Looking back over the past several weeks, it’s hard to believe I actually purged, packed, and cleaned all that I did. But I did, and yes, I’m tired. I’m catching up with naps.
Since my apartment won’t be available until August 1, I’ve temporarily set up camp in an extended stay hotel where I’ll be foraging among bags, plastic containers, and suitcases for this and that. This month will also give me time to learn about the Middleton/Madison area, become familiar with streets I’ll be using, and spending time with Cousin Bob.
It took the two guys a couple hours to load the truck, but when they first walked into the duplex, they were delighted to see everything packed so well.
The two men assigned to my move were Nik and Will, young men working as movers during a very hot summer. They were a delight.
These two fellas worked tirelessly and efficiently. My few items of furniture were carefully wrapped, and items were placed in the truck in a very organized and logical manner. Everything made it to the storage place without incident.
Like me, they were impressed with the lush, rolling landscape of the south central Wisconsin area.
I learned the other day from pal Patti that when cell phone photos are taken of oneself with another, such photos are referred to as “ussies” instead of “selfies.” Right. What do I know? Unfortunately, due to various constraints, I wasn’t able to get ussies of all my pals before relocating to Wisconsin. Will make an effort to get more when I go back down to Columbia MO for a visit this fall before I’m locked in with a Wisconsin winter.
Warning: These are unedited photos where cell phone technology captures all the marvels of aging, creping skin which others and I fret over. We suffer from looking one age, but feeling twenty, maybe thirty years younger. And I know we are not alone.
I asked the waiter to take a family photo during a recent brunch outing. The camera angle makes all the young people look a lot larger than they really are. Honest!! I’ve apologized. From left: son-in-law Paul, granddaughter Laura, Paul’s mother and my gal pal, Kathy, me, granddaughter Kaylin, son, Adam, and stepdaughter, Caryn.
Missing are photos of other important Columbia MO pals: Neveda, Betsy, Mary Kaye, Bonnie H, Pam, new neighbor, Marcia. I’ll attempt to get “ussies” with them when I visit and then add them below.
I have a penchant for structure. I like knowing “if this, then that.” In my mind, predictability is the bedrock of morality and a functioning society. Equal justice means we all adhere to the same laws, and when we transgress, we face the same punishments.
Some laws are codified and some are inherent in the functioning of our society. Some of our laws are simply cause and effect, which then become axioms. If I eat too much, I will become fat. Or, we eat healthy foods first because dessert will spoil our appetite.
Most of us are taught such laws and rules of conduct as we grow up. This helps us navigate life with minimal embarrassment or conflict. Even most of our sciences are based on proven or accepted laws. Our progress has depended upon accepting what our previous generations had proven true and building upon those foundations. I find all of this comforting and rational.
Even the dismal science of economics is replete with laws: supply and demand, time value of money, marginal utility, to name a few. All rely on a predictable relationship by which we make sense of our economic system. And because money drives so much behavior, economic rules bleed into behavioral norms as well, so it’s not just the money which is at stake.
I understand traditional finance rules, and have based my own investing and saving on these rules. I relied on predictable outcomes for my financial decisions. While the free market has long been nipped and tucked by government intervention, I believed that the central architecture of our capitalistic system was both structured and highly predictable.
I am now at an age when my earning years are at an end, and I just rely on the savings accumulated over a lifetime of working and savings. But now, suddenly I am told that being a “saver” is of no value. Negative interest rates say, “Sucker. You should be a gambler…that is where the rate of return is.”
I remember the days when it was lamented that our savings rate was too low, and we were told that we should look at market fundamentals before investing ANYTHING in the stock market. Now, however, we are told we don’t need to understand the fundamentals. The analyst has a “pick” that is a sure winner. Book value, price/earnings ratios, and income statements all suddenly seem superfluous. Have we lost our way in the greed of the moment, or have our system’s axioms been a cruel hoax from the beginning?
I do not have answers to these questions. I do not know if rationality will return to the market, or if our economic system will ever be rational again. Perhaps this Monte Carlo will endure, and we will continue seeing prices soar based on emotions and the belief that this auction is never over.
How does this ever unwind? If it doesn’t, everything ever taught about the economy’s rules must be rewritten. But if by some chance, the old, rational rules reassert themselves, a terrible price will be exacted. Human suffering will be immense.
It must then be asked why we ever thought we could escape the inevitable, inexorable, invisible hand of the market.
Well, not really. The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, a U-Haul truck pulled into the cul-de-sac and was parked to receive stuff. When I woke up Sunday morning, there was another one.
Busy, busy, busy around here these days. I’m not doing the U-Haul gig. Two Men and a Truck will move my stuff up to Wisconsin. I’m lazy.
Received an email a couple days ago from the assistant manager of LeSilve, the apartment complex I liked the most. They had a new opening in the building that allowed dogs and cats, would send me photos, and if I liked the apartment, leasing paperwork would be sent. I enjoyed seeing the photos and a video clip, sent a “yes-I’ll-take-it” email, and I felt very grateful and fortunate.
No balcony or patio. Better yet–a four season sunroom!!! With this being Wisconsin, I’ll get much more use out of the sunroom.
Chaos. The kind that comes from purging, packing, and having a garage sale.
The kitchen chaos station. It drives me crazy.
Living room mixture of stuff to be moved and stuff to sell at the garage sale
Hallway. Oh, there are my old slippers!
BACK TO THE GOOD
A fun moving sale. I invited a few pals to bring stuff over. It was great meeting folks and chatting away. I failed to convince anyone they needed some 1960s era men’s handkerchiefs in original packaging…leftovers from cleaning out my dad’s bureau. I had his 1940s era slide rule and instruction book out on a table, but someone suggested I look up its value. I did and took it back into the duplex.
Some of the leftover items will be taken to Goodwill. Others I will put outside on a sunny day with a “Free” sign, like the two baskets in the photo above.
Meet My New Best Friend
I have a love/hate relationship with my smart phone. It’s mostly hate because 1) it interrupts me too often with texts from well-meaning friends and family, and 2) I keep misplacing the damn thing.
Honestly, I will have it in my hand one minute, set it down, and then when I need it, a major search gets underway. I get pissed off, start mumbling, and I end up knocking on the door of my new neighbor, Marsha, and asking her to come over and call my phone. “I know it’s in there. If I hear it, I’ll be able to find it. I’ve looked everywhere!” I plead.
Went through that scenario twice in one week, and I said, “That’s enough. Surely Amazon has a gadget that helps you find your phone.” Indeed. There are several, actually. I ordered the one pictured above. My phone now sports a red plastic thingy on the back. When I press the red key icon on the remote device, my phone beeps. It’s terrific. The remote control gadget sits in a little stand and stays in one place in the living room. If I find that I want to have the same assistance finding other things, there are three more color thingies I can attach to things. It’s humiliating enough to need help finding the damn phone. Why do I get the feeling that I am preparing myself for assisted living?
Having to inform important entities about my change of address.
Being stuck with website chat beings programed with a set number of responses, none of which answer my question; all of which raise my blood pressure.
Being stuck on multiple levels of phone trees because a website chat function didn’t help me, so I have to sit and listen to music I hate and reminders to keep holding.
(Hats off to the websites that employ actual humans to chat about inquiries.)
Knowing I will have to go through all of this again. My cousin, Bob, agreed to be my interim address for important mail while I reside in an extended stay hotel during July. I move into the apartment on August 1, so by the middle of July I’ll be back at it.
At least it’s a simple process to have the U.S. Postal Service forward mail to a new address. Thumbs up to their website.
Almost Done Packing
I am creating bins of things I’ll need to have on hand while I’m staying at the extended stay hotel: Stuff for the dog. Stuff for my photography. Stuff needed for office/laptop functioning. Bathroom stuff. The pharmacy. Clothes and shoes.
Meanwhile, cabinets and drawers are almost empty. The garage has been cleaned out. I’m just about at the stage where I just throw unrelated things into boxes and tell myself I’ll figure it out once I’m in Wisconsin.
Gal Pal Susan and I went up to Wisconsin on May 5, and returned to Columbia, MO on May 10. After the long drive up there, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at Compadres Mexican Restaurant. We returned to the hotel room and binged on HGTV programs because neither of us has access to that channel here in Columbia (by choice). Never turned on the news even once. Just binged on home improvement shows. Fun!
We had a very productive first couple of days as we scouted out Middleton, my target area for relocation. There were four appointment tours scheduled, but once we saw the area where my favorite two choices were located, that was it. I canceled the other two tours.
Lady In Waiting
The housing market is hot everywhere these days, including the rental market. I decided to apply to be on the waiting list for an apartment at LeSilve apartments. The apartments there are a bit older, more traditional, some are large, and the mature landscaping was so lovely when compared to newer urban styled complexes. I’m on the waiting list for a 2BR 2bath unit, my application has been approved, and now I’m back in Columbia purging and packing.
Took some photos with my phone outside LeSilve apartments:
I will vacate my duplex on/by June 30 and situate myself in an extended stay hotel in the Middleton area until an apartment comes available. It could be later in the summer; thus, I decided to go up, stay in a temporary place so I could enjoy the summer up there, become familiar with roads, and learn typical routes I will take to various places.
Because the decision about an apartment was made so easily and quickly, Susan and I then had time to be tourists. We had dinner with my cousin, Bob, on Friday at Porta Bella in Madison. Before we left, we had some Chinese food with him in Middleton on Sunday at Taigu. Because of COVID, they only prepared for take-out, but we were able to sit inside and have our meal.
Up Close and Personal with Frank Lloyd Wright
On Saturday, Susan and I spent some time doing drive-by stops at homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Because these are private properties, we could not see much of the designs except for the Unitarian Meeting House. Susan has a degree in design, so she was busy taking all kinds of photos. I just walked around, but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this front porch, located across the street from one of the FLW designed homes.
For both of us, the highlight of the whole visit to was the tour of Taliesinhttps://www.taliesinpreservation.org/, Frank Lloyd Wright’s primary residence for 48 years. This large estate has a fascinating family history and ongoing support these days to preserve all that can be preserved. Susan was very familiar with his work; I only knew the name and the fact that a few of his students designed some homes here in Columbia.
We came away from the tour pretty mesmerized by the genius and originality of Mr. Wright, plus the acknowledgement that he had a huge ego, was a bit of a narcissist (according to our guide), and spent a ton of money on original Asian art. His was a life fully lived, touched by love, ambition, and tragedy, and motivated by continual experimentation. Fascinating.
Twelve weeks ago, I had no idea I would be relocating to Wisconsin. But after Mom passed away on March 2nd, I started thinking, “Now what?”
One evening a group of us were talking about traveling, and gal pal Gail mentioned having an interest in Portugal. Toward the end of the discussion, Gail said, “I just want to have one last adventure.”
A few weeks after this gathering, I was an elderly orphan. I remember asking myself, “Well, what’s your next adventure, Jenny?”
“Leave Missouri and move to a blue state. I’ve been here over 40 years and although I’ve enjoyed most of it, I need a change.”
As it turned out, blue states are farther away than I’d like, so I settled on the swing state of Wisconsin. It is near where I had my developmental years in northern Illinois, and I have a first cousin, Bob, who has lived there since his college days in the 70s. I remember visiting him there and becoming quickly infatuated with Madison. In recent months, we have been enjoying weekly chats on Zoom.
Another plus to the Madison, Wisconsin area is water. One item on my bucket list is to spend my final years near lakes. There are two large lakes right there, plus the Lake Michigan of my childhood is just a leisurely drive to the east.
I am going up to the Madison area to look at apartments with gal pal Susan. I am not ready to move into an independent living community for 55+ folks. I prefer to be around people of various ages, and the small city of Middleton, just west of Madison, is my target area. I like the suburban feel there and the easy drive to Madison for all that it offers. https://visitmiddleton.com/
So that’s the plan. My last adventure will be to create a final chapter for myself in a vibrant, progressive area of Wisconsin near lakes, parks, trails, and many other venues of interest. I’ll come back to visit friends and family here in Columbia, Missouri, but I am also expecting friends and family to come up and experience Wisconsin…in the spring, summer, and fall, of course. Winter is a whole other matter. Winter will give me an excuse to shop for long underwear and more substantial outdoor clothing, and it will give me an opportunity to practice “Hygge,” a lifestyle popular in Denmark and Norway where winter is far more severe than in Wisconsin.
And yes, I’ll be scouting out potential assisted living communities for the future. But for now, I’m betting on having a few years of active, independent living near lakes, and a first class university with first class medical care right there.
Several weeks ago we had a somewhat brutal (to me) cold snap. Local ponds iced over and folks stayed inside. I drank a ton of homemade hot cocoa.
There is a very small pond in my area at a nearby park called Louisville Dr. Park. The park is not large, but it has a shelter for gatherings, a basketball practice area, a walking trail, a children’s play area, and plenty of open air space for sunny picnics. It’s even starting to collect a few memorial benches.
Eventually, the temperatures warmed up a bit and ponds in the area lost their iced armor. I took my camera over to Louisville Dr. Park at sunset to see what I could capture. It was interesting to see how the light changed.
(This is the final “Parental Journal” entry for this blog.)
On Monday, March 1, I received my last kiss from my mom.
It was the first day visitors were allowed to schedule visits again, and I was on the books for a one-hour visit with Mom at 2 pm. I was contacted by two staff persons the Friday before because they wanted me to know that Mom’s decline had become more pronounced due to her not wanting to eat much.
At about 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 1st, I was called and asked if I could come “now.” Mom had had a difficult weekend. When I arrived, there were indications that her passing would likely happen soon, and the hospice coordinator confirmed this.
Mom was experiencing the expected agitation that often happens…pulling at her blanket, reaching out, moving her hand to her throat and then to her abdomen. At one point, I took her hand and she squeezed it. I squeezed back, and then when her eyes were opened a bit, I leaned over and said, “Hi Mom. I’m so glad I can visit you today.” I could see that she recognized either my face or my voice. She pulled our locked hands to her mouth and kissed my hand. “Oh…you gave me a hand kiss,” I said. “Thank you! I’ll give you a hand a kiss, too!”
Throughout the day and night, we would often hold hands and she would firmly bring my hand to either her mouth or her chest. I was thrilled because my goal was being realized: that I would be with her during her transition time and she would know she was not alone. I spoke to her frequently, hummed melodies, and played soothing meditation music to comfort us both. My hand rested on her arm, and I watched as she transitioned through the various stages of end-of-life breathing. Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 2…my birthday…I rang for the nurse and said I thought my Mom was gone. Her death was confirmed.
Personally, I thought it was wonderful that she transitioned out of this life on the same month and date she brought me into this life. Very cool, actually. Way to go, Mom.
I can see her blue eyes light up as she responds with a smile…”You’re welcome!”
Those who travel the journey of a long-term illness with their loved ones know that the grieving process begins long before the final days. This is especially true for families dealing with dementia/Alzheimer’s.
Being on this journey with Mom has been one of the most meaningful and profound experiences of my life, and I am grateful to have shared this time with an extraordinarily determined, witty, feisty, independent, and caring woman: Pearl Inez Leogrande. August 16, 1926 – March 2, 2021.
Beyond my little black deck there are old woods that lead down to Perche Creek. After leaves have fallen, I witness beautiful sunset colors that flow behind bare branches. It can be a spectacular sight, and I began to think about where in this small city I could find an expanse where I could practice photographing sunsets enhanced by other aspects of nature like clouds, trees, ponds.
Lucky me. About half a mile from where I live there is a new housing development on the very west side of town: Breckenridge Park. Beyond the development to the west, the land slopes down to Perche Creek and farmland. Bingo. A great place to practice photographing sunsets.
Brian Lloyd Duckett is a British photographer/instructor I have followed via YouTube and the newsletter he puts out. His instructions are clear and understandable for this aging brain. Plus he’s not a kid.
One of the lessons Brian stresses is to “have projects.” As a forever beginner, I am dabbling in a bit of this and a bit of that. After this first sunset outing, I now have a project. Sunsets are fine, but I am more interested in cloud formations within them and shadow features like trees…maybe people…interesting and familiar objects.
Now that the weather is getting better, each day I check the weather forecast. I want to know if there will likely be nice sunsets. Later in the day, I check the sky. Any clouds around? If so, then I check to see what time the sun will be setting, and if I’m motivated enough, I think about where I might visit to experiment more with this “project.”
There is something comforting about looking back and remembering others who were instrumental in helping us become the people we are. As we age, many of us seem to spend a bit more time looking back at our lives and thinking about those who helped us become who we are.
Contributor friend, Bonnie M, sent me an email the other day:
My mom used to find art teachers for me when I was growing up in Cleveland, sometimes through the Cleveland Art Institute or Museum, other times just through word of mouth. Sandy Diamond was one of those teachers I worked with from the time I was about 12 until about age 18.
Yesterday I remembered a piece I wrote about my “childhood art teacher” when she died five years ago. I had been out to visit her in Port Townsend, Washington in 2011, but I had not seen her since 1971, although we corresponded occasionally over the years.
She was a special soul, gentle yet firm, and encouraged however I did art.
Here is Bonnie’s remembrance of her former art teacher, Sandy Diamond: following:
On hearing of Sandy Diamond’s Passing
The world has lost a vital yet gentle soul. Memories will have to suffice, but enriched by the letters and cards we exchanged in the year before a treasured visit in 2011.
She lived delicately and purposefully, wrote and painted and designed, and most of all, blessed me with her gentle admonitions, no–too strong a world–her gentle wisdom about life, about people, and about art.
She would not want me to write that now I “owe it to her” to paint in her memory. She would suggest otherwise–that I embrace life and embellish it with my art, that I think of it as a “healing bouquet” for others, she had written.
And I, after rediscovering her some 45 years after we first celebrated with art, after recapturing those memories, I wrote to her: ‘I feel as though in going back I can move forward.’
Perhaps that is a suitable tribute to her–moving forward. Not to let darkness prevail, but to let in light, lines, and color. In that way I can honor her memory and offer thanks for the gifts she bestowed upon me.
Among my group of gal pals, there is Lynette. Petite, feisty, funny, and compassionate, she is a joy to us all, and we love to hear her stories about growing up in a large family. As today’s contributor, Lynette gives us an up close and absolutely true tale of one of her piggy episodes…back in the day.
My dad was a pilot, a respected professional pilot who supported a wife and five reasonably intelligent children.
However, in his heart he was a farmer, a farmer who dreamed big dreams of vast rolling acres of verdant cropland and fields of fat prize winning livestock.
There would be ranch hands, field hands, and the admiration of his peers on market days.
The reality was a pretty, relatively small 80-acre farm, predominantly of timber. It was a start.
Into this pre-empire, Dad installed a dozen piglets into a hog house he built himself. It included a sturdy wire fence that surrounded a concrete outside pad where said piggies could sun and frolic when they weren’t eating their way to market.
They were well looked after as Dad “Flyboy” watched their progress, but it wasn’t long and he thought they seemed bored. After all, how many games of “got your tail” can any of us really enjoy?
Bowling balls were the answer, their master read in one of his farm magazines. They could be snouted around in some version of swine soccer, I suppose.
That worked for a while, but after a bit of time, the players soon were bored again. Bowling balls were followed by rubber car tires, another suggestion from the magazine, and the piggies liked them. Finally. Fat, happy piggies.
All went well until the pilot wasn’t able to go out to this paradise in the making due to the family home being in town. One day he asked me to go check on their food and water needs, a function for which I was occasionally pressed into service.
Upon arrival, I immediately recognized an unusual situation. One of the residents was now wearing a tire. If you can recall Disney’s “Fantasia” with the tutu wearing hippos, you can get a smellier version of the scene. The poor guy was trotting around the pen enduring the derision of his fellows–an untenable situation.
Putting on my boots, I climbed over the fence to deal with the tire, much to the delight of the pack who had always found me inept in our other dealings. We had a merry time for the next few minutes with lots of squealing, most of it coming from the pigs.
I chased the victim who misjudged my intentions. Who could blame him, since one of our earlier encounters involved my assisting in divesting him of a couple of his “boy parts.” The chase continued with one of the pigs plucking a glove out from my back pocket and the others trying to get it away from him. Chasing after the thief, I realized that I was now an unwitting participant in yet another version of “got your tail.”
I was getting nowhere.
I hopped over to the less congested side of the fence and considered my options. I immediately decided this was not to be an audience participation event. Then I noticed that the tire-wearer had retreated to a far corner of the pen and was sitting on his haunches next to a blowing ball. This was my opportunity to reenter the arena and herd the others into a separate gated area, leaving just the forlorn ballerina and me to sort this out.
Over the fence I went again as I spotted an extravagant growth of purple flowering clover. Picking a generous handful, my plan was made.
I casually sauntered over to the pig, bearing this peace offering of clover. After a coy refusal, the tired guy rose and approached. I pushed the bouquet toward him and he accepted, unaware of my scheming plan. I jumped up on the fence, planted my feet halfway up, braced myself, lurched over, and grabbed the tire. The surprised porker backed away leaving us in a tug situation now with more of me over on his side. He was just as determined to get away from me as I was to keep my grip on the manure covered tire. But with one last mutual tug, he freed himself which sent me and the tire backward into the mud on my side of the battlefield. I was now covered in some of the stuff that made the clover so abundantly lush.
I won’t share the details of my fragrant dive back to town, but I did provide a nice bit of entertainment for any neighbor who might have been watching my backyard hose down.
I related the incident to my family when I went into the house. My grandfather helpfully suggested that it might have been easier to have pulled the tire from the rear, but I pointed out that it would have been hard to get that end interested in the clover.
The hogs and I enjoyed many exciting experiences over the next few months since I seemed to be well suited for these things. They even seemed to perk up when they saw my car…remembering the good times, I guess.