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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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So much has happened in just a few weeks. Hubby had been so sick, suffering with a sinus infection last time I posted. That would have been bad enough but after taking an entire week’s worth of pills, we find out he’s allergic to penicillin. Just in time to ruin another weekend, they came on as he was driving home on Thurs. April 27th. By the time he’d had dinner, he was fully broke out from head to toe with hives. We tried a Benadryl and a Zyrtec which did nothing. Luckily, we both had a doctor’s appt. the following morning. The first thing the doctor said when he came into the room and saw Greg was, “Somebody got some sun!” His entire head was bright red. The doctor seemed unfazed by the severity and prescribed low dose steroids (starting out with 6 pills a day, decreasing each day until day 6 is 1 pill), 2 Benadryl every 6 hours round the clock and Calamine lotion. Greg was miserable for the entire week. we were both worried that his throats might close up! As long as it took to get into his system is how long it took to pass the penicillin out of his system. He works alone on Sunday and by Monday it was finally starting to abate a little bit. This was my first time seeing the doctor as a patient and he prescribed me Lexapro without even listening to my heart or lungs or looking in my ears or throat. I thought that was weird. I told him how I’ve felt down for months and didn’t know if it’s because my mom died, if it’s due to starting menopause or if I’m depressed. He said try 10 mg of Lexapro for 2 weeks and then he’d up the dose if needed.
The first day I took it, it made me nauseous for a few hours and then passed. After a few days I felt better but that Sat. April 29th when I started it, I came down with a cold. So it’s hard to tell how I really feel. It’s still lingering on. He had a bunch of blood tests done on me since it’s been over 4 years since I had blood drawn. He has this Patient Fusion thing where you can look online to see your results. My cholesterol is 229 which is a bit high but to me, nothing to worry about. Normal is under 200 but he wants it under 180. When we went back to the doctor Thurs. May 4th, he told me to get some Red Yeast Rice Extract Pills at Sam’s Club and take a 600 mg. pill twice a day and it will naturally lower it. We stopped in to Sam’s Club and they were out! So I got it at CVS when we picked up one of hubby’s prescriptions. I started taking it Sun. May 7th and it made a mess of my stomach. He said it would do that but it goes away over time. Today is already better. 


So many people are on antidepressants and I never wanted to be one of them. I’m against taking a lot of pills. I like to think the body heals itself. However, after all these years, I’ve decided to try and see if I can feel better mentally and physically. This is my first time taking any and I didn’t want to have the stigma of it rub off on me. Yet I’d rather be honest and share that I’m trying it than hide it. I can tell already I sleep a lot better at night. I’m still sleepy during the day but I’m hoping to get some energy eventually. So far there isn’t a significant change.


The doctor has been increasing hubby’s dose of insulin by 10 ml a week. He’s now up to 40 ml a day. His numbers are coming down but the whole week he was on steroids, they were high. The doctor said that would happen. This week we are getting a reprieve from going in to his office and only have to call the doctor on Thurs. and report his blood sugar readings and I have to say if I need my dose upped. We might use the day Thurs. after calling to take the Ancestry DNA results up to his mother in WI. We got them a few weeks ago when he was so sick and there was no way we could go anywhere, let alone to another state. 


Last weekend, we had our first semi-normal weekend in over a month. We got to go to 2 estate sales on Friday and then popped in to Oakton St. Antique Mall nearby to check out their sale. We parked next to a car that was just filled with garbage! The passenger side and entire backseat was stuffed to the ceiling with trash! I couldn’t believe it was that bad. I’ve seen cars used as dumpsters before but usually there’s room to see through the back window. It’s so unsafe not to be able to use your rearview mirror at all! I took a bunch of pictures and will use them for this post. I told hubby when we went inside to try to guess whose car it was. It was really impossible to tell! I assumed it was a man’s car but it could’ve been a woman’s. Little things like that amuse me. It’s sad and gross and curious all rolled into one. I guess it makes me feel like my life is less of a mess. For the record, the inside of my car is very clean. 🙂


On Sat. May 6th, we went to the Library Book Sale in our town. I was pretty excited. They only have it twice a year. We missed it last time because that was the day that Mom had a stroke and went into the hospital. (Yesterday was 6 months since she died.) We got there a minute or two before opening and there were like 35 people ahead of us. They had the vintage books in a back room and going in there, it was all picked over. I only found 2 older books and after looking through everything in the place, I left with only 9 books. I was kind of bummed but we hit a few estate sales and found some really great books at those. We also ate good food and walked the dogs together every day even though we were worn out.


Skipping back a bit, on April 24th we went to the AT&T store near the mall in Niles, IL. I knew for months we had to go switch our cellphone and U-verse account from Mom’s name to Greg’s. Mom had worked for the phone company for over 35 years and got a discount. Since she lived with us, we put the phone in her name. When she died, they said to wait at least 3 months but less than 6 to switch them over. I had mentioned it to Greg often but you know how there’s never a good time for things like that. Our AT&T store usually has a couple hour wait to be helped, standing room only, wall to wall. But because we went at 6 pm on a Monday night, it was the emptiest I’d ever seen it! We were helped immediately by a nice girl named Oliwia but it still took 2 1/2 hours! First we decided to cancel our landline. No one ever calls us but telemarketers. So that took awhile. Then we had to cancel our cellphone from her name to ours. They no longer have “minutes” or charge for texts. We were able to bring our cellphone bill down about $50. Then we had to cancel our U-verse and go without Internet for 3 days! That made no sense to me. But they couldn’t just do a name switch on the computer. They had to send out a technician on Thurs. April 27th. Then we had to bundle our Directv with our U-verse. For some reason the bill was no cheaper for bundling. We’ll have to call Directv and find out why. Directv offers new customers great deals but if you’re loyal and stick with them, they keep raising your rates. Go figure.


Greg was at work when the AT&T tech came. The guy was very “ meticulous” and “precise”. Everything had to be “just so” and “by the rules”. When he called to say he was on the way, I told him we have 3 dogs and they are great with people. He didn’t say anything. Then when he came to the door, I opened it and he just stood there. Amber was barking and all 3 were trying to get close to him. I told him to come in but he just stood there. He said I had to “put them away”. The room we put them away in is the Sunroom which is the room the computer is in and he needed to work in. It’s the only room downstairs that has a door on it. I finally ended up putting all 3 on leashes and then taking them up to our bedroom and closing them in. They hated it and carried on the whole time. For 1 1/2 hours!! If they were allowed to be out and about, they would go up to him, see him and then ignore him. They would go about their business and not give him a second thought. Standing at the threshold to the house is the worst thing someone can do. Once you get past the doorway, they’re fine. We’ve had so many repairmen coming in, meter readers, etc. Just this year, 2 Directv guys, last fall several Nicor Gas guys, etc. Plus we’ve had the hot water heater installed, etc. and never had to put the dogs away. I literally screamed at the guy, “I’ll put them away SINCE YOU’RE AFRAID OF DOGS!” It pissed me off that this is their house and they can’t be out. Even the vet says they’re “people dogs”. Anyway, the tech replaced the modem and I just got back from mailing the old one in. They told me to take it to the UPS store and they’d box it up, make the label and it would all be free of charge. They’re unable to give us any faster internet due to how far we are from the main switching box in Uptown. The first new modem he brought in wouldn’t work and he had to go get another out of his truck. I’m happy to say our internet is working better than it had for years.


The RV is in the repair shop now getting new stairs, new batteries and fixing the hot water heater. We’ve been too busy to even have time to think about our first vacation of the year. The weather hasn’t been very cooperative either. It’s supposed to be almost 70 degrees this time of year but instead it’s been getting into the 30’s at night and low 50’s during the day. This year is one for the record books in every way. Not good but it has to get better as it goes along… right?!

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It’s another in a series of dark, rainy days. Gloom begets gloom. All my life, I thought I was a good writer. Not contest winning good but captivating. Someone able to hold the attention of my readers. A few months back, I read some of my earlier blog entries and my life story that I wrote at 21. It seems so mediocre to me. Not very good at all. Now I’ve lost my will to write. I don’t want to write emails, blog posts, Instagram posts, Etsy listings, grocery or to-do lists, etc. It could be because I’m grieving still for the loss of my mother. Or it could be that I’ve lost confidence in the only thing I was ever good at. The only thing I ever had confidence in to begin with. I’m not about to start day drinking although the though has crossed my mind. It gives me perspective. I always wondered at what point does someone actually start doing heroin?! A fully rational adult knows better but if life has no substance for them anymore, will they do anything to get their motivation back?! Before you start worrying that I’m on the verge of shooting up, I won’t. I can promise you that. Not just because I don’t care for needles or putting foreign substances in my body. Mostly because I already know it’s not the answer.

When Mom was alive and I was so busy taking care of her, I used her as an excuse. I couldn’t write more because I never had a block of time to sit down and write without being interrupted. I figured when she eventually passed, I would spend part of every day writing. I would either be writing a book or at least do regular blog entires. Instead I feel even less like writing. The truth is she never kept me from writing or anything else. I’m doing that all by myself.

My days are all a blur now. I no longer get up with my husband in the morning (7 am) like I always did until the first of the year. I usually get up by 8 or 8:30 am. I still walk the dogs every day except today because it is raining hard all day long with no break. I still cook meals and bake desserts. I stay caught up with the laundry. I keep my housework and hygiene routine. I pay bills on time. I still watch “Stories” on Instagram every morning and throughout the day. Snippets of other people’s full and vibrant lives. I feel almost paralyzed about sharing on social media. I’ve felt this way on and off since I first got on the internet 21 years ago. In the past month I’ve only posted a handful of pictures (mostly food). I’ve taken lots more and should be excited about sharing but feel almost afraid to share. I don’t know why but the more I need people, the more I pull away. I watch tv but only half-heartedly. TV was always such a joy to me. It was something I’d look forward to at night. Now I still watch the same shows (and some new ones) but most of the time I’m not giving it my full attention. I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone what happened in a particular episode.

I’m very short-sighted and impatient when it comes to getting over things. I like to forge ahead and get on with things. When I had the chicken pox at age 30, I was so afraid that the red marks left on my face (scars) would be there forever. I asked a coworker who had them in his 20’s if he remembered them on his face and he said yes. He said they go away over time. Of course, he was right. Everything goes away over time… A decade ago I had a medical condition I’ve never written about. Someday I will. It was so painful and kept coming back. I finally had surgery and it cured me forever. Sadly, for a few years I was petrified that it would come back. I mean, it was a daily worry that I’d have to deal with it again and forever. That was during the time I almost went on drugs for depression. I was making myself sick with fear. I couldn’t see long term. I never took the drugs and over time my anxiety about reoccurrence went away.

Now I’m back to that place again. The grief over my mom’s death has only intensified. I feel empty and alone. I feel sorry for myself. The worst thing is I’m worrying that this feeling will never end. Just through living all these years, I ought to know logically that I won’t always feel like this. However, I don’t know how long it will last. It could be weeks, months, years?! When I had Mom with me, I pushed myself to get things done every day. Extra things like listing things to sell online or just reorganizing things. Now I don’t push myself. I don’t know why. The only thing I can come up with is that “nothing matters”. It doesn’t make a difference if I do it or not. She’s still dead and I’m still here. I don’t even like posting about my grief on Instagram. People are so kind and wonderful leaving cheerful comments. But what it comes down to is there’s nothing anyone can do to help. It’s going to take time. I feel embarrassed that I’m not handling this better. I don’t like feeling vulnerable. I want to be strong and be able to just go on without being phased by the loss. April 7th will be 5 months since Mom passed away. It seems like it should be long enough to live like this. I’ve always hated “wasting time”. I know how precious life is and grieving this long feels like a waste of time. Maybe it’s one of those things that just sneaks up on you. One day, without realizing it, I’ll notice that I no longer feel this way. That I’m able to find joy again in life. Only God knows how long I need to grieve and when he thinks I’m done. In the meantime, I’m soldiering on.

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Since I last wrote, Greg and I went to the dentist on Feb. 9th for cleanings. The dentist is always very prompt but this time he’d had an emergency and ran about 40 minutes late. The dentist apologized for keeping us waiting and I said, “I don’t mind. I’d rather wait than have what that guy had done.” Not kidding. Not even a little bit. 😉 He got a got good laugh about that. It was an old guy (looked like in his 80’s) and it sounds like he had a couple extractions. The dentist had his receptionist drive the guy home. I’ve never heard of that but it was very nice. Now we’re done with the dentist for 6 months. Greg had to get another blood draw that morning before his insurance would cover a new medication. He has about the best insurance around but they are balking at everything and refusing to cover certain drugs, etc. Anyway, Greg finally got on the new meds on Sat. Feb. 25th. He has to go back to the doctor on the 16th.
Saturday Feb. 25th was one of the worst days I’ve had, maybe ever. I didn’t feel good physically (nothing specific) but emotionally and mentally I was a wreck. I’m wondering if I’m all of a sudden in menopause and my hormones are out of whack. I felt like I couldn’t control my emotions. I was excessively sad, even though I didn’t want to be. I cried more that day than ever before. I need to get a sign that says, “It’s a bad day, not a bad life” because that day it felt like a terrible life. Believe it or not, I’m a pretty upbeat and positive person but couldn’t snap out of it. Luckily, it was only that one day. I hope I don’t have anymore days like that because that is no way to live.


Friday Feb. 17th, we met with the banker to finalize the transfer of stock. One of the 2 guys we deal with had a birthday and I asked how old he was. He said 34. When we got in the car later, Greg said to me, “They think we’re old.” or ‘To them, we’re old.” He’s probably right but we don’t really feel in our 50’s. We feel the same as our 30’s. It made me think how age is relative. I don’t think Mom ever felt 95 1/2 either! I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel more relieved after finalizing the stock but now I know why. The other day another thing came in the mail. This time it’s a Comcast stock that some place other than Computershare was administering. So it looks like I’ll have to replace the stock certificates and then transfer them. Which means I’ll have to get some more death certificates from my mom’s passing. Now I’m wondering if there’s even more out there than this. I’m not good at dealing with this type of stuff at all. On Sat. Feb. 25th we started our taxes. I had gathered up everything from us and Mom for taxes a few weeks ago. I put them aside and then I could’t find them! I finally found them yesterday in one of the first places I’d looked. Must’ve overlooked them the first time. Now I’m not sure everything is in there so will have to go through it to be sure and probably hunt a few things down.


The DNA test we ordered for Greg’s mother from Ancestry.com came in the mail on Tues. Feb. 14th. We called her that night to wish her a Happy Valentine’s Day and tell her it had come. We asked if she was free that Friday and she was. So after the banker, we went up to WI to see her. We got there at noon and left at 4:30 pm. First we got the saliva sample and added the stabilizing solution, then packed it up in the pre-paid mailing box. She wanted it sent in right away so we drove to the Sussex PO. (Mom and I lived in Sussex for 11 years.) We told her we’d take her to lunch for Valentine’s Day gift. We let her pick the place and she chose Maxim’s in Brookfield, WI. We’d never been there but it’s a greek place with a huge menu. It seems to be an old folks hangout. They had senior citizens being picked up by a private bus when we were getting there. Another was telling someone at the table next to us that they had had a big funeral lunch that day for everyone who’d attended their mother’s funeral. We all got the fish fry and it was ok. I wouldn’t get it again but it wasn’t the worst I’ve had either. We drove around a bit and saw how Pewaukee and the whole area has changed. I can barely recognize anything, it’s so built up now. We came back to her house and visited awhile. We were getting ready to go when we started talking about her cell phone. She’s got an iPhone 6+. She’s had it a few months and Greg’s brother Brian (the brain injured one) talked her into getting it. She said it cost like $600 when everything was added on. The sad thing is he didn’t teach her anything about how to use it!!!! So we stayed an extra hour just helping her with her phone. She had the volume off and down so she was missing all her calls. She didn’t know how to send or receive texts. Or look at pictures or go into any apps. She wasn’t even on Wi-fi even though she was paying for it. She has Directv for her tv but U-verse for her wifi. She doesn’t even have a computer but has wifi. Yet she didn’t have her phone set up to hook into her wifi. Greg worked on that while I showed her how to add other cities to the weather so she could see the weather where the other family lives. We were both very patient and enjoyed helping her. I don’t just do things for her, I make her do them or she won’t learn it. She needs about 20 more hours of teaching (minimum) but we had to leave. Next time we go up there, we’ll give her another lesson. The sad thing is her life would be so much more enriched if she actually used the phone instead of using it as a glorified paperweight! Also sad is that she has 5 other children (one across the street) who have never helped her with this…. 😦 When we got home, we both remarked how good we felt about going up there. It was the most pleasant time we’ve ever had up there. It might be because it was just one on one with her instead of a huge group of people that make us feel uncomfortable. Greg got an email from Ancestry.com saying that they’d received the sample and it would take 6-8 weeks to process it. Now we have to decide if we’re going up there for his sister’s St. Pat’s Day party, his mother’s birthday or sometime in between.


Saturday Feb. 18th, we went back up to WI to see Bad Boy. We had a nice time but it’s not really our scene anymore. The Milwaukee band was playing at The Route 20 Outhouse in Sturtevant, right outside of Racine. We had reservations and I was so nervous. I was really close to chickening out but curiosity won out. It was so warm that day that we didn’t even wear a coat. The whole weekend (like 5 days straight) it was in the upper 60’s to mid 70’s which is unheard of for Feb. We ate dinner up there at the club and I had chicken wrap and Greg had a pulled pork sandwich. I just didn’t want to eat anything that would make me spend the night in the bathroom. The restroom only has 2 stalls! We decided to take it real easy when drinking and had 3 beers total. We had quit drinking by 10 pm and that’s when Bad Boy started. First up was a band called Jasper Rude. They played all their own music and weren’t bad. The lead singer reminded me of Steve Perry from Journey. The club never got packed. A few hundred people only. They had a private party upstairs also. We were at one of the high tables on the sides. They get rid of the low tables to make a dance floor. Right in front of us, they had put a low table especially for the whores. There have always been groupies (I was one) and whores at rock shows. The times haven’t changed that. Only now since the band is older, so are the groupies and whores. I didn’t see one person under 40 in the place and Greg said it was more like no one under 50. These whores were older too (probably mid 40’s) but dressed much younger. It probably makes me sound bitter and jealous to call them that but i find it most descriptive. I came back to rewrite this so as not to offend anyone but changed it back. They were very entertaining to watch, as much so as the band. Bad Boy did 2 sets after Jasper Rude did one set. One of the sets was like an hour and a half long. In the old days, bands used to get free drinks. I don’t know if they still get that but the whores were buying the guys drinks. Also a male groupie bought them all shots. He and his girlfriend (who had never seen them before) came late (but before the band started) and had no seats. They were standing next to me and i told them they could sit with us. They said no, they wanted to stand. Fine. We only ended up dancing to one song, “Cheat On Me” but I had fun. In the past, I would’ve been out not he dance floor for the majority of songs. Now I’m too selfconsious (or hadn’t drank enough). When we came back and sat down, the girl next to me tried talking to me. The music was so loud, I couldn’t hear anything. Not a single word. I forgot how my ears were buzzing and almost hurt from how loud the music was. I told Greg I could’t hear her and he tried to find out what she wanted. She asked him, “Have you been together long?” He replied, “31 years” (slight exaggeration—it will be 31 since we met this June). Then she says, “You two are so cute out there dancing together.” Ew. It sounds so nice but her tone made me shudder. Like if you saw a grandma and grandpa out dancing in their 90’s. It just seemed so patronizing. Once again…they think we’re old… WE’RE NOT OLD!! Are we?! The older couple sitting across the room from us where the woman fell asleep sitting up in a chair at 8 pm and slept through the loud music might qualify as old…

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It’s been 3 months today since my mom passed away. I still miss her as much as you might imagine. However, I’ve found out that’s she’s inside me. Not only in my heart but in basically how I am, act, speak and look. 
When I was in college, a friend was looking at a professional portrait our little family had taken around the time I graduated from high school. It was just my dad, my mom and me. This friend commented that she’d never seen anyone look equally like both parents. Usually people favor one parent over the other in appearance, if not completely looking like a double. At the time, I never saw it. I thought I looked mostly like my dad. Now that she’s gone, I see her when I look in the mirror. Maybe only in the light behind my eyes because she had green eyes and I have brown. I hate looking in the mirror but seeing her makes me hate it a bit less. 


I feel like I’ve aged quite a bit since she died. I felt much younger than her because I was. 41+ years age difference will do that to you. Now all of a sudden, I am understanding how hard I pushed her to do things. I made her get dressed everyday, even putting on her own socks. I helped her as needed but didn’t let her get away with not doing it. I think if I hadn’t made her do those things, she would’ve lost the ability. The old, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. I sit on the basement floor (carpeted) and sort laundry and pretreat stains, etc. Then getting up off the floor is no joke. I used to be able to do it like nothing but since I hurt my knee a year ago, it’s slow going. My knee is healed but “tricky” and gives me pain or acts up if I don’t watch it. I can now kneel on both knees. I pretty much marvel every day that Mom could get out of the bathtub by herself at 95 1/2. She was working in the garden every day weeding until age 88 or so. The fact that she could adapt to all the advances in technology is mind boggling. She grew up without electricity or running water. Back when there was a party line for the telephone and a horse and buggy to go to town. Yet she learned to drive a car at age 12. She lived through a lot of changes and embraced them all. She loved playing slot games on the computer.


We were very different personality-wise. She and my husband were both born in April and were similar in a lot of ways. I’m more calculated in doing things. Before doing things, I like to research things and do a lot of thinking and planning about them. Both of them would get an idea and just run with it. They’d try anything and always be up for an adventure. I’d have to be coaxed into it. Both my mom and husband dislike greeting cards. They also don’t like exchanging presents. My mom would send a few Christmas cards to her sister, her nieces and 2 coworkers she had met 70 years ago and had still kept in touch with. She liked receiving cards from these people. She disliked writing letters but would force herself to write her sister, brother and those coworkers a few times a year because she knew they’d write back. I grew up with a love of letter writing. I had penpals since I was 12 years old. Then I went into slams which was more writing. I’ve always loved sending cards and receiving them. Mom and Greg never wanted cards from me. They both thought it was stupid. So I obliged and never made them hardly any. It dawned on me one day that I have no cards from my Mom. Others whose mother died might have a shoebox or even bigger box just filled with cards they could look through telling how much their mother loved them. They could look at them over and over again. Instead I have memories of her telling me she loved me (up until the last 5 years or so) often and showing me in countless ways. My mom wasn’t a demonstrative person. She grew up in a time when you didn’t get hugs and were never told you were loved. Ever since I was a baby, she told me many times daily that she loved me and I always got hugs and kisses. She used to call me “Kissy” because I liked kisses so much. My dad never told me he loved me and didn’t give hugs or kisses. So I got all of my affection from Mom. When I was in high school, she’d send me off to school with a kiss on the lips and “Have a good day!”. Nobody really understood how close I was to my mom because I don’t know anyone else who had as close a relationship with their own mother. There was a girl in high school who was older than me by a 2 years. We were in the same grade but she’d been held back. So she was 18 and her mother had left her. Instead of kicking her out when she turned 18, the mother moved but must’ve paid the rent because she had a house to herself. Anyway, we rode the bus together and she came to the door to get me so we could walk several blocks ahead because we were one of the last stops and if we waited to get on, we wouldn’t get a seat on the bus and would have to stand the whole way (5 miles). She really resented my close bond with my mom and was downright jealous. She saw Mom kiss me on the lips and the next day there were rumors swirling all around school that I was a lesbian. It was a vicious thing to do to take something so innocent and loving and turn it into a lie. As with most rumors, there’s nothing you can do about them, people will either believe them or they won’t. But I was really hurt and even though I knew where her intentions came from, it didn’t make it any easier to deal with. I was so upset and didn’t want to tell my mom for fear that it would make her not want to kiss me goodbye every morning. But I did tell her because there wasn’t anything that I didn’t share with her. We got through that and our bond was even stronger. Only death can separate us from one other.


Yesterday I made a bunch of Valentines on the computer. It made me think of all this. I never know if others like getting cards but I try to acknowledge others and send them. I know I like getting them and typically only 2 or 3 send me any for the various holidays. I do cherish them. It makes me wonder how important it is to have tangible items that belonged to a dead person. My mom doesn’t have many possessions. She moved dozens of times throughout her life and didn’t keep things from her childhood or even early adulthood. She would give things away when she moved so she wouldn’t have to pay to transport them. Then in the last 10 years (5 years or so before the Alzheimers was diagnosed), she started throwing things out. She didn’t have a lot to begin with but any old cards or letters, she would read one last time and then put in the garbage. I used to argue with her about this but she felt so strongly about getting rid of the stuff, that I gave in and didn’t question it after that. She was always trying to get me to get rid of some of my stuff. The more she would egg me on, the harder I would hold onto things. She did get me to part with a lot when we moved from my childhood home in Eau Claire to Sussex, WI. 


I feel blessed to have had every single kiss, hug and declaration of love from my mom. I know not everyone is so lucky. I think the secret is to love like there’s no tomorrow. Which is what we always did. We never knew how much time we’d have together but we knew it wouldn’t be enough. Happy Valentine’s Day dear friends!! 🙂 Hold onto your loved ones with all your might!

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Greg returned home from his 2 weeks of work training on Sat. July 23rd. I picked him up at the airport around 2 pm. They’ve closed (actually demolished) the Kiss-n-Fly lot that we always used for drop off and pick up. We still meet in that area just outside of where it is fenced off for construction purposes. It cuts through a lot of the hassle of picking him up at the main part of the airport. He brought me a very cute wallet that says “Federal Agent’s Wife” which looks just like the one he has that holds his badge.
Greg had applied and interviewed for 2 jobs in June. One was running the training dept. in Milwaukee WI. The other was the same job he does now (cargo inspector) but at Midway Airport instead of O’Hare. He has been trying to get tje promotion he was promised 11 years ago. The head of O’Hare had taken him from being a TSA screener and had promoted him to head up the training dept. 22 years ago. This guy told him repeatedly that he would be elevated to the next pay grade in 1 year. He was always praising him for the fine work. Then the guy left before the year was up and when Greg confronted him about it, he said, “I never said that!” This has been such a sore spot and cause of heartbreak for him. Then he had a female supervisor who picked on him for about 5 years. He just got switched to another one 2 months ago! He had applied for several promotions over the years and he never could figure out why he didn’t get them. Several guys who started after him and weren’t as good as he was at the work were given it instead of him. Due to recent events, we’ve figured out that this previous supervisor was the one holding him back.

Greg got a phone call about the Milwaukee job while in Georgia and was told they went with someone internally. This means someone who’s already working in the dept. He wasn’t sure he wanted to commute up to WI anyway. I’d been trying not to freak out wondering if we’d end up moving back up there then. When he got back from GA, he had a message that the person in charge at Midway had been trying to get ahold of him. He called them on Monday and found out that they were offering him the job. He wanted to meet in person and talk over their expectations and his and see what exactly the offer consists of. So Thurs. on his day off he drove down there and they talked. He told them he needed something in writing since he’d been burned before by the TSA. Ever since Thurs. he’s been waiting to receive the offer and finally it came through yesterday and he accepted it! He starts his new job on Monday Aug. 22nd. 🙂

Greg is so happy that all the drawbacks to the position don’t seem as important as they originally did. He is going from being a small fish in a big pond to being a big fish in a small pond. He is definitely giving up A LOT of perks. He now has a 4 day work week (10 hour days) with Thurs., Fri. and Sat. off. He has to go to a 5 day work week (8 hour days). He can still work Sundays which is a big deal to me so he’ll have Friday and Sat. off still. Right now he has a 3 mile commute that takes between 8-11 minutes. To Midway he’ll have a 30 mile commute in heavy Chicago traffic. It takes 40 minutes PLUS depending on time of day. He’ll also have a ton of tolls unless he can find some backroads that won’t add excess time to the trip. By my calculations, even with the raise he’s getting, not counting the wear and tear on his Jeep, he’ll be losing $500 a year by taking the job. Plus losing a day off every week, etc. But his ego needs this and they want him BADLY. it’s worth a lot to me to have him happy.

Maybe the hardest thing for me is if I run into some kind of trouble, he could get home to help me in like 10 minutes. Now I’ll just have to wait until the end of the day no matter what. At first I couldn’t understand why he wanted to leave that bad that he’d give up his days off and the short commute but I realized it’s not about me. He likes a challenge and his current position no longer challenges him. They don’t seem to value him or his contribution like they should. So this is a bit of excitement happening around here with watching hubby stretching his wings to fly.

Last week I heard from my sister-in-law Sandy that my half-brother Gary has been having some health problems. He was up at the cottage alone in northern WI and had some type of attack. He had to be taken to the hospital in Barron, WI and then transferred to one in Eau Claire. They had run tests on him and it looked like a mass in his kidneys. He went home on a plane to Seattle and was seeing specialists and fearing kidney cancer. Looks like the first step is kidney removal but I don’t know any of the details yet. I spoke to him on the phone and he sounded terrible and was on his way to the urologist so we didn’t talk more than a minute or two. He’s 18 years older than me so 72. That’s been on my mind a lot this week too.


It’s that time again for me to donate my hair to Locks Of Love. I get sick of it long, I get sick of it short and I get sick of it inbetween. I’ve got an appt. on Thurs. with Madeline again to get it cut super short. She’s the one who did it the other 2 times I donated it. After I get the haircut, I’m going to get my eyes examined and get new glasses. It’s been 4 years and even though I always use a soft cloth to clean them, my glasses are extremely scratched up. I hope I find some I like! I figure my birthday week is as good a time as any to make all these changes.

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I have much to say but not a lot of time. I’ll type as fast as I can and hope I can get in what I need to. We got back from vacation on Sept. 12th and are gearing up for another one in 10 days. We purposely leave our vacations for the 2nd half of the year because at least then we have something to look forward to. Many use their vacation time up in the first few months of the year and have to wait until the next calendar year to take more. There’s something to be said for just knowing you have the time off coming to you.
Mom drinking her coffee in the RV

Mom drinking her coffee in the RV

Our last trip was up to Black River Falls, WI. I think we’ve officially burned ourself out on the place. The first 5 days the temperature was in the 90’s every day! That’s unheard of for that time of year. Of course, we had no air conditioning. It was less than pleasant but we got through it. We ate out twice at the casino and gambled twice as well. Greg & I got away for a few hours here and there to check out the antique shops in BRF and Hixton. Mom didn’t want to do much which limited what we could do. We knew that going in so really weren’t too bummed out about it. One day Greg & I went up to my hometown–Eau Claire, WI. We hadn’t been there in about 15 years.
Dad's grave

Dad’s grave

We went to the cemetery and saw the graves of my dad along with his first wife, her parents, my half sister’s dead twins, etc. We found the graves right away. My oldest half sister had gone to her 60th high school reunion in August (mind blowing, eh?) and had been unable to find the graves. We went to see the church my grandma (dad’s mom) founded in 1923. It played a large part in my upbringing. I attended Sunday School, got confirmed and then went to church there until I left for college. My dad had been elder in the church and had paid for a lot of the stained glass windows. We went to McDonough Park which is right by Dell’s Pond. We played there a lot as kids. I saw they had replaced the sign that had been shot full of bullet holes with a new one.
North Presbyterian Church that my grandma founded

North Presbyterian Church that my grandma founded

We got out of the car and walked through the old neighorhood for several blocks. It was surreal–like walking back in time. Things were the same and yet they weren’t. The area was always poor but now it seemed so rundown. A shop owner had told us not to go there at night because it was dangerous. There wasn’t a soul on the streets which made me wonder. Seeing the house I grew up in was bittersweet…. Things had been changed for the worse. Basically, it looked like someone had ruined the place. It sits next to a large building that used to be my grandparents corner grocery store. It had closed before my birth and my dad had turned it into a duplex (upper and lower apts). We always called it “The Store”. Well, The Store was for sale and looked unfit for habitation.  The post office no longer delivers to the houses, the mailboxes have now been moved to the curb.
Grandparents' corner grocery store as a duplex

Grandparents’ corner grocery store as a duplex

It made me think of my last blog post and how I feel like white trash. Or I am white trash. While we were there and for a week or so after we got home, I kept thinking, “No wonder I didn’t make anything of myself. It would be nearly impossible to, coming from that area.” I said it to my hubby and he said, “But you did make something of yourself.” I said, “No, I didn’t.” He said, “You survived. You got out.” I guess that’s something…
My first home

My first home

I’ve been buried in laundry and cooking since we got back. I haven’t even been able to work on selling online at all. Mom is taking up more and more of my time which I knew would happen. She pretty much needs help with everything she does now. Some days I run out of patience before breakfast. That’s when you know it’s going to be a long day. I’ll save all the details of that for a future post. Lucky you! 😉
Neighbor's tree being cut down

Neighbor’s tree being cut down

The next door neighbor had their giant elm tree cut down last week. Today the tree cutting co. came to drill out the stump. We had ours done 14 years ago. It was a horrific expense at the time, close to $5,000 then. We’re taking Amber to the vet on Thurs. afternoon for her yearly vaccinations. I’m just trying to keep my chin up and my head above water under less than ideal circumstances. Hope you’re doing the same! 🙂
Logs from downed tree

Logs from downed tree

 

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