around the bend

June 20, 2007



                                       

Starting Over without my father began a year ago yesterday. Liza’s Starting Over without her mom will be two months tomorrow. Just before we left Tennessee, Liza captured this image. It is impossible to know what is just around the bend.

There were times during my grief that I no longer cared what was around the bend for me. In fact, it frightened me because I knew it could be more loss and pain.

As I try now with some perspective to make some sense of it all, I have begun to understand that it is only the fearless moving ahead, the bold task of acceptance that will heal us.

People say, “Time heals”. It is true. Not because you forget the person, learn to do without them, or will ever forget the gut wrenching pain of their leaving. It is because, with time, I have accepted the fact they are gone. And there is nothing to be done about it. Nothing I can do.

So I put one foot in front of the other, understanding that only the Universe can control what is just around the bend. I can only decide to expect happiness again, to prepare for joy instead of fearing the out-of-my-control.

So today I will prepare for joy. And soon, with a passion for living and with childlike anticipation, I will again be able to embrace whatever is meant for me just around the bend.


Down Town Rehabbing

May 29, 2007


We are rehabbers. My Dad taught us about real estate and helped me buy my first property… a triplex at auction purchased for $13,000. We rehabbed it, rented it, my mom help manage it and we later sold it for $30,000.

Liza’s favorite rehab was an old victorian in a somewhat questionable neighborhood that was our residence for 18 months. That turn-of-the-century, friendly spirit inhabited, cottage netted us enough profit to make our big relocation to Key West where even in the late 80’s it was difficult to find any kind of little cottage in the historic district for less than $100,000. But after 2 years of looking, we found one and purchased it for $95,000. Three thousand of our own money and a second of $17,000 held by the desparate sellers. Within two years we were able to refinance at better rates and pay off the seller. Fifteen years later we sold this property for over 6 times what we paid for it.  Dad, you were right. The harder you work the luckier you get!

Because property had gotten so expensive in Key West, we went on the week-ends to Ft. Lauderdale (where we have dear friends) and purchased another triplex, fixed it up, rented it, and sold it less than 2 years later for a significant profit. I love real estate. 

Now we are back to my hometown. For several years we have been watching our downtown area deteriorate as the mall, strip shopping centers and the suburbs developed. But as many small towns across America, our little town’s city center is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. The wonderful old historic buildings are catching the eye of young investors, the train station is being renovated, local musicians play in open air gathering spots and new shops are opening.

When we decided to come back to East Tennessee (at least part-time), we decided we wanted to be a part of the refurbishing of our downtown. So we purchased the commercial building pictured above. It was built in 1905. Local historians report that it was first utilized as doctors offices.

In the fifties, a group of attorney’s occupied the upper floor while various retail businesses occupied the two small storefronts downstairs. When we first saw the upstairs with the huge skylights, and a room with 60 bookshelves built-in (law library) we knew we had found a new project and home. 

In the eighties, the upstairs was rented by a local radio station. Evidence of this still exists as one bedroom door is labled “studio A, Control room”. We purchased this building last year and have renovated the building with new heating/cooling systems, new wiring, new wood floors, new paint, and new plumbing. We made “studio B, Production” into a roomy and modern kitchen.

We like our downtown loft even with the 25 step walk-up and the parking challenges. We miss a yard and a garage, but are proud of our work and our contribution to preserving something historic and worthy. With the interior almost complete we are now working on the exterior… well, actually, Dave the painter guy is. In Liza’s photo above, Dave is pressure washing in preparation for paint.

Love the idea of taking something old or somewhat forgotten and giving it new life cycle. Our building will be starting over. Starting over as our new home in the city.

Warm wishes.


crash

May 4, 2007



It may not be easy for the owner of this crash to see the beauty in it, but Liza did.

Likewise it is difficult for us humans to understand why bad things happen to good people. Like my (high school senior) nephew’s good bud who landed the double leg fracture in one of the last soccer games of his high school experience. Tough to understand.

Or why babies die.

And old people don’t and sometimes suffer and linger.

And war heros (although I am not pro-war ever… I certainly am pro-hero and don’t understand how they can die with such brave and honorable motives).

How can a pianist loose a finger, or a singer loose her voice. How can an artist loose his sight or surgeon loose his nerve.

It is hard to find gratitude in these things. It makes me feel very human in the not understanding. Very helplessly human.

But Liza gets it. She is not ruling out any possible source for beauty and joy. She knows it is not about asking why, but about just going on anyway. Each time STARTING OVER after the CRASH with greater wisdom in this constant search for joy we call life.


Opening my Eyes

April 7, 2007



Liza finds machinery interesting. Today she found this image at a local construction site.

A.D.D. (see First Exposure), Liza is helping me see again. Helping me to want to see again. She is helping me open my eyes once more to the striking beauty of the most mundane things.  She brings home the images and challenges me to find the art.  I love this little creative game we play.


Gotham Writer’s Workshop????

April 4, 2007

In my new effort to improve my non-fiction writing chops, I am considering participating in an  writer’s group at Gotham Writer’s Workshop (NYC of course).  Have any of you experience with this organization? 

Their credentials seem in order.  I would prefer a writer’s group in person, but none are available nearby. 

A.D.D., I seem to be in need of structure and accountability. Perhaps a writer’s group would be the encouragement I need.

Kindred Spirit in Key West offered a writing course that I took a few years ago.  In one class exercise, Instructor Shelley had us write on writing.

“Writing for me is basically an involuntary reaction like throwing up, belching, or sneezing when I get black pepper up my nose.  I haven’t much choice.  I write so I can go on.”

“I remember after Hurricane Georges numbly shuffling through the days of clean-up: the heat, the muck, the worry. I even saw a man die. Run over on his bicycle by one of those monster debris removal trucks. There the stranger lay on the pavement: helmet removed, a single trickle of blood making a puddle near his dark, curly hair. The huge truck’s driver sitting on the curb with his head resting in open hands.”

“Somewhere into the second week after the hurricane, the storm raged on in my mind. I felt so heavy with the collective trauma. I needed to catalog all the impressions and feelings. To put them somewhere safe for keeping. I unloaded my weight onto the page. There. I could move on!”

My journals are filled with the births, deaths, and all varieties of change and drama. “I write when I feel. When I feel so strongly that I can not help myself, I write. I need the release. Writing makes me feel light and unburdened.  It allows me to go on.”

Shelley gave me permission to write not only when necessary, but just because I could. “I write in my notebook filled with loose leaf paper.  I also write on the white paper napkins while I drink White Russian milkshakes at Louis Backyard Bar. I also write on the back of K-mart receipts or a small notepad with “First State Bank… your hometown bank” printed in neat aqua letters across the top of each sheet.”

“But I am not a writer. Writer’s get paid and are interviewed by Matt or Al on morning TV. Writers get published. Writer’s get read.”

Thanks to blogging, I now have a forum for writing not just because I have to, but because Shelley said I can.

Warm wishes until next time. anitamorrell.wordpress.com


urbanmoon

April 2, 2007


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Our small town is enjoying a rebirth, having “bottomed out” as have so many downtowns across our nation. It is starting a new life with the renovations of historically significant buildings, new shops and loft conversions.

We wanted to be a part of this restoration so we purchased a two story brick building on a side street only a few storefronts from the main street of town. Two storefronts downstairs and a roomy upstairs city home made for the perfect arrangement for us. For now.

Last night Liza was prawling around the neighborhood when she noticed this urban moon peaking between two city buildings. Oh Liza!

Tennessee moonshine!!!


Daddy’s Girl without a Dad

March 19, 2007

It has been nine months today since my dad died. It’s still hard to type the words.

I do sleep through the nights now. And my appetite has returned (darn).  I don’t hold my breath all the time now. And my IBS seems better. But the estate is not settled. The grave marker design has gotten botched and has to be redone (another wait).  The paperwork seems unending.

The things he left for us… I don’t know how to enjoy. Don’t know how I will ever feel that they are mine and not a burden to be cared for as I know he would have. 

I can speak of him now without total sadness. I do remember his faults along with his strengths. But how do you replace your biggest advocate?

I am trying to “give it time” and “it’ll get better”… and some days it is. But some days, it is not.

I have so much I want to do to honor him… but I still seem somewhat paralyzed at the same time.  I want to write about him and have in my personal journals (Daddy’s Girl without a Dad)… but his accomplishments merit something more long lasting. hmmm.

So many questions and without the one I would usually ask for advice.  Knowing tomorrow will be better.  Warm wishes to each of you.

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