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 our area.

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

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Fish or no fish

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

Then morning comes and all my good intentions disappear.

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

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

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

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

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Everything’s working

My computer and printer are working perfectly.

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

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

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

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Saved $79

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

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

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

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

Hope it doesn’t mess up again.

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We’re getting closer

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

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

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

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Too Hot

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

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

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

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Purging

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

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

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

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

It felt so good to get into air conditioning.

I’d also missed cable TV and wi-fi.

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

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Today we’re 60 days from fun

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

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

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

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Watching the critters

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

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

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We made it to the U.P.

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

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

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

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We head north tomorrow (early)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t it lovely

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

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

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How much time until….??

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

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

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(s) until our Christmas Eve party.

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

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(s) until the ODPC Funfest starts on July 14, 2016.

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To revise the counter or add additional counters, go to http://www.timeanddate.com/clocks/freecountdown.html and make appropriate revisions.

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Prices, Produce, and Green Grass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomatoes are also better (sweeter) in Michigan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love a bargain!

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

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

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

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

Sure love this stuff.

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Hot Spell

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

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

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

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

We rarely get it right.

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Life in Limbo

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

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

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

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

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

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

The summer’s nearly over and nothing has happened.

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

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Too Relaxed

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

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

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

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Half a Bubble Off

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

Maybe a nap would help.

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Home from Evart (tired!)

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

The festival was great!

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

The pictures are from the reception.

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

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

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

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At the ODPCFunfest

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

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Soon we’ll be headed to the ODPC Funfest

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

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

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

I just wish I was more excited.

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Richard and Shelly Brooks Home is for sale

http://tours.mixedmediaco.com/2128#.VZckr2EPCTY.facebook

Video of their listing.

It’s AWESOME!!

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And here’s the Brooks’ house

We stayed at Richard and Shelly’s place in 2013 and 2014. (Cooper’s this year and in 2011 and 2012.) The post July 3rd (above) provides a video because they’re selling it.

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Visit to Coopers

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

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I once felt….

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

I don’t Tweet!

I don’t text much (only occasionally).

I never Skype.

I don’t have an Instagram account.

I don’t do Facetime.

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

I don’t own a tablet.

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

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

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

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Fixing

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

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

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

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Visit with friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’ll never remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now here’s the next catch:

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

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

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

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

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Books galore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Memories from fabric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Migration

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s not all past tense!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is great!

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Taking it Easy

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

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

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Didn’t take long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Cooper Thank goodness. A well deserved retirement

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

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

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

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

Jim Coon What a wonder job you have done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I want to be replaced!

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

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

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

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

Admittedly I’m tired.

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Reorganizing

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

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

It was time for a change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Country Dancing

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

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

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

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

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

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Working hard

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

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

Hope so!!

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Florida stay wasn’t great

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A couple off days

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

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

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

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

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It’s been too long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John’s still not up to par but better…

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

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

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

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

Life is good!!

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My first post in a couple weeks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life’s great!!!

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We are at the half-way point

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

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

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

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Sand Hill Cranes vs. the Red Fox

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

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

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

image

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

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There are advantages of having snowbirds

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

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

I look at things differently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The last couple of weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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Christmas Gift

With my new computer have come lots of challenges.

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

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

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

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

Makes the program even more special!

What a nice guy!

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Difficult evening

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

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

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

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

It was a sad evening.

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The past couple of weeks

Thanksgiving was great.

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

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Thanksgiving

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

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

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

So things have been difficult and “interrupted.”

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

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

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Charlie has a new home … We’re sad :(

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

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

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

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Progress Report on My Right Wrist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Real Music Line-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Just crossed the Ohio River on our way South

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

Sunday – October 12

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

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Leaving Saturday

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

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

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Might leave Saturday instead of Friday

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

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Too much too early again

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

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

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

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

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Prepping for our trip south

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

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

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

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

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Nice Visit

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

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

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

They left about 9:30 a.m.

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

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Isn’t this the cutest?

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

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

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

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Halloween Party

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

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

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

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

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

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Accomplishments!

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

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

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

I’m hopeful.

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Boring summer

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

Nothing worked out as planned.

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Mothers

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

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

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

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

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Saw Dr. Taha (my surgeon) again

Yesterday was time for my monthly appointment with my surgeon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Occupying my Life

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

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

No activity is possible without thinking about my wrist.

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

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Not Complaining

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

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

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

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

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

Robotic-Exoskeleton

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Slow improvement

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

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

‘You-tube’ broken wrist video.

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

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

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Worse/Slower than Anticipated

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

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

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

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

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Progress

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

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It takes two … (hands)

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

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

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

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

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Surgery and Post Surgery

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

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

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

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

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What a Lousy Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Warnings for Senior Citizens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Changing the classified ad site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Great friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cute!

Officer approaches driver’s side of car:

Officer: Ma’am what’s in the bottle?

Driver: Just some water.

Officer: Ma’am that’s wine…

Driver: Jesus did it again!!!

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eBay purchase

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

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I highly recommend

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

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

It’s called SprayWay Stainless Cleaner/Polish.

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

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My walk wasn’t fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When we head back to Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stuff that’s here that I wish was there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Father’s Day thought

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

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

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

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I am nearly ready

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

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Hot water left, Cold water right… Right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m guess I’m hard to re-train.

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He said I had no aptitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finally!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Keeping your tooth brush clean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mesmerized by Water

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Steps Closer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little by little I hope to accomplish my ultimate goal.

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New Refrigerator!

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

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

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

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

Still a lot undone, but life is good!

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Get Off My Butt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stinky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We Left Florida Sunday (5/4/14)

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

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

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

The Sunday ride was fairly uneventful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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