Thursday, October 8, 2015

30 days hath September …

1 September 2015, Minneapolis MN USA
Well, I seem to have started this month as I ended the last, battling computers.  After a lovely catch-up lunch with Peace Corps friend Tom, he dropped me on Hennepin Avenue and I walked over to Government Center to renew my driver’s license.  Because it was stiflingly hot and humid, I opted for the skyway system, which is mostly air conditioned, even though it would be a longer walk.  At GC, I took two escalators down and walked over to the Service Center … only to find they couldn’t renew my license because the state’s computers were down.  Ah, well.  There’s always snail mail … or another location on another day.

2 September
I swear to God, Andrew worked us twice as hard at water ex “boot camp” this morning because it’s our last class for a while.  The pool closes for maintenance tomorrow and doesn’t reopen until the 14th.  We were discussing what to do re exercise during that time, and Andrew suggested something on land.  We all gave him a big boooo.  But we did look at some options that wouldn’t tax our fins too much.

4 September
Labor Weekend is underway.  Did a conference call with Violane in Belgrade.  She will be moving to Tajikistan in the near future.  Now, I will definitely try to visit her there!  Seriously, I will.  I have another friend who I think is still there; I haven’t heard from Barbara D. in a while.  We had worked together in Belgrade and had met in Warsaw when I was going to a board meeting and her international agency was meeting there.  I sent an email to connect them.

Unsure how the roads would be traffic- and construction-wise today, I was going to beg off my fairly regular trip to Northfield to see Lois.  But she sounded a bit down when I called and I’m glad I changed my mind.  Her son is having major surgery near his vocal chords in a couple of weeks.  He has a very unusual cancer that can only be treated surgically, and his previous surgeries weren’t in such delicate spots.  We had lunch at The James Gang coffee shop, ran errands and generally enjoyed gabbing.  

5 September, my late son Peter’s 43rd birthday and nephew/Godson Craig’s 37th
‘Nuff said for now.

6 September
Wow!  Had a fantastic time celebrating Craig’s birthday with him and his family.  I got them a night at the Hyatt so we could see some city sights.  After they arrived Saturday afternoon, we drove down the street to the Minneapolis Institute of Art where Van Gogh’s Irises is on display as part of the museum’s 100th anniversary year.  It is an awesome work.  We visited lots of other exhibits too, rather quickly as Alijah, age 2, led the way, on a run.

We checked them into the hotel, went for a snack and some coffee at a nearby Caribou, then returned to the hotel for a swim.  April and I watched while Craig and the boys splashed and jumped and generally enjoyed the water.

METACON, a huge convention of comic book, anime, gaming and such devotees, was also at the hotel, making elevating up and down a lengthy business.  And travel to and fro within the hotel veeeeery interesting.  Almost every conventioneer was dressed as his/her favorite character. Alijah and Jaiden, 10, had a ball people watching, as did we adults.

Alijah is always in high gear and keeping him seated at a dinner table is definitely a challenge.  When I asked Craig what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he picked steak.  Since downtown steak spots are very adult-centric, dinner in the hotel dining room seemed the best bet.  And it was.  The hostess gave us a huge circular banquette away from the mass of diners, Craig got his steak, April and I enjoyed “spaghetti” zucchini and squash, and we all dug into Craig’s birthday dessert — a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie pie with ice cream.  Afterwards, they walked me part way home.

This morning we met at 11, after they’d checked out of the hotel and packed the car, and we planned the day. They dropped me at Apple in Uptown; my phone had died the night before and I was unable to make it work.  They went southward for a meeting and to check out a shop April likes.  We met again at 2 for lunch at my neighborhood Black Sheep pizza, where Alijah ran off all of our calories, then we went over to the Walker Sculpture Garden, where he could run in the grass.  Jaiden and I had hoped to get in a game of mini-golf on the artist-designed course.  Unfortunately the wait time was more than an hour.  We wandered all over the sculpture garden before they dropped me at home and drove back to Andover.
Spoonbridge & Cherry & Boys

At Apple, my plan was to get my phone fixed.  That took about 20 seconds.  The Genius Bar scheduler did a “hard re-boot,” something I’d never heard of, and it restarted, very slowly but we were back in working order.  While I was there, I figured I’d just check out iPads.  Ever since I tried friend Ed’s iPad with a real keyboard, I’ve been seriously considering one in hopes of traveling even lighter than my MacAir.  But I need a new phone more, or so I thought.  As I handed over my credit card, I remembered my friend Jean’s cousin who, back when Jean and I were in grad school, went to his Cadillac dealer to replace a stolen hood ornament (are you old enough to remember those?) — and drove out in a new Caddie.  I bought the bigger, older iPad Air and a keyboard-cover from a very helpful human being, not a salesperson and not a computer voice, a real person who helped me make sense of the various pricing, storage, generations, etc. 

Now I am putting up my feet and reading before I call it a night.  It’s been a perfect weekend.

7 September, Labor Day and friend Marilou’s birthday
We’re celebrating Marilou’s birthday tomorrow with a late lunch at Ciao Bella.

Friend and neighbor Maryanne and I had open days today, so agreed to food-movie-walk or some combination.  We ended up with a walk to St. Anthony Main to see A Walk in the Woods, then busing back to dinner at my place.  I had some wild-caught salmon in the freezer that I combined with corn on the cob, homemade apple sauce and a salad.  Salted caramel ice cream for dessert.  Not bad for a non-cook.

Since the weather had cooled a little, the walk was pleasant and doable even after my walk around Lake Harriet in the morning.  The movie was a hoot.  At some points we were in tears from laughing so hard.  

8 September
Craig and April are always very thoughtful.  I got the cutest text today, a “thank you” video from Jaiden and Alijah.  If I am able, I’ll include it here for you to see.

I miss water ex!  It’s been such an anchor to my days.  Went to Gentle Yoga at Blaisdell this morning.  Marjie from water ex also there.  Mary K., an instructor I really like, was supposed to teach (one reason I went) but had to give up the class.  The temp leader was actually quite good — full of humor and lots of options for various poses.  May have to keep attending even after water ex returns.

Had a lovely, relaxing lunch with Marilou to celebrate her birthday.  She loved the book I gave her; the author was the chief copyeditor for The New Yorker magazine.  We shared a salad and two small plates and were too stuffed to eat her birthday dessert.  We did each take a bite though, and it was everything the waitress promised — this perfect lemon dessert rivals the key lime pie from Red Lobster for best non-chocolate dessert.

9 September
Still cool weather and a bit of rain again.  Glad I got over to Lake Harriet to walk before it started.  Actually, I was getting ready to sit on my deck and do the crossword when I noticed the rain.  Argh!  No deck time today.

Dinner with Tomery at Black Sheep.  Always glad to have time to talk with her and learn what’s going on in her world.  She finally was able to meet with her assistants about their schedules and change them to provide better coverage all week and allow T to not work every weekend!

Got home from dinner — raining so I was glad for the ride from Tomery — and when I checked email, friend Bob had forwarded a message from Slobodanka, a friend/colleague from my project in Macedonia.  Check it out.  The #1 company was one we spent a lot of time and money on, and I’m always glad to see them continuing to do well.

10 September
Definitely fall in the air.  I love it!

Susan’s eye surgery yesterday went well although at the moment she cannot see much more than shapes and she’s still in some paid.  I cannot imagine what that’t like, and some day I will have to have cataract surgery and be in that position.  i visited Susan while Zoe cleaned this afternoon.  Zoe confirmed that she and her beau are leaving Minneapolis at the end of the month, first for Iowa (where his parents are) and later Oregon (where they want to start a new life).  It’s a wonderful adventure for Zoe and I’m happy for her, but I will miss her.  

After dropping off Zoe, I stopped at Antiquified, my friend and former client Julie's "new" shop in Northeast Minneapolis.  Julie's been in this wonderful space for months, but between the foot and my travels, this was my first trip.  It a much better space than "the Alamo" was (that's what we called the building across from the old Northeast Enterprise Facilitation office because the facade looked like the Alamo).  Anyway, Julie has done a wonderful job of displaying my childhood!

Another trip to Apple cuz my iPad keyboard isn’t working.  The Genius tested everything and determined I had a defective keyboard, so exchanged that for a new one that works perfectly.  I’ve been mostly reading in the Kindle app, but when I’m traveling, I’ll need to do emails.  Glad the keyboard works and my fingers find it comfortable.

11 September, 14th anniversary of four monumentally tragic airplane crashes
Lots of remembrances of September 11, 2011, on TV, in the papers etc.  I still get chills when I think about it.  When I’m in PA for my high school class’ collective 70th birthday party, I’ll participate in a fundraising walk for the newly opened Flight 93 National Memorial.  That’s the plane that was diverted by passengers and crashed in a field in southwestern Pennsylvania instead of the White House, the flight’s destination.  I’m proud to call friend someone who’s been actively involved in the realization of the memorial, our class president Lance.  If I did this correctly, you can see some of the beautiful photos taken by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photographer at the memorial’s opening (and see Lance in photo #11).

12 September
After a hectic day of running errands all over the Cities, I relaxed at an outstanding performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni last night with Maryanne and two water ex pals, Lynn and Marjie.  We weren’t sure what to expect from a Twin Cities Fringe Opera production other than a chance to see Andrew, our water ex instructor, in the chorus.  But what we experienced was incredible — beautiful voices, modern costuming, minimalist set and the best translations I’ve ever read — concise, pointed, profane and often quite funny.  For example, after Don Giovanni convinces his reluctant manservant to pretend to be him and woo Elvira, he watches from the bushes and comments, “By God, I think the bastard’s enjoying himself.”  Wolfie Mozart would’ve approved.

14 September
Busy day.  Ran some errands in the morning, then headed to lunch with friend Ted whom I haven’t seen in months.  Never realized how far out in Bloomington he and Mary live until I Google mapped it.  We usually meet somewhere in South Minneapolis for breakfast or lunch.  Anyway, considering all he’s been through health-wise, he looked pretty good.  He’s still using a walker but can drive, so next week we may go out to lunch.  Oh, and he and Mary have a second grandson.  Sam now has a baby brother named Oscar.  I love that all the old fashioned names are returning.

At rush hour, of course, I headed to Golden Valley to visit with Marilyn a while.  She was away at a quilters’ retreat last week.  The route I drove was circuitous since I had to avoid the one highway that I should’ve used; Highway 100 is one lane in some places.  But I made it in under an hour!  (Highway 100 was my mom’s landmark when she’d come to visit.  She said she always knew if she could get there, she could find her way to wherever I was living at the time.)

Back home, I pulled the dark clothes out of the washing machine and hung them to dry.  In addition to two pairs of black socks, a fifth black sock was in the mix — a sock I don’t ever recall seeing before and it definitely isn’t mine.  Do-do do-do, do-do do-do (that’s the Twilight Zone theme, in case you don’t recognize it).  Tomery moved to Barbara’s five months ago, but I wonder if it’s hers?

15 September
Water ex is back!  Hurray!

Spent a very fruitful hour with a Genius at the Southdale Apple store; she’s renewed my faith in that store’s employees to be helpful and civil.  My laptop, phone and iPad are now all coordinated, and I actually understand them all better.  Afterwards, I baked 49 gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for friend Jan’s granddaughter Maddie’s bat mitzvah next month.  Jan said she’d freeze them for me.  

16 September
Well attended reception for pioneering feminist Arvonne Fraser’s 90th birthday preceded by informative panel on what remains to be done.  Janet and Ed, Jan and I went together, and saw many others, Sally, Susan S.,Friends of Central Library folks.  

17 September, aboard USAir flight from Charlotte NC to Boston MA
Whew!  I made it.  

Because I’m using a USAir credit, I have to fly to Boston via Charlotte NC.  Janet was once again kind enough to take me to the airport … at 3:30 am!  I had my boarding passes and checked my suitcase quickly, then had to traverse almost to the total other end of the airport to find the end of the Security line.  No TSA/Pre open at 4 am, and only one Security entrance.  The line moved fairly quickly, thankfully, and we boarded just fine, then sat for almost an hour because a rain storm landed upon us.  I wasn’t sure I’d make the connection since I had barely more than an hour between flights.  I was totally prepared to have to wait for the next CLT-BOS flight and totally delighted to find my new gate just a few doors down from where I landed.  A very fast walk and I made it.  Now for some coffee and one of the flax muffins I got last night at Kowalski’s.  The gluten-free carrot muffins are amazingly tasty and not terribly calorie laden.  And my iPad with keyboard is working as planned — perfectly!

18 September, Braintree MA
Things have gone well so far.  Yesterday my suitcase and I both arrived at Logan Airport, I found the bus to Braintree easily, Dianna’s step-mother Patty found me at the Logan Express depot in Braintree.  For the rest of the day, Dianna and I talked and talked and talked.

Today we went to Brigham & Women’s Hospital via her dad’s SUV since she couldn’t get approval for an ambulance in time.  Disappointing for me, less than ideal comfort-wise for Dianna but better than trying to sit in a car.  At the first appointment we were able to get her a gurney which she rode the rest of the day.  Test results known so far are pretty good; MRI will tell more.  Now we’re home enjoying Patty’s leftover chicken parmigiana and spaghetti.

19 September, Newton MA
Dianna and I spent a quiet day talking and for a while, visiting with Patty’s sister Jean who dropped by.  Patty and Dianna’s dad Charlie went on a board ride with some of Patty’s large family.  They were such gracious hosts.  Patty took me to the T station for my next adventure — a trip into Boston on the T — and a shuttle bus because of some construction on the line.

Met Peace Corps friend Larry at the appointed T station, then we joined  his family (Karen, Jonah, Spike) and Karen’s mom for a walk through the Rose Kennedy Garden and dinner at Scollay Square.  Now to bed …

22 September, Minneapolis MN
Home again, and off and running.  Only here a few days but much to do.  Back to water ex.  Maryla’s sent more files for her Marriott award entry (did I tell you that I am helping her with that?).

Perfect weekend in Boston — gorgeous weather so we were outside at every opportunity.  On Sunday we watched Jonah’s baseball game.  He is quite an accomplished base stealer as well as a good batter.  I tagged along to the synagogue for lunch and a parents’ intro to an art-and-Judaism program that Spike will participate in.  Part of the tour included an in-depth explanation of the architecture and construction of the temple, which was quite fascinating.  Watched the Patriots game while we noshed on Thai food — Larry had DVR’d the game, and all afternoon Karen reminded everyone to avoid hearing the final score.  It was an exciting game; Pats won.  Monday morning I basked in the sunshine on their patio until it was time to leave for the airport. 

23 September
So, this morning I get an email that Groupon has a $5 sale — lots of items deeply discounted to $5.  Among them a football team branded reusable tote bag.  And right on the opening page, there’s a Steelers’s bag — perfect Christmas gift for my sister.  (We don’t really buy each other gifts any more, but I try to find some small meaningful item for her.)  Log in, drag down the team list and Pittsburgh Steelers is gray, not black, and I can’t select it.  I keep telling you, Steeler fans are loyal.  The Steelers’ tote is already sold out!

Drove out to Bloomington for lunch with Ted.  He can drive since his car’s an automatic.  So we ventured to a favorite spot, The Olive Garden.  He did their two-fer and now has dinner for tomorrow night when Mary’s at her book club.

Gnawed on wings at Runyon’s with Tomery and heard more about her new condo.  She really downsized her storage before moving furniture etc. and bought a new bedroom set.  She wants to paint some of the walls/rooms before she moves in to live; she’s still at her mom’s.  

25 September, Somerset PA
Wonderful friend Janet again arose early to take me to the airport, this time for my slightly saner 7:15 am flight to Pittsburgh.  However, my transport karma remains bad — flight left late, rental car computer was down, couldn’t find location of car in airport garage and Pennsylvania is “enjoying” the same season as Minnesota — Road Repair.  Finally got to Somerset and Suzie and Lance’s house, where I’m staying for two nights — now off to lunch with them.

26 September
What a fantastic day!  Some 41 classmates and spouses came to our collective 70th birthday party at Seven Springs Resort, actually found the Chestnut Room (not in the main building; down one flight, right, right, left, right).  Several folks who haven’t attended any class events since the 20th reunion decided to return.  Buffet lunch was plentiful though the potato salad (one of my favorites) had too many uncooked potatoes.  Sang “happy birthday” and enjoyed a delicious cake made by the resort baker.  Jim D. brought a good camera and took lots of photos that we’ll post.  Lots of catching up, story telling, reminiscing.  Many of us adjourned to the bar and kept on until early evening.  We decided we’ll do this every year, and Pinky volunteered the barn at her sister’s place near Donegal.  Already counting the days!  

A few of the photos ... let's see if I remember everyone!

Don M., Bucky M. & I 
Noreen, Jane's husband Jim & Jane, Daryl and
Lance, in front and behind, Tom's wife, Tom B.
and Suzie, co-organizer
Sitting, Judy & Gene's wife;
standing, unidentified spouse, Glenn, Gene, Suzie,
Carole (partly hidden), Alana and I
27 September
Perfect fall weather today in my favorite mountains in the world.  After I packed up and said thank you and goodbye to Suzie and Lance, I drove to the hotel where I’m staying tonight, the Inn at MountainView.  Apparently the original MountainView Hotel that I remember was torn down.  Because it was so old, it was too expensive to operate or renovate, but it’s still on the hilltop.  En route, I did a very fast stop in Linn Run State Park, my spiritual home and where my cremains (and what’s left of Peter’s) will go eventually.  Got to the hotel about 30 minutes before high school classmate Glenn arrived.  

Glenn drove the backroads of our mountains while I just sat back, relaxed and delighted in the day.  We stopped at two wineries to savor the good weather and taste new wines.  We went to dinner at Johanna and Gary’s farm.  Gary was an extension advisor from Penn State University assigned to Sandomierz inn 2004 when I was there; Johanna and their three then-preschoolers joined him.  Glenn knows them through his 4-H involvement.  They all discovered they knew me through my blog.  Needless to say, the kids are all grown up.  Two were able to join us for dinner, Danielle and Jason; Alyssa was away.  I didn’t say, “My, how they’ve grown,” though I did allow as it’s been a loooong time since I last saw them.  Gary and Johanna still work for Penn State, and she’s still raising sheep.  It was great to see them, and will definitely visit again when I’m in PA.  And I pitched a deer hunting trip to MN since he’s an active deer hunter and says out deer are much bigger than those in PA. 

I haven’t checked email for a couple of days, so downloaded more than 100, deleted about 75 percent of those and found a message from Barbara D.  She’s in DC, awaiting a new assignment, but is happy to help Violane as V prepares for a move to Tajikistan.

28 September, Pittsburgh International Airport
Here I am, hours early.  But it’s pouring rain, road repair season is in high gear, and it’s more than an hour between my mountaintop hotel and this airport in the best weather.  Now the car’s returned, my suitcase checked, and I’ve navigated through security and located my gage.  Lots of time to wander and sit, read and eat … but not shop.  PIT is known for its policy that stores and restaurants of any kind cannot charge more at the airport than they do at outlets in the city.  So the central area where the concourses originate is one big shopping mall.  I’m told that some passengers plan longer layovers just to shop here.  If you need a gift with the kid or whomever, it sure beats getting ripped off elsewhere!

29 September, Minneapolis MN
Fall has fell.  Got so chilly in the middle of the night that I awoke and switched to a flannel nightgown.  After water ex, I stripped the bed and in addition to putting on clean sheets, I replaced the summer comforter for the winter one.  I added my long summer tee-shirt nightgown into the wash too; I’m sticking with flannel.

30 September
Looks who’s watching my door again.

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