Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When a Spouse Retires

It's here.
My husband works his last day of 'real' work this week.
That's right.
He is retiring...

And I have never been more stressed.
I thought this was an exaggeration, until I did a little research.

According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, developed in 1967 as a way to predict a person's likely hood of becoming ill, Retirement hits about in the center with a score of 45, above such events as vacation, change of personal habits and outranked only by multiple deaths and major imprisonment.

I scored a 289:
Vacation -13- we are just a few weeks away from a first time trip to Las Vegas.
Change in Sleep Habits – 15- I am no longer going to be able to rely on my husband's alarm to get me out of bed. Instead, I am now required to actually GET UP when my stupid alarm goes off. The alarm which is set to get me out of bed in time to work out...
Change in Recreation – 19- I am envisioning multiple days where my plan is going to work but my spouse's plan is sailing, or hiking, or lounging.
Change in Work Hours – 20 – see above.
Change in Personal Habits – 24 - again, see above.
Change in Living Conditions – 25 – I am envisioning a loss of days home alone. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my spouse, but we both noted long ago that time in the house without anyone else around is a luxury of Tag Heuer Watch, Mercedes Benz, Four Seasons Hotel quality. No longer will I have a weekday alone in my Pjs with my pot of coffee, the Today show, my home design game and a texting round robin with family. Oh, I will still do these things, I will just feel guilty about them as my spouse showers, eats a healthy breakfast and begins doing productive things or worse, makes me watch some ridiculous crab fishing show or King of Queens reruns.
Spouse Stops Working – 26 – Helloooo....
Change in Financial State – 38 – Der. We have run the numbers, It will work. Pretty sure...
Retirement – 45 – Okay. I am not the one retiring. But you know what? I feel that being the one NOT retiring in the relationship is actually way more stressful. I have now begun to wonder about my own retirement date. And I have to tell you SIX years is a depressing number right now.

Now all you math wizzes have probably added this up in your head and realized that my number only reaches 226. However, if you figure in the POTENTIAL for Major Imprisonment – 63- from Murder Death of a Spouse – 100-
I actually hit 389 which is OFF THE CHART.

(Oh sure, Rob is the one retiring and planning to start a new career as a substitute teacher in the high school districts around us which places his actual stress level at a 247 but he can start his own blog. Which I bet he does. And he will post way more often than I do and I will feel like a failure and now my stress has shot up another 57 points...)

I digress.

In an effort to cope with the impending life changes I searched my previous education and fell upon the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief. Which feels right as I have noticed that I have a whole lot of grief going on here.

The Stages of Grief were developed in 1969 as a way of coping with death but was later expanded to many other life events such as children working through a divorce. Overindulgent spouses of retiring spouses seems to have been overlooked. Never fear, I am here to walk us through it.

Denial – Denying the inevitable retirement has not been an issue. I have been looking forward to Rob's retirement ever since that morning I was awakened by him clicking the magazine into his side arm.

Anger – No anger here....okay, maybe that 'denial' thing is a little real...Although I can't say I am 'angry' its more of a jealous thing. But then I remember all those years I was home with the kids and Rob was going to school and working a job and a part time job...

Bargaining – I am not a very good bargainer. I prefer concrete numbers. And I ran the numbers multiple times, usually around two in the morning when I should have been asleep. As I recall there were a whole lot of 'dear God, make this work' and 'Lord, can I just have one night of decent sleep' and 'Come on Baby Jesus! Make this the winning lottery ticket'....
(What? You say this isn't true bargaining? You do remember you are dealing with a highly stressed woman here. Do you want me to revisit that Anger phase?)

Depression – It is anticipated that this phase will be entered on Friday September 1 at 0530 when I am required to roll out of bed and go to work while SOMEONE sleeps in and begins what promises to be a fantastic new phase of his life, working prn thus allowing us more days off together in which to travel.

Acceptance – This change is inevitable. Rob has put in way too many years in an underpaid, at times, extremely dangerous job. I am lucky to still have him here, healthy and willing to indulge me in my craziness. Although he is really going to have to get on board with this whole cooking dinner plan. That is inevitable too...

A Retiree in his natural habitat

 Congratulations Rob! 
I am so happy for you and truly looking forward to what this next stage of our life has in store!

Saturday, July 29, 2017's like this...

Here I am. Saturday morning.
I am sitting on the deck with the cat, who is not happy and is shooting me ever increasingly dagger eyes which translate into 'FEED ME SOON OR I EAT YOUR FACE!'.
But I can't because the cat is NPO. (That's medical terminology for No! Put that food and/or beverage down! Or else!). You know, that whole, no eating before anesthesia rule.
And the cat is under the most evil of rules at the present as we are waiting for the first AM appointment at the vet to get the fur knots shaved from his hindquarters. He has medium fur with a wooly undercoat and try as I might, when the weather hits 1000 degrees around here I can't keep up with the de-thatching.
Oh, I try. But it isn't pretty.

So...we wait on the deck to help muffle his incessant meowing.
It doesn't help that I went ahead and fed the birds, while his food bowl remains empty.
Oh! The Humanity!

But trying to stay positive, I am enjoying the sudden shift in temperature and humidity - it's around 77 degrees right now with a gentle breeze. Much more suited to sailing than cat consoling and hummingbird dodging.
(It should be noted that I have nearly been headbutted SIX times in the past twenty minutes as the three couples zoom back and forth from their freshly filled feeder. Another slight that JoeyKatt will never forgive.)

And as I haven't updated in a while, it suddenly felt right to dig out the computer, dust off the excess cat hair and send out an entry.
Creativity has been in short supply for me lately.
I am not sure if its the pace at work, the oppressive weather, the crap ton of anti-histamines I am taking or possibly the upcoming life event of retirement for my husband....
Whatever the cause, I have had not a thought worth expressing nor the desire to try.
But I have to admit, sitting here in the lovely morning with my famished companion feels rather nice as does tapping out these past few paragraphs.
So maybe there is hope...

Please bear with me. I do plan to return to weekly installments. There is much to discuss...previous trips to the Keys require eventual conversation. I feel it is safe to say that Rob's retirement will provide at least a little fodder for hilarity. (Don't  tell him, but he will be getting assigned dinner duty a couple nights a week...beyond his fantastic grilling skill that is.)
And while I don't like to present super serious stuff around here, I am planning to do a post or two on this ridiculous malady that has ascended on me. (Not a lethal issue but one requiring a very annoying change in diet, yet not causing any discernible weight loss).

So until the next time, enjoy the following photograph and let your mind wander to seas yet uncharted....

This is an old picture from a long ago trip to Destin, Florida. Rob and I were sitting on the deck at AJ's-our favorite Destin hangout, enjoying tuna dip and mojitos when I happened to notice, across the bay, this spontaneous rock formation and soaring seagull. I return to this photo frequently.
The message is undeniable.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Where the Horizen Ends...

I have been getting a lot of grief lately.
We were lucky enough that life allowed us a return trip to Key Largo early in May and it seems my travel companions have been WAITING for some posts about the trip.
As well as more posts from our previous trip to the Keys last fall...

The fact of the matter is this.
I have traveled quite a bit these last few years; each trip even better than the last. I want these posts to reflect just how amazing these travels have been. I review my notes. I study the photos. But I am still at a loss for words.
I just can't seem to begin.

So, with that in mind, I am starting at the end...sort of....

Our first trip to the Keys was a Griswolding Adventure of sites to see with some sailing.
This trip was about chilling, sailing and trying to figure out if the magic we found on our first trip down was real or just that 'honeymoon' effect.
Like we should have had a doubt.

No sooner did we land in Miami than my phone exploded with texts: Are you here? We're at Alabama Jacks! How much longer? Do you know what you want?
Rob and I were met with hugs, a fresh from the kitchen seafood platter, a Landshark Beer for me and a Rum Punch for him.
It seems that Alabama Jacks has become the place from which we launch...

We drive down Cardsound Road to US1, past the Caribbean Club and the African Queen to our home for the week, Key Lime Sailing Club.
The plan is to hang out, sail, eat, shop, sail...

That is just what we do, the week tinted by colorful Texan neighbors, frat house sing-a-longs, the biggest bag of whip cream I have ever seen, grocery store lunches, the most depressing final set a band could ever choose, a sunken golf cart, an accidental stop at what can assumed to be the 'home' of a Miami drug lord and this: 

Our final day of sailing was perfect. The wind finally forgave me for some past transgression and allowed us to take turns riding on the bow under the shade of the jib. The perfect place on a sailboat. As I took my turn on manatee watch, studying the ocean for underwater floating rock shapes, I looked up to see that moment when the water of Buttonwood Sound changes from turquoise to Florida blue and rolls into Florida Bay in shades of sky.
The horizon was gone.
The boat became silent as we, each one, considered the possibility of sailing off the edge of the world...

Sailing to Florida Bay. The body on the bow is alive, don't let her immobility fool you.

Curious about the first trip down? 
Want links to some amazing locations?
Click on these:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Holy Goodbye Batman, now what do we do...

As most who read this know, I am not generally very topical.
But the news of Adam West's death is not a story I can miss.

I was only five when the television show Batman debuted. I have very distinct memories of my mom calling me in to watch. I don't recall what night of the week it was on. I feel as though it were in the summer, maybe early autumn.
Five year olds in 1966 didn't really pay much attention to the season, except for how it interfered with outside time.
Some may dispute my memory, but I promise you – more than once, when Mom called me in, I would jump off the play set, where I was desperately trying to swing ALL THE WAY OVER THE TOP, and forget to remove my pinkie finger from the chain which held the swing thus ripping my baby finger to shreds.
It hurt like crazy, this I also vividly remember, and as my poor mom tried to bandage my bloody pinkie, my only concern was getting to the living room so I wouldn't miss a minute of Batman.

I don't know what about Batman appealed to me, a five year old girl obsessed with Barbie.
My husband, also an original Batman fan and at that time a seven year old, the appeal was the adventure and the fight against EEE-ville. But being a boy, his entire life has been about adventure.
There was the silliness.
Those brightly colored characters.
The textually enhanced fist fights...
The ridiculous saying uttered by Robin:
Holy Davy Jones
(BatBoat Episode???)
Holy Wernher von Braun
(my husband assured me that last one most likely had rockets in it.
Holy Unrefillable Prescriptions
(I fear this may have planted the seed for my ER days....)

Yet, as I consider this show and its appeal, I think it really was the adventure that kept me coming back. As a girl in the late 1960's, there was very little adventure focused on girls. Sure, Ginger and MaryAnn were pretty adventuresome and that Lucy? Come on!
Boys always seemed to have the most fun. There was secrecy, plots, sneaking around and spying.

So, while the other girls were swooning over Robin, I was planning his...disappearance thus allowing me to fill in as his replacement. 
Here I am, talking with Commissioner Gordon. Undoubtedly trying to frame Robin for some bogus trumped up charge. Note the yellow book in the lower left corner...
Never did I dress up as Batman, or Robin. I did have a 45 with the Batman song on one side and Here Comes the Batmobile on the other. I think there may have been a Batmobile Matchbox car.
My husband had a lunchbox. 
Not the original but a gift to Rob from our son the year he worked his first real job which allowed him to buy cool gifts for everyone.
Yet Batman infiltrated my very being.
When a situation is difficult its hard not to say 'Holy... Batman!' If mention of the real Batmobile is made there is immediate discussion over how COOL it would be to drive it. And when the odds are insurmountable the phrase 'some days you just can't get rid of a bomb' flows through my head, if not out of my mouth where in my mind it is accompanied by a giant cartoon BAM!

Adam West will always be My Batman.
His Batman didn't have the gravely voice of Micheal Keaton, or the sexy good looks of George Clooney or even the chiseled, slightly psycho physique of Christian Bale. What he did have was humor and sweetness and a desire to only do good. (As mentioned early, remember in the Batman movie when Batman must dispose of a bomb but everywhere he turns there are babies. Or puppies. Or nuns....)
That original television Batman wasn't haunted by demons. Or if he was he kept it too himself. Never did he question the Gotham City Criminal Justice System or ask why the Penguin kept getting out of jail. He relied on his tact belt of tools and his sidekick Robin – not a slew of fantastical super powers.
Even when he apprehended those pesky villains, he was polite and would always ponder what sent them down a path of crime.

We couldn't binge watch, or DVR the show.
Every week, we had to be there, at that moment.
We then relived the show on the playground, in the backyard, improving and adding to the adventure until the next episode.
Maybe that was the real appeal after all...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Scenes From a Holiday Morning... the style of a Vogue feature interview. My Apologies to Ms Wintour and her staff. Also Annie Lebovitz; I love your work. Should I ever get a book published I really want you to do my cover shoot....

It is early morning, the nearly pristine quiet interrupted only by the calling of birds, the rustle of leaves and the incessant meowing of a cat whose verbal demands have brought us here. Here being a garden, curated as though by a mental patient. The author is posed in a careful stance as the aforementioned cat, now in halter and on leash, pokes through the ornamental grasses on the gentle slope of the slowly eroding side yard.

"I try to tell myself I am a morning person. Which I am, if morning would only start about three hours later." The author pauses and takes a sip of pour-over coffee from the hand thrown mug, echoing the many green shades of the yard.

It is 6:32 AM. 
An eclectic mix of geegaws and foliage. Isn't the word 'eclectic' great?
We meander slowly, a drunkards path around gardens bursting with pink astilbe and blue spiderwort, the slowly ripening buds of the daylilies promising bursts of tiger orange in a couple of weeks. It is on, into the front past the heroically leafed split leaf sumac. "I found it on clearance, between a hibiscus with three leaves and a yuca the size of Arizona. The fact that it's still here speaks well of its constitution. A real survivor."
Never mind the poisonous name...

We pause dramatically and contemplate our place in the universe compared to this bargain-bin topiary before continuing our feline ambulation down a set of crumbling steps until we finally arrive at our destination, both the beginning and the end of this journey.

The deck.

With cat safely at rest in dappled sun, we sit on the custom Adirondack chairs and survey the landscape. 
Cat, as scene in 'transfer' filter.
The author sips a second, third, fourth cup of coffee while snacking on succulent berries and pausing now and again to take in the delicate thump of a squirrel as it misses its mark on the bird feeder and lands belly first on the ground below.
Accidental holiday colors. tastes like Americana. berries and marscapone courtesy of purchase at Fresh Thyme. Plate by Old Time Pottery
Can't get enough of this 'transfer' filter. Or that fantastic hand-thrown mug.
"Truthfully, I have always found this time, this place a little magical." She nods to the corner of the deck where a day-glow yellow finch has alighted to take a sip from the bird bath before returning to decimate the thistle feeder. 
Bird behind deck chairs. Chairs, family heirloom (read hand-me-down), tablecloth from Target, bird by God. He makes the best stuff.
"The first summer we were here, I found these miniature orchid like blooms all over the yard. I was certain there was an orchid tree hidden above me somewhere, sprinkling these blossoms down. As it turns out, it was only the catalpa tree. But just think of the possibility! A tree of orchid blossoms." She smiles to herself and you can begin to imagine the mystery...
Tulip? Sycamore? Nope, Catalpa. Aka Cigar tree, Lady Cigar tree, that freakingly tall tree that's going to get struck by lightening and crash through our roof someday in a tornado. The wood is sometimes used as 'tonewood' in acoustic guitars. So when the day comes...
"Now the yard is spotted with a multitude of wild strawberries. The remnants of my first attempt at growing things. A sort of herbaceous testament to my gardening schizophrenia." And the birds highly effective method of spreading seeds.

And indeed, if you look closely there are über-tiny berries, deep red against the verdant green of creeping charlie, dandelion and wild violet leaves which constitute the back lawn.
Mysterious 'orchid' blossoms. Actually the flower from the Catalpa tree near a rogue wild strawberry.
"Some would grab the Hüsqvarna and till up the entire area, replacing the nubby growth with a carpet of Kentucky Blue Grass." She chuckles under her breath. Takes another swig of coffee and returns to the latest edition of Vogue. 
But not here.

Because this is the Coast of Illinois.

And that's not how magic works.

Especially when you have been up since 6am, drank an entire pot of coffee and read three back issues of Anna Wintour's finest...
The author, sans shower or makeup but with double chin. Pajamas - Victoria by Victoria Secrets. Linen shirt by LizWear, a gift from a friend on a random trip to Mexico. and again with that hand blown coffee mug. Seriously Chris, start selling these.
 (It is Memorial Day. May it be a meaningful day to all.)

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Well, here it is.
April 30.
I made it through exactly 9 days of the A to Z writing challenge. Okay, technically it was only 8 as I did a combo day...but I am talking linear here. Which brings me to my final letter.
The zenith is an imaginary point directly "above" a particular location, on the imaginary celestial sphere. "Above" means in the vertical direction opposite to the apparent gravitational force at that location. Not the television set. ~ Wikipedia ~ okay, I added the part about the television set...

The word Zenith is used to describe the sun's highest point during the day in a given place. Or a person's or group's peak.
Put in non-astrophysical terms, it is the highest point above your head.
Straight up.
The Zenith of a tennis ball thrown upwards indoors is the ceiling. Marked by that black spot in the paint.
The Zenith of a stick carried by a 7 year old while climbing under an electric fence in Grandpa's pasture is approximately 11 feet after touching said fence before arcing back to earth.
The Zenith of a helium balloon escaping a 3 year old's wrist, assuming no wind and propelled by the vacuum of toddler shrieking is un-measurable.
Sky High.
That's pretty darn high.
I am left wondering, today, if I have reached my writing zenith.

I am not sure what happened with this writing challenge. By posting this I feel a little bit like that marathon runner who jumps on the subway, lounges for 13 miles then runs across the finish line.
I had the notes, I had the alarm clock...
I also had a million excuses.
Deer spraying the hostas.
Vacation planning.
A writing app which no longer works on my phone.
Trying to figure out how that Roku stick works.
That Home Design game.
Just to name a few...

But excuses don't really work. Many people manage to make it through with who knows what sorts of adversity. This makes me wonder about my place in the writing world.
But looking back via Facebook I have noticed that April is not a strong writing month for me. There are numerous references to attempting to finish various projects, staring at blank pages.

Considering today's post ~ Zenith ~ reading that definition, it occurred to me that if I allow myself to believe that I have peaked, reached that astrophysical, mental Zenith is something akin to giving up. I have absolutely no idea how high above my head I can reach. I won't know until I am at it looking downward.
And current situation?
I like looking up.
Which is a huge part of the philosophy of a Landlocked Beach Bum.
Always look up.
This moment, this day might suck like a black hole.
But, you never know what great moment will happen next.
If the sun gets a Zenith daily, then so should you. 
One of my favorite looking up photos. the possibilities are endless...
(Don't start with me, scientists. I know that you all feel that the sun doesn't really have a Zenith, it is more of a spatial, location thing. But I marched for you so just give me a break here.)
Looking up at the St. Louis United States Courts building during the March for Science. One of my favorite pics from the day.
And of course, I can't possibly write the word Zenith without pointing out that the ultimate home entertainment system back in the olden days of the 60's and 70's was the Zenith television. Complete with tubes which could be damaged by all the magnets we played with and a dial which made an awesome clicking sound when zipped from channel 3 to channel 47.
Did we own a lot of magnets?
Why was there a channel 47? There were only three stations and occasionally that weird UHF channel.

It was this exact discussion, about old time television, that brought me back to my love of writing and the permeating quality of entertainment.

So onward and upward.
'Keep Looking Up' as Neil DeGrasse Tyson says.*
Let's keep moving toward our own personal Zeniths.
Just avoid those magnets.
You never know....

*Take that people of science. Oh, and a few more pics from the March for Science, a non-partisan effort to raise awareness. This was my first March. About time, considering I began my social awareness career as a 10 year old in the secret room of the chicken coop....

Waving Flags
It was a well behaved crowd, except for that T-Rex.
One of the oldest marchers

Marching down Market Street. St Louis
Science and Modern culture do mix

Science is clever.

Two of my personal favorite marchers.

Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
Z - Zenith, the sky's the limit. Never stop reaching
G and H - Life Happens...and keeps on happening...
F- F-Flip Flops. Love them, wear them, don't call them Thongs. 
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants!  (So, I was a little late this time, Friday became my day off, rather than this coming Sunday. It took awhile to dig the Flip flops out of the closet...)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017




Today is brought to you by the letter I.
Which, I have, of course, not written yet but discovered that last year's post was also about 
Click here to return to 
Tales of the Caribbean!

Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
I - Ingenious, find a solution...
G and H - Life Happens...and keeps on happening...
F- F-Flip Flops. Love them, wear them, don't call them Thongs. 
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants!  (So, I was a little late this time, Friday became my day off, rather than this coming Sunday. It took awhile to dig the Flip flops out of the closet...)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Good Grief! Life Happens!

Well. My experiment with writing daily hit a bit of a skid this weekend. Sure, I have been brain writing most of the time. Problem is, my brain just refuses to auto-download to the page.

Consequently, the letter G and the letter H are being forced to co-habitate.
And get slightly gypped.
The plan had been for G to be 'glasses – as in sun' and possibly 'grouper'. The photo would have been priceless....
H was a little tricky. I was planning on investigating the word 'helio', which I have been told refers to the sun.

But instead G and H are getting this: Good Grief! Life Happens!

And as it turns out, as I was contemplating this post in the shower this morning, Good Grief! Life Happens! Is actually one of the fundamental secrets to a landlocked beach life.

I work in healthcare and frequently get the luxury of a three day weekend. This weekend, however, was a one and three quarter day weekend, once again, because I work in healthcare. Translate that into a half day meeting on Saturday.
The rest of the weekend was spent catching up in prep for this work week.
The bi-annual closet switch out from winter to summer; laundry; Target run; dinner plans; cooking prep for Sunday; gardening; laundry...
You get the idea.
Most of you live the idea.

Many of the things I wanted to do: have coffee with my folks, coffee with my friends, write, read a portion of the magazine stack threatening to become a room divider; none of these happened.
Sure, I know the saying, you make time for the things you really want to do.
I hate that saying.
All it does is fertilizer my ever productive guilt.

I managed to talk with my mom on speaker phone while I cleaned out my closet. Which was a great distraction for a painfully awful chore. My friends are just as mired down in life and we all know it will happen eventually.
Those magazines will look great in the grade school recycle bin...

The take-away?
Stuff will always get in the way.
Sometimes you can prevent it. Other times you can work around it.
But there are times when the number of hours needed just don't compare with the hours available.
And its okay.

Good Grief! Life Happens.
Don't be so hard on yourself.
One of my favorite beach shots - a impromptu peace sign in Destin, Florida.
Coast of Illinois's SECRETS to a Landlocked Beach Life***
F- F-Flip Flops. Love them, wear them, don't call them Thongs.
E - Extravagance, everyday should be so
D - Drinks, may all your responsibly enjoyed drinks be boat/beach drinks*

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Click on the link, page down to the comments and check out some of the other posts from participants!  (So, I was a little late this time, Friday became my day off, rather than this coming Sunday. It took awhile to dig the Flip flops out of the closet...)