Sometimes trying to gather my thoughts into a coherent story is a little like attempting to corral two-year old triplets, fresh and feisty after an energizing nap. Several times this week I’ve tried to focus on creating a post about my recent trip to St. Augustine, Florida, but my recollections keep falling all over each other, then wheeling off in different directions.
“Let’s tell everybody about . . . oh! How fun was that button display . . . oh! That was the best pecan roll . . . oh! Then there was the shrunken head . . . oh!”
I loved St. Augustine and can’t wait to go back, but I have come to the conclusion that I’ll need to break up one huge triple layer chocolate cake packed with information into little mini cupcake stories focusing on one or two delicious things to do at a time. I think I’ll start next week with the yummy Lightner Museum, so stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, one HUGE reason why I am so distracted is that I closed on a new house yesterday. Yes! The delightful present owners are staying until the 16th when their new home is ready, and after that I have some renovations planned – but between working with my sweetie pie Realtor (hats off to Joe Vaccaro from Howard Hanna!) and my contractor and the usual holiday distractions, I’ve been, well, distracted.
My new home is in Willoughby, OH – about 20 miles or so west of my current home in Madison. This puts me closer to Cleveland and all the Big City has to offer (yay!), and that’s certainly one big draw. But that’s just the start of what I love about Willoughby.
I’ll be retiring in a few years and have been yearning to live in a place that, a) has sidewalks, b) is within walking distance of a vibrant downtown area, and c) would allow me to live on one floor as I toddle into my golden years. I have long loved Willoughby and felt a strong connection there. This is my sweet mother’s home town; the park around the corner from my new home is where her elementary school once stood. She lived nearby on Lincoln Ave., then when my grandfather was drafted to serve in Patton’s army, my grandmother took the kids and moved in with her parents on Glenwood Avenue (and stayed for many years after Grandpa returned safely home to take care of her elderly parents).
I spent a lot of time visiting my grandparents on Glenwood. In fact, my great grandfather’s home was the first to be built on what was a dirt road around the turn of the last century. Today, Glenwood Ave. is in the heart of one of the city’s loveliest older neighborhoods. I can close my eyes and walk you through the house as I remember it from my childhood, from the dining room with Nana’s African violets lining the window seat to the “play room” with the little dormer windows at the top of the stairs.
On my dear grandpa’s side of the family, his Italian mama, Maria DeJoy, an immigrant from Campobasso, made her own wine from grapes grown in the back yard of her Second St. home – less than two blocks from where I’ll soon be living myself. Her eldest son, my Uncle Nick and vivacious Aunt Flo lived on Park Avenue, just a couple blocks to the other side of my little house.
Willoughby was kind of sad and tired for many, many years. Lots of empty store fronts on Erie Street, the main drag through town. Then in the 80’s, I think, some forward-thinking people decided to turn things around and today it is absolutely charming. I’ll tell you more about Willoughby as a destination one of these days, but suffice to say for now that my house is five blocks (with sidewalks) from downtown. I will be able to walk the dogs there to window shop or pick up veggies at the Saturday farmers’ market, then maybe sit at one of the tables outside Arabica to people-watch and enjoy a cup of coffee when the weather is nice.
I can hardly wait! But I will be back with stories about St. Augustine (now my favorite city in Florida) and about Willoughby (lots to love there, too!) and much more.
Thanks for reading. Hope you have a wonderful week!