Tag Archives: retirement

Over the River, and To the Woods…

Being retired from the traditional workforce affords me a great deal of time to do things I really enjoy.  And busy I do stay!  One of those adventures which I recently undertook was the search for the perfect Christmas Tree.

It sometimes seems to me rather odd that we stick a tree in the middle of our house, but I do understand the history and traditions involved.  Both the long term story, and my own personal history with a Christmas tree.

Because I have the time, I like to be extravagant and drive up to the mountains of North Carolina where I can cut a live tree. That far north I can get a nice spruce or fir.  In my area I’d have to go for a cedar or cypress or even a white pine.  All beautiful in their own way, but not what I’m used to.

Many times I’ve gone to a hardware store or pop-up tree store and picked up a pre cut tree.  But I worry about how long they have been cut and how dry they may already be.  So for the past several years I have gone to Osage Farms to cut a tree.

It’s a mountain, and covered with trees.  Each one is tagged with a colored ribbon to indicate the height and price.  When I pulled up at the place this year the man working there asked me how big a tree I was looking for.  When I told him I just needed a little one, eight feet, he said that I’d have to drive down the road to where they had another mountain full of smaller trees. This hill was for the big ones.

Normally when I go to this place it’s packed with families trudging up and down the hills looking for their perfect tree.  This year I was able to go in the middle of the week, and was thus all alone on the mountain.  I drove down the road and found what I thought was the right section of the mountain for my size tree.  Orange tags for eight footers.  Yellow for five.  I needed one for my daughter too, and the yellow tag would be good for her house.

It was a beautiful day.  Cool, as winter in the mountains should be, but not cold. And of course sunny.  All I needed was some snow and I could have taken a million dollar Christmas card photo.

Lots of trees to chose from .  I enjoy climbing around on the hillside and examining each and every tree.  Is the trunk straight?  Any big holes in the branches?  Tall enough? Not too wide.  In her bounty, Nature creates many such trees.  And it’s always hard to choose what I think will be the perfect one.

But I do choose.  And this year I didn’t have to go too far up the hill to do it.  The first yellow tagged tree that I saw was the one I ended up with .  About five feet tall.  Very straight with no holes.  Of course I scouted out a number of others, but this was the one.  The orange tagged tree needed a little more of a search, but after looking at six or seven trees I found the one I thought was best.  I marked it so I’d know which one it was when I walked away to look at another.  It’s very easy to find a good one, walk away seeing another, and to never find the first one again.

The man came down from the other mountain, the one with the big trees and I showed him which two I wanted.  He pulled out the chain saw and in a flash both were cut, loaded onto this ATV and on thier way to the checkout table.  That was easy.

I’ve cut the tree myself before.  With a handsaw.  Now that’s some work.  So I let the guy with he chainsaw do it for me.  And I give him a tip for that.

On this tree covered mountain it seems like I’m in the wilderness.  And one year I did see a bear walking across the road.  But it’s only a few miles from the nearby town.  They have a little ski area there and today they have eight inches of real snow covering the mountain.  Glad I went last week.

So, with a perfect tree in my possession, I’m headed home to cover it with lights and decorations.  And that’s another story.

All of which is part of my story.  What’s yours?


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New Truck

It’s a time of transformation. I wrecked my truck and sent it to the repair shop, after having stripped it of everything that made it MY truck. Nothing personal or personalizing left. When it came back to me, it was barely recognizable.

The dents, the blown airbag and the broken bits and pieces had been removed and repaired and replaced. But the shop had given the whole thing a bath. And shined it all up. It looked almost brand new!

So, with a “brand new” truck, what could I do to personalize it? The front license plate had been destroyed. My initials in nautical flags had resided there since the day I got the truck. And on two other vehicles before. What now?

The dashboard had my special GPS system. When I was lost, or unsure of my direction, I would ask a small figurine of a Chinese Wiseman. He would direct me to look into the kaleidoscope for direction. That done, a turtle figure would carry me on it’s back in the right direction. And all the while a glass bluebird of happiness would tag along to make sure everyone was feeling good. I have never not gotten to where I was going.

And hula girl figures adorned the dash and the rear window ledge. They were just for company.

The tailgate had a green peace sign magnet. Now cracked.

And hanging from the rear view mirror was a clear crystal. Powerful. And a dream catcher hung from the hanging hook in the rear of the cab.

It would have been easy to just put it all back like it was. But for some reason I didn’t. Was it a lack of time to do so? Or was there a deeper significance to the hesitation?

As in my life, change happens. And sometimes we have to sit tight and see what is going to happen, and where the new path takes us. That’s where I am in life. Newly retired. Looking into the future that is shorter than the past. What do I still want to accomplish? How do I want to enjoy myself?

I have slowly put a few things back into the truck. Really important things that define me. And identify the truck as mine. The GPS and dream catcher have returned. A new peace symbol is on the bumper. And I’m working on a new front license plate. New design. The rest may just be fluff that’s enjoyed it’s run, but can move on.

New things are coming. Only time will tell what’s next. In wide eyed wonder I look for the blue skies of the coming days.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Thanksgiving Theory

This one is a no brainer. On Thanksgiving we write about the things we are thankful for. And this year I have a long, long list. But I’m not gonna go into all of that for you, dear reader, because that’s not what you came here to read. Instead, I’ll just hit a few highlights, and a few concepts on things I’m thankful for.

This year, I’ve come to see things in a new light. I’m thankful for my mediocre health. It’s better than it could be. I’m thankful for being retired. Going out on disability wasn’t how I envisioned it, and I’d rather be working to tell you the truth, but my career has always taken it’s own twists and turns. It’s better than it could be.

I’m always thankful for my family. And how well they are doing. Not as well as some I know, but better than it could be all around. They are happy. And so am I.

I have a new house this year. New to me anyway. And I’m thankful that it is one story, and that I live in the country now. After a long stint in the suburbs, it’s better than it could be.

But mostly I’m thankful for a new way of looking at things. I’ve found a new way of thinking about the way the universe works. You can call it what you want, but it works for me. In this new vision, great spirits and ancestors inhabit the world around me, and if I ask for their wisdom, they will share it. The wisdom of centuries of being.

I don’t ask for money or power or objects. What I am searching for, and asking for help with, is finding my happiness. I’ve opened my ears and my soul to listening for the wisdom that is out there. Wisdom on how to find what makes me happy, to surround my self with people who make me happy, and to know when I’ve found the right path to that happiness. I’ve also asked that I have a kind thought for myself. Forget the negative thoughts of the past and concentrate on the possibilities of the future.

Life is too short to be miserable. I live with physical pain. And I’m still working to shake off many great mental burdens. But I’ve opened myself to hearing new wisdom, and I’m finding that with the right mindset, I hear the voices of the wise. Happy to share.

There is a lot to be thankful for. And with an open heart, I find more and more.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Atlanta Highway Stardom

Athens, Georgia. If you live here you know all about it. History. Fame. Some folks who aren’t from around here might have heard of it too. History. Fame. And if you have never heard of it, you are about to.

I’m not a native but I’ve come to appreciate parts of it. Let’s see. The Arches at the University of Georgia. Tradition. Georgia Bulldog football. National Champions. OK, so that was a long time ago. Some folks think of it like it was yesterday. The double barreled cannon. Civil War oddity that stands as a testament to ingenuity gone wrong. The tree that owns itself. Look it up. And some magazine keeps saying that Athens is a great place to retire. Top ten in the nation.

The University has it’s own draw for academics and cultural activities. And bars. Hundreds of them. And college students. Thousands! Funny how those two things mesh.

But the big deal here is some pseudo-fictional place down the Atlanta Highway – the Love Shack. Sounds like a brothel, and there was a famous one here at one time, but it’s the music scene I’m referring to. Love Shack. B-52s you know. And REM. And a few others you may have heard of. And, and yes, lots and lots of others you haven’t heard of. And probably never will. And I’m sure some that should never have been heard from . Those hundreds of bars have thousands of college students, and graduates, forming hundreds of bands that play in them. Probably thousands. Some weird names. A band might last a day or years. They night change their name, or their members. And their sounds.

Recently I found a great place to explore some of the local musicians. On Thursday nights at The Office Lounge, Reverend Conner Mack Tribble and the Deacons play their own tunes for a while, and then open the floor to anyone who would like to jam with them. Lots of guitarists. Couple of drummers. Keyboards. Even a flute player. Lots of rock and blues. Singers strut their stuff too. You don’t have to be good necessarily, just confident. Everyone gets applauded.

Tuesday night has seen the addition of the good Reverend Tribble’s open mic night at The Foundry. First ten people to sign up get to go on stage, alone, and do their musical thing. The audience votes, by secret ballot, on who should win, and there is a cash prize. You still don’t have to be good. Just confident. But they are good. There is amazing talent hidden everywhere. And more and more jams and open mic nights are popping up to copy Reverend Tribble’s work.

This doesn’t even consider all of the karaoke nights and the people who show up for that. But karaoke is a different story.

Everyone hopes that somewhere down the Atlanta Highway their star will rise. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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