Monday, May 31, 2021

Fresh Mowed Lawn

 In retirement I have many weekly tasks that I enjoy. I enjoy cleaning and maintaining our pool. I enjoy yardwork up until about 88 degrees then I get real tired of it during the summer months. I enjoy blogging and reading blogs. I enjoy simple home maintenance work. And, of course, I enjoy my metal detecting hobby. All provide a sense of satisfaction at the finish. A sparkling clean pool always looks great and gives me a sense of accomplishment. A completed project or task always feels good. One of the things that I really like is the sight of my freshly mowed lawn. It looks great after it is mowed and trimmed with no wisps of grass growing into the edge of the curb or sidewalk. Unfortunately it is short lived. The lawn changes so much with one day of growth. I don't enjoy that fresh mowed lawn so much that I want to mow it every two days, that is just too much work. About 30 years ago I had a neighbor who was a retired military man and I swear he mowed his yard every two days. It would drive his close neighbors crazy because every other day he was out there at 6:30 in the morning mowing and trimming that yard. It looked amazing! But, he obsessed a little too much. 

This past weekend I repainted a storage shed in the backyard. The old paint was getting a chalky look to it and it needed freshened up. After it was done, I sat back and got that satisfied feeling of a job well done. The shed looks great and should be good to go for the next few years. I get the same satisfaction from trimming my shrubs or washing and cleaning my car. These are simple task but always leave me feeling good about what I have accomplished. 

What task do you do in retirement that give you a good sense of satisfaction? Is it the completion of a project? Finishing a quilt or other long term project? Something simple? Is there something that you take to the extreme, like the man above?  

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Ribbons, Medals and Trophies!


All through life we are looking for acceptance and recognition from family, friends and even strangers. As children, we crave our parents attention and approval. In school, we want to impress our teachers and friends. Getting a ribbon or certificate in grade school affirmed that you had been successful at something. Whether that be perfect attendance, reading the most books, best grades, etc. This reward system continues into high school and college in the form of more ribbons, medals, trophies and certificates. In sports you get beautiful shiny medals and trophies. Most awards, other than Olympic medals, are only worth a few dollars at most. I remember getting certificates in grade school for many things including grades and reading books. In high school, I received several academic medals and a few ribbons for showing a calf in FFA (Future Farmers of America)(Yeah, it was a small country school!). I didn't get any trophies for sports but had one small trophy for being Valedictorian of my high school class. Both my kids got numerous trophies from soccer, baseball, golf and school activities. 

I believe that within most of us there is always that desire to be recognized. A few years ago I bought a Ford Mustang for my 50th birthday. It was a blast! I began taking it to a few car shows and won several 1st and 2nd place trophies. It was fun to be announced as a winner and walk up in front of others to get my well deserved trophy. I felt like a little kid again and also felt a little silly getting excited about my $2 fake gold plated plastic trophy. I eventually traded the car for my current truck and the trophies were donated to charity to be sold for 25 cents or to be thrown away. I have several cruise ship trophies proudly displayed in my garage. My wife and I won them in various contests on several cruises. We were bean bag toss champions, Sorry! champions and trivia champions. On our last few cruises it has been a goal to win one of these little trophies or medals from our newest cruise. Each one has the name of the ship we were on. It is more for the fun and memories than for recognition. It is always fun to win though!


In retirement, I took up metal detecting. I enjoy the hobby, but I also enjoy my club meetings where we have a find of the month competition. I enjoy my coin, toy, relic or jewelry item being voted on as the winner for that month. My reward is a silver dime, worth about $2. It's not about the worth as much as it is about being recognized by your peers as accomplishing something. That desire to be recognized by family, friends and others is still within me. It has evolved over the years and doesn't mean the same as it did when I was younger. But, I admit it is still there and probably is still within most of us. 

The internet has created a whole new platform for people to seek recognition. So many use the social media apps to compete for likes and shares in various forms. The amount of followers that some have is their version of a medal or trophy. I'll admit, I enjoy seeing a decent amount of "likes" on any Facebook posts I make. Although I am limited to my 86 friends. It is hard to get 200K likes with only 86 friends. I'm lucky to get 10 likes. 

When I retired I had numerous Certificates of Appreciation and other work awards. As I was packing my office, none of these meant anything in my retired life. It was nice at the time, but there was no need to keep most of these items. The same thing has happened with my car show trophies. Awards loose their luster as time goes by. The recognition is usually short lived and the feeling of pride you get goes away quickly. That is evident even with multiple Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps. He has 23 gold medals and still had a serious bout of depression after winning them all. The only awards I still value are the cruise ship awards and that is because they are associated with awesome fun memories. We have a family cruise scheduled for September. I need to brush up on my bean bag and putt putt golf  skills so I can bring home the Gold!

Another form of reward is a simple compliment. Any time you receive a compliment it tends to brighten your day a little. It doesn't matter if it is a compliment on your hair, you shirt or your smile, it all makes us feel a little better. My wife is very good at dishing out compliments. She is always telling another woman she likes her hair, her purse, her blouse, etc. Sometimes a simple compliment becomes a short conversation and everyone benefits from the interaction. I need to get better at compliments. I can do it, I just have to make a conscious effort at it. We all often see something we like, but we fail to verbalize it to the person. That one compliment may mean the world to someone at that moment. So, get out there on your next outing and look for at least one person to lift up with a kind word!

What things do you still like getting rewarded for? Do you enjoy if for the recognition and the joy of putting it on your wall or bookshelf? Have you tossed old awards because they don't mean as much any more? Are there areas of you work life that you miss such as awards and bonuses? Are you generous with compliments and kind words? Do you enjoy being on the receiving end of those compliments?

Thursday, May 20, 2021

101 New Things Update


It's time for a quick update on my quest to do 101 new things this year. As of the last update I was up to 27 things. Here are my new things to add to the list. The last 11 items were added on a recent vacation to North and South Carolina and Georgia. We had a great time and did many other new things, such as dining places, that I did not add to the list as I want the list to be "bigger" new things. I did add another coffee shop because I do enjoy the experience of a new coffee shop and I added one restaurant because it is well know and more of a tourist attraction too. 

28. CJ's Coffee shop
29. Rattlesnake Roundup Okeene, OK
30. Spiro Mounds exhibit at Western Heritage Museum
31. Drove part of Blue Ridge Parkway including 2 tunnels
32. North Carolina Arboretum
33. Tour of Biltmore Estate- Asheville, NC
34. Hilton Head Island Beach
35. Lady & Sons Restaurant (Paula Deen)- Savannah, GA
36. Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Savannah, GA
37. Prohibition Museum in Savannah, GA
38. Slave Mart museum in Charleston, SC
39. Ghost Tour in Charleston, SC
40. Ft Sumter
41. Boone Plantation in Charleston, SC
42. Bennington Civil War Battlefield

Now a few notes. I do not like snakes at all. I went to the rattlesnake roundup because it definitely  would be a new thing and "you never know 'til you go". When we got there the vendors were few and were just setting up. We made a quick pass around the vendors and then went to the Den of Death. As we waited outside a small livestock barn to pay our $5 entry fee at a desk, we could hear the loud rattle sound of many, many, many snakes. I had chills just thinking about what was around the corner in this building. We entered and at the far end was a plexiglass corral set up and full of rattlesnakes. Two handlers were inside pushing the snakes around and talking to the idiots like me paying to look at this Den of Death. All those snakes creeped me out! After taking a few photos we noticed an older man, maybe early to mid 70's enter the den with the two other handlers in their 30's. He began kicking at a few snakes and then used a metal hook to separate one from the bunch. I'm guessing from the respect that the other two handlers were giving him, he must have been the expert that has been doing this for 50 plus years. He put the hook on the snake's head about 3 times while putting his boot on the snake's body. But each time he began to reach down the snake would shake it's head loose from the metal hook. On the fourth or fifth try, the man reached down to grab the snake behind the head with his hand. I already noticed the man had a little shake to his hand and thought to myself, "should he really be doing this at his age". He reached down, the snake wiggled and the next thing I see is the man jumping back and shaking his hand. I heard "He got me" as he put his hook down and walked to the door out of the den. Then we see the workers finding someone to take him to the hospital. 

                            Me defying death!  He is much closer than it looks!  

The above story demonstrates several of my posts including Taking Risks in Retirement and Everyday Life, You Never Know 'Til You Go, and most importantly I Think I Can. I hope the gentleman got the anti-venom and everything worked out for him. And you know his wife had a thing or two to say to him. One thing I was amazed at is that you could register to hunt rattlesnakes by buying a $10 lifetime hunting license. I asked the lady, "So, anyone can pay $10 and just head out to hunt rattlesnakes?" She said "Yes". You pay your $10, plus you could rent a snare and then they give you a map to a local ranch and you could hunt on several, 1 mile sections. That is just bonkers! You pay $10, get a snare and off you go! "Good luck, I hope you catch the biggest one"! You have got to be kidding me. To me, I think you need a 2 year apprenticeship before you go off after deadly vipers. 

We had a great vacation. I got to see a few cannon along the way. I got to see Ft. Sumter, the first battle of the Civil War and stumbled upon the Bennington Battlefield which was one of the last few battles of the war. The Biltmore Estate was unbelievable and is a must see for everyone. Savannah and Charleston are charming old cities but with a disturbing history. My wife has been wanting to go on a ghost tour for sometime, so she can scratch that one off her list. She even caught a few photos with blue orbs in them. The tour guide had explained that spirits in that area come up as blue orbs! I'll take orbs over rattlesnakes any day!!

Biltmore Estate

Cathedral in Savannah

Ft Sumter

Sunday, May 16, 2021

I Think I Can


Or, I should have titled this "I'm Not As Young As I Once Was". We had a pretty nasty ice storm over the winter here in Oklahoma City and the whole area had terrible damage to trees. Broken limbs everywhere, with some trees having to be cut down or trimmed severely. I have a large oak tree in the backyard that came through the storm with just a few limbs broken. Recently, I looked up into this tree and saw two large limbs that were broken and hanging down and still attached to the tree. They were both too far up to reach from the ground to cut them out easily. As I looked up into the tree, the 25 year old in my head said this is doable. I can get a small ladder to get me to the first branches and then it appears it would be an easy climb to get to the branches. Haul up an electric chain saw, what could go wrong. No problem, easy peasy. At 25, I was strong and agile and there would be a  99.9% chance that I could handle this task. However, the 55 year old in me still thinks it is doable with no issues. The wise 55 year old also knows the odds are now probably 60% that I can handle it without losing a grip or slipping off a limb and breaking something. Sticking with statistics, my self confidence level is high and I calculate that there is a 99% chance I would make the 60% success rate. 

Luckily, my neighbor asked me what I was going to do about the limbs and offered to help with a pole saw that should reach the limbs without me risking a fall. I haven't completed the task yet, but wisdom may win out on this one. 

In retirement, and as I get older, I have been avoiding a few things that I would have done in my younger days. I don't go quite as high up on the ladder, I don't get on the roof, I don't try to lift the heavy stuff without assistance of a wheelbarrow or dolly. I'm still fully confident that I can balance on the top rung of the ladder and stretch as far as possible with no issues. I'm still fully confident that I can get on the roof and run around with no problems, although the pitch seems to be getting a little steeper every time I look at it. I'm still confident I can lift the 300 pound potted plant without a problem if I really wanted to.

My 25 year old in my head also continues to tell me I'm not old yet. I really hope this continues until I'm 100 as long as it doesn't cause me to die from falling from a tree! I have always heard about older people falling and breaking a hip or other bone. Although I'm not 100 yet, I am aware that this body is aging. I searched for reasons older people fall I found a list of 7 things.

  1. Sarcopenia- Loss of muscle mass that starts at early as age 30.
  2. Loss of flexibility
  3. Decreased Proprioception- Awareness of where our body is in space and how to move which results in slower reaction time and balance.
  4. Dizziness- naturally or from illness
  5. Medication
  6. Nerve damage
  7. Poor Vision

I had a fall about a month ago in the back yard. I was pulling a few weeds in a raised flower bed along our back fence. As I stepped down with one foot, I hit a muddy spot and my foot slipped right out from under me and I fell on my right shoulder. I laid there for a minute and was hoping I hadn't broken something. My unexpected trip to the ground was due to the mud and not one of the above reasons. Fortunately, I was fine but it proves how quickly something can happen. So, I'm listening to the 55 year old and I'm staying out of that tree in the backyard!

Has your younger self told you that you can do something that winds up backfiring on you? What have you stopped doing as you have become older?

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Name On A Rock

 My wife is into researching our family history. It is very interesting stuff. She has uncovered ancestors on both sides of our family that have served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War and World War 1. She has found where some were buried. On a trip last week to North and South Carolina and Georgia we used a day to try to find the cemeteries of some of our ancestors. We drove for hours up into the north section of North Carolina and looked for one family cemetery. After following directions from online research we came to a wooded area. I stopped a man on a tractor and he knew the cemetery and pointed in a general direction into the trees. We both searched for awhile and never found it. We left there and headed for a second cemetery and once again followed directions and were stumped as to where exactly it was. After stopping at a local home we were pointed to another home that had the cemetery on it's property. We pulled up the drive and saw a fenced in cemetery. After getting permission from the owners we found the headstone of one of my wife's ancestors buried in 1826. What a piece of history! Our last stop was at an old church and cemetery with two of my ancestors. Once again, our directions took us to a wooded area. A knock on a door across the street revealed that the church and cemetery had been moved in the 1960's to a local park. After locating the park, we found the church and cemetery overlooking a golf course. We found the headstones of my ancestors buried in 1765 and 1767. That was before we were even a country!

In the second cemetery I saw several headstones that were just rocks with the names and dates scratched into the surface. Even some of the nicer headstones were almost unreadable due to age and deterioration. It brought me to the realization that we all are reduced to a name on a rock. It was interesting to be standing there in these cemeteries and imagining the time they lived in but then it was sad to think of all the lives long gone and forgotten. Very few of us will be immortalized in the history books. Most of us, like our ancestors will not be known, in any way, after a couple of generations unless someone is doing some family history like we were doing. There is no telling how many family cemeteries have been lost to nature never to be found again. 

There are a few people that will be remembered forever in the history books. Some, like Carnegie, have their names on libraries across the country that will be around at least a little while. Even those with their names associated with name brands or other items are quickly forgotten over the decades. 

I, unfortunately, have my name on a rock already at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial as I am listed as a survivor of the tragic event. My name and many others are inscribed in marble on the grounds. I'm sure even this will eventually be destroyed in the future when that past means nothing to those in the future. It is certainly nothing I am proud of as it also represent those that were lost that day.

All of this is a reminder to live every day fully and have a positive impact on the people and family around you. Even if I am only remembered by the living for 50 years or so, I want to be remembered in a positive way. I don't want to be remembered as an evil person, a mean person, an ungrateful person, etc. I, as well as most of you, want our friends and family to say good things about us and have good memories of our lives and interactions we had with them. We all need to live our best lives today, knowing that one day we will just be a name on a rock. At least that's how it works on this old Earth of ours. 

On a positive note, the spiritual side of me is not worried about being remembered as I will be enjoying the sights and sounds of Heaven and will meet all those that have come before me. 

Have you researched your family history and found anything interesting? Have you looked for ties to the past like we did in our search for the burial sites?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Is It Wrong or Is It Different?

 As I grow older and wiser I have become more tolerant with other people and their point of view and their way of living. If we all step back and take a look at this crazy world we can easily see it takes a lot of different kinds of people to make this old world go around. I've began to recognize the difference in people is what makes life interesting. I now see someone much different than I and now say "that's interesting". This brings me to the title of this blog "Is it wrong or is it different?" So many of us look at someone who is dressed wildly different than us or living wildly different than us as just plain wrong. Our way is the right way and anything outside our comfort zone of what we think is the right way to live is wrong in our eyes. But is it really that wrong? Isn't it more in the category of "different". I have no plans or desire to color my hair a bright blue or purple color. If I see someone on the street with purple hair, is that wrong or is it just different? Just because I wouldn't do my hair that color does not mean that it doesn't work just fine for the person that does.

Is the neck tattoo of someone's latest girlfriend wrong or is it just a little different? Again I would never get a neck tattoo but many consider it artsy and a display of their freedom to do what they want. Is the huge ear gauge wrong or different? Again not for me, but if you want a huge hole in your ear, knock yourself out. 

The pursuit of happiness is defined as a fundamental right mentioned in the Declaration of Independence to freely pursue joy and live life in a way that makes you happy, as long as you don't do anything illegal or violate the rights of others. The key is that it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. So, if someone is pursuing their happiness and it doesn't infringe upon my rights, more power to them. Obviously everyone pursues happiness in different ways. Some are misguided and some are self destructive, but most are just different than the way you would do it. If you pursue happiness with drugs or alcohol or other destructive behavior, you can bet you may very well infringe on other's rights with the results of your behavior. This would definitely be wrong, not different. 

This country has many laws and rules to help us all live safely and in harmony. The Bible has many rules and moral directives that should be followed if you are a believer. The violations of these things are wrong rather than different. Breaking the laws and rules is wrong, exhibiting your individuality without infringing on others is different. 

We have all seen the quirky car or truck with a homemade paint job or hand painted graphics. We have seen the car with stuffed animals tied to the grill or different items glued directly to the paint. We have seen the cars covered in bumper stickers or homemade signs. We have seen the house with the neon paint or the collection of used appliances in the side yard. We have seen the mohawk, buzz cut, dreadlocks and every other type of hairstyle. We have seen the wildest clothing or mismatched clothing. All of these are just different, not wrong. We all shake our heads at those that are different and mutter "that's just wrong", but we need to change that attitude to one that says "that's interesting and different". 

I heard a saying several years ago that reminds me that we are all different even though we may think we are the cool kid on the block. The saying is "Everyone is someone else's weirdo!". Let that sink in the next time you look at someone and say "Look at that weirdo" and think to yourself that someone out there is looking at you thinking the same thing!

Have you become more tolerant in retirement of those that are different than you? Any particular story that you want to share on how you have embraced the differences that make us all an interesting part to mankind?