Square Perspective: Old Age

For Becky’s July Squares, today I focus on the perspective of point of view: a particular way of considering (looking at) something or the capacity to view things in their relative importance.

There has been an emphasis during this Covid-19 pandemic on people 65 and older, who are believed to be more susceptible to the more serious complications of the virus. The state of Illinois had the residents and staff of all senior facilities tested, so I was one of the “lucky” people to be tested (for readers not in the USA, we are woefully behind when it comes to testing, no matter what Trump says). When the results came back, we had the pleasure of learning that not a single resident has contracted the virus.

At our community – like many senior communities – there are 3 different facilities: independent living (houses and apartments), assisted living (smaller apartments), and memory care/health care center (for residents who need the most care). The biggest worry has been the health care center, where residents & staff are in close quarters. We live in one of the two bedroom duplexes, so we are fortunate to be able to leave our house and walk around and not encounter anybody – sometimes that happens; anyway, we carry our masks in case we stop to talk to other people out walking.

At 68, I am probably the youngest resident here and sometimes it feels weird, like I don’t belong. Or that I’m seeing what the future has in store for me. Which brings me to my photo for today! (I have posted this photo several times, when it has fit whatever challenge, because it’s one of my favorite photos.)

I took this photo years ago when my mother was in a senior facility and was moving from her spacious independent living apartment to assisted living. My husband, my brother and sister-in-law were helping get all her stuff packed, which she “supervised.” This shows a contemplative moment, I think, as she looked at all the empty white shelves, and perhaps thinking of how the bare shelves were a metaphor for her twilight years. Or maybe she was just tired. What was she thinking? What was her perspective?

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Future

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge this week is to depict the topic of future. How can I take photos of something that hasn’t happened yet? Of course, that is impossible, but I can photograph potential and anticipation: the changing of seasons, children growing up, construction sites where buildings are being built on their current foundations.

I read this morning that there are currently six generations of people alive today. The G.I. Generation was born in the years 1900-1924. This generation is disappearing, but a few of them are still living independently in our senior community!

Mother facing the empty shelves

My mother, born in 1917, sat in her empty apartment in 2009 contemplating her future – the last chapter of her life – as we, her children, packed up her possessions in preparation for her move to assisted living. The empty white walls and shelves represented the end of her independence. (She died at the end of 2014.)

The Traditionalists/Silent Generation was born during the Depression and World War II, 1925-1945. Baby Boomers, the largest generation, were born 1946-1964 (this is my generation).


Members of three generations – my husband, Dale, was born in 1944 and grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. Behind him is me, born in 1952 – a Baby Boomer. In back, that smiling, handsome young man is my son, Jayme, born in 1985 – a Millennial, because his generation reached adulthood in the 21st century. Every one of us has a future to look forward to, although Dale takes it less for granted than Jayme. Dale and I look to the future as one of travel and pursuit of our own interests in our retirement years. Jayme – assuming he lives as long as we have – will see a very different world: one with altered climate, perhaps shortage of food and hopefully, a more enlightened government that invests in renewable energy. Will his health be compromised from smoking during his young adulthood? Will he quit before that? Will he find the love of his life, get married and have children? Will he publish a book of poems? I wonder about his future when I look at his face. HOPE is always a projection of the future!

Generation X is those born between 1965 and 1979. Millennials were born between 1980 and the late 1990s. Finally, Generation Z (because we don’t know what else to call them yet!) are the kids of today: born in the last years of the 20th century to the 2010s.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

A member of Generation Z is filled with wonder and delight at the ducks around her. She hopefully can look forward to a long future ahead.


Mason (in lime green hoodie), holds his younger brother, Max, (my grand-nephew) as they watch fireworks over a lake in northern Wisconsin. I have already seen their future – this was taken in 2014, and Mason is no longer a child – he’s in high school, and Max, age 2 or 3 in this photo, is now a second grader.

Each of these generations had or have a future. The older ones have already fulfilled their potential – their hopes and dreams either completed or frustrated. The future they looked toward is now.

In the political arena, I see the youngest two generations as our hope for the future. These are the kids of Parkland High School, who are turning eighteen and have registered to vote; they are 18-year-olds all over the country who are signing up to vote fueled by the passion of their peers, peers such as the survivors of Parkland who saw their classmates gunned down at school, or such as Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old face of the movement to deal with climate change. We need their passion nowadays! We older folks can continue to march and protest Trumpism; we can show our concern for climate change and help in various ways. But it is really these younger people that carry us into the future.

Hope for future reflected in participants in a flash rally (including us – that’s me in the photo at left) in downtown Arlington Heights, that Robert Mueller would be allowed to do his job and discover damning information that would implicate Trump. What has Trump got to hide? Much of that is still to be uncovered – will the future bring us the full truth?

The future is my 50th high school reunion in June. Sedona, see you soon!
The future for an artist is an empty canvas.
20200212_001230Nature is a good place to look for the promise of the future.


I was taking a walk on a chilly (but not horribly cold) afternoon last week and took this photo of a tree rising out of a sheen of ice on a retention pond. Later, when I looked at it in large size on my computer, I noticed a lot of white specks on the branches and realized, the tree is budding already! This has been a very mild winter and plants have been fooled into thinking it’s almost spring. Already we see the future on this tree – a future of blossoms and green leaves.

All species are equipped to reproduce, so that their kinds will continue. Flowers have fertile interiors, filled with the pollen needed to spread its seeds. The flowers’ colors and fragrance are designed to attract insect species to spread their pollen. Few orchids are red, because bees cannot see that color. And flies prefer flowers that are brownish, resembling decay.

To look into the center of a flower is to see the future – or the promise of it!

Baby animals start out so small…


Our grandcat, Freddy, when he was still a kitten. Look at the hair in his ears – what breed was in this shelter kitten? Only the future would tell…Now he’s six months old with the bushy tail of a Maine coon cat!

and in the wild, their parents can only hope that their future includes reaching adulthood!


Your Daily Word Prompt: Nostalgic

I have had many opportunities lately to feel nostalgic, mainly because we are preparing to move to a senior community in six months, so we have to drastically downsize. This means going through boxes in the basement that haven’t been touched in decades!

I have found old photos of myself and my family from the 1970s – 1990s, drawings I did in 1972 and artwork my son did in elementary school, as well as old journals (as far back as 6th grade!), comics I made and stories I wrote.

Most valuable to me at this current time is a journal that I started in 2007 which I found in a drawer of my desk. Just 12 years ago, I had only written in the first 10 pages or so. So now I am carrying it around to encourage me to write and draw instead of playing games on my cellphone! Right now it’s an all-out war between my phone and my journal! The problem with a journal is that it is larger than a cellphone and writing by hand is getting more difficult lately – my hand cramps up and nice, legible handwriting after a page or two becomes erratic and less legible! However, a journal doesn’t need to be charged after using!

My next post happens to also be about something nostalgic: the music of my generation! Here’s a link: Song Lyric Sunday: Feelin’ Groovy.

Here are some of the things I found in the basement that made me nostalgic.

My son’s childhood

Jayme at beach in Milwaukee c1986

Jayme – 18 months old – at a beach in Milwaukee

Julia Waeffler & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

Jayme, about age 3 with his cousin Julia, age 5. These two were the best of friends for many years.

Jayme Villa-Alvarez, Dale Berman

My husband, Dale, showing Jayme how to put air in his bike tires. The most striking thing for me in this photo is how black Dale’s hair was then!


Jayme wrote me this letter from summer camp. He was about 10.

My family used to gather around the piano every Christmas and sing carols. This might have been the last time we were all together (1967). My mother probably took the photo because she isn’t in it. I am standing (2nd from left), while two of my sisters were at the piano.
In high school I had a boyfriend who taught me how to develop photos in a darkroom. These are three photos I took and developed back then. The top two were taken at my school, Verde Valley School; underneath is the front of the house of a family that I stayed with in Oaxaca, Mexico, during my senior year.

Here I am with two of my sisters at my high school graduation! They had graduated from the same school years earlier. (I’m in the middle.)

When I was in elementary school – and even before that! – I loved to draw more than anything else. My mother used some of my drawings on the family’s Christmas cards a couple of times. This one made the local newspaper! I was 7 at the time.
Katy's Xmas card design - age 7

In 1973, I went to Mexico with a college boyfriend (my future 1st husband) and we traveled all over the country. This photo was taken at Uxmal, Yucatán. I am climbing down a very steep Mayan pyramid, holding onto a chain as I descended. It was scary!
Uxmal, Mex-Jan 1973
After my mother became a widow, she made arrangements to move to a retirement community. She moved there after her dog died. In this photo copied from a scrapbook, taken in 2003, I am posing with her after a concert my church choir performed at the retirement home. My mother lived there many years, first in independent living, then she moved to assisted living, and finally to memory care, where she passed away in 2014.

Posted for Your Daily Prompt: Nostalgic, 5/26/19.

Song Lyric Sunday for Mothers

Jim Adams has a weekly challenge called Song Lyric Sunday and this week’s theme is Mother/Mom/Flowers. I have posted flower songs before, so I looked up songs for or about mothers. Some were too sappy (like Elvis Presley’s Mama Liked the Roses), the one I actually like the best is depressing (John Lennon’s Mother), and none of them fit my relationship with my mother.

So I found this tongue-in-cheek song and decided to use it – and the video contains the lyrics! It’s The Mom’s Song by Ashley Tisdale.

As a tribute to my own mom (who did say many of these things, but perhaps in her own unique way!), here is a collage of pictures of my mother, Margot, from my archives. My mother passed away in December 2014.


SYW: On finding one’s soulmate, my mother’s hats, schaum tortes, and 2-for-1 sales

Share Your World is Melanie’s weekly challenge to answer four questions plus sharing gratitude. These are her questions and my answers this week.

1. Do you believe in soul mates? If so, do you think there is only one person meant to share that bond with you, out there in the world? (credit to Cyranny of Cyranny’s Cove)
I do believe in soul mates but I don’t think everyone finds one. You can fall in love and live with someone all your lives without being “soulmates.” Only if you are very lucky do you find “the one” out there in the world that is your true soul mate. My stepdaughter, for example, found her soul mate (now her husband) online. It is uncanny how much they are alike and how quickly they clicked.
2. Ice cream cone, shake or other ice cream concoction?
I love ice cream in any form, but my favorite dessert is schaum torte. I usually have this dessert once a year, at Easter, because my niece makes the meringues. You put a scoop of ice cream on top of the meringue, cover it with strawberries and hot fudge sauce (best if homemade! My niece makes that too!). I used to have this dessert rarely as a kid. Perhaps because it is a rare, special treat, is why I love it so much. On my birthday, though, I want an ice cream cake!
3. What would be the hat to end all hats? What could you wear on your head that would make people stop what they are doing and stare in awe and amazement?
My mother was the champion of hats. She traveled all over the world and always came back from her travels with a new hat, something native to the place she visited. She had so many hats that once when my sister had a Halloween party, my mother came as “the hat lady.” She pinned her weird hats all over her outfit! The strangest thing she did, though, was once when she was out with my dad and it started raining. She had no rain hat or umbrella with her, so she emptied the contents of her purse, handing these items to my dad, and then put the open purse upside down on her head!
I like hats but I could never beat anything my mother wore on her head!
hats4. What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?
I might have said “credit card debt” or “tax bill” or maybe something no one would want more than one of, (or at least I wouldn’t – such as two death metal concerts for the price of one…I wouldn’t even attend one) but since I read Melanie’s answers, I would have to say the same thing: Two Trumpelinas for the price of one?? Although we kind of got that with Don Jr. and Eric…anyway, the thought is too horrifying to contemplate!
Bonus Question. Please share a moment of gratitude that you experienced during the past week.
Seeing my son trying harder to make enough money to live on. Twice he came over last week because he couldn’t afford to buy decent food, so I invited him for dinner, and we had a nice conversation both nights. Since then, he’s been working more hours as a Lyft driver so that he will have enough to buy at least his essentials. But I think the part I’m grateful for was just seeing him behaving like the nice young man he can be.

Friday RPD: Absent

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

Absent the ones we love
Memories of times gone by
An empty house
An empty building long ago abandoned

20180803_150227 DP warehouse

Those absent
Are what we covet
Appreciation grows
For those we no longer have, can no longer touch


Love grows
For our dearly departed
A home we had to leave
Empty shelves, empty nest
Beauty we no longer see
Music we no longer hear in the silence of our mind.


Absent is what is no longer remembered
No longer reachable
Absent is the past.

Mother facing the empty shelves

Photos: A shuttered warehouse, an abandoned trailer, weavers’ nests no longer occupied, my mother in her empty apartment.

Friday RDP: Absent


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is People or Objects Over 50.

Two years ago, we had several rooms in our house renovated. The walls had to be stripped of wallpaper.

20160114_151052 (2)

One of the things the painters uncovered was this old doorbell, installed in the 1940s or possibly earlier.
phone photos 216 (2)Since I am over 50 myself, so are many of the people in my life! The oldest was my mother, who died in 2014. This picture was taken on her 96th birthday.410 (3)
This is a selfie of me and my husband in Amsterdam, in Museum Square, earlier this year. We both had rather strange expressions on our faces!20180129_135904 (2)
We went to an art exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute recently, of ancient Chinese bronzes.  This ancient scroll from the Zhou Dynasty is a drawing of a bronze container.
20180306_141843 (2)
Chinese bronze bell
20180306_142543 (2)
All the people on our safari, except one, were older than 50. Here is our guide, David, telling us about some animal bones (which themselves are old, although I don’t know if they are over 50 years old!).
2-13 David with animal bones at Serengeti NP Visitors Center (3)





WPC: Weathered

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Weathered.  Krista says that she looks at “these relics from the past and wonder what they’ve been witness to over the years…They’ve survived decades of sun, wind, rain, storms, and even floods.”

Here are my interpretations of weathered:

My mother on her 96th birthday:
410 (2)
An old building at The Grove Nature Center, Glenview, IL:

Window of a ruined convent (Antigua, Guatemala):
KODAK Digital Still Camera

Old tombstone at Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA:


D-Day, June 6, 1944

This post is from another blog of my family history that I have rarely posted in – here is the link: https://wordpress.com/post/thoroglove.wordpress.com/144

In honor of Veteran’s Day, I am reblogging this post from my family history blog above.

D-Day June 6 1944My mother told me that on June 6, 1944, after hearing the news about the invasion of Normandy, she was worried and scared. She was a young wife and mother of a 21-month-old child, and 7 months pregnant with another. She knew from her husband’s letters that he was somewhere in the English channel on a minesweeper.D-day newspaper headline

Since she couldn’t sleep, she called a close friend, who I believe was also pregnant, and the two of them went out for a walk at 2 am! They walked and walked and talked.
Although Dad wrote home nearly every day, I do not have a letter dated June 6, 1944. However, his letter to my mother on June 9 says that he hadn’t had time to write nor anywhere to mail a letter if he had. It must have been a tremendous relief for my mother to receive Letter #36, which was added to and mailed several days later!

Below is that long letter, written over the course of several days.

My darling –
I wrote & mailed #35 to you last Saturday (June 3), and haven’t written since – I haven’t had time & haven’t been anywhere where I could mail letters. When we get back to such a place, I hope I can cable you, so that you will not be worried about the gap in my mail – this will be mailed at the same time. Last Saturday I also sent a V-mail to Mother. And later in the day I received your #39 (air mail – 9 days) & the article about U.S.N.R.
M.S. – was much interested in the latter. I should get a baleful of your letters when our mail catches up to us again.D-Day invasion map

Your guess is right – we are at the Normandie [sic] beach-head and have been from the start. Have been under way since Saturday night, sweeping over here for the past four days. It has been an experience I shall never forget so long as I live. We have had a couple of bad scares, but so far are untouched. We have swept some mines but been involved directly in no action ourselves. We have, however, been close to plenty of action. Cannot see the details ofwhat’s going on on the beach, and get most of our news over the radio, as you do. But we are getting a good “view” of the naval bombardment & the entrance of all types of naval vessels into the area. Although there is almost constant shelling, it is not so noisy as I expected, and we really have seen less activity than you would think. Of what I can tell you, the thing that impresses me the most is the size of the operation. On the whole, from our point of view, the weather has been good.D-day invasion naval force

Have no idea when we shall leave this area (you will know we have when this letter is mailed, even if I cannot cable), but it can’t be too soon. It is not just the noise, to which

D-day naval bombardment-USS Nevada

D-Day:  USS Nevada

we are getting accustomed, but the rugged character of life on board here. The first couple of days we got practically no sleep at all & were really pooped out – that has improved lately, though sleep still comes in snatches. Since I now feel more rested, the most annoying thing is personal hygiene – last night I took my first shower & shave since we shoved off – in fact it was the first time in five days that I had taken off my clothes at all – my old ideas of frequency of showers & changes of clothes are certainly going by the board!
But we are getting along fine really, and everyone’s spirit seems to be holding up well. We keep busy, & get good entertainment out of our radio. So, darling, please don’t worry – I’ll be all right. What worries me most is that you will worry yourself into an unhealthy state and endanger yourself & L.L.
(Transcriber’s note: L.L. stood for Lester Llewellyn, a highly improbable name for the baby my mother was expecting! Until my second sister was born, my parents affectionately referred to him (her) as Lester Llewellyn.)


Since I have told you about all I am allowed to, there isn’t much more to say. One of our crew exhibited a fine bit of timing – he got appendicitis & had to be transferred of the ship the last day before we left the United Kingdom!

Did I remind you about the people to put on the birth announcement list? I guess I did. Don’t forget the Kuhns & my other cousins & aunts. Don’t forget Geo. & Eleanor Thomas – you say you saw George – is he contemplating moving back to Janesville soon?
Tell Judy thanks for her letter – I really enjoyed it. She certainly has learned a lot of words & other tricks since I saw her. I sure do miss her something awful.
Swell that your Mr. Rauch is so good – I hope you can keep him and that he will work for you enough to get done what is necessary.
Sure glad to hear that Mother was getting better – hope she is fully recovered by now. Maybe I shall hear from her soon.

You seem to be working awfully hard – darling, don’t get yourself too tired – you know what it did to you in Boston, when the nervous strain was less than it is now. You should get some relief when the maid starts, which I hope is by now. You don’t say anything more about having the baby restored to upright position again & whether it will stay there – what about it? – I am a little concerned.
Well, I’ll close this temporarily and keep adding to it until I can mail it. Darling, just remember that I shall always adore you.

Sunday, June 11, 1944 – 1:30 p.m.

D-day mines sweptWell, we are still here, and are still keeping busy sweeping, etc. No sign or indication yet as to when we shall get away from here. We are getting a little more used to it, and life does not seem as rugged as it did. We have had another scare or two, but we really in very little danger and less & less so as our forces progress. But we shall still be glad to get away from here whenever they give us the word!
That’s about all I can tell you – we get our news over the radio, as you do, and so know very little more of what goes on than you do. We see only a very, very small part of the activity that is making news. But from all reports the boys are doing a swell job in there – hope they keep it up. And isn’t the news from Italy good? I expect a big offensive on the Russian front soon, and possible other invasions – but I really know nothing about it (if I did, I couldn’t say anything at all!).
D-day painting
Wish we could get to wherever our mail is, because I wonder about you & Judy & Mother – & especially you – how you are & what you’re doing. If I told you a million times, darling, you’d never know how much I miss you. But I hope you can read between the lines, sweetheart, for I really love you, love you, love you with every gram of strength & feeling within me. So take good care of yourself – for me.

June 12, 1944 – 9 a.m.
Just got off watch a few minutes ago, after learning that they are going to pick up our outgoing mail in a little while. So I want to get this off to you. With it I shall send a V-mail to Mother, so that you will hear as soon as possible that we are all okay. Have no idea whether they will bring incoming mail to us, nor when I shall be where I can cable you.

No more news – it has been relatively quiet lately. I guess the fighting is pretty fierce inland, but the boys seem to be making progress. The weather is beautiful today – only the second clear day we have had since we got here.

Must stop now.

Loving you always –

Note: All pictures and diagrams in this post were downloaded from Google Images.

CFFC: Hands: The Young and the Old

As very young children, our hands were used to explore things – babies are very tactile explorers. At her first birthday party, my grand-niece Rosemary explored a blueberry pie, first by touching the rough surface of the crust…

Mmm, the top feels nice!

Mmm, the top feels nice!

…next by digging her hand into the cool gooey blueberry inside…another new sensation!

Why is everyone looking at me?

Why is everyone looking at me?

…and finally by putting her fingers into her mouth to taste this intriguing substance.

Hmm, tastes good too!

Hmm, tastes good too!

As we age, our hands grow along with us and are used for many things: typing on a keyboard (as I am doing right now), create a painting or sculpture, play a musical instrument, signal to people (victory signs, thumbs up, and others not so nice), even talk – the deaf community has its own language, ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate with their hands.When we meet someone, we shake their hands. When we want to express our heartfelt thanks, we might put our hand over our heart. We embrace our loved ones and caress our lovers with our hands.

When I think about it, it’s truly amazing what we can get our hands to do. A secretary who can type as fast as her boss can talk, or a pianist playing a concerto, or a teacher, her hand gripped around a piece of chalk or dry erase marker, as she illustrates or writes something on the board for her students, or a florist using his hands to shape a bouquet just so. So much do we rely on our hands to perform tasks that we become frustrated when our fingers refuse to cooperate!

Hands can be adorned with rings, henna or bracelets.


A piano teacher’s hand

In old age, hands can fail us: they may become misshapen with arthritis or just not work as efficiently as before. The veins in the back of our hands become more prominent as do the bones of our joints. Age spots may appear on the skin. One of my favorite pictures of my mother is this one, taken on her ninetieth birthday, her wrist decorated with a corsage. Her hand is as expressive as the look on her face.

MTL 90th bday

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Hands 8/16/16