July 28, 2016 – Bartons Leave for Alaska Cruise

Son-in-Love George and his three siblings have gotten together to take their parents on a cruise to Alaska.  George’s dad has always wanted to ride the White Pass Railroad.  So the four children decided this is the year.  It’s going to be a big crowd with parents, four children, spouses, and grandchildren. Jennifer has been packing and planning for weeks.

The boys were ready to get in the van but did not have their shoes on.  George hurried the process.

Andy and I returned from the final RV repair shop trip and found their good friend John standing near the front door.  He is driving them to the airport in Chicago (two hours away).  George will return the favor in a few weeks when he drives John to Chicago for his flight to Poland.

The boys both had a backpack filled with toys for the trip.  As Owen was going out the door, he asked me if we were going to see each other again in his lifetime.  I assured him we would. Note that this is Cam’s OLD backpack.

He climbed into the back of the van to make sure it was stowed safely.

Owen was already inside and ready to get in his seat.

Jennifer came outside wearing Cam’s new backpack.  He got it this week and has been sleeping with it.  He will start four-year-old kindergarten in a few weeks.  He gave Jennifer permission to use his precious possession for the trip.

Finally, everyone was in their seats and buckling up.

They were backed out of the driveway when Cam’s hand shot out the window for a goodbye wave.

July 24, 2018 – Don and Linda Visit

The Grandma thing to do is make cookies so Jennifer got out the ingredients and utensils for me. I opted for the recipe on the Toll House chocolate chip bag – my favorite.  Owen was right in there ready to participate.  Jennifer took a few pictures. I love this one of Cam licking his lips while I measured out the chocolate chips.

His job was to carefully pour ingredients into the mixing bowl and he took his job very seriously.

Owen and Cam also helped to clean the mixing bowl and beater while the cookies were baking.

Friends Don and Linda came for a visit.  They live in Florida and spend some time in the summers in Wisconsin.  After everyone had eaten enough chocolate chip cookies to spoil their appetites, we all went to the Out n Out for lunch. George took Don and Linda, and the boys for a ride in Eleanor, the Model A. Jennifer, Andy and I followed in the family van. I got a kick out of watching the old car in front of us and asked Jennifer if she had followed it before. She answered yes, many times when they were expected something to break.

Out n Out has a super-large table where you can sit and meet people.  One end of it was just right for our group. It is one of those places where you order and pick up and a window and carry your own food to the table.

Don and Linda were gearing up for their ride back to their RV park somewhere in Wisconsin while Cam decided to drive the car.

Don is a friend of George’s father.  He and Linda have also become friends with grown-up George. I took this photo of them.

And, here are Don and Linda taking off on their Spider.

July 23, 2018 – Milwaukee Zoo

A trip to the zoo is always a good idea on a beautiful day.  George was taking two days off work for his “weekend” he missed while traveling. Two weekends, actually. The zoo was not too crowded on a Monday.

When I can’t pick my favorite pictures, I simply include more.

Try as I might, I did not get many good monkey pictures.

Owen displaying his missing teeth.

And cheeseballs.

I did manage to get another excellent photo for my animal butt collection.  This guy would not turn around for anything.

I think this is a bushbaby.

The bats were most interesting. The hallways, where the people were, were dark.  Dozens and dozens of bats were hanging upside down.  I was surprised by how active they were.  They were moving around and changing spots regularly.

We could not keep the pace of the kids.  Andy decided he wanted a hamburger so we found a place.  They were not cooking hamburgers so he got a chicken sandwich. That’s enough to put him in a foul mood.  Several gardeners were busy setting out new plants in the flower bed next to our table. Then a mama pea hen wandered in with two chicks.  She settled down in the garden until a gardener disturbed her.  She got up and left.

Then we got a better look at the chicks that had been hidden by the plants.

We saw a peacock strutting down the sidewalk sometime later.

When Andy was finished with his lunch, we caught up with the family at the playground.

Zookeepers were giving a talk on large insects.  Ick.  I think this one is related to a scorpion.

We always ride the train around the zoo before leaving. I was hanging my camera out behind me, hoping to get pictures of the kids.

I got one of my big kid too.

Andy enjoyed this more than it appears.  I think.

Cam got a ride out to the parking lot.

July 20, 2018 – Bookworm Gardens

Owen and Cam love Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan, WI and so do I.  Unfortunately, I  forgot my camera so Jennifer provided the photos for the trip.

Each small garden has a theme based on a children’s book.  Each has some sort of structure in addition to the plants and there are waterproof books to read. Here, Owen is reading a book (Harry the Dirty Dog) about a dog whose owners did not recognize as their own until they gave him a bath.

This is the only exhibit I noticed that did not have a book.  It is Whistling Straits, a PGA golf course nearby, which is owned by Kohler.  They are a sponsor of the admission-free gardens.

Just for fun, I found a picture of the actual clubhouse on the internet.

We had a lot of fun re-enacting the Three Pigs.  Cam got the house a straw, I wriggled in and out of the house of sticks, and Owen was quite comfortable in his house of bricks.

Andy played the part of the Big Bad Wolf

Apparently, the funniest part to Jennifer was me getting in and out of my house with an extremely narrow door. The boys got a big kick out of it too.

I had the most fun at this cock-eyed house.  I have no idea what book it represents.

The boys had a wild time inside, especially after I started playing the part of Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who eats small children.

They closed the door and the peep-hole, and the window.  I knocked and they opened the door.  Screaming followed and they slammed the door.  I knocked again:  “Pizza Delivery!”.  Ha, they opened the door again and I attempted to catch one.  But, they screamed and slammed the door again.  My best attempt:  knock, knock. “Amazon delivery”.  The opened the door again but I still did not catch a tasty boy to eat. I had to try to catch one through the peep-hole window.

Jennifer caught part of the live action.

Here are the boys at The Little House in the Big Woods, the first of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series I loved so much as a child.

Bookworm Gardens is one of the cutest and most child-friendly gardens I have ever seen.  Do some Google images to see much more of it.




July 15, 2018 – Harrington Beach State Park

For those of us who haven’t done this in many years, here is the modern way to cut children’s hair.  Jennifer set her phone (or maybe it was a tablet) on the bathroom sink and stood Cam on a stool. Owen stood on the toilet so he could watch too. Cam was so entranced with whatever they were watching that he barely moved a hair (haha) while Jennifer buzzed away his golden locks.

It was time to do something fun and we decided to go to the beach. The boys played Pokemon on the way.  Cam used Jennifer’s phone.

Owen used my phone.  It took me most of the way to the beach to download the app and get registered and set up so he didn’t get in much play before Jennifer and I confiscated our phones.  There was no cell signal at the beach.

There were plenty of people on the beach since it was a weekend.  We got a nice shady spot.  Actually, it was too shady with a cool breeze blowing off Lake Michigan.  We periodically walked into the sun to warm up.

The lake was a bit foggy so we could not see the horizon.

There are several other beaches near enough to Jennifer’s house, but the one in Harrington Beach State Park does not require a walk down a bluff.

This is the walkway between the parking lot and the beach.

There were some lovely flowers along the path.

Tiger Lilies

Owen and Cam spent the whole time building sand castles. Well, first Cam built a sand wall from the beach blanket to the water.

Then they spent the rest of the time building sand castles at the water’s edge.


Jennifer sat on the blanket.

They were busy boys.

We did not take any beach toys with us so their construction method was to dig handfuls of sand from the water and dribble it onto a pile.  Inspired by Gaudi, I suppose.

They were so close to the water’s edge that boat wakes damaged their castles. They ended up building three.

It was my job to run a bath for the boys when we got home.  I think they were waiting to make sure the water was not too hot before they got in.

Bookworm Gardens

Aside from Shalom Wild Animal Zoo, Owen wanted to take Uncle Andy to see Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan.  He said it was so beautiful; he almost died when he went there on a school field trip.

Son-in-love George gave Andy a birthday present that we really needed.  I can’t remember what it is called, but it is a little post with a wheel on the bottom that attaches to the tongue of the tow dolly.  Now we don’t have to pick it up! We can simply roll it around. I am so happy and it wasn’t even my birthday. George wanted to hook the dolly up and pull it around to make sure the lug nuts on the wheels stayed tight.  So we hooked it up to Jennifer’s van and headed to Bookworm Gardens with the tow dolly rattling along behind us.

It was fabulous, a children’s fantasy land where stories come to life. I won’s say too much about it because I took so many photos and each of them is worth a thousand words.

B01 Bookworm Gardens Gate

b02 Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk. The Giant must have hit the ground head first.

Owen and Cam were enamored with this small sculpture of two children reading a book.  We passed it several times and they stopped to admire it each time.

b03 Sculpture Children Reading

b04 Kinetic Sculpture
Kinetic Sculpture
b05 Playhouse for Monsters
Playhouse for Monsters
b06  Horton Hatches the Egg
Horton Hatches the Egg
b07 Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie

There was a little house, but the boys were more interested in the covered wagon.

I didn’t notice if the gazebo was related to a book or just beautiful.

b08 Picnic Arbor

b09 Owl
b10 Curious George and the Pizza
Curious George and the Pizza

One of my favorite books as a child.  It might be hard to spot Charlotte to the left of center above the  beam. Of course, she wanted the spotlight on Wilbur the pig.

b11 Charlotte's Web
Charlotte’s Web

b12 Cow in Barnyard

Cam was expressing his engineer genes. He was absolutely fascinated by the typewriter in the barn.  He had no idea what it was but was intent on figuring out how to work it. I told him it was how people sent texts to people before computers and cell phones. He hit every key and returned the carriage many times before standing up to watch the letter strike.  Jennifer had to drag him away.

b13 Cam and Typewriter in Barn
Cam and Typewriter in Barn

Then he found the water pump outside the barn and tried to figure out how to get some water.  The pump was apparently not functional.  A sign said don’t drink the water.

b14 Cam and Water Pump
Cam and Water Pump

Owen and Jennifer found a patch of tiny mushrooms.

b15 Jennifer and Owen w Mushrooms

b21 Johnny Appleseed
Waiting for Cam in a Johnny Appleseed orchard.
b16 Owen in Cheese Sail on Bread Boat
Owen in Cheese Sail on a slice-of-bread Boat

b17 Jennifer and Cam w Bookworm

b18 Sneaking up on Papa
Sneaking up on Papa
b19 Waterlilly
Waterlilly in Fish Pond
b20 Grass
Sun on Grass
b22 Snake on Tree
Snake on Tree
b23 Bat Sculpture
b24 Gazebo Tree House
Gazebo Tree House Off Cliff
b25 Gift Shop and Restrooms
Gift Shop and Restrooms
b27 Magic School Bus
Magic School Bus
b26 Magic School Bus
Cam was driving and Owen was Operating the Doors. Miss Frizzle was nowhere in sight.

b28 Jennifer Crossing Bridge

b29 Three Little Pigs
Three Little Pigs

b30 Cam and House

When we got back to the van, George checked the lug nuts to make sure they were tight.

b31 George Checking Tow Dolly Lug Nuts

What a delightful park! I didn’t take any pictures of them, but there were also a number of real books for the children to take off shelves and read. There were many more books represented than I show here.


No C-Diff!!, Andy Turned Eighty, Clock Shadow Building, and Milwaukee Art Museum

Here is the pill box.  I had resisted using it for a month or so but, finally picked one up at Walgreens.  I have to admit that it is easier to use than individual bottles. And, I can easily tell whether I took my pills or not. However, it does not accommodate my complicated regimen. Just looking at it makes me feel old.

b Pill Box

I went back to the doctor on Monday.  They said the Clostridium Difficile is gone.  They did not test for it because the sample I gave them was not watery enough.  (I think that is a good sign.) She said they know it is gone because they did not see any white blood cells in the sample. It is great news I suppose.  I am still unhappy about pooping four to six times a day, though. To address that, I am switching from the no fiber diet to a high fiber diet – gradually. I have cut back on the Vancomycin to three times a day.

This month, the monthly birthday was also and annual birthday and a big one, at that. I baked Andy’s favorite, Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake, with raspberry jam between the layers.  Owen and Cam helped me.  I almost had a nervous breakdown with all that help.

The cake was on the cooling racks.  I was on the far side of the kitchen with my back to it, making the frosting. I heard the boys singing Patty Cake and was charmed that they were singing the same version that my mother sang to me. I turned around to realize that they were patting the cake layers. Hard. One was still in pretty good shape. The one that ended up as the top layer was in six pieces with a huge crack down the center.  I used a large amount of frosting to glue it back together. Whenever I worked on the cake, Cam was dipping into the bowl of frosting and eating large gobs off the beater. My frosting cooled and became impossible to spread so I warmed it a tad in the microwave. With the gluing and eating, I ran out of frosting before the sides were covered.  Jennifer made up another batch to finish the job.

We learned not to put too many candles on the cake ten years ago. I bought an eight and a zero, some candles that spell happy birthday. and a few sparkler candles. This was the only photo I got showing the candles.

b1 Birthday Cake

Off it went to the table.

b2 Birthday Cake Aflame

Cam and Owen helped Andy blow out the candles.

b3 Blowing Out the Birthday Candles

It was delicious with all that extra chocolate. The next morning Jennifer complained that Cam was up all night on a sugar high.  She and George were exhausted and sleep deprived.

Andy’s daughter Kathy came to visit for his birthday.  On Monday, when George and Jennifer went to work, we took Kathy to see a bit of downtown Milwaukee. Our first stop was Clock Shadow Cheese Factory. They have a nice tour with a full explanation of cheese making, but the building itself  was more fascinating, by far.

It is an American Institute of Architects Top Ten building. Much (50%, I think) of it is built with recycled materials on an industrial waste site. The awnings over the windows are made from ash trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer. The siding at street level is made with old pickle barrels. Much of the hardware such as stair railings is made from repurposed plumbing pipes.  They collect rainwater on the roof for flushing the toilets.

b4 Clock Shadow Building Milwaukee

And, there is a garden up there!  With a bee hive.

b5 Rooftop Beehive

This is a community garden used by the building’s tenants.

b6 Rooftop Garden

There is so much more so I’ll just link to something about it. Here.

Our next stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum, my favorite building on the Lake Michigan waterfront. Here, we are approaching from the rooftop plaza of the parking garage across the street.

b7 Milwaukee Art Museum

This is the lake view on the waterfront side.

b8 Lake Michigan Outside Art Gallery

Kathy took a picture of the ceiling, looking back toward the entrance doors.

b Art Gallery Interior

Later, when we were in the galleries looking at the art, we saw that the wings were open atop the Calatrava (the architect)  building.

b Art Gallery Wings Up

There is a lot of art of all genres.  Here is Andy Warhol’s Mao Tse-tung series.  They also have several soup cans.

b9 Andy Warhol's Mao Tse-tung Series

This janitor is a favorite.  I read a fascinating article about preservation efforts. He is life-size and very realistic.

b91 Janitor

Although there are plenty of old masters, there are plenty of strange works of art in the museum.  Some, I suppose, were just made to make me gawk. Here is an odd number. The body is life-size.

b92 Green Woman

Here is another view of the open wings taken as we walked back to the parking garage. The amazing, long white hall to the left of the Calatrava building leads to the galleries. It also houses the temporary exhibits.

B11 Art Gallery Wings 2

We met George and Jennifer, and the boys, at the Creel in Thiensville for dinner. Cam had to stand on the chair to drink out of the straw.

b94 Cam Drinking with Straw