Sunday, October 6, 2019

Fast Forward

I am writing this on Sunday, October 6, 2019.  I am in a McDonalds somewhere.  I just finished gobbling down a McMuffin and a salad.  But my main reason for being here is to write to you.

I have so much to tell and I wanted to tell it in order of when stuff happened.  It's too much between the last post and the loss of my wallet far from home.

Days and days of driving and my body is so stressed I am almost shaking with adrenaline... or is that caffine.  On the way up to Wisconsin I drank two full thermal-cups of coffee each morning and didn't feel this way.  But then I didn't drive day after day after day, sometimes between big semis and sometimes sitting in heavy traffic waiting for the light to change so I can creep up a few feet and sit and wait some more.

I have decided I love seeing people and visiting with family and friends.  I love seeing new places.  What I don't love is the driving day after day to get home.  It might be different if I had not booked another event that I need to get home for.  It might be different if I didn't lose my wallet along the way.

Today I have gone a little over 200 miles already and I have stopped for one coffee break and one strictly bathroom break.  I have stopped to wash the car.  I took a 20 minute walk once.  In between I drive another 45 minutes or an hour.  Still I am miles and miles from my destination.

And it is all affecting my mental health.  I am not smiling these days. 

I think back to the trip I took with George in 2016.  And though I was grieving at times, I was ecstatic often.  I remember turning off the highway in Washington then on a gravel road and opening my arms and spinning and laughing at the freedom and beauty of it all.

Was part of the thrill of the experience the expression of my feelings to the person I was with at the time?  Letting George know how wonderful I thought it was.  Maybe I was trying to pull him into the joy of the moment too.  And by doing that, it enhanced the feelings.

But I also remember the trip back home (once we decided to return home) was agonizingly long.  It was physically painful to sit in the car day after day.

Sometimes in the car I am listening to NPR.  Over 100 million of us are over retirement age in the United States.  That is almost a third of us are old like me.  I am 66.  There are over seven billion people on the planet.  When I was a kid it was at least two billion less, maybe three billion fewer people.

Then I hear someone talking about how racism was on the decline just a few years ago, there was hope for the elimination fo descrimination.  And now it is back on the rise.

Then I hear a program of how the whale population is declining because their food supply is declining due to global climate change.

And here I am driving and driving and driving for my own pleasure... in the hope of having some fun.

 I am on the edge of tears sometimes.

So I have stopped here at McDonalds to have a heart to heart with you... which I just did.  I don't want pitty or up-beat praise from you.  I just want to share... and maybe one or two of you will think, "Yes, I have felt that way too sometimes."

So where did I leave off.  Oh yes, I was in Janesville visiting Jeremy.  I just got a text from him a while ago letting me know he extended the shelves in the garage that he put up while I was there.  He worked on it yesterday... while I was driving, and driving.

On September 29th I visited my long-time friend, Kathi.  It was raining so our plans for a walk were squashed until she came up with the idea to walk at the EPIC center.  If you have never been, and you are in the area.  It is worth a day or two to tour these buildings.

EPIC is an ongoing business making medical software.  The owner is supporting Wisconsin Artists by buying their artwork and displaying it in their office complex.

The office complex is clusters of buildings connected by tunnels and walkways.  Some have a fairy-tail theme, some more an earthy-theme.

We only went through one circle of buildings.  It was amazing!  We were there on a Sunday so we were able to enter the conference rooms.   I kept saying, this was an interior decorators dream job.

We both agreed that this looked a lot like my son Jeremy, before he got ill and gained the weight caused by his illness.

On September 30th, Jane and I drove out to Sunset Park to by pass the construction (block) on the Glacial Drumlin Trail.  We rode to Delafield and had lunch. 

 Great ride. 

Jane invited our fellow friends over for dinner!  Diane and Rick joined us.  It was great seeing them.  Thank you Jane and Mark for the place to stay, allowing me to use your home as my base as I bounced from visit to visit.

For my last night in the Waukesha area I was staying with friends Sandy and John.  I spent the morning at Steaming Cup in downtown Waukesha sipping coffee and working on the books.

Sandy had invited me to lunch.  Then we went on a long walk around her neighborhood.  My hip hurt but not too much.  I was glad when we got back though.  I spent the rest of the day working.

Then they drove me to a bar for beer and a Brewers Game on the many TV screens.  It was fun, though I ran out of energy before the game was over.  I still don't know who won.  The Brewers were ahead by two runs when we left.

October 2nd I was to take the Ferry across Lake Michigan!  I was excited.  I woke early and left Sandy and Johns in the dark before they were awake.  I worked at a coffee shop and then I remembered that Sandy had asked for a copy of Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  She had been waiting for my visit to get her signed copy.  I was only a few miles away, so I returned and placed a book on their doorstep.

Thank you Sandy and John for a great meal and a fun evening.  I may become a baseball fan yet!  Especially if I can watch with a cold beer and nice friends.

I drove closer to where the Ferry launches and went to Anytime Fitness.  I was thinking that if I hadn't had to wait for the Ferry I would be in Indiana by now. 

 When I left Anytime I checked my phone.  There was a message from an 800 number.  I almost didn't check it.  When I did I learned that the winds were too strong and the waves too high.  They had canceled the Ferry and would send me a refund.

Oh boy.  I had already set my sights on doing the Cardinal Greenway Trail in Indiana.   That means the only way to get there is to go north around Lake Michigan or south through Chicago.

Chicago wasn't so bad, except there were tolls on this route.  And I wasn't always in the right lane to pay cash.  There is a sign saying I have 7 days to pay online.

Without a secure connection I couldn't pay by card.  I would have to hurry home to pay.

 Drive Drive Drive.  Arg!

I didn't make it as far as I hoped for the day.  I stopped to walk in a park with an amazing play ground.  There were kids in the playground.  I felt I couldn't go in and play.

I got a motel room instead of going to a campground.  It had rained on and off all day and the sky still had threatening clouds. 

In the morning, October 3rd, I was off again.  Driving Driving Driving to the trailhead in Gaston, Indiana.  It was such a relief to ride!  The autumn leaves, the fresh air, the scenery was similar to that I saw driving, but it was totally different at bike speed and without the windshield.

I don't have a speedometer so I don't know how far I went.  My guess is about 20 miles. 

Back at the car I made myself a PB and Apple sandwich with the bread I got from the breakfast bar at the motel that morning.  I ate it while driving driving driving.

I wanted to avoid Atlanta.  I wanted to enjoy my journey home as much as I enjoyed the journey up to Ohio and Wisconsin.  But I also wanted to be home a few days before I took off again.

Drive drive drive. 

On one of my breaks walking I came across a yard with lots of halloween stuff.  Bloody heads hanging from the trees over my head.  Bloody fingers on a rock next to the sidewalk.  Ewww!

Another night in a motel because I drove too late into the evening and I didn't want to arrive at a campground and find it full or disgusting.


 Coming up the next day.  Join me for more Trippin' then.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bugs, Bike Game, Bride, and Building Project

Saturday, 10/5/19

On the last post I left off that I had just arrived in Waukesha, Wisconsin and rode, dined and stayed with Mark and Jane.

I hope to add to that.  It has been a crazy couple of days.  I lost my wallet! All my cards, my ID, some cash, gone, gone, gone.

But that is a long way from Waukesha, friends and family.

So I will start where I left off, with my first full day in Waukesha.

September 27th, 2019, I attended a wedding!  It was beautiful and fun and more.  That was in the afternoon.

In the morning I went for a walk.  I saw that Wisconsin milkweed, though it looks different than Florida milkweed, gets the same bugs.

 Mark got a game for Father's Day called Flamme Rouge?

It is a bicycle game!  Each player gets a sprinter and a roller.  You utilize drafting behind other riders and being at the front is harder...  like real bike racing.  But it is unlike real life bicycling because I won, and that would never happen on our real bikes.  Both Mark and Jane are faster than I am.

I don't normally get dressed up.  Even for weddings I dress up but not really dress up.  The wedding I was attending was for the daughter of the woman I met through Waukesha Literacy.  I was a volunteer tutor of English and Elizabeth was recently from Mexico trying to learn English.  I remember the first time I met her in her small dark apartment.  Her daughter Ile (pronounced EE-lay) was about one year old, walking around with a bottle.

Our lessons would often be interrupted by Ile needing attention.  We met for years and Elizabeth got better and better.  I watched as Ile grew up.  Elizabeth is now a US citizen.  She has worked very hard as a single mom.

Ile is very smart.  She waited until after graduating from college and settling into a career to get married.

Priviously I had attended a baptism for her son.  I knew how the women dress for these celebrations.  I had better dress up or stand out!

I don't have a formal dress.  So I shopped while in Rhinelander at thrift stores.  Guess how much I paid for this beautiful dress!

My sister told me not to tell. 

My sister said, "Be sure to get a prom picture!"  I had Mark take my picture before I left for the wedding.

The wedding was in a barn north of Oconomowoc.  Jane loaned me her dress rain-coat.  Thank goodness!  It was a cool and wet day.

They provided blankets and moved the services to inside the barn when it started to rain.

It was fun seeing Elizabeth's family.   Here I am with her sister.

 Elizabeth's mom gave me a wonderful hug.  She doesn't speak English and I struggle to understand Spanish.  She raised and put eight children through college as a single mom.  She is an inspiration and an incredibly strong woman.  When I visited her in Mexico with Elizabeth she was running a dress shop.  She travels to the US sometimes to buy nice dresses to sell in her small town of Luvianos.

 I also got a very nice greeting from Carolina, her youngest sister. Last I saw her she was a teenager.  Now she has two sons.  She is so beautiful!

Dang!  Elizabeth was so busy, I didn't get a picture with her or with the bride.  There was a photo booth and Elizabeth encouraged me to go down and get a picture.  I was behind a group of four girls between eight and ten years old.  It was so much fun watching them try on accessories.

The ceremony was bi-lingual.  Elizabeth gave her giving-away the bride speech in Spanish.  The bride and groom said their vows in English.  The minister did most of his talking in Spanish and sometimes interpreted in English.

The Groomsmen all did their speeches in English.

The DJ played all kinds of songs.  Some from Mexico, some from the 60's some from today.  I only danced one dance when Elizabeth pulled me onto the dance floor.  It was some kind of Mexican dance with a lot of stamping.  I was barefoot at the time and I was afraid of getting my toes stomped on.  Elizabeth was pulled away in the middle for another group photo.  I was glad to get off the dance floor and away from all those stomping boots!

At around 9:30 I was done and was half way to my car when I heard a line dance song.  A dance I knew!  I ran back in... "to the right to the right to the right, to the left, to the left, to the left, now kick now kick now kick -- walk it by yourself..."

Done, happy, I drove back to Mark and Jane's.

Saturday, September 28th was a special day.  I had not seen my son and his wife since George's life celebration last year.  Since then they had bought a house in Janesville.  Jeremy had told me I might be helping him clear out the garage a bit.  Yes!  I love to help with projects like that... I do the manual stuff, someone else figures out where to put stuff and what to toss.

Jeremy had already bought the lumber and watched the YouTube videos for the shelves he wanted in the garage.  After a tour of their home, I got to take apart boxes for recycling and help hold up boards and read the level.  It was fun!

Then we relaxed by a fire before dinner.  Lovely conversation, nice dinner, fun project.  Thanks Mel and Jeremy!  This was my first visit to you since George has passed and you made it super-duper!

Well there you have it.  Two more days of my trip.  Internet is slow here in the evening.  Maybe I will try again in the morning to write and post.   In the meantime, enjoy your moments.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

People and Fish - Leave before you stink

Today is Thursday, October 3, 2019.

I am in a Super 8 Motel in Rochester, Indiana.

I was supposed to be in Holland, Michigan.  That was the plan but you know how it goes when you are traveling.  Things happen and then you find yourself on a different road with a different destination.

I haven't taken the time to blog because my days were full up with visiting with friends and family.  So I have fallen behind.   It will take a couple posts at least to catch up.

The last post I was in Steven's Point where I spent the night at Barbara and Rolf's home in the woods not far from Steven's Point and Amherst, Wisconsin.

I got up at six and was out the door by 6:30.  Before I left I brought in a paper copy (one of the few I brought with me) of The Journey Continues.  We shared hugs and I was on my way south toward Waukesha where George and I lived and he ran his business for over 25 years.

But first stop was John Deere where our former employee, John Richmond now works.  He started at Rentapen fresh out of engineering school.  He wasn't married then.  Now his oldest son is in college!  He worked for Rentapen, I think, 17 years.  A few of those years he was the only employee and he worked in our basement with George.

Once when the business moved and George was getting his own office, the employees pitched in and got George a Carl Brenders print and had it framed.  George loved that picture.  I am glad it found a good home with John.  I know John will remember George when he sees that picture and all that he learned while working at Rentapen.

John still does manufacturing engineering, but he also runs a 3D printer.  He gave me a sample.  This John Deere plant makes Gators (a small 4-wheel-like tractor).

After I left he texted me a sample of his daughter's art work.  She is in high school and loves to draw.  She has made up these characters and keeps drawing them in different situations.

We chatted in the parking lot for quite a while about all the folks we knew in common and where they are at now.

My next stop was in Hartford, Wisconsin.  My dad's sister lives in a condo there.  I stopped at a grocery store and picked us up some deli salads for lunch.   While we were visiting my Aunt showed me documents she had found in my Grandmother's attic.  Large and full-color baptism and graduation papers.  The church papers were in German.  My Grandmother's family had emigrated from Germany and were in Chicago.  They must have gathered in a neighborhood full of German speaking people that had a German speaking Lutheran church.

I had an appointment, so I had to go right after lunch.  I was meeting my friend Jane to go for a bike ride on the Glacial Drumlin Trail starting in Waukesha, Wisconsin!   It was a perfect day for a ride, sunny and just warm enough.

I got to the meeting spot early and sat on my trike watching the busy bees and flies on the ... rag weed or golden rod flowers and the Asters.  I was amazed and delighted. 

I took a movie.  But at I write this I am still in the midst of traveling and I expect to go ride a new trail today.  I don't want to sit in my motel room getting a video of bees ready for you to watch.  Though I love you and love that you are Trippin' with me, new adventures and moments of buzzing bees are waiting to be experienced out there.

I am trying to load it directly without edit.  We will see if it works.

I thought that Mark was going to be working today so it would be just Jane and I riding, but Mark adjusted his work schedule and came to ride with us!  Yay!

They are doing a lot of construction in Waukesha.  It is affecting the Glacial Drumlin Trail.  We rode down to where they are creating and underpass under Hwy TT.  But we couldn't get through.  We then rode a different branch of the trail.  There are parts of the trail where the fields on both sides were filled with fall wildflowers.  I wondered if the county had planted them or if it was natural.  I am sure they have to do burns to keep the trees and invasives from taking over.  I was smiling as we rode the curves and small undulating hills.

 After our ride we went to Mark and Jane's home.  I am staying with them several nights.

They often skype with me and did so right on through George's illness.

When I was planning this trip they kept saying, "Come stay with us!... You can stay here while you visit folks." and "You can stay with us as long as you need."

For dinner they took me to a vegetarian restaurant, Cafe Manna.  They didn't let me pay!  Thank you so much, Jane and Mark!

Wow, that is was a full day!  And it was only one day...  So much to tell you!  But no time right now.  I gotta go ride!  And .... drive and drive. 


While I was at Mark and Jane's home I was able to listen on-line to the rest of the audio-book and send my corrections to Robin Seigerman the voice actress.  She made the corrections and now it is getting closer to being published!

She did such a great job!  I think listeners will have fun riding in their car "Trippin'" with us while they are on their own trip.

The AlzAuthors is featuring me right now in their newsletter they published yesterday.  Click here to read it.

Topping It Off In Wisconsin

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