With all the water coming down I paged past this image from a trip to SC in 2009 and decided it fit my mood.

With all the water coming down I paged past this image in my catalog program from a trip to SC in 2009 and decided it fit my mood.



Images, Minimalism, Old Diary

My New Middle Name

Reading WordPress Reader yesterday was helpful. I linked across to a new blogger (to me).  In an article about remaining compassionate in the midst of turmoil I took inspiration for this re-work of an image from our trip last fall with our daughter to South Carolina.  If you want to see the blog that triggered my thinking, here it is:  Everyday Gurus!  That blog also inspired part of this entry’s content.

I realized something about myself through that blog….

My middle name should be “Antecedent”

I’ve always been a problem solver.  It’s who I am.  Mostly, I solve problems was because those who preceded me failed to look for causes:  antecedents.  That which went before.

My co-workers (in those early years before I discovered self-employment) would get angry with me.  They would schedule meetings at which little or nothing ever changed.  Too often I’d sit through an entire meeting thinking about the first topic under consideration — also the first topic to be tabled till the next meeting.  About the time the meeting was ending I would have worked through the details of the first agenda item, diagnosed the cause, formulated a solution and just when the boss wanted to gavel the meeting to a close I’d suggest returning to that first item….. (and at least we took that item off the agenda for the next meeting.)

The blog I referred to was about compassion.  I don’t hear that word very often.  But it reminded me of things I’ve forgotten. And of the fact that compassion is (at least in my mind) linked irreversibly to “Being.”  It’s easy to lose compassion when we aren’t in touch with our own humanity. If we don’t see other people as unique personalities who hurt and laugh and ache then we don’t realize that we can, or have, hurt them.  That happens for most of us when we are pressured, stressed, under duress.  But the definition of compassion also includes a sense of superiority/judgment — that we have a right/ability to determine what is suffering or misfortune.  As if we can decide what is good for them.  Or what they need.  Or should have. And sometimes when being compassionate we forget that someone else has the right to make their own decisions — good or bad — and that we don’t have the right to interfere with them being them.

COMPASSION: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others: “the victims should be treated with compassion”.

I came to realize that the antecedent in this housing delay is my pacifism.   I believe in peace.   At my absolute core is a dislike for anything confrontational.

Furthermore, I believe that people buy from people — a boss several decades ago taught me that and I believe it to this day…. we tend to connect with people in ways that we don’t connect with machines.  (Whether that will still be true in 20 or 30 years with the insinuation of computers into our life has yet to be seen. Heck sometimes you can’t even get a hold of a human on a phone line anymore.) The point is that for millennia the decision to purchase has been a function of two people interacting between themselves.

Perhaps that dislike for confrontation is why I dislike lawyers:  they presuppose that any two parties are at odds.  It is an essential assumption of superiority.  I realize now that my dislike for lawyers oozes over onto real estate agents too!  Real estate people have a reputation for not wanting buyers and sellers to meet face to face. That is diametrically opposed to how I think.

I can see some of their reasoning. But only some.

Not everyone is honest. Sellers might say too much. Buyers might expect too much. One party might tick off the other party.  If buyers and sellers talk all sorts of things could happen to screw up a sale.  And we can’t forget that a salesman’s prime directive is in closing a sale, not in making friends.  They may make friends as a side effect of good service but who likes a friendly real estate agent who can’t sell a house?

This old geezer (me) who genuinely likes people (in carefully controlled doses), believes that two people can work things out if they sit down together and talk things through.  I want to sell the house and get a fair price. The buyer wants to buy the house at a fair price for what they are buying.  There is nothing wrong with what either side wants.  But show me any situation where two people who want to communicate — but are forced to do it through the interpretation of two additional people —  will have an easier time understanding each other than they would if they just talked face to face.  Somehow it just seems that adding people to that communication chain makes things harder.

I think that our two agents have finally figured that out.  They now agree that the seller is acting in good faith (that’s us) and the buyer is acting in good faith.  Hooray!  A conversation today seems to have sorted through the remaining sticky details.  We are willing.  He is willing. We have two people who want to do a deal — I’m hopeful we can get this sorted.

Tomorrow we leave for Elkhart: to deliver Journey for her new floor and sofa — I’ll have to work on the sticking points next week.  But we’ll do our best to get it twigged!

numeral 27

Twenty-Seven days till closing? Let’s hope so.

Images, Old Diary

Over Arching Expectations

It’s good to have over arching expectations!  To be excited, eager, looking forward.  I admit that with the last week of overcast skies it’s been a little hard to stay in my normally optimistic mood, but our progress with the chores around the house has done a lot to overcome the effects of the weather.

The St Louis Arch is actually quite geometric.  Up close you see the rectangular stainless sheets that comprise the skin of the arch — and for the sake of today’s post I wanted to smooth away all of those components — in the same way that our expectations typically ignore little details.  Expectations are generally about “the Big Picture.”

Michael and I are going to sit down in a day or two to work out our advertising for the school.  At his suggestion we’re going to try selling the school over Craigslist.  Our good friend Triko Bronjio sold her house (in Elkhorn) over Craigslist.  She had a bona fide offer in 5 days.  Their house was a lot more typical of the usual single family residence, but the fact remains that we need an unusual buyer for an unusual home.  After Michael’s suggestion Peg and I have decided that maybe Craigslist will bring us a little less ordinary kind of buyer; just the right sort of person for the school.

In the meantime Michael and Kathryn are still waiting on their bank’s appraiser to view their building so that they can get a loan for improvements to the building — hopefully before the winter sets in.  I know they’ve been chomping at the bit to get started with projects they were counting on a loan from us to finance.  So, our delay has been a test on their resourcefulness as well as on our patience.  But they are proceeding in the same gung ho manner that Peg and I might have done when we were their age.  I’m glad to see them digging in and digging deep to make what they want happen.  No matter how much you think you’ve taught your kid, there’s nothing like seeing life working out to reassure you that you accomplished that  goal.

Sunday I’m going to take it easy, and get some reading done — I hope. I haven’t picked up my latest Lawrence Sanders volume since before we hit the road for South Carolina. I hope I can remember what the silly book is about.

Peg has that one curtain to finish.  She’s really proud and happy with the results of yesterday’s sewing.  She had her share of frustrations during the day yesterday but those moments of insecurity somehow make some achievements even sweeter.

I was thinking today that I need to get a snow shovel. We HAD four or five shovels before downsizing — now I haven’t yet found one around here. We did too good a job of cleaning out the building.  That aspect of our temporary return to Cudahy has been extremely frustrating.  But it must be done.  I’ve never used one of those offset shovels that are popular now (see item #2 below).  If I have to buy one I might get one of those.  In the past I’ve always used the good old  30″ models (see item #8 below). In addition to the parking lot for 8 vehicles, we have a front sidewalk of about 180′ and a sidewalk to the house that’s another 40′.  Come the snow, there’ll be plenty of bending and stretching to be done.

We’ve still got our trusty 15 hp Ariens snowblower.  That’s supposed to go with the building when we sell it.  I need to change the oil in it for this season.  I’m hoping she’ll last out yet another year. I’ve kind of lost track how long we’ve had it. Some years ago we replaced the engine when the first engine died prematurely.  Since then she’s given us great service through some bodacious snow storms.

Old Diary

Palm Trees to Snowballs

We had a great day for a drive.  After I woke up way too early to leave, I spent some time in the hotel lobby writing and by the time I ran out of battery it was time to think about getting up (for the girls, that is).  We had breakfast at Huddle House — my first time ever. It was a nice enough breakfast.  Similar (to me) to Waffle House.

We got started about 8 a.m. and finally pulled into our hotel in Pigeon Forge about 6 p.m.  Considering we only drove about 360 miles the time alone should tell you that we did a bunch of stopping.  And that we did, including lunch at Shoney‘s in Clyde N.C..  I have not been in a Shoney’s in at last a decade.  The last three times I visited them I either didn’t get seated, or acknowledged, or a waiter hadn’t bothered to come by the table to give us a menu — and each successive time I left without eating.  How hard is it for the guy at the register (who isn’t the host/ess) to at least say, “Someone will be with you in a minute.”  So, as often as we go out to eat, I suspect laxity cost them a few hundred dollars in sales.  But today our meal was quite nice.  I’m not in a huge hurry to return, but I’m sure I will return.

When we left Pooler GA there were palm trees.  When we arrived in Cherokee NC we were in the snow.  Wow.

Our GPS wanted to route us via the Blue Ridge Parkway (about 10 miles) to the Great Smokies National Park.  When we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance, lo and behold, the parkway was closed because of snow.  Barricade across the road and everything. We made a re-route and arrived at the park just hoping that U.S. 441 was open through the park.  Fortunately it was.  A closure would have resulted in more than a hundred mile sidetrip.

The weather today was infinitely better than it was last week.  Clear skies, temps in the 50’s & 60’s, not too many cars, just a great day to be in a National Park.  Most of the leaves are gone now, but the addition of snow in the park made the visit extra special.

I’ll sharemore pics over time, but one part of the day that was special was this short area of icicles.  I’ll play around with a few of these and maybe have a couple nice images.

The Smokies are THE MOST VISITED National Park — they are within a 2 day drive of over 1/2 the population of the country and they are gorgeous.  Many people living South of the Smokies rarely see snow, and there were visitors from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, etc.,  You have to realize that these people were not putting up with the snow, they were exalting in it.  Snowballs, and snowmen and faces in the snow, and snow angels… young and old… so many of them were ecstatic to see the snow, to be in it, to play in it.  I met one old boy from Florida (now — he’s originally from Ohio) and he said it’s been 18 years since he’s seen the snow.  He was amazed at the snow in the mountains.

Saturday we have about a 13 hour drive.  I don’t know what time we’ll leave the hotel, but it will be a long day.  This will post after we have left I’m sure.

In the meantime, I hear from Milwaukee that Michael has finished the patching and sanding — the walls are ready for paint.  So, painting party it is!!!!!  Might start Sunday, or maybe Monday — but I’m sure we’ll have it finished up in a couple days.

And that’s about it for now.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Savannah Takeaways

Yesterday was the nicest weather day of the trip.  We made it to the 70’s with clear skies and calm winds.  It was also the most enjoyable day.  We went first to Oatland Island Wildlife Center and then over to Wormsloe Historic site.

The Oatland Island is a refuge and education center built on a sizable plot of land. That means you get to see animals, but you also get a wonderful walk through low-country backwoods at the same time.  There are boardwalks and paths, a variety of birds and mammals.  The staff are very helpful and friendly.  I’m not sure of some of that is because they would like more visitors than they get!  Go see it. For the small admission fee ($5 for adults, $3 for Seniors) you not only get a decent visit, you also contribute to a wonderful educational facility. And we got to feed the turtles.  🙂

The Wormsloe site is an interesting walk back into history.  I think I learned a lot about myself yesterday as a result of this visit.  We’ve done all sorts of historic sites in the past but for some reason this one got to me.  But first some information about it.

Your entrance into the site is via the Georgia State Park system.  The price is $8 for adults $5 for seniors and you have to pay before you are allowed to take pictures of the MILE LONG row of live oaks forming the Grand Allee.  If you have semi-pro photo equipment don’t be surprised if you are asked your purpose, and you may be asked to pay a photography fee. In our case, this being the first trip I’ve taken in decades without my SLR I was just a visitor but they are serious about unauthorized images.

There is no plantation building.  In fact the site is billed as an archaeological ruins with a small interpretive area manned by a couple younger park rangers who provide a variety of demonstrations and information in period garb.  The remains of the 1700’s home and fortified wall are rather minimal, so the draw here is really the back country vegetation, the paths, and the Oak Allee.

As for myself, I’ve concluded I wouldn’t have made a very good settler. I have never been one of those who felt I belonged in another time or place. I’m quite happy living just now.  This visit has simply reinforced that feeling. These people who came over with James Oglethorpe as part of a Utopian experiment suffered a lot. (Of course, so have the people who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy this week — I’m not discounting “suffering” — just commenting on my state of mind)  Ten years after they arrived only one family of the 34 families survived.  That of Noble Jones.  He had made a go of it — Wormsloe being his family homestead — but many did not.  It was conceived as a commercial venture:  poor and destitute families being chosen to receive free passage in exchange for a new life.  But the skill set that arrived in the New World in the form of these families were ill matched to the agricultural life that lie ahead.

I’m no Pioneer

I had time yesterday to think hard about how willing I would have been to live in those conditions and I’m afraid I would not have been a happy camper.  Our decision to sell the house and go RV’ing notwithstanding I don’t consider myself an outdoorsman.  I like my modern conveniences. I may appear to be adventurous, but there’s a big part of me that can be really, really lazy.

I Like Spanish Moss

I  know it’s a nuisance, but I’ve decided I really like the mood created by trees hung with spanish moss.  I don’t know what it is about this stuff but I just get a kick out of it.  You don’t want to snag a bunch and put it in your pocket:  it’s home for a variety of undesirable critters.  But the “look” is really appealing.

This stuff is related to pineapples they say.  It needs no roots, it survives off the moisture and nutrition the plant can glean from the AIR.  But I like it.  Go figure.

Where’d All the Street Lights Go

The three of us have been wondering all week: Where are all the street lights?

We noticed it in Charleston, but the impression has been continued all the way along our trip that areas out here just don’t illuminate the night the way we do in the Midwest. The first night in Charleston we were trying to find a restaurant and the absence of light was a bit annoying.  Then we started wondering if the lack of lights was related to the frequency of hurricanes, or if the cities were just cheap.  I have no idea, but I am struck by how much I miss street lights.

Savannah is better — at least Savannah downtown.  Getting out of the touristy hub the street illumination diminishes markedly.  We aren’t big night people — We’re usually in before the street lights come on.  That must be a holdover from my youth.  In my pre-teen years it was almost a family joke that the house rules were I was supposed to be “in” before the street lights came on.  I wonder if that’s why I miss them?  Who knows.

Relative Friendliness

Charleston and Savannah seem to be very different mentalities. In Charleston we were greeted by a lot more smiles and friendly greetings.  I noticed that in Savannah very few people on the street make eye contact.  There was an awful lot of looking down at the sidewalk going on.  I have no idea why.  Smiles at strangers on the street were apt to be met by a straight face.  Not as many people would greet you as you passed.  I’m sure our two day visit isn’t all good enough to make scientific claims to behavior. 🙂  But it’s just something I take away from the visit to wonder about.

Urban vs Rural

Yesterday en route between the two stops Kathryn piped up that she has figured out that she likes rural visits more than urban ones.  I’m not surprised at that — she’s her parent’s daughter.  And the understanding came as a surprise to her.  She and her family have done numerous vacations and most of them have been more in urban settings than in rural; I suspect that in the future the pattern of their vacations might change.  But Peg and I have gotten to the point that nature is far more appealing to us than the hub-bub of the big city.  (Not that either of these two cities is a “big” city)

Smokies – Here We Come

We drove through so much fog and rain while in the Great Smoky Mountains that we decided to make the return trip a replay of the same route we took Southward.  Well, mostly the same.  So today we return to Pigeon Forge with, we hope, numerous stops along the way in the National Park.  We’ll switch off drivers so everyone gets a chance to be harrowed by S.C. roads-manship and with luck we’ll have more pics from the park in time.

A few months ago I bought a sweatshirt at Goodwill.  I’m not crazy about this cheap sweatshirt — It says Eeyore on it and it’s a Disney product.  I needed a good “utility” shirt… something for working outside around Journey and that was what I found.  But the more I wear it, the more I dislike it.  So for a while now I have been sort-of-looking for a replacement.  I thought I might have found a solution at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but the two options they had there were both cut wrong for my shape: one was too tight on my butt, the other had sleeves that were way too long — so I’m still looking for a sweater/jacket/sweatshirt.  I’ll find one eventually. I guess.

Old Diary

Day 4 – Edisto, Tybee, Savannah

Night number 2, as usual, got us all a better night’s sleep. We packed up and hit the road about 9 a.m.. That gave us time to stop at a local Waffle House for breakfast.

The chain isn’t anything special, but they ARE a southern tradition. The skies were still overcast from the night when we finished eating but as the day progressed so did the clearing and by the end of the day we were in full sun with whispy clouds.

Edisto Beach wasn’t much to see, but it was something we had to do. We just wanted to see where Leonard and Shirley had spent all those years. It’s hard to visualize what the island might have been like 30+ years ago, and today it’s not easy to find places that are still as untouched as Edisto was when they moved there. But, we enjoyed the visit anywhere; walked the beach a little and breathed in the salt spray.

Near Beaufort SC we bought gas for…. wait for it….

$2.86/ gal

That’s the lowest this trip.

In Savannah we hit the city’s tourist information center first, and then drove out to Tybee Island for a second look at the ocean so that we could basically put the car away for the next couple days.

On the way back from Tybee and on our way to Pooler, GA  for the night we stopped for a bite at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster Bar.  Kathryn had surprised me earlier in the trip by trying fried oysters.  We had discussed stopping here because they had chargrilled oysters, and with our daughter being fussy about TEXTURE I thought that char grilling might make them more palatable.  But seeing as she liked the ones she had we decided to get an order anyway, and we split that three ways.  Add some Conch fritters to the appetizer list and we were off to a good start.  For mains the girls had scallops in two different versions.  I went the route of crab cakes and everyone was happy.  Katy would have liked anything after a Tybee Tea with peach rum, lemonade and soda.  After a piece of pecan pie we headed on up to our motel.  (Make sure you call it PEE KAN, not pee kaan as I was corrected by the waiter — a Tennesseean).

On Wednesday — today — we’ll probably do a tour of town; I’d like Katy to hear the history of Savannah as well as to see it. Sometime while we are in town we want to do Wormsloe a former Georgian plantation.  While we are in town we need to stop at Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub.  That was Peggy’s first ever pub experience; nostalgia seems to rule this trip.

I guess that is about it for now.

Talk to ya tomorrow.

Old Diary

Day 3 – Walkabout Charleston SC

Monday could not have turned out better; at least not for us.  While we compassion for those in the N.E. who are dealing with such a terrible storm as Hurricane Sandy, here in Charleston we had a great day.  The temps were cool — 60’s with a lot of wind.  But the cloudy skies turned out to be clear and sunny, and we got everything we wanted to do, done.

We bypassed the offered breakfast at the motel, and headed off to Fort Sumter National Monument for our first stop. We spent longer there than I expected, but it was quite informative; not just about that fort, and the adjoining Fort Moultrie, but also about the entire history of Coastal Fortifications.  Very worth while.

We crossed over the Ravenel into Charleston from Mount Pleasant and wandered over to Amen Street Grill & Oyster Bar where we had a wonderful lunch.  It’s a bit pricey — but then it’s in downtown Charleston and one should expect a pricey menu in that situation.  Peg had Porgie, a new one for her.  I tried the Wahoo, a new fish for me.  We all shared some shrimp corndogs — which are just what they sound like and are quite tasty even if a bit odd.  Ending up a lovely, relaxing meal with a shared bread pudding was a nice way to get up the energy to head off on foot once more.

With a parking spot right near the restaurant we knew our route needed to return us to our destination so we headed towards Meeting Street, and thence to White Garden Park.   The old buildings, the private gardens, and the colorful paint jobs were all just what I expected and a total delight for Katy and Peg.  The day could hardly have been better.

By the end of the afternoon we were pretty tuckered and headed towards the seawall.  We were excited, amazed, and all giggles when we spotted 3-5 dolphins feeding and playing around between 50 and 100 feet offshore.  We just sat there watching and waiting to see them surface again.  We didn’t “SEE” much — just dorsal fins and upper body — but for folks who don’t have dolphins in our part of the world we were elated and fascinated.  We could have stayed there longer, just watching.

After two really lucky, but posh, restaurant choices we weren’t sure what to do for dinner.  We were too hungry to get along on only 1 meal today, but we didn’t want a really posh choice either.  We ended up at Red’s Ice House — on Shem Creek, in Mount Pleasant — right across the road from last night’s restaurant.  Very different food — but equally enjoyable and much cheaper.  Peg surprised our daughter by ordering and consuming the Killer Shrimp — not only were they hot, but Peggy managed to eat them all and to ENJOY them.   I may have to start calling her Cast Iron Momma!

Katy had shrimp, I had oysters, we enjoyed some crab dip and when we were done we headed back to the hotel a little earlier than we did yesterday.

Tuesday’s plan has us leaving Charleston in the morning and spending the middle of the day at Estil Beach, SC.  My dad’s brother and his wife moved there after his retirement from Illinois Bell.  They lived there quite happily for a couple decades and while my parents went to visit them several times I never got to make the trip with them.  Peg has heard about Estil Beach for so many years that then we talked about coming East making a detour to see Estil Beach was high on her list.  So… we did the natural thing:  we decided to stop.

There are no shortcuts to the island… all that low country terrain requires a circuitous route — but we’ll find our way and from there to Savannah, GA.  I’m looking forward to the day.

Talk to you tomorrow.


What a cool ride-over at night.

Charleston, SC, The Arthur Ravennel Bridge Illuminated at night.



Ravennel Bridge at Night