Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 28 - 31, 2014 - WI, MN

Thursday, July 31.  The highlight of Monday was a lunch gathering with 7 of my first cousins at the Olive Garden in Madison.  We had an enjoyable conversation, lots of laughs, and a great time, visiting for a few hours.

Ken Otteson, Donna Parisi, Carole Shafer, Jonnie Teubert, JoAnne Lucas, Me, Fran Ganshert

I'm just now getting a chance to update after arriving at Ben and Jill's yesterday afternoon.  The drive here was uneventful but once I got here, it has been nonstop.  Camille and ?Norah woke from their naps shortly after I got here. Camille reached out for me right away and had a little giggle for me. They are on the move now, crawling all around, chasing after the dogs that they love, and not staying still for very long.  After having a bottle (there's no sitting on laps for that any more), we packed up the stroller and headed for Pershing Park where Charlotte could play in the playground and the kiddie pools.  Needless to say, she liked the pool the best.  The twins were content with having their feet dangle and enjoyed watching all of the other children play.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of activity and it only became quiet when they we all in bed for the night.  Today was much the same only a little more hectic as Jill had to be away for a while this afternoon and Camille wasn't feeling well.  She woke from her nap with a fever and shortly after that, Charlotte through a major tantrum.

Ben and I spotted this guy on our walk this evening.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 21 - 27, 2014, WI

Monday, July 21.  I'm going camping!  First, I went to Madison this morning to meet up with my in-laws, Tom and Karen and Patty and Hobe for breakfast.  It was nice to get one more visit with Patty before she heads back to Florida and I got to get to know Hobe a little better.  He's a very nice guy who seems to care a lot about Patty and they are quite happy with living in Florida.

When I got back home, I proceeded to get the trailer hooked up to the car.  The ball on the hitch was lined up perfectly, but when I lowered the tongue, it just wouldn't go down on the ball.  I called Pat and he gave me some suggestions; so I tried raising the rear stabilizing jacks hoping it would drop the tongue - no, I emptied the fresh water tank - no, I took all of the heavy items out of the back of the car - no.  I called Pat again.  This time, he suggested that I start over and when I did, I realized that the locking pin on the trailer tongue was not open all of the way and the locking mechanism prevented the tongue from setting on the ball.  Duh!!  It all came together after that.  This is definitely a learning process for me.

Before I left town, I stopped and had the air in the tires checked and adjusted.  I got to the Kegonsa State Park and found my site - a double site for Pat and Rog and me.  They were already there and all set up and it worked out that I could just pull straight in and our doors would be facing each other.  It took just a few minutes to get settled and get the awning up and I was ready for a few days of camping.  

Later in the afternoon, Chris and Norm pulled in and got set up in the site next to us.  It was good to see them, it has been since April when we were all still in Mesa.  It wasn't long and it was happy hour followed by a yummy camp dinner of brats and hot dogs.  When the Mosquitos came out in droves (around 9:00), we all called it a night and headed for the comfort of our rigs.

We had a raccoon visit our site during the night - he was rustling through the recyclables and Roger got up and chased him away.  Pat said it was a big guy - much bigger than either of our dogs.  I slept right through it and didn't hear a thing, thanks to the hum of the air conditioner.

So far, I have no regrets in buying my trailer.  It fits me and Frisco well and I think I will have no problems with it.  It feels good!

Tuesday, July 22.  The day started with a nice, long walk through the park, down to the lake.  It was breezy there but hardly any at the campsite where we really needed it.  It's going to be a hot day - predictions are for 90s and high humidities.

Chris and Norm came over and we played Dirty Clubs and Euchre most of the afternoon.  It got really hit and humid - it's bad when the sweat rolls off your face when you are sitting still in the shade.  It finally broke in the evening when a front came through and brought us cooler temps and the humidity dropped considerably.

Thursday, July 24.  Yesterday was a perfect day for camping with temps in the mid 70s, a slight breeze that kept the Mosquitos at bay, and cool enough in the evening to enjoy some good old campfire therapy.  Dawn and her friend, Robin, came by in the afternoon and we had a very nice chat, a sip of wine, and some snacks.  

We walked to the beach this morning, a round trip of 2.5 miles.  Had a nice breakfast and then started to pack up for the trip back home.  Just as we were leaving, Pat's brother, Jim, stopped by - just had to show us the 26.5" walleye that he had just caught.  He was going to be having a delicious breakfast when he got home.  

This little guy thought my camper was a nice place to hang out.

I was back at Pat's and settled into my site by noon.  Thanks to Pat's neighbor, Rose, who guided me back in to my spot in the front yard.

I met up with Tom, Karen, Joan, Vicki, Louie, and Dave for dinner at Toby's tonight.  Their Old Fashioned and shrimp and lake perch combo was delicious, as usual and the company was great too!

Sunday, July 27.  I didn't do a lot the last few days other than some garage sales with Louie in Friday morning, I hooked up with my cousin, Jonnie that afternoon, hung out with Pat and Tracey, planted some Canna Lilies for Dawn, and attended a family gathering of cousins at Erin's new home on  Sunday.  It was well attended by lots of kids and adults, including Jonnie's new great grandson, Alexavier, who is 3 weeks old.  As usual, the food was great - thanks to Ken and Gerta for bringing fresh lake perch - yum, yum!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 14 - 20, 2014, WI

Monday, July 14.  I was awake and moving by 6:30 - had some coffee and got my laundry going and took Frisco for a nice walk.  The mornings have been nice and cool and the forecast is for 70s through most of the week.  I've had to use an extra layer of blankets during the nights.  

When the laundry was done, I headed out to Lake Kegonsa State Park to check out some sites for camping with Pat and Roger next week.  A nice double site is available, so we've got a spot.

From there, I went to Mike's cousin, Louie's to hang out.  As I was pulling into her driveway, I saw Mike's friend and classmate, JD, chatting with someone in the street.  Louie and I walked over and joined that conversation and ended up talking for quite a while.  Then we went to her Mom, Aunt Joan's, house for some lunch.  They both live on the Yahara River in homes that started as tiny cottages, have had several additions, and have been in their family for years.  In fact, Joan grew up in the house that she lives in - it belonged to her parents.  Also the family business, Inland Lakes Boat 
Works where Mike's Grandfather and his Uncle Bill built and sold boats for years, is located across the river and is still in operation although it is no longer owned by the family.  It was a nice afternoon.

Pat made grilled sausage and peppers for dinner tonight. YUM!

Tuesday, July 15.  I was on the phone this morning with my cousins, Fran and Ken, trying to get us first cousins together for lunch.  As far as I know, there are only 13 of our generation still living and 7 of us will be together on the 28th.  I was telling Fran that Carole and Bob are here from Florida and they might be able to join us too.  Just as I hung up the phone, Carole called.  I learned that they have a 5th wheel set up permanently at the Lakeland Campground in Milton for the summer.  It is only a short distance from Stoughton, so I headed over there and we had a great visit and a beer and a burger at the bar overlooking Lake Koshkonong. 

It has been a cold and rainy day - I even had to put long pants on and wear a sweater.

Wednesday, July 16.  My trailer looks like brand new after a good cleaning and wax from top to bottom.  It didn't take any longer than it does to clean a car.

It was only 52 degrees this morning - brrrrr!  It warmed up nice once the sun came up and we took a nice, 2 mile walk.

Thursday, July 17.  Tom and Karen and Becky and Lizzy invited me to join them on a bike ride today.  Becky brought Brooke's bike for me to ride (she is at camp this week) and we all headed out from Tom and Karen's toward Cherokee Country Club on Madison's northeast side.  Before I had ridden a mile, I had my doubts if my body would hold out.  We did make it to Olbrich Gardens where we stopped to see the memorial tree where there are leaves for Mom, Mike, and Dan - very nicely done.  I made it about a half mile farther along the bike path but had to turn back after that.  The bike was just too small and had no cushion in the seat - a very rough ride.  I still had at least 2 miles to go back but I made it with a few periods of walking along the route.  I did get my physical workout in today with the bike ride and about 40 minutes of walking with Frisco this morning.

The only other time that I have seen a near naked man riding a bike was in Quartzite, AZ and it took me by surprise.  Today, in Monona, I was surprised again.  This guy was on a motorcycle, naked except for a thong and he was wearing a doo rag on his head and a cape.  Strange!

When I got back home I took a short nap and then I wanted to see if I could put the awning on the trailer out by myself.  I did it!  It's very nice, certainly retro, and very orange.  It's going to work out just fine.

Friday, July 18.  This morning I took a ride to Edgerton, a small town to the southeast of 
Stoughton, as they were having city-wide garage sale (I'm addicted).  As I drove along the country roads I was surrounded by a sea of green; fields of corn and soybeans, heavily wooded areas of oaks and pine trees, a pair of Sandhills Cranes flying over the road, the sweet smells if new mown hay, and all of this with a background of beautiful blue skies that were dotted with puffs of white clouds.  Get the picture?  Absolutely beautiful!  I guess the scenery was my reward, as I certainly didn't come across the mother load at garage sales - a pretty basket and a couple of Pampered Chef items.

I met Pat and Roger and some of his family at Nau-ti-gal in Madison for dinner tonight.  I was so looking forward to a good Old Fashioned but Rog informed me that he had just had the worst one he has ever had in the entire state of Wisconsin.  So we all decided to get a pitcher of beer and they didn't have any of those that we all suggested but the once that we settled on was good.  I was beginning to wonder if the meals were going to be messed up - they sure didn't have the bar very organized.  The standard fish fry was delicious though and we had a great time sitting on the patio facing the river.  It was a very nice evening with friends.

Saturday, July 19.  It was off the grocery store this morning, time to stock up on a few things for camping next week and also to get ingredients for lasagna for tonight's dinner.  I got that all ready as soon as I got the groceries put away - and I managed to find space for everything.

I walked over to Dawn's house, as her daughter, Adriane was going to be there with her 2 kids, Lyla and Noland.  What a surprise to also see Dawn's daughter Kate, who just finished getting her Physical Therapy degree in England.  They were expecting her home in the next 2 weeks but she was being very evasive about her travel arrangements.  Right behind her was my cousin, Theresa.  Lunch was prepared and we all enjoyed a nice visit on the patio.

When I got back to Pat's house, I got to meet his friend, Mark.  Now, I've heard a lot of stories about this friend from Germany, so it was nice to finally meet him - a cheerful, polite, and fun guy to talk to.  We enjoyed a beer in the back yard and then we all had dinner together - Tracey's Mom, Donna also joined us.  My lasagna was a big hit!  What a pleasant day!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7 - 13, 2014, WI

Tuesday, July 7.  My morning walks around Stoughton sure bring back memories; houses I lived in, houses my friends lived in, schools, ice skating rinks, playgrounds, parks, and cemeteries - it's a good place to be for the summer.

I've been keeping myself busy most of the time but have also found time to take a few naps.  For some reason, I'm finding it very easy to sleep these days.  In fact, some nights I have been getting 9-10 hours of sleep.  I've never been able to do that before in my life.

This morning after my walk, I stopped to say hello to Dawn and Rich and asked to use their computer to print the forms I need to register and license my trailer in Arizona.  It took 2 additional trips over there (only a block away from Pat's house) - first to print the forms and then to make copies of the documents I have to send (I want to prove that I've sent them if I should get pulled over with no plates).  That job is out of the way - yay!

This afternoon, Patty picked me up and we went to Culver's to meet up with 7 other classmates - they have been meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.  We had a great time chatting with lots of laughter and stories to tell.  I went to the bathroom and when I came back, there sat this group of white haired old ladies in the corner - it felt strange to be a part of that group - and when I mentioned it, none of us really felt we were that old.

I watched The Hunger Games, Catching Fire tonight, the second in the trilogy.  I was impressed with how well the movies have followed the books.  The TV in the trailer works great, but I haven't figured out how to play music from my phone through it, although it does have a USB connection.  There's got to be a way.

Wednesday, July 8.  I got busy this morning doing some cleaning on the trailer, wiped up the floors and got rid of some glue on the bathroom floor.  The glue removal was quite the job and nothing worked until I tried WD40 - that softened it enough to be able to get it off.  Now I know how to clean the other 2 spots that have residual glue on them.

Another item on my to do list was to print a few photos of Mom for the family gathering that is scheduled for Saturday.  A project that should have taken a few minutes ended up being over an hour, mainly because I didn't know what I was doing and the guy that works there was also helping other customers.

I had a haircut appointment this afternoon with Marion, the gal that has cut my hair since about 1998.  It is always nice to see her, get a good haircut, and to get an update on her and her kids (she was just a kid when we met her).

From there, I went shopping in Monona for a few items that I still need for the trailer but I came back home empty handed.  I guess I'll have to shop Amazon since I'm not finding what I want.

Thursday, July 10.  I had a great conversation with my old friend, Carol, this morning and arranged to go spend a couple of days with her at her home near Lake Michigan next month.  I also had a long talk with my sister-in-law, Rosemary.  It sounds like I might be seeing her at Mom's memorial on Saturday and that would be great.

I spent the afternoon with Dawn today.  Rich had some errands to run and they don't feel comfortable leaving her alone (she is hooked up with IV antibiotics and a drainage tube).  We sat and talked for a long time, then just couldn't sit any longer, so I helped with a couple of gardening projects.  The first project we did together - washing aphids and scale off of a couple of house plants and then I planted a few things in her perennial beds that were still in pots.  There is always something to do in her gardens and I plan to go back again next week to help out some more.

Saturday, July 12.  I was at Tom and Karen's by 9 and at Schluter Park by 9:45 in order to reserve the gazebo for Mom's memorial gathering (first come, first served). Tom and Karen did a wonderful job of putting this all together, including great food, photos, a nice banner, and contacting everyone who might be interested.  A really nice touch was that he passed out marbles to everyone that could be cashed in on a double scoop of Babcock Hall Ice Cream - the BEST ice cream in the area - at the little ice cream shop across the street.  There was a nice turnout of family including Mike's sister, Patty (from Ocala, FL), who I haven't seen in 5 years and Ben and Jill and family came down from Minneapolis, and some close friends.  It was a nice gathering in Mom's memory.  The timing was perfect as it was starting to rain as we packed up and the rain continued all through the night.  In fact, it was too loud to watch a movie in the trailer.

My emotions were in check most of the day, but when I dropped Patty off at Tom's and got hugs, I lost it - a family gathering should have Mom, Mike, and Dan in it.  Things are certainly changing quickly.

Sunday, July 13.  I met up with Ben and his family and we all went to Elmside Park so the kids and Ruby could get some run around time in before their long trek back to Minneapolis.  It was a short but sweet visit and they were on the road by 1:00.  

I didn't get many photos - I was too busy visiting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 1 - 6, 2014 - WI

Tuesday, July 1.  The storms were bad all through the night last night.  Just when I thought they had passed on by, a loud series of thunder rumbled off in the distance.  Conditions are terrible with rivers and creeks flooding all around us.  I haven't had too much trouble sleeping but it's definitely been sporadic.

I went to see my cousin, Fran, today and I was a little concerned when she asked who I was - then I learned that it was because of her vision, and she is still as sharp as can be mentally.  She is now the oldest if my cousins still living and she just turned 89.  We had a very nice visit and then it was time for her to go to lunch and we can't be late for that big event of her day.

Before I went back home, I stopped to vacuum out the dog hair in my car and to get a few groceries to have on hand for breakfast and lunches.  Most evenings, I have dinner with Pat and his family.

Saturday, June 5.  Back on Wednesday, after spending the morning doing house cleaning and laundry, I went to Monona to see Tom and Karen.  Frisco and Tara had a great time chasing around and we had a real nice visit and talked about the plan for next weekends memorial gathering for Mom. We went to Toby's Supper Club for dinner and I just had to have an Old Fashioned to toast to Mike and their delicious Lake Perch was my menu choice.  They have own awards year after year for their Lake Perch.

On Thursday, I helped my cousin, Dawn, with some weeding in her gardens.  She lives only a block from Pat, and she has been very ill and unable to keep up her extensive vegetable and perennial gardens.  While I was weeding, Rich went and filled his truck with a yard of mulch and he put down a thick layer when I finished my job.  That will help to keep the weeds down for a while.

When I got back home, I hauled some of the trimmings from Pat's downed tree to the curb, as I learned that the city is having a brush pickup starting next Monday, due to the large amounts of debris left from this weeks storms.  He has a lot more to cut and haul out, then he has to fix the fence.  What a mess!

This morning, I loaded up a few clothes, my sleeping bag and pillow, a borrowed tent and sleeping pad from Pat, packed a cooler and headed to The Land outside of Richland Center.  Mike and I first went camping there with our friend, Tom, back in 1974 and then for 4th of July weekends for about 28 years after that.  We did not camp out there when were visiting here in the motor home, but tried to at least get out there for a visit.  Today, it is basically the same group of friends that gather and the tradition continues.  Tom made his traditional 4th of July BBQ chicken, baked potatoes, corn, and salad for dinner and Nancy provided a Rhubarb cake for dessert.  Peter, Jim, and Eric put on a very nice display of fireworks and we topped the night off with some good old campfire conversation.  What a nice day! 

This was the first time I have camped in a tent since 2002 and it wasn't the best nights sleep I've had in a while, although the tent was comfy and I stayed warm and dry and I had the soft sound of water trickling over the rocks in the stream - it was just a different place.  I decided against taking my trailer out there because of the recent heavy rains, figuring it would be soggy and wet out there and I also don't want to tear up Pat's yard by coming and going too much.  I was wrong, it would have been just fine at the land. Peter keeps it so well groomed that the thick grass now helps to keep it from getting too muddy.

   Red, White, and Blue Cocktails for the ladies - Jane, Nancy, Linda, and Leslie
     My campsite.
    Early morning view from my tent.

Saturday, July 5.  I packed up and headed back home early this afternoon and had to make several stops along the way to wake myself up and to try to get a call through to Pat and Roger who were camping nearby at Spring Green.  Unfortunately, I had no cell phone signal and was unable to connect with them.  The first thing I did when I got back home was to take a nap.

Sunday, July 6.  We all worked to haul the brush from the trees that fell over Pat's fence last week.  It turned out that he had help cutting it up on Friday but they didn't get it hauled to the curb.  What a mess.

The fair in Stoughton ended today, and it is only a few blocks away, so I got to watch the fireworks from my bed tonight.  It was a nice show!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 30, 2014, WI

I hung out at home until about 1:30, then headed to Portage to see Sharon.  She has been telling me about her remodeling projects and I haven't been able to visualize how it would like.  I got to see for myself today and it looks so nice.  I love the colors that she chose!  It was nice to see her again and we had great conversation over a nice dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.  A margarita was tempting but I passed because there are heavy storms in the area and I would probably be driving through them on the way home.  And the storms were nasty, with tornadoes and high winds, especially in the southwestern part of the state.  I got home and leaned that there is a tree down in Pat's back yard - it was too dark to see when I got home.