Friday, December 23, 2022

What Is Retirement?

There are several definitions of retirement that I found in searching Google. One definition is the withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life. Another definition is the stage in life when one choses to leave the work force and live off sources of income or savings that do not require active work. Another definition states that retirement is when one leave the workforce for good. Retirement means different things for each of us. Some can fully retire from the workforce but choose not to and stay in their active working life until they can no longer physically perform the work. Some retire from a full time career but take up part time work and thus are not fully retired by the last definition. Some can never fully leave the work force due to lack of a pension or adequate savings. 

I met a man a few months ago that was painting a house in our neighborhood. He had just come down off a ladder and was at his truck when I had a short conversation with him. This young man of 76 had been painting houses for 40 years. He said he still loves the satisfaction of a paint job well done. He was still getting up and down the ladder even though he had fallen off the ladder into an empty hot tub on a recent job and hurt his shoulder. He said it still hurts and he was to have a MRI soon to see if surgery is needed. I jokingly said that maybe he should hire a younger man for the ladder work and he agreed. This 76 year old looked to be in great shape and I'm sure his work helped keep him that way. I don't think "retirement" was in his vocabulary. In his opinion he was doing something he enjoyed and would continue doing so as long as he could.

We all know or have seen people who work late in their life. We see politicians that work into their 80's and sometimes die while holding office. I can't imagine that being an enjoyable position and imagine it to be very stressful with the travel and the bickering that happens in the political arena. We see actors and singers who love their profession and also perform as long as they can. I heard the other day that Indiana Jones will be back this Summer! There are many old bands that still tour the country with the members in their 70's and 80's. You would think after 40+ years on the road they would want to retire and settle down!

We each have our own expectation of retirement and what that life looks like. I guess some have the mindset to retire as soon as possible and pursue other activities while some never think about retirement because they enjoy what they do so much. I guess I can't say I'm retired as I do a little part time work, only about 5 hours this last year but by the last definition I have not left the work force for good. In my opinion I'm retired. For some, retirement is a beach house in Florida. For some, retirement is travel around the country in an RV. And, for some, retirement is sitting in a recliner and watching TV all day. 

What is your version of retirement. Do you have a "pie in the sky" vision of retirement where you and your spouse are super fit and walking hand in hand on a white sand beach everyday? Or, is your vision of retirement more reality based? Is there an age where you think you should give up your working life or are you an old rock star that will rock until you die?

Foreigner Still Rocking!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Christmas Memories

This time of year always brings back memories of my childhood and growing older over the years. My family lived in a house on about 26 acres of land in North Texas. The land had numerous cedar trees on it that provided our Christmas tree every year. We would go out into the pasture and find the perfect tree and dad would cut it down and haul it into the house. It was always much bigger in the house and had to be trimmed down quiet a bit to fit the space. By the time he was done there were cedar needles all over the house but it began to smell a little like Christmas. I remember at least once where we took a tree up to my school for our class Christmas Tree. I was so proud that we provided the tree that year!

Decorating the tree was a family affair and we all gathered around and put the ornaments on. Some were handmade by my two sisters and I and some were store bought and several years old. We began the decorating process excitedly but quickly tired of putting on ornaments after placing 10 or so on the tree. The grand finale of decorating was placing the tinsel icicles on the tree. We always had several new boxes of these every year. Each box held about 10,000 strands and it would take you forever to put them on! At the time, they probably cost 29 cents a box or something similar. My sisters and I started out putting them on one strand at a time while delicately placing them on the branches to hang just perfectly. By the end, we were throwing handfuls at a time at the tree and they landed wherever they wanted. My mother would come behind us and thin the bigger deposits and redistribute some of those strands to the empty sections of the tree.

I always remember sitting at the base of the fully decorated and lit tree and staring at all the wrapped presents with so much excitement. I could not wait until Christmas arrived! Our family always opened the wrapped presents on Christmas Eve night. These were presents that were from mom and dad or from one sibling to another. The kids were usually given a small budget to buy the other two a gift or two. Our Christmas Eve dinner usually was chili dogs because we wanted a quick dinner as soon as dad got home from work so we could begin opening presents. I know, chili dogs, really? My mother continued to have chili dog dinners on Christmas Eve for years whenever we gathered to do our family Christmas. And then, on Christmas, Santa came overnight and left more gifts under the tree for us to discover the next morning. Which sometimes was 3am when one of us woke up and bounded down the stairs to see if Santa came. Those were great times!

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day scheduled served us well over the years as my wife's family always waited until Christmas morning to open all gifts. This allowed us to have Christmas Eve at my family's home with my kids and then have Christmas morning at my wife's family's home. Now that our kids are grown and we have three grandkids we will have Christmas at our home on Christmas Day. I hope my kids and grandkids will have great Christmas memories of these days. 

We haven't had a live tree but once or twice in my adult years. We currently have a nice artificial tree in the corner. It sheds needles as much as a live tree when I put it up and take it down. Our tree has ribbon and a variety of decorations. One thing it lacks is tinsel icicles! On our old live cedar trees, we threw out the tree with most tinsel still on it. I can't imagine trying to remove tinsel from our artificial tree every year to pack it away.

What are your Christmas memories of your childhood? What was a favorite gift you got when you were younger? Mine was a BB gun and a bicycle. When do you celebrate Christmas with gifts, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Anyone else out there do chili dogs on Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas everyone!! Remember the reason for the season and enjoy those family interactions!

Monday, December 12, 2022

New Things To Add To The New Things List

 On December 5th, my wife and I added another New Thing done this year. We went to a glass blowing studio and each made a blown glass ornament. After the instructor dabbed a pipe into molten glass he handed it to us to roll on a table. Next he dabbed the pipe into the furnace for additional glass. We then rolled our molten glass in two different colors, of our choosing, and then we put it into another furnace to melt the glass color into the original clear glass. Boy, was that furnace hot! 2400 degrees! We then handed the pipe and glass to the instructor who rolled and shaped it into a round ball while we blew into the pipe to create the round bulb. It was a lot of fun! The glass had to cool and we picked the ornaments up the next day. We had created a one of a kind keepsake for our Christmas tree. A couple in front of us said it was their fourth year of creating a glass ornament. What a cool Christmas tradition. We already plan on going back next year. 

While waiting on our appointment time we visited a fused glass studio next door. The owners were making Ginger Bread ornament of glass. With fused glass, you decorate the piece with bits and pieces of colored glass and then fire it to melt all the glass into one piece. We got a flyer from them and plan on this being another New Things for us to try in the near future.

We had dinner at a new place in town before we went to the studio. Well, it was new to us. I think it opened in 2006, but was our first time. It was a pub called McNellie's Public House. It was an old three story building with a bar on the first and third floor with dining on each floor. We enjoyed a great dinner in a new spot. Overall, we had a great night and it helped add a lot of fun to our week of keeping grandkids and prepping for Christmas. 

Another New Thing we did recently was to hide ducks on our last cruise we took in November. I had posted about cruising ducks a few posts back. We took about 50 ducks to hide and hid about 10 a day on our 5 day cruise. I found 10 ducks with one duck having a tag from an earlier cruise out of Los Angeles. I will add a tag to it and hide it again on our next cruise. I saw one little girl looking for ducks one morning and pointed her to one of my hidden ones and to another I spotted. She was very excited as she hadn't found a duck up to that point. Hiding and finding ducks added a whole layer of fun to the cruise and I plan on doing it again on our next cruise.

Our ducks to hide!

Ducks found!


Have you tried glass blowing? Have you tried any New Things lately that have been a great experience?

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

What Books Are On Your Christmas List?


I recently saw a TV interview of the singer Bono on an early morning news program. During the interview I became aware that he was a man of faith and that he had a new book out titled Surrender. I have put that book on my Christmas wish list for this year. I have been watching Dave Letterman's show No Need For An Introduction on Netflix and saw an interview with Will Smith. The interview was before his big slap down of Chris Rock. Will Smith talked about his troubled childhood and I found out that he has a book titled Will. That book has also been added to my Christmas wish list for this year. 

I like to vary my reading with books that include Fiction, History, Memoirs, and Devotionals. I will read a couple of Fiction books, then throw in a History story and back to Fiction. 

What books are on your Christmas list this year? Anything interesting that you added? Do you stick to one genre in your reading or do you mix it up? What is your favorite genre? In the Fiction category I usually read thrillers, adventure and murder mysteries.  I'm always looking for suggestions for a great read!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Brand Names

This post is a follow up on my last post of  want vs. need. In that post I talked of keeping up with trends in house decor. This post will focus on brand names in other product areas. 

Nike, Polo, Guess, Rolex, BMW and many others are known brands throughout the world. Brand names are popular in everything you can possibly buy including cars, clothes, jewelry, perfume and food. Some brand names are known for their quality such as Rolls Royce for cars and Levi Strauss for jeans. Some brand names are know for their status symbols in society such as Rolex, Cartier, Gucci, Porsche, Montblanc, etc. 

Brand names cost you more just for the name itself. When you go to the grocery store you have the option of many popular brands such as Green Giant, Libby's, Kellogg's, Coca Cola just to name a few. All the name brands typically cost more than generic labeled foods that are similar. Brand name drugs are vastly more expensive than their generic version. 

When I was young I remember wanting to get Converse shoes to play basketball in. I, and most everyone on the team sported our Converse proudly while playing our games. Back in the 80's, Converse was the brand everyone had to have in basketball shoes. It was later replaced by Nike and numerous other brands. Today, there seems to be more choices than ever in athletic shoes and about everything else. In high school I always wanted a Pioneer car stereo and speakers. The shoes and the car stereo were about the only brand names that I really, really wanted at the time. As I got a little older I bought a few Polo shirts with the little Polo player on the chest. 

Besides the few brand names above, I haven't really gotten caught up on having to wear the popular brands or driving the popular brands. My wife and I do have our favorite brands with some food items. There are certain brands that do taste different than others. We will always buy French's yellow mustard over the generic. We will always buy Miracle Whip over other mayo products. We will always buy Oscar Mayer hot dog wieners but will put them on store brand buns. 

On a recent shopping trip to the grocery store I noticed that the shelves of store brand can goods were noticeably of less volume than the name brand. I believe people are being more price conscious in the current economy and are choosing the can goods that are 20 cents cheaper. The stacks of Libby's and Green Giant can vegetables were very full with only a few cans missing while the store brand stacks were about half gone with empty boxes left in the area. We buy store brand in many products including can goods, some cereal, pasta and other items.

In retirement, as we become more cost conscious, we may look at brand names differently than we used to. As we get older, wearing the current trends may not be as important as it used to be. There are probably times where you still want the latest and greatest. I imagine that a retired golfer still wants to wear the most popular brands and wants to swing the newest and best golf clubs. If you are comfortable with your finances in retirement, you may decide to finally get that BMW or Audi that you always wanted. 

I see a lot of older people that just don't care about brand names or about how they look at all. I see older people at Walmart in T-shirts that are 40 years old and sweat pants that they obviously also use for yardwork and painting. Just this week I saw a gentlemen sporting a Reagan/Bush '84 shirt. These people are definitely not worried about brand names of today! 

Are you more cost conscious when it comes to brand names than you were in your younger years? Are there certain brands, such as our French's mustard, that you must have over generic? Have you become more cost conscious with the recent uptick in inflation? And lastly, do you own a Reagan/Bush '84 shirt or something similar that is you go to favorite?

Monday, November 7, 2022

Want vs. Need

Our needs on the planet are pretty basic. We need water, food, clothing and shelter for basic living. If we have a roof over our heads and are kept warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer, we are doing good. If we have running water, electricity, natural gas and have food in the pantry, we are doing good. Another basic need item may be transportation to get to work, school and to shop for basic needs. After that, our needs become more like wants. In the U.S., I feel that most of us have the basic needs met and most of what we desire fall into the want category. 

In retirement once basic needs are taken care of, we can work on things we want. If you have sufficient funds you can now get the things you want for your hobbies and your well deserved free time. You can upgrade your car to something that will be dependable and last you many years. You can buy things you have wanted for years but never got around to getting. Recently, I purchased a lever action Henry rifle. This was definitely not a need and was just something that I thought was cool and wanted for the sake of owning it. My wife and I often go into our local Walmart to purchase things we need such as milk, eggs, coffee, etc. But, we always come out with twice as much stuff as what was on our list because we find so much that we want once we get to shopping! 

I am fortunate that I have a good retirement pension and our needs are easily met. I need to cut down some of my spending on items that I want at the moment. I know there are many people in retirement that do struggle to meet needs. Those living on a low fixed retirement income or those that have lost the higher earning spouse due to divorce or death are certainly watching the pennies on a regular basis. In retirement, we all need to have a good balance of satisfying the wants and not get so carried away with spending that we jeopardize our future retirement years. On the other hand, if you have the funds, now is the time to enjoy spending your hard earned funds to a certain extent.

I've always heard that those who lived through the depression years were frugal for the rest of their lives based on that experience. Even as a young child my family did not have the funds to purchase a lot of extra things. Our basic needs were met and we didn't live poorly, but we did not get everything we wanted. Christmas and birthdays were special times where some of the things I wanted were gifted to me and dearly appreciated. In this day and age most of us jump on Amazon or some other website and purchase about anything we need or want and have it delivered the next day. What a spoiled society we have become. 

My son was recently looking to buy his first house here in the OKC metro area. He started looking months ago when houses were selling within hours and they were selling for above list price. My wife and I went with him to several showings and open houses to give him company during this time. We went with him to one showing of a house built in 1966. The outside was nice and clean and well taken care of. The windows had wrought iron deco along the side of the front windows for a shutter effect. As we entered the house, we entered a time capsule. This house was just as it was when first built in 1966. As we entered the bathroom, we noticed the tile was original as well as the tub and showers. The second bath also had the original "vintage" tile. The light fixtures through most of the house were original. The woodwork and built in wood shelving were all original to the house. In the kitchen, the stove and oven also looked to be the original appliances. The only thing that I saw that was an update was a whole house generator on the back patio. 

The owners of this home had lived in that house since 1966 and must have asked themselves the question of "Do we need it or do we want it?" and only did something to the house if it was a need. They did not rip out the tile every time a new trend came along. They did not get new kitchen appliances because Better Homes & Gardens said stainless was in style this year. That 1966 stove heated up the meals as well as the new stainless stove would. The bathroom tilework did it's job since 1966 without any need to change the color for the sake of changing the color. I can only imagine what the owners could have spent the remodel money they would have spent over the last 56 years. Maybe they took a few trips that they wouldn't have been able to afford if they had remodeled every 10 years. Maybe they helped send their grandkids to college. The home was a very comfortable feeling place as we walked through. I'm sure many family gatherings were held there and many good memories were made. And, since they didn't remodel and tear out the original tile, fixtures, etc., the house is back in fashion as the mid century modern deco becomes popular again.

I need to remind myself to reuse, repurpose and recycle instead of throw away and replace as I often do. Have you ever been into a house like the one above and been amazed that major changes were never done to keep up with trends? The same want vs. need can come into play with about any product. Cars are another item that are often replaced for a newer version when the old can be used for many more years with no problems. Every once in awhile I see an older person driving a car from the 60's or 70's that still looks original and in great shape. I'm not talking about a restoration or collector car, but just an average car that had been used to get around town for decades. When I think of someone driving an older car because it still works, I think of Sam Walton who drove an old 1979 Ford truck even when he was a billionaire.  

Do you remodel to stay up with current trends? Or, have you resisted remodels and live in a house from the 60's and 70's that is still decorated like the Brady Bunch house? Do you drive an older car or know of someone who still drives an older car every day? What is your take on wants vs. needs in your retirement years? Have you made a purchase of a major want now that you are retired?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Rock


When my wife and I first moved from North Texas to Oklahoma City, in 1992,  we purchased our first new home in a nice little neighborhood. Two houses down from us was a couple who had twin boys the next year and we became good friends with the family. Later with the birth of our daughter and then our son, we traded off babysitting for date nights and did a lot of things together. That friendship has lasted through today and is one of our most cherished relationships. Sometime in those first few years, our friends held a garage sale. They had a lot of items of their own and some items contributed by their parents. I decided to go take a look at the treasures for sale and noticed several round rocks for sale. Yes, rocks! I gave them a hard time about selling rocks and told them I would start gathering rocks for my next garage sale. 

A day or so after the sale, one of the rocks was gifted to me. They thought it would be funny to give me a rock that I wanted so bad at their sale. We kept the rock for awhile and then regifted it back to them in some form or fashion. The rock has passed back and forth now for over 25 years! It shows up when you least expect it. Sometimes it shows up as a wrapped gift. Sometimes it just shows up on the front porch with a new decoration or two. We just sent the rock back to our friends with it wrapped like a pumpkin with candy inside the wrapping. That poor rock has Easter stickers and smiley face stickers attached as well as tape with the family name and year it was regifted. 

This little back and forth has been fun over the years and I hope will continue for another 25 years. It is a dumb little thing we do, but does bring a smile to our faces when we open the door to the rock. I have heard stories of similar traditions over the years. I have heard of family members passing some awful Christmas gift around every year. Some awful vase or necktie gets regifted every Christmas to another family member to enjoy for a year. 

The rock, to me, does not only represent a little silliness. It also represents a great friendship. A friendship in which one couple will take the time to pass the rock back again someday. As long as the rock gets passed back and forth, we know we will continue to have contact with one another. The rock is also a tradition that our kids have loved to be a part of. It is something simple, but something fun that has lasted for 25+ years. The rock is a very small part of the relationship we have with this family. We have all enjoyed good times and shared heartache in bad times. We have supported one another through births, deaths, job changes and much more. I look forward to what the future holds for us all and to share in their lives as long as possible.

Does your family have any similar tradition? Or, have you heard of other friends or family doing something like our trading of the rock? If you have ever thought about starting such a tradition, now is a good time to start!

As the rock sits in it's other home, I already miss the little guy. Hopefully he will return back here again someday!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween and Candy


Halloween is here! Happy Halloween everyone! Last night our family had a small Halloween party and decorated sugar cookies and then posted them on Facebook to be voted on. Our son-in-law won the contest with a nicely decorated ghost with a blue tie. We also had a chili dinner with a family chili cook off competition. My wife won with her Turkey Chili. We all had a great time and made a huge mess with our cookie decorating!

Now, it is Halloween and we have our candy bowl ready to go. We never know how many trick or treaters we will get. Some years we have a lot, some not so much. After our kids had grown up and were out of high school we did a few Halloween nights of turning the lights off and spending that evening at the movie theater. 

Some people go all out for Halloween and fill their yard with decorations and blow up figures. We have a few pumpkins in the yard for a Fall display and a few pumpkins on the porch. We have a few small Halloween decorations inside the house. Do you go all out for Halloween? Or, do you have few decorations or none at all? Do you host a big Halloween party? I think I have only been to two Halloween costume parties. I was a robot at one and Fred Flintstone at the other. 

How about candy for the treaters? This year we have a large bowl of mini chocolates and a bowl of miscellaneous suckers, Smarties, etc. Of course, with the chocolate my favorites will be the last to be given out just in case there are leftovers that I'll need to dispose of in the coming days! I've always heard that there is a house or two that give full size candy bars. I never found that house as a kid! I always found the houses with the old lady who would give you one piece of candy at a time. The worst was getting that cheap peanut butter candy like the picture below!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Fingerprints On The Glass


My wife and I keep our three granddaughters through the week. The oldest is three and a half and I'll call her V in this post. Her twin sisters are about ten months old. I probably don't have to say this, but......they keep us busy! I have a study that has a large desk with a glass top and two sets of Ikea bookshelves with glass doors. The study also has a fifteen pane glass door from the front entrance into the study. Our coffee table in our living room has four large glass panes as the top of the table. 

Our oldest granddaughter, V,  likes to sit in a chair at the coffee table to eat her breakfast and her afternoon snack using the glass pane table top as her dining table. By the time she leaves for the day, the glass is covered in crumbs and sticky substances and smudges. Clear evidence that a toddler sat there enjoying her snacks!

I remember when my kids were young and we had fingerprints and smudges on every glass surface they could get their little hands on. My daughter's favorite thing to do was to rub her fingers all over the window glass in the car where she sat high in her car seat. That window always looked a mess. She would draw pictures in any fog condensation on the window or would wet her fingers in her mouth and draw on the window. I don't know how many times I cleaned her car window over a few years time!

Her daughter, V,  is now doing the same thing in our car whenever she gets the chance. Not as bad as her mom, but she still has the same talent. When I'm at my desk checking email, blogging, etc. on my laptop, V likes to come over and ask me to hold her. I grab her up and set her on one knee to spend some time with her. Her latest thing to do at my desk is to draw robots and robot dogs on a pad of paper that I jot my to do list on. While sitting there, she will also have a few TicTacs from a side drawer in the desk. By the time she leaves she has done a number on the glass top. After she leaves for the day, I will glance into the study and see the fingerprints and smudges all over the edge of the glass top on the desk and then I head to the kitchen to get the glass cleaner. 

It dawned on me today that those daily fingerprints and smudges will only be around for a short time as V and her sisters get older. I envision that sometime in the future V will no longer want to sit on Pawpaw's knee or hang out with me like she does today. I know that I need to savor every moment I have with these three angels and enjoy the fingerprints and smudges. Those things are evidence that she was here and that she left her mark. V has left her mark on the bottom edges of the TV as she began to stand up and walk in her earlier years. She has left her mark on the bottom portion of windows as she was learning to pull up and stand up so she could look out the window or pat her little hand on it.

V's twin sisters are now beginning to leave their little prints and smudges as they crawl and pull up to those same windows and sit with me at my desk. I enjoy these times and know they will pass quickly. I figure that my wife and I have a short window of a few years with them in which we are a large part of their world.

These little angels are also leaving their fingerprints on my heart in the form of sweet memories and I hope that my wife, Nana, and I are leaving fingerprints on them that will help form and shape them into awesome people. 

So, I will continue to clean the glass daily or weekly with a smile on my face, knowing that three little angels have passed through this space! The twins just woke up from their nap and they have taken their turns helping me finish this post. Both have left new tiny fingerprints on the edge of my desk top. 

Do you have grandchildren or great grandchildren that leave their mark in your home and on your heart? What are the prime years that grandchildren think their grandparents are awesome? Do you feel that your time spent with them has helped guide and shape their lives?

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Cruising Ducks


On our last cruise I found a duck with a tag attached to it. My granddaughter had found one on a cruise about a year earlier. That was the first time I knew of such a thing as a "cruising duck". The tag says "Oh what luck, you found a duck! Keep or hide, you decide". The tag also asks you to post a picture to Cruising Ducks Original Facebook page and has the name of the person or family that hid it. I posted a photo of me and my duck from our last cruise and then joined the Facebook group. I never knew that cruising ducks were such a big deal. I was very excited to find this duck and looked for another the rest of the cruise. The Facebook group has postings of the duck collections that people are taking on their next cruise. Some take 20, some take 100 or more. It's crazy! 

Some recent posts show people that have bought 3D printers to print ducks. Some are bedazzling their ducks with small jewels. Some are knitting ducks or making duck jewelry. The cruising duck scene has a life of it's own. The posts that show people who have found ducks are heartwarming. You can see the joy on their face as they display the duck they have found. Some have found one duck after searching for them for many cruises. Some have found numerous ducks on one cruise. It is all great fun!

We have a cruise coming up in a few weeks. I decided we would hide a few ducks to get in on the fun. This will be our first cruise to hide ducks and I'm excited to make someone's day. I've already gotten carried away with buying a wide variety of ducks. I have stopped buying and will take about 45 on our trip. Some are small and came 4 to a package. Some are a little bigger and are different colors. The last 5 I bought were blue and had snowflakes on them. I figured these were perfect for a November cruise.

If I'm successful at hiding them and find a few myself, I can see this turning into a fun thing to do on all future cruises. Has anyone out there found a duck on a cruise? I don't think the trend is very old and just got started the last couple of years. It is a fun thing for all cruisers regardless of age. Have you heard about this "cruising duck" craze? 

Have you heard of or experienced any other similar trend in your travels? I recently saw a news show about Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island where a local glass blower hides glass orbs every year along a walking path. The story showed proud owners of the orbs and talked of people who have hunted for the orbs for years without finding them. Have you heard of any other "treasure" hunts like this that are ongoing? All of this sounds fun and I would love to find one of the glass orbs some day. For local retirees, this would be an awesome walking activity while looking for orbs!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Say A Nice Thing!

Another short post to as a follow up on the last post. Last post I challenged you and me to do something nice and report back in the comment section. This time I challenge you and me to say something nice to someone. Make an effort to go out of you way to look for something to compliment someone about. Compliment someone on their appearance, their lawn, their attitude, etc. and then report back in the comment section.


Friday, September 30, 2022

Do A Nice Thing!


This is a short post as a reminder to myself to be a better person. This post is also to challenge my readers. I do not go out of my way to look for opportunities to help people like I should. I have times where doing nice things come to mind but I tend not to focus on it all the time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not mean to people, I just fail to take a moment to go out of my way sometimes to be nice to someone.

Yesterday, while at the grocery store, I loaded my few bags of groceries in the back of my car and headed to the cart cage to deposit my empty cart. I looked down my parking aisle and saw an older woman finishing up unloading her cart so I veered over to her and offered to take her cart along with mine. I got a huge smile and a thank you. I don't tell the story to toot my own horn. I tell it in a challenge to my readers and myself to do something nice for someone. Please seek out an opportunity daily and then return here and comment what nice thing you did. I will continue to seek out opportunities and will comment on my progress also. 

Please comment with any nice act you do, whether small or large. Maybe your reported "nice act" will spur someone else to do the same thing. Being nice does not cost a thing unless you escalate it to buying a coffee for the next person in line or something similar. So, get out there and do something good for humanity!

Sunday, September 25, 2022


 Definition of perseverance

continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition the action or condition or an instance of persevering STEADFASTNESS

I recently finished two books that made me think of the word perseverance. Both books were true accounts of war heroes. The first book was "On Full Automatic" by and about William V. Taylor Jr. and his tour in Vietnam. The second book "Damn Lucky" was written by Kevin Maurer about the service of John Luckadoo during WWII. Both stories are amazing and really put you smack dab into the middle of two historic times. Both achieved something despite tremendous difficulties, failures and opposition as defined above. 
William (Bill) Taylor tells of his battles and hardships endured in the Vietnam War. His tour of duty was 13 months and his personal battle was to survive those 13 months and return home safely. He survived ambushes, booby traps, snakes. leeches and more to get to the end of his tour and return home. Each battle that Bill Taylor engaged in might result in the death of several of his friends and fellow marines. One of those had just found out his son had been born the day before he died in battle. Several died in their last month or two of their tour. 
John Luckadoo's story involves his deployment to a B-17 bomber group. He has to survive 25 missions to return home. Out of 40 men he trained with and flew with in the 100th Bomb Group, only 4 survived the missions. He survived enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns to finish his 25 missions. John Luckadoo returned from many missions in which 20 or more bombers failed to return with his crew. The odds were that only about 25% of crews made it to the 25 missions and returned home. He survived and turned 100 this past March! Their stories show their determination to persevere through their situation to hit those magic number of 13 months or 25 missions despite terrible odds of surviving to the end. 
Their struggles and near misses demonstrate what we all are capable of in tough times.
In retirement, most of us don't come close to facing the situations of the two young men above where perseverance is at the highest level you can imagine. However, there may be numerous situations in which perseverance is a valuable tool during your retirement and your last 20 or more years on this earth. 
In retirement you may have small situations that require short bouts of perseverance such as a repair or remodel of a part of your home, an unexpected car accident that you have to deal with, a family or personal relationship that has gotten off track for some reason, a financial hit to your budget or retirement funds and many other short term "tough" situations.
Also, during your retirement and last half of your life, you may endure much tougher situations involving death of family or friends and personal medical situations involving you, your spouse or immediate family. Major medical situations would be the most likely situations that might equal the life and death battles that the two men above endured. My wife has persevered and continues to do so with her breast cancer diagnosis. Her perseverance through chemo and radiation treatments has shown how tough she is while in a very hard situation. 
During "Lucky's" missions, he talked of being scared to death as he walked to his plane for a mission. But, once he climbed into the plane, he knew that he had a job to do and he began to focus on the moment rather than possible outcomes. I saw this same determination in my wife. Once she was hooked up to her IV, she would even make a comment about having to do what she needs to do to be around in the future for the grandkids. To me, she had the same attitude of perseverance that the bomber pilot had and I have full faith that she will continue to persevere for the next 30+ years!
I need to remind myself daily about the tough battles that people are going through and the fact that my life is going pretty well even though small things get me down sometimes. There is always someone else out there who is persevering through some pretty bad times. As much as people grumble about the state of the U.S., I wouldn't trade it for anything. We need to think of the problems going on in Ukraine and Haiti to remind us of how great we have it right here. We also need to continue to remember the heroes like Bill and Lucky who helped give us this great life we have today!
Have you had to persevere through anything lately? Any big issues that really knocked you down for awhile, but now are in the past? Have you read any great books lately that are similar to the two I just read? 

Monday, September 19, 2022

What's On Your Coffee Mug?

Here at the Retirement Coffee Shop, I enjoy a couple of cups of coffee every morning. A cup of Folger's usually starts out my day. On occasion I may have some roasted coffee that I picked up at a local coffee shop. Every morning I reach up into the cabinet above my coffeepot and pick out the coffee mug of the day. My favorite is a mug I picked up at the Evel Knievel Museum. Some of my other favorites include a cup that has a picture of books on a bookshelf, a NASA cup and a new favorite is a plain blue Corell cup. 

When out thrifting, I see a million coffee cups in all shapes, sizes and colors. Many have advertising logos and many have a few words of wisdom on them. You have seen many of these cups before with words embossed on them such as "I'm the boss!" or "Best Dad" or some other saying. My son bought one over the weekend that had a cat in a Santa hat and said "Meowy Christmas". I saw a coffee cup a few weeks ago that had some retirement slogan on it. I should have grabbed that one for my daily coffee.

I think your coffee cup says a lot about you. My coffee cups, shown above, say that I am a highly intelligent daredevil spaceman or something similar. I have three coffee cups that just sit as decorations on a bookshelf in my study.  One is a bright orange mug with Cozumel written on it, one is a Life Is Good cup with a cartoon guy laid back in a chair and one is a White Pass train cup with three train engines on it. These three say that I like Cozumel, trains and a relaxing day. 

 A "Best Dad" cup says you probably are a great dad and you love your kids and they love you. An "I'm the boss!" cup says that yes indeed you are the boss and you are proud of it. A cup with a puppy or cat on it shows that you love animals and especially love your pet. If you have a cup with some type of company logo it shows you are too cheap to buy a mug and got that one for free somewhere. Some coffee cups have your name on them. I don't know why you really need your name on the cup unless you keep it in the cabinet at work and it would show everyone that it's yours and yours only. 

A person's coffee cup may indicate they love nature, sports, a certain hobby, music, etc. by what's on the cup. What does your coffee cup say about you? Do you have a favorite cup or two that you use a lot? Do you have a cup with a really cool saying on it? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Mr. Fixit


I've always been somewhat of a handy man. I guess I learned the basics from my dad. He could fix about anything. I'm much like my dad in the fact that our fixes sometimes are not the most beautiful repair you have ever seen. But, nonetheless the repairs solved the problem.  

My wife and I recently flew to Seattle and then went on an 8 day Alaskan cruise. When we retrieved our luggage in the baggage area during our return home, my wife advised that this was the last trip for one of our suitcases (Big Bertha). I told her that "Ol Bertha" had at least another 5 years of travel in her. She rolled her eyes as she looked at the suitcase with a handle I had bolted back into place and a roller wheel that I had duct taped back on. I told her a new strip of duct tape and she would be good as new! We recently bought a new set of luggage, but after one flight they got scratched up and a handle broke. There is no need to try to keep nice luggage. In our experience, the handles on the suitcases do not hold up well. I repair them with a small bolt, washer and nut and they seem to do much better. 

Another recent repair resulted in the development of a Franken Turtle. My 3 year old granddaughter loved a small rock turtle that my wife and I had bought on vacation in Cozumel. She loved that turtle and dropped it several times on our tile floor resulting in turtle legs and head flying in different directions. After gluing the guy back together at least 3 times, the last drop just totally destroyed him. This was a few months ago. On our Alaska cruise we bought a similar rock turtle and brought it home to her. She was super excited and carried it around our house for a few days without incident. She insisted taking it inside a restaurant last week and dropped it on a tile floor. It shattered and then she fell apart. I recovered pieces and when we got back home we pulled out the glue. When I arranged the parts, I realized I was missing two legs. The genius in me told her we would find two small rocks and make legs. We were able to do so and got him back together. He looks somewhat like a turtle and should last another drop or two. Looking back, we should have bought several of the $5 turtles to keep in reserve! You can see our homemade rock legs in the photo below.

I enjoy piddling around the yard and the garage and working on small projects. I get great satisfaction in little things. Last week I installed a rain gauge in my yard. I had pulled open a drawer in one of my toolboxes and saw the rain gauge sitting there. I had been meaning to install it somewhere for the last two years we have lived in this house. So, I grabbed it and two screws and a few minutes later had a fully functioning rain gauge. Good thing I did it, I was able to measure some rain a few days later! Recently, I have changed out a few sprinkler heads, replaced a couple of outdoor landscape lights and planted a hardy hibiscus shrub. Before that I had small projects of taking apart, cleaning and reassembly of an old bench grinder and vise that used to be my dad's. Both came out looking great and working great. 

A few things on my current "to do" list include installing two pull bars next to our bathtub, replace and paint a wood gable vent on the front of our house and plant 2 shrubs that my wife purchased. I also need to charge a couple of batteries in our Ring cameras and trim some shrubs. Home ownership always supplies me with a list of things that need to be done. There are always a/c vents that need to be cleaned or a/c filters that need to be changed out as well as other monthly maintenance things that come up. Most of these I enjoy doing and then have the satisfaction of crossing them off my "to do" list.

Are you or your spouse a "fix it" kind of person? Do you have some ugly, yet functional, repairs that you can share? What are some of your most recent repair or maintenance projects?

Friday, September 9, 2022

Hawaiian Shirts

I was looking through my closet at my shirts today deciding what shirt to wear, when a retirement question hit me. That question: Is there a rule on when you can wear a Hawaiian shirt? You know the old saying about not wearing white pants until after Easter and other silly sayings about clothing. I wondered if there was an spoken or unspoken rule for happy floral shirts. It would make sense that you should wear them only during warmer months or on a cruise ship. I like to wear them because they give me a little "pick me up" and small feeling of being on vacation. Then I thought, "I'm retired, who cares when I wear those shirts!". 

In former days, people dressed up to go to the movies or dining. Some of the old photos show an audience at a movie theater and all the men are in suits and hats and the ladies in their nice dresses and hats. Our society today has changed a lot since then and clothing rules have gone out the window. I searched the world wide web for clothing rules. Some I had heard of, some I had not. One article was titled "14 Dressing Rules That Everyone Should Learn Once and For All". So, for those who need some guidance when dressing in the morning, here they are:

1. The middle button on a jacket should always be closed. The upper one depends on your mood. The lower one should never be closed.

2. When you are wearing a shirt or a blouse, you can unbutton no more than 2 buttons.

3. Wear earrings that match your bracelet and a necklace that goes well with your ring. 3 or 4 things in one look is too much.

4. The tip of your tie should reach your waist and cross it just a little.

5. Opt for either a miniskirt or cleavage. Both at once look too vulgar.

6. If you are wearing a shirt without a jacket, you don't need a tie.

7. Your office shirt cleavage should not be deeper than 4" from your collarbone.

8. If you tucked in your shirt, you should wear a belt.

9. Your naked skin should not be seen between your cardigan and your jeans. Wear a top if necessary.

10. Your belt should be the same color as your shoes.

11. All visible tags on clothes should be cut off.

12. Don't wear too many prints. You can wear 2 different prints of the same color or 2 coordinating prints of different sizes.

13. Your socks should be long enough that your naked legs aren't seen when you are sitting.

14. An office blouse without sleeves should cover your shoulders. "Spaghetti" straps are not okay in formal situations.

The most important thing about this mention of Hawaiian shirts! I'm free to wear them when I want!

I have numerous shirts that I have bought with floral prints, most were purchased in the Caribbean while on a cruise. I have never been to Hawaii, so I have no real Hawaiian shirts in my closet. I don't live in Florida or on an tropical island in which you would happily wear these shirts year round. But hey, there is no reason I can't bring a little vacation sunshine into my home this winter by wearing a bright colored floral shirt with a few parrots on it!

Some of the rules above, I have heard about including the tie length and matching the color of your shoes to your belt. As a man, most of the rules above don't apply to me.

These days there aren't too many people who follow any kind of clothing rules. I see people in pajamas at Walmart and almost anywhere else. I guess they are comfortable, but it looks a little too comfortable to me. I even see a lot of older retired men wearing pajama bottoms and an untucked plaid shirt. Maybe they have the same attitude as I do of my Hawaiian shirts of "I'm retired, who cares".

Do you have clothing rules you follow? Do you were pajamas to shop in? I admire those that look sharp and often will compliment them. I do this standing there in my Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, socks and crocks. Looking good Mitch!