Hot time in the summertime …
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL READERS:
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
July 1, Minneapolis MN USA
BBQ’d chicken, grilled fresh asparagus, corn on the cob and homemade pear tart — friend Sabrina sure knows how to start a summer month! I joined Sabrina, her husband Mark and son Christopher for dinner at their home in St. Paul and for an early celebration of their wedding anniversary. I cannot believe they’e been 18 years already.
My friend Dianna who was diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer is having surgery on Tuesday. Once she’s home and settled, then I’ll find a way to go visit her in Vermont.
July 4, Independence Day in the USA and my brother Dan’s and cousin Marsha’s birthday
|A small burst of fireworks to honor Dan's b'day|
Caught Dan as he was running errands in LaQuinta CA and sang my usual off-key version of Happy Birthday, then chatted for a while. He’s playing golf with a grad school friend today … in 110 degree heat!
Tonight, watching fireworks off Boom Island with friend Janet, sister Barbara, nephew Christopher and his sweetie Jen.
6 July, Baltimore MD Airport
Got my exercise today hustling through Midway Airport in Chicago. Took Southwest to Baltimore and had plane and concourse change. But made it. Spent $40 to upgrade and got a great seat with loads of legroom. Tomek, Frankie and Aga (her friend from Poland) just arrived so I’m off to Bethesda for a week.
7 July, Bethesda MD
Frankie and Aga were sound asleep when I left for Pilates at Simon Says Yoga. I was glad to find that Julie is still teaching. She’s such a good instructor. Afterwards my body ached but in a good way! I plan to return for her Wednesday class.
The girls went off to the mall for some last minute shopping; Aga leaves tomorrow for Kraków. And Frankie passed all of her AP (Advanced Placement) tests — one 3 and two 4s. That could mean credit for those classes at her college in a year or maybe just being able to skip a required course. Tonight we’ll celebrate that and say “bye” to Aga.
Spent much of the day visiting Washington monuments that Aga hadn’t seen yet, then back home for final packing and off to Dulles. Frankie’s been doing a lot of the driving, and I’m pleased to see that she’s a good, careful driver.
|Aga and Frankie take a "goodbye selfie"|
Frankie’s decided she’d like to see Penn State, and it’ll be interesting for me. Last time I was there I was about her age or a year or two younger. I told her about the PSU Creamery’s famous ice cream, and we agreed a visit there is a must. We’ll leave for PA tomorrow after her doctor’s appointment. Tomek said he’d come over to let Beza out and feed Gucio, Inga’s rodent. And I made a reservation at an inexpensive motel for one night.
9 July, State College, PA
Whew! What a trip. Traffic wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, given that we left northern Bethesda at 4:30 pm. Skies were gray and a tornado watch was out for the area we’d travel through, but we soldiered on. About halfway we stopped at a service area on the PA Turnpike due to a heavy driving rain, too difficult to drive safely. We used the navigation system in the car but Frankie’s phone as a back up. Took about four hours to get here. Motel is fine … no frills but clean, cheap, free wifi, even quiet. We ventured down the highway and found a TGI Fridays open so we could get a light bite to eat. Tomorrow we drive over to the campus and see what’s what.
10 July, Bethesda
|Not even a PSU Creamery cone can |
get a teen's full attention these days!
Had a full day in State College and both Frankie and I were favorably impressed with the city and the university. Big art fair/alumni weekend going on, so a few detours. But we found a cute local coffee shop for breakfast and map reviewing. Then off to the campus which is really beautiful — lots of mature trees and grass and flowers. We passed the creamery which is way different from the tiny ice cream shop of the ‘60s. We were able to join a campus tour and spent more than an hour walking everywhere. Visited a dorm room with a micro-frig (microwave atop a mini-refrigerator), a standard part of dorm rooms! The room looked a lot like the tiny sophomore abode Karen B. and I shared in Shepard Hall at Northwestern. But we weren’t even allowed a popcorn popper and we kept things cold outside on the window ledge. The PSU tour leaders, Daniele and Ahmed, were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and fun guides.
After the tour, we stopped to buy tee-shirts, then went to the admissions office and picked up a pile of brochures and such on the university. Our feet were screaming but we walked the three long blocks to the creamery. We were actually hungry so split a sandwich, then got into line for ice cream. The line was out the door. Portions are two huge scoops in a cup or cone, and “today’s flavors” ranged from vanilla (Frankie’s choice) and chocolate to coconut chip (my choice), birthday cake (Frankie sampled), Crazy Charlie Sundae Swirl (I sampled), and many more delicious concoctions. Our tour leaders told us that you cannot mix flavors, and only one person ever did that successfully. President Bill Clinton on a campus visit was served his mixed cone by a totally new scooper. Clinton got his two-flavor cone and the scooper got the boot.
We drove around the interior of the campus for a bit, then headed homeward under bright sunny skies. As we neared the beltway, traffic slowed considerably and on I-495, it was the usual parking lot. Thankfully we didn’t have far to travel on that one. Now my feet are up, and Frankie’s off to a party.
Our nightly rain is seriously cutting into my morning coffee on the back deck. Everything, once more, was too soaked for sitting. Coffee indoors again. But I made up for that with brunch in Arlington with Maury and Aideen, a great gabfest. Both are starting new jobs, something to celebrate. And Maury is finally out of her Boot and into a softer sandal-type. Hurray.
In late afternoon niece Dyana came over and she, Frankie and I had dinner. Then Frankie went off to friends while Dyana and I watched a movie and talked. She works too much at a job she doesn’t love. I’m trying to convince her to try online dating.
The doorbell just rang unexpectedly; couldn’t imagine who’d be visiting. Turned out it was a teenaged boy who said, “Mike told me everyone’s in the basement already” as he started to enter. I said Frankie wasn’t here, and he said, no, he was looking for Mike. Told him no Mike and no party. He did look embarrassed as he said, “Oh, God, I have the wrong address,” although I wondered if someone had pranked him.
Comfortable temp, dry outdoor seating. Coffee on the deck, my favorite time of day. Then off to do a few last minute chores before leaving Bethesda. Tomek picks me up at 1:30 for the drive to BWI.
Later, Minneapolis MN USA
Home again … although when I exited the airport, I thought I was back in DC. Unbearably humid and hot and grey skies. Storms predicted, my sister told me when she met me.
Now I’m back in my little condo, ready for a busy week.
My, my, how time flies when you are super busy, and I have been this week. I’m not used to being booked with back to back “stuff” but so far I haven’t missed any appointments. And it’s been fun seeing friends that I haven’t seen literally in years — Judi B, Rosalind, Barbara R, Susan S, Esther. Last night I joined the board of Friends of the Minneapolis Central Library, part of my effort to get out, meet new people, get more involved locally as I prepare now for the time when I cannot travel like I do now. The library systems merged, and I’ve been a Friend of the Hennepin County Library for the last few years. And I have always loved the downtown library, especially the new building that went up when I was living overseas. It is gorgeous, functional, fantastic. So when I got an email asking if I’d like to volunteer, I did … in the bookstore until it was closed in late May. Linda V., the bookstore volunteer coordinator, asked if I’d be interested in board membership and invited me to the annual meeting, which was tonight. A really friendly, upbeat group of men and women. We had refreshments at the library, then the chair invited us to her condo for wine. A great chance to get to know other members better — and to learn how many are also travelers, including Road Scholar which I want to try one day.
Today, after getting my hair done and having a bite to eat with friends Connie and Tom, I hustled through highway constructions zones to meet niece Tomery and her realtor Angela to look at condos. Found one that is so perfect. Fingers crossed. So, I am exhausted, but it has been a productive and rewarding week so far. Off to put my feet up before going to bed.
Oh, now not only do I have two friends named Jan with the same last name in my address book … but two Marilyns with the same last name. One is my college roommate who visited in May. The second Marilyn sent me a “friend request” on Facebook, and I accepted thinking it was the first. When I saw the second’s page, I didn’t recognize her and wrote a short message asking how I know her … and learned she’s the wife of a childhood friend and classmate. Her husband Bill and I grew up next door to each other and started first grade and finished high school together. I met her at our 50th reunion a few years ago but didn’t recall her name.
Matt, my friend Jan’s son who lives in the south of France, is here for his nephew’s bar mitzvah. It’s always fun to see Matt. We had coffee with Jan, then breakfast at Good Day Cafe and finally running a few errands. It was so nice to have company for that. Then I was off to Park Nicollet for my bone density scan. Preliminary report was good news — I’m within or better than the parameters for my age. But I’ll need to see Lydia, my nurse practitioner, to get final report.
In the evening Jim and Irina came here for dinner. Jim was my very first project manager on the first USAID project I managed, the one that formed the Center in Sandomierz. We’ve kept in touch ever since. Jim’s working in Moldova now, and they’re in the Cities clearing out more storage. I decided a home cooked meal might be welcome, and Jim totally agreed. Although I bought the rotisserie chicken and guacamole at Costco, I made potato and lettuce salads, corn on the cob, and fresh berries with coconut ice cream. A thoroughly lovely evening.
Today I had lunch with Zita, who hired me to work at The St. Paul. I haven’t seen her in eons; we lost touch somehow when I moved from Uganda to Macedonia. But I found her by googling every so often. I also learned of her daughter’s death, which only made me more persistent in finding her. The internet is wonderful for that. While we were finishing lunch, Tomery texted me about taking her and her two friends to the airport. They’re going to Iceland on vacation.
I was so exhausted after the airport run that I came home and put my feet up to read. I fell asleep at 5 pm. Awoke a bit later and ate a few leftovers, then back to sleep.
|Miles & his great-grandmother Marj|
This hectic week has finally ended. Jan’s grandson Miles’ bar mitzvah was lovely. I especially enjoyed his speech on the value of boundaries. Very thoughtful and well done. Of course, I ate too much at the luncheon afterwards. But I had to sample more than one of the tasty sweets that Jan made. I returned to work on my a caringbridge.com site for my friend Dianna, who has a stage 3B cancer and starts treatment soon, and on my high school class’ collective 70th birthday party. Then fell asleep reading again. I had talked to dance partner Larry about maybe doing something this evening but I wasn’t up to that.
Big day for food and a continuation of reconnecting with old colleagues and friends. I’d had a contact from Eric who had been an intern in the project I managed in Ethiopia in summer 2009. Not too long after I arrived, his internship ended and he headed for another in Singapore. I’ve heard from him occasionally to provide recommendations, and he wrote that he and his wife would be in Minneapolis and would like to get together. We met at my favorite Loring Kitchen & Bar for brunch and played catch up, remember when and whatever happened to. Lovely to see him and meet his wife; they live/work in Chicago so we may get together again.
After meeting niece Michelle at Hopkins Honda where she dropped her car for servicing while she travels, we left my car here and walked to the newest Red Cow restaurant to meet my sister for dinner. Interesting menu. I was able to find non-beef items — Michelle and I split a hummus with fresh veggies, and I had a roasted beet-quinoa salad, as did she. She and Barbara split some interesting nachos with pulled beef, goat cheese and jalapeños. Barbara had a burger that I’ll try when I’m in a burger mood. Got Tomery’s car from Barbara’s garage and drove it home — parking was a nightmare in my neighborhood plus I had to remove a very heavy, very cumbersome fully loaded golf bag from her back seat. I’m taking it for an estimate tomorrow; someone ran into her back bumper.
|Look who showed up at People Serving People today.|
The "Frozen" royalty!
23 July, Mom would’ve been 98 today
Summer’s a busy time for birthdays in my family, nuclear and expanded. And as we add people, it seems to be even busier. Friend Jean is in June. My niece Michelle has a birthday and wedding anniversary in July. Mickey, the youngster I take care of in DC, is a July baby. Christopher’s sweetie, Jen, celebrates in August, along with my sister Barbara, niece Tomery, my late father and father in law, friend Jean’s son Mark and I’m sure I’ve left someone out. A collective “Happy Birthday” in case I miss your special day (which I will try hard not to do!).
Spent part of the day going through Dad's old metal Marine Corps suitcase which Mom filled with old photos, lots of familiar faces but not many names came to the fore. Scanned and posted some on Facebook and sent a few others to cousins.
|The house where we grew up. This was taken|
not long after we moved in.
Oh, so, yesterday I’m sitting in the hot tub after water ex, chatting away with a friend when I notice the young man sitting across from us … and he looks very familiar. Trying not to stare but working hard to identify why I recognize him, the light bulb finally goes on, and I say, “You were in the play I saw last night, weren’t you?” And he asked, “Were you at Jungle Theater?” Which I was and he was. Friend Linda P. and I had our tickets to “You Can’t Take It With You,” and he played the husband of Essie, the would-be ballet dancer. The whole cast was wonderful, a great way to spend a summer evening.
Dianna has arrived in Boston to begin six weeks of cancer treatment at Dana Farber. If I take Mickey to Boston next month, I may be able to see her. Otherwise I’ll visit her in Vermont in the fall.
Attendance numbers for my high school class’ collective 70th birthday celebration are increasing. Co-organizer Suzie and I decided on a luncheon so local classmates can make it a day trip. Should be a fun event. Friend/classmate Glenn and I are going to have Sunday dinner with mutual friends, Gary and Johanna. Glenn knows them from his 4H work; I know them from Gary’s work as an extension advisor assigned to Sandomierz.
Darryn emailed that his and Kim’s son Chase is in the current production at Children’s Theater. Darryn and I were in the same marathon training class, and he taught English at a children’s camp one summer in Poland when I was living/working there. I am still embarrassed that I misread the date of his and Kim’s wedding and was a no show. Anyway, both Chase and his sister Ella are budding thespians, and I enjoy going to watch them. I’ll see Chase’s play on Saturday and hope to see Ella’s next week.
Friend and neighbor Maryanne and I walked over to a favorite neighborhood spot, Loring Kitchen, for what turned out to be a disappointing lunch. Maryanne’s “hot” sandwich hadn’t seen a degree of heat, and my cold one had definitely been sitting under a heat lamp. Plus I learned that refills on iced tea are charged!
Condo board meeting at my place in the evening. Still way too disorganized but not sure how to effect that without causing friction. We discussed the info we have to date on window replacements, not enough to make a decision. We’ll meet in a couple of weeks to review all the bids, then make a decision, then hold an owners’ meeting.
Good times with good friends all week. Finally caught up with Barbara with whom I worked at The St. Paul. She, Susan, her old boss and our friend, and Margaret, my old boss and Susan’s and my friend, had lunch on Tuesday. I haven’t seen Barbara in a long time, and last time I saw Margaret, I was still married! We had a great time catching up. Then in the evening friend Marilyn fixed dinner for Jan and me. Summer is road repair season in Minnesota, and I-394 to the western suburbs is a big part of that. So I was surprised to drive it so easily to get to Marilyn’s. Staying away from rush hour helps.
Took Baby (my 2010 Ford Focus SEL) in for an oil change and had the recommended ‘flushing of the cooling system’ done too. Although I haven’t hit the 50K miles mark, I am at the five years one. I had thought I’d look at new cars while there, but I’m not ready … even though I think about it a lot! Big accomplishment of the day, week, month, year — I got Greenock and family photos scanned at Target and posted the Greenock pix on Facebook. Lots of comments. Also mailed pix to cousins and sought addresses for neighborhood friends to whom I should send other pix.
After water ex yesterday, it was a day of getting chores done. A bit of this and a bit of that. Googled cruises for Inga but nothing, airfares for DC are still higher than I’d like and I still don’t have dates, laundry, prep for lunch today, etc. etc.
And today’s lunch here and outing to the Minnesota Historical Museum in St. Paul with friend Judi B. followed by “happy hour” at a new downtown watering hole, Foreign Legion, with my sister Barbara were a lovely way to end the month. I tried out a new pair of recipes for lunch, quite successfully I might add. Then Judi and I went to St. Paul to see an exhibition of 50 years of the Ebony magazine annual fashion show. The apparel was spectacular and most, only wearable if you are the size of a model but it was all beautiful and made with incredible detail and care. Did see a couple of pieces that I thought I’d wear back in the day, and a suit that was very similar that I owned back when I was a size 8. We wandered through some of the other exhibitions including one on Hmong in Minnesota, Minnesota’s Greatest Generation (now that was a walk down memory lane
Earlier in the day Barbara had texted about meeting for happy hour since we had bused to work today. I suggested Foreign Legion, a spot she’s wanted to try since learning about it. I took the Light Rail back from St. Paul. We shared a meat and cheese platter, beet salad and red velvet cake. July has ended on a very upbeat note!