Tag Archives: retirement

Happy Trails, Part 76

Retirement has delivered many changes for my wife and me. We expected some of them. Others have kind of caught me by surprise.

One of the surprises has been the realization that no longer are we bound to others’ deadlines, others’ demands.

We are free to make our decisions on our own time.

It’s quite cool, yes? Of course it is!

We moved from Oregon to Beaumont, Texas in the spring of 1984 so that I could continue to pursue my career in print journalism. I was hired and I had to move by such-and-such date and report for work on a certain day and time.

Then we moved from Beaumont to Amarillo to continue that pursuit in early 1995. The same requirements forced me to report for duty at a prescribed date and time.

I met those deadlines. My wife came along later after working feverishly to clear up matters enough to enable us to make the move.

We were operating on others’ timetable.

No more. We’re now on our own deadline. We can set it. Or we can choose not to set it.

We’re awaiting word on the sale of our house. We have accepted an offer. We are going to jump through the usual hoops: inspection reports and then signing of plenty of papers to transfer ownership of our property to another party.

Then we prepare to move.

People ask me almost daily: What are your plans? My answer is the same: We don’t have any plans. We’re retired now and we aren’t obligated to make plans by a certain date. We have nowhere to be at a particular date and time.

We are, as I’ve said only half-jokingly, making it up as we go along.

That is the truth!

Yes, we have a general idea where we intend to move. The precise destination isn’t determined.

We will take our time looking for it. Given that our “home” these days sits on four wheels and rides behind our pickup truck, we are free to go wherever we please, whenever we please.

Our first order of business will be to determine where we want to park our RV while we scour North Texas looking for a place to call home yet again.

This foray into the world of retirement has given us the luxury of time and the freedom to use as much — or as little — of it as we desire. Ain’t it cool?

Happy Trails, Part 75

The time has arrived for me to start thinking about what I am going to miss about the Texas Panhandle.

Our retirement journey this week took a big step forward to the next place.

This place, though, has been good to my wife and me. We’ve called it home for 23 years … plus a couple of months. As we prepare to move on down the road, I am filled with many memories.

One of them slapped me in the face the first time I ever laid eyes on this region. It occurred in late 1994. I flew from Beaumont to Amarillo to interview for a job at the Amarillo Globe-News, which had a post to fill: editorial page editor of both papers, the Daily News and the Globe-Times.

I landed at Amarillo International Airport, walked into the terminal and met the man I hoped to succeed. Tom Thompson was about to become press secretary for the newly elected congressman from the Panhandle, Republican Mac Thornberry.

We walked out to the parking lot and I noticed right away: Man, this place looks so … big!

I could not get over how far one can see here. We walked to Thompson’s car and even riding from the airport toward downtown I couldn’t take my eyes off the panorama.

I don’t recall my precise words to Thompson as we drove into the city, but I think it was something like, “I cannot believe how big and spread out everything looks.”

If you’ve been the Golden Triangle, or seen the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas, you get what I meant. The pine trees and the dogwoods are lush. The highways that course through the woods, however, do tend leave one with a bit of claustrophobia.

Not here, man! You see the High Plains of Texas for the first time and you feel, well, sort of liberated.

Yes, I will miss that feeling here. I will miss the big, beautiful sky that I’ve said before is God’s payback to the region for neglecting to grant this part of the world with purple mountain majesty.

I’m like to have more to say in the days and weeks ahead about the many friends my wife and I have made here. I’ll offer a word or two about the professional fulfillment I received while working for nearly 18 years at the local newspaper. I might even say something about how I managed to navigate my way through a community with a significantly different world view than the one I carry with me.

Today, my mind takes me back to that first glimpse of the wide open spaces this region provides. One’s first impression of a place often is the most compelling. So it was when I first cast my gaze on the place we would call “home.”

Puppy Tales, Part 46

Take a good look at the face in this picture. It’s the face of a smart puppy. It’s Toby the Puppy, who’s been in our family now for more than three years.

It’s also the face of a pooch that understands complete sentences and catches on quickly to new words and phrases.

We took Toby for a walk this afternoon around the RV park where we’ve been living for some time. We approached a pasture on the east end of the park where some horses often graze. Toby has made the horses’ acquaintance already, has barked at them while his “mother” has stroke their foreheads and noses; the horses give him no particular never mind.

Well, today my wife asked about the beasts. “Where are your horses, Puppy?” she asked Toby. The instant he heard the question, his ears perked up and he raced out to the end of his retractable leash looking for horses in the pasture.

I hope you get my point.

Toby is smart. I’ve boasted already about how “Lassie smart” he is. He understands complete sentences. He understands enough English that my wife have to spell certain words out to avoid having to respond to his hearing the actual words and, thus, react accordingly; however, he’s also learning how to spell, too! We might have to consider developing hand signals … kinda like they do in baseball.

Yes, puppy parenthood is quite the adventure.

May it continue for a long, long time.

Time has this way of flying by

It wasn’t so long ago that I would snicker and tease my friends who were young parents.

“Oh, my baby is just growing up so fast. It seems like yesterday that he (or she) was born,” they would say. I’d ask: “And how old is your baby now?” The answer: “Oh, my baby is turning a year old.”

My response often would be something like this: “Talk to me in 20 or 30 years and then we can discuss how ‘time flies.'”

That was then. I noted nearly four years ago about how our precious granddaughter was getting ready to celebrate her first birthday.

First birthdays are the most important

Emma Nicole is about to turn — and I am gulping as I type these couple of words — 5 years of age.

These days I no longer snicker at my young-parent friends. I feel their angst, their anxiety, at times their frustration.

Time is scampering away from us. I remember the day Emma came into our lives quite vividly, just as I remember when our sons arrived, too; that was more than four decades ago.

You’ve read on this blog how much we have enjoyed grandparenthood, even though Emma lives some distance from us — for the time being. We’re in the process of shortening that distance dramatically. We hope that day arrives much sooner rather than later.

As we move along with the rest of our life together, my wife and I are preparing for the next big challenge. It will be likely our final relocation. Then we’ll be able to enjoy the full fruits of grandparenthood.

Oh, brother. The time does have this habit of getting away from us.

Happy Trails, Part 74

The Grand Retirement Trail has opened up a bit for my wife and me.

We’ve had plenty of splendid journeys throughout the United States.

We ventured out west, through California and then to Oregon to attend my 50-year high school reunion. We have ventured the other direction, to Nashville, then to Washington, D.C. We took a trip straight north to the Twin Cities, Minn., to visit my cousin. We toured much of Texas in a circular path that took us from the Panhandle to North Texas, through East Texas, to the Golden Triangle, to Houston, to the Coastal Bend, then to the Hill Country.

We’ve seen friends and family along the way through all those journeys.

Our retirement years, though, aren’t restricted to exclusively North American destinations. One of our bucket list journeys involves a trip through the breadth of Canada, from Vancouver to the Maritime Provinces.

But, yes, we have at least one bucket list journey that we plan to take. It will be to Australia.

Friends who have been Down Under tell me the same thing: You will need to take plenty of time, because it takes a long time just getting there. OK. We get it.

I’ve had a fascination for nearly 55 years. My father entertained a career opportunity that would have taken him to a coastal community north of Sydney. I wanted to go. I thought Dad wanted to go, too. I learned a bit about Australia and tried to persuade Dad to take the job he was considering.

Dad didn’t take the bait. We stayed in Oregon. My desire to visit the Outback hasn’t dissipated on little bit.

We’ll get there. I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

My wife and I have been blessed with being able to see a lot of the world together. We’ve been to Taiwan twice together; we have visited Denmark and Sweden. We’ve been to Greece twice; my wife says of all the places she’s been, Greece is one country she could visit repeatedly. We have seen Israel, too.

I am unsure whether we’ll get back to all those places we’ve seen already. I do know that Australia beckons. Maybe New Zealand, too.

I happen to one of those Americans who isn’t as fond of international travel as I used to be. This post-9/11 world makes it a bit of a cumbersome experience.

It’s not too cumbersome, though, to keep me away from fulfilling this bucket-list journey to the other side of the planet.

Happy Trails, Part 73

The question comes to me almost weekly.

I’ll run into longtime friends or acquaintances and they inevitably ask: How do you like retirement?

My answer is usually the same: If I were doing any better I’d be twins.

One former colleague who now lives in Houston asked me that very question about a year ago. I gave him the answer. His response? “I’ve never met a retired person who doesn’t love being retired.”

There you have it. My friend has said I fit the mold of your standard, run-of-the-mill retired guy.

What my friend also understands is that my journey toward retired contentment — and, yes, the joy it brings — didn’t start out that way. My retirement journey began unhappily. I wasn’t yet ready to call it quits when I did. I resigned my last newspaper job — at the Amarillo Globe-News — in a fit of emotional pain.

The truth is that it didn’t take me long to realize that my former employer actually did me a favor. I sent myself out to pasture. The pain that I felt on my last day of employment dissipated quickly.

I’ve known many people over the years who have gone through circumstances quite similar to what I encountered. They had been reorganized out of jobs, too.

Here is what I rediscovered about myself. I am a highly adaptable creature. I discovered by adaptability when my family and I moved from Oregon to Texas in the spring of 1984 and exposed ourselves to a serious culture shock. We adapted. My wife and I went through another form of culture shock when we moved from Beaumont to Amarillo in January 1995. We adapted to that change yet again.

My wife and I are going to embark on one more big challenge as we prepare to relocate once more, from the High Plains to North Texas.

My adaptability skills will come into play once again.

The only part of my new life that won’t change — ever! — is a return to the working world. I’ve done my time there.

Retirement really is so very good.

Happy Trails, Part 72

I have enjoyed sharing this retirement journey I have embarked on with my wife and our 3-year-old puppy, Toby.

However, I get this feeling I need to clear the air on something. I have encountered about a half-dozen friends and acquaintances during the past week or so who have said the same thing: Hey, I thought you moved.

Whoa, kids! Not so fast. Don’t give me the bum’s rush.

Why do they think such a thing? Two or three of these folks have said they “read your blog.” Again, whoa, man!

I have tried to be clear about a couple of points. One of them is that my wife and I intend to move to North Texas. The other of them is that we haven’t actually done so just yet.

We have “moved” into our recreational vehicle. We have vacated the southwest Amarillo house we occupied for 21 years. It is empty of furniture. It does have a fresh coat of paint on the interior walls. It is on the market. We have a real estate company trying like the dickens to sell it for us.

But the cool part of this retirement gig is that we aren’t impatient about moving. Anxious? Yes. We have a huge reservoir of patience that is serving us well as we await to receive an offer on our house that we can accept.

We’re enjoying our new life. It does present some challenges for us. Our house, while it isn’t huge, is spacious. We did enjoy being able to spread ourselves out. We don’t have that luxury now in our 28-foot fifth wheel.

But … it is comfortable enough.

I keep telling those I see as I make my way around Amarillo this simple line: We’re a lot closer to moving than we were a week ago … but we don’t yet have a date.

In the meantime, we are waiting to see where this retirement journey is going to take us — precisely. We’ll know in due course.

Puppy Tales, Part 45

People express their jealousy in various ways: anger, pouting, acting out … or they go overboard in seeking attention.

I guess you can say the same thing about pooches.

We have discovered that Toby the Puppy uses the latter example to get past whatever envy or jealousy he might feel when his mother and I see another canine pal.

We’re ensconced in an RV park near Amarillo’s airport. We have some lovely new neighbors. One couple parked in an RV about three spaces away are the proud parents of a large German shepherd mix. Her name is Maizey. She is a delightful pooch; she’s about 7 years of age.

When we take Toby the Puppy out for his frequent walks/potty pit stops, we often run into Maizey. She might be playing with her parents or she might be leashed up enjoying the sunshine.

Toby and Maizey already have made each other’s acquaintance. They hit it off immediately. You see, Toby is not intimidated by larger dogs; Maizey weighs — and this is just a guess — about 70 pounds; Toby tips the beam at 10 pounds.

But … when my wife and give a little love to Maizey, that sends Toby into a sort of puppy orbit. He jumps all over us. He wants to be loved, too, in the moment. It’s no time to take attention away from Toby and give it all to another pooch.

That would be Toby’s modus operandi.

As I’ve noted already on this blog, Toby the Puppy makes us laugh every single day. Thus, we’ve giggling constantly since September 2014, when Toby joined our family.

I’ll extend a word of thanks to Maizey for cheering us up.

Happy Trails, Part 71

There’s something to be said for living in a recreational vehicle and getting a visual treat such as what we received this evening.

Our retirement has brought us to a new lifestyle. It’s a bit more cramped than what we have experienced. My wife, Toby the Puppy and I are spending our evenings in our fifth wheel. We’re in our second Amarillo, Texas, location.

We vacated the first place right after Christmas; we ventured to North Texas to celebrate the holiday with our granddaughter and her parents, then returned to another RV park near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

This view is from our RV picture window. We saw the sun set in the west and set the sky ablaze as it sank below the horizon.

I’ve mentioned already on this blog about how God blessed the Texas Panhandle with a huge sky in exchange for tall timber and mountains.

I won’t rehash those thoughts.

However, our retirement life in this location has treated us to some spectacular days end sights … and some equally glorious beginning of days.

The sunset today was particularly gratifying, when you consider the bone-chilling days we’ve endured in this part of the world. At least we have avoided the terrible snow/ice/sleet that has plagued much of the rest of the nation.

Today was a special day, made that way by the spectacular sight of the sun sinking slowly in the west.

Let’s do this again tomorrow.

Happy Trails, Part 70

Our retirement journey has hit a bump in the road.

Don’t worry. It’s not serious. It’s not a dealbreaker. There’s an “end game.”

As I write these few words, my wife and I are hunkered down with Toby the Puppy in our fifth wheel waiting out a winter blast that’s plowing through Amarillo, Texas.

The temperature is plummeting through the day. The sun will set — although we won’t see it through the cloud cover — and the temp will bottom out at around 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then it’ll climb back to something more, um, tolerable.

We knew the moment we moved into this fifth wheel full time that we were set to experience a bit of the downside of this new lifestyle we have adopted.

The winter blast we’re experiencing at this moment is one of them.

We’ve taken measures to protect our plumbing. We’ve also taken measures to ensure we have plenty of heat.

As for Toby the Puppy, he seems to have gotten over his case of cabin fever I told you about a few blog posts ago. He knows it’s cold out there and, given that he’s among the smartest — if not the smartest — pooches ever, he is not about to ask his mother and me to go outside until it becomes an absolute imperative … if you know what I mean and I am sure you do.

So, the journey continues. We’re just not going anywhere — until it warms up a bit.