Pat posted on May 8, 2011 22:10

Peony garden, memorial to Geneva Patterson Feb. 13 was the date of my last entry here: what a lot has happened.  My mother turned 95.  I went to a John Burroughs (St. Louis - actually Ladue, MO - high school) gathering in Washington, DC.  A few days after I came back, took Mom to the doctor and she was hospitalized for pneumonia, and we learned she'd had a heart attack as well.  Spent a week in hospital with her, then home with hospice care, and on March 19, after what finally were peaceful days together, she slipped away quietly in her sleep.  So today, Mothers' Day, was a tough day for Dad and me.  We've been going to church regularly since Mom died (did not go before, not wanting to leave her) but both of us felt that that would be too hard today.  Dad slept most all day but enjoyed quiche for dinner with me.

We had a memorial service for Mom right here, a month after her death, when my brother was able to be here.  Wanted to have it here in her environment, to let people see her beautiful artwork that fills the walls.  We put up photo boards showing happy times throughout her life.  And guests saw the peony garden which I'd planted with Mom in mind, and which has been dressed up now as a memorial garden.  Photos of the memorial gathering are on my Facebook page:

So there has been a lot to deal with in these last few months.  I've been getting to spring garden cleanup a bit late.  There is always some comfort in the renewal of life that spring brings, but I'm sad not to be able to bring all the beautiful flowers in to Mom any more.  I did take Mothers' Day peony bouquets to neighbors who kindly mow my roadside strips of land.  Sharing flowers is always a pleasure.

Gardening can be both therapeutic and exhausting, so I'm putting in some long days outside.  I got the indoor painting / touch ups done in time for the BBAV inspection in early April, but still have some exterior work to do.  The gardens are so eye-catching, the rest doesn't seem very worrying.

Guest bookings are picking up now, it looks like the rest of spring and early summer will be full and lively here, and that's a happy situation.  I'll get back to normal posting soon and talk about some of the other developments here and local events.  For now, I sign off, hoping friends far and wide have been able to enjoy good things this Mothers' Day.

Pat posted on November 2, 2010 22:30

Pat with friends Jay and Art at the Breeders' Cup races, Santa Anita, California, 2009 This Friday starting at 4 pm Eastern time, the Breeders' Cup races begin. Races restricted to fillies and mares are slated for Friday, and the rest will be held Saturday starting 1 pm. If you're here, you'll find us all in front of the big plasma screen in the living room, watching, handicapping, and phoning in our bets. The rest of the county may be focused on the Oyster Festival, and we're certainly mindful of it: Oyster Festival Friday and Saturday, we offer salad and cake all evening, to balance out the festival food for our guests; but for this household, thoroughbreds rule. Like-minded guests are most welcome!

Pat posted on January 14, 2010 23:35
Conway at Don and G's in Vero Beach, toasting with Don's bourbon old-fashioned

Have not been making time for blogging, but the need to express some sort of tribute to a dear friend has brought me back here. Today, Conway Kuhlmann passed away at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, FL. A very big loss.

Conway grew up in Washington, MO, and got to know my folks in the second half of the 1930s when he was working at a drugstore in St. Louis, MO. Mom and Dad - not yet dating - and a group of other youngsters at Giddings-Boyle Presbyterian Church would put out the weekly church bulletin and then go out for ice cream: at the drugstore around the corner where Conway worked. That's how he met his future wife, Betty Huff, and how he got involved with the group from Giddings-Boyle. He said the church group would relax there, laughing and joking, with maybe a racy tale (I cannot imagine that church-going group telling stories that anyone would bat an eyelid at today ...) and there would be this one cute blonde always saying, "I don't get it!" - and that was the girl he fell for.

Betty was in school with my mother's little sister, Freda, who would go off to Italy to pursue an opera career a decade later, after the war. So gradually Betty and Conway and my parents bonded as friends, and the friendship stayed strong all their lives. They took occasional vacations together, they visited each others' homes, like friends do. I remember staying with Betty and Conway in North Bellport, Long Island, the night before my folks and I sailed to Europe on the S.S. France in 1964. I vaguely remember an earlier visit to them in Indianapolis, and remember their family visiting ours at our lake house in Osage Beach, MO. Eventually Conway took early retirement from Eli Lilly, and he and Betty moved to Eleuthera where they lived the adventure of finishing a partly-built house, living without indoor plumbing for some time, catching their own dinner - or diving for it; taking their boat to go shopping on the next island; living it up on their private bay. I never went there, but my folks visited many times. I saw the beautiful shell frames and mirrors and other items Betty made so painstakingly, and saw the watercolors my mother painted of their home and their area. Circumstances changed after some years, and they moved to Florida, where Conway worked again, this time as a pharmacist in Okeechobee. They'd visit my folks in retirement in Hilton Head and my folks would visit in FL or on trips together.

Dinner with Con, Don on the left, Geneva in the middle, Con on the right

Betty's heart problems caused them to relocate to Vero Beach for her medical care in 1999. When she passed away, Conway could not stay in the house he'd shared with the love of his life. My parents bought the house in October 2002 and moved to Vero, and Conway moved to a condo. (Now my parents' poor health has them living with me, and putting this Vero Beach home on the market.) In Vero, we enjoyed many good times with Conway over the next seven years, and helped each other with many things. it was a given that we'd have holiday dinners together - especially since I love to cook for friends - although, with Conway's strong involvement with his church community, we might not have the holiday dinner just on the day. He was also a very dedicated volunteer to Habitat for Humanity. For years, he went to work with them early every weekday, building houses, using the skills he had from his own home finishing and learning more all the time. He put those skills to use for me, too, in two visits to Heaven Scent, where he helped rescreen the porch and do some drywall. He made great numbers of friends everywhere he got involved, as he was so very likeable and unselfish. Conway was always gracious and compassionate, positive and appreciative in his outlook, helpful and kind. He could be quite upset with things he thought were wrong or unjust, but never foisted a bad mood off on anyone; he seemed always to keep his self-control and perspective, and to be determined to remain optimistic. That made him great company in any situation, an easy and enjoyable companion. He was a great fan of Thomas Friedman, read his columns and books, and talked about the issues raised in them. In other tastes he seemed so simply innocent and pure: always a fan of Lawrence Welk, for instance. He was absolutely devoted to Betty, and in his eight years as a widower, despite the many attentions from neighbors and church friends, never could consider getting interested in another woman again. He was a great friend, and we will always miss him.

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