Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 26 - 30, 2017, MN

Wednesday, June 28.  I am helping Ben and Jill out this week with drop offs and pickups as Ben is out of town.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 19 - 25, 2017, MN

Wednesday, June 21.  I have been on the phone a lot this week, trying to arrange for doctor and dentist appointments, arranging for my dental x-rays to be sent to MN, reporting a hail damage claim to my RV insurance company, and then getting set up to get some estimates.  Most of the last 2 mornings were spent researching and making calls.  Yet, it seems like I have gotten nothing accomplished.

I've taken some good, long walks with Frisco, trying to get in at least 2 miles a day.  I also did some research trying to find a Silver Sneakers workout class in the area - had some success, but the sessions were starting this week and I will be traveling for 2 weeks during the session.  So, the next best thing, a senior workout on You Tube and I  quit about 15 minutes into it because it was hurting my knee.  I'll have to find a lower impact workout to start with.  I just have to lose a few pounds.

I will be picking the girls up after school this week, starting yesterday.  All went well until they started pushing and shoving each other on the slide in the back yard and Norah got all worked up.  

Saturday, June 24.  After school pickups have gone well - we went to a playground on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday was a rainy day, so straight home to play Legos and do some drawing and story telling.  Their imaginations amaze me. Norah’s story was about a monster that went to the dentist and the dentist broke all of his teeth or a bear coming out of his cave.

I pulled the camper out of storage on Thursday and took it to a couple of RV Collision Repair shops to get estimates on the hail damage.  Both of the guys I spoke with had a feeling that my insurance would total it out because the damage would probably be more costly than replacement.  One said that his shop hasn't repaired one this year - they were all totaled out. They both agreed that the repair would have to be replacement of the aluminum roof panels and completely resealing the side to roof mounts.  It is a wait and see game from here.

Yesterday was my day with Charlotte but Ben took the day off so he could take Norah to the doctor (a follow-up on the effects if their gluten-free diet efforts). I told him that I was planning to take Charlotte to the Minnesota Sculpture Garden and that was exactly what he was thinking of doing with Norah, so we went together. The day turned cloudy and windy and cool and we weren't prepared for it, so after quickly seeing most of the sculptures, we had snacks in the van and then went to a playground that was a bit more sheltered from the wind.  

One of the many sculptures.

We had to shuffle car seats, so Ben took Norah in my car and I took the van that had car seats for Charlotte and Camille for after school pickup. When I stopped at my house to let Frisco out, I was keyless since Ben had my keys, but Elizabeth let us in.  Then, after picking up Camille, I realized I had no key for Ben’s house.  We would just have to wait for hm or Jill to return.  No problem, I had the garage door combination, so the girls entertained themselves by riding bikes. It was only a half hour or so before Ben got back home.


I stopped for a frozen pizza on my way home, ate and was in bed by 8:00 and slept through the entire night.

I went to a few garage sales this morning but am spending the day at home - relaxing, reading, maybe a movie, but not doing much.

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12 - 18, WI, MN

Monday, June 12.  It feels good to be back in my old home town, and walking around the neighborhoods brings back memories. I stopped by Grandma and Grandpa Peckham and Uncle Vic's grave in Riverside Cemetery to pay my respects, as I walked by with Frisco this morning.

Pat and I spent some time doing yard cleanup before it got too hot - he mowed the lawn and I putzed around with the perennials.  Temps are getting up to the 90s and the humidity is climbing steadily too.  

We took a drive out to check out the new Veteran's Memorial on the northwest edge of town. It is beautiful, although not quite finished yet.  I was able to find a few Memorial bricks for folks I know, Uncle Vic's name on the wall but couldn't find Mike's or my Dad's.  There ar several of those monuments that haven't been completed yet.

Son #1, at one of his fishing holes near LaFollette Park

The shores of Lake Kegonsa, near LaFollette Park.

Thursday, June 15.  Tuesday was my day to connect with family and friends, starting with breakfast at Sugar and Spice with Jonnie.  I was glad to see that she is doing well and able to do the snowbird plan that she came up with last year.  When I got back to Pat’s, he was heading to Madison to do some shopping, so I went along just to be with him - didn't spend a dime.

Once a month, several of my classmates meet up at Culver’s and I just happened to be in town, so headed over there.  Ten of us sat around gabbing for the next 2 hours.  I was going to the VFW to meet up with another classmate, Doug, aka Ole for a beer, so Judy and Virginia went along.  Good times.

I walked with my Stoughton walking buddy, Dawn, yesterday morning and got the updates on all of the cousins on that branch of the family tree.  She is having a big family  picnic on July 8 and I'm hoping it all works out so I can be there - that is the plan right now.  When I got back from my walk, Pat was getting ready to go fishing so I joined Tracey and Donna for some book and thrift store shopping and again, I came home empty handed.

Pat made tuna melts for dinner and then we watched “The Revenant” with 

Leonardo DiCaprio - a great movie about Hugh Glass, a fur trapper who was left for dead after being attacked by a bear. I had read a book about it years ago and saw the movie that was done back in the 70s, so I knew the story and the movie depicted it really well.

I was back on the road again this morning, heading home to Minneapolis, but I just had to stop for some Spotted Cow beer to take back with me before I got out of Wisconsin.  As I got past Wisconsin Dells, I started looking for “that tree”, a landmark that I used to watch for back in the 70s when we were spending a lot of time at Mom and Dad’s cabin. The majestic White Pine still stands although it is starting to look a bit shabby and sparse.  I stopped in Sparta to stretch and let Frisco run around a bit.

The news has been full of news about storms the last few days and I saw that Inver Grove, the town where I am storing my camper, was hit on Sunday with some very large hail, so I stopped to check out the camper.  Sure enough, it has lots of dents, especially on the back when the roof is rounded.  Dang it!  I will check with my insurance to see if it will be covered.  Dang it!

Saturday, June 17.  Today was an R and R day for me, recovering from my 2-week vacation, and getting back into my routine at home.  Frisco and I took a long walk this morning, I went to a few garage sales, pulled a few weeds in the yard and cleaned up the sticks that had fallen from recent storms, and sat on the patio chatting with Elizabeth over a glass of tea.  It was a perfect summer day, mid 80s, mostly sunny, a light breeze and no mosquitos, although I am hearing they are out in force in the area.

I spent the day with Charlotte yesterday and we had a great time.  When I asked her how she wanted to spend the day, this was on her list - go swimming, have lunch at Milio’s, stop at my apartment and do some drawing and go for a hike.  We accomplished most of the items but did Legos at my house instead of drawing.  We went to Bush Lake Beach in Bloomington and the water was clean and pleasant - a little cold when you first got in.  We had lots of fun and mostly she wanted to jump off the platforms. There are bathrooms, showers, lifeguards, and a beautiful sandy beach.

  Norah and Camille got to ride to school in the bike trailer.

Ben fixed grilled chicken and potatoes for dinner and they kids loved it - so did I.  

Unfortunately, Jill got word that her Aunt Jan in Austin, TX passed away yesterday from complications of COPD.  Her 6 siblings were all able to be with her during her final days.  Jan had been on a list for a lung transplant for several years but her condition got worse and there were no organs for her.  It is a sad, sad, story.

Sunday, June 18.  Happy Father’s Day and a day for reflecting on the Dad's that I have known in my life - some good, some not so good.  Unfortunately, my memories of my own Dad are in the not so category, but when I think about the person that I became, and the fact that I could be like him in ways, then there must have been some good too.  His alcoholism caused so many problems for our family but I always liked him when he was sober.  My father-in-law fit in the good category - a loving, caring provider who was dedicated to his family.  And then there is Mike - who stood by me through thick and thin and was a very involved Dad to Pat and Ben, both of them turned out to be good guys and good fathers.

I loaded up the ladder and headed out to check on the camper today and found that the hail damage is much worse that I could see before. There are places where the paint actually chipped off and the roof is pummeled with dents.  I feel just sick about it.

I also drove by the senior apartments where I have my name on waiting lists - to see if I would have a preference on where I’d like to live and I think Penelope is the one.  They are equal distance from Ben’s house but one complex is 2 buildings with apartments only and has a huge parking lot.  The other is in an area of large apartment complexes and has a small parking lot.  I guess I will have to make appointments for another tour. I want to be prepared to make a quick decision when something opens up for me.

   Ridgeview Terrace

   Penelope I and II

Ben called to see if I wanted to meet them at Red Cow for a burger this afternoon. They rode their bikes and after dinner, I met them at their house for dessert - blonde brownies and ice cream.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 5 - 11, 2017, TN, IN, IL, WI

June Monday, June 5.  Our day started with breakfast on the patio of the Guest House, overlooking the pool.  The weather is warm and humid, just as I expected for this area.  The hotel is very nice, modern, and reflects some of Elvis' favorite things - like hot pink splattered here and there, a flavor of the 70s in some of the decor, wall lights that look like they belong on a space ship - but all very tasteful.  The service around here is a bit lacking though - little things, like the trash cans and ashtrays not emptied from the night before.  I know, I'm a bit anal about these things.

Elvis liked high-back chairs. This one is in the hotel lobby.

A shuttle took us to Graceland and we were guided to the entrance, given iPads and headphones, and we started the tour of the mansion. I don't remember much from our trip here about 25 years ago but I don't believe that much has changed in the house or grounds and it's gives a good feel for what life was like for the very rich folks of that time, although this house seems pretty modest to me.  There are TVs and mirrors everywhere, lots of blue - drapes, carpets, furnishings, and there is shag carpet on some of the ceilings and walls.  I do remember when that was a thing.

   The TCB lightening bolt. This is 70's for sure!  

A new addition to the complex was a horseshoe shaped building that houses many different museums (fortunately for Elvis lovers, his father, Vernon, never threw a thing away) from cars to motorcycles to show outfits, to personal archives with receipts, books, jewelry, glasses, etc.  We had a bite to eat at Gladys' Diner and then headed back to the hotel by shuttle.

We tossed around going to Beale Street (possible rain and storms) or to Tunica to try our luck at the casinos and the Tunica casinos won.  After playing for an hour or so and not winning, we left again. Memphis BBQ was definitely on the agenda for tonight's dinner and my research told me that Interstate BBQ was the place to go and we were glad that we did.  Nothing fancy, but the food was sure tasty. The beans were yummy, almost sweet enough to be dessert.

Back at the Guest House, we sat at the bar, had a (very pricey) drink and listened to some live music before turning in for the night

Tuesday, June 6.  Before leaving Memphis this morning, we stopped to wash the crud from the dirt road in Dyess, AR off the car, but the $6 donation we made at the car wash didn't remove it.dang, it looks worse now that it did before.  Maybe the downpours that we drove through today got rid of it - not sure, since it was raining when we arrived at our hotel.  I also stopped and got the oil changed since the "maintenance required" light came on.

The drive to Nashville was pretty and uneventful and we pulled into our hotel around 2:30. After resting for a short while, we hopped on the shuttle that took us downtown and dropped us off, just a short walk from the Ryman Auditorium where we would be seeing the "Stars for Second Harvest" show.  We had some time, so we stopped at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and had local beer and got to hear some good music.  Then it was off to Lula's Cafe for a bite to eat before the show.

A young singer, songwriter from Minneapolis sat next to us and gave us the lowdown on tonight's show.  His name is Jake Scherer and I will have to watch for his name to come up on future hits.We were both glad that we chose this show that was emceed by Craig Wiseman, the 2015 Songwriter of the year, a colorful character who was quite entertaining.  We saw the Warren Brothers, who are coming up in today's country field, some new guy whose music I didn't like at all, John Rich of Big and Rich, and then the big guy, Blake Shelton came out and did a few songs.  They auctioned off a few items that brought the total for the fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank to $39,000 - and that called for a huge Yee Haw.  

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of today's country music and this show reinforced that.  I am a fan of good guitar players and I heard a lot of that.  I agree with Dale Watson that it just ain't country - it sounds way too pop, rap, hip-hop, and everything else, but not country.

It was 11:00 by the time we got back to the hotel and we didn't even go to any of the other bars.  Crash.

Wednesday, June 7.  Last night, we learned that there are 2 huge events in town this week - the Stanley Cup Hockey Game and the CMA fest, formerly called Fanfare, also starting on Thursday, so we want to avoid downtown on Thursday. And that means that we will miss the CM Hall of Fame Museum.

We had tickets for the General Jackson Riverboat Cruise today and the weather was perfect for it.  The boat is beautiful, the lunch was a very fresh and tasty buffet before the show started.  The show was representative of Tennessee's music history and the entertainers were all top notch.  After the show, the musicians headed out on the back deck and played an acoustic show.  I'm so glad that we decided to take the cruise, it was very enjoyable.

After that, we went to see the Opryland Hotel - where room start in the $300 range. I got the feeling that I was in Las Vegas.  Everything we saw when looking for show tickets at The Grand Ole Opry showed no Wednesday or Thursday shows but while talking to some people on the cruise, we learned there actually is a Thursday night show. So we went to the ticket office but the only seats available were standing room only. No thanks.  

Knowing that tomorrow is going to be crazy downtown, we hopped on the shuttle and went. A local favorite restaurant, Pucket's Grocery had a 1.5 hour wait to be seated so we wandered on and stopped at a place called Tazzo and had a yummy Apple Chicken salad before heading down to Broadway.  We stopped at a couple of bars and listened the music, then at Alan Jackson Keep it Country bar and had a drink.  Neither of us are too fond of big crowds, so that was enough for tonight - we took the shuttle back to the hotel.

Saturday, June 10.  Thursday seems a long time ago to reconstruct the events.  Oh, I know.  We toured the Belle Meade Plantation, home to a family of thoroughbred horse breeders.  The bloodlines established at Belle Meade through one horse, Bonnie Scotland and other famous stud horses continues a legacy of speed and endurance that still dominates the Thoroughbred racing scene today.

The grounds and buildings were beautiful - formerly 5,800 acres and down to just 38 acres today - including a winery where we got to have a few samples. There were many other beautiful mansions and stately homes in the neighborhood surrounding the plantation.

From there, we drove to Franklin, a nice sampling of a historic Tennessee town, complete with quaint shops and boutiques - oh, and yummy ice cream too.  Some gals that we met on the shuttle said that we had to go to Leipers Fork, a small community of local artists.  It was there, in a little gallery that I couldn't resist the purchase of another hand blown glass ball to add to my collection.

Friday morning after checking out of our hotel, we took about a 3 hour drive to Bruce and Carmen's (some Highlands and Brentwood friends) little cabin in the woods at Birdseye, IN.  What a great spot and it was so nice to see them again.  We talked and talked, Bruce played guitar and we sang a bunch of oldies, and we had a great dinner. Then they took us for a drive to see Patoka Lake, a huge Corps of Engineers reservoir and state park just a short distance from their cabin. And then it was off to sleep in their cozy little loft.

Today was driving, driving, and more driving - about 8 hours back to Portage to drop Sharon off and then to Montello to see my little dog at Pat and Rogers.  He had a good week out here with the deer, turkey, bunnies and squirrels.  It's been a great vacation and now, tomorrow, I get to see Pat. I am ready to feel his hugs again and to just hang  up and be together back in my old home town for a few days.

Sunday, June 11.  I was up and showered, had coffee and walked Frisco and on the road again by 9:00, headed for Pat's house in Stoughton. Dang, it felt good to hug him and Tracey - it feels like home here.  Since Savana moved out, I now have my own bedroom and that is so nice too. 

Kitty likes my suitcase.

Coming in to Stoughton, I drove by our old house and noticed that there are about 5 lots for sale along the road - the Johnson family must be selling off their farm land.  It brings back memories and I have always loved that drive along Starr School Road where the the trees are canopied above you.  After turning toward town, I saw the many changes since the new Walmart has gone in at the intersection of US 51 and Hwy 138, even a roundabout.  It sure looks different.

We sat and talked, talked, and talked some more and I toured the yard to check out all of the flowers and veggie garden (the rabbits have eaten quite a bit already).  I always enjoy this, since many of the perennials came from my yard or I've helped to plant them - like old friends.  It's all looking good, although you lose some and keep some through the years.  Pat and I went to the grocery store and that is new too - under new ownership and remodeled.  Stoughton sure is changing - I'll see more of it in the next few days, as I plan to visit a few other friends and family.  

Frisco and the cat, Kowroo are getting along just fine.

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 1 - 4, 2017, MN, WI, IL, MO, AR, TN

OSunday, June 4.  My road trip started on Thursday when I drove to Montello to Pat and Roger's Shady Rest, an adorable log house nestled in the woods. They have done a lot of cleanup since I last saw it, mostly of trees and branches outside. After taking the dogs for a walk, we sat on the porch and enjoyed the day and being together.  We had a great fire in the fire pit, Old Fashions, and lots of talk and laughter.

On Friday, we went into town and did some browsing around - there is not much to offer but the Granite Falls, right in the middle of town are beautiful.  Later on in the afternoon, Jim and Sue showed up and we visited and then headed for the Rivers Bend restaurant where I got to have Walleye for dinner and it was yummy.

After dinner, I headed to Sharon's in Portage and we will be leaving in the morning for our road trip to Memphis, Nashville, and Bruce and Carmen's cabin in Indiana.  Sharon was at her son, Chad's house so I met her there and got to see him and Becky, 

Cody, and Brianna - nice to catch up with them again.

Some heavy storms came in overnight and while we were enjoying our coffee on Saturday morning, the power went out and we were unable to get Sharon's car out of the garage. After waiting for an hour, we decided to take off in my car.  Abut 20 minutes out of Portage, her neighbor called to say the power was back on but we kept right on going and drove as far as Festus, MO a bit south of St. Louis.

Today, we only had about 4 hours to go and about 30 miles into Arkansas, we saw a sign for Johnny Cash's boyhood home and took the next exit.  We got into Dyess but the museum was closed and the house is not right at the museum, so we drove around until we saw a couple out in their yard and we asked for directions to the house.  Back on track, a long, narrow gravel road led us right to it.  A nice looking place in the middle of nowhere - I'm sure it has been cleaned up a lot since he lived there.

We only had a few miles to go and the rain was pouring down, when my windshield wiper (brand new before I left Mesa) broke.  The clamp that holds it down kept popping up and before long, it popped right off.  I had even stopped to check it and it felt tight, so I headed on.  A very nice man at the gas station helped me out and we switched the one from the passenger side to the driver's side and I wrapped some paper towel around the exposed bracket so it wouldn't scratch the windshield.  While I was doing that, I heard a guy say, "you must be a country gal to be tying that up with fishing line" and I told him that I used dental floss and we got a good chuckle.  He offered to go down the road to an auto store to get me a wiper, but I wanted to have it replaced under warranty, so I drove with the arm standing up, with a big old bandage on it. Sharon and I just cracked up laughing at the sight of it.  Thanks to the GPS, I found an O'Reilly's in West Memphis and they replaced it for free.

So then, as we were heading to Graceland, we went right past Sun Studios, turned around, parked and went on the tour. I had been there before but it was still an entertaining and great tour - the place where Rock and Roll started and is still going strong today.

After settling in at the Guest House at Graceland and our very nice room, we headed down to the restaurant for a bite to eat, a beer, and listened to some good music in the lobby. Quite a day!