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

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

It was time for a change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Country Dancing

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

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

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

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

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

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Working hard

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

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

Hope so!!

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Florida stay wasn’t great

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A couple off days

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

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

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

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

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It’s been too long

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John’s still not up to par but better…

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

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

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

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

Life is good!!

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My first post in a couple weeks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life’s great!!!

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We are at the half-way point

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

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

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

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Sand Hill Cranes vs. the Red Fox

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

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

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


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

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There are advantages of having snowbirds

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

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

I look at things differently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The last couple of weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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Christmas Gift

With my new computer have come lots of challenges.

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

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

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

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

Makes the program even more special!

What a nice guy!

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Difficult evening

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

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

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

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

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

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

So things have been difficult and “interrupted.”

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

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

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Charlie has a new home … We’re sad :(

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

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

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

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Progress Report on My Right Wrist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Real Music Line-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just crossed the Ohio River on our way South

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

Sunday – October 12

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

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Leaving Saturday

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

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

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Might leave Saturday instead of Friday

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

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Too much too early again

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

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

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

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

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Prepping for our trip south

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

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

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

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

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Nice Visit

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

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

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

They left about 9:30 a.m.

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

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Isn’t this the cutest?

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

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

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

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Halloween Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m hopeful.

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Boring summer

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

Nothing worked out as planned.

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Mothers

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

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

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

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

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Saw Dr. Taha (my surgeon) again

Yesterday was time for my monthly appointment with my surgeon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Occupying my Life

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

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

No activity is possible without thinking about my wrist.

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

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Not Complaining

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

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

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

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

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


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Slow improvement

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

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

‘You-tube’ broken wrist video.

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

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

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Worse/Slower than Anticipated

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

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

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

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

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

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It takes two … (hands)

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

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

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

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

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Surgery and Post Surgery

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

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

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

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

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What a Lousy Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Warnings for Senior Citizens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Changing the classified ad site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Great friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Officer approaches driver’s side of car:

Officer: Ma’am what’s in the bottle?

Driver: Just some water.

Officer: Ma’am that’s wine…

Driver: Jesus did it again!!!

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eBay purchase

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

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I highly recommend

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

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

It’s called SprayWay Stainless Cleaner/Polish.

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

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My walk wasn’t fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When we head back to Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stuff that’s here that I wish was there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Father’s Day thought

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

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

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

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I am nearly ready

I'm the workshop chairman (a role I've filled for 19 years). I'll have the workshop program finalized and ready for the printer within the next few days.

Actually I have the program completed now, but I'm waiting to see if I can include the Youth Workshop Schedule on the backside. If I don't have the Youth Schedule by Saturday, I'll finish up the program without it. It should work ok either way.

It's always a gigantic chore but for some dumb reason, I like the challenge. I keep thinking that maybe at 72, my mind won't be able to cope with the organizational responsibilities that go along with the scheduling of 220+ hours of classes over three days but I feel that I've done a good job this year, so I don't need to apologize yet.

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Hot water left, Cold water right… Right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m guess I’m hard to re-train.

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He said I had no aptitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Keeping your tooth brush clean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mesmerized by Water

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Steps Closer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little by little I hope to accomplish my ultimate goal.

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New Refrigerator!

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

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

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

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

Still a lot undone, but life is good!

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Get Off My Butt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We Left Florida Sunday (5/4/14)

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

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

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

The Sunday ride was fairly uneventful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unlimited text, talk and internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why a May cold?

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

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

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

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

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

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Sad Sandhill Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Packing and Losing

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

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

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

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

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Too Soon

Our departure from Florida is rapidly approaching.

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

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

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

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

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Maybe Company?

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

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

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

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

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

Guess we’ll just wait to hear from them.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, well.. we’ll figure it all out.

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Shhhh…… Don’t tell anyone

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

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

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

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

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

So don’t let anyone know. Shhhhh….

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Voter Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do those who are disadvantaged have that ability?

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Business places need to plan for women with purses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Is it the oak pollen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe the pollen is why we’ve been miserable.

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My “other” guy

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

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Real Music Series

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

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

Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
January 14 – 17

Chubby Checker
January 21 – 24

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

Bay City Rollers
starring Les McKeown
February 4 – 7

Paul Revere and the Raiders
February 11 – 14

The Osmonds
February 18 – 21

Frankie Avalon
February 25 – 28

Lee Greenwood
March 4 – 7

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

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

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

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

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Pool Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pickleball Party Review

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

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

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

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

Loved every minute of it!!

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Winter Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I almost feel guilty for our wonderful life.

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

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Sorry I’ve been neglectful

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

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

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

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

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From the mouths of babes

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

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

That sure says a lot about the parents.

Note: The next day the dog died.

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I’m a reader

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

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

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

I devour. I chew up. I absorb.

I’m a reader.

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I’m Blessed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Temperatures aren’t the same..

Someone posted this on facebook:

It’s so true!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Still Sick

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

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

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Cold germs on the return flight

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

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

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

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

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Post-California (back in Florida)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My time in California

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

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

We attended the rehearsal dinner Friday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2013 turning to 2014

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Got a Good Buy

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

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

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

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

Pair 1:

Pair 1Pair 1 w/bag


Pair 2:

Pair 2


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

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

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Down to the Wire

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

Tomorrow it’s two days until Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not perfect!!!

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

Here’s the website which contains the same information presented in the TV ad:

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

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

Old folks aren’t that desperate.

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

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

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

Dern DUMB!!

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Different Dress for the Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things never work as they should

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

We got $250 refund for our trouble. Looks nice!

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Wireless internet!

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

Going on line:

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

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

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

Buying a TV:

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

Solving both problems:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nantucket V scores!

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

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

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

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

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

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Ok, So I’m Different

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We’ve now been here nearly a month

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

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

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

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

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

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