Sunday, December 27, 2009

First Leg of Journey

Out of house at 4:10 am after gingerly walking the icy sidewalk and driveway to load the last things in car. On the road about 3 minutes when I asked "did you turn down heat." Answer "Nope." Back to house to do that. There is a lot to think about when leaving for as long as we are.

Uneventful until we got into Iowa. Terrible, icy roads. They sure do not clear as well as MN does. The left lane was so scary. The exits were not plowed. We wanted to stop at a rest area but did not want to take the chance of not getting through. By the time we did stop we both had to make a dash for the restroom. Sun started to come up about 7 am and that made it somewhat easier but still difficult. Sun started to melt some of the ice.

Missouri was much better and Kansas was clear sailing. We are in an EconoLodge in Pratt, Kansas. Stopped about 5:30. Pudge is exhausted as he did all the driving with very little sleep last night. He has had a bad cough that kept him awake. I got caught up on my magazine reading and started a book. It was very pleasant for me.

Have tomorrow planned out. We will see how it goes.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Beginning of Something New

Wow!! It has been nothing but a whirlwind of activity these past few days and even the last week. Trying to get ready for 2 big events just about did me n.

Christmas. Now I know everybody gets busy with the preparations. I told myself that I was not going to be putting up all of my decorations this year. Well, I didn't but I still put up a lot. Everyday 2 weeks prior I kept digging in my boxes and discover something that I felt needed to be out. So I had to find a home for a lot more things than planned. To make a long story short Christmas day all of my family come to my house for present opening and brunch. Then it is up to Mom's for more family members and present opening and dinner and of course, plum pudding. Then clean up the mess up there. Get home about 8 pm and clean up brunch dishes and put them all back. Also Christmas night we took down the tree and all the other decorations. Fell into bed about 1 am. Up early to start laundry and packing the van. That took some doing. Had to go through clothes and decide what was going. That was not an easy task. Organized decorations and boxes and they all went back into the attic. Cleaned refrigerator. Packed spices and some staples. More things into the van. This was not easy either because our driveway is icy and full of hard ridges so it made the job more difficult. I thought to myself "why would I want to leave this"---NOT

Well after everything is all said and done--the van is very full. I have my magazines and books ready to go. We will be leaving early --4 am. We are both excited to start this new venture in our lives. It will be different.

So I bid you all farewell. I am saying good bye to the ice, cold, snow, shoveling, slop, slush, heavy bulky clothes and boots.

Hope to keep you all posted about this experience via blogging. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Visit With Relly's

Monday, Nov. 16th, 2009--We picked up Barb & Butch (Pudge's sister and brother in law) at 7 am. Plan was to go to Northwood, North Dakota to visit their 94 year old aunt who was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. She was moved into assistant living the first of the year.

Northwood is about an hour and a half from Fargo. This is where Pudge's mom was born and raised. Barb would spend summers there often with the grandma and of course, the aunts and uncles as well. This is the last surviving aunt.
I loaded myself down with books and magazines for this long, boring ride across the North Dakota plains. The day was beautiful-sun shining and warm. Much visiting was done in the car and the time and miles went fast. In Mayville, ND which is about 20 miles from Northwood we got a motel room. Then off to our destination. First we took a drive around Hatton where we tried to fined Louise's home. I remember visiting this person many years ago. She isn't a relative but her sister married one of Pudge's uncles. Anyway, what I remember about this home was that it was a big Victorian with pocket doors, a sitting parlor that had sun streaming in from big windows and it was filled with beautiful antique furniture, a very old fashioned kitchen where Louise served us a "little lunch." (Remember we are in a region with all Swedes and Norwegians and they really do talk like that.) We were not successful in finding the house. We think it probably got torn down.

Got to Northwood about 1:30. Found the assisted living facility with no problems. It is not a big town. Now before I go further I need to tell my thoughts previous to this whole trip. My memories of Aunt Euny was that she was a small, cute and attractive woman who was always fun and pleasant to visit with. In my mind I had prepared myself to see a frail, sickly, bedridden woman. After all she was 94. I had also prepared myself for a "nursing home" type setting. So after finding the place the four of us ventured in only to find a very pleasant big room with fireplace, comfortable and very nice furniture at one end and a kitchen,m dining room at the other end. It was all windows and the sun was coming in from all sides. Lots of cute fall decorations brightened the place. Nobody was in sight to get any information. Pudge started down the hall and each door had names on them. He found Euny's apartment and motioned for us. We stood at the doorway. Pudge knocked and we heard this strong voice proclaim "come in--doors open." Much to my surprise when we walked in there was this woman looking strong and healthy and very good. She was tiny but not frail. Upon seeing us she clapped her hands and with a huge smile and her eyes twinkling she hugged each of us. You could tell she was thrilled to see us. We sat down in her pleasant little apartment and started to get caught up. Shortly her daughter, Kay called and instructed us to go to the common dining room. We took the short walk and on the DR table there were cheerful cups and dishes, an assortment of bars and 2 pots of coffee awaiting us. More visiting and catching up. I was amazed at Euny. She is slightly hard of hearing and does walk with a walker but those are the only things that give away her age. She was on top of things as long as she could hear. Her hair was thick and she had just gotten a perm and it was lovely.

John Sundquist (Kay's husband, Euny's son in law) came through the door and joined us. He is 100% Swedish and is the 3rd generation to live on his farm. I would have really liked to have visited this farm. It is about 19 miles from Northwood. I have a feeling that many books that I have read about the Swedes immigrating to the Dakotas may have come alive somewhat on this farm. There was not enough time. Kay (Euny's daughter) joined us after her dr. appt. More coffee, bars, and catching up.

The plan for later was to go to a restaurant where Sherry (Euny's other daughter) was going to drive from Fargo to join us. She would not be able to get there until 6:30. Euny was getting feisty much earlier than that because she wanted to leave . We managed to hold her down until about 6 pm at which time we left for the 5 minute drive. We did take a tour of the town which was hit hard by a tornado about 2 years ago.

So good to see Sherry. We appreciated her making the long drive. Everything about the evening was fun.

After we ate we went back said our final farewells with hugs.

Up the next morning. It was dark and gray and cold. I looked out the motel window at the desolate North Dakota plains and it sure looked bleak. We walked to Paula's restaurant for breakfast. It looked like this was the restaurant where the farmers met for breakfast. You could tell they were discussing all the world's problems. There was no mistaken that these were North Dakota farmers. Everything gave them away--from the way they dressed to the way they talked.

On the road again heading toward Grand Rapids. First a stop in Crookston, Minnesota. Pudge's cousin, Lois and her husband own a candy shop there and we deicided to try to find it. Found it with no trouble and really surprised Lois. It was fun. Candy store was really neat. They make all their own candy and this store had been handed down through the generations. Some quick visiting was done. I purchased (well I tried but they would not let me pay) some cute, little chocolate turkeys and they gave us a box of chocolate potato chips.

Before our stop in Crookston we did stop in Bemidji for a purpose. A while ago we were given some barbecue sauce that was wonderful and the only place you could get it is in Bemidji. Went into a grocery store and found it. The break was nice--just to get out and walk around.

Day is beautiful. Sun is shining and conversation in car was great. Talked and laughed about the word "uffda." It really is used a lot by these people. We did see a lot of deer hunters.

Pulled into Lorna's driveway at her farm in Grand Rapids about 1:30. Lorna is Barb and Butch's daughter. We had a tour of the newly built house and did some visiting. Then we took a long walk to the pasture and Tommy's (Lorna's son) house to see the cows and the big bull. It was starting to get dusk and cold. We also toured her tack room in the garage back at Lorna's farm. Lorna used to ride and show horses and there were very many trophies and ribbons that she had on display.

We left to go to a restaurant for a very nice dinner. Said our goodbyes to Lorna after and we got a motel room in Grand Rapids.

Up the next morning. Destination - home. We dropped Barb and Butch off at their house about noon. We all agreed that it was a great trip. We were very glad we went. I know many memories were created and boy!!was it fun.

Barb, Butch and Lorna at Lorna's house in Grand Rapids.
Sign in restaurant. I think most of this was serious because people do tend to stay a long time over coffee.
Pudge, Barb, their cousins-Kay & Sherry and Aunt Euny

Pudge & his beloved Aunt Euny

In the sunny dining room having coffee and bars.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I wonder why my last blog post is not showing up in the other blogs side bar?? I wonder if it was because I had it as a draft and then added to it before I published it?? I am going to post this right away and see if it will go into the side bars. I am getting tired of seeing Jan & Judy. They have been there for the longest time. So this is a test.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Condo

We are now owners of a 2BR/2Ba condo at Sunland Village East in Mesa, Arizona. It came about sooner than what we had planned but hopefully it will work out for us.

How did this all come about? Last year when we were there we went looking for condos to rent for Jan., Feb., March, 2010. We saw this one and looked at it, signed a rental contract and put $ down. There was a clause in the rental contract that if it should come up for sale we would have first option to buy. Well-we thought this would work out. We would be able to rent and decide if we really liked it. Didn't think this option of them selling would come so soon. Of course, we did know that the owner was 95 years old.

This summer got email. They wanted to sell. OK-now we have to really think about this. We made a list of pros and cons. Now I do have to admit that our friends, Jim & Gloria had already bought a condo in this same complex while we were there in Jan. and we are making a decision based on a lot of their hard work researching everything there was to be researched. Believe me when I tell you that Jim leaves no stone unturned when it comes to spending his $. We had to keep in mind that according to the experts this is the time to buy because the housing market is low. To make a long story short and after offers, counter offers, inspections, talking with our financial advisor, etc.... we came to an agreement.

What we like about the condo:

  • The layout. We found that we need our own spaces. Last year's condo was very nice but it only 1 LR. So because we watch such different TV (I can only stand so much of ESPN and he can't stand what I watch) that meant one of us had to be in the BR which neither one of us liked. This has a LR and a FR as well as what is called an Arizona room which is a screened in porch. This will work so much better for us.

  • The location. It is right on the golf course. The golf course is our back yard. Very pretty. If I remember right we are able to see Superstition Mountain also.

  • The complex. It is a +55 development.

  • Activities. There are so many activities that I will find it hard to pick and choose.

  • Everything is very nice and neat. There are lots of rules that dictate to make this happen.

  • The fact that Jim & Gloria will be there and we also have other friends who live there year round.

  • The weather. We will not have to fight ice, snow and cold. No more boots, heavy coats, etc...

  • Mesa. Tons of shopping & restaurants. Also, it is very easy to get around. Streets run parallel and everything seems to be squared off so it is hard to get lost.

  • Not far from lots of places we like or would like to see.
  • Pudge loves the golf around there.

What I don't like about condo.

  • The fact that it is a +55. I am going to miss youngsters.

  • A lot of rules. I wonder how many times we will be scolded for breaking some of them.
  • All of these units look the same on the outside.

Now most of the time when people sell their condos it is usually all furnished. Our owner wanted most of her furniture. They did leave a bedroom set, a couch, some end tables and a few other things. That did not bother me too much because I was not fond of most of it anyway. I could have made do with it and we would not be so pressured to get some of the essentials that we need. But that's OK--I am up to the challenge of furnishing this. In fact, I am looking forward to it. I have been on Craigs list and the deals to be had are incredible--not to mention the garage sales, thrift stores, etc... This is going to be fun. I know one thing--it will not be decorated in the Southwestern style that is so popular down there. I do not like the pastelly pinks, blues and patterns. I do not like Kokopelli (he is the god of something and he is blowing a horn and dancing) They have him all over the place. Another thing--those god awful pink curtains in the living room that they left will be the first thing to come down.

I am starting to go through stuff here at home. It feels good to thin things out around here. But I do have to remember that we have limited space because we are only bringing our van and it can only hold so many boxes.

This year we are planning on leaving around Dec. 28th and returning sometime in April. Mom is coming the middle of January and returning the first part of March. We already have guests coming Jan. 8th-16th. A couple of college kids that Pudge coached and still has a relationship with them. I am hoping our kids will be able to visit at some time and any body else. We have a blow up queen size bed as well as a guest room that I want to get twin beds. There will be a couple of couches. So this is an invitation for each and every one of you to come visit. We will be more than happy to see people from home.

This will be a new venture for us. It is something to look forward to. Hope it works out.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Pictures From KOA Weekend

Jan & Judy (sisters)
KOA's motto

All the masks we painted. Mine was the princess.

Ice cream on the porch. Marnie's treat.

Marnie taking our order for "her breakfast."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Continuation of KOA weekend

Saturday night after dinner we all settled down. We were drinking tea and chatting. It was pleasant. Then I heard something near the wall squeak and upon looking over there was a furry thing (no doubt a mouse) scurrying near the base of the wall not far from me. I do not like mice. That fact was very evident in my reaction. I screamed, stood up, threw my cup of tea and started hopping around like a bunny trying to escape from something. My heart was pumping, tears came to my eyes and I was very frightened. All this time the others were rolling on the floor laughing so hard they could not talk. I did not see anything funny about it. Yep--I was set up. It was a fake mouse that they put on a fishing pole with line so they could make it scurry. Jan was wetting her pants because of laughing so hard. Come to find out that wasn't the case at all--it was my tea from the cup I threw that was running down her leg. We all got a laugh out of that. After bawling those guys out among their laughter I went to sit back down. Dammit!! There was that ugly mouse on the couch. I screamed to get it out of there. I did not want to see it. The others are having a hard time moving because of laughing. Finally dear Liz came to my rescue and said she would remove the fake mouse. It turned out it was my tea bag--boy it sure looked like a mouse with a tail.

Climbed into bed that night and there was a big plastic rat in my sleeping bag. That did not scare me--too fakey looking but I did cuss when I threw the dumb thing out.

Sunday morning--Judy & I up early. We visit for about an hour and a half before the others even stir. After everyone is up we drink coffee on the deck and solve all the world's problems. It is a gorgeous morning and the lake is so pretty.

Marnie's turn to cook breakfast. Now I am going to try to explain this but words will not give it justice. She went inside and started to hustle around. Nobody is paying much attention. After a few minutes she comes out the door dressed in a chef's apron and has her hair wrapped in a white terry towel to resemble a chef's hat. She told all of us to come in and sit at the already set table. We did and then we were handed menus. Talk about creative--the menu had different options which cracked all of us up. She was there with pad and pencil ready to take our orders. She then goes into the kitchen and starts cooking. I am here to tell you there were pots & pans everywhere and she was hustling. Eggs were frying, bacon and sausage cooking, pancakes grilling, bread and English muffins toasting. She was sweating. We were laughing. Comment was made "I'm sure glad I don't have kitchen cleanup." Service was very slow but on the back side of our menus there was Soduko. Some of us worked on it--not me. Too much concentrating. Finally all of our breakfasts were served. That was so much fun.

Into town where we went to a few gift shops, bought ice, checked our lottery tickets to see if we had a winner (we didn't--only a measly $3.00), bought ice, & enjoyed ice cream cones on the porch of the ice cream parlor.

Back to cabin. Pontoon boat ride where we explored the lake. Saw an eagle.

Went for a walk in the woods and dug out some small pine trees for Todd-Jan's son. Made caramel apples. Did a craft project which was painting masks on a stick. Marnie and Liz really have artistic abilities and you could tell. Their masks rocked. The rest of ours were very "ho-hum" in comparison but it didn't matter. We had fun. The thought crossed my mind--"this is what it will be like in a nursing home. All the little, old ladies doing the arts and craft activity."
Dinner was Jan's famous tuna fish salad sandwiches and soup.

Later on popcorn was made and we watched the emmys, played games, talked and laughed.

Monday morning--started packing up. Everyone on their own for breakfast. Cabin cleaned, took pictures, KOA flag was lowered.

It was the greatest time. Many memories were created. I am grateful for these wonderful people I call my friends.

Pictures of KOA weekend.

Clue that Jan and Marnie were nearby,

Judy & me by the tower we just got done climbing. It was higher
it looks.

Liz at the top of tower. Note how tightly she is hanging on. We all
were. It was scary.

Found the geocache treasure which was a film canister. We
signed our names and put the little pink ribbon in it to prove we
were there.

This is where it was. Stuck in a little cutout on the landing of the
ranger tower.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

KOA Weekend - Sept. 18-21, 2009

Lucky me!! I got invited to go along on the KOA (Keep Old Active) weekend. Now this is an organization that has met I think for the past 6 years on a regular basis. I have been included in some of the activities around here but I am not sure they were the actual KOA stuff.

The people in this organization: Judy Deans, Jane George (these 2 happen to be sisters) and Liz Casper & Marnie McLevish (and these 2 are sisters.) One member could not make the weekend--Joan DeMars. She was missed more than once and the only thing that would have made the whole thing better is if she would have been there.

A beautiful fall afternoon on Friday when Judy picked me up at my house. Over to White Bear and Shoreview to pick up Liz and Marnie. Of course, the car was abuzz with all of us conversing and getting caught up. Very pleasant drive and the time went fast. Met up with Jan at MilleLacs. Decided to have dinner before going to cabin. Ate at a wonderful place on the deck overlooking a lake. In my mind--life could not have been better. I mean really--sippping wine on a beautiful fall afternoon overlooking a lake that looked like diamonds because the sun was shining brightly and being with all of these great women who make me laugh all the time. What is there not to like? Waitress did spill our appetizers as she tried to set them on our table. They went all over her white pants. Another took her place while she went home to change.

Onto the cabin. It is located on Lake Washburn which is in between Outing and Emily, Minnesota. It has been in the Deans family for many years. It is exactly what an old fashioned cabin should be--very quaint and cute and filled with antiques and history. It is located at the tip of a peninsula so every window you looked out you saw the lake. Unpacked car, picked our rooms, and toured "Harry's cabin" located just down a short path. That is where Jan & Liz bunked. We had a "ceremony" as the KOA flag was raised on the flagpole signifying the start of our time together at the cabin. I also made up a chant for us one night when I could not sleep. It goes like this: I would holler "I don't know but I've been told" the others would have to repeat it back--"Judy's cabin is the place to go." "All us ladies are spiffed and shine." "Gonna giggle & laugh and have some wine." "Sound off." "1, 2." "Sound off." "3, 4." --well you get the idea.

Friday night was spent talking and laughing. Popcorn was made but there was an issue with butter. I do not like greasy butter and needless to say it is not a good choice. Marnie melted a pound of it and poured it all over her and Jan's corn. They like butter.

Next morning--Judy made a wonderful breakfast of french toast and bacon. After clean up we piled into the car. Destination was the rangers tower. Judy had clues for geocaching. How fun!! Geocaching is where treasures are hidden by people and clues are given over the Internet for others to find. I had heard of this but never did it. I do know some can be very sophisticated and includes having a GPS and quadrants are published. Ours was simple. Go to ranger tower to the second level. Judy, Liz & I are pumped to find this. Jan & Marnie--not so much. They remained on the ground as we climbed. Judy found it right away. It was a little film canister stuck in the corner of the landing. It contained a dime, a rolled up piece of paper with a very tiny pencil to be able to sign names and dates. It was fun. Now the challenge. We want to climb to top. I am very afraid of heights and do not like how open this tower is. I played a mind game --convincing myself that it is a good thing to come out of your comfort zone and try new things. I want to do this and with the encouragement of Judy & Liz--I CAN DO THIS!! Up we go. Not bad until about the 5th level where we start getting above the trees. The further we go the more scared I am becoming. I can tell because I start to hyperventilate a little. Still doing OK even if heart is pumping faster. The others are feeling it also. The 3 of us are encouraging each other. 2 more flights and I am really not liking this but I am almost there. Judy goes first and reaches the top. I am next. Somewhat of a struggle to get off the stairs onto the platform. It was scary. I am hanging on tightly to the bars. Trying to enjoy the scenery but --Oh My!! we were high and it was kind of open (too open for me anyway.) Forgot to mention that there were huge piles of bird droppings that we were trying to avoid. Spent about 5-10 minutes up there. Caution going down especially when we were up high. As we got lower it was a piece of cake. Jan & Marnie are not where we left them. Walking back to the car there was a clue that they were there. A cute smiley face was made with rocks and sticks pointing the way that they were going. As we neared the end of the path they jumped out at us. They tried covering themselves with leaves to camouflage. Did not work.

Onto an auction. It was fun watching the clientele and seeing all the stuff (junk) that was being auctioned. I inadvertently made a bid on a piece of junk much to my surprise. Judy & I were not in the mix with the crowd but over to the side. I was explaining something to her and raised my arms to stress a point being made. They took that for a bid. Bidding had to stop until they got it straightened out. I then got very far away from the auctioneer and crowd so that would not happen again.

Back in the car. Destination - boat landing where there is another geocache. Clue: look for a tupperware container wrapped in duct tape left of the landing dock. We all start searching. I go into the lake and walk the shore. Others are in the woods. After about 10 minutes Jan hollers "I found it." We gather to see what is in this one--a small tile that says "Emily" a letter "E", paper and pencil to sign our names among the others on the list. I forgot to mention that in this one and the one on the ranger tower we added a pink tie that was part of Liz's headgear that day.

To the Holiday station where we buy lottery tickets. To the corn stand to buy corn for tonight's dinner. Then back to cabin for snacks, drinks, laughter and fun. Jan throws a line in the water to see if she can catch some fish. No luck. Dinner was made later in the evening--hot dogs, corn, and beans.

One thing that needs to be noted--these girls are very much practical jokers ( well 2 of them anyway) It gets to the point where you hate to turn your back on them not knowing what is going to happen.

To be continued...............

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Pictures From Up North

Pudge walking ahead on the cute, quaint, little road amongst the cute, quaint, little cottages. Talk about people seeing things differently. I saw all of this as very charming and lovely. Pudge saw it as a "dump."
Another cottage on Cottage Hill.

Cottage on Cottage Hill.

One of the cute cottages on Cottage Hill.

Walking around the Breezy Point complex we came across this development. All kinds of cute, quaint cottages. I think I read somewhere that it was once a CCC camp in the 1930's. They were close together but I thought that added to the charm.

Elvis (Chris Olson) singing the American Trilogy. It was great. Enjoyed this a lot.
OK--I wanted to post more pictures so I could experiment a bit and get more used to posting pictures. It did not work the way I wanted it to as far as getting them in chronological order. I know one way to do it but wanted to try another to see if it would work. It didn't but I still learned some other things.

Monday, August 17, 2009

# 10

I was tagged by my cousin Donna to do this.
Simple rules:
-Open your first photo folder
-Scroll down to the 10th photo
-Post that photo and story on your blog
-Tag five others to do the same.

This photo was taken in the Florida Keys. This was in February of 2008. We were waiting to eat at restaurant right along the water when this picture was taken. Also spent time in Miami. I remember liking South Beach a lot. People watching was the best. It truly is the land of beautiful people. Almost felt like a foreign country because of all the ethnic groups and languages. I really liked it. We drove to the Keys which was fascinating. Spent a couple of days there. Toured Truman White House and Hemingway's house. We were with our dear friends--Jim & Gloria. It was a great trip. Numerous memories were made on that trip.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Up North

OK--I know it has been awhile since I have blogged and about 5 people are questioning why there hasn't been anything--which BTW made me feel good.

Now it will be interesting to see if I can put the knowledge that Sarah taught me about posting pictures and other things about this blogging. I am hoping I do not get frustrated and I am also hoping that I will not be on this computer for 2-3 hours trying to figure out things.

First thing I want to do is put pictures in chronological order.

Here goes--Wish me luck!!

Friday morning, August 14, 2009--started preparing for a getaway weekend up north. Flowers and tomatoes are watered, bags are packed, coolers are stocked with food, snacks, and water, books and magazines that I want to look at are put in the van. Pudge goes over to hook up boat. Comes back and says "we can't go." Somebody stole both of the depth finders out of the boat. They also tried to get some of the rods and reels but they got tangled and they must have given up. OK--in my thoughts I start to rearrange my thought pattern for staying at home. A little while later Pudge comes back and says that we can use a portable depth finder that he happened to have in the garage. Not the best but it will do.

First stop--MilleLacs Lake. About noon we launch boat and off we went to the deep waters to catch walleye that the lake is famous for. Problems with boat. Back to dock. Not quite sure what was wrong and how it got solved but we are off again. Not able to go fast because of the issues with the boat. That is fine with me. I don't like fast. Get to the "fishing spot." I get myself settled at the bow of the boat with a book, padding for my back and head and a glass of wine at my side. Pudge is busy baiting rods with leeches. He gets mine done and props it. Now I can only hope that a fish doesn't bite so I have to get up from my cozy spot, put book down and deal with the stupid fish. I am in my glory. The sun is hot and it penetrates your bones so you finally feel warm. Book is good and sips of the cold wine is very refreshing. I am loving it!! Pudge not so much. He doesn't like the heat. I am hearing him mumble and grumble as he continuously wipes sweat from his head and brow.
Spent a few hours on the lake. No bites (Hooray!! Hooray!!)

Now on to Brainerd. The drive is scenic and interesting. Had a wonderful dinner at a steak house. Took a long ride around Gull Lake. We plan to spend the night in the van. The back makes into a very comfortable bed and we also planned on spending it in the WalMart parking lot. Now I can just hear some of you thinking "oh boy! that sounds like a good time." Actually it is. There is something about the simplicity of this that I really enjoy. Now it is something I would not want to do for 3 or 4 nights in a row but 1 or 2 nights is just fine with me. There are other motor homes doing this also and there is a kind of camaraderie with them. We get ourselves settled in. I am quite comfortable. It is nice to not have to use covers. Once again this is not so for Pudge. He is warm and slept fitfully through the night. I slept well. Even had to pull covers up in middle of the night. It was chilly.

Up the next morning very early which is usual for us. Used WalMart restrooms. Got a newspaper. Went to Caribou. Sat there drinking coffee, reading paper and getting on the internet for about 2 hours. I thought they were going to start charging us rent.

Next destination is Breezy Point on Pelican Lake. We did stop at a few garage sales on the way. Also it was chokecherry days in one of the little towns so we walked through there. Got to see Paul Bunyan's fishing bobber which is their water tower and his big chair that he would sit in. Had breakfast in a little cafe.

We had tried to get motel reservations at Breezy Point resort earlier in the week but there was nothing available so we were going to look for a motel close by. We did pull into Breezy Point compound just to look around. I said "let's go in and just see if there was a cancelation." There was. We got a very nice room and we were able to get in right away. It is only about 11:30 am. We both took showers and put on clean clothes and went exploring the area by foot. I like it. Lots of people, lots of water activity, restaurants, golf course, several different housing options, & a gift shop. Pudge is wanting to watch the PGA so he went back to room. I continue to explore and check out the menus for dinner that night.

Later in the afternoon we took a ride. Stopped at a flea market. Not a good one but I did have my picture taken with Babe the Blue Ox.
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We also went to the town of Nisswa where they were having sidewalk days. It was crowded. Lots of gift shops. I do have problems with gift shop prices. I am used to Savers, Goodwill and garage sales. And I swear to all of you I have seen some of the exact same things in the thrift shops that were in those gift shops. The only reason I like to go in the gift shops is to get ideas and realize what a bargain I get when I buy at "my shopping places."

Back to motel where more of the PGA and the twins are watched. There is a gentle rain coming down. I read my book and also keep an eye on the TV when the PGA is on.

Our plan for the evening was to have dinner at the Dockside restaurant because that is where the Elvis show was going to be. It is usually outside on the beach but because of the rain it was to be inside. We knew we had to get there early to get a good seat. Show started anywhere from 8-9:00. We got there about 6:30. It was already crowded and noisy--2 things Pudge does not like. Found a table but no chairs. I decided to walk around to see if there was anything else. Pudge is not too happy. Lo and behold I saw 2 chairs at this very small bar near the front. I asked bartender if anybody was sitting there and no there was not. I could hardly believe it. Quickly went back to get Pudge thinking this might make him happier. It did. We discovered that the stage was about 5 feet from us. They were the best seats in the place. As a matter of fact, I would rub shoulders with Elvis when he would come to bar during performance to drink water and wipe his face. BTW Elvis is Chris (forgot last name) who does an incredible impersonation of Elvis. We have seen him about 4 other times and really enjoyed him. He did not disappoint us this time either. He was great!!! It was so much fun. He sought me out 2 or 3 times--reached for my hand and held it during one song, put a lei around my neck while singing Blue Hawaii into my eyes, pointed at me during one song to make a point. I am sure it had to do with my proximity to him. But whatever it was he was great and I loved it.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Didn't Quite Work

Well--maybe I am moving ahead somewhat. I at least got the pictures that I wanted posted but no luck with writing the text. Also seems like a lot of back & forth, searching & hunting for each picture. This is what happened when I tried what Sarah told me--load pics first and click to right of top picture, press return to type above. Well when I pressed return it posted. Tried to edit and did not get any where with that. Readers, you will just have to bear with me while I try to learn.
Now I'm tired and want to get off this computer. Maybe tomorrow I will post details about the tea party and then again -- maybe not. We will see.

Tea Party

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mad & Frustrated

Damn!! This posting pictures is not going well. My problems and frustrations are as follows:
-I keep forgetting to click "add another image" when I want to do more than one.
-Can hardly see my pictures in the file--too small. When I make them bigger then I scroll down and it seems that I haven't clicked anything and before I know it picture had been uploaded. It is like it has a mind of its own sometimes. Thus the duplication of pictures
-I want my pictures to appear at end of blog not at the beginning. Don't have a clue how to do that. I thought maybe if the curser was where I want the picture that is where it would appear--NOT.
I envy and covet the computer skills many of you have.

More Pictures

Well posting those pictures in the previous post didn't work quite like I wanted it to. I am going to try again.

The Kitchen

Many of you heard about revamping the kitchen. It is done and has been for about a month. I am posting pictures of the done project.

The before kitchen had dated wallpaper all over. It was a struggle to get that off. As I pulled, steamed, & ripped I realized that there was something that I still liked about that wallpaper. It was cheerful. But I was feeling the need to update and that did have to come off.

My goal for the kitchen was to have it very clean and simple. Only enough stuff to give it my personality.

The before kitchen had a warped and stained laminated counter top. There was no back splash-only the wall paper which was curling very badly behind the sink.

Picked out the counter top the first thing. Now remember I wanted simple and plain--nothing busy. Found a granite composite which fit the bill. It was white with a very tiny fleck. Then of course, one thing leads to another. Next it was a new sink, then might as well do a new faucet too.

If you remember the backsplash was a struggle. I had a very hard time picking that out. After about 15 visits to the tile shop and bringing home many samples--it was chosen. Then it was somewhat of a problem to get workman here to get in installed. It was 2-3 weeks of waiting and then another 2 weeks to get the grout on.

I ahd forgotten the what kind of shape the walls were in underneath the wallpaper. I was thinking that we would be able to do the repair work on the walls before we painted but the more paper that came off I knew it was out of our league. Now we had to hire someone to skim coat the walls. Then we had to prime and then paint.

Fabric was bought, curtains were made and some (not all) stuff was put back on the walls and counters.

Now to try to get pictures on this blog of the final product.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Try

On the Wedding Wagon
Sinead & Dan

Tried to post more pictures in the blog about the wedding but it would not let me do it. Going to give this another try.
I see what I did wrong. I didn't click "add another image."
Now there must be a way to put the pictures in a different place on the blog? Like if I wanted to put them in the middle of my post or the end. Anybody know how to do that?

Where Do I Want To Start???

Paul (Sinead's dad) walking her down the aisle

Will start with renditions of the wedding--Sinead Barry (Gemma's daughter) started planning her wedding. I got the idea that Gemma & I could be in charge of decorating the tables for the outdoor reception. Checked with bride and she thought that would be a good thing. Sinead secretly told me that she wanted her mom to be involved somehow but was not quite sure how so she was grateful for the offer. Date for the wedding - July 3rd.

Now one thing was that this was to be done on a tight budget. Good!! I like the challenge and to be very frank I have a hard time spending money on things that I know could be done cheaper.

First idea--pretty white hydrangeas in borrowed vases surrounded by borrowed votive candles. I knew my bush would be blooming as well as neighbors. This was nixed by the bride. She said "too white." She wanted color. She wanted orange & black. ORANGE & BLACK!! Yuck. OK--not my wedding. Now back to the drawing board. How can we do orange & black?? To make a long story short we gathered tiger lilies and other small white flowers from the ditch. Took the borrowed cylinder vases that were graduated sizes-grouped 3 together-colored the water orange-put in the lilies, white flowers and some fern and this all went on a black mat. We were going to put a black ribbon around all 3 vases but because of lack of time that was not done. The votive candles were placed around as well as quotes about love & marriage matted on black paper with an orange ribbon on top. We had borrowed tulle as well as big puffs. The head table was draped with the tulle with little white lights and big puffs of tulle were fastened at each of the places where the drapes were brought up. Some artificial tiger lilies were also placed among the tulle to add color. Cake table was covered with one of my antique, lace edged table cloths and tulle was draped around. We had to do all of this the morning of the wedding.

We got to the reception yard and only a few of the tables and chairs were set up. We scrambled to get the others set up. Mom was placed at a table to start arranging the flowers in the vases. Gemma, Vickie & Al (couple whose yard it was) Mom and I were the only ones there to do all of this. At least the tents were up. We were hustling.

Back to another idea I had. Bride has 2 adorable girls ages 8 & 5 (as well as 14 yr. old Shaun). Groom has 1 adorable 5 yr. old girl and 3 yr. old boy. Why not let the little girls pass out favors to the guests. Favors would be chocolate chip cookies in cellophane bag tied with ribbon and tag that says "Thank you for coming." So Mom baked cookies the 2 weeks before. 2 days before Gemma, Mary Beth, Mom & I (Denny came over to visit) bagged & tied the cookies. We had decorated baskets for them to carry the cookies.

Another idea- (I was driving Gemma crazy) Why not make the Patty Wagon into the Wedding Wagon. So Gemma & I decorated it but they had to all be taken off to transport it and then put back on again once there.

Wedding started at 5:00 and it was over in Minneapolis. We got home at 3:30. Quickly showered, dressed and were on our way. Church was gorgeous. I loved this wedding. Everything was so elegant and tasteful and it was done on such a budget. Sinead was absolutely gorgeous and I am not kidding. Her dress was bought on Craigs list.

Everything went well. Patty Wagon--no Wedding Wagon was a big hit.

Monday, July 13, 2009


This was written last week and I am only posting it now. Just so there is no confusion.

Why haven't I blogged lately?? I have asked myself this question. Answers I cam up with:
-Did not want to take the time.
-Need my creative juices to flow and that hasn't been happening.
-Just not in the mood.
-What makes me think that people want to know about my world? Someone said they thought something like blogs were very narcissistic and egotistical. There may be something to this. But then again if people do not want to know then it is very simple. Just don't go into the website. I very much like hearing about everybody else and what is going on in their lives and I do not consider it narcissistic and egotistical on their part.
-I need quiet where I can think about what I want to say and I do not like to be pressured by people (husband) to hurry up so he can use the computer.

OK--with all of that said I am going to attempt to put down what has been going on. The mood has struck me. I am in a quiet place (Gloria & Jim's cabin--Gloria is getting showered and dressed. The guys left for the golf course.) The day is glorious--sun shining, lake calm and glistening, birds are twittering and singing, squirrels chasing each other and we all have full tummies from a wonderful breakfast that Gloria made. Dishes are washed, dried and put away. Lots of good natured teasing was done between Jim and me. Gloria and Pudge had a wicked game of cribbage which the 2 of them seem to enjoy very much. It is probably their 50th game that they have played this week. Yup-right now life is good.

Now Gloria and I are off to check out some shops. To be continued..... (hopefully soon)

Sunday, June 7, 2009


About 10 years ago in the summer I got an email from Nancy Veenis (teacher friend) saying that she could not wait for me to meet one of my students at the start of school. I was puzzled. When school started that August she brought me this so called student. It was a huge teal colored stuffed gorilla with lots of personality. She & other friends had found him at a garage sale for $.50 and they named him Gregory and gave him to me. I immediately fell in love with him.

He was in my classroom every single day after I received him. No that was a lie--he was absent for about 2 days. He got kidnapped. There was a ransom note on my desk. I had to leave food in order to get him back. I thought about calling the police but was not sure how to describe him. He had so many facial expressions because one could change his eyes in different ways. Anyway, I did as the ransom note asked and he reappeared. Oh yeah, he disappeared one other time only to be found in someone's car in the back seat. He was scolded.

He would hold the "welcome back" sign at the beginning of school. He would hold the "have a great summer" at the end of the year. He was dressed up during spirit week and held a big foam #1 finger. I pulled him in a wagon in the homecoming parade. He made a big hit.

He was on my roster and like I said before he did not miss many days at all. I think about 5 years in a row he had perfect attendance. His seat was on top of the file cabinets and if he was gone from there (sometimes he would be in the child development room) the students would immediately miss him and ask about him. Some days I would see him perched up there looking bored, other days--silly, sometimes looking the other way. His big eyes were changeable and he was able to portray these different expressions.

I loved him. He had a special place in my heart.

When I retired I almost took him with me but decided that he needs to stay in school. He did attend my last after conference get together at a Mexican restaurant where we always went for awhat we called "debriefing"." I have pictures of him at the head of the table with a big Mexican hat on and a margarita in his hand. He was sooo cute.

When I left I gave him an extra pat and told him how much I enjoyed having him. The few times I have gone back I always made it a point to go in and see him. I made the teachers in my department promise not to get rid of him.

Well, the dreaded day has come. Email came from Nancy saying that the fire marshalls came through school with a vegeance and stuffed animals need to go. She asked me what to do with him. I struggled with the decision to take him but remembering my New Year's resolution about simplifying and he is big and where would I put him. But then again--he would look cute riding on the patty wagon with me at times. Decision was made. I emailed Nancy back and told her that it was with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes to find him another home. In my thoughts he will be with someone who will love him and he will have another life with them. I am not going to think the unthinkable about him ending up on a trash pile. Nope--not going there.

So I quietly said goodbye to my friend who only cost $.50, was low maintenance (he had to be Febreezed once in awhile), and brightened up my classroom in more ways than one.

Friday, June 5, 2009

LRAFB Reunion Weekend - May 29-June 1, 2009

Little Rock Air Force Base Reunion took place in Chicago. These were with people that we were stationed with 1965-1967. I am going to try to recap some of the highlights but I know it will not capture the whole picture of the events or situations. Also, it would take too many details to be able to do that.

  • Arrived on Thursday and went right to Jack & Mary's (Pudge's oldest brother & wife.) Had a great visit and of course, Mary put out a big spread of delicious food. Pudge enjoyed whipping his brother's butt 3 times in cribbage
  • Stayed at Quality Inn in Schiller Park. It proved to be a great place--very accommodating, convenient to air port and John's house, nice rooms, decent breakfast and very reasonable.
  • Fran & Jim came from Milwaukee, Diane & Ed & Pat & Frank came from Little Rock, Cappie from New York, Catrotti from Arizona and John from Chicago. Pudge made several trips to airport for pickup.
  • Lots of catching up to do which started immediately.
  • Memories were talked about and so much laughter that my face got numb & sore.
  • Went to a hot dog place where there was no seating. Not because it was full that is just the way the place is. So it was out to the parking lot where I opened the back of the van where some sat and I also spread a blanket on the parking lot and some sat there. Of course, we giggled and laughed while eating our world renowned Chicago hot dogs.
  • In the evening went to the Moose Lodge. John is a member there. He introduced all of us to many friends. This was (what I would describe) a very blue collar, folksy place. Everybody was so friendly and nice. John ordered pizza for everybody that night.
  • Back to sit around the pool and reminisce some more until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Saturday ventured into Chicago via the el. It turned out to be an adventure and it was so much fun to be with people who thought about it that way.
  • Trolley to Navy Pier where we had lunch and took pictures of the skyline.
  • Trolley to Magnificent Mile and we walked quite a bit of it. Diane and I checked out the new American Girl place. Others got ice cream and people watched.
  • Getting late and it was quite a hike back to get shuttle to el. I am used to walking but by this time some of the others were struggling with sore feet, knees, exhaustion, etc.
  • Went to a very nice restaurant for dinner.
  • Back to pool to talk some more. It just so happened that the flight pattern for O'Hare was right over us that night. It was a thrill to have the planes come right over us and they were low. That was fun.
  • Next morning it was breakfast and packing up. Slideshow in Jim & Fran's room from when we got together in Little Rock in 1973, Oh my gosh!! Was that funny!!
  • We said good bye to our friends about 11:30 am. We all agreed that the weekend could not have been any better.

Now as I read over this it doesn't sound like it was all that awesome but, people, I'm here to tell you it was one of the greatest weekends I have had. Like I said in the beginning there would be no way to capture the experiences with words and even if I did it probably would not be funny or amusing to you. It is like the saying goes, "you had to be there." It is one weekend I will never forget.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

This is a test to get pictures on the blog. It was successful but now I am not sure how I did it.
Gloria in Chicago's American Girl in March of 2008.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Alive & Well & Busy

Have not been posting because I do not want to take the time. Too many other things to do. This will be short & sweet because I want to get going. Morning seems to be my best time. I feel like I've got the world by the tail and there is nothing I cannot do. By evening that fades and being weary and tired things do not go as well.

Still dealing with kitchen. Waiting for back splash guy to come and put it in. Finally made a decision after agonizing over it. Brief description of what is going on in the kitchen--composite stone counter top, sink and faucet were installed. Counter top is very simple--off white with a very tiny fleck, granite sink matches very well and it is an under mount which I like, wall paper was stripped (that was a job, let me tell you). I still liked the wall paper that we took off but it was dated. Painted the walls a very cheery yellow which I like. Fresh coat of white paint was applied over the woodwork. Back splash is as follows: white subway tiles, ropey tile which is about the size of a pencil, 2 rows of small cobalt blue squares, ropey tile again (so it kind of frames the blue squares) and then the rest will be the subway tiles. Now if only I could get pictures on this blog I would be able to show the before and after (if it ever gets done.) Now I am into cleaning and scrubbing. Now those of you who have done a project knows that the other parts of the house goes to hell in a hand basket. I do have to mention how well Pudge has been handling most of this--not great, but well. Butted heads a few times--but nothing like it could have been. He has been cooperative and sometimes even pleasant about this. He is busy with other little projects that need to be done. This is not his thing--never has been and never will be. But once again, he has surprised me.

I need to get going. Days go by so fast.

Oh I forgot to mention the curtains which I have bought material and will be making. It will be just a valance and it is what I think is kind of "cutting edge" as they would say on HGTV. They are a bright cherry red paisley. Hope this all looks good when it is all said & done.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Cruise - Port # 3

Cabo San Lucas. There was no harbor for ship to port so we were brought to shore on smaller boats. We decided to do an excursion with the other 2 couples who have become our friends. It was a Sea and Land. After getting to shore we were put into lines and got on smaller boats. We went out for a ways until we came to beautiful rock formations coming from the ocean. It really was awesome. The waves were crashing against these rocks which made it even more incredible. Then we went to shore and boarded buses. First to a glass blowing factory. It was interesting. Got to see them blow glass. Then to a cactus farm. That was OK. Then they took us to a beautiful hotel high in the hills overlooking the ocean. The sight was so beautiful it was almost surreal. Spent some time there. Took pictures of the 6 of us. Boarded bus again and drove about 17 miles to a town for shopping. It was kind of a high buck town. Shops were classy and expensive. The only thing we bought was some tea that the guide talked about and ice cream cones. Then the bus was going to bring us back to the boats to get on ship. We had about an hour before we had to be back so Pudge & I asked to be dropped off in the town. Bill and Nancy also came with us. Nancy wanted to find a certain Tshirt shop that her adult boys requested she bring them. The name of the shop was Cabo Wabo. I had never heard of it but it was really popular. One of the singers from Led Zeppelin's band (I think that was the band) started this shop which also was a bar and a lot was happening. We did not have much time so we found our way to the ocean and found out we could walk to where the boats would pick us up. We had planned to take a taxi. The walk was very pleasant. It was like a boardwalk that wound its way around. Many vendors and interesting people. Had to wait in line for some of the boats to get us back because it was nearing the time everyone had to be back. We enjoyed Cabo but did not have much time there.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Cruise-Port # 2

Mazatlan was our next port. Decided to so the same excursion our new found friends were doing. It was sightseeing, show and shopping. Boarded a bus but we did not get on with our friends. They were on a different bus. Went through back streets and neighborhoods. I liked this part of it. You are really able to see how they live. Yes, there was some seedy and poverty laden neighborhoods but to me this is all part of it. Stopped at a shopping area and there also was a big church that we went into. Found a big huge market and really explored that. It was fascinating. Lots of meat being sold--big huge pigs heads, feet, and what looked like big sheets of fat. Everything was right out in the open--not protected under glass or any covering. Not sure if all of it was even refrigerated. It did appear to be fairly clean but I would have a hard time buying meat for my dinner there. I liked all of this because it is so cultural. I appreciate the way they live. That's not to say I would want to live like that. Toured the big church passing many beggars. Many people do not like this and I do have to say it is sad but as unfortunate as it is I am fascinated. There is a mother begging with the cutest baby. I so wanted to hold the baby and give her $ but I didn't and I am ashamed. Back on the bus to see the cliff divers. Drove along a narrow road with cliffs and the ocean is below us. The place with the cliff divers is swarming with vendors that immediately try to persuade you to buy. I made my way to the wall so I could see the divers. They were not super high but high enough. The thing that I was impressed me abut this was the violent, swirling water with crashing waves. They did have to wait for a time for this pool of water that they dove in to look just right before they went. When they did dive they high tailed it out of that pool like no body's business. I know that was the part that was dangerous. Onto the show. We hooked up with our friends and sat with them. It was definitely a Mexican show with lots of acts. I did enjoy it. After that we went to the shopping area. They push those charm bracelets (remember we got one on the Alaskan cruise) but you have to pay for the charms. I did not buy any. They are chintzy. I did get more of the free bracelets. I think I now have 5. Shops are fun. I bought a beach cover up dress--it was $10.00 and I got it for $6.00. Also bought -- now I hope I can explain this -- it looks like a big scarf with strings but you can wear it as a skirt around your bathing suit, a shirt about 3 different ways, a scarf on your head. The lady showed me how to do all of these things. So I bought 2 of them. I don't think I can remember all that she showed me. I wonder if I will ever use them. It is one of those things where you get caught up and think you really will use it but after I got home I am starting to wonder. Oh well, they were cheap. Bus only allowed us 45 minutes. We decided to stay longer and take taxi back. We found a great hotel on the most gorgeous beach and went to their deck and had drinks. It was incredible to sit there and people watch as well as watching the waves and of course, the vendors. I loved it. The day was gorgeous. Then decided to walk the town. Got off the beaten track and did some exploring. We like this town and its beaches. Back to our favorite spot at the hotel and I bought a mango on a stick. It was so good. The taxis are like golf carts. We hired one and had a great ride back to the ship. We both decided that we like Mazatlan.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cruise-The Ports

With a little encouragement from my cousin I will finish up about the cruise.

1st port - Puerta Vallarta. Pudge did a golfing excursion that the ship offered. I got a van with other people from the boat and went into the town. We had been there in 1995. There were some things that were familiar to me. The boardwalk that goes right along the sea. The shops are across the street. I remembered that there was a big open air market and it was off the main street. I started to wander around knowing that I would find it sooner or later. I came upon a church that I remembered going into when we were there before. There were quite a few people there. I sat down just to take in the serenity and beauty. Of course, I watched the Hispanic people come in, genuflect and bow their head in prayer. There was a man saying the rosary, a lady doing the stations of the cross, another lady nursing her baby while praying. Then all of a sudden the priest and altar boys came out and mass started. It was done in Spanish but everything else was the same. I stayed for the entire mass and enjoyed it very much. Now my mission was to find that market. I did go into a store. It looked small but once inside it went on & on. There were many vendors in there. As you would walk by they would try to entice you into their section. They were pleasant. I find it fascinating and different. Most of the stuff there was very touristy and kitchy and not to my liking. I did buy a small Mexican flag. Of course you have to dicker with them. They wanted $6 and I got it for $3.00. I found the open air market. It was fun to look. I really enjoy the Mexican people. I walked back to the main street by following the boardwalk. It is fascinating to see the vendors with their wares walk the beach and boardwalk. I did buy 2 kites. They look like people parasailing. I hope they work as good here as they did there. I sat and watched sand sculptures being created. The guy was working so hard. He would walk to the sea and carry 2 large buckets of water back to his sculpture time and time again. Also watched fishermen on the shore. They were not using poles. It looked like a ball of string and they would just throw it out and roll it back up. One caught a blow fish and you could see it puff itself up bigger and bigger. It is only 1:00 and I am not meeting Pudge until 4:00. I decided to see if I could find somewhere to get a pedicure. I had one there in 1995 and it was the best I have ever had. I went into a hotel lobby because they sometimes offer that service. I asked and they gave me directions to one. I had no trouble finding it. Went in. It didn't seem too much like our salons. 2 ladies crocheting on the couch. I asked about a pedicure. The older lady bought a plastic dish pan with warm soapy water and put my feet into it. Everything in this place was quaint and primitive. I had an incredible pedicure and only cost $11.00. Did some more walking and people watching. At 5:00 met Pudge after waiting for him for an hour. I was going to give him another 1/2 hour and then go back to ship. Cell phones would only give us some Spanish speaking woman so we were not able to connect. Went back to open air market and then to a cute, quaint Mexican restaurant. It was warm and they had table fans that they directed toward us. I had a margarita and nachos. Pudge had burritos. It was good. About 7 pm we went back to the ship. We were to set sail at 10 pm so we got back in plenty of time.

Will post about the other ports at later date.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Continuance of Cruise

Not sure what happened but previous post got published before it was completed. The only thing I can figure is as my fingers were flying around the key board the curser must have gotten on "publish post" somehow. Oh well I will continue.

Cruise did not start out too well--
  • Not nearly the activites as Royal Carribean
  • Pudge got sea sick the first day--fell asleep in the sun and got burnt to a crisp. He is suffering somewhat.
  • Too many smoking areas that we have to walk through to get to other places.
  • Elevators slow.
  • Nasty, mean, ornery, hateful man at our table. I had a viewpoint he did not like and he was not only rude and inappropriate to me but downright nasty and ugly.

Good things about the cruise--

  • 2 other couples at our table are really fun and great.
  • Sun is shining all the time and it feels good
  • Great people watching
  • Lots of choices of places to get food.

Going to bed. Will post more later.

Part 1 - The Cruise

Today is Saturday, April 25th. It is our last day on the boat. We will be sailing all day and night and be in Long Beach, Calif. tomorrow morning. Our flight home is at 3:00 and we are thinking we will be home about 10 pm.

On Sunday, April 19th we went to cruise terminal and dropped off luggage. Then off to Beverly Hills to check out the many mansions. I had found addresses of some of the stars homes so we put them into Sweetie (our GPS) and found some.l Jennifer Aniston's home is so tightly secure that you could not see anything--high hedges, solid gates, walls, security cameras along the walls and gates so needless to say we did not see too much. Then on to find Doris Day's place. If that truly was her place I was very surprised. It was ugly. Nothing attractive about it at all--it looked like the house was made out of old gray cinder blocks. It was behind a wrought iron gate so I was able to take a picture through the bars. It was so bad that it makes me wonder if that was really her house.

We did a lot of driving around Beverly Hills. The flowers, yards, homes, and mansions were something to see. We found a nice French restaurant and had a wonderful breakfast on their deck. It is so great to be able to eat outside in nice weather. Back to Long Beach to return our rental car. Thank God we did this early enogh because had some issues with traffic(big Gran Prix race was going on) and where to put the car. Grabbed a shuttle bus and got to the terminal. The historic Queen Mary is docked there so we were able to go on and look around. Also had a glass of wine on one of their decks and was able to see fighter planes go over for the opening of the Gran Prix races. It was awesome.

Cruise didn't start out too well--
  • do not like this ship as well as Royal Carribbean. Very much a party ship and geared toward young crowd.
  • can't stand the music by the pools. Too loud, obnoxious and

Saturday, April 18, 2009

LA and Surrounding Area

Got here just fine yesterday and have had a full 2 days of exploring and doing fun things.

Got Rent A Car and took off. There were a few "words" between us at a point in time about directions. I am going to chalk it up as he was hungry and frustrated and leave it at that. I have said the following statement about 10 times and thought it about 30 times--"."I miss Gloria and Jim."

Day is beautiful. Sun is shining so bright and everything looks green and lush.

First stop- Redondo Beach. Liked it. Had lunch sitting on a deck overlooking all kinds of people fishing. The pelicans made us laugh when they were stealing some bait and waiting for fish to be caught so they could steal them.

Driving the Pacific Coast highway. The ocean, hills, houses are awesome. Not sure what to look at. Look like the excorcist with my head spinning trying to take everything in. Stoppped in Malibu at Starbucks for coffee. We are sitting outside on their pretty courtyard in the shawdow of Pepperdine University. I would sure have a hard time attending classes there with the ocean and beaches so near. Love people watching but it is not the same without Gloria to help analyze and critique. We call them and it was great to hear their voices but still wishing they were here with us.

Went about 140 miles north following the ocean. Passed many strawberry fields and the plants are so laden with fruit that it is amazing. Got to the Danish town of Solvang about 6 pm. This town is adorable. It feels very much like Europe. It is nestled in a valley with high, rolling hills surrounding it. Got room at Solvang Inn and Cottages and took off to walk the quaint streets and alleys and check out the shops and restaurants. Much to my dismay most everything was closed. Got to look at the window displays/ There was a wine tasting going on that I got in on. No restaurants that would please Pudge. In the car and on to another neighboring town to find soomething to eat. Liked that town also. Looked like there was a lot there to see also. Did find a restaurant that was really charming and had our dinner. Back to hotel and put our weary bodies to bed. Woke about 4 am with both of us roasting to death. Pudge had cranked the heat per my request because I was so cold. Well it did the trick. We did manage to doze a little until about 5:30. Then we are more than ready to get up. All ready by 7 am. Went across street to bakery that was open and I had a hard roll and jam and of course coffee. Nothing opens till 10 am. Decided to walk the town and look at shops through the windows. We left there about 9:00. I had read about a lavender farm that we found. It wasn't too big of a deal but I enjoyed it.

Back to LA the same way we came. Once again following the ocean. The beaches are incedible. One place we wanted to see again was Santa Barbara. We had been there before and really enjoyed it. Found the Old Town. Parked car and went to a wonderful farmers market. I bought some strawberries that were so sweet and juicy. We spent some time people watching on a bench with our Starbucks coffee. Also, walked some of the Old Town. The day started out cold but warmed up nicely. Stopped in Ventura at an In and Out burger. Love those burgers.

We had a mission to reach Venice Beach and spend time there. It also is a place we have been before and really like it. It is so different. There is a huge boardwalk with vendors and shops and people, people, people. Very interesting people. Some very weird. I could spend all day just watching people. This is such a happenings place. So much going on all over the place. We walked the boardwalk from beginning to end and then to the beach and water where we spent a lot of time. Loved walking through the sand. It is a good workout and the sand feels good on your feet. Ocean was cold and my shorts got wet with some of the large waves that surprised me. I forgot to mention that it took about an hour to find a parking place it was that crowded. We did sit down at an outdoor cafe/bar and I had a glass of wine. The people watching is phenomonal. Left there about 5:30 and checked into our hotel in Long Beach. Drove to the docks where our ship will be tomorrow. Also found where we are to return the rental car. Went to WalMart, grocery store and Taco Bell for dinner. The Grand Prix races are going on in Long Beach so there are lots of people here for that.

We have settled in. ESPN is being watched by Pudge as I write this. This is a short summary of what we have done. Too many details and happenings to list. But be rest assured, dear readers that we are having a great time and enjoying every minute of it.

Tomorrow we board our ship. Probably will not have internet access.

Have to do some research on this computer so I am signing off.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter and Random

Have lots to do but decided to take time to blog a few things.

Easter prep continues. This list is more for my sake than for the readers.
Things that need to still be done:
-set table
-finish filling 12 more eggs
-pick up birthday cards, sign & seal them
-clean Patty Wagon and "spring" it up
-prepare salad, potato dish, and casserole
-run errands (pick up some necessary items)
-try to clean house somewhat. It is hard to do because workmen are still doing their thing.
-boil and dye eggs
-go to Holy Saturday service
-need to find bigger baskets from my basket collection

Things that are already done:
-fun items wrapped and color coded for kids hunt
-have filled 52 eggs
-made little centerpieces for table as well as a big one.
-bought all groceries for Easter dinner
-found the bunny ears

There is more and I will mentally add to the lists. None of this is really hard or a chore for me. I enjoy doing it. Especially now that I have more time and do not feel the pressure of work.

Glad it is supposed to be nice today and tomorrow. People are out and about by the hundreds every where you go. I know it is because we have all been starved for sun & warmth.

Attended a service at Eagle Brook church last night. Picked up Mom & Gemma. Sinead (Gemma's daughter) works there and invited us. I am so glad I went. Sinead had a video done. It was Sinead: My Story. It was incredible. It left me awestruck and emotional. The service was a lot different from the Catholic ones I am used to. There was a band playing (guitars, keyboard and I don't know what else) that was more of a performance than anything. Sinead's fiance plays in that band. It was packed. I did enjoy it but didn't feel anything like church to me.

Work is going on in my house and of course that makes everything chaotic. Nothing seems to be in the right place and the dust is enough to choke a horse. The entryway should be completed by the workmen today but then we will have to paint and possibly replace the molding around doors and floor. But then I just got word that the countertop has arrived and will be delivered Monday. We are still waiting for the sink to come in. They want to install as soon as possible. That means kitchen will be a disaster area.

We are leaving Friday, April 17th for LA and our cruise. I am looking forward to it. Have most of my clothes laying on spare bed ready to be put in suitcase.

Many birthdays this month. We will celebrate and sing Happy Birthday 6 times on Easter Sunday.

Big SWAT team bust in my neighborhood last week. Those of you with facebook know about it. It was scary, exciting and interesting. There were 2 sheriffs cars, 7 unmarked squads, about 9 officers in bullet proof vests with guns drawn, sniffing dog, cars torn apart, house stormed, man in hand cuffs. This went on for about 4 hours. I wanted to go over to see what the matter was but Pudge said no--not with all those guns out. He was probably right. Anyway the next day I noticed several men out in street and it looked like they were just wrapping up loose ends so I went over and asked if we as neighbors should be concerned. He said that the problem was an illegal immigrant. The people in the house just rented it a week ago. It appeared to me it was 3 Hispanic men. Officer said that they were legal and a relative that was illegal came. The "legals" called the police because they do not want to jeopardize their status. Now it seems to me that for what I was told and what they did was a little overkill. I mean really. So in my way of thinking I am sure I am not being told the whole story. Or maybe they thought it was going to be a bigger thing than what it was and they were using all precautions. We will probably never know.

I really have to try to put pictures on this blog. I really don't know what I am doing and I know once I start trying it could mean spending a couple of hours on this computer which I am not willing to do.

OMG!! See it is almost 10:00. I cannot believe how fast time goes.

Workman here and sanding and clouds of dust are penetrating everything.

Happy Easter, everyone!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Funeral

Josh Gunderson age 20 died in Puerta Vallarta while on spring break. He was a hockey standout at Stillwater high school and a student at St. Thomas and also played hockey there.

Many of you probably think the connection that I have with Josh would be through hockey. That is not the case. His paternal grandmother and I have been friends since childhood.

The visitation was Monday, March 30. I have never been to a bigger wake in my life. There were lines of people, cars parked blocks away. The theme (if you can call it that) was hockey. Everybody and then some who had anything to do with Stillwater/St. Thomas/youth hockey was there. Josh was cremated and they had his ashes in his hockey skates.

Funeral was Tuesday morning at St. Michaels church in Stillwater. Once again it was packed with people. During the service every cell in my body was saying, "this is not right--this is so wrong. One does not bury their grandson." My thoughts kept going to Diane. She not only had the pain of losing Josh but she had to watch her son go through the pain of losing his son. This whole thing is unspeakable and it should not be this way. What does one say or do?? Another heart wrenching thought was Diane buried her 21 year old son who was killed in a car accident about 20 years ago and now she has to go through this again.

Didn't get a chance to talk to Diane much. The few words I did have with her she seemed numb and spent (understandably so) After I got home I could not get her off my mind. Late in the afternoon the phone rang and it was her!! We talked for a long time and I felt soooo much better after. I will keep her in my prayers.