Friday, December 31, 2010

We are now “In Between”

What a busy week!

Christmas Eve was spent with our sons and a nephew plus their families. Paige’s parents, in Duluth, were not able to travel this year so we traveled there for Christmas day and the following day. David and Valentina came with us. While there we saw the light displays at “Bentleyville”, a display of Christmas lights setup near Duluth’s harbor:

For more information, see

With the Holidays over, the work really began. Monday morning was spent getting the motorhome out of storage. Good thing the Class C closer to the camera and the 5th wheel farther away had no plans to leave anytime soon.

The rest of Monday was moving clothes, books, music, and utensils into the motorhome. These items wouldn’t be bothered by the low temperatures. Since our driveway is not level, the refrigerator/freezer will not yet be started so we will move the foodstuffs later. Next was the piling of stuff: donations here, throw-aways there, and recycling stuff elsewhere. A couple of pieces of furniture had been given to family members recently, some others were sold through Craig’s List, and the buyers came to pick them up. Tuesday we rented a truck for hauling all left-over furniture to Caring Bridge as donations.

It was surprising to see how active Craig’s List has been during this time of year. We would have expected much less with all the other activities taking place. The other big surprise was the activity in the real estate end of things. The house has been on the market for over a year, and I don’t remember the last showing to potential buyers, but there were also a number of showings while we were in the midst of our piling/packing/loading disarray. We were preparing to leave the house under the control of a 3rd party agency that would bring in their furniture, and keep it in show condition. Then we got the biggest surprise of the year: We got an offer for the house on Wednesday! Talk about waiting ‘til the last minute! Depending on weather, we will be on the road in less than a week. David has “power of attorney” so we will stick with our travel plans and let him represent us at closing.

Yesterday we had a celebration dinner with our children/grandchildren. It was a celebration of Paige’s last day of work, the sale of our house, New Year’s Eve Eve, and the start of our new adventure. We gave and received lots of hugs from everyone!

So we are now truly “In Betweens”, not yet Fulltimers but already out of the house.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Something NEW!

It is really easy for an old-time Minnesotan to get jaded with winter stories.
- Been there, done that
- Back in my youth, things were a lot worse (does every oldtimer say this?)
- This isn't as bad as.........whatever / whenever

Well, everyone East of the Rockies has some stories to tell about this year. Not a lot different here in MN: yes, we had a snow event.......not the worst, but made the top 5 ever. And yes, it got cold afterwards; not during the snow fall, and it really wasn't all that cold. We had a brisk breeze, but not a stiff wind. All in all, I don't consider it to have been a real blizzard like some I remember

But still, we got quite a bit of snow, and it is still early in the season. Normally it gets pushed into piles and we wait for Mother Nature to melt it sometime in April. It's not unusual to see front end loaders putting the snow into dump trucks to be hauled away, especially from large parking lots like shopping centers.

Here is something new that I've never seen before. We did some Christmas shopping earlier today, and I just had to watch this operation:

This rig is parked on top of a storm drain.  The front end loader was dumping snow all day long.  The tank on the left hand side is the propane to fuel the burners.  The melted water is going right down the drain (out of maybe a 6 inch pipe).  WOW, maybe now I've seen everything.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sleepless in New Hope

Today was a mixed blessing here in Minnesota.  This was the weekend we targeted for doing our cookie decorating with the granddaughters and we also planned a day of shopping at the Mall of America, rides in the Nickelodeon amusement park, and lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe.  Well, Mother Nature intervened as often happens this time of the year and we postponed our granddaughter weekend for another week when we heard the forecast of a huge snowstorm.

We woke up to snow and it continued all day.  Bob estimated about 12 inches came down over the course of the day.  If was a beautiful day - very Christmas-y - and it gave us the opportunity to stay in and continue our efforts to sort and organize.  We've been working at this for well over a year - with the goal of moving into the motorhome.  Well, I (Paige) have been having trouble sleeping recently with so much to accomplish prior to the start of our full-timing.  Today we were captive in our house so we took advantage of this time to empty closets and organize into keep- and donate-piles.  I'm hoping that this will decrease the number of items to think about so I can sleep better tonight.

There was a pan of lasagna in our freezer that was waiting to be consumed.  As our house has limited seating, we arranged with our good neighbors, the Buehring's, to bring the lasagna and cheese bread to their house for dinner,  After bundling up, the walk to their house seemed longer than normal in the wind and snow.  We enjoyed their great company, festive decorations, good wine, and recently created cookies.  It was a wonderful ending to our snowy day! 

Time seems to be moving faster and faster lately.  Bob's retired now (one long awaited goal), now I'll be retiring - only 9 days of work left.  I'm training 2 people in on my job prior to leaving.  Christmas tasks are looming still.  And, of course, the emptying of the house and move into the motorhome.  Lots to do!!
Our sons got new laptops from us as an early Christmas gift.  These laptops will benefit us also as they'll now be able to Skype with us.  The granddaughters Skyped today - this will be so great when we're on the road.  See what we mean?  Here are 3 of our 4 granddaughters, and their dad, with the photo taken from our Skype session:

So, ok - enough snowstorm now.  We're hoping to get out to church tomorrow - although I see on TV that many churches are cancelling services for tomorrow already.  I just hope we'll be able to get the motorhome out and loaded in 3 weeks!!  Once we are officially "snowbirds", we will know what we are missing!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Process Continues.....

Time seemed to slow down in early November, but Bob’s paper clip “time chain” (see Oct 13 – “Office Humor”) ever so slowly did get shorter. And now it is GONE.

His office hosted an Open House on Wednesday the 17th when about 50-60 customers and co-workers (past and present) showed up to say goodbye. Who knew he had so many friends in the business world?

After that, time really slowed down, but the countdown clock kept on ticking. Wednesday the 24th was Bob’s official last day. As the day before a Holiday weekend, we expected the industrial business to be slow, and it was. We had originally planned to leave town early so as to spend the night before Thanksgiving with Paige’s parents, but the weather turned bad, Bob was delayed, and traffic was horrible, so we called some good friends and went out to dinner instead.

Thanksgiving Day we left early and drove to Paige’s folks place in Duluth (about 160 miles). By the looks of the highway in the daylight we were glad we didn’t drive it last night. We normally play host to many relatives at this time of year, but since her parents can’t travel this year, we were all guests at a cousin’s house.

Friday we returned home to prepare for yet another party: this time it was our own Open House on Saturday evening for friends, family, and neighbors. Here is one of the table decorations:
It turned out to be another fun time with a different group of, again, 50-60 people.

So now the parties are over, the cleanup is done, and Bob’s first Non-Workweek has begun. Until Paige retires at the end of the year it is “Honey Do Time”. The house is nearly empty, but the process will continue down to the closet and nook/cranny level. One set of RV day/night blinds has been re-strung (what a learning experience!) but still has to be re-hung. Final sorting and storing of STUFF will be finished soon. The house is still on the market and we will soon be contracting with a firm to keep it show-ready for the realtors. I hope the time will speed up, back to normal, for the next month.

The countdown clock is still ticking!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Snowfall of the season

We have known that we would still be in Minnesota until after the first snowfall. It just came overnight.
Here is our front lawn (that is a snow-covered "For Sale" sign in the yard):
And here is the back yard:
This will become really annoying after Christmas, but the first snow is pretty to look at.  Here is another (artistic?) closeup:
The Holidays are coming (eventually) but the granddaughters are coming TODAY - all of them.  Grandma Paige wants another group baking session where the girls learn (again) how to make Lefse, just like she learned from her GrandMother. 

That "countdown clock" on the right hand side seems to have slowed down for some reason....We won't be leaving until when??????

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Paige's first post

It's my turn (Paige)!  I haven't done any posts so I'll give it a shot.

This week we emptied the house a bit more.  The 2 desks in the Family Room are gone.  That leaves a couple end tables, lamps, and papers from the desk strewn across an area of the floor.  This weekend will be spent cleaning up the clutter around the house, doing errands, and having another Open House on Sunday. 

One big errand that Bob's been looking forward to is the purchasing of a Droid.  We've determined that this would be a great tool to have as we travel in the motorhome and we need to have another phone anyway as Bob's phone belongs to his company.  I know that once we get that phone, Bob will be focused on learning all the capabilities.

The motorhome is spending time in Big Lake at our friend's son's home.  Brian is doing some carpentry work for us.  We're replacing the oven (why do I need that?) with another cupboard and a cutting board is being replaced with another small drawer.  Storage space is something I need more of.

Bob has 13 days of work left.  There is an Open House scheduled for him on November 17th.  He's been surprised at the response he's received from customers who've called to give him their regards and who have communicated that they will be attending.  After 20 years at the company, he's developed quite a list of customers whom he's helped.

Sounds like it's going to be a beautiful weekend - better get busy now!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The "END" is in Sight

Maybe this title is overboard, so let's cut it back to a "major transition" is now in sight.

This is the first day of a new month and, as the old page came off the calendar, the "end" is right there. Bob will continue working up until the Thanksgiving holiday, then transitioning into a life of leisure :-) over that weekend and not coming back to the "8-5" world; sure won't miss the AM rush-hour nonsense.  Paige will continue working for awhile, but her "End" is on just the next page of the calendar. For the month of December, Bob will be her "gopher" and "going for" all the little things that still need to be done.

It is a combination of birthdays and insurance plans that keep us in Minnesota into the cold season. We got the Meridian out of storage and brought it home for winterizing this past weekend.  There now is antifreeze in all of the plumbing; the batteries are fully charged; there's enough LP to last us awhile when the time comes to run south.  When that time comes, I expect we will need two to three days for travel before flushing the antifreeze out and taking on our own fresh water.

When we first looked into the "Fulltiming" lifestyle, we heard about people selling their house and most of their "Stuff" and leaving within a couple of months.  That must be really hard to do since so much has to be done.  We really didn't want our transition to go as slow as it has, but one bright side is the chance to slowly break the mental bonds that some of our stuff had on us.  We've been selling/donating/giving stuff away for over a year but there is still more to go.  There really is an end in sight.  The "stix and brix" house has been on the market for over a year, with no activity of significance.  Paige has found a service that will keep it occupied and presentable for the Real Estate agents, so we will leave it in their care when we hit the road at the end of the year.

Last week Bob's office sent out an announcement to all customers, telling them of an Open House for a retirement party.  The response has been heartwarming.  Many of these people are much more than customers, they have also become friends.  Also over this weekend we have sent our our own announcements for a similar going away party to family, friends, and neighbors.  All these activities are on the same page of the calendar, reinforcing the view that a lot of "ends" are now in sight.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Have you heard the term "Short-Timer"?  It is for someone who has only a short time left on their commitment to something.  A co-worker had mentioned to me that some shortimers in the military displayed a chain where its length represented their time remaining.  I put together a chain of paper clips and have removed a link each week.
 It has been hanging like this in my office for a month or so, gradually getting shorter.
Last week another co-worker asked about the chain, and I described how each link represented a remaining week.

Here is what I saw when I arrived on Monday morning:
A second chain has been added, which reaches to the floor where boxes of more than 1,000 more paper clips were attached.

Here is a closeup of the note at the top:

Doncha just love some people's idea of a JOKE?????

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time for an Update

Not a lot to report, and no photos for today's notes, but it is well past time to add something.  The house is slowly getting emptier; just enough left to keep us living, eating, and sleeping there.  The dining room table went to a new home on Sunday evening.  Family Room furniture went to David's place about a week and a half ago.

Last weekend was busy:
  • Friday evening we brought the motorhome out of storage.
  • Saturday started with a visit with our realtor; picking up a free pumpkin and dropping our selling price once again.
  • They had scheduled an Open House for later on Saturday, so we hooked up our "dinghy" and left for a baby shower for Katie (a niece) at her parents' place in Prior Lake.
  • then a trip to the Blue Earth Co fairgrounds where we were the only campers on the property. (by the way, major flooding in Southern MN 2 weeks ago left Madelia's city campground closed for the season, and the County fairgrounds open with electric only, no sewer or water.)
  • a pleasant afternoon at Paul's place (a brother) getting up to date on Mom's bills and other local activities.
  • the evening was festive: Bob's 45th High School Reunion
  • Sunday morning we returned home in the morning.
  • followed by a potluck lunch where we first met many of the other volunteers we will be working with in Louisiana in January....a fun-loving and active group of people committed to serving others.
  • late afternoon we raked and bagged the leaves from our front yard only. This is a job we won't miss in the future.
  • We also cleaned the carpeting in the motorhome before taking it back to storage.
All-in-all it was lots of useful activities, and it allowed us to burn up some of the summer fuel, making room for the "winter blend" diesel fuel, which we will need since we will be leaving in January.  I saw a sign or two the winter diesel is starting to show up, but it will be more common in December.  There will be another opportunity to make room for more in the next couple of weeks, so we are not topping up the tank just yet.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A "Big Leagues" day

Sunday the 19th was a special day for us.  We loaded up our bicycles and went to meet David and Valentina at his place in south Minneapolis.  It was just a little over a block until we got to an access to the Midtown Greenway Bike trail, which runs parallel to Lake Street.  We rode west past Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, then turned north onto a commuter bike route that took us right to the new Twins ballpark.  This was a really "green" way of getting downtown, and parking was free!
We had purchased some tickets through a group from our church; some 64 tickets for this group.  We didn't know everyone, but saw a lot of familiar faces there.  We couldn't see the ballplayers faces though, since we were in the upper 3 rows, in the upper deck of left field.

Since we don't often get to any ballparks, here are pictures to prove we were really at Target Field:

First our parking area -

Then, our group in the stands (David, Valentina, and Paige):

Followed by our view of the playing field.

As it happened, it wasn't the Twins' day, as they lost to Oakland, but we came out ahead by biking there, getting to see the new stadium, and earning an ice cream at Sebastion Joe's to make up for all the exercise.

After that "big outing" the rest of our week was somewhat quiet. 

Paige found a website that lists places that have been shown on Food Network's show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives", and we've saved it to our favorites, so we can get to more of them.
We got to the Wienery in Minneapolis last year, and have been going to Gordy's in Cloquet for a long time (it was just shown about a month ago), and two days ago we went to the Modern Cafe in NE Mpls.
We plan to get to more of these interesting places all over the country in the future.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Late Sept ALREADY?

OK we know it's been awhile. 
We do expect to update this blog much more frequently, after we hit the road, than we have lately.

So what have we been up to?  Not a lot. 
We are in the process of replacing the oven in the motorhome with more cabinet space.  On the way back to our motorhome storage spot in August, the back up camera quit working.  So we have had quite an education in customer service - or lack thereof.
The RV dealership had our unit for about a month.  It took them half that time to get the oven out and a new range top put in; the other half of the month they got NOTHING done on the back up camera.  Our biggest issue was their lack of feedback to let us know what was happening.  We told them to quit while they were behind, and get it back to us.  Since then we've had a cabinetmaker (friends's son) review what we'd like done, and we've pulled the camera off for replacement.

September started with Labor Day: a very quiet weekend at the cabin up north.  We had dinner with Paige's cousin and his family, plus we taught them a card game called "Hand and Foot".  After the weekend, we met up with an experienced NOMADs couple, Irv and Dorothy Lecy, who have been volunteering for service projects for over 8 years.  They let us know what we can expect later, and also confirmed that "Hand and Foot" is popular at many projects.

Our schedule is coming together for the next 6 months:
    • Nov: Bob will be working until Thanksgiving
    • Dec: Paige will be woking until Christmas
    • we plan to leave MN about New Years (per the countdown clock to the right)
    • the middle 2 weeks of Jan we will be in LA, then take a week to get to AZ
    • early Feb we will start with Tom' offroad racing in Parker AZ (watching or helping)
    • mid-Feb we will be meeting/visiting with a number of  Snowbirds in AZ
    • late Feb to mid-Mar we will be doing a service project in Glendale AZ
    • later in Mar we will have 3 weeks to ramble across TX
    • most of April will find us on another project in East Tx (between Houston and Dallas)
    • late April and early May it should be warm enough for us to head north - an IA project
    • Most of May will be time off back here in MN for family and friends.
    • sometime in June we plan to head north to sightsee around Alaska, spending time with 2 of Paige's uncles.
   Before this gets too long, I will cut it off and promise to update it again soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Emptying Mom's house

Yesterday all of the Riewe kids (our generation anyway) were at Mom's house for a final "load up".
For the non-Riewes who might read this, Mom passed away last spring and we have been cleaning, emptying, and painting her house for the past couple of months.  She and Dad had this house built for them in 1967, so there were lots of memories uncovered as we packed and loaded.  We are lucky enough to have a buyer, and closing is scheduled for later this week, so this was our last weekend to get together and to gather the last items.

Here is Dad's last John Deere, being loaded for a trip to its new home in Nebraska:

Later, we got the whole group on the front steps, so here are all the siblings:

back row: Denny, Bob and Don
front:  Ruth, Paul and Mary

Paul has his own place nearby, but the rest of us now have no close ties to the old home town, so it was a bittersweet day.  The family has been either in this house or on a couple of nearby farms all of our lives.  Future gathrings will be somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mel's Birthday weekend

Last spring, when we were opening the cabin for the year, Steve and Mel stopped by.  We wished him a Happy Birthday then, but he said to hold off until this summer when more relatives could be here.  Although he passed away about a month later, we went ahead with his birthday party this past weekend.

Happy belated Birthday Uncle Mel.
You would have had a great time.  Your sister, brother, and their spouses were there along with 16 more children, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc.  Twenty people from 4 generations.  Steve had the pontoon loaded; Paige and Bob had the sauna going, and no one went hungry.

Here are some photos:

A good time was had by all.  Now it's back to the Twin Cities to finish cleaning the house for sale, and to get ready for the State Fair.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weekend of work

We are back home, after a full weekend of working at the cabin.  We forgot to take our camera, so there is nothing to show for our work, but we had a new picture window installed last spring, and had to stain the inside trim plus paint the exterior trim. While there, we also mowed the lawn (twice - ask Paige why) and trimmed some more branches to make getting the motorhome in and out a little easier.  Plus the vacuuming and other cleaning we didn't do on our last visit.  Next weekend will be a "Cousins Reunion" for all of the families on the Benson-side, so now it is ready to use.

One of our weekend projects was to begin a listing of what to take, and what needs to be done, before moving into the motorhome permanently.  We might be able to use the motorhome a time or two before winterizing it.  Then hitting the road about New Years or so.  We are scheduled to begin a 2-week service project in Louisiana on January 9, so we should be able to find the time to leave MN between snow storms.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Second posting

Since we are new at this Blogging stuff, there will be a little experimenting going on.

For new readers:
Our "stix & brix" house is For Sale (but no activity recently).
Whether it sells or not, we plan to hit the road about the first of next year, retiring from the 40-hr workweek to do a lot of slowmotion sightseeing, work at a number of service projects, visit with scattered family and friends, and just plain take it easy.

Feel free to track us down whenever you'd like

the Blog has Started!!

Here we are with our first attempt at creating a digital diary for all friends and family to follow along.
Stay Tuned!