One of the busiest days ever!...Photos ops kind of sketchy!...

After the boat ride, we drove past the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium (football) for this shot.
I suspected that at some point during the six weeks we're spending in Minnesota, we'd eventually run out of photos.  As much as we've continually searched for decent photos ops, we've fallen short and today's photos may be lacking in originality.

It's not as if we're surrounded by wildlife and "sightings on the beach" such as our daily entries on each post during the four months we spent in the villa in Sumbersari Bali which I was reminded of when I posted the "year ago" photo of the scary bull below.

It was hard not to laugh out loud when I reread last year's post of Tom's second most frightening animal encounter since the onset of our travels with the Mozambique Spitting Cobra next to his feet on the veranda in Marloth Park South Africa as his first, definitely his biggest scare ever.

That's not to say I haven't been rattled a few times myself especially when encountering frightening looking venomous insects throughout the world.  But, now with my preoccupation with taking photos of nasty creatures, I've been able to allay my fear into a more productive mode of, "Hmmm...this will make a nice shot for the blog."

Speaking of the word "blog" I find myself referring to ours as more of a website than a "blog."  When I notice other blogs I find most authors only post now and then, as opposed to our current number at 1,793 over these past five plus years. 

The entrance to the Minnesota Vikings US Bank stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
Where has the time gone and how the heck did we ever get to this high of a number?  We often shrug our shoulders when we make note of the number of stories/chapters/posts. 

When people often say, "You should write a book!"  We laugh.  We've already written a book with 1,793 chapters that are already online for the "free" taking of any enthusiastic reader who attempts to tackle it in its entirety.  Brave you!  Have at it!

Are we gluttons for punishment, hell-bent on continuing this relentless documentation of our daily lives, even when such lives are quiet, uninteresting and mundane?  Sure, we are. 

Why wouldn't we be when it rarely feels like a task or obligation?  Although, I must admit it's been tricky on the days when we're picking up a grandchild at 8:00 am who'll hang out with us for the day which has been no less than three times per week.

Never wanting the "grandchild of the day" to be bored and antsy while waiting for me to upload the post, at least three times a week, I've completed two posts in one day in preparation for their arrival. 

Only once, this week, did I find myself in a quandary with no choice but to prepare the post while one of the kids was here.  We'd been out late the prior night and I had no steam left to do it.
Vikings design on the exterior of the stadium.

Even then, I hurried through it and was done in half my usual time continually stopping to pay attention to how Miles was doing to ensure he wasn't impatient or bored.  It worked out fine.  We had a great day.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself.  On the days I've done two posts, I've done one in the morning and the second at night after we've been out for dinner and I'm sitting in bed in my nightshirt. 

On a few such occasions, I fell asleep in the process, startling myself awake. On a few other occasions, Tom did his usual "waving a hand over my eyes" to see if I'm dosing or awake.  Irritating?  Yes.  Effective? Yes.  It wakes me every time.

With today's outrageously packed day which will require no less than four hours of driving time after picking up Madighan at 8:00 am, last night at 8:00 pm, Tom and I were situated in the hotel lobby (where we usually work online), yet to have dinner.

We'd picked up Vincent again at Cardboard Camp and taken him to see the movie, The Mummy.  He loved it!  I liked it! Tom hated it.  Tom and Vincent shared a giant popcorn while I snacked on a bag of nuts which sat in my gut like a rock. Tom's appetite was iffy after eating at least of third of the giant bucket of popcorn. We never went to dinner.
Multiple bridges view from the river boat on the Mississippi.
I scheduled this post for an automatic 11:00 am upload at which point our outrageously busy day will be in full swing.

We'll be back with more details over the weekend, which is also packed from morning til night including an 80th birthday party for Tom's sister Margie starting at 2:00 pm on Saturday and a full day on Sunday with Camille and the two girls for a "Shrek" production downtown, followed by a visit to the Sculpture Garden.

You'd think amid all these activities, I'd be taking tons of photos.  But, I'm so distracted with the precious time we're all spending together, I keep forgetting to look for photos ops.  I suppose, in the realm of things, that's a good thing.  We promise to make up for it later.

Enjoy the day and we'll be back for more.

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2016:

In Bali, this buffalo snorted and stomped his feet ready to charge at Tom when he went for a walk while I stayed busy at the villa.  For more on this frightening story, please click here.

Comforts in this temporary life...A dose of Vitamin D...Final Mississippi River photos continue...

Southeast Steam Plant, aka Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant.
The days and nights whiz passed us in such a flurry of activity they tend to blur collectively in our minds.  Although I have an excellent memory, this morning I had to think twice as to what we did yesterday.

Startled by the momentary memory lapse, I reminded myself of how busy we've been and how little sleep we've had some nights over this past almost month in Minnesota. 
The water filled the lock comparable to water rising in a bathtub, as we explained to the kids.
Not that I'm complaining (or "whinging" as they say in Aussie or British speak), but it's easy to find ourselves a little flustered with this new pace of activity, so "foreign" to us compared to our generally slower pace of "living in the world."

In our lives of world travel, we rarely watch a clock or set an alarm (except for travel days).  The pace of our current daily activities in itself has required a certain degree of adaptation which surprisingly came back to us more quickly than we expected. 
At one point, we could reach out and touch the wall of the lock comparable to our experience, on a much larger scale when we entered the Panama Canal.  See this link for a live cam of traversing through the Panama Canal.  See this link for our traverse through the Panama Canal in January 2013.  We'll be going back through it again in five months.
Then, of course, there are certain comforts we're enjoying; using a phone and able to text (not possible outside the US, to the US); air conditioning; no venomous insects inside; a comfortable bed; a new SUV with voice activated commands and navigation which recognizes my phone and uploads my contact list for hands-free calling; no meals to cook, no dishes to wash, no cleaning; free fast Wi-Fi while at the hotel; and it goes on and on.

A particularly pleasant aspect of our visit to Minnesota, (of course, besides spending highly enjoyable quality time with family and friends) has been the ability to replenish our wardrobe with well-fitting durable clothing at outrageously affordable prices. 
University of Minnesota Medical Complex, located along the Mississippi River.
Surprisingly, Macy's has been one of the most practical of resources, when I was able to purchase $98 capris (that fit properly) for less than half price and dressier type shirts for Tom (brand name) for under $20 each, regularly priced at $68.

Yesterday, his shipment of five pairs of shorts arrived, all fitting perfectly, all on sale for around $20 each, regularly priced in the $60 range.  We've never been able to find such bargains or properly fitting items, outside of the US.
Formerly, the Northern Pacific Railroad #9 bridge, now used as only for walking and as a bike path.
All we have left to round out our wardrobes are a few more underwear items for me and insect repellent infused shirts (BugsAway) for both of us which we'll most likely purchase while still in Minnesota since there's no sales tax on clothing. 

Today, after uploading the post we're heading out to visit Tom's brother Jerry at the nursing home in Coon Rapids where he's recovering from a recent hospital stay. We've made a point of seeing him several times since we arrived and hope to do so again before we depart. 
Several Bald Eagles flew overhead during the boat tour.
Afterward, we'll be picking up Vincent at the Cardboard Camp in Arden Hills, (we wrote about this in yesterday's post) and taking him to see the movie, "The Mummy."  This isn't particularly Tom's favorite type of movie. 

Then again, on Monday I watched "Cars" with Miles which he loved.  Actually, it was rather adorable. I doubt Tom will say the same about "The Mummy" but as a fan of action flicks, I'm sure Vincent and I will find it entertaining regardless of the poor reviews.
A white sandbar on the banks of the river.
Yesterday was an easy day when Maisie and I went to the massive pool at the Saint Louis Park Rec Center.  I hadn't sat in the sun in so long I couldn't recall, desperately in need of some Vitamin D and a touch of a tan.

While Maisie romped poolside with her friends, I stayed in the sun for about 45 minutes (without burning) and moved into the shade for the remainder of the day.  She thoughtfully came and checked in with me every so often giving me peace of mind knowing her whereabouts in the huge facility.

Today, another busy day is on the horizon.  But, wait until you hear what tomorrow is going to be like!  Whew! 

Have a great day, dear friends/dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2016:
One year ago in Bali, we printed all the paperwork and documents we could possibly need for multiple upcoming flights and visa applications which were required on paper at the various embassies.  Placing each in its own unique envelope seemed to be the easiest way to find what we'll need. Gee...we don't like paper! Also, included were the necessary documents for both of us to apply online for the renewal of our Nevada driver's licenses.  The blue envelope contains extra passport-type photos we purchased in Bali for use in applying for the three visas in Singapore.  For more details, please click here.

An interesting and unusual day at camp...What's cardboard got to do with it?...Tom, Tammy & TJ at Minnesota Twins Game...

Grandpa and Vincent at Cardboard Camp.
Time is flying by quickly.  With a little over two weeks remaining until we depart Minnesota, we're packing our days and nights full of activities with family and friends.

View of Lake Johanna at Tony Schmidt Regional Park in Arden Hills, Minnesota where we picked up Vincent from "Cardboard Park" yesterday.
Yesterday, after completing the day's post and taking care of some online tasks, at 2:00 pm we headed to Arden Hills (35-minute drive) to pick up grandson Vincent from camp and to spend quality time with him.  

Vincent's summers are action packed at a variety of overnight and day camps.  We didn't expect his schedule to change with us here this summer but we've managed to work around his busy schedule and ours to be together.
The kids from Cardboard Camp at their end-of-the-day gathering with camp leaders.
Arriving at Tony Schmidt Regional Park, we easily found the location for the camp with the help of the excellent navigation system in the red SUV and a few suggestions from his parents, Tammy and Tracy.

We had no idea what to expect when we arrived at Cardboard Camp.  After parking at a distant lot, we hiked up a steep paved trail to find a wonderland of kid's made cardboard castles, tools, play weapons, and structures intended as a concept befitting "Knights of the Round Table."
This is a cardboard castle the kids made using slabs of cardboard, the theme of this summer day camp.
Here are a few of the details about Cardboard Camp from their website.  Please click here for more information:


All weeks of classic AiC include castle buildingarms & armorgames and swimming whenever beaches are available at hosting parks. The terrain varies widely from park to park. Campers will have elective opportunities over the course of each week to customize their experience.

Building in the Armory

Build anything you want for your character or your Esteemed House. Usually, people begin by designing their own suit of armor and personal arms: The Realm can be a dangerous place! Work independently or collaborate with a team. Add spikes, fins, scales, plates, helmets, gauntlets, shields limited only by your imagination. Go classic or go mythic. Create your heirloom sword, ax, mace, halberd, spear or other deadly accouterments. Use and improve what you make in daily games of capture the flag.
Or… scrap the arms and armor and work instead on magical tomes, artifacts of power, hoods, capes, crowns, wands and rings of power!
Or… work on a farmstead and corral, a shop in the village, a tavern with games of chance, a forest hut for your sorcerer or a library for your wizened sage.
Each week will also have optional special projects with visiting local artists. Create a village, work on a giant maze, focus on siege engines, specialty bows or on more advanced live-action games.

Creating a Castle and Fortified Village

Design and build an actual castle or fortified village to inhabit, attack and defend with basic woodwork framing and large cardboard construction. Make walls festooned with battlements. Raise towers. Install a gatehouse with portcullis, arrow-loops, and drop-holes for defense.
Later in the week, this sprawling fortification becomes the locus for many role playing activities. It’s final size and the variety of activities that go on inside of its walls is up to our collective imagination. And for every person who manages to become Queen beware the Sword of Damocles that hang above your head
Vincent in front of one of the many cardboard structures.
Our mouths were agape over what we found in the lush green park with Lake Johanna across the road.  Plenty of camp counselors were busy interacting with the kids as they ran around the park, playing with cardboard and duct tape swords in hand, engaged in countless activities.  Who knew?
It was expected to rain last night which inspired the camp leaders to cover some of the structures with tarps.
We'd never heard of nor seen such an exciting environment where the kid's own creativity and imagination would be at play as they built the cardboard castles, other structures and "tools of the trade." 

They created a play world from another time in history providing them with an opportunity to literally (no pun intended) think "outside the box."  The joyful look on all of their faces on Day 2 of the one week-long camp was indicative of how fun and interesting this concept was to each individual.
Cardboard camp rules.
The day camp ends at 3:00 pm, each of the five days.  While we waited for Vincent to collect his backpack, we had an opportunity to speak to one of the counselors about the exciting concept and the kid's reaction to each day's activities.
Cardboard Camp road block.
Vincent took us on a tour of the various cardboard structures while I'll happily shot many photos as we wandered throughout their designated area of the park.  He was excited and proud to share the details with us explaining the meaning and purpose of the various structures.

Earlier in the day, Tracy dropped off Vincent's fishing rod, tackle box and two portable chairs encouraging us to take Vincent fishing at Lake Johanna across the road from the camp.  We stopped for bait on the way to Arden Hills.
Many games and activities center around the camp's theme.
Although the fishing wasn't quite exciting enough for Vincent, he did catch a few tiny sunfish while we sat in the chairs on the lake's dock, encouraging him along.  After an hour, we were on our way to grab some dinner at Wendy's for Vincent and drop him off at home.  We returned all the fishing gear and visited with Tracy and Vincent before we took off for the next item on our busy agenda.
Many of the cardboard structures represent businesses to supply the needs of the participants.
On Monday next week, when Miles will be with us for the day, we'll be taking him fishing as well at a lake in his part of town.  Good grief, there are over 15,000 lakes in Minnesota.  Everywhere one turns, there's a possible fishing lake. 
Covering the structures with tarps in the event of rain is quite a job.
We intended to go fishing with the boys sooner but somehow time got away from us in the flurry of already planned activities.  We'll post both boys fishing photos after Monday.

Tom wanted to attend a 6:30 pm railroad union meeting to see more of his buddies from BNSF with many of whom he worked for over 42 years.  Since they drink beer in the bar after the hour-long meeting end, the plan was for me to drop him off and pick him up later.  That's me...handy designated driver, a title I'm happy to provide for Tom at any time or place.
Apparently, the urinal wasn't working!
With about 40 minutes left until the meeting, we stopped at a restaurant/bar for a quick bite to eat.  The options for me were very limited and once again I opted for a chopped salad, this time with a chunk of grilled ahi tuna sitting atop the pile of bitter greens.  Not my favorite meal to date but what I eat isn't all that important to me right now.  Tom had a Reuben sandwich with fries.  "Too many bad carbs," she thinks with mouth shut.
Cardboard Camp requires a lot of planning and preparations in which the kids participate.
After I dropped him off at the bar in Northeast Minneapolis, I headed back to the hotel with the intention of preparing today's post, at least in part.  With Maisie spending the day with me today, I didn't want her to be bored while I clicked away on the keyboard in a frenzy to get done. 
Tj, Tom, and Tammy at the Twins game on Father's Day.
Last night, when I returned to the hotel I was fully preoccupied speaking to my sister Julie in California.  We really hadn't had time to talk lately during this busy period.  The time flew and before I knew it, Tom rang through, ready for me to drive back to Northeast Minneapolis and pick him up.

This was the first time in this past almost four weeks that I didn't have ample time to do a post, at least in part, before spending the next day with the kids.  Luckily, this morning Maisie brought along an iPad and has been easily entertaining herself while I prepared this post.
Target Field in downtown Minneapolis holds 39,029 fans.
This morning at 8:00 am I hit the road again to pick up Maisie.  Luckily, the traffic wasn't too bad and I arrived by 8:30.  After saying hello to Greg, Camille and Miles (Madighan was still sleeping), Maisie and I were on our way back to the hotel for breakfast. 
They had great seats in the 8th row on the first base line, priced at $102 each plus taxes and fees.
As soon as I'm done here, we're hoping to be heading to the St. Louis Park Rec Center pool for a day of sun and fun at their massive pool.  Today's weather, a very cool partly cloudy day, may make this outing impossible since the rec center requires temperatures to be at least 72F to open the facility.  So far, the temp is hovering between 70F and 71F.  We'll come up with a Plan B if all else fails.

Tonight, we'll both be attending Maisie's soccer game at 7:00 pm, after which we'll find a spot for dinner.  Busy days. Busy nights.  Memorable occasions.
The Twins lost.
Be well, dear readers and thanks for hanging in with us during this intense family visit.  More exciting travel stuff to come when we arrive in the travel mecca of the US...Las Vegas Nevada, in 16 days! 

From what son Richard reports, temps yesterday hit a record breaking 117F,  47C.  That in itself is rather interesting, eh?

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2016:
Tom's tuna, rice and veggie dinner in Bali.  He lost weight eating these plentiful and flavorful meals.  We're looking forward to cooking our own meals again.  We're both feeling a little full from dining out every night.  For more photos, please click here.

Boating on the Mississippi River on Father's Day...Minnesota historical sites....

Greg, Camille, Miles, Madighan and Maisie on the Jonathan Padelford on the Mississippi River on Father's Day.
On Father's Day, Tom and I separately joined our respective families for the day's activities.  He went with Tammy and TJ to a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field in Minneapolis while I joined Greg, Camille and the three children for a paddle-wheel boat ride on the Mississippi River.
A solitary duck standing on the dock while our boat took off from the pier.
With only one camera and Tom off to the Minnesota Twins game, I was the only one of us in possession of a camera.  He took some photos at the game using his phone which we'll share in tomorrow's post.

We wished there was enough time in everyone's schedule for us to be together with our families as events arise.  Unfortunately, this just doesn't seem to work well and we find ourselves in different directions several times a week.
The closest bridge is the 10th Avenue Bridge.  The bridge behind it is the I-35W St. Anthony Falls bridge, the replacement for the I-35W Mississippi Rover bridge which collapsed on August 1, 2007, killing 13, injuring 145.  See details below.

The I-35W Mississippi River bridge (officially known as Bridge 9340) was an eight-lane, steel truss arch bridge that carried Interstate 35W across the Saint Anthony Falls of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. During the evening rush hour on August 1, 2007, it suddenly collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The bridge was Minnesota's third busiest, carrying 140,000 vehicles daily.[ The NTSB cited a design flaw as the likely cause of the collapse, noting that a too-thin gusset plate ripped along a line of rivets, and asserted that additional weight on the bridge at the time of the collapse contributed to the catastrophic failure.
Immediately after the collapse, help came from mutual aid in the seven-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area and emergency response personnel, charities, and volunteers.  Within a few days of the collapse, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) planned a replacement bridge, the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. Construction was completed rapidly, and it opened on September 18, 2008."
It not that so much that we mind being apart for a portion of the day.  It's more about trying to experience both of us together with each other's respective families when possible.  Luckily, we've been able to have it work out on a few occasions with hopefully more in our remaining 17 days in Minnesota.
As we entered the first lock on the river cruise.  These locks are the most northerly locks on the Mississippi River.
When my two sons were young (now ages 47 and 50) and we were a one-parent family (I was divorced at a young age) on a few occasions I took them on the Jonathan Padelford riverboat for cruises on the Mississippi River.  I wish I could remember the last time we did this. 

The massive gates behind us closed after we entered the main area of the lock.  The water began to rise.
Most likely it was prior to 1977 when I purchased our own boat which we kept docked at a marina on Lake Minnetonka during the short summer months.  In the cold winter months, we stored the boat (we progressed in the size of the boats over the years) in an indoor storage facility in the country.
As the water was rising in the lock...
Once we had our own boat, I doubt we went back on the river other than on a few group activities planned with friends, co-workers or through school activities.  With the cost and required upkeep of owning a boat, as a single parent, it was impractical to pay fees for other boating expeditions.

Although I haven't felt nostalgic since arriving in Minnesota, (other than seeing and spending time with the people we love) and when driving over the Gray's Bay Bridge last week when we visited friends Connie and Jeff, I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as we made our way along the Mississippi River on Father's Day.
The Stone Arch bridge, from this site, was "built by railroad baron James J. Hill in 1883, the bridge allowed for increased movement of people and goods across the river. It served as a working railroad bridge until 1965 but is still seen as a symbol of the railroad age.  Rehabilitation of this National Historic Engineering Landmark began in 1980. Traffic on the bridge is now characterized by a much slower pace. Mostly used by walkers and bicyclists, the bridge is one of the best ways to enjoy the view of St. Anthony Falls."
The familiar buildings comingled with the new buildings reminded me of the love I'd felt for Minnesota for over 40 years.  For Tom, this was over a lifetime, since he was born in Minneapolis, many moons ago.  Minnesota is the only home our children knew with Tom's two children, Tammy and TJ (now ages 46, 42) having been born here.
Minneapolis is a world-renowned cultural center.  The Guthrie Theatre is recognized for its quality productions and thought provoking artistic displays and renditions.  Click here for more details.
My eldest Richard was born in California and son Greg was born in Bay City Michigan.  But, I moved to Minnesota when Richard was a toddler and Greg was an infant.  It was the only home they've known. 

As shown, Greg still lives in Minnesota as a family of five and Richard has lived in Nevada since he was 21 years old.  Soon, in 17 days, we'll be staying with him in Henderson for a three-week visit.
The famous Gold Medal Flour building has been vacated and the flour production has been moved to another location.  The building was sold to a developer to be built as future condominiums.
With eyes wide open, the kids enjoyed the boat ride with that precious child-like wonder we all find adorable.  This wasn't their first time on a riverboat on the Mississippi but it easily could have been based on the smiles on their faces and their diligent observation of everything around them. 
Later in the day, Tom and I reconnected at the hotel after which, once again, we headed out for dinner at Champ's, a local favorite at the moment.  We've only found a few restaurants befitting my way of eating that stays within our daily budget during this period of time.  Fine dining is not on the agenda during this period of time.
Tomorrow, we'll be back with photos from Tom's Father's Day, Minnesota Twin's game with Tammy and TJ.  The remaining river photos will be posted in the near future.  See you soon!
Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2016:
In Bali, one of our two cooks went outside to greet the peanut vendor to make a purchase. For more photos, please click here.

An evening to remember...Old friends...Memories of our old life...New memories to behold...

Wild turkeys are everywhere in the metro area.  Sue took this photo for us this morning of this proud male.  Great shot, Sue!  Thanks for sharing it!
I don't know where or how to begin.  Saturday's night's get together of old friends who just so happened to be our old neighbors left us reeling with a mix of laughter and tears.

The many years we spent together living on the peninsula, socializing with the utmost of ease, regularly, and often with aplomb and style was intermingled with some of the most candid and revealing conversations we've ever had with friends.

A portion of the living room in Sue's new home.
The laughter came easily along with in-depth conversations about life, love, politics, world affairs, current affairs, science, medicine and technology made for lively times together.  At times, we were all talking simultaneously and oddly grasping every word spoken.

We came to know each other's foibles and idiosyncrasies and yet, accepted and embraced them without judgment or critique, without harshness or ridicule.  That's the way it was our friends on the point.

The dining area with a pass-through to the kitchen and custom made cabinets for Sue's exquisite glassware collection from all over the world.
Last night, when some of us gathered at Sue's beautiful new home (Chip passed away in May 2012) we found ourselves laughing and crying as we relived memories of times since long past, of the commonality of our interests, of the fulfillment of our dreams.

Cozy banquette in kitchen.
Chip and Sue became our "role models" of how to spend retirement years, when they each found a comfortable place in their lives for personal growth and exploration, of new experiences they'd longed to incorporate in their pre-retirement lives, never quite having had the time. And, with a sense of adventure and sheer delight, they blissfully traveled together.  We were intrigued.

When Chip passed away in May 2012, Sue chose to postpone the memorial service until friends and family could all be present to attend in order to celebrate his meaningful and profound life.  I was honored when Sue asked me to speak at the service.

The Monet inspired decor was clearly evident in the kitchen's design.
Knowing how emotional it would be I printed a copy of this tribute I'd written about him in a post dated June 1, 2012, which may be found here.  Later, in July, I wrote this post describing the memorial service and the honor I felt in being asked to participate.

Chip's sorrowful passing occurred after we'd decided to travel the world.  The memorial service occurred only three months before we left to begin our journey.  But, from there both Tom and I experienced a powerful commitment to attempt to try to fill a tiny gap in Sue's life, by including hers in ours, as much as possible.

Tom and I both felt totally at ease in Sue's new home.
For all the amazing times we'd spent as a foursome, we were left with a new series of memories in spending quality time with Sue each and every weekend before we left.  If we could somehow, collectively share in the loss of this fine man and bring some healing to one another in the process, our leaving would become less painful. 

During this past almost five years, we've stayed in close touch with Sue and the other friends/neighbors.  We never felt as if we were too far away and last night this was confirmed as we sat around that same gorgeous round table we'd all shared with Chip for decades as we all recapped our lives, our challenges and the changes we've made as we've continued to learn and grow in these older years of our lives.

Nelleke and Dave brought craft beer made by our former neighbor at the Excelsior Brewing Company.
When Sue, Tom and I finished the evening alone, filled with great conversation, appetizers and drinks, the three of us poured out our hearts, unabashedly, and unashamedly allowing the memories of times passed to flow, and the hopes and dreams for the future to fill in the hollow recesses of aching hearts. 

We've come full circle and a new "normal" has emerged for Sue, Tom and I.  The healing has catapulted to a new level and all of us are prepared and filled with a sense of abundance in carrying on, with memories of "old" firmly in place and "new" memories being built for the future.

Sue had saved a menu I created for a dinner party we hosted when she and Chip
had returned after their winter holiday at their Florida home.  We couldn't believe
she'd saved this!
We have another such night upcoming on July 1st when we'll all meet at Jamie and Doug's home for "happy hour" and a boat ride and then off to dinner at a local restaurant we all frequented in years passed.  We have no doubt, we'll emerge from that evening with the same sense of wonder and gratitude we experienced last night.

Thank you, dear readers, for inspiring us to share these intimate thoughts in writing; of times, old and new, that will surely follow us well into the future.

Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2016:
In Bali, the sunset view and reflection in the infinity pool.  For more details, please click here.