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.

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