Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Bullet Dodged

This lady just embarrasses the hell out of me. Finally, a Presidential race with candidates my age and she ends up representing my generation . . . I guess what’s scary is that she is probably an accurate representation of some of the worst behaviors displayed by Generation X.
She has thin skin and long toes. Any critic can get a rise out of this lady; she constantly defends herself. Pick your battles and let some of the crap roll off your back, lady, instead of getting caught up in the petty name-calling. Rise above it. Or maybe she could just wear a shirt that says, “Did Not!”
She kept getting pregnant. I know lots of folks who disagree with me, and I preface this stand with the clarification that I don’t place adoptions or multiple births in the same category. But why would someone born after 1960 have five successful pregnancies? People of my generation should be aware of their impact on the environment and human population is the single largest negative contribution. Two kids per couple is the formula to sustain the population at today’s rates; it’s a benign contribution. A lower birth rate creates a positive impact and a higher one is a hindrance. If everyone did what the Palins did, the earth’s population would increase 2.5 fold in a single generation! (Kudos to Cindy and John McCain for adopting kids who needed a family.)
She personifies the partisan dilemma. This woman cannot collaborate. In every arena of life, it is necessary, even beneficial, for us to learn to understand and respect people who don’t share our views. It doesn’t make sense to expect people to see things precisely the way you do. Yet, Sarah continues to fan the partisan flames by taking meaningless pot shots whenever she gets a chance. How about trying to turn your enemies into friends?
She hunts from a helicopter. ‘Nuff said.
I can’t help thinking that we really dodged a bullet with this one.

A Happy Christmas!

We had a wonderfully uneventful holiday, which is so nice! No hospitals, ambulances, over-night vigils, or tears! It was just a couple days with family and presents. Maybe next year I’ll even decorate . . .
My sister got me tickets to the Toledo Symphony’s upcoming rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, arguably the most recognized piece of music ever composed! I’ve never heard it in person; I’m so excited!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Overseas Holidays

Photo Credit: www.ParisDailyPhoto.com
The Europeans are having some trouble getting around in unusually heavy snows. It looks like lots of folks won't make it home for Christmas.
It sure makes for some pretty scenery, though, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Personal Space

This year, I have two spaces that I’ve never had before.
First, I’m parking in a garage. Wow, I can’t believe how spoiled I feel! I could have been doing this all along, but the new overhead door encouraged me to give it a shot. Besides not having to clear the car, I don’t have to go outside to retrieve all the things that I always forget in the car . . .
My other new space is my own office! I’m 46 years old and I’ve never had my own office. I don’t even know what to do with all this room!


When I was in the Caribbean, I realized how much Midwesterners discuss the weather. Puerto Ricans don’t talk about the weather; it’s the same as it was yesterday, and last week and last month. What’s to discuss? Here, though, you can go from sunny, blue skies to a blizzard and drop 30 degrees in four hours. Who wouldn’t talk about that?
It’s really cold here. Single digits, with double-digit negative wind chill readings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Years Feels Like Yesterday

I close my eyes and Butch and I are sitting there, on the hospital bed, across from three doctors. The young one does the talking, telling us they found more cancer in the abdomen - hundreds of tiny patches of cancer. They are too small to have shown up on the PET scan, the $6K test which assured us there was no cancer outside the chest cavity. The radiation and chemo that have performed wonders on the initial cancer haven’t stopped the undetected metastacized progression in his abdomen.
It takes a few minutes for the words to sink in. Butch recovers before me and asks, “How long do I have?” This time, they defer to the oncologist, the veteran of the trio. He tenses in preparation for what he has to say – “Weeks, maybe a month.”
I want the doctors out of the room. Why are these three strangers staring at us at such an intimate moment? Don’t they have sense enough to leave us the hell alone?!?
I start to cry into a shoulder that has provided my support for over 20 years. Butch, in a gesture that typifies the person he is, tells me, “I’m sorry to put you through this, babe.”
Upon learning that he is dying, he worries about me. I am so lucky to have been loved like this for so many years.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

It’s been sixty-nine years since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This is a picture of the Arizona Memorial, which sits atop the sunken USS Arizona. Straddling only one of the ships lost that day, the memorial commemorates all personnel killed in the attack.
This structure is a stunning tribute which I’ve twice been lucky enough to visit. The first time, I was with my grandmother. Many older Americans still view Japanese (and Germans) as the enemy and my granny was appalled that we were visiting this memorial alongside Japanese tourists. At 19, I didn’t understand her bitterness, but most of the Naval personnel stationed there did.
I used to work with a WWII vet who was sent to Pearl Harbor two days after the attack. It was his job to clean up the mess. He said the smell was unbearable. I can’t imagine.
Thanks to America’s Greatest Generation. They truly gave this nation her golden age.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Candy Counter

Remember when department stores had candy counters? Although there aren’t many department stores anymore, I do know of one place that still has a candy counter - a Ben Franklin store in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Unlike many Ben Franklin stores, this one is thriving, thanks to the vast amount of art supplies it carries. Bowling Green State University is recognized for its Arts program, so the store is a natural fit in this town.
No explanation is necessary for why the candy counter holds its appeal!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Virtual Romance

My model tenant gave me notice that she's moving. She met a guy on Match.com and is moving to Pennsylvania and getting married!
She's a really nice girl and I'm happy for her. I just wish she were marrying someone local so I could keep her!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unhealthy Sentimentality?

I’m usually pretty sentimental, but it’s been more pronounced the last few weeks. I’ve really been missing the past and the people in it, their belongings, the things they did and the places they went.
I’d been thinking about my grandma and her sister, my Aunt Almy, and how they often got together to play cards. Both of their families would attend, with all us kids running around. Aunt Almy had a dog named Pee Wee; he was a fat little terrier whose toenails clicked as he ran across the floor. The kids always snuck sips of the adults’ mixed drinks, which they called “highballs." We banged around my aunt’s vacuum cleaner while hiding in the closets, the attic and the basement. There was a round, flat, glass candy dish with a spired lid that usually held individually-wrapped soft caramels; at Christmas, she had beautiful, sickly-sweet ribbon candy. (I bought one of these candy dishes because it reminds me of Aunt Almy.)

A week ago, I found myself sitting at the very table where all those card games were played; it’s still in the family. Wow, the memories! This resulted in me stopping at a liquor store to buy some Jim Beam because I really wanted a physical sensation to remind me of all those good times. Yep, I needed a highball, which I drank while watching The Wizard of Oz.
A couple days ago, I learned that my grandma’s house is for sale again. Soon after she passed, her estate sold it to a young distant cousin. I was comforted to have it remain in the family. Her house is great – it was built for her by her family, so nobody else had ever lived there. The garage was constructed with salvaged lumber after a fire destroyed the town’s theater; you can see the charred side of the boards from the inside. I love this home; it emits a grandmother’s love, family holidays, organ music, wonderful dinners of roast beef, backyard picnics, miraculous visits from a volunteer fireman dressed as Santa, the childhood security of having someone cover you after you fell asleep. So many of my earliest memories are of this home.
I’m upset that it’s back on the market. There are lots of pictures of the house in the online listing; it doesn’t look like Ging’s home, anymore. I want to stomp my feet and throw a tantrum.
I called Mom as soon as I saw the realty sign; in what must have been a mortified voice, I told her the news. She gently told me, “Things can’t stay the same forever, Nancy.” My head knows that she’s right, but my heart hasn’t accepted it, yet.
The Jim Beam tasted horrible, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Snow

It’s Dec 1, the unofficial start of winter. We have big, puffy snowflakes here in Michigan today.


I saw Burlesque with Sarge last night. It’s a fun flick that leaves you with the impression that you’ve witnessed a live performance. I felt like applauding over and over.
Wow, Christina Aguilera can really belt them out! Cher is as iconic as ever, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

At The Top Of My List

* Loving & supportive family
* Friendships - old, new and renewed
* The impact of those no longer with me
* My health
* My house - built with love in a fab location
* Having a good job (I live in Michigan, after all!)
* The ability to start over

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Wescott House

Springfield has a Frank Lloyd Wright home, the Westcott House. What a beauty!


I love Wright's little spaces.

Especially when he puts them all together.

Another Class

I had a really good class in Springfied on Saturday! The county’s Fair Housing Office somehow learned about the class and sent over these bags as gifts for all the participants! On top of that, a gentleman who facilitates federal lead-safe certification classes attended.
My dream outcome for my class is that someday it could be accessed through city and/or county officials as a remedial offering to landlords who find themselves in trouble. I would love to have education (preferably mine!) be an option to penalties for those who are cited for property violations, discriminatory practices or have tenants escrowing their rent. A partnership with a county Fair Housing Office is a great place to start!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Benefits Of Age

Middle age must be the prime of life. I know that we’re supposed to mourn our youth and dislike aging, but it’s not working that way for me. I think I’m at the balance point on the teeter-totter.
With the exception of losing Butch, I am much happier the older I get. Everything is better when you get older. Storekeepers stop following you around to see if you’re going to steal something. You’re better prepared for a lot of circumstances because you’ve already experienced them.
As you age, you just don’t care as much what people think, so it’s easier to disregard others’ perceptions of you and just do what makes you happy. You get better at using your strengths and learn to compensate for your weaknesses. You are more appreciative of how your body serves you and less concerned with how it looks. You (and your partner) develop even better sexual skills. You start to determine whether your employer meets your needs as well as vice versa. Depending on your nature, you either learn to defend yourself or you develop a bit of diplomacy (guess which applies to me?).
I’m anxious to see if my hair goes grey or white because I have a hairstyle picked out for each. I am excited about taking ElderHostel vacations!

It's All Relative

I just talked to my sister, who’s also thinking about our recent holidays. Mom, apparently, is dreading the upcoming anniversary of her stroke.
After musing over what this year may bring, Sarge said, “At this point, I’d be happy with a good, old-fashioned family fight!”
My sister can always cheer me up!

Floaty Pens

Remember these? My sister wants one, but they don’t sell them in souvenir shops anymore.
In the internet age, however, nothing is unavailable! There are lots of fun ones for sale on ebay. Most of them are used, but you can still get new ones, too. I can’t decide, so Sarge is getting 5 of them for Christmas!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas In Distress

An upside-down flag indicates distress. Here's an upside-down Christmas tree!
I just started thinking seriously about the holidays. It should be a nice season this year, since I will be off on the “eve” dates because Christmas and New Year fall on Saturdays.
I realized that I’m afraid of the holidays now. Last year Mom had a stroke and one of my dearest friends passed away. On Christmas Day, we sat around Mom’s bed at the rehab center, her little dog in a Santa suit. We were thrilled that she was recovering, so it was a joyous Christmas, despite circumstances.
The previous year, my grandma passed away; she got sick just before Thanksgiving and died shortly before Christmas. She was 94 and died without suffering the ravages of her recently-diagnosed lung cancer, so her death wasn’t a tragedy. For a few years, Ging had been preparing herself to go. Part of the difficulty of living to a ripe old age is having to say goodbye to so many people you love; my grandma had acknowledged this pain. I will always remember the aching sadness across her face when she unwrapped her last Christmas present from Butch. They sat across from each other, knee-to-knee, just looking at each other silently. She was 93 and (we thought) healthy as a horse; he was 60 and days from death. You could see her desire to give him whatever years she had left and the frustration of her inability to do so. With the most tenderness I’d ever seen in her, she planted her final kiss to the top of his head. It was agonizing; I’m glad that she didn’t have to experience it again. Days after she died, one of her favorite nieces was diagnosed with advanced abdominal cancer; I’m so glad my granny didn’t have to see Jan’s suffering. Even a timely and gracious death is tough on those left.
The year before, of course, was Butch’s death. Each year since that loss, I sense my family’s desire to reclaim the holidays. Yet, our attempts to recover have been interrupted by another tragedy.
I’m not sure that we even know how to celebrate anymore.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans' Day!

Butch’s bronze veteran’s grave marker, “recast” to cover the last name in the interest of internet caution.

I’m taking my friend, a Navy lifer, to a Veterans’ dinner at a VFW post tonight. Remember to thank a vet today!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

North Again

My sister and I made a vacation of my weekend with two classes in northern Michigan. We hiked to the lookout point for Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula and were treated with these beautiful views.

***************************************In St. Ignace, we found a memorial to commercial fishermen whose lives have been lost on duty. It’s a beautiful whitefish sculpture with a glass eye.

Then, back across the majestic Mackinac Bridge.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************Beach scenes

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************To my favorite spot in the state.

With a little kitsch for the trip home.

Name Change

Destination Unknown signifies my lack of direction on a few levels:
a. Life options – figuring out which direction to face after losing Butch
b. Drink it in – trying to do it all after deaths of a number of family members and friends in the last couple years
c. Oooh, shiny! – my boss’ perception of how easily I’m distracted (I still say she’s missing all the good stuff!)
d. Plenty of travel – all these schools for all these classes!
e. My experiment with real estate education – I never expected it to lead here

Friday, October 29, 2010

Election Day Approaches - Tsk, tsk, tsk

It’s that time of year again. I’m receiving “Suffragists Fought For This” and “Soldiers Died For This” emails. Posters encouraging voting are all over campus. Registration opportunities are everywhere. People are gearing up for the guilt trips; we've all heard them from those who think it's wrong not to vote.
I’m not a proponent of voting just for the sake of voting. I don’t see it as a mere right; to me, it’s a responsibility. If you don’t know or care what’s on the ballot, why risk voting the wrong way? Just to say that you vote?
I know people whose philosophies and lifestyles mark them clearly along party lines, yet they’re voting the opposite, without even recognizing their unwitting hypocrisy. Usually, they follow their parents’ or spouse’s voting practices.
I think it’s just fine to postpone voting until you develop a civic interest and take your rights seriously, instead of simply taking your right. I never voted until I was in my mid-20’s. It seems to me that no vote at all is preferable to an uneducated vote.
Instead of encouraging young people to vote, introduce them to the political process. Spark their interest. Show them how they can have an impact.

Monday, October 18, 2010

University of Cincinnati

I held my best class to date at the University of Cincinnati Saturday. I'm still learning to balance having people engaged enough to participate with having them over-engaged and taking up too much time. This was one of my biggest classes and we ran perfectly on time.
This campus is quite old and very pretty. I really enjoy the academic environment, so bouncing around to all these different schools is a lot of fun for me. Hmm, maybe a Hawaii version of the class is in order?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Woolson Spice Company

********This building was constructed in Toledo in 1864 as a coffee-roasting and spice-grinding business. The Lion Coffee brand was roasted here. It was eventually bought out by Alvin Woolson, who was an advertising genius.
He increased sales by offering gifts that could be purchased with pictures cut from the coffee label. He also included greeting cards in his coffee and spice packages. Today, the beautiful Victorian cards are highly collectible. Here are a few offerings currently on eBay:

In the 1980’s a gentleman operating in Hawai’i fell in love with an old Lion Coffee poster. Because he purchased the rights of the bankrupt Woolson Spice Company, you can still buy Lion Coffee today.

River Raisin Studios

Sarge has a studio! My sister has wanted a place specifically to work on her art for about 10 years, and it has finally happened!
She paints, often on canvases as large as 4’ x 4’, and the supplies can take over living space pretty quickly. When she lived in her house, it was always difficult to find a place to sit. When she moved to Mom’s, two entire households were combined; she still has stuff stored here and there. It leaves no space for her to work on paintings.
She just got a great deal on a gigantic space in a neighboring town. It’s a two-story brick Main Street-style building. It was constructed in 1914 as a Masonic Lodge, so it has double doors opening to what could have been a banquet hall, meeting rooms, a dance hall and a kitchen area. The ceiling is tin, with the Mason’s insignia in it.

Even my pack-rat sister can’t fill up this much space . . .
It’s pretty neat that this old building is being used as a grocery store downstairs and now an artist’s studio upstairs. The building is steps from the banks of the Raisin River, so I nick named it River Raisin Studios.
I’m so proud of my sissy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dash Solutions

In the midst of the sailing trip, I checked my email and learned that my class has been approved by the State of Ohio as continuing ed credits for real estate license renewals. Ohio's regs are stricter than Michigan's, so I wasn't expecting this.
Although still in development, I think the web site was instrumental in this approval. It gives a more professional perspective to the application and makes it clear that another state has already approved me. Check it out at: http://www.dashsolutions.us/
I HAVE to get the classes online! Until that's done, I'm just losing money.


I spent a couple days off the boat, playing around in the beautiful town of Luquillo, with its rip-tide laden surfers' beach.
Xavira and I made a night trip to kayak the biolumescent bay and I hung out on the beach watching the wind surfers.
Visiting somewhere new is good for the soul. I like to see what I learn that I want to incorporate into my life. From Puerto Rico, I gained a deeper appreciation for looking past appearances, a genuine love for people, and the importance of incorporating outdoor spaces into daily life.

I will definitely go back to sail at Isleta Marina again. I can't wait for the ferry!