Life at 60, plus…
Ten years ago at 57 and 31 years on the job I was fortunate to walk away from the City of Asheville Fire Department – there were places that I wanted to see and things on the list. I have accomplished a good number of them. Retired life is good for sure, doing more ancestry study (familysearch.org) continues to remind me that this time of life can’t be stretched into forever, with that said – I wish you happiness when your Plateau arrives.
I’ve noticed that our cat Otis favors peace and things that move slow; it seems noise and motion mess up his naps. Well I’ve come to the spot in life that I don’t totally disagree with the concept even though the nap thing is yet to arrive – I call it a 30 minute ‘sit-down’ (sometime between 12 and 2pm). I enjoy sound; noise is something different. Retirement is an area that the cat concept could easily creep into ones lifestyle – anyway, the general summer atmosphere around the lake is cat-like.
Home base is within the foothills of SC aside a small mountain lake where we have pretty much shunned metro motion and unnecessary noise – the place where most folks make their living, been there.. Entertainment at the lake is cheap – like noticing the southern air creating gentle waves that roll northward through the day. As the evening sets in, air cools and reverses course down the mountain slopes and back across the lake – the waves shift south like the changing of the gulf tide. Then somewhere in the night, life levels out.
In the summer neighbors come to their cabins for the weekend and make noise, mostly the laughter kind. In the winter – it’s what kind of duck is migrating through. Loons, wood-ducks, herons, coots, buffle-heads, and hooded merangers. Eagles and Ospreys have made their appearances too – once even a brown pelican showed up after a storm and hung around for a couple weeks (Kim’s “Penguin” story).
Each February we head for creek-week in Florida but in 2019 we remained stationary ($Health insurance, $taxes, Hawaii) – I didn’t regret hanging around one little bit. But the challenge we have identified while living at the lake is – Where else do you go for vacation? – we seem to have all we need right here!
And then came spring and the ‘skunk fest,’ the ‘back to abnormal’ weekend….
No different in April 2019, our 12th (6 years spring and fall), it’s cool..
Sure it’s a little ‘off-the-wall’ if you’re from the city, but it’s also neat, and very real. “Live humans making music,” along with folks of all mindset (kid friendly event) being entertained a very cool setting while simply being their-selves.
There’s a tone of gentle conversation and casual festivities floating in the air, easy to breathe stuff like that. The privately organized venue began as bluegrass but has grown into a mixture of local and touring musicians gaining their foothold in something that means a lot to them; making and sharing their music.
We use the RV; camping is available and many come for each day. It runs Thursday through Saturday in April and October. The Albino Skunk Music Festival.
‘like I said, enjoy; and at least twice a year – ‘set it free…
A few days later it was off to Delaware where we find a second tiny oasis on this planet.
Believe me, I’d really love to be out there running the highways, I miss it – but this is pretty good stuff too.
I found plenty to do there in my ‘cave.’ Doors open early with coffee, upright and working on something, thinking cap a little later. There’s plenty to do surrounding the place, in between there are other pending tasks before getting back to those projects I haven’t finished yet (or I could be hunting my coffee cup, or the last tool that I was using).
In my garage I have a tractor, refrigerator, a shower, a table, a ‘crib,’ and a loft with a soft horizontal spot (for that ’20-minute sit-down’) –
but most of all, I still have the ability to enjoy this stuff; and I am grateful for that.
Here’s a thought too, when you reach your Plateau – with a spouse – have more than one roof. At the lake I have 4 other roofs to go to during the daylight hours (shed, boathouse, garage, dock); in Delaware I have a great garage – she can do whatever she wants to do in the house. What I’m implying; is that a single roof for two retired folks can be unnerving for some souls. Maybe later, but for now “shoot for more space to piddle” and spend your time ‘upright.’
In 2019 I built yet another roof – a corn-crib, well really a wood-crib as Kim took three weeks to babysit in Hawaii (yes). Scott/Patti (in-laws) moved back from Kansas and cleared some of the trees near their home; a sorely needed one of ours too (thanks).
Scott had a badass wood splitter and I had the time; so that was on the ‘whenever’ agenda for me. After heating with and spitting many loads of wood by hand in the late 70’s – I actually enjoyed (yes I enjoyed) lugging the chunks into the clutch of the splitter and watching the wedge sink without remorse into the solid stumps of wood – shredding them to stove-size pieces. URRRR.. Life is good.
New batteries in golf-cart, positioned a wood-stove for the fall, and thinned out some underbrush in the woods nearby.
Had a few fires too; “let’s burn one.” In early June our piles held wood too wet to burn, the flame dimmed, so we rounded up Otis and returned to the lake.
There we found two months of cobwebs; the shop-vac ran late into the night and the cat took care of the lower ones…
Long-time friends from FM Al and Ava came through; the draw-down before the surge was on.
Like-minded friends from yesterday just headed for today; always special to have them stop and put their feet in the air.
The stove broke down the first day and me being too cheap to go down and buy a heating element for 50 bucks ordered one online for 16; delivery in 4 days.
The delay was no bother – these folks adapt pretty well, the grill in the crab-shack worked just fine – more dock time…..
We had some boathouse moments and a ride to Clemson……
Oconee fish hatchery, and an ice stop at family Dollar – ‘peeps’
Feet-up Al…. you’ll find your plateau, and you can call it “Al’s world.”
Then came July 4th, an unexpected but very welcomed family Surge for the forth of July, 2019
Jessica came from Colorado with the Carr family, Melissa from Charlotte with the Coates, and Gray came from Hawaii with the Haynie’s… with them like the gulf tide came the’ little-fingerprints, little-footprints, wet towels, and that laughter – my favorite universal noise of all…. the surge was on. GK’s flying into the water, and under – it was the best!
Having a few gold painted rocks with $ signs on them gave them plenty of swimming objectives – Rylie came out the biggest $ winner this year, but with hours and days of water world – they each increased their basic aquatic skills… daylight to dark without a single meltdown….. Joy.
Many simple moments that continue to grow as the memories touch our hearts.
The kids played unabated in the water and out. Like a lifeguard, I’ve learned that a grandparent is there for their safety; not to give parenting directives – and I’m ok with this role. “Go ahead and jump if you want”….. My cousin James always gave me that area of support – and he was there if needed…
Gray had some Coast Guard friends (Andrew, Danielle) come by with their family, nice day, and visit.
Janis, Mom and Kristi came by for brood review. We had a large taco salad and Mom had her steak; she still likes her mmmmeat! (well done).
Janis and Richard remained all afternoon challenging the kids with games – in Yahtzee; James and Rylie prevailed.
a mat moment without the kids ….
James found some BB time and took aim….
Hunter bounced from activity to activity – settling in with the cousins and continuously singing something like “I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, and riiiddee”…
One morning Melissa mentioned that something had drug 40# of dog food across our porch (we live next to a National Forest) – it did not get into the container so I turned on my driveway cam the next day expecting to find a small bear or something wandering around; this is the activity I found…
Human critter activity…..
– If they weren’t in the water – they were tossing the ball, or playing hoops .. Wyatt made plenty of ‘buckets!’
– Neat to see the fun we might otherwise have missed… kids organizing their own games…..
And the 2019 Kentucky Derby winner is?
We had plenty of family time, hoop time, paddle time, golf and dock time – with smores – before two families had to go…
and then the critters parted…
We really are so proud of our children and their families – awesome folks….
Two really short days later…
The population in Hawaii went up by 4; while at the lake the summer surge settled – flat-water returned
– and it all became a memory, a very good memory