Peaceful, innit? No crowds, no talking heads, no consternation, no judgement of any kind. A simple winter walk with Black Dog on a beach all to ourselves. A ten minute drive from home. I don’t think I’ll ever become jaded to it. It hasn’t happened in over thirty years, likely it never will.
We were in northwest Washington for a spell (not Seattle), looking for a home we may want to buy, somewhere else to live our lives for a while. It’s truly shocking what money won’t buy. We don’t have big asks. A modern, well-appointed kitchen (needn’t be a Chef’s kitchen), a private office for me (french doors would be nice), a spacious
master primary bedroom with a spa-like shower in the en-suite (we’re spoiled in our current home), one or two spare bedrooms, a cozy living room, and a modest-sized fenced backyard. Prefer a one-story, but two would work. A view would be nice, so long as it’s not of a neighbor’s property awaiting condemnation by the municipality. We visited a property with such a view, in a walk-able neighborhood, one possibly undergoing a slow gentrification (emphasis slow). You know what I’m talking about. With nearby coffee houses that brew with sustainably sourced beans, boutique grocers who feature locally grown produce, pocket parks and ball fields, streets lined with old growth fruit trees, little free libraries, the whole community-vibe thing. What’s not to like? For one, the house. It was an old, long and narrow home, recently re-modeled (flipped) with slightly better than builder-grade finishes, uninspired gray and white accents everywhere, a usable but small kitchen, and a meh primary bedroom and bath, neither of which anyone would call spacious. The entire house couldn’t of been more than 1400 square feet. It backed to an alley where you’d expect a garage if there was one (there wasn’t). A fenced side yard with a postage stamp-sized lawn. And then there was that eye-sore next door. The front and back yards were piled high with crap and scrap that appeared to have accumulated since the Civil war. Why were we looking at starter homes? We weren’t. That’s what $700K buys you in an “up-and-coming” neighborhood. I needed help lifting my jaw off the floor. We piled back into our agent’s Audi and got the hell out of there. As we sped away he said he just wanted to show us that place because we’d told him we may be interested in a craftsman-style home with character in an established community.
After a few days in Washington we flew to Milwaukee, my hometown. HW and I splurged on dinner at Eddie Martini’s, an old-school supper club about four miles from the apartments (since torn down) where Dahmer committed his heinous murders . A quick reminder of our visit to Eddies last year was all that was needed to pique the memory of our server – “Oh, that’s right, I remember, yous guys are from Alaska.” As is our wont we ate at the bar. A linen cloth was laid, appetizers were ordered and promptly served, wine decanted. To a one the staff here are smartly dressed, impeccable in manner, always nearby at the ready to fulfill the diners’ needs. We shared an entree of Australian lamb chops with Pappardelle, portabella & shitake mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, and cognac dipping sauce. Delicious all. Eddie’s is run like a tight ship but without a hint of snobbery. The staff are eager to engage in spirited banter if prompted, which I am wont to do (sometimes to HW’s chagrin).
The following day we drove north to the Fox River valley area to visit family and friends. There must be thousands of billboards along highway 41 alone, in both directions. I don’t think there’s a single one along any roadway in Alaska. Granted, we have many fewer highways here, and most of the land adjoining the few roads we have isn’t owned by farmers, like it is in Wisconsin, where I presume farmers receive revenue from advertisers who are permitted to erect billboards in their fields? Some of the billboards were adverts to come visit the state of Michigan, where recreational pot is legal. One such billboard sported a photo of a Westie, apparently stoned, wearing a conical party hat with a chin strap. The message seemed to be: Lighten up drivers, come to Michigan, twist one up with us and party on – legally! Can’t say for sure if that was the precise message, we sped by that one so fast I didn’t grok it all. Other billboards featured preachy slogans, devout reminders to joyfully obey God’s law, interspersed with still others that advertised porn shops – take the next exit! Amusing, but puzzling at the same time. I mean, paying a farmer to erect a billboard to drive revenue to the Michigan dope industry, or to a mom-and-pop porn shop, I get. But merely for the sake of religious pandering? Where’s the money in that? Evidently, not every voter in Wisconsin is so amused
In Appleton, most everyone we visited with seemed to be doing well. Our niece and her husband threw a Packer party at their house. The Packers lost, and nobody seemed to mind much, or expect otherwise. The taco bar was excellent. Each morning I either drove or walked to a local coffee house for espresso drinks for myself and HW, about two miles round-trip from my parent’s house. I snapped this photo on one of my morning walks there. This is what $700K buys you in central Wisconsin
Better yet, instead of rubbish next door, you get a view of a pond and the community vibe of migratory geese.
Alas, we are back home now, safe and sound, grateful for family and friends, sure, but at the same time there’s no place like home. Will home change for us soon? To early to say for sure. There’s a lot of economic commotion in the world right now. Not that we ever expect it to disappear entirely, because it won’t, but mainly because more or less we are happy and content with our lives du jour right where we are. Live in the moment, be present, and don’t forget to curb your dog