Sunday, December 29, 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019, MN

Leading up to Christmas, I finished shopping, mostly for ingredients for last minute gifts and baking/food treats for Christmas.  The weather here has been in the mid 30s as far up to upper 40s and is forecast to be mild through the holidays.

At Ben and Jill’s house Christmas Eve, we had enchiladas for dinner and then we played the Right/Left Night Before Christmas pass the gift game. The girls were very focused on the story and the gift (Rubik’s Cube) ended up in the hands of Lois. We then proceeded to have our family gift exchange - more like a present frenzy with the kids. Norah and Camille got Amazon Fire notebooks and Charlotte’s biggy was a Fitbit. They also got clothes, books, and games. I got the gift that I always look forward to - a photo book of the girls and a nice, framed photo of Ben and the girls.

Charlotte shared her room and bed with me, as Granny and Papa were in the guest room. I woke up Christmas morning with her arm around me and a “Merry Christmas Grandma Rose”, followed by a discussion of how Santa might be able to bring toys under adverse conditions. Like no snow, no chimney, how can he deliver to ALL children in the world on one night. We came up with endless possibilities. Norah and Camille slept in and finally, Charlotte couldn’t wait any longer, so she went to their rooms and announced that the stockings were full and there were lot of presents under the tree. Those gifts were all toys and most of them had lots of small components - Legos, play sets with accessories.

Ben made omelets for breakfast and we hung out and played with all of the new toys. The girls were so busy that us adults even had opportunities for great conversation.  Lois and Dennis contributed the main course for dinner - beef tenderloin steaks, I made Garlic Rosemary Baked Potatoes, and we had green beans for a side dish. Dessert was my Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce. I wasn’t sure how the Gluten Free version would turn out but it tasted the same as the wheat flour version but the texture was a bit grainy. I would say it was a big success.

After dinner, the grandparents packed up and headed home.  We managed to get a few group photos before heading out.

This morning, I had to go to my CVS orientation at their regional office in Mendota Heights.  During the early morning hours we had freezing rain and the roads were treacherous. When I walked .frisco, I got to the sidewalk and couldn’t walk without slipping - everything was coated with ice. I went back to the apartment and got my Yaktrax (a gift that I gave to Ben and Jill and myself), put them on my shoes, and was able to walk. What a great investment!

I headed out, thinking that the roads would be salted and it was very slow going and I saw cars in the ditch just a short distance from home. I continued, taking it slow and easy. I got to the Mendota Bridge and the entire bridge was filled with cars at a standstill. I waited about 15 minutes and then took a nearby exit to attempt another route, heading east along the Mississippi River, then crossing and going south on Hwy 13. As I approached Mendota, there were many cars crashed and spun out at the base of a small hill. I was able to get through with my car in 4WD and the lowest gear, crawling at about 5 mph. When I got to the next small hill, the same was true with cars that attempted to go up the hill only this time, there were many cars involved.  Again, I was able to inch my way to a road that would get me to where I was going.  At one point, I sat there contemplated what my next step was and I watched a woman in a Honda come slipping down the hill (too fast, I’m sure) and her car slid, spun, and smacked right into another car.

The orientation went well and I got my training schedule. Lots of computer modules and some on the job training sessions - a total of 240 hours of training to be completed over the next 90 days. Hmmmm! Am I up to this? I’m going to give it my best and see. It seems like a very good company that values their employees, gives recognition (money and gift cards) for great customer service, and certainly makes an investment in training their staff.  Again, I heard good things about the store that I will work at and my manager, Peter.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday, December 19, 2019, MN

My preparation for Christmas is almost done, although I had packages arrive yesterday and another that is due to arrive on Monday. I finished sending cards and got the annual gift of family calendars sent out by snail mail and email today. I still have a few things to get at the grocery store and the last of the packages to wrap.

The Communities at River Crossing had a holiday happy hour on Wednesday evening with some snacks and wine and a complimentary caricature drawing. The artist was a former sketch artist in court and has been doing caricatures for years.  Since I had never been drawn before, I got in line and this is what he did.  I think the resemblance is pretty close.  I also had a nice chat with a couple of ladies who live at Graham Place.

Yesterday morning, the girls had their Holiday Concert at school and it was so nice to be able to be here for that. The kindergarteners performed first with several short songs and they were followed by the 2nd graders, who were a bit more experienced with stronger voices and they did some acting too. Of course, I had tears in my eyes with a great feeling of pride.

I decided to stop at Brueger’s for a bagel and as I got out of my car and was heading to the door, I heard Lois call my name and she and Dennis decided to do the same thing. As we were sitting there eating, Ben walked in to grab a bagel and take it home, so we chatted a bit. And then just as we were packing up to leave, Jill came in so we chatted with her for a while. What a strange coincidence that we were all thinking of the same thing and of the same place.

When I left there, I stopped at my new place of employment as my boss said that he would reimburse me for the $50 fee that I paid to register with the Board of Pharmacy and I also picked up my uniforms. It’s official now. I have my orientation on the 28th, training on the 4th, and my first shift is on the 5th. I’m looking forward to learning something new and having some contact with the public.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019, MN

Well, we survived our 4-day weekend with the grandkids and we all felt a little bit tired yesterday and the girls were starting to get a bit short with each other. Lois was up early taking Charlotte and her friend Riley to a birthday party in Plymouth. And Norah had a play date at Marina’s house, so I dropped her off and picked her up.  

I made a pot of stew for dinner and Dennis helped me chop up the ingredients. It turns out that I really didn’t know how to operate an Instant Pot, as I discovered I didn’t have it in slow cook mode after about 5 hours.  So, on to Plan B - I pressure cooked it for a half hour and then kept in warming for the last hour and it turned out just fine and tasty enough that the girls even ate it.

We did some crafts in the afternoon and the girls each took long baths and played with Barbie dolls in the tub.  They also put on a play and and a puppet show for us.  

Camille is dressed and ready for the play.

Norah came home wearing Marina’s Anna dress.

After dinner and cleanup, I headed back home, as Ben and Jill were going to be involved with the girls and we would have time to visit anyway. It felt good to get back home and after unpacking, I spent an hour talking on the phone with Tom. We sure don’t have a problem finding things to talk about and it always feels good to chat with him.

I slept in this morning, enjoyed my coffee and reading the news, and took a leisurely long shower.  After wrapping Christmas gifts and finishing packing Pat and Tom’s gifts for mailing, I headed to the post office. Google told me the nearest Post Office was a mile away in Mendota, directly across the Mississippi River from me, as the crow flies. I think it is the smallest post office I have been in - only one employee and about 8 parking spots in front of the building that is shared with an attorney’s office.

When I got back home, I worked on finishing the 3 elf hats that I have been crocheting for the girls. I only had the tail of one to finish and to make the pompous. They are ready to go and I will deliver them tomorrow so they can wear them a few times before Christmas vacation.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 209, MN

After getting the kids off to school on the bus, Lois and I decided to go check out an estate sale in St Paul. We stopped by my apartment so I could search for an Amazon box that was delivered on Wednesday (I didn’t find it before I left) and so she could see my apartment. I picked up some library books that were due and then we headed to the sale. The house was a Tudor style home built in 1927 that had thick plaster walls, huge wooden beams, and rustic heavy wood doors. The house had been sold and the owners were getting rid of the last of their items. I only bought a book but saw several things that I liked, although the prices were much higher than most estate sales.

Friday night is movie night, so it was low key and relaxing. I went to bed right after the kids were tucked in.

Today has been a whirlwind, although we did get to sleep in a bit and didn’t have to be moving until 10:30. We packed lunches and snacks and hats, gloves, and snow pants for ski class and headed out for Camille and Norah’s gymnastics class. After that, they got into their ski clothes, ate their lunches as we headed for the Hyland Hills Ski Resort.  It was difficult to pick out our girls amongst all of the others on the slopes, but we did manage to spot them now and then. I am impressed with their sense of balance and none of them are afraid.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019, MN

Well, now I have almost 2 weeks of catching up to do. Where have I been and what have I done?

The big news is that I have landed a job!  Several weeks ago, while at the local CVS, I noticed a sign that they were hiring pharmacy technicians. I applied and immediately got calls from 2 stores in nearby towns, but I really am only interested in the one store that is about a mile from my home and is in a tiny little Target store, so not a huge pharmacy and it has no drive-up window - small and close to home. So...I was picking up a prescription last week and saw the sign still up. So I asked the technician if they were still looking for help. She spoke with the pharmacist and he came out to talk with me, asked if I had time for a brief interview, pulled up my application and resume and I was hired on the spot. I felt good knowing that this little old lady could still pull off an interview and still had what it takes to land a job. I was hired to work up to 20 hours a week with a weekend day every two weeks. The little store is closed on all holidays.

Last week was spent registering with the State Board of Pharmacy, getting my high school transcript, providing a sample for a drug screen, having the background check done, and ordering uniforms.  My orientation is scheduled for December 28 and that will be followed by the pharmacy technician certification and on the job training. I’m kind of looking forward to the interaction with customers and learning something new, and of course, the paychecks will help replenish my savings account.

I’ve also been trying to get organized for Christmas, doing some store shopping, some online shopping and working on some elf hats for the girls. 

This week, Wednesday through Sunday, I am doing the Granny Nanny thing with Jill’s parents at their home while they are in San Francisco for Ben’s annual Christmas Party and to connect with friends. I hope they have some time to relax and just hanging out with adults will be so nice for them.

Last night, we had dinner ready for the girls when they got home and than I took Charlotte to her gymnastics class. It’s a whirlwind around here in the morning - they have their checklists for making sure they do all of their steps in getting ready for school and then Dennis scurried them out the door to the bus stop - it was almost 20 minutes late.

I had my first shoveling, cleaning snow off my car, and driving in the snow experience in 17 years and it wasn’t bad. My Arizona RAV4 handled it just fine and got me where I was going safely today.

It was another after school scurry, and when the girls got home from school, we had Lois’ homemade chicken noodle soup and salad for dinner, then headed out to the YMCA for some free swim followed by swim classes.  They are all doing so well - improving their skills and just love the water.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Saturday, November 30, 2019, MO, MN

I had conversations with both of my sons on Thanksgiving morning and then celebrated the holiday with my siblings and their families at Amber and Joel’s home in Lee’s Summit. The kids are growing up so much and I got to meet little Oliver, the son of Ashley and Chase for the first time - he is going to be 2 in February.  Amber and Joel’s home is beautiful and it was all decorated for Christmas. I didn’t get photos, so I’m hoping that others send me theirs.

 Oliver, Brittany (background), Lincoln, Rita, Barley, Olivia, Stella

Ashley and Oliver

Rene gave her usual Thanksgiving blessing and and dinner was served. Everything was so tasty and everyone made a contribution.

I had planned to head to Springfield to see Randy and Julie and their families, but I learned that most of their kids were gone for the holiday and Julie had a weekend commitment, so the plan was changed and Randy decided to come and visit us on Friday. We had a quiet, relaxing evening watching Dolly Parton’s 50th Anniversary at the Grand Ole Opry.

My sweet sis, Rita and I watching Dolly

I went to Bob’s and hung out with him and Randy on Friday morning and then later in the afternoon, we all went to Stella and Josh’s house to hang out for a bit and to see their home - she had most of her decorations up, all but the Christmas Tree that they had just gotten that morning. And then we topped off the day with dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

Randy and I

Stella, Rita, Penny, and I

Josh, Barley, and Randy

Because Randy came for a visit on Friday and the weather forecast for MN (a wintry mix for late afternoon and snow on Sunday), I decided to head back home on Saturday. That was a wise decision as I traveled through a light, misty rain and dense clouds the entire drive. North of Des Moines, I hit heavier rain and high winds. The farther north I drove, the more snow there was in the fields. Just south of the cities, the rain became more icy but the roads were still clear and then when I turned off on my exit, it was snow and the roads were covered from Tuesday and Wednesday’s snowfall. I patted myself on the back for timing the drive perfectly.

My last gas stop at Clear Lake, IA

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019, MO

Since my last post, I started preparing for my trip to Kansas City to celebrate Thanksgiving with my siblings and their families.  

Ben invited me to join them for dinner Sunday night, so after doing my chores and Ben doing his, I headed over there in the afternoon. I helped Charlotte make some doll clothes and then we had an enjoyable taco dinner. After dinner, the girls put on a performance of their gymnastics skills. They get more and more coordinated and skilled as they practice.

After seeing the weather forecast for the route that I would take to KC, I decided to leave on Monday morning instead of Tuesday. I was on the road by 8am and arrived at Rita’s at 3:20. The trip was uneventful except for a crash in I-80 going through Des Moines, I avoided the backup by getting off the freeway and taking some city streets to get past the backup. It was cloudy all through Minnesota and Iowa, but sunny and warmed to 62 in Missouri.

It felt good to get to Rita’s and get settled in. We had a nice dinner, a few beers, and lots of talking through the evening.

Yesterday was busy - I went and had coffee with Bob, then he took me to see the lake house on Lake Lotawana that his daughters bought last summer and then we had a brief visit with his mother-in-law, Norma. And then we met Amber and Lincoln at Jack Stacks for lunch and then Bob and I were both ready for a nap or just to relax. I had to get back to Rita’s to let Frisco out. In the evening, we went to Aaron’s so I could see his new house, then he and Olivia joined us for dinner at Applebee’s. I certainly didn’t need any more food but had a light option.

Aaron dropped Olivia off at Rita’s this morning and she spent most of her time with Frisco, playing with toys, brushing and walking him. She is a true dog lover.

We hung out and took it easy today. I went for a nice walk through the neighborhood and got to enjoy some sunshine for a bit.  

Bob joined us this evening for pizza and we watched the movie “Peanut Butter Falcon”. A nice evening!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019, MN

It’s been a warmer but  cloudy week and I’ve been able to get some good walks in.  In addition to the outdoor walks, I’ve been doing the aerobic fitness walks from videos, so I am getting my 2-3 miles of walking in each day.

I took a ride to Costco in Eagan on Tuesday and switched phone plans from Credo Mobile to T-Mobile. They have a plan for seniors that costs $55/month with an unlimited talk, text, and data plan, and if you sign up for auto pay, you get another $5/month discount. There were no additional fees,no contract, and by purchasing at Costco, I get a $125 Costco gift card. So...I think I did well by making $125 and by saving about $24 a month on my cell phone.

And today I went to the hair salon at Graham Place (the 62+ building across the street). I met Lynn and her dog Penny, a sweet and pretty Doberman, and Peggy (the nail technician) there and several other residents who just stopped by to chat - it is quite the social place.  Lynn invited me to Happy Hour tomorrow so I can meet a few people. And I feel like I got a good haircut! Life is good!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019, MN

I had plans to babysit for the girls on Saturday night, so I spent some time getting prepared for them to do a felt craft - making woodland animal Christmas ornaments. I cut out all of the pieces, so they could add the faces and ribbons, and glue them all together. I already had a good supply of felt on hand, but of course, not all of the colors needed.  That led to a trip to Hobby Lobby one afternoon.

Our weather turned a little warmer with some light snow on the ground this morning and peaking out at almost 50 degrees yesterday. That made for some decent walks and reducing the number of layers for a few days - quite welcome! 

My apartment building has a complimentary car wash, so I took advantage the other day and gave the RAV4 a much needed bath. The car wash is complete with hot and cold water and a vacuum cleaner. It was nice to be able to wash the salt from the roads off and I’ll be able to do that throughout the winter too.

I had a nice time with the girls last night. We did our craft project and watched a movie s when they were ready for bed, I was too. Charlotte sleep with me and had her nose in a book for quite a while and would have continued if I hadn’t enforced the lights out rule. She is such a sweety, I felt her reach out and touch my back and give me a little kiss before she drifted off.

Our Christmas Ornament Project

Here are the latest school photos - Charlotte, Camille, and Norah

This morning was relaxing and laid back, the adults having coffee and the kids working on an art project. Before I left, Ben and I took a nice walk with Frisco. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, MN

After a little dusting of snow on Sunday evening, an Arctic cold front came through here and it was 18 degrees Monday morning when I walked Frisco. I’m thankful that I bought a nice warm jacket to keep me toasty inside - the only thing that bothered me was my legs. I guess I may have to bring out the inner layer. Frisco wasn’t phased by the cold - he still took his good old time sniffing every little scent out there.

I stayed home and worked on a craft project, an experiment for possible future gifts. That kept me busy and inside, except for a few brief potty breaks with Frisco.  I did manage to walk the halls on all four floors of my building and did four flights of stairs up and down. That turned out to be about half a mile.

I had a phone interview for the Online Shopper job that I applied for at Lund’s and Byerly’s - a grocery store that is only about a mile from me. All went well and I am scheduled for an in-person interview on Thursday.

Yesterday morning, it was only 9 degrees out - it made me think that there should be a way to insulate the part of my glasses that touches my face. Fortunately, there was no wind, but that changed as the day went on and the temps warmed up to above 20 degrees.  I needed to get out and about, so what did I do? I went shopping. 

We got some snow this morning and it was actually pretty nice out there. It made me remember the comforting silence of a snowfall, and it has warmed to around 30 degrees, so it was nice. Fortunately, I didn’t have to be out there driving in it.

I worked on some getting prepared for making some felt woodland animal Christmas ornaments with the girls on Saturday when I have a sleepover with them. I cut out patterns and pieces with the material that I had on hand. Of course, I need to pick up a few things to complete the project. I think they will have fun with it.  

I’ve had the TV on most of the day, kind of listening to the testimonies in the first day the public is allowed to hear the impeachment testimonies. The President is suspected of getting help from the Ukrainian government to find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and he withheld aid to them unless they came through.  From what I saw, there were no breaks and it went on for hours. I felt kind of bad for all involved. That is intense for all involved. This is going to go on for some time.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday, November 10, 2019, M.n

I spent most of the day yesterday working on a sewing project - can’t mention it here or it would give away my Christmas gift secret. I had fun doing it - it’s been long time since I’ve had the space to get out the sewing machine, ironing board, and spread out a pattern.  I started right after my late morning walk with Frisco and it 4:30pm before I was putting stuff away. Good times!

Today was spent preparing for the family to join me for dinner. I had a yearning for Ham and Bean Soup and that really shouldn’t take up that much time but it seems like I was at it all day. For dessert, I made homemade chocolate pudding using one of Martha Stewart’s recipes.  I feel like you just can’t go wrong with her recipes and this one proved to be quite good too. It was a bit of a pain to make since it had to be whisked from the dry ingredients (sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch) through adding 2.5 cups of milk very gradually and then all through the cooking process, bringing to a slow boil, and then  during the 1 minute of thickening. It was worth it though - everyone loved it!

I was a little worried about them all making it home on the snowy, slippery roads but they are pros and had no problems. There wasn’t much but the roads looked pretty slick. And now I am slitting back, drinking the last glass of wine from the bottle. Dinner was a success, it was fun having the family here to join me, and now I’m tired and ready for bed. Life is good.

The little busy bodies - always crafty and creative.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019, MN

It has been quite wintry around here this week. One morning, I walked on snow covered sidewalks, another was a cold and windy 24 degrees.  It does seem like there is much less wind early in the morning when I first walk Frisco (usually around 8am) and again around 8pm in the evening. I have managed to get out and about most days though, with a decent walk a few hours after our first. 

I have applied for a few part-time jobs at the grocery store, Target, the community that I live in, posted house-cleaning signs on the bulletin boards and community web portal.  We shall see. It seems like everywhere you go these days, there are help wanted signs posted. I would much prefer to have a few housecleaning jobs than to work in retail.

I finally dug out my collection of hand blown glass balls and found a way to display them in my living room window.  Check it out. It feels good to be reconnected.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Sunday, November 3, 2019, MN

Here I am writing about another week that has just flown by - not that I am so busy, it’s just that time moves so quickly these days.  

After checking my mail frequently, my CenturyLink modem showed up on Thursday, just before I had to leave to see the grandkid’s Halloween costumes. The service wasn’t scheduled to start until 5pm, so that wasn’t a real big deal.  There was quite a bit of excitement at the house - Granny and Poppa were there and they were trying to get the kids to eat something healthy before layering up for trick or treating - it is only 32 degrees out there.  Once in costume, they met up at a neighbor’s house, then the kids paraded through the nearby alley and then the door to door trick or treating commenced. The Grandparents stayed back and passed out candy at the house. 


When I got back home, I proceeded to get my internet hooked up and all went well with that. It wasn’t long and most of my devices were connected - with a nice, fast speed. I’m good now.

Around 2:15am on Friday morning, I woke to the sound of six gunshots going off - it sounded like it was right nearby and it was. I lay there waiting for the sound of emergency vehicles and just a few minutes later, the police and fire department were there. Just below my apartment, the police had the entry to the building across from me taped off and there were cop cars and police everywhere.  The news the next morning informed me that a man driving a black SUV was shot in the head as he pulled into the parking lot and the car continued to roll all through the lot and came to rest next to one of the patios at Graham Place. The female passenger in the car was shot in the leg and was taken to the hospital. They were not residents of this complex and the police feel that it was not a random shooting. The police knocked on my door later that afternoon to see if I heard or saw anything that could help with the investigation.  Highland Park Shooting

I was supposed to meet a former co-worker for lunch again this week, but she is having some construction projects done at her home and canceled. Maybe next week... 

I went to a couple of estate sales this weekend, bought and exchanged 2 hand-held shower heads (neither of them made enough of a difference), so why change? I also rearranged the living room to try to cut down on the glare of the window on the TV and I think I finally got the cozy feeling that I’ve been wanting.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sunday, October 27, 2019, MN

It was more of the same on Friday and Saturday, when it comes to getting internet. More promises were made by various people at Upstream and Access Media 3 (installers) followed by no shows. I have now spent 3.5 days at my apartment waiting for someone to show up, so I will call on Monday to request a refund if the $75 that I already paid them and I contacted CenturyLink to go with their service - it costs twice as much but will hopefully be more reliable. 

I picked Norah up yesterday afternoon for a sleepover and we had a really nice time. We made some No-bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars, had her favorite cheesy pasta for dinner, she had a shower, played games and read stories, took Frisco for his nightly walk, and turned it early.  This morning, we walked Frisco first thing and then had breakfast, played dominos and then went for a walk through the woods and along the river at Crosby Farm Park. I will post photos if I ever get internet again. 

She wanted to go back home, so that’s what we did. Ben was in the middle of making chili for dinner and Norah went straight up to her room for a nap. Later on when she got up, she had a fever of 103 - didn’t show any signs of being ill before that, so it must have come on quickly or perhaps that is why she wanted to go home right away.

The chili was yummy and we had the oatmeal bars for desert and then I headed back home. It was a good and busy weekend.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Thursday, October 24, 2019, MN

The focus here over the last 2 days was in getting my internet hooked up. When I called to make the original arrangements, it was going to be a wait of 10 days before a technician could get here.  Had the previous tenant in this apartment had internet service, it could have been set up remotely but since she didn’t, a technician was necessary and the cost was $45 more than a remote install.  

An appointment was scheduled for the 9am to 1pm window.  When nobody showed up by 1pm, I called to check and learned that I was on the schedule, they were a little late.  By 6pm, I was convinced of a no-show, called and a follow-up was underway. A technical called a while later and assured me that someone would be here in the morning.  

This morning, a technician called around 9:30 to say he would be here by 11. That was a good thing, since I had an appointment at Costco for new tires at 2pm. Eleven came and no-show, 12:00 came and no-show, and 1:00 came and no-show. This sucks!  I got through to the call center and expressed my disappointment and asked for supervisor intervention and told them they have one more opportunity - 3 strikes, they are out. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

My Costco tire install went well and their customer service more than made up for my earlier experience with Upstream internet.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, MN

A week and a half is a long break from updates and now to remember back to the highlights is a challenge.

On Friday, the 11th I packed a bag and went to have a sleepover with Ben and the girls. Jill went to visit her Grandma in Iowa and Saturday’s calendar of events for the girls had some overlaps with soccer, play dates, and gymnastics. Norah wasn’t feel well and threw up several times (Ben was feeling like she had somehow eaten gluten, as she is quite sensitive) so we weren’t sure how she would be the next day. We had the usual relaxing pizza and movie night - a slow pace because the kids are glued to the TV and Ben and I could have conversation and enjoy a beer.

We woke up in the morning to snow covered rooftops and a dusting on plants and bushes, so soccer was the first cancellation, then Norah’s invitation with a friend, followed by a kindergarten gathering in the park. So, gymnastics was it - way more manageable than the original plan.

Last week, the new loveseat that I ordered from Amazon arrived in a huge box delivered by UPS. It was hard to imagine a large piece of furniture fitting in that box. I proceeded to read the directions and assemble and it all came together in about 2 hours - there were no missing parts and the directions were clear. I’m impressed, although the quality isn’t top notch, it will be just fine for me. I arranged and rearranged many times before settling in.

The REALLY BIG highlight of last week was when I went to Costco to get new tires. The Michelin’s that I have now were warrantied for 90,000 miles and I have less than 40,000 on them, so they gave me a mileage warranty credit. The cost of the tires was $679 minus a mileage credit of $293, minus a Michelin credit of $110 (for a set of 4 tires), minus the cost of installation (warranty work), equaling $294 cost to me. I was shocked but certainly pleased that Michelin stands by their warranty and I will have good, safe tires for driving on wintry roads.

From there, I went to Ikea to shop for a new duvet cover for my bed and some accessories to go with it.  I also did some Facebook Marketplace shopping a picked up a couple of bar stools ($25) and bookshelves ($35), so the place is filling up and it is time to stop bringing in stuff - I have most everything that I need now.

I was able to get outdoors and go for some nice walks in both directions along the Mississippi River, the walking and biking path is about 3 blocks from where I live.  We also went to Hidden Falls Regional Park on Sunday for a nice walk. We never did see the falls, as the trail to them is closed due to high water.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday, October 11, 2019, MN

I just got back from Frisco’s potty walk and it is 37 degrees with snow flurries in the air. It’s the beginning of things to come - for the next 6 months. I think I’m prepared but we shall see in a while - either way I will suck it up and keep on keeping on.

The last week has involved getting more settled, hanging a few pictures, ordering a loveseat for delivery next week. I am now in the process of getting my WIFI setup - just waiting for a call back.

We celebrated Camille and Norah’s 6th birthday on Sunday - first they had a party with friends at an art venue. Jill was a bit upset as the person in charge was late and she was waiting on a busy street with 10 little rambunctious girls and only her and Ben to keep them corralled. When she did show up, she was unprepared and unorganized and the face painter managed to cover their faces with ghouls characters rather than the pretty images you see more often.

I have managed to do a Walk Away the Pounds workout 3 days this week and since the weather was really nice, I got some good walks in - I found a great walking path along the Mississippi River that is easy to get to and a nice walk along a quiet street - only sharing the path with other walkers and bicyclists.  This is at the Two River overlook where the Minnesota River becomes part of the Mississippi River.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019, MN

What a week! I helped the family with projects over the weekend, taking Charlotte to gymnastics on Saturday and doing some shopping with her.  Sunday was a hang around the house day for all of us, playing with the kids and trying to keep them entertained. Jill made her Grandma Quinn’s Mulligan Stew and an Apple Crumble for dessert and enough of both to share with a neighbor who recently had surgery (much appreciated I am sure).

On Monday I had an appointment to pay my rent and security deposit and to get the keys to my new apartment.  They had just finished painting and installing the new carpet and it was scheduled for a final cleaning before I was to move in the next day.

Tuesday went just as planned. Dustin and AJ showed up on time, the truck was ready and they efficiently and timely got it loaded up.  Exactly three hours later, everything was in my apartment and I paid them and sent them on their way, then took the truck back to Cubesmart. I was surprised when filling it up with gas and the pump didn’t stop - I stopped pumping at $15. I guess the previous person neglected to fill it up, so they refunded me $5. I settled up (I owed them for 4 days rent) and was on my way back to Ben’s to get Frisco. I picked up a Papa Murphy's pizza on the way home and got started with unpacking and assembling my bed - first things first. 

And the last three days have involved unpacking and getting settled.  I am really happy with the space, have felt comfortable walking around the complex, and I’m ok with my view - a nice tree covered hillside off to the North, but mostly I see the fourth floor of the apartment across from me and above that, the sky - mostly cloudy the last few days.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019, MN

This week has been a flurry of activity. Jill is really trying hard to get the kids into a routine and to be responsible for getting themselves ready for school and they are really catching on although they need lots of reminders now, sometimes I hear the parents say the same thing 5 or 6 times. I just kind of stay in the background and let it all happen. I have been walking them to the bus stop and meeting them after school.

In between, I’ve been trying to tie up loose ends for my upcoming move; address changes, getting renters insurance, follow ups with movers, truck rental, getting keys, etc.  I was unable to reach anybody at Cubesmart Storage by phone to confirm the use of their truck that I had reserved, so I drove over there yesterday. Their records showed the truck available in the afternoon and I had specifically reserved it for the morning and confirmed that in a phone call a couple of weeks ago. Grrrr! They said they would contact the am person to see if their schedule was flexible but when I didn’t hear back from them by this afternoon and I wasn’t able to reach them by phone - again - I drove there again. While I was there, they called the am person who said they would be willing to switch to the afternoon - so I now have the truck reserved for the am and can stick to my original plan. The movers are lined up and all is set - for now.

Today was Dragon Dash at the girls’ school - an annual fund raiser for the school.  Two tracks were set up on the playground, a lot of cheering, stretching, the National Anthem was sung, and encouragement given and they were off. First, we watched Charlotte’s class of 2nd graders run at least 35 laps and we later learned that they exceeded their goals. She is on the right.

When they finished, the kindergarteners came out, were cheered on and were off and running - they too exceeded their goals. It was so cute when Norah’s class came out, she spotted Camille in the line with her class and they reached out to high five each other. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019, WI, MN

It was raining when we got up this morning, so we had to wait for it to slow down before getting the dogs out for their walk. I loaded up my car and followed Pat and Rog to the Hitching Post in Portage for breakfast. We said our goodbyes and I headed down the road to Ben’s house in Minneapolis.

The drive was uneventful with a bit of light rain but it wasn’t too bad. I stopped several times and then took a fairly long break in St. Charles, MN, just west of La Crosse. I was getting so sleepy that I just had to pull over and rest for a bit.  I found a great little city park that just happened to be next to a dog park.  I rested my eyes and then let Frisco run around a bit, we walked a bit, then I was ready to hit the road again.

It was great to see the family again and we had another great dinner together. The conversation at the dinner table updated me on the latest family news and how school is going for the girls. Everyone pitched in to clean up the dinner dishes and then we had cookies and milk for dessert. I’m impressed with the skills they have all learned since I saw them last - setting the table, pouring the water, serving themselves, taking part in the conversation, and then the cleanup.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019, WI

I got up early (5:30) Thursday morning to get a good hug and to say goodbye to Pat before he left for work, then went back to bed for a while. Once I did get up, I walked with Dawn, had some coffee, and packed the car for my trip to Pat and Roger’s house in Montello, then said goodbye to Tracey. I stopped at Woodmans to stock up on Wisconsin beer and just couldn’t resist buying a bottle of Dripping Springs Vodka - an Austin, TX brand that I discovered when wintering in Rockport and Port Aransas.

Pat and I took a nice walk with the dogs, then we had cocktails on the porch and then a pork chop, red potatoes and salad dinner. 

Friday was hanging out, walks with the dogs, and then meeting some former coworkers of mine, Beth and Bill, at the Owl’s Nest. It turned out that Bill and Roger knew each other and had plenty to talk about. The fish fry and Old Fashioneds were excellent, as usual and the company was great. It had probably been at least 8 years since we had seen each other.

Today was busy, as the only time that my cousin Jo had available to connect was at 11:00 and we met at Neil’s Wine House in Portage - a great old Victorian house that had been converted to a restaurant with a huge deck surrounding 2 sides of the building. We sat outside and had some lunch and a nice catchup conversation with Jo.

Later in the afternoon, we went to the River’s Edge in Montello and met up with another coworker of mine, Connie and her husband Bill who had moved to Florida and then recently back to Wisconsin since I had last seen them at Mike’s Memorial Party in July of 2013. Old friends are so easy to talk to, laugh with, and to enjoy each other’s company. It was great seeing them again.

Back home, we had another great dinner of beef roast, carrots, and salad. We walked the dogs and then played 4 rounds of Farkle.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019, WI

I’ve been winding down my visits these last few days here at Pat’s. After walking with Dawn yesterday morning, I saw Fran and we had a nice chat. I had told Rita that I would check in on her friend Sharon at Skaalen Home but it was lunch time when I left Fran and that would not be a good time to see Sharon either. 

Dawn and I saw this great spider web on our walk.

I drove to Walmart in Monona to see if I could get an oil change but they were short staffed and it would be a 3-hour wait before I could get in. So I headed back to Stoughton and got an oil change at Valvoline. With the $15 coupon I found, it only cost $10 more than Walmart.

I then stopped to visit Sharon for a little while and texted Rita to let her know that I was remembered and she looked good. Rita sometimes has difficulty reaching her so I’m glad that I could help her out.

This morning, Dawn, Jonnie, and I had breakfast together at Coffee Cup, then we headed out to check on the progress of her little house (16x28’ plus the 8x28’) porch. Her sons call it the Chicken Coop because an old hen is going to be living there. They are moving right along - the roof is on and a door and windows are installed. 

I just couldn’t resist taking this photo of Kowroo, he’s such a good looking guy with a sweet personality.