Don’t you hate it when your mate comes home from a hard day at work, or your boss comes up to you and says those words? Moms do this to their kids all the time.
When it happens to me, my mind immediately goes blank. I am programmed to answer something, so I do a quick mental scan. I made the bed, I think. Maybe my husband did it while I was typing on the computer. I posted two articles, one for Manny and one for me. That’s fun stuff, so it doesn’t count. I shouldn’t even mention it.
Kalev and I walked two miles. That’s impressive. I made lunch. It was good, but hardly noteworthy when expounding on what I “did.” Here’s the most time-consuming, “I answered emails.” Again that activity falls into the ho-hum category. Let’s see, I edited an article or two for “What’s Happening in the Foothills.” That might be impressive if it hadn’t taken me two hours to tweeze out 75 words with the help of a Style Writing program that keeps shutting down. I posted the assignment for my writing class online. My last assignment didn’t get award-winning stars and A+ remarks from the teacher, so that took a while, too.
So when my husband came home and asked me that intimidating question, I knew he would not be overly impressed with my morning’s work. But now you know, I worked really hard yesterday morning, and accomplished quite a bit. It just didn’t look impressive.
Over 20 years ago I wrote these two poems which I think actually were published at the time.
Vacation Cleaning Schedule
I want a show case home, small, but neat as a pin. I wipe the kitchen counter, and notice messy drawers within.
So I clean a drawer or two, put things in proper places. Gosh – something from the garage – I walk a few more paces.
Hmmm. Guinea pig saw dust bag, I really should clean their cages right now before I forget. I was right. It’s been ages.
It’s my garden’s fertilizer, but look at the weeds out here! I’ll stop right now and pull them up, or they’ll take over, I fear.
Weeds remind me of my yard. It really does need trimming. I’ll get the weed eater started at least get the front before swimming.
The spa needs chlorinating. It’s been three days at least. I’ll just turn it on and come back. Whew – I’d better first take my yeast.
Let’s see, what was I doing? Getting yeast and vitamin B in the cabinet next to the sink. Toast crumbs and dishes I see.
I want a show case home. I know just what to do. I’ll make a list and check things off until it’s cleaned all through.
Now where is my paper? Back towards the office again, my showcase home is just in sight, it just looks a bit lived in.
The other poem was an experiment in simple rhyming verse. I tried all kinds of styles of poetry mostly haiku, pantoums, rondels, and limericks. I’m going to type the verses here all together like I did the top poem because I don’t like the way they are spaced otherwise.
When I have too many things to do, I only want to read. And when I have a deadline, too, even chores will supersede.
My list will say grade math, and do my lesson plans, but doesn’t doggie need a bath, and my trash put into cans?
My cupboards will be spotless. My computer will be bare. The dust that causes such a mess floats once more in the air.
But will my math be graded? Term papers done on time? Or will my flowers be shaded by that just-planted spindly vine?
The debate continued for over 100 miles assisted by cell phone research.
HowmuchfarthertoClearlake?What’s the ETA? What about Willits? I’d almost like to drive all the way home, but I’m uncomfortable towing the trailer in the rain.”
As usual Vince asked Marsha several questions, so she managed to answer all of them, just not at the same time. “The ETA to Willits is 5:40. OK, let me figure Clearlake.” A few clicks using the navigation app brought up the mileage and the estimated time of arrival quickly. Marsha liked Vince’s new iPhone 5. “And the ETA to Clearlake is 7:05. I think you could make it to Clearlake, then it would be an easy drive home tomorrow.”
Marsha was not pulling the trailer up the mountain, through the trees, and around all the curves. The most she was doing was keeping the dog company, and snapping a few pictures. “You know, I’m ready to stop. I think we’ll go to Willits.”
In the past, the general rule was to drive till you get there, don’t stop to look at the historic markers, just plow on through. Vince could almost feel himself changing as he pulled the trailer every mile. He pulled over frequently to let long strings of traffic pass by. They stopped at vistas. This was a different way of travel than driving by car to go see someone.
“That’s fine. There’s a KOA there, and we should be there in an hour.” Marsha was not opposed to stopping either. They had been on the road five hours already, and would travel a little over 200 miles altogether that day. Considering the late start they had, that was not a bad goal.
There was a full-fledged petting zoo, trailer spaces with spas, wifi, two ponds, one of which was for sport fishing. You had to throw the fish back once you caught them.
The large heated pool was busy as they drove into the office at 6:15.
After they registered and set up, Marsha explored taking a hike up a large hill to the path into the redwood forest on the property, but when it started to drizzle, she and Puppy Girl returned to the campsite full of news.
After a brief visit with the neighbor, and a few minutes to watch the weather on TV, Vince said, “I think I want to spend another night here. I just want to relax tomorrow.”
Marsha could see that they would have plenty to do. There was miniature golf, a little western town, each building set up with it’s own entertainment.
“Sure, that sounds like fun,” she agreed. It was settled. Vince went over and registered another night.
The next day they woke up to light rain.
After a leisurely breakfast at the Lumberjack Restaurant, they headed out for a drive. “I want to see what the road to Clearlake is like,” Vince told his wife. It rained off and on the entire way, winding through the trees to the last town in the Redwoods before the mountains turned into foothills, and quickly into the flat, Central Valley that went on for 450 miles.
“I’m glad we didn’t try to do this today,” Vince told Marsha. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, and I know we can get home.” They turned around and drove back to Willits, and spent the rest of the day enjoying all that the RV park had to offer.
They might go home tomorrow. Would Vince be able to resist the call of his house for one more day? Was Puppy Girl anxious to get home? Would they EVEN leave the next day?
Why wait to find out? The adventurers had a great time at the Willits Campground, but aren’t you anxious to get home at the end of your trip? They drove the whole way the next day, got home to find a huge tree limb blown over in the driveway. Nothing was damaged, so not even a downed tree limb could dampen their spirits. They had a great Accidental Vacation. Thanks for reading. :)
“I had no problem writing in my journal when I used a mechanical pencil,” she grumbled to Vince. “So I couldn’t find my pencil, and I quit writing. I didn’t write anything yesterday, or maybe it was day three. What have we been doing since we got here? I remember the Trees of Mystery. I’ve lost track.”
Since he had nothing better to do for the moment, no lawn to mow, no sprinklers to fix, no chores of any kind, Vince sat down with Marsha and they started sorting through the hundreds of pictures in all of their cameras. “OK, that’s enough for now,” he said, jumping off the kitchen bench seat across from Marsha. “You’d better hurry if you are going with me. Doyouwanttogo?Iwanttoleave here by 6:15 this morning so I can get to the car dealer by 6:45.” Vince took a breath.
“Yes, I want to go.” Marsha rushed to answer the last question she heard.
Vince continued. “The dealer opens at 7:30, and maybe somebody will come to work early. I want to be the first one there. Then I’ll take you to Starbucks and you can use the internet there. You haven’t written anything in your journal for five days! What happened? You can stay here if you want to work on your journal.”
“No,” she answered quickly. “It’s ok, I wrote some of it online. But now I’m mixed up. Is it Monday? I’m not used to being on vacation and being so out of touch!”
“You know it’s getting late. Are you going to take a shower? You’re burning daylight,” Vince prodded his wife gently away from her computer.
Marsha now understood what her dad had said to her 30 years before when he told her that she made him tired with all her bustling around, and couldn’t she just sit still for a minute and talk to him. It was all making sense. She was almost over her cold, but felt she was still moving at half speed, and Vince was still moving full speed ahead. She just wanted him to slow down for a second. It was 5:30 in the morning and he had already had HIS coffee and cereal.
By 6:15, as planned, they were on the road in their red rental car, winding their way back to Crescent City to see what might be wrong with the truck. While they waited in the parking lot of the GMC dealer, Vince alternated between pacing the lot, and checking his emails on his cell phone. It was nice to have cellular service. He barked a few orders of who to call and email to Marsha. He wanted to make sure that things ran smoothly back home.
“Vincie, it’s only 6:45 a.m. Hang loose a bit. I’ll call them when the sun comes up. Why don’t you go walk around a bit?” Marsha knew he was antsy. In all of her many years in education, she still hadn’t learned how to gracefully take orders and be Vince’s unpaid secretary. She didn’t mind working for free doing community work, but somehow it annoyed her when he thought he was her community. She had tried to train him for years until now he just mimicked her, “Isn’t there a better way to say that?”
Well anyone listening or looking at him would know he was a little pressure cooker. At five feet four inches tall, his 139 pound muscular build and tense shoulders told the tale that he never stopped moving. If there was nothing to do, he adjusted. It was time for him to make an adjustment somewhere besides inside the car. People had started to arrive, so he bounced out of the car and introduced himself. Men loved him. He carried himself like a mover and a shaker. His demeanor stated, “I am here to get this done. How do you think we can get this moving?”
Time passed quickly for Marsha too since she had internet and cell service. Vince kindly let her answer all her business emails, and by the time they had breakfast and got back to the trailer to leave for the day’s adventures it was 9:00.
Daylight was well on it’s way, and it was beautiful. The bright blue sky and 75 degree temperatures couldn’t have been lovelier. The couple drove south to Eureka to check out the road and cancel the other nights at the KOA they had booked. The attendant was kind enough to only charge a small cancellation fee, and they were on their way, but to where, they weren’t sure. There was so much to see in Eureka.
First on the agenda was lunch. Vince had not eaten much since 5:00 a.m., and he wanted man food. That meant burgers. Marsha had YELPED restaurants all the way from Arcata, and the one that sounded best was Surfside Burgers on Highway 101, the main street, which was also named 5th Street as it ran through downtown Eureka. The weather was so beautiful that for that one day during the year they enjoyed sitting outside at a little table eating their burgers with 1/2 inch chunks of bacon smothered with two kinds of cheeses, tomato and lettuce.
As they ate, Vince poured through the tourist map he had picked up at the Eureka KOA. “There is so much here, but I think my brother said we should definitely see the Ferndale Cemetery. Want to check it out?” His brother, Jimmy, had gone to Humboldt State, and was an expert in all things Northern California.
“A cemetery? hmmm. Sure, let’s go. Why not? Cemeteries can be interesting.” It really didn’t take too much to keep Marsha entertained if there was blue sky and she had her camera along.
“This one is supposed to be famous, according to Jimmy,” Vince added.
“Wow, this cemetery has plots. Unlike my journal, which has no plot,” Marsha joked. Look how big the markers are! This is the size of Ralph!”
“You could put two Ralphs in here side by side, Marsha. Look at the inscription on this one. Did you hear that woman over there that said she found someone here born in 1799? Almost all the markers around here are from the 1800s”
Marsha was already in another world taking pictures of cracks in the walls, and lopsided head stones, dates, and moss on rocks. Vince took the dog and walked up the steep incline to the top of the cemetery. There was no point in calling down to Marsha. He knew she would never hear him. Vince wished she were up there so he could show her where to stand to get the best pictures, but he knew she would get irritated at him for telling her what to do.
“Sometimes,” he thought to himself, “I just can’t win with that woman. She wants my help, then she gets mad when I tell her what to do. Why can’t she just do it, and smile at me? That would be a lot easier. It’s a good thing I think she’s cute!” Vince knew his 61 year old wife was no traditional beauty, but there was something about her smile, WHEN she used it, that he couldn’t resist.
Knowing and doing were two different things. Marsha did eventually make it to the top. “Come right here, sweetie,” Vince held his hand behind him for her to grab as he led the way over to his chosen spot. “The view is great. Just point your camera out this way. See how you can get the ocean in the view?”
Judging from the look she gave him, he had been right. He should have kept his mouth shut. But obediently she turned to align herself to his body, and pointed the camera exactly as he told her, and snapped the picture. “Was that so hard?” he thought to himself.
Marsha grinned at him. She read his mind, and decided it was not worth it to make a big deal over his bossing her. The day was too perfect. She kissed him lightly on the cheek. “That was a perfect shot, honey. Thanks.”
As they left the cemetery, Marsha struck up a conversation with a gentleman placing flowers. It didn’t take long until they were engaged in a heated conversation about whether or not Southern Oregon and Northern California should become the 52nd state of the Union.
“This area was all set to become the state of Jefferson before World War II,” he informed her, assuming she knew nothing about history. These trees need to be managed, and the government just won’t let us do it. Ferndale is dying. There’s no industry here,” his ranting continued.
“Marsha, sweetie, we need to be going.” Vince saved her.
“It was nice to talk to you,” Marsha smiled sweetly even though she wanted to punch him in the teeth. Vince and Marsha headed toward the rental car.
“Ferndale is amazing. I love this place! It looks like it is still 1852 around here. Let’s take our time and take some pictures of the buildings,” Marsha wheedled.
She hadn’t needed to try hard. Vince enjoyed watching her have a great time, and he loved the architecture as well. If he had been thinking with his brain when he was in college, he would have become an architect.
Architecture was his first love, and he knew he would have been good at it, but other priorities called louder than college, and he had been a good salesman, too. As a bright young man, his hard work rapidly drove him to the top of the electronics company where he worked many years. His thoughts of college dissipated in the fast running money stream. He still enjoyed designing and redoing their home. He was glad that Marsha enjoyed the beauty of the buildings as much as he did.
Quickly the day slipped by, and the couple headed back to their temporary home base in Klamath at the Golden Bear RV Park.
As they drove, Vince spotted a herd of elk bathing in the river, and pulled over. Marsha jumped out of the car with about 20 other onlookers and captured the amazing views on her digital camera. Vince snapped a few shots with his cell phone.
“There is another herd about 10 miles up the road,” warned a driver coming from the south.
When they reached that spot, the elk crossed the highway as if it were a meadow in their private forest. Cars on both sides of the road stopped in the road, and everyone got out to take close up pictures of the racked celebrities. The elk seemed used to it, stopping to pose as they crossed the street, or lay in the grass having a leafy picnic. The effect was magical. Drivers became instant friends as they marveled at the large herd animals. Vince sat in the car worried that Marsha would be trampled.
Eventually a few cars inched forward around the herd, and soon the spell was broken, and Vince and Marsha headed down the road. Both accidental travelers were ready for a nap, and they still had to figure out how Marsha was going to conduct her meeting the next night with no internet or cellular service.
Like the fog lifting the in the morning sun, The Twilight Zone of optimism surrounding Vince began to burn off. With each telltale defeatist comment coming from Vince’s mouth Marsha’s opposing positive comments became more frequent. Vince relaxed and began to enjoy a real vacation. “They’re not going to start on the truck until Thursday. They have to get the part from Las Vegas. I bet they don’t even have the part. We won’t get out of here until Saturday.”
“That means we can settle back and enjoy this beautiful place,” Marsha answered naturally. She would miss the cheerful Vince, but normal Vince meant that HE was relaxing. “What do you want to do today?”
“I’m happy just hanging around here for a while. Look at these pictures I took this morning.” Vince took out his cell phone and shared some gorgeous sunrise pictures with fog clinging to the redwoods on the hill and sun sparkling on the Klamath River as it charged its way to the Pacific Ocean a half mile away. The fishing boats had either gone back to their winter homes or lay still in the docks. Water lapped rhythmically against their sides, a metronome for the chirping birds catching their breakfast.
Marsha couldn’t argue with the natural beauty that surrounded them. She and Puppy Girl made several rounds around the RV Park. The manager tanned from many years in the sun, and missing many teeth from years of neglect and poverty rode up on his bicycle to chat as the couple walked down to the dock, this time with Marsha carrying the camera.
“Have you been here before? People stay here for months at a time. You just missed the salmon run. It slammed! This couple here,” he pointed to a man maneuvering his boat toward the dock, “they’ve been fishing here for years. They are both retired police officers. Gil caught his first fish in 1957.”
Even a distance Marsha didn’t think Gil looked old enough to be catching fish in 1957, but she had her first and only fishing experience at age 9, so she supposed he might have started fishing at an early age. Soon his wife joined him. Marsha, sitting on the dock snapped pictures of her appropriate fishing boots as she approached.
“Take a picture of where I ran into a wire. It took forever to heal, but it’s almost gone now.” The attractive blond with a ranger hat modeled for Marsha’s camera.
“We’ve heard you are good at catching salmon. You just made two new best friends,” Marsha called down to her, flashing a beaming smile teasing, as the couple revved off in their utility boat. They waved back, and were gone.
“You two should go up to the lookout point, right over there on the north side of the Klamath,” the friendly manager offered his tour guide advice to the neophytes. “You can see the mouth of the river, and the jetty where all the fishermen just catch salmon from the dock. Then if you go across the Golden Bear Bridge, you can go up the other side. Those are nice drive. Have you been to the drive through tree? That makes a great picture.” He chatted for several minutes before his wife came and put him to work again.
Vince, tired of standing on the dock watching Marsha take pictures of the seaweed decorating the dock’s underbelly, headed back to the chairs that lined the shore. “I say we go to the Trees of Mystery that’s just down the road today,” he called as he left her sprawled face down camera pointed into the water. “Don’t drop your camera!”
Vince couldn’t believe his wife could be so klutzy. She had already dropped her camera, with its brand new lens on the ground when she took it off the tripod. She broke another lens trying to climb up on a wall and misjudged the step, smashing it on the rock wall. She didn’t even wear the watch he gave her since the last one had fallen in the toilet, and another smashed on a grocery cart. “I might lose it,’ she had told him batting her innocent looking blue eyes. He bet she didn’t even know where it was. It amazed him that she could wear clothes without some catastrophe. Her wedding ring sat on the table by her bed, having rubbed a finger sized bulge onto her finger. Earrings turned her ears green then red and oozing – if she didn’t lose them first. Necklaces with delicate chain links or clasps broke, and if there was any inexpensive jewel, it dropped off unnoticed by his unobservant wife.
“Come on, let’s go. You’ll find some more mossy stuff on the trees you can photograph.”
With child-like obedience Marsha rolled over and stood up to follow Vince as he strode away, confident that she would do just that. They left Puppy Girl at the trailer, and ventured out in the rental car to see the Trees of Mystery, a famous spot they would have missed if the truck hadn’t broken down. Paul Bunyan and Babe welcomed them, and directed them to pay at the gate and make themselves at home. “Take your time,” the ticket person said.
Just as Vince remembered from forty years before when he brought his three-year old son to see the trees, the Trees of Mystery didn’t disappoint.
In addition to the carved redwood statues, and ancient living giants, the Yurok Tribe had added a sky cab that escorted them to the top of the mountain, where even the tallest trees became tiny as they ascended. From there they could see over the mystery forest to the ocean.
Like gazing at the Grand Canyon, after seeing pictures of it for years, Vince and Marsha stared at the magnificent forest framed ocean view, posed for pictures, and then stepped back onto the moving sky cab to go down. “The trees are beautiful from up here. So is the ocean,” they both agreed as the cab descended, then stopped, then descended again. “It looks just like the pictures.”
“You have to be patient to take good pictures,” Vince told her like the father lecturing his 10 year-old daughter. Marsha let him walk on ahead and enjoy the walk back down at his own pace.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like anyone can be patient with Mr. “We’re Burning Daylight Here” pushing all the time,” Marsha muttered as Vince raced down the path in front of her. Sometimes wanted to punch him, but that wouldn’t change his natural mothering tendency, nor was that her way. He still treated his grown son the same way. In 43 years Vince, Jr. had learned to tease his dad out of it. In twenty, Marsha still steamed quietly and went her own way.
Clear down out of sight, Vince called up to her, “Take my picture down here in the Cathedral Trees.” He spread his arms as if preaching to the multitudes, and beamed a happy face up to her. She snapped several pictures. “Was it the camera setting, or did Vince just move THAT fast? Maybe my camera broke,” Marsha thought as she checked each picture after she took it.
“You moved, Marsha. You ALWAYS move just as you snap the picture like you see something else you should take,” Vince instructed helpfully when she explained that she DIDN’T get the one picture or which he voluntarily posed. Maybe she would kill him in another life. It didn’t help that he was usually right.
After about two hours the tourists had taken every record shot, every sign. After a quick spin through the gift shop, Vince and Marsha headed back down the familiar section of Highway 101 to their new digs at The Golden Bear RV Park. No internet meant they would have to just sit outside and enjoy the healing sunshine. Marsha’s cold was melting away like ice on the hot pavement, but she could sure use an afternoon nap.
Is it a sin to take a nap when the weather outside is perfect, and be awake all night reading or writing?
“The car rental agency in Crescent City, CA had one car. We have water, and we have food,” Vince stated abnormally joyfully. He flashed his wife a boyish grin. “It’s actually kind of enjoyable here,” as he headed out the door to catch a ride with the tow truck driver.
The road between Coos Bay and Klamath, California couldn’t have been more beautiful. The fog looked like an elegant veiled gown draped across the beautiful landscape succeeding in making it more seductive. Each more curve in the road revealed yet another grove of tall elegant lacy redwoods, their symmetrical branches dangling moss speckled in mist. Every once in a while the redwoods would part, and frame a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean, gleaming white foam radiating a fine spray to the top of the cliff feathering to the tips of the giant trees.
The car went through a series of jerks going up the grade. “What are you doing?” Marsha asked Vince, who typically tested and retested everything to make sure things worked correctly. “This really isn’t the place to be testing out the brakes.” For some reason it didn’t occur to her that he would not be testing the brakes going UP the grade.
“That’s not me,” he answered seriously as they entered California. Only 10 hours or so to go before they got home.
Marsha had visions of ending up at the bottom of the cliff waiting for the rescuers. She was still concerned about brakes. “Even new brakes fail,” she thought to herself. They pulled over and watched a rescue operation, and gave the truck a chance to rest and recuperate from pulling its unaccustomed load up the long steep climb. “It wasn’t any steeper than this over Interstate 5, or was it? Well it wasn’t this pretty,” she continued her internal conversation. “Well, it was gorgeous, and not wet, but there’s nothing like having semi wheels rolling down the freeway less than 12 inches from your face at 80 miles an hour,” she reasoned, confirming to herself why they had chosen the longer coastal route over the freeway.
Vince pulled over just north of Klamath, CA. “I’ll be right back. You wait here with the dog while I check things out.” Vince disappeared inside the Jet Boat Tours Store. Within minutes he came back, bubbling with enthusiasm. “The man in there says that there’s a steep grade up ahead, and they have a nice RV park here,” he told her when he returned to the truck. “What do you want to do? Do you have cell service?”
Marsha knew that his mind was already made up. There may as well not have been any punctuation marks between the two questions if she had seen the words typed out instead of spoken. In fact there might not even have been space between the words either. What she heard was, “Whatdoyouwantododoyou have cell service?”
“No,” she answered before he started his next sentence.
“I’ll go check us in. I think that is best. Is that ok with you?” he said in one breath.
“Muh huh. I’ll wait here with the dog.”
Somehow she missed the part when he told her they weren’t going to even look at the truck until Monday. She walked over to the campground office to use the phone. She cancel their reservations for that night in Eureka KOA. Then she went back and canceled the next few nights in Eureka, and the following one at Durango RV in Red Bluff. She had already cancelled the KOA in Sacramento, and she had thought she was done. The truck would be fixed Monday, and they would be on their way. She could be optimistic, too!
The campground manager rode around on his bike back to the office. “There’s no TV service here,” she told Vince when she got back from the next trip to the office. “No phone, no internet.” It was a good thing they had brought a deck of cards.
“We’ll be here until Tuesday.” Vince told Marsha as they drove to dinner. The paper on the wall of the campground office advertised a “Prime Rib dinner for only $15 a plate.”
“Tuesday, ….. I told the woman in Eureka, we’d be there Monday.” Marsha knew she was whining a little when she realized another call was in order. In fact it was beginning to dawn on her that they would probably not even stay at Eureka. They would drive on to Red Bluff.
The Country Club turned out to be a smoky bar just a half-mile from the campground. They ordered at the door, and paid the glum cashier-waitress. Vince heard the total incorrectly, and reached into his pocket and pulled out an extra five. The glum one looked at Marsha with a challenge in her eye, gave her the change from the original amount, and quickly latched onto the extra five without batting an eye or uttering a thank you. The prime rib dinner, which had sounded so good on the flyer, reminded Marsha of a potluck dinner at the Nazarene Church, except that they didn’t have to stand in line to dish their own food on paper plates. The same well-used waitress came by and threw a rolled up napkin at her side of the table. Wrapped inside was the silverware. Vince asked her if he could have some silverware, too. She nodded, seeming irritated that he should ask for silverware with a burger and fries order. After about a half hour of watching the two elderly servers carve and serve the rest of the customers, Marsha’s meal arrived. Marsha decided that the mashed potatoes on her foam plate were probably as instant as the gravy. The canned green beans had bits of bacon and onion in them just like her mom used to make. The prime rib slab was real meat that probably weighed three pounds. She decided to take 90% of it home. She knew Vince would throw it away in a couple of days, but she couldn’t bear to discard it at the Country Club.
“Isn’t smoking illegal even in bars?” Marsha wondered almost to herself.
“It is in California,” Vince answered as if magically his ears were open to her mutterings. “Oh we are in California.” He touched the ashtray in the center of the table absently as he said it. “It doesn’t look like it’s enforced,” he finished with a little grin. They didn’t realize they were on Yurok tribal lands. Reservations have different laws, and even have their own police force. The Yurok Tribal Police car rolled by them as Vince and Marsha left the Country Club Diner. The foreigners were pretty sure that the enforcement officers weren’t going to the Country Club to enforce the no smoking in public buildings law. They looked like prime rib kinds of guys.
By 7:30 Vince lay curled up on the couch with his head resting on his arm, and his mouth open. It had been a stressful day, even for the optimist. He would be uncomfortable when he woke up, but he was nowhere close to that yet. The book that he dug out of the cabinet to read, lay closed on his lap, and his chest moved rhythmically with each breath. Vince never snored.
Marsha read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – for the first time. Puppy Girl put herself to bed in the bedroom. She wasn’t stressed.
The next morning Marsha and Puppy Girl checked out ATV prices at the log cabin store next to the campground. For only $45 an hour she and Vince could chase each other around in dune buggies.
She also figured out that if she flushed the toilet to add the sewer sweetener, the smell hissed out, and the flap didn’t close properly. If she pressed the foot pedal up after emptying the tank the little lid closed tighter. However, the toilet emitted an enduring, foul-smelling burp as though it didn’t know what large quantities of breath freshener had just been poured down its gullet.
“I rented ATVs with Jason once,” Vince called out to her as she emerged from the back. Mine broke down. It seems like I had to do a lot of walking. We ended up with dust everywhere. It’s really fun, though. Jason wanted to go every weekend. ATVs can be dangerous, though. You have to be really careful where you go.”
Marsha knew they were not going to rent ATVs and chase each other around the dunes.
While they parked at The Dunes KOA, it was an easy drive to go north 30 miles to sight see in Florence, or 20 miles south to Coos Bay. The decided that their favorite was Florence.
The two days in Reedsport flew by just taking care of business. Of course, to be legal and safe in Oregon, the truck needed a new hitch and mirrors. Vince had already spent about $3,000 on the truck before he left home making sure that belts and hoses were current, and the brakes were in good repair. “Even if we have to buy a new motor, it’s only about $5,000,” he assured her. Vince arrived at Porter’s in Coos Bay, Oregon before 8:00 a.m. and they fixed the truck right up. It only cost another $500, he told her two days later.
They even had some time to check out the Myrtlewood Factory next door to the Oregon Dunes KOA.
Outfitted properly Vince roared away from their first campground in the ATV country of the Oregon Dunes, hauling his new trailer confidently through the twisty turns of the California Redwood Highway 101.
The odometer turned 155,555 miles on their navy blue GMC ½ ton Sierra as Vince snapped a picture on his iPhone. Marsha immediately texted the picture to their friends, with the caption, “and still going strong.”
That should have foreshadowed interesting things to come.
Have you ever bragged when you shouldn’t have? Ooops…. What did you say?
It was just a short drive the next morning from picking up the trailer to the Oregon Dunes KOA where they were scheduled to spend two days. There were more dune buggies in the campground than trailers. Every trailer had at least three or four buggies. Itty bitty kids had tiny green buggies with large red flags attached to a stick behind the seats, waving 6 feet in the air. Marsha counted 6 adults as they piled off another fun buggy.
Vince energetically hooked up his new toy, and came inside. “This is not the same mattress as the picture showed on Ebay is it?” Marsha asked Vince as he helped her unpack and put all the stuff stored in boxes into their new places in the trailer.
“No, but we can stand it for a few days. I didn’t bring the other mattress topper,” Vince answered cheerfully. He walked into the bedroom, and patted the bed with his hand. “Did you try it out?”
“No, did you?”
“Feel this. It’s pretty firm.”
“Muh huh,” she muttered.
They had figured out that the faint smell was coming from the sewer line.
“We need to go to the store. We need some stuff for the sewer, and I’d like to get a TV.”
“Muh huh,” she muttered.
The mattress topper that Marsha found was only for a double bed. K-Mart was going out of business. “Go ahead and get it,” Vince told her. “I think that is just a double mattress anyway.” Vince met back up with Marsha after checking out the TVs. He was ecstatic. The dying Super K-Mart had all their flat screens on sale, and there was a choice between LCD and LED. The salesman told him that the LED was the newer and better model. “Which do you think is the better picture, Marsha?” Vince asked hopefully.
“They look the same to me.”
“Look here from the side. Ok, now come over here, and look at this one. Doesn’t it look better?”
“Muh huh. Which one is which?”
“This one, the LED.”
When they got back to the ATV infested KOA trailer park, the stiff mattress on the bed turned out to be a queen. “I don’t mind,” Vince insisted. “Put it even on your side. I don’t mind the bump. Here look at this new TV.”
Almost as soon as the bed was made, Marsha lay down and slept for two hours, and still felt like an elephant had sat on her rib cage when she woke up at 6:00 p.m. She found Vince passed out on the couch with the new LED TV as a soft night light and background noise soothing him as effectively as any blankie could quiet a toddler or rocking chair and mother’s milk could lull a baby to sleep.
“Isn’t this fun?” he announced when he woke up.
“Muh huh,” she muttered, looking up from her computer screen. “Are you hungry?” They had a big lunch at the Pancake Mill, and so eating was not a priority to her.
“No, are you?”
“No.” She kept pecking away at her computer to finish her blog. He watched reruns of Big Bang Theory and the Shark Tank Show in which millionaires give money to struggling inventors and entrepreneurs. They would explore…
Puppy Girl decided that, for now, this was home.
Is anyone in your family a home body like Kalev? Or is there someone in your family who loves to explore?
Today is cleaning day. Working together makes the job so much easier. I don’t want to throw away his trash. to him it’s not trash. He would love to throw mine away – to me it’s not trash. So it sits. And more piles in. I moved my office home a year ago. The books went in the office along with the new furniture. The old office furniture and whatever else we didn’t want out in the public eye went in the weight room – now junk room. Today we found the perfect solution. Move most of it to the garage. I wonder how long it will be there? The house looks better, though! :) Better yet, no fights over throwing out Great-grandpa’s best fingernail clipper that he gave me to remember him. (Seriously, I have Grandpa’s pocket knife still.) What kind of junk lurks in your junk spaces?
Today I thought I would write about investing for retirement. I didn’t invest by doing anything difficult or brilliant, but I am pleased with my outcome at this point.
When I started teaching I was fortunate to have a wise investment counselor who told me “cash is trash,” and taught me to invest the maximum I could from my income into a 403 B. I did this faithfully for the 20+ years I worked as an educator. I invested in moderately conservative funds. Some years they grew a little, one year they lost about half of what I had invested. I left the money in the market, and eventually all that money was regained. The long and short of it was that at the end of my career I basically had the money I had invested, without too much gain.
Interest rates are extremely low right now for investors. I have come to the age when I must think about withdrawing the money I invested. In the program I have I can pull out a guaranteed sum each month, and at the end of 15 years the principal is gone. I say guaranteed because even if the market dips to below that amount I am still guaranteed that amount of money for 15 years.
My husband is a realtor, and he wasn’t very excited about that investment. Vince convinced me now to invest in real estate instead. I opened up a self-directed IRA and transferred the money from my 403B account. Then we made a cash offer on a beautifully restored home in an older part of Visalia, CA.
The process was simple, if not a little strange. We couldn’t have anything to do with the purchasing process including writing the check to hold the property. Because of regulations Vince’s sister had to do that. We also can’t rent to anyone to whom we are related ie. kids. The entire process from writing the offer to closing took three weeks. The income will be about the same, and at the end of 15 years I will still have income, AND I will still own the house free and clear.
There are many ways to invest as you prepare for retirement. Stocks have been pretty good for me in spite of the extreme dip in the market. We have also bought and sold a few pieces of property over the years we’ve been married, and some of those have made money, and some have broken even. The difference between buying property and owning stocks are many, but here are a couple.
First stocks are liquid. You can cash them in for money in just a few days, and spend the money. Houses and land are not so easily exchanged for money – usually. A house that is priced right, in a good neighborhood, and is clean may sell in a few days, as did the one we purchased, or in a bad market, it may sit for a few years.
We have two beautiful pieces of property that have been for sale for several years. We bought them at the right time, split the land, and by the time the county had processed the split, the property had dropped in value. At this point if it sells it will sell for half of what the other two pieces sold for 4 years ago. Nonetheless, the two pieces that we did sell just about paid for the cost of splitting the property, and we do still have two pieces of property that some day will be worth something.
Second, houses and land retain some value, you can lose everything in the stock market. We did have a guarantee for our stocks, but in the end the money would be entirely gone. That will not be the case with our property.
Similarly, you can invest in the wrong stocks, and you can invest in the wrong land. If you invest in the wrong land, and say the soil is found to have cancer producing chemicals in it, there is nothing you can do about it. No one will buy it.
The moral of this story is that you have to be wise and careful with how you spend your money all your life if you want to live comfortably. I think you have to work hard, and spend as though you won’t have millions of dollars later to pay it back. Most people don’t have. I also think you have to be faithful to God and give away part of your income. The Christian church calls it a tithe, or tenth. Research shows that people do better financially if they give away 1/10 of their income to charities outside of their immediate families. To me it is a way of expressing gratitude, and humility, realizing that my existence in this world was not caused by me, and I am extremely fortunate to be here.
Some people seem extremely lucky, almost like they win the lottery – everything seems to turn rosy for them. Other people appear extremely unlucky. They buy the property that has cancer growing in the garden. Most people can expect to be somewhere in between.
How are you preparing or have you prepared for retirement?
Here are some pictures of our new rental.
If you live in Spain, you probably don’t want to rent it, but if you live in Visalia, and know someone who might be interested, the rental company is
V is home, so my alone-time retired day is over, but I thought I’d share what it was like to be truly retired today.
While I waited for the guy to fix the cabana, I spent several hours writing my first fiction book (short story – whatever it turns out to be), a romantic mystery about a therapist named Amanda Church. V named her. She’s beautiful and 41, widowed, smart, independent, and funny. (Hold on there Ralph, she’s not real!!!) I’m up to chapter two.
Of course I read blogs and answered comments and emails, but I wasn’t overrun with emails full of things I need to do, like normal, so I took my time and explored new sites. I made a few phone calls including an appointment with a man in our area to get learn more about the history of Tulare County. His family was one of the first settlers, and in fact, started the first school in this area.
Yesterday when I was making a Valentine’s Day card for V I discovered that I could draw in Photoshop. Now, I am not much of a drawer with a pen and pencil, (Dianne Gray’s gherkin-faced salesman looked pretty sophisticated to me) and have even less control with the palm of my hand, but I actually drew a flower – like you would see a first grader draw. I actually scribbled all over V’s card, and had a great time. Fortunately I also made him chocolate chip cookies and yummy soup and sandwiches for dinner.
So today, I tried drawing again. This is what I came up with after a couple of hours, maybe. The time disappeared.
So that was my wonderful, lazy, retired day. What did you do today?
January – Thirty years ago student teachers HAD to be a member of a professional organization as part of their graduation requirements. Although it is no longer mandatory, social studies teachers who join California Council for the Social Studies become the leaders in their field as they meet colleagues from across the state, and make friendships that last a lifetime. In January the CCSS Executive Board asked to serve as the First Vice-President, replacing a member who had moved to Colorado. In May CCSS members voted me in as President-Elect, and in June, 2013 I will serve as the President of this organization.
February – In 2011 I become officially involved with the Tulare County Historical Society (TCHS) as their recording secretary. This year TCHS decided to adopt a broken-down caboose, remains of the old Visalia Electric Railroad, as its project of the year. To kick it off the Society held an event at the museum so that people could take a look at the caboose, and see how much work it needed. It had definitely seen better days, but its good bones, charm and appeal made it the best project ever.
March - At the 2012 California Council for the Social Studies Conference I enjoyed some amenities as the new First Vice President. Although I shared the room with the Conference Chair, it WAS a HUGE suite. With size came responsibility. Several parties important meetings took place in this room.
April – I started blogging April 17th just as this busy month got into full swing. Our San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies Banquet honored our County Superintendent, Mr. Vidak, my boss. Most teachers, and in our case social studies teachers, seldom receive recognition for the hard work they do, so this banquet is the highlight of our year. Instead of being serious and boring, this year everyone played the part of stand-up comedian.
May – National History Day California or State History Day. Set in historic Riverside, CA at the Mission Inn and Convention Center, this was a photographer’s dream. Now that I was officially a blogger, I appointed myself the official photographer of this huge event with nearly 1,000 students aged 4th-12th grades attending. Unfortunately I didn’t know how to focus my camera at this point, and with lasik vision – one eye distance and one eye close, nothing ever looked in focus, and often wasn’t. One of the participating students taught me how to focus my camera. Students from all over the state display their year-long theme-based projects: exhibits, documentaries, performances, papers or websites for 6-12th grades, and posters for 4-5th grades. They present to a team of 3 judges who have the difficult decision of determining which of these amazing projects will advance to the National Competition in Washington D.C.
June As the school and fiscal year ended, we came to the last year of a three-year cohort of teachers who participated in the Tulare County Teaching American History Grant. Each year we had a one week institute during which time teachers went on a short field trip, worked with primary source materials, received scholarly lectures each day, and translated all of this learning into a lesson plan. This was our last week together with this group of teachers. For their final project teachers presented their lesson plans to the new cohort of teachers. We toured the Railroad Museum, Old Town Sacramento, and the Bicycle Museum in Davis.
July History Ladies go to Shell Beach May was our last official meeting as County History Consultants, and three of the four friends moved on to different responsibilities. We decided that instead of loosing touch, we would travel somewhere in CA once a quarter. Our week-end at Shell Beach cemented the already strong friendship with crazy dancing in the kitchen of the rented house, cinnamon rolls, pictures of a walk in San Francisco where clothes are optional, feeding baby animals at Avila Barn, roasting marshmallows over the stove after the barbecue ran out of charcoal, and sun bathing on the beach.
August – Retirement Once I made the decision to retire, that’s all I could think about. My last day was funny because I fought with my poor secretary about why I dressed casually that day. She knew I was having a party, and I didn’t. Paula took me in hand, and took me get a new dress for the party I didn’t know I was having. Ivette was already dressed for the party, so we posed when I got back from my spree.
September -V and I decided to start taking advantage of retirement right away with a trip to the beach. Lots of walks with Kalev until one day it started raining, and it didn’t stop. We scurried back home.
October – We arranged a week-long trip to our timeshare in Hawaii to Ka’anapali Beach Club. It was almost like coming home. We preferred October to December which was cold and rainy last year. We had a great time rolling around in the surf, horseback riding, and eating.
November – The National Council for the Social Studies Conference took me to Seattle. We really did go to meetings, sessions, and had a chance to socialize. I finally went to the dance they have on Friday nights. I walked all the way back to the hotel to change into a dress. Walked back. Got to the dance. Where were all my friends? Felt really hot – had my dress on backwards. Went to the rest room to change. Got back to the dance. No friends. Cajoled poor Joel into letting me teach him the West Coast Swing. One dance. Left. My friends got to the dance just after I left. Leslie and I went to see Twilight Part 52 or something like that. Then I walked home after midnight. Got lost, helped a lost soul find HIS way in Seattle (that’s a switch), and finally made it back to the hotel safe and sound. Had a $65 dinner at the Space Needle for two rotations of the restaurant. Had a great time!!
December- Home At Last For the first time all year I hardly traveled during December. Oh whatever would I find to occupy my retired time? Hmmmm How about an online birthday party for Renee? Christmas with PT and the kids, started going to Kiwanis Club, read some great books, blogged, blogged, blogged, and ……
…..poof the month was gone!!! Woah!!!! What happened??? Did anyone else have that problem???
I’m retired two months, and the court has my number. “No worries,” I think to myself. I was the coordinator of Mock Trial for our county. I know TOO many attorneys and judges. They’ll throw me off in a second, and I’ll be back to Retirement Bliss.
OK that didn’t happen. What did happen was that I ran into our friend and my husband’s former boss, Carlos Aleman, in the Jury Waiting Room – Room 202.
I got caught up on stories from his daughter’s debut at Georgetown University. I’m not quite sure what her major is, but she’s learning all about politics, economics, and wonderfully social studies/civics types of classes – AND she has to learn Chinese!
Then he got called away, and I saw teacher I knew, but she didn’t see me and besides we were watching a video about grand juries. I didn’t have a clue as to what was in store for me. Before I even had a chance to pull out my Kindle story of Tale of TwoCities, a serious woman behind a glass window called about 30-35 names, and lo and behold my name was among them. So up I went to the farthest room on the third floor, Department 10. I can’t tell you a THING about the case, but I can tell you a little about what it was like being on this Grand Jury.
All of us crowded inside the room. More names were called, and I stayed put. “NO WORRIES”, I thought. I speak Spanish. They threw me out last time because I MIGHT understand what the witness said.
“Are you all of sound mind?” The judge asked. Nobody moved a muscle – not even a smile. “Nobody wants to admit to that. Is there anyone here who cannot understand English?” Several people raised their hands. The judge questioned each one individually, and dismissed them all. One man didn’t move. He REALLY didn’t understand English. Finally people motioned and waved goodbye. A big grin spilled over his face. He left.
My name was called. “NO WORRIES” I thought. I am best friends with a defense attorney. The prosecution threw me out last time. I took my place in the juror’s box. They called a few more names.
“OK, that’s 19. the rest of you are dismissed.” I was in shock. I looked around. The rest of the 19 were in shock. The video didn’t warn us about this. It just said how much fun it (the experience of being on a Grand Jury) was, and how much the jurors learned from their experience, and how they trusted the system now.
The judge looked at us, read some instructions, then said, “___ ___.” (no names here) “You are going to be the floor manager (I think that’s what he called him.) Who knew what that meant? Does any one want to be the keeper of the keys? The courtroom is locked at all times until YOU let the witnesses in. One juror finally raised her hand. “And now we need someone to be the court secretary.” No one raised their hand. I volunteered. Then the judge LEFT. Did you get that? The man with the black robe walked OUT of the courtroom.
WOW! Now what? There were two attorneys. One said, “I’ve never done a Grand Jury before.” The other one said, “YOU are in charge,” and looked at US. “You can determine your schedules.”
___ ____ took his/her place in the judge’s spot (the bench). There was a book up there that he could read from when one of the attorneys directed him. (Usually the judge directs the attorneys.) “Oh, and you (and the knowledgable one pointed to me) are going to have to move over here somewhere because you are going to manage all the evidence. But you don’t have to move yet, you can wait until after the break.” So I stayed put. We all got packets with the case. I got a binder with my duties spelled out. I’m in charge of taking roll. I guess a retired teacher can do that with no problem.
Then we started hearing witnesses. After the attorneys finished with their questions, we could submit our questions in writing – but NO TALKING! So we sat quietly and listened and watched. Still in shock. Was this really happening to us? We came back after lunch. More witnesses. One juror had to be home to pick up kids by 3:00, so we adjourned at 2:45. Everybody agreed to start at 8:30 the next morning.
It came SO early! I took roll, and noted the time when ___ ___ called the court to session. More witnesses. No lunch because a different person had to go on a trip, so we got out at 1:08. I wrote it down as prescribed by my job description. ___ ___ admonished us not to talk to anyone, ANYONE about anything regarding the case under penalty of perjury. We will be done on Monday. Our only job is to decide whether the case needs to come to trial, or in courtspeak “whether a criminalindictment will be issued.” That’s it. We don’t decide if the accused is innocent or guilty.
I looked up Grand Jury in Wikipedia. I know that’s not the total expert, but it was quick and interesting to note that ONLY the United States even uses Grand Juries, and only 21 of the states still employ them. Grand Juries got the name GRAND because they are big. Notice, we are a group of 19, not 12. That makes us just Grand as opposed to petit juries, or trial juries. Grand juries had a lot of business and were influential in public matters in the beginning days of the United States. Once public prosecutors came into being, the Grand Jury was not AS necessary to weed out “incompetent or malicious” prosecutions.
So on Monday I go back to do the mostly unnecessary work of weeding out a potentially malicious or incompetent prosecution, with the two prosecutors directing our GRAND group as to what to do. Amazingly, I’m OK with that.
Have you ever served on a Grand Jury? Does your state even use Grand Juries? Did you like the story of my experience, or was it as dull as sitting in a Jury Waiting Room?
Books are in place. I’m open for business.“What business?” you wonder, then you advise. “Well, Marsha, now that you are retired and blogging you ought to blog about things that are everyday here, and other people have probably never seen.” Great idea – I wrote the first article like that about picking table grapes - as I came up on it. It’s soon to be a best-selling book, I’m sure. So far there are no comments. I drove by a field of walnuts being shaken. Dust spiraled into the blue sky giving it that aged look. I had an appointment, so I had to hurry on. When I came back, the shaker and the dust was gone. Missed opportunity, and that only rolls around once a year.
“Marsha, you ought to write a blog about retirement. Just go day by day and tell people what it’s like to be retired.” Great idea – so that’s what I do every day when I blog. I’m doing it. I’m retired. Therefore retired people might do this kind of thing.“Marsha, it just seems like retired people are so driven by their schedules, and it’s not as important as the working person’s schedule.” Yes and no. I haven’t established a schedule yet. I exercise every day I’m home. I fix more meals, and do more grocery shopping. I write every day, but times vary. I may stop to talk to someone on the phone, do laundry, run an errand for myself or someone else, but I’m still too new at retirement to have set times for retirement activities. And thus a month has zoomed by and I haven’t accomplished anything of great import other than working on the CCSS Bylaws and Standing Rules, arranging my books, and committing to cyberspace a journal of my life.“Marsha, we could take off for a month and just drive.” Great idea – we’ll see how that one plays out.I could quilt. I’m almost set up in the other room – no pictures yet – it’s wall to wall mess right now. But I’m set up with enough quilt ideas to last me the next 20-30 years without buying a single book, or coming up with a single idea of my own. AND I have friends who share the interest. That one has definite possibilities.
I am taking classes on things I want to learn. Photoshop is first, so today I practiced renaming this batch of photos at the touch of a button. It wasn’t nearly as easy as when Steve was right there guiding us through it. Some folders work. iPhoto acted like it didn’t have any files, therefore I couldn’t choose them to alter, and I couldn’t save altered files to iPhoto. I did save them all as low quality gifs, and that took about 2 seconds. The hardest part was finding them after they were done. They are all supposed to have a watermark on them as well, but I sure can’t find it. So I still have a lot of work just implementing that simple lesson.Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time photoshopping Puppy Girl into a picture she didn’t get into. That was quite time consuming, then at the last second, when I thought it had been saved, and saved again, I pressed “do not save”, and it didn’t. Retirement and learning new skills is frustrating. I think I should tone her down a bit because this was a picture of her outside in the sun playing with Mama Kitty. Obviously the tones are a bit more muted in here. Nonetheless, I thought she came out pretty well. I used the marquee tool, the eraser tool and the clone tool, and it took about an hour the first time, and about 15-20 minutes the second.I thought I could do book reviews of all the great books I never had time to finish (start) when I was working. “And Marsha, you could put the reviews in the form of power points, so they’d be ready to use.” Great idea. Oh yes, and my newest professional history books are in the car still from my last presentation. Not to mention the ones I have on Kindle. Since I haven’t done an official review, just a couple of blog reviews, I’m not sure what that all will entail, but one thing is for sure – I have a lot to read!
So now I feel overwhelmed. Think I’ll listen to Tale of Two Cities for a while as I load in some more reading material, then sit down to knit a hat before working out. One thing for sure. I won’t be bored!!!!
Usually new jobs start on Monday, but in my case, my new job – Retirement – dawned on the last day of the month of August, 2012.My husband was up before it cracked – dawn that is, and called me to see the sunrise. He took pictures, then I did.I was invited to go back to work for the monthly honoring of birthdays and other important events, like retirement. Would you expect that getting up that early, I would be on time?
I had to blog about my wonderful party. Then I had to read what some of my blogger friends were doing. It’s only a half hour to get to work, and I knew I wouldn’t have ANY trouble making it by 10:00. I got up before 6:00, that’s A.M.
At 9:18 a.m., I decided that I’d better get ready. I left only 6 minutes late, and amazingly, although it was 10:03 when I walked into the building, I wasn’t late!!! Another wonderful surprise awaited me.
Charlene asked me if I MINDED if they took some time to honor me. How do you answer a question like that? I told her I couldn’t handle mushiness – not that anyone would get mushy mind you. Long ago when I left Oregon, my church friends gave me a going away party. They gave me the most thoughtful gifts and started telling stories about me, and by the time they finished I had to go to the kitchen so they wouldn’t see me cry. I couldn’t stop, I was so emotional that I couldn’t breathe. Although I was excited about the future (back then in the past), leaving was incredibly painful. I didn’t want to do that again.
Charlene promised, so the stories at this party were all the dumb, goofy things that people endured with me. Yes, there were a few, and I was only moved to tears from laughing so hard. You might not think they are funny, but here they are:
My attorney co-coordinator for Mock Trial and I volunteered to load all the equipment we used that evening into Paula’s car for her while she monitored the trials. The only problem was that I didn’t remember what kind of car she had, and thought it was red. (Her new car was black.) The first red car on the street opened when we tried the trunk. So we started loading – in spite of the large male tennis shoes and the golf clubs that I had never seen in Paula’s car. To our credit, at some point we realized that we had made a mistake. When we looked up to the third floor of the courthouse, we could see Paula looking down at us. Oh yes, she knew…
Charlene and I were driving together to a meeting with all the instructional consultants from our office. The meeting was not far from the hotel a little way out of Sacramento at the presenter’s beautiful 80 acre ranch. The 10 or 15 of us were the only participants. In all fairness to me (the driver) Sacramento freeways ARE confusing, but in this case we were just talking and sharing funny stories. When Charlene and I had driven for 30 minutes or more we decided that we must have passed the exit. We had. Our boss was not happy when he called, but we were so giddy that I didn’t have any eye make-up left on my eye lashes when we got to the meeting. No telling where it all was. I doubt if anyone noticed.
Sometimes I get enthusiastic when I present, and on this one particular occasion I was wearing a pony tail. I didn’t notice where it was going, but I guess all the participants did. The rubber band wasn’t in very tight, and I guess my pony tail migrated from one side of my head to the other and back again. All the participants gave me their attention rapt, making me even more enthusiastic. I thought it was my presentation on the Common Core Standards that was SO interesting, but now I’m thinking MAYBE NOT?
Yes there were others, but you get the idea.
I received some WONDERFUL presents. AMAZON GIFT CARDS!!!!! A basket FULL of GOODIES. Thank you all so much for your generosity. You are all amazing!
Charlene then placed an hourglass in my hands to show what I had more of on my hands now that I was retired. I actually thought it was to remind me of what she would expect my figure to look like because now I would have time to exercise and eat right. Yes I did eat two more of Laura’s cookies for breakfast and another one after dinner along with a diet root beer float. So I guess the hourglass figure is not off to a good start.
I didn’t cry at either of my retirement parties, but parting – not parties – is hard on me. I went home and did something I may feel like doing after a big lunch, but never do. I took a nap. Did I actually write that down? It was just a short one. I’m not saying another word. On the up side. I’m not sleepy. Not even a little bit.
I’ve finished this post. Wonder what I should do next??? Tomorrow’s a day off work. :)
I went to work in jeans – against the rules. I’m sorry Mr. Vidak, it was my last day, and I figured, “Why not be comfortable? I wasn’t going anywhere. Nobody but my friends would see me, and they wouldn’t care.”
It turned out that I was wrong. Sonia cared. “Don’t you think you should go home and change clothes?”
“No, why I’m comfortable?” I answered a little irritated that she would even suggest it!!! Keep in mind that I am out of the classroom, and my office is the very back office in what looks like a library and student events warehouse. Ok, it is a library and student events warehouse, but we live there, too. (and love being there, BTW) So why would anyone even know I was wearing jeans, unless Sonia called the jeans police on me?
“But what if someone was planning to take you to a really special place for lunch?” she persisted.
“Are you planning to take me to lunch?”
“I might be.” she answered somewhat hesitantly.
“Are you?” I was really getting irritated now.
“No,” at least she was honest. “But you might want to go somewhere for dinner. Do you have plans for dinner?” What I didn’t know was that she was getting desperate. She had plans to get her hair done, not take me to lunch. She was no longer my secretary, and secretaries are always the ones who plan retirement parties. I had no secretary any more, so I wasn’t expecting anything except a piece of birthday/retirement cake at our monthly meeting.
With Paula’s help Sonia finally convinced me. It was less time-consuming to stay in town and go shopping, so Paula helped me, and I came back decently dressed for my non-existent party. Glenn ordered lunch and we sat at the table in the most warehousy part of the office and enjoyed a wonderful lunch. (But I was still irritated about getting dressed up for it!!!)
The rest of the day went as I had planned it. Writing notes for a new person that would take my place, cleaning all the personal pictures and information off my computer, and other last-minute tasks. I was there until almost 6:00 when my husband and I were planning to meet his business partner and girlfriend for dinner.
We walked to the restaurant from his office. As we walked in the door, I saw my friend Janet sitting next to my friend Melissa from Fresno (out-of-town). Then I saw Glenn. Paula had planned this all for about three weeks.So much fun! It was all about ME!!! “I bet you are glad you wore your new blue dress now, aren’t you?” wrote Sonia in the VERY long note on her card!!! I almost had tears in my eyes reading her card while everyone around me was talking and laughing.Then Laura presented me with a box of just-baked snicker doodle cookies – my favorites cookies, which I promptly hid under a napkin on my lap. I don’t share well!!! It wouldn’t be polite to share when there wasn’t enough for everybody.My longest long-time (not oldest) friends had prepared a History Day skit for me with me as the HD entry. I ended up winning the “All That” Award and a bag of chips.The entire evening was so wonderful, and I’ll never be mad at Sonia again for insisting that I dress up for “work”. Oh, that’s right I don’t go to work now.What ever am I going to do?
In just four days I will be officially retired from the career I chose when I was in 8th grade. I feel like I am writing my professional last will and testament. I loved my job, and I want to bequeath my love for my work to you, my readers. Yet for all that love, I AM excited to move on.
It took me many years, many obstacles, and much encouragement from a variety of unlikely supporters to reach my goals, but I did reach them. My teaching career has been my life for nearly 25 years. Now I prepare to retire from being paid to do what I love, to just doing what I love.
I remember laying in my bed at night as a child trying to bring my paisley curtains into focus, making up stories about the fuzzy shapes I could barely see as I dreamed about growing up and being a teacher.
I wanted to help change the world. I wanted to help people who were not as well off as I thought I was. I thought I might even want to work with children who spoke Spanish. Working with Spanish-speaking children was one of those RANDOM thoughts out of nowhere. I lived in Indiana where almost everybody with whom I came in contact spoke only English and had the same English, northern European roots I did.
I ended up in Central California at age 33, still with no degree to teach, but there were finally some folks around me that spoke Spanish. In fact, more people spoke Spanish than English in Ivanhoe, California where we moved. I eventually had the privilege of being a bilingual teacher. Trust me, the students that I dreamed about teaching when I was in 8th grade had just as much to teach me as I had to teach them.
When I moved into administration and worked at the County Office of Education, I had a brand new learning curve to tackle. My new job involved mostly staying current in the ever-changing, frantic-paced field of education so that I would have something of value to offer teachers. As usual, I learned much more from teaching than my teachers learned from me, but that is the way of it. If you want to learn, try to teaching.
In four days I will leave the frantic pace of public education behind for something that MAY be more relaxed. At this point in time, I can’t visualize RELAXED because I have so much to do in the next four days. I have two more schools for Williams’ visits. I have reports to write. I have a day or professional development to prepare. My computer is loaded with old files that need to be cleaned out. My office is still not completely packed. AND……………………………………
At home my husband wants to pain the office before we get two more bookcases to house all my treasures. I talked him out of new flooring and a door instead of a window to be finished before Thursday. I don’t have a place cleared out for my 11 years of consulting STUFF. I hate to throw ANYTHING away! I tried to give Jennifer my notes on school improvement from 2002 so I wouldn’t have to throw away a tree, but for some reason she didn’t want them. I’ve buried a lot of dead trees since I made the decision last month to retire.
Then my husband comes in and says, “I’ll help you. We can put everything in the garage (the kiss of death) and go shopping for bookcases this week-end. We can get to it TOMORROW!”
OK I’m getting it. TOMORROW. “Let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee. Want to go for a walk?”
“It’s too dark. You can take a walk TOMORROW. Will they get mad if you go in a little late?”
THIS IS GOING TO TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO…BUT MAYBE NOT MUCH.
So back to my bequeathal. What I wish for you is that you love to learn. I plan to learn something new and turn around and teach it to someone else as long as I live. A little education will never hurt you. Whether you choose to earn a degree in the next two to four years or NOT, just remember that either way you will still be two to four years older at the end of the journey. (And soon you will be retired!!!) With an education you have options, skills and networks of professional friends. Without it you don’t, but you are still older.
Work is the work and work is the relationships as well. I love both. As an example, Paula is one of the women in our office that is like my daughter and that means I have three grandchildren through her. They come to my house for holidays and birthday celebrations. Paula travels with me from time to time as I do my work. Will I lose that relationship after I retire? I don’t plan to, but it will take more work to keep the relationship alive at the same level it is today.
I have lived in several states in my life, and have had close relationships like Paula even before I retired. For example, I went to Oregon last March to attend a 50th anniversary party of friends who now live in Wisconsin, but had returned to Oregon for the week to enjoy the company of friends and family. Their 6 kids ranged from being my playmate, if 26 year olds can have teen-aged playmates, to being like my own kids, but I hadn’t seen them for probably 25 years when I went to the party. My “kids” were all grown. We had kept in touch with the parents from time to time through emails and a few visits. We hadn’t stopped being friends, and when we got together, it was like old times. Other friends were there, and I had so much fun seeing everyone, renewing acquaintances and building new ones with grown “kids”. I had lost touch with my “kids”, but after making the effort to go to Eugene to attend the party, I have regained adult friends and we are all in contact by Facebook.
I think retirement will be like that. At work people develop relationships some of which will probably fade as time goes along, but some may even grow stronger if there is more time to socialize, or if they have similar interests that they can develop together. So I don’t know about you, but I feel better about retirement and the office family situation now after thinking it through.