Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I am leaving in a few days for Chicago, visiting my grandson and his wife who live there and spending some quality time with my new great-grandson, eight months old at last count, as red haired as his mother, with a smile for everyone he meets, except for me, whom he forced to work hard for his approval. It is disconcerting to have a tiny tot wrinkle up and cry every time he looks in your direction, but after a few minutes of making squeaky noises and playing with little toys, he decided I wasn't such an ogre after all.

By a lucky coincidence, I will be in Chicago for Election Day and plan on attending what I hope will be a Victory Celebration for Obama in Grant Park. Since Chicago weather is as bad as Detroit weather, perhaps even worse, I will be ready with my long johns, my fur-lined parka, my moose skin coat, my wool coat and gloves. Cold weather is not my favorite time of year. I prefer palm trees and sunny skies. For a while there, I had hoped Global Warming had heated this area up a bit, but if it has, it is unnoticeable, except for the green tree in my yard that refuses to drop its leaves.

Chicago, I am told, is laid out in a grid, unlike Detroit, which is supposed to be a wheel. The expressways have crisscrossed the wheel to a point where it is difficult to find one's way. One handy item God seems to have left out of my construction is a sense of direction. I am directionally-challenged and can get lost in a Walmart. One time I wandered through a Casino looking for an exit and thought I would have to spend my lifetime there amid the slots, not a bad way to go, but miserable if you have run out of quarters.

For directionally-challenged people, there is no East, South, West or North. There are only Right and Left. If you tell me to turn Left, I can do that. If you tell me to go South, I may end up in New Jersey. I don't fight it any more. It's just an aggravating fact of life. I just keep going until I find something recognizable, or until someone finds me.

Anyway, I will explore Chicago's grids. It is one city where I have not spent much time, simply because it always seemed to me to be dull, as compared to Los Angeles or San Antonio. Now my friends are telling me that I have been sorely mistaken about that. I always counter this by asking how any place called "The Windy City" can have any charm for a woman who values her coiffure? A "Breezy City" I could understand, but a high wind makes it difficult.

When I was working at the paper, it was located on the 13th Floor of a tall building in the center of the city. When you stepped outside the building, it was like entering the Gates of Hell. The wind whistled around that corner with a vengeance and, for some reason, it was also the loitering spot for prostitutes, who leaned against walls and posts and displayed their wares to the passers-by. We were supposed to park in a huge facility located beside a local hospital, about two blocks away from the building where I worked. Since this was a windy, cold walk to take each morning, I ignored all of this and parked in front of the building, using the metered parking spaces.

My car was registered in my husband's name and he was not too pleased to see his name in the local opposition paper as the "Biggest Scofflaw in the City," with about a thousand unpaid parking tickets. I had to explain my case to a judge, telling him how frightening it was for a woman alone to park in that big, echoing building, sometimes late at night for a story, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. In the interest of proper newscasting, he did help me with my fines. Otherwise, I would still be deeply in debt to the city.

Staying in the same apartment building I will occupy in Chicago is Jeff Daniels, a Michigan actor who will unfortunately leave the place before I move in. He has evidently been appearing in a play there in Chicago. It is a dog-friendly building, so Jedi will move in with me. So far, I have taken her on planes, trains and automobiles. The only method of travel left is going by ship. I talked to a cruise director about this and she said she would order sod to be put on the upper deck for Jedi to use for her toilette. I plan to try a cruise with Jedi very soon.

When I return, when Barack Obama is hopefully installed as our next president, I plan on returning to my precious memories of that family that is no more, the eleven brothers and sisters who helped fashion me into the person I am today. Wherever I go, whatever I do, they travel with me...those eleven people, their wives, husbands, and children surround me as I move through these last golden years of my life. I want to write it all down, tell about it, explain it, leave its experiences for the hundreds or more who have come into this world because John and Daisy met and married. I want each one of them to understand the fortitude and humor of those who lived before them. I want them to walk with me through the hills and valleys of the Farm, to smell the clean fragrance of the grass and see the bloom of the old apple trees in the Springtime.

I want these hundreds of people to mirror the strength of these old farm people throughout the years of their lives, handed down to their children and their children's children to fortify them for the pitfalls that always accompany our existences. They are spread out now throughout the country and the world, this group that has included an astronaut, attorneys, doctors, teachers, an astrophysicist and Heaven knows what else, probably Kevin Bacon. I want to leave them firmly entrenched in the memory of the Farm, where the corn grew on that gravel pit to awesome heights and the wildflowers beckoned in Dead Man's Cave!