I’m just going to say it. My life is effing sweet! Now that the warm weather has settled in and I’m spending time working in my garden, I can actually say this early retirement thing is beginning to grow on me. And I’m starting to believe that I deserve this new lifestyle. When my mother died last December,  she took with her the 13 years I spent as the caretaker for my father, and then her. My kids are grown, I’m with the love of my life, I’m surrounded by the smiles and affection of three beautiful teens, and I’m meeting new friends and getting active in my community. I honestly believe that even if I had a big pile of money, my life couldn’t possibly be better than it is right now. Money buys freedom, but, as the Beatles said, “Money can’t buy me love.”

My day today went something like this:

8:30 (or there about): AwokeI haven’t experienced an upon-waking panic attack in over three weeks. I went downstairs and turned the on coffeemaker. As usual, Nettl had already gotten it ready for me and, because yesterday was the kids’ last day of school and Lauren was enjoying a well deserved lie-in, Nettl had brought my paper in and put it on the counter by the coffeemaker, the rubber band removed. Beside the paper sat my coffee cup with just the right amount of sugar measured into it. While the coffee brewed I went onto the veranda to check on the fish we got for our fountain earlier in the week. I then came in and went to the music closet in the den to turn on NPR, which I leave on throughout the day and evening because the sound is wired through the house and we all love classical music. It sets a good mood throughout the day.

8:45: Brought my coffee and paper upstairs, and got back into bed, turning on the Travel Channel. I usually go into the den in the mornings, but Nathan had fallen asleep on the day bed last night and we didn’t want to wake him up. I looked through the paper and worked all the puzzles, half-paying attention to the telly.

9:30: Got up and ambled to my computer to check my email, etc. The phone rang. It was Debra (Ville) asking if she could come over and use our dryer and I said sure. I got dressed and ready for the day.

11:00: Ville came over and had an anniversary present for us, which I opened immediately. It’s a frosted glass dish with five candles of varying heights and wine scents, with wine glass charms attached to them. There also was a bag of little gold nuggets to scatter around the candles. It’s beautiful and in our colors. Thanks Ville and Beau! We went downstairs and got some coffee, and sat in the living room talking as laughing as usual.

12:30: I began making lunch for us, knowing Nettl would be home a little after one. Nathan went to the skate park with his friend Matt.

1:15: Nettl came in and the three of us sat down for lunch. Much joviality. Nettl loved the gift too.

2:00: On her way back to work, Nettl dropped the girls off at the movie theater. Ville and I sat out on the veranda until she left a little before three.

3:45: Nettl came home and took a nap while I played some Yahoo! Games.

4:45: Lauren called, saying they were ready to come home, so I went to pick them up and returned to my computer.

It’s now 5:30 and I’m about to start dinner. Matt’s spending the night tonight, and I’m planning on passing the evening on the veranda, watching the birds that crowd our feeder.

On Monday Nathan and Heather are going to Wichita to spend the summer with their dad, while, on Tuesday, Lauren leaves for her 10-day tip to Paris. When she comes home she’ll spend a week here to rest up, then she’ll go on up to her dad’s as well. Nathan and Heather will be home for the week of June 26 for Nettl’s birthday, while Lauren goes to Ohio with her dad. Then they’ll all be back in Wichita until the week before school commences.

As much as I’m looking forward to my first real summer vacation in 10 years, I’m going to sorely miss our kids. It’ll be awfully quiet here; I’ve forgotten what it was like before they came to live with us. It’s a bittersweet emotion I’m feeling. I’m not sure what to make of it


Friends, Hands & Gardens

Yesterday morning I got a call from Ville (Debra), who said she was going to Hobby Lobby, and would I like to come along. Because we have only one car and I’m stuck at home all day everyday, I said, “Sure!” I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy doing stupid shit like that with her.

It’s hard to explain what we’re like when we’re together. It’s a cross between Wolfgang & Nannerl Mozart, Groucho & Chico Marx, Eds & Pats (AbFab), and John Lennon & Paul McCartney. We’ve been friends for so long now, we know everything about each other. We’ve often said we have to remain friends because we know too damn much. We walked around “the Lobby” for a good hour, having to run to the loo only once. Sheesh, even a simple outing becomes a “wet ‘em” experience. I bought some candles for the patio and she got some tea lights. Everything was 50% off.

After that we went back to her house to wait on the electrician who was set to come find out why her dryer had no power. He fixed the problem and I suggested we go to Leo’s for the lunch buffet. You remember Leo’s. It’s the Chinese place near the university campus. After lunch we went to Wall’s, which is nothing more than an over-priced outlet store, unless you know to pick through the junk to find the great sales treasures. She found a wall plaque for her guest bedroom and I left empty-handed. All I found was some art, but I didn’t like it enough to actually buy it. She dropped me off at home then, and Nettl and I went to get our passports renewed. Of course, that never goes as planned.

I spent the entire evening on the patio listening to the fountain and music, and putting up little gold lights. I even played my guitar a little, but it hurt my hand, so I gave up. With the threat of below 50° weather over, I moved many of my house plants outdoors. It’s wonderful out there! Today it was in the 90’s, and I didn’t feel well. I think I mentioned that I tore the Thenar muscle in my left hand. Thenar… The NAR. LOL! Anyway, I strained it again last night when moving some boxes in the garage, and today I was in a lot of pain, so I just lay around watching telly. Sometimes there’s nothing better than HGTV and the Food Network.

I forgot to say that on Sunday, while Joel swept and vacuumed the storm cellar, I pulled up all the sod that was against one section of the back fence, made a flower bed, and planted Delphinium, Hollyhocks, Salvia and Sweet Peas. The Morning Glories I planted last week (which I sprouted indoors last month), have already grown about a foot up the strings I gave them. Our tomatoes are doing well, as well as all my kitchen herbs, which are now strong enough to live outside (Basil, Oregano, Dill, Parsley, Chives & Rosemary). The only problem I’ve had is that none of the Lavender seeds did anything. Must have been a bad batch. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow, so if I feel up to it, I really need to weed the flower beds in the front and side yards. Of course, it’s not easy with just one hand, but I love working outdoors.


Groovy Gemütlichkeit

Tonight I passed the best evening I can remember in perhaps fifteen years. I’m high, but it’s not due to wine or any other intoxicant. It’s due to the dinner party Noelle and her parents provided at the Thai Cafe in celebration of her doctorate hooding. The hardest thing we drank was a Thai iced tea. Really.


I'm a Vanishing Species

According to the Oxford Hair Foundation I and my kind are quickly going extinct. You see, I am a natural redhead. When I was a kid it was fairly bright, but nowadays it’s a dark strawberry.

Growing up as a natural redhead isn’t easy. At least it wasn’t back in the Stone Age when I was a kid. Called every name in the book—and for most of us, looking pretty nerdy—I grew up being painfully shy. Growing up in southern California during the Beach Boys era didn’t help either. I didn’t hang out at the beach, didn’t tan at all, and certainly didn’t fit the stereotype of a Californian. It was a blessing in disguise, however...