Painting the bedroom…thinking of the grandkids

I realized the other day that I have painted the rooms of all four of our grandchildren. Today, I put the first coat on our eldest granddaughter’s bedroom walls, while she is out of town with a friend. It is a very special trip as she is visiting with her friend and her friend’s grandparents in another state.

For the longest time, it was a given that I was going to be painting her room. For some reason, it has lasted a long time on the docket. A few years ago, I had painted her sister’s bedroom, a beautiful robin’s egg blue. She wanted me to do the same, but in a different color. Today, I put a coat of her preferred color on the walls. Tomorrow, I will put a second coat on to and do touch ups where needed.  Our son had done the ceiling the day before and also painted the woodwork and doors. She will be home in a few days to enjoy our work.

I had painted our other grandkids’ bedrooms more than a few years ago. I doubt that they are even aware of it. Seeing our grandkids is a joy unequaled.

My painting habit is an old one, originally brought about by need and the inability to hire a professional painter. In my family, we all painted. I started out with Sears paint, back in the day, using latex paints. That quickly morphed into using oil base paint when we first got married. I loved painting with oil base and even found that in some ways it is less messy than the latex. I have a terrible disdain for the use of tape when I paint. My disdain is only for myself as I make more mess with tape than I do by my slow, still steady, hand. I can pretty much paint a very straight line and do so even in an almost 100 year old house, as I did today. My father-in-law always marveled at how slowly I painted, but my paint jobs have caused me to dislike anyone painting for me, unless it is a family member. My mother-in-law loved my painting.

Today, clean up from flying paint was at a bare minimum, partially because of the Benjamin Moore paint (which I myself don’t choose to use because I was annoyed at a bad batch of Benjamin Moore paint), partially due to the fact that my son and I are not messy painters.

I am on our patio, sipping an Aperol Spritz and thinking of those grandkids.

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Happy Hundredth, Francika!

Aunt Fran in the Sanitarium with Tuberculosis.

Aunt Fran on the left with my mother.

Aunt Fran with Laurie Geiger Paetsch, her great niece.

From right to left: my sister Carol, Uncle Herman Winick, Aunt Fran, me, and Chico the chihuahua.

Aunt Fran in 2007 when we visited her in Escondido where she had been living for years.

Turning 100 is no small feat and for this lady, who has lived in California for many decades after leaving Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Herman Winick, that is today, September 10, 2023.

I spoke to her a few minutes ago, my first conversation with her in years. Suffice it to say that despite dementia being a terrible, terrible thing; in this instance it is a blessed thing. I have been communicating via holiday and birthday cards with her for years as for whatever reason, she and I did not always see eye to eye.

She was always my favorite aunt, hands down, until I got married. At that point, when she came to our wedding in Wilmette, Illinois, and was verbally condescending and abusive with my mom, I called her out on that in a letter. Suffice it to say, I might not do it again. I have a tendency to be very direct in those situations and well, she did not take it well. After a few years, I mended that fence but then just a few short years ago, it came back to roost in a new form. It made me sad, but I made the decision that since it was neither fruitful or healthy for me or her, that I would refrain from phone contact.

My sister has always been in touch with her and I thus got info about her situation from her.

Mary Kay and I did visit her in 2007 and we did it by surprise. I was afraid to warn her as I felt she would not want me to visit. We therefore pulled up to her double wide and knocked on her door. We were at a family vacation in a VRBO in San Diego and so the drive to Escondido was a no brainer. She pretty much almost shut the door after opening it, but relented, let us in, and offered us some water.

Today, with info from my sister and the fact that she is in Memory Care in a San Diego suburban situation, I called her and due to the early hour got a hold of her.

My aunt was married three times, first to Tom Roberts, then to Herman Winick (with whom she departed Cleveland, Ohio for California), and finally Joe Gerbasi, who has been gone for a few years. Joe’s son is kindly taking care of my aunt’s situation since there were no children.

When she came on the phone, I was so surprised to hear that her voice was completely different from what I remembered so I quizzed her a bit. She was shocked about the fact that it is her hundredth birthday and kept saying she was 98. I asked her about Hungarian, her first language, and she said something in Hungarian. She was amazed at my memory as I talked of her siblings and parents, of Cleveland, and of her life.

I am thankful, even if she does have dementia, that I called her. I feel as if there is closure to the very silly situation of our less than perfect relationship. I am thankful that she is in a good location and being taken care of. She told me the food is great but that she is going home tomorrow (wishful thinking). She said everyone is nice and there are nice activities. I guess I called at a good time as my sister had said that sometimes she was angry Francika (my grandfather and grandmother called her this. Frances Ethel Bori (maiden name) Roberts Winick Gerbasi is 100. God bless her.

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That one article in the paper worth reading…

Mary Kay has a theory that in the New York Times (and it seems to work for the Chicago Tribune as well), that there is at least one stellar article to read.

For years, I have found that I just don’t have the attention span to read complete articles and information found in newspapers. I find it personally distressing, but as they say, it is what it is.

Today, I found more than one article in the New York Times that I found fascinating. This article on this Sunday, September 3, 2023, is in the Sunday Opinion Section of the New York Times. It is entitled “17 Years Photographing a Family’s Grief and Growth.” There is a short article with nine photos and a beautiful article by a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and artist by the name of Preston Gannaway.

It resonated with me and it pretty much brought me to tears.

The photographer was 28 at the time she started doing this photo documentary, at first observing and later becoming a close family friend. Rich St. Pierre, now the dad, was 7 years old when he suddenly lost his mother. Thirty years later, he faced the same situation but as spouse. His wife was diagnosed with a rare, very aggressive liver cancer. Rich and Carolynne (who had two children from a previous marriage as well) wanted to do everything possible to assure that their son E.J. (or Elijah) would experience his impending loss differently.They began journaling, writing letters, and making videos for the kids.

E.J. was 3 at the time Preston started working with them and one year later his mother was gone.

Preston documented the life of the by now single dad and son, who is currently 17 years old. During that time, she learned much about them and also about herself and what her feelings were about family and loss. In a few short words, Presto

This fabulous photographer and artist has created a work of art. It’s sadness and joy are completely evident and it is as if the person taking it in is a silent observer as a fly on the wall.

I am speechless.


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It has been a pretty much delightful summer. Not delightful in the amount of times I have been swimming or gone kayaking, but delightful in terms of the beauty of nature and especially in my own yard. We have spent an inordinately large amount of time on the patio and the visual is always striking. The sad area of the fence between us and the neighbors, formerly controlled by malbor and his crazy cameras, has come into bloom. At one time, the horrible, maybe 12 inches in depth (depending on where it was) small plot of land was originally filled with white marble stones. I removed what I could and settled for topsoil and the flowers were either planted by me or volunteers (phlox, yarrow, coral bells, poppies, violets, and various forms of sedum). The flowers died when malbor was alive a few years ago. I believe that poison in the form of Monsanto chemicals, may have killed them. We ended up putting pots over there, filled with lantana and portulaca and now have a raised herb garden. It is beautiful and a delight to see from the patio.

Frankly, photos do not even do them justice.

The lighting that we now have in the evening is stellar. Solar power is the source of the lighting. I started out with very long strands of tiny warm yellow LEDs on the fence. the entire fence in the back yard is down and it works even in the winter. We have little jelly mason jars with fairy lights inside in various places. There is solar lighting in the way back area of the yard which lights up the pond and waterfall and a piece of Japanese art and a driftwood piece. The overall effect with the flowers and the lighting makes for a really inviting, calming place, a counterattack on that Pandemic and all of its side effects.

Nasty world leaders, crazy populism, wars in unseemly places and for no real apparent reason and their trickle down effect on the people we were once even close to have made havens like this a necessity.

Meanwhile, I am on the patio and about to tackle some of the mess from the trees and the season and keep track of our dog and that of our son (whose dogs we have for two weeks) and enjoy the space.

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Where am I?

The other day, I was having my yearly physical and I was asked to remember four words or sets of words and would be tested at the end of my visit: checkers, saucer, telegram, Red Cross. I knew it was coming as MK has had to deal with this already. I was nervous as all get out. Dementia in my family, Alzheimer’s in MK’s, we have it stacked against us. Let us just say that it has been a year. Late last year I find out that I have had Mantel Cell Lymphoma in indolent format since 2019. This is kind of over the top. I am once again sleeping better, just saw the hematologist and he said I am doing great, but there are things going on in my life that continue to cause concern and to which I cannot address a single word. Luckily, at the end of the visit, I was able to spout off the four sets of words.

There have been times where I would like to take out a billboard and say what I am thinking about all sorts of things but my better sense gets the best of me.

The evil that exists in this world has far surpassed anything I could ever have imagined and the masses of people who believe in lies and tell lies blows me away. Their fear of science and logic is frightening. Evil are politicians, who do things just for their own self-aggrandizement and who somehow seem to meet the needs of some of their electorate but who clearly really don’t care.

The summer has been wonderful but painfully short. I love kayaking and yet I have not as yet set out for the water. It is as if I am just too busy doing things that I just don’t want to take the time to get out there. I know that next year will be better and that I will find it within my head to get out on the water. Meanwhile, I have been very happy to enjoy the yard and to do things to it that make it easier to enjoy. I am writing this blog, for example, while on the patio within view of the pond and its waterfall, with tall, magenta-pink phlox growing everywhere and passion flowers and water lilies blooming almost daily.

Ludmilla is one of the latest flowers in the collection: a cross between a sunflower and echinacea (coneflower). We received the plant at the dedication ceremony for my amazing friend and colleague, Ludmilla Coven, who among other things, accompanied our young son to the DC area when I could not use a ticket since my conference attendance was canceled at the last minute and our son used the ticket.

Pardon my rambling, this is the first time in a long time when I could commit to write. I hope my next writing moment will be sooner.

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