Hell of a Guy
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Monday, November 26, 2012

One Year as a Senior Citizen Living on a Fixed Income…

11/26/2012

November 19, 2011 was my last day as a full-time employee.  I am retired, and I have to admit it was easier to settle into retirement then I ever imagined.  At first I wasn’t too sure I had made the right decision, but as time went by, and I got used to not having to do anything – no reports, no conference calls, no business emails or phone calls, this retirement thing has proven to be more than okay.  Life is pretty good for this senior! 

So, one might ask, “What have you done with your year?”  And my answer remains the same, “Whatever the hell I wanted to do.”  My dad, and many others, said he had so much to do after he retired that he didn’t know how he ever found time to go to work.  I do not feel that way and never have.  I have exactly the right amount of stuff to do, and if I feel like doing nothing, then nothing is exactly what I do. Yeah me!

Many days last December I sat in the chair where my butt is firmly planted at this very moment wondering what I might do.  One time I got a legal pad and a pen to begin a Bucket List.  I neatly printed “Bucket List” in bold letters across the top of the page, and in the left hand margin I placed a “1.” and began to contemplate what might go on my list.  I did not get too far.  Every once in a while I go list my list to review it.  I take out the pad with “Bucket List” neatly printed in bold letters across the top of the page and make note that nothing is written to the right of number 1.  I have never been a list maker, but I am an expert at procrastination.  In fact, I am so good at it that thus far I have been able to delay my own funeral through my mastery of the art of procrastination.  Believe me, it is finely honed. 

I can tell you one thing; retirement has had a deleterious effect on my waistline.  Nearly every Friday for the past four or five years, The Nancy and I have mounted the scale and weighed ourselves and recorded the result.  Lately as I climb aboard it, it moans…well, maybe it just squeaks.  I have added about an inch to my waistline and a good twelve pounds of blubber to my abdominal area.  The sad news in this is that my suits and dress shirts are getting tighter.  The good news is I don’t wear them very often these days, nor do I miss them.  A diet may be (will be) in my future (immediate future), but I am putting it off.

As with most of my retired friends, I don’t really miss working, but I do miss the people.  It is very quiet around this old house during the day; that is probably the main reason the cat and I have grown closer.  She looks at me weirdly as I talk to her, as if she really knows I am only talking to myself for something to do.

Maybe that is what I should write down as number “1”?

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving, Circa 2012…

11/23/2012

Put another one in the can, almost literally.  The meal was cooked, served, consumed, and ruminated over and under.  The people were fed, stuffed, miserable, but happy.  A good time was had by all.

This year as last, The Nancy and I packed up our part of the Thanksgiving Feast and carted it 150 miles west to her mom’s house.  This year as last, each of the attending families was assigned certain dishes to bring.  Our short list included turkey, plain dressing, potato rolls, a minced meat pie, Brussels sprouts, gravy, carrots, and special orders from The Nancy’s mom to bring her some Pretzel Bark (white chocolate, dry-roasted peanuts, pretzel sticks).  Others were to bring desserts (pumpkin pie, cheese cake, cake balls and fudge), mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole and some oyster dressing.  Some us went a tad beyond the assignment we were given.  I know we should not have done it, but in addition to our assigned dishes we brought some extra stuff, a squash casserole and a chocolate pie.  We should have stuck to the plan. 

This year as last, I prepared two 20lb turkeys.  I estimated we had at least thirty pounds of meat sliced off the birds’ carcasses.  I ain’t no math whiz, but that works out to a little over a pound each, especially when considering I do not eat fowl meat (last consumed prior to 8-11-1996).  Typical of my dear wife’s mother, 30lbs was deemed not be enough and another sixteen pounder was made.  Originally we planned for up to thirty souls for this meal, but as with most family get-togethers we lost some guests along the way for various reasons.  So as you might have guessed, we had way too much food for the twenty of us that actually sat down for the meal.  Continuing with our mathematics lesson, the pre-cooking weight of these three birds was 56, you with me, yes, that is “56” pounds of turkey.  We could have fed Patton’s army.

As if that wasn’t enough, The Nancy’s brother Chuck, who was assigned the oyster dressing that only he and his father eat, made not only it but also more plain dressing and some concoction made with rye bread and at least 10lbs of each one, altogether with what we brought we had about 35lbs of dressing to go along with the zillion pounds of turkey and 20lbs of side dishes and desserts.  Needless to say there was an abundance of leftovers when the meal was done.  We spent the rest of the evening periodically complaining of how miserably full we were.  After all, that is the sport of Thanksgiving.

This was a family day for us, as it probably was for you.  Whether your group was large or small, I sincerely hope your day was as happy as mine.  I think I can say without equivocation this was The Best Thanksgiving Ever! 

Now some eighteen hours since my last meal I can sense some rumblings in my stomach and the call to “feed me.”  I will oblige the call for sustenance when and if I can coax The Nancy from her slumber…and that may prove difficult.

And that is all I have to say about that…

 
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

11/21/2012

Good grief!  Is it Thanksgiving time, already?

I really love Thanksgiving, and look forward to it, but these days it seemingly comes every other month, right? 

This year, as we did last year, we will pack up a good portion of the Thanksgiving Feast and haul it on a 158 mile journey to The Nancy’s mother’s house where the guest list started out at twenty-nine souls but now has dwindled to maybe fifteen, making me believe the forty pounds of turkey we are taking there may provide leftovers for many meals.  And The Nancy tells me her mother, worried we might not have enough, has cooked another turkey.  What the hell good are mother-in-laws, anyway?

I love the family time this holiday brings about.  Even though this is not my family, my siblings, my children, I love it nonetheless.  Thanksgiving is “The” family holiday.

With all the joy Thanksgiving brings to me it is also a day with a sad reminder.  Thanksgiving 1997 brought news to me of my father’s death early that day.  A family death is tough to take on any day, but for someone you love so very much to pass away on a holiday makes it that much worse.  But, that was then and this is now…time heals.

Notwithstanding the above, I am so looking forward to tomorrow and the rewarding opportunity to spend it with people I love.  I just wish I could gather up some of my own family (brothers and daughters) to join me and my other family.

I wish you all a Happy and Joyous Thanksgiving, and at the same time have to wonder what the hell atheists will celebrate tomorrow and who they might give thanks to. 

And that is all I have to say about that… 

 
Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Art of Aging…

11/01/2012

There truly is an art to aging.  It lay in, for the most part, one’s attitude toward it.

Ever notice a group of senior citizens (a term used so old people don’t feel badly because they are old)?  Why do some look and act younger than others?  Well, certainly health issues have something to do with it, that I understand, but I believe a large part of why some look younger than others is their attitude toward aging and themselves.  I think it is one of the reasons my 81-year old brother looks younger than I, or perhaps it is just because he has a full head of hair.  Definitely, it has something to do with the hair thing, but the man just does not age.

I notice when I look in the mirror these days, especially as I am fast approaching my 69th birthday, I don’t quite look the same.  My appearance in my mind is rapidly changing; new lines and wrinkles seemingly appear overnight, and the area that is my forehead is increasing at a lightening pace, giving me a bowling ball likeness of which I am not fond.  But, I have my health, oh God, I hope so, anyway (he says praying all the while).

My mother’s 18-year battle with dementia left all her children with the fear we might suffer the same fate.  Hopefully, my dad, whose intellect and cognizance he held until the day he died, balanced the dementia equation for all of us, but only time will tell.  I have mentioned on a couple of occasions how well my younger brother and I watch our older brother for any signs of slippage, like, “Hey, Bob, how many fingers am I holding up?,” or “Hey, Bob, what is your middle name?,” and all that kind of stuff.  Thus far, he is holding his own, both mentally and physically.  This bodes well for the little bro and me.  But…I do things sometimes that cast moments of fear my way.  Just this past week one event brought this home to me.

In our automobile collection (we are down to three) is a 2009 Jeep Cherokee.  It was one of my company cars and we purchased it when the lease on it expired for The Nancy to drive, especially since we sold her Infiniti – she still gets glassy-eyed at the thought.  The purchase means, in addition to having to pay for gas (Have you seen the prices?), we also get the privilege of maintaining it (and that is expensive).  Note: I had company cars for nearly 29 years and a company credit card for fuel and a maintenance program paid for by my company.  I was spoiled. 

Recently the odometer turned 85,000 miles and shortly after a notice flashed stating “Oil Change Required.”  This is not untypical, it happens every 5000 miles letting us know an action in needed.  It’s Pavlovian, bell goes off and I react. 

I take all of my vehicles to Jiffy Lube for routine maintenance.  I like them better than places like Goodyear or Firestone because at Jiffy Lube I am in and out generally in 30 minutes or less.  I have spent as much as half a day at the others.

Long story endless, I took the car in to Jiffy Lube for the 85,000 mile maintenance.  As the car was on the lift with the old oil draining out, I spoke with the service manager about the level of service I wanted.  The SM began going over the list of manufacturer recommended preventive maintenance items while the last of the old oil dripped from the crankcase.  The more he talked, the more this sounded familiar – change this, change that, check this, check that…and so on.  He mentioned changing the transmission fluid as the manufacturer recommended it after blah, blah, blah miles. Hmmm?

This quick dude, aka Yours Truly, asked a simple question.  “I vaguely remember having that done.  Can you tell me?” 

Ready?

“Oh, he said, “Looks like you had it done on your last visit.”

“When was that?” I asked.

He replied, “On 8-15-2012.”

What?  It’s October 22.

It had only been less than six weeks since I had this car in for service.  We had put but a mere 739 miles on the vehicle.  I felt like the dumbass I truly am, sometimes.  This mistake only cost me $52.00, but the embarrassment was much worse, and will last a while.

I was told a few years ago I suffer from “cerebral atrophy,” which is a consequence of aging.  Oh joy!  I am having an overwhelming feeling this event was not caused by a failing cerebellum or medulla oblongata, but more like rapidly advancing stupidity.

By the way, as an aside, my attitude toward aging now sucks.

And that I all I have to say about that…