Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer Fun Begins!

Come September, I will stop sending the blog manually.  It’s time consuming and I have little info re who actually would like to receive/read it.  So, IF you are interested in following my adventures,  please add yourself as a “follower” on the blog site and it’ll automatically come to you when I post.  Apologies for any inconvenience … and no hard feelings if you don’t sign on.  Suzi

1 June, Athens, Greece, International Airport
Waiting for Sally and Kathy to arrive on their flight from Paris.  Was up at 2:45 because the shuttle service said the driver would arrive at 3:15, and he did.  We only picked up one other passenger so when we arrived at 4 am, the airport wasn’t even yet, which we learned after the driver abandoned us.  Thankfully a “Sky Priority” entrance was open; in we went.  Lovely flight in business class — I know I told you that Air France has moved up to #1 on my Favorite Airlines list.  Was able to doze for a couple of hours after having a fluffy omelet with mushrooms for breakfast en route.  Oh, and some more of that excellent coffee.  Delta, go to France and learn something!

Sally is an old friend beginning from my hospital PR days.  Like me, Sally likes to involve others in what she’s doing.  Thus she organized construction of two houses in a little village about 10 years ago, has five “partners” in her house and six in the other and goes there for a month each year.  I visited twice before when I lived in Skopje: once over Thanksgiving with Sally and another friend Carol and later with Acapulco friend Marie and some of her Block Island friends over Orthodox Easter. You can see the place at  Kathy and I met in the mid 80s at the YMCA; she took the Saturday morning adult fitness class I taught.  We went through our divorces together.  More recently her husband Chuck died of the same cancer that Inga’s husband David died of, only two weeks before.  Both Sally and Kathy were with me in Scotland at the same time last summer, which is where the idea of this Greece trip was hatched.

2 June, Lefkakia, Greece (near Nafplio on the coast in the Peloponnese)
Having a glass of Greek wine with Sally and Kathy at the house while we wait for Vicky’s taverna to start serving dinner at 7.  We are committed to not cooking.  Vicky does an excellent job, and we want to see her stay open.  She’s a very short walk away and an excellent cook.  Last night we indulged in a host of starters; tonight we’ll try her pork dish entree. 
Sally's Greek house

Easy day.  Coffee and whatever we wanted for breakfast while we read, web surfed, did laundry (I was definitely in need of that).  Then off to Nafplio for a wee wander, some lunch, a bit of shopping and photo taking before returning here for a nap.

Nafplio was the first capital of the Hellenic Republic and of the Kingdom of Greece.  Its history dates back to antiquity.  It’s also been ruled by Turks, Franks, Venetians and Ottomans on various occasions. It’s a seaport but also looks strongly to tourism for its economic base. Some cruise ships can come into the harbor which is being enlarged for bigger ones. Palamidi is a pretty well preserved 17th century castle 999 steps above the town.  Lots of orange and olive groves outside town, along with lots of rocky hillsides and other ancient ruins.
Palamidi Castle

5 June
Awoke to our first bad-weather day — rain in the morning, then a bit of sunshine before a brief thunderstorm after lunch.  In between, we went into town to shop, have lunch, get a paper, gas up the car.  A cruise ship was docked at the port and between those folks and students on a day off for teacher meetings, downtown was crowded.  We were lucky to get a table at the sea view restaurant we wanted.  Tonight we went to a restaurant that’s on the road to Nafplio.  It’s part of an art center that was built in a defunct tomato processing plant.  The center is extremely well done, includes indoor and outdoor eating/drinking, a gift shop with lots of artisan items, space for events.  We’re all hoping it continues to operate.  Before coming home, we stopped at the bus station where Kathy and I figured out how to buy tickets to Athens for Sunday morning.  We’ll spend the day there and fly out early Monday afternoon.  I found a reasonably priced hotel near the Athens Acropolis.

It’s been a great week of delicious and abundant always-fresh food along with excellent company.  Wednesday Kathy climbed up to Palamidi Acropolis (the mountaintop fortress above Nafplio) while Sally and I shopped the outdoor market for fresh fruits and veggies.  After lunch in nearby Tolo, a nearby seaside town, we went swimming in the sea there.  The water wasn’t cold but it wasn’t warm either.  By inches, we all finally got all the way in and paddled around for about half an hour.

Looking down on Mycenae ruins
Yesterday Sally took Kathy to see the well preserved fourth century outdoor theater at Epidaurus.  It’s quite a lot of walking up stairs plus I’ve been there before, so I opted to stay home with my left foot up.  In the afternoon we went to Mycenae, a Greek stronghold from 4000 or so years ago.  I opted to climb up to the citadel/acropolis with Kathy since the path was a concrete walkway with switchbacks, not stairs.  My foot doesn’t do well walking down stairs yet.  

Kathy’s been doing a fantastic job taking pictures and posting them on Facebook.  My camera is broken; not sure how it happened.  I’m using my iPhone when I remember to do that … I have never been good at remembering to take photos.  So I posted a link to her o a Fb comment suggesting friends check out her photos!

6 June
Before sacking out , I want to add a quick note to say how much everyone loved Kathy’s lemon curd dessert.  Sally invited four friends of hers to dinner.  Brigida and Horst are Austrian, and their vacation home here inspired Sally’s quest for one.  Sandy and Kevin are from the Twin Cities.  Sally’s home here inspired Sandy and some of her friends to renovate an existing house that’s not far awa).  It was great getting to meet all of them, but especially Brigida since I’ve been hearing about her since long before this house was built.

Vicky at her taverna
We ordered lemon chicken and spinach-rice from Vicky’s Taverna, Sally made her wonderful Greek salad, and Kathy offered to make something with the gigantic (small grapefruit sized) lemons that the ceramics shopkeeper gave us.  (Sally has gotten to know him, and Kathy and I bought big, unique, handmade coffee mugs from him.)  Anyway, after scouring the Internet for recipes, Kath settled on lemon curd … and we set off to find some kind of tart shells or mix for pastry.  Ended up with some pre-made flat frozen pastries that looked edible and usable … since everything was in Greek, directions were all Greek to us.  Sally’s going to take a sample lemon curd tart up to Vicky who expressed interest when Sally picked up the food.

As you can see, I had nothing to do with the cooking.  So I led clean up.  I think I washed every dish and piece of cutlery in the house!  But well worth it for such a splendid evening and meal.

7 June, Airotel Parthenon, Athens, Greece
Kathy and I took the 8 am bus from Nafplio to Athens, then a taxi to this hotel on a very narrow and car-lined street within a five-minute walk of the Acropolis and much more.  Good ole came through again.  After arriving, we left our suitcases etc. with the concierge, a very helpful and friendly man who showed up key places to see on a free map.  Then we headed out for coffee and found a sidewalk coffee shop nearby. An excellent double cappuccino did the trick.  We walked about the equivalent of a city block to the south entry to the Acropolis and bought our tickets — only 12 euro each and it’ll get us into quite a few other sites. Then back to our hotel to check in, freshen up and take off again.  We explored the entire Acropolis, all the way up to the Parthenon and back down the other side where we found the Ancient Agora and explored that.  Then we found a sidewalk cafe that wasn’t quite inundated with passing tourists and shared a Greek salad and tsatsiki and bread lunch.

8 June, Goldair Lounge at Athens International Airport
Kathy and I were up early enough to finish packing, eat breakfast, check out of the hotel, then walk to the nearby coffee shop for a decent cup of coffee.  Coffee at the hotel’s buffet was definitely instant.  Then we took a taxi to the airport, and I used my “elite plus” status to get her into the Sky Priority check in line and this lounge.  Much nicer place to wait.  She just left for Atlanta via Paris.  I’m so glad she suggested that I join her on her first trip to Greece.  Great trip. We’re definitely returning.

Kathy’s flight left 30 minutes late … just learned mine’s delayed 10 minutes.  Time to close down.

Later, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
Arrived and turned my phone on and immediately it beeped that I had text messages waiting.  The obligatory ones from my Poland phone service and one from friend Ana that she would meet me for coffee at La Place near the train station.  It was wonderful to see her.  She and Art had also been in Greece, on one of those little islands where they could relax and enjoy the sun and beach.  

And even later … Warsaw, Poland
The clock on my laptop says 0:00.  I’m back at Dorota’s.  Her husband Jacek was waiting for me when I exited Customs.  We shared some travel adventures — they were in the Mazurian lakes region for the weekend.  Now to bed.

10 June, Warsaw, Poland
As usual, I woke up with the sun around 5 am but after a quick trip to the bathroom, went back to bed.  Absolutely no need to arise so early. I slept through Dorota ’s 6:15 departure to take her father for his chemotherapy, Jacek and Franek having breakfast, preparing and leaving at 7:50.  It felt deliciously decadent to stay in bed until 8:15.

A few errands today and tomorrow plus some coffee/lunch dates with old friends.

National Library in Warsaw
11 June
Tomorrow’s the big day.  I meet with Franek’s English class to tell them about two places where I have lived — Africa, because it’s more exotic than the Balkans to the average eight-year-old in Poland, and Minnesota, less exotic but still different from Poland.  I am really  %^&(*&^$ that somehow all of my pictures from South Sudan are gone, off in the atmosphere somewhere and I have no idea how or when.  Thanks to Niamh and Ethan (friends David and Olga’s kids) I have great photos from a recent trip their family took to Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.

Jacek, Dorota’s husband, is working on my files to ensure we can play them tomorrow.  I use only Apple software (don’t get me started on Microsoft) but can save/convert files to MS programs.  So I did everything in Keynote, saved it, then saved another file in PowerPoint.  I even figured out how to add music!  A group of kids singing “Kumbayah” will play behind the Africa slides, and Bob Dylan singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” will play with Minnesota.  Wish me luck!

12 June
Whew!  I survived.  The kids were great, mostly attentive, very few questions.  I left them half a dozen children’s books in English that I had gotten at the library store in Minneapolis.  The slide shows worked flawlessly, even the music came on as programmed.  Originally I was going to have to start the music program, pause, start the slides, then re-start the music.  But I found a couple of slides that I wanted to add to each show and had to re-save them in Keynote, then again transfer/save in PowerPoint.  When doing this, I got a popup about updating Keynote, so I did that, and when it saved to PPT, it had a different file extension … and the music played when the slideshow started.  OMG, am I becoming competent at computer things?  Has hell frozen over?

Jacek & Franek
Tonight friend G joined Dorota, Jacek, Franek and me; she’s a American friend who lives and works in Warsaw that I’ve know for years.  We went to a nearby “Arabski” restaurant, a new location for a restaurant we’ve been to before and loved.  In fact, Dorota and Jacek have been eating here since Franek was a baby so the waitress (same one over eight years) knows them.  We had a delicious array of hummus, tzatziki, pita, falafel etc.  Then back to the flat for some cold wine and a long catch up.  G’s mother, who is undergoing chemo, is doing well; she’ll return to the States later in summer to attend a wedding and see her mom again.  

Rain storm with lots of lovely lightning and thunder tonight.  Nice way to fall asleep.

Dorota at market


14 June, Puławy, Poland
Yesterday in Warsaw was hot, hot, hot.  Dorota and I walked to the nearby “bazarek,” outdoor market, kind of like a farmer’s market in the US, and were sweating when we returned.  We bought fresh veggies and fruits for supper,  Strawberries are at their peak, and Polish strawberries are the best.  And I saw bób (pronounced boob), the big beans that I’ve never seen outside Poland although I hear you can find them at Whole Foods for about a day.  I bought a loaf of bread to take to Puławy; it’s the closest to a bread that Dorota makes and I love.

After shopping, it was off finally to visit POLIN, the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews that covers more than 1000 years of history.
Bima at POLIN Museum
The eight galleries of the Core Exhibit use multi-media visual and audio, photos and art to tell the story of how Jews fled persecution in Western Europe for the forests of Poland.  They eventually became the largest Jewish population on the continent.  I will need to return to appreciate the whole thing. My foot and back started to resist about half way through.  It’s all concrete flooring and you go up/down stairs frequently.  I think someone from IKEA helped them layout the exhibition as you cannot take a shortcut easily.

Today I took the train from Warszawa Centralna to Puławy to visit friend Ewa, our translator for board meetings. 

More changes at the train station — some still under construction, some implemented.  New train cars were a big surprise, including the one I rode here.  Very modern in appearance, clean, quieter than I recall.  Didn’t use the restroom but assume toilets no longer flush onto the tracks.  
Sleek new train car

Ewa teaches English in a high school and also has a small business providing certified translations.  Her husband has his own business too and is traveling.  Their daughter leaves in the morning for a school trip to Prague.  Son Alex was just graduated from high school and awaits the results of his “matura” exams to determine which universities he qualifies to attend.  All Polish high school graduates must take matura exams in several subjects in order to graduate.  Alex will attend medical school, directly out of high school as is the practice here.

Tomorrow I’m speaking to two of Ewa’s English classes.  

15 June
Another “whew!!!” moment.  After arriving yesterday, I realized I needed to prepare a totally different slide show for Ewa’s two classes — longer (the classes last almost two hours with a break halfway) and broader.  So that’s what I did.  I am continuing to surprise myself at my ability of use Keynote, then transfer to PowerPoint.  I probably shouldn’t be surprised since user friendliness is a huge reason why I buy Apple products.  But I found enough photos to make a decent presentation on Minnesota and other places that I’ve lived and/or visited.  This morning I awoke with terrible stomach acid (nerves, I’m sure) and realized that I had photos from Greece and Warsaw that I hadn’t included.  Took a Zantac (don’t leave home without them) and spent half an hour fiddling with the presentation.  Wish I’d had some London pix as Ewa lived there for some time (hence her British inflections and words when she speaks English). I got the new presentation to save in the new PPTX version (another feat) on my desktop, then copied that onto Ewa’s thumb drive which we used on her classroom laptop.

Oh, it was pouring rain when I awoke this morning too.  We weren’t sure anyone would attend class because grades have already been provided to the school administration.  Add the bad weather and if I were 18, I’d’ve stayed in bed today.

Ewa's classroom

Both classes of kids were great and well attended.  Besides introductions and my presentation, they had desserts — homemade cakes, fresh strawberries, Eton Mess (an Eton College specialty that Ewa introduced) and peanut butter-and-cucumber sandwiches (not as bad as it sounded).   The first group was older (17-18 year olds), had been studying English longer and had some good questions.  Group two included students from another class so was much larger and I think as a result, a bit more reserved.  But they did have time to administer their quiz testing my knowledge of Poland.  I didn’t do too badly … missed three or four of 25.  They gave me a lovely certificate and pen set as a ‘thank you.’

This isn’t a political blog and I don’t follow politics closely anywhere, but several of you have emailed me about Poland’s recent presidential election.  Hence, a bit of info on the drama. 

Ewa and I watched the news on television tonight and learned that Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz (yes, the PM of Poland is female) has started naming new ministers.  A few days ago half her government resigned, ostensibly over what was on some audio tapes leaked to the media a while back.  A bunch of high-ranking officials were recorded at a trendy Warsaw restaurant bad mouthing the US.  Th leaks caused quite a stir, to say the least.  And that’s undoubtedly part of the story, but some think Kopacz’s party, PO (Civic Platform), needs to make significant changes if it wants to hold the majority in this fall’s elections to the Sejm (Congress/Parliament).  

Poles, like other Europeans and Americans, want “change” from the current political landscape despite how ill-detailed those changes may be by the self-appointed change agents.  PO has been in power for quite some time, and Poland’s done well under their leadership, having for example avoided the last global economic crisis.  The president elect’s party, PiS (Law & Justice), is the party of the dead president Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother and former PM Jarosław Kaczynski.  You’ve probably heard me refer to the Kaczynskis as the “the chipmunks,” the animals used to portray them on Polski Zoo, a TV satire on Polish politics that I watched faithfully when I first arrived here in 1991.

In the May presidential election, President Komorowski was forced into a run off by a rock musician (independent Paweł Kukiz) and a virtually unknown lawyer (last minute PiS candidate Andrzej Duda).  In total, 11 candidates from other parties provided necessary signatures to be on the ballot of the total of 23 who registered or expressed public interest.  

In round one Duda actually got more votes than Komorowski, but not enough to win.  In round two Duda got more than 51 per cent of the votes.  Duda’s a young, good looking, charismatic fellow who’ll have limited power as president (the prime minister “rules” in Poland).  But with the good showing of his party in the presidential race, the worry for many now is the fall elections to the Sejm.  They fear that PiS will take the nation backward.

16 June
Awoke at 5:50 am to such bright sunshine that I was sure it was 8.  Since I didn’t need to be up, I laid back down and dozed until 8.  It is a gorgeous day outside so I’ll get ready and take a walk while Ewa’s at school.  When she returns, we’re going to do a bit of sightseeing to places I haven’t seen before.


Ruins of Janowiec Castle

Menorah at
Kazimierz Dolny
I walked for more than an hour, then returned to have a small lunch and read until Ewa returned.  We drove to Janowiec Castle and Kazimierz Dolny, including a short ferry ride across the Wisła River from one to the other. Janowiec was built in the 16th Century by Mikołaj Firlej and sits high above the village of Janowiec.  Like my favorite castle in Poland, Krzyżtopór, Janowiec was seriously damaged by the “Swedish hordes” in the mid 17th Century and despite subsequent owners’ efforts, it remained largely a ruins. It’s now part of a larger regional museum.  Kazimierz Dolny is a medieval town of the same vintage as Sandomierz, only it gets many times more tourists because the town’s been organized for them for years and roadway access to the town from Warsaw is much better.  My first visit was as a Peace Corps trainee in 1991 … and they were pretty well prepared even then.  This trip Ewa and I specifically went to see how the old synagogue, which was being used as a movie theater when I visited in ’92.  More recently, it had been turned into a museum of Kazimierz Jewry.  The museum currently has a photo display about Jewish life in the town. 

When we got back to Ewa’s, I went online and learned that my brother-in-law Jim has died of cancer in Fargo.  Jim was my late ex-husband Bob’s youngest brother and a member of our wedding party.  I called Joan, his wife, and talked briefly to her and to my sister-in-law Elyse, wife of Steve, the last of the four Hagen boys.  I wasn’t able to reach Mark, Jim’s older son.  The funeral will be Friday in Fargo.  When I get to Hala’s tomorrow, I’ll see if I can make it to Fargo in time.

17 June, Hala & Michał’s farm, Cermin, Poland, near Sandomierz
Remember the film Planes, Trains & Automobiles?  That’s what I feel like, only you can add buses to the list.  I took a fully packed mini-bus from Lublin to Sandomierz this afternoon.  After circumnavigating road work on the bus station’s street in Sandomierz, Hala and I finally connected.  Home at last.

Kozłowski Palace
This morning Ewa and I set out at 8:30 from Puławy to Kozłówski Palace, a beautiful palace last owned by the Zamojski family (they built Zamość where Hala, Steve and I visited after the board meeting).  The lack of road signs to direct us troubled Ewa for a bit, but we eventually found a couple and eventually, the palace … only to discover no tour tickets were available until 12:30, the time we needed to be in Lublin. We visited an exhibition about bathrooms, quite interesting.  Then, while I visited the museum of Soviet sculptures, intrepid Ewa returned to the ticket seller to check on no shows for the 11 am tour and was successful.  The tour was well worth the effort.  Although the guide spoke in Polish, she spoke evenly, simply and in just the right amount of detail.  None of the “in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth” stuff we used to always get on tours.

Part of bath exhibit

Entrance to Communist \art exhibit:
The Enemy will entice
you with Coca Cola
The drive to Lublin was over a new highway and fast, we found parking near the bus station, bought my ticket for the 3:35 mini-bus to Sandomierz, then went in search of lunch.  A restaurant that Ewa remembered, The Vanilla Cafe, had been remodeled but still offered delicious food including its own flourless Thousand Year Cake.  We shared one piece that would have fed at least two more, but it was so worth the calories.  Ewa has a recipe, less sweet she said; she’ll send it to me.
Ceiling of Vanilla Cafe

Ticketed passengers and reservations were able to board the 20-or-so person mini-bus first, and I’m so thankful I had a ticket.  We were so full that four non-reservation passengers were left behind.  And buses between Lublin and Sandomierz are few and far between.  I waved to Ewa and off we went.

Once at the farm, I checked online to see if it would be possible to fly back to the US for Jim’s funeral on Friday.  And between time zones and an exorbitant cost, I can’t make it.  Travel sucks when you’re far away at times like these.  My sister’s going to take care of sending flowers for us.  And I’ve already emailed several friends about a possible road trip to Fargo to see Joan and to Brainerd to see brother-in-law Steve and family when I’m back in Minneapolis.

19 June, Sandomierz
Argh!  I am definitely not used to working all day.  I put on my big-lady clothes (dressy pants suit from my former life) and went to a conference the Center held for winners of its business plan competition for area high schools.  It was fun to see what the student teams’ “dream” businesses are, and I can see some promise in a few.  I especially liked “The Modern Witches” and also the group working with bees and honey.  It was hard sitting for hours, despite the breaks, so I didn’t stay for lunch.  Walked back to the Center office (the conference was at the castle) and had a Greek salad … and edited the hotel’s restaurant menu.  I found a couple of typos as I was looking for something light to eat, and once an editor …  I know Monika, the restaurant owner/manager, so I don’t think she’ll be offended.

Zara, my sleeping companion, looks a lot like Stu

22 June, home sweet home in Minneapolis MN USA
Saturday was a day of sorting and packing and driving.  Hala drove me to Warsaw because she was receiving an award for her and the Center’s work with entrepreneurs at a gala that evening.  I was her “plus one,” something I’ve been many times since I’ve known her because Michał won’t attend such events.  Though long for someone facing a 4 am wake up call, the event was nicely done and efficiently run, and food and drink abounded as it only can at a Polish affair.  We exited shortly after the dance band started.

Sunday’s travel to the US was uneventful.  In AMS, I helped the young man seated next to me on the WAW-AMS flight and his friends through Immigration (you leave the EU in AMS when going to the US).  They were flying for the first time and en route to New York City to take part in a work-travel program. 

My sister picked me up at MSP, and later we went to dinner at Ling & Louie’s on Nicollet Mall.  I walked, wearing a new pair of shoes.  Wrong thing to do, but thankfully I could ride the free bus most of the way back. Once home, I couldn’t keep myself awake.  I was sound asleep by 7:30.  Now here I am, awake at 4 am and unable to go back to sleep.  Jet lag — another part of travel that sucks. 

Just read in today’s theSkimm email that LOT, the Polish airline, had its system hacked and 1400 passengers were left without flights yesterday.  Wow!  Glad I wasn’t on LOT.

23 June
Back to water ex today.  Felt good.  Should help me sleep longer tonight.  I was awake at 3:30 this morning and finally got out of bed at 4:30 since I knew I’d never fall back to sleep.  Had two big things on my “to do” list, and one was to email my high school friend Suzie about a time for us to talk about our class’ 70th birthday party this fall.  And what did I find when I opened my email — a message from Suzie about the party.  I’m working on the email list while she works on venues.  The other big thing was to schedule my bone density test, which I did after water ex when the clinic was open.

26 June
Talked to Inga yesterday, and I’ll go to DC on 6 July for a week.   Inga and Tosia leave for three weeks in Poland on 2 July.  Frankie’s friend Aga will leave on 7th, then she’s alone until she leaves for CA with a friend’s family.  So I’ll go there to keep her company.  It’ll be hotter than hell, but I do love being in the area.  Will have to think of something fun for Frankie … day trip somewhere, maybe.

Went out to Apple the other night and got help transferring our class email list to e-vites.  I doubt that I could do it again on my own, but at least the bulk of people are online.  I can input updates as we get them.

28 June
A wild and busy day.  Up for an early Skype call with Violane who’s seven hours later in Belgrade, then quick look at email and CBS Sunday Morning and off to an hour of high intensity water ex with Andrew (got a preview of this class when he subbed for my Saturday morning class).  After the shower, shave etc. routine, I drove over to Janet & Ed’s hoping to catch their son Thom and secure a ride to the airport next Sunday.  Mission accomplished, along with some quality time catching up with Janet.  I no sooner got home than my sister Barbara called and asked me to come look at a condo that Tomery was considering.  My niece has decided to buy a condo rather than rent; she’s already qualified with the bank and wants to spend much less than they’ll lend her if she can, but downtown area locations are in high demand.  The condo is not far from Barbara’s in the North Loop (old Warehouse District).  It’s in a late 19th century building — high ceilings, exposed beams and air ducts, big windows with lots of light.  Small galley kitchen with stainless steel appliances.  Loft bedroom with two huge closets.  Two big closets in entry hall with washer and dryer in one nearest the nicely appointed bathroom.  Just under 800 square feet and a great price.  She’s put in an offer, and now we all wait.  Once back home, I finally got a bite of lunch and a few minutes to relax while the skies darkened.  I decided not to walk over to Loring Park for the Pride Festival.  It’s always crowded but this year, following the Supreme Court ruling, the place will be even more jammed and not really need my support.  A brief but short downpour. Then clean clothes and make up to prepare for dinner with Barbara and my niece Michelle at a new Italian restaurant downtown.  No more rain and I wanted the exercise, so I chose to grab an umbrella and walk.  Dinner was excellent — company and food.  The restaurant is in the same location as the old Forum whose art deco interior is historically protected.  Haven’t been in there for decades, but when I moved here in the ‘70s and worked downtown, friends and I used to go to the Forum for lunch.  Walked home and enjoyed half an hour on my deck, then this and soon bed.  I’m pooped.

30 June
What a storm we had yesterday, a real gulley washer complete with lightning and one-inch hail balls.  I had driven up to Andover to see nephew Craig, his fiancee and son Alijah (Jaiden is in South Dakota for a while), and we all went to The Olive Garden for dinner.  As we were packing leftovers, Craig noticed the dark sky and we could hear the hail.  The parking lot was dotted with small ponds of water and and ice balls.  The storm was heading in the direction of downtown Minneapolis, just like I was, so it rained all the way home.

July will mean more travel.  Friend Inga leaves for Poland on Thursday with Tosia, and I’ll fly to DC on Sunday to be Frankie’s “adult presence” for a week.  In between, Tomek will play that role.  And when I leave, Frankie flies off to California with a friend and her family.  Later in the month I will probably make a quick short trip to Vermont.  Dianna, a friend from my Macedonia days, received a bad health diagnosis.  It will be wonderful to see her, just wish the occasion were less stressful.  On a more positive note: Jean will be here from CA, relaxing at her cabin where I’ll visit; Jim and Irina will be in town from Moldova; and a group of us is all set to watch fireworks and celebrate my brother’s birthday on Saturday, the Fourth of July!

New taxi service in Warsaw

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