Fruit Flies

John’s been making his wine from grapes he grew and paring apples for applesauce using our home-grown apples. The results are always great but the fruit flies are swarming. They’re too fast and tiny to swat but they sure are annoying. Love the wine. Enjoy the applesauce. Don’t like the flies.

John does everything he can to discourage them but nothing works. He’s put dishes of vinegar and dish detergent on the counter, put water bubblers in the spouts of the fermenting grape juice, and scrubbed continuously.

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Finding Help

In the U.P. we found a guy named Guy who helps us maintain the property by taking down trees, etc. His service has really been a life-saver.

Our Saginaw property is a lot more work and John has tried to do it all himself. It’s too much for him (us). The past few years we’ve hired a lawn service to clean up our leaves after we leave for Florida, but there’s more than needs to be done.

Yesterday we found a fellow who helps our next door neighbors with their yard. His rates are very reasonable and today he’ll help John with a project he started last year (building a retaining wall maintain the lakeshore.) He may not be able to do the leaf clean-up, but John will see where he can use him.

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Preparing for “Next Time”

We escaped without any damage from Irma but next time we might not be as lucky. We will do something about our windows so we don’t have to worry. Either I’d like to see hurricane shutters that I can put up, or hurricane rated windows. We also need to find a way that someone can check on our place.

Eventually, I hope we aren’t going back and forth so the likelihood will be greater. I’m convinced that the global warming effect will create more events like Harvey and Irma.

And I feel it’s important to get a portable light-weight generator. John needs something to back-up his batteries. He feels that he could re-charge in the car and the need to store extra gas would be difficult.

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We came through Irma without damage

According to Helen Ann, the neighbor at the opposite end of our four-unit building, our place came through unscathed. We didn’t lose power, so our refrigerator should be ok. She said she has original windows and they held up fine. I’m sure ours did too. We’ll hear, if friends see anything wrong.

If there was damage, I was thinking about making a trip by myself. Instead we’ll proceed with our plans to leave here on the 6th and arrive by the 8th. Let’s hope it doesn’t get extremely hot because there could be a little moisture which would mean mold.

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Am I’m Going Crazy?

I’ve been watching things closely, using live feeds from the Tampa TV channels. As a result, I have created a strange mental state. I keep looking out my window here in Michigan and wondering why there’s no sign of the approaching storm. My anxiety is over the top!

I wonder if it’s normal.

Today is our anniversary but my concern over the storm has made me reluctant to leave home where I can watch the reports.

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Where are our weak spots, if the hurricane hits our condo?

Our condo has a great roof and has been checked for wind mitigation, so it’s probably safe.

We have a total of seven windows in our condo. Actually the one window is a 9′ sliding hurricane-proof three-panel door in the great room. It should be secure, but it has never been tested in a storm. There is another new window in the great room but it doesn’t have the same high rating against wind. It would probably do ok, since it meets new standards. That leaves five other windows. Two of them are tall and skinny and protected by the lanai roof. I don’t worry about them. But there is a window in each of the bedrooms. The one in the master bedroom is pretty good sized and it’s original. It faces west and could be vulnerable. The guest bedroom’s window is smaller, and faces east. The dining room has one about the same size as the guest room on the north side. Depending on the wind direction, I’m most concerned about the master bedroom window. It air leaks and should have been replaced when we did the great room. The dining room and guest room somehow don’t seem as risky.

John’s worried that our lanai, especially the addition without screens could lift up and we’d lose it. We have a really tall palm tree outside the dining room. It might be shredded.

For several years, we have been babying a bird of paradise plant. It’s about three feet tall and fragile.

Our “safe rooms” are the two bathrooms and the office. No windows and on the inside.

The garage door might not be very strong. It faces east.

If we have a power failure our refrigerator will go out. In refrigerated part we leave condiments, but the nothing that would spoil. The freezer area would have some protein so it might smell. It’ll be bad by the time we get there in 30 days. Maybe we can leave earlier. Or maybe we can pay someone to go in and dump out our refrigerator.

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Abandoned Condo

As Irma approaches, I’m glad we are safe in Michigan but I can’t help but feel that we’re missing something memorable. I pray all of our friends and every Kings Point resident is safe, but I feel almost neglectful and traitorous because I’m not there in my favorite community to keep my home safe and protected.

I love the people of Kings Point. Our condo is “home” to me. It’s my haven.

It seems that we should be there to protect our place. Probably there’s little we could do but it somehow feels we’ve abandoned the place I love most.

Our refrigerator was left running. There’s stuff in the freezer that will smell, if power is lost for any length of time. If we’d stayed behind, we’d have made ice blocks to keep it chilled. We’d be watching the vulnerable windows.

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Praying for friends in Florida

I remember when Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda, Florida, in 2004. I was a good friend of Mary Lou Orthey who lived on the Peace River in Punta Gorda. We exchanged emails as the water overflowed the river and created a mess. When the flooding got bad, she wrote that she was sitting in her living room watching the water rise. She said, “My feet are wet. The Peace River is flowing through my living room. Hope it doesn’t go any higher.”

There were several storms that year that came through Florida. Each one affected her with winds and rain. She finally headed north (to her son’s house) to get away while contractors rebuilt her house. Coincidentally yet another late-arriving storm diverted her plane when she was heading back to her Florida home. She really felt the storms had zeroed in on her.

I couldn’t help but think of Mary Lou’s situation when I heard that our good Florida friends, Sharon & Dave, had driven north to escape the approaching massive Hurricane Irma. I hope it doesn’t follow them and they are safe.

I don’t know what we’d do if we were in Florida right now. The storm is huge and if it goes down the center of the state, it’ll affect both the east and west coast. Folks in Kings Point, Sun City Center are battening down the hatches, hoping that it stays far enough east that Sun City Center is spared.

We’re following all the projected storm tracks. My concern is growing.

If you look at the above graphic, you can see where the storm is projected to be after midnight Sunday-Monday. Our Sun City Center condo is where the star is located. It won’t be a direct hit, but it’s undoubtedly going to create a mess. I hope our windows and screened-in lanai withstand the winds which are projected to gust to about 70 miles per hour.

It’ll be bad if we do have damage. I’m sure Richard, Bill, Jan, Ron, or any of our other full-time Kings Point friends would look in on the place for us, but if the storm hits Kings Point hard, they’ll have their own problems.

Our friends, Guy and Sharrie George, appear to be in a direct-hit zone just south of Daytona Beach. Guy is an entertainer at several outdoor tiki bars/grills/restaurants on Ponce Inlet. They were still open today, so I’m sure he hasn’t left yet. Hope they are safe.

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UPDATE –

Now the projected storm’s eye will most likely be more westerly. It now appears it’ll pass nearly over Sun City Center. It’s scary!

You can see the westerly movement has probably changed the impact on Sun City Center and Kings Point.

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Paperwork and accomplishments that don’t show

Yesterday I was a “paper work” day. I wrote out our three Michigan property tax checks and mailed them, found entertainment for the Michigan Club’s pizza party (February 20th), sent a reminder to my volunteer workers for that party, and completed the disclosure papers for listing our U.P. property with a realtor. I was busy all day but it looked like I’d been idle. Not so.

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I’ve done it again

Why can’t I resist a cute bargain purchase?

This summer I have purchased a floaty sheer top, a pink top, red top, and two black ones. They’re all types I’ll enjoy wearing at parties in Florida. I also purchased a nice pair of white slacks and two skorts (black and white).

I also purchased two dresses, a pair of black low heels, a pair of black every-day sandals, flat sandals that are really stretchy and some tan casual ones. Back on July 23rd on this blog, I posted photos of some of the tops and one of the dresses. The more recent purchases are also cute.

I already know I’m sorta disappointed in the dresses and one top, but the other tops, skorts and sandals will come in handy. (You always need to wear fresh items when attending parties so I’m set!)

When we head back, I’ll leave some of the older stuff but I’ll probably be taking back more items than I brought. That’s ok, but it’ll be hard to conceal my purchases from John who never pays much attention to my clothing until it comes to packing it all in the truck.

I guess I am never satisfied but at least I shop frugally. Most of the tops were $5-$10 and I got everything (even with the four pair of sandals) for a total well under $200!

I guess I really am a “cheap date.”

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Back at our Lake Cecil home

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

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

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

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

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

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Final Cleaning

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

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

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

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Saving his dignity

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m too old for this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A summer highlight

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

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

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

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

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Take to the U.P.

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

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

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

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

Yup, I’m more than a tad lazy.

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Not especially hot here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OCD? Our finances.. Part IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OCD? Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe my OCD is rubbing off on him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I study my lists. They are long and detailed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Heading north in a couple weeks

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

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

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Memories of Snowfest and Our House Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can see a flyer for the 2006 concert below.

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August Plans

Sometime within the next couple of weeks we need to go to the Upper Peninsula to check on our place. Hopefully we’ll stay only part of a week.

Hope we miss the mosquitoes, the biting flies, and the wood ticks.

When we get there, we need to fix the screens. They fell apart last year. Literally fell apart! They were so old. One had a small hole which tried to cover with tape. As I worked, I realized that screen had two or three or a dozen and when I touched the screen, more would appear. Screen by screen they dissolved from age.

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Florida Guests

This afternoon we got a call from Joannie Franz. She, Shelly and Caroline who were headed back to Cooper’s and they wanted to stop at our place.

We had a great visit.

It was so nice to have some of our Florida friends in our house. I can’t remember when we’ve had any guests.

They were very complimentary about our place. And, since they know we want to sell our place, they had excellent suggestions.

For example, we’d been thinking we need to “fix up our house” but they suggested that instead we set a price and offer a reduction by xxx dollars equal to what we think would help with a “remodel.” That way the buyer can buy (and feel they’ve gotten a deal) and the remodel would suit their tastes.

Shelly, who sold her place last year, suggested that set it up for sale before we leave in October (2017) and we list it for April 2018.

Someone also suggested that we hire an estate sale business rather than having a “garage” sale. Caroline said, “Hire someone to do the work, don’t do it yourself.”

I mentioned we need to scrub dow the kitchen and she said, “Have it done by a cleaning service.”

So we came away with lots of good ideas.

As they left, they said they think our place, with it’s view, will sell quickly.

I was ready to try to prep it before we head south, but logically I realize we have a lot of clutter to get rid of. I don’t think we can do it by our departure on October 6th. ( days until we leave for Florida.) So maybe we’ll get the realtor to come to our house and look over things so we’ll know what we need to eliminate/change. Then we’ll start on that list, but finish next year when we get back. We’ll try to have it ready to sell by April 2019.

This year, we can take the suggestions of the realtor and work on them. We’ll check out the hottub to see if it still works, and purge as much as we can. Maybe we’ll hire a contractor to put the drywall back up in the basement so it doesn’t look like we had a flood.

Some precious stuff we’ll take with us to Florida in October (especially my harp that John built). I’ll try to sell some craft items on eBay, and we’ll deal with the rest next year.

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We don’t dance anymore

John’s health problem has limited his/our fun activities. We used to be the first ones on the dance floor, but now his stamina is so limited that we wouldn’t even make it to the floor. Our activities are limited.

Last night we joined his siblings for our monthly dinner and it was enjoyable, but that’s one of the few times we’ve done anything social since we returned to Michigan in early May.

I hope we can attend the parties in our Florida community. Even if we aren’t dancing, we can enjoy the company of our friends. I have put several dates on our Florida calendar: the Michigan Club welcome back party, a sportsman’s club barbeque, a Oldies but Goodies Halloween party, a Bill & Donna Elvis street party, Thursday country couples gatherings at the clubhouse, a November Michigan Club party/dinner, and in December at least two holiday dinner/dances as well as our HOA holiday dinner.

It’ll be fun to have stuff to look forward to. We will go to two-times-a-week exercise classes and probably tai chi on Mondays and Wednesdays. I vow to go to the pool at least once or twice a week. We need to do more to make life enjoyable. I love the company of my husband, but we need to be around more people.

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Have you noticed the counter?

On July 25th I added a “counter” to count down until we arrive at our condo in Florida.

I prepared it using the 8th of October as my “count-down-to” date. I could just as easily have done it showing when we leave for Florida (on the 6th of October).

Here’s what comes up when I do it that way: days until we leave for our Florida paradise.

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I am careful with my grammar

I just took a grammar quiz. The results stated:

“CONGRATULATIONS!! You ACED this quiz! WOAH!! Did you know that only 3% of Americans can get a perfect score on this grammar test? You must have a masters degree from an Ivy League. No grammar question that can fool you… Have you considered becoming an editor? Well done on your score!!”

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Count down Timer

days until we leave for Florida.

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Where’d my energy go?

I have absolutely no zip. I don’t want to “go back to bed” but I’d be happy to veg out all day on the couch. I know there is work to be done, but I keep putting it off.

Wonder how I can get motivated.

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Hooked on eBay

Last month I got rid of a lot of clothes that didn’t fit or were antiquated. I vowed not to buy more but I do recognize that my “social” wardrobe needs up-dating.

Today on eBay, I bought a cute, black, (cheap), Alfani top (see the left photo). It was about $50 off the Macy’s price. Actually with a proper matching pair of capris, pants, or a skirt, I think I can create a versatile, dressy outfit, so it’ll be wearable lots of times.

Last week (again on eBay) I found some cute medium high sandal-style heels (brand: I Love Comfort) and a colorful, Arueh bright print dress with a lot of stretch (really nice, feels like high-end fabric.) It’s the picture on the right side.

I don’t need new items while in Michigan, but in Florida, I like a variety and these were all brand new and at rummage sale prices.

eBay also provided an opportunity to pick up a new battery for my Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve had the same old battery since I bought my Kindle in 2013 and it doesn’t last like it did before. I haven’t installed it yet because here in our house, I can keep my Paperwhite plugged in, but when I want to spend a long day at the pool in Florida, I’ll need more battery life.

Earlier this summer on eBay, I did grab a couple of super cute bargain tops.. a Chico’s water colored floaty top as well as one that’s red cold-shoulder with fluttery ruffles on the sleeves.

I spent less than $100 total on EVERYTHING I’ve pictured or mentioned. John says I’m a cheap date. (Definitely not high-maintenance.) But from here on I vow I am going to avoid looking on eBay because what I have is more than significant for my needs both here and in Florida. I’m trying not to wear the new stuff very often until we head south so they’ll be extra special for parties in Florida. I did wear the water colored floaty top to a dinner last week and received several favorable comments.

The activities and our friends in Florida are why I enjoy our life in the south so much… Lots of time to look our best.

We already know we’ll be going to a bar-be-que on October 16th, the Michigan Club welcome back party on the 26th and a Baby Boomers Halloween party on the 28th. In November, we resume our weekly Thursday gatherings before Rockin’ Rendezvous, a street party, and another Michigan Club party. I don’t know yet how many holiday parties we’ll attend in December but I know there’ll be several (at least three that I’m aware of).

I’ll soon wish I’d gotten more cheap clothes.

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Is it Time?

I loved website design, but I’m not really interested in maintaining it any longer (except for my blog). I’d just as soon give up the dulcimers.com and dulcimers.biz sites. I know they’re valuable, but I don’t want to be bothered with them. They’re both out-of-date and to up-grade them would require learning new skills. I am preoccupied with our situation and can’t concentrate long enough on site design to do what I’d need to do.

Maybe I’ll advertise that I’ll sell them and see what I could get.

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Losing Weight

John likes to suggest that I lose weight but I had a good rebuttal tonight. I used what Dr. Marquez had said to me when I told him I want to lose at least 20 pounds. Dr. Marquez said, “And what happens if you get sick?”

I explained to John, if he’d been at his optimum weight a couple years ago, he’d be skin and bones now. He had a little extra to give and he’s now over 30 pounds lighter but it’s a weight he can live with.

We know of several friends our age who have lost weight because of illness (Martha and Dotty come to mind immediately). For many years, both ladies tried unsuccessfully to lose weight. Now they have because of illness. They are actually skinny. I’m sure they both know they can’t lose more and survive.

I am not saying I don’t want to lose weight, but I know I’m healthy at this level. (I’m about 138.) I have been saying I want to lose 20-25 pounds but if I lost that much, I’d be too thin and I’d look lots older. And I need a little emergency fund in case of illness. Like Dr. Marquez said, “Look around you. Bet you weigh less than most of your friends.”

Nevertheless, I know I’d feel I’d be better at least 10 pounds lighter. Maybe 125-128 would be a good goal level (10-13 pounds)

My scale took about five pounds off me when we got back from Florida. Wonder if I could get a scale that would take me down to my goal.

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Yesterday we went to Evart for the afternoon-evening

A short visit to my favorite festival, the ODPC Funfest. It seemed very different this time but maybe it was because it hasn’t officially start. Thursday, the 13th, is the first official day.

I was glad we went, but wish I’d come away feeling that it’ll always be the Evart we love. Instead we both felt it had “changed.”

Several workshop leaders brought their complaints to me and I listened, but obviously there’s nothing I can do and change is inevitable. Things like a different balance of instruments (which was always 50% hammered dulcimer and 50% all other instruments combined), no “festival ribbons” (instead wrist bands), a drastic change in admission fee.

The jamming was almost non-existant. We did hear a few tunes coming out of the rabbit barn, but that was all. (Of course we left about 6:45 so most hadn’t started.)

But friends are still friends and a lot of nice people welcomed us with open arms. Some things never change.

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First time we’ll missed the ODPC Funfest in 26 years

We hope to drive up to the Evart fairgrounds Wednesday, but probably we won’t attend the actual festival which starts Thursday.

With John’s health problems, it’s too exhausting for him. We started going in 1991 and have never missed. That’s 26 years but John is more important.

We’ll drive up, visit with the Conklins and others.

We can’t take the 5th wheel. It’s too difficult to set up, hook up, and take down.

If we can figure a way John can work out the problem with his oxygen, we may go back on Saturday but he only has about six hours of battery life. We’ll see how Wednesday works.

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His heart’s strong

John went to his Saginaw cardiologist on Tuesday and was told that he has a great heart.

I could have told them that!

We were worried that he may be doing damage to it by “doing too much.” The doctor said his heart can take anything he dishes out.

A year or so ago, he was told by a different doctor that he won’t die of heart problems. It’ll be his lungs that kill him. Sadly we both realize that his lungs are deteriorating. Hopefully we can keep him breathing for many years, but it’s getting tougher.

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Don’t have any energy

I think my digestive system is finally “settling down.” I have a good day and then a bad day, but the bad days aren’t as pronounced. I am gradually feeling better. Unfortunately I have no zip or energy. Wonder what is ailing me?

John has had it too. His also comes and goes. Since we both had it, I tend to think it’s a bug.

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Rainy Saturday

Right now it’s raining but weather reports say that it’ll break up early this afternoon.

Neither John nor I have felt good this week. We both had stomach/digestive problems.

Hopefully I’m feeling better and maybe I can get busy and clean up some of the clutter around here. The utility room is my target today.

(John’s thinking about getting a cat. If we get one, her litter will go in the utility room so I need to clean it out.)

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Following my example….

After my mother, who had alzheimers died, Kelly (my daughter) told me I’d showed her how to act as a daughter. (I hope she never has to care for me that way, but it was good to see that she learned that lesson.)

Maybe my role now is to show all my wonderful friends how to be a wife to a husband who has a terminal illness.

I hope they realize that love evolves. When your partner has a serious or terminal health condition, you adapt.

John has always been a strong, viral man. It’s hurt him deeply to be reduced to breathing through a machine and waiting for me to get a handicapped assist cart before we try to go into a grocery store.

We can’t dance any more. He even has problems getting enough breath to talk, but I love him as much now as when he was healthy.

I know he needs me (although sometimes it’s hard for him to acknowledge that). I understand that I’m now providing the physical strength he no longer possesses. I am no youngster. I’m 75. I am weaker than I would have been a few years ago, but I am trying to do what is required of me.

I wonder if Shelly realizes that she might someday need to support Richard, or Linda realizes that Ron might someday need her help in every way. Sherry and Bob are perfect together, but does she understand that she may someday have to try to lift him, if he can’t stand up? Dave and Sharon are younger so the problems are less likely, but do they realize that life isn’t always as easy as what they’re experiencing now?

Maybe that’s our role in life to show others the strength they will need when life changes. Maybe, like in my situation when my mother developed alzheimers, it’ll be your mother who needs your help, or maybe your partner won’t be as as healthy as they once were. You just step up and do it.

I want those who will follow to watch me, because I plan to be a “good example.”

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Tomorrow We’ll have been in Michigan ONE MONTH

In less than four months we should be back in Florida. I can’t say that I’m enjoying 2017 in Michigan, but maybe it’ll improve once we finish the flood clean-up. (We’re getting close.)

I can see so many things that we need to do here. The deck toward the lake is an absolute mess. The yard looks horrid, and the house isn’t as clean as I wish it was. Oh, well….

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Politics

In our family, we try not to discuss politics.

John’s a fierce supporter of President Trump and I am exactly the reverse. It could drive a wedge between us, but we both try to avoid any political discussion.

Sometimes we’ll share funny jokes, but rarely are they brutal.

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No fun!

Since our arrival back in Michigan on May 15th, three weeks ago, we have been working to clean up our flood mess.

We did take a break on May 26th for walleye at the Moose Lodge. We also joined John’s siblings on the 31st for a nice family dinner in Owosso. We’ve been to the dentist and John’s been to his pulmonologist’s office and he’s had blood work done twice. I had my hair cut and colored today. That’s it! That’s our fun.

Quite a change from Florida! I checked our calendar and just for the months of April and May we went to at least two parties a week (even though John was in the hospital from April 20th until the 25th.) We also went to tai chi and Sit and Get Fit once or twice a week each. Wherever we were, we saw people we knew. We had folks stop over. We made an effort to go to Country Couples evenings on Thursday nights, and lots of other parties. We were social.

In Florida, I became addicted to hugs. I miss our Florida friends.

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Didn’t Make It

I thought we’d be able to park a vehicle in the garage by now but it’ll be another couple of weeks. For one thing, we don’t want to just move trash. We want to get rid of it and getting rid of it means breaking it down, or bagging it up and that takes time.

Only a few items have been saved. I was surprised that my “professional” floor model steamer came through nicely. Lots of photos were spared because they were stored in a tall plastic bin. John rescued a Kirby vacuum, but I’d love to see it tossed (it’s incredibly noisy). Afghans and washable rugs were laundered and piled up. (I wish I had a place to store them, but right now they are stacked on the bed in the guest room. I salvaged a couple bins of yarn. I assume my sewing machine is ok because it was high enough but I haven’t been able to try it out so don’t know if the food pedal works. (I haven’t tried to get to my sewing machine yet because it’s behind some items the clean up crew moved to the back of the main basement room.)

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Little by Little

We’re making progress. Slow but sure.

I’ll bet within a week we’ll be able to park at least one vehicle in the garage. We still have a long way to go to be finished because we haven’t done anything in the basement. It actually feels good to be purging even some of the junk.

I fear that we haven’t been brutal enough. We should have just trashed everything, but instead we’re saving some stuff and I can see our “collection” growing again.

We have eliminated a lot of the throw-away stuff but we’ve kept some and I fear that trash will just breed more. Example – John is determined to keep a whole plastic bin of recipe books. Most of our good recipes are on my computer or on line. We don’t need a whole slew of books. To me, the only item of value is the bin.

Getting rid of basement stuff has prompted us to eliminate some other items. We’ve put a couple items on Craigs List and I’m even thinking about selling some items on eBay.

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Fish and Friends at the Moose

Last night at Saginaw Moose Lodge 82, we enjoyed the best walleye – correction the best fish, we’re had since the last time we were here. Florida may have fun activities but Michigan’s fresh-water walleye and perch are better than any fish we’ve ever had in Florida. (It’s all you can eat with extras for $10.50!)

We visited with a friendly couple (Val and Jim) we’ve seen at various country dances and at the Moose many times. They are related to a couple down the street from our house here in Dude Estates. Val was saying that she’s depressed due to several situations in her life including the recent death of her best friend.

I told her how isolated I feel in Michigan and we’ve vowed to get together.

She’s bouncy, cute, 79, with energy galore. Hope we get together.

The band started at 7:00, our favorites: the Dixie Highway Band. Russ even remembered that I love “Wagon Wheel” which they played as their first number! (We danced to it near our table.)

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Stuff we may not have found without the flooded basement

We’ve been sorting through things that were stored in our basement. Several items have turned up which we didn’t know we had. For instance, I found a bin of yarn on cones. (I had forgotten I had them.)

Today I found two large plastic bins of my sweaters. I will donate most of them (and most were very nice) to the Salvation Army. (I found three or four that I want to wear. Two were Christmas sweaters so I’ll take them south in case I need them for a holiday event. One was black (crocheted) covered with flowers with pearls in each one.)

We found a Sharp SlimCam (video recorder), a couple of unaffected suitcases, and some interesting photos. John found a nice pen.

Most of the junk just goes in large plastic bags to go to the curbside Friday.

We’re making a dent.

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It just keeps piling on

John’s attitude has been grand but I can see that the whole health situation, flood, car problems, and other challenges are getting him down.

Sunday he broke off his front tooth. It’ll be about $1,500 to replace it. So far he’s had a root canal and a temporary put in the spot.

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Death Is Nothing At All – Poem by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

(Written by Henry Scott Holland (27 January 1847 – 17 March 1918).)

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Clean-up

Our weekly garbage collection (Friday) took away a load of junk that was left when 18″ of water flooded our basement.

We also gave the seven-piece sectional to a fellow who answered our Craig’s list for-free ad as well as bunch of Christmas tree ornaments and an old card table. He was glad to take the stuff.

We burned some junk wood from the basement yesterday.

There’s still a lot of stuff left in the basement and garage but we’ve made a dent.

Some of the big items are a refrigerator and chest type freezer. We’ll get it all done, but it’ll take months.

This flood has forced John to realize that this house is a “huge burden.” (Yes, he said that.) We’ll see what happens.

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We’re back in Michigan

Made it to our place in Thomas Township (west of Saginaw) at 2:00 pm yesterday. (Monday)

We had imagined what we’d experience with the remnants of the 18″ flood. Actually it isn’t as bad as we’d feared. Yes, it is a mess with lots or ruined stuff, but the house itself doesn’t smell bad. Today we got rid of the seven piece off white sectional. We gave it away to a man and his son who were very appreciative. They are convinced that it can be spot cleaned and it is a nice, high end piece of furniture without any rips or tears.

As it turned out, the chest type freezer in our garage also died. The stuff inside it is still cold so doesn’t stink yet and tomorrow the manager of the company that did the restoration is coming back to clean it out.

As the pile of junk is reduced, even slightly, it doesn’t seem as daunting.

Tomorrow we have dentist appointments in the a.m. and Thursday we’ll go to town so John can see his Saginaw pulmonologist.

We’ll need to put a lot of stuff at the curb for pick-up Friday. We can put two large items out as well as lots of bags and garbage cans. Hopefully we can make a dent in the garage. Then there’s the mess in the basement.

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We’re on the road

It’s raining.

We’ve hoped for rain for months now because so much of Florida is a high risk for fires because of the lack of rain. Here we are nearly to the Georgia border and it’s raining pretty hard. Not helping the driving situation.

Traffic isn’t too bad. We hope to get to Marietta, GA, which is north of Atlanta. Atlanta is always a bear to drive through but might be easier on the weekend. We have found that the traffic into Atlanta is unbelievable in the morning so we’ll miss that. Then tomorrow we’d like to get to Dayton/Miamisburg, Ohio so we’re past Cincinnati for the same reason.

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Almost Ready to Leave

John had the endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy on Wednesday, May 3rd. The results weren’t officially given to him until Tuesday, the 9th. Thank heavens the news was the best we could hope for. The “tumor” ended up being a good-sized benign pseudocyst which was aspirated (drained) and now we just have to “watch it” to make sure it doesn’t regrow. He’ll have another ct scan in four weeks. Hopefully he’ll be fine.

The whole pancreatius and biopsy experience has drained his energy.

We’re packing to leave tomorrow, Saturday. It’s always tough to pack and with his weakened condition, it’s been especially tough. The heat hasn’t helped.

And then there’s been the problem with our Florida car, the Jaguar. When I had to drive him home from Tampa, we had major brake problems. Without brakes, it was even more frightening than it would have been. I was white knuckled but got us home and we are getting the brakes fixed now. (We should be able to pick up the car later today.)

We hope to take off early.

We haven’t been having much “fun” this winter/spring. On May the 4th, we did go to a party at the North Club Gazebo hosted by the Ringenbacks, the Michigan Club Kentuck Derby Party May 6th, and I attended a birthday for Caroline Cooper on May 8th at Little Harbor.

———–

Later:

Things just aren’t going our way. We got in the car so we could go pick up our Jag (it was having the brakes worked on) and the truck battery was dead. It wouldn’t start – battery was dead! Recharged it but John’ll go get a new battery. What else!!?

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If something awful happened

Last night it hit me, I am not close to anyone except John. If something happened to him, who would I call?

I used to feel I had Linda Conklin who I knew would respond anytime I needed her, but now that she’s moved away, and I haven’t spent time with “the girls” because I’ve been so busy watching after John’s health.

What if I lost John? What would I do? Who would I call?

Sweet Florida friends who have offered assistance come to mind:
Caroline Cooper
Marilyn Enge
Edie Cronin
Paul Hunt
Linda Ringenback
Sharon Nead
Valerie Whipkey
Shelly Brooks
Cindy Baker
Judy Reintsema
Ann Marie Long (neighbor)

But if I was in Michigan, who?
My brother, Denny
Uncle Martin

To be honest, I’m not very close to any of the above mentioned folks and since many of them head north part of the year, it would be hard to pinpoint any of them. I wish I’d cultivated deeper friendships. Calling someone with a serious, personal problem would be tough with any of them. I’m sure they don’t feel that personally involved with me.

Hopefully there is still time to grow closer to someone. But who? Who has really reached out to me and wanted to be closer? Probably Edie and Paul. Who do I feel most compatible with? Maybe Caroline and Marilyn. Who would be here whenever I needed them? Marilyn, Linda, Sharon, Valerie, Shelly and Judy are all “full time” Florida folks.

It’s just not in my nature to try to get close to someone for my own purposes.

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Life goes on

John has been feeling somewhat stronger.

Tomorrow he’ll have the endoscopic ultrasound at Moffitt Cancer Treatment Center. We won’t get the results for a week. Hope the outcome is positive and we can think about heading north.

Nothing has changed there. It’s warmed up some but there has been more rain. Hopefully there won’t be any mold or foul smells. We need to clear out the stuff in the garage and what’s left in the basement. At least John consented to having the yard mowed so when we get back it should look better.

I’d love to put the Saginaw place up for sale, but the way it is now, and with the present economy in that area, selling our house would be impossible. We’ll do what we can. I think even John is seeing that limiting our northern commitments would be a good move!

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More Headaches

This morning we went to Moffitt for an 8:00am appointment so we were up very early and when we got home, we were dead tired. We both fell asleep.

Late afternoon, John got a call from Moffitt. Apparently the cardiologists won’t clear him for the procedure, Wednesday, unless they see him. (We thought he was good to go because he passed a stress test and lots of heart exams while in the hospital.)

Here it was Friday late afternoon and offices about to close so we hopped on our golf cart and went rushing over to the office to make sure he’d be able to have the esophigeal ultrasound on schedule. Our golf cart died on the way.

He was so weak! And with heat at 90+ plus degrees and John decided to walk the remaining distance (about 3 city blocks) while I stayed with the cart. I called the cart shop to have the cart hauled in.

He did make it to his doctor’s office but in the meanwhile a lovely lady stopped and wanted to help. She drove her cart to the doctor’s office and picked him up. He’d already made an appointment for Monday which was all we could do. When they got back to the cart, I explained that the cart shop was coming. She took John home to get our car and I stayed behind.

The cart shop arrived. Batteries were dry because of a broken water line.

John came after me.

What more can go wrong?

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They sent him home Tuesday but then….

Tuesday John was released from South Shore Hospital but the doctors had spotted something on his pancreatus requiring more follow-up. The next day, Wednesday, we had a previously scheduled appointment in Tampa to see his pulmonologist (Dr. Clum). Thursday he went to Moffitt Cancer Center to see a G.I. specialist (Dr. Hodul) about the “something” on his pancreatus. She has scheduled him for an esophigeal ultrasound which is done under anesthesia by inserting a tube in his mouth to his stomach. They’ll do a biopsy of the “something” which is about an inch in size. (It is either a tumor or a cyst.) If it’s not malignant, it could still cause reoccurring pancreatius. Ideally you’d remove it, but with his health as it is, they are concerned that it’s too much for him. At 8 a.m. today we had to be back at Moffitt to meet with the anestheologists so they’ll understand John’s health status before sedating him. Wednesday we’ll be there again and he’ll have the procedure. He’ll return for a review of what was discovered on May 9th. Depending on the proposed treatment, we’ll either head to Michigan or hang around until he has been cleared.

The doctor says it looks like it’s a cyst without the mass of a tumor but we won’t be sure until after May 9th.

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John’s in the South Bay Hospital

This morning John had a minor surgical procedure (small lesion removed) and came home at about 9 a.m. feeling fine.

An hour later, I found him on the bed writhing with admoninal pain. He said it felt like the pancreatius had survived last August. I convinced him to go to the hospital (but he wouldn’t go by ambulance). I drove him.

In the E.R., he was examined and found to have very high lipase numbers which indicates pancreatius. In a healthy individual, a normal lipase level is 0-160 U/L. Last summer his was 9,000. Today it was 750. (Still way too high.)

He was admitted. His heart beats per minute were very low. (In the 30’s.) They fed him about a quart of dye for a contrast CT scan and afterward he “tossed his cookies” and it all came up. The elimination of that substance helped him a little.

He’s still not feeling good, but better. He’s worn out!! Hopefully with the meds they’re pouring into him, he’ll quickly recover.

He was tired so I left him sleeping.

He was worn out and so was I.

The small Sun City Center hospital (South Bay) treated him well. He got excellent care. His room is brand new, huge, and well appointed. Sure glad this happened while we are here rather than on our way home or even in Saginaw. His primary care doctor and cardiac doctors are all here. When I went home, he still had a gastroenterologist yet to come in tonight.

Hope they let him rest. He needs it!

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Working at a Distance

We’ve been working with a restoration company to clean up our basement. I dread going back to Michigan, but it is probably better that we are not there now. I can only imagine the mold and mildew smells which neither of us can tolerate.

Yesterday we decided to move our departure date from Sunday, May 7th to Saturday, April 29th. John didn’t realize how much work it is to change reservations that I’d already set up. It took about four hours to change hotel, mail, newspaper, car insurance, and other date-sensitive previously made arrangements but everything is now ready for us to leave April 29th.

I’m really sorry we won’t make it to the Michigan Club Kentucky Derby Party but we were able to re-sell our tickets so that kinda cinched the change.

We’ll be ready.

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Floating away

What a day!  We got a call from our Michigan neighbor, Charlie, who wanted to know if we would like him to check Michigan place again since the water table had risen. 

We’d had had a problem with our basement sump pump a few weeks ago and Charlie had checked but we felt we’d be okay.  The water was over-running the sump hole, but with a block retaining wall, we felt we wouldn’t have any actual flooding beyond the sump hole.  But today the water in the basement was about a foot deep.  Our cluttered basement was a mess!  We’ve been planning to clean it out, but John’s poor health and my wrist problems the past few years have limited what we could do.  Instead of cleaning, we’d added to the mess. 

After Charlie said we have a problem we called a disaster recovery company and, after installing a new sump pump, they have started to drain the foot of water.

The company sent us a few sickening photos.  We can see an upright bass in a case (still standing but probably wet).  There’s one hammered dulcimer floating past and lots of saturated boxes. 

After the water’s drained away, they’ll move our car out of the garage and put all of the stuff in the garage to dry.  Maybe some will be salvageable.  We wanted a total purge, but not this way!!!

We’ve contacted our furnace and water heater company to see if they will need work before being restarted.

WHAT A MESS! 

When we first discovered the problem, we actually thought about heading north four weeks early, but we have company (my daughter from California) and we are expecting our good friends from Mexico next week.  We figure that even if we were home, we’d have to hire help.  It’s not easy to do it by phone, but so far we’ve been successful.

Thank heavens I can access our Simplisafe system so we can turn our security off and when we want the place to be secure we can relock it.  In other works the workers can come in but we can “lock it back up” so we’ll be notified if anyone opens a door.

Wish us luck!

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Timetable of condo changes

My 54-year old daughter, Kelly, will be flying in from California on Thursday (the 6th).

I’ve been trying to reconstruct the timetable of our condo improvements and her visits. I’m trying to remember what she’s seen and what will be new to her.

We bought our condo in October 2008. Early in 2009, we replaced the plain white ceiling fans with two that are much nicer palm fron-style. We added tiffany-style dining room and foyer light fixtures. With a nice light fixture and dimmer, we created a real “dining room.”

Kelly came to visit us with her friend, Dotty, in March of 2009. I remember it was cold (drafty) and our place needed lots of improving.

In April 2010, we had crown molding installed in the great room and dining room and the wall color in those areas went from stark white to a light tan-brown with a darker shade on one wall.

January 2011, we had the kitchen renovated, installing new cabinets and over-the-range fan/microwave. We also replaced the refrigerator with one that’s a Samsung stainless french-door.

We replaced our very old Toyota with a 2005 Jaguar in October 2011.

November 2011 we had ceramic floor tile installed throughout the condo and our bathroom shower was tiled. We also had the lanai tiled. The builders’ grade off-white carpet was only left in the master bedroom.

Kelly’s second visit here was in November 2012. Things looked definitely better.

In December 2012, our great room was changed drastically with the addition of the 9′ sliders, a nice side window, an addition to the lanai, and the new patio off the great room. Since the addition to the roof-line of the lanai gave us protection over the side window, were able to eliminate the ugly metal awning that had protected that window from the golfers. The new windows not only changed the view but also eliminated the draft and wind whistling.

In December, 2013, we got a new Samsung 65″ TV and new TV stand. The older flat screen went in our bedroom.

I headed to California in January 2014 for my grandson’s wedding. Although we talk often, I haven’t seen Kelly since then.

Jerry, John’s brother and his wife, Marie, visited us, I believe in April 2014. March 2015, Gwyn Besner stayed overnight and the next day Bill & Ann Robinson used our guest room.

November 2015, we had the granite put down in the kitchen and guest bathroom. The fancy vessel sink and new mirror and light fixture made a real change.

This year we got rid of the broken-down living room sofa and loveseat. We added new sofa, loveseat, chair and curtains. The whole place looks brighter and more open.

Of course there have been some other minor changes like getting rid of the guest room bed and replacing it with a futon. A small table and two stylish chairs were added in the corner of the greatroom and we added an attractive loveseat in the area near the sliders. The lanai and patio are nicely furnished. The lanai has four comfortable well-padded chairs, and the patio two dark brown wicker lounge chairs and a new dark brown umbrella. We have new tableware and cookware.

It’s all very comfortable and attractive. I hope Kelly loves it!

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Where we’ve been

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Getting ready for company

Next week, my daughter, Kelly, will arrive for a nine-day visit. I’m really going to enjoy our time together.

But part of her visit will be serious. You see, I know she’s who I’d have to depend on if I didn’t have John. I hope I have things set up so she’d never really have to “care” for me, but there still has to be someone who will speak on my behalf if I can’t do it. If something happened to John, I’d have to rely on her. For that reason, it’s important that we go over things so she understands how finances would work, what resources would be available and how she could handle my “estate.”

Kelly will visit from Thursday, April 6th, until Saturday, April 15th. When she leaves on Saturday, Wayne and Linda Conklin will arrive and stay with us for a week. They’ll leave April 24th.

I don’t think the Conklins are planning to be “here” much. They are moving to Mexico so they’re going to use this time to clean out their storage area. Apparently it’s a big job.

I wish I could change the Conklins’ minds about moving. I feel like I’m losing a very special friendship. It’s funny but when I was writing the second paragraph of this post, about how I’d count on Kelly if something happened to John, I realized that, if I didn’t have John, Linda Conklin would be right up there as someone I’d lean on. Maybe they won’t stay in Mexico forever, but I fear they are expecting to live out their lives in a more luxurious style in Mexico. Of course, if something happened to Wayne, I’m sure Linda would want to be in the U.S. but probably closer to their children. Linda is a very special, giving, friend!

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I’m listed in the Social Security Death Master File

This weekend I discovered there is a Social Security Death Master File which includes the Social Security numbers of most folks who are deceased.

I found my parents and lots of John’s relatives by looking up last names. Apparently after death Social Security numbers aren’t of any use and can legally be distributed.

There’s also an alternate search method using the deceased’s birth date.

Out of curiosity I looked up my birthdate: March 4, 1942. And was shocked to find that I am listed in the Social Security Death Master File. I’m only in the “by birthdate” list and my Social Security number is NOT included.
Believe me, it’s kind of a shock to see your name in the Death Master File!

If you need convincing, here’s the website: http://ssdmf.info and you can find me when you scroll down to Sharon Elaine Skaryd http://sortedbybirthdate.com/daypages/1942/19420304s.html

Strangely the “by name list” is by first name and then last because females would be hard to locate. To use the by birthdate list, you find the date (year then day). Then do your search to find the first name. Yup, I’m there.

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Obituaries

A friend of mine had read an article about Shirley MacLaine who wants to write her own obituary. My friend said, “I realized I felt the same way. I do not want to leave that task to others; heaven only knows what they would say about me!”

I feel that way too. There’s a lot about me that I’d down-play. I will therefore prepare a complimentary obituary and make it available for my daughter to post after I’ve departed.

That prompted me to think about Kathryn Rummel, who lived in Frankenmuth, MI.

Kathy knew for quite a while that her breast cancer would take her life. She planned carefully for her passing.

After her death in 1984, many friends and family members received letters mailed by her husband. These personal thank you letters hand-written by Kathy expressed her gratitude for their contribution to her life. She signed them from “Kathy in Heaven.” (I understood they went to teachers, friends, and acquaintances she felt had contributed to her quality of life.)

I think it’s a beautiful idea. I can see writing a beautiful love-letter to John my husband telling him how much happiness he brought me, a letter of appreciation to my daughter (Kelly), a letter of hope to my lost daughter (Tammy).

I will definitely add this to my “to-do” list.

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Half a bubble off

I haven’t been feeling up to par. It hit me about three or four days ago so I’ve been taking it easy. Haven’t done much. Skipped all activities and just rested. Wish I could say I’ve bounced back, but I still feel yucky.

I do have plans to go to tai chi today at noon. I need to stop by a friend (Linda’s) place prior to that and pay her for some dance tickets.

John’s been more active. Yesterday he installed a safety bar for the master bath shower. I am really glad to have it. I was always afraid of falling. Washing my feet was especially difficult. Now I with the bar and I’m much more secure.

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What is “old school”?

In my last posting, I mentioned the lovely joint party that the Reintsemas had for John and me Friday. It was huge with adult beverages and birthday cakes. (All of the guests brought hors devours so there was plenty to eat.)

How do you thank someone for such a grand gesture?

I went “old school.” Since I don’t have stationary, I made a lovely “card” with a pretty floral Hallmark design on the cover and blank inside. I filled in the interior with a “from the heart” message to Bob and Judy. That’s “old school.” I didn’t use a computer to write the thank you. It’s in its hand-addressed envelope with a stamp (yes, you can still buy stamps). It’s ready to go.

Betcha Bob and Judy don’t get that many hand-written messages but I hope they know how special they made our birthdays.

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Two birthdays

John’s birthday was Wednesday; mine Saturday (yesterday). Our friends had a party for us Friday. It was a huge crowd and we all had a really good time! I felt the love!

This photo showed us before we opened our cards. It was all lots of fun.

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Shopping for furniture

Ten years ago we bought a reclining couch and loveseat. They were purchased when we lived in Mom’s condo and after she died, we bought them to our current condo and have continued to use them. They have served us well, but the fiber filled arms and seat have worn out and they’ve become very uncomfortable. In fact, if you sit down hard, you can bruise your tailbone or arm (which has happened to both of us). Obviously it’s time to replace these furniture pieces. We’ve considered buying several different styles.

We thought we knew what we wanted: a sofa and loveseat or oversized chair with recliners in both pieces. With photos and notes, we planned to make our final decisions. While working with the dimensions, I discovered that our favorite two pieces won’t work together in our great room. (When reclined, they will bump into each other). We sorta had to start over. I think we’ve finally concluded that a sofa with power recliners and power headrest will be our best bet (in a neutral beige).

chair We finally zeroed in on a sofa in a “transformer” style which isn’t something I thought we would have ever considered. It’ll be of an off-white color with two recliners and powered headrest. There is seating for three. It’ll be delivered Monday the 6th.

We also ordered a small swivel chair in a pretty lime green. We need to get a new rug with some lime to tie it all together.

We should receive the chair the same day the sofa is delivered.

The old sofa and loveseat will be picked up by Habitat for Humanity.

Hope we like the new stuff. Maybe we should have purchased where we could return it, if we don’t like it.

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The hard work paid off

I posted this prior to the Kings Point Pizza Party last night: “Since John and I don’t have as many music related commitments, I’m sure many folks think we can now be totally lazy but they’re wrong! Today is the Kings Point Michigan Club Pizza Party and guess who is chairman? Yup, me. It’ll be held in the huge Kings Point Theater/ballroom. We are expecting 240 guests, 84 pizzas, 6 ponys of beer, salad for everyone, 240 cupcakes, a deejay, and a banjo band for entertainment. Thank heavens a lot of good workers have volunteered to help especially with set-up and clean-up. John has two guys to help him with the beer keg-o-rator and I have 12-15 of the cutest ladies to help and act as “servers.” It’s a massive undertaking, but with all the help, it’ll be fun. (I’ve been the chairman since 2011.)”

It went fairly smoothly. Both of us were totally exhausted when it was over.

The keg-o-rator didn’t want to work correctly. (Pitchers would end up with 3/4’s foam.) With lots of effort, several workers including John, poured off the foam, and everyone was happy. My crew sat up everything and then cleaned up. I certainly appreciated their efforts.

John worked too hard and I worried about him all evening. Today he’s better than I would have expected.

The deejay (Tony) was a hit. He really knew how to get the group dancing and the major complaint I heard was that I should have skipped the banjo band and just used Tony. The whole party wrapped up at about 8:30. Clean-up had the place spic and span by 9:00.

I was so tired that sleeping was difficult and today I’m stuck with a headache. Oh, well…

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Still taking it easy

We went to the Kings Point Lip Sync show last night and had a good time. Thank heavens for fairly close-by parking in a handicapped slot. John took his time walking in. The show was a couple hours long, but we were able to take it easy so it was a good evening.

We’re both feeling better than we did for the past couple of weeks, but this morning, John’s a little worn out.

Tuesday of next week (the 21st), I’m the chairman of the Michigan Club pizza party so we’ll be busy that day. We’re always exhausted so I’m concerned that it could negatively impact us. We do need to do a little shopping today or tomorrow. The more we do before Tuesday, the less we’ll have to do then.

When the pizza party is behind us, we can relax until we need to prep for my daughter Kelly’s visit in April.

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Out and about

We were totally inactive for a week or two. John’s bronchitis knocked him for a loop. I developed a sinus problem that has hung on for about a week. Without any energy, we were both forced to spend most of our time on the couch vegging.

Friday we decided to use tickets we’d purchased weeks ago and we headed to the Baby Boomers’ Valentine’s party. We only stayed about 90 minutes, but at least we got out of the house and saw friends.

Saturday we attended an afternoon wine and cheese party offered by the Home Owners’ Association. It’s always a fun time.

Unlike the other parties we attend, we intentionally avoid sitting with people who are close friends. Instead we invite strangers to join us. I always suggest writing down the names of those at the table. With these “cheat sheets,” it’s easier to get acquainted.

We had a nice time and devoured five bottles of wine between seven of us.

Tonight there’s an Oldies but Goodies dance but I doubt we’ll try to make it three parties in a row. We’re recovering slowly but not really “feeling good.” John’s health is fragile. He needs to take it easy.

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He’s Still Sick

I can’t begin to tell you how worried I’ve been about John’s health. He’s been really, really sick. It’s not bad enough that he has pulmonary fibrosis, and other complications, but this latest problem (bronchitis) knocked him for a loop. After a miserable week, he may be a little better now, but still a long way from being well. He’s been sleeping a lot (which is the best thing for him).

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John’s sick

Friday John complained that he felt like he was coming down with a cold. By Saturday and Sunday, he was truly sick. He had a horrid cough, chills and fever, headache, and felt lousy. Yesterday (Monday) he had an appointment with Dr. Marquez, his primary care physician. I was sure he had developed pneumonia again and was certain he’d end up in the hospital, but Dr. Marquez felt it’s bronchitis and he’ll recover with a strong antibiotic.

24 hours later, he does feel better, but not much. He’s grumpy and sound-sensitive. He hasn’t eaten much, although I did fix him a nice lunch (chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich). Right now he’s in bed, sleeping.

It’s hard to have him suffering with this additional problem on top of all he’s been through. He said today that he doesn’t know if he can continue to make it if things keep piling on.

I am trying to help him, but he’s very touchy and grumpy which is understandable. I feel like most anything I do will provoke him and I sure don’t want to make him more uncomfortable by doing stuff that makes him feel worse. It’s difficult to know how to help him. He understands that he’s difficult. He’s trying but he can’t help it.

There is nothing worse than trying to deal with a patient who is over-tired, uncomfortable, and unwilling to comply with basic care concerns. That’s John. Hopefully he’ll let me be his care-giver and make him comfortable.

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Nice weather

The temps have ranged from afternoon highs in the mid 70’s to low 80’s and at night down to the 50’s.

We went to Busch Gardens today and enjoyed the 1950’s four-some, “The Diamonds.” They did an a capella version of “Surfer Girl” that I loved.

On the way home from Busch Gardens we were shocked by a near accident. We were on I-75 south. As we passed Big Bend Road, John let out a yell. He’d just witnessed a collision in his rear view mirror Thank heavens we’d just passed the scene so we weren’t involved. Apparently a car decided too late to exit and he t-boned the car beside him. Even in the mirror, John could tell it was really bad. (We were too far past to stop.) I called 911 and no one had reported it so I told them what John had witnessed. John was shook, and so was I.

Checking with Waze traffic app showed “Major Accident” with miles of back up on I-75. Channel 10’s traffic report said “injuries reported.” If we had been a second later, we could have been involved. I thank God we we had just passed that spot.

Shakes you when you realize that what just happened behind you could have involved you. John’s an excellent driver, but when a car whips from one lane to another and you’re in the way, it would be nearly impossible to avoid. I tried but wasn’t able to learn how badly hurt the victims were but I did read that there were injuries.

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Slowing down isn’t all bad

I’ve slowed down, but in a way it’s a blessing because, since John has a severe lung condition, I have easily adjusted to the limitations John’s health problems have presented without feeling deprived in any way. I don’t need to be moving all the time. I’m content to be here, cozied up on my couch, reading a book or watching TV. Life is good.

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Burrrrr! Winter in Florida occurred January 8, 2017

We are surviving “winter 2017” in Florida. This was reported on TV to be the coldest day in a couple years.

When we got up, the outside temperature was 36.4 at our condo. With the heat on, it’s now a cozy 74 inside and 44.6 outside.

I always bring a couple pair of warm sweat pants back and forth to Florida and Michigan. Right now I have on fleecy pants with a loose heavy cotton top. Truly comfortable!

The sun’s out but it’s kinda windy. A short while ago, a pair of sandhill cranes were by the pond. (Maybe the pond water had held the heat.) They’ve moved on, probably looking for a warmer spot.

I will stay inside today. I didn’t get the mail yesterday, but trekking to the mailbox in 45 degree temps doesn’t appeal to me.

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Managing “the system”

We are realizing that, when someone has a major health condition (like John), it is almost a full-time job to keep everything straight. In addition to his Saginaw pulmonologist, John has three Tampa General department head specialists (pulmonary, cardiology, and rheumatology). (Not to mention the three specialists that he had previously.) There is also his primary care physician and a dermatologist.

His appointments and medical tests are scheduled at least once or twice a week. Tampa General appointments are always in Tampa (either downtown across from the hospital or on the Moresani campus).

This morning I got a notice that his blood test results were available on his Tampa General “patient portal.” So I checked. Thank heavens I try to stay on top of things. He’d gone to the Sun City Center Quest Laboratory to have the blood sample taken Tuesday but since it was prescribed by a Tampa General physician, the results are always posted on the “TGH portal.” One test was available, but not the most important liver enzyme test which allows him to continue on the new medication. (That’s the medicine which would cost us $18,000 a month if he wasn’t able to get a grant so we definitely need to stick to the qualifying instructions.)

I tried for almost two hours to get through to Quest. John said on Tuesday he’d asked if they had his “on-going” prescription but none was in his Quest file. That meant that there’d been a mix-up so it was likely that the blood test hadn’t been run. I called the doctor who had prescribed the liver enzyme blood work and his office faxed the prescription to Quest.

Since we couldn’t call the lab (the phone system was just a revolving trap where you could never reach a human), we drove to Quest and sure enough the test hadn’t been done, but they had just received the new prescription so he was able to have it drawn.

What a mess!! John wouldn’t have known, if I hadn’t checked.

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Sorry I’ve been neglectful

I promised I’d post more often, but sadly I haven’t since before Christmas.

Let me catch you up with happenings in our life here in Kings Point, Sun City Center.

On December 20th we attended the Michigan Club Christmas Party. We had a nice time. Funny thing was that in the gift exchange, I got back the trays I’d given away in the same exchange last year.

The 22nd, we went to a Christmas party at the home of Paul and Bunny Hunt, two of our favorite friends. Paul always plans a glorious spread and this year’s was typically wonderful. I felt badly that I hadn’t volunteered to help them set up. Bunny wasn’t feeling well, and although I did what I could, I wish I’d arrived an hour or so earlier to help her.

Christmas Eve we gathered at the home of Canadian friends. This was the first year in many that we hadn’t held a huge gathering at our condo but the party we attend was a great time!

Our Christmas dinner was a simple one for just the two of us: ham, sweet potato casserole, scalloped potatoes, cranberry salad and pie for dessert. It wasn’t like all our previous Christmases with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy and all the trimmings, but we were comfortably full and it was a lot easier.

There weren’t many activities scheduled between Christmas and the first of the year but we had two parties New Years Eve evening. The first was at the lovely home of the Coopers (Stephen and Caroline). Food and beverages were excellent. Since that party was from 5:30-7:30, most of the attendees were headed to other New Year’s Eve parties afterward. When we left the Cooper’s we headed to the KP North Club where friends, Jan and Kathy Haynes, had reserved the Studio for a party. In the Studio, there was a gathering of about 30 friendly folks. While we were there, most played cards and again the food was super. We were running out of steam so we headed home before 9:00. At midnight, woke up long enough to wish each other a happy New Year.

2016 wasn’t the best year because of John’s health, but I love being with him even when our activities are limited.

Here it is January 4th. Tomorrow night our country music friends will gather at the clubhouse for some dancing. Although we don’t dance much, we’ll be there enjoying the company. Maybe we’ll stay later for Rockin Rendezvous.

During December John had appointments with various Tampa General medical specialists: pulmonologist, cardiologist, and rheumatologist. I wish he had these high quality specialists in Michigan, but he’ll see them just before we leave in May and have appointments as soon as possible when we get back in October. He does have a good pulmonologist in Saginaw.

He has gained a little strength and endurance, but he’s a long way from where he was a year ago. His oxygen is no longer optional but necessary. When we’re shopping he uses mobility carts, when available. He bought a small one for himself. (He plans to use it when we go to Busch Gardens during the Real Music Series performances from January 16-February 25.)

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Christmas Week

We have quite a bit going on this week: exercise classes x 2, hair appointment this morning, Michigan Club party tonight, house party on our way home from the Michigan Club party, tomorrow a couple of appointments and John has a sportsman’s club meeting. Thursday a dinner party at Paul Hunt’s house. Friday John has an appointment in Tampa with his rheumatologist. Saturday is Christmas Eve day and we’ll go to the home of some Canadian friends.

The two of us aren’t exchanging gifts and I shipped cards with checks included for Kelly and my grandsons so shopping was fairly easy. We will be getting a new couch as our joint Christmas present and we also bought the new golf cart.

For us Christmas has long since passed the “anxious for gifts” stage. There’s nothing we want except better health for John. That is in God’s hands; not ours.

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Our Christmas Tree

For many years, we’ve put up this 7.5 ft. artificial Christmas tree in our condo. This is how it looked last year. It got harder and harder. Not only was it heavy, but many of the pre-lit lights no longer worked so we had to use extra strings of lights to fill-in. John just can’t handle it any longer, so I wanted a small, light tree that I can manage. I’d have been happy with one about 6′ tall but John wasn’t interested. He kept saying he’d get the big one down (for the last time). We’d put it up and then get rid of it after the season.

I mentioned it a few times, but it was getting closer and closer to Christmas and still no decorations.

I remembered that there were two old, small trees in the attic so he went up there today but couldn’t find them. He did find the topmost section of the bigger tree. The top by itself is about two feet tall. We’re using that top as our tree. It’s on a tiny table so the whole thing is about 4.5 feet tall. I put all of our pretty handmade crocheted ornaments on it and a handmade angel on top. It’s kind of pathetic, but it’s better than no tree at all.

My mother had one of those vintage ceramic trees which I put on the lanai and tomorrow I’ll put out some red flood lights. We also have a wreath on the door.

It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas.

Yesterday I made and printed our Christmas cards. We don’t send out many (just to our siblings and close family) but it still took quite a while to address them and add personal notes.

We aren’t going to have our traditional Christmas turkey dinner. It’s just too much for the two of us to do (especially since John is always the chief cook and he doesn’t have the energy.) Instead we’ll have a ham, salads, probably sweet potatoes, and other yummy stuff. It’ll be way too much food for two people, but I love sharing a dinner with my guy!

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Doctor Appointments

Today John saw his “new” Tampa General pulmonologist for the second time (Dr. Clum). We are very impressed with him.

Can you imagine a doctor who says, “You’re color is better. When I saw you last month, you didn’t look as good as you do now.”

How could he remember John that specifically?

He had John do some tests and vows to keep John from deteriorating further. Those tests are the benchmarks. We’re all working toward a goal of keeping him from getting worse. He explained to us that it may take a year to recover from John’s August pancreatitis and gall bladder problems. The double pneumonia is also slow recovery problem.

John’s oxygen equipment wasn’t working correctly last night. He couldn’t get his oxygen numbers up to acceptable levels. This morning, we took off for Tampa and when he arrived at the office building next to Tampa General, he nearly collapsed. (He was using the same regulator that he’d used last night.) His oxygen was really low. We switched him to a better regulator and he’s doing fine.

This next month he has appointments with a new cardiologist and also a new rheumatologist. Hopefully together they’ll all keep him doing ok.

So glad we found Dr. Clum. We’ll be back to see him in a month.

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All the critters

We’ve been watching a pair of sandhill cranes for a couple hours. They’ve nibbled the grass, and dived for grubs. At one point the larger one became quite noisy, but for the most point, they were just providing interesting scenery.

And a while ago, some kind of a critter move through the grass between two ponds at opposite end of our building. At that distance, and in the grass, we were’t sure what it was. Maybe a very large turtle… but as it moved (quite swiftly) we realized it was too long and narrow to be a turtle. It was a small ‘gator. I got my camera out but by the time I got to the pond, he’d disappeared.

A little later, I looked back toward the pond he’d left, and realized there was about a five food mama ‘gator on the bank.

The sun’s glare was so bright that I couldn’t see the gator as I took the photo. I just pointed the camera and clicked. Not the sharpest, but you can tell it was definitely an alligator.

The sandhills have left. Don’t think they’d want to mess with mama.

Between the sandhills, the many white and black water birds, the occasional hawks, and all the other wild life, there’s lots to view. It’s all fascinating.

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John’s health

I wish I could report that he’s doing better but he’s continuing to get a little worse all the time.

I’m doing what I can for him. My hope is to keep his quality of life up and enjoy our together time!

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It’s working

The hard drive I mentioned in my last post arrived. It was easy to set up and it now does a back up of the whole hard drive twice a day. Restoring would mean reloading ALL the files in one sweep, not individual files. “All” would mean a huge re-load. (That would be great if I lost everything, but sometimes you just want to see the previous version of a single file.)

Since the drive is so large, I am also saving copies of each of the files individual and dating those archive versions. That way, if I want just one file, I can restore it.

So I’m all set. I have all the files including photos. I save the individual files at least once a week, and the whole drive twice a day.

It is $75 well spent. I sleep better.

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Restoring all my data

Today I’m expecting the delivery of a new 2TB external Seagate hard drive. Back on August 22, I wrote a post that said I was getting a Western Digital 1TB HD and would be backing up my Lenovo computer before I sent it in for repair. Well, that small WD (Western Digital) HD didn’t work. Instead I backed up everything to the wireless Black Armor 2TB HD I’ve used for years. Since I didn’t trust the Black Armor, I also created a slew of thumb drives to get a second backup I could piece together but I didn’t have enough space to copy everything.

When I got my Lenovo computer back, the Black Armor hard drive wasn’t accessible using the Windows 10 version that was re-installed. Thank heavens I had those thumb drives. I’ve limped along but kept trying to think of a way I could get into the old Black Armor. Many of my photos and a lot of extra files were only on that HD.

But a couple days ago, I discovered that my old Viao computer, which we’d left here over the summer, can access the old Black Armor hard drive. I can copy the back ups I made of my computer before it was sent in for repair. All the files are there. (YEAH!)

All I need is a way to transfer the files and photos to my Lenovo computer. That’s where the 2TB Seagate HD drive comes in. I’ll copy from the Black Armor to the new Seagate, and then I’ll move the new Seagate USB HD to the Lenovo. Voilà I should be able to have all the files, including all my photos, on my Lenovo.

Of course I’ll keep an updated backups of the whole Lenovo computer. I’ll ditch the Black Armor. It’ll be wonderful to have an easy way and reliable way to keep backups of everything. No more dozens of small thumb drives. No more inaccessible Black Armor. The new Seagate should be reliable and fast, and with 2TB of space, I should be able to use it for all backups.

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Thanksgiving was nice

Our friends have been doing a lot together but we’ve passed on a lot of the activities. Actually I love being home with John so it hasn’t been a hardship at all. We have enough on our calendar. I have no desire to be constantly on the go.

We went to Shelly and Richard Brook’s for Thanksgiving. They’ve hosted this event for several years but this year it was much smaller than normally. There were only eight of us.

Dinner was really good. Tonight we’re going to have the left-over turkey Shelly sent home with us. It was really good! We had contributed a large dish of from-scratch dressing. It really turned out much better than we could have hoped.

It was a fun evening.

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Living Donor

Yesterday I suggested something to John that I think surprised him.

John needs a lung transplant. At 78 he’s considered too old for the procedure. It’s reported that younger recipients do better and therefore the older patients aren’t considered.

My suggestion: if I’m compatible I’d donate one of my lungs to him.

After reading up on the topic, I found that in order for a living donor to donate, there need to be two donors who are matches. Each would contribute half a lobe.

So let’s say I could do it and one of John’s siblings or children would contribute. His survival would still be risky and according to statistics 40% of those with transplants die within the first two years. (Note: It’s also a risk to the donor.)

Looks like I just need to take good care of him because I’m sure he’ll survive longer than two years with the lung function he has left.

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The election’s over and Trump is our president-elect

Yesterday I did a blog post covering our time here in Florida since arriving October 15th. (It’s below.)

You will notice that I skipped the election results.

As I said on Facebook, “I’m sad and frightened. Our landscape with a ‘wall’ will obstruct the view I had of freedom.)

I can’t see someone with Trump’s personality in charge of our country. Hopefully he’ll surprise me.

John was for Trump (or more accurately, he didn’t want Hillary). I was a Clinton supporter (but actually I didn’t like her but didn’t want Trump under any circumstance.)

We were gentle with each other. We both had reservations after the outcome was announced.

I’m very fearful. Trump’s finger on the button alarms me.

I don’t look at the election as a victory for Trump. I think of it as a loss for the nation.

I was in a massive funk Wednesday. But it didn’t take long to realize that I can’t give in to the emotions I felt immediately after the election. John’s health is too fragile and being “down” would hurt him. John needs to live in the presence of an upbeat attitude and I will do the best I can to be supportive and show hope. Negativity is not going to help anything and it would definitely impact my husband’s health.

I’m still disappointed, but I’m avoiding critiques of the situation we find ourselves in. I’m concentrating on helping John and making our lives as great as possible.

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November in Kings Point

We’re enjoying our leisure time here in Kings Point. Not that we have had a lot of leisure. John’s been going to doctors since he arrived which is helping him have a better understanding of his health condition.

October 26th he had an appointment with his primary care physician who basically said that he’s doing as good as he can expect. He’ll see John again in March or April.

November 2nd, he went to a new pulmonologist at the University of South Florida. He assessed John’s situation and put him on another medicine which is intended to keep his lungs from deteriorating. It may have side effects so we’re holding our breaths.

Wednesday of this week, on the 9th, went to Brandon to meet with his cardiologist. The best part of the past month medically was that he was told that he probably no longer suffers from congestive heart failure so he is now off a couple of his medications. One was lowering his blood pressure to dangerous levels, so he will probably feel more secure when standing up and walking. The low blood pressure was causing him dizziness.

Wednesday he also went to University of South Florida in Tampa for a chest CT scan.

Since June, John had been trying to get a portable oxygen concentrator from his oxygen provider (Lincare). I can’t begin to tell you how much time we spent calling Lincare, evaluating different units on line, and talking with sales people on the phone.

A couple weeks ago Lincare finally delivered a portable concentrator but it was heavy and bulky. After all that waiting, he returned it. That unit wouldn’t work for him. It wasn’t sensitive enough. If he breathed through his mouth, no oxygen was generated.

He had been checking on a unit made by Inogen. He ended up buying one (with our money). It was an expensive purchase but has a 30-day return policy with a “rental” provision. We’ll probably rent it for a month and return it so he can get most of his $$ back. Hopefully he’ll eventually get a similar unit from Lincare (same low weight and other provisions under a different model name. (If Lincare supplies it, Medicare will pay for it.)

The portable concentrator frees him to do a lot more than he can do when hauling heavy, bulky tanks. The concentrator does require batteries that last only about 2 1/2 hours each but he has three of them so he could get by on them for 7 1/2 hours. (With the car battery charger, he can charge while driving.)

The oxygen generator wasn’t the only big item we needed to spend money on this month. When we got down here our golf cart wouldn’t charge. We finally worked with the cart repair places and got it charging but we could see that the batteries weren’t really up-to-snuff, so we shopped for another golf cart. We ended up buying a custom Club Car with a large (fast) engine, a rear seat, fancy side curtains, and all the bells and whistles we felt we’d like.

We took delivery Tuesday. There are a few items that still need to be finished or replaced: side curtains aren’t done (so they put a temporary top with sides on it), seats are the wrong style (we ordered shaped seats, and got regular bench seats) and the pin-stripe/decorating guy hasn’t done the fancy stuff yet to make it even prettier. It has a red body with black trim, black with gray and red strip seats and the side curtains will also be black with gray and red stripes. The top is black. On the cherry red, the black and gold pin stripes, will look great when it all comes together.

On Monday, before we got the new cart, we were driving our old one to town and a lady in her golf cart turned into us. We were totally innocent so she paid for all damages. Since our tie-rod was broken, the cart had to be hauled to the place where we were getting our new one. The old one had $300 damage. I’m sure it’s been fixed and someone is enjoying it. Thank heavens the new one was on order so we could get it quickly.

Let’s see, what fun stuff has happened since we’ve been down here?

We attended the Michigan Club Welcome Back Party and a Baby Boomers Halloween Party. We went to an Oldies but Goodies Dance with a great band, Lattitude. November 4th, I went with about 20 girlfriends to a 75th birthday luncheon for friend, Judy Reintsema.

Three times, we’ve attended country couples hour on Thursdays before Rockin Rendezvous at the clubhouse.

So that’s a review of our past 27 days here in paradise.

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On the ball…

I’m posting again after an extended absence. I hope I haven’t lost all my “followers.” I know Terre likes to follow my posts and I’ll soon be seeing her. I have to get “on the ball.”

Despite his need for constant oxygen, John even danced a few steps tonight at the “pre-Rockin Rondezvous hour” which is lead by Bill and Donna Markland. Tomorrow night we’ll try again at the Baby Boomers party and Sunday night hopefully we can try more at Oldies but Goodies party. If we can make little progress each evening, it will encourage us. We need to practice a little so it’s not so foreign. We’d forgotten everything we knew when we started out tonight, but it was just coming back when John ran out of breath and we had to stop. We’ll practice a little and be ready for the opportunities which will come up tomorrow night (Friday) and at the Oldies But Goodies party (Sunday).

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We’re in Paradise!

We arrived in Florida on October 15th so we’ve been here a little over a week. Not much has happened. We’ve passed on a couple of get-togethers so John could recover from our trip down here.

Actually come to think of it, we have accomplished quite a bit. We unpacked our truck and put it in storage, cleaned up the place, John went to a sportsman’s club meeting, and we went to the pre-Rockin Rendezvous get-together last Thursday. We’ve gone to two “Sit and Get Fit” exercise classes. John’s been to his primary care doctor, we met with our financial advisor, I’ve been to my eye doctor, and after shopping for several days we ordered a new custom golf cart (which should be ready early next week). We’ve rearranged our great room and tried to get organized. Tonight we went to a great Michigan Club Welcome Back Wine and Cheese party.

That’s not bad for eleven days.

What I have realized is that we have a real support system here. Folks care about us.

Today while shopping at “Nearly New (resale shop)” I mentioned to a couple caring sales people (who I’ve come to know), that John’s fragile health has really been a challenge for both of us. These ladies have been through situations with their husbands that are similar to John’s. Their advice a insight was welcome. So many folks down here understand what we’re facing. ou’re not going through it alone. They have already faced the fears and challenges and they show me that we can also do it.

I’m glad to be here.

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Summer’s Over

We’re about to head back to Florida and I can tell that John’s concerned about making the trip south. He isn’t nearly as strong as previous years. Hopefully it won’t be too hard on him. Yesterday he ran out of steam packing. I was trying to help by bringing stuff to go in the backseat, but I work too fast which rushes him and he ends up worse off than if I’d let him do it. I’m trying to learn to slow down and/or back off.

We still have a few days. Sunday we’ll take a break to have a dinner with the Skaryd siblings. Wednesday I have to go to the dentist to have a cap/crown installed. Should only need to be gone about an hour and a half. The rest of the time, we’ll be finishing up around here and hit the road Thursday as early as possible.

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Relieved…

I was awake most of the night worrying that maybe I’m pushing John too hard to go to Florida. I know I am anxious to get to our southern home and I feared that he’s agreed to our departure date because he is tired of arguing about it. John deserves to enjoy every minute of his life and I felt guilty thinking that maybe I’m stealing good memories from him.

But today he said to a stranger, “I’m realizing I’m better off in Florida and probably can’t handle the cold weather here.”

And I am realizing that we need to have our wonderful group of close friends which we’re lacking here. In our circle, I can think of lots of folks who would willingly help us, if we needed help. There are guy friends like Mike B., Bob B., John B., Ron, Dave, Bob W., Bill, Richard, Stephen and more. If we need help, they’ll be there for us.

John is aware of my concerns and I am sure that we’ve in agreement that Florida will allow us to enjoy the next seven months.

He’s even realizing that this house is too much work for us. Maybe, by next year, we can consider selling it. It’ll take some remodeling first but we have to start somewhere.

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The Back Nine

I FIRST STARTED READING THIS & WAS READING FAST UNTIL I REACHED THE THIRD SENTENCE. I STOPPED AND STARTED OVER READING SLOWER AND THINKING ABOUT EVERY WORD. IT IS VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING. MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK.
READ SLOWLY!

AND THEN IT IS WINTER

You know … time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is… the back nine of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that I was only on the first hole and the back nine was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change….Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though I’m on the back nine, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s over. A new adventure will begin! Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the back nine yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the back nine or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life….so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one. LIVE IT WELL! ENJOY TODAY! DO SOMETHING FUN! BE HAPPY ! HAVE A GREAT DAY Remember “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

LASTLY, CONSIDER THIS:
~Going out is good.. Coming home is better!
~You forget names…. But it’s OK because some people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything like golf.
~The things you used to care to do, you aren’t as interested in anymore, but you really don’t care that you aren’t as interested.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV ‘ON’ than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch..
~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”… ???
~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear.

~~~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

Stay well, “OLD FRIEND!” Send this on to other “Old Friends!” and let them laugh in AGREEMENT!!! It’s Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.

TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN; YET THE YOUNGEST YOU’LL EVER BE, SO ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS

” Do Not Regret Growing Older.
It is a Privilege Denied to Many. ”

Note: This message was sent to me by Bob Hubbach, wonderful musician and artist.

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Peace of Mind

Understandably I worry about John’s health. I am always concerned about keeping him well, and it doesn’t help that I depend on his good health when we’re away from home. Last month, when he woke up and was so ill, I wondered what I’d have done if that had happened when we were on the road to Florida. What if we were 700 miles from family and friends?

Ok, so I’m a worrier.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve heard of problems friends have had. As an example, Pat Hesselgrave’s husband died in the U.P. after pulling their RV up there. She (like me) couldn’t drive it back, so they had to depend on someone to go up there and get it.

In a month we plan to head to Florida. With John’s health it could become too much for him and we’d get stuck in Georgia, or Tennessee. Since I’m scared to death of driving the truck, what would we do? Or what if something had happened to him in Evart. How would I have gotten the trailer back?

A solution arrived the other day from the Moose club. We could pay $129 annually and have insurance so if something happened, we’d have a way to get us and our vehicle back home. The insurance would fly us back and send a driver to get our vehicle, or we could have someone go get it and the plan would pay them up to $1,000 a day. I immediately subscribed us before we went to the U.P. Thankfully we didn’t need it, but we are now prepared. Here’s the plan: Moose Assistance+.

In a similar attempt to avoid worry, a few years ago I signed up for “Simplisafe,” which is a reasonably priced monitored security service. When we’re in Florida, I sleep much better knowing that is someone broke into our Michigan home, we and the police would be notified.

Peace of Mind is important. The above two examples provide us with that comfort. Thank heavens we can afford these protections.

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Dealing with illness

I’m no expert, but I am dealing with John’s illness the best I can. People forget that as a spouse, his health affects me too. He’s not in it alone. We are a team. He’s fighting a valiant fight, but I’m trying to be supportive in every way.

And the same (but in a lesser way) goes for friends supporting friends. I’ve been receiving the Facebook posts from a close (music) friend who went through surgery this week for bladder problems. Sadly this morning he said to his Facebook friends, “Got the biopsy results back this morning. They are not good. Have to wait until Thursday to find out next steps. Not looking forward to the future at this point.” And then later in the discussion he added, “I’m scared as hell,” and “I hope I can stay composed when Jean (his wife) gets up. She was up late last night and and is under stress already.”

My heart goes out to him. He’s a sweet, caring guy who is always there for all of us. Now he needs our prayers and support.

His wife, Jean leans on him, and right now they need each other.

Being either spouse is rough. I hope he realizes that it’s not weakness to show his fear. I am sure his spirit and faith will take him through this problem but it’s going to be a tough fight.

When he apologized for burdening all of us, many of us spoke up. It’s not a burden. He impacts our lives too. We need to help with our prayers and our words of support. Isolation from others would negatively affect him.

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Back home on Lake Cecil

We returned to the Lower Peninsula yesterday, but not before we stopped at U.P. Realty and started the “listing” procedure to sell our place on Lake Michigan.

The broker wasn’t very encouraging and said that places like ours aren’t moving, so we probably are stuck with it for a while, but you never know.

We realize the place is just too much work for us. John gave in and we hired a guy to finish up the tree which had come down on the roof. We also paid him to cut down about a dozen more; most because we feared they could come down on the trailer.

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We’re at our place in the U.P.

Arrived here Thursday (today’s Saturday) and for John it’s just been work, work, work.

He had to get the water working which took all of the time after we arrived Thursday.

Toilet is leaking. Mouse poop all over the kitchen. Place smells awfully musty. Dirty. All the window screens in the living room area have developed holes. (Apparently even metal window screens have a life-span and it must be about 50 years because that’s how old this trailer is.) And there’s a huge tree on the roof of the trailer.

Thursday I did a lot of the “unloading” (while he worked on getting us water) and Friday I continued to clean and get stuff settled in while he concentrated on the tree problem. Unfortunately my foot didn’t appreciate it. Today I’ve been ordered (by John) to get off my feet. My foot is really swollen and even more discolored than it was Thursday when I took this picture.

So I’m stuck on the couch. I have learned that sitting with my foot on the floor makes it worse, so it’s up here on the couch with me.

Yesterday John was successful cutting through the trunk end of the tree, about half way up. He says the more he does, the better he feels. Unfortunately his lung problem is really severe. Even using constant oxygen, he can only work for short bouts before he has to take a break. He uses the chainsaw and cuts off a few branches, then rests. It’s slow, but he is making progress. He’s hoping that once he gets the extra branches off, the upper half will “slide off” the metal roof. Once it’s on the ground, he’s probably going to hire the guy to cut it up and stack it before we come back next year.

He’s finally acknowledging that we need to sell the place. It’s just too much work.

Yesterday I walked down to the water and it’s much better than it’s been in years! Another winter of snow, and we may have a nice beach back.

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Getting Closer

We leave for our Florida condo, October 14th. Of course our actual arrival depends on weather, traffic, etc., and this year we’ll also be challenged by John’s health. He may not be able to drive as long as in the past so we may not be able to get there in two days. Our plan, at this point, is to stop Friday night south of Knoxville, TN, in Sweetwater, TN. But, if we need to stop sooner, we’ll stop. In fact, today I was investigating motels in the London, KY, area, which is about 140 miles sooner (more northerly). We will play it by ear. We won’t arrive until nearly 7:00 pm so if we go to Sweetwater, so maybe London will be our first stop. We’ll see.

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My bucket list

Tuesday, after I got my computer back from Lenovo (it was under warranty when it started acting up), I worked several days to re-load Windows 10. (During the repair, my system had been reverted to Windows 8.1). I had to set up all of the programs (like Excel, MusicTime, my printer, etc.), and copy my files to the appropriate directory. It was a chore I didn’t enjoy and took several days (thank heavens John wasn’t here because he’d have run out of patience just watching.)

I’d just finished when I realized the computer still isn’t working right so I’ll probably be sending it back again.

This time I am wiser. I studied and found out that I could create a re-install of Windows 10 on a large volume usb thumb drive which will boot up and allow a seamless re-installation. The way I did it before took getting a re-verification of first Windows 8.1 and then I had to cheat to get an upgrade to Windows 10. It was a long process.

Today I also bought a 1 TB usb hard drive ($50 on eBay) which I’ll use to backup/reinstall the personal files I’ve created.

Yes, I already have a 2 TB external hard drive but it’s not usb and it’s difficult to connect and have my computer recognize. When I have a wireless system, the 2 TB hard drive works nicely, but not here in Michigan.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to create a total image backup, but it always fails. I have decided that with the good Windows 10 backup, I am better off just copying the files I need to keep.

Yes, I’ll still need to install programs, but I can do that as I need them: Lotus, MS Streets and Trips, Microsoft Office programs, Word Perfect, and Ipswitch (FTP program) and Coffee Cup html editor.

You soon realize you can never have too many back-ups.

Believe me, figuring out this whole back-up procedure has been a learning experience. For instance, even after I managed to put Windows 10 on the usb drive, I had to learn how to boot to the usb drive so Windows 10 could be installed to my computer.

Sadly little problems take a while to solve. Example: I was trying to find the answer to “after I make a usb that has Windows 10 on it, how can I make it bootable. (If you upgraded to Windows 10 from 7, 8 or 8.5, and you have to do a factory reinstall, it’ll go back to the original Windows version.) I succeeded getting a complete version of my Windows 10 on my usb. Great! Now I had to find out how to have my computer see it and use it instead of the original 8.5 version. I figured that I needed to make my usb bootable so I could get it to start with Windows 10. I tried the instructions I found for creating a bootable usb several times. They were complex and didn’t work.

The simple answer was, your usb doesn’t have to be bootable. You can just ask your computer to use your usb drive first, instead of your “c” drive. It works by having the usb in the usb port and holding down F12 while you press the “on” button.

If anyone is wondering how to achieve a complete back-up (hopefully before they need it), I may be able to help. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I think I’m prepared.

You’d need to buy at least a 16gb usb thumb drive and it’s best if you buy a usb hard drive big enough to hold all of your files. (Keep those separate since you can’t add to the Windows 10 thumb drive once it’s created but the hard drive can be kept current.) Personally I like to have at least two of the file back ups (dated). I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve referenced an “older” version of a file.

Maybe I should create a tutorial on my website, complete with these suggestions.

Ok, that’s one thing for my bucket list. I won’t expect to get paid, but I’d enjoy sharing.

Is there more on my bucket list?

Yup!

The nationally known “Folk Harp Journal,” has ask that I explain the harplist (an email list which I have moderated for about 20 years). They would like an history/explanation/and invitation for harp folks. It’s a chore that is waiting for my attention.

And of course there are personal challenges: playing the harp, playing the marimbula, sewing more, crocheting more ornaments for our Christmas tree, tatting again, cleaning the house, and purging our Michigan place.

How come these items are still on my bucket list?

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I haven’t been able to post

John had a health problem this week which resulted in six days of hospitalization.

Sunday morning, when I woke up, he was in severe pain. I took him to St. Mary’s E.R. where he was admitted.

It was the third time since we returned to Michigan in May that he was hospitalized. This time he had pancreatitis/gall bladder problems.

Apparently this problem also caused the pain that caused his hospitalization in July but it wasn’t diagnosed because it happened immediately after his colonoscopy. The doctors thought the pain was because of trapped air from the colon procedure. That was wrong and I tried to point out that John felt fine after the colonoscopy. We’d had a nice dinner and the pain started about eight hours later. The doctor basically told me I wasn’t a doctor, so I shut up.

Fortunately this time he had a doctor who felt there was a link between the painful episodes. She ordered a enzyme blood test which showed proved his pain claims were, if anything understated. Normal enzyme numbers are 125-150 and John’s numbers were off the chart (over 4,000). After a MRI they decided that the gallbladder caused the pancreatic problems. He had laproscopy gallbladder removal surgery Tuesday.

I brought him home this afternoon (Friday) and he’s resting comfortably.

So now you can see why I haven’t posted for several days.

While he was hospitalized, I got my computer back from Lenovo. It is running beautifully without the problem I encountered before the repair. (The lid had to be replaced because the wiring in the hinge was causing the screen images to “break up”.)

Getting the computer back meant I had a lot of restoring to do. I had backed everything up, but it took a lot of time to have Windows recognize my computer, to upgrade Windows 8.1 back to Windows 10, and then to install all the programs and files. It was probably

My computer is purring.

I hope John continues to improve. We’re concerned because they pumped him full of fluids (since he couldn’t eat or drink) and all that fluid is causing him breathing problems.

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Feeling lost — No computer!!

My Lenovo computer was shipped off yesterday for “under warranty” repair. It should be back in a couple weeks. I’ll survive using my Galaxy smartphone and John’s tablet.

I got tired of having the screen go all wonkers on me so I’d have to reboot. I am sure it’s a bad connection in the hinge. No reason why the hard drive will need to be touched but I’ll bet everything will need to be reinstalled. We’ll see.

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Great plans but reality happened

We planned to remodel our house this year. With John’s health problems, it didn’t happen.

We were going to head north this week. We’ve postponed our trip until the 22nd of August (in a little less than three weeks).

We plan to have a garage sale this fall to rid ourselves of lots of junk. At this point, it sounds like way too much work for John (and me). It may happen. We’ll get back from the U.P. on the 26th and the sale would be the 10th of September so we’d have about two weeks. We’ll see.

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John’s in the hospital again

Thursday John had a colonoscopy. (He had five polyps removed and instructions that he needs to see the doctor in about 10 days when the results from the biopsy are known). He felt pretty good after the procedure so we fixed a dinner and he relaxed at home that evening (Thursday).

At about 4:00 yesterday (Friday) morning he got incredibly sick. He vomited and was in severe pain. We referred to the discharge instructions from the colonoscopy. It said if these symptoms developed and we couldn’t reach the doctor, we should head to the emergency room. We tried calling the doctor without success and I said, “I’m taking you to the outpatient ER.”

When we got there, they felt he was very possibly having or heading to a heart attack. He was transported to the main campus by ambulance and eventually had a cardiac cath. Thankfully he had no heart problems but they kept him overnight. It was a long day. I got home about 6:00 pm.

The doctors were still doing some final evaluation when he called me a short while ago. Hopefully he can come home today. I’ll wait until he calls.

===

About 3:00 he called. I went after him. He’s home! Yeah!!

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Still hot here.

We head to Florida, October 14th. Depending on weather, and traffic conditions, etc. we’ll probably reach our destination the evening of the 15th.

As we exit I-75, we’ll stop and pick up a pizza from South Shore Pizza which is just a couple miles from our condo. With pizza in hand we’ll continue to 2604 Newcomb Court and enjoy the pizza with a beer or two in our Florida home while waiting for the A/C to cool our place. Unloading the vehicle isn’t really necessary that night, but we’ll probably bring a few things inside.

We have a week before our hectic appointment schedule will kick in. Lots of time to settle in and take in pool visits and exercise classes.

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Still trying

I’ve lost only three lousy pounds since I started in late June. I should have lost at least a pound a week but with my hand operation, the festival we just attended, and the extreme hot weather, my ability to shake off pounds with outdoors exercise is limited. I haven’t given up. I know I need to try even harder: less wine, more exercise, fewer muchies.

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Hot..Hot..Hot!

Mountainsmith trekking polesWe’ve been staying inside where we keep the A/C temp set at 76-77 degrees. Outside it’s high 90’s and HUMID. Major yuck!

No plans to spent time outside until it is more comfortable.

After watching my friend Linda with her trekking poles, I bought a pair to assist me walking. I plan to take increasingly longer walks around our lake but for now, I’m making a circle inside the house. It takes a while to get the rhythm of the stride and I’m improving but it’s still not second nature. Maybe, by the time it cools down, I can trekk correctly.

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Facebook ads

I hate the scare tactic “sponsored” ads that frequently show up on the right side of my Facebook page. In an attempt to get your attention, the headlines make it look like they’re posting a newsworthy DEATH NOTICE. This morning the first of these ads I saw contained headlines that Jane Fonda is gone with reference to medical examiner. Right under it was an identical ad saying Jamie Lee Curtis is gone. Since only a few words are shown, they hint at the loss of a famous personality but you must click and read on. This morning I checked. Both actresses are still with us. If you are drawn in and continue to read the article, you’ll find it’s an ADVERTISEMENT. I think it’s despicable that these ads scare tactic ads are allowed. They cause unnecessary sad emotions. Ignore them.

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Heading back to Florida….

Summer’s going fast! During the remainder of July, we have a family dinner and John has a colonoscopy scheduled next Thursday. (Not fun.) Not much else.

During August, we have a 60th class reunion (John’s), we hope to get to the U.P. for three to five days, there’ll be a Skaryd family reunion, and a wedding (John’s sister’s granddaughter).

In September, we will have our first-Wednesday-of-the-month senior potluck and a family dinner, but little else to anticipate. In fact, I’ll have the “fun” (HA!) of writing the three checks to pay Michigan property taxes by mid-September. Near the end of that month, we will start packing the truck so we don’t have to rush when we leave on October 14th.

I’ll be glad to get back to Florida where we constantly have fun stuff on our calendar. When we arrive on October 15th, there’ll be only 15 days remaining in that month. During those two weeks, we have an Elvis Party, Michigan Club Welcome Back Party, an Oldies But Goodies dance, a Baby Boomers tribute to the Beatles evening, doctor and eye appointments, twice a week exercise classes, and if we feel like it, dips in the pool. In addition we’ll be cleaning our Florida condo and settling in. Busy! Busy! Busy! And that’s not including a probable Halloween celebration.

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We’re back in our Michigan home

The festival was really fun, but it’s good to be home. We are more comfortable here.

John wants to go to the Upper Peninsula before we head to Florida but I’d prefer to skip it this year unless we’re arranging for a real estate agent to sell it.

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It’ll all be a memory

Tomorrow we’ll head home from our ODPC Funfest (the largest hammered dulcimer event in the world).

I must admit that we’ve had less “fun” than in the past. We have turned in earlier, and haven’t made much music. But visiting with friends has been great and I’m really glad we came. I think it did us both a lot of good to get out.

John’s looking healthier all the time. He runs out of steam faster than in the past, so we are less active. Hopefully now that the pneumonia is totally gone, he will get stronger. He may never get off oxygen, but living with it is better than the alternative!

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Northwest to Evart, MI

We figured that, since I’m now “retired” and no longer in charge of workshops for this huge dulcimer festival, it would be easy packing. We wouldn’t need all the stuff required in my role as “hostess.” Somehow it didn’t work out that way. We are stuck with the mentality that we need to have everything “just in case.”

And of course, I wanted to be sure that our friend, Linda, would have everything she might need.

We ended up packing only our 10×10 foot Easy-Up and won’t plan to erect our huge 20×20 foot Workshop Leader Rest Area canopy, but since the big one stayed at the fairgrounds, it really didn’t change what we had to bring. We did leave at home many of our folding chairs since we no longer need to accommodate dozens of folks (but I can count a half dozen plus a two-person lounge chair). And we only packed in one five gallon water jug since it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to access ice as easily as we could with the Workshop Chairman golf cart.

We didn’t bring the multitude of workshop programs nor the box of batteries we used in the portable amps and mics.

We had figured we wouldn’t get started until about noon but we left at about 11:00.

Linda’s having brunch with her son in Brighton. She should to Evart by about 3:00. She’s leaving Wednesday so wants a couple days to visit with her music friends.

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We’re going to try it…

Neither John nor I are in prime physical condition. I’m unable to lift much and John gets winded really easily. He was evaluated by his pulmonologist and his pneumonia is nearly gone, but cardiac problem and his IPF has limited him.

And then there’s my wrist which is much better but still limited. I got the stitches out yesterday, but was warned against heavy work. It looks pretty good, but the scars are very visible.

We really want to go to Evart (our huge dulcimer festival). We’ll try, but we know the whole get-ready, get-there, set up the campsite, enjoy it, and pack up for home and return program is beyond what we’re currently capable of. We have struggled when we were well. I don’t know how it’ll work, but we’re planning to go. We’re trying to pare back. We just can’t go with dozens of chairs and all the lifting and toting that involves. But we want to be there having fun. It’s a hard balance to reach.

Our friend, Linda Conklin, is coming tomorrow to help us pack the RV. We have a lot already done, but John still needs to install the 5th wheel in the back of the truck bed and hook it up to the RV. He needs to load in his scooter.

I truly love Linda. She knows how to help. We will enjoy her visit. She’ll also join us at Evart, and then fly back to Florida. We won’t see her this fall/winter in Florida because she (and Wayne) will be heading to Mexico in September and won’t be back in the states until April.

I have almost all of the clothes I’ll need out in the trailer. We’re leaving Sunday.

It’ll work. I’m confident. But we couldn’t do it without Linda. We truly appreciate her!

It’s tough to be handicapped. I have to admit we are no longer physically able to do it all but with the help of our friend, Linda, we want to try.

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Counting

Today, July 6th, 2016, we have been in Michigan 57 days, after our nearly seven months at our condo in Florida. In eight days the ODPC Funfest starts. In 101 days, we’ll be heading back to our Florida paradise. In 307 days, we’ll be back in Michigan in May 2017.

I love keeping track of lists, count downs, etc. I know it’s a weird obsession.

I don’t care that the date we’ll get back to Florida is October 15. To me it’s more fun to know that it’s 101 days.

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Missing our Florida Friends

This is the first time in since 2011 that we haven’t headed to either the Cooper’s or the Brooks’ homes for a great 4th of July party.

Richard and Shelly Brooks sold

    this beautiful home (click to see)

on Cedar Island Lake and are now full-timers in our Florida community. There will be no further parties at this location for this big crazy bunch of fun-loving Michigan/Florida folks.

We miss the fun time we shared with that great group.

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Disappointed

I got a call from my surgeon’s office the day before yesterday. The appointment to remove my stitches was rescheduled from the 5th to the 6th. I was disappointed with the delay.

While talking with Dr. Taha’s assistant, I told her I have been going without the big elastic bandage a great deal of the time. She told me I need to keep the pressure wrap on to protect from infection. (I am sure it’s healing nicely, but I have been doing as I was told.) I liked being able to use my finger and was certain that with that exercise, I would lose less strength but I’m obedient.

The wrap causes my arm to itch but I’ll admit that, after it’s on for a while, it does feel better and more “protected.”

I hope I don’t have to go back to physical or occupational therapy, but somehow I won’t be surprised if it’s suggested.

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Using it more

I washed my hair today! Yup, I used my left hand and got it clean. After it was nearly dry, I used a flat iron and a curling iron and it looks fine! I can’t believe I did it by myself this soon after surgery.

I’ve taken the big bandage off my wrist and I’m using just a light-weight black wrist wrap with a velcro closure. I ordered a better one which should be here Wednesday from Amazon. The stitches won’t be out until next TUESDAY!

John is doing better too. He still gets winded, but he’s learning how much he can do.

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Both of us are doing better

Four days since my surgery to have the plates and screws taken out of my wrist. I’m feeling good about my recovery.

I’m limited because I can’t lift anything (Dr.’s orders). My 12 oz. Kindle with its cover is too heavy to pick up comfortably. Every cup of coffee goes in my left hand. And pouring my glass of wine must be done as a lefty.
At this point, my wrist doesn’t bend (mostly because of the bulky wrap) so eating is a challenge (I can put my food in my ear easier than in my mouth)

But, here’s the good part, I really think that when I get the 16 stitches out, the wrap off, and permission to lift a moderate amount weight with my right hand, I’ll be better than I was before the surgery.

It might be my imagination, but I haven’t experienced the dull almost constant “pain” I had before. I also don’t have quite as much numbness, and my finger flexibility has improved.

I’m looking forward to being able to wash my hands without aching. The plates caused my hand to respond to the cold or heat with such sensitivity that it always hurt to put my hands in water. I couldn’t go in the heated South Club Pool in our Florida community. The water wasn’t warm enough to avoid the pain which it caused.

I’m sure it’ll all be closer to normal.. At least I hope it will.

And, yes, John’s getting stronger daily. All the signs point to slow recovery from the pneumonia. His strength is increasing but he still has pulmonary fibrosis which isn’t going to get better. If he’s just watching TV he often removes his oxygen, but any walking or exertion requires that he have it on. He’s been out of the hospital for a little over three weeks. In three more weeks, I’m sure he’ll have made even more progress. He’s my hero!

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Getting Serious

I’m serious about losing some weight. John is disappointed in me, and I’m disappointed in myself. I’m heavier that I was a year ago. In fact I weigh as much as I weighed at my heaviest in 2002.

2002 was when I was 60. With determination, I lost 20 pounds between March and June. It took effort and following the Weight Watchers Points Plan (although I never actually joined WW). I used a journal and wrote down everything I ate. It worked!

Here it is 2016. I’m now 74 and I’ve regained the 20 I lost previously. It’s harder to get rid of it it this time. My body is in worse shape. I have a belly that I never had before so clothing fits differently. I’ve lost at least half an inch of height so I look fatter.

I am determined to do something about it. I joined an smart phone app program called “Lose It.” I believe it will help. I’ll have the support of a community of folks with similar goals. I’ve already “friended” two ladies.

I have also ordered a Jawbone UP Move activity tracker. It will work with Lose It to keep me moving and motivated. My goal is to lose 16-21 pounds before we head back to Florida in October. I figure that means I must lose a little over a pound a week. Since starting with Lose It Tuesday, I’ve shed 1.5 pounds. Gotta keep it up!!

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Comparing

I can’t help but compare our time here in Michigan to winters in Florida. Here are some of the differences:

It is hotter (most of the time) in Florida especially during the summer months.
It’s greener here. The lush Michigan foliage amazes me.
At this time of the year (June), it rains more in Florida.
With the exception of squirrels, we have more small furry critters here like rabbits and chipmunks.
More close friends in Florida.
Relatives in Michigan.
More chores to do here in Michigan.
More activities and fun in Florida.
Our house is nicer/bigger here but needs more work and is harder to keep clean.
Here in Michigan, “going shopping” is a big event. While in Florida we go to town nearly daily (by golf cart).
The Saginaw area is really shabby.
Both places have lovely views.
I spend more time outside in Florida.
More potholes in Saginaw.
Politics are lousy in both states.
On average, groceries are cheaper in Michigan.
Since we never have company in Michigan, it’s easy to let housework slide.
In Florida, I need to keep everything polished and ready for company because folks frequently drop in.

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Appreciate cool and rainy weather

With John’s health so fragile I would love to have him take time to recover but not my John. He wants to catch up and get the lawn mowed and things looking good.

Thank heavens it has been cool and it rained a great deal yesterday and all day today. He was forced to take it easy.

He even admitted that he needed the rest.

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Our plans

We had some great plans for this summer. We were going to do some major remodeling of our kitchen and master bathroom but we haven’t started yet because of our preoccupation with John’s health.

We thought we’d go to the U.P. in June to get a tree off the top of our hide-away place west of Manistique and down the Garden Peninsula, but it hasn’t happened yet.

We planned (and still hope) to go to the ODPC Funfest in July.

John was looking forward to working in the yard, but he hasn’t been able to keep up with the lawn.

I’ve been trying to purge some of our junk, but it’s a slow process. I took some to the Salvation Army donation site, but a lot of the stuff we want to get rid of should be sold. Today I listed my lap harp on a couple sites, and I plan to list more later this week. I haven’t begun to scratch the surface.

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John’s on a tether (a restrictive leash)

John recovered from pneumonia but with pulmonary fibrosis, he’s still not well. He’s now on oxygen all the time. He uses a pre-filled tank when away from home or outside and an oxygen generator inside. When he’s in the house the generator allows him to breathe comfortably. He has the sorta noisy generator in a corner of the great room. The tubing is 50 feet long. That means he can go most anyplace in the house. Both first floor bathrooms, our bedroom, the kitchen, dining room and great room are available to him. He can even make it out to the garage. Not hard to find him… I just follow the clear tube from the generator to him.

He got the oxygen last Tuesday evening after he was released from the hospital. Wednesday we went shopping and we picked up some newly prescribed prescriptions.

Shopping was an experience. At Krogers, he loaded the tank into a shopping cart which he walked behind. It was further than he should have tried walking but he made it. In Meijers, he used their handicapped mobility cart. It worked much better. I did the excursions to get stuff, while he stuck to the main aisles around the store. He was less tired than he had been at Krogers but he probably over-did it. He rested up Thursday.

Last night (Friday), we went out to our long-anticipated walleye dinner at the Moose club. We parked in the handicapped area and he made it into the Moose without oxygen. It was a nice evening. He did remarkably well. I did a little shopping afterward while he waited in the car.

We have to plan ahead and bring enough tanks (a full tank lasts about five hours) or he must try breathing without the supplemental oxygen. It’s a constant challenge.

He won’t give up yard work or cooking. He’s careful to avoid open flames around his oxygen, but he can bake and microwave and he can shut off the oxygen while he cooks on our gas range.

Yard work is his idea. We argue about the wisdom of him riding on his rider. Although he wears a mask-type respirator, we can easily afford to have the work done, but he’s insistent that he wants to do it. I can’t convince him, even with a quoted price of $35 which is half of what I expected.

I’m trying to do more for him than before but he’s proud and stubborn. I do a lot of the leg work (getting him a drink of water, etc.) He says he can’t just sit around, but at 78, he should learn that on your butt is not a bad place to be, especially if it helps to make you healthier.

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John’s coming home!

John was hospitalized over the Memorial Day holiday. Hopefully he’ll be released this afternoon. He’ll be coming home but he’ll need to continue using oxygen but at least I have him at home.

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John’s condition

John’s comfortable but not well. He’s on oxygen 24/7 and antibiotics to get him over the lung infection (double pneumonia). This morning he had an adverse reaction to the antibiotic. (I am also sensitive to antibiotics so I know that you can use one for a few days and then – wham! you get a reaction.) They tried again this afternoon but it started again so now they’ll try to find one he can tolerate. He won’t be released until Tuesday, June 2nd. He’ll have been there a week.

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Yesterday.. what a day

We started out the day by going to my wrist surgeon. I will have the plates removed, but he made me feel that it’s “my choice.” He doesn’t realize how uncomfortable my wrist is.

We left there and about 2:30 we went to the St. Mary’s outpatient emergency room. He hasn’t been feeling well and his pulmonologist had suggested that he go to the E.R. for a chest x-ray and ct scan.

At the E. R. he was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia (aka double pneumonia) and possibly congestive heart failure (which means fluid around the heart). Although he wasn’t happy about it, they said he needed to be admitted to St. Mary’s Medical Center. I hung around the emergency facility until 7:00 pm but finally headed home. The ambulance finally transported him to the hospital and he was admitted to his room about 8:30. I sure hope he doesn’t have to stay long.

He called me this morning and said he’s feeling a little better.

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Obsessed with John’s condition

I notice the only thing I’ve talked about lately is John’s health. That’s all I think about.

I’m sure he’s tired of hearing me ask, “How are you feeling?” I bug him about it all the time. Patiently he replies, but maybe it’s to shut me up.

His energy is non-existent and it rubs off on me. While watching TV, he sleeps. I don’t feel like doing anything. (I justify my laziness by saying to myself, “I were to bustle around, he’d feel compelled to try to do more.”)

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Maybe it’s the flu

John’s been feeling so rotten that we’ve begun to wonder if maybe he has a bug. Afterall even with pulmonary fibrosis, he can still catch the flu.

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Times they are a-changing

John hasn’t been doing very well. He’s been sick, short of breath and miserable.

Yesterday, he stopped taking Esbriet, which is the pricey medicine prescribed for his idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in January. It comes with many side-effects. He felt he couldn’t cope with the constant nausea and the absence of taste sensors which mean nothing tasted good. After losing nearly 20 pounds, he felt it was time to take a break from the poisoning of his body by this potent medicine.

(I should note that a majority of those taking Esbriet quit due to the side effects. His doctors said 75% or more of their patients had quit taking it.)

He had an appointment with his Saginaw pulmonologist Monday. She recognized that he’s gone down-hill. She said normally the best you can hope for staying comparatively well (even with treatment) lasts five or six years. John’s nearly to seven years!

She is having him tested to see if his lung problem may have reached a point where he isn’t getting sufficient oxygen as he sleeps. If that’s the case, his heart could be affected. She feels the arrhythmia he’s been diagnosed with could be an indication that he’s developing this problem. The fix is to have him wear an oxygen nose mask when he sleeps (like those diagnosed with sleep apnea use). He won’t use it all the time, but at night, it might help him.

He and his physician talked over his need for a handicapped parking placard. There are times when he truly can’t walk the distances required. His doctor filled out all the paperwork and today we got him a handicap permit at the Secretary of State office.

This afternoon was a good example of his need for that privilege. We went shopping, but he could only make it to the door, and he just couldn’t go further. He’d run out of oxygen. I ran around the store while he guarded our shopping cart near the door. He was exhausted.

But looking ahead, we were also worried about our Evart festival and what would happen if we ended up with a distant campsite. He’d just be stuck at our RV. And when we’re headed back to Florida next fall, we were concerned that we’d have a similar problem to last year. Our motel room had close-by parking places but they were all handicapped. John couldn’t have handled the luggage from the non-handicapped spots. The motel management understood his situation and said, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll vouch for you and explain there were no other sites, if you have a problem.” Now he can legally occupy the closer spots.

Today we stopped at a half dozen places after he had the placard, but he never used it. He won’t abuse the privilege but he’ll have it, if needed.

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Adjusting to Michigan

John’s been totally worn-out since getting home. For the first time, he actually said “maybe” when I suggested flying back to Florida in October instead of driving. We have a guy (Larry’s Ride) who could pick us up at Tampa International for $35. Problem would be the stuff we’re able to bring with us including: wine that John’s making, favorite clothes, musical instruments (banjo, uke, hammered dulcimer, marimbula and autoharp), air purifier, and food. I keep trying to leave more and not drag it back and forth, but some items are needed both places.

Before we left last fall, I had in mind that I’d leave clothes in Florida, but by the time I started packing to head north, I’d forgotten what we had here. Therefore I brought most of my popular items back with us. Now I’m finding lots of stuff I can wear this summer so I could have left more in the south. I just have to do more list making this fall.

I’m trying to get organized and clean this place but there’s still lots more to be done around here.

Later:

We had planned to go to the Moose Club for all-you-can-eat walleye tonight. But John had a rough day and didn’t feel like spending an evening away from home. We ran to the closest supermarket for coffee and something for a meal but we were only gone about a half hour. At home we made a huge pot of chili and had it for dinner. Hopefully tomorrow he’ll feel better. Today is Friday. We have dinner plans with his siblings Sunday at 1:00 and Monday he sees his pulmonologist. I hate seeing him so uncomfortable. His nausea came back and his oxygen levels are scary low. He’s weak and has lost more weight (which he can’t afford to lose). I just hope he bounces back. I think he needs to start finding help. He can’t maintain the yard alone, and I am not much help. (I’ll be having surgery on my hand probably this month.)

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We made it back to Michigan this afternoon

We left our Florida condo Sunday, stayed overnight in Marietta, Georgia, and last night in Miamisburg, Ohio. Made it home about 2:30. The trip was fairly uneventful. A few traffic jams slowed us down, but we managed to survive them. We got home in time to the drag stuff from our truck inside, but it will take a few days to get everything back where it belongs.

Now that we’re at our Thomas Township home, I have to ask: how can a house get really yucky dirty with no one here for seven months? There are dead petals all over the hot tub room where we store the geraniums for re-planting, there are lots of dead flies/bugs around the house, the toilets were disgusting and the dust is unbelievable. The stuff we brought back with us is piled up on most level surfaces. I want to know: how could anyone leave a house in October looking like this?!! Housekeeping isn’t my thing, but this is beyond my understanding. I’m so ashamed but too tired to do anything about it.

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I’ve been neglectful of this blog

Sorry to anyone who like to follow this blog and have found that I’ve been lazy (or preoccupied). I will try to do better.

We have been busy packing for our trip back to Michigan. We leave Sunday, the 8th. We always hang around for the big Kentucky Derby party hosted by the Michigan Club. This year that event is May 7th.

This past month has been VERY busy! We have attended several parties including a “birthday party” for four girlfriends who will have birthdays after the snowbirds have left for the summer. We also attended an appreciation dinner by the Michigan Club, a dinner/dance for Baby Boomers members, a Front Porch Pickers picnic, a farewell party at the home of friends, an evening with another couple, and a birthday lunch for a super nice lady friend. We went to a 40th anniversary party for best friends the Conklins, a couple dances (including one featuring the Dukes) and even spent an afternoon helping a friend with her computer and smartphone. With that lengthy list, you can understand why I haven’t been doing as much blog posting.

And we’ve been packing. Packing involves moving the lanai furniture into the garage (stowing the fabric cushions in plastic bags). Thank heavens John finished that chore on Tuesday before we got nearly 4″ of rain. The lanai and everything on it was soaked.

Of course I have scheduled the vacation changes which take time. I have scheduled shut off our Brighthouse cable service which includes our wi-fi for Monday after we’ve left. I’ve contacted our newspapers, the post office, and our credit card company.

I also spent a full afternoon making sure my smart phone would work as a hot spot.

Last year we used Charter wi-fi and TV in our Michigan home, but this year I’m trying a cheaper solution. I have established a wi-fi ($30 monthly) hotspot through my smart phone. We’ll get our TV through our digital roof-top antenna so we’ll get all local channels but maybe nothing like HGTV and History which we enjoy here in Florida. Hopefully some of our Brighthouse channels will still be available to us via my smartphone myBrighthouse service. Doing it this way will give us connection to the outside world when we’re on our way home, at our place in the upper peninsula and also when we go to Evart.

Last year we paid for a month of Charter that we couldn’t use (because we weren’t home). This way we’ll be able to take it with us where ever we are and at a savings of about a hundred a month.

The hot spot will extend to my computer and John’s tablet. That way John will be able to access the stock market and major news stations. We’ll all be happy!

The only requirement for making my phone into a hot spot was keeping my “unlimited Verizon usage” and paying the $30 monthly. It has cost me a bit more but hopefully it’ll pay off.

My to-do list is still huge. Lots of the stuff I have to do is “last minute” but I think it’s all doable.

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My health

I’m so consumed by John’s health problems, that I rarely think about mine, but this week I made an effort and had my first mammogram in many years and I also had ultrasound on a lump on my neck. Hopefully both tests will show that everything’s fine. (I haven’t heard back yet, but both techs sounded like I have nothing to worry about.)

I also had my eyes checked this week and that was a bit scary because I know my both mother and my aunt were blind when they died. I was worried about glauchoma but I show no signs of it. Whew! But I know I have the starting of macular degeneration (which I was diagnosed with last year), but I was pleased that it hasn’t progressed at all.

So I am apparently quite healthy, and I just need to worry about John.

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I got the results back and I’m healthy. Nothing negative to report at all. The neck swelling is apparently fluid and the mammogram showed nothing irregular. I have my fall tests scheduled with my primary care physician when we return, and an appointment with my wrist surgeon in Michigan, but I guess for a 74-year-old lady, I have no health major concerns.

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Catching you up

Let’s see… What’s happened lately?

John has been suffering from side effects from his new medication which has caused nausea. Not fun.

We had a visit from Mary Lou and Hugh Battley this week. They are Michigan friends who attend our big Evart festival. They were staying in the Orlando area. On Tuesday they stayed overnight with the Conklins, and Wednesday they came here for a brunch. In addition to the Conklins, Cindy & Mike Baker also joined us for the brunch. It was sort of an Evart reunion. They even made music.

I worried for about a month about our license tabs. Two of our three mandatory license renewals came quickly (they expired on John’s birthday, March 1st), but the GMC truck’s didn’t show up and we will drive it back to Michigan. Finally I contacted the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and the tab was re-sent. And yes, you guessed it, the first one finally arrived and two days later, the second one came. We’re doubly set.

We haven’t gone to the pool much. John’s concerned about “catching something” and swimming pools are a prime spot for picking up germs. I know that if I catch a bug, he’ll end up with it so it just isn’t worth the risk. After spring breakers have headed back north, we may try the Nantucket pool, which doesn’t have as many children.

During April, we have several fun activities to look forward to: a dance with a great band April 1st (Rocky and the Rollers). John’ll be in the mixed chorus concert a week from tomorrow (the 4th). The Michigan Club will give all workers a great appreciation dinner April 8th. We are invited a cookout/potluck at the home of fun friends on the 9th; the 10th there’s an Elvis street party. The 17th we’ll attend a dance and dinner (free) for Baby Boomer members. And on April 23rd, our friends the Conklins are going to host a 40th anniversary party.

The number of activities in April is down a bit from earlier months, but we’ll be out and about.

We’ll also have doctor appointments galore. John has several and I have one with my GP and one with my eye doctor.

Forty-two days from today we leave for Michigan (May 8th).

I love being in Florida, but I’ll be ready to head back. Just hope the snow storms have stopped by the time we drive back, and the rock slide damaged highway is repaired near the Tennessee/Kentucky border.

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birthdays and brew

We celebrated John’s 78th birthday yesterday by first going to one of his doctor appointments in Tampa. After that, we went to Busch Gardens where we saw a great Chubby Checker performance at 1:30. We left Busch Gardens and enjoyed a nice late lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. At home we had margueritas and birthday cake. Not very exciting but l am sure he enjoyed it.

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Time is Running Out

142 days ago (as of today, February 28th), we arrived in Florida (October 10th, 2015).

It was warm and lovely during the months of October, November, and December. But January and February we had cool weather but spring’s now right around the corner. Two weeks from today clocks spring ahead when daylight savings plan goes into effect. The temperatures are now warming and hopefully we’ll be in the mid-70’s this week.

In 70 days we’ll be packed up and on the road north. In fact 70 nights from tonight, hopefully we’ll be just north of Atlanta.

I love it here in Florida, but with the cool weather it’s felt like I’ve been robbed of some of the fun stuff we enjoy.

We’ve attended some enjoyable parties. On January 23rd, there was the very nice Michigan Club SnoBall and since then, several other fun evenings. We attended a wine and cheese party put on by the H.O.A. We had a good time at a couple caribbean themed dances, and last week I was chairman of the Michigan Club’s annual pizza party which was a tremendous success.

Sadly John’s best friend, George, died last week. We knew it was going to happen, and George called him two days before he passed. They’d said their good-byes. Still heart-breaking.

John’s health continues to deteriorate. He’s now on a new medication which may help. We’re praying.

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The price of health..??!!

Yesterday were told today that the medicine my husband’s just been prescribed might cost (are you sitting down and ready for this?) $8,000 to $9,000 per MONTH. Thankfully we do have Medicare approval which will cut the price by 2/3’s (still leaving $3,000 per month). Also we have insurance and maybe some other help. Even with this huge price tag there’s definitely no assurance that it’ll help at all. Worth a try and they do give us a free month, but our Michigan doctor (pulmonologist) said most folks don’t benefit.

Can you imagine buying anything else that expensive with no “give you your money back” if it doesn’t work guarantee? There has to be a way that folks aren’t taken advantage of by the pharmaceutical companies for drugs with minimal efficacy.

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Weather’s Lousy but Doesn’t Pay to Complain

As I had figured, my superbowl “pool” numbers didn’t pay off. At least I personally know the winner of the $500 (final) prize so I am sure the money went to someone who can use it. (And maybe I can guilt them into a beer on their tab.)

Because of the cool weather, we’ve been stuck inside but, not wanting to give up on the idea of being in the south in pleasant weather, we rode in our golf cart to a 9:00 a.m. Home Owners’ Association meeting today. Wasn’t at all cold because we have the sides down, and in fact we were too warm when we were headed home in the sun.

Tomorrow it’ll be colder (high in the 50’s instead of the 60’s) and we want to go to our 10:30 exercise class using our cart. At 2:00, John has a cardiologist appointment and at 5:00 we’re invited to a Fat Tuesday party. We’ll probably go in our golf cart to all. It’s just so much easier.

But Wednesday, Jon has an appointment in Tampa and for that we’ll go by vehicle.

I truly think we could get along better without our car than our golf cart. We use our golf cart every day (several times a day), and the car maybe once every week or two.

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Super Bowl Sunday

I’m in a Super Bowl (gambling) pool for tonight. My numbers are 2 for Broncos and 6 for the Panthers. Hopefully my numbers will match the last digit of a quarterly score, or better yet, the final score. In other words, a score could be 22 (or 12) for the Broncos and 6 (or 16) for the Panthers and I’d win (either as a quarterly or final score).

I just went to a website that shows the odds for each number combination. Based on the past 49 Super Bowls my numbers have NEVER come up at the end of any quarter!! NEVER EVER! I’ll pray my numbers will win, but I’m not very optimistic because I’m sure there are others He would correctly deem more worthy.

Here’s where you can find the best and worse Super Bowl pool numbers: Super Bowl Odds Probabilities.

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Nice stretch

We’ve had several days of beautiful weather. Today it was 84 and about the same yesterday and 70’s tomorrow. Unfortunately it’s not going to last and we’ll have a high of only about 60 the day after tomorrow.

We attended the lovely Michigan Club SnoBall last weekend. It was beautiful, as usual and the food was very good. We even enjoyed the dance music, which we’d feared would be inappropriate for a such a fancy event but was darned good.

Now I need to start working on the Michigan Club Pizza Party. I’m chairman but I have a very helpful committee so it shouldn’t be too bad. John will be working on the beer dispensing equipment. I’m sure it’ll work out ok.

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A different kind of cold

Most of my life I spent my winters in Michigan where I’ve experienced lots of frigid temperatures. I remember once when it got down to -32. There was also an occasion when the fuel in the car “froze.”

There is something about Florida cold that is more penetrating. You can look out at lovely sunshine, but when it’s only the 50’s, it’s dern chilly!

This week the temps plummeted. Last night and the night before, it went down into the 40’s. Burrrr!

At least we haven’t had frost but the heat has been on and I threw another blanket on the bed.

I noticed this morning one of the “walkers” had on snowboots, a heavy jacket, and one of those Yooper Stormy Kromer hats.

The news suggests bringing in your pets and cold shelters have been opened for the homeless.

But the hearty tourists are determined to enjoy the “warmer” weather so they can be seen in tee shirts, shorts, and flip flops.

too true

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They came and we’re satisfied

Our new chairs and table. We may enjoy lunch here, but probably won’t eat dinner at the table until later in the season. (When we have dinner at this time of the year, it’s so dark out that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view.)

Perfect!

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Upset with Choxi.com

In early December I made a purchase (for myself) from Choxi for an undergarment that didn’t fit at all (despite the fact that I’d checked and used the measurements suggested for the item.) It wasn’t cheap ($29) so when it didn’t fit, I contacted the company and set it back. As a result, after it was returned, I had $29 credit for other purchases.

I shopped the site and found a RCA 7″ tablet for John. With the credit ($29), I only had to pay an additional $12, or $41 total.

The tablet came but it was a disappointment because it wouldn’t charge. I thought it was just the charger cable, so I bought another charger on eBay, but it didn’t work any better. It was obvious that the tablet was the problem.

I contacted Choxi on December 21 and talked over the problem. I was given a choice: return the tablet and have a replacement shipped or I could get a $41 refund. I opted for the refund. I made sure, I had the amount to be refunded in writing:

The confirmation email I received included this statement: “Once processing is complete, a refund will be issued for the amount of $41.00.”

Today I saw the refund amount in my Visa credit card on-line statement. It was for $12. I wasn’t happy. I called Choxi and explained the whole situation and that I have in my possession an email which stated the refund would be for $41.

After a loooong conversation, I got the customer rep to agree to credit the $29 back to my credit card. At first he said, “But it’s a credit on your Choxi account and you can spend it.”

I said, “I’ve purchased two items from Choxi and I’ve returned both of them. Why would I want a $29 credit with your company?”

I’ll hope the $29 eventually gets into my Visa account. I’ll post that happens.

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Didn’t take long. The full $41 has now been credited to our credit card. Thanks Choxi.

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Shopping on line

In Michigan, we enjoy eating in front of our great room window facing the lake. We sit there long after the meal has finished just chatting – often for hours.

Here in Florida we eat at the bar, which is convenient, but it doesn’t give us a view of anything but the TV set.

Today I shopped for a small table and two chairs to go in front of our slider windows which overlook the golf course and pond. The set will be small enough that we’ll be able to see past it and it won’t obstruct our view. I shopped for THREE hours but I think we’ll like what I picked out.

Here is a photo I put together of the two purchases (two chairs, although my photo shows only one, and the table with a totally transparent pillar). I’m not sure I got the sizes correct, but close.

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My Resolutions for 2016

Sadly my main resolution (self-promise), like the one millions of others make, is to lose weight. I say “sadly” because I’ve made the same promise for years and years. Never works!!

I mentioned my desire to slim down to my physician who discouraged me by saying that I am where I should be. Regardless, I would feel better if I could lose about 15 pounds of belly-fat.

I know the basic “how-to-do-it.” I just need to eat less and exercise more. I need to cut-back to a maximum of one glass of wine with dinner, not two or more; and at parties, consume less and no munchies.

I will be happy if I lose 3/4 to 1 pound a week. If I can do that, by the time we get back to Michigan, I should be down to my goal.

I won’t eat many sweets (’cause I don’t enjoy them anyway), and fewer chips. I’ll try to eat more salads.

And now that the temperature is lower, I will try to walk more. I will attempt to meet a goal of 8,000 to 10,000 steps daily. I’m not going to talk about it, just do it! I will weigh myself at least once a day in the a.m. and keep a ledger at least weekly. If I don’t see a four pound loss by the first of February, I will go back to writing down every bite I eat. I won’t be upset if every day I don’t stick to my goals, but if I can work toward ultimate goal, I should be successful.

And I’ll try to remember to take my vitamins and eat more hot peppers (’cause they help with digestive problems).

This I vow!!!!

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‘Twas the Day After Christmas

We wore ourselves getting ready for our Christmas Eve party and our big Christmas turkey dinner so today is a “day of rest.” Sure feels good to have nothing pressing.

Tomorrow the Conklins are coming over and we’ll play a little music. We could have done it today, but we needed more time to “recover.”

Today is Saturday, I had only two glasses of wine at our party (Thursday) and one yesterday with dinner but I have felt “hung over.” At least today my headache’s better. My daughter said it’s a “let-down” response. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact couldn’t sleep for a couple nights before the party and was too wound up the night after it. (Therefore I was probably only averaging only about an hour or two of sleep each night.) Last night I crashed for nearly SEVEN hours. Much better!

We’re enjoying left-overs. At noon today, John had made some yummy turkey noodle/vegetable soup with homemade noodles and lots of carrots and potatoes. Tonight it’s ham sandwiches with ham left-over from Christmas Eve.

It’s been really hot here. Today it was mid-80’s which was a record-beating repeat of every day this past week. We’re watching a football game from Texas where they’re having a blizzard. Seems really strange. I heard it’s been cool and windy in Michigan and many lost power because of the wind. Our power up north was out one night last week for about 30 minutes. I frequently check the status of our security system (which monitors motion, door-entry, power, heat, and water) and everything’s fine.

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Fly Invasion

Several days ago, John decided to clean our oven with the self-cleaner. Unfortunately the process creates an ugly smell so we opened all the windows and doors, hoping it would all air out and continue to smell fresh.

Since coming to Florida in about 2002, we’ve bragged that, except for an occasional Florida crawly bug (which are controlled by our regular insecticide service), we have no insects. Ants, yes, and occasionally a cockroach but mosquitoes and flies have been non-existent. We removed our screens and we’ve left windows and doors wide open. It’s been wonderful!

But somehow the smell of the oven being cleaned attracted flies. Not just one or two appeared.. there were dozens and dozens and dozens. We swatted for a couple hours and eliminated them. Sometimes we could get three with one hit! It was awful.

So we hauled out the sliding door screens from the garage and installed them. Can’t help but feel that the flies are temporary but they are a nuisance and we can’t live with them as plentiful as they’ve been.

It’s now been a few days and they aren’t as many as they were a few days ago, but we definitely feel we need the screens. How could one oven cleaning change the balance of things? We want to go back to no flies.. even if it means a dirty oven.

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Lovely ride

Tonight the two of us took an after dark golf cart ride around Kings Point. It was a beautiful evening (about 75 degrees) so no jacket was necessary. We were enveloped in the wonderful warmth of the Florida atmosphere.

Christmas lights were plentiful and lovely. It was nice to see the holiday festive creations in our lovely community.

Our court (Newcomb) was as nicely decorated as any area we visited.

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Tonight was the Nantucket V Christmas Party

We live in a great neighborhood in Kings Point: Nantucket V.

Tonight I re-discovered that this blog is “followed” by one of my favorite “neighbors.”

She has read this boring site for years and years. I’m honored. Somehow I feel I should live up to her respect for what I write. Unfortunately I do this rather haphazardly. I write when I feel like it or when some update seems to be necessary.

I’m going to try to add more frequently to my blog but it’ll probably have to wait until we get past Christmas. Until then, I’m going to be really busy. We’re hosting a big crowd Christmas Eve and we have parties galore.

But I vow that I’ll try to write more frequently. I love writing. It’s just that I’m always short of time.

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Lazy Days

Right now I’m vegging. I felt rotten most of the day, so I stayed in. It was some digestive thing that knocked me off-center, but I’m back to normal now…. and vegging. Life is good!

We’ve gone to a couple of parties lately. Shelly and Richard included us in their Thanksgiving party, we attended a Rocking Through the Ages dance Sunday evening, and last night John sang in the Kings Point Mixed Chorus Christmas Concert last night followed by the “after-glow” party. It was all very nice but I didn’t feel up to par last night and feeling uncomfortable continued all day today. I think it’s passed now. Thank heavens!

We will be busy this next week. Sunday is the largest of our Christmas Party gatherings, the Baby Boomers Christmas Party.

Unfortunately we’ve had a problem with our USPS mailbox lately. The lock is broken/stuck and won’t be replaced until Friday. In the meanwhile, we can’t get any mail nor packages delivered via USPS. I hope it’s soon fixed because John’s cellphone should be coming as well as a bathroom rug for our newly renovated bathroom. We’re also expecting a wall art piece which you can see here but it should arrive tomorrow via UPS.

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I think the art piece (photo above) will compliment our great room.

Our guest bathroom looks great with the new vessel sink, granite, rubbed bronze faucet, and new vanity lights. It’s lovely. The kitchen still needs the backsplash to be complete, but the granite, the faucet, and the undermounted sink have made it much nicer.

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Our place is shaping up and we sure don’t want to start over in another place. This one serves us nicely!

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Granite Installation

Our granite counters were installed yesterday in the kitchen and guest bath. Looks good but there’s lots to be completed. Love the new faucets. The vessel sink in the bath and under-mounted kitchen sink are both nicer than I imagined. (Prettiest vessel sink I’ve ever seen!)

With no water hooked up in the kitchen or bath, it was a pain to rinse the dishes in the master bathroom, but it was only for one day. Tonight John got the kitchen drain and water working!

Our new guest bath mirror arrived, but before we can hang it, we need to patch screw holes and paint behind where the old one was located. The different lights may require wall repair. Since the light fixture won’t arrive until Tuesday, there’s only so much we can do. It’ll be great when it’s finished but we aren’t there yet.

When these things are complete, we still need to do the tile back-splash in the kitchen. That may wait until after Christmas. We’ll see.

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Not Thursday the 12th, but finally we have Granite

The granite workers arrived this a.m. at 8:45 and finished the job about 1:00 p.m. The job was a week later than we’d thought but they were fast and efficient.

We have new granite counters in the kitchen and guest bathroom. It looks very nice. We didn’t pay for super large pieces of granite, so we have three seams, but it is still very nice. We’re pleased with the results. Much nicer than the white formica.

The installers put the granite in, but the plumbing is up to us. John has said he can do it, but it has turned into a bigger job than he thought. The kitchen sink has to have the “drain” lowered because the undermounted sink takes up space below the sink area which means the drain starts closer to the floor. John will have to revise the PVC piping.

In the bathroom, it’s the opposite situation. The vessel sink sits on the counter so the water lines and drain have to go higher.

The vessel sink is the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

The new rubbed bronze oval mirror will arrive tomorrow and the four contemporary rubbed bronze lights about next Tuesday.

It’ll all look grand when it’s finished, but it will take a lot of effort. I’d like to have John call in a plumber. It would be a small job for a professional with the proper tools, but for John, it’ll be a several day challenge.

Hopefully I can post photos in about a week (or maybe two). As long as it’s ready for the Christmas Eve crowd, I’ll be satisfied.

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Our kitchen and bath enhancements to be installed Thursday!

It’ll be nice to have our kitchen and guest bath done! After that’s finished, I’d like to concentrate on the “office area” so we can have extra storage added.

To get it right, I’d be happy to pull out the cabinets John installed and start over, but maybe we can work around them. The desk that is currently there is a joke because it will never be used as a desk. It just has a pile of stuff on it. The only flat surface we need is a place to put my printer and set the router and modem for our wi-fi. What we need is a big pantry and closet space for the vacuums, mops, etc.

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Thursday came and went. No granite yet and no set date for the install.

We cleared Thursday and Friday of this week but those days have passed. Next week we are busy ALL WEEK until Friday.

When they finally call us, we’ll have to tell them Friday (the 20th) has to be the day. We can’t miss Elvis party (Monday); doctor appointments and Michigan Club party (Tuesday); ticket buying, Pickers Meeting, Sportsmen’s Club Meeting (Wednesday); and RV annual Storage Club meeting (Thursday). The following week is clearer, but we would like to get it done!

Seems like this business figures we can just “be there.” That’s not how it works.

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An exercise in “buying”

Yesterday we invited a sales person into our home to give us a quote on granite for our kitchen. His prices are awesome and he knew all about granite. Therefore we have signed a contract with his company but…. and here’s the big but….

we went through hell!!

This sales guy was a “talker.” When he finished his sales pitch we knew all about his family, his history, his interests, his assets, his holdings, his marriage, but he never once asked anything about us..

He wasn’t interested in us and we are interesting folks. He never found out we are musicians. We have homes in central Michigan and in the U.P. and we came to Florida because of my mother. My cousin was Stephen Foster. We have four children between us and we’ve been married for 30 years.

Once, when he said, “I don’t know what you did for a living,” so I said that John was a pilot and air traffic controller and I worked for a hospital, so I at least get that much in, but he didn’t follow up on anything. He didn’t care.

We could have yacked about our history as long as he did .. maybe longer, and we may have wanted to, but we weren’t given a chance.

Today (day two) he took off on a lecture about the internet and the risks thereof, so I finally broke in and said, “I have at least 10 websites, I have been the webmaster for a major hospital, I know all about the risks, I understand the internet…” but still he didn’t pause and continued as if we needed to be educated. Believe me, I know more than he does!!

Two hours later he finally left.. We had hardly gotten a word in sideways and we were exhausted and John hasn’t recover all day.

No matter how good the job turns out, I feel we’ll have some bad feelings. Why can’t some people learn to be quiet. Listening is a skill.

His price, product, and knowledge sold us so he didn’t have to do much. We didn’t need to hear about his uncle’s and his father’s successes, his finding a rare/valuable painting, his wonderful abilities, etc.

It would have been nice if he’d taken a breath and sounded interested in us. If he’d said, “Tell me something about the two of you.” The truth is, he didn’t care about us, his clients, his purchasers. All he wanted to do was to sell himself.

I asked if others would take over the process now that he’s sold us on the granite installation and he said yes, so we went ahead with the deal. Hopefully our involvement with this individual will end now that the contract has been sold.

We’re still worn out!

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Palmetto Boat Trip – October 25th

We took a boat trip down the Manatee River leaving from Palmetto, FL, on Sunday, October 25th, with a big bunch of our Kings Point friends.

The capacity of the boat was 44. We had about 42. It was a tight fit and seating had to be found for the last ten to arrive. But things went along smoothly until a loud alarm sounded 3/4’s of the way through the cruise and the engines died unexpectedly. But we were never at risk. We could have been towed back to the starting point. The captain got little frantic. Finally he got one of the two engines running and we limped back.

Being subjected to something totally spontaneous and unexpected made it more fun!

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We had wine so we were ok!!

After the boat trip, we all enjoyed dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. The day was fun and memorable!

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Exercise

Today we went to the “Sit and Get Fit” exercise class. We’ve vowed to attend regularly (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Felt good after an hour workout. No, it’s not a strenuous class, but enough to make you feel you have worked lots of lazy muscles.

Tomorrow and/or Saturday I hope to get to the pool, and Sunday we have a sightseeing boat trip planned up the Manatee River from Palmetto. There’ll be about 16 of us going and then we’ll all go out for dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Sounds like fun!

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Not 100% but who is?

I feel lots better.

Last night we went to a party (Michigan Club Wine and Cheese Party), and today attended a Nantucket V Home Owners Association meeting.

The weather has been a little over-cast today with a few light showers, but right now the bright sunshine is almost blinding.

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8 days here and still ailin’

Seems that I take a couple steps toward “feeling better” but then the next day, I go back a step or two. Can’t seem to really improve that much. My cough is still deep and nasty, and I run out of steam even walking across the room.

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It keeps hanging on

We’ve been here for six days and I’ve been miserable with this lousy cold most of the time. I’ve stayed inside and away from folks so I won’t spread my bug to our Florida friends.

We’ve settled in. The stuff we brought with us has been put away. We like the looks of the new deck chairs on the lanai. The whole place is very comfortable. Only clean-up chore left to be done is washing the windows. John power washed the patio and lanai which left lots of ugly water-spots on our huge 9′ sliding doors, and other windows.

Because I’ve been coughing so much and have had a constantly running nose, I haven’t made it to the pool. Tomorrow, maybe?

Actually tomorrow I’m hoping to go to nearly new (resale shop), and to Walmart. We’ll see if we can fit the pool in.

We’ve been considering buying a bigger place. We had a few to check out, but we really love this place, especially the view, and doubt that any place could measure up. It would be nice to have more space, but we’re getting by.

We need to look at adding more storage in the “office” area. It would be a simple fix and lots cheaper than a new condo. John has told me to measure everything and draw up some plans so he can “see” my ideas. I’m sure that with the details worked out, he’d be glad to either do it or find someone who will. The next step is in my court.

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Spoke too soon

My cold still has me knocked out! I feel rotten. Yesterday it seemed I was nearly back to normal, but last night I slept poorly. Every two hours I was forced to get up to try to get my coughing under control. I’m tired and not well….

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We made it!

Our trip south was exhausting.

The traffic was horrid. Friday we ran into a blinding rain storm as we went through Knoxville and couldn’t see a thing. (I was so scared and held the handle on my side of the car so tightly that my right hand is still sore.) Saturday, more rain storms through the mountains. Just south of Atlanta, we hit a construction area that stopped traffic. It took about 90 minutes to go 5 miles. We made it to South Shore Pizza to pick up our carryout pizza at 7:15. That was more than an hour behind the arrival I’d figured out when I did the schedule, but we were finally home.

By the next day, we’d discovered a few condo problems. There was a leak behind the master bath toilet, the garbage disposal leaked, and on the patio and in the garage (by the door) there were swarms of ants.

Most everything has been resolved: the disposal was covered by a Kings Point insurance policy (KPW) we pay extra for (a new one was installed at no charge), the toilet was just a fitting that needed to be tightened, and tomorrow morning the bug guy will come and spray for ants and any other critters that may have taken residence in our place.

Unfortunately Friday and Saturday I felt truly yucky and was major sick when I woke up on Sunday. For several days, John hadn’t been feeling really good and part of his problem was a coughing bug. I started coughing too with lots of chest crud. It has hit me hard. We missed the Oldies but Goodies Dance Club dance Sunday night and I slept sitting up most of Sunday night since I coughed non-stop when I would lay down. Yesterday I hid out in the condo, hopping not to give it to anyone else. Today I’m much better. I’m not very energetic, but my cough is much better. I’m actually thinking that, if I continue improving, I’ll go to the pool tomorrow.

We went shopping this morning (by golf cart) and this afternoon I unpacked hanging up my clothes and taking inventory of my wardrobe. We’ll attend a bunch of parties and events over the next six and a half months. Sure glad I’m feeling better!

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Driving South

When we take off to make our nearly 1,300 mile journey, we both have a purpose: John is behind the wheel while I watch the GPS and keep him advised of directions.

I used to read (a lot) while he would drive, but now I take my role much more seriously. I am the navigator. He is the pilot. We watch with extreme vigilance and I realize I can’t be totally absorbed by reading an unimportant story book. I realize it’s much less stressful for him if I’m his extra eyes. Believe me we are both alert to road problems. I don’t ever relax nor does he. Hopefully we will make it safely. We’re a driving “team.”

When we get to our destination (hopefully without a hitch), it’s because we both fulfill our roles. I don’t get to read my good books, but we know we had four full-time eyes watching the road.

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Out Houses

I saw a facebook posting about outhouses. The person who was commenting seemed to be afraid of them.

We have one at our northern hide-a-way that is so primitive that few would venture in, but I’ll bet it’s actually less germ laden than most any place because it’s virtually unused.

Being from “primitive” Michigan, and an “old-timer,” I’ve used many grungy outhouses. Believe me, a clean one is definitely better than a dirty inhouse!! Yes, they sometimes have an odor, but so what?! That never hurt anyone and if the seat is comfortable, you can feel you are in the lap of luxury.

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Aging

I guess I’m getting old. I don’t feel old (well, sometimes), but according to statistics I am.

There are indications..

When you are asked to select the year of your birth from a list, and you find yourself running out of numbers before you get to yours. It’s also bad when they provide ranges such as: 1-5, 6-10, 11-18, and you’re in the highest category in the “66 or over”

But there are other indications.. I’m not as sure-footed. It’s harder to bring names to mind. I run out of “steam” faster. I have more aches and pains. My friends all have grey or no hair. Our nights end earlier (9:00 p.m. at the latest). I have had cateracts removed (but not a hip(s) or a knee(s)).

My once lovely figure now sags and bags. I don’t have a pretty perky butt any more, and my waist is almost non-existent. I don’t like to drive after dark.

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About to Head South!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds hectic, but I love the pace.

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Fall nAllergies

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

Today it’s especially bad.

I found this map on line.

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

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Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect!

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After the Fall…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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55th Reunion

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

—————–

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

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

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

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

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My on-line business selling dulcimers

In October 2004, I started selling hammered dulcimers.

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

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

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

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

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

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Lots of plans (from now until end of October)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Started packing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Computer wouldn’t let me in

One of those hair-pulling days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Today’s our day!

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

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

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

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Our 30th Anniversary

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

Yup, 30 years ago we were married.

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

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

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

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

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

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Wine Making

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

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

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

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

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I succeeded!!

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

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

And thanks!!

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Who is reading this stuff?

I’ve been posting more lately.

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

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

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

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

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

Yo..hoo….. who’s out there?

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Five Weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rain in Michigan – but nothing like Florida

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

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

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

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Fish or no fish

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

Then morning comes and all my good intentions disappear.

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

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

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

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

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Everything’s working

My computer and printer are working perfectly.

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

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

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

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Saved $79

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

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

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

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

Hope it doesn’t mess up again.

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We’re getting closer

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

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

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

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Too Hot

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

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

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

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Purging

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

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

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

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

It felt so good to get into air conditioning.

I’d also missed cable TV and wi-fi.

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

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Today we’re 60 days from fun

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

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

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

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Watching the critters

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

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

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We made it to the U.P.

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

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

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

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We head north tomorrow (early)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t it lovely

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

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

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Prices, Produce, and Green Grass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomatoes are also better (sweeter) in Michigan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love a bargain!

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

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

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

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

Sure love this stuff.

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Hot Spell

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

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

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

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

We rarely get it right.

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Life in Limbo

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer’s nearly over and nothing has happened.

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

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Too Relaxed

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

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

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

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Half a Bubble Off

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

Maybe a nap would help.

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Home from Evart (tired!)

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

The festival was great!

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

The pictures are from the reception.

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

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

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

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