Retirement Don’ts


Don’t continually put off things you want to do until later.

You never know how many days you still have on this earth especially when you are in your retirement years and the back door seems to be getting closer and closer. One of the things I think each of us should do is to make up a list of things you want to do before you die. I have made it known that one of my favorite travel books is entitled 1,000 Places To See in the USA Before You Die. Since traveling is one of those things I enjoy doing in my retirement years I am continuously leafing through that book to add to my life’s “To Do” list.

Yvonne and I try to do at least four trips a year now. Of course health issue sometimes prevents us from accomplishing that many but at least we try. We are definitely believers in taking road trips rather than flying. To us getting there is half the fun. As I mentioned we just returned from a week vacation in upper Michigan and Mackinac Island and in about three weeks we will be heading to upper Wisconsin for our annual trip to Door County. That is cherry country. I mean that literally not figuratively (ha).

But I am getting off my topic here. One of the reasons I say don’t continue to put off things till later is that I just got back from getting an MRI. It seems I have a potentially serious problem that was found in a recent series of x-rays. The radiologist said it is probably nothing but we should check it out to be sure. While lying perfectly still inside the MRI tunnel for one half hour I got to thinking what if this is something serious and I end up in the hospital for a long period of time or maybe worse. Will I be getting anything else off my list?

Life is just too uncertain to keep putting things off. The Bible constantly gives stories of people who are totally unprepared for the end of their life. They think they will live forever I guess. I think I am pretty tuned to my mortality but like everyone else the end will probably sneak up on me sooner than I want. Everyone wants to get to heaven but no one want to die to get there. Don’t leave this life with a full blown list of things on your To Do list. Keep on a track to accomplish some of them on a regular basis.

And the journey goes on.

High School Memories…..

Let’s do another post on my high school days or maybe I should say where I lived during my high school days. As I mentioned before I went to a Catholic school from the first through the seventh grade. So, I was primarily taught by nuns and priests. I have mentioned before that my mom deserted my dad, brother, and me when I was in the sixth grade. Soon after that dad could no longer afford the mortgage payments on our house. He did manage to sell it for a small profit and then we moved to a rented farmhouse southwest of Indianapolis. This, even without the cultural shock of a different school took a lot of getting used to.

We moved from a modern tract house of the 1950’s to a farmhouse probably built in the very early 1900s. The house was heated from a monster coal furnace in the basement and I mean it was a monster! So starting then it was a daily practice in the winter months to stoke up the furnace each night with just the right amount of coal so it would last over night. Since dad worked as a milk delivery man and my brother and I went to school there was no one there during the day so we let the fire go out. Since I was the oldest it was my job to get a new fire re-started when I got home from school. During the coldest months it was about forty degrees in the house when the school bus dropped us off. We did have a shower and sink on the unheated enclosed porch next to the kitchen but the toilet was outside the back door in an outhouse. I never got used to going outside to use the bathroom. Fortunately since I was young I could usually hold it until morning so I didn’t have too many late night trips.

We lived in that house about 3 years and then moved into a small bungalow in town. The total house measured about twenty feet by twenty feet. There were four rooms in the house which were all of equal size. There was a kitchen (with plumbing), a bedroom for my brother and me, a living room with an old fuel oiler burner and a bedroom for dad. I guess it was a step up since we no longer had to load up the furnace with coal each day. But I think the reason we moved there was because it was just cheaper than the farmhouse. This little house still had no toilet. Instead we had a key to the ladies restroom in the adjacent service station. The owner of the gas station of course also owned our house. After high school I said goodbye to our little rented house and moved to the Purdue Lafayette campus. Dad soon remarried after that and moved along with my brother back to Indianapolis. I went back a few years ago and found that the house had been torn down. It is now a parking area for junk cars. I managed to get through those years just fine. I became somewhat of an expert on “bird baths” in the kitchen sink.

And the journey goes on…

I Believe

  • I believe that Jesus meant us to be humble rather than proud.
  • I believe that Jesus meant us to be selfless rather than selfish.
  • I believe that humility and compassion are the two most important things all Christians must strive to. Everything else is small stuff.

Retirement is a Meaningless Void….

The above title is somewhat of a shocker from a person like me who is reflecting on his retirement years. So, let me finish the sentence here. Retirement is a meaningless void until you make it otherwise. The second part of the sentence definitely changes the first. Yes, retirement does usually clean off the blackboard of life so that it is ready for a new agenda. We no longer have the long string of responsibilities that tied us to a job for so many years. For the most part we are free to re-invent ourselves in a different light. That is, for those of us who are married, with permission of our spouse. More on that topic in a few posts.

So, if we don’t take any action or procrastinate too long retirement can become a meaningless void! There are certain things we have to do like eating, sleeping, breathing but many things are optional once we enter our retirement years. It is important that we realize this and take the opportunity to evaluate what we want to do. Of course we should not immediately jump onto the first thing that enters our mind. For instance you don’t want to necessarily sell everything you have and get a motorcycle and join a gang. But, by the same token you don’t want to take forever in deciding what you want to be in your retirement years.

One thing we must realize is that retirement living is not a one time thing but an ongoing process. For some of us that process might spread out over thirty years or more; but for others it might just be a year or two.  Just because we initially choose a particular path does not mean that we can’t change it if it doesn’t work out. So take some time to dabble here and there to test the waters before you take a life changing plunge. If you think that getting out of snow country is a good thing then maybe you should do it; if you end up actually missing the snow (and there are many who do!) then you can always come back to the changing seasons. That is one of the great things about retirement. Everything is pretty much up to you and your hubby. Test the water here and there.

And the journey goes on….


“Stuff” has been on my mind lately so I pulled out a November 2008 blog post on one of my other blogs and re-posted it below. I am in the process of cleaning out my barn and it is loaded with stuff (shame on me!!). Sometimes I would just like to throw it all away and start over again; maybe this time I could refrain from the temptation of accumulating it all over again. But I kind of doubt it.


November 2008

Ok this maybe anti-American but Jesus was definitely anti-stuff.  When Jesus sent out his disciples to spread the Word he told them to take nothing with them. They weren’t even allow to take and extra pair of sandals for their long walk and they did a lot of walking in those days! And then remember the rich man who approached Jesus to learn how to get to heaven. That ended up with Jesus telling him to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor and then follow Jesus and his ragtag team.  Of course the rich man, as most of us today, could not even conceive of doing that. He just went away rejected.

We, especially in the United States, are totally addicted to our “stuff”. Of course being a capitalist country  our whole economy depends on all of us buying more and more “stuff” each year. It’s not good enough to just buy the same amount as we bought last year; we have to always buy more.

If we fill our house with “stuff” then there is always the garage.  If even the garage is full then how about off-site storage which is one of the few remaining growth industries. Or now we can even have our storage unit brought to us for filling up (PODS).  If we run out of money to buy our “stuff” there is always another credit card offer in the mail. Let’s face it buying “stuff” is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break

Getting back to the rich man as mentioned above, many Christians now rationalize that to be just a story and not what Jesus really intendeds for us to do.  From my studies of early Christianity that was definitely not the case with them. For at least the first few hundred years many, if not most, affluent people really did sell everything when they started following Jesus. I’m not sure exactly when this practice fell out of the favor but I expect it was around the time that Constantine made Christianity a State religion.  I think we need to give up some “stuff” and then revisit the practice of giving to the less fortunate than us? But of course we could never go all the way as Jesus mentioned. The apostle John made the following statement in 1John.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.

Let’s put these word in today’s lingo or at least what I perceive it to be. John says you have to back what you say with actions or the words are meaningless. To me John is flatly saying that if you have faith in Jesus then you WILL do these things. That gets us into a much deeper subject of “works vs. faith” which I will tackle in a future postings. For now, let’s buy less “stuff” and help our less fortunate brothers a little more.

Happy Fall 2010!

Here it is the first day of fall. I will be glad to see the summer heat finally dissipate. Yesterday was 96 degrees and tomorrow is supposed to be in the 90s again so I guess we will have to wait a while for cooler temperatures. The picture below were taken in late October 2009. No, we don’t usually have cows in our front year but it is an annual event for them to break out of their pasture nearby.  It seems that the grass is just greener on our side of the fence. (ha).

Closed Captioned TV….

Continuing on with tools that help me and other deaf people coupe in the hearing world this post will cover closed captioning. When I went deaf in 1988 there only about 10% of the television coverage was closed captioned. That meant that I was pretty shut out of TV.  And even for that 10% I had to order an external closed captioning unit for my TV as the hardware was not standard at that time. The captioning unit costs almost as much as the TV and due to some technical matters the degree of accuracy of the captioning varied widely. Some of it was just not readable!

But maybe I am getting ahead of myself here as some of you might not even know what closed captioning is. Closed captioning is where all of the sounds and words on a TV program are spelled out in text somewhere on the screen. Many hearing people use it today so that they can turn off the sound and still watch TV. Of course this is usually so that their hubby can get to sleep without the noise.

Fortunately as the years went on captioning became more and more available. The main reason for that was the Americans with Disabilities Act signed in congress in 1990. It mandated that by 1994 all television would include a captioning chip (about a $5 cost whereas I paid over $200 for the external box). It also gave requirements as to what was captioned and how long it would take before all TV was captioned. I am a somewhat realist and realize that without this law TV would have probably been inaccessible to the 10 million or so of us that depend on captioning as it is today. Private businesses just don’t deem that number of people worth doing much extra for.

Fast forward to today and just about all programs are now captioned and of course all TVs made since 1994 have the ability to pick up that signal. But the quality of captioning on some of the networks is somewhat substandard. One of those cable/satellite channels has been the Hallmark channel. When they started up they waited until the last possible minute to legally bring up captions and it seems that they tend go to the vendor of lowest cost to get their original content captioned. I had always had a respect for the company but due to this experience I learned that they are pretty much the same as everyone else when it comes to profit verses service performance.

Anyway, thanks to the ADA act I can pretty much watch TV the same as everyone else. The only challenge I seem to have in the area is when we travel and come across hotels that have not replaced their TV inventory in the last sixteen years. But that is another story

And yet another story is with the increase use of video on the internet I am again beginning to feel left out as almost none of the videos are currently captioned. I guess I will have to wait for congress to regulate internet videos for that to happen. But of course with the extreme partisan gridlock that has taken those folks over it might be years before they can agree to act on this matter or anything else!

And the journey goes on….

Let’s talk about the weather….

We often have casual conversations about the weather over our back fences or to people we are not intimately familiar with. When we can’t think of anything else to say we talk about the weather! Well, I seem to be in one of those funks where words and not coming easily right now so let’s talk about the weather.

Is it just me or has this some been an unusually hot one! I know as I am getting older I can’t seem to take the heat as I once did. When I was in high school I worked summers putting up hay in local farmers barns. No we didn’t wrestle those big round bails you see today. Back then they made square bales weighing somewhere around 50-90 lbs. I was a skinny runt but I still managed to toss the hay around with the big guys. The inside of the barns would often get up to 110 degrees or more. Yes, I sweat a lot but it didn’t bother me that much. Now whenever the temperature gets above 90 degrees I stay in the house. During those days I mow the lawn in the evenings after the sun as gone down the high hill west of us.

This year I have been spending many days inside. I think the local weather man said we have had forty days of 90 degree weather so far. Yvonne and I went up to Mackinac Island in upper Michigan a few weeks ago and even though it never got above the mid sixties it was an enjoyable relief. When we started heading home it got progressively warmer until it was in the mid 80s.

Here it is late September and we have a forecast of 96 for today! Where are those cool fall days all of us in the Midwest usually enjoy this time of year? It is just too darn hot for mid September!

And the journey goes on….

Choose to be Happy..

I have been having some pretty grumpy days lately so I find it necessary to revisit the issue of happiness.

We all want to be happy especially in our retirement years. The pursuit of happiness is even in our country’s founding documents. Happiness is more than a feeling; it is actually much more a choice. We all have known people who seem to be grumpy and unhappy no matter what their circumstances are. They seem to just refuse to be happy. To many of them the government is the enemy who steals their happiness. For others they refuse to be happy until they have all the possible worldly possessions they desire. For some of us, especially me lately, health problems seem to be robbing us of our happiness.

But what most people don’t seem to realize is that happiness is actually a choice not a condition. Many people who have little or no worldly possessions are some of the happiest we encounter. How can that be? Each of us we can be as enthusiastic as we choose to be. It is primarily how we choose to view our experiences that makes the difference. We can choose to be happy or choose despair and misery. Unfortunately many who retire choose the later.

As we retire and make changes in our everyday lives learning to be happy is probably one of the most important things we need to do. Don’t spend your retirement years wishing for something else. I know to those who are currently unhappy choosing happiness seems pretty far fetched. But it really is just a matter of how you choose to view things. Choose happiness; you won’t regret it. Yes, it does require you to throw away some of the attitudes that make you grumpy but if you keep working at that you can accomplish happiness.

And the journey goes on…

Mackinac Island, MI

We recently spent a glorious three days on Mackinac Island in upper Michigan. One of the unique things about the island is that there are no motorized vehicles on it. Transportation is by either horse, bicycle, or on foot. We stayed at the Island House hotel and besides for some pretty poor service in the dining room during a dinner hour our stay there was  fantastic. The food at the hotel was great but I guess the waiters were either poorly trained or just overloaded the night we choose to dine there.  My favorite dining spot proved to be Millies on Main. Good food, quick service and reasonably priced

I Believe…

  • I believe that meeting human needs should be more important than maintaining religious institutions.
  • I believe that peace should be more important than power.
  • I believe in the authority of the words of Jesus in the Bible over those of even His most inspired followers.

    And the journey goes on….

Memorable Quotes

Mahatma Gandhi

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

At first thought the above quote did not mean a lot to me but when I thought it out it is indeed has a great significance in my life. I often get somewhat depressed that there is so much suffering in the world today. The chanting of war has seemed endless in my lifetime. I was conceived by a noble man returning from World War II. Then there was the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war and many other “conflicts” strung in between. War, death and suffering seem to be a way of life for us.

I also getting frustrated that there is so much need in the world today. There are so many who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Even in the U.S. which is the most prosperous, at least from a monetary point, in the world today. There are those who are working two or even three minimum wages jobs just to keep their head above water.

Yes, some of this need is self inflicted; that is there are people who totally buy into the materialistic mantra of the marketing folks around today. They buy more and more things that aren’t really needed until their credit cards are drowning them in debt. I try to have compassion even for this group also but often times end up judging them for their behavior.

But there are also many many people who through no fault of their own just cannot afford the basic needs for them and their family. Some are drowning in bills associated with some previous healthcare event. I know that over half of todays bankruptcies are related to this fact.   I look out at the sea of people in desperate in of help and become very frustrated. Whatever I do will be very insignificant to the overall need. And that is where the above quote comes in. No, I by myself cannot make even a small dent in this need but if there are millions like me out there doing our little part then at least some of that need is fulfilled. So at Gandhi said it is very important that we realize that nothing we do is really insignificant if we are doing it with others like us.

So I try not to be disheartened about my limited contributions to easing the world’s pains. As long as there are others like me we are not insignificant!

And the journey goes on…

Deafness and Danger

Of course being totally deaf as I am means that I can no longer hear the noises around me. Sometimes that is a good thing. I no longer hear the screaming kid at the table next to me in a restaurant. I am somewhat oblivious to the constant chatter of people on cell phones always around me. The last five years of my corporate life was living in a cubicle. Most people complained about them as you can hear conversations, coughs and other things from several cubicles around you. I was one of the few who really liked my cubicle.

But there are times when not hearing things can become a danger. The most obvious to me is going to get the mail daily. I have to consciously make sure that I stop and look both ways before I cross the street to the mail box. If I forget I could end up walking into the path of a automobile! Another one was that when I was running my cabinet/furniture shop for six years I became somewhat oblivious to the noises that the various power tools made and therefore seemed to fear them less. That is not a good thing. A number of times I put my fingers in danger because I did not realize that the equipment was running!

So, even though being deaf has its advantages in the noisy world it also presents dangers that I have to be constantly aware of.

And the journey goes on.

Williamsburg VA…

I have been away from my computer for a while.  Yvonne and I spent a glorious week at Mackinac Island. I will be sharing pictures of that soon but right now let’s finish up the current series of DC and the area.  This picture and the one following them are of Williamsburg VA also taken in 1988. I have been there several times before and after this series was taken. It is one of my favorite places to visit.

Been Away for a while….

Sorry for not saying something earlier but I have been away from my computer for a while. Yvonne and I took a week vacation to northern Michigan starting  Labor day weekend. We spent three glorious days on Mackinac Island. It was simply wonderful to not see a single motorized vehicle for all that time. Even though I am deaf cars and such still make quite a bit of noise at least in my mind. In place of the cars and trucks were one and two real horse powered carts and wagons and then there were bicycles . I will be posting some more of those pictures soon on my InTheSlowLane blog.

Unfortunately during the trip I came down with some hip problems that currently make it uncomfortable to sit in my office chair so even though I am home the blogging will not be as frequent as I usually do. Hopefully this latest health episode will resolve itself soon. But it seems it does have the possibility of turning into something more serious. Getting old is hell but it sure beats the alternative. 🙂

And the journey goes on…