Friday, July 3, 2020

Friday, July 3, 2020

Where did this week go? Our only walk that took us out of the neighborhood was the far eastern section of the trail at Crosby Farm Park. We have gotten little walking in the last 2 days as the temps have been in the 90s with pretty high humidity.

Today, I got another haircut, this time at Ulta Beauty in Eagan.  It had gotten so long that I couldn’t wait for my next appointment that would have to be canceled anyway since I am having my cataract surgery that day. 

The COVID-19 cases have exploded in the US since things started to open a few weeks ago. My Granddaughters went to horse camp last week, so I have not been near them all week - who knows if they had been exposed. Some states have had daily increases of 5,000+ cases.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Saturday, June 27, 2020

I got a text from Rita this morning reminding me that Mom would be 98 years old today and the sad thing is that she has been gone for 56 of them. I don’t remember much about her but I can’t help but think that my sisters and I have some of her qualities. If that is so, she was a good gal. Happpy Birthday, Ruth Marion Peckham Ursino!

I had an appointment with an eye surgeon on Thursday to determine if my cataracts should be removed. He felt that my vision would improve greatly by having the surgery, so I got that all scheduled to have the left eye done on July 18 and the right eye done on July 30. Once that all heals, I will schedule another appointment to have my eyelids tucked, as they are also affecting my vision.

Tom and I have had a busy week that included some shopping, some housekeeping, lots of walks, and some projects.  The big project was getting the seats on two of my antique dining chairs reinforced. We put our heads together and came up with a plan that wouldn’t take away from the appearance or integrity of the chairs - the seats are embossed leather and were sagging in the middle because of the wood weakening and breaking.  At Home Depot, we found all of the materials that we needed at a price of less than $12, we borrowed a drill from Ben and a saw from his neighbor, Kevin and tackled the project on Friday. They turned out so nice and will be around for another 100 years.



We made fathead pizza for dinner, a keto crust made from mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, almond flour, and an egg. It was crispy and tasty!

We’re always looking for new places to walk and explore, so today, we drove to Fort Snelling State Park (about 5 miles away) and hiked the trail around Pike Island that is in between the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The trail was nice and shaded and there weren’t a lot of other people around. The only downside was the sound of planes flying overhead from the nearby MSP airport.  The real plus is that we haven’t had a problem with bugs at all this summer - not even a mosquito to swat. Knock on wood. I’m not complaining one bit.

I love the gnarly knots on this tree.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monday, June 22, 2020

Over breakfast this morning, we decided to take a drive and to access a trail that we haven’t walked before. There are so many to choose from. We learned that the Gateway Trail goes for 18 miles from North St Paul to a county park north of Stillwater and the Browns Creek Trail meets up with it. We set off for the Browns Creek Trail but the directions we got from another hiker led us to the Gateway Trail which we walked for 1.5 miles, turned around and hiked back. Again, Frisco was a trooper. I spied a turtle on the trail and he explored it for a bit, then Tom moved it to safer grounds. We also saw a deer run across the trail and I remembered that when you see one, there are probably others with it. Sure enough there were two others waiting to get across the trail but we were in their way. Just as the doe was approaching the trail, Frisco leaped and barked, sending them both back to hiding.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Yesterday was a busy day for us, with lots of activity. We got two miles of walking in the morning. When we got back, I headed to North St Paul to an estate sale. If I were into sewing quilts, it would have been a motherload because there were boxes full of fabrics and notions.  I walked away with nothing but a good experience of scrounging through other people’s stuff.

On my way home, I got a call from Ben who wanted to bring the girls over to go for a walk along the River with us. They enjoyed exploring the shoreline, skipping stone, climbing trees, swinging from vines, and they even found baby toads. This picture was taken in front of a small cave on the ridge above the trail.

Tom and I made steak fajitas for dinner and they were really tasty. 

Today has been rainy, so we have been pretty grounded all day. When we did go out for a walk, it was lightly raining and turned heavier, so we went back inside. Shortly after, there was a downpour that could be heard on the roof.

A few weeks ago when I was looking for projects to do, Jill told me that the girls needed aprons as they had outgrown theirs. I searched for fabric on JoAnn Fabric and all of the cool designs that I picked out were out of stock or you had to buy multiples of two or more yards.  The thought came home in the middle of the night, that the vintage tablecloths that I had might make cute aprons. So I found a pattern on Pinterest and this is the result of my efforts.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020

Yesterday started with breakfast at the Highland Grill at the corner of Cleveland Ave and Ford Parkway. We chose a picnic table on the sidewalk and ate our breakfast as traffic went by. We were just finishing when we felt a few drops of rain, hurried to get under cover, paid our bill and headed for the car - just as the rain came to an end. I chose a delicious breakfast that I had never had before - a sweet potato hash with sausage. It had sweet potato, carmelized onion, kale, sweet red pepper, and spicy sausage, topped with an egg and some yummy guacamole. There was enough that I had the leftovers for dinner and a little bit for breakfast this morning.

We then went to the Walmart in Bloomington to pick up a few things. Tom had read that they had a liquor store, but there was none. Again, it was a disappointing store with a DIY cart sanitation system, few people wearing masks, filthy checkout aisles, and a slow, unfriendly checkout person and filthy floors.  The last time we went to a Walmart - in Inver Grove Heights, we were disappointed to learn they didn’t have a produce or meat department - what? Zoning? COVID? I don’t have a clue.

This morning, we decided to do something a bit different for our walk and we headed across the river to the historic sites at Mendota for a self-guided walking tour. There is a series of historic buildings just west of MN-13 in the little town with a population of 128. We saw the Sibley House, a limestone building that was headquarters for a fur trade company and built in 1838, the Cold House (storage for furs), and the Wash House (also a summer kitchen). It is currently the caretaker’s house.

Sibley House

Cold House

The Jean Baptiste Faribault house was the home of Mr.Faribault, a fur trader.

A short distance from those buildings, we came upon the old railroad bridge. The road under the bridge led to the river and what was once the Fort Snelling ferry.

This was an interesting looking log along the path by the river.

According to the map that we had, there were a few other historic sites along the Main Street, and some were just that - a site that no longer has a building on it, or the building has been replaced.  We did find the original jail building still in tact, built in 1915.

We headed back to the car and drove up the hill when I spotted another historic marker, so followed the sign that led to St. Peter’s Church - a beautiful sandstone building that was built in 1853, it is the oldest continuously operated church in Minnesota.  In the back of the church was a quiet, serene garden.

While at the church, we got to talking with a gal who recommended that we go see the Acacia Park 
Cemetery and the Native American memorial on Pilot Knob (the location of the 1815 Treaty of Mendota) and was also a major hilltop marker used for navigation along the river. The city of Minneapolis is in the distance.

Then it was nap time.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I found a cute duplex listed for rent on Craig’s List and we drove by the other day to check it out - a nice neighborhood, well kept yard and has all that we are looking for. Unfortunately, I am now thinking it might be a scam, as I have been unable to get answers to the questions that I’ve asked and it seems strange to me.  After some strange back and forth emails, and some arrangements that we couldn’t agree with, I ended the communications and have heard nothing since. Oh, well.

I spotted this pretty seed head on our walk along Shepard Road this morning,

I spent time with Camille and Norah this afternoon. My intentions were to go to the Rose and perennial gardens near Lake Harriet, with a stop at the beach for a cool down there and back. The girls rode their scooters and were good about following the rules - go ahead to the next bench and wait for me.  When we got to the beach, it was not crowded (still trying to social distance as much as possible), so I let them swim and we ended up staying there the entire time. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sunday, June 14, 2020

We spent quite a bit of time this week driving around and looking at apartment complexes that we might be interested in. Our list of 22 possibles has now been narrowed down to 9 contenders and we will make appointments to see them in person and to learn more about them. We need to be prepared to make a decision to stay here or to move on by July 30 in order to comply with the terms of my lease. Little by little, we will get there.

We’ve also taken walks every day and mostly along the river trails - we both certainly appreciate that part of living here in St Paul.

Today, we decided to take a drive to visit waterfalls in Hastings and Cannon Falls and the only covered bridge remaining in Minnesota at Zumbrota.  In Hastings, we visited Vermillion Falls and walked along the river on paths that took us to Old Mill Park and the remains of the first flour mill in the state.  The falls were dammed from the Vermillion River and The Ardent Mills Flour Mill was built on one side of the river and is still is in operation today.

Vermillion Falls

The walls of this walk bridge are covered in locks.

From Hastings, we headed south on US-53, then MN-20 to Cannon Falls, located right in the center of town in a beautiful city park.  After viewing the falls, we walked along Main Street in hopes of finding a watering hole, but restaurants required reservations or their patios were in full sun, so we moved on.

We found this adorable bench made of driftwood along the path to the falls.

And a couples photo op.

Cannon Falls

Heading south again on US-52, through 20-miles of Minnesota farmland, we arrived in Zumbrota and found the Guilty Goose that had outdoor seating and welcomed dogs, we sat and enjoyed a beer and a beef jerky before heading to the park to see the covered bridge.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Oh Boy, it’s been another week and I haven’t written.  It’s been a good week too.

Last Sunday, after two weeks of self-quarantine, we were invited to Ben and Jill’s for dinner and I baked a Coconut Rhubarb Cake, a favorite recipe from years past. I just happened to get a mixed message and Headed for Lois and Dennis’ house, making an assumption based on previous distanced gatherings With the family. We surprised Lois and Dennis when we showed up and then realized that we had come to the wrong house.

When we got to Ben’s house, he was frustrated with a toilet install project, so Tom helped him and they got it installed.  Then, while relaxing on the patio and Jill was telling about her frustration with a chipmunk trapped in the egress window well and the dead mole down there, Tom took it in his own hands and did a rescue and cleanup - what a guy! The girls were happy to see him again and they picked on him and teased him, messed with his hair and wanted him to carry them around and play with them.

 He sure has patience with those little girls - what a guy!

We’ve gotten some good walks in this week, did some grocery shopping one day, and we drove around yesterday looking at apartment complexes in Burnsville and Apple Valley. Out of 8 places we looked at, there are now 2 at the top of our list. 

Instead of screen time with the Grand-girls today, I walked and they roller-bladed around Lake Harriet. They were proud of the fact that they did it twice yesterday - a total of 6 miles on those little legs and were willing to do it again. We stopped along the way for snacks and they climbed trees, found a tree fort and the fairy house. Other than a little bit of bickering, they were greats days I survived it!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020

I had an appointment with a dermatologist on Wednesday afternoon to determine why I have lost hair in a spot along my forehead, a heart shape spot about 1/2” x 1”.  It turns out to be a rare condition called Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia where the body’s immune system reacts to an inflammation at the hair follicle and kills it, leaving a scar behind. It is most common in post menopausal women and the doctor says he only sees it once or twice a year. It progresses slowly but it has to be stopped. I don’t want to lose any more hair. Treatment is a topical steroid for 6-8 weeks, then a follow-up to see if that worked. If not, a possible biopsy and steroid injection. He also ran blood tests that were negative for Lupus. Just another freaky thing on this path through life. Hopefully the treatment works right away.

This morning, we went back to Hidden Falls, determined to find out if there actually are waterfalls. We walked a loop trail and were beginning to doubt that they existed, but found another trail that actually led to the falls. The trail into the ravine was dark from the dense canopy of trees, the ground was moist from last nights rainfall, and a small stream paralleled the path. The park dates back to 1887, when it was selected by Horace Cleveland, a nationally known landscape architect and park planner, as one of four major park sites for the City of Saint Paul. Except for the use of a portion of the land as a tree nursery, no improvement was made in Hidden Falls Park until 1936-37, when the WPA carried out an extensive improvement program on the site. Featured in the park was a small spring-fed waterfall from which the park got its name.  There was evidence of the construction done by the WPA, in the form of stone walls, a large cistern, and stone stairs leading up the stone wall to street level.

When we got back to the parking lot, we decided to follow the path along the river where we were told last Sunday that there was an Eagle’s nest there. We spotted an eagle sitting on a large branch over the trail because a man stood there looking at it.  That led to spotting the nearby, very large nest in a crook of a huge cottonwood tree. I took photos but they didn’t turn out because of the bright sky and shadows cast by the trees.  What a nice adventure we had today.

The next highlight of the day was that I got a haircut. Salons were allowed to open up at 25% capacity last week and Lynn had a cancellation, so she was able to get me in this afternoon. Every precaution was taken, as I had to be masked, sign in, have my temperature taken, and sit down in a freshly sanitized chair.  Now I wish I would have taken before and after photos since my hair had grown so long - almost to my shoulders, but it feels good to be styled shorter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The protests fueled by George Floyd’s murder by cop continue, although the violence has been avoided the last few days. The Twin Cities has seen 7000 troops brought in to help stop the destruction of property and looting. Curfews have been in place and enforced. Hundreds of people have been arrested for curfew violations. Protests are also being conducted in many cities throughout the US.

Yesterday, we went for a hike on the trails around Lebanon Hills Regional Park, a little over 2 miles. Social distancing is still observed and the people we met up with on the trails were respectful. Some of the trails have even been designated as one-way loops to reduce passing on the trails - not observed by all, imagine that.

We spent the morning driving around and looking at apartment complexes that we have researched in the past. Our list of seven for today has been reduced to 2, possible 3 for consideration. We will read reviews and talk to management to ask some questions.

And all of this goes on as our communities start to open up after being closed for the last 2 months. Tom and I went to Yankee Tavern this afternoon where they are serving on the patio only with tables 6+ feet apart, reduced capacity, and an area of the parking lot designated for dining. We had a drink and a meal and it sure felt good to be out and about and have a meal at a restaurant away from home.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020

What a week. On Monday, a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, was apprehended by 4 police officers and restrained by one cop holding him on the ground with his knee on his neck as  the man pleaded “I can’t breathe”. The cop continued to hold him down for 8 minutes, even though he quit breathing after 4 minutes.  The community responded with grief and anger, as the video went viral, yet, the 4 cops had not been arrested. It wasn’t long and the protests became violent and buildings were looted and set afire, including the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct where the 4 cops worked from - it burned to the ground.

Each night since then, the violence has spread and gotten worse. Neighborhood business have burned and stores have been looted and emptied of everything that might have a value. The National Guard was called in yesterday and they weren’t able to handle the crowds during the night, in spite of a curfew being placed between 8pm and 6am. When Tom and I took Frisco out at 9pm, we stayed right in my community, but there wasn’t a car on the road - an unreal silence. On the news, we learned that the police officer who held the man down has been charged with murder. A large group of peaceful protestors had blocked the northbound lanes of I35W and were marching north toward downtown, in spite of the curfew. 

This morning, we learn of even more violence, looting and burning overnight. Governor Walz has been on the news and they are saying that everyone that has been arrested has been from out of town. They are bringing in even more National Guard troops and police from other cities and states in anticipation of more violence tonight as the violence has been caused by drug cartels, and violent black groups - the local citizens are pleading for peace and cleaning up after the thugs.

And all of this with the continuing loss of lives from COVID-19, just as businesses are starting to open up.  It is truly a sad situation around here.

We saw this sign on our walk earlier in the week:

Tom and I have been getting lots of walks in these days and we have explored neighborhoods and the trails along the Mississippi. We stopped to watch a barge go by yesterday and today we walked the trail between the South and North entrances to Hidden Falls Regional Park - 4.2 miles total. We did not find the falls.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

I was looking for something in a box on Thursday, found lots of music and photo CDs and spent the some time sorting through, trashing several, and putting several of the Music CDs out in the lobby for someone in the apartments on my floor to help themselves.  It wasn’t long and they disappeared.  I spent the next few hours watching photos dating back to 1999 on up to about 2005 on my tv from the DVD player.  I sure did have some beautiful gardens, both in Wisconsin and Florida, and had lots of fun times and travels with friends and family.

Preparing for Tom’s arrival on Sunday, I shopped for groceries, cleaned my car, did laundry, and cleaned the apartment on Friday and Saturday.  On 
Sunday afternoon, I put a rack of Baby Back Ribs in the oven and mixed up a bowl of coleslaw.  He pulled in a little after 3 pm, relieved to be off the road and glad to be here. It has been 4 months since we’ve seen each other and we found plenty to talk about.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

We are finally seeing temps in the 70s and it sure feels good. I actually changed into knee length pants and short sleeves for my walk today. Frisco and I ended up getting 2 miles in and I stopped to get some photos of spring flora along the way. The sweet smells of lilac and flowering crab are everywhere - and yes, my allergies have also flared.
I arranged to meet up with Ben after work so we could take a walk together. Because of home schooling, he doesn’t finish working until 7:30-8 pm. I hung out with Jill and the kids for a while and we all had Strawberry-Rhubarb crisp that Camille made (with a little help from Mom). She even found and chose the recipe online and insisted on serving. It was very tasty.

These are the ‘Super Dooper Rollerblader Girls’ out for an adventure.

Ben and I had a very nice 2-mile walk (that makes 4-miles and 12,000+ steps for me today) and lots of talk along with it.  We will have to do that more often and maybe even take the girls for a walk instead of video time in the afternoon.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monday, May 18, 2020

It’s been almost a week again - without a lot to write about.  

We got some much needed rain over the weekend - Saturday, just enough to need a raincoat but not get soaked. Sunday was steady and we got almost 4 inches throughout the day. I got soaked on my first walk with Frisco and got smart and wore my waterproof hiking shoes, rain pants and raincoat on the other walks so I stayed dry by my outerwear sure got soaked. I am thankful that I had it.

Tom started on his road trip with the hopes of arriving here next Saturday or Sunday. He is taking a detour to visit his sister Geri in Blythe, CA, then Joyce in Falcon, CO and is hoping to arrive here by Saturday or Sunday.

I found another one if these engraved sidewalk blocks on my walk today. I find them interesting and feel good when I spot one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mother’s Day started with a call from Pat and Tracey and lots of texts from family and friends.  The weather has been cool and wet but we managed to have a family gathering on Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day at Lois and Dennis’ house again.  We started by taking a long walk on the trails through their neighborhood, then hung out around the fire pit with a good fire burning.  The kids were busy playing yard games and I pitched the ball to them and they each got 3 hits before passing the bat.

Dennis made steak and pepper burritos for dinner and we roasted marshmallows and had some mores for dessert. All in all it was a very nice day in spite of the weather.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Friday, May 8, 2020

This week’s highlight - I got to visit with Marta and Kerry, friends from Washington who were passing through and stopped for a visit.  They are long time RVers that I met when Mike and I stayed at Marin RV, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Greenbrae, CA. Kerry was working at the Maritime Museum in SF and Mike and I were babysitting Charlotte a few days a week for a few about 6 months. Marta and I became quick friends and would go on long hiking adventures to places like the Marin Headlands, and other beautiful spots. I will never forget our trip to Maritime Museum’s warehouse where we were given a guided tour of artifacts that were in storage or being repaired for the museum, followed by a great dinner and beers. That was the point where we hit it off as couples but then Mike and I left there shortly after. After Kerry retired, they went back to Washington to be near their family.

Marta and I have stayed in touch through the years, thanks to Facebook, and I feel fortunate that they took the time for a visit with me.  We last saw each other in 2014 and just missed connecting last spring when Tom and I were in Washington.  We had a nice, distanced visit, some lunch, and a walk along the river. Unfortunately, Marta’s health is not so great as she suffers from Fibromyalgia in her legs and was recently  diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia. She seemed like the same old Marta to me, but after a couple of hours she struggled to remember things and Kerry helped her out a lot and filled in the blanks. She is fortunate to have a good man by her side who is willing to do whatever he can to care for her and to keep her happy. After her diagnosis, they were considering an end to their travels but it is something that she loves and it keeps her brain active, so they will continue for as long as they can.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020

The same old, same old continues here with the exception of some beautiful weather for long walks and having windows open and occasionally striking up a conversation outdoors at a safe distance.

Saturday was the highlight of the last few days for me, as I met up with Ben and his family at Lois and Dennis’ back yard for a belated birthday celebration. Each granddaughter handed me a self-made birthday card with pretty birds and tender messages on them. 

We had beers, played with the kids, and sat in a large circle visiting. Dennis grilled brats and hot dogs and we had some salads and chips on the side, ice cream bars to top it all off. It was a lovely day.

I felt bad for Tom tonight when he called to express his frustration over something that he witnessed at his park in Apache Junction. When he was out walking, he became angry when he noticed that a huge Class A motor home that was covered in Trump supporting/promoting skin was parked in one of the spots and he hoped that he wouldn’t have to have any personal contact with someone in that RV. As we talked, he calmed down but he certainly needed to vent and lower his blood pressure.  We figured that it was probably there in support of Trump’s visit to the Honeywell plant tomorrow and it would hopefully be gone, never to return again. We both are finding it difficult to understand how he is still getting support after the way he has handled this pandemic. We see it that he has done nothing right and they see it that he has done everything right. 

Things are getting ugly with some states deciding to open up their businesses while the Medical experts are telling us that this isn’t even close to being on the downside. People are protesting, some violently, refusing to wear masks, and even some KKK activity - a person wearing a KKK hood while grocery shopping in California and a Zoom video church service getting a KKK video bombed that interrupted the service (I’m not sure how that works, but apparently an unwanted video appears on the screen while watching the church service).