Visit to Quincy, IL and With Aunt Phyllis

5/15/13 Wednesday at Sullivan, IL (Forest Bo Wood-COE)

Awake early (warm night), so we were on the road, in the car, by 8 am. This is predicted to be another warm day, with highs in the 80’s.

Windy. The grass looks alive, as they say, waving in the wind. Light and dark green colors shifting with the winds. This is largely flat farmland with large areas of grass, the grass having grown tall with all the sunshine alternating with rain.

We did approach some small hills, only to discover ourselves soon on a long bridge, over the Illinois River. That river does look swollen.

Arriving at 11:15 am, sooner than we’d told Aunt Phyllis (my mom’s sister), so we called to warn her. She directed us to her building on the Illinois Veterans Home campus. After warm greetings, she directed us to the building where they have the keys to the Guesthouse, where we’ll stay for the night, for an incredible $10. Once our stuff was settled there, we all gathered on a lovely balcony overlooking the grass and trees of their grounds.

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It’s such a lovely place, really large spaces of grass and trees between the buildings. They have room for completely capable veterans (and spouses), those less able to care for themselves to even those with Alzheimers. She found out about it through a friend whose husband was staying at a very expensive home, yet getting bed sores. When their money ran out she started searching for a place for him and found this Home. When Phyllis heard this, she came to investigate, because at this point she was not able to care for her husband, a veteran who suffered a severe stroke years ago. The grounds include a garden, greenhouse, pool in the shape of Illinois, animals behind bars (deer, geese, bison, emus), an auditorium for events, a dining hall where they can choose to have their meals, or they can go to the canteen, or have their food delivered to their room. They even have a large Veteran’s cemetery. Since this complex was built after the Civil War, the majority in the cemetery are from that time, but many others who died later as well.

She took us (John drove) to lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River. When we finished, she told John the gas prices across the River in Missouri are much cheaper than here, so John drove over there to buy our gas.

For the afternoon, we visited while she showed us many of the amenities of this place, walking in the heat (high 80’s). She’s darn incredible, for 88 years old and the last of her siblings with us. She asked what we’d like to have for supper. We suggested Mexican. As we drove down the town’s main street, she spotted Kelly’s and mentioned how good their food is. We noted that the parking lot was almost full, so John made a quick decision and pulled in. The food was great and reasonably priced. Next we went back to the Veteran’s Home and tried to get into the cemetery, but it was blocked/closed (6 pm to 6 am), so we went back to Aunt Phyllis’ room and visited until 9:00 pm when John said we’d better leave before it got too dark to see where to find the Guesthouse. This was a big and wonderful day. I had such a great time visiting. John enjoyed listening and learning about this side of my family. We were glad to hit the sack early.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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