Friday, June 29, 2012

God Speed

My sister, Kerri, her husband Paul and son, Zac were in Michigan visiting and left this morning pointed towards their home in Colorado.  Along the way back they will be camping at Paul's family reunion in Iowa.  It is an annual reunion and one they look forward to, but their hearts are worried right now for the wildfires that rage just outside their city of Colorado Springs.

Kerri and Paul own a well used and well traveled 5th wheeler.  When they plan a trip back to Michigan, (usually every other year), they try to do a good amount of sight seeing along the way and camp in places that will give them the most vacation bang for the buck.  This year's trip was a bit more "spur of the moment" due to scheduling conflicts later in the summer when they planned to come.  While in Michigan, they managed to hook up with both of my brother's kids and families in the more southern part of the state and get in some Lake Michigan camp time.  Hitting both Jeremy's place in Caledonia and Shawn's place in Charlotte is no mean feat and then heading back to the west side so as not to interrupt Mom at the farm for too long a time.  We are all very conscious of giving Mom her space on the farm, something she will adamantly tell you if you overstep. 

They got here on late Tuesday afternoon.  I missed seeing her that first night as we were training dogs at Omega Farms.  The next morning was hectic for me as well with a hair appointment, and unless there is a death I do not give up my monthly hair time.  Then I took a friend out to a long overdue lunch, and the afternoon was gone, that fast.  It was my night to open the Historical Museum and then a meeting afterward, so long story, short, it was after 8 on Wednesday night before I saw my sister. 

Kerri and I are five years apart in age.  Until I went off to college we shared a bedroom, but because of my brother being between us and closer to me in age, and my best friends down the road, we were never particularly close as some sisters I knew, namely my best friends down the road.  But we were leaning more that way after I married and while she was in college.  Then she decided to move to Colorado, about a year before she would have had her college degree.  She and her friend packed up and moved to Colorado and only really knew one person there and he was a school friend of my younger, (her older), brother, Kim.  She had contacted Greg and he said she could come out and stay with him until both found jobs or whatever it was they were looking for.  So off they went.  They settled in with Greg, found jobs, moved out, moved back, found love, un-found love, and ultimately the two friends went their separate ways, Kerri stayed on with Greg, and then met Paul and moved north to marry him and live in Colorado Springs.

It was hard to stay close with the distance thing, and when she first left, our lives were drastically different.  But in the last couple of decades she has married and experienced child birth and what being a parent is.  She has asked advice and I have seen her go ahead of me to rediscover her Lord and Savior, while I hung back, somewhat content to be the "Always Has Been Christian".   I am now getting there, but Little Sis led the way.   We have reconnected over kids, our parents, burying a parent, husbands, and menopause.  We schedule bike rides together so we can have that "sister time" and we never get talked out.

We now share Faith, worry about our Mom, and remember our childhoods and what will become of the Farm.  She has a wonderful husband in Paul and a great son in Zac, who is just testing the teenage waters, (and I wouldn't do that now for all the electronics in China).  We had a cookout here last night, and she was the best at making light of the bet Kurt and I made not to turn on the AC in June.  It was 97 degrees yesterday, but we all had a good time.

Last night when my sister left, (who's voice I now realize is my voice), we hugged and I told them, "God Speed".  May He speed them back to Colorado in good time as their hearts right now are with the people of Colorado Springs worrying about the wildfires. May He help those fighting the fires to continue until they are no more, and may He give the people the will to rebuild and reach out....
God Speed, Sis. 

What Goes Up, Comes Down, Unfortunately....

I thought I was getting the hang of this retirement thing, at least the easing into retirement for Kurt.  But like anything it is a work in progress.  He left a short time ago, and were it not for my worrying about Gauge performing and in this continuing heat wave, I couldn't have shoved Kurt out the door fast enough.  I am just so looking forward to a couple of days all to myself.  Time to not explain why I am not turning on the AC, and just relaxing in front of a fan in the hottest part of the afternoon.  I can do this because I don't have to worry about making someone a meal, who will eat a salad if I make him the salad.   A salad takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and there was leftover teryaki chicken to put in it, but a salad wasn't appealing if he had to make it.  Better leftover nacho meat which he just had to dump cheese on and heat. ...ARGGGH! And that is why I am happy for this time alone.

This would be a minor matter if we could just work on the business of retiring, but there just is all this stuff from the business still going on.  It kind of puts a crimp in my enjoyment of the weekend as if its a bit off kilter from the start.  Kurt is taking Gauge to a master hunt test.  It is a two day trial, but if Gauge fails the first day, he is done.  You have to pass both days to get the pass, but on my scale of importance I would rather if he must fail, it be the second day.  Of course I have the utmost faith in Gauge, its handler error that worries me.  But then it doesn't take much to worry me these days.  I talked to a friend a couple of weeks ago, and she said, "I am just so tired of worrying all the time about everything".   I get it.  I really do.  This was a woman who had taken a deserved retirement from a major telephone company.  Her kids were grown and she delighted in watching her grandkids.  And still she worried.  And I get it.  Sometimes its enough to make me not want to turn on the tv except to watch old reruns of the "Andy Griffith" show.  There is no worrying in Mayberry where every problem is solved in a half hour and life just seems slow and easy.  Its enough to make give up reading the newspapers....Well, I kind of did that a year ago, when I canceled my local paper.  Aside from the obits, which seem to be more relevant day by day,I don't miss it much.  Its enough to make me want to shut off every electronic device capable of giving me the bad news and sad state of our world, but then I couldn't complain on this blog, now could I?

What it really makes me want to do is go back to my childhood, to that simpler time when I didn't have much to worry about except eating my vegetables.  It probably wasn't worry free for my parents who had to think about supporting a young family on a dairy farmer's income, but it just seems as the world has grown, as we are linked instaneously with everywhere by the stroke of a send key on a computer, we have more to worry about  We can be told about everywhere around the world.  We now agonize over bad news along with millions and billions of others.  We are told we aren't pretty enough, good enough, young enough, or smart enough and that we must plan ahead to avert disaster.  Usually I feel like that ship has long since sailed, and the big shoe that is about to fall on my head is just around the next corner.  If the shoe went up, its gonna come down....

But the thing about worrying is, it doesn't add one day to your life, a Biblical quote that is a truism in a Book of Truth.  Worrying won't make me prettier, smater, faster, richer, and most importantly at this stage of my game.....YOUNGER.   I can't turn back the clock and get a "do over".  I can't wish that I had thought to do things earlier.  I can't regret that I let early worries, sap some of the pleasure out of times before.  I can pray for Patience to wait on what's in store for me and release the fears to the place they God's feet. 

Yup, I haven't figured out this retirement thing at all, and the lump of worry still resides in my chest at 3 a.m., but the good thing is, it doesn't seem to knock me down and drag me into the pit.  It takes a good whack at me, but I am resilent....I think. 

For now, I'm just going to put my feet up and read a good book with that fan blowing gently on me and relax....and leave my worrying behind for awhile anyway.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Auction

Day 30 of retirement and I am still here and smiling.  I am smiling because Kurt's not here...

I can honestly say we have been busier since he retired than before.  I don't know if its just coincidence, that events are coming up to keep us on the move or if we now have the time to attend those things we would have brushed off, rushing to work or the more important events.  Funny how being retired allows us to slow down and yet do more with less.  If that makes sense, you must be retired.

Anyway, yesterday we attended the living estate auction of a good friend of Kurt's. Its only the second living estate auction I have been to, but I have a feeling you will see more and more of these as people no longer want to just sit in their homes and finish out their lives and let the kids take care of the "stuff" of their lives.  Many are selling their homes and many just don't want all the things they have accumulated over the years.  This isn't usually garage sale stuff but collections that people amass as a hobby, that are actually worth something, but things their children do not want.

In Kurt's friend's case, he is a bachelor who has suffered recent severe medical and emotional problems.  Throughout his adult life he worked, fished and duck hunted.  He might have been considered a "hoarder" as his collections numbered in the thousands of everything.  His small house was jammed with all the paraphernalia of fishing and hunting. 

I come upon my love of auction sales, quite honestly.  When I was a young kid, my parents fell in love with antiquing.  Growing up in the upswing of the Great Depression, their parents considered anything new so much better than the hand-me-downs they had lived their entire lives with.  My dad told of dry wells loaded with old oak furniture, discarded for new, as an easy alternative to ridding themselves of the cumbersome pieces.  My parents were influenced by our neighbor and good friend, Joyce, who always dreamed of someday opening her own shop.  They began browsing antique shops and would plan trips around the antique places they could visit.  Country auction sales were kind of a natural extension to the antique shop experience.  By the time I graduated high school I was a seasoned auction attendee.  I had already learned how to strip furniture and look for sturdy pieces, but envision what old broken pieces could become. 

When I married Kurt, he was a novice at the auction thing, but I indoctrinated him quickly, along with help from my brother and his wife.  We would pack the kids up and spend many a Saturday at tree shaded country auctions, the kids playing in whatever box of "stuff" we bought off the jewelry wagon.   For a buck or two, I could watch the rest of the auction and keep the kids busy.  A winner in my book.  Most of my antiques came into being through auction sales.  Before people really knew what many antiques and collectibles were worth, boxes of treasures were sold on jewelry wagons and wonderful small items were almost always in those boxes.  It was like our own personal treasure hunt, every time. 

Kurt usually stood in the background and let me do the bidding and picking out of what to buy.  But he was taking notes and years later after other pursuits and life had disrupted our auction attending for well over a decade, he was the one who came back to it with renewed zeal. 

This was our third auction of the year, something unheard of for us just a couple of short years ago.  We really didn't need any more stuff, the country's recession had hit us and the auction market, and stuff is no longer bought to adorn a house or add a little something extras.  Most of us want to strip down that "junky" country look we once loved and just have a few select things.  For us now, less is more and we have learned to "edit" as the buzzword goes.

But this was an auction for a friend, and while I am not personally into 800 or more kinds of fishing lures, I went to accompany Kurt and to talk to family, who I knew personally were going through an ordeal with selling all of these things.  To some it may have been astounding and funny to see the myriad of fishing paraphernalia one man had collected, much still in the packaging, but to us it was bittersweet and sad in knowing buying this stuff was his comfort and his obsession and in the end was a large part of the problem.

Through all of the past year I have learned to be grateful and I mean, deeply grateful for the many blessings I have.  Its the small every day miracles I now take quiet joy.  I enjoyed the auction through the sadness.  The family talked to me and unburdened and they needed that.  There were many others who were just amazed at the great deals to be had and even some young people who I knew would be hooked for life on hobbies and perhaps auctions never before surmised.  I watched as some teenagers bought a large tackle box full of ....tackle.  They spent 15 minutes looking through all that they had bought, delighted as toddlers over Christmas. 

My son, daughter in law and grandson showed up for the end of the auction, and Luca delighted us all with his first real steps.  My daughter in law caught it on video and I smile as a young friend counts Luca's steps and cheers him on.  Kurt's hands are seen waiting for Luca as he toddles forward, a smile of pure delight on his face.  I had forgotten how magical those first steps are, and now I remember. 

Its these common moments woven together that are the fabric of life.  And an auction sale gave me all of these least for today. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A New Chapter

Here I am in the basement of my house, sweeping cobwebs. There are many, many cobwebs.   I have been reduced to this.  In my zeal to save on electrical energy and to stubbornly resist turning on the AC this early in "not even summer" yet, I found the basement to be blessedly cool.   A quick swipe with the broom on the stairway turned into an hour adventure in the wonders, of cool, damp basements and watching spiders scurry as I attacked their lairs.

I was also in the basement to escape Kurt.  If anyone is still reading this blog, and I've got to admit, I wouldn't read it at the rate I add to it, you will have noticed there has been over a month lapse.  Lots of things I alluded to earlier on in this blog, came to fruition or more appropriately an end.  Kurt's business was sold after a year of uncertainty and unease, and near panic.  He and his brother transitioned the business over for 90 days and then retired.  We kind of lived in denial during that period, both of us hoping something magical would happen to change what was going to be a new, (and we thought), unwelcome chapter in our lives.  Kurt didn't really want to retire and I didn't want him retired.  He was tired of the struggle of what the business had become, but didn't know any other way to live and was quite frankly, scared about what his life would now be.  I was panicked by all the stereotypes I had seen and were in my mind about retirement and how we'd survive it together when we had never done anything 24/7 for more than a couple of week's time in our whole married life.

So we lived in denial until it was done, and then we fell off that cliff together.  Its now been a month and we're kind of getting it.  There have been moments of silent primal screaming, (mine), and moments when I find him just gazing out into the yard with a faraway look on his face, but I am slowly finding the blessed moments are becoming more prevalent and starting to outweigh every thing else.  We are doing the retirement thing by the seat of our pants, but I guess every big event in my life, has been by the seat of my pants and  learning as I go along.  Its never been what I thought it would be in my murky imaginings, but in the "glass half full" I'm trying to adopt, its always been full of surprises and they have been blessings far and away.  I'm trying to find the little things every day that I missed so often along the way to the next big phase in my life.  And I was never quite sure I got to that next big phase until I was mostly through it.  Go figure.

Still, I am in the basement sweeping cobwebs and relishing being, at least by a cool room, away from him.  We now make an effort to do things we couldn't before like take a drive on a hot, midweek evening and stop for ice cream at the Merrill Whippy Dip.  We plan on heading up north during the week to see relatives, (also retired), on the non busy part of the weeks.  We weed the garden together and sit on our laptops, side by side.

Still, I am in the basement and wishing I could be somewhere else for awhile without him.  But I can smile, knowing he would rather be somewhere else without me also.  He's a bit lost for now trying to remake his life without that constant of going to work.  I am trying to be optimistic and look at this as our chance to live life simply, but still well and slow down and enjoy.  That's a tall order for me as I tend to take every headline, every ache and pain to heart and the "Sky is falling, Chicken Little", but I am trying. 

I am in the basement sweeping cobwebs, but its a blessing as without retirement, I wouldn't be in this cool basement, badly in need of sweeping and some critical analysis on what should be stored away years upon years ago.  Things I can now put in order. 

My plan is to now really write.  The elephant in the room is now exposed and now its time to live the rest of life.  Things to write bubble from me, but I am not a disciplined person.  I do what I have to do, but so often great things to write come when I am away from the house or lying in bed, too tired to get up, but too wide awake to sleep. 

Maybe its time to start a new blog, but for now, this Grandma is still learning and I'll stick with that and sweep some more cobwebs.