The Turnover

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Growth/Sales / Mostly Musings / Neighbors

Tomorrow will be a red-letter day here at Maples at the Sonatas. Actually, make that a red-box day, according to my calendar. But however you highlight it, the day will be significant.




Tomorrow is Turnover Day, the moment when our community takes its next step toward completion. At a meeting tomorrow, our builder, Jamie Wilcox, will officially turn over the homeowners association to us, the homeowners.

As is customary with construction, the builder remains in charge of the HOA until the community is approximately 75 percent built out. We have reached that point, and now some of the responsibility shifts from the builder to the homeowners.

The first step in our new independence will be meeting tomorrow to elect five people to serve on our first Board of Directors. The board will assume responsibility for overseeing our finances, making and enforcing community rules, maintaining our property, and more. But they will not have free rein. The community will still be bound by our declaration, which, if you are unfamiliar with the term, is similar to a constitution.

So, yes, tomorrow will be a landmark day. But no one should expect to wake up Tuesday and find a whole different Maples. If it snows (highly unlikely this winter), our streets, driveways, and sidewalks will still be plowed. Other services overseen by our property management company will continue uninterrupted. We will still pay association dues. Our social activities will go on as usual. Wilcox will continue building and selling homes until the community is finished.


I guess this is a time to celebrate, but, honestly, I don’t much feel like it. What I do feel is….

Nostalgic. I keep replaying six and a half years of memories and get…

Nostalgic. I remember how there were only 25 or so of us when I moved here. And now we have grown to 125 residents. But I remember those we lost through death and those who, for various reasons, moved to other cities or states. And I miss them and I’m…

Nostalgic. I remember how, at the time I signed my contract, I believed there was only one thing that kept the Maples from being perfect. I would miss the property management company and our rep, Suzanne, from my former community. And then, at my first meeting here, before I even closed, Jamie announced that he had hired that same company to manage here. And it was great, except soon Suzanne retired, and I missed her and felt…

Nostalgic. And then, because of my past experience on a board and with the management company, Jamie asked me to be Resident Trustee for the Maples. And then I asked him if we could form an advisory committee so it wouldn’t be just me. And it was fun for quite a while, but then I burned out and stepped down. But looking back, I get…

Nostalgic. And I have about 50 more examples, but I am going to spare you from any more of my ramblings. I’ll go to the meeting tomorrow, and I’ll appreciate it for the milestone that it is, and I’ll smile, but inside I’ll be wondering why life can’t ever stay the same. Yes, I’ll be…









A Postcard from the Beach

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Mostly Musings / Nature

 Orange Beach, Alabama

 “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea–whether it is to sail it or watch it–we go back from whence we came.”    John F. Kennedy

There is a magic in the ocean that draws me to it, as if my DNA remembers that all life began in the sea. It holds the power to reset mind and body and spirit. I may stay here forever.


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Mostly Musings

There are many ways to remember loved ones. And even more ways to miss them when they are gone.

A light scent of a familiar perfume, so subtle you may have only imagined it. The brush of a nubby tweed jacket across a bare arm. Sadly sweet notes of a nearly forgotten love song. A booming laugh. A whispered shhh that tickles in your ear.

But sometimes the heart longs for something more tangible. An artifact, if you will. Not only a symbol, but an object that you can hold and touch. Something that your loved one held and touched too.


When we lost Dad 21 years ago, my sister-in-law created the perfect artifact. She took the jacket and vest from his best suit and decorated them with feminine touches. The next Christmas she gave one to Mom and the other to me. What could be more perfect than a wearable artifact? Both now hang in my closet since I have also lost Mom. Because she frequently wore the vest, it has increased value for me.



Mom was a saver. She left behind treasured family heirlooms, old jewelry, seven scrapbooks, baby books for each child, a diary from her courtship and early marriage, hand-stitched quilts, Christmas decorations, and much more.

Try as she might, Mom never was able to keep all of her photos organized. She packed a whole lot of living into her 96 years—and most of it was documented with snapshots. They stuff large envelopes and spill by the handsful from boxes.



And, of course, Mom left me her cat Shadow, a living, breathing, purring artifact. The photo above would have been stronger if it had been Shadow looking at the photos. But she is sleeping in the sun this afternoon, so Angie checked out the pictures.

Mom was not really a fan of cooking, but she did her share as a farm wife and mother. She and Dad each had a recipe box. Mom’s was this old wooden one with the cover dangling from a broken hinge.


I love these old recipes, largely because they are hand written, providing another connection with the person. The recipes are not just Mom’s but also from my dad, his aunt, my grandmother, and family friends. I was pleased that I could recognize the handwriting of quite a few people without having to see their names.

Looking through the recipes has inspired me to take on another memory project. I want to make some of the dishes on these tattered old cards. What fun to reminisce while cooking and eating some of my long-forgotten favorite foods.


Orchids Are Calling Me

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Nature / Pictures

Are you as ready for a break from winter as I am?

Is the lack of sunshine getting you down?

Does your world look like something like mine—gray, dark, and dismal—day after day after day?

Then let me make a suggestion.

You may want to head to Rockford to visit Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens’ orchid exhibit. “In Full Bloom: The Orchid Exhibit” opens today and runs through March 7. It is well worth the hour’s drive (from Woodstock).


It was this time last year that I discovered the conservatory, which is located on the banks of the Rock River. It features an 11,000-square-foot tropical plant exhibition area. In addition to thousands of plants, it includes water features, sculptures, and secluded seating areas.

When I walked in, I forgot it was winter in Illinois. It was as if I had been swept away on vacation, surrounded by soft spring air and light and nature’s beauty. Only when I looked out a window did I remember it was January in Illinois.


Everywhere you look, there are orchids, orchids, orchids. It’s a photographer’s paradise; anywhere you point the camera is a picture waiting to be taken. Here are some of mine from last year:

If you would like more information about Nicholas, including hours, prices, and directions, visit their website here.

And if you decide to go spend some time with the orchids, maybe I’ll see you there. Look for me in one of the cozy seating areas nestled among the blooms.


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Animals / Pictures


Shadow is a seeker of light and of heat. During the daytime, I often find her napping in a pool of sunlight on a bed or a rug. On cold winter nights, she will sit quietly in front of the dark fireplace, waiting for me to turn it on. She understands what it means when I walk over and flip the switch.

The word ambience is not in her small cat vocabulary. She doesn’t know or care that ambience means the atmosphere of one’s surrounding environment. All she cares about is the intensity of the flames. There is no such thing as too hot or too bright. Sometimes she will stand on her hind legs and stretch her body up against the screen to get as close as possible.

I sniff the air, hoping not to find the smell of singeing whiskers, and I don’t. I push my chair closer to the fireplace, joining her in that atmosphere of peace and comfort. She purrs… and I wish I could too.

via Photo Challenge: Ambience