Friday, May 24, 2019

Minnesota extends winter

At the May Day Parade
We’ve been in Minnesota since the end of April. We left Texas because it was getting hot. Needless to say we haven’t had that problem around here. I wear my same fleece lined flannel shirt every day. Folks around here are sick of me whining about the weather so I’ll have to write about something else.

We are homeless outside of Texas so my kind brother, Ludwig is providing us with a place

Mother's Day gardening
to live while we go about figuring out what kind of place we want here and where we want to live. We are exploring all of our options. We looked at one place where we could give them all of our money and they would take care of all of our needs including through dementia and death after which our heirs could get a fraction of our original investment. We will continue looking.

Folwell Grade School Concert... Edie center front
In the meantime, we found the Midtown YWCA where we can go work out. We are close to our son’s home so have been able to help them out picking Edie up from school and hanging out with her. That is all good. Two weeks ago, Peggy had to be out of town for a few days so I got to get up early and go get Edie up and to school for 3 days and then get her from her after school program until Greg got home from work. Edie has a lovely princess routine in the morning that includes breakfast in bed, a slow wake up and then getting dressed. We allow 15 minutes for brushing hair and need every minute of it. Finished with a slow walk to school that is 3 blocks away.

After school fun at the Mall of America
Bob, Dick, me, Elaine, Jean and Mark
We took a couple of days and went to Rochester at another brother’s house where we helped him install a new door on his house and painted a room. In exchange he fed us an excellent meal and we got to hang out with his daughter and her children. Last weekend, we went up to Brainerd with brother Dick for a day so that we could be involved in the Pine Tree Cemetery clean-up. It was pouring down rain with snow mixed in and the cemetery looked in pretty good shape. My cousin Jeannette was there, too so we stood around in the rain shivering and catching up on family news for 10 minutes or so and then went to another brother’s house where we checked out the bed. We then went to my sisters’ house where it was warmer and had a cup of tea and caught up on more family news. We all met out at my brother’s restaurant, Wings Airport CafĂ© for dinner with 5 of my brothers and sisters. We did not have a quorum so could not make any family decisions. Not that that made any difference. Even with a quorum, we can’t make decisions.

That pretty much sums up our Minnesota summer so far. Our winter tans are fading and we are beginning to fit right in around here.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Leaving RVing.

March 31, 2019
Today, at Palmdale the temperature is about 50 degrees and it has been raining all day. Ordinarily at this time of year we would be back out on the road beginning to head north like so many of our friends are doing. But not this year yet. The changes that we set out to do a year ago when we left are pretty much complete. Two weeks ago, we moved our motor home over to a consignment dealer in Houston where it will remain until someone buys it. We will not be picking it up again or driving around in it. Today, I read some of my early posts and am feeling sad that this chapter of our lives is over so quickly. But this is what I wanted. We completed the final touches on our screen porch this

week. So our place in Texas is all set for us to return to every fall when the cold weather comes up north.  When we leave here in a few weeks we'll head up to Minneapolis and find temporary housing while we figure out where and what kind of home we will have when there is good weather. I have to remind myself again about why I wanted this. More time to spend with Edie and opportunities for other kinds of travel like overseas, etc. But today I miss the excitement of setting out again in the Slow Lane.

Some of the highlights from this winter include an extended visit from my 2 brothers Ludwig and Dick and a short visit by my brother Mark in February. It was a good time to test out our new guest accommodations and see how that went. We enjoyed some outings with them and Dick discovered the economy of dental work in Mexico.
Port of Brownsville boat tour

Dick cooking
I discovered how much I like being on
"the other side of the island"


Ludwig's shark

Hiking with Mark

What else... Mark preparing enchiladas
 for the block party

Ray showing Cyndi his catch

Next week both of our children are coming here for a holiday with their children. Life can't get any better than that I don't think. We went over to South Padre Island yesterday when it was 85 degrees to walk on the beach. I told Edie that we went to check out the beach to make sure that it was ready for her. She doesn't know yet that all beaches are always ready for her.

It feels to me like this is about the end of this blog. It's definitely time to start a new chapter.... maybe a different blog.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Transitions -- 2018

December 10, 2018 – Palmdale RV Park, Los Fresnos, TX

So, I have been reminded lately that I have a blog and it is not up to date. There are updates to be made for sure. It looks like the last time I posted anything was at the end of August. That was a long time ago and much has changed. As most people know, we have been in Texas since the middle of October busy redesigning our lives again. I’ve been sitting here trying to get my Christmas address list up to date and maybe actually print out labels since I now have the technology to do such a thing easily…. Once I learn how to use Office to make labels. I’m listening to Don and helpful friends work on putting up posts on the screen porch that they are building onto our new mobile home.

We’ve been living here since about October 20.

I will digress for a while and bring you up to date as to how we got to the place we are now. Last time I wrote, we had just returned from Camp Deer and were finishing up the sale of Kelly’s house. 
At the Cake Walk - Fall festival

First day of school

Hand stand

September was supposed to be nice and slow as we wanted to spend time with Edie. We did that. Each Tuesday we drove into the city to pick her up from school and take her to gymnastics class. We had a little time between school and gymnastics to spoil her with Happy Meals and the Mall of America. Those were fine September days. Whenever possible we found an excuse to spend some of the weekend with her family for Papa Murphy’s pizza or a cookout. When we weren’t doing that, we were busy finishing some details on the house.
Back at it's original parking spot

Kelly's House
The motor home did not sell this summer so a week before we sold the house, we went over to Lazy Days in Anoka and picked up the camper to bring back to Texas. The sales manager said that we could leave it in Minnesota and they might sell it in the winter. He said that the batteries might not freeze. That was a easy decision. Besides, we needed a place to stay while we traveled and for the first couple of weeks once we got here. It made moving stuff to Texas so much easier since we could move our clothes and household supplies back into the camper. So we used it for moving. Don pulled the trailer with the motor home and I followed in the car. We took about 10 days to get here stopping for a couple of days in Springfield, Hannibal and Lake of the Ozarks.

September 28 marked the culmination of our summer’s work. It was a little bit frosty when we got up in the morning and sugar maples were turning to yellow and gold around Kelly’s house. Our trailer was loaded with furniture and household goods thanks to brother Ludwig’s help a couple of days earlier. The house was empty as was the garage and shed except for the few items that homebuyers Scott and Jill said they wanted. We threw in that miserable Cub Cadet lawn tractor that we nursed through the summer. We donated a C-clamp and explained to Scott how to use it to keep the gas from leaking back into the engine between starts. We also gave him the name of the small engine guy in Stillwater who had been so helpful. The motor home was parked out front and ready to go. We had spent the night there. All we had was a few items left in the bathroom so that we could take our last shower before we took off. I took a nostalgic walk through the house checking it out to make sure it was as “neat and pristine” as I could make it. We have a lot of wonderful memories in this house, not just from this summer but from the years that Kelly lived here. So my feelings were mixed as we closed and locked the door for the last time. We hooked up the trailer to the car and I lead the way over to Hatfield RV Park in New Richmond where we wanted to empty our tanks and hook up the trailer to the motor home. That took some extra time as Don had to grind off our hitch to get it to fit the motor home.
Fixing the hitch
Once we finished that we moved everything over to Wal Mart on the other end of town where we thought we’d spend the night. We made it back to the closing just before Scott and Jill arrived with their family. Since we were not the sellers, we were left out of the actual transaction and our only reason for being there was to hand over the keys. We also had few minutes to visit with Scott and Jill who had become our friends through the process of buying Kelly’s house. Scott said that he planned to sit on his front porch and enjoy a beer at the end of this day. As a new Wisconsin resident we had introduced him to New Glarus Spotted Cow and left him with a couple of bottles in the refrigerator of his new house. We didn’t stay that night in New Richmond but decided to head down the road on to our next adventure.

9/28 – Tomah, WI at Wal Mart
9/29- 10/1 - Springfield Illinois at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
10/2 – Hannibal, MO, Wal Mart
10/3-4 – Home of Lee and Max Ellmaker at Lake of the Ozarks
10/5 – Marina RV Park, Waco, TX
10/6 – Kyle, TX – Wal Mart
10/7 – Los Fresnos, TX, Palmdale RV Park

We arrived at Palmdale on October 7 and went to work getting this place set up. It was delivered on October 17. Walking out of the park office and seeing our house coming through the gate was exciting. Given all our jokes about “valley time” and manana, I was never certain that things would happen exactly as we were told. But the mobile home pulled into the park 3 days later than planned just as we expected. The movers stopped and got out to figure out how they would get it over to Lot # 25.

This was pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened around here since the last house was brought in. People gathered in their golf carts and on bicycle to watch the undertaking. Slowly and methodically, the movers turned the corner, cutting across the lawn, placing sheets of plywood over cement patios so as not to break them and positioning the house so as to back it and place it behind 2 big palm trees. It was a remarkable undertaking and we had some talented people working for us. Once it was in place, we went out for lunch. When we returned, they already had the house pretty much tied down enough to keep it from being blown away in a hurricane.

Our new kitc
By October 20, we had our plumbing and electricity hooked up so we could sleep here on air mattresses on the floor. Our bed didn’t come until November 7. We are furnished enough so that we can live comfortably now. We brought a few pieces with us, bought some stuff new and some from the neighbors. We are looking for a dining room table at auctions and on Craigs List.  We are using lawn chairs and a fold up camp table for eating. Works well.

Reading to Grandpa

The highlight of our fall was our trip to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving with Kelly, Jason and Jett. We flew out on November 19 for 9 days and stayed in their basement. Each day we would wake up to Jett’s cheerful little voice. She has a lot to say but her grandparents are a little slow in learning her language. Much of the time we spent sitting around the house just watching her and reading whatever book she brought to us from her extensive library of toddler books.

On Thanksgiving we cooked copious amounts of food and Jason’s parents, sister and niece came with even more food so that we had enough to feed at least two more families. This included 7 deserts, almost one per person. Jason and Kelly took us on a tour of one of the many DuPont mansions (Hagley Museum) in the Wilmington area just down I95 from them. Besides that, we ate a lot of leftovers.

Some photos to show that it hasn't all been work and some of the best pictures of our beautiful granddaughters we have received from the kids.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August Days

August 7, 2018
Twin Springs Update
We sold the house. Well, technically it’s not sold yet but we have a contract with a contingency for our buyers to sell their house. We are getting through all the inspections and stuff. It looks like we can remain here until October at which time we will be ready to go back to Texas and get our new mobile home set up for the winter. Things are going pretty much according to plan though we are still waiting for the motor home to sell. I’m sure there’s a buyer somewhere.

The clothes at Costco – August – summer
The other day when we went into Costco to shop for vacation supplies, the displays at the front of the store was of dark colored, long sleeved, cold-weather clothing and back to school wear. It came as kind of a shock since we came in from a blazing hot August afternoon. It kind of knocked me over with the suddenness at which summer comes to an end around here. In another month or so, we could have frost. But we still have a summer vacation planned with our children and grandchildren at a cabin up north and I’m looking forward to some more hot summer days. The place we are going is called Camp Deer. It is an old fishing camp that my Aunt married into 60 years ago or so and my cousins still run the place. We took our children there when they were little and it pleases me that my grandchildren will play there. It is one of the very few places that hasn’t changed much since my childhood. We will use our recently retrieved boat as a trailer to haul up our groceries to Camp Deer and then go fishing on it.

Napping on way to waterpark

Basic full-time attire with keys clipped to
belt loop and zipper pocket for cash and plastic

The Fat Chance Jug Band at Global Market

Siding Ludwig's garage

Peggy and Edie taking it easy at
our fish fry
At the wave pool at the water park

It’s not over just because there is a contract –
So we’ve had inspectors and appraisers walking around the place and checking everything out. Each one brings about a certain amount of stress as they examine the foundation, the well, the septic system and anything else that could be inspected. Of course they have found things, some minor and some not so minor but we will get through this and these buyers will be happy to own this house and to live in this place. One thing we’ve known but didn’t really know it’s value is the fact that the house comes with a free parking permit at the boat launch on the St. Croix River, about a half a mile down the road. We finally had time to get up to Brainerd and retrieve the boat that we gave to my brother and he has stored in his barn for the last 4 years. We outfitted it with my other brother’s motor that works and a new battery and brought it back here. Last week we cleaned it up, put some gas in the tank and took it for a test ride on the river. What a beautiful place and what a treasure for the new home-owners who have a pontoon boat.

We purchased our motor home on August 9, 2014 and on the 10th, we drove it up to the Minnesota Blue Grass and Old Time Music Festival (MBOTMA) where we slept in it for the first time. At that time we knew very little about what we had. Don and my brother pushed buttons and tried a variety of things to get the fan to work and had given up, figuring that was one of the things that needed to be fixed. At that time, I came in and suggested that maybe they could turn on the switch. They did and it worked. There never was much wrong with the motor home. It was and is a superb machine. So each year since then we’ve taken the camper to MBOTMA for 4 or 5 days during the festival. Last year we had finally earned a site in “reserved camping” which had full hook-ups. That was special. This year we just went up for Saturday night and stayed up on Old Wash Machine Hill, a no-generator zone, and stayed in a tent by my brothers. This is where we always stayed in our pre-camper life.

Homeless goal reached - The end of the slow lane
Saturday while we were going to the bluegrass festival, we drove by Shoreview RV (Now Lazy Days) and looked over to see if our motor home was in the place that we left it. It was but we could see that the lid over the engine compartment was up. Don said, “I bet they found a buyer.” Sure enough, about 15 minutes later we got a phone call with an offer. We told the sales manager we’d like to get more if he could get it and he got some so we accepted the offer. Today, we will hand over the title to the motor home and we should get a check in a couple of days. The buyer is coming from North Carolina to get the motor home. Sadly, that is how it ends. Without much fanfare. So this is the end of Life in the Slow Lane. There will likely be a new blog with a different title in the future. Our daughter once described our pre-retirement life as “constant industry”. After this summer I know it won’t be that though the next year promises to be pretty industrious as we put together our mobile home and build on a sun-room (Texas room). We’ll see where life takes us. The next year or two will be a time of transitions.

I wrote too soon. This morning we learned that the buyer came from North Carolina and wasn’t happy about something minor and he turned around and went home canceling the sale. So we are back on the market. Stupid buyer.

August 26

Camp Deer - Effie, MN

Baby Jett
Greg on his paddle board enjoying Deer Lake

Kelly and Jason with Baby Jett
Greg and Edie watching the sunset
More time has passed and we have now returned from our week at Camp Deer. I should probably just go ahead and post this because every day our situation changes and the news I just wrote about is now changed. Greg took many pictures with his new camera and now I have to figure out how to get pictures from Drop Box onto the blog. Nothing is ever easy. We had a wonderful time Up North. The weather cooperated and everyone stayed healthy and we all returned home with no problems. I’m a worrier and that tends to be my criteria for a good vacation. But much more than that. As Edie pointed out on day 2 of our vacation, “There is nothing to do at Camp Deer but fishing and swimming.” So that is what we did in addition to cooking and eating and watching that amazing sunset over Deer Lake. We went for walks. And some went to Big Fork to get more provisions and to go someplace where they could get a phone signal. And during that time Baby Jett slowly warmed up to us so we could hold her and Kelly could get 10 feet away from her without her crying. She also took her first steps. Edie demonstrated her swimming prowess and we played 1-2-3 Bellyflop in the lake. Don and I had “The Big Cabin” which has 4 beds and during the week my brothers and sisters came for a day or 2 here and there. We saw Elaine, Byron, Doug, Ludwig and Bob. Dick had rented a cabin and Ken, Lori, Colleen and her girls Helena and Paige were there for a few days. Elaine’s daughters Aleatha and Allison came up for our first weekend and Aleatha caught a nice bass to take home with her. She has a great husband who kept her 2 toddlers so she could get away for a couple of days. Greg brought his stand-up paddle board which I tried standing on but immediately fell backwards in the water. I intended to try again but never did. It was really more fun just to watch him out floating on top of the water. We did not catch enough fish for a fish fry until the last day when Dick, Ludwig and us were the only ones left.

On day 2, I took my phone up the hill to check to see if we had any phone calls from the RV place. There was none but we did have a text from our home-buyer saying that they sold their house for the second time and wanting to know if we could close on September 6. That disturbed my peace of mind as I thought about what we would need to get done to be out of here by then. But then yesterday when I found a signal we had another message that basically said their buyer canceled the sale and never mind. While it would be good for Kelly to sell sooner rather than later, it was a relief for me to not be homeless quite so soon.

Edie starts school on Monday. Our job for the next few weeks will be to pick her up from school on Tuesdays and get her to gymnastics class on time.

Note: These are not Greg's pictures. His are much better but getting from Drop Box not so easy. I will continue to try.