Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Exit Stage…..

I’m down to about 25 work days left before I’m officially retired, and I’m not quite sure what to do.

Most people tell me to wipe my hands clean and walk away, while my coworkers say they want me available to answer questions. I’ve been in my position for 26 years.

But my employer, who asked me to stay an extra year to train my replacements, never hired anyone. So, I’ve been chugging along and leaving as much of a trail of breadcrumbs for people as I can, while still trying to support the chorus as much as possible during a pandemic.

Many hours of my time was spent organizing files and creating a working file structure and now it feels like that’s been a waste of time. Now I’m being told to dump as much as I can into dropbox and they’ll create a new system in Office 365. I don’t begrudge the change in systems, but I do grieve the lost time.

I wanted to leave my job to spend the first year with my grandson and now he’s 13 months and walking. And while I’ve gone as often as I could, my promise to help my employer ended up being a false path. I thought I could leave things in great shape for it to continue. Instead, it’s all going to be a jumble of change (that’s ok) but I’ve given up that time with my grandson.

I also think I’m a bit angry about the deal with the employer. I stayed on the pretense that I would be training someone (actually 2 people because they are splitting my job in two) and that never occurred. I feel a bit used – like a placeholder in an odd year. I’m grateful for the income.

I’m supposed to help them with their upcoming tour; to train the next employees in how to structure a tour. My reward for this would be to go on the tour for free. My guidance isn’t something they are willing to pay me for in cash money and by employer guidelines, I can’t work for them in any capacity for 6 months anyway. Still, I have a nagging feeling that like the first scenario of working to train someone this past year, it may be more of a “get what you can” situation and less of a sharing the brain trust of someone who has led 6 international tours with over 150 people each time.

I want to retain my dignity and not be a doormat while exiting gracefully and without sour grapes. Is this at all possible? If I step away and wish them well, will I be looked at as someone who didn’t uphold my end of the bargain without the hindsight of understanding that they didn’t uphold theirs?

I want to do the best for everyone, though I’m finding I’ve been doing my best for others before I do the best for me. When I do for me, I feel selfish and uncomfortable. How do I find the in-between that feels right?

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Giving Me the Boot

Freshly home from Pittsburgh and visiting #4 and her children. My 5th grandchild’s birthday is next weekend, but since her daddy’s family is coming to celebrate, Hubby and I went up a weekend early to give our gifts and have a few cupcakes. She’s 3 already. I may cry. I love spending time with her and watching her grow and change. She’s a smart girl and sensitive in a good way. She is also independent, which can be a blessing. Quite honestly, I love her fashion style. It reminds me that we should just wear what feels good to us and not what someone says is an acceptable outfit.

Love it.

But on to the boot. I’ve been on-again, off-again in an aircast over the years and this is an on-again situation. Doc said to wear it for three weeks and STAY OFF OF IT (which is a new thing). Then come see him to ascertain whether or not I’d need any other kind of intervention. So, that’s what I’m doing. It’s not like I was going to do much anyway. It’s February and it’s a pandemic.

There are a few other things I’m “giving the boot” as well. Hubby and I started a lifestyle change this year. Cut the sugar out. Of course, he’s dropped weight almost instantaneously, but he says he feels better in other ways as well. We’ve both haven’t kept up with our exercise routines now that we are in the colder months and I’m in a boot, but we’ll get back to walking. We always do.

Time is rapidly passing and before you know it, I’ll be retired in June. So, I guess I’m effectively giving the chorus the boot. It’s been a good run and I’m extremely grateful for all the opportunities and people I’ve interacted with. I’m sure I’ll write more the closer I get to the end in June.

And finally, it seems #1 has decided to give me “the boot”. Last fall, she and I were texting and communicating very well. Within that time, she found out she was expecting (which was amazing since she’d had tubal ligation after the last child) but the universe works in it’s own way and she found she was pregnant by a fellow she’d been dating. She was having a milestone birthday (40!) which was landing on Thanksgiving and I hadn’t seen her in two years, so I told Hubby that I wanted to go visit.

Remember, this was 2020 and the COVID pandemic was still ongoing. Hubby was very hesitant about going anywhere, much less a road trip to Georgia. But since #1 had said she’d love to see us and that she missed us and really wanted us to visit (AND she was turning 40 – which for ME was huge), we made plans to go see her while implementing as many safety precautions as possible for all parties. I rented a beach house with a covered and screened-in porch in case it rained (which it did). And we planned ways that would allow us to visit, but reduce risk as much as possible. Let’s face it, we aren’t spring chickens and she’s told me she’s pregnant at 40, which is already high risk.

So, we packed up and drove down to Georgia and set-up in our cute little house at the beach with the most awesome porches and were looking forward to seeing grandchildren #2 and #4.

Since daughter #1 was working, we took the grandkids (who are both older, 13 and 19) on a trolly tour around Savannah. Learned a bunch and really enjoyed the day with the kids. In fact, we spent most of the week hanging out with the kids and playing games. Totally loved it.

The big day arrived – Thanksgiving and her 40th birthday all in one. She arrived about 4 hours later than she’d originally planned and left after 2 hours, saying she’d be back around 8 pm to spend some time and pick up the kids. I was frustrated by this because our original plans made months ago was to just spend the day together grazing on food and hanging out. She’d mentioned that it had been requested that we go to her new beau’s aunt’s house (who are local) early on, but we said we were there to spend time with her and she’d been thankful to be “off the hook with a good excuse”. Granted, she wasn’t pregnant then and it’s OK, things change. I can deal with that. What did surprise me was that when she said “Bye” that day, that would be the last I’ve heard from her to date.

She’d asked us to come down, saying she realized time was moving along and that we hadn’t seen each other in awhile and she missed us. We heard her, took vacation time off, rented a place, entertained the kids and came to spend time with her. And she dismissed us and still has.

#3, ever the one to speak up, recently talked to her. #1 expressed how jealous she was of her sister (#4 – why did I have SO MANY KIDS) and that she felt isolated.

  1. Her sister asks me to come up and spend time and I do.
  2. She asked me to come down and spend time and I did.

It seems that some of this stems from the fact that we put in safety protocols during her visit and she feels we don’t do the same with her sister.

I’m not sure it registered that both #1 and her beau work outside of the home and her daughter and son were both outside of the home for personal and education reasons. This was part of why we put in place the safety measures we felt comfortable with; to save possibly save our lives and to keep everyone healthy. Yet when we go to #4’s house, we stay in her home and from #1’s perspective, have relaxed rules. I’m not sure it occurs to #1 that her sister, #4, works from home and goes nowhere. Or that we purposefully quarantine ourselves when we know we will visit. Or that #4’s husband owns his own shop and thus has put in place safety protocols that he has sole control over to keep him safe at work. And maybe #1 doesn’t understand that we haven’t interacted with #4’s extended family (which is something to be said for a big Italian family) simply because none of us feel comfortable interacting with many people.

Maybe she would have if she’d asked. Or talked to us about anything. But instead, she’s just not communicated with us. And since she’s all wrapped up in being hurt, done wrong and being the victim, she’s not seeing the hurt she’s inflicting to herself and on people who keep trying to be a part of her life, but whom she regularly rejects via the choices she makes and has total control over making.

I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m not going to chase people who show no interest in being part of my world. Not with my children, my relationship or my job. So, maybe that’s why I’m wearing the boot…. the universe is telling me it’s time to stop being stuck. Let it go and give some issues “the boot”.

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Downsizing to a Smaller House

You may recall I wrote a blog called “Downsizing to a Larger House” some years ago. If not, maybe you’ll want to check it out first, before reading this post.

In 2015 or so, I started thinking about moving again. Within the same year as we purchased the big house to host family and friends and grandchildren, everyone moved away. My kids, my best friend and our “couple” friends. Poof! All gone. And there we were with this awesome house (which I still dearly love and sometimes wish I still owned) but there wasn’t anyone to share it with.

The big house was a 7-10 year plan, with the thought of growing its equity and then selling it and hopefully having a bigger down payment for the next home in a place where we’d finally be around family.

We were at a fine cusp of time where we weren’t staring at retirement, but we would be wise to position ourselves to move with that goal in mind. I wanted to be closer to our youngest child, who was talking about starting a family.

Since my entire life has been about children and I’d been unable to be around the other 4 grandchildren, I was really excited about moving closer and being part of the new grandchildren’s lives. It is, after all, the further step in my preferred career. I’d always said I wanted to be a wife, a mother and a grandma. I’d been the wife and the mom…. but being the quintessential grandma had eluded me.

We sold the big house and made a little. Settled our debts so we could be free an clear and found a place that rented to people with animals, although for more than most of the surrounding units. The thought being that if we were debt free and unencumbered by anything here, it would be fairly easy to move and possibly take jobs that paid less, but had room to grow into. Since the cost of living was a bit less in PA and PA is favorable to retirement funds… it made perfect sense. At least to me.

This is where we hit a snag. Hubby has a job he likes and wasn’t really looking for a job elsewhere. Oddly he was willing to look at purchasing a home in PA, but not really looking for a job, which would mean he would be homeless in MD. I couldn’t understand how he expected that to work.

We took our down payment for our ‘forever’ home and put it into a townhouse in the same community we rented in which decreased our payments quite a bit. Then we renovated – which was kinda frustrating because the requirements from Hubby for a house in PA was NO RENO needed. Sigh…in any case the townhouses in the area are appreciating some, and we’d talked about this maybe eventually being a rental unit, but if I’m being honest, I think it would be better to sell it and put the money down on our forever home… though I see the window for that being monetarily wise narrowing. Unless Hubby finds an awesome job in PA. Which he could.

So time moves on and now we are mid-fifties and while I travel as often as I can to see the two newer grandchildren, I’m feeling the pull more than ever to head north. So much so that I am leaving my job in June and will find one there if need be. I have a place to stay with my daughter, but ultimately would like a place of my own.

I’m in the process of culling belongings down even farther. Funny, when I started out in my first place it was a townhouse and I had very little in the way of possessions. And now, I feel like I’m back to where I started – is that going backward, or is that just full circle? No matter which, it’s humbling and contemplative.

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Oh My Gourds

This October, I seem to have quite a few pumpkin photos.

Earlier in the month we went apple picking with the grandkids…

Then we went to our local farm to check out the corn maze…

And finally, we hired a guest artist to carve our pumpkin this year….

He wanted to create his art in a private place.

And… this was his masterpiece. We call it “Peekaboo”

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

The Mirror

I just read a few of my old posts. Interesting to go back and see what I wrote. Nice reflection on parts of my past.

I don’t know if I’ve written about this, and I doubt that I have, but I have another grandson. He’s just turned 6 months-old. I’m in love…. again. :0)

He’s recently begun sitting up and #4 had him sitting in front of a mirror. Here’s the video she took of him looking at himself:

My baby love, my baby love…

I watched this over and over, delighted by his giggles and his mother’s joy at seeing him so happy. About the 50th time, I had an epiphany.

When was the last time I’d looked in the mirror and had been this happy to see ME?

It’s amazing to me that I couldn’t really remember lookin in the mirror without making some kind of judgement or analyzing some portion of my reflection. Is my skin looking good, does this shirt look good on me, omg… my gut, my butt!! WTF?

How do we go from simply and joyfully looking at ourselves when we are brand new and being so delighted to be here and happy to see the body that contains what is really “us” to the hyper-critical, demoralizing and picky people who find fault and complain about the very vessel that gives us the ability to live? Why is it considered woo-woo if you look at the mirror and tell yourself you love you, but you can watch him lean into the sight of himself and think it’s adorable?

You know what, I don’t even care why or how or what things lead to this kind of behavior. I just want to stop it. It doesn’t feel right to be negative to the body that made my babies, has allowed me to walk miles and see beautiful things, allows me to type my thoughts and feels such pleasure, or yes, even feel pain.

I’ll admit that it’s taking some effort to remember not to grimace when I walk by the glass, but that’s just a habit of thought I can change.

So, hello beautiful!

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Everett and a Techno CD

I played hookey today. Well, not really. I’m taking a legitimate day off, using sick leave, for a mental health day. The weather is glorious and I wanted to be out so I decided to do a few chores. I wanted to take my coupe out for a spin since he’s been sitting unused for at least a month. His name is Everett.

I love Everett. He just feels really good to drive. You basically “put him on” as opposed to sitting in him. When I pushed his button to start, he hesitated like he’d been sad he’d been left alone for so long. I could relate. But, trusty car that he’s always been, he came to life and off we went to the store. We took the long way to get his juices flowing and to be sure he’d start again.

After running my errands, I noticed Ev needed some gas and a bath. When I opened his gas door, it was clear that he’d decorated for Halloween. Thick spider webs had taken up residence by the gas cap. I thought, “Poor Ev.” I paid for the car wash.

Once rinsed clean, I decided we’d go for a spin to dry off. I live in a rural town that’s considered the big city around here, so there’s plenty of farmland around us. Ev and I started driving with no destination. We just took whatever roads seem to feel best; the smaller the better.

Everett didn’t disappoint. He was awake and ready to go. His smooth steering and healthy acceleration took us deep into country roads with a confident glide. We raced through the falling leaves and looked on fields of amber and gold. We found our way past a dome home and sparkling lakes. We rarely saw another car for the hour or more we drove around Maryland and Pennsylvania and when we did, it was usually a massive 70’s car oddly enough. With no one to follow, or following me, we could go at our pace (usually much faster than the posted speed) and make split decisions to pop down the road less traveled, especially if it was squiggly and looked interesting.

Being that Ev is 12 years old, he doesn’t have the most fancy infotainment system, but he does have a CD player and Bose speakers. And I have a favorite techno cd with 57 tracks. Enough for us to enjoy a banking curve to some thumping background.

I finally felt like my old boney self again. I felt free and happy and grateful to be with Everett, wandering wherever the road took us. Reminded me of an Alanis Morrisette song called “Giggling Again For No Reason”, wherein she sings about dipping out and taking a drive just to see the sunset. Instead of a seaside sunset, I was looking at the burgundy, yellow, orange, green, brown and red leaves against the brilliant blue sky and buttery sunshine. Sigh… felt so good.

I’d followed those lovely roads well up into PA and then remembered that one of my chores was to pick up some meat from the store. I had the windows down and the wind blowing through the car, so I knew it wasn’t too hot, but I did have to start looking for roads that led south again. I didn’t want to.

Without the fancy navigation of my new car, Ev and I found our way back to familiar territory and headed home. The closer I got, the sadder I felt. We’d made the decision to sell Everett, since he’s in wonderful shape and has low mileage. The new car I bought is more practical for driving to Pittsburgh and hauling smaller children and “schtuff” around. She’s a great car and is peppy in her own right, but she’s not Everett. She floats a curve while Everett hugs it. She has a bit of wobble while Everett feels glued to the road.

Just like selling the big house because it made sense, I know selling Everett is the logical thing to do. That doesn’t mean my heart is into it. At. All.

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Yeti Sighted at Polar Bear Plunge

On January 25th, my very hairy, sized 14 shoe hubby has decided to do the Maryland Polar Bear Plunge in the Chesapeake Bay.

In a speedo.

To donate, please click this link:

I guess it’s addictive, because he did it in 2019 and he’s decided to do it again. He’ll be plunging into the frigid bay waters to support Maryland Special Olympics athletes and their programs while I am in a nice warm tent selling beer tickets and watching the bands (tough work, but someone has to do it). His goal is to do a repeat of last year and go all the way out to the divers, dunk himself under the water, and come all the way back. This is ambitious as most just run in to their hips or below and come right back out.

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

I’ll take it where I can get it

Hubby and I went for a walk in our new neighborhood this evening. There’s a path not too far from our townhouse (oh, yeah…. we are in a townhouse now… obviously there’s tons to catch up on) and we walk it frequently.

This evening we were walking back when a kid started yelling “DUDE…. hey dude… DUUUUUUDE.” at Hubby. At first Hubby ignored the kid, but then I told him to turn around and march back aggressively to freak the kid out. As soon as Hubby turned around, the kid ran.

A few more steps and the kid again began to yell, “Hey, dude!”

So, this time I whirled around and yelled, “Hey, KID!” Again the kid took off.

I knew he was playing around and I thought it was funny. So, a few more steps and I hear, “Hey girl! Hey! Girl!”

I turned to look at Hubby and said, “I’ll take it!” Hubby looked at me a little oddly and I said, “He didn’t say ‘Hey LADY’, he said ‘Hey Girl’.”

Look, If the kid thinks I look like a girl instead of an old lady, I’m a happy camper and I’ll take the compliments wherever they come from!

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

The Wedding

I know I posted a few photos while we were at the beach in Punta Cana, but I didn’t really let you see the gorgeous photos of the bride, nor did I tell you how everything went, so…

Hubby and I went to Punta Cana a few days ahead of the wedding party. We took this time to relax and get the lay of the land before the wedding.

We stayed at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, which was nice. Far more grand than we are used to, but somehow we were able to adjust.

I fell in love with the Bali Beds. You are off the sand, you have shade, you are served drinks and food and the view is gorgeous. This is something I’d imagined for many years, and I was so wonderful to be experiencing what I’d only imagined previously.

Hubby and I decided we’d like to do an excursion, so we chose the 4×4 off road ride around the island. We were told we needed sunglasses and handkerchiefs because of the dust. We looked like bandits.


The description of the excursion was far more interesting than the actuality of “off roading”. We drove along a few public roads, seeing the living conditions off the resort and fearing for the lives of the small children who would run up to you  for a “high-five”, but who were really hoping for money. They were so young, and ran right up to the buggies. Scary!


When we did get off the regular roads, the dust was as bad as advertised. Even the people along the route with hoses to wet the road and cut down on the dust weren’t having much luck.


It was during one of these dust clouds that the girl behind us couldn’t see we’d stopped and plowed into our buggy. We were ok, just a little shaken, but she’d wrecked her buggy and had to be taken away. We did go to a swimming hole in a cave which was pretty awesome, and a beach where the locals plied their wares and we got some interesting photos.

It was fun, but when we returned, we were a little stiff, so we took advantage of the all inclusive package and applied some alcohol to our tongues to loosen us up.

We had a great time watching #4 getting ready at the spa, trying all the different restaurants (read surviving all the restaurants), sunbathing and generally enjoying life at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, but the big event was the most spectacular.

The sky was blue, the bride was strikingly beautiful and the groom was very handsome.


All in all, we had a lovely time. It was our first experience with a resort setting. While not our normal type of travel, it set us up for some future resort-ish travel. More on that in a later post. ;0)


Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Perfect ? Day at the Cay

Number 3 did a special thing for my birthday this year. I’d told him I wanted us to spend some time at the beach together, just the two of us, but he was to plan it. He took that request and ran with it, calling me to book time-off of work and letting me know that we were set up to go on a 3 day cruise in October. I was floored by his generosity and thoughtfulness and really excited to go away with him for a few days.

During the planning, we’d discussed doing things “that scared us”, just to say we could do them. He was afraid of the giant waterslide/water coaster which twisted and turned and eventually went through some clear tubing off the side of the ship and over the ocean. For me, it was going on a jet ski.

Our day started off overcast and breezy. We’d slept in and were headed out to the cay around noon. The first thing we did was go to the wave runner kiosk and book our time for an hour later. Then we found some chairs and relaxed while the weather grew slightly more ominous. Clouds were getting darker and the wind picked up. Just as we were putting our items in the lockers at the jet ski hut, it started to rain. Not a downpour, but enough that I got soaked trying to get our junk into a working locker.

We entered a room and watched a video explaining how the jet ski worked and what safety precautions and rules we needed to know. Biggest rule… don’t follow too close as a jet ski can take 100 yards to come to a stop. After a Q & A and assignment of line-up numbers (I was #10) we suited up in our life jackets and headed to our machines. We were told to idle out to a buoy and wait for instructions.

Now, I’ve never been on one of these contraptions, and there was one other young lady who hadn’t either. They’d told us the faster you go, the easier it is to control, and then they asked how many wanted to go FAST?! Most people nodded their heads vigorously. I thought, “Ok, I’m game. I got this.”

The leader took off and each person fell in-line after him. The “chaser” spaced each of us 100 yards apart. When it was my turn, she signaled and I squeezed the throttle for the gas and (YIKES) the jet ski lurched forward with FAR MORE power than I’d ever imagined. Clearly, I needed to try and catch up with the rest of the group, but I was so nervous that the more I tensed up with fear, the more I was steering in the exact same pattern the leader had warned us not to do, citing an unfortunate “mess” that had occurred the previous week by someone doing much the same.

The waves were choppy as the wind had picked up some. I tried my best to wrangle both my nerves (so thankful no one can hear you yelling at yourself in the middle of the water with the wind blowing) and the machine into working together. Every time I sped up over 30 mph I would start to waggle crazily, due to constantly trying to over correct my steering, and I could feel the jet ski starting to get squirrel-y underneath me. Couple that with the rough water and I wasn’t having the best time. I’d taken off my glasses before boarding the jetski, and while I can see well enough without them, when I looked around there were no other riders in sight. Eek! Best thing to do was to keep heading in the direction I’d last seen everyone else, and not think about the warning we’d had about staying on the exact path they’d guide us through, as there were some places that weren’t suitable for jet skis.

Thankfully, the “chaser” eventually realized I was having some issues, so she came back my way and signaled me to follow behind in her wake, thus creating a path for me to follow that was a bit less turbulent. Being mindful of the 100 yards rule, I kept falling behind to keep distance. She’d slow down for me, then speed up. I’d speed up, catch her and slow down. It was a rather awkward push and pull dance we did until we caught up with the others who were waiting for me in a nice grouping, listening to the guide give some information and history about the spot where they’d congregated. Of course, I was so late, that I barely got there and we’d start off again.

So, for the next 2.5 hours I did my best to stay with the pack, never able to control the damn machine at any speed over 38 mph, which when you think of it, is fast enough. I hit a few waves head on and the whine of the engine let me know we were briefly air-borne, but I was still dead last to every stop and trying not to dump myself off and be another “mess” the leader would caution others about in future safety meetings. We later found out that Miami had a tornado that day and while we were over 100 miles away, we were experiencing part of that strong system. I’m happy I didn’t overhear the leader or the others commenting on how rough the water was and how they were being bounced around BEFORE I went on the tour, but was a little comforted after the fact with the knowledge that I wasn’t a totally inept jet-ski driver.

When we finally returned to the docks, I pulled my jet ski up into it’s spot and was disembarking when the next guy gunned his machine and knocked my ski sideways just as I’d stepped off. Number 3 was there offering me his hand, and as we were walking down the pier, I wouldn’t let go. I marched myself straight over to the “adult beverage” cabana and enjoyed a celebratory sip. I’d done something that scared me, and survived!

I did it!