Sunday, May 27, 2007

Retirement Can Be Hard Work!

When we retired, almost two years ago, I thought we could dump the calendar--wrong. Seems like we are busy doing "something" all the time.

There are always projects around the house that have to be, or at least, need to be done, so we have slowly been working on those. We washed the trim on the house, then we needed to paint, because we used too much bleach when we wash the trim. One thing calls for another. Slowly, but surely, we are working on the paint project.

Then there are parties to attend! My niece, Lizzie, graduated from college two weeks ago, so there was a BIG party in celebration of her achievement. Her family had a low country boil and grilled chicken. I must say, the low country boil was new to me, but it was sure delicious! We did have some much needed rain than kinda put a damper on the party, but we retreated to the covered shed in her backyard, which was really nice.
The next weekend our neighbor had a fish fry. The weather was perfect. The food was wonderful, even the fish was pretty good--I'm not fond of fish. I love the things that go along with the fish--hush puppies, cold slaw, potato salad and homemade banana pudding. Yum, yum!
This weekend we had another graduation celebration with friends from church. It was a great celebration for a young lady that has had many, many physical struggles during the first few years of her life, so it was really special. Her Mom and Dad are in the ministry and he made the statement if he could have fast forwarded to this event, he would not have worried so much when she was so very sick, struggling to live. This was a wonderful praise to the Lord at His faithfulness!

There are other necessary jobs, like grocery shopping, ugh, keeping the house in some kinda of order and there is ALWAYS laundry to do. I do believe those close are in that hamper reproducing. We must be the cleanest dirty people in the world, or the dirtiest clean people. Haven't figured that one out yet.

We decided to have some fun, so we went fishing. Mr. Fisherman insisted we get up EARLY, so we could catch all the fish. I reminded him the weather report chart indicated that 5:00 p.m. was the best time of the day to fish. No way! We had to get there early. Well, we drove over to a wildlife refuge with several lakes, found one that would allow us to use the gasoline motor, launched the boat, only to discover the plug was not in properly, which meant we were taking in water. Not a good thing. Sooo, we had to put the boat back on the trailer, pull it out of the water, properly secure the plug and then re-launch the boat. We finally made it into the water. On the way to the lake I pointed out to Mr. Early Bird Fisherman that the cows were lying down. When the cows are lying down, the fish don't bite! Totally ignoring me, we proceeded on to the water. We did manage to catch a few fish--a total of five, four of which was my catch. I must admit we did have fun, even though the fish weren't jumping into the boat. It just does us good to get out on the water. We had a visitor along the edge of the lake that was keeping an eye on his favorite place to eat. That's how we were able to get this photo of him (to the left). When we were coming in to the dock to leave, there was a man on the shore that caught a small fish, and that crane was lurking close by, the man took the fish off the hook, tossed it towards the crane and the bird caught the fish in mid-air! Nice easy meal for the bird. Notice the umbrella on the back of my seat. I don't bake my brain in the sun!

Then there is the garden. We moved our garden spot this year and Mr. Farmer decided we needed fertilizer on that plot of ground, lots of fertilizer. Our garden is struggling--it's burned, really burned bad. In fact, we have had to replant all the squash and cucumbers, and about half of the green beans. The tomatoes are doing okay, some better than others, but not like they should be doing. We found out from the owner of the local feed and seed store that the garden plot needed only about one-half bag of fertilizer, rather than the three bags put on it. Now, we are having to water, water, water trying to save those poor burned plants. I hope they make it. It wouldn't be so bad if we were getting rain, but we are in a severe rain shortage and we have watering restrictions. If this plot of land manages to produce any veggies it will be great, especially the tomatoes. I can't wait to eat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich (BLT) with those Georgia tomatoes. Better than steak!
Then Mondays are art lessons for Kerry. He admits it's hard, but he's learning a lot. At the moment, he's working with three pencils to sketch pears and strawberries. This morning he was working on one of those pears. It looked really good. I can see in just three weeks he is improving greatly. I hope he will continue to work on his art, because he has a lot of talent. The teacher says it has nothing to do with talent, but with desire. He has both and I know he can do it!
Happy Memorial Day. I want to honor my Dad, who served during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was in Northern France, Belgium and Germany, and crossed three rivers, Seine, Rhine and Elbe. My brother tells me his unit, the 102nd Division (Ozark Division), marched 100 miles in two days, then had to fight the battle when they got there. He was wounded twice and I have his Purple Heart with an Oak leaf Cluster. I wished I had asked him more about the war when he was living. I have a millions questions now. If he was alive he would be 92. Unfortunately, we lost him at age 51 as a result of heart disease. Thank you Daddy for serving our country well. I love you and miss you.

Friday, May 4, 2007

It has been a while!

We thought retirement was going to be a bit slower paced. I suppose that's what we get for thinking, huh!

We have been working on various projects, to include preparing a new garden spot. That has been no small job. We had several old Virginia pines cut down, back in the winter, along the area we wanted to put our garden. In the early spring we had a guy come in and plow up the ground. That pulled up all the roots from those cut trees. Then the fun started. We had to clean out all the roots and rocks. That was no fun. It took us several days of raking all those millions of roots and not quite as many rocks, but we finally hauled many piles of those things into the woods. We did this the lazy way by spreading a tarp on the ground and just raking those roots and rocks onto the tarp, then we would drag it into the woods and dump them off--that was easier than loading them onto the cart and then hauling them to the appropriate spot and having to off-load all the stuff we just put in that cart. The tarp method worked very well. You do have to dump that tarp often, because those roots and rocks are heavy.

After all the raking we had to till the ground. We took turns doing that, then came the fertilizer, then more tilling. I'm telling you this gardening is not an easy job, but the rewards are so GREAT!

We planted two little rows of radishes. Then we have 12 mounds of squash, 18 tomato plants and six bell pepper plants. Just yesterday we planted six rows of white half-runners (green beans). They are 60-day beans, so about the 4th of July we will be eating delicious green beans, yum. Can't wait. You know, planting those green beans was a hard job. You would think that putting those seeds in those rows would be easy, but being the obsessive compulsive person that I am, those seeds had to be placed just right, so when those little plants pop up through that soil they will be in a straight row! So, it was back breaking getting those seeds lined up just so before being covered.

When the tomatoes start to come in we'll buy our annual pound of bacon, cook the entire pound and we'll indulge ourselves in BLT's (bacon, lettuce and tomato). Oh yes, Oscar will help us eat the bacon. Then that will be it on the bacon for another year.

We still have to put cages around the tomatoes and put up the wire for the green beans to grow up on (it's easier to pick them when they are up off the ground). That's will be another day's project. However, this year the green bean rows are much further apart so when they are big I don't have to crawl along on the ground under the vines to pick the beans, like I did last year. Seems as though the planting person (Hubby) put those rows of beans too close together and it was awful trying to pick them. Once I picked beans without a long sleeve shirt and I was itching all over from being in those bean vines, plus I'm paranoid about snakes, so it's harder trying to pick beans and look for those monsters!!!!

I know, I know, you are asking what are we going to do with all the veggies out of this garden. Well, we'll eat green beans until we turn green and eat tomatoes until the inside of our mouths are raw (from all the acid) and we'll grill the squash. Then, we'll can the rest to enjoy during the winter. Have you ever had home canned Georgia tomatoes in the winter with cornbread. It's a gourmet meal fit for a king. There is something about Georgia soil that makes those tomatoes oh so delicious! That's why we don't eat tomatoes during the winter--no taste to them.

Speaking of those monsters, I was walking from the workshop to the house just last week and there it was, a snake crawling across the walkway. I immediately started screaming for Hubby. I didn't want it to escape and I didn't have anything to use to kill it. I'm not sure what it was, but it's head was pointed, which from my Internet search, is not a good thing. It was brown with some type of darker markings all down it's body. After lots of research on the net, I'm SURE it was a very poisonous snake! The disturbing fact, it was small, about 11-12 inches in length, so I'm considering it a baby. I know snakes don't just have one baby, so my concern is, where are the brothers and sisters? And what about the mama snake? These are great questions of concern. So, needless to say, I'll not be walking to the workshop in the dark any longer!!!!!!

Well, this week I cleaned out the fireplace, assuming we are finished with the cool weather. The spring has been so unusual, we had spring weather in February and winter weather in April, so hopefully we won't have a need to use the fireplace until next fall. All the ashes were removed, the cave was vacuumed, a few pieces of firewood placed on the andirons and then magnolia cuttings placed carefully onto the firewood. It looks nice with the fireplace opening filled with those dark green magnolia branches and it's such a southern thing.

Our social calendar has been full. Lots of activities at church, graduations to attend, an anniversary celebration and fish fry. We have friends at church celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend.

The following weekend our niece, Lizzie, is graduating from college (we are sooo proud of her). We aren't going to the graduation, because each student only has four tickets issued to them for guests, so her Mom and Dad, husband and both grandmothers are going to the actual graduation at 10:00 a.m. Saturday (she was able to get an extra ticket from a friend), but we are going to have a big party that evening. Low country shrimp boil I've been told.

The third weekend of the month our next door neighbor is having a fish fry, so that will be fun. It's a pretty big affair, the food is delicious, well except for the fish, but all the other stuff IS delicious. Fish is not one of my favorite foods, but let me tell you about the hush puppies, cold slaw, french fries, fried sweet potatoes and desserts, they are some more good. They will furnish all the food, except for desserts, so I'm taking a homemade banana pudding. I mean, homemade. I cook my Mama's, well actually it was originally my grandmother's recipe, and it's not an instant pudding, out of a box filling, but real homemade pudding, cooked on the stove and all.

All of our patio furniture has been stored in the basement for the winter, so last week we cleaned the patio and pulled out all the chairs and umbrellas. Seems like one thing calls for another--we had to wash the trim on the house and the porches. Finally, that project has been completed and we are enjoying being outside. We have been eating most of our meals out on the patio. We really enjoy that part of warm weather.

Of course, all the winter flowers have been replaced with plants that will survive the summer. I've been slowly replacing the annuals with perennials, but in order to have some color I have a few annuals scattered among the those perennial plants and I have herbs as well--basil, sage, dill, spearmint, rosemary and thyme (that sounds like a song).

Part of retirement is being able to relax, if you so desire. That has been a learning process for us. We have always been driven to work all the time and we just don't know how to relax. I didn't think we would have to adjust to relaxing, but it has been an adjustment. We feel guilty when we decide not to do anything, but just relax. Well, in my learning process, I've been reading. I have actually allowed myself just to sit under the umbrella and read, all afternoon. This week I picked up a copy of the revised and updated edition of "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. It's a New York Times Bestseller. I've read this book before, but I'm re-reading it. It's the best book on finances I've ever read, and I've read many on this subject. This man's approach to debt is awesome--you shouldn't have ANY! You get out of debt! "If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else." He's on the radio every day from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., locally, but I understand he's on many stations across the country. Take a look at his website He has a program available, Financial Peace University, which is a program that takes the book-smarts of "The Total Money Makeover" and helps you jump start the habits necessary to succeed in this area of money management. This program is taught in thousands of high schools across the country. Pretty awesome, teaching young people how to handle their finances BEFORE they have a job and money. The neat thing is, he's a Christian, he's funny AND he's a southerner. That makes him special all the way around.

I'll be posting photos of the garden as it progresses, but right now, it's not very interesting, only a few little green plants dotted in the dirt. We desperately need rain. Lord, send us some rain!