Friday, July 30, 2021

Cruising Again...Fingers Crossed

 



I hope to be cruising again in a few days! My wife and I had a planned Alaskan (Retirement Celebration) Cruise scheduled for May 2020. We all know how those plans went! It was cancelled with cruise credit and cabin credits. We rescheduled to Spring 2021 hoping to be vaccinated and the cruise lines running again. Wishful thinking, still no cruising and cancelled again. Now things are coming together. Our whole family is vaccinated and ready to go. The ship is supposed to be 95%  vaccinated guests, so we are feeling pretty good about it. Masks have to be worn on embarkation and debarkation and any group tours. Otherwise, it looks to be a pretty normal cruise. Fingers crossed that this cruise goes on as planned! Time to try to win another gold ship trophy or medal like I mentioned in my post "Ribbons, Medals and Trophies!".

Any readers out there have cruises planned or already taken? How do you feel about it? If you already went, what was the experience like? I read a news article about a woman who took one of the first cruises out of Galveston and she said it wasn't much different than pre-pandemic. 

My wife and I have only been on Carnival for cruises and plan on trying a few other cruise lines in the future. Any suggestions of great cruises to take? What did you like about Carnival or other cruise lines?






Saturday, July 24, 2021

Things That Last

 





Every morning, I shampoo my hair in the bathroom sink, if not in the shower, and I use a Tupperware cup to rinse my hair. I have had this cup since shortly after I was married in 1988. It has lasted a long time and continues to get daily use. As I wrote in my last post of "Things We Hang On To", I inherited my dad's wrenches. The tools are in great shape and I use them often.  Some things last a long time. I have heard of cars being driven over a million miles. I have heard of appliances lasting 20 years or more. A couple of years ago I bought a Toyota Tacoma because I read that they run forever. I heard stories of these trucks easily doing 200K miles and more. I also bought a Subaru for the same reason. My mechanic owns and drives a Subaru, so that should be a clue on how good they are. In retirement, I feel that I need to buy things that will last a long time to cut down on maintenance and replacement expenses. 

We have a set or two of Depression Glass dishes that we collected years ago. They have lasted quiet well with a few small nicks and chips. When I think of things that last a long time, I think of things like guns, pocket knives, coins, cast iron cookware and glass dishes. Hand tools last a long time if taken care of.  Some antique hand crafted furniture make it through the years. Anything that is constructed of solid metal, rock or glass should last if taken care of and if it doesn't involve a lot of moving parts that could break. Items that last, often become heirlooms. Some items continue to get used on a regular basis like my Tupperware cup and dad's tools. 

When I go metal detecting and find a 100 year old coin, I'm amazed at how well it has survived the years. Coins are probably one of the few things that can last hundreds, if not thousands of years. Metal detecting enthusiasts in Europe find Roman coins and other coins all the time. Some are from the late BC and early AD time periods. One of my favorite metal detecting finds is a 1944 Walking Liberty half dollar. There are not too many things still around that were made in 1944. 



I found the below info on the internet of a million mile car. There are a few out there!


Known for its excellent build quality and pioneering safety features, Volvo has also earned itself a great reputation for making really durable cars. This reputation was again bolstered when a long time Volvo fan, Mr. Selden Cooper, who at that time had his second Volvo - a 1987 model 240, hit the million-mile marker in 2012.

Do you possess anything that is old and still in use? Any of you out there have a high mileage car that keeps on rolling down the highway? Do you have a washer or refrigerator that has lasted forever? 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Things We Hang On To

   


When my dad passed away in 1993 I inherited his tools among other things. My dad loved working on older cars and home improvement projects. He had a large assortment of wrenches, sockets and other tools. He had etched his initials into several of his wrenches and I dearly value those today. To be able to hold the same wrenches, which he used for years, is something special and brings back some great memories. When my mother passed away in 2020 I inherited an old china cabinet and numerous items that she owned at the time. The cabinet now sits in my living room and contains many of her things including old dishes, Lennox bird statues, three cast iron pig banks and a few other items. Every time I glance at that cabinet it reminds me of her. 

Most of us hang on to something from our past that reminds us of people or places and those items hold a special place in our hearts and minds. Some things we have inherited and we hope to pass on to our children some day, some things that we feel obligated to hang on to for a variety of reasons, and some things that only have meaning to us alone. 

I also have other items that were my dad's that include a pocket knife, smoking  pipe, old coins and other things. I have a few of mom's quilts that she made by hand. For years I also had a 1937 Ford truck that was my dad's. The truck was obtained when I was a young child and dad worked on it for years and years. He would get it running and tinker with it off and on. It was always in rough shape and never road worthy. I got the truck when he passed and thought for sure I would restore it. I had the engine rebuilt but never got it road worthy either. I hauled that truck on a trailer from Texas to my home in Oklahoma and then again to St. Louis with a job transfer. I finally decided it was time to let it go and sold it to my sister who planned to restore it. I had decided even if I had it fully restored, I wouldn't drive it much unless to a car show or in a parade. My sister eventually sold the truck and hopefully it got restored at some point and is making someone happy. Note: The truck above is a 1937, but not dad's truck. 

I have great memories of dad working on that truck and one particular memory involved bumble bees. Dad was sitting in the 1937 truck and I was pulling him by chain with another truck so he could try to get it started. As I was pulling him down our gravel road he slams on his breaks and yells at me as he is bailing out of the truck. He was swatting at something swarming his head! As that old truck rumbled down the road a swarm of bumble bees had erupted from under the seat. He wasn't stung, but what a sight and what a memory!

I have since come to the conclusion that the memories of the truck and of my dad are more valuable than possessing the truck itself and have never regretted letting that old truck go. Sometimes we hang on to things that connect us to someone out of that longing to connect to them. I'm still hanging on to 9+ acres that mom gave me years ago that was part of my parents original 26 acre place. I'll probably never build on it and move back to it, yet I hang onto it. I hang on to it because it was a huge part of my childhood years. I hang on to it partly because I feel obligated to. I continue to pay property taxes on it every year and it doesn't cost me a lot to hang on to it so I will probably continue to keep it for awhile longer. It is something my children probably have not interest in, as they won't be moving there either.

Do you have some great things you are hanging on to? Have you loosened your grip on any items like the truck above? Are you hanging on the some things that you question yourself about?

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Coffee



A little internet search brought me to this info on the history of coffee:

Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. There, legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans. 

The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night. 

Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.

As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey which would bring these beans across the globe.


In retirement, I enjoy 2-3 cups of coffee every morning. Usually at home, brewed in my simple coffeemaker. I have not been a life long coffee drinker. In early adulthood, I never tried coffee and thus never developed a morning habit of drinking it. About 10 years ago, my family was on a cruise ship and I decided to try a cup with my morning breakfast. Through the cruise I began to drink it every morning and my coffee habit grew. 

My son has been a coffee drinker since late high school I think. He is into the different taste and varieties of coffee. He can make it numerous ways. Before hearing him talking about it, I had no clue there were various ways to brew coffee. Now I know a little about Pour Over, French Press, Cold Brew, etc. Who knew there were so many ways to make it. I let Mr. Coffee do his thing every morning. My son can take time to make a cup using beakers, filters and funnels. His coffee making looks like a lab experiment sometimes! But, I will admit, he makes a great cup of coffee this way!

I have a coffee grinder that my son gave to me. That is about as complicated as I get, grinding my own beans. If I visit a nice coffee shop and like their coffee, I will buy a bag of beans to enjoy over the next week or so. The different varieties confuse me with beans from different localities, different flavor notes, different roasts. My son can detect the notes better than me. Most of the time I just taste coffee, some I like better than others. I rarely detect a raspberry, milk chocolate, citrus note in a coffee. When I first saw the flavors on a bag of beans I asked my son, "Do they put raspberries with the beans when they roast or what?". He laughed and said "No Dad, you get that from roasting at various temperatures, humidity, etc.". Whew, too complicated for me, I just want to dump some ground coffee in Mr. Coffee and add water!

Coffee drinking can be routine, like a cup or two in the morning while you work. Coffee drinking can be social, like a cup at a local coffee shop with family or friends. Coffee drinking can be relaxing, like a cup at your favorite location with just you and your thoughts or a good book. 

My absolute favorite place to enjoy a cup of coffee is on a cruise ship. I like to get up early, grab a cup of coffee and sit on an open deck on the back of the ship and enjoy the coffee while looking out at the ocean and the wake of the ship. I love the sights and sounds of the ship waking up. There are workers cleaning rails and laying towels out on the deck chairs. Workers stacking coffee cups and other dishes making clinking sounds. There are very few other people out and it is about as peaceful as it gets on a cruise ship. My second favorite place is any coffee or breakfast shop in Portland, OR on a cool, rainy morning. No wonder they have 2500 coffee shops in that city!

I like trying new coffee shops. One of the most unique one was in Austin, TX. It was Civil Goat Coffee and it had a side door leading to a fenced yard with Butters the goat that you could pet. Another interesting one was Messenger Coffee in KC, MO that involved several levels and a rooftop area. 

How is your daily coffee experience? Where is your favorite spot to enjoy a cup?


"Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world." - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Potholes

 



Not too long ago, my son hit a really bad pothole and ruined a front tire. The pothole has since been repaired at least twice and keeps coming back in that same spot. Potholes are a fact of life on our nation's streets and highways. Here in Oklahoma, you have to constantly be on the lookout or you will hit a tire damaging pot hole every mile or so. I saw a nifty little truck the other day that pulls over a pothole, cleans it out and fixes the pothole mechanically. We need a lot more of these trucks running around. Most of the time I see a truck with a pile of asphalt in it and two guys with a shovel who fill the pothole, tamp it down and move on to the next one. The pothole goes from a hole to a bump at that point. I'd much rather have the small bump in the road!

My son only lives a couple of miles away and I have always sent him on his way from our house with a warning of "Watch out for those potholes!". I say it in jest, but when you think about it, it can be a statement for our journey through life. 

Throughout our lives we encounter potholes along the way. Some life potholes are small and are minor inconveniences such as a dropped coffee cup breaking on the floor, lost or damaged cell phone, the common cold, and other small irritations. Some life potholes are medium size such as a flat tire in an inconvenient place, an appliance that has gone out, a small illness, repairs on the house, and other medium size disruptions. Then, you have the large size life potholes that derail your life such as divorces, bankruptcies, car accidents, house fires, major illness or a family death. The small and medium potholes are a little jarring when you hit them but easily fade into the past. The large potholes are usually life changing. The potholes of life are much like those on the road, they are going to be there no matter what you do. 

My small life potholes have included things like dropping a gallon of milk, running out of gas for my lawnmower in the middle of mowing, dropping my favorite coffee mug and having it shatter in a million pieces, ripping my beltloop on my pants, etc. My medium size life potholes have included a dryer going out a couple of times and having to replace the rollers and belts, air conditioning going out in the heat of the summer, dealing with car repair after a minor fender bender, being bumped from a flight and many more. My large life potholes have been the death of my father in 1993, victim of the Federal Building Bombing in 1995, death of my mother in 2020 and several other deaths of friends and family members.  My wife hit a major life pothole a few weeks ago when she was told she has breast cancer. This one is a big one and all four tires were blown out and there is a lot of damage to repair. Of course, I'm a passenger in this deal but felt the hard impact when we hit this pothole. We will get through it and will get back on the life road again soon. 

The small and medium potholes are all 1st world problems. At least my potholes don't include hunger, abuse, unemployment or lack of housing. I'm very lucky to have suffered through very few large life potholes so far. None of us have a totally smooth ride through this life. We must all avoid the pothole that we can and do the best we can with those that we hit dead on.

The milk, coffee mugs, and pants can be bought again. Things can be repaired or replaced. The loss of friends and family can never be reversed. It is one of the things in life we all have to go through. In one of my last posts I talked about road signs. Wouldn't it be nice if we had some signs warning us about the life potholes! 

What life potholes have you hit in your life? How would you describe your small, medium and large life potholes? As I tell my son, "Watch out for those potholes!".

Friday, June 25, 2021

Books I've Read Lately

 


In retirement, reading was one thing I hoped to do more of. Reading usually fits in most retirees list of things to do. To sit back, relax and read a good book is always fun. This year I set a goal to increase my reading. I've always loved reading and set my goal to read at least 2 per month. I think I have set the goal to low as I have read 33 so far and have been on a pretty good pace. Here are a few that I have read this year and enjoyed. 


  • Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld.  Very funny stuff. He has put a lot of his comedy bits into this book. I enjoyed it a lot. I saw him in person a few years ago and some of the material is in there. I still got a great laugh.
  • The Rooster Bar and Camino Winds by John Grisham. I enjoy almost everything Grisham writes.
  • The Night Fire, Fair Warning and The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly. I started reading these after watching Bosch on Amazon Prime. After seeing the character on TV is is easy to read these stories and picture Bosch as he works his way through the crimes.
  • Evil Knievel an American Hero by Ace Collins. After visiting the museum I bought this book and enjoyed reading about the life and time of Knievel.
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. An interesting read on how our choices put us on a variety of different life paths. 
  • Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden. I've been interested in the story since watching Narcos on Netflix. The book is interesting but I liked the series better that this book.
  • Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy. I think this is the best one I've read all year. The story is not bad but the clever way this book is written was refreshing. This book got me in two spots where I said "Wait a minute, did I miss something? Do I need to reread that section all over again". I've never seen a book so cleverly written as this one. My daughter read it and had the same reaction. 

I have a lot of books on the shelves waiting to be read. One I really look forward to is Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I loved his book The Martian and look forward to seeing if this one is as good as that. Another one in my soon to be read stack is Treasure Hunter by W. C. Jameson, This interests me do to my metal detecting hobby. I also am eager to read a few books I found at a thrift store by Tim Dorsey. I have never heard of him before I picked these up. The description on the back of Florida Roadkill is "Some of the most wacky villains and situations since Hiaasen stuck a plastic alligator down a stranger's throat and called it Tourist Season". How could I resist a book with that kind of description?

Do you have any favorites from your reading list to share? I'm always up for a good suggestion or two. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Brown and Blue Signs

                       Blue Road Sign    Brown Road Sign


On a recent vacation we had our plans of what highlights we wanted to see and visit. This trip involved a lot of driving between locations on the Interstate Highway system. We have all seen the many signs along the highways and roads of America. Giant billboards trying to entice you into a restaurant, gift shop, retail shop or hotel. Regulatory signs for speed limits, no passing, exits, etc. And then, my favorite, the brown and blue signs. These signs are described below from a Google search.


Blue – Signs that are blue in color are not regulatory signs. Instead, they display services for travelers. These signs are normally found on expressways and highways, directing motorists to where they can find places such as rest areas, tourist sites, hospitals, hotels, gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds, picnic areas, and other services commonly used by motorists.

Brown – Similar to blue road signs, brown signs are not regulatory signs. These signs indicate areas of recreation and cultural points of interest. Brown road signs will mark or give directions towards historical sites, parks, picnic areas, and other recreational areas.


On our last trip, I often spotted the blue and brown signs and contemplated on making little side trips. We saw a brown sign for a Civil War battlefield and off we went. It was miles away from our main route, but I had to go. The problem with these signs on the interstate is they often only point the way. Once you exit you see the next sign that says the site is 75 miles to the left or right. You have to have a lot of spare time in your schedule to get to these places and back to your original route. I'm sure some locations are worth it. But, I'm not driving 75 miles to a boat ramp or camp ground. 

These signs tie into a previous post of "You Never Know 'Til You Go". These are the type of places that you may not have had on your agenda but may well be worth the time and effort to visit. In the past we have stopped at the largest hand dug well, the largest ketchup bottle, historical markers and many other interesting places. You probably have many of these signs in your own city and state and pass them by without a thought. Next time, consider a little detour to see what's down that road!

As road signs are important on any car trip, I think we have similar road signs on our trip through life. We have the billboard signs that say "Go to college", "Join the military" or "Start your career". Then we have the regulatory signs that say "Obey the law of the land", "Be kind to others" and "Love your family".  And finally, we have the brown and blue signs that make life interesting that say "Have a child", "Move to a new city", "Start a hobby", "Take a vacation" and many, many others. Once you exit to one of these life choices you may see that it is on down the road, not in miles, but in time. The "Have a child" sign may say 3 months or 3 years. The "Take a vacation" sign may say 2 days or next year. The "Save and Retire" sign may say 30-45 years. This sign will cause many to get right back on the main road. 30-45 years is so far out there, why save now? Those of us that are retired know that it takes a lot of saving and planning for a successful and comfortable retirement. For those that aren't retired yet, I highly recommend you take that side road to retirement and save early and save often. The good thing is, unlike an actual road trip, you can follow many life paths at the same time. So, stay on the retirement planning path while also enjoying the many other fun side trips in life. 

Don't forget the rest areas along your life trip. Pull in to a rest area every once in awhile, sit at a picnic table, get out a ham sandwich and rest for a minute. Take time to savor the moments and enjoy the trip you have taken so far and daydream about the trip ahead. Happy travels!