Monday, March 2, 2015

Two for the price of one

1 January 2015, White Plains NY USA, Happy New Year!
Off we go, my niece Tomery and I, on our first road trip together.  We’re road tripped with her mom and brother but never just us.  Two days on the road in a VW Golf from here to Minneapolis … through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.  On turnpikes and toll roads as well as just plain interstates for free.  At the end of the road is my condo and the newest segment of her life.

The day is overcast which will make driving westward easier on the eyes.  T’s car has a great engine and good handling.  Should make the driving a pleasure, assuming we don’t hit too many potholes.

12 hours later, somewhere in far northwestern Ohio …
Found a Holiday Inn Express just off the Ohio Turnpike using my iPhone app.  Always a reliable place to drop your head for the night, and that’s what I’m going to do.  ‘Night, All.

5 January, Minneapolis MN USA
Arrived home in the early evening last Friday and have been getting my “home legs” ever since.  Tomery’s going to stay with me for a few months, so we set up the blow-up bed in my spare room, and I moved a few things around to make her more comfortable.  She starts work on Wednesday.

Despite the frigid temps, Linda, Daisy the dog and I walked about 1/3 of Lake Harriet this morning.  There was virtually no wind which made the cold endurable.  I’m feeling very virtuous!

5 January
Well, with the wind chill, it’s minus 30 Fahrenheit (that almost the same temp on the Celsius scale) in Minneapolis this morning.  Remind me why I live here?  Oh, yes, my Wednesday boot camp water ex class.  And remembering that it’s even colder in North Dakota.  I am going to drive up to Fargo tomorrow to visit my ex’s youngest brother and his wife.  Jim’s been fighting cancer for 20+ years, and I haven’t seen him in quite some time.  My nephew/Godson Craig and I had lunch at the Holyland in Global Market yesterday and decided to make the trip together.  

6 January, Blizzards everywhere!  
The movers arrived from NY today with Tomery’s worldly possessions, and I was at the storage place to “supervise.”  Despite dressing for the cold, my toes were freezing before the first boxes were off loaded.  I cannot believe what a fantastic job they did making everything fit into the storage place she rented.  Never would’ve happened with a bunch of amateurs.  When I first saw the space, I was positive it wouldn’t all fit … but it did.  

My sister-in-law Joan called this morning with a weather report from Fargo, blizzard warnings abound for afternoon.  I just checked again, and Craig and I have decided to hold off and try to leave tomorrow.

8 January
Called off Fargo for now.  Jim isn’t feeling well, and Craig has to go to work tomorrow afternoon.  So I picked niece Michelle up at the airport; she was returning from yet another California trip.  Dropped her off at her condo without incident (you may recall my fender-bender there a few months back).  Decided to head westward so needed to get onto I-394.  That meant turning right, which I did onto 5th Street behind a Toyota Camry … which made the turn, stopped suddenly (as did I), then it backed into me.  This all happened in about thirty seconds.  The driver was full of apologies and holding a piece of paper.  I suspect he’s from a suburb and didn’t know where he was going.  

We pulled to a better place to examine car bumpers and exchange info.  Six-inch crack on the top of mine, small break on the bottom corner of his.  We phone-photoed each others driver’s licenses and insurance cards, and he said he’d pay out of pocket to have my crack repaired.  I doubt that my handy-dandy auto repair shop will even recommend that.  But I’ll check and let him know.

Since our North Dakota adventure was cancelled, I invited Craig and family to join me for dinner.  Michelle too.  We had a great time at The Good Earth, healthy, tasty food, wonderful place for kids too.  And they announced they’d bought a house!  It’s way up in Andover, so I might have to pack a bag to visit!  They’ll move toward the end of February … which coincides with my plan to have their Jaiden and my nephew Mark’s Brennan for an overnight at a hotel.  Plans TBD.

9 January 2015
#10 on the “52 Places to Go in 2015” list in the New York Times — Macedonia!

“The next Balkan destination.

­First came Croatia, then Montenegro — even Albania is gaining traction on the western Balkan travel circuit. Macedonia is next. Known for its moody monasteries and sparkling Lake Ohrid, this former Yugoslav republic is making a play for adventure foodies, too. It makes sense. Places like the Shar Mountains abound in Alp-like hiking while Macedonia’s wine industry — once responsible for the bulk of Yugoslavia’s supply — is enjoying a rebound with local producers. Scores of smaller hotels serving traditional soups and pastries like pastrmajlija, a meat pie, have opened to replace cold socialist haunts. Old establishments like the Hotel Montana Palace in cheese-friendly Krusevo offer newly renovated settings at low Balkan prices. And Macedonia is one of the few places without a McDonald’s — they all closed in 2013. Tim Neville”

No mention of the pirate ship, Charlie Chaplin statue or even Alexander the Great.  Hmmm.  But it is a great place to visit and to live.  If I were going to move back to Europe, I might select Macedonia over Poland.  Great friends, food, things to see and do in both, but the weather in Macedonia definitely trumps that in Poland.

Oh, just read on Facebook that my friends Sue and Nancy are en route to Ethiopia.  Their first trip of 2014, but I’ve lost count of the places they visited last year.  And you all think I’m gone a lot!

11 January
I think that I’m catching a cold.  Have been sneezing all afternoon and my throat is starting to get sore in a tonsillitis sort of way (assuming I had tonsils).  Yuk.  I was going to join my water ex friend Pam’s book club tonight.  Will give it another hour, then make a final decision.  In the meantime, I feel like hell.

12 January
No “thinking” about it — I definitely have a head cold.  Spent the whole day in bed, cancelled several engagements for the week and have been consuming large quantities of vitamin C.  Pam will let me know about the next book club meeting, my latest OurTime coffee date has been postponed until I get back from DC/Boston, and water ex is out this week.  I need to be “healthy” by Saturday’s flight!

13 January
It’s official.  I have the flu, not a head cold.  After two miserable days, I went to the doctor yesterday.  Given all of my symptoms, including a low grade temp, she believes it’s flu and gave me an Rx for Tamiflu.  Because I was out of food, I made a hasty trip to Lund’s Northeast (covered parking) for a rotisserie chicken, some sushi and a few other necessities.  Then back to bed.  

15 January
Okay, I “cheated” yesterday and went to Connie’s to get my hair done as scheduled in late afternoon.  I can’t go to Jonah’s bar mitzvah looking like a redheaded raccoon.  I called her in advance to cancel our post-hair dinner and promised to wear my mask, which I did whenever I could.  Clean, colored, styled hair makes me feel better already … and relieves some of the boredom of this week.

17 January, Arlington VA
Tomery dropped me at the airport this morning on her way to work.  The flight to DC was uneventful, and Aideen and Mickey met me at the airport.  We drove over to Inga’s where a friend of hers let us in.  She and the girls are in Florida for the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend.  I stashed some things that I won’t need while at Aideen’s and packed what I will.  Tomorrow Aideen flies out to Ethiopia, and Mickey and I drive to Hershey PA for his MLK holiday.  Since he has both Monday and Tuesday off, I wanted to take him somewhere.  Although he’d been to Hershey years ago, we decided it was a good choice given the weather.  A lot to do despite it being winter.

18 January, Hershey PA
Arrived safely.  I’d asked for a room at Hershey Lodge near the pool and that’s what we got — last door in the corridor before the pool entrance.  They had a lifeguard, which was nice, but she followed the rules, which surprised me and Mickey didn’t like.  He was too young and too short to use the hot tub even though it was empty of people.  He did enjoy playing in the pool though, and playing arcade games.  He was quite good at some of them, collecting tickets toward a prize.

21 January, Arlington VA
Whew!  Nice to be back in Arlington.  Somewhere around Harrisburg PA, I missed a turn, and we took a different and longer route back.  Mickey’s back in school, and I went to Pilates today.  The stretching felt sooooo good.

We had a great time.  The hotel has half a dozen or so places to eat, so I had decided beforehand that we’d try to eat in a different place for each meal.  Sunday dinner was in the hotel’s dining room … wonderful mussels for me, a huge burger for Mickey.  

Monday morning we toured the museum and Chocolate World where we did a chocolate tasting.  

Suzi & Mickey in Hershey
We returned to the hotel for a late lunch in a sports-oriented cafe (the only marginal meal and service we experienced).  Later in the afternoon we drove over to Hershey Hotel for my massage.  While I was pummeled, Mickey sat outside the spa and read the book he’d brought.  No one under 18 allowed in the spa, but strangely, no seating at all in the reception area.  The thoughtful spa receptionist got him a cup of hot chocolate while he waited.  The spa was incredible, and I could’ve stayed for hours.  

Tuesday, after packing and breakfast, we went to ZooAmerica, the not-very-large local zoo that we’d passed several times while driving to and fro.  

When Mickey was getting ready for school this morning, we discovered he’d left his glasses somewhere — he thinks they’re in the car and I’ll make him search, but I looked when I went to the supermarket and didn’t see them.  They could be at the service station outside York PA where I bought gasoline and Mickey used the bathroom or at Silver Diner where we stopped for dinner before coming home.  It’s too late to call either place since the staff will be different.  I’ll try tomorrow.  Thankfully he has a spare pair.

22 January
Glasses found … sort of.  I walked over to Silver Diner and found the waitress who’d served us.  She had found the glasses and put them aside … but they weren’t where she left them.  She and others looked all over with no luck.  But at least we know what happened — Mickey left them after our dinner on Tuesday.

24 January, Bethesda MD
Mickey was a big help cleaning up the condo in preparation for Aideen’s return today.  After breakfast and making his bed, he ran the  vacuum cleaner and helped with laundry.  We were on time to meet Aideen at Dulles.  She was exhausted after two very long flights, so we had an early dinner at the wonderful New Zealand restaurant they introduced me to, then on to Inga’s where I’ll stay until Antonia and I leave for Boston.

Mickey helped this woman celebrate her birthday
with a couple of dances at the Kiwi restaurant
26 January
Inga has a new “toy.”  It’s called Bob and does the floor sweeping automatically, a fantastic device for gathering up dog hair! 

Last night Aideen and Mickey, friend Bob, his daughter Alexis and her husband Marcus joined me, Ing,  the girls and friend Tomek for pizza and catching up.  Bob hadn’t seen Mickey since Mickey was an infant and Antonia since Krak√≥w.  And I wanted to see Alexis and Marcus and given them a housewarming gift.  So not only did I forget to give them the gift, but after everyone left, I fell down the steps. And I didn’t even have any wine yet.  All my toes wiggled and it’s not that painful, so I didn’t see any reason to go to the ER.  Tomek made me an ice pack, Inga got me aspirin and I sat down to elevate my foot. 

28 January
Bad foot or not, I had to go shopping today.  I left the dress I planned to wear to the bar mitzvah at home.  Didn’t want it to get too wrinkled, so I left it hanging … then forgot to pack it.  So … wearing Inga’s duck boots (the only footwear that my swollen left foot can get into), off we went to the sale and Lord & Taylor.  Two hours later we returned with two dresses, over-the-knee black leather boots, dangly silver earrings, all for me, and two pairs of deck shoes for Inga.  Lord & Taylor has fantastic sales … the whole thing came to $300!  

31 January, Boston MA
Antonia and I arrived here on Thursday evening for Jonah’s bar mitzvah, which was today.  I’m limping but not in much pain.  We actually connected at Logan Airport with Karen’s friend Josie and her two kids; they lived in Minnesota for 18 months a few years ago.  We carpooled with them to the Marriott in Newton where we were all staying.

Friday Antonia and I went into the city and did a trolley tour for a couple of hours. It was easier on my sore foot.  Plus it was Antonia’s first trip to Boston so I thought an overview would be good — plus it was a blustery, freezing day.  We only got off in two locations — the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) which is soon to be in dry dock for five years of maintenance, and Quincy Market where we ate hotdogs and ice cream for lunch.  

Even with all the snow. a frozen Starbuck's is needed.

We were both impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge of the various driver/guides we had.  One in particular spent a lot of time regaling us with the accomplishments, inventions and awards garnered by MIT.  He gave Harvard a couple sentences. I was sure he was an MIT grad … but he wasn’t.  He said to get into MIT you need straight A’s from grade 5 onwards as well as strong extracurricular activities.  Since Antonia’s great in math, enjoys it and meets the grades’ requirement, I suggested she consider MIT when the time comes.  But alas, the weather.  Then the driver said few people were on the streets around MIT because the buildings are connected by underground tunnels, allowing the students etc. to avoid the weather.  So, who knows?

We used Uber for the first time on the return trip, and I do mean “we.”  Uber is the new non-taxi taxi service that’s taken hold in US cities. Supposed to be cheaper, faster, better service.  I’m not sure I would’ve figured out how to use the app without Antonia’s help.  But it was $10 less than the car service from the hotel charged us into town, even with a “surge” surcharge of 40 percent.  Worth the effort.

The bar mitzvah this morning was magical.  The synagogue is new and modern with lots of light streaming yet not glaring.  Jonah read the Torah and gave his speech flawlessly.  Karen held back her tears of joy as much as she could.  Larry’s pride shown throughout.  And Spike’s impish smile added a bit of levity.  Lots of aunts, uncles and cousins took part.  While Karen’s mom attended, Larry’s dad’s health precluded her parents from being there.  The synagogue has live streaming though so they could watch from New Mexico — modern technology at its best.  

Jonah and friends

Spike had a hair cut since last I saw him
Jonah and Spike both are avid readers, and Jonah used books as his theme at the luncheon.  Tables were marked with his favorite books, personalized bookmarks included a symbol of the book on the table where a guest was seated.  I sat with Kim, Larry’s and my Peace Corps colleague, and other adults including a woman whose last name was the same as my sister’s late husband.  After a few minutes of chatting on that, we determined there was no relationship.

Tonight we all went to an improv club in Boston.  Not Second City but fun for the kids.  Then back to Larry and Karen’s for more food.  Now I’m pooped, so off to bed.

What a perfectly glorious way to end the month.

2 February, Bethesda MD, Groundhog Day …
 … and as virtually always, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.  Six more weeks of winter.  Oh, goody.  (BTW, I was in Punxsutawney several times in my youth.)

6 February, Minneapolis MN
Left Boston on Sunday afternoon just ahead of its latest snow storm.  We were so lucky to hit a pocket of snow-storm-free time to travel and be there.  Antonia must be my good luck travel charm.  Flew out to MN on Tuesday evening and met cold, snowy skies.  Thom picked me up, as Janet’s in CA helping our friend Marie who had surgery recently.

Wednesday morning I was limping but determined to go to water ex.  It was boot camp with Andy, tough but exhilarating and necessary to get me back into the groove.  

My foot had improved  a lot — very little pain and much less swelling, but the left side was very swollen and painful.  Since my sister and I were scheduled to fly to Palm Springs on Sunday to visit our brother and his wife, I decided to have a doctor here take a look.  And so she did on Wednesday morning, then sent me for an x-ray which showed a very badly broken metatarsal, the long bone before my little toe, on my left foot.  She ordered me one of those gawdawful orthopedic boots that look like ski boots.  Then she made me an appointment with a podiatrist at the clinic for later in the afternoon.  Goody.  One large cup of coffee was all I’d eaten and it was nearing 1 pm. I could lunch at Red Lobster with Marilou as planned, then return. NOT.
My new boots

When I got to the parking garage, the car wouldn’t start.  Not even a grr grr.  I called Marilou to cancel lunch, then called the road service that comes with my Ford.  After answering a zillion questions from name to VIN number, I decided to try one more time before finalizing … and it started.  The )(%^&(UY boot hadn’t let my clutch foot go close enough to the floor.  Expletives deleted.  I called Marilou but she’d already started lunch at home.  I went to Red Lobster on my own, then returned to see the podiatrist.  He said surgery ASAP, intimating that I shouldn’t’ve waited so long to see a doctor (but he was so cute that I didn’t begrudge him the reminder).  Next off to see his scheduler, a brusque woman with a firm grip on the calendar.  Pre-op, surgery, several follow ups … she was not happy with my previously booked appointments that cannot be changed; first post-op is way the heck out in Chanhassen.  But I left with a full schedule as well as a sizable booklet of instructions and phone numbers.  Overwhelmed?  Just a bit.  I left making lists in my head of all that needed doing.

Once home, I took a deep breath, called my brother and a few friends, then started on the most urgent “to do’s” — check with my insurer re a “knee caddy” (one of those scooters that one knee kneels on).  Not covered by Medicare so not covered by UCare.  Okey dokey … but at $25 a week, I’ll take one anyway, thank you.  To be picked up on surgery day.  Next stop, crutches — just in case.  Requires training.  Crutches training set for Monday morning before my pre-op appointment.

I drive a stick, shift with my left foot … that’s a no-no for the next six weeks.  Where will my blue beauty go while my rental car usurps its garage space?  Given Minneapolis’ penchant for snow emergencies, I cannot leave her on the street.  Enter Marilou.  After some phone calls, found a friend with an empty garage to rent.  She’ll help me with the car on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s over … more lists being compiled but time for bed.

Thursday started with more “things to do.”  I was up at 5:30 am on email.  I’m supposed to spend four days the week after my surgery helping my friend M who’s having stem cell treatments at Mayo.  She has to have someone with her 24/7 for a month, and I made this commitment several months ago.  Besides going to appointments with M, you need to be the cook and cleaner-upper. Yes, I actually contemplated fulfilling the commitment on crutches.  But reason prevailed.  I talked to Jan who could do two of the days but not all four (her mom’s 98th birthday is that weekend), then sent an email plea for a sub to the wider caregiver network.  Finally, after several “sorry, I can’t help” emails, I got a yes.  Whew!  I was fully prepared to do two days on crutches if necessary; I could not let M down.

My brother called with car rental info.  He’d googled for me and recommended Enterprise since they’ll pick me up.

On the home front, I arranged for Thom to pick up his niece/Janet’s granddaughter Zoe on Saturday so she can clean for me.  And I proceeded to empty the two large hanging-clothes boxes and two huge Rubber Made tubs that have adorned my living/dining area since my niece’s movers delivered them.  That woman has more clothes than I do.   Zoe has to be able to clean, I can’t live in quite that much chaos and Tomery’s been working 12 hour days.  So my boot and I gimped back and forth, sorted, emptied and stored all.  Tomorrow I’ll have Tomery help me remove the cardboard boxes and put the Rubber Mades on the deck with mine. 

After all that activity, I decided that I needed to relax and mostly I did.  I went to see La Cage Aux Folles at a suburban civic theater with Jan and a friend of hers.  And I learned that Jan has an extra parking space in her condo building’s garage.  I shall take that one — easier and warmer.  

Today, Friday, dawned early but at least not at 5:30 like yesterday.  I had an OurTime date (Roger) for coffee at 9:30 and was determined to keep it.  Then Susan was picking me up for lunch.  After showering and dressing, I went online and ordered a car from Enterprise.  They’d pick me up mid afternoon.  Answered a bunch of emails and responded to best wishes from my Facebook post.  I rarely post anything but decided this was post-worthy.

Hobbled to the bus, then over to Roger’s building, arriving at the Caribou Coffee Shop 20 minutes early.  Got coffee and read the paper while I waited.  Recognized his black blazer, as advertised, and we found a quiet spot nearby to talk … for more than an hour … about everything but politics and  religion.  I enjoyed it.  He offered lunch or dinner in the future, and I agreed that would be lovely after my post-op.  We exchanged contact info, and I hobbled off to the bank and lunch with Susan.

After lunch, Susan dropped me at Enterprise, and I got the car AND found a parking place right in front of my building.  How’s that for good parking karma?  A quick call to Tomery who agreed to help me with moving my car to Jan’s garage after work.

An afternoon of “rest:” marathon-watching Parenthood, reading, more phone calls and emails to/from friends, a light dinner, a drive out to Golden Valley to stash my car and return home to find, what?  The same wonderfully convenient parking spot I’d vacated.  And despite that good fortune, I just took my first Zantac (150mg) for acid stomach in months.

Oh, got Northwestern Alumni News email on the largest gift to the alma mater — $100 million-plus.  It was made by Roberta Buffet Elliott, sister of Warren and wife of PC colleague David.  I knew that David had remarried after his wife  Elllen, who was in PC with him, had died of cancer but not to whom.  PC friend Larry had told me about this when I was in Boston. Turns out Roberta’s an alumna who’s been giving pretty regularly.  The funds will create the Roberta Buffet Institute for Global Studies which will take “a multidisciplinary and problem-solving approach to advancing important global issues.”

Just barely into 8 February
I had a major meltdown this (Saturday) afternoon but finished Saturday on a high note (no booze or drugs involved).  It began when I found that Tomery had accidentally taken my set of house keys as well as hers.  Since you need a security key to get into the building from any entrance, including the garage, I was stuck indoors with my “to do” list until my sister finished her exercise class and kindly brought me the spare set and some cortisone cream; CVS didn’t have a cold gel pack like I’d used in DC.  

Earlier I had called the nurse line because my left ankle was a little tender, warm and itchy.  No red streaks, no infection.  Whew.  Wearing partially synthetic trouser socks in The Boot could be the culprit.  I need to wear 100% cotton socks.  She also recommended cortisone cream and ice to ease the itching.  On any given weekend, everyone i know goes to Target, including me … but not this one.  Several folks offered to check; the best that could be found had 80% cotton.

While reading through my pre-op booklet, I realized I hadn’t completed a mail-in questionnaire for the admitting department.  After I did that, I worried that mailing wouldn’t get it there on time.  So I drove out to Methodist Hospital (the addressee on the prepaid form) and asked the ER admissions clerk to send it onward.  She agreed with a smile.  On the way back home, I stopped at a different CVS to look for a gel pack, socks and ice.  Found a gel pack that will work okay — it has nothing to hold it to my leg like the one in DC did.  No socks without lots of synthetics.  Forgot to buy the ice.  Got back into the car and burst into tears.  When I called Susan, she didn’t recognize my voice.  I just needed to cry off the tension that was building up — not just frustration over simple things that were suddenly soooo hard, but the whole ball of wax leading to the surgery … and stretching back to my stupidity for not being more careful.  After 10 minutes or so on the phone with Susan, I wiped my eyes and walked back into CVS, bought the ice and drove home.

Thom brought Zoe and took me to his folks’ house to hang out while Zoe cleaned, then a couple of hours later we reversed the trip.  I’d hardly returned when my niece Michelle arrived with my socks and Tylenol.  They’re 80% cotton, the best available, but as she said, one can always use extra socks.  We chatted for a few minutes about her next marathon (Fargo on 8 May) and her and Jon’s move to Las Vegas which is coming up.  Even with both of our travels, we manage to get together often.  I am so going to miss her being nearby, but I’ve never been to Vegas and now I’ll have someone to visit.

Saturday night was dinner and roller derby with friend/neighbor MaryAnne whom I haven’t seen since before I went to DC.  Driving to St. Paul and over dinner at a favorite restaurant of both of us, Pazzaluna, we played major catch up.  Then we walked over to The Roy (Roy Wilkins Auditorium) for our first Minnesota Rollergirls event. 

Roller derby is a rough, tough, physically challenging sport, and that isn’t diminished in the least when the athletes are women.  But women’s sports are so much more about the sport and the event than the players’ egos.  2600+ women, men and children filled the auditorium.  Booths in the lobby offered health and social services information from a variety of local organizations.  A  pregame event —  “field hockey” game played by Special Olympians — was just finishing as we arrived.  During intermissions, many of the players skated around, greeting friends, family and fans.  The halftime show was geared to kids.  And an “after party” with the teams at a local watering hole was open to anyone.  Oh, and a Dagger Girls’ fan of about age 5 spilled her bag of popcorn all over the floor, and she and her dad hunkered down and picked it up, then she walked by herself to toss it in a nearby trash bin.  Now when did you ever see that at a men’s professional sports game?

A human Zamboni skated around the flat oval track with his broom to prepare for play.  Since this was the semi-finals, we actually saw two derbies:  Garda Belts vs. Rockits and Dagger Girls vs. Atomic Bombshells. The Garda Belts, dressed mostly in green, were led into the auditorium by a bagpiper in full regalia.  The Rockits had a robot mascot.  All of the players had wacky punny or double entendre’d names —   Hanna Belle Lector, Kung POW Bitchin’, Shiver Me Kimbers,   Citizen Pain, Maul E. Coddle, Betsey Wrecksie. And I’ve never seen more officials, time keepers and scorers at a sporting event.  “Umpire Strikes Back” was assisted by six referees … necessary, I’m sure, because of the mayhem on the course.  

This was the semi-finals.  The Dagger Girls, who’d won no games in the previous two seasons, won and last year’s champs, Garda Belts, came from behind to win by one point.  It was the most energetic, uplifting, wonderful way to end a crappy day.  

A more normal hour …
Dance partner Larry called to invite me to lunch, but I had to decline as Christopher is due midday to help me put Christmas away.  Larry didn’t know that my foot issue had escalated to the point of requiring surgery.  He’s heading out for Bali in a week or so.  Can’t blame him, given that we are due for snow this week plus he flies like an airline employee so it’s really cheap.

10 February
And the snow is falling.  I was going to meet Marilou for a belated lunch today but after running a few necessary errands this morning, I cancelled.  Getting around on the snowy sidewalks and such with The Boot is hazardous to my only functional foot.

Passed crutches training with flying colors.  Urbae, the PT who trained me, is originally from Kampala.  I learned that when she asked if I’d ever used crutches before, and I said, “Yes, in 2003 in Uganda.”  We had a lovely chat interspersed with my training.  Then I saw the doctor for my pre-op, and again, all systems go.  Afterwards, I drove to the Lund’s on Central Avenue — close in, covered parking — and got some food to get me through the week.  I’m all set for tomorrow.

I’m staying at my sister’s this week since she’s in CA at our brother’s.  Tomery was going to watch Stu (T’s cat that lives with Barbara) since I was supposed to be in CA too.  But her allergies are awful when she spends too much time with him, and it doesn’t really matter where I recuperate.  so I volunteers to stay here.  Stu has loved having me around and I’ve enjoyed him.  He snuggles with me every time I sit down and eventually keeps my feet warm in bed at night. I also love the fleece sheets that Barbara put on the bed.  Mmm mmm. Cozy comfort in a cold Minnesota winter.  
My comforter

12 February
It’s over, went well and I’m a gimp for the next month or so.  Yesterday Marilyn picked me up drive to the Ambulatory Surgery Center.  She also stayed there, brought me home, settled me in at my sister Barbara’s. My nephew Christopher stopped at Costco for a roasted chicken, and in the morning I had made a big salad ready for dressing.  After Marilyn left, we watched the Penguins hockey game and talked to Barbara, Dan and Ann in LaQ.  Rode my knee caddy (Wheelie) to bed with a difficult side trip to the bathroom first. 

Chris had positioned the crutches, water and pain killers in appropriate places at my bedside and made sure I had cables for the electronics and the house phone handy and slipped my ice bag into The Boot.  Before leaving for work at 6:15 this morning, he brought me a pot of coffee and a mug as well as a fresh ice bag.  If he didn’t enjoy working at Costco so much, I might encourage him into nurse’s training.  He’s a natural — thank you to his “trainer” and mother and my sister, Barbara.  

Spent a bit of time on Skype last night with Aideen, the DC friend whose son I take care of.  She insisted on “doing something,” and we settled on a sandwich-and-salad-fixin’s order from Kowalski’s.  It’s due shortly.  Hurray.

Took high school friend Glenn G.’s advice and am finally working on my genealogy; joined for its free trial, then we’ll see. It is not as easy as the commercials make it look, but I did learn something new — my paternal grandfather’s parents.  And I may have identified my mom’s first husband.  Onward and upward.

You’ve read frequently that I’m not a Facebook aficionado but with so little to due, and knowing it reaches so many friends far and wide, I have been Fb’ing frequently since this ordeal started.  Learned today that two sets of MN friends are in Sedona and that Glenn S., a friend from my overseas days, is in the hospital (he’s had pneumonia-like symptoms for several months — and he does travel overseas a lot still).  

One of the charities that I’ve supported for years is Donors Choose, an all on-line way to help teachers all over the country with special projects their schools cannot fund. The teacher provides a project description, rationale and budget.  Donors Choose verifies everything, then posts all that on its site.  Donors donate as little or as much as they want, then not only get a tax deduction and thank you from the teacher but also hand-written thank yous from the students. Check in out:

13 February
There is a snoring cat next to me!  Stu is enjoying having company all day every day.  This morning when I finally settled back into bed, iced foot on three pillows, French press of coffee on the nightstand, phones half an arm’s length away … Stu hopped onto my empty tummy and quickly crossed the comforter to the window side of the bed, burrowed in and fell asleep.

Later Marilyn came over for lunch and did a needed pick-up of the place and ran the dishwasher.  Aideen’s online food order has come in handy.  And for dinner, I re-heated some of the tomato soup I made.  In between, I’ve mostly been marathon watching “What Not To Wear” with occasional reading and writing.   I may have to increase my cable channel selection to get TLC — although I still like the original UK version best (Trinnie and Suzanna were merciless), the US adaptation is fun too. 

14 February
Meltdown.  While washing my hands in the bathroom sink after lunch, my good foot felt wet … then I noticed the toilet I’d just flushed was overflowing onto the floor.  OMG.  Thankfully it’s a small bathroom, and I could easily grab towels from the cupboard and towel bar and toss them onto the growing puddles.  Somehow I got the water stopped but plunging did nothing.  Later when my friend Jan was here, we had a repeat.  She turned off the water at its source, wiped the floor and threw a load of towels into the washing machine before she had to leave.

Lots of phone calls looking for advice and/or help on the toilet.  It’s Sunday and I’d rather not call a plumber.  Christopher has to deal with a heating system that isn’t working at his apartment, and Craig’s doing a double shift, but another nephew, John, who actually is a plumber, though he lives in Brainerd, called me back.  He gave me a few ideas and as soon as Tomery arrives, we’ll try them.  

16 February
Home Sweet Home.  Returned to my condo last night with able assistance from my sister who also helped me crutch-proof the major pathways from room to room.  More to do today to make getting around with the Wheelie easier.  My friend Sabrina, who’s arriving around 11, may regret her offer to help.  My “to do” list gets longer as I identify more obstacles to “fall free” living.  But I will be able to feed her a late lunch.  My Byerly’s order will arrive between noon and 2.

Oh, we got the toilet fixed … or rather Barbara did.  She’s obviously a much better toilet plunger than Jan or me, as that’s all it took.  It’s nice to have her home.  She had a great time in CA with Dan and Ann and was sorry to leave the 80s temps.

A beautiful bouquet of purple irises and red tulips arrived yesterday from Inga and the girls.  They really brighten the place which is a little gloomy.  It’s snowing outside.  Guess the one upside of all this is not being able to go out into the frigid air and snow. PHOTO flowers

When this ordeal began, I promised several friends who know me well that I would not try to go it alone, that I would ask for help and accept volunteers.  Not easy for someone as independent as I have always been.  But I am working on it, as I hope you see in reading recent entries.  Today my adopted grandson Christopher has no school and his dad Mark is off work since it’s President’s Day.  So they joined Sabrina who volunteered to help. They also brought beautiful flowers and wonderful homemade mac & cheese, roasted veggies, pear cake and more, and did a bunch of chores. Friday Sabrina’s helping our friend Tom with a follow up appointment to his heart surgery.  We three were in the same Peace Corps group, one that has stayed close over the years.

While they were here, I arranged to return the rental car since I cannot use it anyway.  Hard to get in/out, even harder to figure out how I’d stow the Sticks (as my friend Hala calls my crutches) or The Wheelie so I could drive.  Enterprise gets top billing for excellence in service.  Someone came over, got the keys and drove it back for me.  They’ll send me the final tally.

18 February
Yesterday my sister came over after work and stayed nearby while I took a shower and washed my hair for the first time in a week.  I had been feeling sooo yucky;  I normally shower and wash my hair every day after water ex.  A couple of Target bags taped over my foot and a plastic shower chair in the tub.  Voila! Minimal chance of additional injury … and a clean, smiling me.

Today good news from the surgeon.  X-rays were taken, and he showed me the plate and four pins that are holding my fifth metatarsal together.  Everything looked good, although the stitches looked especially ugly.  They come out next Monday.  After the appointment, Marilyn went to get the car while I slowly rode Wheelie toward the pick up point.  En route a man stopped to ask if I’d had foot surgery and could I tell him about the experience; his wife is scheduled for bunion surgery in 10 days.  Then Marilyn and I went out to lunch.  A great day all ‘round.

20 February
OMG.  The temp outside is double digits above zero.  Haven’t seen that in some time.  And we got some snow overnight.  The deck has a nice coating of white that will just have to stay since I cannot shovel and Christopher’s in California.

Talked to my friend Linda with whom I usually take an early Monday morning lake walk.  She was in Key West last week, and we have theater tickets next Tuesday. I cannot go because of my foot, plus I’m going to stay at my nephew Craig’s that night so I’m there bright and early Wednesday to stay with the kids while he and April close on their new house.  Anyway, she is getting a new puppy tomorrow.  Daisy, her dog, is still alive but very old and frail.  She’s going to send a photo once Mercedes arrives.

It’s no news to anyone who knows me well that I am bored already.  Even though I’m retired and in this weather would be at home a lot, I’m used to staying active … doing regular housework and cooking the occasional meal, getting a breath of fresh air by taking out trash or walking to The Boiler Room for coffee.  The Boot and Wheelie severely limit that but I test those limits gingerly every day, keeping my brother’s regular admonition — “Don’t do anything stupid.”— at the fore of my thoughts

Today, not only did I fold laundry but I ran a load.  Then I got really ambitious and decided to cook.  That necessitated first cleaning out the refrigerator of expired foods.  As a result, no turkey chili. Double-bagged trash waiting to go out.  I did find a packet of large boneless chicken breasts in the freezer, filled the sink with cold water and defrosted them.  Then I made a kind of chicken cacciatore, using scallions in lieu of regular onions (I’m out) and throwing in the last of the delicious roasted veggies Sabrina left.  Ate it over some brown-rice spaghetti with lots left for tomorrow.  

21 February
Spent a delightful evening with my sister, mostly telling stories of our childhood.

22 February
A few minutes before 6 am today I awoke freezing despite a long flannel nightgown, heavy LL Bean flannel sheets and my winter-weight down comforter from Poland.  On checking, I found the condo’s temp at 63 … pushing the thermostat up to 70 didn’t kick over the furnace … neither did 80.  I remember it kicking on just before I turned out the lights at around midnight.  Something is definitely amiss.  At 6:30, I called Sedgwick, my heating/cooling contractor.  At 8, the tech will call me back, according to the emergency night line operator.  Now I’m back in bed with a sweatshirt added to my attire, and the furnace is set for 75 but still inactive.  Stay tuned.

Sedgwick tech called at 8.  Temp was then down to 61F, but the furnace had kicked in … after 45 minutes of being set at 75F.  He arrived at 9:30, checked it out, cleaned some sensor that was very dirty, and charged me for a regular — not an emergency weekend (!!!) —  call since I have a maintenance contract.  Phew on all fronts.

My sister came over this afternoon and stayed while I took a shower and washed my hair.  It’s a safety thing in case I fall trying not to use my left foot.  And she took my grocery list to The Wedge coop and picked up a bag of “must haves” that can only be purchased there (like freshly ground almond butter for my breakfast).  Tonight Jan picked me up for a quick dinner, then “Stars by David” at the Minnesota Jewish Theater.  We and Marilyn have season tickets but Marilyn’s sick.  Another stellar MJTC production, a musical based on a book of reminiscences by Jews in the entertainment business.  

Since Marilyn’s not feeling well and Jan’s still got out-of-town guests for her mom’s 98th birthday, Janet will drive me to the doctor tomorrow.  And she’ll pick up/drop off her granddaughter Zoe on Saturday, which will be cleaning day.

25 February
Stitches out … many ouches but it’s over.  Doc says progress as expected.  Next x-ray and prognosis for walking on 9 March.  In the meantime, I can get my left foot wet.  One less hassle when I shower.

Today’s scheduled went fruit basket upset yesterday afternoon.  Craig and April’s closing was moved from morning to mid-afternoon, and his cousin/my niece Michelle is out of town and not able to sub for me.  Got hair appointment, knitting etc. all re-arranged.  My friend/hair dresser Connie’s husband is going to fetch me for my appointment tomorrow afternoon.

Alijah checks out The Boot
Yesterday I spent a nerve-wracking couple of hours dealing with a “dead” laptop.  I couldn’t get Safari to go full screen when I was watching something on Netflix.  I rebooted both Safari and Netflix a couple of times to no avail.  Then I tried to reboot the computer … and it wouldn’t recognize my password.  I tried using the Guest route, but online support wanted my laptop’s serial number and the Apple logo drag down didn’t have the About This Mac line.  Weird.  So, I called the Apple/Southdale store and since I couldn’t get to the store for a Genius appointment, I was auto-forwarded to an Apple tech.  For more than 30 minutes, she had me trying any number of methods to get to a screen where I could change the password.  Nothing worked.  She put me on hold while she got a more senior tech.  And I decided to try one more reboot using a slight variation of the password.  It worked, so I hung up after waiting another five minutes.  Now I have noted the serial number in several non-laptop locations and my laptop password clue too.  I can access my laptop, but that still doesn’t explain why I was never able to access the sites the tech wanted to reach.  When I’m walking again, I’ll make an appointment with a Genius and see if we can figure it out.

26 February
Oh, goody.  The radio just announced it’s “23 below” — That’s 23 degrees below zero Fahrenheit for my Celsius friends.  And %^&*()*&^#$% cold.  I realize that’s wind chill, not actually temp, but since it’s how the temp feels, and it’s what counts.  Maybe I should’ve gotten the raccoon coat out of the closet.

27 February
I wonder if I have a desire to re-live January?  I have typed January instead of February for the dates on this blog more often than not.  Hmmm … wishing my foot injury away?  I’ve also become very unmotivated to do anything other than binge-watch television, read a few pages in my book club book, check Facebook and compete on Words with Friends and Matching with Friends.  To move me into something more stimulating, I could improve my Polish. To that end, I’ve asked my former Polish teacher Dorota to send me some assignments to work on.

In the meantime, I check out articles that others have emailed … and two featured Minneapolis in most positive lights.  Copy/paste these into your browsers and see why I live here despite the gawdawful weather.  And yes, as commenters, bloggers, critics have pointed out, it’s not all goodness-and-light here for everyone, but I believe it’s a far sight better and more hopeful than most places in the US right now. 

28 February
Cannot believe the month is over.  Nine more days of confinement!

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