Saturday, March 9, 2013

“And when short February’s done, ...”

11 February, Minneapolis MN USA
Will I ever stop playing ‘catch up’ on this blog?  I start every month vowing to write something each day or two, then get busy and don’t.  I so admire my friend Dan in Texas who blogged daily for years and now blogs as often as he can since his illness.  

For those who don’t follow my friend David’s progress on, he finally got to Johns Hopkins during the Super Bowl electrical outage so he got to see much of the game.  I watched with Franciszka, her friend Alexie and Antonia while we had fresh salmon and clean-out-the-refrigerator for dinner.  The leftovers were a tasty smorgasbord of salads, veggies, breads and even desserts from the previous few days.

The JHU Tumor Board reviewed David’s case on Monday and said surgery wasn’t needed at that point, rather wait-and-see while he continues treatment.  He got home on Monday, and I know he was relieved to be there after almost a week in the hospital.  He looked and sounded as good as ever.  BSI treatment went well on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I returned to Minneapolis on Wednesday night.  But first, Franciszka and I made lasagne for their dinner.  Earlier in my stay Antonia had asked if we could make spaetzles, which we did.  I had taught her how to make them on a previous trip, and Franciszka when she was 5.  We’re working on our cooking skills.

Thursday it was back to water ex at the Y, and I was overjoyed to begin with Jeri’s more gentle class.  After coffee and two hard boiled eggs at a Dunn’s Brothers Coffee, I picked up Janet to go hear former VP Al Gore at Westminster Town Hall Forum.  We weren’t early enough to get into the sanctuary, balcony or Great Hall, but another large meeting room was opened and outfitted with a big screen television.  A significant number of students from several schools were in attendance.  Before he went to speak, Gore stopped in our room to greet and thank us.  Nice touch. Much of what he had to say was politically colored, but Gore is an engaging speaker and so much less stiff than in his Veep days.  He provided lots of concrete examples and anecdotes that made listening to him very enjoyable.

After water ex on Friday, I did a lot of grocery shopping since the cupboards were bare, and a bit of cooking.  Marilyn came to dinner; she left for Paris today, her 70th birthday present to herself.  I marinated and broiled chicken, and made a “garbage salad” as old friend Dean used to call my lettuce salads, sweet corn on the cob and gluten-free corn muffins for dinner.  The muffins were delicious and the remainder are in the freezer.

My wonderful sister Barbara has been my faithful taxi driver to/from the airport lately.  Saturday I took her to dinner at a new downtown restaurant to say, “Thank you.”   She’s been wanting to try the Union Rooftop, so that’s where we went.  The Rooftop has glass panel walls and roof that will be retracted in summer.  Reminded us both of the old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh (recently replaced and demolished).  The lights at the top of the Target HQ building and a few falling snowflakes made for an interesting view.  We had fantastic service, our steaks were perfect and we opted for dessert that was well worth the calories.  Can’t wait until summer.  I’m sure the place will be packed.

My neighbor MaryAnne is off to the Bahamas for a week, so I’m on mail duty.  For some reason, neither of us had any today.  Hmmm.  We take turns collecting each other’s mail to save our sisters the trek.  She sent me an email to tell me that my passport appeared to have arrived (it had).  I was sure it would get here in time for my May trip to Poland, but am always prepared for the worst-case scenario.  They even returned my old one with all the visas.  I ordered an expanded passport so I won’t have to ask for extra pages like before ... of course, I probably won’t need them any more.  But better safe ...

Have been playing around with my online dating service.  Coffee on Wednesday with a guy from the ‘burbs who has a great smile and looks like he has a good sense of humor.  Downside is that he doesn’t like coming downtown due to traffic.  Have contacted a few others so we’ll see.  

12 February
Argh!  Didn’t exactly start this day well.  Early this morning my car got stuck in ice troughs at the top of our driveway as I was leaving for water exercise. The several-inches-of-snowfall from the previous days had been plowed by the city, leaving a pile by our exit onto Third Avenue South.  Salt had melted some of that, cars had driven through and overnight temperatures froze the path into a wild arrangement of peaks and valleys.

In my trunk was my handy bag of kitty litter, which I poured under the tires for some traction, but I didn’t make much progress.  Plus I was worried because exiting our driveway onto Third Avenue South is hazardous in the best of weather.  Cars line both sides of the driveway making visibility a nightmare.  And cars on Third rarely slow down, even if they see your hood nosing out.  I had visions of sudden traction and whizzing into the side of a passing commuter.  I was saved by three Good Samaritans -- a young man who was walking down the sidewalk stopped to help, then two who’d been waiting in the bus stop across the street came over too.  We waited for a no-traffic period, they pushed as I hit the gas, and out I finally went, safely into the street and on my way to my class, then the dentist to have my teeth cleaned, a quick bowl of soup for lunch at my old favorite place to shop, Bylerly’s in Golden Valley, and a massage.  Boy, was I ready for that!

During the day, I talked briefly to Inga.  David is doing well, and they are going to step down on his steroids again.  Those are to prevent seizures, and when he’s on the higher dosages, David morphs from the mellow, good-humored man we all know and love to a more on-edge, aggressive persona. Steroids will do that to anyone.  Our friend Kim is there this week although he’ll fly to/from NYC one day for a job interview.  (Fingers crossed for Kim.)

Since the housecleaner was arriving at 6:30, I changed my dinner arrangements with nephew Chris and his girlfriend Jen and took them to an old favorite but newly relocated restaurant, Figlio’s, rather than cooking as I’d planned.  Nice end to a long day.

15 February
Have heard from several people that they enjoyed my humorous start-the-new-year stories, and that makes me happy.  Yesterday I visited Lois, my oldest (in tenure and age) friend in Minnesota for the first time in a couple of months.  Lois was ill and for a short time hospitalized with pneumonia, plus I was in/out of MN.  But she’s better now, so I drove to Northfield for lunch and catch up.  The drive is so very midwestern -- long straight roads, 90 degree left or right turns onto more long straight roads; wide expanses of snowy farmland occasionally marked by snowmobile tracks; time to sing along to the musical compilation CDs that my friend Ted made for me when I was overseas.

Since Lois is legally blind now, one task I perform is to read her mail to her.  She had a stack of “get well” cards along with some Christmas letters, some arrived well into the new year.  One letter came from Lois’ cousin Rolf who lives in Germany.  He included detailed, numbered instructions to her on how to take better care of her eyes as well as six things necessary to fix the US economy.  Lois and I both chuckled over this letter.

It was great this week to hear from one of my best high school friends.  Marsha became a grandmother in December.  I have traditionally given US Savings Bonds to my friends’ children and grandchildren, but the new online system has made that harder.  So I think I’ll buy her grandson a Steelers shirt of some kind.

16 February
Another one bites the dust.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but this is getting ridiculous.  Today I googled another old boyfriend, someone I dated in college, and what did I find?  His obit in the Chicago Tribune from 2003.  Didn’t say how he died.  

I immediately emailed my friend Kathy in Atlanta to find out how her husband is doing.  He had the same type of tumor as David.  Chuck’s almost done with his radiation and thankfully seems to be tolerating the process okay.

And I talked to Linda (the friend I used to walk around Lake Harriet with on Mondays) and arranged to take her to the store on Monday.  She had hip replacement surgery almost three weeks ago.  She had the staples (surgeons use those instead of stitches these days) removed earlier this week and said the doctor told her she’s making great progress.

18 February
Yesterday was my “free day” in my effort to keep off the weight I’ve lost (and get ready to start losing again).  I get one free day a week, when I can eat what I want.  Usually I’ll have a small “cheat,” like dessert with dinner or some pasta or bread.  But yesterday afternoon I went to Lydia’s five-year birthday.  Lydia is my friends Jodi and Gary’s younger daughter.  Lydia and her older sister Ada are among the kids on my postcard mailing list.  Jodi had lots of nibbles, including hummus and veggies, sausage and cheese, fresh fruit salad, and POTATO CHIPS AND ONION DIP.  That’s in caps because I love potato chips (the saltier and greasier the better), and if I’m going to dip, traditional onion is my favorite.  I haven’t had a chip since late September and no onion dip in years.  And then there was the Dairy Queen ice cream cake.  Heavenly.  The whole afternoon was lots of fun.  I’d not met Jodi’s parents before (she and my late son Peter went to high school together) nor her sister and other friends (one is from Morgantown, WV, and a Steelers fan!).  We were all introduced to Wally, their new puppy with the humungous feet.  

The wind is howling outside and the temperature has been dropping all day.  The joys of winter in Minnesota.  Remind me why I’m here and not in sunny southern Florida?

19 February
Many of you have heard me say that often in Minnesota it has to get warmer to snow.  Well, we’re having one of those weeks.  Last night’s howling wind has become a brutally cold and windy day today.  One that I could not avoid venturing into.  Never put your ultra-light weight eyeglasses on top of your head when it’s that windy.  Almost lost them at the Costco gasoline pumps this morning.  Forecast is for warmer weather (read: snow) on Friday.  Oh, goody. I actually like snow.

20 February
It seems that I am stuck in weather reporting mode.  But then, it’s -25F with the wind chill today.  That’s almost -32C.  

I talked to Inga briefly yesterday.  David’s platelets are down again, so his BSI cycle is being slowed and MRI is being re-scheduled.  In the meantime, Inga has had some vision issues that are being checked.  Could just be the normal now-that-she’s-40 eye adjustments but good to check that out.

Yesterday I drove my niece Michelle to the airport, then went to nearby IKEA with a short list of items.  I only bought one more than on the list (energy-saving light bult for my storage closet in the garage).  Then it was to be on to St. Paul for lunch with Patrick, a friend from my St. Paul Companies days.  But alas, yet again we had to re-schedule.  one of Pat’s clients had a prospectus to be issued and the lawyers were still not done.  I think it was the third time we’ve done this.  Haven’t seen Pat in a long time and want to catch up and also put him in touch with some overseas contractors.  Since he has international PR experience, he’d be a good addition to appropriate contracts.  Soooo ...
I finished my IKEA trip and called my friend Sabrina in St. Paul.  After dropping off my old printer at Best Buy for recycling, I drove to Sabrina and Mark’s.  Mark was at home. Because cubicles are being downsized at his office, he’s working from home a few days.  Sabrina and I went to a nearby shish-kabob cafe for delicious Mediterranean food ... and I ran into my friend Kathy who lives way up in North St. Paul.  She was lunching with friends too.  I recently took a painting that Kathy did for framing.  Serendipity.

22 February
Are there any unmarried men of a certain age with energy?  I have come to decide the answer is an emphatic “no.”  Talked to my friend Marilou for a while this evening; she leaves for Florida at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  We decided we weren’t going dancing tonight and likely won’t go again.  Not worth the time, effort or $12 when we have to take the initiative to have a dance partner 99 times out of 100.  And online “dating” is way too time consuming when the men at the other end of our efforts offer zip, zero, nothing in the way to a decent date.  So when she returns, we’ll discuss which bars we’re going to start hanging out in.  Not.

23 February
And the snows came.  A few inches of snow were predicted for yesterday and we got at least that much.  Driving was chaotic on the freeways, but when I went to the Y at 7 am, the streets were amazingly sane.  Made to/from without even sliding.  Whew!  But I cancelled my trip to Northfield to see Lois.  We’ll get together next Friday when, I hope, there won’t be snowy roads to endure.

By evening the streets were pretty clear, and my sister picked me up on her way home, and we went to Runyon’s for buffalo wings.  This bar/restaurant is within walking distance of her condo, so after she changed and fed the cats, we walked over and chowed down on a double order of wings.  The best ever.  Good thing I got up and went to boot camp that morning (and did power ex this morning).

Happy birthday to Franciszka, David and Inga’s older daughter and my first adopted grandchild.  She’s 15 today.

As I wrote last month I’m hooked on foreign TV series that I can watch via Netflix whenever I want.  They are so much more interesting than much of what’s being broadcast these days. I’ve watched all of Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennyson series, Idris Alba as Luther, Elizabeth George’s Lynley series and many more.  I just finished my latest, and this one took place in Scotland.  In the process I acquired another crush on a main character, this one plays a younger son who ends up as laird of the clan and castle in the Highlands.  Alistair MacKenzie plays this boyishly good looking, somewhat tortured soul who ends up marrying the housekeeper, “fixing” the failing estate and eventually leaving for New Zealand.  The actor left the series before it ended, which reduced my interest. So I skipped ahead and watched the final episode for a sense of closure.  Must search Netflix for films MacKenzie may have made.  And I’ll have to search Netflix for my next European series.

27 February
Temps above freezing mean it feels like spring.  Had the car washed yesterday, finally, so I’m dodging puddles of dirty snow melt everywhere.

David’s platelets were still too low to re-start the chemo this week.  He’ll have an MRI and see the oncologist after his chemo on Tuesday.  I’ve made reservations to fly to DC on 13 March for three weeks.  I’ll dog sit while the family attends David’s niece’s wedding in Atlanta, then the last week of the month we’ll all go to the Maryland shore for the girls’ spring break.  Where we’re staying is about the same distance to JHU as their home, so we’ll all go together. David and Inga will commute from the shore.  It will be a nice break for everyone.

Sorry, no photos this month.  

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