Rest in peace my darling Fritz

I am grieving today and for me, the best way to deal with it is to get support.  Already so many friends and family have commented on my facebook posts.  What I’d like to do here is to post a gallery of photos of my darling cat who passed away overnight last night.

We adopted Fritz about a week or so after our last cat Clyde passed away from cancer in early 2010.  Fritz was a rambunctious little boy, always playful, cuddly and lovable.  He was a great hunter and would spend entire nights outside from spring through fall.  He almost always came back.  Once he was gone for 48 hours worrying all of us!!  But he returned and looked a bit disheveled and we believe he got in a tussle with a fox that had been seen roaming the neighborhood.  In fact, my neighbor saw the fox chase poor little Fritz up a tree! But Fritz got away from the fox! I always assumed that Fritz would meet his end out there in the “hunting grounds”.  Indeed, just this year he was treated for not one, but two abscesses!  Instead he met his end in a bizarre fashion, something I will never forget.

I woke up around 3:00 a.m. because of the rain and immediately went to get Fritz inside.  But hubby had already let him in and I found him under the dining room table.  He wasn’t able to move his back legs at all and was yelling out in pain!  Horrified I found the number to the University of Minnesota’s 24/7 vet clinic and we went right then, about 3:30 this morning. The vet on duty couldn’t have been more compassionate and helpful but she had no good news for us.  She asked if he had a heart murmur and we had been told that in the past but it wasn’t always heard and no other vet seemed alarmed by it.  She told us that he very likely had a condition called Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and this likely caused a blood clot to lodge at the base of his spine paralyzing his back end. She told us the prognosis was not good and told us our options, none of them good ones.  While we were there Fritz continued to go downhill so we did the humane thing and put him down.  The jury’s still out on whether it’s easier when pets go quickly or when you try to treat them and they die within a year.  It’s all hard no matter how you slice it.

I’m thankful for many things today.  The wonderful and compassionate vet that helped us through a difficult night.  That the U of MN has a 24 hour clinic.  That this didn’t happen to him while he was out on a hunting mission which means we may not have found him.  That it didn’t happen while we were in Spain earlier this year or at the cabin this summer.  Most of all I am thankful for the 6 plus years we had with our darling Fritz.  Rest in peace my dear boy.  You are out of pain now.

 

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Summer blooms in Minnesota

I have neglected my poor little blog :(  Summer is just too busy for me.  But I decided to put together a quick post of some of my favorite summer bloom photos.  I’ll be back soon with at least one more post from my trip to Spain this past March.  Stay tuned and I hope you enjoy these photos! First some from my walks around campus last month:

A handful from my garden:

One last gallery of photos I took yesterday at the Trial Garden on campus.  There is more to learn about this garden for sure.  But check out these beautiful things blooming now on campus:

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Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Garden Tour

What a fantastic way to spend a summer morning!  I have wanted to do a garden tour for forever and I finally made it happen.  I went with my long time friend Ruth and we had such a good time!  This is the Arboretum’s 32nd annual garden tour and they do a great job.  There are several times and dates to choose from for several days mid-July and we chose the first one on Sunday last week.  You get on an air-conditioned luxury liner bus (complete with toilet in the back) and are driven to four gardens in the western suburbs.  You get about 20-25 minutes in each garden and the owners and/or volunteers are there to answer questions.  Then the bus captain rings the bell, we get on the bus to the next location and so on.

We saw the most amazing gardens!!  So many different landscapes, some used ponds and waterfalls and others used wash tubs and bathtubs to enhance their gardens.  Why I didn’t get a photo of the bathtub I am not sure but there was just so much going on in these gardens that it was hard to capture everything! I think I saw the tub then something else caught my attention and I turned away and forgot the tub.

The first garden contained over 100 varieties of hosta.  Hosta grows great in the shade and this garden was all shade.  This was the only garden that had labels on most plants.  Come and take a look.  Click on any photo in the gallery to see a larger image and to scroll through the gallery:

Our next stop was to a house and garden on an 8 acre pond and it boasts many native plants and flowers. Have a look:

The third garden was on a large property and just how large was not in the notes given to us.  But the driveway alone felt like several blocks long!  I think I’d put this one in second place of my favorite gardens.  Many beautiful plants and gorgeous colors.

The fourth garden was my favorite.  It was a backyard full of many plants and flowers, some I had seen before but there were so many more that I hadn’t ever seen.  It also had an interesting “fountain” (is that what you would call it?) carrying water on what appeared to be bamboo tree trunks?  And the water went into a pond. I didn’t get a chance to ask anyone about it as the bell rang and we had to get back on the bus.  Such a curious thing!

After the tour we headed back to the Arboretum for brunch.  It was held on the patio behind the Oswald Visitor Center.  And what a lovely setting that was!!  Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of any of it.  My hands were full with my plate of food, a water bottle and my jacket.  And the chair I sat in was up next to a chair from the next table and it was just difficult enough that I didn’t want to bother to get up to take photos.  There were beautiful floral arrangements on every table, including the buffet table.  They served a frittatta that apparently wasn’t very popular.  I thought it was okay but I likely wouldn’t want to have it again. It was accompanied by a cubed potato mixture, both white and sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and dip and a couple of unusual appetizers: sliced apples with “stuff” on them and lengthwise cut cucumber slices with a spicy chutney-type topping. They offered mimosas, plain orange juice, water and coffee.  There was another table with fruit and sweets.

The cost of this tour is a bit “spendy” (that’s Minnesotan for expensive) but both Ruth and I thought it was worth it and I’m hoping we go again next year.  There were other tours that we looked at but this was the only one where we got taken to the gardens.  We could also tour the Arboretum’s gardens but after 3 hours of garden tours in the morning I was too tired to do much else.  I highly recommend this tour, especially if you’re a gardener but even if you’re not.  It’s a great way to spend a summer morning.  You can find more information here:

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

On our way home we passed Paisley Park.  I knew Prince’s complex was nearby and it was easy to spot.  It’s on the same highway as the Arboretum.  There are still many items on the fence in tribute to Prince and I saw several people there too.  People are still mourning our native, much-loved genius musician.  He apparently visited the Arb frequently.  I would too if I lived only three miles away!

Because this is part of the University of Minnesota I am able to get a discounted membership.  I get a few benefits including free admission to the Arboretum.  Since we didn’t tour the gardens that day we’ve decided to go back in a few weeks and I can’t wait!! Be on the lookout for that blog post :)

Do you have a favorite of the photos here? I absolutely love the wild salvia.  The most brilliant shade of purple I’ve ever seen!  Runner up is the close-up of the pink mystery plant.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Look Up

I haven’t entered the challenge for a while. Summertime is just not conducive for blogging, especially here in the frozen tundra.  But I’m up early and I’m home this weekend and I have several photos to enter for this one! Click on the link to view other entries or to enter yourself and enjoy!!

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We love Barcelona!

The 4th of July holiday weekend has past and I have no more excuses for not creating another post from our trip to Spain this past March.  This time it’s all about Barcelona, a magical, beautiful city.

We had such fun in Barcelona.  We felt welcomed from the moment we arrived at the train station with a “Welcome to Barcelona!!” from a gentleman who heard us speaking English. And we chatted with him on the way to our respective taxis.  The taxi driver was jovial and talkative which had not been the norm this trip so that was nice too.  There were other friendly people as well.  The gal who heard us speaking English and commented about the view atop Las Arenas and the Bolivian waitress at our breakfast spot near our hotel(that had great tortilla española). She knew we were foreign and after asking where we were from commented on how well I spoke Spanish.  I loved her!! We had a couple of unpleasant experiences too but overall we thought the people were wonderful.  Fun waiters, one in particular suggested his favorite from that menu and it was great!  Fried potatoes with an over easy egg. Yum, yum!!

We went to the Picasso Museum, Palau de la Múscia Catalana and Sagrada Familia. I created separate posts for the Palau and Sagrada Familia so do check those out for more wonderful photos.  We ate fabulous food and generally had a great time in this amazing city.  The weather wasn’t the greatest but we didn’t let it deter us too much.  One night it was raining so we took advantage of our hotel’s “social hour”, from 5 to 7 p.m. They offered various teas, coffee and sweets to their guests.  There were a few places to sit near the treat table and we chose the one with the backgammon set and proceeded to teach Miss M backgammon.  She then proceeded to beat us both!  Beginner’s luck?  Definitely a different way to spend a couple of hours on vacation.

This post will be photo heavy with a few stories.  So with that I’ll start off with photos from our first day.  We got to Barcelona around noon and after checking into our hotel we headed off to Las Arenas, the bullring turned shopping mall.  Bullfighting has been banned in Barcelona so what a wonderful use for this structure.  We learned that there are fabulous views from atop Las Arenas so of course we headed up there. We shopped a little then had dinner at Pura Brasa which was excellent!

Next some photos in and around the Picasso Museum.  If you’re a Picasso fan then you must go to this museum! It’s the largest collection of his earlier works than anywhere else I believe.  It is fascinating to see his style from his early years.  This museum also houses the Las Meninas paintings.  I especially liked those as Las Meninas by Velazquez was a painting I studied at the Prado when I was a student in Madrid. The structure the artworks are in is also a museum.  It’s three old palaces combined to create a space for Picasso’s art. Very cool place!   This was our second visit and I’m certain we’ll go again.  One of my favorite museums, hands down. And this visit was completely different than our first.  In 2010 we happened to get there during the free hours which are typically very crowded.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes and chatted with some people from New Jersey also in line. And it was hard to see many paintings as it was just so crowded.  This time we got tickets ahead of time and arrived when it opened.  There were many times we had rooms completely to ourselves!  Pure bliss.  I definitely recommend getting tickets in advance.

Similar to my Sagrada Familia remake with Miss M and me, here are Miss M and hubby at the exact same spot in the courtyard of the Picasso Museum, 2010 and 2016:

We again visited the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar and gazed in awe of that amazing structure.  And oh, the stained glass!!  Check it out:

The remaining photos are from various days, more street scenes, some urban art, the Obama Gastropub? Yes, this pub caught my eye as we were looking for Casa Battlo.  Interesting name no?

I do have one amusing story to tell about the sandals I purchased on our last day in Barcelona.

I really wanted to buy a leather purse and/or leather sandals that were made in Spain.  I looked every chance I got and I finally found the sandals I was looking for on our last day of the trip in Barcelona.  Except that they weren’t made in Spain!  I had asked the clerk if they were made in Spain while I pointed to them in the display and she answered yes.  What made me wonder was that I could see the Italian words for “real leather” on the display sandal.  I told her my size and she had to go out of the store to get them.  I guess there is limited storage in that store? I tried them on and they were perfect!!  Cute and very comfy. She even commented (in Spanish) “they’re comfortable aren’t they?” and I agreed and then purchased them.  When I got back to the hotel and took them out of the bag I saw “made in Albania” on the box.  Made in Albania?!?!?!? That woman lied to me!!! I was so annoyed but later I thought it’s probably a good thing she did that because I’m not so sure I would have tried them on otherwise.  In the end I got the sandals I was looking for and I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve forgiven the clerk too.  I think she knew that I would love those shoes.

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this weekend’s sunset at the lake

We were fortunate enough to spend another fabulous weekend up north.  The weather was perfect and we were rewarded with yet another opportunity to photograph the sunset.  I can’t decide which I like best so I’m posting a bunch of them.  Enjoy and happy independence day!!

First, one of hubby’s silhouette before the sun set, then the sunsets:

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Córdoba, España

Back to more posts about Spain!!  This one is about our day trip to Córdoba from Málaga, one of only a few nice weather days that we had on our trip.  It started out chilly but warmed nicely by midday.  We had tickets for a table for this train ride which was something new. When searching for these tickets, it was cheaper to buy four seats at a table than three regular seats.

It’s only about an hour train ride but it travels through very scenic countryside and pretty soon you’re in Córdoba.  Such a cute and very walkable little town with ancient buildings including the big draw, La Mezquita (the mosque).  We opted to take a taxi instead of walking to the Mezquita and the driver dropped us at the front door.  The moment you walk into the mosque you can smell how old it is.  What lies in front of you are row upon row of white and red arches, 856 of them! This humongous building has been through many transformations, starting out as a church, then it became a mosque and in the 16th century King Carlos V had a cathedral built in the middle of the mosque!  It is the strangest building I’ve even seen. The king himself did not like the way the cathedral turned out and famously said “they have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city”.  I hope you will enjoy this gallery of the inside of the mezquita/catedral:

Afterwards we strolled along the streets near the Mezquita to view one of three remaining Jewish synagogues in Spain, the other two are in Toledo.  It is so tiny that it’s hard to imagine people worshipped in there.  We made our way to Plaza de las Tendillas where we had lunch and visited some shops.  We wandered around some more and soon it was time to catch our train back to Málaga.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from the trip, taken from the train on our way back to Málaga:

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