Tag Archives: relocation

Cassatt, Norton, Bacon

We’re missing three books.

are you in there?

Must have been lost in the move. Incorrectly packed with garden tools, baby toys, Christmas decorations. Shoved into obscurity in the basement or garage. Jumbled mess of relocation.

The coffee table book we bought in Chicago in 1999 was the one that tipped me off. Oversized tome documenting Mary Cassatt’s work. We’d seen her paintings at The Art Institute’s special exhibit that year.

We carried Cassatt home. Held her on the city bus and the elevator up 35 stories to our apartment of blinding white walls. Lugged her to St. Louis. Cordoned her off from the ordinary books. Separated from the pack. And now she is missing.

I hope Norton is with her. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry is fat and stout. Ten-pound bag of sugar. Required reading for a circle of writers, hopeful and green. Emblazoned with red and orange that year, I can still see it.

Long before I had a dog of my own, Norton tagged along, shadowing me. Begging to be played with and petted and fed. I’d scratch his ears, brush his coat, and watch dreams fall out in the shedding. He slept in a basket beside my bed, cushioned with transient catalogs and nonfiction. I hope Norton’s with Cassatt.

And I hope they’ve found Seduced by Bacon. The youngest of the three, this gift from a business colleague. We displayed Bacon in our kitchen. The kitchen we’d demolished. Filled with rubble, chaos, and 90-year-old dust. Rebuilt with fresh dry wall and slate, marble and ceramic subway tiles, wood and stainless steel, and blue paint named Amelia that wasn’t quite green or gray.

Bacon came to us as we hawked the kitchen and its house. No room for another book on such carefully staged, ready-to-show shelves. So Bacon stayed in the kitchen where it belonged. Guests chuckled at its name. A cookbook attesting the truth. “Seduced by Bacon,” they’d say. “Now that’s my problem.”

These three are lost. My heart sinks and drowns, buoyed by weak hope. They’ll turn up. We’ll find them again. Normalcy will come on a day unexpected. On a Monday or Thursday, a day of no consequence, I’ll open a box labeled dish towels and there they will be. Smiling, recovered, taking full breaths of air. They’ll ask me what happened. Where are we now? What took me so long to find them?

And I will answer I don’t know. Today I don’t know.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4 NIV

Norton found

The Lost Get Found, Britt Nicole.


Between the time of writing and publishing this post, I found The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry in a box in the basement. Norton now resides behind the glass doors of a bookshelf in my office where I can keep an eye on him as I work. Cassatt and Bacon are still missing.

Have you ever lost a beloved book or other item? Did you find it again? What was that like, the losing or the finding?


Filed under life, writing & reading


on the Kennedy

The state of North Carolina may have been the first to grant me a license, but I learned to drive in Chicago.

There you better get up and go or you’re going to be run over. They drive at breakneck speeds. Play chicken turning left at intersections. Dodge thousands of pedestrians and maniacal taxis.

Had to take it down a notch when we moved to St. Louis. Some folks there drive fast, only that’s not the real issue. The daredevil maneuver of drivers in the Lou is gunning it through red lights.

See yellow? In St. Louis, that means speed up. Like a bull rushing the matador in anticipation of red.

For the most part, Wichita drivers are safe drivers. They seem to take it easy. Five or ten miles below the speed limit easy.

A new friend I’ve made here is another big city transplant. Like me, she’s adjusting to the Wichita crawl. Her explanation for the slow driving is that it only takes 15 minutes to get anywhere in Wichita, so why hurry?

One morning I pulled out of the carpool line to see my friend’s SUV a few cars up on the road. The light turned green and we bolted through.

My Chicagoan stirred. “C’mon. You can take her!”

20 mph

Chrissie Hynde belted out Middle of the Road on Sirius XM 80s on 8. I knew my friend was listening to the same station in her starship. We built this city on rock and roll.

“Let’s see what you got,” I said under my breath. Me and Cranberry Mary versus her and Silver Fox.

We zoomed around the curve at Hawker Beechcraft. Ducked into the tunnel beside the airfield and whoosh! Out like rockets.

Cruised the four-lane drag down Central. Into the great, wide open. Cranberry and Silver, streaks across suburbia.

It all came to an end when I turned off north toward my house. “Until next time, Silver Fox,” I said as she disappeared into a cloud of cosmic dust.


Two corporate wives. Multiple relocations. Baptized in the guerrilla warfare of city driving in concrete jungles. Set free to roam in slick SUVs on flat stretches of Kansas highway. Wind them up and watch them go.

Truth be told, we were probably clocking 45 in a 40 tops. With everyone else driving 30, we may as well been flying supersonic jets.

We weren’t behaving recklessly or irresponsibly. We were coming home from carpool for goodness sakes.

And we weren’t knowingly racing either. At least she wasn’t.

My days are swifter than a runner;
they flee away; they see no good. Job 9:25 ESV

Fasten your seat belts and coast on into the weekend with J.J. Fad and SupersonicThe S is for super and the U is for unique!


Filed under humor


This is a letter my dearest in the world friend gave me the last time I saw her. Four weeks ago, December 18, 2011.


There it sits. Pristine. Unopened.

I couldn’t open it the last evening we were together with our families in St. Louis because I would cry. We both knew it would be a long time before we’d see each other again. So I saved the letter to open it later.

“We’ve been here almost a month, and you’re handling this move really well,” said my husband last week. “You’re not crying.”

No, I’m adopting the Midwestern attitude. Putting my head down to forge a life on the prairie. Onward and upward. Just. Work. Harder.

If I open that letter, I’ll disintegrate.

I’ll cry big tears when I think of all that’s been lost. At the same time, in front of me stands so much that’s been gained. The gains hold the tears at bay in a bittersweet tension.

Before we moved, parents from our son’s class at school had a going away party for us. My son asked why they were having it.

“Is it a birthday party?” said my seven-year-old.

His friend, whose family was hosting the event, was with us that day. “No,” he said. “It’s a you’re-going-away-forever party.”

Female Orpheus Fountain Figure by Carl Milles as seen at Missouri Botanical Garden

I intervened. “We’re not dying. We’re only moving.”

But moving is a sort of dying. All changes are. A beloved Bible teacher of my past used to say we first experience change as loss.

We held it together, as did most of our friends, through our goodbyes. Then there was that moment the day I rushed to the groomer’s to pick up the dog.

We wanted to have Ella groomed one last time before we moved. As I paid the sweet shop owner, told her goodbye and thank you for all her years of service to us, she began to sob.

“We’re really going to miss you and Ella,” she said.

Fear shot through the muscles in my face. Confusion billowed up in my brain. Not the groomer. She just couldn’t lose it. No, no, no.

“There’s something about those terriers,” she said and boohooed some more.

“We’ll miss you too,” I said helplessly. “I don’t know how we’ll ever replace you.”

And we won’t. We’ll find another groomer. We’ll find another salon, dry cleaner, church, and circle of friends.

moving truck

Another, but not a replacement.

That’s what I tell myself to keep from opening that letter. At least for now.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 NLT

Me, I’m a part of your Circle of friends. By Edie Brickell.


Filed under family & friends, life

Finding Il Vicino

il vicino clayton closed due to fire

Il Vicino was one of our favorite restaurants in St. Louis. But Il Vicino had a series of unfortunate incidents.

First, a wayward car plowed through the outdoor dining area and right into the restaurant. Not good.

A couple years later, Il Vicino had a fire and closed indefinitely. Not good at all.

I’ve eaten hundreds of meals at Il Vicino. When it was just my husband and me. When we were expecting our baby.

When we celebrated our baby’s first birthday with friends. When we were without a kitchen for six months during the big house remodel.

Have our order memorized. Two house salads with gorgonzola, a Da Vinci pizza, a children’s penne pasta with marinara on the side, a regular Coke not diet, an iced tea and a lemonade. For here or to go. Always the same.

As the months dragged on after the fire and the restaurant didn’t reopen, I knew I’d never eat at Il Vicino again. There were other locations, but not in St. Louis.

It was sad, but survivable. We moved on to other pizza places.

Dewey’s opened a location in University City. Pi opened in the Loop. And there was always good old Papa John’s or Domino’s.

St. Louis folks will notice Imo’s missing from our list. In our nearly 13 years here, we never did acquire a taste for St. Louis style pizza so many of you love.

Anyway, we moved on. Same way we did when we left Sir Pizza in High Point, North Carolina, and Giordano’s in Chicago.

il vicino wichita

Then we found out we’d be moving on literally. Our relocation to Wichita was imminent. We journeyed west for a visit.

You’ll never guess where we ate pizza in Wichita.

That’s right. Il Vicino. They have two locations there. The only two in the state of Kansas.

MapQuest revealed Il Vicino is less than five miles from our new house.

Memories flood me in these final days as a resident of St. Louis. I visit the places we’ve frequented and drive the roads we’ve traveled for more than a decade. They’ve become sacred in a way.

It’s the memories and the people that make them so. It’s the life that was lived there. Like our bodies, these places are dust but for the lives that were lived there. The living gives them meaning.

Translated, the Italian il vicino means the nearby.

leaving university city

Wichita, St. Louis, Chicago, North Carolina—they’re not so far apart. I hold them in the nearby. In my memory, my heart. I will add to them as long as I am alive.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8 NIV

Emmanuel. God with us. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by The Franz Family.


Filed under life

Connecting the Dots of Thankfulness

new roofline

I’ve noticed a lot of posts about thankfulness this month. Apropos with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away.

Today I’m thankful for June. For a house that sold after two excruciating years on a dismal market.

That saga nearly killed us. I’m thankful that by Grace it didn’t. May we remember the hard lessons learned.

I’m thankful for June when we left town on a road trip across these beautiful United States.

For our precious realtor and friend who handled the unexpected sale of our house and quickly secured another place for us to rent. I’m thankful for the blessing of a wise advisor.

running the yard in Kansas

June was only the beginning. It was then we first learned my husband’s employer was being acquired. I’m thankful for his job with the new company.

A new job in a new city. Where just last week, another savvy realtor helped us find another house in a mere 48 hours. One that wasn’t even on the market yet.

I’m thankful for Papa Bear who graciously gave up acreage to preserve unity with Momma Bear. May Papa Bear find joy in the negotiated concession of a healthy landscape budget.

May he go forth shopping trees, shrubs, and all good things that grow in the ground.

May our backyard be filled with the Cub’s small practice field and a slice of botanical garden, both sweeter than honeysuckle vine.

Wichita open floor plan

I’m thankful for nearly move-in ready.

Besides the minor detail of totally uprooting our lives, all that’s left is picking paint colors. A job I’m thankful to add to my to-dos.

Only been in the house three times. Less than an hour cumulatively. By Faith I traverse the waters of Sherwin-Williams.

We move in five weeks. Not a schedule for the faint of heart. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

Not to worry. I’m thankful God’s strength is perfect. As is His timing.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful… Hebrews 12:28 NIV

God is still God and He holds it together. 

What are  you thankful for today?
I’d be so thankful if you would share.

July 4, 2011, Cabool, MO

Happy Veterans Day!

Today I’m also thankful for the brave men and women who’ve served in the United States military. Thank you Dad, Uncle Jon, Uncle Bill, Michael B., Joe G., Jeremy N., Cordel H., Eric B., Jeff W., Uncle O., John M., Jeff S., and the many more too numerous to name here. Freedom is not free.


Filed under faith

The Three Bears Go House Hunting

public domain image

As we make plans to relocate to Wichita, my husband’s employer is sending us on a house-hunting trip. Momma Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear have different priorities for this excursion.

“Mom,” said the Cub, “we need lots of space.”

“What do you plan to do with lots of space?” I said.

“We need lots of space so we can have a soccer field,” he said. “Or a long-distance swimming pool.”

Papa Bear is also concerned about outdoor space. Give him room, lots of room. Don’t fence him in.

He grew up on a farm. You know what they say. You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.

Problem is, Papa Bear already has a job and farming is not it. Nor is landscape gardening. Nor lawn mowing.

Hobby, yes. Phenomenal green thumb, that man. But full-time work? And don’t think for a minute Momma Bear is interested in taking the reigns of a Deere.

Search criteria for Papa Bear consists of lot size, proximity to the neighbors, and what backs up to the property. Heaven forbid we back up to another house.

cubs sculpture, as seen at the National Zoo

“Here’s one,” he said as we perused real estate sites, “and we wouldn’t have to worry about anyone building behind us.”

“Why’s that?” I said.

“See this big field behind the property on the map?” he said. “It’s a cemetery.”

Momma Bear looked up to see if he was serious. He was. Dead serious. She huffed a low growl under her breath.

“What else have you found?” she said.

Papa Bear cracked a smile. “So living next to a cemetery is out of the question?”

“Completely.” Grrr.

Momma Bear’s main concerns are for the innards of the house. She would like an open floor plan so everyone can be together. She would like the heat to work in the winter and the air conditioner to work in the summer.

Enough room so every bear has his space, but not too much that she can’t clean up in a jiffy. A yard bigger than a postage stamp, but smaller than a park.

bear chair detail, as seen at the National Zoo

Our relocation agent has her work cut out looking for our just right.

One tidy, cozy, move-in-ready, little house on the prairie with a soccer field for a yard that doesn’t back up to another house or a cemetery.

Hibernating would be simpler. Any empty caves available in Sedgwick County?

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:13 NIV

We can work it out.


Filed under family & friends, humor

Westward Expansion

October 6, 2011

Uncertainty is no place to call home. Relocation is no picnic either.

As many of you have guessed, we’re moving this show to Wichita.

The man and his wife. The boy and the dog. The MacBook Pro (God rest your soul, Steve Jobs) and the blog.

There’s relief in making a decision. There’s also apprehension, excitement, hope and loss.

Responses have rolled in from across the blogosphere.

Here’s the Diehl is wondering what’s the deal through tears. Mine and hers. With strains of Green Acres playing in the background.

The would-be stand up comedian asked if I know Kansas is not in North Carolina.

A lifelong friend assured me she always wants the best for me. How comforting, humbling and cool is that? Makes me want to break out in Count Your Blessings. Then cry some more.

Another lifelong friend wrote the most amazing sunset she’d ever seen was in Kansas. Suggested My Antonia by Willa Cather. Done.

arch base

Ms. Moderation dubbed me Carolina Cowgirl, a title I adore. If the blogging thing doesn’t work out, there’s always rodeo. Or clogging.

Pinke Post wasted no time doing what she does so well. Connecting me with her people on the ground in Wichita. The woman is a rock star.

And Cuisine For All sent sage advice. Don’t worry. Take time to absorb the changes. You’ll be fine, she wrote. She’s ventured far from her homeland. She should know.

Traveling With the Jones has logged enough miles to know too. Told me to embrace change. Enjoy the ride. And just think of all the new material for posts!

My faithful friend who shall remain anonymous assured me Cowtown is not in Kansas because it’s in Texas.

And a fellow Southerner in exile in the Midwest told me you can raise a southern gentleman in Kansas. “It’s about values,” she said. “The expectations we have for and of them, saying ma’am and sir and being able to shuck an oyster.”

There are many other words of treasured wisdom, prayer and encouragement. Read more on Tuesday’s post. Add your own if you like.

under the arch

One more here, in the gentle eloquence of Via Peregrini:

Our souls are quite particular in where they find their homes. Yet, sometimes, they find in the new, the unexpected, something for which they’ve longed and you’ll discover that you can’t imagine life without that place, for that time.

Our years in St. Louis have taught us the history of westward expansion. Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Lewis and Clark pushing across North America in the spirit of discovery.

Those who followed their path west were filled with dreams. Pioneers, farmers, soldiers, cowboys, gold miners, gangsters, hippies, writers, artists, entertainers. None of them had the luxury—the blessing—of toting a virtual community along. None until this latest crop.

We’re headed west. I hope you’ll join us for the adventure.

Send me Your light and Your faithful care,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to Your holy mountain,
to the place where You dwell. Psalm 43:3 NIV

In a big country, dreams stay with you

pink hydrangea

I hate cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our masthead dons pink to show support.

Honor survivors, those battling the disease, and those who’ve lost loved ones in the fight. Pray to end this and all cancers.

Thank you to And Cuisine For All for the idea.

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Filed under America, faith, life