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Posts Tagged ‘#vacation’

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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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We were up in Green Bay, WI on vacation from Sept. 9-17th. It was a really great time with only 2 bad incidents. We took Mom out gambling every single night which hasn’t happened in many years. She was all game since she didn’t have to walk over and was pushed in the wheelchair. We played with her at the slot machine, put money and player’s card in for her and told her repeatedly which button to hit. We ate all our meals in the RV this trip and I didn’t mind a bit. We got out to our usual haunts up there for treasure hunting and even found a few new ones. I need to write a whole blog post just about the antique stores we went to and the great stuff we saw! Besides memories, we came home with a few things we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives.
We got home on Sat. Sept. 17th at 2:30 pm. We weren’t able to park in front of our house (just to unload) because there was a giant hole on the opposite side of the street. If we’d parked our RV in front, no one would be able to get by at all. So we parked around the corner and had to bring Mom home in the wheelchair. We also had to make several trips with the wheelbarrow to bring our clothes and food home. On our door was a red tag and a blue tag plus some paperwork. The city had torn up the street because of a water main break on the 14th. At that time, they had hit our gas line from the street to the house. Just ours! So they had shut off our natural gas service and put a new device on the front of the house. They needed to move the meter from the basement to outside by the front door. It said to call so we did and they said they would send someone out in 2 hours. This caused Greg to have to wait to take the RV to Elgin, IL where we store it. When the technician finally came, he said he couldn’t do it that day and someone would come on Monday. This went from an inconvenience to a pain in the ass to a nightmare! I took some time on Sunday to clear away a huge area by the gas meter so he’d have plenty of room to work. He had asked what time on Monday I wanted him to come, I said between 9-9:30 am. So I was up by 7 am so I could get Mom dressed and fed and set up at the computer before he arrived. All I could think of was if he showed up while I was busy with her, he’d have to wait and they just don’t wait. So I was a nervous wreck waiting. You really can’t do anything else because you have to be available. When he hadn’t arrived by 10:30 am, I called Nicor Gas to find out if they were still coming. She said yes and that it would be by noon. That he shouldn’t have told me a specific time. To make a long story short, I called again in mid afternoon and she said they were dealing with a bunch of emergencies. I could see if it was bad weather and a tornado had taken down lines or houses but this was a gorgeous day. She said a lot of construction crews were hitting gas lines plus homeowners were too when digging in their yards. I told her if someone was digging and hit it, I could see them letting him wait a week. There are constantly ads saying don’t dig in your yard without calling to find the lines first. Here we were without gas through no fault of our own. After being out RVing, the first thing I wanted was a hot bath but no hot water.


The woman on the phone told me he was on his way. So I waited and at 10 minutes to 4 pm, a guy showed up. He didn’t know anything about it and said he didn’t do that kind of work. He was here a half hour and needed to go downstairs to look at the meter and make notes. I told him to take pictures with his phone and he had to go get another phone out of his truck. He tried calling his 2 supervisors and neither answered. So he said he would email them that night and find out when someone would be coming. He gave me his personal phone number and told me to call him mid-morning the next day. I figured I’d ring him at 9:30 am. So at 9:15 am, without any warning, the guy from Sat. shows up! He was here just over 2 hours and left a mess on the floor from drilling but otherwise, we got our service back after being home 3 days without it. We’d been eating microwave leftovers since I couldn’t cook on the stove. Now over a week later, the city has finally showed up to start filling in the hole in the street. It’s enough to make us long for the simpleness of vacation. Luckily, we’ll be leaving again in 9 days! 🙂 I was so proud of the dogs. They do great having strange workmen in the house. Elvis barks some and follows them around but Amber and Ivy ignore them after initially checking them out.


We went to 2 estate sales on Sat. Sept. 24th and I met a woman I hope to become friends with. She’s in her 80’s and has been going to Naomi’s estate sales for over 20 years. Her name is Ruth and I immediately felt a bond with her when we’ve talked before. I’ve been mistaken so many times when I feel a friendship towards someone and apparently it’s not reciprocated. Aside from passing pleasantries, I don’t have long conversations with people unless we’re friends or I hope to become friends. Not everyone feels this way. I’ve had 1-3 hour conversations with people who never speak to me again when they see me. Saturday Ruth and I got to have a longer chat. I found out her mother will be turning 110 on Oct. 16th! She’s still sharp as a tack and lives alone in her own house. This just floored me. I’ve never heard of someone living that long. I didn’t even know that was possible. I want to meet this woman in the worst way. If we weren’t going to be on vacation then, I’d invite myself to her birthday party! It would be such a gift to me to be able to ask her questions and find out about her past and learn firsthand about the history of 100 years ago. My dad always wanted to live to 100 and he died at 74. My mom didn’t say she wanted to live that long but it looks like she could… Here’s a pic I took of her last week at age 95 years, 5 months. Now I’m thinking living to 110 could be a good thing if you have all your faculties and are in good health. It’s good to have goals. 😉

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I find myself in the same place every time I write a blog post. With too much time elapsed and too much to say. So much has happened and there’s too many words to squeeze into one blog post. There’s also no time to do multiple posts. So what do I do? Just dive right in without a care for length or coherence. Grab a life preserver so you don’t drowned.

Since I last wrote, my 10 year old Toshiba laptop finally died. It was about a month ago and it wasn’t even that upsetting. I never back anything up. Crazy, right?! A lot of stuff on our phones goes automatically to The Cloud for preservation. My laptop would have to manually be backed up and I’ve never gotten into the habit of it. I’m sure I’ve lost a lot of things that I probably don’t know I had or didn’t know I would ever need. The first few times I lost everything on a computer, I was devastated. I thought my life would never be the same. I was turned off computers to the extreme and didn’t feel they could be trusted. Now it’s happened so many times, it’s like the basement flooding. It sucks but you just deal with it and half expect it to happen.

Today is the first day I’m using an HP laptop that my husband got over 2 years ago. It had the Windows on it that everyone hates. My husband was trying to lure me away from my old laptop before it went. As anyone who knows me knows, I love what I have and hate change. So I wouldn’t even think of using this one until I had no other to use. It takes me forever to get used to new things and I’ve been dreading actually pulling this out to use. Hate is a strong word but I kind of hate it. The keyboard placement is all wrong so my hands don’t sit right when I type. I’m used to typing very fast and not looking to see where my  hands are. Now I’m making so many mistakes and concentrating on typing instead of what I want to say. But instead of complaining,I’m going to be thankful for having a computer to write a blog post on. I’ve been missing my blog so much. Just bear with me if the font is huge or the paragraphs are off. This is going to be a necessity to learn since I have to figure out how to do Etsy on it, too.

The end of April we took Mom to the audiologist for her new ear mold which didn’t help a bit. It fits better but she doesn’t seem to hear any better or comprehend what is said. I’m sure that’s more from the Alzheimers than anything else but I had to try. Same with taking her to our regular doctor on April 28th. He said she looked good and I was doing everything right and just keep doing what I’m doing. He listened to her heart and lungs and looked at her ankles to see if she was retaining fluid (she wasn’t). He said the organs begin to slow down with Alzheimers and they begin to fail 7-9 years after initial diagnosis. Mom was diagnosed not quite 4 years ago so the thought that this could go on another 3-5 years gave me a wake up call. After her doctor’s appt. we went out to eat for the first (and only) time this year. We went to Sweet Baby Ray’s for barbeque and she ate her whole meal and loved it. This is never a problem since she’s always had a hearty appetite. She made such a mess of her hands and face which is typical of her eating anything now.

We went on vacation to Green Bay, WI from May 12-21. Hubby wanted to go early and miss the crowds that go out for the Memorial Day holiday. We had about 4-5 days of unusually cold weather and then the rest was beautiful. Due to having the wheelchair for Mom, we took her with us all 4 times we went gambling that week. We actually had more fun doing it than we have in awhile. A lot of the time we all played one machine together. Mom tends to hit the MAX BET button by accident so we have to watch her like a hawk. The last night we were there, she fell asleep while we were gambling. She talks less all the time and when she does speak, it’s gibberish, not in full sentences. It was much easier to push the wheelchair in the casino so now I’ve figured out it’s the sidewalk and street that make it hard to push, not that I’m weaker than I thought.

Mom has gone down hill just in the 11 days since we got home. She’s pulled down the towel rack in the upstairs bathroom and hubby glued it back on. We had to take the one in the downstairs bathroom down all together since she kept knocking it down. Mom fights me everytime on the toilet. She no longer knows what the bathroom is for! I told that to Greg and he said, “She thinks it’s the room you go in to yell at her.” That is so true. I don’t like to yell but between the hearing loss, the Alzheimers and how easily she’s distracted, there’s no choice. She can fiddle with the drawstring on her pants forever or fold and refold the toilet paper until my patience runs out. When I take Mom to the toilet, she doesn’t pee on it at all anymore. No matter how much I yell, plead or beg, she won’t pee. I even run water but nothing helps. She’ll go on the couch or in bed or in her chair or as she’s walking. It doesn’t matter if I take her earlier or later, it’s the same. So far, she has bowel movements mostly in the toilet. I have to bend her over on the toilet to have her stomach push out whatever’s ready since she won’t. The doctor tried to explain to me how her mind no longer reads her body’s signals and her body may not be sending signals anymore. Anyway, she fights me as I try to bend her over and she pushes on the wall in front of her and I am leaning on her with my hands on the wall behind her pushing with all my might. This stubborn old woman is stronger than me! I’ve tried explaining sweetly why she has to bend over but it does no good. I still need her to bend over so I can wipe her butt, too. This ensues another fight. Lately, I feel like I’ve gone 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather (famous boxer). I am battle worn and don’t see a way out. I don’t think they’d be able to care for her better in a nursing home but I find myself getting so upset I’m afraid I’ll stroke out.

Yesterday I came downstairs from taking a bath to find a big turd on the kitchen rug. At first, I couldn’t tell if it was from a dog or a human??? If that sounds familiar, it’s because in the past it happened in almost the same place and was human. This time  it was from Ivy, our basenji dog. Mom rarely gets up unaided so she will be wherever I leave her until I come to move her. In any case, I took a pic of it to message to Greg but ended up posting it to Instagram instead where it got very few likes. I was surprised to see there’s a hashtag #mylifeisshit. That’s what my life has been reduced to but I guess people don’t have to like it… 🙂

We had a pretty good vacation since our expectations were low. I had done a lot of cooking before we left and so we ate leftovers in the RV all but one night. We got beef lo mein from Noodles in the casino and brought it back to eat. We read some in the RV and I finally finished The Mutiny On The Bounty trilogy from 1932. It was scrumptious! We haven’t gone to any estate sales in our area for over a month. We did hit one while on vacation and also went to our usual treasure hunting haunts in the north woods.

We’ve had so much to do since we got home. Between laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cooking and yard work, there’s not been a spare moment. On Thurs. May 26th, we went to Sears in search of an 11.5 ft. offset umbrella for the deck. We’d seen it online but wanted to see it in person before purchasing. We had bought one about 10 years ago from Sam’s Club and it was glorious! Made of heavy wood with a stunning green canvas, it lasted intil last year. It’s much too hot to enjoy being outside without the shade it gives. A decade ago we paid $300 and it was worth every penny. The umbrella we ended up getting was $300 also but is just “ok”. It was on sale down from $500 but it seems inferior. It is made of metal and plastic with an almost opaque fabric in a blah tan color. That’s the only color it came in. Since it was the start of the holiday weekend, we knew we had to get it Thurs. or they’d be gone. They showed 2 in stock but had sold one that morning so all they had was the display and they weren’t selling. So we had to buy it and drive to another store to pick it up. They no longer will send it to the store of your choice for pickup. So we went and got that and Greg was able to get it assembled before nightfall. I also got a pair of slippers and Greg got a pair of much needed sandals. I got to thinking how everything we’ve ever boughten at Sears is just ok. Never anything we’re in love with. Just something to get us by until we can find what we really want. That’s pretty sad. Somebody needs to put a fork in  Sears because they’re so done…

Thurs. we also went to Pesche’s to get our plants. We bought 2 cucumbers (different types), 13 tomatoes (4 types), 30 peppers (5 types), zucchini, yellow squash and 4 herbs. Then we had to come home and weed the garden and then get the rototiller out. Meanwhile it was raining off and on all weekend. Not much or long but enough to keep us from spending much time outside. Friday we started the actual planting and finished up on Saturday. This is the latest we’ve ever put in the garden! Everything looks great and has already grown quite a bit. To me, that’s half the fun–seeing the plants soar to the heavens and produce such lovely goodness. The other half is eating them. I also picked my rhubarb and have to do something with that shortly.

What else has gone on lately? Sat. May 7th I dropped my iPhone in the toilet! I wasn’t even using it, just had it in the too short pocket of my shorts. I was pulling my pants up and it fell out and splash. I reacted quickly and grabbed it. It was barely wet and I put it in rice immediately. I left it overnight and then took the case off and cleaned it thoroughly. It’s worked fine ever since. It just goes to show no matter how careful you are, things like that happen to the best of us. And the worst of us! 😉

May 7th we also went to the library book sale in our hometown of Park Ridge, IL. They only have it twice a year and it’s always worth going to. I think about it for weeks ahead of time and look forward to it. It’s funny how that day I forgot all about it until noon! I was at home and I saw a pic of some book on Instagram and the person said they got them at the library book sale and I was like, “Was that today?! Holy smokes!” So we ended up getting a few things even though we have too many books already. Part of my joy lately is that I’ve gotten Greg back into reading. He is enjoying it like he hasn’t since hew as a teen! It’s so relaxing and turns out to be a good stress reliever and way to unwind for both of us.

I’ve rambled long enough to scare everyone away all over the Internet and within a hundred mile radius.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Today is a day of recovering from our vacation. We got back yesterday afternoon and things went about as well as they could under the circumstances. No devastating accidents with the RV or Jeep. No physical illness for any dogs or people. We had the best weather that money can’t buy! It was like Indian summer the whole week. It is expected to be beautiful at home here this whole week too. The summer we never had. 🙂

We took it easy and slept in most mornings. We ate every meal for the 10 days in the RV. Twice we got carryout of barbequed chopped beef brisket from Joe’s Texas BBQ in Green Bay. Otherwise we got some ground beef from Maplewood Meats and made hamburgers on the George Foreman Grill. We hit 2 cheese factories so we came home with plenty of good cheese we can’t get in Illinois. Mom didn’t want to go along on any excursions so we set her up on the couch in there and she watched tv, played games on the ipad or browsed through magazines while we were gone. The dogs kept her company.

The highlight of our trip was apple picking the day before we left. We got 2 bags of Honeycrisp apples for eating and a bag of each of the cooking apples–Courtland & McIntosh. It was the perfect temperature to pick apples and they were as lovely as can be for surviving the past year of crazy weather.

We also did some treasure hunting which we spread out over the week. We hit 3 Goodwills, 1 Salvation Army and 1 antique store in Green Bay and 2 antique malls in Appleton. We found some amazing goodies that it will take us awhile to get hung up all over the house. My new favorite obsession is religious art.  I can’t put my finger on why it struck a cord with me at this point in my life. In the past, I wouldn’t have glanced twice at it. Now I find it mesmerizing. In the future, I’ll do a blog post with pictures of some of my favorite pieces.

I didn’t take any pictures on vacation which makes it almost not seem like vacation. If you don’t have visual proof, did it happen?! 😉 My iphone4 is completely maxed out on memory. I had to delete a bunch of apps (& I don’t have that many to begin with) just so I could do an update for our online banking app. It wouldn’t let me go  into it until it had been updated. So I was stuck getting rid of things so I could get online to pay bills! Yikes. I guess that’s one of the things on my agenda is to get a new iphone. Trying to decide on the iphone6+ or going with iphone5.

We stayed outside of the Oneida casino and actually did get to go gambling a few times. We took Mom along every time and we all played next to each other. After trying this and finding it too annoying having to feed money into both her slot machine and mine, we started playing on the same machine together. Surprisingly, it was actually fun! I let her have the main seat and I pulled up a stool next to her. I fed the money in and we took turns hitting the spin button. I didn’t mind if she hit the button more often which happened a lot. I’ve never seen anyone play as fast as she did. If I didn’t watch her, she’d hit the “Max bet” button or “collect” by accident. It was nice that we were able to get her out in public several times over the course of the trip.

We didn’t gamble on the weekend and instead we relaxed as much as possible. We sat in the RV with all the windows open and read antique books! That’s another thing I never cared about before and now I just love them. It fascinates me to think a book made of paper can survive to be over 100 years old! It has given me the idea for a fiction book I want to write if I ever get time. I might have to make time for it since even hubby thinks it’s a fabulous idea!

Last month there was a multi shop sale on Instagram for vintage sellers. It was the first one and I did it even though I only had time to put on about 10 things. 54 shops participated. Tonight there’s one for this month and I didn’t even bother signing up. This time 90 shops are participating. I knew it would stress me out to try to get things photographed, measured, weighed, etc. in time when we’d be gone beforehand. I could’ve worked on it while we were away but then it wouldn’t have felt like vacation.

This week is going to be busy. Tomorrow I’m giving Mom her bath. Tues. I’m taking her to the ENT doctor to get the wax removed from her ears. The girl that usually works on the hearing aids left in March! I was so shocked. We’ve been going to see her for over 9 years. So now someone else is going to check her hearing aids after the appt. Hopefully we won’t have to come back again but you never know. Wed. I’m taking Amber to the vet for her vaccinations. Elvis has been battling allergies on his feet for 2 months now. I had to pick up more cortisone pills to take with “just in case”. He had a flare-up just before we left but after a few days, it cleared up. Now that’s he’s home, I can see it’s going to be coming on again.

As much as we enjoy our short roadtrips to our home state of Wisconsin, we’re happy to be back below the cheddar curtain! 🙂

 

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We left on Thurs. June 26th for a 9 day vacation to Green Bay, WI. I had hoped to escape my day to day life & problems and come back refreshed like you’re supposed to after a vacation. Alas, that was not meant to be. The trip to GB was only a 3 1/2 hr. drive and we were lucky enough to find an open RV spot behind the casino. They charge $15 a night and for that all you get is electricity. It used to be free but they had people living there for over a year and never leaving so I can see why they had to make some changes to the rules. We took things very easy due to Mom’s limitations. We took her with us to gamble once a day for a few hours. When we did other things like go to the cheese factory, meat market and antique mall, she wanted to stay in the RV and rest. So she played games on the ipad and the dogs kept her company. We made sure we were never gone for too long. We cooked all our meals except one in the cabin (what I call the RV). The 3 of us went out for a fish fry at a bar in DePere the day after we got there and it was pretty flavorless. Since we knew we’d be there over a week, we only bought a small amount of cheese and meat that would last us through the weekend. We had plans of going back to the meat market and getting a bunch of meat to take home the next week. We also were counting on hitting the bigger cheese factory for some cheese to take home. Not to mention we had hopes of going strawberry picking while up there. Even a return visit to the antique mall whose prices were so much cheaper than where we live was on my mind.

None of this came to pass. The first 4 days were pretty uneventful. When Monday came we knew the end of the week would be super busy everywhere due to the July 4th holiday. There’s a ton of construction going on in GB now. Trying to save ourselves some grief later in the week, we looked up a place to dump the RV’s waste tanks. We knew we had a couple days before it was full but didn’t want to find out the hard way that they’re full. One trip we had stayed in an RV park in Michigan and they had everything at the site but a dump. That time, we thought we could wait until the day we left to dump (which would have been convenient). Instead the night before, water from the grey line (not the toilet, the sinks) came backing up in the bathtub. From washing dishes too much! Not a lot of water, just enough to let us know we had to empty it immediately. Anyway, this trip, the dump site was not on the property and quite a distance away across town. With the construction, it took us about 20 minutes to get there. It was actually an RV dealer and there was a line. We had to wait about half an hour for the folks ahead of us to use it first. While we were there, we decided to get propane. We had probably 2/3 of a tank already but figured if we ran the refrig. on the way home with a lot of food in it, we didn’t want to take the chance of it running out. So we got that filled. Things went better than we expected since we’d been dreading it. It was great to have it over with and know we wouldn’t have to leave our site from Monday afternoon until Sat. when we left to come home.

Or so we thought. We got back to our site and hubby plugged in the electrical and only a few things worked. The microwave and outlets worked but the slideout (which is the room that expands to make way for a bed in the LR area), the jacks and the refrig. didn’t. This made NO sense. Everything had been in working order when we left earlier that day. We were in the same site with the same plugin and yet: nothing. The refrig. works off of either propane gas or electricity. When we’re driving, we run it on propane, when in a campsite, we run it on electricity. Now it wouldn’t run at all on either one! It boggles the mind. Hubby looked and saw one of the fuses was blown. He tried putting in one from a different area and blew that. Then he went to an auto parts store and bought extra fuses and came back and started blowing those. It’s some electrical problem that can’t be fixed by mere mortals. It has to be something more complicated that someone who went to weeks or months of schooling on RV repairs has to deal with.

Hubby was so mad, I couldn’t even talk to him. We had to regroup and come up with a new strategy. We called the RV dealer we got the propane at first to see if they could take a quick look at it and help us out so we could stay the week. They said they were booked up until July 14th! There was no way we could stay since all our food would spoil if we didn’t go home immediately. Hubby had to go in to the casino and see if he could get a refund for the unused nights we’d paid for. They usually don’t give refunds but said they would take care of it the next day. I’ve had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since then that nothing will come of it. I’m having hubby call the credit card co. tomorrow to see if they ever did credit us the $75.

It was lunch time so we quick ate some cottage cheese and headed on our way home. We had no bread and our first stop that day was going to be a bake shoppe. We scrapped that idea and left in time to get home about 6:30 pm. Ok, so our vacation was cut short. We won’t even talk about how we wouldn’t have had to go to the RV dealer to dump or get propane if we knew we were leaving. Or that if we’d stayed plugged in all along, it may not have happened at all. Here we were trying to save ourselves grief by taking care of things early and then it backfires. There’s nothing like packing a ton of extra clothes when you think you’re packing for 9 days when it’s really only 4! I kept telling myself that we can adjust and make the rest of it a “staycation”. Just be at home and do some fun things we don’t normally do. We took both weekends off from going to estate sales so we were looking to do something else exciting.

We were lucky that the spot in front of our house was open to park and unload the RV. I wouldn’t want to cart everything from around the block (which we’ve had to do before). It was super hot and muggy and then it started to rain. Rain is no big deal for people who’ve never had their basement flood. When I heard how hard it was raining, I started to panic. I was on edge and checking the basement every 10 minutes for water coming in. Hubby was checking the street and saw it flood all the way across. That’s always disturbing. One of the sewer drains by the curb (not at the intersection but a bit away) is clogged. We’ve tried opening it ourselves with a rake handle but it won’t work. We’ve also both called the city more than once about it and they’ve never done anything. About 10 pm, I was down checking the basement when I literally saw the water coming in by the standpipe, up the drains of the laundry tub and near the foundation. It comes in incredibly fast and I called to Greg to come down and start the sump pump immediately. Meanwhile, I picked up everything I could that was on the floor and carried it upstairs. I know most people think “just don’t put anything on the floor if you know this happens”. Well, that’s just not an option. We just don’t have room. Maybe we have to buy some baker’s racks to put everything on. We were up until almost 2 am waiting for the rain to stop. When the road went down some, we were able to open the standpipe and the water drained out. It was all clean rain water. No garbage or dirt or sewage like we’ve had happen before. Things could have been a lot worse. If I subscribed to “everything happens for a reason”, I’d think that’s why we had to come home early, to be there in time to catch the flood before anything was ruined. But I don’t believe in that at all. If I did, what, pray tell, would be the reason we needed to flood in the first place?! 😦

No one needs that kind of excitement. Especially us on the very same day we came home early from vacation due to an emergency. The next day, hubby took the RV back to the storage place in Elgin since we can’t it in to our dealer for repair unitl the 10th. Then we spent the day sucking the water up with our rug cleaner. We tried to get as much up before we shampooed the carpet. You can imagine it takes forever for a damp basement to dry out. We’ve got a dehumidifier down there and it runs constantly. We used to run a large box fan down there which helped get some air circulating to dry it out but it got wet in one of the past few floods and quit working. Yesterday we were finally able to put everything back downstairs and resume living.

As you can imagine, I was beyond depressed after what transpired. Other bad things kept happening as the days went by too. Including but not limited to: a charming ceramic teapot clock I bought from someone on Instagram came broken beyond repair, our new furnace rebate from Nicor Gas was rejected again (it’s $300), our Postal claim for the lost package was denied with no reason why again.($50), our 2nd half of last year’s property taxes came in the mail due Aug. 1 ($3645) and we’ve been getting a ridiculous amount of spoofing phone calls. I can’t even keep track of all the bad things that have been happening. I have to believe it’s NORMAL to be down after an avalanche of bad things happening. I honestly can’t remember being THAT down for awhile though. Not since the last time our basement flooded June 25th, 2013. Any of the things I mentioned would be enough to go wrong at one time but to be inundated with THAT MANY in such a short time, is a real test of strength and fortitude. I allowed myself 2 or 3 days to sulk and feel sorry for myself and then I started to gather my bearings and start over again at life.

When I say that I’m starting over, I don’t mean with gung ho or gusto. I’m slowly lifting myself back up to my usual positive self. I can’t live life negatively for too long or the outcome would be nothing short of tragic. I’m not the most resilient person in the world but I like to think I can bounce back with a little time and effort. Obviously, things are never as grim as they seem or as I make them out to be. Believe it or not, it was hard to think of anything to be grateful for for a few days there. Now I can be thankful that: no one died, no one is in physical pain, we still have a roof over our heads, something to eat, etc They come easily to me now but maybe that’s the blessing of time and perspective.

Needless to say, our staycation was NOT stress-free. We were drowning in stress. But we lived to face another day FILLED WITH PROBLEMS. Just kidding (I think). Our fun was cut short and none was readily available so we made our own. Yesterday, we worked outside, trimming all the bushes and trees in our front and backyard. We weeded the veggie gardens and the potted herbs. We got busy cleaning up the mess that is our lives and tried to find order where there was none. After we were done, we were exhausted but had a sense of pride and accomplishment that only hard work you do yourself can bring. It may not sound like fun but it was. We had the dogs in back with us while we were working and we got to watch them playing together. We got sunshine and fresh air and exercise that wasn’t scheduled. Hard work clears the mind, strengthens the body and frees the soul. I also realized that when I’m depressed, the best medicine is hugging the dogs. 🙂 My advice for the week is if there’s no fun to be had…go make some!

 

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A quick update on what’s been happening in my world. I like to keep the soap opera called my life relatively current on the blog. That’s not always possible but I do my best. Friday Nov. 29th we got back from our annual pilgrimage to Tunica, MS for Thanksgiving. We’ve been going there every year since 1998. Most people who know me know I’m not a fan of tradition. The contrarian in me doesn’t like doing what everyone else is doing or being told I should do things on a certain day, in a certain way. I do like tradtions that I start. I remember the first time we came across the mid-south’s answer to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. 15 years ago, it was in the 70’s and sunny the entire time we were there. We were able to wear shorts and sandals and I remember telling my husband that it was the best way to spend Thanksgiving ever! That I wanted to do it every single year. He agreed and we’ve managed to stay true to our tradition. The past few years, it’s been raining and cold the entire week with this year being the absolute worst! They set records for the lowest high temperature. Damn that global warming. It was only like 2 degrees warmer than back home and had more rain down there. In a nutshell, it sucked.

We left on Wed. Nov. 20th and since it’s a 10 hour drive, 2 days are lost to travel. We are getting too old for such long hours riding or driving. I can hardly believe I’m saying that since when we were in our mid-30’s we drove 26 hours straight to Reno, NV. We stopped to eat and go to the bathroom but not sleep. Plus we had my mom and a dog in the car. It hardly fazed us then. Now if we have to travel more than 5 hours, it takes us a week to recover. 😦

I wish I could say our trip was fantastic. Instead it was hard. It was like not being on vacation at all. I’m afraid to complain about things because it seems when I do, they only get worse. Like the universe thinks I’m ungrateful and sends me more grief to deal with because I couldn’t just keep my mouth shut and suck it up. Our last vacation in Sept. was so awful that I didn’t even bring it up. Someday I’ll write about it but it was one for the record books. Until we had this one. I had totally lowered my expectations but not low enough.

In some ways, it’s my fault that I put myself in that position. I know my mom’s 92 1/2 years old and still think she can do things that she obviously can’t. Besides the natural aging, there’s Alzheimer’s to contend with. I knew she was tired when we got down there and we had stopped at Southland Greyhound Park in W. Memphis, AR. It’s a casino and they have a buffet that’s reasonable. We just tried this place for the first time a few years ago and now we stay the night in the parking lot (in the RV). Then the next morning we can get up and head out to Tunica right away. We walked over to eat and got our meal for $2.01 since a sweet patron offered us one of her coupons and we used our points on our casino players cards. This is the only money we spent on food all week! So I was tickled pink that the trip was starting off on the right foot! Mom was too tired to go up and get her food so Greg fixed her a plate and brought it to the table. She ate some but said she didn’t like it. We had stopped in the bathroom before we ate to use the facilities and then I insisted we all go after we ate. Then we were going to play a little and turn in somewhat early.

We were playing side by side and then my mom made a face. I asked her, “What’s wrong?” She mouths: “I have to go to the can.” I told her I’d take her. So I grab her hand and start walking to the back of the casino where I know where the bathroom is. It’s farthest from the front door where we came in but it’s the only one I’ve ever used when there. She doesn’t walk fast anymore and it took us a bit to get there. Then we walk in and the woman who cleans it was standing right in front of us. Blocking the aisle and saying “Maybe she’d like to use the big one on the end.” She meant the handicapped stall. There was no one else in the bathroom and she was actually standing in the way. I asked Mom if she wanted to use it and she didn’t answer. She just stood frozen in place. She didn’t make a move for another stall and the cleaning woman kept pointing to the end one. So I grabbed her hand and took her to it. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. She pulled down her pants and sat on the toilet and she had MASSIVE DIAHRREA. Words cannot do justice to the sights and smells. It was AN ABOMINATION. The first thing she did was put her hands in it and pull them out. I had to set my purse on the floor (no hook on the door) which I am averse to do but under the circumstances, it was the least of my worries. I also put my sweater on the floor (in the corner far away). Then I cleaned off Mom’s hands and took her jacket-type coverup off. I was kind of exclaiming horror at the whole thing and she said nothing. Nothing really affects her, she knows she won’t be the one cleaning anything up and really has no grasp of how bad it was…  I had to untie her shoes and take them off. The shit had gone all the way down both legs and onto the shoes. Then I took her pants off and her underpants. I threw the underpants away!!!!! I scooped out as much as I could out of the pants and cleaned her up as best I could with just the toilet paper. The worst thing is my iphone was completely dead! I couldn’t call my husband and have him go get underwear and pants for her. Even though I closed all the apps, it still drains down for some reason. It had shut itself off not too long before this happened. So here I was all alone in a strange restroom trying to figure out a way to clean her and get her out of there and back to the RV. In all the years we’ve lived together, this has only happened once before, many years ago and she was able to care for it herself. I don’t know if it would have been better to happen at home. We would’ve been in a position to put her straight into the bathtub there but the floor would’ve been a disgrace. This was at least easier to clean up. The toilet bowl inside and out and the floor I had to wipe up as best I could with toilet paper. You could still tell something unspeakable happened in there. I’m always 100% for washing hands and never skip under any circumstances but this just seemed ridiculous. I knew as soon as we got back to the RV, I’d be back into it again so I grabbed her hand and pulled her out of there. Yes, it was as disgusting as it sounds. She had to walk out without underwear and in pants covered on the inside with smeared feces. From the outside, you couldn’t really tell which was a blessing. As we were leaving the bathroom, some loudmouth came in with security asking if we needed help. “Yes, I want to be arrested or at the very least humiliated for having to deal with this.” No, I didn’t say that but told them no and got her moving as fast as she’s able (which is NOT fast) and had to walk back to where Greg was sitting. I told him we had to leave IMMEDIATELY and to get our money out of the slot machines. I also had a ticket for 16 cents that I ended up taking back with me. It’s a reminder that I don’t need as what went on CAN’T BE UNSEEN.

Getting Mom walked back to the RV was no easy feat. Then when we finally made it back, she wanted to go straight to bed. I’d made the bed as soon as we’d stopped driving for the day so that wasn’t the issue. I needed her to go into the tiny bathroom that only holds one person, take her pants off and let me wash her down with a washcloth while I stood in the hallway. First I used more toilet paper and paper towels, then moist towelettes, then a washcloth. I had to get her to step to the side of the toilet each time I needed to get to the sink. Meanwhile, I enlisted hubby to clean her shoes. He did a great job, leaving no evidence of the atrocity. It was a shame that I’d just given her a bath the day before. Oh well. There is no way I could’ve predicted this. With her being unaware of her own body signals anymore, she didn’t seem to know it was coming on either. Let alone know how to convey it to me. I’ve had things happen where I need to get to a bathroom in a hurry but I’ve always made it. I understand the need for urgency in those situations. Mom doesn’t. I hope I never have to deal with anything of that magnitude again for her or myself. I ended up putting the pants in a plastic grocery bag and keeping them under the RV until we got home. I was tempted to throw them out too but my cheapness won’t allow it. The unfathomable smell when I opened that bag made me start to retch.

Not long ago I was lamenting how I had to wipe her ass once, then twice. The Powers That Be had a good laugh about that and sent this event for me to tackle. It’s along the lines of “be careful what you wish for” but instead it’s “be careful what you complain about because it can/will get much worse.” That was an AWFUL way to start the vacation off. It was more traumatic for me than her and I didn’t think I’d sleep at all the first night. I passed out at some point and woke up the next morning to do it all over again with some that had creeped out in the night. I hoped that would be the only bad thing that happened all week. Unfortunately, it was not. But in the interest of keeping this from reaching book length, I’m going to save the rest for future posts. You’ll just have to come back and see what else happened. That’s a teaser. I know you’re jealous already of my rockstar life. That’s sarcasm. The rest of the vacation contains no more stories about excrement. That’s a promise.

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You know how you never really know if you’re making the right decision until after you’ve made it? Story of my life. The saying is “Live and Learn” but it should be “Live and Live and Never Learn.” There are just too many variables at play to ensure a satisfactory outcome. Not everybody goes to the doctor and leaves on vacation the very same day. Most people would know better. Considering it took over a month to get in to see the doctor, I knew I had to keep the appt. We’d had the idea of vacation in our minds for months but were just waiting for the price of gas to go down and the temperature to go up. Neither were cooperating and we made a hasty, last minute decision to go on vacation the week before Memorial Day instead of the week of the holiday. Trying to beat the crowds and what not.

 We’ve gone to Hinckley, MN many times over Memorial Day week (as well as other times of year) and it’s usually beautiful. Of course, this time the sun never made an appearance, it was rainy with a high of 46 degrees most of the time. Less than ideal. The Chicago area routinely has the highest gas prices in the country which sucks big time. We usually try to fill up in WI before coming home so we can make it out of the state for next time. While up in MN, the high gas prices followed us and it made the news that MN had the highest gas prices in the country. They were $4.39 a gallon! That’s just crazy. Despite it all, it was nice to get away but more exhausting than usual. I’m used to looking after myself, my husband to a degree and the 3 dogs. Now my mom is to the point with her dementia that I have to pack and unpack for her, lay out her clothes, make her take a bath, wash her hair in the sink, tell her to do basic things over and over. Of course, I have to do this whether we are at home or in the RV so in some ways, it doesn’t feel like a vacation to me. She can still dress herself and get in and out of the bathtub by herself but I keep a watchful eye at all times. I’m just glad we’re still able to take trips with her.
 
Since we got home on Sat. May 25th, it’s been a whirlwind to get back to real life. Before we left, I had made an appt. for yesterday for her ENT doctor to have the wax removed from her ears. Mom has this done every 6 months due to the buildup from wearing hearing aids. I had made another appt. today at the same place with the audiologist to get her hearing aids serviced (replaced tubing). The doctor and audiologist are never in on the same day so we always end up going twice. Finally we’ll all finished with all of her stuff until the end of the year. I’d be relieved if I wasn’t so exhausted.
 
Wed. May 15, my hubby and I had our long awaited doctor’s appt. with Dr. Feelgood. I was chomping at the bit to get answers regarding the pain in my legs. 2 weeks after I turned 50, I woke up with pain in my legs. It felt similar to shin splints. It was in the front of the shins. It wasn’t constant, it would come and go. I didn’t have pain at all when sitting or laying. Sometimes I have it when walking, sometimes when standing but not all the time. A few months back, I started getting pain in the back of my lower legs, almost like mild Charley Horses. Only 3 times have I had pain so bad I could have cried. Otherwise, it hurts but nothing like other things I’ve had. It is shooting pain at times but not steady. I should’ve gone to the doctor sooner, waiting 9 months (really less than 8 since it took so long to get in) was foolish. When I first got it, I thought it was vein related. After consulting Dr. Google, it sounded like claudication which can be mild to severe. Except that that comes on after walking a distance, like a half a block. Mine would be there the second I stood up. Mine is also worse when I lean forward to brush my teeth. Hubby thought it was muscular. We were both wrong.
 
We had to wait almost an hour to see the dr. (of course we did!) and when he came in, I went first. He had a medical student with him who shadows him for 6 weeks. This girl was different than the one he had with him when I took Mom to see him. She looked about 25 years old and even had braces. I went into great detail about my leg issue and I was already sitting naked from the waist down with only a paper sheet over me since he was also going to do a quick pap smear. He examined my legs and for teaching benefit of the student went through various things and ruled them out. He said it wasn’t veins (circulatory) or muscles or bones. I couldn’t imagine what it could be and then he said it. NERVES. He said I’m having nerve pain from a pinched nerve in my back. I had told him I had no back or knee pain but it was starting to affect my posture which I didn’t like. Because my legs hurt, it’s hard for me to stand up completely straight anymore. He said he’s pretty sure it’s Spinal Stenosis. Which is from a herniated or bulging disc in my back. He figures around the L-4 area which is level with my hips. I’ve never had any back problems so I know nothing about backs and which is Lumbar and which part is Cervical. He explained and I was kind of in shock. It wasn’t the last thing I was expecting, it was something I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years! He told me to go ahead on vacation and didn’t really give instructions as to what I shouldn’t do. He did say I needed an MRI to be sure and then we’d see if I needed physical therapy, cortisone injections or surgery. I told him I’d never heard of any back surgery that went well. He said you just don’t hear about it but it’s out there. He said he’d had back surgery in the past few years but didn’t elaborate.
 
He asked if I’d had any weakness or numbness in my legs and I said no. I haven’t had any weakness but did notice (since then) my legs went to sleep when I sat on the toilet too long. He said there will come a day when my legs will just give out and not be able to hold me up. That scared me as did him telling me it was good I caught it early so I could get it repaired. He wants to make sure I don’t end up in a wheelchair. Just the talk of that as a possibility was blindsiding. He didn’t seem to see any hurry at this point with getting the MRI though and told me to pick up the order for that and a mammogram (which I requested) next week when hubby goes back to have his blood pressure checked. So the first few days of vacation I’m processing all this and thinking how serious something to do with your SPINE is and how I shudder at the thought of surgery. Thinking of the risks of paralysis, etc. Then I tried to just go on with life and not dwell on it. I’m not going to jump to conclusions until we get the MRI and find out what’s really going on.
 
High blood pressure runs in hubby’s family and his mom and siblings are on multiple meds to control it. Hubby’s been on 2 and one of them is not working. The doctor said to get off the Tekturna right away and gave him samples of a new drug. So next Wed. he’s going back to make sure it’s working. My blood pressure was fine. I called yesterday to get our blood test results and my pap smear results. Everything for me was normal. Hubby’s was all normal except the glucose was a little high. So when he goes in on Wed. he’s going to fast and have a glucose test.
 
It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks ahead. On Monday, I’ve got the dentist. Wed. is Dr. Feelgood. Friday is the dentist for hubby. Sat. June 8th is a housewarming party in Madison, WI for hubby’s niece. Thurs. June 13th at 1 pm is my MRI and the same day at 2:20 pm is my mammogram. So I ended up doing it to myself again. I’m doing 2 things in 1 day to save time but it’ll probably just stress me out. I’ve had the mammogram and it’s no big deal. I’ve never had an MRI but I did have a CAT-scan once on my sinuses.
 
There are so many other things I want to blog about other than my health woes. 😦 But I wanted to catch people up on what’s been going on first. We haven’t even put in our garden yet and it’s almost June! We usually have it in by May 11th or so. It was cold and rainy before we left on vacation and now this weekend is supposed to rain again. We’re going to see if there’s any plants left at the nursery and at least get them purchased. We came home to a pond full of dead fish. Hubby has a koi pond that had about 70 fish. He was going to sell some when we got home. The pump and filter were leaking water into the dirt behind the pond instead of into the pond and most of the water was out, then the pump quit working. We’ve gone away many times and this is the first trip I didn’t worry or think about the fish. When we got home they were strewn around the yard (even on top of the shed) half eaten. At first we thought a wild animal like a raccoon had gotten to them but then figured out it must’ve been large birds like herons. It was a freaking mess. Hubby put them all in a bucket and then he planted them in the garden on Sunday night. He got a rototiller at an estate sale and used that for the first time. Supposedly fish are good fertilizer. He’s going to rototill it again to chop up the fish. A coworker told him her mother used to put fish remnants in a blender and then pour them in the garden. I’m not about to let those fish near my blender! 🙂 So we’ve got our work cut out for us this weekend. Hopefully next week I can add pictures to this post. I don’t have time for it now.

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There are 2 kinds of people in this world: those who love cruises and those who hate them. I fall into the latter category. In fact, hate is not too strong a word. I think it’s mandatory to go on at least one before forming that opinion. I did that so I can, in good conscience, say it. This post was prompted by all the news stories populated with the latest cruise ship tragedies: stuck at sea, no food or electricity or working toilets, the Norovirus, collision, sinking, etc. The list of the bad things that can happen goes on and on. That’s only counting what is printed in the newspapers or online. What about cruising when things go as planned? Let me tell you, it still sucks.

Believe me, I’ve heard plenty of people bragging about how wonderful it is out on the ocean in one of the luxurious, floating cities. It could almost convince me that it was the truth. I’m going to recount my experience of many years ago, before things got bad in the world of cruising. My deceased aunt (my mom’s sister) LOVED cruises and went on a few dozen. She couldn’t say enough wonderful things about them. Back in 1989, I was working nights at the post office, unmarried but engaged and had a lot of money. That in itself seems like a fantasy since when I traded up from “no-sleep ever” for a real life by quitting, I had to go back to getting used to not having money again. If it means I never have to take another cruise, it was worth it.
 
My mom wanted to take a cruise so I said I’d go with her. I think our first mistake was going to a travel agency. We’ve never gone to one before or since. The woman talked us into going with Carnival Cruise Lines, saying it was “good for beginning cruisers”. At the time Royal Carribean looked more appealing to me. The travel agent kept pushing Carnival and we assumed she knew more than we did. In retrospect, she probably got a bigger commission from Carnival. We figured out we wanted to go for a week and to the Carribean. We would fly from Milwaukee to Miami, get on the boat and sail to the islands of St. Thomas, St. Marten, Barbados and Martinique. Then return home the following Sunday.
 
My mom has always been hard of hearing. At that time she didn’t yet have hearing aids. She was fine if you talked directly into her right ear or she could read lips. We knew we wanted 2 things out of our stateroom: an outside room that had a porthole so we could look out and a double bed so that we could lay in bed and talk about the day. We specified this many times. We knew there was a lot of honeymooners on a ship like that but we agreed to pay extra to get the double bed. Back then we paid $1500 EACH for this cruise. I look back and am HORRIFIED. I wouldn’t spend that NOW. Like I said, I had the money and didn’t know if I’d ever go on one again and wanted to do it up right.
 
We got down to Miami and go to check in at the table where cruisers register and we were told we have 2 single beds. My mom was so mad she could’ve gone postal by herself. This spurred one of the sayings that has stayed with us many years later. When they told us they couldn’t change our room or give us a double bed or do ANYTHING for us, she said, “If I had a sheet, I’d put it over your head.” Ha ha. I still say that to her when she makes me mad. What does it mean? Probably that she was so mad, she ceased to make sense! We went to our stateroom which made my college dorm look roomy by comparison. They gave out a “welcome gift” to each room. We got a shitty gift basket of fruit that seemed like it had been frozen and thawed. Other cabins were getting bottles of champagne which we would have LOVED. We asked about swapping ours out but no dice. At least we had a porthole, right?! Yes, but it was only about 9″ across and so dirty we couldn’t see out.
 Festivale Cruise Ship Credit to cruise-ships.com
We were on one of the older ships named the Festivale. It was built in 1962, in service as an ocean liner with Carnival Cruise Lines from 1977-1996. Finally scrapped in 2003. From the minute I saw it, it didn’t impress me. It looked old and if you looked closely, not that clean. The main thing it had going for it was that it was HUGE. The only pool I remember them having open was on the top floor and it was the size of a postage stamp. No one else was even up there so we went. The boat itself was rocky on the water. We didn’t  have motion sickness but at times we’d lay in bed and the room would spin. Back then, before cellphones, it was such a hassle to make a phone call. My hubby (fiance then) stayed at our house and dogsat while we were gone. I called him once from a payphone during that week and we only talked for a minute or two.
 
I can make acquaintances pretty easily. We met people in the hallway of the cruise ship and at various locations on board. We would’ve loved to get to know them better by eating dinner with them but you don’t get to choose who you sit with. LAME. There’s 2 dinner seatings: 6 and 8 pm. We requested the latter and got the early. I shouldn’t have been surprised. They were holding us hostage and we had to put up with whatever they decide to do to and for us.

 
The boat stops at each island for the day. We’d leave about 11 am to go exploring and had to be back and dressed for dinner by 6 pm. We were missing lunch to go and if we waited until after lunch, it was even harder to get back in time. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to look around. Plus it was drilled into our head endlessly that if we weren’t back at the boat in time, the ship would leave us and go out to sea. There were horror stories going around about different people who had been left at one of the ports and had to find their own way home etc. I enjoyed seeing the islands the most. I loved the shopping on St. Thomas where I got some gold earrings for myself and a gorgeous gold nugget watch for hubby. At the time it cost $600. When I gave it to him, he cried. He said he’d never had anyone give him anything so nice. He already had a gold nugget ring and it matched beautifully. On Barbados I got my hair braided in cornrows. St. Marten was nice too but I really fell in love with the island of Martinique. After that I couldn’t get it out of my head that I wanted to be married there. I wrote about this and why it didn’t happen in my “I got you, Babe” blog post.
 

Cornrows I got on Barbados

Cornrows I got on Barbados

We ended up sitting at dinner with some people we just didn’t like. I could be mean but I’ll just leave it at that. I remember the photographer coming around to take pictures at the table. We’d go later to look at them and you can buy them for $ if you choose. I’ll never forget going to see ours and I’ve got bread crumbs on my chest in the picture. Sheesh! We didn’t have a camera along so I have no pictures from the cruise which is probably a blessing in disguise. I remember it vividly enough.
 
I’m the type of person who likes to see everything but at my own leisure, not do things on a strict schedule. Everything was pre-ordained what you would do and when. At 7 am an announcement was piped into everyone’s rooms telling about the day’s activities. Almost everyone working on the ship was a foreigner. They didn’t speak or understand English. The guy taking care of our room had a key and would come in every time we left. He insisted on tidying up everything and I like my stuff where I put it. I had my nail polish and brush out on the dresser, he had to move it to look neater. We kept our slippers at the edge of the beds so we could sit on our single beds and slip into them. This clown kept putting them 3 feet under the bed. You couldn’t reach them unless you got on your hands and knees and felt under there. This happened over and over. I think we told him not to and he kept doing it anyway. This drove us nuts! Instead of making life easier and having a restful vacation, it was maddening.
 
Part of the reason they made us keep the same table and waiter all week was so they could tell us to tip them in an envelope they provided at the end of the week. It was like the last night on board, before dinner. They expected us to tip a few hundred dollars. We did what they said to do because we still had one night left and who knows what they’d do if you pissed them off. In any case, that never sat right with me. Whatever happened to free will? Whether you have good service or not, you must tip according to their standards. We were never any bother. We’re the type of people who never make special requests (except what we’d tried to get them to honor upfront). The whole thing was annoying. We were supposed to tip that idiot who kept coming in our room and messing with our stuff. We did but weren’t happy about it.
 
Looking back, I don’t see why they don’t have a constant buffet going on the ship. Where people can go whenever they get hungry or get back to the ship. There might be lines and crowds but it’d be preferable to what we went through. Being served a sit down dinner is over-rated in my opinion. I hate snooty and snooty waiters are the worst. To this day I don’t like eating out somewhere that makes me feel uncomfortable. Where they treat me like I’m not good enough to be there.
 
This all happened right after my dad died. He died on Monday night. My regular days off were Monday and Tuesday nights. On Wednesday I called in and asked what to use for a death in the family. The guy that answered the phone said “use whatever you want”. I used 3 days sick leave. I already had vacation scheduled starting Sat. night. Idiot in the office never told my supervisor or anyone that my dad had died. I had a wedding on Saturday of 2 coworkers of mine. I didn’t want to cancel on them since I knew they’d paid for our dinners, etc. I hate letting people down! When I look back, I was a total fool for trying to do so much that week. Walking into the church for that wedding, I’d never gotten so many dirty looks in my life! Everyone thought I’d just called in to work and then was bold and brazen enough to show up to the wedding and leave on vacation. I didn’t tell a lot of people then (not even the bride & groom) because I didn’t want to put a damper on things. I’m such an ass. They had asked about vacation insurance and I thought there would be no reason on God’s green earth that I would ever cancel a vacation. The whole thing was non-refundable or I would’ve cancelled! I was really in no mood to go. The upsetting things I’d found out at the funeral were just going over and over in my head. That’s another blog post.
 
We left Friday morning and got home 24 hours later on Sat. morning. No sleep except for what I got on the 5 hour drive  home in the car. We went to the wedding on Saturday then I packed and left Sunday morning. I was still in shock during the whole cruise and that probably played a part in why I didn’t enjoy it. When we got home, we complained to the travel agent and Carnival Cruises. They sent us a letter and offered us half off our next cruise. How generous of them! 😦 Half-off a shitty time is still a shitty time. I wouldn’t go on another cruise if it was free. Not the passage of time or the mellowing of my soul has made that an acceptable choice.
 
 
 
 
 

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