Retirement and Walking Chester…

I am retired. No, not tired again, although that may be a little more accurate than first thought. No, I am actually retired—my last day of work was yesterday. My coworkers had a great party with cake!!

I didn’t lose it crying (although there were a couple times I had to fight it…those allergies, you know..). I am humbled by the experience and have a lot of thank you notes to write. Luckily one of my thoughtful coworkers gave me some! In all honesty, I have been so blessed. I was doing what I love doing with people I loved. But, there are other things I’d like to do as well.

 I got up this morning (at the same freakin time I do for work, not intentional) and had a cup of coffee and thought now what? What does retirement mean? What should I do with the last 40 years of my life?

I thought that when I see the cat snot on the wall I will have time to wipe it off instead of shaking my head, tsk tsking and getting ready for work. I saw a couple new splotches this morning in fact. Did I wipe it off? Nope. Later…after coffee.

If you remember, one of my New Year resolutions was to blog every week. I fully intend to do that. But not this week because it’s Labor Day weekend and I have to get ready for the fantasy draft. Four packs of teenie weenies in crescent rolls don’t just make themselves you know.

Now that I’m retired I can clean out the basement. Sure I can.

I need to clean out my car. Then Chester will get in and it will be covered in dog hair again, so I’ll just wait until someone is going to ride in it. That is more efficient.

My coworkers know me well, and I got a couple Starbucks gift cards. I can buzz up real good before retrieving the four year old grandson from preschool. That’s something I can accomplish…maybe if I use the cards together I will be energetic enough to hit the basement too. Then again maybe not.

One of my coworkers gave me a gift wrapped in comics from the newspaper. When I was young I used to love reading the paper every morning. In Toledo we had two; the Times in the AM and The Blade in the PM. Remember, we didn’t have internet or even all day news on television. So we used the newspaper for news (gasp!). But I always followed Mary Worth and Peanuts, and later enjoyed Funky Winkerbean and Sally Forth. Maybe I’ll subscribe to the Plain Dealer and read the paper on the deck. Now that is a good use of time! And something I can accomplish.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about…

Chester believes that my being home means more attention and walks for him. I was actually more inspired for this blog when we walked in the morning. When we walk in the afternoon, Instead of thinking of random thoughts great and small I’m consumed with worry that I’m going to melt into the ground, Chester will burn his feet (I make him walk on the grass), or we will be washed away in sweat. Following afternoon walks we walk in the house and he lies down in front of the air conditioner vent on the tile. I go into the family room, turn the overhead fan on and stand there for about 10 minutes. Then we feel human again.

I guess I have some thinking to do. I have ideas but maybe I need to decompress a little first. As for today, the thank you notes await. I will miss my coworkers and my job. I hope to keep in touch, but it’s hard. Still, every chapter requires transition. I’m going to have a second cup of coffee and write my thank yous. I will try to write more often after cleaning the cat snot off the walls.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture I posted on Facebook of Chester watching t.v. My brother expects him to watch educational tv to enrich his mind. I said he prefers Scooby Doo. Doesn’t he look worried? I sure hope those meddling kids get away from the mean farmer with the axe! It’s OK, Chester, Scooby will save the day!

Scooby Dooby Doo!

Also, August 16th was Chester’s third “Gotcha Day.” We gave him chop suey and a shrimp. Usually we make a puppy burger but it didn’t work out that day. It’s difficult to put three candles in chop suey. After three years, he is definitely a loved part of the family. He has his quirks but he is sweet, funny, and such a  good boy! Happy Gotcha Day buddy!

Chester’s Gotcha Day meal

I have two pictures, the first taken when we adopted him, the second taken about a week ago. A little more belly, but not as bad as I feared! I guess he wears off the pounds chasing the same darn squirrel!!

Chester then…
Chester now…still hasn’t caught the squirrel!

The Pitcher Purge…

Scene 1: There is a big lamp box full of old photos and programs from at least 10 years in the bedroom closet of the elderly youthful appearing couple. There is a multitude of photos crammed onto the bookshelf with 10-12 photo albums. The dust has settled on the albums.

Scene 2: The couple’s son and daughter in law give the old lovely young lady cute polka dot boxes to sort photos (circa early 2000 maybe). She uses one, but has a few more.

Scene 3: The second son makes an offhand comment that “the only pictures I have are on my phone.”

It’s a perfect storm! Something must be done! Opening now at the Cleveland Playhouse, “The Pitcher Purge.” Will the couple escape from the clutter that surrounds them? Will the woman make it out of the purge with her mind intact? Come and see!

Finale: The woman fills 3 or 4 photo albums per child. She divides the pictures in the box into the boxes, buys photo albums, makes copies of the pictures (yes, she makes copies of photos she is trying to get rid of…hush)  and agonizes over what year that school photo was from. Finally, all that’s left is the debris and yet more pictures to go through for the couple’s photo albums. (The Pitcher Purge part II coming soon!)

When I was young I had a Brownie camera. I held it with a strap around my neck and looked down through the viewfinder. Of course it took film, and I had to rewind it. Remember putting the film in and lining up the notches? Then hoping it didn’t come off before you got a couple good winds in? Over the years I graduated to other more modern cameras culminating in a nice Pentax. We had the Polaroid instant cameras too, remember “shake it like a polaroid picture?” You would literally shake it to have it come to life. I’m not sure it sped it up, but it was fun and everybody did it! It was magic!

Then technology blew up. It started with the “disposable” cameras you’d drop into the Revco photo box and get them back in a week. Brides would put one on each table so the guests could take pictures of each other dancing hilariously and raising shot glasses. When the wedding was over each camera would contain 12 or 24 of the most precious moments from the wedding. (See uncle Al? Yes that was when he puked on the dance floor! Oh and there’s Aunt Betsy with her wardrobe malfunction!)

We had small cameras, which were better for vacations. It was a long time before our cell phones had cameras. Shoot, it was a long time before we had cell phones. For awhile they were just…(gasp) PHONES!! Now they are better than most “real” cameras. But they will be old news soon too I expect.

What did we take photos of?  You’d be surprised.

There were many, many, many fish pictures. I mean fish that we caught. Most were in Arnstein Ontario. There isn’t that much to do in Arnstein except relax, swim in the lake, read books and fish. We had to–just HAD TO take a picture of Every. Single. Fish. Yes, large and small. Of course if you hold the fish closer to the camera it looks bigger. Remember that trick. Don’t let the photographer get your hand or it looks like you have a giant hand. If it wasn’t a fish picture it was a photo of someone hiking in 90 degree heat and looking absolutely miserable. Usually those were what I took of my sister. She hated that.

she wasn’t holding it close, this really was a big fish
unlike this one…

I have a whole album dedicated to “out west”. The family van trip “out west” is a verified staple in Ohio families. We did it as kids with my parents, and then as adults with our kids. Different perspective but some things never change. Like the kids irritating each other in the back seat. The difference is we were in the VW van so we could lie down. They had to sit and glare at each other. I took an awful lot of pictures at Prairie Dog Town close to the Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, and the Corn Palace. We didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon or I would have had to get another album I’m sure. Next time.

We didn’t mean to match, it just happened.

There was The Land of Little Ponies. (not out west but still photographed to satisfaction) There was Washington DC, San Francisco, Alcatraz, San Jose with the Winchester Mystery House, and Kentucky. Then there were the local attractions. The Lake County Fair for example. It has the same attractions, yet I had to take a photo each year. Every time our daughter rode the ponies at the fair there was a picture taken. Those ponies must get sick of the paparazzi.

Then there are grandkids…need I say more??

don’t ask…

I think I took so many because I thought I could hang on to that instant with a photo. If I had it in a picture, it would stay forever. I thought that I needed to record the best times of my life so I didn’t forget. In some ways I was right, the photos do spur memories, but in some ways the project made me sad. I began to feel an overwhelming wish to go back and do it again. I love the idea of reincarnation because one life just isn’t long enough. But…I’d probably come back as a slug or something and that would not be fun. Well, actually I don’t know if slugs have fun, maybe they do. They make little slug slime pictures on the rocks and leaves and have an art show. Don’t scoff, you don’t know. Unless you were a slug in a previous life, you can’t throw slime.

I don’t take as many pictures as I used to but it’s not for lack of trying. Usually I just forget to take them or I don’t have my phone. Like this very minute—there is a Monarch butterfly that landed right next to me and I don’t have my phone. I came outside to type. I’m not a great photographer. I cut off heads and have a few with my thumb as the star. When my time is up, I hope that’s not what people will see (well they won’t see the heads because they are cut off, right??) I hope they see joy. I am so grateful for the joy.

So after thinking about what my daughter’s middle school teacher called “pitchers” (it annoyed the middle schoolers to no end, the teacher probably did it on purpose which is what I do now because annoying people is what I do best..) I decided to include a few I took over the last weeks.

Chester’s nasty bone
Son and daughter at Bryant Park Manhattan
Chester was so hot after his walk he commandeered the air conditioning vent.
for good luck:)