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Dickeyville Grotto

On Sunday Sept. 10th, we went to Dickeyville, WI to the Dickeyville Grotto. We were already in the area on vacation (see my last post). Greg’s mother had been there 70 years ago when her sister went to school at Sinsinawa with the Dominican Sisters for 3 years. It is really something to see! I hadn’t heard of it until I was researching things to do prior to our trip. It was built by Father Mathius Wernerus, the pastor of Holy Ghost Parish, from 1918 to 1931. It features a bunch of concrete structures covered in shells, stones, tiles, wood, glass, gems and geodes donated by people from around the world. It is not just religious, it is patriotic. Besides the shrines to the Blessed Virgin, Christ The King, The Sacred Heart, The Eucharistic Altar, The Holy Ghost Tree and The Crucifixion Group, there are depictions of Columbus, Washington and Lincoln. It is breathtaking and unbelievable. The work and dedication to finish it is unfathomable. The amount of items used to cover the grotto is mind boggling.

There is a gift shop on the premises. Plus a can collecting donations. I had to put in a few bucks to keep it going. Something almost 100 years old and still in such good shape needs to be maintained. There’s also a cemetery bordering the grotto. We all walked through it reading the tombstones. A lot of them are faded. A lot of them are extremely old like from 100 years ago. So many of them are children, only a few years old. There was one mass grave of 4 children that died on the same day (Jan. 17, 1992). I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I figured it had to be a car accident or a murder. My mother-in-law suggested it was a fire. Turns out she was right. There was also a newer grave that had a laser image on the tombstone of a truck pulling a boat and what looks like a family farm. I took so many pictures. Too many pictures. Years ago when Greg and I went on a swamp tour in Louisiana, we saw our first alligators. There were a ton of them off the sides of the boat. Tourists were feeding them marshmallows. This is 1989, before cellphones, and we’re taking picture after picture of alligators eating marshmallows. When we got them back, it was so much of the same thing and the pictures weren’t that good. The water was green and murky (it’s a swamp!!) and the gators blended in and the marshmallows are so small. Now whenever one of us (usually me) takes a ton of pictures of one thing, we say it’s like “alligator pictures”. Guess you had to be there. 😉
The sun was so bright that some of the pictures turned out too dark. I can’t see outside with my iPhone in bright sunlight so kind of have to guess how they’re turning out. From a religious and spiritual perspective, the grotto is awe inspiring. I had a hard time picking which photos to include in this post. None of them really do justice to the beauty. From an artistic perspective, it is glorious! I’m so glad we got to take it all in at our leisure and didn’t rush through it. It is free and all outside. Because it’s in the middle of nowhere, you have to make a point to go there or you’ll never see it. Now I want to make a pilgrimage to the other grottos in the Midwest. Most notably, the Grotto Of The Redemption in West Bend, Iowa.
Around the turn of the last previous century, when immigrants were coming to America in a steady stream, grottos were a somewhat common thing. The immigrants came from a culture where it was normal to promise to build something big if your prayers were answered. The type of commitment needed to undertake such a significant project seems to be missing nowdays. In any case, whether you are religious or not, I hope you can appreciate the artistic vision and all the hard work.
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Vacation Highlights

Overall, we had a lovely time on our last vacation. We left Thurs. Sept. 7th and got back Friday Sept. 15th. We stayed at the Rustic Barn RV Park in Kieler, WI. Located in the SW corner of the state, it is in the middle of nowhere, yet within minutes of Galena, IL and Dubuque, IA. The RV park was expensive but also one of the nicest we’ve stayed in. It is surrounded on all sides by cornfields and cow pastures. We had a fantastic view of the cows and the dogs enjoyed going down by the cows every day. Elvis was a bit afraid of them due to their size but Amber wanted to get close to them and play. They weren’t afraid of the dogs but kept their distance. There was a sign saying that the fence was electrified so we didn’t push it.RV

We had a fire 4 of the 8 nights and sat around the campfire making smores. I bet it’d been 10 years since we’d done that. Mom used to love it but as she got older, she didn’t want to sit around the campfire and we didn’t do it without her. We had a picnic table on a concrete pad right outside of our campsite. We ate at least one meal a day out there, usually lunch. It was like a picnic. I didn’t bring a tablecloth so spread out a large beach towel. The bugs weren’t bad and the weather was ideal! It was in the 70’s every single day and not a drop of rain. 
Of course, when we got home they hadn’t had any rain here either so our garden was mostly dead. We only got 3 more cucumbers for a total of 40 this year. We got a few peppers and all our tomatoes are green and not turning red. I don’t know what that means. Now we’ve had a heat wave for the past week with temperatures hitting 90-95. The past 5 days we’ve broken heat records. Our grass is starting to look dead. So is everyone else’s. We watered the backyard the past 2 nights since there’s still no rain in the forecast. 
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The first day of vacation, both Amber and Elvis ran away. Into the cow pasture when the cows weren’t there. Greg went to get them and after they had a good run, Elvis came back. Amber was having too much fun so Greg went under the electrified fence and laid down in the field and Amber came over. I was afraid we’d never see her again. The thing is Ivy is the big runner and she didn’t get loose. It is truly nerveracking to have them run away plus embarrassing and disheartening. Having a dog that won’t come to you when you call them hurts. But I guess it’s just “dogs being dogs”. 
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We did a lot of fun things that week. We went to 2 casinos in Dubuque, IA: “The Que” and Diamond Jo’s. The Que was terrible and we didn’t even stay longer than a half hour. Diamond Jo’s was a lot of fun. We ate there twice at the buffet—once for free and once for $7. We enjoyed playing there but didn’t win anything to speak of. Our money lasted longer than at The Que though. 
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We went to downtown Galena and split it between 2 mornings. We brought the wheelchair along but Greg’s mother didn’t use it once! It takes up almost the entire back of the truck so we’re not bringing it next time. My mother-in-law walked some and then sat on the benches that they have along the main street. She doesn’t do stairs at all. Galena is a quaint little town that is basically a tourist trap. There are stores but not really to my taste. Only a few antique stores there and I only bought 2 books. Greg’s mother bought a purse at a shop that was going out of business. The prices were kind of ridiculous and I’m too cheap to pay them. I love the name “Galena” though. I think it would be a beautiful name for a girl and then call her “Gal”. 🙂 
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Sat. Sept. 9th, we took a drive up north and the area is really pretty desolate. We drove through Dodgeville and by chance, there was an estate sale auction going on! It was maybe a few hours into it but lots was left. It was mostly commonplace household items. Nothing that got my blood pumping. Greg bid on 2 boxes of books (for $5) which we sorted through and ended up giving his mother half of them. There was nothing earth shattering in there. Mostly oddball cookbooks and kids’ books. Hubby and I used to go to antique auctions every week. This was about 17 years ago. We haven’t gone to any since. The prices started going too high and it just wasn’t fun anymore. The nice thing about this is there wasn’t any buyer’s premium which is usually between 10-20%. We ended up staying about 2 hours standing the whole time. It was held outside with everything loaded in boxes on flatbed trucks. We stayed until hubby got a chance to bid on some antique wagon wheels. They had 2 half wheels that went for $65 each, then 2 giant wheels that went for $25 each. Greg wanted the large ones but didn’t want to pay over $20 each for them. Then the small wheels came up and he got 3 at $15 each. That was a really good deal. He’s already put them in our backyard.
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We also went to Dickeyville Grotto on Sunday, Sept. 10th. I’m writing a separate blog post on it so I won’t go into it here. There are so many pictures and details I want to share about it. It deserves its own blog post.
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Monday Sept. 11th, we were heading to Elizabeth, IL and got into a car accident. It makes you wonder if nothing good can happen on that day?! We were pulling out of a scenic overlook and a dump truck was coming up the hill with his right turn signal on and didn’t turn. Instead he speeded up and hit the rear driver’s side of our Jeep. It spun us around but we didn’t go off the road or get hurt. Greg’s mother was sitting behind me and kept saying how wonderful Greg drove to keep us from getting broadsided. She was very calm which I appreciated. Thankfully, no one was injured but we were a bit shook up. I didn’t realize we were only 3 miles from Elizabeth and said we should go back to the RV for the day. So that day turned out to be a waste. We did make it Elizabeth 2 days later and I found some more books. The windows weren’t even broken which leads me to believe that our 14 year old Jeep fared much better than a newer one would. The new vehicles tend to crumple up when hit and have less weight to them. Greg took the Jeep in to Gerber Collision in Des Plaines, IL on Tues. for an estimate. They quoted $2500 and we’ve got a $250 deductible. Wed. night after work, we dropped Greg’s Jeep off there to be repaired. Since they already had the parts and only had a small amount of body work to do, we hoped to get it back in a day or two. Now they are telling us 2 weeks! If they couldn’t work on it right away, we never would’ve dropped it off. Poor Greg has had to drive my old Pontiac that has NO A/C during this horrible heatwave! He’s got an hour drive to and from work. It sucks so bad. On Friday we went out treasure hunting in my car and almost died. It was too hot so we ended up hitting a few places and coming home. We stayed in all day Saturday as it was too hot!!
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While on vacation, we tried to find other antique shops to go to and even tried Dubuque. That seemed very run down and a lot of the antique shops listed on Yelp were actually seedy pawn shops. We did find one antique shop that seemed decent. It had mostly furniture. Hubby got a display cabinet for drill bits, a pulley and a brass nozzle for a fire hose. The highlight was my mother-in-law finding a chair she had to have! It was a heavy duty walnut chair that had been refinished by the guy who owned the shop. It was built by the Sikes Co. when they moved to PA. It must be 100 years old. She wanted it for $80 but he gave it to her for $100. He said he’s sold them for $200 and up. I looked them up on eBay and they sell for $400. We had a heckuva time fitting it in the truck with the wheelchair in the back. We ended up putting it upside down in the backseat. I had to sit in the  back with it because it poked over into the other side. I’m used to accommodating whatever I need to and she isn’t. Then she used the chair the rest of the week inside the RV. After I sat in it, I wanted one also. Hubby never lets me get furniture. Mostly because we can’t move it ourselves and he doesn’t want to hire someone. 
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Another fun thing we did that week was go to 2 different supper clubs. We went to a fish fry the day after we got there. Then the night before we left, we tried another supper club. We didn’t eat all our meals out though. We ate most of our lunches in and a few suppers. I had made a batch of stuffed peppers and a huge bowl of bean salad before we left. I like bringing food along but everyone has to be on board to eat it. If people want to eat out all the time, I have to be the bad guy and nag them into eating my food so it doesn’t go bad. 
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I’m glad we finally made it to this area but Greg was fairly disillusioned. I think coming from Chicago, things tend to be not as exciting elsewhere. I liked it but I’m not in a hurry to go back. We’ve only got a few weeks until our next trip. Maybe we’ll have more fall like weather by then.
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I’ve Got A Bad Habit

I’ve got a bad habit of writing and not publishing. It’s not because I don’t think it’s good enough. It’s probably not. It’s not because I’m going to tweak it, because I won’t. I have so much to say that I get called away by some task and plan to go back and add to it. And then I never do. Then weeks or months go by, what I have to say is old or no longer timely, so I let it go. This one I wrote on Sunday Sept. 3rd and before I sit down to write a ‘catch up’ of all that transpired on vacation, I’ve got to put this one out there. Sorry for the disappointment of not having a “fresh” post to read.
 

Things are going surprisingly well. I don’t want to jinx it but life is good. We’re getting ready to leave on our 2nd rv trip of the year in a few days. This time we’re heading to the SW corner of Wisconsin. About the only area of WI we haven’t covered. It’s always risky to try someplace new but if it turns out to be fun, it’s well worth it. We are bringing my mother-in-law with us again. She had a wedding on Sat. Sept. 2nd so we delayed our vacation a week so she could go along. She’s so excited and we feel good about including her.

 
Wed. Aug. 16th I rode in with Greg to work. The supervisor of the TSA Canines asked the inspectors if any of their family members would be willing to help out with training the dogs (no pay). Greg volunteered me because he knew I’d enjoy it. I was supposed to be utilized from 8 am until 11:30 am. I had to sign something saying I wouldn’t talk about what was done or how so I’ll leave all the details out. Their other volunteer called in sick so they weren’t able to use me in the way I’d hoped. Greg took half a day of sick leave and after I was finished, we went to the nearby Buick dealership. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been “sort of” in the market for a new SUV. We looked at both the Buick Enclave (3 rows of seats were too big and no one but children could fit in the back row) and the Buick Envision (hubby is 6’ even and he hit his head on the ceiling in the backseat). We wanted to like the Envision so had to look up how it could be towed behind the RV. You have to remove 2 fuses every time and start it every few hours. It’s a huge hassle after how easy the Jeep makes it for towing. So we are back to getting another Jeep eventually. Hubby just rolled over 100,000 miles but it should last awhile yet. Ideally, he would wait and get a new one when he retires.
 
I never thought we’d be those people who obsess about retirement. It’s at least 7 years away but we talk about it almost daily. Hubby can hardly wait and I can’t blame him. I am really looking forward to being able to travel and take long trips cross country again without worry about running out of vacation time. There is a totally different feel to travel when you don’t have to hurry home. If you’re enjoying some place, you stay longer. If you don’t care for some place, you move on. We’ve also been talking a lot about moving. I love it here but our house is small. We have one less person, you’d think we’d need less room, not more. But you’d be wrong. 😉 The town we live in is great but the state of Illinois is an abomination. Our state government is so corrupt and we have such high taxes. The beginning of August, they instituted a tax of a penny an ounce on “sugary drinks”. This is all types of soda and juice, people. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying diet soda, they still tax you. $2.88 tax on a case, $1.44 tax on a 12 pack and 67 cents on a 2 liter bottle. The city of Chicago (which our town borders), also taxes plastic grocery bags and bottled water. Give me a break!! 7 cents a bag and 5 cents a bottle tax on water. Michael Bloomberg has spent over 6 million dollars advertising to ensure that the soda tax went through. He lives in New York so I don’t know why he’s so invested in Chicago. If he had used that money for charity or some real “good” in the world, it would’ve been better. The government officials who are pro-tax, say the tax is for health reasons. To help people make better choices. Then why are they taxing water?! People are going to other counties and across state lines to purchase soda. This is hurting small business owners and even large stores in the area. It is unbelievably short-sighted. People aren’t just going to these other counties to buy soda, they are taking their entire grocery shopping elsewhere. I feel it is incredibly unfair. If it was truly about “the health of children”, McDonalds food and every other fast food place would have an extra tax on top. People are going to eat bad things. We can’t stop them. Kids who used to stop at the store for a soda after school may buy a giant candy bar instead. How is that better?! 
 
 I apologize for getting off on a tangent. Back to looking for a place to live. There’s no end to apps that allow you to house hunt online. Our problem is we can’t decide where we want to live! It looks like we may end up in WI again. I know what type of house I want though. As old as I can find. The ones with dark woodwork, pocket doors, a huge farmhouse kitchen with a pantry. Most of the old houses that haven’t been torn down have been refurbished into generic inside. If they’ve been kept up, then the price tags are anywhere from half a million to 3 million dollars. I can’t pay that. We could never afford anything close to that and even if we could, it seems wrong. To spend that kind of money on a house. I know being in mansion doesn’t make you happier. So then we come full circle and talk about living here forever. It’s not the worst thing in the world but there’s no room for guests. Or a workshop for hubby or a craft room for me. Or a place to store our rv at our residence. I always say “when you don’t know what to do, do nothing”. 
 
Friday Sept. 1st, after literally close to a decade, I got hubby to clean out his bedroom closet. I could have done it but I wanted him involved. He hates doing it and I knew it would put him in a bad mood but we did it. Now the trunk of my car is full of stuff for Goodwill. We have so much more to go through, like my closet and literally half the bedroom. It’s just like eating an elephant—one bite at a time. I have to keep telling myself, “Every little bit helps”. 
 
We’ve found 2 new tv series on Netflix to watch: Reign and Call The Midwife. They are both excellent. Call The Midwife brings me to tears almost every episode. We’ve just been having the best second half of the summer. I would write more but I’ve got a million things to do. So this is where I ended before we left on vacation. I had high hopes of coming back to it but was busy making stuffed peppers and bean salad to bring along on our trip. I need to catch you up on our vacation but it will be in another post. I’ve got to get this out there before it gets lost somewhere in my emails of unpublished posts.

I Have My Own Back

I promised I would write an update to what else has been going on. My mind is too scattered to go into it all but I’ll cover a few things.

My mother-in-law sent me a birthday card and a gift card to Applebees. A few weeks ago she told us she was sending a package and it never came. We told her it didn’t arrive and she gave us tracking. We figured out she left the ‘North’ off our street address. My hubby made 3 trips to the PO in 4 days to find it. Finally it was found laying around the PO after it had been delivered in error to the same ‘South’ address. It was a small lap afghan she had crocheted as a thank you for us taking her on the RV trip. It is very pretty with tans and burgundy that will match nicely in the RV. Our Post Office is terrible. It’s worse than it’s ever been. We’ve only lived here 22 years and yet they have no clue. We have nothing but substitute carriers that end up not delivering the mail until 6:30 at night! I could go on a rant but I’ll spare you.

 

We called my mother-in-law last week after we finally figured out when we’ll be taking our next RV trip. We invited her to go along and she said yes. I asked her if she had any plans that week and she said no. About an hour later she called back to say she had a wedding that weekend so couldn’t come along. Now we have to decide where to go. We were thinking of Black River Falls, WI but maybe Michigan or Indiana. We’ll have to make up our mind soon.

 

Last week I got in a fight with an elderly man while walking the dogs. I was picking up dog shit from Ivy on the boulevard of his home. I was standing on the sidewalk and the guy came outside and was just staring at me with a mean look on his face. I asked him, “What is it?” and he proceeded to yell at me for letting my dogs go to the bathroom in his yard. I told him I had picked up every morsel and he could come and check if he didn’t believe me. He said, “Why should I have to do that?! It’s not my job.” I told him I always carry more than one bag and pick up after my dogs every time. He said, “The dogs pee on the grass and it ruins it.” There was no winning with this guy. I told him that technically, we were on the boulevard which belonged to the city. He then complained about having to take care of it. I told him that I could sympathize with him disliking people letting their dogs leave feces in his yard since I’ve had it happen while I’m walking the dogs. I’ve come home to find a huge steaming pile a foot from my stoop. He said, “If you know what it’s like, you shouldn’t do it.” I told him that he shouldn’t treat everyone the same whether they pick up the dog crap or leave it. I told him he has every right to yell at people who don’t pick up after their pets but that wasn’t me! Then I said, “You don’t remember yelling at me before, do you?” He replied, “No, not you in particular.” I said, “Well, you did! And I’m not about to let you terrorize me again!” Last time he did it, Mom was still alive but I was dealing with a lot caring for her. I remember him coming out and yelling at me and then the rest of my walk i felt terrible and was near tears thinking that the world is against me. Now I’m in a much better place and feel I shouldn’t have to take shit from anybody. I’m a good person and I don’t bother another living soul. I don’t say anything mean to anyone ever. I try to always do what’s right. Then to be attacked by this old guy was too much. I told him that “From now on, we don’t speak to each other and we don’t look at each other!” He said, “That’s fine with me.” So then I walked off on my usual way. I felt a tad bit shook up because I don’t like confrontation. When Greg got home that night, I told him about my encounter. He told me how proud he was of me for standing up for myself and not letting someone treat me badly. I know it’s a hard thing to do and I am proud. Greg has a hard time standing up for himself no matter how much I want him to. He thinks other people’s feelings, thoughts and opinions are more important than his own. My mom is the one who taught me to stand up for myself and I will be forever grateful.

 

It’s a wonderful feeling when someone has your back. When no one else is around, you have to have your own back. That is what I’ve learned and it’s an invaluable lesson.

Today I turn 55. Birthdays are usually a let down but not this year. Maybe it’s because of what I’ve been through this past year, that I had no expectations. Instead of dwelling on only getting a few cards, I am happy to be alive. To be able to move my body around freely of my own volition and let my mind wander wherever it desires. To spend the day alone while hubby is at work would’ve at one time made me sad. Except that is my new reality. I’m home alone while he’s at work 5 days a week. But it’s not a bad thing. I have 3 wonderful dogs as my constant companions. I get to take them on a walk every day and get fresh air and be among nature.

I have no idea where the metamorphosis came from. I have been weaning off of the antidepressant Lexapro (generic) and only have 3 nights left of taking half a pill (5 mg.) and then I’m done. I feel so good about it. It served its purpose but I want to experience life fully without being numbed out. After all these years of disliking myself, I am finally starting to accept myself. I always wanted to be perfect which is impossible to achieve. Now I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect and am ok as I am. Even if I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, I’m fine with it. I’m starting to like myself which I never thought would happen.

Today is 9 months since Mom passed away. When I mentioned this to Greg, he said, “Then she died on the (anniversary of the) day you were conceived.” I told him no, since I was 2 weeks late. Even before I was born, I didn’t want to leave my mother. If I could have one wish today, it would be to have her with me. I’m not sad though because I still remember her being here and all we shared. Even though Greg saw us together for almost 31 1/2 years, I don’t think even he knows the extent of the bond I had with my mother. We had so many “inside jokes” and sayings only we said to each other. I think I’ve mentioned it before. We used to both say, “You’ve got so many nice things” and the other person would answer, “I’ve got you!” It always put a smile on our faces and made us feel loved. I’ve told Greg about this and he’s heard us say it. Yet sometimes I say that to him and he just says, “Yes, I do.” For the life of him, he won’t answer as she used to. Mom also used to call me Kitty which I miss terribly. She hadn’t called me that for a few years when she died but she’d called me that most of my life. Greg used to call me that occasionally when he’d hear Mom call me that. Now he won’t call me that at all. I’m not complaining, just missing the connection Mom and I had that no one on earth can replicate.

I had mentioned wanting to go to a Hawaiian themed restaurant since I’ve never been. It does look pretty corny though. Hubby would rather go to the casino buffet so that is where we’re going tonight to celebrate. Mondays are 25% off too. I’m sure I’ll find something good to eat. I’ve been working hard on losing weight, even starting using the exercise bike on the days he’s at work. I started at 10 minutes and I’m up to 21 minutes a day. Hubby brought home a strawberry coffee cake from the bakery at work plus some brownies for me. The thought was nice but I have to watch it and only have 1 piece a day and not go hog wild. I don’t want to undo all my good work. I had wanted to do some baking which I sorely miss. But now that he’s bought the baked goods, I have no need. I don’t think he realizes how much joy I get out of baking.

Gardening was one of my mom’s passions. That and sewing. She could grow any type of plant and spent a ton of time weeding for me. Up until she was 88 years old, she worked in the yard every day. I think it’s what kept her young. She babied me and spoiled me and I never had to weed while she was around because she kept everything neat as a pin. Now I’m taking to weeding with a new relish. I think of her every time I do it and it brings me joy. Instead of thinking of it as work, I think of it as something that makes me feel close to her.

I’ve mentioned before we don’t do cards or presents. Especially since we get presents anytime we want when out treasure hunting at estate sales. Friday Aug. 4th we had our whole day mapped out. Sometimes we start near us and go farther out as the day goes on. This time, we started far out in Hoffman Estates, IL. We went tot he first sale and got there a little early. While waiting, a closer parking spot came up and Greg went to start the Jeep and nothing. The same electrical problem that’s been plaguing it on and off for a few years was back. This time it wouldn’t start at all and the gages were flying around. The back window went down on its own and the doors wouldn’t lock. We went into the sale, bought a few things, came out and tried starting it again. No luck. So we called AAA and had it towed to a dealership a mile away in Schaumburg, IL. We’d never been to Ziegler Chryster Dodge Jeep before. They said they didn’t think they could fix it for a few days. They wouldn’t give us a ride home since it was more than 5 miles away. I offered to give them $20 to take us home. They wouldn’t give us a loaner, it would be $35 a day. Then the guy writing up our order said, “Why don’t you call an Uber?” I told him that to me that’s like hitchhiking. I just never wanted to do it. It’s like meeting someone on Craiglist. I don’t want to be murdered, robbed or raped. We told him we wanted to see a salesman while there to see about a new car. He set us up with a guy that was a terrible salesman. Greg test drove a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland. I call it The Overlord because it just suits it better. It has literally everything you could want and don’t need in a vehicle. It’s so fancy and pretty and expensive. He told us list price was $48,000 and after incentives it would be $46,000. Online they list incentives bringing it down to $40,000 and lower with trade in. I know we’d never buy from that dealership in any case.

Since we had to get home somehow, I downloaded the app and signed up for Uber. I expected a young kid to pick us up but it was an older retired guy. It was $25+ and went fine. The worst part was we had to take everything we’d boughten out of our Jeep since they couldn’t lock the vehicle. It was also raining and we got them to put a piece of plastic over the half open window in the backseat. We got home and were both anxious and upset and we ended up arguing over stupid stuff. The day was basically ruined. We heard back from the dealership that is was fixed at 5 pm but they wanted to let it sit for an hour and a half to check it again and make sure it worked. It cost $381 which is worth it if it truly is fixed. We went at 7 pm to pick it up, I drove Greg over in my car and then followed him home again. We had to wait while they gave it a free car wash which they could’ve done before we got there.

Sat. we surpassed our record and hit 10 estate sales in a single day. It sounds better than it is. It wasn’t that much fun because the sales weren’t good ones. The first 6, we spent a total of $1.50! 50 cents for a washcloth at one and $1 for a masonic bible at another. It was discouraging. Then we hit one that had silverware for Greg to use making jewelry and wind chimes. Plus I found a few books and ephemera. It’s actually more fun going to only 2 or 3 awesome sales that are “digs” than it is to go to a bunch of mediocre ones that don’t have much. For my birthday, I want to go to the flea market in Elkhorn, WI next Sunday. It’s only held 4 times a year, I think. We’ve never gone because it is a distance and Greg works on Sundays. I just want to go once to see what it’s like.

2 weeks ago, my car got a nail in the passenger side rear tire. Greg drives it to work on Sundays and he must’ve picked it up then. We took it to our local mechanic and he kept it overnight and then we picked it up the next day. It was $20 cash and I was happy to pay it and have it over with.

I will try to catch you up on everything in my next post. Thank you for being there and following me through the years. God bless!

Since I last wrote, I am happy to report that I’ve started to heal from the loss of my mom. 3 weeks from today will be 9 months since she passed away. I can say with some confidence that will be all the time I need to fully accept her death and no longer have the empty feeling I had right after it happened. It takes 9 months to grow a baby and bring a new life to fruition. Logically, 9 months should be enough time to come to terms with the death of a loved one. Of course, it’s not as cut and dried as that. I will still miss her and think of her every day. I may even still occasionally have a bad day. But now I think I can go on without feeling so alone. Everything she taught me and all the time we spent together prepared me for this eventuality. Looking back, I really expected too much of myself to be over the grief in only a month or two. That was totally unrealistic. I wouldn’t expect someone else who went through this to be over it so soon. Yet I’ve always set high standards for myself which are impossible to meet.
April 27th, I had finally succumbed to the idea that I needed an antidepressant to survive the pain. As I’ve documented in my last post, it made me a ghost of my former self. Unable to reach any depth of emotion (happy or sad) and basically numbed out. It masks feelings which creates a zombie like existence. I’m sure different people react differently to different meds. I can only speak to how they affected me. I had made my mind up that I would slowly wean myself off the Lexapro and told the doctor when I saw him on July 6th. I had read up online and just like you have to slowly up the dose when you start them, you have to slowly decrease the dose. I came up with my own game plan and informed the doctor I’d be taking 2 weeks of 15 mg (1 1/2 pills), then 2 weeks of 10 mg. I’m seeing him again on July 27th so we’ll see if I need to go down to 5 mg for a few days before quitting all together. I read about all kinds of bad reactions people got from stopping. I haven’t felt any of those. He had me start taking them a few hours before bedtime instead of in the morning which works better for me. I am excited to be off them and see if anything carries over from my time on them. 


I don’t regret trying Lexapro (generic). I think it served its purpose. I could never see being on it long term though. One thing I learned to do while taking it is relax. I was always a person on the go and never sat still for long. I mean, I can sit and watch movies or tv but during the day I would be into one thing or the other at all times. I never liked wasting time and felt I should be doing something. This tended to make me a nervous person who would worry if things didn’t get done. On Lexapro, I’ve been able to sit and do nothing. I don’t exactly like the zombie feeling but I am calmer. I’m hoping that I’ve learned how to relax and know that things will wait for me. I don’t have to stress. 


Another reason I think I’m healing from the grief is that the last month or so I’ve been able to enjoy things again. My hubby and I have been having so many great weekends. We’ve been doing our usual treasure hunting for vintage and finding a lot of cool things. A few weeks ago we went to a tack sale just over the border into WI. We saw a sign as we were driving and pulled over. It was a horse farm and the woman running it was selling bridles, saddles and any and all horse equipment. A lot of it was new. We have no need of this but didn’t know if she’d have other things for sale. She had 2 paintings I loved but neither were for sale. My husband I call “Chatty Cathy” because he can get to talking to a stranger and goes on forever. Long past when I’m ready to leave. It all depends on his mood. That day he was talking to the woman while I walked around. She said she had baby horses (3 weeks old) and he asked if we could see them. So she took us out back. She had about 21 horses and 3 were babies. We were standing by the fence and they were talking. One of the white arabian horses came up to me. I asked if I could pet him. She said yes so I spent at least 20 minutes (maybe longer) loving on a horse! Trigger was his name. He had thrown his owner off 2 years ago and she’d had shoulder surgery that had finally healed. He took a shine to me and I couldn’t get enough of him. I was waiting for hubby to stop talking & he was waiting for me to be done petting the horse. We were at a deadlock. I got such joy out of it and the experience stuck with me ever since. I would love to have horses but they are expensive and a lot of work. We’d have to have land or a place to board them. You really can’t go away on vacation with horses unless you have someone to care for them while you’re gone. Then I started looking up places to volunteer online and they’re all over an hour away.

We’ve also been eating out a bit on the weekends. We aren’t used to eating out since last year I ate out about 4 times. We tried going out a few times earlier this year and it just felt strange. Not having mom along felt wrong. Now I know I’m healing because I can go out to lunch with my husband and say, “Mom would’ve loved this!” but not get sad. I can enjoy the whole experience. Sitting across from my hubby and sharing conversation, atmosphere and good food. It’s like we’re courting again! 😉 We found a pizza place called Paisan’s in Cicero which was just a delight. We hadn’t had pizza in 6 months and even after eating it, hubby’s blood sugar readings were normal. We also had a wonderful meal at Grand Duke’s in Summit, IL. Both of these places are on the south side of Chicago. Hubby had eaten at Grand Duke’s once before about 13 years ago and hadn’t quit bragging about it. We just so happened to be at an estate sale not far from there this past weekend and hubby suggested it again. It has the atmosphere of an old supper club in Northern WI. All dark wood inside. They specialize in Lithuanian, Polish and Bavarian food. I’m always up for trying something new. Hubby ordered us 2 Lithuanian combo platters. I have no idea what all of it was: kugelis, zeppelin, potato sausage and sausage with sauerkraut. It was mouth-watering. It was the type of food you just savor and marvel at the skill involved in making it as well as the flavor profile. It was nice to have a really memorable meal. I ended up with leftovers that I brought home and had the next day.


I’ve also been able to really enjoy our evenings again. For the longest time it was hard to watch tv without Mom. She always watched whatever we watched, sometimes falling asleep if it didn’t interest her. What we’ve been watching recently on Netflix I’ve enjoyed immensely. Netflix is the bomb! First we watched Switched At Birth and then The Fosters. Most recently The Crown. Now we’ve got to find a new series to watch. 


I hope everyone is having a good summer. I can’t believe the year is more than half over. I feel like I missed it while grieving. I guess I did. Healing just takes time and we forget that time heals all wounds. It’s not just a saying, it’s the truth.

Stepford Wives

There are 2 topics I feel I should write about: our first RV trip with my mother-in-law along and our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, I feel unable to access my creativity. I’ve been taking an antidepressant since April 27th (the generic of Lexapro). Starting with one 10 mg pill a day and going up to 2 pills about a month ago. I can’t say I like it. It has been great for my anxiety and I don’t worry like I used to. I don’t get upset over little things. As I said before about the medicine, I’m still sad inside but it doesn’t allow it to surface. I’ve only cried maybe 3 times since I started taking it. It basically has leveled off my emotions so I am one level of emotion at all times. That doesn’t seem human to me. It calls to mind the Stepford Wives. In the movie, they replaced the wives with robots. Now they just need to administer antidepressants to them and they behave accordingly.

I know I’m not bipolar yet I’ve always felt things very deeply. I could sympathize with others more than most people. Grief over a pet felt like ripping my heart out. I always had boundless enthusiasm and when I was happy I was beyond joyful. Now instead of life being a series of peaks and valleys, even rollercoaster rides, it is steady like a flatline on an ekg. I believe all the emotions are there underneath but they can’t get out. They are being held in check, pushed down by an invisible barrier. I don’t have any of the energy the doctor said I would have. I’m able to function but concentrating isn’t any easier. I don’t feel inspired to do things or achieve things. I don’t care enough to fight or stick up for myself. I don’t dwell on unpleasant things and just try to get through each day. I have no expectations for myself or the future.

 

I normally have so much to say. Especially when I write. Surprisingly, as much as I’d like to write about the two above named subjects, I CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING TO SAY!!! What the what?! How is that possible?

 

I’ve been trying to slowly lose weight and after a month (and being on vacation), I’m down 5 lbs. I ate lunch everyday on vacation too. I would be happy with the loss if I felt it or saw it. I don’t feel any different (even with a few lbs. I lost since Feb.) and for sure don’t look any different. I’m not letting it discourage me though. Hubby is losing slowly too and now has his diabetes where it should be. He is taking 80 ml of insulin every night and as he loses weight, the dose will be lowered. He’s seeing the doctor again July 6th.

 

The oddest thing about how I feel on this antidepressant is that things that used to bother me don’t anymore. I used to feel SO BAD because I didn’t have any family or friends. Now i don’t want any. I simply don’t care about it. It doesn’t matter to me and isn’t important. I find this very strange. In some ways, I feel like my personality is missing. This medicine has changed who I am and I don’t know if it’s for the better. I don’t talk as much. I sit quietly and am content. I have completely pulled back from social media. The medicine hasn’t given me the confidence I was lacking so I could share parts of myself without feeling like no one was interested. I don’t know what will become of me. I feel like I’m slowly fading away into the ether…never to be seen or heard from again…