Thursday, November 7, 2019

Welcome to Costco

Our Wednesday morning speaker at coffee was Costco and I've never wanted a Costco card before, but her pitch was so compelling I just had to sign up.
She told me to visit Costco the following day and let them know I had applied and get a temporary card.  Whoo hoo!

As I approached the Costco parking lot I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  This place is huge! I completed my application but wasn't able to add Left Brain to the credit card for some reason.  The sweet lady helping me said to go ahead and do my shopping and check with her on the way out, she'd make some calls for me.

I timidly approached the crowd pushing a shopping cart the size of a small barge.  Yikes, this is scary.  I wondered up and down a few aisles and was amazed at everything available.  

Now don't get me wrong, I've been in a Costco a couple of times with family and friends, but this is the first time I'd entered without backup.  

Where else can you buy groceries, clothes, tires, appliances, a kidney...oh wait, no...that wasn't a sign for a kidney.  My bad.

I found my chicken pot pies that were on special and a big box of spanakopita.  I guess I don't need to say big box, everything is supersized.  I grabbed a pair of leggings, some chips and a huge bag of dark chocolate with blueberries.  

I managed to get checked out and then flagged down the lady helping me before.  She got the credit card people on the phone and handed it to me.  Basically we went through the entire process over the phone, only this time a man was repeating everything back to me to assure accuracy so it took much longer.  It was okay until we got to the part where he had to read the entire terms of the agreement to me.  You know, the part you usually skip and just hit submit.  This took about 30 - 45 minutes.  I watched my frozen items  thawing in the cart and struggled to hold on to the last bit of my patience.  Patience is a virtue...just not one of mine.

Finally I was free and after struggling to find my car I headed to the gas pumps.  My first attempt took me to the exit and I needed to circle all the way back around to enter properly.  As I turned in I noticed each pump had about ten cars waiting their turn.  Oh screw this.  I left the line and went to a different gas station.  I paid more, but saved a bit of sanity.

I got home just in time to stick the mostly frozen items into the freezer, filling it to capacity.  I wiggled into my swimsuit to go play water volleyball as I desperately needed some physical activity at this point.  Left Brain asked how things went and I just said "there's a story...later" and kept heading out.

After the card arrives, I'll take Left Brain in with me to get added on.  He's never been in any Costco before, so he's in for a thrill.

Long Live the Queen of Costco

Monday, October 7, 2019

Trip trip from Hell

It all started out so well.  Our flight wasn't due to leave until 8:45 pm so we packed up the car after having a nice breakfast with Steph & Ted. What a great way to begin our journey.

As Left Brain was carrying the printer out to the car (the kids store it for us in their house) he slipped and fell down the stairs.  He was okay, thank G-d, and we continued to pack. 

Unfortunately the piece that opens the trunk came off in our hands, so there was no trunk to be had.  Most of the back of the car was already loaded with the last minute clean out of groceries, so the suitcases and such went on top of them and the cat carriers on top of it.  We had everything but Granny in the rocking chair tied to the roof.

We closed up the trailer on the Mississippi and headed for the St Cloud airport, with lots of time to the good little travelers that we are.  We indulged in a McDonalds burger & fries on the way since we couldn't stop and eat with the cats in the car.  So much for our new vegetarian lifestyle and my Weight Watchers program.  Since the kids couldn't take us to the airport we agreed to leave Brad (Emily's blue Prius) in the airport parking lot and they could retrieve it the next day.  All was going smooth.

We got checked in nice and early and waited for the people to arrive to put the baggage through the x-ray and open the gates for us.  I'm not sure how or why, but we were TSA pre-check approved so didn't have to remove shoes...only taking out the laptops.  Easy peasey - best trip ever. Or so I thought.

When you travel with pets they have to be removed from their carriers so the carriers can go through the machine. This time I was ready and had harnesses on them for a little extra grip.  Thank goodness for those calming collars...what a big help they are.  Little did I know that by the end of the day I'd wish they came in our sizes.

We got into the waiting area early and settled in to wait for the flight.  This is where things started to go awry.  Our boarding time was for 8:45 pm and then the announcement came.  There would be a delay until a mechanic could sign on on the repairs made to the plane before we could leave.  It would only take him about 15 minutes.  EXCEPT, he was in Minneapolis, about an hour and a half away and as it ended up he was not able to come at all.  Uh oh.

They sent for a "rescue" plane to come from Illinois.  When it arrived the luggage would be relocated to it and we'd board and head out.  They sent for pizza and set out soda and water for us while we waited.  Again.  Minor snag..this is okay.  Later than I'd like but we can deal with it.

The plane finally was ready to board about 12:30 am and we had to be on board, seated and ready to go by 1:17 am or the crew was out of hours and we wouldn't be able to go.  Since it was a different plane some of the seats needed to be reassigned.  I was hoping to get reassigned to first class.  That's a joke, son.  There is no first class in Allegiant.  Everybody gets the same little tiny cheap seats.

We set up to board, with the special needs people going first.  Did I mention we had about seven people in wheelchairs, complete with their "comfort animals" and some babies?  Needless to say the going was slow.  Hmmm, if I got George & Gracie classified as comfort animals we could save $200.  Yup, $100 each little furry head that has to slide under the seat.

We got seated and watched the fiasco as it unfolded.  Because of the change of seats some people insisted that the other people move so they could have their "correct" seat assignments.  This burned up time we didn't have.  Many people were looking pretty tired and shell-shocked by now and the whole scene looked like the walking dead.

We anxiously watched as they were trying to agree on a head count.  I'm not sure why that was so difficult, but it was just enough to push us into 1:20 am.  Game over.  Crew is out of hours and time to leave the plane.

There was an immediate rush to the service counter where vouchers were given to people for motels if they lived more than 50 miles away.  We did not qualify for that and returning home was not an option after winterizing it.  I stood in line and tried to make a motel reservation since we knew trusty old Brad was out in the parking lot.  At least we had wheels.  

There were no motels that had vacancies anywhere, but we were desperate to get outta there!  So we gathered up all our bags and raced out into the parking lot.  It was a Twilight Zone moment as we searched high and low for Brad, but he was not to be found.  Or were we just so tired we couldn't see him. We had definitely entered a new dimension.  We learned later that they kids came back for him about 10:30 that night.

Sadly we trudged back into the madhouse and tried to formulate some kind of plan.  I had a lucid moment and raced to the Companion Restroom.  YES!  It was open.  We stored all our stuff inside and Left Brain was not able to get comfortable on the tile floor so he left in search of a softer spot to sleep.  I can't blame him as the tumble he took earlier was leaving an incredibly huge bruise.  I'd post a photo of it here, but he was hesitant to have his butt posted.

I locked the door and released the cats so they could get out of the carriers they'd been cooped up in since 5:00 pm the previous day.  We had packed a couple of cans of cat food which the security people did not remove from the suitcase so I popped them open and set down the cans.  I explained this was like camping and they'd just have to rough it without having their little plates.  I opened the jar of peanuts and rinsed the lid to make a teeny tiny water dish for them.  Then I put a puppy pad in the corner and tried to explain that this was a makeshift toilet.  I just got blank looks.  They were not amused.

Then it was time to settle down on the cold tile floor and make myself comfortable and get some shut eye.  Yeah, right.  It was COLD on that floor.  I tried mind over matter, but apparently (and obviously) I have a lot more matter than I do mind.  After tossing and turning I tried to sit up and read to allow them as much time loose as I could. They were fascinated with the baby changer and enjoyed jumping up and off it.  I explained not to jump on the toilet because unlike home, these have no lid and they don't want to go swimming.

Well, this wasn't working at all.  I packed them back up and found a carpeted area and laid down between them and tried to sleep.  But by now it was 5:30 am and people were starting to wake (those that could sleep) and move about.  Sigh.

I'd suggested to a fellow passenger that since they gave us pizza last night maybe they'd spring for McDonalds egg & sausage biscuits for breakfast.  She hunted down one of the workers and by golly they agreed to do that.  They only had a small coffee pot, but started cranking out pot after pot to soothe those that indulge.  I said donuts would be a nice touch also and later on boxes of donuts materialized.  Maybe if I had just wished aloud for a plane to leave on time this whole scenario would have been different.  We'll never know.

After having our breakfast we went through the whole procedure again, but at least we could use our same boarding passes.  We're getting really well trained on this part now.  We settled into the waiting area.  The "rescue" plane was still connected to the loading chute.  The original plane, which had now been signed off on, was the plane we would be taking.  All they had to do was reload the luggage and food, move the old plane and put the new one into place.  As soon as the new crew arrived.

We were told the night before that the flight would leave at 10:45 am, but then the texts started coming in that there was a delay.  I really HATE that word now.  The new boarding time would be 12:00 pm.  We stared vacantly at two planes just sitting there and we were not able to go anywhere.  The new delay said it would be leaving now at noon.

Well, just like a show-down at high noon nothing was happening.  I was waiting for the next announcement of a ...delay, when suddenly the pilot and crew came in and leaded out the chute to the rescue plane.  Hallelujah!  The cavalry has arrived.  The pilot had to wait for steps to be brought to the new plane so it could  be moved out of the way.  Then he descended and went up into the rescue plane to pull it away and make room for our plane.  I really expected to see the wing go through the window the way things had been going.  Then the original plane was positioned for loading.  Explanations were given to those who had seat reassignments that they were to go back to their original seats.  Whoo boy!  

We finally got loaded and again with the headcount problem.  They had several names on the roster that they had to check to see if they were on board.  They were...they were the new flight crew.  Sigh.  I started to panic thinking "oh great" now somebody's missing and we'll have to try to find them before we can depart.  Not to mention they'd have to run the gauntlet of tired and cranky people who had to wait for them, but this didn't happen.

Minnesotans truly are the nicest people you'll find anywhere.  There aren't all those jokes about "Minnesota Nice" for nothing.  Everybody was in a relatively good mood for having been up extended hours and sleeping in the airport.  We envied those who were able to go home and at least grab a couple hours of sleep and shower.  My brethren were looking a tad disheveled.

But we were finally in the air and heading south.  Left Brain had the window seat, I had the middle and a very pleasant, but very large woman had the aisle.  I rode most of the trip in a position that looked like I was wearing a straight jacket.  I tried to pretend I was absorbed in my book but she didn't get the hint and kept talking.  At one point she fell asleep and I enjoyed the snoring sounds more than the chatter.

We touched down about 2:00 pm on Sunday and Nancy was there to pick us up and take us home.  It felt so good to walk in the door and be done.  We put some things away and about 5 pm he sat down to watch the Packer game and I laid down to rest my eyes.  I woke up at 8:30 am.

We decided to go enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then pick up the groceries that we'd need.  The car was completely dead.  Left Brain had to open it with a key since the fob wouldn't work.  Oh great.  Thankfully he was able to call Chief (our security guard) for help.  While we waited for him to arrive we took everything off the deck for the power-washing scheduled for the next day. 

Chief came over with a little device that should get it going.  Nope.  This baby was flat-lined and dead.  So he went to get the truck and jumper cables. They were able to get it running so we were finally able to go eat and get groceries.

McDonalds was the easiest choice since we could eat in the car.  So we pulled into the McDonalds on Power St and I went in to get our food.  Except I couldn't.  I walked around the whole building and saw they were doing a major renovation inside.  As I went back to the car a man got into the car next to us and I tapped on his window.  I asked him how he got in and he said he worked there, or he wouldn't have gotten in either.  It was drive in only.  Sign.  So Left Brain backed up and maneuvered his way into the drive through and we were finally able to get some vittles.

Then he took me to Wal-Mart and waited in the car so it could keep running while I got the groceries.  On the way back we  stopped at the office to sign in and visit staff as well as pick up the mail.  There was mail, so that was good.  I enjoyed chatting with Jon and just being back in general.

We both held our breath as he turned the key to see if it was charged up enough to start again.  It started!  Things are starting to turn around finally.

I put away groceries and we unloaded the last of our bags and then spent the rest of the afternoon sitting and petting the cats and relaxing.  Tomorrow will be another busy day getting the deck cleaned off before the power-washers arrive.  Then we can get the cat cage set up finally and Gracie can quit giving us the stink eye.

So, the worst is behind us and we look forward to a brighter and better tomorrow.  But meanwhile, I have learned the following:

Long Live the Queen of Travel

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Preparing to return to Arizona

It's been a great year here on the Mississippi River but it's time to get ready for our southern migration.  The weather in Minnesota this year has been unusually wet, almost feels like living in the Pacific Northwest. And the sunshine of Arizona is beckoning.

Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's from spending three whole days with my daughter, but I came down with a nasty head cold that laid me low for about a week.  Thankfully I'm starting to feel better and should be in prime shape to fly out of here next Saturday, complete with cats in tow.

Getting ready to return is always fun, all those lists of things that must not be forgotten.  Trying to keep the one checked bag under 40 pounds.

Of course there's always those unexpected surprises that come having your credit card compromised.  Yup.  I can see it now.  

It will get sent to Arizona and forwarded here just as we leave, only to be redirected again. Sigh.

During my stay here I developed a great deal of pain in my feet...not good for an avid pickleball player.  I finally broke down and saw a doctor, which is good because now I have a clinic in Minnesota to go to for my needs.  I have completely flat feet and planter fasciitis.  This makes my feet the only thin part of my body.

Due to the wait for the appointment to get fitted for orthopedics they will probably have to mail them to me in Arizona.  But there's always a silver lining and due to the nasty cold/flu that kept me off my feet for a week my feet feel pretty good right now.  I try to see the sunny side of things.

I learned about how to find a better shoe which led to an expensive shopping trip and was advised to lose weight.  So I joined Weight Watchers (yet again) with my daughter as my team mate in this endeavor.   Oh, I knew this day would come.  Maybe this will be the time it really works and I can keep it off.  It always works, it's a great program.  It's the maintaining.

I had considered the gastric bypass but for once I am pleased to say that I wasn't fat enough, plus there's no health concerns that overrule the lack of a larger BMI.  Hmmm, I'll bet I could get myself up to that limit without any problems, but that seemed backwards to me.  So I guess I'll have to struggle along with drastic measures, like healthy choices and (gasp) realistic portion sizes.

If I am successful this time, the silver lining to this would be that the teeny tiny seats of Allegiant Airlines might actually be comfortable in the future.

Long Live the Plump Queen with Bad Feet 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

50th High School Reunion

How is it even possible that 50 years have passed. Why that would make me....old.  I haven't gone to one of these in like forever, but something about it being the 50th seemed important.  Plus I could see my son one more time before leaving for Arizona.  

I had planned to just go on Saturday, see my son and attend the reunion and come right back. But then my daughter announced she was coming with me so I added Friday to the schedule to enjoy a nice girls road-trip.

We left Friday morning and our first stop was to Coney Island where I'd be salivating for a chili dog.

I made sure to take her to the original one downtown where the decor has not been altered. I'm doubting it's ever been cleaned either. 
It was just as disgusting as I remembered.

As we left my daughter announced that that was the worst hot dog she'd ever had.  I have to admit it wasn't as good as my memory recalled, but for me it was more about the memories shared with my grandmother as a young child.

Then we visited the Friendship Gardens, a beautiful little oasis tucked away in Riverside Park.  Take a look at their website for a more thorough tour by clicking here.

Soon it was time to visit Joe and finally meet the guys he hangs out with at the Sports Nut.  Oddly enough, this is a local bar where you can get homemade Korean dishes as well as incredible wings.

Steph and I went to see Heart of La Crosse perform at the Pump House Regional Art Center. One of my dear friends is part of this troupe so it was a thrill to watch her perform.

By this time it was back to the motel to check in and have a much needed night of sleep.

Saturday morning we were up and at it again with a drive to Soldiers Grove to check out the Driftless Art Festival.  This was always one of my favorite shows to do and  it was great fun to sneak up and surprise my artist friends.  We both purchased some great art and I'll share that in another post.

We had lunch and returned to the motel for a bit of a nap before the reunion.

I went to the reunion and met up with some old classmates. 
It was fun watching people try to figure out who each other was.  

It felt a little like being in an Alzheimer unit.

I did tell one man that if he didn't have the dignity to get fat and go bald he should leave.

The highlight of the night for me was seeing my Sixth Grade teach, Mr Lyga. 

I loved that man. 

He had a sparkling sense of humor and made me feel welcome and valuable...something I desperately needed at that time.

Steph went back to Sports Nut and hung out with Joe.

Needless to say, we both slept well that night after another busy day.

The next morning we spent a little time soaking in the hot tub at the motel and then headed to Ross for some shopping. I'd been in withdrawal for some time as there doesn't seem to be any of them in the Minneapolis area.  After that we met Joe for breakfast and then said our farewells.

On our way home we stopped at Ecker Apple Farm to watch the performance of Miss Myra and the Moonshiners.  

We caught a snippet of their performance at Crooners Supper Club and I've been dying to see them perform again. 

She reminds me a lot of Eve Zellmer from back home.  Red-headed and sassy. 
Click on the link above to see one of their songs. Their music, in my humble option, is like a blend of vaudeville, klezmer and gypsy.  After working around road closures to 694 and 494 we finally managed to return home.  It was a long day.  It was a long weekend.  But I was tired and very satisfied.

Long Live the Queen

Monday, August 12, 2019

Minnesota Gardening

I've been busy digging in the dirt here in Minnesota because, well...because I can.  There is no yard in Arizona to speak of other than my cactus gardens, so it's fun to putter around in the soil up here.

With our tree filled lot it's not easy to dig up a new garden bed.  In fact it's often necessary to use a shovel, an ax and pruners to cut through enough roots to make a small hole.

It's hard to imagine that three years ago this was a creeping Charley infested mess with no grass to speak up. Just some sketchy dirt here and there among the weeds.

But some of my new projects involved raised beds so the soil is lovely.  The hard part was buying it and carrying it home. Those bags are insanely heavy.

I had hoped to install a screen house this year, but there's just no space for it with the trees.  Oh well, at least George & Gracie have a screen house.

Over the next few posts I'll share each new garden with you.

Long Live the Queen