Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Carol at the Guthrie

Last night, Jeanne and I went to see the Guthrie’s "A Christmas Carol". It was magnificent! In 1975, Barbara Field did the adaptation of the story for the stage and she did a superb job of hitting all the key points in making this production. Each year since then, the Guthrie has produced this version of the story. The play is only 90 minutes long, but even that short time flew by.
The theater, and the stage, was filled with both adults and kids. The costumes of the ghosts were brilliant. The cast was the largest I have seen at the Guthrie, and everyone did a bang-up job. One of the things I enjoy about the Twin Cities is our ethnic diversity and this diversity was evident on the stage. One of the Cratchit kids was Asian and the little boy, who Scrooge gets to buy the large turkey in the window, was a girl and African-American.
I have seen the "Christmas Carol" movies numerous times but this was the first time I experienced the emotional connection between the old “humbug” Scrooge and the newly-minted Scrooge who honors Christmas.
Like Scrooge, I am a humbug type of person when it comes to live performances. Over the years, we have had season tickets to the Ordway and downtown theatres for a series on Broadway productions that came to the Twin Cities. I don’t think I enjoyed going to these productions as much as Jeanne but as a good and loving husband I went (unless I could give the tickets to my sister-in-law). However, I am getting hooked on the Guthrie. It is a short ride from home, getting in and out of the parking area is a breeze and the shows get Jeanne home on time and the theatre is good. Most of all it makes Jeanne happy so what’s not to like about going to the Guthrie.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve



This year's Christmas was different. Eric came in from Chicago on the bus right in the middle of a snow storm.
Like his dad, Eric has more time than money so he decided to take the Megabus from Chicago to Minnesota. I have taken this trip a number of time and it is not all that bad. You get on the bus in Chicago and seven hours later, get off in Minneapolis. I was going to pick him up at 11 pm. At 3 am he was just getting into town. He said it was the trip from hell. Thursday, Christmas eve, we had a nice visit with him. I cooked up a few tender loins and we had a quiet family dinner. After dinner, he challenged Jeanne to a game on his WII. Out came the guitars as Jeanne rose to the challenge. Now you have to understand that Jeanne is one of the most competitive persons I know. She hates to lose and loves to win. She also is as coordinated as a seal out of water. Her lack of coordination is more than made up for with an abundance of competitiveness. Eric, of course, beat her the first twenty times but that did not stop her from playing most of Christmas eve and into Christmas night. I am not sure she ever won a game but at 1 am last night they were just finishing up.

Christmas was bitter-sweet. We were surrounded by family including Jeanne's mom. This year has seen her mom go into a senior residence and, just a few weeks ago, experience a heart attack. She is 97 and for the first time ever, she is starting to look and act her age. This might be her last Christmas with us and that is sad since she is the glue that holds our family together. She is the kindest, most gentle person I know. In the almost forty years we have been married, I have come to love her and to admire her more each year. Just the idea that she might not be with us next year makes me sad and teary eyed. And the best part is, I know she loves me and all of our family unconditionally.

We drove down to Northfield through the snow storm to Sue's home. Going to Northfield has become a family tradition and usually we have dinner and give gifts at "grandma's" house. This year, we celebrated at Sue's since Mom's hosting with be out of the question. In-laws. nephews, little kids, it was all great fun. My nephew's wife is a chef. Part of her skills have rubbed off on my nephew and together they cooked up a fabulous Christmas meal. Sitting around a table with twelve members of your family-that's what Christmas is all about. The ride home was 'sweet'. MnDOT had all the rodes clear and dry. Another Christmas memory.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas: Right around the corner

Christmas is coming on fast. Up until last Sunday, Jeanne's been telling me that she had it all under control. She was going to go online and buy gifts and have them delivered to the kids by UPS. However, she also had early morning meetings and late night meetings twice last week. I wondered how Wonder Woman was going to do it all, but didn't worry. Jeanne has the capacity to do just about anything she puts her mind to. Sunday it all collapsed. In a low voice, she finally admitted she was not wonder woman and asked for my help. So, Monday morning off I went to purchase toys for grandkids and gifts for our kids and moms. God! I love/hate Christmas shopping. Everything was on sale but the lines were long and people were driving crazy (both driving me crazy and their cars crazy). After shopping all day on Monday, I hit a wall and could not cope with the stress of trying to figure out what to buy for my kids. I had no idea what they wanted/needed. After a cup of coffee, I was back at it and today Jeanne is putting four large boxes in the mail that will hopefully get to their homes by Christmas. Feels good to have it done and still have money in the bank and your senses intact.

We had an e-mail from our son, Scott, today. Seems like Josie (our 8 year old granddaughter) asked the BIG Christmas question. Here is his e-mail:

"Sadly enough we told Josie last night about Santa Claus. Her questions were getting more sophisticated and the thought of going from evading her to flat out lying was not an option we wanted. She's cool with it, she says she was pretty sure that was the case anyway, but her issue was how we could afford the presents? We told her that's a secret that we as parents will continue to keep to ourselves.

Her next question after a few moments was . "Will you tell me the secret before I have my own kids?"

Tammi said "Of course, but you'll probably figure it out by then."

Christmas is a great season for kids and in spite of all the money spent, tensions created, and crazy people I love it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear!

One day late, I took Bob out for his birthday. 

Earlier, I had spent the day with my mother down at Mill Stream Commons Assisted Living.  Mom had moved in December 1st and a couple of days later experienced a heart attack. I think it was brought about by old age (97 yrs.), narrowing of the arteries and the stress of this new chapter in her life. Mom tried out everything those first few days - getting up, rushing to get dressed and get to breakfast on time (she is NOT a morning person). After breakfast she used her brand-new walker-on-wheels (remember, this woman only moved about thirty steps in her townhome between couch/TV room/kitchen/bedroom/bathroom/etc; she now lives on third floor, nearby an elevator, which is only a matter of steps from the dining room.) to go and locate the hairdresser. After finding the hairdresser, she is able to have her hair done, right away.After lunch, Mom agrees to join a book club watching the "African Queen". At bedtime, she can't find her female products to wear during the night and gets anxious about having an "accident". This poor lady doesn't want to let any of us down and hopes to prove that she can "do it all" - she just did too much. Fortunately, there was no heart damage and she only spent about four days in the Cardiac Care Unit of the local hospital. But she is not the same lady - more likely to be fatigued and a bit more forgetful.  It's so hard not to second guess - should we have left her in her own home? She had fallen a couple of times there, was not enjoying cooking and eating meals alone and monitoring her medicines was becoming a concern. I hope that she will "bounce back" - she is my best friend, after my husband. She offers me such unconditional love. There was such a lump in my stomach as I left her yesterday afternoon.

Getting back to Bob - - we stopped at Oak City Restaurant here in Brooklyn Center for an early dinner (we had a gift coupon from the restaurant for his birthday - buy one get one free!) and we both had barbecued ribs - a big slab for each of us that we promptly split in half and put in a box to eat later this week. They were delicious and just fell off the bones. Afterwards, we travelled "across the river" to the History Theater in downtown St. Paul (located in the old Science Museum) to view the "Sisters of Swing" - a musical biography of the three Andrews Sisters. It was a wonderful production - talented actors and excellent singing, all with a light narrative of the ups and downs of their singing careers (they were born and raised in Minnesota and won a talent contest at the Orpheum Theater in the 1930's). The music was very retro ("Bugle Boys of Company B", "Don't Sit under the Apple tree with anyone Else but Me", etc.), but the memories of a tough time during World War II and the USO entertainment shows were good to recall, as we again see several years of war overseas and military sons and daughters experiencing homesickness and loneliness.

Bob was very tolerant of this female-dominated play - thank goodness, there was a character that was kind of a "stooge" who provided alot of comic relief and interactive skits with members of the audience. We enjoyed the play (tickets that I obtained through a Silent Auction fundraiser for our St. John's School last February) and the Christmas lights downtown St. Paul and our precious time together. Bob is 67 yrs. old now, very tolerant of his crazy, workaholic wife who never does anything half-way. He is my anchor and my best friend. The last thirty-nine years seem like both a long time (filled with many stories and memories) and a short time, with days passing by so fleetingly fast.We now have an understanding - to give each other big bear hugs at least twice a day!  Believe it or not, that's sometimes hard to remember and do!
Jeanne

Saturday, December 12, 2009

पीजे" अ मेसेज फ्रॉम Bob

पक, अरे यू रेअडिंग थिस एंड हाउ अरे यू दोंग?

Birthday

Yesterday, I celebrated my 67th birthday. We had invited the family that lives across our yard for dinner so I cooked up a massive batch of spaghetti and we had dinner at our place. Jenny is a single mom who has raised three of the most polite, personable and cute kids we know. After dinner, the kids (ages 11, 8 and 6) were offered their choice of movies for the evening, Up or the Transformers. I was surprised then they picked the Transformers. Jeanne and I raised three boys so if my kids had picked the Transformers I would not be surprised. But two of Jenny's kids are girls and they were the ones loudly voting for the Transformers. Every once in a while, my age hits me especially when it comes to sex roles. Boys like action movies; girls like cartoons and romance movies. That's the natural order of things. Well, not so much anymore (if it were ever true). Well, I support the elimination of all barriers between people, especially sexism (I best with with three grand daughters) even when it surprises me when it happens.

Christmas is coming up and I have not done much in the way of Christmas shopping. I did get Tammi something yesterday but that is it, so far. I asked Jeanne if we were going to try to get Christmas cards out before Christmas. She said "Remember the twelve days of Christmas. I have twelves days after the holiday to get them out." I suggested that the twelve days were before the holiday and she said "Not for me. I have twelve days after Christmas to get the cards out." So it looks like our Christmas cards are going to be late again this year or, if your Jeanne, on time if delivered before the twelve days are up.

Tonight we are going out for dinner and then to a play to celebrate my birthday. Jeanne won't tell me what play or where but she said she would like it and so would I. Hmmm, I'm thinking, as my sexism kicks in. We are going to a "chick play" and I am going to hate it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter !


It's not the snow that I have a problem with, its the wind. Today was one of those snow days where four inches represented either an half inch on part of my driveway and 18 inches on another. The wind just blew everything around and it drifted in places I would rather not have the drifts. The roads are clear. Brooklyn Center does a great job removing snow as soon as the storm stops. The county, not so much.
Temp is 9 degrees and wind gusting to 24 mph. and winter has not started yet.
I want to go warm....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas is coming



There are some years it is hard to get Jeanne into decorating for Christmas. Not this year. Tonight she decided we needed to decorate the front of the house. She is humming Christmas carols as she works. I reminded her that a few weeks ago, we could have done this in shirtsleeves- she just glared at me. All was well until two seconds ago when Jeanne decided I also wanted to help her decorate. We are going to "swag" something unless I can find a way out of doing it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trimming the tree


Santa is coming


We decided to decorate the Christmas tree this afternoon. Jeanne was in charge of the project so it took most of the day as she either makes sure it is just perfect or gets distracted with other tasks (like cooking and making me happy). my style is more direct. Get the stuff on the tree as fast as possible. lay down and watch football for the rest of the afternoon. Her way is better but my way is a lot less work.
I think it is time for another tree. This one is really big for two people and fills out living room.


Here is the family just before we left warm Florida. It was a great time and it makes me feel proud to see what wonderful parents and spouses the boys have become. I was told once that "grandkids are God's reward for not killing your teen agers." So true.

I want to go back to Florida

Well, we have been home from Florida a week and it has been a big adjustment weather wise. We left Florida in shorts, t-shirts and car windows open. That's the way we stayed dressed until Chicago. Even from Chicago to home the weather was sunny, warm (50's) and spring like even though we wore jeans. Two days after we arrive-winter drop on us with a massive BANG. Since we have been home the temps are in the teens, snow on the ground and we need to sleep under a goose down quilt. I like the warm and wonder what ever brought our ancestors to this cold land. Then I wonder what keeps me here- well, family and work. Jeanne retires in two years or so and then we are so out of Minnesota for the winter.
School is winding down. I really enjoy my ancient western history class. Dianna is a awesome teacher who really understands her subject. I have always had an interest in early western history and she is connecting a lot of the dots. I am also taking an art history class and regret not taking the class before we went off on our travels. It is neat to learn about art that you have seen in person. I am looking forward to next semesters classes, more western history and art history. It is a wonder more senior citizens don't take advantage of free tuition in our state college system.
After twenty years at the Metrodome, I have told them I am retiring. There are lots of changes going on because of the new Twins stadium. Since I am not a baseball fan, am pushing 67 and just not interested in all the "work" that would be required, I told them this would be my last year. I am really thankful I have had an opportunity to volunteer at the dome. I have seen a World Series, Superbowl, International Special Olympics closing ceremonies, Billy Graham and a lot of other smaller but still great events. I also feel good because a number of people are still alive because of me and my team. I don't think I am going to miss spending a five hour shift in the office anymore but still it has been a "hoot".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Home after 3500 miles

Home at last. Today was really good driving. We stayed at my son's home in Chicago and left about 8 this morning. There was virtually no traffic all the way to Minnesota. We just set the speedometer for 70 and enjoyed the ride. We hardly had to hit the brakes.
We saw a lot of stimulus money being used as we drove across the country. Wisconsin especially had nice new sections of the interstate that were pleasant to drive. Seems there is a national push for new guardrails everywhere. They are putting the same style up on all the interstates. As I was driving, I kept remembering some of our pinhead conservative radio "heads" who seem to think government can't do anything right. Well guys! Take a drive on the interstate highways of America. They are a splendid example of doing it right.
We stopped for lunch in Wisc Dells at the Kalahari resort. Damn! We have passed it numerious times as we visited our kids on Chicago. I thought it was just a water park but it has a massive play area including bowling alleys and a cinema. It also has to have a 1000 rooms. I was shocked at the size of the resort. Wisc Dells sure grew up since we last camped with our kids there. Might be a great place to take the grand kids once they get a bit older.
Good news! The north won the Civil War around Madison Wisc so I got my wife back. She said it was a good book (as if I couldn't tell) but she was happy she finished it.
It is good to be home but we also had some distressing news. One of our tenants lost her job. She is a single mom who tries hard but is having a difficult time making ends meet. The odds are she will not be able to make full rent payments so Jeanne and I have to adjust and plan on making our mortgage payments with our cash until things work themselves out. Sounds bad (and it is not good) but we both have our health, a 401(k) and I have another great government program, Social Security, to keep us well afloat. Between these we will just tighten up until she gets back on her feet. Others (Ben and Sophie) have it a lot worse so I should just be thankful.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Today was a good day. We started off in Tenn and were on the road before 8. We arrived at my son's home in Chicago before 6 pm.The only traffic we saw was during rush hour heading into Nashville. Even the police took the day off.

Jeanne is reading a civil war era book. Once she understood that Sherman was going to burn Atlanta and Savanna, she became a lot more communicative. We enjoyed our time together without Sherman getting in the way.

An observation, Kentucky has to have the best interstate roads in the nation. They were clean, wide, without pot holes and a pleasure to drive.

When I travel, I go super cheap. I pick up a book of hotel discounts at a rest stop and find a hotel that cost under $40 for the night. I try to find a hotel that has free wireless and a free breakfast. What can I say, I'm cheap. Besides,we register at the hotel about 6 pm, go out for dinner and leave it before 8 am. Paying a $100 a night just does not make much sense. When traveling, hotel rooms are for sleeping and sex and at my age spending a lot of money for either of these is a waste of cash. Last night we paid the price for my thrifty habits. The heating unit at the hotel kept clinking and clunking off and on all night. Needless to say, we didn't get a great night's sleep. Hopefully we will spend tomorrow night at home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On the Road but not moving

I never appreciated how many people travel over Thanksgiving until the last two days. When I drive home from my mother's home in Port Charlotte for Minnesota, my first stop is outside of Atlanta, next is southern Illinois and then home. Three days max.

Yesterday, we never got out of Florida. Tonight we are outside of Nashville. Still not even in southern Illinois. At every major intersection where interstate highways join, there were massive slow downs. I am talking about traffic jams that had no reason to exist except high levels of autos. Traffic jams that lasted hours. Hours of going 13 miles an hour with cars acting like water bugs as they jump around from lane to lane. And it was not just a single junction, EVERY intersection of interstate highways meeting other interstates was the same way. Georgia posted a message on their highway information phone service saying expect high levels of traffic and they were not kidding. They also posted an army of police cars on our route.

Our journey down to Florida was pleasant. Jeanne and I talked, listened to the radio and to CD with music from the 60's and 70's. On the way home, Jeanne got into a book. Not a word from her side of the car, EXCEPT when we needed to stop for oranges and grapefruits. Twice. No singing together. No communication. No help finding the right road. Just her with her nose in her book. By the end of the day, we were talking. I was telling her to get her nose out of the book. I also blamed her for our slow time with all her stops. (I almost blamed her for the traffic but I could not think of a good way of making that argument work). We did listen to the radio, but it was a weak, static filled, station broadcasting the Vikings win over Chicago. So high traffic, dark interstate without streetlights, rain, cars darting into and out of my lane and Jeanne listing to a static filled broadcast. Oh Yeah! I was also hungry.

Well, we are in out hotel room; she is watching the rest of the Vikings game as she reads her book. I want to go get something to eat. She says she is fine and not hungry. Pray we both arrive back in Minnesota still married and both of us a live.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Florida: On the road again...

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend to Everyone!
We're "on the road again", taking a road trip to Cape Haze, Florida for a Family Reunion! We rented a five bedroom house so that Scott (our oldest), Tammi (Scott's wife), Josie (age 8) and Sasha (age 5) from Salt Lake City, and Mike (middle son), Jessica (Mike's wife), Andrew (age 5),
Joey (age almost 3), and Catherine (age 9 mos.) from Elmhurst, IL. could join us for the week.

Both families flew in to Orlando a couple of days early to visit Disney World, which they loved and then joined us at the house last Sunday afternoon. The house had a small pool, just the right size for all of us and was heated to about 86 degrees. It was great for blowing off steam and for having some fun with grand kids.

We chose Cape Haze as it's close to Boca Grande on the Gulf - wonderful white sand beaches, great shelling and fairly safe swimming (not big waves like the Atlantic side). It is also located near Port Charlotte, where Bob's Mom is living in Lexington Manor - an Assisted Living facility, about twenty minutes from the house. We picked her up Monday, Wednesday and Thursday about 1:30 p.m. and she was able to stay and eat with us and "bond" with the grand-kids - she especially enjoyed holding little Catherine, who is all smiles right now and just a charmer.Then, we would drive her back home (to her own surroundings and bed) by about 9 or 9:30 p.m.

Mom Finch (Bob's Mom) is doing very well, for being almost 90 years old! She gets around well with her walker on wheels - she is only 87 lbs., so the lack of weight and being in pretty good shape are to her advantage. She is very thin - says that she eats like a horse, but metabolism burns it all up. She still smokes and enjoys a drink of Scotch that she nurses slowly. Doctor is not concerned at this point - at her age, we just want her to be comfortable and positive about life. She was kind of bummed on Wednesday as two residents had passed away the previous night and that very morning! But being with our gang brought her quickly out of her funk. I was glad she was with us this week.

We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner about 5:30 p.m. on Thursday - next time we will make sure our house has seating for all of us. We had a formal dining table that we avoided like the plague (for fear of breaking something) and a large table that seated 6 comfortably, adjacent to the kitchen. So we fed the kids first and then the adults sat and ate (most meals). It was really helpful to have a favorite DVD for a "show" after dinner so that all of us adults could linger before cleaning up the kitchen.

What did we do all week? Wake up early (7 a.m.) - little Catherine decided to be nocturnal this week (teething, perhaps?) and got both Jess and Mike up several times during the night. They were so considerate of us, trying not to wake us up. Catherine stayed in Mike and Jess' room in a pak n' play - but adjustments to a new sleeping arrangement are tough on infants. She is a little doll - she had a little green tennis dress outfit that was just darling.

We would eat breakfast together and then go swimming, or one day, Mike & Jess and kids visited friends in Sarasota, and the rest of us went to Boca Grande. One day, Bob and Mike & family toured Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte and Scott & family and I went to Costa Cay (a two hour boat trip to an island state park) for some shelling and walking the sandy beach and a picnic lunch. We were so excited to see bottle-nosed dolphins up close and personal, they were trying to race the boat that we were on and were about six feet away from us near the propellers at the back of the boat. They were so sleek, powerful and beautiful.

Evenings were Scrabble, Cribbage, lots of beer and wine and trading stories and memories - Mom Finch loved watching all of us laugh and tease each other. It was truly a wonderful week - we were so privileged to have all of us together - altho' we missed our youngest son, Eric - our first reunion without his presence. He spent Thanksgiving with his girlfriend Rachel's family in Ohio and is driving home to Chicago today. We are a close family and even having one sibling absent is noticeable (at least by me).

It is so neat to cuddle and be physically present to my kids and grandkids - to hug, to blow kisses on a baby's cheek and to roughhouse in the pool; to take long walks and tell bedtime stories and to ache for my adult children as they navigate the trials and tribulations of raising active, strong-willed and curious children. I so want to support them and assist, without interfering. They are such good parents - but, as we all know, lack of sleep, strange surroundings and lots of opportunities for testing limits while on vacation can cause challenges. Both Bob and I were so grateful for their willingness to be with us this Thanksgiving.

So...we are now on the way back home...left this morning and followed both kids' cars as we slowly drove through central Florida for one more day in the lush green and clear blue skies of Florida. We stopped for lunch together at a roadside small campground restaurant, next to The Peace River - Bob had a home-made crabcake sandwich and I had a barbecued sliced beef sandwich. One more opportunity to hold Catherine and hug kids and grandkids. We parted ways just south of Orlando and we headed for I-75 and headed into a massive traffic jam of Thanksgiving weekend returnees. At one time, it took us an hour and a half to go forty miles!
What a pain! Just before we got onto the freeway I scored a box of Florida citrus for $10 - grapefruit the size of Bob's fist, navel oranges the size of grapefruit back home and some wonderful tangerines.

We are in a Super 8 in Lake City, FL - will probably get an early start tomorrow morning and avoid traffic, if we can. We ate leftovers for supper (we cleaned out the house's refrigerator this morning) so had juice boxes, snack applesauce, salami/cheese/spinach sandwiches, celery sticks and the last of our homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Last night we had a great buffet of leftover Thanksgiving leftovers - didn't want too much left to clean out this morning. Missed going out for a family dinner at the seafood restaurant in Placida this time. There will be plenty of opportunities in future years - plus, the grandkids will be older.

More on the road, later...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

She is well over 60, works hard all day, has bad knees, and on her day off decided to paint the trim on the house. So while I was picking up another truck full of leaves, Jeanne is out painting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kids....

Jeanne and I have three great boys. Scott has a blog and is the one that showed us how handy it could be in keeping touch with our grandkids in Utah. He was our "inspiration" for starting our blog.

Eric is still single and lives with his girl and a puppy in Chicago. No grandkids from his side (yet) so communicating with him on the phone seem to keep us all in touch.

Mike, on the other hand, has three kids and refuses to have a blog. However, he has a talent with words so I am going to print some of his comments about his children and blogs in general on our blog.

When asked to start a blog, Mike response was:

“I actually suggested a one-page blog with the following caption:"The Chicago Messersmith Family Blog - If you are wondering what we are up to, pick up the phone loser!"

Not the response we wanted but at least colorful.

Jeanne and I have rented a house in Florida over Thanksgiving. Eric can’t make this trip because of work. Mike and Scott will be flying down with their families. Jeanne and I have decided to drive down since as a retired person, I have more time than money. I asked Mike if we should stop by Chicago so we could take some of his stuff with us. His reply:

“No need to stop in Chicago. We can handle everything. We plan to leave Sunday late morning for Cape Haze. We are staying on the Disney property at the Port Orleans Riverside Hotel. We would love to see you guys whenever - not sure why you wouldn't just join us Saturday during the day as well as the kids would enjoy having Grandpa and Grandma along for their day at Disney???? Don't you love your grandchildren??? The World's Largest Ball of Twine in Indiana is worth a casual stop but not Josie, Sasha, Andrew, Joe and Cate??? And you call yourselves grandparents.......I learned my guilt-tripping from the master - I think you know her. I have cc'd Eric to this email for maximum effect. Hope to see you at Disney.We are very much looking forward to the trip - it should be awesome. Mike P.S. This would be my blog entry if I had a blog: "Things are good. Cate is sick. Her tears, snot and drool are pooling together on her face as I write this. It does not look attractive, but apparently is edible."
Like I said, Mike has a colorful way with words.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What a beautiful day! Bob and I were busy outdoors - kind of our last gasp for fall. I decided to scrape and sand the trim on the north side of the house, painted a primer on some bare spots and then a coat of exterior. Lots of ups and downs on the ladder. The garage has a west side that is peeling so I scraped that and hope to prime and paint it tomorrow. I enjoy painting, as long as I am not stressed out or in a hurry. While I was painting, Bob was busy getting the remainder of our neighbors' leaves off our lawn. I told him that he's starting to obsess on the leaves - he wants a perfectly clean lawn - it ain't gonna happen! So, off he went to the local landfill in Maple Grove to dump the leaves. The neighbor kids were outside, too, with questions and wanting to borrow rakes, bags, climb trees and just fool around in the sunshine. It's fun to see them having a good time.

Tonight, after an early supper of leftover spaghetti, Bob and I set a bonfire going in the back yard and nine neighbor kids and Bob and I made s'mores (graham crackers, roasted marshmellows and chocolate). It gets dark early, so it was a perfect evening for telling ghost stories and singing songs ala "American Idol". The kids got a little crazy and Bob and I kept having to remind them not to run close to the fire, not to hold sticks in the fire, and only two s'mores each! We were all sticky - one little girl said that she was going to go home and throw up! Oh well! It's evenings like this that I really miss our kids and the grandchildren. Neighbor kids are fine, but I wish I could celebrate a fine, fall day with my own family.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jeanne just called and said she didn't feel well. I feel like I have been ridden hard and put way wet. So what does the H1N1 flu feel like? For the past week we have been getting to bed late and up early. Going outside in the rain or near rain can't have helped much. I just don't feel well.

This morning I spent time at the doctor's getting more blood tests and giving them samples of my urine. I am trying to get into a study on the effects of a drug to prevent the development of cardiovascular and renal health problems for people with diabetes. I would love to say my only reason for being in the study is to help mankind but I am not all that altruistic. To get into the study, you need to have a physical exam that is not ordinarily covered by my health insurance. The blood work alone would have given Humana, my insurance company, a stroke. Besides the exam, they actually pay me to participate. So I get elevated health care, get paid and help humanity. Everyone wins.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The rains are back again. In the past few weeks we seem to get rain for a week or more and then a day or two of sunshine. Friday night we had Leah and Henry over for dinner. I made lasagna and if leftovers are any indicator, the meal went over very well. Saturday was a nice day so we went out to camp and raked up our leaves. I am not sure how such a small lot can hold so many leaves. Sunday we watched the Vikings. Kind of nice to have a football team (two if you count the university) that wins on occasion. Monday no school so it was outside getting ready for winter time. I raked leaves all day. I took over five trips to the garden waste deposal area in Maple Grove. I was not the only one taking advantage of the nice weather. The line into the deposal area had to have had 50 cars in it on each of my five trips. I had one more trip today and the pile of leafs were as tall as a two story building and the line was still long in spite of the rain.

Today was a good day at school. It is amazing how smart some young people are. In my Ancient History of the West class, I was in a small group of four students discussing a letters written to Hellenistic leaders by the common folks of that time. The kids did a first rate job of analyzing documents 2000 years old. I enjoyed listening to their comments and just added one of two of my own to keep them on track. It makes me feel a lot younger associating with young people with sharp minds. The experts say that one way to ward off dementia to keep your mind active. College sure does that for me.

I am trying to get my middle son to start a blog so we can keep track of him and his family. Jess, his wife, is open to it, I think, but Mike response is as follows: "The Chicago Messersmith Family Blog - If you are wondering what we are up to, pick up the phone loser!" He has ‘forbidden” Jess to start a blog. Jess is a very independent, smart, self reliant woman who just may start a blog because her husband said she could not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No typical Day when you're retired

Today was a free day. No school. The house was clean. Way too nasty outside to pick up the leaves that fell since Monday. So, I decided to go food shopping. In the "good old days" I would get into the car, head for the market and buy what I felt we needed. I had the money to spend but little time. But now I am retired and have lots of time and little money so like a good shopper, I looked in Sunday's newspaper for grocery coupons. I even went on line for additional coupons. After spending the morning clipping and making a list, I headed for our local Cub supermarket. Cub had a lot of "buy one-get one free" offers so that is what I did. I only purchased items if I got a free one. When I was all done, my receipt said I had saved 47% on my purchases, Not bad but I still had items we needed so off to Wal-Mart. Sorry, Scott! but Wal-Mart has the lowest prices around and I would rather keep my money than give it to a grocery store. I shopped like I actually knew what I was doing. An hour later, I was finished with Wal-Mart and was off to the meat market. Our local meat market had an add in Sunday's paper advertising $75 to finish your deer if you bring it in. They also had a mess of "buy one-get one free" offers. Again I saved over 50% off my meat bill. Not bad. I must be a creation of my depression era mother. I just don't feel right unless we have more then enough food in the freezer and pantry. Right now I am all set for another three months. Feels good!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Crazy Weekend

We just ended a busy weekend. Friday night we had Scott and Valerie over for dinner. I tried a new recipe (for me at least) of manicotti stuffed with cheeses and spinach. Every time I do some fancy cooking and it turns out well, I am surprised. Everyone said it tasted good and based on the lack of leftovers; they were being honest with me. Later that evening Scott showed me how to enter new members on QuickBooks. Since I am the Certifying Office for our camp, I needed to learn how to bill and post new and renewed member's information.

Saturday morning we had a board meeting at the camp. We had to approve the budget and between that and other business the meeting was trying. People who drink too much, do stupid things. The Board had to balance the good of the community with the rights of the members who do dumb things when drinking. After an hour of debate, you get the sense no one wins on these kinds of issues. Once the meeting was over, Jeanne served up a Chicken and Rice soup I made. I tend to cook in large quantities so sharing the soup helped. I really didn’t want to freeze two gallons of soup. The soup must have been alright since we didn’t have any leftovers.

Saturday night we went over to CJ and Sandy's for dinner. It was delicious and they are just super hosts.

Sunday was quiet as I watched the Viking lose to the Steelers. Jeanne went off to a birthday party and played bingo for the evening. She didn't win so that was a waste of money.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Road Trip


Jeanne and I decided to take a road trip last weekend. We didn't have any place special to go to; we just wanted to leave town and spend some quality time together. We decided (based on a recommendation of one of Jeanne's friends) to head for northern Wisconsin and act like tourists.

We left the Twin Cities about 10 am and headed north toward Hayward. On the, way we stopped at anything that looked interesting, including cheese shops, wild life areas and typical tourist places we normally would avoid. We tried to eat at local “ma and pa” restaurants but discovered that they are harder and harder to find.

We did get a chance to see a large group of Sandhill cranes in a harvested corn field and spent time talking to a chainsaw sculptor. He created the moose on this page.

We spent the night in Hayward in a hotel room equipped with a hot tub. We read about a restaurant in a book in the hotel room that looked interesting so off we went. A half hour later we found the place thirty miles from the hotel. By this time it was after eight and we were starving - but the prime rib was worth the trip. The trip back to the hotel was a little harrowing since we saw numerous deer alongside the road and anticipated one of them jumping out just as we passed by. Fall is rutting time and lots of deer were on the move.

The next morning we were off again, heading north toward Cable and Bayfield, again stopping at fun tourist places. We did find some unusual pancake and wild rice soup mixes that we are bringing to Florida for the family reunion. We had lunch in Bayfield overlooking the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior. The fall colors were fantastic - golds and muted rusts. We stopped at an apple orchard between Bayfield and Superior - a lady waited on us, shivering in an old stone barn - the apples we bought were fresh, cold and crisp. Back on state hwy 35, heading south, we stopped and picked up a couple pounds of long-grained wild rice, harvested recently by local Indians. By 9 pm Sunday evening we were home.
The trip was short and relatively inexpensive but it did give us time to reconnect and talk. We didn't even have the car radio turned on while driving on Saturday, all day, and Jeanne stayed away from reading newspapers, books & magazines! We put on CDs during the last two hours of our trip and sang old love songs as the colors of a fall sunset changed from golds to crimson in the West. After almost 40 years of marriage, we both understand that to keep a marriage healthy takes time and effort, so this weekend was our investment in ourselves and our life together. It was well worth it.