Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grandparenting Adventures

Today my younger daughter and I spent a lot of time shopping for a new granddaughter expected in early June. Since the youngest grandchild now is 10 years old, we had a lot of shopping to do! We got the crib and mattress from Target plus clothing items, hangers, and a bathtub.We went to a consignment shop called Once Upon a Child and got a swing and more clothing. My daughter's work colleagues are handing down a stroller and a car seat. All that is needed yet for "survival" is a diaper container (for the yucky ones) and a pad for the changing table. This coming week is my daugher's spring break from her school job so she has time now to get this all organized. My daughter received some brand new "hand me downs" even with the store tags on them from a friend. That baby never wore this clothing because she got too big too quickly. I have a feeling this expected baby will never wear some of these items either, for newborn size is to fit 5-8 lb. babies and I think this baby will arrive a quite close to 8 lbs!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Adventure with Gratification

Today at work we had a poster session event honoring our first group of DNPs who will soon be graduating. DNP means Doctor of Nurse Practice, but the speaker said DNP really means Do Not Provoke! My first advisee did a great project bring health education about diabetes to Hispanic migrant workers. I'm just so very proud of her work. She told me the greatest thing. Early in the program she was trying to decide between two projects. I wasn't at all crazy about the second option, but hey! it's her project. I told her to follow her passion because it would be so much work and she really needed to care about the project and its outcomes. Today she told me that was exactly the right advice!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One Step Towards Summer Adventures

Today is 90 days before I leave for Poland. At 7 AM this morning I got myself a very good seat on the MSP to Amsterdam flight. This plane is much fuller than it was last year at this time, a surprising thing considering all the doom and gloom about the economy.

This evening I spoke at my church about my times in Poland. Afterwards a man came to speak to me about volunteering in Poland. He explained his family came from Minsk. I inquired, "Which Minsk? The one now in Belarus or Minsk, Maz in Poland?" My question was the first time he knew there were two cities named Minsk quite close together. He tried to clarify by saying it was the one that would have been in Russia when his family immigrated. I told him both cities would have been under Russian control when Poland was partitioned. So he and his family have some looking up now to do in their family records.

There are many tasks to accomplish in the next 89 days!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Adventures at the Gas Station

This morning the gas tank was nearly empty, but enough to get to work and get near a gas station where the price is always better than at the ones in my neighborhood. After working 6 hours straight without even a lunch break, I took off for lunch and went first to the gas station. I was pleased when I saw the price was 11 cents lower than in my neighborhood. I couldn't believe the crowds there at 1:30 PM! People were patiently waiting to pull up to the pumps.(Here everything is self service. I don't even know of a gas station where an attendant would pump the gas.) Well as my journey continued, I understood. I bought gas at $1.88 while every other gas station was $2.03 and that price was a bit higher than most stations had when I drove to work this morning.

It mystifies me when the price of gas at a same company's station is so different in different parts of town. It all comes out of the same place. I didn't realize that those of us in the center city where paying so much more until first my older daughter moved to a southern suburb and then for awhile I had to teach in a northern suburb. I quickly learned to go to both of those destinations with a somewhat empty tank for the price in the suburbs was always lower.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sometimes No Adventures is Fine

It's been five days since I've written anything. Life has just been routine for awhile. Or has it? The snow has disappeared except for some of the stubborn snow banks piled along driveways where it was shoveled. We got rain instead of snow this week. The rain washed the world a bit, and the best is that one doesn't have to shovel rain.

I've been reading and evaluating papers mostly in the evening. At the office I'm getting a few tasks off my list. I disappointed over 50 people sending them a letter saying they are not going to be admitted to graduate school. We received 4 times the number of applicants for nurse practitioner tracks than could be accepted, and that's with a 20% increase in acceptances.

I've been working on revising a course for which I'm responsible to a new textbook. At the same time I'm developing a totally new course that has to be ready to go Fall Semester. That's taken a lot of time at both the office and at home. The living room is now piled with books.

Today I packed out junk from the garage in to a Dumpster in a Bag. This has a funny connection to Poland. Two years ago while I was at Reymonotowka I was telling other volunteers I was going home to use this product. They couldn't figure out what I was talking about. Reymontowka was doing some remodeling that spring, and suddenly there was truck with dumpsters in a bag, only doing the opposite. The stone block being used was delivered that way.

So it's just one step at a time on a lot of projects. Later this week I hit 90 days before flying to Warsaw. On that day I'll get to pick my seat on the plane. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day Adventures

Today I took the bus downtown to file for a lot split. I thought that was a better plan than trying to find a place to park, which might be expensive, and also might be hard to do on St. Patrick's Day. This is a big holiday in Saint Paul, for this city is only one of a very few during the times of European immigration that people from Ireland were treated fairly and equitably.

The people who first owned this property built part of the driveway on the lot I'm planning to sell. I learned now I had to create an easement for this use. The gentleman who helped me gave me a name of someone else to speak with who may be able to give me a form to fill out or can give me an example of what needs to be done.

Outdoors again, the street vendors were already setting up with many, many green trickets and souveniers. But I had to go to work for awhile.

With tasks done I started home at 2 PM. The downtown area was now filled with celebrating people. Tonight beginning at 6 PM the buses start giving free rides in an effort to help keep people who have been drinking off the roads.

On my final walk home from the bus I went by a neighborhood bar. I was stopped by a woman who was deaf who was collecting for some cause. And from the other direction I was stopped by a group of musicians who were warming up with their Irish bagpipes.

So that's just one day's activity in Saint Paul.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Global Adventures

Today I met with a physician from Kenya who very much wishes to establish an exchange program between the university at which he teaches and our nursing and dental hygiene programs. This may be the first step towards a program that will actually begin in 2-3 years. It takes a very long time to get something going like this. We were just about to say good bye when he mentioned our simulation center. I walked him there and found it was down day for the center and the staff there graciously demonstrated everything.

For dinner I met my friend who wants to go to Poland in September. We discussed all the different options. I know she and her family will have a wonderful time.

And today I received photos of December memories when I hosted a brunch for Dorota from Poland and Hu Di from China. One photo is above. The digital age is great. I received this photo from China and now only 12 hours later it's on my blog. However, Dorota on the left is presently working in South Africa in a location in which the Internet is scarce, so she will have to wait nearly a month to see the photo!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Adventures with the Good

There has been much bad news lately. Thus,seeing good today is a nice antidote. I made a trip to Neighborhood House in Saint Paul to plan an event there. People must have been there to a food shelf. It was wonderful, truly, to see folks walking out with bags of potatoes for example. It made me think that some will eat good in the next few days.

I stopped by my local public library branch. This place has what can be called nothing but a wierd elevator set up. The floors aren't marked by 1, 2, and 3, but rather by letters. Ground floor, for example, is M. As I approached the elevator a Mom came with a boy about 3. Knowing how kids like to push buttons I asked the boy if he wanted to and if he knew the right button. He quickly and correctly pushed the button that says CR. His mother said, "Tell her how you remember." The boy looked at me very proudly and said, "CR means Cool Readers!" What a good start this boy has for his life. (I think actually CR is supposed to mean Community Room, but this little guy has a much better idea.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Birthday Adventures

Today is my grandson's 10th birthday. He asked sometime ago for a Key Lime Pie rather than a cake. Right after that I noticed we can now buy bags of Key Limes in the grocery store, so it seemed possible to deal with his request. Yesterday I stopped for last minute groceries. However, today when I started to put the pie togther I realized I didn't have any sugar. One can't make a graham cracker crust without a bit of sugar.

So even though the temperature was hovering around zero -- and that's a whole different story-- I went to the store to get sugar. The crust was in the oven and I had the Key Lime filling ready and then I realized I didn't have any cream of tartar, one of the essential ingredients for the meringue. So back to the store.

The Key Lime Pie and a gift of Legos made the boy smile!

One always learns things with children, but I didn't think how to make Key Lime Pie would be one of the things on the list.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Problem Solving Adventures

Today the land surveyor was able to do his work before the weather turned to a mixture of rain and snow. The office called with questions and materials are to be in the mail soon. Then I'll have to file the documents with the City of St. Paul to see if I can do the lot split.

I called my car service shop and found there was a cancellation for 1 PM today, so I surely took that. I'm $339 poorer, but that bill is much smaller than I anticipated after the heart-stopping moment of yesterday. They told me the fog lights don't work, but hey! when is the last time I've used those lights. I'm also to watch for a possible slow leak of transmission fluid.

As long as I was in this part of town, I decided to go take care of my taxes. Another problem solved. Indeed the refunds will take care of 50% of my fees for the Poland trip this summer.

While I was there I asked about how to manage tax filing next year if I get the Fulbright appointment. Easy! Just file for an extension and do the taxes when I come home in the summer. That was really good news.

Now just to get reschedule meeting my professional colleague that I missed seeing yesterday.

And unfortunately the picture to the right still looks like Minnesota. Hopefully spring will come soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Heart-Stopping Adventure

I was on my way to a town about 25 miles away to meet a colleague who wishes to travel to Krakow in September and asked for my advice. I've looked forward to this evening for a long time -- a dinner in a fun place and a wonderful topic of conversation. About half way there I was stopped at a light when my car stalled out. The dashboard lit up like Christmas tree with indicators I've never seen before which seemed to indicate a serious oil problem. The car refused to start, and I was on a somewhat busy intersection. Two very kind men pushed my car around the corner to a safer location.

I called my office and got my secretary and asked her assistance in contacting my colleague and canceling the dinner. Then I got a tow truck company engaged. I sat there awhile and thought I'd try again. The car started so I decided to go just a short way to a strip mall. The car seemed to be OK, so I called the tow truck and canceled that. I drove back towards home until I got to gas station. I stopped an got a quart of oil and added that and got home without any difficulty, just now disappointment.

The forecast tomorrow is for a messy snow storm. The car is in my garage until I see what the weather is and whether tomorrow will be day for the land surveyor to come to start the lot-split project. When I know my schedule and weather better I'll call for a service appointment. Got out of a mess with minimal trouble!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Adventures "in opening my mouth"

This evening there was a program at my church about an International Convention for women in the church. One of the speakers was to be a pastor from Romania. This is an area that used to be Hungary and these people are a minority because they are from the Hungarian culture and because they are UU, not Catholic. While we were waiting the conversation was about Hungary and explained I'm waiting to see if I can a teaching fellowship in Hungary. One of the women in the room told me she has a friend that teaches at the University of Pecs and in no time I had his name, e-mail address and Hungarian phone number! And the people are cheering for me to get the fellowship.

Adventures in "biting my tongue"

Tomorrow I have to work a 12 hour day and each event of this day is very hard. Thus I decided to take it just a bit easy today. About 9 AM I went to a nearby restaurant for a late breakfast and then put my nose into a very hard essay I need to read and study to create a module for a new fall course that I'm designing. Behind me a couple who appeared to be either friends or perhaps cousins or something like that suddenly started to discuss the Somali and Hmong refugees who live in Minnesota. The guy said, "They come here for our welfare state." Little do they know that the refugees get only one year of resettlement help, but no welfare! These people obviously know nothing about refugee settlement. And the fact that Minnesota has a lesser percentage of foreign born residents in 2009 than it had in 1909.

I have heard some of the stories from the refugees. Getting some housing assistance and health benefits is a small recompense from society for what has happened to most of these people. And we have to remember that the Hmong had to get the "heck out of Dodge" because they were on the U.S. side during the Viet Nam War.

Obviously they must not have driven down University Avenue lately and noticed the number of Hmong professionals, noticed that we have a Hmong school board member, and Hmong members in the Minnesota Legislature, one of whom is being touted as perhaps the next Minnesota DFL Governor candidate.

Nobody in their right mind would leave their own country such as Somalia only because they wanted to live in Minnesota. The social culture is totally different, the dominant religion is totally different, and certainly the climate is totally different!

And these complaining people have not had the experience I have had with members from these two communities in the classroom. They are smart, intelligent people now trying to start over in a new country.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I didn't think anything would be gained by challenging these two people.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Non-Shopping Adventure

CostCo is moving into the Twin Cities. We got an e-mail saying as university employees we could go try it out. I have heard good things about CostCo so decided to check it out. This particular store is located in the northeast corner of the Metro area. From work it is not so bad, but the drive took longer than I expected.

I got there and had to listen to the membership sales pitch. Of course one should buy the executive membership so one can buy carpet, countertops, cars and travel arrangements, as if I would ever buy those things at such a place. The deal breaker, however, is that I can't use my debit card there because it doesn't have the right symbol on the back. Why market to state employees if one is going to refuse the debit card from the credit union for state employees? I've never before had my debit card turned down. I was nothing but shocked. Then being told I could always use the ATM to get money -- I guess with my non-conforming debit card and that it would only cost 75 cents to use the ATM -- well that was the deal breaker.

So I'll get the carpet from the store that specializes in carpet and floor coverings, continue to buy cars from a car dealer, and manage my own travel arrangements. I will continue to buy groceries from the store that is 2 blocks away, that takes my debit card, and has an ATM I can use without any charges.