Happy Leap Year: 2016
1 January 2016, first day of a new year, a leap year no less, Minneapolis MN USA
Wonderful start to a new year: my sister, Janet and Ed, their son Thom, their daughter Peggy and her husband John were here for my annual pork-and-sauerkraut dinner. My dark-haired sister Barbara arrived first, a less conventional “first footing” since traditionally it’s supposed to be a man. And John fulfilled that role when the guests arrived. First footing is a Scottish thing: for a year of good luck, the person to cross your threshold on New Year’s Day should be a dark-haired man, and you should offer him a whisky. I hope beer and vodka count!
7 January, Bethesda MD
Last few days have been busy lunching and dinnering with friends I haven’t seen in a while — Marilyn, Kathy K. who’s a grandmother now, Judy. And since my normal cleaning-persons’ day would be while I’m gone, I canceled. Thus, I dusted, vacuumed, washed and changed bed linens. You get the picture.
Heading to bed shortly as SuperShuttle picked me up before 5 am for my flight today. I’ll stay here in Bethesda for a couple of days with Inga and the girls, then Sunday go over to Arlington to stay with Mickey for a couple of weeks. Aideen is talking about a couple of days at a fancy spa in Middleburg when she gets back. That would be a special treat for sure.
10 January, Arlington VA
Huge group for brunch in Bethesda this morning — Aideen and Mickey drove over, Tosia had two friends, Frankie and a friend, Inga, my niece Dyana and me. Lots of fun. Inga drove me over to Aideen’s midday, then Mickey and I drove Aideen to Dulles. Busy week for the kiddo — lots of music. Mickey’s taking saxophone lessons and plays guitar in a rock band. He’s on crutches after doing major damage to his foot cartilage while jumping off a bed. Need to check with Regina re using our Baltimore reservations as he cannot use the pool and walking through a museum on crutches … I don’t think so.
|Lunch with Susan and Oren|
16 January 2016
Just saw the new Star Wars, Episode 7, in 3D at the IMax theater. Wow! Quite the production but I have to say, it was made for those of us who remember the original three episodes. So much was directly derived from that. Of course, I recognized the Millennium Falcon right away, and the Death Star, and the storm troopers and Darth Vader’s replacement (his grandson no less). And yes, all the old stars have aged, as they should since a bit of time has passed since Episode 6. Not sure what the kerfluffle was over Carrie Fisher — she looks great, just like a middle aged princess-general. But some of the air fight scenes were so much like the originals. Anyway, it was lots of fun and I’m glad I finally got to see it.
|Back home in MN, Alijah met |
Chewy & Vader
Big news today … doctor has said Mickey only needs the boot, no longer crutches. We are both very happy about that. He’ll be able to use the pool at the spa if we go. He needs the boot two more weeks, then may move to a brace that fits into his shoe.
Our long weekend was busy and interesting. On Sunday, we drove to Gaithersburg for Mickey’s school chum’s birthday party at Monster Mini Golf, a big glow-in-the-dark room with a score of active video games, a mini golf course and private dining rooms for parties. And needless to say, dozens of kids, mostly boys in the 10-13 year old range. Since we were early, I got Mickey a card to play a few games — he liked “bowling” (we called it skee ball at Kennywood Park in PA … you roll a ball to hit a circle-hole with point values) and a motorcycle race (you sit and steer a cycle through a chosen course; his was Dubai).
|Mickey at Monster Mini Golf|
While Mickey attended the party, I drove to a nearby Barnes & Noble to check out books. I had a 30% off B&N coupon to use, so I got three paperbacks for me and a “starting-knitter kit” for Mickey. I’ve been making a scarf for Inga, and Mickey said he’d like to learn how to knit. I figured the starter kit was a good way since needles, yarn and instructions were included. Yes … and no. The instructions were for experienced knitters. No “how to” lessons. The needles were 10.5, perfect for the yarn, but all of the patterns in the booklet were for much smaller needles and yarn. All of this I discovered when we got home and opened up the “kit.”
|Mickey works on his scar|
Anyway, we got started with casting on using a knit stitch and knitting. He made two small book marks with all knit stitches, one for himself and one for Aideen. Then on Monday we worked on purling, and he competed a second bookmark for his mom. He’d like to make a scarf for her … we’ll see if he stays focused enough. This whole thing has been fun.
Aideen has made reservations at Salamander Spa for Sunday-Tuesday. Hooray! That will be wonderful. She’s already scheduled me a mani-pedi and a massage. Dreams of heaven!
Inga’s finalizing plans for a drive to Miami, beginning Thursday night, flying back Monday night. Tomek and Ada, his friend visiting from Poland, will go along and drive back. Snow storm predicted for this weekend. Ugh!
22 January, Bethesda MD
Mickey and I have hunkered in with Beza the dog at Inga’s until the “blizzard of the century” has passed and roads are cleared, probably on Sunday. Inga, Franciszka, Antonia, Tomek and Ada have arrived safely in Miami where it is raining. Here, the snow has been coming down steadily since 1 pm. Mickey and Beza spent about 30 minutes in the back yard in the snow, Mickey throwing a ball and Beza chasing. Got some cute pix.
|Mickey & Beza on Day 1|
Weather report. Arlington cancelled school yesterday because we had a bit of snow Wednesday night, and of course, cancelled today too in anticipation. Predictions are that roads in general should be back in useable shape by middday Sunday, but who knows? This part of the world just isn’t prepared for snow of any depth. Friend Lauri and I cancelled lunch just in case, and it’s good we did. She, John and Mimi live Fairfax County where schools may be closed all next week too. Fairfax is large and has lots of small roads that’ll take a long time to clear for school buses. In other news, Aideen had changed her flight to return today, hoping to arrive pre-storm. Unfortunately at Frankfort, all flights to DC area were cancelled. She was going to try for Newark; not news in the last few hours, so maybe she’s en route to NYC.
We shoveled the back deck, steps and sidewalk at the bottom … about 4 inches of snow. Figured that would be four less inches to heave tomorrow. And it makes a path and place for Beza when she goes out.
|And we had shoveled once already!|
Mickey has been having a good time in the snow. He’s out now for the second time today. Earlier Beza went too. While she doesn’t like rain, she seems to enjoy snow. Before coming back in, she had to roll in the snow on the deck a few times.
When I trudged out to start up Aideen’s and Franciszka’s cars, both parked in the driveway, and Tomek’s in the garage, Henry from across the street and another neighbor were in the knee-deep street. Their big dogs were having a ball in the snow. Henry put a yardstick in a strategic location for measuring snow depth and said it was 19 inches (that was at 9:30 am). That was when I did the second shoveling of the back deck etc. for Beza (and Mickey). After a hearty breakfast (eggs, etc.), I went out and shoveled again. Beza and Mickey played, which meant I got snow covered. This all reminds me of the 2010 DC snow storm after which Regina and I went to the hospital for her foot surgery and of my childhood in Western PA. When I was about Mickey’s age, we had a snowfall that filled our driveway (3-4 feet deep). Have gotten several good photos.
Satellite has gone out despite cleaning off the dish, which is more easily accessible than I had realized. Thankfully Internet is on different vendor and still works. We’ll watch something on Netflix tonight.
Have called a bunch of DC area friends to make sure all of safe and well. Bob’s daughter Alexis said her street in College Park has already been plowed! Everyone’s okay. Aideen is at a hotel near her condo in Arlington. She flew to Newark, trained to DC, then took a cab to her condo. She said it was one of only two vehicles on I-395 and the cabbie’s “drop” was $20! But she is safe and warm. Perhaps later today or tomorrow her building manager will be available to let her into her condo; he lives in the building too although the building regs don’t allow him to open a condo for an owner. Very weird rule.
|Beza loved rolling in snow|
Sunshine and no snow falling. Hurray. Mickey and I shoveled a path around the cars to the road, which still isn’t plowed. Henry said a big dump truck came through last night and left the ruts that , from my window, made it look plowed. He said the plows would do a road around the neighborhood first. So Mickey and I walked up this afternoon to see; no plow yet. Also talked to Brandon; I had left a voicemail for his wife Mary yesterday when I was checking on folks and also looking for some satellite dish advice. Brandon’s an ER doc and I thought he might be working. Instead he’s taxiing other docs to the hospital in his big Suburban.
|Mickey was an incredible|
help with shoveling
Since I spent an hour on live chat with Dish to no avail, I gave up. Then Inga called and said that when I moved the cabinet where all the equipment (receiver, stereo, etc.) are, I probably pulled something loose as Tomek had put things in tightly. He’ll have to fix that when they’re back; I give up. I found a movie on HBO that Mickey and I can watch later.
Aideen’s still at the hotel, and I hope, getting some sleep. She’s having a bad case of jet lag.
Got the television working. I had pulled a plug loose. I guessed which USB port it fit into … correctly … and voila! television.
Talked with Aideen and told her to rent a car for a couple of days and that I’d pay for it. She got a decent sized one at Enterprise, and Mickey and I slogged up to Westmoreland Circle and met her. I gave her the condo keys and her son. Now she can get into her condo. As soon as the plow does our block, I can drive her car out.
The plow came through this afternoon and left a thick, hard wake along the front of the driveway and yard. But at least the street is clear. Since Inga and the girls return home tonight, I shoveled out the rest of the front sidewalk as well as Aideen’s car. Amazingly my back and arms have not been bothered. I take 600mg of Advil when I finish, and that seems to do the trick. All that water ex has paid off!
Everyone got home safely and on time last night. I had fallen asleep on the sofa and awoke when they came in. This morning Aideen and Mickey drove over in the rental car, and I drove her car back to Arlington. Frankie came along so she could pick up prescriptions at a CVS. Roads were wet, not nearly fully as wide as normal but drivable.
27 January, Minneapolis MN
Home again! My flight back was uneventful, and we arrived 15 minutes early. Took the LRT to the Target Field station and my sister Barbara met me and drove me home. Went through three weeks of mail, unpacked and now I’m off to bed.
29 January, 30th anniversary of Challenger disaster
Some days you never forget where you were when … you learned JFK was shot, for example. The day of the Challenger disaster is another one of those days. Although I didn’t recall the actual date, I remember vividly the day. I was in the woolen’s factory shop in the Amana Colonies in Iowa. Iowa was a big part of my territory when I was a regional medical marketing manager for what was then the world’s largest medical malpractice insurer. The underwriter I was traveling with and I had some time to kill before a lunch meeting with a Cedar Rapids insurance agent at a nearby restaurant. So we checked out the stores. In the background at the woolen shop a television was on and as the Challenger prepared to lift off, our attention shifted from yard goods to space travel. Along with a couple of clerks and another customer or two, we watched the space shuttle take off … and blow up. The silence in the store was deafening as we comprehended what that all meant, and then announcer laid it out.
After my eye doctor appointment yesterday, it took longer than I expected for my dilated eyes to return to normal. I had to cancel my trip to Northfield but was able to talk to Lois on the phone.
Tonight I went to dinner at Pazzaluna and the opera at the Ordway with friend Randy. He took over our late friend Diane’s Minnesota Opera season tickets and has spectacular seats, second row center. The opera was Rusalka, one with which neither of us was familiar. But it was excellent, especially the mezzo-soprano who sang the lead. The male lead had a nice voice but it wasn’t strong enough in comparison to hers. But he was lovely eye candy!
Made chicken broth from the balance of my latest rotisserie chicken. So ends the first month of the new year.