Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Best Laid Plans . . . .

autumn leavesIs summer over?  How quickly it went from very hot to not so hot and cool evenings.  I know—you like autumn.  You like the leaves turning colors, the cool breezes, getting out your sweaters and boots, and having pumpkin spice latte.  Good for you!  I am not a fan of autumn.  For me it’s a huge reminder that winter is on its way, and the days will become shorter and shorter, and it will be dark before dinner time.  That is not as bad for me as it used to freezingbe when I was working.  I just hated going home at 4:30 or 5:00 and it’s dark outside.  In the midwest, not only does that happen, but the leaves start falling off the trees, and the temperature starts dropping.  To me Autumn says, “Hey look at me.  I am bringing you to the brink of dark and cold.”

Fortunately, we now go do Arizona in the winter.  Our plan has always been that we would buy the house in Arizona, and enjoy January to May in the sunshine.  We would put our Missouri house on the market, sell it, and rent something near Columbia, Missouri, to be near my Dennis’ mom until she passes.  Then we will make Arizona our permanent home.

Plans are easy to make.  Executing them is another thing since much of it is out of our hands.  Our home didn’t sell, so we were not renting.  Then Dennis’ mom passed away a couple weeks ago.  That threw a wrench in what I thought was well thought out plans.  It does relieve us of the rental thing, but we still have our home in Missouri.  We were going to go back to Arizona the first of December and stay through May since there are no graduations we need to be in Missouri for in 2020.  

calendarShortly after the funeral, Dennis said to me, “Let’s go to Arizona in October.”  At first it just threw me off of my game.  Why that was weeks before what we planned.  But then, what we planned isn’t what has happened.  Sure, we could go to Arizona in October.  Then we looked at our calendars.  We had several follow-up type doctor’s appointments in November and December.  We got on the phone and rearranged all the appointments.  One of the doctors didn’t have an opening until October 17.  Okay, we will go after that date.  We have rearranged our doctor appointments, and made new ones for ones we were going to have to make.  I even gave in to a 7:30 a.m. appointment in order to make a change.  If you know me well, you know I am forever grateful for being retired, and I don’t have to get out of bed until 8:00 a.m.  For this appointment, I have to leave the house at 6:45 a.m.  It is for a good cause though—our getting ready to be back in Arizona.  Everything is now set for leaving after October 17.

IMG_8846Our house, you ask?  It’s still on the market.  There are some really good prospects that may bring a contract very soon.  In the meantime, we will take 99.9% of our belongings with us to Arizona in October.  We are not taking furniture.  The house there is already furnished.  We will keep furniture, bedding, kitchen stuff at a minimum, and whatever small amount of items we need to live here in the summer.  So instead of having a winter home, we will live in Arizona, and our Missouri home will be our summer home.  If we get a contract on it before we plan to return, we already know how we will come back to town, and move everything out for the closing of the house.  One of the things Dennis and I are good at is logistics.  We have a Plan A, and then a Plan B.  If we need to, we can come up with a Plan C.  We will then become permanent residents of sunny Arizona!

Here I am talking about going back mid October, and I forgot to mention, other than doctor’s appointments, I am having surgery on September 4.  When this was planned, although I didn’t know our original plan was going to change so drastically, I asked the doctor about how long recovery would be.  He told me if I was not retired and was working a desk job, I would be able to go back to work in two weeks.  I couldn’t lift or do packing boxesheavy stuff, but I would be mobile and well enough by then.  So, taking that in mind, it will be about six weeks until we leave for Arizona.  That works.  

We started packing boxes the other day.  With Dennis having a new shoulder, he cannot do heavy lifting, and after September 4, I won’t be able to do that either.  Our plan is to have the majority of the boxes packed by September 4.  Then we will ask for some help packing the last minute boxes and loading them into our car and trailer we plan to rent to move our belongings.

JuryDutyIt’s a plan.  It’s the Plan A for the October move down.  There may have to be a Plan A (Revision A).  I am actually on call for jury duty this week.  That’s right, Callaway County Missouri, wants me to do my civic duty this week.  They wanted me to do it last spring, but I replied to their request that I was living in Arizona until May, so they happily moved my dates for sometime in August, September, or October.  I was really hoping the house would be sold, and I could tell them I no longer live in Callaway County.  We don’t plan to change residencies until we have officially sold our home.

Callaway County has a call-in number.  We have to call in everyday to see if there is jury No trialduty the next day.  I called the number last night.  I am free as a bird today.  Great!  Dennis has a couple doctor’s appointments today, and he is not allowed to drive yet.  Hopefully, his orthopedic doctor will give him the okay this afternoon.  Yes, I know.  Had I been called into jury duty, with our 2nd car garaged in Arizona, he would have to drive me to the courthouse so he could drive himself to his doctor to get permission to drive!  

San Tan PoolI miss the hot outdoors.  It’s not September yet.  I want another week to use the pool, but 60 degree temps at night really cool the water down too much for me.  I may be finished with this pool for this season.  There will be no swimming after September 4.  It makes me kind of sad.  We do have a community pool in Arizona.  Surely it is open in the autumn with their lovely weather.  I might get a bit of pool time in after all.  

I better get to work.  So far Plan A with no revisions is still on the table.  I know it will all work out.  I may have to make a Plan B, C, or D.  It’s okay, if I do.  I know that God’s timing is much better than mine.  


A Life Well Lived

AlbertaI didn’t know Alberta well.  She was my mother-in-law for only six years.  She died Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at the age of 100 years, 9 months, and 9 days.  I met her almost seven years ago.  She was 93.  I am told that at the age of 91 she had a stroke, and that her personality changed after that.  She was not quite as self-assured, outgoing, and a helper to all any longer.  I will share with you what I know about Alberta.  She definitely had an interesting life.

1975_Walker_0039_aAlberta was born in Creston, Iowa, to Paul and Hattie Knudson Allen.  Paul worked for the railroad and eventually moved the family to Kansas City, Missouri.  During the depression, the biggest bank in Chicago couldn’t cash his paycheck. It seems as though Alberta’s family did not suffer like others during this hard economic time.  Alberta had a sister, Virginia, who was 14 years older than her.  Alberta had a horse named Gold Dust Tony.  She lived a good life during the depression.

I don’t have any information on the Knudson side of the family, although just recently Dennis (my husband) received information from a lady living in Sweden, who was a match to Alberta’s DNA.  The Knudson family originated from Norway.  Hattie’s mother was a young lady who would ride her horse out to the Indian Reservations in Iowa, get their attention, and then ride her horse back to the safety of her home after they started chasing her on horse back.  She died as a young mother in a fire at home, that her daughter, Hattie, witnessed. There is little information I have on the Allen family, but I do know that Paul’s parents were Swan (1848-1937)  and Carolina S. Allen (1858-1898). Both families were Norwegian, and immigrated to Iowa sometime in the late 1800’s.

IMG_9075As an adult, Hattie had a fascination with all things Hollywood.  When her daughter, Alberta, was 14 and was approached by a photographer to be a model, Hattie enthusiastically agreed.  A couple of Alberta’s girlfriends were already modeling, and she had gone with them to one of their photo shoots, when she was discovered by this photographer.  Alberta modeled for the local Kansas City department stores and businesses, and was in many beauty contests.  

One of the more interesting modeling jobs Alberta had was for Nelly Don.  Nell Donnelly was a dress designer in Kansas City.  As a young woman, she was unhappy with the clothing available to women.  The dresses most Nellydon2homemakers purchased had no style, were made of cheap fabrics, and cost sixty-nine cents.  Nell thought women should look beautiful even when washing dishes.  She proposed to the local department store in Kansas City, to manufacture pretty dresses to sell for $1.00.  The department store didn’t think these “expensive” dresses would sell.  With Nell’s persuasive selling, the department store made an order for 200 hundred dresses, figuring these would not sell.  Two of Nell’s friends and neighbors were hired to sew these dresses she designed.  The dresses sold out immediately, and thus, the Nelly Don line of dresses became a national success.  When Nell Donnelly met MomModelAlberta, she said Alberta had the ideal figure for her dress designs.  Alberta also got to keep these fashionable dresses that Nell designed.   I will not go into more of the story of the Nell Donnelly who later remarried a Missouri senator, and was kidnapped by the mob.  There is a a rare DVD video about her story, or you can also read about her online.  She was an interesting first boss for Alberta!

Alberta continued modeling after she completed high school until the United States entered World War 2.  She quit modeling and started working at the Remington Photograph (1)Arms Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.  Upon doing an excellent job manufacturing bullets, she was promoted as a final inspector of the ammunition before being sent to the military.  Many of the coworkers did not like working with her, because her inspections were stringent, and she rejected much of the ammunition as not being ready to ship.  Alberta said she wasn’t going to send faulty ammunition to the young men risking their lives for our freedom.  She was truly a “Rosie the Riveter.”  

Alberta met her husband, W.R. (Bill), at the plant, where he was also employed after his time spent in Hawaii as part of the Merchant Marines. Alberta and Bill eloped five days after meeting, and then announced their wedding in the newspaper.  She and Bill were married for 43 years, until Bill’s death.  Alberta has been widowed since 1988.

She and W.R. had three sons, Dennis born in 1946, and twins Bill family2and Dave born in 1949.  They started their marriage living on the family farm, but later W.R. became a salesman, and the family moved several times over the years, to Springfield, MO, Memphis, TN, and Fond du Lac, WI, just to name a few locations.  The Walker boys were always the new boys at their schools.  Alberta always made these moves an adventure for the boys, telling them about the new places and the new friends they would make.  After the death, of W.R.’s father, they moved back to Sampsel, Missouri, to work the farm.  The Walker boys spent their time working the farm with their dad.  Farming was not the dream Alberta had for her sons, and all three sons went to college, and became successful professionals.  The farm is still in the family, with the land being rented to local farmers.  


State Training School For Girls

As times were tough on the farm, Alberta took a job as a supervisor at the State Training School for Girls in Chillicothe, Missouri, also known as the Chillicothe Industrial Home for Girls.  This was the latest and greatest way to care and rehabilitate young girls instead of putting them into the prison system with incarcerated adult females.  While she worked there, she was promoted to interim director.  They wanted to hire her as the director, but she did not have her college degree.  Alberta took an early retirement in order to care for her husband who had become ill.  Alberta was a retired pensioned State of Missouri employee.  During this time of retirement, she and her husband spent many of their winters as Snowbirds in Apache Junction, Arizona.

After W.R.’s death, Alberta wanted to move into town, so she designed her own home, and found a builder to build it for her in Chillicothe, Missouri. She was very proud of this home.  She entertained family and friends for years in this home.  Alberta was an expert player of Ponytail Canasta, and played weekly with the “girls” in Chillicothe until she moved to Columbia, Missouri, at age 95, when she entered an assisted living facility.  On occasion, she would return to Chillicothe for a day to play cards with her friends until she became to frail to travel.

I loved hearing stories about her and her adventures over the years.  When Alberta was in her early 90’s, she would drive from Chillicothe to Trenton, Missouri to attend Wesley United Methodist Church.  This was about a 20 mile drive, and she had a heavy foot, and was speeding over 90 mph.  She got pulled over by the local police, and the officer asked her why she was driving so fast.  She told the officer that at her age, there wasn’t too many exciting things she could do any longer.  Yes, she received a speeding ticket!  She was a bit embarrassed by that and didn’t say anything to anyone.  The following week, hair saloneveryone at church knew about it, because being from a small town, all arrests and tickets were published in the local newspaper.  Busted!

Ever since Alberta’s modeling days, she was very precise about looking good.  As a model, she woke up everyday, her hair and make up done perfectly.  She told her boys that if she got a call for a last minute modeling session, she was always able to take the job because, unlike her other modeling friends, she didn’t need any extra time to get gussied up.  She continued this practice all her life.  She was perfectly dressed, with hair, nails, and makeup.  She said she never knew who might knock on her door, and she wanted to be presentable at all times.  UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_9917Having only sons, she was thrilled when her first two grandchildren were girls, living in the area, and they played “beauty salon” often

Alberta was so healthy over the years that she celebrated her 90th birthday by taking her sons and daughters-in-law (before my day) to Cancun, Mexico for a week to celebrate.  She even went bike riding with everyone on that vacation.  

Alberta was all about family.  She was so proud of her sons, and their accomplishments.  She also loved her daughters-in-law.  She loved seeing all her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  She gave them advice on life and investing.

In 2014, at the age of 95, Alberta sold her home, and moved to Columbia, Missouri to live in an assisted care home.  She chose Columbia because it was close to two of her sons.  Although, she lived close to the third son, his wife was going through some health issues at that time.  Therefore, the other two brothers could help out with Alberta, if necessary.  She had her own apartment within this facility.  She did well there for a couple years, until she started falling.  She gave us a real scare three years ago when she fell.  She hit her head and actually had a brain bleed.  She was severely bruised down one side of her body.  What did Alberta do?  She bounced right back!  She had thirty days of rehab and she worked out on a stationary bike, and got her strength back, and she worked hard to get all her memory back.  It was amazing to see the remarkable recovery she had.  As the years moved on, Alberta did not recover from anything as well or as quickly as that.  She was definitely slowing down, but who wouldn’t when they are in their mid to late 90’s.  We sometimes referred to her as the Energizer Bunny because she just seem to keep going and going.

Dennis and I traveled a lot when we first got married, but had slowed some of that down as Alberta was becoming more frail.  We could travel more again at a later time.  The last year has been a tough one for Alberta.  In August of 2018, she got pneumonia.  It was hard, but she recovered.  She was also moved to a skilled care nursing home, where she lived the duration of her life.  It was hard to move to a new place with new help and new residents.  She struggled being there, and wanted her family around her a lot.  

Alberta was tired.  She was ready to go.  She would say that she didn’t know why God hadn’t taken her yet.  She was at peace with dying.  

I realized that dying is similar to giving birth.  Near the end it is very uncomfortable.  It seems like that uncomfortable time will never end.  There is nothing we can do about it.  It is all in God’s timing.  Then when it happens, you look back and see the timing is perfect.  We have our own timetable, and God has his.  His is always perfect.

100Alberta passed away at age 100, 9 months, and 9 days old.  She lived an amazing life.  She saw things in her lifetime that changed the world, from the use of a crank telephone on the wall to a smart phone today.  She saw music from being played on a Victrola to stereos and electronic devices.  Televisions came later in her life, and were small and in black and white, to the large screen color televisions we have today.  For the last five years, she read all her books on an iPad.  She could make the font large enough for easy reading.


Voting 2 days after turning 100 years old.

Alberta saw many presidents, and war.  She was born almost two years before women had the right to vote, and when she became eligible to vote, she never missed an election, including the one last November just two days after her 100th birthday.

Alberta is now in Heaven, reunited with her faith family, and in the arms of her Savior.  She is at peace.  We will miss her.  She had an extraordinary life.  I am grateful I got to be a part of 6% of it.

MsPontiac1MsMuehlebach'sDennis Walker Album 17imageUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_cccpSqemKZmQ0m9yYFThJeCCg_thumb_d741

Preparing to Sell

I am at it again.  Another project.  That is what keeps me going.  This one is a project I would rather not have.  I am repainting our deck.  “Normally” . . . if one had a “normal” deck—as you see, I am trying to emphasize that word “normal” so you realize our deck is not normal.  It is the mother of all decks.  It goes across the back of the whole house and along one side.  It’s a lot of wood! deck 

There are several reasons I am painting.  Our home has not sold yet.  The deck is looking sad.  The wood is in great shape, and the construction is still very solid, but the paint is wearing.  I don’t like the way it looks.  Yes, we could wait and let the new owner do it, but what if we don’t have a new owner soon?  I want my home to look good and be in good condition for me.  I also don’t want any future buyer coming and saying the deck needs to be done.  If they want to change it because they don’t like the color, that’s one thing, but I don’t want them to have to paint it because it’s in bad condition.  

Having our home on the market is so frustrating.  I know things happen in God’s timing, and not mine.  Two years ago, none of this was on our agenda anyway.  We were talking about finding a home in Florida to spend the winter.  We wanted just a little cheap place near the beach.  I think we could find little, but I am not sure about cheap!  In early September of 2017, Dennis, as he was looking online at the price of real estate in Florida, asked if I had ever thought about living in Arizona instead of Florida.  

It was like a huge light went on in my head.  I have one first cousin in Florida, and a few casual friends scattered through the state.  In Arizona, I have twelve first cousins in the Phoenix area.  Not only that, I have a small grandchild in Los Angeles.  I realized if we wintered in Florida, I would never get to know Luke, and he would never get to know me.  Living in Arizona, I’m only a 5 hour drive, or a 1 hour flight, to see my youngest grandchild.  Not only are Luke’s parents in Los Angeles, I have another son and daughter-in-law in San Francisco.  It’s a much easier flight from Phoenix to San Francisco than from Missouri or Florida.  Thus, the search for a winter home changed to looking in Arizona.

In December of 2017, we spent a week in Arizona looking for our winter home.  We wanted something small and cheap.  Our agent found us several to look at that were small and cheap.  You know, they say, “You get what you pay for.”  Well, cheap is cheap.  The places were disasters.  They were in not so lovely neighborhoods, or they needed a lot of work.  We have enough work at our home in Missouri.  Dennis didn’t want to add to his list of things to do at home.  He is also an engineer by education, and he thinks like IMG_4749an engineer, so he is looking for good systems running the house that are energy efficiency.  None of that is available in cheap housing, which means in the long run, it’s not so cheap after all.  

We told our realtor that we raised the price, and Dennis told him that he wanted to see new builds.  I was rather shocked by that, and I stayed quiet, because the thought of a new IMG_9394build, was, well, just a dream.  We finally settled on the neighborhood and builder who we thought would be the best for us.  We found the lot with a mountain view without a premium.  Everything for this new home just fell into place.  We felt really good about it.  We wrote a contract and went back to Missouri.  We did have to fly back a couple times to meet with the builder to select our interior finishes, and to do walk-throughs.  

We came home from our initial trip of home selection, and it hit me upside the head—why do we need to own two homes?  We are only in Mid-Missouri because Dennis’s mom is in a nursing home in Mid-Missouri.  Once she passes, we can live anywhere, and travel back to Missouri and other points of interest anytime we like.  We don’t need a second IMG_0076home for that.  We just need a place to stay.  We could rent if necessary.  I just couldn’t see Dennis still doing all the home maintenance at our current home.  We are on three acres, with about 1/2 of it woods.  There is a lot of grass cutting in the summer, and leaf blowing in the fall and spring.  There’s a swimming pool to upkeep, although Dennis has it down to automatically taking care of itself.  It’s pretty much maintenance free.  There are six bathrooms to clean—who needs six bathrooms?  As our grandkids in St. Louis got older, we see a lot less of them and their families, as they all have jobs and busy lives.  

It just makes sense to sell and move.  Dennis’s mom will be 101 this November, but she is fading.  He spends a lot of time with her now, and who knows — she could be here for a long time yet, or her time may be soon.  I just want to take away the burden of a second house, especially for him.  I kind of feel like we are living in limbo.  I know I have a IMG_1877beautiful home in Arizona, with great neighbors, friends and family nearby, and yet I’m not there.

Dennis is still recovering from his shoulder replacement surgery, and I have to say that his recovery is amazing.  He went to St. Louis with me last week to celebrate a high school friend’s 50th wedding anniversary.  It was only 8 days out from surgery, and our friends were so surprised to see him there, and other than his arm in a sling to keep it protected, he was good with the trip, and socializing with everyone.  I will be having some minor surgery in September, so staying put in Missouri is necessary for now.  

I am getting itchy though.  I would like to see a contract on the house, so I can start packing boxes.  We have the plan made on how to move even if we are recovering.  IMG_8846Dennis and I love logistics, so we love making plans, and contingent plans, on how to make the move.  But, I try not to make too many of these plans because I don’t know God’s timing on this house.  Actually, if someone came up to me and said they had cash and could close on the house in a week, I have a contingent plan to pack and be out in a week!  Fat chance of that, but I can be ready when the time comes.   

So, I’m painting.  It’s better than baking (another thing I do when looking for something to do).  Painting is not fattening.  This week has been hard, though, because, on the whole, I am housebound doing the painting.  I am kind of glad to be doing this without Dennis.  He cannot do this kind of work while he is recuperating, and since I enjoy painting, and he doesn’t, I feel like I am doing something for him.  He does so much for me, and I never feel like I do enough for him.

Packed Books #4 187Maybe I should just start packing boxes.  There are things that I could pack.  Dennis and I actually talked about that today, that we need to do a second round of downsizing and packing.  I don’t want to get over optimistic like we did last year.  We had a garage sale and sold furniture and some of Dennis’s stuff like tools and fishing poles, etc.  Then about a month later he needed some electrical tape and realized it was sold in one of the tool boxes.  I don’t want to donate anything that I might still need at this house that I won’t need at the Arizona home.  I could pack things that I don’t use often, but then, my luck would be I would need it one more time and have to find the box where it was packed.

Here’s a question you all could answer for me . . . what do I do with all the photographs that I have scanned into my computer?  I have thousands.  It seems sinful to dispose of them, but then, I do have them all digitized.  What do you think?  What should one do with all those old photographs?old photos