Thursday, May 7, 2015

Happy Camper

Well, I am not really camping but, I am indeed happy.  Nothing is ever perfect, but I would have to say that I am quite satisfied with where my life is at this point.  Any fear that I had about being bored in retirement had have proven to be unnecessary!  I started simply.  I volunteered to walk dogs at PAWS.  I did for a couple of years but took this past winter off and have not found the time to go back to doing it on a regular basis.

I am not there yet, but I am on the way to becoming a "Neighborhood Advocate", in other words, a loud mouth!  I live in a neighborhood where people are encouraged to move elsewhere.  A neighborhood that people tell new arrivals to the city to avoid.  Some people look around and see insurmountable problems.  I look around and see potential. 

I attend updates for the East Village Growth Cell, the East Bluff Build It Up group, the East Bluff United Neighborhood Association meetings and the board of Senior Advance at the East Bluff Community Center.  I have delivered 18 "Pride in Peoria is Picking Up" signs around the neighborhood in the last couple of weeks.  I only have one left in supply. 

I am most pleased with my involvement with the "East Bluff News" publication and the associated Facebook page.  It has proven to be a good source of information for residents and people who are interested in East Bluff activities.  Four editions of the newsletter have been published thus far.  It was started with a small grant from LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).  The first edition was November/December 2014.  The Facebook page was started last October.

There are plans for the redevelopment of the Wisconsin Avenue Business Corridor.  There are empty storefronts that need to be filled, but there are also businesses that are doing well.  We are starting to work with a consultant on "branding" the East Bluff in a way that emphasizes the potential for the neighborhood to be a great place to live, work and play. 

We have only just begun!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Unveiled!

The mural, The Faces of the East Bluff, has been unveiled!  If you have not seen it, it truly is worth a drive past 1902 N. Wisconsin.  I was honored to be asked to speak at the dedication and to help pull the cords to reveal the masterpiece.

I have lived in my home  for 23 years and have seen a lot of changes over that time.  There has been ups and downs.  I am really hopeful that we are on a  real upswing now! Most of my neighbors who have lived here for some time agree with me that it is better now than it was 10 years ago.  Change does not  take place in a matter of days.

I see that the foundation for one of the duplexes is going in and even more construction will take off once the weather breaks for good and the ground is thawed and relatively dry.

Ran the tiller over my garden spot and another time or two and it will be ready to plant.  Took my hyperactive Rat Terrier, Matilda, for a long walk this afternoon.  She is sleeping right now, but I know that won't last.  It is nice enough to have a couple of windows open.  Great to have some fresh air  in the house.

Life is good!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Neighborhod, Sweet Neighborhood

This is the mural that will be installed on a building in the neighborhood.  The project is called Faces of the East Bluff.  Yours truly is second from the left in the bottom row.  It gets installed on March 18th. 







Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Busy

Delivered copies of the East Bluff News to various businesses yesterday and today.  Passed out a few to some neighbors.  Updated the East Bluff News Facebook page today.  Tomorrow is the East Bluff Build It Up meeting.  Taking  a friend to work and picking her up tomorrow and Friday.  Senior Advance planning group meeting is next Tuesday.   Wednesday, two of my cats go to  the vet for their annual check up and rabies shots.  Neighborhood  association meetings come off of Winter hiatus next Wednesday evening.  Haven't even started entering things on the calendar for the week of the 15th.

Retirement is wonderful!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Life Happens

Have not blogged for a long time!  As much as I like to write, life has gotten in the way.  I am still dealing with my sister's estate.  Hopefully that will be coming to an end soon.  It will be two years in June.  It has been almost a year since my firefighter nephew died in the line of duty fighting a fire on the campus of the University of Missouri.  I have had a new grandbaby born.  There are five of them now.  Three girls and two boys.

I have gotten even more involved in neighborhood activities.  I write the front page article for the community newsletter, East Bluff News and monitor the Facebook page of the same name.  I have been attending the East Bluff "Build It Up" weekly meetings and recently was asked to attend meetings for the "Senior Advance" program at the community center.  They are trying to figure out what kind of activities we "old folks" might enjoy enough to get out of the house and socialize with other old folks.

I took the winter off from walking dogs at PCAP (PAWS).  I hope I have the motivation to go back to doing that when Spring comes.  I did pretty good.  I only adopted one dog (Matilda) and one cat (Zeus) the entire time I was at the shelter every week.  I lost one of my senior cats, Trumpkin, to liver failure.

This cold weather is sapping my ambition.  I am still a member at the Riverplex, but my attendance is not what it was.  I am hoping that with the arrival of Daylight Saving Time, I will be more motivated to go.  I feel so much better when I do, but making myself go out in the cold at night is not an easy thing to do.

I celebrated another birthday.  Seventy sounds old, but it doesn't feel old.  I am content and healthy and really have nothing to complain about.  Complaining doesn't solve anything anyway.

I am looking forward to a road trip in April when my grandsons have their violin recitals.  Nothing like watching a three year old and a five year old feel like they are conquering the world!  I have not been to see them since October and am really looking forward to seeing them and the baby, who will be almost eleven months old by the time I get there.

Life is good!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

YES, I SAID IT

There was an interesting meeting in the East Bluff last night.  It was a follow-up to meetings/communication with business owners/managers along or near the Wisconsin Corridor.  The area under consideration follows Wisconsin Ave. from Forrest Hill, south to Glen Oak.  About 30 +/- residents of the area met at the East Bluff Community Center at 6:00 PM.

We took a short walk.  We looked at buildings and houses.  We noticed some fantastic land use and vacant buildings in need of new facades, but full of possibilities.  We saw homes that showed pride of ownership and houses in dire need of repair or re-purpose.  Following the walk, we returned to the Center to begin our table discussions.

Each table had maps of the area and the assignment to figure out realistic goals and time lines for those goals.  There was a surprising amount of agreement on the type of improvements the neighborhood would like to see.  We envisioned improved street lighting, public art, neighborhood gathering spots in the form of a restaurant, coffee shop, diner, etc.  Small businesses such as a bike repair shop, beauty parlor/barber or thrift/antique shop would be welcome.  We want to see kids playing soccer on the grounds of Glen Oak Learning Center.  We want to see a Farmer's Market located on a parking lot on a Saturday afternoon.  We want to see the parking lot at Wisconsin Plaza reconfigured.  Public art could include decorative shop windows, sculptured bike racks, carved wood decoration and murals like the one at Wisconsin and Frye Avenues.  We are pleased that that one has been there for over a year and has not been vandalized.  The neighborhood is proud of it!

We were realistic enough to know that safety is goal #1!  It doesn't matter how good it looks or what it offers if people do not feel safe enough to visit the area all times of the day.  We also know that an active, welcoming street scene providing many eyes on the street increases safety.  We can't have one, without the other!

One item on the list from our table raised some eyebrows.  I was even quoted in the Peoria Journal Star!  I thought we needed a Starbucks among the businesses.  Well, maybe not Starbucks, but something like it.  We want Mom & Pop places to succeed, but it may take  a chain like Starbucks to pull people traveling to and from work into the area to see what else is there.  A business that could provide employment to people living in the neighborhood.  Mom & Pop places usually are run by the family and do not hire many "outsiders".  Whether Starbucks or another well known entity with a philanthropic mission to empower young people, a business of this type could serve the neighborhood in more than one way.  Heck, I would even get a $4 cup of coffee occasionally!

I am hopeful!  It was a good meeting that went until almost 9 PM.  I am anticipating the report that will be presented to the City and look forward to private development $$$$$, East Village Growth Cell $$$$$ and mostly, I look forward to the renaissance of the East Bluff. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Past 12 Months

This past year has been a difficult one.  March 17, 2013 saw the passing of my niece, Kim.  Kim had a difficult time with diabetes and its many complications.  July 9, 2013, Kim's mother, my sister Wini, passed away at her home.  She had an unsuccessful back surgery many years ago and lived in pain for a long time.  She also had diabetes. 

The final straw was the death of my nephew, Bruce on February 23, 2014.  Bruce died in the line of duty as a firefighter in Columbia, Mo.  He had been with the department for 23 years.  I was not able to attend his memorial service in Columbia, but a local TV station did live streaming of procession of "first responder" vehicles from throughout Missouri and beyond.  The memorial service was also shown.  I watched it all.  I have shed more tears in the last 2 weeks than I had done in my life time, thus far.  Just when I thought I was though, someone would post a new memory or photo on his memorial page. 

Today, there was a second memorial service held.  This one in a little town north of Springfield where Bruce grew up and started his life as a fire fighter on the local volunteer fire department.  Local fire departments were represented, as well as a group from Columbia.  It was a beautiful service.  There were many tributes to the man he had grown to be.  His wife and three year old daughter were there.  My heart breaks for them.

I learned today, that as an organ donor, Bruce saved or enhanced the life of twenty more people. 

It is said that things happen in threes.