Thursday, November 30, 2006


Rob and Beata are going out to run errands. I'm staying in to do some work on my computer. The dogs, cats, and I will have a quiet day.

I talked to Jill a while via IM. That always makes me smile.

We had pancakes last night for dinner. One of Rob's favorite meals. Tonight, I'm cooking. And I'm making meat loaf--it used to be something Rob loved, but don't know how he feels about it now. I just know that Beata loves it, so I'm making meat loaf, mashed potatoes, peas, and salad. Should be good. Of course, the side dishes will be enough for me. :)

I leave Sunday for DC. And on Saturday night we're going to try to play poker with some of Rob's buddies. Should be fun.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

11/29 Beans and more....

Beata met me at the airport and the drive home was lovely. It was around 72 degrees and sunny--can't beat that.

For dinner Bea made black-eyed peas and corn bread. We put raw onions on top of the beans. Oh my it was delicious. But being Europoean, Bea puts butter in everything. And trust me, everything tastes wonderful. But it adds about one million calories to each dish. I'm not complaining, because WOW--dishes taste superb.

Just wanted you to know why I haven't lost weight yet. Yes, I'm blaming my charming daughter-in-law. Couldn't possibly be the fact that I ate three helpings of the dish. Nope. It's all Beatka's fault.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

11/28 Twenty-six years ago

Twenty-six years ago today my Mom died. She was a beautiful woman who taught me to laugh--especially during tough times. I still miss her. I thought about Mom a lot during Katy's funeral.

Everything was beautiful, and after the burial yesterday some people came over to the house. When I went to bed around 10:30 there was only one person left, and he (Trevor) was sitting at the table talking to Frank, Jim, and Karen. They were sharing some wonderful memories.

I got up at 5 AM (with no headache, despite the full glass of straight vodka) and Jim took me over to Chris's house where I met up with Susan and Phil to share a limo ride to the airport. I tried to pay for 1/3 of it, but Chris had already taken care of it. How sweet.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my (temporary) home in NC.

Monday, November 27, 2006

11/27 Lots to share

Katy's funeral was beautiful. And last night at the visitation there were nearly 600 people. Unbelievable. She is so loved. Today the priest told some neat stories about Katy, and after the funeral we all went back to the funeral home for a catered lunch. My brother, Jim, and friend Chris sang a song to the tune of MTA. It celebrated Katy's life and also showed our sadness at our loss. Everyone loved it.

There was tons of food left and we brought it home. Some folks came over and we ate and drank. Some are still eating dinner, but I decided to retire to the office and get online.

I may have mentioned at one point about the bar here at the house. They have more liquor than most public bars, plus a storage room with hundreds of extra bottles. Most of the time, Jim, Frank, or a trusted friend are the only ones to bartend, because people tend to go overboard with "free" liquor. Someone from out of town went behind the bar and asked what I wanted. I said, "Grey Goose vodka straight up," expecting a shot or two. Instead he gave me a 20 oz glass that was filled to about 16 ounces. Then some ice was added. I said, "This is why they don't let just anyone bartend."

I mean, come on. That was freakin' ridiculous. But what could I do but drink it, right? Normally, I'm a beer drinker and have one or two if I drink at all. So I'm a little looped at the moment. As I said to Jimmy, just roll me into my room...I've already set my alarm because I have to get up at 5. Am sharing a limo with Susan and Phil who are flying too--Susan to Florida and Phil to NYC. It'll be nice to spend a little more time with them; they're great.

I'm looking forward to going back to NC tomorrow. It's been nice here, but grieving is exhausting. I can only imagine how tired Jim, Karen, and Frank are. I hope people go home fairly early tonight so they can get to bed at a decent time.

Everyone here feels the loss of beautiful Katy. And I know the family will be even more sad once they are totally alone in a home still filled with her things...but it's the only way healing can happen. To go through the crap and the pain and the sadness and finally to get to the other side--where memories and love lie.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

11/26 From Raleigh to Aurora

Rob and Beata drove me to the airport in Raleigh. I had them use my car since it had been sitting for two weeks. The ride was relaxing and enjoyable.

The trip to Chicago was uneventful which is about the best thing you can say. I did Sudoku and also read, so the time passed fairly quickly. When I arrived I took a limo to Aurora. Jim said it was about the cheapest way to get there, because no one was available to pick me up after all.

They sure had a good excuse. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Jim, Karen, Frank, and Katy had a tree trimming party. They live in a HUGE house and each year the number of trees grows. Some of them are very small and some are large. The biggest is in the living room which has a high ceiling—15 feet or so. This year there are 34 trees. Because this was one of Katy’s favorite days, Frank insisted they have the tree trimming party. Jim and Karen thought it might not be a good idea, but of course went along with it. And they are so happy they did.

It turned into a celebration of Katy—a pre-wake, as it were. About 40 people helped decorate, and also ate and drank. It was a great party…lots of work, lots of fun, and lots of crying.

Later, only two friends remained. Ray and Ginger sat at the kitchen table with Frank, Jim, Karen, and me. The reminiscing and the smiles/tears continued. Karen read the obituary, which took up an entire column in the newspaper. I learned some things about Katy, but none of them surprised me. She’s so loved. Even Dennis Hastert, who was the Speaker of the House, counts her as a friend. Whenever he was at an event that Katy was at he’d be sure to make a beeline for her.

I figured something out last night. Katie was a teacher for 38 years and had approximately 150 students per year. That means she taught about 5700 kids, not even counting those she touched in the hallways and cafeteria. Wow.

The visitation is today—from 2-9. The extended hours are because they know there’s going to be a crowd.

I’m writing from the kitchen table, and everyone else is still asleep. I went to bed around midnight and left the rest of them still talking. Soon I’ll go up to Panera Bread (thankfully, it’s close), and upload the blog.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

11/25 A nice visit

Beata's friends from Denmark came by the house yesterday--Anne, Kim, Lars, Vicky, and Stefan. It was such a pleasant visit. We really laughed a lot. Kim is the guy who worked with Beata at the Copenhagen airport. His wife, Anne, is from NC. Vicky also worked with Beata. Her partner Lars is a firefighter in Denmark. Stefan is their son. Everyone was pleasant with good senses of humor, but Anne and Kim were especially funny and I certainly enjoyed their company.

Woke up at 4:45 AM--a combination of thinking about flying to Chicago for Katie's funeral and finances. Funerals and finances, an interesting combination.

Friday, November 24, 2006

11/24 Post-gluttony

We didn't tell our guests about the loss in our family, so we did manage to have a good time. Beata and I cooked for a cast of thousands and ultimately only two guys showed up. This is a new phenomenon for Rob and Beata as they usually have a houseful. Anyway, Steve and Troy were both good eaters and the feast was superb.

After our meal (at least the first round), we played poker. Because neither one of the guys had ever played before, naturally they got lucky and were the last players with Rob. Rob ended up winning the entire pot, so that was good. At least we kept it in the family. :)

Today the sun is shining, the air is crisp, and it's such a beautiful morning. I'll need to get my laundry done today. Rob and Beata will take me to the Raleigh airport tomorrow afternoon for my trip to Chicago.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

11/23 A sad way to note Thanksgiving

Last night we received a call from my brother Joe. He and Cindy had gotten a phone call from our brother Jim in Aurora. Katie, his m-i-l, died about an hour earlier. He and Karen were absolutely devestated of course. Katie's husband, Frank, must be in a state of shock.

Katie has had a tracheotomy for quite a while because of some major lung problems. She was always on oxygen, but when she slept or at other times when there were problems, the oxygen went directly into the trach. She's been in and out of ICU, but when at home you'd never know from her attitude that anything was wrong.

Karen's an only child (a far cry from Jim's experience), so I know this must be especially difficult for her. And Frank and Katie have been closer than ever since his retirement.

Jim will be profoundly affected too. He's the youngest of the nine of us, and our Mom died when he was 16. Katie took over the Mom role, and she and Jim had a beautiful relationship.

Death comes at inconvenient times. The day before Thanksgiving is a sucky time. Their holidays will be forever framed by this. Just as in our family--Mom died the day after Thanksgiving (1980) and Dad died New Year's Day (1986).

Katie is one of the kindest women I've ever met. Even when she just came home from the hospital she would always ensure that I was comfortable when visiting. So gracious and sweet.

I stayed at their home two weeks ago on my trek from Milwaukee. They live west of Chicago, so it was an easy stop. Katie was her usual beautiful self. Selfishly, I'm grateful that our last words to each other were "I love you." Those are the same last words I had with my own parents.

I'm going to do my best to fly to Chicago for the funeral. Hope to find out the details today so I can make the arrangements. The church will be packed. Katie retired as a teacher but she touched so many people, and they remember. She's a very loved woman.

'Bye, Katie. You made the world a better place.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

11/22 Friends from Denmark

At the PX I walked away from Beata for a moment. Upon my return she was staring at this guy and he was staring at her. Finally she said, "I'm sorry. You look like my friend." The guy replied in Danish. Turned out he was her old boss from Copenhagen, when she worked as an interpreter at the airport. Not only that, but he had two other former co-workers with him. They were all visiting his wife's family who live in Sanford--same town as Rob and Beata. Unbelievable coincidence, and such fun. They're all coming over to our place on Friday. So after a huge dinner on Thursday, we're having company on Friday.

I love it!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

11/21 Planning for Thanksgiving

It doesn't look like we'll have the number we thought. It's either going to be a smaller group or a much larger one. Beata and I are working on the shopping list this morning. This afternoon we'll go to the Commissary--but I sure hope we know ahead of time whether we're shopping for 5 or 50. This is going to be fun. I LOVE large gatherings for holidays. It reminds me of home. Now if I can only find a couple of guys to make fun of me all the time, I'll be set; and would NEVER be homesick for Quincy.

Joe, could you provide training for some young soldiers on how to make fun of me? There's a skill involved. They need to be able to needle me without completely damaging my psyche.

Oh, I won again at poker last night. So I'm 2 out of 3. Can't wait to take people's money on Thanksgiving. I'll sure be giving thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

11/20 Another good day, then a shock

I'm sitting in my little office niche in my bedroom. It is so cozy and comfortable. I borrowed Rob's portable laptop desk and it fits here perfectly. I have my speakers hooked up and I love it.

So I'm in my own little fantasy world, and Beata tells me that a friend of Rob's was killed in Afghanistan. What an awakening to reality. I'm living in the home of someone who works in Special Operations. Robbie just came home and said he loses friends several times a week, but that this one just shocked him. It was a guy he's known for 14 or 15 years and served on a team with. The memorial is Wednesday. If Beata and I can escape from cooking for a while that day we'll go to the service.

A sad reality.

I prefer my fantasy world.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

11/19 Video

One of BroadMinded's videos is posted on my MySpace page. Hope you like it.

Today Beata fixed a nice Sunday breakfast. And we've each been sitting with our own personal laptops for some of the day. :) I took both big dogs for a walk and stayed out for 45 minutes. The weather is absolutely perfect today. I'm in awe of this place.

Tomorrow my vacation is over and I begin work. There are several articles I need to write, and if they're accepted for publication I'll make a decent chunk of change.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

11/18 A fun day

We went out for breakfast with Rob's SF buddies from Okinawa. Ended up at a Starbucks because IHOP had an hour wait. But it was great. I got to see a little of Fayetteville for the first time, and we drove by Ft. Bragg. I'll go there next week to see the place and go to the PX.

We're planning a huge Thanksgiving here. Rob's team (that he's teaching) has 14 members. He figures about 7 or 8 will say "yes" to Thanksgiving. Bea and I will know Monday evening how many we're cooking for.

We sightseed (sightsaw?)--okay, did some sightseeing--in Sanford. There are some beautiful buildings in the historic district.

Then on the way home we stopped at the store and stocked up for an evening of games. :) You know I'm happy. We had breakfast but no lunch, so we're cooking dinner right now.(or linner as Rob would say). We'll have this combination of lunch and dinner in about 1/2 hour and later tonight will have some snacks instead of a meal. I just made a salad and Beata is working on a pasta dish. Yum.

Friday, November 17, 2006

11/17 I WON!

Played Texas Hold 'Em with Rob and Beata tonight. We each put in $5, and I won. It was so much fun. And now I have $15 set aside for when they invite friends over for poker night. Am looking forward to that.

Today Beata didn't feel well, so Rob and I went into Sanford to run errands. We also had lunch at La Dolce Vita. I enjoyed spending some alone time with my son. Bea and I are together throughout the day, so this was a little treat.

I love her passionately, yet being with Rob alone was fun. I'm so proud of him. He's doing well in his career and is in a stable and loving marrage. What more could a parent ask for?

I took the dogs for a walk for 35 minutes today. The weather was warm and sunny, and the area where they live (Carolina Trace) is freaking amazing.

Tomorrow we're going out for an early breakfast with Rob's company commander from Okinawa. Then at 11 we'll meet with someone else. Should be a fun day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

11/16 I like this scene

Here's something I like--Beata and I are working on our computers and Rob is vacuuming. Love it.

Soon the dish network installer will be here to put a dvr in my room. I'm thrilled about it. Not that I don't want to spend time with Rob and Beata, far from it. I just enjoy TV at night before I fall asleep, plus I'll be working from that room as well, and I like noise while I work. Not conversation with othe people, but TV or music noise.

On a more serious note, it's really raining here, and nine people have died as a result of a tornado near Wilmington. That's an hour or so away. Normally I'd get a call from the Red Cross to work, but I'm thinking they are going to wait until after my orientation the first week in December.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

11/15 Quiet day and the zoo

I slept late today--8 AM. I thought it would feel good, but now I'm sluggish with no energy at all. Yuck.

Today I'm working with Beata on a project, and later will try to put my bathroom together. Tonight Rob has a night jump so won't be home until after 10. (He just called to say he'll be home for an hour or so this afternoon, and won't be home from the night jump until 2 or 3 AM.)

Beata and I will eat leftovers for dinner--last night's sumptious feast left us a lot to choose from.

The zoo are happy to have another human to pester. Bobby is the "leader of the pack." He's a golden retriver and is definitely Rob's dog. Bella is a mixed breed and definitely is Beata's dog. Chili was supposed to be Beata's, but he's crazy about Rob as well. Right now, this chili dog is sitting behind my in my chair as I type. He is adorable.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

11/14 More on Rob

I gave him many baby pictures and it was fun reliving those times with him. Also gave him a hoodie from Quincy Notre Dame and he loves it. I'll let Beata post about what her gifts were.

She made a scrumptious birthday dinner, complete with cake and ice cream. Afterward we played poker--Texas Hold 'Em. It was so much fun.

Right now I must clear off my bed. It's full of stuff I need to find a place for.

Today was good though, and such a pleasure to be with my son on his 35th birthday. Love you, Rob!!! (Jill and the kids called earlier. That was special too.)

11/14 Happy birthday to Rob

More about Rob later.

But I laughed so hard last night I almost fell over. I can't get into my bed--it's too high. We had to get a step-stool so I could climb up. Once I got there however, it was really comfy and so HUGE. I love this bed.

Some random things:

1. Driving from Milwaukee to Quincy I had lunch at a table next to some porn stars. How do I know? The conversation. Two men and three women. The men were in their 30s and the women looked like teenagers or early 20s. Interesting conversation.

2. What we got at the auction--I got a watercolor of Morning Glories. Delicate and lovely. Jane bought a picture that our nephew Adam did (the artist in NYC). She bid against two other women who are now going to buy direct from the source. Cool way to get business for Adam. Jan bought a $350 medical procedure for $35. No lie. People didn't know what it was so didn't bid on it. Since Jan is a nurse she knew the value.

3. Jan's hubby Tim went deer hunting with his friends. It reminded me of the time Rob was four years old and a friend brought a deer home and put it on his deck. We were at the house and Rob went outside. He came running back in and said, "Mommy, mommy, there's a donkey outside and it's going like this...." (Picture a cute little kid with his head cocked to the side and tongue hanging out.)

4. All throughout Missouri and Indiana I was surrounded by pickups on the interstate with dead deer in the back. At one point I had two in front of me, one on the side, and two behind. Plus there were dead deer all over the side of the road.

5. Stayed overnight east of Lexington KY and when I went to breakfast yesterday morning I heard two women talking at the next table. I finally had to say it, "Are you two from Wisconsin?" They had the distinctive accent. They were from Milwaukee too and it was fun chatting.

6. (Especially for DF) My Illinois I-Pass worked as an EZ-Pass in West Virginia and Virginia. I knew the EZ-Pass tolls were connected via computer but thought the I-Pass one was not. Well it is now, and that made my journey even more fun.

7. My sister Jan told me the West Virginia turnpike was so beautiful and she was right. Absolutely lovely. And it continued throughout Virginia and NC. Excellent views.

8. Enough for now. Will write about Rob's birthday later today.

Monday, November 13, 2006

11/13 Here at last

I'll write more tomorrow. But I arrived at 3:30 and Rob greeted me at the gatehouse. He introduced me to the guard and they gave me a pass for my car. Carolina Trace is absolutely gorgeous. The lake is beautiful and the trees around the homes are old and stately. I love it here.

My room is beautiful. More later. For now, I'm just plain tired. (Oh, Beata made the BEST pasta salad for dinner. Can't wait to steal the recipe and impress folks back in Quincy.)

11/13 On the road again...

Am at a Holiday Inn Express east of Lexington, KY. Now getting ready to head out again. By tonight I'll be in Sanford with my sweet son and daughter-in-law. Oh, and their zoo too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

11/12 Quick update from the road

On my way to NC, but not without some mini-adventures along the way. Friday night the slumber party was fun. There were five of us, only four old enough to drink. We had several blenders of frozen margaritas and danced to the music while watching the movies Annie Get Your Gun and Unsinkable Molly Brown. It's so fun to watch both Betty Hutton and Debbie Reynolds overact horribly and mug constantly for the camera. Jan made a super salad and homemade pizza, plus hummus and toasted pita chips for snacks. We had a great time.

Saturday we went shopping and I got my gift for Secret Santa. Then five of us sibs and two sis-in-laws--Cindy and Paulette--went to the QND extravaganza, a fund-raising event for our Catholic high school. It was called My Big Fat Greek Extravaganza and of course the food was Greek, and pretty good. You pay a fairly large fee to get in, but then have appetizers and dinner (and dessert), plus all the beer, wine and soft drinks you want. I told my sisters I would be the designated driver. It was music to their ears since both of them always have to be the dd. They definitely took advantage of the situation.

At one point (I was drinking Pepsi, by the way), Jan was drunk and Jane was drunk. I kept saying to Jan, "Give me the keys." I wanted to have them handy for when it was time to go. Jan gave them to me. Only problem was, Jane had driven and it was her car keys I needed. I sure got razzed about that--sober and I still couldn't remember which car we were in.

They had both silent auctions and live auctions and it was sure fun. Most of us got something in the silent auction. I'll post about that later. Right now, I have to boogie. Woke up at 6:30 (after going to bed after 1) and locked my keys in my SUV. It took the locksmith 2 1/2 hours to get there. Had to come from Iowa. Why? Everyone in Illinois and Missouri is out deer hunting. More about that later too.

I'm on my way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

11/10 Panera Bread in Quincy

Yeah, it just opened this month, so I can post easily from here while still enjoying my sister's company. It's so crowded though that I can't stay and sit and read everyone's blogs. Must hurry. But I'm so happy there's a Panera here now. It'll be handy when I move here.

Tonight sis Jan is hosting a slumber party. Jer, Jane, Jan, Jessica, Kristin, and Sarah will attend. Maybe more. We plan lots of eating, drinking, watching BroadMinded's dvd, and playing games. I'm excited...this is the kind of evening I miss.

Last night Jan and I just watched TV (Grey's Anatomy and ER). I woke up at 6:30 and her husband Tim snuck into the house. He's at a deer camp with friends but drove 50 miles to see me (and get rolls from Underbrink Bakery). Since I'm leaving on Sunday, I wouldn't have seen him otherwise.

Okay, Jan's coming back to the table with food so I need to go. Can you tell I'm happy?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

11/9 Time problems?

This morning I woke up at 6:30, showered, and waited in the kitchen for the others to wake up. Jim was at work already, but no one else was stirring. Then I noticed that I'd gotten up at 5:30 instead of 6:30. The clock in the guest room hadn't been reset for standard time. Should have looked at my watch. Well, it gave me plenty of time to read this morning.

It was great seeing Jim, Karen, Frank, and Katie. They're great and so hospitable. Now I'm happily ensconced at Panera up the road from their house. Bless high speed internet. :)

After I finish here I'll begin the drive to Quincy. Niece Sarah has a soccer game tonight, so it will be fun to attend that.

Three hours of driving down and 21 to go until I hit North Carolina.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

11/8 Megan and Tony and Rob and Randy and Anne and Patty and Nancy and Maria and Mark and...

Last night Megan and Tony came over and helped me complete the packing. They were so wonderful that we got done early and by 10 PM I was in bed watching TV. I woke up early this morning, walked to the corner restaurant for breakfast, and came back to finish loading up my car. Tony did most of it last night, but I had one suitcase to fit in the Sportage. That little SUV is full to the brim.

Rob and Randy came from Mayflower and finished up the truck loading in four hours, so that was a great relief. Rob was a little cutie and I had fun teasing him. As they were leaving I told a friend on the phone that Rob had a little boy crush on me.

While they were packing, Anne came over and visited for a few minutes. She dropped off the DVD of our sketch show from 10/13. All in all, it was good, but the sound wasn't too hot. It would have been awesome if we had been individually miked, but that would have been impossible to accomplish on our limited budget of $0.

On my way out of town I stopped at a McDonald's to check my email and meet up with my friend Nancy and her daughter Maria. Prior to that the realtor, Patty, stopped by Mickey D's so I could sign a paper to reduce the price of my condo. I wanted to do that because it's silly to keep it high when I'm paying the mortgage every month. I just want to sell it.

Had a nice visit with Nancy while Maria played on the playground. Unfortunately, my wireless didn't work at that McDonald's so had to wait until I got here to Jim and Karen's before I could check it. Of course I have been checking it all day with my phone but I don't like to write too many emails with it.

While driving to Aurora I called Mark, an old friend, to wish him a happy birthday. It was nice to surprise him.

I arrived in Aurora around 6, so we ordered dinner to be delivered while we watched the DVD of the show.

It was good to see Jim, Karen, Katie, Frank, and their friend Ann. Jim, Karen, and Ann are in the other room of the lower level setting up the snow village while I catch up here. Their snow village is unbelievable and so beautiful. Everyone gets to choose their house to "live in." I own the Starbucks and live upstairs from it. Yeah, and give myself coffee for free. :)

Tomorrow morning I'll go to Panera nearby to use the high-speed wireless. It's dial up here, and it's difficult to finish everything I need to do. No complaints as I appreciate the hospitality, but it will be easier to do other stuff from Panera.

Guess that's it for tonight. I'm so grateful that a major part of the move has been completed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

11/7 It's really happening

The movers come tomorrow. It's amazing that one can feel such conflicting emotions--happiness and sadness--at the same time.

11/7 Another stupid test....

A writer friend posted this on our forum.... It's kind of a fun little test. My score was 42--very close to being a Loyal Friend.

The Lively Center of Attention

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

11/6 Homeward bound...

In about an hour I'll take off for the airport and points west. I'm really ready to get this move finished.

Yesterday had elements of the sublime and hte ridiculous. Words weekend ended as it began--delightfully. I didn't get t o say goodbye to Glo, and that was the only bad thing. But I know I'll see her again soon.

The two hour drive from Mohonk to NYC took four hours. It was extremely frustrating, and we can blame it on a mistake on the Google map. First time I've experienced that. The traffic was horrendous because of the NY Marathon.

After we got back to the city everything got good again. My nephew Adam (Joe and Cindy's oldest) met us for dinner. We went to a nearby Chinese restaaurant, which provided excellent food. Then Adam came back to Dave's apartment and visited for a while. His job sounds great, and a wonderful oppportunity for him. It was really good to see him. While we walked back from the restaurant I called Cindy and said, "Guess who's walking with a handsome young man on the streets of New York?" I only wish I'd remembered my camera.

I was exhausted and went to bed around midnight Got up at 7--guess I'm just ready to get going.

My friend Nancy will join me at my condo this afternoon to help with packing. Right now all that's left is the bathroom and JUNK that's strewn throughout the place. All the easy stuff is done, now I must make difficult decisions about the junk...throw away, keep, store, take with.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

11/5 Winding down a little...

I played games until nearly 2 AM, and every moment was fun.

Today a man and his father approached me. It was their first year at Words, and they loved it. But the man said that he felt almost stupid during the presentation on crostic. And that yesterday when we had a puzzle challenge, the same thing.

I said, "I do understand. At home you're used to winning most games. Plus a lot of times you're the smartest person in the room. And when you come here, you feel like you're in kindergarten hanging out with graduate students." He smiled and nodded.

I told him that I feel the same way. At some of the games here I excel, but most of the time I'm merely comic relief. (I should remove the word merely, because they're certainly is value in it.)

Being surrounded by smart people really energizes me. I function on a small amount of sleep, and even thrive. Tonight I'll crash. But first, DF and I will go out to dinner in the city with my nephew, Adam. I'm really looking forward to it. Dave knows all the good restaurants.

For now, I just finished the scrumptious and sumptious brunch and will now play a final few games before we head down the mountain.

This place rocks. This weekend rocks. These people rock.

(More later about my friend, Gloria.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

11/4 More at Mohonk

I slept well last night. Suz and I shared a king-sized bed, and didn't even know the other was there. She uses a c-pap machine to aid breathing, and her new one is absolutely silent. Amazing. But her new apparatus she puts on her head looks like a helmet one would wear while sitting in an electric chair.

Erin McKean spoke last night. She's a lexicographer and the senior editor at Oxford Dictionary, America.

Can I just get my geek stuff out of the way? I LOVE being around word enthusiasts--love it! Hearing nearly everyone respond the way I do to a catchy turn of phrase, a clever new use of a word, or even the surprise of knowing the meaning of a multisyllabic word makes me smile. Don't get me wrong...not everyone is a braniac, although many are. What we share is an intense love of language.

Many of us are fiercely competitive as well. After Erin's talk, the large group broke into teams of seven and we played Scrabble Scramble. My team consisted of writer friends and family members--Dave Feldman, Suzanne Heatherington, Joanne Giulietti (Monk) and her husband Frank, and kids Steve and Theresa. Theresa is a freshman in college and Steve is a senior in college and a seminarian. They are a fun family and avid game-players (in a good way).

There were twelve teams. We had a hefty lead during the first two rounds, but lost in the last round to a team containing word guru extraordinaire, Richard Lederer. If you don't know who he is, shame on you...and google him to find out more.

After the official part of the evening ended about 15 of us hung out and played board games. One of my favorite parts of the weekend. Suzanne and I stopped playing around 12:30 AM. After four hours sleep the night before I needed some sack time. Plus I wanted to get up early today. I love mornings. I love nights too. It's the afternoons that I don't like. Let's institute siesta time in the US. That would work for me.

Breakfast was fun, sitting and talking to lots of folks. In a little while, Dave, Steve, Theresa, and I are going to Starbucks. It's 20 minutes each way so we have to time it well so we don't miss any of the talks. Richard is speaking at 10 and I don't want to miss it.

Tonight will be an all-nighter game-playing night. Wonder if I can last. We'll see.

Oh, yeah...and the scenery is just as breathtaking as last year. Wish I'd remembered my camera.

Love to all.

11/4 The handsome and talented...

Matt. He was the waiter at our table. Of course he's a very handsome young man (23 years old), but he also is good at his job. He allowed me to flirt with him without gagging--a sign of true maturity. And he was a good waiter, not happy until everyone was satisfied with their food. I gave him my room, I mean my blog address, and told him I was going to write about him. (Hi, Matt.)

Here you sit at large tables with members of your group. So we always are with people we know. That makes it lots of fun. But the food is extraordinary, reminding me of cruises I've taken. Lots of choices--even for oddballs like me.

Prior to dinner we had tea at 4, which I love. A gathering of everyone in the lower lounge, where there is a huge fireplace and a to-die-for view of the lake and the bluffs.

At dinner, Steve--Monk's son--had white wine with his steak. I told him I was going to write that as well. (Actually we convinced him it was okay. Now it's considered fine to have whichever wine you want with whatever food you want. Life is good.)

There's more to write--like all about the speaker and the game playing, but I'll fill that in later. It's breakfast time. And I want to roam around outside and enjoy the breathtaking vistas prior to the beginning of the program.

Friday, November 03, 2006

11/3 Mohonk Mountain

Last night Megan, Tony, and Mel did a great job of packing. I still have lots to do though, but am confident I'll get it done. We ate Chinese food around the cocktail table and had a super time. They all three made me laugh.

This morning I got up at 4:30 for my flight to NYC. Dave and Suzanne picked me up at LaGuardia, and we took off for the two hour drive to Mohonk. At New Palz we stopped for lunch at a restaurant/bar that had 400 different beers. I had one from Belgium--I've forgotten the name already, but it was similar to the Belgian white beer that I'm fond of.

We checked into the hotel on the mountain. Suzanne and I discovered that there's only one bed in our room. That's because originally her husband was coming with her. When he cancelled, then she and I decided to share again, like we did last year. Luckily the bed is king-sized, so we'll do fine.

At 4 PM is tea time, so we'll see more of our friends then. And dinner is at 6:30. Men must wear a jacket for dinner, and no one may wear athletic shoes. Etiquette from bygone days. :)

It's so beautiful here, it takes my breath away. Even though I can't really afford to be here (financially and time-wise), it's good that I came. It's Gloria's 25th (and last) year leading the Wonderful World of Words and I really wanted to be here to support her. And to have fun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

11/2 Wednesday night

Okay, it's Thursday morning, I'm sitting at Panera Bread, listening to classical music, drinking coffee, and it's snowing. IT'S PERFECT!!!

Last night was perfect too. I am getting a little teary-eyed lately and last night was no exception. Tony and Megan came over to help me pack. Tony is a friend from CSz, writing group, and Red Cross. We've crossed paths many times. And Megan, of course, is from BroadMinded, although we met a few years back at CSz too. Tony and Megan hadn't met before, but they worked well together packing.

And they are both competitive, so it was great fun watching them compete for the best packing trophy. My favorite parts though were the signs Meg put on the boxes. All of the fragile ones held the word "fragile" of course but she also wrote things like: Do Not Juggle, Don't Even Think About Dropping This, UberFragile, The fragilest of all the fragile things. And more. So I'm looking forward to getting amused again tonight.

I ordered pizza and it was good too. Tonight will be Chinese food. Megan and Melissa will be here and Tony too, if he can make it.

I'm at the Panera Bread near my old job because I dropped off three more boxes for Shawn to sell. She told me that my 13 inch TV didn't even make it out of the office. Someone bought it for $15 as soon as I left. She is such a good friend to be doing this. I'm trying to make her keep a commission on what she sells, because she's doing all the work, but she keeps refusing. I'll have to get her a nice surprise later.

Am looking at the snow and reflecting on how lucky I am. These people helping me are dear to me. And they would have never come into my life if I hadn't taken risks. The risk of trying to be a comedian at age 55. The risk of moving to Milwaukee. They've enriched my life in ways I can't even describe. I don't want to get mushy (yet), so I'll just leave it with--I'm one lucky bug.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

11/1 Tuesday night

I need to start with the wonderful-ness of Tuesday night. It started with Open Improv which was so much more enjoyable because some of my BroadMinded friends were there. Then 11 of us went to the New Yorker. Part of the beauty of the New Yorker is that when we go on Tuesdays, we're usually the only people there. So we get to karaoke all the time. I sang five or six songs myself.

The eleven of us were: Maria, Megan, Mary Jo, Melissa (all from BroadMinded), Adam, Mel, Nick, Nick, Patrick, and Dennis. And me of course. Every time Nick F. got up to sing he'd say, "This goes out to a special lady...." And we'd all laugh. Because he's about 25 and dedicated all the songs to me. I had a ball and felt so special. These people (and others) mean so much to me. But because they're so much younger, they aren't the kind of friends who I "hang out" with--watching TV, going to the movies, shopping, etc. So even though I'm going to miss these beautiful, talented people terribly, I would still be lonely here if I stayed in Milwaukee.

We stayed there until about midnight or so. And I went home with a big grin on my face, feeling loved.