View from a Hammock

Here’s another STL first–my first cold!  Everyone here has had it, why should I be left out!

I walked (dragged) over to Avdi’s, pulled weeds out of the strawberries and prickly pears, then drooped into a chair.

Then I took my life in my hands and tried out the hammock–another first.

Then I got a ride home.

But of course there are photos.  The tree is a view from the hammock.  Sorry, even the photos look under the weather, though it’s a perfect fall day.


RH and Other Firsts in STL

Yesterday Avdi and I spent a beautiful fall day together.

First, he introduced me to the arcane (for lack of a better term) world of DND tabletop strategy, role-play, miniatures, and collectible card gaming.  We toured the room, and he even bought me my first pretty dice bag and assorted dice!  I have no clue!  But shiny!  As we walked to Avdi’s, he explained the tabletop gaming world to me, as a way for young adults to continue to enjoy mature pretend play in a safe social environment with boundaries.

Next we went to The Annex café for coffee drinks, croissants, and getting some work done out on the patio.  That is, Avdi worked and I just kibitzed and fed sparrows.  While at it, he started the process of getting me on his phone plan with a new phone (mine sucks).  Also, he bought us tickets to the Justice and Liberty for Abortion event to benefit the Missouri Abortion Fund, organized by national abortion rights activists, including the female rabbi of Avdi’s congregation.  My first official activist event in STL!

Then we got to participate in his synagogue’s Rosh Hashanah Tashlich ceremony, held in a park at a pond.  There was a circle of people and a guitar.  Instead of the traditional bread, to avoid polluting, we threw stuff from the ground into the pond, symbolizing personal concerns and issues we wanted to ask others’ forgiveness for or remove from our lives.  Avdi and I took turns doing ours; then we just had fun with skipping rocks and throwing stuff!  A guy blew an awesome shofar really well.  He even threw in a kid’s tune request!  I love that this group is like a bunch of old diverse hippies with a sense of humor and social justice activism, not a bunch of stuffy pretentious snobs!

Next we continued the park theme, walking in the beautiful old Forest Park along paths through prairie native plantings (asters, goldenrod, heliopsis?, etc) along a river with stately old bald cypress and sycamore trees.  We saw a huge white heron or egret by the water.  There are turtles and frogs.  It was hard to believe this park is right inside St. Louis, in sight of the city skyline, like a mini-Central Park.


Finally, we drove home to Avdi’s, had drinks (my first negroni) and hot dogs on the patio, and later watched (for my sake) the first episode of the series The Expanse.  I have a whole long backlog of shows and movies I’m behind in or never got to watch, so we’re remedying that, one at a time!

That was a lot of firsts!  I’m just trying to make up for lost time and soak it all in.  It really is a second lease on life while I still have some left, so I’m saying yes to as many experiences as possible.  Who needs an unrealistic bucket list, when there are so many opportunities right in my new neighborhood, starting with my own family and friends.  It gives new meaning to the RH hope for a better new year.



L’shanah Tovah in STL

This is my first erev Rosh haShanah in St. Louis.  I’m so new I don’t even know how to feel, except thankful and fortunate to be here.  We’re not doing much this year, but just having this chance at a fresh start in good company is more than enough.

We never did make it to the Tower Grove Pride today, as Avdi and friends were overbooked for events as it was.  I was a little sorry, but I made the most of time at home to walk up to the dollar store and buy some more essentials for the apartment, and cleaned it up.  I dragged all the broken down boxes into the laundry room once and for all, so now it looks livable and lived in.  Now I’m just listening to music and grokking the fullness, as they say.

For Shabbat, J&C outdid themselves again with a wonderful shepherd’s pie and sides, and this absolutely perfect apple pie from scratch.  I don’t know how they manage to follow their acts with even better ones, but they do.  Then we (family and good friends from out of town) all watched (or rewatched) the Telugu blockbuster RRR.  Such a fun movie.

Here are updates of my apartment progress.  I may be losing the battle to stay minimalist, as more shiny stuff keeps appearing and injecting itself into the few available crannies.  Once I find a few more items of furniture, I’ll distribute it more.  Or so I tell myself.  I’m like a corvid; I can’t resist shiny things.


Back to the Garden

The fall equinox brought a sudden cooling down, after a storm last night that turned the grass strip outside my apartment into a river.  So today was the day I started gardening at Avdi’s.  Yay!  I was so garden-starved, I cleaned up half his backyard, and didn’t even break a sweat.  I finally got a fix!  There’s enough there to keep me dosed for years–I think that’s the evil plan!

I got to meet another good friend of Avdi’s who is in town for a few days, and we all got to eat delicious homemade fish tacos by J&C, on incredible naan that they made from scratch.  It’s like having our own 5-star restaurant all to ourselves.  I think I died and went to nirvana.

The two little red things are adorable mushrooms.  The pale yellow flower is okra.  The long narrow red flowers are native coral honeysuckle.  And all the flowers in vases came from pruning back overgrown native wildflowers.

Back at the apartment, I have the window open and fresh cool air coming in for a change.  My family helped me with the rent, and I’m feeling pretty fortunate.



The Zen of Fixturing

Still taking care of business!  I got my new credit union account yesterday, and bought some more groceries.  I actually have food and basic necessities now.  Such luxury!  My son bought me some lox, bagels, and cream cheese, among other delicacies; oh the decadence!

He introduced me to the Costco here.  It was like Little India!  In fact, Little Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the world!  Like an international shopping spree.  Whites were in the minority, I was loving it!  It was a microcosm of STL in general, so diverse.

It’s been oppressively hot and humid here; hard to tell autumn begins tomorrow.  It’s even too hot for me to garden at Avdi’s, so instead, I repotted my herbs at home, what passes for gardening at my apartment.  My laundry room makes a great potting shed!

My son wants me to be a “fixture” at their home.  While I’m flattered, that’s a hard skill to learn!  So I’ve been practicing my “fixturing” (now a verb in the L42 dictionary).  You don’t want to be lurking underfoot, but there’s not always a job or service to be rendered!  It’s almost like a zen exercise.  The Zen of Being Here Now!  (You can tell I come from Hippiedom.)




STL, One Step at a Time

It’s easy to have “firsts” here, because everything is so new and different.  Today’s first was trivial and literally not many steps away.  I was going to check out the gas station 7-Eleven store next door, but wouldn’t you know it, I chose the five minutes I guess the lone person managing the place stepped out and locked up!  So I walked farther up the street along the strip malls and the manic traffic to the Dollar Tree.

You know I’m a poor oldster when I shop at a dollar store, and actually find what I need, cheap, yay!  The whole time, I could hear one of the cashiers, a black gentleman, politely and respectfully greeting each gloomy customer who walked in.  It was way above and beyond his pay grade!  When I got up to him to check out, I made a point to be friendly back, and asked him what his secret was!  He confided that he actually had been angry about something, with anger control issues, so he tried to compensate and diffuse it by being friendly to people, to somewhat improve the mood.  After more friendly banter back and forth, he said he felt a little better already!  I said glad to be of service!  We joked around a little more while he rang me up.  I doubt the other bored people in line were amused, but we were, anyway.  So that happened.  My first tentative step into what passes for my apartment’s neighborhood.

Today I got a lot more unpacked and set in order.  I even got my rocks out (shut up) and seashells, which, along with the books and booze and other personal touches, means I’m feeling more myself and at home.  I know, I hear you thinking, what about the so-called new minimalist phase?  It will come in time; hard to teach an old hippie new tricks, like the one where you have enough furniture to distribute all the relics so they look less like a bazaar.

I have a few more business “matters of consequence” to accomplish this week, and then maybe I’ll get to putter in someone’s garden.  I feel so cut off from the natural world where I belong.  But the peace of mind just being here outweighs any sacrifice I’ve had to make.






When Diaspora Feels Like Home

I’ve lived in a lot of places, but many of them felt like I was the wandering Jew, in exile.  The key is not the literal place itself, or a false sense of security, but in finding your “chosen people” where you feel at home, wherever in the world you find yourself.  This is how it is for me here.

I spent the week laboring to compile all the vital documentation necessary for applying to various gov departments and services.  Complicated.

*I got my temporary driver license, with a horrifying mugshot to wake the dead;

*registered to vote at the same time, instantaneously;

*qualified for the Affordable Connectivity Program to help pay for internet (thanks Pres. Biden!);

*compiled and submitted all my docs for Medicaid with a lot of help from my son’s printer/scanner–now I just wait in suspense;

*did most of my changes of address for businesses (I do not recommend trying to do any business with the Credit Bureaus, especially the evil Equifax);

*paid bills, with miraculously some money left over;

*tried to get tech support for my crappy phone (no luck);

*discovered Global Foods Market, a mecca of international foods, with the help of my Gdaughter J. and her partner C.–I was ready to move in!  Got my avakaya (mango) pickle fix!

…and a shit ton of other Misc.  Exhausting, but productive.  I think I earned my Shabbat.  Speaking of which, I spent another pleasant erev at my son’s, with J&C cooking up the usual fabulous storm of food, including a gorgeous, perfect challah.  I even contributed a side dish, my first here.   Hey, one of these days, I may even finally get to the part where I promised to work on Avdi’s and Jess’s gardens!  It’s coming soon!

Meanwhile, I’ve been cooking a lot of Indian food from scratch–it smells very S. Indian in here–and finally getting some books on the shelves.  That’s when you know you’re home, when books and cooking appear.  My son is already lending me books I’ve been wanting to read.  Now I can!

Pictured: my first official drink in my apt.; flowers from Avdi’s garden (so many beautiful natives!); GD J. making challah (really fast); Shabbat candles (lit by The Maternal Unit); books!; and an eggplant (the long lavender kind) curry with hand-ground/roasted spices, fresh-dried curry leaves, coconut, onions, garlic, ginger root, peppers, etc., with basmati rice.



The Daily Adventure

This is Sunday Beer and Badminton (B&B), another fine and worthwhile tradition at Avdi’s.  They do the Bad, I guard the Beer.  I am The Maternal Unit.  They do have a lot of nice craft beers here in STL.  I got to meet more nice friends, plus hang out with my Gdaughter and partner.

Jess was kind enough to hang my paintings on my walls (not my forté), a couple of which were painted by her and her grandmother.  Now my apartment is a mini-gallery.

Today I printed out some paperwork at Avdi’s for the DMV, so I can go get my license and register to vote, my first priority on a long list.  One step at a time.

Then four of us went to Maypop (common name of Passiflora, passionflower, a native), a lovely café and garden center.  They have natives, perennials, annuals, and tropicals.  I was in Hort heaven.  You know me, soon I was talking shop and helping set up fallen umbrellas and plants on this extremely windy pre-fall day.  I bought half a dozen herbs, which are now on what passes for my patio.  Gotta start somewhere.  (Now all I need is food to put them on!)

Now I’ve got the patio door and window open to let fresh air in, something I really missed for years.  Welp, back to work unpacking.

My New City

How to condense all the momentous experiences of the last few days…almost impossible.  Here’s an attempt.

After packing up all my belongings on Friday 9/2, Avdi and Jess and I camped out at their hotel overnight, then Sat.3 drove the truck for many hours across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and into St. Louis, Missouri.  The Arch was as impressive as expected, though the Mississippi at that point is fairly narrow.  We drove to Avdi’s and I spent the night there.  I had a great reunion with the part of the family living there, and finally got to see the famous garden, no longer under water from flooding.

The next day Sun. 4, we and some friends and family unloaded the truck into my new apartment.  With all that help, it wasn’t long until I was moved in.  I finally got to meet the landlord in person, a nice Punjabi man whom Jess and I had been messaging back and forth with to accomplish all the lease business.  We all made a good team of long-distance collaborators.

I spent the night in my new apartment.  I began the process of sorting and setting up, then got to read a book in bed!  The simple luxuries.

Mon. 9/5, Labor Day, Avdi took me to see the long-anticipated Missouri Botanical Garden [MoBot], where the Japanese Festival was going on.  Along the way he played the docent in the tradition of my father at NYBG, retelling the interesting history of the founder of the Garden in Victorian times.  The landscapes were exquisite and fascinating.  It was easy to spend hours exploring.  I saw a spectrum of diversity, representing many ethnic origins, countries, colors, and orientations.  STL has had its painful history of racism and intolerance, but today it has healthy, thriving communities embracing progressiveness and inclusiveness.

I saw that more close up and personal later that evening, around a fire at the home of Avdi’s friends, where I got to meet some of his interesting, eclectic circle.  Many of their kids are non-binary or trans, and they experience and embrace acceptance and inclusion.  The kids get to grow up in a supportive atmosphere, not so much intolerance.  It was so refreshing to meet and talk to intelligent people.

Today, Tue. 6, I think all the exhaustion caught up to me, with another round of vertigo and other unmentionable symptoms, but it all worked out, because today was internet hookup day, so I got to stay home and decompress while waiting for the technician to connect me.  Finally, I’m back online.  Once I recover, I have lots of business to accomplish.  One day at a time.

Here are some highlights along the journey.  Leaving Ohio, our little truck dwarfed by real trucks, first sight of my new city, and scenes from the Japanese Festival (and other themed gardens) at MoBot.  Note the Chihuly glass sculptures, just like at NYBG.

Extra bonus–the internet capacity and speed is so much greater here!  I was able to upload all the photos fast for a change, instead of one at a time for days!