Monday, September 1, 2014

Home again, home again …

7 July, Warsaw, Poland
Ah, the wonders of technology.  Yet again I cannot check in on line with KLM.  (And of course it’s raining too.)  You may recall I had this problem when I tried to check in for Glasgow.  Today I cabbed to the airport, and even the desk reps couldn't figure out what was wrong.  Finally they were able to do something and accomplish the feat, complete with boarding passes.  Now off to dinner with Iza.

Highlights of Poland
  • While in Sandomierz, I was able to swim laps three days in a row.  Only managed 45 minutes of laps and water ex, not bad considering how little I’ve done.  Interestingly, there was no lifeguard despite half a dozen or more swimmers, including quite a few junior-high-aged kids.  I was definitely not at Blaisdell Y.
  • I love my waterproof iPod Shuffle.  Definitely helps make swimming laps less boring.
  • Halina asked me to pick up a face cleanser that she likes when I went to Rossmoor.  Thought I had the right one but got a “milk” not a lotion.  I had the receipt so told her I’d exchange it.  She was sure that was impossible.  I declared that since Poland was now in the EU, it should behave as such … and as she watched, made the exchange in my best Polish and paid the modest difference in prices.  
  • Halina’s sister-in-law Małgosia arrived from Lublin on Thursday to stay the long weekend while Hala went to a conference in Konin.  Małgosia will help Halina’s husband Michał and the day nurse take care of Hala’s invalid father; he does nothing for himself now, including eating.  I’m so glad hall finally got the nurse; now Michał isn’t stuck at home all day
  • I checked with my friend Ewa whose mother had had a stroke the day I returned to Poland.  Her mother passed away over the weekend, and Ewa was making funeral arrangements. 
  • My friend whose husband died unexpectedly earlier this year is doing pretty well under the circumstances.  I’m hoping to see her when she comes to the US to visit her family.
  • Spent a lovely morning yesterday with Franiu; he wasn’t feeling well over the weekend.  Nothing major, probably acquiring a new tooth or two.  Dorota decided to give him a “mental health” day off from preschool.  His grandmother couldn’t babysit until after noon, so I took the morning shift.  Franiu is getting used to me and was very patient with my bad Polish. I was sitting on the sofa reading when a wind up mouse crossed my path.  For the next 20 minutes or so, we aimed him back and forth between us.

Later Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, Holland
Small, small world.  The other day a friend went to the hypermarket in Warsaw and bought way more than she could schlep home on the Metro.  As she’s pondering this, who should appear and offer her a ride — Paula, a mutual friend that she hadn’t seen in ages.

So I’m waiting to get off my crack-of-dawn WAW-AMS flight.  I grab my big tote from the overhead and notice a suitcase with a luggage tag with Paula’s husband’s business card but don’t see him … then I hear Paula’s voice.  She and her daughter had been sitting diagonally across the aisle from me.  We chatted as we walked toward our transfers and promised to keep in touch.  Her daughter is moving to Belgrade to teach in the international school.  I’ll connect her with Violane, Aleksandra, Aleks and others in Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo.

8 July, Minneapolis MN USA
Home at last.  Drove to Whole Foods to stock up since my cupboards are bare.  Kept trying to shift gears with my left hand.  New habits die hard.

Minneapolis is getting ready for the baseball All-Star Game next week.  Lots of activities planned, bus routes will be altered, mobs of people will descend on downtown … and on the free parking on my street.

Craig & Alijah at the lake.
Craig is great about sending photos.
12 July
Definitely getting back into the swing of things.  Returned to water ex on Wednesday (why do I always return after a vacation on boot camp day?).  Had Connie give me a cut-and-color (I no longer look like a skunk).  Served dinner at People Serving People both Thursday and Friday evenings. 

The Light Rail’s Green Line started operation while I was overseas and runs between the two downtowns (Minneapolis and St. Paul).  Last night my sister Barbara and I will ride this new train for the first time.  We’re going to downtown St. Paul for dinner tonight at a favorite restaurant Pazzaluna. Slick.  I could have a glass of wine with dinner … two even … and not worry about driving.

Lake Harriet on a Monday walk
13 July
My feet and back are killing me.  Went to water ex, had a quick lunch, then took a bus with my sister to Uptown, the Bastille Day celebration that was benefitting People Serving People, a nonprofit helping homeless families where I often volunteer to serve dinner.  Although I wore my tennis shoes, I was mostly standing helping ensure people put their trash in the right bins (compost, recycle, landfill).  Good for the environment, but not for my bod.  Now to sit with my feet up for a while and let the naproxen kick in.

15 July
Internet working again.  Apparently “leaking” means some of the connections were not as tight as they should be.  He tightened all of them, we checked the upload and download speeds online and all is working.  Didn’t take more than 15 minutes.

16 July
Almost did it again.  Because of the All-Star Game at Target Field a few blocks from where my sister lives, parking at her condo was a nightmare.  Ditto sitting in the single-lane, one-way private street between her building and another.  Three times someone came up behind me and since I had no place to pull into, I had to go around the block … and first time I went to turn left, I caught myself heading to the left lane and quickly “righted” myself.  Street traffic wasn’t as bad as I had expected, given rush hour and All-Star activities; the game started at 7:30 pm.

I was picking up Barbara because she had redeemed Guthrie Theater vouchers for two tickets to “My Fair Lady.”  She’s a volunteer usher and gets vouchers for so many hours of work.  Anyway, the production was wonderful — beautiful voices, incredible choreography, an always-interesting story.  Easy to see why it’s been so often sold out.

Just saw in the NYTimes that Kenneth Gray died.  He was the congressman who represented Southern Illinois when I was a reporter there, a Democrat in a staunchly Republican enclave.  He was good at “pork,” every little hamlet had a post office and post master/mistress.  The local school district got more in federal aid than local taxes.  Interestingly, the obit didn’t cite his chairmanship of the committee that oversaw parks in DC. Seems to me he refused permits for the peace rally on the National Mall. 

Shortly, I’m off to the Lynx (women’s basketball) game with my friend/neighbor MaryAnne.  We’ll do lunch at the arena.

Lynx won in a closely played game.  Arena was full of summer camp/day care kids in colorful tee-shirts and good voice.  Lots of fun.  Will consider getting some tickets for next season.

18 July, Jean’s cabin near Side Lake in northern Minnesota
After a frustrating morning yesterday — my Internet worked at 7 am but not at 10, I hit the road for Jean’s cabin between Hibbing and Chisolm.  Pretty smooth trip with minimal road work delays.  Now that’s a wonder.  Although I was sure I’d remember the route, I wanted to check the last few turns so I pulled to the side of the road and got out my iPhone to check the mapping app.  I was so engrossed in that that I didn’t notice the flashing red and blue lights of a police car behind me until someone — a young police officer — rapped on my window and nearly gave me a heart attack.  I was so rattled that I couldn’t find the window buttons and opened the door a bit instead.  He just wanted to make sure everything was okay, which I confirmed.  Then we both went on our way.

Sunrise at Jean's cabin
Today Comcast is supposed to come out to finally fix things.  I talked to three different people yesterday.  I don’t think the first one knew what to do with an angry customer, and while I didn’t literally yell, I was very emphatic about my displeasure.  The second fellow did lots of diagnostics and said the problem was “outside,” not in my unit or equipment.  The third one wanted to make an appointment, and we had a clear communication breakdown which was partly my fault.  I reiterated to him several times that I would not be at home today, but he made the appointment for late this afternoon.  I suspect the repair person will want to get into my unit afterwards … Anyway, I asked my sister to check on Saturday to see if it’s working.

19 July
Text message from my sister: Internet at my place still not working.  ‘Nuff said on that.

We’ve seen a number of young deer along the road.  One was standing watching as Jean and I took our morning walk on Friday.  Today two raced across the road ahead of us when we returned from the leaving garbage and recyclables at the Solid Waste Collection Point, aka the garbage dump.

Jean’s daughter Lisa is here, and on Friday her high school friend Lori stopped for an overnight on her way to a music gig north of Duluth.  She “sang for her supper” this afternoon while we sat under the warmth of a beautiful day.  I was so relaxed that I dozed off for a few minutes.

21 July
Excruciatingly hot day … 90F+ in Hibbing MN!  Jean and I went into Hibbing for my pedicure and her manicure this afternoon.  A local friend of hers recommended a salon, and we made an afternoon — lunch, shopping, mani/pedi.  I have gorgeous toes for my new Crocs’ flip flops.

22 July
Apparently we had quite a storm last night.  Terrible winds, electricity went out for several hours, Internet not working now. As most often happens, I slept through the entire thing.  Jean said she came into my bedroom to close the window and I didn’t budge.  So it’s kinda chilly outside at 6:30 am, a far sight different from last night when I was still sweating when I went to bed.  Temp got up to the mid 90sF (high 30sC) yesterday when we went into Hibbing to run errands, have lunch and get a pedicure (me) and manicure (Jean).  Shortly I have to leave this little spot of paradise.  Going to drive the “old way” and stop in Grand Rapids for lunch with my friend Anne.  We worked together at The St. Paul many years ago, and she and her husband Peter were living in Baltimore when I was in DC helping David and Inga last year.  In the meantime, Peter retired and they returned to Grand Rapids, where they’d lived pre Baltimore.

23 July
My late mother’s 97th birthday.  My nephew says I’m turning into “the general,” as she was fondly called by her husband and kids.  And I admit, I do hear her in my voice and head way too often.  Miss her.

25 July, Minneapolis
Well, let’s see.  An uneventful drive back from “up north” after a delightful lunch with Anne in Grand Rapids.  We googled our old boss and learned that he’s mayor of a small community on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Interesting.

Have, I hope, finished with Comcast for this round, other than what I’ll pay for the month’s (lack of) service.  One rep promised me $30 off, I told the last one that I didn’t want to pay anything and yesterday I got a formulaic apology from them with a $20 credit noted.  So, I will make a call at some point today.  At least, for now, the Internet is working.

Among the throw-aways in my mail on Tuesday was a keeper — a letter from the IRS indicating they wanted more tax money for 2012.  I’ve been in touch with my investment advisor/brother and the accountant who did that return.  We disagree that I owe, so I’ll send a letter today.

Spent much of yesterday afternoon and evening finalizing last month’s blog, including uploading photos to Shutterfly and ordering some prints. Jan, who was on the Scotland trip, gave me a handmade photo book from Kenya, where she lives/works.  I want to fill it with Scotland photos.  Ordering is no easy task from Shutterfly.  It is the most cumbersome site I’ve ever tried to buy from.  They automatically list an order of one print from every photo, then you have to delete those you don’t want individually, acknowledging a popup, then scrolling back to where you were among your photos to start that all over.

Arrived at the Y this morning for my 7:15 shallow-water exercise class … and the place was in darkness.  We’d had a storm in the wee hours, one I actually heard around 5 am when I got up to close my sliding glass door.  Apparently a lot of that section of the city was without power.  Several of us decided to wait a bit, and within about 20 minutes, there was light … and class.  Now it’s kind of ugly out and I’m hoping it won’t rain out the Twins’ game that I’m going to with Susan tonight.  My first venture to the “new” stadium.

26 July
Twins lost badly to the Chicago White Sox last night … but the Polish sausage from Kramarczuk’s was fantastic.

This weekend is the annual arts’ festival in my neighborhood park.  Decided to walk over and called friend/neighbor MaryAnne who was available to go along.  Lots of interesting funky stuff that is so fitting of this neighborhood.  Diverse, eclectic, colorful.  We both bought some small handmade, fabric zippered bags to have as gifts.  

27 July
Got a great surprise when I learned that friends Jim and Irina were in the Cities from Moldova. 

Jim was the project manager for my first USAID project in 1994, the one that established the Center in Sandomierz.  For my interview, he and Halina met me at a train station halfway between Nowy Sacz, where I did my Peace Corps service, and Sandomierz, where the Center is.  When Jim asked how he’d know me, I said, “Look for the Pillsbury Dough Boy.”  It was a frigid Polish winter and although I loved my warm down coat, it did nothing to improve my appearance.  He recognized me immediately while Hala looked baffled. Pillsbury’s giggling mascot hadn’t made an appearance in Poland yet.

A few years later, when Jim accepted a job with Land O’ Lakes international development, he, Irina and Oscar, their cat, lived in my condo for three months while they looked for a house.  Jim recommended me to Kim at Booz Allen for the Macedonia job.  Jim’s and my tenures in Belgrade overlapped a little, and when I attended a wedding there a year or so later, I stayed with them.  So I was over the mountain when I had an email from Jim asking if I was in Minneapolis as they were in St. Paul.  They were here to continue the process of reducing what’s in storage after selling their St. Paul home, plus Jim has two motorcycles stored.  

29 July
Jury duty started at 1:30 yesterday afternoon.  Boring, boring, boring.  Several panels have been called but none included me.  So I read magazines and my Kindle, watched Netflix or did email on my laptop, knitted, snacked too much and chatted with my jury duty comrades.  Ditto today.  Thankfully we got out early, around 3:50, yesterday and today.

Early dinner with Marilou at Red Lobster.  Long time since I’ve been there.  Always fun to catch up with her.

30 July
Picked up my friend Kathy at the airport tonight, after the condo board meeting.  Kathy’s husband Chuck’s first yahrzeit is tomorrow.  This visit is mostly to honor that.  We’ll spread some of his ashes in places meaningful to their relationship and just visit others.  Although he was born in Florida and lived in several places before moving to Minnesota, Chuck liked this place best.  And he moved here from California in a January!  

31 July, Chuck Thagard’s yahrzeit
A pretty quiet day, Kathy ran lakes while I went to water ex.  We planned her visits to spread some of Chuck’s ashes in favorite places and met Sally for dinner at Loring Kitchen.  

My jury pool is now on call-in status.  I need to call into the courthouse at 12:15 pm and 6:30 pm to hear if I need to report.  What a pain!

1 August
Kathy went to the Uptown Art Fair with Sally and found two adorable handmade, reversible sun dresses for her granddaughters.  Absolutely beautiful, full of color and patterns and designed to be worn for several years and through any season.  She also bought a photo of Split Rock Lighthouse, where we’ll go tomorrow.  It’s gorgeous and looks more like a painting than a photograph.  Later Sally and I went to Temple Israel to her my old boss Roland speak.  He gave a bit of the synagogue’s history; his father had been one of its rabbis.  Rabbi Minda died in 1977, and I remember attending his funeral where his activism in community and Jewish causes was extolled.  It was wonderful to see Roland and reminded me that I need to organize another time when I can bring Lois to Minneapolis for another “Minda PR” luncheon.  

Kathy started the oven at Sally’s so dinner was ready when we returned from the synagogue. Lovely end to a lovely day.

2 August
A long but wonderful day.  We drove up to the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Left very early and met Kathy’s friend Nancy along the way, left her car in a hotel parking lot and continued onward.  We stopped at the halfway mark, Hinkley where Kathy indulged in a “Tobie’s famous cinnamon roll” and I in a Morning Glory muffin, and all of us in hot coffee.  Been years said I had one of those muffins and worth breaking all my eating rules to have one.  And I normally don’t stop at Tobey’s; it’s way too crowded and touristy now.  Anyway, …

Beautiful day for the trip and not much traffic heading north except on lakeside route in Two Harbors.  That town does seem to be doing well though, which is nice to see.  It’s where Grandma’s Marathon starts, so brings back memories of those three feats.  Kathy and I ran her first marathon, Grandma’s, in ’89; took us 5+ hours even on Tylenol 3 at the last big hill.  She still runs, including marathons.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Kathy & Nancy at Gooseberry Falls

We stopped at Gooseberry Falls and left a bit of Chuck.  I got post cards for my kids’ mailing list; 25 cents a card wasn’t a bad price for a souvenir shop.  Next stop Split Rock Lighthouse where we saw a brief film on the lighthouse’s origins and did a short tour.  Then we drove into the state park and found a path to the shoreline where we left more of Chuck.  Kathy connected with a former Target Corp. colleague, and he and his wife joined us for a late lunch in Duluth’s Canal Park area.  What a mad house.  Bumper to bumper cars inching along.  Amazingly found a parking space but cars were parked so poorly that I misidentified my space number and had to pay twice.  But all worth the hassle — good food, good company, good times.  The return trip was an uneventful as the morning drive had been.

3 August
Oh, my aching legs!  I think we walked 10 miles today … after exercising (I at water ex and Kathy at her LA Fitness class).  After lunch at an Applebee’s in the general location of our old neighborhoods, we drove to French Park where Kathy and Chuck used to walk. … and walked a circuit of the park until we found a beach to leave some of him.  Then we found his old apartment building and left a bit of him in the garden there.

Red Stag restaurant across the river was hosting “In Cahoots,” a five local-brewery festival this afternoon.  We decided to try that before going to Monte Carlo for dinner.  Walking under the hot August sun, sweat was pouring by the time we arrived, and after getting a beer (Kathy) and cider/beer (me), we finally found a bit of shade.  Too many people, too-loud music.  So we walked to Lund’s on Central Avenue for water and a potty break.  That done, we continued kinda in the direction of home and went to the Monte Carlo, a very East Coast-steak house place, where Kathy could get a martini to honor another Chuck memory.  The cold air conditioning was most welcome, and the walleye was delicious.  Then back into the slightly less warm sun and home where I have collapsed, never to rise again.

My nephew Christopher & his sweetie Jen
at his friend Eric's wedding. Chris was best man.

5 August
Up before dawn to take Kath to her 5:30 am flight back to Atlanta.  I’m so glad she came and we had time to remember Chuck and good times and places of our “single” days here.  Now to see if I can fall back to sleep …

6 August
Yep, amazinglyI fell back asleep for a while.  Hurray.

Went to a reception tonight at the home of another Northwestern alumna, Sally.  She is someone I know that I have met in the past but cannot remember when; neither can she.  Must cogitate on that one.  Had a lovely time meeting younger female alums.  Sally and the other hostess Jennifer are part of the Council of 100, an organization of successful alumnae who mentor others.  Met some wonderful women.  Must figure out where Sally and I met before.  Keep connecting her with my old boss Roland, but he owned a PR agency and she was in finance …

9 August, Jean’s cabin near Side Lake in northern Minnesota
Three glasses of wine, a great dinner and sunset over the lake with Jean and Janet.  What a way to end the day.

Janet and I drove up to Jean’s early this morning and will stay until Monday.  Always nice to return to paradise for a respite.

Landmark at highway rest stop
on I-35 to Duluth
11 August, Minneapolis MN
Easy drive back from Jean’s cabin today as Janet can drive a stick shift.  Short but restful few days much enjoyed and appreciated.  Janet treated us to dinner at Grandma’s in Hibbing — broiled walleye all ‘round in celebration of being “up north at the lake.”  On the way home today, Janet and I stopped at Cassady’s in Hinckley for lunch — BLT for her, burger and fries for me (my last for a long, long time!  I have got to get back to more healthful and less caloric eating).

Tonight I walked to the downtown branch of the library for a Talk of the Stacks with J.A. Jance, a mystery series writer that I enjoy reading.  She was early so started a Q&A with the audience before her talk.  She’s a great oral story teller as well as writer, and that’s not always the case.  I remember years ago taking my friend Marilou to the Minnesota Press Club to hear a newspaper columnist  known for his wit that we both enjoyed.  His talk was pretty flat and nothing like his writing.  So I’m always pleased when a writer can speak well too.

Back to water ex tomorrow.

12 August
Our alley has been re-paved.  Hurray.  We got an announcement a while back and today they did the deed.  I watched from my deck while I had coffee and worked my morning crosswords.

My deck
More importantly, I had lunch today with Barbara, a friend from my St. Paul Companies’ days, who now works for the United Church of Christ.  She took me to see a senior residential facility that she spearheaded for older GLBT persons.  Spirit on Lake is one of the few such facilities in the country, the only one in the Upper Midwest.  To qualify as an affordable housing facility under federal law, the units need to be open to anyone who meets the income criteria.  While a majority of the residents are older GLBT persons, interestingly the remaining units are mostly rented by East Africans.  Barbara who is called the facility’s matriarch introduced me to its manager Kathleen who has been a driving force in building a community there, not just a bunch of rentals.  

13 August
Met Janet’s granddaughter Sydney for breakfast to give her a few more items for her trip to Uganda.  She’s gotten her visa, shots etc. and leaves next week.  This evening I dropped off my pressure sox and some euro for her breakfast when she transfers through Amsterdam.

Water ex this morning was funny.  Andrew subbed for Lindsey and not only had to do everything from the deck (on land) but he had to mime because he had a limited voice.  Vigorous work out and lots of laughs.

So this afternoon, I decided to clean my bedroom from top to bottom.  Oiled the furniture, dusted photos, changed bedding, Windexed the mirrors and glass surfaces … even the sliding glass doors (they were so filthy, I used a dozen paper towel sheets).  Cleaning those big windows and replacing the sheer curtains with new, cleaner ones was a challenge.  I had pulled a muscle in my right arm in the morning so it ached throughout, especially as I reached to take down and put back up the curtain rods.  But it’s done!  Now, what room should I attack next?

14 August
Finally calibrated my new pedometer but obviously did something wrong. I KNOW I walked more than 211 steps from noon until 9 pm.  I really am no good at equipment.  Maybe my sister can help me tomorrow.

I think I understand why we have a bee deficit.  They can’t find their way.  I have been plagued by a bee, the kind that sting and also pollinate flowers, while sitting on my deck each morning this week.  I do not understand why on earth this little stinger bothers with me, who is constantly swatting at it.  Just across the way my neighbor MaryAnne has a gorgeous flower garden on her deck full of beautiful blooming flowers eager for bees.

15 August, David’s yahrzeit
A quiet time on the deck this morning to remember my dear friend David, then a drive to Northfield to spend time with Lois who turned 89 on 1 August.  

16 August, my late former father-in-law’s birthday
(August is a BIG month for birthdays in my world.)

Well, I almost didn’t make it to Lois’.  After gassing up the car at Costco just west of downtown, I drove back into the city on I-94 unsure if I’d continue through the tunnel or leave the highway at the Dunwoody Institute exit and return a mlle or so further, as some trucks must do.  In general, I don’t like going through the tunnel.  I’ve gotten many a scare from driver’s who don’t understand you don’t pass in a tunnel.  And on the entry ramp from I-94, traffic is always incredibly slow if not inching along regardless of time of day.  As I hit the rise just before the Dunwoody exit, I could see a line of red lights, slowed and was about to do a quick glance to ensure a clear lane to the right so I could change lanes . Then I realized the car in front of me, which had no brake lights on, was not driving slowly forward to close a three or four car gap.  It was stopped dead.  I wasn’t going very fast but still had to stand on the brakes to stop … and did, about six inches from its back bumper.  My heart thudded as I checked for traffic, then got into the exit lane.  Passing the car I’d nearly rear-ended, I saw the driver — a white-haired man who could barely see over the steering wheel — and his equally diminutive and white-haired female passenger.  I wonder if he’s taken the AARP senior citizens safe driving course?

17 August, my sister Barbara’s (and the late American hero Davy Crockett’s) birthday
Walked uptown to/from Murray’s, a fine old Minneapolis institution, to celebrate Barbara’s birthday with her, Christopher and Jen. Exceptional steak dinner, as expected.  Barbara loves hers very rare, and Murray’s is the place to go for that.  Owner Tim Murray sent over a small chocolate cake complete with candle which we shared; just the right amount for each for dessert.  Lovely end to an otherwise gray day. 

My beautiful sister & niece.
We celebrated their birthdays early when T was
in Minneapolis.

19 August, my niece Tomery's birthday
A curious light circled the sky through the clouds over my neighborhood tonight.  Reminded me of those search lights used for car dealership grand openings … or to announce Batman, but seemed far to high in the sky for one of those lights to reach.  Hmm, a UFO?  And a couple of Blackhawk helicopters noisily flew low over downtown … not nearly the noise level nor count of last night but noticeable.  One seemed to skim the rooftop of the nearby convention center.  Some kind of national security exercise is taking place here, hence the extremely low flying military helicopters.  And Blackhawks are notoriously noisy.  Apparently lots of complaints about that as well as rattling windows and such. Who says Minneapolis is a dull place to live?

21 August
Went to a Twins’ game last night with Susan again … and they lost again.  We left at the end of the 7th inning again.  But another evening of camaraderie and good sausage-hotdogs.

When I left this morning to walk into town to take part in a mock trial, it was raining.  Actually pouring and windy; walking wasn’t my best idea of the day.  But I had volunteered for the mock trial when I was at jury duty and the location was an easy walk.  Indoors all day and no windows.  So when I exited at 5:30, I was flabbergasted to be hit by a heat wave and very high humidity.  I called my friend Judy who lives closer to the center that I, and we met for a glass of wine and small plate while the temp cooled a little.  Nice way to end the day.

23 August
Today would have been my late father’s 98th birthday.  Although he died 20+ years ago, I still miss him.  He and my brother-in-law Steve were great pals, perhaps bonding initially over a common first name but later over shared interests like fishing and beer and sports.  Seeing Steve tomorrow will be a tiny bit like seeing my dad.  I called Steve tonight to tell him that.

25 August
What a weekend!  Saturday morning, I picked up Aideen and Mickey at the airport.  It’s Mickey that I take care of in DC when his mom, Aideen, has to travel internationally.  We stopped at Kowalski’s to finish off the grocery shopping and my neighborhood liquor store for some wine.  Did a pit stop at my condo (and checked to be sure dryer had stopped), then off to the “north woods.”  We spent two nights at Janet & Ed’s cabin.

Unfortunately my nephew John and his wife Heather weren’t able to come over for dinner.  They were going to bring along a niece and nephew that they were babysitting, but the infant got pink eye, not something you want to have around if you can avoid it.  So I missed a chance to see them.  But Sunday, Steve and Elyse, their oldest son David, his wife Heidi and their sons Sam and John joined us for lakeside fun and BBQ.  Their daughter Evie was visiting with a friend.  The three boys had a great time.  David helped them bait fishing lines, and the worms attracted a school of blue gills.  Mickey’s first attempt at fishing.  Steve grilled Polish sausage, hotdogs and ‘burgers.  We had a feast of cold salads, various snacks and dips, and a delicious chocolate mousse cake.  We’re lucky we didn’t all roll down the hill into the lake.

Today as we cleaned up the cabin and packed to return to Minneapolis, Mickey asked if he could come back next year.  So I guess this was a successful venture.

Except maybe in one area.  I used the wrong dishwashing liquid … and the dishwasher spewed out bubbles onto the kitchen floor and assorted bath towels for about an hour before it was finally done.  Well, the dishwasher and floor are definitely clean!  Did a full load of wet towels for Janet, contrary to her orders to leave the dirty linens/towels.  

We went to Paul Bunyan Land, where the giant woodsman greeted Mickey by name, to his surprise.  This theme park is en route to Brainerd, and we stopped for an hour or so.  Mickey loved the bumper cars best, but tried out the Tilt A Whirl, Ferris Wheel and others rides, then we went next door to “This Old Farm” with its vintage displays of cars, housing and shops, a petting zoo. 

Quick stop at Steve and Elyse’s house to drop off a travel mug she forgot and extra juice boxes that I’ll never need, then onto the highway southeastward.  Amazingly the traffic wasn’t bad.  Steve had predicted, and I had expected, bumper to bumper once I got close to the Cities.  Not.  But in the other direction, the freeway was anything but moving freely.

27 August
Quiet here as Aideen and Mickey are flying back to DC now.  I’m going to miss them.  It was such fun having them here and seeing how much Mickey especially enjoyed going to the cabin.  If I’d known he would be so enthused, I would’ve planned to stay at least another day.  Next time!

Yesterday we three and Janet and Ed’s grandson James took the light rail to St. Paul and visited the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Although we got a late start, the boys seemed to have a good time.  Definitely a place that requires almost a whole day.  So much to do and lots that is interactive.  And Mickey and James got along well too. 

This morning we walked up to Keys, a famous local cafe noted for its breakfasts, to have a late  breakfast.  Then on to the IDS Center and Minnesota store for souvenirs.  I had hoped for a quick trip to the top of the IDS so Mickey and Aideen would see the city … but we’re 20 years too late.  It’s been closed that long … and it’s obviously been way longer than that since I was up there.

Got a text from ATT that I was out of data, so I went on line to up my plan.  Not.  More frustration with communications’ providers.  Tried using Safari and Firefox and couldn’t make the website work properly.  Did a lengthy online chat with someone, followed all of her instructions to a T … still no success. She was going to transfer me to accounting … and I lost everything on the screen and was faced with a “contact us” page. Used that to call the 800 number, got the changes made after that helpful person encountered a few glitches.  She transferred me to a technical person to share my web site issue with … but she seemed to have no idea what I was talking about.  She did take notes and agreed to “find out who to give the information to.”  Ah, ain’t all these newfangled systems great.

Mickey back home on a new sofa bed
that I'll get to test in October

29 August
Big drops rained onto our heads as friend/neighbor MaryAnne and I returned from our “happy hour” late lunch and trip to Lund’s for a few groceries.  Now it’s pouring.  Water ex, long walk, light breakfast and lunch.  I feel totally justified in hitting the couch with my Kindle.  Here I go …

31 August
Happy birthday to Mark whose birthday I always remember cuz it falls on my former wedding anniversary.

Lovely day of sleeping late, water ex, a bit of housework and a drive to Stillwater with my sister Barbara and friend Marilyn for dinner along the St. Croix River.  Perfect weather.  Now to close the sliding door to the deck … it’s pouring and almost time for bed.

Summer’s over.  Labor Day is really early this year.  Last day of Minnesota State Fair is tomorrow.  Kids go back to school on Tuesday.  

Berger Fountain in Loring Park


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