Monday, April 14, 2014

On This Date in 1999 (April 15)

This letter will be the last that I send to you in Arizona. JoAnna says that you’ll be back in Two Rivers by the end of the month. Back to reality!

We’ve been experiencing a lot of April showers lately. We had a couple periods of rain during the week, including a soaking downpour that started late Thursday evening and lasted throughout the night. Yesterday we had beautiful weather through the late afternoon when a bank of gray clouds darkened the western horizon. It has been raining on and off ever since, which makes today a good time to stay inside and tackle some cleaning projects or just take it easy. JoAnna’s doing the latter right now. She’s sacked out on the couch watching a biography of Cher on VH1.

“I can barely keep my eyes opened,” she told me a few minutes ago.

The boys are on the other side of the house waiting for a friend to come over, someone who lives just a block away from us.

JoAnna and I started our spring cleaning yesterday. The house was begging for our attention. We started out with the living room/dining area/study, covering every surface from ceiling to floor. The cabinets and buffet were cleared out and cleaned, and then the contents were more efficiently organized. We also tackled the kitchen, again from top to bottom. We didn’t have to clean all the cabinets since JoAnna had rearranged some of them to accommodate the new dishes and glasses we got at Christmas. While I was cleaning the kitchen countertops, JoAnna tidied up the hallway between the kitchen and garage and then removed all the Abrahamson campaign clutter that had accumulated around the computer during the past three months. I’m so glad this election is over. Shirley was easily re-elected to the Supreme Court, beating her opponent handily, by a 63-37 margin. Sharryn Rose couldn’t even win Brown County, her home base.

Friday evening we hosted a card party here. Sheepshead, of course. We started at 7:00 and played until nearly 11:00. Nobody was really into the game. It was the first time this year that the group has gotten together for cards and we were more interested in talking and joking. JoAnna made hot tamales, and our guests brought various snacks – chips and cookies, mostly. Jon Erpenbach brought along Joey and Amy, his two children, so the boys had someone to play with. Amy is just crazy about Boxer, but, unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual. Amy is much too rough with him. Boxer was a basket case by the end of the evening. When we were saying goodbye to our guests, I held him so he wouldn’t make a dash for the open door. He bit me rather forcefully on my left index finger, the little runtski. He was all wound up after having been chased around the house by four wild kids for much of the evening.

JoAnna decided we’d go to church this morning since she didn’t want to get cleaned up for church after our housecleaning and then get all grubby again during the workout at the health club. Andy accompanied her and played basketball while she went through her routine. Eddie and I stayed home. I finished writing a letter to Mom, and Eddie watched TV. Mom, by the way, is doing fine. Dad had become such a burden, the Parkinson’s completely immobilizing him during the last couple weeks of his life. Both JoAnna and I were surprised, almost shocked, by her appearance at Christmas. She had lost so much weight. Some of it is attributable to an overactive thyroid, a diagnosis made by her doctor earlier in the year. I’m convinced that an equal part was a result of the ongoing stress of taking care of Dad. Mom was determined to keep him at home and, fortunately, Hospice was there during his last days so he could die peacefully and with dignity. Now Mom can get back to having a life of her own. 

The boys and I had a nice visit in Warren for a portion of the last week in March, during the boys’ spring break from school. We went shopping a couple times, once to the Jamestown (New York) mall, once to the Warren mall. We took Mom and Barb out to lunch one day. Otherwise we just hung out. Our evening meals lasted for three hours, with the family, including Larry and Kim, who always joined us at this time of the day, gathered around the dining room table for food and conversation.

The boys and I spent April Fool’s Day on the road. We stayed at a motel in Hammond, Indiana, just outside of Chicago. The boys spent most of the evening in the pool. I joined them for awhile, but then wrote a note to Mom while they continued to splash around. We had a great time in Chicago. On Friday, we visited the planetarium, walked through Grant Park to the Art Institute (not a very big hit with the boys, but they did enjoy the arms & armor exhibit) and the Museum of Broadcast Communications (featuring oldtime TV and radio memorabilia), and then walked back to the car – over an hour of walking altogether, which resulted in a few complaints from the boys during our return trip. It was a beautiful day for walking, though.

Around 3:00, we checked into our motel, the Best Western River North, located a few blocks north of the Chicago River and six blocks west of Michigan Avenue. We thought we’d be able to get in a swim before supper, but the pool was closed for repairs. Fortunately, a Nintendo game was attached to the TV in our room. That evening, we saw the Chicago Bulls make history, losing to Orlando by the largest margin in the team’s 33-year history. On Saturday, we went to Lou Mitchell’s, one of my favorite restaurants, for breakfast, took a trip to the Skydeck of the Sears Building, and wandered around the Lincoln Park Zoo. We returned to the United Center that evening to watch a hockey game, the Chicago Black Hawks vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hawks won in the final minute of the game, 2-1. It was, admittedly, an expensive weekend, but I don’t think I went over budget. I have to wait until I get my next Mastercard statement for the final verdict. The boys and I are determined that Mom will accompany us on our next trip to Chicago.

It looks like JoAnna has fallen asleep. I thought we were going to continue with our spring cleaning today, clean the bathrooms, specifically. I should attend to a couple areas I overlooked yesterday – the closet next to the front entrance and the cabinets next to the dishwasher. There’s also a couple loads of laundry to do, and I should go through my closet and chest of drawers and bag up a donation of castoffs to Goodwill. I also need to finish filling out our tax forms. JoAnna has me feeling lazy, though. Maybe I’ll just stretch out on the living room couch and continue reading the book I started yesterday, Little Green Men, by Christopher Buckley, a very funny novel about a George Will-type commentator who becomes convinced that he was abducted by aliens. Buckley deliciously spoofs the pomposities of Washington.

Later that same day.

I was able to check off most of the chores on my to-do list, while JoAnna continued to sack out on the couch. She must have used up all her energy at the health club last night. During the early afternoon, she did get up and prepare a round steak in the crock pot for supper and then completed the meal preparations between 5:30 and 6:00. Otherwise, she was snoozin’ or surfin’, the perfect couch potato. Eddie’s soccer practice was canceled. Andy’s lasted nearly two hours. Right now JoAnna is preparing the boys for their first communion, which takes place the first weekend of May. We hope to see you here then. We send you our love.

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