Real Music Line-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Just crossed the Ohio River on our way South

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

Sunday – October 12

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

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Leaving Saturday

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

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

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Might leave Saturday instead of Friday

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

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Too much too early again

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

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

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

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

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Prepping for our trip south

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

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

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

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

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Nice Visit

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

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

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

They left about 9:30 a.m.

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

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Isn’t this the cutest?

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

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

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

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Halloween Party

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

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

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

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

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

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Accomplishments!

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

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

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

I’m hopeful.

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Boring summer

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

Nothing worked out as planned.

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Mothers

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

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

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

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

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Saw Dr. Taha (my surgeon) again

Yesterday was time for my monthly appointment with my surgeon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Occupying my Life

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

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

No activity is possible without thinking about my wrist.

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

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Not Complaining

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

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

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

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

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

Robotic-Exoskeleton

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Slow improvement

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

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

‘You-tube’ broken wrist video.

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

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

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Worse/Slower than Anticipated

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

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

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

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

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Progress

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

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It takes two … (hands)

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

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

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

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

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Surgery and Post Surgery

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

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

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

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

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What a Lousy Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Warnings for Senior Citizens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Changing the classified ad site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Great friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cute!

Officer approaches driver’s side of car:

Officer: Ma’am what’s in the bottle?

Driver: Just some water.

Officer: Ma’am that’s wine…

Driver: Jesus did it again!!!

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eBay purchase

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

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I highly recommend

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

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

It’s called SprayWay Stainless Cleaner/Polish.

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

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My walk wasn’t fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When we head back to Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stuff that’s here that I wish was there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Father’s Day thought

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

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

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

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I am nearly ready

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

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

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

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Hot water left, Cold water right… Right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m guess I’m hard to re-train.

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He said I had no aptitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finally!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Keeping your tooth brush clean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mesmerized by Water

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Steps Closer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little by little I hope to accomplish my ultimate goal.

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New Refrigerator!

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

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

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

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

Still a lot undone, but life is good!

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Get Off My Butt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stinky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We Left Florida Sunday (5/4/14)

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

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

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

The Sunday ride was fairly uneventful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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).

——————–

Tuesday,

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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Security

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.

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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

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Pair 2:

Pair 2

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

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

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Down to the Wire

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

Tomorrow it’s two days until Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not perfect!!!

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

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

They actually say, “PERFECT POLLY IS LIFE SIZE & VERY REALISTIC –
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.

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

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

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

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

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We’ve now been here nearly a month

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

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

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

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

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

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Enjoying everything!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Parties and fun!

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

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Life definitely is good!

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

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

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

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

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We’re here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ready to head out

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

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

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

We definitely resemble picture. Loaded to the max.

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

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

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

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Chanukah for 2013 is Thanksgivukkah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Florida Friends..

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Linda. You’re one of a kind.

We love you!!

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Short Timer … the countdown continues..

We have a full calendar of events to anticipate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Cellphone


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

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

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

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

I’m happy.

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One of “Those” Weeks

This week has had some bumps.

Three examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s been my week

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Getting Closer!

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

I've been checking out the weather forecast, what I need to pack, and my "to do before we leave" list.

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Credit Card Blues

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

Wisely I had kept a list of the businesses I needed to contact: Tampa Electric, Brighthouse (our TV supplier in Florida), Cloverland Electric (in the U.P.), the Saginaw News, Wall Street Journal, Tampa Tribune, Verizon, Bluehost (my internet hosting company), Paypal and more… lots more. Some would be easy with on-line revisions, but others world require phone calls. I knew I had a huge job ahead of me. The replacement Chase Visa card is scheduled to arrive Monday, but that still meant several days when scheduled payments might come in and I was anxious to get started and hated to waste time.

After considering different options, I decided that it would be best if I could put all of our automatic (reoccurring) charges on a card of their own, used only for that purpose. It would be a card that wouldn’t be carried with us nor used for any other type of transactions. If I “took out” a new card, I wouldn’t have it for a week or two. And then I remembered a Chase Freedom card that we had received but hadn’t activated. It was ready with a quick phone call so I could begin my tedious chore.

I worked for hours setting everything up. I used phone calls and the internet and finished after 4:00 (more than six hours of steady work). The actual plastic card was filed away and marked so we won’t use it for purchases.

If one of our cards is hijacked again, hopefully I won’t have to go through the hassle of setting up and changing dozens of accounts as I did today.

Interesting thing: Neither fraudulent charge (for $1,025 and $513.80) was “swiped.” The larger one was a “sports bar.” Maybe it was an employee. How else would a non-swiped card for that much be accepted?

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Purging

Nearly 27 years ago, we had our Michigan home built for us. One feature we stressed when were were designing the house was sufficient storage. We wanted lots of places to put things. Over the years, being pack rats, we managed to fill up every nook and cranny and a huge basement. Now we’re faced with unbelievable quantities of old stuff that we certainly don’t need. I’m wondering, why did we save everything?

I’ve started going through stuff we have stored upstairs, especially in an under-the-eaves closet. I’ve found many things we didn’t need to save. (Examples: There was a $24 receipt for some unnamed item from a furniture store back in the 1960’s! I’ve moved six times since then. We have checks and check books for accounts that have been closed since the 1980’s.)

Was there anything of value? A few items. I found lots of brand new duplicates of music books, a couple of lamp dimmers that I forgotten about, and many photo “slides” from my active photography days.

What do you do with old dial telephones, video equipment that is totally out of date, cassette tapes and early hand-held video games?

What do I save? Is there any reason to keep anything?

John wanted to participate in a neighborhood garage sale today but the stuff we need to get rid of isn’t stuff that would sell in a huge subdivision sale. Folks who come to this “largest in Saginaw County garage sale” have to park 1/2 mile away. They need to be able to carry what they buy and most of our items, especially stuff stored in our basement, are way too large to be carried down the road through traffic. As an example we have a huge fish tank and many folding chairs. We don’t have many small items. I’d rather donate my stuff to a resale charity than have my neighbors to peruse my stuff.

I know we need to have a sale, but I’d prefer to do one of our own. We could advertise a list of the stuff. Folks who are looking for a fish tank or a snow blower would come to buy it and be prepared to haul it away. Folks who want to buy an acoustic-electric bass would be ready to spend the $$$s. We wouldn’t be competing with 40 other houses for shoppers.

We’ll see. Probably holding such a sale won’t happen until next spring, but by purging the upstairs, we’ll be in better position to get rid of what we don’t need. And in the meantime, I’ve started listing a few things for sale on Craig’s list.

Next time I go through life, I’m going to restrict my storage areas so I don’t save so much.

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Note: As it turned out, John was really glad we didn’t participate in the garage sale. He talked with a neighbor who said that, despite having an enormous quantity of stuff and working all day, he only made $50. From the beginning it was obvious that the crowd was down, but also it RAINED hard several times during the day so items were ruined and many of the sales closed down before noon. We’d have done a lot of work with little to show for it.

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Halloween Costume

John and I have tickets to the Baby Boomers Halloween Costume Party on October 27th. Since we will be arriving the Sunday before, we won’t have a lot of time.

Last year I went as a doctor in scrubs with a stethoscope, John had on a nerdy green checked pants and vest, a painted on mustache and a derby. My old scrubs weren’t all that comfortable (the pants were extra small so very fitted) but it was ok for an evening.

Everyone will be in costume, but John wasn’t anxious to dress-up. I knew that if I could find the right one, he’d go along with it, so I’ve been shopping for costumes for us. I found a cute peanut butter and jelly couples’ costume but it was kind of pricy and John felt it would be uncomfortable for a whole evening. So that ruled that one out.

Today I stumbled across something that will work. I won’t give away the secret, but we’ll definitely be identified as a “couple.” Each of us will be comfortable enough. Mine is sorta cute with a hat. John’s includes a can opener. John’s will be an “assembled” costume. Part of it is coming from China. The total price of his will come to about $10-15 and mine will be a little over $20. Not bad.

Now I don’t have to worry about it.

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My costume came came and it’s too tight. Cute but my stomach is too big. I either need to lose some major weight about (20 pounds) or find a way to alter it. I’ll think about it for a few days. I am sure I can figure something out but it’s going to mean more work than I’d planned.

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Last “Legal” Day

According to a majority of women my age who live in Michigan, Labor Day is the final day of summer… the last opportunity to “legally” wear white. Of course, it’s different in Florida. The year in Florida is seasonless, but here Labor Day signals the end of summer.

In the mid-west, white is acceptable above the waist but not as slacks, skirts, dresses, nor shoes. The no-white rule runs from Labor Day until Memorial Day.

After tomorrow, I’ll should put away the summer stuff but I will probably continue to wear what I want. I’ll get “the look” from other women when I violate the sacred rule which we are expected to follow. Ladies will comment as if they need to “educate me,” but when I say we have a place in Florida, it’s like I’m a foreigner so they nod knowingly, shrug, and don’t say anything further.

Undoubtedly summer will soon be over. It’s been hot – last week several high 80’s. But during September the temperatures will plummet. It happens fast. Even next week, I predict there’ll be a nip in the air at least part of the time.

But you can bet I’ll wear white when I want, as I wave good-bye to the summer 2013!

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My Facebook “friends”

Who are my “friends”…? (I’m referring to those I consider Facebook “friends.”)

I went through the 140 folks I have listed as “friends.” (Yes, I have turned down many requests to be “friended” because I figure if you’re a “friend,” I should at least know who you are and recognize you.)

Among my friends, there are our “music friends.” This is the largest segment of my friends’ list. Most of those come to us through our involvement with the Evart and Midland dulcimer festivals and our Saginaw dulcimer club. They are genuine folks who we include in our close circle. We know and recognize these folks and the typical greeting would be a huge hug. They are friends in every way. I want to know about their families and care deeply. We enjoy them totally. Some are banjo players John knows through the Flint Banjo Club. I’m so glad our involvement with music brought all of us together.

Next, there are a few “family members” who are also “friends.” Actually this is a very small group. I come from a huge family, as does John, but few are interested in the internet. My daughter is my #1 friend in this group. And I hope I will be able to follow the January wedding of my new granddaughter-in-law to my grandson. (She is on FB a lot posting the details as they develop.) I also watch my cousin who is a cross-country coach in a Saginaw Township school and admire his support of his students. I’m proud to be associated with this small but important segment of our “friends.”

And there is a huge group of our “Florida friends.” These are folks we interact with in Florida (and in Michigan whenever possible). These folks live about six months a year in our Florida Kings Point community and most, like us, head back to Michigan for the summer. They enjoy the very active social life of our southern community. They are individuals from many walks of life that fate brought together in our retirement location. We are all inclusive and non-judgmental. We’re all at the same stage of life. What a wonderful bunch!! These are folks who I am so glad we know. They enrich our lives completely but most we have only known for three or four years. Doesn’t seem possible that we could draw close so fast. I’d do anything for this bunch.

So that’s almost my complete list of facebook “friends.” What a wonderful assortment.

We love them all!

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Our Departure Plans have Changed

We had planned to leave for Florida on October 5th and arrive the 6th, but we have decided to delay our departure for two weeks. (John has lots of unfinished jobs.)

I’ve made a change to our motel room and doctor appointments. I also changed the start-up of our HD TV subscription and our Florida newspaper. Until we started moving between residences, I had no idea how many items need to be changed when you move every six months. Right now I’m trying to contact our magazine subscriptions. We have four print magazines that need to have our travel plans.

I am sorry that we’ll miss an Oldies but Goodies dance, but there’ll be other dances. At least we’ll be back for the Michigan Club kick-off event, the Wine and Cheese Welcome Reception.

We’re both looking for fun stuff to do here in Michigan until we leave. Sadly all that we’ve found is a once monthly dance at the Moose Club and a senior bingo and potluck. There may be a dance at a closeby establishment. We’ll make the best of it.

I can complain, but in the end, it’s John’s life too. If John is happier with us making this adjustment to our travel plans, our life will be more enjoyable for both of us. I may not enjoy Michigan as much as he does, but the balance reverses when we’re in Florida.

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Finding Lowest Prices on the Price Tag

Some stores have secret ways of telling you whether you’re getting their lowest price. Check the last number of the tag price tag to know whether or not it the item will come down in price.

At most stores (especially Target) regular prices end in “9.” If the price ends in “8,” it may get marked down again. If it ends in “4,” that’s the lowest it’ll get.

For Sam’s Club’s below cost prices are end in “1.” A “C” on the price label means it’s on clearance.

At Costco, an asterisk (*) means the item won’t be reordered but it still might go down in price so wait until the item goes on clearance, which is when the prices end in “97.”

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Bags of money

Several times, when I was a young child (maybe seven or eight years old), my grandmother took me to visit her very close friend, Ersel, a very wealthy lady, who lived in a to-die-for apartment on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. This place, with it’s sparkling mirrors, luxurious furnishings, white grand piano, plush carpets, and wonderful view of the Detroit River would be awe-inspiring, even by the highest of today’s standards.

Life at Ersel’s was more opulent than anything I’d ever experienced. She had hired “help” (a sweet maid named “Vassey”) and a chauffeur. We went to “The Yacht Club” for dinner (where I was served a grown-up looking drink, a “Shirley Temple.”)

moneybagsAs a child, I knew they were “rich.” It was an over-the-top lifestyle accented by fur coats, big cars, flashy jewelry and even Ersel’s first-person recounts of her frequent cruises to Europe.

But as a youngster, the thing which impressed me most was a large dish of change on Ersel’s husband’s dresser. A dish of MONEY! People so rich that they had money sitting around in bowls. I was hard to believe but there it was!

As an adult, I grew to understand that this was just a convenient way for the man of the house to empty his pockets of change but as a child it seemed to mean something much more.

About thirty years ago, I started the same practice. Every time I’d pick up loose change that had slipped down between the cushions of the couch, or from the bottom of my purse, I’d put it in a bowl. Over the years, the bowl filled. In fact, I had to start a couple additional containers as the first over-flowed. Sometimes my contributions over months were meager but pennies or change went in the jar.

This week I decided to cash it in. I found that First Merit Bank will “count it” for us so I dumped the change into a cloth bag (it was heavy!) and took it to the bank.

Most of the change was pennies. John spotted a few coins that looked foreign. The teller laughed when she realized what they were. Somehow five or six Chucky Cheese tokens had made their way into the collection.

I don’t know yet how much change we had. But the bag weighed about 18 pounds! In our case, it sure wasn’t a sign of great wealth. Just a convenience accented with Chucky Cheese tokens.

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Note: Our 18 pound bag of change contained $42.87. (Certainly not a fortune.)

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South? North?

I’m looking forward to our return to Florida and it can’t come soon enough.

John is wishing we could stay in Michigan longer. He says he’s not ready.

There is no solution. We can’t both be totally happy. I’m sure, once we get to Florida, John will enjoy himself. It’s leaving Michigan with incomplete jobs that is bothering him, but if we stayed longer, we both know he’d just start more jobs.

Right now he still wants to wrap up building the beach fortification. He still needs to finish planting a row of shrubs and using rocks to accent it. There are two dead trees he hopes to bring down. He’ll need to pick grapes (when they’re ripe in about a month). And on September 7th, he wants to participate in a neighborhood garage sale.

Of course there are some winterizing jobs, like making sure nothing freezes in our RV unit. There will be leaves to rake and get rid of. And, before we can leave, there’ll be lots of packing.

If we put our mind to it, we’d have no trouble being ready by October 19th when we’ve planned to head south. If we’re being honest he knows there’s no point in delaying the date. If we move it a couple weeks later, he’d be talking the same way. We have several doctor appointments for the week after we return, and lots to do when we’re there. And in fact, I need to make another doctor’s appointment.

I’m eager.

He’s dragging his feat.

(Note: After we changed our date, I had to change the departure date from Michigan.)

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