Savoring the Beginning of Retirement

Our life is about to change in many ways and I have to admit it is off to a good start! My husband is now six-weeks into his retirement! After working for 44 years in the same field and at least seven more during and right after college – he deserves to slow down and relax. The opportunity to plan a Fall excursion to Hilton Head and impromptu activities such as roasting marshmallows while enjoying a cool evening in front of the fire-pit on a “Tuesday night” has been so much fun!

Cooking together and trying new recipes (canning some fresh picked apples), visiting Gibbs Gardens on a week day when the crowds are smaller and then driving over to a nearby small town to eat a delicious lunch at one of several locally owned restaurants makes it easy for us to feel spoiled. Running errands and taking early morning walks as we watch the sunrise together are some of our favorite things.

One of the best things so far has been the realization that we don’t have to rush to get things done anymore. We can do what we want to do whenever we want to do it. Our neighbor calls it “living on retired time.” I think I am going to like it!

Words from 1948…

In 1948 C.S.Lewis wrote an essay “On Living in an Atomic Age”. Bombs had been dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki so fear about atomic technology was on everyone’s mind. His words in those perilous times, are just as relevant in the uncertain times we are living today. I borrowed this from a blog I follow (erinapier – Hometown).

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.”

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

“What the atomic bomb has really done is to remind us forcibly of the sort of world we are living in and which, during the prosperous period before, we were beginning to forget. And this reminder is, as far as it goes, a good thing.”

“Let the bomb find you living well.” – C. S. Lewis

Disclaimer – I am not discouraging nor opposing the vaccine. I am not downplaying the seriousness of COVID. I have had COVID. I have had family get very sick with COVID. I have known two people who have died from COVID. I am hurting too and I am tired of being afraid. This essay just helped me put things in perspective and I hope it helps you too.

I Want to Believe…

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…and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!

Discussing religion and politics with anyone other than my family is taboo for me.  It is not worth the backlash and hateful comments from those with opposing views that are shared so easily and freely on social media. It (sadly) amazes me how hateful and rude people can be as they hide behind the keyboard typing things that they most likely would not say if they were actually talking face to face to someone. 

I am stepping out of my comfort zone with this post. It doesn’t really matter if I am supporting President Donald Trump or if I am supporting former Vice President Joe Biden but, I have never felt so anxious about an election as I do today.  

On this Election Day morning, I spent some quiet time praying for our politically and racially divided nation, for our presidential candidates, for the innocent lives that could be destroyed no matter who is declared the winner.  I prayed that we could begin to pull together as a nation in spite of political differences.  

I read where many businesses are boarding up their windows in anticipation of the losing side who may be tempted to act out their rage and despair through riots and destruction of property.  Innocent, hard working people could lose their livelihood as a result of this outrage. The winning side will feel tempted to act triumphantly toward the losers resulting in a potentially deadly combination. 

America faces problems that require we work together. I want to believe most Americans are reasonable and truly desire what is best for the country. I want to believe that Americans are capable of interacting with respectful dialogue as they listen to and try to understand the differing points of view instead of jumping right away into contradictions. I also want believe we might find we are more alike than we might imagine as we work through our differences. 

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
–Voltaire

Hometown Visit

Since trying to plan a trip might not be the best idea at the moment (although we are considering one at the end of October), I decided to take a look back at a special trip we made to Chicago, Illinois about four years ago.

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M. was born and raised in Hinsdale (about 25 miles from the city) and had not been back except for business trips in almost 20 years. He was anxious to revisit places that held some of his favorite memories. I especially loved hearing the stories he narrated as we drove from place to place. Hearing the excitement in his voice and at times talking at such a pace it was if his thoughts were outracing his words he had so much to share. Occasionally he would pause and silently reflect ~ I think he was hearing the voices of friends and loved ones from so long ago in the quiet of his mind ~ this memory still makes me smile.

We drove past where he went to elementary and high school, the church he attended, and then towards the ice skating pond where he once flirted and showed off for the girls back in his youthful, carefree days. We drove past the location of his childhood home (it is no longer there), found the place where his dad owned a restaurant many years ago (surprisingly the building is there and is still a restaurant) and past the house where his beloved grandmother had lived. We drove through a complex in Naperville where he worked for many years after graduating college. (Little did he know that this same company would transfer him to the area where he would randomly and unexpectedly meet this southern belle!) We drove past the location of the community garden on this same site where he first discovered his love of gardening. Sadly, the gardens are gone and all that remains is a field of weeds.

Our visit also included a drive to Downers Grove where he once lived as well.  We visited Ingram’s Busy Bee Bakery (isn’t that a cute name?), walked through the small town, and he showed me the first house he ever bought and I could see how proud of it he was ~ even to this day.

There were many foods he wanted me to sample (and we did) such as Italian Beef sandwiches, a Chicago style hotdog and of course, Chicago’s version of pizza.  The trip, however, would not have been complete without a stop at the Bohemian Crystal Restaurant. M. has raved about this place for years so it was a must do on our activities agenda. As we looked over the menu, I was a little amused when our choices to start with were either soup, or small salad, or tomato juice. Tomato juice???? M. was as happy as I have ever seen him when he ordered the dinner of roast pork, sauerkraut, and dumplings smothered in gravy (which we split – no way we could have eaten all of this food as two separate orders – in fact we didn’t finish what we were served with just one order – although M. tried his best). Yes, dessert was included and we could choose either a homemade Kolacky or Jello.  Jello????? I don’t think I have ever been in a restaurant that offered Jello as a dessert choice unless it was on the children’s menu or cafeteria style.  With a big smile, extremely full stomachs, and a vow to return again one day M and I drove back to our hotel.

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Over the next few days we were typical tourists seeing such things as Buckingham Fountain, Lake Michigan, and Pier Park and other popular places here and there both in downtown Chicago and the suburbs. We visited Millennium Park and took photos of our reflection by the Bean.  After lunch we walked through the park and stumbled upon some performers rehearsing for an evening concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion.

It was such a nice trip down memory lane for M.  Although some areas had changed, there was just enough remaining to rekindle fond memories of so long ago. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to actually see all of the places that mean so much to him.

Although I have lived as far west as Texas and as far north as Connecticut I was actually born and raised only a little over an hour from where I currently live. I haven’t been back in several years and hear that area is growing and changing like crazy. I am lonely for it and will return very soon.

How about you? Have you been back to your home town lately?

Savoring Retirement – Summer Nights

Another great thing I am discovering about retirement is that every night can feel like the weekend.  We have a little shed in our backyard and we love to sit outside on its deck off and on from early spring until late fall.  We listen to music, talk softly, grill something delicious to eat, laugh, and just enjoy being outside. Sometimes I pretend we are at an outdoor cafe somewhere in the world or sitting dockside eating delicious seafood while pretending to listen to the waves pound the nearby shore.  M is a good sport and will play along for a couple of minutes.  We often wind up getting too silly or we sigh and wish we were really in that special location.  During this pandemic we have tried to be creative in making meals a little more special and evenings a little more fun since eating out at a restaurant or travelling is not a high priority these days.

M. loves to grill (he has three – gas, charcoal, and a Big Green Egg) and does so almost every single evening.  Yes, the temperatures are warmish, but we still like to sit outside most evenings and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

I like to try new recipes and this was a delicious lump crab cake dinner.  I mixed everything together that morning and let it marinade all day.  We modified the cooking by baking them on a pizza stone on the Big Green Egg instead of heating up our oven.  Recipe here

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My siblings and spouses joined us for dinner one evening and it was so so so VERY good to see them.  We took precautions and just being together was worth the effort.

We are in the process of waiting to build a home closer to other grandchildren, so we are trying to soak in as much of what makes us happy in our current location as we can before our dream of a move becomes a reality.