Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Work has been fascinating these last few days...beginning to see the data from the first ever surveys conducted by media here in Rwanda and it was conducted, however poorly, by my teams. There is a total lack of research regarding product usage, branding, awareness or anything. Lots of issues with each study, but for the first ever project of this type in this country, I am mighty, mighty proud and the teams should be also.

Karibou (car-e-boo) means "welcome" in Kinyarwanda and Sawa, means, "sure." Slowly picking up some words and I am actually beginning to understand the gist of some conversations which are conducted in French. The last official language here was French. The government, literally over night, changed the official language to English. Think teaching school...texts in French, teachers fluent in the language and overnight, a whole country begins to learn another language. Think what would happen in the US if the government said the official language would be Spanish on Monday! Funny.

I just finished reading Mudbound, which is a wonderfully sad and emotionally wrenching book about the South, race relations, how we treat/ed our returning military and more. I highly recommend it! Now, reading a book by a Tanzanian woman who lived here in Kigali and wrote a book called Baking Cakes in Kigali. If you want to get a very good flavor for how things are done this one by Gaile Parkin.

Eddie and I have been fascinated by the huge retaining walls being built around the city. Photos coming when I learn how to upload from her camera to my computer. Groups of men are in the streets with huge piles of mammoth boulders and they hack and chop at these to make stones which will be set into the side of the hill. NO jack hammers. No machines...just hours and hours of back breaking work.

Flat Stanley, now renamed, Bite (Bit-A) and I have been very busy. While outside of the city, I cannot take photos of him with people...a bit shy and a bit nervous about folks stopping to shoot photos. Today, we went to Skol, a beer company and they are located way outside of town on the worst road ever...and we pull up to an actual building that looks like it would be perfectly situated in the USA or in Europe. NOT the typical building here. I accompanied one of the Blink Magazine guys on a couple of sales was a learning experience for Andrea (yup, HIS name is spelled this way but pronounced, Andre). tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Smiling and laughing...because I can

Today while driving to the one bank that actually has a working ATM machine, my driver and I passed a Rwandan mom with her youngster wrapped tightly on her back. The norm here. What isn't normal is for the kid to wave his arms about madly behind her and this was especially interesting because the woman had a table, propped top down on her head with the four legs facing the heavens. This table, being carried neatly on her head, with swinging child behind, had to have been three feet by five feet. This woman gracefully made her way down the street and I with NO camera. Eddie has lent me hers for the next few days and I will purchase another when I get stateside.

Another friend asked that I post a comment on my Facebook page indicating where, "I do it." Now, I put that "I do it on the kitchen counter." However, this is something that has to do with breast cancer awareness and the women in the know, know what is going on. My 20 year old son has sent me at least three Facebook messages and four or five email regarding "how uncomfortable" he is with my sexual statement. Tried to explain but I will be a better mother and make sure he/they have NO indication that someone my age might actually think periodically about sex. Forget doing it...just thinking about it makes him crawl.

And then, last night, I went out with a fun group of people, some Rwandan, some my age and some younger to a Quiz Night. This was incredibly fun and we debated questions on into the day today. One question: who created the parachute? Another: Who assassinated Archduke Ferdinand? And just how many continents are there? The Anglophones thought 7 and the Francophones, five. Proof arrived in my inbox early this morning from one of my colleagues. A fun evening with a group of people who were opinionated, experienced and resourceful. Had a great eggplan parmigiana with a couple glasses of wine and about four hours of laughing and learning.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I forgot to mention in the blog below that Eddie and I went to a coffee shop near the book store yesterday. It appeared upscale and one could order coffee or tea in tall or grande sizes like at StarBucks. I tried an African tea...they grow tea here but Eddie had mentioned that the tea was made with milk and fresh ginger, a spice I enjoy and cook with a lot. So, a big ole pot appeared, not a cup and it was soooo flavorful. Later, at the health club, where they offer free juices, I tried tree tomato juice. It is a small fruit and the juice was a tad tart so Eddie suggested I have the lady pouring add a bit of pineapple juice. Yummy. Eddie had watermelon juice. A nice treat after exercising.

Morning here and didn't sleep too well. We were at dinner at a friend's home and when I got back to Eddie's house, I found that I had somehow lost her house and gate keys. I cannot leave without locking the house, and the gate to get out of the compound must be opened or closed with the key. The gate is a huge metal affair that opens with a clicker OR a gate key. Lost mine. So, going to the health club with Eddie...praying I locate the one I lost. She isn't sure and I have no clue how we can make/obtain another set. Arghhhhh...been ages since I lost a key. Oh, and I left my camera at Ginny's. She is the woman who put her own car carrier on top of her SUV and she had spent this past weekend canning and putting up spaghetti sauce.

Do scroll down to see yesterday's photos.

The Global Village

I mentioned the other day that the US Embassy sponsored the young men who have an art studio and who launched their air magazine. We went on Saturday to see the studio and possibly purchase some art...Eddie already has several pieces created by these young, 21+ year old men. This mural was painted just outside the studio.
We had directions but we were a bit unclear where to go...and our first effort took us down this road, which is dirt, as you can see, but only about 1/4 off a main paved road. This little munchkin was in the road all by herself with not an adult or responsible person near by. After she got across the road, we passed by her very slowly and saw her run back out behind us again.
At the art studio, we saw some young Rwandan kids practicing their dance routines outside. Boys were drumming, the young man in the blue shirt was dancing with his wooden spear and shield and there were a row of young kids sitting near by chanting a son. The young men who are owners of Ivuka Arts are also artists and sponsor groups like this to encourage young creative children to participate in the arts. Very impressive art and young men.

There is a row of shops called Koplaki and we were shopping in them. Eddie took my photo with this owner/artisan who had, as you can see all types of goods to sell. Negotiating is important. Nothing is sold at the price offered. Eddie found a wonderful, old fetish, which she would have bought, but the owner said $250. and how do you come down from that?
Travelling here is way easier than in Honduras. We pulled up behind this group and just had to show you how group travel, Rwandan style is often handled. There were at least 20 young men in the back of this Toyota pick up. Sadly, we couldn't pass to get a front shot but had to love it.
Today was a special day of relaxation. Eddie goes to the Serena Hotel's gym/spa to exercise and today, I went with her. Wasn't sure how one could spend three or four hours at a gym...but I have it now!! We exercised, did some weights, went to the wet sauna, dry sauna (with a cold shower in between each event), into the hot tub and back to do it all over again. Very very restful. And for me, only $20 for the whole time. We went outside near the pool and ate lunch and then, hit one of the shops to see if there was anything we couldn't live without. I bought a Christmas gift or two and Eddie bought a gorgeous "cow horn" bracelet. A perfect day and we will top it off with dinner at one of Eddie's friend's home tonight.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Various and sundry topics....

JP (Jean Pierre) and I had a driver issue the other day, so walked to the Hotel Laica to get a coffee while awaiting our transport. I saw this map and liked it...have sent it to my class in Alabama. I liked that you could see the size, Kigali, the capital but also the surrounding countries. I was reminded that when I heard I might go to Tajikistan, I had to go find out where it was and who its neighbors were.

I wrote about Stanley below but here he is with the crew of ISHEMA, a tiny newspaper here in Kigali. The man on the far left is Jean Pierre, the young man I work with most directly here at IREX, and about whom I made mention above. Fidele, the guy holding Stanley and the paper is the owner of this irregularly printed newspaper along side his two staff. Yup...three people running a small paper trying to make a difference. This paper is printed in Kinyarwanda, the language of the people.

Stanley seen here again is travelling and reporting in our experiences to my cousin's grandson's class in Madison, Alabama. When I went out walking the other day at the crack of dawn, he literally escaped my hand and landed here...guess HE didn't want to walk with me....or at least not that early in the morning!

I was out for a power walk a bit earlier this morning and had the best time checking things out, as usual. Passing folks is always fun and when I greet people they smile the widest smiles. Found a Seven/Eleven corner store...spelled out that way. Closed, I might add.

Went out with Eddie and a few other folks to dinner at Zaffron, an Indian restaurant here in Kigali. Very inexpensive and delicious. We ordered five dishes, some vegetarian and some meat and shared. Yummy. Eddie's home is in the section of town called Kacyiru (Ka-chee-ru) and is very lovely indeed. All walled, gated compounds with lots of flowers, chirping birds and most recently, Eddie had a civet hanging around the yard. He appears to be gone...would have loved to see that.

Saw new territory this morning and enjoyed seeing folks out working on the grounds, picking up trash in the streets for Umuganda, the governmentally mandated community service work day scheduled the last Saturday of every month. When I passed, I waved and they laughed and said something, including Muzungu, which means white person. I laughed, waived my finger at them like I knew what they had said about me and they broke up.

An Art Magazine was launched here the other night and Eddie and I went. Great fun. Met the neatest folks and interestingly, one of the guys I am working with at BLINK, an entertainment magazine went, but not to cover the event, which would have made sense to ME. Nope, he went after the event for drinks and watched the art exhibits being taken down. I thought it a missed news opportunity...he didn't see it that way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flat Stanley and I

So, I have been writing to my classroom in Alabama. Justin, the boy who suggested me for a travel companion with his Stanley is the son of my cousin's daughter. Never knew their last name and the mystery of how Stanley found me is now resolved. Stanley accompanied me on my walk this morning and hopped out to lie in some leaves...he was NOT walking at 6:15 a.m. He then involved himself in some high level conversations with staff from Ishema newspaper which you will also see here. Given that Stanley lives in Alabama, he was seriously groaning as I discussed the conversation posted just a bit earlier today...scroll down to read/see it. Liking have a little man travel with I can fold up and stick in my purse and forget!! Photos are not loading...will try again later.

Rwanda and race relations....

I made mention of the Rwandan genocide during my last visit here and there has been a focus on healing and repairing relationships within this country over the past years. That was a horrid time in Rwanda's history and everyone has at least one member of his or her family that is maimed or who died at the hands of these butchers. The genocide was a black on black, ethnic cleansing and very unlike our own history of racial hatred. From my experiences here, the black on white relationships APPEAR to be amicable. But, I felt my whiteness and my culture this morning, deeply and quickly, when I saw, "NIGGA" across the top front of a mini-bus in letters about a foot high. My first thought was, "OMG does that mean what it sounds like?"

I thought about it for a moment, and asked two of the men I work with here what that word meant in Kinyarwanda, their local language, saying the word carefully. Both laughed and said, "niggah, like you use." We talked about it a bit and they indicated that they were offended by the word painted on the bus but said it is used widely here but only between good friends. Both said I could NOT say that. NO problem. I wouldn't!

Now, if it is that bad, and not publically used, how can one paint it in letters a foot high across the front of a vehicle? They thought that I would ask that rather funny. You see, Rwandans think we Americans have "freedom of speech." Consider what the impact of something like that written on a bus in a capitol city in the United States and the ramifications. Wouldn't that cause a riot? HMMMMM????

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The trip, as usual, was long and arduous. NO sleep does not a happy woman make. Also, as usual, my suitcase was the last off the plane but the good news arrived and none of the electronic equipment I brought along for the IREX staff was stolen out of my suitcase. Just before we landed an announcement was made that all plastic bags would be taken out of the luggage and anything in a plastic bag would be taken at immigration. So, any duty free purchases better be hand carried or put in the carry on luggage. People were freaking out...folks didn't know that Rwanda has gone plastic free for environmental reasons.

Woke up every two hours last night...just hearing an absence of noises that I am used to and hearing new ones that I, again must become comfortable with. Power issues last night and internet connectivity issues but all eventually resolved nicely. Woke up to roosters crowing and some animal caterwaling about who knows what...maybe mating season or something.

Off to the office shortly and looking forward to re-connecting with the five media teams I worked with earlier. It will be very interesting to see how far they have advanced since last I was here. All should have completed their marketing surveys which we worked on last time.

Oh, and today, I must find some adventures for "Flat Stanley" who has travelled with me to Kigali. I anticipate that he will be adorned soon in African garb and will be playing some African music for the kids in Madison, Alabama who sent him to me.

More soon....oh, and there was a lady sitting behind me from Brussels to Kigali and a man joined her half way through the trip. They babbled on and on but I was smiling as I heard their use of "ehhhhh" a sound that works for "OK, what more?, and, sure and neat." Memories.

I also sat across the aisle from a family consisting of mom, dad and two kids, maybe five and three. I groaned thinking of a ten hour flight with munchkins crying, whining, yattering and these kids were the best behaved children and the most inquisitive. NOT one whine...but many, many questions like, "what is the difference between air and space?" The little boy had asked if we were in space or not. His mom suggested we were in the air. Which led to his very intelligent question about the difference...she stuttered, groaned and daddy answered quite sweetly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Corrections and conversations.....

The World Cup shirt Kenz was wearing in yesterday's blog is NOT a knock off...the real S. African thing. Apologies!!

Heidi and I took Chase to school this morning and the conversation on the ride was over inappropriate behavior on the playground. What CAN a five year old do wrong, one might ask? Well, Chase and his best friend, Elizabeth are kissing on the playground and that is just not to be done. Heidi suggested he might do that at home, if needed and Chase thought that might be a bit embarrassing. NOT embarrassing to kiss on the playground? Elizabeth's mom, Sarah, also told us yesterday that she would have that same conversation at her house. Wouldn't it be fun to get a note home from the kindergarten teacher indicating your five year old was involved in such activities. I mean, does that go in your school record?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Leaving for Rwanda and other tidbits

I know I tell you all often that I am truly blessed in many many ways. My neighbors in Florida are sending our mail to Heidi's house, here in Michigan every few weeks. Today, I opened my mail and inside was this little paper fellow named, Flat Stanley. Apparently there is a children's book by that name, and I was chosen (I have no clue how) to have Stanley experience my life and travels. Since leaving his mail box, he made Oreo Cookies with me and my grandkids and this young man above is my oldest grandson, Logan who had Stanley near a fountain at Taboon, a Lebanese restaurant here in Flint.

The young lady on the left is Kenz, my grandaughter and a best friend, Jenna. They shared their dinners with Stanley and do note Kenz' World Cup t-shirt. She is getting a new one that isn't a knock off and which came directly from S. Africa and the games. Will get those when I get to Rwanda.
Here are Kenz, Jenna and one of our youngest grandkids, Chase as we made the cookies which are from a neighbor's recipe given to me last week in Caseville.
I spent a lot of the day driving here and there and as I came home this evening, I realized I had left my driver's license in my purse in the closet in Caseville. I wasn't going to need it in Rwanda so left it home, forgetting that I am driving to and from the airport in Detroit. Oh well.....
Getting ready for this trip has been a bit frenetic. My clothes are all in Florida so all I have are the ones I wore in Ethiopia. Weather, climate, roads and working conditions are all different. Should be a hoot. I do have two pair of new closed toe shoes to take and an umbrella....what more could one want?
My friend, Lois, brought me a good book to read while gone and picked up a bag of ones she had loaned me earlier. The day was full so she met us at the restaurant and did a drive by, drop visit but good to see her even for a moment.
Our home addition has stalled and I have been a nag...nothing was done this whole past week and we don't have our new heater in the house and it dipped down into the high 30's at night and was cold and rainy. No heat in a cold house is not good...and our wood was all wet so Richard didn't want to crank up the wood burner.
Find me here again more regularly....been watching the beans grow, pumpkins ripen and the leaves change. Fall is here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home from the Mayo Clinic

Hmmm...these three tiny photos came to me from Heidi's cell phone and are very difficult to see. The first is looking down into a park area at the Mayo Clinic...8 floors down. The small silver item is a medal from Lourdes, France given to Heidi by Kristin's mother in law, Betty to guard over and protect Heidi. Lourdes, we Catholics believe is the site of many a miracle. Very special, and again, an indication that many many people have supported and cared for and about my "little girl."

Kenz, my 15 year old talented grandaughter, who is incredibly thoughtful and caring, made her mother a book which we placed on the end table in our hotel room so we could see photos of family and read and re-read Kenz's thoughts, and prayers for her mother.

I am sure I knew that the Mississippi went as far north as LaCrosse, Wisconsin, but very funny to pass over it. I think Mississippi and the south. Heidi was the photographer and she takes even worse photos than I! I know. Hard to believe. She was taking them through the that is our excuse.

A land formation near the Wisconsin Dells, which I am now going to go visit one day. Lots of nature trails, campgrounds and hiking areas topped off by a million indoor water parks for kid/family enjoyment.

Another view of the Mississippi from the car. Gorgeous scenery. Oh, we found out that the big corn we took a photo of the other day in Rochester is a water tower, connected to the Seneca canning factory, where the Libby brand vegetables are canned.

We enjoyed/tolerated the tollway collection processes alot. Coming home we encountered a tiny Asian man staffing a booth who said, "How are you sweetie?" I responded, "super." And his comment? "Then be!" Very funny. This was followed quite quickly with a booth, not staffed by anyone with no amount owed posted before it. I was in the cash lane, expecting the normal toll attendant. NOT. So, I was confronted with a machine which did not want to eat my money but THAT wasn't the worst problem...I was too far away, had to open the door, hang out of the car and cajole the machine. Heidi was laughing her ass off.
Heidi learned quite a bit about her mother during this trip. She determined I blow my nose every time I use the bathroom; I have "semi-truck anxiety" which is obvious when I am sandwiched in between two huge semis going 75+ miles per hour. This can and is made worse when this occurs driving over very large high bridges as we encountered going over the Mississippi River. I don't like the sandwich deal and really, really dislike heights and bridges. Again...laughing her ass off at me.
Those of you who know me well tend to agree that I am a bit finicky about the English language and how it is used. I did teach English! Anyway, every now and again I would use a word, like "oniony" and Heidi would ask, "Is that a word?" Again, laughing her ass off at me. Just not fair.

Chris just told us that several people called to assure him and Heidi that they care about her because I had mentioned in my blog that "no one had called." This comment was NOT in reference to Heidi's or our experiences. I was referring to a woman we met with a large family and friend network and she was bemoaning the lack of caring and that no one was checking on her or calling her. That has NOT been our experience. Our whole family network, including neighbors, and friends of our kids' and grandkids', former co-workers, my former staff and more have been so involved, so concerned and so supportive of Heidi's journey. We are very thankful that this other woman's experience has NOT been our experience and I felt badly for her. If I was not clear on this point before, I apologize. We are blessed and we know that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On our way home....

We laughed a lot during this Mayo Clinic experience. Yesterday, Heidi had a neurologist who told her "to get undressed to her bra and panties, climb in bed, cover up so you can stay nice and warm and I will be there in a minute." She had time to think about what he was going to do when he returned! And as she left, after having electrical charges and pokes...he said, "hope you got a charge out of this!" We found it interesting that techs did not do the testing...neurologists, sometimes in groups of two and three handled all of the testing, observations and note taking.

I had hoped to get up to see my cousin, Lance and his family this weekend but we decided to just head on home. Emotionally and, for Heidi, physically draining experience. We are both exhausted but very very hopeful. And so...we hit the road and will look forward to our return here to the Mayo Clinic in November.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mayo People...

This place is staffed with an incredible number of volunteers. We walked out of one elevator on our way somewhere new and we obviously looked lost...a man approached and directed us quickly to our elevator. Another volunteer quickly scooped up Heidi's dropped napkin and she said she could reuse it...he waved her hand away and ran and got her another.

And we met Laura, a woman with symptoms that mimic Heidi's in many ways. She has a brain tumor and is facing possible brain surgery and the tumor is located in a section of her brain that could erase all speech and memory. She has four children and is trying to imagine waking up from a surgery where she wouldn't recognize or remember her husband or her kids. Heidi and I are meeting people who are in worse shape and handling these situations with humor, tears and a level of cheerfulness that we have to admire.

And then, we met "Big John." Big John was a huge man in a wheelchair, wearing sunglasses and trying very hard to hit on pretty young women. He finally made it over to Heidi and sucked up to her....she mentioned that she is happily married (note the huge rock on her finger!) with three kids. Big John has a last name but he had asked the desk secretary to notify the staff that they were not to use his last name....they could call him Big John and they did call for him to go for his test this way!

We heard one young man who had just finished his EMG talking to his father. Dad asked how it went and the young man indicated he had puked his guts out...worse than chemo. Heidi was going in for that test in a half hour. Guy looked pale and wiped out.

Another young man was asked to go in for his test and he was holding his dad's hand (kid was about 16). The nurse looked at him and asked if he would like his father to accompany him and the young man said, "pleeeassseee." It was the longest, most heartfelt word I have ever heard and filled with so much emotion...I teared up which I find I am doing quite a bit here. We never know how lucky we are until we look carefully around us. We are truly blessed.

One woman told me that despite a huge family and 10 friends on her friends list in her phone directory that not one person had called to see how she was doing or to wish her well...again, what can you say, except, "I care and good luck?"

The Mayo Clinic

The Plummer Building here was part of the original Mayo Clinic and is gorgeous...has a huge library, carrillon and incredible architecture. Going to go on a tour tomorrow, if I can.

And throughout the Mayo buildings are incredibly wonderful art exhibits. This hand blown glass arrangement is about 200 ft. above the subway level in the Mayo Building. One walks around scanning up, down, and around to see art from Morrocco, Egypt, South America....modern, contemporary, and art from the White House.
This unusual duck was sitting in the cafeteria and no clue what its significance was/is.

Heidi preparing for her first test of the day. We began at 6 a.m. and finished at 4 p.m. Because it was required, Heidi could only sleep four hours last night...we were both exhausted beyond belief but Heidi underwent hours of pushing, prodding, electrical stimulation and painful nerve stimulation. She held up well and we are both counting down til bedtime. Hoping and praying for results tomorrow.
Had a super conversation with Yvonne, a staff person at the Mayo Clinic/Gonda Building and she gave me a ton of information regarding the quality of staff, how they recruit, set expectations, and more. An example...a mother had to leave her daughter outside in the waiting room while her father parked the car. McKenna, the girl, sat with Heidi and me and the mom, Laura, went in for her testing. About 20 minutes later, with McKenna still with us, the doctor came out to check to see how McKenna was doing. Think about this...even if the mom asked a doctor to go check on her kid in the US, would he? The compassion shown in every way, every day, at every level here is amazing and awesome to see.
We get to sleep in tomorrow and I am hoping we can go see one or two things before our results meeting with the neurologists in the afternoon and then, we will see what is next on the agenda. Going to see my cousin, Lance and his wife this weekend for a side trip and to spend some time with family. Been ages and we should be able to see some new scenery. Right now...we have been limited to hospitals and the hotel. Oh, we did get Chinese take out last night and ate those leftovers for dinner tonight. We had NO energy to look for or make anything else.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Mayo Clinic experience....

Now, I cannot explain the importance of Minnesota as the hotbed of all things farming. This big ole corn cob is located quite near our hotel. Not sure what it is...water tower, a piece of farm art, a radio tower....who knows?
This is our hotel room below...we have a small kitchen, bathroom outside of the bedroom, and below a very nice sitting room with a recliner, dining room table, two TVs and very convenient. Nothing is beautiful but everything is clean and comfy. Beds are wonderful. At first, I thought it odd that the bathroom is outside of the bedroom, but it became clear that someone smarter than I had a plan. Heidi takes a nap and I can use the bathroom without disturbing her. I can close the bedroom off, watch TV, read, or talk on the phone and she can rest.

Keep going...more below
Curtains are ticky-tacky and probably the worst feature. However, we decided we aren't here for the drapes!

The artwork, statues and displays found all around the Mayo campus is relaxing and very lovely. One example here and below, we were looking down from the lobby level to the subway level. Note the outdoor garden. Everything is wide open, clean and to us, quite amazing.

Keep going...more below!

The Mayo experience is totally awesome. I knew this would be a huge, state of the art facility but I didn't understand how huge the campus is and what a machine this system is.

From the moment the shuttle bus arrives, we are greeted, directed, assisted and made to feel welcome and special. Heidi's first doctor's appointment took more than an hour...with an MD who asked questions and listened to the answers. Every appointment ran on time and within two hours, we had a complete print out of all appointments through Friday afternoon, along with preparations for each exam, what to wear, eat or drink. This afternoon after we went back for an appointment which was in another building a couple of blocks away, I took Heidi to the appointment in a wheelchair. Think a "normal" hospital allowing you to take their wheelchair out of the hospital and down city streets. Not one person asked us where we were going....this behaviour is just the norm and expected.

Interesting to me are the TV news shows. They talk about the price of corn, wheat, milk, and more. And allergies must be a biggy because each station has an allergy index. This morning, there was a county fair queen milking a cow! News? The farms we drove past were incredibly large as we passed through Wisconsin and into Minnesota. I haven't seen that many before with six silos and ten out buildings. These were farm compounds with equipment that we thought would take a full time person to keep running. I realize my farm experiences and knowledge of operations are quite limited. I'm OK with that limited info also.
There are a fair number of Muslims here and, this morning, while waiting for the shuttle, an older man launched into a diatribe against Somalis and the immigration of Muslims into our country. Then, later today, there were two young women, scarved and covered in their burkas, sitting alone and an older man and woman were talking about them and sneering. I really wanted to bitch slap them. Ummm...we have a constitutional right to worship however we please which is not the case elsewhere. Thankfully, our military are fighting to uphold our Constitution so that we all can continue enjoying these freedoms. Loved the news segment where the reporter asked the minister who is going to burn the Quran on 9/11, "What would Jesus Christ say to this?" The minister thought...Jesus would be OK with it. Hmmm...
p.s. Sorry. This is not a venue for preaching. I dislike bigotry and hatred.

We went to two of the Mayo buildings today and will be visiting others tomorrow. Many laughs and much to see.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Laughing more....

The TomTom called me "ass wipe" today. Heidi was telling Kristin that I laugh when this voice says ugly things to me but if she called me those names, I would blow up. And speaking of daughter pointed out yesterday that folks in the hallway could hear me blowing my nose when I was on the toilet. They literally stopped, thinking I had farted. Today, while taking a break, I again blew my nose. I didn't realize that I do this EVERY time I go to the bathroom. What DOES that say about me? Leaking at both ends??

We had a ball on the toll road in Illinois. The signage before the toll booths had the amounts duct taped over. At one point, the sign just before the booth said .60 so Heidi dug that out of the "wad" of coins I gave her. Before we went 100 feet, the rate had increased to .80 and then, in a blink, a $1.00 Toll scamming in Illinois!! I mention "wad" because apparently one might have a wad of dollar bills but it is not remotely possible to have a wad of coins...Heidi says so.

You may have seen the numerous news programs investigating and reporting on hotel bed bug infestations. We had a super good laugh when Heidi hopped in bed yesterday for her afternoon nap and as she laid down, I asked if she had checked yet for bed bugs? She hopped up and we both checked it out...did the same today when we got to Rochester.

And we have enjoyed signage along the way...what does "engine braking prohibited" mean? Another proclaimed "vehicle noise ordinaces enforced." this to outlaw Harleys or something? If a car backfires, can I be ticketed? And while I have heard of the Wisconsin Dells and want to see this at some point...exactly what is a "dell?" We have words to look up. Another oddity here in Minnesota is the signage announcing the county road number on the highway. So, going W on 90 and below us is County Road 7. Why do I want to know that because there is NO way to get down to it. No exit, no path, no lane. Of what use is it to the person above on the overpass?

The wind gusts today are up to 50mph. As we packed our car this morning, I dropped the room key. No problem, we would pick it up when we went back. The key card blew in one direction and the card holder in another....people watching must have died laughing. Heidi is gimping along and my leg is killing me and we are both trying to catch these pieces of nothing.

Did I mention that Heidi's favorite show these days is Bachelor Pad? This inane show was on for two hours last night and the ludicrous conversations and strategic leveraging of relationships was definitely interesting if you happened to be a Martian trying to figure out human interactions. For real folks...the ultimate in mind numbing.

We have arrived at our hotel and it is quite nice...large sitting area, quiet bedroom with a door blocking the sleep area from the living/kitchen area. We have a full sized fridge, toaster, coffee pot, microwave and the kitchen is stocked with real dishes, glasses and silverware. I had packed paper and plastic but all we need is dish soap and we are good. I brought laundry soap but had no idea we would have the real thing here. Breakfast is included and a full hot meal so we will make sandwiches and quick dinners and lunches. The Mayo Shuttle pulled up as we parked and we can take that in and back every day...saves us a $12 per day parking fee. Heidi is sleeping now....shush!

Laughing while travelling....

Heidi and I are on the road again today and will reach Rochester tonight. Right this moment she announced she needed a "movement," hopped right up and took her computer with her into the bathroom. Is that like talking to someone on your cell while using the toilet? Hmmm?? I have done the cell in the bathroom but I have not taken my computer with me. My men read in the bathroom and I guess the computer is similar.

Driving through Chicago on a holiday was not pretty...way too much traffic for me these days and Heidi reminded me of how much I loved driving the Long Island Expressway every day into Manhattan from Wantaugh where we lived...I must have been nuts. NO, just young. We had several close calls with people driving like nutsos, passing and almost shearing off the right or left front bumper. I was pretty tense and had to shake out my hands and arms...which was funny, because Heidi does that also. Quite a pair.

This trip will be a tough one for us...lots of together time and we are independent women. But it is also a time to enjoy each other and see things through each other's eyes. People watching, we both love. This morning, there was a very obese man sitting at the table next to us at the hotel, as we ate. This guy had on a wife beater undershirt, suspenders holding up his holey sweat pants and he drank his cereal. Now, we saw more of someone's body, fat body than anyone not related to or sleeping with him should see. NOT pretty. The woman with him was dressed'd think she could assist him with his clothing choices. Oh, that doesn't even work for me and mine.

We have had several run ins with the southern voice on our TomTom. He called me a "butt munch" for missing my turn. Folks in Chicago seem to know where they are going and signage is clearly mounted for those knowing the ins and outs of the city. For outsiders, it would seem that the DOT people could give a get in the left lane cuz the road is going to drop off...right here! Only missed one turn and then, to be called "butt munch" by the machine just made me cry laughing!

The adventure continues.....

Monday, September 6, 2010


...are of various types but a story untold has seduced me and so, here it is! About four months ago, my son indicated he needed/wanted to purchase a gift for our neighbor, his best friend, who is serving in the Marines in Afghanistan. Now, the "kid" wanted money for this purchase but I suggested I go with him and so, we went to Seductions. This is a lingerie and sex toy store on US 41. Alex was a bit upset that I was not only driving him...I intended to enter the store. We parked in back but then, had to walk out onto the main drag which concerned him. What IF someone drove by and saw us?

I was told to hang back and Alex asked the young woman if she had any "fleshlights?" She asked, "why would you come here for a flashlight?" She had NO clue. He very carefully explained what he was looking for and she pointed us back to the wing that held the sex toys! Keep in mind...momma is walking five steps behind him!

We arrived and Alex asked for the device and the sales person pointed but suggested that rather than purchasing the "fleshlight" there were some lower cost models that worked as well or better. He then asked if he could help me? I said, "no, I am with my son." Son puked...and man kinda sure, he is your son, knowing that I was a dirty old lady with some young hunk. Alex said, "MOM!" And the man took a step back realizing, I was the MOM.

We went to check out the devices...they are rubber/plastic vaginas for use by men who don't have access to a woman. Get it...guys in Afghanistan! And so, we were invited to "try" the device, which really made Alex green. We found one we (read that Alex) liked and we went to purchase it. Oops, we needed "lubricant" said the sales man to enhance the experience. Alex turned green and the man gave us a bunch of sample packets to take....we explained this was to be sent to a young military guy based in Afghanistan so he threw them in for free!

We wrapped this gift and mailed it along with the lubes and with some candy to our Bud but the package went missing and so, the story went untold....until now. He is leaving Afghanistan and had his "package" happily in hand.

I was reminded of this story today when Heidi and I, on our way to the Mayo Clinic, passed Climax, a city on our way. Had to chuckle and was reminded anew of how seductive seductions can and should be....and then, my mind turned to our Bud and to the men and women who serve and defend the freedoms and the Constitution which affords us, the often seductive lives we live. I am thankful for all I have and for all who have touched my life.

By the way, neither of us tried the "fleshlight" and we did wonder if the package would get to our Bud without being used. Guess the US postal service and the US government gotter done.