Hunkered Down, but not Out!

3.30.2020

We have enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show at Home and he and his guests have been talking about how it is day 14 of their social distancing / quarantine. I can’t imagine. My pattern of life hasn’t changed, so far, even though life surely has changed. Chris and I are still working our regular shifts, so time away from work has been spent recovering from work or preparing for work.

This weekend was a little glimpse for me – I had a 4-day weekend. Chris just had a regular 2-day weekend so Friday and Monday were on my own. Friday night I had a virtual happy hour with some friends and Saturday night Chris and I played online games with Marissa via Zoom. Who heard of Zoom before two weeks ago?

This weekend we made homemade deliciousness, we ordered in to support a local restaurant, we exercised via computer trainers and we watched Netflix (Tiger King, just like everyone!). It felt like a weekend at home, but we didn’t get to see any family or friends IRL (in real life). I’m a social being, so that’s hard for me.

Dr. Elvis on Fox iHeart Radio Stars at Home concert

We watched the concert on Fox last night. It’s been hard to keep up with all the “at home” events and special things streamed; Broadway shows, piano and art lessons, meditation courses. I’m trying to pick and choose a few things that bring joy, as well as comfort during this crazy time. I know my book reading has suffered due to social media and news watching. Hopefully I can get a better balance going forward.

I wonder what our new normal will be like? What will we keep? What will we change?

3/18/2020

This is weird. Life feels surreal right now. A friend reminded me that my biggest worry a few weeks ago was our puppy somehow crawling on top of her crate. It’s already hard to remember what last week felt like.

Tonight I’m working my way through some TV shows on Hulu while I’m practicing social distancing. The latest episode of Will & Grace starts with Will sleeping on the couch with gloves on and sponges in his hand – he fell asleep deep cleaning their apartment. Not because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but because someone was coming over and he wanted to make a good impression. On This is Us, the Pearsons are gathered together having a multi-generational game night – something highly discouraged by the CDC and our emergency managers. I haven’t watched it yet, but I bet that everyone is at the office on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and they aren’t worried about the employees of small businesses. The toilet paper commercials just seem to be taunting us.

The toilet paper aisle at Target

No one on TV is worried about what will become of high school graduation and senior prom this year, or if and when the baseball season will begin. On TV, no borders are closed. No one had to cancel travel plans because Broadway shows or Las Vegas casinos or Florida beaches are closed.

So, what to do? I know that it’s important to slow the world down. I am trying to limit my news intake. It’s hard. Facebook is informing of business and services hours, freebies online, and updates from family and friends. My work email is filled with ever-changing updates. I’ve made a list of things that I want to do when I’m home – write letters, read books, create photo books, walk outside, do yoga, order take-out. My goal is to video call someone every day, because it is good to SEE people! I’m really thankful that I get to work with wonderful people, because if that was the only socialization I could get and it was miserable, then life would be miserable.

I’m journaling to remember this time and trying to be mindful and keep out some of the noisy chatter. It’s hard. I’m sure I’ll blog again to document this bizarre time we are all experiencing.

What are you doing for yourself and those around you?

National Love Your Pet Day

Murphy Jameson Guinness Brown Grimsrud Walsh

So it looks like we are petless during this National Love your Pet Day – this year – but we will have little Murphy in time for Walk Your Pet Day – Saturday! Chris couldn’t wait so he is meeting the family Saturday night! We have a few more nights of uninterrupted sleep and puppylessness, but we look forward to full hearts and the joyful Wheaten Greetin’!

Can’t wait to introduce you all to Murphy! ❤

The Sweeney Sisters

by Lian Dolan

Lian has done it again. Her first two books – “Helen of Pasadena” and “Elizabeth the First Wife” – were very enjoyable, light and fun. Her third novel – “The Sweeney Sisters” – feels more substantial but is just as readable and fun! Three sisters – as different as they can be, but as bonded as sisters are – cope with their famous father, loss after loss after loss and then an unexpected gain. I love that they are flawed but very likeable individuals. I love the real-ness of their emotions and their questions, their thoughts about what it means to have a famous father and his legacy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to get my hard copy when it releases in April (pre-ordered already!).

Thanks NetGalley for the Advanced Readers Copy! Thanks Lian for a wonderful book I can easily recommend to all!

2010-2019

The end of the year is a reflective time for me. I’ve seen other people summarize their decade succinctly – that’s not me. One word? Uff. But thanks to this very blog, it wasn’t hard to see what the last decade has been like for me.

2010

  • I started this blog! Walkietalkiebookclub.com was started in February of 2010 as a place to plan book club and discuss books. It started very bookish.
  • I started my yearly Ferragosto Vacation!
  • I started Cosmo Girls (conceived at the initial Ferragosto!)
  • What a creative year!

2011

  • I was released from my job as a school social worker after 18 years.
  • The last Harry Potter movie was released.
  • I began with readalongs and book blogging in earnest.
  • I read “Anna Karenina”
  • I saw Bruce Springsteen for the first time.
  • Our family traveled to Denver together

2012

  • I started working at Mayo Clinic on 1/30/12 – my reading game suffered greatly due to the increased need for brainpower!
  • I traveled to NYC – twice! In June and October! Broadway was calling!
  • I saw “Once” for the first and second times.
  • I started driving a 2-door Honda Civic – not my favorite
  • I saw Bruce Springsteen for the second time.

2013

  • Marissa got her bachelor’s degree and started her master’s degree, moving to Minneapolis!
  • I read “Gone with the Wind”!
  • I met Chris on 7/1/13 and we had many epic dates.
  • I traveled to NYC for my birthday again! Jimmy Fallon show!

2014

  • I went to NYC in January with Koni – walking tours and Broadway shows!
  • I got engaged on 7/7/14 and married on 10/1/14 – in NYC! #woohoowedo2014!
  • Marriage brought three stepchildren and our first grandgirl!

2015

  • Emma – our second grandgirl is born!
  • I became a MINI Cooper owner in March and we drove it all over Colorado in July – including up Pike’s Peak!
  • August is born in September!
  • Our birthdayversary is spent in the metro area and includes staying on a boat (Covington Inn) in St. Paul.
  • We saw “Once” – my THIRD time!

2016

  • We got passports – the world is open to us!
  • We went to Canada – twice! Once for an hour and once for a few days.
  • Marissa got engaged and Chris had jury duty
  • We took a road trip to New England (through Canada) and saw fall foliage and spent a few nights in NYC!
  • Mom and dad are both retired and move to Rochester

2017

  • We traveled to NH in a blizzard – our flight is cancelled so we rent a car and drive – so that we can honor Granny at her funeral.
  • Marissa and Adam are married in Cancun on Cinco de Mayo! Much celebration ahead of the wedding with a great week of family togetherness after!
  • Dad is diagnosed with cancer and receives treatments
  • Our birthdayversary is a train trip to Chicago to see Hamilton!
  • We bought our house together in June! Become landlords of the townhouse.

2018

  • We have a MILESTONE vacation with the family to celebrate 50th anniversary, 50th birthday, teenagers, 30 year old, and general awesomeness.
  • Marissa celebrates her 30th birthday in Disney! They announce that grandbaby #4 is on the way!
  • Juniper is born in October!
  • Mini Takes the States 2018 takes us on a 5900 mile road trip! We visit some family along the way and enjoy most of the minutes we are together in the car.
  • I turned 50 and threw a fiesta! We saw Hamilton in Minneapolis!
  • Deadra and I celebrated our birthdays and friendship with a Pack Up and Go trip to Seattle!

2019

  • I had cataract surgery
  • Chris changed jobs – twice!
  • We took two road trips – up-north in Wisconsin and up-north in Minnesota.
  • Cosmo Girls celebrated 10 years with a trip to Las Vegas! Very epic!
  • The townhouse is sold and we made our home cozy and welcoming for guests –
  • We hosted Chris’s dad and his friend Carol for a week in June! So fun…
  • We bought a Jeep! Snow tires or Topless – I love to drive it!

Some Things Change…

  • I’m married!
  • I have grandchildren!
  • I moved from a townhouse to a house!
  • I changed my job!
  • I rarely blog anymore!

Some Things are the Same…

  • I still love books and reading and book club!
  • I keep track of my books (you can see previous lists on the blog!)
  • I still love movies and keep track of what I see and love.
  • I still love theatre and musicals – It is a constant in every year!
  • I still love to travel – NYC is a favorite but seeing all parts of the country is wonderful. Looking forward to putting my passport to use!
  • I still love music and seeing live music – Every year brings great music into my life!
  • I still love being with my family and can’t get enough!
  • Ferragosto and Cosmo Girls are still going strong! To think that they started at the beginning of this decade…

Live music I saw in the 2010s…

Bruce Springsteen (x2) * Jeremy Messersmith (x2 or 3?) * Taylor Swift * Billy Joel * Paul McCartney * Glen Hanserd (x3) * Barenaked Ladies * Dwight Yokum * Sheryl Crow * Dan Chouinard * The Skivvies * The Swell Season * Needtobreathe * Trans Siberian Orchestra * Bon Jovi * Rick Springfield * I’m sure I forgot some… remind me!

The Stage – Broadway and beyond in the 2010s…

Once (x3) * Priscilla Queen of the Desert * Nice Work If you Can Get It * Peter and the Starcatcher (x2) * Newsies * Avenue Q * Forbidden Broadway * Cinderella (x2) * Matilda (x2) * A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder * Beautiful * It’s Only a Play * Fiddler on the Roof * If/Then * The Band’s Visit * Phantom of the Opera (x2) * Hamilton (x2) * Waitress * Almost Maine * Blood Brothers * Philadelphia Story * Don’t Hug Me * Bring It On * Our Town * The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee * Billy Elliot * On the Town * Book of Mormon! * I’m sure I forgot some… remind me!

Authors I’ve Met…

I love to meet an author and listen to them talk about writing. Here are a few authors I met in the last decade… Ann Bancroft * Lian Dolan * Jenna Blum * Paula McLain * Lorna Landvik * Liz Dolan and Sheila Dolan * Julie Kramer * Elizabeth Berg

What will the next 10 years bring???

Our 2019 in Song

A brief synopsis of our 2019, as told through our Spotify Playlist (Our 2019 in Song). 

I had cataract surgery on both eyes in March and April 2019, so I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW! It was the first time in my life I had an IV (age 50!), which was the freakiest part for me.  Otherwise it was uneventful and successful! 

Chris started a job search in earnest in 2019 and was hired in August for a regular 9 TO 5 job at the factory that makes Vanicream… it was nice to have him on a Monday-Friday schedule, but it was less than stimulating, so he kept looking. ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER and in mid-October he took a job at a truck sales and service company in Rochester and is working 4-midnight as a service advisor! He loves it and feels that all his life experience has led him here, so how cool is that? 

I still work at Mayo Clinic in the Emergency Department – it will be 8 years of WORKIN’ DAY AND NIGHT in January! I lead a supervision group for social workers working on their clinical licensure and enjoy that immensely. I also love my colleagues and this year a few of us on our team applied for Individual Achievement Awards through the Department of Nursing, acknowledging our involvement and expertise, and we were awarded with a beautiful night at the Mayowood Mansion with social work and nursing leadership. It was a great and memorable night. 

Our trips this year were mostly of the ROAD TRIPPIN’ variety. In June we travelled Up North from MINNESOTA, WI via a lot of backroads on the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail. We drove the 4Runner on ATV trails, stayed on Lake Superior in Ashland, WI and visited MADELINE ISLAND and Bayfield. The end of July, Chris’s dad and his friend Carol flew to Minnesota and we explored a bit of Minnesota with them!  We didn’t see THE BIGGEST BALL OF TWINE IN MINNESOTA, but many other sites – including the Eagle Center, the SPAM Museum, Lark Toys, French Lake and a paddleboat on the Mississippi!  Labor Day weekend we flew to Colorado for a wedding and we rented a fancy car and drove many roads in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN WAY. The weather was great and we had a wonderful time! In August we bought a new Jeep Wrangler for my winter travels – it is pretty luxurious! THINGS IN MY JEEP include heated steering wheel and seats and SXM radio! For our 5th Birthdayversary, we drove the Jeep Up North in Minnesota and stayed at Bluefin Resort on Lake Superior a few nights and explored the backroads with and without tour guides. We saw moose in our travels in Minnesota and Colorado this year (THE PLURAL OF MOOSE IS MOOSE)! 

I continue to be involved in BOOK CLUB and read more books in 2019 than I have in a long time.  I may have joined a second book club at the end of the year and continue to promote book club type reading at work! The Cosmo Girls are celebrating 10 years of monthly meetings this year and we celebrated in a big way with a trip to Las Vegas in October (VIVA LAS VEGAS!). We had an amazing time together and I cherish the friendships I’ve made with these wonderful women! We enjoyed the warm sunshine poolside, spent hours laughing and dancing and singing (TRUTH HURTS – but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!). 

We no longer get DEAR LANDLORD letters, as we sold the townhome last summer! Thankfully being a LANDLORD was relatively painless, but it was still a relief to have one less mortgage in our name. Consequently, we were able to make our CASTLE ON THE HILL a little more cozy and inviting for guests. We would love to have you come visit us in our HOME

Our KIDS and grandkids continue to bring us joy. We always enjoy family time – gotta KEEP THE FAMILY CLOSE, you know! Marissa, Adam, August (4) and Juniper (1) live in St. Louis Park and are busy busy busy! It’s hard to keep up with them – I wish you could bottle their energy! Sierra, Kaydee (8) and Emma (4) now spend most of their time in Austin with Sierra’s significant other, Zach, but still attend school in Rochester so we see them when we can. Sierra is expecting a new bundle of joy in February so we can’t wait to meet her! Kevin (21) loves to travel and do work on computers and Tyler and his wife are expecting their first any minute! For August’s birthday we went to CIRCUS Absynnia at the Children’s Theatre and for Kaydee’s birthday we saw CINDERELLA. What a treat to bring the kids to these events! 

THE SEASON’S UPON US when we gather with our families and revel in the season. The attached photos show the joy that we get from being with each other, from being with our family and friends, and from our travels. We hope that this letter finds you well, that you were SATISFIED with 2019, and that 2020 brings us all continued joy and happiness!

Book Club 2019

This winter has been one for the books – record books! It was a snowy January February and March in Minnesota. Our book club has committed to meeting monthly, on or around the 4th Monday of the month, and we have been accomplishing our goal nicely! Enter 2019. Every time we tried to schedule a book club gathering to discuss “Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse” there was a snow storm or a blizzard or some other arctic nastiness out there. So in February we had a Facebook Messenger book discussion – and it was fun! It was nice to be cozy at home and to talk about a book we all read. The only downside is that there’s no potluck meal or waitress to order your meal from when the discussion is over!

Our neighborhood, our trees

Facebook book club!

After our virtual meeting, we couldn’t decide on a book, so in March we gave Book Reports to each other! We all talked about what we had been reading lately and then swapped books with each other. It was a lot of fun to hear what people read, get ideas for our TBR piles and to bring home a new book to read! I took notes and posted them to our Facebook page (“Books books books”, appropriately) and now we are ready to read our Book Club in a bag from the Rochester Public Library – “Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother.” I’m hoping it inspires me to re-read “Little Women” before the updated movie comes out!

Book reports by all!

Book recommendations from my book recommendation!

I love book club night… How about you?

*What are you reading?
*What are your book club challenges?
*Do you have a favorite or memorable book club discussion?