Saturday, November 5, 2016

October Surprise

1 October 2016, Minneapolis MN USA
Today was the annual fall meeting of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library, and I attended along with Carol and Bob, also of our Friends of Minneapolis Central Library board.  And I’m mentioning it because hands down it was the best organized meeting I think I’ve ever attended.  We not only started on time, we finished on time.  Lots of people participated both in the small group discussions as well as in the larger group … without the usual deadly pauses or droning I-must-be-heard commenters.

2 October
Have been trying to get together with my sister Barbara for a while, but we keep zigging and zagging.  Today I hit the right note — lamb chops.  The chops were perfect as was the evening.

3 October
Thought friend Ted had forgotten about our lunch today, but he was just an un-Ted like 15 minutes late.  Always good to see him and talk current events, books, travel.  Unlike I, he actually still reads five newspaper and watches a bunch of television news programs a day.

6 October
I get a regular feed from MEDIA REDEF which leads with a photo from an old film and a quote.  Today’s is especially fitting …

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”  ALDOUS HUXLEY

7 October
Friend Lois' retirement facility hired goats to "mow" the lawn!
9 October
Haven’t seen nephew Craig and his family for a while.  When he texted about Jaiden’s soccer game in Woodbury today, I was definitely up to join them.  GPS got me there and texts and calls with Craig helped me actually find them in the multi-field sports complex.  Since it was a break between games, Jaiden and Alijah made good use of the playground.  Unfortunately Jaiden’s game was cancelled, so I didn’t get to watch him play.  Will see them for Halloween.

Jaiden & Alijah

10 October
Boston had its Big Dig.  Minneapolis apparently is having a Big Build.  I don’t recall seeing the extensive renovating of Nicollet Mall so labeled before.  But when Maryanne and I wended our way through the many detours due to the extensive construction, we saw placards with that identifier and a logo.  The placards showed what various areas of the mall would eventually look like and explained the leaf pattern in the new curvy concrete sidewalk we traversed past Orchestra Hall and Westminster Church at the south end.  I think it really will be spectacular when it’s done … it’s just the pain of the process.

12 October
After water ex, I drove to the western ‘burbs for breakfast with nephew Christopher.  Been a while since we’ve been able to keep our Wednesday date.  Good golfing weather took its toll! So I was very happy when he was available.  We tentatively set a date for the annual trip to Pittsburgh for a Penguins hockey game.  I’m planning to go this year.

Since I had a mammogram scheduled for 1 pm and a 3:15 hair appointment, all ‘out west,’ I ran errands after breakfast and in between appointments.  Got lots done.  Then home to make a meatloaf for future meals and corn muffins to go with tonight’s defrosted homemade bean soup.

Aideen called, and it looks like I will be watching Mickey for a few days when I’m in DC.  We’re trying to work around my current travel schedule.  And she said I can get a babysitter for my birthday dinner with childhood friend Glenn.  He has said he’ll come to DC to help celebrate and stay with a cousin in Alexandria.  Wow!

13 October
Winter’s really settling in.  I awoke at 1:37 am, per the digital alarm clock, and was cold despite the flannel sheets and nightie.  So, I turned on the furnace.  Now I have to pay attention because some furnace motor thingie is going to die on me at some unknown point.  It’s “running long” according to my semi-annual visit from the heating/AC folks, but not badly enough to replace now.  Mark my words, it’ll die in the depths of winter!

Because one of my favorite hand-knit sweaters from Poland acquired a moth hole last summer when I’d used cedar chips on my woolens, I decided to bite the bullet and use good old fashioned moth balls this year, horrible odor and all.  The plastic boxes that held my clothing managed to encase the smell all summer.  Today I opened the boxes.  Yuk.  The package said that airing clothing for a day should dispel the odor.  So for most of the afternoon my back deck was strewn with an assortment of sweaters, turtlenecks, socks, tights, leggings … you get the picture.  They are now generally odor free and in their drawers.  But now my condo smells more than faintly like moth balls.  I plugged in a room deodorizer.  Hope it works.

14 October
Bob Dylan, mainly known for his music, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  And an editorial in today’s New York Times says,  “The news offers something else, too, specifically for New Yorkers, for whom Mr. Dylan is close to a native-son, homegrown laureate. Mr. Dylan invented himself here, plugged into its creative artistic grid here, and here came face to face with his greatest early influence.”  However, Mr. Dylan is a native son of Minnesota: born in Duluth, raised in Hibbing and started his career in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota.

Newest great-niece Hazel with big sister Ruby

15 October, Happy birthday, Glenn
Picked up helpful friend Thom to help me rearrange furniture in the small bedroom/TV room.  I’m having a new Internet service installed next week and wanted to move the TV and rearrange chairs and cabinet. All done.  Then dinner with Kathy, in town from Tennessee to run a half marathon, with her friend Katie from Atlanta, and my sister Barbara.  Small world — Katie is good friends with friends of mine in Atlanta, Mike and Jan.  We dined at Red Stag, and I contributed my $50 Open Table certificate to the tab.  A good time was enjoyed by all.

17 October
Well, I didn’t need to move the TV.  The Internet signal is strong enough to leave the router in the living room; it’s sitting on the floor beside the cabinet where the line enters the condo.  But Saturday wasn’t a complete waste; I like the way the furniture is now.  Plus it was good exercise.  Now for the provider to get the line from its box by the sidewalk out front and into our building’s box in the garage.

Off to DC tomorrow.  Looks like I won’t have to babysit with Mickey, although I’m leaving that open.  Have made lunch dates with a few old friends and organized a Booz’r evening at John and Lauri’s for Sunday.  Also Glenn is coming in from PA later this week to help me celebrate my birthday.  We should also celebrate his.  I did manage to get a couple of birthday cards off to him and on time.

19 October, Bethesda MD
Wonderful to see Inga and Antonia and strange not to have Franciszka around.  She’s doing well at UGA. It’s like fruit basket upset bedrooms-wise since Inga has a full house. A Polish friend Tomek is staying in “my” old room; Peace Corps friend Larry is renting the lower level while he works on a contract in DC.  Antonia is in Franciszka’s old room, and I’m in Antonia’s.

Today I took the Metro to Dupont Circle and met Larry for lunch near his office.  Lots to catch up on.  And on the way back, a stop in Friendship Heights to do a spot of shopping.  Lord & Taylor has great sales.

20 October
Had lunch with Peggy, who was a freelance reporter in Poland when I met her.  Since we were both going out to dinner, we ate lightly but well at Lauriol, our usual lunch spot and had a good catch up about Polish and US politics and more.

With Peggy after lunch
Tonight it’s dinner in Old Town Alexandria with Glenn, his cousin Donald and Donald’s girlfriend. Kristin  He’s picking me up at 6.  Not only did Glenn pick me up at the airport in Pittsburgh for our high school class’ 71st birthday party, but he is wading into rush hour traffic to pick me up tonight. This guy gets extra points!

23 October
What a great weekend.  Well, a great long weekend, starting on Thursday with dinner in Alexandria.  Then on Friday morning, Glenn picked me up to drive to Frederic MD to meet Donald and Kristin.  Kristin was familiar with something called The Barns, five farmsteads that host antique dealers, artisans and others one weekend a month.  We drove to two of them where I bought a few things.  I saw a real honest to goodness, and in pretty good shape, ice box that I’d’ve bought for old times’ sake if I had a spot for it and knew how to get it back.  We had one of those when I was a kid.  The ice man cameth three times a week.  Afterward the Barns, we had lunch, then Glenn drove back to PA for a rabbit show, and Donald and Kristin brought me back to Inga’s.  Glenn’s returning Sunday night.

Friday night some of Inga’s Polish friends joined us at a restaurant in Arlington that only serves Polish food on Friday nights.  And was it worth the trip — excellent grilled kiełbasa, pierogi, gołumki, and more.  Then back at Inga’s. I baled at 11 while the conversation continued in Polish until almost 3 am.

Saturday morning I met friends Alexis and Marcus for breakfast at The Original Pancake House in Bethesda.  Very different menu than the chain’s Plymouth restaurant.  But good breakfast food — I had half of a waffle, the first in years and worth every calorie.  I was anxious to hear about their trip to Iceland, a belated honeymoon.  From their description, it’s going on my “to be visited” list, perhaps a stopover en route to a board meeting in Poland some time.

Then Saturday evening, I took the Metro to my Peace Corps roommate Stacey and her family in the District.  Daughter Abby went to babysit while Ada and a friend worked on Halloween decorations, and husband Michael continued as head chef.  I enjoyed Michael’s excellent cooking initially when we were all in Peace Corps, and he’s only gotten better.  Lots of time for Stacey and I to talk.

Sunday Aideen and Mickey picked me up at 4:30 to go to John and Lauri’s for a Booz’r potluck.  Because she was working on three proposals and Mickey had missed too many Sunday guitar lessons, they only stayed long enough for hello. John (and Lauri), Maury, Regina, Edwige, RoseMarie are all Booz Allen friends beginning with our days in the Balkans, and we toasted Kim, the project manager who brought us together.  Maybe Kim, who lives in CA now, and I can coordinate a DC visit for another Booz’r gathering.  Glenn called on his way back from PA, around 8 pm, but said he was pretty tired and furry (from the rabbits); we decided he should go straight to Donald’s rather than stopping to drive me back to Inga’s.  We’ll get together tomorrow.

Regina drove me to the Metro in Arlington, but when I entered, an announcement about Red Line outages came over the PA.  I exited and called an Uber.  For under $10, I Uber’d to Inga’s.

After this weekend, I may have to go on an extended cleanse when I’m back to MN — all I’ve done is eat too much and drink wine.

24 October
Inga and I worked on insurance questions and such for a couple of hours this morning.  I feel bad for her trying to understand them in her second language.  I have trouble and English is my first, plus I used to work for an insurance company.  But I think we got things sorted before she drove me to Friendship Heights for lunch with Nancy.

Haven’t seen Nancy in a couple of years.  We worked together at a St. Paul hospital in the mid ‘70s and have stayed in touch irregularly. Glad we were able to meet today.  She’s doing well, and so is her dad who lives with her.  Her sister took over his care while Nancy got a much-deserved vacation to Hawaii.  Nancy dropped me at a Metro and I took the train to the end of the Yellow Line where Glenn picked me up.  We drove to Old Town, took a long walk-and-talk, then had a dinner at a seaside restaurant.  Afterwards, more walk-and-talk and a way-too-big ice cream cone (coconut and dark chocolate for me, coffee chocolate chip and coconut for him) before heading back to Bethesda and a sit-in-the-car-and talk.  Tomorrow’s my birthday and Glenn says I’m the boss all day until midnight.  Hmmm.

25 October, the best birthday ever
How did I get to get to be so old?  Well, that’s a frequent query that is only answered, one day at a time.  And as I remember from an old George Carlin nightclub act, which I am paraphrasing, everything I have ever been or done has brought me to this place in time.  And it’s a nice place to be.

After Glenn picked me up this morning, we settled on the Smithsonian Museum of American Indians which we both wanted to see … and believe it or not, we found a free (available and no charge) parking place half a block away.  Of course I forgot to take any photos, including of the young man using two replicas to explain wampum to us and another couple.  The museum was very impressive but a bit overwhelming. I got post cards to send to my kids’ list this week, and Glenn got some gifts for his granddaughters, ages 2 and 4.

The day was beautiful — clear blue skies, sunshine, windy and somewhere between cool and warm temp wise.  Good walking temperature.  Since we were both wearing long sleeves, we left our jackets in the car and took a long walk down the National Mall.  After a light lunch, we walked to the East Wing of the National Gallery — modern art from Picasso and Jackson Pollock to Monet and Van Gogh and a lot of artists that I didn’t recognize.  I wanted to have us on the road to Bethesda before rush hour, and we made it.  More walking and sitting and talking in beautiful downtown Bethesda.  We both agreed we’d been eating and drinking way too much, and we had birthday cake awaiting us at Inga’s, so dinner was SweetGreens salads.

Inga and Tosia bought a gorgeous and delicious chocolate mousse cake and added raspberry tartlets to the mix.  Tomek gave me a bouquet of mixed flowers.  We enjoyed the cake and good times telling stories, many of them about early days in Poland with David, Inga’s late husband and my dear Peace Corps friend.  Glenn enjoyed himself and has definitely “passed the Inga test.”  Tomorrow I fly back to MN, and he drives back to Western PA.

26 October, Happy birthday to my niece Dyana

27 October, Minneapolis MN
Busy day.  This morning I drove up north to Susan’s cabin with her.  She wanted to close up for the winter since her health precludes using it again.  Close up only took an hour, then back to the city.  Lots of phone calls to talk about the DC trip and organize belated birthday lunches or dinners.  Then off to Nomad World Pub in Cedar-Riverside to meet Wade, one of my late son’s friends.  Wade’s living in Colorado now and was home to participate in a family wedding and reconnect with friends.  He did a “ya’ll come” on Facebook for tonight, and since I haven’t seen him or the other “boys,” I moseyed over.  Ole, Ray and Mike arrived before I left — great to see all of them and get hugs.

28 October
When we were in DC, Glenn said he sent me flowers for my birthday, to be delivered yesterday when I’d be home.  Since I knew I was going to be gone much of the day, I had friend/neighbor Maryanne on the look out … but by 4:45 pm, she’d found nothing.  When I talked to Glenn last night, he said his receipt said they were delivered at about 5:15 pm. Weird — I was even at home then! I said I’d check with other neighbors to see if anyone saw the flowers.   However — I awoke at 4 this morning for a trip to the bathroom, and as I tucked back between my flannel sheets, it hit me.  I hadn’t been in the entry of my building since Susan dropped me off at 3-ish.  Donned bathrobe and shoes, grabbed my keys and down I went … to find a huge flower box addressed to me sitting next to the elevator.  They are gorgeous, but you can judge for yourself.  Am I a lucky woman or what?

29 October
This was in MEDIA REDEF a week or so ago and seems most appropriate now:  “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”  T.S. Eliot

To all you eagle-eyed friends and family, yes, Glenn and I have embarked on an adventure together and decided to see where it goes.  Hence, all that walking and talking in DC.  We’re 71, so no time like the present.  You’ll see his name here often.  But this blog was started to share my adventures in world travel, and only tangentially covers personal adventures.  So don’t expect too many updates on the latter.

With Glenn in Maryland
30 October
Another thoughtful night of theater.  Although “Aunt Raini” won’t be on my list of best or favorite productions by the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, it did offers food for thought.  The play is fictional but based on issues surrounding Leni Riefenstahl, the German film maker whose documentaries on Hitler have in some (many?) minds made her culpable in the Third Reich.  The central figure is a fictional niece in New York struggling to reconcile the aunt she loves, who raised and nurtured her after a horrific family tragedy, with the horror of how others view her aunt’s films and thus her aunt.  A kind of Catch 22.

31 October, Happy Halloween
Off to Craig and April’s to carve pumpkins and go trick or treating.  Will try to remember to take pix.  In the meantime, here’s one from last year.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall has fell, sort of

1 September 2016, Minneapolis MN USA
A new month with lots of possibilities, including my high school class’ collective 71st birthday celebration mid month.  I really love a chance to go home and see old friends.  And yes, Pittsburgh is home and always will be no matter how long I live in Minnesota or anywhere.

2 September
Well, one of those possibilities is allergies.  My late Peace Corps friend David said many folks acquire pollen allergies just by being in DC because there’s such a huge variety of flowers and greenery.  I think I’m one of those people.  Never had an allergy in my life until I started going to DC when David was ill.  Now … I think all the sneezing, sinus drainage, coughing are from allergies.

4 September
What a lovely way to spend the long Labor Day weekend … in bed with a very bad head cold.  Yep, not allergies as I decided when my temp hit 102 last night.  I had my sister Barbara on alert in case it was still high this morning, but Tylenol and sleep brought it down to just over 99, practically normal.  Now, back to bed.  

5 September, Happy birthday to nephew Craig
Craig was born on my late son Peter’s birthday, so my late husband and I were named his God parents. I like to do something with Craig and his family on this day to reinforce that it’s his day.  He’s working today so we’ll celebrate tomorrow.  And since he requested steak, we’ll go to Outback where an active three-year-old will be welcome.  

Today I continue to recuperate.  My sister Barbara dropped DayQuil and NyQuil outside my door yesterday morning (my request so I didn’t pass this on).  It’s helping.

7 September, Happy birthday friends Marilou and Spike (Larry & Karen’s son)
Had a delightful lunch with Marilou at the restaurant at Nordstrom’s/Ridgedale to celebrate her birthday.  Good food and fun flirting with our old hippy waiter.

I always remember Spike’s birthday because I was in London when he was born. I’d taken his older brother Jonah to Regent’s Park Zoo on Peter and Craig’s birthday.  That was a nice memorial to Peter who had loved the zoo when we visited.

Since I was feeling better today and no longer contagious, I kept my coffee appointment with former colleague Rob.  We were both “enterprise facilitators” (he in Richfield, I in Northeast Minneapolis, four other EFs in city and suburbs) in a unique pilot program to support new and existing entrepreneurs as they wanted.  This was in 1998, right after I returned from Poland the first time.  Our “fearless leader” as EFs was Ernesto, who developed a “hands off” approach to entrepreneurial support which he then tested in rural Australia and applied in rural South Dakota. Ernesto wasn’t terribly happy with how we adapted his model to address our urban setting, but we all had our successes even if funding dried up.  That’s when I started looking for overseas assignments, and Rob eventually went to Minneapolis Consortium of Community Development.

Another highlight of the day was my monthly hair appointment with friend Connie.  I love having someone else deal with my hair.  It was disappointing that we couldn’t have dinner as we often do but fun to see her and hear about her and Tom’s coming trip to Bali.

  Drying old baggies for reuse.
Once a PCV, always a PCV.
10 September
I think I walked 20,000 steps yesterday and that doesn’t include my morning water ex class.  Before meeting friend Susan at her condo to go to a night Twins’ game, I walked from home to Macy’s to pick up some cosmetics on sale.  Then Macy’s to Susan’s, Susan’s to Target Field and back again.  Twins lost, which was disappointing since they were actually winning at one point.  I walked to the bus stop … it was 11 pm and my next bus was due in 30 minutes.  Rather than sit on a bench and wait, I walked home.  I was so keyed up that I watched television for an hour before hitting the sack.

15 September, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
SuperShuttle arrived Johnny-on-the-spot at my condo at 4:35 am.  Now I wait for my 6:55 flight to Pittsburgh for my high school class’ joint 71st birthday celebration.  We’re having a picnic in Stahlstown in the mountains on Saturday.  Before and after, I will enjoy being home among old friends.

This has been a busy week over all — book club at Nan’s on Sunday night, dinner here with friend Judi on Monday, coffee with friend/former accountant Karen (preceded by a long walk) and drinks with Northwestern U. rep Rob on Tuesday, lunch with friend/neighbor Maryanne at a new Jamaican restaurant in the neighborhood on Wednesday.  Maryanne and I have coordinated calendars for mail pick up this winter.  Let the travel begin!

Later, Somerset PA
For four years of my corporate life, I flew into far-flung midwestern (Canada to Mexico, Minnesota to Utah) airports and cabbed to my hotels once or twice a month (some weeks I was in a different city every day).  Seeing a friendly face at the airport was a rare treat, including on my return.  I could rarely get my then-husband to pick me up … so when my friend Glenn offered to meet me at PIT today, I was overjoyed. Glenn and I not only graduated from high school together, we started out in the same first grade class.  He had a 75 minute drive just to get to the airport and was sitting at baggage claim when I arrived there.  What a treat.  On top of that, Glenn was willing to stop at Allegheny County Courthouse so I could try to get some documents.  I had to order them since they’re in storage somewhere in the hinterlands.

We stopped for lunch half way to Somerset and arrived at Suzie’s mid afternoon.  Suzie is another friend since grade school.  Her husband Lance, our class president, died of cancer in mid July, so I wanted to spend time with her in addition to the reunion-picnic.  I’m staying in her guest house until Tuesday.

Childhood friends Glenn & Suzie

16 September
Suzie, Glenn and I had a wonderful day playing tourist.  Glenn drove, another treat, and we went to the Flight 93 (9/11) memorial since he hadn’t seen the completed area.  Suzie, Lance and I had done a fund-raising walk there last September, so I’d experienced the entire memorial.  It’s overwhelming.  Afterwards, in discussing where to go next, I learned that one of my childhood landmarks is no more: The Ship Hotel on Route 30.  We drove to the site which still has a spectacular view and I took some pix.  Then on to Bedford for a bit of shopping for Suzie and me (Glenn chose otherwise) and finally dinner at Jean Bonnet Tavern.  The stuffed hot peppers that I ordered were definitely hot in all ways, but very good.  

View from Ship Hotel's location

17 September
High school friend Janet was back “home” (Elizabeth Township) and offered to join Suzie and me for breakfast at Suzie’s even though she couldn’t go to the picnic.  Her energy flags as the day wears on.  Despite all the chemo treatments, Janet looks great and said she feels pretty good too.  She brought fresh muffins which we ate while caught up.  

Glenn said he’d drive me to Linn Run State Park tomorrow on our way to meet our mutual friends Gary and Johanna, so Suzie and I drove straight to the picnic.  Well, after a stop at a grocery to get our contributions to the buffet.  I had baked and brought oatmeal-raisin-chocolate chip bars from MN (yep, put them in my suitcase), but we needed some snacks.  The picnic was at classmate Pinky’s sister’s place — a gorgeous lakeside meadow in a forest.  Her facilities include a huge barn where we set up food and beverages, music, tables, and along with the Class of ’64, had a great time as you can see in the slide show.

Greenock School Alums
18 September
Linn Run is supposed to be about 15 minutes from Somerset … and 45 minutes after leaving Suzie’s, Glenn and I arrived at my favorite spot.  We took the scenic route, rather than Route 30, on purpose.  Then we hit a single lane, dirt path where we were to turn right … but it was closed to traffic. Glenn’s GPS took us back toward Somerset, but eventually between his Garmin and my i-Phone, we found the back way into the park and my favorite spot. The creek had a lot of erosion and wasn’t full, but it’s still “belongs” to the Kanyr family. 
My creek today

The day was fabulous — relaxing and fun.  We tasted some surprisingly good wines at two wineries.  At the first we sat outdoors lakeside and listened to oldies, and at the second, the heavens opened while we sipped on a covered wrap-around.  Then we drove to dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant.  It was in a commercial office park, so we’d’ve never found it without our gustatory leader Glenn.  Great choice, Glenn.  We all had delicious and way-too-big meals.

Johanna & Gary

20  September, Minneapolis MN
Home again.  Suzie and I spent yesterday in Ligonier, wandering this quaint colonial town, checking out shops, having lunch.  Then drove to Mt. Pleasant for dinner with Glenn who took me to the airport this morning.  Took the Light Rail, then a bus home to the condo.  Shortly I have a Friends of the Minneapolis Central Library board meeting.  So off I go — on foot!

21 September
Spent some time today doing follow up for the Center’s trip to Ohio.  The team leaves Sandomierz today for Warsaw and New York.  They’ll spend two days in Upstate New York, then a day in the city before flying to Ohio.  My fingers are crossed that everything goes well.  It was nerve-wracking making arrangements in a places I haven’t been in many decades with people I’ve never met and organizations I’ve never visited.  Trying not to hold my breath.

Lake Harriet
24 September
Saw the Beatles' documentary with niece Michelle.  Could not sit still or stay quiet although I was very restrained in both.

26 September
Finally found and scheduled a painter.  Thank you to Pam from book club for the rec.  Tom the painter arrives Thursday morning — hurray!

30 September
Busy week — Kelly’s “divas” cleaned on Monday, brunch with Jan and Rosie on Tuesday  and dinner and Jungle Theater with Mary that evening, lunch with Sabrina on Wednesday, painting and pre-winter furnace check on Thursday, visit with Lois in Northfield today plus a stop at former client Julie’s Antiquified antique store for the pre-Halloween event.

Two guests at Julie's event

It’s been a good, if often wet, month.  Several awesome thunder-and-lightning storms (love ‘em) and way above average rainfall.  Fantastic time in Pennsylvania.  Lots of good times with friends here, there and everywhere.  What more could a gal want?


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

August:  Hot, wet. ‘Nuff said.

1 August 2016, Minneapolis MN USA
New sliding glass doors and window installed!!! The guys from Wellington arrived at 8 am and by 4:30 pm were done.  The screen slides in its track effortlessly.  There’s an extra security lock on the sliders.  The condo is sooo quiet when everything’s all closed up.  And they did a nice job of cleaning up after themselves.  I am doing my happy dance.  Painter comes next Monday, and I have appointments to order a new shade for the living room and new carpeting.  The ducks are aligning.  Hurray!

3 August
This morning I took friend Susan to her day surgery, then we went to the Galleria in Edina where we could eat at a favorite spot and Susan could exchange something.  Great lunch — incredible gazpacho.  Susan did her exchange at Fawbush … and we both bought something, of course.  I hate — and love — that store because no matter when I go there, virtually always with Susan, I see something that I love and I buy it.  And it’s rarely on sale.  I trust Susan’s taste, and she thought I looked smashing in the outfit, so …  I am going to wear this outfit to the August Birthday Dinner later in the month and will have a photo taken and you can decide for yourself.  I’ve made reservations at Capital Grille to celebrate the birthdays of Jen, Barbara and Tomery.  And I may take it to the EFHS Class of ’63 birthday bash in September.  It’s linen, a good transitional season fabric.

Dinner with Marilou and lunch with Diane on the calendar for this week.  Haven’t seen either of them in a while.  I’ll give Marilou her birthday present early and have something from 
Poland for Diane.

View from my deck

5 August
Early water ex, quick breakfast.  Then Amy arrived from Costco’s flooring vendor.  So many choices, so many alternatives to consider.  But I decided and ordered new carpeting for the living/dining/hallway areas.  The current carpet is 15+ years old and definitely seen better days.  I drove to Northfield to visit Lois, who turned 91 on Monday.  We went out to lunch and ran a few errands.  It was a gorgeous day for that, not as excruciatingly hot as it has been.  Instead of returning home, I drove to St. Paul to have dinner with friend Sabrina. We ate in the garden at WA Frost, a perennial favorite.  Been a while since we managed to connect.  Sabrina, Mark and their son Christopher have been camping a lot, and “the boys” are at camp now for a few days.  Shortly after they return, the whole family takes off for southern Africa.  So I’m glad I could at least connect with Sabrina before that.

6 August
Lots of great exercise today.  Did morning water ex, then nephew Craig and family (April and Alijah) arrived for our afternoon at Minnehaha Falls.  Michelle stopped by to say hello to them, then went up north for the weekend.  We picked up food at the Wedge deli. Amazingly Craig found a free parking place at the park and we had a wonderful afternoon exploring.  I haven’t really spent any time in the park for ages, just a brief stop when Iva and Marija were here in chilly, rainy April.  Alijah had fun wading and splashing in an area below the falls set up for that.  Of course, I forgot my phone and couldn’t take pix, but Craig got a few.

8 August
Today’s Strib (Minneapolis StarTribune) included a piece by Andy, one of my water ex instructors.  On vacation in Munich, he and his husband had been out to dinner during the 22 July shootings.  Here is an excerpt of what he wrote, something to keep in mind during these negative times:

… “Munich had gone into lockdown. All public transportation stopped: buses, subways, trams, taxis. It was night, and raining, and we were a long way from the hotel. (Imagine having had dinner in downtown Minneapolis and finding out that you had to get back to your hotel near the airport on foot — at night, in the rain and in a different language.) So we walked and walked, somewhat aimlessly, for what seemed like hours. Eventually, we stopped at a border guard station and asked for help. The guards tried to call us a taxi and contact our hotel: no luck. Finally, a guard took pity on us and generously brought us back to the hotel. He was a Syrian man working in Germany; he had no reason to help a Jewish/Catholic middle-aged gay American couple, but I am very glad he did. It sticks in my memory that he mentioned that his cellphone was filled with messages from his Syrian family worrying about his safety — striking to me because they were calling from one of the most war-torn countries on the planet….”

Wayne the painter came early and did the living room, dining room and hallway.  I love the colors, and he did a beautiful job although he left his shoulder mark on a wall near one of the vents he put back.  He’ll fix that when he returns to do the bathroom, after nephew John and brother-in-law Steve replace the vanity.

11 August
Mary and I went to see Disgraced at the Guthrie tonight.  I have to find some less serious, thought-provoking theater to see.  On the one hand, it is fantastic to consider the issues in a new format, see different perspectives, hear other voices, etc.  On the other, it doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep when the play is that intense.  To put it succinctly, the play was about the devastating fallout to all involved because of the well-meaning meddling of a privileged white woman, like we are.  

The New York Times has discovered Minneapolis is a nice place to visit.  They ran one of their “36 hours in …” pieces on my city.  Here it is in case you missed today’s edition.  Copy/paste into your browser and see for yourself:

12 August
Spent the day in Northfield with Lois, then Marianne and I walked up to the opening day of the annual Polish festival tonight.  Weather didn’t look promising so we took rain gear.  Good thing.  It poured while we noshed on Polish sausages and watched the dancing.  Great combo playing oldies dance music.  By the time we walked homeward, the sun was out of course.

Googling again.  Sometimes I google my birth name to see what I find.  This time I found this one —  Hmm.  Maybe I should have some stock in this company.

19 August
Busy and fun week of meeting with friends and getting things done. John and Steve arrived early and did a great job replacing the vanity.  Then we went over to check out my sister’s bathtub.  We found there’s no access to the plumbing, a code requirement.  John said once that’s in place, he can fix the tub drain.  He couldn’t do it from the tub side.

This morning I had breakfast with Larry, a friend from my Peace Corps days, who was here for a final job interview.  Before taking him to the airport, we drove around to see some neighborhoods in case he gets the job and they move here.  That would be so cool.

22 August
No Wayne.  Called him twice yesterday before buying the paint, no answer.  Called this morning before going to breakfast with old St. Paul Companies’ friends, Jan and Rosie.  He’s been very reliable — got the referral from Marilyn and he did my sister’s condo.  Oh, well.

24 August
Jen and Chris came over to help me move furniture for the carpet layers, then we had dinner at Nicollet Diner.  I remember Janet had a BLT with avocado there so tried it.  Delicious.

26 August
New carpeting — hurray.  It’s a bit darker than I expected but looks lovely.  And I love the feel under my feet — incredibly soft.  And the two fellows who installed were great.  I was getting really nervous as Amy, the saleswoman, said they’d arrive closer to 8 am than 10; they arrived at 9:30.  Later I learned that someone was to be here at 8 to do the rip-out.  When they didn’t show, the installers did that and did the Kilz.  (I had had a bad cat odor from many years ago and had had Kilz used on the underlayment then.  Figured a re-application might be a good idea just in case.)  Slowly but surely getting things done.  And Wayne called. He had been hospitalized for a severely infected blister that he didn’t even  feel.  We’ll talk next week and settle on a new date.

27 August, Palmer House hotel, Chicago IL USA
A very, very long day.  Janet picked me up at 5 to drive to the airport for my just-before-7am flight to Chicago.  Easy flight, upgrade to first class is nice even if only for an hour.  Friend Aideen and son Mickey arrived from DC shortly after I landed, and we connected in baggage claim.  Then off to the L’s Blue Line and the Palmer House.  Aideen had gotten a good rate at this elegant old Chicago landmark — huge room with two beds and within walking distance of lots to do.  The walk from the L to the hotel was just a couple of blocks. 

I’ve always loved the Chicago L (shorthand for elevated which it originally was; later underground routes were added). When I was a kid and we visited Aunt Bobbie in Oak Park, we kids were sent alone on the L into the Loop for an afternoon’s entertainment!  The Blue Line is actually underground in the Loop.  Don’t know when the lines got color names; I don’t recall those from my college days when I took the L between Evanston and the Loop with some frequency.  I used to be able to recite from memory the train change announcement at the Evanston-Chicago border. College friend Barbara and I often did History of England class research at the Chicago Public Library, then went to Marshall Field’s Oak Room (?) for a treat.  

Back to this trip.  After breakfast near the hotel, we walked over to the Art Institute where I got a duplicate membership card and we entered for free.  Spent a few hours wandering around, saw the new exhibition on American art in the 1930s, interesting era.  Then we walked over to Millennium Park where Mickey enjoyed the cloud sculpture and longed to get wet in the fountain sculptures.  

Headdress fro Guinea

Illustrated Ethiopian Bible

Hat from Cameroon

Using Open Table, I found the Farmhouse up on Chicago Avenue.  We cabbed up but discovered an L stop across the street for the ride back.  The restaurant reminded me of some new one in Minneapolis — lots of good locally sourced food.  I had delicious lamb chops, Aideen a thick steak perfectly cooked.  We stopped at Baskin & Robbins where Mickey and I got ice cream cones for dessert.  

Mickey and the bean (or cloud)

Mickey at the fountain

28 August
Another long but fun day.  The Museum of Science and Industry is my favorite museum in the world.  I was about Mickey’s age the first time I went there, and while much has changed,  a lot is the same.  Mostly it’s become more interactive, even more kid friendly.  And I think more exhibits require a separate fee.  Mickey picked one that he and Aideen visited.  Friend Marija who trained in from the south suburbs and I wandered around the free exhibits.  Marija couldn’t stay for dinner due to the train schedule, but my cousin’s daughter Rachel joined us at Beacon Tavern which she’d recommended.  We cabbed there but walked back after another excellent meal.

Marija at Museum of Science
and Industry
29 August, O’Hare International Airport, Chicago
Took the Blue Line to breakfast with Rachel at a cute outdoor cafe, Lula’s.  I vacation-treated myself and had a bagel and lox, excellent.  Then we walked around that neighborhood a while before I got back on the L to the airport.  I was really early, but it was too hot and muggy to be outdoors too long, dragging my roller bag.  Great to see Rachel who’s interested in a family trip to Scotland which I’d also like to do again.

Sitting near my gate, the rain was so gentle that I didn’t notice it until a crack of thunder and lightning flashed so brightly that it seemed right next to me.  That was almost seven hours ago.  First my flight was diverted to Milwaukee.  After a second storm hit, it was cancelled.  In the meantime, Aideen and Mickey walked over and we had a short walk and visit.   Their flight was later than mine and they’d stayed in the city long enough to do a hop on/hop-off bus tour — and decide they definitely want to return.  Back at my gate, I stood in line with everyone else for rerouting.  So relieved that I got on to a flight tonight, not in the morning as posted.  We’ll board soon … and I’ve been upgraded again.  

Later, Minneapolis MN USA
Home at last.  Took the Light Rail, then a bus and got here at 10 pm.  I am pooped, but a good kind of pooped.  Had a fantastic weekend.  And I returned to a clean condo.  Marianne let Kelly and crew in for my monthly cleaning.  Tomorrow dinner with old friend Randy that I don’t get to see often, and volunteer work at People Serving People (addressing envelopes for their gala is becoming an annual thing).  Busy week and month ahead.

31 August
Breakfast with Sue and Nancy today, and we had a chance to catch up.  They had a relaxing time on Mayne Island, BC.  Nancy’s in a bit of a holding pattern re treatment until test results are available.  Nancy and Sue’s travel blog has morphed and updates what’s happening.