Tag Archives: retirement

Happy Trails, Part 62

I anticipated that the pace of transition would quicken as we prepare to relocate from Amarillo to somewhere near our granddaughter, her parents and her brothers.

I didn’t quite expect the feeling of anxiety that would come with the speeding up of that transition.

Most of our belongings are stored away in Amarillo; the rest of them are stuffed into our recreational vehicle.

And today, the painters went to work refreshing the interior of the house we used to call “home.” We don’t yet have a timeline on when to expect them to finish. The lead painter vowed to work extra hard to get it done before Christmas. I am in no position to question whether he can get it done.

Anxiety? It’s not serious. It’s just a bit overwhelming — at least it is for me — to watch these men I’ve never seen before scurrying around our house taping windows, masking kitchen cabinets and laying butcher paper over every square inch of our floor.

It seems like just yesterday that the house was where my wife and I hung our hats, where we relaxed with the joy of knowing the property was all ours.

It’s still ours, but we now are calling another place “home” while we prepare for this next big challenge in our life together.

Get a load of this, though: The painters tell us the house is going to look “so good, you won’t want to leave.”

Uh, let me ponder that one.

OK. I just did.

Not a chance. Get to work, fellas.

Welcome to grandparenthood

I have introduced you to Emma Nicole, our granddaughter. She’s now 4 years of age and she’s growing way too rapidly.

Soon — hopefully even sooner than that — we plan to relocate nearer to her and her parents and brothers.

But last night at a Christmas party my wife and I attended, we got to experience something that I found oh, so very refreshing. We ran into a couple I have known for many years. He is a lawyer, she is a former elected official in Amarillo who does some business consulting around the area.

They are brand new grandparents. Their grandbaby is now three weeks of age. They are giddy beyond the stars, the sun and the moon. Their granddaughter lives in Austin with her parents — our friends’ son and his wife.

And guess what they’re planning to do? They’re making preliminary plans already to pull up their deeply rooted Amarillo stakes and move to the People’s Republic of Austin for the expressed purpose of living near their little baby granddaughter.

“I’ve made many trips already,” Grandpa told me last night as we laughed and shouted above the party din. “My wife is likely to drag me down there” to live, he said. Yeah, right, bub. There will be little “dragging” going on here. I heard it in his voice.

We have one thing in common with these good folks, apart from our shared world view of political and public policy matters. Their granddaughter is their first, just as Emma is our first “biological” grandbaby.

I’ve regaled many of our friends and family members over recent years about our joy at becoming grandparents. I’ll continue to do so at every opportunity. Heck, I might even look for opportunities.

Last night’s shared joy with a lovely couple, though, was a relatively new experience for us. We were given the chance to receive their exuberance at welcoming a treasured young one into their lives.

As the bumper sticker says so eloquently: If I had known grandkids would be so much fun, I would have had them first.


Happy Trails, Part 61

Now, wait just a doggone minute!

My wife, Toby and Puppy and I are holed up at an RV park on what I have described as the Texas Tundra, where it’s plenty cold.

Wait! I awoke this morning to learn that snow is falling down yonder in that so-called “warm climate” area of Texas. Corpus Christi? Snow. The Golden Triangle (where my wife and I raised our sons)? Same thing.

One of our dear friends in Beaumont has referred to it all as the meteorological “weirdometer.” It’s snowing where it ain’t supposed to snow, but it’s still dry where it does snow, she says.

Yeah, that’s weird, kid.

Climate change? Is it really and truly changing? Aww, I won’t go there … this time.

Our retirement journey has taken a strange turn. Our intention is to spend much of the winter pulling our fifth-wheel RV to “sunny and warm” climes relatively close to home while we try to sell the house where we lived for 21 years.

Maybe we’ll make it happen. Eventually. It’s just a good thing we have no immediate plans to hit the road for points south.

We have to wait for the snow to clear out.

Good grief! Weird!

Happy Trails, Part 60

I have known this all along, but we’re about to realize it in the moment. In real time.

When we vacated our house and moved full time into our fifth wheel recreational vehicle, we knew we could take our “home” with us whenever we felt like it.

For the first time in both of our lives, my wife and I are totally mobile.

Most of our worldly possessions are stored away safely. The mover took care of it. We have more of them with us in our RV. We’re packed pretty tightly into our vehicle, although we’re mindful about avoiding carrying too much weight behind our big ol’ pickup that we have named Big Jake.

We got some news recently about the RV park where we’ve lived for about a month: our rates are going up soon.

Our reaction? We’re going to move. We believe we’ve found a second site to park our vehicle. We’ll make the move in due course.

But first, we’re planning to spend some more time in our current location. Then we’ll clear the deck around our RV, unhook it from the utilities, back the truck up under the RV hitch, hook ‘er up and then we’ll hit the road.

This mobility mode takes some getting used to, I’ll have to admit. My wife and I both have been tethered to houses attached to terra firma.

For the time being, we’re on the move.

Happy Trails, Part 59

I want to declare myself officially to be a 21st-century American male.

Why now? Why the declaration?

It’s been more than one month since my wife and I pulled the plug on our land line. We did so prior to setting out in our RV for points west. We ended up in Portland, Ore., where I attended my 50-year high school reunion; then we hauled our RV back home.

But the absence of the land line has been a blessing, it seems to me. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss giving it out when folks ask me for a contact number. I just give ’em my cell number, as if it’s second nature. Even that signals a victory of sorts, given that I once declared my intention to be the last man on Earth to own a cell phone. I finally declared victory and purchased one.

How about that? Are you impressed? If not, you should be. I am.

Our house is now vacant. We’re ensconced full time in our RV. We’re preparing to put the house on the market. Then we’ll hope for the best.

Thus, a land line no longer is an option for us — even if we wanted one.

Friends and family members who long ago ditched their land lines have told us how easy it is to make that transition. I didn’t disbelieve them. However, one month into the transition ourselves, I am finding the ease of it so very believable.

Puppy Tales, Part 42

I have boasted about my own adaptability in the face of upcoming big changes in our life. However, I am a piker compared to Toby the Puppy when it comes to adaptability. For that matter, so is my wife.

Toby has adjusted quite nicely to RV living. That, full-time RV living.

We have taken the plunge. We have vacated our house and moved full-time, all the time into our 28-foot fifth wheel.

How has Toby the coped with the change? Just fine. Thanks for asking.

He’s a puppy with relatively few needs. All he seems to insist on is for Mommy and Daddy to be nearby. We are happy to oblige.

Yes, he has been forced to make his share of adjustments, just as my wife and I have made them. Perhaps the major adjustment in Toby’s life has been for him to tell us he needs to go outside. It’s a non-verbal request, to be sure. He goes to the door of our RV, stands there looking anxious. My wife and I have become quite fluent puppy body language.

It used to be easier for Toby. Going outside meant he would open the back door of our house and turn him loose into our fenced-in backyard. These days, the process requires us to attach a leash to his collar or his jacket. Then we have to go out with him.

That is not an issue for either my wife or me.

We still toss his toys and he still fetches them and brings them back to us.

Toby sleeps through the night and in fact gets so comfortable he’s often the last one to roll out of the sack in the morning.

Adaptable? Yep, Toby the Puppy is the canine definition of the term.

Happy Trails, Part 58

Here it comes.

My wife and I are about to enter a critical new phase in our post-retirement journey.

This is big, man! Huge! There’s no turning back from this one!

Very soon, movers are coming to our house and are going to haul our possessions off to a storage unit in downtown Amarillo, Texas.

Why is this so huge? Well, it means we have nowhere other than our recreational vehicle to sleep at night. It means we’re officially living in our RV. It becomes officially a full-time gig.

We are parked at an RV park just off of Interstate 40.

Once we clear this next big hurdle, which will be … uh … very soon, then we commence the next big challenge. That will involve getting a real estate agent to the house to give us a candid assessment of what we should ask for the place we used to call “home.”

Retirement came in an unexpected fashion to me. It arrived five years ago in a moment I was only half-expecting. I smelled a rat when my employer announced a “reorganization” effort was underway. When I learned that the “new direction” my employer was going wouldn’t include me, I resigned immediately. Then I worked a few part-time gigs, even as I applied for Social Security retirement income commencing when I turned 66.

As I look back on that moment in my life, I realize now how simple it was to transition from full-time to part-time work. There were plenty of opportunities for me to pursue elements of the career I had enjoyed for nearly four decades.

None of it matched the challenge that is about to come our way as we prepare to vacate permanently the house where we lived for 21 years.

Here, though, is the really good news: I am ready for it.

Happy Trails, Part 57

The question keeps coming at my wife and me: When are you moving?

The answer is beginning to change, I am happy to say. I can answer with some certainty: “We’re closer today than we were yesterday, but we don’t yet have a date. Although a date is beginning to present itself way out there on the horizon.”

I have mentioned in this blog that our pace is accelerating. It still is.

Our days of late have been spent clearing out the house we used to call “home.” If I haven’t mentioned it in this blog, I’ll do so now: I married Wonder Woman more than 46 years ago.

She is an expert at this moving thing. She’s a master packer of possessions. She makes virtually all the critical moving decisions. I abide by them. I also simply do what I’m told to do. She issues the orders, I follow them. It’s that simple, man.

But the truth is that our retirement journey is on the verge of making an important turn toward our destination. The mover is coming very soon. He will haul our possessions away. The house will be empty.

We will clean it up with brooms, vacuum, mop and bucket and window cleaner.

Then very soon we’ll ask a Realtor — who happens to be a friend — to come see us. She’ll assess the value of our home, make recommendations on what to do to give it maximum marketability. We’ll proceed rapidly from there.

Then we’ll stick a sign in the front yard.

I have been fond of saying that we all need one final challenge in their life. Our final major challenge is at hand.

I’ve heard from more than one of my retired friends who have said that they’ve “never been busier” than since they quit working for a living.

I get it.

Happy Trails, Part 56

My full-time retirement is not yet a year old, but we’re building a bank of memories already about this new life we’ve begun.

Today, though, brings to mind a memory I left behind when my 37-year career in print journalism came to an end.

It occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1989. I was far from home. I was traveling through Southeast Asia with about 20 other editorial page writers and editors. I have written about it before. Here is the blog item I posted in 2014 about that remarkable day:

A Thanksgiving to remember … in Vietnam

The post details the traveling we endured on that day. It was a bit harrowing. It produced none-too-pleasant “fantasies” about what might happen to us as we proceeded from Cambodia to Vietnam on that uniquely American holiday.

That particular journey was one of the more remarkable events in a career I left behind more than five years ago.

I built many wonderful relationships during more than three decades as a journalist. Indeed, the journey we took in 1989 through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam resulted in a friendship I forged with one fellow that I cherish to this day. Indeed, our wives have become dear friends, too. We watched each other’s children grow into adulthood.

As much as I miss those days and the fascinating sights I was able to see while pursuing the craft I enjoyed for so many years, I continue to look forward to more adventures in an entirely different context.

I give thanks for what I’ve been allowed to do for my professional life. I also give thanks for the relatively good health I enjoy that I trust will enable me to pursue what lies ahead.

Life is good, ladies and gents.

Happy Trails, Part 55

I enjoy answering questions about our plans to relocate from Amarillo.

The question came to my wife and me once again today: What are your plans? Where do you plan to go?

Our answer? We don’t know. We’re playing it by ear. We have a general idea, but we don’t have a destination.

The person — a recent acquaintance — who asked us about our plans gets it. She, too, is recently retired; she taught school for many years and is planning to purchase an RV and hit the road.

She noted that we spend our professional lives at work having to be somewhere at certain times. We’re on deadline.

Ah, yes. Those days are behind us now. It’s one of the joys my wife and I are getting out of this retirement life of ours. We don’t have to be anywhere. We both worked hard for many years in our respective careers. At this stage in our life together we feel a sense of entitlement that we no longer are punching the proverbial time clock.

So it is with our pending move.

We have hired a mover to haul our possessions out of our house. They’ll be placed in storage. We’re going to talk very soon with a real estate broker about marketing strategies for selling the house we’ve owned for more than two decades. We’ll get it fixed up. We will put it on the market. We will hope it sells quickly.

After that? We don’t know.

We have developed a general strategy for how we’re going to approach the purchase of a new home. We do not yet have a precise destination in mind, but we will have plenty of help awaiting us when we get ready to start shopping for a place to land.

Until then … the open road awaits.