Archive for2012-05 to 2012-10 – Early Spring all Summer

Last post to 2012 Early Spring – All Summer (category)

Tomorrow we’ll be pulling out as soon as we possibly can. I’d like to be up about 6:00 a.m. and on the road by 7:30, but I’ll be happy if we get away by 8:30.

Our house will be safe without us. (A security system adds to our feeling that no would be able to break into our place without getting caught.) Besides we’re taking everything of value with us. There’d be slim pickin’s if anyone thought they could get much out of this place.

We ended up crowding stuff in so tightly that we had room left over.

After tonight, the category of my posts to Sharon’s Blog will be grouped under “2012 to 2013 – Fall and Winter in Fun Florida.”

Hope you’ll follow our escapades in our lovely southern community.

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Will everything fit as we prepare to head south Wednesday? We’re still cramming. The back seat of the truck is a real challenge. We’ll somehow need to fit in two gym bags (for our overnight stay while in route), a hammered dulcimer, saxophone, banjo, autoharp, huge marimbula, Charlie our bird in his crate, camera bag, computer bags x 2, snack food, file box, etc.

The bed of the truck is nearly full. John has yet to pack his clothing bin, wine/juice in covered pails, some food, and some small items which hopefully will fit in. His bike will go on the “back porch” (which is a deck that goes into the trailer hitch).

Will everything fit?

Stay tuned.


It will work!! Still a few things to slip in the cracks, but we’ll be able to fit everything in. I’m still cleaning house and wrapping up all the chores here. We leave tomorrow!!!!

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Saying Good-Bye

We’re packing in earnest this weekend. That way, when everything’s stowed in our truck, I can easily go through and polish and dust so we’ll leave our house clean. True, it’ll get dusty the winter, but hopefully it’ll feel cleaner when we return than if I didn’t put forth this effort. The windows won’t be done (and they need it), but it would be wasted effort, since the winter grime would cover up any efforts I’d make now.

Today’s Saturday. We’re down to single digits on our countdown to our departure on Wednesday a.m. We could actually take off earlier, but there’s no rush, and this way, we will be totally ready to pull out. John can even spend time making wine and picking fruit to take with us.

The next few days here are supposed to be lovely (high 60’s.) In fact Monday through Wednesday it’ll probably reach the low 70’s, but toward the end of next week, Michigan will be hit with a brutal cold spell that will include frost.

Florida’s weather is predicted to be cooler than it has been with lots of rain. That’s unfortunate, since I am anticipating lots of pool time. Oh, well, we’ll make the best of it and get our flu shots, sign up for our new gate pass, stock our refrigerator, clean the condo, and enjoy some social time.

Tonight here in Saginaw, we’ll go to a dinner at the Moose Club. We attended a similar event last year and it was very nice. We skipped the Original Dulcimer Players Club’s annual meeting today in Evart, MI, but it wasn’t necessary that I attend, and the travel expense and our commitments here were more important.

We are anticipating Florida fun.

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New “Header” Photo

I figured it was time for a change. I’ve inserted a new photo in the “header” position (at the top of this page).

The small photo directly above is a reduced-size version of the one I used for several years for Sharon’s Blog. It was taken at one of our favorite outdoor restaurants, Little Harbor Marina on Tampa Bay. The picture was out of date. The pier had been replaced several years ago so it no longer resembles the photo.

The newer picture which is now in the “header” is one that I took out the back of our condo. You can see why I want to enlarge the window so this view is visible to me when I’m seated in our great room. The sunsets from our condo are often fantastic. This one was sensational! It was taken October 16th, 2011. The summer and fall seasons seem to produce more colorful sunsets. (I want to get back before the season changes to the winter sky, which isn’t as dramatic.)

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Answering a “Why do you like Florida?” Inquiry

Here’s a (slightly revised) message I sent to a friend who wanted to know about Florida (she’s considering moving south). She only knew we love our Florida life and wanted to be filled in. You might be interested is my explanation to her. She asked about costs, pros and cons, and general information.

Here’s how I explained things to her:

Actually I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Florida in general. We moved to the community where we live because it was where my mom and dad had retired. I had to care for her so we went there. It ended up being an excellent choice for us, but I’m sure other folks would prefer other areas.

We have a place in Kings Point, a gated community, within Sun City Center. It’s about 30 miles east and south from Tampa. Ours is a very social environment. We love the activities which are centered around two large club houses, four outdoor pools, three indoor pools, tennis and pickleball courts, classes of every type, clubs of every ilk. We personally love dancing and belong to a ballroom dance club, a baby boomers club, a country couples club, line dance, and an Oldies but Goodies club. We also belong to the Michigan Club, a writers club, John’s in the chorus and we are part of several other organizations.

We pay a monthly home owners fee (about $400 a month) over and above our household expenses which goes to our owners association. The activities and facilities within Kings Point are supported by the HOA fees. The fee also covers cable TV, our “exterior” insurance, our lawn care, water bill, and maintenance on the exterior of the unit. It’s worth it. We have exercise rooms, safety, educational choices and fun.

With the exception of the Oldies but Goodies club and an occasional dance outside the gate, all the activities we are involved with are in Kings Point.

Why do we like the gated community? We can easily be snowbirds and spend six months in Michigan without worrying about our place in Florida. It is maintained without us being there. The city outside the gate (Sun City Center), is well kept, but the homeowners are responsible for their own lawn care, roofs, painting, etc. Often they pay a lot for services that are done for us.

Our residence is a condo which we purchased in 2008. It’s about 1,500 sq ft with a huge lanai (screened porch). We’re located on a golf course with a view of two lovely ponds. We’re within walking distance to one of the two club clubhouses with a large heated pool.

The landscaping is very nice. It’s a place you can be proud of. Kings Point has about 8,500 residents. Sun City Center has about 10,000.

The primary negative is the heat in summer. The area really clears out during the mid-summer months. It is in the 90’s most days with humidity. (Sorta like a hot, humid Michigan day but all the time.) Our area has successfully gotten rid of mosquitoes but we do have pesky “lovebugs” that don’t buzz or bite but they nearly crowd us out two times a year for a couple weeks each time. Sometimes January and February can get pretty chilly, but most of the time, we are able to enjoy the pool and lots of out-door time.

We have friends who first tried Sarasota but they sold their place there, and now live in our Kings Point community. Why? … They are very conscious of the risk of hurricanes (because they work with emergency radio and with emergency medical services). Sarasota was too vulnerable and at sea level, so they felt it was a risk. Our community is more elevated and 7 miles from Tampa Bay. We are the evacuate “to” area for much of our county. (We are where they’d direct folks if there is an approaching storm.) Our buildings are all cement block so very sturdy and quite storm resistent.

The community is enhanced with many volunteers. There’s a wonderful emergency service which staffs a free ambulance service for both Kings Point and Sun City Center. It’s a model for any community that cherishes it’s residences.

Kings Point also has the unique distinction of being served by a bus route with buses that will take you to doctor appointments, shopping centers, etc. It’s all free to residents.

But by some, KP is thought of as sort of unfriendly because you can’t just drive in. You must have approval of a resident before you can enter the manned gates.

Expenses?? Housing is CHEAP! You can buy an older unit for about $30,000 but you still have to pay that $400 home owners fee monthly. Of course there are nicer places up to about $200,000. Those same units were priced at $300,000 a few years ago, but we were really hit hard when the housing market tanked. (Values are gradually recovering but there are lots of deals to be had.)

You can also rent in the area. There are two kinds of rentals, annual and seasonal.) Annual is cheaper. Prices run as low as $800 a month if you sign a year lease. Seasonal rentals are generally for three or six months at a time (or occasionally one month). You can rent inexpensive units for about $1,500 a month (with a 3 month lease). Most of the seasonal rentals come furnished, but the yearly rates are proportionally lower and you generally provide your own furnishings. (Be aware that there’s a hefty tax assessed by the state of Florida for units rented for less than six months.)

Our condo is pretty typical. It’s about 15 years old but it’s been VERY well maintained with a new roof installed last year and the exterior totally painted (all of that exterior work was paid by our home owners association).

We have two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a two-car garage, a huge living area 20 x 22, a dining room, kitchen, and my office.

Most everyone has a golf cart and the whole town is covered with golf cart paths. (After dark, you can’t have them on the streets in Sun City Center but it’s acceptable in Kings Point if you are equipped with headlights.)

We drive our big GMC diesel truck down there (to bring all the stuff we need for our stay). But once we’re down there, we put the truck in the RV storage area (which we rent for an extra annual fee) and we use our Florida car which is waiting for us in our garage. The other half of our garage is for our golf cart and a workshop for John. Also my washer and drier are in the garage (which I prefer because it’s always warm down there and the extra heat and mess is kept out of the house).

Food costs are a little higher than in Michigan but we pay less for our heating/air conditioning. (We paid last year to have a humidistat installed and it lowered the summer electric bill by about $40 monthly because the A/C doesn’t run as often but it’s triggered when needed to keep the humidity down.) Insurance is higher but part is covered by our home owners fee.

Yes, having a home in Florida is a luxury for us and we have no plans to sell our Michigan home. But I know that if anything ever happened to John, it’s where I would choose to live. It would be doable for me. I could swing it financially and it’s an easy life-style. If I ever got so I couldn’t drive, there are the buses and that’s a big sell to some folks. (Kings Point is the only city with this service.)

But for us it’s the pools, clubhouses, and the friends we have made. It seems that because everyone is from some place else, they are all open and friendly. I know everyone in my neighborhood down there. We socialize a lot and they are friends. Contrast that with my Michigan neighborhood where I can’t tell you the names of my next door neighbors and wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them elsewhere.

I am reluctant to encourage folks to come to our area. It’s kind of “our secret” but I do love it!!

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Maybe we could use a shoe horn

[Note: The number of days until we leave automatically updates so the “countdown” will continue until our departure.]

The big question: Will everything fit in our truck? Every year we vow the load we’re hauling south will be smaller the next time. Hasn’t happened yet, and in fact it tends to grow, and this year our stuff may not be able to be squeezed in.

I’m so fanatical about “planning” that I’m actually thinking about doing a scale-model of the back of our truck to see how many plastic “bins” and other bulky items we can crowd into the available space. Instead, I’ve “prioritized” my stuff. I have two bins of clothes and a bin of electronic stuff. John has one clothing bin plus a zipper bag for his suits. There are a couple additional boxes and John will put his bike on the back rack. All of hese things MUST go with us.

In the back seat of the truck, we will pack Charlie in his big cage, a box of our important papers and our instruments. Our overnight bag and munchies will also go in.

But if there’s room (doubtful), we’d like to bring along some other items including an inflatable bed, pump, and frame. We also need to fit in some grape juice which we’ll allow to ferment in Florida.

The plan is to start loading up the truck on the 30th, that’s next weekend. We may have to leave some stuff behind and we want to do it right.

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Cute suit

Ok, so I’m a bit of a clothes nut. I don’t go shopping in stores very often, but I do love having nice things to wear. (Don’t all women?)

I use eBay and for most of my purchases.

My method: I buy primarily things I know will fit in a style that is similar to what I have. I insist on measurements and compare them to clothes that I know fit me. I also try to always have a little spandex in the fabric contentent.

Others have said, “How can you buy a bathing suit without trying it on?”

I get wonderful deals on new swimsuits on eBay. I buy from only three brands of quality suits. I know how they fit me. I like Miraclesuit, Carole Wior, or Gottex. Generally I pay less that 25% for a suit which is good because I go through suits fast. (The Florida sun, chlorine, and long periods I wear them means that I’m lucky to get two seasons out of a suit even if I switch it with others and only wear it every other week or so.)

I just got a new one which arrived today. It’s marked $168 with tags and the sanitary liner. It’s a Gottex, stylish, fully lined, with removable straps. I paid $25.51 including shipping. That’s $142 off the original price. It fits like a dream and it’s cuter than I thought! Now I’m even more anxious to get to Florida and go to the pool.

When we arrive, I know there’ll be work to be done, but as soon as we can, I want to head to the pool in my new suit.

As I wrote two days ago, the only way I’ll be satisfied is if I can shed a little weight. I’m sure trying. The new suit is inspiration!

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Condo Renovation

When we get to Florida, I want to have a contractor in mind for the renovation to our condo which hopefully we can have complete by the middle of November.

The window in our great room has 12-panes which crank out and allow lots of wind to whistle in around them. (Especially in January, when it’s often chilly.)

We would have the window and an extra amount below the window removed. The replacement window would be a “slider.”

I went to a Florida contractor’s website (Knox) and found the look I’m thinking of. It would certainly be an improvement.

If you look at the doors in the two photos, you can see that our current top of the window is considerably higher than the door. I have a feeling our wall is taller than the one in the contractor’s photo. If the opening is too tall for the window I show, a fixed transom type window like the small photo, could be put above the slider. Either way, it would give us a much better view, and a better “match” to the other condos in our building. (We’re the only one with those ugly windows. All the others have the kind we’re proposing.)

Here’s the composite photo taking a photo from Knox site, and Photoshopping it with the photo of our place now. It gives you a good idea of what it would look like. Much better!!

Although I’m the one pushing this project, John acknowledged that our place looks shabby from behind because of that window. All of the other units in our building have windows similar to what we are proposing. We’d be a better fit.

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My Goal: eliminate pounds and inches

I want to lose about 15 pounds! A couple of weeks ago vowed to quit procrastinating and make the effort. I’m not happy with my shape. Within those two to three weeks, I’ve lost maybe five pounds, which is a good start, but I can’t seem to make any dent in the next 15. And if I don’t hang in there, I’ll re-gain the five I’ve already lost.

Now that I’ve started on my way to my goal, you’d think I’d be happier, but I see the next five pounds as almost impossible to shed.

My bulges and belly are discouraging.

And John told me the other day that “You’re getting a big butt.” He’s definitely my most effective critic. He doesn’t let me hang on to excuses.

I just bought another cute size 8 bathing suit. It’ll be a snug fit. With that incentive, I want to lose another five pounds before we take off for Florida.

Now if I could only select the pounds I want to lose. I don’t mind a little extra fullness in my face because it keeps me from looking older, but I want to have my old waist back or I want to shed some in that area as well as my “back fat” which creates an unacceptable “fullness”.

I remember when I was a size 2 or 4 with a 22 inch waist!!!! Sadly, that’s just a memory. I now wear a 8 or sometimes 10 and my waist is 28-30. I’m only 5’2″ so I end up looking like a dumpy, fat old lady.

Guess that’s what happens when you’re 70.

So here are my new rules:

  • When eating at home, a maximum of one glass of wine (or beer) with meals. (Once a week, if we go out for the evening, I can splurge a little.)
  • No more than one slice of toast in the a.m.
  • Count each chip, nut in trail mix, etc.
  • Write down EVERY BITE I eat and stick to less than 20 Weight Watcher points (and don’t cheat).
  • Enjoy a large lettuce salad (no dressing) with egg for most lunches.
  • Fill up on raw fruits and vegetables (consider them “free” from points)
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day and earn extra point allowance with exercise. (If weight doesn’t come off increase the time exercising.)
  • Wear my pedometer and track my walking. When in Michigan, make sure I walk at least 5,000 steps a day, and aim toward 10,000.
  • Fill up on water when hungry.

    Hopefully with these new rules, I can get rid of another five pounds before October 3rd when we leave and maybe those pounds will help eliminate a bulge or bump or two.

    My goal: Lose five pounds by October 3rd. Lose five more by November 1st and the last five by January 1st. Seems doable!

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    Fine tuning

    Packing is more than just boxing up items. When you’re going to “move” from one home to another for a six month stretch, it requires a lot of forethought. I have been trying to be sure that we aren’t leaving behind anything which will be essential to our comfort.

    Tax payments are a huge consideration. I have to make sure that in April, when it’s time to do Income Taxes, we are prepared. Today I went through our box of tax “back-up” information. Most of that stuff didn’t needed to be hauled to Florida, but I wanted to make sure that nothing we will need will be left behind. (I actually heard about a couple that had to make a trip back to Michigan from Florida because they forgot tax information they needed for their April 15th deadline.)

    I went through everything.

    Our accountant always asks for insurance information on all of our policies. So today I looked for the insurance receipts to be certain that we’d have them with us when required in Florida. I realized it would be a monumental task to go find all the back-up copies of all the payments on our four vehicles’ and two homes, so I called the insurance company and got a list of what we insure through them. We have a Chevy Malibu, GMC truck, and in Florida a Jaguar. Both our fifth wheel and golf cart are also covered. We also have coverage on our home, our condo, and an umbrella policy which extends the liability on everything.

    I asked State Farm Insurance if it was possible to find an area on-line where the payment information was clearly spelled out but, after trying to find something that would work, I decided the easiest way is to create my own list of insurance payments. It didn’t take long. With their list of our policies, I was able to fill in the payment amount for each. We’re set!!!

    Then I realized I also need license plate costs for our three licensed vehicles. I got the amount we paid on two of the three. (No problem, the third amount will be available by the time we’re asked to renew in March — before tax information is due).

    Why worry now? Because if I don’t take the documentation with us, we’ll have problems. We can’t just go back and get what we need.

    We have also been advised that when we get to Florida we’ll need to apply for new Kings Point identification cards for us and our vehicles (necessary to enter the complex, use any facilities, or attend any activities). The requirements to submit the applications are involved and specific. I can easily meet my Florida Condo residency requirements because I have a Florida drivers’ license, but John must prove his “part time” residency with back-up documentation. (They suggest cable or electric bills containing the “owner’s name” with address.) Most of our accounts are only in my name (because that’s how it was when we lived in Mom’s condo, and we just transferred the accounts). It’s also more difficult because we have chosen not to receive “paper” billing. It was therefore hard to prove his Florida involvement. I finally located a copy of our Hillsborough tax payment with his name on it and our Florida bank accounts. Hopefully those will be acceptable.

    It’s those little preparations that make our time in Florida easier and more relaxed. And I sure wouldn’t want to give John an excuse to head back early.

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    Fall’s in the air

    The grapes are harvested. The leaves are letting go of their branches and drifting to the ground. Mornings are cool with steam over our little lake.

    You can tell summer’s waning. Tomorrow and the next day will probably be the last 80 degree days for 2012. We’ll have to enjoy them.

    It’s been a long, hot summer. The unusual weather made for very hot May through August. The heavy rains we got at the beginning of August lessened the drought conditions we’d been plagued by until then. Of course months of dry weather and the hot weather in March impacted farm crops. No one has ever heard of 80+ degrees in March, but there were two weeks where the temps ranged from 70-87!!!! Trees leafed out, critters woke up, and spring arrived, two months ahead of schedule. Of course then it turned cold, so fruit crops were affected.

    We picked only about half the grapes we’d normally harvest. They’ve been squished but it’ll be months/years before this crop is drinkable wine.

    Yup, fall’s in the air.

    John said that at this point he’s not anxious to head south but if it turns cool (or better yet COLD), we both know he’ll feel differently.

    Come on, cool weather! Three weeks and counting until we leave!

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    Packing for Florida

    [Note: The number of days until we leave automatically updates so the “countdown” will continue until our departure.]

    Today I officially started “packing.” I don’t usually start this early, but as part of my plan for “purging” my closets, I am anxious to get all of the clothes I’m taking to Florida out of the closet. The remaining few items will be “harshly reviewed” and most of them will go to Goodwill. Every item I put in a bin is recorded so I can locate everything. I’ve already donated one gigantic load.

    Actually I kinda like the idea of getting stuff together to go. Makes it feel like we’re making progress toward our departure.

    This first bin will have stuff that I definitely won’t need until we’re back down South. I’ve already packed bathing suits, hot weather tops, and camisoles.

    With the exception of two days this coming week, temperatures here will probably be no higher than the 60’s and 70’s from now until we leave. In fact tonight it’ll only be 48!! Might as well stow all the hot weather apparel.

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    John and I tend to be pack rats.

    Over the 27 years we’ve been married, our hoard of stuff has grown and is now threatening to over-take us.

    I have clothes from 15 years ago. My size has changed. I have items that are from size 2 to 10. Many of the things are totally out of style. I need to get rid of 90% them. They fill my bedroom closet and two bedroom dressers. There’s the guest room closet on the second floor and two chest of drawers in that room. Down in the basement, John has provided me with two portable closets, again filled with clothes I’ll never wear.

    So today I started “purging.” I’m going to clean out all the unwearable, out-of-date stuff. I will make sure anything I save fits me now. No more saving items hoping I’ll shrink to fit it someday.

    Putting it down in writing here will force me to stick to my vow. I promise you, I’ll purge and get rid of some of my unwanted items. A local charity will benefit.

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    What’s your best feature?

    What’s your best feature? is a question many women can answer without hesitation. Maybe their best feature is their eyes, or maybe it’s their mouth, their butt, their legs, their bustline.

    At one point, I actually earned a little “showing off” my then slender legs. An advertiser used them (against the interior of a car door to advertise panty hose). (Just my legs.)

    But that was years ago. My ankles have gotten stout and I don’t wear very high heels which makes them look matronly.

    My waist which was once 21″ is now closer to 30″.

    My butt is non-existent.

    My belly is impressive, but somehow I doubt anyone thinks of their protruding belly as a good feature.

    My arms are better than many of my contemporaries, but I see loose skin which doesn’t wave, but does move unacceptably.

    So what’s my best feature?

    I would say, my hair.

    A special cut or color can help its look, but hair is sort of a reflection of good health and a God-given gift. I’m fortunate that mine behaves.

    I don’t wash it every day, nor even every other day. More like twice a week.

    I don’t use hair spray, gels, or any other “additives.” I wash it with cheap shampoo and use a cream rinse. That’s it.

    I don’t completely dry it with a hair drier. Instead I let it air dry and then use a flat iron to smooth out waves. A large curling iron finishes the smooth look.

    It takes me about 30 minutes to go from wet to ready-to-go.

    I have it cut and colored every six weeks. I wear hats a lot in the sun to keep it from being burned and dried out by the Florida sun.

    I enjoy my hair because for me it’s fun and not work.

    I wish I could say my best feature is my figure, but I’d be dreaming. Hair doesn’t change when you gain weight. Thank heavens!!

    (PS: I hope I can revisit this post in a couple of months and brag that I have lost weight, because I’m really trying, and some other feature … maybe waist? figure? arms? looks really good. Somehow, at 70, I think I should be content with good hair.)

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    Living the Dream

    Am I living the life I dreamed?

    Actually, things are much better than my imagination ever conceived.

    I walked through the house at dawn the other day. As I looked out on the lake, the tranquil scene was perfect. A fish jumped leaving pretty ripples on the water. A swan was reflected in the water. It was lovely. I was in awe.

    And the view from our Florida condo is just as breath-taking. I’ve often been stopped in my tracks by the view from our southern residence of a sunset or the reflections in the ponds behind us.

    How could I have guessed that we’d have it so good? When I was a kid, I didn’t know of anyone who had a situation like we have now. During our lifetime the economic situation has improved for the middle class so we share this “dream existence” with most of our friends who are our age. Our generation has it all.

    I worry about my daughter’s age-group. They are working hard to financially get ahead, but because of the current economic situation, they don’t make much progress.

    And our grand children have it even tougher.

    Let’s hope that success will again be possible for those who put forth the effort.

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    When I was about 10

    I was walking home from Eastlawn Elementary School in Midland, maybe in the 5th grade, when a man pulled up to the curb beside me and offered me a ride. I knew he was up-to-no-good. Of course I said, “No.” He continued to follow me. I was scared. I told him I’d tell my mother, but he said, he wasn’t worried. My mom was far away and he was right. I was more than a mile from home.

    He continued to try to lure me. I kept walking straight ahead. A house at the corner of Eastlawn and Virginia Streets was a welcome sight. I didn’t know who lived there, but I felt that my chances were better there than with the man trying to pick me up. Determinedly I turned toward the man and said, “I’m home now. I’m going to tell my mom you were following me.”

    I firmly walked directly into the house of the stranger without hesitating (because I felt if I knocked or even paused, he’d be there, waiting for me to continue walking home). I’ll never forget the look on the face of the lady of the house. She was ironing. Needless to say she was surprised. (I burst into tears.) When I told her what had happened, she was comforting and sympathetic. She suggested that I call my parents. My dad came after me.

    I am still proud of how I handled “stranger danger.”

    Using Streets and Trips (a computer program), I just tracked the distance I was “followed” on a map. It was about 1/3 of a mile. That’s a long way for a scared young girl to keep her cool. But I did it.

    I hope your grandchildren would do the same.

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    I was the skinny girl with glasses (kinda smart and very geeky).

    In today’s climate what I was subjected to would be called bullying.

    I was picked on but not picked. I know what it’s like to have other girls selected to be a partner in a dance class, while I stood there waiting.

    I was too scrawny and too flat-chested. My glasses were too thick and I was awkward. I was taunted with calls of “boney” because I was under 100 lbs. and “four eyes.” I even had a sing-songy nick-name “Lame-Brain” because I was too smart and my last name was Layman.

    Isn’t it funny how life changes.

    Although I’m past my prime, I don’t wear glasses, and I’m a size 8 (but I do need to tone up and lose about 15 pounds.)

    Back then, my family wasn’t rich or poor, but definitely in the middle of the status chain so no one was impressed by my dad’s job, nor our house. But now I enjoy a level of success (due to hard work) that I never imagined. My husband and I have a lovely home (not palatial but on a pretty lake and very comfortable.) In fact, we have two homes (one in Michigan and one in Florida). We don’t have to worry about anything. Life is good.

    But what about those kids who teased me, called me names, chased me? I don’t know and I don’t care. They probably influenced me to be more aggressively successful. I worked harder and was forced to believe in myself more. I overcame lots of hurdles to be debt free and earn what it takes to be comfortable.

    No bitterness toward them. I love life. I wonder if those bullies can say the same.

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    Already Heading South

    Wayne and Linda are the first of our “snowbird” friends to head back to Florida. They’re leaving next Wednesday (Sept. 5th, I think) and taking their time returning to their place in Florida.

    They have been camping and living in their fifth wheel since April. They’re more than ready to get “home” to our Kings Point community.

    Our plans are to leave on October 3rd. That’s a month from Monday (five weeks from tomorrow).

    Today John picked some of his grapes so he can get them processed for wine and he said the others he grew are ripe and ready for picking.

    He’s also working to finish siding the east side of the house. When he completes that side, he’ll have wrapped up that the project for 2012. He still has about a week of work to do but when that’s done, we should be able to leave on schedule.

    I’ve been trying to assemble the stuff I want to take to Florida. I’ve been moving items to the “staging area” in the dining room. I won’t officially get started putting things into the bins that I use for packing until two weeks before we leave. That way I won’t have to “unpack” if I need to use something.

    I’m jealous of Linda and Wayne. They live in their fifth wheel so they don’t have to “pack anything.” They just hook up and drag it all south.

    But honestly I’m glad we have until October to enjoy Michigan’s wonderful fall weather. In a month I will be ready to leave – especially if the weather changes to typical cool, rainy fall temperatures!

    Part of the reason I want to get back to the sunny south is because John does much better in Florida than he does here. (We both do.) We feel healthier and more energetic.

    So soon we’ll be packing for our southern home, but we have more than a month to enjoy Michigan, Michigan weather, and Michigan fun. It’s the loveliest time of the year here. Hope by early October it’ll turn dern cold so we’ll feel good about leaving.

    The geese are already heading south for the winter. Almost time for these “snow birds” to do the same.

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    Following Isaac

    I’ve been following the stories about Isaac as he attacks New Orleans as a category 1 hurricane.

    Last night, I checked and found the strangest weather report for New Orleans. It said “78 degrees and SNOW!”:

    It stayed that way for about an hour.

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    Great Purchases

    I’ve been in a “shopping mood” lately. I’m thinking ahead to events which we have on our calendar for Florida.

    So I went shopping on Found three super cute dresses which will work great for Baby Boomers, Oldies But Goodies, and other dances. The invoice was a total of $103 for the three with shipping!! Can’t beat that!

    I also added to my wardrobe with some eBay purchases. One item was a cute gray loose top which you wear over a camisole because it is worn off shoulder for only $6.50.

    I know I don’t dress “appropriately” for a 70-year-old senior citizen, but when I wear things that make me feel good, I don’t feel 70.

    I was afraid the black tiered one would be too short, but John likes it. It just comes to my knees – not as short as it appears in the picture. (I’m 5’2″ and the model is probably close to 6′.) It will be perfect for our ballroom dances.

    With these for “inspiration” I am hoping to lose about 15 pounds. (I’m back on the old Weight Watchers Point System which I used in 2007 to lose 20 pounds over a three month period. I hope I’ll be as successful this time. (I want to lose the weight, but not so much that I look older.)

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    Blue Skies and Nice Weather

    It’s a lovely day: 83 degrees with beautiful blue skies.

    John and I are on our way back home from our five-day stay in the Upper Peninsula. We have about an hour to go.

    Yesterday it rained all day, so we stayed inside, played music and relaxed. (John needed some get-away time because he works way too hard.)

    We were up early this morning, packed and winterized the place, and were on the road home a little past 10:00.

    It’s amazing that our place never seems to change, despite our neglect of it. We really don’t invest time, energy nor finances in the place, but it holds up amazingly well. It’s just a very humble old (12 x 50 ft.) trailer. It has two small bedrooms, a bath, and a kitchen/dining room/living room combination. We added a 12 x 20 deck a few years ago and a tin roof at the same time so it’s protected from massive snow build-up.

    Two nights ago, something tried to scratch it’s way through the wall when we were trying to sleep. We both heard it, but nothing was visible when John went out to confront the critter. He also looked in the morning, but didn’t spot any traces of a “break in.” We’ll know when we come back next year.

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    Hungry Birds

    When we were up her (in the U.P.) last year, we left a hummingbird feeder hanging under the roof of our deck. Since no one’s been for a year, of course it’s empty.

    While I was enjoying the view last night, a tiny, ruby-throated hummingbird came right up to me, and then went to the feeder then back to me. It was like he was saying, “Been waiting for you to get back her and re-fill this thing.”

    Guess I better get busy before I have “Angry Birds” after me.


    Got the feeder re-filled and the little hummingbirds are enjoying it.

    At one point there were three or four of them flitting around.

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    We should be pretty good at packing. In July, we packed our truck and trailer to go to our big festival in Evart. The first part of August, we packed truck and trailer to go to Gladwin’s Carriage Days where we camped. Now. at the end of August, we’re headed to our place in the Upper Peninsula for five days. We left home about two hours ago in our truck. (The trailer stayed home.) And in a month, October 3rd, we’ll pack BACK up and head to Florida.

    Each adventure is different. For the festivals, we’re responsible for lots of extras. We feel like we’re bringing everything (including the kitchen sink.) Our supplies include: an E-Z-Up canopy, lots of folding chairs, and a multitude of items for the workshops.

    But when it comes to “packing” when we’re using the trailer most everything (clothing, food, etc.) just goes in place. The closets are filled, bed made, medicine cabinet filled, kitchen stocked, and the refrigerator holds the stuff from our home refrigerator. Yes, packing takes some time, but with a trailer, we do it gradually over several weeks, and when we take off from Saginaw, the back seat of the truck is usually just loaded with boxes of programs which are distributed at the festival, so when we return home 10 to 12 days later, it’s empty.

    Going to the U.P. is much more difficult. We have only the truck (back seat and covered truck bed) to hold stuff. Since we only go once a year and stay for about a week, John doesn’t leave tools up there. Our bedding gets hauled back and forth (including pillows). Canned goods go back and forth. (We’ve tried leaving stuff there, but everything freezes over the winter, and canned goods change consistency after being frozen.) The only stuff which stays in our place from year to year are the furnishings, some cleaning products, some paper products, and cookware. This time we’re even bring a TV set up there. Any paper products or staples (spices, etc) which are left behind get stored in a metal garbage can (only used for that purpose), so the mice can’t get into them.

    John brings along a lawn mower and an air compressor (to blow out the water lines for the winter, when we’re ready to head home).

    We’ve learned that mice can get in no matter how secure we make the place so we don’t risk leaving anything that would make a nest. Pillows are hauled back and forth, as well as sheets, blankets, towels, etc.

    The truck is totally loaded (truck bed and the back seat)!

    When we pack for Florida, in about a month, we hope to have a much lighter load than we have today as we head up north. Yes, there are some electronic items which go back and forth to Florida (printer and paper supplies), and some clothes, but except for a cooler, we don’t need to worry about food. Most everything is in place in the condo. We have ample bedding and linens waiting for our return. Favorite clothing items make the trip with us, but we could get by with what’s there. Those items should all fit in the back end of the truck. John’ll bring his bike on a carrier on the back. A full load, yes, but not like this time.

    Our instruments (banjo, dulcimer(s), autoharp, sax, and my new marimbula), take up a lot of room in back seat both when heading to Florida and when we head to the U.P. And half of the back seat is reserved for Charlie, our cockatiel and his big cage. But we won’t feel like we used a shoe-horn to get it all in.

    By October, when we pack for Florida, we should be pretty good at it.

    To make it easier, I will start preparing for our October 3rd departure as soon as we get home next week.

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    Cute Cartoon

    Senior humor is fun. No, John hasn’t ever asked that question, and he sure doesn’t look like that old guy, but as long as we can laugh at our lumpy bodies, we’re doing ok.

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    Keeping our Calendar organized

    Looking ahead to October, when we’ll be in Florida, we already have a bunch of social events planned and a couple doctors’ appointments. Good thing I keep a detailed calendar because we’d never keep it all straight.

    Between now and our departure for the sunny South, I have lots to keep me busy here. Most of it is WORK, but we’ll stop and play some.

    Wednesday we head to the U.P. for a few days. I’m actually looking forward to it. Last year we had a surprising good time despite a list of crises which should have spoiled the visit. I guess it’s all in the attitude.

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    Creating a “new me”

    I’m in an uncomfortable position in my life: A time of change.

    I’ve been Vice President of the Original Dulcimer Players Club since June and Workshop Chairman since 1996. When I took the Vice President job a few months ago, I made it clear that my role was a temporary one as a fill-in. But when nominations to fill the job for a full term were open, I thought seriously about running for the office. I decided against it when I realized that there were two other capable people who wanted the position.

    And recently it was suggested to me that, because of my age, I may want to find a replacement in my job as “workshop chairman.” I’ve done it for 17 years! After careful thought, I decided that it might be “time,” so I’ve been asking if there’s anyone willing to step up and take over my chairmanship role.

    I guess, in my dream world, folks would say “NO! YOU CAN’T!!!” But it’s dawning on me that someone else can do the job. I’ll be replaced, and the “show will go on.”

    But what about me? What will I do, who will I be? I am realizing that much of my identity has been centered on my involvement with the ODPC. I have enjoyed doing my job to the best of my ability.

    I am trying to imagine what it will feel like when I am not Workshop Chairman. I have a fall-back role as Webmaster, but even that is a job which could end, based on the feelings and needs of “the Board of the ODPC.” Maybe that too will change over time.

    Of course I still do website design, moderating of lists, and I’m involved with the Michigan Club in Florida (could even take a more active role there) and could be more involved in lots of other organizations.

    What I really need to do is to become “more involved” in my own home here in Saginaw, so I feel more connected to it.

    But maybe I’m getting too old to be worrying about having an important job to do.

    Is it really necessary for my “identity?” Maybe I need to relax and accept that I can just enjoy life without “working” so hard to prove my worth.

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    Head North?? Stay Home??

    We have been planning to take a trip to our place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula next week. We haven’t been up there since last August. We figure we should “check on things.” According to the itinerary we had envisioned, we’d leave home Monday, the day after John’s family reunion, and stay up north for 5-7 days.

    Unfortunately it’s cool up there now, and every day it will be even colder with rain predicted about every other day.

    Maybe we could cancel our plans to go to the reunion and leave this Friday. If we stay only about five days before the temperatures fall, it might work. But even then, we’d be plagued with rain.

    John has really wanted to go, but the cost of driving over 700 miles (round trip) to spend several days fighting bugs while enduring cold, damp weather isn’t really appealing to him. We may stay home. I wouldn’t mind not going at all!!


    Few days later…

    The weather forecast has changed. Next week looks lovely – mid 70’s. We will wait until Wednesday, the 22nd, to go up north. We’ll stay until Monday, the 27th. We’ll drive the truck up so we can tote instruments, bedding, pillows, food, lounge chairs, TV set and everything else we need to be comfortable. I’m looking forward to the time in the U.P.

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    Summary of the Camping Weekend

    Here’s a wrap-up of our Saginaw Subterranean Hammered Dulcimer Club’s performance/camping weekend at Carriage Days in Gladwin:

    When it came to weather, we had it all! The rain and cold made for a miserable Thursday and Friday (about 8″ of rain and highs in the 60’s) but we had a decent Saturday, and Sunday couldn’t have been prettier. The crowd was still scarce, but we had a good play in the reenactor area.

    As far as the music and our friends, we enjoyed them completely! Our group of club members was smaller than some years, but we certainly fit together nicely and had a good time! Someone commented that our music was better with a small group because we stayed together.

    Unfortunately the Carriage Days organizers haven’t figured out how to arrange the schedule to work for us and we came away with the feeling that they were having a hard time fitting us in. We were made to feel we were “in the way.” Too often we had to compete with over-amplified music and the idea that they had two music groups scheduled at the same time, under the same roof, is unthinkable.

    As a camping location, it is perfect. Lovely shady campsites, with hookups. And the organizers seem to be determined to make the event work, but we may have to pass next year. True, they give us “free” camping, but each member spent much, much more than just the cost of camping. The fuel to get there was about three times the cost of the campsite.

    So the weekend was a mixture of fun and disappointments and uncertainty about our future involvement with Carriage Days.

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    Our camping weekend dried out

    This weekend has been disappointing. The weather, until today, was horrid. Cold and rainy. Today improved dramatically. Temps in the 60’s and sunny.

    The little festival sprang to life. The parade this morning had been cancelled. Our performance was scheduled from 2:30-5:15 in the big Swine Barn. As it turned out, I’d misunderstood. We started setting up on the stage but were told we were scheduled in the opposite end of the barn, while another act was on the stage. (Can you imagine how that would work with two groups’ sounds mixing under the same roof?) But we worked out a staggered schedule with the other act.

    After setting up our sound equipment we played for an hour. The other act took the stage at 3:30 and finished about 4:15. We resumed our playing until about 5:10.

    We had only one or two loyal listeners. The lack of audience was discouraging, and for the last 45 minutes, the smoke from a blacksmith demo outside the door overwhelmed us.

    This evening we had a pleasant pizza party at the home of our local members (Caroline and Bob Brinkman). The conversation was lively and fun. Nice folks!

    Tomorrow we’ll enjoy a group breakfast and at noon a 90-minute performance.

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    If it’s Carriage Days it must be raining

    Since 2008, Saginaw Subterranean Strings, the group John and I lead, have been playing for a small festival at the Gladwin (Mi) Fairgrounds. It’s called Carriage Days. We arrived this afternoon. This is the fifth time we’ve been here.

    Over the years the festival has been plagued with bad weather. In 2008, we had cool weather: 66 degrees for a daytime high and a low in the low 50s. It also rained several times. Then in 2009, it rained HARD (3+”). In 2010, it rained some but it was the excessive heat and humidity which made it uncomfortable. Last year, some rain, but better than most years. This year it’s supposed to rain all weekend. It’s cool and damp. We’ll hang in there.

    It would be a lovely event, if they could get in good with Mother Nature.

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    Hunting Geese

    We hate geese. They’re messy and pollute our lovely little lake.

    Unfortunately their species is “protected” so they’re allowed to “take over” our lawn, our lake, and multiply exponentially, despite the fact that our tiny lake is only 26 acres. Not only that, but in the fall, they invite all “traveling geese” to stop in for a visit (so that, if they like it, they can make plans to return in the spring).

    So John has a one-man crusade to chase them away. He watches, and as they approach our lawn, pulls out his pistol shaped bb-gun and takes pot-shots at them. The pellets bounce off their feathers as proof that they are not powerful enough to really hurt them, but it does give us a brief reprieve as they hurry off to a more welcoming neighbor’s lawn.

    Since it’s impossible to tell, from a distance, that his gun isn’t a lethal, bullet-shooting handgun, I truly expect the “cops” to raid our house and confiscate his weapon.

    Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure his over-shot copper-colored bbs are raising the lake level.

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    Rusty old folks

    Last night John and I went to the Moose Club for dinner and dancing. The entertainment was a country singer. We got to the club about 6:15. Dinner was okay. (Not my favorite.)

    But the evening was fun!

    The country singer, Walt Evans, and his back-up keyboardist provided nice music. It was a dancing crowd. Three or four line-dance ladies, and probably a half dozen couples at a time shared the small dance floor. We didn’t try any line-dancing, in part because our routine would have been different than what the ladies were doing and the difference would have messed them (and us) up.

    We found out just how rusty we were. We had definitely forgotten a lot. It probably wouldn’t take long to get back in the swing of things, but we ran out of steam easily and were challenged to keep together.

    That duo plays at the Moose on the first Saturday of each month.

    We’ll be out of town next weekend (Gladwin Carriage Days from the 9th to the 12th), and we’ll probably go to our place in the U.P. From about the 21st to the 26th, so this month, even if we could find more opportunities, we really don’t have a lot of available time for dancing.

    I noticed the crowd was approximately the same age as the crowd we are with in Florida. Maybe it’s just that people our age like moving our bodies to a nice, slow, country beat.

    With folks our age, it’s really good that line dancing is popular. It allows single. dance-loving ladies the opportunity to take to the floor. And dance they did. Hardly missed a tune and were still going strong when we left.

    We’ll be back on September 1st.

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    My stash

    About six months ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Feeling Secure,” about how feel most comfortable when I have an ample supply of toilet tissue. I love to be “stocked up” and get rather anxious when I see my supply dwindle.

    But I am realizing there are other items I “stash.” This week, with a purchase from, I added to some of the items I consider “staples” — items I want to have in reserve. I am now feeling prepared and contented.

    Of course buying quantities of items means that there is more to haul back and forth to Florida. When heading back, I’ll pack two unopened boxes of envelopes (two sizes); two reams of paper; extra ink jet cartridges; still sealed liquid makeup; unopened bottles of vitamin D tablets, allergy meds and ibuprofen; a new bottle of perfume, and several new tubes of lipstick (all the same shade). (These items could all be purchased in Florida or Michigan. I just “feel better” when I have my own supply.)

    I am now set so I won’t have to order/buy stuff for a while. I love that feeling of having what I need without having to go shopping for it. Nothing I buy will spoil nor go out of style. My practice is to I get several when I find a deal so I’m always prepared. You never know when one of those items will be in short supply and I won’t be able to get what I need.

    I have my stash. Life is good!

    But come to think of it, we need to buy more toilet paper.

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    Allergy Season has Arrived!

    Every year since I was a teenager, I’ve had to fight seasonal and mold allergies. I’ve gone through all kinds of treatment plans including year-round weekly injections which were intended to gradually build up my resistance. And of course, I’ve tried every medication available. My problems have lessened over the years. I thought I was out-growing the problem or maybe my improvement is the result of better the over-the-counter medications. Zyrtec is my drug of choice (and a generic version can be purchased cheaply). I take it year-round because I never get away from mold completely.

    Generally the worst time for me starts near the end of August and fades gradually as cold weather arrives (about late September).

    This was a strange year with 80 degrees in February, and no real winter. As a result, many weed seeds (and bugs) didn’t totally die off. Trees bloomed early, the whole timetable was messed up.

    Yesterday, after I’d opened all the windows to let in the fresh air, I realized the allergy season has arrived. I don’t know if it’s ragweed, or some other trigger, but all that “fresh air” did it! I couldn’t quit sneezing. I doubled up on my Zyrtec, then added another.

    Looks like it’s going to be a miserable period and I’ll be stuck inside but there’s lot I need to do inside anyway. Life is still good, as long as I have my Zyrtec.

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    Three Trees DOWN!!

    I have the best husband in the world!! Today he “took out” three, 40-50 foot, dead poplar trees on our east-most property line. He worked alone, and initially that concerned me because I was afraid for his safety. I lost most of last night’s sleep worrying about it. And the first thing I said to him this morning, when he was awake, was a strong “suggestion” (leaning toward “begging,”) that he give up the job. But when begging didn’t work, I made him “promise” to be extra careful and I asked him to describe his plan to me. He said that working alone, he wouldn’t be as tempted to hurry and make a mistake. His plan was to notch each tree and “direct” it’s fall by pulling with a strong rope tied up the trunk with our truck, so he would be well away from the tree-fall.

    It worked! The first two went down flawlessly. I breathed a sigh of relief. But the very last tree didn’t go quite as planned. It fell close to (and really shook) our house, but thankfully there was no real damage. Yes, the light-weight branches did brush the roof, but he can straighten the eave trim which is a tad rumpled and everything else is fine.

    Yea for my hubby!! (What did I learn?? That a wife can’t control the actions of a determined husband. And that’s probably for the best.)

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    A slight “advantage”

    I just purchased a folding “cane” on ebay.

    Sure I can line dance with the best of ’em, I can walk around Busch Gardens for miles and miles, and I certainly don’t need handicapped parking, but I do have my limitations.

    In 1981, I had a brain tumor removed, and as a result, I have absolutely no working inner ear on the right side so I’m really shaky on my feet, especially when going down stairs. I grip hand-rails like my life depends on them (because it does). I’m afraid and tentative, and it’s gotten worse since being diagnosed with osteoporosis last month because I know a fall could be a disaster.

    We go to the Busch Gardens shows weekly from January until March to enjoy the all-star line-up of acts. At those events the admission procedure to the Stanleyville Theater is to line up with handicapped being admitted and seated earlier than the general population.

    But here’s my problem: I can’t navigate straight down the steps which are directly ahead of the entrance gates the way most people do. I must head to the only handrail which is located on the out-side wall and, holding on tightly, I go down to the bottom in front of the stage area, cross over, and then go back up to the seat I desire. (And while I’m doing this I’m going against an anxious crowd which is trying to shove past me.) It always seemed unfair that I’m competing with able-bodied folks. As a general rule, I line up an hour before the average person, just so I can get to the side rail and find a good seat without falling.

    I was told by the gate guards that, even though they could understand that I am definitely limited (more than most), I need some “sign” that I’m handicapped. These guards have suggested that I should get a “cane” or a “walker” which would indicate that I have a problem. So today I bought a folding cane so I can be allowed to go down the stairs ahead of the huge crowd. I don’t really want to have preferential treatment, but I am definitely restricted. No longer will I need to stand in line for an hour to get head-start so I can get a good seat. I can enter with the handicapped folks and find my way to the seat I’d like without being afraid of falling. I’ll still need to go to the far railing and I’ll hold on tightly to the handrail, but I won’t be pushed and shoved in the process.

    I hope no one glares at me when I line up with the “handicapped” because it’s taken me over 30 years to admit I need extra consideration.

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    Feeling “Old”

    When we’re in Michigan I have a tendency to feel “old.” I can’t find any energy so I laze around. That depletes energy. It’s a draining cycle. Last year I wrote, that I feel the years slip away, when we get to Florida. We will probably leave for the “sunshine state” on October 6th, or maybe even the 5th, that’s just over two months away.

    What to do between now and then??

    On August 6th (a week from today), we are planning to join John’s siblings for a dinner in Owosso. August 8th, we’ll camp with Saginaw Subterranean Strings Hammered Dulcimer for in Gladwin, MI, at the annual Carriage Festival. It looks like it’ll be a fun weekend with lots of performances, a lunch performance, and a pizza party on Saturday night.

    When we get back to Saginaw, we have a performance for area Red Hat Clubs at a senior residence facility (Wescourt) scheduled for August 16.

    John would like to go to the U.P. to look in our place, but I’m not eager. We’re really isolated up there. We haven’t even had any TV the last few times we’ve gone up. And the bugs (ticks and mosquitos especially) are liable to be plentiful because there wasn’t enough cold last winter for a total kill-off. If we go, we might be able to “take in” a potluck on August 26th, that the home owners’ association has planned.

    Haithco Concert is scheduled for August 29th.

    We don’t have anything else firmly planned for the rest of the summer.

    I did read that a close-by night spot is hosting Sunday evening dances. I have no idea what style of dance, and there is an admission charge, but it would be worth trying.

    If we do go to the U.P., I’d like to take-in some the lovely Michigan scenery. We have such a pretty state! We haven’t done much sight-seeing the past few years, and it might be fun.

    Ok, so I need to explain why I entitled this blog post, “Feeling ‘Old'”: Yesterday someone mentioned to me that I should be looking for a replacement to handle workshops at the Evart Funfest… They said I need to find someone “YOUNGER!” I know it’s true, but I certainly feel that I’m still capable. That being said, I’d hate to leave the club in a lurch, if something happened to me, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead. I just hate to face the truth. I’ve written an article for the next ODPC newsletter suggesting that, if someone is interested, I’d like to help them learn the ropes over the next three years, so they can take over after I’ve completed my 20th year. Maybe I’ll even pull out sooner, if the right person comes along.

    My life is full and complete. I don’t need being the “Workshop Chairman” and as John pointed out to me today, at 2 months per year (which is what I have stated it takes to do the workshop schedule). In 17 years, that’s well over two years of my life.

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    I’ve made a decision NOT to run for the Vice President of the Original Dulcimer Players Club. (I currently hold that position.) I really hoped that as V.P. I could provide a “historic viewpoint” since I’ve been on the ODPC boards going back to 1996, but I HATE POLITICS!

    The slate of those running for ODPC offices came out yesterday and there are two others on the ballot for the two vice presidential positions. I like both of the people I’d be running against. They’ll do a good job and it’s best this way. I hope to continue in my roles as Workshop Chairman and Webmaster. (But I am an “appointee” so who knows?)

    Hopefully, whoever assumes the leadership roles will continue the traditions of the ODPC. It’s a very special organization.


    It’s now more than a day since I made my decision and I can’t believe how much better I feel having decided NOT to run. (I was really overwhelmed with anxiety.) I know it was the right decision.

    I would like to continue to be in charge of workshops and webmaster. I hope the new administration is willing to keep things as they are with my roles in those areas. My plan is to avoid politics and meetings and just “do my job.” I no longer wish to be “involved” in any way with the administration of the ODPC. I hope that those who will assume administrative roles will continue the traditions which are vital to the ODPC Funfest and the organization behind that wonderful event.

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    Getting Closer (but taking too long)

    Soon we’ll be heading to Florida. I know it’s still months away, but I’m really eager.

    Our big summer event is the ODPC Funfest but it’s past. Now there’s really nothing I eagerly “anticipate.”

    We have two more summer concerts (one tonight and one on August 29th). We’re planning for an August camping weekend, and a possible trip to the U.P., but that’s about it. It would help if it would cool down and stay cooler. At least then activities like walking would be enjoyable and we’d be more tempted to find a place to dance.

    I’ve been looking at the Kings Point activities wistfully.

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    Pool Rules

    The festival is over. For the “hot days” we enjoyed a cooling dip in our “pool.” Which was once a 14-foot pool (because it did have 7 pairs of feet in it.) Photo of Skaryd’s Pool

    Back in 2005, pool rules were posted by the Dianne Phelps, wife of the past Osceola fair president and manager, and I just found them.

    Thought I’d post them here for you to enjoy:

    To whom it may concern and to whom it may not concern:

    In regard to the poor little piddly pool located just north of the south first panel of an entire fence surrounding the horse corral with the exceptional openings which may or may not exist depending on whether or not the gates are open or closed or up at all:

    This is an official permit complete with all the hitertos and wherefores and what ifs and why nots you can imagine, plus some we may have to make up as said use of said pool becomes increasingly popular as a said gathering place next to the said first campsite just north of the south first panel of an entire fence surrounding the horse corral with the exceptional openings which may or may not exist depending on whether or not the gates are open or closed or up at all. That having been said:

    It is proper to dip all those “this little piggies” of storybook fame into the pool. It is not proper to dip people in the pool. Exception: (insert the name of the current president of the ODPC). It is totally proper to wade up to your ankles. It is not proper to sit in the pool. Though it may be fun and tempting it is not nice to splash. It is permissible to use ice cubes to further cool the pool, but it is not permissible to take them out of the trays located in the freezer compartments of other campers when they’re not looking! It is proper to paddle in the pool, but not proper to piddle.

    It is not proper to advertise the fact that there are also individual pools located in varous bathroom facilities. You could get thrown off the grounds should you decide to do much more than piddle in those pools. Do not add ice cubes. Do not add feet. If either of the above are present, do not flush!

    Enjoy the pool and if you get in trouble, do not blame me.

    Ms. Management
    (Past) President of the Unfair and Bored


    Especially since we are an “aging” group, we felt it necessary to include some additional “rules” in 2012:

    Please insert the following in the appropriate place in the above document: “No diving. If full body contact is unavoidable due to the attraction of the cooling properties of the water, no Swimmies (baby diapers for swimming) nor Depends (or other adult incontinent apparel). Swimsuits are optional, but Speedos, thongs, and bikinis, when worn by our age group, are definitely frowned upon.”

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    Our festival is over!

    9NoteMarimbula.jpgWe had a great time, but we’re pooped and need several days to rest without any stress or commitments.

    The weather was varied: hot, cold, rainy, nice, hot! Today with it hot again, we were exhausted after packing.

    One of the most enjoyable parts of the festival for us was enjoying the music played outside our door in the workshop leader rest area.

    For me one highlight was the purchase of a marimbula. The picture is from the Cloud Nine music site which shows a marimbula just like mine.

    The sound is similar to an upright bass. I got it Thursday night and over the next two days, played a few times with some excellent musicians. Didn’t do as badly as I’d feared. It was fun.

    Why a marimbula? you ask.

    In Florida, we have created a performing group with the Conklins called “Kings Strings.” The four of us have played several gigs, but we feel our sound isn’t “complete.” Two dulcimers and two autoharps are missing a “cut through” bass beat. We need to add some punch. If I work on it, I hope the marimbula will give us what we’re looking for. Playing with others was fun! There were times when I knew I missed the proper notes, but other tunes came together nicely.

    What shocked me most was the positive feedback I received. I actually had folks asking me to keep playing.

    I was careful to keep a steady beat, and that’s what was most necessary. I’ll work on the correct notes, but I was pleased with my progress.

    We attended the Saturday night stage show. It was great. We got back to our campsite about 10:00 and played and enjoyed the music which was going on outside our door. We went inside by about 1:00 a.m.

    This morning came too early. We were tired but dragged ourselves out of bed to start breaking down our “campsite.” It took from 8:00-3:00 for the two of us, plus a bunch of our friends, to get our trailer ready to head home.

    We pulled in our driveway about 5:30.

    During the first days of the week, before the actual festival began, friends from Florida came by. We enjoyed showing them what our life is like at our festival.

    John’s two sisters and their significant others stopped by to visit a few times, but we really didn’t have time to visit while they were there.

    So we’d stayed at the fairgrounds living in our trailer for 12 full days.

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    Complain.. complain.. complain!

    The past few days here at the dulcimer festival have been HOT! I don’t mean just pleasantly warm, I mean HOT! A couple days ago I watched the temperature reach 101.5 under our awning. We were miserable. Even at night it only dropped into the mid-70’s. Last night we had a pleasant evening with a nice parade, lots of food, and wonderful music.

    In the middle of the night a loud thunderstorm moved through the area and the temps had cooled to the mid-60’s when we got up. All day, the rain was off and on, but mostly on. It’s now cold and damp! (63 degrees) It’s rained a couple of inches, and it’s definitely not clearing yet.

    So for the nine days we’ve been here, I’ve complained about the heat but my tune has now changed. I’m still complaining, but it’s because I’m freezing. I’m here in our trailer (all the music has stopped while everyone breaks for dinner). We decided to fix a meal in the oven so the place will warm up and eliminate some of the clammy chill. Chicken kiev over rice will be great.

    Tomorrow it’s supposed to warm up and, by Saturday and Sunday, it’ll be back close to 90! But tonight we expect temps down into the 50’s.

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    We’re Here at the ODPC Funfest

    If you know us, you have already heard about the huge hammered dulcimer festival which we’ve attended since 1991. It’s always held at the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart, Michigan.

    The Skaryd's pool We are involved with the management of the festival. I’m the Webmaster, Workshop Chairman, and Vice President. John is my right hand man. He sets up the workshop areas, helps me with the workshop area rest area, and also runs the one-on-one classes each day. Of course, there is the running and maintenance of the copy machine and dozens of little chores.

    This event will start on July 19th and run until July 22nd, but we arrived on Tuesday, July 10th. Right now the fairgrounds is about 80% full and those sites that are still vacant are reserved, or on the distant edges without any hookups and a bit of a hike to the restrooms.

    This year it’s been a bit of a struggle. The state fairgrounds inspector came through and determined that many of the campsites were illegal so they can’t be used. That’s made it tough to fit in people who have always attended. It’s never been a problem before, but this year, finding a place to park your trailer, van or tent will be tough.

    Hopefully it’ll work and everyone will be happy, but each day it gets tougher as folks realize that they aren’t able to be where they expected.

    It’s been really hot. Today we probably got to about 90 before a storm came through and cooled things down about 10 degrees.

    To keep folks comfortable, we filled our small kiddie pool and several of us cooled off by dipping our feet. The picture shows Marj Mountainsong (left) of Eugene, Oregon, Gwyn Besner (right) from Traverse, City, Michigan. The pool was really refreshing. Tomorrow, I think it will be a tad cooler (88), but Monday and Tuesday we expect it to return to the mid 90’s, before it drops back down into the 80’s through the end of the festival.

    The pool will be enjoyed and appreciated by lots of us.

    What do we do in the time before the festival starts? Well, we talk, play music, and enjoy renewing old friendships and making new ones.

    Many folks think of the pre-festival time as the most fun. It’s always so hectic when the actual festival activities begin. Seems like we’re rushing around constantly and never have time to take a breath.

    We really haven’t had time to join a jam. Yes, John’s played a few tunes but mainly inside the air conditioned trailer where it was comfortably cool. Maybe tonight we’ll at least take a trip around the campground to enjoy some of the wonderful music which is only played here.

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    New Facebook Presence for Kings Point

    Yesterday I took time to do something I’ve been thinking about for awhile: I created a Facebook page for the residents of Kings Point. Here’s the explanation I spent to friends:

    As Kings Point residents who are up north during the summer months, we find it’s hard to out what’s happening in our Florida community. Sure Kings Point administration has a lovely, informative website, as well as “The Pointer,” and “the Wheel” on Community Channels 95 and 96. But, as a resident, there are things I’d like to know and share that aren’t covered by the normal communication methods. In fact sometimes there are things we don’t learn during the winter months, even though we’re in our Kings Point home. Example: If folks find a nice dance spot, or restaurant, it would be good if there’d be a way to share that “social” information. When Debby roared through, was there damage? When the wild boars were roaming last year, what areas sustained damage? Who has sold a condo? What KP activities have been lots of fun? What ones were “disappointments.”

    The residents need a way to communicate with other residents. It’s especially important for snowbirds who have to depend on the grapevine route to get information when we’re more than 1200 miles away. So July 6th, I created a Facebook “page” called “Kings Point Sun City Center Residents.” Hopefully this new resource will become a useful way to find out what’s happening.

    For those few who don’t belong to Facebook, you’ll need to sign up. (Facebook is a wonderful resource and can be very private if you restrict who sees what you post.)

    Once you’re a facebook member, go to and sign in. Your “status” page will open. You’ll see a blue stripe at the top with the word “facebook” on the left side. In that same blue stripe area, there’s a “search” box labeled, “search for people, places and things.” In that search area, type in “Kings Point Sun City Center Residents” (minus the quotes) and you’ll be be able to go to Kings Points’ new residents page.

    Or you can just go to

    On that page, if you click the thumbs up “like” icon, you’ll be “subscribed” to the page. That means the comments members post will show up on your personal Facebook status page so it’ll be easy to follow what folks are saying. Or if you don’t want to “like us” you can just stop in to check on what’s happening.

    Please give it a try. And please spread the word to other Kings Point residents (fulltime or snowbirds) who would be interested. If you want to quote this message, that’s fine with me.

    It’s brand new (just started yesterday), so there aren’t many members yet, but the only way it’ll grow is if we all work to spread the word.

    And when you have fun (either at your Florida or your northern home) let us know. Tell us about the stuff we’re missing. It’s what friends and neighbors do.

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    We had the best weekend!!

    white lake gathering
    Friday we took off for White Lake, MI, to spend the weekend with our generous hosts Caroline & Stephen and Richard & Shelly. Michiganders who live in our Florida community of Kings Point, Sun City Center, FL, and are our social friends while in Florida, were invited. There were 15 of us: eight in the one house and seven in the other.

    The newspapers being held up are issues of a Florida publication, “News of Kings Point.”

    Friday night we enjoyed a great meal at Richard & Shelly’s followed by a phenomenal fireworks display and then a bonfire back at the Coopers. A few of us stayed up until the wee hours talking. Fascinating people!

    Saturday we seemed to eat non-stop. We all went kayaking. Several had never tried it, including me. (I loved it and would like to get one or two for us to use in Michigan and maybe eventually a couple of them for Florida.) There was a Rummikub game and lots of chitchat. Ate some more, took a sunset pontoon boat ride with a back-drop of lots of fireworks off in the distance. We ended the night with another bonfire.

    This morning we nibbled (still too full from yesterday to eat a meal). One by one/couple by couple, the guests left. We were last. It was nice to have some time with Caroline and Stephen. The more time we spend with them, the more I enjoy their company.

    Fortunately most of the group will be at the Evart/ODPC Funfest.

    I realize that when we get to our Florida condo, not all of this group will have arrived, but we’ll be closer to another “reunion.”

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    We’ve been following the progress of Debbie, the tropical storm which is stuck over central to northern Florida.

    Here’s what we read from a Sun City Center community newsletter dated June 25th:

    It’s Been Raining Here

    We’ve had lots of rain — I have lived here 21 years and have never seen anything like it. As of 11:45 a.m. this whole Tampa Bay area came under a Tropical Storm Warning; a tornado was reported in Seminole (Pinellas County) I called around to several places around noon with this result:
    1. The Security Patrol says there are several streets (“the usual suspects”) that are flooded, but none of the Sun City Center streets is impassable — they advised drivers to proceed very slowly and “stay on the high side”.
    2. The Community Association reports no problems with its buildings or property on the Central Campus; we should give lawn bowling greens time to recover once the rain ends. On the South Campus, the tennis courts, pickle ball and volley ball courts should not be used for a couple of days at least — the horseshoe pits and softball field would benefit from lack of use until the rain has stopped for a day or more.
    3. Hillsborough County is making filled sandbags available to the elderly/disabled public at 8718 Old Big Bend Road in Gibsonton. Sandbag materials will be available to those physically able to make their own. Additionally, each citizen will sign their name and provide their home address acknowledging the receipt of 25 sandbags or less.
    4. The Information Center is closed today. Giving tours to visitors during a Tropical Storm Warning violated common sense.

    The rain is supposed to hang around the rest of the week.

    The photo says it all.

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    Doing Nothing!

    We’ve been doing “nothing.” I haven’t left the house since last Friday. Haven’t been out of the house except to shake the dust mop for three or four days. (It’s been too hot to venture out.)

    Next week will be busy busy! We both have doctor appointments Monday (same doctor/same time). On Tuesday we’ll drive to Houghton Lake to visit John’s elderly aunt with his five siblings (six brothers or sisters plus mates.) Wednesday John and I will be hosting a Haithco Concert with our dulcimer club (the start of the 20th year of concerts in the park!!!) Thursday our subdivision is having an “association” dinner/meeting at a nice restaurant in St. Charles. Friday afternoon we head to White Lake for a visit.

    White Lake? you ask. What’s in White Lake?

    Caroline & Stephen Cooper and Shelly & Richard Brooks will be hosting a bunch of folks who live in Kings Point (Sun City Center, FL) during the winter months. I believe the crowd will include Wayne & Linda Conklin, Cindy & Mike Baker, Bob & Sherry Walker, Sharon Nead & Dave DeVires, and maybe others. It should be loads of fun. We’ll hang out in the water, and eat when hungry. I hope someone puts on a recording we can line dance to. I’m sure some will want to play Rumicube and some will just lounge in the sun and talk or read.

    Friday night (the 29th) the White Lake community will put on a wonderful fireworks show. We attended the 2011 event and it was glorious!

    The Coopers have invited us to stay several days but we may not hang around as long as some because we need to pack for the ODPC Evart Funfest (aka THE dulcimer festival) since we’re leaving on the 10th for that gathering and we’ll be gone until the 22nd or 23rd!

    So this week we’re resting up for up-coming fun.

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    I’ve been corresponding with a fellow who lives in another Vesta Community in Florida. He saw my post about how smoking restrictions in Florida are less effective than in Michigan and leave much to be desired in our Kings Point community. This is the information I posted back in early April which he used as ammunition for his fight in his community: Florida’s smoking policies don’t go far enough

    This fellow took my arguments to his Vesta board and today he received word that smoking is banned from the pool, kitchen, and dinning areas in his community.

    He sent me the confirmation the message he received from Vesta.


    In Kings Point we need to get management on our side. We don’t need the smoke interfering with our breathing. The average age in Kings Point is 74. Do you think the average 74 year old needs smoke in his breathing routine? Hope our community “gets it.”

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    We’re spoiled by Florida’s early activities. Last night we went out for a fish dinner at the Moose Lodge. We thought we’d make a fun night of it and expected that we could go from there to an outdoor dance/concert (featuring a local band Ceyx). Although I wasn’t sure of the start time, I was pleased when we entered the Apple Mountain Golf Club grounds because there was a large sign saying “7pm fun begins.” (It was about 6:30.) As we waited, we realized the band hadn’t arrived. We finally got in a conversation with a couple near us (as they were packing up to leave). We questioned their departure and found that the music wouldn’t start until 8:00! (In Florida, most activities we attend are over by 8:00 or 9:00.)

    Our conversation continued with this couple (approximately our age.) We explained our frustration because we can’t find any dances in the area. The gentleman said, that the Moose Lodge is known for line dances. We never hang around after dinner at the Moose, so this came as a surprise.

    Finally at 8:00 the music started. It was obvious that the crowded dance floor wasn’t going to be a place for us. No line dancing, no ‘lectric slide, no country two-step, not even any waltzes nor foxtrots. The music was good but not what we were looking for (and the cement floor was going to be rough on John’s back.)

    So about 8:15 we packed up and left for the Moose Lodge hoping that the fellow we’d spoken to had been correct.

    The parking lot of the lodge was encouraging, but we soon discovered that karaoke was the entertainment of the evening. The quiet drinkers waited their turn to take the mic. No rowdy encouragement as we witness in Florida.

    We were home by 8:45.

    Our Friday night venture for fun and entertainment had flopped. Oh, well at least we got out.

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    Again and Again!

    new driveI’m a computer junkie (just ask John). And over the years there have been a few times when my system crashed and lost all my data which then took me weeks to recover. In the worst cases, I never got everything back.

    Admittedly my current system is more stable (knock on wood) so it’s been a while. I’m very cautious. I run an excellent virus protection program, but that only stops “invasions” from outside. I do complete system checks on a weekly basis. (Do you know how to run sys check?)

    I know from experience that sometimes the computer itself malfunctions – like a car that has mechanical problems. Believe me, I can’t take a chance! I work too hard creating workshop programs or doing websites to have to start over.

    Therefore two years ago this coming August, I bought a fancy (aka “expensive”) Seagate Black Armor NAS 110 external 2TB hard drive which I thought would run daily automatic back-ups and I’d be protected. (A picture of it is to the immediate left.)

    It did work for a while (maybe a month), but I can’t begin to tell you how much time it took. I was on with Seagate’s customer service for HOURS upon HOURS (sometimes from 9-9, prior to getting it to work “automatically.” It was quirky and difficult and then it quit. Fatigued, I decided to let it go for awhile.

    But I couldn’t give up. I’d spent too much. I’d whined too much. I’d bragged too much. (And I’d even accepted a partial contribution toward the hard drive from the Original Dulcimer Players Club, one of the websites I host and needed to back-up.)

    Before I left for Florida last October, determinedly I started over, cleared everything out, and ran a complete new back-up.

    I couldn’t use my computer for a several days while it ran (because along the way I had discovered that while it was doing a full back-up the computer couldn’t be used for ANYTHING else), but I did get what I thought was back-up file that I was complete and could be restored. Sadly that that was the only back-up which was successful. I couldn’t get the automatic feature to work when I got to Florida and I certainly didn’t want to waste my precious sunshine-time trying to do computer back-ups. Therefore the Seagate back-up drive was stored away “just in case,” but as time passed it got further and further out of date.

    Now, I’m back in Michigan, with more available time, and I figured I’d start over again. For about six hours yesterday I monkeyed with the installation of the Seagate hard drive. I erased everything and thought I had it scheduled to run the “first back-up” today at 10:00 a.m. but, as before, it didn’t work.

    I need a back-up! I may not use it often, but I do want to have something to fall back on.

    After considering all options, I came up with a solution that is simple.

    I have manually backed up all of my photos to a directory on the huge external hard drive (2TB) and I manually backed up the file section of my computer’s drive which includes all the websites and workshop information. It’s true that only the files were copied and nothing will automatically update. But with a good, full back-up, I’ll try to be diligent adding to the data at least weekly. If I copy just the changed “files,” it shouldn’t be too much trouble.

    The huge hard drive 2TB is still valuable when doing it this way.

    It’s the old fashioned “do-it-manually” method, but a back-up will be there if I have a problem. No, in the event of a crash, it won’t let me reload every program which I have installed and put me back where I was with a simple stroke, but I probably wouldn’t want to do it that way anyway. If my computer crashes, I’d probably buy a different computer, and install just the programs I use all the time. (AND most of the time programs work better if installed from the original disks.) I would want to install the programs then copy the files which are my work-product to a new computer. (Example, if I use Word, I need the Word files I’ve created. If I use Microsoft Streets and Trips I need the route files. Photos and videos are also important. I want to make sure those are always backed up. This new back up method can do it provide I’m diligent!!

    I’m still reviewing and adding to what is stored. I hope when I am satisfied that I have everything, a regularly created back-up will be fairly simple to maintain. I am determined to stay on top of it!! At least now I know it’s something I can manage without counting on the device to run and back-up from my computer. (Should have done it this way before wasting all that time!!)

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    On and On

    Back on June 3rd I was appointed to be a Vice President for the Original Dulcimer Players Club. It hasn’t worked out. Holding a board position is nothing like I had hoped. I saw myself as a valuable addition who could help influence the board, instead I now know I’m the “monkey wrench.” I am totally discouraged.

    Oh, well… I guess that’s life but I am sad about it.

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    Smells fresh

    When we got back to Michigan on May 8th, our house smelled stale. No one had occupied it for seven months and you could tell. It didn’t help that when we turned on the heat the musty basement smell became pervasive. The place was dirty and dusty but I was way too sick to care. It took me over three weeks to get over my pneumonia. I’m still much weaker than normal, but improving every day.

    The past few days I’ve had the windows open and I’ve been cleaning. I feel so much better, and as my energy returns, I am tackling the grime gradually.

    It’s nice to have sparkling windows. I enjoy seeing the dust bunnies in the trash. I haven’t even finished the main floor (so upstairs is waiting), and what I’ve done is far from perfect, but it’s lots better than it was. I wash a window then rest. Then another window and rest. Then the grill gets polished and …. well you get the idea.

    Gradually… little by little… the goal of a clean house is being accomplished. With my energy so limited, there’s no way I could dive in and get it all done in a day or even a week, but by taking small nibbles out of the chore, it’s finally beginning to show.

    I’d still love a cleaning lady, but as long as I can do the work gradually, I can handle it, and John is really helpful.

    We even took some time to set on the deck and enjoy the beautiful weather today. It was nice.

    Hope I soon get enough energy back so we can see if we can find a dance. I miss going to dances like we do when we’re in Florida.

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    My labor of love!

    Since January, I have been working with my wonderful workshop leaders to create a workshop program which will be used for the huge ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) Funfest. The instructors have volunteered their time and talent and I have organized the classes into a 20-page program.

    You can check it out at:

    ODPC Workshop Program

    You don’t have to be a dulcimer player to attend the festival. You can see that lots of classes are devoted to other instruments and some are even listed for non-players. There are concerts, discussions, and a fun hammer throw. But the majority of the classes instruct hammered dulcimer, which is the focus of the festival.

    The price of the 3 1/2 day festival ($5) is an unbelievable bargain. But, I’d say that if you aren’t a fan of traditional music, the festival is probably not going to be your “thing.” You’ll soon grow weary of constant music and wonderful people who love it.

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    Ok, what do I write about?

    Past time for another post.

    I’ve been trying to think of a topic that would be enlightening. I’ve thought of several:

    How I love the “wrapped in warmth” feeling that you get in a fluffy bed, a tepid swimming pool, or at night on a golf cart when it’s really about 75 degrees.
    How I love the ripples on our lake and that feeling of motion.
    Trying to lose weight when you don’t feel up to par.
    How urine smells funny when you eat asparagus.
    How aging is like “running downhill.”

    Yup, I have lots of “choices.” I guess most tell the whole story with just the subject.

    So what do I write about?

    I’ve put it off as I try to figure out what has the most impact.

    I guess I haven’t resolved it out yet. So I’ll leave my ideas and say, there’s more to come…

    Stay tuned….

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    Where’d It Come From?

    About a week ago my Droid (smartphone) leather case disappeared.

    We’d gone to dinner with friends and I figured I’d left it in the restaurant but since we’d made other stops, I couldn’t be sure. After scouring the house and determining that it was definitely lost, I replaced it with an identical one purchased on eBay for $4 (which included shipping).

    The new case arrived a couple days ago. It’s identical to the first one with a magnetic clasp — Perfect for my use.

    Today I spotted my original case on the floor beside my chair. (The new one was on the table.) Both of them are here!! Where was it when I was looking for it? How did it just appear? Where’d it come from? Did it drop from the sky?

    I’m at a loss.

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    It turned COLD!

    Tonight it’s going to get down to 41 degrees!! (Today’s high is only in the mid-60’s.) There are places in Michigan with a FREEZE WARNING for tonight. Unbelievable! Two days ago it was over 90!

    The predicted weather will keep it cool for the next four days. Guess that gives me an excuse to stay inside. (Which I’d be doing anyway.)

    If we were in Florida we’d be experiencing weather in the 90’s. Makes me yearn for the sunny South.

    Last night I was working on our “return trip” schedule for October.

    I’ve always been a “planner.” Planning was my career when I worked with for the hospital. It’s my “thing.” Being a Hospital Planner meant that I did strategic planning for services the hospital wished to acquire or expand. Detail was my thing. Now I direct that “detail planning” to the organization of workshops for the ODPC festival and for our trips to Florida.

    I enjoy the preparation and have my packing lists prepared as well as our return trip mapped out.

    Sure there’s a good chance things will change, but I don’t mind. In fact, even when we’re on our return trip, we’ll be flexible about making it a two or three day trip back.

    Last year, instead of stopping the second night in Georgia, we kept on going and made to our condo about 9:00 p.m. We may do the same thing this year.

    If we do the three-day return, our second night stop would be Valdosta, GA, with a great dinner at “Georgia’s best buffet” but if we feel up to it, we can cancel our motel reservations and just keep going. (We will need to decide before 4:00 if we have reservations at the motel.)

    If we do that, we’ll probably grab a carry-out pizza at Sun City Center’s Hungry Howie’s on our way to the condo and enjoy our meal “at home.” It would be great to wake up in our own bed Sunday morning. (Personally that’s what I’d prefer, but it’ll depend on the weather, traffic, and other factors which we can’t foresee but would influence our decision.)

    I’m sure by 3:00 on our second day, we’ll know if we want to keep on going, or stop for the night. Our arrival is currently planned for October 7th (but with luck it’ll be the 6th).

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    Sick for THREE weeks

    I’m slowly improving but still a long way from feeling “right.” I’m so “worn out.”

    I was on antibiotics for seven days, but even with strong meds, I am not myself.

    I have a strange symptom. When I went to see Dr. Indira last Monday, she noticed that the left side of my neck is swollen. I couldn’t see what she was talking about, but it got worse. By about Friday I could easily see that it’s puffy. It seems to be worse in the morning. It’s slowly going down, but it’s still puffy.

    I’ll go back to the doctor Wednesday. By then I’ll have been off the antibiotics for three days. My whole system is messed up but I hope that now that I’ve completed the treatment plan, I’ll start feeling more energetic. I sure hope so. This is for the birds!!

    On the positive side, I have been plugging away at the ODPC workshop program and I’ve accomplished a lot. I sent the first draft of the descriptions to my proof reader, Nancy, Saturday. She’s a blessing!

    Today I’ve been trying to organize an alphabetical index.

    Once Nancy gives me the necessary changes, I’ll fix the problems and then put the “page breaks” in. Eventually the program will be a massive 20 pages. It’s a challenge, but since I haven’t felt good (incredibly weak and vulnerable), it was something I could do without being physical.

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    Finally went to a pulmonogist

    Monday –

    My condition hasn’t improved much. I still have a cough, I’m worn out and even slight exertion leaves me winded. Dr. Indira, John’s pulmonologist, let me schedule an appointment at the same time John was seeing her. She realized how sick I was. She put me on an antibiotic and immediately sent me for a chest x-ray. There’s a little congestion in one lung. The antibiotic will knock it out. I should have gone in sooner but kept thinking I could fight it off on my own.

    Right now I’m at Walmart waiting for my ‘script to be filled. Nothing like waiting when you feel rotten to add to your misery. They’re really backed up. But I’ll be patient.


    Tuesday –

    I’m now fan of prescribed drugs. Yesterday, my pulmonologist (actually she’s John’s but now I can claim her too) put me on a strong antibiotic, Avelox. I’ll take it for seven days total (so I’m only two days into the schedule.) I can honestly say that I am feeling human for the first time in over two weeks.

    I am still weak as a kitten with absolutely no energy, but at least today I managed to unpack a few more items, and work on the descriptions of workshops for the ODPC. When Dr. Indira checked me, my left lung gurgled a little so I guess I needed to visit the specialist. Now after only two days, I feel the antibiotics are really helping. I’ll have to go back to her next next week, but hopefully by then, I’ll be fine. Yeah! for prescribed drugs (when needed)!

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    Strangers in a Crowd

    Today we went to a benefit dinner. Over 200 people were present. The crowd of folks were mainly our age and we were in the community where John and I have lived for over 25 years, but we could honestly say that not one person looked familiar to us. Here we were 10 miles from home, at a gathering of our peers, and not one was a friend, nor even a casual acquaintance.

    It’s so different when we’re in Florida. Rarely do we go to the grocery store, church, or Home Depot that we don’t run into folks we know. If we go to one of our favorite restaurants even in another nearby town, our friends are there. When we go to Busch Gardens, as large as it is, we almost always see folks who are part of our circle of friends. But, here in Michigan where we both grew up, we don’t know a soul.

    I miss the friendly community feel of our Florida area.

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    Feeling better

    I’ve been really sick! Can’t remember feeling worse but with beautiful weather and John’s excellent care, I’m doing much better now. Just wish I could get rid of this deep cough but every day I am improving.

    Today John and I will meet with his siblings at a family restaurant in Elsie, MI. They try to get together every month. Obviously, because we were in Florida, we’ve missed getting together with them, but we’ll be there today at 12:30.

    Then at 4:30, we’re going to a $100 per ticket buffet dinner. George, John’s good friend, had the ticket and couldn’t use it, so he gave it to us. Sounds like we won’t go hungry today. I just hope I can keep going all day. I’m still very weak!

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    Finally I feel the three daily (grids) schedules for the ODPC festival are close to completion. It took an unbelievable amount of energy to schedule the workshops this year. Being sick made it difficult, but it was made needlessly tougher by folks who inconsiderately let me complete the whole schedule before they cancelled classes they’d agreed to instruct. It took me an extra eight hours or more to fix the schedule after they withdrew.

    I finished at about 5:30 today. Pooped and discouraged!!!

    Of course, the three daily schedules are just a small part of the 16-page workshop program. I have 13 pages yet to tackle! But the remaining of the “program” is, for the most part, just a huge typing job. Yes, it takes a lot of cross-checking, and it’s difficult to fit all of the classes under the appropriate category titles, but I feel by accomplishing the three daily grids, I’ve just climbed a mountain.

    I’ve forwarded what I’ve completed to my wonderful proof-reader, Nancy. She’ll do her magic, while I work on the descriptions of the classes.

    And if I haven’t said so enough, I need to thank John for caring for the house, and helping me in every other way so I can bury myself in the scheduling of the classes. He definitely makes it possible.

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    Today I received this email message from our good friend, Shelly:

  • Shelly’s video message
  • The cat says: “Hi Sharon. Hi John. Oh, I’m at the pool and your not here. What gives? Oh, well.. Shelly and Richard left today too. The pool is empty. What’s the sense? Can’t wait until you guys all return. Bye.”

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    In Florida, the comfortable dress-code for Florida men is short pants. A huge majority of the fellows wear shorts almost everywhere (except church and formal gatherings).

    John was a reluctant hold-out. It’s taken me years to get him to accept the idea that he looks great in shorts. This year, he finally became comfortable in them and finally went with the majority.

    Now that we’re Michigan and it’s cool, of course he’s back in long pants. I’m wondering, when it heats up here, if I’ll have to start over convincing him that it’s ok to wear shorts. I wonder if, when we get back to Florida, he’ll again resist displaying his good looking knees.

    Time will tell.

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    The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

    Being back in Michigan hasn’t been very pleasant so far. We’ve only been home about three days and I’ve been so sick that I feel that I’ve merely existed.

    But now that I am beginning to recover, I’m looking around and I’m finding what I’ve always known, that this place is really lovely.

    Our little lake is beautiful. Unlike our “pond” in Florida, we’re close enough to the water here so we can watch the currents. The ripples, birds, breezes, and signs of “energy” are always present and moving.

    Multiple varieties of maple trees fill our yard. (We have crimson red, lots of sugar, and several I can’t name.)

    Our fruit trees are past the flower stage. The small apples, peaches and pears are growing.

    A little bird has been seen entering the wren house John put near the grape arbor. It appears to be a sparrow, but seems a little small for that breed (but too big for a wren).

    The grass is lush and green. (Unlike the coarse prickly stuff that grows in Florida.)

    The mosquitoes seem to be under control. (We have a mosquito abatement program in our county and two or three other surrounding counties).

    But in the house, there is lots of work to be done.

    I can honestly say I’m glad to be home.

    I’ve been sleeping quite well.

    I haven’t gotten bored or lonesome yet because I have so much to do (especially since the festival workshop program needs to be completed.)

    Once I complete the workshop program, I have several projects I’d like to tackle, but first I need to feel better. At this point I’m still barely functioning but I’m better today than I was yesterday.

    Life is good, even if I’m still sick.

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    Staring me in the face

    I am way behind schedule working on the program of workshops for the ODPC Funfest.

    I had hoped to complete the schedule of classes during the 1,300 mile (three day) trip returning from Florida, but I was too sick to tackle something that detailed. Even if I’d felt better, the inverter I use in the car to keep my computer battery charged quit working so, once the battery ran down, I didn’t have access to my computer.

    Workshops are a huge chore.

    I did do a little yesterday, but it’s hard to accomplish much between racking coughs.

    Of course, right now I’m also faced with unpacking.

    And once I get caught up on the workshops and unpacking, I realize I need to purge our house of junk and clutter. I need to start with the upstairs. The computer room is no longer used for that purpose, the balcony room is filled with junk, and the guest room closet should be cleaned out.

    But first things first. I need to concentrate on feeling better, and when I have the energy I need to work on the workshops. The rough schedule MUST be complete within the next week.

    It’s easy to be over-whelmed especially when you don’t feel well. I am improving slowly, but still really sick.

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    We’re home. Arrived yesterday afternoon. Our lawn was covered with branches and long grass, and the house is in need of a good cleaning.

    Already John has the lawn looking good after mowing and raking it but the house is going to have to wait until I recover.

    I am still under-the-weather with no energy at all. I have a deep, productive cough that scares me because it sounds so bad. But at least today I am slightly better and the blinding headache I had for three days has lessened.

    I am amazed that I’ve forgotten so many things. Being gone over seven months has definitely clouded my memory.


    I went to use the waste basket under the kitchen sink. Without thinking, I opened the door on the left side because that’s where the waste goes when we’re in Florida but here it’s on the right. The garbage disposal is also switched. Left here; right in Florida. I keep throwing garbage into the right drain. It seems to just be automatic.

    TV channels?? I can’t recall the active channels here in Michigan. We don’t have cable here, so our channels are limited. I have trouble sorting out the major channels in my mind. Is CBS channel 5 or 25? (They switched a couple of years ago.) And there are two remotes in the bedroom. Which remote controls what?

    I went to get a drink of water from the dispenser on the refrigerator door, but there isn’t one on this refrigerator. (There is in Florida.)

    So many little things. Did I store the antihistamines in the drawer in the vanity or in the cabinet in the bathroom?

    Do we need to buy toilet paper, or do I have some squirreled away?

    Do I have any warm clothes here? (I’m freezing.)

    Where’d I store the extra towels? Oh, ya, upstairs in the guest bathroom.

    Where did I put my lingerie? I took most of my unmentionables with me, but I think some were left here? Where?

    In the fall we left behind toothbrushes. They look new. But neither of us could remember which color was John’s and which was mine so they were tossed.

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