Oh, my...what a night we had!...

Our hosts and dear friends Karen and Rich.
Today's another busy day as we prepare for our upcoming four-year passport appointment tomorrow at the local government service center at 11:40 am. We had piles of forms and paperwork to prepare and accumulate for the upcoming appointment.

Also, I needed to make copies of all the medical documents from my heart surgery in preparation for my upcoming cardiology appointment next Wednesday, November 27th.
The two of us at dinner last night.
Subsequently, it made sense to place everything on a flash drive to take to an OfficeMax store for printing. With so many forms, it took me almost an hour to get everything printed at the store resulting in a stack of about 80 pages.

Before heading to the OfficeMax store, at 10:00 am I visited my dear long-time friend Chere at her home in Eden Prairie, only a few miles from Karen's home. We chatted in her cozy living room sipping on organic caffeine-free tea as Chere and I had often done over the years, anxious to take advantage of every moment as time is running out until we leave Minnesota a week from today.
The four of us were ready for dinner at the fabulous Gianni's Steakhouse in Wayzata Minnesota.
After leaving her home I headed to the Office Max store and then stopped to purchase a few "unwiches" (breadless healthy sub sandwiches like we often make in our travels).

Tom has some leftovers from last night's big dinner at Gianni's Steakhouse but may need to supplement it with at least a part of an "unwich." Since I wasn't able to have bread or potatoes, I completely finished my salad and scallops and thus purchased an "unwich" for tonight's dinner.
Tom was thrilled to dig into these rolls and garlic toasts.
We're at a point where we don't feel like rushing off to a restaurant every night but rather save those meals to enjoy with family and friends. At this point, selecting some healthy "to go" dinner options fit the bill for us. 

A few nights ago we had Chinese food (I had steamed prawns and vegetables) and then the next night I had the Chipotle chicken bowl; double grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato salsa, cheese, and guacamole while Tom had Chinese leftovers. The abundance of food offerings here in the US is quite a treat for us.
Our efficient and friendly waiter prepared our choose-your-ingredients-salad tableside. Absolutely delicious!
Last night's dinner at Gianni's Steakhouse in Wayzata was the pièce de résistance when it comes to dining. We insisted on taking Karen and Rich out to dinner at this memorable restaurant where many years ago Tom and I dined on special occasions.

It was as spectacular as we remembered. Every morsel, every bit of service, the presentation, the options, and the ambiance was over-the-top. We feared the food and service may have declined over the past seven years but we were delightfully wrong. It was as wonderful as we remembered.
Karen and I each ordered the scallops with pureed butternut in a delicious gluten-free buttery sauce.
Adding to the food and ambiance of the celebratory evening was being with Karen and Rich with whom we made an even greater bond than we'd expected. I've been friends with Karen for many years but only now met her love and partner Rich. 

He and Tom have hit it off famously and I haven't fallen far behind. Our evenings together, after family events have ended for the day, have been exceptionally enjoyable as we've mentioned several times over the past few days.
Both Rich and Tom ordered the grilled "double" pork chops with baked garlic and creamed corn.
With one week remaining until we depart for Nevada, we'll continue to make the most of each day with our family and friends. This has been a great visit, one we'll always treasure.

These hashbrown potatoes, a signature dish at Gianni's Steakhouse are filled with cheese and sour cream.
Next, we're off to see daughter Tammy in order to say goodbye. Tomorrow, their family leaves for Washington, DC for a holiday and then spending Thanksgiving with Tracy's family in Pennsylvania.

Please check back for more as we continue on over the next several days.  Finally, I am on the mend from this dreadful cough and virus, looking forward to feeling totally well once again.

Take care, dear readers.
Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2018:
We drove past friends Kathy and Don's home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. Click here for more photos.

This exceptional home where we're staying with friends is for sale...See details below...

Nothing was spared in the design and decor of this enticing property.
There's no doubt our friend's home in Eden Prarie Minnesota has been an ideal location for us during our three weeks in Minnesota. As a long-time dear friend, with whom I've stayed in close touch over the years, Karen didn't hesitate to invite us to stay with her and Rich.
The property is located in a tree-lined paradise allowing stunning views of the lake.
I knew this house years ago when we lived in Minnesota but hadn't stayed here in the past. Instead, we stayed in another of Karen's homes during our last several weeks in Minnesota in October 2012, when we had to clear out of our house for the estate sale.
The two-bedroom apartment, ideal for in-laws, nanny or rental is located above the four-car garage.
There are few people in the world with whom we'll stay in their homes. We have certain requirements and a routine which may interfere with theirs and our daily activities. 
Many exceptional parties have been held in this expansive home.
Also, we don't want any potential hosts trying to figure out what I eat and to go through the effort to make meals for us. It's just too much work for friends and family to muddle their way through this process. 
The dining room isn't a typical closed-off formal area. Instead, in this home, it flows into open spaces creating a perfect environment for entertaining or casual everyday dining.
Karen's diet is quite similar to mine and thus when we've been around to share meals we have no trouble making it work. Of course, we've been so busy, we've hardly been here at dinnertime.
The abundance of cupboard space, pantries, and unique storage spaces make this an ideal workspace and pleasing area for prepping meals and gathering for conversation.
Tonight, as a small token of thank you, we're all going out to dinner at Gianni's Steakhouse in downtown Wayzata, an upscale area on the famous Lake Minnetonka. Karen's birthday is on the 30th and we'll celebrate tonight.
The family room or lounge is located conveniently next to the kitchen and veranda.
Tom and I spent many special romantic dinners at this dining establishment and we're especially excited to share the experience with Karen and Rich, who've never dined at Gianni's.
A fireplace adorns this entertaining and lounging area with easy access to the outdoors.
Their gorgeous home on Duck Lake where we've been honored to stay is currently on the market for sale. We decided we'd like to share the information on this exceptional property with our readers who may be interested in this fine property or...know someone who is. 
One may be required to work at home but this space makes it seamless and inviting.
To reach the listing company and agent for additional information on this outstanding home please click here.
The top of the stairs at the second level is architecturally interesting in itself.
Having visited this home many times in our old lives (before traveling the world for seven years) its stunning ambiance and inviting appeal was familiar to both of us. Having the opportunity to stay here among such definitive beauty and elegance both in the house and on the grounds was an easy decision for us.
The master bedroom has many enticing amenities.
As you'd expect, we aren't being charged a fee to be here and are doing everything we can to say "thank you." That's our way. That's the way of our friends. 
What spectacular views from the soaking tub in the ensuite master bath.
But the magic of it all is the great fun the four of us celebrate almost every night when they return from work and we return from our day and evening activities with family when we settle into the warm and enticing lounge and relax with this delightful, intelligent and highly conversational couple. 
Few homes possess a walk-in closet of this caliber. The ease of organization is evident in every space.
It couldn't be more wonderful. The surroundings both inside the house and outside the property create a sense of calm and restoration each time we enter; a quiet and peaceful respite from our busy action-packed days. Our ability to unwind with the two of them has been one of many highlights of our time here.
This is currently our temporary living room in the walk-out area. Note all the light that enters this huge and convenient space.
Minnesota has countless beautiful lakes and owning a house directly located on the lakeshore is highly desired by most homeowners and potential homeowners. No, it's not always affordable and let's face it, this price range isn't for everyone.
We are sleeping in this bright bedroom with a fireplace and intriguing design.
However, for those searching in this price range, they won't be disappointed when they wander through this one-acre, 6149 square foot lakeshore home with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, three floors of living space plus a complete two-bedroom apartment with a rental income potential of approximately $1500 month, which can offset a portion of the costs.
Not only is this laundry area an easy and spacious workspace but next door to it is another "freezer/additional refrigerator/mudroom suitable for any size family. 
With only eight days remaining until we depart Minnesota, we will continue to embrace the ease and comfort we're experiencing in this gorgeous home with our equally gorgeous friends. 
The living room of the separate apartment is welcoming and bright.
The kitchen in the two-bedroom apartment.
Again, here's the link to the listing for pricing and further information.
A dock on the lake's edge for spring and summer boating. Wildlife abounds in this area.
Thank you for stopping by one more time. We'll be back with more tomorrow including photos from our celebratory dinner tonight.

With only a portion of the 127 feet of lakeshore visible in this summertime photo, the grounds include a hand-crafted gazebo, many gardens, and pleasing landscaping.
Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2018:
In the early evening, Wildebeest Willie and a young Big Daddy kudu seemed to get along well while eating pellets. For more photos, please click here.

"It's always somethin' Jane!"...

Six years ago today, on November 19, 2013, we posted this photo when we visited the Swahili Beach Resort for dinner at Diani Beach, Kenya.
We can live anywhere in the world and wherever we may be at any given time, life isn't free from worries and concerns for ourselves and for our loved ones. As we spend more time with family while in Minnesota, we have a first-hand opportunity to witness the trials and tribulations of those we love, often centered around health problems commonly found as a result of aging and other causes.

With our dear DIL dealing with cancer and similarly one of Tom's sisters and with Tom's sister, Sister Beth, in the hospital with some unknown illness, we find ourselves worried. Tom spent the better part of the day at a local hospital with DIL Tracy, who is having tests for a worrisome condition, yet unknown, we feel like health issues are everywhere. We hope and pray Tracy will be OK.

No one is exempt from the risks of acquiring health conditions. When Tom met for lunch with several railroad retirees last week, more than half of the group was suffering from one serious illness or another. Railroad workers are often exposed to toxic chemicals in their line of work which may result in serious health conditions later in life.

When we've met with his family over these past several days, it's evident that many are in the throes of recovery from surgery or illness or in the manifestation of a new condition in itself.

What's happened in this world? Why are so many people getting cancer, heart disease, and a wide array of other life-threatening illnesses? When I think of my own situation, I can hardly blame it on lifestyle or pesticides. I've spent a lifetime eating healthy, fresh foods, avoiding sugars, starches and now in the past 8 years, grains.

Of course, there's no easy answer. For many, illnesses may be age-related, lifestyle-related, environmental, and as in my case, genetic, the most difficult causal factor to change. 

As research, unbiased of course, not funded by Big Pharma, continues in many of these areas, "they" are discovering more on more on the role genetics play in our health throughout of lives. Perhaps, not in our lifetime, but down the road, more discoveries will be made to attempt to avert some of these seemingly inevitable scenarios.

On this topic...as each day passes, I begin to feel a little better. My cough is about 20% better than it was yesterday, now day 4 of antibiotics and Prednisone. I can't wait to be able to breathe more easily and sleep better at night.

Still, I remain grateful for the quality of care I had at the local Medexpress Clinic and of course, the reasonable fees of $189, plus the cost of the various medications that weren't too bad. They provided us with discount coupons for the meds! Amazing!

Next week on Wednesday when I see the cardiologist for my early one-year heart check, it will be much more expensive and we're bracing ourselves for that. Since my heart feels good, I see no reason for a plethora of tests.

As one of the worst patients on the planet, I tend to pick and choose what I feel is appropriate for me, not necessarily what the doctor may order. Many may disagree with this type of thinking but we each have to be our own advocates and do what we feel is right for us.

Taking drugs that cause me to be exhausted, in pain and feeling ill is not on the horizon for me. Quality of life is of the utmost importance and I continually strive to build and maintain such a lifestyle to enhance that possibility.

That's it for today, folks. Please stay tuned for more mundane updates on family matters. In nine days we'll be in Las Vegas certainly, there will be a few more photos ops and forms of entertainment to share with our readers.

May you be well, healthy and content.

Photo from one year ago today, November 19, 2018:
Kudus in the garden. It was always important to feed the animals during the dry summer months in South Africa, during a drought. Vegetation was at a minimum and they often depend on offerings from the visitors living in the bush. For more, please click here.

On the upswing...

Five years ago today, Tom got a kick out of this old Ford "woody" that was on display at the Maui Tropical Plantation. For more photos, please click here.
We had hoped to stay here through Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas to help Camille and Greg while she is going through chemo. Unfortunately, my severe allergy to cats (and they have one, Morty) has made it impossible for me to be at their home for very long, especially since I got this dreadful "cruise cough," yet to be resolved.

I'm hopeful today when last night I was able to sleep for about seven hours for the first time since our arrival ten days ago. I awoke five hours after taking Nyquil Cough, planning to stay awake another hour for another dose which can be repeated every six hours.  Miraculously, I fell back to sleep while waiting for the hour to pass.

The cough is a little better today, three days after the initial doses of cortisone and antibiotics, obviously both of which I needed. I'm hoping by the time we leave Minnesota in 10 days, this cough will be gone.

Today for several hours, we have some quiet time. Tom doesn't have to leave until 3:15 pm to pick up Vincent for this afternoon's planned activities which include a visit to a pinball place where most certainly they'll have a good time. 

This afternoon, my long-time dear friend Chere, a highly successful motivational speaker, is stopping by around 3:30 to visit for a few hours. Chere and I have stayed in close touch all these years of world travel. I'm looking forward to seeing her.

This time, with limitations on our time, we won't have an opportunity to see many of our friends. We're doing the best we can during this short three-week stay.

A short while ago, Tom got a call from his sister Colleen, that their sister Betty 
(a nun) had gone into the hospital overnight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for an unknown reason. Sister Beth had come here last week to see us. Due to my busy schedule, I was disappointed I never had a chance to see her. However, Tom spent time with her.

This morning, Tom called the convent trying to ascertain which hospital she is in and possibly receive information on her condition. He's awaiting a callback. Once he hears he'll provide the remainder of the family with an update of her condition, based on how much information he is able to get from the hospital or if she's able to talk, from her.

The remaining 10 days here in Minnesota will be busy. Tomorrow, Greg and I will go to lunch at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Uptown. On Wednesday Camille and I go shopping for Christmas gifts for the kids. I've agreed to help her wrap packages but will bring them back to Karen's house when I can no longer spend much time near the cat.

Wednesday night we're taking Karen and Rich out to dinner at Gianni's Restaurant in Wayzata, a favorite place of our from our old life with many romantic memories. This will be their first time dining there and we can only hope it will be as wonderful as it was years ago.

And it goes on and on with many things planned in the next 10 days. On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I'm going to a cardiac check-up at the Minnesota Heart Institute. I'd like to have this out of the way before we head to India. We're praying for a good result that my progression has been good and for now, I'm out of the woods. Of course, we'll report the results here.

Soon, I'll take off for the market. We need a few items and it will be fun for me to leisurely wander through a US grocery store on my own.

Please stay healthy and happy as we roll into the holiday season in the USA.
Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2018:
From left to right around the table:  Kathy, Janet, Steve, Don, Louise, Danie, Leon, Dawn, Uschi, Evan while Tom and I shared the end of the table.  Total in attendance: 12. For more photos, please click here.

Driving for the first time in almost 2½ years...Movie day with three kids...Cinema Grill...Six year ago photo...

Ironically, six years year ago today, we booked the hotel with our cruise ending in Boston, with the intent of visiting my father's gravesite and seeing family. This is my parent's wedding photo we posted one year ago on this date. For details of that date, please click here.
Was it really almost 2½ years ago that I actually drove a car? Yes, it was. I drove in Las Vegas in July 2017 when visiting my sister Susan almost everyday driving for an hour each way to her then home in North Las Vegas. 

Not the best driver on the planet, I never drove again after we left the US living in countries with left-handed manual transmissions on the opposite side of the road that we're used to.

On November 1st, she moved a half-hour closer to an assisted living facility, a long overdue and necessary situation for my dear sister's bedridden condition of chronic pain, inflammation and a myriad of other inflammatory based chronic conditions. Genetic makeup, our fate.

When we arrive in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving Day, on November 28th, at about 6:00 pm, we'll go out to dinner with son Richard to celebrate being together once again and the Thanksgiving holiday at a local Henderson/Green Valley Ranch restaurant, only minutes from his home.

The next day, we'll visit the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for our renewal driver's licenses to get one more necessary task out of the way during this USA visit. The next day, I'll drive to visit my sister Susan at her new place.

But, today, I finally drove when Camille loaned us her extra SUV they're trying to sell since she'd recently purchased a newer model. To me, the older model is very nice and modern and has everything I need. 

When we have to return the rental car on November 22nd, Camille suggested we keep using the extra SUV to save money on another rental for our remaining six days. We accepted the generous offer and will do so. 

In the interim, we have two cars which will come in handy over the next five days, as we each attend more separate activities with our respective families. With only 11 days until we depart for Las Vegas, we'll continue on the whirlwind of activity.

As it turned out, Karen and Rich insisted we join them for chicken dinner tonight at their home. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to have a home-cooked meal after eating out, often twice a day. Plus, we love spending time with the two of them.

This morning Tom joined Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent to do what is called the "Escape Room," an interactive game through a maze of rooms where participants have to figure out a series of clues and challenges to get through the rooms. Sounds fun. They had a good time.

On his way to the event at the Mall of America, he dropped me off at Camille and Greg's home since I'd planned to take the kids to the Cinema Grill in New Hope, a suburb of Minneapolis, not too far from their home. The movie theatre has special seating for ordering and eating meals and a decent bar menu. 

The kids ordered their meals, mostly burgers, and fries while I had a salad and we began watching the adorable movie, Abominable, an absolutely adorable animated kids movie. They loved the movie and not surprisingly, as a movie buff, I enjoyed it too.

The food service was slow and somewhat of a distraction while trying to order and eat but the four of us (me, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan) had a good time nonetheless, relishing our time together.

After the movie, we headed back to their home and I dropped off the kids, stopping inside to see how Camille was feeling after Thursday's chemo. She was rallying and feeling considerably better than she had when we stopped in last night on our way out with Tammy and Tracy. Busy. Very busy.

Last night's constant coughing kept me from sleeping plus taking Prednisone tends to keep me awake all night so I had only about three hours of sleep, awakening myself every hour for a coughing jag. The codeine cough medicine didn't work as well as Nyquil which I'll return to tonight. 

Right now, sleep will be the best remedy for me to turn the corner on this respiratory distress. No luck yet after two doses of antibiotics and Prednisone. Usually, by day 3 results will kick in. Hopefully, this happens tomorrow.

That's it for today, folks. We'll be back with the continuation of our hectic schedule. Please hang in there with us.

Have a happy Sunday wherever you may be.
Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2018:
Big Daddies, sharing pellets with each other and the zebras. For more photos, please click here.

Activity levels continue...Improving yet?...

From left to right beginning at Jacoby, Tom's grand-nephew; Vincent, our grandson; Kathy, Tom's niece, daughter of brother Jerome to her left; then Patty, Tom's sister at the right end of the table, then Tammy, Tom's daughter: Tracy, Tammy's partner; Colleen, Tom's sister and her husband Gene. Tom and I were seated and the end of the table and not seen in the photo.
I don't think we've been so busy each day since we began our travels seven years ago. The days are flying by but we're experiencing plenty of quality time with our families.

Yesterday afternoon, after posting we headed to Billy's Bar in Anoka, Minnesota, where we met up with three of Tom's sisters, Mary, Patty and Colleen and her husband Gene and grandson Jacoby. There was a total of seven of us. 

Happy hour begins at 3:30 PM each Friday at Billy's but the routine of the family's weekly visits is to arrive early at 3:00 pm, to ensure a good place to sit at a large enough table. We complied and arrived at 3:00 pm along with the others.

Frugal as a group, we all waited until the happy hour and sipped on tap water until we finally ordered our drinks. I was the only wine drinker at the table, while the remainder of the group had various types of beer while Jacoby drank soda.

As always the conversation among any gatherings of Tom's family members is filled with teasing, laughter and mostly light entertaining conversation...no politics, religion or sex but with an occasional smattering of teasing on those particular topics as well. Delightful, to say the least.

In a short period, we all ordered our dinners which proved to be quite a good bar menu with tasty freshly prepared meals. As usual, I ordered an equivalent of a grilled chicken chop salad with avocados and vegetables and was content. 

Tom was thrilled to order an authentic Rueben sandwich he hasn't had in a long while. Those ordered outside the US are not quite the same. We all enjoyed our meals and light banter. By 6:30 pm we were out the door to follow Mary to see hers and her husband Eugene's new townhouse (he was gone hunting, typical this time of year in MN). 

They'd recently sold the family home of many years and downsized to the townhouse, which was quite lovely in a handy location of Andover, with easy access to other family members, shopping and restaurants, all important to retired seniors.

We stayed at Mary's for an hour or more and later brought Patty back to her home in Blaine, a nearby town, saying goodnight and heading back to Karen's and Rich's home.

As has been the case over several evenings since we arrived in Minnesota, we changed into comfy clothes and joined Karen and Rich upstairs for lively chatter. Karen and I have been extremely close for many years and the conversation among the four of us often becomes introspective and vulnerable. 

The variances in the types of conversations with our family and friends generate an opportunity to explore many avenues of topics all in their own way, stimulating and fascinating. Keeping in mind, Tom and I have spent the past seven years together almost exclusively and conversing with those we love is extra special on many levels.

This morning at 10:00 am we arrived at Perkins for breakfast with Tammy, Tracy and Vincent and another 10 of Tom's family members for a group of 13. Once again we had a great time, chatting and carrying on. 

I finally had a chance to talk to grandson Vincent who will be 14 next month, who is now a head taller than me and quite an intelligent young man. Our conversation centered around his schooling and technology, one of my favorite conversations with the grandkids these days who have quite a handle on modern devices and apps. It's fun to see, although they often have their heads buried in their devices.

After we left from breakfast around noon, we headed back to Eden Prairie to stop at the Medexpress Clinic only a few minutes from Karen's house. Since they offered an additional 10 days of service at no charge for the same condition, I felt I could use another nebulizer treatment. 

After 24 hours on the cortisone, via an injection and dose of tablets, there hasn't been any improvement in my pulse oxygenation (pulse ox). The tests still showed I wasn't able to breathe deeply. I've still been coughing and having breathing problems. I met with a different doctor today and he suggested when I hadn't improved overnight to begin a five-day course of Z-Pack (antibiotics). 

I hesitated about taking antibiotics but he made a good case...with my recent open-heart surgery, it as too risky to ignore any possible bacteria which for quite sometime after heart surgery can be very dangerous, i.e. getting dental work or having other procedures and illnesses such as viruses, colds, and flu. 

I may not have pneumonia now but with the severity of my respiratory condition including asthma symptoms, proceeding with caution was the best course of action.

We drove across the street to Walgreens to fill the prescription for the Z-Pack and a bottle of cough medicine with codeine, and another bottle of Benedryl, a single pill of which is to be taken at bedtime with the cough medicine. This way I won't cough and sneeze all night and perhaps get some sleep. No more Nyquil for me.

Right now, as I write this it's almost 5:30 pm on Saturday. We're meeting up with Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent at Park Tavern Restaurant and Bowling alley at 9:00 pm for Cosmic bowling. Tom and I will go early and have dinner, stopping at Greg and Camille's home for a few minutes on the way to say hi and see how she's doing after yesterday's chemo.

It will be another late night, most likely not returning to Karen's until well after midnight. Tomorrow is yet another busy action-packed day. Nothing we're doing is strenuous for me and the doctor said I could continue to enjoy the festivities but to focus on getting better sleep at night. (Tonight, I won't be bowling instead, watching the others bowl).

We'll be back with more tomorrow. Please continue to stay with us with only 12 days until we head to warmer sunny Las Vegas where we'll spend 11 days visiting with more family, renewing our driver's licenses and applying for new four-year passports as mentioned in an earlier post. It will be another busy period in our USA visit, just as expected.

Be well. Be happy and please stop back to say hello.
Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2019:
Our resident monitor lizard came out of his hovel for a drink from the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

A long overdue confession...

Another photo from one year ago today in our garden in Marloth Park. This young bushbuck always stayed very close to her mom while others we've seen will wander off but not too far away. Please click here for more photos.
I don't even know where to begin. We always promised to be vulnerable and real in our posts and the past few weeks I've failed to be spot on. Today, I'll share exactly what has transpired and how we've dealt with the latest challenge, although not earth-shattering, it was enough to make us concerned. Here goes:
On day 5 of the transatlantic cruise, I noticed a small tickle in my throat. It wasn't specifically a sore throat. It was just a tiny tickle. I didn't give it much thought. 

The next night, day 6, I felt tired, dizzy and out of sorts. I went to happy hour with Tom but couldn't take a sip of my wine. I left and went off to bed in our cabin. Tom brought me grilled chicken breasts and steamed veggies from the cafeteria for dinner while I encouraged him to eat in the dining room and have a good time with other passengers.

I watched three free on-demand movies while picking at my food. My favorite was Godzilla. Go figure.

By 9:30 pm, Tom returned to the cabin for the evening and after a good night's sleep, I felt much better the next day, able to dine in the dining room for breakfast and dinner, post a new blog and carry on with our usual fun cruise activities throughout the day. The tickle in my throat continued.

By day 8, I lost my voice and started to cough...a cough from hell, dry, painful and disgusting to hear. I carried around piles of paper towels and tissues carefully covering my mouth when I had a painful bout of coughing which was more often than not.

Over the next few days, half of the cruise passengers were hacking. I was not alone. But, the worse part was I could hardly talk. Every time I attempted to say anything, I was propelled into an uncontrollable bout of coughing. It was difficult to be around. It was difficult not to be able to talk when cruising is all about lively conversations.

By the time we reach Minnesota, I felt like I was "coughing up a lung" during each awful session. I started taking Nyquil for coughing at night and at least I've been able to sleep for a few hours each night.

I didn't want to say anything about this here. After all, our dear readers have spent months reading about my health woes. I didn't want to burden any of you with more. It was bad enough, Tom has had to put up with me.

Most days, since we arrived in Minnesota a week ago, I've spent considerable time at son Greg's home with Camille and the three kids. On each occasion I found myself gasping for air. I knew why. I am grossly allergic to cats. And there adorable Morty was unwittingly a source of my breathing distress...asthma exacerbated by exposure to cat dander, a big no-no for me all of my life.

After a dreadful night last night, awake most of the night coughing, I decided it was time to get this dealt with, one way or another. At 9:00 am this morning we headed a few miles down the road to the MedExpress Care Eden Prairie, MN clinic, a walk-in urgent care center.

Of course, with all the wheezing sounds in my chest, I was concerned about pneumonia or even worse, congestive heart failure. Any recent cardiac patient would think of such things.

After a short wait, we were whisked inside an exam room and I had one of the best medical experiences of my life. The professional and proficient care included a chest x-ray, a breathing treatment, an injection of cortisone, and two prescriptions...one for a seven-day course of oral cortisone and another for an asthma inhaler.

I clapped my hands when the doctor came back into the room after the x-ray had been read by a radiologist at the local hospital to discover, I didn't have pneumonia and...the most exciting news...my heart and lungs looked great. Whew! I couldn't have been more thrilled.

The total bill for all the services including breathing treatment, doctor visit, x-ray, injection and two prescriptions (for which they provided coupons) was a grand total of $189! Not too bad considering we don't have any US health insurance.

I walked out the door smiling. Sure I am very disappointed I have to stay away from Morty but we'll just plan to do things with the kids, Greg and Camille away from their house. On Sunday at noon, I am picking them up for dinner and movie at the Cinema Grill, a movie theatre that offers full meals to eat during the movie. The kids love this.

Yesterday, we booked our flight to Las Vegas arriving on Thanksgiving evening(November 28th). Once we arrive at Richard's home in Henderson, we'll all go out for Thanksgiving dinner. This will be quite fun.

All and all I am looking forward to feeling better and have learned my lesson about being around cats. Today, we're headed to a local bar to have happy hour and snacks with Tom's sisters and their significant others.

Now, I can relax knowing I don't have some dreadful condition other than the annoyance of coughing every few minutes. Darn "cruise cough!" The clinic staff was amazing and so supportive. I couldn't have asked for more.

Gosh, just because we live this life of world travel doesn't mean we're exempt in any way from the challenges most people face at one point or another. We're very grateful we dodged yet another bullet. Life is good.

Happy day, dear readers. And please, take care of yourself!
Photo from one year ago today, November 15, 2019:
A pair of giraffes, each munching on opposite sides of the road. For more photos, please click here.

Challenges of life...Never easy...Often unexpected...

Last night, we took granddaughter Madighan to her weekly karate class. It was fun watching her and four boys in the same age group, learning the moves presented by Sensei Luiz.
Today, I spent the day at the cancer center at Park Nicollet Frauenshuh Cancer Center at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park with my daughter-in-law Camille. She has stage three colon cancer which we were apprised of a few months ago.

This heartbreaking news for the mother of three of our grandchildren and wife of son Greg had prompted us to come to Minnesota without an outgoing flight and a level of uncertainty as to how long we'd stay. 
Our original plan was to stay for two weeks but now we've extended it to three weeks based on circumstances and would have stayed longer except for the fact I am grossly allergic to cats which causes severe asthma. Greg and Camille have Morty, an adorable cat.

I am unable to spend more than a few hours at their house each day and thus, we've decided we'll be leaving Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day which is the best time to fly out to avoid the holiday rush on either end.

We feel sad to be leaving early but have no choice since I am hardly in a position to be having breathing problems at this point, or for that matter, at any point.

When we lived here seven years ago I'd only spend a few hours at their home while visiting. More often, they came to visit us or we did activities out and about. Now with winter fast approaching, snow on the ground and bitterly cold weather, outdoor activities aren't practical.

We're spending as much time as possible with the grandkids and their parents, enjoying everything we're doing together. Oftentimes, Tom and I are separated spending time with our respective families.

As for dear Camille, she is doing as well as anyone could under these dreadful circumstances. Her strength and attitude are exceptional, not surprisingly, and we have all the hope and anticipation she will recover from this frightening disease.

Her family and friends have lovingly and helpfully rallied around her and she is in good hands with lots of love, support, and prayers. I hadn't mentioned this in a prior post since I wanted to ensure she was comfortable with my doing so.

Today, while we spent several hours in the private chemo suite, we had a good chance to talk and she agreed that my writing about her condition would be fine especially since she'd posted a few comments on Facebook with periodic updates for her family and friends to see.

There are no words anyone can say to a cancer patient or their family to ease the worry and concern during this painful and difficult process. Having been faced with my own mortality this past year, made us both all the more compassionate and understanding of the emotional upheaval of dealing with a potentially life-threatening condition.  

Although we have to leave Minnesota, we'll be in close touch with Camille's progress and continue to pray for a positive outcome. She has a long way to go with her many upcoming treatments and eventual surgery but our thoughts will always be with her.

At the moment, I am sitting in a Perkins Restaurant working on today's post. At 4:45 pm, son Greg will pick me up to attend the bake sale at the kid's school for which we'd made tons of Rocky Road Bars we placed in pretty holiday tins for tonight's event. 

It was quite a job, putting together all those containers with over 200 bars but it's for a good cause for the Agamim Charter School fundraiser. We all got involved in the process and ultimately I made it through the hours of baking and standing on my feet. My only issue was the difficulty in breathing due to the cat.

Baking for hours was something I hadn't done since last Thanksgiving when I made eight pumpkin pies in the 102F (40C) heat and humidity in Marloth Park when I classified my day as a "Pumpkin Pie Hell." See the link here.

The awful heat had a huge impact on the made-from-scratch dough, almost impossible to roll in the awful weather but somehow I made it through the day. The pies didn't look as good as they tasted, so said our holiday dinner guests!

We would have loved to stay in Minnesota for Thanksgiving dinner but there were limited non-stop flights available and that particular day offered the best options. We'll arrive in Henderson, Nevada in the early evening and possibly go out for dinner thereafter.

That's it for today, folks! Tomorrow's another day.

Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2018:
This morning, Tom stood next to Ms. Bushbuck to prevent kudus from stealing her share of pellets. For more photos, please click here.

How does it feel being back in Minnesota?...

Today, it's snowing in Minneapolis and suburbs and the roads are slippery.
Many have asked, "How does it feel to be back home?"

The answer to this question is entangled with many emotions. We had a good life here in Minnesota. Tom was born in Minneapolis and I'd come to the state back in 1969 when my two sons were two years and an infant.

But, like all families, we each had our struggles, disappointments and tough times interspersed with the happy memories and milestones of our lives and the lives of our children, other family members, and friends.

Now, after being away for seven years, it feels very different and here. Today, I can only speak for myself. Tom can only decide for himself at this point for which he isn't quite certain.

It's not the same, for sure. Years ago when on occasion I traveled for business or pleasure, as the plane flew over the city, especially at night, I had a powerful sense of, "This is my happy place. This is my home."

When we flew over the city and suburbs on Friday night, other than joyful anticipation in seeing our family members, I didn't feel a moment of nostalgia or reminiscence. It was simply another big city we were flying over at night, some of which elicit enthusiasm and excitement and others, very little emotion at all.

When we've arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on our way to Marloth Park, I didn't feel a speck of joy. But, when we'd flown into the small facility, Mpumulanga/Nelspruit/Kruger Airport my heart was pounding in my chest with sheer joy and excitement. It's all relative. That's the way life is. That's the way our life is.

And soon, when we fly into Mumbai, India is a mere 50 days my heart will be aflutter with hope and expectations for two months of a purely profound cultural experience with a smidgen of wildlife tossed in the mix. (We're booking several days on tiger safaris).

But, is Minnesota still our home? If not, then where is the home of these two nomads who wander the earth, now seven years in the making? It's right here. It's there. It's everywhere.

The old adage, "Home is where the heart is," however corny that may sound is with a doubt a truism. For us, wherever we may be at any given moment is "home" and in our own peculiar way, we call it so over and over again. 

When we say after a long day of sightseeing or visiting with friends, "Shall we head for "home" honey?" "Do you feel like heading home?" We know what we mean and thus, the definition for us in this unusual life we lead is "home is down the road to that place where we lay our heads, cook our meals and find comfort in the activities of our daily lives and each other."

It's cold here now, mostly in the low 20's (-6.6C) and this morning sleet and snow is falling in thin sheets, leaving frosty trees, slippery roads, and walkways. I've yet to drive the rental car and suspect I may never in our remaining weeks in Minnesota.

We've decided we'll stay through Thanksgiving, then fly to Apache Junction, Arizona to our awaiting holiday home, unpack our belongings and then proceed to Nevada for a visit returning to Arizona a week or ten days later. We'll only take a small amount of luggage to Nevada and for the first time in a while, we'll be traveling light. Of course, posts will continue along the way.

Today, we wrapped up the paperwork and got it in the mail for our required visa for India. It's a complicated process that was weighing heavily on our minds. Now we can relax knowing the paperwork is in the mail. We'll receive the visa via email in several weeks.

Next, we need to process our "second passports" which enable us to apply for visas requiring we mail in our original passports to apply for visas. This prevents us from being in a foreign country without a valid passport in our possession.

Tonight, we're taking three of the grandchildren out to dinner after watching granddaughter Madighan at her karate class. 

A special thanks to our loyal readers for continuing to read our posts during this quiet time in our world travels. We appreciate each and every one of YOU!

We'll be back tomorrow with more, however quiet, however mundane, and however uneventful it may be.

Happy day!
Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2018:
This is my boy "Little".  He visits almost daily.  He'd just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor's driveway when they departed after the weekend.  That's why he has grass all over his snout.  He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets.  What a guy! For more photos, please click here.