Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What month is this?

The last month of my mass mailing of my blog.  Thanks to all who have signed on as followers. The blog should be delivered automatically when I post.  

If becoming a follower doesn't work for you, please send me an email expressing your interest and I’ll add you to my mailing list.  

Summer in the city, Minneapolis style

2 August, Minneapolis MN USA — Lois’ 90th Birthday
My dear friend Lois who lives in a Northfield retirement community, had an open house today to mark her 90th birthday.  Lois is my oldest — age-wise and in terms of tenure — friend in Minnesota.  I’m helping her with a memoir, and later in the month we’ll put everything to date on her new computer that has voice recognition and playback capabilities.
Lois greets old friend Jim, former columnist
at the former Minneapolis Tribune

Anyway, it was a gorgeous day for a drive to Northfield.  And I had a chance to meet many of Lois’ family members and friends that are part of the memoir.  Her oldest grandson David and her great-granddaughter Makenzie were there.  David and his grandmother Jean came all of the way Springfield IL; Makenzie and her parents live not so far away in Faribault. And I had a chance to see her daughter Sarah and son Mark and their spouses.

Finished the day with book club.  We all sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air and food while we discussed Americanah, a novel about a Nigerian woman who emigrates to the US, then returns home to Nigeria.  I was stricken by the cultural similarities with Uganda.

3 August
Finally caught up with friend Judy K. who travels as much as I do.  We did a happy hour supper at Vincent’s, a favorite on Nicollet Mall.  As we were eating, along came Sally, the friend with whom I stayed in Greece.  So we had a short visit with her.  Busy week ahead.

7 August
Polish Festival on Mississippi River
An amazing number of frustrations can be salved by a good grilled Polish sausage complete with sauerkraut, onions and mustard.  So after a very hectic week, friend and neighbor Maryanne and I went to the annual Polish festival on the Mississippi River and indulged.  Pure, unadulterated heaven and calories, preservatives, and fats be damned.  It was perfect despite all the waiting in line. 


8 August
The Hagens gathered at niece Michelle and her husband Jon’s cabin north of the Cities for a day of fun and sun, food and water.  Jon made some of the halibut they’d caught in Alaska — fabulous.  Alijah, 2, caught his first fish, and Evie, 7, caught one before either of her brothers, Sam and John.  I got to meet my newest great-niece, Ruby, 4 months.  Swimming, water skiing, touring the lake by boat and just enjoying the view and good company made for a wonderful outing.
Evie & her fish

These cousins like having their photo taken
as much as their dads' did: Sam, John holding
Ruby, Alijah, Evie

Before we left for the lake, Alijah mowed the lawn



































Tomorrow Barbara, Tomery and I are taking Chris’ sweetie Jen to 112 Eatery for her birthday, which was Friday.  We haven’t been to that restaurant for ages, and it was one that we went to regularly.  Just too many good restaurants in Minneapolis now!

9 August
The City of Minneapolis made a haul tonight.  After dropping Barbara, Tomery and Jen in front of 112 Eatery, I went around the blocks and parked on First Avenue, right behind an SUV, and neither of us … nor all the cars who later lined the street behind me … paid any attention to the parking sign.  First Avenue has a crazy parking-bike lane situation. Its bike lane is next to the curb, and cars have to park outside that.  We all parked over the bike lane to the tune of $32 each.  Lesson learned.

13 August, Side Lake, between Hibbing and Chisholm MN
Janet and I took the scenic route on our annual trip to our friend Jean’s cabin … but we were following the GPS.  Then coming back we knew the way but missed a turn and ended up on Miller Hill in Duluth, just a tad out of the way.  But in between, we had a fantastic relaxing time with Jean and her San Francisco friend Kat who joined us.  Missed Lisa who was there early in Jean’s stay, but we got to see her son Mark and grandson Matthew who were leaving for home in Virginia (state of) shortly after our arrival.  Haven’t seen them in ages.  Matt is going to culinary school in Richmond in the fall. 

Looking for lunch
We had our annual dinner outing to Gramma’s Restaurant for walleye, Minnesota’s (and our) favorite fish, and that place does it proud.  Finally got to Bimbo’s where Jean and Kat shared a crustless pizza, interesting answer to gluten-free.  I was hungry for onion rings and cole slaw, so that was my lunch. And Janet had the Bimbo burger.  All tasty if a bit heavy on the fried side.  We took lots of nice walks, early to avoid the very hot temps, and saw the deer family that noshes on Jean’s greenery when she’s not there.  Oh, and lots of just lying around. Ah, paradise!
Four "ladies" at  Bimbo's: Janet, Jean, me, Kat
14 August, Minneapolis MN
Kasmirski, my orthopedist, said I’m in good shape. If my shoulder bothers me a lot, I can have a cortisone shot.  I’m waiting as it comes and goes, and I hate taking meds unless absolutely needed.  He liked that I’m doing water ex and said to continue — it’s the best thing for my sciatica. 

15 August
Old friend Randy and I went to see “Pirates of Penzance” at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul tonight.  It’s part of my season tickets for the Ordway’s Broadway series.  I’m taking a different person to each production, and since I haven’t seen Randy in ages, I invited him.  We both agreed the production was fantastic fun, just what the doctor ordered to lighten one’s spirits.   Tomorrow I’m seeing “Hairspray—The Musical” with friend Marilou and a friend of hers from her choral group.  That should be fun too.

17 August, my sister Barbara’s birthday
I won’t divulge her age, but Barbara’s way younger than I am.  And I just returned from celebrating with her over a lovely and very delicious dinner at Murray’s, one of Minneapolis’ oldest restaurants and the best for steak and service.  She loves her steak barely beyond moo’ing, and they’ll grill steak rare as only Barbara (and my friend Marilou) like it.  My potato-chip crusted walleye was excellent too.  Drizzling as I walked to and fro but the exercise felt good.

This morning Linda wasn’t able to walk Lake Harriet with me, so I decided on a new view — Lake Calhoun.  I used to run it daily but haven’t even walked it in years since most of my friends are Lake Harriet devotees.  Overcast skies and a nice breeze made for a brisk walk, something that’s often hard when I’m on my own.  Listened to music on my iPhone which helped.

18 August
Rainy day, all day.  After water ex and breakfast-and-gab with the group, I dug in at home and did lots of chores that I can no longer put off.  Feeling satisfied.

19 August
Easy day … water ex, lunch with Susan and Diane, movie with Randy.  Andrew worked us hard as ever in boot camp this morning.  The food at the reopened Tea House restaurant in Plymouth was excellent.  Diane and I opted for the buffet, and while I don’t usually like Asian buffets (food gets yukky too fast), we were early, everything was freshly made and wonderful.  Saw Straight Outta Compton with Randy.  Powerful film about something I knew little about — I’m not into music like my sister and I was going through a divorce during much of that time period.  But Barbara’s comment was right on — if the film makers hadn’t visibly indicated the dates, you’d’ve thought it was about current times.  Important messages in the film for everyone.

20 August
Thanks to my Peace Corps friend Tom R. for this link to an article in Smithsonian magazine about castle ruins in Poland.  The lead ruin is my absolute most favorite castle in the country, Krzysztop√≥r, which I learned about from reading Michener’s Poland and have visited about a dozen times at least.


21 August
Ok, after a couple of much-needed rainy days, we are back to sunshine, heat and humidity.  Just in time for my next foray “up North to the lake.”  Aideen and Mickey arrive tomorrow from DC and off we’ll go to Janet and Ed’s cabin for a long weekend.  How hot it is in the city when we return will determine what we do — air conditioned museums vs MN Zoo, Lake Harriet etc.

The lovely day did make driving to Northfield for lunch with Lois easier although I was hit by a few drizzles of rain around Lakeville.  Even had to use the windshield wipers!  But sunshine prevailed as Lois and I went out to lunch and run errands.  En route home, I stopped at a raspberry farm and bought three pints of exceptionally fresh raspberries.  Tonight I’m off to dinner with Jan and Marilyn, then I’ll make raspberry crisp for the cabin.

22 August, Crooked Lake near Brainerd, MN
Aideen and Mickey arrived right on time, and since I’d gotten all my household chores done (dishwasher cycle done, dryer finished, garbage out, mail in) and had filled the tank at Costco, we went straight to Northeast Minneapolis.  I sent them over to Kramarczuk’s to get lunch while I first went to Surdyk’s to buy wine.  Aideen finished her Polish sausage, Mickey and I wrapped the remaining halves of our humungous sandwiches, and off we went.  The day was overcast and coolish, good for driving but not boding well for lake time.  Storms predicted, including tornado watches.  But we’ve had rain and wind but none of the whirly kind.  Aideen remembered that we had a similar day here last year.  Maybe tomorrow will be better … 

Peter the cat enjoyed the view
of the bird feeders


25 August
The sun is out, the air is warmer though not exactly warm, and we will return to Minneapolis in a couple of hours.  Ah, the joys of Minnesota weather.  Sunday and Monday felt more like early November than late August.  But we had a good time.

Janet’s here helping with her grandson James, 11, while his parents work each day.  Their daughter moved to Grand Forks to attend the University of North Dakota, alma mater to many a Hagen.  James has been a Godsend.  Even though the Internet was out until this morning, James has enough electronic games and such that aren’t wifi reliant to keep him and Mickey entertained.  They played various games when they weren’t wrestling or reorganizing the Rubic’s Cube.  Unfortunately James has decided not to return to the Cities with us.

Sunday my nephew John, his wife Heather and daughter Ruby came over for Sunday supper.  I made BBQ chicken in the oven, fresh corn on the cob and a huge “garbage” salad (an old friend’s description of my all-you-can-find-in-the-refrigerator salads).  Heather brought Monster Cookies, her specialty, my favorite and inhaled by everyone with a dish of vanilla ice cream.  Lovely way to spend a dreary day in the woods.

Mickey helps Heather with Ruby
Monday Mickey and I went to the YMCA in Brainerd while Aideen tried to get online at a nearby coffee shop.  Although a bit befuddled by the rigamarole of locker room and pool entry, Mickey seemed to enjoy the water slide as well as eventually playing with a girl about his age, the only other person in the pool for some time.  All the day camp kids arrived and filled the pool shortly before we left.  We met Aideen for lunch and learned that the security on her work laptop would not allow her to use the open wifi of the cafe.  But she found a lovely nearby gift shop in which to bide her time.  

That's Ruby and I 
Evening found most of us reading while the kids continued with their games.  I had started several books but opted to spend most of my time with friend Judi’s memoir published on Amazon for Kindle.  It includes two pieces with me.  I’m famous!  When I started reading, I told her I was taking notes for my lawsuit.

Today, of course, the sun is shining.  And the Internet is working.  Despite going online at the coffee shop yesterday and downloading 137 messages, most of them quickly deletable without reading, I received almost 50 this morning.  One was forwarded by Janet from her husband Ed.  Find out why salad is overrated —


Additionally, friend Bob who was in Scotland this summer with his son and family sent this link about Scottish road trips, some even to places I’ve already been.  Places to consider for the Cousins’ Second Tour next summer.


We’ll leave after lunch as I have a condo board meeting at 6:30 and don’t want to hit the Cities at rush hour.  Tomorrow we’ll go to the Lego exhibit at the Arboretum in Chaska and on Thursday the Science Museum in St. Paul.  

28 August
What a day!  Mickey had said he’d like to visit Mall of America.  Not my favorite place by far, but I figured we could do that en route to the airport since their flight was mid afternoon.  A few hours would be manageable, especially when I got my favorite parking lot (the outdoor surface lot by Nordstrom’s).  Anyway …

It was such great fun watching Mickey who had a ball — he braved the zip line, then the Sponge Bob roller coaster that twisted upside down and around several times, then because he loved that one, did it again.  I think it was a good ending to his visit.

Our day at the Arboretum and lunch in Excelsior had THE best weather for being outdoors.  The Lego exhibition was incredible — check out my pix.  On Thursday, I dropped Mickey and Aideen at the Science Museum in St. Paul, then came home to do a few chores before taking the Light Rail back.  We LRT’d back to Minneapolis for dinner at Zelo and a walk home.  In the evening we played Crazy 8 and I won!  Three times.  And Aideen won twice.  Wednesday night Mickey had won every hand, so we were crowing.

Aideen & Mickey check the map of Lego sculptures


The Arboretum's Lego deer family

Mickey and Lego pansy


30,000+ Lego make one peacock

Mickey and other kids check out Lego tortoise

Hummingbird & flower



















29 August
A day of household chores and grocery shopping.  My back is killing me.  I am exhausted … Netflix here I come.

31 August
Today would’ve been my 47th wedding anniversary.  Wow! Hard to imagine.  The wedding was the Saturday after the infamous Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Remember the Chicago Seven?  You're showing your age!

I started today as I ended last night — one the phone with American Airlines/USAir trying to use my credit for a trip to Boston next month.  Last night I talked to Taran and Amanda, beginning at 5 this morning (cuz I couldn’t sleep), I called and talked to Monica, then Brett, then Susan.  I now have confirmed reservations and seat assignments … but still haven’t seen my credit card charge for the $225 change fee.  The ticket credit covered the cost of the new ticket.  A word to all — if you ever get an airline credit for a cancelled flight, be sure to have a ticket number.  Thank heavens the Reward Center through which I made the original booking had that.

Then it was off for my Monday walk around Lake Harriet with Linda and her puppy Desi.  Hadn’t seen them in three weeks so lots to talk about.  A few household chores, emails and such, then off to the post office and the clinic for my mammogram.  They have a new 180 degree camera now … but they still squish my boobs.

This afternoon I prepped for dinner, then Judi picked me up and off we went to a movie, Mistress America.  It was at the Uptown, an old theatre that’s been beautifully renovated with comfy leather seats.  The film was a hoot, just what I needed.  

I rarely have trouble falling back to sleep.  When I awoke at 3:45 today and couldn’t fall back to sleep, I knew I’d overloaded myself this week. Even though I knew my late son Peter’s birthday will be Saturday, I didn’t really focus on that and what it means to me.  So, I will make myself slow down so that I can enjoy Saturday with my Godson Craig, who shares that birthday, and his family.  

One big reason to smile -- my beautiful newest
great-niece Ruby and her beautiful smile