Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Jett and Andalusia
That's Edie in the back pandemic trick or treating


Embroidery…. In my favorite book, Losing Battles by Eudora Welty, ten-year-old Etoyle is given to “embroidering” whenever she tells a story. She is often reminded by her elders not to embroider and others listening are warned that “Etoyle tends to embroider”. I took up embroidery, literally, last summer when I realized that when I did some hand sewing while watching the news that I remained relatively calm. So I went to JoAnn Fabrics bought some dish towels, iron on transfers, floss and needles and dug out an old embroidery hoop and since then I have done some embroidery. I think I will take a page from Etoyle and do some embroidery in my story telling, too.

I left off my last blog post with our trip up north in the Scamp. We had occasion to do that again in early October when the fall colors were amazing around the Brainerd area. We left the Scamp parked by Mark’s garage

for a few days and went back out on Gilbert Lake a few times to try to lure that Walleye back to our boat. The Walleye was having none of that so we settled on catching a few Bass and Blue Gill. We had lunch with brother Bob at Wings Café at the Brainerd Airport. Mark’s farm was surrounded with beautiful oak trees in oranges, reds and browns. Every roadside in the county was lined with amazing colors. Then we took the Scamp up to Backus where sister Elaine now lives. We stayed a night with her and husband Jerry then took the Scamp back to its birthplace for a few warranty repairs. We were well cared for and I would recommend a Scamp for anyone who wants a small light weight camper.   I would also recommend Elaine and Jerry for a sister and brother-in-law. Jerry has connections and was able to give us a private tour of the Deep Portage Learning Center

Elaine and Jerry's Place

( where we were able to climb to the top of a tower and look out over the amazing colors of Cass County.

We picked up the Scamp and headed back to Marks. Brothers Ludwig and Dick joined us at Marks on our last night there to enjoy some delicious pheasant that Mark cooked up for us. The next day, Dick brought the Scamp back to our house and we brought the boat back to store in the garage for the winter. Dick stayed for a few days and we made some accessories to make the Scamp more functional. Dick took the Scamp back to Rochester for winter storage and to be ready for him to bring to Texas when he can.

Kelly called us while we were up north and invited us to come to Philadelphia for a few days so we made arrangements to fly to Philadelphia. We could not resist going to see Andalusia and Jett (and their parents) when we had the opportunity. Don had not met Andalusia yet and she was 6 months old already. We flew out on October 16. Mostly while we were there, we hung out, played with the children cooked meals and ate. It was a fine visit. One day I made Kelly a batch of granola and Don did a Costco run for her. Another day Kelly took us with the children to Tyler Arboretum (

so we got to walk around and enjoy some beautiful autumn weather again. We got to spend some time with Jason too since he ended up canceling his plans for the weekend. His parents who had visited him a week or so before we were there took advantage of an opportunity for a free Covid test. His father tested positive though he never had symptoms and later had a negative test so we think it was probably a false positive. That didn’t stop it from messing up Jason’s plans for the weekend but we benefited because we were able to spend some time with him. Our return trip was not so enjoyable. We landed in the middle of an 8” snowfall. Our flight had to hang out in the sky for an extra half hour to get the runway cleared and then it took some extra time to get the jet bridge to the plane. We made it and it was worth the memories.

We had a week after that to get ourselves ready to drive to Texas. It was mostly cold and the snow never melted until after we left. Word is that since we left until yesterday the weather in Minnesota has been fabulous. We arrived here on Halloween in time for the Palmdale Halloween Golf Cart Parade.


Now that the election is over and I can breathe a sigh of relief, I can get back to worrying about the little things in my life. For instance, in an attempt to reduce the load of stuff that we take back and forth to Minnesota, I purchased a printer and wireless keyboard/mouse for each of my houses. They are relatively inexpensive. It’s not practical to have 2 laptops. So I packed up my laptop with the USB thingy that goes with my Minnesota keyboard and mouse leaving the Texas thingy in Minnesota. So, I am using the laptop keyboard and that explains a lot of the mistakes I may make.

It appears that our democracy may have survived 4 years of Trump though the future still remains to be seen. Some of my conservative friends on FB are now taking to a social media site called “Parler” which will be friendlier than FB has been during this election cycle. Presumably there will be no fact checking on conspiracy theories and misinformation that took place on FB this year. People can be even more insulated from reality and we can become even more divided as a country. I’m sorry. I was going to write about my little worries.

Staying healthy in South Texas may be easier than staying healthy in the Midwest now that winter is coming on. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, they experienced a big spike in cases back in late summer and the residents seem to have responded appropriately. There is almost universal mask wearing in public places and the numbers are pretty reasonable especially compared to up north. Probably the weather has a lot to do with that. Hopefully that can stay the same with all the Winter Texans arriving from hotspots like North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota ever day

Palmdale will not be the same this year. There will be no Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner. No line dancing, exercise class, card playing, quilters, happy hour, or jam sessions in the hall. We are kind of on our own to form some small pods for social distancing get togethers on our patios and porches. I think golfing will still be possible as are walks on the beach and fishing. We’ll do more of those things. The really important thing to keep in mind is that this will be over some day and we are going to get through it together.

My children and their children are all doing well. Andalusia is becoming mobile and life is changing for the Pennsylvanian Ruff/Schlessman family. Jett is enjoying her home pre-school experience with friend Tegan and doing well. Edie is in 3rd grade doing on-line classes with Minneapolis Public Schools. And we are beginning to plan for a summer vacation. Something to look forward to.

I am trying to make some finishing touches on getting this place decorated. Rugs and curtains and plants.

My new Desert Rose

I am  continuing with my 2 Zoom book groups with some really good people from the Anoka United Methodist Church that I have never seen in person but connected to when I was in Minnesota. One group is starting to read “Incarnation” by Adam Hamilton for the Advent season. The other group finished reading “White Fragility” and are starting on “So you want to talk about race”. There will be a days when I can go the Anoka UMC and meet these fine people in person.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Summer's end

Today I was looking through my apps and was reminded that I have a blog that I have maintained since 2014, the year that I retired. Hard to believe that 6 years have elapsed since then until I notice my knees, hips and thinning hair. Yes, my hair is getting even thinner and I have even looked up ways to slow that down though I haven’t done anything yet except stop blowing it dry. At least then, I have less hair blowing around my bathroom to clean up. It would be so nice if that was the biggest thing to worry about. My hips and knees have served me well allowing me to hike and dance my way through the last 6 years. Now I need to respect them and keep them healthy so I can continue to do those activities though maybe not so intensely. Andalusia, Jett and Edith.... because I always post their pictures.
What to write about. Most of you know the things I worry about so I don’t need to write about any of that stuff. I’m waiting for my absentee ballot to get here from Texas so I can get it in the mail and cast my ballot. I don’t think I need to remind anyone who might be reading this about how important it is to get your vote in and counted this year. Yesterday, Greg and Peggy hosted a very nice socially distant taco bar in their back yard. It was one of those beautiful fall days here in Minnesota with perfect weather and yellow and orange trees in the background. I have been staying at my sister, Kay’s house helping her out after some surgery (nothing really serious and expecting full recovery). So she and I went. Don met us there along with Ludwig, niece Kelsey and Niece-in law Lori who was there getting some of Peggy’s irises. Ludwig brought some chocolate chip cookies and I gave him some curtains for his basement work room that he had asked for. I got to see Edie who is now Edith and spent a little time talking to her. I again questioned our decision to not allow any physical contact. She is only doing distance learning and not in a classroom. Her mother works from home and probably has less contact with the outside world than I do. Her father, however is a mail carrier and until recently the majority of the people who work in his mail sorting room were not wearing masks. What the hell!! It is because of that that they don’t want me to hug my granddaughter. Anger and then sadness. Last week, Jean came down from Duluth where she is living now to stay with Kay while Don and I went “up north” which is a thing you do in Minnesota. We stayed in the Scamp next to Mark’s garage for 3 nights. While we were there, we went fishing 3 times. Once in South Long Lake which is the lake near which I spent my childhood. The next day we went to Black Hoof Lake up by Ironton where we caught a few bass and sunfish which we cleaned and put in the Scamp’s freezer. Then we went to Gilbert Lake in Brainerd where I caught and almost landed a big walleye. I blame my lack of experience at landing a big fish and poor coaching on the part of my fishing guide for this failure. The next day we took the Scamp up to Duluth where we spent the night at the Duluth Boat Basin RV Park.
The last time we were there we were in the motorhome which was noted by the guy that checked us in. We enjoyed a lovely but chilly dinner outside with nieces Pam and Deb at Fitger’s Brewhouse. I highly recommend their fish tacos. The next day we headed up the north shore but not before going to a brake shop where we had a new rotor put on the rear driver’s side. We took our time enjoying the scenery along the lake shore stopping at Great Lake’s Candy for a caramel apple and ice cream bar. We had driven almost to Canada before we found an available RV site at Grand Marais Campground and Marina where we found a perfect spot for the Scamp. We stayed there for 2 nights before heading home.
We took a day trip up to Grand Portage where learned a little history of the fur trade and drove by the border crossing to see absolutely no activity. So then we came back down the shore and enjoyed the fall scenery from that direction, stopping at Lutsen to see a spectacular show of color on the ski hill. One of the highlights this summer was Elaine’s wedding
which took place in the park a couple of blocks from where we lived in Brainerd. She invited 20 of us for prime rib or walleye dinner at Wings Airport Café which may have been the riskiest thing we’ve done this summer. We ate maskless at a table with someone we had never met before from Charlotte, North Carolina. We enjoyed dinner with Jerry’s daughter Toni.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pandemic Living

So, this morning Don asked me, “What do you have on your agenda today?” “Well,” I said, “I have several things that I could do today but nothing seems to be worth the bother.” I rambled on about needing more exercise and getting the valence made for the bedroom window. But I said that I started a list yesterday but lost interest in it and just worked on a crossword puzzle. I might do that again today. But instead, here I am writing and that isn’t on my list. I have to admit that I started the computer with plans to research window darkening shades for the bedroom but this is how that ended. I think that we have finally reached retirement. The workshop is largely finished except for managing the dust and Don is doing the research.


 I returned from 15 days with Kelly and her tots in Philadelphia and am still adapting to peace

Kelly and Jett

and quiet and missing those children. I sure wish they lived closer. It was good to be useful and enjoy almost 4-month old Andalusia and almost 3-year-old Jett. I got to witness Andalusia making her first roll-over and Jett “reading” stories about Andalusia. Not to mention hanging out with my daughter and going on long walks with her. What treasures I have for memories now.

I flew on an airplane. Back in March when I realized I could not safely fly to Philadelphia when Andalusia was born, I thought it would be that way forever. I did some research and came to the conclusion that airports and airlines have made changes to make it mostly safe to fly and that Delta had the best practices so I went with them. Cleaning the plane well, everyone wearing masks, and no one in middle seats. Almost everyone in the airport

was wearing masks. So I flew on a half full plane from nearly empty airports and no lines at security. Not sure how long the airports and airlines can sustain that level of use. When I got off the plane in Minneapolis, Don met me and we went to Peppers and Fries to watch the Minnesota Twins opener. It was almost like the olden days except for sitting on the patio and no crowds and having a masked server but we did have a really good hamburger served to us at our table. When the Twins scored a home run, the few patrons inside the restaurant roared their approval. It was a beautiful warm summer Minnesota night.

At Peppers and Fries

My brother Ludwig was there as we expected and came to sit with us. We could see the game through the front windows of the restaurant. 

Our place in Texas appears to have survived the hurricane intact. At least that is the report from Palmdale. They had a lot of rain and some pretty strong wind gusts but apparently all of the car ports and sheds stayed in place. Hurricane Hanna came in about 60 miles to the north of us so we did not get the brunt of the storm. I am hopeful that if/when we return in the fall, we will find everything on the inside dry and clean. Still a lot of hurricane season to go this year.

Back home in Coon Rapids we plod through the days doing or not doing whatever seems to be most pressing. There is still plenty to do to finish moving in but nothing that can’t be put off longer. While I was gone, we got a new high efficiency furnace and air conditioner installed and a new skylight. All of the 10 units in the Tulip Street Homeowner’s Association got a new skylight because some had started to fail last year. Don finished getting all the storage built for the workshop and unpacked the rest of his boxes of tools and materials. He also brought in a part of his woodpile that had been sitting on our patio for the last couple of months. The remainder of the woodpile is at my brother’s farm up by Brainerd and he has plans for getting that moved into our basement by the end of the summer.

The shop
The wood pile

Before I left, I made enough masks for Greg so that he could get a clean one every day. Now, I’m getting used to the idea that this may be the way of things for the years to come so I plan to make some improvements on masks and possibly add at HEPA filter (cut from vacuum cleaner bags) that can be inserted in a pocket on the mask. That might offer even better protection for the person wearing it. Greg is a mail carrier so he is one of those essential workers that has to go out and expose himself every day. I can’t even touch my own son or his daughter or wife. I was fortunate that when I was at Kelly’s, she agreed that I could hold her baby and play with Jett. I did take a shower and scrub myself good as soon as I arrived there putting my clothes and mask in a garbage bag for a few days before I washed them. I did not take those precautions after I returned home. It didn’t seem to me that the risk was there. Hopefully, that turns out to be the case.

My little sister is getting married this summer and she included us in her very limited guest list. So, she will marry the guy whom she met and fell in love with this year.

Elaine and Jerry

By my calculations, she is not quite 60 years old but of all the people who have found ways to get through this pandemic, I think she has found the best path yet. I look forward to welcoming Jerry into our family. What we need is a new brother.

My brothers and sisters

Don said that while I was gone, a family had a little wedding in their back yard not far from where we live. I started thinking that some of these little, inexpensive weddings and funerals that are taking place, might be more memorable and meaningful than the extravagant events that occur during “normal” times. My brother Jake died in June and we all gathered at the cemetery where my parents are buried to commemorate his life and let him go. It was as meaningful and helpful as any funeral that I’ve been to. I think I’ve written about Jake previously in this blog. The difference for me now is that I don’t have to think about going to see him every year and know that his spirit is free now.


Edith and her Mom- because I have a picture of
Edie in every blog post! This was at the physically
distanced 4th of July picnic.