divorce Family

Old ladies need help!

An earlier post The Road to Kalamazoo for Daughter #1 just briefly mentions in passing the fact that Mini-Me’s in-laws live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Also noted in the same paragraph is the fact that this had enabled a convenient arrangement for combined family get-togethers when MY family (idiot ex and me) lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (Not surprisingly, the fact that this friendly roundup is no longer feasible is just one of the many issues that still sticks in my craw post-divorce.) I could go on and on about how wonderful T and K are and have been since the moment I met them. I really wanted to grow a strong bond of friendship between the former us and the former and current them pre-divorce. I still want to do this though the previous us is now down to only me. This still slightly painful though continuously less difficult process is still ongoing and, in some ways, made easier through their observations and real-time experiences with my alcoholic serial monogamist idiot ex-husband to which they’ve been subjected since the kids’ wedding three years ago. They were even privy to the new and probably uncomfortable (as Mini-Me told me it was for her last Thanksgiving) experience of meeting my “replacement” aka (Wife) #4!

Next to the kitchen, and there’s no delicate way to make this point, the bathroom is the next most important room in the life of a foodaholic. Most of what goes in the mouth must come out at the other end of the body. IDK if alcohol is a laxative (I’m pondering the possible effect on what was grossly and way too easily expelled from the asshole of the idiot ex in his bathroom). Coffee used to have that benefit for me but, as I’ve noticed, for babies and old people (mostly the Devil Child and Mom and me), some of us have the opposite problem.

I have been taking fiber and stool softeners regularly since my first (right) hip replacement surgery, after I learned that a BM was required before I could be released from the hospital! This output is monitored by caregivers for both babies and old people. In my family this info was liberally shared, generally as a kvetch, a complaint and an excuse for otherwise inexcusable behavior. I didn’t move the toilet plunger I’d invested in for and hidden from Mom while I lived in her house. I thought I’d learned what worked in these situations (plugged toilets) from personal experience and observation of idiot-ex on those occasions when I couldn’t do it myself and had to wake him up! Mom had avoided upgrading hers by calling on her more than very helpful neighbor, “Saint Joe,” to accomplish this task which was always his pleasure (to be helpful, not gross!).

After searching high and low over an expanded list of brick-and-mortar sources (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s – another new favorite) I invested in what I thought would be an economical and efficient set of both bowl brush and plunger. In the “end”, though, both have turned out to be mostly useless. Hard water requires extra scrubbing to remove (or at least diminish since I clean only when I feel “moved”) toilet and bathtub rings, so I don’t use the brush from the set which also included what I thought was the ultra-deluxe kind of plunger, the one with the knob on the end. To this day, I don’t know if it’s me in my weakened and female state or the equipment, but the damn thing has never worked, as I just explained to my apartment maintenance guy. That right there is reason enough for me never to own my own home ever again!

So, when MM’s wonderful in-laws came to deliver the game/dining table that T had hand made for the dining room in the kids’ new home, I ended up surreptitiously and almost though not quite unconsciously recruiting them to help me settle in here. Here’s how it went.

The elder Mights arrived at the home of the younger Mights (MM + EG + 2 of my 3 grandcats) late on Saturday. I’d followed their progress just a bit by checking on their expected arrival time so as not to arrive at MM’s place too early or at the same time. When I did make that short trek between her house and mine, the new larger table had just been set up and the older smaller table had already been carried down to the basement. Here is where the story starts to get deep!

By deep, I mean unfortunately into the subject of clogged toilets. More specifically, my clogged toilet, a condition which only seems to occur on weekends when the apartment maintenance crew is not available! Such was the case that particular Saturday afternoon. While chatting with the family, the tears started to well in my eyes as I realized how helpful they all were to each other, even from a distance. The fact that I am now basically on my own and more or less isolated from this immediate familial assistance, which was possibly the first and last thing I’d come to appreciate from my idiot ex, is really the largest issue for me these days. (I’d never expected to have to handle Mom’s estate or my living space pretty much by myself, but here I was and am!)

Being the simpatico types that they are, T and K wanted to know why I was teary. I explained to them my specific toilet plight within my general new woe-is-me I’m all by myself current living situation. Of course, T offered to immediately go from the kids’ house to my apartment and rectify the situation right then and there. To add to my shame and embarrassment over the clogged toilet, I confessed that I thought my plumbing skills were so poor that my inability to clear the clog with the new special (though cheap) plunger I’d bought in anticipation of being able to do it myself may have been faulty or, probably more correctly, my skills were lacking. I had intended to borrow the kids’ plunger on the chance that I may not have been at fault, but only my own faulty plunger!

I continued to “pooh-pooh” (pardon the pun) the offer to clear the clog for me, hoping I could do it myself later. The conversation then moved on to the method I’d used to furnish my place. Using the very rudimentary measurements MM and I had previously taken, along with her attempt at a manual layout of each room using those measurements, I had pictured the possibility of having something like a real dining room, or at least a semi-separated dining area, between the kitchen counter and the living area in the more or less great (at least it’s the largest) open single room in my apartment. Based on that, I’d turned down the kids’ offer to give me their old dining room table because it was too small to really dine at.

However, as the pre-dinner hour passed, wiser heads prevailed to the point where Tom and my son-in-law convinced me that they were sincere and able and would have the time to take the table and the plunger and accompany me to see if I could use the former and if they could fix the latter. I could and they did. And then they did even more than that!


Non-retail RT

My BFF introduced me to estate sales and to the website I went to check one out on a Thursday and almost immediately and very nearly literally stumbled upon my next living room furniture purchase. Delivery of this powered recliner required several trips over the rest of that weekend, because I almost always do things the hard and often expensive way. These are not always my fault, and in this case the impediments were a combo of events both in and out of my control.

I had to rent a U-Haul van for just a few hours and to recruit and schedule the muscle of MM and her spouse Evil Genius (EG) to heft and move it. All the while, she continued to complain to me that I should have been able to just borrow a truck from Lowe’s or Home Depot for free because she thought she remembered they had told her they would let “customers” do that, even for purchases not made there. I disabused her of this potentially faulty memory with some humor given that it proved how much she is truly a Mini-Me in so many ways that I won’t go into each of them here!

One of those personality facets we share is perhaps a bit too much frugality. I say this with great affection based on the fact that her house is furnished almost entirely with second-hand stuff she has purchased over the years and moved with her all over the country before finally landing in their house here in Michigan. Her first furniture was often found on Craig’s list but she has more recently moved her searches to Facebook marketplace. I have followed her there but before I move on, I just want to give myself one more pat on the back by concluding with the extended estate sale pickup bonus I got after I had to go back there to get the power cord we had left behind in my hurry to get the kids and the van back on the day we moved the chair.

Savvy sellers more often than not mark down items they want to get rid of so they don’t have to store or move them after the sale is done. This of course is known as a clearance sale in retail and very much applies to estate/garage/moving sales. As a result, I picked up three badly needed table lamps for free. I could have also left that day with a table and chairs if I had had a vehicle to move them in. This could have been an example of the maxim “haste makes waste” but I was spared that personal beat down by another happy happenstance I will describe later.

The power recliner in its temporary spot + one of the free lamps in an even more temporary spot

I later found a set of good quality (read real wood vs pressboard) bookcases on FB marketplace. In between I’d also found a cheap i.e. fake wood but really plastic set of living room tables via the same source that I could have easily loaded into my own car by my own self. In this instance, though, it was a good excuse for me to buy some donuts and pastries for the hollow-legged EG at one of his favorite local sources for such fattening goodies, the Sweet Valley Donut Shop. We met the seller of these items in the parking lot of one of their two Kalamazoo locations. Score one for us! Yum.

FB Marketplace ad read Three-piece table set, two end tables and one coffee table. Wood and metal. The tops were really plastic which made them easy care for me and still worth the price.

Anyway, back to the bookcase saga. I went back and forth with the seller several times on different issues and there were gaps between communications. The net result was that the process took at least twice as long as I’d expected, based on my only previous FB Marketplace experience with the tables, which now I guess may have been unusually quick and easy, but maybe not.

First, I needed measurements. All four of them were the same width and depth 3’x1′. Each was a different height, max 5′. With these numbers in hand, I finally measured the spaces in my apartment where I thought I might put them. Then, based on the recliner estate sale experience, I had to go the extra step of measuring the interior cargo space of my car. The results of these exercises were generally good news. I had enough wall and floor space for all four bookcases and I could fit them in my car. The only bad news was that I would need to make two trips to move all of them because I only had enough room in the car for two at a time.

Since they were made of real wood, I also knew they would be heavy which meant I would need help to load and unload. I pre-arranged the supply of this assistance from Mini-Me, but had a lot of trouble, and way too much more back and forth with the seller, in trying to schedule this big moving day. MM often works from home which allows her to have a fairly flexible schedule thus enabling her to add in these small errands. Unfortunately, during this particular time period, she and her spouse were limited to one vehicle while hers was in the shop for repair after a fender bender. By this time, it had been there for way too long to suit their needs!

The only info I could give her up front was that the pickup location would be nearby and that the deed would have to be done before 3:30 in the afternoon. I was only able to ascertain the former by cyberstalking the named Marketplace seller after he’d advised that he was moving them from his workplace. After I repeatedly told him I would need help which would be most available in the afternoon during everyone else’s workweek, I was finally able to arrange to git ‘er done on the very last Friday afternoon he would have access to the office he was moving them from and that my daughter would be working from home.

The move was finally successfully made, in two trips as planned. They were so heavy that between the two of us we were only able to move them in fits and starts, and in some creative ways that my practiced moving daughter had learned by repeated use in her prior often solo moves. So, at last, there they sat, just inside the front door of my apartment, until I could figure out where I wanted to put them and how I would get them there. You’d think that the most difficult moves would be the longest i.e. from the office to the car and from the car to the door, but you’d be wrong!

divorce travel Update

How I Moved It!

I moved that new bed and those new sheets, which I guess at the time I bought them might have been thought of as a real, if unconscious, starting point of my new life. That turned out to be almost all of the furniture I ended up taking with me. When I scheduled this move, gas prices were sky high and moving containers were scarce. After my usual extensive research, I was forced to accept my realtor’s recommendation based on her son’s recent similar experience. I ended up reserving two U-boxes from U-haul. I knew they were smaller, lighter and flimsier than most but I found out they were also sparser than most and did not have a lot of options for anchoring what was moving so it wouldn’t slide around inside.

All of what was lacking in the configuration and structure of the U-box turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. After packing the first one really tightly, I made the snap decision to just not bring what I couldn’t fit in there. Turned out to be a really good thing I didn’t. I wouldn’t have been able to fit most of what I left behind in the 700 square feet in which I now live! This was clearly, in 20/20 hindsight, just another indication that I would now truly be starting over.

What a Ubox looks like
My Ubox

The second part of what I moved with me included the more fragile stuff and the more immediately necessary stuff. To make this part of the move easier (or so I expected), I decided to buy myself a new car. This was the first such purchase I’d made completely on my own in 40 or so years. Based on copious research in the Torrance Main Public library reference section which was the only place, way back then, where I could get my hands on the then print only issues of Consumer Reports, I settled on a Mazda GLC. At that time, so very early (at least from my helplessly pre-feminist, virginal and naïve perspective) in my working adult life, I was so proud of myself for making that decision all on my own, and paying all cash for it, too. The easiest part of that purchase was selecting a unique color.

I used a similar process this time, though now I was overwhelmed by the extremely wide range of vehicle sizes, styles and features available. This overload of data was described in excruciating detail on way too many websites, including at some dealers in Medford, OR, where I test drove some with the similar to me vertically challenged sister of my BFF. She is still deciding but I didn’t have time to wait or waste. It was probably fortunate then, given the supply chain crunch caused by COVID, I could limit myself to used vehicles only. My realtor and one of my oldest friends, along with many of the online reviews, extolled the virtues of Subaru SUVs, but even with that advice, I still just HAD to test drive a few more SUVs at the Torrance Carmax. This time, I had to decide between a two-seat or three-seat config. I knew I’d need cargo room and thought maybe someday I might need a third seat until I was convinced that today’s third seats are only comfortable for REALLY VERTICALLY CHALLENGED folks, like (grand)kids. When this selection was made, again in the interest of time, I finally just decided to buy the model that had the most weather and safety-related bells and whistles. That’s how I ended up with a 2019 Subaru Forester Touring Model. The last dealership I went to, just before loading up, had the one with the most unusual color and least amount of miles, so that’s the one I bought!

Me and my new car
Family Update

What I moved, and why

I had a lot of time to prepare for this move, so by the time it finally happened I’d already forgotten about some of the things that I’d packed a while ago.

There were a lot of things from Mom and Dad’s youth where I recognized their visages, thoughts, or milestones. There were a few things from even farther back in their family histories, where I recognized much less. There was also a lot of memorabilia, including many, many photos, from all the trips they took, mostly with their friends, after they were retired but still healthy enough to get around. I recognize many of the faces and a few of the places. I brought some of my parents’ old books and antiquated records (albums and singles), many of which I still personally consider to be classics. If and when I ever get to read or reread or listen to some of the works of Michener and Stone, and of Rogers and Hammerstein, among others, I imagine when I have done with them, they might go to a library or antique store or into someone else’s personal collection. Best and optimum use for pre-disposal or pre-dispersal purposes would be to share with and/or pass along to some of the younger, and hopefully/possibly related to me, generations. Mini-me has already followed in her mom’s and her grandpa’s footsteps as an aficionado of musical theater, though she has also taken up, with her spouse, her idiot father’s appreciation of sci-fi.

On top of all that, I still have all my photo albums, going back to middle school, that I assembled when I was single. I’m also moving once again my college year books, which are much heavier than high school, that my idiot ex put in the POD. These will go with single copies (out of the multiples that Mom still had) of memorabilia and programs from my days in Girl Scouts, Torrance Area Youth Band and USC Trojan Marching Band (the greatest marching band in the history of the universe!). These all recall the (mainly happy) times I hope I can share with a granddaughter, at least. A lot of them still make me smile. I brought back to my children all the photo albums I made in their childhoods, and all the extraneous photos and memorabilia I never got around to adding to them. Maybe it will make them smile, too, if we ever get to sit down together to reminisce about their births and birthday parties and holidays and trips and Girl Scouts, too.

Band and Girl Scout Jackets

Finally, I brought the new queen bed I’d bought when it became pretty clear that I would be staying with Mom in the house with her for a while, and maybe for the rest of my life, though of course that’s now how it turned out. It’s one of the newer ones with an extra thick mattress that required deep-pocketed bottom sheet corners and even then they don’t stay fitted as tight as I’d like. It’s like the one my idiot ex and I bought to sleep on (together – which was unusual and uncomfortable) when we bought our first house in Tennessee together. He sent the king size sheets I’d used for that one in the POD after I’d already bought myself a fresh new set. The old sheets were too big but had become an oversized cocoon for me, that I could tuck in nice and tight, keeping me warm and safe, bounded and protected, at night. He slept most of the daylight hours away on his old nasty leaking waterbed in his deep, dark and desolate mancave of a bedroom in the basement with two fans blowing directly on him.

Finally, already boxed up, in addition to my own precious books, are some sorts of antiques: a DVD player and discs of old beloved movies and some school events and last but not least though probably oldest, some family home movies and videotapes. I had already moved some to Tennessee with plans to get them digitized. They came back to Mom’s house again when I did and now are making the trek to our mutual new home, with younger family, in Michigan.

Places of My Life Update

My newest start may be in October

What are your October plans and goals? This is the question my friend Paula, who was the first blogger I knew IRL, posed in this post.  She started that post by recapping her September.  I know other bloggers, and just a bunch of other people in general, have expressed a view that many people seem to share – that Autumn feels like a beginning.

I know, because of who I am (a Jewish mother), that the school year and the Jewish calendar year both start in the fall.  So, maybe I’m also in the camp that thinks of this season, of pumpkins and other plenty, as the start of the year, or at least as the start of something!  This fall, I am finally, I think, near the end of the very long and painful and draining and difficult journey to where I can really think about and plan and look forward to starting over again with some hope and relief and relaxation and optimism for the future.

I am currently “feathering my (new) nest” as I am starting to furnish my apartment so it’s a convenient place for me to live.  The convenience I’m talking about here is having space and place to unpack and really see what I think I will use of the stuff I brought here with me. So far, those “keepers” seem to have been just right for that purpose. 

From a glance at my calendar over the last half of 2022, I can see, again in this fall season (and even as far back as late summer), that a more fulfilling and busy time has started for me.  One thing I know for sure is that everything I’ve had to deal with, all the tumult over at least the last 5 years and probably all the other upheavals over the last 10, seem not to have changed what I desire in my life for the rest of it! 

I want to learn more about a whole lot of esoteric and intellectual subjects from people who have spent a lot of time with them.  Philosophy, politics, religion, history, generally areas of study where we look back to help us move forward – mainly as a society but also as individuals. I just finished OLLI classes on Putin’s Russia, the history of Iran and its relations with the U.S, the philosophy of Einstein and other big thinkers and a philosophical view of the Manhattan Project.  I found it hearteningly coincidental that key figures in the latter two just happened to be scientists (like many of the most interesting people I met in Oak Ridge). In the upcoming weeks I will be learning about banned books, stories behind hit songs (mainly from my youth or even before then) and the Flint, Michigan, Sit-down Strike of 1936-37.  Fascinating stuff!

I have also pursued some more down-to-earth learning opportunities.  Many of these have come to me through the local senior center.  I learned more than I probably wanted to know, being a processed-food addicted baby boomer, from the recovering-from-cancer-and-Jewish nutritionist who taught the class.  An added bonus were the $10 produce vouchers we got to spend at the small local farmer’s market.  I was surprised that the instructor, who eats more fresh food than I do, had never tried an Asian melon. She appreciated the sight and taste of the melon I bought at the farmer’s market while I appreciated her suggestions for alternate ways to enjoy bananas.   Most of those alternative bananas are available at Trader Joe’s.  I do not frequent TJ’s nor did I frequent farmer’s markets before this class. I am now working through way too many – but delicious – locally grown apples and pears and radishes and snack size peppers from my last market visit. Too bad their celery and TJ’s processed and vacuum sealed bananas were so disappointing!

The last farmer’s market for the year is in October, but I have already moved on to aspects of my spirit I have wanted to develop for as long as my nest has been empty (of my kids).  My daughters may or may not consider what I finally produce someday from my writing and genealogy passions and pursuits, though I’d like to think they will, and maybe even get some benefit from this work I am looking forward to finally get to.  Even if they don’t, I know I want to do this for my own benefit and relief and expression. Just this last week I went to presentations by two authors where I was able to ask them questions about their process, mainly about how they find their projects and are able to get them done. This already helped to me to target a few subjects out of all of those that have been floating around in my mind for quite a long time. 

I took some stabs at a few of them in my so-old-they-are-now-shamefully-hidden blog posts and in the few vignettes I wrote for the 3 or 4 or 5 memoir writing classes I took in which I mainly only wrote notes of what the teacher said. I even signed up for a Hay House FREE 4-Day Book Writing Challenge that starts online tomorrow, and I have already taken a dive into the Aspiring Author’s Tool Kit (5 Free Resources to Kick-Start Your Writing) that came with it and discovered, to my surprise and delight, they support what I learned from the author sessions I attended last week.  I’m hoping to have a similar experience tomorrow night when I attend for the first time a meeting of the writers’ group that is sponsored by the local library.

I spent a day last week with a new friend I met online through some other websites. Laurie also has a personal blog and a business page promoting a writing group she used to run, and she has been generous with her time and gas as my personal guide around Grand Rapids. As I learned more about Laurie’s writing and the technique she teaches, she recommended It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond (Artist’s Way) as a good reference for starting a memoir as what I consider myself to be – just your average baby boomer who is now past the midpoint of an infamous (as in not famous or profound) life.  I read The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity in yet another writing class quite a while ago and was impressed enough to keep it on my shelf for future reference.

The next step I will take in “feathering my nest” this month will support the genealogy work I have jumped a little further into since my move.  Next week, when I get some labor to assist, I will be picking up some bookshelves.  Even if I don’t keep them for my next move, or if they end up not fitting with additional furniture I will buy for my new place, they are desperately needed to facilitate organization of the earlier mentioned important stuff I moved with me.  These must haves of course include a lot of books.  They also include a lot of photo albums and loose photos and other papers and memorabilia from my past and from family members’ pasts, known to me or not.

I joined the Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society over the summer.  They held the first meeting of their year at the end of September.  I attended that one remotely as well as the first in a series of Skills Sessions they are offering.  I already view the latter as a good way to kickstart and streamline (i.e. finally move on and at the same time narrow) what I want to do with all this stuff. I expect to be at the October meeting in person, again at the local library, when the manager of its Creation Station, will, I hope, demonstrate how to digitize some of my older family photos AND old home movies.

Finally, even before I moved into my apartment, while I was still living in my daughter’s basement, I signed up for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) 2022 Conference. The whole thing was done virtually and the presentations I registered for can still be seen through the end of October.  I’ve done several already and expect to get through them all at least once by then.  I know my family’s roots in America were only planted, even at their earliest, in late 19th century New York, and I’ve already learned “sources and methods” (a currently en vogue term thanks to Trump’s ignorance of the rules for maintaining some degree of classified information security) to help me search for the European origins of those roots as well as where they may have spread after being planted.

I will also be spending a few days this month in Nashville with my sister who will take me to Vanderbilt Orthopaedics for a consultation to see if, how, when, where and by whom my left hip will be replaced.

Family Places of My Life Update

What’s Ending So I Can Make the Next Start?

Has it really been a month since my last post?

It’s been so action packed that another update of my About Page will be required by and for Independence Day!

The end of the divorce is now so close that I can touch it.  Everything is done except the last final financial details.  Fingers crossed I will be able to close that chapter by June or sooner.

I’m still living in the same house where I grew up. I’m still here alone at the moment but won’t be for much longer. Little by little, or really more like bunch by bunch over the years, I have gone through Mom’s stuff more than once, gleaning and disposing of a little more each time. I sold the house last week so now it’s the final go-around, the last long good-bye with a firm completion date of June 30, 2022.

While this old house had already grown slowly emptier of both life and associated stuff, there will be one long and enduring last hurrah over the next couple of months. I am inviting friends to visit me here for a final nostalgic experience and to take with them, if they wish, keepsakes from my family in whatever form they wish. Some have already asked for photos, of which there are plenty, especially of all of us in our younger days. There are still books, antiquated records (albums and singles for which I understand there may be some recent collector demand), furniture, paintings and lots of different kinds of fogyish decorative items that Mom treasured but which mean next-to-nothing to me since I’ve already been through everything that might.

New subterranean digs under previous owner. It will be about as full of my stuff.

I will soon be descending on my kids in Kalamazoo.  My sojourn there will start in the basement of Mini-me and The Evil Genius.  I had to twist her arm to let me stay there for at least a month. Though I gave the go ahead to her suggestion to find out from her friends what apartment complexes in the local area they might recommend for me,  I would prefer to have more time to look around the area than just the one week I had last Thanksgiving.  I spent a good part of that time driving around just the very limited local area where my kids live.  Around Covid it was not easy to really get in touch with “my people” but I was able to get a little better “lay of the land” in the suburb of Portage where they now live.

As I have done every time I have moved to a different state or a different part of the same state (which didn’t happen at all before age 50 and this will be the third such move in the 16 years since then), I started by popping into the usual places where I expect to spend some time and/or find “my people.”  These days my people are generally retired or near retirement age, which is not the same for everyone.  Most of them have at least one college degree but all of them are intellectually curious about their surroundings and the world at large.  I like to have interesting and often challenging conversations and I always look to learn or hear about something new.

I have found that the best places to meet “my people” have been libraries, civic centers and educational institutions.  These places have hooked me up with different groups, and sometimes even individuals, who could introduce me to or guide me through opportunities to pursue different interests.  In Portage, the Civic Center, library and Senior Center are all within walking distance of each other. It was too cold and blustery for this “weather wimp” to walk in November, so I drove. 

At City Hall I got a map of the historical sites.  When I drove around to check them out I was not impressed at the time because they didn’t stand out much from their surroundings.  I might have had a better experience if I had had in hand what I recently discovered on the city’s website – Portage Historical District Trading Cards!  I also discovered The Celery Flats Historical Area, with stops near several relocated and restored buildings on the paved for driving road through the Portage Creek Bicentennial Park. I didn’t spend much time at the library or the Senior Center due to Covid and also to the fact they were both at the same time undergoing a planned physical metamorphosis.  By the time I get back there, there will be a brand new Senior Center and an expanded library.  I consider both of those to be propitious portents of other discoveries and connections I will make there, assuming they will remain safely open.

Portage in particular, and the surrounding area in general, seem to have all the other places where I have spent a lot of my time in retirement, and then some.  For my retail therapy, I found my old favorites, including but not limited to Sam’s Club, Costco, Dollar Tree, Aldi, Target (which I have dearly missed due to present lack of convenience and Covid), Barnes & Noble and some potential new favorites that I’d either never been to or were not convenient to where I lived in TN and Torrance. 

I know there are several movie theaters in the area, and like most of us I have not been to one in years by now.  As a matter of fact I think that last time I was in one was when I saw the Beyonce version of the Lion King there with my girls!  I know I’ll have to adjust to new grocery stores, again, but have already come close to determining what and where my new favorite coffee bar might be.  Like most “college towns”, I guess, I found a plethora of those spots to try, along with a plethora of microbreweries of which it will take more time, if ever, to find a favorite.

I will also have to find new doctors and other services which may both involve starting a new fitness routine.  I’m glad I’ll be going back to Michigan in warmer weather.  I plan to bring my old and much moved beach cruiser bike to try some of the rides planned through Portage Parks and Rec and the Senior Center as soon as I get the old girl fixed and cleaned up.  Almost last and not close to least but I don’t want to take up more time, I have found that the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Western Michigan University (WMU) will be offering in person classes with graduate students as instructors.  This seems like an ideal way to acclimate myself to both the group and the campus as I start over again with some of my favorites among “my people.”

Portage is, like Torrance, a standard concrete suburb.  Unlike Los Angeles, I would not classify Kalamazoo as a big city, though it is close to a beach that fronts Lake Michigan instead of the Pacific Ocean.  Since I am more of a mountains and forests kind of gal, having easy access to a large body of water is not high on the list of features I’d need to have wherever I live.  Been there, done that, enough already.