Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Story in 101 Words

I'm having trouble staying on a schedule since I retired. But isn't that what retirement is about -- no alarm clock, no job, no worries! 

Yeah, right. Don't buy into that BS. Retirement is a whole lot of work, but you have to make your own schedule. Obviously, I'm terrible at that as I seem to jump from one task to another, never finishing anything. My blog has suffered tremendously. I have several posts that are half way to publication, but I just don't have the desire to complete them. 

This week, I decided to try a different approach and write about a topic on Mama's Losing It. This site has weekly writing prompts that can be linked to her site and shared with her readers.

The topic I found intriguing (Write a Story in 101 Words) involved creative writing, something I have never done. I thought I'd give it a shot. Here are two that I wrote:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
#1
     
     She searched everywhere for that one picture of her baby. 

     “No one else has a copy of that shot. It can’t be gone,” she said while frantically digging through boxes of old photos, through albums and through pages of favorite books. That one picture captured everything – the pain of birth, the joy of childhood, the future.  She could still see all the dreams she had for Jessie, her child. Jessie -- beautiful, healthy, strong, generous, and loving. What a glorious future belonged to sweet Jessie!


     “Finally,” she sighed, as she pulled the grainy ultrasound picture from the pages of her Bible.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#2

     “We’ll start another round of chemo Thursday, followed by a scan in three months to see if it’s working,” said Dr. Jonas.

     Three months. 

     Three short months to tell if the poisons they are putting into my body are killing what they are designed to kill. Three months of nausea, sweats, hair loss, skin rash. Three months to make sure my family knows my feelings, to make sure they will do everything I want afterwards. Three months before the “No More” or “Do More” treatment decision.

     My life -- now measured in three month increments.

     Screw it. I’m buying that motorcycle.




Saturday, November 7, 2015

Freedom from Fear

Like me, my close friend/ex-sister-in-law is a retired English teacher. When she and I were in the midst of teaching and raising kids and married to bad men, we daily shared our problems with one another. One thing she said that stuck with me when I’d be complaining and worrying about something was “When you get back in that classroom tomorrow, you will stop worrying about all of this. You won’t have time.”  

That may not seem very wise, but it carried me through many times when I didn’t know if I could turn off my mind from all the worrying.

Now, I don’t have that classroom to occupy my thoughts. I’m no longer living on the stress of meeting a deadline, planning lessons, dealing with discipline problems or maintaining control of 30+ teenagers for 50 minutes to make sure they learn how to write a decent essay.

Now, I’m alone with my thoughts too much and my thoughts naturally go to the worst place of all – the land of fear.



Now, I have all the free time in the world to obsess about the “what ifs” of my life. No matter how many times I tell myself that these worst-case scenarios playing in my head are useless, they are still on repeat.

The funny thing is that, even though I’m worrying about what might happen, I’m constantly telling others not to worry about things. It’s the old “do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do” syndrome.

My daughter is taking a GRE prep class and shared her insecurities about how she will do on the test. “What if,” she said, “I don’t score high enough to get into grad school? What will I do then?” My response was the typical mother one of “You’ll do fine on the test and if you don’t, that won’t be an end. Maybe you’ll see a new plan. Maybe you can become a flight attendant so you can take me places.”

My granddaughter shared her concern recently when told that the students in her school would get their Florida Standards Assessment results the following day.
She’s only 11 and has taken several annual standardized tests, but this test was new and different. “What if,” she said, “I don’t get a good score?” My response was the typical grandmother one of “You’ll do fine on the test and if you don’t, I’ll raise hell with the school because I know the truth about those tests.”

I think I helped them with their fears, but I’m still obsessing over my own –the PET and CT scan results, the late night interstate driving trips, the end of the line for an addict, the money not stretching far enough, and on and on and on. I use the rational part of my brain and tell myself that my worrying and fearing these events will come to nothing which makes them go away for a minute. I try to be a good Christian and turn them over to the Lord, but the fears are still lurking in the corner of my mind, waiting to pounce when I have no other thoughts to take their place.

Now I know why retired people stay so busy playing bridge, traveling, crafting, etc. We are trying to escape our fears.

Will I have to go back into that classroom in order to forget all of my worries? Good Lord, I hope not, but ironically, that’s also one of my fears. 




Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloween Costumes: Past and Present


Oh, Halloween -- a child's favorite holiday! When I was a kid, I loved Halloween. What chubby kid wouldn’t with all that free candy to feed my sugar addiction?

As an adult, I don’t especially enjoy Halloween. Handing out candy to kids who might ring my doorbell is ok; however, I haven’t had anyone come to my door in four years. Just in case someone shows, I usually scrape up something that I put in my granddaughter’s lunch like granola bars or fruit chews to hand them. I know they would be thrilled to receive such an item.

In my childhood, I lived in the country on a dark, dirt road with few neighbors around. Halloween meant my mom and dad had to come home from working all day and then haul my older brother and me to town so we could trick-or-treat. That couldn’t have been too much fun for them. They always took us to the east end of town because that’s where the good candy was dished out. Some of my favorites were home-made caramel popcorn, Hersey bars and Almond Joy.

When we got home, no one looked through our candy to make sure there were no apples with razor blades or tattoos with LSD. Actually, they didn’t have to because I threw the apples away and unless that tattoo was laced with chocolate, I didn’t pay any attention to it.

I always wanted one of the store-bought costumes to wear, the plastic ones with the mask held on your face with a tiny piece of elastic string.

I don’t remember ever getting a whole outfit (probably because it wouldn’t fit), but I did get a mask and found it to be horrible. It was hot and unless your eyes were positioned exactly like the mask, you couldn’t see anything. I can imagine it was how Jean Louise Finch felt in that ham costume in To Kill a Mockingbird.




My mom got pretty original on a couple of costumes. In the 1960s, the Beetles and other English boy bands were all wearing Indian-inspired clothing. One fashion fad was the Nehru collar on shirts.My mom found two white, polyester knit Nehru jackets, so my brother and I dressed as rock stars.  Another time, she found out how to make me a cloud by cutting arm/neck holes in a pillowcase and then using a zillion tiny safety pins to attach Kleenex tissues. The tissues that didn’t fall off became rather limp as the night went on. I don’t think anyone knew what I was supposed to be.

This is what I thought I looked like in my cloud costume.
Nowadays, kids usually don’t go door to door to trick-or-treat. Everyone is afraid of “stranger danger” and will barely let kids out of our sight, but we still want kids to have the same fun that we did as kids. Therefore, fall carnivals, harvest festivals and trunk-or-treat events are held at community organizations.

Costumes now are so clever, cute and expensive. I would never pay $40 for a costume, and why would I have to when Pinterest holds the ideas and patterns for zillions of them. This year, Stars Wars characters and Minions are tops in adult and kid costumes. Even pets are paraded around in costumes to match their owners. This year, my granddaughter wants a poodle skirt, but instead of a poodle, she wants a dachshund. Then she plans to make a matching skirt for her dachshund to wear and take her along to trick-or-treat. She is sure that she’ll get tons of candy with this cute idea.

In case you haven't gotten your costume yet, here's a chart with all of the top costumes for 2015. There's a nice variety of sweet and scary costumes. 

If you want a good laugh, check out this video of Halloween pranks. I can imagine how scared these people were, but the events made for one truly funny clip:  Halloween Pranks

Happy Halloween everyone. I hope you get lots of candy! 




Monday, October 19, 2015

My Southern Revitalization


I recently returned from a quick trip to visit my mom. She lives in Alabama, my home state. I say home state because it’s not only the state where I was born but also where I lived my first 22 years. It’s still where most of my family lives. It’s where I feel connected because it holds many ghosts from my past.

When I go home, I bond again to a rich Southern culture that is rarely understood by anyone except another Southerner. It has nothing to do with a Confederate flag, the Civil War, slavery, etc. It has everything to do with a good and decent way of life, with drawling speech and with kindness to everyone. This culture may be similar to other parts of the United States or of the world, and I hope it is, but since I have lived my entire life in the South, its culture is what I know.

While driving through the county roads that always need maintenance, I thought about how similar they look to all the times I have driven them before. Sure there are some new buildings along the way, but not much has changed in the rural/county areas. There are still huge pine trees, closely-managed pecan groves, long chicken houses, kudzu vines galore and acres and acres of Southern snow – cotton.

My paternal grandfather was a cotton farmer and paid people to hand pick the cotton that the mechanical picker left behind. They carried huge white cloth sacks that took them forever to fill and they worked all day in the scorching heat. I don’t know how much they were paid, but it probably wasn’t much. Once when I was around six years old, my grandfather told me that he’d pay me $.25 to fill a bag. I picked for about five minutes and left to spend the rest of the day jumping into the cotton-filled wagons.

On my recent trip, I told my fellow traveler, my 10-year-old granddaughter, all about cotton and its importance to the South. I told her that when I was her age, I learned in school about the evil boll weevil, Eli Whitney and his cotton gin, and the cotton farmer’s savior, George Washington Carver and his peanuts. I was taught Alabama history/civics in grades 4, 8 and 10, so I know a lot about the history of the state – every important part from the four major American Indian tribes and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War and slavery to the governor at the time, George C. Wallace.


I learned all of this history of Alabama and of the South, but what does it mean to be Southern? It’s not really one thing I can put my finger on, but I know it’s much more than just being born in one of the states below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Being Southern means worrying and worrying about something for a long time and finally letting go of your worry by telling yourself, “Just turn it over to the Lord.” It’s taking black-eyed peas and a peach cobbler to a church member’s house when his family member dies because food is comfort. It’s killing someone with kindness even though you don’t like the person and you don’t want her to know it, or that person knows you don’t like her and you want her a little bit paranoid. It’s going to church on Sunday or not going and toting a huge load of guilt the rest of the week.

Southern food plays a huge part of the culture. The South is synonymous for fried chicken, turnip greens, corn bread, buttermilk biscuits, fruit cobbler and watermelon. Watching Paula Deen cook is like being in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a kid. Oh my, the food was to die for. Actually, the food caused many early deaths because much of it contained artery-clogging ingredients like lard and sugar.

The people who think Southerners are slow simply because we speak that way are far from wrong. The South is filled with many smart people who are great spokespersons for this culture. Take former President Jimmy Carter, for example. You may not agree with his politics, but he’s one of the most intelligent and highly-educated POTUSs. His legacy is not what he accomplished when he was in office but all that he did to better humanity when he left the Presidency. And he did it all while still teaching Sunday school each Sunday.


My quick trip home revitalized me. Maybe the fields of cotton have the same relaxing effect as sitting by the beach. Maybe those country roads that are always the same allow me to drive automatically so I can mentally relive past events. Maybe going home gives me the chance to visit the ghosts of my past and remember what being a Southerner is all about.



Saturday, October 10, 2015

Getting Rid of My Junk/Treasures





I always love this time of year. October is a great month. Most days, the outside temperature is finally cooler, and it’s nice to be out of the house. The grass has stopped growing so there’s minimal yard work. The green leaves are turning all shades of orange, red and yellow.







I’d have to say that fall is my favorite season.

With the cooler weather here for a few days, my family and I decided to have a yard sale. I have been obsessed with cleaning since I retired. All the miscellaneous items I had thrown in the attic, the under-stair closet, the junk drawers, and the garage were closing in on me. I had to get it out!

I hate having yard sales because I never make any money. I spend weeks dragging items to the garage, deciding what’s to go and what’s to stay, asking my family if they will ever use this item, etc. I've heard of people making hundreds of dollars selling their junk, but I never have, so this time I didn’t even think of the money. My goal was to get the junk/treasures out of my house. Therefore, I sold things that cost me a small fortune for a little of nothing.  For example, a small, new Dooney & Burke bag that I paid over $100 for went for $1.00. I had given it to my daughter as a Christmas gift four years ago, and she had never used it. I had held onto it waiting for her to realize that my taste was better than hers, but alas, I finally gave up.

At my sale, whatever price people offered became the selling price.

My granddaughter made $6.00 selling 

doughnuts and lemonade that cost 
me twice that to buy.
Before the sale began, my daughter helped

place our treasures on makeshift tables.

I really enjoyed talking to potential customers, many of whom had really interesting stories. Some of my treasures brought back memories of items they had once owned that were similar or they told of why they were buying a certain item from me. I heard many tales of what careers people had and of their families. I also got to meet several neighbors who stopped by while on their morning walk.

My sale was from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., and I made a grand total of $157.27. 
Click here to find out about City Walk
At 11:15 a.m., we loaded the leftovers into my husband’s truck and took them to the City Walk Mission Thrift Store. This business supplies food, clothing, etc. to the homeless in the community. I got a tax write-off, and they were happy to get my remaining treasures.

Now I can actually walk into my walk-in attic, my garage shelves are organized, and there’s no more junk in my junk drawers. I vow to keep everything this way, but I’m living with four other people. 

I’m not so sure they will accept the challenge.




Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Am an Advocate!


As a parent of a child with a disability, I have had to learn a whole new language. Because every child has different abilities, I feel like sometimes I’m the only one speaking the language.

Imagine that you have to learn this new language. In your quest to master it, you study 300 different language textbooks giving you vital information as well as web sites/references/links to more vital information. You begin your journey thinking that one day you will pass the exam and know all the words and phrases you need to raise your child. Just when you think you have a handle on everything, you figure out there are several problems:  the language vocabulary/rules keep changing, the lessons get harder and harder, and there’s never a final exam.

Recently, I attended a meeting of parents of children with disabilities. Most of the attendees had middle school age or older children, and we met to exchange ideas on issues we all share.



At the meeting, parents of older children shared information with younger parents about legal guardianship. Because 18 is the legal age of maturation no matter what, a parent of a person with an intellectual disability has to become the legal guardian.

When I was faced with this task, I was overwhelmed. I had to hire an attorney who specialized in elder law. Then my son was appointed an attorney to represent him. Next, he was examined and evaluated by a physician, a nurse and a mental health counselor. Finally, we went before the judge who ruled that I was fit to be my son’s guardian. Funny thing -- I’d already had 18 years being in charge of his well-being and no one seemed to care.

Another legal issue parents at the meeting brought up was the special-needs trust. We can’t die and simply leave our child money. We have to set up a special-needs trust to oversee his money and make sure it’s used for certain items he will use in the future. Otherwise, our children would lose all of their benefits granted by the government which include Medicaid and social security.

An imminent concern with everyone, parent or not, is what happens to this aging population when they finish public school. With better medical treatment, people have longer life expectancy, which is great. But what happens to our adults? If they can’t handle a job, do they just sit at home and let their world get smaller and smaller? There is a huge need for more adult day programs where these adults can interact with their peers and role models. In Tallahassee, most of the existing places are at capacity and can’t take more clients.



I don’t consider myself a really smart person, but I’m lucky that over my son’s 28 years, I have been able to figure out most of this new language, but it’s not been an easy program of study. I’ve made mistakes and made many people angry in my insistence of getting what’s best for my son. When he was younger, I remember going up against some state agency to get them to do something for him. I told my son’s school principal about the situation and apologized for being such a bitch. Her response is something I’ll never forget. She said, “You are not a bitch. You are an advocate.”

These parents who met recently are great advocates who are still on their quest to learn this very difficult language and are also eager to tutor those coming after us. We aren't going away.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Things that Make You Go Hmmm"

Things that Make You Go Hmmm

This song from the early 1990s by C+C Music Factory came to mind this week. I had a couple of experiences that were sort of like someone had been pulling the wool over my eyes for a long time. Now they were showing me exactly how things in my life are or could be. I’m not so sure I like all of this clarity.

In the song, the singer has several experiences that make him question the results of some action. For example, he tells in one verse how he let his best friend move in with him. The singer’s wife becomes pregnant and when the baby is born, it looks a lot like the best friend. That’s what makes him go hmmm

My hmmm experiences weren’t as racy as the singer's were.

This week, I accompanied someone to physical therapy. I’m not talking about the physical therapy most people think of when they hear the words. There were no sharp-looking athletes with torn rotator cuffs, no tennis stars with tennis elbow, no soccer players with a torn meniscus. No, 80% of the people in this rehab facility were senior citizens. Many were attached to wheelchairs, walkers or canes. Most had helpers with them to help them even get to and from the rehab center.

I sat there all smug, thinking that I won’t be one of those people. After all, I was somewhat young and pretty active, but was that enough?  The therapist said that as most people get older, they tend to make their movements smaller because they are worried about falling or hurting themselves. Those smaller movements are actually more dangerous because our bodies are designed to walk at a certain gait and to reach and stretch in all different directions.

I thought about my actions lately. I do stop and consider the results of standing on a ladder or chair or of moving too quickly in the wrong direction. I always thought that I was being careful because I have so many people depending on me; I can’t afford to be sick or hurt. However, maybe my actions are because I’m actually older and more aware of my aches and pains.



My second hmmm event happened when I went to my bridge class. Yes, my bridge class. Before I retired, I said I was going to learn to play bridge because that’s something that retired people do. Playing it is supposed to keep the mind sharp. It must work because I know a lot of older bridge players and can count on one hand the number of younger people I know who play.

During the class, I looked at all of the people sitting around me, some of whom had about 20+ years on me. I thought, “Do I look like that?” “Am I really old?”

For the past 35 years, I have been around teenagers all day. Their antics kept me knowledgeable about trending events, about new music or about just popular culture in general. Now I’m around people on the opposite end of the age spectrum. They talk about what’s happening in the news, the prices of gas and groceries, doctor visits and their aches and pains.

I’m adjusting to lots of life changes now. Without work, I have time to notice others and listen to them more. I have the extra time to think about and act on my hmmm moments. I came home from physical therapy and turned on a yoga program on TV and even did a couple of sun salutations and forward bends. It felt good just doing that much. Tomorrow I’ll add a few more moves. In a month or two, I’ll be posting pictures of me standing on my head.


This week, I realized that I’ve got to get my body moving and stretching while also strengthening my mind. Somehow, I rather quickly became one of the older folks.

(Note: Here's a link to the song's video if you are interested:  C+C Music Factory)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sometimes I Just SMH*!



I’ve lived through a bunch of years (57) and have been in a classroom with outrageous teenagers for over half my life (35), so I didn’t think I could be shocked by much anymore. I’ve had and observed many shocking experiences just by being alive and in the line of work I was in; however, now that I have time to sit and think about events, I tend to have that jaw-dropping feeling more often. Some of the recent events follow:

Shocker #1

The Presidential candidates – How is it that in the “greatest country in the world,” the really strange people run for president? Is it scary to you or am I just too old or maybe too liberal? I look at the list of candidates and can’t believe that people would actually vote for some of these people. When I voiced my opinion about Donald Trump to my mom, she said that Trump was another George Wallace. People of her generation were impressed with how forceful Wallace was in his bids for the Alabama governorship and presidency, but people in my generation remember Wallace for his fanaticism about race. Voters in the present generation only remember Wallace from the small clip in the movie Forrest Gump. 













In this country, anyone can run for political office if she/he meets the qualifications, and that’s great! However, when I think of Trump as President, all I can visualize is his possible meeting with Kim Jong-un for a nuclear peace agreement. Trump starts his normal ranting and raving and then simply walks out of the meeting. He reminds me of little kids on the playground who get mad at their friends and stomp off while saying, “I’m taking my toys and going home!”

Shocker #2

The cost of cancer treatment in America – A few months ago, my husband went through a series of radiation and chemotherapy treatments for a cancerous area in his lung. That’s all over and done, but now the benefit statements from the insurance company have shown up in the mail over the last couple of weeks. He doesn’t even open them to see how much his medical treatments cost because he has two insurance policies that cover everything. I always open them just to see how much these medical charges total. Having never paid for cancer treatment, I must tell you that I was totally shocked at the amounts.

My husband had 38 radiation sessions. Each treatment lasted about 10 minutes. The cost of each treatment was $2,530.80 for a grand total of $96,170.40. The cost of one of his four chemotherapy treatments was $15,732.81 for a total of $62,931.24. These costs do not include doctors’ fees or any pharmaceutical supplies.





I’ve written about the costs of medical care in this “greatest country in the world” in an earlier post, but I’m still shocked that these charges are so much. How does a family with no insurance pay bills like this? I’m not talking about the poor people who are fortunate enough to have Medicaid. I’m talking about the middle-class family who can’t afford insurance or who has the minimum policy required now.

This post isn’t supporting one Presidential candidate or political party over another (but I’m a Democrat who has only once voted for a Republican because he was my former student and I didn’t vote for him for re-election). As Americans we have the right to choose whomever we want. I just hope, like many generations before me have hoped, that the voters study the platform of the candidate and don’t vote according to theatrical actions they see in the media. This election may be real life, but it’s not reality TV.


When deciding your candidate, check out what he/she has planned for healthcare. The older you get, the more important it will be to you. 

(*SMH -- Shake My Head)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Oh, Our First-World Problems!

Every morning, I have the duty of taking my granddaughter to school. Yesterday, as I waited in the never-ending drop-off line of mini-vans, I caught myself listening to morning FM radio. I don’t like morning FM radio because it’s too much talk and not enough music, so I quickly flip through stations. One program caught my attention because the DJ asked listeners to call in and share their First World Problems (FWPs). These responses were pretty funny because they made me think about how trivial these “problems” are.



One woman explained that she was in her first year of medical residency. She had worked the night before and was upset that she couldn’t get any sleep at home that day. Her reason: the maid cleaning her house was too noisy.


Another person said her problem was that the automatic doors on her mini-van no longer work; therefore, she has to manually open and close the doors.


One caller said how aggravated she gets when all of the treadmills at the gym are taken.

Later that day, I was walking behind my self-propelled lawn mower and realized that I wasn’t wearing my FitBit. I was irritated that I couldn’t record all the steps I was taking so that I could get that little bit of self-gratification when I saw the total. Ugh! I had just experienced a FWP!

While I had all the extra time of steering the mower so it could cut the grass with little effort from me, I remembered a picture I saw recently of Melinda Gates. In the photo taken in Malawi, Gates carried a 5-gallon tub of water on her head the way Malawi women have to do in order to get fresh water. The woman walking next to Gates carried 10-gallons on her head.



A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. Even with my non-mathematical brain, I could do the math. That’s 80 pounds the Malawi woman was carrying.

I considered what her neck and shoulders must feel like after a trek to get clean water and how careful she had to be not to slosh the water out of the open bucket. Also, carrying it in an open container doesn’t guarantee that the water will be clean when she gets home.

Oh, we in this First World country are definitely spoiled. We have clean water piped into our houses and don’t think a thing about it. We will let the faucet flow freely while brushing our teeth and stand in a hot shower until the water runs cold.

Should I feel guilty or proud that I have all of this?

We make fun of ourselves with our FWPs which is fine if it makes us consider how silly we sound; however, what do we do to make ourselves feel better – send money, go to a meeting or write a letter? Go to a 3rd World country for a week and volunteer to carry water or help build a church?

I don’t know what I could do to help in this area, but I can identify with something Melinda Gates said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. When asked why she was personally taking on issues with women, she said, “I turned 50 this year, and there’s something about turning 50. It’s kind of funny, but you can see the end of your life, you start to realize you’re on the back half of the life. And, so, I look there and say, “Well, what do I want to get accomplished in the next 30 years?” And by gosh, I better make sure I’m doing that.”


I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. I am not urging you to get up off the couch and go save the world because I don’t know that I will do anything. I just have a lot of options and ideas about helping others. I’ll start small, probably in my own First World neighborhood, and try not to complain about all of my so-called problems. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I'm on My Honeymoon!




One week of real retirement is done, and I hope I have a zillion more.

When I first started working in 1980, I didn’t have time to consider retirement. As my career continued and I saw colleagues put in their time, I wondered what real retirement would feel like. Let me tell you, it’s not just lying around and doing nothing. My friends have said that what they found about retirement is that they don’t see how they ever worked because their lives are so busy. After only a week, I’m believe them.

Psychologists determined that retirement is one of life’s major transitions, and like love and grief, has emotional phases that people go through. In 2000, professor and author Robert Atchley labeled the phases of retirement:

1.  Pre-retirement
2.  The Big Day
3.  Honeymoon Phase
4.  Disenchantment
5.  Reorientation
6.  Routine

I’ve passed through the planning and saving of stage 1 and really felt the love in stage 2.

Right now I’m in the honeymoon phase of bragging about not having to set an alarm clock to all of my former colleagues. Although I'm happy that I'm not having to make lesson plans or grade essays, to me the best part of being retired is not having to pick out clothes to wear to work. 

I’m carrying out many of the major plans I made during the last few years of work. These plans are mainly concerning my house and yard.

I know the yard work will never be completed, but I tackle a couple of yard projects each day and then usually jump into the pool to cool off. At times like these, my pool is worth every cent it costs. 

For a year, I have planned for some updates to the pool – new liner, salt filtration, steps, etc. Finding someone to do the work has been an ongoing problem. I talked with five different businesses last fall and only one gave me a bid. This week I called another pool repair business, and the man told me he was really busy but he would get with me next week. What the heck?

This week, I’ve had two contractors come to see about remodeling my kitchen. There’s nothing wrong with my kitchen except that it’s 35 years old. The way I see it, this is the last kitchen I’ll ever have so I’m going to spruce it up and make it something I’ll enjoy for my remaining stages of retirement.

 










The hard part is deciding what I want to change. I'm overwhelmed with all the ideas on Pinterest and Houzz. I’m afraid to make a decision about cabinets and counters because I don’t know how it will turn out. There are many trends in kitchens like glass backsplashes, can lights, granite countertops. 












My
husband pointed out that everyone thinks he/she should have granite counters but that trend has been around for about ten years. He thinks now everyone will start tearing them out. The same with stainless appliances -- he and I have both lived through coppertone, avocado, and harvest-gold colored appliances, so he might be right in his theory. 









I’ll get cost estimates from the contractors next week. That’s when I’ll have to decide what trend I’ll go with.

The attic and garage are in line for proper cleanings when the weather cools. I have been keeping the attic door closed for the past few years. After I park my van, I walk through the garage with blinders on to avoid the accumulation of treasures. I always figured it wasn't so bad since I could still park my van in it.

I'm not sure when the disenchantment stage will hit me, but I'm confident that it will. 

During my short time of retirement, I've already figured out that retirement is fantastic if you have lots of money to spend. If I had piles of money, I'd always be in the honeymoon stage. Money may not buy love or happiness, but it can pay for lots and lots of happy experiences which can keep you happy, or at least in avoidance, for a long time.