Monday, June 2, 2014

The Great Summer Road Trip



We're leaving this week on our first extended road trip in the RV.  Although we don't have a small yappy dog like many of our road tripping retired peers, we do have the appropriate wardrobe of casual wear so we can blend into the crowds.  I will not, however, be wearing socks with my sandals!

Those of you who have been following along know that every summer our grandchildren come to Oregon to stay with us.  This summer they will be with us until August.  We are leaving in the RV this week to drive from Oregon to South Dakota to pick them up.  Although they live in Texas, they are attending a family reunion in Iowa and for some reason my daughter decided that Mount Rushmore would be a good meeting point to hand them over to us.

Last week Hunter asked her mother why she and their father didn't spend more time with them in Oregon in the summer.  My daughter explained that although Hunter and her sister had the summer off from school, Mommy and Daddy still had to work.  To which Hunter replied with an astonished "WHAT??"

Yes, Hunter, the majority of the world still has to work.  The exceptions are kids and retired people.  One of the joys of retirement has been having the ability to spend time with my grandchildren who live far from Oregon in Texas.  We spend the summer camping, fishing, and exploring Oregon.  This summer we are venturing out on the open road.  In addition to Mount Rushmore we will visit Yellowstone.  We have no timeline and plan to stop whenever we see anything interesting.  Life is too short to waste a summer.  We'll be making memories on the road.  I hope we'll be able to find wifi and can post updates on our adventures.  

Be sure to wave if you see us on the road!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Where Does The Fox Live?



A month ago my son saw a fox in the backyard.  It's always exciting to have a visit from wildlife.  Just this month we've had deer, osprey, and foxes visit us.  Two weeks ago the foxes moved in.  

Where does the fox live?  The whole family, two adults and four kits have established themselves under our garden shed.  The first week they moved in was rather exciting.  We enjoyed catching glimpses of them as they crossed the yard.  One evening we stood on our front porch and watched the kits play on the lawn.  While they are still elusive, they have grown accustomed to our coming and going.  Our foxes are not red, but have mottled coloring.  The state fish and game officer told us they are not indigenous to Oregon, but were brought here by someone hoping to raise them for their fur.  They escaped and are now growing in population.  There is a concern that cross breeding with the native fox population will damage the indigenous bloodline.

It's a growing family...and the kits have to eat.  The field in front of the shed is scattered with abandoned carcasses and feathers.  This morning I was on my hands and knees weeding the flower beds in front of the house, I glanced through the split rail fence and three feet in front of me was the carcass of a dead pheasant, the rib cage picked clean and glinting in the sun.  Last week there was a dead possum in front of the shed.  Every day there is at least one dead chicken and their feathers are everywhere.  We've asked our close neighbors if they are missing chickens, but apparently our foxes are hunting outside the neighborhood.

What started as an interesting sighting, isn't so much fun now...what with all the dead bodies and all.  The spouse filled in the holes to their den with dirt and concrete.  The state fish and game officer told us that would encourage them to move on.  It didn't.  They came home and dug new holes under the shed and brought more dead animals with them.

I worry about the quail that are nesting in the back garden.  I haven't seen the newly hatched chicks for several days.  They may have become appetizers for the foxes.  I hope we can encourage the foxes to leave before all our birds are gone.

I now know what the fox says...they bark like a dog, but only one short bark.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z Is For Zip Line

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...


In February the spouse and I took a cruise through the Panama Canal.  Along the way we stopped at various ports in Mexico,Costa Rica, and Columbia.  

The spouse and I lived in Costa Rica for three months when we were in training for the Peace Corps. Our training center was a coffee farm outside of San Jose and our classrooms were converted chicken coops.  We had enjoyed our time in Costa Rica and were looking forward to seeing what had changed in the thirty plus years since we were last there.  We found the people just as friendly as we remembered and the country much more modern, but that might be because we were visiting tourist hot spots!

We went to a rain forest preserve to zip-line.  We didn't see much wildlife, no monkeys in the trees, but we did see a kotimundi in the bushes.  There were 18 people in our group from the ship and the spouse and I were probably the youngest participants.  We rode a gondola to the top of the hill through the rain forest.
That green and yellow thing is the gondola going down the mountain.

At the top we rode a series of zip-lines down to the bottom.  Here's the spouse ready to zip!



At the end of each zip-line we hiked to the next line.



One of the members of our group cut her hand when she grabbed the cable.  That backed up the line for awhile and it was HOT!  I found a shady spot on the trail to sit out the wait.

And then I zipped to the bottom...


video

I actually have a short video of me on the zip-line, but Blogger isn't uploading it.  Trust me...it was pretty cool!

...and this brings us to the end of the A to Z Challenge!  This is the second year I have managed to finish the challenge.  I will be back to my regular/irregular postings.  Thanks for joining me as I worked my way through the alphabet and thanks to the A to Z organizers who created this opportunity.  Let's do it again next April!




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is For Yes!

All this month I have been working my way through the alphabet on the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is 
For Yes!

My friend Linda at Thoughts From a Bag Lady in Waiting says on the sidebar to her blog that her life in retirement is "an opportunity to say yes!"  I love the idea that retirement is the time to do all those things that we didn't allow ourselves to do before.  

Once I retired I no longer had the excuse that I didn't have time.  I had to face up to the fact that things didn't get done because I chose not to do them.  There were no external forces holding me back. I find it surprising that it took me all these years to figure this one out.  There have been very few real barriers in my life.  What holds me back is myself and my own perceived limitations.  It's almost always easier to say No.  It can become an automatic response.  It's difficult to break a life-long habit.  I'd like to follow Linda's example and make conscious decisions.  I won't always say yes, but I'd like to make sure that it's an option.

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xanthippe

All this month I've been participating in the A to Z Challenge.  We're down to the last three letters.  Today's letter is 
for Xanthippe

I'm sure that every other A to Z participant has a better X idea, but this is the best I could do.  Here's your vocabulary education for the day...

Xanthippe:   noun; a nagging, ill-tempered woman.
Etymology: After Xanthippe the wife of Socrates who has been portrayed as a nagging, quarrelsome woman.

I'm sure that Socrates would not have achieved the success that he did without Xanthippe.  Perhaps the saying should be, "Behind every successful man is a Xanthippe."



Sunday, April 27, 2014

W is for Wages

The finish line is in sight for the A to Z Challenge.  Nana has a good chance of being a winner!  Every day this month I have been blogging my way through the alphabet.  Today's letter is


For Wages

When we were first married the spouse and I lived paycheck to paycheck.  As the years went by, we got better jobs and earned more money.  Although we never had excessive expendable income, we managed to save a little.  We've always lived within our means.  We never carried more debt than our mortgage and car payments...and we paid those off early.  I guess you could call us frugal.  When the kids graduated from college, and we paid off our mortgage, we were comfortably situated...and we retired.

We are no longer wage earners.  That took some getting used to!  We do nothing, and money is deposited in our accounts every month.  It's like winning Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, except it's a lot less money.

There's still a voice inside that tells me that I can't spend money on frivolous things like vacations.  I know this isn't a rational thought. There's no reason I can't use retirement income for "extras," but the tightwad in me doesn't let that idea get out of the planning stages.  So now I have a sideline job.  My wages from my part-time writing gig pay for our travels and let me enjoy them guilt-free.  

I know how fortunate I am.  I have acquaintances who live on only social security.  They are one accident away from financial ruin because they have no safety net.  

One of the scary things about being retired is that our income dangles on the whims of the government.  My state pension can be "realigned," my income drastically reduced, and for many in this situation, there is no option to return to the work that they gave up when they accepted their retirement package.

So, for now, I guess I'll keep plugging away with my part-time job. Perhaps someday I'll get to the point that I will trust that I am really, truly able to retire and leave the work for wages world behind.

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for the Vashonistas

All this month it's the A to Z Challenge where I write a post every day except Sunday and work my way through the alphabet from A to Z.  Today's letter is

For the Vashonistas

I started to blog the year after I retired.  I soon found myself welcomed into the blogging community.   I started following other retired bloggers.  Many of us followed the same blogs and had similar lifestyles and experiences...these were my people!  One of the unexpected benefits of blogging has been finding new friends.

Several years ago my friend Linda at Thoughts From a Bag Lady in Waiting suggested that our little group of cyber-friends should meet in the real world.  We took a risk, jumped into the unknown, and met for the first time on Vashon Island in Washington state.

We rented a charming farm house that overlooks the water.  We had great meals, walked the beach, got to know each other...and I laughed until the tears rolled down my face.

left to right: Sally, Sandi, Deb, Linda, me in the back, and DJan


We decided to do it again last year.  In October we met once again at the same farm house on Vashon.


The back porch of "our" house

We have breakfast at the same restaurant every year.  On the left:  Sandi, me, Linda.  On the right: Sally, DJan, Deb

The view from the back porch overlooks the lavender  fields to the water below.


The end of a great weekend.  Taken in the living room.  Front l to r Deb, Linda, DJan.  Rear Sandi, me, Sally

I don't remember who first called us "Vashonistas," but the name stuck.  We're going to do it again this fall.  Now it's a tradition.  I am blessed that the Internet brought these fascinating, accomplished, and fun women into my life.  You can visit them by clicking on their names:

Deb, who writes with warmth and insight and never takes a bad photo

Linda, who always has something to teach me and is a great example of continuing to contribute in retirement

DJan, who at 70 just broke a world record in skydiving and is a role model for being an active senior

Sandi, who cooks our fantastic meals that taste good even though they are healthy!

Sally, who comes the farthest for our reunions and shares her heart

No, you can't join us.  The house only has six bedrooms.







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