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We awoke to blue skies and sunshine in Chicago yesterday. In fact we flew through blue skies across the country until we reached the state of Washington. Our landing in Seattle sent up great sprays of water from the downpour. The cab ride home was an adventure. However, we are home!

It was an interesting and pleasing trip. Spending a day in the Art Institute of Chicago is always a treat.

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My good friend, Doug, from college was as entertaining as ever with his never-ending supply of stories.

Jean and Doug Aong the Apes

Jean and Doug Aong the Apes

Visiting family in Janesville and Madison was great. It was too long since I had seen my aunts and cousins and we had too little time with each other. However, we made the most of it.

Aunt Joyce an Ruh Roh

Aunt Joyce an Ruh Roh

Sarah, Paul and Aunt Betsy

Sarah, Paul and Aunt Betsy

It was unbelievable to reconnect with my little brother after 40 years. Steve and I remembered many of our adventures together. I believe he remembered more than I did, but after all he is a good deal younger!

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And we thoroughly enjoyed our time with Don and Sandy in their woodland retreat. Although the week brought some sadness with Spiky’s death, their hospitality and friendship is beyond compare.

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Don Michels

Don Michels

Sandy takes Spiky for a last walk along the road with Honey leading the way.

Sandy takes Spiky for a last walk along the road with Honey leading the way.

Now we must finish unpacking and get back into the Seattle rhythm of life. Today I have Ukestra Seattle rehearsal. Tomorrow I plan to get into my studio and work on some paintings I left on the easels. I don’t know when our next travels will be, but we will be writing about them.

Paul

Posted in Art, Family, Friendship, Retirement, Uncategorized, Wisconsin | 2 Comments

Leaving Greenbush

Today we leave Greenbush and drive back to Chicago. I sit here enjoying the pale dawn in the woods, turkeys roaming around the yard, and the cool sweet air coming in the window.

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This is the bird Benjamin Franklin wanted as our national bird rather than the eagle!

Yesterday we enjoyed a mid-afternoon dinner at the Log Cabin restaurant in Howard’s Grove. The special of the day was pork hocks and sauerkraut, which Don and Sandy dined on. However, Jean and I couldn’t pass up the walleye dinner. It was terrific and I have one filet left over for breakfast this morning! I finished my meal with a slab of poppy seed torte.

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Now it is time to pack the car and be off. Don and Sandy must head to Lake Winnebago to pull in their boat for the winter. Cold weather looms in this part of the country, but not as early as it did when I lived here 30 years ago. Global warming is a reality!

Paul

Posted in Friendship, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Wisconsin | 1 Comment

A Busy Day With Some Sadness and A Happy Reunion

Yesterday was Spiky’s last day. His seizures had stopped, but he was pacing 24 hours a day and began yipping with a strange sound. After many discussions and a consultation with the vet Spiky went to the vet for the last time. Today Don and Sandy will bury their little buddy here on the property he called home.

Sandy takes Spiky for a last walk along the road with Honey leading the way.

Sandy takes Spiky for a last walk along the road with Honey leading the way.

Here is Don and Sandy’s lovely estate in the Kettle Moraine Forest.

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Jean and I did some sight seeing in Sheboygan in the afternoon. It’s a beautiful time of year as the leaves begin to turn color…a bit later each year. Lake Michigan, the midwest’s mini-ocean, was a pretty as a picture, so we took several.

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Late in the afternoon we met up with Steve Kreutz, my little brother from Big Brothers. We hadn’t seen each other since 1977 and assured ourselves that neither of us had changed a bit. Yeah, sure!

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Steve has two grown kids and three grandchildren! It was great fun to remember things we did together way back then and to learn about what’s happening in our lives these days. I am very thankful that he took the initiative to find me after all these years.

We returned home in the evening to learn of Spiky’s passing. That called for some quiet talk in the living room with cups of hot cocoa before going to bed.

Paul

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Greenbush Wisconsin

We’ve been with friends Sandy and Don in Greenbush the last couple of days. Lots of chatting and memories. Don and I fished together for many years. As a reminder of our adventures many fish trophies adorn the walls in their home. At least one 45 inch muskie was netted by me after an epic battle that is the subject of a story I tell when singing my song The Musky Bum. Of course we had to retell that story to compare our memories. Sandy keeps us nourished with great food. Monday evening it was roast chicken and vegetables. Yesterday we had a large meal at midday of cauliflower garbanzo curry.

Don Michels Telling Stories In His Favorite Chair

Don Michels

Sandy Doing Some Gardening

Sandy Doing Some Gardening

They live on several acres in the midst of the kettle moraine surrounded by a beautiful mixed forest. The trees are changing color daily, but not yet near their peak. Birds fill the yard around their many feeders. We see two different woodpeckers, blue jays, hawks, and a variety of small birds. However, the stars of the show are turkeys. Two different families visit each day.

Their "Front Yard"

Their “Front Yard”

Don and I took a long drive yesterday afternoon around Sheboygan county to places I previously lived or visited. We ended up at a cheese factory where I bought some curds. Curds, jalapeno slices, and crescent rolls were our dinner. (With malbec wine.)

We share the house with four cats and two dogs. It has been a trying time. One of the dogs, Spiky, had a grand mal seizure at the same time we arrived on Monday and had several more in the next 16 hours. A trip to the vet provided some seizure medication, but he seems to have only partially recovered. This means little sleep for Don and Sandy the last two nights.

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This afternoon Jean and I are going into Sheboygan to get together with Steve, my little brother (Big Brothers of America) whom I haven’t seen since 1977.

Paul

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Visiting Friends and Family

Friday we spent the day with my college big brother, Doug, in Chicago. It was an afternoon of talking, laughing, and remembering. Lunch was at the Rainforest Cafe, an experience Jean and I had never seen. It was loud, crazy, and jungle-like in a Disneyesque sort of way. After many stories (some of them may have been true) we called it a day well spent.

Doug and Paul Among the Apes

Doug and Paul Among the Apes

Jean and Doug Aong the Apes

Jean and Doug Aong the Apes

Saturday we got a cab out to Ohare to pick up our rental car. We got a Hyundai with Colorado license plates! Then we drove through rain storms to Janesville, Wisconsin. My cousin Cindy lives in a big house on the Rock River on the north end of Janesville. Aunt Joyce was there to greet us as well. After a brief round of laughing and talking Cindy left to attend a Ziggy Marley concert in Madison and Jean and I settled down with Joyce to chat and watch a little TV. We ended up talking until 11:00 PM before we crashed.

Aunt Joyce an Ruh Roh

Aunt Joyce an Ruh Roh

This morning we spent some more time chatting with Joyce and Cindy and hearing about the Marley show last night. However, we had a date to meet another aunt, Betsy, in McFarland for lunch so we hit the road. Cindy and Joyce couldn’t join us for lunch because Joyce has been ill and our long day Saturday really tired her out. We arrived at the 5100 Bar to find Aunt Betsy and cousin Sarah waiting for us. I hadn’t seen Sarah in about 40 years (she was in middle school at that time) and Aunt Betsy in about 25 years. We spent 3 hours conversing in a private room the restaurant generously let us use. What a time catching up on news, memories, and just getting to know each other again.

Sarah, Paul and Aunt Betsy

Sarah, Paul and Aunt Betsy

It has been a wonderful weekend to reconnect with family and friends and share old stories as well as new ones. Next we are off to eastern Wisconsin.

Paul

Posted in Family, Friendship, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Art Institute of Chicago

Today we immersed ourselves in art. A brisk 1 1/2 mile walk in the rain brought us to the lions guarding the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago. I spent much time here in high school and have visited a few times since. It has grown tremendously and cannot be seen in one day, but we did our best.

Our first stop was a special exhibit of drawings and sketches that have not been shown previously. The Institute has been amassing this collection for 25 years and now is showing off their finds.

One of the most interesting aspects of this collection is that it features several drawings that are studies for finished paintings already in their collection. This enables the viewer to see steps in the artist’s development of the finished painting.

Then we hit the Impressionist, European, and American collections. Of course there were too many favorites to include them all. Here are a few.

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Of course we had to take time for rest and reflection.

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Lest my Ukulele Seattle colleagues think music was forgotten this day. These reminded me of US. The Juan Gris pairs the instrument with a wine glass. How perfect! Picasso’s Old Guitarist could be me bending over my ukulele.

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Our day ended with a great Italian dinner at Magianno’s Little Italy around the corner from our hotel.

 

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Arrived in Downtown Chicago

After an hour delay taking off in Seattle we had a fairly smooth flight to Chicago. A speedy cab ride brought us to our hotel in the Loop. It is midnight here, so time for bed. No time for ukulele practice.

Lots to do tomorrow. The Art Institute beckons.

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Packed and Waiting

Off to another adventure. Waiting for a ride is almost as bad as flying, but not quite.

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End of A Vacation

Our summer camping trip came to an abrupt end today. Friday afternoon, while taking a  hike along the Nooksack River with friends Marc and Ace, Jean tripped on a rock and planted her face into the rocks. Since we were a bit ahead of her and close to the river, we didn’t hear her cries for help. She got up off the ground, bent her glasses back in shape, and limped to where we were sitting by the river. The sight of her coming down the hill sent me reeling. It was evident that something was wrong. Her face had dark smears and her grimace conveyed to me that I needed to get up that hill. I helped her down to the river where she sat and recovered her equilibrium while we assessed the damages. With bruised and skinned eyes, nose, and forehead as well as a badly bruised rib it was apparent that we needed to get her back to camp.

Jean as she arrived back at camp.

Jean as she arrived back at camp.

The four of us returned to camp and Ace used her nursing skills to expertly clean Jean’s wounds and apply dressings.

Getting cleaned up

Getting cleaned up

Almost done with the clean up and first aid

Almost done with the clean up and first aid

We iced her ribs and Jean settled in for the evening dinner with our extended clan and slept as well as could be expected that night.

Ice on the appropriate places

Ice on the appropriate places

On Saturday she began feeling more pain in her ribs and we decided she could use an elastic bandage. We drove 30 miles to a drug store where we could get a wide elastic bandage to wrap her ribs. Doses of aspirin, ice,  and some (legal in WA) hits on a vape pen with high CBD kept the pain at bay for our evening group dinner and music. This also was a celebration of our 28th wedding anniversary.

After a restless night Jean needed to return home. Therefore, at 10:00 this morning I began breaking camp and readying the trailer for our trip home. We left Mt. Baker at 11:30 and arrived home about 2:45. Jean is much more comfortable at home and a trip to our local green store provided a new vape pen. Tomorrow she will see the doctor to further assess the damages.

However, I want to leave you with some photos of a few of the beautiful things we saw since leaving civilization for the wilds of Mt. Baker. It is a wonderful area.

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Tomorrow is another day!

Paul

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Painting at Deception Pass

Today we started at Ana Spit on the north end of Whidbey Island. Lots of birds greeted us and we took a walk with them. However the soft sand and piles of driftwood precluded lugging painting gear. That’s why we ended up at a favorite spot – the rocky beaches below Deception Pass bridge.

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Jean At Work

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Artist Selfie

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And some closeup pics.

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Mossy Rock

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Jellyfish

Tomorrow we head to the mountains and no internet. I will catch up on posts when we return to civilization.

Paul

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