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Things are officially back to business as usual around here. Hubby got home from deployment on the afternoon of Sat. June 15th. He went back to work the next day and worked 2 days and had to take a sick day. He had been nursing a cold for a few weeks. The environment he was in was like a petrie dish and everyone there was sick on and off. He spent that Tuesday in bed and slept 17 hours. He went back to work on Wed. and then had off Thurs., Fri. and Sat. He wasn’t feeling well most of the weekend and I had caught the cold on Thurs. My illness lasted about a week and his lingered even longer. We are both finally well. It helped that after hubby worked another week, he was informed that he had earned “3 admin days off” for being gone so long. He was told to use them as soon as he could after coming home. Too bad they didn’t tell him 2 weeks earlier. He put in for the 3 days of the July 4th week and with the holiday that gave him a full 10 days off. He didn’t even mention going away. He wanted to just relax and get used to being home again.

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We had a wonderful Staycation. We’re not staycation people. When time off allows, we like to get away. We’ve stayed home a few times in the past and it always felt like a waste of vacation. Being home makes you feel like you weren’t on vacation. However, when the time off is “extra”, it’s a whole different ballgame. We had wanted to go to a Chicago Dogs (minor league baseball) game in Rosemont, IL like we did last year. We didn’t go because it was too hot for our taste. The entire time until 4 pm yesterday, the temperatures were in the 90’s with high humidity!! I couldn’t believe it. We had weather you’d see in mid-August. I finally shut the a/c off after running it for 2 weeks straight. We prefer to do without a/c and have the windows open but when it’s that hot, you’re just sitting in a puddle of sweat. We had all kinds of plans to do yard work and didn’t do any until July 4th. I cut the grass and Greg did some trimming. 
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We did some treasure hunting, went to the casino a few times, ate out a few times, read books, etc. We had gone to an estate sale of Ken Nordine who had died at age 98 in Feb. He was the creator of a style of “audio storytelling” he called “word jazz”. The house had no a/c and the book room was literally a sauna. We both tore into it and found about 30 books that are so odd and eclectic, I can’t wait to read them! He was into a lot of science fiction. I found a 1961 copy of “The Man In The High Castle” (also a tv series) that Greg is currently reading. I’m reading a sf novel “The Two Clocks” now which is interesting. I would say that science fiction was always one of my least favorite reads. One of my closest male friends in jr. high and h.s. was a huge sf fan. He gave me a copy of science fiction and the family short stories (not exact title). It was drew me in but I still wasn’t a big fan. Now after finding these books, I think I just may become one! It actually gives me ideas about writing my own science fiction story.
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The casino we went to is in Rosemont so it’s 5 minutes away. “Rivers Casino” opened about 8 years ago so my mom was just starting to lose her marbles when it came to be. We went a few times but it was a very tight casino. We always had better luck at any other place. It had been years since we’d gone and they sent us a few free meals and now we’re going again. We play mostly video poker but sometimes get drawn to the other one armed bandits. It was a nice cool place to be and we managed to stay even with our money the first 3 times we went there. Then we lost the next 2 times. Now I suppose we won’t go back for awhile.
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We went to an estate sale on Friday in downtown Chicago. We don’t go down there often but had the most glorious drive along the lake. I took a ton of photos with my old iPhone 6+ and they turned out great. We had gone to the AT&T store last Monday. We found they can’t do anything there anymore. We needed to call the phone number to get the credit for the Mexico calls and to get the $10 a month for the iPad taken off the bill. Hubby did this and they said they’d take care of it but I’ll believe it when I see it. The person we dealt with at the AT&T store basically told us to wait until the newest iPhone comes out in Sept. before getting the iPhone10. I’ve got to say I was disappointed. My phone will be 5 years old in Nov. I feel like the redheaded stepchild having to be behind everyone else in technology. But I’ll wait….
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May 31st I had gone for a mammogram after almost 4 years. Our doctor had died and our current doctor does not care about women’s health. I had all my previous mammograms done at Gottlieb hospital and knew all the techs and the setup and was comfortable with it. My current doctor insisted on me going to Resurrection where his office is. They were trying to get my records from Gottlieb but sent me a letter saying they had no luck?! They said they think things look ok… Then I got a phone call from Lauren who wants me to go over my risk factors for breast cancer with her. Because my mother’s sister had it, I am “borderline” at risk. I know as much as I feel I need to about selfceare and risk factors. She wants to justify her existence. I basically told her she could help me get my records and then I’d see if I could make time for her.
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That’s it for today. We are going to grill out hamburgers tonight since they were on sale and the weather is finally conducive to it. I hope everyone had a nice holiday week! 
 

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Happy New Year to all my readers and friends who are checking in to see what I’ve been up to. 🙂 We did decide to forgo putting up a Christmas tree at home for spending the holiday in Tunica, MS again. We got back the evening of New Year’s Day and I’m still playing catch up with everything at home. I’ve got laundry going as I sit down to write this and will be making Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas later. Today is the Packers playoff football game but since hubby is working, we’ll watch it tonight after he gets home.
Hubby grows a beard every winter!

Hubby grows a beard every winter!

Hubby had his work Christmas party on Wed. December 17th. It was also a going away party for one of the lawyers in his office who was taking a job in Hawaii. Hubby volunteered to decorate the tables and rooms for the party so I helped him pick out items for the display. We both like doing that and we used a combination of Christmas and Hawaiian items. I baked 4 dozen peanut butter cookes and 2 1/2 dozen Russian Tea Cakes. I made both from my mom’s 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Everything in there is really the best. There were only a few cookies left and we ended up bringing them along on our trip.
The Babes--pay no attention to my double chin.

The Babes–pay no attention to my double chin.

We left Thurs. December 18th and spent the first night behind the Resorts Casino in the parking lot. Then checked in at Hollywood Casino RV Park for 13 nights. So we were there a total of 2 weeks and it was quite enough! We had planned to come home on Friday Jan. 2nd but the weather was turning bad with snow expected. We decided to get out a day early and beat the elements. That meant staying up until 1 am and then getting up at 7 am to get ready to leave. There is no way I’ll ever agree to spend New Year’s Eve in bed sleeping. Last year we’d been over at the casino at midnight, gambling and in jolly good spirits. This year, Mom had no desire to be in the casino and I wasn’t about to leave her alone then. So Greg & I spent New Year’s Eve watching music videos on YouTube! It was actually a lot of fun! My very favorites are Psy’s “Gangnam Style” & “Gentleman”, Pitbull’s “Timber”, Jessie J.’s “Bang Bang” and ALL of the videos by Ylvis (2 Norwegian brothers) most famous for “What Does The Fox Say.” Mom had fallen asleep on the couch across from us and we woke her to wish her Happy New Year and then I put her to bed.
Me & the dogs. Never far apart.

Me & the dogs. Never far apart.

Aside from one event a day and a half before we left (which I’ll be writing a separate blog post about), this vacation was rather boring. Greg calls it peaceful. It was a lot colder than Thanksgiving so I didn’t get outside as much. Greg still managed to get the dogs out for long walks and I went a few times. There was like 3 days straight of rain in the middle of the 2 weeks. We did hardly any gambling. We went several days without playing any slot machines at all. We watched a lot of movies on Netflix which was fun. We don’t manage to do that at home like you’d think we would. We also did some reading. I finished D.H. Lawrence’s “Sons & Lovers” which I thought was really good. Then I started “Women In Love” and am halfway through and find it dull. I’m going to finish it because I expect it to get better at some point!
Here's your Christmas Card!

Here’s your Christmas Card!

Over Thanksgiving, we got our entire stay comped in the RV park which was nice. Plus our meals free. This trip we had to pay for 9 out of 13 nights but it was cheaper to do that than gamble a lot. We also had to buy about 5 meals that were $5-7 each which isn’t bad at all. We had brought an extra gallon of milk along so didn’t need to go shopping once while there! Sadly, we now feel like we’ve worn it out there. Maybe we’ll feel differently after a few months pass. Things have changed so much since we first started going to Tunica. They used to decorate so opulently in the casinos that it would almost take your breath away to behold. Now you wouldn’t even know it’s Christmastime! They no longer play Christmas music, they don’t put up a Christmas tree anywhere or decorate at all that we could tell. They put up a huge toy train at 2 places but it could have been for any time of year. People used to dress up (at least a bit) for the holidays and wear fancy sweaters or dress shoes, etc. Now people are going around in pajama pants and hoodies. In public. To eat Christmas dinner. I had brought along some dressy clothes to wear but when I saw that, I didn’t even bother putting them on. The casinos in Tunica used to give away gifts like it was going out of style. We’d get blankets, a coat, hat, a watch, champagne glasses, you name it. Now they don’t give away anything! They do have drawings and things for winners but not to people just for showing up. It’s not like we need anything but it makes it fun. One of the biggest casinos went out of business last June. Greg thinks the rest are headed that way. It’s sad to see change when it’s not for the better.
Popsicle Art. Found in a Mississippi parking lot.

Popsicle Art. Found in a Mississippi parking lot.

We ate a lot of good southern food on the trip. Then since I’ve come home, I’ve been making a ton of cold weather meals to keep us going. As soon as we got home, the temperatures sunk down to zero with windchills 25-30 degrees below zero. They cancelled schools in Chicago for 2 days this week. It’s been too cold to walk the dogs so I’ve been home bound. I’ve made chili twice, banana bread and chicken noodle soup.
Mississippi Sunset.

Mississippi Sunset.

Wed. Jan. 7th, Mom had a bout of diarrhea. It was only a 1 day bug type thing. It doesn’t help that she can’t tell me when she feels it coming on. I have to read her body language and keep asking her if her stomach is bothering her. She doesn’t move too fast so even if I help her to the bathroom (which I do every time she goes now), she’s likely not to make it in time. She also doesn’t seem to comprehend what it is because she puts her hands right in it like it was something to play with. Gah! She went through 3 pairs of under and outer pants before I wised up and put her in diapers for the day. By then it was better and by the next day, gone completely. When I put her in diapers, I kept wondering if that’s how the elderly end up in diapers 24/7. One good (?) thing from the trip is that I was with her day and night so FINALLY her leg healed! The one she had skin ulcers on and would pick until it bled. I kept it wrapped even though it was healed. Then after we came home, a few days later, I was in the kitchen cutting vegetables and came to check on her. She was picking her leg and had got it bleeding again. 😦 It was so disheartening to me. She doesn’t care one way or the other but I felt like all my hard work was in vain. It is almost healed up again but I can’t be with her (hovering over her) every second! I have to be able to leave the room to use the bathroom myself, fix meals, do laundry, let the dogs outside, etc. If I had it to do over, I’d get a baby monitor so I could hear what’s she up to. As soon as I heard movement or rustling, I would hustle in there and catch her before she could do any damage. It doesn’t do any good to tell her to leave it alone or even explain at length WHY she needs to not touch it.

Now comes the hard part of the year. The next 3 months of the year are filled with isolation. More than the rest. Looking out at the snow on the ground, it’s so pretty but also has a bleak quality that leads one to a feeling of emptyness. I don’t know how much treasure hunting hubby and I will do. There were some this past weekend but we felt it was too cold to bother with. I guess we’re not hardcore enough. I’m sure the estate sales still had people going no matter the weather. In the meantime, I’m going to get more items listed for sale on Etsy and surround myself with things I love to get me through winter.

I have no New Year’s Resolutions. Just to get through one day at a time with my sanity intact. This was the first Christmas since I started sending Christmas cards (at about age 12) that I didn’t send any! It was one tradition I wanted to keep up. I thought it would be the be-all and end-all if I didn’t do it. Between running the home business, taking care of Mom, packing for the trip and baking for the Greg’s Christmas party, I just didn’t have time to make them, let alone address them. I’ve got to say, it didn’t bother me as much as I expected it too. I actually felt ok that I didn’t force myself to add that as another burden. In recent years I’d send out 35 and get maybe 15 if I was lucky. It seemed like so few. Now I didn’t send any and got around 15. It seemed like so many! Ha ha. I’m not saying I won’t send them next year. I might! At this old age, I’m learning things don’t have to be set in stone. I’d like to say I’m going to learn to sew and knit this year but don’t want to add any more pressure to myself. My motivation is at an all time low. What do you do for inspiration?

 

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I’ve noticed that not being able to get online to blog makes me crabby. At least that’s what I’m blaming it on. 😉 I decided to just take a few minutes for myself to send out a quick update. I know my readers are running the risk of turning blue from holding their breath, waiting for some words to show up on this page.

We had a vacation to Wisconsin in October over the Columbus Day holiday that I haven’t even posted about. We hit our usual (Black River Falls) and threw in some Wisconsin Dells for good measure. I wanted so badly to write about it and title it “Wisconsin Death Trip” after a book I want to find. That was a decent, low key trip that had us going to a few antique malls in those areas for a change of pace. We ate most of our meals in the RV and did a lot of reading of antique books. Not too different from the previous vacation but relaxing all the same.

We got back from our yearly voyage to Tunica, MS on Friday Nov. 28th. I can’t believe we went. This was our 17th Thanksgiving spent there. Yet this was the first one where we almost didn’t go. It is a tradition we decided upon back in 1998 and there is never a question that’s where we’ll spend that holiday. This year we got a ton of extremely cold weather and even snow about 6 weeks earlier than normal. We were wimping out and afraid we’d be miserable and too cold. Basically, we were talking ourselves out of going. Up until 2 days before, we didn’t know if we’d go. Then hubby and I both got the urge to stick to our tradition. I knew if we broke it, we’d never go again for the holiday. We might go other times of the year, but that would be it for Turkey Day.

So we went and I’m so glad we did. Nothing extraordinary happened. Scratch that. In the wee hours of the Wed. morn before Thanksgiving, there was a rap on the door after 1 am!! Talk about scaring the crap out of us. Someone had come into the RV site next to us (backing in their rig) after midnight which is highly unusual. It makes a lot of racket. We just got settled down in bed again and got the dogs quieted and then this knock. It was security asking if we’d seen a woman who was missing. He showed Greg a copy of her driver’s license picture. He said no, he hadn’t seen her and closed the door. They proceeded to go on and wake every living soul in the RV park up! It never made sense to me because they never told in what context this woman was missing. Like if she was abducted, would someone who had her in their RV, say that?! No. The next day the cops and FBI were all over the RV park and field behind it. Remember this is the field that I’d complained about in the past that they’d left full of garbage for months after a concert?! Well, the field was now empty and we love walking the dogs there. It’s next to the golf course and we find all kinds of golf balls. We went walking and got stopped and told we couldn’t walk there because they were looking for someone and we might contaminate the crime scene! Yet there was no crime tape, etc. They had canines and officers out on ATVs driving around. Later on we saw Memphis’ news van there. So we watched the news on Wed. at 6 pm and saw that they’d found the woman. She was an employee at Resorts casino and had disappeared sometime on Tues. Her family reported her missing. They had looked at the closed circuit tv tape and saw her walking behind Hollywood casino which is where they were looking for her. Guess where she was found?! In a bathroom stall at Hollywood! So basically all that searching in the field was for nothing. They took her out in an ambulance so we’ll never hear the whole story. I’m glad she was found but that was just crazy.

A few good things happened like the gas being the cheapest it’s been in YEARS. We paid $2.51 a gallon down from over $4 a gallon. That makes a huge difference in what it costs to travel. It wasn’t as cold as we’d expected but it wasn’t too warm either. It used to be in the 70’s when we’d be there but now it’s in the 40’s and 50’s. We can handle that since it beats the teens and 20’s. We got all our meals for the week free. We had usually one buffet a day. I came home and my jeans are so tight, it’s disgusting. I ate a salad as often as I could but of course, that isn’t all I ate. We gambled the bare minimum. Not even every day. We did manage to get Mom out just about every day and she & I gambled together when we did gamble. That way I could keep an eye on her. 2 days after we got there she said “Let’s go home!” which kind of broke our hearts. When Greg asked her where home was, she said, “Mora, Minnesota”. That’s the town she grew up on and hasn’t lived in in 70 years. When we asked her where she thought we were (in MS), she said, “Red Wing”. Which is also in MN but we haven’t gone there in over 10 years. She did ok for the trip and now we have to decide if we want to go back for Christmas. I doubt it but we’ve been known to make these rash decisions at the last moment. 😉

One of the fun things Greg & I did was on Monday Nov. 24th, we went to an estate sale in Bartlett, TN. A suburb of Memphis and about an hour from where we were staying. We set Mom up with the games on the ipad and took off. In all the years we’ve been going down there, we’ve never went to an estate sale. It was different from here and the prices seemed higher. It was still fun and exciting and I still found some treasures. I got 4 decoupage art pieces made by Jake Casey who’s an actor. He had lived in the house and was now in rehab. The creative art pieces are on stretched canvas and remind me of what I might have done when I was young. Cut out pictures and words glued on to striking effect. I will have to photograph them and share them when I have more time. They had several religious pieces I loved but were too expensive. I could weep over a huge floor standing candle holder that held at least 64 candles! It was “only” about $360 but I just couldn’t do it. Or rather Greg would’ve had a cow if I’d paid that.

Saturday we spent the afternoon putting up the Christmas lights outside. We put a bunch of red and white blinking lights on the bush in front. Then a strand of round gold bulbs around the door frame. Then blue lights on the tiny Christmas tree outside. We started doing the 2 wrought iron banisters going up to the front door but it got too cold. Looks like this Thurs. we’ll be doing more decorating. We kind of have to decide if we’re putting up a tree this year or not. We had a good time with it last year but don’t know if I’m up for it again SO SOON. As I’ve said before. I’d like Christmas so much better if it only came every 5 years!!

A few weeks before we left for vacation, I made a turkey and all the trimmings. It doesn’t have to be a holiday for us to eat good. It fed us for a couple of weeks until we left. It was on sale for 48 cents a lb. so I couldn’t pass it up. When we got home this weekend, they had fresh turkeys for 39 cents a lb. So we got another and I cooked it on Sunday! As much as I enjoyed eating out down south, there is nothing like homemade. I didn’t get any pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving since the casino buffet didn’t have it. They had sweet potato pie which isn’t the same. So yesterday I made a pumpkin pie! This is the kind of stuff keeping me busy. Just day to day life, caring for Mom, cooking, washing dishes, selling things on Etsy, etc.

When we got home on Friday, an electrical breaker had thrown a week earlier and nothing had taped on our tv. That was so sad! I don’t watch hardly any tv on vacation because I like the break away from it. However, I love my tv and looked forward to coming back to it. We found a few of the shows on YouTube but some are just gone forever. Like the season finale of Dancing With The Stars! Nothing like watching all season and not finding out who won.

Aside from finishing all the holiday decorating, we still have to make a Christmas card. That’s another tradition I don’t want to break. We tried to take a pic of the dogs all together on the couch in the RV for a Christmas card shot. It turned out so terrible. I may end up scanning in a vintage Christmas card to send out. I love the old cards and never tire of looking at them. We also have to get Elvis to the vet in the next week or so for his vaccinations. Plus I’ve got so much laundry that if I don’t start it soon, we’ll be out of clean underwear. 😦 You can see where my priorities are. I’d rather sit here in dirty undies and blog than have clean ones and not blog. #kidding

I hope to get back here soon for a more thoughtful post instead of just rambling. A sign on the road on the way coming home read, “Rough road ahead Next 3 miles”. It made me think of something I made up years ago as a joke. I always thought it would be funny if there were real signs that pertained to everyone’s lives as they go along. Like “Rough life ahead Next 30 years”. Who knew then that jokes like that actually come true?! 😀

 

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2014 came in like a polar bear bringing massive snowstorms and sub zero temperatures. I grew up in NW Wisconsin where weather like this was no big deal. It was expected and dealt with with a minimum of whining. Since moving to IL 18 yrs. ago, it’s been many years since we’ve had a severe winter. Some years we get next to no snow and we’ve grown accustomed to bellyaching when the temperature gets below 20 degrees. Sunday morning we woke up to a foot of snow. Later that night the temps dropped like a stone and we woke up Monday Jan. 6th to -17 degrees below zero. (If I knew how to make the degrees sign on here, I wouldn’t have to put the minus AND write below zero. Oh well.) Actually, we woke up at 8:15 am to the electricity going off. Most people would sleep right through a power outage but my husband sleeps with a bi-pap for sleep apnea and when the electricity goes out, it shuts off suddenly and leaves him gasping for breath. There is no way to ignore it. So we kind of panicked. Obviously, we don’t like being without electricity anytime but when it’s dangerously cold (the windchills were -45 degrees below zero), it’s a whole different ball game. The furnace stopped and almost immediately the house began getting cool. We hadn’t even turned the heat down the night before because we knew it would be too hard to get back up to a decent temp. Hubby reported the outage to ComEd and the recording said 2 hours to restore. After an hour, he called again and signed up for their text message updates. He also turned on the gas fireplace in the living room so we’d have some heat. The next update said it was a downed wire and it would be 2 pm. Luckily, it came back before then but we still put up with it for a few hours.

Arctic Temps

Arctic Temps

We’ve gotten so spoiled now that ever being uncomfortable is not acceptable. When my 92 1/2 yr. old mom was growing up on a farm in MN, they didn’t even have electricity until she was in high school. No heat except a woodstove so it was almost like sleeping outside. You’d go to bed early under a thick quilt just to keep warm. It’s amazing anyone finished school back then. Who would want to do homework if they had to do it by candleight or oil lamp and were freezing?! Anyway, I’d be more tolerant of the power outage if we lived in the country, far from civilization. We live in a highly populated area and pay a fortune for utilities and everything else. When it came back on, I was half expecting it to go out again. We’ve had problems in the summer where we’ve lost electricity for 24 hours once and 3 whole days a few years ago. It’s another thing we’ve survived and lived to tell about.
Decorative ceramic molds from Italy

Decorative ceramic molds from Italy

I had such high hopes for getting things done while on “staycation”. Instead we did too much huddling under blankets looking at the Christmas lights and watching Netflix. I made a 20 lb. turkey with all the fixings on New Year’s Day. It was too cold to walk the dogs except for about 2 times. One day we played with them in the backyard and I took pictures. Hubby built me a shelf that runs the length of the wall in the kitchen above the sliding glass doors to outside. I needed somewhere to put stuff. It wasn’t like he built it and we filled it up over the span of a week. He built it and we filled it completely in about 5 minutes. I love it and need more storage solutions since the house is so tiny and my collections are getting so big. There were very few estate sales during that time but one we went to had a bunch of decorative ceramic molds from Italy. I had a few that I’d gotten like 6 months ago and was thrilled when I found these. We hung them in my vintage kitchen.
Tails wagging the dogs

Tails wagging the dogs

After the Packers won their Dec. 29th game and made it into the playoffs, hubby joked that he wondered if he could get tickets. Tickets went on sale at 3 pm the next day and about 5 minutes after that, he headed to his computer to the Ticketmaster site to see if he could get them. He yelled to me that he got in and should he get them? It was on a timer of a few minutes so I just said something like, “Sure, if you want.” I never know for sure what hubby will do. He’s much more spontaneous than I am. I plan as much of my life out as I can, weighing the pros and cons of everything. A thought just pops in his head and he acts on it. I guess that’s what makes us a good pair. We even each other out. 🙂 So he ended up getting 4 seats in the endzone. Section 104, row 46, seats 15-18. Ten years ago, we had taken his older sister Linda and her husband Ken to the playoff game at Lambeau Field. They had such a good time (as did we) that they still talk about it to this day. So we figured we’d ask them again. Linda had cancer (hairy cell leukemia) a little over 3 years ago. She did some heavy duty chemo and knocked it out. She’d been in remission until last fall. She did a different course of chemo and seemed to be better. Hubby called her right away to see if she could go. Due to the cold weather they were expecting at the game, she didn’t think her health could take it. She is going to the doctor’s this week to find out if she’s all clear so she probably wanted to wait until she got the go ahead to do things like that. We were disappointed but understood. Next hubby called his brother Brian and asked him if he and his son Mitchell wanted to go. They live in Green Bay and know all the shortcuts to the stadium and where to park, etc.
Our view of Lambeau Field

Our view of Lambeau Field

I really had no business going to the game. I hadn’t had time to think it through. As soon as I knew we were going, I started worrying non-stop. It’s a 3 hour drive from where we live to Green Bay so that’s 6 hours in the car. Then 4 hours for the game and back and forth to the stadium and dressing in layered clothing. The weather reports were forecasting a foot of snow before we left (which did happen) and made me think 3 hours wouldn’t be enough time to get up there with the snowy roads. They also said that it could be as cold up there as the Ice Bowl in 1967 when the Packers played in -13 below temps. Luckily that didn’t turn out to be the case. It was 5 degrees at kickoff with -10 below windchill. All week I was a bundle of nerves and I didn’t sleep the night before at all. Eek!
Me all bundled up

Me all bundled up

I could write 100 pages just on the fearful thoughts that went through my head. I hoped Mom would be fine if I was there to get her up in the morning and put her to bed at night. We got up at 8 am and did our usual routine. I made Mom 2 sandwiches and put each on a separate plate covered in saran wrap with a note on top: “This is your lunch. Sausage & cheese sandwich and cut up pickle. Eat after 1 pm. Yogurt also.” The 2nd plate: “This is your dinner. Peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Eat after 7 pm or when hungry.” I would’ve preferred to leave her a hot meal like soup or turkey leftovers but didn’t want her using the microwave. About 10 days before this happened, she stopped microwaving her coffee in the morning. She’s been drinking it cold! I asked her why. She said, “It’s too much trouble.” I don’t think she remembers how to use it anymore. It turns out she only ate her lunch. I asked her why, “I didn’t know it was mine. It could have been Greg’s.” I also wrote her a note I left on the kitchen counter about us being gone and when we’d be home. I said we’d try to be back by midnight but if we weren’t to stay up. Not go to bed. To sleep in her recliner in the LR with blankets on top. I also wrote her a note telling how to fix the computer if it gets fouled up when she’s playing her slot machine games. All week I’d been teaching her how to turn the tv on with the remote control. We weren’t going to have her do any channels, just turn it on and off. I wrote how to do that and taped it to the underside of the remote. It turns out she never watched it. She doesn’t remember things I tell her 30 seconds ago, why did I think what I told her before we left would sink in? 😦
Funky Packers Pants

Funky Packers Pants

I wrote on the kitchen note to let the dogs out as needed. I worried all week that she wouldn’t let them out at all and they’d crap all over the house and she’d step in it. Then I worried that she’d let them out and forget there are 3 of them and leave one out in the super cold weather and they’d freeze. We locked the front door when we left so she couldn’t open that by mistake and let the dogs in the street. I was worried the snow would delay us until like 6 in the morning. I was afraid the electricity would go out and she’d freeze home alone. I was afraid that we’d get in a car accident and get killed and no one would find her for who knows how long. Everything at home went fine and we made it home by 12:20 am. Mom was standing in the LR when we got home. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was getting ready to go up to bed. So we made it just in time! I ran over to her and hugged her and told her I missed her. As far as I know, she didn’t have any trouble with the computer while we were gone and the time passed just fine. The dogs were great, she had just let them out when we got back. They kept her company. I was so relieved that it went well but I don’t know if I’d leave her for that amount of time again. 14 hours was too much.
Insanity wears no clothes

Insanity wears no clothes

As for the game itself, we had an amazing time! The Sat. before the game, Greg & I went through our closets and found everything we’d need to bundle up for a cold game. I wore long underwear, a pair of colored jeans, a pair of sweatpants over that and some nylon rain pants. On top I wore my mom’s long sleeved turtleneck sweater and wool sweater vest. Plus my white coat, sheepskin hat, Mom’s scarf and 2 pairs of gloves. I fine the whole first quarter and then slowly more and more of me were getting cold. We’d brought something to sit on and blankets to put over us in the stands which helped. I had on 2 pairs of socks and my snowboots. My toes were the first on me to get cold, followed by the rest of my feet and my cheeks. By the last 5 minutes on the timeclock, even my legs were feeling the cold. I was worried about losing toes. Not because I thought I would but because there was a joke going around on Twitter, “I can’t believe I got Packers playoff tickets! And I only lost 6 toes!” I made sure I kept moving my toes inside the boots. Plus we were standing up and shouting a lot which gets the blood pumping. If there’s a once in a lifetime experience to be had, it’s going to a Packers game at Lambeau Field. I’ve done it 3 times now (1986, 2004, 2014) and it’s like nothing else on earth.
Sea of fans

Sea of fans

Even though San Francisco beat the Packers 23-20, it was a close game. We had great seats and could see everything well. Half the fun was people watching. The Green Bay fans are so hardcore and intense. They dress like idiots. All kinds of team apparel was worn plus there’s always one fool in the crowd that has his shirt off no matter the weather. My favorite part was watching this guy ahead of us, to our right. After first quarter, he took his shirt off and only wore a hat. Then he would put mittens on briefly and take them off. He made it until halftime topless and then put his shirt on. For about 10 seconds and took it off again! We were joking that his pants would come off next. He lasted through halftime and then disappeared. We figure he either passed out from drugs (it HAD to be drugs, I don’t think you can be THAT drunk!) or was in the ER. Back in 2001, Vince McMahon tried to start up another football league in the USA called the XFL (extreme football league). Hubby and I were so excited. One of the teams was the Chicago Enforcers and hubby got season tickets the first year. We were thrilled to get in on the ground floor of something. The games were Jan.-Apr. and the Jan. & Feb. games were very cold. There was a guy at every game ALONE who always was shirtless. No matter the temperature. Anyway, the turnout for the XFL was poor and it only lasted one season. The NFL was against it the whole time which didn’t help. Some people say they’re football fans but we really are!
Love & Football

Love & Football

Now that we’ve had almost 35″ of snow this season and 22″ since New Year’s, the news is forecasting flooding this weekend. Starting Friday there’s going to be several days of mid to upper 30’s in a row including lots of rain. Gah! Our basement floods when you look at it sideways so I don’t need to be worrying about this for the next week. We’ve been having such insufferable cold that just getting to 30 degrees would feel warm. It’d be great and it wouldn’t melt all the snow in one batch. But no, we need to go from one extreme to another. Looks like Mother Nature has her period again!

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A few weeks ago, we jointly made the decision that we were staying home for Christmas this year. To make this special, we are “making a Christmas.” This may not be a big deal for most people since they do it every year. For us it’s huge. It’s been YEARS since we decorated, put lights outside or put up a tree. We were happy not to overwork ourselves during the holiday and going away on vacation always solved that problem. I’ve always sent snail mail Christmas cards, knowing that if I ever stopped, I’d never start up again. So far, we haven’t made the cards yet, let alone addressed and sent them.

Festive out front

Festive out front

On Thurs. Dec. 5th, we happened to find several vintage sets of Christmas lights at an estate sale. They were all unused, still in the box. We took them over and plugged each set in to be sure they worked. Only 2 sets of the bigger old timey bulbs weren’t able to be checked and those turned out not to work. Oh well. We got a few dozen sets for less than $1 each. Most were the multi-colored that twinkle which we love. A few sets were white and several others were 3 way blinking lights. That night we made a galliant effort to start decorating. And by we, I mean my husband. 😉 It was already in the 20’s outside and he was out that Thurs. night hanging several strands of lights in the bush out front. Also in the tiny Christmas tree in our front yard. Hubby also put lights up the hallway banister, on the ship’s wheel on the landing and around the perimeter of the living room. He wanted to do more outside but the temps have dropped too much. Seriously, I’m frightened to see our electric bill next month after this Christmas extravaganza. I’m kind of like a scrooge in that it seems like such a waste of money to put Christmas lights up. Then I go back to my way of thinking that it’s ok if we go all out once every 5 years. At this rate, we’ve got another few times coming before waiting the next five years. It’s so festive and cheerful and lightens everybody’s mood. That has to be worth something!
Candy cane lights

Candy cane lights

Both Friday & Sat. Dec. 6th & 7th, I found a small vintage ceramic light up Christmas tree at estate sales! One is green, the other has “snow” on it. One has pointy colored lights, the other has flower lights. I’d never taken an interest in these before (due to not celebrating Christmas) and now I’m just wild about them. One of the trees had a cord that didn’t work that hubby replaced. It was also missing several of the flower lights. Who knew those would be so hard to find? Every craft store in the area either doesn’t carry them or has been sold out for weeks. Hubby found some on ebay that are colored birds which look great in the empty spots.

Baby light up Christmas tree

Baby light up Christmas tree

We tried to get a dyed poinsettia like we had last year when we took it along to Mississippi! Last year, Pesche’s Garden Center in Des Plaines, IL had every color you could think of in addition to the standard red and pinkish white. I had chosen a glittery teal one and it was freakin’ gorgeous! This year I wanted a purple one. Of course we stopped in and they only had the regular ones. They said we could pick one out and they’d spray it any color we wanted. I hate asking for things like that so we passed. We also looked at their flocked trees. They cost $280 and are so pretty. I never cared about those either but now I want one. Even the red is pretty and I normally hate red. Hubby said we should see if they have the stuff to do the flocking and we’d do our own. They said no, they have a special machine like a carwash that turns the tree and sprays it from all sides. Hubby said we might have to get our toilet brush out of the attic. The sales clerk had never heard that term for a fake tree. Then she said we could bring in our own tree and they’d flock it for us for $20 a foot. A 6 foot tree would cost $120. Sheesh. And it would still be the same old tree.

Snow topped ceramic tree

Snow topped ceramic tree

Friday night (Dec. 6th), I was in the basement and I hear hubby calling for me. I go all the way up to the 2nd floor to find him getting ready to get on the ladder to go into the attic. He wants me to hold the ladder. Well, first thing I noticed was he brought in the wooden ladder that had been outside sitting in the mud. There was mud all over the floor and stairs. I didn’t get mad since I knew I was lucky to have him help me. Then he gets up on the ladder and one of the rungs breaks and the whole ladder just CRUMBLES. The wood is rotted and the ladder is useless. So hubby takes it outside and then picks up the larger wood remnants on the carpeting. Then I vacuum and then clean the mud spots with Folex. It’s like a 3 stooges episode, only there’s only 2 of us. So I guess that’s Laurel and Hardy. Wah!

Trimming the tree

Trimming the tree

At that point we gave up for the night/weekend. We didn’t have another ladder that would reach the attic. We wanted to be done and enjoying it early. It felt like a sign that we shouldn’t put a tree up. I’m one of those people who read everything as a sign. So I was delighted when on Thurs. Dec. 12th, we found an aluminum ladder at the first estate sale we went to for $15! I took that as a sign to proceed. That afternoon we went outside and put up giant candy cane and peppermint candy lights on the Chrismas tree outside. We’d gotten those at the same estate sale and had never seen them before. Because that tree is so huge, it would take at least a dozen strands of lights to cover it. We ended up using 4 strands of the giant lights and it turned out cool. We would’ve used more but only had 4!

Garland & ornaments on

Garland & ornaments on

Then we came in and got the tree and boxes of decorations down from the attic. The fake tree from back in the day was in pieces in plastic garbage bags. We found the tree stand right away and while I was going through the boxes, hubby was trying to put the tree together. Except the rod in the middle that all the branches hang on was missing. He had already taken the ladder out to the garage so had to get it again when I reassured him that the ONLY place the rod could be was in the attic. He went back up and sure enough found it.

The artificial tree looked so bare with gaping holes in places even after we shaped it some. I was afraid it would look terrible but thankfully, all the trimmings covered up a multitude of flaws! When we finished, there was no way to tell that the tree had been imperfect. We have multi-colored blinking lights around the living room so went with solid white lights for the tree. If we had anything else blinking, one of the dogs might have a seizure. Plus I figured there would be enough color with everything else we’d add. I had some thin wire star garland in gold and red plus some gold bead garland. We put that on next and then the ornaments. Boy, our oranments are lame. When I was in college, my parents divorced and my mom left all the best old vintage ornaments for my dad. Stuff that would bring big money now. I never liked the stuff back then so I don’t miss it exactly. Mom ended up picking out some classic red balls back in the 1980’s and Greg had a ton of apple ornaments from back when he decorated a tree for the window of the sheepskin store he owned in the mid-1980’s. So we put all those on and that’s a ton of red. As much as I’m not keen on red, it does look good on a Christmas tree! We still had some other garland left we didn’t use. It would’ve been overkill. However, I realized I don’t have more than 2 “nice” ornaments. One is an angel and one is a jointed teddy bear. I don’t have any that make me look back on them and reminisce. I happen to love Christmas ornaments. We sell a ton of them online through our home business and I love really pretty ones. I’ve just never owned any myself. Now I know why.

We went out over the weekend and twice when we came back, Elvis had taken down one of the red balls and chewed it up to nothing. All that was left was a few crumbs of styrofoam. Ivy and Amber are 5 years old and don’t bother the tree at all. Elvis is only 2 yrs. old and he thinks everything is for him to play with. We put the tree on top of our African slate table in the front window. It showcases it nicely but is so tall that the tree topper won’t fit on it. It looks fine without a topper. Elvis won’t stay off the table and jumps up and stands under the tree. We got one strand of blue icicle lights at that same estate sale and we hung them at the base of the tree like real icicles hang. I’m so worried he’s going to get caught in there and pull down the whole tree. At least we didn’t spend a ton on the ornaments if they get ruined.

The final masterpiece

The final masterpiece

I’m trying to plan fun things for us to do while hubby’s off work. He has only 2 days and 6 hours of work left this year. Then 17 days off! 🙂 One project we have in mind is redoing our kitchen cabinets. Since our kitchen is tiny and we can’t afford a remodel, we are going to wash down the cabinets and replace the UGLY hardware/ handles/ drawer pulls with some lovely vintage porcelain and brass ones we got for cheap at an estate sale. Yes, we do most of our shopping at estate sales now. There’s almost nothing we haven’t boughten at them. I just know it is going to make a huge difference! There’s more to tell about the weekend but no time to do it. I’m not sure I’ll get to post again before the holidays but I hope so. I hope everyone has the best holiday ever, no matter how they make it! 🙂

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One good thing that happened while on vacation was for the first time ever, I got “gambled out.” Since we started gambling in the early ’90’s, I’ve always loved slot machines. So has my mom and Greg. It’s always been something we could do together that had a tinge of excitement. We always limited how much we’d spend at any given session and during a vacation. We’ve often run out of money and we’ve rarely won but we all still liked it. That love affair is over. Obviously, we’ve gotten away from it the past year and have only gambled like 3 times this whole year. Hubby and I replaced that thrill with going to estate sales where we actually come away with something to show for our time and money. We always chalked it up as an “entertainment” expense and since we don’t have kids, don’t go to bars or eat out very often, we figured we could afford to do it. We weren’t addicted because we could go weeks and months without touching a slot machine. But just the electricity of walking into the casino and hearing the flashing lights and bells and whistles going off sent adrenaliine coursing through my veins. I think the secret was getting away from it for a longer period of time. Now it does little for me. Mom gets the same thrill out of playing her slot machine games online. I don’t regret any time spent gambling, nor do I say I’ll never do it again. I’m sure I will for a few hours here and there. I just have to get away from the idea of taking gambling vacations.

That was the main draw of Tunica, MS all these years. Technically, the gaming region is located 10 miles north of the town of Tunica and was known as Robinsonville. In 2005, they changed the name to Tunica Resorts but most people just call it Tunica. 15 years ago, when we found the haven of 13 casinos a half hour south of Memphis, TN, we couldn’t get enough of it. Over the years, a few casinos have closed (now there’s 9) and others have changed hands. When we first started going, the comped meals and free gifts were free flowing. We used to get our entire stay (in the RV park) comped as well as all our meals. We only had to pay for gas and gambling money. In addition to free gifts (big and small), they had gifts you could earn and free turkeys and pies they’d give away at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a special place where magical things happened. Then everybody else found out about it. For many years the RV park would fill up on Thanksgiving weekend and they’d have to turn people away. This trip everybody must’ve seen the weather report for freezing cold and endless rain and stayed home. We were one of only a few RVs in the park. The last few years, they’ve only comped us 3 nights in a week or two week stay. We didn’t expect anything else this time but shockingly, they comped us all 8 nights! It took us so off guard. Between that and the free food, it was almost like old times. They had no free gifts and now you need so many points to earn a gift at the one or two places that offer them, there’s no way we can get that many in the short time we’re there.

Our first encounter with Tunica was in Nov. ’98 and we had such fun that we came back for Christmas that year. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had! We’ve spent a few more Christmases over the years, including the last few. We’ve also tried going there at other times of year like April, June and August. It was blazing hot, like stepping onto the sun. So we often end up only going twice a year and less than a month apart. It’s not ideal but it has its advantages. We remember which slot machines are the lucky ones, we know what we like to eat at each buffet, we get to see all the gorgeous Christmas trees go up. This year hubby has 2 weeks of vacation he has to use before the end of the year. We were planning to go to Tunica but now we’re thinking of staying home. It’s not even how hard it is to travel with Mom now. It’s that everywhere we could drive to would still be cold or have snow. Tunica has lost its luster due to our disenchantment with the South. I’ve always loved the friendly demeanor of southerners and their style of home cooking. It was always worth the ride just for that.

I can’t believe at one time we were thinking of moving down there! It was about 10 years ago. We drove down to Water Valley, MS (a few hours south of Tunica) and looked at a nice brick house with many acres of land. The house was super dark inside (walls and decorations) and just not my style. Hubby was enamored with the idea of owning land and not having nearby neighbors. There was even a large pond that we thought would be cool until we found out it was full of snakes! EEK. None of this really turned us off as much as the bumper sticker in the garage that read, “I’d rather be dead than be a Yankee.” I don’t know what you call it when someone’s against you not for your race or nationality but where you live. OMG. I have as good a sense of humor as anyone and if there was humor to be had in that statement, I’d have found it. Instead it just seemed HATEFUL. The other thing that turned us off is that the people who lived there weren’t showing the house. It was a handyman type guy who cuts their grass. I just kept getting the vibe from him like, “We’ve got a live one here. I need to reel in these Yankee suckers.” When I heard that it takes him and his son ALL DAY every Sunday on riding mowers to cut the grass at this place, that sealed the deal. I like gardening and don’t mind working in the yard some but I don’t want to be a slave to it. One seventh of my week is NOT going to be spent cutting the grass. No way in hell.

One of hundreds of piles

One of hundreds of piles

 

Littering FTW?

Littering FTW?

Amber hates garbage

Amber hates garbage

So even after that I wasn’t against all southerners. I’m still not but I am against pigs who litter and leave a mess for others. Behind the Hollywood Casino RV Park, next to the golf course, is a vacant field. We’ve been walking the dogs in it on every trip. There is literally nothing there but we’d walk around finding golf balls. This time when we got there, hubby went to check in and asked if they were expanding either the golf course or the RV park since there was a ton of stuff in the field. They said, “No, they haven’t cleaned up from the concert in October.” Well, in the 15 years we’ve been coming, they’ve never used this field for ANYTHING. Somebody had the bright idea to have a concert called Delta Country Jam there. It had big headliners like Tim McGraw and Kellie Pickler. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s WONDERFUL that they used that field. It’s a huge open space that would be ideal for an event like that. Too bad they RUINED it. It is FILLED with garbage as far as the eye can see. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I figured this concert must’ve been around Halloween and they’d had 3 weeks to clean up and hadn’t. Nope, the concert was Oct. 5-6 so it had been almost 2 months!! There had always been a dumpster in the RV park and it was now gone. There was no dumpster near the field and everything just sat in piles and randomly strewn around. It wasn’t just paper and plastic, it was metal, wood, indoor outdoor carpeting, tarps, you name it. It was cloth wristbands, banners, wood with nails sticking out, nuts, washers, bolts, screws, pipes, cardboard boxes and bags of garbage with food stuffs, rubber gloves, glass bottles, etc. It was ugly and not only did it spoil the landscape, all I could think of was the poor animals that go in that field like dozens of deer. How hard would it be to grab a dozen individuals and spend a few hours picking things up?! The fact that NO ONE cared bothered me the most. If they wait that long, I highly doubt they’ll EVER tend to it. Believe me, I understand the lazy, laid back mentality. It comes naturally to me and most folks in general. But to treat nature with that much disrespect is not what I was brought up to do. Hubby and I walked that field the whole week and did our part to make it better there. We were both so hopping mad at first about it, we wanted to get the media involved and bring light to this so they’d do something about it. Then I realized it’s not my place. I can leave and go home and not have to look at it. But I don’t have to like it and I don’t have to go back. I’m not convinced that if I singlehandedly cleaned up that entire field, they wouldn’t turn around and do it again. If I didn’t have so much else on my plate, I might’ve taken it further. But what do I know? I’m just a Damn Yankee.

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I left out so much from vacation and even now am going to quickly cover some of the things that happened. The first weekend we were in Mississippi (Nov.9-11), they had the First Annual Tunica Balloon Bash. It was hyped to the nines and we didn’t really know what to expect. Supposedly they were having 10 hot air balloons at 4 different locations (casinos) for a total of 40. They were having “balloon glows” on Friday & Sat. evenings for 2 hours. This is where they turn on the propane torches to light up the balloons while they are on the ground. It looks really cool! We were staying at Sam’s Town RV Park, across the street from Hollywood where they were hosting some of the balloons. Hubby and I walked the dogs over there and we both got some really good pictures and I put some of them on Instagram. They were supposed to be offering tethered rides on one of the balloons but it was too windy. This would turn out to be the case for the ENTIRE WEEKEND. It was basically a bust. Not only were there only about 4-5 balloons at each location, they seemed to be doing it half-heartedly. They didn’t even stay the whole 2 hours. The crowd seemed almost half-hearted about it too. There was a fairly long line for rides and when they announced it was too windy, people just dispersed and lost all interest. I wasn’t particularly excited about the whole thing ahead of time but being that close to them in person piqued my interest. I figured it was no big deal but after seeing how hard it was to control the balloons in the wind, it looked quite scary to me! I would be afraid to go up in one unless it was completely calm. Even then, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity again unless I seek it out. We drove over to the other casinos to see what they had going on for the balloon glow and it was even less! Either that or they’d packed up early.
 
There was supposed to be a balloon race on both Sat. & Sun. mornings and hubby and I actually got up at 7 am and went out to the location of the start of the race (Tunica National Golf Course). We took the dogs with us in the car over there and everybody was just standing around outside. Finally around 8 am, we asked one of the guys (Dan) who was heading to his truck and he said it was cancelled due to the wind. We didn’t bother going on Sun. morning but heard it was the same situation again. How disappointed the balloonists must’ve been! They had to bring their baskets and gear, only to not even use it. Sidenote: I would never be able to fold up one of those balloons after inflation. I can’t even get something back in the original box once I’ve taken it out. 😦 This Dan we met was one of the most friendly people we’ve encountered in the south. His father is a hot air balloon pilot and he’d come along. He does barge maintenance and repair. He’s the first one I met in that line of work. Anyway, he knew what a Basenji was (which is what our dog Ivy is) so that got the conversation going. Then we got to talking about other things in the area, etc. He gave us a business card and told us to call him that night about the balloon glow and that’s when we found out that it was too windy again. All in all, it was a creative idea and I can see the casinos and tourism put a lot of money into it. I would’ve liked to get one of the t-shirts but didn’t see them for sale anywhere! I’ll be curious to see if they try it again next year or nix it entirely. If it wasn’t for the wind, the temperatures were a perfect 72 degrees. If it’d been scheduled for the following weekend, it would’ve been in the mid-40’s!
 
This wasn’t the biggest disappointment while we were there. Saturday Nov. 10th there was a Chili Cookoff at Sam’s Town Casino sanctioned by whoever sanctions those things. It was supposed to be from 8 am until 5 pm. Every Sat. Hollywood has a breakfast buffet (the best around) for 77 cents (comp dollars). We were debating whether to skip it and go early for the cookoff. Who eats chili at 8 am?? Unless you’re working nights, that I can totally see. Instead we decided to go to the buffet early and then head over at 4 pm and still get an hour in at the cookoff. We got there and they were packing up!! It was $2 for all the samples you wanted. They woudn’t even take our money, and told us to go around and see if anyone had any left. We got 2 samples, one without beans (which to me is like gravy) and the other was stone cold. Blech! Hubby had been dreaming of this for weeks. That is one of my pet peeves that things are written/advertised everywhere that it goes until 5 pm and they don’t even stick to it. Maybe it’s our fault for coming at the tail end. This wasn’t 4:45 pm, it was exactly 4 pm. Also we noted how unfriendly a lot of these types of group activities are. The ones entering the contest don’t try to be friendly to patrons, they would rather be downright rude and carry on conversations with their competition. I’ve seen this at anything we go to where we are “outsiders”. Like a dog club activity. We aren’t members but the woman we got Ivy from has invited us to a few things. We went twice and you get there and if you don’t go up to talk to people, no one will approach you and welcome you. For goodness sake! I am not that way. I like to make others feel welcome and can’t stand to see anyone on the sidelines. In the past when we went to some parties for Greg’s work, if someone was a table alone while everyone else was playing darts or some game, I’d be the first to go up to them and chat. I’m sure the alcohol had something to do with it but it’s still in my nature.
 
Other notable things that happened on vacation? I was cleaning the wax out of the tube of one of Mom’s hearing aids with a toothpick and it broke off. Gah! I tried pushing it through with another toothpick and it broke off on top of the other one. No budging it. I panicked at first, then sat down and tried everything until I fixed it. I took the tube out of the aid and manipulated it with a fingernail until I worked it out. Crisis averted.
 
Before vacation my watch band broke. My other watch had a dead battery. So I was wearing Greg’s huge watch (he has 3). I didn’t even care how it looked but while I had the time on vacation, we went to the outlet mall and I got a new battery for the one and a band for the other. There’s a collectibles shop there that has an owner that looks like Santa. He’s always helpful and nice as can be. So put that experience in the plus column
 
The zipper on my silver grey Gloria Vanderbilt (my fave pants brand ever) pants broke. I’ve only worn them a handful of times. I was “saving” them for vacation. I don’t think they can be fixed. It wouldn’t be worth it to spend $10 to get them fixed when I think I paid $20 for them on sale. 😦
 
We got a dehydrator at the same outlet mall. We love the Kitchen Collection store there and always find something cool there. We’d been talking about dehydrating fruit, veggies and meat since getting a ton of beef jerky when we were in Michigan a few months ago. The one we got is a Presto which is made in my hometown of Eau Claire, WI. How ironic. This weekend I’ll get over to the library for a book of recipes so we can try it out. I especially want to do pineapple, bananas and papayas.
 
I’d add pictures to this post if it wouldn’t take me like 2 hours to do it. I just don’t have the time to spare right now. Thanks for hanging with me when I’ve been so scarce on here. 😉 BTW, I do realize I said “supposed to be” about a million times in this. “The best laid plans of mice and men” and all that jazz. What kind of plans do mice make, exactly? Bring on the cheese.

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I’m squeezing in a quick post before anymore time passes. We got home from our incredible Thanksgiving vacation in Tunica, MS on Friday night at 7 pm. We’ve been on the go ever since trying to do all of the things left undone before we left and trying to catch up with everything else we missed while gone. It’s exhausting. Enough to make us need another vacation! Luckily that will be happening soon enough. 😉
 
We’ve been going to the gambling mecca of the Mid-South since Nov. 1998 and have always had a wonderful time. We have to pay gas roundtrip for 600+ miles for the RV and whatever money we decide to gamble with. All of our nights in the RV park are comped (free) and so are our meals! It’s a wonder we go anywhere else. There are so many buffets to be had and we limit ourselves to one a day. OINK! They aren’t just buffets but a veritable food lovers paradise with gourmet foods, seafood, ethnic delicacies, etc. Something for every taste and palate. Unlike my mom and husband, I am not a huge meat eater. I might try a small portion but I founder myself at the salad bar and am thrilled to try soups of every possible type. This trip was the first time I tried egg drop soup and I loved it. I had it 3 times and it was delicious. My plate ends up looking white when I load it up. I told my hubby, I only seem to eat potatoes, bread and pasta. He reminded me I also love “anything covered in cheese”. I was carb loading like I was going to run several marathons. I’m also not a dessert person when I go out. I love homemade goodies but most of the buffets have nothing that rivals my own dessert creations so I’d rather pass. There was one place (Hollywood casino) that had peanut butter pie to die for! They also had cheese grits, bowtie pasta with chicken, bacon and blue cheese sauce. Gah! I could go on but I don’t want to torture anybody.
 
It was a very relaxing time. I packed a bookbag with 5 books that my friend Karen had sent me and some magazines. I love reading in bed but don’t usually do it except on vacation. I was really looking forward to it so I promptly forgot the bag at home. Boo! I had a couple free books on hubby’s ipad2 that I read but it wasn’t the same. I would’ve killed to have a couple magazines but can’t justify buying any (or any books) when I have plenty at home to read.
 
I had to buy my first package of adult diapers. (Not for me.) This was the first trip that Mom’s noticeably been worse. I had to pack for her and lay her clothes out. She’s not able to do things that she was just able to do a few months ago. She can’t sign her name well or cut her meat well. It is sad to me plus she’s not nearly as engaged or verbal as she used to be. We are going to keep travelling with her as long as we can. I hate when she can’t remember places we’ve been or things she’s done before. It’s taking a toll on me but I’m doing the best I can. When that movie “50 First Dates” came out, everyone loved it. I hated it immediately and will never watch it again. It was so sad, not a comedy to me in any way. To lose your memories has to be one of the most awful things in life. Hubby & I joke about us having Alzheimers’ since we can’t remember if we’ve seen a certain movie before or not. That all you need is one movie and every time you watch it, it’s like you’ve never seen it before. I think the worst part is I’m afraid I’m looking at my own future. There’s a good chance I’ll be the same way as she is, possibly even sooner than she was. I don’t have a daughter or anyone else to look after me….
 
Since we got home so late Friday, stupid cars were parked in front of our house. We couldn’t park the RV there, even for a few hours. We had to go around the corner and hubby had to disconnect the Jeep from the Blue Ox towing device and drive our stuff we had packed into the truck home. It went fairly smoothly otherwise. This is the first year Illinois has had a 65 mph speed limit on I-57 for trucks and recreational vehicles. For years, cars had a 65 mph speed limit and the others were restricted to 55 mph. I’m not much of a speed demon since I’m too afraid of getting tickets so I’d go 62 at most. Now with the 65 mph speed limit, I go 69-70. Just that 5 extra miles per hour adds up.
 
Anyway, I got on here specifically to talk about my town going downhill just since we left. Hubby ordered a pizza (with coupon) from Nancy’s Pizza on the south side of Park Ridge Friday night. He went to pick up a gallon of milk on the way to pick up the pizza. When he left Dominick’s parking lot, a couple (man & woman in mid-40’s) approached him. The man said he lived in an apt. in Des Plaines, IL and his roommate was drunk and hitting on his girlfriend. He wanted Greg to help them get a motel room down the street. Hubby was being funny and said he would call the cops to have them arrest his roommate. The guy said no, he didn’t want that. He just wanted Greg to get him a room. Greg said no and left.
 
On Sat. we were at Jewel getting a few odds and ends. It’s 9 blocks away so we go there often. A sketchy looking guy in his 20’s came up to us and asked for $2 to get his medication. He had a whole story memorized about how he’s not a bum, just is short of money for his meds. Hubby said no. Then we saw him approach at least 5 other people!! It totally skeeved me out. We joked that if we went around getting $2 from each person, we could get such and such in our cart for free. We should have taken him over to the pharmacy and found out if the story was true and what meds he was on (or off). All I can think of is that Park Ridge used to be one of the nicer suburbs in the Chicago area. It was somewhat affluent but not where the richest live like Lake Forest or Glencoe or even Winnetka. But it is a huge step up to me from even the neighboring towns of Niles and Des Plaines. At least it used to be. Now panhandling has come to nicer establishments and even inside. I give to charities when and where I can and don’t like to be solicited in any way, shape or form. But to have someone opening trying to scam us, makes me wonder what the world is coming to.
 
At Jewel, since Thanksgiving had passed, they had turkeys for 39 cents/ lb.!! To me, it tastes good anytime, not just on that day. So we got an 18.5 lb. turkey (that was the smallest) for $7.23 and I’m fixing it tonight. We’ll be freezing some and eating on the rest for awhile. I’d only ever made around 12-13 lb. turkeys before and this one barely fit in the pan! It’s ginormous! So I’ve got to get back to making mashed potatoes and everything else that goes with it. Such a busy time. I started the laundry but there’s so much, there really is no end in sight. Tomorrow I take Mom to the ENT doctor to have the wax removed from her ears. Hopefully, I’ll get back online to write a blog post soon. So much to say, so little time!

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Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. June 21 is the day we met 27 years ago and also the day we got married 20 years ago! The longest day of the year (Summer Solstice) is the most perfect day of the year to me. My favorite season is autumn but if I had to choose just one day, it is June 21st. Usually sunny, not too hot and the longest amount of daylight available before the sun sets.

 
Turning the clock back to 1985, it is hard to fathom the exact set of circumstances that had to take place (in addition to planets aligning just so) to meet my future husband. I was a young pup of 22 and working as a pizza cook at a bar called La Chalet. Pay attention, kids! This is what happens when you party in college and don’t study and flunk out. La Chalet had a great location on Pewaukee Lake in Pewaukee, WI. I took the job until I figured out what to do with my life. Obviously, I’m no longer there but still working on the figuring out my life part. I worked a lot of lunches and then worked at dinners until closing. We only served pizzas but we made our own dough which took time. On a weekend night by myself, I’d have to take orders, make and serve pizzas, collect money, give change, pick up dishes, etc. It wouldn’t be unusual to have 20 pizza orders I’d have to do one after another. I started in April and it had been 6 or 8 weeks since I’d had a Friday or Sat. night off by the time June 21 rolled around. It was a Friday night and I had off. I didn’t go to bars then but I was sick of watching everyone go there and have fun and I wanted to come back as a customer! I was quite naive and would give anybody a chance once. I tried to always keep an open mind about people because you never know. Well, during this time there was an ex-convict sniffing around me. He would always come back by the kitchen to say hi and talk to me. I was always friendly and even though he wasn’t my type (not because he was a murderer either), I was nice to him. He had me fix his pierced earring (get it back in his ear), take him to the gas station in my car to fill his gas can when he ran out of gas, etc. He kept asking me out and I’m not stupid enough to get in a car with someone I didn’t know. (I did that before to disastrous effect but that’s a story for another time.) So I agreed to meet him at La Chalet on Friday night. It wasn’t really a “date” but I’m sure he thought it was. This ex-convict (I keep calling him that because for the life of me, I can’t remember his name!) had been imprisoned for killing his father. The father had been abusing/beating his mother so it supposedly was to protect her. I wasn’t from that area of WI so hadn’t heard anything about it. The ex-convict seemed harmless enough.
 
So on that night, I met him there and we had drinks and not too long later I meet the FH (future hubby). I had a huge crush on the bouncer at La Chalet, he was a Big Guy (6’4″, probably 300 lbs, dark hair & eyes) and painfully shy. I think besides seeming like a softie, the shyness was a challenge. FH happened to be the cousin of Big Guy (whose nickname was Lumpy). That was the initial draw for me, I thought I might have an “in” with Lumpy. So FH and I spent until closing talking, drinking, etc. much to the chagrin of the ex-convict. He was really upset! I kind of feel bad for ignoring him but he could’ve joined our conversation… When it came closing time (which back then I belive was 2 am), FH & I went out to my car (parked on the street) and sat inside and chatted some more. We kissed some too but nothing beyond that. We sat out talking until 6 am when the sun came up! FH was the opposite of Lumpy, he was 6′ tall, 220 lbs., blonde hair, blue eyes, funny as hell and a great conversationalist like myself. 😉 I knew I had to get home so as I was getting ready to leave, FH handed me a small notepad and told me to write my name and number on it, I grabbed it and was going to until I realized what this meant. He’d been talking to me for the past 8-10 hrs. and  had forgotten my name. That is one of my pet peeves! I expect people to remember my name (at least it used to be, I’ve gotten more forgiving over the years). I called him out on it and he got huffy and left. I thought that would be the end of it. Of course, he knew where I worked and pursued me relentlessly. One of his finest qualities is knowing a good thing when he sees it! 🙂
 
FH came in for lunch one day and we talked a bit and he asked me on an official date. He promised he would never forget my name again and luckily for him, he hasn’t! Our first date was to Summerfest (billed as the largest music festival in the world) in Milwaukee. After that we were hot and heavy and by mid-August he had asked me to marry him. We didn’t announce our engagement until Nov. 2nd at a belated Halloween party. We were fully committed to each other after only knowing each other 4 1/2 months, yet we waited until 7 years after meeting to marry. The long engagement was due to financial reasons and if I had to do it over, I wouldn’t wait. However, when we finally married, I was as sure as anyone in the world could be! I had no doubt what I was doing was what I wanted to do and he was who I wanted to be with. We had fallen in love early on but the kind of love that lasts is the love that grows over time. By our wedding day, our love had multiplied 7 fold. And today after 27 years, it is 700 fold.
 
Set the time machine for 1992 and you’ll find us on June 21st in Nashua, Iowa. In the middle of nowhere (all of Iowa) in the NE corner of the state, lies the Little Brown Church in the Vale. The church was built in 1864 and the song “Come to the Church in the Wildwood” (a hymn later performed by the Carter Family, Alabama and Charley Pride) was written about it. After the 1920’s, it brought thousands of visitors from all over to get married there. The day we got married, we saw several other couples there who had been wed on that exact day 50 & 60 years prior. FH had been traveling through Iowa for business and found it. He knew I would like it so I agreed (sight unseen). I had originally wanted to get married on the french island of Martinique. I had been there before on a cruise and thought it was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen! I even wrote to the embassy and got the paperwork. It was not to be since I needed medical documentation that I was a virgin and that was asking the impossible. In rare form, my groom planned the whole wedding! It was very small, just the 2 of us, my mom and our Husky/Malamute mix dog Nookie. We rented a Lincoln Town Car and drove from Sussex, WI to IA. We stayed overnight at the motel next to the church. Then got married on a Sunday and after pictures, drove home. We stopped for our wedding dinner at The Gobbler Supper Club halfway between Madison and Milwaukee. It was the coolest place ever with a revolving floor. Sadly, it went out of business the month after we were there! The main thing I remember about our wedding reception was that the waitress couldn’t figure out how to open the champagne so my groom had to do it. The following Monday we headed to the airport in Milwaukee to catch our Midwest Express flight to San Francisco for our weeklong honeymoon. We rented a convertible and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to the vineyards. It was heaven!
 
We get along about as good as any couple I’ve seen. We are compatible in most ways like food, movies, tv, dogs, travel, gardening, etc. We have enough in common to keep us companions forever. Of course we are 2 different sexes which means we still see the world differently and communicate in different ways. We have never broken up even once since the day we met. We have never slept in a different room or bed because we were mad. We fight like cats and dogs at times. We tease each other a lot and he humors me. I go along with his wishes as much as I can. He likes to surprise me and I like to wait on him. For his sake, I didn’t buy a huge outdoor stone with the following words etched on it: “We’re staying together for the sake of the dogs” even though I found it hilarious! He is too sarcastic for my tastes and I have a weird sense of humor. Although we BOTH love Family Guy. Right after we met, I wanted us to have a song that would be “ours” like couples do. We had to choose “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. No, neither one of us is the jealous type but both loved Elvis and got a kick out of that song. Irony, people. My other song for us as a couple is Sonny & Cher’s “I got you, Babe”. I can’t be a babe in my own right so I married one! My hubby’s last name and also mine for the last 20 years is Babe. I’ve got to say I love it, it’s very cool. 😉
 
What has allowed us to last 27 & 20 years together? We don’t quit on each other or the relationship and we don’t give up. We have been through a ton of good and plenty of bad stuff as well. Meaning: we don’t throw in the towel when our basement floods for the first or 12th time. Just like the rest of life, there’s going to be times when one or both of us are unhappy. We work on our marriage or wait it out. Eventually, we always come back to happiness and always together. A perfect example of compromise and our marriage is that my hubby was willing to give soap operas a try. He watched Santa Barbara & Sunset Beach with me and occasionally watches Bold & Beautiful and Young & Restless. To return the favor, I took a class in scuba diving and learned about football. I didn’t do this halfheartedly, I became a huge football fan and we’ve been able to add that to our list of things we enjoy together.
 
To conclude, I’d have to say for those of you who haven’t found your soulmates, you have to look where you wouldn’t normally look. At the guys who you wouldn’t normally be drawn to. You can build a wonderful life with someone who wants the same things in life as you do and loves you to the moon and back. You can’t always see that person unless you’re willing to give the unexpected a go. I have to end this because it’s sounding like dating/relationship advice. I’m no expert and people have to do what’s right for them. Some people are perfectly happy being single forever! I think everyone deserves what makes them happy, whatever that may be.

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I was over at Jeez Louise’s blog earlier this week for her Eden’s Fantasy giveaway. She asked for comments telling about our best Halloween ever. As usual, I started writing a super long comment and decided that wasn’t the place for it. I kept it short (for me) and concluded I had better write my own blog post about Halloween.

 
I’m not exactly a huge fan of Halloween. As a kid I went to Halloween parties, dressed in costume, bobbed for apples, trick or treated after dark (on the night of the holiday), answered the door at home for the trick or treaters, etc. The usual stuff. My mom made my costumes and I remember being a witch a lot. I’m a witch a lot now but I don’t wear a costume. 😉 Things are definitely not the same now with kids trick or treating during the daytime, on a day that’s not even Oct. 31st. I trick or treated every year with my friend Kathy who lived less than a block away. We didn’t go to school together (she went to Catholic school) but played together all the time. Back then, you went out without parents or any adults along. You also went only in your neighborhood and only as far as you could walk in a set amount of time. You got your sack or plastic pumpkin full and you went home. The candy was safe and didn’t have to be inspected or xrayed for razor blades or foreign objects. Now kids are being dropped off in different neighborhoods by the vanfull. They fill their bags, drop them off and go out again to fill another bag. That’s probably what gets me the most: the greed. Kids think it is owed to them. We were taught that we didn’t get anything unless we said “trick or treat” and always had to thank the person giving out the goodies. Nowdays, the kids will hold out their bags without saying anything & at least half don’t say thank you. You hear complaints if they don’t care for the specific sugar rush you are handing out and if it’s their favorite, they ask for more! I’ve had that happen several times when they ask if they can have a 2nd one. I tell them to trade with their friend, which is what we would do to get what we wanted.
 
I remember being one of the kids who had to carry the small box around and “trick or treat for Unicef”. Each house would put a single penny inside. Even then I wondered how the few pennies could make a difference.
 
Years ago, Halloween was a scary holiday. The costumes were all made to frighten. Now there are as many “cute” costumes as scary. I never cared for giving out the candy at home. My mom was always working and my dad was home but he used to pawn the job off on me. I only trick or treated a few years, I’d say from ages 5 or 6 to 10. I started babysitting at 11 so thought I was too grown up to trick or treat. I kept running into the problem of answering the door and kids that were 15 (in 10th grade) trick or treating. They weren’t even wearing costumes but had a pillowcase for the candy. You were afraid to turn them down or they’d egg your house. That’s what you get when you live in a “tough” neighborhood. On the other end of the spectrum, now you get kids under a year old trick or treating. I realize the baby looks adorable and you want to show him off but if the kid can’t walk, he has no business trick or treating, let alone eating candy. The parents carry the baby up to the door and have a little bag they hold to put the kid’s candy in. There’s a good chance the parents are eating the candy themselves.

 
I think what bothers me the most about Halloween is that you’re not given a choice. It’s expected that you participate and I’ve always rebelled at anything I was told I HAD to do. It’s not the giving part that bothers me or even the expense. A lot of it is the inconvenience and how uncomfortable it makes me. I’m pretty unconventional when it comes to all holidays and want to give to who I choose and not be dictated to by society.
 
My Halloweens as an adult have gone from wild to tame. The best one was when I was in college in Madison, WI. My mom was with me and we walked among the throngs of revelers on State St. from the capital to the area by the university. It was so crowded it was just a mob that moved as a sea of bodies. A lot of people were dressed in ghoulish costumes but plenty were not. Anything went and it was a feast of people watching and mingling. The only costumes we wore were headband type things with antennae or eyeballs shooting off the top supported by springy wires. It was so fun! I don’t recall if at the time they allowed alcohol (beer in plastic glasses) but it wouldn’t surprise me. I went to several parties on State St. during other times of the year where everyone carried beers from one bar to another. The same went for block parties at other Madison locations. Anyway, that stands out as the highlight of my Halloweens past.
 
My husband’s older sister has been throwing an awesome Halloween party for decades. She goes full out with decorating her home inside and out and her and her husband’s costumes are always over the top. We’ve gone several times. Since we live 1 hr. & 45 min. away, it’s not that fun knowing we have to drive there during bad Sat. traffic, stay from 7-12 or so, not drink and drive home being so tired. We’ve tried taking turns drinking and the other one drives. It’s not fun riding in a car when you’ve got to pee bad either or if you’ve drank too much and everything’s spinning. We usually end up skipping dinner so we can leave at 5 pm, to get there by 7 pm. We like seeing everyone but neither one of us gets into dressing up. For one thing, I can’t see spending a ton of money on an outfit I’ll only wear for a few hours. I also can’t  handle spending a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to be. It’s not that I’m not creative but I just don’t feel inspired. If someone else wanted me to help them think up a costume or make a costume, I’d be really into it. But to do it for myself, no way. I can’t put my finger on why. I guess if someone just GAVE me a costume (that fit) every year, I’d wear it and be glad. I’d love a full body cow costume complete with udders. 😉 Hubby & I bought costumes a few years ago–a nun outfit and a prisoner outfit at Spencer Gifts. We took turns, the first year I was the nun, he was the prisoner and the next year the opposite. It was hilarious seeing my husband as a nun! We’ve also been fishermen, a TSA agent, a blind person, etc. Whatever we can be without spending a ton of money.
 
Our very first Halloween together was also our engagement party. My hubby had been cohosting a Halloween party with a friend of his for a few years and we decided to combine it with our celebration. We went as an engaged couple! He had his best friend from college and his girlfriend come for the weekend. They wore a combined 2 person costume where they were literally side by side in the same suit. Greg drove my car at the time, I sat in the passenger seat & the suited couple sat in back. When I got out, I slammed the door and the girl in back had put her hand over the piece of metal that framed the car and divided the front from the back. She was trying to get leverage to pull herself out but I hadn’t noticed. My head was in the clouds with all the excitement, I had shut her hand in the door. Obviously she shouldn’t have put her hand there but I felt TERRIBLE. The door was locked and it took a minute for hubby (who had the keys) to open his side and pull up the knob to open the door. Needless to say, we ended up taking her to the ER at the hospital instead of the party. Nothing was broken but we spent most of the night in the ER. I think we might’ve made an appearance late into the night at the party but only for a few minutes. That’s the worst Halloween in my memory bank.
 
Some other fun Halloweens were when hubby and I first got together. A year or two after the debacle above, I went as Mrs. Butterworth. A younger, hotter version of Aunt Jemima. I wore a short black wig, brown face paint, a brown dress to the floor, etc. Everybody knew who I was which made me think it was a success. This is in the days before political correctness. The following year I went as Oprah (her early fat years). Shockingly, I really did look like her once I dressed up like she did. Those were the most fun costumes. My other favorite costume was a toga made by just wrapping a white bed sheet around you to look like how the Romans dressed. I love any excuse to wear a toga. They’re sexy.
 
I love looking at others’ Halloween decorations and admire them for their creativity. When we first moved here, I went all out decorating inside the house for all holidays. Somehow it got to be too much trouble for me to bother with. The holiday comes and goes so quickly and I hate putting decorations away. It’s easier to just not put them up. I don’t know if it’s laziness or me being cynical. It just seems like in the long run it doesn’t make a difference if you do or don’t. I wish I could get enthused to start decorating again.
 
I’ll be giving out the candy this year for trick or treat since hubby is working on Monday from 3-8 pm. Hubby says he doesn’t mind giving out the candy yet somehow he is always either working or away on a business trip. The 5 hours it goes on makes me feel like it’s 5 hours I can’t get back. We don’t have a doorbell now (long story) but when we did, it would put me so on edge to have it rung like mad. I feel like I can’t start anything because the munchkins will come along. So if the weather’s nice, I get Mom to sit outside with me on the step and we chat inbetween giving out candy. I’d love to have the dogs outside with us but so many are afraid of dogs. We usually get over 100 kids and it’s all spread out over that time. After an hour or two of that, we come inside and I stand by the door until my nerves give out.
 
I want to wish all my internet chums a Happy Halloween however you choose to celebrate it! In the comments, please tell about anything Halloween related: your best or worst costume, your favorite Halloween, a nightmare of a Halloween, if you enjoy giving out Halloween candy, etc. Oh, and by the way, get off my lawn! 😉

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