Tag Archives: retirement

Happy Trails, Part 111: Loving the term ‘retired’

Time for an acknowledgement.

It took me some time to get used to telling strangers that I am “retired.” I wasn’t uncomfortable saying it. I have enjoyed virtually every minute of full-time retirement.

It’s just that when someone would ask me, “What are you doing these days?” or “What line of work are you in?” I would freeze for just an instant before answering the question.

These days, my wife and I are encountering many more strangers than longtime friends and acquaintances, given our new place of residence just north of Dallas in the pleasant community of Fairview.

We meet folks. The question comes about my occupation. I now answer without taking a breath: I’m retired.

Then comes the follow-up inquiry: You’re retired … from what?

Then I tell them I was a journalist for nearly four decades.

I’ve long noted since I resigned from the Amarillo Globe-News in the summer of 2012 that “separation anxiety from working every day is highly overrated.” I feel the same as what my wife and I felt about “empty nest syndrome,” which we also considered to be an overrated condition as well. Our sons left home right after high school to attend college and — to be totally candid — my wife and I felt a certain liberation.

We feel the same way about retirement. We’re liberated from the obligation of reporting to The Man, of having to be certain places at certain times and having to do certain tasks for certain people.

Now that I getting acquainted with a new community filled with people I’ve never seen until now, I find myself answering the question about how I spend my days with increasing ease.

I’m retired.

It’s easy to type on my keyboard and it’s easy to say out loud.

We’re having the time of our lives.

Happy Trails, Part 110: Put away … already!

I am married to Wonder Woman.

No, she doesn’t spin around and morph into a super heroine dressed in some goofy red-white-and-blue costume.

But … she’s a wonder nevertheless.

This woman with whom I have shared my life for 47 years has managed to find places to put possessions we had stuffed into a 2,150-square-foot house in Amarillo into a “luxury apartment” that is just a little more than half that size in Fairview.

Now, is every single thing precisely where we intend to keep it? Probably not. We’re likely to discard some of these possessions. However, as you look through our new digs you get the sense that it’s actually assembled in a livable fashion.

I credit Wonder Woman for this. She is the master of packing and unpacking. She is systematic in her approach. She takes time to survey the situation, then attacks it with gusto.

Wonder Woman is reluctant to take too much credit for this skill she exhibits. She credits it to the number of times she moved as a much younger person. She learned this packing-unpacking skill at a young age, she’ll tell you. So it becomes sort of second nature for her.

Me? I’m not wired that way. Although I do consider myself to be more adaptable than I thought I might have been. Our move from Oregon to Texas in 1984, when we both were in our 30s, required me to activate that adaptability wiring. It worked. I was able to acclimate myself nicely to life along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Then again, I left the proverbial “heavy lifting” to Wonder Woman, who arrivedĀ  in Beaumont a few months after I landed there. She got there at the same time the mover arrived with our possessions. And, yes, she was able to store our worldly goods into an apartment where we lived for a time until we decided to purchase a home.

We repeated this process nearly 11 years later when we moved from Beaumont to Amarillo. Same story, a new verse. Wonder Woman did what she knows how to do.

We’re retired these days. You know that already about us. Her skill at unpacking, though, remains unrivaled.

I am grateful beyond measure. I am one lucky fellow.

Happy Trails, Part 109: Learning our way around

Our retirement journey has deposited my wife and me — along with Toby the Puppy — into a new community that isn’t entirely foreign to us. It does, however, present enough of a change for us to stop and think about where we are going and, more to the point, how we intend to get there.

We now live in Fairview, Texas. Where is that? It’s a small community tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County about 30 miles north of Dallas. Indeed, when I say “Fairview” to our friends in Amarillo, I often get a blank look; some folks claim to know where it is. I have to take them at their word. Most folks know where Allen and McKinney are located.

I believe Fairview’s students attend school in the McKinney Independent School District, as we’ve seen MISD buses cruising up and down the street outside our new digs.

The immediate challenge is to acquaint ourselves with getting to and from certain critical destinations. They include the grocery store, the pharmacy, the home improvement store, the charitable organization where we are donating a whole lot of unwanted items in our continuing effort to downsize.

I’ll stipulate that we aren’t total strangers to our new surroundings. We have been coming here frequently for a number of years, dating back to when our son first moved to the Dallas area to attend college in the early 1990s. He graduated in late 1994 and has never looked back. He got married in 2012 and the following year our granddaughter arrived — who, of course, gave us plenty of incentive to come here frequently.

Now we’re residents. We live about 10 minutes from our granddaughter. We know the way!

Our indoctrination to life in a new community will continue over the next period of time. It took us a while to navigate around Beaumont when we moved there in 1984. Eleven years later, we had to acquaint ourselves with Amarillo. Beaumont has developed significantly since our time there, so we struggle a little when we return to visit friends; I suspect the same thing will happen over time as Amarillo continues its growth and evolution into a place that bears little resemblance to what it is today.

The learning curve, though, isn’t as steep as it was when we relocated to Beaumont and then to Amarillo.

Hey, we’re retired now. We have time to figure it out.

Puppy Tales, Part 51

Toby the Puppy always seems to attract attention among children who see him walking with my wife and/or me on his leash.

A little boy, about age 7 or so, saw Toby the other day as we were strolling through the Amarillo recreational vehicle park where we lived for a time.

“Can I pet him?” the boy asked. Sure thing. The youngster stroked the puppy’s head; Toby responded with some licks.

Then the boy asked, “What’s his favorite thing to do?” I didn’t have to think for an instant about that one. “He loves to fetch his toys,” I said. The youngster got it.

Yes, Toby is a relentless toy fetcher. His endurance is boundless. His energy knows no limit. He loves to fetch his squeaky toys. What’s more, he’s getting very good at it.

The toy squeaks when he bites down. Then he promptly returns it directly to our feet. Right there. At our feet. We need not reach too far to pick it up and toss it again.

I’ve mentioned to you already on this blog about Toby makes us laugh every single day. He’s been a member of our family for not quite four years and, yes, we have laughed with him every day since he became a part of our lives.

The fetching provides plenty of opportunity for his mother and me to laugh. I never tire of a good laugh as I watch him. He cracks me up.

Maybe, too, it’s because I want to find humor wherever it presents itself, given the depressing state of political news these days. Whatever.

I simply am grateful that Toby the Puppy is able — and so very willing — to provide it.

Yearning for a simpler TV-viewing era

Our move from Amarillo to Fairview has been mostly seamless, mostly smooth, mostly simple and straightforward.

Except for one element that has become part of modern living.

TV viewing.

I am officially longing for the days when we sat on the couch, able to watch three — maybe four, if you include public television — programs on our TV. When you wanted to change the channel, you lifted yourself off the couch, walked to the set and turned the knob next to the big ol’ picture that was filled with hot tubes inside.

No more.

Today, we watch TV programs that are delivered on a variety of platforms, networks, “streaming” services. You name it, someone will have a way to get it to you.

If you can find a service that works well all the time.

We made the move to Fairview and installed an Internet/TV service packaged together. We were obligated to purchase this service. It ain’t cheap, man! But we did as we were instructed.

My problem at the moment is that we cannot get all the televisions in our new home to operate fully and flawlessly at the same time. Indeed, at this very moment, two of the three TV sets in our home have been rendered inoperable because of the technology associated with the TV service for which we are paying a handsome monthly fee.

I’m a fairly well educated individual. I consider myself to possess above-average intelligence. However, when I get a TV “technician” on the phone and he starts talking me through some of the issues that might be preventing us from getting TV service, my mind freezes up. My brain vapor-locks.

The young man might as well be speaking Martian to me.

High-tech gadgetry — which I consider this new-fangled TV service to be — is intended to expand our entertainment options. I get it. First things first, however. The first order of business is to get it to work right.

To get to that point, I guess I need to become fluent in Martian.

Happy Trails, Part 108: Every day is a weekend

AMARILLO, Texas — It’s taking me a while to get used to this notion, but it’s sinking in.

I was doing some business today in Amarillo, where we’re visiting and taking care of some personal matters.

I made the transaction and the teller said to me as I walked away, “Have a great weekend.”

To which I said with a slight chuckle, “Every day is a weekend.” The young man who wished me the “great weekend” is in his 20s. I told him, “Yes, I’m old and when you get to be my age you get to say things like that.”

This retirement gig does give one a unique perspective on time. When we don’t have to be somewhere, reporting for work and answering to a boss we are free to come and go as we please.

I’ve been retired now for a few years, but after spending four decades working full- and part-time for others I’ve been a bit slow to react appropriately to the normal throwaway greetings we get as we do business throughout the course of a given day.

“Have a good weekend” clearly is one of those greetings one tosses out. I do it, too.

My sister, who’s been retired for a good bit longer than my wife and I have, has told me how she and her husband laugh out loud when they get those greetings. I don’t guffaw (and I don’t think she does, either) when someone wishes us a “nice weekend.”

There are times when I forget what day it is. I occasionally have to take a breath and think for a moment, “Is this Tuesday, Wednesday … or what?” I hear that’s normal, too.

Just to set the record straight, though, I still wear a watch on my wrist, which I’m told is rather weird for a retired guy. I’m not yet into using my cellphone as a time piece. Maybe that day will come. Just not yet.

Meanwhile, retirement remains the best time of our life.

Happy Trails, Part 107: When to take a look back?

AMARILLO, Texas — It’s been three months since we signed the papers turning over possession of a house we called “home” for 21-plus years to someone else.

I haven’t yet cast eyes on the place. Neither has my wife.

Why am I bringing this up? Retirement has brought a lot of emotion bubbling up. Letting go of a structure we had built in the fall and early winter of 1996 has presented me with a bit of dilemma.

You see, I have had no trouble looking back at previous homesteads. My wife and I recently took a quick gander at our former residence in Beaumont. I was pleased to see it so well-maintained, given that I was afraid the old street had been inundated by Hurricane Harvey in the summer of 2017. It didn’t happen … thank goodness!

When we have returned to Oregon on occasion over the years, I have driven by our former houses. I have seen the house where I lived from 1962 until 1971, taking note of how the old neighborhood has, um, “matured” over the years. I even have looked at the little ol’ house where I lived from 1953 until we moved to the ‘burbs in ’62.

There’s more: We’ve even cast wistful gazes at the houses where our grandparents lived, and where my sisters and I spent lots of time as children.

I haven’t yet been able to look at the Amarillo house. Maybe one day. Perhaps that time will arrive when we have spent a bit more time in our new digs in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

We have been in and out of Amarillo for the past several weeks, taking care of personal matters, driving around town to run this and that errand. Only once have we driven anywhere close to the old house in the southwest quadrant of the city.

I don’t think my feelings are unique. When I get around to looking back at the old place, well, maybe that will be the next rite of passage toward full-fledged retirement.

Happy Trails, Part 106: Getting in shape for Emma

I used to say frequently that the world’s greatest athletes are our children.

If you want to get in shape, just try keeping up with your post-toddler child or grandchild; do everything they do … or so the saying goes.

I need to get into better physical condition. Emma ran me ragged at the park today.

She wanted to play and wanted to keep playing until she was done.

Up some steps, some ladders and down a slide we flew. Repeatedly. Then it was back up the steps and ladders. Down the slide. Back up. Down we went.

She wore me out!

Do I mind? Not one bit. Not in the least! Emma is why we made the move from the Texas Panhandle to this Dallas-area community.

I now have ample reason to get in shape and to stay in shape. I have to keep up with Emma.

Get ready, young lady! Eventually, I’ll match her step for step.

Puppy Tales, Part 50

I am absolutely certain that a number of you are concerned about Toby the Puppy’s adjustment to his new home.

The three of us — my wife, Toby and yours truly — have moved to Fairview, Texas. My wife and I spent more than two decades in the Texas Panhandle. Toby’s time there? All four years of his life on Earth.

How’s he doing? Better than I am, to be candid.

Our puppy is the most adaptable creature God ever produced. Nothing — not a single thing — bothers him as long as he is within earshot and eyesight of his mother and me. I kid you not!

He hasn’t lost a single night of sleep. He hasn’t missed a meal. He continues to insist we dote on him constantly, which my wife and I are more than willing, let alone able, to do.

Here might be the coolest part yet: Our move puts us closer to our granddaughter and to her puppy, a hulking black Lab named Madden — who happens to be one of Toby’s best friends.

Emma is so very loving with Toby; she’s gentle and she is acutely aware of how to approach him. As for our puppy, he loves little Emma — a lot!

And Madden, aka “Mad Dog”? Toby cannot wait to see him every time we approach our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Allen. He pulls on his leash, quick-stepping his way to the front door, as if he’s saying, “Let me at him!”

Our move now enables Toby the Puppy and his BFF, Madden/Mad Dog, to spend more quality time together running at dead sprints across Madden’s back yard.

This retirement journey on which my wife and I have launched doesn’t just involve our lives. We have Toby the Puppy to consider, too.

I am happy to report here and now that our puppy is doing just fine.

Happy Trails, Part 104: Half in, half out

I am at this moment in the midst of a curious emotional state.

My wife and I have taken up residence in Fairview, Texas, which is tucked neatly between Allen and McKinney, or just about a 30-minute drive north of Dallas.

It’s not entirely that simple. Nor have we completed the move entirely.

Our other “home” is our fifth wheel recreational vehicle, which at this moment is parked in an RV park in Amarillo, the city of our residence for the past 23 years.

We’re in. We’re out. We’re back and forth.

I tell friends in the Texas Panhandle that we have moved. I say so with absolute confidence and, to be candid, supreme pleasure. We had planned for years for the move; or, more to the point, we started planning the moment we learned that our granddaughter was on her way into this world. Our son and daughter-in-law live in Allen, so the deal was done when they told us of their pregnancy.

The RV has served as our home since October, when we vacated the house we built in December 1996. It’s our Panhandle home to this day. Our Fairview home is still a work in progress. You see, we are still trying to stuff many of the contents of our house into our new, and considerably smaller, dwelling in North Texas.

What’s more, we have decided where we’re going to store our RV when we’re no longer living in it. That transition will occur in about three weeks.

I have complete faith that we’ll succeed in this endeavor. The new place will be comfortable. We are looking forward to calling it our full-time residence. At this time, though, we remain tied to our former community as well as to the current one.

Family matters will keep us attached to Amarillo for the foreseeable future. Eventually, we intend fully to make the turn toward Fairview.

I guess you could call this the “long goodbye.”