Retirement Bargains in Florida

Trailer park, Trailers 12 & 13

Hello, Empty Nesters. Are any of you thinking of retiring to Florida or even just buying a home here to be snowbirds for a few months out of the year? If you are, this is a good time to pick up some bargains whether you’re looking for something new or a pre-owned home.

Most retirement communities have not been having a good sales year and are dropping prices. Those who are selling their homes here are also waiting for awhile for a purchaser so you can more than likely find a great bargain in a “resale” as we call them down here.

We live in a manufactured home community, NOT a trailer park! We have 2 golf courses and all sorts of things to do all the time. It certainly beats being snowed in up north for what seems like weeks at a time. We’re originally from Indiana so I know what I’m talking about when I discuss being snowed in. Maybe not for weeks but it seems like it!

Think about it and if retiring in Florida is in your plans, now is a good time to buy a home in paradise.

Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein!!

Einstein WallPaper
Creative Commons License photo credit: eheçatzin:.

Happy Birthday, Albert. You would be 130 years old today had you not died of an aortic aneurysm in April of 1955 at the age of 76. Best known for his “theory of relativity” and his hairdo, Einstein’s name is in our daily vocabulary, synonymous with someone of great intelligence.

My grandson’s FIRST birthday was yesterday. Yes, it was on Friday, the 13th. His party is today and his mother forgot to put ice cream on the list so chances are, they’ll just be having cake! Who knows, maybe he’ll grow up to be another Einstein!


As most of you may remember, we empty nesters live in a retirement community in central Florida. During the winter, at least once a month, we have an entertainer at our clubhouse. Tonight we had an ENTERTAINER! We had Charo and she was fabulous. I’m not usually so gaga over the entertainment we have here but she was one of the best we’ve ever had.

If you want to see some of what we saw tonight go to There are videos of most of the songs she played. She is a great flamenco guitarist.

But the best part was her chatter to the audience. I suppose it was all written beforehand, but her delivery was perfectly timed, and she said some things that were very unexpected and therefore, much funnier than the words she actually said!

You may remember Charo’s thick accent from years ago. It’s still there and she was a bit hard to understand at times. At one point she went into the audience and cavorted around, dancing with some of the men. When she returned to the stage, she was mentioning how the type of dancing she did required the man to hold the woman tightly from behind. But she had a warning for the audience, “when you hold the woman tightly, spooning can easily turn into forking!” Of course, the crowd roared.

The other shows we’ve had this season have ranged from pretty good to very bad. We have two more to go and I’m sure they’ll be in that category somewhere as well. But tonight’s show will be hard to top. Charo is indeed an entertainer, from her guitar playing, to her dancing and singing, to her deadpan jokes and patter with the audience.

A friend of ours has a sister who knew Charo through having taught her son in school in Hawaii where they lived. So the sister had written a note for our friend to give to Charo. Charo’s husband actually got the letter, they read it before the show and our friend and her husband were invited backstage to talk to Charo after the show. They reported that she was very personable and talked to them like she had always known them. She even gave the husband her newest CD.

My recommendation is that if you ever get the chance to see Charo on stage, go for it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. You may want to take earplugs as certain parts of the show are a bit deafening though!

Germ-Killing Chewing Gum

For some reason I was reading the label on my latest package of chewing gum. To my amazement and disgust, it informed me that my gum was a “germ-killing gum”. WHAT??

Yes, I accept the fact that I probably have germs in my mouth but is that a bad thing? Apparently these gum makers think so. OK, so if I accept their premise that germs in my mouth are a bad thing, and I go the next step and determine that I want to kill these little creatures wreaking havoc in my mouth, I buy their gum and chew it up, now what do I have?

What I have is a mouthful of dead germs. YUCK! I can’t really see how this would be that much better than just having the live ones in there. Have you smelled dead things lately. Not a pleasant experience, let me tell you!

My next question is, do I have to buy some other product now to get these dead germs out of my mouth? Or do I just swallow them and hope for the best? Now I probably have a stomach-full of dead germs. I think I was happier when I had the live ones in my mouth. After all, aren’t there supposed to be some live germs in your mouth. They can be very beneficial I think.

When my appendix ruptured a few years back and all that poison went out into my system, they put me on IV antibiotics for a week and then antibiotics in pill form for another week or two. The result of this onslaught was that the “good” germs in my mouth (as well as the “bad” ones I suppose) up and died and my mouth got very sore. I even had to eat yogurt to get the “good” germs to come back.

This leads me to believe that it’s not necessarily a good thing to kill off the germs in your mouth after all. What’s the matter with these people? Can’t they just make a plain old gum that just tastes good, gives your mouth something to do instead of eat all the time, and lets you blow bubbles in people’s faces? Why does their gum have to have a medicinal purpose.

Let’s get back to the simply things. Sugar-free is good so the gum won’t give you cavities but come on, leave my germs alone!

More Gadgets–magicJack Has Arrived

Well, we’ve purchased another gadget. This one is supposed to take a bit of a strain off the ole pocketbook and I think it really might. Imagine that!

This new gadget is called magicJack and you can see what all it does at You plug your phone line into magicJack, then the magicJack plugs into a USB port on your computer. You have to have some sort of high speed Internet to make magicJack work. DSL is fine; that’s what we have.

We ordered our magicJack over the Internet on Saturday, checked the tracking on Sunday and it had been shipped that day, and lo and behold, magicJack arrived in our mailbox on Monday! Wow! That was fast.

They were having a 30-day free trial, probably still are. So for the magicJack itself, assuming you decide to keep it of course, you’ll be charged $39.99 which also includes a YEAR of service. Service includes all long distance and local calls, caller ID, and voicemail.

We also opted to spend another $59.99 for an extra five years of service (a discount from the regular $19.99 per year). As usual Uncle Sam takes his cut and there was a $6.95 charge for shipping.

Well, we unwrapped magicJack and plugged the phone into it. Then I had to crawl around on the floor in an attempt to get to the USB ports on the back of the computer tower. This didn’t seem to be working too well, so I went ahead and plugged it into the front USB port. It was a bit wide for there so I wound up using the little extender they had sent along and it fits much better that way. Now I can still plug something else into the port nextdoor.

It was only supposed to take a minute or so to register and be ready to make calls. Well, as you have probably guessed, other than having to crawl around on the floor, things had been going pretty well up to this point. That was all about to change.

You have to register your new magicJack and the registration screen absolutely WOULD NOT cooperate. So I got on the chat with the magicJack people, four different ones last night, and the last one finally said chat back in the morning, we’ll have it fixed on our end by then.

So when I got up this morning, I tried unplugging and replugging again, but same old, same old, I still couldn’t register. Now I’m back on Chat, this time with Victoria. I gave her as brief a synopsis as I could of what had transpired the night before with the other chat folks. She asked a couple of questions, had me go to one spot and do a couple of mouse clicks, and EUREKA!! I was able to register and the darn thing actually works!!

I called our daughter to see if I could do it and she answered and she sounded very good (better than over the cell phone, actually). I input some of my “contacts” (sounds like I’m a drug dealer or something!!), figured out how to do some things, but now I have no one I need to call!

I did call myself using the cell phone a couple of times, just to see how it basically worked. Now I need to make us some little business cards to hand out to our friends to let them know our new phone number.

Up to this point, I would recommend magicJack. $12 a year for unlimited calling seems pretty good to me. I just hope they don’t go out of business in the next six years before I get to use up all this calling service! If I have any problems, I’ll let you know.

Ash Wednesday, the Beginning of Lent, a Time of Repentance

McAuley Ash Wednesday Mass

Today is Ash Wednesday, when the somber ceremony of marking a cross on the forehead in ashes is celebrated all over the world. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent with only 46 more days until Easter.

Marking the forehead of the faithful in a cross-shape made of ashes symbolizes repentance. The ashes are traditionally obtained by burning the palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services. The ashes are generally left on the forehead until after sundown.

Psalm 51 is generally associated with Ash Wednesday and reads as follows:

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me widsom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”

Mardi Gras, The Feast Before the Fast

Photo courtesy of Felipe Ferreira

Photo courtesy of Felipe Ferreira

Today, February 24th, is Mardi Gras which is French for Fat Tuesday, supposedly the last day for indulging before the somber weeks of Lenten fasting begin with Ash Wednesday. Also known as Shrove Tuesday in some areas, Mardi Gras is always a big deal in New Orleans and has been ever since French settlers landed near there in the early 1700’s.

Nowadays the grand celebration features masked balls, and as many as 350 fancy and fabulous floats and marching bands from around the country, all combined into colorful parades with as many as 15,000 costumed paraders passing by.


We thought we had bingo... but we didn't!

Well, here it is Monday again. As a retired Empty Nester, however, the thought of Monday doesn’t send a chill down my spine like it used to. Now it’s just the start of another week in Paradise, doing pretty much what we want, when we want.

Oh, there are ocassional things we have to do that we’d rather not, but for the most part we do as we please. On Monday’s my husband generally plays golf, so he will play this Monday unless it’s too cold. Yes, it does get too cold to play golf in Florida sometimes.

Tuesday, he has Bible studies, I have a bone scan and bingo. Last week I won $13 bingoing so hopefully, I’m on a roll and ready to grab the big bucks this week. I was doing pretty good last winter but then when my bingo buddy went north for the summer and I quit going, all my luck went too and I haven’t won this year until this $13. Although it may be too that my lucky charm is gone. There was one of the money-passer-outers who was always there last year to give me my winnings who is off now with a bad knee. So I’m hoping that won’t last much longer and he’ll come back so I can win again!

Anyway, the start of a new week is upon us. Great things may happen, we can only hope. Mardi Gras on Tuesday, Ash Wednesday on Wednesday. Maybe the weather will warm up a bit, we could use some rain, maybe I’ll lose a pound or two! Who knows. The possiblities are endless.

Happy Birthday, President Washington

George Washington's Original Burial Tomb

In February, there are several birthdays of people important to America’s past. Today is the birthday of George Washington, our first President.

George was born in 1732 and died on December 14, 1799, of a disease almost unknown today, epiglottitis, which is an infection of the small tissue flap at the back of the throat. Thanks to antibiotics, this is not a big problem in today’s world. However, in 1799, epiglottitis was often fatal because the swollen epiglottis blocked air from getting to the patient’s lungs resulting in suffocation.

President Washington did leave a Will instructing that all his slaves be freed after the death of his wife Martha Washington. He also left a $30 annuity to his personal servant, William. His funeral was fairly extravagant for its day and the funeral expenses were as follows:

Cake, $ 7.00; Funeral Shroud and Pall, $12.00; 12 Mourning Suits, $78.00; Delivery, $2.50; Mahogany Casket, $88.00; and Coach, bier & horse, $11.25 (Sunday rates).

Grand Total………………..$198.75

That’s right. Under $200 to bury the President of the United States! I can’t even begin to imagine what the cost of a Presidential funeral is on today’s market.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, George, you were a great President!

Six Ways to Get Fit on a Budget

Old people on bikes are everywhere

Well, Empty Nesters, if you’re having to tighten your belt (forgive the pun) here are a few budget conscious ways to get fit:

1. Use Workout Videos. You’ll pay one price and have the video to use whenever you want. Or you could rent it first to see if it’s really what you want before you buy. You may even be able to find some free ones on the Internet. Even if you buy a video, the price will probably be less than joining a gym for even just a month. Plus you don’t have to get in your car and use gas to get there and you can exercise whenever the mood strikes.

2. Walk. This is just about as cheap, cheap, cheap as you can get. Other than possibly having to purchase a better pair of walking shoes, walking is free. And one of the best overall workouts you can get.

3. Play Badminton. That’s right, badminton. Of course, you probably won’t want to do this in the snow unless you have some sort of indoor court, but for the summertime, it’s a great activity. You should be able to purchase a net, birdies and rackets for a nominal price, stick it up in your backyard and have fun!

4. Dance, dance, dance. You can do this alone or with a partner, in front of the TV or at a party. Check your local community centers for free or lowcost lessons so you don’t make a total idiot of yourself in front of everyone and go for it.

5. Cycling. If you don’t already have a bike, consider a cruiser style bike with foot brakes like when you were a kid. A certain discount store we all know and love has new ones for around $100 or you can usually find them at yard sales, flea markets, or your neighbor’s house.

6. Swimming. If you’re lucky enough to live near a pool, can join the YMCA, or have a pool of your own, swimming is a wonderful exercise. It provides a workout without putting stress on your joints which is a good thing for us more mature empty nesters. It might be a bit pricey to put in your own pool, but you can usually go to a community pool or even the Y for a fairly small charge. No an inflatable kiddie pool won’t work, they’re not deep enough to swim in. Sorry.

So there you have it. Fitness on a budget.