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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Making It Through The Holidays

Things are changing in our family...  with the passing of Dad last month, and soon the changes of our stepdad Lowell's impending passing, it has been a tough holiday.

We did have two nice family celebrations with Steve's family... on Christmas Eve Day Steve's brother Pete and his new bride Cindy hosted a nice luncheon at a quaint restaurant in Menasha.  Some of the family came to this event, but some had to work and were unable to come.

Then on Christmas Day we trekked on down to Belgium where Steve's sister Lynn hosted the rest of the family gathering.  It was a sunny day with good roads and fine travelling.  We rode down and back with Steve's dad, Pa Pfundtner and had a wonderful time.  He is so full of fun and interesting stories and laughter.  It was good for us to be with him.

After Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was spent with Steve's family, the weekend was the time for our family...  our three grown kids, their spouses and ALL the grandtots!   We gathered at Erin and Waylen's house because it's big enough for all of us.  Since the roads were clear and dry (and no snow or slush or salt)  we decided to take our "extra hotel room" along.  

Plus with four other dogs in the house, we thought the comfort of our own rig for our two who are more shy would be better.  No accidental escapes out the door when someone ins't looking.  Our dogs are safer in our motorhome where things are more familar to them. 

On our way up, we noticed the alternator was not charging properly, kinda intermittent.  If we had to, we can connect the four house batteries to the two diesel engine batteries for enough emergency power.  But it kept up enough to keep us going for 75 miles.  Once there, Steve has enough tools and a spare alternator on board to swap it out right on the street.  P.S. we also got an overnight parking permit to park on the street by their house in Oconto. 

The house was decorated with care and joy for the family gathering....

Erin and Waylen put on a spread of food, with the rest of us contributing the side dishes and salads.  It was so much fun to see everyone again, all under one roof.

and the grandtots were on their 
(most of the time) 

I will let the pics speak for themselves: 

(I was teaching little Whitney about the family charms on my necklace) 

 Gift opening was a crazy mess of fun stuff,
many things reminiscent of childhood past or 
homemade things this year which made it extra special!

 Later on the grandtots all put on their new jammies (from Grandma and
Grandpa Pfun) and were doing pushups and wrestling in the livingroom

As the grown-ups were gathering in the diningroom to play cards,
I got all the grandtots settled in watching 
The Grinch and Charlie Brown Christmas...  
working my "Grandma Magic" to get them all to rest in a row...

This is a favorite "selfie" I did during some quiet time upstairs
with newest grandtot Whitney....  

The grown-ups were playing cribbage, 31 and Cards Against Humanity 
in the diningroom well into the night.... 
along with beverages of their choice. 

 I gave up about 11 p.m. and headed out to our rig 
and our dogs 
and our own bed....

And here are our silly kids
at 1 a.m. after a raucous night
(with little bright eyed Whitney photobombing!~)


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Steveio Battles Snow Storm Ashley

We have been severely lacking in snowfall here in Wisconsin.  Our Christmas was far from "White", it was much more like MUD.  (I will do another post about our holidays next)

The weathermen started warning us on Sunday about the impending storm coming our way. Seems our section of Wisconsin was slated for some of the highest snowfall totals predicted. We were due for 10-12 inches.

The snow started coming down Monday morning, just enough to cover the ground and make things slick. My friend Linda in Tennessee misses having snow, and my friend Rosie in Missouri gets some, but she loves to see it too. I made them this little video clip:

By Monday afternoon, we were getting some sleet on top of it, just enough to make things a slippery mess!

Monday evening, the weather forecasters were warning us about an inch an hour. It was going to last all night into the wee hours of the morning.

We hunkered down to see how bad it was going to get.  After work, Steve prepped the snowblower, filling the fuel and running it to be sure it was in tip top shape.  (Knowing him, everything that has a small engine is running in tip top shape) ---   Most folks run out for bread and milk.  Steve runs out for more gas!  Smart man.

After supper, the storm kicked up a notch or two, and we started getting accumulation...  filming from the comfort of the front porch makes it easy to observe the weather and not have to actually be out IN it!~ 

Before we went to bed, we decided to take down our christmas tree.  It had been a pre-cut tree rather than a fresh-cut, and was losing needles by the dozens each time we walked past it. Time to get it OUT and less of a fire danger in the house.  Steve battled the winds to get it hauled just out the front door and dumped into the flowerbed. We will find out when the city sanitation offers tree pickup, but for now, out the front door was as far as he was going to go. 

The winds were whipping up to 25-30 mph and gusts of 45-50.  We could hear it howling but we were cozy and warm in our stout german house.  Before we headed to bed, I snapped this pic of the frosted frozen porch window... 
This was the wind, sleet and snow blasting from the south 
against this window... 

During the night, I could hear the wind howling outside.  The roads were not being plowed, as everything was shut down.  Warnings on tv said to not go out unless it was an emergency. About 1:30 am an ambulance made it's way down the highway in front of our home.  I felt bad for whomever needed the ambulance during the night. It was not a good night to be out and about.

By 5:45 am, Steveio was up and at em.  He looked out at drifts as high as three feet, and the plow had just gone through, shoving up a 40 inch high snowbank across the end of our driveway!  

If you are from the north, you know that if you DON'T get that plowed snow bank moved out fast, it hardens into a thick solid ICE BANK.   Steve donned his snow gear and headed out to fire up the snowblower.  Wheeee it was as deep as the blower and he slowly chewed through the snow to get up to the front yard... Here is a video I made in the early morning light of him working so hard.  

Notice how he has to take a tiny chunk at a time?

He managed about an hour and half doing that kind of hard work, before he stumbled back into the house.  He was wet from head to toe with sweat.  I sent him up into the shower while I cooked up a hot breakfast for his belly.  He had been hoping to get into work on time, but didn't even get the driveway cleared enough to get out with our Tracker.  Four wheel drive don't mean much when it's drifted shut three feet deep and all ice underneath.  ACK! 

He donned fresh clothes and headed back out again.  Soon he was able to get the Tracker out, but he also took the time to blow a path up to the widow lady next door, just in case she needed to get out.  Her daughter is in the hospital, and she might be needing to go there today.  What a guy! 

Then he hopped in the Tracker and sped off to work..... to do guess what?  
allll dayyyy longgggg

(sounds like fun, eh?)

As it got lighter out. 
this is the view from our livingroom window:

Everything was so bright and clean.
I love the snow clinging to the pines across the street.

About 11 am the garbage and recycling trucks went through town, so I donned my boots and coat and hat to go out and pull our bin and the neighbor's bins back up to the houses.  I managed to snap a few pics of the house and yard because it was SOOOO pretty! 

Our poor motorhome is still buried,
 patiently waiting to head south sometime soon for a vacation.

The whipping winds made some interesting wavy drifts clinging to our garage
and little Binney kept an eye on me from her perch inside.

 The snow is piled up on my clematis trellis,
and adds to the holiday decorations! 

Although we didn't get a White Christmas, at least we got a White Christmas Vacation!   After Steve's long day at work, he came home to a hot meal and a shower.  He was going to head back out to snowblow some more in the yard and make the driveway wider, neatening up the banks.  The motorhome needs to get freed up, and the front sidewalk is only a single swath. But I talked him into just resting tonight, and hit it again tomorrow morning.  

I think he worked hard enough today!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Made it Through the Day

The memorial service for my dad went well.... relatives came from Lower Michigan, Upper Michigan, and all over Wisconsin to the tiny village of Riverview at Crooked Lake.  Everything went well, and nephew Matt made a great speech before the luncheon.  We managed to get through the day and everything went as planned.  It was a good time for family to bond, but sad to have to be there for a memorial.  All dad wanted was a "Crooked Lake Party" and that is what he got.  No weeping, no serious stuff... just laughter, stories and have a beer on him!

Tomorrow we are headed out to Ohio to help with step-dad Lowell next.  Hospice has been called in and set up some equipment.  He is still walking and eating and talking on the phone.  He said to me: "set that Steve in the driver's seat, plug in that XYZ thingy (my GPS) and point him to Ohio!~"

So now it's on to help with Mom and hoping to lend support and love and caring......

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Big Ray of Sunshine - Allegra's 6th Birthday!

In spite of all the grim stuff going on in our family... we had a big ray of sunshine today!

 It was our oldest granddaughter 

Family gathered at our son Dan and daughterinlaw Heather's house for a party on a sunny wintery Saturday.  I had the chance to see ALL six of our grandtots in one place.... so of course I got in lots of snuggles! My big Birthday Girl took time to give me an especially big hug! 

Erin stole niece Whitney for a snuggle time, and all of the relatives gathered around in the sunshiny livingroom for the party.  I grabbed Chelsea Bug for a hug too! 

Little grandsons Clayton and Jameson were lined up for the party, with wee little Whitney keeping an eye on all the goings-on....

 It was such a good day to be with family,
seeing smiles and happiness. 
I needed that. 
We all needed that.

Soninlaw Waylen helped to keep the boys in line.  But at one point all five grandkids disappeared in the parent's bedroom and were JUMPING ON THE BED!  They came out to round up this Grandma to come in and asked me to SING to them??? The song???  Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed!!!!  LOL ~!

After a nice lunch of pizza (Allegra's choice for her birthday meal) and pot luck salads and veggie trays ... it was time for the BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!!    This lucky girl got an ice cream cake.... yummmmmm

Daddy Dan served up the cake to everyone really fast, before it melted.... and all of the kids got sugar'd up pretty danged good.

After our cake, it was time for PRESENTS!!! 

All of the little ones looked on as Allegra opened gift after gift...
She graciously said "thank you" 
and delivered hugs all around the room when she was done.  
Good manners! 

 (we got her the Easy Bake Oven... and hope to help her use it sometime when we visit) 

It was a wonderful afternoon.  I got pretty tuckered out, so we headed on back home again.  I took a nice long nap and feel pretty good now.  The blood pressure is still peaking and dumping, but not as severe.  It will level out with proper medication, and find a balance.   We also got our outside house decorations up this morning... and as I write this, the timer went "click" and we are all lit up!  

Gotta have some lights--- ya know, some merrymaking, joy and happiness, even with the difficult situations we are finding ourselves in.  We will all be together next weekend for dad's memorial gathering.

I tried to call mom twice today to check on my step-dad Lowell. They are over at his daughter's house nearby and she said "all is good" for now.  We will get an update later from mom when Lowell is not within earshot in the background. I fear things are moving along fast. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Got Set Back on My Heels a Bit Here

Whew.. it's been a whirlwind, and I guess I had this coming. Something to set me back on my heels and make me STOP!

We were busy on Monday, gathering with family at dad's cabin and making plans, sorting momentos and clearing out all the food.  The guys winterized the cabin, and then we added new locks and heavy hasps and padlocks to the cabin.  There are plenty of neighbors to keep an eye on things, but sometimes awful people read about a death and think they can go pillage a place.

Tuesday was going fine, and I met with the crematory, handled legal paperwork, cancelled his cell and phone service, truck insurance etc.  Went through piles of papers.

Finally on Tuesday evening I thought I was calm and relaxed on the couch, playing solitaire, reading blogs, and sharing some photos with Steve on the Chromecast to the tv screen.  Nothing stressful.

Steve noticed I was breathing shallow and fast, plus I realized had a throbbing pounding like my heartbeat in my shoulders and arms, and a tightness in my neck and jaw that wasn't there earlier.  Rut Roh!   After a bit, we decided to go into the ER and see what was what. The hospital is only one mile away.

Whew.... my blood pressure was up!  I have never had high blood pressure before, could it be stress?   I was calm, even so calm I was falling asleep on the examining table in the ER while they set up the EKG machine.  Each time they checked my blood pressure, it kept RISING!  Soon it was over 200.... oh my!

They admitted me as an inpatient about midnight to the hospital, hooked up some heart monitors and started pumping me full of blood pressure meds! Steve ran back home to get a few things for me, and let the dogs out to go potty.  I was then monitored and tapped for blood samples every four hours to make sure I was not having a stroke or a heart attack!   My IV infiltrated and my arm swelled up.  They had to poke me 4 more times to get a good spot for the IV again.  About 3 am the meds started working and my pressure was going down.  WHEW!

By about noon on Wednesday, they determined that I could finally go home, as things were back in the safe range.  They said no evidence of stroke or heart attack, but I needed to take blood pressure meds and see my doc as soon as possible.  Steve bought me a blood pressure cuff machine and we are monitoring it.  Well, the meds they gave me worked TOO well, and by Thanksgiving morning I dipped way too low too fast and got dizzy, weak, lightheaded and cold.  Cancelled our plans to have dinner with Steve's family.

I figured I needed a medication adjustment. Calling all over on a holiday was not fun.  The regular doc hadn't seen me yet, so his office is closed of course.  His answering service has NO records on my blood pressure problem or hospital stay yet.  (because I am not seeing him till Monday)  ... calling back to the hospital, they just send you to Ask-A-Nurse, who says to call your doctor!  LOL!  Circles!

Finally I called back to the hospital on a third try and asked them to put me through to a doc or nurse who saw me overnight in the ER if they were working the holiday. Yes!  Got ahold of a nice nurse who remembered me, and she talked to the doc on call for me.  I didn't have to come back in, (and incur another ER bill)  We cut the pills in half and watched my pressure and it was much better overnight and this morning.  They did make me promise to call my doc office first thing this morning, and see if I could move up my appointment from Monday to today, Friday.  Yes, that worked and I am going in to my regular doc in one hour.  Whew!

Guess it's a wake up call, eh?   For never having high blood pressure before, with even going through four major surgeries and bi-annual scopings under general anesthetic, high blood pressure was never an issue. It is now.

I did manage to finish up Dad's Obituary
 to get it posted to the newspaper:


Stephen (Yooper) J. Bicigo, 78, passed away Sunday, Nov 22, 2015 in his home at Crooked Lake, Crivitz, WI.

Steve was also affectionately known as Yooper to the local residents, and Wankel to the residents of his previous home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Steve enjoyed raising Siberian huskies, snowmobiling, ATV riding, camping, fishing and hunting in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Steve was especially fond of his garage parties, Packer games and family gatherings at his little log cabin in the woods.  In his retirement, Steve was very handy at small engine repairs and kept yard equipment running for many area homeowners.

Steve had suffered a brief illness with cancer. He peacefully passed away while watching the Packers, upon the final winning score.

Steve was born on April 3, 1937 in Crystal Falls, Michigan to Antone Bicigo and Olga (Today) Groop. As a young man, he moved to Cedarburg, Wisconsin where he worked as a machinist for various companies in the Milwaukee area.  On June 27, 1957 Steve married Rita M. Kafehl and they had six children together.  Steve retired to the Crooked Lake area, living in a log cabin he built with his children, known as Windmill Oaks.

Steve was preceded in death by his mother, Olga Groop, step father William Groop and father Antone Bicigo.  Also preceding him in death is one daughter, Suzanne Marie Bicigo, two brothers William and Michael Groop and one sister, Anne Luckow. Also preceding him in death was his long time companion, Issiah the cat.

Steve is survived by five children:  Steve Bicigo Jr. (fiancee Roxanne Cannonie) of Iron River, MI,  Karen (Steven) Pfundtner of Chilton, WI,  Linda (Fuzz) Andersen of Gaastra, MI,  Randolph (Lisa) Bicigo of Mohawk, MI, and Eugene Bicigo of Iron River, MI.  

Nine grandchildren:  Mike (special friend Karen) Bicigo, Matthew (Amanda) Bicigo,  Darren (Chelsea) Bicigo, Bobbi Su Bicigo, Erin (Waylen) Choate, HeatherLee (Jesse) Wade, Dan (Heather) Pfundtner, Christopher (Lyndsay) Andersen, Vincent (Susan) Sherman, and Mike (Missy)Sherman.

Ten great-grandchildren, Jameson and Whitney Wade, Allison Mercier, Allegra and Mason Pfundtner, Chelsea and Clayton Lock, Braydon and Emery Sherman, Taylor and Mya Sherman, Matthew and Colin Younger.

Sisters Elsie Shroder of Dearborn Heights, MI and MaryJane (Ted) Ridolphi of Iron River, MI. also many nieces and nephews and good friends.

A special thank-you to friend and caregiver Nikki Gerondale of Grindle Lake for her faithful attendance and loving care shown to Steve during his illness.

Saturday, Dec 5th, a memorial luncheon will be served promptly at 1pm hosted by the Crooked Lake Ladies Auxiliary at the Crooked Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Community Center, 15441 County RD W, Crivitz, WI

Immediately afterwards, a fellowship gathering will be hosted at Randalls Resort, 15345 County Rd W, Crivitz, WI (Between Mountain and Crivitz at Crooked Lake)

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Unity Hospice of Marinette, WI is appreciated.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Yesterday, our father, Stephen Bicigo Sr  (aka Wankel or Yooper) passed away.  Cancer had taken over his body these last few months and it was fast. 

We were there all morning doing projects for him and bringing him things he needed.  We left him all settled in on his couch to watch the Packer Game.  The Packers Won. And then Dad passed away. His good friend and nurse lady was there as he took his last breaths.  It was calm. 

Dad wanted to die in his log cabin in the woods.  He got his wish. 

We helped him build that cabin, log by log, board by board.

The last few years we had a bunch of projects to do,
and Dad did very well as a supervisor

After fixing the roof this last month, the family gathered in his famous garage to watch the Packer Game.

Yup, has a big beautiful log cabin,
but everyone gathers in the garage all the time....

Da Yoopers Garage

He will tell ya what to do
How to do it
or how you SHOULD have done it! 

Bye Dad, may there be log cabin garages in Heaven.
and Packer Games. 

The family is meeting today to make arrangements.