Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, MN

The weather was beautiful over the weekend, resulting in some really nice walks through the neighborhood, chatting with neighbors who were out to get some fresh air.  I made a pot of Vegetable Beef Soup on Sunday and invited Joann, Deb, and Elaine to join me for dinner. We met in the Library since none of us have room for seating more than two people. It was nice to have some good conversation and a piece of leftover Thanksgiving pie for dessert.

Ben and his entire family have been stuck at home with some type of crud. Norah wasn’t feeling well on Thursday and everyone kept their distance from her as much as we could.  Camille came down with it on Friday and the rest of the family on Saturday.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Friday, November 25, 2022, MN

Thanksgiving was a very nice day, starting with a phone conversation with Pat, then followed by Ron and Bob. There were also lots of Facebook and text messages with greetings from family and friends.

I got to Lois & Dennis’ house about 1:00 and had a nice chat with them before Ben and his family arrived.  Norah wasn’t feeling good (stuffy head, watery eyes, and feverish), so she was mostly wrapped up in a warm blanket but she did join in and we all had some fun playing Monopoly and learning about the various football plays from Jill and Dennis.  I brought an Antipasto platter with meats, cheeses, apricots, and roasted peppers.  Dinner was excellent followed by the Quinn family’s special green dessert and pumpkin or pecan pies.

And This Topped Off The Day

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Wednesday, November 23, 2022, MN

The Manager and staff at Penelope made Thanksgiving dinner for all of the residents yesterday, some residents brought side dishes, and many showed up to enjoy a delicious dinner.  I volunteered to deliver dinners to residents who couldn’t come to the community room in my building - there were about eight who wanted deliveries.  This was because the elevator in my building has been out for almost two weeks and is not expected to be repaired until November 30, as they have been waiting for parts.  This has been a long haul for several of our residents who walk with walkers or in electric chairs, but staff and other residents have been helpful with hauling groceries or helping with laundry.

I’ve been taking Joey to the dog park pretty frequently and he is sure enjoying it.  Today, he met Ruby, a Poodle/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy who really thought it was fun for him to chase her constantly. Later on, he was right in the middle of about 8 bigger dogs, mostly pups, and he was having a blast.  

I was a little concerned today about a pit Bull that we have seen a couple of times now. It is behind the fence in the larger dog area, but has targeted Joey (stood there watching him for most of the time we were there today) and has even pushed against the fence as if he wanted to break through.  Joey has had fun running along the fence with him, but it makes me nervous after seeing him push against the fence. I will have to be cautious when I go.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Monday, November 21, 2022, MN, WI, MN

I’m going to write about the highlight of my weekend first, as I have this really good feeling right now.  Ben and I decided to make a trip to Stoughton this weekend to see Pat and Tracey and Charlotte came along. It was a whirlwind of a long drive but so worth it and it gave Ben and I some great one-on-one time. It has been four years since my boys have been together although they stay connected by talking on the phone frequently.  Ben’s life is very full with his family and Pat recovers from his very physical job on the weekend and just doesn’t like to leave home much, so this trip means so much to me.  

My neighbor, Deb, was willing to dog sit for me and that made it so much easier.  All went well with those two.

Ben and Charlotte picked me up about 8:30 on a frigid (18°) Saturday morning and we hit a few spots along the route where we had blowing snow and there was a strong wind, but not too bad.  It was a long, 5-hour drive with a few stops along the way, lots of snacks, and Charlotte read one of her books three times. We went straight to Pat’s house and just talked and talked and Charlotte and Tracey played some video games (probably Charlotte’s highlight) of the evening and we went to Wendigo for dinner. Dang, it was a cold and miserable night weatherwise, but there was a lot of warmth surrounding us.  Charlotte took this picture at the restaurant. 

After a stop at Fosdal’s Bakery on Sunday morning and a couple of hours with Pat and Tracey, we made a quick stop to drop off a gift that I had for Susan (she starts her chemotherapy treat on Friday) and we had a short and sweet chat with her.  And then for the long drive back home, with only one break at a rest area on the Minnesota state line and a stop at Andele Taqueria for yummy burritos before getting back home. All in all, it was a very nice trip.

Last Friday was kind of a fun day, as Judy and I went to the Masonic Home for their annual Holiday Bazaar and saw some really nice crafts and some of the old standards too.  My favorites were the cowl scarves and mittens made from beautiful recycled Merino wool sweaters.  From there we went to an Estate Sale and to the Touch of Home Consignment shop - a very nice shopping experience. I didn’t buy anything but I sure enjoyed the looking.

Earlier in the week, Mother Nature dropped about 4.5” of snow over a period of 4-5 days and our temps dropped to below average - in the 20s.  I had to pull out the bin under the bed that had my warm winter jackets and boots in it. It make it so much harder to handle when it comes on fast and furious after a long period of really mild weather.

I took this cute picture of Joey they other day.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Saturday, November 12, 2022, MN

I just finished giving Joey a haircut and he sure is a good boy about it, although he doesn’t want his face or feet touched but we got it done.  It only took about 45 minutes today, so we are improving on the process every time we do it and he isn’t quite as anxious about it.

When I look back at how easy it was to have Frisco as a roommate, Joey is at the other end of the spectrum.  He is still very demanding and I’m not 100% sure of what he is asking for, although I think it is usually food related, he will usually settle for some games of fetch with the ball or his toys as a distraction.  He will play for a long time before tiring. He has improved in so many ways and we are learning together every day.  Another thing - he is ready to go out for his final potty break around 7:00 pm and then is ready for bed - and is perfectly content to be in his crate.  He is a weird little guy who makes me laugh a lot and I often question what his life was like before me.  

I met the girls after school two nights this week after school. They are so good about emptying their lunch boxes, putting the containers in the dishwasher, having a snack and then getting at their homework.  I took Charlotte to swim practice Tuesday evening and the routine is a bit more demanding than her last swim team - 1.5 hours at least 3 times a week.  I went back there on Thursday to clean the house.  Ben has been out of town and Jill was not working from home that day, so there were no distractions - it’s not like that makes any difference, as when they are at home, they are busy working.  The job took about the same amount of time and when I got back home, I checked my health statistics and learned that I was on my feet for 5.5 hours, climbed 16 flights of stairs, and put in 12,625 steps.  No wonder a long, hot bath feels so good when I get back home.  

Our weather has turned and winter is here. We dropped from 68° on Thursday to 38° on Wednesday and we aren’t supposed to get above 35° for the next two weeks.  A few flurries came down today but there was no accumulation.  Our walk wasn’t too bad and Joey still hasn’t shown any signs of needing a jacket. 

I watched the last episode of “From Scratch”, a Netflix series that is a tear jerking love story about a Sicilian chef and his American wife.  It was a touching, but sad story and I had to grab tissues a few times.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Wednesday, November 9, 2022, MN

The fire alarms went off in my building last night at 2:30 am. After fumbling around and grabbing Joey, my phone, decent shoes, and a warm coat, I headed out to the meeting place on our property. There were seven residents out there, another 12-15 hanging out around the front entrance and that left another 20 or so who didn’t leave their unit.  The fire department arrived and after about 20 minutes they let folks back in to go to their units, telling us that the problem was an elevator belt that overheated.  There is a lingering odor that reminds me of burnt rubber or plastic.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Tuesday, November 8, 2022, MN

It’s been a busy Tuesday.  I offered to take residents needing a ride to the polls today and not had one taker, so we headed out at 10:00 and I ended up waiting for her for about 40 minutes it turns out that the person she was registering with wouldn’t accept her ID, so another guy helped out and she made it through.  I hear about this and really question how there could ever be rampant voter fraud.

There was rain in the forecast but it hadn’t started yet, so I loaded Joey into the car and we headed to the dog park where he was able to burn some energy and run like the wind.  And then we had some time for me to finish the latest book that I was reading, “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah x a story about a very dysfunctional family that moves to Alaska with the hopes that Dad’s PTSD gets better.  It was a sad, but very good story about starting from scratch in Alaska.

Today was the monthly art class with Genevieve and we did ‘painting with wool’ or needle felting.  It was a great medium to work with; soft, beautiful colors, and something I have never done before.  This is the outcome, although I will be making a few tweaks.  The classes are so much fun and I love learning new things.

I had to leave a bit early in order to do my usual Tuesday after school pickup with the girls.  It feels so good when they get excited to see me.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Sunday, November 6, 2022, MN

Well, our nice sunny mid-70° days have come to an end and we have gotten a small amount of rain and the cold, gray days of winter, topping off yesterday at about 43°.

I helped Judy out on Friday afternoon with making Thanksgiving Cards for a Cause and it was nice to sit and chat with the ladies for a bit.  Other than that, not a whole lot of excitement here.  I went to an Estate Sale in Shakopee yesterday and spotted this albino squirrel as I was leaving.  They are pretty common around here, but I haven’t seen one in a long time.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Wednesday, November 2, 2022, MN

It has been another beautiful weather week here in Minnesota - we had the third warmest day in history today, topping off at 76°, although the thermometer in my car was reading 80°.  After helping out with the food truck this morning, I decided to get out of town and I headed to the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge near Elk River.  I had read that this is a major stop for migrating Sandhill Cranes (12,000 stopped there yesterday), Tundra Swans, White Pelicans, and many others.  Needless to say, I didn’t see many as I was there in the middle of the day, but it was sure nice to get away and not see any buildings, street lights, or hear the roar of traffic for a couple of hours.

I took a 7-mile loop drive and walked the paths at a few designated walking loops.  From a distance, I spotted a huge Eagle nest that appeared to have two birds sitting in it.  Just as I pulled over with my camera, they decided it was time to hunt and flew from the nest.  I also saw a large buck in the distance and he turned to face me when Joey barked, but he was too far to get a good picture.  I may have seen the Sandhills if I had stuck around until dusk, but I didn’t feel like hanging out there that long.

When I got back home, I learned that Patty & Roger had a car accident in Casa Grande and neither were hurt but their truck appears to be totaled.  That is not the kind of news that I like to hear.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Monday, October 31, 2022, MN

Happy Halloween! Again, I have gone a week without writing - perhaps that is because there hasn’t been a lot to write about.  Our weather has been beautiful with days in the 60’s.  I’ve been watching the flocks of Cedar Waxwings in the Crabapple 

One thing worth writing about is that I connected with a gal through Next Door who is a Lab Technician and she came to my apartment Wednesday evening to clip Joey’s nails for $12.  My vet charges $18 and I’ve been told by friends that it is $25 at some grooming places.  I also invited Joann to bring Bailey over for a trim. She came a bit early and we had a bowl of Cabbage Creole soup together.  Mary arrived and it was no time before Joey accepted her as a friend and we got the nail trimming done in less than 5 minutes, then she did Bailey and she and Joann headed to Cheri’s apartment to do her cat. I spoke with our manager and she agreed that it might be good to set up a pet nail trimming clinic periodically and we will try to get some feedback from residents to see if they are interested in that service. There are lots of people with cats here.

I cleaned for Ben and Jill on Thursday and was feeling a bit beat-up when I finished.  It’s a big house and I didn’t take any breaks, just ploughed right through in 4.5 hours.

Ben and Jill invited the Grandparents for a delicious BBQ rib dinner last night and Chef Ben really pulled it off.  We had ribs, baked potatoes and grilled cabbage - all were delicious.  Lois made an Apple Crisp for dessert and I made a Pumpkin Bundt Cake to top it all off.  It was nice to hang out with the family on a beautiful fall afternoon and the girls were sweet and fun to be with today.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Sunday, October 23, 2022, MN

Dang it! I just had two paragraphs written and I hit something that took me out of the app and lost my post. 

While I was cleaning yesterday morning, I felt an urge to get away from here on this day that is expected to be gorgeous.  I called Deb to see if she might be feeling the same way and we decided that a nice walk along the Minnesota River might be nice. We finished our chores and headed out to the Bloomington Ferry Trailhead, a couple of miles from here.  It was about 70° when we started out, the trail winding along the shore of the Minnesota River, and the leaves rustling under our feet as we walked.  We talked about how fortunate we are to live near so many beautiful natural resources and are able to get out of the city and experience the woods.  It was a beautiful day and the temps topped at about 78°. 

I watched the Swedish movie “A Man Called Ove” last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I usually do some form of stitching while I watch a movie, but had to stay focused and read the subtitles - it was worth it.  Lois and Dennis recommended that I read the book a few years ago and I really liked it, so I was glad to see there was a movie made and the lead actor won an Academy Award for his role. Recently, I read “Britt Marie Was Here” by the same author, Fredrick Bachman and will have to watch that movie next,  I shared the book with Lois and Dennis. 

While Norah was with me Thursday night, she wanted to learn how to crochet, so I got her started with a basic chain and single crochet. She picked it up quickly and said it was fun, so I sent her home with some supplies.  It was the first thing she did when she woke up here on Friday morning. Ben called me last night to let me know that was the first thing she did when she woke up at home yesterday morning and when they were going to watch a movie last night, she picked up her crochet project and told her sisters that is what Grandma Rose does when she watches movies.  That was so sweet and it made me feel so good that my eyes got wet.  

Friday, October 21, 2022

Friday, October 21, 2022, MN

I started the week out with an appointment to get my Flu and Covid Booster vaccines on Monday afternoon.  Since I was going to Chanhassen (they had the earliest appointment for the Pfizer vaccine), I stopped at two of my favorite stores - Turnstyle in Eden Prairie and Tuesday Morning in Chanhassen before getting to the clinic.  The injection stung and my arm hurt for a couple of days but I had no other symptoms. 

I made a pot of Cream of Potato Soup and a batch of biscuits and took them with me for dinner with the family, as I was meeting the girls at the bus stop on Tuesday afternoon.  Norah and Camille taught me a new card game that was kind of fun (they didn’t know what to call it).  We had a nice dinner and I sat in on the homework before heading back home.

I helped out with the Food Truck on Wednesday morning and then Joey and I went for a nice walk before settling in for some reading and a nice cozy nap.  Our weather has been warming each day this week and it got to about 66° today and might get to 75 tomorrow.  It’s going to turn around on Sunday and we won’t see and 60+ degree days again for a while.

Things got even busier on Thursday when I headed to Ben’s about 9:30 and hung out with 
Norah until it was time for she and I to meet Lois, Camille, and Charlotte at Degler’s Farm for some fun fall activities.  We started out with a photo but the twins were leary, aware that there could be wheat in the straw bales.  We learned from the farmer that the bale they sat on was alfalfa which is gluten free. I sure feel bad for them having to deal with Celiac Disease but I’m proud that they are so knowledgeable and aware of their need to avoid contact with wheat in order to stay healthy.

The first thing they wanted to do was play in the corn pit and they had lots of fun rolling around, falling, and tormenting each other for a while.  After that, we headed to the corn maze and since there was a photo map of the maze, it wasn’t long before they had it all figured out.  From there, we grabbed our gunny sacks and headed to the 160’ long giant slide that was made from culvert material.  A wooded path led you to the top of the hill and the slide.  The kids all went down it at least five times and Lois and I both had to try it once. It was lots of fun and we laughed all the way down.  The worst part was trying to get into the sack.

A hayride was last on our list of activities, but Charlotte really didn’t want to go and she was mad at Lois and I for making her do something she didn’t want to do.  The picture tells the story. She was trying really hard to hold her grumpy face but she was almost smiling at this point.  The tractor driver grew up on the farm that has been in the family since 1948 and she gave an interesting narrative of the history of the farm and the changes that have come about over the years.

There were definitely some behavior issues on this outing - not listening, being disrespectful, and  pushing and hitting each other, so Lois and I agreed that we would not be buying pumpkins to take home. We got some resistance but stuck to our guns.  

Norah came home with me for a sleepover and Charlotte and Camille went home with Lois and they all got the lecture on how their behavior was unacceptable. And we both got apologies at bedtime.

This afternoon I took Norah to Lois’ house and then we took them to the Middle School for swim team tryouts.  We were impressed with their skill and we will see what teams they will be on when the coach e-mails Jill.  They were so well behaved today that we stopped at Dairy Queen for Dilly Bars on the way back home.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Sunday, October 16, 2022, MN

I got a good taste of what the next few months will be like when I opened the shades and looked out the window this morning.  It really was pretty and it had the feel f me of those quiet, calm winter days.  It was melted away by 11:00.  

I felt good Friday but took it easy all day, with a long hot soak in the tub that felt soooo good.  I even went to pick up Chinese food at Grand Szechuan and bought way too much food.  It was pretty good with plenty of fresh veggies, although rather bland.  After having it for dinner two nights in a row, I put the remainder in the freezer for a future meal.

Deb and I walked to the church nearby yesterday that was having their annual Harvest Fest. I bought a cute ornament from Judy, only because I wanted to support her craft and her wallet but there wasn’t anything else that I was interested in - not even the baked goods.  There was a long line of folks buying pies.

I also removed most of the plants from the planters in front of our building.  The Geranium is still looking good though and I’ll keep it going as long as I can.

After phone calls to catch up with Patty, Bob, and Patrick this morning, I started a much needed project to treat the leather and wood on my dining chairs and other wood furniture.  I’ve let it go way too long, as it’s been at least over a year.  So my apartment became an area of chaos for a while but I got the job done and I can forget it for the next six months.  

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Thursday, October 13, 2022, MN

It’s been a busy week again. I met with the Stampin Up group on Monday and everyone brought their paper, stamps, dies, and die cutting machines with them, so we could share and make a bunch of that stuff ahead.  Since the cards that I make are the stitched cards, I haven’t figured out how I want to incorporate the Stampin Up materials but I think that I have ordered all of their products that I might be able to use and they are expensive.

On Tuesday, I had the art class with Genevieve and she walked us through an acrylic painting, a medium that I have never used before.  This is the outcome from that session.

I had to leave early, as I have committed to picking the girls up at school after their Spanish class on Tuesdays.  They went to do homework and play with a neighbor kid and I sat out on the deck and enjoyed our beautiful 82° day and just watched the beautiful trees.  Ben fixed steak and roasted potatoes for dinner and it was yummy! 

Our temps dropped overnight and Wednesday was rainy and in the 50s and it isn’t expected to get much warmer in the latest forecast. I met Mavis and Mary at the Yankee Tavern for lunch and we had some great conversation and a yummy Bloody Mary and burger and fries.  It was nice to see them again and Mavis’ recovery from her hip surgery is going quite well.  She was walking with just a cane.

I got a call from my long-time friend Susan yesterday to give me the news that she has been diagnosed with a serous form of Uterine Cancer and all I could say is “f*#k” - not another one! She has hysterectomy surgery on the 24th and they will know more of the extent. It may have something to do with our age but I just lost two cousins to that crap - JoAnne on August 24 from Leukemia and Wanda on October 7 from a stroke after an Ovarian cancer diagnosis at age 90. 

Susan also told me that our classmate Judy is putting her affairs in order as she is facing dialysis and possibly kidney transplant which she is not sure that she is willing to consider.  I got way too much bad news today.

I had a house cleaning job at Ben & Jill’s today and their big, new house took me a total of 5 hours. Even though their new home has more square footage, I was able to do the job in the same time that I did the old house. My body is exhausted but I feel good that it can still handle it. I also feel good that I can provide a good quality service to them that they would be paying for anyway - I give them the added personal touch.  I will sleep good tonight.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Sunday, October 9, 2022, MN

We had our first taste of wintry weather this week when the temps dropped into the 30s for the first time on Wednesday and we all had to add another layer of clothing to stay warm.  I had a couple of lunch dates planned on Monday with Mavis and she and I both got the days mixed up, so that was rescheduled for next week and Tuesday with Deb and her plans changed.  She and I did walk to Willy McCoy’s for a beer on Wednesday afternoon after I finished helping with the food truck.

The fall colors are so beautiful right now and I really saw a lot of them when Judy, Ann, and I took a drive on the country roads between here and Faribault on Tuesday afternoon. Although it was a mostly cloudy day, there were beautiful pops of color along the hills and roadsides.

I’ve been watching this beautiful heart shaped tree on my block for the last couple of weeks and it reached its peak of color.  

This is what it looked like today.

I made a big pot of chili Wednesday night and took it to Ben’s with me on Thursday for dinner after picking the girls up after school.  I also had a haircut and a mammogram that day, so I was exhausted by the time I got back home.  I was back at their house on Friday night to celebrate Norah and Camille’s birthday.  Jill woke them up in the morning at the actual time they were born - Camille at 6:14 and Norah at 6:15. I didn’t take any birthday pics, so I’m waiting for Jill to send me some.  It’s hard to believe that they are 9 years old now and becoming so independent - they are good girls and good students.

My cousin Wanda passed away Friday and this is her obituary.

MADISON- Wanda Dorothy (Dzikowich) Farris, age 90, passed away peacefully on Friday, October 7, 2022, surrounded by her family at the home she lived in for over 60 years. Wanda was born on January 24, 1932, to Walter Michael and Frances Kathryn (Krajco) Dzikowich in Cudahy, WI. She lived a very fulfilling 90 years young, which was written on her birthday cake at her surprise birthday party this past summer.

She married the love of her life, Richard "Dick" Farris on August 30, 1952. Richard's sister, Donna, was Wanda’s best friends. It was Donna who initially paid Dick to take Wanda to prom, and from there the rest is history. Both Wanda and Donna remained best friend the rest of their lives.

One of Wanda's great loves was her music. She had a strong, beautiful voice that could fill up a room with joy or sorrow, depending on the country song she was singing. With nothing but her electric guitar, signature voice and a stand-up bass named George, Wanda started her journey with music when she was 16 years old in a popular local band named The Goose Island Ramblers. They played fairs and many telethons on TV. She also appeared on a local music show with her long running band, Wanda Star and the Swinging Poles, which was named after her Polish heritage. Many family members joined Wanda playing music. Her brother Mickey played accordion and sang, Joey would play his harmonica and their sister Mary would play the bass, George, while Wanda sang and played guitar. It was a family affair. Wanda passed her gift of music by teaching her daughters to sing and harmonize.

Growing up Wanda always loved sports, especially softball, which she played throughout high school. She always dreamed of having enough kids (boys) to have her own baseball team. Wanda had 6 girls and 2 boys, so sadly, no baseball team. When asked recently why she wanted to have so many children, she replied, "I was a really good Catholic but a really dumb Polack!" Wanda had a witty sense of humor.

Wanda was a devoted wife and mother who took pride in caring for her family. Sadly, on March 31st, 1984, Wanda lost her husband Richard. After he passed, Wanda started a new chapter by returning to the workforce at The Mariners Inn, until her retirement in 2005.

Wanda is survived by her 8 children Dawn Farris, Diane (Mike Moore) Farris, Mary Debra Farris, Theresa (Laura Davis) Farris, Kathy (Richard) Serres, Tom (Tiffany) Farris, Dickie (Lisa Ward) Farris, and Donna (Todd) Brandl; Siblings Mary Higgs and Joe (Sandy) Dzikowich; along with 16 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren and countless other family members and friends.

Wanda is preceded in death by her husband of 31 years, Richard Farris, her parents, sister Justine and brothers Edmond and Michael (Mickey) Dzikowich.

We would like to extend a big heartfelt thank you to the staff at Agrace as well as the other personal caregivers who took the time to support Wanda and the family during this difficult time. Wanda said you were angels sent from heaven to help her peacefully transition. 

We will all miss you, mom. You will remain a big person with a big place in our hearts forever. You loved your family above all else and we will cherish that for the rest of our lives.

Yesterday was another beautiful fall day and I spent a couple of hours helping out at the retention pond on our property.  Our community received a grant from the watershed district to clean it up and get rid of some invasive non-native plants and to revitalize the shoreline to retain the edges nd prevent the spread of cattails.  This afternoon, a couple of local Master Gardeners, our manager Nikki and her husband Sam, Judy and I cleaned out some weeds and layer a solar blanket around the edge that will kill off the grasses and weeds over the winter.  In the spring, we will select and plant native species of grasses and flowers to support the shoreline and attract birds and bees and butterflies.  It was a fun project.

Charlotte asked if she could have a sleepover Saturday night, as Camille and Norah were having their birthday sleepover, so I went to pick her up and we stopped at a farm market and bought some goodies and then at Culver’s for dinner.  We baked some Pumpkin Bread and watched “Minions: Rise of Gru”. When we took Joey out for his nighttime walk, Charlotte took some pics of the full moon, edited and embellished some of them and made a collage.

Ben came to pick Charlotte up this afternoon and we got to sit and chat for a while the girls played with Barbies.  They all love cuddling with Joey too.

When they left, I got busy giving Joey a much needed haircut.  I gave him the relaxing pill from the vet a little too early, as he wasn’t as calm as he should have been.  I think I’m getting better at clipping him every time but I have to find a way to be able to trim his face and feet better. He doesn’t want to sit still and fights me when I trim those areas.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Saturday, October 1, 2022, MN

It’s been a busy week, but nothing real special going on.  My car got a much needed oil change on Tuesday - the warning light came on just two days before I was heading out to Wisconsin.  I called Eric’s Repair (my go to mechanic) and he suggested that I stop by for a check before heading out and all was well with that.  I feel I have a place that I can depend on and trust now. My oil change only cost me $51, compared to $80+ at some of the drive-up places.

A Physical Therapy appointment for my Achilles Tendonosis ended up with good results - a series of stretching exercises that I can do at home and no follow-up is necessary.  I went in with absolutely no symptoms and after doing the stretches, it is painful to walk when I first start out.  Go figure.  

I met Ben at his old house on Thursday evening and helped him with some final cleanup and check to make sure everything is out of there. We then stopped at Red Cow - it was sure nice to spend some time with him.  Their closing was yesterday and all went well with that.  On to the next phase of their lives.

Joey is continually getting used to his surroundings and learning some behavior modifications and a few tricks too.  He is getting better at the standard commands - sit, down, stay, and no bites - and we are past the aggressive meal-time behaviors.  I took him to a nearby park where they have installed temporary gates at a broom ball rink for dogs to run during the summer months.  We were the only ones there, so he didn’t get to run around with other dogs but he fetched a ball a few times and even brought it back to me.  He is still pretty needy when I’m on the couch, wanting to be on my lap and be touched constantly and I’m working on freeing up my hands for crafty projects in the evenings. I think we are going to be good buds.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Monday, September 26, 2022, MN, WI

Last week on Tuesday morning, I headed out for Wisconsin with my first stop in Packwaukee to spend a couple of nights with Pat and Roger.  I always say “when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do” so we were up and out for our walks before 7:00 am each morning.  In the past, this was my routine but not lately and I really felt an appreciation for the quiet, crisp morning once I got out there and got moving.  This morning, I am back to my old habits of hanging out, having coffee, and then going out for a walk.  Joey hasn’t even gotten off the bed yet and I’ve already had two cups of coffee.

I can’t say that the trip there was uneventful because when I stopped the first time and decided to top off my gas tank (gas in WI is about $.20 less than MN), I opened the door and Joey had thrown up on the driver’s seat.  Of course, his seat was protected with a pee pad but he had to do it on the unprotected seat. Grrrrrrr! I cleaned it up and headed down the road, but that is all I could smell and it was so loud with the windows open, I stopped on LaCrosse and found a pet store and bought some Nature’s Miracle to clean it better and then at Pat’s house, I cleaned it some more. All is good now and he made it the entire trip back home without getting sick.

It was so nice to hang out with Pat and Roger again.  On Wednesday, we went to Princeton and walked around the Main Street, stopping at the Amish store and a few other shops and then to a beautiful apple orchard.  The Dahlias in their gardens were absolutely gorgeous and we learned from the owner that the growing process is quite extensive - digging up in the fall, sorting by color, drying out, cleaning the bulbs, then planting again in the spring, and regular deadheading - and she felt it was all worth the effort and we certainly appreciated the beauty.

That night, we went to the Long Branch Saloon in Germania for dinner - you would really need to know the area to find this place, as it was off the beaten path but jam packed with folks who came for the chicken dinner special.  It was special - starting with $3.00 old fashions and then crisp and moist chicken served with yummy mashed potatoes and gravy and a side of veggies.  The place really [email protected] you a feel for rural small town Wisconsin.

On Thursday morning, I headed to Stoughton for the next few days.  I stayed at Dawn’s house, but stopped to see Pat and Tracey first.  It has been way too long (since June) and it was so nice to feel their hugs and just to hang out.  I stayed until about 7:30, then went to Dawns and spent the evening with her.  We went to see her Mom on Wednesday morning. Wanda is in her end of life stage, in her home but under 24/7 care by Hospice nurses and her children. She was very tired after a bath and bed change, she knew who I was but wasn’t talking at all.  All I could do was tell her I loved her and hold her hand for a bit.  It is so sad, but she is ready to go.  I spent the rest of the day with Pat.

On Saturday morning, Pat and I prepared the meat for the slow cooker for our Birrea Bowl dinner that night and then I went back to Dawn’s to get ready to go to my cousin Jo’s Celebration of Life in Janesville. Dawn, Jonnie, Mary, and I all drove together to O’Riley & Connor’s Irish Pub (one of Jo’s favorite places).  Many had her favorite cocktail, a Lemondrop Martini, and toasted to her and whatever connection we had. It was attended by all of her family and lots of friends and that is exactly what she was all about her entire life.  It was upbeat but also very emotional and I am going to miss our periodic chats and getting together whenever we could.  She and her dog Buster are in the urn together and will be buried near her parents in Janesville.

I joined Pat and Tracey for dinner when we got back home.  I went to bed thinking that five days was plenty and since I had planned to only be with Pat for part of the day (he heads back to work part-time on Monday since his surgery in June), I decided to head back home on Sunday. That is exactly what I did the last time I was there. Five days of activity was plenty and I was ready for the long drive to be back home.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Sunday, September 18, 2022, MN

It’s been ten days since I’ve written and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  There’s not much to write about last weekend, so I’ll just skip past that and on to this week that was quite eventful.  I met with the Stampin Up group on Monday afternoon and Pat brought a delicious Peach Cake and Cinnamon Ice Cream for the Hostess Treat.  I also received some items that I had ordered and immediately knew that the stamp pads were going to be useless to me.  One was way too large and the other was a duplicate of some that I was just given by Judy - so I have dealt with out distributor to get them exchanged and my credit used.  We made some cute cards this time, so don’t be surprised if one of these is in your mailbox one day.

Our building manager asked me if I was interested in helping her plant some Mums in the planters in front of our building, so Tuesday morning she and I pulled out some of the Petunias and declining summery plants and replaced them with the Mums - a nice project to work on.

I made a couple of trips to Ben and Jill’s Minneapolis home and packed up books and wall art and cleaned out the kitchen cabinets for them this week. The movers came yesterday and they emptied the house, garage, and got the trampoline from the back yard. I offered to do the final cleaning but it will have to wait until I get back from Stoughton on the 26th.

I had an appointment to see an Orthopedic Doctor on Thursday to check my Achilles Tendon that is large and sticks out for the back of my heel.  I learned that it is Tendonosis - a condition that is slightly worse than Tendonitis, but I am not at risk for further injury to the Achilles’ tendon.  The tissue surrounding the tendon has micro-tears and can usually be treated with a therapy called Graston and I will need to start on therapy when I get home from Stoughton. 

Joey had an appointment for a booster vaccine on Friday and I had his nails trimmed, so all is good with him.  After his appointment, I headed over to get Camille and Norah for a sleepover, so they would be out of the way for the movers.  We had Hot Dogs and Mac-n-Cheese for dinner, went for a walk and watched The Minions 2 movie before going to bed.  Everyone went right to sleep and had a good night’s sleep.

Yesterday, we were on the move, starting with the Farmer’s Market so I could stock up on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Apples - ‘tis the season. We also went to an art fair and a stop at one of their favorite stores - Hobby Lobby.  When we got back, we walked to the school playground and had a makeup session back at home.  

After a short rest for me and some screen time for them, we headed out to the Mpls house to pickup a forgotten item, made a stop at Brasa to get takeout food for dinner, and out to the fully furnished new house for our first family gathering for dinner including all three grandparents and some relaxing time on the beautiful deck.  Whew! What a week!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Thursday, September 8, 2022, MN

Over the weekend, I learned just why Joey may have been given up and taken to the Humane Society. It seems that he may have been fed people food - by hand and possibly at the table.  Every time I sit down at the table, eating or not, he stands back, jumps, barks, and tries to grab my hands to chew and lick on them.  I have taken to keeping him on the leash that gives me more control and I’m able to stop the undesired behaviors.  He is much calmer when on the leash and has no problem with the crate and is calm when he comes out of it.  He is definitely going to take some work to teach him the most important commands like sit, down, stay, off, and definitely no.  

My granddaughters started at their new school on Tuesday and so far the report from Ben have been positive.  There is some talk of ‘making friends’ and there has been no resistance to going.  They met some neighbors over the weekend and learned a bit more about their new neighborhood - some walking and biking paths and a way to get to downtown Excelsior.

First Day of School

This morning, Joey also showed some undesirable behavior when we met Karen in the hall and she calmly put her hand out to him and he barked and snapped at her.  He did the same to the apartment manager when I got back home and came in through the lobby.  This is not acceptable and I’m going to have to learn how to break it.  

We walked the Nine Mile Creek trail for a couple of miles this morning.  Already there are a few signs of fall’s approach, as some leaves are turning and starting to fall off the trees.  There was a fall-like feeling in the breeze.

I was able to get in to see the Dermatologist this week, as I discovered two more spots of hair loss on top of my head.  Again, it is the autoimmune Alopecia that is attacking my hair follicles, and was treated with several steroid injections at each site with a follow-up appointment scheduled for December.  

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Saturday, September 3, 2022, MN

The busy week continues but I think today might be a lazy day at home for me - I am so ready to not have a day full of activity.  I love my family and I’m not complaining, but they sure do wear me out some times.

Ben dropped the twins off on Thursday morning and I fixed them a good breakfast of blueberry pancakes, bacon, and peaches before we headed to the zoo.  It’s been a year since we went and the last time was kind of a bust as it was still Covid times and they were understaffed, concessions were all closed, and there wasn’t much animal activity.  Today was a different story and there was plenty of activity and Norah was really into taking photos and they were both into playing on the playgrounds.  I still get nervous when they are out of sight, but I tried to tell myself that there was only one way out and I could just let them run and play, but my years of caring for kids wouldn’t let me do that.  I had to at least keep them in my view from a distance.  It was a fun day and after a few hours, the zoo was enough for all of us. We went back to my apartment before meeting up with Jill who was doing pickup duty with Charlotte at Bakken Camp.

I’ve decided that I am going to be Joey’s groomer, have been watching videos on You Tube, and have ordered the necessary supplies and tools (the cost of a one-time groomer). Today might just be the day and I need to remember to take before and after photos.  

This afternoon was the Big Show for Charlotte and the kids that attended Camp Innovation at the Bakken Museumand family is invited to see them present their inventions.  The  students participate in games, work on group problem-solving challenges, learn about electricity and circuits, take part in hands-on safety training with the tools in the makerspace, engage in activities to inspire creativity, and put together daily take-home, science-based magic tricks. Students work with camp staff to create their own original creations utilizing the Bakken Museum's invention process: think it, make it, improve it, show it.

Charlotte and Charli

Piemon, a character from her role-playing video game of Genshin Impact. Her crown has a switch that turns on a light on her crown.  The light changes color.

We had a birthday party for her at the new house with pizza, cake, and ice cream. It’s hard to believe this kid has now been with us for 11 years.  She has a sweet personality, is very generous with her hugs, can be testy at times and is full of interest for reading, gaming, and hanging out with her besties.  I look forward to seeing what her future is like.

She got Nintendo for her birthday (for the family to share).

My First Attempt

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Wednesday, August 31, 2022, MN

I picked Norah and Camille up at the Quinn’s house on Monday morning for a sleepover.   Also, we were meeting up with my friend Diane and four of her granddaughters at Fireman’s Park so my girls could meet her girls and have some play time.  I’ve got to hand it to Diane for taking on such a big task - her girls are ages 7, 6, 4, and 2 plus she had her dog Bella with her. We played at the playground, at the splash pad, they walked Joey on the boardwalk, had lunch, and the option to swim (her girls loved it, mine thought it was too cold).  It was a fun time.

When we got back to my apartment, we spent the rest of the day just hanging out, having dinner and watching a movie before settling in for the night.  They are perfectly content to watch a show while I take a much needed, short nap.

I let them sleep in Tuesday morning and they didn’t get up until almost 10 am.  I wanted to take Joey to Petsmart and see how he reacted in the grooming area.  Same behavior as Sunday - he wouldn’t let a groomer near him and tried to snap at her when she reached out to touch him.  Now, I’m starting to think that it is the place that sets him off - so any tables and several dogs at different stages of grooming.  I made another appointment for the 8th and will see if we can make a few visits there to help him get more comfortable.  Fingers crossed.  The girls loved checking out all of the animals and decided they would try to convince their parents to let them have a Guinea Pig or Hamster.  Good luck.

They just love going to the Dollar Tree, so we did that and they loaded up on candy and a toy to take home to Yoshi.  After some playtime at the school playground, we drove out to the new house (it is theirs as of today) and then went to have dinner at the Quinn’s.  It was a short but sweet visit, as I had offered to swing by the Sheridan Ave house to shut the lights out and close the drapes (there was a showing today).
The New House

I met Ben at the Sheridan house this morning and we had some lunch and then proceeded to pack up the kitchen cabinets and the food, bathroom stuff, and cleaning supplies and loaded it into the van for their first night at the new house.  Their furniture remains at this house for showings and they have air beds setup in the bedrooms.  While there, we also gave the grass and outdoor plants a good watering.

I talked with Pat this morning and he is still working on recovery from his surgery.  He was excited to say that he was able to walk with his own shoes on today for the first time (he has been wearing a boot for many weeks now), although it was pretty painful.  Part of his therapy is to walk with his shoe on an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and he will see the surgeon again next week. Hopefully, he can start back to work with light duty after that.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Sunday, August 28, 2022, MN

I picked Charlotte up from a sleepover at her friends house on Friday and we got to have a sleepover together.  We walked to the Pet Store so I could get Joey a Kong toy to entertain him.  After his walk, we headed to the outlet mall to shop for a birthday gift for Charlotte.  We put Joey in his crate and he started yapping as soon as the door was closed, so we waited a bit and it stopped after about 5 minutes - a behavior that I will have to work on.  Neither of us were very impressed with the mall - it was messy and not much that she was interested in, so I told her I would get her a gift card from Target.  She did get some earrings at Claire’s.  Jill picked her up yesterday morning, as they were going to the State Fair to see a concert that night.  This is how she got herself ready in the morning (not sure if the makeup is parent approved - I have a feeling that it will be redone).  I think it’s a bit much for an (almost) 11 year-old.  The shirt cracked me up - Ben has held onto it for at least 25 years.

Joey has been coughing quite a bit, so I called and the clinic was able to get him in to be checked for Kennel Cough. It is a mild case - no treatment necessary but I need to keep him away from other dogs for now. He has no other issues, so I’m glad I got him in and we can start with a clean slate.  Every day he becomes more settled with his new lifestyle.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Saturday, August 27, 2022, MN

Wow! I have lots to write about this weekend - some good, some very sad.  The sad first. My sweet cousin JoAnne passed away early Thursday morning.  It is sad that we had a great weekend together back in May and we did not speak to each other since then.  It was only a couple of weeks later that she texted me with the news of her Leukemia diagnosis and she wasn’t up to talking, but open to texting.  So we communicated via text for a few weeks, then the only communication was with her daughter Stacy and then I learned that she was in hospice and only had a few days to a week to live.  So the good about Jo is that she loved life to the max - a life that was full of ups and downs but she has a beautiful, loving family and lots of friends, she traveled a lot, lived overseas for a while and loved to have fun. She was game for any adventure. Rest In Peace, dear Jo - I’m really gonna miss you.

The good thing that happened on the 24th was that I adopted my new four legged companion, a 15#, 1.5 year old Yorkie/Shih Tzu (aka Shorkie) and I gave him the name of Joey - in memory and in honor of cousin Jo. She would love it!  So Tuesday evening, I was perusing the pet rescue sites and expanded my search out to 100 miles and the little guy (Coco) popped up on the Hawk Creek Humane Society in Willmar’s website.  On Wednesday morning, I called them right away, they told me there hadn’t been any interest and I decided to take the 2-hour drive to go and meet him. He was very timid and a matted mess, but eased over to me cautiously and it was instant love.  The only thing I know about his background is that he came from a household with lots of kids and lots of dogs and very little structure.  Other than vomiting in the car on the way back home, he was calm and restful and well behaved at Petsmart where we stopped to get food and treats. Neither of us slept well that first night, but once I got a crate from Ben, we both got good night’s sleep and he doesn’t mind the crate until I walk out the door (will have to work on that behavior).  We are bonding, learning some new ground rules, meeting neighbors and family and settling in.  He is a sweet little guy and I think we will both be happy together.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Saturday, August 20, 2022, MN

I helped out with the Food Truck on Wednesday and they were short of drivers this week, so they arrived a bit later than usual.  After that, I had volunteered to help Ben out by driving his van that was loaded with junk for the dump, but he called to say that long waits are expected there and he would come up with an alternate plan.  I had gotten some extra produce from the food truck, so I dropped that off at their house anyway.

I got the urge to bake cookies on Thursday night and the batch of “Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies” was so large that I set aside a container to deliver to the family and still had enough to share with several of my neighbors.  They are yummy!

Patrick turned 53 today - dang, that is hard to believe that I have a son that old.  He and I had a very nice, long conversation on the phone.  Hopefully, I will make it down there in he next few weeks.

Jill and Ben’s house went on the market yesterday and they are all staying at her parent’s house, so I delivered the cookies there and Ben and I went and had coffee. My fingers, toes, legs and hairs are crossed that they get a good offer quickly and put those worries behind them and move on.

This morning, I went to a Humane Society event to see what they had, hoping that there might be some small dogs who weren’t listed on their website. Nope.  I guess I’ll just have to check the site daily, as they said they get posted each morning.  I’m thinking that I will have to give up on a rescue group as an option for a dog for me, as their dogs are really pricey, most in the $300-500 range with very specific requirements for companion animals and fenced yards.  It really closes the door for me and lots of other seniors who would give loving homes but have limited funds.  I’m not giving up, but will have to be patient and hope for word of a dog with a private adoption.  It sucks!

I’ve gotten bad news on three of my cousins this week and I can’t stop thinking of them.  I learned that Wanda is in rehab after a stroke a couple of weeks ago and will not be able to return to her home. Kenny is suspected to have had a stroke while at their condo in Florida, but I haven’t gotten any updates since then.  JoAnne is under hospice care with a very short prognosis after learning that she has leukemia just a few weeks ago.  Her sister Carole is there with her and said she still has funny things to say, but is getting weaker every day.  I feel so sad about all of them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tuesday, August 16, 2022, MN

I had a fun and creative experience last night when I was asked if I wanted to be involved in assembling wedding invitations for the daughter of our Assistant Manager.  Cynthia and her partner Stefanie are getting married in October and they are having a huge wedding.  Several of her friends and about six residents showed up to help. There was an assembly line for the invitations that had about eight different parts to put together and also an assembly line for the pretty light-up wands that will be waved to the couple when they leave the reception.  We added flowing ribbons and bells.  It was fun and there will probably be another meet-up scheduled to finish the wands - we did about half of them last night.  I will be sure to get photos the next time around.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Sunday, August 14, 2022, MN, MI

Bob and Penny headed back home on Thursday. I sure appreciate that they came up for a visit and I really enjoyed their company.

I heard from Ben on Friday that they were heading back home and would arrive later in the evening. After my morning walk with Yoshi, I did a batch of laundry, touched up on the sinks and floors and took a nice nap in the afternoon. I loaded my car and headed back home about 8:00 after taking Yoshi for an evening walk.  He is such a good boy.

My neighbors Deb and Judy and I went to the VFW again on Sunday. This time the music was rhythm and blues and there was some really good talent to enjoy. We also said hello to Deb’s friend Mike who was there drumming again.  A couple of hours was enough and it just feels good to get out and enjoy the music in an environment that is comfortable and safe.

I met with the Stampin Up group on Monday afternoon and we celebrated the birthdays of Pat and Diane and made two very pretty cards, a Holiday card and a Thank You card.  I reached out to the leader for some suggestions on how to embellish the stitched cards that I currently make and she had some good suggestions.

Tuesday was a busy day from morning to night.  I took my car to Costco in the morning to have the tires rotated and checked out - all is good there.  In the afternoon, I made a (sort of pretty) little mosaic bird at the monthly art class with Genevieve. It is always a good time and it’s fun to learn something new.

After art class, I headed off to Linden Hills Park to pick up the girls after camp.  I brought some snacks with me as they had a tight schedule and I had to get Charlotte to her to swim team at the YMCA by 5:15, then Jill fed the twins and dropped Camille off for her swim team before heading to a work meeting. When Ben got off work, he came to pick them up and we had a small window of time to visit before Camille finished and then I came back home.

On Thursday afternoon, I loaded up my car and headed to Mass City, MI for a weekend with Carol and Richard who I haven’t seen since 2019.  It was a very scenic six-hour drive that took me through Wisconsin to Wausau, then north through Merrill, Rhinelander, and Eagle River before crossing into Michigan and getting to Mass City.  I arrived about ten minutes after they did and then we talked until midnight before going to bed.  

Friday was a busy day with a drive through Houghton and on through a tunnel of forest trees and outcroppings of deep, gray rock and views of sparkling lakes along the route to Copper HarborWe drove to a scenic overlook on Brockway Mountain and got a good view of Copper Harbor,  a quaint little town with a population of 125, known as the Gateway to Isle Royale National Park.

Carole and I at the scenic overlook.

On the way back home, we stopped at Quincy’s in Dollar Bay for lunch. They wanted to take me by the Gay Bar (the bar in the small community of Gay) but the road was blocked for construction.  

Their friends Jean and Tom came over for dinner and we had an evening of good conversation and I learned a lot about what life is like here in this part of the country.  Life here centers around the outdoors - forests and lakes, cabins, hunting, fishing, saunas, ATVs, and snowmobiling.  Around here, the busiest time of the year is the winter with swarms of people coming in to take advantage of the snow and the high quality trails. And that is what drove Richard to buy the place up here and he absolutely loves Michigan and I can see why - it is beautiful country.

Jean talked about her neighbor Patsy and thought that she was from Bloomington. A few text messages back and forth confirmed that she doesn’t live too far from me and would be interested in getting to know me.  What a small world it is!

Sunday was another day of sightseeing when we took a drive to the Lake of the Clouds scenic overlook and then hiked in to see several waterfalls in the Porcupine Mountain State Park along Presque Isle Road. 
Lake of the Clouds

Carol and Richard at the Waterfalls

A Sampling of the Beautiful Waterfalls

Before heading back home, we stopped at Jean and Tom’s cabin on Lake Gogebic and they invited their neighbors, Patsy and Charlie over so Patsy and I could meet.  Jean served some delicious, fresh out of the oven Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies to us.  Patsy and I talked a bit and decided to meet up some day for coffee and get to know each other better. It will be nice to have a friend who lives outside my community. 

We stopped at Tieg’s Bar, a Mass City landmark, for dinner and I had a delicious Queso and JalapeƱo Burger and a Keweenaw (spelled kee-we-naw) Red Jacket Amber beer.  Both were yummy.

I was on the road this morning by 9 am, ready for the long six-hour drive back home.  It was uneventful and I decided that I have now seen the scenic routes and will just hit the highways in the future in hopes of shortening the drive.