Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Another Year Another Birthday

Today you are you! That is truer than true! 
There is no one alive who is you-er than you! 
Dr. Seuss

Birthdays change as we age. Actually birthdays don’t change – we do. The date closes in on us every year, challenging us, congratulating us, warning us. 

A child’s excitement wanes over the years. There is a specialness to turning 18, 21, maybe 30 – but eventually the years seem not so special anymore. Should we celebrate turning 65? Certainly the government is not delighted about the milestone. We become Medicare recipients and part of the 47% of Americans Mitt Romney derided as “dependent on government”. Well, yes, but we spent decades working and contributing…

It is an achievement to turn over the years as we enter our 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and more people every day turn 100+. But it’s not a new occurrence for people to live a very long time. The Bible tells us a number of men lived hundreds of years – Methusaleh being the longest-lived, passing at the ripe old age of 969.

I don’t think any of us will live close to 900+ years. Too much food, salt, sugar, too little exercise, and don’t forget those chemicals coursing through our body from foods and the air we breathe. But people haven’t lived close to 1,000 years in centuries – if they ever did, which I strongly doubt.

What about the oldest woman? For some unknown reason (probably because men were in charge of Bible stories), the age of only one woman is given in the Bible – Sarah, who died at 127. She gave birth to Isaac at the age of 90. Abraham was 100 when his son was born. No comment…

Children can’t wait for birthday parties, presents, cake and ice cream. Except for presents, I can pass on the other celebratory events. But birthdays for mature folks are a mark of achievement. We managed to survive the decades and want to acknowledge the feat. 

Birthdays are also an excuse to consume (a favorite American pastime). And party. Not every birthday, but once in a while.

People have recognized the special day of rulers, kings, gods and goddesses for eons. The Romans were probably the first to celebrate the common man’s birthday, and honored a man’s 50th  birthday with a special cake. 

Early Christians considered birthday celebrations a pagan ritual and forbid them. But people wanted their special day. The Church began celebrating Jesus’ birthday (Christmas) in the 4thcentury, and eventually the common folk adopted the birthday tradition.

Women’s birthdays were not an occasion for festivities until the 12th century.

This year I will spend my day performing my civic duty serving on a grand jury, and will probably be too tired to go out to dinner afterwards. Years ago a day of work would not preclude a night out, but nowadays…

Pondering birthdays, I think the occasion is perfect for doing something special or different, something memorable. I will report on my memorable experience next post.
How old am I? Age is a number…and mine is unlisted.

The secret to staying young is to live honestly,
eat slowly and lie about your age.
- Lucille Ball

Monday, June 11, 2018

Twelve Reasons My Town is a Great Retirement Town

Where to retire lists never rank New Jersey high. Often the opposite. New Jersey appears on lists of places NOT to retire. But lists do not tell the whole story. 

Hub and I live in a corner of South Jersey that is an oasis in the let’s-make-fun-of-Jersey desert. It is a great place to live year-round and an appealing retirement locale. About 50% of the town’s properties are owned by shoobies, folks descending Memorial Day weekend then disappearing after Labor Day, often showing up weekends only. A segment of the population, however, are full-timers or snow birds. 

Here are twelve reasons why, despite expensive housing, exorbitant property taxes, high income taxes (although there is some relief for retirees), and the state’s lousy reputation, the Jersey coast can be a wonderful retirement alternative:

1. It is topographically flat and a walkable community, with a boardwalk through two towns (about 6 miles long), and bike lanes. The flat terrain is easy on old folks’ bones and stamina! Our community recently received a grant to increase bike lanes and install additional bike racks. 

Bike racks for a popular mode of transportation on the island.

2. And speaking of transportation, a number of possibilities exist. Stores, restaurants and services are within walking or biking distance. The bus (75 cents for seniors) travels the length of the island. Uber and Lyft are on call. A car is an option, and local traffic rarely stresses.

3. The weather is not too cold (usually) and not too hot (most of the time). Very cold or hot spells last a few days then moderate. The few inches of winter white stuff look beautiful and disappears quickly. Snowstorms are rare, although every few years a major one socks the island. On the other hand storms, like Superstorm Sandy in 2012, can wreak havoc. But most places nowadays are prone to some weather calamity.

4. The Atlantic Ocean and intercoastal waterways offer impressive scenery, and state and national recreational areas are a short drive away. 

5. Continuing education courses, special events and on-going activities proliferate year-round. Canasta, mah jongg, bridge – whatever your game, groups welcome new participants. Outdoorsy folks, besides walking, running and biking, can swim, surf, cruise the waters (in motor-powered as well as man-powered kayaks, canoes, sailboats and paddle boards). And we are dog-friendly.

6. First-class entertainment is a few minutes away in Atlantic City. Because this is a tourist mecca numerous bars and restaurants offer great food and music. Shows are scheduled throughout the year and local groups perform in community theaters.

7. The sprawling, sandy beach extends the 8-mile length of the island. Need I say more! 

8. The job market tanked following the Great Recession, but the local economy is improving. Two new hotel casinos open the end of June, each hiring 3,000+ employees. The hotels had difficulty filling all positions. Full and part-time jobs (senior jobseekers welcome!) are, if not plentiful, available.

9. Social life. People are, for the most part (malcontents live everywhere), friendly and welcoming. It is not difficult to ‘find your niche’, make friends and get involved.

10. City life (Philadelphia and New York City) is a budget-priced bus or train ride away (1½ hours to Philadelphia, 2½ hours to NYC). You can drive, but traffic, tolls and parking can be challenging. 

11. Want to travel further? Catch a Spirit Air flight from Atlantic City Airport. Not quite comfy, but nowadays service and accommodations on most airlines are far from luxurious. Going overseas? Philadelphia International Airport is a little over an hour drive.

12. Need home assistance temporarily or permanently? Organizations provide meals, home health support, companionship and other services. A senior transportation system delivers to area activities.

There are additional reasons our area is a good retirement alternative – first-rate medical facilities and medical professionals…higher education opportunities…lots of retirees…retirement communities (off island)…

Will hub and I remain in South Jersey? We like our life today, but do not know what will happen tomorrow. If the future includes a higher tax burden, we might flee. But where?

Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Primary Election Day Follow-Up and Do I Really Care?

I used to be a little bit smart. I kept up with current events and made an effort to be informed on the issues of the day. I knew the names of my senators, congressman, mayor and governor. I knew the location of obscure places in the news (how many people know where Niger is?) and the names of the leaders of lots of countries.

No more.

Chalk it up to age, loss of interest, the increased complexity of the world and issues today, and perhaps most of all my disgust and exhaustion concerning politics in our country today.

I am becoming ignorant.

I should care, but (sigh) don’t.

My tolerance for the constant barrage of nothingness pounding my brain 24/7 expired. It is unhealthy – my blood pressure rises, breathing increases, my hands begin to sweat, my heart pulsates rapidly, and since I cannot throw a pie in the face of anyone or scream at the top of my lungs – these actions will do no good - I am severely limiting my political and current events reading, listening and discussion time. I do not want to burrow my head in the sand never to come up for air, but don’t ask my opinion about what’s going on in the world…

 I do browse newspapers online. I read about discoveries illuminating life thousands of years ago, check out book reviews, travel ideas, skim the arts pages, and keep up with the markets, a routine acquired after working years in the financial industry. 

Guilt made me go to the polls, however, on Primary Election Day. Voting is a deeply engrained habit I do not want to end. One day the state of affairs pervading today’s political scene will pass because everyone did not throw up their hands, succumb to the madness and walk away.

My local Congressional seat is up for grabs – the 24-year incumbent is retiring – and the district is considered a swing district. But I am disappointed in the election results. The Republican winner is a solid Trump supporter, and so will never receive my vote. The Democrat (Jeff van Drew), on the other hand, is too conservative for me. As a New Jersey state legislator he voted against requiring Presidential candidates to disclose tax returns, against requiring increased use of alternative energy, against increasing the minimum wage, against legalizing same sex marriage…was awarded an A by the NRA for his pro-gun voting record and 22% from Clean Water Action, the lowest score for any NJ state senator. 

I do not understand why the local Democratic machine organization endorsed his candidacy. (I voted for one of the three people running against him in the primary).

My November vote will be a disheartening one – I will not vote for a Trump supporter (the Republican candidate), so will reluctantly cast my vote for the Democrat. A third party candidate might throw their hat in the ring but would (most likely) not have a chance of winning.

Maybe things will change in two years.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Boomers Enter June With Food, Travel, and the Comforts of Home

Pictures from our community Facebook page
 The month of June begins the best season of the year – Farmer’s Market Season. Weekly markets are a short drive away on Thursday morning, Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. I walk to our local Friday morning market, greet neighbors, meander slowly from stand to stand and fill my (reusable, recyclable) bags.  Nothing in stores compares with the delicious flavor of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. Asparagus and strawberries displayed Friday morning were handpicked Thursday evening. 

While on the subject of food (a favorite topic!) on The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about how calorie counts are now required on menus and menu boards, and for food on display in chain restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, and movie theaters. One study found that menu labeling helps people reduce their calories by about 50 calories per meal, on average. Another positive result: Some restaurants have reduced the calories in their foods after menu labeling was required.

While I drooled over farmer’s market produce, fellow boomer bloggers also embraced the season with new endeavors and travel.

Stepping out of our comfort zone is never easy, so Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond has taken up the challenge of trying new things each month.  Sometimes they might be small achievements, others might really test her metal, but it keeps life interesting and proves we can all do anything if we want it badly enough.  Read what she did in May to Step out of her Comfort Zone.

Tom Sightings continues to fulfill one of the items on his Bucket List by tracing the steps of the emigrants on the Oregon Trail. For his latest adventure trek on over to Ruts and Ridges, Ridges and Bridges -- and see some great photos too!

Some of us don’t like to travel, or can’t travel, or may have travelled a lot and now enjoy time spent home, snuggled in a comfy chair in front of the TV watching old favorites or new ones­. With numerous offerings available, how do we know what to watch? Rebecca Olkowski with BabyBoomster.com has been a party animal for the last couple weeks going to Emmy For Your Consideration screenings and parties. There are so many great television shows right now, particularly on cable. What are some of your favorites?

Writer Laura Lee Carter wrote about her two favorite pastimes this week, the joys of writing and xeric gardening! These are the two activities that help to keep her happy and sane. It's a crazy world out there....

I admit ignorance and looked up the word xeric. It refers to an environment or habitat requiring a small amount of moisture.

Have a great week and spend a few minutes visiting my fellow bloggers. They love to hear from you!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Once Again Routes Often Taken Beckon

I can't seem to stay home for any period of time. Whether travel for business, pleasure, special events or visiting the grandkids, hub and I are (too) often on the move.
Recent short journeys are summarized in the following pictures.
Notice the yellow Howdy printed on the wing of the plane?
Hub and I endured another Spirit Air trip south to the Sunshine State.
Except it rained the five days we were there.
But we enjoyed our granddaughters' school play.
Granddaughter (on the left) as Grandpa Joe in 
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Returning home for a couple of days to do laundry and begin planting the garden,
we soon packed our bags again and ventured north. This time we traveled 
(for too many hours) in our trusty Mazda unsportscar 
to the Green Mountain State (a.k.a. Vermont).

We witnessed a granddaughter run a half-mile race and our son complete a marathon.
There was a soccer game (teams of six and seven year old girls),
and competitive bowling.
I did not win. My bowling skills are pitiful. 
The day's activities ended with a Mexican dinner and cotton candy dessert (for kids only).

We attended a Memorial Day parade.
It is hard to see in this picture, but along the parade route folks parked
pick-ups and enjoyed the spectacle from the back of their truck.

A long ride accompanied by thousands (maybe millions) of other holiday vacationers heading home seemed interminable. But we made it unscathed, tired, and glad to be home again.
Until our next trip...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

One Man’s Childhood Journey Chronicled in Hillbilly Elegy

I have never been to Kentucky, but have ventured through West Virginia, southern Ohio and eastern Tennessee, all part of Appalachia, a region that stretches along the Appalachian Mountains from Alabama north to Pennsylvania. The people calling this expanse home are unflatteringly termed hillbillies, white trash, rednecks. (Remember the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies? The Clampetts strike oil on their land in the Ozarks and move to California. The Ozarks are not part of Appalachia but were settled by folks with the same Scotch/Irish/English ancestry as Appalachian settlers).

J.D. Vance, author of the bestseller Hillbilly Elegy, documents his traumatic upbringing amidst the land, people and culture of Appalachia, culminating in his escape from the lifestyle that entrapped his family for generations. I rarely review books, but for anyone interested in attempting to understand (some) Trump supporters and their world, Hillbilly Elegy is a must read. And a stress-free read (not academic, scholarly or loaded with long-winded, dry factual data).

The book was published before Donald Trump’s 2016 election as President. The millions who voted for him are an anomaly to many Americans who could not then and still cannot understand why folks are drawn to the Trump persona.

The people populating Hillbilly Elegy – the author’s immediate and extended family, the adults who came into and out of his life like a revolving door, his siblings, friends and neighbors, reflect the views of many individuals interviewed on the question, “Why Trump?”  Disappointment in political leaders, prejudices, lack of job opportunities, poor education, financial illiteracy, religious beliefs and adherence to fake news all play a part in the lives of J.D. Vance’s people. Reading about their struggle to survive, I understand why so many are attracted to the outsider’s (a.k.a. Trump’s) vitriol. They consider themselves outsiders and seek a savior. Unfortunately Trump is not their protector or rescuer, but a false Messiah.

But I digress.

The heart and soul of Vance’s narrative is his effort to move forward despite a dysfunctional family, particularly his mother’s life choices. As the reader witnesses Vance tackle one obstacle after another, it is easy to recognize why so many facing similar circumstances get discouraged. 

I am not sure why Vance succeeded in overcoming his environment. Vance attempts to explain his success and offers suggestions on how to support folks striving for a better life, realizing some people cannot be helped. 

Hillbilly Elegy offers insight into a world many are unfamiliar with, yet want to understand as the country experiences the Trump Presidency. Vance’s story sheds some light on the great divide challenging our country today. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Doing My Civic Duty – Part Two

I received a reprieve from civic duty this week. A call from the county court house informed me there were no scheduled cases. I need not report for ‘work’.

I can honestly say jury duty is work because I am paid - $5.00 per day. My first paycheck arrived in the mail this week.

My experience as a grand jurist has been an interesting one. I serve one day a week until the end of June, assuming cases are scheduled on my reporting day. 

the jury
The 23 members of the grand jury file into the courtroom, many bearing drinks - non-alcoholic of course. We are allowed to bring beverages and snacks into court, a more informal situation than trial courtroom practices. Actually it is inaccurate to state 23 members enter the room. Each week three or four do not appear. On the first day we were informed that it is OK if necessary to take a week or two off. Twelve jurors constitute a quorum and are required to vote on whether or not to indict an individual, meaning send the case to trial, or not. 

My fellow jurors are supposed to represent the county’s demographics, and to an extent they do. Folks range in age (I am guessing; did not take a survey) from 30ish to 70ish. Blue and white-collar workers, unemployed and retirees, black, white, Hispanic, and undetermined (not sure of everyone’s background – did not ask). Insufficient factual knowledge (except speculation) about education, economic circumstances, family situation. 

the witness
the prosecutor
The jury remains silent as court proceedings progress and are recorded. A witness is sworn in, the prosecutor asks questions, dismisses the witness and reads the indictment. The jury asks questions based on the case’s facts and point of law. Then the recording stops, and the jury discusses the case. Sometimes there are questions and debate, sometimes not. Occasionally the witness returns to the room for follow-up queries. Once discussion concludes, the jury votes.

the perpetrator
 We have heard a variety of criminal cases involving drugs, domestic abuse incidents, burglaries, robberies, thefts and other offenses. First-time offenders as well as habitual law breakers find their way into criminal court.

The experience opens a window into a world not a part of my everyday routine. I encountered women in domestic abuse situations when I taught at a business school, and the school witnessed a varied cast of characters, a few of whom probably ended up in criminal court.

 A few weeks to go, and so far cases have not risen to a level of national prominence in magnitude or interest. I wonder if one of Trump’s secret liaisons lived or worked in my county and the case lands in court, or one of his fix-it lawyers happens to live in town, or a Russian oligarch patronized a penthouse suite in an upscale hotel and participated in – or was the victim of – hanky panky. That would be fascinating courtroom drama.

I think I am the victim of too much detective TV, having grown up watching Perry Mason, Columbo, The Rockford Files, Matlock… 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day Heroines of My Past

This article is revised from an earlier one posted in 2012.

I was lucky to have strong, independent women role-models growing up. I did not realize the impact of Nana’s, Aunt Jean’s, Aunt Nettie’s and Mom’s experiences until years later. These women (and others not mentioned in this article) created a mosaic of memories that shaped my life. Among the values absorbed was the importance of financial responsibility. A boring trait, definitely not warm and fuzzy, but an important one to everyone’s long-term happiness, security, and well-being.

In honor of Mother’s Day I remember and celebrate two generations of women who influenced my life.

Dad’s father died when he was about four years old and his sister, my Aunt Harriet, was six. On the eve of the Depression, 1929, Nana was left with two children to support. Married, job-hunting women in their 30s were an unwanted commodity. Nana lied about her age, dropping eight years, and as a good-looking 20-something woman found employment. She worked most of her life, never remarried, and struggled for many years. Yet she always looked glamorous to me, a tall, regal, well-dressed lady, every hair in place, whom I wanted to emulate.

I was ten years old when my Uncle Ed died. His wife Aunt Jean floundered, lost without her husband. Uncle Ed handled all the couple’s affairs, including everything financial. I remember Grandpa sitting at the dining room table, hunched over, concentrating on piles of papers strewn across the table, attempting to organize Aunt Jean’s life. She had never written a check and had no idea how much – or how little – money she had. My grandfather taught her how to write a check, keep track of her checking account, and helped her create a budget. The year was 1960.

My Uncle Harry married Aunt Nettie, about as independent a woman as there ever was. Born 1900 in Montana, her independent and adventurous streak was imbedded in her DNA. As a young single woman she travelled cross-country with friends. She went to nursing school and eventually became an administrator at a large hospital in New York City. She returned to school in the 1940s and obtained an additional degree in social work. She and my uncle travelled all over the world. I got engaged while in college; her advice, “Whatever you do, finish college.”

Me and Mom
My mother was an only child and went to college, not a typical undertaking for women born in the 1920s. Most girls majored in education or nursing. Mom majored in math. She returned to school in the early 1960s. I remember Saturday mornings Mom and Dad in our basement, Dad hard at work on the typewriter while Mom dictated a report due in class later that day. She earned a master’s in library science and worked for years as an elementary school librarian. In the late 1960s Dad faced financial difficulties and a period of unemployment, and Mom’s paycheck bridged the gap until Dad was again employed.

Of course I made life decisions that may not have been the best, but I can only blame myself.

For the positive choices reached because of lessons learned from these women,

Thank You and

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Doing My Civic Duty

I was never summoned for jury duty while living 30+ years in Lancaster, PA.

Eight years living in Atlantic County, NJ, and the municipality summoned me twice, the first time as a petit juror. I looked forward to the opportunity to sit on a jury, observe and decide an exciting case – maybe a homicide that made the local and regional papers and possibly national news. Or a financial trial involving a Bernie Madoff-type financial swindler. Or perhaps a case of any kind involving a famous person.

I sat on a personal injury case. The trial lasted two days before lawyers settled out of court. My jury experience concluded.

A couple of months ago an official-looking letter arrived in the mail. Most of my mail nowadays is junk mail. A real letter, official or otherwise, rarely appears in my box. The letter summoned me to court as a prospective grand juror. But before my court appearance I needed to fill out an online questionnaire.

The questions set a high bar (note the legal lingo):

Am I over 18 years of age? A no-brainer for this senior.

Am I a U.S. citizen? As far as I know. My birth certificate proves my existence began in a hospital in New Jersey. Unfortunately the hospital no longer exists, so if anyone questions the authenticity of the document I may be in trouble. But I don’t think I should worry. I am not going to run for President (of anything).

Can I understand and read English? No problem, most of the time. Sometimes I have trouble understanding my 2-year-old granddaughter. And the accents of actors in British films throw me. But I don’t think there will be many cases involving individuals with British accents in south Jersey.

Am I a resident of the county in which I am to serve? The exorbitant checks written for property taxes, the ticket received – one time only – because I forgot to move my car on street cleaning day, my addiction to local pizza and bagels, plus the junk mail accumulated in my name at my address are proof positive I reside in the county.

Have I “been convicted of any indictable offense under the laws of this State another State or the United States”? Definitely a no, and a search of all records will result in nothing.

The court wants to ensure that I “shall not have any mental or physical disability which will prevent the person from properly serving as a juror”? I would say no, although I cannot guarantee all my family, friends, and acquaintances would agree with me.

I passed the test. The next step was to show up in Criminal Court.

The decorum in the courtroom impressed me. Over 100 people sitting quietly, no one squirming or whispering, cell phone use banned, nothing to do but wait. The judge asked if anyone had a reason they could not serve on a jury. People raised their hand and one by one approached the bench. The judge and the individual had a heart-to-heart. Sometimes the person left the courtroom, sometimes returned to their seat, their excuse not compelling enough to sway the judge.

Once everyone hoping to be excused spoke with the judge, court employees conducted orientation, the main part a PowerPoint presentation on the crimes a grand jury may deal with – burglary, theft, domestic abuse, assault, homicide, financial fraud, arson…

We were sent home with instructions to report the following week. I will serve as a Grand Juror one day a week during May and June.

So what does a Grand Jury do? A prosecutor presents a case. The grand jury decides whether the case should go to trial. Or not.

I get paid $5 a day. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Almost Home Again

I didn’t visit the house where I grew up with my sister Janice and parents. I did visit the bungalow where I spent many summers with my sister and grandparents.

My grandparents' Catskill Mountain 'estate'.
The bungalows look run-down and neglected,
but otherwise much the same as it was 50 years ago.
Note the stump where once a tree grew.
 My grandparents bought a small house – a bungalow set on concrete blocks – in the Catskill Mountains sometime during the 1950s. I was a little girl and do not remember the particulars. I do remember what the bungalow looked like outside and inside, and have memories of summer days walking along Joyland Road, playing with friends at the nearby bungalow colony, sitting in the grass under huge shade trees playing cards, reading, drinking iced tea and lemonade.

Grandpa drove to our house on Long Island the day school closed. Janice and I jumped in the car and three-hours later we piled out, eager to begin our summer vacation. We stayed until Labor Day, another summer of hot days, ice cream nights, lazy weekends and occasional trips to town over until the following June.

Janice and I enjoyed Grandma and Grandpa’s company and I am sure they enjoyed ours. Meanwhile our parents relished each other’s company sans kids. For 2½ months.

I thought about the old mountain homestead one sunny spring day while driving north on the New York State Thruway. Monticello was about 30 miles out of the way (each direction), but my curiosity won.

The once pristine landscape driving northwest into the mountains is no longer unspoiled. Billboards urge travelers to stop and visit nearby gas stations and convenience stores, fast food restaurants, stores and roadside stands.

The area is not, however, an economic marvel. On the contrary, for years the Catskills have been subject to run-down and closed up hotels, dying towns and businesses. The tourist trade lost out decades ago to new, more exciting vacation locations.

A renaissance is in the making, however, thanks to casinos. A 2013 amendment to the New York State constitution allows Las-Vegas-type casino gambling. Whether the largesse of the casinos spills over into the community remains a question.

I knew Grandma and Grandpa’s cottage was on Joyland Road, a name etched in my memory. An exit off the highway for ‘Joyland Road’ made it easy to find. Turning onto the street, the car traveled along the two-lane road, passing dilapidated rows of abandoned bungalow colonies, houses occupied but in disrepair, and vacant, neglected homes and businesses.

Then I saw it – two bungalows, one set back a few feet from the larger house. Grandma and Grandpa owned the mountain estate, comprised of two bungalows and a storage shed, and rented out the smaller bungalow every summer. We resided in the larger one.
The bungalow and storage shed. I remember a red door and trim. 

 The bungalows sat silent and deserted behind a patchy brown lawn. No towering shade trees, only stumps where once majestic branches provided shade during hot summer afternoons. The lot reflects the economic problems the area faced over the past decades. Still standing but struggling.

It was hard to tell if the property is permanently abandoned or only uninhabited during the winter. Perhaps owners will arrive in May or June and signs of life appear. The lawn will turn green and newly planted flowers bloom, outdoor chairs and tables materialize, fresh paint brighten the dingy white shingles.

I had not seen the bungalow since the 1960s, and probably the early 1960s. Once in junior high, days hanging with friends at the pool and beach and jobs replaced summers in the mountains. Grandma died in 1969, and Grandpa sold the place the following year.

Walking around the property, I could almost hear echoes of two little girls’ rowdy voices as they race around the house, Grandma calling us to lunch or dinner, Grandpa hunched over his vegetable garden in the far corner of the yard, occasionally a car careening too fast down Joyland Road, a neighbor walking by hollering “hello!”.

I was almost home again, for a short time.  
The far corner of the property where Grandpa's
vegetable garden flourished.