Thursday, June 22, 2023

Summer Projects

Summer is a great time to tackle a few projects. Over the years, I have planted trees, completed landscape projects, painted the exterior of a house, roofed a house and many, many more projects. Most of those Summer projects were done after work hours and on weekends. In retirement, projects can be done any time and any day and I love it. Retirement also affords the opportunity to work on projects at a slower pace because I no longer have to complete the project in a certain time period so I can get back to my job.

This Summer I have completed a few small projects and just last night completed painting my garage doors. The paint on the doors had faded with the constant exposure to the sun. I caulked across the top where it needed new caulking. I washed the doors down with a good soapy mixture to prepare it for a new coat of paint. I have a three car garage with a single door and a double door. On Monday I painted the single door and last night finished the double door. I enjoy painting once I get started. Painting gives a lot of satisfaction to see the difference a coat of fresh paint can make.

My dad like painting. Sometimes he loved painting. If he found a half of a can of purple spray paint at a garage sale or in the back of his shop, you can be sure that something was getting painted purple by the end of the day. 

My next big project also involves painting. Our pool filters are located in a large fiberglass tank. The sun has done it's job on the tank and the tank is chalky looking and I get tiny fiberglass fibers on me when I open it up to clean the filters. My hands and arms get very itchy if I touch the tank at all. My plan is to lightly sand the tank and paint it with marine paint that is designed for fiberglass boats. That should solve my itchy problem and make the tank look much better. It will be an all day project by the time I unhook the tank from the pool pump system and then prep and paint it.

Do you use your Summer for projects? What have you tackled so far this year? What are you future projects that you have planned? 

Get out there and enjoy the Summer in whatever you do and stay cool out there!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Homemade Ice Cream!

Last week, my wife and I had ice cream at a new shop around the corner from the house. It is a new location of an ice cream shop we visited recently on the north side of Oklahoma City. The place is called Boom Town Ice Cream and is a small batch creamery with a lot of excellent ice cream flavors. My favorite is their chocolate chip cookie dough on a waffle cone. It is a special treat to grab an afternoon ice cream snack at this place. There are several other small ice cream shops in the city that are awesome also. We have one local shop, Capital Ice Cream, where you choose a variety of cereals and ingredients to be folded into ice cream to create your own special flavor. Boom Town has a sign that says "Ice Cream Is Always The Answer.". I agree! Retirement is the perfect time to try new ice cream shops. You can have a tasty ice cream cone any afternoon with no need for it to be a special occasion. We will get ice cream on a Tuesday afternoon just because it it Tuesday afternoon!

On a recent thrift store outing with my wife, I noticed a couple of homemade ice cream makers for sale. This made me think that we are overdue to make some homemade ice cream. We have an ice cream maker and don't use it that often. There is no better ice cream than homemade ice cream! We normally make a plain vanilla but have added some chocolate chips in the past and may have tried another flavor or two. I remember, as a kid, making homemade ice cream in a wooden ice cream maker at my grandparents house. It was an old wood maker with a hand crank. My dad would crank it while my two sisters and I would take turn sitting on a towel on top of the maker to hold it down while dad cranked away. Once our bottoms began to get too cold we would hop off and the next one would hop on. It seemed to take forever for that ice cream to get frozen enough to eat! I imagine it was even longer for my poor dad as he cranked it by hand. But, oh how good that ice cream tasted after waiting patiently for it to be ready.

Mom and Dad eventually got an electric ice cream maker that we used many times. As I got a little older I was able to put the ice and salt in the sides of the maker to help out. I would sneak a piece or two of the rock salt and let them slowly melt in my mouth as I monitored the ice and salt in the machine. I will admit, even today, I will do the same thing with rock salt when I am in charge of making ice cream. Maybe I am salting my taste buds for that sweet taste of the ice cream. 

It does take some effort to make ice cream at home. You have to gather the ingredients and put the mixture together. You have to make sure you have enough ice and ice cream salt to freeze it in the ice cream maker. And, you have to have patience to listen to the grinding of the machine for some time to freeze the mixture into that awesome ice cream. We use an electric maker and it seems like it takes longer than it actually does. We wait patiently for the motor to finally quit and indicate that the ice cream is ready. The motor seems to slow to almost a stop and then gets a second wind and grinds away for another 10 minutes before we think it's going to stop again. sometimes the cycle continues several times. With each slowing, our anticipation grows for dipping into our finished ice cream!

Do you have any great ice cream shops in your area? Do you visit them regularly? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Do you have any great memories of making homemade ice cream in the past? Any rock salt eaters out there?  When was the last time you made some ice cream at home?

It's Summer and prime ice cream time! Get out there and enjoy a great ice cream cone somewhere or make your own special treat at home. Happy Summer!

Monday, June 12, 2023

An Older Couple

A month or two ago my wife and I were staying at a hotel while visiting my wife's mother for a few days. We checked in at the front desk and were given our two keys and our room number. We hauled our luggage up to the room and quickly became frustrated when the keys did not work. I tried both keys and kept getting a red light on the electronic lock. My wife went downstairs to get new keys and returned with the desk clerk who was going go make sure our keys worked this time. The clerk scanned the keys and opened the door. We all were at the door looking at a young man sitting at a desk in the room looking at us. The clerk asked who he was and why he was in the room. Apparently, the previous desk clerk had checked him into the wrong room while showing him actually checked into another room. We followed the clerk back to the front desk to get reassigned a new room. We had a good laugh and I joked with her about making sure our new room was not occupied already. All went well and we finally got settled into a non-occupied room.

I am 57 and my wife is 54. The next morning, I was enjoying some coffee down in the lobby in the breakfast area. Other early risers included numerous workers who were in town for some type of construction project. While sitting there, I hear a young man telling his co-workers about sitting in his room when his door was opened by the desk clerk and an "older couple". He related that he was glad he hadn't just stepped out of the shower and the table of workers had a good chuckle. 

Older couple!! What the heck, I thought, as I digested the fact that my wife and I were referred to as an older couple. I'm not old, at least in my mind. An older couple should be in their 70's or 80's! I guess to a young man in his late 20's or early 30's, a couple in their 50's is an older couple. I laughed inside at this designation as an "older couple" and my wife got a good laugh at it when I told her the story.

I guess age is set by the observer. Much like the fact that there is always someone else who makes more money or has a bigger house, I think there is always someone else who is "older". I guess that will hold true until I hit my 90's or the big 100. 

What is your view of the age of an "older couple"? My wife's parents have always talked about the "old people" at church. They have referred to "old people" even when they were late 70's themselves. We always found it funny, when we left their house, after they talked about the "old people" at church. 

Do you have a similar "older couple" story to share? Surely we are not the only couple who has overheard someone refer to us as an "older couple". It was a funny experience to go through and gave me a good topic for a post, but if I ever see that punk kid again, I'm going to challenge him to a foot race!!


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Finding Sea Shells


My four year old granddaughter continues to amaze me and teach me lessons about life. She attends a private pre-school at a very small school. The school has a large yard that has a garden, a play area and a sand pit for the kids to play in. Several months ago, she came home carrying a broken sea shell that she had found while playing in the sand pit. She is so proud of that shell and it is one of her most prized possessions. She carries it around often and will show it off to any and everyone. She will gladly tell you that she found it at school in the sand pit and that no one else has found a shell. The simple joy she gets from this sea shell just warms my heart.

We have a small plastic turtle sandbox in our backyard full of sand and a few small shovels and cups to play with. I got the bright idea of purchasing a bag of sea shells at the Dollar Tree to seed the sandbox with a few shells. The first time she sifted through the sand and found a shell was priceless. The look of excitement on her face was the cutest thing ever. She ran into the house to show her Nana, Mom and Dad her recent find. After that, she couldn't wait to dig more shells! At one point she had found the five shells I had planted and continued to dig furiously. I told her that she may have found them all. She replied, "I know there are more!" as she kept digging. I went to the garage and grabbed a few more shells to put into the sand without her knowing. When she dug the next one up, she excitedly exclaimed "I told you Pawpaw! I knew there were more shells!". She was as excited for the 6th shell as she was for the 1st shell. 

I continue to hide 5-6 shells every time she leaves so there will be more fun ahead for her. This tiny little sandbox just keeps on giving up the shells! I love the her enthusiasm and excitement as she digs through the sand for that next treasured sea shell. She has the same wide eyed excitement with finding worms, doodle bugs and many other things. 

I recently read a great book In Awe by John O'Leary. In this book, O'Leary talks about how adults lose that childlike wonder of the things around us and normal everyday experiences. He talks about our need to look at the world through childlike eyes and not take things for granted. The book also discusses how nothing is impossible. He advises that most of modern day amenities were once impossible. Think about that for a moment, Traveling the world in cars and airplanes would have once seemed impossible. Travel to the moon or Mars, once impossible. Texting and emailing and sending photos and movies over the internet, once impossible. The book was very good and reminds us to look at the world around us with new eyes.

As I get older, I have learned a lot about enjoying the minor things in life and to be in awe of more things around me. I encourage you to read the book and see if you can take something from it. Hopefully, we can all get excited about finding a sea shell in the sand and enjoy the moment to the maximum!