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).

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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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January Plans

My grandson is getting married January 4th. We’ll be in Florida starting in October. Although I hate the thought of leaving our Florida “Paradise,” I do want to do grandma stuff, and it’ll be wonderful spending time with Kelly. So I’m trying to work out flights, car reservation, etc.

I have a feeling Kelly’s house will be crowded to the max. I’m thinking that I’ll get a motel room at least part of the time to lessen the stress on her. She’s such a good daughter! I’ll certainly be flexible in every aspect. I want to make it as easy on her as possible.

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Keeping our word…

About a month and a half ago we met a lovely couple, Sim Clark and his girlfriend Eleanor. They’re quite a bit older than us, but we enjoyed their company. We spent several evenings with them at the Moose. They like to dance almost as much as we do. They’re a sweet couple.

Sim is celebrating his birthday tomorrow, his 90th!! We have a hard time keeping up with them. They’ll get out on the floor and dance by the hour. (Unlike them, we sit out every other dance or two.)

We have had other possible events for tomorrow, but we told Sim we’d be at his party so we will. We keep our word.

Besides it sounds like he has a fun time planned.

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Couldn’t believe the size of his party. Had to be 200-250 folks in attendance! Good food, good music. Nice time!

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Busy Day

Today we bought TEN pyramidal arborvitae to plant around the area where we store our 28′ RV unit. We figured that if they are planted around the “pad,” it’ll camouflage the RV.

Planting them will be more work than he anticipated. The instructions said to dig a hole three times the width of the root-ball. John’s being more conservative, but even digging a hole the size of the ten root balls is a lot of work.

He started.

I suggested that he plant one per day because it’s exhausting work. Knowing him, it’ll be done in a lot less time but he sure doesn’t need to rush.

After several hours of work, I convinced him to quit. He was pooped!

This evening we went to the Moose where we ate and dancing. Yup, after all that work I dragged him to a dance to the music of Dixie Highway Band.

Pacing yourself when you’re our age is important. The day nearly sapped John but he saved enough of his energy for the evening so we ended our day with a fun bit of dancing.

Love that man!!

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I’m happy to be home

Seems that I’m always wishing I was at our home in Florida, but it took being at our place in the Upper Peninsula to realize how much I love our Lake Cecil (Thomas Township) home. It’s nice. I need to do a lot of work to bring it up to snuff, but we have two months and maybe I can accomplish some of my chores list before we head back to our Kings Point home.

It’s truly comfortable here in Thomas Township!

We’re more isolated than in Florida, but we have some social activities on our calendar. For example tomorrow night we’re going dancing at the Moose Club. Saturday we have a birthday party for a 90-yr-old friend complete with a lovely dinner (and dancing). Monday we have a family gathering with John’s siblings. A hair cut appointment is a week from today, and a big family reunion in a week and a half. So, with a few things to look forward to, I don’t mind at all that we have two more months here in Michigan.

John’s busy finishing up chores he feels necessary before we leave. He has about 10 pyramid arborvitae to plant, stuff to clean out of the basement, purging the upstairs, and maybe participation in a neighborhood garage sale after Labor Day. That’ll take us until the first part of September. During that month we have dental and doctor appointments and preparation to head south.

Time’s flying but life is good and I’m going to quit wishing it away. I’ll savor my time here, just as I love our time in Florida.

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And Then It’s Winter…..

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

But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change…Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t of my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, what ever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.

(I did not write this. I copied this from a friend’s Facebook post, but I’m sure she read it elsewhere. It’s worth sharing.)

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A hum-dinger!

We’ve been watching the hummingbirds devour the sweetness we’ve supplied in our bird feeder. The “hum” of their wings is almost constantly heard even from inside our trailer here in the U.P.

These small birds are very territorial so generally only one feeds from the feeder at a time – occasionally two. But there are sometimes as many as four fighting for “air space” around the area. Most of them are the Ruby-throated variety.

We’ll refill the feeder before we leave tomorrow. They’ve consumed about a cup of the liquid since Tuesday (today’s Sunday). After reading a bit on line, I understand they will start migrating south anytime within the next month so they’ll need lots of fuel. The males sometimes leave as early as mid-July.

Most of them must retreat back “home” to Central America in the winter. A few Ruby-throated remain along the Gulf coast each winter instead of continuing to Central America, perhaps because they are too old or sick to make another trans-Gulf flight or too young (from very late nests) to have had time to grow fat and strong enough to migrate; their survival chances depend on the severity of each particular winter, and many perish in unusually cold years.

Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds winter between southern Mexico and northern Panama. Since hummingbirds lead solitary lives and neither live nor migrate in flocks, an individual bird may spend the winter anywhere in this range where the habitat is favorable, but probably returns to the same location each winter.

Maybe they’ll visit us in Florida.

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Our place in the U.P.

Tuesday we took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to our place on Lake Michigan. It’s about 90 miles west of the Big Mac Bridge, south of Thompson off Highway 2 down the east side of the Garden Peninsula.

I’ve explained in previous posts that this place isn’t anything fancy. It’s an old 1960′s 12 x 50 foot trailer on a foundation with a newer roof over it and a large covered deck with a lovely view of Lake Michigan. (This is the beautiful view from our deck. It is truly a spectacular sight.)

It’s tranquil and quiet, but it does have it’s shortcomings:

  • It smells musty! The old furniture, which came with the trailer when we bought it about 20 years ago is mismatched and harbors old odors of a closed-up place. It always looks messy and not very clean.
  • It seems there are always pesky insects. Mosquitoes are a bother most of the time, and some seasons we have to avoid big wood ticks that latch onto you whenever you venture out. Spring is black fly season and in late summer we fight swarms of biting beach flies. (Thank heavens this trip we’ve just had mosquitoes.)
  • There’s no access to the lake. Over the years, because of the drop in the level of Lake Michigan, the beautiful white sand beach we purchased has turned into a weedy, mucky, no-man zone. You can’t walk across it without sinking to your knees in ooze. When we first got here Wednesday, John tried to get to the water’s edge but lost the battle. If we were here more, build a long deck or some other way of getting over the muck, but since we’re only staying for six days, it’s not worth the effort. Winter storms would erase anything we would do by next year when we return. Our hope is that by the summer of 2014, a grant which has been secured to spray the lakeshore, will eliminate some of the weeds.
  • We are totally isolated. No TV and little internet. We brought a small TV with us this time, as well as a digital converter, and an antenna. We hoped that we could watch some of our favorite TV shows. The first night we were successful for a couple of hours, but since then, not at all. Internet access is spotty. I find it nearly impossible to use my cellphone as a hot spot. I had hoped we could view some of the on-line “programming” or videos but the connection just isn’t strong enough to download anything.
  • But even saying all that, I’m glad we came up.

    Temperatures have been about 70 most of the time and even warmer some days, but certainly not hot.

    I’ve loved watching hummingbirds at our bird feeder. Their antics are amusing. I’ve had time to read a book and relax.

    So even with all the negatives, I’m glad we came up here. John works hard but seems to enjoy it, and we’ve had lots of time together without distractions.

    And the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is lovely. The drive through untouched areas is beautiful. The scenery unmatched.

    But when we head back home Monday, we will both be more than ready! If only packing wasn’t so much work. I don’t look forward to hauling everything out to the truck and trying to fit everything in. We’ll start packing Sunday. Monday John will winterize the water system and we’ll try to pull out by about 9:30 a.m.

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    Aunt Hazel’s Memorial Service

    Yesterday we attended an unusual memorial service for my 102 yr. old aunt. Most of the tribute was lovely but then her elderly pastor took the mic. What can I say? He rambled for well over an hour. I recognized dementia symptoms. His talk had nothing to do with my aunt. It was painful! He repeated and made no sense. Ended with about a 15 minute prayer which wouldn’t end. The crowded chapel got restless. Folks started murmuring “when is this ever going to end?” An elderly guest finally had to leave. We were forced to vacate our seats until she could get out but we came sat back down after she’d left. It was horrid. The only topic after the services finally ended didn’t include my lovely deceased aunt. Everyone talked about the pastor’s behavior. How sad!!

    Dementia is cruel in so many subtle ways. Too bad about 100 of my aunt’s friends and relatives had their final tribute to my aunt interrupted by a pastor who should have been stopped 10 minutes into his rambling sermon.

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    Another Dog??

    We’ve been thinking about getting another pet. After our visit with Shelly and Richard, we began considering a kitty, but we’ve had a tempting opportunity this week to acquire one of two adult female papillions. They were listed on Craigs list so I wrote to the owner.

    Evie, one of two little dogs that the owner was trying to place, is shown at the right. She is beautiful and it might have been a wonderful opportunity, but we have talked it over and decided that a dog would really change our care-free life. We are able to travel, to stay with friends, to stay at any motel, and life is easy. It would be complicate our comfortable situation, and we’re not sure it’s best for us.

    Ahhh but it sure was tempting.

    Since these are mature dogs, they might have some old habits that will be hard to break. During our married life, we had two sweet paper-trained dogs (Gizmo and Willow), but the new dog would expect to be walked. We have never had to walk a dog. Neither of us is anxious to have to take on that chore.

    Actually there were two females. The owner felt Joy would fit us best. We both preferred the looks of Evie because she reminded us more of Willow. (Joy had a darker face without the white accent from the forehead down and around the muzzle.) But we never met them face to face so, until we had really been around them, we couldn’t know for sure which was the best.

    After a long chat with the owner, we decided that we aren’t ready to make the commitment. Maybe we’ll kick ourselves, but for now, we decided we’re not going to accept the opportunity.

    Before the dog would have been placed with us, the owner would have had to come to our house and check it out but a home-check didn’t bother us and I’m sure we would have passed no matter what the criteria was.

    We’ll never know and just hope that we made the right decision.

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    Stopping the Bad Guys at the Door

    About a month ago, we purchased a Simplisafe home security system for our Michigan home.

    We shopped carefully and checked out all the available systems. We were impressed that this one provides 24/7 professional alarm monitoring without a contract, no installation cost, and no phone line needed (uses cell phone service to connect to the monitoring desk). Our house is safer and, in the event of a break-in, the police would be summoned immediately.

    We’ve had Simplisafe since the middle of June, and except for a few mistakes WE’VE made, it has worked flawlessly.

    John has set it off twice when he forgot to turn it off and went out the door triggering the alarm. Both of those alarms occurred when I was still in bed and believe me, it’s a rude awakening. And I accidentally hit the “panic” button which was installed right over our bed. (My pillow bumped it but it’s since been moved). In those instances, were able to enter our “code” and the police weren’t summoned but if it had been a real problem, we’d have been protected.

    I am a true believer in the system.

    We bought a set-up which includes motion sensors, door sensors, high volume exterior alarm, temperature and water sensors. [Note: The temperature sensor is a valuable feature in Michigan to avoid frozen pipes (in the event of furnace malfunction) and the water sensor will tell us if there's a plumbing problem or a failure of our sump pump to keep water out of our basement.] The purchase price for everything was under $400. Our monthly monitoring is under $15. Which is certainly worth it and it has lowered our home owners’ insurance about $10 a month!

    If you are curious about the Simplisafe system, feel free to contact me. If you let me know you’re interested I’ll send you a 5% discount coupon and if you buy, I’ll get a free month’s service.

    Oh, and I haven’t mentioned how helpful the service desk is. Really a first class U.S.-based operation!!!

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    Home again, Home again

    Yup, we spent 11 days at the Osceola County Fairgrounds planning and working on the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest (the largest hammered dulcimer festival in the world.) Most of the week it was so hot that we were miserable (well over 95), but at the same time it was fun to be there.

    Thank goodness yesterday a cold front came through. It was 46 overnight and today it was only 80 for a high.

    Thank heavens!!

    Packing to head home is always difficult but if it had been hot, we’d have had a worse time. As it was, John started at 7:00 a.m. and we left about 3:30 for home in high 70′s low 80′s temps. It’s a huge job to squeeze everything back into our 28′ fifth wheel. But all in all the festival was great. The board of our club is awesome! We have a wonderful blend of friendly, knowledgeable folks and competent organization.

    When we got home we were so tired that we only brought in the stuff we needed for tonight. No dinner. Just vegging. We’re so tired!

    Sure feels good to be home.

    Two months and we’ll be heading back to Florida. I’ll be ready!

    Until then, we can relax and catch up on sleep and energy. The festival always saps both.

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    At the festival

    We’re at the ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club)’s Funfest held at the Osceola 4-H Fairgrounds. This event is always the highlight of our year.

    This year it’s felt slightly different. I think part of the difference is that I’m honestly trying to be “less involved.”

    Because I was the only person who has worked under four different ODPC presidents (Wes Linenkugel, Don Fitzpatrick, Gail Schwandt and now Kathy Rayman), I would offer my unsolicited opinions too often, but I’m realizing the new leaders have everything under control and their methods may well be better than the way things have been done previously. I’m now treated as sort of a “respected relic.”

    It’s hard to “step back” when you see that you aren’t as vital to the success of the event as you once were.

    That doesn’t mean that what I do isn’t important. I’m still the webmaster, the workshop chairman, and I host the workshop leader rest area, but none of my ideas nor opinions are fresh and vital. I recognize that the new leaders will bring new life to this event and I’m glad to be included even on the fringes.

    So I’m trying to adjust to my new role. It’s not easy.

    I have said that after the 2015 festival, when I’ll have been workshop chairman for 20 years, I’ll step down. I haven’t found a replacement yet, but next year I’d like to start working with whoever will follow me as workshop chairman. That will be an even harder adjustment.

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    A change of attitude

    For more than 22 years (since July 1991), John and I have attended the huge hammered dulcimer festival, aka ODPC Funfest, at the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart, MI. Most of those years, we’ve hauled a trailer and now a fifth wheel RV unit to the fairgrounds and stayed for several days.

    Since 1996, I’ve been in charge of workshops (18 years). Our involvement has required that we bring lots of “stuff” to the festival. Over the years, we have added a 20 x 20′ canopy and increased the size of our RV (now a 28′ fifth wheel with a slide) so we’re not as crowded as we were when we first started out.

    I used to wear long dresses and big hats, and would bring dozens, but I’m much more casual now (shorts and tank tops). And I’m trying to reduce what we take. Example: we used to bring about two dozen chairs for the use of those who wanted to take a seat under the canopy now we’ll have about a half dozen.

    I still bring a complete office set-up (computer, printer, copy machine, router, wi-fi source, and external hard drive). We always bring too much food. We have found that Fosters Market, adjacent to the fairgrounds, has anything we’ve forgotten and at a fair price.

    The workshop programs always create a heavy load, but we’ve cut back on those too.

    I can remember being itchy to get to the fairgrounds first. This year we will head to the festival Wednesday a.m., eight days before it starts on Thursday, the 18th, but a day later than last year.

    Most everything is packed. Wish I could load in even more so we could take off easily tomorrow without stowing last minute stuff.

    But this year I feel much more laid back. Sure, I’m anxious to get there and I’ll love seeing the folks and enjoying the music, but the urgency has lessened. I feel our attitude about the festival has matured and we’re now more relaxed.

    Yes, we could have headed out today, but it’s raining right now, and the idea of getting there in the rain and trying to set up when it’s soggy, didn’t sound appealing. It may rain tomorrow morning, but if not, we’ll hope to pull out so we can arrive before noon.

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    What a Weekend!!!

    What a great weekend! Stephen & Caroline Cooper and Richard & Shelly Brooks opened their lovely lakeside homes on Cedar Island Lake for our close friends from Kings Point, Sun City Center, Florida (aka “the group”).

    We had enjoyed the generousity of their 4th of July parties in 2011 and 2012. On the previous two occasions we stayed at Coopers’, but this time we slept at the Brooks’ (although our days were divided between the two houses located a short distance apart).

    We arrived for lunch July 4th at the Coopers. The afternoon was spent visiting and on a pontoon ride. At 6:00 we headed back over to the Brooks where enjoyed a huge dinner. Afterward we watched the fireworks offered by the around-the-lake residents. They were wonderful! Back to the Coopers we had munchies, drinks, a bonfire, and sent Japanese lanterns skyward.

    Yesterday (Friday, the 5th), we feasted on a huge brunch and some of the group headed home. During the day, the remaining ladies played Rummikub and went shopping. Evening was another huge dinner (bar-be-que). We were joined by several of their neighbors. A nice group!

    Last night we wound down with a lengthy conversation with our hosts, Richard and Shelly. Everyone else had departed by then so we had an opportunity to get better acquainted with them. It was late when we headed to bed.

    We were up fairly early this morning and headed home.

    Now we need to pack and get ready for the ODPC Funfest. We want to be at the Evart Fairgrounds by Wednesday at the latest.

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    Twenty years of Concerts

    For 20 years, John and I organized Haithco Park Concerts with our hammered dulcimer club, Saginaw Subterranean Strings. It was fun, and we certainly got our share of rewards working with close friends in our club and performing for wonderful audiences.

    For many years, our “core” performing group has consisted of the Conklins, the Kuhlmans and a few others. We could always count on them and it made our job easier. In January, the Conklins informed us that, because of a wedding and some family commitments, they’d decided to stay in Florida over summer 2013. We were concerned that if we went ahead with another year of concerts, it would put too much stress on the Kuhlmans who are now in their 90′s! Also there are days when John just isn’t up to the physical commitment of hauling around and setting up the sound equipment, then performing for 90 minutes, and breaking down/stowing the equipment. So early this year, we notified the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Department and posted to our club’s website that, after 20 successful years, we would no longer present the Haithco Park Concerts.

    About a month ago, we sent a notice to the club members in case they hadn’t read the website. (It should be noted that we’d hoped we might host a summer get together but that hasn’t worked out thus far and only ONE of the members has expressed an interest.)

    But it has been rewarding to hear from several who have loyally been part of our audiences. They have expressed disappointment but understanding in our decision.

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    Fun time approaching

    Next week (over the 4th of July) we’ll have a fun “reunion” with our Florida friends who, like us, live in Kings Point, Sun City Center, during the winter months, but are snowbirds and spend summers in Michigan. We’ll head to White Lake, Michigan, to share a few days with this awesome a bunch of really nice folks.

    When we return from that fun time, we’ll have dinner on the 8th with John’s family and then pack up and head to our huge dulcimer festival, the ODPC Funfest at Evart, MI, on July 9th. We will work hard (I’m in charge of workshops and John is my right hand guy) and by the end be totally exausted. The actual festival doesn’t start until the 18th. On Sunday, July 21st, we’ll return home.

    So this next month will be fun! We will totally enjoy ourselves.

    After we return, the summer will be half gone. We may slip up to the U.P. for a week (or less) in August. September will be harvest time for John’s wine crop.

    Last year I was depressed all summer. This summer my attitude has improved. We found a band that plays in our area about once a week. We’ve been going dancing and it’s been fun. I will be ready for Florida in October, but the months between now and then will also be totally enjoyable and they will fly by.

    Life is good!!

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    Truly “Safe” – No Foolin’!

    Sunday:

    We’ve been back and forth to Florida dozens of times since 2005. The route is familiar and so is the concern for the home we leave behind in Michigan.

    But as of tomorrow, our home will be PROTECTED! We’ve purchased a monitored security system which will be installed tomorrow. If anyone enters, the police will be advised (and so will we).

    Previously I would post messages to this blog inferring that we were subscribed to a security system but that was just a way of deterring would-be thieves. But now we’ll be protected by high-tech motion sensors, entry alerts, sirens, and other ways of recognizing and protecting our home from intrusion. We’ll also be advised if there’s water in our basement or the heat is off.

    Yes, it came with a pricetag but cheaper than we’d thought and we will rest much better. We also get a discount on our home-owners policy because it’s not just a security system but one which has 24/7 monitoring.

    To be very honest, we don’t leave behind much of value when we head to Florida. We have no new TV sets (a couple OLD ones), no DVR devices, computers or anything else that burglars would want. I take all jewelry (most of it costume) with us. Anything we don’t take goes in our bank safety deposit box. And we sure don’t have cash laying around. (Note: In Florida, we don’t worry at all because we have closeby neighbors AND our community is GATED!)

    Our Michigan home will be protected. And this time I’m not being deceptive.

    ===============

    Monday:

    The security system came!! It’s all installed. We have a few days to get used to having it in place before the alarms we trigger go to the central dispatch center and the police are notified. Right now it just sounds a loud siren but no one is summoned. (Eventually an even louder outdoor siren will be installed, but not during this test period.)

    We’re sure it’s money well spent. John commented that we might never have a break in, but we feel it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

    ===============

    Tuesday:

    The alarm was armed when we went to bed and this morning Johh forgot when he opened the door and went out. Good thing the system is still in test mode so the central dispatchers weren’t notified because John had forgotten the passcode. Oh, well… It does work.

    ==============

    Friday:

    At 7:00 his morning I was rudely awakened by our new security system alarm. I figured John had forgotten that he couldn’t exit without disarming it. (He was outside when it sounded.) But come to find out, it was me!! We have a “panic button” near our bed and my pillow had accidentally pushed it. Needless to say, the button has been moved to a location that is more protected. It was worse than an alarm clock. (Thank heavens the new system is still in practice mode so the police weren’t summoned by the dispatch service and we haven’t installed the outdoor mega volume siren which would have awakened the whole neighborhood.)

    We “activated” the system today but can continue to practice for a couple days. We’ll be notified when it’s truly up and running.

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    Best Applications (aka apps) (According to Sharon)

    I realize this post won’t be of interest to everyone. It’s directed to folks, like me who have a “smart phone.”

    I have a two-year-old Samsung Android. I love it even though it’s looking a little shabby because I’ve kept it with me non-stop for the past two years so it’s pretty worn.

    Over that period I have found a bunch of apps which serve me well. I’ll share them with you. You may not have an Android, but most apps are also available in a format for iPhones.

    There are several which I don’t use much, but most folks consider staples: Pandora, Skype, twitter, Netflix, Pinterest, and Barcode Scanner. I also won’t mention those that I figure everyone is familiar with and I use a great deal: Chrome (browser), Kindle, Facebook, Gmail, Weather Channel or Accuweather, eBay, Adobe Reader, Craigslist Mobile, You Tube, CNN, and MSNBC.

    All of the ones I’ve mentioned thus far are free, but I have purchased a couple for my specific interests: Documents to Go Full version so I can use Microsoft Works files, and Draw Something pro version (a fun drawing game I play with friends). These are well-known.

    But what apps are the ones I discovered but you may not know about? (Some I may have paid a small amount for, but most were free.)

    #1 – WiFi Hotspot & USB Tether by SVTP (which I highly recommend if you have unlimited usage on your phone and restricted or no access on your computer). With this program I can use my computer as a hot-spot. It’s perfect for me. I use a usb modem from Verizon, but if that was all I had, I’d really be restricted. I’d guess I use this hotspot app at least half of the time. I hook it up and my computer can go on-line without digital volume limitations.

    #2 – At Bat (free version) so I can follow the Tigers games.

    #3 – aWallet Password Manager – The only way I can securely keep my passwords straight.

    #4 – Chrome to Phone – which lets me sent websites from my laptop to my phone easily. Only works if you use Chrome as a browser.

    #5 – Countdown Widget – I love to know how long before we head back to Florida. I set this up and know at a glance how many days.

    #6 – Evernote – which is great for keeping notes handy. I’ve even made notes to my smartphone at my bedside… things I didn’t want to forget.

    #7 – Gas Buddy – a MUST have for anyone. Shows lowest prices for gas. When traveling, it helps us plan our stops. With this information we can decide if it’s better to fill up “here” or go to a station further down the road.

    #8 – Justin.tv – fun to occasionally broadcast what’s going on.

    #9 – MyFitnessPal – No it hasn’t worked to help me lose weight, but it’s a great way to track what you eat and if you are better than me, what you’ve lost. (Ok so I haven’t lost, but it’s still a good app.)

    #10 – Lookout – It’s an excellent back-up and phone finder! I figure this app may never be used to locate my phone, but if it’s lost or stolen, I’ll be glad I have it.

    #11 – Silent Toggle Widget – A small button on your smartphone screens turns your sound off easily. This is such a simple tool, but I’d be lost without it.

    #12 – Drop Box – One of the best apps available. Use it to store everything from recipes to budget files. All newsletters are available through dropbox. Even works as a photo back-up area. LOVE IT!!

    If you don’t have a smartphone, this list won’t mean anything to you, but if you have one, you might discover a new to you tool.

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    Water view

    I love love love having a view of water out my window. Our home in Michigan is on a small man-made lake. The ripples on the water are a constant. When we were here in the winter, I found the “icy” view boring. The movement, ripples, waves and sparkles are soothing and mesmerizing.

    In Florida, our view includes ponds but they’re smaller and a little further away. But even though we don’t get to observe quite as close-up, I still find the water even at a distance fascinating.

    I’m always watching out our windows. Our life is blessed!!

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    Best fish dinner

    Florida is known for good sea food but our favorite fish is walleye served at the Moose Lodge in Saginaw, Michigan.

    It’s only available on Friday nights and it’s always a treat. The current price just under $10, but it’s worth it! We rarely order “seconds” because what they serve is ample, but it is all-you-can-eat (served with cole slaw, a roll and a nice-size order of fries or baked potato.)

    We’re headed there tonight. Already thinking about how good it will be! I’ll cut back on what I eat today so I can enjoy my dinner guilt-free. (One slice of 12-grain toast for breakfast and a large salad for lunch is all I’ll eat until evening.)

    Wish we could find similar fish when we go south. Nothing we’ve had in Florida is nearly as good although we do like Anna Maria’s Oyster Bar fish dinners but they don’t come close.

    In fact there are several foods that we miss when we’re in Florida: Michigan lake perch, fresh late summer muskmelons, June fresh asparagus (had it last night), hamburgs at Farmers Home Tavern (Hemlock, MI) or Boulevard Lounge (Midland, MI), apples picked from our trees, Traverse City cherries and vine ripened Michigan tomatoes. Yup, Michigan tomatoes are lots better than any we’ve had in Florida. At one time, I would have said the same thing about strawberries because Florida’s didn’t have the same flavor, but now we enjoy Florida strawberries that are equal to Michigan’s fine crop and Florida’s are cheaper (four quarts for $1).

    Yup, I love Florida, but there are some treats that we can only enjoy here in Michigan.

    One surprise, the steaks we get at Publix in Florida are as good or even better than what we generally find here and the price (when on sale) is lower.

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    Looking Ahead


    It’s still months away but I’ve already made motel reservations at a Comfort Inn in Clinton, Tennessee. We’ve figured out approximately when when we’ll pull in and it seems doable (although we are always flexible.)

    Why would we book so soon? Last year, on our way south (October, 2012), we stayed in Knoxville. Recently I checked out prices for the first weekend in October and found that ALL rooms in the Knoxville area will be well over $100 a night! (Probably there’s some large gathering being held there.) Based on that information, we realize that unless we book now we may have to pay the high price. We don’t want to buy the place; we just want a clean, comfortable place to stay for one night.

    When we found that Clinton, Tennessee’s Comfort Inn serves breakfast and is priced at half that of the similar ones in Knoxville, we jumped on it.

    I use Microsoft Streets and Trips (a gps program) to create our trip plan. I can tell you where we’ll be at what time. I plan it all out. Lunch breaks, gas fill-ups, motel stays, are all pre-scheduled). (About half the time, we have to make changes, often in route. But that’s fine. At least we’ve covered our butts and made sure we aren’t stuck without a reasonable room preferably with breakfast.)

    The map shows our motel (#4) when we stop on the 5th of October, and our gas stops (#2, #3, and #5). Hidden under the #7 is a #6. #6 is Sun City Center’s Hungry Howie’s pizza (our favorite pizza carry-out) where we’ll grab our dinner before heading to our place (#7). And yes, I’ve already checked and, if we stick to our schedule, our arrival time will get us down there before sunset so we can unload the necessities before it’s dark.

    I was a hospital planner and detailing every little thing suits my personality. I love to organize. Making sure the trip south is a smooth venture, is right up my alley.

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    Working non-stop

    ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) Funfest is fast approaching. I’m in charge of the workshop program so it’s been my responsibility to prepare the printed line-up of classes, after they’ve been submitted to my website. I didn’t start until after we got back from Florida. (Just couldn’t break away from the Florida sunshine to work on my computer.) But I’ve been working for the past three weeks and have finally finished it!! Actually I have one page to fill but that’ll be easy. I should be able to have it in the hands of the printer in about a week.

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    Wearing a “Bib”

    My mother had alzheimers. For several years I was responsible for her care. I placed her in an excellent facility where she could be close to husband.

    But as her condition worsened, I refused to accept the way she looked after she ate a meal. Eating for her was a messy ordeal. The rest of the day, she was stuck wearing food-spotted clothes. The food often resulted in permanent stains.

    I went to her nursing home administration and explained that she needed to wear an “apron.” She’d grown up in a generation that accepted aprons. The facility claimed that it was demeaning for her to wear a “bib” and she should be allowed her dignity, but I insisted and finally demanded that she be allowed to stay clean (changing her clothes was a true struggle for her so that wasn’t an option after every meal.) I said it was more demeaning to have her clothes soiled than to wear a protective cover. They finally relented and I bought her a couple dozen terry cloth adult bibs. (Believe me by then my mom didn’t care one way or the other, but it bothered me to see her clothing soiled and stained when an apron/bib would help avoid that problem.)

    Mom passed away in 2008. I donated all of her clothes, including the terry cloth bibs I’d purchased for her, to a charity. I did keep one. It was white terry cloth and closed with velcro behind the neck.

    This past social season I realized that every time I got ready to go out to one of our fancy evenings, I somehow spoiled things by getting my liquid make-up on me. I’d try my darnedest, but it always seemed to happen, especially when I wore a dark dress. (And the spots from make up are difficult to remove!) It dawned on me…. I needed to wear a bib or apron while I got ready. So I started putting Mom’s terry cloth bib around my neck. It worked great!

    Funny I never once felt that it was demeaning!

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    A bit about me…

    I guess I’m unusual among the senior set.

    I’ve had computers since the 1980′s even before there was a Windows program. Since I was the first one to get a computer in the hospital where I worked, I taught the employees as they were assigned computers.

    I created a database-type scheduling program for the nursing staff, wrote an inventory program for hospital supplies, and set up a (hard-wired) scheduling network (long before there was “wireless”) between surgical areas on different floors in the hospital. I developed the hospital’s first web site (which was the 2nd hospital web site in Michigan). Yet, when it comes to computer skills, I’m totally self-taught.

    But that was 20 years ago.

    Now I maintain at nine active web sites. One of them, dulcimers.com, gets about 3 million hits a year.

    Yup, I am computer savvy and I guess that’s unusual for a 71-year-old female. It’s funny to hear the comments of astonishment, especially from tech savvy young males who aren’t used to ladies my age being knowledgeable about computers. One representative from my credit card and banking company (Chase) said, “Usually I’m trying to talk timid seniors into trying to pay bills and track their accounts ‘on line.’ I’m not used to talking to a senior lady who knows more than I do about computers.”

    Several years ago, my web site hosting company representative bestowed on me the title of their “Oldest Techie Geek.”

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    Atypical Old Folks

    I guess we’re “old folks” but we’re not what I think of as the “average senior citizen.” We do more, we enjoy life to the fullest, and we rarely play BINGO. We go out whenever we can and never miss a fun event. But things have been different the past week or so.

    Since we’ve been home, John hasn’t been feeling well and I’ve been busy working on my workshop program project for the ODPC Funfest. That’s made couch potatoes out of both of us. I’ve been determined to finish organizing the 200+ classes and John’s just been trying to keep his stomach under control and his hip from hurting.

    So Memorial Day came and went while we vegged out. We skipped a Moose Club bar-be-que that we’d planned to attend. Thursday John has two doctors’ appointments and next Wednesday we have a BINGO (with a free burger or hot dog grilled feast) on our calendar. Maybe we are getting old.

    To balance out these symptoms of aging, we plan to go to a picnic and dance Saturday, (provided John’s “up to it” and he definitely seem to be improving).

    My ODPC workshop project is under control so I feel less pressure from it. But I’m still working on it from the couch.

    Yup, I guess we are slipping into the “aging mold.”

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    Financial Mess

    For the past week I’ve been distracted by an imposing chore.

    Here’s the boring story: John and I always had a direct deposit checking account with Citizens Bank in Saginaw (just changed to First Merit). But we also maintained checking and money market accounts in our Sun City Center Bank, now PNC. We also have an Ameriprise investment account.

    With PNC we can access our accounts from both FL and in MI.

    Unfortunately there’s no Citizens Bank in Sun City Center so for many months I’ve had to keep my eyes on everything and “move” money between accounts to accommodate both PNC and Citizens banks. It’s been a pain, especially when we realized that, when dealing with PNC, we needed to maintain minimum deposits to avoid fees. What a mess. So recently I suggested that we SIMPLIFY!

    [My aim is to get our banking down to one checking and maybe one savings account. All deposits will go to that checking account, all debits will come automatically out. I won't be required to manage anything. It'll just happen automatically. Our investment account doesn't require any "handling."]

    A new Chase bank opened in Sun City Center just before we left. Not only were they as convenient as PNC and located both in Florida and Michigan, but they offered John a military account with lots of perks (free checks, no fees, and a safety box)!! We accepted their offer, which included a $200 incentive bonus. Eventually we’ll go from three banks down to one bank. I am working us toward that goal.

    We need to have a bank located in both cities (Sun City Center, FL and Saginaw, MI) with the lowest charges. The newly opened Chase Military account accomplished everything we wanted. Ok, so no problem. Just switch all automatic payments, and deposits to Chase and it’ll be perfect.

    Not so simple..

    I found that I needed to contact old employers (for pension plan payments) x 2, health insurance companies so we could do direct deposits x 2, Home Owners Association payments for our Condo service fees x 1, utilities (multiple), Soc. Security payments x 2, and credit card payments. (I’m sure I’ve left out a few when compiling this list.)

    It’ll take months to get it all straightened out. I only wish everything had been on our credit card because that only required one switch, but it’ll eventually work.

    I’ve spent so many hours that I can’t begin to compute them. (I would guess 16 hours minimum.) Nothing is working smoothly but on the horizon I see a break. I have requested social security and pensions to be moved. I need to coordinate the out-going payments with the income. I can’t move everything until more income accounts are up and depositing. It’ll take a couple months to straighten it all out. But at least, when it’s coordinated if something happens to us, it’ll be easier for our survivors. I wouldn’t wish this mess on anyone…

    I’m really on top of our finances and banking. What happens when folks don’t have that kind of focus.

    I have been toting multiple check books: Citizens checking, Citizens line of credit account, PNC money market, PNC checking, and Ameriprise cash. Now I’ve added Chase checking. That means six check books as well as debit cards for each of those accounts. What a mess. Hopefully I’ll get my wish and eventually we’ll be able to carry only one check book and everything will be on autopay.

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    Can’t stay focused

    We’re home in Michigan (although definitely not unpacked). Our lovely home is messy and in need of a good cleaning.

    But I have a more demanding project.

    I MUST complete the workshop schedule for the ODPC Funfest. (I’ve been the Workshop Chairman for 18 years for the world’s largest hammered dulcimer festival.) I need to finish scheduling the rough daily grids and get them to my proofreader this week. Once she has proofed my work and the corrections have been made, I’ll work on the descriptions of the 220+ classes. It’s a huge project and takes the biggest share of a month to complete.

    The problem is, I can’t seem to stay focused. I find all kinds of excuses to do something else. I play on-line games, pay bills, do anything else. I must get busy. (So why am I writing on my blog?)

    Ok, I’ll get back at my project. No more procrastinating!!! I vow I will finish the three daily grids by Friday at the latest!!! (I currently have about 1/3 of the classes scheduled.)

    Bye for now!

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    We’re Back!

    We made it home by about 3:00 this afternoon. Our trip north took three rather uneventful days.

    Monday things started out negatively. Everything was packed and John moved the truck in the driveway so I could get in for the 1,300 mile trip from Florida to Michigan. Just as I was ready to close the truck door, John said “Oh, no!”

    The brakes weren’t working at all. The brake line had sprung a leak and the brake fluid was in a puddle under the vehicle. With no brakes weren’t going to be able to leave. But in less than three hours we were on the road. John had been prepared with a new brake line and a couple of bottles of brake fluid, and he quickly replaced the line. We were headed north before 11:30 a.m. — three hours behind schedule.

    The brakes worked fairly well, but really needed to have the air purged from the line. He tried to open the valves on each tire to allow him to purge them but they were frozen up. The car stopped firmly, but when they were depressed John felt they were a little “mushy” and I sensed his tension.

    The trip was therefore more difficult than usual. With him being tense, I became his extra, vigilant eyes. We drove even slower and more cautious than we normally would have. We stayed in the right rather than the left lane and maintained lots of space between us and other vehicles on the road. John tried to get the brakes serviced while in route, but no one could take the truck in on short notice and since they did respond (even though mushy), we kept going. John would never have risked us if he’d felt they weren’t safe. It was just that they just didn’t feel as firm as usual, and the difference put both of us on edge.

    About 50 miles from the northern Georgia border, we ran into swarms of lovebugs. They covered the truck and made it hard to see. We stopped at a rest area to clear the windshield, and while stopped, the pesky critters made outside existence miserable. By the time we were 10 miles into Georgia, there were no more bugs, but we carried their bodies back with us.

    Traffic wasn’t bad except around Atlanta when we ran into a massive jam-up. (TV news reports explained that there’d been a police chase down I-75 to catch a bank robber. The robber lost control and crashed. We caught the end of resulting traffic tie-up.)

    First night we stayed at a lovely Quality Inn in Marrietta, Georgia. Of course we arrived later than we’d planned, but it was before 7:30.

    The room was large, pleasant, fresh smelling, clean, and the staff was really nice. They even gave us a gift box for being a preferred guest. (The box contained oranges, apples, bottled water and Chitos.) We enjoyed a pleasant late dinner at a nearby Cracker Barrel (the next building). Tuesday morning we were impressed with the huge free buffet for guests. The buffet included eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, toast, sweet breads, bagels, waffles, hot or cold cereal, and/or lots of fruit choices plus an array of juices and morning beverages like tea, coffee and milk.

    No lunch break. We just nibbled in route. Arrived at our motel in Miamisburg, Ohio, about 5:30. Again we stayed at a Quality Inn. (They’ve become our motel of choice.) This was one we’d enjoyed last year when we were headed north. It was just as nice this year, although the free breakfast wasn’t quite as spectacular as we’d enjoyed in Marrietta but with waffles, sweet breads, biscuits and gravy, cereals and yogurt, we sure didn’t go hungry. (We did miss the fresh fruit.)

    Except for quick rest stops, we drove straight through and made it home by about 3:00. .

    Our Michigan residence welcomed us. It was chilly inside (about 60), but with outside temperatures of about 80, we didn’t complain. Our house was a little stale, but absolutely no problems. Grass looked shaggy, and a bunch of branches littered the lawn, but nothing to complain about. (Mice did get inside our travel trailer, but except for droppings, it doesn’t appear there was damage.)

    We considered the trip totally successful. John will make sure the truck brakes are working better before we use it again, but he did a great job getting us safely home. We’re both tired but it feels good to be here.

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    Cramming it all in

    With a week to go, we’ve been cramming in lots of fun activities. This weekend we had a good time at a Michigan Club Kentucky Derby Party and a brunch celebration of Richard ending his chemo treatments.

    I’ve been packing and feel everything is just about ready to move from the “staging area” into the truck. The little bit that’s left to be done can be completed last minute.

    This afternoon we’ll attend a bar-be-que and go to our last line dance class. Tomorrow we’ll have fun at karaoke at the South Club. Wednesday evening I want to go to Little Harbor to take in a lovely sunset and enjoy their wonderful burger specials. Thursday is our last Rockin’ Rendezvous and good-bye to lots of folks we only see at the Club House. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I plan to hang out at the pool. Sunday evening we’ll attend an Oldies But Goodies Dance with music by our favorite group, Flash Back.

    We leave a week from today.

    Already I’m counting down to the return trip.

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    Too close for comfort

    Our departure from Florida will occur May 13th, two weeks from tomorrow. I have a lot of cleaning and packing to accomplish.

    Wish I liked cleaning and packing like I do being at the pool but I find the lure of warm water and friends hard to resist.

    Between now and the 13th, we have a couple parties and dances. Maybe we just won’t find time to leave.

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    Fun weekend (and it’s only half-way through)

    Yesterday a bunch of us (close to 30 folks) gathered at the bowling alley on Big Bend Road in Riverview for a birthday party for two of our good friends: Shelly Brooks and Ron Ringenback. It was fun although both John and I bowled lousy!! From there, we went from the alley to Asian Fusion in Apollo Beach for a lovely buffet. It was a totally enjoyable time!

    Today was cloudy and overcast. John played pickleball this morning and I should have gone to the pool, but instead we went shopping and didn’t get home until mid-afternoon. After getting home, I worked on the workshops for the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest and the website for that club.

    I need to focus on scheduling workshops. It’s a huge job and I really need to apply myself.

    Tomorrow night (Sunday), we’ll enjoy an Oldies but Goodies dance with a bunch of our friends. Monday and Tuesday we have pool parties. It’s all so much fun.

    This is why I love our time in Florida.

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    Toilet seats (probably TMI)

    Many women complain when their husbands or other males leave the toilet seat up. Most ladies have had the unpleasant experiencing of “falling in” when we expected the seat down, and it was in an “up” position. The hard, cold porcelain greeting us (or worse the water in the bowl) is a rude awakening (especially in the middle of the night.)

    At our house, it’s not a problem. After we both listened to an explanation of the micro-fine, germ-laden mist which envelops the bathroom, when a toilet is flushed, we both vowed to put the seat COVER down before flushing. So if you come to our house, you’ll find the cover is always down. To me it seems strange now to see the innards of the toilet bowl.

    When I use the “facilities” in friends’ houses, I lower the cover out of habit before flushing. I’m sure John probably does the same.

    It’s an excellent habit to develop. That way both the males and females have a responsibility to “put the seat down.” And, more importantly, your bathroom will have fewer nasty germs.

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    The Dove Experiment

    This is an interesting study:

    Dove soap did an experiment.

    A former forensic artist for the San Jose police department met a series of women and asked each to describe the way they look. He had no way of seeing them behind a curtain. He prompted them to detail everything: hair length, facial structure, their most prominent features. He then sketched each participant from their self-description.

    Each woman was asked before the study to get to know one of the other participants. The forensic artist then prompted each woman to describe the other’s face. The results are fascinating.

    We’re so critical of ourselves. This should be a lesson to each of us.

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    Missing from the Landscape

    Today, as I walked to the pool, I noticed the grass beside the sidewalk. I’m not referring to lovely thick green grass like that on golf courses; I’m talking about the stuff that survives in high traffic areas next to sidewalks here and there.

    I noticed large patches of green (probably about a foot or more in diameter). In Michigan, those clumps would have been made up of sweet green clover. At first (from a distance), I thought I was approaching a clover patch and looked forward to hunting for a four-leaf (which I frequently do when I spot clover in Michigan.) But this morning, the weeds which filled the area were strange to me. These were multi-leafed, growing much like clover, but many leaves on straight stems.

    There is NO clover that I’ve seen in Florida.

    I miss Michigan vegetation. Down here we have no spring flowers (lilac, tulips, crocus, daffodil). There are no maple trees, Michigan oaks, elms, birch trees, willow, white pine and spruce. None of those grow here in our central area of Florida (or, if they are here, I haven’t spotted them.)

    In Florida we have a native tree called an oak complete with acorns, but the leaves don’t look at all like the lobed leaves of a Michigan oak tree. Our Florida oaks are often festooned with Spanish moss which sways like a dancer’s skirt but these aren’t the oaks of my youth.

    And here in Florida, we have a whole host of palms which could never survive in Michigan, but I can’t begin to identify any of the various sub-species of palms.

    I need to go back to Girl Scouts or summer camp. In summer camp, we were required to identify lots of trees by their leaves and as a Girl Scout, I won a merit badge for identifying trees.

    Maybe with that incentive I’d learn the difference between date palms, fan palms, queen palms, royal palms and areca palms.

    I somehow feel that if I could identify the vegetation here in Florida, I’d feel even more that is my home permanent home. Afterall, I can tell you about the maple trees I climbed as a child in Midland, or the white pines that have grown with unbelievable speed at our place in the U.P. But I can’t tell you what the “red bottle brush” is actually called. I just know it’s pretty.

    It’s kind of a trade-off. Down here, in addition to the palms, we enjoy colorful hibiscus, birds of paradise, gardenias, and many sensitive plants that we use as “house plants” in Michigan but here in Florida grow outdoors.

    Bottle Brush Tree Flower:
    bottle brush flower

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    Suggestion: Another Blogger

    I know at least one friend who pops in every morning to see if I’ve added to this blog known as “Sharon’s Blog.”

    Like my friend who visits my blog and enjoys my posts, I look forward to some blog posts written by a friend: Judith Lindenau. Judith’s daily blog draws me in. She writes beautifully. Some of what she writes (unlike my posts), is fiction, but it’s all well done. I’m hooked. I’ve signed up for reminders that tell me when she’s posted and I never miss her writings.

    I strongly recommend her to those who appreciate interesting, brief essays. You can find them under the title Mice in the Cupboard.

    I can almost guarantee you’ll love Judith’s blog. She has a home in Eleuthera, an island in the Bahamas. Many of her posts have to do with her life there. I truly believe that you’ll enjoy her beautiful, descriptive prose. Try her. I think you’ll be hooked too.

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    Short-Timer

    Very relucantly we’ll soon be leaving Florida (probably about May 13th.)

    I’m starting to make my lists of things I must remember to do before we leave. I’m also preparing packing lists.

    About two weeks before we leave, I’ll start a “staging area.” Some stuff has to wait until last minute to be rounded up, but there are always lots of items I don’t want to forget. This year I’m determined to to leave most of my clothes here in Florida. The stuff I haven’t worn this season will go back with me (or I’ll purge/donate it). I don’t want to forget that I need about a dozen nice casual outfits to wear while we’re at our big festival in July.

    Of course this year wasn’t like last. We didn’t have any severe cold requiring a “winter wardrobe.” Most years I’ve worn my Michigan heavy jacket a few times, but not this year. (I may take it back to Michigan with me because reports are that spring is refusing to arrive and it’s still threatening to snow!)

    My overly-full closet is crowded with stuff that just hangs there unworn because it either doesn’t fit or isn’t in style. I’d love to lose about 20 pounds, but I’m no longer saving clothes with that in mind. Instead I want to reward myself, if I get back to a smaller size, with new outfits. So as I pack, rather than just pushing unused stuff to the back of the closet, I’m going to purge a lot of items.

    On the topic of weight, I will readily admit that I didn’t do what I’d promised myself before I left for Florida. I thought that coming here, where I’m dressed in skimpier attire and I’m more active, would help me lose weight. But I hadn’t counted on the potlucks, the party food, the wine and beer, and the dining out experiences which have occurred every few days.

    I have no will-power when it comes to those dining events that make up so much of our social life here. I hope, when I get back to Michigan, I can concentrate on a diet and shed some weight. With the incentive of looking better in the fall for Florida and approximately 140 days in Michigan, I hope I’ll do better than I have this winter. (I’ve gained nearly five pounds over the past six months!)

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    Playing the Marimbula

    9NoteMarimbula.jpgLast July, when we were at our big dulcimer festival, we bought another instrument for me to play, a marimbula. I didn’t want to give up my autoharp, but we felt the strong beat of the marimbula would enhance our music.

    The photos to the left are of a marimbula. It sounds like an upright bass but easier to tote around. The thought, when we bought it, was that I could learn how to play it with our Florida group, Kings Strings.

    (Kings Strings is made up of four of us: Wayne Conklin and my husband John play hammered dulcimer, and Linda Conklin and me are on autoharp. John occasionally also plays tenor banjo, Wayne sometimes sings and adds ukulele, and Linda sometimes plays Irish drum aka a bodhran, in addition to her autoharp.)

    I’m really not very musical and definitely lack confidence. I was easily discouraged when John picked it up and played my new instrument perfectly, while I was struggling.

    We brought it with us when we came south in October but I only played the autoharp and the marimbula sat idle in our dining room.

    At a recent practice, the Conklins convinced me to try playing the marimbula. We needed the beat and that instrument would help. With their encouragement I made the effort. I’ll admit, it sounded pretty good so I practiced after that and prepared to play three or four tunes with our group, when we performed for a pizza party on April 4th. (I picked tunes with a Latin beat.)

    The day of the performance arrived. I was tense and John didn’t feel well. Tension and illness don’t help a performance. The last minute run-through went smoothly but a good dress-rehearsal is said to be a bad sign.

    During our show, although my playing of the Marimbula was successful, I was concentrating on the marimbula so intently that I lost it on the autoharp. I’ve never played worse (on the ‘harp). In fact all four of us had problems on one tune or another.

    The audience may not have known that we weren’t playing as good as we usually do. We were disappointed but our audience loved us.

    Since that night, we’ve had gobs of favorable comments. Audiences don’t notice small flaws and I think folks felt supportive of my playing because I told them it was my first public exposure with my new instrument. That helped get them on our side.

    Next time I’ll feel more comfortable with my big baby, the Marimbula. I am determined to do better!!!

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    Crowded Pool!!!

    Today I planned to spend the whole day at the South Club pool. We haven’t been at the pool much over the past month because of the huge crowds and our busy calendar. As I planned for today, I hoped that the spring break grandchildren and other guests would have headed back north. I also expected that many snow birds would have left for their northern homes.

    My plans were for a quiet day at poolside reading and soaking up the wonderful Florida sunshine.

    I walked to the pool before 10:00 a.m. By arriving as early as I did, I had managed to secure two lounge chairs in my favorite shady corner. John joined me when he finished playing pickleball.

    As it turned out today’s crowd was huge. By noon it was totally packed with no extra loungers or chairs.

    At one point about 1:00, I was in the pool. When I got out, a crowd of ladies had “moved in.” They brought in chairs so close they were touching our chairs in a circle around us. Sure, when you go to a crowded pool deck, you expect to be close to other chairs and people, but these ladies squeezed more chairs into the space normally alloted for two lounge chairs. Instead of the two of us, all of the sudden there were six!! We had folks inches on three sides of us. It became impossible to read because they were talking (loudly) over us. (One lounge chair by our feet, one beside and one behind us.) I couldn’t even get out of my chair because we were blocked in. John felt they were intentionally trying to make us uncomfortable so we’d leave. That made me more determined to stay.

    I’ll be darned if I’d give up our chairs and give them a victory for their rudeness.

    One of the ladies informed me that she usually sat where I was sitting. (Actually for about SIX years, that corner has been recognized as “our spot,” although any time we arrive after others have claimed that area, we find another place. That’s how it is. No spot at the pool is for anyone’s exclusive use!!!)

    A year or two ago, I found myself in the position those ladies were in. I tried to slip in behind others where there wasn’t much space. But before I located my chair I asked the close-by people if it was ok, and I said, “If I’m too close, let me know.” Then I tried to be extra quiet and not “invade” their tranquility. I shut off my phone, I didn’t talk loudly. I was respectful. I honored the fact that they had arrived first.

    These ladies didn’t even acknowledge us. They just moved in around us and all of the sudden our quiet afternoon was gone.

    We headed home about 3:00.

    So tomorrow I’m going to try again. I’ll go even earlier (9:00-9:30), aim for my favorite spot again, and hope that I’m not crowded out. From their conversations, I have a feeling that the one who was most difficult, may be leaving for a northern state soon, maybe even tomorrow morning.

    I’m glad we have a month before we leave to get over this negative feeling.

    John said, “Don’t dwell on it. Ignore them. They were inconsiderate.” But I was disappointed.

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    Soon……

    We’re looking forward to next week. By then most of the Easter/Spring break house guests who come down to Florida to visit relatives in our community should have returned home. We’ll have our pool back.

    We had a cool spell during a lot of March (especially toward the end of the month) but it is now warm/hot and lovely.

    Today we didn’t even bother to go to the pool because we know it’s packed!! When finding a parking place is impossible, you know that there won’t be a place to sit.

    Actually this week we have a lot to anyway. Our music group, Kings Strings, is playing for Manchester’s pizza party on Thursday and Saturday John’s chorus is offering a concert. Both of those events will require practice and prep. That doesn’t leave a lot of free time.

    I do see a totally open day on Friday. And after Saturday, I vow to devote several hours each day to pool time! We have a lot of late afternoon events on our calendar, but if I’m at the pool by 9:00, I can get at least five hours in each day before we hit our scheduled stuff.

    It’s time!!!

    —————–

    Friday (April 5th) -

    Wouldn’t cha know it. Finally have a free day and it’s not pool weather. We’ve had rain showers all morning. Now it’s windy and only 68 degrees. (A cold front is coming through.)

    Tomorrow and Sunday should be lovely.

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    Kleenex as a siphon

    Tuesday/Wednesday night/early morning (probably about 1:30) I got up to go to the bathroom, came back, took a drink of water from the glass I always leave on my night stand. I pulled a Kleenex from the box beyond the glass of water and went back to bed. All of this was done without turning on a light but that’s nothing unusual.

    About dawn I went to reach for my glass of water. There was a wet Kleenex in it! Strange!! When I took the soggy tissue from my glass, it was still hooked to another and another and another in the box. All wet!

    Apparently when I’d pulled a Kleenex from the box at about 1:30 a second one had stuck to the first and dragged across the glass of water so the leading end was in the water, but it was also still connected to those in the box. In the the next five or six hours, the Kleenex tissue between the glass and the box had acted as a wick. The water leached back from the glass into the nearly-full box of Kleenex. In the end, the glass was empty, the box was full of wet tissues.

    Who’d have ever imagined that could happen?

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    Squirrely

    We are having an annoying problem with squirrels.

    This area is landscaped with lots of native oak trees. (In fact, in order to clear the land, the original developers had to commit to keeping the native trees and planting more oaks.) This year, acorns were really plentiful. We crunched through them for months and keeping driveways and sidewalks clear of them was impossible. The street was orange from their crushed shells.

    With the acorns, come squirrels. It’s not unusual to count a dozen or more of them at any time. You look across the ground and they are moving. The furry critters are fun to watch as they chase up and down trees and around the grassy area between us and the pond behind us. But their “play place” includes our screens. Our lanai screens are a favorite spot for them to chase up and down, but our new sliding door screens have also been an attractive for these furry creatures. They flatten themselves against the screen and can move easily across it.

    We’re concerned that they’ll do damage. I’ve noticed they leave their tracks on the screen on the new doors and we’re not happy!! Our plan is to remove the new screens from their tracks and store them in the garage when we head back to Michigan but that doesn’t protect the lanai screens.

    I want to buy some squirrel repellent (spray). I definitely plan to buy some but with our luck, they’ll love the smell.

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    Cool Springtime Today Only

    We’re in for a cool day today with a high of 67 but after that, in the long-range forecast, I see only one temperature below 70! Hopefully this last segment of our 2012-13 winter in Florida will be lovely until we leave. Unfortunately our return to Michigan seems like it’s approaching much too fast.

    We will be leaving about May 13th.

    Soon I’ll be starting to pack up our “stuff.” I’m already working on lists. This year I vow not to drag as much back and forth. Eventually I’d love to fly back and forth rather than taking our truck but haven’t convinced John yet (although at least he’s now “thinking” about it.)

    John feels it’s cheaper to drive our truck down, but I really doubt it. We could save the cost of five nights in motels (going and coming), meals on the road, and the storage area here in Kings Point where we store the truck, not to mention the wear and tear on us as well as our vehicle when we drive down on the very dangerous highways. I-75 is over-run with semis that make the trip truly scary.

    True, if we fly down, we’ll need airport shuttle service to and from the airport and the cost of our flights. There’s also the problem of getting Charlie, our bird, to Florida but he’s getting really old, and we could always take him in a small cage under the seat in the plane.

    A bigger problem might be our musical instruments. I hope I can find a way that the instrument problem can be resolved.

    There are a couple solutions I can think of: We could use our extra instruments which are currently in Michigan when we’re in Michigan. Next season we can leave our favorite instruments in Florida. With instruments in both locations, we can consider flying down the following year (in October 2014). It’s the sort of change that we’ll have to plan for. The other choice would be to wait and when we decide to start flying, we can box up the instruments and ship them down (at a cost of approximately $30-$40 per instrument).

    I think we need to seriously start working out the details so we can fly. John’s not getting any younger, and flying is so much safer than 1,300 miles each way. If I can convince John, we’ll need to start the long-range plan by bringing back stuff in the truck from Michigan to Florida in October 2013.

    Mailing stuff is always possible but I’d hate to have to pay the postage to get things like my favorite dinnerware serving pieces which I’m missing here in Florida. I need to carefully review both places for items that need to be relocated and bring down as much as possible in October when we come back here.

    The only maybe insurmountable problem I see will be our wine supply. We count on enjoying John’s wine over the winter. (I wonder if we could ship our grapes or the grape juice to Florida at a reasonable price so he could make the wine down here. It’s something we can look into.)

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    Warming up!

    A very good day!! We went shopping and ended up at Goodson Farms where they have the best pressed Cuban sandwiches and large fresh strawberry shortcakes you can imagine. Today the Cubans and shortcakes were better than usual. It had finally warmed up and tomorrow will probably be a pool-day!! (mid to high 70′s) Came back and spent the afternoon compiling the info for our accountant so she can do our income taxes. (Feels good to have it ready to go to her.) Now we’re enjoying a glass of John’s homemade wine. Definitely a good day.

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    Rambling thoughts

    In the past, I have written a couple posts about how it’s difficult for snowbirds to keep stuff from spoiling when you leave it behind and head to your up-north home in the spring. Expiration dates are our enemy.

    Here’s my earlier post: “Expiration Dates”

    We have recognized the value of taking things like batteries and vitamins back and forth or storing them in the refrigerator. Shelf-life is greatly reduced in Florida’s summer heat. But this week we discovered that those hot summer temperatures cause other problems that we hadn’t considered.

    A few years ago I bought three Vellux blankets to be used on our beds here in Florida because they were inexpensive, light weight and looked lovely. Recently I’ve realized that those blankets are falling apart. They should have lasted longer!! The velvety stuff is pealing off the foam core. The sluff-off was ending up all over our bedroom floor and every time you pulled the blanket up, more came off. Obviously those blankets that are loosing their skin must go! I’m sure the problem is a result of the heat in our condo over the summer months. (We run a humidistat which makes sure that we don’t have mold conditions, but the temperatures are generally in the mid-80′s from May-October.)

    I’ve been looking on-line and had found some that were lightweight fiber fill “down alternative” blankets with bindings all around. Their average price was about $79 so I’d hesitated. Yesterday I bought one at Sam’s Club for about 1/3 that price. Now I wish I’d gotten a couple more. Sam’s is in Riverview so we don’t get there often, but it would be worth another trip back. I’m afraid even if we hurry back, they may not have them because they were a one-time offering. I’ll see if I can talk John into making the trip Thursday.

    Speaking of “going back” to places, I left my reading glasses in a restaurant last night. They aren’t worth a special trip back, but we’ll go right past the place when we go to pick strawberries in a few weeks. (I’m anxious for fresh strawberries and hope they’ll be priced as in the past at four quarts for $1.)

    Our Florida weather has been annoyingly cool. No pool time. It has been in the 40′s in the mornings and yesterday, even at it’s warmest, it hovered only around 60 degrees. Today it might get up to the mid 70′s, but then until the weekend, it’ll be back into the low 60′s. Thank heavens, it should warm up in about three days and stay that way – hopefully until we leave in May!! I sure hope so!!

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    We made it!

    John and I celebrated our birthdays over the past few days. John’s was Friday. Saturday we had a joint party and yesterday was mine.

    The party was fun and successful with 20 good friends collecting to enjoy an evening of food and dancing. Being together was the fun part!!

    We’re both nearly over our bug. Since I got it later than John I was still fighting mine when he was feeling better but I am about back to normal now.

    Tonight we’ll have fun at a karaoke evening at the clubhouse. Thursday night we’ll all attend a fun “lip sync” show.

    We will be leaving for home in about two months. Need to enjoy every minute of the time we have left here in paradise!!

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    My turn to be under-the-weather

    Wednesday I felt like I was coming down with something and by Thursday I had no voice and knew I was on the edge of not feeling well. Friday I did go to the pool for the day but Saturday I was even worse so I stayed inside and didn’t venture out at all. Today (Sunday), I’m better. My voice is still husky and I had about an hour of coughing this a.m. but I feel that I’m doing better. Got to the pool at about 9:30. Water felt wonderful. Hopefully I can shake it.

    I only stayed at the pool until about 1:30. One symptom of this bug is being really edgy. Friday I stayed too long and the chatter from those seated close to me annoyed me like nails on a chalkboard. By the time I left I was ready to scream. Today I left before I reached that point. Our house is comfortable and peaceful.

    I must get feeling better!!! March 1st, Friday, is John’s 75th birthday. My 71st birthday is Monday, March 4th. On Saturday, March 2nd, we’re going to have a joint party at Alpha Pizza House in Apollo Beach. We’ll arrive at 4:30. Alpha House will have music in the lounge from 5:00-8:00. We’ve invited a bunch to join us there. Should be a fun time, if we both feel up-to-it.

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    What’s Up?

    I’ve been pretty quiet lately. We were kind of “hibernating.” John wasn’t getting over his “bug” so we tried staying inside, especially since it was pretty chilly. But now it’s beautiful again with blue skies, puffy clouds and warm temps.

    Yesterday the Michigan Club held a huge pizza party. (I was the chairman for the third year.) We were set up for about 160 but ended up with about 140. Our entertainer was John Cortese, a really fun 88-year-old who does a patter of senior humor. He got a standing ovation (he said it was his first).

    The pizza (ordered locally from a mom and pop local pizza shop) arrived on time and HOT!! And the salad Richard made drew rave reviews.

    Last year we ran out of beer so we doubled our order this year and also didn’t allow before-the-party drinkers. As it turned out, we had twice as much beer as we needed. Today we discovered that the store has a NO RETURN policy, even though the keg was untapped and always cold. Hopefully we can sell our unopened keg to a club that’s holding a party within the next month. The party store will allow us to keep it refrigerated until it’s needed so it’ll be perfect. If the club won’t buy from us, we’ll have a huge party of our own!!

    Unfortunately while I was so busy working yesterday, I wasn’t feeling well. I pushed myself and accomplished what was necessary and it was a successful event, but today I have no voice. I actually don’t feel as bad as I sound. I would have headed to the pool to soak up some rays, but I figured that lazing around here might get me back to normal sooner, so I’m inside and in an hour, I’ll get ready so we can go to the clubhouse to dance with our friends.

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