Thursday, July 28, 2011

The End of a Family Era

Coming up the lane to the home place.
Eventually it becomes inevitable that ancestral history and emotional family memories are trumped by the need to face the end of an era. The Bailey/Buchholz Farm is in the process of being sold. A deal closed yesterday on the portion of the land that includes the home place, the “North Farm”. Sale of the remainder, the “South Farm”, will close next month. That land will now be owned by a local farmer who is a family friend.

My husband’s maternal family, the Buchholz’, owned hundreds of acres of farm land in central Illinois' Ford County since settling there in the mid-1800’s. Rons’s grandfather and namesake, Ronald Buchholz, was the last in a long line of family farmers. He retired in 1980. The livestock and chickens had already been sold, and local sharecroppers Ray and Jimmy took over farming the corn and soybeans. Ron’s parents, James Bailey and Barbara Buchholz Bailey retired to the farm in the mid-1980’s. Jim reveled in his retired life as a “gentleman farmer” until his passing in 1995. Barbara succumbed to Alzheimers and spent the rest of her days in a nursing home in Springfield, IL. Ronald lived until he was 95. A cousin sold her acreage to a corporation over ten years ago. The beautiful old farm house has remained, loved but unoccupied, except for occasional family gatherings since 1995.

For many, many years in Melvin, generations of Buchholz’ were not only farmers, but entrepreneurs in the small town, and pillars of the community. The building housing Melvin’s general store and “opera house” even had the Buchholz name carved in stone on the fa├žade. It was demolished about 10 years ago, a depressing harbinger for the town of Melvin as well as for Bailey/Buchholz progeny.

Amandus Buchholz (Ron's Great Great Grandfather) in his general merchandise store.
The five Bailey heirs are scattered across the country, living their own lives and building their unique legacies. There is not a farmer among them. The rising value of farm land and commodities, and the deteriorating condition of the farm house, pushed the possibility of a sale to the forefront of consideration. It became clear that it was time to let go. So the sale moves forward.

Ron on the farm in the mid-80's.
Divestiture of the farm is providing an unexpected boost to our retirement. We always included Ron’s share of the farm as an asset in our net worth, but did not count on it being sold during our lifetime. It’s a bittersweet turn of events.

Current generations of family do not share the same dreams as our ancestors; however we believe that they would want us to live our own lives and follow our dreams. I think they would be pleased that they could help.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We're Meant to Be Here

It's no secret that I love the home we have established in Prescott, Arizona in the community of Talking Rock.  Recently I wrote this rhyme, which I have also applied as lyrics for a "campfire" song.  It's been fun to work it out, accompanying myself on my ukulele.


Way out West
Far from city lights
Where coyotes sing on
Bright and starry nights
There is a place
Nestled in the plains
Where rabbits dance
In fragrant summer rains

It’s Talking Rock
We’re meant to be here
In Talking Rock
It’s so darn clear
We’ve found our home
No need to roam…
Talking Rock,
Talking Rock Ranch

In desert heat
And winter’s falling snow
Where toasts are shared
And treasured friendships grow
There is a place
A mile high
Where sunsets paint
The canvas of the sky

It’s Talking Rock
We’re meant to be here
In Talking Rock
It’s so darn clear
We’ve found our home
No need to roam...
Talking Rock,
Talking Rock Ranch

We’ve found our home
No need to roam...
Talking Rock,
Talking Rock Ranch

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I am beginning to understand why my mother tells me that she doesn’t want more “stuff”. This makes gift-giving more challenging, and generally results in purchases of consumables such as food items, luxurious toiletries, or clothing. At 80, Mom doesn’t feel the need to be in acquisition mode any more. Now I get it.

Stuff makes life more complicated. Stuff has to be organized, stored, maintained, and sometimes (worst of all) packed and transported in a move. We get so accustomed to having our stuff around us that we don’t even know why we have some of it anymore. Regardless, it’s hard to purge ourselves of it.

Don’t get me wrong… I like my creature comforts. I have gone to great lengths to create a comfortable nest for myself and my husband. But after moving households several times, I have also experienced the euphoria of leaving mountains of unwanted baggage by the curb for garbage pickup. It’s a freeing feeling.

The purging process is painful. It has to be accomplished a drawer, a box, a closet at a time. We must face some hard facts like, “OK, I’m never going to be a size 8 again”, or “My snow skiing days are behind me”.

Letting go allows us to move forward unencumbered, fully enjoying the present and looking to the future instead of being tangled in the flotsam and jetsam of the past.

Now go tackle that junk drawer!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicago's Best

My sister, Althea, heads back home to New Hampshire today after a week-long visit with us in Chicago. I have to say, Chicago really gave us her best over the past week. It was a reminder of why we love this city and how much we will miss it when we move to Arizona next year.

Our week started with an extra-innings win by the Cubs at Wrigley. Considering that the Cubs are currently well under 500 this season, that was no small feat. Singing “Go Cubs Go” at the end of the game allowed us to walk home on air. We celebrated by stopping for dinner at Fornello, our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant.

Friday, we had lunch in Evanston with an old college friend. It was fun to catch up with his doings in the entertainment world. He’s sold a series pilot to Spike TV that is awaiting a contract. His other project is a movie script, which has also been sold and has a director and producer. It will start shooting in October in Puerto Rico. Nice.

We enjoyed an early morning in Lincoln Park over the weekend, buying goods for Sunday dinner at the Green City (Farmers) Market. The fresh tomatoes and radishes were amazing. Breakfast was a rhubarb tart and a stick of buffalo jerky. After the market, we strolled through Lincoln Park Zoo and saw Polar Bears, a Rhinoceros, and a pair of Lions sunning themselves. From there the park continues into the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a stunning historic building with beautiful displays. My favorite was the orchid gardens.

A visit to Chicago would be incomplete without an evening at a neighborhood tavern. The weather cooperated, and we sat on the patio at Bar On Buena to enjoy burgers and beer just a few blocks from home.

The 4th of July was celebrated with extended family, at a backyard BBQ. That evening, we walked to Montrose Harbor to see fireworks. Some were unofficial (I don’t know how more people don’t get their fingers blown off), others in the distance were larger and more impressive. The atmosphere on the lakefront was very festive.

Tuesday evening, we were invited to join generous friends on a sailboat outing from Monroe Harbor on Lake Michigan. What a gorgeous evening with great friends! The view of the skyline and the color of the water were both unforgettable. We tried to convince our Italian captain, Lorenzo Career, to just continue sailing on to Italy.

Althea’s last evening in Chicago was spent “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” Aquarium. More beautiful views of the lake and city – this time accompanied by live jazz, and a chance to walk through the aquarium. We especially enjoyed the Beluga Whales and the special Jellyfish exhibit. The evening ended with the fireworks display from Navy Pier.

Chicago performed marvelously for us this past week. We love this city, and can’t help but already think of missing everything it has to offer when we relocate next spring.