Thursday, July 31, 2014

Berry Picking with Donna

We were invited to pick wild black caps and raspberries on property owned by our neighbor’s dad, not too far from where we live.   Our friend, Donna arrived to pick us up in the Rhino ATV and away we went.  We picked berries on two separate days and managed to keep the mosquitos at bay with bug dope and clothing that kept us protected from quite a few of the thorns that surrounded the delicious fruit.  They were not huge in size so we really needed to pick like crazy to get the berry quantity that we did.  A fun time was had by all, including the 4-legged ones that accompanied us.
(l-r: Jeff getting in there with his bucket; Donna deep in a patch o berries; Kay’s selfie with her “treasures”)
(l-r: Jeff spritzing on the bug dope; Donna happy to have found some blackcaps; all-around having a good time!)
(l-r: Bourbon riding in the front; the Gator that got us there; Baily posing for the camera)
Once we got home on our first day of picking, we flash froze a good portion of the berries and then used Donna’s vacuum sealer machine to prepare some bags for the freezer.
Kay saved enough mixed berries to make a pint of jam which we proceeded to try out on some whole grain toast.  DELICIOUS.
Our stained fingers from all of the picking, and Kay and Donna enjoying some relaxing time on our front porch.  Most of the berries were small – and we made sure to taste a few along the way – and sweet so not too much sugar was used when Kay made her jam.  Our second day of picking with Donna yielded enough berries for 2 more pints of jam plus a few bags for the freezer to enjoy on our breakfast cereal.
We’re not done yet as Day 3 for blackcaps is coming up this Saturday.  We won’t forget the bug spray either!
Keeping it real ~ Kay & Jeff

Monday, July 21, 2014

Northwood's Country

A much needed get away trip in the motorhome was just what we needed – our first mini trip since arriving in Wisconsin on May 7.  After initially getting home we were busy with family commitments.  And in between that, cleaning up the motorhome from our winter traveling and working on our home so that we were able to get it put back on the market for this summer’s rush.  (NOT!  It’s pretty quiet so we hope buyer traffic does pick up once the really nice weather arrives.  I think everyone is having lots of rain and cooler weather.)

For this trip, we had arranged to meet our friends, Janet and Bill, in Black River Falls WI, but Janet who is an RN had to work the weekend so Bill was able to meet us for dinner on that Saturday.  Black River Falls is not too far from where we live – about an hour and a half driving time.  In fact, we put a total of 209 miles round trip on the motorhome on this 3 day trip.  Towing the Jeep helped so that we could bum around the town of Black River Falls which helped in between the rain that we had that weekend.

We made a reservation at Lost Falls Campground which is nestled on 58 acres along the lower Black River.  Because it has been so wet – and it rained almost all day on Saturday – we made the most of it by getting in the Jeep to investigate what the local merchants had to offer.  The Merchant General Store was a “blast from the past” with old time candy, glass bottled soda pops, antiques and more.  We went tubing on Sunday (after a rainy Saturday) and got eaten up by the gnats, but had some bug dope to ward them off.  Don’t think it was water repellent though!

CIMG3524   With all of the trees, everyone was getting bombarded by mosquitos and gnats.  Where’s the bug spray!!!

CIMG3527    Enjoying a Mexican restaurant with our friend, Bill catching up on everything.


The picture above is the road that takes you down to the river that has a very nice sandy beach to the river.  No fish this time around but we still had a good time with our fly rods.  For Kay, practice makes perfect.   The picture on the right is the campground’s namesake – “Lost Falls” which dumps into the Black River.

CIMG3537  CIMG3546

We decided to meander through the countryside on our way back home.  Driving along the bluffs of the Mississippi there were a few S curves that the driver had to keep his eyes on the road.  We have so much fun together on our travels no matter how short they may be.  And to finish it up right, we stopped at the Nelson Creamery to get some of their delicious home made ice cream.  What a treat . . . Praline Pecan!


Until next time . . . keeping it real!

Hugs ~ Kay and Jeff

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Caring for Dorothy

For almost a good month now, we have been involved with caring for Jeff’s 94 year old mother, Dorothy.


A little background on her is that she owns a condo in a 55+ co-op building (in Golden Valley, a suburb of Minneapolis) and has been there for the last 9 years since Jeff’s dad, Ed passed away 8 years ago on May 21.  Her overall health is good, but Dorothy lacks the strength in her legs for long periods of walking, not to mention the ill-fated hearing aids that never work properly, and her much needed drinking of water.   Need we say more?  Currently, when we return home in the Spring, Jeff makes sure that he is available to take his mother to her appointments, driving the 90 miles to her home from ours in western Wisconsin.  When we are away during the winter, his brother, Brian and his wife Jan (who is Kay’s sister and both are still working) take care of her needs when we are traveling. 

The saga started on June 13, when we drove to Minneapolis to see Dorothy.  As we always do when we are there, we remind Dorothy to have her grocery list ready so that we can do a food run for her and then help with any odd jobs that she needs done in her condo.  We always have a very nice lunch (either food we bring or her treat…..”Thanks, Ma!”)  before we start the trek through what seems like rush hour back to our home.  On this particular day we did have a second stop in Stillwater MN - a high school graduation party for a daughter of a good friend of Kay’s.   After getting on what we call the “slab” with all of the other crazy drivers around rush hour, we received a call from the coordinator of Dorothy’s senior building telling us that she had taken a fall in her bathroom and had a gash on her head.  So, at the first opportunity that Jeff could turn our vehicle around and head back we were headed back to Dorothy’s.  (Note: A similar fall in March where Brian and Jan had her recuperating at their home for three weeks.)

Fast forward to June 18 when Dorothy’s problems became more than she alone could handle, and therefore the reason why we could bring her to our home in Wisconsin to convalesce.  Again, the plan of attack is for her to get stronger by walking and drinking plenty of water.  It sounds pretty easy for us but has been quite the challenge for Dorothy, but she is making it slowly while she is with us.  Her love of the outdoors – to sit outside and enjoy the birds and flowers has been great medicine for the soul.  And right now, some of our prettiest flowers are in bloom.


As an added attraction for all of us this year we were able to observe a wren family (see above photo from June 25) before they took flight from the bird house in our back yard, and now to a “new” couple that have started to build a nest in the bird house on the front landing to the main entrance of our house – see below pictures.


So as the days went buy, Dorothy got stronger.  She enjoyed her reading while she was here with her lap mate, Chuck.


. . . and made sure that her pill supply was adequate.


Preparations for her return to her home came on July 10.  Kay got all of her belongings packed up for the trip to Golden Valley.  We also had arranged to meet with a retired RN who would be available to assist Dorothy when needed.  After getting her settled in, we did a spot check on her refrigerator discarding any old items and taking inventory on what we needed to pick up for her.  A trip to the grocery store and the traditional foods for a nice lunch before we headed home was had by all.   You could see that Dorothy was tired but home in her surroundings close to her plants and friends.  It was good for her and both of her sons to know that she was on the mend. 

As an added surprise when we got home, and one that we know that Dorothy will be excited about, is that another new wren family is working on the new house that we set out.  The neighborhood is going to the wrens!!


Hugs to all ~ Kay and Jeff