Archive forAugust, 2017

Back at our Lake Cecil home

John concerned me when he seemed to change his mind Friday about selling our U.P. place. That was Friday, but by the time we’d packed up everything and started back, he realized it was too much. We just can’t do it again!

We were totally exhausted when we drove back. It’s now decided that we have to unload our place. We doubt that we’ll get much for a 1964 trailer, but the land is beautiful.

At this point, I’d almost give it away (well, maybe not quite). We bought it for $30,000 back in 1990. Hopefully, we can recoup some of what we spent on the electricity and the deck, but I don’t want to ever go up again. I fear it could do us in. (Our realtor is thinking maybe $75,000.)

The beach is sorta back. We believe it’ll be even better after the DNR sprays the weeds this fall. The bottom is sand and fine gravel. Thank heavens, we didn’t see any stones which plague so much of the shoreline to our left and right.

Our handyman, Guy is going to burn the many trees he cut down for us, once the ground is covered with snow. He will wait until he can safely do it. He’s also going to clear some of the trees in our driveway so it’ll get sunshine and it’ll dry out.

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Final Cleaning

We’re preparing the place for sale. I’m scrubbing floors, washing windows, and purging as much as I can. No, it’ll never be clean. This place has 60+ years of grime so it’s bad, but we’d like to find a buyer and maybe a little spit and polish will help.

The problem is, if it doesn’t sell, we want to be able to come back up next summer because by then it’ll need to be groomed a little again. (If we’re able.) Normally we leave behind staples like sugar, spices, etc. Those things are trivial and we’d be glad to just leave them here.

We are taking home a radio, a lounge chair, binoculars, but that’s about it. The rest will either be here for the buyer or for us next year.

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Saving his dignity

It’s hard when a man is faced with the loss of strength and now has severe limitations.

John is faced with diminishing physical abilities, but he doesn’t want to give up and I sure don’t want to rob him of any pleasures and accomplishments but it’s hard on both of us.

Do I offer to do it, or do I give him a chance to prove he still has that ability?

He went outside to work on clearing the area between our trailer and the water’s edge. I had walked it yesterday. I knew he’d have a hard time navigating the undergrowth on his little mobility scooter. I finally went out and pushed him up the hill. He would have sat there for hours if I hadn’t volunteered. But I hate to take away the feeling of accomplishment.

Yesterday, when I said to him “I just can’t do it any longer” I was also giving him an “out.” If I can’t do it, it’ll be easier for him to follow suit. I know it’s too much for him. The truth is it’s too much for either of us but I could have kept quiet. He probably would have felt less willing to admit that we have to give it up. Now I’ve lowered the bar… the expectations are lessened. Hopefully, he’ll be more willing to give it up because I really don’t want to come back up here again… ever.

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I’m too old for this!

We made it to the Upper Peninsula. It was about 3:30 when we arrived.

But I am realizing it just takes too much effort to be here. Packing was a multi-day chore. After driving/riding for 350 miles, we had to bring things inside, get water pump working, clean up the mouse droppings, make sure the toilet was usable, make beds, make sure the appliances work, etc. When I finally got to sit down, I was so hot and tired that I thought, “Never again.”

I’d give this place away before I’d subject us to more trips up here and the work required.

John will be 80 in March. I’m 75. It would be difficult for someone 30 years younger than us.

The pump weighs about 50 pounds. Together we got it from inside the trailer to the well, and it worked! But the trees that were barely noticeable last year are invasive this year. They’re blocking the view so they have to go. Cutting them is going to take more effort than John has to waste. I can’t do it.

If I had to describe how I feel about this place, I’d say I dislike it because it’s robbing us of our energy at a time when we don’t have a surplus to give.

We work too hard to get here, and then we work repacking for home only to get back and have to unpack. It’s not fun. It’s not relaxing.

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A summer highlight

Friday John and I went out for a yummy walleye dinner at the Saginaw Moose Lodge. Dixie Highway Band started playing at 7:00 and they’re our favorite country-style group.

Of course, I realize John’s breathing problem limits his stamina so we haven’t danced much since he went on oxygen a year ago. We used to dance several times a week, especially in Florida. I miss that form of entertainment and exercise but I am happy to listen to the music.

Friday night Russ, Vickie, a new guitarist, and Lonnie sounded really good. When the band played our favorite tune “Wagon Wheel,” John surprised me and asked me to dance. No, we didn’t last the whole dance (not even half of it) but we had fun. And he asked me again later. I’m sure I can look forward to slipping into his arms when we’re at dances in Florida. It’ll be fun even if we don’t last long on the floor. And little by little I see he’s regaining some of his strength from all of his hospitalizations last year.

When you have a health condition like John has, it doesn’t just affect him. Our lives are totally different. But being with him is always my pleasure.

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Take to the U.P.

Yup, I’ve made a list of stuff to take to the U.P. This will serve as a dry-run for our trip to Florida. True, I don’t need to bring nearly as much for five days in the Upper Peninsula, but there will be similarities and I’m sure I’ll end up with additions to my current, lengthy list for our October return to our condo.

I always start my “October return trip” packing lists before we are even home in May. Before I’ve unpacked, it’s easier to list the stuff that I’ll be taking back with me. I also edit last year’s list.

The U.P. trip has a lot of stuff that I don’t need for Florida because I leave a lot in our condo. For example, I have to take all the bedding (sheets, mattress pad, blankets, pillows) as well as kitchen and bathroom towels to the U.P. (Leaving them there would invite mice and smells to invade them. Of course in Florida, the bedding and linens are on the beds, in the kitchen towel drawer, and in the linen closet.

During this trip to the U.P., we intended to “clean out” our trailer so we can put it on the market. There is stuff in the trailer which we’ll leave behind (kitchen dishes, small appliances, little heater, etc.) but old clothes, books, magazines, etc. can all go in the trash. We don’t need to leave it spotless, but we do need to clean the floors, etc. I’m not looking forward to the work.

Yup, I’m more than a tad lazy.

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Not especially hot here

The past couple of weeks here in Michigan it’s been in the 70s and low 80s. Not especially hot.

I read the weather forecast the other day for our Florida community. The temperature that day was 94° for a high and a real feel of 120°!!

When I expressed concern, one Florida friend said she just stays inside in the A/C. That’s true. When in the south we do avoid the outside heat by quickly moving in and out. And when we’re on the golf cart, the moving air always makes it comfortable.

But at 120°, even the pool wouldn’t be refreshing. I generally plunk down in a shady lounge chair on the pool deck and only go in the water to “cool off.” Walking barefoot would hurt. “Cooling off” would need to be constant which means I’d probably get a sunburn.

But I’m hopeful that the October temperatures will be a bit more comfortable. In days we’ll leave for our southern paradise.

I have promised myself that I’ll hang out at the pool at least two or three times a week. Last year I used our patio, but there’s no water there. I want a little sun color. I was pasty white last year. I don’t like leaving John, but maybe I can get him to sit in the shade with me. At least we see friends there.

Next week we’ll be in the Upper Peninsula and I fear we’ll be darn chilly. I’m packing primarily sweat and long pants. Shorts and swim suits probably won’t be worn. (Might take one of each.) When we arrive we won’t have any screens so temps that are a little cool will probably be ok. We plan to fix the screen soon after we get there. We do have a fan.

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OCD? Our finances.. Part IV

NOTE: Can you tell I love writing? This OCD topic isn’t of interest to anyone but me, but putting down my thoughts provides me comfort, and points out my quirkiness so I can reign it in (if need be).

When it comes to watching our finances, I’m very careful. I have an ongoing spread sheet which I have maintained since 2007. It shows a rolling total of our “net worth.”

In this spread sheet, I have listed our out-going payments (condo HOA, health care expenses, utilities, etc.) and our income (pension, social security, and any other money coming in). The income minus the out-go shows where we stand financially on a daily basis.

The spread sheet is nearly 4,000 lines long and every day a new line is added. Each morning I take the time to “resolve” the sheet and make sure the money is there to cover any expenditures.

If you ask how much we are worth, I can tell you to the penny.

Our Florida condo, Thomas Township house, and U.P. property are hard to zero-in on but I try to estimate (using Zillow) so those values are added to the overall picture. Our investments are listed and updated when we get statements from the investment firms. It can’t be exact, but I try to have a picture of our finances so we are assured of the cash to make all payments.

I don’t know of anyone else who goes to the lengths I go to resolve their financial picture. It is comforting to me to know exactly where we stand and, like being responsible for our trip arrangements, I take it very seriously.

I guess working for St. Mary’s Medical Center for 23 1/2 years trained me for the role I have assumed. I was the “planning person” for St. Mary’s. Now I’m the planner for our household.

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My previous two posts have covered the possibility that I may have a form of OCD.

I am obsessive about reservations for our October trip south and packing lists but I am anything but tidy and neat. My house is a mess and you can trip on the dust-bunnies. Why? Well, in part because I’m busy making lists for our trip in less than two months.

It would really bug me to find, after getting to Florida, that I’d forgotten something.

An example of the problem which occurs when I may have “left something behind” can be demonstrated with my small Edirol digital recorder. No, I haven’t needed it but it’s been missing since arriving here in the spring. It’s “probably” safe in our Florida condo (I think I forgot it when we packed to head north) but it bothers the heck out of me to be uncertain.

If we get back to our southern home and I can’t locate the recorder, I’ll have to wait over six months to get back to Michigan to look for it. It’ll drive me crazy. So it bothers me. Should I continue to search for it here? (I’ve looked everywhere for it.) Logically, I have concluded that it’s in Florida since I last saw it there and don’t recall packing it. You can see that until we get down there, it’s a no-win situation. I haven’t found it here, so evidently it’s there…. but what if it isn’t?

To avoid that situation I have learned to photograph my clothes hanging in my closet before leaving Florida in May, and before leaving Michigan in October. I also photograph the clothes as I’m packing them. That way, if I am uncertain if an item is here or there, I can look at the photos and try to spot if it was packed.

Yes, I guess I’m a little compulsive, but careful and detailed lists, saves looking for a particular item, only to find I left it at our other home.

I nearly always forget something. It’s sometimes just a specific pair of scissors or a top I’d planned to wear. Generally, it’s something I can get by without or something I can replace, but it still causes me grief and lost sleep, so I make lists and double check them while packing.

One thing is certain, even if something is forgotten, we’ll get by without it or purchase a replacement. Nothing will cause us to make a 1,300-mile trip back (I say as I knock on wood).

And it’s not just me. When we made our trip north in May, some bread we’d planned to use for sandwiches on the way north was left on the kitchen counter. I’m sure it’ll still be there when we arrive on October 8th. That oversight bothered John a lot more than me. No, we didn’t consider going back, but he fumed about it for several hundred miles. So I also include items I fear John will forget and add them to my checklist.

Maybe my OCD is rubbing off on him.

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Do I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)? Part II

I talked about my “trip compulsions” but even more severe is my compulsion for lists (especially regarding the stuff which goes back to Florida).

There’s no way we can just do a “whoops” if I forget something so I try to be certain that everything is packed and/or ready before we pull out.

I make lists of stuff to do before leaving (like contacting our credit card company, notifying the police and water dept.) as well as calls to assure everything is ready in Florida when we arrive (our mail will be delivered on schedule, our newspaper will be there, and cable will be on).

I have packing lists for clothes and items that need to be taken back with us. It would be really annoying if we got back and discovered we’d forgotten John’s handicapped parking placard, or the digital clock which goes on the wall outside the guest room bath, or my favorite afghan, or our air purifier. You get the idea. So my lists are made and re-checked over and over.

Stuff gets added and subtracted as I read and re-read the lists. I start new lists. Maybe I should do one on chores I need to perform before leaving. (Laundry, windows closed, etc.)

I’d like to leave most of my clothes in Michigan but I’ve made some excellent purchases this summer including three pairs of low-heeled sandals and a pair of heels. They need to go with us so I can wear them in Florida this season.

On July 23rd, my post to this blog included some of my purchases this summer. I also bought two skorts (black & white), three dresses (fitted bright colors stretchy, knit (Roni Nichole) stretchy and a maxi dress), a bathing suit, a pair of white slacks, and those blog mentioned super cute tops (water colors, red bare off shoulder, black halter-style plus a more recent purchased halter-style silvery).

I need to leave a similar number of items so I have clothes in Michigan and I don’t have to haul as much back and forth.

Some stuff I haul because I need them both places and don’t want to buy more. An example: my summer robes. I have two nice ones which I drag back and forth. I do leave behind a winter-weight robe in both locations. Jackets also get moved back and forth. I don’t wear them that often, but I need a light-weight jacket or two. I actually have three: brown fuzzy, green really light weight, and a cardigan style off-white.

And there are items like our air purifier, my back up drives, several pairs of scissors. No point buying dupes of those things but I sure don’t want to be without them.

I study my lists. They are long and detailed.

Do I have an obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to list-making for stuff to take to Florida or do before leaving?

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Do I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)? Part I

No, I’m not compulsively neat nor is my house organized, but when it comes to planning for our trip south, I am obsessive.

I think it’s because I feel the planning for motels and other stops is my responsibility. John drives. I make sure everything comes together smoothly.

The reservations for a single over-night stop (on October 6th) have been made since May 26th.

I know that was way ahead of the normal way to make plans, but I do have a good reason: I’ve found that many motels, if booked sufficiently far out, will have lower rates and allow cancellations at 4:00 pm on the day of the reservations.

Last year, I didn’t book soon enough. Our original plan had been to stay on the first night at the half-way point, the Quality Inn in Sweetwater, TN, but when I had tried to make the reservation, I found that, because I’d waited to book until a few weeks before we’d need the room, any cancellation of the reservation would have to be a full day (24 hours) earlier than our first night’s stop. We need to be more flexible. We MUST be able to change our reservations on that day while we’re on the road. And, since we aren’t sure how John’ll hold up, we can’t know the day before.

As it was, instead of two days and one night, we were on the road for three days and two nights. We couldn’t have made it to Sweetwater that first day. We’d have been forced to pay for a room we couldn’t use.

So this year I started earlier (in May). Sure enough, this year, I got a decent rate at the motel in Sweetwater, TN, and if necessary we can cancel up until 4:00 p.m. on the day of the reservation. Sweetwater is our preferred stopping point but only if we can make the 1,250 mile trip in two days and one night.

To allow changes, I have also made reservations for the two overnight stops on a slower trip south. That way we can take three days and two nights, if we need them. And for even more flexibility, for the second night, I also have booked two reservations in southern Georgia so we have two choices about 50 miles apart.

We just have to decide by 4:00 p.m. each day.

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Take to Florida or Leave in Michigan? That is the question..

Since we have sort of decided that our Michigan home should be ready to go on the market when we leave for Florida next October, we know we’ll have to get rid of a lot of stuff and find storage space in our Florida condo for items we won’t want to get rid of.

An example is the harp that John built. It’ll definitely go to Florida. We’re going to have a lot of items like that but we don’t want to overload our Florida condo and, since we don’t have much storage, we’re going to have to be very selective.

This winter, I want to hire someone with carpentry skills so we can have our Florida “office area” converted into floor to ceiling storage as well as additional storage in the garage. There are cabinets in the office now, but they can be moved to the garage. I want him to build deep-as-possible cabinets, pantry, and closets. I have the design in mind but we need to talk to someone who can make sure it’s done right. The wood can be basic plywood painted white. I’m not expecting it to be quality cabinets, just storage space.

Since we’ll still have limited storage, we won’t be able to re-locate too much. I know there are some things that we must take, but a lot will be sold next summer. (We’ll sell our stuff using an estate sale service.)

In addition to my harp, we’ll want to keep some of our musical instruments, John’s dulcimer, his banjo, my dad’s tenor guitar and my autoharp, some stain glass items, some of my collection of craft books, the sling style rocking lounger (in our trailer now to use on our patio), an afgan or two, my sewing machine in its stand (I’ll get rid of the one in Florida), maybe our headboard, my chest of drawers, and the two oak living room end tables John made (to use in Florida as bedside stands), the long walnut coffee table (currently on the loft balcony) to exchange with the table we currently use, the oak file cabinet and print cabinet (in the dining room) so I can set up an office in our B.R., the two brown and white folding chairs John wove, the framed artwork over our bed, and a few miscellaneous items.

If we get the corner curio cabinet I have picked out (from Wayfair), maybe I’d like to keep some glassware and knit knacks.

It might be easier to bring some of the stuff back with us this October. An example is the award and yard statue the ODPC gave me.

It’s hard to get John to think about devesting ourselves of this house, but he knows it has to happen. I doubt that I can get him to start moving items south.

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Heading north in a couple weeks

Hopefully we’ll have decent, warm, bug-free weather when we go up to our Upper Peninsula place. We want to get it ready to sell.

Last year we talked with a realtor about listing it but he didn’t seem interested and never got back with us at all so we’ll find someone else.

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Memories of Snowfest and Our House Guests

Saginaw Subterranean Strings, our fun, performing music club, presented Snowfest concerts in Fischer Hall, Frankenmuth, MI, for 20 years (beginning in 1993). The club, which began in 1992, dissolved in 2013.

Fischer Hall was a lovely place to hold the event and we drew standing-room-only crowds all weekend and made sizeable donations to the Frankenmuth Museum, adjacent to the hall. Our club would play/jam for an hour and then we’d take an hour break and exceptional, invited acts would take the stage for 20-minute performances. We’d end the day with a great “everyone included” finale.

The city of Frankenmuth hosted the international ice and snow sculpting events up and down Main Street while we performed in the Hall, near all the sculptures. Many years it was bitter cold and we passers-by could come inside for free music, a place to sit, and warmth. Audiences came first because they were cold or tired of walking, but they loved the music! Folks started arriving earlier and earlier to get the front-row seats in the lovely, historic opera house and they’d stay put all day.

We would present the concerts for two days (a total of 12 hours of entertainment). John ran the sound and I was director and emcee. We also fed our club and the invited performers. (A potluck supplied by our club helped.) It was exhausting but we loved it!

After the Saturday concerts, John and I would invite the “featured acts” to stay at home. We have only three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths so it was a “tight fit.” After dinner at a local restaurant, the guest performers who lived too far from Frankenmuth to drive back and forth would follow us back to our place.

We extended the invitation, and everyone accepted. We never ran out of food, bedding, bathrooms, hot water, wine, nor wonderful music which was played by others long after we’d fallen asleep

These wonderful house-crowds included Les Raber, Bob Hubbach, Judy Raber, Chuck & Nan Boody, Martha & John Kuch, Cindy & Paul Goelz, and Mary Lou & Hugh Battley. (Not all every year but a full house annually.)

The Kuchs and Cindy & Paul were the first to stay with us.

One year at the last minute, Les Raber, Michigan’s premier fiddler, invited himself. It was an honor to have him stay but we had no rooms left so we made up a bed in the basement (which was sorta finished with a large, comfortable sectional.) Les only stayed down there one year. We worked out other arrangements for him to stay in the guest room the next year.

When Les came, it gave the whole event a big “draw.” Everyone wanted to be where Les was.

The exceptional dulcimer player, Bob Hubbach, asked if he could stay at our place and by then we’d moved Les out of the basement space so that became Bob Hubbach’s area. He returned year after year even after we’d lost Les.

The Battleys stayed in our hot tub room on an elevated air mattress.

Chuck and Nan joined us, driving from Minnesota one or two years. They brought their own air mattress and put it on the balcony.

Just before Les died, Judy Raber, his daughter, started playing fiddle. Les passed away in 1999.

Judy took over Les’s role as a great fiddler and was the last addition to our house party. We bought a twin size air mattress for her but the only place where she’d have any privacy was the dining room (under the table). The last year she slept on a couch instead of the air mattress on the floor.

We finally had to admit that the two-day event had become too much for everyone involved. Our music club officially hosted the weekend, but the members were getting older and all the driving in bad weather a few years frightened us. In 2009, we cut the concert down to ONE day instead of two and the Morningstars hosted a dance on Sunday.

Even with the one-day format, it was difficult for our older members and really hard on us. We would drive back and forth FROM FLORIDA which was crazy for a donated weekend. On our return to Florida in February 2009, we ran into a horrid ice storm and it frightened us. We turned the 2010 Saturday concert over to Dee Dee Tibbits (a lovely, talented entertainer and friend.) She has continued the Snowfest concerts in the perfect venue spot Fischer Hall.

Those concerts and the wonderful hosting opportunities were all so much fun, but now impossible because of John’s health issues.

The other day we had three of our Florida lady friends stop in and I wished we’d planned to have them stay over. I miss having a crowd of folks enjoy our surroundings.

Now we get more visitors in Florida. (The lovely weather in mid-winter probably has something to do with that.) It would now be too much for John to tackle a huge houseful of guests like before because he always loves to present a glorious breakfast for all. He’d make banana and raspberry filled pancakes, an egg/sausage casserole, and lots more. And the night before, we’d have a John’s wine sampling.

But the Snowfest Concerts gave us lovely memories and bonded us to some great friends.

You can see a flyer for the 2006 concert below.



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