Update Pandemic Season

I was wandering past LJ the other day and it occurred to me that I had resolved to Post More. After all, its Pandemic. Its not like I’m traveling the world, or at a rave (entirely possible as long as I can be home in pjs by 8:30p). I sure as hell ain’t going to the gym. Boy Howdy - do I miss the gym. Almost as much as I miss the library.

I haven’t had this much hair in years. I look like a very curly white mop.

When you last heard from me, I was describing a life of 2 weeks in Decatur, 6 weeks in Maryland to care for my Mom, lather, rinse, repeat.

Update as follows:

I pitched a deal to my Mom: Come rent the air b&b across the street from my home in Decatur for Jan & Feb. Winter will be easier on your lungs, we can do fun things. Note: My home in Ga is TINY and has steep steps to the bedrooms. Mom’s rental is one floor and gives her some privacy & autonomy.

If I could spend a few continuous months in Decatur, I could supervise the Big Construction Project (BCP). I could spend an extended period of time with Mr. Wonderful. Mom bought it. It was a heavy lift getting my 89 yr old Mom, who has a lung disease, from Maryland to Georgia. I had to transfer her hospice care, manage her meds, pack all the things, blah blah blah.

BUT, I got her here, established across the street and we had 6 weeks of funtivities. We went to movies & dinner & brunch. My brother and family came to visit right as the BCP kicked off, so they had the joy of staying in a house during the demo part of construction, which started every day at 8am sharp. It was chaos, but fun.

Tom was mostly working out of Dallas (he called it The Garden Spot of the Universe), but he came home for random weeks & all was good. I convinced my Mom to stay through March, as construction had been slowed somewhat by hosing rain.

Then suddenly it was Pandemic Land. Tom came through the door from Dallas Tx mid March, project closed. I breathed a sigh of relief that Mom was with me and not isolated without reliable care in Maryland. The BCP was halted - frustrating because it was about a week from being finished.

Lucky for Tom, he could work from home. Lucky for me, my husband and Mom were with me and safe. Lucky for Mom, she was trapped here! The overall infection rate in our close to DC Maryland suburb was 4 times more than the national average. Decatur Ga was hardly touched.

It got hella boring, esp once all the books in the house were read. I’m amazed that my quiet life, going to the grocery store or ACE Hardware was suddenly dangerous activity. I missed my kids something awful. My Daughter is married to a first responder. I might not see her until there is a vaccination. Its too hard to think about.

This continued forever. Then a few weeks ago my Son called from California. He’d been working from home in isolation for 8 weeks, gotten an Emmy nod & was thinking about relocating to ATLANTA GEORGIA!! He’d been to visit us several times, liked the area and had never planned on living in SoCa forever. “Its 115 degrees from May to October Mom.”

Suddenly living in a close in suburb of Atlanta seems doable, after 6 years of being kinda miserable. Its such a happy thought - that our Son will live someplace nearer, that we can see him more than once a year.

SO - I’ve got my Mom here (thank you Pandemic), my Son will be here in July. All I have to do now is convince my Daughter to work out of CNN Atlanta!

The world is scary and much more dangerous. I worry that my Son does not take the possibility of infection seriously. He’s been very successful in Ca, I hope that translates back to Atlanta.

I’ve had a lot to think about this past month. Luckily, I’ve also had A LOT of painting to do. I’ve painted porch walls, inside & out, ceilings, floors, trim. I painted the front door, front porch floor, hardy plank and anything else that need painting. Tom estimates I’ve save him about $6,000 in construction costs. Maybe its the paint fumes, but for the first time in almost a decade, I’ve been content to be home. I miss Maryland and all my family and friends there. I still get antsy to get moving. I want to see my Daughter. I’m not used to being restricted. I’m ok in one place. Its a whole new feeling.

My Mom, who was really in a decline, is doing well. “You should feel good,” I tell her, “I’m providing meticulous care.” My Son will be here in another month. This June, Tom and I celebrate our 35 wedding anniversary. By the end of this week, I should have doors on my porch, instead of wood clamps and a roll of screening.

I’ve painted All The Things. Its done. Once the porch floor dries, I can drag the porch furniture out, sit on my tuckis and do nothing for at least 15 minutes. Then I get to start the great post porch landscaping project. WooT!

The future is a retrospective

Christmas with the family was lovely and as always, I’m so glad its over for another year. Now that Tom & I + Son have to come from Other Places, our time together seems compressed and rushed. Lots of long travel days and airport pickups.

Tom and I staggered (air travel during the holidays is always so magical) back from Maryland to Decatur after a prolonged absence. He’d been traveling for work, I’d gone to Md early to take care of my Mom and make Christmas happen. Three weeks later, Tom came out of his post airplane shower, looked at his side of the bed and said “Hello old Friend.” It was pretty funny.

Returning to Decatur means a ton of errands to run. I guess now would be the time to explain The New Reality. In the last 18 months, I haven’t lived anywhere for more than 6 weeks at a time. I’ve split my time between Maryland and Mom, then going back to Decatur to get my allergy shot, see Tom and do whatever life thing needs to happen before I take off for Md again.

The net result is that I don’t really live anywhere. Its strange. I almost keep up with my Maryland friends (less so now that my Mom really needs help) and I sorta have a half life in Decatur.

I’m hoping to bring my Mom to Decatur mid January through the end of February. Decatur winter would be easier on her lungs than the Maryland cold & snow. I’d like to be able to take care of her and see Tom occasionally, plus we have a construction project about to kick off.

Fingers crossed that this will be a positive experience. I sure hope it doesn’t make her miserable……


So - 10 years ago, 2010 was (so far) the best year of my life. I got to travel to South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Greece, Hungry. It was AWESOME.

In the last decade, my kids grew up, graduated college. Daughter got married & her career took off. Son moved to California, established a home and launched a stellar career in animation and special effects. I worked with Stan Hinden to edit and publicize a book about successful retirement. Tom and I moved to Decatur. I busted my femur and had a very long recovery. My cousin the travel writer and my Dad died. The last half of this decade has been hard.

I’m very conscious of the passage of time. I turn 65 soon, lots of my life & experiences are in the rear view mirror. Lucky for me, the rear view is good and what lies ahead might not be as much fun as my past was, but there is still life to live and fun to be had.

A Skunk isn't a good roommate

My Son is successfully adulting far away in Los Angles, Ca. I miss him with a fury that wounds me sometimes, but he’s happy and thats whats supposed to happen.

He rents a house with a roommate and Doug, the roommates cat. Doug is a tubby load of indolent aggravation. Living with a cat has brought interesting wildlife problems into my Son’s life, via the Cat Door. Quick example: wandering into the kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water and tripping over a raccoon helping himself to Dougs food. No one was happy.

There has been an ongoing battle with a skunk that has successfully moved under the foundation of the house and had blithely wandered around the back yard at night. Mr. Skunk and Doug have been peacefully coexisting. The whole point of Doug, as far as I can tell, is to make sure the wildlife gets fed.

Evan called the other day with quite a story to tell.  He'd spent a long weekend camping and was smelling pretty ripe once he got home.  SO he unloaded all his camping equipment and enjoyed his shower, brushed his teeth and was generally pleased with life.  

Then, he stepped out of the bathroom and there was the skunk, standing at the opposite end of the hall, obv came through the cat door for Doug’s leftovers.  Evan said he let out a little EEEP and the skunk scuttled into the living room, under his couch!

So there stood Evan in his boxers, wondering What To Do when suddenly Doug came rocketing by.  Doug is 35 lbs of fat cat, so rocketing is a relative term, but his ears were flat to his head.

Evan realized that while Doug doesn't seem to mind sharing his kibble or backyard occasionally, the couch is an insult not to be tolerated.  ANYWAY, Evan grabbed Doug, which did not make Doug happy & made Evan wish he had a shirt on.

Evan kicked open the back door, zipped out of the house in his underwear with Doug objecting loudly and clawing with all four feet.  Evan ran around the side of the house, shouting and scaring the neighbors. He rocketed to the front yard, opened the front door and was rewarded for his panic with the sight of the skunk marching out to the back yard.  

Doors were slammed, cat was decanted to the roommates room and Evan went back into the shower to wash off cat hair, flop sweat and blood.  Lots more wildlife at home than at Joshua Tree.

The Cat in the Hat

I haven’t been around in a long time. Too much happening, decidedly mixed between a little fun and a lot of aggravation.

I’d characterize this time in my life as The Crone Years. Not as much fun as my previous life, but still worth having (mostly). I think I’m going to start writing again. I hope.
I think it would be good for me to share, sometimes.

ANYWAY - hi everyone! I’ve suddenly missed writing about my life. I’m hoping I can get back to it.


I had a crabby Thanksgiving. Mr. W and I were alone in Decatur, plus Mr. W had to make a trip on T’giving Saturday and did not get back till Tuesday morning. It made for a long lonely time when I was already homesick for - I guess my previous life? At least homesick for the past when Thanksgiving meant family and friends around.

Tuesday morning rolled around. I’m picking Mr. Wonderful up from the Atlanta airport. This meant that I had to be up, dressed and have enough coffee in me to be able to think and drive by 8am. I am not a morning person. I like to guzzle coffee and then go to the gym and not talk to anyone. Then I drink more coffee, can see in color and am not in danger of biting random people who happen to cross my path. I don’t think well until I’ve had a gallon of coffee. Atlanta traffic is the pits.

I’m driving down the road almost to my exit when Mr. W texts me. I miss my exit wondering where my phone is, skidded around the airport back roads while my phone went ping, ping, ping, ping. EGADS! By the time I finally got back to the daily parking garage, I had learned that Tom’s plane landed, he was walking, he was at baggage claim, he would meet me in the parking garage. I was ready to eat his fingers with my second cup of coffee.

But then there he was, walking towards me and I was so glad to see him. We turned around and headed to our parked car. A van had mushed in next to us and Thing 1 was vigorously batting her van door into the side of our car as she unloaded stuff from the back seat and passed it to Thing 1. Tom and I stood there gaping - I mean, the red wigs and Thing 1 & 2 signs made me laugh. Instead of bitching about door slamming my car.

Tom said to me “How about I drive home so you can sip your cold coffee and hate life?” He really gets me. He started up the car, drove towards the exit and The Cat in the Hat stepped right in front of us. Tom slammed on the brakes and I just started laughing.

For once in my life, something great happened before my second cup of coffee.


This past Wednesday Mr. Wonderful and I had a massively fun experience that has been YEARS in the making. We went to the premier of the Oscar worthy movie HAPPY DEATH DAY 2.

It should be noted that we have been happily anticipating this event since last November when we first heard of it, but really, we’ve been waiting almost five years for this.

You see, Dear Reader - Our SON was listed in the movie credits: Graphic Artist EVAN BENTZ. Here is a screen cap!

To get this credit, my Son developed and rendered the special effect time machine which is a huge plot point in the movie. The time machine has almost as many scenes as the Blonde!

It was so much fun to sit there with my hubby, cheering every time a computer, television, phone screen or the time machine appeared on screen. The other 6 people enjoying this EPIC were puzzled, but our Son had done all of those 200 shots and we were mighty damn excited. Number Only Son is happily adulting in California with a great job and MOVIE SCREEN CREDITS!! He's known what he wanted to do with his life by the time he was 14, and now he’s out there - happily working in his chosen field, having fun and making his Parents proud.

Its really fun to savor the wins. It seems like its been a long time since I felt like cheering.

Fa la la la la - la la la la

We wish you a Muller Christmas
We wish you a Muller Christmas
We wish you a Muller Christmas
and Impeachment next year

Indictments we bring, to you and your kin. Indictments for Christmas and Impeachment next year.

We wish you a Muller Christmas
We wish you a Muller Christmas
We wish you a Muller Christmas
and Impeachment next year

One last outing

I was dinking around in my email looking for Important Stuff and found this account of my last outing with my Dad. It was pretty funny....
Broke Dad out of rehab for a visit to the urologist. He's been scaned/diagnosed with retaining 400 (some measurement of urine in the bladder, very bad). The answer is to self catheter mornings and evenings. SO I sent Dad off (and Mom, because she would NEVER leave him alone to cope) with the nurse for his demonstration/training.

So there I was, flipping through People magazine, when suddenly the fire alarm started whoop whoop whooping and saying EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT USE ELEVATORS. I continued reading, figuring it would take a while for Dad to untube and get his pants up. A semi hysterical nurse shrieked at me to 'Get out immediately."

"Well," I told her, "I'm not going anywhere without my Dad and his walker and my Mom and her cane." SO that's how I ended up carrying a walker, cane, two raincoats and two purses down five flight of steps along with my Mom and Dad. A cute young teenager helped us, but boy howdy did we hold up traffic!

We were decanted out the building between two malodorous dumpsters in the hosing rain. I got rain coats on my seniors and managed to get them down 3 crumbling steps to street level. Then I held up the goddamn fire truck while my Parents putted across the road to the parking lot. THAT WAS ME, giving the firefighters the finger and saying BACK OFF, WE ARE MOVING AS FAST AS WE CAN, EVERYONE HAS PLACES TO BE.

Notes from a Life. I love my Dad

I knew things had taken a dire turn when I got an email from Mom and realized that she had figured out how to use the talk-to-text function on her mobile phone. I couldn't leave Decatur till the following day, because Mr. W had a pre surgical appt that we had already canceled once due to the fact that his Mom had died 10 days earlier. It was quite the month in Empresspattiland.

I called my Daughter at work and asked her to head to the hospital. I booked the earliest flight I could get post Dr visit. That night and the next morning were truly hellish. The pre surgical visit included imaging and a long wait at the pharmacy.

Then, Tom & I had a very tense drive through dense Atlanta traffic with the hope that I could catch an earlier flight to Maryland.

I was standing at a gate, begging to be allowed onto a flight, when the call came. Leslie spoke calmly and said, “I need you to sit down. Grandpa just died peacefully. Gma is with him and so are Aunt Fay, Uncle John and the the cousins.”

My Dad died surrounded by people that loved him best. Except me, who was torn between love of Mr. Wonderful and his surgical needs and love of my Dad and my desire to hold his hand as he went. I wanted to be there to comfort my Mom.

Life did not allow me that opportunity or privilege. I sat in the Atlanta airport with my head down, trying not to howl in public.

But Still: I had 63 years with a great Father. He died surrounded by people that loved and honored him. The last words I said to him were ‘I love you.” As my Dad used to say about just about everything - “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

It didn’t get any better than my Dad.


Notes on a Life, from Leslie

My Dad and my Daughter took one look at each other 31 years ago and that was that. They were a mutual admiration society of two. At one point, during the long vigil she and my Mom shared that last night, she texted me and said "Gma just admitted that I'M THE FAVORITE." It made me laugh during the worst time of my life. Leslie was the last speaker at my Dads funeral and I thought her words were beautiful.


I’m Leslie, Harvey’s granddaughter.

But I would imagine everyone here knows that, because my entire life I’ve known what it’s like to be famous.

The dentist, the checkout woman at the pharmacy, everyone in church, all our neighbors – if you knew my Grandfather, you knew about me.

I always thought this was so sweet and a little embarrassing at times, but I also always thought it was totally normal until a few years ago, when I introduced a friend to my Grandfather at a party. Grandpa was so excited to meet them and launched into his usual speech - “I’m so happy to meet a friend of Leslie’s. You must be pretty great to be a friend of my granddaughter! She’s the love of my life; she’s so special!”

He gave a hug and walked away, and my friend turned to me in amazement and said “Wow, imagine what you can accomplish in life with someone telling you that you are that amazing all the time!” I was so surprised – doesn’t everyone have a Grandfather that hypes them up to total strangers?

Doesn’t every Grandpa tell the dentist his granddaughter Leslie probably is going to have the most perfect teeth you’ve ever seen in all your years of practice, so get ready to be really impressed? (My dentist, upon meeting me, said that yes I had very nice teeth . . . and a Grandfather that really loved me. But he didn’t know if they were the best EVER.)

I went through my entire life like this, in a protective bubble of love and support from Grandpa. My husband laments that Grandpa completely distorted my view of reality. Every time I ask Greg to do something he feels is particularly absurd he says “Do I look like your Grandpa? Absolutely not.”

I have a wonderful memory from when I was about 10 years old. I was in an opera on opening night, and it was the final curtain call. I stood on stage with the cast as people clapped and cheered in the Kennedy Center. I was so excited to be on stage while all the divas took their great bows.

The crowd was just a blur of dark shapes, but then as I looked out, I saw him. My Grandfather, on the first balcony, standing up and waiving his hands high in the air so I would see him (the people behind him were appalled). In a room of hundreds and hundreds of people, all clapping and cheering for the group, the most enthusiastic person in the room was the one clapping for me.

Everyone felt that special when they were with my Grandfather; he radiated kindness, love, and generosity. If he knew you, he loved you. And it was impossible not to love him back.

In the past few months, as his health became more tenuous, I’ve thought a lot about legacy. What kind of mark do you leave on the world that extends beyond your life?

Born in his Grandmother’s house in Wisconsin in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression, his own parents didn’t finish middle school. During his summers in Wisconsin as a child, he worked as a field hand for his uncles on their dairy farms, earning 25 cents a day. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college.

He was particularly proud that both of his children and all four of his grandchildren went on to graduate from college.

In his prime he fixed houses, remodeled kitchens, built bookshelves and cabinets, tables, benches. Old age was hard for him to accept. For most of his life he was such a strong man, when I would look at him as a child he seemed like a giant, with great big hands and a booming voice, fixing anything that needed it and occasionally “fixing” something so well that it never really worked again.

As he aged and was less able to physically provide for the people he loved, he made sure to provide in other ways.

What a legacy indeed, to work so hard for the sole purpose of giving the people you love more than you had. To constantly find new ways to look out for them. To accomplish with the sole purpose of providing for the people you love.

Everyone here knows I’m a bookworm. The poem Ulysses by Lord Tennyson is a particular favorite of mine, and in the past few months I’ve reread it several times, as it reminds me so much of my grandfather.

Tennyson wrote it during a period of grief in his own life, having lost dear friend. In the poem Ulysses is an old man and having returned home in his old age, finds himself restless. Towards the end of the poem he longs for the time when he was in his prime; having worked so hard to strike out on his own and see the world, he longs for one final adventure.

you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The people gathered here today may have very different views of what happens after we die. I will leave theology to the experts, but one thing I know for certain on which we can all agree - the love and security provided by Harvey Kloehn to us, the people he loved, is in every one of us. His positive impact lives on in each of us, has made us all into better people, made us all feel loved and safe. It extends beyond his own life. Through his love and generosity, he lives on forever.

Notes on a life, from Mr. Wonderful

Tom had College Professor Parents and two well behaved sisters. He married into the Loud and Tall Tribe. It is not for the faint of heart. All family gatherings are LOUD, with a lot of laughter and nonsense. Your ears will ring the day after.

I grew up with my Parents, and a younger brother. My Aunt, Uncle and 3 younger boy cousins lived right around the corner. I always say I was raised with two sets of parents and four younger brothers. Tom waded right in and never looked back. We'd host family gatherings and the mix of his short, well mannered tribe and my family of tall, loud jokers was always strange and wonderful. Tom's tribute to my Dad touched me greatly.

It is only fitting and proper that in the same Church which played such an large role in his life that we say goodbye to Harvey Glen Kloehn.

More than thirty three years ago in this very room, I forever joined the Kloehn Family.

He proudly wore many titles in his life time Devoted Husband, Encouraging Father, Doting Grandpa, supportive and Loyal Friend. His passing leaves countless gaps in our daily lives that will be hard to fill.

Who will say grace at the dinner table when the entire family is gathered round for a holiday?

Who will stand out above everyone else in a crowded airport to wave you a welcome home? Remember the people that had to dodge the cane he was waving?

Who will give you rib crushing hugs just to say good night?

Who will bait countless fish hooks for grandkids? 

Who will be the first to the emergency room to remove a fish hook from his calf? 

Who will repair anything that needs repairing with duck tape and super glue and a fear inducing “WHOOP”!

Who will repair our broken hearts?

Collectively, we will all have to help each other to do that. We must see past the sorrow and smile remembering all that he was, all that he taught us. We must honor his memory by striving to be as kind, generous, and loving a person that Harvey was every day of his life.