Saturday, August 29, 2015


I submitted the paperwork at the end of last year for my retirement from the university where I worked and I started receiving my monthly checks right after the first of the year. 

A couple of months ago Tom and I submitted our paperwork for our Social Security and not only did we receive our first check, but we both received a lump sum equal to 6 months back pay.  A really nice big chunk. 

Tom had always said he was going to wait until he was 70 to retire and even then he thought he would work part time. But so much has happened in the last 6 months or so to change his mind. The last straw was the time we were able to spend with our granddaughters this summer. He began to realize he'd rather be traveling and enjoying himself than working. 

When that big chunk of money hit the bank account, reality hit like a ton of bricks. At first Tom started only working half days. Then when jobs got delayed or schedules were rearranged, rather than work another job into his schedule, he'd take the whole day off. If you know Tom, you know he just doesn't do that. He gets too antsy and generally feels completely unproductive. 

No one has been more shocked than me. 

He's trying to decide how he's going to close the shop. He's comparing sheds to hold what tools he plans to keep. He started removing the signage from his van. Yesterday he came home about noon and proudly stated that he had removed the letters from the back doors and the large staircase logo from one side. Today he will remove the one on the other side. 

Last week Tom suggested attending a Silver Sneakers class together at the gym and maybe go for walks together. I was momentarily stunned. 

He's started reading more often. He takes more time to do the yard work. Maybe one day he will do the back yard and do the front yard the next day. If he's home for the day, he makes the bed before I even have my second cup of coffee. That works out fine for me. It's when he gets a little antsy and follows me around the kitchen asking if there's something he can do to help that I have to tell him in my stern voice to take a seat elsewhere and stop bugging me. But those times are fewer than they were initially. 

So we have another trip planned to California in September. In October Tom's oldest sister is coming out from California and we'll spend several days in Hot Springs visiting. And we have another trip planned to Florida in December. We're looking at work camps for next year. Campgrounds all over the U.S. provide a free campsite in exchange for a 15 hour work week doing light maintenance or office work with a three month or more commitment. 

Who knows what we will wind up doing. Whatever it is, we won't be kissing each other good-bye every morning as we head off to work. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Some Things Friday for January 16, 2015

We picked up Mackenzie from the shelter late Wednesday afternoon. She had been spayed earlier in the day, so she was pretty loopy recovering from the anesthesia.

As you can see, she is apparently crate trained. When we went to bed Wednesday night, Tom put her new bed in the crate in our bedroom and she walked right in, fell asleep almost instantly, and slept through the night.

What we've learned about Mackenzie in barely 48 hours:

1. She has little to no idea what dog food is, but if we head to the kitchen cabinets or refrigerator and she is at our feet, tail wagging in anticipation, waiting to be fed any human morsel we are willing to share. We're not willing. This does not please her. We started her off Wednesday afternoon with a cup of kibble in her bowl and 48 hours later over a half of a cup remains. All that people food she's been used to eating has made her fat. She's too fat, eighteen pounds, and could stand to lose about six or eight pounds at the very least.

2. She may have been housebroken, but we've had two "accidents" in two days. This appears to be precipitated by excitement and/or anxiety. It's as if she has no control. We will have to work on that.

3. She wasn't given a lot of affection or attention by her previous owner. It's not that she's afraid or timid. She just doesn't seem to care one way or another. However, if we make a specific effort to pet her or pay attention to her, she seems to enjoy it. Otherwise she is content to go back into her crate and sleep most of the day away. But we'll keep trying to socialize her more.

4. For no apparent reason, she will begin walking in circles, always to her left.

5. The shelter described her as Lhasa Apso mix, but in the original photo taken at the shelter, she looks like Gizmo, a Shih Tzu we had about 25 years ago. Mackenzie was groomed while in the shelter and the groomer cut most of her coat away because her hair was matted and dirty. Now she looks completely different. The groomer told the shelter staff that she was probably a Lhasa/Pomeranian mix. We might just have to do a doggy DNA test for a definitive answer.

So, now for Some Things Friday...

Some Things I Love:
  • Sunshine
  • Finally finding a new doctor who looks at me when he's talking to me, performs a thorough exam, and provides many alternatives on how to proceed. Thanks to my friend Tammy for recommending Dr. Lea. My doctor's appointment yesterday went really well, but we'll know more when the blood work results come back.
  • Pedicures
  • Finishing paying bills and filing the invoices away.
  • Only 63 days until Spring!!!

Some Things I Hate:
  • Cold weather. And the older I get, the more I hate it.
  • Walking on my treadmill in the garage instead of walking outside.
  • Not living near a coastline.
  • The Republican National Committee just announced there will be at least nine GOP presidential debates and as many as twelve. One clown show is all I can tolerate. Twelve is tantamount to torture, which is unconstitutional.
  • Rand Paul makes my skin crawl. That is all.

Some Things I Just Don't Get:
  • Ted Cruz, a climate science denier, was appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. {Head meet desk.}
  • When Fox News says "More blacks kill blacks than whites". And somehow that makes white cop gun-happy racism okay? {My desk is getting a work out and my forehead is starting to hurt.}
  • This Georgia pastor prays for the opportunity to kill first.
  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (oh, yes, I'm so freaking proud) has criticized President and Mrs. Obama's parenting skills because they allow their daughters to listen to Beyonce. Perhaps he shouldn't be so quick to judge someone else's parenting skills. In 1998 Huckabee's then 18 year old son, while working as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp (you know, as a mentor and role model for younger boy scouts), tortured a stray dog by hanging it from a tree, threw rocks at it in an attempt to beat it to death, and finally slit the dog's throat. Someone please tell me what kind of parenting skills it takes to raise a child who would do such a horrible thing. Oh, and yes, the Boy Scout camp director apparently thought it wasn't the best example for younger boys and his son was fired from his job.
  • And finally, this.....

Monday, January 12, 2015

Changing Our Reality

Where do I begin? Florida is a good place.

We left Arkansas on December 16th, first to South Carolina then on to Florida for a little over 2-1/2 weeks. Except for a couple of days of spotty rain, the weather was glorious. We ate fish of every kind imaginable for lunch and dinner, except for when our son Chris cooked. He and Kelly had returned from a trip to Belize the week before and he came back with a spice mix, Recado, and made the most delicious stewed chicken I've ever eaten in my entire life. For Christmas dinner he whipped up a pepper crusted pork loin roast with an apricot glaze and a pan of rustic mushroom risotto. Christmas dinners at their house are almost always non-traditional and I love it.

I got a much needed pedicure and my granddaughter Hagan opted for a full set of acrylic nails. Tom opted not to participate although he was invited.

And we slept. The first couple of nights were a little rough. KOA campgrounds are almost always situated on a frontage road of some major highway. The first night was no exception. Interstate 20 at one end of the campground and a railroad track at the other end. A train whistle at 4:30 am. Enough said. Each night after that sleeping was better and most days we didn't get out of bed until 7:30 or 8:00 am, an anomaly for those of us used to starting our day around 6:00 without an alarm clock. I haven't slept that soundly and felt that rested in months.

The gulf was a beautiful bright blue. The air was warm. Pelicans, blue herons, egrets, seagulls and ducks greeted us everywhere we went. The mullet were running so there were lots of boats bobbing out in the water. We talked about everything, laughed, cried, hugged, kissed and snuggled. It was perfect. In every way.

We've been home since the evening of January 2nd. I haven't put on a pair of flip-flops since. The footwear norm is ultra thick hiking socks and my feet are still cold.

It was harder to come home this time than any previous visit. Tom has been talking more and more of retirement. I finally submitted my retirement papers before we left. It's getting closer to being a reality. And it feels really good.

I need to make an appointment with another doctor to address some potentially serious health issues. I cannot go back to the doctor I've been seeing. I don't really trust him or his staff. They continue to blow off my symptoms. I received a doctor recommendation from a friend and I will follow up this week. I found the doctor I'd seen for over 15 years as a result of a recommendation from a friend. I'm hoping this turns out the same way.

We're picking up our new furry family member sometime on Wednesday after she is spayed. The shelter staff found out her name is Mackenzie. Being a HUGE fan of The Newsroom, we will add a middle name: McHale, after the character Mackenzie McHale, the Executive Producer of News Night. What a fun coincidence. We've visited Mackenzie three times already and can't wait to bring her home. Bed, food and water dishes, leash and collar, dog food and training treats await her. Pictures coming the end of this week.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting Ready

Well, most of my Christmas shopping is done. Now I need to get stuff shipped. I think I'm going to pass on doing a ton of baking this year. I'd have to squeeze it all into this week and I just don't know if I want to pressure myself that much.

Tom is having The Bea$t de-winterized this coming Friday. We'll load it up over the weekend and take off on Tuesday for South Carolina where we'll stay until Saturday, then head out for Florida for two full weeks.

We've made some nice changes to The Bea$t. It is so much nicer and feels more like "Us."

The first change we made was to the bedroom. It went from this....

To this...

I couldn't find a photo of the old television. It was a really old one that required a analog to digital converter. Gone and replaced with an HD flat screen.

Next was the mirror backsplash behind the sink, counter and stove. I'm not all that fond of constantly seeing myself reflected while cooking or washing dishes, or even catching a glimpse of myself across the walkway sitting at the dining table. It's a little unnerving.

So Tom pulled it off and now it looks a lot cleaner. We also replaced the faucet.

The biggest project so far was the flooring. The light blue carpeting was stained, ugly and difficult to clean.

We opted for a vinyl peel and stick tile that looks like driftwood. I like it so much better.

So there you have it. Oh wait. We made one more little change.

The Bea$t has tons of storage. So much so that we have a hard time filling up all the drawers, closets and pantry shelves. Tom decided to take one of these drawers in the hallway and convert it...

I mean, we couldn't possibly be expected travel without a decent wine cellar could we?

I think we're ready to travel.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blowfish, Emergency Rooms and Hope

It's been several months since I've written anything here. I've pretty much made myself scarce on most social media. I'm sick of all the negativity and vitriol which increased tenfold leading up to the elections. It permeated both sides of the political spectrum. Even Tom has withdrawn from some social media by deleting the Facebook app from his phone.

I read an article this morning in the Business Insider, Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits, those being kindness and generosity. Unlike Ebola apparently, there's clearly not a lot of that going around.

We are about to embark on winter. Tom had The Bea$t winterized yesterday in anticipation of some freezing temperatures. When I got up this morning it was 64 degrees and within the last two hours the temperature has dropped 10 degrees. You know how I hate winter. Meteorologists aren't calling it a Polar Vortex this year, or at least not yet. My Weather app refers to it as "Relentless Arctic Outbreak." Sounds like an ominous case of acne.

On the up side, today is my fourth day without pain and meds. Whoo Hoo! It's been a rough couple of weeks. First with a severe allergic reaction to some unknown allergen that caused by lips to swell up like a blowfish and the skin around them turn bright red. I was mortified and there wasn't a lot of sensitivity going on at my doctor's office that afternoon. The most the nurse practitioner could muster was, "Whoa!" and "If you start to have trouble breathing, come on back." Yeah, okay.

After the steroid shot, I headed to the pharmacy in the huge Kroger monstrosity in my backyard. I used the entrance closest to the drug counter so I wouldn't frighten everyone shopping for milk, eggs and bread, or worse yet, terrify the store manager, who would then call the fire department Ebola isolation team to have me quarantined.

I grabbed a box of Benedryl from the shelf and took it to the pharmacy check out, where I encountered the pharmacy tech and pharmacist, both of whom oozed sensitivity and concern. It was a nice change of pace, but I wasn't in the mood to linger in a public place for any length of time.

"Are you okay?"

"No." I wanted to add, Obviously not, but I wisely refrained.

"Have you seen your doctor?"

"Yes, just came from there and had a steroid shot."

"Do you know what you're allergic to? Did they do an allergy panel?"

"No and no."

"Well are they going to do an allergy panel?"

"No, that would mean they actually cared." Yes, I did say that. I wasn't feeling quite like myself... or maybe I was feeling exactly like myself. It was hard to tell.

"You've taken Bendryl before, right?"

"Nope. Never have. I gave it to my kids periodically when they were growing up, but I've never taken it myself."

"Did your doctor give you any instructions for taking it?"

"That would be a hell no." Yes, I said that, too.

As the pharmacy tech rang up my purchase, the pharmacist proceeded to educate me on proper dosage, then said, "You've had a pretty severe allergic reaction. If you start feeling like your throat or tongue is swelling or closing up or you start feeling like it's hard to breathe, go to the emergency room right away, okay?"

"Yes, I will. Thank you."

The swelling went down considerably within a day or so, but the red rashy skin around my lips lingered and peeled and lingered and peeled and lingered and peeled. It was disgusting.

Just a few days after the Blowfish Incident, I got a spasm in my back. I've had them periodically over the last 30 years or so, but this was the worst it's ever been. I didn't have any pain pills left, but I had plenty of muscle relaxers so I started taking those. They didn't help. At all. I sat with my back against a massage cushion for hours on end until the skin on my back was rubbed raw. And I couldn't sleep through the pain. Finally after two days of pain and no sleep for 24 hours, at 2:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, unable to tolerate any further misery or massaging, I asked Tom to take me to the Emergency Room.

Two hours later, with a shot of Demerol in my hip and a prescription for painkillers in my hand, we headed for home. The Demerol did little to relieve the pain, but it eased it somewhat and made me sleepy. But as soon as the pharmacy opened, I headed over to have my painkiller prescription filled. I dropped it off at the drop off window, then settled into a chair in the small waiting area to rest while it was being filled. The rash around my mouth was still bright red and peeling in places so I kept my head tilted down feigning deep interest in Facebook and Twitter on my phone.

The pharmacy tech who checked me out was the same one from the Blowfish Incident. He recognized me (hard not to....not too many old women running around with what looks like a nasty and highly contagious disease).

"Wow. You are really having trouble with that. Has your doctor determined what it is you're allergic to?"

"Nope. They haven't tried."

He just shook his head.

I paid for my pills and headed to my car. I had taken a muscle relaxer just before I left home and I had a bottle of water in my car, so I immediately took a pain pill. It took all of 120 seconds to get home, pull into the garage and walk through the house to the living room couch. Within 45 minutes I was sound asleep. Thank God!

But as I mentioned, this one was a bad one. And a very stubborn one. For a week and a half, it would seemingly go away, then come back, then go away, then come back. Just when I was ready to go to the doctor and plead for a steroid or Botox shot in my back, it finally healed. Today is the fourth day with no pain without meds. Yay me!

And last Thursday I went back to my doctor for my "wellness" visit. The nurse practitioner actually noticing the lingering redness around my lips, "Hmmmm. Do you know what you're allergic to?"

"No. I have no idea."

"Well, we'll probably never know."

"Nope." And taking a que from the pharmacist, I added, "Not unless we do an allergy panel."

"Yeah, well, it could be anything. Obviously it's something you're ingesting," she said, completely dismissing my remark.

At the end of my visit, she said she would call in a prescription for a steroid cream.

When I paid for my pain pills for my back, I also bought a tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy and began using it consistently for about a week and it seemed to work really well so by the time I picked up the steroid cream I only used it once. So now I am pain-free and rash-free.

So that's my couple of months in a nutshell.

Oh wait. One more thing. We got a dog. Her name is Hope and she is a rescue from Arkansas Paws in Prison. She's a black German shepherd that was supposedly trained as a service dog, however, we're finding out that she's pretty independent and that's why she wasn't placed with someone who is confined to a wheelchair.

I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about her.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Falling Into Place??

The ad for our travel trailer went live on Craigslist this afternoon.

We're looking to buy this motorhome:

 photo rv_zpsc95906cd.jpg

Yes, it's just a photo of the couch and dinette areas. The slideout is open, so it looks pretty spacious. It shows some wear but nothing we can't fix or change with time. And a huge plus is that it doesn't smell like cigarette smoke!

If you'd like to see the rest of the photos, you can find them HERE

It's an older one, 1998. We'll do a little work on it, like get rid of the light blue carpeting (I'm not a fan)and replace it with wood flooring; replace the closet doors; remove the mirror backsplash behind the sink and stove and replace it with a nice looking formica; plus some general clean up.

Next step is to buy another smaller car we can tow behind the RV and sell the Expedition.

If everything pans out and we take possession this month, Tom wants to take a short trip sometime in October. I don't know where we will go, but I don't think very far or for very long. We're saving our off time for the holidays. Rest assured though, we'll be going somewhere in our near future.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Let The Fun Begin...

I haven't posted in quite a while. I've still been writing, just not here.

We had a glorious two week vacation in Florida in June and spent a couple of extra days in South Carolina visiting our niece and nephew. We hated to come home. Retirement can't come soon enough for me. But if we're going to travel some, we need to make other arrangements besides our little travel trailer. I think I mentioned in a previous post that we were going to look at motorhomes. Certainly not the huge brand new ones. Tom has his eye on an older one that has low miles and just about everything we could ask for in an RV. But, we need to sell the boat first. Priorities.

Now I'm planning for the arrival of our niece and her three kids next Wednesday. They come every year the first part of July and it's always a real fun time. The bedroom is ready. The menu is written. The hot tub blower is repaired. All is ready except the grocery shopping!