

Yesterday afternoon we watched a small spotted fawn feed on grass about 40 feet from our deck. We sat quietly for 15-20 minutes and observed him. Eventually he wandered off but came back later. We also saw an adult deer.

But when it comes to creepy, crawy, this a.m. I spotted a wood tick on John’s neck (but got him off before he dug in) and John killed what he thinks was a recluse spider. The mosquitoes aren’t quite as plentiful as some years but the other bugs are bad even in limited numbers.

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We made it to the U.P.

Tried unsuccessfully to beat a rainshowever to our place but we were a little damp when we arrived.

John had to clear a couple of downed trees in order to get in the driveway.

Hauling everything inside was a chore but somehow we managed and even slept in our new bed last night.

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We head north tomorrow (early)

Guess we’re finally ready to take off tomorrow morning for our place in the Upper Peninsula. Originally we thought we’d leave on Wednesday, but it became apparent that we’d have to rush, so we postponed our departure. The advantage of being “retired” is that you can alter your plans.

It’s definitely harder to go to the Upper Peninsula than it is to go to Florida. When heading north, we have to bring all of our food, all of our bedding, linens, lawn mower, weed whackers, chain saws, musical instruments, a compressor to blow out the water lines for the winter, and more.

When we go to Florida, we bring a cooler with perishable food items we haven’t used up before leaving. There are also some of our favorite clothing items and shoes, but most of our Florida clothes stay there. We tote a few things back and forth like our musical instruments, our power washer, a few deck chairs we aren’t using here, and a few computer items (like my back-up drive). But most everything else stays-put in Florida from season to season. It’s much easier. (The deck chairs will be a challenge, but if we can’t fit them in, we won’t bring them, or we’ll bring two instead of the four we plan to relocate. They’ll just look much better than the 40-year old ones we inherited from my parents.)

Fitting everything in the truck this trip has been especially difficult. We wanted to replace the bed that’s up there. I went on line and purchased two extra long twin mattresses which we will use together as one. We’ll cover the twins with a king-size mattress pad to make a king-size bed. The mattresses are memory foam and right now they are compressed for shipping. The two boxes they were shipped in are good size but easier to manage than a king-size mattress would be.

We are using the “foundation” which was under our mattress (here in Michigan). We no longer needed the foundation because we’d purchased an frame that’s elevated, giving us some extra storage room under the bed.

When we didn’t sell the foundations on Craig’s List, we decided to keep them and use them up north.

We had to figure a way to pack to the two foundations, which were just a tad too long to fit in the bed of our pick-up truck. It took John almost a full day of trial and error until he could get the foundations, new mattresses, lawn mower, compressor, our food for a week (including all staples), crammed in. He ended up elevating the end of the foundations and tying them down. Once he did that, the rest fit into place.

We haven’t been to our place on Lake Michigan since 2013. Last year therapy on my broken wrist required that we stick close to home. (It’s nearly 700 miles round-trip so not the kind of a jaunt you do for only a day or two.) We always make lists saying what we left there, but what it boils down to is that we have to bring all the staples: coffee, sugar, flour, and everything else for meals.

There are stores in the U.P. so we will manage, but we hope we’ll have all of the necessary stuff.

We take off at 8:00 tomorrow. I won’t have internet except for my smart phone, provided we have cell signal.

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Isn’t it lovely

Here’s a photo that is used on our Florida Community Kings Point’s website. Love it. I can imagine I’m in the upper left corner under the green awning because that’s my “usual” shady spot.

I can walk to the pool without hurrying in less than five minutes. It’s about 1,100 steps on my pedometer.

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How much time until….??

Each of the counters below has an expiration date. The first one ends on Oct. 10, 2015, the second Dec. 24, 2015, the third May 10, 2016 and lastly July 14, 2016. (If strange characters appear instead of the “count down” number, hit refresh. Sometimes it takes three refreshes.)

until October 10, 2015, when we get to our condo in Florida. (We’ll leave our Michigan home on the 9th.)

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until our Christmas Eve party.

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until our return back in Michigan (May 10, 2016) at the end of our Florida winter.

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until the ODPC Funfest starts on July 14, 2016.

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Prices, Produce, and Green Grass

I started to make a list about stuff I prefer in the North (or conversely in the South). The list balances out with neither Michigan nor Florida being a clear favorite.

Some of the items I listed are better in the North because they’re “in season” during Michigan’s summer months. Examples: Michigan-grown raspberries, muskmelons, apples, cherries, and Michigan corn-on-the-cob. Or Michigan’s flowers which don’t grow well in Florida: tulips, lilies, lilacs, peonies, red buds trees, apple blossoms, roses. But other items are better in the South.

Shopping in the two areas can be distinctly different. Some store chains are available to us only while we’re in Michigan while others only while in Florida. (Not that the stores I mention aren’t located in other states, but for this discussion, we’re comparing what is available to us in the Saginaw (Thomas Township) area in the North or in Sun City Center in the South.)

Here are some of our regional chain stores with their specialties. You can buy Publix yogurt or get a wonderful Publix sirloin steak or shop for tropical-weather styles in Bealls in Florida; while Michigan has Meijers, Menards, and Jack’s Produce and Meats. In fact, when we head South in October, I’ll bring with us some items we buy in Michigan at our local Saginaw Aldi’s stores: caesar dressing, paper products, and jalapeno flavored kettle chips. (Note: By next year, hopefully they’ll have completed an Aldi’s in Sun City Center, but we understand it’s a long way from being open. Also SCC’s Aldi’s may not carry everything we find in our Saginaw stores. Example our favorite caesar dressing wasn’t available when we stopped at a Florida Aldi’s a few years ago.)

In Florida, there are Sweet Tomatoes restaurants for a good lunch, and we obviously love Busch Gardens for a day of shows and animals. We also enjoy Little Harbor for a romantic water-side setting. But there’s no place in Florida that comes close to the Saginaw Moose lodge for cheap super Friday night all-you-can-eat walleye or perch dinners, nor is there any place in Florida like Farmers Home Tavern for a great reasonably priced burger.

I am partial to Florida clothing styles: Chicos name-brand, shorts for men, Bealls, and beachy colors.

The color white is always perfect in Florida, but white is a no-no from Labor Day to Memorial Day in Michigan. Black always seems to be ok in Michigan, but looks totally wrong in Florida, even mid-winter, unless it’s really cold!

Florida features superior re-sale shops. (Let’s face it, a lot of stylish older folks die in Florida. Their survivors usually donate the stuff in their closets and cupboards to resale/fund raising sales.) Michigan has resale locations are filled with poor quality junk!

Regional styles extend beyond closets and food choices to exterior home styles and furnishings. Stucco is popular and attractive Florida but would look out of place in Michigan. I like our charcoal leather couch and loveseat in Michigan, but in Florida, I’d consider them way too dark and bulky. Tile is great in Florida, but in Michigan I prefer our solid cherry wood floors.

I love the lush vegetation we have in Michigan. Maple trees are glorious. Our grass texture is soft and wonderful in Michigan, while broader, stiffer, more heat resistant grass blades are common in Florida. Palms and colorful bougainvillea are lovely in the South, but the cool shade of maple, birch, or Michigan oak trees is unequaled. In the fall, the reds and golds of Michigan trees are blindingly brilliant.

For scenery, it’s a toss-up. Michigan has the Mighty Mac Bridge linking the upper and lower peninsulas, but Florida has the Sunshine Skyway Bridge crossing Tampa Bay. Michigan has the shorelines of Lake Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Superior but Florida has the Atlantic, the Pacific and Tampa Bay. Can’t come much closer to a draw than that.

Looking up, the skies are prettier in Florida. Big puffy clouds seem more “close-up” probably because we’re close to Tampa Bay and the “pull” of the ocean plays a part. And I’ve never seen sunsets with clouds that echo the colors like I see in Florida.

And then there’s produce. Don’t get me started on strawberries. Folks who say that Michigan strawberries are better than Florida’s probably haven’t had a freshly picked Florida strawberry in the past dozen years (the varieties of strawberries have changed and no longer are the Florida berries white inside and hard. Florida’s are huge, juicy and unbelievably tasty. Michigan’s are smaller and not as sweet.

But the reverse is true about Michigan and Florida raspberries. The only raspberries we’ve seen in Florida are not locally grown, but in Michigan we can go to the garden in June and early July and gather sweet luscious berries.

We can pick Michigan McIntosh or spy apples off the trees in September, and grapes from our vineyard. Nothing better.

Tomatoes are also better (sweeter) in Michigan.

Corn-on-the-cob used to be much better in Michigan, but like strawberries, the new varieties have leveled the field.

Understandably the climate of Florida produces lovely orchids and pineapples which can grow outside and I’ll never get used to what I considered “house plants” growing outside. (I’m referring to gardenia plants, split leaf philodendrons and variegated schefflera.)

My mother used to plan her trips to Michigan around the availability of Michigan produce. If possible, she wanted to take back a bushel or two of Michigan apples and she spent her entire visit consuming an excess of corn-on-the-cob and muskmelons. She also took rolls of Viva paper towels and claimed that there was a distinct difference between north and south paper products.

The size of boxed wine is different in Florida than in Michigan. In Florida, you’re lucky to get a 3-liter box of wine while in Michigan the standard box is 5-liters. (And yes, in Michigan, the price for the 5-liter box is about the same as the 3-liter box in Florida.)

Allergies are different in Michigan and Florida. I sneeze a lot more in Michigan, because I have Michigan ragweed intolerance but John finds the Florida oak trees produce a pollen that kicks in his allergy symptoms.

The availability of good doctors in Florida is better than in Michigan. Probably we find that to be true because in our Florida community the physicians are geared toward a senior community. (In Michigan we found it impossible to “get in” to a new primary care physician. In our Michigan community, although we tried repeatedly, we couldn’t find ANY doctors taking new patients. In Florida, we easily found a great primary care doctor and the dermatologists are much more accessible there.)

Without the freeze and thaw of a Michigan winter, the roads are in better shape in Florida.

We love that many residents who reside in Sun City Center (Kings Point) create a “blended community” in our part of Florida. This situation is a result of folks who spend winters in the sunny South from the states in the northeast and Canada as well as Michigan. We get to Florida and happily congregate in our community. All parts of our great country come together! But the extra thing that makes this situation great is that we’re all at the same stage of our life. We’re all retirees. We’re all comfortable enough to have a Florida home and we’re all open to new friendships. It’s a great place to be.

But just as perfect is the quiet of our lake in Michigan or our place in the Upper Peninsula, make our summers lovely.

Isn’t it nice that we have six months in each Florida and in Michigan?!!! We definitely enjoy the best “peninsulas” in the nation!

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