Personal Inventory

(Update: I guess this post does have a bit of a funk quality to it, but aside from the usual city mouse/country mouse dilemma that will never be resolved here in this metropolis, I’m in good spirits. Not unlike a puma, learning that there are some new taste treats in the midst of too many people. Lyric Opera was wonderful last night; this business of the masses exposing themselves to all this magnificent free culture here in Chicago never ceases to amaze me. And today I was back at the zoo, talking about SSPs- Species Survival Plans- and the new and improved politics of animal acquisitions. Myra and Helen, the lionesses, were enjoying the beautiful weather and I got a quick peek at this 3 day old Francois langur. The photo is a bit fuzzy (per camera issues) but mama was keeping her baby close and this was the only shot I got off. Back tomorrow evening with an update on OUR newest addition.)langur.jpeghelen.jpegmyra.jpeg

I have neither the self-destructive stamina nor the genetic material to be an addict; this is not a “good on me” fact but just a fact and over the years I’ve met some truly exceptional addicts to one thing or another who have had far more strength of character. Still, it can be good to take a personal inventory every now and then. I have no idea what that means if you are in an Anonymous group of some color or hue but for me, it has to do with coming full circle on the most recent spate of dramatic change in my life. Since this kind of change- tied to marriage and divorce and different houses and death- has been a constant in my life (Oh! the drama! You too, huh?) I’m not sure it’s really a change but more a waxing and waning of Big Weather on the emotional front. So now that I’ve figured out that the change thing is going to continue in some form or another until I’m ash and bone chip, it’s time for a different perspective on the whole situation.

I realized that I was spending a lot of time ‘missing’ people and places and things and also running on (and on and on) about that so I decided to take stock of what I have, in one short year, that I didn’t have ever before.

I came up with this list:

A broken camera

Rats in the alley

6 new dings on the (always parked) car

Now you understand why I haven’t written anything at all for a while. Mid-week, I took a different tack and tried for things I no longer have that make life better because that, too, would be a different perspective than, boo-hoo, I don’t have this anymore and I’m so sad…

I came up with this list:

dye in my hair

a uterus

Now it’s Saturday, most of a week has gone by and the best I can do is a short report on the current state of affairs, with a few blurry pictures. And then I can not only call it good, I can call it life.


It was another week that went by in a flash. I did the volunteer thing. Today was an annual meeting at the zoo and this was the first occasion that new docents were recognized by the director and other powers-that-be. My good neighbors took note and I opened the door to these.ball.jpeg

I tried to read from front to back of my camera manual (and ended up resenting that I had to actually learn how to take a picture since the ‘auto’ is kebust but discovering that it’s more fun to work at that than relinquish my camera at the moment.) McCloud didn’t mind at all that I was hunkered down on the bed mumbling and muttering for a day and he was happy to pose as I tried my hand at setting exposures and so forth. For people who are totally blind in one eye and slightly fuzzy without glasses in the other, auto-focus is a modern miracle. For those of you who can see and take pictures, well- you have no idea the challenges of ‘photography for the blind.’mc.jpegmcc3.jpeg

It’s harvest time, a spell in the year when I have always previously enjoyed the fruits of my own labor- literally. This is the first summer in about 40 years that I haven’t had a huge edible garden, making due instead with a patio tomato and some basil, catnip and cilantro. Slim pickings indeed, especially if you remember those beautifully auto-focused photos of hundreds of jars of canned tomatoes, sauces, jellys and jams lining the kitchen counter at the Ann Arbor house. Add to this the news that our beloved Ann Arbor house is once again on the market. We were shocked to hear this; how could someone relinquish such a prize? The transplant surgeon who bought it from us has moved back to Virginia where she did her residency and while I have no idea whether this is tied to the air crash that killed 4 members of UMMC’s transplant team a number of months back, I wouldn’t be surprised. She was already under incredible work pressures and with two very young children and a husband in biochemistry (the Pfizer presence has left Ann Arbor this past year as well) I can see them going back to familiar terrain. And yet- now it really does seem as if the home of my adulthood and the home where I made a happy life for myself and my children has been reduced to a house. The listing photos show weedy garden beds and there’s very little remnant of the place as I knew it. We do have a wonderful small farm market right across the park here in Chicago and I walk over there each Saturday morning to buy-guess what?- Michigan tomatoes, peppers and corn.vegi.jpeg

We have company from Ann Arbor this weekend and shortly we’re headed off to SushiSamba and then the Lyric Opera concert at Millennium Park. Tomorrow we’ll head over to North Pond for brunch and then I’ll give a tour of the zoo. Monday, more zoo and Tuesday I fly to Florida for a week. This trip to Florida is one I’ve been really excited about. I’m already anticipating when we will be able to spend months at a time down there but for now I will see Abby, meet the new boyfriend and see how my xeriscaped yard there has managed these recent hot months.

We also have a new member of the family. Much of this past week has been occupied with a lot of hemming, hawing, indecision, getting acquainted, making arrangements and daily visits to the newest addition. Tuesday, he takes to the friendly skies with me- but I’m going to let you see him before then. I think you will approve…

20 responses to “Personal Inventory

  1. What? What? Don’t leave us hanging. Maybe I will see you at Fourth Street Shrimp Soroe on Wednesday night. It is all you can eat shrimp night you know!

  2. Change is difficult but a constant, nonetheless. For many years, too many, I now longer allow myself to fully feel at home as I am sure that would be the exact moment we learn we must move again. We’ve been here almost 10 years now and I still have a few unpacked boxes in the spare bedroom’s closet. Sad but true.

    Safe travels to Florida. You’ll feel better. I thought of you as we ate our way around New Orleans last weekend. Especially since you mentioned Brennans and the hotel’s restaurant was one of Ralph Brennan’s. So, so yummy.

  3. OGNAC.

    Oh God Not Another Cat.

    Are you sure about the addict thing? Could one be addicted to constantly zipping from this to that?
    You are the busiest bee of all the bloggers I read.

  4. A DOG?!? Oh I hope so. Dogs make everything all better.

  5. Methinks its a small little dog.

  6. If you have time to see me, let me know. I still would like to buy you shrimp at the Crab Trap.

  7. Whatever the surprise is, I hope it’s one that will add joy to your life. You see, I can still hear the sound of happiness in your words when you write about Florida. Your whole tone changes! I remember those photos of all the food you had canned, and the beauty and feeling of home at your Ann Arbor house. It would feel weird to think of others in that place when it’s still in your heart as “home.” But you’re right–moving on is essential to enjoying and living each day. NEW BOYFRIEND? Do tell.

  8. Your inventory consists
    Of only dings and things.
    Yoga teaches non-attachment
    And much contentment brings.

    Speaking of Ann Arbor…Oh wait, let’s not.

    Is it a small, frightened wolverine? Make sure you don’t put him in too big of a house.

  9. As a long time member of one of those “anonymous” things, I can tell you inventories can be helpful.

    Doing it as you did, rather like a balance sheet, sometimes shows me I’ve been focusing far too much on the negative.

    Loved your pics, sorry about the garden but at least you managed a few herbs. So far, I have mint in profusion but that’s about it.

  10. So you’re in a funk too? Maybe it’s just a baby boomer thing since I’ve been in emotional flux myself about life and its constant misdirection.

    And it doesn’t help that our once mighty Wolverines seem to be in a funk. Of course, that also means that your Spartan woman friend has been spamming up my blog with her comments. I thought she had a big family. With the time she spends hovering at my place (I have a sitemeter, you know), I think somebody needs to check on her children. You’re her better buddy. Intervene.

    Could be just me too, but your writing seems to have really taken wing since your move to Chicago. If you have time, maybe you should think about writing a novel or something.

  11. I wish I were your neighbor, just so I could pop in with some homemade bread and we could have a nice long time over toast and jam.

    Your line about “photography for the blind” reminded me of a movie we rented the other day called Proof (not the one from 2005, but the one from 1991). It’s a fine, smart, interesting Australian film about a blind man who is a photographer. He photographs the world and has people describe the photos to him for proof the world exists as he experienced it.

    I think if I saw our old house back on the market in Santa Cruz, I would have serious pangs and urges to buy it back and have our old life again.

    Safe journey to you, Vicki.

  12. Your photos are gorgeous! And you will become a better fotog if you know how to use more than autofocus!

    Best on your travels.

  13. I was thinking of you this morning while having my first try at canning tomatoes. Took some photos, too, relying mostly on my camera’s autofocus. I’m thankful it’s still working, as I dropped the camera yesterday for the first time ever while carrying the box of tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Fortunately, not too many tomatoes lost, either.

    I love your photo of McCloud napping. I’m looking forward to meeting your new addition, even if it is a dog. (Another cat would be swell, too.)

  14. I’m not even sure now, how I stumbled on your blog…I’d done a ‘google’ search for something or other…
    But it brought me to a post of yours from a couple of years ago…and I started reading…and jumping around…and followed you here….
    Anyway, I began to feel a voyeur of sorts so I figured I ought to at least tell you I’d been here….
    Your comments about your old home make me nervous….
    I live in a wonderful old turn of the century victorian in a great old historic neighborhood….I’ve been here since 1985…the house and I are a part of one another…and yet I know the day is coming that I will have to sell and move on….there is no way I can afford this place when I retire….yet the attachment is strong….
    And my garden and plants….
    ouch….it’s painful just thinking about it…but I suppose that is part of the getting ready process…living it vicariously…thinking about it….
    Anyway, sorry to have been invasive…
    You have a wonderful journey chronicled here…and your pictures are equally wonderful…they make you far more than disconnected words in cyber-space…
    Have a wonderful week….life…whatever…
    I’ll come back to see, with all your friends, who your addition is…

  15. Everybody is guessing cat or dog. But you said you would take it on the plane with you, so I am guessing it is a snake. Or a spider. Gecko? Something too small to eat the cats but big enough that the cats can’t eat it. Meerkat?

  16. Meerkat? Oh, Hoss, you slay me.

    Vicki, I hope you enjoy whatever it is you’ve decided to add to the family, and I hope to see a pic of it soon.

  17. OH MY! You’re the tease. Does Monday night actually mean Monday night, or are you on God’s time??

    And I hear you have a writing gig open. Heh.

    My guess is you’re getting a VULTURE.

  18. Cat, dog, hamster… whatever. I want to know more about this new “boyfriend”. I had come to the conclusion that college kids these days do not really “date” as much as they “hang out” together. This is the area of parenting that most confuses me now. In high school there was “dating” and “boyfriends”… then with her two years at the math and science high school and now college it has gone to the “hang out” and “group events”. Currently, the Nys is “hanging out” with a William and Mary law student… (guess who had an apoplectic fit over that!!!). Fortunately, with her acceptance into the honors senior research program in geology and the likely grad school sites of Oklahoma, Florida or Colorado… this is not likely to go anywhere…. so good luck with the “new boyfriend” thing.

  19. da? nyet? da? nyet? perestroika?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s