About to Head South!

Cool weather has hit Michigan (40’s tonight).

Only week and a half until we’re in Florida.

There are so many last-minute things to do. We haven’t started packing the truck, but a lot is on the dining room table (in the staging area) ready to take it out. It’s loaded!

I feel I’m as ready to head south as I can be at this point, but there’s a lot I need to accomplish. I need to carry the stuff from the dining room to the truck, read through (and follow through) the list of things to do. The house still needs to be cleaned before we can “lock the door” behind us.

There are little things (like changing my ship to address on eBay and Paypal). I need to contact my Visa credit card and the local police so they’ll know we’ve left for the winter.

I’ve about finished packing clothes. There is lots of laundry to be done. And more.

But I look ahead and in less than two weeks we’ll be in the sunny south. Hopefully we’ll have arrived on Saturday, gone to an Oldies but Goodies Dance on Sunday (with Flash Back), John will have gone to a Monday chorus and we’ll have picked up our badges. On Tuesday, I’ll have attended an exercise class or two, and we’ll feel comfortable in our Sun City Center, Kings Point, residence. We’ll go to Karaoke on Tuesday evening. And I want to spend a lot of time lounging at the pool after walking to it.

Sounds hectic, but I love the pace.

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Fall nAllergies

It’s that time of the year! Every fall, from late August until the first heavy frost, I suffer from ragweed allergy. I try to stay inside, but it seeps in.

Today it’s especially bad.

I found this map on line.

That’s another reason I love heading to Florida. There is NO ragweed in our part Florida.

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I subscribed to the Entertainment discount coupons on September 7th at http://entertainment.com.

They offer a $.99 one-month trial and that is perfect for us since, when the month is up, I can cancel. Renewal is almost $5 monthly. Since there are very few Florida Entertainment deals close to our community, renewing for the second month wouldn’t make sense.

Tuesday, the 15th, we tried for the first time to use a discount coupon for a nice dinner but it didn’t work. We wanted to celebrate our 30th anniversary but I was unable to print the coupon. The instructions said you could print a coupon OR use your phone, show it to your server, and you’d get the discount. As it turned out, despite what it said on their website, the waitress said they only accept printed coupons. She suggested putting our phone on a scanner and printing it out that way. We left the restaurant and ate elsewhere. The next day (the 16th) I tried following the servers suggestion, but come to find out, that meant we could only use the coupon that one day and we couldn’t get back that soon. (The printed coupons are normally good for two weeks. I didn’t know that the phone-type coupons expired that day and wouldn’t even be available on the 17th.)

I sent a complaint email to Entertainment’s customer service. Today I got an response saying that that my account had been “re-set” so the coupon could be used. This time, I was successful printing out the paper coupon and next Tuesday we’ll go back to the Rustic Inn and we’ll enjoy our delayed steak dinner. Hope it’s worth all this trouble.

In the meanwhile, I looked ahead to our time in Florida. The only coupon I found that we could use in our area is a pizza coupon on for South Shore Pizza and Subs on College Avenue (aka SR-674). It’s only about two miles from the entrance to our gated community (Kings Point). The coupon is for 50% off the regular price and their pizzas are excellent. Our tradition is to grab a pizza before we go to our condo as we get down there. South Shore is conveniently located for that evening.

Our current $.99 Entertainment membership will expire on October 7. But I thought of a solution. Our current subscription is in John’s name with our Michigan address, skaryds@dulcimers.com, and our 989 phone number.

Before we leave for Florida, I will subscribe under Sharon Skaryd using our Florida address, my gmail or Brighthouse email and our Florida 813 phone number. It’ll cost me $.99 for a month as a new member. With that membership, we’ll get half off the South Shore Pizza price. I will need take time to print it out before we finish packing (since I take the inkjet cartridges with us).

We can pick up the pizza and then head to our condo in Kings Point, Sun City Center. It’ll be just as close as stopping at Hungry Howie’s where we usually pick up our first evening meal to enjoy at the condo. Pizza from South Shore is better but usually more pricy! Hungry Howie’s a bargain at $6, but I just figured it out and the regular price for a large pepperoni from South Shore would be $10.99 plus tax. With half off the $10.99, we’ll pay approximately $5.50.) Sounds good!

We’ll just need to remember to exit at the Ruskin exit to the west, instead of the next exit which is toward Sun City Center to the east. And hopefully we left a couple beers in the ‘fridge.


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After the Fall…

Since I fell and badly broke my wrist on July 11th, 2014, my life has changed and things are totally different. The 5 1/2 hour surgery when two plates and 16 screws were inserted left me with a hand that doesn’t work like it should. It’s numb and hot and cold sensitive with little flexibility.

Yes, I get by, but even little jobs like peeling and removing the apple cores causes discomfort. (I tried to help John peel apples but my whole hand’s been sore since I did that little chore for about a half hour.)

I doubt if I’ll ever feel I can move and use it normally as I did before I fell.

As a result of this change in my life, things continue to change:

I’ve gained more weight because I’m less active.
I find walking and dancing more difficult because I’m fearful of falling again.
I’m less energetic because I’m not moving around as much (one breeds the other).
It’s an effort to do any housework, so it doesn’t get done.
Because I’m chubby, I feel old and unattractive.
My clothes don’t look good on me.

Oh, well… It could be worse. We can afford the best of care.

I still have my wonderful husband beside me and our life is pretty easy.

When we get to Florida, I’m sure I’ll be more active. I vow to go to exercise classes and walk more. I’ll feel younger.

Four years ago I wrote a blog post about feeling younger when in Florida. https://sharons-blog.com/?p=6659

At that time, I said, “Something about the Southern climate and attitude changes us. (snip) I’ll bet if a test could be done, we’d each de-age by 20 years. I can’t help but wonder if we stayed in the south all year if our age-regression would take us back to childhood.” I feel that way more and more. I can’t wait to be a kid again.

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55th Reunion

Tonight we’ll attend my Midland High School Class of 1960 reunion. It’ll be the 55th! Not overly anxious but it might be fun/interesting. I’ll report on the event later.


It was an ok night. Not great, but I’m glad we went.

A big reason for going to a reunion is to compare yourself with others. I felt we measured up. My guy was the best looking, and even John said I rated very high among the ladies.

It was nice seeing Sue Lloyd, Carole and Jim DeLong, Pat Sycle, Cindy Dehn, and other “old” friends.

There was no meal, just munchies but enough to fill us up. Drinks were on the high priced side. (Steep for an American Legion which is usually very reasonable.)

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My on-line business selling dulcimers

In October 2004, I started selling hammered dulcimers.

My friend, Rick Thum and awesome instrument builder, had encouraged me. I’d decided to try selling on line and established http://dulcimers.biz. My sales were never huge, and in fact I didn’t sell any at all in 2014 (eight in 2013). Starting this summer, things seemed to be picking up. I have sold four in the past few months.

Wednesday, I called Jim Newman, owner of Jake’s Cabin Dulcimers. Jake’s builds the smaller instruments Rick Thum used to sell: Meadowlarks, Wrens, and Travelers. I was placing an order with him. During that call, he informed me that he is giving up his business. Unless he is able to sell the rights to those instruments, there will no longer be a Jake’s Cabin Dulcimers.

I’m not changing anything on my website at this point. I am suggesting that buyers check with Chris Foss (Songbird Dulcimers). I admire and respect Chris. His instruments are an excellent quality. I also recommend Lost Valley Dulcimers formerly built by Linda Foley and Curt Sanders and now built by Jerry Cyr.

I’ll also continue to give information to those who are just getting started.

Maybe I’ll find another builder with instruments I can distribute. I’ve thought about calling and talking with Chris or Jerry, but I figure there’s time and I want lots of free time to play in Florida. I don’t want to be tied to my computer revising site pages.

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Lots of plans (from now until end of October)

We’ve been making plans for the next couple of months.

We’ll only be in Michigan for about three more weeks but here’s what’s lined up:
My 55th class reunion is this Saturday.
While in Michigan, John has plans for doctor and optical appointments and we both have dental cleanings scheduled.
We will probably try to go to the grand opening of the Evergreen Tavern on September 25th and/or 26th for a pig roast.
We’re still owed a dinner for our 30th anniversary.
October 3rd or 4th we’ll visit Audra, John’s daughter.
October 6th we have a Skaryd family dinner planned in Owosso.
October 7th a senior luncheon.
And on Sundays at the Evergreen from 4-8, Tuesdays at the Back Forty from 6-9, and Thursdays at the Evergreen from 6-9, we can attend country dances. We may not go to all but they are available and fun.

Then we’ll head to Florida on October 9th and arrive on the 10th.

On October 11th we have an Oldies but Goodies dance, a Michigan Club welcome back wine and cheese party on the 20th, a bar-be-q and potluck on the 29th, a Baby Boomers Halloween Party on the 31st.

In October, we have dermatologist, pulmonologist, optical, and physical appointments.

If we feel like it, we can go to exercise, chorus and dance classes, Tuesday karaokes, Thursday Rockin’ Rendezvous, and several meetings including John’s Wednesday “pickers” gathering. We have pool parties and pool relaxation. There’s a Kings Point garage sale on the 23rd and 24th.

And that only takes us through the end of October. We have lots more in November and December, but looking two months out is sufficient for this update.

Busy busy busy. Love it but I’m already tired thinking about all the stuff we have on our agenda.

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Started packing

Previously I’d vowed I’d wait until a week before we leave to start packing. Last year I started too early and by the time we were ready to leave, I forgotten what I’d packed. I couldn’t remember if or where it was stashed. I ended up unpacking and repacking, so I promised myself I’d wait until “last minute.” Sadly I’m too impatient. Nothing’s in the truck, so it’s not technically “packed,” but I went through my closet and moved everything I’ll be taking together. I can see how much that’ll be. I can easily add to the grouping, if I discover items I’ve missed. Everything is still accessible.

I also went through the two flat bins I use for capris and slacks. I have twice as many pair as I need for Florida so I’ve decided I’ll leave quite a few pair in Michigan. I tried them on and picked out a bunch to leave behind. At this point I am able to fit those capris, slacks, and shorts that I’ll take in one bin. I’ll use the other bin for tops. Dresses and items I don’t want wrinkled will be dealt with differently.

Lingerie, bathing suits, and jackets will all go in a plastic garbage bag with other items (maybe hair care, medicines and office supplies). And my jewelry, and perfume will go in my carry-in bag. My shoes are all packed now in a heavy clear plastic bag.

This year it seems there are more than the usual number of extras: wine, musical instruments, air purifier, vacuum cleaner, deck chairs, and power washer but we’ll manage somehow.

I’m gathering a pile of stuff in the dining room: Tax records, extra bottles of instant coffee, and other things from my packing list are in that staging area. More will be added over the next three weeks. I want to be packed by about October 1st. John will be packing all the pails of wine and the perishable food that we’ll take from our refrigerator.

Since I have several lists to check against, I feel I’m sorta organized.

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Computer wouldn’t let me in

One of those hair-pulling days.

I have a good size USB drive I use for back-up and it is messed up. When I try to use it, an error comes up saying it is write protected even though it isn’t. I decided to work on it and see if I could reformat it.

I tried countless on-line suggestions but none worked. I stumbled on one which sounded do-able — to let my computer format it in “Safe Mode.” All of the extras would be shut off and the formatting might work.

I started up the computer in “safe mode” but my computer has a four digit number for a password and when I tried to get in, my pin number didn’t work. I couldn’t get any further.

I called Lenovo’s customer service. Come to find out the password is a Windows function so I’d have to work with Microsoft. I was given a Windows/Microsoft site to reset my password, but I figured out on my own that if I needed to use the Microsoft password, maybe that would solve the problem.

Yes!!! My original Microsoft/Windows password worked. Once I got in, I shut off safe mode, gave up the idea of formatting the usb thumb drive, and bought another from eBay.

But before I got to that point, I read the user guide. It was scary. It said that if I’d forgotten my password, there was no help for me. Either an authorized service center would try to fix it or I’d need a new mother board. Both would be at my cost. I hadn’t forgotten my pw but who would believe me? When I got it to work, I felt much better. Whew!

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Today’s our day!

Today, September 10th, is our 30th wedding anniversary. Sadly neither of us felt up to par today.

To celebrate, the plan had been to go to a steakhouse (Rustic Inn in St. Charles) and then dancing at a nearby establishment (The Evergreen on Swan Creek Road). But both of us felt yucky all day (an intestinal thing) and we finally admitted it to each other.

We decided to postpone our celebration to another time within the next week. Hopefully then a nice (extravagant) meal will be enjoyed. So our dinner tonight was a cheap bottle of wine and a frozen chicken kiev on rice while watching the ripples on the lake outside our great room window. I’m not complaining and I sure felt better staying home and not trying to go out. Hopefully we’ll enjoy a fancy restaurant meal in a few days.

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Our 30th Anniversary

Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating a milestone. September 10th is our 30th wedding anniversary!

Yup, 30 years ago we were married.

It was a very small ceremony at a nearby church. The minister was our friend, Dick McCool, chaplin at St. Mary’s, who passed away several years ago. You can read about him here: sharon’s blog post about Dick (Chaplin Richard) McCool. He was a very close friend and he always said we were his best “success story.” It was special to have such a brave, inspirational person officiate. He was amazing.

The witnesses to our wedding were my parents, John’s parents and his two children. When the ceremony was over we headed to my (our) house on Hemmeter where we had cake, coffee, and munchies. Nothing fancy. It was appropriately low-key.

The next morning, John and I headed out on our honeymoon to Toronto. We almost missed the train, but it was all fun. We were only gone part of a week.. a lovely experience.

No big hype, but whatever we did stuck. We’ve held onto those vows for 30 years, and plan to continue together for the rest of our lives.

As John says, it’s getting a little late to start over and by no means do either of us desire a “re-start.”

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Wine Making

John’s making pear wine in the kitchen and our house smells like a cheap bar. I swear if I take a deep breath, I’ll be over the legal limit. (And the fermentation is just starting. It’ll get worse.)

Did I mention sticky floors? I use my swiffer floor scrubber many, many, many times each day but the floors can still stop me in my tracks. I love his wine, but the time when it’s being prepared is a challenge. Come and rescue me if you don’t hear from me. I’m probably stuck to the kitchen floor.

We’ll be hauling the wine to Florida with us. Last year we used five gallon carboys and one cracked down the seam while in route. Every time we stopped, I commented that I could smell wine. By the time we got to our condo, we’d lost half from that container. They could have followed our trail all the way from Michigan down I-75. This year John’s doing it differently. He’ll put the wine in five gallon covered “pails” which are less apt to crack. There are other advantages of pails over carboys: they are lower and flat on top so some stuff can ride on them and they are stackable to bring them back to Michigan.

It looks like it’s going to be tough cramming everything in. We thought that on this trip back, we’d be traveling light, but the load keeps growing. The wine might crowd out the deck chairs I really want to bring for our lanai. I’m so hoping for four of them but I may have to settle for two, if we can even fit them in.

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I succeeded!!

Yesterday when I discovered that the “Email Me” link on the right side in the “Menu” area of this page no longer functioned, I got busy and I found a fix for it.

I will have to add the same fix to several other pages where I thought folks could send emails to me. Hope this works. Please try it out. Just say hi.

And thanks!!

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Who is reading this stuff?

I’ve been posting more lately.

Maybe that has something to do with why https://sharons-blog.com has been getting more hits.

I just checked and, Webilizer (the tracking system used by Bluehost, my company) shows 12 months of data at a time.

Since September, 2015, only has four days, it’s really not a complete count for this month. Yet the 12 months October 2014-September 2015 has recorded 1,272,786 hits for https://sharons-blog.com. During the same period, dulcimers.com, which is my main site, has recorded 1,554,477. Doesn’t seem possible!

Who is listening to the ramblings of this 73-year-old lady, Sharon Skaryd? Just who are you? Sometimes I wish I allowed comments, but I found many years ago that there are too many abusers when comments are permitted. Language, sex toy promotions, etc. all would have to be deleted and I just don’t have the patience to deal with perversion.

Note: Because of this post, I tried the email link on the right side of the page (in the menu area). It isn’t working. Times have changed and the method previously used has been eliminated so I need to revise it. I will also have to change the coding on several pages. I will try to do it this next week. I do hope folks know I would welcome any emails sent to me at sharon@sharons-blog.com or to skards@dulcimers.com.

Yo..hoo….. who’s out there?

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Five Weeks

Five weeks from today (on Friday, October 9th), we take off for Florida. We’ll leave as early as possible and arrive 640 miles later at the Quality Inn in Sweetwater, Tennessee, at about 6:30 p.m.

The next morning (Saturday, the 10th), we’ll be up early, enjoy a breakfast provided by the motel, and hit the highway by 8:00. Our arrival (after several potty stops and lunch break), will get us to our condo at 5:54 p.m. Obviously the times may vary a little but I figure everything out pretty closely and unless there are major traffic problems, we should get there pretty much on schedule. We want to arrive before dark. Sunset occurs at 7:05 that night. By arriving before 6:00, we should be able to eat, then unload while it’s light.

Eat? Yes, we wait until we get to the condo to enjoy dinner. We’ll stop at Hungry Howies in Sun City Center and pick up a large pepperoni carry-out pizza which we’ll have ordered 10-minutes before Exit 240A. The plan is to take our still hot pizza to the condo, rush inside, pop open a couple of beers and enjoy meal #1 at 2604 Newcomb Court.

Then the unloading will start. There are always a few things that need to come in, and that’s why we will appreciate the hour (or more) before darkness. We won’t be able to totally settle-in, but it really isn’t necessary because so much is still at the condo from spring when we left. The bed will be ready for us, cable and internet started. We’ll bring in the perishables and do the rest the next day.

When we get up the next morning (Sunday), the Tampa Tribune should be on the drive. We’ll spend most of the day getting everything out of the truck.

Sounds like I have everything figured out but John’s wine may create problems. He’s making more and more which takes up a lot of space. We want to take back four stacking deck chairs with fluffy cushions. Might be a tight fit. (Especially since we have a few other big items to take back: our musical instruments, air purifier, power washer, and Shark vacuum plus our clothes, shoes, and food.)

Maybe Sunday we’ll have time to go to the pool, but probably not. (I’ll want to wash my hair and freshen up because at 6:30 Sunday evening, we’ll be at the Oldies But Goodies dance at the Community Hall in Sun City Center. Our favorite band, Flash Back, will be playing for our dancing pleasure.

Betcha after a glass or two of wine, and some trips around the dance floor, we’ll be ready for bed Sunday night (October 11th).

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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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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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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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Love a bargain!

I’m a coffee drinker. I drink two huge (14 oz) mugs of coffee (black) every morning. I’ve always loved hazelnut coffee but unless I get the flavored ground coffee, I not satisfied with the taste. And the extra cost for ground hazelnut puts it way over my price-point. I’ve tried the liquid hazelnut syrups but they always taste fake and way too sweet. But recently I discovered Folgers Flavors™.

Unfortunately they aren’t cheap. Best local price is $3.79 plus tax for a tiny 1.62 oz bottle. They are about twice that on Amazon.

I was finally successful finding a great deal at http://smucker.com. Yes, I had to buy four bottles (my choice of flavor so I got four hazelnut) and I had to agree to a scheduled delivery plan, but by doing it that way, I got free shipping and a 10% discount. My total price for the four bottles was $10.80 ($2.70 per bottle), delivered, with no tax!! I placed the order yesterday. It was delivered this a.m.

I have my shipment schedule set up for a four bottle order every three months, but that may not be frequent enough. Fortunately it’s easy to change the order schedule and the “ship to” address is also changeable. Since the orders are filled so fast, if I find I’m low, I can speed up the delivery. When I open the first bottle, I’ll mark it with the date so I’ll have a better idea of how long a bottle lasts. (It doesn’t take much to flavor my big mug perfectly.)

Sure love this stuff.

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Hot Spell

It’s been HOT here in Michigan (yesterday 92 and at least 90 for several days before).

In our Florida paradise, it’s currently 84 and it was only in the high 70’s yesterday afternoon. After today, the forecast is for temperatures in the low 80s for at least a week.

Folks who think Michiganders suffer from perpetual frost even in summer months don’t realize that we often have excessively high heat and humidity. It’s often hotter here than in the sunny south and our humidity is often equal or higher than Sun City Center’s.

Next week we will probably head to our place in the Upper Peninsula and that almost guarantees it’ll cool down. Forecast is for high 60’s-low 70’s.

We rarely get it right.

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Life in Limbo

We had so many plans before we came back to Michigan.

We were going to enlarge and replace our greatroom window and renovate our kitchen. Nothing has happened.

We had several window company estimators come to our house, but in the end, we couldn’t agree on what we wanted, and the designs that we preferred didn’t seem to be possible.

John wanted a bow or bay window which I felt would create a problem using the table we prefer for our meals in front of the window. I wanted a window nearly to the floor, but John couldn’t see any advantage.

So we changed our focus to the kitchen. We invited a contractor to give us an estimate and help with our plans, but he kept waiting for us to say what we wanted and we were waiting for him to give us his vision of what would work. He fell short in being helpful as a visionary. We need someone who can point us in the right direction. Yes, we have ideas which we expressed, but he never offered any suggestions at all. (Not helpful.)

A second contractor sounded interested and wasn’t available for a few days but he supposed to call us before coming one of three days but we never heard from him. We haven’t found anyone else to help with ideas.

The summer’s nearly over and nothing has happened.

In a week or two, we’ll go up north and get rid of the bed foundations which are stored in the hot tub room. I’m hoping when they’re cleared out and that room doesn’t look so crowded, we can at least get the first and second floors of our place in order. It doesn’t look too bad right now but it could be better. I’d also like to get serious about purging, especially on the second floor since that’s a do-able job.

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Too Relaxed

Life’s great. So relaxed with nothing stressful going on nor even on the horizon.

I’m ready to get back to Florida but the next two months will fly by. No point wishing my life away.

Finally feeling better. I think I was just exhausted. The stress of the festival took a tole.

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Half a Bubble Off

My husband will refer to being “half a bubble off” which indicates he isn’t “up to par.” (Those who have used a bubble level will know what half a bubble off would mean.) Today I’m half.. or maybe three-quarters of a bubble off. Just don’t feel good. Lost sleep last night and the night before. For a couple days, I’ve felt queasy and I’ve had a digestive problem. Not fun. Thankfully we don’t have anything pressing to attend. John hasn’t felt peachy either so we’re glad to have some down-time. I’m sure I’ll soon feel better.

Maybe a nap would help.

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Home from Evart (tired!)

We’ve been back home from the huge, wonderful, ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) Funfest since Sunday. It’s Wednesday and we’re still tired. In fact we’re both more tired today than Monday or Tuesday. Can’t understand that but we’re definitely pooped. We went dancing last night but didn’t stay as long as usual. Guess it’s wise to listen to our bodies. It takes longer to recover than when we were younger but I fear that if we don’t listen and take time to recover, we could easily get sick.

The festival was great!

imageIt was my 20th (and last) year as Workshop Chairman. I was honored numerous times with a plaque from the ODPC for being “Outstanding Volunteer” and a gift (a sculpture for a garden). There were also lots of personal notes. One of the thank-you letters was from my good (young) friend Gracie. I will cherish it forever. There was even a reception (complete with a large sheet cake), and we were Grand Marshals of the parade.

The pictures are from the reception.

imageThe statue could go outside, but for now it’s on the floor near our front door and it looks perfect.

We are gradually emptying our trailer of stuff that we won’t need until next year. No rush. Eventually we’ll get everything done. Feels great to know that we can take our time. There’s no deadline to meet.

Sure I have a couple chores to complete: a huge pile of laundry, thank you notes to write, a report of my expenses, and clothes to put away, but we have no up-coming appointments so we can do it at a snail’s pace.

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At the ODPCFunfest

Lots of wonderful music and nice folks. Weather has changed every day. We’ve had warm, cold, windy and wet. Perfect temps right now.

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Soon we’ll be headed to the ODPC Funfest

We head to Evart, MI, Thursday, for the Original Dulcimer Players Club’s Funfest. The world’s largest hammered dulcimer gathering.

In two days we’ll be there. I can’t understand why I’m not more eager. Every year I’ve excitedly anticipated our big festival which is always the most fun of our year. Maybe it’s because now we have so many truly rewarding adventures in Florida that they’ve stolen some of the luster. Or maybe it’s because we haven’t been playing as much music (but I still love the genre that’s played there.) Or maybe it’s because this is my last year as workshop chairman so maybe I’m already disassociating myself from the event. Or it could be because last year I fell on the 9th of July at the festival and broke my wrist so the 2014 festival wasn’t really fun and now it may represent something else to me.

All I know is that I’m getting ready (and so is John) but neither of us are all that anxious. We’ll see lots of great people and many of our close friends, so I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

I just wish I was more excited.

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Richard and Shelly Brooks Home is for sale


Video of their listing.


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And here is the Brooks’ house

We stayed at Richard and Shelly’s place in 2013 and 2014. (Cooper’s this year and in 2011 and 2012.) The Brooks have their place up for sale.


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Visit to Coopers

Here are some photos of Cooper’s lovely home where we spent last weekend:


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I once felt….

I used to feel I was way ahead of the curve when it came to being tech savvy and up-to-date on trends but lately I’m realizing how behind I am. Sure I can do lots on line and with my computer but here’s proof that I’m waaaay behind:

I don’t Tweet!

I don’t text much (only occasionally).

I never Skype.

I don’t have an Instagram account.

I don’t do Facetime.

I don’t own any Apple products nor have I ever.

I don’t own a tablet.

I don’t own a selfie stick (although admittedly I’ve taken selfies).

So I admit I haven’t stayed current but I guess that’s acceptable. Afterall, I’m 73.

I am ahead of the previous generation but that’s not saying much. Heck my mom wouldn’t even get a cell phone and definitely didn’t approve of on-line-banking.

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John is firm about not selling our house. He won’t even consider it. I am realizing that’s not going to change, at least not in the foreseeable future. Therefore I’m pushing us to do some upgrades to the kitchen, the master bathroom, and the floors in the 1/2 bath and utility room. We may end up spending $30,000 but in the long run, when the house is sold (and someday it will happen), it’ll need to be done.

Today we had a contractor come and look over the kitchen. Right now we’re leaning toward opening the kitchen by getting rid of the bar, and we’ll have 42″ cabinets installed. The extra height will give us more storage, plus we’d move the refrigerator and the old refrigerator space will enlarge the pantry. In the end, it’ll be open with granite countertops, quality floor, pendant lights and nicer cabinets.

We’re thinking it over and our next step is to visit the cabinet store. (Don’t know if we’ll get to do that until after we’re back from the festival because we leave next Thursday.)

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Visit with friends

Every year for the past five, we’ve spend a summer weekend at the homes of the Brooks and Coopers (aka Shelly & Richard and Caroline & Stephen) at White Lake, MI. The two couples host a bunch of us who live in our Florida community during the winter months (Kings Point) but are from Michigan. Both couples are excellent hosts. For sleeping, they divide our big group between the two lovely homes. We were there this past weekend but the weather was lousy. Saturday it was about 63 with rain!

We were housed at Cooper’s in their guest room. (Lovely!)

Although the weather didn’t cooperate enough for us to enjoy fireworks, we had a great time! Evidently we ate WAY too much, though, since Stephen and Caroline had a Zumba instructor come to their house Sunday morning to try and get us back into shape. What a riot!

It was all fun! I learned a couple new card games, got a little exercise and saw people I truly enjoy.

I recall years when we opened our house to a crowd. It was always so much work to get ready for a reward which was way too brief. I would assume that those two couples feel the same.

This was the last year we’ll have the gathering because Richard and Shelly are selling their place and the crowd is too large for one place. But we have loved every time they’ve hosted us and we are truly grateful!

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I’ll never remember

We signed up for basic Charter Cable TV in May when we returned from Florida. Charter Cable isn’t as all-inclusive as our Brighthouse service in Florida, but it gives us an acceptable number of channels and provides me with hi-speed internet. Previously for TV, we used a digital roof-top antenna and, since our bedroom set is older, for it, we needed to also use a digital converter.

Our current plan provides us with one Charter Cable box which is hooked up to our flat-screen living room TV. In our bedroom, we still use the old, rooftop digital antenna with the old set to watch the news before we shut it off for the night.

Here’s the problem: To turn on our Michigan L.R. TV, we need to use TWO remotes, one for the cable box and one for the TV. (The TV remote switches the picture from a tiny image up in the left corner on a menu screen to full-screen). (This problem has to do with the set being older, even though it’s digital.)

For now, in the bedroom, again we need two remotes: one for the digital converter and one for the TV set. After Evart, we will bring in the flatscreen TV from the trailer, which will eliminate the need for a converter. (Note: We did do this.)

In the living room, not only do we have to deal with two remotes, but the cable channels are numbered totally different than the “through the air” channels we get in the bedroom. Example: air channel 5 (CBS) is cable channel 7, air channel 25 (NBC) is cable 4, air channel 12 (ABC) is cable 11 and air channel 66 (FOX) is cable 8. So confusing!! And a couple times the cable’s gone out so we’ve gone reverted to “air.” What a mess.

Ok, so I assume we can handle that. We have learned our favorite channels and we’re able to switch back and forth from the living room to the bedroom. We’re figuring it out. Sometimes we make mistakes, and it’s taken a while to get into the swing, but we’re managing.

Now here’s the next catch:

We’ll be leaving Michigan in October (less than four months from now). When we get to Florida, we again will have a whole different setup. In Florida, we have a newer Samsung 3D 65″ Florida Smart TV. Brighthouse Cable provides us with a totally different selection of channels to memorize. At least, it is easier in Florida because at least the living room and the bedroom incoming signals match each other (and 10 is 10 on both sets and Brighthouse sticks pretty close to the original numbering of channels), although we get several hundred fewer channels in the bedroom. (Up to channel 95, it’s the same.) The living room remotes, when correctly set-up can allow the use of only one. Same is true of the bedroom.

We are getting to the point where memorizing all these TV channels isn’t easy. And learning all the various remotes is tough. I can count four (or five remotes) in Michigan and two (or three) in Florida. That’s a mind-full.

Eventually that may become another reason to give up our Michigan home.

I save instructions for us to use in the two areas (in May-Oct. and in Oct.-May). I spell out which remotes to use and how to start them up. Guess I’m getting old, but at least I’m still sharp enough to realize I need to write down the “how to” so I can get things to work quickly and without a lot of effort.

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Books galore

I have always enjoyed reading and there’s never a time when I don’t have a book that has me hooked.

A few years ago I realized that holding a paperback (or hard cover) for hours would cramp my hand. I switched to a Kindle and the problem was solved.

I belong to BookBub and get lots of free books from Amazon. I currently have a “Kindle library” of unread digital books that numbers in the hundreds or maybe thousands.

This week, as I’ve been purging our house, I have found many stashes of my books. They’re stuck all over. I could take them to my favorite book store, Maxie’s, where I’d get credit toward more books but I don’t need more so the Salvation Army resale store has and will benefit.

I know I’m so far behind that I’ll never catch up, but every day when I check the free books on Amazon, I find another one or two that I can’t resist.

At least my Kindle is feeding my addiction and my library doesn’t take up physical space.

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Memories from fabric

I decided to clean out the guest room closet where I for years I have stored clothes I no longer wear. I haven’t even opened the closet door for quite a while so I’m safe getting rid of almost everything. As I went through them, I found myself recalling when I bought or wore each one. Some I still like (but most are several sizes too small). There were huge shoulder pads, a lot of denim (including a denim bustier), ankle length dresses, and tailored business suits. Some of them are 20-30 years! All are in excellent condition.

I am purging so most everything was unceremoniously loaded into bags for the Salvation Army’s resale shop. So far I’ve filled three huge trash bags and there’s a pile that wouldn’t fit.

When I took a break, I went on ebay and I did a search using “1980’s dress.” I was surprised that dresses similar to mine are actually commanding a fairly high price. I don’t want to mess with selling, packing, shipping, so what I’m not throwing away, I’ll just unload at the resale place. A few decent coats will go into our “to be sold at out September garage sale” pile.

Wile looking through the eBay postings, I spotted a top on that reminded me of one of my items I had planned to get rid of. Mine is a hand-crocheted lined skirt which comes to mid-calf and a matching off-the-shoulder lined top. (The top can be worn separately.)

I retrieved it and tried it on, and it is dern cute and it fits! I’m not donating it!! It’s going with me back to Florida to wear to one of our many dances.

There are only a few items I won’t get rid of: my wedding dress, several hand-made German-style drindls from my years living in Frankenmuth, and some historic style dresses for reenactor-type performances. Most everything else is going.

When I finish the guest room closet, I have two rolling closets in the basement to go through. I’ll feel so much better when it’s done. Then I can tackle the loft closet and the basement. So much clutter! It’s time to get rid of most of it. When it’s all cleaned out, maybe John will more favorably consider selling this place. As it is, he says selling would mean cleaning out, and that’s a difficult thought to face.

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It seems that more and more of the “snow birds” we know are selling their homes and moving permanently to Kings Point, our gated community in Florida. In our circle of friends, we see it happening a lot! The pattern seems to be fairly consistent. Folks have a place they love in our Florida community but their ties to the north remain solid for a few years. When fully retired, going back and forth and maintaining a northern residence eventually loses it’s luster. After a few years, the idea of the “easy life” in KP becomes attractive enough that the northern place is sold and Florida residency becomes year-round. This season, we know of four KP friends (couples) who have their up-north places sold or for sale, with the intention to move full-time to Florida. Some will continue to go back and forth but they’ll be staying in the north for a shorter time and without the responsibilities of home ownership in another state.

In our group, Val sold her place on a lake in Michigan a couple weeks ago. Judy & Bob and Shelly & Richard have their places up for sale. Pennye & Bill and Cindy & Fred have either sold or are selling their northern residences and moving full-time to Florida.

Last year, Sharon & Dave made the move, and I believe, Sherry & Bob are now Florida residents.

And there are some who are seriously contemplating a move (Caroline & Stephen).

Eventually we’ll be in the list, but not this year (nor next.)

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It’s not all past tense!

On my website, dulcimers.com, there’s a link in the main top menu under “Mainsite” that will take you to our biography (called “About Us”.)

Although this informational page covering our life was started about twenty years ago, I try to update it frequently. Today when I re-read it, I realize that almost everything was “past tense,” so I added this:

After reading the above summary of “The Skaryds’ Life,” it sounded like everything is “past tense.” Not so! Yes, we’ve had a busy 30 years as man and wife and we’re in our 70’s, but we’re far from done. When in Michigan, we go dancing every Tuesday (or more often, if we can find a country band), John is always occupied with the exterior upkeep of the house and I’m trying to keep up with the inside. And I love my computer where I do a lot of shopping, surfing and web design. We belong to the local Moose Club, a local senior group, and enjoy getting together with family and friends.

Some stuff is more difficult for both of us. Last summer I broke my right wrist and it hasn’t worked correctly since then and John’s lung problem has taken a lot from him. But we’re both anticipating our return to Florida in October. In our southern community, we’ll be working with the Michigan Club on parties and activities, we belong to the Oldies but Goodies Dance Club, the Kings Point Baby Boomers, and we take dance lessons every week. We also dance every Thursday, John plays banjo Wednesdays with the “Pickers” group, and I try to walk to the pool when we aren’t in other activities. We hope to do more performing with Kings Strings. And we totally enjoy a fun group of lively friends so we’re always going to parties or other social events.

I guess I’d like to elaborate. Yes, we’ve passed through several phases in our life.

We both worked; we both retired. Starting in 1992, were totally involved in the music world and ran a busy performing club (Saginaw Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer Club). John ran the Midland Dulcimer Festival, but because of his lung problem, in 2009 he to give that role up. I was Workshop Chairman at the ODPC Funfest beginning in 1996 but after 20 years, I’ve retired from that position.

I deserve to “enjoy” rather than work full time.

If the truth is known, I gave up the Workshop Chairman role because it cut into our fun time. I want us to be able do more together. John has patiently watched me organize the huge workshop program but it takes me a great deal of my time starting in January and then becoming really intense from April-July. Maybe we can go camping. Maybe we can make it to the U.P. more. Maybe we can dance more.

Life is great!

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Taking it Easy

Since visiting my physical therapist last week I’ve decided to relax a little. Life is short. She recognized that my wrist is bothered by strenuous work and suggested hiring a cleaning service.

It’s true; there is a lot that I could do around here, but it’s time we found someone else to help out. I want to hire a cleaning person. John doesn’t approve. In the meanwhile, I do some stuff each day, but when my wrist starts feeling uncomfortable, I stop. There’s no reason to work too hard. No one is going to see it, no one stops by. This house is for our enjoyment. Keeping it shouldn’t represent just work.

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Didn’t take long

The ODPC only took a couple days to replace me. At least now I know I’ve finished that responsibility. 20 years was enough. I’m done.

I was amazed at the out-pouring of appreciation from friends on Facebook after I made the announcement:

I said: Yes, I retired. After 20 years, this week I told Kathy Rayman that I’d like her to find someone else to take over the ODPC Workshop Chairman duties and the preparation of the workshop program. After doing it for 20 years, it seems appropriate that someone else assume my role. Sue Crandle has stepped forward. Thank you, Sue. I’m sure she’ll do a great job. Of course I still need to complete this year’s program.

Shelly Zipper Moss Brooks Congratulations. A well deserved retirement. Now u can stay in Florida longer.

Sharon Skaryd No – not in Florida. Now I’ll be able to help John more around here. This place is too big for one healthy guy to keep it up, and John’s not in the best health. He needs more of my assistance. The ODPC job has always filled most of May, much of June, and into July. That left him doing all the house and up-keep stuff. I am so relieved!! He deserves more from me.

Peg Earl After all your hard work and dedication you deserve time for you and John. You’ve done a wonderful job!

Chuck Boody The impact you and John have made on The dulcimer world in general and Evart in particular is huge! “Thank you (both)” is insufficient, but the best I can manage.

Caroline Cooper Thank goodness. A well deserved retirement

Sharon Skaryd I was there through ODPC Presidents Wes Linenkugel, Don Fitzpatrick, Gail Schwandt, and now Kathy Rayman. I’ve seen every type of management style and what works and what doesn’t. We love the festival. (Obviously!)

Lou Miller Hibbard Thank you , Sharon. You have done an outstanding job.

Gwyn Besner Thank you for your years of service. It has been an amazing job1 Well done!

Lee Anne Whitman Thanks to you from me, too, Sharon! We appreciate you so much!

Jim Coon What a wonder job you have done.

George Jeanette Wilkins Congratulations Sharon. You did a wonderful job.

Judi Emery Morningstar Thank you for all your hard work. You did an amazing job. Now I hope you don’t think you’re just gonna stay in Florida & not attend the festival. I’m sure Sue will have a lot of questions for some time to come. Planning over 200 workshops isn’t all that easy for us mortals.

Pat Snover Tait Congrats on a fabulous run. Great organization. Thanks for being “Mom” for 20 years. Time to relax. Well deserved retirement.

Todd N Pam Bowman Thank you Sharon! You have done a great job from the start – always very organized and consistent – thank you for all of the many hours of planning that helps/helped make the Evart Funfest a great time smile emoticon

Lynn Gehringer Thank you for all you have done for a long time before I discovered the ODPC. It is time for you to spend as much time as you can doing what you choose.

Bruce Evans As previously stated, “Thank you,” doesn’t even come close. But Thank you for taking me in as a workshop leader and for all you have done for all of us.

Jeff Allen Thank you Sharon from the bottom of my heart for all you have done to make the Funfest what it is. For the countless hours of work putting workshops together you have done a marvelous job. Enjoy your time now!! smile emoticon

Gail Robinson Schwandt Good for you, Sharon! You did a terriffffic job. I remember standing in our church asking you if you might like to be more involved with the ODPC and be the workshop chairman. So many years have passed and you elevated the programs to a remarkable level. Kudos. Your dedication and love for the club and fest never waivered. I think Sue has big shoes to fill but I also believe she will do a wonderful job, she’s a great choice. All things move on, now you can enjoy your spring and early summer months without the pressure. Enjoy your well earned rest.

Mary Lou Battley Our congratulations for a job well done and way beyond the call of duty! Thank you for all the hours you have spent organizing a bunch of cats. You have added sooo much to the Evart Funfest.

I’m truly moved by their appreciation. I certainly didn’t do it for the recognition, but it’s nice to see that I left these folks I admire with a good impression.

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I want to be replaced!

I have just completed the biggest part of the huge ODPC workshop project that I’ve done for 20 years. It’s not finished, but I can see the end. I still need to format the 10 pages of class descriptions and compress the index to one-page (it’s about five pages now).

Today I told the president of the ODPC that I’d like to retire as soon as she can find someone. 20 years is long enough.

I found this year to be especially difficult because my hand didn’t like the excessive stress of typing for hours. Another problem: I found it hard to concentrate for longer than about an hour without a break. (I remember when I typed it all over a two day period, non-stop!! But now I find that kind of concentration almost impossible.)

I did tell the president of the ODPC that we wouldn’t mind continuing to host the workshop canopy and the Wednesday night reception. We’d watch over the copy machine, keep the goodie table clean with full water/ice containers be there to direct folks, to find workshop leaders when there’s a need. That would be enough.

Admittedly I’m tired.

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We spent yesterday re-doing our bedroom. We have had too much stuff in that room (especially big furniture pieces) and it was time for a change.

The biggest problem in the room is/was the bed or at least the structure supporting it. About 10 years ago, we bought a huge “system” with a “bridge” as sort of a headboard with storage space and mirrors across the width of it. It stuck out about 12″ from the wall (maybe more). There are oak “towers” on each side which consists of drawers and cabinets. The whole thing, with our king-size mattress makes a huge unit. It fills the room. Not only is this the headboard tower structure large but the bed sits on a solid mattress foundation which is like an inner-spring mattress and goes to the floor. You can’t even put a pair of shoes under the bed.

It was time for a change.

We broke the bed down, moved the towers (which are like tall bookcases with cabinets on top and a three drawers on the bottom) to the hot tub room. Then we moved two small nightstands that had been retired and stored several years ago back beside the bed.

We moved out the mattress foundation and purchased a mattress frame which is elevated so stuff can go under it. We gained a lot of space. We still need a flat headboard.

To take my shorts and capris back and forth to Florida, I use two low (about 7″ deep) plastic bins that are long and wide enough to lay my capris flat. (I can fit about 25-30 pair in one bin.) When in Florida, they go under our music room futon bed. Here in Michigan the bins were in the way. Now they can go under the bed. I can also store a zippered plastic bag of shoes which is ready to go back to our southern home. John’s doing the same thing under his side. I’ve ordered a tailored bed skirt to conceal things we store there.

Now the bedroom feels more spacious and by the marks in the carpet, it’s easy to see that we’ve gained almost two additional feet of “open space” at the foot of the bed. The hot tub room is becoming an annex to our bedroom with 2 big pieces of exercise equipment, John’s dulcimer, and those two “towers” which abut each other nicely and serve as tall chests with drawers and cabinets. Eventually we’ll probably take out the hot tub (which is almost flush with the floor and hangs down into the basement).

Next week we have an appointment with a window installer to see about having some remodeling done in the great room. We’re hoping to replace the big window with an even bigger view-enhancing one.

I do love our house here. It’s much more impressive than our Florida condo. The view is lovely and it’s nearly twice as big.

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Country Dancing

John and I love to dance. Line dances are ok, but country couples dancing is even more fun. We do it a lot in Florida, especially with our friends (and teachers) Donna and Bill Markland.

We miss our Florida environment. We usually can dance at least a couple times a week when we’re in Florida. Our Michigan community doesn’t offer the same opportunities, but the situation in our area has improved.

About 20 miles down the road (M-52), there’s a bar called Back Forty and every Tuesday, from 6:00-9:00 they have a good country band and an older (like us) crowd. Yeah!!!

Also our Saginaw Moose Club has weekly dances. They are scheduled to start at 7:00 but the dancing doesn’t really get going for about an hour. We’ll probably pick and choose between the bands that play there. The band from “Back Forty” (“Dixie Highway Band”) will be playing at the Moose twice this month. We’ll try to go to those two evenings. (This Friday is one of their appearances.)

John’s endurance is very limited. We can only make it around the floor a few times per dance, but it’s still fun. Looking forward to dancing over the summer.

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Working hard

I’m trying hard to get the workshop program ready for the Original Dulcimer Players Club dulcimer festival. It’s a huge job but today I discovered that, with Windows 8.1 (which is what’s on my new computer purchased in December), I can split the screen and work on both sides. It makes copying text from the place where the leaders submitted their suggested classes to the printed copy much easier. I no longer have to print and retype everything.

I’m tired of working on this project, but with this new, streamlined method, I’ll bet I can have all of the program done by next weekend.

Hope so!!

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Florida stay wasn’t great

Usually I brag about how wonderful our time in Florida is (or was) but this year wasn’t as grand as previous years. I spent so much time in October and November trying to get my broken hand to work right. I went to hand therapy two times a week and seemed my non-functioning hand really restricted me. (Dancing was uncomfortable, and I felt awkward.) Christmas Eve we hosted our regular party, but my preparation seemed incomplete. I didn’t clean the place as thoroughly as I wanted and felt sort of uncomfortable about it. I missed a big party because I was ill on New Year’s Eve and for a few days afterward. John caught my bug a few days afterward. When I felt better, I started more therapy. Time seemed to fly by but we missed out on a lot. In late March we both caught bad colds that hung on too long and left us feeling weak and worn out.

Finally I felt better, but the whole cold thing left John’s lungs much worse. It frightens me.

We enjoyed a whirlwind of farewell activities, parties and dances. They were great fun. We did miss a birthday party when John didn’t feel up to going. But all in all the month of April lived up to our expectations but we were near the end of our stay and it was time to leave.

On May 2nd, we went to the Michigan Club Kentucky Derby party and May 3rd, left for Michigan.

Our trip back was uneventful. Traffic wasn’t too bad and we had no problems. We got home yesterday (May 5th).

The house was dirty and messy. Usually I make sure things look good before we leave, but I hadn’t been able to do much because of my wrist.

Now I’m trying to get the dulcimer club’s workshops organized. It’s a huge job and I was still receiving class submissions from leaders yesterday, although the cut-off was a month ago. I really have to settle down and focus just on it. If I lock myself away for the next week, I should be able to have the schedule created. It’ll take another week to do the “program.”

It’s tough when I see all the work around here that needs to be done and John is pushing himself too hard while it looks like I’m loafing. It’s hard for him to think of computer time and “real work.”

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A couple off days

Thought we were both getting better but Saturday John had a relapse. He was totally under-the-weather Saturday. Sunday he improved and today he’s much better!! So glad! We have only until Sunday, May 3rd, before we leave for Michigan. There’ll be a lot of packing and final prep-ing. Actually, we could throw the stuff in the truck and be ready to go in a couple hours. Glad we don’t have to do it all at once and since we’re going to have a couple rainy days, it won’t be hard to stay inside and finish everything.

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Feeling good – But John’s still not up to par

We’ve had a busy week. A fish dinner at the Moose Friday, a dinner party Saturday, a birthday party and dance Sunday. We were looking forward to another fun night tonight. But unfortunately we missed the birthday party for two of our favorite friends (Shelly and Caroline). This afternoon I came home from a dental appointment and John was in bed. He hadn’t been feeling good, but it got worse as the day went by (stomach upset). He was still willing to go, but for once he listened to me and we stayed home. We had potato soup instead of great “Sunset Grille” food, but it’s best that we stayed home. (Sunset Grill at Little Harbor is our favorite place to go because of the view of sunsets on Tampa Bay but was raining so we’d have been inside anyway.) We hope to see Shelly and Caroline Wednesday night at the Lattitude dance and maybe we can go to Sunset Grill Friday or Saturday of this week. Should be prettier weather.

(At least one of us feels back to normal. The hacky cough still bothers me, but I feel fine!)

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It’s been too long

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting to my blog. I love writing and I’ve missed this outlet, but we’ve been “under the weather.”

The last time I wrote was March 18th. Today it’s April 18th. I need to catch up. I have no real excuse. A bad cold bug hit me about the first of April. It seemed to hang around mainly in the form of fatigue and lethargy. John got it too about a week after mine started so we both coughed and blew.

By Easter, April 5th, I wasn’t 100% but joined our friends Linda and Wayne Conklin for a nice dinner. John’s spring chorus was very nice on April 8th followed by a fun “after-glow party.” April 9th we attended a dinner at Cypress Creek organized by our Maine friends. More than thirty folks attended. We went to the Michigan Club’s appreciation dinner on the 10th. It was a lovely meal with lots of wine! The 12th our friends, Linda Ringenback and Marilyn Enge, hosted a farewell potluck in the North Club gazebo for about 60 good friends. Fun time! Wednesday, the 15th, we attended a Nantucket V Association luncheon.

Although we were going to these events, we were dragging. Our energy level was so low that we only participated in the events we felt we couldn’t miss and cut them all short so we could conserve our strength. We tried to stay in whenever possible and just veg.

Yesterday I finally felt good enough to go to the pool while John played volleyball and last night the two of us went to Ruskin for a fish dinner.

Tonight the Baby Boomers had a members only evening which included dinner and dancing. We were with friends the Brooks, Enges, Coopers, Ringenbacks, and us. Really fun. What a great group and I can honestly say I felt good!

So now that I’ve caught up on what’s been happening, tomorrow I can write some thoughts and fun stuff. I would like to get to the pool tomorrow morning. It’ll be hot (nearly 90) so the pool sounds delightful. I’ve only been at the pool twice this month! With only two weeks to go, I want to take advantage of our remaining days.

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John’s still not up to par but better…

We’ve been taking things easy as John regains his strength from his cold. It’s taken a while. I can see a gradual improvement, but he still gets really winded after any vigorous/or semi vigorous activity. I’m doing fine. Feeling better than I have for months.

Last night we attended the Michigan Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Party and had a really good time. Lots of good food, beer, and great friends. It was one of the best parties we’ve attended this year and/or last.

The weather has been perfect (low 80’s). I’ve been spending lots of my afternoons enjoying the outdoors on our back patio. At this time of the year, all the grandkids are here visiting and spending time at the pool. Therefore, the pool is unbelieveably over-crowded. We bought a couple of luxury lounges last week so I’ve been staying home where I don’t have to fight for a lounge and shade. I can enjoy a good book, linger in the shade, and have a nice bathroom or drink of water when wanted.

We have a couple community festivals coming up Friday and Saturday and a carribean party Sunday. We’ll have a good time.

Life is good!!

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My first post in a couple weeks!

John had that bad cold and it hung on and sapped his strength. We hosted the Michigan Club pizza party on February 23rd which left both of us exhausted and the next day I had the cold bug. Mine wasn’t as bad as John’s so I bounced back within about five days. John is still not 100% and here it is a month since he first got sick. Therefore we’ve been doing very little. We’ve been trying to feel better. I feel great. Hopefully John’s strength will return.

Last Friday we graduated from our physical therapy sessions. John has absorbed all the help they can give him and I think my balance is better. Any further sessions were unnecessary. In fact we got so we felt that the staff didn’t know how to handle folks who are as healthy as we are.

Last week we celebrated our birthdays. John’s was last Sunday (a week ago today). Mine was Wednesday. On Sunday we went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s. Wednesday after I’d enjoyed several hours at the pool, we went to our dance class and then to Ruskin’s Elks Club for spaghetti and dancing. We were home by about 8:00. Thursday we went to Busch Gardens. The featured entertainers were Exile and Juice Newton. Good show. On our way home, we stopped in Brandon at Sweet Tomatoes to enjoy their wonderful salad buffet.

Our group, Kings Strings, has been practicing for a performance next Wednesday the 11th for the Shriner’s St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. We have a practice Tuesday, and I’m sure it’ll go fine.

Yesterday, we got a call from a Michigan friend, Gwyn. She’s stopping in tomorrow afternoon and will overnight here tomorrow. She’s welcome to stay longer, if she wishes, but we will have to practice from 1:00-3:00 Tuesday and we’ll be gone for our performance from about 10:00-2:30 Wednesday. We’ll see how it goes.

Today I cleaned the guest/music room in preparation for her. It’s ready. Tomorrow morning I have an eye doctor appointment. I should be home in time to wash my hair with more than enough time left-over to finish the living room, bathroom, and kitchen while John’s at his chorus practice. She should get here about 4:00 (about when John gets home). Gwyn is a very talented and ambitious lady. It’ll be nice have a chance to visit.

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John’s been sick with a cold, but this week he’s out and about!!

For the past couple of weeks, John’s had a bad cold so we haven’t done much. (I was afraid I was also germy so I avoided folks too.)

Valentines Day he was improved enough to go to a COA (Condo Owners Association) wine and cheese party, and last night to a Baby Boomer Club dance. John had skipped volley ball, physical therapy, chorus, and had just vegged (which is what you should do when you’re sick.) He went to volley ball and chorus today so he’s pretty much back to his normal self.

Good thing he recovered when he did because not only did we have tickets for the two parties this past weekend but Wednesday during the day, he’ll be scurrying to Front Porch Pickers and Sportsman’s Club, and in the evening to a Pickleball dinner party. Then on Thursday we go to Tampa Bay Downs (horse race track) with the Sportsman’s Club which includes a lovely luncheon. Friday we have tickets to the evening “Kings Point lip sync show.” It all sounds like fun fun fun.

We also have to squeeze in our two times a week physical therapy sessions and I’m getting my hair cut Wednesday.

Life’s great!!!

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We are at the half-way point

101 days since we arrived on October 12th and 101 days until we leave on May 3rd. Yup, we’re half-way through our 2014-15 visit to our Florida home.

I love it here. I don’t have to be doing stuff all the time but there’s always something to do. Today John played volley ball in the morning and headed to the Front Porch Pickers in the afternoon. I stayed home and enjoyed the sun from our back patio and then entertained three girl friends who dropped in unexpectedly.

It’s actually a fairly quiet week because our dance classes and Rockin Rendezvous are both cancelled this week. So what are our plans: Busch Gardens tomorrow (Thursday), John’s PT Friday morning with Disco Fever night Friday at the clubhouse. Then Saturday, we’re going to a Laff-a-Lot brunch in the morning, and if the weather’s ok, we’ll join the Pickers for a Hobo Camp at the railroad museum in the evening. Yup, it’s definitely a lull in our usually busy schedule!

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Sand Hill Cranes vs. the Red Fox

Last night John and I witnessed something unusual. Two sand hill cranes flew in and landed between our condo and the pond. As I was preparing to take their photo, I noticed a red fox just a few feet from them.

At one point the fox was between the cranes trying to find a way to escape.

My photo isn’t very good, but you can see the sand hills chasing the fox away. He hightailed it to the other side of the pond.


Tonight it happened again. I saw the swift red fox running across the golf course fairway behind our condo. And right behind the fox there were the two sand hill cranes in hot pursuit. Didn’t have time to get the camera out but I think from now on, I’ll be ready at sunset.

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There are advantages of having snowbirds

While having my my hair done the other day, I mentioned to my beautician that I was sure their business really notice the influx of snowbirds at this time of the year. She said, “Yes, it is lots busier but we don’t complain. If it wasn’t for the revenue the snowbirds bring in, half the businesses in Sun City Center would fold.”

I recall that my mother, a full-timer here in Sun City Center for many years, didn’t appreciate the crowds that flocked from the north to her bit of paradise during the winter months. She complained about the lines and the traffic. She wished all those northerners would stay away. Restaurants were busier, parking was harder. She resented their winter intrusion.

I look at things differently.

I don’t apologize for being here part of the year. I’m sure we help the economy.

Yes, we’re snowbirds. We’re residents only seven months of the year. We’re not full-time residents. We come down here in October and head back north in May. But we pay just as much in property taxes. (In fact we pay more than many fulltimers because we don’t qualify for homesteading.) We pay just as much in HOA (home owners association) fees. We pay just as much in insurance and other services as we would if this was our only residence.

But, although we pay for a full year, we don’t use the facilities full-time. Even our water usage which is included in our HOA fees is lower. Since we are here about six months, if annualized, we pay twice as much for the privilege of living in this lovely community.

Businesses come to town to sell to us, parking lots are enlarged to accommodate the winter influx. And all of those who stay the whole year, benefit from the time we spend here. You have the luxury of more parking places, businesses and restaurants that you wouldn’t have if the population was always at summer-time levels.

I love it here in Sun City Center. Someday I hope I’ll be here full time. I am already a voting, Florida resident.

Full-timers don’t realize it, but they benefit from us.

I’m sure that if the snowbirds were all here 365 days a year, the cost of living would have to rise to accommodate the wear and tear on the facilities that we use only half as much as full-time residents do.

We help our community maintain the luxurious way of life at the reasonable prices which we all enjoy.

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The last couple of weeks

We entertained about 20 friends Christmas Eve. Preparation was exhausting but it was a low-key fun evening filled with wonderful personalities and definitely worth the effort.

Christmas Day we enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and lazed around. The 27th we were at the pool most of the day. The next day (the 28th) I started feeling really rotten. By December 29th I was totally miserable; running a temp with severe abdominal pains. The 30th, John took me to the doctor. I was hoping to get a flu-inhibitor like Tamiflu but my doctor’s swab-test said it wasn’t the flu but instead a bacterial infection. I was prescribed antibiotics.

New Years Eve (the 31st), we had tickets ($38 each) to a dinner-dance at the North Clubhouse and invitations to Richard and Shelly’s warm-up-for-the-evening house party. I tried to get ready, but realized that I just couldn’t go. I was much too weak and sick. John went to the clubhouse for dinner (which he didn’t enjoy). He was home by 11:00 to see the New Year in with me.

New Year’s Day we watched Michigan State win an exciting football game and lounged around. I was still not moving around much and felt lousy.

Today is the 2nd of January. I’m still not 100% but feeling much better. I haven’t been able to eat much so I’ve dropped a few pounds. Even with the weight loss, it’s not a way I would recommend to bring in the new year.

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Christmas Gift

With my new computer have come lots of challenges.

I always have the installation disks for the programs I use. They go back and forth from Michigan to Florida and even camping, so I thought I was prepared for a computer replacement. But one program, Streets and Trips (my GPS program which I use to pre-schedule our trips), would not install. I called Microsoft two times, without success. Although I had the disk, I didn’t have the correct Product Key so I was out of luck.

One of my concerns was that I have been the moderator/owner of the Yahoogroup, StreetsandTrips, since 2008. Without the program, how could I successful answer questions members might pose to the list? True, fewer folks now use S&T because many folks have turned to free-standing GPS units or smart phones instead of using a computer based program. In fact Microsoft no longer up-dates the program. I just wanted to stick with my 2010 version. I wanted to be able to access S&T files which included addresses for friends, relatives, and our favorite “stops” between Michigan and Florida.

I went to the list and explained my plight. The most helpful member of the list has always been Larry. He offered to give me the program! Wouldn’t even take shipping costs.

When the program came, it was still sealed. On the product box were a lot of signatures. After I’d appropriately thanked him, he wrote back and said, “BTW – those signatures on the box are from the team members at Microsoft that created the software. My name is above the MS logo. I loved working on the product and really enjoyed helping others out whenever I could. It was my pleasure to give it to you.”

Makes the program even more special!

What a nice guy!

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Difficult evening

Friday night (December 12th) we went to party at the home of good friends. The crowd was a little older than we are, but we’d attended their party last year and we were sure it would be a lovely evening and we had looked forward to it.

The first part of the evening lived up to our expectations with great hosts, friendly folks, lots of food and drink. John and I were in the living area with five others where the conversation was lively and filled with smiles and laughter. The oldest couple, Fran and Kline (92 and 96), told many lovely stories. They were delightful. We’d met them last year and she said she liked sitting by me because I told good jokes. They’d been married 57 years. (The husband had been a trumpet player and traveled with the Benny Goodman Band.)

Suddenly Fran slumped into unconsciousness. Her husband tried to revive her, but when it was determined that she was having serious problems and a faint pulse, John and another guest with CPR training started resuscitation. The emergency squad and other rescuers were summoned and heroic effort was tried. John, the other guest, and the paramedics worked on her for probably close to an hour. It didn’t look good as they took her away in the ambulance.

A short while later Kline called to say she hadn’t made it. We all felt that it was an honor to be part of her last wonderful evening. She’d been among friends, enjoying herself.

It was a sad evening.

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The past couple of weeks

Thanksgiving was great.

Last week we attended an Oldies But Goodies dance and a karaoke evening. Friday, December 5th, I joined nine “girl” friends on a shopping and dinner trip to Sarasota. There was an Elvis street party Saturday. The past few days, we’ve been resting up for another round of holiday parties this weekend. It’s fun to be busy but at this time of the year, it’s over-whelming.

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This afternoon we’ll head to Richard and Shelly’s to celebrate the holiday with good friends.

I certainly shouldn’t complain about my life, but this year has had some difficulties:

John’s health hasn’t been great. I have witnessed some deterioration to his lungs, but we should consider ourselves fortunate that he’s able to be as active as he is. It’s his determination and drive. Amazing! We found a new home for Charlie, our cockatiel, because after tests, it was found that John has a sensitive to cockatiel dander. Hopefully not having our bird will at least halt further loss of his abilty to breath.

So things have been difficult and “interrupted.”

Then, to cap it off, both my smart phone and my laptop decided to die of old-age.

New ones are ordered, but I know how much work it is to set up a new computer and smart phone. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Charlie has a new home … We’re sad :(

imageSorry to say that we no longer have Charlie, our cockatiel. He’s traveled everywhere we’ve gone and been part of our life for 20 years but yesterday, after running a blood test, John’s doctor confirmed that John cannot be around him. He is probably a big part of the reason John has lung problems. Reluctantly we put an advertisement on the Kings Point Sportsman’s Club Marketplace website and a lady immediately contacted us. She just left with Charlie. She appears to be a very caring individual who loves birds (especially cockatiels). Charlie will get lots of attention and hopefully enjoy many years with her. Seems really empty here without our talkative bird but she said we can visit him anytime.

Charlie’s new owner is almost too good to be true: former nurse, took in three mentally challenged children, a grandmother who teaches at her church, lives alone and currently has no pets but has had cockatiels and they are her favorite. She’s a farm girl from Michigan who now lives in Sun City Center (outside our gated community) year-round. Her daughter wanted her to have a pet to keep her company and suggested a dog, but she said she’s more a bird person.

John may not see an “improvement” but not being around Charlie may help stop the deterioration of his lungs. Not something you’ll be able to pinpoint. Sad that his two pulmonologists (in Florida and in Michigan) never asked if we had a bird. It was only because John tried to get in a clinical trial in Sarasota and the Sarasota doctor asked if by chance John was around a bird(s) that the link was discovered. Wish we’d known when he was diagnosed in 2009. He’d probably have less permanent damage.

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Progress Report on My Right Wrist

I’ve talked about my wrist a lot because it’s controlled my life since I fell on July 11th, 2014.

My surgery was on July 21st (after the ODPC Funfest had ended because the surgeon said it wouldn’t matter if I waited a few more days.) I was in the operating room for over 4 1/2 hours!

On August 5th, the bandages were removed. It wasn’t pretty, as you can see on the left.

I started hand therapy on that day and until October 8th, I worked with Trisha, at St. Mary’s Spine Center three times a week. We left for Florida on October 11th. I started working with Amber at Cora Rehab on October 15th.

Tomorrow (November 7th) I will end my wrist rehab. I’ll need to continue my exercises on my own. I’ve assembled a variety of tools: stretchy rubber bands, putty to work with, a 6″ ball to squeeze and manipulate, foam pieces to offer resistance, a 26″ exercise ball to lie on for push ups from the floor and two 2-lb. weights to help my wrist gain strength.

Don’t know if anyone is interested, but below are the x-rays taken October 1st, before I saw my surgeon. Dr. Taha, the last time. You can see the two plates and the 16 screws. (Actually we were charged for 24 screws, so I’m not sure how many there are.)

I’ll be so relieved not to have to attend hand therapy. My therapists have been very nice but at this point I want to concentrate less on my wrist and more on living my life to the fullest. I definitely can’t forget to keep working on my flexibility, but I will get a lot of exercise from what I do in my day-to-day life.

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Real Music Line-Up

The 2015 Busch Gardens Real Music Series line-up is now available. This is of special interest for those of us who have season passes.

Real Music 2015 Lineup:
Monday – Friday with performances at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

Cornell Gunter’s Coasters January 5-9
The Grass Roots January 12-16
Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone January 19-23
The Diamonds January 26-30
Fernando Varela February 2-6
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Terry Myers Salute to Benny Goodman February 9-13
Ricky Nelson Remembered Featuring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson February 16-20
Shirley Jones February 23-27
Exile & Juice Newton March 2-6

Real Music Concert Series is FREE with park admission or season passes, but tickets are required. Pick up your free tickets at the Stanleyville Theater for all performances or at the front gate for the 11:30 a.m. concert.

Personally, one of the acts I’m looking forward to is the last show with Juice Newton and Exile. I saw Juice many years ago when her big hit, “Break it to Me Gently,” was popular.

There’s another on the list that I was “unfamiliar” with: Fernando Varela. Looking into his background, I found that he was one of the vocalists who did an awesome job on America’s Got Talent with the trio, Forte. He also performs with his wife, Susan. Hopefully he’ll have her with him as he did in January:

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Just crossed the Ohio River on our way South

We’re about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. We’re going to stop soon at a rest area so that’ll eat up our extra time. After the rest area, we’ll head non-stop to some place near Knoxville, TN to get fuel. Sweetwater. TN, just south of Knoxville is where we’ll over-night tonight. Dinner at the exit before we get to the motel.

Sunday – October 12

We made it to the condo at about 6:30 p.m. Except for a water heater which will need to be replaced, everything was fine when we arrived.

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Leaving Saturday

This afternoon we decided to leave a day later than we had planned. (Instead of Friday we’ll take off Saturday a.m.) It didn’t take that much. I changed the dates of our cars that we insure or put in storage and I changed our motel reservation. We won’t get our mail here in Saginaw tomorrow and we’ll be paying for a day of cable and wi-fi that we can’t use, but that’s about it. My only concern are some orders I thought I’d timed fairly well but now will arrive well before us.

I have always used “count down scripts” and now they’re all out-of-step. Oh, well, once we’re in Florida, they’ll run out anyway.

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Might leave Saturday instead of Friday

We got word this afternoon that the Oldies But Goodies dance in Sun City Center on October 12th has been cancelled. With no reason to get there by Saturday night, we may postpone our departure to Saturday and arrive Sunday evening. John would appreciate the change. We can switch our Quality Inn room… no problem. Only thing is that, once we are ready, we’d both rather be on the road. So tomorrow we’ll pack like we’re leaving Friday and see how it goes. If we feel we’re pushing it, we’ll leave Saturday. (Friday night we can enjoy a last night of Moose Club all-you-can-eat walleye.) I’m guessing that it’s a 75% chance we’ll wait an extra day.

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Too much too early again

Packing is difficult. I know what needs to go in the truck, but I don’t want John to have to do it all during the last day. Unfortunately some of the stuff which needs to be packed will be used between now and our departure. What to do?

Clothes are especially difficult. I’ve had to look at the weather and decide what I’ll wear each day. The items that I’ll wear “outside the house” will probably be nicer and they’ll need to be taken with us to Florida. The stuff I’ll wear around the house will be casual and left behind.

But there are also items like the ink cartridges in my printer. (I take the partial ones and leave the printer behind because I have a similar printer in Florida.) There’s the atomic wall clock which we take because we only have one; the router which I use (I had a second one but it has quit working); cell phone charging cables; computers; cell phones.

I hope to pack a majority of the stuff by tomorrow and the left-overs will go in a “last minute to be packed in the truck” plastic bag.

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Prepping for our trip south

We’re in count-down mode. I’m packing and crossing items off my lengthy list.

Yesterday I saw Dr. Taha, my surgeon. He’d requested a CT and an x-ray and his feeling is that I’m doing ok. Therefore I got the go-ahead to head to Florida on October 10th.

It looks like I may have to settle for about 50-60% of the wrist and hand flexibility I had before the accident, but it could be worse. I’ll have a hand therapist in Florida and hope to continue improving. At this point, at least he isn’t talking about another surgery! I’m so glad we can head south! (BTW John doesn’t accept the 50-60% and thinks I/we will do better.)

I’d hoped for some time off before starting with the new hand therapist, but today, when I spoke to the scheduler at the Sun City rehab center, she talked me into coming in the Wednesday after we arrive. Oh, well…. no rest. I guess I’m already in the habit so might as well keep it up.

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Nice Visit

Thursday evening and Friday morning Audra, John’s daughter and her guy, Dave, visited us on their way to Mackinaw Island. We enjoyed a really nice visit with them!

John fixed a Thursday evening meal featuring shoyu chicken on rice (with a little extra sesame oil), corn on the cob, a tasty cucumber and tomato salad, hot bread, and freshly baked apple pie. Everything was excellent.

Morning breakfast was coffee, John’s famous waffles, scrambled eggs, ham, and juices.

They left about 9:30 a.m.

You couldn’t ask for better house guests. They are welcome anytime — hopefully soon.

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Isn’t this the cutest?

I just bought this swimsuit on eBay. Isn’t it cute?

I can’t wait for pool time at the south club in Kings Point, Sun City Center, FL.

September 24, 2014:
It finally arrived and it’s cuter than the photo. So glad I bought it!!

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Halloween Party

We have lots of plans for activities in our retirement community after we arrive on October 11th. I just sent my $20 check to a good friend in Kings Point to buy our tickets for the Baby Boomers Halloween Party. In October, we’ll have exercise classes, club meetings, chorus practice, doctors’ appointments, and even the community garage sale plus these parties:

October 12th – Oldies but Goodies dance.
October 19th – Surprise birthday party at the North Club.
October 23rd – Michigan Club Welcome Back party.

Yes, there’ll also be Karaoke on Tuesdays and Rock’n Rendezvous on Thursdays.

And that’s just the first three weeks we’re in Florida!!!

No wonder I’m anxious to get back to Sun City Center (aka Paradise).

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This week I’ve seen major improvements with my wrist. Here are some of the things I can now do that would have been difficult or impossible a couple of weeks ago:

I can brush my teeth with vigor, wash my hair in the shower, cut my own food with a knife and get it to my mouth (not in my left ear). I have driven a couple times, I’ve cut and polished my toenails. I’ve opened some tight bottle caps. I’ve poured a glass of wine from a large, full wine bottle. I’ve ironed a pair of slacks.

I still hope to make more progress but I’m feeling much better about life in general. I probably won’t ever be 100% but I hope to make it back to a level where I can do most of the stuff I enjoyed before the accident. I’m especially anxious to be able to go dancing. When we get to Florida, I want to be able to resume our full schedule of fun activities and enjoy life to the fullest.

I’m hopeful.

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Boring summer

I was determined to shed a few pounds this summer, have fun, stay tanned, and go kayaking. We were supposed to spend a week at our place in the Upper Peninsula and maybe enjoy a few side trips.

Nothing worked out as planned.

Prior to July, I was busy working on the workshops for the Original Dulcimer Players Funfest. It took all of my time but I anticipated that I’d have the rest of the summer for relaxation. Then on July 11, I broke my wrist and that ended all of our plans. I’ve done nothing but try to recover. I have very little “get up and go.” My energy is used up exercising my now deformed hand/arm/wrist and going to physical therapy.

But when it comes right down to it, I really don’t have anything to gripe about. I need to get my wrist back in shape. The only way it’ll happen is with work. John is the one who should be complaining. He’s stuck helping me and he hasn’t been able to have any fun either.

Now I’m anxious to get to Florida. It seems like that will be an opportunity to start enjoying life again.

Hopefully our fun lifestyle will resume. We can have go dancing, head to the pool, and we can get together with friends.

Yes, I may have to continue with physical therapy, but hopefully there’ll be time for lots of relaxation and we’ll live “the good life.”

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Two Mothers

Someone posted this poem on Facebook and it really hit home for me.

My “first” mother was never very demonstrative with her affection. I don’t ever remember an “I love you” from her, but Mother Two said “I love you whenever I saw her. Folks who felt sorry for me because I was caring for a mother with alzheimers didn’t understand that during that time, she gave me more of herself and we were actually closer. (Maybe because she truly needed me.)

My mother “two” liked riding on our golf cart to get a milk shake than parking in the shade enjoying what we called a “picnic.” She was in awe of flowers and colorful birds. We shared some sweet times!

Surprisingly I miss Mother two more than one. Those years were a “gift”.

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Saw Dr. Taha (my surgeon) again

Yesterday was time for my monthly appointment with my surgeon.

I’m more impressed by him all the time! He’s very approachable. I even like the fact that he comes into the exam room (where I’m sitting on one of the “extra” chairs) and sits on the exam table while talking to me. It shows he’s relaxed and in no hurry. He doesn’t make you feel intimidated! He’s easy to understand and very direct.

He looked over my hand/wrist and was actually pleased. I think my physical therapist, Trisha, had prepared him for my limitations and he seemed to have thought I’d be even worse than I am.

Although I can’t quote his words exactly he said things like, “If this was as far as you were going to progress, I would be disappointed. I’ll check with Trisha and see how she feels but as long as you’re progressing like you are, I’m not concerned.”

He even referred to the time when we’ll get back from Florida (in eight months) and said, “Even when you get back, it may not be the end of your improvement.”

After we went to Dr. Taha’s I had my hour with Trisha. She worked me! I was exhausted. I think she felt that since Dr. Taha had put his faith in her, she had to make sure my progress would warrant it.

Dr. Taha did say that I may never get back all of the use and flexibility that I once had. I can live with that. I just want to be able to do things independently. John’s been cutting my food and I haven’t driven yet. I have a hard time lifting anything even moderately heavy. I can’t open a pickle jar. I can’t carry items down the stairs. But little by little I can see improvements.

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Occupying my Life

This whole dern broken wrist thing is totally controlling my life. Not only do I spend three days a week in physical therapy but I constantly exercise and now have a new hot wax bath to use several times a day so my wrist will be flexible and able to move better.

It takes 15-20 minutes just to get ready for bed and it’s difficult to sleep with my new, heavy exoskeleton-type device on my arm. It often really hurts as my arm is forced into a position that it doesn’t like. (Last night I was awake at least two hours when I should have been sleeping.)

No activity is possible without thinking about my wrist.

It took a few seconds to break it and now I’m spending months recovering.

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Not Complaining

Bedtime has gotten complicated, because of my wrist. Here is the “arm/hand stuff” I “wear to bed”:

Silicone strips which are placed on my three scars.
An elasticized glove that goes on my injured hand (to reduce swelling).
A fingerless sleeve for over the glove (again to keep the swelling to a minimum).

AND here’s the big one.. Yesterday when I went to my physical therapy session, I was fitted with a wrist orthopedic device which, while I sleep, forces my wrist to bend further than I can do it on my own. It weighs about two pounds and reminds me of the below robotic-exoskeleton.

I’m glad we sleep in a king-sized bed because I could do serious damage if I whacked John with my “robotic” arm.

I found this sci-fi example of a robotic-exoskeleton. I’m sure mine was made by the same company as the one in the sci-fi photo.


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Slow improvement

I can see some minor improvement to my wrist. Nothing major and I know I must keep working.

I found a video on “You Tube” which showed a young man with a similar wrist break. He documented his struggle to recovery.

‘You-tube’ broken wrist video.

It took him 2 1/2 years! My therapist says she thinks I’ll do much better. We are aiming for my complete recovery.

Today Trisha (my therapist) said she thinks I’ll do better without my splint. What a relief to be rid of it! I may be able to use a high tech one which will force my wrist to be able to tip backward as I sleep since that’s a flexibility I totally lack.

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Worse/Slower than Anticipated

I’ve been struggling every day to make progress with my physical therapy. So far I’ve had five PT sessions… each progressively more intense.

I’ve usually been a star pupil in any class I’ve attended and thought my progress this time would be equally simple but my age is working against me.

I struggle. My wrist seems to be locked in a rigid position. Although I try everything to make it more flexible, it’s not working. My fingers are loosening up but my wrist is a disappointment to Trisha (my therapist) and to me.

I see improvement with my fingers. Maybe it’s unreasonable to think that I’ll regain flexibility in a week.

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Spent yesterday morning in the hospital and in afternoon I was in physical therapy from 2-4. It’s going to be a long haul. The doctor said, “You had a BAD break! two plates, 16 screws, and 20 stitches!!! I’ll be in PT three times a week (an hour daily) until we leave for Florida in October. I now have a “removable splint” so I can shower! Absolutely no lifting with my right hand but I can type and do “light” things. The internal plates are huge. I like my PT therapist but I know I have a huge uphill climb. Since I have practically no range of motion I have a long way to go. My fingers and wrist flexibility is non-existent. The worst part of the day was having the stitches removed. One was buried and I admit I cried and begged her to stop. Today I’ll be back in PT at 10 am.

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It takes two … (hands)

I have new understanding for those who have only one hand. Some things are especially difficult with only my left hand. (I’m right handed.)
Here are some of the efforts I’ve found most challenging:

zipping zippers and buttoning buttons on tight-fitting pants
tooth brushing
using scissors
putting on deodorant under left arm
cutting anything on my plate
hanging up a big neck top on a hanger
opening any bottles but especially those with child-proof caps
curling my hair with a curling iron
putting on eye make-up
using a pepper grinder
going down (or up stairs) with a right hand rail (especially since I’m shaky with poor balance due to no inner ear)
doing even a partial mani/pedi (toenails and/or fingernails)
sweeping with a broom
opening a yogurt container
getting the yogurt out of a 6 oz. container

Some things are getting easier in part because I’m cheating and using my right more than I should.

The only solution I’ve found is having a sweet, helpful husband. Thank you, John!!

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Surgery and Post Surgery

It’s been HELL! The first few days were hard to bear. I suffered.

After the first week the pain has been much less. I’m very limited in what I have been able to do but August 5th I see the surgeon again. Hopefully he will let me start doing more. I miss being able to shower. I have a tough time eating and brushing my teeth. Sleep is tough.

My hair has looked awful (John helped me wash it twice) but I need help styling it.

I’ll be sooo glad when I’m back to normal. I wouldn’t even complain about housework, if I could do it!!

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What a Lousy Week

We look forward from year to year to the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest. It’s the highlight of our summer. Friends, food, a wonderful music make it a perfect event and since I’ve been in charge of workshops for 19 years, it’s very rewarding.

But this week, which started Wednesday, July 9th, soon went downhill. We discovered a slew of blown fuses in our trailer. When the electrical problems were resolved it was too late for a shower. A sponge-bath had to do.

I left my 2011 Droid Charge Android smartphone charging over night Wednesday, and when I woke up Thursday the screen was totally white and blank. Nothing would start it up. I’ve been aware it was dying and even though it gradually came back to a screen which was readable, I realized it had to be replaced so I headed to eBay.

I weighed my options: should I buy another Droid Charge or go with a more up-to-date model?

The price difference was huge so I bought a brand new (never used at all) Droid for $83.88 with shipping (would have been close to $500 for a new model). I ordered it on July 10th and by the 12th I had it.

But my cellphone problems weren’t the worst problem I had to deal with. Friday morning (July 11th) I tripped while taking a step backward in front of our trailer door. It happened fast but apparently I put my right hand down to break my fall and avoid landing on the metal steps. Instead I badly broke my right wrist. I went first to a small clinic. They directed me to the E.R. at the Reed City Hospital. Yup, it was broken — both wrist bones in my right wrist and there’s a fragment broken off and floating around. The PA said it will need surgery. (I did it good!)

By the time we got back to the campsite the physician’s office was closed. We had to wait until Monday to call the surgeon but conversations with two physician friends assured me that the surgery could be done up to 10 days from the accident with no adverse results.

I reached Dr. Taha’s scheduler Monday the 14th. He’s located in Saginaw (Kochville Township). First available appointment was 2:00 Wednesday the 16th. When I met him, I was pleased with his attitude. A young doctor, easy to understand and follow.

He was sure I’d like get it over so suggested that I have it Thursday, the 17th. I’d stay over-night and be able to head back to the fairgrounds Friday afternoon. I’d be out-of-it for several days. I explained that this is an important week for us and had hoped for a Monday surgery. He agreed and assured me it wouldn’t matter with the out-come so it’ll be Monday the 21st.

We returned to the festival Wednesday at 6:00 in time for the reception I host each year. There were jams under the canopy each night. We weren’t as lively as usual but had a decent time and the music was great.

Last night we went to the stage show. It was totally impressive.

A crew of workers showed up this morning and helped us pack up the rest area. We got home a little after 2:00. We’re exhausted.

The surgery is scheduled for 8:00 am but we must be at St. Mary’s by 5:30. We’ll leave home at 5:00 so must be up by 4:30!!

I’ll be glad to be able to use my right hand again.

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Warnings for Senior Citizens

Here are some warnings for my senior friends.. These are things we’ve recently experienced first-hand.

John just got a call on his cellphone. (His number is in a Florida area code which is known to have a high percent of senior citizens). The voice was very foreign sounding. He said our “Windows” program needed work and he’d like to fix it by connecting his server to our computer so he could repair our Windows (the computer program, not the windows in our home). This was obviously a scam to get into our computer and hijack what’s on the computer. And maybe he would have even asked for credit card numbers as an extra bonus. (The call never got that far along.)

If you have a computer problem and you deal with your computer’s manufacturer, they will sometimes have a technician access what’s on your computer to fix a problem. And I understand the “Geek Squad” from Best Buy sometimes uses this method to get things working. But don’t ever believe someone who calls you and tells you there is something wrong with your computer if you haven’t instigated the request. There’s no way they’d know if you have a computer problem. You’ll have lots more problems if you let them into your computer.

There are other ways seniors are targeted. It’s obvious the perpetrators think we’re easy to fool.

Example: Every couple of weeks we have a company call and say they will provide a free emergency monitoring service at no cost to us. (What they will do is turn it into Medicare.) But why? If you need the service… fine. But you should talk with your physician, not some sales person who approaches you in a random phone call. In fact, we’ve had them call and say the equipment has already been ordered and they’re ready to deliver it. All they need is to have us sign the form and they’ll deliver the order.

Be aware that someone will pay!!! That sort of scam contributes to the sky high costs of healthcare.

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Changing the classified ad site

I provide a free classified ad service to the music community at http://dulcimers.biz/classifieds for those who want to sell their used instruments. It was kinda pricey to get it set up but I felt good doing it for musicians. I make it very clear that ads for non-musical items will not be allowed. (I approve each ad before it goes “public.”)

It’s been an easy procedure for sellers. They would register so they had a password (which would be sent to their email). With that password, they could get into the submission area where they could submit their ad. It was a quick procedure and I didn’t get involved until their ad was ready to be approved. Unlike most other classified ad services, I don’t charge any fee for this service.

This morning I was surprised to find 70-100 ads waiting for approval. They were all for male baldness remedies, weight loss, male enhancement, skin beautification products, etc. Obviously I won’t “approve” those ads so no one but me could see them. (Only I was bothered.) I would delete a dozen but more would appear. Going in and getting rid of those submissions takes time. I felt used!! And the same advertiser could keep going back and doing it again. I don’t think they even bothered to see if their ad was visible.

I’ve been trying to find a way to automatically stop these junk ads so I won’t have to keep returning to the site. I finally decided that I’ll now require that folks who haven’t advertised before must submit an email to me telling we what they’ll be selling. No longer will they be able to self-register. I’ll need to register them prior to them being able to go to the “create an ad area.” (Yes, it’s an extra job for me but generally only two or three people a week submit ads which is better than 70 returns to the website.) I’ll still need to approve their ads once they submit them but I don’t mind if they are legitimately interested in selling musical instruments.

And if someone who is registered posts a non-music item, I’ll delete their whole registration. That way, they’ll have to have me re-register them before they’ll be able to post an another ad.

So if you have previously used the classified ad area to sell instruments. You can use your old password and it won’t be any different for you. If you’re new to the site, just send me the email address you want to use (and a user name). I’ll register you, and you can submit your ad.

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Great friends!

This past weekend we got together with a group of Florida friends (who have condos in our Florida paradise community, Kings Point). This group also lives at least part time in Michigan.

On Friday, we gathered at the homes of Caroline & Stephen Cooper and Richard & Shelly Brooks in White Lake, Michigan. The Coopers and Brooks have lovely homes on Cedar Island Lake. We gather annually around the Fourth of July. This was our fourth year!

We arrived on Friday about 1:00. (Fireworks were scheduled earlier than usual.) First stop was Cooper’s for really great lunch. We had lots of liquid refreshments, went swimming/floating/soaking, lounging, sun bathing, and playing games. It was all fun. Oh, and we talked and talked and talked!!

The crowd consisted of Sharon & Dave, Sherry, Diana, Deb, Cindy & Mike, Valerie, Caroline & Stephen, Richard & Shelly, Linda (who came from Florida for the weekend) and John & me. Fifteen friends who were a perfect fit. Considerate, reliable, caring, fun folks!

That first evening (Friday), we convened at the Brooks’ house for dinner, a pontoon ride, and then the remarkable fireworks. After the fireworks finished, we were too. We crashed and slept like logs.

Saturday, our breakfast at the Coopers was excellent. More all-day relaxing. Not as much sun, but lovely temperatures.

The guys did some kayaking. We relaxed and played games. By late afternoon we’d ordered restaurant prepared broasted chicken added to left overs from Friday. An evening boat ride was fun for all of us who remained. We finished off the night with a campfire and ‘smores.

Sunday morning we had breakfast prepared by Shelly and Cindy. We headed home soon after eating and after lots of hugs and affectionate good-byes. We are now back at our Michigan home. We’re pooped but wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Thanks, Caroline & Stephen and Shelly & Richard. Love you all!! And Linda, thanks for making the trip. It was even more fun with you with us.

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Officer approaches driver’s side of car:

Officer: Ma’am what’s in the bottle?

Driver: Just some water.

Officer: Ma’am that’s wine…

Driver: Jesus did it again!!!

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eBay purchase

I love to wear floaty or dramatic items. I just bought a cute top on eBay that’ll hide my figure flaws. It was a tad more expensive that I usually spend but I’m sure I’ll enjoy wearing it. We will be headed to White Lake this weekend to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday with friends. Maybe I’ll bring this as a “fireworks watching” top with white capris or maybe I’ll save it. I definitely will have it for Evart, our big dulcimer festival in a couple of weeks. And I’m always looking for stuff to wear to Florida parties. This top will be a great addition.

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I highly recommend

A friend mentioned that she’d found an excellent spray for stainless appliances. Since we have a brand new LG stainless refrigerator, a heavily spotted stainless dishwasher, a stainless range, and matching microwave, we really need something that works. So I took note of her suggestion.

John found it at Sam’s Club for about $6 for TWO 15-ounce cans. We tried it and it’s even better than she’d said. I heartily recommend it!

It’s called SprayWay Stainless Cleaner/Polish.

One of the cans is already in our “take-to-Florida” staging area since we have a very visible stainless Samsung Refrigerator down there and want to get a range and dishwasher in stainless. I love how they look, but hate fingerprints and smudges.

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My walk wasn’t fun!

This morning, while it was sunny, I thought I’d take a nice walk around our little lake. It’s about 1 1/2 miles around it in a lovely residential area.

The neighborhood consists of about 80 homes on both sides of a street that circles Lake Cecil. We’re on the lake side with about 150 feet of lake frontage.

I started out at a brisk pace. It was pleasant and quiet except for the occasional lawn mower or weed wacker. But a little past the halfway point I developed a back spasm. It was excruciating. I kept thinking “It’s not much further. Just keep going.”

So I did. Step by step I made progress. Yes, I could have called John and I seriously considered it. But, with numerous stops to stretch and flex I finally made it. I barely dragged myself up our driveway and crouched almost in tears until I could navigate the step into the house. It reallllllly hurt!

After I’d had a chance to sit comfortably, I was fine. The spasm ended and I’m now completely comfortable but it’s not something I want to repeat soon.

You can see a picture I took from directly across the lake from our house. It’s hard to see our place because of the trees, but we’re right in the middle with a spruce marking the edges of our property. The roof is a reddish brown which really blends with the surroundings.

Can’t complain about our view either in Michigan or in Florida. Guess we’re spoiled.

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When we head back to Florida

Yesterday I booked the motel in Sweetwater, TN, for our return trip to Florida. I know it’s early but I always try to book asap because prices sometimes raise. If they drop, I can always change my reservation, if they go up, we get the price we secured when we booked it.

When I mentioned ro John that I’d locked in a room, I could tell he wasn’t pleased. He loves it here and I sometimes feel he goes along with our Florida time just to keep me happy.

This morning I mentioned to him that I realized he didn’t sound eager and I don’t like to feel that I’m pushing him to do something he doesn’t enjoy.

He fessed up. He said he doesn’t mind our time in Florida, it’s the preparation and packing that he detests. Maybe there’s a way I can make it easier for him. If we can eliminate some of the stuff we drag back and forth, it’ll help. And if I pull together stuff beforehand, it won’t seem like there’s so much to do before leaving. I already have a box where I’m putting stuff we will take with us. The pile will gradually grow but if it’s already in a bin or a box, it will simplify the October work.

I must admit that this summer I’m personally having a better time in Michigan than I have in the past years. We’ve discovered music on Tuesday nights at the Evergreen (a night spot not far from here.) It’s always pleasantly crowded with folks our age. We’ve gotten to know a nice couple and look forward to setting with them and dancing to the music of the Dixie Highway Band. (Our friends always save a spot for us.) Because of a commitment for a family gathering on the 8th of July, we’ll miss that week, and then we’ll be gone the following Tuesday because we’ll be at the Evart dulcimer festival. Therefore we’ll miss TWO Tuesday’s at the Evergreen. At least we can tell Ron and Wilma (our new friends) that they shouldn’t expect us those weeks. (Hope they won’t give our seats away.)

We might also miss a week toward the end of August when we visit our place in the U.P. (Come to think of it, we can leave on Wednesday and come back on Monday so we don’t miss an opportunity to go dancing.)

When we return to Florida, we’ll plan to be back for an Oldies but Goodies dance on Sunday, October 12th. And we’ll make it in time for the Michigan Club Welcome Back Party.

For the 2014-15 season, we have lots of fun Michigan Club events to anticipate:

OCTOBER 23 Welcome Back Party
NOVEMBER 18 Organizational Meeting
DECEMBER 18 Christmas Party
JANUARY 17 SnoBall Dinner Dance
FEBRUARY 23 Pizza Party
MARCH 17 St. Patrick’s Dinner Dance
APRIL 9 Appreciation Dinner
MAY 2 Kentucky Derby Party

Life is good and we really know how to live it!

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Stuff that’s here that I wish was there

We bought a new stainless French door LG refrigerator last month. We were replacing a fairly new GE Profile ‘fridge which we hated because it was poorly built, was noisy when it ran, and it didn’t have front door ice and water.

The stainless French door one we have in Florida is a Samsung and it’s almost as nice as our new LG, so I’m happy both places. The Florida Samsung may be a little larger, but we got one for here what would fit in the space we have.

There are other appliances I wish we could take back and forth with us.

The GE stainless Profile dishwasher we have here is really quiet and cleans dishes perfectly. The one in Florida needs to be replaced. It’s noisy and doesn’t match our refrigerator nor microwave. I wish I could clone the one here. It even has a dispenser for detergent so it uses just the right amount. And the dish racks are very user-friendly.

Our GE gas range here has two ovens. Really super! We don’t have access to gas in Florida so I can’t fairly compare the two, but I do wish we had a newer stainless fronted range in Florida instead if the black glass top one we have there. (Glass top would be fine, but a self-cleaning oven would be a great improvement over whaat we use there.)

In 2011 our 40-year-old washer and drier died here in Michigan. We replaced it with a Whirlpool HE washer and a drier with a drop down door. If you drop a clean item, it’s usually when you’re loading or unloading the drier. Our machine’s drop down door catches those items so they never hit the floor. It’s fast and signals when the load is dry. It weighs the clothes and adds just the right amount of water.

The 2011 washer we bought for here in Michigan is a top-load High Energy low water machine. It is great! I heard too many negative comments from friends who had purchased front-load machines about moldy smell problems and even saw a special on how to leave your washer door open and clean the gasket or you’ll have mold problems (and I’m allergic to mold). This top load is easier than bending over, uses low water and cleans flawlessly. Can’t imagine a washer I’d like better AND it was lots less expensive than the front-loads we looked at.

If we have to replace our Florida washer and drier (and it may happen because it’s an old set), I’d duplicate our Michigan pair. I would’t even have to go shopping. I’d just contact an appliance store and ask for the Whirlpool model we have.

We have the advantage of having two chances to get it right.

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My Father’s Day thought

I was just thinking about my dad, Curtis Layman, who died in 1985.

He was a Design Engineer at Dow Chemical, and, he was instrumental creating the process by which Saran Wrap was made. He held patents for some of the Saran Wrap design elements. (He even went to Japan as a problem solver when Dow was preparing to open a Saran manufacturing facility there.) He was obviously a very intelligent man but he had only gone through the EIGHTH grade. As an adult, he never stopped learning, read constantly, and was always taking adult education college classes.

1960 was the last year the state of Michigan allowed adults to be tested for a high school diploma (not a GED). He took a long series of tests and was successful earning his high school diploma. He graduated from Midland High School a few months before I did.

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I am nearly ready

I'm the workshop chairman (a role I've filled for 19 years). I'll have the workshop program finalized and ready for the printer within the next few days. Actually I have the program completed now, but I'm waiting to see if I can include the Youth Workshop Schedule on the backside. If I don't have the Youth Schedule by Saturday, I'll finish up the program without it. It should work ok either way. It's always a gigantic chore but for some dumb reason, I like the challenge. I keep thinking that maybe at 72, my mind won't be able to cope with the organizational responsibilities that go along with the scheduling of 220+ hours of classes over three days but I feel that I've done a good job this year, so I don't need to apologize yet.

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Hot water left, Cold water right… Right?

When we’re in Florida, we never drink water directly from the faucet. The pipes are all above ground and run through the garage area and attic so they can get very warm. It’s definitely too warm to drink (sometimes almost HOT), so we get drinking water out of the chilled water on the front of the refrigerator.

Here in Michigan, water is quite cool from the faucet and in fact, if you turn on the cold and let it run, it gets really icy (since water lines run deep underground.)

When I want to wash my hands and I’m in Florida, it works well to turn it to the cold side. The water comes out warm. Perfect! But if we do the same thing here in Michigan, the cold water is dern chilly and just gets colder as it runs.

No problem, you say. When hand washing, just turn on the cold water in Florida and the warm when in Michigan. Unfortunately that’s one of those things you “do without thinking.” We’ve been home for over a month and I still haven’t learned. By October, when we head back, I’ll probably finally have drilled it into my head. But guess what? By the we’ll be back in Florida, I’ll need to re-train my brain (hopefully before we go back north).

It’s those “do it without thinking” things that drive me crazy. Here in Michigan, the garage door opener is controlled from a button near the rear view mirror. In Florida it from an opener in the console area. The waste paper under the sink is on the right here and the left in Florida. The TV channels are, of course all switched but I often try to use the numbers from Florida even though we’re here in Michigan.

Toilet paper is to the left in Florida, the right here. (When I get up in the dark, I often reach for it on the wrong side.) Light switches seem to be in the wrong locations no matter where I am.

We do sleep on the same side of the bed in relation to the headboard. I’m on the right (when looking from the foot to the head of the bed), John’s on the left. But when we first get back (to Florida or to Michigan), I find myself lost when I first get out of bed.

I’m guess I’m hard to re-train.

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He said I had no aptitude

In the early days of computers (the early 1980’s), I took a class on computer skills.

It was a snap for me (and in fact the instructor seemed to know less than I had learned on my own). I’ll admit, I probably didn’t stay very attentive because I was way past that level. Near the end of the class, the instructor told me (in front of the class) that I may as well leave. He said, “I’m now going to go into more advanced stuff and since you have absolutely no aptitude for computers you don’t need to waste your time.”

I wonder what he’d think if he realized I developed the first website for the hospital where I worked (the second hospital website in Michigan), and computers were the foundation for my job the rest of my working career.

With no formal training/education, I wrote programs to schedule the nursing staff, implemented and installed the hardware for a scheduling program so there was coordinated between outpatient and inpatient surgical suites. The hospital considered me the “most knowledgeable” when it came to computers, so I became the hospital “strategic planner,” a role where I used advanced programs to determine the future of the hospital and the major purchases of equipment and services.

After retirement, I continued to develop and maintained dozens of my own websites (and even do it professionally).

How different my life would have been if I’d accepted his proclamation that I’d never be able to use computers.

We all need to exceed the limitations others set for us.

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When John and I arrived in Michigan a month ago, we were both really sick. We were really out-of-it for several weeks and only recently could I say I really feel well. (I’m back to normal now after nearly five weeks of sickness and John’s doing better too.)

As soon as I felt up to it, I started organizing the hundreds of workshops which had been submitted for the ODPC Funfest, where I’ve been workshop chairman for nearly 20 years! (This is my 19th year as chairman and there was one year when I was the apprentice.)

Workshops have grown to a huge program. This year is typical of the last ten years or more under my direction. We’ll have classes going at the festival from 9-5 Thursday, Friday and Saturday in nine areas. The classes are instructed by some of the world’s best musicians. None are paid. It’s a labor of love. You can see the grids as they’ll be offered at the festival here: http://dulcimers.com/workshops/threedailygrids2014.pdf

My excellent proof-reader works with me to make sure that the multi-page program is accurate.

But right now, I’m feeling I have it sorta under control. Yes, I still need to format the pages and get them to the printer on June 23rd, but I’m nearly there.

So today I did something I haven’t done since we got back to Michigan, I dusted the dining room. I organized some rooms, and made it look a little less cluttered. I still have a long-way to go, but I see a light (thought faint) at the end of the tunnel.

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Keeping your tooth brush clean

Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona is also know as Dr. Germs. Over the last three decades, he’s written some 400 papers in peer-reviewed journals on infection and disinfection.

Dr. Gerba has also studied germ counts in the house, and by doing so, discovered the right way to flush the toilet. You should flush with the lid down.

If you flush with the lid up, a polluted plume of bacteria and water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl. The polluted water particles float for a few hours around your bathroom before they all land. If your sink is anywhere near your toilet, chances are some of these particles will land on your tooth brush.

In addition to the simple solution of putting the toilet lid down, I found another way to protect your toothbrush.

Dollar Tree sells four plastic tooth brush covers for $1. They call them “travel covers” but we use them all the time. Each of the four is a different color (identifying the brush as “yours”). Not only does it keep splashes off your brush, but also dust and other undesirable air-borne particles. It has ventilation holes so the brush will dry. And, unlike the old toothbrush covers which covered the whole brush including the handle, these plastic covers (hinged in such a way that the brush is enclosed without the possibility of losing the “lid.”)

I bought the package of four and gave one to John who didn’t see the need, but I notice he’s now using it all the time.

Another nice feature of these covers is that, when you travel, your brush can be packed without contamination or getting stuff in your travel bag wet after you’ve used your brush.

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Mesmerized by Water

Today I sat at our great room window staring out. The constant movement of the lake surface is so enticing. I have the same feeling in Florida, but our Florida condo isn’t as close to the water edge as it it here. Down there the birds and wild life make it entertaining. I can watch their activity by the hour. Here it’s the ripples and waves.

Our Michigan lake is tiny (26 acres), and there are no boats (except quiet canoes, kayaks, sail or paddle boats.)

Today a group of residents worked on clearing, mowing, and cleaning up the island directly across from us. I’m sure the many geese that make the island their home, were disturbed, but geese are awful pests!

Our view here faces south so we never enjoy sunsets nor sunrises, but I do love the water ripples.

In Florida, I miss those ripples, but the active birds (and occasional ‘gator) give me lots to watch and especially in October-December, the sunsets are unbelievable!

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Two Steps Closer

My ultimate plan is to be able to head to Florida without packing more than the clothes and shoes we have enjoyed wearing, my electronics (computer stuff and cameras) and a few miscellaneous items, plus our Charlie bird. (One year I tried leaving all of my clothing in Florida but had nothing to wear over the summer so now I bring back about half of my Florida wardrobe to take care of my summer needs when added to the stuff I leave in Michigan.)

The stuff we drag back and forth more than fills our vehicle so I want to pare the list down. This winter I found another printer and today we got a kitchen scale: two things we don’t need to share between locations. It’ll take some thought and preparation I hope to get to my plan/goal.

At this time, it’s hard to leave behind everything in Michigan or Florida, but I predict that within the next five years, it’ll be easier. Here are my predictions:

We currently drag a box and a file box of paper items back and forth. We need to be able to do our income taxes so those items seem necessary. But I have a feeling scanning items or using on line access will eliminate that need. I’m going to watch very closely when we do our taxes for 2014 because I don’t think I used anything in 2013 that I couldn’t research on line.

I bring my computer and my back-up drive. I am sure that eventually I will use “the cloud” rather than a physical drive. I think a computer “shell” will be fairly cheap and having two wouldn’t be out of the question. Or if that doesn’t happen, at least I won’t need a back-up drive.

I am already starting to think in terms of scanning papers I feel I must have with me. (I bring a shoe box with all of the programs I use and the restore information as papers, but maybe at some point, I will use only programs that can be backed up to “the cloud” and the papers will be scanned.)

Musical instruments? Over the summer, I’m going to try to use my “back-up” autoharp more. If I find I can use it, I’ll take my “good one” to Florida and leave it there. John could get used to one of our “other dulcimers.” If he did that, he wouldn’t need to drag a dulcimer back and forth. I haven’t solved the banjo, ukulele nor saxophone problem, but we’ll see.

Little by little I hope to accomplish my ultimate goal.

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New Refrigerator!

As I mentioned May 7th, our refrigerator had died when we returned from Florida. It smelled awful and we decided it wasn’t worth being repaired. Thursday and Friday we shopped. Found a near perfect LG French door with water in the door, and all the bells and whistles. (It’s stainless to match our other kitchen appliances.)

It was delivered yesterday. Nice not to have to go to the basement refrigerator for stuff. And I missed having easy access to ice and cold water!

I feel like I’m sorta catching up on the jobs I need to do. I finished the website design I needed to update. The workshop schedule is done to the point that I’m asking the leaders to look it over.

Yesterday and today I cleaned and did laundry. I’m feeling better.

Still a lot undone, but life is good!

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Get Off My Butt

Our life in Florida is total relaxation. Occasionally I’ll scrub a floor or dust, but for the most part, the place is really easy to take care of.

The house here in Saginaw is large, older, and much more cluttered. We need to de-clutter and get rid of 3/4’s of the stuff. The basement is a no-man’s land and the second floor has way to much stuff, especially on the balcony. My closets are a mess and the hot tub room has become a place to put stuff until we can find another place to hide it.

We had all winter to build my good intentions but now that I’m here, I have lots demanding my time.

The two biggest projects calling to me are the ODPC workshops which I MUST get organized and I need to get Dee Dee Tibbit’s website updated.

John keeps saying I need to get off my butt, but he doesn’t realize that those two projects require that I be on my backside.

I plan to do what I can and let the rest go. Don’t have a choice. It’s not worth fretting over!

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Michigan’s winter of 2013-14 was tough on old folks

We belong to but aren’t active members of Moose Lodge 82 in Saginaw.

Over the years we’ve stopped in almost weekly to enjoy their wonderful fish dinners – the very best we’ve found any place.

Since we’ve been members for more than 20 years, we’ve met a few folks. Roger Day, a long-time member, had been a friend since the 1980’s. We knew him and his wife, Joyce, better than any other Moose members. Joyce passed away about eight years ago. We always looked forward to seeing Roger and visiting with him. He was a fixture at the Lodge. Before we left last October, I even asked Roger to dance with me. He was a lonely teddy bear.

We met another couple last spring: Sim Clark, and his girlfriend, Eleanor. Last August, we were invited to Sim’s 90th birthday bash. They loved to dance and could out-last any couple on the dance floor. Sweet people.

We had dinner at the lodge tonight. Sadly we found out that our friend, Roger, had died in March, 2014. Eleanor had died suddenly in December, 2013. They were older than us by nearly a generation, but we still felt that they were friends and part of our Michigan life.

It’s very apparent that Michigan’s winter was hard on old folks.

I’m sad. We will feel the loss whenever we go to the Moose.

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When I opened the door to our Michigan house I was hit with an unpleasant smell. John, with his cold, couldn’t smell it, but I thought we had a dead mouse somewhere.

We started setting in. Except for a few dead flies and lots of dust, but place looked fine.

Then we opened the refrigerator. The smell hit me! Neither the refrigerator nor freezer was cooling. It was 65 degrees in both the fridge and the freezer, and had been that way for heaven only knows how long. Everything had to be tossed out. It wasn’t over-full but there was stuff including some frozen meat. And the smell was awful!

It wasn’t an old ugly refrigerator. It was a stainless GE French door that we bought about seven years ago but I guess units aren’t constructed to last even that long.

We tossed three big pails full of rotten smelly food then closed it up so we didn’t have to smell more and went to work moving back in.

Thank heavens we have an old side-by-side refrigerator in the basement. It hadn’t been used for several years, but after cleaning it up and giving it time to cool, it works fine. (We’d gotten rid of it when we replaced it with the GE stainless French door.) We probably won’t bother to have our kitchen refrigerator repaired. Instead we will get a new, top-of-the-line stainless French door, but until then, we’ll use the one in the basement and feel good that we don’t have to rush to buy a replacement.

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We Left Florida Sunday (5/4/14)

Our last event of the 2013-14 season in Kings Point, FL, was a nice Kentucky Derby party (on Saturday). It was fun to see friends and wish them well until we’re together again.

A few of our best friends missed the party because they were sick. John and I weren’t well, but we managed and had a decent time.

Sunday morning we left Florida at about 8:30 a.m. for our nearly 1,300 mile trip back home to Michigan.

The Sunday ride was fairly uneventful.

The love bugs weren’t as bad as last year. We did run into a swarm of them south of the Florida/Georgia border but they didn’t block our view as they’d done in 2013.

It was actually a pretty drive in the southern part of Georgia. Along the I-75 right-of-way, the beautiful, colorful wildflowers were truly awesome!

Only traffic problems Sunday occurred when going through Atlanta because the Braves had a home game which created extra traffic as we passed by the stadium. With both of us suffering from colds, we were not feeling very peppy and it was hard to tolerate the extra pressure of the heavy traffic.

Our evening stop was in Marietta, GA, at the Quality Inn. It was a perfect motel stop. The desk worker was very friendly, we got a nice, large room. They even gave us a fruit basket when we registered. Dinner was just a Subway chicken teriyaki sandwich eaten in our room but it was plenty and with a half can of beer, we enjoyed relaxing. The shower had a lot of pressure so we both loved it. Slept well. Our morning breakfast was excellent; complete with a selection of fruit, sweet rolls, hot or cold cereals, biscuits and gravy, fresh-made waffles (baked while you waited), scrambled eggs, sausage, yogurt, coffee, and juices. Everything was tasty and we left feeling more than satisfied.

Monday we were nearly creamed when a car in the center lane of three lanes, decided to move left into our lane when we were right beside him. That other driver never looked. We were parallel to him when he pulled over. Thank heavens the shoulder was wide and smooth so John was able to avoid being struck. We were shook! The two vehicles were inches apart. (In fact, I expected to hear the impact.) John really saved us!

Monday afternoon’s traffic was bad going through Cincinnati, but some years it’s been even worse. We were in stop and go traffic for about 20 miles.

Quality Inn was our stop Monday night in Miamisburg. We’ve stayed there several times and always enjoyed. This time nothing seemed to go right. The room was tiny, we’d ordered two queens but ended up with a king-size bed, not enough pillows, no clock, the single chair looked like it had been barfed on, the bed was rock-hard. John asked to be moved. We ended up with a much nicer room. Even the new room was not without problems. The remote didn’t work with the TV but we got by using the controls on the TV itself.

By bedtime, we were both grumpy. The pizza we got for dinner helped, but we were both worn out!

Breakfast was ok. Not great! (No eggs nor sausage so, except for the yogurt, we didn’t have any protein at all.) From Miamisburg, we drove almost straight through.

We’re now in Michigan. It’s early afternoon. We still have about 100 miles to go, but we should get to our house early enough to be able to unload what is necessary before it’s dark.

While riding, I have been staying in touch with friends who are still in Florida. Guess it’s been nice temps, but the love bugs are out in force. Can’t say I miss the critters.

We’ll have a quiet summer. At least this year we have few a activities on our calendar and our favorite dance band will be playing on Tuesday nights.

For the next month, I’m going to be busy getting the ODPC workshops scheduled. That’ll keep me really busy.

Hope our place is ok when we get home. It’s been seven months and no one has checked on it for us. At least with out new security system, we’re fairly certain no one entered.

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Unlimited text, talk and internet

Please please be cautious before falling for the Walmart sales pitch that the “Straight Talk” cell phone plan is unlimited and will provide you with all the access you need. You may find it will work for you, but before you buy into it, become very familiar with T-Mobile in your area. (T-Mobile’s ability to provide acceptable service varies from area to area.)

T-Mobile leases excess service from providers that have towers (especially Verizon). In our areas of Florida or Michigan, T-Mobile has no towers of their own. Unfortunately, in our area with Verizon being increasingly popular, there is nothing left-over for T-Mobile customers.

I don’t subscribe to Straight Talk, so how do I know there is a problem?

The Simplisafe system we use for our home security uses T-Mobile for their wireless connection. We had problems because calls wouldn’t go out from our base unit to the monitoring center. After talking with Simplisafe at length, they admitted that T-Mobile can’t provide appropriate service. Simplisafe is now providing the ability to use Verizon direct (replacing T-Mobile). As a result, it’s working much better.

I also questioned a Walmark employee who admitted that “unlimited” isn’t doesn’t accurately describe Straight Talk. It’s unlimited in that T-Mobile won’t cut you off, but Verizon doesn’t give T-Mobile customers the type of service they provide to their directly subscribed Verizon customers. When the system is busy Verizon slows down the T-Mobile users to a snail’s pace. It can take 15 minutes to get connected only to find you can’t load websites, nor email messages.

There may be some areas of the country where the arrangement works for the Straight Talk customers, but check it out carefully. It may work some of the time, but not all. Yes, it’s a low cost service. If you can live with part-time connections, and you want to risk it, at least you’ve been warned.

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Why a May cold?

In May, 2012, I had a horrid cold that started while we were heading back to Michigan and continued until the end of June. I finally went to the doctor and it was determined I had pneumonia.

Yesterday we attended a fun pool party with our friends hosted by the Enge’s. We had a great time, but I was a little under the weather and by today, it was truly obvious that I have a cold. It hasn’t knocked me out completely, but I’m stuffy with a cough (constant tickle). I hate feeling yucky.

I need to finish packing. Friday and yesterday made a big dent in the organization of the stuff that needs to be hauled back. As usual, I’m taking back more than I had planned. At this point, I know what needs to be done and I’m ready. I could leave in a couple hours. I’ll still do a load or two of laundry and some surface cleaning. I’ll re-scan all the closets and dressers just in case I’ve left something important behind, but the packing lists and to-do’s are getting shorter.

Today it was nearly 90, so I decided to stay inside. With my stuffy nose, the extra humidity wouldn’t help me feel better.

Surprisingly, after a good dinner, and a couple glasses of John’s wine, I’m feeling MUCH better. John says we could sell his wine as a cure for the commmon cold, but sadly there’s little left.

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Sad Sandhill Story

Most of us love the sandhill cranes that hang around the golf courses here in Kings Point. They are beautiful, majestic birds. Usually there are several “pair” of them. This year we’ve seen fewer than we did last year.

We have observed one crane who has been alone for the past couple of weeks. Since they are always in pairs we’ve been concerned.

Sadly we now know what happened. The report came from our friend, Doug. He and the others in his horrified golf foursome witnessed a ‘gator grab the bird when she got too close to the edge of a pond. The ‘gator pulled her under. There was nothing anyone could do to save it.

The surviving mate could be heard crying pitifully. The mournful sound continued for a long while. We still hear him occasionally.

(You’ll notice that we refer to the lost sandhill as a “she” but really don’t know which of the pair is missing. They look the same.)

On April 6th, our friend, Evie, posted the photo (to the left) and this comment: “He was there in the dark when I first got up. Then he called and called but he’s still alone!”

I did read this on the National Wildlife Foundation site, “Sandhill cranes mate for life. When they form a pair bond, it can last for years until one of the cranes dies. After a mate passes away, the surviving crane will seek out a new mate.” Let’s hope he finds another lady bird to keep him company.

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Packing and Losing

With a little over two weeks to go, I need to get busy. I usually have everything packed a couple weeks ahead of our departure, but haven’t started yet. I want to leave most of my clothes here but when it comes right down to it, I will need to take a sufficient wardrobe for the summer.

I’ve gotten chubby (aka FAT) this winter and I must lose about 20-30 pounds before we return here in the fall. That means that currently a lot of my clothes don’t fit. Do I bring some of them as incentive to lose? Or do I buy new clothes as a reward when I lose?

You’ll notice I said WHEN, not IF I lose. I lost over 20 pounds when I turned 60. Over the past 12 years, I’ve put it back on plus more but I know I can do it again! I’ll use the old points program from Weight Watchers. I know how it works and, if I write down every bite I eat and exercise lots, I should be able to shed it.

But I do need to get busy packing. Lots to do!

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Too Soon

Our departure from Florida is rapidly approaching.

I’m not ready to go home to Michigan. Every year, this place feels more like home than our place up north. We have lots of parties and gatherings before we head back. Seems like everyone wants to crowd in “one more” fun time.

Friday of this week, we have a country night at the clubhouse. Saturday there’s a birthday party at a restaurant and a Baby Boomers Club dance. Sunday a couple will be coming over for brunch. Monday John has a project working on our truck. Next week on Tuesday, we have a farmers’ market and a Nantucket V association potluck/bar-be-que, Wednesday a dance class and an open house, Thursday a pool party, Friday a birthday luncheon, Sunday an Oldies but Goodies dance, Tuesday a farewell dinner at the home of friends, the 25th we have another birthday gathering and a laff-a-lot gathering. That’s just the next two weeks. When we aren’t scheduled, I want to get to the pool.

I’d love to have a few friends over for a final farewell but it may not work out.

We’ll finish off our time here on May 3rd with a Kentucky Derby party. We leave the next morning.

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Maybe Company?

John’s sister-in-law called the other day and said that she and John’s brother, their daughter, their son-in-law, and their granddaughter, will (probably) be in Florida for a week. They were planning to leave Michigan yesterday (Saturday) with a primary destination of Disney World. They hadn’t made specific plans, but it’s possible. They might visit us.

It’s all very iffy and if they do come for a visit, will they stay over? We don’t really have sleeping space for five extras, but we will manage.

We have our guest room which will sleep two, a queen-size inflatable bed which could be put in the living room, and we have a couch where the granddaughter could sleep. It’s not ideal, but it would work for a night or two.

We’re about an hour and a half from Disney World.

John’s niece, her husband, and daughter would probably love the sun and fun of the pool. And maybe we can direct John’s brother & sister-in-law to the Tampa Casino. They’d love it there.

Guess we’ll just wait to hear from them.

Unfortunately we will be busy Wednesday and all day Saturday. If they can come Thursday and Friday, we’d love to take them to Sunset Grill at Little Harbor for the sunset. It’s always impressive (and we’d get to go too).



Heard from the family. John’s brother and sister-in-law will be visiting us. They’ll arrive Thursday a.m. and probably stay over Thursday night, leaving early Friday. (The rest of the family is at Disney World for the week.) We’re looking forward to their visit. Don’t know how we’ll entertain them. John doesn’t like the idea of Little Harbor, so that’s probably out, but we’ll see. It’s lovely here. We will do our best to show them our area.

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Trying to “simplify” but it’s complicated!!!

It would be great if we could fly back and forth from Florida to Michigan and everything would be in place when we arrived at our condo (or Michigan home). No days of packing and unpacking. No loading and unloading. We wouldn’t miss the fourteen hundred miles of traffic and congestion. The first year maybe we’d need to UPS some of our stuff, but we’d like to aim for the eventual possibility of just having everything in place.

I have a lengthy list of stuff we drag back and forth. Many of the items could be left either in Michigan or Florida and we’d get by. We would need to buy duplicates of a few things, but I’ve started outfitting both places with the same essentials.

Our musical instruments present some problems. John could leave his Webster dulcimer here and I could leave my Orthey autoharp. John could play one of our other two Websters which are currently in Michigan and I could play my Oscar Schmidt autoharp when up there. But his Bacon and Day Silver Bell banjo is a bit of a problem. Although he has another banjo in Michigan, it’s not the quality of the one that he drags back and forth. He also has only one ukulele. He could ship the banjo, but eventually we want to get it down to a point where we have all items located one place or the other and they’d stay there.

But in the near future, the bigger blockade to our plans is Charlie, our bird. What do we do with Charlie? We’ve kidded that we could let him fly on his own, but obviously that’s not possible. He’s old. He may not be around many more years, but he seems to be doing fine. We certainly expect that he’ll make the round trip with us home in May and back here in October so we’re stuck driving.

At least in May, 2014, and then again in October, 2014, provided Charlie is still with us, we plan to drive to Michigan and back to Florida. That may mean John will want to buy another vehicle for our “road trips.” He would like to replace our Michigan Chevy Malibu with a late model SUV which gets decent mileage. He’d drive that to Florida instead of our 2003 GMC diesel truck.

Of course even if we bought an SUV, we’d need to keep our truck in Michigan until we decide to replace our 5th wheel with a trailer. (It’s the vehicle we use to tow the 28′ 5th wheel.) If we get an SUV, upgrading our RV to a nice but smaller trailer would be our next purchase.

Once we have a road-worthy SUV and we drive it to Florida, the next thing John would like to do is to sell our Florida Jaguar (although I love that car more than any of our vehicles). It stays down here all of the time (in our Florida garage when we’re in Michigan). But we could get rid of it, if we have a more conveniently sized vehicle we can use when in Florida. Our big GMC diesel crew cab truck, which we drive down, doesn’t work for any car trips around here at all so we move it to the “RV Storage area” and there it stays (covered with a canvas cover we bought for it) all the time we’re in Florida. (The RV truck storage rental slot costs us $155 annually.)

John’s a numbers guy. As he sees it, we’d save $155 annually for truck storage, plus almost $560 which we spend annually for the Jaguar license and insurance. And if we get rid of the Malibu, that would save over $530 in license and insurance. Of course he isn’t considering the more than $30,000 that it would cost to purchase the new SUV which would also need license and insurance and for an SUV would probably be higher than either the $560 or $530 we pay on our current vehicles annually.

I’d rather wait another year. Maybe by then we’ll lose Charlie. If that happens, we can keep the truck to haul our 5th wheel in Michigan, keep our 5th wheel, keep our Jaguar, and just fly back and forth from Michigan to Florida. No expenditures would be necessary except for the flights back and forth which sound like a bargain. And if we do that, we won’t have our truck here in Florida, so we’ll save the $155 for the rental of the storage space in the RV storage area.

The way I look at it, the vehicle is only part of the equation. We aren’t getting any younger so driving back and forth, even in the snazziest SUV won’t eliminate the strain of driving the 1,300 miles each way. If we don’t have Charlie (our bird) in the equation, we’d be wiser to fly which is safer. We would then want a vehicle down here so we could fly in and have a car to drive. The Jaguar is perfect.

Eventually we may still replace our Malibu with a more versatile SUV and eventually upgrade our 5th wheel and get rid of the truck, but it wouldn’t be because we needed it to drive to Florida. We can figure it out at that time.

Of course at that point you’ve gotten into big bucks: A SUV and a new trailer are BIG expenses. We have an 2003 GMC truck, a 2004 Chevy Malibu, a 2005 Jaguar and an old 5th wheel to trade up or sell for these new up-grades but you’re talking about well over $50,000-$60,000 in new purchases, and probably less than 20,000 for the vehicles we’d sell or trade in. That’s a huge difference and for what reason?

Oh, well.. we’ll figure it all out.

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Shhhh…… Don’t tell anyone

In the gated community of Kings Point there are three pools available to all residents: the North Club pool, the South Club pool, and the Nantucket pool.

For us the closest one is at the South Club. (It’s an easy five minute walk.) It’s beautifully landscaped, large and a fun social gathering place. Unfortunately it’s always over-crowded, especially in the springtime when kids visit their grandparents. No matter how early we go, it seems it’s hard to find a shady spot.

So today we decided to try the Nantucket pool. It’s not as far from us as the North Club and we have heard that it’s rarely crowded.

It was a nice golfcart ride. We went about noon. It was quiet and nearly empty! A few more folks arrived through the afternoon, but it was never crowded. It isn’t as pretty, the chairs were a little less comfortable, but the tranquility was wonderful!

John said we should keep it our secret. We’re afraid everyone will discover that this location is perfect. We’ll go back, and I might even try walking to it (although it’s considerably further).

So don’t let anyone know. Shhhhh….

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Voter Requirements

Many states are becoming more restrictive and requiring state issued I.D. cards prior to voting. That started a discussion among my facebook friends. Comments were exchanged. The side which felt I.D. cards should be required had a strong argument. Those on the other side suggested that the state requirements often were difficult for some voters. I fell in the middle until I thought back to my own experience:

A couple of years ago I decided to become a Florida resident which meant I’d have a Florida I.D. (in my case, a driver’s license.) I couldn’t believe how difficult the process was.

Once a lady is married, you had to bring your certified birth certificate and certified marriage certificate (which proved your new name.) If you’d been married more than once, you needed to bring your divorce certificate and next marriage certificate for any subsequent marriages. I had a current (Michigan) drivers’ license but I was told that wouldn’t count.

It’s my feeling that most folks who are divorced don’t bother to save old marriage licenses and divorce certificates, but in Florida, they had to be provided (especially for women) to “track your name”. I had called the Florida state offices so I knew what was required and since I’d been married before I spent quite a bit to secure both my marriage and divorce records from Michigan. It wasn’t cheap and it took time (about a month) and paperwork.

Surprisingly when I got to the Florida county office to apply for my Florida license/i.d., the clerk looked at me and let me use just my birth certificate, my 1985 Michigan marriage certificate to John and my current driver’s license. She said it was because the Michigan marriage certificate showed both my maiden and married name. But I guess most states don’t include maiden names on (re-)marriage certificates so both the divorce and the re-marriage certificates are required to apply for a state i.d. or drivers license.

I can see why getting a voter registration certification is difficult for those with limited resources. How many disadvantaged folks would spend several months preparing and spend $$$ so they can vote? That’s what I did so I could secure a valid Florida ID.

John is still a Michigan resident, but I am a valid, driver’s license certified Florida resident. I now have a Florida voter card. But it was complicated because I’m a woman so don’t carry my name from birth to death. I’m glad I have the resources and abilities to file the necessary applications.

Do those who are disadvantaged have that ability?

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Business places need to plan for women with purses

I carry a purse (as do many women). Several times I’ve used public rest room and found that rest rooms aren’t set up for women with purses.

Most recently (Friday, March 7th) I was in Riverview, at John’s pulmonologist. I took my purse into the unisex rest room and found there was no hook nor shelf on which to set it. The doorknob was a lever so it wouldn’t allow me hang the purse there without the weight of it unlocking the door. I put the purse on the only place I could.. the very narrow edge of the sink. Of course it fell into the sink (or maybe it only hung over), but either way, that action triggered the “automatic” faucet and my purse was drenched. I grabbed it as quickly as I could but it was dripping wet as was everything inside of it (checkbook, tickets for a party I was selling, etc.)

Actually I’m glad it was just MY purse. Since it was “unisex,” John could have just as easily used the facility and he was carrying his medical records in a case. They’d have been drenched and they’d be difficult to replace.

If this had been the only time it had happened, I wouldn’t be as upset, but it also happened at another doctor’s office and it too had no shelves nor hooks and an automatic faucet which was triggered by the purse on the edge.

Unfortunately both times I thought I could balance my purse. And both times I didn’t know the faucet would come on, triggered by the over-hang or the purse which had fallen into the sink.

I don’t want to appear to be against technology and the auto faucet features are handy and desirable, but I feel businesses should provide a solution (or a warning saying, “Don’t set items on side of sink because it may trigger the faucet and your item is liable to be drenched.”) But what’s the choice? The floor? A poor solution!!! I suggest they send their handyman to Home Depot and buy a cheap shelf. It can be installed in 10 minutes for under $30 and we’ll all be happy.

(Note: John suggested a hook on the back of the door until I reminded him that the portfolio case he carried didn’t have a handle so, if it had happened to him, he’d have still have wet medical records.)

Business places, please consider the folks who use your facilities. (Put up a shelf.)

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Is it the oak pollen?

Both John and I have been congested and miserable for several weeks. We haven’t felt like going out much but we haven’t been idle either. We’ve visited Busch Gardens once a week for the last three weeks where we’ve enjoyed the Osmonds, Frankie Avalon, and Lee Greenwood’s shows.

King’s Point’s huge “garage sale” was Friday the 28th and March 1st. We picked up a few bargains.

For John’s 76th birthday on March 1st, the two of us took a picnic (huge carry-out wet burritos) to Sunset Beach, Little Harbor, on Tampa Bay, and enjoyed the sand and surf. At home, we enjoyed a piece of John’s b-day cake. It was a little chilly (mid 60’s by sunset) but we’d brought jackets so it was nice. (We also brought a small table, cooler, and folding chairs. We do things right!!)

Oscar night, Sunday, March 2nd, we attended a fun Oscar party complete with great food, fun setting, and super people. Stephen & Caroline are hands down the best hosts.

We hadn’t been to any of the nominated movies this year but I considered it a challenge when Stephen mailed us a ballot listing the 24 Oscar category nominees so I studied. I only missed selecting three of the 24 winners. (The three I missed: the big one.. best picture, animated short film, and documentary. Got the 21 others.)

My birthday was Tuesday, March 4th. John gave me the option to do whatever I wanted. I chose to go to Busch Gardens and take in the Lee Greenwood show. It’s not that I’m a Lee Greenwood fan, but I was sure I’d enjoy him since no tune stirs me like “God Bless The USA.”)

Lee is a decent country singer but he only had one recognizable hit (ok, maybe two if you count “Dixie Road”), but most folks can only recall his one 1980’s great patriotic tune. I enjoyed the show. He definitely can still sing and play the sax, but unlike most of the acts in the Busch Gardens Real Music Series, his list of hits was very short (for me.. one). “God Bless the USA” was worth the price of admission and everyone sang along, but usually at these shows you hear more recognizable tunes… There weren’t any.

John wasn’t feeling well so when we left the show we made our way to the exit gate (stopping often to rest). I am concerned about John’s health! (Thank heavens he has an appointment Friday with his Florida pulmonologist.)

When we got back to Sun City Center, we stopped at Publix and bought an awesome steak which we enjoyed for my birthday dinner with a nice salad, a baked potato, and a glass of wine. PERFECT!! My kind of birthday!!

Weather couldn’t have been better (80+ degrees) but the really heavy heavy oak pollen impacted both of us. My black camera bag looked like yellow baby powder had been shaken on it. Couldn’t believe it could be that heavy.

Maybe the pollen is why we’ve been miserable.

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My “other” guy

I have another male in my life. Back in 2009, I was taking photos at Busch Gardens and a male gorilla flirted with me. I know what you’re saying, gorillas don’t flirt with human females, but this big fellow came to the window and posed for me. He then brought his off-spring to the window to show me. As I brought my camera up, he smiled – tilting his head. He did it several times. Everyone around us was amazed and many commented. My photo captured his smile. He and I have continued our relationship with a plexiglass between us. Here’s the 2009 photo of his “smile” on the top with the picture I took yesterday below it. (The top close-up photo shows the smile.) He got so close to the glass that his features were shadowed but you can see expression.

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Real Music Series

We have annual tickets for Busch Gardens. Each year we look forward to the Real Music Series. The “stars” are all performers from a few years back, but our age-group loves them.

Shows are held at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Friday at the Stanleyville Theater. Here’s this year’s Real Music Series 2014 lineup:

Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
January 14 – 17

Chubby Checker
January 21 – 24

The Glenn Miller Orchestra
with The Four Freshmen
January 28 – 31

Bay City Rollers
starring Les McKeown
February 4 – 7

Paul Revere and the Raiders
February 11 – 14

The Osmonds
February 18 – 21

Frankie Avalon
February 25 – 28

Lee Greenwood
March 4 – 7

I didn’t care about the first five weeks because we’ve seen them (with the exception of the Bay City Rollers). I am really looking forward to The Osmonds, Frankie Avalon and most of all, Lee Greenwood.

We’ve enjoyed the Osmonds several previous years, but their shows are always really good, so I want to be in their audience.

Lee Greenwood’s music has always evoked patriotism that I feel will really impress this audience, and I’ve never seen Frankie Avalon. So for the next three weeks, I hope we can drive over to Busch Gardens and take in the shows. (Lee Greenwood is on my birthday, so I feel I can request his performance for an extra treat on “my day.”)

Hopefully we’ll go Thursday of this week. With our dancing lessons on hiatus this week, it’s easier than it will be the next two weeks, but hopefully we can make it to both Frankie and Lee’s shows.

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Pool Day

Got to the pool early today (before 11:00). The place was already packed. I found a chair, then moved, then moved again. I finally was satisfied with a shady spot not far from when I usually reside (when poolside).

When it’s as crowded as it was today, I get upset with folks who drop their towel bag on a chair then head to a class at the North Clubhouse, or go shopping, or whatever they do, and return to claim their chair several hours later.

I don’t feel it’s fair to hold a spot when you aren’t there. I don’t mind when folks make a quick trip inside to buy lunch or go to the rest room, but there are residents who know they won’t be at the pool until close to 1:00 but leave their stuff at 9:00 or 10:00 to “save” a spot. To me that’s NOT being fair.

If you aren’t going to return within 15 minutes, don’t save a spot. (The only exception is when you head inside to buy lunch and find a long line. I was inside getting lunch from 12:50-1:15 because I had to wait in line.) — So, ok, let’s say if you aren’t going to return in 30 minutes, don’t save your chair. I saw one chair with a towel over it that was empty for over two hours (closer to three)! That was wrong!!

Like parking at a curb, there should be a way that folks who aren’t at their chair are monitored, and if they don’t return, their chair should be considered abandoned. I feel guidelines should be flexible, but when it goes over an hour (no matter what the excuse), the towels which are left on a chair should be collected and the lounge chairs freed up for others who need them.

I try never to be a hog when it comes to reserving a chair.

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Pickleball Party Review

Wow, what a fun evening. We just returned from a Kings Point Pickleball Club party which was fun, fun, fun! Maybe it was the people we were with or maybe it was the excelllent dinner menu, or maybe the awesome musicians who played for us so we could dance (non-stop), but something clicked and we just had a wonderfully fun time!

We danced and visited with Friends. I want to do it again ….. soon. It reverses the aging process by 10 or 20 years!!! I feel like a kid. Love it!!!!

Some parties are successful because they feed us well (this one did), others are great because the band is really good (as this one was), and other time we just plain love the folks at our table (which was the case this time.)

Boy, this was a memorable evening with everything working toward its success.

Loved every minute of it!!

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Winter Weather

The weather in Michigan has been unbelievably fierce — extremely cold with lots of snow.

When the first snowfalls were reported in early December, John wistfully yearned for the fluffy white stuff, but with the many storms coming one after another, he’s changed his tune. It no longer sounds appealing. You either shovel or you’re shut-in. Our up-north friends have “had it!” They are yearning for spring.

A couple weeks ago, some friends who spend the winters with us here in Florida went back to the west side of Michigan for an important graduation. “Never again,” was their lament. It was so cold and snowy that they didn’t try to unwinterize their Michigan house and instead stayed with relatives. There was just too much snow in their driveway to try clearing it out.

A few years back, when we spent our winters in Michigan, I fell victim to S.A.D. (season affected disorder). I’d get moody and depressed. I can imagine that it’s a common condition this winter where “getting out” is difficult.

John is convinced that his lung problems originated in subzero temps one year when we tried to drive back to Michigan in January. Our diesel truck froze up when it was parked outside our motel in Sharon, Ohio. John ran through the cold from our motel to a nearby garage to get help. He feels the -8 degree temps damaged his lungs which in turn allowed the progression of his pulmonary fibrosis.

We are therefore not about to head back to Michigan when it’s cold.

Other parts of the country are also struggling with the winter of 2013-14. Atlanta is again ice-covered, and snow is falling in the east.

Even here in Florida it’s not very toasty today. But 65 isn’t bad, and in a couple days we’ll be back enjoying the sun at the pool.

I almost feel guilty for our wonderful life.

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Feels good knowing that even though it’s costing us a monthly fee, our house in Michigan is being monitored by a security system with folks listening 24/7 for an alarm to go off. If anyone were to break in we’d be immediately notified as well as the police. This is the first year we’ve had this kind of protection while we’re here in Florida. The security company would notify us if there’s water in our basement and we can check on the temperature in our house. It sure makes us feel more secure.

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Sorry I’ve been neglectful

We’ve had a lot going on here in Florida so it’s been hard to discipline myself to write for my blog.

One friend told me that she starts each morning by checking to see what I’ve written. Unfortunately I’ve let her down. I’ll try to do better.

Yesterday we spent a day at Tampa Downs Racetrack with a large group from the Kings Point Sportsman’s Club. We’d purchased advance tickets which included parking, a program, reserved inside seating (where we could watch the races comfortably), and an excellent lunch buffet highlighted by carved beef roast and turkey breast. Everything was really good. The weather was damp and slightly chilly, so it was a good day to be inside.

We’re not big gamblers. We bet $2 a piece for eight races. We actually came out a couple dollars ahead. A fun day!

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From the mouths of babes

A friend was sharing on Facebook what his very, very young son (just over three years old) had said about their dog who is ill and not expected to make it. It was a beautiful re-telling. Here’s what my friend said about his conversation with his child. Only the names of the child and the dog have been left off in this posting.

Child: “Why are you so sad our dog is going to die and go to heaven?”
Father: “Because I’m going to miss him so much.”
Child: “But Jesus will fix him.”
Father: floored… melted in a puddle. Such a sweet little guy.

That sure says a lot about the parents.

Note: The next day the dog died.

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I’m a reader

A friend just posted an alarming post to Facebook. But at the pool yesterday, I realized that about 50% of those relaxing on the pool deck were reading a book (or a Kindle). Certainly doesn’t fit with the statistics below:

I’m a reader. I can’t begin to count the books I read in any given period of time. I read constantly. I love the act of reading but, although I can re-tell the story from beginning to end, frequently I can’t recall the author nor title because somehow that’s not as important as the prose.. the absorption of the story… the moving to another dimension with the written word.

I don’t care who the author is. They can be an unknown, or someone of great reputation. I don’t care. If the story grabs me, I’ll read without putting it down.

I devour. I chew up. I absorb.

I’m a reader.

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I’m Blessed

If you woke up this morning
with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the
million who won’t survive the week.

If you have never experienced
the danger of battle,
the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or
the pangs of starvation,
you are ahead of 20 million people
around the world.

If you attend a church meeting
without fear of harassment,
arrest, torture, or death,
you are more blessed than almost
three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator,
clothes on your back, a roof over
your head and a place to sleep,
you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank,
in your wallet, and spare change
in a dish someplace, you are among
the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If you can read this message,
you are more blessed than over
two billion people in the world
that cannot read anything at all.

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Temperatures aren’t the same..

Someone posted this on facebook:

It’s so true!

During our time in Florida, I enjoy it when we have temps of 72 and up. I feel comfortable (not hot) anywhere even in the 90’s. In Michigan, the summer comfort zone is 68-78 (above that it’s TOO WARM).

Note: Folks in Florida always think that Michigan is super cold all the time. Actually I’ve been hotter in a Michigan summer than any time I’ve experienced in Florida (including the years when I’d spend several weeks in mid-summer in Florida.)

There’s something about different states that acclimates your body so you are most comfortable at a different temperature.

When we’re spending winters in Florida, if it is 50 degrees it feels really cold, yet in Michigan, if it’s been colder and warms to 50, it can feel absolutely balmy. (Hence the photo.)

It may be the humidity, the sun, I can’t explain it.

I do know that it’s not just Michigan and Florida. California felt really COLD and yet the temperatures were moderate while I was there. (Mornings started in the 50’s but got into the low 70’s most days.) I can’t explain the difference, but I was truly chilly most all the time in California.

I’d say that a perfect Michigan day is 75 and in Florida it’s 82.

I guess I need to stick one place, but that isn’t going to happen so I just need to accept that my body will respond differently and quit complaining. (Sweaters, or lap robes work great!)

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Still Sick

I thought I felt better this morning, but now that I’ve been up all day, I am definitely still under the weather.

I’ve encouraged John to attend meetings, go to dances, etc. and voyeristically I have quizzed him on what I’m missing. I figure that if I take it easy, I’ll be back to normal sooner. I’m not planning to do anything until Sunday when I plan to be able to attend a party at the home of friends. Glad I can just take it easy.

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Cold germs on the return flight

I’m sick and I’m sure I caught my rotten cold when I came back from California. Generally they say the incubation period for cold germs is 4 to 5 days which is exactly what it took me to start showing symptoms. Tuesday night I sneezed non-stop and felt miserable by Wednesday. Had to send John to the store yesterday to get more kleenex. Haven’t left the house since mid-day Tuesday so I’ve missed karaoke, our Wednesday night dance class, and my exercise class. And there’s no way I’ll make it to the Rockin’ Rendezvous tonight. I don’t want to expose others, and I really need to rest and direct my energy toward feeling better. (No one appreciates a sick person who recklessly spreads their germs.)

At least I have great cable TV so I can watch a movie but probably I’ll just relax and maybe read today.

It’s cold outside so the pool isn’t tempting me. (Only in the 50’s today.) Looking out, it’s sunny and pretty.

Just want to feel good!! We have a lot of things coming up that I don’t want to miss. Don’t have time to be sick!

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Post-California (back in Florida)

Got back from California Wednesday really late, actually early Thursday, nearly 2:00 a.m. when I shut off the light. That meant that Thursday and Friday were wasted days as I attempted (unsuccessfully) to “recover.” I was so tired I felt ill.

Yesterday I was at the pool all day and it was glorious! (Nearly 80 with a bit of a breeze.) The water was warm and we totally enjoyed it.

Last night when a cold front came through, we had a loud thunderstorm. Today it barely got into the 70’s, but was a pretty day.

John’s been totally engrossed in the (football) playoff games. Since he’s been pre-occupied, the weather outside hasn’t been as important to him, but he’s loving our new 65″ Samsung smart TV.

With our Christmas Eve party, New Years Eve, and my trip to California behind us, life seems comfortable and simple.

My next crisis (after we attend the very dressy SnoBall) will be organizing the Michigan Club’s pizza party February 24th. (I’m chairman of it.) And I’m starting to collect leader submissions for my annual challenge organizing the workshops for the ODPC Funfest.

It looks like we’re headed into Florida’s version of winter. It won’t come close to Michigan’s bitter cold, but it’ll be too chilly to enjoy the pool or most outside activities. We won’t be idle with classes, chorus, karaoke, meetings, and parties over the next week.

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My time in California

On Thursday, January 2nd, I flew out of Tampa heading to Monterey, California, to attend my grandson (Kristofer)’s wedding on Saturday, January 4th.

The trip was uneventful. I was exhausted and wished I had packed differently (too much in my carry-on computer case), but I made it safely and near the scheduled arrival time. It was so nice to see my daughter (and her good friend, Dotty) at the airport.

We attended the rehearsal dinner Friday night.

Saturday there were a few scheduling glitches for photos, but the wedding was lovely. The bride looked radiant, the groom handsome (of course my opinion may be slightly affected by being his grandmother). The reception was very, very nice. Food excellent. Fun crowd. Details perfectly executed.

Sunday I went to church with my daughter and then did some shopping with her.

Yesterday (Monday) we spent a good deal of the day at the Monterey Aquarium. I will add some photos later, but suffice it to say the experience was lovely! The displays of jelly fish were especially awesome. (My son-in-law, who works at the aquarium, was able to get us back-stage passes which made it even more interesting. A long tiring day, but very enjoyable!

Today (Tuesday) my daughter and I are going to do some extra shopping and sightseeing together. Tomorrow I head home.

I must admit that I was concerned before coming that it would be awkward because my ex-husband and his wife were in attendance and I knew I’d have to share my daughter’s time with him. But it had been so long, we’ve been divorced for about 45 years and it had been at least 25 since I’d seen him, so it was like meeting a stranger. His wife and I hit it off, and everything went smoothly. (I was surprised to find that I really liked his wife and enjoyed their company.) Once that hurdle was dealt with, everything was fine.

I have had a hard time with my sleep patterns. It’s hard to deal with a three-hour time difference and will have a similar difficult time when I go home.

Michigan is experiencing record cold temperatures and snow. Florida had a low last night near freezing. Here in California, I’m also chilly (high will be about 60 today). It is damp and I’m the only one who feels that it’s not warm enough.

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2013 turning to 2014

New Year approachignWe’ll be at a Kings Club North Club party bringing in the New Year on New Year’s Eve. Several tables of friends will join us. Should be fun.

Over the years we’ve tried several different parties but we’ve never attended this one. The previous couple of years we went to one in Sun City Center which included a sit-down dinner. The food this time will be heavy hor dourvers which may work better because last year the service was slow and our meal didn’t get to us until nearly 11:00. Going to a party should be more than just waiting for your meal.

Since John and I never stay up until midnight, just staying awake will be a challenge but if the music is good, we’ll dance a lot.

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Help! Please!!!!!!!!!

I’ve got a problem that’s driving me crazy. I hear two very high pitched chirps every 1.02 minutes but I can’t figure out where the sound is originating. Since I am deaf in one ear, I can’t directionalize sound and the pitch doesn’t match John’s hearing range so he’s oblivious to it. I can’t figure out what’s making the sound. It’s not the smoke detectors, nor air purifier nor the refrigerator. It’s been going on since last night and I’m about to scream. If there’s any one with good hearing who is in the vicinity and can help me, I’d sure appreciate it. Since John can’t hear it, he’s looking at me strangely.


I FOUND IT! The source of the chirp as a digital meat thermometer in a kitchen cabinet. It had been returned to its box after being used yesterday and it stayed on, chirping intermittently. Drove me crazy!

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Got a Good Buy

I buy a lot of stuff on eBay. The other day I spotted a pair of Carlo Pazolini Leather Folding Travel Flats (handmade) which looked very comfortable for $159 with $9.99 for shipping. They’d be great to wear on the plane when I go to California, but they were waaaay too expensive!! No way would I spend $169.99 for little leather flats!

On December 19th, I spotted the same shoes for $15 with FREE shipping. $153.99 price difference!

Here are the two pair. Can you tell which ones were more expensive?

Take a guess. Were the expensive ones Pair 1 or Pair 2?

Pair 1:

Pair 1Pair 1 w/bag


Pair 2:

Pair 2


The bargain ($15) was Pair 1. Identical in every way to Pair 2 including the cloth bag with Carlo Pazolini woven into the fablic.

I love eBay. Shop carefully and you’ll do what I did. You’ll score a good buy from a wonderful seller. Thanks, Mike!!

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Down to the Wire

Today we’ll enjoy a Christmas gathering at the home of friends (Paul and Bunny). Sounds like a good time and, knowing them, we’ll have lots to eat and drink.

Tomorrow it’s two days until Christmas.

It’s become a tradition for us to host a Christmas Eve party for our Michigan friends who are here in Florida. We’ll enjoy a lot of food and our group of four (Kings Strings) will provide a little Christmas music. There’ll also be some group karaoke, and a little sampling of wines. The plan is to enjoy a relaxed evening with friends.

Lots of flickering candles, the Christmas tree fully decorated, lots of outdoor lights, and hopefully a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Obviously getting ready is a challenge. I continually dust and vacuum, but I still spot dust bunnies. And Charlie, our cockatiel, spits his seeds in his cage area. (I think he’ll go in our music room for the evening but he’s not going to be happy being left out.)

The party will start at 5:30 on Christmas Eve. We’ll party until the last leave. No deadline on the festivities.

Christmas Day the two of us will enjoy a 12-pound turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

It would be nice to have pool weather after Christmas because I’ve been too busy to spend any time there, but I think there’s a cool-down anticipated. (It’s been mid 80’s.) It’ll probably be in the mid 70’s which is warm enough to sit by the pool and read.

On New Years Eve, we have plans to attend a big party at the North Clubhouse.

I want to take down the tree and un-decorate on New Year’s Day so I won’t have to face that chore after my California trip. All my fake poinsettas, wreath, outdoor lights, candles, etc. will be packed and ready for John to store in the attic. (He’ll have the week that I’m gone to get that done.)

I leave Florida on January 2nd and return home on the 8th. My grandson gets married on January 4th at Hidden Valley, Carmel Valley Village, California. I fly out EARLY on the 2nd. (We’ll have to leave here by 5:00 a.m. to get to the airport by about 5:45 for a 7:00 departure.)

Seems like I’m on a treadmill getting no where. So much to do, but not enough energy to do it all.

What do I need to do before the party, what can I do toward Christmas dinner, what do I wear New Years Eve, what do I pack to take with me? And on and on.

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Not perfect!!!

I’m wondering if anyone else finds “Perfect Polly” a very sad advertisement? Does anyone actually think that fake bird resembles (or sounds like) a real bird?

Here’s the website which contains the same information presented in the TV ad: https://www.perfectpollypet.com

Its features are so lifelike, only you will know it’s not real!”

This holiday it seems this ad for a plastic parakeet runs every hour or two. I hate it. Chia Pets and Clappers have been suggested for years as great Christmas gifts, but Polly is worse. The ad implies that it will replace a pet. (“The joy of a pet without the work.”)

Old folks aren’t that desperate.

But wait… You can get TWO Perfect Polly’s for the same price. Why??

You can buy the fake bird for $10. (Why would anyone need to be told that a plastic bird doesn’t require food, cage, and other care items? Of course it doesn’t. It’s FAKE!! It’s a hunk of plastic.)

The TV ad says you get a second one for free. The commercial doesn’t mention that you pay shipping separately on both of them. Going to their website, you will find out that it’ll actually cost you considerably more than $10. (It says, “Order Perfect Polly Pet for just $10 plus $6.99 shipping & handling. Add the SPECIAL OFFER of a second Perfect Polly Pet for a Separate Fee of just $6.99.” Total $23.98.)

Dern DUMB!!

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Different Dress for the Wedding

I need to lose about 25 pounds to look the way I want. Unfortunately that won’t be possible before my grandson’s January 4th wedding.

The dress that I had ordered on November 27th for the wedding came but it was a disappointment. (You can scroll back a couple posts to see it.) Actually I liked it, but John didn’t at all. The sequins were too much, according to him, so I will be shipping it back. (Heck, if my guy doesn’t like it, I sure won’t feel pretty.)

Today I found one on Macy’s website. It’s a jacket dress so has “two looks.” I ordered it in eggplant (one of my favorite colors). Hopefully it will work. At least with Macy’s orders, I can return it to the store in Brandon, if I don’t like it. But time’s getting short. I won’t have it for a week, and that will be pushing it, if it doesn’t work. Yes, I do have a two or three old ones that I could haul out, but I want something new and lovely to celebrate the occasion.

Since I’m sorta short, it’ll be too long (probably calf length), but I don’t mind.

If I would get busy and lose weight, everything would look better on me. I’ve never been this chubby. In 1985, my wedding dress was a size 2 and was about 100 lbs. I usually wore a 4. Until I was about 40, I was definitely “under-weight.” Over the years I settled in to a 6 or 8. Now I’m an often snug 10! Not happy!!! Hopefully this latest purchase will hide my “problem area.”

Here’s the pendant I think I’ll wear on a fine white-gold chain with simple diamond studs. Maybe the necklace won’t look right with it, but I’ll know when I try it on. I hope the two shades of purple/eggplant look nice together. If it doesn’t, I have a diamond heart that was my mothers’, but it’s in a gold setting with a gold chain, and the embellishments on the dress are silver. I’ll wear either black or silver 2″ heel shoes/sandals. (The black are definitely more comfortable so I’ll probably go with them.)

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Things never work as they should

This morning was a “fun in the sun” time. Got to the pool early and enjoyed a Holiday Open House on the pool deck. It started at 10:00 and went until 1:00. Lots of crafters’ tables selling handmade items. There was an area where coffee, hot cider & chocolate, egg nog, and holiday cookies were available. It was well attended. We sat in one of the few shady spots where everyone passed us. I was so busy talking with friends that I forgot I wanted to read.

We left about noon. A delivery of our 72″ TV stand was scheduled for the afternoon. It arrived about 3:00 in an enormous box. The delivery folks left it still boxed but close to the area where we wanted it. Took us quite a while to unwrap our purchase. Unfortunately the tracks that the left two drawers should have glided on had broken free of the side-wall and were loose. We immediately called the company (Wayfair) and they acknowledged a problem.

A customer service person from the company where we purchased the TV stand made us several settlement offers. Our choices: we can either accept their $$$ offer and John can attempt to fix it, or we can get a new replacement stand (and when they deliver the second unit, they’ll remove the broken one), or we can get full credit plus $100 for store credit, or we can get a full refund of our money. We’re still thinking about how we’ll resolve the problem. John thinks he can probably fix it. (None of the visible wood is affected.) We’ll see.

The photo of the whole stand is a stock photo I took off their website. Our TV is actually quite a bit larger but it fits the stand nicely. When centered, it probably is about 6″ from the ends.

The picture at the right shows the interior of the left side of the unit. (The glare is just the flash shining against the inside back.) The two drawer areas have the problem. The light colored wood side boards with the glue line (curvy brown swirls on the light wood) are the pieces that should be holding the tracks but instead are totally disconnected.

If John can fix the TV stand so it looks and acts like it should, I’m all for accepting their offer (which will knock a substantial amount off the cost of the unit). I guess I am too lazy to want to go through having the broken unit hauled away and another one brought in to replaced it. The whole procedure made a real mess with styrofoam and cardboard pieces when it was unpacked. I sure don’t want to do that again if it can be avoided. But John will need to buy appropriate repair materials and it might never work as it should. We’ll have to think it over.


John bought wood glue, sanded down the original piece and re-adhered it. It worked.

We got $250 refund for our trouble. Looks nice! We are pleased with the service we received from Wayfair.

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Wireless internet!

I’ve finally found a way to have internet access so I can more easily browse on line.

Going on line:

For nearly three years I’ve used a Verizon 4G modem which receives the signal like a cellphone would. It clips to my computer and plugs into my USB port to go on line.

But with the laptop connection, I am limited to 5GB (5 gigabytes) for $50 monthly. That data restriction makes my browsing difficult. I can’t look at videos or photos because the bytes add up quickly. When I use up my allotment I incur additional fees. The USB modem serves my laptop. It isn’t a wifi hot spot, but it’s worked ok with my computer.

We also have Verizon family plan cellphones. Since mine is a “smart phone” it can go on line. That smart phone was grandfathered in with unlimited data access. When I see I’m running out of data with the modem, I do have the smart phone to fall back on.

Buying a TV:

During the past year, we’ve been shopping for a new large screen TV. (John can’t see the fine print from his usual seat in our great room, so a bigger set seemed like a good solution.) Last week, we finally decided on a 65″ Samsung smart TV from Sams Club. It was delivered Saturday and after setting it up, we’ve been enjoying the crisp clear images and much better sound. But from the beginning, it became obvious that we need a wifi signal to “feed” the smart TV. We’re missing out on too many features of the television.

Solving both problems:

Moderate speed internet service from Brighthouse, the cable company that provides our TV, costs $50. With Brighthouse internet, I wouldn’t need the USB modem, so I needed to find a way to trade internet access through our Brighthouse cable provider for my Verizon 4G USB modem. The price would be the same and Brighthouse is very accommodating about turning services on and off for snowbirds.

I hoped there was a way to switch services. I was concerned that since Brighthouse isn’t available in Michigan in May, we would need to return to the 4G modem, and I didn’t know how Verizon would handle the stop and start of my wireless USB modem’s service.

I called Verizon and got a very friendly service person who suggested that I “suspend” service to the modem. She said Verizon will let me do it in 90 day increments for up to 180 days in a 12 month period. When we return to Michigan, I can revert to USB modem service. We’ll pay the same for wifi while we’re here as we currently pay for the USB modem which only provides internet to my laptop.

The Brighthouse wifi will feed a wireless signal throughout our condo so we’ll have internet going to the TV and to my laptop. AND Brighthouse doesn’t have data restriction. I can even download movies!!

The installer came and set it up, but he left before I had an incoming signal. I worked for about an hour with Brighthouse tech service and finally got the internet working as a wireless signal. After I had the wireless signal coming in, I contacted Verizon and suspended the USB modem.

I feel like I’ve finally entered the tech world. It’s wonderful.

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Nantucket V scores!

Tonight we went to our HOA association’s Christmas party. It was lovely.

For us, the highlights of the evening were the hor dourvers which were served by a local high school culinary school. The servers looked and acted professionally and the hor dourvers were excellent (Swedish meatballs, small crabcakes, and several other beautifully presented, tasty items). They were all announced and served at our table in a up-scale manner. We could have made a meal of them.

The prime rib was also good, but the hor dourvers and salad rated five stars!

We also enjoyed the company of our neighbors in a way that we rarely get to experience. They’re genuinely nice people.

Wish I could have spent more time with several of the attendees, especially Terre and Norma. I feel a real link to both of them. Isn’t it funny how you meet some folks only occasionally but feel you’re with valued friends. Unfortunately they were on one side of the room, we were on the other. Not enough mingling but both John and I had a very good time!

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Ok, So I’m Different

Unlike most women, I don’t like to shop for clothes. I’m always disappointed by what I find and the whole process discourages me.

I’d much rather buy stuff on line and take my chances on how it fits. (Yes, I ship lots of stuff back and many items I buy on eBay end up being donated to my favorite thrift shops.)

But on January 4th, 2014, my grandson, Kris, is getting married at Hidden Valley in Carmel Valley, CA. I’ll be leaving for California January 2nd. (John won’t be going with me.)

The ceremony will start at 5 o’clock in the afternoon immediately followed by the reception. It’s going to be a rather intimate outdoor wedding with about fifty guests and five bridesmaid/groomsmen couples.

The bride, Lauren, has created a website on weddingwire.com where she states, “The suggested attire is Semi-Dressy Casual. Men: Dress pants, button-up shirt with tie or bow tie. Women: Cocktail or Summer sun dress..”

Without success I’ve been trying to find something to wear to the wedding. I have recently purchased two new dresses – one is a hot pink but it’s probably too youthful for the “grandmother of the groom” (plus it’s a little more snug than I would like it to be) and the other (turquoise and green chiffon) just doesn’t seem classy enough. I have been looking for something dressy that would also work for our big January SnoBall dinner-dance so it needs to be fun and not stoggy. (I rejected several jacket dresses because they looked like something an old lady would wear.) Today I went on line and determinedly searched. I ended up ordering the one below which I hope will work. (I’ll know when it arrives from Overstock.com next week.)

In the photos, it looks black but it’s described as a deep gray. I have silver or black (sandal style) heels with about a 2″ heel and a small silver or black purse. (I’ll decide when I decide what jewelry to wear.) Best part about the dress is that John likes it. If worse comes to worse, I have a burgundy, sleeveless, v-neck chiffon dress that I got a couple years ago, or I have a couple plain black dresses with jackets (but I don’t like to wear black to a wedding). I hoped for something sort of sophisticated. This one is.

And, if I don’t like it or what I have, I’ll still have time to shop.

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We’ve now been here nearly a month

Let’s see.. the highlights this week included: attending lawn bowling lessons, finally having our golf cart batteries replaced (so we can now go places), going to an RV storage club meeting, attending a Michigan Club organizational meeting/dinner with friends, attending our country couples dance lessons, attending a “Sunshine Kids benefit” dance with two tables of friends from our group and today John had his chorus practice and I went to line dance classes. We even found time to go shopping a couple times and enjoy some wonderful home-cooked meals. (And of course on Saturday and Sunday, John took in several football games.)

It has all been fun! And that’s just the past week.

You may notice the absence of much swimming pool time. I don’t know how it happened but I only got to the pool ONCE this past week!! Tomorrow I hope I can spend the day in the sun. We have karaoke tomorrow evening, but I’m hoping that tomorrow morning/afternoon I can get to the pool.

Our week wasn’t all fun. There were also productive/work hours. I spent several hours up-dating the membership list for the Michigan Club as well as their website (http://michclub.com). AND I sold two hammered dulcimers from my http://dulcimers.biz website! And I spent quite a bit of time balancing our budget, paying bills and doing laundry and housework.

Yup, it is paradise! We totally enjoy the view from our great room.. watching the birds and enjoying the sunsets. It’s all so incredible!

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Enjoying everything!

Our three weeks here in Florida have been filled to capacity with dozens of fun activities. John often says that he wishes we didn’t enjoy our time here so much because it makes time fly! I cannot believe that we’re nearly through our first month!

We are settling into a routine. John has his interests: Weekends he finds time to watch his college and NFL football games, but he also has played a little pickleball and goes to chorus. I like line dance classes on Mondays and pool time (especially when John’s watching football). I’ve also had to do a lot of work on my on-line business. Together we enjoy shopping, dance classes and dances, gathering with friends, parties (there have been several), and we’ve attending lawn bowling classes. With lawn bowling, I’m very bad but improving. John, as usual, is good at most athletic endeavors. Hopefully I can continue to make progress. It’s fun, but it is more tiring than I’d guessed.

So Monday mornings you might find us at lawn bowling, afternoons John enjoys chorus and I go to line dance classes. Tuesday evenings we are generally at karaoke, although we missed last night’s because we were at a street party featuring Elvis at our friends’ (the Markland’s) condo. Wednesday more lawn bowling, and a country couples dance class. Thursday we generally have Rockin’ Rendezvous, but tomorrow instead we’ll attend a Michigan Club organizational dinner and another meeting. Friday it’s more lawn bowling. Weekends I try to enjoy pool time and John watches his football games. (We will probably get lawn bowling down to a couple times a week, but it is available five-days-a-week.)

We enjoyed an evening in Bradenton with the Coopers for an art festival, and the Kings Point “follies” last Friday night. There was an Oldies but Goodies dance, a Halloween Party, and a huge community garage sale. Last night it was a neighborhood Elvis street party and potluck.

Unfortunately a week ago, I have been under the weather. Missed a pool party and didn’t perform up to speed on other activities. But today I finally feel I’m back to normal (except my stamina needs to be re-built).

Hope this lawn bowling activity works for me. It doesn’t require balance (which eliminates so many sports for me). I have a long way to go before I can play decently, but I’m trying really hard. John’s a natural. I hope folks understand that I put forth all the energy that’s in me. I have yet to really try a “game.” So far it’s just been practice. We’ll see how it works when I actually play with a “team.”

Today it was cool. Didn’t have time for the pool anyway, but I would really like some sun time.

I have yet to figure out how folks get their housework done. I have laundry and house cleaning that is piling up. Oh, well… Life is good and too short to worry about housework.

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Parties and fun!

We’ve now been down here for 10 fun days! We’ve enjoy the company of wonderful friends, danced and reversed aging. I feel like I’ve lost ten years and I’m aiming for fewer pounds.

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Life definitely is good!

We’ve been getting together with friends and enjoying our first five days in Paradise.

We’re having golf cart problems but it’s nothing that buying new batteries won’t solve. John wants to try all options before he out-lays the $600 dollars but I’m impatient to have reliable transportation. I hate wondering if we can make it round-trip. We can only go about six miles on a charge so we haven’t felt like we can talke the cart to Publix, Walmart or Beall’s. Hopefully I can convince him by Monday.

Our car and truck are running, so we do have transportation, but the truck will be moved to storage this afternoon so it’ll be out of driveway and we’ll have easier access to the garage.

Here we are with a car, truck, bike with a motor, and a golf cart (which admittedly needs new batteries), but we are definitely not limited.

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We’re here!

Woke up this morning in our Florida bed. Even at 7:30, it was hot, very overcast and super steamy, but now (in the middle of the afternoon) my view from the great room window shows beautiful blue skies, few puffy clouds, beautiful palm trees, lovely green grass, and our pretty ponds.

Our condo had accumulated more dirt than I remember in the past, or maybe it just seemed that way.

Funny how you forget things, when you’ve been gone six months. We had problems using the remote on our main TV. Changed the batteries and tried everything but then discovered we were using the wrong remote.

With Halloween right around the corner, I’d like to put out our ceramic pumpkin and little “howling” ghost, but both have disappeared. I have looked everywhere for them. I’m sure I’ll eventually stumble across them. Maybe when I’m looking for our Easter decorations.

I still have a lot of clothes to put away but little by little we’ll get settled. No rush.

Only major problem is with our golf cart. The batteries lost their charge completely and won’t even respond to the charger. Hopefully, using a suggestion from the golf cart store, we can charge the individual batteries but since there are six, it’ll take until tomorrow. Let’s hope we can get it going. I feel like a shut-in without a cart.

Today was a good day to rest, but tomorrow I want to spend time at the pool. The sunshine is really inviting and it’s supposed to be close to 90. (The report is for a cool-down into the low 80’s by Wednesday of this week so I better take advantage of the warmth.)

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Ready to head out

We’re nearly ready to head south. Tomorrow night at this time, we hope to be in Clinton, TN.

Packing is a science. I started a couple weeks ago, but the final stuff won’t go in until tomorrow morning.

The past couple of days, John’s been packing the truck. We sure take a lot. We have instruments (banjo, sax, hammered dulcimer, autoharp, ukulele and marimbula), 25 gallons grape juice to be made into wine, a bike on a back rank, clothes, and lots of miscellaneous stuff.

We definitely resemble picture. Loaded to the max.

I look forward to the 1,300 mile trip. It’s fun to spend two days beside my husband. A great time to chat and enjoy the scenery.

Saturday night we hope to enjoy a lovely dinner and stay in a nice motel. Sunday, provided everything goes according to plan, we’ll pull into our condo at about 7:30.

It’s an adventure! And when we get to Florida, the adventure will continue. What an awesome life!

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Chanukah for 2013 is Thanksgivukkah

This year, the first day — and the second night — of Chanukah falls on November 28, which also happens to be Thanksgiving. This particular coincidence, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for some 77,000 years, and some American Jews are pretty excited.

Our Jewish friends are imagining “mashups” of the two holidays — turkeys with latkes, pilgrims and rabbis, dreidel balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgivukkah Day Parade.

The hybrid holiday — which some folks spell “Thanksgivukkah” offers a chance to celebrate both Jewish and American values.

Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday in November, and the next time American Jews will light Chanukah candles at Thanksgiving will be in 2070, when the first night of the festival begins at sundown on November 27. That overlap hasn’t happened since 1918.

Regardless, because the Jewish lunar calendar is slowly falling out of sync with the solar calendar — with Jewish holidays moving forward through the seasons at a rate of four days every 1,000 years — Chanukah has slowly but surely been moving deeper into winter and away from Thanksgiving.

This year, however, Chanukah begins at sundown on Wednesday, November 27, which means that the entire day of Thanksgiving overlaps with the Jewish holiday. So on Thursday night — sometime during the first quarter of the Steelers-Ravens game, for those on the West Coast — families can fire up their menorahs.

Since we have several Jewish couples among our friends, I’m glad to announce this joint holiday.

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Our Florida Friends..

Today I got a call from Linda, one of our Kings Point Friends. She was checking to find out if we will be with her and her husband (and a dozen or more others) at the North Club New Years Eve party.

Yes, we are definitely planning to attend the party she mentioned so I mailed the check immediately.

She (as a year-round resident) always makes sure that we have our tickets/arrangements so we don’t miss things when we return to our southern haven. She keeps our fall/winter/spring life going. When she realizes there’s party/show/dance that we may not know about, she contacts us, collects the money from us, and buys the tickets.

There are givers and takers as we go through life. Linda is a giver. She makes sure we don’t miss a thing. She looks at the calendar while we’re up north (six months of the year) and makes sure that, if we’re going to be in Florida, we’ll be able to enjoy those activities she knows we love!

Thanks, Linda. You’re one of a kind.

We love you!!

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Short Timer … the countdown continues..

We have a full calendar of events to anticipate:

I’m eager. Here in Michigan from May to October, we live day to day, doing very little socializing. But in a couple weeks we’ll be having fun with friends and we’ll soak up the lifestyle that keeps everyone we know young and smiling.

The first week we arrive we’ll have extra stuff to do (cleaning the condo, unloading and moving back in, grocery shopping, putting the truck in storage, meeting with our financial advisor, etc.)

But we’re anticipating the fun stuff. Getting to the pool is primary for me. It’s where we meet up with our friends. We will arrive at our condo Sunday evening. I know we’ll need to settle in, but hopefully we can get things roughly organized so we can head to the pool for an hour or two Monday morning. On Mondays, we always have a afternoon commitments to John’s chorus and my line dance class.

Tuesday is a free day for the pool. Tuesday evening there’s a karaoke evening in the clubhouse. Karaoke nights are really fun. (We used anticipate Thursday’s Rockin’ Rendezvous over everything that happened all week, but now these Tuesday night activities have surpassed Thursday.)

Wednesday is kind of an open day (with a “Nearly New” sale downtown in the morning). If we haven’t done so before, we’ll need to go shopping to stock the condo.

We have a conflict that first Thursday: a wine and cheese party AND a Rockin’ Rondezvous at the South Club.

Friday p.m. and Saturday a.m. there’s a fun “almost world’s largest” Garage Sale at the main clubhouse, and Friday evening we’re planning to attend an evening concert at the Sun City Center Community Hall. We have tickets for an event which will feature a tribute to Buddy Holly and Fats Domino with performances and hopefully some dancing. Saturday is a “free day” so we can shop, or whatever we need/want to do.

Sunday evening we have a costume party/dance at the main Kings Point Clubhouse presented by one of the clubs we belong to (Baby Boomers).

Sounds like a grand week and that’s just the start of nearly seven months of good living and happy days.

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New Cellphone

Yesterday I spent the day configuring and loading apps into my new-to-me Samsung Droid Charge smartphone. (My previous 2 1/2 year old, identical phone died – i.e. won’t shut off with a battery in place and won’t recharge.) I bought the replacement re-conditioned unit from a distributor through eBay and so far I’m really pleased. It looks (and acts) new. I haven’t found anything that newer cellphone technology offers over the abilities of my Droid. The camera is great, the sound fine, picture crystal clear, the ability of all the apps is basically the same no matter what smartphone is running them.

I dreaded the set-up, thinking it would take forever, but I use Lookout, which is a backup/restore service, so reloading the stuff (including my phone contacts and photos) was easy.

I started about 1:00 and worked for a couple hours then took a shopping/dinner break from about 3:30 until 7:00. I had everything perfectly installed by about 8:00. Not bad. It fact it was fun, and I was disappointed that it didn’t take longer. I enjoy this kind of work.

Not only does my “new” cellphone operate like a new one but also many of the apps I loaded have upgraded features. There were some on my old Droid which I rarely if ever used, so I didn’t bother with them. (They can always be added later.) It’s purring.

I’m happy.

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One of “Those” Weeks

This week has had some bumps.

Three examples:

About a week ago I realized I had lost/mislaid the keychain remote control for our home security system. At first I was sure it would turn up, but it hasn’t. This little control has stayed in the outside zippered pocket on my purse since we installed the system back in June. It’s always been with me. When we leave our home, if I haven’t pressed the “away” button on the keypad in the living room, I can activate the system from the remote with the blue button as we’re pulling out. When we return, I can hit the gray “off” button, or hurry in and put the 4 digit code in the keypad before the alarm goes off. The remote definitely makes it easier.

The end opposite the “keychain” loop has a cap that covers a usb flash drive. That flash port gets plugged into the computer to set up everything and when the settings have been saved, you take it to the base station (the brains of the system) where the remote is plugged in and the information transferred and stored. The base unit has a cellular transmitter which stays in touch with the 24/7 monitor desk.

Since I lost that little unit it didn’t mean that we couldn’t activate the system, nor turn it off. Afterall activating and cancelling are both doable through the wall keypad, but any changes must be done with the flash drive then transferred to the base station with the remote.

We’ll want to review everything and test it out before we leave for Florida. I knew I need to have that keychain remote so we can thoroughly check everything and make sure it’s all in working order.

Also, having lost the remote, I feared that, if the person finding it knew whom it belonged to, they could cancel the security at any time and enter our home without triggering the alarm. After investing in such a sophisticated system, I sure didn’t want to risk someone being able to enter. We’ll soon be leaving for seven months and with a lost remote, it would be like an unknown someone having the keys to our house.

I called to order a replacement and was pleased that I could deactivate the lost remote so no one can use it for access. (If we do locate it, we can re-program it so we’ll each have our own keychain remote.)

The new remote arrived today. It was a snap to program it into the system. And, to be sure I’ll never lose it again, I found a keychain quick release clasp to fasten inside the purse I usually carry. With the remote anchored to the inside of my purse, I can easily locate it, and should never lose it again.

Problem #1 resolved. But it did cause me some anxiety and over $30!!


Problem #2. My three-year-old smartphone has terminal problems. It’s actually still functioning, but it won’t charge and it comes on unexpectedly. Something burned up inside the charging port. I can remove the battery and, using a free-standing charger, I can charge it, but the batteries are old, so they’re being switched out constantly. I had purchased two flash chargers, and they’re useless because they must be plugged into the phone. I also can’t use my docking bay. I can’t do things with my phone that drains the battery fast, because I’m switching out the batteries constantly (no plugging it in).

The phone had been over-heating frequently so I know it’s time for a replacement. With lots of chargers, a docking bay, cases, batteries, etc. I decided that the cheapest way to go would be to get the same model, a Samsung Droid Charge. I have unlimited voice and data so the same model will allow me to continue that plan.

And there’s another reason I want that particular phone: I have an app that allows me to use the phone as a hot-spot. I don’t want to lose that ability. I can connect and the bytes I use don’t count. (Last month I used 13GB in additon to another 4.5GB through my wireless usb modem.)

So yesterday, I bought a rebuilt cellphone with a dealer warranty on eBay for under $67. (According the the description, it’s in “like-new” condition.) I should have it by tomorrow or Saturday. I’m anxious to get it set up. I fear it’ll be a challenge to transfer everything, including my contacts, apps, etc. I use a program called Lookout for back up. It uses “the cloud” and is supposed to store your phone contents so you can install them on a new phone with ease. Never having tried a complete restore before, it’ll be a good test.

I figure that by only spending $67, I can still upgrade, if I decide that’s best. I won’t have that much invested.


Problem #3. Yesterday I didn’t feel well. I’m still half a bubble off. Didn’t do anything all day and today I’m still dragging. Glad we had nothing planned.

So that’s been my week

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Getting Closer!

I'm getting excited. Our October calendar for our time in Florida is filling up. In just the 11 October days after we arrive, we have a whole slew of stuff to do: a pool party, a wine and cheese party, two Halloween parties, garage sales, karaoke evening, chorus practices for John, exercise/line dance classes for me, doctor appointments and a show/dance. We'll also enjoy visits with friends and time relaxing at the (newly renovated) pool. I've been checking out the weather forecast, what I need to pack, and my "to do before we leave" list.

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Credit Card Blues

What a day! Thank heavens I keep on top of our finances because I discovered one of our credit cards (our main card, a Chase Visa) had been “compromised.” There were two charges I knew we hadn’t made: a $513.80 charge for Virgin Airlines and the other was Coconut Grove Sports Bar in Sacramento, CA, for $1,025!!
Having a credit card compromised had also happened to us a couple years ago. That time it was John’s card. We assumed the stealing of the information on his card occurred at a restaurant or other place where his card was “out of our sight” because his card has never been used “on line.” That time Chase Visa caught the problem before we were aware. Since his card is only used for gas, groceries and restaurant purchases, we would have been ok with our “reoccuring charges” (which are on my card), but unfortunately the customer service guy accidentally deleted my card as well as John’s so I had to go through the chore of setting up all of our accounts for on-going payments.

Wisely I had kept a list of the businesses I needed to contact: Tampa Electric, Brighthouse (our TV supplier in Florida), Cloverland Electric (in the U.P.), the Saginaw News, Wall Street Journal, Tampa Tribune, Verizon, Bluehost (my internet hosting company), Paypal and more… lots more. Some would be easy with on-line revisions, but others world require phone calls. I knew I had a huge job ahead of me. The replacement Chase Visa card is scheduled to arrive Monday, but that still meant several days when scheduled payments might come in and I was anxious to get started and hated to waste time.

After considering different options, I decided that it would be best if I could put all of our automatic (reoccurring) charges on a card of their own, used only for that purpose. It would be a card that wouldn’t be carried with us nor used for any other type of transactions. If I “took out” a new card, I wouldn’t have it for a week or two. And then I remembered a Chase Freedom card that we had received but hadn’t activated. It was ready with a quick phone call so I could begin my tedious chore.

I worked for hours setting everything up. I used phone calls and the internet and finished after 4:00 (more than six hours of steady work). The actual plastic card was filed away and marked so we won’t use it for purchases.

If one of our cards is hijacked again, hopefully I won’t have to go through the hassle of setting up and changing dozens of accounts as I did today.

Interesting thing: Neither fraudulent charge (for $1,025 and $513.80) was “swiped.” The larger one was a “sports bar.” Maybe it was an employee. How else would a non-swiped card for that much be accepted?

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Nearly 27 years ago, we had our Michigan home built for us. One feature we stressed when were were designing the house was sufficient storage. We wanted lots of places to put things. Over the years, being pack rats, we managed to fill up every nook and cranny and a huge basement. Now we’re faced with unbelievable quantities of old stuff that we certainly don’t need. I’m wondering, why did we save everything?

I’ve started going through stuff we have stored upstairs, especially in an under-the-eaves closet. I’ve found many things we didn’t need to save. (Examples: There was a $24 receipt for some unnamed item from a furniture store back in the 1960’s! I’ve moved six times since then. We have checks and check books for accounts that have been closed since the 1980’s.)

Was there anything of value? A few items. I found lots of brand new duplicates of music books, a couple of lamp dimmers that I forgotten about, and many photo “slides” from my active photography days.

What do you do with old dial telephones, video equipment that is totally out of date, cassette tapes and early hand-held video games?

What do I save? Is there any reason to keep anything?

John wanted to participate in a neighborhood garage sale today but the stuff we need to get rid of isn’t stuff that would sell in a huge subdivision sale. Folks who come to this “largest in Saginaw County garage sale” have to park 1/2 mile away. They need to be able to carry what they buy and most of our items, especially stuff stored in our basement, are way too large to be carried down the road through traffic. As an example we have a huge fish tank and many folding chairs. We don’t have many small items. I’d rather donate my stuff to a resale charity than have my neighbors to peruse my stuff.

I know we need to have a sale, but I’d prefer to do one of our own. We could advertise a list of the stuff. Folks who are looking for a fish tank or a snow blower would come to buy it and be prepared to haul it away. Folks who want to buy an acoustic-electric bass would be ready to spend the $$$s. We wouldn’t be competing with 40 other houses for shoppers.

We’ll see. Probably holding such a sale won’t happen until next spring, but by purging the upstairs, we’ll be in better position to get rid of what we don’t need. And in the meantime, I’ve started listing a few things for sale on Craig’s list.

Next time I go through life, I’m going to restrict my storage areas so I don’t save so much.


Note: As it turned out, John was really glad we didn’t participate in the garage sale. He talked with a neighbor who said that, despite having an enormous quantity of stuff and working all day, he only made $50. From the beginning it was obvious that the crowd was down, but also it RAINED hard several times during the day so items were ruined and many of the sales closed down before noon. We’d have done a lot of work with little to show for it.

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Halloween Costume

John and I have tickets to the Baby Boomers Halloween Costume Party on October 27th. Since we will be arriving the Sunday before, we won’t have a lot of time.

Last year I went as a doctor in scrubs with a stethoscope, John had on a nerdy green checked pants and vest, a painted on mustache and a derby. My old scrubs weren’t all that comfortable (the pants were extra small so very fitted) but it was ok for an evening.

Everyone will be in costume, but John wasn’t anxious to dress-up. I knew that if I could find the right one, he’d go along with it, so I’ve been shopping for costumes for us. I found a cute peanut butter and jelly couples’ costume but it was kind of pricy and John felt it would be uncomfortable for a whole evening. So that ruled that one out.

Today I stumbled across something that will work. I won’t give away the secret, but we’ll definitely be identified as a “couple.” Each of us will be comfortable enough. Mine is sorta cute with a hat. John’s includes a can opener. John’s will be an “assembled” costume. Part of it is coming from China. The total price of his will come to about $10-15 and mine will be a little over $20. Not bad.

Now I don’t have to worry about it.


My costume came came and it’s too tight. Cute but my stomach is too big. I either need to lose some major weight about (20 pounds) or find a way to alter it. I’ll think about it for a few days. I am sure I can figure something out but it’s going to mean more work than I’d planned.

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Last “Legal” Day

According to a majority of women my age who live in Michigan, Labor Day is the final day of summer… the last opportunity to “legally” wear white. Of course, it’s different in Florida. The year in Florida is seasonless, but here Labor Day signals the end of summer.

In the mid-west, white is acceptable above the waist but not as slacks, skirts, dresses, nor shoes. The no-white rule runs from Labor Day until Memorial Day.

After tomorrow, I’ll should put away the summer stuff but I will probably continue to wear what I want. I’ll get “the look” from other women when I violate the sacred rule which we are expected to follow. Ladies will comment as if they need to “educate me,” but when I say we have a place in Florida, it’s like I’m a foreigner so they nod knowingly, shrug, and don’t say anything further.

Undoubtedly summer will soon be over. It’s been hot – last week several high 80’s. But during September the temperatures will plummet. It happens fast. Even next week, I predict there’ll be a nip in the air at least part of the time.

But you can bet I’ll wear white when I want, as I wave good-bye to the summer 2013!

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My Facebook “friends”

Who are my “friends”…? (I’m referring to those I consider Facebook “friends.”)

I went through the 140 folks I have listed as “friends.” (Yes, I have turned down many requests to be “friended” because I figure if you’re a “friend,” I should at least know who you are and recognize you.)

Among my friends, there are our “music friends.” This is the largest segment of my friends’ list. Most of those come to us through our involvement with the Evart and Midland dulcimer festivals and our Saginaw dulcimer club. They are genuine folks who we include in our close circle. We know and recognize these folks and the typical greeting would be a huge hug. They are friends in every way. I want to know about their families and care deeply. We enjoy them totally. Some are banjo players John knows through the Flint Banjo Club. I’m so glad our involvement with music brought all of us together.

Next, there are a few “family members” who are also “friends.” Actually this is a very small group. I come from a huge family, as does John, but few are interested in the internet. My daughter is my #1 friend in this group. And I hope I will be able to follow the January wedding of my new granddaughter-in-law to my grandson. (She is on FB a lot posting the details as they develop.) I also watch my cousin who is a cross-country coach in a Saginaw Township school and admire his support of his students. I’m proud to be associated with this small but important segment of our “friends.”

And there is a huge group of our “Florida friends.” These are folks we interact with in Florida (and in Michigan whenever possible). These folks live about six months a year in our Florida Kings Point community and most, like us, head back to Michigan for the summer. They enjoy the very active social life of our southern community. They are individuals from many walks of life that fate brought together in our retirement location. We are all inclusive and non-judgmental. We’re all at the same stage of life. What a wonderful bunch!! These are folks who I am so glad we know. They enrich our lives completely but most we have only known for three or four years. Doesn’t seem possible that we could draw close so fast. I’d do anything for this bunch.

So that’s almost my complete list of facebook “friends.” What a wonderful assortment.

We love them all!

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Our Departure Plans have Changed

We had planned to leave for Florida on October 5th and arrive the 6th, but we have decided to delay our departure for two weeks. (John has lots of unfinished jobs.)

I’ve made a change to our motel room and doctor appointments. I also changed the start-up of our HD TV subscription and our Florida newspaper. Until we started moving between residences, I had no idea how many items need to be changed when you move every six months. Right now I’m trying to contact our magazine subscriptions. We have four print magazines that need to have our travel plans.

I am sorry that we’ll miss an Oldies but Goodies dance, but there’ll be other dances. At least we’ll be back for the Michigan Club kick-off event, the Wine and Cheese Welcome Reception.

We’re both looking for fun stuff to do here in Michigan until we leave. Sadly all that we’ve found is a once monthly dance at the Moose Club and a senior bingo and potluck. There may be a dance at a closeby establishment. We’ll make the best of it.

I can complain, but in the end, it’s John’s life too. If John is happier with us making this adjustment to our travel plans, our life will be more enjoyable for both of us. I may not enjoy Michigan as much as he does, but the balance reverses when we’re in Florida.

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Finding Lowest Prices on the Price Tag

Some stores have secret ways of telling you whether you’re getting their lowest price. Check the last number of the tag price tag to know whether or not it the item will come down in price.

At most stores (especially Target) regular prices end in “9.” If the price ends in “8,” it may get marked down again. If it ends in “4,” that’s the lowest it’ll get.

For Sam’s Club’s below cost prices are end in “1.” A “C” on the price label means it’s on clearance.

At Costco, an asterisk (*) means the item won’t be reordered but it still might go down in price so wait until the item goes on clearance, which is when the prices end in “97.”

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Bags of money

Several times, when I was a young child (maybe seven or eight years old), my grandmother took me to visit her very close friend, Ersel, a very wealthy lady, who lived in a to-die-for apartment on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. This place, with it’s sparkling mirrors, luxurious furnishings, white grand piano, plush carpets, and wonderful view of the Detroit River would be awe-inspiring, even by the highest of today’s standards.

Life at Ersel’s was more opulent than anything I’d ever experienced. She had hired “help” (a sweet maid named “Vassey”) and a chauffeur. We went to “The Yacht Club” for dinner (where I was served a grown-up looking drink, a “Shirley Temple.”)

moneybagsAs a child, I knew they were “rich.” It was an over-the-top lifestyle accented by fur coats, big cars, flashy jewelry and even Ersel’s first-person recounts of her frequent cruises to Europe.

But as a youngster, the thing which impressed me most was a large dish of change on Ersel’s husband’s dresser. A dish of MONEY! People so rich that they had money sitting around in bowls. I was hard to believe but there it was!

As an adult, I grew to understand that this was just a convenient way for the man of the house to empty his pockets of change but as a child it seemed to mean something much more.

About thirty years ago, I started the same practice. Every time I’d pick up loose change that had slipped down between the cushions of the couch, or from the bottom of my purse, I’d put it in a bowl. Over the years, the bowl filled. In fact, I had to start a couple additional containers as the first over-flowed. Sometimes my contributions over months were meager but pennies or change went in the jar.

This week I decided to cash it in. I found that First Merit Bank will “count it” for us so I dumped the change into a cloth bag (it was heavy!) and took it to the bank.

Most of the change was pennies. John spotted a few coins that looked foreign. The teller laughed when she realized what they were. Somehow five or six Chucky Cheese tokens had made their way into the collection.

I don’t know yet how much change we had. But the bag weighed about 18 pounds! In our case, it sure wasn’t a sign of great wealth. Just a convenience accented with Chucky Cheese tokens.


Note: Our 18 pound bag of change contained $42.87. (Certainly not a fortune.)

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South? North?

I’m looking forward to our return to Florida and it can’t come soon enough.

John is wishing we could stay in Michigan longer. He says he’s not ready.

There is no solution. We can’t both be totally happy. I’m sure, once we get to Florida, John will enjoy himself. It’s leaving Michigan with incomplete jobs that is bothering him, but if we stayed longer, we both know he’d just start more jobs.

Right now he still wants to wrap up building the beach fortification. He still needs to finish planting a row of shrubs and using rocks to accent it. There are two dead trees he hopes to bring down. He’ll need to pick grapes (when they’re ripe in about a month). And on September 7th, he wants to participate in a neighborhood garage sale.

Of course there are some winterizing jobs, like making sure nothing freezes in our RV unit. There will be leaves to rake and get rid of. And, before we can leave, there’ll be lots of packing.

If we put our mind to it, we’d have no trouble being ready by October 19th when we’ve planned to head south. If we’re being honest he knows there’s no point in delaying the date. If we move it a couple weeks later, he’d be talking the same way. We have several doctor appointments for the week after we return, and lots to do when we’re there. And in fact, I need to make another doctor’s appointment.

I’m eager.

He’s dragging his feat.

(Note: After we changed our date, I had to change the departure date from Michigan.)

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January Plans

My grandson is getting married January 4th. We’ll be in Florida starting in October. Although I hate the thought of leaving our Florida “Paradise,” I do want to do grandma stuff, and it’ll be wonderful spending time with Kelly. So I’m trying to work out flights, car reservation, etc.

I have a feeling Kelly’s house will be crowded to the max. I’m thinking that I’ll get a motel room at least part of the time to lessen the stress on her. She’s such a good daughter! I’ll certainly be flexible in every aspect. I want to make it as easy on her as possible.

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Keeping our word…

About a month and a half ago we met a lovely couple, Sim Clark and his girlfriend Eleanor. They’re quite a bit older than us, but we enjoyed their company. We spent several evenings with them at the Moose. They like to dance almost as much as we do. They’re a sweet couple.

Sim is celebrating his birthday tomorrow, his 90th!! We have a hard time keeping up with them. They’ll get out on the floor and dance by the hour. (Unlike them, we sit out every other dance or two.)

We have had other possible events for tomorrow, but we told Sim we’d be at his party so we will. We keep our word.

Besides it sounds like he has a fun time planned.


Couldn’t believe the size of his party. Had to be 200-250 folks in attendance! Good food, good music. Nice time!

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Busy Day

Today we bought TEN pyramidal arborvitae to plant around the area where we store our 28′ RV unit. We figured that if they are planted around the “pad,” it’ll camouflage the RV.

Planting them will be more work than he anticipated. The instructions said to dig a hole three times the width of the root-ball. John’s being more conservative, but even digging a hole the size of the ten root balls is a lot of work.

He started.

I suggested that he plant one per day because it’s exhausting work. Knowing him, it’ll be done in a lot less time but he sure doesn’t need to rush.

After several hours of work, I convinced him to quit. He was pooped!

This evening we went to the Moose where we ate and dancing. Yup, after all that work I dragged him to a dance to the music of Dixie Highway Band.

Pacing yourself when you’re our age is important. The day nearly sapped John but he saved enough of his energy for the evening so we ended our day with a fun bit of dancing.

Love that man!!

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I’m happy to be home

Seems that I’m always wishing I was at our home in Florida, but it took being at our place in the Upper Peninsula to realize how much I love our Lake Cecil (Thomas Township) home. It’s nice. I need to do a lot of work to bring it up to snuff, but we have two months and maybe I can accomplish some of my chores list before we head back to our Kings Point home.

It’s truly comfortable here in Thomas Township!

We’re more isolated than in Florida, but we have some social activities on our calendar. For example tomorrow night we’re going dancing at the Moose Club. Saturday we have a birthday party for a 90-yr-old friend complete with a lovely dinner (and dancing). Monday we have a family gathering with John’s siblings. A hair cut appointment is a week from today, and a big family reunion in a week and a half. So, with a few things to look forward to, I don’t mind at all that we have two more months here in Michigan.

John’s busy finishing up chores he feels necessary before we leave. He has about 10 pyramid arborvitae to plant, stuff to clean out of the basement, purging the upstairs, and maybe participation in a neighborhood garage sale after Labor Day. That’ll take us until the first part of September. During that month we have dental and doctor appointments and preparation to head south.

Time’s flying but life is good and I’m going to quit wishing it away. I’ll savor my time here, just as I love our time in Florida.

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And Then It’s Winter…..

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change…Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t of my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, what ever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

(I did not write this. I copied this from a friend’s Facebook post, but I’m sure she read it elsewhere. It’s worth sharing.)

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A hum-dinger!

We’ve been watching the hummingbirds devour the sweetness we’ve supplied in our bird feeder. The “hum” of their wings is almost constantly heard even from inside our trailer here in the U.P.

These small birds are very territorial so generally only one feeds from the feeder at a time – occasionally two. But there are sometimes as many as four fighting for “air space” around the area. Most of them are the Ruby-throated variety.

We’ll refill the feeder before we leave tomorrow. They’ve consumed about a cup of the liquid since Tuesday (today’s Sunday). After reading a bit on line, I understand they will start migrating south anytime within the next month so they’ll need lots of fuel. The males sometimes leave as early as mid-July.

Most of them must retreat back “home” to Central America in the winter. A few Ruby-throated remain along the Gulf coast each winter instead of continuing to Central America, perhaps because they are too old or sick to make another trans-Gulf flight or too young (from very late nests) to have had time to grow fat and strong enough to migrate; their survival chances depend on the severity of each particular winter, and many perish in unusually cold years.

Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds winter between southern Mexico and northern Panama. Since hummingbirds lead solitary lives and neither live nor migrate in flocks, an individual bird may spend the winter anywhere in this range where the habitat is favorable, but probably returns to the same location each winter.

Maybe they’ll visit us in Florida.

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Our place in the U.P.

Tuesday we took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to our place on Lake Michigan. It’s about 90 miles west of the Big Mac Bridge, south of Thompson off Highway 2 down the east side of the Garden Peninsula.

I’ve explained in previous posts that this place isn’t anything fancy. It’s an old 1960’s 12 x 50 foot trailer on a foundation with a newer roof over it and a large covered deck with a lovely view of Lake Michigan. (This is the beautiful view from our deck. It is truly a spectacular sight.)

It’s tranquil and quiet, but it does have it’s shortcomings:

  • It smells musty! The old furniture, which came with the trailer when we bought it about 20 years ago is mismatched and harbors old odors of a closed-up place. It always looks messy and not very clean.
  • It seems there are always pesky insects. Mosquitoes are a bother most of the time, and some seasons we have to avoid big wood ticks that latch onto you whenever you venture out. Spring is black fly season and in late summer we fight swarms of biting beach flies. (Thank heavens this trip we’ve just had mosquitoes.)
  • There’s no access to the lake. Over the years, because of the drop in the level of Lake Michigan, the beautiful white sand beach we purchased has turned into a weedy, mucky, no-man zone. You can’t walk across it without sinking to your knees in ooze. When we first got here Wednesday, John tried to get to the water’s edge but lost the battle. If we were here more, build a long deck or some other way of getting over the muck, but since we’re only staying for six days, it’s not worth the effort. Winter storms would erase anything we would do by next year when we return. Our hope is that by the summer of 2014, a grant which has been secured to spray the lakeshore, will eliminate some of the weeds.
  • We are totally isolated. No TV and little internet. We brought a small TV with us this time, as well as a digital converter, and an antenna. We hoped that we could watch some of our favorite TV shows. The first night we were successful for a couple of hours, but since then, not at all. Internet access is spotty. I find it nearly impossible to use my cellphone as a hot spot. I had hoped we could view some of the on-line “programming” or videos but the connection just isn’t strong enough to download anything.
  • But even saying all that, I’m glad we came up.

    Temperatures have been about 70 most of the time and even warmer some days, but certainly not hot.

    I’ve loved watching hummingbirds at our bird feeder. Their antics are amusing. I’ve had time to read a book and relax.

    So even with all the negatives, I’m glad we came up here. John works hard but seems to enjoy it, and we’ve had lots of time together without distractions.

    And the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is lovely. The drive through untouched areas is beautiful. The scenery unmatched.

    But when we head back home Monday, we will both be more than ready! If only packing wasn’t so much work. I don’t look forward to hauling everything out to the truck and trying to fit everything in. We’ll start packing Sunday. Monday John will winterize the water system and we’ll try to pull out by about 9:30 a.m.

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    Aunt Hazel’s Memorial Service

    Yesterday we attended an unusual memorial service for my 102 yr. old aunt. Most of the tribute was lovely but then her elderly pastor took the mic. What can I say? He rambled for well over an hour. I recognized dementia symptoms. His talk had nothing to do with my aunt. It was painful! He repeated and made no sense. Ended with about a 15 minute prayer which wouldn’t end. The crowded chapel got restless. Folks started murmuring “when is this ever going to end?” An elderly guest finally had to leave. We were forced to vacate our seats until she could get out but we came sat back down after she’d left. It was horrid. The only topic after the services finally ended didn’t include my lovely deceased aunt. Everyone talked about the pastor’s behavior. How sad!!

    Dementia is cruel in so many subtle ways. Too bad about 100 of my aunt’s friends and relatives had their final tribute to my aunt interrupted by a pastor who should have been stopped 10 minutes into his rambling sermon.

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    Another Dog??

    We’ve been thinking about getting another pet. After our visit with Shelly and Richard, we began considering a kitty, but we’ve had a tempting opportunity this week to acquire one of two adult female papillions. They were listed on Craigs list so I wrote to the owner.

    Evie, one of two little dogs that the owner was trying to place, is shown at the right. She is beautiful and it might have been a wonderful opportunity, but we have talked it over and decided that a dog would really change our care-free life. We are able to travel, to stay with friends, to stay at any motel, and life is easy. It would be complicate our comfortable situation, and we’re not sure it’s best for us.

    Ahhh but it sure was tempting.

    Since these are mature dogs, they might have some old habits that will be hard to break. During our married life, we had two sweet paper-trained dogs (Gizmo and Willow), but the new dog would expect to be walked. We have never had to walk a dog. Neither of us is anxious to have to take on that chore.

    Actually there were two females. The owner felt Joy would fit us best. We both preferred the looks of Evie because she reminded us more of Willow. (Joy had a darker face without the white accent from the forehead down and around the muzzle.) But we never met them face to face so, until we had really been around them, we couldn’t know for sure which was the best.

    After a long chat with the owner, we decided that we aren’t ready to make the commitment. Maybe we’ll kick ourselves, but for now, we decided we’re not going to accept the opportunity.

    Before the dog would have been placed with us, the owner would have had to come to our house and check it out but a home-check didn’t bother us and I’m sure we would have passed no matter what the criteria was.

    We’ll never know and just hope that we made the right decision.

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    Stopping the Bad Guys at the Door

    About a month ago, we purchased a Simplisafe home security system for our Michigan home.

    We shopped carefully and checked out all the available systems. We were impressed that this one provides 24/7 professional alarm monitoring without a contract, no installation cost, and no phone line needed (uses cell phone service to connect to the monitoring desk). Our house is safer and, in the event of a break-in, the police would be summoned immediately.

    We’ve had Simplisafe since the middle of June, and except for a few mistakes WE’VE made, it has worked flawlessly.

    John has set it off twice when he forgot to turn it off and went out the door triggering the alarm. Both of those alarms occurred when I was still in bed and believe me, it’s a rude awakening. And I accidentally hit the “panic” button which was installed right over our bed. (My pillow bumped it but it’s since been moved). In those instances, were able to enter our “code” and the police weren’t summoned but if it had been a real problem, we’d have been protected.

    I am a true believer in the system.

    We bought a set-up which includes motion sensors, door sensors, high volume exterior alarm, temperature and water sensors. [Note: The temperature sensor is a valuable feature in Michigan to avoid frozen pipes (in the event of furnace malfunction) and the water sensor will tell us if there’s a plumbing problem or a failure of our sump pump to keep water out of our basement.] The purchase price for everything was under $400. Our monthly monitoring is under $15. Which is certainly worth it and it has lowered our home owners’ insurance about $10 a month!

    If you are curious about the Simplisafe system, feel free to contact me. If you let me know you’re interested I’ll send you a 5% discount coupon and if you buy, I’ll get a free month’s service.

    Oh, and I haven’t mentioned how helpful the service desk is. Really a first class U.S.-based operation!!!

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    Home again, Home again

    Yup, we spent 11 days at the Osceola County Fairgrounds planning and working on the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest (the largest hammered dulcimer festival in the world.) Most of the week it was so hot that we were miserable (well over 95), but at the same time it was fun to be there.

    Thank goodness yesterday a cold front came through. It was 46 overnight and today it was only 80 for a high.

    Thank heavens!!

    Packing to head home is always difficult but if it had been hot, we’d have had a worse time. As it was, John started at 7:00 a.m. and we left about 3:30 for home in high 70’s low 80’s temps. It’s a huge job to squeeze everything back into our 28′ fifth wheel. But all in all the festival was great. The board of our club is awesome! We have a wonderful blend of friendly, knowledgeable folks and competent organization.

    When we got home we were so tired that we only brought in the stuff we needed for tonight. No dinner. Just vegging. We’re so tired!

    Sure feels good to be home.

    Two months and we’ll be heading back to Florida. I’ll be ready!

    Until then, we can relax and catch up on sleep and energy. The festival always saps both.

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    At the festival

    We’re at the ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club)’s Funfest held at the Osceola 4-H Fairgrounds. This event is always the highlight of our year.

    This year it’s felt slightly different. I think part of the difference is that I’m honestly trying to be “less involved.”

    Because I was the only person who has worked under four different ODPC presidents (Wes Linenkugel, Don Fitzpatrick, Gail Schwandt and now Kathy Rayman), I would offer my unsolicited opinions too often, but I’m realizing the new leaders have everything under control and their methods may well be better than the way things have been done previously. I’m now treated as sort of a “respected relic.”

    It’s hard to “step back” when you see that you aren’t as vital to the success of the event as you once were.

    That doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t important. I’m still the webmaster, the workshop chairman, and I host the workshop leader rest area, but none of my ideas nor opinions are fresh and vital. I recognize that the new leaders will bring new life to this event and I’m glad to be included even on the fringes.

    So I’m trying to adjust to my new role. It’s not easy.

    I have said that after the 2015 festival, when I’ll have been workshop chairman for 20 years, I’ll step down. I haven’t found a replacement yet, but next year I’d like to start working with whoever will follow me as workshop chairman. That will be an even harder adjustment.

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    A change of attitude

    For more than 22 years (since July 1991), John and I have attended the huge hammered dulcimer festival, aka ODPC Funfest, at the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart, MI. Most of those years, we’ve hauled a trailer and now a fifth wheel RV unit to the fairgrounds and stayed for several days.

    Since 1996, I’ve been in charge of workshops (18 years). Our involvement has required that we bring lots of “stuff” to the festival. Over the years, we have added a 20 x 20′ canopy and increased the size of our RV (now a 28′ fifth wheel with a slide) so we’re not as crowded as we were when we first started out.

    I used to wear long dresses and big hats, and would bring dozens, but I’m much more casual now (shorts and tank tops). And I’m trying to reduce what we take. Example: we used to bring about two dozen chairs for the use of those who wanted to take a seat under the canopy now we’ll have about a half dozen.

    I still bring a complete office set-up (computer, printer, copy machine, router, wi-fi source, and external hard drive). We always bring too much food. We have found that Fosters Market, adjacent to the fairgrounds, has anything we’ve forgotten and at a fair price.

    The workshop programs always create a heavy load, but we’ve cut back on those too.

    I can remember being itchy to get to the fairgrounds first. This year we will head to the festival Wednesday a.m., eight days before it starts on Thursday, the 18th, but a day later than last year.

    Most everything is packed. Wish I could load in even more so we could take off easily tomorrow without stowing last minute stuff.

    But this year I feel much more laid back. Sure, I’m anxious to get there and I’ll love seeing the folks and enjoying the music, but the urgency has lessened. I feel our attitude about the festival has matured and we’re now more relaxed.

    Yes, we could have headed out today, but it’s raining right now, and the idea of getting there in the rain and trying to set up when it’s soggy, didn’t sound appealing. It may rain tomorrow morning, but if not, we’ll hope to pull out so we can arrive before noon.

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    What a Weekend!!!

    What a great weekend! Stephen & Caroline Cooper and Richard & Shelly Brooks opened their lovely lakeside homes on Cedar Island Lake for our close friends from Kings Point, Sun City Center, Florida (aka “the group”).

    We had enjoyed the generousity of their 4th of July parties in 2011 and 2012. On the previous two occasions we stayed at Coopers’, but this time we slept at the Brooks’ (although our days were divided between the two houses located a short distance apart).

    We arrived for lunch July 4th at the Coopers. The afternoon was spent visiting and on a pontoon ride. At 6:00 we headed back over to the Brooks where enjoyed a huge dinner. Afterward we watched the fireworks offered by the around-the-lake residents. They were wonderful! Back to the Coopers we had munchies, drinks, a bonfire, and sent Japanese lanterns skyward.

    Yesterday (Friday, the 5th), we feasted on a huge brunch and some of the group headed home. During the day, the remaining ladies played Rummikub and went shopping. Evening was another huge dinner (bar-be-que). We were joined by several of their neighbors. A nice group!

    Last night we wound down with a lengthy conversation with our hosts, Richard and Shelly. Everyone else had departed by then so we had an opportunity to get better acquainted with them. It was late when we headed to bed.

    We were up fairly early this morning and headed home.

    Now we need to pack and get ready for the ODPC Funfest. We want to be at the Evart Fairgrounds by Wednesday at the latest.

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    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 – Justin.tv – 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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    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, dulcimers.com, 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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