Monday, October 28, 2019

April is the best...

Sparky is whole again thanks to Palmdale resident LC Boyer's 

I realized that I skipped the month of April in my blog posts. Here are pictures to show that it really was a special month.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


10/1/2019 - Yesterday we bought a house. Well, more specifically, a town house in Coon Rapids, MN…just north of the twin cities. We are moving in one trailerful at a time. Compared to what we have become used to, this place is spacious and we shouldn’t have any trouble finding a place for all our stuff. We will close out our storage unit over in Wisconsin by the end of this week and that will be that. We will be settled here in Minnesota and there in Texas, depending on the weather. Our next door neighbors here also go to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter. It feels really good to me. Today is Greg’s day off and he is coming over this morning to help with moving some of the heavy stuff.

The woman from whom we bought this house is 92 years old and in a wheel chair. She and her husband bought this place in 1992 when it was brand new. They have 8 children and for the last 27 years enjoyed hosting their large family for holidays and weekends. She is sad to have to give this place up. Her son has been handling the sale and he brought her to the closing. If we are really, really lucky, one of our children will have be there helping us sell this place sometime in our nineties and we will be able to feel sad about that.

This has been the summer of tables. Not only have we built the lovely mesquite table for our Texas room, we found the perfect drop leaf table for the mobile home at Goodwill for $1.99. We are

 refinishing that. Then we found 3 tables for this place. A beautiful formal dining room table for the dining room. A nice wooden table for the kitchen and another big table to put downstairs where we can also host large family gatherings. That included 20 chairs + 4 bar stools. We have places to sit. We still need to get some chairs for our Texas tables but there are more estate sales.

This summer I reached some new milestones. I went to get new glasses in July, but the optometrist thought I might be ready for cataract surgery so I got that done in August and September. Now I am without glasses except for reading. Am still adjusting to that and have not ruled out getting some bifocals just for that. I also finally got that sleep study done that I have put off for too long. I picked up my CPAP on September 6 and have no regrets. Don said that first night I didn’t move much at all and he was concerned. A good night’s sleep is a treasure I will not take for granted again. So now my vision is good, I’m well rested and no longer homeless. Life is good.

In September after the Edge of the Wilderness Jug Band Boogie in Effie, we headed out to Philadelphia to deliver the Pikler Triangle to Jett. There, we spent 5 days immersed in the life of an almost-2-year-old. The Pikler Triangle was a hit among the toddler set. Jett and her friend Tegan seemed to know exactly what to do with it as soon as we set it up, as seen in these pictures. Jason’s folks came to visit while we were there so we got to spend some time with them and get to know them better. One afternoon, after Jett’s nap, we went with Kelly and Jett to pick some apples and enjoy a beautiful September day. It was a good visit. And then, on our way home we made a stop at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. While we were driving through Wisconsin, we got a call from Kelly and she informed us that they are expecting another child in April next year. We are truly blessed.

It is now a month later and I will get this posted before we leave. Yesterday, 10/26/2019, we hosted our first family party in our house. Since we moved in we found some furniture and kitchen supplies so we are pretty comfortable. Ten of my brothers and sisters were here along with several of our children and our children’s children. We had a total of 35 people. Our purpose was to celebrate the centennial of our mother’s birth. We selected menu choices that would have commonly been on our table back in the day. Pot roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and rutabagas, home made dill pickles, an authentic salad (ice berg lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers with a selection of Western, Thousand Island and Blue Cheese dressing), home made bread, no-bake cookies, Gran’s Best Ever raisin cookies, Angel Food Cake with 7-minute frosting, hot milk cake, baked yams and brussel sprouts, apple crisp and probably other things that I can’t remember. We ate most of the food. So you see, we ate well. And we used all of those tables and then some. There was a lot of talk going on and the house heated up. Memories were shared and stories told. I did not get any pictures but hopefully someone else got pictures and I will be able to share them. Much of my time was spent in the logistics of serving all that food in 2 different food lines. But it worked. We have a family of good cooks. That helps so I didn’t do most of the cooking but I did have to find equipment and ingredients to facilitate the food preparation and service. If someone in the family wants to comment, correct or improve on this description I welcome it because you see… I was pretty busy.

Today Greg and Edie came over to help move the Mesquite table and drop-leaf table into the trailer. Edie and I finished up our sewing project that we started last week when she had some days off from school. Then we rested and tomorrow we will begin getting ready to close up this place and head to Texas where it is warm.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Summer break

Here at Camp Deer we are cut off from the world. We get our news slowly and don’t hear about the awful stuff until it is at least 24 hours old. That is good enough. The headlines said that the nation was “stunned”. That does not describe my feelings. “Stunned” implies surprise. I’m definitely not that. I’m more discouraged because it seems that is just how it is. We get the Minneapolis Tribune every day and that is good because of the puzzles, but it comes with the news. I have no Google up here to help me with my puzzles so I have to rely on what I know so puzzles last longer. That is good.

Camp Deer Sunset
So far I’ve read The Kite-Runner by Khaled Hosseini and have started on American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence by Pauline Maier. No slouch there. When I get out of the woods, I’ll go back to reading the normal mysteries and suspense novels that I prefer. This was the best that I could pick from Ludwig’s library before I left. It all came recommended by my brothers who are well read men.

We are taking a week off from our retirement. We would be out catching fish but the boat we brought with us does not idle and we’ve been trying to fix that but have failed so far. Yesterday we drove it around Pickeral Lake at full throttle to see it that would help. (Not to worry, it is a 9 horse so it doesn’t go very fast.) It may have a helped a little so now we have our poles rigged up and when it stops raining we’ll head out and see if we can catch some fish. Our neighbors up here are an extended family who have several boats and routinely go out and catch Northerns and Blue Gill. This morning they took pity on us and brought over some fried Blue Gill they caught before I got up. It was delicious.

Lest you think that our vacation is a dud based on what I’ve written, that is not true. We both agree that just being here with Deer Lake 20 feet in front of our cabin, the sunset, the wind blowing, warm sunshine and nothing on the schedule except eating and sleeping is absolutely fine.

The summer has been busy. My brother Ludwig continues to allow us to stay at his house and we seem to be getting along pretty good. He is even allowing us to use his garage as a woodworking shop where we have 4 projects in the works. One project is finished.. a piece of trim for Greg’s house. Another is just about finished. It is at least out of the garage. That is a mesquite table that we made. Don brought 2 large pieces of mesquite back from Texas that we had put together with a middle section of Illinois walnut and a couple of accent pieces of maple.  Another woodworking project is some wooden boxes for my brother Mark for transporting his vinyl records when he dj’s at a radio station KAXE up in Grand Rapids. In the works but not started yet is a toddler climbing toy called a Pikler Triangle that we will build and then deliver to Philadelphia sometime before October.
The unfinished table

The table being finished
We spent a good part of July learning how to use epoxy to fill holes, sanding and finishing the table. We are working with a local artist, John Perko. Check him out at He is working on get some appropriate legs made of steel for the table. Pictures to be added.
The finished table

Every Tuesday since school got out we have picked Edie up from her summer day camp at a Minneapolis park to her gymnastic class at another Minneapolis Park. We have tried to do some fun things with her while we have her without wearing her out before gymnastics.
Gymnastics finale
Peggy had to be out of town for a week in July so we covered for her mornings and afternoons. I kept Edie home for a day and we set up my sewing machine and made a dress of her design and she learned how to operate a sewing machine.
Getting ready to model the dress

Edie modeling Elsa
I’m looking forward to more days like that.

At the end of June, one of Don’s former customers in Effingham, Illinois had a big anniversary celebration and they invited him to come down for a day of golf, good food and seeing old friends. So I went along and stayed a couple of days in Springfield where I spent some really good time with some of my favorite people in the world.

Our plan was to spend the summer making a decision about where we want to live and what kind of home we want to have in Minnesota near the twin cities. We went to open houses, had a couple of agents working for us and toured some places... condos, houses, town houses, coops, etc. Then one Sunday in July we went to an open house and there was the perfect town home for us in Coon Rapids. It had low HOAs to cover the cost of outside maintenance and snow removal. It had a first floor with everything we need to live for as long as we live including a walk-in shower and main floor laundry. Probably just as important is a large open room in the lower level with a walk out basement so as long as we can walk down stairs, we can entertain. There are already cabinets, a refrigerator and sink there. All we need is to add a range and have a second kitchen. Even more impressive is a large storage room that would hold some wood behind which is a room tucked under the garage that will make a perfect wood shop. Upstairs is a balcony with a good-sized bedroom and bathroom for guests. Coon Rapids is a northern suburb on the way to Brainerd where my brothers and sisters live and a little more than a half hour from Greg’s house if the traffic is good. We are five minutes from the places we like to shop. There is a commuter train that runs to Target field. And the price was right so we made an offer on the house. We finished settling the contract before we came up north. We’ll close on the house September 30 and have a month or so to move our stuff out of storage and get a little settled before we go back to Texas. It makes me happy to know that I have a home in Minnesota.

We will have plenty to do when we go back to the city. But for now I have another book to read and maybe even some fish to catch. It would be nice to actually need our out-of-state fishing licenses though they may be a donation to the Minnesota Department of Conservation.

It is now Sunday evening and we are back at Ludwig’s. He is up at the Blue Grass Festival at El Rancho Manana. We would normally be there, too but because of poor scheduling on my part, we were at Camp Deer instead. We did catch a few Blue Gill and a Crappie so we fried that up and ate it last night. We dropped the boat off to get it fixed on our way back to the Twin Cities. Now, it's back to retirement.

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.