Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 21 - 27, WI, IA, MN

The Monday, September 21.  Pat was off work today and it is the last full day that we could hang out before I leave on Friday.  After a quick errand to Madison, we settled in and did things around the house.  He harvested the last of the green peppers and we mixed up a batch of stuffed peppers for dinner.  They turned out to be yummy, although the recipe called for more meat than most and it was kind of like a meat loaf surrounded by pepper and topped with tomato sauce.  For dessert, we had the pear crisp that I made yesterday and that is decadently sweet but sooooooo delicious.

I took Frisco to the vet this morning and they can't find anything definitive.  They took X-ray's and learned that his heart is slightly enlarged but nothing serious.  After a closer look, his spine has evidence of bridging spondylosis which is common as dogs age - the bone along the spine expands or grows Spurs that can break off and cause pain.  It is in his chest area and also the lumbar region.  She also ran a test for Lyme disease which can cause muscle aches and low energy but that came back negative.  I am waiting for blood test results and will start him on an anti-inflammatory for a couple of weeks.  All that and I am $300 poorer, but he's my little buddy and he is worth every penny.

We watched the second episode of Narcos, a Netflix series about Pablo Escavar and the Columbian drug traffickers - it's pretty graphic and violent - amazing the amount of $$$$ those guys pulled in.

Wednesday, September 23.  I have walked 4 miles the last 2 mornings, yesterday around Stoughton with Dawn and this morning at Token Creek County Park with Jim.  The trail was wet with dew this morning and our shoes were soaked within the first 20 steps.  The damage was done so we just stayed on the trails anyway.  When we got back, we visited with Pete for a while before I had to get back to Stoughton.  I quickly changed my clothes, put some makeup on and headed to Culvers to meet with Judy and Jerri - classmates from SHS.  We had a nice visit.

My walking partner, Dawn, on the bridge over the Yahara River.

I love this old boat house that is framed by the river and the beautiful Weeping Willow Trees.

Yesterday, I ran some errands in Madison and then met Jim, Jim and June in Monona.  The 2 Jims and Mike were childhood friends and all joined the Navy together back in 1964.  To me, it is important to keep in touch with those guys and we had a nice chat.

JD, Me, and Jim

After I went to bed last night, my phone rang and it was Rene, so I picked it up.  She had just learned that Ray's killer was arrested and charged with 2 murders - he was released for lack of evidence on the 10th and killed a 41 year old woman the next day.  What a f€*#ing sleaze-bag.  I really don't want to learn the details.  Poor Ray didn't deserve to die that way.

Friday, September 25.  I finally heard from my brother Russ this afternoon - he is also in pretty dire straits in Cedar Rapids, basically in survival mode.  He is safe, does have a place to stay (doesn't hang out on the streets of downtown CR like Ray did) and has access to a phone now and then.  I made arrangements to meet him this afternoon but we will see.  After his call, Pat and I headed straight to St. Vinnies to get him some clothes and then Pat bought a bunch a of toilet articles for him.

We all went out to the local Mexican restaurant for dinner last night, hung out until bedtime and then said our goodbyes.  I was awake at 5 am this morning so I got in another hug from both Pat and Tracey.  I never did get back to sleep, so I took my shower and left Stoughton by 7:30 with a stop in McFarland to empty my tanks.   It was an easy drive to Cedar Rapids, with lots of stops along the way.  It is evident that fall is approaching quickly but there isn't a lot of color on the hillsides yet.  Perhaps in a week when I start the trek back to Arizona.

Saturday, September 26.  I've been dreading this day, but also am ready to be past it.  Julie, Rene, and I got together this morning and put photos of Ray's life on a board for the funeral home.  While we were doing that, Randy checked Russ into a room at a nearby hotel so he could have a night of comfort by himself.  I then had to run back to Amana where the trailer is parked, so I could get ready and let Frisco out again.

We all met at Cedar Memorial Chapel to remember Ray and say our final goodbyes.  The room was full of family and friends and a few people got up to share their memories and stories.  The takeaway from each one was his smile and how he loved to make others smile; either by doing something nice for them or by doing something silly.  After the service, we congregated in that same room and talked with the many people there - his birth siblings, his foster sister, Joanie, his ex-wife Lisa and their 2 children Anthony and Lindsay and their families, his girlfriend, Rose,  of 25 years and her family, and many friends from his work years and some from the streets.  The stories were all the same - a loyal friend who loved to see people smile.

Ray's life started hurdling when he could not be longer control his drinking.  His relationship fell apart, he couldn't hold a job, and then, two years ago, he ended up on the streets.  Joanie helped him get into treatment programs a couple of times and he cleaned up for short periods but the curse took over again.  Lately, he had been living on the streets of downtown Cedar Rapids and we talked to people from stores that he frequented (for beer or a bite of food), from street friends, from shelter workers, and from food pantries.  He was a well liked guy.  We were invited to a shop that he frequented where a local artist drew a picture of him and folks that knew him wrote their sentiments on the borders.

He was a well liked guy and it is so, so sad that he drifted down that hole of alcoholism and ended up in the hands of a stinking murderer.  Rest in Peace, little brother.  Your spirit is with those who have passed before you - Mom, Dad, Rocco, Tony and Virgene, Kristi.

Sunday, September 27.  After a nice breakfast with Bob and Penny at the Ronneburg House in Amana, I headed north to Minneapolis.  
The drive was only about 4.5 hours but it seemed much longer than that and I saw miles and miles of cornfields along the way.  There still isn't a lot of color in the trees but a few reds and yellows were spotted.

I was welcomed back to Bens by the two little ones watching and jumping in the window.  Camille ran and gave me a big hug but Norah was a little reserved at first.  Charlotte was all smiles when she came back downstairs, saying that she could hear my voice.

We stood out in the alley with the neighbor's watching for the blood moon during the eclipse.  Pretty fascinating stuff - never did see the bright red that some did.

I'm not sure if this link will work - it could be copied and pasted.  It is about my brother, Ray.