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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. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Coming Out On the Other Side

Been in a fog, I am coming out on the other side of eight days of having pneumonia.  Finally kicking it's butt.  Got a pile of things undone and absolutely no energy to get anything done. ARRGGGHH

Dad is doing okay, and at his home on hospice and still calling me numerous times a day.  Brothers have been there fixing stuff and checking on him, and I hope to get up there soon too. Nurses have been great keeping in touch and a retired CNA is available now all hours of the day or night for him who only lives a few miles away.

StepDad in Ohio is doing okay, had a long talk with Mom on phone. He is resting well, and they are looking into pain management and probably Hospice to help out soon too.  His daughter, son and soninlaw are all there nearby to help too.  He has a goal of wanting to make it to Christmas, so we wish him the strength and power to get there.

So that's my update.

Going to back to bed.

Night night.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Motorhome Maintenance - Getting Rid of Ceiling Stains

It's an icky yucky day while I have cold, congestion, fever and all around "ewwww"  or as my sister would say, "I feel ICKA"  So it's a good time to write a blog on a motorhome project.

Did you know many of the goofy dumbfounded nitwitted motorhome manufacturers made their interior ceiling material of CARPETING????  Yes, carpeting!   On our Safari motorcoaches (as well as the Beaver and some other luxury rigs made in that era)  the danged ceilings are carpeting.... CREAMY WHITE carpeting never the less!

Any roof leak, or campfire smoke, or cigarette smoke will discolor the creamy white carpeted surface.  Of course, being overhead, it's very awkward to clean if you did happen to have the energy, tools, supplies and cleaning solution on hand.

Well, there are recipes abound on our vintage Safari groups with items like peroxide, bleach, vinegar, dishwasher soap, etc.  None of them worked for me.  Nor for my friends...

But I did stumble on something that DID work, but alas and alack, it's been discontined as of May 2015.  From the Johnson Wax company, it's their blend of Fantastik with Scrubbing Bubbles and Oxy Power.  It's the blue bottle with the white sprayer.  (not the new stuff out there now)  It looks like this:

The company canned reply to our queries is this:

We’re sorry to tell you that Oxy Power® Scrubbing Bubbles® Grease & Stain Remover with fantastik® was discontinued in May of this year. While the product had some great fans, there just wasn’t enough demand to continue producing it. We’re sorry if that’s disappointing news.

Perhaps looking in small mom and pop hardware stores, grocery shops or places where the inventory doesn't turn over too fast, you might still find some.  Let me know if you do!  

Last week I helped someone with a project-----

I have some friends who needed their entire motorhome ceiling scrubbed, and due to a long-ago back/neck injury, she was unable to do it herself.  After too many years of looking at those stains, and nicotine smoke discoloration, we decided to tackle it and use up 2 bottles of the precious cleaner. 

Here are some of the "before" pics of the stains
(this is an old stain, the leak has been fixed long ago)

Cold air coming out of the sheet metal lined chute on the roof air
leaves awful black streaks on the carpeted ceiling near the outlet vents.

Gathering our supplies, we went to work on a cold fall day. 

We covered all the furniture, dash, and woodwork with drop cloths....   plastic or old sheets work well. 

We used fresh white terry cloth rags and a spray bottle of hot water.  First we spritzed the Fantastik onto the ceiling in small sections, about 2ft x 2 ft.  I held a rag horizontally underneath with one hand as I spray to keep the mist from falling down to the floor below.  Using that same now-damp rag, I scrub a little bit to work in the cleaning solution into the nap of the carpeting.  

This is the hard part.... letting it SIT!    
Seriously, leave it alone a while. 
Let it work itself. 
Take a break, 10-15 minutes.  

Suddenly it's getting lighter!  Now take a bottle of hot water, spritz onto the ceiling and it magically dissolves the bad stains!  Using a stiff bristle brush, I would scrub back and forth a few times and you can see IMMEDIATE progress!  It's like night and day as each section that is completed. 

It sure gives a sense of satisfaction as you get each part done.  We would have one part soaking while spritzing water and brushing the previous section.  

We did take a break for some lunch, but it really only took us about 3 hours... amidst our giggling, laughing, goofing off. We also had to chase off the captain of the ship who kept coming out to inspect our progress!!!

This is that bad stain next to the light fixture from that first picture

Yup, this was the worst spot right over the driver's seat.

We were kinda proud of the job we did...
because the entire ceiling needed to be scrubbed.
(looking from back to the front)

We had a nice breezy wind so we were able to open the windows up and let the
air help to dry the carpeting... and give us fresh air to work with.

This is from the front to the rear, yes, all the stains are pretty much gone....

Why do manufacturers discontinue something when it's a good working product? I have tried their new green bottle stuff, and white bottle stuff, from Fantastik, but it does not work the same.  Sigh. 

Well, time to douse myself with some night time cold medicine and see if I can kick this thing that has me down. I wanted to get up to my dad's today, but no sense being sick and bringing my germs to a very ill man.  Tomorrow is a Packer Game so I plan to stay right on this couch and soak up some chicken veggie soup and watch the Packers win.... 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Double Family Whammy and Living Room Floor is Done

Yes, it's now confirmed as we feared.  My step-father Lowell has pancreatic cancer.

My step dad is temporarily in Ohio with Mom in an apartment... they are close to the docs of his choice and his daughter and son.  Mom is trying to keep it all together, but we will probably head down there sometime soon to see if we can help and use up some vacation time.  They live in Florida, but chose docs in Ohio that my stepsister knows and works with and easier to get into than the VA in Florida. I don't know how my mom is going to get through this. This is gonna be rough for the holidays on all of us.

This news is on top of my father having lung/kidney/bladder cancer.  My father's name is Steve. Yes I am daughter of a Steve, sister to a Steve and also wife of a Steve.

We are helping Dad as best we can. My Steve is working Mon-Fri so we are still bound to staying by home during the week.  Running up to my dads is 250 miles round trip each time. I try to go up once a week during the week to help out.  I do all I can to set up things and handle stuff over the phone, or mailing up packages.  "You Fit It Ships" boxes are handy....  He is on Hospice, has visiting nurses, has Meals on Wheels now, and he is no longer driving or even walking outside to the mailbox.  My brother Steve was there on Wednesday and got him up to a doc appointment, and picked up things he needed.  We are so thankful that sibings can help out and take turns.  It is tough when we all live so far away.

Please keep us in your prayers and send kind thoughts our way as our family gets through this.  We are doing what we can to help, but the reality is that both father figures in my life are struggling with this horrible disease. Prayers and kind thoughts are most appreciated.

Trying to keep my mind busy and keep me from going crazy, I need to be "doing something"... ya know?  

Since Steve ripped out the wall-to-wall carpeting in the foyer, livingroom and diningroom, I have been slowly sanding, staining and sealing sections of the floors with coats of polyurethane.  Last week I finished the diningroom.  This week is the livingroom.

When Steve removed the carpeting, the floors were in great shape structurally.  No holes or warpage.  We cleaned them up and dampmopped them.  There are some water rings that left marks in the varnish around the fireplace.  The previous owner's daughter said that was probably from the Christmas tree stand.

 The varnish finish is "dimpled" with marks from the texture of the carpet padding.  
There are deep splotches of something near the pocket doors.

Although we already had put a large wool oriental rug in here, we really wanted to redo the wooden borders around the room.  The doorway into the foyer area was the worst, with some blotches of something that could not scrub off, it was through the varnish and into the wood.  

Some folks might wonder why don't we just bring in a big floor sander and start from scratch and redo the entire floor from raw wood on up?  Well, we could.   But.... (there is always a but)  you could never get that same golden/reddish hue of the old wood. There is a shine to the woodgrain that looks like that tigereye jewel stone.  Like you can look into the wood and see glints of gold down deep. 

You could never replicate the lights and darks of the 101 years of yellowing or gaining that patina that only old wood has.  If we sanded it all and stained with new, it would look like ... well... a new floor!    Call me crazy, but I wanted to do it this way. My way. 

Out came my little sander with the "finger" attachment that lets me sand just on the bad spots.  It lets me pick and choose and get in between the lines of the hardwood. This area between the livingroom and diningroom is the worst for wear and spots... some paint spots too from over the years were able to be sanded out as well as the blotches and scratches.  

You can see the definite line from an area rug that laid here for many years, 
with the outer edges of the room exposed to UV but the center protected.  
That isn't a problem because we are putting the big wool oriental rug back in here. 
I sanded some of the paint spots that were in the light areas too...

Even though I had done the foyer in the spring, there were two bad spots that I never really ground down on or restained. (I was too scared to mess with it back then)  but now that I know what I am doing, I also got those two areas completely redone too. 

Once I had all the sanding done, then I shop vacced it good, and tack cloth / damp mopped with a swifter pad too.  Now it was time for my "magic" of blending some Valspar red oak stain, and then some Olde Maple Minwax Polyshades... I am able to get close to the same color as the existing wood.  On some of the water mark rings I had to go a bit darker, but it covered them quite well.  

After letting that dry, then I did up two coats of quick drying floor poly.  It is low-odor and fast drying. I use a wide pad on a long handle and spread it evenly without causing bubbles.  I did the first coat in the evening and spread a second coat right before bed... so it could dry overnight. 

The floor just GLEAMED in the worklights...
and we gated off the way into the diningroom just in case the doggers got through.
See that part that I had sanded previously? It is all stained to match now...

It's a good thing we live in a house with two staircases.  We could use the kitchen and laundry area, and spend the evening upstairs in the bedroom.  We were cozy with our laptops, tv and the doggers on the bed.  They didn't seem to mind, eh? 

We awoke to let the dogs down in the early morning darkness to see what we did....
they wanted to know where their furniture, toys and comfy sheepskin were????
They were perplexed. 

Steve helped me put most of the furniture back. I still had to finish the little 8x3 spot where the couch had been the night before. It didn't take long and was dry by the time Steve got home from work.  Now it was time to put the room "back together" .... Steve cut and nailed in the quarter round trim strips (but we are short two lengths and have to go buy some more and stain/varnish them to match) 

I know the rug takes up a large portion of the room, but it also covers that transition from the dark to the light wood, and seems to pull it all together.  It's not a very big room.  The diningroom is actually larger. But when we close the pocket doors and light the gas fireplace, it's pretty cozy. 

We decided to switch around the two corners... and put Steve's chair by the window.
Moving the tv to the other corner made more sense, but we had to run a new antenna coax. 
Steve had that done in about five minutes, what a guy! 

The foyer came out much nicer this time... and I was able to remove the worn spot near the front door. It was made from many years of people standing in the same spot, and grabbing the doorknob to go out to get the mail.  It think all those years of pivoting with a shoe on the wood wore it down... Now that its refinished, I think because we wear socks, it will stay nicer.  I hope. 

The dogs were VERY happy to find their sheepskin
restored to it's original spot...

I had a tickle in my throat last night before bed... and this morning woke up with a congested chest, coughing and sore throat.  I am going to slather myself with Vicks now and head up to bed to rest.  I simmered chicken veggie soup all day, and the house smells great.  Hope I can kick this out of my system.  Steve is coming down with the same thing too.  If we are sick, we can't be much help to the other family members who need us so much more!