Food, Old Diary, Travel

Dzień dobry – good morning from Polish Fest

Dzień dobry on the day after our visit to the Twin Cities Polish Fest!

2015080812073907The more I see of Minneapolis (during the summer) and the longer I stay off their crazy interstate system the more I like the city.  Traffic here is bonkers — not as bad as, say, Seattle, but people are in a big hurry (where are they not?)

2015080812081408It’s a city of wonderful neighborhoods and even though we are staying out of the city as much as possible, our sojourns into it are quite pleasant. I’m impressed with their parks.  Milwaukee used to have lovely parks, in fact Milwaukee used to have one of the best park systems in the nations — but they have let their treasure moulder and rot and decay.  Minneapolis has not done so.  Their parks are alive and cared for and well used.  There’s also a sense of vibrance here (at least during the summer); I’m learning to really appreciate a neighbor that I knew little about and rarely visited when we lived in Wisconsin.

Aug 7-9 was the 7th Annual Twin Cities Polish Fest. The only Polish Fest I’ve been to has been the one in Milwaukee, so this was an interesting twist on my own heritage.  It was smaller by far than Milwaukee’s version (perhaps the length of 2 city blocks with exhibitors/vendors tents and 2 music stages) and a few hundred attendants at a time — thousands over the course of three days — but compact and easily viewable.  It was good to hear the language again.  I never learned Polish, and with I travelled there on a speaking tour I had to take my own interpreter, my parents had been of the opinion that their language was theirs — for their secrets — and I never took the initiative to learn it on my own.  Something I’ll forever regret.

Polish Festival siteIt was set on the city’s edge — next to the river. Normally it’s a nice little street with condos and restaurants in the neighborhood — a nicely re-developing plot of land.

The food was luscious.  All the traditional Polish favorites on offer, and we did our best to sample a few of them.  2015080812110110There was a stage with folk music — that was ‘there’ but not many people listening.  There was a stage for dancing — polkas and waltzes outnumbered the other offerings 3 to 1 — and that stage was packed to the gills.

Peg and I had a fascinating lunch with two non-Poles…. two older gals from Minneapolis who haled from North Dakota and they regaled us with stories about hardy North Dakotians of the 30’s and 40’s — the gals were preparing ‘talks’ about their parents to give to a group and they were primed for story telling!

bet your pireogies

It wasn’t much of a festival — meaning total number of people.  Milwaukee goes bananas with festivals and anything under 50,000 for a weekend seems not to count but I really liked this mini- version of a festival much more than the big-honkin’ extravaganzas we used to attend.  You could talk with people without getting run over by the crowd.  Everyone was well behaved (as in not drunk).  And there were clearly a LOT of Polish speakers in the group.  I felt at home.


Old & New covers

On the way there we stopped for 1/2 an hour at IKEA ( I know, I know — how can you ever spend JUST 1/2 an hour at IKEA ). We found what we went for — a couple pillow covers to replace the old ones that came with Serendipity.  2015080811214202I always find the store fans to be a subject of fascination.  Those are some fans!

And on the way home we stopped at Sikora Polish deli & market for a few treats.

All in all it was a splendid day.  Our legs are still recovering from the hike to the waterfalls a few days ago — and being on our feet all day was a mixed blessing.  The muscles needed to be worked out, but the working out of the muscles wasn’t the most comfortable thing — so being around a lot of people having a good time was our reward.

Enough from me for today.  I hope you have a super day, we’re supposed to get some rain this afternoon and I may just take a nap.  Thanks for stopping and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


Old Diary

Family Birthday Celebrations

Peg’s birthday is Tuesday.  A little celebration in the midst of home sale jitters is a good way to lighten our hearts and there’s nothing bad about living to the age of 66.  Too many of us don’t make it!

So, tonight we spend with Kathryn and her hubby eating and drinking and laughing.  No idea what’s on the menu but I’m sure a good time will be had by all. The three pictures above are Kathryn (mom) and Melanie (daughter).  The lights of our lives!

I think we’ll pack up in the morning for the short jaunt to IL for Inspection Diversion.  We’ll have time to poke around in the Schaumberg area — between malls and IKEA and the Container Store I’m sure we’ll keep busy — and they have a pool and great beds (as I said the other day we’ve been to the same hotel before).  When we get the call that they are done with the inspection we’ll only be 90 minutes from home.

I guess all the fol-der-rol about inspections is kind of odd to me.  Of course, there is the fact that we were in our 50’s.  Our buyer is much younger than we; but he has construction experience which I did not — I just had experience managing a 12 family apartment.  But we viewed the building once, and made an offer 48 hours later.  And we love the building as much now as when we bought it.  Were it not for the decision to go mobil we’d not be selling at all.  The fact that it was 90 years old (or nearly so when we bought it) only meant to us that there would be normal maintenance from time to time, nothing scary, but the stuff that you have to do to any building as it gets older.  But we always saw the building as solid — a place that will be here for our grand-kids grand-kids!  The systems are all in good shape and the neighborhood is kewl, and the neighbors are nice, respectful, and helpful.  What’s not to like.  Anyone who has a life, or hobbies, or interests that make the building a good choice for them would be well served by buying it.

Anyway…. right now we are looking at 35 days till closing.  So, fingers crossed that the inspection goes as expected……  The one thing about this entire home selling process is the lesson that other people don’t look at life the same way you do!  And there is no right or wrong.  It’s whatever works for the individual. 😀

numeral 35

Thirty Five Days Till Closing

Old Diary

De-Winterizing and New Faucets

numeral 43

43 more days till closing

One day down, 43 to go!

The forecast is up and sunny so I hope to get outside and de-winterize Journey

While out there I’m going to install two new faucets that we bought recently.  Last year we realized not only that the faucets were leaking ( normally a quick fix with a replacement valve mechanism or washer ) but they were additionally quite corroded.  We talked about replacing one or both last fall — after successfully replacing the drinking water faucet — but seeing as we weren’t going to be using the coach over winter we intentionally put the purchase off until now.


The hardest find was a new faucet for the bathroom.  In the 10 years since Journey was manufactured the finishes in vogue with buyers have changed. Polished brass is now hard to find.  And, for the bath we didn’t want the single handle MOEN type fixture we had originally.  We found this Glacier Bay two handle unit that suits us well.

There was some thought given to replacing more than just the faucet, but the medicine cabinet, shower, and all the door hardware and wall hardware are all in polished brass — so that would be a bunch of money for not that much actual visual improvement.  We LIKE polished brass.  It’s not in vogue — but who cares about that if you LIKE what you have?


IKEA Ringskar

The galley was easier to take care of.  During the winter we had given consideration to using an IKEA faucet. Their RINGSKAR model was really close to what we wanted, but I got to thinking about how hard it would be to find replacement ceramics if we needed them, and in the end we decided against going that route.  We also saved ourselves 140 mile round trip and the cost of fuel.

Avanti Faucet

Pfister – Avanti

We found a Pfister Avanti faucet that we liked a lot.    It’s still single handle.  It has a pull down spray attachment (as did the IKEA unit).  the size is about the same and the cost was comparable.

faucet wrench

Faucet Wrench

So, we picked up the second faucet as well as another faucet wrench — which I had two of before we downsized!  Argh! It will be fun trying to get both installed — I’m a good size guy and working underneath counters has never been my forte.  But I have confidence I’ll get it done without much stress.

Last summer, when we installed the drinking water faucet, we got an ugly surprise when we found the coach plumbing used some unconventional fittings. The drinking water faucet is not a regular faucet — so I could have anticipated some difference but I never thought to check.   I’m hoping that won’t be the case with the new faucets — but at least here in town we have easier access to plumbing parts. We did the other install while at Blackhawk Park — 20 miles each way from the closest hardware.

Hopefully the day will go well and I’ll be able to take Journey back to the storage yard for a few days.

Journey DL, Minimalism, Old Diary

Oh Dear, and Headlights

It got to me today.  Don’t ask why.  Maybe the weather.  Maybe the cold.  Maybe the waiting.  Maybe the … well, who the heck knows…. Maybe I’m just crackin’ up.

I keep saying that this is my diary, and today’s entry (more than some) is primarily for me:  Moi!,  μου, mnie, мене, minua.


someone else captured that deer in the headlights feeling quite well

Today I’m feeling paralyzed. Kind of “deer in headlights” paralyzed. That’s it in a nutshell.  I am sitting here without tools, without normal household furniture and possessions laying around with no idea how long we’ll be here and no idea whether anything we might do around the house would be of any help in selling it.  If I had the slightest idea that some particular action would move something forward, anything forward, even imperceptible distances I’d jump on it right now.  That’s what I do — I move forward.  I tackle the problem and get it fixed.  But I don’t KNOW the PROBLEM.  I have no idea WHAT to FIX.  Which, to those of you who are eavesdropping on me today you know is to get this house sold.  It’s a great property.  It’s a huge property.  The possibilities are virtually limitless — but we need to find someone with 1.) vision and 2.) money who wants to buy it.

I’ve been putting off doing our taxes  just because I AM feeling paralyzed — Oh, I have time yet; and I have completed my taxes well after this date several times but I’m usually finished by now and halfway to getting my refund by the middle of March.

I have been dawdling around on my insurance decision — that medical insurance change because our COBRA expires at the end of this month.  I had a conversation with an Independent Agent on Friday — (so I am doing things) just not quickly the way I usually would do them.  I think I know what will ultimately happen but I’m awaiting a certificate of credible insurance in the mail.

Every time I start thinking insurance or tax, or whether to remodel anything, or not, or whether to plan future movement — pretty much anything — I just feel like the walls are closing in.  It is so unlike me; but the problem is that movement in almost any direction seems completely wasteful.  The things I could do are all in areas I’ve never been skilled and frankly don’t want to be skilled. It’s transient.  It will pass.  Others have much worse situations to deal with.  They, however, are not me.  And I can’t walk their mile.  I have my own to walk. I’m doing the best I can but I’ll admit to feeling weaker about this circumstance than anything I’ve ever faced in life.  There seems nothing I can do to change anything.  Even if we were to decide to abort our mobility plans — which we have no intent on doing — we still need to get the house sold so that the money can go to other commitments — commitments other people are now depending upon.

I have even been wondering whether some of my frustration relates to the way I have avoided waste.  I have always wanted to be efficient; and I have always avoided doing things that had to be redone. I put off deadlines so that when I was done I could not decide there was a better way of doing the job, or that someone else would say they changed their mind. I avoid repetitious tasks; I love learning, but don’t ask me to do something I learned over and over and over and over — I’d rather learn new things than just keep repeating what I’ve done 1,000 times.  When I drive I usually go the shortest, or the most efficient way.  But I don’t like returning the same way I went out.

Yesterday Peg said something about touching up the woodwork around the bathroom window.  There are two windows up here in the residence that could use some work.  Well, actually they all could but that’s another story for someone who intends to put new  windows into the place in the future.  So, I went to look at the kitchen and bathroom sills.  They need scraping, and heavy sanding.  Then I could paint or stain the lovely old wood  — and they would look freshly painted.


I could just scream

But that’s the rub.  I know that when I look at real estate my eye is always drawn to those things that are freshly done — and I always ask myself — for a house this old, why is that freshly refinished?  What was wrong?

Do other people do that?  I have no idea.  I rarely seem to think the same thoughts that others do.  I just seem to have a different approach to life.  Therefore I never know whether my take on how to appeal to other people’s interests is valid or invalid.

apple splatter

Apple splatter on a wall

So, I could just about scream — but even that wouldn’t accomplish anything.  I’m not even sure it would release all that much energy.  I remember mom telling me the story about one time that dad was really upset about some argument between the two of them.  He left the kitchen and went out side.  He picked up a fallen apple from a tree and threw it against the garage. The apple splattered to smithereens.  Mom decided that if dad could do that to an apple, she’d hate to think what he could do to her if he got angry at HER (he never did), and ever after behaved in such a way as to be a peacemaker, not an agitator.

Kathryn offered us tickets to a local chili cook off.  — sounds nice but the only way to go and enjoy it is to go back to meat eating.  We’ve been working at staying OFF the animal products.  I could have accepted, and we could have gone and noshed all afternoon long — but that’s not where I want to be.

I have a couple image projects to work on but right now I don’t even have the heart to tackle them.  I thought about picking up some more furniture when we were at IKEA but what’s the sense of buying “stuff” that we’ll just have to sell or store when the house finally sells.

Peg suggested that we hire a rental car for a couple weeks allowing her to stay home and me to make a photo trip somewhere — I usually seem to do phototrips in mid-winter.  But, now that we are retired I don’t want to travel without her.  I have gone so many places alone and I’d really prefer going with her. And it’s not warm enough yet to take off in Journey, not that there’s anything wrong with traveling in Journey at this time of year, but because we’d have to pack everything in the school into Journey and then unpack it when we return  — and it’s too early in the year to leave the house unattended.

We clearly will never put ourselves in this kind of limbo again. Accepting an offer to purchase with a home sale contingency did not work out for us. That deal dragged on for 6 months, each extension allowed because we hoped the buyer could get their home sold.  Having bought Journey when we did we also limited our subsequent options.  That one choice further dictated how we could get from here to mobility.  Downsizing was something with which we desperately needed help. The only person we knew with experience in estate sales was leaving the area permanently.  We made the best decisions we could make at the time, and within the time frame we could foresee.  I’m not regretting anything we did; but I would not put myself in the situation to do the same all over again.

temper tantrumI’m recounting these things as my way of reminding myself that I am not a victim.  I made conscious choices at each step of the way and some of the choices did not work out the way we “planned.”  I guess at the moment the subject of planning is not my favorite subject in the world.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary

All Steamed Up Over Steam

Our old steamer set

Yesterday was such a beautiful day we decided to take a drive.  The trip was mostly an excuse to get out of the house.  We had a Christmas gift card for Darden restaurants and we have been talking about double boilers and steamer baskets.  The nice weather seemed a good day to investigate a solution.

Our steamer baskets were among the few things we never purchased. We had two of them, inherited from parents upon their death.  When we downsized we kept one set, and sold the other.  Both sets were cheap, thin stainless that worked on our induction hob, but scorched food easily when heating anything other than water. I use them a fair bit and we want pots that could go with us in Journey, not take up excessive space, and work on the induction hob.

new steamer set on 5 qt pot

I have had good luck with IKEA stainless wear. We found a Darden resto near the nearest IKEA store so that was our destination for the day.

We ended up with a 5 qt pot and two steamers.  One larger for veg and another smaller for steaming fish, and smaller items.  The lid inverts for storage — minimizing space requirement.  And they are reasonably compact for what they are.  The new pots will allow us to put several pieces of cookware into storage — simplifying our kitchen kit — and provide a better combination of sizes for full time use in Journey. 

Kathryn's Wedding

Three pieces as they nest

I’m really happy with our find. We’ll put the old set into storage — if we ever return to brick and mortar living I’m sure we’ll find some use for them — maybe for crafting seeing as they aren’t very good for cooking.

After returning home we discovered a nice side benefit.  It turns out that the steamers are the proper size to fit correctly on top of our IKEA pressure cooker.  We’ll be able to use them on either pot — adding a little flexibility to our kit.  We’re both happy.

I am constantly amazed that IKEA manages to produce cookware that is comparable to much more expensive nationally famous name brands for so much less moolah.  Their flatpack furniture is not nearly as durable as some of the more expensive stuff you’d by in a regular furniture store, and no one I know has ever bragged about inheriting a vintage IKEA sofa or chair — but still and all it does the job it’s supposed to.

270 Sq Ft House

On a separate note, every time we visit — sometimes we just go for a day trip and ideas about compact living — I spend time in their 270 sq ft apartment model.  A complete apartment: living, sleeping, cooking, bath space all in 270 sq ft — it’s a model for city living, it’s an inspiration for greater efficiency, it might very well turn out to be what we do if and when we get tired of mobile living.  We never set a time length for how long we plan on RV’ing — and while we are still stuck her waiting on the sale of the house sometimes I wonder if we are EVER going to actually get out there and get mobile, but we have always kept the possibility open that at some point we might set up location specific housekeeping again.  You might enjoy this YouTube capture by someone else — it shows all the goodies.

I really do like the idea of compact living.  I know that sounds bizarre from someone currently living in 6500 sq ft.  But truth is, even in the school I tend to live small.  I have my desk which has always been piled with stuff, inside an otherwise largely empty room.  I used to have my studio space — but aside from dragging in props I did most of my photography in that one room.  With 19 other rooms to play with I didn’t use the others for much other than storage.  Last summer in Journey was just about the right amount of space.  I had some minor issues about my computer equipment and we may or may not end up with a slightly larger RV — but Journey turns out to be just about the ideal amount of space for the two of us.   However — to be clear — that fact that I mention pros and cons does not mean we are looking for a replacement.  I try to stay aware of the pluses and minuses of life — I don’t envy or regret — it’s merely a recognition of life as a temporary state with good and bad aspects.  Some people can’t have negatives and not work to fix them.  I tend to accept them.  Sometimes we’ll watch one of the house hunter programs and I get crazy about young couples especially who have to have everything just so, just the way they want them — which usually means just the way they grew up with things.  I’ve lived long enough now to remember the old ways of doing things, as well as the new ways.  Sometimes I prefer the old, other times I rush to the new — but knowing your place in time is important to me.

Salty Salmon

Steamers sitting on top of the pressure cooker

The meal at Longhorn Steakhouse was Ok.  Nothing special but it felt funny going to a steak house and ordering seafood.  While we are pretty much off red and white meat — but we do keep our options open on seafood.  The resto is running a 2 for $25 special, two appetizers, two salads, two entrees for $25 and we walked away full, full, full.  The calimari appetiser was quite nice.  Our last calamari meal had been a bit too chewy for our tastes; yesterday’s item was much nicer and I think we’ll order calamari again sooner because of it.  The down point of the meal was the entree.  It came with two sides (sweet taters and fresh veggies for us both) but the salmon had been marinated and/or basted with a really strong concoction of salt & garlic which completely overcame the taste of the fish — rather like eating salmon-textured-soy-sauce.  Ok, but not great.  And for a guy like me who has a hard time digesting garlic I got to enjoy that meal repeatedly all afternoon.

The positive side of the meal was our waitress who literally made the day — I love enthusiastic people who know how to do their job well.

Ok — that’s it for me for today.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Learn in Your Feet

My momma always said:

What you don’t learn in your head, you learn in your feet.

And momma was right.

Today we made another trip to IKEA in Schaumberg (IL).  It was an overcast day and cold so it was a nice enough day to just take a drive.  But we might have avoided the drive had someone not wanted to save money and not buy seat covers for the two new Tullsta chairs we bought 6 weeks ago.

Not wanting to waste the trip we also got a few other things — a couple for the house ( a reading lamp) and a couple more silicone hot pads — and a couple for Journey  (a pressure cooker that is induction hob friendly and a couple colored plastic cutting surfaces – to prevent cross contamination in Journey).  The house items we an put into storage when we once again go mobile.  And the pressure cooker was a fortuitous compromise.  I wanted a larger than 3 qt pot (the largest we had in Journey). The pressure cooker was the same price as a 3.5 qt stainless pot  and it’s 1.5 qt larger with pressure cooking capacity;  good deal to my way of thinking.  Always nice to have a pressure cooker for beans and slow cook meats and stews, etc.

Other than that, it was a pretty quiet day.

But quiet does not mean satisfying.  This living between the devil and the deep blue sea is maddening.  Three things that we were talking about today related to items we may or may not have put into storage.  The maddening thing is that half the time we can’t remember of we saved items and did put them into storage or if we downsized and got rid of them and they are no longer ours.  Little things, like another appliance timer (light timer). Before we had our downsizing sale I had 5 timers…. I liked to use them when we went away on a trip.  Certainly they aren’t burlgar proofers — but they do cause enough of a question mark that random thieves will not bother with your property and they can be convenient to have around.  We need another night light.  We had several of those too, but what we call the “T” room is impossibly dark at night and we have always had a nightlight burning.  When we returned to Cudahy we discovered that one of the ones we had finally gave up the ghost.  In Journey we don’t need night lights, but I thought that I had a couple of the appliance timers laying around.  But… what I think and what I can “prove” is sometime very different.  It seems that almost daily we come across something that we want or wonder where it is.

At some point in time the house will be sold and all this will be but a memory.  For now… it’s a petty annoyance.

And such was our day.