Tag Archives: writing

Rest in peace my brother

I’ve had a heck of a year!!  Two weeks after my adorable cat Fritz died I headed west to attend the wedding of my brother with his long-time companion (22 years!).  It was a fabulous weekend, the weather was perfect and everyone was so happy.  Then tragically my brother passed away on October 14th.  He learned that he had pancreatic cancer in March. He had surgery to remove the tumor and then he was supposed to start chemo. That kept getting postponed as he had one setback after another.  He was to start again the day after we all left northern California, 9/6.  I believe he had a mini-stroke and just went downhill after that.  My sister and I attended his memorial service the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We both talked about our brother and then asked if anyone else wanted to say a few words.  Our cousin from Chicago spoke about his early years with our brother. They were five months apart and spent their first eleven years together. Then Aunt Lilah, my father’s sister, told a few tales about him too.  It was a nice weekend and there were close to 70 people at his memorial and that was nice to see.

Below is what I spoke about my brother.  And below that are a few photos.

I’m Joel’s younger sister and we’re 13 years apart so we didn’t really know each other that well but he was always there for me and I can’t believe that he’s gone. I had a difficult time when David Bowie died, one, because it was such a shock and two, because, well, there was always David Bowie!! As far back as I can remember, there was always David Bowie so it really hurt to learn that Bowie was gone. And before Bowie, there was always my brother and now they’re both gone. They were the same age too. But I want to focus on the fact that Joel was always there for me, beginning with our father’s death when I was 11. I have a vivid memory of us at the funeral and Joel put his arm around me to comfort me. Then when our father’s dog needed to be put down I called my brother because that dog was the last tangible thing that I had of my father. And I just couldn’t bear to do that task so Joel did that for me. He was there when I bought my first car and he was there for my high school and college graduations. He was there at the airport when I left for a year of study in Spain. I’m not sure if he knew how much I appreciated him always being there but I did tell him how much I loved that he gave me away at my wedding. He was the perfect choice. And because of our age difference you can hear someone on my wedding video saying “that must be Mr. Nadler”. Well, they were right but I think they thought he was my father.

I’m still not quite over David Bowie’s death and I know it will take me a while to process that my brother is no longer here. But he lived a good life and got married to the love of his life just over two months ago. I was so happy and grateful to be able to attend the wedding to see him one last time. I know that he died happy and he was so loved. And really, that’s all any of us can hope for. Well done my dear brother. I love you and I miss you. Rest in peace.

While in northern California for my brother’s wedding we visited a vineyard. Look for a future post about that. Here’s a sneak preview and one from his wedding in September:

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My 4th blogoversary!!

And I’m still here!  Thank you to all my wonderful followers and all the “likes” over the years. I appreciate it very much.  Similar to past years’ posts about my blogoversary, below are some of my favorite posts as well as the most popular posts as defined by the number of likes they received. Similar to last year’s post I’m going to link the favorite and popular posts and end with a gallery of favorite photos from those posts. I hope you all enjoy. Here’s to another year of blogging!

First off, some popular posts for the weekly photo challenge.  This challenge was entitled Orange and as you can see, I have many orange photos.  One of my own personal favorites Early Bird which contains some favorite sunrise photos.  And this one was by far the most popular in terms of likes.  Again, thank you my lovely followers and photo lovers.  Entitled Intricate, it’s mostly made up of photos from Spain where there is an abundance of intricate tile work and architecture.  One last weekly photo challenge post, this theme was called Muse where I focused on flowers and sunsets.

Next, some of you know that last March together with my sister and my daughter, we packed up my mother’s apartment and moved her to Virginia to live with my sister.  I enjoyed putting together Memories from my mother’s life, a photographic tour of many of the photos we found while packing.  A companion to this one was Duets with my sister.  Whenever the two of us get together we always play duets and our mother really enjoys this so we found time amidst all the packing, sorting and tossing to play duets.  One last post from that trip is a restaurant review of The Cheesecake Factory in Pembroke Pines where my mother lived.  My daughter had never been there before and we enjoyed it so much that we went back for our final dinner while in Florida.

A few posts from last summer include one I did on summer gardening.  I also found time to visit the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory while the water lilies were in bloom.  I need to make sure and see those every year, they are so beautiful!!  And then our annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair that I posted at the end of summer. A must for this family!

Last fall I took care of my mother so that my sister and her husband could take a week’s vacation to celebrate their 25th anniversary.  I was able to take a trip to our nation’s capital and enjoyed visiting the National Gallery of Art.  I also met a blogger friend there and we had a marvelous time both at the museum as well as a fabulous lunch at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana afterwards. It was a quick trip but well worth it!

Three last posts that I’d like to share, the first is our annual trip to the conservatory during the winter. It’s such a nice escape from winter, truly a breath of fresh air that leaves us feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the rest of winter.  In May I went to Art-a-Whirl, where local artists let the public into their studios.  It was so interesting and fun that I’m going back again this year!  So, stay tuned for another Art-a-Whirl post this May.

To close I’m sharing a post from last weekend’s visit to our fantastic conservatory, this time for the annual orchid show.  Such gorgeous flowers!  And I hope you’ll enjoy it again if you’ve already seen it.  And if you missed it, well, here’s your chance to see it.  I had fun putting it together.

As promised, here’s a gallery of some of my favorite photos from last year.  Enjoy!!

 

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duets with my sister

How could I have forgotten the duets!?! In a recent post shortly after my trip to Florida, I wanted to share some of the positive things about our trip and I can’t believe I forgot the duets!  But, it’s prompted me to create a separate post because as I started to think about it, we have tons of music in my family.  The duets are a part of that.

I play the flute and piccolo. My sister’s first instrument was the clarinet and she’s still really, really good!! She is one with the talent and energy to be able to play many instruments. I don’t think I can remember all the instruments she knows how to play!  One of them is flute and for years whenever we get together, we play duets. Mostly we play flute and flute duets because usually when we get together it’s away from each of our homes and it’s easier to carry a flute than a clarinet. We have played flute/clarinet duets too but it’s been a while since we’ve done that. And, in the last several years on our semiannual trips to Florida to visit our mother, we played flute and flute duets.

Then I remembered some photos of us playing flute duets.

We have several musicians in our family.  Mom played trombone in high school. Her brother played guitar and mandolin and perhaps banjo as well.  My sister plays or has played clarinet, oboe, saxophone, flute and piano. These are the ones I can remember.  There might be more!  While I play the flute fairly well, she is the real musician.  You’ve got to be talented to play so many instruments!

To continue with the list of musicians, my husband plays bass guitar and he gave our daughter initial lessons on the bass and she picked it up quickly. She plays bass guitar in jazz band at school and she plays the viola as well.  My mother has a beautiful soprano voice and spent many of her retirement years in singing groups.  At one point she was the director of one of them at her retirement village.  While we were in Florida in March to close up her apartment we came across the pile of song lyrics that we set aside when we were there in November.  I had told Miss M about how when we gave Mom the folder of lyrics she began singing the songs.  Miss M really wanted to hear her grandmother sing so we gave Mom the folder and that was our entertainment that night! She sang song after song after song.  And Miss M recorded them.  More happy memories from that trip.

I also sing soprano but some of the upper range notes are too hard for me. I have said that I probably should be an alto. But because the flute parts are typically the melody, it’s difficult for me to sing anything but the melody. So, I stick with soprano for now. I might get brave some day and sing alto. I have sung in various choirs over the years and have enjoyed each one. I’ve always found that music helps bring me out of a bad mood or a funk.  Playing an instrument or singing in a choir is great fun and another way to release creative energy.  It also helps alleviate the blues.  It’s hard to be in a bad mood whilst playing or singing.

I’m going to close with one of my favorite photos of my sister and me playing duets. This was at a Christmas gathering in 1986. Look how young we are!

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memories from my mother’s life

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I just came back from closing up my mother’s apartment in Florida and moving her to Virginia to live with my sister.  I thought I’d create a post to collect some of the fond memories of that trip.

Memories of watching Fiddler on the Roof:  My mom is not able to sit still for very long. She sits in the lazyboy for 20-30 minutes then goes to lie down for the same amount of time.  Then 20-30 minutes later it’s back to the chair in the den. So the first night of playing this VHS (that we found in one of her drawers in the den;we watched it in two evenings) when she sat for nearly two hours, we knew she was enjoying it.  It’s one of her favorite movies and also one of mine and we both sang all the words to every song.  I even heard her humming a song from the movie in the middle of the night.  It was so nice to watch one of my favorite movies with my favorite mom, my favorite sister and my favorite girl.  It’s a memory I’m going to cherish my whole life.

Memories of all those photos!  Something else I apparently inherited is collecting photos.  I have many electronic versions of my photos. But mom grew up before the electronic era and has many, many photos,  which ended up being a positive experience in that we were all able to take a trip down memory lane through these photos. There were photos I had never seen before, like the two very fragile and ancient photos of my mother’s grandparents! I believe these are my maternal grandmother’s parents. There were many photos of the early years of her marriage to my father and many photos of the cute little boy who is my brother. I shared so many of these photos with my facebook friends and relatives. I even surprised my cousin with a photo of her mother that she had never seen. Yes indeed, a very fond memory of this trip is viewing my mother’s life from so many different perspectives through her photos.  Here are some that I took photos of:

Memories of her last lunch bunch lunch:  We were privileged to attend Mom’s last lunch bunch gathering that she has been going to for many years. These were women she sang with, also the same women who won the lottery together.  Yes, it does happen!  They have met once a month for many years and pooled their money to play the lottery using the same numbers every week. In 2010 those numbers paid off! We planned our trip around this lunch so that we could go to the last one.  They order their food ahead so their meals arrive early then they sing “Heart of my heart” at the end. This time they started with “Auld Lang Syne” to Mom and many tears were shed. Then one of them said “let’s sing something happy now!” Here they are singing “Heart of my heart”:

Memories of hamburger and pimple: There are two words that every time my mother says them, it makes me laugh. So we had a bit of that again this trip. She says the word, I giggle, then she giggles. Happiness making.

Memories of “Nina, the elevator’s here!”:  In the mid 70s Mom took my sister and me to Hawaii for vacation. I don’t remember much about the trip but one of our favorite memories is this moment in time where Mom and I are waiting at the elevator at the hotel to go somewhere and Nina is nowhere to be found.  So we called down the hall “Nina, the elevator is here!” to try and hurry her along.  Mom still remembers that and I usually say it at some point when we’re all together, usually when we’re waiting on Nina for something.  It gets a big laugh every time.

Memories of my sister, the comforter:   We all have our many roles in life. One of my sister’s is that of comforter. One of mine is crying at the drop of a hat. As you can imagine, there were many emotional moments during this trip. The day Salvation Army came to take our donations of furniture and many boxes of household items, I went in a corner and started to cry. My daughter and my sister came to comfort me. It’s only fitting then that my sister becomes the caregiver and comforter of our mother for this next chapter in her life. I can’t express enough how grateful I am that my sister is able to do this.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Cheesecake Factory – Pembroke Pines, Florida

I just spent 10 days in Florida packing up my mother’s apartment with my sister and daughter.  Mom is nearly 92 and can no longer be on her own.  She is now living with my sister which gives me much comfort knowing she is no longer alone.  We had a most awesome team, my sister, my daughter, Mom’s aide and me.  We decided to keep Mom’s daytime aide so that we could concentrate on the sorting, tossing and packing and I’m so glad we did!  I am quite sure we would not have made the deadline if we hadn’t.  Merline was such a great help and we are all so thankful for the nearly three years of care she gave to Mom.  She was there the last day too and said “Well Goldie, do you have anything to say to me?” Mom said no.  “What?? You mean after almost three years you have nothing to say to me?” Then Mom said “I love you!!” So darn sweet.  We were truly blessed hiring Comfort Keepers and Merline.  I would not hesitate to hire them in the future.  We had such a good experience.

After I took Mom and my sister to the airport, my daughter and I had a few more things to take care of before we headed back home. I am writing this on our final night here in southern Florida from our hotel room.  And by the time you read this I will be on  my way home, finally.  We donated many  things to Salvation Army and the rest was picked up this morning by Hands on Property Services.  And I was so impressed with them.  I was given a quote over the phone and he ended up taking much more than what I told him I would have and he was going to charge me the same amount!  So I said “are you sure?” and then he added only $25 more!  Wow.  So if you’re in southern Florida and need junk removed, don’t hesitate to contact this company.  They were on time and just plain awesome.

So back to the restaurant review that is the title of this post.  My daughter and I decided to dine at the Cheesecake Factory in Pembroke Pines last night.  We had such a good meal that we decided to go back tonight!  Last night we both chose pasta dishes.  Miss M had the Four Cheese Pasta: Penne Pasta, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Romano and Parmesan Cheeses, Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil.  And I had the Garlic Noodles with shrimp:  Spaghettini, Fresh Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesan in a Delicious Garlic Sauce.  I did not get photos of our meals but they were both fabulous!!  And there’s always room for dessert right? Heh, almost.  A friend had recommended the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake and said it was to die for so that’s what I had.  He was SO right!!  Miss M had the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, also very yummy!  But we could not finish them and took them back to the hotel with plastic forks.  We attempted to finish them later last night, however, they were just too rich!! So our desserts were finished in three sittings, the last one earlier today.

Tonight’s meal was equally delicious!!  Miss M had their Margherita Pizza: Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Sauce.  And I had the Grilled Steak Medallions from their Skinnylicious menu:  Certified Angus Beef® Served with Fresh Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Crushed Croutons, Mashed Potatoes and Madeira Wine Sauce.  Outstanding!!  I’m so impressed with the great selection, excellent food and service.  This time I got photos of our meals.  We chose to dine on the patio and had the perfect spot just outside the door where waiters were coming and going so every so often we felt a nice, cool wave of air mixed with the breeze of a warm, southern Florida evening.  It was perfect!

We were truly blessed and managed to get just about everything done by the deadlines.  We had one snag today with turning off the water. I didn’t realize that I had to do it in the apartment so Miss M and I went back to do that this afternoon however it was not to be.  For some reason, today the deadbolt would not budge.  We used it the entire time we were there.  Two nice gentlemen tried to help by spraying WD40 in the lock and then using a tool to try to pry the deadbolt out of the door jamb, to no avail.  One of them said he thought the pin broke.  The management company is going to get in there on Monday to turn off the water for us.  Thank goodness because I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep tonight.  Other than this last snag, everything went fairly well.  We had awesome people along the way, from the lovely folks at the UPS store to the funny guy at the U-Haul place, the awesome Salvation Army team who took many things that we donated and finally the great company that hauled away the damaged furniture that Salvation Army didn’t take.  And Mom is safe and happy in Virginia with my sister and her family.  Finally, I’d like to share a photo of Mom and Merline, her aide of nearly three years.  This was her last day in Florida.

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my bat story

If you enjoyed my mice adventure, surely you’ll enjoy this story.  I was thinking about how many more things I would need go through to complete my Minnesota adventure.  It seems we’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to “things that could happen to you in Minnesota”. We’ve had several flooded basements, ice dams and the ensuing leaky ceiling, a mice infestation that I hope is finally over and then there’s the story of the bats.  The bats lived in the house from hell.

Our first year in Minnesota was spent at a rental house in one of the nicest neighborhoods in St. Paul.  But it was definitely not one of the nicest houses. The weekend we were moving in the kitchen ceiling fell down. Luckily our cats, Bert and Ernie, were not in there at the time.  Next, our landlord hired the cheapest roofers on the planet and they forgot to put tarps on the roof a Friday before a torrential downpour.  I had every pot and bowl I owned making a line from the dining room on into the living room then turning right to go into the spare bedroom collecting water from that downpour.  Oh yes, fun times. And did I mention the broken elbow in the back of that house? Okay, that was me being in too much of a hurry and had nothing to do with that house. But it did happen at that house.  I learned a huge lesson that winter.  Baby steps is my mantra all winter now.

Towards the end of our year there I was asleep on the couch late at night when I heard the cats making noise.  When I turned on the light they were both sitting, looking up at the bat that was hanging from my ceiling.  Oh boy, how do we get it out of the house?? I woke the husband and he managed to shoo it out the back door with a broom.  I hid in the bathroom :)

Prior to seeing this bat I was hearing noises in the walls, which I now know were the bats.  Curiously, the husband thought I was hearing things…..UNTIL he saw Ernie staring at the wall listening to the bats.  So funny that man.

Here’s a short update on the mice situation.  The last mouse to leave the house was Tuesday and we are now to Friday. I have not yet looked at the traps but I suspect and hope, hope, hope they continue to be empty!!

Happy Friday everyone!!

Here are Bert and Ernie as kittens, a photo I took home from my mother’s house. It’s a photo of a photo as scan was not working:

And just for fun, for the Fritz fans “please, can I have some of your dinner?”:

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of mice and modern living

Anyone out there struggled with a mice infestation?  I have gotten quite the education in pest control and removal, let me tell you!  Read on as I share my experience.

Just over a month ago my daughter and I were at the kitchen sink when she saw, and I felt, a mouse crawl over my foot.  What? A mouse in the house?  14 years we’ve been here and we’ve never seen a mouse in the house.  Oh but we were about to learn all about these rodents.

A few days after the first mouse sighting, I heard noises in the kitchen and when I went to investigate I found Eddie, our older cat, lying in the middle of the floor staring at the oven.  And then I heard the scratching noises coming from the oven that he was hearing. Several days later we turned on our oven to make dinner and this putrid smell came out of it!!  I thought it was the mouse my daughter had seen and was now dead somewhere in the oven.  We looked inside, no mouse. We pulled the range away from the wall and found our first mouse droppings.  Now what?  We elected to not take off the many screws on the back of the oven to peer inside there.

About 2 or 3 days later I found more mouse droppings, this time all over the counter and some on the stove.  Oh boy, time to get traps!  We struggled a little bit about how to rid ourselves of these lovely creatures from our indoor existence. We could get live traps and release them outside. That seemed the more humane approach and if I had more time I might have seriously considered that route. Well, that and the fact that our local hardware store did not sell any live traps.  So, onward with catching the mice.  It was time to be rid of the rodents.

I had read that peanut butter in a trap was the best way to catch mice. And sure enough that was our experience with all but one mouse. Or so I think it’s just one.  I’ll get back to that in a moment and that story is not quite over yet.  We had three traps, one of which would not stay open. Then we were down to two traps a night, catching 6 in the next several days.  One Friday morning a few weeks ago was the last mouse we caught, or so we thought.

We were going to turn on the oven one week after the last mouse sighting.  Then decided against it as my husband looked at me and said “do you really want to use that oven again?” What apparently happened was that the mice got into the oven’s surroundings and made a mess of the insulation causing the oven to stink when it was on.  Buy a new oven we did!  It looks very nice but we’ve not yet turned it on.  The day after it was delivered there were fresh droppings on the stove.  YUCK!! We obviously weren’t quite done with the mice.

I had read that peppermint oil is a deterrent so I found a small bottle of 100% pure peppermint oil (it has to be 100% and not an extract)  I then doused many cotton balls with the oil and placed them strategically around the shiny new oven.  Long story short, there was still at least one more mouse left in the house.  I found more droppings behind the new oven. We had sealed a bunch of holes with steel wool and thought all the ways they could get into the house were patched.  Guess again!

Finally we called the pest control experts.  Loved the technician that came.  He had much knowledge and we hired him to seal any other holes that we missed(apparently there were many!!) and to set more traps in the house.  As of yesterday one mouse was captured, hooray!!!  I also cleaned up all the mouse droppings that I had found in the last several days.  My thinking is that if this is the last mouse there should be no more droppings.  It felt great vacuuming up all that crap and I’m hoping that’s the last time I have to do that.

What I learned is that this has been the worst year for mice infestations, the worst our tech has seen in 7 years.  It seemed so odd to us that we’ve been in this house nearly 14  years and have never had this problem so at least there’s an explanation.  Our tech also recommended foaming up the area where the front stoop meets the house.  When this first began I suspected they had gotten in over there so I shoved a bunch of steel wool in that corner.  He also said we had holes by two windows in the basement as well as the where the A/C lines come into the house.  The mice then crawl up the walls and in our case they ended up in the kitchen for the most part.  I did find droppings behind the couch as well as near the cat box but we caught most of the mice in the kitchen.

Mr. Tech Extraordinaire will return for a follow-up on Tuesday next.  And we made reservations at a restaurant for Thanksgiving as I don’t want to turn my oven on until about two weeks after the last mouse is caught. I’m actually looking forward to a year off from cooking and cleaning. I may even do a blog post about that experience.  We might even make a Thanksgiving meal in early December, we shall see :)

Happy Sunday!

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