Friday, May 30, 2008

No Hippie

I got my graduate degree from the University of Hawaii in the late 60's just as the Hippie culture was getting established. While the drug scene was delayed in spreading its mellow yellow across the Pacific Islands, it had arrived in full force by the time I was there. You may have read my Mary Jane story. If not go here and I will wait.

I have always used the excuse that I was too poor and too serious about my education degree to get caught up in even the milder illegal drug scene as a young adult. That reason is probably an artificial excuse. I never would have been a good hippie. The young man with the long flying blonde pageboy and flute in hand who asked me if I wanted to live in his cave up Manoa Valley when I was crossing campus one day got only a smile from me and not even a second thought. I guess I was born older than my age. I could see ten years down the road to the future after that cave of free smokin-free sex- good times. I was like an old adult already in my mind. I am sure that I was clearly no real fun at parties even though legal alcohol flowed freely.

I have revisited this part of my personality upon retirement. Today I washed 21 double hung, casement or french door windows. Yes, 21!! My hubby came back to the house for some business and yard work and I decided that this day had to be filled with some accomplishment on my part. I even vacuumed the layer of pollen from all the screens. I can see the green mansions clearly now.

I took a warm jacuzzi to ease the aches and pains from this labor and then put on my soft white robe and sprawled across my bed with a good book. I am such a Puritanical spirit that I cannot just enjoy such an activity without it being a reward for some work well done. I am the kind of free spirit hippie that Gandhi was. I understand his approach to life. I never felt in sync with Jack Kerouac or Jerry Garcia. The 60's were clearly wasted on me.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Thoughts of appreciation to those who have given their lives for freedoms too precious to define on this Memorial Day.

I am alone today as my husband has always had the unique ability to schedule business trips over three day weekends--this really means much less now that we are both 'retired.' My daughter is with friends and her family in New York. My son ... my son...what he is doing today is anyone's guess.

Yet all is well with my small soul as I got up early (5:00 a.m.) and started cooking at 6:00 a.m. I am spending next week with my daughter due to a number of social activities as well as getting hubby at the airport near her house. Therefore, at 8:01 I have completed a Tuna Noodle Nicoise Casserole, a Turkey Cheese Enchilada Casserole and 23 Devils Food cupcakes. I still have to make a fresh strawberry pie. I NEVER go empty handed to the house of a woman with small children. One MUST bring food. I can hear the envious sighs from across the blogosphere.

The Devils Food cupcakes are supposed to be one of those super healthy small (13 oz) can of pumpkin filling and one devil's food cake mix. That is all that goes into this recipe! Mix and bake as directed on the box. I have never tried this recipe. The batter was sort of fudgy rather than battery, but seemed to taste OK. We will see how these low calorie snacks turn out. I did not think I would finish the casseroles so early, so now I have the rest of the day to get the potted plants ready for being ignored for the next 6 days.

I also made a banana cream pie...not my favorite but a great way to use the extra pie crust and leftover bananas.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life Story #14--Someone Else's Life

I may do windows, but I don't do lawns. For some exotic reason I have avoided mowing lawns my entire married life. We have had both sit-down and push mowers in our house-owning life, and yet, while I do not mow the lawn, I will do with enjoyment the edging with the weed-eater. The grooming of the vast lawns we have owned in our married life has been left to hubby. I think it is because I do not like engines and all the idiosyncratic illnesses that they get. Hubby is now overseas for a while and the lawn has enjoyed the cool spring and weekly soaking rains and soon was lush and thick and needed a mowing.

I called the young man in the middle of the photo above about mowing the lawn, since he is one of the few people I know in this area. We met him while getting the house built. He and his two young friends in the background of the photo helped our builder put in the retaining wall. He is out of high school and I have no idea what his plans are for the future. He does not have the motivation, the learning or the money for college. He seems to be following in the footsteps of his mentor in the foreground of this photo to work in the building industry.

He is a quiet, shy and handsome young man that brings out the mother in me in an instant. When he had finshed our huge lawn with the push mower, I paid him probably double what a lawn mower gets in this area, certainly out of guilt for his circumstances. I gave him a large box of warm strawberries I had just picked, and with a surprised pleasure, he sat on the bench under the front porch eating them and drinking the water I gave him while waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up. He enjoyed the strawberries more than any young person I had ever seen. My children like strawberries, but don't really enjoy them with the enthusiasm this fellow had. I hadn't washed them and told him that even though they were organic, they probably had some dirt on them. This did not defeat his pleasure in any way.

Now for the rest of the story. Shortly after that picture above was taken, this young man along with the two boys in the photo and another boy not shown, were involved in a tragic car accident. There had been alcohol and teenage carelessness in the mix. Fortunately, no other car was involved. Among the four young men in this accident one died, one is now a paraplegic and one is in jail for drunken driving. This young man who mows my lawn escaped with his life 'intact' but forever changed and is now slowly piecing his spirit together.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


My husband left just before this my back hurts and my feet are wet from picking these out in the rain this morning. I have to pull some cookbooks I guess! I need a large family. I feel guilt at this abundance after watching the tragic news these past few days.

Breakfast---using the leftovers

We have been blessed this year with quarts and quarts of strawberries. I dread facing the garden after the rain today to pick even more! I have not picked since Saturday morning due to weather and being very busy. Anyway, after eating all the strawberry shortcakes and the strawberries and vanilla ice cream, we made strawberry syrup the other day. Too much of a good thing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hello or Goodbye ?

Just said goodbye to some distant relatives after a three-day visit. I had not seen them in years. I am listening to my newly quiet house with the dishes all done and the beds all re-made and pondering which I like better...their coming or going? It is not a trick question, I really don't know!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Post Script

I certainly started an interesting discussion on the blog entry below and I guess in the back of my mind thought I might do that and almost did not make this entry. Had this child been older and recognizable, I would not have posted this photo. But she will look very different in a few months. I think this Western society can no longer see sexuality as basic biology that is important to our survival as a species.

We all have masculine and feminine attributes from birth that are important and make us who we are. I do not feel these in and of themselves are bad or should be ignored. They make us the unique adults that we become. Some of us will have real struggles with these traits in a society that so objectifies everyone. I do agree that focusing on these attributes and ignoring a child's intelligence, personality, and health while raising the child is not a good thing. But I do think this is a LARGE leap to say we are 'objectifying' a child while recognizing their femininity or masculinity.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Seeing into the Future

As I photographed this baby-beauty a few weeks ago, I captured this moment in time. Tell me if you cannot see the sultry and sexual beauty she will become someday. She will break a few hearts and I can only hope her heart will not be broken too often.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Every Day IS Saturday

One of the jokes and truths about retirement is that you lose track of the days of the week and the months of the year. If one does not have a mandated schedule, everyday becomes a Saturday with chores and errands, but nothing really essential to complete. Since my retirement I have started another list. It is a learning list --- things I have learned from recent observations since my retirement.

1. Every day IS Saturday. There is just no pressure to get everything done before dinner, because tomorrow is, after all, Saturday!

2. Some of the working friends and family are jealous, so you have to be very low key about your new life. The more mature former working mates are more than happy to smile at your pleasure. And, of course, the really young are so happy that they are not old like you even though you do not have to work
and they do. They would not trade places with you for a second.

3. Some days it does feel like you are free-falling. Free-falling is both exciting and you don't think to much about the end of the fall.

4. Yes, you do realize that the ultimate change ahead is death. And yes, you do think about it. But not often or with too much trepidation.
After all, today is just Saturday.

5. On day 5 of my retirement I actually felt a teeny, tiny bit of trepidation about not having anything important to do...while gazing at the creeping phlox beneath my oak tree that feeling soon passed.

6. I spend more time observing since I don't have to be thinking about managing my time. Remember all those old people you see sitting at the mall or park who steadily watch the busy people hurrying by? I am now one of those old people.

7. Sitting at an Austin Grill eating a pre-midnight dessert on Friday evening I was watching dozen of couples of all ages 'dating.' Lots of eye contact and lots of joking and some flirting even among the 50-somethings. The place was full and busy and I found it hard to realize we are in a recession.
Clearly this recession has not hit the restaurant trade in this area. I have several months yet to see how my retirement budget is going to work.

8. Sitting in the Pannera on Saturday morning savoring my coffee latte I watched a group of attractive women in their late twenties gathering at a table for some meeting. Some knew each other and some didn't, and watching the body language and the banter was interesting and reminiscent of another time in my life. Most of my observations now bring back such memor

9. My daughter's retirement gift to me is several hours with a fashion consultant. Close your mouth and stiffle that laugh. Yes, I love her to death and I have learned in my many years of gift recieving, that gifts you get from others that seem odd are actually gifts the giver would like for themselves. This woman will visit my closet and tell me what works (perhaps that black tank dress) and what doesn't (certainly that navy blue flower bordered mini I bought in Hawaii ten years ago) and then we will go shopping together so that I can buy pajamas, perhaps, bec
ause I think she will frown on those elastic band sweat pants I have had my eye on.

10. I have finished two books already. House Lust, which is certainly a thoughtful look at our real estate addiction in light of this mortgage crisis and Eat, Pray, Love which is was a quick and fun read about a tremendously insecure woman who seems to find her place in this world. I am now reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Into a Desert Place by Graham Machintosh. With my eclectic tastes in reading material, I will have thousands of books to read in my retirement.
11. Industrious things besides reading include washing the four rattan chairs and table that were stored in the garage, laundering their cushions, mopping the tile floor of the newly finished basement, and dusting everything in the basement including the elliptical glider which I have not returned to using as I promised...using energy to clean the damn thing, but not exercising on it, that says a lot about me doesn't it?

12. I have always loved the end of the day after work, anticipating the slow exhale as the sun heads toward the horizon. Now the late afternoon arrives with so much more peaceful acceptance on my part. Yes, the melancholy of goodbye to another day is still there, but the anxiousness about stuff undone for tomorrow is no longer eating at the edges of my mind.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

And Thus Retirement Begins

I certainly thought that I would have more time and more motivation to blog after retirement. But that is certainly not the case. Blogging becomes one of the "I'll-get-to-it-later' activities.

Spring is planting time and I have spent a good part of my days starting the container plants on my deck. Since I am being lazy this year, they are all from purchased plants. In the future, I anticipate being more frugal and starting from seeds. I am an addict when entering the garden/landscape stores. It is as if I have been given a shot of some drug that suspends time and makes me need to see every planting table, pot and greenhouse section of the store at least three times. I wander and dream among all the treasures for sale . The trees are particularly enticing. Finances and deer that eat everything I plant are putting a healthy break on the purchases. Hubby and I have to figure out a fence system or see if the deer are being more tentative now that we are here full time.

Frugal YET!..we buy a water fountain that is so heavy it took four men to lift it into my husband's tiny trailer. There it sits until we figure out where in the back yard under the deck we want to put it. There it sits until we figure out how in the hell we are going to move it ourselves! It was 50% off since it was last year's fountain design. My mind boggles at the thought that even fountains have styles that come and go. The intricate pattern which may be over the top for some folks, reminded me of my days in Indonesia and the temples overgrown with jungle vines that we visited.

I also bought a number of herbs --- rosemary, sage, various patio tomato to compete with those hubby has in his garden

We also bought a calmondin orange tree. We had one of these many years ago in our other house. It produced wonderful flowers in February which filled the house with fragrance like the breath of an early spring. Then I harvested hundreds of tiny lemon-like oranges for drinks, baking, etc. The tree got to be about 6 feet tall and I had to give it away when we moved. Now I have a new one foot tall tree with blossoms on my deck waiting to re-establish the pattern.

I also bought a Kafir lime tree. I spend too much of my time hitting oriental markets looking for Kafir limes for my cooking. They are a rare and delicious treasure. And now I have a three foot tree filled with blossoms on my deck that has just been re-potted. Both trees will have to be moved inside next to the south facing window and pruned judiciously each year and re-potted every few years. AND moved back out onto the deck every spring. But, the rewards will be well worth the work involved. Thus the addiction begins once again.

(I will post pics on my other blog.)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Being Dishonest with Yourself

Onward and Upward

For a number of months, if not a number of years, I have imagined my first day of retirement. I kept thinking that the very first thing I would do would be pretty much nothing for a long time. Remember the movie (and book) The Da Vinci Code? The first victim uses the symbol of Vitruvian Man as his clue upon his death. I have always been intrigued by that image created by "
the Roman architect Vitruvius. Vitruvius, a proponent of the Sacred Geometry of Pythagoras, designed temples based on the proportions of the human body, believing them to be perfect." It seems to represent Mankind's way of trying to merge with the 'imperfect' biology of the planet. In some way, that has been my nemesis...always trying to get to that level of perfection that brings peace. This is why I need to work on meditation, exercise, that I find the inner perfection that is the only real perfection.

For some reason that symbol has floated in my mind for years --- this was one of the images NASA sent into outer space to identify mankind to the aliens. It is a mathematical representation of mankind, but to me it represents the essence of the human being with that full frontal, open armed 'take me as I am' stance.

I kept thinking I would like to take a bare space on the floor of my house the very first morning and actually lay down stark naked in exactly that position with a sort of yoga attitude and "reach" for my potential once I had acquired my 'retirement freedom.' I imagined this numerous times...but, I didn't do it. Maybe because I had done it in my mind so many times. I don't know.

I do know, that once you have free direction and lots of free time, you are who you are and will end up doing what your true self tells you to do. I am a busy bee. I can only be happy when surrounded by organization. The first day I was on my feet all day getting my closet in order. I had brought down the winter clothes last month and they remained hung or piled in arbitrary fashion. I separated clothes to be pressed from those to be mended. I found that shoes were everywhere and I threw many out. My plastic bags of shampoos, creams, etc. that I had stored at my daughters house added to the large collection of stuff I had already put in various containers here at the house. Living in two places means you forget what you have and end up with too much stuff everywhere. I cleaned out the medicine drawers and threw away hundreds of dollars of expired concoctions and remedies.

At the end of this long day of lifting and sorting, I 'rewarded' myself by cleaning all of my jewelry. I have a small collection of silver necklaces and earrings that have not been polished in ages. I washed the pearls and other natural stones. I sorted out the amber. I do not own any valuable jewelry---diamonds, rubies, gold, etc...but have a number of pieces acquired over the years of natural stones as reminders of trips, etc. I took a trip down memory lane with each of the pieces.

Then I started the first of the laundry loads. As the end of a beautiful spring day eased in, I poured a glass of wine and headed out to my lovely deck to look at the water through the 'green mansions.' Hubby and I were amazed at how lucky we are at this time in our life and pray that this luck holds.