I am thankful for all of you
1 November, All Saint’s Day, Roswell GA USA
Flew to Atlanta this morning to spend a long weekend with my friend Kathy whose husband Chuck died of cancer on 31 July. Kathy and I met in the mid-1980s when she attended the Y’s Way to Fitness class that I taught every Saturday morning at Northwest YMCA. I started doing that so I’d exercise during grad school and continued with it to help manage my stress during my divorce. Kathy and I bonded going through our divorces and starting to date again. Ah, the stories.
Despite predictions of rain, the Atlanta weather was beautiful. Kathy met me at the MARTA station which was near her office. After a brief stop there, we headed into rush hour traffic for the drive to Roswell, where she lives. Dinner tonight will be at Mambo Jambo, a seafood restaurant with a Latin flavor. Sounds wonderful.
I knew that Chuck had spent his entire career in the music industry. After I met him, I discovered that I had several tapes of music compilations that he’d produced. Kathy showed me his music room in their house, and the walls are lined with many thousands of tapes, cassettes, CDs, LPs, 45s ... with gold records for songs that I didn’t know he’d produced, like Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and Johnny Mathis’ “Too Much Too Little Too Late” among others ... with photos of Chuck with clients and friends like Wolfman Jack, Liza Minnelli and Lucille Ball, Lorrie Morgan. And he kept meticulous records. For now, Kathy’s left everything in tact other than moving a comfy settee in for quiet reflections and moving his desk to another room.
Finally met Kathy’s “Ya-Yas,” after hearing so much about them. I managed not to get lost driving Chuck’s CRV to the cafe where they have breakfast after their Saturday run. They are a wonderful supportive group of women that I really liked (and you never do know if you’re going to like your friend’s friends!). Wish I could run again.
I’m pooped. We walked for about 90 minutes in a forest preserve near the Roswell Mill, very hilly but a beautiful place to hike. Kathy organizes a trail run in this park, which I cannot imagine running. I had trouble walking over the roots and rocks. But we encountered a friend of hers who was on a trail-run workout.
Kathy and Chuck’s church had a remembrance service this morning that we attended. Chuck was part of a photo montage of members who’d died in the past year. When they asked about non-members who’d died, I stood in remembrance of David. I’m glad we went. It was a lovely way to remember old friends.
This has been a weekend of beauty. Yesterday we went to Gibbs’ Gardens about 45 minutes north of here. Jim Gibbs, the developer, owned a landscaping company. Having decided he wanted to design a world class garden, he traveled the world for 15 years looking at gardens. In the 1980s he found the perfect site in the mountains of northern Georgia -- nearly 300 acres on which he developed three “feature gardens” -- a Monet lily pond, a Japanese garden and the terraced gardens at the manor house. Given the variety of deciduous trees, the range and intensity of colors we saw were incredible. The Japanese maples in particular were remarkable and defied my ability to get a good photo. Kathy had a special app on her iPhone that allowed her to make this postcard from shots she took.
|Kathy's post card|
That night we met Jan and Mike, David’s brother and wife, for dinner in Old Roswell. We wandered the quaint town before going to the restaurant that Kathy recommended, Table & Main. It’s so popular that we couldn’t get an advance reservation, but the intrepid Jan got us to the top of the waiting list. The cioppino that I had on Friday was fantastic; the vegetarian plate that I assembled from the eight or so local and fresh offerings was equally excellent. The mac and cheese was made with Velveeta! We had a delightful evening of wine, food and good company.
4 November, Atlanta GA
Had coffee with Joy this morning before going to the airport. Joy worked for IBM which allowed employees to do volunteer work. She was a volunteer expert on the USAID project I led in Macedonia. Since I had an afternoon flight, Joy offered to meet me in Buckhead, where Kathy’s office is located. It was great to see her and catch up with what she’s been doing since retiring from IBM.
5 November, Minneapolis MN
After all of the delicious food I’ve eaten in the last days, it felt good to be back in Lindsay’s power water ex class this morning. I need to weigh myself on Saturday to see if I’m anywhere near my goal. (I only weigh on Saturdays so I don’t get paranoid.) It’s been more than a year since I did the cleanse/detox that started me on this weight loss, and I am determined to make it permanent. So far, so good!
11 November, US Veterans Day and Poland’s Independence Day
|My friends Bonnie & Gary's front yard|
Originally Armistice Day, marking the end of “the war to end all wars,” the holiday morphed into a general day for remembering and honoring war vets in the US. In Poland, it’s independence day since, after more than 100 years of being partitioned, Poland’s three parts were reunited into one nation after World War I.
It’s been a busy week. Celebrating birthdays (mine late and friend Susan’s early), seeing old friends (Cathy R. and Marilyn R.), visiting my oldest MN friend Lois in Northfield and starting to organize her memoir stories completed, lunching with my late son’s friend Hans at the gorgeously renovated Union Depot, cleaning up and organizing niece Tomery’s apartment for the move to New York, enjoying fish and chips with friend Marilyn C. Whew. And people ask how I keep busy in retirement.
Picked my sister up at the airport on Wednesday afternoon; she was returning from New York where she had deposited Tomery and a car loaded with clothing and shoes. Have I told you enough times that my niece got a huge promotion to help open a new “diamond” LifeTime Fitness in Westchester? Ok, I have. But I am so proud of her and what she’s accomplished, not always under the easiest of circumstances. As I predicted, the road trip was an adventure; I followed on text messages while in Atlanta. After getting a late start, they drove all the way to Indiana on Friday night ... but made a wrong turn leaving their hotel on Saturday. The “Welcome to Michigan” sign was a good hint that they’d gone almost an hour the wrong way. But they made it and Tomery is getting situated at her cousin Jessie’s for the time being. And Barbara had some time in NYC with a college friend.
I miss Lily. Chris came for dinner on Sunday and took her home with him. I know I can’t have a cat right now, much as I’d like one. I’m traveling too much and am not ready to give that up. But it was awfully nice having someone waiting at the door when I came home.
My friend Hala’s mother died yesterday. Close to 90 with dementia, she got up in the middle of the night one day last week and fell down the three stone steps to the front door. She was hospitalized, had had surgery and died peacefully after having a good meal and animated conversations with her daughters.
Mrs. Kozłowska epitomized the warmth and inclusiveness of Polish hospitality. She always made me feel welcome. I remember when I was living in Sandomierz the first time, she was raising turkeys. She got very upset because Hala wouldn’t let her kill a turkey for me for Thanksgiving. Hala knew that I was going to Kraków for the holiday. So instead, she gave me homemade white cheese and the thickest cream I’ve ever seen. It’s going to seem strange to visit next month and not have her around. Yes, she could be pain in the patoot in recent years because of her strong independence despite her deteriorating mental and physical condition, but she was also a kind, friendly woman, and I’ll miss her.
What month is this? We have had such glorious autumn weather the last few days, it feels more like early October. I just walked back from downtown in my fleece jacket.
Yesterday I met the movers at Tomery’s and watched while they packed the remainder of her worldly possessions. They were quite efficient, even though I forgot to reserve the loading dock and freight elevator. Didn’t know I had to and someone else had. They refused to use the front entry with their UHaul ... so that’s were the moving van parked and they used the regular elevator quite handily.
|My bakers, Ada & Lydia|
A rainy dreary day is a fantastic day to bake cookies. I am so glad that I’d arranged for my friend Jodi and her daughters, Ada and Lydia, to come over to do that today. Ada and I made ginger bread people dough from scratch in the kitchen while on the dining room table, Jodi and Lydia cut sugar cookie dough that Jodi brought from home. We cut and baked and frosted for almost three hours, then took a pizza break. After decorating the final dozen cookies, we tasted our efforts and declared them definitely acceptable. Then played the Minnesota game that Lydia found on an end table. It’s just a simple plastic box of small cards with Minnesota questions on them (a gift a year or so ago from Sabrina, Mark and Christopher). A delightful day.
A blustery winter day weather wise but made enjoyable by spending time with friends attending a concert by the St. Catherine Choral Society. My friend Sabrina sings alto with them. I ran into her husband and son, Mark and Christopher, as I arrived, and we joined friends of Mark and Sabrina’s for the concert and dinner afterwards. Now I’m at home in my sweats with my feet up after finishing the ironing. Time to relax and watch a couple of my favorite television programs, The Good Wife and The Mentalist.
I tried to call Hala this evening, but the connection was awful. We could barely hear each other through the loud, heavy static. I did hear Hala say their land line was “broken.” Will try her at work tomorrow.
Can’t believe this week. I am rarely this scheduled. Had an awesome ego boost at a Tuesday morning breakfast meeting. I went to a Minnesota Trade Office event because the presentation was on Macedonia and I know two of the presenters from my days there: Zoren is now the Macedonian ambassador to the US and Vlado is deputy prime minister for economic affairs. Wasn’t sure if they’d remember me and to my surprise it was a bit like old home week. Zoren even introduced me when he opened the session. Made lots of good contacts and am having lunch next week with one. He’s interested in exploring overseas expansion for the firm where he works. Lunch with friends Ted and Patrick meant lots of good conversation, early evening condo board meeting at which we finally decided to do something about our lackadaisical management company rep. Yesterday I enjoyed a delightful lunch with Marilou to belatedly celebrate my birthday. We went to Outback Steak House since we were both craving meat. I’ve already put to work the cute wine-bottle stopper she gave me. Spent part of the afternoon with friend and former client Julie whose antique shop may be put out of business when Central Avenue closes while a railroad overpass is redone. Then dealt with Comcast because my Internet was slow and On Demand wasn’t working at all. Believe it or not, I’ve had good luck with Comcast in the past. But this time was a nightmare …the service tech was on time and great, but the process of setting that up … but it’s working again.
Today I overslept so I walked for exercise — home to downtown Target, bus to the post office, walk to St. Anthony Main for a Meetup called Get Out Get Social. We saw 12 Years a Slave. It was to be a triple treat, movie, walk and happy hour. However, the intensity of the film just didn’t square with happy hour at Whitey’s, a nearby bar/grill that I normally would enjoy. Another woman in the group felt similarly, and we went to a cafe near the theater for coffee. On the walk back home I stopped to see my niece Michelle and to pick up a few groceries at the new downtown Whole Foods.
22 November, 50th Anniversary of the day President Kennedy was shot
Can’t think of anyone in my generation who can’t answer the question, “Where were you when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot?” For us, this was a defining event, not unlike Pearl Harbor for our parents.
At about 1:15 pm CST 50 years ago, I was crossing Sheridan Road in Evanston Illinois (just north of Chicago), going from the main Northwestern University campus to University Avenue. A dorm friend, Ann, who was in the same 12 pm freshman English class, and I heard the rumor from students passing in the other direction. We thought it was some hot head who’d taken a pot shot at JFK and joked about her Texas friends who might’ve done such a dumb thing. A block closer to ivied Willard Hall, we learned the truth, that the president had been shot and was likely dead … and along with so many others, were glued to the television for days.
I won’t wax poetic about Kennedy’s life-cut-short, presidency, legacy. I don’t know what he might have accomplished or not if he’d finished his term, been re-elected and lived to a ripe old age. He will forever be 46, vibrant, charismatic, and inspiring hope in millions.
My nephew John is getting married in February! I met his now fiancee Heather when I was in Brainerd last month, and she’s a lovely young woman. I’m excited for them and for all of us to celebrate such a happy occasion.
Have I told you that I’ve taken up knitting again? My Granny taught me way back when I was a kid, and I’ve knitted at various times since then. Even made a fisherman’s knit sweater for my then husband back in ’69. I re-started knitting on a baby sweater for Hadassah, the Jewish women’s organization that lost its money to Bernie Madoff. My friend Jan, a beautiful and prolific knitter, was making a scarf, so I volunteered to help too. Finished the sweater today and have decided I’ll give it to my friend Aleks’ new baby daughter (we worked together in Belgrade). I also made a rainbow hat for my nephew’s son for Christmas and another for Franiu in Warsaw.
28 November, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Chanukah
An unusual convergence of two holidays that make celebrating double the eating! Unfortunately that’s something I won’t be doing. I was so looking forward to dinner at a favorite St. Paul restaurant, Pazzaluna, with my sister, nephew and his girlfriend. And Barbara reported this evening that their dinner was spectacular, just the right portions of turkey, dressing, etc. leaving room for a to-die-for white chocolate tiramisu for dessert.
Yesterday I felt yukky, no specific symptoms, just all-over yukky, so I went to water ex, thinking that would help. It didn’t; I still felt miserable. And shortly after my usual rice-cakes-with-almond-butter and coffee breakfast went down, it came back up. It was coupled with severe (baby-delivery level) abdominal pains. And that’s when I realized that my diverticulitis was acting up. I cancelled my day’s plans and divided my time between bathroom and bedroom. Today, while I feel better, I know that continuing clear liquids is the best path to recovery before I get on a plane Sunday afternoon. Am I having fun yet?!
Feeling lots better. A few days of clear liquids has helped the gastrointestinal system, along with just laying low. By yesterday afternoon, I needed to replenish supplies and noticed the car badly needed a wash. I made a quick trip up Third Avenue South/Central Avenue to my favorite car wash, then back down to Lund’s where I got a big bowl of plain mashed potatoes for dinner along with a couple of soups, then a side trip to my sister’s to pick up packages that I’ll take to Marta in Warsaw. That was enough outing for the day. Back home, the mashed potatoes never tasted so good. I ate the whole bowl.
Today I had brunch (bland but enjoyable) with Sabrina, Mark and Christopher, and two other Peace Corps friends whom I haven’t seen in 20 years (Paul and Krysia) and their three sons and Krysia’s brother Dan. It was great fun seeing them. Dan, who’s in nurse anesthetist training here, lives just a few blocks south from me but not in a very good building. He wants to find another apartment in May, and I’ve offered to help.
|The Whole Gang|
Back home for some R&R and a visit mid-afternoon with Jan and her son Matt, him of the south of France. Another great catch-up time but I forgot to take a picture.
And tonight I went to Words by … Ira Gershwin at Park Square Theater with Linda. We’d planned on dinner at a great Thai restaurant nearby until we found a 30 minute waiting list. Wandered around a bit and found Fuji Ya, offshoot of a famous Minneapolis restaurant, and dived into wonderful Japanese cuisine. I had soup with udon and veggies, way too much even if my stomach hadn’t shrunken. The delight of Gershwin music wrapped around details about the Gershwins and their musical cohorts was a lovely want to end a crappy holiday weekend.
(And since I am late posting this, and will be even later doing written holiday greetings, let me add
to one and all.