Friday, December 30, 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022, MN

What a lovely day today has been.  I had Norah and Camille overnight last night so Jill and Ben could have a break and a dinner together. We had planned to do some crafts but by the time we got through dinner, it was too late to get started or we wouldn’t have time to watch a movie (the priority these days).  We snuggled in and watched “Hotel Transylvania 3” - one that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did.  We settled in for bed and all slept until 8:00 this morning.

The plan for today was to return the outfits that I gave the girls for Christmas (didn’t fit) and to choose a replacement.  They ended up getting pictures for their bedroom at Hobby Lobby and a gift card for Charlotte.  I took them home and then we all (except Charlotte who needed some quiet time after several nights of sleepovers with friends) went to the Carver County Off-Leash Dog Park.  What a beautiful area near Victoria, MN, just west of Chanhassen.  Joey had a blast and ran steadily for almost 40 minutes.  

Back at their house, we played a game of Blokus, one of the games the girls got for Christmas.

I’m now settled into my living room, Joey is crashed, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Wednesday, December 28, 2022, MN

I started to write yesterday, but got interrupted by an impatient dog.  With the latest cold weather, he hasn’t gotten a lot of exercise other than playtime.  Let’s see how it goes today, although he has just dropped his tug toy at my feet. Problem solved - he just got a bully stick to focus on. 

Ben dropped Camille off last Friday afternoon for a sleepover and we had fun setting up the Right/Left Christmas game to play on Christmas Eve, we did a little watercolor painting, had pizza, and watched the movie “Slumberland”. Camille had seen it before, but she thought it would be one that I would like too.

On Saturday, we baked the Cranberry Cake and Hot Butter Sauce for our Christmas Dessert and found plenty to stay busy with until it was time to head to their house. Charlotte kept calling to see when we would be there, anxious for the Christmas Eve activities to begin. The last thing that Camille wanted to do here was for us to do each other’s makeup and she drew a really cute picture of the different makeup options. 

Jill made her Grandma Quinn’s Mulligan stew and blueberry muffins for Christmas Eve dinner and then we proceeded to open gifts until the girls just wanted to play with the ones they had, so we went downstairs and watched the latest version of “The Grinch”.  This year the girls could shop at their school for gifts for their family members and they really put some thought into the gifts that they chose. They were so excited and had to keep the secret since early November. I got a pretty scented hand sanitizer from Charlotte, Mini Lip Balms from Norah and a fancy cocktail ring with a blue stone from Camille.

Christmas PJs and gifts: smart watches, slippers, shoes, hat, computer glasses, and 
comfy lounging hoodie.

At 6:30 on Christmas morning, I heard Norah and Camille run downstairs to check their stocking, then they came up to wake Charlotte and that was the end of sleep that morning.  Jill and Ben got up and sat at the top of the stairs listening for a bit and when they went downstairs I heard Camille questioning why Santa used their wrapping paper and maybe Ben and Jill were really Santa?  Ben handled it well, asking Camille if Santa really had time to wrap all of those gifts - maybe he needed some help from Mom & Dad - and that it might just all be part of the magic of Christmas.  She gave up on the topic.

We unwrapped the rest of the gifts and then had a nice breakfast of German Pancakes, bacon and fruit. They are lucky kids and so fortunate to have the loving and caring parents that they do but I sometimes feel like it would be nice to cut back a bit.  Christmas was very decadent.

We spent the afternoon playing with gifts, prepping for dinner, doing a puzzle, watching football, and enjoying the time together.  Dinner was excellent - beef tenderloin, baked potato, sautéed Brussels sprouts, dilled carrots, and the cranberry cake with hot butter sauce for dessert.  By then, I was ready to head back home to my quiet little apartment.  It was a nice Christmas and I’m happy that it is over.

Yesterday, I got up and took down my Christmas decorations and rearranged my living room.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Monday, December 19, 2022, MN

I’m feeling sad since hearing yesterday that I have lost two more friends.  My friend Sue told me that her sister-in-law Barb (former classmate and roommate of mine) passed away last Friday. Barb suffered a type of brain tumor that accelerated dementia for her and she has been in a care facility for the last few years.  It is funny how these things happen as the day before, I was looking for a picture frame and the bin that it was in just happened to have the newspaper announcement from her and Pat’s wedding sitting right on top of all of the other mementos that I have kept all through the years. I glanced at it, didn’t read it, but it’s appearance came back to me today.  I also have a photo of Mike and I that was taken at their wedding shortly after we met on my shelf - it just got a new frame a couple of weeks ago.

While looking on the website of the Madison Newspapers for Barb’s obituary, I stumbled on the obituary of Mary Frahm, a friend from back in the 1980s when I belonged to the Madison Business Women’s Association. Mary was the local chapter President at the time and through the years, she groomed me to become the Secretary for a couple of years and eventually the President for two years.  We had an annual fundraiser, sponsoring a holiday craft show in McFarland to raise money for college students who would be future business women in the community and we met on a monthly basis and had guest speakers from local professional women.  I also worked with Mary’s mother 
Shirley and her sister Janelle and Mike and I purchased flooring materials from her business, Bisbee’s Flooring through the years.  She was very active in many community events and was a beautiful, kind, caring, fun-loving person who had an unforgettable personality. Dang, it is so sad.

I was invited to join Jill, Lois, and the girls in the first annual Christmas cookie baking day yesterday and we had a marathon. Jill and Norah made cutout sugar cookies, Camille and Lois made Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, Charlotte and I made Mexican Wedding Cookies (Snowdrops), and Jill made Spritz cookies. It was lots of fun and we had plenty of space in their beautiful new kitchen to have three teams preparing at once.

Ya gotta include a silly picture.

I ran a couple of errands today in hopes of getting everything I need for Christmas out of the way and got home and realized that I forgot to get coffee - number one on my list.  Dang it!  Then tonight on the weather report, they are saying that a big storm with snow and high winds is heading our way again.  That means I will be getting coffee and gas tomorrow so I don’t have to worry about it. I may have Grandkids here for sleepovers on Thursday and Friday as they are on winter break and Mom and Dad are still working.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Thursday, December 15, 2022, MN

Well, we are sure to have a white Christmas this year. After about five days of rain and temps in the mid-30s, we are getting dumped on and are expecting 5-8” over the next couple of days. It sure is pretty though.

It’s been a busy week starting with our Stampin Up group’s annual Holiday Party that was held at Pat’s community room at Amira (an upscale senior apartment complex).  We had a yummy lunch followed by a Zoom call with our leader Carrie (Portland, OR) and Pam who lives in Phoenix. Carrie gave us a secret Christmas project to work on and this is how mine turned out. It is a 12x12 picture that can be framed.

On Tuesday evening, the Daughters of Penelope (the philanthropic group who owns our building) put on a very nice Holiday Party with Greek food, yummy cookies & cupcakes, a visit from a very humorous Santa, and singing of Christmas Carols accompanied by Dave who was playing the organ.  It was nice to see people dressed up a bit and to enjoy some good conversation.

I took Joey to the dog park yesterday but we only stayed about 10 minutes as he grew tired of the dog who kept pestering him and the grounds were slushy and hard to move around in.

Mary, a local Vet Technician came here last evening and she and I went door to door clipping pet’s nails.  There are 13 pet owners in our building and 10 signed up for her service at $12 each and all are happy and she was happy to have the opportunity.  We will schedule another clinic in about 8 weeks.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Sunday, December 11, 2022, MN

Lying in bed this morning, thinking of the day it was on the calendar, I remembered that it is the anniversary of my cousin Fran’s passing, just two years ago.  After my morning shower and sitting down with my first cup of coffee, I opened my iPad and learned that my friend Carol’s Mom passed away early this morning.  It wasn’t unexpected news, but sad news just the same.

When I cleaned Ben and Jill’s home on Thursday, I learned that Norah had gotten sick and thrown up during the night and Jill thought that she might have been exposed to gluten and wondered if it might have been from an ingredient in the potatoes that I brought for dinner on Tuesday. Sure enough, it was the Campbell’s cream soups that I added (they contain wheat flour for thickening) and just that small amount made Norah get sick.  She really liked the potatoes and even went back for a second serving.  Dang, I feel like the bad Grandma. 

I ventured out yesterday to the Bloomington indoor farmer’s market and finished my Christmas shopping. The entire community center was filled with vendors and their crafts, a few peddlers of late season produce, meats and cheese, baked goods, and a few serving hot dogs and warm goodies to eat right there.  

I wrapped the gifts and put them under the tree last night, but I still haven’t come up with an idea for Pat and Tracey.  I also finished up with my Christmas cards and got them in the mail this week.

This is what my car windows looked like on Thursday morning.  I love the pattern!

Joey and I went for a walk along the 9-Mile Creek Trail this afternoon and it was beautiful but the walk is still treacherous.  They plow the paved portion, but the snow is compacted and almost to the slushy point with our warm 34° day, but still quite slippery.  The one mile that walked is probably equal to 3 miles on a dry pavement.  Still, it’s nice to be outdoors.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Thursday, December 8, 2022, MN

I have been back to feeling normal for three days now and it sure is nice.  It’s been a pretty busy week too. I helped Judy turn out about 75 Christmas Cards last Friday for the Cards for a Cause hospice group.  She puts in a lot of effort to make these beautiful cards - each card comes in a set of card, insert, all of the decorative papers and cutouts to make it look cute, all stuffed in the envelope.  All we do, is put it all together with our own little personal touch. They may have the same components but none of them look just alike.  

I really got my dates mixed up thinking that the holiday lunch for the Stampin Up group was on Monday when I thawed out my potatoes and got the Sesame Street Potato Recipe going. It was only when I was getting my cards together for each person in the group when I realized that meeting isn’t until the 12th.  I baked the potatoes and put them in the freezer for next week and took the other pan with me to Ben’s on Tuesday afternoon for dinner.  

It was nice to see the family again on Tuesday, as it’s been 2 weeks now. Everyone but Jill is fully recovered from the crud we all had. Jill is still on the recovery roller coaster - she feels back to normal one day and then has another setback.

I had an Amazon package to return, so I did some shopping on Monday and was able to finish my shopping for the girls.  The girls department was so picked over but I finally came up with a gift - now let’s hope they like it.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saturday, December 3, 2022, MN

Influenza Type A hit the Minnesota Bridge and Quinn families hard this week, affecting everyone but Charlotte who was able to go to school and her regular activities.  Norah was hit especially hard, having temps of 103° for several days.  They finally got back to school yesterday after being down for a full week.  My days have gone like this:

Day 1 - tickle in throat
Day 2 - tickle in throat & tightness in chest, feeling fatigued
Day 3 - same as Day 2
Day 4 - same as Days 2 & 3, but starting to feel better, less fatigued
Day 5 - almost back to normal but wait…started sneezing and having loose cough
Day 6 - today - constant sneezing and coughing

We got hit with an 8” snowfall on Tuesday. It started about 6am and quit about 5pm.  It was hard to clean off my car on Wednesday with my breathing issues but thanks to a relief inhaler, I got through it.  When I took Joey out for a walk, several neighbors were cleaning off their cars and Steve told me that I shouldn’t put it off until later, as the wet snow would freeze when the temps dropped and it would be much harder to clear off.  It was nice to see neighbors helping other neighbors get their cars cleaned off.  The parking lot had to be cleared on Thursday when the cleanup crew came in.  They do a really good job of keeping the lot and walkways cleared.  

Friday was nice and Joey and I were able to take a nice walk through the neighborhood.  Needless to say, he has been a bit squirrelly when we have been cooped up in the house.

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 g@ve 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