The Move Back to Columbia

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 early morning

In early March of this year, I decided to end my Wisconsin adventure and move back to Columbia MO for two major reasons:

I missed my family and friends, and realized that as I aged, the logistics of dealing with my physical and/or mental decline and my death would be easier for everyone if I lived in COMO. Just call it a reality check.

The Madison, Wisconsin area is fabulous…but larger than I thought. I realized that Columbia has a sense of place for me, a concept I had never considered. There was long-term familiarity. I was too old to establish a sense of place in the Madison area, but on the positive side, I loved being able to spend in-person time with my cousin, Bob, I made some new friends, I connected with PhotoMidwest (a fabulous organization for photographers), and I became quite familiar with an area I can return to and enjoy for its cultural offerings, lakes, and gorgeous spring, summer and fall seasons. As for winters, I experienced two. The first was not much different from a typical winter in mid-MO, except the temps were a bit colder. Everyone blamed the lack of snow on climate change. This past winter was more like it. We had nice rounds of snow, but nothing overwhelming. After I left in March, they had three fairly hefty snowfalls, so I dodged those bullets.

Settling In

I had a team of three gal pals help me find a wonderful condo rental in a very familiar and convenient location. They checked it over in person, told me “It’s you,” I signed a two year lease, and contacted Two Men and a Truck to get me moved back.

It took about a week or so to unpack all the boxes, and within a few weeks I was mostly settled in. Now I’m organizing things and adding a few touches here and there.

The Biggest Adjustment

The whole time I was packing for the move back to Columbia and unpacking once I got here, I saw my angel boy, Cinnamon, go through a continual decline. I adopted him from the Humane Society when he was 11 and sported a huge cataract. He turned 18 this past February and became mostly blind and deaf, was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease, and he started having mobility issues. About a week ago, I had a quality of life consultation with our vet. Because of his age and disabilities, I told the vet that I didn’t want Cinnamon to go through the pain and discomforts of end stage kidney failure. He agreed that the decision was a compassionate one, and C was escorted over the Rainbow Bridge.

Two days before our vet visit, I gave C a hair trim. The day before our visit, I gave him a warm, gentle bath in the tub. The morning of our visit, he had a pretty good breakfast, and a bit before our vet visit we shared a banana.

For those who have been on this journey, you have shed the same tears.

I miss him with all my heart.

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Heading Back to Columbia, Missouri in 2023

November 14 2022

My adventure in moving from Columbia, Missouri to Middleton, Wisconsin in July of 2021 has been wonderful, but more importantly, it has been an interesting learning experience.

Here are the wonderful aspects:

My first cousin, Bob, and I have had time to reconnect and bond. Since he doesn’t drive, we’ve had fun adventures exploring some restaurants, getting to and from various appointments, and doing errands. Plus, he’s had a chance to meet various friends and family members who made it up here for visits. We are the last two of our core family. Our mothers were sisters, so this time reconnecting with him has been golden.

Lakes. I wanted to live near lakes, and it has been fabulous to be in this area where there are several small lakes and then Lake Michigan less than 3 hours away. Not only lakes, but this area is famous for its outdoor activities made possible by so many parks, conservancy areas, hiking/biking routes, water sports, winter sports, etc.

Culture: Symphonies, Broadway musicals, local theater, regional festivals, outdoor markets, live music in so many places every night of the week, a huge variety of restaurants, botanical gardens, art venues, the University of Wisconsin and all that it offers to the public and located right next door to the state Capitol which is just a few steps from groovy State Street and all its retail, beverage, and eatery options. Lots to do in the greater Madison, Wisconsin area. I will miss the options, especially the Overture Center for the Arts.

Some new friends: Neighbors Jill and Peg have invited me to join them on some outings for fresh corn, apple cider donuts, and Friday fish fry. Yong Joo and Jan are two ladies who also transplanted themselves to the Madison area in 2021 and because Jan and I met at a Panera’s, the three of us have enjoyed some outings, coffee chats, and meals together. I will miss them, but we will keep in touch and my plan is to return for visits since this lovely lake area is only a 7 1/2 hr. drive from Columbia, MO.

Spring, Summer, and Fall: Outstanding weather. Gorgeous landscapes. For decades I have hated the hot/humid summer months of July and August in Missouri. It’s not going to get any better with climate change, but at least I found a place to retreat to if I want to visit some lovely lake areas in the future.

What I’ve Learned:

I miss my family and friends far more than I thought I would. I thought it would be easy to travel back and forth and to have visitors, but it’s not so easy. Road trips at my age require getting out of the car every hour or so to stretch and get blood back in circulation. Traveling with a 17-yr-old dog who is deaf and mostly blind has many challenges. Friends and family are busy with their own families, travels, jobs, and hobbies.

Although I knew the population of this area was a bit over twice that of Columbia, Missouri, I didn’t realize how big that would actually feel. Although things are not rushed and hectic as they would be in cities like Chicago or Milwaukee, I learned that I missed the slower pace of Columbia as well as the quaintness of downtown, despite the ugly student high rise apartments that have gone up in recent years. The same thing is happening in Madison and its suburban areas.

Also, the medical system here is HUGE. Columbia has an excellent teaching/research medical complex, but it feels much more manageable than what I observed here in the Madison area. I’ve had excellent doctors here, and I especially like my allergy/asthma specialist. Thankfully I’ve had no major health issues to deal with. But I will in the future, and I learned I want to be where buildings and medical systems are familiar…where I’d have more of a support system when needed.

What I Will Go Back to:

Friends and family.

There is a “sense of place” I have when I think of Columbia, Missouri. I am too old to acquire that here in Wisconsin. I would be a permanent tourist, and that is not enough, I now realize.

I will return to familiar grocery stores, streets and neighborhoods, Rag Tag Cinema, easy drives to the homes of family and friends, and some cultural events sponsored by the city of Columbia or the University of Missouri. It was good to be in a college town vibe up here in Wisconsin, and I will enjoy the same in Columbia.

It will be necessary to explore Kansas City and St. Louis more if I want to enjoy Broadway shows, various museums, and major symphonic/live entertainment experiences. Both are easy drives from Columbia, so enjoying some weekends in those locations is quite doable.

What Am I Doing Now?

Purging, of course. Donating books and items I moved here but haven’t used in the past few years. Selling some furniture that I don’t intend to move back to Columbia.

Researching apartment communities and duplex neighborhoods for rentals. I’ve learned that I like both environments because they have a sense of community; plus, it’s easy to chat and get to know people. I found that owning or renting a home requires more work. I’m old and lazy now. I want fewer responsibilities.

Researching moving company options. Will get some estimates. It will be an easy move because it will be minimum stuff for a 2 br apt.

Packing. Yep. Stuff I won’t be needing over the winter is getting packed. I’ll be moving in late spring or the summer, depending on when I find something, so whatever I can get done now will mean less purging and packing later.

Thank You, Gail

A couple of years ago, it was my good friend, Gail, who mentioned the idea of “having one last adventure.” That was the seed that sprouted into the idea of moving to a different college vibe location with lakes and saner summer weather.

I am very glad I had this adventure. After over 40 years in the same small city, it was wonderful to live somewhere else for a while. I will return to Columbia to be closer to family and friends and to make it my home base from which to have other adventures.

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Photography Hobby – People at the Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison, Wisconsin

June 3, 2022

There were lots of families and kids’ groups at the small local zoo today. Since the weather was perfect, I thought I’d walk around and practice with a new camera lens: Fujifilm 33mm F/1.4.

Guy Time
Just too tired…

Zoo Buddies
Turtle Statue Princess
Hippo Eyeing Family

Watching Zoo Visitors
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Another Massacre of Innocents: It’s Time to Roar with Our Votes

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

With another massacre of innocent school children and personnel, how can we not stand together and demand action and accountability?

Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Green Party and others, it’s time to roar with our votes. At the village level, the federal level, and everywhere in between, anyone running for an elected office must go on record as to whether they support stricter gun laws and a ban on military assault style weapons being sold to the public.

Go to political rallies, town hall meetings, state fairs, everywhere candidates campaign and ask for our support. Say, “No. Not until you pledge in writing to work across party lines to end the gun violence insanity across our nation.”

For anyone who refuses to do so, add their names to a national list of persons who do not deserve our votes. Share that list with social media, billboards, church bulletins, and local newspapers, and do so relentlessly. Week after week. Day after day as elections days approach.

It’s time to roar. Ask. Write. Call. Then VOTE!

NY Times Photo – Robb Elementary School Shooting May 24 2022
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Photography Hobby: Late Winter at Stricker’s Pond, Madison, Wisconsin (March 15, 2022)

March 19, 2022

Now that March is halfway finished, I went out recently to try out a new lens. I haven’t done any photography during the winter months. I drove over to Stricker’s Pond in Madison, Wisconsin, less than two miles from my apartment.

Stricker’s pond is starting to thaw March 2022 copyright jjmummert 2022

Thawing Stricker’s Pond copyright jjmummert 2022

A young visitor came along to look at the thawing pond copyright jjmummert 2022

In addition to a thawing pond, I took a few shots of grocery store flowers I had on the dining room table.

Wilted Petal copyright jjmummert 2022

Grocery store flower copyright jjmummert 2022
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Reacting to Images from Ukraine

March 16, 2022

A person reacts during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Moscow, Russia February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Realization sets in. One sits and cries in the cold.

WHY? What have we done to deserve this?

What will happen to us?

People walk down the boulevard ‘Strasse des 17. Juni’ ahead of a rally against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

People gather to rally in support of Ukraine. Berlin…Amsterdam…Chicago…millions from around the world stand together to march, shout, hold signs, wave flags, sing, and pray. The media is everywhere. It must be. The truth must be told.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – FEBRUARY 27: Thousands of people show solidarity with Ukraine at Dam Square on February 27, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine earlier this week that has killed scores and prompted widespread condemnation from European leaders. (Photo by Cris Toala Olivares/Getty Images)
In this aerial view, demonstrators gather during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Church in Chicago, Illinois, on February 27, 2022. – Dressed in the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets worldwide Sunday denouncing Russia’s invasion of its neighbor. From Berlin to Baghdad, from Washington to Saint Petersburg, demonstrators chanted “shame” against Russian President Vladimir Putin while others waved banners with slogans like “Putin murderer” or “stop the monster.” (Photo by CHENEY ORR / AFP) (Photo by CHENEY ORR/AFP via Getty Images)
KYIV, UKRAINE – FEBRUARY 26: Local residents are boarding an evacuation train driving to the west of Ukraine on February 26, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Explosions and gunfire were reported around Kyiv on the second night of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has killed scores and prompted widespread condemnation from US and European leaders. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

So many desperate people. We have seen this before, many times over in different lands during the last hundred years. Truth is, this familiar story has been witnessed for thousands and thousands of years. Over and over and over.

What do we say to our children?

Please be safe. I love you so much but I am so scared.

photo by USA Today

Just the beginning of what was to come.
photo from Financial Times

Transportation is uncertain, so they walk. In most cases, it’s a long walk. It’s cold. The children are confused. With each step, a sigh that this will end soon. This isn’t right. This makes no sense. Is the world going to let this continue?

photo by NPR

I don’t see apartment buildings in Wisconsin that look like this. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t.

Some people in Russia are trying to tell the truth and demand an end to the war. They keep at it, and I wonder how many protesters their jails can accommodate.

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Moscow on February 24, 2022. – Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, killing dozens and triggering warnings from Western leaders of unprecedented sanctions. Russian air strikes hit military installations across the country and ground forces moved in from the north, south and east, forcing many Ukrainians flee their homes to the sounds of bombing. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Another generation will grow up on the wings of fear, anger, bombs, blood and death.

photo from The Herald

President Zelensky photo from The

When I think of President Zelensky, I think of him as a young boy…as a teenager…as an actor and comedian. How interesting that it is he, this inexperienced politician, leads his country in such a way that the heads of world leaders spin and the hearts of his fellow Ukrainians beat with pride and a fervor to save their democracy. I am in awe of that man, as are billions of others.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – FEBRUARY 28: People take part in a protest condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 28, 2022 in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines. Protests have erupted around the world in support of Ukraine after Russian forces invaded the country earlier this week. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

It is 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, March 16, 2022. The war continues, and according to the news I hear, the goal of world leaders is to assist Ukraine as much as possible with military weapons, humanitarian assistance, and combat intelligence so that World War III can be avoided and nuclear weapons will not be used. Ok…but meanwhile?

I start each day with coffee and an update on the war. My eyes moisten with tears when I listen to Ukrainians tell their stories. Before going to sleep each evening, I listen to an end-of-day update and commentary. More moist eyes.

And then I go to sleep. I am warm. It is quiet. My elderly dog finds me and stretches himself along my right side.

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Wisconsin Time – The Supervisor We All Want

Friday, March 4, 2022

The other day, my cousin, Bob, and I went to Festival Foods, a Wisconsin based supermarket. It’s Bob’s go-to grocery store located near downtown Madison.

I picked up a few items and went to the checkout line. A nice lady scanned through my stuff, but paused when she picked up a bag holding two Russet potatoes. She seemed stumped.

The young man doing the bagging noticed her hesitancy and called the supervisor over. It was then I realized what was happening. The lady was a new employee and she was having a little difficulty with the computer checkout system.

The supervisor came over and provided assistance and an explanation, but not just in an ordinary way. These are days when businesses are desperate for new employees, so when you have a promising new employee, you treat her like family, right?

I could not resist getting out my phone and telling the ladies that I was going to take a picture.

Kudos to Pat, the supervisor we all want.

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WISCONSIN TIME: A Valentine Surprise

Thursday, February 17, 2022

I was expecting Valentine’s Day to come and go as easily as it has for so many decades. Sure, there are memories of a 10-year-old me bringing a decorated box to school to receive valentine cards from others, plus a stash of cards to insert into the boxes of each and every person in my class, including the teacher.

Other than that, Valentine’s Day, Schmalentine’s Day. I was never a fan. Even as a youngster, I knew that special tokens of friendship or love should be surprises, not scheduled events.

Well, I certainly had my Valentine’s Day surprise this year.

I took a friend to the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison for some lab work. A lady in the waiting area told my friend which hallway was the right one, and as I seated myself she said, “I should know. I’ve been here lots of times over the past nine months.”

“Oh, really?” I responded.

She nodded. “Yeah. I had a double lung transplant nine months ago, so I come here a lot.”

My eyes got the size of saucers and my mouth fell open, but because of COVID mask wearing, she could not see how truly dumbfounded I looked.

“Oh my goodness!” I gushed. “A double lung transplant??? Nine months ago??? I am SO happy for you! That is amazing!”

She kept shaking her head yes, and I could tell there was a big smile behind her mask.

And THEN…a woman across the waiting room from us said that she, too, had had a double lung transplant. Hers was done two months ago.

“Really??” I practically screamed. “You, too? Awe…that is so fantastic. I am so happy for both of you ladies!” By this time I was on my feet looking from one to the other…wanting to hug each, but held back by COVID restrictions.

COVID restrictions or no COVID restrictions, they walked toward each other and hugged.

Grabbing my phone I asked, “Can I take a picture of you two ladies? I’ll send you a copy. With your permission, I’d like to share it on my blog. Both said, “Sure,” stood next to each other, and I snapped a photo.

On Valentine’s Day in 2022, I met Michelle S. and Sandy D., both recipients of double lung transplants. And I was in awe.

I was in awe mostly because despite a worldwide pandemic in 2020/2021, these two ladies received the superior medical expertise, and the follow-up care needed to give them new chapters in their life stories.

Kudos to the entire medical team at UW Hospital, and kudos to the family members and friends who have taken care of these lovely ladies during their recoveries. Also, a deep bow of gratitude to the families who approved the organ donations.

Both ladies received the picture I took of them. I sent it via email. That same day, one wrote to me and asked for the email address of the other. She wants to “keep in touch.”

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I Am Absolutely Perfect, of course, and You Are, too!

I am not sure when it started, but I remember being surprised and delighted at first. I think I was at a restaurant ordering lunch, and I chose what seemed to be a basic cheeseburger with coleslaw on the side instead of fries.

“Perfect!” the young server proclaimed with a beaming smile.

Perfect? I asked myself as I smiled back. My choice was “perfect?” It’s just a cheeseburger, right? Or…maybe the burger part comes from a grass-fed Angus cow that was never given a drop of growth hormone or antibiotic. Maybe the cheddar comes from some high-end cheese maker in Wisconsin or Vermont. Maybe this burger is a local favorite and tourists are just unaware of how perfect it is. Ooooh! What if the bun is made of sourdough? Yum!

That was the beginning. From then on, it seemed that almost every time I ordered food at a restaurant, inquired about an air filter at a hardware store, chose new all-season tires, selected a local craft beer, or thanked someone for being helpful, three words kept surfacing: “perfect!” “absolutely!” and “of course!

For example: “I think I’ll have a glass of Riesling, please.”

Response: “Absolutely!”

Absolutely? With an exclamation mark? What happened to “okay” or “sure” or “alright?”

Or this: “Thanks for adding lemon to my water.”

Response: “Of course!”

Of course? Why not say “Sure” or “No problem?”

Here’s what I think happened. Restaurants and the retail industry in general decided that customers needed to feel more welcomed and “special.” If done right, that would lead to more five-star online ratings, generous tips, and repeat customers. Complimentary capitalism at its best.

Staff were trained to enhance their customer service vocabulary, and for a while, consumers like me smiled, felt kind of special, and likely tipped a bit more.

Then it took off. From McDonald’s drive-thru windows to five-star dining establishments…from department stores to specialty craft shops to big box stores…our requests and inquiries were routinely met with responses like “Perfect!” “Absolutely!” and/or “Of course!” They still are and it’s getting stale.

After a recent doctor’s appointment, I had to schedule a follow-up visit.

“So, are we seeing you again soon?” I was asked.

“I need to schedule an appointment for early February.”

“Of course! What day of the week is best for you?”

“I’m retired, so my schedule is quite open.”

“Perfect! Do you prefer early morning or a bit later…in the afternoon sometime?”

“Probably any time after 9 a.m. would work. I like time for morning coffee.”

“Absolutely! How about 9:30 on Thursday, February 3rd?”

“Sure. That works.”


Yeah…that’s me. Absolutely perfect in my choices of food, wine, beer, air filters, tires, and now dates for doctor appointments.

It’s probably just me being a Boomer, but after a few years of hearing words like “perfect,” “absolutely,” and “of course” used with exclamation marks everywhere, I just grit my teeth now, probably much like my parents and grandparents did when they had to listen to everything being “groovy” and “far out.”

Let’s move on, especially from the overuse of “perfect” and “absolutely.” When used so often with so little genuine meaning or sincerity, they now feel cliché and trite.





“You’re welcome”

The simplicity of these words feels good. They make me feel special enough.

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Photography Hobby – Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin

September 12, 2021

In late July I visited Olbrich Botanical Gardens with some family members. These photos were taken with my Samsung S20 Ultra.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a must see for anyone visiting the Madison, Wisconsin area.

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