Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

An Afternoon Snooze

Yesterday I did something I almost never do…I napped during the day. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a most unusual occurrence. I’ve never been one who needed much sleep so daytime napping just isn’t on my daily to-do list. My husband is the exact opposite. He can lie down in bed for a few minutes, catch a few zzz’s and then feel refreshed. Me…when I fall asleep during the day, I wake up more groggy and dopey than before. That’s why yesterday was so unusual.

I did wake up early in the morning to drive 45 miles to a Library meeting but then I always wake up early so that was no big deal and I find driving a really relaxing activity as long as there’s no traffic…and there wasn’t any. The meeting was originally scheduled for the entire day but ended up being only a half-day event so I certainly wasn’t suffering from any brain-drain. I drove home (with a stop at a local TJ Maxx store) and then spent a few minutes in front of the computer…my daily ritual. That’s when I decided to lie down in bed just to watch TV…honest. Before I knew it, Hubby was sweetly calling my name and, when I looked at the clock, I was floored…it was nearly 6:00PM. Yikes! It’s a good thing he woke me…if he hadn’t, I probably would have slept all the way to bedtime and then I would have spent the entire night wide awake with nothing to do.

I’m feeling really awake and alert this morning so I guess napping didn’t interfere with my normal sleep pattern. Now I’m wondering if I should consider putting an afternoon nap on my regular schedule. Tell me…do you find napping a good thing?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Life Too Soon Lost

Today I attended the funeral of my friend’s husband who died last week (see here). Gathered in the small chapel at the cemetery were numerous family and friends who were there to honor the life of this seemingly happy but obviously troubled man. In listening to the eulogies given by longtime friends, it is obvious that everyone is trying to understand why this happened and to make sense of it all. At the same time, they are trying to work through the undeserved guilt that comes with knowing that this caring husband, father, brother, and friend was so desperate and distraught that he felt his only solution was to take his own life. If he had only reached out to his loving family and friends, perhaps this horrible event could have been averted. Unfortunately, it is too late to know. I pray that my friend and her daughter will come through this tragedy able to find the peace and strength necessary to move forward with their lives.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Baby Boomer Lament

Just a quick post as I'm off in a few minutes to take my mom to the Aquatics class at the YMCA. I was reading the newspaper this morning and came across a program note in the TV section that made me cringe. Our local PBS station is broadcasting "The Boomer Century: 1946-2046" this evening and this description caught my eye:
The two-hour PBS documentary examines how the roughly 78 million baby boomers in the U.S. will affect social security and healthcare.

I'm guessing that the answer to that will be "not very well" so why would I want to watch something that will only make me more nervous about the future? Sigh...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rock-a-bye Joey

Since I've been so depressed the last few days, I decided to visit Joey and his Grandma today to give myself a lift and to see how things are going over there. Joey looks happy and healthy while Grandma looks like hell...bags under the eyes, hair in disarray, clothes dotted with dribble and spit. I know it's been a tough first few days, particularly at night. Joey apparently is not the best sleeper in the world (even at home) and it's not any better at Grandma's. Grandma and Grandpa have been trying every tactic in their parenting arsenal to help him get back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night and, so far, nothing seems to be working...not even putting him in his swing which is his mom's desperation method. So....if there are any moms or dads out there who can offer successful methods for putting a baby back to sleep at night, please let me know and I will pass them on to the happy but tired grandparents.

No Good News

I haven’t really felt like blogging the past few days since I read an email, from a friend at my former library, when I got back from my trip. My friend’s email related three unhappy events during the past week. One of my former coworkers fell and hurt her ankle severely and will be in a cast for at least the next three weeks. Another friend’s brother passed away after battling a series of health problems. The final and most tragic event involves a friend from work whom I’ve known for more than 20 years.

Apparently my friend’s husband, missing for more than a day, was found near his car in a remote canyon and the local newspaper is reporting it as a suspected suicide. This news has stunned me and all those who work at the library…they have always seemed like a happy and successful couple although I know that outward appearance is not always an indicator of what is going on behind closed doors and in each person’s psyche. I know that my friend is currently surrounded by family and close friends and, although I feel a personal need to offer comfort and solace, I also know that it would be best to allow her to grieve privately until she is ready to face the world. I know it’s the best thing I can do as a friend.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

To Grandmother’s House We Went

So my grand adventure to pick up Hubby’s grandgodson Joey is now over. And it turned out to be a wonderful 700 mile round-trip experience.

Grandma and I left her house at 9:00AM Thursday morning and made two stops along the way. The first was for lunch and, although not a red meat eater for health reasons, I couldn’t resist the gorgonzola hamburger with bacon, grilled red peppers and caramelized onions at a famous highway restaurant known for its beef selections…yummy, yummy, yummy. The second stop was at an historic fruit stand extravaganza (I don’t know how else to describe it) for a potty break. We arrived at Other Grandparents’ home just after 3:00PM and waited outside for a short time until Joey and his mom arrived. Other Grandma arrived home soon after and then the rest of the family wandered in after work. We all had a wonderful dinner and then Joey and his parents drove home for their last night together. Then it was lights out for us as we tried to get some sleep before our long drive home on Friday.

Yesterday morning, Joey and his mom came at 7:00AM and, after a teary goodbye, his mom left for her last day of work before her trip to Italy. Grandma and I decided to get on the road right away and off we went. We stopped at the fruit stand again and sat in the restaurant there trying to feed Joey his bottle. He wasn’t very receptive so we piled back in the car and, when he got fussy a little while later, Grandma fed him his bottle. I should mention that Grandma spent the entire trip seated in the backseat next to Joey in his carseat just in case he needed company. We made our second stop (at the “beef” restaurant) so that Grandma could change his diaper (no, I didn’t volunteer) and, since neither of us were hungry, we got back in the car and headed south.

The remaining hours were a dream. Joey, now fed and dry, drifted off into slumberland and remained there until we pulled into Grandma’s driveway. That’s right…he slept the entire rest of the way home! How lucky could we be??? We arrived home just after 1:00PM, unloaded the car and then spent the rest of the afternoon feeding and playing with Joey who was now wide awake and full of energy. I finally left and drove the short distance home where I was greeted happily by Hubby.

So Joey is with Grandma and Grandpa for the next few weeks and Hubby and I get to spend oodles of time with him…oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Road Quickly Traveled

It’s been a busy week taking my mom to the YMCA on Monday, working yesterday and today and now packing for an overnight trip. So…where and why am I going somewhere? And why isn’t Hubby going with me?

Several weeks ago, we learned that Hubby’s goddaughter and her husband were given a trip to Italy. Their biggest concern, of course, was whether they could leave their 8-month-old son Joey for more than a week while they went off on this unexpected vacation opportunity. Our friends, Grandma and Grandpa, who live close to us, gladly volunteered to take care of Joey during the nervous parents’ absence. The problem is that Joey and his parents live 350 miles from the happy grandparents. Since Grandpa is a CPA and this is the one time of the year he simply cannot leave town, Grandma was trying to find a way to pickup Joey and bring him down to our area. Besides wanting company for the long drive, she is not particularly fond of driving freeways and flying was not an option. That’s when my hand shot up as I shouted “Oh, oh, I’ll drive you up there to get Joey and bring him back with us.” So tomorrow, Grandma and I are driving north, staying overnight, and then traveling back home with Joey. My only “payment” for doing this is that, while Joey is visiting his grandparents, Hubby and I will get to spend oodles of time with him. That certainly sounds like a fair trade.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Taxes, Bloody Taxes

After much procrastination, Hubby finally sat down yesterday to do our taxes. He has always prided himself on his ability to do our taxes without the help of an accountant (or a tax preparation software package...think TurboTax) and this year is no different. He took all the documents, check registers, blank forms, calculator, blank paper, and pencils to the kitchen table and began the arduous task of filling in the blanks. I'm always amazed as he works through this system he's set up using last year's completed forms as a guide along with a worksheet he completes with all our earnings, interest, and deductions listed and added carefully. Then he proceeds to bury his head in the federal and state booklets looking for changes in instructions and calculations from last year's returns. From there, he prepares a draft of our federal and state tax forms with all the pertinent information filled in.

So where do I come in? My role is to review everything to make sure there are no errors. This year, thank goodness, everything seemed to fall right into place. All I had to do was fill in the final forms (since I have the better handwriting); we signed the forms; I wrote the check to the Feds (yes, we owe them this year while the State owes us); we attached all the forms and then sealed them in the envelopes. This morning Hubby took the envelopes to the Post Office and, for yet another year, our taxes are done...hooray!!! about yours???

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Wearin' of the Green - Create custom images

An Irish toast for all my blogging friends:

May the luck of the Irish
Lead to happiest heights
And the highway you travel
Be lined with green lights.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What’s On Sale?

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I almost never pay retail for anything. I comb the newspaper ads every day trying to find the best bargains for clothes, household items and anything else which might have a “sale” tag on it. So I always get a kick out of how stores advertise their sales. My biggest guffaw goes to the department stores who, in big bold letters, announce they are having their “ONE DAY SALE.” Can someone explain to me how a “one day” sale can start on a Friday and end on a Saturday? Yes, I know they often refer to Friday as their “pre-sale” day but what the heck does that mean? After all, if the prices are the same on both days, isn’t it really all one sale?

So this morning I was reading the newspaper and came across an “interesting” spin on the idea of a sale. One of our department stores has a big two page ad for their “Run Don’t Walk” sale. Of course, that caught my eye so I perused the ad to see if there was anything I might find appealing. Next to the photo of a model dressed in a spring outfit is an "Extra 25% Off" note along with the words “Permanently Reduced Spring Sportswear for Her.” OK…so if these items are permanently reduced, are they really on sale or are they really clearance merchandise masquerading as sale items? What do you think?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Do, I Do...

Today is our anniversary...or should I say "our anniversaries." My husband and I met in a running shoe store 24 years ago today...he was selling shoes as a volunteer in his friend's store and I went in with my sister to buy my first pair of real running shoes. And what do you know...I got a new pair of a shoes AND a date with a really nice guy. To make a long story short, Hubby and I "dated" for many years and we always celebrated the day we met as our "anniversary." Fast forward several years. When Hubby and I finally decided to get married, we decided that we'd been celebrating March 13th as our anniversary for so long that we needed to get married on that very same day so we wouldn't need to remember a new anniversary date. And that's exactly what we did...we packed our suitcases and went to Las Vegas to tie the knot on March 13th. So today we celebrate two very important dates in our relationship and, thanks to perfect timing, they both just happen to fall on March 13th.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

In Honor of My Birthday

It’s been a few weeks since my birthday (see here) and the whole idea of turning another year older had passed from my brain when Sis called the other day.

Me: “What’s up?”

Sis: “When are we going out for your birthday? How about this weekend?”

Me: “I’ll have to check because I’m not sure when Friend is coming back to finish off the deck project.”

Sis: “OK, let me know.”

We (Hubby actually) finally got a hold of Friend’s wife, who told Hubby they have theater tickets this afternoon, so we’ve decided we’re safe to finally plan my birthday dinner for tonight.

We’ll meet at Sis’s house and I’ll open what will seem like hundreds of birthday cards (even though our family consists of Mom, Sis and her family, and Hubby and me) before opening the gifts. I don’t know how it got started but we can never just give one card. Oh no…we buy every greeting card that has anything to do with the occasion and then, before each card is opened, we have this tradition of announcing “in honor of your birthday.” This explains why we always have to meet well in advance of our dinner reservation…it takes forever to get through the whole gift-giving part of the evening.

The birthday girl (or boy) always gets to choose the restaurant and I’ve chosen the one we always go to. It’s Italian; it’s close to Sis’s house; the food is good; and we always have leftovers…what more can you ask for? And when the last bite is eaten and the leftovers packed away, we will finally be done with my birthday for yet another year.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Look Mom...I'm a Consumer Advocate

A few weeks ago, while I was embroiled in my huge Dell computer repair saga, I was also engaged in a battle with my bank. It's a long story about data theft and credit card replacement but the long and short of it is I became extremely frustrated with the lack of customer service during this incident. As with my Dell dilemma, I believe in going straight to the top so I wrote a letter to the bank's Chairman of the Board. On Tuesday, when I returned home from my Library meeting, there was a message on my answering machine from someone representing the bank. He called and left a second message yesterday so today, before leaving for my meeting at 6:00AM, I called him since he is located in an earlier time zone.

It turns out this person works in the office of the bank's President of Card Services...oohhh...doesn't that sound official? My letter had made its way from the Chairman of the Board's office to his and he was calling to respond to my concerns. We spent 20 minutes on the phone discussing my letter and the issues I raised about the actions taken by the bank during this incident and the lack of customer service provided by the bank's representatives. I was particularly pleased when the young man complimented me on my letter for its concise but focused list of various issues (I just love using bulleted lists...they make things seem so organized and important). Anyway, he told me that my letter had been discussed in great detail during a recent meeting and was being sent to all the departments and units involved in the incident.

Of course the question is whether any of it will make any real difference in the way in which the bank conducts business and I'm certainly not holding my breath. Let's face it...these major institutions have very little interest in individual consumer experiences....their focus is on the big picture and the big profits. Writing the letter, however, certainly made me feel better and at least I can say I tried.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I Feel Like the Scarecrow

One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz. I've seen it hundreds of times and it never fails to enthrall me. My favorite character has always been the Scarecrow...he's one heck of a dancer and a really good friend to Dorothy. Today I feel very much like my favorite character only it has nothing to do with dance or friendship. I want to break out in that classic song "If I Only Had A Brain."

For the past two days, I've been in all day meetings involving setting policies for the new computer system our Library is planning to install next year. For two straight days we've been subjected to PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheet examples and tomorrow it's more of the same. My brain simply cannot take any more minutiae. It's very much the "if this...then that" planning with rows and columns of scenarios based upon a slew of different factors. I know this is all very important and must be done within the next few weeks but I'm getting dizzier and dizzier at the meetings and my eyes are beginning to about information overload. And to think that I have yet another meeting tomorrow AND two more next week. If I had my druthers, I'd much rather "while away the hours, conferring with the flowers, consultin' with the rain..."

Monday, March 5, 2007

An Automatic Kinda Girl

I've discovered one way to avoid being home during a construction project:

Hubby: "Dear, the maintenance light in my car has come on."

Me: "No problem. How about I take it in on Monday?"

Hubby: "That would be great."

Why was I the one taking his car in for service this morning? Besides the obvious avoidance issue, we have a deal. As long as Hubby drives a car with an automatic transmission, I agree to take his car in for all service and repairs. While Hubby loves driving cars with manual transmissions (it's a boy-toy thing I've decided), I'm an automatic transmission girl. He tried to teach me how to drive a stick shift 20+ years ago but, when I refused to drive out of the empty university parking lot into the street one Sunday morning, he gave up.

For the past several years I've heard him threaten that he was going to buy some type of sports car (his one last fling with his youth) but, at the moment, he's driving my old 1998 automatic sedan and enjoying my repair promise. That doesn't mean he's happy about it but, for him, it certainly is convenient.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Fun Continues

Here I am hiding out in front of my computer with the den door closed trying to make myself scarce as our new deck construction begins (see here for the prologue). Hubby, Friend and Friend's Brother are in the backyard banging and hammering and drilling away and I just don't want to watch. The guys arrived at 12:30PM (only 2 hours later than promised) and immediately took off for the hardware store to buy additional supplies. They've now been at the actual construction for a few hours and, as always, there have been a few unexpected obstacles to overcome. One obstacle may be the weather. We've been following it all week and the forecast for the next few days was for sunny to partly cloudy days. So why are there really ominous dark clouds in the sky right now and why does it feel like rain is on the way?

Here's an update already...the guys just left to go pick up their table saw. That should take an hour. Why do I think this project is slowly morphing into an epic tale?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Tea For Two

I'm getting ready in a few minutes to meet a friend for tea at a local tea emporium. Now, I've never actually been to a formal afternoon tea so I have no idea what to expect. I even had to email her and ask what's the appropriate attire for such an event. Why haven't I ever had the pleasure? It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm not particularly fond of tea. I'm sure my distaste of tea harkens back to my childhood when my mom would serve tea and saltine crackers whenever we were suffering from a stomach upset. Now when I look into a cup of tea, I can still remember the sights, smells and feelings associated with a night of diarrhea and vomiting. I've just grossed myself out. So...why am I doing this to myself today? Because I haven't seen this friend in a while and would like to spend some time with her catching up on our lives. Tea is her passion and, since I enjoy experiencing things for the first time, I agreed to meet for tea when she suggested it. Oh should be an "interesting" afternoon.

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Fun Begins

So yesterday I went off to pick up Mom and take her to the hair salon while Hubby waited for Friend and Friend's Brother to arrive to take off some of the deck boards to see the substructure, make some measurements, and go off to the lumber yard and home improvement store to buy all the supplies so they'll be ready to begin on Sunday. When I left in the morning, this is what my deck looked like:

When I got home, this is what my deck looked like:

Apparently while Hubby and Friend went off to buy everything, Friend's Brother decided to start the demolition process since he had nothing to do. Bless his heart. This means that, when they come back on Sunday, they can actually start building the deck. Maybe they'll meet their original timeline after all. We can only hope.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Now You Like It

I'm getting ready to drive to my sister's to pick up Mom so we can go get our hair cut this morning. So what does my husband do? Last night over dinner he looks across the table and tells me how nice my hair looks. Why is it he tells me this less than 24 hours before I'm getting it cut? Where has he been the last 5 weeks? Now I don't know whether to just have a trim or have it cut shorter. I'm so confused...thanks Hubby!