Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Aging and the passage of time: A weekend of perpectives

Most of us don't really ponder the concepts of aging and the passage of time until they thrust themselves forcefully upon us.  I haven't been able to escape the reality of aging lately - though I'm lucky that the reminders have been pleasant. Some have even been downright joyful!

Last week we made an offer on a 1.2 acre lot in the Tumble Creek neighborhood of Suncadia. Tom is pretty much over the moon about planning for our retirement there, mostly because he gets to build (or at least be involved in building) a house. I am finding my way over the moon as well and think it'll be a really good place for us to spend our "golden years." We'll both get what we want: Tom will get to build a house on a quiet, large, secluded lot where it doesn't rain most of the year (though it definitely snows) and I will get my dream house in an active community with lots to do. I'll blog sepearetly about that endeavor once escrow closes and it's a done deal. But here's a little tease:

The day after our offer was accepted and went under contract ("You are Getting Old, Event #1), I woke up at 3 AM to get on a 6 AM flight to the Bay Area to visit with Elisabeth and to attend my aunt's annual wine tasting party.

 My parents and my aunt met a group of people in Germany when they were in their early 20s, just after the war. These friends not only immigrated to America together, they raised kids together in the same Berkeley community in the 50s and 60s, and have been extremely close all along.  What started as a big group of loud, feisty, fun, slightly crazy young whippersnappers is now a very small group of slow, quiet, reflective old people. It's actually hard to watch. ("You are Getting Old, Event #2.) But I'll get to the wine tasting later.

Elisabeth went to the Bay Area to go to graduate school at Samuel Merritt University, where she's training to be a Nurse Anesthetist.

It's an incredibly intensive two and a half year program and she has very little time off during the entire program, but she just happened to have a few days off now, between semesters, so we had lots of time together this weekend. (God, I miss that girl!!) We started our time together in the cadaver lab at her school, of all places! ("You are Getting Old, Event #3?!)
I wasn't allowed to take photos in the cadaver lab, but it looked a lot like this, with a cadaver under each sheet. It took some getting used to, but is actually fascinating, and Elisabeth LOVES her chosen profession. She promised to come back to Seattle to practice after she graduates, but she and Danny really love the Bay Area. It's really selfish that I want her back, isn't it?

Our visit to the cadaver lab really gave us appetite (not... but it was time to eat!), so we headed to Rick and Ann's, which is in the Berkeley neighborhood where I grew up. Then we walked around the neighborhood in which almost all my childhood memories were formed. ("You are Getting Old, Event #4.)

Many of those memories were formed at John Muir Elementary School - which happened to be in session!

Just walking down the path toward the school, which I must have done hundreds of times in my youth, brought back a flood of memories! (You are getting old, event #5.)

Those poor tenants behind that door (which used to be red)! Did we really think "ding-dong ditch" was funny day after day?

The stairwell leading to the cafeteria  is full of memories for me and I swear, I could hear hundreds of school children chattering and I could smell those 40 cent school lunches being prepared! The bumps on the railing were to keep us from sliding down to our lunches. They weren't much of a deterrent!

My favorite part of the school has always been the classic Craftsman auditorium with the beautiful green velvet curtains! Many a nervous child spent time on that stage!

John Muir's library was moved when the school was retrofitted about 20 years ago, but the beautiful "Mother Goose" wall painting were salvaged and now grace the new school library. I'm so glad to see that these were painstakingly saved! It is so worth it!

After I filled Elisabeth's ears with memory after memory ("On my birthday in fourth grade, I brought a stuffed snake to school and wore my new after ski boots." "I learned that Walt Disney had died in that classroom on a hot Spring day." "The principal's office was in there. Mr. Ventor had a paddle that he used to swat naughty kids - always boys!"), we decided to take a quick walk to the house I grew up in.

I noticed right away that the porch outside my bedroom (from which I could see the Golden Gate Bridge straight ahead!) had been expanded.

There used to be a walkway straight through from the main road to the pathway behind our house and I wanted to show Elisabeth that path... but it was no longer a straight path and we had to trespass in order to get to the path.

As we walked along the path, a man appeared. "Hi! We're trespassing!" I explained. Then I quickly added that I grew up in the house. While we had lived in the house for the entire first 13 years of my childhood, the current owners, who bought it from us in 1970, still live there!

"Just knock on the door," the man (a tenant who lives in the ballroom -- yes, we had a ballroom!) suggested. So we did!


For the next two hours, we were given a tour of what has become of my childhood home! ("You are Getting Old, Event #6.) The current owners are a doctor and an artist. I didn't see a great deal of evidence of "doctor," but "artist" was everywhere -- and I mean everywhere!

 Remember this photo of my mom and me in her dressing room?
Well, that room currently looks like this:

And the fireplace that looked like this?

 That now can be seen here:
I'm glad some of the things I remember so well are still there! The beautiful dining room built-ins, the original farmhouse sink, the claw foot tub, the mother-of-pearl push-on-push-off light switches, the classic bathroom tile, and even the same tub we all took baths in way back when!


It was so great to hear the stories about the sale of the house from my parents to the current owners! They even called the rooms by OUR names as they showed us around! "Here's Chris' room... the "little living room... the ping-pong room...")

 And we ended with a photo, of course! Thanks so much, Steve and Marian! What a treat!

After we visited my old house, we got to visit Elisabeth's NEW house... or rather her's and Danny's studio. So cute!! ("You are Getting Old, Event #7.)

Speaking of "cute," my dear cousin (where I was staying, as Kat and Morgan would stay with Elisabeth when they arrived on Saturday) just added this new cutie, "Percy,"  to the family!

On Saturday, Kat and Morgan arrived and we played tourist in the City. What fun!

The new Bay Bridge

Lombard Street
The real tourist attraction is the tourists!

Stately San Francisco homes...

Elisabeth and Danny (and the Golden Gate)

Kat and Morgan (and the Golden Gate)
Mom and her girls (and the Golden Gate) ("You are Getting Old, Event #7.)

The Golden Gate!

When we got back from the City, we were exhausted! ("You are getting old," event #8.)We chilled a bit in Elisabeth's yard...
 ...and across the street on one of North Berkeley's huge rocks, from where we watched the sunset.

Then we headed back to the cousin's to have a delicious Thai dinner -- and to wear out one very large dog and one (currently) small puppy.

The next day was the wine tasting. To be honest, tasting wine played very little role in my day. Mostly I just reveled in being with family... and friends from waaaaaay back, before I was even born -- who have gone from young and feisty and unstoppable to old and tired and slow. (See "You are Getting Old, Event #2.)
Claudia and Ulli

Dad and his two youngest ("the little ones," we were called)

Some people actually did taste wine!

"Mickey" and Ray

Elisabeth and my cousin Marcus

The four Heumann "kids"

...with Dad

Kathy and Ray

Ulli and Thomas, sister and brother

Sister and brother and spouses

 What great fun the weekend was, from start to finish!

I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open on the plane ride home, but could barely capture my favorite views through sleepy eyes,
Mt. St. Helens
Crater Lake
Mt. Rainier

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