Old Diary
2424 Graham Street

2424 Graham Street

It’s approved. Kathryn and Michael’s dream is coming true. The City of Milwaukee Development Board approved their split use zoning request and a dream of living and dwelling in this great historic old Bay View building is finally free to move forward! Call the plumber, call the cement contractor, call everyone…. let’s get the construction started.

They get a new place to work, a new place to live, a chance to live out their dreams and we get our final temporary mailing address (for as long as we go RV’ing) it’s a red letter day for our family all around…

And those backward thinking folks in Cudahy who pooh-poohed their idea in Cudahy — well they only lost out in the long run. This is better for everyone involved. Yee Haw!

It’s Approved!

Minimalism, Old Diary

As Giddy As A Couple School Kids

One Day Till Closing! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

One Day Till Closing! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

The buyer did his final inspection along with three other folks at a LATE 6:30 in the evening.  “Late” for us because we were wanting to get it done with; and of course because we also wanted to get back to Journey.  But the walk-through went fine, he is giddy with anticipation, and I think maybe for the first time we are both feeling confident that this thing we have wanted for so long is finally going to happen!  By other people’s standards it may not be a long time to wait, but to Johnny-on-the-spot Peter this has seemed an eternity.

It was so great to SEE how excited he (Greg) is about the property.  As he walked around the outside I could see him telling his friends all he had learned about the building and I know there were some comments about plans he has but we were sitting in the car allowing them to have the privacy of their own conversations.  He’s been to the historical society and learned all about the building, and who went to school there.  He seems to have his mind set on what he wants the building to “BE.”  I’m so happy for him!

We both are happy too.  We can get off this merry-go-round to nowhere and pursue our own life.

That said, it was still a busy day.

  • Stop off at the school around 10 for a last check.
  • Fuel up the CR-V
  • Over to the Apple store to pick up my newest tool.
  • Leisurely walk to stretch our legs and burn off energy
  • Get a new screen saver applied to my new iPhone
  • Get a new phone holster ‘cuz  the old one is tearing and wonky
  • Off to find a replacement clock radio (the one we bought last year shot craps)
  • Off to get Peg some new unmentionables
  • Off to find a smaller stainless pot that is induction capable — 5 qt is too big for our storage and the 2 qt pot we had has too thin a bottom and scorches too easily.  The old will go into storage.
  • Off to Barnes and Noble for a quick Bargain Book search — found 3 worth reading at “my price.”
  • Grab a nice lunch/dinner in celebration.
  • Off to the bank to find out about safe deposit boxes.  Found out our “regular” branch doesn’t have ANY boxes.  Found what branch DOES have boxes near the kids
  • Off to the other branch to take out a safe deposit box
  • Back to the school for the inspection.
  • Drive 5 miles away from the school — turn around and drive back because we weren’t sure if we checked all the lights and turned everything off.

Now, I admit that’s a more complete litany of our day than I would normally give.  And I’m not about to do similar in the future.  On the other hand, it’s a better sense of who we really are than the last 8 months have been.  And we feel much more like ourselves now.

We both sat in the car and read while the walk-through was going on.  That was tough.  It was one of those “what do they think of me” sort of moments? About most things I’m not inclined to care much about what others think of me; but when it comes to a major deal the doubts do fly.  Do they approve of our housekeeping?  Of the cleanup job we did?  Did we leave something behind we shouldn’t have done. And biggest of all.. did they not want the principal’s desk left in the building!  That was the biggest worry!  The building was clean from top to bottom — we spent enough time on that.  But the principal’s desk is literally the biggest desk I have ever seen — it was there when we bought the house, we left it there for the new owner — and I could never have gotten it out of the house alone — and Michael is on his way to NYC.  I’m not sure how a Town of Lake principal ever managed to convince a school board that he needed such a large desk (40″ by 80″) but I would hardly get it tipped on it’s side one time to move it to a different room.  Much less drag it out and down the stairs and into a trailer or pickup.  But — no worries mate — Greg seemed quite happy with it (or he didn’t say anything about it anyway).


As we drove away for the last time Peg said, “It suddenly dawned on me that other people can be just as excited about something as we are.”  I think that summed up the rest of the night.  It was a long night!  With the uncertainty about little details fading, fading, fading we’re finally daring to embrace what will be our new reality:  MOBILITY.

We spent the night, literally, as giddy as school kids!  Peg’s mind was going a mile a minute and I don’t think she slept more than an hour or two all night.  It took me a long while to fall asleep but I was so exhausted from stress I was out like a light till 4, which wasn’t all that long seeing as I didn’t fall asleep very early.

And today we are both energized to start organizing and re-arranging Journey for the long haul. We already figured out the clock radio is going back — no way to adjust the light on the clock – gosh that thing is BRIGHT — brighter than our LCD TV!  And I have moved stuff around in cabinets already — before sitting down to write.

Tomorrow at 2 PM ….

Can’t come quickly enough for us.

Till Tomorrow…

Family, Minimalism, Old Diary

All Packed And Ready To Head Out

Four Days Till Closing!

Four Days Till Closing!

Today is moving day!

Yesterday was the major push to load Journey and get as ready as we could for the trash man who arrives on Monday early.  Part of moving house is dealing with all those leftovers, and Cudahy has weekly trash collection but only bi-weekly recycling collections.  This week is both so we wanted to maximize our cleanup ease by being ready for them.  Both bins are packed to the gills!  And I may have a few things to load after they get emptied.

With help from Kathryn and Michael we just about finished loading the coach except for a few items.  I was glad to have Mike’s muscles and Kathryn’s legs.  Their help made the trip ever so easier.  I did a little organizing.  A lot of things got moved around inside — with much more moving over time.  But I’m very  happy with the way things are working out.

The flooring is wonderful but when we put down our oriental carpets I realized how slippery the floors are — so down went the non-slip under-layment.  We both know that a lot of things will move around in the next few weeks.  It happened that way last year, I’m sure it will happen again this year — and it’s funny — things that I know where we packed them last year didn’t seem to fit quite the same way.  We have storage space left over — not a lot, but  some.

M & K are storing some of our possessions for us at their place.  Which means they not only got to help us today, they also get to move them all over again when they move from their present house to Graham Street.  We’re ever so thankful that they have been here to help us out.  I almost wish we could plan on being back in WI to help them move but no telling where we’ll be when that time comes and I’m sure Mike will pull in some favors and get plenty of much younger help for the job.  Still and all… there’s this “thing” tugging at my responsibility strings…..

Mike and Katy

Mike and Katy – Our Angels!

The Last Load!

The Last Load!

We’re not going to take “empty nest” pictures!   I don’t want to a memory of an empty school to be our last memory of our time in Cudahy.  It’s been a good life here with lots of new people in my life — in the studio and outside.  And it’s important for me, if for no one else, to remember the great new friends and our proximity to the lake that was a dream for a long time.  It it weren’t for an early (for us) retirement we’d be staying her permanently.  It’s been a great place to life.

That said — we are eager to hit the road — even if it’s only for 30 miles for a week long stay in the park.

That’s it for today… errands to run and people to see…

P.S.:  and wouldn’t you know it — after the closing statement gets cut, I get a bill from the City of Cudahy for water and now I don’t know if I’m supposed to pay that or let the Closing agent pay it.  Oh well… little burps, just little burps along the pathway to mobility.

Our anthem for today!  And all the choir sang:

Nuf Said!

Nuf Said!

Old Diary


Xtend and ClimbIt’s been great once again to wake up with eagerness for the day’s challenges!

Are you a morning person?  I am.  Have been all my life.  And when I wake, I’m fully awake. (Much to Peg’s dismay — who takes a bit longer to rouse out of slumber).  Mostly I wake up in high gear and get right with some program or another.   Unfortunately, since October too much of that high octane energy has been spent on surfing, but that’s just a minor aberration in an otherwise very different life.

My new Xtend & Climb ladder arrived the other day.  It was “gift” to myself that I promised when we got close to mobility day.  I’m eager to get a chance to put it through it’s paces.  (as soon as we get Journey back from the refitters.  Oh am I eager!

Last summer I was pretty much unable to do any maintenance on her above 6′ — no ladder.  (well, to be truthful my head was so preoccupied by the scheduled-and-then-rescheduled-then-in-process-deal-on-the-house that I didn’t really want to be working on the RV)   Now I have a few items I really want to get out there and look at, figure out solutions for, and work on.  I’m really looking forward to our 2 week stays throughout the summer.

Most are little things.  Checking this and checking that.  fluid levels, fittings, connections. That sort of stuff.  But there are some actual “work” projects ahead too:  times to get sweaty!

I want to go around with sealer and check all the seams on the coach.  I looked them over last fall and they are all still good. But they are showing their age.  Now would be a good time to clean them out and recaulk while the seals are still tight — and not after they have started to leak and made water stains inside Journey. 

Then there is solar power.  I think I want to get some solar panels on the roof — I’ve been pondering this a while now and I realize it comes as a Catch-22:

  • Solar panels cost a reasonable amount of money — do we want to spend it?
  • They are most “useful” if you’re doing a good deal of boon docking — but thus far (in our minimal 6 months of full time living) we haven’t done ANY boondocking — we’ve been hanging out in C.O.E. campgrounds.  ARE we going to do enough boondocking to make the expense worthwhile.  We have a lot of ideas, but we haven’t put them into practice — YET…
  • Maybe we need to spend some time on the road to figure that out…….
  • Who knows, we we find out what RV’ing means in OUR life we may find that we either aren’t doing any boondocking or are doing a whole lot — only time will tell.

In the meantime I’ll do what I do…. research — and measure.  Measure the roof.  Atop my brand new ladder!  Oh what fun…. something to plan!


I just love this new ladder!

But, sad to say…. we’ll be without Journey for two weeks……

Oh, the trip to Elkhart went well.  You can see our route here.  We pulled into Bradd & Hall‘s lot about 2:30.  After unhooking the CR-V we checked into our hotel and took off for our big meal of the day.  We can’t sleep in Journey as all our gear, including our mattress, is in Cudahy inside the school.  But we had a free night with our Wyndham TripRewards and we used that.  So, no charge for overnight.

Dinner was at Texas Roadhouse — not a great choice for vegetarian wannabe’s but the options were seriously limited on Mothers Day — meaning every place that was worth eating at was jam packed to the gills.

The people you love to hate

However… when we got to TRH the store was similarly crowded out the door.  But when I went up to register and find out how long the wait might be the hostess told me if we ate at the bar we could get a free appetizer.  Now, we also had a coupon for 10% off, so that sounded like a pretty spiffy deal.

We waltzed — pretty as you please — right through the crowded lobby, right past people who were mumbling about their reservations going up in smoke and right to our place at the bar.  Now don’t get me wrong — I can’t remember the last time I sat at a bar — that’s just not our style.  But for a quick seat in a crowded resto — hey — I won’t snear at a seat right behind the beer tap.

from my seat


I only wish they had darker beer on tap!

So, we had a free appetizer, we got our 10% off, the service was decent even though the joint was jumpin’ and we surely won’t need to eat a third meal today.  Good On Us!

I should return for just a moment to this morning when I was busy blogging and Peg came running into the room telling me to bring my iPhone — stat!.

Well, when “She Who Must Be Obeyed” uses that tone I know what I have to do — OBEY!

shower in diamondssee through showerTurns out the sun was shining into the shower and she was being showered in diamonds.  The photo really doesn’t do the scene justice — the light show lasted only a couple more moments.

The reason for the light show is that our shower has windows in it.  The shower is actually 5 feet from the window but when it was built there were two windows installed in the shower to provide light from the room (in addition to an overhead light installed in the ceiling of the shower)  It’s lovely taking a shower in the dim light gathered from the over mirror light.  Or one can turn on the bathroom ceiling light.  Or you can turn on the shower ceiling light.  We may not have a bathtub — but we have ambience aplenty in the shower!!!!!!!

And there you have our day.

Tomorrow we meet Bradd at the shop, let him know about some last minute additions to the job and then head towards the house.  I have some phone calls to make as soon as I get home and some projects to arrange.  Gonna be a busy week I think, and if it isn’t I’ll make things to keep me busy.

Cheery Bye to all and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary, Travel

Heading Back Home

A pleasant visit with old friends and today we head back to Cudahy.

I’m not sure how to describe our outlook for post closing travel.  We are both aware that some of our decisions are skewed.  Blame it on tension, or stress, or who knows what…  We have reached a conclusion which gives us about a month worth of plans.

We need to be out of the school by the 3rd or 4th of June, but I need to be around to talk with our attorney AFTER the closing.  We’re hoping to get an early-in-the-day closing making possible a Friday afternoon attorney meeting — but can’t count on that.

So…. we decided to plan one week of easy access to Milwaukee followed by one month of decompression time. After that we are agreed to head out on our unscripted life with undefined destinations.

Ta Da!

June 3-12 we’re in Bong Recreation Area — one of the Wisconsin State Parks that we’ve never stayed in but have walked.  With some nice trails it’s the perfect place to hang out for a week and a half.

  • close enough to Milwaukee to make repeat visits if necessary
  • less expensive than the State Fair Park RV park
  • plenty of exercise opportunities
  • close to Home Depot’s and such in case we have fresh-from-de-winterizing issues

June 12-26 – Blackhawk Park – De Soto WI — back to the Corps of Engineers campground.  Lots of space to walk, not too far of a drive, and familiar territory — time to just set-a-piece, relax after anticipating the closing and rushing to get things done.

June 26-July 10 – Thomson Causeway – Thomson IL — another 2 weeks in familiar Corps facilities.  Again, lots of space to walk, some trails we  never got to walk last summer.

After that we’re still making decisions:

  • Part of us is inclined to pay our mandatory visit to Peg’s brother and S-I-L in S. Lake Tahoe, CA. They are getting up in years and a visit is a good idea.
  • I have been thinking that we would spend our first winter in TX — but if we do that it doesn’t make much sense to head way West — whether to CA, or OR or WA
  • We are eager to check out Hemet CA where a friend of our has settled after moving from Milwaukee.

Clearly we have conflicted ideas about what to do, but we haven’t been able to focus on the future long enough to sort them out.  The month of quiet will give us that time.  Stay tuned.

On a more touristy train of thought we had a really interesting tour though the Dana Thomas House — Frank Lloyd Wright’s first open checkbook commission. It’s quite an amazing building, built at the beginning of the 20th century.  Walking through I seemed to remember other Wright buildings that we have toured as being brighter — but this one seemed quite dark and oppressive.

We are (fingers crossed) counting down the 40 remaining days.numeral 40

Old Diary

Snow Reconceptualized

It was only an inch of snow or so, but I had a brainstorm while I was out there clearing it.  I realized the basis for my snow bias.


My family make fun of my pseudo negative feelings about cold weather and the snow, but I realized while I was out there getting snow blown into my face, trudging behind that noisy 8 horsepower pile of iron that I have probably spent more time out in the cold that some of the people who say they enjoy it.  I’m gloating.  Or maybe I’m shivering.

Some people here in Milwaukee have 28 foot lots.  Their entire world of real estate is only 28 feet wide.  That’s the length of their sidewalk.  Many have garages that enter out onto an alleyway behind their house.  So they have 8 or 16 feet of driveway to shovel.

I have never been so lucky!

Don’t get me wrong — I have always chosen to live where I do — but we have never lived on a small property.

11275Ramsey06040264Right now I have 150′ of public sidewalk, and 40′ of walkway to get to the door.  That’s not counting the parking lot for about 6 cars.  Before regrading and repaving we used to have 7000 sq ft of parking lot.  Now it’s only about 3000 sq ft.

When we had the 12 family apartment we had a 16 car parking lot. In those days when it snowed I could count on a good 4 hours of “fun” blowing the snow off that 16 car parking lot and another 230′ feet of sidewalk.

When we lived in West Allis we had to go and buy a corner lot — so that even though we only had a two car garage and a 25′ long driveway — I still had about 150′ of sidewalk to shovel.  Or snow blow.

This has been going on for 40 years.  And this is what I normally look like when I’m outside having fun!

No.  I don’t need to think up reasons to go outside to play in the snow, I have enough of them already.  On a day with more than an inch or two of accumulation I can easily spend 3 hours outdoors shoveling and blowing.  Nowadays I use a mask to protect my face a bit.  And having shaven off my beard last fall the need for that is even more evident.

I guess I shouldn’t be negative about the snow.  I spend enough time in it.  Not entirely by choice, but I do choose where I live.

Suffice it to say that once we get this school sold, and get out there and get mobile in Journey that I’m not going to spend much (if any) time where there’s white stuff on the ground which isn’t sand and isn’t adjacent to nice warm water.  And should we ever get tired of roaming around the country (which I hope we don’t) you can rest assured that our next (if ever) brick and mortar home will be one with no shoveling.

Old Diary

The Search for the Enduring in a Throwaway Society

I love hats.  Downsizing has meant that instead of having 4 or 5 cowboy hats and several winter hats and several other felt dress hats that I am down to:

  • A French beret I bought in Quebec
  • Two Australian bush hats
  • One straw summer hat
  • One knit skull cap
  • One fur winter hat

I DO like hats.

When we were visiting SC/GA I stopped off in a hat shop.  Was that ever a disappointment!

They had a lot of interesting hats:  Bowlers, Top Hats, Homburgs, safari hats, Akubra‘s, etc., etc., etc.  What was disappointing is that most of them (with the exception of the Akubra’s) are made far more cheaply than anyone would ever have bought a few years ago.  And I have been thinking about that for the last several day.

Felt making is a very material intensive process.  Felt is essentially shrunken wool; shrunken until it is impervious to water and will hold a shape of it’s own.  Natural materials being expensive a quality felt hat can easily cost multiple hundreds of dollars.  The Stetson El Presidente can go for $850.00 — not that I’d pay THAT much for a hat.  By the same token — a hat like the El Presidente will last a man’s lifetime and even his children might continue wearing it!

All of which reminds me how hard it is to find good quality workmanship — in part because no one wants it.  They don’t want to PAY for it.  They tire of it before it’s worn out. They fear that it will no longer be “in style” (whatever that means).

It’s not just hats, it’s appliances.  Products today are built with life cycles in mind.  Product lines change so often that the manufacturers don’t WANT them to last forever — they need more customers a few years down the line and products are built to give a “typical” lifespan.

This morning we went for a walk.  In our neighborhood the city came around in 2010 to replace broken sidewalk squares.  We got away easy — but we did put in a new driveway that we wasn’t mandated because the old one was quite cracked.  This morning as I was walking the sidewalks nearby I noticed that there are still a LOT of sidewalk sections from 1957.  Considering that many sections replaced in the 1980’s and 1990’s have already had to be replaced I wonder what it is about those old 1957 sidewalks that made them so durable.

Here in Milwaukee we have a lot of clay in our native soil.  It’s no fun digging in.  But homes built in the last 20 years or more are notorious for developing cracks in the concrete foundations and basement floors.  Similarly, there are regular scandals in the media about governmental contractors who have been caught cheating on their construction contracts: shaving material, using inferior material, using improper technique.  Our almost 90 yr old school has fewer cracks in the basement than most of the new houses in Oak Creek.

I don’t see any likely change in public opinion.  We are a society that loves celebrity; and celebrity is cheap.  We gobble up celebrities and spit them out with regularity.  Our society is beauty obsessed.  Not with the beauty within, but with how others regard you;  the problem being that while some may consent to the idea that “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” that everyone wants SOMEONE to behold them as beautiful.  And they suffer “low self esteem” of someone else doesn’t find them beautiful.  Of course the harsh reality is that no one stays forever beautiful.  We all age and get wrinkly, the Grim Reaper waits for us all, and some come to him more quickly than others.  My point being that as a society we aren’t valuing things that don’t change; we value the transitory, the replaceable, the newest thing, the next great idea.

I find I don’t buy very much anymore.  Much of what I have is perfectly usable.  Getting older, sure.  But perfectly usable.

Do I want others to do the same?  Heck no.  I have no right to tell others how to live.  I know life will never again be what it used to be; I’m Ok with that.

And if I have to get accustomed to being satisfied with transitory joys then my list is quite simple.  What I would like is to find a stove that doesn’t have to have a computer in it (just what we have in or RV, but finding one for a house is impossible) find a diesel engine that doesn’t need urea injections (I guess I’m stuck with older RV’s now), and find a simple walking stick that fits my hand like a glove.  I want to capture a Bald Eagle as it snatches it’s prey from a river, I want to laze on a beach out of earshot of ATV’s and other motorized racket, and I want to see live mooses out in the wilderness miles away from anyone else.  I don’t want much — I don’t think.  I’m just not interested in embracing those aspects of change that serve no purpose for me.  If they suit others — fine.  Just don’t ask me to dance to that music.

Just before I hit the “publish” button I realized something.  This is actually a lifelong trend for me.  When we got married we lived in Chicago. That was too big so we moved to Milwaukee.  That was too big so we moved to West Allis.  West Allis was too big so we moved to a BIG HOUSE in Cudahy.  And now we have decided that Cudahy is too big.  Hmmm…. I just learned something valuable about myself.