Editor’s note: former Twisp columnist Sally Gracie sent us the following dispatch from her new home in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Terry and Jeanine say they thought they saw my car at Hank’s Harvest Foods and at the Twisp post office. I told them they were mistaken. I am in fact driving around Lincoln, Nebraska, learning to scoot between lanes and make confident U-turns to change direction.
To all of you who have asked me “how are you enjoying your retirement” (as columnist for the Methow Valley News), I’m living “off the fatta the land.” In my monster 1,278-square-foot apartment at “The Pinebrook” (with brick pillars marking entrance and exit, an indoor pool, fitness center, and park-like grounds), I am unpacking as I enjoy a standard of living that I had forgotten is possible for 16 years of rentals in Twisp.
I do miss the valley, mostly because I miss my friends and neighbors, but also its natural beauty. I miss the breathtaking views of the Cascades and the sound of the Twisp River at night. I am grateful to Buddy for his wonderful Facebook photos of sunsets from his perch up Finley Canyon. The highest elevation around here would be at the top of a construction debris hillock green with weeds.
I am having difficulty getting used to 98-degree days with humidity as high, so I am envious of your cool weather. Sunrises are lovely from my balcony, and the skies are big. From late afternoon through the night, gentle breezes blow the trees to dancing and dilute the effect of the heat.
I miss my dog Beebe a lot, but she is loving life without me. Susan, her new mother, is taking her to swim in the creek and the river and Beebs is enjoying the companionship of another dog. She will also visit her friends Patrick and Kathryn from time to time.
I never felt deprived of anything while I lived in Twisp. I enjoyed the fact that the nearest stoplight is 35 miles from my house. I’m realizing now that living in a rural area requires some sacrifices. There, driving to Wal-Mart in Omak was a big deal. Here, a beautiful new Wal-Mart is a mile away. It is (over)staffed with friendly, helpful Nebraskans. Shopping early one morning, I was surprised by an employee approaching me to ask, “Are you finding what you need?” Just like Hank’s! But there everyone knew my name (hey Rudy, Lorraine, Pam and Marie!).
Food shopping is proving an entertaining occupation as I explore Hy-Vee (the local chain grocer), Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme. The latter is so far my favorite. I have Trader Joe’s and Natural Foods to look forward to. The stores just down the road offer most of the material stuff that Wenatchee does.
Medical attention is also close, and I am pleased to have found an internist who is accepting Medicare patients, who in fact specializes in older folks. The first week here I drove to a nearby “urgent” care place for treatment of a bladder infection to find a nice doc and effective care covered by my insurance. I have also seen a vascular surgeon about my feet and will see another specialist next Wednesday. I’m feeling great with lots of energy.
I still am getting settled, but I’ve been to two of the Lincoln libraries. Their Community Reads book is Gawande’s Being Mortal, which I know many of you have read. Each branch will have a discussion, as do you, Dawn, and Gawande will speak. My only attempt to volunteer so far was rebuffed at both libraries, where they have a waiting list for volunteers.
I hope this gives you an idea of my life in Lincoln. I appreciate that I can drive across town, north to south, to my David, Kate and Will in traffic and 20 minutes or less. My 14-month-old grandson is of course my primary reason for wanting to live a long and happy life in Lincoln. I will think of all of you often. Thank you for the good memories.