What a great night!…Minnesota Meet & Greet was a great hit!…Thanks to everyone!

Marie and Bill started following us at the beginning of our posts which began in March 2012. It was Marie who inspired the fabulous idea of the “Meet & Greet.” Thanks, Marie and Bill! It was wonderful to meet you in person at long last and fun to meet another couple who are “glued at the hip” like us!

It couldn’t have been a better evening!  Our readers came from as far away as Wisconsin with several of our guests driving from distant locations in Minnesota.  No words can express how grateful we are for the opportunity to meet and see some of our readers/friends from here in our original home state.

Then, a handful of wonderful old friends also showed, adding further to the experience of the evening at Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill located next door to our hotel in Plymouth, MN. 

The restaurant did a perfect job in handling our Reader’s Meet & Greet. We’d decided to host the food, which consisted of happy hour appetizers and pizzas, and leave the purchase of drinks and cocktails to the guests.

My friend Chere with me last night with whom I’ve stayed in very close touch all these years of travel.

Grizzly’s staff was impeccable in serving the drinks with separate tabs and serving the starters seamlessly in a steady flow as the guests arrived. The food, the service and surprisingly the usually noisy ambiance worked quite well. 

Before the event, we were a little concerned the usual happy hour music would impede conversation, but as it turned out, they lowered it a touch for us, and we were able to talk without hollering.

Earlier in the day, I’d made an agenda for a short presentation but had to toss it to the wind based on the setup and background noise. But, as it turned out, it didn’t matter after all. Everyone seemed to have a good time chatting amongst themselves when Tom and I were busy moving about in an attempt to visit with each of our guests.

Us with Jodi and her lovely daughter Meredith. Jodi is often included in conversations when we describe our “friend/reader in Minnesota who reads our daily posts on the bus on the way to work each day. Jodi, your generosity was shocking and unexpected. Thank you for your kindness and love. Even we are speechless!

It was fun to observe how many of our guests had so much in common with the other guests they’d never previously met. Many went to the same schools, knew each other’s friends and had similar experiences. 

Several in the group are big fan’s of Tom favorite radio show, KSTP AM 1500’s “Garage Logic.” I could hear the laughter when they mentioned the familiar lingo avid listeners have come to know. 

Many in the group had been following us since the onset of our travels while others joined in along the way. Many had found us based on a local newspaper story about our upcoming travels, published in 2012, before the time we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012.

Friends Peggy and Maury, we’re so happy you came!

Tom and I were reeling from the sheer joy these enthusiastic readers/friends brought to us last night, driving in rush hour traffic with endless detours due to seasonal road construction and for taking time out of their busy schedules to share a bit of life with us. We are humbled by their interest and so grateful to see some of our readers face to face.

For those of you in Minnesota who were unable to join us, we appreciate your kind email and Facebook messages expressing your disappointment in being unable to attend. You, too, will be in our hearts as we continue on our journey outside the US on August 1, 2017, in a mere 51 days.

Our dear old friends, Lisa and Brian, an extraordinary friendship for 30 plus years in the making.

We’re hoping to conduct similar events in other parts of the world down the road including upcoming in Las Vegas on July 21st. (The location is yet to be determined until after we arrive in Nevada on July 7th to check a few possibilities in easily accessible venues). 

In all, the cost for us (since we always post the cost of everything we do) was $183, including $50 in tips for the helpful staff. Grizzly’s prices are reasonable both during happy hour and after.

Joanette and Denny. I share low carb recipes with Joanette in Facebook and am thrilled to have them both sharing our journey with us. Joanette surprised me with two of the most delicious chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had, all low carb, grain and sugar-free.  I ate one last night and will enjoy the second tonight. Thanks so much! The recipe, please, Joanette!

After the evening ended and I ordered a salad (none of the appetizers worked for me) and we were on our way back to the hotel, unable to wipe the smiles off our faces for an evening well spent.

We apologize to those who’s photos we didn’t take. Engrossed in lively conversations, we missed several photos ops with others who had kindly joined us.

Writing about Joanette’s cupcakes makes my mouth water. I can’t wait to savor the last one of the two she’d baked for me. When I have a kitchen again, I plan to make these!

Thank you, dear readers/friends. As much as we’re enjoying our time in the US visiting family and friends, we anticipate being “back in the world” again as we continue on, sharing our adventures along the way…

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 10, 2016:
Tom asleep on the locomotive, early 90’s, while deadheading (being transported to another location while not on duty).  Technology story on last year’s post shown here.

Tonight’s is our Minnesota Meet & Greet at 5:00 pm at Grizzly’s in Plymouth, Minnesota…Rundown of a typical busy day…

Perfect pink orchids.

Before we arrived in Minnesota two weeks ago today, we’d anticipated we’d be visiting a wide array of sightseeing spots in Minnesota when we were with our family members during this extended visit. 

Waterfall incorporated into the landscape.

As it’s turned out, our time together has revolved around the usual activities that family members who live nearby who do many things together.  How often do you go sightseeing in your own town, area or village?  Not much, if any.

We’d assumed we’d be taking photos of popular tourist locations which we’d post online with our many stories to tell.  It hasn’t been that way at all.  We’ve blended into daily life commensurate with that of most grandparents, driving grandchildren around town, attending ballgames, local events, activities planned at parks and lakes.

Lush lined walkways and paths.

Sure, we have a few tourist type events planned on our remaining online Cozi calendar and family organizer which no doubt, we’ll share in upcoming posts.  But, we’ve hesitated to post photos during the flurry of activity at our family member’s homes and out and about at more typical points of interest.

I must admit, I’ve often left the camera behind when I’ve had the one-on-one days with the grandchildren preferring my hands be free to engage with them as opposed to snapping photos.  Plus, we’ve visited many kid-related venues where surely parents and grandparents don’t want their little loved ones  appearing in our photos.

Every path providing visual cotton candy.

Plus, I haven’t wanted to leave the camera in the car while at a movie theatre while I attended  this week’s three “kid” movies including “Captain Underpants,” “Wonder Woman” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Long Haul!”

As a result, although I continue to be mindful of potential photo ops, we’re totally engrossed and committed to living and loving to the fullest during our six weeks in Minnesota, now with only 28 days remaining until we depart for Nevada.

Appealing restaurant at the gardens.

Speaking of photos ops…tonight is our Minnesota Meet & Greet at Grizzly’s Wood Fired Grill at 220 Carlson Parkway, Plymouth, MN 55447.  If you’ve found you can or cannot attend, please email as soon as possible. 

Space is limited at the restaurant.  We’ve had a few cancellations which we’ve been able to fill in the past 24 hours.  But, it’s still not too late to notify us for a spot if you’d like to attend.  Typical for most events we expect a small percentage of “no-shows” and can  easily overbook by a few more spots at this last minute. 

Appealing decor and menu.  But, we seldom dine off the ship when on a tour with concerns the food would be challenging for my way of eating and also, the pointless expenditure when the ship’s food meets our requirements and budget.

Update on yesterday…whew!  It was a busy day as follows:

 8:00 am:  Pick up granddaughter Madighan from her home (40 minutes in traffic from the hotel)
 9:00 am:  Return to hotel for self serve buffet breakfast, which the kids love (30 minutes in traffic)
10:30 am: Drive to Arbor Lakes to shop with Madighan (30 minutes in traffic)
11:30 am: Find the local Chuck E. Cheese so Madighan could play games (She doesn’t like their pizza and wasn’t hungry.  She only drank water while we played games)
12:30 pm:  Drove to a make-your-own frozen yogurt shop in Maple Grove (10 minutes in traffic)
 1:30 pm:  Drove back to Arbor Lakes movie theatre to watch movie.  She was full from frozen yogurt and didn’t want a movie snack or drink. (That was a short drive)
 3:30 pm:  Left the movie theatre, drove to a local craft store to purchase a coloring set for Madighan to stay occupied at Mary’s during the barbecue.  As it turned out, she played with grandson Vincent and great grand nephew David and was never bored for a moment.
 4:00 pm:  Drove to Coon Rapids to pick up two of Tom’s sister, Patty and Sister Beth and nephew, Jim. (60 minutes in traffic)
5:00 pm:  Drove to Tom’s sister Mary’s home (10 minutes on city streets) for the weekly barbecue.
8:45 pm:  Returned Patty, Sister Beth and Jim to Patty’s home (10 minutes on city streets)
9:00 pm:  Madighan and I returned to her home in St. Louis Park (30 minutes in lighter traffic) where I dropped her off, visited with daughter-in-law Camille and grandchildren Maisie and Miles.
9:45 pm:  Returned to hotel in light traffic (22 minutes)

Time spent driving: slightly over 4 hours

Building on the grounds of Butchart Gardens.

As for Tom, his day was equally busy.  He’d borrowed one of son Greg’s pickup trucks to get around on our split busy days.  He’s not here now for me to ask about the rundown on his day (he’s out with grandson Vincent) but, based on his visit to nephew Tim, lunch with his retired railroad buddies, and later visit to brother Jerome in hospital and eventually meeting us at the barbecue at Mary’s, his day included almost as much driving as mine.

We have no doubt that our remaining days in Minnesota will be comparable to those as above stated.  This level of activity may be typical for many grandparents who are actively involved in the day-to-day lives of their grandchildren, adult children and other family members.  We commend them for their dedication.

With no signs on this building, we expected this might be a residence for one of the families of this family-owned business.

But, love doesn’t always manifest in the “doing.”  For us, once we’re gone again, the love will maniefest in our “hearts and minds” for the precious time we spent in the past, in this summer of 2017, and at other times when we’ll visit in the future.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos from the Minnesota Meet & Greet and most likely many stories to tell about those who generously took the time to come and visit with us.  We’re humbled and grateful for all of this!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 9, 2016:

Each day in Bali, we rescued many grasshopper who were drowning in the pool.  Once we take them out, they dry off for awhile in the sun and then fly off.  Some appear dead but often come to life awhile later.  For more details in Bali, please click here.
 

Life in the big city… The people?…We love…The rest?…We can do without…

This reminded us of Versailles in Paris.

At 8:00 am yesterday morning I drove from the hotel to Greg’s house to pick up granddaughter Maisie for her special day.  These days with the grandchildren, one-on-one will continue through the upcoming four plus weeks until its time for us to move along on July 7th.

We love being with our people..family…friends and even those we don’t know such as on this upcoming this Friday night from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Grizzly’s Wood Fired Grill at 220 Carlson Parkway, Plymouth, MN where we’ll hold our first Meet & Greet for a few dozen of our Minnesota readers. 

The colors are a feast for the eyes.

If you haven’t RSVP’d please do so now by email (link on the right side of our daily homepage).  We’re already fully booked based on the accommodations but may have space for a few more in the event there are last minute cancellations.

With the pace with family and friends at “full board,” we’re finding ourselves moving from one scenario to another at lightning speed.  We flop into bed late at night and bolt upright early in the morning ready to take on another busy and enjoyable day.

What a view!

I told Tom this morning it’s not unlike being on a cruise (except that we’re with those we already know and love) when every moment of each day is occupied in pleasurable and meaningful activities.  Who’s to complain about being tired when each and every day is memorable?

The rest?  The traffic?  The road construction?  The long lines?  And…a sense of urgency in public venues that we haven’t experienced in a long, long time.  The easy peasy laid back lifestyle awaits us for another day.

Garden statue.

This is the here and now and we’re gathering all of our tolerance and patience to live in this hustle and bustle lifestyle while spending these nine weeks, now almost down to seven weeks with four and a half weeks remaining in Minnesota and three weeks upcoming in Nevada.

For Tom, the traffic is his biggest frustration, a factor that he’s especially enjoyed living outside of the US.  We rarely encounter traffic in any of the remote areas in which we’ve lived over these past several years.  The pace is slow and uncluttered, the people in less of a hurry to move on to the next thing. 

Unique pond configuration.

However, in our usual manner, we adapt, as I find myself remembering my way around; the shortcuts; the times to shop and to explore that enable me to avoid stressful situations.  I’m holding up well to the pace, better than I ever expected I would. 

This pond garnered a lot of attention at the Butchart Gardens.

Tired?  A little. But, more so I’m feeling energized by the events stacked up, one after another, each presenting its own array of new experiences we haven’t had in so long we can barely remember.

Over these past years, as we’ve watched time flash before our eyes, eluding a sense of anticipation or even boredom, we have no doubt that this time, like all others, will soon pass leaving us with the memories we’ll always carry in our hearts well into the future.

It was a perfect cool sunny day.

Ah, the present is excellent, the past is exceptional and the future holds a compilation of who we’ve become in this process, in this life we’ve chosen, far beyond our wildest dreams.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 7, 2016:

Most mornings in Bali we’d see one of the locals workers walking on the beach to a nearby temple with a platter of colorful flower offerings.  At first, we thought she was bringing food to a neighbor but when we asked Gede he explained this ritual.  For more details, please click here.

Time spent with Tom’s Sister Beth from Milwaukee and more family members…

Walking along the path at Butchart Gardens, we noticed this opening in the trees to this beautiful view.

It was 8:40 pm Tuesday.  We had just returned from Tom’s sister Patty’s home, a good 40-minute drive back to our hotel.  Today at 7:45 am we’re driving in rush hour traffic to pick up Maisie for the day and yesterday I’d yet to spend five minutes preparing today’s post as I’d hoped to do to free me up to spend time with her.

Too pooped to complete the post in its entirety last night, I decided to get a head start on it before bed and finish it this morning.  By the time I am ready to head out the door to drive to St. Louis Park, this post was done and posted early today.

Apparently, as a part of the landscape, this opening provided an interesting view for visitors.

Now, I can spend the day with Maisie giving her my undivided attention.  We have a busy day planned; buffet breakfast here at the hotel (the kids love this),  shopping at the Albertville Outlet Mall, and if time allows, a movie she chooses, of course befitting her mature 10 years of age.

Yesterday, was a flurry of activity. We were up, showered and dressed by 7:00 am making our way downstairs for an early breakfast.  By 8:30 we were seated in the hotel’s lounge while fast and furiously I banged away at the keyboard to ensure we’d be out the door no later than 11:40 am in order to pick up Betty (Sister Beth) at the airport for her 12:05 pm arriving flight.

A pond on the grounds.

Unfortunately, Tom didn’t have his phone on him (it was in the backseat of the SUV in the computer bag) and didn’t hear the ring when Betty called to let him know she’d arrived a little earlier than expected.  We were waiting for her in the wrong spot on the baggage level, finally spotting her awhile later.

Once the three of us were on our way, we decided to visit their brother, (my brother-in-law) Jerome who’d been taken to the hospital the previous night with acute back pain.  Worried it was something serious, he was rushed to hospital by an ambulance leaving us all concerned over his condition.

A stone temple statue at the side of a pond in the Japanese Garden.

Jerome is 88 years old, totally blind and extremely hard of hearing but in generally good health.  Lately, he hadn’t been feeling well and perhaps, this bout in the hospital might be just what he needed to determine what’s causing him pain. 

To date, a specific cause of Jerry’s pain is unknown other than the usual often painful conditions commensurate with aging.  He’s being treated with meds in hopes of making him more comfortable.  After a short stint at a local nursing home where he’ll have physical therapy,  he’ll be able to return to his home.

We were surprised there weren’t a lot of birds in the ponds and man-made lakes.

We were sad to see him suffering but felt relieved there was no seeming underlying cause of major concern.  We’ll continue to visit him over our remaining month in Minnesota.

By 3:00 pm, we arrived at Patty’s home, dropped Betty off and we made our way to a local grocery store to purchase food for dinner at Patty’s.  We purchased three roasted chickens, scalloped potatoes, sweet corn, veggie platter and fixings for coleslaw which I made once we returned.  We were all hungry and by 4:15, the five of us including Tom’s nephew Jim were gathered around Patty’s kitchen table.

Early Spring is a perfect time to visit Butchart Gardens with flowers in full bloom.

A short time later, more family arrived and joined us in the meal and idle chatter. including Tom’s niece Kari, (a big fan of our site and travels, bless her heart), sister Mary Ellen and husband Eugene and sister Colleen and husband Gene. 

Thank goodness we’d purchased enough to feed others.  Everyone dug in and pulled up more chairs around the table.  It was a typical Lyman gathering; food, drinks and lively conversation.  It couldn’t have been more fun!

This gorgeous flower quickly caught our attention.

I’d hoped to work on today’s post while at Patty’s but she doesn’t have Internet access in her home.  She wasn’t ever interested in learning to use a computer or smart phone, not unusual for those in their 80’s or older.

By 8:00 pm, while a few of the others began to say their goodbyes, I gave Tom “the look” that perhaps it was our time to head back to the hotel and get today’s post going.  He fully understood and we headed back to the hotel arriving at 8:40 pm. 

Statue of wild pig that many visitors consider good luck when rubbing it’s nose. 

By 9:30 pm, I couldn’t type one more word and closed the laptop for the night with a plan to finish first thing in the morning.  Awakening at 5:00 am, I finally dragged myself out of bed by 6:00 am knowing I had better “get the show on the road.”
No doubt, today will be another fine day with lovely granddaughter Maisie.

We’ll be back at you tomorrow with more.  Have a lovely day!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 7, 2016:

In Bali, we spotted this friendly neighbor (no English) making bowls as shown in her hands that are used for offerings at the Hindu temples.  For more photos, please click here.

Coffee, tea and me, please…The action continues…Busy day with Miles…Out late last night…

Daphne Islet is breathtaking.

Two mornings ago I had the first cup of coffee I’ve been able to consume since last December when I experienced the exacerbation of the symptoms of helicobacter pylori that had been populating my system for 16 months.

Now that the infection is gone, residual effects are often left behind after the infection heals for up to a year or longer. The symptoms of the aftereffects have waned considerably since I began taking mega-dose probiotics, VSL #3 with 450 billion bacteria based on a recommendation by Dr. Peter Dingle whom I met aboard the 24-night cruise from Sydney to Seattle.

It wasn’t easy finding this high potency non-prescription product in the US since its rarely prescribed by doctors, who prefer to prescribe pharmaceuticals.  However, I’ve since found it online, after purchasing the first batch in Vancouver on May 16th.  It may be found here.

A second pricey box of 30 sachets (one of which is dissolved in ice cold water, stirred vigorously and chugged down) arrive at our hotel in Minnesota which arrived in cold packs.  Luckily, we have a small refrigerator in our hotel room where I’ve been able to keep the product cold which is vital for the bacteria to survive.

Please see your doctor if you’re suffering from a gastrointestinal illness that may be helped with this product by improving the microbiome (gut) bacteria.  For me, it’s worked wonders.  I can actually go an entire day without the pain and uncomfortable feelings after eating and drinking reasonable amounts of food and liquids.

Stunning views on a sunny day.

After purchasing a pint of heavy cream last weekend, I could hardly wait to try it with a cup of decaf.  Since I haven’t had any caffeine for six months, I decided to start with a ratio of 3/4 decaf and 1/4 caffeinated.  So far, so good.  No negative aftereffects.

One may ask, “If you’ve gone six months without coffee and caffeine, why start it up again?”  For me, based on my restrictive diet there are few “guilty pleasures.”  A good cup of coffee can satisfy me as much as a raspberry jelly filled donut (which I never consume) did in my old life. 

As I continue to increase the decaf to caffeine ratios, by the time we leave Minnesota, I expect to be able to savor a mug full of the “real deal,” caffeinated coffee.  Also in the past week, I’ve been able to drink a few mugs of herbal tea each day as well, another fine treat.   After drinking only water (not a fan), this is a huge milestone for me.

Speaking of “milestone” I’m anxious to share the details of an especially fun day we had yesterday with my son Greg’s middle child, grandson Miles who is nine years old.

From Daphne Islet a boat can access Brentwood Bay to the Straits of Georgia to the Salish Sea.

Wee started this “one child a day” concept now that school is out for the summer.  One-on-one interactions with each of our grandchildren give us a much better opportunity to build closer relationships.

Yesterday, was our first day alone with Miles.  This week, we’ll have had Miles with us on Monday, Maisie on Wednesday, Madighan on Thursday and Vincent on Friday.  We’re busy deciding as to which activities best suits each child.

Yesterday morning at 8:00 am we picked up Miles, (a 30-minute drive in traffic) in order to get back in time for the “free breakfast” at our hotel, Country Inn & Suites, Carlson Parkway, Plymouth, MN.

As mentioned in an earlier post, when we acquired the long-term corporate rate, we included us and three children as occupying the room.  This way, at any given time, we could have five for breakfast and a swim in the pool at no additional charges. 

This has worked out well so far, even though on a few occasions there have been one or two additional family members for the breakfast.  I discussed this with the hotel’s general manager and based on the fact that there’s never more than three of us (Tom and I and one grandchild) during weekdays, a few more on Saturday or Sunday certainly doesn’t increase our overall allotment.

As we walked along the less developed area of the gardens we approached access to the sea, via Daphne Islet.

This hotel couldn’t have been a better place to stay. When we returned to the hotel with Miles by 8:45 am, he was excited to have the self-serve breakfast in the hotel’s dining area which included an entire waffle, tater tots, bacon and a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal with milk.

Miles is a slim little guy and we were surprised by how well he ate.  After breakfast,  he and I went out for a few quick errands at Ridgedale Mall, a visit to an ATM and of course, a stop at a Target store for a toy.  How can a good grandparent resist purchasing a toy for their sweet grandchild? 

After our shopping expedition, we returned to the hotel, where I taught him to play Blackjack on my phone.  He surprised us how quickly he figured out when and when not to take a “hit.”  He’s definitely his “father’s son.’

In a matter of minutes, he beat my record of $150,000 with $990,000 in earnings.  I teased him that now I’ll never be able to break my prior record.  We laughed heartily together.  Kids are amazing with digital stuff these days!

After awhile it was time to head out to the movie theater for a movie he’s was anxious to see, Captain Underpants.  After buying him a blue Icee, we found great seats and watched the movie.  I dozed a few times but unlike Tom, he didn’t nudge me for dozing off.  He was having a great time.

Small neatly trimmed logs create a pleasing border.
It was 4:00 pm when the movie ended and we headed back to his home where I hung out with Camille for a bit, then Greg and also Maisie and Madighan.  At 6:00 pm, Maisie and I went to her final Girl Scout meeting for the season. 

I waited patiently for 90 minutes during the meeting, carefully listening to their joyful and playful interactions at the home of the troop leader while the group of giggling 10-year-old girls had fun with crafts and making plans for next year.  It brought back memories of when I was a den mother when my sons were in Cub Scouts many moons ago.

By 7:45 pm we were back at Greg and Camille’s home. Back on the road, a few minutes later I was headed to the northern suburbs to pick up Tom at son TJ’s home after they’d gone to his Monday night horseshoe games. 

When I arrived around 8:15 pm, they’d yet to return from the games so I waited on a nearby side street. The road to TJ’s house was closed due to road construction and Tom suggested I wait at the nearest intersection until they returned. TJ dropped Tom off where I waited around 8:50 pm.

I didn’t mind waiting.  It gave me time to reflect on these many busy and fun days; those that have passed so far and the many busy days and nights yet to come.  I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

A creek at Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

By 9:00 pm we were on our way back toward the hotel with a plan to stop for a bite to eat.  I suggested the “Big Bowl” at Ridgedale Centre hoping Tom could find something he’d like.  He ordered “sesame chicken” with white rice while I had a dressing-free Asian Chicken salad (minus noodles or crispy things).

By the time we returned to the hotel it was close to 11:00 pm.  Neither of us had trouble falling asleep when we turned off the lights close to midnight.  It was a good day.

Today, at 12:05 pm, Tom’s sister, Betty, known as Sister Beth (a nun) is arriving at the airport.  We’ll be picking her up and taking her to his sister Patty’s home where she’ll stay for the upcoming week.  We’ll stop and pick up dinner to bring to Patty’s and spend the afternoon and early evening with both of them.

Busy days, busy nights, happy times. Life is good.

May life be good for you as well!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2016:
One year ago today, the Wi-Fi signal was very poor and we were unable to upload any photos.  For the post comparing living expenses for Bali as opposed to other countries, (without photos), please click here.

Shopping in the USA…An unfamiliar experience… Driving a car…Is it akin to riding a bicycle?

I was standing under a vine trellis when Tom took this photo.

It almost incomprehensible that we’ve been in Minnesota for 10 of our 42-night visit.  The time couldn’t be passing more quickly.  Each day bring us to another level of discovery with our grandchildren through conversations, playing and spending precious time together.


Of course, we also love spending time with our grown children and their significant others after being away for so long.  Now that we’ve spent time with the immediate family with much more to come, we’ll have an opportunity to visit with more of our friends.


In the process, we’ve spent time with some of Tom’s dozens of family members, all of whom are warm, friendly and delightful to be with.  Tomorrow, we’re picking up Tom’s sister at the airport.  Betty, “Sister Beth” to be exact, is a nun who lives in Milwaukee and is flying to Minneapolis for a week.

Buildings on the grounds of the Butcharts Gardens.

During the upcoming week, we’ll spend time with Sister Beth and another sister Patty, (where Betty will stay during her one-week visit).  Shortly before we pick up Betty we’ll head to a market to buy chickens, veggies, and salad to share dinner with Sister Beth and Patty at Patty’s home.

I prepared most of today’s post last night while flipping through channels on the TV in our hotel room after a very busy day.  In the morning, Tom’s son TJ, his partner Sarah and grandson Jayden came for breakfast at our hotel, Country Inn & Suites.

As we entered the Japanese gardens…

After a fun time chatting in the breakfast room, we all headed to one of the two swimming pools where Jayden and TJ played ball in the pool while the three of us cheered them on while watching.  Later in the day, they left in order to attend a graduation party while Tom and I headed back to our hotel room.


After these past days in a flurry of activity, I felt a little antsy.  But, I knew the remainder of the day required I head out to the local shopping center, Ridgedale Mall for a little much overdue shopping.  It was time to replace my old, worn bras the three of which made it through three years of world travel.  I couldn’t eek out one more wearing and washing.

Plants and structures in the Japanese gardens.
Before I could shop, I had to face the reality that I needed to drive myself.  Tom offered to drive me the short distance since I’d yet to drive the Ford Explorer SUV since we rented it 10 days ago.

Actually, I’ve haven’t driven a car since we were in Kauai, Hawaii, 27 months ago.  Over these past two years in the South Pacific, I’d never once driven a rental car with the steering wheel on the opposite side of that which we were familiar with in the US and on top of it…driving on the opposite side of the road.  I’m not a good enough driver to tackle both of these scenarios.
A brass dragon in the Japanese garden.

Oddly, as adventurous as I may be at times, I hesitated to drive again.  But, the mall was calling me and I turned down Tom’s sweet offer to drive me.  Kissing him goodbye, I headed out the door, shopping bag in hand (I don’t own a handbag), ready to reacquaint myself with driving a vehicle.


By the time I exited the hotel’s parking lot I was comfortable behind the wheel of the new, bright-red SUV.  It’s akin to riding a bike…you just don’t forget.  Plus, it helped that I knew my way around having no difficulty whatever in finding my way to the mall.

We weren’t able to identify these large red berries.

As I entered the huge mall, I caught my breath in my throat.  OMG, I was on sensory overload…the abundance…the prices…the selections…left me in a state of sheer wonder.  Nothing we’ve seen in these past 55 months can compare to my shock of seeing the stores, the displays, and the confusing options.

I walked out of the mall a few hours later after purchasing my three bras at Victoria’s Secret and, 10 shirts for Tom in Macy’s including five fine-quality tee shirts on sale from $34.50 to $11.99 each and; five Bass short sleeve solid color Explorer shirts (no wrinkles) made specifically for the traveling outdoorsman, regularly priced at $68.50, on sale for $19.99 each.  

Yellow flowers line this small creek.

Tom doesn’t necessarily get excited about clothing but he certainly expressed a touch of enthusiasm over finally having some new solid color shirts.  He doesn’t like plaids, patterns, flowers, prints or stripes.  These were impossible to find in Australia especially if they were “wash and wear.”

Finally, I headed back to our hotel where we had leftovers from dinner at Greg’s on Saturday night, heating it up in the microwave in our suite.  It’s handy having the small fridge and microwave which allows us to avoid eating in restaurants every night.

Decorative lawn ornament.

With both of us wanting salad to accompany the re-heated main dish, we headed next door to Grizzly’s ordering two dinner salads with two sides of sour cream from which I made our usual dressing. We don’t have a salad bowl or utensils to toss a salad with our dressing.  Buying the salads from the restaurant made it easy to toss the dressing in each of the two disposable containers.

We walked under this tree limb structure to gain further access to more gardens.

Early this morning, we’re picking up grandson Miles to spend the day with us.  It looks like Miles and I are going to see “Captain Underpants” at 2:20 pm while  TJ picks Tom up at the hotel to join him in his Monday night horseshoe games. 

After the movie with Miles, we’ll return to his home and shortly later, I’ll take Maisie to her Girl Scouts meeting at 6:00 pm, after which we’ll all find our way to the various soccer fields for the three kids for their practice and games.  Whew!  Busy.  Fun.

Happy day to all!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 5, 2016:

Last June, in Sumbersari Bali, we made good use the our cabana as shown here in the afternoon sun.  For more details, please click here.

Sorrow over more London attacks…Keeping our families safe…More garden photos…

Beautiful garden pond.

I just saw a blurb on the US TV show, Sunday Morning, explaining that as a result of 535 terror attacks, 3635 have lost their lives throughout the world so far in 2017 according to this report.  This isn’t even the “tip of the iceberg” when considering the hundreds of thousands who have died at the hands of terroristic regimes and governments. 

Blue, as a less common color in nature, always catches our eye.

Our hearts and prayers for the injured in last night’s terror attack in London and for the families and friends of those who lost their lives.  Will this ever end?
We live in dangerous times, not only from terrorism but also from disease.  For example from this site:

“This annual report provides the estimated numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in 2017, as well as current cancer incidence, mortality, and survival statistics and information on cancer symptoms, risk factors, early detection, and treatment. In 2017, (in the US) there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US.”

Tom smiling at the edge of a garden pond.

We live in dangerous times.  With our promise not to express “politically” based views on this site, we steer our discussion in a different direction…”How do we keep our families and ourselves safe?” 

Golf course like neatly trimmed grass.

Do we really have some control over our personal safety, health, and well-being?  To an extent we do.  We can take care of our health even amid the endless confusing reports on what is actually “healthy” and what is not. 

We can siphon out what we do know for sure; a healthy diet, a positive outlook, reducing stress, staying active and engaged with others; avoiding toxic chemicals, relationships and excesses all contribute to pointing us in the right direction. 

Pretty flowers line a walkway to a gate.

For those who so choose, incorporating a spiritual aspect into their lives may be instrumental in improving theirs and their family’s odds for longevity, health, and well-being.

In order to see the entire gardens in time to return for the meeting time at the van, we maneuvered our way through the crowds.

As for the risks of terrorist attacks, becoming victims of crimes, involvement in accidents and injuries, we still have a degree of control in some circumstances (of course, not all).  Do we avoid high-risk locations, circumstances, and scenarios?  Are we careful and conscious of our limitations when we perform or engage in certain tasks or activities?

Many may say, we are overly cautious.  We don’t zip line, skydive, bungee jump, scuba dive or snorkel.  Based on the constraints imposed by my precarious spinal condition, we avoid those activities that have the potential to put a fast end to our world travels.

Perfect expansive lawn.

We may travel to some higher risk countries but we try to avoid public venues as much as possible, even quickly scurrying through airports, train stations and other forms of transportation.  We avoid outdoor cafes in high-risk areas.  We do the best we can.  But, no precautions in regard to terrorist attacks are foolproof.

Fountain garden.

Even staying indoors isn’t 100% effective when many lose their lives in household accidents each year.  From this site:

“Did you know that more than 18,000 Americans die every year from injuries that take place in the home? This makes it the second most common location for such fatalities. Why are home injuries so prevalent? Most Americans are unaware that they are able to prevent such accidents. From minor burns to poisoning, electrical shocks to suffocations.”

Lush evergreen at Butchart Gardens.

We are saddened by the loss of lives and injuries incurred by terror attacks throughout the world and often ask ourselves, “What is the answer?”  Ideally, we can only hope and pray that our leaders throughout the world are able to make the best decisions to enhance our safety against these pointless attacks. 

We pray for the safety, health and well being for you and for those you love.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 4, 2016:

As we exited the bedroom in Bali to make our cheese plate, we spotted this huge Nursery Web Spider.  Although their bite may be painful apparently it’s not life threatening. Tom was able to scoot it outside with the broom.  No screaming.  Just photos.  For more details, please click here.

Request for family photos…Grandson’s 5th grade graduation…Dinner at Benihana…

 
Grandson Vincent at his 5th-grade graduation from SEA, School of Engineering and Arts.

When Adele and Wally, a lovely couple we met at a hotel in Barcelona before boarding a cruise through the Middle East in 2013, wrote yesterday suggesting we include some family photos during our six weeks in Minnesota, we decided it made sense.  In the past week since we arrived, several other readers have written suggesting the same.

Vincent receiving his graduation certificate.

As they explained, we always share photos of what’s transpiring in this life of world travel and why would we exclude our own family members?  I suppose our intent is to protect their privacy so each time we do, we’ll ask for their permission.

I’ve always hesitated to share many photos of our six grandchildren when anyone of questionable nature could be browsing for photos of young children for unsavory reasons. 

Vincent and his friend Rowan giggling after the graduation during this photo op.

Now, that the kids are getting older, I’ve relaxed my fear a little but still hesitate to do so.  But, today, after a very special day yesterday, we decided to share some photos of grandson Vincent’s 5th grade graduation and will include photos of the other grandchildren soon.

Our Teppanyaki chef who prepared the meals on the grill.

I don’t recall major graduation ceremonies for anything other than completing high school as having much significance in a child’s life other requiring not much more than a congrats from parents, family members and friends.  Seldom was a gift rendered or a party held for the child’s moving on to another grade or school.

Times have changed.  Any opportunity to celebrate is a welcome aspect of life for many throughout the world.  That’s all good in our minds.  And we looked forward to participating in Vincent’s special day without hesitation.  How fortunate that we are to have been here during this important time for him.

Tracy and Tom, all smiles.

The celebrations began on Wednesday during a picnic and play day at a local park where the kids frolicked in the grass when a local fire truck sprayed a stream of water into a field enabling the kids to have fun getting soaked.  It was a good day.

A flaming tower of onion rings.

Yesterday, was the actual graduation ceremony for his 80 member 5th grade class at “SEA,” the School of Engineering and Arts.  The gym was packed with enthusiastic and animated parents and grandparents anxious to see their loved one graduate from this unique and highly acclaimed school.

After the commencement exercises ended, we headed to the lunch hall for cake and beverages.  I declined the cake while Tom couldn’t resist a piece of white cake with lots of frosting. 

In order to avoid contamination from vegetable oils (which I don’t eat) my meal was prepared in the kitchen instead of at the table.  Seasoned well it was fairly good.

After that party ended, we made our way to Benihana, a popular local Asian Teppanyaki restaurant for dinner with Tammy, Tracy, Vincent, Tammy’s mom Lynda (Tom’s ex-wife) and Tracy’s mom Lena, where we all had a nice dinner.

Tom and I with Vincent.

Later on, Tom and I headed back to our hotel for a relaxing remainder of the evening to unwind and catch our breath.  It was a pleasant day and evening and we were reeling with gratefulness for the experiences with our family members.

We’ll be back with a few more family photos over the next weeks as we continue to relish each and every moment spent in Minnesota with our family and friends.

From left to right, beginning at the back row. Tracy and Lynda and Lena (Vincent’s two other grandmas), Tom me, Tammy and Vincent.  As a graduation gift we gave Vincent a family heirloom chess set including the board on his lap.

Have a beautiful day!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 3, 2016:

Hamburger night in Bali  Tom had homemade burgers with cheese, fries, veggies, coleslaw while I had everything minus the fries.  We’ve noticed he coughs from acid reflux at night after eating fries. No fries?  No cough. Humm…what does that tell him? For more photos, please click here.

The social events continue with friends and family…Nature abounds, including in last year’s photo…

This pretty flower attracts flying insects as shown in upper left.

A week has already passed since we arrived in Minnesota last Friday.  Each day and most evenings have been filled with a flurry of activities with family and friends.  Today is no exception with grandson’s Vincent 5th grade graduation at 1:30 pm followed by a dinner at his favorite teppanyaki restaurant, Benihana, scheduled at 4:00 pm.


We don’t ever recall graduation ceremonies being observed between grade school and middle school but times have changed and we’re happy to partake in the celebrations.  We’re simply content to be with our family members and schedules permitting, we’ve yet to turn down a suggestion for an activity.

Tall evergreen.

With the use of the free Cozi shared online calendar and family planner, found
at this link that we’re all sharing, it’s easy to keep track of our action-packed schedule.  Without it, this visit could be very confusing. 

Bronze dragon statue in a garden pond.

Any of our three adult children and their significant others can easily access the calendar on their phones, tablets or computers to see what time slots we have available and freely enter an activity with us. 

When a new activity is entered into the calendar, I immediately receive an email with the particulars; date, time, event and location.  Providing the activities don’t include us participating in bungee jumping, scuba diving or skydiving, we’re accepting all entries.  Time spent with our kids and grandchildren is our top priority.

Moss representation of an owl in a tree.

Of course, our favorite activity is spent chatting and interacting with everyone in a casual arena where we can provide our undivided attention.  Often, this is around mealtimes, watching the kids participate in activities and hanging out at their home or in spending time at our temporary home at the Country Inn & Suites in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Rabbit in the bushes.

With the two swimming pools, jacuzzi, free breakfast, fire pit, and easy atmosphere, it is a fun place for the grandchildren to visit and fun for us to share it with them. 

Although our hotel room is of ample size for our daily needs it isn’t quite large enough for the kids to stay overnight.  We’re happy to drive them back and forth from their homes when they come to visit on their own. 

Massive redwood tree.

Now that the school season is ending today, we’ve scheduled dates to have grandchildren spend specific days with us, one child per day for more of our undivided attention.  We’re planning fun activities suitable for each of their ages. 

Yesterday at lunch, Tom dropped me off in Maple Grove at Biaggi Restaurant in Arbor Lakes Mall to meet two of my girlfriends I hadn’t seen since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012. 

Blue flowers line a walkway.

Theresa, my former real estate business partner and Cathy, our mutual dear friend were seated when I entered the outdoor dining area of the restaurant to greet them.  The warmest of hugs and greetings made me realize how much I’ve missed by girlfriends all of these years.

The two hours we spent talking filled my heart with warm memories of times past and how these types of relationships with friends had been such a vital part of my old life.  Now, I can only glean snippets of such pleasant emotions knowing how fleeting these interactions are now in this short period of time. 

Orchids blooming.

We’ve decided to meet one more time amid our busy calendar and theirs.  Each of our lives is full, although in many different ways.  How amazing it was to share the time together and I’m hoping for one more time together before we go.

Later in the day, we bucked the unbelievable traffic to drive to Coon Rapids for a 5:00 pm barbecue at Tom’s sister Mary’s (and husband Eugene) home, a weekly come-when-you-can Thursday evening event.

This type of orchid is such a deep purple it almost appears black.

Fearing my diet would be hard to accommodate, we stopped at Jimmy John’s sandwich restaurant and purchased each of us a low carb, bread-less sandwich to-go, called the “un-wich.”  It’s from this very restaurant that we copied their idea and often make our own un-wiches wherever we may be living at any given time.

I ordered the un-wich with chicken, bacon, vegetables, mayo and guacamole and Tom ordered the un-wich club sandwich.  It was funny how they tasted just like our homemade versions, although we tend to make ours considerably larger.

Information about the lands on which the Butchart Gardens was planted.

By bringing our own food to Mary and Eugene’s there was no need for our hosts to worry about what I’d eat. Instead, we all focused on the fabulous time we had with the many family members who’d arrived for the weekly event.

It couldn’t have been more fun when we hugged and later chatted with three of Tom’s sisters, two brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews and even two grandnieces and two grandnephews and their partners.  Surely, we’ll be together with all of them and more of the family in more weeks to come.

Back at the hotel shortly after 10:00 pm, we both were pooped but pleased for another great day with family and friends.  This period of time is flying by much more quickly than we anticipated but, we’re planning to make the best of every single moment.

May you days be filled with special moments and love.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 2, 2016:


This praying mantis actually looked at Tom while he took this photo in Bali on the edge of the infinity pool.  He was as big as the palm of my hand.  For more details, please click here.

We split up for an evening with family…Garden photos continue…



Pretty flowers in a deep pink.

We knew at some point it would make sense for Tom and me to split up to spend time with our respective families; Tom’s two children, Tammy and TJ, their significant others and three of our six grandchildren. 

Pretty in pink.

My son Greg and his wife Camille and three of my grandchildren live about 30 minutes away from Tom’s two kid’s homes.  We knew at times we’d each spend days and/or evenings with our own children and grandchildren, apart from one another.

Unusual pine tree.

It had been a long time since Tom and I had been apart for more than an hour.  Many have classified us as “glued at the hip.”  But, it’s during this period of time in the US that it makes a lot more sense to split up for specific activities.

Bronze carousel horse in the garden.

Last night, Greg’s three kids each had soccer games at three different fields; two adjoining and the third at another field four miles away.  Greg and I watched Maisie and Miles’ game while Camille was at the distant field watching Madighan’s game.

Butchart Gardens has many wide open spaces on the sprawling property.

It reminded me of when my two sons, Greg and Richard, both played ball at the same time in two different fields.  As a single (divorced) mom, I’d run back and forth between the two fields in order to watch both of them play t-ball, softball, and baseball. 

Fluffy looking small flowers.

That was a long time ago.  Richard recently turned 50 and Greg is fast approaching 48.  How the time has flown.  Being back in Minnesota where all of our four children grew up is definitely a reminder of how the decades, not just the years, have brought us to today, living this nomadic lifestyle, visiting our family for but a glimpse of time. 

The nine weeks in the US will surely fly by in a flash.  By tomorrow, the first week will have passed with five weeks remaining in Minnesota and three weeks upcoming in Nevada beginning on July 7th. 

Totem poles are commonly seen in Victoria, such as this in Butchart Garden.

Tom visited son TJ’s home with Sarah and two grandsons, Jayden and Nik.  They ate burgers and chicken, played some “hoops” and yakked the night away.  Tammy visited for a period of time and they all had a great evening.

More tulips.

Greg picked me up at the hotel after Tom dropped me off after we’d spent the afternoon with Tammy and son Vincent at his fifth grade “fun day” at a local park.  The weather was cool, windy and sunny, perfect for the kid’s activities including a lengthy “shower” from a fire truck while the kids got soaked while squealing with delight in a grassy field.

In the evening after the soccer games, we headed back to Greg’s home with a plan for Tom to pick me up whenever he was done at TJ’s.  I’d eaten a very late lunch, another Chipotle salad we picked up on the way back to the hotel so dinner wasn’t necessary for me.  For anyone to prepare a meal for me is often inconvenient and not worth the effort.

Garden keepers preparing a pond for the upcoming celebration of Canada’s 150th year.

They all had dinner after which we headed outdoors for a bonfire and idle chatter. The “Minnesota State Bird, the lowly mosquito made their usual appearance and we swatted them of while huddling close to the fire and citronella candles.

Commemorating Canada’s 150-year celebration.

It was a very pleasant spending time with our respective families.  Of course, going forward, we’ll enjoy plenty of activities with both Tom and me in attendance simultaneously.

I know I’d promised we wouldn’t spend a lot of time writing about family and friend activities.  I apologize for not being able to resist sharing our daily events.  Now, that we’re here, I see how impossible it would have been to write about other topics when we’re so entrenched with the people we love and have missed for the past four years and seven months.

More plantings commemorating Canada’s 150 years.

Many of you will skip over these posts and we fully understand.  Some of you will read them with the same interest you’ve expressed over reading about many of our less exciting and more mundane days and nights of this life we lead.

A few varieties of spring tulips remain in bloom in the late season at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.

But, the time will fly quickly for all of us and in a mere 60 days, we’ll be on our way to Costa Rica settling into the fabulous villa and beginning the search for those colorful frogs, birds and other wildlife that populate that magical country.  From there…it’s excitement all the way!

Carpe diem!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 1, 2016:

An interesting looking restaurant on the beach in Lovina, Bali where we traveled to work on our visa extensions for Indonesia.  For more details, please click here.