What a fine evening with friends… Busy day chopping and dicing…

Our long-time friends Maury and Peggy joined us for dinner last night at Houlihan’s in Chanhassen. It was great seeing them, and it was a lovely evening. The three hours we spent together flew by in the blink of an eye.

No words can express how enjoyable it is to see old friends during this extended period in the US. Last evening, we met old friends Peggy and Maury. We knew Peggy in 1991 when she married the now-deceased Lane, a friend we’ve surely missed. But, a year later, Peggy met Maury, and their union and eventual marriage were ideal.

Both enjoy traveling, and they particularly love traveling in the Midwest. We often see photos of them on Facebook in quaint little towns, seeing the sites and dining in historic restaurants and establishments. Although we travel outside the US, they’ve made retirement as enjoyable for themselves as it has been for us.

By 8:30, we were back at the hotel. We changed our clothes, got comfortable, and watched a movie, which ended around 10:15 when I was off to bed, reading the news on my phone. I had another fitful night’s sleep but finally, around 6:00 am, fell back to sleep for another 90 minutes.

For tonight’s dinner with leftovers for Monday and Tuesday, yesterday we picked up groceries from Cub Foods to make a beef stir-fry with peanuts. This morning, I began chopping all of the ingredients, including:

  • Red, green, and yellow bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Onions, yellow
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Green onions to top each serving when served, including one ounce of dry roasted peanuts
  • Sirloin steak slices
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Fresh minced ginger

Tom will use white rice as a base for the stir fry, while I will use riced cauliflower. We’re also adding various Asian sauces, such as wheat-free soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and various spices, such as pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sesame oil, and salt.

I made a marinade for the meat using the above seasonings. After cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces, I placed it along with the vegetables in the refrigerator. I’ll cook them later, just before dinner. I will first sauteed the garlic, ginger, celery, yellow onions, and mushrooms in sesame oil until al dente and then add the meat.

When the meat is medium rare, I’ll add the remaining ingredients, including the bell peppers, which, again, I won’t cook until tender to ensure a bit of crunch, along with the green onions and peanuts topping. It will be a tasty dinner that we’ll savor for a few days.

It’s a relief to have all the chopping and dicing done. The remainder of my day will be easy and relaxing. It is a sunny day, and soon, I’ll get outside to walk. We hope you have a pleasant and relaxing day.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 29, 2014:

We know this is a banana farm when we see these blue bags on the banana trees. They don’t use pesticides; instead, they use these blue bags to keep insects off the bananas. The first time we saw the blue bags was the day we arrived in Belize, many moons ago. For more photos, please click here.

Last night’s fantastic surprise at Billy’s Bar & Grill!…

Tom and his long-time friend Tommy, whom he worked with for 42 years on the railroad. Tommy, a long-time reader of our posts, saw in yesterday’s post that we’d be at Billy’s and decided to stop by and see us! What a wonderful surprise!

It felt good to get out again after being sick for over a week. We made the 45-minute drive in traffic to Billy’s Bar & Grill in Anoka and were delighted to see some of Tom’s siblings and nieces once again. Sisters Margie, Colleen, Mary (and BIL Eugene), and Patty attended, as did nieces Jean and Kathy.

Happy hour began at 3:30, and we could all take advantage of special pricing on drinks. Since I hadn’t had a drink in two weeks, I ordered a small serving of Cabernet Sauvignon and an unsweetened iced tea to sip back and forth between the two. As it turned out, I had several glasses of tea (free refills), and the wine lasted the entire time.

Shortly after our beverages arrived, I noticed a man come up behind Tom and began massaging his shoulders. I didn’t recognize him for a second, but after another moment, I knew who it was and was delighted to see Tom’s (our) old friend Tommy, whom we hadn’t seen in several years.

Over the years of our world travels, both Toms have stayed in touch, but often, he and his dear wife Carrie were in Arizona, where they spend part of each winter to escape Minnesota’s cold and snowy climate, as is the case for many Minnesotans. The winter travelers are often referred to as “snowbirds.”

Tom, Tommy, and BIL Eugene had a lively conversation. As you can see, Tom used his hands to talk, which always made me smile.

Moments after he and Tom exchanged warm greetings, Tommy meandered his way over to the opposite side of the large round table where I was seated, and he and I chatted for quite a while. I knew Tom was choppin’ at the bit to talk to him, so finally, I encouraged him to return to the other side of the table. Tom pulled up a chair for him, and the lively and animated conversations began.

As shown in the above photo, Tom was so happy to see him. His hands were talking, and so was his voice, a habit I find adorable. I can almost tell what he’s talking about by watching his hands, although they do not resemble sign language. I couldn’t tell what they were talking about from my place at the table, but I could tell they were having a great time.

The evening flew by in a blur, and after we said our goodbyes to Tommy, we engaged with the family, and before too long, we were on our way back to the hotel, arriving by about 8:00 pm. We settled in for the night, streamed a few shows, and headed to bed by 11:00 pm.

It was a fitful night, but we’re doing well. Tom left a while ago to swap out the rental car for another and will return shortly. At 2:00 pm, we’ll drive less than a mile to Cub Food to pick up our week’s groceries from an order I placed this morning. I will make a beef stir fry tomorrow, enough to last a few nights.

Today at 4:40, we’ll drive to Chanhassen to meet Peggy and Maury for dinner at Houlihans, which has an excellent menu suitable for my way of eating. It will be another good day.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 29, 2014:

This is a view of the living room in the house we booked for Australia in the coming months. For more photos, please click here.

The social calendar is filling in once again…Feeling unmotivated…33 years and counting…

The veranda in the house we booked in Fiji. What a view!

Now that we’re feeling better, our social calendar has been filled with fun get-togethers with friends and family. Staying busy is the best thing we can do right now. It makes the waiting all the more bearable until we leave on August 25. Plus, looking forward to fun events is almost as exciting as the event itself! Well, maybe not quite as much!

Instead, when I got up, showered, and dressed for the day, I decided to do my nails in preparation for two social events this upcoming weekend: one, going to Billy’s Bar and Grill tonight with Tom’s siblings and two, out to dinner tomorrow night to Houlihan’s with old friends, Peggy and Maury whom we haven’t seen in quite a few years.

Last night, I slept well, never awakening during the night. I awoke feeling refreshed and ready for a new day, but for some odd reason, I felt unmotivated to go outside and walk. What’s the deal? The walking is tedious, especially when I can hear the sounds of the nearby freeway, and the scenery around the hotel grounds is boring and commercial. I need a nature and wildlife fix!

In my usual way, I would have done the walking anyway, hardly ever giving myself a break from obligations. Walking by myself is not fun, especially in this mundane location.

It is odd for me to feel unmotivated. I’ve always been a person of considerable self-discipline, although occasionally, I give myself a break, and instead of doing what I should do, I do what I feel like doing, and today is one of those days. I think, in part, I find the walking difficult, and I dread the painful process.

It’s hard to motivate oneself to do something that causes pain and discomfort, even when we know it’s good for us. After I have the surgery, I will need to walk several times a day to speed up the healing process. I’d better prepare myself for this eventuality and push forward. I’ll see if I can muster the determination to do what I must.

Today, it is 33 years since Tom and I met in 1991. it’s hard to believe so much time has passed. Despite our differences, we are very fortunate that we are still very attracted to one another and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, especially when we spend so much time together.

Even during the difficult recovery period we experienced after my last open-heart surgery, we have done so well. Now, facing another such period, I find comfort in knowing what a great caregiver Tom is and that we’ll breeze through it once again, hoping to come out on the other side and be able to continue our world travels.

That eventuality is up in the air right now. I’m five years older and not as fit as I was then. That fact alone should motivate me to get outside and do the walking.

OK, I’ve talked myself into it. I will put on my shoes and head outdoors on this cloudy day to walk. We’ll see how I do.

Have a fantastic weekend, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 28, 2014

We booked three months in Fiji. We lived on the island of Vanua Levu in the village of Savusavu, which is situated north of the main island of Fiji, away from the bulk of the tourist hubbub on the main island of Fiji. For more photos, please click here.

Traveling, but love to listen to music without paying?…

There are endless rows of terraced gardens on the island of Madeira.

Over the past week or so, we’ve been posting some products and services we’ve been using that have added to the enjoyment of our worldwide travels over the past 12 years. An integral part of that enjoyment has been listening to music, especially at the end of the day when we’re sitting outdoors on a veranda or patio.

We’d often partake in a cocktail (for Tom) and a light wine (for me), making the simple activity seem like a night in the town. Dinner will have been prepped and ready for cooking to add to the pleasant evening as it progressed and the sun disappeared on the horizon.

While we are in the US right now, without a veranda or patio and in a public location where we can’t make noise, we’ve had to forgo this pleasant pastime. Once we can be on the move again, we’ll undoubtedly begin again, hopefully next year in South Africa.

Over the past several years, we have listened to music on our phones using a Bluetooth speaker with such clarity and sound quality that it’s been astounding. Recently, we had to replace a JBL speaker that stopped working (they wear out after intended use), but we found another for only $39.99 on Amazon at this link. Following is a photo of our new speaker:

Portable Speaker, Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, IPX7 Waterproof, 25W Loud Stereo Sound, Bassboom Technology, TWS Pairing, Built-in Mic, 16H Playtime with Lights for Home Outdoor – Black

When we made the above purchase, we wondered if it would be as high quality as the JBL speaker we had, based on the price. But the quality was equally good; we couldn’t imagine it would have been better. Since Tom is hard of hearing (his hearing aid appointment is coming up on August 1), having a speaker has been necessary for listening to music, podcasts, and streaming shows using our laptop as the broadcasting device.

When we’re streaming to the TV monitor, it’s easy to increase the sound using the remote, which is suitable for his hearing ability. But if we’re streaming a show on my laptop at the table during dinner, the laptop’s sound doesn’t get high enough or clear enough to use it exclusively.

Right now, during this waiting period, we are listening to or watching something for most days and nights: streaming podcasts during the day and streaming services in the evening. Of course, when we’re feeling better, we are out several evenings each week, such as this upcoming Friday and Saturday nights when we’ll be out with family and friends.

Undoubtedly, it helps our state of mind to stay distracted with interesting morsels in podcasts, movies, and series. In between listening, I head outdoors to walk, and so far this morning, I walked for 15 minutes in one session, which was the first since my legs hadn’t been working so well.

To avoid “paying for music,” we often use YouTube, not YouTube Music, which requires a membership. Type in the name of a favorite song, and you can play it for free. Eventually, your smartphone will remember the songs you picked, and your list of favorites will be readily available—there is no need to pay. In the worst case, if your list doesn’t build automatically, you can type in your favorites and hit “save.”

Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member, as we are, we have access to 100 million songs ad-free, the largest catalog of ad-free podcasts, and thousands of playlists and stations included with Prime at no additional costs.

Of course, there are many other music streaming services, some free and some with monthly or annual fees. By searching online you can find many different options you may prefer.

If any of this is unclear to you, please don’t hesitate to ask, and we’ll post the answers to our questions here.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 27, 2014:

These unusual flowers hung from a short tree. For more photos, please click here.

Our lives are on hold…Staying upbeat through the process…

Typical house in the Campanario neighborhood in Madeira, where we lived for almost three months in 2014. Excuse the tilted photo…we were on a very steep hill.

In the past two weeks since we’ve been sick, time has passed so quickly that one day folds into another, and we hardly notice. We are anxious to reconnect with family and friends when we are our “old selves” again.

In reality, we aren’t our “old selves” lately anyway. The waiting period until we leave for Cleveland in two months is dragging on, regardless of how busy we are. Typically, we love the anticipation of our lives, but this type of anticipation is hardly enjoyable or exciting. The sooner we “get this show on the road,” the better.

Days pass when I hardly think about it in an attempt to stay upbeat and not be dragged down by the eventuality of this gross surgery. When we are with our friends and family, we are cheerful, and they never know it is on our minds. When it’s just the two of us, we do very well. It’s not “doom and gloom” in our daily lives. We still laugh, talk, and enjoy our time together.

My primary concern is that I’ll start getting severe symptoms of valve disease before we get to Cleveland and have to seek medical care in Minnesota on an emergency basis. I’m hoping I can hold out for two more months. I have mild symptoms, but nothing I can’t live with for now.

It’s been a little more difficult while we’ve been sick these past few weeks. This Friday will be two weeks since I got sick and three weeks for Tom. Tom is still feeling tired and out of sorts. I don’t feel weak or tired but cough quite a bit, although it’s not a dry, hacking cough.

In any case, it’s been dull and uneventful these past few weeks. Hopefully, we can go to Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka this Friday to get together with Tom’s siblings and other family members for happy hour and dinner. Gosh, I haven’t had a glass of wine since Vincent’s graduation party on June 7, not that I’ve missed it.

Often weeks go by, and we don’t drink any alcohol. For us, adult beverages are more about socialization and ritual than “getting a buzz,” which rarely happens for either of us. Based on my heart situation, I am very cautious about drinking wine, sticking to small portions when I imbibe. Tom, always the driver, also keeps his consumption to a minimum.

The walking is going OK. Yesterday, I walked for a total of 3500 steps, which is the most I’ve been able to do for quite a while. I set my phone’s timer for once an hour or less, depending on how I feel that day. My new goal is to stretch the time I am walking instead of a specific number of steps while keeping the end-of-the-day step count in mind.

Today is another beautiful sunny day, making the walking all the more enjoyable. But, the struggle to walk causes me to concentrate on not teetering while walking to avoid falling. My gait is not consistent and steady.

We wish a fantastic summer day for our friends and family in the northern hemisphere and a pleasant winter day for our friends in the southern hemisphere.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 26, 2014:

A papaya tree in the house’s side garden in Campanario, Madeira. For more photos, please click here.

Walking again…Bread?…

In Madeira, we encountered several of these pine trees.

With my cough improving daily, I started walking again yesterday. The heart medication I am taking prevents my heart rate from getting high, and it’s a strain on my body to do anything that raises my pulse. Yesterday, I set the timer on my phone to go off once an hour and then head back outside to walk around the building again.

This morning, I started differently. Instead of walking around the building once, I am pushing myself to walk continuously for five minutes six times a day. Right now, a combined total of 30 minutes a day is all I can muster. I was pleased to walk the first five minutes this morning.

I set out my earbuds, and next time I go out at 10:00 am, I will bring my phone and listen to podcasts, hopefully getting my mind on something other than the strain of walking. Today is a beautiful sunny day with only a few clouds in the skies for a chance. The temperature is expected to be a high of 84F, 29C, a perfect day. Rain isn’t expected until Friday.

Yesterday morning, I made all the fixings for taco salads for both of us. I chopped onions, grape tomatoes, celery, olives, romaine lettuce, and grated cheddar cheese. For Tom, I cooked three pounds of ground beef, and for me, two pounds of lean turkey breast. I like spicy food, but Tom doesn’t, so making two batches makes sense.

You’d think five pounds of meat would last several days, but we’ll only get three of four dinners out of it. There isn’t much left once the meat cooks, and we drain it. Once drained, I put each batch of meat back into their respective pans, add one can of sugar-free tomato sauce, and season the beef with keto taco spices from Amazon and other herbs and spices, such as Himalayan salt, garlic and onion powder, and pepper. To add to the Mexican flavor, I add quite a bit of cumin to my meat.

When we had dinner, I made myself a tortilla with all the vegetables, cheese, Wholly guacamole, and Pace Picante sauce. I found the keto coconut flour tortillas on Amazon at this link.

An important point if you buy these is to fill the tortilla with hot meat and vegetables, but do not microwave it after filling it. Otherwise, it falls apart. It holds up well when not heated after filling. Finding a tortilla I can use to make wraps was a delicious treat.

Once the taco meat is gone, I will make shredded chicken wraps for me and grilled chicken breasts for Tom. He won’t eat the keto wrap and has never enjoyed wraps. He prefers plain white bread, which we don’t buy. So, it’s rare for us to make any sandwich. He enjoys burgers with the bun and Reuben sandwiches when eating out.

Often, I long for a sandwich or avocado toast. But I haven’t found any bread that works for my way of eating. I’ve seen a few possibilities, but at $24.99 a loaf, there is no way I’d pay that much. A few years ago, I could buy keto bread in South Africa for one-third of that price. But most keto bread in the US is made with wheat, and I don’t eat any grain, including wheat.

The only other alternative is to make my own keto bread using healthy ingredients. But right now, I don’t feel like baking anything. I don’t have the proper pans and ingredients to make keto bread. Once buying everything needed, the cost can be as prohibitive as the expensive loaves described above.

For now, I’ll be happy with the coconut tortillas. There are two packs of five to get me through ten meals since I’d never eat more than one per meal. Again, I’m looking forward to tonight’s dinner, mainly due to that tasty tortilla.

Right now, Tom is taking a nap. He had a fitful night with little sleep, and hopefully, he’ll feel better soon. He’s still coughing,  along with me, and neither has fully recovered. Hopefully soon.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 25, 2014:

This worm was several inches long. It’s a larger version of those we’ve found in our produce when washing it. No pesticides are used in farming on this island, which we like. After trash pickup, we found this worm on Tuesday’s bottom of the outdoor garbage bin. We set it out on the grass to continue its life. For more photos, please click here.

What streaming services do we use?..Can you end your cable contract for TV?…

It was often foggy in the hills in Madera.

Yesterday, we wrote about listening to podcasts, and today, we’re covering streaming services for those unfamiliar with using any services other than Netflix.

We use many streaming services, frequently switching back and forth based on certain movies and TV series we’d like to see.

Currently, we use the following services:

  1. Netflix (permanently): See this link for various plans
  2. Hulu (permanently): See this link for multiple plans. (Available with LIVE TV for a premium price of $76.99…we don’t use this premium feature).
  3. Paramount Plus (temporarily, depending on what we’d like to watch): See this link for various plans.
  4. Apple TV (temporarily, depending on what we’d like to watch): $9.95 monthly
  5. Amazon Prime (Prime Video is included with a Prime membership and other benefits such as pricing and free shipping on Amazon… A Prime membership is $14.99 per month or $139 per year if you pay annually.

Based on varying prices and plans (and the country in which you reside), we are paying less than $50 per month for the above. Some plans include ads, and some do not. We prefer plans without ads when the cost is not prohibitive.

In our old lives, 12 years ago, we paid over $200 monthly for cable TV.

Our occasional add-ons:

1, Max (includes HBO)

  • With Ads: $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year
  • Ad-Free: $15.99 per month or $149.99 per year
  • Ultimate Ad-Free: $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year
  • 4K: $21 per month

2. Paramount Plus with Showtime

  • The Paramount+ with SHOWTIME plan costs $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year, plus taxes. This plan includes content from Paramount+ and SHOWTIME and is commercial-free except for live TV and a few shows. It also includes everything in the Paramount+ Essential tier, plus additional benefits like a live feed of your local CBS affiliate.

3. Britbox

  • Free 7-day trial, then just $8.99/month or $89.99/year

Many streaming services offer a one-time 7-day free trial. You can cancel at the end of the seven days, but most likely, you’ll be asked to include a credit card if you don’t cancel on time. I always make a note on my digital calendar to cancel a service if we’ve been able to finish watching a show we were interested in in the seven days.

Some services make it tricky to cancel the service and may offer you special pricing if you stay with them. We handle these on a case-by-case basis.

There are many more streaming services, but we’ve found the above most useful for our interests. For more information on additional streaming services, see this excellent article here.

For those unfamiliar with streaming services, here is a link with an excellent explanation of other streaming services I haven’t mentioned above.

What happens to the regular network TV shows when you end cable TV? 

You won’t have ABC, NBC, or CBS (unless you sign for Paramount Plus, which includes CBS) and many other networks. You can find many of your favorite networks on various streaming services. You will no longer watch shows when they are on TV. You will stream them at your convenience.

How will I find the streaming services on my device?

You will add the app from the usual location where you download apps, entering the username and password you created when you signed up, where your credit card information will be stored for future automatic payments. You do not send in a check for payment as you may have done with your cable service.

Once the app, its service, and your account are entered, it’s a one-click process to open the app and use the streaming service. You will not have to log in each time since your device will remember your information. We keep all the services on my phone, taskbar, and desktop on Windows. You will add the icon for Apple users as you usually add apps to your device.

How do I get the streaming service from my device to the TV monitor?

Most US TV monitors are “smart TVs” where you can “cast” a show from your device to the TV. This is the easiest method; your TV may already have all the streaming services available through a one-click on the TV monitor. If this isn’t available on your TV, or you have an older TV, you can use an HDMI cord from your device.

The Cast button resembles a small TV screen with a WiFi signal. Depending on which app you choose, you’ll find the Cast button either in the top right or left corner of your screen once you open the app. Choose the device you’ll cast to, then tap Cast.

While in hotels, we find it tricky to cast all of our streaming services since they aren’t included as a default. In those cases, we use an HDMI cord. If your device doesn’t have an HDMI outlet, you can usually find an adapter that will work on your device. However, your TV must have an outlet for various HDMI cords by accessing the INPUT on the TV’s remote. Generally, you’ll select HDMI 2 since most TVs work best with that option.

“I see several free streaming services. Why would I pay for a service?”

Many of these free services collect your information and sell it. Also, there usually is a poor signal from the servers, and many ads pop up during the streaming process. However, some networks have free viewing for some of their shows, which may be worth checking out.

I realize this information is cumbersome and complicated for those unfamiliar with streaming. If you have questions, please write them down, and I will post the answers in another post. Often, unfamiliar users end up paying for a service rep to set up streaming services. This is an easy option if you can afford the service fee.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 24, 2014:

As it began to rain, little puffs of clouds dotted the hills in Madeira, Portugal. For more, please click here

How to listen to podcasts, if you don’t already…

Old abandoned house in the hills of Madeira.

When we tell some family members and friends that we listen to podcasts, they shake their heads in astonishment, uncertain of what we’re talking about. Many understand why we do this and are avid followers of podcasts themselves covering various topics that appeal to them, as in our case.

Podcasts are described as follows from AI:

“Podcasts have been steadily increasing in popularity since their invention in 2004, but some say they really took off after 2014. The term “podcast” was coined by Ben Hammersley, a journalist for The Guardian, in 2004 by combining the words “iPod” and “broadcasting.” The medium began to gain traction with the advent of broadband internet access and portable digital audio devices like the iPod. Adam Curry, a former MTV VJ, is considered the first big-name podcaster, starting the popular podcast The Daily Source Code in August 2004. In 2005, Steve Jobs introduced the idea of subscribing to podcasts through the iTunes interface, and George W. Bush became the first US president to deliver his weekly address in podcast form.”

The first podcast we started listening to was, at first, in the format of radio, specifically Garage Logic. Tom had been listening when it first began broadcasting in 1993, most often on the radio in his car if he happened to be on the radio during his drive to and from work, about 45 minutes from our home.

Over the years, I became interested in the show as well. We could listen to it while it was on the radio, at home using our computers, and were directed to the KSTP radio broadcast. It was in 2018 that the radio broadcast ended, and months later, the first Garage Logic podcast began.

As mentioned above, podcasts became popular beginning in 2004. At that time, we both began searching for other podcasts that appealed to our tastes, interests, and current topics of the day. Tom’s and my interests differ in many ways. He can listen to podcasts about sports, history, and politics. My interests revolve around health and wellness, cruise facts and news, science, and technology.

We both enjoy Garage Logic and listen to all five weekly episodes together, along with several others revolving around politics and the state of the economy. Also, we always enjoy the Bachelor TV series, and weekly, we listen to Chris Harrison, the former host of the show’s fun and lighthearted podcast, “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever’ which may be found here.

But, for those who don’t listen to podcasts and would like to do so, here’s how to find them below:

“There are several ways to find podcasts, including using podcast apps or listening on a web browser:

  • Google Podcasts
    This app allows users to browse popular and trending shows on Android phones and tablets, explore recommendations, and customize their listening experience. Users can search for podcasts by category, such as comedy, news, or history.
  • Apple Podcasts
    Available on iPhones and iPads, this app allows users to search for podcasts by name and select them from the search results. As users type in a search term, suggestions will help them find what they want.
  • Web browser
    Podcasts can be listened to on a web browser like Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.”

Also, it’s as easy as typing a topic in the search bar of your device’s browser: “podcasts…” followed by your favorite topic or name of a person who broadcasts via podcasts. Many options will appear. You can select any you prefer, and if you enjoy a particular podcast, you can bookmark it or save it as an icon on your device for easy future reference.

The fun thing about podcasts is that you can listen to many live or save to listen to later at your convenience.

You may ask, what app do I use to listen to podcasts, and do I have to pay for them?

Here is an excellent list of several apps suitable for listening to podcasts, but there are many more. When you search for a podcast, you’ll often encounter the app you will use to listen. Many are free. We do not pay for any of the podcasts we listen to.

Podcast app Best for
Spotify Music and podcasts
Player FM Android users
Castro Customized listening
Pocket Casts Simple app interface
Audible Audiobooks
Google Podcasts Google ecosystem users
Apple Podcasts iOS users
SiriusXM Flexible listening options
Overcast Social sharing
Why do podcasters have their broadcasts in an app? 
The answer is logical. Through the specific app, the podcasters receive compensation from advertisers. This is all set up by the app, making it easier for the producer to get their podcast up and running quickly and easily. Plus, being affiliated with certain podcasting apps lends to the credibility of the content provided. The more listeners the podcasters entertain, the more revenue is generated.
In the case where no advertisers are associated with the podcast, the presenter may ask for a monthly fee for a subscription. For free podcasts, don’t be alarmed if you are asked to “subscribe” to the podcast. It doesn’t necessarily mean you must pay If you particularly enjoy it. Subscribing to the podcast allows you easy access each time you return, and some offer notifications to your email or text. To avoid paying, if asked, research to see if there is an unpaid option.
You can easily “unsubscribe” anytime by simply unchecking the “subscribe” button on the app page.
We hope this article helps those less familiar with podcasts get into the groove of this entertaining and formative means of topics in your wheelhouse.
Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 23, 2014:

More Christmas holly was growing in the Campanario, Madeira neighborhood. For more photos, please click here.

“Home Alone”…On the mend…

A beautiful lily in the garden at our holiday home in Madeira.

This morning at 8:30, Tom left to go to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to meet up with his kids, Tammy and TJ, to participate in the “Back to the 50’s Car Show,”  as described, “Back to the 50’s Weekend is celebrating their 50th annual event at the fairgrounds! Stop by for classic cars, some fair food favorites, and more!”

TJ has a “classic” car, as shown in the photo below. Tom last attended this event with TJ on June 24, 2017. We wrote about it in this post here.

TJ’s 1954 Buick Special was next to his canopy at the Back to the ’50s annual event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

It has rained almost every day since arriving in Minnesota in early May, and today is no exception. He’ll likely return before the next expected rainstorm around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. We’re scheduled to pick up our groceries at the local Cub Foods store when he returns.

We haven’t been scheduling delivered grocery orders at the Cub Foods store in Eden Prairie—the delivery cost here is $8.50 plus a tip, usually around $10. It makes no sense to pay $18.50 in extra charges when the grocery store is less than a mile from here. I place the order to be picked up at a specific time.

We drive up to one of the specific pickup parking spots, text our arrival to the number on the sign, and bring groceries to the car. They put together the order for the designated pickup time, so there is little waiting. It’s worth doing it this way, saving us almost $80 monthly instead of having the groceries delivered.

On another note, I am feeling better each day. My coughing has lessened in the past 48 hours since I started taking antibiotics and Prednisone. The only problem is that Prednisone has a severe impact on one’s ability to sleep. I’ve slept less than five hours the past two nights, making me sleepy during the day. But I make a point of not napping to possibly aid in sleeping better at night.

Taking the two tablets early in the morning is recommended, but doing so hasn’t helped. I only have to take them two more mornings until my five-day course ends.

As mentioned, we didn’t meet with Tom’s sister at Billy’s. In the afternoon, Tom drove to Chanhassen to pick up an online order for dinner from our favorite Chinese restaurant, Happy Garden. Their food is fresh and not overly processed. I ordered a dish with shrimp, chicken, scallops, veggies with sauce on the side, and pan-fried (not deep-fried) egg foo young, enough to last two nights.

Tom ordered his usual favorite, two orders of sweet and sour pork with fried rice, enough to last for two nights’ dinner. We’ll enjoy the delicious meals again this evening. We had a lovely evening streaming two shows on Apple TV, “Slow Horses,” a British spy MI6 spy thriller, and afterward, on Netflix, season two of Bridgerton, both of which we thoroughly enjoy.

As I continue to recover, we’ll do the same tonight. Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will feel well enough to make plans with family and get out and about. Tom is still coughing but is also considerably better than a week ago. He’s had the virus for two weeks, and it’s been one week for me.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 22, 2014:

An unusual type of cactus in Madeira. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back…Sorry for the lapse in posting…First day of summer…

We dined at this little restaurant in Benabbio, Italy. The service by the owner and the food was excellent. After dinner, we were served “comped” Limoncello, a delicious lemon-flavored liquor. Tom drank both his and mine.

Yesterday, we received countless email messages from our readers asking if something was wrong and why we didn’t post. I tried to respond to all of the inquiries. If I didn’t get back to you, I apologize. I know I’ll post again today to update everyone about our absence.

On Wednesday night, my coughing escalated so that I couldn’t sleep. I propped up two pillows under my head to lessen the coughing, to no avail. Not only was I coughing every minute, but I had an awful wheezing in my throat and upper chest. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it under control.

At 2:00 am, I got up and used the powered nebulizer with prescription medicine, but that only helped for about 20 minutes, and the hacking began again. There are numerous cough medicines I can’t use since they interact with the heart medications. I was a mess. And I was so frustrated to think I’d be posting about more health issues when all of you have heard enough already for so long.

Once up and about, I told Tom I needed to go to urgent care, and we headed to the facility we’d gone to for Tom when he was so sick from COVID-19 in 2022. Once we arrived, we noticed so few cars in the parking lot and knew something was amiss. The clinic was closed permanently.

Since the pandemic ended, they likely didn’t get enough business to justify staying open. Looking online, I found another urgent care center in Eden Prairie, which is not far from our hotel. About 15 minutes later, we arrived at Allina Health. I suggested that Tom return to the hotel, and I called him when I was ready to leave.

But, at this location, without an “emergency entrance” sign on the building, I asked him to wait for me until I texted him that they could see me. I asked at the reception desk on the third floor if they took walk-in patients as described on their website. The receptionist said. “Oh, I need to remind our web people again to take “urgent care” off our website. People keep showing up, and we have to turn them away.” Duh?

I texted Tom that I was coming out. Off again, we went to another facility, but this time, I called to be sure they were open and receiving emergency patients. They were and said we could come by right away. By this point, I was even more exhausted and continued to cough.

It made no sense for Tom to come inside and wait for me. With him still coughing, he was vulnerable to catching another virus and didn’t need to be exposed to more germs.

After checking in, the wait “in chairs’ wasn’t too long, and once situated in the room, after two nurses took my vitals and asked questions, a nurse practitioner saw me, not a doctor. I had hoped to see a doctor. But, when I looked online to see the requirements to become a nurse practitioner, I wasn’t so disappointed. It takes quite a bit of education to acquire such a license.

An infographic explains the pathway to becoming an NP, from a bachelor's degree in nursing to passing the NP licensure exam

Knowing I would have an x-ray, which a radiologist off-site would analyze, I felt more at ease. The NP listened thoroughly to my heart and chest sounds to say, without a doubt, that I had a lot of wheezing and chest sounds. The x-ray and radiologist’s diagnosis confirmed I have a raging upper respiratory infection.

Antibiotics and Prednisone were prescribed to be picked up at a nearby Walgreens Pharmacy. Tom arrived shortly after I contacted him, and we were off to the pharmacy. It had been about 45 minutes since the prescriptions were submitted to the pharmacy.

Once we arrived, we waited in the drive-through for a while, but I decided to go inside when the line of cars wasn’t moving. It was a long walk to the pharmacy section in this store. Once there, they told me it would be at least 30 minutes until they were ready. I returned to the car to sit there with Tom and wait. It took 35 minutes until I could go back in to get the order.

After all this commotion, I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and get some rest. I took the meds as required and flopped in the bed, desperately needing to take a nap. I slept for over two hours while Tom listened to a podcast, the sound of which didn’t bother me a bit. By the time I awoke, it was dinner time; I didn’t have the energy to do a post so late in the day. Earlier in the day, I’d uploaded the notice that there wouldn’t be a post, anticipating it would be the long day it proved to be.

Today is a better day. After the long nap, I only slept about 5 hours last night, but I feel better. The coughing has lessened considerably in such a short time since I started the meds.

We won’t be going to Billy’s today, fearing that I may still be infectious and not feeling well enough to sit in a bar. Tom just finished washing and drying the laundry, and now I’ll fold it and put it away. There will be no cooking today. We’ll order Chinese takeaway from the fabulous restaurant in our old neighborhood.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 21, 2014:

The ocean in Madeira is behind this old vine-covered garage. For more photos, please click here.