Thursday, December 30, 2021

Wednesday, December 29, 2021, MN

I met Ben and the girls at the theater this morning and we saw the movie, “Sing 2”. We all thought it was a great kids movie but I couldn’t believe the awful condition of the theater - leftover trash in my cup holder, the floors hadn’t been cleaned, and it just had a trashy feel to it - probably another example of staffing shortages. I offered to pay for popcorn and water since Ben bought the tickets (1 bottle of water for the girls to share + 2 regular popcorns = $23). GULP!  The twins wanted to come over to my house after the movie, so we drew pictures and they ate (it’s what they do best these days).

I heard from Pat and his Covid symptoms have gotten a little worse on Day 3 - headache and real tired. A coworker who also has it cannot stop coughing and has lost his sense of taste. My fingers are crossed and I’m praying that he overcomes this without it getting worse. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Monday, December 27, 2021, MN

According to my dear friend and avid follower, Pat - I have been remiss and my journal has not been updated in well over a week, so here you go Pat.  There’s always plenty of ‘life’ going on, nothing exciting but since this is a journal of life events, I will try to reconstruct.

Last week was a busy one, the week before Christmas and finishing up on last minute activities.  I met Mavis for lunch on Monday at the Yankee Tavern so we could exchange gifts and catch up. That is a convenient meet-up place and I had a delicious burger.  

The grandkids were out of school and parents were still working, so Camille and Norah had a sleepover on Tuesday night and Charlotte on Wednesday night.  She and I went grocery shopping on Thursday so I would have what I needed for Christmas. We kept busy with crafts, making fudge, eating, watching movies and other shows and games.  I just love having them over, but am ready for quiet when it’s time for them to go back home.

This is one of the projects that Charlotte and I worked on. On a past visit, she bought fabric at JoAnne with the intention of making a dress. She designed and measured the dress, had it all marked out on the fabric - wanting it to look like the Aphrodite character in one of the books she has been reading.  I didn’t make many modifications other than increasing seam allowances and it turned out just like she intended.

I was quite surprised when I got a text message Thursday night from my old friend, Elaine, who reached out to see if I was still around and doing ok. We met back in 2007 while working at San Francisco RV park in Pacifica, CA - Mike and Gail worked together doing maintenance and Elaine and I worked in the office. Both couples were there to be close to sons who lived in San Francisco.  We became friends and hung out quite a bit, doing some siteseeing on our off days, going for walks, and having meals together. When that gig was over, Mike and I continued to travel around the US and they moved back to Southern California and settled in El Cahon. Gail had developed Alzheimer’s and Elaine took care of him until he passed away in 2020.  I last saw them in 2015 when I took a road trip with the Hoovey’s to San Diego. It was so nice that she reached out and I’m sure we will stay in touch after this.

Ben’s family, Jill’s parents, and I all decided that we should test for Covid before gathering for Christmas and we all tested negative that morning. I spent a good part of the day on Friday cooking and on the phone with Christmas wishes. I offered to make my traditional Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce for dessert on Christmas Day and also Chili for Christmas Eve.  I’m just such a klutz these days and managed to spill at least 2 servings of chili on the kitchen floor as I was preparing to load up my car.  I then wondered if there would be enough servings, so I added a few ingredients and some additional seasoning and we ended up with just enough to go around.  While cleaning up that mess, I managed to spill Chili all over my bathroom rug and bath mat and misplaced my car keys. Grrrrrr! The keys were later found in my overnight bag - they must have dropped when I was scrambling to recover the hot pan of Chili.

Christmas Eve day was in the mid-40s and dropped down to a high of 23° for Christmas Day.  The holiday events were enjoyable and everyone had fun opening their gifts. It was so nice to see Lois and Dennis again - the poor guy has gone through the loss of his 94 year old mother, a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma cancer, the start of a treatment regimen and a 5-day hospitalization with Covid-19 complications.  He is feeling much better these days and we all felt so fortunate to be able to gather together.

This morning, I was saddened to hear that Patrick has tested positive for Covid after a night of chills and fever. I pray that he doesn’t get severe symptoms and doesn’t spread it to others.

The news lately is all about the massive numbers of Covid cases that are leaving hospitals overflowing and a shortage of tests, unusual December weather (horrible tornado damage in KY and TN and MN had 7 tornadoes touch down last week - the first in history), and today, there were over 1200 flight cancellations due to staff shortages because of Covid, leaving holiday travelers stranded in airports. When will it end?

Yesterday, we warmed up into the 30s and had some rain, that was followed by about 2.5” of snow topped with more rain/sleet that caused a crunchy layer on top of the snow, slick conditions and a challenge to scrape the ice off of the car this afternoon. There is more snow coming and temps will be dipping down under 10° in the forecast for this week. Brrrrr!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Sunday, December 19, 2021,MN

Last week we got dumped on with about 20” of snow and then early in the week, the temps rose and we had mid-50s by Wednesday and all of the snow disappeared except for the huge piles that are left behind from the snowplows.  Thursday turned bitter cold with temps in the 20s but high winds. In fact, there were warning about possible power outages and tree damage. I believe we also made history (first December tornadoes ever recorded) when several tornadoes touched down and did some damage - not to my immediate area, but within 50 miles or so.

Since it was so nice and warm on Wednesday, I thought I would take my car through the car wash and get the salt off of it. That turned out to be not a great idea because any residual water in the locks, hinges, etc. froze the next night. Yesterday, I opened the rear hatch (it crunched and resisted, but opened) to get the brush to clean off new fallen snow, and it wouldn’t latch because it was frozen. I ended up going to Ben’s today, putting it in his garage, warming the locking mechanism with a hair dryer and that freed up the hinge so it would latch once again.  I’m going to be more careful about car washes in the future - lesson learned.

Family news this week was that Jill’s dad wasn’t feeling good last Saturday, had shortness of breath, Lois took him to the ER last Saturday and found out that he has Covid, they ended up keeping him there until Thursday because there were no hospital beds available anywhere. Finally, they moved him to a hospital on Wednesday and released him on Friday. He is on the mend and starting to feel better.

I’ve been working on finishing up with Christmas gifts and getting everything wrapped. It’s a good thing because the girls will be having sleepovers this week as there is no school and mom and dad are both working.

We had a Christmas dinner here at Penelope this afternoon.  It was nicely attended by about 20 people and we had turkey and all of the trimmings and some nice, friendly conversation.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Saturday, December 11, 2021, MN

We had a small amount of snow on Monday and it was light and fluffy and made everything look like a winter wonderland.  This is my view and I just love looking out at the trees every day.

My week was good.  I got together with Mavis on Wednesday and we went to the Como Zoo and Conservatory, as there was a holiday floral exhibit going on.  It was very pretty, but just seeing all of the tropical plants in the Conservatory was worth the trip.  The smell was delightful, then I have always love the earthy smells that came along with gardening.

When we walked through the Primate exhibit, this guy was in a back corner when we got there and he came right up to the window, anxious for some contact with humans, I think. He was actually eating the cardboard box that the food came in and had all of this green powdery stuff around his mouth. When we walked by to the next exhibit, the young Orangutans were playing in sheets, covering up with them and rolling around and having a ball. I got a big kick out of that and couldn’t help laughing out loud.  They were like silly little kids.

I also had a repeat cleaning job yesterday with one client from the condo complex across the street.  All went well until I backed into a plant stand and it tipped over and hurled potting soil all over the white carpet.  In a panic, I tried to clean it up with the new vacuum cleaner that she had just bought and got wet dirt in that.  I ended up contacting her to let her know what happened and had  to leave the mess until it dried out. I didn’t take any pay when I left and I offered to try to finish cleaning it up or to cover the cost of professional cleaning. Now, I wonder if she will ever want me back, as she texted me this morning and offered to mail me a check, even after I offered to come by to pick it up and to clean up the mess that I made. We shall see, I guess.  What a disaster and I feel terrible about it.

Well, this is what my world looked like this morning when I work - the word is that we got 20” yesterday.  It took at least an hour to shovel out my car and to clear the snow off of it. Fortunately, I have a sunup space to park, so that helped to melt the snow off.  This is not my car, but it looks just like mine did:

Monday, December 6, 2021

Monday, December 6, 2021, MN

We had some wintry weather here on Saturday night, waking up to a covering of snow on the ground yesterday morning.  I walked with Kathy, adding an extra layer to my clothing and we got in almost 3 miles in spite of the biting wind occasionally, depending on the direction we were headed.

Ben dropped Norah and Camille off on Sunday morning and they spent the afternoon with me. I took them to their Gymnastics class that is just a short distance from my home. They helped me to decorate my Christmas tree and they wanted to learn how to make the cards that I’ve been making (it turns out that they are a little complicated for them yet) but got bored with the process in a short time.

Speaking of cards, here is a sampling of what I have made.  I like that it gives me something to do with my hands while I watch (sort of) TV in the evenings.  For those of you who read this journal, your Christmas cards won’t be a surprise.

I went over to Ben’s house on Thursday afternoon to hang out with Camille who is coming to the end of her quarantine and she is bored being on her own most of the day, although Ben is there but he is working.  We took the dogs for a walk and since it was a balmy 40+ degree day, this is how she dressed for it.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021, MN

Friday and Saturday were really lazy days for me. I even got two naps in on Friday. I’ve also been waking up with a stiff and aching lower back that used to clear up with my first short walk in the morning, but it has been lingering lately. It takes coffee, stretches, sometimes heat to loosen up before I feel like moving about. 

Yesterday, after my Sunday morning video chat with Tom, and a nice walk with Frisco, I got a call from Ben and he asked if I wanted to meet up for a walk. He was taking Norah (her quarantine is over) to gymnastics and would be in the area.  So, I met him and we walked over to the 9-Mile Creek Trail and had some good conversation and exercise.  We took a little side trail that was dirt and I tripped over a stump in the path and came down on my knees and hands. All is good, no injuries, but definitely bruising and stiffness - in addition to the lower back issues. Grrrrrrr!

I spent a lot of time this morning trying to get my printer to work correctly. It has faded blue streaks through every document that I print, so I went through the cleaning and adjustment settings several times, changed all of the inks, and it still won’t disappear.  I really do use it a lot, so I hope I can get it fixed.

I had a whole turkey carcass left over, so I set about making Turkey and Wild Rice soup today. While it was simmering on the stove, it gave a nice and pleasant odor to the apartment. When it was done, I had at least 14 cups of soup. Since Jill and Ben offered me Turkey soup last Friday, I didn’t even ask them. I froze a couple of containers and will distribute the rest to some of my neighbors later today. I’m sure it will be much appreciated, since most people here don’t do much cooking any more.  I still love having ‘from scratch’ meals and I hope I never get past that.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday, November 26, 2021, MN

Happy Birthday to Tracey yesterday and Happy 69th Birthday to my sister Rene! I was only 4 years old when Rene was born but I remember Mom coming home from the hospital with my new sister and a large family gathering with aunts and uncles and cousins for Thanksgiving shortly after that. We lived in a little cottage on Lake Kegonsa, across from the golf course. Rene and I talked on Wednesday and life is good for them and for me - she was excited that Mike’s daughters and their grandkids were coming for a visit today. 

Last Saturday, after updating my journal, I learned from Ben that Charlotte was confirmed with Covid. She doesn’t have any symptoms. The good thing is that Ben has vacation all week and the girls only have 2 days of remote school.  Another good thing is that their home is large enough that they can keep everyone separate and distanced through this ordeal - hopefully the rest of the family won’t get it.

We saw another transition in the weather this week when we had a couple of days warming up to the 50s and then a cold wind from Canada blew through and chilled the night time air to the teens, warming up to the low 20s during the day. Brrrr - not much outdoor walking was done.

It turned out to be another Thanksgiving away from family and seeing each other on video only.  I spent a large part of the day on the phone.  In the two years that we have been dealing with Covid, this is the only time that I have known anyone personally who got it. Nearly everyone I have talked with knows of someone. The numbers are skyrocketing and there are all of these people going to huge events and traveling by air. What a mess!

I really wanted to cook a turkey, so I ended up with a 16 pounder. I roasted it to within an hour of being done, carved it, and Ben came and picked up their half and dropped off pumpkin pie and wild rice dressing. I also cooked the cranberries and roasted vegetables and Kathy (my neighbor) brought stuffing, potatoes, and champagne and joined me for dinner.  We had some great conversation and enjoyed having dinner together.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Saturday, November 20, 2021, MN

Jill’s 96 year old Grandmother passed away last week and Ben asked if I could stay at their house with Yoshi (I’m not allowed to have guest pets at my apartment) when they go to the funeral in Iowa. No problem! Then on Thursday, he called to tell me that Norah tested positive for Covid in at at-home test, so to make sure, the entire family went in for a test and she was the only one.  Since I had been with Norah and Camille last weekend, I made an appointment and went in for a test that afternoon and got my results last night - negative! I’m am one happy Grandma! So…they cancelled their plans to go to Grandma’s funeral and have rearranged their sleeping space and prepared the house for distance learning on Monday and Tuesday while they are under quarantine, hoping that the rest of the family doesn’t get it. So far, so good.

In hopes of shedding a few pounds, I have been on a Detoxification program for a week now and am down 4.5 pounds. I haven’t missed so many of those things that I thought I found satisfying - sugar, meat, breads and pasta, or alcohol and I’ve stuck to doing my 15 minute aerobic workouts every day. Kind of amazing and I question why it took me so long to get inspired to drop a few pounds.  The intent of this 14-day program of eating vegetables and fruits only is to alkalize the body which helps to clear the liver, kidney, and bowel to improve function and get your body into burning fat. We shall see. All I know for sure is that my waistline kept expanding little by little, my clothes weren’t fitting, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, and I just wasn’t feeling good about my body.

We had some wintry weather this week. If it weren’t for the high winds most days, it would have been really nice, as the daily temps were in the 40s. I didn’t do a whole lot of outdoor walking this week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Tuesday, November 16, 2021, MN

The grandkids got their Covid shots last Friday and were feeling tired and had sore arms, so they didn’t go to Gymnastics on Saturday but had a ‘hang around the house in your PJ’s’ kind of day. While they were messing u the house, Ben and Jill worked on getting rid of the leaves in the yard, putting down grass seed, and getting the garage ready for winter. They asked if I could come over to hang out with Camille and Norah on Sunday, as Charlotte had a swim meet and Jill had to work, so I offered to pick them up on Saturday afternoon and have a sleepover with them.  Charlotte had a sleepover at a friend’s house, so Jill and Ben got to have a rare evening alone together.

It was a quiet evening, as both were really tired. We had some dinner and watched a movie and went to bed.  They even slept in until 9:00 on Sunday morning.  Then, after breakfast and a walk, we spent the afternoon doing crafts. They both wanted to make something for their teachers, so they made a tissue paper star, a heart, a rainbow, and a soccer ball by wrapping small squares of tissue paper around a pencil eraser, dipping it in glue, and sticking it to the paper shape that they had drawn. Camille made one for her teacher and Norah ended up making three - one for her teacher, her art teacher her PE teacher, and she took the materials home to make one for the music teacher.

Camille’s Star

Norah’s Rainbow, Heart, and Soccer Ball

We also made Thanksgiving Turkeys

Charlotte did well at her swim meet  and got a first place in 50 lap breast stroke and 50 lap freestyle. She also came really close in one other match.

I spent a bit of time yesterday making phone calls to auto repair shops about the brakes on my car. I have two appointments today for inspections. I’m crossing my fingers that it isn’t too expensive.  My first appointment was at Eric’s Repair Shop, just a mile from home, and I was pretty impressed the minute I walked in the door. 
Their customer service was great, the shops was clean and they got me in right on time. Eric himself did the inspection and called me into the garage to show me what was going on. My front brakes are fine and have another 2 years of life to them, but the rear brake pads and rotors are shot. He also sent me photos of of each wheel that showed exactly what was going on. His price to fix was competitive with other information I had gotten from the dealers and one other shop and he could fix it today, so I gave him the okay and took one of his rental cars home. $540 later, it was all done and I got my car back. Considering that the last time I had brake work done was about 70,000 miles ago in 2015 and the fact that the car hasn’t needed any other work, I am good with that price. I love my Toyota!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Friday, November 12, 2021, MN

I got some very happy news from Monica on Monday when I learned that Logan James was born. He weighed in at 8 pounds, 7 ounces and is 21.5” long. Mom and baby are doing well and I’m so happy for Monica and Loren and their new baby.

Grandma Nan and Baby Logan

Well, our weather turned this week and became much more wintry - the temps have dropped, some rain turned to light snow, and most of the leaves came down yesterday in the high winds.  Ben and Jill have been working on clearing their yard of leaves for the last week or so, as the Maples decide to drop their leaves all at once.  Ben told me yesterday that he cleared the sidewalks and alley of leaves, as the street sweeper was coming by. It left the curbs, walkways, and alley clean - and then the winds came and the next morning it looked as if it had never been done.

Genevieve was here on Tuesday for another art class. She comes once a month to conduct a class, provides all of the materials and her guidance. This time we made some greeting cards. She is such a character and brings lots of entertainment, her skills, and laughter to the group. I showed her the stitching cards that I have been making and she was impressed and encouraged me to make them to sell at craft sales.  We shall see, as for now, all that I make are designated for the holidays. I hesitate to mass produce anything, as I tend to get bored of one craft and move on to another quite frequently.

My stitched card and the two that I made in class.

Judy was also impressed with the stitched cards and wanted to learn how to make them, so she came over on Wednesday night and I gave her a lesson and we had a nice chat while doing it.

I started my first house cleaning job yesterday, for a gal who lives across the street at Applewood Pointe.  After 2.5 hours of cleaning, I was started to feel the effects physically and also getting real tired. Leading up to this point, I have been stretching and lifting weights to help my upper body and strengthen my arms. I’m sure it helped, but I was tired and hurting when I got home.  Betty was happy with the job that I did and texted me that she might have two more referrals for me. I would like to take on no more than four jobs - just enough to keep me busy and give me some extra cash.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Monday, November 8, 2021, MN

In a phone conversation with Patty yesterday, I was reminded that I hadn’t updated my journal yet this week, so here I am in reconstruction mode once again.

Frisco and I walked the Nine Mile Creek trail on Wednesday afternoon, it was a beautiful day and that walk is so enjoyable with the sound of water cascading over rocks, birds flitting about, and squirrels chattering in the trees. I even saw ET along the path.

I offered to make some soup for dinner for the family on Thursday when I learned that there were some scheduling issues with after school and evening activities. Ben had asked if I could take Camille to her swim class and when I realized that the girls didn’t have school on Friday, I offered to have her spend the night. They had already made arrangements for the twins to spend the night at Granny and Poppa’s house, so that meant that Charlotte would come home with me after her swim team practice. Charlotte had science club after school, so Jill picked her up just in time to have a snack, change her clothes, and get to the YMCA for swimming.  Then Jill and Norah waited with me until Camille’s class was done, then she drove them to G& P’s and I waited for Charlotte and she came home with me. Whew! She is becoming quite the strong swimmer and will be participating next weekend in a tournament. Dang, they are sure growing up!

We had a nice time together and I let her sleep in on Friday morning, she got up at about 10:00. I think she appreciated having some lazy, hanging out time with me.  

We took Frisco for a nice walk and stopped at the Pet store to get him some dog food.  They were both mesmerized by the Guinea Pig activity until Frisco started to bark and I had to turn him away.  After lunch, we went for ice cream, then shopping at Joanne Fabric and to the Bakken Museum after that, and then I dropped her off and went back home - tired and ready for some ‘me’ time again.

I walked with Kathy yesterday morning and again this morning - we got about 3.25 miles in both days.  It is nice to have someone to talk to while walking - the steps pile up and before you know it, you have walked for over an hour.

Tom made a trip to Blythe to do the Cancer Walk with his sister Geri this weekend, as she is celebrating ten years of being cancer free. We usually have a video chat on Sunday morning, but did it this morning instead. It’s always good to see him and we usually find plenty to talk about.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sunday, October 31, 2021, MN

My week has been a busy one, with something going on most days, starting with Tuesday when I was able to get my flu and COVID booster shots.  I’m not sure hey my brain was telling me that I had to wait to get the Moderna booster when my vaccine card showed that I had the Pfizer vaccine. The clinic in Bloomington that I went to for the flu shot was only giving the Moderna vaccine and they are not yet following the CDC guideline that says they can be mixed, so I ended up having to go to another clinic on Chanhasen to get the Pfizer booster. I had no side effects other than a sore arm for a couple of days.

Jill had to take Charlotte to a dentist appointment after school on Wednesday, so I went with Ben and met Norah and Camille at the bus and hung out with them after school.  Before going there, I prepared a sheet pan dinner of Teriyaki Chicken with Pineapple, Peppers, and Broccoli and I made some Peanut Butter cookies for dessert.  It was nice to hang out, do some homework, play card games, and have dinner with the family.

It have watched the two birch trees outside my window drop most of their leaves this week, as we have seen some nights get down in the 30s but the days have been beautiful and I have gotten some nice walks in. I awoke to frost on the ground on Saturday morning.

Monday Morning

Sunday Morning

Mavis, Mary and I went out to dinner Thursday night to DiGideo’s Restaurant for some delicious Italian food.  The place has been around since the 1930s and was was founded by Joe “Kid Bullets” DeGidio, a successful bootlegger during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. At one point he operated 12 stills in the St. Paul area. “Kid Bullets” parlayed his bootlegging profits and opened DeGidio’s Royal Bar at this same location when prohibition ended in 1933.  It was a favorite watering hole for many of the most notorious mob figures during Saint Paul’s famous gangster era.  Today, it remains owned and operated by “Kid Bullets” grandchildren as a family restaurant serving fine Italian food at reasonable prices.  We had a very enjoyable dinner and great conversation.

Ben and I have been meeting up on Saturday morning when the girls have Gymnastics class. Today, they were going to a birthday party instead, so I fixed breakfast for us and we had a nice, quiet visit over coffee and breakfast.

Last night, our community had Halloween party pot luck, the first event in a long, long time with a turnout of about 20 people, most of whom I have met before.  The club room was decorated nicely and there was a decent spread of food - chili, cheese, my cornbread muffins, potato salad and cake.  Some were in costume. The big surprise was that our mailman, Neil, showed up and he is a cheerful and fun guy to be around. He has been mailman here for so long that he has developed friendships with some of the folks. It was a nice, enjoyable gathering and I helped with the cleanup.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Monday, October 25, 2021

I guess Monday morning is the new time for updates to this journal. And now to reconstruct the week - it should be fairly easy as there hasn’t been a lot going on - I will touch on the highlights.  

I stayed at Ben and Jill’s house on Tuesday and Wednesday, as the girls were out of school and they took them to Great Wolf Lodge and Waterpark and I had volunteered to stay with Yoshi. Tuesday was beautiful, so while the dogs were hanging out in the back yard, I gave my car a deep cleaning, using the shop vac on the inside and then giving the outside a good bath too.  I also took advantage of the washer and dryer and did my laundry. I timed our Wednesday walk just right as it was warm and sunny when we walked and then it turned cold and rainy - looks like we have had the last of our warm, above average temperatures for this year.  

I had to take a picture of this yard that is across the street from Lake Harriet.

It was time for my 6-month follow-up appointment with the Dermatologist for the Alopecia on my forehead and I learned that the hair loss is stopped and I can quit coming in periodically and no longer have to treat it unless it starts up again.  I was happy with that news.

I spent a lot of time waiting and a lot of time on the phone on Friday morning with my health insurance benefit provider to choose a new health insurance plan that includes some dental coverage and was quite happy with the outcome of that conversation. I am sticking with a Humana Medicare Advantage plan, but am changing from an HMO to a PPO plan that includes more dental coverage and has a $0 premium.  Yay! I can check that off my To Do list.

Frisco and I went over to see Mavis on Friday and we visited, then walked the new trail and tunnel that has been under construction all summer and found it to be a very nice walk - there is no graffiti on the tunnel yet and we wondered how long it will be like that. We then went to the Fireside for some lunch and since it was nice and cool outside, Frisco waited for us in the car.

I’ve been thinking about a way to raise some money to increase my savings account and decided that a seasonal job might be right for me. I filled out an application at Costco and got a call back by the end of the day, learning that the seasonal jobs are part-time, pay $17/hour, and end mid-January. I have an appointment for an interview on Monday.

Then, that night while walking Frisco, I had a conversation with Betty who lives across the street in a condo and I mentioned to her that I had given my name to their manager in case anyone was looking for someone to do house cleaning and she said that she personally was interested and might know of a few others that would be interested. So - she will talk with her friends at happy hour on Monday and I may end up picking up a few cleaning jobs instead. I would much prefer going that route as it means fewer hours, less distance to drive, something that could continue through the year, and cash payments. My fingers are crossed.

I met up with Ben on Saturday and we shopped at the Farmers Market, walked, and had some nice conversation.

My Sunday project was to treat the lower cabinets in my kitchen with Liquid Gold, as some of the finish has worn off and some were looking pretty bad. I tested a small area to see if the Liquid Gold worked and it seemed to do a good job, so I treated them all and it made a nice improvement.  I have been a fan of that product for many years.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monday, October 18, 2021, MN

A cold spell has caused me to go through winter clothing and reorganize my closet this week. Other than needing a couple of pairs of wool socks, I am in good shape for the long, cold winter.

I had a first-time haircut appointment Thursday afternoon with Shirley and I really like her. She did a great job on my hair and we found lots of very interesting topics to talk about. I will definitely be seeing her again. It’s not that I wasn’t happy with the haircuts that I had been getting from Jeanell but she is almost 20 miles away from me now.  Shirley’s salon is within walking distance.

Kathy (lives in my building) and I got to talking last week and since we both enjoy walking, we met up on Sunday morning and walked and talked for 3.5 miles. I had well over 10,000 steps in by the time we got back home. It is so nice to have someone to walk with - it just makes it go so quickly.

Lois called me yesterday morning to see if I was interested in joining them and Ben’s family to celebrate Dennis’ birthday. It was a beautiful fall day and I wasn’t about to turn down an invitation to be around people, especially family. It was a great afternoon that included a walk to a nearby playground, sitting around a campfire, and having some great chili, cornbread, and apple crisp for dinner.

When I got back home, I walked Frisco and then Tom and I had a very nice Duo video chat. He is back home in Apache Junction, getting settled in and reconnecting with friends and family. We had an enjoyable visit - to be continued next week.

By the end of the day, I had walked seven miles and had almost 17,000 steps in for the day. I was tired and ready for bed early.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Monday, October 11, 2021, MN

After making a batch of chili yesterday and some Happy Birthday Brownies for Roger, I headed out this afternoon to meet up with them at Rochester KOA. I feel like it is always nice to not have to cook dinner after a day’s drive. They have started their trek to Arizona where they will be spending the winter and I really wanted to see them again before the spring rolls around. We had a very nice visit for a few hours and then I headed back home again.  Happy Trails, you guys!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Sunday, October 11, 2021, MN

We had our family celebration of Camille and Norah’s 8th birthday today and it is so great to see what kind, loving, talented and appreciative girls they are becoming. They both designed their birthday cakes and baked them with the help of Mom and Dad and they decorated them by themselves.  Norah’s request was for a Chocolate Caramel Monkey Face cake and Camille’s was for a Tie-dye Rainbow Cake.  Here are the results:

We hung around, opened gifts and managed to get some good family photos. It was a very enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Saturday, October 9, 2021, MN

Life is good! As I walked Frisco this morning, not fully awake, with my head in the clouds, a Bald Eagle took off from the treetops and flew right over my head. What a beautiful, graceful bird! A great way to start the day.

Our weather for the last few weeks has been unseasonably warm and beautiful with temps in the mid to upper 70s.  It looks like today might be the last we see for a while, as we will be dropping below 70 for the first time in a long time.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Wednesday, October 6, 2021, MN, WI

Way back on Saturday morning, I met Ben and Charlotte when the twins were dropped off for their Gymnastics classes. Charlotte had already been to swimming, so there she was with a wet back and butt because she forgot to bring underwear with her.  She was feeling a bit cold, so I gave her my raincoat and that did the trick.  We walked over to the farmer’s market and sampled a few things, picked up a few items (apples, corn, and eggs for me - carrots, apples, and honey sticks for Ben), and grabbed a hot dog for Charlotte before we had to get back to pick up Norah and Camille.

On Wednesday morning, I picked Mavis up and we headed out on a road trip in hopes of finding some brilliant fall colors, some places to shop and some good eats. The colors were not quite as brilliant as we had hoped but we did see some scattered patches. 

In Osceola, we parked along the street and checked out a few shops and the waterfalls, then stopped at The Watershed Cafe for a tasty brunch.  After leaving there, we went to Interstate State Park on the Minnesota side of the St Croix River and walked some of the trails around the Potholes.  The park has over 200 potholes of various sizes, all were formed when the powerful water and sand from the St Croix River swirled and formed the potholes, the deepest one is 60-feet deep but there are many that are quite small.

I ‘borrowed’ this photo from the website-hope it’s ok.

Trees really do grow out of rocks. Amazing!

A friendly passerby offered to take a photo of us.

From there, we headed south on MN95 that ran along the St Croix River. It is along that stretch that we saw the most color.  I spotted a sculpture garden alongside the road and had to do a U-turn and go back to check it out. It is a place that I might want to stop at another time, as we just didn’t feel like doing that much walking.

It was just a short driver farther south to the sweet town of Stillwater. We found a place to park and checked out a few shops before heading back home. It was a very nice day in good company.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021, MN

As I was heading out for my walk yesterday morning, I saw a large flock of White Pelicans flying in a southern direction. The migration is a true sign of fall and because of the summer drought, we are seeing the leaves turning colors much sooner. I’m feeling like I need to take a long drive up north to see the colors.

This tree is at the entrance to my parking lot.

The girls schools had their annual fundraiser, Dragon Dash, this week - they get donations for the school, then have to run around a track, doing at least 30-35 laps. I wasn’t able to make it to Norah and Camille’s event but did go and watch Charlotte run her laps on Wednesday. She said she ran 90 laps, but I think she might have miscounted, although she was quite driven at times.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sunday, September 26, 2021, MN

Since my refrigerator had no fresh produce in it, I decided to find a farmer’s market nearby and headed to Savage to stock up on fruit and veggies. It was a rather small market but there were plenty of choices and lots of late summer goodies available. I spent $25 and came home with 2 ears of sweet corn, a head of cabbage and broccoli, a bunch of radishes, kale, and spinach, 3 tomatoes, 3 onions, a small melon, about 8 Honeycrisp apples, and a large flower bouquet - it seems like a lot for that money.

When I got back home, Frisco and I went for a nice walk on this beautiful fall day. Temps are in the upper 60s and will warm up to a perfect 80 degrees today.  I fixed myself a healthy egg scramble with onion, spinach and cheddar cheese when I got back home.

The fans that I have used all summer have a heavy coat of dust on them, so I took one apart and gave it a much needed cleaning. By the time I finished, I was ready to lay down, do some reading, and take a rest. I no more than laid down and the phone rang and Ben invited me to meet him, Charlotte, Norah, and Yoshi at Minnehaha dog park for a walk. It was sure nice to be on the trails along the Mississippi River again and to just hang out with Ben and the girls.  Yoshi had a blast running around among all of the other dogs and taking frequent dips in the water.  I didn’t let Frisco off the leash, as I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to catch him if we wandered off, and he seemed to be content being on the leash.

I just got a call from my brother, Ron, and he has successfully relocated to Kansas City where he will live at Rita and Denny’s Stadium View Apartments and become their after hour’s maintenance guy. He is feeling good and positive about his life change and I’m wishing the best for him.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday, September 25, 2021, IA, MN

After breakfast and a walk this morning, I loaded up my car and Frisco and I heading back home. It was an easy 3.5 hour uneventful drive and we were back at home by 2:30.  The farther north I drive, the more fall color I saw on the trees off in the distance. The next few weeks might be a good time to take a drive up north.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021, IA

On Sunday, we left Cedar Falls and headed southwest to Griff’s RV Park near Altoona, IA, not much more than 100 miles and a 2-hour drive. The park is very large, with 150+ sites and we are in the older part of the park where the sites are much smaller, gravel with a concrete pad, and among the worker bees.  The newer parts have beautiful lawns, a fountain in a small pond, and much bigger sites - I guess that is where the longer term guests get to stay. We do have a nice grassy area, a horse pasture, and a couple of very nice evergreen trees behind us, so we are good for another week.  The nicely paved Chichaqua Valley Trailhead (20+miles long) is adjacent to the RV park and we have walked it several times.

The Bridges of Madison County was our destination on Tuesday, after breakfast and a walk. It was after 11:00 when we left the RV park and we had a 50 mile drive south to get to St. Charles where the visitor center and the first of the six covered bridges were located.  The Imes Bridge was the first that we saw.  We chatted with a sweet little old lady at the visitor center who shared some great tips about what to see in the area.

From there, we headed west to Winterset and saw the Holliwell and Cutler-Donohoe Bridges, then farther west to the Roseman Bridge (the one that was featured in the 1995 movie, “Bridges of Madison County” with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.  A side road led us to the Pammel Park Campground (we were not impressed) and the Harmon Tunnel (we were impressed) that was built by a man and his 4 sons in 1925.

Back in town, we walked around the 1876 Courthouse that was under major construction and centered the town square.  The friendly lady that we had spoken with in St Charles suggested that we visit the Montrose Pharmacy that had an old fashioned soda fountain that has been run by Cathy for the last 32 years.  I opted for a cup of  Cheddar Potato Soup and a piece of apple pie.  Tom and I shared an old-time Cherry Coke.  We then drove north on US 169 to the Hogback Bridge before heading back to our home at the campground.  

The bridges were all painted red and the inside walls were covered in graffiti, mostly initials and dates. Surprisingly, we didn’t see many dates earlier than 1995 - I guess people had more respect for property back then and were not interested in defacing the bridges. Several of them were built by the same man out of massive boards and different structural arrangements, designed to withstand the severe winters and be able to carry people and goods across the rivers.  The water levels in the Middle and North Rivers were all pretty low, I don’t believe a canoe or kayak could float down them right now.  We saw all but one of the six bridges.

It was an all afternoon excursion that took us through some beautiful parts of Iowa and was a good way to spend an afternoon.  For years, whenever I passed through the area, I would see the signs and say “some day I will come back and see the bridges” - now I can add them to the list of places that I have been to see. 

While walking on the Chichauqua Trail that runs along the RV Park, we noticed a huge construction site with 3 large cranes and after doing some research, I learned that it is an expansion of Facebook’s Data Storage Center. There are already several large Facebook buildings nearby.

Tom spotted this guy on the concrete trail - haven’t seen a Praying Mantis in a while.

The last few days of my stay were spent taking long walks, doing some shopping, taking naps, and hanging around the campsite.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021, IA

We have managed to get at least two miles of walking in each day, but many days more like four.  The last two days have been around Big Woods Lake - such a pretty walk.  We’ve done a bit of shopping - one trip to town for new towels for Tom and one for a few groceries. I was going to pull the grill out of the trunk of my car the other day so we could grill some steaks but the wind was going to have an effect, so I opted to cook them on the stovetop. That turned out to not work very well either because of the fans and the air conditioner running (had an effect on keeping the pan from getting hot enough), so I ended up with a steak that didn’t get nice and brown and was not rare enough for me.  It was fine with Tom but things like that bother me - I expect my steak to be perfectly browned and cooked to the right doneness to give me a rewarding feeling of a yummy steak dinner.

Last night we went to Cedar Falls for some Mexican food and live music. I really like this area and the downtown is really nice with a nice assortment of restaurants and shops. We had a beer and ate our food on an outdoor seating area, then walked to the little park where the music was. There just happened to be a brewery right across the street, so we sat at a table and drank a beef and listened to the music, then walked some of the path along the river.  

Just a couple of photos from downtown Cedar Falls. There are several nice sculptures on the corners and many of these great black and white photo murals on the sides of building.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - MN, IA

I was up and had walked Frisco, had coffee, loaded the car and was on the road by 9 am on Sunday morning, heading to Cedar Falls, IA where I would be meeting Tom at the Big Woods Lake County Park and we would spend the next week. We were unable to reserve a site in advance so wanted to get there early to get an available site.  Tom got there before I did and called to say there wasn’t going to be a problem getting a spot. I arrived shortly after he did and we drove around and picked out Site 12 that backed up to the lake, a beautiful spot to call home for the next week.

Yesterday, after our walk, we drove to George Wyth State Park and Blackhawk County Park to check them out, then stopped at a little bar for a beer on our way home.  Today, we went to the Cedar Valley Arboretum and walked the paths, strolled through the gardens, and had the park to ourselves until we were ready to leave. The park is beautiful and the plants were identified well. The topiary was great!

I just love this pretty Water Lily!

We stopped for a Papa Murphy’s pizza on the way home and had a late lunch/early dinner, then picked up some firewood and sat around the campfire for a while. Neither of us could remember the last time we had a campfire.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021, MN

Today is the 20th anniversary of the four terrorist attacks against the United States that took the twin towers in New York City, crashed into the Pentagon, and forced Flight 93 that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  All planes were hijacked and taken control by al-Queda terrorists. 

It was also the day that Ben was returning to the US from a vacation in Tokyo. He was on a Thai Airways plane that took off that morning and was enroute at the time of the attacks. His flight was diverted from Los Angeles to San Francisco (just where he needed to be). Mike and I were focused on the terrorist attacks and fearful that our son might not make it home safely. Mike spent hours on the phone with the FAA and Thai Airways trying to get information and learned that Ben was on the plane, but he was unable to find out where he would land.  Flights were grounded and being diverted all over the world and many airports had shut down and were being monitored by the military.  His flight was allowed to land at San Francisco, escorted by military fighters that had been scrambled as a precautionary measure.  The passengers didn’t know anything about the attacks until they landed and found the airport deserted as they were escorted out by police and security.  Needless to say, we were elated when we heard that he was safe on US grounds.

This has been another busy week.  I spent Tuesday with the girls and we went to the zoo. It was kind of a bust because we didn’t go in any of the indoor exhibits (except to see the fruit bats) as we wanted to keep our distance from others and there weren’t many animals in the outdoor exhibits. The girls had more fun at the playground than anywhere else at the zoo. All of the concession stands were closed, so no ice cream treats until we stopped at Wendy’s for a Frosty.  They started back to school on Wednesday.

Bob and Penny arrived for a few days vacation on Wednesday and are staying in a downtown hotel.  I picked them up and we went to Mancini’s in St Paul for a delicious Walleye dinner. It sure was nice to see them again!

On Thursday morning, they came over here and saw my apartment and then we walked the 9 Mile Creek trail. After that, I met them at their hotel and we went to the Farmer’s Kitchen Restaurant for some lunch and then walked the trail to the Stone Arch Bridge.  We parted and later that evening they came back to my place and we walked to Willy McCoy’s for dinner. It seems like all we do is eat.

Friday night we met at Ben and Jill’s, ordered dinner from Broder’s, and had some wine and lots of good conversation. It’s been about seven years since they have seen Ben and his family. We had a great visit!

They head back home today and I will spend the day getting ready for my 2-week camping trip with Tom in Iowa.  The summer is coming to an end and he will start his trek back to Arizona after our time together.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021, MN

My cousin Jo came for a visit on Thursday and stayed until Saturday. Friday was a misty day - not raining, but not dry either, so we didn’t do any outdoor stuff, but went to my favorite consignment store, Turnstyle and the Arc Thrift Store.

Charlotte attended a Camp Innovation at the Bakken Museum this week where the children design and building their own inventions, practice creating thinking skills, and make magic tricks. At the end of the week, they had a Big Show where they could show their families their inventions (had to incorporate electronics). She made a diorama of a bat cave and outside the cave was a moon that lit up. They demonstrated their inventions to many visitors. I know she was nervous but she did well. It was well attended by her parents, sisters, grandparents and cousin Jo.

After the Big Show, we all gathered at their house to have pizza and give Charlotte her gifts. We then had Great Grandma Quinn’s Green Dessert.

Jo left late in the morning yesterday and Frisco and I went for a nice walk around the neighborhood. I took a nap in the afternoon and finally got around the hanging my glass balls in the living room window.

Today, we walked a good stretch of the Nine Mile Creek - such a beautiful place with the paved path going through heavy hardwood forest, tall hills, and the fast moving creek providing the soundtrack. I feel fortunate to have this nearby and I think it will be very nice to walk in the winter.  Today, there was some white debris on the path and I thought it might be paper mache, but later discovered these huge puff balls on the forest floor. Apparently, some kids decided to break them on the pathway. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Wednesday, September 1, 2021, MN

I spent the day with Camille and Norah and they were not interested in going to a playground, preferring to just stay at home and play with their toys, jump on the trampoline and do crafts with me. We made lots of origami nesting boxes that they decorated with emojis.

I sold my dining room table tonight - to a gal that sure seemed to have an appreciation for the age, quality, and beautiful wood. I’m posting a picture of it, so I will never forget that it came from my good friend Marty and belonged to her Grandmother. It has had a special place in my home for years, there is no longer enough room for it in my small apartment.  

She is an avid canoe paddler and spends a lot of time in the Boundary Waters, so she may also be interested in buying my Loonworks canoe or know of someone who might want it.  Little by little, my load gets lightened.