Friday, June 29, 2012

Our backyard sanctuary

Looking through our backyard arbor into the greenback beyond...
We don't go back there much anymore.  We did once when we first moved here and the kids were young.  We spent a lot of time down on the lower patio by the creek, lying in the hammock, talking,  and drinking wine.  But now it's pretty overgrown, and English Ivy covers everything (which is pretty, but can also hide copperheads and water moccasins).  The feral cats, raccoons, possums, and box turtles love it!  I keep thinking that one day we will reclaim the yard... but so far, we haven't.  (Another big problem that keeps us from enjoying the area is West Nile Virus, which is prevalent here in Texas.)

One of the box turtles that live in our yard.  He comes up to eat the catfood and figs

This pic is of one of our Mama coons and her 5 kits having supper

We do enjoy watching the wildlife. Like our cats, they make us laugh... and sometimes cry.  But we do what we can for them and look upon it as a way to 'give back'.  But I do worry that one day as we get further into our retirement years, we won't be able to maintain them.  And I do believe that if you can't 'maintain' an animal (give it the food, shelter, and health care it needs), then you shouldn't have it.  I read the question on another's blog once (and I think it was meant to be rhetorical), "Is there such a thing as too many cats?" And I have to say, "Yes!"  We now have 6 inside and a host of ferals outside, and for the moment we are able to maintain all of them.  But there will come a time in the future where it may not be possible financially (or even physically as we age). This does worry me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Pie fixes everything" dish towel

I found this dish towel in Fredericksburg, Texas when a friend and I were there visiting a few weeks ago.  Loved it!  Says exactly what my hubby believes.  Out of the blue when we are either sitting around watching TV or doing something around the house... he will say, "I need pie!"  It has become a mantra as has "Have you pilled Jack?" (another story, another time).  Told him that I plan to write these on our tomb stones: "I need pie" on his and "Have you pilled Jack?" on mine.

The tomatoes on the Aga are from my friend's garden.  Tomatoes are apparently doing well this summer. My daughter brought some up from her garden in the hill country and my friend brought these last week from just north of Dallas. Luckily for us, we like tomatoes. I especially like them broiled with a little seasoned breadcrumbs and butter on top. They can't compare to the creole tomatoes grown down in Louisiana, but they'll do.  I did miss those when we first moved to Texas... as well as creole cream cheese, pickled meat, and other delicasies that can't be found here.

We also picked the first figs from one of our trees yesterday. There's a trick to getting any figs from our trees. They produce a lot... but between the birds, squirrels, and box turtles... we have to be quick if we want even a few.  Of course we plant the fig tree for the little beasts, so we really can't complain if they take them all.  Our yard is a certified wildlife sanctuary... and we like it that way.

Hubby just brought me some fresh made sweet tea, so I've got to go for today.  I like my new made tea warm and fresh from the brew. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday mornings


Sunday morning here.  I really like Sunday mornings... not sure why. It could be that it's the one morning in the week that I don't have to do anything.  You would think that now that we're retired every morning would be like that, wouldn't you? But even though 'the job' is no longer looming,  there are things that still need doing, errands to run, projects to get done, etc.  And since we're both 'morning people', we tend to try to get it done early... leaving the afternoon for that 'coverted nap' or possibly just sitting with a book and a cup of hot tea. It's taken me 66 years to have the time and freedom to do this and I'll defend my right to do this to the death (physically and literally). Weird, huh? I wonder if others feel this way?  Or is it just me?

Some Sunday mornings we go for breakfast, but since we were out with friends last night, we won't do this today. Meeting old friends that one hasn't seen in a while is always fun.  It's odd, we've all grown older and a little grayer but things fall in place like they always did, and it's like no time has passed at all. Magic.

BTW, I do believe in magic.  It's one of those things that make me me.  And even though I can't explain it,  I know it exists (or maybe I should say that it exists if you choose to believe). People get so caught up with semantics.  For me it's that feeling you get when you were a child on Christmas Eve (you could feel the magic in the air), or when you saw your baby smile for the first time...    it's those moments where the universe shifts... and nothing is ever the same again. 

Well, this can't be long today as I need to do some cooking a little later. We're grilling tonight and I promised to make some bread pudding with whiskey sauce for dessert.

Cats helping me get things together

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Critter comforts

One of our coons at the back french door...

Ok, I admit it. We feed the coons... and the possums, and the box turtles (and an occasional bobcat or coyote... but the rebuilt fence has stopped the coyotes.  Besides, they were a threat to the other critters.) How can we not?  We put food outside for the birds and the feral cats.  Are we supposed to say, "No raccoons allowed!"  I know the reasons. But I'm sorry, if they are hungry, we're going to feed them.  And it's over 100 degrees here in Texas in the summer.  We provide water year-round... especially when the creek dries up... or freezes over (which generally doesn't happen)

This picture is one of our regulars who comes to the kitchen door awaiting a hand-out. And no, we don't get that close... or try not to. They do bring their young in the morning and evening to eat and hang out by the water tubs. Their antics provide us and our kids and grand kids with endless entertainment. 

However, this particular site is supposed to be about our recent retirement... but these critters have been part of our pre-and post retirement life, so I can't not bring them up occasionally. I could do a blog just about our cats and critters, but I have too many websites and blogs out there already.  Getting too old to multi-task so I need to combine them all here.  Besides, my old site called "Cats, Coffee, and Chocolate" (my vices - such as they are) was basically about that.  All the old pictures and info about our cats was and still is there.  You only have to click on the navigation line to see pictures and read some of the stories of our cats. But I degress.

And I haven't anything much to add today anyway.  We are meeting some old friends this weekend. It will be wonderful to see them as we haven't got together in over a year. Now that we're all retired you'd think we could structure our time better... 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer solstice 2012

7 cats on the bed

Today is the longest day of the year... the summer solstice.  I've had days that I considered the longest day of the year. They weren't physically the longest, but sure felt that way. But I won't go there.  I choose not to go there.  I learned a long time ago that I could choose. 

I'm a big believer in free will and choice.  I realize that we can't always determine what happens in our lives (stuff happens!)  But we can choose how we handle it... and this is what makes us who we are.

And I'm not saying that we always choose well because we don't (we are human - some more so than others).  But being aware that you have a choice and being accountable is important.

Don't know how all that came from the summer solstice, but my mind is a mystery.  Now back to retirement issues.  A day or so ago I mentioned 'routines'.  We do each have our own, but some co-habitate (is that actually a word and does it fit here? - doesn't matter).  We do both get up around 7:15 am.  It used to be 5 am when I was working at the bookstore, but we're morning people, so it didn't bother us. Now it is nice to be able to stay in bed until the sun is up.  

2 of our 6 cats sleep in the bedroom with us, so they are generally waiting by the bedroom door to join the other 4 (who are lying about in the hall with their paws sticking under the door). Use to be that they all slept in the bedroom with us, but that's another story for another day. 

BTW, the red tabby in the above picture was 19 years old and passed away last January.  His name was Thibbadeaux.

Our routines combine for the first few hours as hubby takes care of the cats needs and I put on the coffee and start breakfast. After that we're each off to do our own thing. Mine generally means heading off to the pottery studio to work on the wheel, his varies from working in the yard to building his giant model ships, etc.

By afternoon I'm back and after eating a small late lunch, usually do a few house-hold chores and then take a nap.  We both get together for coffee and a snack around 4, then there's supper to start...  Of course there are days when other things come u[; kids, grandkids,  friends, neighbors, doctor visits, shopping, lunch with friends, etc.  But for the most part our routines are set. 

We both can cook... so that's a plus.  I generally do it because I enjoy it, but on occasion hubby will fix one of his 'specialties'.  He makes wonderful red beans and rice! If I haven't mentioned it, we're originally from New Orleans and yes, we still miss the food.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wearing purple?


This is the famous "When I am old, I shall wear purple" poem.  But unfortunately, I still don't care for the color.  It has always reminded me of royalty, church officials, and Marti Gras...


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

However,  the gist of the poem I do like: When I get old, I shall do what I like.
It's taken over 60 years to get to this point, I dare say it's time to enjoy that freedom.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No spring chicken...

Just came back from the doctor's.  Have been a bit dizzy and light headed the last few days and BP was low (100/50), so hubby (and others) thought I should make our family physician aware.  So I did. They didn't find anything. Took bloodwork (again! that's 3 weeks in a row now... but different doctors) and did an EKG. Actually they took 2 EKG's, one messed up (might show an enlarged atrium?), but the second was normal. So we're going to just wait and see...  (which is what I would have done anyway).

My BP isn't so low today... and I'm no longer feeling dizzy.  So, maybe I'm on the mend.  Or as I actually believe - it's just old age reminding me that I'm no spring chicken.  Whatever....

This site is basically about life after retirement, but I find it necessary to mention our cats to any readers that didn't follow my "Cats, Coffee, and Chocolate" website.  Their stories and pictures can be found there. They too play a big part in our retirement since taking care of 6 inside cats and a host of neighborhood ferals (and their offspring), use up a lot of our time.  I should say here that I was once a part of the Veterinary Medical field and hubby and I consider it our contribution to belong to the "catch and release" program.  Thus any animal that wonders into our yard (which is fenced and runs down to a creek) can find sanctuary, food, and water there. And if we can catch them, we will vaccinate, spay or neuter, and release.  However, some are not going to be caught.  That's OK.  We do what we can.

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Title for old site...

It is Monday, June 18, 2012.  Having just googled my old post to see what came up... I decided that the title "For Better or For Worse, but not for lunch" was apparently too popular.  So I've now changed it to "Older but better...?"  But you can find my older posts there.  I probably should have googled this title also before starting to write, but as the saying goes, "coulda, shoulda, woulda.... didn't".

This was me in school around 1954 or 55.  Life was simple then.  It gradually got more complicated... and less simple.  But it was always good.  Don't mean to imply that things were always wine and roses, but my philosophy then (even if I hadn't formulated it into words) was "what is... is, and I can handle it". And that philosophy continues to work for me today at the grand old age of approaching 67.

I have blogged or had a website for many many years.  Previous to this I journaled by hand, but when online journaling became popular (maybe 12 or more years ago), I went with it.  Sometimes I regret it as many of my websites disappeared over the years, some can still be brought up, and there are quite a few out there... the most recent having been Cats, Coffee, and Chocolate.  But this particular site was to be devoted to the new experience and adventure into retirement.  Hubby retired the summer of 2009 and took to it more readily than I had expected. Having retired from my career field back in 1991, I've only worked part time in recent years; however arriving at full retirement age was something I both anticipated and feared.

So many unknowns.  Would we have enough money to live on?  Would we miss the routine we had established over the years?  Would we miss our working family and friends?  Would we get bored?  Would we like being home together 24/7?  Etc. Etc. Etc.   And then there's Social Security, and Medicare, and Supplements....

Anyway, if you want to read the first posts during these awkward months, you will have to go back to "For Better or for Worse" and "Cats, Coffee, and Chocolate".  As now it is almost the first anniversary of both of us being home and retired.  August 12, 2011 was my last day at the bookstore... which is where I spent the last 5 years of mornings. Loved it!  Love books, love people who love books, write books, read books, etc.  So it was a good match.  But have to say this also.... I love being retired!

It has worked out well.  We both have our own routines.  Love being able to do what I want when I want...  (limited some by budget of course, but not by time).  Will go into more of this tomorrow.  Have to close for today.