Stranger v. Alien

After spending almost a week at Avdi’s, I don’t feel quite as much of that lost, uprooted (landmark-less?) feeling.  I walked there and back today to retrieve my book and reading glasses, and it felt more familiar at that end of Webster Groves, while my apartment was a novelty after being away so long.

I realized something while walking home (which end of the street is “home” is unclear at this point).  It’s not so much that I’m particularly an alien here in STL, because I’ve lived so many diverse places for varying lengths of time, and never really felt completely “home” or “settled” in any of them, especially the last one.  I’ve always tried to travel lighter and leave baggage behind, both literally and figuratively.  STL is essentially just the latest stop on the journey toward not taking it with me.  I wouldn’t know where “home” is or what that would feel like.

But I’ve always related to the “stranger in a strange land” concept, which is pretty much anywhere.  I never quite get comfortable or familiar with a place, and I seem to lack the instinct to dig in somewhere and build the illusion of security around me.  I may surround myself with a few meaningful, symbolic objects to express my sense of self or autonomy, which may or may not travel with me as I move on to the next impermanent stop.  On rare occasions, I may have felt briefly “at home” with some significant person in my life, wherever they happened to be, but it was few and far between, not in recent memory.  It was a mental/emotional place, not a physical location to become attached to.

I suppose I’m saying I may never feel any more at home or attached to STL than any other place I’ve been, though it does have its own unique attractions.  The fact that my son lives here at the moment is it’s main and biggest draw, like an irresistible magnet, or gravitational pull, the reason I’m here at all, after having allowed myself to be lost in space for decades.  If he moves again, it’s a foregone conclusion he’ll be stuck with me, if I’m still around!  Even to the ends of the earth, if necessary.  Even, say, Germany.  Stranger things, as they say.

But I draw the line at Mars.  Too alien, cold, and dead for my taste.  Even more sterile and unnatural than some Midwest towns I’ve lived in.  I like my Terran plants and animals, and a few decent humans, around.


In Reverse and Idle

I’m still here, just reverted to my “fixture” role, since J, C, and later last night A returned home.  It appears everyone either enjoyed TG or survived it, respectively.  Before that, I cooked my last meal for K and me, Mexican-style black beans and rice, which he liked, and my drink, appropriately, was tequila and citrus sparkling water with lime.  I also wound down my cleaning spree accordingly, and returned to the basement accommodations.

Now I’m just here as per our new M-W-F schedule, occasionally cracking the metaphorical whip to help keep Avdi focused on his priorities, or performing a minor office job when needed.  In other words, in “idle”, awaiting further usefulness.  I wonder if my apartment is still there, and if my seedlings have terraformed it.  There may even be aliens.  Stay tuned for the next excruciatingly boring episode…


Winding Down

I tried to call my mother today, on her 95th birthday.  On the third try, she picked up.  Silence.  I tried talking to her.  What I got was a loud, eerie howling, several in a row.  That’s it.  That’s what she is reduced to.  Then she hung up.  It was very spooky.  Picture the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.  Existential despair.  The human condition, in your face.  It was unsettling, knowing this is how any of us can end up, unrecognizable as the person we were.

I just want my son and loved ones to know now, while I can still think and speak lucidly, that I will always love them, and somewhere underneath the dreadful disintegration, I’ll still be in there somewhere, knowing they loved me back.  I reiterate that they have permission to shoot me first!

On that cheery note, here are some scenes of the luxury I was privileged to enjoy while my son, granddaughter, and her partner were scattered to the winds, now headed back tonight.  I believe I may have had the best deal of all.  Like a Bed & Boozefest I mean Breakfast!  (I didn’t drink all the booze at once; in fact, contrary to appearances, I barely made a dent.)


First Thanksgiving in STL

My first TG in STL was unique.  Everyone else was scattered about the country, but K. and I got to spend one of our best TGs ever at Jess’s, almost like part of the family.  I helped Jess and Eric with the cooking, while K. played vid games with the sibs.  It was a spectacular, traditional feast, with all the trimmings.  They were kind hosts, and I felt pretty thankful.


Here and there I got my cat fix, not only with Odin and Pixie, but with the neighbor cat known as “Boyfriend”, and was he ever, after I started feeding him turkey scraps.  Then I couldn’t get rid of him!  When he wasn’t climbing up me begging, he was peering in the window, demandingly.  Look at these faces.



and “Boyfriend”:

I felt so bad for my son, exhausted, stressed, with a sick kid on top of it, and no sleep.  I feel like K. and I got the better of the deals, even with the family far away.  All I can do is hold down the fort and think of things I can do for him while he’s away.  I’ve gotten a ton of stuff done here, and barely think of my apartment at all.  K. contentedly keeps himself amused, does his chores without much reminding, and is no trouble at all.

It was a little odd, just the two of us for erev Shabbat tonight, but not bad.  Well, three, if you count Percy the Wig.  I gave K. choices of cuisine for the meal, and he chose Asian stir-fry with noodles, and seemed to really like it.






While my son took care of business before departure, I was able to help him out organizing and cleaning the house. Call me weird, but I thrive on having jobs to do for people, not sitting around taking up space.  I have a whole agenda of stuff to do while everyone’s away.  They keep encouraging me to just chill, but it’s not my style.  I feel like I’ve wasted too much time already.

Still we grabbed a moment at our respective computers in the office, drinking Suntory (Japanese) whisky and eating Greek and Roman pizza. ( Now there’s an interesting mixing of cultures.)   I know my son is stressing over the complexities of the coming week, and I don’t blame him, it’s not an easy situation.  But I know we are both glad I’m finally able to be here and be part of each other’s support system.  Also, I’m a paper-shredding machine!

Now he’s about to take off into the air, and I’m sending him off with hopes for a safe and smooth trip.

It’s getting more challenging by the day to capture nature photos as everything fades and goes dormant, but here are some attempts.




I’m here at Avdi’s, getting ready to housesit (with my grandson) while everyone else departs tomorrow for other states for Thanksgiving.  On TG itself K. and I are invited over to Jess’s family’s house, so we won’t be alone.  Everyone’s just redistributing for the week.

I’m thankful to have family and extended family, wherever they are, and also for not having to go far on the travel day from hell.  I was even offered the use of two different cars while I’m here, and declined, that’s how not interested I am in taking chances with other people’s cars and lives.  Also I’m very out of practice, having been driven by someone for almost a decade, even in my own car.  Don’t ask.

Today, I got to participate in a family house meeting of four of us to discuss household business and scheduling.  I was thankful to be included.  I even took the minutes, and printed out copies.

Earlier, before I got here, I scattered the native seeds I had been saving for this purpose, out back behind my apartment along the drainage ditch, so they can stratify over winter, and hopefully begin to germinate in spring or summer.  It’s part of my evil plan to sneak some natural life into the unnatural environment I find myself in.

Here are some Italian apple cakes I baked for TG.  Also some sap running from a tree at Avdi’s, and a variegated ground cover holding on when almost everything else is dormant.  Including me, pretty soon.



Trains…Carriages, Coaches, Bikes…and Automobiles

I made it to the STL Museum of Transportation, courtesy of Avdi!  The trains, locomotives, classic cars, and other modes of transportation were stunningly gorgeous, despite the extreme cold.  I’m even allowing some selfies of us by Avdi.  Look at your own peril.

Later, I hung out at their house, and we did Shabbat.  J&C outdid themselves as usual on dinner, including this beautiful bread.

Avdi and I affixed my new mezuzah together, with the brachah.  It’s a long time coming, having my own place and mezuzah.

My seedlings are growing like mad.  It may be frigid outside, but nothing stops The Propagatrix.

All Shot Up

This will be a short one.  Yesterday I got my COVID bivalent booster and flu shots, so today I’ve been zombifying.  So far no fangs or claws, just a little under the weather.  Oh, and it “snowed” again, this time almost an inch(!?).  Just a good excuse to read my stack of books, and watch my seedlings come up.  So hedonistic.

The other day, Avdi took K. to get his booster and do some shopping, and I rode along.  Then we ate lunch at the diner down the street from me.  Here’s a weird shot of the ceiling.  As close to a selfie as you’re gonna get.

I’d say this is as boring as watching seeds germinate, except to me that’s fascinating.  Just in the time it took me to type this, more came up.


Heat is On

Well, I broke down and turned the heat on for the winter.  Not much, just barely, to take the edge off.  It’s seriously chilling out.  I just have to adjust my budget accordingly, buy fewer groceries and supplies.  Gifts this season will be a challenge, but I’ll just get creative.

Yesterday I had some new firsts with Avdi.  After my first in-person transaction at my credit union (a generous donation from Jess into savings), and a drop-in at Jess’s to feed (mostly play with) the cats while her family is away, I had my first card-carrying physical visit to the local library, where I introduced Avdi to “my” librarian, Deborah, and stocked up on my long-belated scifi book wishlist.  This should keep me out of trouble for three weeks or more.  I was so excited, I forgot to take photos.

Then he took me to Le Macaron French Pastries in Old Webster for lattés and croissants.  Charming and civilized.  They even have lots of trains here, being a major RR hub!

Back at my apartment, I set up the second shelf of my prop station, sowing all kinds of lettuces and greens, herbs, and wildflowers just for fun.  Hopefully I’ll get to eat salads!

Later, I hung out at Avdi’s house for Havdalah, pizza, beer, and a movie.  We finished watching part one of a silly Bollywood epic fantasy movie series, mostly enjoying making fun of it!

In case no one is wondering, I’m purposely not talking about what I’m really going through, having to do with the mental state of affairs I left behind in Ohio, which continues to stalk me remotely as it were.  To sum up: I’m even more of an evil villain than I already was!  Lots of irrational accusations and guilt-slinging.  Needless to say, it’s pointless to even engage or respond.  Someone that insecure and paranoid will need to work it out without me.  Still, it’s distressing.  ‘Nuff said.  Suffice it to say, each new day I’m in STL, I’m more thankful for my family, friends, and opportunities to grow here.  I’ve killed enough time for a lifetime.