Saturday, August 28, 2021


Since I have retired I have begun working jigsaw puzzles fairly frequently. I enjoy them during the winter months when I can't get outside and when the weather is not so good. I do not possess a lot of patience so longer term projects such as building a plane or restoring a car is probably not for me. A jigsaw puzzle allows me to have many little wins while I am working it. I really enjoy White Mountain puzzles that contain a collection of many different things. I am currently working the one above with TV lunch boxes. I have also worked White Mountain puzzles that involve cereal boxes, childhood books, candy, etc. I get my little wins and sense of accomplishment many times with these puzzles. Finish the Fruit Loops cereal box among the 20 cereal boxes...Win! Finish the Goodnight Moon book cover among 20 other book covers....Win! Finish the whole puzzle....Mega Win!

In the winter I may finish one puzzle and break out the next one. Right now, I may finish a puzzle and not start another for several days or weeks depending on my mood and how busy I am with other things. Over the last two weeks, I finished two puzzles while my wife and I were in Houston for her cancer surgery. I'm sure I will finish many more if we are down there for extended periods for any chemo or radiation treatments. Last week's puzzles included a 500 piece and a 1000 piece. Most of the ones I do are in that range. I have picked up a few 500 piece puzzles at Dollar Tree of colorful hot air balloons, fields of flowers, etc. 

With my patience level, I do not attempt those crazy two sided puzzles with the same scene on each side but at 90 degree angels. I do puzzles for fun, not to drive me crazy!  I usually pick colorful puzzles that are fairly easy to put together. I want enough color and shape difference in the scene to allow me to concentrate on certain areas at a time. I do not want to do a 1000 piece puzzle of a green grassy field or cloud filled sky where every piece looks like it could fit anywhere on the puzzle. That is madness for me! I really like White Mountain Puzzles and Buffalo puzzles. The piece sizes and quality seem to be better than most. White Mountain puzzles often retail for $18.99 or more. I get most of my puzzles on discount or at thrift stores and pay 99 cents to  $2.99. I have found two White Mountain puzzles (all pieces were there!) at thrift stores for $1.49 and $2.99. Once you find those deals it is hard to pay full price for them. The one above was bought at a toy store at a discount at $8.99. I figured for hours of entertainment, that wasn't too bad of a price.

Puzzles are probably "old fashioned" these days with all the games and things on our phones and endless streaming possibilities. But, the engagement of my mind, I think, is better than being on my phone or watching TV. Hopefully, my puzzle habit will stave off dementia.

Speaking of "old fashioned", I enjoy playing dominos and cards, but haven't played either in some time. Maybe when we get past this pandemic, I can convince some friends or neighbors into a game every once in awhile. My parents used to play "42" dominoes with friend often. They also played "Conasta", the card game. I learned "Conasta" but haven't played it in 30+ years and would need a refresher. I'm sure there are some that still play a weekly or monthly game of dominoes or cards and I think I would enjoy that. A recent phenomenon seems to be Mahjong. I hear that the game is fun but takes some time to master. I would definitely like to add Mahjong to my accomplished list of new things this year or next.

What do you like to fill some of your time with? Do you do jigsaw puzzles and if so what are your favorite sizes, scenes, etc? Do you have a weekly game night of cards, dominoes or Mahjong? Are there any other things you do that are similar in nature?

Friday, August 13, 2021

'Ol Bessie

 In retirement, I have two pretty dependable cars that I have mentioned before. A black Toyota Tacoma and a blue Subaru Crosstrek. I hope that these cars last us a long time and will not have too many costly repairs. When I was young my dad named some of his cars, 1937 Ford Truck was Henry, his newer blue truck was 'Ol Blue and his red truck was called Red. He was very innovative with his names. I began naming my cars just for fun and to carry on dad's tradition. One of my first loved cars was a 1973 Mustang Mach 1. It was a turquoise color called medium aqua and had an avocado interior. Someone must have ordered those two colors together, because it was a strange combination. Over the years that car was painted with gray primer after a head on collision with a cow. That car was Bessie. Somewhere down the line I had heard of that name for a car and it just stuck with me. From then on I named most every car we had with well thought out names. There was White Bessie, Blue Bessie, Red Bessie, Work Bessie, etc. My '73 Mustang became Original Bessie just to keep track of things. One time at work, I had to fly from OKC to Albuquerque to pick up my new work car, a red Ford Taurus, and drive it 9 hours back to OKC. I got home and announced that after getting a good feel of the car and it's personality and having 9 hours to contemplate it, I had picked out a name.....Red Bessie. My wife and kids just groaned. 

My two kids have picked up the tradition and named their cars too! My daughter's first car, a red Mustang convertible, was named Abby and then her next car, a blue Honda Civic, was Blueberry Giles. Her current Ford Edge is called Sandy. My son's first car was a white Mustang named Sadie and his next car, a maroon Mustang, was Ellie. His current Ford Focus ST is called Stella. 

My wife named her blue Subaru, Blue Bonnet and my black Toyota is Midnight. I know, Midnight is out of my normal Bessie range, but I also refer to it as Black Bessie. I often refer to her car as Blue Bessie and she quickly corrects me. 

Retirees on fixed incomes must have good dependable transportation that doesn't break the bank with upkeep and repairs. There are lists from various sources on the most dependable, the safest, the least repairs, etc. When looking for your retirement cars, please do your research and pick something that will suit your needs and your budget. Most often, retirees are not caught up in the glitz and glamour of the priciest cars out there, but looking for good, dependable transportation. Some will downsize from two or more cars to just one car as the extra is no longer needed to get back and forth to work. For my wife and I, we need two to go our separate ways as needed and to have a truck to carry larger items when needed. We use her Subaru for most road trips due to the space and great mileage. We use my truck for shorter trips, Home Depot trips, and I use it when going metal detecting (she doesn't like all the dirt in her car!).

What vehicles did you pick to drive and why? Do you name your cars? If so, what are the names? I'm sure there are some unique names out there!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Cruising Success!

 Returned yesterday from our cruise and it was awesome! Cruising at the beginning of the pandemic comeback has it's benefits. Our ship had a passenger capacity of around 3600. On our cruise the passenger count was around 2000. What a difference that made on board! Never a line of more than 3 people at the buffet line on the Lido deck. Open lounge chairs on all decks. The dining room was no more than half full at any time. The cruise was at full staff as far as workers go and we were waited on hand and foot. This was only the second month back in operation and the staff were very excited to be back on board and working and it showed. 

This was a family cruise and we took our single son and married daughter, husband and granddaughter on this trip. Our two year old granddaughter had a great time. She was one of the youngest and one of the very few children on board. The staff treated her like a princess and she loved every minute! The only signs of pandemic effects on the cruise were having to wear a mask upon embarkation and debarkation, having to wear a mask at both port cities (Progresso and Cozumel) due to local and national rules. Unvaccinated cruisers had to stay on board in the ports or take a "bubble" tour from Carnival. Our two year old granddaughter stayed on board with one parent. All things on the ship were normal. No mask needed for vaccinated cruisers (which was at least 95% of us). All normal shows, comic shows, bingo, etc. The only thing not running on board was Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat for the little kids. 

I was able to have coffee at one of my favorite spots as I noted in the blog "Coffee". Up on deck 10 or 11 looking off the back of the ships in early morning. Glorious!! Savored even more after this last couple of years.

My wife and I went way out of our comfort zone on this cruise. This is our 8th or 9th cruise and I never want to volunteer for any contest that will get me on stage or out in front of a crowd. Before this cruise started my wife had made the comment that she was going to do whatever and have a great time no matter who was watching. She stated she has a changed attitude, since her cancer diagnosis, and she said she doesn't care what other people think anymore. On our first full day of the cruise, we were out on the Lido deck when a contest was announced for 20 contestants to compete as the cruise Mixologist for coming up with the best drink. My wife signed up so my son-in-law would sign up and at the last second I joined in. My wife and I have no idea on how to mix up alcoholic drinks. The 20 contestants were given a sheet to pick our ingredients and to name our drink. I circled 3 alcohols and 3 juices. I have never made this and I had no clue as to what it would taste like.  My wife named her drink "Nana's Surprise" mine was "Mitch's Brew". The host was going to select 4 of us to compete in the fun. I sat down and heard my wife's name get called and then right after, I got called. "Cool", I thought, "this could be fun". We go up to the front of the Lido deck crowd and the the cruise director announces not only will our drink be judged, but also our dancing. My brain was saying "Hey, wait a minute!". We all 4 danced a little in place while the DJ played music and I thought this wasn't too bad. Then the cruise director calls me out, puts me in the middle of the deck, hands me a glass and says "Now you have to shake it like you mean it" or something to that affect. I couldn't quit now! The DJ hit the music and I shook that make believe drink like you wouldn't believe, up and down, side to side, behind my back, between my legs. Finally, it was over and the next 3, including my wife, had to do the same thing. Then one by one they made our drink and let the 3 judges taste them and judge them. My drink concoction got three "5's", my dancing not so much. At the end of the contest I won, my wife was runner up and the last place got "1's" because his drink looked like green sewer water and must have tasted just as bad!  For the rest of the cruise "Mitch's Brew" was available at the Lido deck bars! My wife and I had never done anything like this, but we had a blast! It's always good to get out of that comfort zone and experience something knew.