Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Geocaching Eve

Last week we planned a geocaching outing for today, and we followed through on it despite the weather. It was a foggy, dreary, drippy, windy, chilly day - just the opposite of what you want for an enjoyable geocaching experience!

We did manage to have some fun in spite of conditions - Dick found five caches, and logged one DNF (Did Not Find). He found all of them; I seem to be losing my touch! One of them I could have found - I noticed the hole - but I didn't want to kneel down to investigate - I regret it now because I was skunked!

I visited Mother in the hospital while Dick made pea soup with our Christmas ham. The soup turned out to be delicious. We tried to stay awake to welcome in the New Year, but it was a lost cause. We went to bed around 10:30.

Happy New Year !

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Best Laid Plans

This day was all planned out. First, I was going to P.T. at 10:45. Dick and I were going to drop Jana at the airport at 12:30 and wave bye bye. Then Dick and I were going to go out to lunch.

Well, remember what Burns said about best laid plans? ("The best laid plans o'mice and men gang aft agley." [To a Mouse by Robert Burns, on ploughing up her nest, November, 1785])

Around 9:30 a.m. I got a panicky phone call from Betsy at Concord. She felt that Mother was worse and needed to see her doctor. I cancelled out of the P.T and headed for Concord Place. After various phone calls to Thirlby Clinic, it was decided to take Mother to Munson Emergency. Ann and Betsy helped me load Mom into the car, and the greeter at the Hospital put her in a wheelchair while I parked. Dick and Jana were left on their own to go to the airport.

We arrived at the E.R. around ll a.m., and it turned out to be a long, long afternoon. There were blood tests, X-rays, and various other tests. The final diagnosis is dehydration caused by flu-like symptoms. We talked to two doctors (an E.R. Doc and a Hospitalist), two nurses, two cleaning ladies, and one very accomodating volunteer.

In a prime example of polar opposites, the woman in the next bed was in the E.R. because of a drug overdose - actually drugs plus a mere pint of whiskey. And I was really glad that Mom is hard of hearing, because the language from the other side of the curtain was not exactly pristine.

Mom was finally put into her room at 5 p.m. The nurses on West 4 were just delightful and charming. Mom felt like Queen Victoria with all of the attention they lavished on her. It was paradise after the long, dull, uncomfortable hours in the E.R.

In the meantime, as more evidence of well laid plans ganging agley, as of 4 p.m., Jana was still in T.C. Her 1:30 takeoff never happened, and we still haven't heard the end of that story.

The moral of this day's story is Stay Flexible.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Descending Pool Table

Catherine's was having a post Christmas sale, so Jana and I dropped Dick off at the mall and went on a mad shopping spree for an hour and a half. Such fun!

Then we all took a drive out to the Leelanau in search of the perfect spot to place Jana's new cache. She's doing one centered on the early 20th century murder of a nun at the Holy Rosary Church in Isadore.

We were hungry, so we went to Art's Tavern first for lunch. Art's was jammed packed full of people - it was more crowded than it is in the summertime. There was a line waiting to get in. The party in front of us was a huge family group of at least 14 people. While we were standing there in the cold entrance, shivering and cramped, we were trying to figure out where they were going to put everyone.

There was a pool table in the center of the eating area, and right there, before our very eyes, a couple of employees began pulling up sections of floorboards from under the pool table and putting them on top of it. It took them quite a while, and while we were watching I was thinking "I wonder if they're somehow going to lower that pool table and put tables on top of it." And lo and behold - the pool table began to slowly move downwards until the floorboards on top were flush with the floor of the restaurant! And then they set up tables and chairs and seated the whole family group in one swell foop! It was worth the wait - just think - a pool table elevator! How many of those have you seen!?! As usual, the food was delicious and plentiful, the service was friendly and prompt, but the hit of the day was the descending pool table. I don't expect I'll ever see anything like that again.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day 2006

Some Christmases are unforgettable:

When I was a sophomore in high school I got a beautiful wool dress with a turtle neck, and a new pair of ice skates;

The Christmas that I was expecting, Mother Gen gave us an entire layette for the new baby Laurie;

When Laurie was two, she asked Santa for a book, a truck and a talking doll, and that was all she wanted.

This Christmas was the most unforgettable of all the unforgettables:

This is the Christmas that our children gave us a Caribbean cruise for our 50th wedding anniversary.

And the best part is that WE'RE ALL GOING !!!

Tom, Jana, Laurie&Chip and Dylan will be there too !!

And Dick and I will be in a grand suite!

This is the whole reason that we had to have a webcam in place in time for Christmas, because the family in Florida wanted to see us open the box with all of the clues! I was in shock for at least an hour afterwards, and I was tingling all over. Dick and I were both very emotional about this gift. Getting ready to go is going to be such a treat - we are so looking forward to this trip!

We had already had a wonderful Christmas. We love the treasure hunter book, and especially the tote with the original artwork by Mr. Dylan. There were so many wonderful gifts, we were already very mellow and satisfied after opening everything. Then Jana said it was time to call Florida, and she brought up the box from downstairs and turned on the webcam. WOW!

Dick, Jana and I visited Mother for about 2 hours this afternoon. We took her some food and three small gifts. She had a chance to call Fritz and wish him a Merry Christmas, and Jim called her earlier in the day, so she touched base with everyone this holiday.

But the big news of the day is our Anniversary Cruise on April 22, 2007! Stay tuned!

Dick thinks that this picture looks too much like deer in the headlights, so

This is the Official We'll Be Cruising Soon picture!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Where Would YOU Go?

"Hopefully this holiday finds you well and that the New Year dawns with bright new promise. May prosperity and light fill your life with joy." A quote found on another blog, and it's really my wish for everybody.

Next summer the Annual National Governor's Conference will be held here in Traverse City - well actually, at the Resort.

Our friend Kathee from the Visitor Center is heavily involved in preparation for the big event, and she'll be going to D.C sometime in February with a committee to attend a prep meeting for next year's Conference. They'll be taking 50 cherry pies, one for each delegation. She knows that Jana lives in D.C., so she asked if Jana had suggestions of things that Kathee and the committee could do for breakfast and dinner. Where would I go? Definitely back to Mei-wah and Mimi's! Don't know if I'm ready for the drag queen brunch...hmm...let me think that over...
Here is Jana's reply:
Hi Kathee -- I'm Dick's daughter Jana, and he asked me to pull together some recommendations for your upcoming visit to DC. Hope you find these useful, please let me know if you have any more questions or need a tourguide on your stay!

Old Ebbitt Grill is a wonderfully atmospheric & historic restaurant with a great bar, too. It's very near your hotel -- on 15th St between F and G (your hotel is on 14th St between H and I): Old Ebbitt Grill

Two options right on H St. -- for dinner, Cosi is a chain coffee/sandwich shop with wonderful salads -- I recommend the Cobb. They also have smores at your table, but my Dad says there's a bar in TC that does that too, so maybe it's not that special: Cosi

For dinner and/or a drink -- Cafe Mozart is a german expat experience, with $2.50 draft beers Mon-Fri 4-7, and all the brats you can eat: Cafe Mozart

Other highly recommended dinner & Drink spots a quick cab ride away:

Mei-wah -- best Chinese experience in DC! Mei Wah

Mimi's -- featuring live showtunes sung by the waitstaff, and a great bar too!

The Brickskellar -- a wonderful grubby cellar of a beer joint featuring more than a thousand beers, and mighty fine pierogies:
The Brickskellar

DC experiences further from your hotel -- You may or may not have time for these, but they sure are fun.

Dine at the Longworth House Office Building Cafeteria!
The press corps agrees this is the best cafeteria on Capitol Hill. The House buildings are open to everyone -- you do need to go through security and show ID. In the cafeteria, it's fun to eavesdrop on movers and shakers (or just pretend they are). Then for fun you can explore, go from one building to the next via the underground tunnels, enjoy the lovely courtyard in the Rayburn building, and visit your congressman if you want to at 137 Cannon: Capitol Hill Map

Ben's Chili Bowl!
My personal favorite comfort food, and a bona-fide DC experience. It's on U St, between 12th & 13th, across the street from the U St. Cardozo metro stop.
Ben's Chili Bowl

Johnny Rockets!
This was my mom & dad's favorite, it's a 50's style hamburger chain, the one I took them to was on M St in Georgetown. There's no metro in Georgetown so you would have to hop in a cab: Johnny Rockets

Drag Queen Brunch at Perry's!
Sunday Brunch is a DC obsession that has spilled over into Saturday. The article below lists lots of options, but my personal recommendation is the drag queen brunch at Perry's, on Columbia Road near 18th St (which is the Adams Morgan strip ... as an aside, if you want the Adams Morgan experience, go to 18th between California and Columbia any night of the week, it's hoppin' with bars, international restaurants and general nightlife). During the week, Perry's is a sushi place with a rooftop deck, but on Sunday, it is the liveliest brunch in town, with live drag queen entertainment: Washington Post Brunch Review

Another lunch or brunch option is the Mansion on O St -- there are just no words to describe this, you will have to read the review below. Call to make reservations because they don't serve unless people are coming. Just being in the mansion is a jaw-dropping experience that overwhelms the senses and can inspire giggle-fits: Mansion on O St.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It Works!

Hey hey hey! The LogiTech webcam works great with Skype on the Dell. This morning we talked with Laurie, Tom and Dylan, and it was great. I don't know where Chip was, but he is home now through Christmas, thank goodness. We were afraid that he would get held up by all of the delays caused by the big storm in Denver.

Spoke to Mother this morning - she is not well at all. She even agreed to see the doctor after the holidays. This is monumental, because she always pooh-poohs going to the doctor.

We took a drive this afternoon - it's another dreary, rainy day. We went to the store to get oysters for the Christmas Eve oyster stew. Then we did the TC cruise: the bay was very gray, but calm. The shoppers were dodging raindrops on Front Street. We visited both cemeteries, and drove past some condos that Jana is considering for some date in the future.

This evening we're planning to go to Mongolian Barbecue for dinner, and then cruise town to see the Christmas lights.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Outing With Jana +Skype +LogiTech

Dick headed out early this morning to do some more work for his new cache, and to put in some time at the Agency. He also stopped in at the Visitor Center to get details of Kathee's committee trip to D.C. so that Jana can recommend some restaurants.

It rained cats and dogs all day today. Good day for movies, shopping, and visiting Mother. So Jana and I did all of that. We went to see Eragon so that we can communicate with Dylan. It's a very nice movie if you're nine years old. Jana and I were in stitches many times when scenes in the movie were so cliched and reminiscent of so many earlier adventure movies. We saw some Star Wars, some Lord of the Rings, even a little Wizard of Oz.

After the movie we stopped at Best Buy. Jana went shopping for a LogiTech camera for my upstairs computer so we can do the Skype thing with Laurie. Kind of an end-around around the iSight/Mac combo that didn't work. She also bought a beautiful gift of truffles wrapped in a golden box/bag for Mother.

Mother is very weak and feeble today, and not feeling well. We did have a good visit - we opened her Christmas cards, read them, and looked at the pictures. We watered the evergreen tree that Laurie sent, and cleaned up some of the needles. We talked to Julius and Abby. We shared memories of Dad and the good old days. I think that Mother could hear most of it.

Back at home Dick cooked burgers on the grill and we had a great supper. Now Jana and I are watching the rest of Spanglish and Dick is on the phone with Doug.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pick Up Something +Skype +iSight

Nice workout today at physical therapy. Kari started me on the elliptical trainer, and it's a real challenge. She's very patient with me, and she's a really effective therapist.

Went to new Oleson's to pick up something for dinner - it feels so good to be doing things by myself now.

I told Dick I was going to do that, and a lightbulb went off in his head. He said he thinks he'll call his new cache Pick Up Something For Dinner. He's "borrowing" the idea from the Bellaire cache that starts in a grocery store. He enjoyed that cache so much that he wants one of his own. He and Jana are out right now setting it up.

Later the same day...

Jana and I were watching Spanglish (really fun movie) when Laurie calls attempting to set up Skype with her video camera. The bottom line is that we now have Skype on our laptop, and she has it on her new computer. We could hear each other just fine. Jana and I could see Laurie, but we couldn't connect the iSight to the Skype for some reason. I'm thinking it was just too late for me and my brain was in neutral.

I need to find out how to use iSight with Skype on my iBook G4. Anybody? Anybody??....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

JayBird Flies In

Feeling better. Went to therapy and things went well - glad I didn't cancel.

Jana's plane was right on time - just before 9 p.m. She's glad to be here (of course!) but she's disappointed that we have no snow. Right now it looks like we'll have a green Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Speaking of G-I Issues....

Oh wow - I'm so sick. Picked up a totally unfriendly bug somewhere. Was up all night - most unpleasant. Feeling very much like a dishrag today.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Family Brunch

Today is party day!

First there was a terrific family brunch at South City Limits - Barb and Sharon and all of Barb's kids. Who was there? Dick&Nan, Sharon, Shelly, Chris, Adam&Melanie and Lydia, Barb&Jim, Peter&Melissa and Autumn and Brooke. We had a couple of hours of a really great time. They gave us a gorgeous centerpiece - it's so festive and Christmasy - it looks great on the dining room table.

The Concord Place Christmas party came next. Unfortunately, Mother was not feeling well enough to go down to Party Central. so Dick made a few trips dowstairs to fix her a plate, get her some coffee, etc. She hasn't been feeling well for several weeks now - it seems to be a gastro-intestinal issue of some sort.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Land therapy is better than aqua therapy. Why? Because when you're finished you're not dripping wet walking through a fitness center to a cold locker room, and taking 20 minutes to dry off, shiver and change. The machines are fun, the routines are not too difficult, and I think I'll really enjoy the next 3 weeks of therapy. This morning was only the second session, so I don't really notice much difference yet, but I have high hopes.

This afternoon was our adventurous trek, taking Mom to the dentist for an extraction. We were both more stressed out about this than we realized. Things went quite smoothly - the new wheelchair performed well. We rented a Chrysler 300, because it seemed like the best vehicle for moving the most easily from wheelchair to seat....our Subaru is too small and the Explorer is too big! The Chrysler was a great choice.

Dr. Whiting did a marvelous job of keeping everybody calm and happy. After it was all over, Mother didn't even realize that the tooth was already out. She's such a trooper - I know it was a stressful event for her. She kept saying "That wasn't so bad". We're all very relieved that it's over.

Monday, December 11, 2006


While we were at the Merry Bowling meet and greet, 1255 miles away, in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida, Laurie, Chip and Dylan were at the camping weekend called CacheApalooza. I looks to me like they had a great time.

Dylan is in the blue T shirt - he's the tallest one. Two of the others are Lainie and Ty, and the third is mystery boy. Dylan is the cutest.

Here is Laurie's log:
Thanks to everyone who made this well organized event possible. We enjoyed every minute. Our group of kids had a fantastic time finding their own treasure cache, and I jumped for joy when my number was called for the Garmin GPS. Thanks!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Merry Bowling

Bowling? We don't do bowling! But we had a great time at the NMG meet and greet in South Boardman today. It was much fun to see everybody and enjoy some great conversations. It was great seing Tim and Susie - it's been a while since we've seen them. Tim won the trophy for the highest bowling score. Very impressive.

There was a Secret Santa gift exchange and a raffle. We got lots of goodies, the absolute best being a whole raft of chocolate chip cookies. Frank and Peggy agreed to stop by next Wednesday for cookies and coffee.

Here is Dick's log of the event:
Thanks Beth for getting us together, it was nice to see the Jedi and the Princess. Thanks Ray and Lydia for the raffles, and everyone who brought a gift or donated to the prize tables, we had a great time. Believe it or not, we bowled almost as well as we did when we were in our teens. It was great to see everyone and watch the experts in action, Katelyn is definitely a champ. We apologize to anyone we didn't get a chance to talk and wish a Merry Christmas to. We certainly enjoyed the conversations that we had. We spent the ride home sharing the stories we gathered from everyone. If anyone wants to drop in for milk and cookies, we're ready.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mom Has Wheels/ Here Comes Christmas

This was the day we put up Christmas. The tree looks very nice! The house is as decorated as it will be. It's fun to go through the Christmas things, make decisions, and cherish the memories they elicit. Dick put lights on a tree outside the living room so we can enjoy it every evening. That tree is really beautiful. It's a good feeling to have everything finished.

We went to visit Mom today - we took her some boots, pictures of Jace's visit, and some photo Christmas cards that she can send to family. But the big item was her new wheelchair.

To assist in the transfer next Thursday, Dr. Auer, her primary care physician, wrote a prescription for a wheelchair and she will be reimbursed by Medicare and Blue Cross. Mom is very happy to have her own wheelchair, and she wants it stored in her room so no one will take it ! It's a transfer chair - it has small wheels, not the big wheels that the patient turns by hand. Her hands would not be able to turn those wheels anyway. She will always need someone to push it for her.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Springing the Buccal Plate

When I was in college one of my summer jobs was working as a dental assistant in a Kiwanis Club free dental clinic. I had no training at all, so the dentist explained everything in the office very specifically and efficiently, and even quizzed me during the down times. That's how I know that when Mother goes to have her tooth pulled, her dentist will be springing the buccal plate. Buccal means the cheek side of the tooth, and the plate is the jaw.

Mother has an appointment on Dec. 14th for her to go to the dentist and have the bad tooth extracted. She wants it out, but she is naturally nervous about leaving the building, and also about having her tooth pulled. She is expecting "agony". We have tried to comfort her, and explain that she will be numbed up, etc. We've made sure that she has her good winter coat, boots, gloves and hat in case of bad weather. Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?

Snow, snow and more snow. We now have snow tires on both vehicles, and it's a lot more comfortable driving around. We went to UPS today and shipped the Christmas packages to Florida. Now we're ready to put up the tree, decorate the house, and write the Christmas cards.

Mother's dentist made a home visit this evening after supper to evaluate her teeth. She needs to have a tooth extracted and some other work done. He called in a prescription for an antibiotic for her to take to help avoid infection from the procedure. We have an appointment next Thursday, Dec. 14th at 2 p.m. I think it's remarkable that a dentist would go out of his way like that for an elderly patient. His Grandma is in Birchwood, so he is very understanding and willing to help. He has another star in his crown. Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown by Seldom Scene

This week Dylan's toughest spelling word is reservation. Others are suggestion and conclusion. He has reservations about taking this test. My suggestion is that he'll be glad to see the conclusion of the test!

Michael Moore & Max in T.C.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

An Old Favorite

I've been experimenting with audio and video on the blog. seems to work the best so far for audio, and YouTube for video.

City Of New Orleans by Seldom Scene

Monday, December 04, 2006

One More Day

There will be only one more day of aqua therapy. After Friday, I will graduate to "land therapy". Tom says I'll be a land shark - remember that on SNL?

Here is the lovely Premier Fitness Center, home of my therapy pool. (Oh by the way, we got quite a bit of new snow today and the roads were horrible.)

Here is our beloved pool. You were expecting maybe Olympic size?

This is Kari, my intrepid therapist. She knows everything about muscles and stretching and strengthening, and she's chock full of good tips for me.

Kari and Lisa, another therapist - they are all very pleasant.

Here's photographic evidence that I do actually have a swim suit, and I really do get into the pool, so there. The shirt comes off when I get into the pool, but for pictures, not so much.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Family Day @ Concord Place

One day after the big snow storm, it was a beautiful, sunny day with a bright blue sky. Jim drove up from Saginaw to visit Mother, and he brought along Dan, Pam and 18 month old Jace! What a treat it was to see them all!

Here's Mother holding Jace (quote "He's Heavy!) with Dan ready to grab him at any second.

While we were all there, Rick and Mary came in with Uncle Fritz and Aunt Ruth. Fritz and Ruth have moved to assisted living and aren't on the road any more, so when Rick and Mary come to town they always bring them to visit Mother. Fritz is Mother's only brother, and he's now 90.

A fun family "crowd shot" - Pam with Jace, Dan, Dick and Jim. Jace will be a big brother before he's two years old. The new baby is due in April, and Jace will be two on May 1.

Rick, Dan and Fritz:

Cousins Rick and Mary with Mother - thanks Rick, for bringing Fritz and Ruth to our impromptu Christmas gathering!

Dan's family meets Great-Grandma - Mother was very happy to meet Pam and Jace.

Thank you Jim, for bringing everybody to Traverse City! It's hard to believe that we had 11 people at once in Mom's room, but it worked out great, and we all loved it!

This little tree was a centerpiece at yesterday's Visitor Center party. I thought it would be perfect for Mother's room, and I think it looks wonderful and festive. Thanks, Kathee for letting us take it. So now the Christmas season is off and running - hang on to your hats!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ushering in the Holiday Season

The T.C. Convention Bureau and Visitor Center volunteers Christmas Party was this afternoon. It was very festive, with great food, lots of Christmas tree decorations, and good company. To help usher in the season, we had a foot of snow during the afternoon. The party was held at the Maritime Academy, so we were right on the bay. It was interesting to watch the waves smash over the pier - the wind was strong and right out of the northwest. We sat with Jean and John, John and Penny, Val, and Jack. Dick liked the shrimp best; I liked the meatballs and the cheesecake! The coffee was fantastic. There was an open bar, but with the weather the way it was we didn't indulge. I think Dick had one glass of wine. It's always the most enjoyable party of December.

Traffic was awful on the way home, and the roads were treacherous. It took us about 45 minutes to get home, usually a 20 minute drive. The snow drifted up over our porch steps. It was good to be home by the fire.

Jim called this evening. He plans to come up to T.C. tomorrow to visit Mother. I think this will be the official Christmas visit. We're hoping that the main roads will be plowed and sanded by tomorrow.