About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

The Old Neighborhood

This year marks our tenth year on the farm. Mike has settled into a life of semi-seclusion quite comfortably, but I often get yearnings to see the duplex in north Minneapolis where we lived for 11 years. The sprawling gray stucco structure was built in 1914. It had a coal chute in the basement, a tilt-open kitchen cupboard for storing unbagged flour, and a nonexistent front hall closet. Our tiny garden in the tiny backyard produced more tomatoes than we’ve seen some years in sandy-soiled northern Pine County.

When we bought the duplex the trim was a bland Scandinavian blue. We jazzed it up a bit by repainting it electric blue, a color that would have overpowered a smaller house. But the old girl held her own.
Good and bad happened in the old neighborhood. What I savored were the simple neighborhood interactions, a passerby saying “I like that color” as we painted or “I like those lights” as we strung lights at Christmas. I imagine more people knew their neighbors in 1914 than they do today.
We moved in 2000 for a number of reasons. Mike drove past the duplex in 2008, when foreclosures in north Minneapolis had skyrocketed. The front door was boarded up, the
front gate missing, the backyard littered with garbage. When I drove past a couple of weeks ago, the duplex looked much tidier. The ivy was cleared from the walls, and the trim was repainted again, this time maroon. All signs pointed to an industrious, prosperous family inside.
I felt heartened, then felt guilty for feeling heartened.
When Mike and I moved it was our choice. It wasn’t a choice for the family, and possibly two, who followed us. Families don’t disappear when houses are foreclosed. This photo essay by Craig Stellmacher illustrates that idea powerfully.
Somewhere, in a new neighborhood, in a house trimmed in a color they love, I hope a family is living and thriving.  

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