Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Time to Speak Up

per MSN as of today: "A Quinnipiac University poll out on Tuesday showed that six in 10 women say they would be “embarrassed” of a Trump presidency."

Sorry, but that ought to be 99,999 out of 100,000 of ALL Americans, regardless of gender!
As for the rest, there is no accounting for stupidity.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Back to the Compound

Our 3 weeks at UMOM ended last Thursday afternoon.  Most of the group chose to leave on Friday, but we had such a short commute to Paula and Tom’s place that we went to dinner with the group and departed for Glendale after rush hour was over that same evening.  This is a picture of the whole project group. 

While working at here, we learned about some of the issues affecting the homeless, particularly for the children.  It was a project we’ll remember!

Friday Bob had an appointment with his eye surgeon, who gave his repaired retina a passing grade.  The nitrogen bubble is now gone (after 65 days).  We now have no restrictions on altitude or air pressure.  He will need a new set of glasses soon, and may likely suffer from cataracts in the future.

On Saturday we met up with Paige’s other sister, Pam, and her friend Ron.  They have recently joined the “snowbirds” who escape part of Minnesota’s winters by coming south.  They just bought a house in Goodyear, a southwestern suburb about ½ hour from Paula and Tom’s. They will close on it in January, but have a rental to use through the end of December, so they will join us here for Christmas. 

Our next project is at another community center, back near the Phoenix airport.  It will start in 3 weeks.  We have contacted the director and made an appointment to review the work they would like us to do.  One of the couples who were with us at UMOM will be joining us there, but the other 3 couples will be new-to-us.  In the meantime we can relax and enjoy the holidays.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A “Good” Tired

We’ve had a couple of busy weeks here at the area’s largest homeless shelter near the Phoenix airport.  Our first week here was all Christmas-related: digging their decorations out of storage, setting up trees (about 30 or them) and hanging lights all over the campus, both indoors and outside.  The second week (which just ended) was spent creating a new storage space for the decorations after the holidays and painting doors, stairs, and a hallway in one of the residence buildings.  We finish the day and week tired, but with a feeling of helping in some small way. 

The pastor who serves here gave us a presentation about homelessness.  One fact that really stood out is that the average age of the typical homeless person is just 7 years old!  He also gave a couple of common examples where families, who had been doing OK, found their situations drastically changed when illness or job loss struck.  As the middle class gets smaller, this problem only gets larger.   

The staff here at UMOM works really hard to eliminate the root causes of their clients’ situations.  They help with education, job training, and interviewing skills as needed.  Their success rate is better than average.  We have had a number of encounters with clients; some of them are graduating to their own places.

We have 6 RV’s on this project; a total of 12 individuals.  It’s a large group but we’ve still managed to have several social events.  Aside from attending Sunday church and then lunch, we’ve attended a concert at ASU with multiple choral groups and an orchestra, a choral concert at a church and Friday breakfasts at the cafĂ© on site.  We have never worked with any of these folks before so it’s been great to meet new Nomads.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

We’ve Moved!!

After nearly 7 weeks at Paula and Tom’s place in Glendale, we moved on Saturday to our next project site near Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport.  For the next three weeks, we will be working at UMOM New Day Centers (see http://www.umom.org/ ).  This is the largest shelter for homeless families in this area.  We have come here for meetings in the past but have not worked here yet.

Since the eye problems prevented us for working at the camp in Indiana, this will be our first project in quite some time.  It is also the first time in awhile that we will be working with other new-to-us couples.  Our family of Nomads friends keeps getting larger all the time.  By late afternoon all 6 rigs were parked and we had brief hellos as we got settled.  We will all go to church services, have lunch together, and begin to get to know one another soon. 

The weekend prior to Thanksgiving was spent putting up outside lights at Paula’s.  She “recruited” us to help.  It took us two days!  Here is Bob doing surgery on a broken Santa.

Last weekend was Thanksgiving and our niece, Tomie, was home for the long weekend.  There were 7 of us at Paula’s for the holiday, and enough food for the whole neighborhood.  Some of Tom’s kids and grandkids stopped for a visit later in the day.   

Glendale has a festival in the original downtown area at this time of year which they call “Glendale Glitters”.  Many decorative lights are hung throughout a park near city hall and the park is filled with food and craft tents.  Many dance schools perform there as well, including one that one of Tom’s granddaughters is part of.  One of the activities was an area set up to play in the snow for $2.  Food for thought you Minnesotans!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Week of Ups and Downs

We know that a number of our regular blog readers are involved with medical aid in some respect or another (EMT, First Responders, etc).  For you, what’s your response to a green wristband like this:

Bob has been wearing one for over a month and last week we learned, at an Urgent Care and at a hospital ER, that a lot of medical people were not familiar with this warning.  At the Opthomologist appointment earlier this week we learned that it is intended to warn against air transport, like helicopters and airplanes, and also to restrict some anesthesiology procedures.

The eye exam went well.  The recuperation is very slow, but everything is about on schedule.  The gas bubble in Bob’s eye is slowly getting smaller; to the point now where he is comfortable driving (giving Paige a break).  The bubble sits high in the eyeball, which is low in his line of sight.  Now that it is less than half, he can see distance and TV pretty well, but newspapers and books have to be held high.  He will remain restricted from flying until the bubble is all gone, so we are not planning a return to Minnesota for the holidays.  Maybe in January or February, instead.

Also last week, there was a horrible traffic accident about 2 blocks from here.  Two single-occupant vehicles met nearly head-on.  One driver died at the hospital later, and the other (who is Paula and Tom’s estimator and office manager) was taken into custody and charged with manslaughter due to a high blood alcohol level.  He has been in jail since then and went for arraignment today.  So many lives were changed by one stupid decision!

On a lighter note, Thanksgiving is coming soon and we got busy making the family’s recipe for lefse – about 10 lb of potatoes yielded enough to last through New Year’s. 
We’ll spend Thanksgiving here at the Shaw Compound with Uncle Phil and Elsie.  Tomie will also be home from LA.  We’ll miss the Minnesota family but enjoy being here with Paula and gang.

On Tuesday nights one of our favorite restaurants, Valle Luna, has a special for seniors.  It’s very busy but we like to go then.  Here’s the Shaw Compound folks having dinner there last week.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Never Boring Around Here

We have been taking turns: after Paula was released from one hospital, Bob went into another.  Part of Thursday’s leftover salmon lunch picked the worst possible place to get “stuck” after swallowing – right where his esophagus was weakened after surgery many years ago.  Situations like this have happened once in awhile, but they usually pass within a couple of minutes.  This time, it only got worse.  The Urgent Care we visited didn’t have the equipment to help; they sent us to a local hospital.  We got there early in the evening, and they wanted to wait until Friday morning when the full staff were available for an endoscopy.   Bob was admitted to the Observation Unit.  Not a pleasant way to spend a night. The endoscopy was done early in the morning and we were home by 11 a.m. with Bob feeling much better. 

Meanwhile, Paula was feeling well enough to get some work done at the office, and to go out to the theater with some friends on Friday night, but that might have been a little too much too soon.  She is hurting again on Saturday. 

Bob’s eye is continuing to improve.  He still cannot see totally out of the left eye but sight is almost 50% now.  Due to his hospital visit, we missed the eye doctor checkup on Friday morning.  We now have to wait until the 16th to see the eye doc again for a status check. 

Haven’t heard much about Paige?  She is functioning as the chief nurse, chauffeur, and cook around here.  Thankfully, her health is good currently! 

Not many opportunities to do much around here recently.  However, the weather has improved immensely!  This weekend is sunny and in the 80’s.  Perfect!


Friday, October 30, 2015

Just in Time for Halloween

In our last posting, we mentioned Paula’s surgery.  That was completed a couple of days ago, and her doctors have said that all went well.  She was moved out of ICU to a private room yesterday and guess what she did today:
                                                    Yes! It is shopping time already!

She is almost ready to go back onto solid foods, and everyone is hoping she will be able to keep it down for a change.  Her release day may be Sunday but that’s not a sure thing yet. 

Elsewhere at the Shaw Convalescent Compound, Bob’s eye is continuing to slowly heal.  After the first procedure in Michigan, he had a bubble of nitrogen in his left eye.  It was not so big that he couldn’t share driving with Paige.  After the second procedure, he’s had a much larger bubble there.  It has been so large that he hasn’t been willing to drive, although the doctor says he is legal to  (what a scary thought).  The eye is filling with its normal fluid and the bubble is slowly shrinking.  Lately the edge of the bubble is coming into view, and the effect of one good/one bad eye is quite irritating.  With Halloween coming tomorrow, we decided it was time for Bob’s Pirate Look:
                                                                 Is this scary, or what?

A the rate things are going, he is hoping to be able to see with both eyes at his next checkup late next week, and maybe even help Paige with the driving chores.

The weather here has been beastly hot since we arrived – until today.  The high was only 80 or so – just lovely!  Love it!!  Sounds like the forecast is for highs in the 70’s.           

We had a date night on Wednesday night.  Paula loaned Bob the book “The Martian” and he really enjoyed it.  Tomie worked on the premier of the move with Matt Damon so Paula and Tomie had already gone to the move.  We went to the movie and both enjoyed it a lot.  Bob said it was true to the book although some additional tense moments were left out of the move to save time.  We then went to Panda Express right outside the movie theater and had dinner outside.  Great evening!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Latest

Bob’s invasive second eye procedure was done 9 days ago, and we’ve just come back from his second inspection.  Everything is going along like the doctors expected, which means     s  l o  w     improvement.  Our next appointment is in two weeks for another exam.  We are done with one of the eye drops, and usage of the second is cut in half.  The biggest news is “No More Special Positioning” (keeping the face parallel to the floor 50% of the day), except for not sleeping on my back.  This means I can now get out and do errands, etc., without having to think about making up position time.  I am even legal to drive, but won’t because I am not yet comfortable with the level of impairment.

So, what else is new?  Well, the 100-degree temps are over and done with.  We had 3 to 4 days of quite heavy rain, and even some hail,

 but that is also now done.  Nothing but 80-degree days and 60-degree nights; just great.

Tom has been working in his garage to get a car ready for his daughter Megan to drive in a demolition derby at the AZ State Fair this weekend.  It’s been a lot of work for Tom and Megan but they’ve enjoyed it.  Sure hope she enjoys it and doesn’t get hurt!

Tomie was here for the past weekend, but has now returned to the LA area.  We enjoyed spending time with her and hearing about her job at 20th Century Fox.  Paige had a birthday dinner at a new-to-us sushi place which we all enjoyed!

We have nothing special planned for the next few weeks but Paula does.  She’s having surgery on Tuesday to remove a growth on her liver.  We’ll be helping out around here to keep things going while she’s recuperating.  It’s the Shaw Convalescent Home here!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Eye Status

Our Michigan optometrist provided a referral to another clinic in Peoria AZ, not far from where we are parked at Paula’s.  We got to meet this eye surgeon on Tuesday morning.  He inspected the eye and scheduled surgery for Wednesday afternoon.  It turned out to be late afternoon before we were released. 
Thursday afternoon another Dr at the same clinic inspected the eye and advised us that everything was going well.  Now all that is left is a couple of weeks of recuperation.

So, what is recuperation like?  The Michigan procedure patched a couple of tears in the retina and replaced some fluid with a Nitrogen gas bubble.  The latest procedure was more invasive.  It touched up one repair, found a new area, and replaced more fluid with a larger gas bubble.

Now the metallic cup goes back on for nighttime protection, but comes off during the day.  There are 2 different drops that need to be administered 4 times a day for a week.  At night I have to block up the forehead and chest, but keep the nose and face straight down at all times.  During the day, I have to keep the nose and face down half of the time, like 30 minutes of every hour, but get to straighten up once in awhile.  This will continue for at least a week, maybe more.  My next appointment will be Friday of next week.

While waiting to leave for surgery on Wednesday, Bob noticed some ants in our bathroom.  Within 15 minutes there were ants everywhere.  They even bit Paige’s feet!!  How can so many ants come at once??  We had to take a quick run to a hardware store for Taro.  I was afraid of what we’d find when we returned!!  We set up Taro in many locations and the ants swarmed to some of them.  Bob inspected outside the motorhome and found that the ants seemed to be coming up along the electrical cord.  He sprayed all the tires, jacks, and the electrical cord.  We were gone for about 5 hours.  When we got back from surgery, we found that the Taro and spraying had mostly done away with the ants.  There were a few strays that looked confused but they went away soon.  Phew!!  I’ve never seen such a huge infestation before!

It has been too hot here to do anything more than laying around in air-conditioning and helping Paula a bit.  The past two days have had high temps near 100.  Clouds today should hold the temps to 98 or so, before more seasonable 80’s come for next week.

Tomie, our niece, is coming today for the weekend.  It will be good to see her! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

In Phoenix

We did it: 1900 miles from Kalamazoo to Phoenix in 4-1/2 days. 
We have plenty of time to rest up and get to tomorrow morning’s eye appointment.  Whatever the process will be for the eye, there will be lots of time for recuperation.

Our long drive was mostly uneventful.  We mentioned stopping at a Mission Distribution Center on our first night (in Illinois); the second night was another freebee at a casino in Tulsa; our third night was another free night at a winery in Texas where a wedding was scheduled.  The party was indoors and over by midnight.  After everyone left, we were along on the prairie. 
We had to unlock the gate in order to leave the next morning.  Last night we actually tried to rent a campsite in New Mexico, but the only place in the area was totally booked.  Many people were coming in to find there was no space, and a traffic jam occurred as about 8 of us had to make a U-turn and leave through a narrow driveway as others were pulling in.  Our alternative was to boondock at Walmart, after taking our 13 ft tall rig under a bridge marked 13’-2” (holding our breath).  This morning it appeared there were at least 12 rigs who spent the night with us at Walmart.  So, we spent 4 nights on the road and didn’t spend any money on camping!  Good deal – but we spent a big chunk on diesel fuel!!

We arrived at Paula and Tom’s place early this afternoon and got parked for an extended stay.  It’s darn hot here!!  Almost 100 and it’s going to stay that warm for a few days. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Major Change of Plans

In our prior posting, we weren’t complaining about sitting still, just saying what was happening.  Well, that sure changed! 

On Tuesday, in order to stay busy, we went to the Gilmore Car Museum just outside of Kalamazoo.  It seemed there were a million cars there, everything from early steam-powered horseless carriages, through the classic period (like this Deusenberg)

Cars from the Muscle car era:
Special displays of Lincolns, Cadillacs, Franklins, and Ford Model A’s
Plus hotrods and family cars, all spread out in about a dozen separate buildings.

An entire day could be spent at the Gilmore, but we cut it a little short after only a couple of hours.  Something seemed different regarding Bob’s eye so we made another long drive to Grand Rapids for a “just in case” inspection.  Not much changed as a result, except to increase the head-tilt from 30 degrees to almost 90. 

Wednesday we took some time to do a little shopping and found our favorite donut shop:
On Thursday’s eye inspection, it was found that the torn retina was fixed OK, but there was some additional fluid inside the eye that needs to be “squeegeed” out.  This extra procedure will require an extended recuperation period with lots more restrictions.  It should be done within the coming week, but doesn’t have to be done immediately.

Not wanting to have a long recuperation in Michigan in October, we changed our plans to drop the next scheduled project at a camp in southern Indiana, and to instead push hard for Phoenix: 1900 miles in 5 days.  Thank goodness for sisters!  Paula said we could stay at their place for this recuperation period.  Our Dr in Kalamazoo has given us a referral to another practice in Arizona and has faxed his records there.  We have an appointment next Tuesday.  We left the Dr.s office, returned to the Expo Center, and got ready to hit the road all in record time.

We have heard really good things about the on-going work at Midwest Missions in Chatham Illinois, including the invitation to stop by, when in the area.  Our route took us right through there so we stopped for the night on Thursday.  We got there just in time to be invited to dinner with some of the Nomads currently working there.  After an early start on Friday (our bodies were still in Eastern Time).  We got through St Louis late in the morning.  Here is the Arch:
We had a big driving day and got as far as Tulsa OK.  Paige did about half the driving and experienced her first toll plaza.  Three more days like this should get us to Phoenix in time for Bob’s appointment.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Not Moving for Awhile

In our last posting, we mentioned we were frequently moving.  Has that ever changed!  We got to the Kalamazoo County Expo Center for the Nomads’ Annual Meeting for only 5 days, but have extended that another 6 days, for what will be 11 days in the same park, moving only once to dump our holding tanks.

This Nomads’ meeting was our second, although we’ve been members for 5 years.  As we pulled in, we saw Larry with the parking crew; Dave and Nancy were parked nearby; Everett and Elizabeth were right behind them; after chatting with them we bumped into Kitty, while Tom and Evelyn walked by; and we missed Dave and Sally while we were parking.  The list went on and on.  We said to each other, “We will know lots of people this year.”  When the meetings started, we found there were about 160 Nomads here.  That’s when we said to each other “We don’t yet know that many people.”  We sure made a lot of new friends among those we may someday work with.  What a fun and committed service group!  They make us proud to be members.

During the week, Bob noticed some issues with his left eye and, having a family history of retinal detachments, called an opthamologist who confirmed this condition and got him a referral to an eye surgeon.  Our meetings ended with a catered dinner Thursday evening.  Friday morning we had an hour’s drive to Grand Rapids where the repair of a “retinal detachment with multiple tears” was performed.  When we returned, most of the RVs were gone or about to leave.  A few stayed overnight, but by noon Sunday we were the only rig in the lot.
                                                   Just Us - Where did they all go?

The first inspection after the procedure was positive, but full recuperation will take time.  Bob has another appointment on Thursday morning, and expects to be cleared to drive by then.  We will then have three days to get to southern Indiana to work at a church camp.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Life On-the-Move

Other than 3 nights with our friends, the Almekinders, we have spent only one night at each of our next 4 stops (2 in northern Michigan, and 2 in the south) until tomorrow when we will move (again) to a 2-night “groupon-priced” RV resort.  We have lots of practice getting rolling and getting stopped for the night but it will be nice to stay put for 2 nights. 

Once again, we have met up with our friends, Dave and Nancy Hilmo.  We knew they were leaving Minneapolis on Sunday and getting to Michigan by way of the UP and Mackinaw Bridge to the lower peninsula.  We followed a bit behind them doing the same basic route:
We crossed the bridge on Wednesday morning, but they crossed it on Tuesday.  We both stopped at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the shores of Lake Michigan.  This park has been managed by the National Park Service only since last year.

 For more details about the park, see http://www.nps.gov/slbe/index.htm

We had an opportunity to chat with th Hilmos at the Visitors Center, and at the same time met with another Nomad couple who are also on their way to the Annual Meeting.   

Thursday morning we revised our travel plans and chose to remain along the Lake Michigan shore a little longer.  We found a well-reviewed campground at Little River Casino in Manistee, and arrived there early this afternoon.  The Hilmos had stopped there for lunch and were still in the parking lot so we had another chance to chat.  We are staying overnight and using the pool and fitness center, but they pushed on to boondock at a winery further south of here.  We will see them again next week at the Nomads meeting.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Time has Come…. We are Rolling Again

Cousin Tim and his wife, Pam, came last weekend for a visit and we spent time at the bonfire with Steve and Deanna while watching this beautiful sunset. 
Tuesday, the 15th, we cleaned the dust and cobwebs from the motorhome, and got ready to load it up again.  Paige’s Mom came for one last visit this year.  Wednesday was “moving day” when we moved all the stuff that had migrated out of the motorhome back to where it belongs, including groceries and clothes.  Thursday we cleaned and closed the cabin, sauna, and garage.  Unless Brett comes up for hunting season or for snowmobiling, it won’t be opened again until springtime. 
We left around mid-day for a short trip to Duluth, where we parked at Lakehead Marina near Canal Park.  We stayed for just one night while having a “going away” dinner with Joyce and Steve and Deanna. 

After sanitizing our water system overnight and dumping our gray and black tanks on Friday morning, we left for a weekend stay with our friends, the Almekinders, in Wisconsin.  We haven’t been to their house for 3 years.  So good to spend time with them again!

Saturday was set aside for motorcycling to nearby Tomahawk for Harley’s Fall Color Run. 
Our hosts showed us some great backroads on the way home and provided us a great steak dinner, too.  We will host dinner tomorrow (homemade lasagna and fresh-baked bread).

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September Already

Looking back, it has been a very pleasant summer: certainly not too hot - mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies were not bad at all.  We got plenty of rain when we needed it (mostly at night).  The only drawback was a lot of windy days, both on-shore and off-shore.  Looking ahead, we can see and feel that fall is in the air.  We have already had overnight lows below 40F nearby and jackets are used until mid-morning.  It’s getting much quieter up here as more people are bringing in their boats and closing things up for the winter.

We had one last visit from Brett’s girls.  They stayed about 4 days and we enjoyed it all.  Here they are acting goofy while having a picnic at one of the islands (the Riewe Island, they call it) (can you find the “hidden” grandpa?)
Bob and Brett finished the last of our projects when they completed the insulation under the cabin floor.  Our feet now stay warmer on cold days.  In order to fill some time, we helped the neighbors stain their deck and did some branch cutting at Steve’s.

 We had some beautiful views of the lake over the summer.  Here’s one when there was fog in the morning.

We were lucky to have Mom make many visits up here this summer and even spent some overnight visits.  She also brought a couple of friends from her apartment building for a couple beautiful afternoons up here.

As this post is being created, it is Thursday the 10th.  We had guests this morning when Tom and Carole, from across the point, came over to help pull the swimming raft and the dock out of the lake and parked for the winter on shore. 
We will have more company later this week when Tim and Pam Howe will be here for the weekend.

Our fall and winter schedule is coming together: we will be going back to Arizona and California for most of the winter, and going by way of Michigan and Indiana.  We’re leaving the cabin on Thursday, Sept. 17th.  Nomads’ annual meeting will be in Kalamazoo MI, starting in a little over 2 weeks, then we are scheduled to work on 5 projects (at 3 weeks each) before the end of March.  When April comes, we will wander back to MN doing nothing but sightseeing along the way.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

    (posted Sunday, but written last Friday)
We are back at the cabin after 2 weeks on the road.  The first week (or almost) was the trip to Winnipeg that was mentioned in the prior posting.  After returning from Canada, we parked the motorhome at the cabin, got a night’s sleep, and left for the Twin Cities, stopping for lunch with Joyce in Duluth on Friday, the 14th.  Once we got Valentina home, we headed for our home-away-from-home, Brett’s place in Elk River.  With all of the road repair going on, that 34 mile drive took more than an hour.

The next morning, we stopped at Denny and Dianne’s place on the way to Don and Peggy’s wedding near Pemberton that afternoon.  The wedding turned into quite a family reunion with all of Bob’s siblings, plus a few cousins and an aunt and uncle. 
 A good time was had by all.  Congratulations Don, and welcome to the Riewes Peggy!

Then it was back to Brett’s place the same day.  At this point we’ve put on about 850 miles in 3 days.  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were filled with appointments and meetings (Drs, Dentists, and advisors, plus Ron’s birthday at Pam's place).  We also spectated at a hockey tournament and one hockey practice.  We didn’t keep track of those miles!  Thursday was another 200 miles or so, back to the cabin, so on Friday we didn’t leave the peninsula.  We just had a walk around the point.

Just thinking about it brought the title to this posting.

Summer came when we were in Canada, and it lasted through the weekend.  Then the showers and cooler air came in.  We ran the fireplace yesterday and the baseboard heaters today, so it is beginning to feel like fall already.  Hopefully we will have a couple more summer-like days before we leave in a month.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back from an International Vacation

With two of our major summer projects complete, and a good start on the third, it was time to take a break.  Valentina came from Minneapolis late last Thursday. 
We had a quiet Friday and tornado-threatened Saturday before loading up the motorhome and heading north on Sunday.  We were on our way to Winnipeg’s 46th annual multicultural festival, called Folklorama (not to be confused with their Folk Music Festival).  Paige had been to one about 16 years ago; Bob had not been to one before; and this was Valentina’s first trip to Canada.  With a mid-day start on Sunday we took two days to get to Winnipeg, stopping for the night on the shores of Lake of the Woods at Arnessen’s Rocky Point access.  We had a great site with a wonderful sunset across Buffalo Bay.

We had a quick and easy border crossing Monday morning and stopped at the first of numerous Tim Hortons in Steinbach for mid-morning coffee and donuts.  The festival is a 2 week celebration of ethnic diversity where half of the 43 groups stage their own performances during the first week, and the rest do the same during the second week.  We missed the first week, but visited 4 different pavilions during our stay: the Russians’ and Italians’ on Monday, the Serbs’ on Tuesday, and the Romanians’ on Wednesday. 
All of these were evening presentations, filled with singing and dancing while we sampled their authentic cooking.  During the days, we visited the French district, “the Forks” historic/shopping area, the WAG (Winnipeg Art Gallery) and Winnipeg’s newest tourist attraction, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. 

We certainly saw a lot in our short visit.
Our return to the cabin was a single day of driving on Thursday.  It will be only a short rest, because we have to get Valentina home on Friday, and get to a wedding on Saturday in southern Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Not Sitting Still

We have been busy up here in the Northland: the same week our new carpeting was installed, we also got the pickup back from the body shop (they did a great job).  Then we had overnight company for a couple of nights.  Paige’s former co-workers, KJ and Rob, came to spend some of their hard-earned vacation time here with us.  Later we decided to call this time “training for them as how to live like retired folks”.  During their visit, we took a day trip to Ely.  It is not at the end of the world, just the end of the highways in northern Minnesota.  North of here is canoe country.

After their return to the work-a-day world, we added another labor saving device: a powered door opener on our garage/storage building.  Bob has put in many of these in the past but this was the hardest to complete because of some binding in the tracks that had to be adjusted out.

Last weekend summer finally got here to Makinen.  It was so hot and humid (compared to normal) that we actually turned our A/C in the motorhome on for about an hour one evening.  Paige’s mom came for an overnight visit and stayed two nights to enjoy the hot weather.  The forecast was for continuing humidity into Monday, so we took another road trip, this time along Lake Superior’s north shore to Naniboujou Lodge, near Grand Marais, and Grand Portage National Monument near the Canadian border. 

Both were historical and quite interesting (especially the dessert at the lodge).  For more details see            http://naniboujou.com/     and

The return trip along the shore was cool, where the fog was rolling in, and hot away from the big lake. 

We are planning another touristy trip in early August when we plan to take Valentina to Winnipeg for a few days.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Getting There

Things are happening up here, slowly.  This is being written on Tuesday morning and our new carpeting should be delivered and installed later today.  We have spent weeks slowly cutting out pieces of the old stuff and sanding the subfloor to get it acceptably clean.  Yesterday all furniture was removed and we re-touched some of the early sanding.
It has been quite a bit of work, but should be worth it.

Meanwhile, the auto body shop still has our truck.  They had first tried to repair one of the doors, but later decided to replace it instead.  This means more time will be needed to have the replacement delivered.  We should learn soon when they expect to finish.

While all this has been going on, we have had some visitors.  All of our granddaughters and Dave’s blended family were here for the long 4th of July weekend, with Brett’s girls spending an extra day before going home on the 6th.  While they were here, Olivia and Anna participated in the local Cabin Circle Run/Walk with Anna taking First Place in the Youth Runner category.  Our neighbors took Sophie and Anna water skiing for the first time.  Sophie almost got up and Anna got up and took one spin around the lake. 
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow another attempt over the weekend.  Then there was the epic water balloon flight with our 5 girls and the neighbor’s 25 year old son.  It was a very busy, fun time! 
They haven’t been our only visitors: the Hilmos, our Nomads friends, stopped for a one-day visit late last week, and former co-workers and friends KJ and Rob will be here next week.
When we arrived here with the motorhome back in May, we endured quite a bit of rain.  The last 2 miles were muddy and sandy, so the Journey looked pretty rough for quite awhile.  It took us 2 days to get it looking good again, with the pollen off the top and the mud off the bottom.

Although Brett’s dog, Stella, has returned home, we have kept up our 2-mile walks around the neighborhood.  It’s a good routine to get into!

On Thursday, Paige’s mom has her 86th birthday.  Her sister, Pam (who is retiring August 7th – yippee!), will be in Duluth, so we will be taking Mom out for lunch.  So happy to have these opportunities!

PS (Thursday): Here is the finished flooring:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Plugging Away

Our truck isn’t fixed yet, the body shops have been too busy.  But we have done all that was asked by the insurance company.  We have an appointment for its repair during the week after the 4th of July weekend.

Meanwhile, one of our summer projects for the cabin is complete: the interior wall was rebuilt, re-painted, and three doorways were re-trimmed.  The job looks pretty good for a couple of amateur laborers. 
Our remaining project is more physical and time consuming.  We have bought new carpeting to replace what has been there since sometime in the ‘60’s.  The original carpeting doesn’t look too bad – it doesn’t show dirt or wear, but one seam has been slowing coming apart every time the vacuum cleaner gets a chance to pull up another thread.  The replacement carpet won’t have a seam there, so maybe it will last another 50 years too. 

What is taking our time is pulling up the old stuff.  The carpet, itself, comes out fairly quickly.  It is the glued down foam backing that takes time to scrape off.  This reminds us of a lot of our Nomad project work: we couldn’t do this for a living, but we will volunteer our own labor.  We will continue doing a couple of square yards at a time, since the installers can’t put the replacement carpet down until mid-July.

We haven’t been “all work and no play”, however.  Last weekend, Dave, LeJoy, Valentina, Brayden, and Kaelyn spent the weekend with us.  Brayden and Kaelyn had not been to the cabin before.  They had lots of “firsts” – sauna, paddle boat, golf cart rides, fireworks, and using the outhouse (yuck!).  We all had a great time and they are coming back over the Fourth weekend.
For the past 2+ weeks, we’ve been dog sitting Stella, Brett’s family dog.  Brett and family are enjoying a trip to Italy for 3 weeks.  Stella has adjusted well – enjoying her daily tennis ball retrieving in the lake, the 2 mile walk around the loop, and golf cart rides.  Brett’s family returns on 7/30 and the girls want to come up over the Fourth also so we’ll have Stella here for another week plus a couple days.
The weather is finally warming up and we’re enjoying the outdoors.  So it’s a good combination of work and fun now. 


Friday, June 12, 2015

Oh, Deer!

It has finally happened: Thursday we were attacked by Bambi.  She tried to imitate a linebacker and run us off the road, but she failed.  We stayed on the road and she bounced off the driver’s side.

We lost a mirror, the front fender was pushed in, and both doors are rippled.  Neither of us was injured, but we can’t say the same for the deer. The situation is just one more little “opportunity”.

Other than that incident, we have been busy dog-sitting.  Brett and Jen took the girls on vacation and left Stella, their 3 year old chocolate lab, with us for awhile.  We have had her swimming in the lake and going for walks around the cabin circle.  When Brett was up here last Saturday, he brought his chainsaw to take down a dead tree by our garage.  It went very smoothly and we now have more room to get in and out of the garage.

We have also stayed busy with our remodeling.  The old paneling had been glued to the drywall so both came down and were hauled to the landfill.  We have just finished hanging the new drywall, along with taping and mudding (our own little Nomad project).

The paint was bought earlier today so we will have something to do this weekend – final photos later.

The weather has finally gotten sunny and warm.  We’re sure enjoying that!  On Wednesday, Paige’s mom came up for the day and our friends, the Buerkle’s, took us for a long ride on their pontoon.  It was so relaxing and Joyce really enjoyed seeing other parts of the lake.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Back and Forth

We have been up at the cabin, down to the Twin Cities, and back again to the cabin, all in the last two weeks.  We’ve enjoyed spending time with the granddaughters, family, and friends!

Paige had some dental work done and we had the truck serviced in Duluth before Memorial Day.  Brett and his daughters brought Stella, their Chocolate Lab, up to the cabin for the long weekend.  It was her first visit here and she really enjoyed the lake.  That’s a good thing since we will be caring for her up here while Brett and Jen and girls are vacationing later this month. 

Our summer improvement project has begun, and has already grown.  We had planned to replace the carpeting that has been unraveling for a couple of years.  We have picked the replacement, but the installers are so busy that it will be over a month before we have it.  In the meantime, we started to remove some paneling from an interior wall and found that it had been both nailed and glued to the drywall.  Removing the paneling now means removing the drywall too.

This gives us a chance to change some lighting and move some switches before installing the new drywall.  We hope to have all that done before the new carpet comes. 

Last weekend we brought Paige’s mom down to the Twin Cities for a graduation party, and a get-together with Ty and his family.  It was a great time and we got to see lots of family that we hadn’t seen in a long time. 


Thursday we take the motorhome into Duluth for some work on one of the slides.  Soon after leaving the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa, we developed a nasty noise when bringing the slide in.  Bummer!  Hopefully the fix won’t take much time.

Otherwise, we’ll be working on our projects at the cabin for a few weeks.  Looking forward to Dave, LeJoy and kids coming up later in June.