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Retirement Journal


       
The following is a year-long daily journal of my first year of retirement.  It was a year of new discoveries about myself and my world and how my life has changed after working for more than 50 years. I hope you enjoy it. - Jene Hedden, Website Publisher


August 30, 2017

 Day 365 of my retirement.                              

                                                         “The End of This Chapter”

      One year ago tomorrow I began writing a journal of my discoveries and experiences during the first year of my retirement. I posted daily my thoughts and reflections based upon a life in which I have worked continuously since the age of 16. Most of this time I worked full-time in a variety of positions beginning with mowing lawns for my neighbors and being paid between two and five dollars per yard. My first "city job" was a position with Sanders Cleaners in Saint Matthews. I worked this job the summer after I graduated from high school.

     When I began my studies in college it was necessary to leave the dry cleaners and take a position working nights at Consolidated Sales Company in Saint Matthews from four until ten p.m. six nights a week. I worked at that job for more than four years. In fact my resignation from that job was just a few days before my wife and I were married. Two weeks after our wedding, I began graduate school. Part of graduate school involved in an internship at Norton Hospital. Shortly after I began my internship I was offered part-time work in the department of psychiatry in the recreation program. I continued in that job as it became full time through the four years of graduate school. I graduated from the University of Louisville Kent School just days before my wife and I moved to Palmetto, Georgia where I worked for three years as the assistant superintendent of the Baptist Children's Home.

     Longing to be closer to our families, we decided to move back home, and I sought and was offered a position with the North-Central Comprehensive Care Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I worked for this fine organization for the next three years. It was during this time that I was in communication with friends at the Norton Hospital where I had done my internship. They mailed me a letter of offer for a position in the department of psychiatry at Norton Hospital which I jumped to take. I remained at Norton Hospital for the next 25 years. During those years I held four different positions and retired from the organization as director of the department for which I  worked those many years before.

     I chose retirement from Norton Hospital at a time when my parents were in failing health. Little did I know that within three months of my retirement both of my parents would have passed away. With their passing I immediately went back to work full-time, this time working in a psychotherapy private practice here in Shelbyville. After two years with that practice I left to start my own private practice in Shelbyville and Middletown. I remained in that position for the next 13 years. At that point I sold my practice and joined the Whitten Psychological Services group which I remained with for the next two years. My second retirement on September 1, 2016 was my first real break from full-time employment in about 55 years.

     Conclusion about this day: I have written this journal over the past year because I thought it offered some insight about retirement for a man who has worked most of his life in some full-time capacity. Frankly, I was anxious about how I could adjust to retirement. My journal was to be an effort to keep track of what that first year would be like. My conclusion is that retirement has not been as hard as thought it would be. My wife has been extremely supportive giving me lots of space to figure out what I wanted to do and not do. I have remained extremely active in my church and community. And I continue to live on a farm and have responsibilities there also. So though I have retired from my professional practice, I have remained quite busy this past year. I look forward to the years to come. I intend to continue to be involved in my community and with my growing family.


August 29, 2017

Day 364 of my retirement.                               

   "Fond Remembrance"

     It seems difficult to comprehend that I have been retired now almost fully one year. I recall with pleasure my final weeks at Whitten Psychological Services seeing clients for the last time. It was a bittersweet time for me. Some of these clients I had come to know over an extended period of time. I had attempted to not take on new clients the last six months or so since I knew I would be retiring.

     The week before my scheduled retirement, Mike Whitten arranged for a luncheon in my honor. I was very pleased that the staff wanted to do something like this for me. In truth I know the staff well and believe them to be a fun group of folks who were always anxious to do something involving food! It certainly did not trouble me that the group would use this occasion for a very nice luncheon. Honestly, I do not recall much of what we ate that day. I do recall the people who were present and who spoke very kind words about my relationship with them over the time that we worked together.

     The staff signed a card of congratulations regarding my retirement. They also presented to me a small potted rosebush with yellow buds on it. I brought the pot home and planted it in one of my flowerbeds near another rosebush that I had been given at some time in the past. I was a little uneasy about this new flower and its ability to survive the cold winter that was coming within a month or two of its planting. From time to time over the winter I would gaze at it and wonder if it was still alive. I had hoped that it would do well as an omen for my doing well in retirement. This spring I noted green buds on the lower parts of the stem. As the warm breezes of summer came to the farm, the bush put on an abundance of new growth. Last month I recognized the beginnings of new blossoms on this rosebush. It now has several large yellow blossoms blooming with much beauty.

     Conclusion about this day: The first year of my retirement has progressed much quicker than I had expected. I hold fond remembrances of the time around my retirement just one year ago. The rosebush that I was given will continue to be a treasured touchstone of memories for me and the week of my retirement. It remains to be seen as to whether or not I will bloom in my retirement to the same degree that this rosebush has demonstrated for me. I do not know what the next year will hold. But I am certain that as long as I can remember, this little flower will remind me of dear friends and colleagues as they walked a portion of my life path alongside me in a very special way!    teh

  

August 28, 2017

Day 363 of my retirement.                       

                                                      “Big Kid Toys”

     My daughter and son-in-law purchased a new farm pickup truck over the weekend. They had been contemplating purchasing a vehicle for several weeks. My son-in-law confided in me that he thought he might prefer to purchase a Dodge product instead of a Ford. While owning Ford products myself, I had no particular preference as to what they might purchase.

     They have been shopping for several weeks at dealerships in the area. They actually made an offer on another vehicle but could not reach an agreement on price. So this past Saturday early in the morning they went to the local Dodge dealership to look at a vehicle commensurate with what they were seeking. They took my granddaughter and grandson along as well. I thought they were brave to try and negotiate on purchasing a vehicle with two small children in tow. They worked with a young lady with whom they were reasonably pleased. And after a couple hours talking including a lunch break in between they signed a contract to purchase the truck of their choosing.

     As is true with all of us, after the compression of negotiation toward the purchase of one of the larger items we will buy in our lifetime, they came back to our house to discuss the purchase and whether or not they had been successful in the negotiation. I assured them that if they were satisfied then it was a good negotiation. I think we all understand that there is a certain dance we do when we attempt to purchase a vehicle from a major auto dealer. You try not to be adversarial, yet sometimes it feels as though it is the survival of the fittest.

     After work this evening, my son-in-law called me and asked me if I would drive him to the Dodge dealership so he could pick up his new vehicle. I assured him that I would be glad to do so. We drove to the dealership and in a matter of moments he had the key to his new vehicle, and  I photograph him and our granddaughter outside their vehicle before they drove it off the lot. My granddaughter informed her dad that she needed a bottle of grape jelly for her school lunch tomorrow. My son-in-law promised her that he would stop and pick up the jelly at Walmart. I followed them as far as Walmart and saw them parking in the lot. And just as I expected, Chris parked as far from any other vehicle as reasonably possible as he wanted no scratches are bumps on his new vehicle.

     Conclusions about this day: We all as humans have a certain degree of predictability about ourselves. We love to share success, and we tend to conceal failures. I suppose purchasing a new vehicle is a kind of success. It is also funny that in a matter of days or weeks these purchases tend to lose their luster. We continue to make payments for three or more years. But after all transportation is just transportation. I am pleased for my daughter and son-in-law that they purchased something they both wanted. And I was not at all surprised that they purchased a black truck. You see in our family, black is a popular color. In fact, I currently own two black vehicles including a black Ford pickup truck.        teh


August 27, 2017

Day 362 of my retirement.                               

                                        "Kids Say the Darndest Things"

     Our grandson Brayden is almost 4 years old. He is much different than our other three grandchildren were at his age. Our other grandchildren were very easy to manage, and we were able to redirect them as needed without much difficulty. Braden on the other hand is a very strong willed child. He loves to run, play and wrestle. And he is getting stronger which means he is a little more difficult to control each day. We find he needs a lot of one on one attention.

     We have been very proactive with all of our grandchildren telling them about Jesus and the Scriptures. We have not taken Braden to church as much as we did our other older grandchildren. A reason for not having done so is because Braden and his attention span are relatively short. He cannot tolerate being quiet and still for the better part of an hour.  We have taken him to church and left him in the nursery and that has been OK. But we desire for him to have a more structured learning about the scripture. So my wife looks for opportunities to talk to him about God when he is at our house playing.

     Yesterday, Braden and his Mimi (grandmother) were talking about God and specifically about heaven. His grandmother was telling him about how wonderful heaven would be. Braden seemed very interested in what she was telling. He interrupted her and inquired, "Will there be fried chicken in heaven"? She replied that she thought everything that he needed to be happy would be in heaven (including fried chicken). I know that is not scriptural but for a four-year-old you keep it simple. Braden replied to his grandmother, "I'm ready to go to heaven right now ". We all laughed at his words and simple emotion.

     Conclusion about this day: As a grandparent it is my greatest desire that all my grandchildren come to know the Lord our Creator. My oldest grandson has done mission work in Central America on three different occasions. I believe he has a heart for the Lord. I pray that my other grandchildren will find their own way to their understanding of God and His love for each of them. In the meantime I hope that I will be a capable grandfather with my grandson Brayden, the very strong willed child.                       teh


August 26, 2017

Day 361 of my retirement.                             

                                       “Family Tradition at Cider Making Time”

     For many years in a corner of my old tobacco barn there was a cider mill that just sat there collecting dust. I recalled from my childhood the cider mill being brought out sometime each September when the apples on the trees were at their peak sweetness. My parents and uncle would process the apples transitioning them from the red orb to an amazing amber liquid that was so sweet to the lips.

     This afternoon my daughter and son-in-law along with our two youngest grandchildren dropped in to announce that they planned to make cider today. We walked out in the fruit orchard to survey the apple crop. We gathered about a bushel of red apples that were ready to pick. My daughter dispatched me to the Mulberry Orchard near Cropper Kentucky to purchase an additional bushel of ripe apples. My son-in-law, Chris, rode with me to purchase the apples. While there we also bought some peaches and apple donuts.

     When we got back to the house, we got the cider mill out of the barn and washed it off. We then began washing all of the apples and cutting them into four quarters. We carried the apples out to the cider mill and begin crushing them through the grinding portion of the apparatus. The quartered apples become pulp as they passed through the chopping machine. This mill is well over 100 years old. It still operates pretty well. Several pieces have been replaced. But the machine itself still works very well. It is all hand operated giving the user a good workout before the cider is completely processed. The fruits of our labor resulted in about 3 gallons of homemade autumn delight.

     Conclusion about this day: As we were nearing the completion of our cider making, I asked my six year old granddaughter Lilly to come over and sit in my lap. I told her I wanted her to remember days like today. I told her that someday she might be making apple cider with the same machine, and I wanted her to remember it so she might make it a tradition the next generation may someday carry-on. My granddaughter is now the sixth generation to participate in this family tradition.    teh


 August 25, 2016

Day 360 of my retirement.                              

                                                         “Baby Calf Dilemmas”

     We have a small beef cattle operation. We have heifers that were bred late last year. Our intention was to keep the heifers and sell the bull calves so as to provide a small revenue stream. Raising cattle has become more of a science in recent years. I enjoy raising the cattle on our farm. I look forward to the calving season.

     Our first calf of the season was born about a week and a half ago. The second calf was born last night. The first calf, a bull calf hit the ground running and it has done extremely well since then. The second calf born to a heifer who had not given birth before seems to have had a little bit of difficulty in the birthing. I found it this morning out by itself and the mother was not nearby. With cattle that is not a good sign. The bonding between mother and calf is a good indicator of how things will progress from there.

     We had the vet out today to check the calf. The calf seems strong and generally healthy but we are suspecting that the mother may have rejected the calf. If that were to be true, we would be saddled with the responsibility to bottle feed the calf for the next six weeks or so. With small livestock operations these kinds of issues are always a possibility. We are so fortunate that most of the time newborn calves do very well and are able to transition to grazing without much difficulty.

     Conclusion about this day
: Life on the farm has a certain amount of unpredictability. I am grateful that most of the time our work has a good outcome. I am hopeful that this calf will do well on milk substitute out of a bottle. The greater question that I am faced with is whether or not this heifer will need to be shipped as she does not seem to show evidence of being a good mother. In the livestock world that usually means a trip to the stockyard.            teh


August 24, 2017

Day 359 of my retirement.                              

                                                        “The Colors of Light” 

     It is interesting how you can go to the same place many times and always see something in a different way.

     Sometime during the late hours of last night my wife was awakened by the sound of our cattle in the paddock behind our house making noises that might suggest some distress. When I awakened this morning she told me what she had heard and wondered if I might need to check on the cows. I looked out the window and saw some of the cows, and told her I would walk out and make sure they were all accounted for after breakfast.

     The coolness of last night left a fog and heavy dew on the grass and in the pasture beyond the wire fence. I decided that I would not walk out in the paddock without first preparing myself for the wetness I would encounter. I have tall muck boots that are easy to put on for situations such as this that I keep just outside the kitchen door on the side porch. So I left my coffee cup on the kitchen counter, slipped on my rubber muck boots and made my way out through the kitchen door and across the yard to the farm gate that goes out into the pasture where the cows reside.

     The air was cool and the sun was just beginning to rise over the trees creating sharp lines of light and shadows. I walked quickly toward the last place I had seen the cows. I wished I had slipped  a sweatshirt over the t-shirt I was wearing. Having lived near this land my entire life, it seems I know every rock, tree and bump on the part of earth which I call home. I did not have to walk far before I began to see our cattle. Some were grazing at the far end of the paddock and soon the others were appearing from behind the pond dam. Cattle by nature are “herd animals”.  Generally when you find one or two you will find the rest. That was true today. I made my count and called to them "Souk-cow"! They raised their head in unison and looked at me to see if there was any evidence of me carrying a bucket of sweet feed (molasses and grain mix) which is the universal language for my cattle when I want them to come. Sighting no bucket in my hand, they returned to their grazing and generally ignored me. I turned to go back to the house.

     As I returned to the house, I walked past the peaceful farm pond in the paddock and noted the strong light from the sun shining down on the dam of the pond and spilling its light across the water.
In photography, the challenge always is to capture the light. But the light is always changing! It seemed to me that the light was dancing on the calm waters of the pond. The bright rays of light from the rising sunlight cut their laser rays through the tree tops creating lines of light and rainbows before my eyes. I liked what I was seeing. It appeared to me in a way that I had never observed there before. I pulled out my cell phone and shot two or three images of what I was seeing. I noticed the light rays in the photo images as well as the rainbow that appeared in one of my photo images. I thought how fortunate I was to have been there at just the right time to see this beauty. In a few moments the sun had risen higher in the sky and the special effect was gone.

     Conclusion about this day: As is true with so many things in life, being in the right place at the right time can be the key to some amazing life experiences. I was especially glad that my wife requested my going out to check on the cattle. And my going out just happened to be at the time that the light in the paddock was changing dramatically. And I was blessed to be able to see and capture that on my cellphone!                teh


August 23, 2017

Date 358 of my retirement.                              

                                                       "Dishwater Friends"

     On Wednesday evenings, I volunteer to wash dishes at my church. On Wednesday nights our church has a family dinner that feeds somewhere between 100 and 125 people. The dinner is a hot meal with a choice of two entrées and two or three vegetables, bread, salad and dessert.
The meal begins at 5 o'clock and most people are finished eating shortly after 6 o'clock. After finishing their meals they are instructed to bring their dirty dishes to a pre-wash area where the dishes are scraped and loaded into dishwasher trays before being deposited in a commercial dishwasher.

     My part of the job is to wash pots and pans and to help with the removal of dishes when they come out of the dishwasher.  After going through the commercial machine, they need to be hand dried and put back in the proper cabinet. The whole project is not difficult but can be a bit monotonous and boring. There is a crew of 8 to 10 volunteers who help go through this cleanup process. The fun and camaraderie that is shared back in the kitchen area makes this evening project go much faster and give us much more satisfaction as volunteers. We set a nightly goal of having all of the dishes run through the dishwasher by 6:30 in the evening. Most Wednesday nights we were able to succeed at that goal.

     Conclusion about this day: Tonight, the presence of the other volunteers who helped out with this project made for a pleasurable evening of volunteer work. I enjoyed catching up with other volunteers with whom I work week after week. No one is paid for what we do. We consider this a service to our church family and to our Lord.  teh


August 22, 2017

Day 357 of my retirement.                  

                                        “Negativity is Alive and Well on Planet Earth.”

     Throughout the years of my professional career I had the occasion to encounter negative people with some regularity. I define negativity as having the capacity to view the proverbial cup as always half empty. I regret to say that my father was a negative person. He seemed to need (or should I say want) to see events and facts in a negative way. I asked him one time about this and he told me that he believed that if he viewed life negatively, then he would never be disappointed when negative things happened. I found that a highly unacceptable way of thinking for myself.

     Negativity is often associated with depression. People who remain negative seem to experience the core symptoms of depression such as feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. I read not long ago that negativity seems to be found more frequently in older adults. Is negativity the result of the aging or is it associated with some life lessons that we acquire as we age? It is certain that aging allows us to have a much broader view of life and circumstances that occur as we live longer. Yes some of those will certainly be of the negative valence. But I wonder if we have an ability to also selectively and preferentially choose the negative options available when we consider some personal dilemma. As I have aged, I recognize that I am more likely to view circumstances in a positive light or else dismiss the situation altogether as I conclude that it is not that important in the scope of my life. Is that denial? I truly hope not!

     Conclusion about this day: I had a personal encounter today with a person who is highly negative. I attempted to intervene with this person but with marginal success. In order for this person to be relieved of their negativity, I think they have to be willing to let it go. Otherwise they seem to hold onto it as though it was something special or valuable. Negativity is very expensive. It can rob us of the beauty that God has placed in our world.                             teh


August 21, 2017

Day 356 of my retirement.

                                          "The Afternoon the Crickets Sang"

     Today is the day that many Americans anticipated for several years. It is the day that our nation experienced a solar eclipse from Oregon to South Carolina. I gave thought to driving down to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to witness the eclipse in person. But I decided against doing so, anticipating that the traffic would be difficult and I might get stuck because of the traffic back up.

     So instead we decided to watch the eclipse from our deck with the special glasses my wife had ordered several weeks ago. We sat on the deck and were made comfortable by two large fans as the temperature was near 90 when the eclipse began. We would look at the sun for several minutes and then would return to the house to cool off. We watched the eclipse go from a tiny fingernail covering by the moon over the sun until the sun was but a fingernail behind the moon.

     At the peak of the eclipse the shadows were very long in the yard and the light was dim. Additionally I observed several unique changes worth noting. The first was the absence of bird sounds during during the eclipse. Other than a couple doves calling, we basically heard no bird calls throughout the time of the eclipse. It is unclear to me what happened to the birds but they were completely silent. The second observation I had was the strange shadows that appeared during the eclipse. The light shining through the trees adjacent to our deck left strange crescents of light on our deck and sidewalk. The crescent seemed to mimic the crescent light of the sun behind the moon.

     I also noted that the cattle in the pasture behind my yard begin to lie down in preparation for night time. They remained on the ground until the sun returned to full light. At some point during the eclipse I did notice that barn swallows flew through the air as they do prior to nightfall. The barn swallows are excellent mosquito killers but usually are only seen -as the sun is setting. The ambient temperature also declined during the eclipse falling as many as 5 to 6°. But the most noticeable change I detected during the eclipse was the sound of the crickets and katydids. They began to sing and make their nighttime sounds just as they do at darkness. It was clear to me that these insects believed night time had come though it was the middle of the afternoon.

     Conclusions about this day: I enjoyed the eclipse. I enjoyed being able to see the transition of the sun from full brightness of mid-afternoon to the appearance of sundown...then the sun in its fullest returning only a few minutes later. This is something that one sees only rarely, and we will have to wait seven years before seeing it again in Illinois and Indiana with the next eclipse. I'm reminded that God who created everything also gave us the eclipse. I am not sure what God wants us to understand from this solar phenomenon, but I am certain that I take away God’s mastery of the entire universe. As John boy Walton used to say on the TV series the Walton’s, "I reckon He's at right smart fella." Thank you God for a magical moment this afternoon. I hope to be around to see the next one.        teh

 

 

 

August 20, 2017

Day 355 of my retirement.                                

                          “An Only Child With More Than 30 Brothers and Sisters”

     I co-teach an adult Bible study class at First Baptist Church in Shelbyville , Kentucky. I have taught in this class for more than 20 years. My co-teacher, Tom Adkisson has taught with me most of these 20 years. We rotate months with him teaching one month and me teaching the next. Both of us said many years ago that if either of us had to teach every month, most likely neither of us would have agreed to be the teacher. The class is called the Seekers Class.

     The membership of this class began to come together close to 30 years ago. At that time most of our class members were in our 30s and early 40s. Several in the class were newlyweds. Now the class consists of people in their 60s and 70s. We have lost a few members to death or moving away. It is fairly remarkable that we have seen very few separations or divorces in these many years. Years ago the conversations were about our children and what they were doing in school. Now we speak about our adult children, grandchildren and for some, great grandchildren.

       Our class has grown very close over the years. We have been present to support each other in the death of parents and in-laws. We have celebrated silver and golden wedding anniversaries. And we have witnessed the weddings of our children and births of grandchildren. One of the benefits of being a part of such a group is having the privilege of living life complete with the positives and negatives all together. We think of each other as brothers and sisters. We socialize and have parties at each other's homes. One of my best friends commented not so long ago that "you are my best friend. You know too much about me"!
     
     Conclusions about this day: I believe that we were created by God to have close relationships with other people. Since retirement I have become more aware of the importance of friendship and social interaction with both men and women. The occasions in which I gather with these "brothers and sisters" is part of the happiest time in my week. I know that the day will come when we begin to bury these brothers and sisters. But I retain the confidence that I have been taught through God's word that we will see each other again someday in heaven. I look forward to seeing them again because after all, I believe we are all pilgrims traveling through a land that we were not created to remain in very long.      teh


August 19, 2017

Day 354 of my retirement.                               

                              “Two Lessons Learned on the Riding Lawn Mower”

     For the most part, I enjoy mowing grass. I have a large zero turn mower that is about two years old. It is well-built and barring any errors on the user part, it operates with little difficulty. I mow a fairly large area of grass. It encompasses about two acres with lots of obstacles along the way. Obstacles such as field fences, trees, flowerbeds and vegetable gardens (where I cannot throw the grass towards the garden) make for many challenges.

     Today I was doing some mowing along the highway and in the field around one of my barns. While mowing along the right-of-way I observed a large amount of trash that had been tossed out by some person driving down my road who enjoys White Castles, French fries and light beer. I know their choice of product since they left a residue for me. My first thought was to drive my mower over the trash and ignore it. I did that for one wad of trash only for that wad to turn into 73 separate pieces of paper and plastic. At that point I had to shut down the mower and pick up all of the trash that I saw before me. I spent about 15 minutes picking up trash down the rest of my right of way.

     Later as I was mowing around the barn, I noted that I had allowed the grass to grow a bit taller than my standard of grass height. The result is that I was throwing out a lot of cut grass that looked almost like hay. I reminded myself that next time I will not allow the grass to grow too tall as it only makes more of a mess when I do mow.

     Conclusion about this day: Number one - when one doesn't deal with a problem at its first appearance, one may face a multitude more problems later on. Translated that means never drive your lawn more over a bag of restaurant trash. You always end up with a whole lot more! Number two - don't put off  'til tomorrow what you can do today. No, that's not my original saying but it certainly is true when it comes to keeping your grass mowed. Allowing it to grow too tall makes for a mess when you do mow it.

     These conclusions have application in life far beyond mowing grass. I think it also has to do with my dealing with people in general. Address problems early on. Do not ignore them thinking they will disappear. If something needs to be done today, then deal with it today. Tomorrow the problem will have grown bigger.

But I still enjoy mowing grass!                          teh


August 18, 2017

Day 354 of my retirement.                               

                                                        “Corndogs and Carousels”

     Even after 71 years, there is still a kid in me somewhere. I love to go to the state fair. I love the sights, the sounds and the smell of the state fair. The cacophony of sounds combined with the excitement of the hawkers selling food, gadgets and crazy clothing take me back to the years of my youth and the annual trek to the state fair. My wife and I went to the state fair today. We were there close to six hours and according to my pedometer walked a little over 3 1/2 miles throughout the fairgrounds and midway.

     We have traditions that we observe when we go to the fair. For example, we always buy our lunch at the “Kentucky Proud” tent purchasing beef, pork or catfish. Today we bought our lunch from the Kentucky Beef Producers stand. My wife had a really nice steak sandwich, and I had beef brisket on a bun. We also purchased some Gallerin corn that had been steamed and was very tender and sweet.

     Another tradition for us is passing through the livestock area seeing the milk cows, goats, sheep and poultry. We also look for the tobacco displays as well as the bee and honey exhibit. Other stops at the fair included the photography, quilting and needlework. Our day always seems to go so very quickly.

     And the final tradition I would note is my annual purchase of my one corn dog of the year. For many years, I have found a certain stand near the entrance to Freedom Hall that sells corn dogs. The stand has the name, "Pat's" and has a green canopy. The namesake was a milk delivery man to my wife's home when she was young. He delivered Eherler’s milk products. The owner of the stand has no idea how many years I have bought my one corn dog a year at that stand! I really do not care that much for those cornmeal battered hot dogs on a stick. It just brings back long forgotten memories of my dad buying me one at some ancient fair so very long ago.

     Conclusions about this day: I love the fair! I love those silly traditions such as corn dogs with yellow mustard!  It is the reliving

of my upbringing on the farm with discoveries at the fair of blue ribbon tomatoes no better than those in my own garden out by the old barn. And riding the fair carousel! Oh, wait a moment. I better save that tale for another day!            teh

 


August 17, 2017

Day 352 of my retirement.                             

                                                              “And Then They were Gone”!    

     Today is a day that my family has been anticipating for several months. Today is the day that my grandson leaves for college. He is the third consecutive generation of my family to go off to college.  No one in my family before me attended college. I attended both undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Louisville, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Bellarmine University all in the Louisville area. Both of my children attended college in Lexington, Kentucky. My older son chose the University of Kentucky where he spent his first year. He later transferred to the University of Louisville where he completed his degree. My daughter attended the other university in Lexington. She claims it to be the original university of Kentucky which we know of as Transylvania University. I am extremely proud of both of my children in their completion of their academic pursuits.


     Today my grandson departed for Oxford University in Oxford, Georgia. That program entails the first two years of the academic program of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He says he wants to study medicine. I am satisfied that he has the mental capabilities to succeed if that is his choosing.

     I spoke to my grandson briefly yesterday and said goodbye and wished him well. I had expected that he would depart around 8 o'clock this morning. Since I had said goodbye the night before, I chose not to go down to their house till well after 8 o'clock. At around 9 o'clock I got in my truck and drove down to the driveway of my tobacco barn where I intended to do some string trimming along the road which I had not completed a couple of days ago. Just as I got out of my truck I looked across the road and up their driveway and saw their vehicles beginning to come down the driveway. My grandson’s Ford Taurus led the two vehicle convoy. My son was “riding shotgun” with him, and my daughter-in-law and granddaughter were following in the family vehicle. I stopped what I was doing to wave goodbye. My grandson stopped his car at the end of his driveway and got out and walked over to me. He gave me a warm hug, and I wished him well. I told him I knew he would do well. And in a manner that is not his usual fare, he said he hoped he would do well. I hugged him again and told him he would be fine. He turned to depart and I noted a small tear in the corner of his eye. My son meanwhile had opened his door to wave goodbye to me also and I told him I would look after things until he got back tomorrow. And then they were gone.

     Conclusions about this day: Going off to college is a major milestone in the life of young people and their families. I have full confidence that my grandson will do well and will make all of us proud of his accomplishments. Whether he goes to medical school as he has chosen or some other area of study makes no difference to me. I
just want him happy and able to take care of himself.   teh


August 16, 2017

Day 351 of my retire                                                                                                             

                                                          “Work and Non-work”

     I am now within two weeks of being retired one year. This year has gone by extremely fast. I have a number of projects that I had anticipated during this year that I have been working on. One of those projects was the completion of a daily journal during my first year of retirement. I have 14 more entries and will then bring this project to an end.

     Truth be known, I have not avoided a few work projects during this past year. I did a brief research project for a major insurance company and found that quite rewarding. I also was involved in several volunteer responsibilities through my church which also have been more than satisfying. And recently I accepted an appointment to a Kentucky State licensing board on which I will serve up to four years.

     My wife and I also volunteer to wash dishes at my church on Wednesday nights. Not only do we wash the dishes but also the pots and pans. Each Wednesday we feed between 100 and 150 people who are part of our church family. I will tell you this activity is a kind of work that leaves me physically tired when I go home in the evening. But then I'm not sure I am satisfied to call this activity "work". Historically my definition of work included the engagement in some activity for which I am compensated and likely would not have engaged in without the compensation. The Wednesday evening dish-washing is more of a non-work activity. There are a number of other volunteers who assist with this project. We visit with each other and chat with each other while carrying out our separate duties throughout the evening. There is laughing and joking that causes the evening to go very quickly. If one of the regulars is not there, there is concern, and efforts are made to reach out to that person to figure out why they were not there. This kind of camaraderie is not typical in a standard workplace. None of us receive any monetary compensation. We are there to help with a ministry of our church. We serve because we can be of service.

     Conclusion about this day: I choose not to call the volunteer service that I provide a kind of work. I think it is fair to categorize it more as non-work. I define non-work as an activity that provides benefit to others but without the exchange of any monetary compensation. I hope to be able to continue to do this activity a while longer. There is  joy for me in giving that is greater than any monetary compensation!     teh


August 15, 2017

Day 350 of my retirement.         

                                                            Erasing History”?


     This past weekend was a dark time on the University of Virginia campus. It was a time of radical violence by a group of Nazi like adults who were protesting a decision to remove another Confederate monument this time located in Charlottesville, Virginia. The statue was one of Robert E. Lee, the commander of Confederate forces during the Civil War.

     Since early childhood I have been a student of that Great War. My family was divided by the war with ancestor s serving both with northern and southern forces. My great grandfather offered aid to some of John Hunt Morgan's men as they were being pursued through Shelby County after a Confederate raid on Union supplies. My family history is that my great grandfather allowed these men to hide in his home overnight and be outfitted with fresh horses the following day. I tell the story not to brag or condemn his actions. This was somewhere around 1863. That is more than 150 years ago. Times change. People change. Attitudes change. My great grandfather acted out of conviction that Washington, D.C. was asserting too much control over individual states' rights. He stood up for a shared view held by many southern families of that era.

     I am troubled by the efforts in recent times to erase our dark history of war between brothers and families. The people who placed monuments in Kentucky commemorating the services of men and women who fought on both sides during the Civil War are now deceased. None of them can be asked today about their views regarding states, rights, slavery, or a variety of other lesser themes that seem somehow connected to that great conflict during the years 1861 to 1865. I think it unlikely that any reasonable person would argue today in favor of slavery and the oppression of African-Americans. I found it difficult to try and apply present day understandings of sociological issues to a time of 150 years ago. We view these historical markers today through modern day lenses that prevent us from understanding what people were thinking during the Great War. The survivors of that Great War wanted to commemorate the people who died for their cause.

     Nonetheless, today there seems to be a growing view that the removal of Civil War monuments will somehow make everything OK as though those hundreds of thousand American citizens did not really die. I find that very unlikely. Throughout history mankind has made terrible mistakes. War is always a mistake.  We continue to make those mistakes today. But removing monuments does not take away the mistakes that were made in the past. But I figure they do increase the possibility that by erasing history, we enhance the possibility that we will make those same mistakes again.

     Conclusion about this day: I grew up less than one block from the old Confederate monument at third and Brandeis in Louisville. I have traveled past the Castleman statue many times in East Louisville. I am saddened that both monuments have become lightning rods for certain groups of militant people. I thought the relocation of the Confederate monument to Brandenburg, Kentucky was a reasonable solution. The Castleman monument on the other hand honors a man who served both the Confederacy and the U.S. Army. He helped to create the park system in Louisville. He is accused of being bigoted and a segregationist. But the man lived 100 years ago. Is it right to judge a 19th-century citizen by 21st-century standards? I am certain that those people who protest today if judged 100 or more years from now might be found guilty under the rules and moralities that will exist in the future that we do not understand today. May God help us to love and not hate!
     teh


August 14, 2017

Day 349 of my retirement.                               

                                                    “On Second Thought”

     Our grandson will be departing for college on Thursday of this week. My wife and I suggested to him that we meet him for lunch and help with any last-minute purchases that he might require before he leaves for college near Atlanta , Georgia.

     We picked him up at his workplace where he left his automobile. We had about four hours to spend together before he had to be back at work. We drove to a restaurant on Taylorsville Road in Louisville for a quick lunch and then shopping at a couple of big box stores in Middletown. My grandson had a list of items that college had recommended he purchase. My wife also had a list that she had put together of things our daughter used several years ago when she attended college in Lexington.

     At the first store that we visited, we bought several items including some plates and cups. My grandson was a little uncertain about the color of the cups. Since this big box store had two locations in the east end of the city, I suggested we go to the other one and see if they had colors that he would prefer. At the second store we found the exact color he wanted. I left him and went to the car and got the cups from the first store to return. They were still in the store bag, and I had the receipt with me. I took the cups to the service desk and told the lady there that I had purchased the cups a couple hours before and would like to exchange them. She immediately interrupted me and told me that I would have to wait until tomorrow to return the cups. I thought she was kidding. She told me no, that was the rule. I explained to her that I live in Shelby County and it would not be easy to simply bring them back tomorrow. She said that's the rule. I thought it interesting that right behind her was a big poster that stated the stores desire to please the customer and do whatever was necessary regarding returned items. I did not bring this to her attention.

     I was irritated. No, I was annoyed. The cups cost less than two dollars. They are not really worth returning tomorrow to get my two dollars back. As I walked away from the service desk, I felt a voice in the middle of my skull. Maybe it was the voice of God. The voice did not say anything profound. It's simply said “look at her head”. I looked back and noticed she was wearing a scarf to cover her head because she had no hair. I realized that she may be a cancer patient and going through radiation. I thought to myself what a little issue I have regarding returning to cups for a refund. She may be battling for her life. I need to give her some slack!

     Conclusions about this day: I remind myself frequently that I have much to be thankful for. I presently have reasonably good health. I have enough money to pay my bills and have a little left to play with. I have a loving wife and two loving children. And then I come to four amazing grandchildren. Tonight I pray for that lady who waited on me. I pray that her treatment for whatever kind of cancer she might have will be successful. And I ask God to forgive me for my short fuse which was triggered for only two dollars!    teh


August 13, 2017

 

Day 348 of my retirement.                               

                                                     “An Old Family Tradition”


     My wife and I were out in the garden today trimming some bushes and cleaning up summer residue. Most of our day lilies are now spent and there are flowering spikes standing in testimony to the wonderful display of blossoms we had here in May and June.

     As we were working in the garden I noted some of our apple trees where the fruit has started to fall. We have red delicious, yellow delicious, Jonathan and Winesap that are bearing a good crop of fall apples. I pulled one of the Jonathan's from the tree and took a bite out of it. It was a little tart but was quite refreshing with its crispy texture and juiciness. I thought to myself that in the next week or so it will be time for beginning our fall apple cider making.

     We have in one of the barns an antique cider mill that has been used in our family for well over a century. Several parts of the mill have been replaced due to wear and rotting. This past spring I had a master carpenter rebuild the tray in which the juice is caught. Otherwise the mill is in fairly good shape. The design of cider mills has not changed a great deal in the past 100 years. The only major difference is that modern cider mills are run by electric motors. The old-time mills were operated by the strength of the person turning the flywheel that crushed the apples.

     The first step in making cider is the collecting of apples. We generally have about 3 (five gallon) buckets filled with apples to begin. We wash the apples and cut any major blemishes out of the fruit. Then we quarter the apples and put them in a large pan. Once we have completed this preparation of all the apples we then began to grind the apples as they are tossed into the grinder which crushes the apple pieces into pulp. The pulp is caught in large sleeve containers with slits in the sides. When a container is filled with pulp it is moved to the next station in the cider making process. There the container of pulp is smashed by a press that is turned by hand resulting in the juice flooding out the sides of the sleeve container. The juice is caught in a tray. It passes through cheesecloth into glass jugs holding either one half or one gallon of that sweet amber liquid.

     The juice is good to drink immediately but is far better if allowed to cool for a few hours so as to provide the sweet mellow taste of fresh apple cider. Last year we did not have enough apples to make cider. This year looks far more promising.

     Conclusions about this day: Making cider is far more than just producing a sweet juice that we associate with autumn. It is also about making memories and sustaining traditions that have run in my family for at least four generations. A part of retirement that I have enjoyed the most is the sharing of family history with the next generation so these memories will not be lost for my grandchildren and beyond.           teh


August 12, 2017
Day 347 of my retirement.

                         “Sometimes I Sit and Think, Other Times I Just Sit”!

     Since retirement, Saturday has become more like the other six days of the week. There are no special requirements for what I do on Saturday. I do routinely get up at 6 AM in order to attend my Gideon camp meeting which begins at 7 AM. When I get home from the meeting, my actual day begins.

     Last night, I discovered that we had a newborn calf here on the farm. I went out to check on the calf and its mother. As I was unable to locate it quickly, I went back to the house, got in my truck and drove to my daughter's house 2 miles away to get the UTV out of the barn so that I could go and look for the cow and calf down in the woods. By the time I returned to the field where the cows graze, the new mom and her calf were standing out in the field together. The calf was nursing and all was well. The rest of the morning I spent mixing up weed killer and spraying it along fence rows to control undesirable weeds.

     Around noon I drove to Shelbyville to pick up a framed license certificate for my office and stopped at the local pizza joint to take home a pizza for my wife and me for lunch. After lunch, we drove to Frankfort to buy me a new pair of shoes. As we were driving back to the farm, we came upon an auto accident that had just taken place. People had stopped and were running to the vehicle that was turned over in the ditch. Since a large number of cars had stopped, we decided to continue our journey home saying a prayer for the person or persons in the involved vehicle.

     Conclusion about this day: Since retirement I have noted that some days I have more energy than other days. Some days I feel energy to do as much as I can. Other days I seem to just want to sit and enjoy the beauty of the weather and garden around me. I permit myself time to enjoy my home and family and not feel guilty about that. Other days I feel an urgency to get certain planned tasks completed. A happy life is a mixture of work and play. As a retired person, I have more time for play than ever before. And that's really OK with me!                         teh

August 11, 2017

Day 346 of my retirement.             

                                                          “Witnessing the Heart of Others”

     I drove to Louisville today for a continuing education program. I have chosen not to let my clinical counseling license lapse just yet. Therefore I must continue to seek continuing education from time to time in order to keep my license intact. It seemed to me today as I drove to Louisville the traffic was very heavy and driving at a very high rate of speed. I recognize that it has been several years since I drove to Louisville during the morning rush hour. I observed cars racing passed me even though I was driving 3 miles above the speed limit. Their speed exceeded me by many miles. Not only were they driving fast they also were driving recklessly.

     It is easy for me to get caught up in the aggressiveness I observe with other drivers. It is easy for me to become angry with how other people are driving. I wonder to myself what their terrible hurry is. I recall very few days when I was that anxious to get to the office before the start of my workday.

     Human nature is predictable. We seem to look for the worst in people rather than the best. If given a series of positive and negative attitudes we will spend greater time focusing on the negative and ignoring the positive. It's just human nature. I wondered to myself this morning how many other people felt just as I felt going to Louisville today? Lots of people in a hurry making other drivers feel uncomfortable and anxious.

     Conclusions about this day: I, like others, have the capacity to see the negative in people and not the positive. It is clear to me however, that when I consider the possibility that other people think and feel much the same as I do, then I consider the possibility that all people are not insensitive and uncaring about the other drivers on the road. Maybe it would be useful to consider the heart of other people in question before I judge them too critically. When I look for positives in others I find positives to be found. That is the other side of human nature!   teh


August 10, 2017

Day 345 of my retirement.   

                                                               “Memories”
 

     Elvis Presley sang a ballad many years ago that always speaks to me in a special way. He sang those words, “Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind. Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine”. Sweet memories, yes, for the most part! The memories of which I speak today are of the years of my marriage. Today marks the 49th anniversary of the day my bride joined me in a lifetime adventure of marriage.   

     I honestly do not recall much about that Saturday. The wedding took place at my home church in “old Louisville” with family and friends there to witness. I recall moments before I walked into the church, and I recall being in a reception line after the wedding. But I recall nothing during the service itself. Maybe it really never happened! No, my wife says it did!  

     Now these almost five decades later, I think of the countless sweet memories we have shared together. I think about two wonderful children and four precious grandchildren, our home in the country and a successful career of fifty years. God has richly blessed me. I cannot want for more.  

     This evening we will go out to dinner somewhere. I have an anniversary card for my wife. I know she has one for me. I have absolutely no regrets about asking her to marry me. Could I have been a better husband? Sure! But she has loved me through it all. That’s about as good as it gets.

     Conclusion about this day: I like the way Elvis ended it. "Quiet thoughts come floating down
and settle softly to the ground like golden autumn leaves around my feet.
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories”. Yes forty nine years filled with sweet memories!        teh

 


August 9, 2017

Day 344 of my retirement.           

     "The Good Old Days" 

     Have you noticed how all gas stations look a lot alike these days? Covered pumps to protect from the rain or hot sun and "elevator music" while you swipe your loyalty card and insert your plastic credit card!

     Once upon a time, a gas station was attached to a full service garage where you could get a variety of work done on your vehicle including an oil change or maybe add a new tire to replace that one with the slow leak. There was an attendant who would pump your gas, check your oil, place air in your tires and wash your windows at no additional cost. You usually knew that person by name as you had some loyalty to that business and the people who worked there. If you needed a battery or windshield wipers, you would make your purchase there also.
 

     Then all the personalized services went away. Now you pump your own gas, clean your windows and occasionally check your oil and kick your tires. (I never understood how kicking them changed the air pressure!) Now you can buy a soda, slushy or sandwich while at the "gas pump". And you can buy your dream lottery ticket all in the same stop. You have no particular loyalty to that business as the operator of the cash register seems to never be the same person from one stop to the next. They may be working behind bullet proof glass and avoid eye contact with you entirely. They examine your cash payment and hold your twenty dollar bill up to light looking for counterfeit money. Your loyalty depends on which station/convenience store has the best price today. You try and remember what days that station cycles their prices up thirty cents only to gradually decrease the price over the next two weeks or so. Does it cycle on Thursday or Friday? And so the game goes on.

     Here on the farm, our "gas stations" look a bit more "genteel" as we lounge in the shade of an old walnut tree and allow gravity to pump another gallon of Southern States fuel into the old Massey Ferguson. Check the tires and oil? Of course I can do that! Just gotta pull out the shirt tail to wipe that dip stick to check the oil level. My only living witness to this transaction is the catbird high up in the tree who seems only a bit annoyed by my close presence. Pay for the fuel? No. Here I am on a type of “honor system”. I pump the gas till the tank is dry. That may be two or three months. Then I call the distributor and he sends his big truck and refills my elevated metal tank. I get a bill a few days later. I pay for the fuel by check and mail it before the end of the month. And then I'm on my way!

     Conclusions about this day: Modern is not always better. Convenience sometimes requires sacrifices. I can adjust to changing times. But I may not always like the changes I find! Do not ask me if I think modern change is better!         teh 


August 8, 2017

Day 343 of my retirement.                

                                                          “Farm Labor”

      I have lived on the farm most of my life. The farm on which I live has been in my family since 1862. The land was bought at the Shelby courthouse steps due to the failure to pay taxes by a land owner during the Civil War. My great grandfather purchased that land. Part of that land has remained in the Hedden family to this very day.

     I inherited 89 acres of that land from my father in the year 2001. I live in a house that I built about 40 years ago on part of that land. The farm is a working farm. We grow row crops (soy beans and corn) and have some beef livestock. We have an orchard and several gardens. There are all the usual farm responsibilities including cutting weeds, repairing fences, painting buildings and mowing grass.

     Today I spent most of the day on a tractor clipping weeds in the pasture. At this time of year, there are a number of tall invasive weeds that need to be cut in order to prevent them from spreading in the cattle pasture. Of particular concern are the thorny weeds such as thistle and tall weeds like ironweed neither of which the cattle will eat. Since I do not want more of these weeds in my fields, I must cut them before they go to seed. I do not mind this kind of work. It is a bit monotonous but I wear my headphones and listen to public radio as I mow consecutive circles around the field.

     Conclusion about this day: Life on a farm has many different chores and responsibilities. It is a much different life than the one I enjoyed in my clinical practice these past 49 years. But I have always had time for farming on weekends and in the evening. Now as I am retired, I can work whatever hours I choose to work. There is a sense of satisfaction when at the end of the day, I can look back at the field and see the work that I have completed. It is satisfying to be able to see your successful work on a daily basis. Tomorrow I'll have some new job to do that will bring its own level of satisfaction. My identity as a person is not built upon what I do but rather the quality of work that I complete. I hope to be able to view my work each day and conclude that it was work well done.        teh


August 7, 2017

 

Day 342 of my retirement.               

                                               “The Sounds of the Night”

     Our home is located in a meadow surrounded by woodlands. When we built our home 40 years ago, the trees in the woodland were not as large as they now stand. Their great canopy extends out into the meadow and creates deep shade that is ever encroaching on our yard. In the daytime I enjoy the coolness of this shade and the mottled sunlight that creeps through the heavy canopy of leaves.

     We built our home with most of our windows facing the woodlands and constructed a large deck that extends across the back. We also built a large screened in porch outside our bedroom door on the south side. The screened in porch has become one of my favorite hangouts since my retirement almost a year ago. I love to go there and sit and often use it as a reading room as well.

     In the evenings, we can leave our bedroom door open when the temperature is not too hot, and the breeze that usually is blowing out of the southwest fills our bedroom with fresh air. After sunset the sounds of the night begin to enter our bedroom and adjacent areas. At dusk there is still the sound of birds in the woodland nearby. As darkness finds victory over the fading light, the night sounds change. It is then I hear the sound of insects such as katydids and crickets. Occasionally the chorus of insects is interrupted by the sound of the great horned owl or perchance the screech owl. Both of these nocturnal birds reside not far from our home in hollow cavities of nearby trees. It is the sound of these nocturnal creatures that brings back for me the memories of long ago when I was young and involved in boy scouting. In those days I would lie in my sleeping bag beneath the canvas of my tent and dream of great adventures that would lie ahead the next day.

     Conclusion about this day: Since retirement, my home has become more than a place to sleep and eat. It is also a haven of solitude and place of comfort and rest. It is a place where I can find my private space to enjoy nature and solitude. The sound of the night is my most cherished time for peace and rest from the day.              teh


August 6, 2017

Date 331 of my retirement.

                                             “Reflections on Our Weekend Visitors”

     Tomorrow our friends from Georgia will return to their home in Rome. They have been with us the last five days. It actually seems a much shorter time than that. These past five days have been busy, filled with shared fun and laughter. We had two day trips over the course of these five days. We traveled on the Bardstown Dinner Train yesterday and today we went to Shakertown in Mercer County, Ky. and enjoyed lunch at the Trustee's House. Afterwards we took in an arts and craft show on the Shaker grounds.

     After dinner this evening back home, the four of us sat around the kitchen table and recalled shared memories of the past. We also spoke about future plans when we will meet next time in the Smoky Mountains this autumn. As we are all now retired, it is much easier to plan times to be together. We typically see each other at least twice a year...once here and once in Rome. There is no immediate reason to change that pattern.

     As it always seems to occur, sometime during that last evening we speak about the pain of saying goodbye. The most difficult part of visits either here or there is the mornings when we get up, get dressed and depart. We express our love and affection for each other. We promise that we will call and write emails. And we will do those things. But we realize that our homes are 385 miles apart, so actually seeing each other is something we have to plan several months in advance.

     Conclusions about this day: We had a wonderful day today at Shakertown. We had lunch at the Trustees House and were joined by my daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. We enjoyed walking around in Shakertown even as a gentle mist was falling. The time we spent together with Mike and Reba are part of the fabric of memories past and present that we hold dear. We look forward to the next time our paths once more will join and we will celebrate the occasion once more.     teh


August 5, 2017

Day 340 of my retirement.  

                                                         “Traveling Via Rail”


     Today we tried a new adventure with our friends Mike and Reba from Georgia. We drove to Bardstown, Kentucky and boarded My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train for a lunch ride through Central Kentucky to near Bernheim Forest. The train tickets were a gift from our son and daughter-in-law this past Christmas. We saved the tickets so that we might share the adventure with our Georgia friends.

     Our adventure began in Bardstown, Kentucky where we boarded a 1950s era diesel powered passenger train that was equipped to serve lunch to about 160 guests. The train has been completely restored and equipped to serve all the passengers a fine three-course lunch consisting today of either pot roast or hot brown entrées. The lunch was accompanied by salad, drinks and dessert. I had the hot brown which was quite tasty and served piping hot. The spring mix salad was topped by a honey mustard dressing that was outstanding. Also included were homemade rolls with butter.

     Our lunch portion was very large and we requested a go box to bring most of the food back for another time. No, I did not need dessert!  But I allowed the waitress to serve a raspberry cheesecake that was as good as any cheesecake I've had in the past. Our waitress, Lisa, was very efficient and kept our glasses and cups filled. She got our order correct and seemed anxious that we have a delightful time.

     The train traveled through central Nelson County between Bardstown and Limestone Springs, Kentucky. Then it reversed and returned us to Bardstown. The entire trip was approximately 2 1/2 hours. I definitely will do this trip again as the menu changes every quarter.

     Conclusions about this day: Riding the rails is an adventure many Generation Xers and Millennials have never experienced. It is travel from another era. But it offers a certain pleasure as you experience the gentle sway of the cars. The sound control was excellent with almost no rail noise. The food and service was five-star. And the friends we shared the day with were as always, a joy to be with!                                   teh


August 4, 2017

 Date 339 of my retirement.

                                                  "Hanging Out With Our Friends"

     It is a rare exception to have the opportunity to spend the day with old friends.
Our lives become so busy that the opportunity to spend the day with good friends just does not occur any more. Today was one of those days for us to be with our friends Mike and Reba.

     I especially enjoyed getting up and preparing breakfast for our house-guests. I did that this morning, making my own special waffle recipe along with fresh fruit , sausage and coffee. After breakfast, we gathered out on the screened in porch, drank coffee and recalled stories of past visits and time spent together. It was a beautiful morning today with cool breezes and low humidity. For our friends from Georgia it was a special treat to have such cool weather at this time of year.

     Later today we went for a walk to our neighbor's house and visited there for about an hour. After the visit,we walked across the farm enjoying the beauty of the day. This evening we went to our daughter's house and had dinner with my son's family and my daughter's family. Our friends Mike and Reba are well loved by both of our adult children and their families.

     Conclusion about this day: One of the joys of retirement is having days that are free of other responsibilities so as to allow a leisurely visit with friends and no time limit to what we do. Our evening ended as it began, sitting out on the screened porch and listening to the cicadas sing their summer song. I noted with our friends how many times we had heard those silly insects as we visited together here in Kentucky as well as in Georgia. It was a grand day!   teh


August 3, 2017

Day 336 of my retirement.                  

                                                                   “Reflections on Our Past”

     Today, August 3, 2017 is the 49th anniversary of the day that my wife and I both graduated from college. It was a Saturday, one week before our wedding day. I remember the day was sunny and hot. I recall vaguely receiving my diploma in a large auditorium that was air-conditioned. I don't remember a whole lot more. It seems that my focus was more on the following Saturday and the wedding that would take place that day. There was still much to be done in preparation and little time to do it.

     Five and one-half years later, my wife and I would be living in Palmetto Georgia where I had begun my first full-time employment following graduate school. She had just given birth to our first child, a son born almost 9 months after the completion of my graduate study at U.L. and Baptist Seminary.  We had been living in Georgia but had not gotten to know very many people there. We attended a small Baptist church in Palmetto. The day my son was born was a rainy Tuesday morning. We drove to Atlanta during the morning rush hour and got caught in heavy traffic. My wife was in the backseat having contractions and I was trying to find an exit off of the blocked interstate to find my way to the Georgia Baptist Hospital. I had only been there once before and was now taking a different road than the one I had traveled.

     We arrived at the hospital less than an hour before my son was born. As we were riding up on the elevator to the labor and delivery area, a nurse who looked vaguely familiar to me was riding on that same elevator. She greeted us and reminded us that she attended the same church that we were attending. Later that morning she assisted with the delivery of our son and took a special interest in my wife during the three days that she was hospitalized. My wife commented that this person had been so helpful that she would like for us to invite her and her family over to dinner in a few weeks after we got home. We did have this couple over along with their four-year-old son for dinner.

     Today that nurse and her husband arrived here for a visit and the continuation of a 44 year friendship. We have shared the birth of two additional children. They had another son and we had a daughter. We have also shared the funerals of six parents along with three college graduations and four weddings. Our families have been permanently intertwined over these many years. We have assisted with several home relocations and shared family vacations. We describe them as our "chosen family."

     Conclusions about this day: One of the blessings that I recognize at this time in my life is the joy of the families both by birth and by choice. This weekend we will have the opportunity to spend time with all of the above. My children and grandchildren enjoy our Georgia friends almost as much as we do. What a blessing that is for all!   teh


August 2, 2017

Day 336 of my retirement.             

                                         “Seeing the Completed Picture”

     I spent a large part of today mowing and string trimming the grass in our yard. The mowing project is a bi-weekly activity. I tried to keep the grass somewhere around 3 1/2 inches tall. I know some people cut their grass much shorter but somehow it seems to me that it looks as though it were scalped, especially when we have periods of hot weather and little rain. I usually string trim every other time I mow, but I actually had not done any string trimming in almost a month due to the dry weather conditions. I have a large zero turn riding mower that makes the mowing part pretty easy. The string trimming is not that hard, but on days such as today I found myself sweating a lot of perspiration.

     I enjoy mowing grass. I like the way our property looks when I have completed mowing all that we maintain. I finished the mowing today about 30 minutes before a big rain storm came through. My timing was perfect as it will be a day or two before the grass will be dry enough to mow again. I have a number of flowerbeds that I must mow around, and since they're all bordered with pavers, require additional string trimming. But when I am finished, the flowerbeds look especially nice.

     I have wandered from time to time why I enjoy mowing grass so much. I have reached a tentative conclusion that part of my enjoyment is related to being able to see a job completed when I have finished my mowing task. I contrast the completion idea with my many years in the mental health field.  Often, clients with whom I was involved did not reach a point of completion in a short period of time. I think we all prefer to see a project completed instead of a project still in the works. The grass mowing seems to satisfy that need for me.

     Conclusion about this day: I worked hard today. There is a certain pleasure in hard work. There's also pleasure in completing the job you began. My job is complete for two weeks. Then I will start all over again. But then come late October, we will stop mowing for this growing season. We will put the riding lawn mower in storage in the barn. Then we will begin to dream about green grass in the next spring time.   teh


August 1, 2017

Day 335 of my retirement.                               

                                             “A Thirty Minute Project.”

     We have company from out of town traveling here in a couple of days. I have been watching the extended weather forecast for this weekend and trying to anticipate how the Kentucky weather will be over the next few days. The science of meteorology is not perfect. Nonetheless there seems to be compelling evidence that the weather over the next few days may be cooler than we have been experiencing in the past few weeks.

     My wife and I have been discussing the menu for the time of their visit. We also are planning fun activities that we would like to share with them while they are in town. Tomorrow my wife and I will go to the grocery for our menu items and ingredients. We have made reservations on Saturday and Sunday for venues that will include lunch meals for all of us. Additionally my daughter has planned to have all of us over to her house for a meal sometime this weekend.

     We are cleaning house and straightening up the guestroom so that all will be in order for our guests arrival on Thursday. I had told my son-in-law a few days ago about the ceiling fan in the guest room, and that it had some vibration in it that I thought needing to be fixed. He offered to come over and take a look at it and see what could be done. He came over this afternoon after he got off from work and climbed up into the attic to take a look at the installation of the fan. He suggested that we take the fan down and reconnect the electrical box to the stud so as to get a secure connection there. I was uneasy about my son-in-law going up into the attic while the temperature there was still rather hot. I went to the basement and threw the circuit breaker. My son in law climbed the attic steps without any hesitation. He replaced the box in the attic and quickly came downstairs to reinstall the fan. I provided tools to him and assisted him in holding the disconnected fan in place while he reconnected all the parts. I went to the basement and flipped the circuit breaker and immediately the fan came on without any vibration at all. It was clear to me that my son-in-law had solved the problem.

     My wife and I thanked our son-in-law for his willingness to attack this issue at the end of his workday. He told us that he was glad that he was able to do things like that for us.

     Conclusions about this day: There was a time in the past when I would've undertaken this project by myself. I was most impressed with the confidence that my son-in-law portrayed as he did the repair project correctly the first time. I recognize how blessed I am to have a young man who lives only a couple of miles away, and who is willing to help his in-laws on little projects like this around our home. My daughter married a very fine man. And for that I'm most grateful!


July 31, 2017

 

Day 334 of my retirement.       

                                                       "Gideon Bibles"

     This afternoon I assisted a Gideon brother in the distribution of New Testaments to children at one of the local elementary schools here in the county. This is something I do each year around the beginning of the autumn school semester. The school arranged an open house for parents and children who will be attending that school beginning on Wednesday of this week.

     We arrived early in order to set up our table for the purpose of giving out children's copies of the New Testament of the Holy Bible. We had almost 300 copies available to distribute. The testaments are about three inches by five inches by one inch and have a vinyl cover. Our table was located next to tables offering other services that might be of interest to children or their parents. The services around us included after school care, pediatric medical care, scouting and nutrition. We stood at the table assigned to us and handed out the small copies of the New Testament that also included Psalms. Over the course of almost 2 hours, we handed out about 170 copies.

     I found it interesting to note the expressions on the faces of the children as well as their parents as we offered these gifts. Most children gladly received these free copies of the scripture. Most parents insisted that their child say “thank you” for this item. Less than 10 children, when I offered a copy, declined. Several children said that they already had a Bible but when I suggested they might share this copy with a friend, they seemed pleased and excited at that idea.

     Conclusion about this day: I enjoy this annual distribution of Scripture. The public schools along with hotels, motels and hospitals are important locations where the Gideon organization focuses on giving out new copies of the Holy Bible. I do not take this privilege lightly. I understand the possibility that someday we will not be allowed to give these Bibles to children at the public schools. But for now while we still can, we will continue to do so as that is a part of the Gideon mission here in Shelby County.       teh


July 30, 2017

 Day 334 of my retirement.                              

                                                         "Oh Ye of Little Faith”

     I teach a couples Bible study class on Sundays. I share this teaching responsibility with my good friend Tom Adkisson. We have co-taught this class for about 20 years. You would think that with this many years having been the teacher, I would get to know my class very well, and in fact I think I do. I have great respect for each and every member of the class. Our class is about 40 members strong and averages somewhere between 25 and 30 people present on most Sundays.
     Today we had 24 present. A few weeks ago, our class was invited to participate in a “backpack project” led by our Church Missions Committee. This project was intended to assist inner-city children in the Cincinnati, Ohio area who would be in need of clothing and school supplies at the beginning of a new school year. It was my understanding that Baptist churches throughout Kentucky and southern Ohio would attempt to fill 5000 backpacks that would be distributed to needy children this fall. I further understood that our church set as a goal to fill 48 backpacks.

     When the challenge was issued to our class, I had a little bit of concern about participating in this project. You see our class also supports Samaritans Purse and their annual Christmas shoe box project. For the last two years, our class has filled 100 boxes to be sent to needy children somewhere in the world. I was concerned that this backpack project might distract from the Samaritans Purse Christmas shoe boxes. I suggested to the class that we offere to fill two backpacks. I thought somehow this would show support for the backpack project but maintain our class focus on the Samaritan Purse project.

     Today was the day that we counted up our contribution to the backpack project. Well, our class slightly exceeded my recommendation of two backpacks. Our class filled 21 backpacks! I was thrilled and amazed. I also felt guilty that I had so little faith that our class could do more then fill only two backpacks. Next Sunday we will begin another project to once more fill 100 shoe boxes for Samaritans Purse. I believe we will succeed at this project also.

     Conclusions about this day: Someone reminded me today that “you can never out give God”! I am blessed to be a co-teacher of such a wonderful group of adult couples. They are loving people who are willing to share when a need is identified. I pray that we will meet our Samaritans Purse goal or maybe even exceedit. But whatever the number turns out to be, I know that these are people who love each other as well as children around the world they have never even met. What a joy to be a part of that group. Now I will work on my own feeble faith!          teh

July 29, 2017

Day 333 of my retirement.                               

                                                           “Retirement?"

     Today is Saturday. Throughout my working career Saturday was the day to catch up on all of the chores and farm duties that I had not gotten done during the past week. It usually is a busy day but one in which I look forward to being productive. Since retirement, every day is a little bit like Saturday. The one difference is that my children and grandchildren have the day off as well. So as a result we often plan our day around activities with our children.

     Today my day began at 6 AM when my alarm went off and alerted me to a 7 o'clock meeting at Cracker Barrel with my Gideon brothers. The meeting ended at eight, and I drove home quickly in anticipation of the work that lay ahead of me today. My son-in-law Chris arrived not long after I got home. We had planned to take two large logs to a sawmill in Bagdad, Kentucky. We used our tractor with the front end loader to carefully load the logs on our trailer, then secured them with chains and made the drive of about 20 minutes to the mill. We were home in less than an hour. We then spent another hour loading smaller logs on the trailer and taking them over to our son-in-law's farm where we planned to cut them into firewood size blocks and split them with our log splitter. t This would give us a head start on our winter heating and provide wood for maple syrup cooking next January.

     By the time we had moved the logs to where we could split them, it was time for lunch. It was a late lunch as it was 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Our family enjoys the hamburgers from Southville, Kentucky and the Cariss General store. My son-in-law and grandchildren rode with me to pick up the burgers. My grandchildren know that if they get to go along they will get to choose some treat at the general store. So in addition to the burgers we made a special purchase of Oreo cookies and candies for my two youngest grandchildren. I jokingly said that someday my grandchildren will remember me not for who I was but as the one who bought them sweet treats at the general store on Saturdays.

     After lunch my son-in-law and I went back to splitting wood and cutting logs into blocks. We worked until about 4 o'clock when the log splitter broke down. Since it was too late to do anything about it today, we decided that we would stop and I would take the splitter to the small engine repair on Monday. While my son-in-law and I were working outside, my wife and daughter were making pasta sauce out of tomatoes from our family garden. I stayed until 6 o'clock helping to clean up the kitchen from the tomato project that was wrapping up.

     I came home and took a shower while my wife warmed up leftovers for dinner. It is now 7:30 PM and our day is about to be over. That is until my wife said that we needed to go to our garden and check on the squash and beans.

     Conclusions about this day: I'm not sure last year I had a realistic understanding of retirement. No, I don't go to the office daily. But I continue to be active and enjoy the life I'm living. I look forward to other days here on the farm doing the things we do both individually as well as a part of a larger family unit. Farm life is different. But I celebrate the difference that I am experiencing.                        teh


July 28, 2017

Day 332 of my retirement.                             

                                                           “Counterfeit Dollars”

     My wife and I had several stops to make today as we drove to Middletown, Kentucky. We had planned to eat lunch at a pizza restaurant that we had tried earlier in the week with our grandson and found to be of our liking. We also needed to go to a big box store and buy groceries in anticipation of our Georgia guests coming next week. Our lunch and grocery shopping went without any difficulty. Of course we always spend more on groceries then we anticipate. But we were purchasing food for four adults for part of the week.

     After completing our grocery shopping, we stopped at a pet store to purchase a bag of kitty treats that our house cat seems to enjoy. Since the purchase was small, my wife decided to pay cash, so reached into her purse and pulled out a $10 bill. The cashier took the $10 bill and held it up to a light to establish whether or not it was counterfeit. We both felt some embarrassment at this act by the cashier. My wife responded to the cashier telling her that the money had been received from my bank just a few hours before. I acknowledge that if the money were counterfeit she received it from our bank just a few hours before. The cashier determined that the money was good and gave my wife the appropriate change. After we departed the business I told my wife that though I understood the need to make sure that money exchanged was legal, it creates an awkward relationship between customer and business.

     As we were driving home, I thought about other means by which a business can ensure that money exchanged is legal. It seems as though we are in an era where credit cards provide both the customer and the business with a higher level of security without creating an embarrassing confrontation by challenging the validity of cash used for small payments. I pay for most of my purchases with a credit card. But a purchase of less than four dollars allowed me to opt for a cash payment. Maybe I should rethink my response to situations like that in the future.

     Conclusion about this day: Once upon a time, people engaged in much of their business transactions with people whom they knew personally. Knowing your customer personally makes it far more likely that there will be no need for questions or interrogations of a customer who is attempting to engage in some business dealings. Local businesses here in Shelbyville have said for years that they want local residents to shop Shelbyville first. I have tried to do that. I will continue to try to take business where I can to Shelbyville businesses. But there are just some transactions that will always need to take place in a larger city. That may continue to be a problem for me. One possibility is that I will use my plastic for all my commercial transactions. So sad!     teh


 July 27, 2017

Date 331 of my retirement.                             

                                                         “Fish and Shrimp”

     Today I had a busy schedule that resulted in my being away from home all afternoon and well up into the evening. I also had an evening meeting I needed to attend. As a result I was not able to go home for dinner tonight. Instead I went to one of the few fast food restaurants that I consistently enjoy. It is a local L.J.S. seafood restaurant that is located just a few hundred feet from my church where my evening meeting was scheduled to take place. I had plenty of time to place my order, sit down and eat it there. I visit this restaurant maybe once a month. I have found an item on their menu that I find particularly enticing. It is fried cod, shrimp, French fries and coleslaw.

     The last couple of times I have patronized this restaurant a certain employee has waited on me.  I found that employee to be very helpful and courteous in taking my order and filling it correctly. Today a different lady waited on me and was taking my order when a couple of neighbors from down the road came up and spoke to me. I was distracted from my order in my desire to converse with my neighbors. My conversation lasted 2 to 3 minutes. Somewhere during this conversation I realized that I had not completed my order nor paid for my meal. I turned back to the waitress and apologized for the delay. She was not at all distressed and assisted me in the completion of my order in a timely way.

     I turned back to my neighbors and spoke a few moments longer before they left the restaurant. I turned back to the counter and the waitress handed me my drink cup and told me that my food would be ready in a moment. I didn't realize that she had not prepared the order so that my food would remain hot when it was served to me. I was very impressed with her thoughtfulness in doing that.

     Conclusion about this day: Sometimes we take note of big things that occur in our lives. Sometimes it is the little things that make a difference. This same waitress who had been so courteous with me while I placed my order later came to my table and asked if my food was satisfactory and if there was anything else I required. I thanked her and told her that my meal was very nice and that I needed nothing else. I will acknowledge that my waitress was closer to Boomer age then many people who work in fast food restaurants. Nonetheless my experience was excellent and I clearly will go there again the next time I have a hankering for some good seafood!   teh


July 26, 2017

Day 330 of my retirement.                              

                                                    "Off to College Shopping"

     Today my wife and I scheduled the day to go shopping with our oldest grandson in preparation for leaving for college in about three weeks. He will be attending Oxford College in Oxford, Georgia. My grandson desires to go into pre-medicine and had discovered that Oxford College/Emory University had an excellent reputation for pre-med degrees.

     We scheduled this day several weeks ago anticipating that we would have some trouble finding time to make this happen. Our grandson arrived on time and driving his automobile. He suggested that he drive today, and we told him that would be fine. We drove initially to the Mall on Shelbyville Road and visited several young people’s stores for clothing. It was a real adventure for me in the stores as I have not had reason to go in them for many years. One thing that caught my attention was that blue jeans being sold there were in worse condition than what I would've expected to find in a used clothing store with those pants were being rejected as in too bad of condition for anyone to wear. The pants had multiple tears with the cuffs shredded and gave the appearance that the person wearing them needed a handout.

     Our grandson has a good taste in clothing and was able to make several selections of shirts and pants (without tears or rips) for wearing at college. We next went to the Oxmoor Mall and proceeded to purchase two more shirts in two different stores there. I found myself thinking that if they turn down the music volume, customers might shop longer and buy more. No one seemed to notice the volume of the sound.

     Before calling it a day we stopped at a fine pizza establishment in Middletown, Kentucky and enjoyed homemade pizza. My grandson insisted that he pay for all of our lunches even though I tried to convince him that this would be our treat  But he would have none of it. Our day ended about six hours after it began. When we arrived back home he came in our house and stayed to visit another 30 minutes or so.

     Conclusions about this day: This was a wonderful day and one that I will treasure for many years to come. Yes we spent some money on our grandson in order to better prepare him for going off to college. We also ade some purchases of a new computer printer and other items for his room. But he never pressed us to buy anything that we were not willing to purchase. Furthermore, he repeatedly passed up other purchases because in his words, the items were not worth the price posted on them.

     We were very impressed with his driving ability and his caution. We were also impressed with the display of judgment and the expression of gratitude that we received when he finally left for  home. We look forward with excitement and enthusiasm to the next chapter in his interesting life.   teh


July 25, 2017

Day 330 of my retirement.                               

                                   “The Privilege of Spending a Day with your Grandchildren”

     Today my almost four year old grandson spent the day at our house. He can at times be quite a challenge to keep up with. He is like a sponge always soaking up new information which he seems to be insatiably curious about.

     This morning was beautiful with the temperature lower than recent days and humidity less oppressive than it ,has been in the last week. My wife suggested that we take our grandson and go to the Louisville Zoo for a brief outing. I agreed and we quickly made preparation for a half day trip. We packed a small cooler with bottles of water and a change of clothes as our grandson is not totally reliable about remembering when he needs to go to the bathroom.

     As annual members of the zoo, we visit a number of times throughout the year. Our focus today was on the butterfly exhibit which is a new display this summer. The exhibit is housed inside a greenhouse made of netting filled with flowers that butterflies are drawn to. My grandson as well as Granddad seemed to enjoy the many different colors of butterflies we saw there.

     After leaving the butterflies we visited the elephants and my grandson's favorite, the giraffes. He then informed us that he urgently needed to find a bathroom. We took him to the nearest restroom and my wife took him inside. I sat down in the shade near a food service vendor and waited their return. While seated there, I observed two grandmotherly ladies with two small children. They were eating a sack lunch they appeared to have brought from home. One of the children was finished eating and was jumping from one bench to another. In the process of jumping he fell to the floor without any serious harm. One grandmother said to the other, “If I allow my grandchild to get hurt my daughter will withhold privilege of my having my grandchild in my home again”.

     I wasn't sure whether this was indeed what she believed or not. But I was reminded of a very important fact. As a grandparent we are not guaranteed interaction with our grandchildren just because of our biological relationship. Adult children have been known to withhold interaction between grandparent and grandchild for any variety of reasons that may or may not seem fair or reasonable. As a grandparent I recognize the importance of any occasion that I have with any of my grandchildren.

     Conclusions about this day: Going to the zoo may not seem that important. But it was a successful outing with my grandson on a beautiful day in July. (Just five months until Christmas). Ahh, The joy and fatigue of a day with our grandchild!                         teh


July 24, 2017

Date 227 of my retirement.                             

                                                       “My Funny Shaped Family Tree”

     I have, for many years, been a student of my family genealogy, particularly with my father's family of origin. My interest for family trees is linked to the fact that I was able to utilize research by other people to enhance my own family history and the information that I have acquired. As a result I’ve been able to trace my father's family back to New Jersey in the 1600s. I also have done research with my mother's family and can go back into the 1700s with that branch.

     A couple of weeks ago I was able to attend a family reunion with some of my mother's family. Many of my cousins share an interest in genealogy. I spent part of the afternoon with three of my cousins discussing family history and stories pertaining to our shared maternal grandparents. Several people had brought old photographs that I had not seen before that go back 60 or more years. I carefully photographed those old images so I would have a decent copy of these unique pictures. A greater value for me though is the sharing of family stories that allow me to acquire a still larger body of knowledge about who I am and where I came from.

     I'm reasonably certain that my family tree is no different than most people and their family trees. We have a few strange branches and some gnarly wood in there somewhere. But all things considered, I still find it rewarding to learn about family members who came before me. Who knows what will my descendants will be saying about me a hundred years from now?

     Conclusion about this day: I spent more than an hour researching one of the photographs of my grandmother taken more than 40 years ago. It was a photograph I had not seen before. And in the photograph were a calendar and a wall clock. The subjects gave me a fairly clear time frame for when this image was made. Although there was nothing special about the photo at the time, it allowed me many years later to reflect upon my grandmother and a day in her life. She had a very special effect upon my life!    teh


July 23, 2017

Day 326 of my retirement.                             

                                           “Cabbage, Cabbage, Cabbage”!

     We have been especially blessed this year with a garden that has exceeded our expectation for production. We planted this year in the usual amount of space. We planted the same array of vegetables that we plant every year. But somehow this year was different. Our garden has exceeded our usual harvest with a number of items. This has been true with onions, potatoes, green beans and cabbage. With each of the successes, it has been necessary to find some way to utilize the harvest. We have canned lots of beans. We have stored the potatoes and onions in the root cellar. But the cabbage has been a bit of a challenge. Our family's taste for cabbage has been limited with fresh cabbage and making things other than coleslaw.

     My daughter asked me the other day about other recipes using cabbage. Personally I like cooked cabbage. But only my son-in-law likes it also. So I went to the internet to look for other recipes involving cabbage. Almost immediately I came across a recipe that I had not used ever before. But a recipe that fascinated me almost immediately. It was a recipe for stuffed cabbage. I told my daughter about the recipe and she responded with the request that I make it sometime. I told her I would. Then she said how about making it Sunday evening. This Sunday evening? Her response was why not?

     So I found myself challenged to make a new recipe today and serve it to my daughter and her family having never tasted it myself. The recipe was fairly easy and looked enticing in content. I decided to change the spices in the recipe a bit since it looked a little bland for me. The recipe came out well and I served it tonight. I got rave reviews. In fact the large dish was emptied over the course of the dinner. I wondered if the success with the recipe was a blessing or a curse. Now with the rave reviews, will I have to make it again?

     Conclusions about this day: Success has its costs. Of course I will be pleased to prepare this dish again. I confess that I had some trepidation about serving the stuffed cabbage to my daughter and her family having never tried it before. But now that I know it to be a good recipe, I will do so next time with much more confidence. I still classify myself as a breakfast cook but maybe I will expand my capabilities to dinner as well.

The Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups water   
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice   
  • 8 cabbage leaves   
  • 1 pound lean ground beef   
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion   
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten   
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper   
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup   
  • Add all ingredients 

Directions

  • Prep 20 m
  • Cook 40 m
  • Ready in 1 hour
  • In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Bring a large, wide saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add cabbage leaves and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until softened; drain.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, 1 cup cooked rice, onion, egg, salt and pepper,spices along with 2 tablespoons of tomato soup. Mix thoroughly.
  • Divide the beef mixture evenly among the cabbage leaves. Roll and secure them with toothpicks or string.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, place the cabbage rolls and pour the remaining tomato soup over the top. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring and basting with the liquid often.

July 22, 2017
 

Day 326 of my retirement.                              

                                                    “The Blessing of Friends”

     Most Saturday mornings I go to the Cracker Barrel to meet a group of men who make up the Shelby camp of Gideons International. I am a member of this organization. Our group usually is somewhere between five and eight men. Our meetings begin at 7 AM and last for about an hour. Gideons throughout the United States meet at the same time in different locations throughout the country. Our meetings consist of discussing the work of the Gideon ministry, sharing prayer concerns and praying for those concerns. Then lastly, we have breakfast together.

     I have only been a member of the Gideons a short time. However many of the men in this group I have known for many years as we attend the same church in Shelbyville. It is a pleasure and a joy to attend this meeting weekly. I sometimes ask myself why I choose to set my alarm on a Saturday morning to go to a meeting when I could sleep in. The honest answer is that I believe in the work of the Gideons. I believe in the importance of placing Bibles in schools, motels, hospitals and jails. The second reason that I arise early on Saturday is because I enjoy the friendship of these men around the table.

     In my retirement I have become more appreciative of the importance of friendships. I now recognize the blessing that God gives us through friendships with people who share common values and interests. I am blessed to have friends that are both male and female. I count each friendship as a special gift from God. I treasure that gift and try not to damage that gift.

     Conclusion about this day: I'm not sure how many friends would be considered too many. I'm not sure there is such a number. But I am careful not to overlook the uniqueness of each friendship. Friendship is like a garden. It must be cultivated so that the weeds do not outgrow the planting. For a garden to be fruitful it must be tended on a regular basis. In retirement, I have a bit more time to do such things. I will look forward to a fruitful garden in my retirement life.                      teh


July 21, 2017

Day 325 of my retirement   

                                                     "Strange Vittles"                                                                                                                                                                   
     According to the weather service, today was the hottest day in Louisville in three years. At my house the temperature was 95°. I'm not sure what the heat index was here on the farm. This evening after the sun was below the tree line I worked in the garden for about 30 minutes only to come in the house soaking wet with sweat and needing to take a shower. This was one of those days that it was just too hot to work outside very long.

     On days like this, there is little desire to turn on the stove to cook a hot meal. Sandwiches and salads seem much more to my liking. This is also the kind of day where leftovers can be quite attractive. I recall the other day telling my grandchildren about the kind of leftovers I would eat as a child in the heat of summer. One of my favorite leftover summertime meals was a tomato sandwich. Whenever we had sliced tomatoes, and there was any leftover it was always put in the refrigerator to be consumed later that day. Finding a cold slice of tomato in the refrigerator was a guarantee for a sandwich made only of bread, tomato and mayonnaise.

     Another summertime favorite for me was cold white rice served for breakfast with butter, milk and a little sugar. My mother would never throw away rice that had been cooked for a prior meal. She would always put it in a dish and save it in the ice box knowing that someone might eat it for breakfast the next day.

     And of course how could I forget a summertime treat that I would recall as early as age five or six in my life. That treat was cold butter milk from my grandmother’s cellar house poured into a glass with cornbread crumbled in the liquid. You could either eat it with a spoon or you could drink it straight out of the glass.

     Conclusion about this day: Hot July days cause me to look for food that doesn't require cooking or heating up the house with the stove. I welcome cool treats that allowed me to cool my body from inside out!


July 20, 2017

Day 324 of my retirement.                
                              
                                                   “Grand-Kids, Grand Day!”

     Since my retirement last year, my wife and I have enjoyed the presence of our two youngest grandchildren, ages three and six, two days a week. During the summertime when school is not in session, our grandchildren are able to spend the entire day with us. During the school year, our six-year-old granddaughter is only with us a few hours per day.

     Having grandchildren in your house can be challenging both from the perspective of energy as well as maintaining some degree of different activities that will engage these young minds. I confess that my wife is the more creative of the two of us, so that she plans different activities each day that they are with us. Our day is usually broken down into mealtimes, nap time and playtime. I cook the breakfast and my wife cooks the lunch. We plan meals that are nutritious but also include foods that we have come to expect our grandchildren to enjoy. For example they love fresh fruit ,and they love dairy products. We build our meals around these facts.

     Nap times are not always easy to implement. That is due to the fact that our grandchildren want to squeeze as much time into their visit as possible. They fail to realize that nap time is also rest time for grandparents. Play time at our house involves reading books and engaging in activities that allow them to make things or build things. We have acquired over the years a number of toys that encourage creative thinking. For some reason the grandchildren seem to enjoy these toys in particular.

     Conclusion about this day: We enjoy the visits of our grandchildren a great deal. But we usually are quite happy when it is time for them to return home. I recognize that with both of us being over 70 years of age, we do not possess the stamina that we had 20 years ago. We will continue to enjoy them being with us nonetheless.


July 19, 2017

Day 224 of my retirement.                                              

                                            “Road Rage and Dark Tinted Windows”

     Today was the day that my wife and I made our return to Shelbyville from Rome, Georgia. We were up at 6 AM and on the road shortly after 6:30. We hoped to get beyond Chattanooga, Tennessee before the morning rush hour. We actually made our goal by shortly after 8:00.  We found a "barrel" just east of Chattanooga where we dined on “Grandma's Sampler” which we ordered with a spare plate so that we could split the meal. My wife and I have come to realize that restaurants may serve meals too large for our physical needs. So we often split a meal between the two of us.

     The early part of our drive was fairly uneventful and without much excitement or fanfare. It was only beyond Knoxville that we began to encounter heavy traffic with lots of semi trailers adding to the congestion brought on by occasional road repairs. My wife and I traded off on who drove what part of the trip. As fate would have it, my wife was driving during this particular part of our travel. We experienced several very fast moving vehicles swerving in and out of lanes between vehicles creating a hazard for those who were driving closer to the speed limit. I noticed that the driver of these fast moving vehicles was usually young and appeared to be male. They tend to drive sporty cars and almost always seem to have part of their windows tinted so as to provide some degree of anonymity to the reckless driving.

     Conclusions about this day: One does not have to stretch very much to conclude that these fast driving individuals are part of the source of all the road rage. I heard on the news today that the frequency of road rage involving shootings has doubled in just two years nationwide. The aggressiveness of these drivers creates a situation where people traveling on the same road at the same time are likely be caught in a response of anger and emotional outburst toward them. I was grateful to get home without any difficulty. I hope these dangerous drivers arrived at their destination as well. I believe we are seeing an entire generation of young adults who have almost no impulse control and as a result can do harmful things without much provocation. I suspect part of the murder rate in large metropolitan cities is linked directly to this kind of out of control behaviors by young male adults.  Maybe we need to go back to requiring everyone to take some kind of driving school before issuing a driver's license. That's just my thought about such a challenging drive home from Georgia.    teh


July 18, 2017
 
Day 320 of my retirement.

                                        "Creating Memories with my Friends"

     We have spent a few days with our friends Mike and Reba in Rome, Georgia.  Just before we departed for our home in Shelbyville on our last morning there, Mike noted that a heavy ground fog was present along the Etowah River just a short distance from their home. Mike suggested that he take his pick up truck and drive us down to the boat ramp a few miles away to catch the sunrise through the fog. I thought it might be a nice photo op at this riverside location.

     We drove down to the river and parked near the boat ramp. We carefully walked through the wet grass to the river's edge. The fog was lifting fast and I did not get a good shot of the fog bank. But I did get some nice shots up and down the river. We stayed there several minutes together just enjoying the beauty of this location. I told my friend Mike that I would remember this morning a very long time. I told him that the beauty of the location and his thinking about my photography interest would cause me to think of this time in years to come.

     Conclusion about this day: As I have gotten older, I've become more aware of the importance of quality time with friends in creating memories that will last for the remainder of both of our lives. There actually was nothing very special about a drive of a couple miles to a muddy river by two grandfathers who have known each other more than forty years...except the drive was initiated by a friend who thought about creating a special memory for me one summer morning as our visit was coming to an end, and neither really wanted to say goodbye!     teh

July 17, 2017
Date 321 of my retirement.

                                                       "Turn Around, Turn Around"

     I remember the day I began my college studies almost 50 years ago. It was a time of stress and uncertainty for me about my future. I did not know what field of study that I would pursue. I was not even certain that I was intellectually capable of graduating from a liberal arts college. I was introduced to a whole cadre of new friends and faculty. And with much uncertainty, I was exploring a relationship with a young lady who would eventually become my wife.

     Today I visited a college campus near Covington, Georgia where my grandson is enrolled to begin his college career in just a few weeks. It was a strange feel to walk around on a beautiful college campus during the summertime when no students were present. The campus was very laid-back, and I was afforded a personalized tour by a sophomore student who also attends Emory University. He spoke very candidly about his transition to college life and his success in his first year away from his home in Houston ,Texas. We toured a number of the classroom buildings as well as the library and chapel. It was clear to me that a school like this can well prepare a young person for a career in whatever field he may choose.

     I found myself wondering what my grandson will think and feel his first day at this fine university. I wondered what new friendships would begin, some of which might become lifelong friends. I also wondered if he would meet a certain young lady there who might later become his wife. I wondered what career choices will come from this education and training over these next four years.

     Conclusions about this day: Life has many crossroads. Some of these crossroads we anticipate well in advance and are able to make successful navigation through the intersections. Other crossroads or more complicated and may even require re-doing a part of our life more than once. I was blessed that I was able to make those key life decisions without a major redo. While on campus, my wife and I offered a prayer of thanksgiving and a prayer for wisdom that our grandson will use this campus and the time he spends there to successfully prepare himself for the rest of his life.      teh

July 16. 2017
 
Day 317 of my retirement.
                                                            "Family Traditions"

     My wife and I have been greatly blessed with having old friends who we have known for almost 44 years. These friends we met quite by chance at the time of our first child's birth at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. The nurse assigned to care for my wife during the delivery of our son was someone who my wife felt very close to after the successful delivery.  She suggested some days later that we invite this couple along with their small son, Michael, to our apartment for dinner. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

     We have shared funerals, weddings, family moves and graduations. We think of each other as biological kin though we share no physical connection . It is difficult to keep track of all of the things we have done including family vacations together.

     One of the traditions that we hold of special importance is our card playing nights around the kitchen table. Hearts, crazy eights, and rook are some of the games we have spent long hours together playing. Rook is probably the longest tradition we have maintained. It is usually the guys against the gals. Today, that tradition continued with still another chapter. The game was intense with the lead going back-and-forth between the guys and the girls. In the end, the guys prevailed only buy a hair.
     
     Conclusions about this day: Maintaining certain traditions is another way to sustain long-standing relationships. I cannot describe how important this friendship has become over the many years we have known each other. We have progressed from young adults to middle-age and now older adults side-by-side. We do not know what the future may hold. But I am confident that regardless of what lies ahead, we will have their support as they have ours as well. I look forward to sharing more games of rook around some kitchen table still for many years to come.   teh

 

July 15, 2017

Day 316 of my retirement.

                                                  "Family Gatherings"

     My father's side of the family is very small. In fact other than my wife, children and grandchildren, I have no other biological kin. On the other hand, my mother;s side of the family is quite large. I have countless cousins, but I see them only rarely. I spoke with one cousin down in southern Kentucky some months ago and suggested that we have a family gathering this year. We eventually agreed upon a central location for my southern Kentucky relatives. That location was to be Sulfur Well, Kentucky in Metcalf county.  My mother's family lives around Greensburg, Columbia and Bowling Green Kentucky. Sulfur well is in that general area. My cousin Anna suggested a local restaurant that is noted for their good food . It is located in "downtown" Sulfur Well. So reservations were made for a group of 24 cousins and family to meet.

     That meeting took place today. I had not been to Sulfur Well since my childhood. It had not changed much but still remained an isolated park setting with a nasty smelling spring of water that gushed from a concrete housing. We dined across the road from the park at a place called the Lighthouse Restaurant. I made the mistake and ordered the buffet. You see the buffet includes catfish, country ham and fried chicken. And then of course there are the seven or eight country vegetable dishes that accompanied these entrées. I could easily have made a lunch out of the vegetables alone.

     One room in the restaurant was filled with my kinfolks. We sat at two long tables with every seat filled. After lunch we walked about 50 yards to the home of another of my cousins. This home is quite large and easily accommodated the entire family who gathered there for dessert and reminiscing. Tall stories were told but also family history was shared some of which I had never heard before. I tried to take copious notes and also videotaped a little bit of the oral history told by my one surviving aunt. I recognized as she spoke that when she is gone there will be no connection to the generation that she represents.

     Conclusions about this day: Family history is a vital part of our family roots. The collection of this history is essential to pass on to subsequent generations. It is more than the collection of photographs. It is also the collection of the family memories. I pray that there will be further occasions where we can celebrate our past. The afternoon ended with the scheduling of another family gathering one year from now. I pray that we all will be there around that table.   teh

July 14, 2017

Day 317 of my retirement.                              

                                          “A Close Encounter with the Drug Scene in Frankfort”

     My wife and I had a busy afternoon today. We were out picking vegetables in the garden till after 6 PM. We both were quite hot and tired. After we had showered, we agreed to go out to dinner at a restaurant in Frankfort, Kentucky. Neither of us was very particular at that point about where we might dine. We agreed on a restaurant that we often visit, and where we can get good food in a timely way.

     Tonight when we arrived at the restaurant I noted that most of the tables were already occupied. It was Friday evening and about 7 PM. I concluded that since it was a Friday night and people had been paid today maybe it was just an occasion when many people were eating out. We were seated at a table and the waitress came quickly to take our drink order as well as our food order. She returned with our drinks and our salad. Then the wait began. As we waited for our food I began to notice that many tables had not been served their food.

     We had a very good waitress who was extremely apologetic for the delay in our food. She attempted to do whatever she could to accommodate us as we waited. She refilled our glasses twice and apologized profusely for the food delay. Finally she spoke in a very soft voice and informed us that the regular cooks in the kitchen either quit or were fired. She whispered that there was a drug problem among the kitchen workers. The waitress stated that though she had been there more than three years, the kitchen help was always coming and going. She also whispered that the store managers were the acting cooks tonight.

     Our food finally arrived more than 30 minutes after our initial order had been placed. When the food was served, it was hot and tasty. But any thoughts about a quick dinner out had been dashed by the back-up in the kitchen.

     Conclusion about this day: We have dined at this restaurant many times. In the past the service has been as good as the food quality. Tonight having to wait 30 minutes for our food order took away the pleasure of dining out. We will give this restaurant another chance to demonstrate their ability to provide good food in a timely way. I suspect our waitress was telling us the reality about low paid workers and their vulnerability to street drugs. The future for these individuals is not very bright I fear.     teh


July 13, 2017

Day 315 of my retirement

                                                       "Sneaky Snake Gets Caught!"

     I got up and was out early this morning. I had several things to do here on the farm before I had appointments in town for the rest of the day. I knew this was going to be another hot day and wanted to get my hot chores done before the day got any warmer. I walked out to my barn, turned on the lights and was gathering equipment for making a final planting of bush beans in the garden. I was carrying my hoe, a bag of fertilizers and some bean seed. As I opened the back door of the barn and began my walk through the shed toward the garden, I happened to look down at the ground. Whoa! There lying on the ground in the barn shed was a very large black snake. I recognized immediately that it was not a venomous snake. But it was one of the biggest snakes I have seen in several years.

     The big black snake was caught in a pile of plastic netting that I use to cover fruit trees in blueberry bushes to protect the fruit from birds that would eat it. It appeared as though the snake attempted to crawl into the netting either for protection or to pursue potentially its breakfast. Though it had crawled about a foot into the netting the other 2 1/2 feet were stuck outside the netting and the snake could neither crawl forwards or backwards. Once I overcame the surprise of seeing this large serpent lying in my barn I set about securing the snake's head, and once having done so, called my wife to bring me a pair of scissors so that I could extricate the reptile from the netting.

     About six weeks ago while working in my flower garden, I came across a large snake skin that had been shed by a snake of greater than 3 feet in length. At the time of discovering this skin, I wondered where the snake might be. Knowing that snakes do not move that great of a distance, I expected to some day come across that critter. Today I'm convinced I found that critter.

     I do not kill snakes. I recognize that snakes have a place in our world and in my garden. I  prefer to see a snake before the snake sees me. In all of my years here on the farm, I have never seen a venomous snake. I have seen venomous snakes in Tennessee but not here in Shelby County. I never considered killing the snake today. I was convinced that I needed to extract the snake from its trap or it would die.

     After cutting and snipping for about five minutes, I was able to release the snake from the netting. When I let go of the snake's head, it gave me a clear indication that although unharmed, it was not happy with me. I used my hoe to lift and carry the snake some 100 yards to the edge of the woodland and released it there. My last sighting of the snake was it heading in the opposite direction from where I was located.

     Conclusion about the day: Snakes of all kinds have a place in our world. I do not want to find them in my house, but finding them in my barn I can live with. I actually felt some degree of success that I was able to release this very large snake with a minimum of stress and injury to the animal. In my retirement I hope to be able to teach my grandchildren the importance of respect for all of God's creations including the cold, dry, slithering, serpentine critters that inhabit the dark corner of my tool barn.


July 12, 2017

Day 315 of my retirement.    

                                              “The hottest day of the year------ so far”!

     The clock says it is 3:36 in the afternoon. I have two outdoor thermometers. One is on the south side of my house and the other is on the west side of my house. Both thermometers hang in a shady spot. Presently one thermometer says 94° and the other says 95°. I suspect the correct temperature is somewhere close to the average of those two thermometers. In terms of my record keeping, this is the warmest day of the year 2017, so far.

     I had watched the weather on TV last night. The forecast was that today would be the hottest day of this week. The extended forecast suggests that there will be other hot days. But today is the hottest day we've had this year at my house. I anticipated the heat today. I got out fairly early this morning and ran the roto-tiller through the garden. As soon as I finish the garden work, I got on my riding lawn mower and began to mow the five or so acres that I maintain as yard space here on the farm. I continued to work open till around 2 o'clock this afternoon. At that time I decided to call it a day with regard to outside work. I came to the house and remove my sweaty clothes and jumped in the shower. After cooling off and getting dressed, I ate a late lunch of stuffed peppers.

     Conclusions about this day: as a retired adult, I have the latitude of deciding when I will work and when I will rest. It is much easier to work early in the day before it gets so hot. Once the heat becomes oppressive, I can now go to the coolness of my air-conditioned home and enjoy not having to work and be so uncomfortable in the extreme heat. I remind myself that there are many men who must work throughout the day in spite of the heat and humidity. I did that as a younger man. Now I can be grateful that I can enjoy a different schedule!               teh


July 11,2017

 Day 314 of my retirement.

                                                  "New Friends and a New Organization"

     Strange questions were asked. Questions about whether or not I had ever participated in a duel, had been a second in a duel or whether or not I had ever facilitated a dual. I almost chuckled when the questions were asked. But I had my right hand raised and thought better of taking it too lightly, so I gritted my teeth and said no I had never done any of these things. And so began my experience as a member of a licensing board for counselors in the state of Kentucky.

     I learned about this appointment only about a week ago. Then yesterday I received in the mail a document suitable for framing indicating my appointment for four years. I drove to the meeting this morning with some excitement and a little bit of uncertainty about what the meeting would be like. I allowed myself almost an hour extra to make sure that I got to my destination on time even if I got lost in the process. Actually my GPS took me to my location with almost no difficulty. I arrived at my destination either 15 minutes late or 45 minutes early. My ambiguity is the result of arriving late for a meeting that I really was not expected to attend today. But since I arrived so early, I was invited to sit in on that meeting as well.

     The licensing board consists of seven professionals. There were a couple other people there in the form of representatives from the legal community as well as from the professional community. It turns out I felt very comfortable in the setting and with the other people around the table. I will look forward to these monthly meetings in the future.

     Conclusions about this day: I am discovering that in retirement, there are new opportunities for creative thinking. I believe this board membership will afford me the opportunity to continue to make a contribution to the geographic and professional community in which I reside. I believe that my life experience will serve me well as I participate as a member of a professional licensing organization. The other people around the licensing table are much younger than I am. Maybe that's what will make my contribution special.


July 10, 2017

Day 313 of my retirement.

                                                  "Grief and Redemption"

     Today I attended the funeral of a friend's father in Louisville.  I attended as a way of showing support to my friend. I had visited the funeral home yesterday during the time of family and friend visitation.  There were many people present yesterday , but I still had time to speak with my friend for several minutes.

     When I told him that I intended to come back for the funeral today, he said he did not expect me to come. So when I went to the funeral home chapel today, I sat near the back with the intent of not being noticed otherwise. Nonetheless I felt a hand on my shoulder, and when I turned around my friend was there. As he gave me a hug and briefly cried, I told him I was praying for him as I knew that he would be speaking about his father during the memorial service.

     The service went very smoothly with my friend's brother and sister speaking about their father. Then my friend spoke.  He talked most eloquently the many roles that his father had fulfilled within that family. My friend did very well until his closing comments when he turned to the open casket and addressed his final words directly to his deceased father. It was at that point that he began to cry and speak with a broken voice. He returned to his seat in the front row and bent over, continuing to cry softly as his mother consoled him. Suddenly out of the back of the chapel came his six-year-old daughter running to to him.  She threw her arms around her father's neck and began hugging and kissing him...and most powerfully...tenderly wiping away his tears. He swept the small child up in his arms and hugged her tightly. Suddenly my friend had new wind under his wings.

     Conclusions about this day: I often think about times when people are hurting and who might be available to offer assistance or support. I usually think of people of wisdom or people with much life experience. Today I witnessed the redemption of a hurting adult by a six-year-old daughter who loved her father unconditionally and wanted his pain to stop. She may not have fully understood the gravity of the moment, but she did understand the power of love.


July 9, 2017

Day 312 of my retirement.                              

                                                    “Old friends and Good Memories”

     My wife and I were invited to the 50th wedding anniversary dinner of the medical director with whom I worked with for more than 25 years. He and his wife, who I also had come to know over my years of my employment with him, were married fifty years ago today.  The event was held at their beautiful home in an amazing formal English garden around their in-ground pool. Large tents were set up in the yard, and the dinner was served in the midst of various perennial flowers that were at their summer peak of color.

     About 90 people were in attendance at this gathering, and to my amazement I knew about 50% of the people there.  I had worked with many of these people during my professional career in the field of psychiatry. We were seated at tables of eight. Due to the knowledge of the planner, the table assignments were such that I knew quite well everyone at my table. The food was delightful. The fellowship was grand. And to my surprise there was entertainment in the form of professional singers who sang many of the love songs of the 1960s and 70s. Most of the songs brought back fond memories for me as well as most of the people at the gathering.

     Upon the conclusion of the dinner event, my wife and I walked around the garden and enjoyed the many plantings that created such an inviting atmosphere. As we walked around the garden we chatted with a number of other people whom I had known in years gone by. I spent several minutes with my medical director friend and his wife.

     Conclusions about this day: Those I visited this evening are people who for the most part I had not had interaction with in the past 15 years. Yet it was a wonderful time to reconnect with these good friends. I recognize that you cannot go back. But for a couple hours this evening it was almost the way I remember it more than 16 years ago. And that is very good. One of my regrets about retirement is that some of my old friendships have been weakened because of the absence of any relationship with those individuals since I left the hospital 17 years ago. I hope that our paths will cross again soon.      teh

 


July 8, 2017

Day 311 of my retirement.                              

                                                    “Friends and Flowers”

     Today has been a very busy day here on the farm. Being retired, I have discovered I now have more time to commit to farm activities than I did when I was working full time. Today is one of those days that I would have been stressed were I still working full-time. Saturdays and Sundays were catch-up days for me in the past here on the farm, and I would try to do the essential activities and forgo the rest. But since I now have more time I am able to engage in activities spending a greater amount of time on them than I would have in the past. Today I spent about four hours breaking fresh green beans at my daughter’s home that she would can later today.

     About mid-afternoon, I came back to my house and began doing some activities that I had planned to do today. One of those activities involved digging some daylilies that had finished blooming and dividing them in anticipation of sharing them with some friends. We have many different kinds of daylilies in our yard, and from time to time they need to be dug and divided. When they are divided I always have several pots that I then offer to friends who have requested starts of some of my more popular plants. I am pleased to share them especially with those friends who have a deeper appreciation for perennial flowers the way I do. All of the plants that I dug and planned to share have a name already on them for sharing.

     Conclusions about this day: Good friends like pretty flowers both need a certain amount of cultivation and attention. Digging and dividing daylilies affords me a means by which I can cultivate friends and flowers at the same time. I still enjoy giving plants away as much as I enjoy receiving plants from my friends. It turns out that today was a very good day in completing chores on my list to-do list.              teh

 

 


July 7, 2017

 Day 310 of my retirement.     

                                                              "There's No Place Like Home"

     Over the last three days I enjoyed the company of my wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren as we traveled through central Indiana visiting The Indianapolis Zoo and Conner Prairie Village near Noblesville, Indiana. Both days were filled with a lot of walking and seeing the sights that were quite beautiful and photogenic.

     My daughter located a bed-and-breakfast near Noblesville where we stayed the past two nights. The bed-and-breakfast was very comfortable. The two meals that we were served there were also quite exceptional. The B&B was in a house nearly 150 years old. It had been remodeled and restored so as to create modern comfort in an old structure. The house was generally quiet, nice and the bed firm enough that I was able to sleep quite well. The grounds were well landscaped and conveyed a visual appeal that made the B&B quite nice to stay in. In fact there was nothing wrong with the experience that I can think of.

     We returned home today. As we drove down I-65 I began to realize how glad I would be to get back home to Shelby County.  Someone once said that there is “no place like home”. I think I found that to be well stated. I do enjoy traveling but I enjoy even more returning home after having traveled a day, a week or longer.

     Conclusions about this day: It was good to get back home. There is a certain comfort and sense of relaxation that we experience in our own homes that we just can't quite experience anywhere else. I look forward to other travels. But for me it is true that there is no other place quite like home.   teh


July 6, 2017

Day 308 of my retirement.

                                              "The Way They Do It Up North"

     This evening my family and I went to a local chain Italian restaurant near Carmel, Indiana and had a very nice meal. We skipped dessert since we wanted to have some local dessert experience. We found an ice cream specialty store in Noblesville, Indiana where we stood in line for about 20 minutes before we could place our order. I decided that any restaurant that had a line that long must have pretty good ice cream.

     There was limited seating for customers after they purchase their ice cream so I found a table and said I will wait for my family while they were getting their ice cream. After about five minutes three middle-aged adults came over and sat down at my table without any words exchanged between them and me. I thought it a bit unusual that people would sit down at a table where you were sitting without at least inquiring as to whether or not they could share the table with you. I sat there for a couple minutes until my family began arriving to join me at The table. I said to this three some I'm sorry we need this whole table, and the lady turned and looked at me and said oh I didn't know anyone was sitting here. They then got up and moved to another table.

     Maybe it's a tradition in the south. After all this community is 130 miles north of Louisville. It would indeed be considered a northern community. But in the south I think it would be likely that you would ask before sitting down at a table that was already occupied by another individual. The outcome was uneventful and there was room for my family and the three people who were sitting there found another table nearby.

     Conclusion about this day: There is a certain gentility about life in the south. I find it to my liking. But I also recognize that when you are in another part of the country, there may be different expectations and behaviors. The lesson that is important to recall is that communication is always the best way to resolve misunderstandings. And the ice cream was good!


July 5, 2017

Day 306 of my retirement.
                                                  "Who is Looking at Who?"

     Today I went with my family to the zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana. I had been there before but it had been many years. There is a kid still in me somewhere and because of that, I enjoy seeing a zoo when ever the opportunity is there. Over the years, I have visited zoos in Louisville, Cincinnati, Kansas City, St.Louis, Washington DC, San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco and Atlanta to mention only a partial list.

     The primates are the highlight of any zoo adventure for me. I like the small apes as well as the great apes. I can spend hours watching the gorillas at the Louisville zoo. Man and the gorillas seem to have so much in common!

     Today I visited the new exhibit of the orangutan at the Indianapolis zoo. They have an amazing building and I was able to see four adult orangutans and one baby. I read where you cannot house two males in the same compound. They fight over the females. Sound familiar? In one large cage/room were two females, a male and an infant orangutan. They seemed to be getting along well. Then I saw another segregated male in a separate cage. Or should I say he saw me? You see when I bent down to look at him, his head was pressed against the glass in the corner and he had a laughing "grin" as he looked at me.

     Conclusions about this day: The single male orangutan was sitting in the corner of a glass window in the dark. Then I realized he was staring at ME! So, who was really looking at who? Maybe I am the critter at the zoo that all the animals wait to see as I pass them by!     teh

July 4, 2017

Day 306 of my retirement.

                                                             "Rockets Red Glare"     
     

     My family celebrates two holidays on 4July 4th.  First we celebrate our nation's independence and secondly we belatedly celebrate my granddaughter's birthday which actually falls on June 29.

     My daughter and son-in-law host a get-together each year at their home that includes a birthday party with many preschool age children present for a picnic meal along with cake and ice cream to commemorate the birthday. Today we had a gathering of about 30 people of which about 10 children were under the age of six years. My daughter prepared an amazing meal including hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, pasta salad, squash casserole and homemade coleslaw. The ice cream served today was also homemade. I had the strawberry version of a fine sorbet which was as good as any I have ever tasted. Though I did not know many of the people present as they were friends of my daughter and son-in-law, I enjoyed getting to meet many of them and learning a little bit about their lives.

     Just as it was getting dark, the family and guests gathered in the front yard and watched my son-in-law and his friend set off about 100 rockets over a period of about 30 minutes. Though we were a quarter of a mile from the launch site, the view was spectacular. For a moment all of those watching were kids again. Some of us older kids some of us younger kids.

     Conclusion about this day: July 4 is the day that we celebrate our nation's birth. We recall the sacrifice of patriots over the past 250 years allowing us today to enjoy the highest level of freedom anywhere on this earth. I pray that we never forget how blessed we are with freedoms. I do not want this day to be just about fireworks. However the fireworks that I witnessed tonight reminded me of another evening many years ago when Francis Scott Key watched from the deck of a British warship the rockets red glare her and the bombs bursting in air. Yet Old Glory continued to wave without any thought of surrender or capitulation. What brave patriots who occupied for Henry that night as the world watched to see whether the new nation could endure the wrath of the most powerful navy in the world. May God continue to bless America!    teh


July 3, 2017

Day 306 of my retirement.                            

                                                                     “Hot Potatoes”

     One of the joys of living on a farm is that there seems to always be something that needs to be done or repaired. Today I had good intentions of working in the garden and spreading mulch on some flowerbeds. Then my daughter, Rachel called to ask if I could come over to her house and help dig the potato crop. This year we planted four long rows of potatoes. 2 1/2 Rows were planted with Kennebec white potatoes. The other 1 1/2 rows was planted with Detroit Red potatoes. We had previously dug a few hills of potatoes to have for individual meals in the last couple weeks. The potato crop this year  is very fine and we expected a good crop to be dug.

     This morning was a hot and humid morning with bright sun, few clouds and a little breeze. I suggested we use the laying off plow to turn up the potatoes so that we did not have to dig them by hand. We put the plow on the tractor and begin turning over the rows. My wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren all were out in the field picking up the potatoes as they rolled out of the rows and placed them in 5 gallon buckets. I had the thought that it was a little bit like an Easter egg hunt except we were finding large potatoes. I would plow a row and then the family would go through the row and pick up all the potatoes they saw. I would then turn the tractor around and run it through the same row again and again more potatoes would turn up.

     It took us most of the morning to dig and load the potato crop we harvested this year. In total there were six or seven bushels of potatoes to be brought into the barn and spread out on metal shelves to dry completely before being stored away in boxes. We covered the “green” potatoes with newspaper in order that they not literally turn green and become toxic to eat.

     Conclusions about this day: over the past two weeks we have had several days of harvesting from our garden. Each vegetable that we have harvested has been exceptional in quality and quantity. These potatoes will not get us through the entire winter but will provide us with an adequate amount of potatoes for many months. My family likes to eat potatoes very much. It was a very hot day to harvest the crop but since it was a day in which my daughter and son-in-law had the day off we decided to make good use of a summer morning in the garden. This winter when we eat one of these potatoes we will experience once more the warmth of a July 3 morning.     teh


July 2, 2017

Day 306 of my retirement.         

                                                           “75K and Happiness”!

     I read an article* other day that suggested the average American couple needed approximately $75,000 a year of income in order to be happy. The article went on to say that with an income of this proportion the average American couple could have adequate resources to meet their basic needs as well as some discretionary income for things such as vacations and other personal interests. This article suggested that with such an income a family could purchase a home in the $200,000 range as their place of residence.

     I do not question or challenge the theory that such an income could afford an average couple the above choices and opportunities. I suspect that in many parts of America a couple could have a reasonably comfortable lifestyle with that amount of resources being available on an average basis.

     I do doubt whether that amount or any amount of income      determines whether or not they will be happy. Over the years of my professional career I had the opportunity to work alongside other professionals who have incomes far in excess of $75,000 a year who clearly were not happy. I also had clients whose income far exceeded 75K and they also were not happy.

     In the almost one year since I have retired, I have come to recognize that my discretionary income is not as flexible as it was before retirement. I am more conscientious now about how I spend money on any non-essentials. Nonetheless my level of happiness is far greater now than it was in the last year before I retired. I think that happiness today is not the result of how much money I make or don't make, but is the result of the quality of time and how I use it.

     Conclusions about this day: There is an old saying about money and happiness. I believe the saying was correct when it's suggested that money does not buy happiness. In my lifetime I have found happiness when my income was very small. I also experienced happiness when my income was far greater. Now, in the later years of my life, I hope to continue to experience happiness by focusing not on money but on the quality of my time and my relationships with family and friends.          Teh

* New York Times- June 30, 2017


July 1, 2017

Day 305 of my retirement.                            

                                                       “Harvesting Onions”

     Saturday here on the farm is one of the days of the week in which our children and grandchildren sometimes share in participating in some aspect of farm life. Today was one of those days. My wife and I had planned to do some work in the yard around our house. We drove our pickup truck over to my daughter’s house to get the UTV vehicle that stays parked there in the barn. When we arrived there, we found our daughter and son-in-law out working in one of the garden plots near their house. We stopped to see what they were up to. My daughter told me that she was planning to harvest the onion crop today. There is an old farm saying that says “harvest the onions before the July rains”.

     I suggested that my wife and I help them with this project instead of our planned activity. They expressed gratitude ,and we began the process of digging mature onions from the large garden where they were working. We filled the bed of the UTV above the side rails and proceeded to take the freshly dug bulbs to the barn. There at the barn our grandchildren joined us in arranging the freshly dug onions on metal grids where they would be able to dry over the next couple weeks. This drying process ensures that the onions might be usable throughout the winter to come.

     When we had finished our job, I wondered what kind of memories we might have created for my children and my grandchildren. I believe that families who work together create the potential for amazing memories in years to come. The fact that my grandchildren were able to see a part of the harvesting of a crop is a special lesson that they might retain when they have children of their own.

     Conclusions about this day: Any day in which I can foster learning with my children and grandchildren that allows them to recall trans-generational activities is a special day indeed. The harvesting of an onion crop is not nearly as important as the memories of grandchildren working alongside their grandparents. I will remember this day as truly special!           teh


June 30, 2017

Day 303 of my retirement.                             

                                                           "Happy Faces– – – Not!”

     I accompanied my wife this afternoon on a trip to Walmart and Target stores in Middletown, Kentucky. The trip was mostly about getting a few groceries and a couple items for here on the farm. I was not particularly focused as I accompanied my wife into the big box stores today.

     Something brought my attention to the faces of people I encountered this afternoon as we shopped. This would not be considered a scientific study but purely an observation that I made. I noticed very few people who I encountered in either store to have smiles on their faces. The majority of people I encountered were female. But there were a significant number of males also. They all conveyed an appearance of stress with little sign of smiles or other indications of happiness that I could observe.

     I wonder what this might suggest. It would seem to me that shopping in a large store such as those that I was in would be a time of pleasure or happiness. When you are given the opportunity to purchase things that you want, it would seem for that experience to be the beginning of some happy emotion. I must admit that using only observation skills does not assure me that the people I was viewing and interpreting as not happy may indeed have been happier than I realized. But throughout my career I have trained to be an astute observer of other people. Therefore I do not think I am totally wrong in my assessment.

     Conclusions about this day: I wonder if we are not living in an era of greater unhappiness then we might have expected. I wonder if the stress of day to day living in metropolitan areas has an effect on the individual person resulting in a level of unhappiness potentially greater than any generations past. I do believe that rural living is still the healthiest lifestyle available for me. Rural living may not be the answer for everyone. But only one to two generations ago the majority of all Americans lived in a rural environment. Maybe those people knew more about wellness than we thought.   teh


June 29, 2017

Day 302 of my retirement.               

                                                      “After All These Years!”

     I was sitting in my office this afternoon when my cell phone rang. I get very few direct phone calls to my cell phone. I picked up the phone and looked at the caller ID. It was a phone number I did not recognize. But the phone showed Frankfort ,Kentucky. I'm very reluctant to answer the phone from a caller whose number I do not recognize. But mostly out of curiosity, I answered the phone and said hello.


     The caller stated his name and asked if he was speaking with Mr. Hedden. I said, "Yes ,I am Mr. Hedden." The caller stated that he was calling on behalf of the governor’s office in Frankfort. I try not to be a fool. Why would the governor’s office call me? Then the caller said that he was calling to inform me of my appointment to the state licensing board for clinical social work. I then recalled that I had submitted an application for appointment about three years ago. About a year later I contacted the licensing authority to inquire about the status of my application. I was told something about appointments being on hold with the administrative change taking place at the governor’s office. The person said they would contact me when there was information to be passed on to me. I dismissed the application and decided that there was too much politics for me to pursue that any further. So I forgot about it.

     When the caller today informed me as to the appointment, I almost didn't know what to say. I thanked him for the call. He told me that the office would contact me next week to let me know about future meetings. He also congratulated me and told me that I might have other callers contacting me in the next few days about this appointment.

     Conclusions about this day: I feel much honor to receive this appointment. I thought more than three years ago that with the number of years’ experience in this field I would be qualified to serve on such a board. I thought it would be very interesting to participate in the licensing process for a state wide professional organization. I look forward to the first chapter in this next part of my life. I expect it will be an interesting ride.    teh


June 28, 2017

Day 301 of my retirement.                  

                                                        “Working Along the Highway”

     For early summer, the weather these past few days has been spectacular. Based upon the forecast it sounds as though beginning tomorrow the cool, low humidity weather that we have experienced these past few days is coming to an end. I decided that there were several outdoor projects that I would attempt today before the weather changed to a more seasonable hazy, hot and humid summer day in Kentucky.

     Among my plans for the day included spreading mulch in the flowerbeds, trimming several trees in the yard, and working in the vegetable garden behind the barn. I also considered the possibility of string trimming along the road in front of my house and around the driveway down the road going to my barn. A couple days ago I had run my zero turn riding lawn mower over the ground that is level enough to use it on flat spaces. But there are some banks that are too steep to mow with that device.

     I have a nice light weight string trimmer that works well in these situations. I spent about 90 minutes cutting tall weeds along the right-of-way of the state road that runs in front of my house. Although I was off the shoulder of the road, I was careful to watch out for vehicles traveling up and down it. It seems they often travel at a high rate of speed. But today I noted how many of the drivers going down my road tapped their horns or waved at me as they passed. Their gestures seemed friendly and neighborly. I wondered if I had been string trimming in the city whether people would have been as neighborly as I observed here in the country.

     Conclusion about this day: I was glad to get finished with the string trimming. Tomorrow will be too hot to do that difficult work.  But I did enjoy the neighborly response from people traveling up and down my road. Although I did not recognize all of the vehicles, I suspected the drivers were people who lived not far away. One of the joys of living in the country is that people seem more friendly and willing to help you when you are in need. I have lived in the country most of my life. I cannot imagine living anywhere else.         teh


June 27, 2017

Day 300 of my retirement.     

                                                          “Advice Giving”

     A few days ago a friend of mine from my church told me that her granddaughter was considering majoring in psychology at the college level. She inquired as to whether or not I would be willing to speak with this granddaughter about pursuing a degree in psychology. At first it appeared that there was not going to be an opportunity for such a meeting, but yesterday my friend told me that her granddaughter would be in town a couple of days this week to visit. We worked it out that I would meet with the granddaughter today. Our meeting took place at my church in the dining room while her grandmother was on the walking track right upstairs.

     The young lady was a very attractive eighteen year old who is an excellent student as well as a successful athlete and cheer leader. My conversation with the granddaughter focused around what the granddaughter was hoping to achieve with a degree in psychology. Granddaughter explained that she wanted to work in psychology doing clinical counseling and psychological testing. She jokingly said that she did not want to be a school guidance counselor. I explained to her that she would have a minimum of eight years in college and graduate school in order to complete a PhD in clinical psychology. We discussed the pros and cons of a PhD versus Master’s degree. She was certain that she wishes to pursue a PhD. She told me that she had a 4.0 GPA in high school and felt that she academically was strong enough for an additional four years of graduate school.

     During the course of our conversation she also shared some personal life experiences that she felt better qualified her to pursue training in this direction. Our conversation lasted about an hour. At the end of that hour her grandmother rejoined us in the dining room.

     Conclusions about this day: It was highly rewarding to me to discuss a career in Psychology after having worked in the field of mental health for almost 50 years and to relive the excitement of someone just on the cusp of a career similar to mine. How exciting it is to have that whole array of experiences that she will discover all ahead of her. I wished her the best and gave her my business card telling her I would be glad for her to call me if she had questions at a later time. I think she will do well. That will be my prayer for her successful future in a field she can be excited about.                        teh


June 26, 2017

Day 299 of my retirement. 

                                                “What is the value of your time?”

     In February of this year I had cataract surgery on both of my eyes. The ophthalmologist who performed the procedure did what I believe was a very good job. Following the surgery I had a number of routine visits that took place over a period of days and weeks following the last cataract procedure. The visits were always scheduled and generally took place close to the scheduled time for the appointment. I attempted to schedule my appointments at the beginning of the doctor's day or right after his lunch break. Having worked in healthcare most of my career I realize that getting appointments later in the day often leads to the appointment getting pushed back due to earlier appointments not getting completed on time.


     Today's visit was a three month follow-up to my last visit. The appointment was scheduled for right after the office lunch break. I arrived at my appointment 10 minutes early. I signed myself in and was told that I would be called shortly. In about 10 minutes one of the physician assistants called my name and took me back to an examination room. A cursory examination was done of my eyes and I was then taken to a second examination room. I was told that I was to wait there until the doctor came in to see me. My wait turned into almost 40 minutes. By the time the doctor came in it was 45 minutes past the scheduled appointment that I had been given. I wondered if the doctor would acknowledge his tardiness. He did not say anything about why he was late or that he was aware that he was late. The doctor's total time with me was less than 10 minutes. I was given a follow up appointment for six months.

     Conclusions about today: What is the value of your time? I believe my time has value. While in the practice of psychotherapy, I tried to always be on time with my appointments. My appointments were usually one backed up to the next. It was essential that I be a good steward of my time and my client’s time. I always thought it important to acknowledge if I had kept them waiting 10 minutes or longer. I believe everyone's time is valuable to them and should not be taken for granted. Maybe there is some difference for those of us who come from the Boomer era and our perception of being on time. Maybe it is my respect for people's time that causes me to be annoyed when people don't keep appointments that they have scheduled. I will give this physician another chance. Overall I think he is a good physician. But we all know that some physician offices over schedule their days expecting certain clients will not show up. I hope in the future that my appointment is on a day that the doctor's office will not have all their over-bookings show up. Then I might be there two hours waiting!    teh

 


June 25, 2017

Day 297 of my retirement.                 

                                                         “Patriotism”

     This Sunday evening at my church we had a special program. The special program began with the always enjoyable church potluck dinner. For anyone who has ever attended one of these events, you know it is a time in which people bring their favorite dishes and share with the church family. Tonight there were six tables covered with foods and desserts. It was a true feast.
     
     Following the potluck dinner, our church family gathered in the sanctuary and enjoyed a patriotic program recognizing members of the church who had served in our Armed Forces as well as first responders in the community. These first responders included police, fire and EMS. The music played and songs sung included the top 10 of patriotic hymns and songs of our nation. Songs such as “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful” were included in the program.

     We also sang as a congregation our National Anthem. As I looked around the room during the singing I observed that there were a large number of Boomer age adults present. Those Boomers stood at attention with their right hand over their heart. Those who were wearing any kind of hats had removed them. I then noticed with some despair that some of the millennial's present stood with their hands to their side and had not removed any head cover.


     Conclusion about this day
: Adults of all ages in mid-America are a fairly patriotic group. We enjoyed those occasions when we can celebrate our nation’s freedom. I, like most Boomers, grew up in a time when patriotism included saluting the flag and standing as you pledged your allegiance to the American flag. I pray that those of us who are of the Bomer generation will model a patriotism that younger people will feel drawn to. Freedom is a sacred trust passed from one generation to the next. May this patriotism not end with this generation.  teh


June 24, 2017

Day 297 of my retirement.                               

                                                  "Life’s Disappointments"

     My wife and I attended a Boomer event sponsored by our church today. It was dinner in Bardstown and tickets to the Stephen Foster Story in Bardstown Kentucky. A large group of Boomer age adults went from our church. We arrived in Bardstown early enough to do a little shopping before dinner at a very well-known historical restaurant right on the Courthouse Square. Although the church provided transportation, my friend Tom and his wife Pam invited my wife and me to ride with them.

     Since we were there as part of a large group, the restaurant had arranged to seat our group in a separate room where two waitresses served the 30 persons in such a way that we would have our food and be able to go to the theater in the one hour and 30 minutes that was designated for dining. We were given the opportunity to pre-order our food choices several weeks ago. The restaurant had our food ready and we were able to eat and be on our way so that we were not late for the start of the play. I was extremely disappointed in my food as was my wife and the other couple who sat next to us. It is clear that this restaurant was a very fine establishment at some time in the past. But when you pay a significant amount of money for meal you expect food consistent with what you paid. That certainly cannot be said for our food tonight.

     Life is filled with disappointments. Things happen that we had not anticipated. And things happen where our expectation is not met. As a mature adult I have learned to appreciate those many occasions when personal outcomes are new to my liking. One must be careful not to set such high expectations so that disappointments come regularly. I recognize that food preparation is often the result of personal taste. It can be too spicy or too bland. But I also think that food served at the wrong temperature or obviously over cooked is the sign of poor management by this particular establishment. My wife and I both ordered dessert as they have some reputation for foods that we particularly like. I ordered bread pudding and my wife ordered chess pie. We both left most of the desert on the plate because again it was most disappointing, dry and not tasty.

     Conclusions about this day: overall I had a very nice evening. They play which I had seen before was extremely well done both from an artistic point view as well as the music presentation. I also enjoyed the fellowship of an evening with several friends who I know well from my church. I have no regrets for going or even getting home at a very late hour. The disappointment that I experienced with the dinner I will soon forget. As a mature adult, I realize that some disappointments are just part of living. We are created in such a way that we have choices. I will choose to forget unpleasant memories and hold on to good ones. What I choose to remember about this evening was the fellowship and the good friends that I spent an evening together with.   teh


June 23, 2017

Day 296 of my retirement.                             

                                                     “Shared Responsibilities”

     I read an article today in the New York Times* that speaks about modern couples sharing responsibilities within the household. The author's premise is that a couple agrees in writing as to chores, house guests, sex and other matters for a period of one year and then renews the agreement or makes changes in that contract. Somehow I did not find this shocking or particularly revealing since I think my wife and I have enjoyed shared responsibilities and agreed upon duties throughout the almost 49 years of our being married.

     I never set out to create any kind of role assignment either for myself or my wife. In the early years of our marriage it just seemed logical that there were certain things she would do and things I would do. For example ,my wife in the early years of our marriage insisted that she do the laundry after I had ruined a couple of pieces of clothing mixing lights and darks in the same tub. I on the other hand suggested that I pay the bills and keep track of our finances since this was something she was not familiar with doing, and I had done for many years for myself. We agreed early on to share house cleaning and cooking responsibilities fairly equally. Over the years that sharing has evolved to where I cook all the breakfasts and she cooks most of the other two meals of the day. I still help with house cleaning but insist that heavy lifting responsibilities be exclusively my responsibility.

     Recently the heavy lifting has been renegotiated a bit so that we often lift things that weigh more than 25 pounds together.  At first I was a little resentful about this. I thought she was invading my “sacred” space. But now it seems to be the routine that we follow, and neither of us is bothered by the change.

     Conclusions about this day: Marriage for me is about working together with my wife to gain the best outcome for the two of us. Neither of us possesses an attitude of being too good to do a particular chore or that some job is below either of us. This seems to allow the two of us to work pretty well as a team. Although the New York Times article on shared responsibility goes in a little different in direction by using a negotiated written agreement, I have concluded that the way we share in the running of our home with just a verbal agreement is best for the two of us. We're not experts on home management but we seem to enjoy the way it has worked out in our thinking about it. My conclusion:  "If it's not broken, don't fix it"!           teh

* “To Stay in Love, Sign on the Dotted Line” by Mandy Lee Catron. New York Times, June 23, 2017


June 22, 2017

Day 295 of my retirement.               

                                                      “Old Friends and Lost Friends”

     A thought came to me today about friends from my past who I have lost contact with. I think we all have those people who were very special to us in the past and we communicated with them every day or thereabouts. Then for some reason those friends slipped out of our grasp and we lost our connection with them. It's not that we quit caring about them, it's just that for some reason our pals went in different directions and we did not sustain that friendship.

     I think about a number of friends that I knew in high school and college that I have not heard from or had any communication with in almost 50 years. With the onset of Facebook and the internet in general, I do occasionally hear from some of these people but only momentarily. I find myself googling names of some of these people, but then feel a bit weird as though I were stalking them. A few I have seen at reunion events and we both promised to work harder at staying in touch. But it usually doesn't happen.

     Those people who are presently close friends of mine I spend considerable time cultivating those friendships. I reach out to them and suggest we meet for lunch or dinner or chat on the phone. They also reach out to me calling me or suggesting we schedule a time to get together. That seems to work. This group of friends which I would guess to be less than 20 people fit into that circle of closest friends. Outside of that circle is a much larger circle of uncounted people who I run into with some regularity and we are cordial with each other. We may attend the same social events but I do not think of them as especially close friends.

     Conclusion about this today: Since retirement I am certain that I have contact with fewer people than I did while I was still in practice. My closest circle of friends I think has not changed. The next larger circle outside of my closest friends is likely the group that has been most affected by my retirement. I need to work at not losing too many of these Friends. However I recognize that friendship is a two-way street. More than just my reaching out to them, they too must reach out to me. I hope that happens in both directions!                           teh


June 21, 2017

Day 294 of my retirement.                              

"Can you smell the sweetness?"                                  
     It is 7:15 in the morning. As has become a part of my ritual of retirement, I choose this time of morning to walk in my garden. It is the coolness of the morning as well as the freshness of the flowers and plants in the garden the draw me there. I grab my cup of coffee, my cell phone and put on my muck boots in order to make this brief journey.

     Each day I will see something a little different than I saw the day before. Presently, I delight in the daily display of day lilies which are at their zenith in color and type. The colors of orange, red and yellow can be quite striking. The vegetable garden also has jumped since the last rain with beans and tomatoes having grown the most. Unfortunately so have the weeds. As soon as the ground is dry enough I intend to work out those weeds. Maybe this afternoon it will be dry enough to do so. I also noted the apple trees, and they are loaded with tiny apples that will offer us the opportunity for cider making in mid-August.

     We have a number of hydrangeas in the garden which we have acquired over the years. The oak leaf hydrangeas are in full bloom. But most of the others have not even begun to set blossoms yet. They will bloom in August and September. The blue and pink that they traditionally display will be a welcome guest when day lilies and oriental lilies are long spent.

     I walk a loop through my garden and yard eventually making my way back to either my front or back door. Near the front door today was the highlight of my garden tour. I have a tree gardenia that is several years old. It sits in the dining room during the winter but seems to enjoy its place under a red Japanese maple in the summertime. When I took it outside this spring, it was infested with scale. I immediately begin treating it with a spray that was recommended for gardenias. Most of the scale is now gone and in its stead, there are large swelling green buds that soon will turn milky white. One of those buds had burst forth in amazing blossom this morning. I stooped to smell it being careful not to spill my coffee. Can you smell its fragrance? It reminded me of the dusting powder my grandmother once used that I would catch a whiff when she hugged me as a pre-teen. The fragrance was unbelievable. I think it is the most powerful fragrance of any flower in our garden. The blossom remains only a couple days before it begins to darken and turn brown. But for the moment today it is in all its grandeur.

     Conclusion about this day: There is an old saying that speaks of to "bloom where you are planted ". This old gardenia plant seems to have succeeded in this declaration. As a retired older adult, I too will expect to bloom and continue to do so in the years to come. Whether I can be as fragrant as the gardenia remains to be determined!   teh


June 20, 2017

Day 293 of my retirement.                   

                                                                           “Go Dog Go”

     On most Tuesdays my grandchildren visit with their grandmother and me for the day. Today was one of those days. On those days that our grandchildren are here, we need to stay active and involve the children in order to help them burn off some of that excessive energy that they seem to possess as three and five-year-olds.

     Often the grandchildren focus on toys and books that their grandmother has acquired to serve as stimulation and learning when they are with us. They love different kinds of building blocks and other building materials. Tinker toys have been a recent focus of interest. After several hours of building and tearing down and building back it was time for lunch and the afternoon nap.

     You do understand that the afternoon nap is for grandparents...not for grandchildren. However the grandchildren do cooperate and spend an hour to two "resting", giving grandparents a much needed break.

     Following this afternoon's break, Braden, my youngest grandson, came to me and asked me if I would make a smoothie for him and his sister Lillie. I told him I would. I then proceeded to make a smoothie with the fresh fruit and orange juice that we had in the refrigerator. After the smoothie was made they sat quietly at the kitchen table and slurped every bit of it. Then Lillie asked me to read a story. She loves to read along. I agreed to do so. And that was followed by a request for another story titled Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman. The book for those not familiar with it is a kind of "Seuss book". So with one child on each knee I read the 60+ page book to them. I read it as best I could with all the sound effects and voice animation I could muster! It does not take a clinical psychologist to observe that both children were in rapt attention as I perused the book with them.

     Conclusion about this day: It is an important learning for me that engaging my grandchildren in reading books can be a very effective deterrent against what might otherwise be “bouncing on the wall” behavior. The remainder of the afternoon until their father came to retrieve them they were nearly perfect! What a wonderful memory this day will be for me and hopefully for them as well.                       teh


 

June 19, 2017

Day 291 of my retirement          

                                                 “Wildflowers and Weed Killer”

     

     Several weeks ago I wrote about the joy of wildflowers blooming along the bank of my country road that passes in front of our farm. The bank has been a source of consternation for me as it seemed to be a place where unsightly weeds have grown in the past. After a visit to Texas two years ago my wife and I brought back with us a large bag of wildflower seeds we purchased and were told that the seed would grow in Kentucky. The wildflower farm was located in Fredericksburg, Texas and was known as a special vendor who raised and sold unusual wildflowers.

     I spoke at length with the owner of this business who assured me that the seed I was purchasing would indeed sprout and grow here on the farm in Shelby County. I planted those seed in October of 2015. To my pleasure in the spring of 2016 I saw evidence of these wildflowers beginning to sprout and grow. Throughout the summer of 2016 I witnessed an array of beautiful wildflowers blooming here along the roadside in front of our farm. I wondered if the flowers would come back in 2017. Beginning in late March I saw evidence that the flowers did survive and showed sprouting buds that would shortly become beautiful blossoms.

     I posted on Facebook photos of this bank of wildflowers. Taking note of a neighbor down the road I drove a steel post into the ground on either side of this bank in order that road crews would not mow the wildflowers down. A couple weeks ago a crew came through mowing and left the flowers alone to my pleasure. Sometime within the past week apparently another crew came through this time spraying weed killer. And sure enough they sprayed the bank of my beautiful wildflowers. Yesterday I noted what had happened. The flowers are wilted and showing signs that they soon will be dead.
     
     Today I called the road department to express my displeasure at what had taken place. They were very understanding and apologetic but said there was really nothing they could do. I told them that I wanted to replant these wildflowers but wanted some assurance that I could prevent the spraying from taking place again. I question whether putting a sign up would help. They seemed less than confident that it would be of benefit. They told me that the service was contracted out and that the vendor could not be counted upon to bypass this hillside even with a sign.

     Conclusion about this day: They are just pretty weeds. Yes I bought them in Texas and planted them. I can buy more and plant them again. I will have a sign put up requesting that they not be sprayed next time. With the possibility that the sign will be ignored or torn down by someone passing by I still will not give up. I will not be detracted by these possibilities. You see I think the beauty of such a planting deserves a second or third chance. The coreopsis, bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush gave me a visual reminder of the beautiful state of Texas. It's worth the risk.   teh

 


June 18, 2017

 

Day 291 of my retirement.                 
                                                     “Banana Pudding”

     Today is Father's Day. Father's Day, like Mother's Day, carries with it a certain amount of emotion beyond the day for some people. For some of us the day is a reminder of a mother or father who has passed on. It is a source of sadness.

     Father's Day for me is a day of reflection on my place as father and patriarch in my small family. I have two children, both of whom are grown married and with children of their own. I am blessed that my children live within 2 miles of my home. Though they live nearby their lives are quite busy and as a result I do not always see them as frequently as I might hope. But on special holidays, they seem to find a way to make their way to my home and spend some time with me. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day. I count myself blessed to have them on these occasions.

     Today I was honored with special cards from each of my children. In my son’s card was a gift card to Tractor Supply Company. He knows me well. He knows I make frequent stops at Tractor Supply and a gift card there will be quickly used for some farm expense. My daughter on the other hand gave me a very special card along with homemade banana pudding. She knows me well and recognizes my favorite dessert to be banana pudding. We all had a piece of the banana pudding and there is still some left over. The remainder will be enjoyed tomorrow by my wife and me.

     Conclusions about this day: I am blessed to have children who choose to spend time with me on holidays, including Father's Day. I pray that I will be up to the challenge to be a father who provides the proper role model for both my children and grandchildren. Happy Father’s Day guys!            teh

 


June 17, 2017
Day 290 of my retirement.                
                                                      “Father's Day Weekend”

     Tomorrow is Father's Day. To be honest I do not like the day that much. My reason for not liking it is the result of several factors. First of all, my father died on Father's Day 16 years ago. As years have passed I associate Father's Day with the passing of my own father. Secondly I find myself doubting my own confidence I have as a father to my children. The truth is your children know you far better than other people do. They may see you at your best but they also see you at your worst. Thirdly, I feel inadequate for the kind words and expressions of love that come from my children, especially my daughter. Fourthly, since being retired I see myself having more time to focus on my family and my place in the family. It is something I want to do every day, not just on Father’s Day.

   
  I believe in the importance of the fathers as a leader in their family. I believe fathers should be a role model for their children. For Their sons, they need to be able to model what a father should be in a nuclear family. For a daughter, fathers need to be able to model the kind of man that their daughters someday will marry.

     I am very cognizant of the importance of the mother in a family unit. She often is the glue that holds the family together. Both sons and daughters typically feel much closer kinship to their mothers then they do their fathers. Nonetheless healthy families need both mothers and fathers to be successful.

     Conclusions about this day: Father's Day is just another day on the calendar. It is the day that Hallmark and Gibson card companies sell lots of cards. But for the father and his family, it is  time to reflect on who and what we have been over the past years in the eyes of our children. I know I could've done better. But I still have time to try to improve upon my record. I will work on that!     teh

 


June 16, 2017
Day 289 of my retirement.     
                                                    "Sunset in the Garden"

     There are two times in the day that I find a special haven in the garden outside our kitchen door. Those two times include just as the sun is rising and the other being just as the sun has set. There is something special about these times of the day. Not only is the air temperature more pleasant, but the peacefulness of this sacred space seems most apparent.

     Tonight I am sitting in the garden listening to the sounds of the evening that seem to be all about me. The birds continue their melodies though the cacophony of bird sounds has diminished to those of the last woodland speakers in the forest nearby. They seem to call out a celebratory melody of praise for this sunny hot day.

     I contemplate that which was accomplished today as well as those things that might have been done but failed to get completed. Another hot afternoon caused me to question some of the "honey do" items that were on my list at the beginning of this day. There will be another day, possibly tomorrow, when the temperature may be more to my liking. But for now I enjoy the pleasant temperatures in the garden as I recline in a cushioned chair by the swimming pool.

     Conclusions about this day: Since my retirement, I feel a certain degree of uncertainty as to the magnitude of what I need to accomplish on a given day. I placed great value on my “to do list” and accomplishing as many of those as I can on a given day. On the other hand since my schedule is much more available now what I don't get done today I can always work on tomorrow. I count on there being a tomorrow. I anticipate the tomorrows. I will schedule for tomorrow. But we are certain only of one day and that is today. 
                      teh

 


June 15
Day 288 of my retirement.     
                                                       "Continuous Learning"

     I have read where part of preventing dementia and other age related disorders is the continued exercise of the human brain. We don't exercise the brain the way we do other muscle groups. We cannot simply walk or run to enhance brain functions. But nonetheless we must find ways to keep it fit so that it can serve us for the rest of our lives. There are several ways I have found to exercise my own brain. One way is that of playing electronic games that require thinking and reasoning. Another way is that of writing and the use of creativity in my photography. But still another way of exercising the brain is through continuous learning.

     Learning is one of those concepts that have different meanings for each of us. I have read where learning a new language is extremely beneficial to the brain elasticity. Although that did not excite me, I did recently take a class in oil painting. That for me was a stretch in my creativity and my sense of artistic endeavor. Though I don't feel I was terribly successful in my effort I was proud that I was willing to give it a try.

     Last evening I attended a Master Cattleman class in La Grange, Kentucky. The class was a 3 1/2 hour lecture on cattle nutrition. It was a very challenging class for me to take. There was quite a range of ages among the people present last night. In a class of maybe 30 members, I was one of the oldest people present. I felt pleased that I understood most of what the professor spoke about and was able to even ask a few good questions. But the most important part of the class last evening was my awareness of exercising my brain and trying to learn new information that I could apply to my livestock herd here on the farm.

     Conclusions about this day
: An essential part of being retired is that I continue to keep myself well and in good physical and mental condition. It will be an effort that can give me significant reward in the future. I believe that my brain is my most important muscle to exercise regularly. I intend to continue to work that muscle!             teh

 


June 14, 2017

Day 287 of my retirement.                              

                                                    “Slanderous Comments"


          I begin today by saying that I do not feel old. When I look in the mirror, I realize that I am looking much older than ever before. I don't color my hair or do anything to alter the wrinkles and other signs of aging that appear on my body.

     Since retirement, I have become more cognizant of how other people look upon and treat persons like myself. That is to say people age 65 and older. Today I was in the dentist office to get a six month cleaning. The hygienist who cleans by teeth I have seen on a number of occasions. She is very nice and does a good job. She is probably 15 to 20 years younger than mine. Today she was explaining to me that she had only flavored tooth polish such as raspberry, chocolate and vanilla mint. I frowned and indicated some displeasure at these options. She then told me that she had a special stash that she saved for her older clients. She told me that she had an older gentleman client who loved peppermint and she always tried to save some for his visit. She then parenthetically commented that he died not long ago. She then told me that she could use his polish on my teeth.

     I thought about it for a moment and wondered if I was being slammed as old and maybe near death. I did not pursue the slanderous conversation as she then had her hands in my mouth and the moment was lost. I do not wish to be overly sensitive to comments about age. But I've come to think there are some dismissal kinds of attitudes about people over the age of 65 years.

     Conclusion about this day: I cannot change how people think or even what they say. I can influence other people's attitudes towards me by continuing to show through my own lifestyle that I am active and a contributing member of the community. I do not wish to be viewed as someone who has lost his connection with the community around him. I intend to remain an active citizen in the community.                          teh


June 13, 2017


Day 286 of my retirement.                              

                                                    “Changing Weather”

     Over the past few days I have seen the gradual rise in temperature and the accompanying higher humidity making these past couple days the kind of days that we really do not enjoy. Early this morning it was rather pleasant outside. But shortly after the sun had begun its morning climb the heat and humidity rose to a level that became oppressive.

     I tried to work outside today a little while but discovered that the hot weather made getting anything done much more difficult than it normally would be. I worked in the yard that has a large red bud tree that afforded reasonable and temporary shade. But the moving sun made the shade soon disappear. I decided then that I would work inside the house with the benefit of air conditioning for the remainder of this day.

     This afternoon I noticed out the window that large thunderheads were beginning to form. Out of curiosity I went to the Weather Channel on my iPad and noted the line of thunderstorms out of the northwest that looked as though they would eventually arrive here later this afternoon. Not long thereafter I began to hear the sound of this distant thunder. Then the rain and wind came sometime later. In a matter of about 30 minutes my rain gauge showed 3/10 of an inch of rain. But much more noticeable was the rapid decline in air temperature. My outside gauge said it had fallen to seventy three degrees. The humidity remained but a lower their temperature made it much more comfortable.

     Conclusions about this today: Life is filled with changes. It is not a good idea to become too dependent on the weather or on our own present life circumstances. I realize that what our bodies can do today may not be what they will be able to do tomorrow. I find myself increasingly considering alternatives for interests, hobbies and daily routines. It may be necessary to go with Plan B or even Plan C.  Anticipated change is much easier to cope with then unexpected change. I hope tomorrow will be a change toward the cooler!


June 12, 2017

Day 286 of my retirement.                             

                                                                    “The Right Ingredients”

     Our kitchen garden behind our house has been a concern for me in the last week or so. It seemed as though the garden was not progressing and nothing was growing. In fact the tomato plants looked as though the leaves were curling and the plants maybe succumbing to the dry weather that we have experienced here on the farm in the last couple weeks.

     I am hesitant to irrigate the garden. When one begins irrigating it seems necessary to continue this process until rain comes back into the forecast.  I decided last night that I would give it a try just to see if an inch or so of water would make any difference in the garden's appearance. So last night I turned on the sprinkler and ran it for 45 minutes. Since it was approaching dark when I turned the water off, I had to wait until today to see any effect that the water might have had on the garden.

     Carrying my coffee cup and wearing my muck boots, I ventured out into the garden very early this morning before the sun had risen above the tree line. I stood in amazement as I observed the distressed garden of yesterday and how much better it looked today. It seemed as though the bean plants had grown an inch or two and the tomato plants, though not much larger, looked remarkably better. And the row of beans that I did not even see yesterday, today I could see poking through the wet ground on the far side of the garden

     Conclusions about this day: I reminded myself this morning that when the right conditions and right ingredients are present in our lives we can grow very quickly as people just as the plants in my garden grew when they had sufficient water.  We all are challenged to identify our own personal needs in order to reach our own potential. I am satisfied that retirement does not change my need to find the right ingredients for my life sot I can continue to grow in this phase of my life. Eric Erickson spoke of the generative phase of life which I now suspect I may have entered. Regardless, I desire to continue growing in some way as long as I have breath.                   teh


June 11, 2017

Day 284 of my retirement.              

                                                              “Caution”!

     A close friend of mine shared with me today about a recent discovery of a health problem he will need to address. I was initially shocked and surprised by his telling me about his problem and the several tesst that he has undergone to determine what the problem is.

     It seems there is a problem with his heart. I have been concerned for this friend over a period of several years. My friend does not always take the best of care of himself and works under a great deal of stress most of the time. I recognize that not taking care of yourself and also living under high stress usually causes some kind of medical event eventually. Since retirement, I am much more aware of how much stress I was living on under while continuing to work full time and later part time. Since retiring, I find myself making efforts to avoid stressful situations altogether. Additionally I am conscientious about doctor appointments and seeing my two physicians who manage those two disorders that I've been diagnosed with.

     I try to remain reasonably active here on the farm and watch what I eat and the quality of sleep that I get. Medical research tells us that male retirees are at a much higher risk for some medical crisis the first year after retirement. As I am in the final quarter of my first year of retirement, I am happy that I have had no other health difficulties then prior to retirement.

     Conclusion about this day: My friend’s health crisis is a reminder for me to be cautious about my well-being as I proceed in retirement. I will pray that my friend is able to deal with this health problem in such a way that it does not significantly interfere with his work and family life. But I will not forget that what has happened to my friend, who is 10 years younger than I, could also happen to me. I will proceed with caution!     teh


June 10, 2017

Day 282 of my retirement.               

                                              “What will they remember?"

     My wife and I were working in the garden this morning. This is a large garden located near my daughter's house which is about 2 miles from our home. We have a large planting of potatoes, onions and tomatoes. Our daughter also has some other vegetables planted in the same plot.

     This morning we were running the tiller in the garden and pulling weeds from around the bases of the tomato and potato plants. The weather was sunny and pleasant. We had been working about 30 minutes with my daughter and granddaughter came out from their house to join us. We used our hoe to continue to chop the small weeds around the plants. I noticed that my five-year-old granddaughter seemed very interested in helping out and being a part of this activity.

     I thought about my own childhood and how I recall at a very young age I joined my parents in the fields as they were doing an activity similar to what we were doing today. I remembered with some detail my own sense of worth when my parents told me that I had done a good job helping out on the farm. For most people memory begins as we have more developed spoken language skills. For some children that's as young as four or five years of age. My granddaughter has very advanced language skills and a very large vocabulary. It leads me to believe that she would have memories of days like today.

     Conclusions about the Day: As a recently retired baby boomer, I do think about wanting to be remembered by my children and grandchildren. What they remember about me remains to be seen. In my retirement years I want to ensure that some of the memories of my children and grandchildren will be useful and helpful in some way later in their lives. I hope my granddaughter will someday say to her children her remembrance of chopping weeds as a young child with her parents and grandparents. That would be a fine conclusion for this day.     teh

 


June 9, 2017

Day 281 of my retirement.

                                                            “Simple pleasures”

     This evening my two younger grandchildren were over for a few hours to visit. Their mother and father had a date night and were going out to dinner. We enjoy doing this little helpful act so as to enable my daughter and son in law the means for a quick night out.

     We fed the children their dinner and then adjourned out into the yard. I was walking through our kitchen garden chopping a few weeds and pulling dirt around some of the plants. My grandchildren seem to love to walk in the garden and kick up the dust. It reminded me of myself a long time ago.

     When I am out in the garden the beef cattle often will come to the fence nearby to see what is taking place. Cattle tend to be very curious animals. When my grandchildren saw the animals they screamed that they wanted to go and feed the animals. I told him that would be fine. We went over to the loading pen where we keep some dry feed and I gave each child two scoops of feed for them to give the cattle. They were delighted to feed the cattle and climb up on the board fence to get a better view. I reminded myself of how such simple activities can lead to such great pleasure with small children.

     Conclusions about this day: Since retirement I have come to realize the importance of spending time with my grandchildren. As I have four grandchildren ranging in age from four years up to 17 years I must realize that each grandchild has different needs. But the best gift I can give any of them is the gift of my time. I will make a greater effort's to do that in the future.                            teh


June 8, 2017

Day 281 of my retirement.                                              

                                                     “Milkshake Madness”

     Today was another beautiful day here on the farm. I decided this morning to go out and run the tiller through my small kitchen garden plot behind the house. I have a very reliable small tiller that is easy for me to use. It always starts very easy. Today it did not start easy.  In fact it did not start at all for several minutes. I felt alarmed that something was seriously wrong with the tiller.

     I finally got it started, and ran it through about 1 1/2 rows of my garden before it quit again. This time I could not restart it. My only option was to take the tiller to the local repair business that works on small engines here in the county. I have used them many times with good success. When I dropped the tiller off today, I was told that it would be 3 to 4 weeks before I could expect to get the tiller back. It seems there has been an exceptional run on grass cutting equipment this time of year! Imagine that! I could not envision waiting that long and not working the weeds out of my garden for three or four weeks. The only alternative is the use of a hoe.

     I discussed this problem briefly with my wife and we decided to purchase a new tiller with the understanding that we would then have a backup if needed. We drove to Louisville and purchased a tiller identical to the one I was using. We took my three year old grandson along as he was staying at our house today. After purchasing the tiller my wife suggested that we stop at the local Chick-fil-A and purchase milkshakes for the three of us. I thought it a good idea and did not need to be convinced otherwise. So we purchased three small chocolate milk shakes.

     I drove to a nearby “big box store” parking lot and said that we would sit there and drink our milkshakes so that we did not dump them on the floor of the fairly new pickup truck. About five minutes later I heard a scream in the backseat. My wife turned to investigate the problem and discovered that our grandson had poked a large hole in the bottom of his cup with his straw. The chocolate liquid was going everywhere on him and the truck seat. My wife grabbed the box of Kleenex and began soaking up the mess while I took the remains of my grandson’s cup and reached outside to dump what little that remained.

     My wife screamed in exasperation "I have never had a grandchild to do this before”!!! After we had cleaned up the significant mess both on our grandson and the backseat of the pickup truck, we were able to smile and chuckle about the milkshake mess that we had resolved. I actually think my grandson was a bit embarrassed which for him is a rare occurrence.

     Conclusion about the day: In the scope of things this event will be viewed at some point in the future as a tiny blip on the timeline of what I believe will be a most productive life for this grandchild. He is very smart but unfortunately, sometimes too smart. I do not believe that he intended to make such a mess. But it did make us all laugh after it was all over and cleaned up. Laughter seems to come much easier for me since my retirement.


June 7, 2017

Day 280 of my retirement.                              

                                                              “My Back Yard”

     I grew up in what is known as old Louisville. That's the part of Louisville that was built around the turn of the 20th century. As a child I lived in the house previously owned by my paternal aunt who passed away when I was five years of age. The house was a two-story on a street of two-story structures that were built for single families. We had a small front and back yard that were about the same size.

     The front yard was decorated with ornamental shrubs, and my parents made every effort to make this old house as pretty as possible while having very limited financial resources to do much. I was encouraged as a child to stay in the back yard and play around the old peach tree and large back porch across the north side of the house. The back yard was arranged for hanging laundry to dry on the rope clothesline. There was a sidewalk from the back porch to the rear gate beyond which we would leave our garbage to be picked up by the city garbage truck each week.

     When my wife and I built our home in 1977 y on the family farm here in Shelby County, our yards could've been much larger than what I was familiar with as a child. However partly out of tradition, we do did not create a very large front yard or back yard. But behind the backyard was a fenced area that we called “the garden”. When our children were still at home, the garden was planted each year with about an acre of vegetables to feed our growing children. Once our children left home and went off to college we realized we no longer needed such a large garden space. The garden space was diverted into grass space and some fruit trees were planted in place of the row crops. Then my wife and I decided that we would build a swimming pool in part of the garden area. The swimming pool was intended to encourage our children and grandchildren to come home from time to time and enjoy the in ground pool.

     We now have had the pool almost 20 year,s and over these past years we have continued to plant perennial flowers in the garden area and around the pool. The garden area has become my most favorite place to go both in the morning and in the evening. It is a true haven for me away from the hustle and bustle of the world around me. We still have a small garden, however it is about 1/10 the size of the gardens we had 30 years ago. But most of our time we spend tending to our flowers and our ornamental shrubs.

     Conclusion about this today: Today was a wonderful day to be out in the garden. One of the highlights today was listening to a pair of quail calling back-and-forth to each other not far behind the southern fence of our garden space. I am thankful that I can enjoy the simplicity of this small green place that gives me such peacefulness at this juncture in my life. One of the joys of retirement is being able to sit in my garden with my cup of coffee and my iPad in the morning and watch the sun come up.    teh


June 6, 2017

Day 279 of my retirement.  

                                                        “Old Tractors and Men”

     Two years ago I purchased a new tractor. It is the only new tractor I have ever owned in my life. I have owned several old tractors over the years. They have all served me well, and I was able to get good use out of them without any major repairs.

    
 When I purchased the new tractor two years ago I decided not to trade in my old Massey Ferguson tractor that I had for more than 20 years. It was not new when I purchased it.  Instead I relegated it to becoming my full-time bush and weed cutting tractor. In other words I keep my bush hog on the tractor all year round.

      Today I walked to my barn where the old tractor is parked and uncovered the tarpaulin that covered it for the winter. I located the key and turn the ignition switch. It immediately fired up and began running just fine. The thought came to me that this tractor had not been started in more than nine months. It smoked for a few minutes and ran loudly before settling down into a smooth run.

     I used the bush hog for a couple hours this afternoon cutting some weeds around the edge of fields that have been placed in cultivation. The old tractor did its job without difficulty.


     Conclusion about the day: It's nice to have new farm equipment. A new tractor is shiny, clean and generally reliable. It has A.C. and a stereo radio in the cab. But there's something comfortable about my old tractor with no cab and no radio. Though almost 40 years old, the old Massey Ferguson still serves me quite well. I suspect I will keep it as long as I live here on this farm. There is a clear parallel between old tractors and older people. Both can still turn in a reliable performance. Just because you get old doesn't mean that you are not able to do what you need to get done. This world needs old tractors. I would like to think that can also be said about people age 65 and above. And that would include me as well!


June 5, 2017

Day 277 of my retirement.                                   “Preparing for Winter!"

     Today I begin the process of preparing for winter. Yes I said winter. As a part of my retirement planning, my son-in-law and I decided to get back into the cattle business. I raised cattle some years ago, but got out of that line of work due to the demands upon me in my professional practice.

     This past year we purchased some heifers and a bull. We wanted to grow a herd of beef cattle that would allow us some income over the years. We have done extensive fencing these past two years in order to have pastures that would be suitable for beef cattle. We managed the cows we had through last winter. We were stressed a bit about running out of hay before spring. We were able to secure hay during the winter so that we had sufficient feed for our stock. I determined that we would not go into another winter without being certain of having sufficient hay. Today I took delivery of two large trailer loads of rolled hay.

     I spent most of the morning and early afternoon unloading and storing away the two large loads of rolled hay that was actually grown here in Shelby County. I believe I now have sufficient forage to get our stock through a normal winter like we have here in Kentucky. It is comforting to know that I have my winter hay supply, and it's still early June.

     Conclusions about this day: One of the life lessons I learned during my career was the old adage to not “put off to tomorrow that which you can do today”. I've seen many examples of people postponing some activity and the result was a bad outcome. I am grateful that I have not only enough hay but also good quality first cutting hay. I think the cows will like this crop.


June 4, 2017

Day 277 of my retirement.                           

                                                          “Back Row Baptist”

     I am a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Shelbyville. Today we served communion in both of our morning services. We rotate as deacons who assist with the passing of the elements. It was my month to assist with the serving of communion today. This meant my attendance at both services. I typically attend the early service but do not very often go to the second (late) service.

     Today after my morning Bible study, I went back to the sanctuary for the second service to find a seat where I might sit near the back of the church. My wife wanted to hear the special music and then go on home to start dinner. I found a seat in the very back row of the church. As my wife had attended the early service with me, she did not plan to stay for the entire second service. So I sat there alone for most of that service. All went well and I assisted with the serving of communion during the service just as I had at the previous one.

     Tonight our church had our regular monthly business meeting. I attended that meeting as I had already been at church for a deacons meeting just prior to the business meeting. Following the business meeting I was approached by the church moderator who told me that he wanted to tell me about something I had done today. I was curious as to what he was referencing. He stated that during the second service today he had looked out at the congregation and saw me sitting in a certain place that was familiar to him.  His father had always sat in that exact spot where I was sitting. His father passed away last year. He told me that his father had much respect for me while alive. He also told me that he appreciated seeing me sitting there today in his father's seat.

     Conclusions about today: sometimes we do things that we knowingly give others pleasure. Today I knew nothing about the significance of where I was sitting. Nonetheless it had importance to another person. He said my presence there made him happy today. That also makes my day pretty special.      teh

 


June 3, 2017

Day 277 of my retirement.                         

                                                    “When does love end?”

     According to “Top Ten Magazine” the number one all-time country song is one sung by George Jones titled “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. I agree that this song is a special piece of music as it conveys a story about a man who loves a woman long after the relationship is over. In fact the song speaks of the man loving her until he dies. The song was released in 1980 and was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman.

     I'm not sure that all real love stories end like this one does. Do people continue to love each other after a divorce or some other breakup of the relationship? Maybe some do but others I am certain do not. In fact some relationships change from love to some other intense emotion that feels more like hate. I am comfortable with the notion that love relationships continue with a strong emotion of some kind for the duration of both persons lives. I think it is unlikely that people who have loved each other come to a place where they feel nothing at all. In my professional practice I met people who wanted you to believe they felt nothing. But I discovered that those persons were usually covering other strong emotions that they did not wish to deal with.

     For most of us when we recall our first love encounter, we remember that person with some strong emotion. We are not always able to put that remembrance in the proper perspective because of the passage of time. First loves frequently have a mixture of all different kinds of emotions which we struggle to make sense of. It is not wise to try and go back and do too much digging into past loves. Rather it is better to assess what learning took place as a result of that time in your life.

     Conclusions about this day: Maybe George Jones would've made a good marriage counselor. He sings about a man who loved a woman far beyond the end of that relationship. It is hard to know when love begins and it is even more difficult to assess when it stops. God created within us the ability to feel love for other human beings. He tells us that love is the greatest of all emotions. He tells us that love never fails. As humans in our frailties, this is a lesson we continue to try and make sense of. Thanks George Jones for a day of humming your song as I tilled my garden today!

 

“He stopped loving her today
they placed a wreath upon his door
and soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today.”*

*”He Stopped Loving Her Today” recorded by George Jones and written by Craddock/Putman


June 2, 2017

Day 263 of my retirement.               

                                                       “Transplanting and Growing”

     Today I went to see the hairdresser who cuts my hair monthly. If you know me well you know that getting a haircut is not a big deal! Snip, snip and they're about done.

     Today when I went to Jeannie’s salon, I took a shovel and bucket so I could dig some perennial flowers that she has growing in her yard. She had told me several visits ago that she would be glad to share these “Variegated Solomon’s Seal” as I really like this perennial and wanted to add a few more to my yard. I have two starts that I purchased several years ago. The plant grows by rhizomes, and actually the root system is very shallow. Therefore it is easy to dig and transplant the green and white plants.

     I see a parallel between digging and moving perennial flowers and my own retirement journey. Before retiring I was well established in a career of many years. Retiring for me means relocating your interest and time in new ventures. I very much enjoy doing volunteer work. Since retiring I have engaged in the formation of several groups that are satisfying for me and, I think, for those who participate in them.

     This weekend you will see many volunteers out and about collecting for the Crusade for Children throughout Kentucky and Indiana. This major fundraiser for special needs children is another wonderful opportunity to engage in temporary volunteer efforts. I wish the volunteer firefighters and police officers who lead this effort much success.

     Conclusions about this day: I believe, for men especially, seeking volunteer opportunities is helpful in the move to retirement. It gives us a sense of purpose and a feeling of doing something worthwhile.


 June 1, 2017

Day 261 of my retirement.                             

                                                             “A New Old Friend”

     Today I drove to Southville, Kentucky to have breakfast with a gentleman who I do not know well but have known for several years. His name is Bob Spencer. Technically he is a third or fourth cousin of mine. The best we can calculate is that his great, great grandfather and my great, great grandfather were brothers.

          Our meeting today was the result of a shared interest in a family cemetery near Mount Eden, Kentucky which Bob has maintained for a number of years. The Hedden Family Cemetery was not being maintained, and therefore was overgrown with weeds. Bob spearheaded the mowing and care of this old family cemetery. It now looks much better and is overall in reasonable condition. Bob has recruited a number of descendants of people buried there to contribute toward the maintenance of the cemetery. Since I have relatives buried there I have financially helped to support this endeavor also.

     Our breakfast this morning of scrambled eggs and hash browns was quite tasty. But what was of greater pleasure was talking about our shared family tree. Bob knows far more than I do about our ancestors. Since neither of us is a young man, we recognize the importance of exchanging information about our families in order to provide a written document that can be passed on to his children and mine.

     Conclusions about this day: 
Retirement allows me more time to meet and interact with friends and acquaintances than when I was working full-time. I commit myself to continuing to have interactions with people like Bob in the weeks and months to come. It was especially nice to have breakfast at this neighborhood hang out in Southville, Kentucky. I look forward to going back there again in the future.     teh


May 31, 2017

 Day 261 of my retirement.                

  “Green Beans and Hyacinths”

     I was out in my garden this evening as the final day of May sun was setting. Tonight was a rare moment when I did not have my camera or cell phone in my possession to capture the beauty and changing colors in the sky above me. I found myself looking up with some frequency at the puffy marshmallow clouds as they changed from bluish white to bright orange and finally to gray. The clouds were interspersed against the turquoise sky of late evening.

     I had ventured out into our "kitchen garden” for the purpose of planting another row of Blue Lake beans and several hills of summer squash. My work proceeded quickly with little delay, the cool westerly breeze keeping me comfortable. My wife and I have raised gardens each and every year of our forty nine year marriage. We have long ago abandoned any cost benefit ratio analysis of this annual project. Truth be known, it might well be financially advantageous to buy beans, cabbage, broccoli and squash at Kroger or Walmart. We grow our garden because the rows of plants are like the veins in our body. It's part of who we are.

     There hangs a framed calligraphy image in my bedroom with the following verse. "If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft, and from thy slender store, two loaves alone are left. Sell one, and with the dole, buy hyacinths for the soul". That unknown author’s verse has been with me for over forty five years. It is a compass for choices I make. You see, of my six row garden, two rows are dedicated to the planting of cut flowers such as cosmos, zinnias, snapdragons and sunflowers. They remain my “hyacinths for my soul”!

     Conclusions about this day: retirement has given me more time for working in the garden. But the weeds seem to be more numerous this season. I will not need to go to the gym to work out this season! I’ll just keep on chopping weeds in my vegetable, err flower garden.

 


May 30, 2017 

Day 260 of my retirement.              

     “Reflections on Memorial Day”

     This morning I had breakfast with several of my friends at Cracker Barrel. This breakfast gathering is a part of an ongoing Bible study group that I have been a member on for many years. At the beginning of our Bible study each week we share prayer concerns and share a little bit about what's going on in our individual lives. When it became my turn, I shared with the group about my having gone to Zachary Taylor Cemetery yesterday and seeing the thousands of graves decorated with American flags. I also shared that there had been more people present at that early hour than I had anticipated since I had been there very early in the morning (8:00 AM).

     One of my friends inquired as to why there might have been so many people present. He wondered if this was a demonstration of some renewed patriotism within our nation. I replied that I wasn't sure as I did not think the population that I observed was significant enough to draw such a broad conclusion. I also noted that those persons who were present at the cemetery yesterday were essentially all from the “Boomer generation” of adults (those born between 1946 and 1964) in this country. I am not sure that is a significant observation. But it does not surprise me as in my studies of Boomers, I find them to be generally more sensitive and respectful of those who have gone before us. Boomers can be very patriotic but they also are a part of the generation that publicly burned American flags during the 1960s through 80s. That generation respects the right to publicly express approval and disapproval of causes that others champion.

     Conclusions about this day: we did not draw any scientific findings related to my visit at this national cemetery yesterday. I am most glad that I went and was pleased to see other people of my generation there as well. As a retired person, I remain committed to the rights of all to publicly  express their views both for and against opinions of others. I do not support the rioting that can follow or physical violence towards those you may disagree with. But I will stand in full support of those who peacefully express their views even when, in philosophy, I completely disagree with their views.    teh


May 29, 2017

Date 259 of my retirement. 

     "Memorial Day”

     I set my alarm this morning for 6 AM. I wanted to get up early and have breakfast and still have time to get to my destination by 8 AM. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hash browns and toast, I loaded my camera gear in the back of my auto and, accompanied by my wife, we drove to Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville Kentucky. We arrived shortly after 8 AM and to my surprise there were a number of visitors and family members already present walking across the carefully manicured lawn. The green grass was accentuated by the snow white markers indicating approximately 14,000 graves at the cemetery. Each grave today was marked by a small American flag which stood in silent sentinel before each stone on this Memorial Day.

     My wife and I exited our auto and walk silently among the stones noting names and military service of those who were interred there. I did not recognize most of the names but I did recognize the branches of service and the wars in which they served. Some died in combat but others died many years later as older citizens. Some were buried in graves alone while others were buried adjacent to spouses or children.

After having shot several photographs an older gentleman walked up to me and inquired if I had been here on Memorial Day before. I acknowledge that I had been here on several other occasions. He stated that he had been here the past six memorial days. We spoke briefly while he talked about having traveled very little and desiring someday to visit Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington DC. I told him that I had been there on more than two occasions. He seemed impressed that I had traveled that much. After exchanging a few pleasantries my wife and I departed toward the exit of the cemetery. We stopped near the gate and read some of the grave markers of persons who served in wars but whose bodies were never found.

Conclusions about this day: Memorial Day or as it once was called Decoration Day is a day to honor those people who have died in defense of our country. It grieves me that so many people who served in the Armed Forces died in combat or as a result of combat wounds. I pray that someday there will no longer be a threat of war. But until that day comes America will need patriots who are willing to face enemy forces and perhaps make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation. May God bless them all.


May 28, 2017

  Day 258 of my retirement.                           Thankful

     Tonight, I watched the National Memorial Day celebration on our local Public Television station. I have watched this powerful program several times over the years. The program is filled with patriotic music and interviews with men and women who have served in our armed forces in war times going back to World War Two, Korea, Viet Nam and the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people spoken about are the real heroes of our nation, not the Hollywood stars who host these patriotic programs. The music and words spoken bring a lump to my throat and a tear to my eyes.

     Just before dark tonight, I walked out on my deck and surveyed the garden and pastures beyond. I listened to the silence as the birds of day were now quieted with the fading light. I thought about how blessed  my family and I are to live in a place where we are truly free and can worship God as we know Him. I do not fear for my safety because there is a military presence that defends our country from hostile forces near and abroad. This weekend, we publicly rognize all those who have served as well as those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

     Conclusion about this day:  I am thankful for the many who have served our nation in times of war. Tomorrow morning, early in the day, my wife and I will make our way once more to Zachery Taylor Cemetery in Louisville to pay our heartfelt respects to the many men and women who lie in eternal rest there. We will salute the rows of flags and we will quietly honor the memory of good people who served their nation when called upon by their country. It will be good.      teh

 


May 27, 2017

Day 257 of my retirement.              

                                                          “Graduation Day “

     
Today is graduation day in Shelby County, Kentucky. Shelby County High School had its graduation ceremony today at 10 AM. Collins High School, the other high school in the county, had their graduation this afternoon. I attended the Shelby County High School graduation as my grandson graduated with highest honors. He received many accolades as a part of the graduation program.

     His graduation took me back to my own high school graduation more than 53 years ago. Those days are but a distant memory for me. At the time it seemed as though so much of my life was complete. Looking back so many years later, I realize that was just the beginning of so much more. It gives me great pleasure to think about all that lies ahead for this most gifted grandchild. College was the most exciting time in my life. It is a time of great discovery and a time of new beginnings. Most likely the person with whom he will spend his life, he will meet somewhere on a college campus. My grandson has amazing potential. He says he wants to go to medical school and be a doctor. He has the brain power to do that and so much more. I pray that he will remain focused and find the area of medicine that can become his life story.

     High school graduation is just the beginning. As one who has recently retired, I now know how much more there is ahead. I will pray for this young man as often as his name comes to my mind. I will pray for strength and wisdom and determination.

      Conclusions about this day:  After graduation today we went out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant. His mother and father, sister, grandparents aunts and uncles were all present around a very large table as we celebrated the events of this day. I doubt if my grandson was able to take in the magnitude of the moment having parents, grandparents and extended family present for an occasion such as this. I watched my grandson tear up as his father read a blessing for him at that dinner. Men in my family do not often cry. But tears were shed by father, son and grandfather as this blessing was spoken. It was a wonderful graduation day. A day of new beginnings!                            teh

 


May 26, 2017

Day 256 of my retirement.                                               

                                                                       “Sing out loud, sing out strong!”

     Yesterday was a day filled with clouds and rain showers. The sun arose this morning with the prospect of a clear brilliant day. I was up early today because my back was hurting from some unknown move I did yesterday that caused it to tighten up. None the less, I decided to venture outside and stroll through the garden in the early morning light. In preparation, I filled my coffee cup and put on my muck boots before walking out into the yard while the sun was still rising in the east below the distant tree-line. The grass was covered with a heavy dew as were all of the plants and bushes around our home. Although the weather was a little cool my sweats afforded me sufficient layers of clothing that I was quite comfortable. The coffee taste especially good in the coolness of this morning.

     While I stood beneath an old red bud tree along my garden path, I heard the familiar sound I recognized as a tiny nuthatch singing its familiar song. As the sound was close by I looked carefully to find the culprit who was singing so loudly this early in the morning. I identified the sound coming from a tiny immature nuthatch. It was resting very nearby and almost directly above my head. The bird was singing with such intensity its entire body seem to shake as it's sang its song. I giggled as I noticed the tail feathers wiggling in concert with the song.

     The thought came to my mind about how some of God’s creation can be so engrossed in living, and that I might learn something from this little bird and its approach to life. I fear that sometimes I am not able to reach the heights of enthusiasm about an early morning walk in my garden so that my entire body would shake with excitement as I approach the beginning of a new day.

     Conclusions about this today: retirement reminds me that I am now in the last quarter of my life. I am uncertain about how long I will remain here. My mother lived into her mid-80s and my father to his mid- 90s. But that does not give me certainty about my own lifespan. Nonetheless I pledge to make each day more like that little nuthatch with my regards to enjoying the moment that I have and celebrating life just because I'm living. That will be a challenge some days for me but I will persevere as I continue my journey through retirement. It is a beautiful morning and this day promises only to get better.                    teh

 


May 25, 2017

Day 255 of my retirement.                  

                                                                          “Family Reunion”

     When I was a young child I have foggy memories of family reunions with my mother’s family held on the third Sunday in August at a small health resort called Sulfur Well, Kentucky in Edmonson County. Later these reunions would be held at my Grandmother’s home in Green County near Adams Creek. My mother’s family was large and a gathering always included a “pot-luck” meal and some tall tale sharing.

     I spoke today with my cousin Anna who lives in Southern Kentucky. We have been talking about family members getting together for lunch on an uncertain Saturday this summer. We finally reached a date today settling on July 15 at Sulfur Well, Kentucky. The location is central to many of my cousins who live in south central Kentucky.


     This will be a little bit of a drive for me but that is OK. Since my retirement and as I get older, I realize the importance of staying connected with extended family members. My own biological Hedden family is very small. My mother's family was quite large. Therefore the family members with whom I am most likely to reach out to our of my mother’s extended kin. The plan is for us to meet at a small local restaurant for lunch and then to walk to the home of my cousin a short distance away. We will spend some time catching up and telling stories of the past. I suggested that each cousin bring a picture or some object to share in a “show and tell” format. That gives an opportunity to tell stories that allow us to pass along family history to subsequent generations.

     Conclusion about this day: My family, including extended family, is an important part of whom I am and where I came from. In these retirement years, I intend to document as much as I can about my family of origin.  This way I can pass along to my children and grandchildren stories about their ancestors that someday they may wish to know more about.                       teh

 

 


 May 24, 2017

Day 254 of my retirement.        

                                                              “What is the price of your time”?

     It seems to me that marketing has increasingly implemented a strategy that allows them to control your time in exchange for something you want. I am writing about this as I do not like the results for me. Today, I was shopping in Sam's Club and came to the kiosk that offers a free sample of some product they are selling. Today it was the little butter crackers that we all like with our salads. I inserted my Sam's card to get a sample of the product. Instead I was introduce to a 20 second infomercial about this product as well as other products in the store. I realized that I was not going to get my package of crackers until the infomercial had completed its cycle. Suddenly the crackers seem to have less and less interest for me. I envision myself as a parrot begging for a cracker. As there is a counter on the machine telling me how many more seconds I had to endure the advertisement.  I distracted my attention until the package of crackers fell into the box below for me to retrieve. To my surprise when I lifted the package of crackers I found that they had broken as a result of the being dropped into the dispensing tray.


     I have become a regular player of solitaire on the Internet. Initially I could play as many games as I wished without interruption. Now I'd find that if I wish to change any aspect of the game including playing any more difficult level, I have to endure some advertisement for some other internet game of which I have no interest.


     My point is, I do not like to have my time controlled by some electronic device trying to sell me something I have no interest in. But it appears that this is the new marketing strategy that seems to be permeating the world in which we live.


     Conclusion about this today: As I am now retired, I will not subject myself to anyone or anything that tells me how I must use my limited time. I may need to distance myself from some of these electronic devices unless I am willing to endure the marketing garbage that they offer to me. Maybe I need to find an old fashion deck of cards and forget about the electronic ones! Maybe I just need to get myself on a tractor and mow some hay. That way the computers cannot annoy me. Or can they?    teh


May 23, 2017 

Day 253 of my retirement.                        

                                                     “The Brotherhood of Male Friends”

     Since my retirement I have increasingly become aware of the value in staying in touch with other people. It is very easy to feel a sense of isolation when you do not go to your place of work on a daily basis. For many years, I enjoyed the mental and emotional stimulation of interacting with peers and those I supervised. I have been blessed that I have been and still remain part of a number of small social or task oriented groups most of which are primarily male in composition. I do enjoy the opportunity also to be in a few mixed groups with men and women.


     It is the stimulation that one receives from interacting with other people and hearing their thoughts and ideas about issues that we share in common as well as issues on the world front that gives me a sense of connection.


     Today I attended an early morning group with 12 men (eleven of whom are retired) who meet weekly to study God's word recorded in the Holy Bible. This group has been meeting for many years since we all were still working. I feel a very close friendship with these men around the table. One of the other men spoke up this morning and said how important this group is to him on a weekly basis. I thought to myself that I was in full agreement and that it is important to me as well.

     Conclusions about this day: An essential part of retirement for me is staying connected with other people. I look forward to the small groups that I interact with on a weekly as well as monthly basis. I hope that new people will join these groups so as to give me new stimulation for new ideas. I will be responsible to share my ideas even when others may not be in agreement in order that we can have a productive dialogue together.                   teh

 


 May 22, 2017

Day 252 of my retirement.               

                                                   “Stormy Nights and Sunny Days”

     I awakened this morning to the sound of song birds singing in the trees outside our open screened porch doors. The sun was near to its launch toward a new day. Although still gray with early light, the promise of a fine day was already telegraphed by the clear sky and the excitement of critters stirring in the fields and forest nearby.

     Last night, as I prepared to retire to my bed and sweet sleep, the rain was still falling outside. Earlier in the evening, I heard the sounds of wind and thunder signaling still another round of storms and wet weather. It is always interesting to me how different the weather seems in darkness than in the light of day. While not really afraid of the storms, last night I found myself wearied by the rain and the wind that had repeatedly come during the afternoon and evening.

     It has always seemed to me that darkness accentuates my own negativity. I suspect that is true for many people. I find that even on the darkest of days sitting near a window with the curtain pulled open or lights turned on seems to lift my overall emotional spirits. Today with the sun shining bright and as I sit at my desk by the window, my downcast spirits seem miles away.

Conclusions about this day: we are all affected by light and dark. The darkness affords us a place to sleep.  I find that most of what I do needs to be done in the daylight. Or at least the bright light of LED bulbs. I wish for you today much brightness both in weather and in mood.   teh

 


May 21, 2017

 

Day 251 of my retirement.        

                                      “Baccalaureate Service and Graduation Week Begins”
 

      Tonight I attended the Baccalaureate service for students graduating from Collins High School, Cornerstone Academy and Shelby County High School here in Shelby County. My oldest grandson, Cameron will be graduating from Shelby County High School next Saturday. I stand amazed that his high school years have passed so quickly. I still want to think of him as a preschooler or elementary school student. But then I remind myself of all he has done and the special programs he has participated in. He has traveled to Central America twice on mission trips and has been chosen a Governor’s Scholar. He has been a part of a youth volunteer program all around the state of Kentucky.  

     He has also been able to maintain a GPA in excess of 4.0. This is done by getting a perfect A+ in accelerated class programs. He also has served as a student representative of the Shelby County School Board. I confess that I am more than a bit proud of what he has done.  

     Following the baccalaureate service tonight at Shelby Christian Church, he will go through his graduation program next Saturday ranked number three in his graduating class. He has already chosen to go to college in Atlanta at Emery University majoring in pre-med. He wants to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon. I think he is capable of that and even more.

Conclusions about this day: I am at the end of my professional career. My grandson is at the beginning of a most promising career. I’m excited about what lies ahead for the both of us!    teh 


May 20, 2017

Day 250 of my retirement.       

                                            “A penny—err, nickel for your thoughts!” 

     I regularly go to Cracker Barrel on Saturday mornings to meet with my local Gideon Camp for our weekly meeting at Cracker Barrel. The camp consists of six to eight men who serve as Gideons here in this county giving reports to individual churches about the work of Gideons and Bible distribution throughout our country.

     Today as I was leaving the camp meeting to return home, I exited through the door as a young couple was also departing. The couple appeared to be in their early twenties. I held the door as this couple followed me out the door. The young man dropped a nickel as he exited the door. To my surprise, the young man kicked the nickel to the flower bed (intentionally) and continued to make his way to his vehicle.

     I admit I was stunned. I am one who habitually will pick up a penny whether heads up or heads down. I have been told that heads up is lucky while heads down is unlucky. Any penny for me is a keeper and I am lucky to find it. A nickel is unquestionably a coin to retrieve. I stopped and watched the couple walk away. I called to his attention that he lost a coin. He said “You can have it”! I picked the nickel up and placed it in my pocket. I felt especially “lucky” today!

Conclusions about this day: Times have changed. I recall that G.B. Shaw thought that “those who take care of the pence will never have to worry about the pound”. I have interpreted the proverb to mean that not wasting pennies will improve the likelihood of success with greater amounts of resources. Do not worry, I will continue to pick up any coin I see in the street, heads up or heads down!            teh

 


May 19, 2017

Day 249 of my retirement.


                                                                               “Working Four till Ten”

     Retirement is now a reality for me. I find myself recalling my early days of work. As I now look back on my nearly forty eight years of employment in the field of mental health, I find myself recalling my first foray into the field of public service. I must go back for some jobs to the early 1960’s and my scheduled working evenings and nights from four pm till ten pm.

     Most of my life I have had some kind of employment as a part of my daily routine. When I was living at home and before graduating from high school I mowed several lawns in my neighborhood. I mowed as many as 14 yards every two weeks and I was paid anywhere from two dollars to five dollars for each lawn. I would mow the grass with a twenty inch push gas mower and trim by hand the edges. I also swept the sidewalks. In those days I was able to raise $30-$40 every two weeks. That was a good income for a young teenager.

     After graduating from high school I began looking for other job,s and I discovered that I was able to secure a job without too much difficulty. In my first job, I worked in a dry cleaners in St . Matthews. My second job was in a discount department store not far from my first job. I worked in that job for four years. It provided me sufficient income that I was able to have some spending money of my own while going to college full-time. My parents did not have a lot of money and it was very difficult for me to go to college at that time. But I did have a sufficient scholarship that enabled me to use part of my work income to cover my other college expenses.

     My next job in the discount department store involved working in the sporting goods and garden shop year around. I especially enjoyed working in the garden shop since I already knew quite a bit about plants and flowers. The worst part of working in the garden shop was the hot summer days and loading 2 cubic foot bales of peat moss that had been soaked with rain water. Those bales would sometimes weigh over 100 pounds. Yet customers expected me to load those bales in their vehicles by myself.

Conclusions about these days: Looking back on my early career in the public sector I realize now how much learning I acquired that helped me later in my career in more professional positions. I learned the importance of listening to people and what they wanted to purchase. I learned to look them in the eyes when I spoke to them. And I learned to be respectful to them regardless of how they treated me. Good lessons. Good memories. And yes long hours working four till ten pm.

 


May 18, 2017

 Day 248 of my retirement.                      “Brisket and Baseball Caps”

     This evening my wife and I had the privilege of attending a cattleman meeting here in our county. The meeting was a voluntary program offering training to farmers in the management of beef cattle. We have a small herd here on our farm, and I thought it would be useful to learn more about the details of raising livestock in the best way possible.

     The program consists of 10 three hour meetings over a period of about four months. Tonight's meeting lasted about three hours and covered information about livestock habitat. There were about 40 people present many of them younger men. Most were dressed as though they had come directly there from their farm to this meeting. They were dressed in blue jeans T-shirts and various baseball caps. The baseball caps reflected farm equipment dealers, fertilize companies and other agricultural products. Many of the caps were dirty and appeared to have been well worn.

     Our meeting included a very nice catered meal consisting of beef brisket, mashed potatoes, green beans and apple dumplings. I have come to expect that farmers typically keep their hats on most of the time inside or out. There are two times however that I do see farmers generally removing their hats. The first is when prayer of thanksgiving is being offered for the food that they are about to eat. The second is after they have filled their plates in a buffet line and are about to chow down on the food itself. The rest of the evening most of the young man there wore their baseball caps.

Conclusions about this day: I was one of the oldest people present tonight. Out of the 40 there, I counted 10 females and my wife was the oldest female there. It is affirming to me that there are a lot of young people who seem interested in farming. The future of farming in Shelby County seems strong with new generations coming into “the fields”. It is also reassuring to me that a public demonstration of personal faith can still be seen in farm meetings. One should not be surprised since farmers depend on God's providence to provide the needed weather necessary to bring a crop to harvest. I'm glad that in my retired state I can still call myself a farmer. It is still a title of respect and vocational necessity!   teh


 

May 17, 2017

Day 247 of my retirement.                          

                                                                         “A Private Table for Two

     Our home was the result of two building projects twenty four years apart. The first construction took place in 1977. The second took place in 2001. Since the beginning of the first turn of the shovel in the earth, I have always thought this would be the last place I would ever live. Now forty years later I still hold the same belief.

     Part of the design we proposed for our home was that the house would stand on a landscaped lot with large trees that afforded adequate shade during the hot seasons. The south side of our home would have lots of windows so as to invite the winter sun into our living space. We ended up with thirteen openings for that warming winter sunlight.

     But of the greatest importance was that our home would have outdoor space that would allow us to commune with nature both in winter, spring and summer. We built an oversized deck across the full ninety feet of the south side of our home. The deck ranges from twelve feet to twenty two feet in width. We have a large screened porch as well as two open porches on the north and west side of our house. These covered spaces allow us to be outside even in the rain or maybe snow. We have several sitting locations on these covered spaces.

     Tonight, on one of those rare nights when we had no commitments to be anywhere after dinner, I decided to set one of our outside tables for dinner for the two of us. My wife had made shredded pork barbecue, Italian oven fried potatoes and new sugar snap peas. She made chocolate brownies with strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries on top for dessert. The dinner was lovely. But the better part of the evening was the two of us sitting outside with birds singing in the nearby trees and a cool breeze blowing out of the southwest.

Conclusion about this day: Retirement allows us all to enjoy those quiet moments with the ones we love. We find the time to enjoy being still and knowing we are “blessed beyond measure”!

teh

 


May 16, 2017

Day 246 of my retirement.        

                                                          “Birthdays and Other Special Events”

     I never really liked birthdays. The truth is that I kinda dread those days.They always reminded me that I am one year older. To tell the truth I have at times felt a little uncomfortable with so much attention being placed upon me. As a child my parents always made a big event out of my birthday. Since my birthday is three days before Christmas, I think they were trying to make up for the fact that my birthday most years got lost in the Christmas season itself.


     Today is the birthday of one of my very good friends. I have known Tom for over 20 years. He is a person that I have grown to appreciate a great deal. Tonight we are going out to dinner with him and his wife. This is something we have done on countless other occasions over the years. As I was thinking about his birthday today, I think I recognize that birthdays for other people are a lot more fun than my own. I can actually get excited about celebrating someone else's birthday. The reality is they are getting a year older not me. I actually don't keep track of exactly how old Tom is today. But it's really not that important to focus upon. The importance is that he is a good friend who I have known for many years and enjoy spending time with him.


Conclusions about this day: Birthdays for some people are a special time. For me and my birthday, I find it to be just another day. Actually I would prefer to skip over it to the next day. However my children and grandchildren will not allow that to occur on my birthday. So today as I celebrate the birthday of a good friend, I will enjoy the evening and give a gentle ribbing to my friend on his birthday and being one year older.                       teh


 

May 15, 2017


Day 245 of my retirement.                    

 

                                                                       “Roadside Beauties”

 

     Their common name is Coreopsis or "tickseed".  These flowers are considered wildflowers and grow in abundance in some parts of the southeastern US. These seeds were purchased by me some time ago at a wildflower farm in Richardson, Texas not too far from San Antonio. I did not "plant" the seeds. Rather I released the seed from my hands and allowed that autumn breeze to carry them to where ever they landed two years ago.

     Today these flowers were the highlight of my day. Their color and movement in the gentle breeze this morning caught my attention as I prepared to exit from my dusty gravel driveway. I stopped at the intersection to the paved state road and reversed my truck back into my driveway. I walked the few steps over to the bank on which they grow. I shot several photo images of these golden delights. I marveled at how such a simple plant that goes unnoticed ten months out of the year can be so brilliant for the six to eight weeks they bloom.

     I have come to understand how flowers favorably influence my moods. Flowers like these (from the Aster family) are excellent examples of "mind altering" flowers! As they are perennials, I can hope for re-blooms in years to come. For those of you who wondered, yes, I drove steel posts along the bank so as to prevent the Highway Department from mowing down these beauties.

 

Conclusion about this day: If you are out my way, slow down or stop by and enjoy my "Joy of May" . You will have no difficulty spotting them. They actually wave to you as you drive by!


May 14, 2017

Day 244 of my retirement.                           “Mother’s Day 2017”

Mother’s Day is a difficult day for many people. It is according to mental health professionals the most difficult holiday of the year. For some, Mother’s day is hard as that person’s mother is no longer alive; there is the regret that Mom is not there. I fall into that group.

For others, there is estrangement between mother and child. For those persons, there may be anger that the relationship is damaged in some way. For those, the day may be long as both mother and child wonder if they will hear from the other or if that other person has thought of them that day. And then there are those families that are separated over the miles. The sadness that they will be unable to see each other that day. The regret that this day must go with only a phone call or a mailed card that hopefully arrived in time.

Mother’s Day was different for me today. Both my children and all my grandchildren were able to come together and have a nice dinner hosted by my daughter at their farmhouse just a few miles away.

But the memorable part of the day was spending the afternoon in the family garden with my wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren planting thirty tomato plants and planting another row of bush beans. And of course the walking through the rest of the large garden chopping out the few pesky weeds that persistently try to remain in our usually tidy space.

Conclusion about this day: Spending time together as family working in the garden. Not a bad plan for Mother’s day 2017!          teh


May 13, 2017

Day 243 of my retirement.                           “Me time and we time”

Saturdays since I have retired have been one of the days of the week that have been easier in adjusting to. It seems as if my routine has not changed that much on that day of the week. My wife and I have always done things and spent more time together on Saturdays than other days of the week.

As a retired man, I have discovered a truth that I believe may apply to all men. That truth has to do with “me time” and “we time”. Me time is the time I choose to do things alone and apart from my wife. Things I enjoy doing which my wife does not share the same interests. Reading books, some photography, connecting with friends on the internet, meeting old friends for lunch and such things such as this. The actual amount of time I spend engaged in these activities totals less than 15 hours a week. But I find this time very important for my own wellness. My wife will ask me what my plans are or where I am going. I will tell her. And then tell her to call me if she needs to reach me. She never does.

The “we time” on the other hand is time I make sure my focus is on activities I can share with my wife that I know in the past she has expressed pleasure with me. There are countless things we have discovered that we enjoy doing together. Some of the big items are traveling on vacation together, going for extended hikes in the woods, gardening, spending time with grandchildren and cooking. The majority of time we are awake, we spend together.

But I have also learned that my wife also needs her time away from me. Her needs are more unpredictable for me. But I have learned to read her fairly well. I can tell by her countenance, her voice and manners. I tell her I am going out and doing some work on the farm and will return in a couple hours. When I get back to the house or she returns from where ever she went, I reassess whether she needs more time apart from me. I feel no hurt or rejection. I just remind myself that I too need a break just as she does.

Conclusions about this day: Today was a nice mix of “we time” and a little bit of “me time”. The day was busy with things we did. But neither of us seemed to be stressed by the other’s presence. I am grateful for such Saturdays.                         teh

 
 

May 12, 2017

Day 242 of my retirement.                           “Molasses memories”

Tonight my wife and I took our “across the road neighbors”, the Webbs, out to dinner tonight. We dined at The Bell House here in Shelbyville. We enjoy having an evening with them from time to time. We also wanted to take them to dinner as a way of saying thanks for looking after our “critters” when we are away overnight which we were a few weeks ago. We had brought them some maple syrup and molasses while on our recent trip to the Smokies.

As we were visiting with Edith and Tommy, we got on the subject of good molasses. Tommy told me about still having the cooking pan in his barn where they years ago cooked down the molasses juice into a syrup that was a fine addition to buttermilk biscuits fresh from the oven with a dollop of home churned butter.

I shared that my maternal grandfather, L.M. Keltner in the early years of the twentieth century was a master molasses maker in southern Kentucky around Green and Adair counties. I was told by my aunt Vedus that “Pa Keltner” might be gone for days at a time making molasses for some neighbor in the community. When he would return home, his wagon would contain several gallons of molasses as payment for his cooking down that person’s juice. “Pa” would either keep the Molasses for his own consumption or else trade it at a country store for other needed items back at the Keltner Farm on Adams Creek.

Conclusions about this day: Times have changed. Now all food products must pass the inspection of an F.D.A. agent before sales to the consumer. My sweet memories of childhood are almost as fine as the sorghum molasses that I still enjoy at breakfast on that hot biscuit fresh from the hot oven! teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

  
May 11, 2017
Day 241 of my retirement.                           “Hot coffee on my porch”
Today began with rain. Not the hard driving rain but rather the slow gentle falling of raindrops that remind me of days in the mountains with rain. Today I sat out on my screened porch and sipped hot coffee while I was preparing for my Bible study class on Sunday. I usually try to prepare several days in advance so as to have time to make a revision or two before Sunday.
Retirement allows me those special times of being alone and settled with a good cup of coffee and my Bible. These quiet times were not available when I was at my practice office during the week. This quiet time is part of what I enjoy most about retirement. We built this screened in porch about four years ago with the idea that we could enjoy this “retreat” after retirement. It has proven to be a special get away without leaving the house.
Today as I sat there engrossed in my scripture for Sunday, I tried to develop my lesson theme around Matthew 26. The sounds of the gentle rain on the roof and the cool breeze made the time an exceptional memory for this day. I was able to complete a first draft for my Sunday study. I will review this material a time or two between now and the weekend.
Conclusions about this day: Retirement has given me the occasion to enjoy quiet and peacefulness that one can find while sitting outside on a covered porch with the rain coming down. I am thankful that I have the time for such an adventure as this.                       teh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

May 10, 2017

Day 240 of my retirement.                           “Cleaning Up”

     When I retired last September, I made the decision to pursue several volunteer opportunities that had been made known to me. One involved a photography group that I could start. Another involved giving training to church members in Christian counseling. Still another involved the continuation of a Boomer Ministry that I started three years ago at my church.

     The last decision I made was to volunteer to wash dishes at my church on Wednesday nights following our family dinner. We serve as many as 150 persons during this dinner hour. Tonight brought the end to our family dinners for this church year. We will resume this service in August. But tonight we washed dishes for the last time till late summer. I must confess that this volunteer work is by far the most physically demanding of all my volunteer projects. Hot water, heavy pots and pans, bending and stooping, loading and unloading a commercial dish washer, it is hard work!

     Conclusions about this day: Doing volunteer work has been helpful to me as I transitioned from professional practice to retirement. It has enabled me to remain connected to people and give me a sense of worth. I think for those when they retire and to remain healthy, it is essential to find some way to “give back” to the community in which they live and work. For me washing dishes is a way for me to feel useful as I clean up the dishes at my church on Wednesday nights.                           teh

 


May 9, 2017

Day 239 of my retirement.                                         

                                                              "No Way to Treat a Lady"

     Helen Reddy, the Australian-American Pop recording star recorded the song “No way to treat a lady” in 1975. This song was recorded in a time when women’s rights were in transition and the role of women and men was moving to an equal footing throughout North America. It was a time when I was trying to understand the role transition for women in the state of Georgia where I was living at that time.

     Fast forward to today. I was at a local farm store buying bean seed to replant a row that I did not get a good stand with beans that were one year old. As I was exiting the store with my one half pound purchase securely in my hand I observed a female acquaintance fully twenty years my junior exiting the store at exactly the same time and walking to the same parking row in the lot pushing two fifty pound bags of chicken feed. My male chauvinist kicked in and I impulsively offered to load her chicken feed in her auto. She gracefully declined my offer.

     As an afterthought, I said I hoped that I did not offend her with my offer as I noted some ladies desire no help from a man unless she had first asked him to assist. She laughed and said she took no offense. She said she was touched with my offer. She slid the bags into her trunk, entered the vehicle and drove away.

     Conclusion about this day: The relation between men and women has changed in the past forty years. Some for the better and some not. I regret that I even had concern as to how a lady would respond to my offer to assist. I intended no offense. Apparently no offense was taken by this lady. Next time--, I will likely do exactly the same as I did today. Because that is the way I was taught to treat a lady.        teh

 

May 8, 2017

Day 238 of my retirement.                           “Shifting Gears”

I begin each journal entry with the number of days since September 1, 2016 when I worked my last full day in my practice. I realize that it has been almost 2/3 of a year since that day. When I first retired, I wondered how I would fill my days with things to do. I thought I might find myself bored with little to do with my time.

Today, I chuckle at such unrealistic thoughts and expectations. Each day, it seems I have more to do than time to do it. It feels as if I am continually shifting gears! This day is another day when I was unable to finish what I had planned to do.  I began my day with doing some computer preparation for the class I teach for Christian counselors. I spent more than two and a half hours preparing for the class tonight. When I finished the desk work, I went outside and used the push and riding mower to mow both around my garden as well as up at the barn where last week I had new fence installed. This took about two hours as well. Then I worked in the flower garden chopping weeds. Finally I ran the roto tiller through my garden behind the barn. I tilled the entire garden and planted twelve tomato plants and four eggplants.

Late this afternoon, I took a shower, ate dinner and went to my class at church where I teach a group on Christian counseling. The group went so well that we actually ran overtime and I did not arrive back home till after nine PM.

Conclusions about this day: There is always plenty to be done in my life. I’m not complaining. I like staying busy. I like the feeling of being useful. I hope to continue this schedule as long as I am able to do so. I must work at being smooth at shifting gears.        teh

 

 

May 7, 2017

Day 237 of my retirement.                           “Tomato Season”

Derby day has by history been a day that, when passed, I conclude that it is time to plant tomatoes and other summer garden produce. This afternoon we planted 18 tomato plants out of our cold frame. The plants ranged in size from 12 to 20 inches tall. I had planted Rutgers, Big Early, and Beefsteak tomato varieties.

By history, Derby Day and “frost-free” dates overlap within a day or two on the calendar. Tomato plants are fairly sensitive to cold and frosty weather conditions. I try to not plant tomatoes when there is the risk of frost. Also tomatoes do not grow when the soil is cold. Other summer produce I will now feel able to plant include summer squash, corn, okra, peppers, pumpkins and watermelons.

Presently I have green beans that have broken through the ground and cold crops that are weeks from maturity. The potatoes are at bloom stage and onions about ready to harvest. I’m excited about the coming days and our vegetable garden. The time of planting the remainder of the garden is at hand!

Conclusions about this day: Planting tomato plants afforded not only the beginning of a ripe tomato by July 4 (I hope), but also the sweet memories of our children and grandchildren working on the farm planting with their grandparents. What a joyous day!                        teh

 
 
 
 

 May 6, 2017 (Derby Night)

Day 236 of my retirement.                           “Derby Day 1953”

I grew up living in Old Louisville in my paternal great aunt’s home on Barbee more or less about two miles from Churchill Downs. I have never seen the Derby live but I have been to the track on Derby day. You see, when I was a child, the Derby was race number seven on a nine card race day. After the Derby was run, the gates were opened and you could go in without paying. My parents and I would go out to the track after the Derby hoping to find a winning ticket in the infield or grandstands. We never did.

The Derby of 1953 was like other Derbies in those days. My father would walk up to the neighborhood Pharmacy at Third and Brandeis and purchase a chance on a one dollar capsule with the name of a Derby horse inside. He did this every year for many years. He always seemed to get a field horse and his draw finished near last! But in 1953, he drew a non-favorite unknown horse named “Dark Star”. To our amazement, Dark Star with Henry Moreno aboard won the Derby. The horse from Cain/Hoy Stable became a celebrity that afternoon in May. My Father won $18.00 that afternoon. To hear him tell it, he won thousands of dollars!

Our home was often rented out on Derby eve and Derby night to young people, usually females, who rented bedrooms for $10-12.00 a night. My parents and I would sleep on the living room floor. Great memories of Derby years gone by!

Conclusions about this day: My wife and I spent most of Derby Day visiting green houses and buying bedding plants to plant in our yard. We got home just in time to catch the running of the 143 Kentucky Derby and what’s his name (Always Dreaming) winning the race. I guess horse racing is not my cup of tea!                                    teh

 
 
 

 

May 5, 2017

Day 235 of my retirement.                       

                                                                “An Irish kind of Day”

     On the calendar today is the “Cinco De Mayo” or as we in Shelby County call it the fifth of May. According to Google, “Cinco de Mayo—May fifth—is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867).” It is interesting to note that in Mexico, it is an event of lesser significance and draws little attention in that nation. Today here in Kentucky, most of the news attention will be on Churchill Downs and the running of the Derby for Fillies, the 143 running of the Kentucky Oaks.

     For me, neither of these events will be of much significance for me. My sports focus is mostly college basketball and football, professional golf, a little major league baseball in that order. Horse racing I equate with legalized gambling. Regretfully, I saw too many clients with gambling addictions to feel much excitement about that prospect. I knew a client who over the course of a lifetime won almost a million dollars gambling. But the sad part is that same client lost almost 1.5 million! The result was a devastated life!

     Unfortunately, the weather today has been more of a cloudy, misty Irish spring day rather than a sunny warm day we covet here in Kentucky during the month of May. I was out several times during the day and on each occasion found myself being rained upon. I have not been to Ireland. But that Isle is on my “bucket list” as a future destination. My ancestors arrived in New Jersey in the early 1700’s from Ireland!

Conclusion about this day: Even in the rain and somewhat chilly weather, May in Kentucky is a beautiful time of the year! I just will use my green umbrella to keep dry!               teh


May 4, 2017

Day 234 of my retirement.                           “The Cheese Grits Master”

Many years ago, I gave thought to some day after retirement that I would open a small restaurant here in Shelby County. It would be one of those breakfast and lunch diners that folks would eat breakfast and drink coffee. I had already chosen the name of this bistro. It was to be “Putting on the Grits”. A specialty of my little “hole in the wall” was to be my cheese grits which would be included automatically with any breakfast purchase.

I actually have done a bit of cheese grits research over my lifetime. Anywhere it is served, I will give it a try at least once. Those who do some variation (and there are many) I will take note of those I like. The result is that I have created a four cheese grits casserole that I think is outstanding.  Today I served it at a Prayer Breakfast at my church to about seventy five guests. There were two kinds of response from those attending. One response was “Oh no, I don’t eat grits” and they passed on by. The second response was by those who came back for seconds or those who said how outstanding they thought the grits to be.

Conclusions about this day: I have a close circle of friends, male and female, who I often seek out for advice about matters where I want another opinion. The consensus from them was “Why would you do that in retirement? It’s too much work; you would never have a day off, etc.” I heeded their wise counsel. I gave up the dream/nightmare of someday being the “Cheese grits master”. My back up dream is to make the best cheese grits casserole I can. Maybe on this second dream I can still find success! Now pass me the grits!     teh


May 3, 2017

Day 233 of my retirement.                     

      “Ploughing Day”

     Today was a day that I recognized as a special day to be out in the garden. The soil had dried out sufficiently that the garden soil could be cultivated. An extended forecast promised rain later this week.  I have learned that when the soil conditions are correct, one does not postpone 'til another day to chop out any weeds that have taken up residence in our garden patches.

     Yes, my family has several garden patches. We seem to grow vegetables in separate areas. There is not some scientific reason for our doing this. In years long ago when our children were young, we had one large garden of about one acre behind our home. When we built the concrete pond on the garden land, we began to move our garden spot and create multiple sites.

     This year, we have planted cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes and beans. Our summer planting waits for another week or two. Today as I ran the tiller through the rows, I recalled past years when my parents would come from Louisville and we would spend the day “working out” the garden together. That memory is now more than twenty years ago. It is a tradition, none the less, that we grow a garden and harvest throughout the summer the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor. But working in the garden with children and grandchildren is also a time of family bonding and creating memories for years to come.

     Conclusions about this day: There is still for me a pleasure in having sore muscles and tired feet at the end of a day spent working outside in the sunshine!

 

 May 2, 2017

Day 232 of my retirement.                           “Good fences make good neighbors!”

Several months ago, my wife and I made the decision to invest in our farm and have a substantial amount of fence bulldozed and new fence built. My first thought about doing this kind of work and expense was to wonder why someone at my age would do this kind of spending on land when I would not benefit so much long term with this large expenditure. But I concluded that this fence project is part of life and part of inheritance for my children. My contractors began that new fence building today. I monitored every staple driven and every foot of wire stretched. I was pleased with the work!

The fence I am replacing was a fence I built more than twenty five years ago. It does not seem that long ago. I recall the effort I expended in driving those posts and stretching the wire. I recall the pride I felt when I was finished and knew that this fence would successfully hold my livestock in the fields where I intended them.

I also recall many years ago when I was building our home here on the farm and a next door neighbor paying me a visit and insisting I build a new “line fence” between my land and their land. They were a bit upset that the fence had not been repaired in many years and did need work. I repaired that fence and my relationship became one of the finest relationships I could ever dream of with those neighbors/friends!.

Conclusions about this day: Building new fences are an investment not only in the land but also an investment in being a good neighbor. Hopefully my new fences will result in my family being held in high esteem by all my neighbors.                                          teh

 

 

May 1, 2017

Day 231 of my retirement.                       

                                                                     “Windy Monday”

     Since my retirement, I have adopted the practice of at the beginning of the week writing out a “to do” list for the week. You understand that such a list requires the ability to add to as well as delete from that same list throughout that week. But Monday has become the day in which I start a new list “with a clean slate”.

     In the tradition of that listed above, I drafted my “to do” list for this new week. My list today was conservative with six items on it. Some weeks have more items. But this week is about average with regards to number of items. Dig and move Hosta, work out garden, get Fusion to repair shop, work on Sunday Bible study, take UTV to LaGrange for recall service and mow the grass. That last item is now a standing weekly item on my list.

     My general intent is to get one or more items done each day. I was on track to get two or three done today. The wind blowing today caused me to question what I should focus upon today.  I started with taking UTV to LaGrange. To do that I had to first hook up the trailer to my pickup and then load UTV on trailer. Then apply all tie-downs and be off for the one hour drive each way. As I drove to the dealer, I was continually aware of the strong winds that were buffeting my vehicle in-route. The trip was uneventful. I had been told that I had an appointment at one thirty PM for the fifteen minute repair. I arrived at one thirty and was informed that the one man in the shop who could do this project had just gone to lunch. I was also told that he would be back in forty or so minutes. I was told I could wait. Ho-hum! The repair was a factory recall and there was no charge to me. So I waited.

     After my return home, I decided that I still had time to mow the grass. I mow about two acres but have a large mower. I felt a bit concerned about the continuing strong winds. I thought about tree branches falling today. I proceeded to mow around my house. As I was mowing some along the road frontage, I noticed an ash tree that had fallen today. It appears to have been the victim of the Emerald Ash borer. It had grazed my field fence where I have cattle grazing. I had to stop mowing and get the tree moved. As it was after my son-in-law work time, I called him and asked him to bring our tractor in his barn with the front end loader. We can use it to push the tree back into the woods nearby. When he arrived, he informed me that the tractor was nearly out of diesel fuel. So add item to “to-do” list. Get diesel fuel!

     Conclusions about this day: We got fuel and tree moved. My son-in-law and I had a couple hours together which were not on my list. We always enjoy time together. It was a fine windy Monday!


April 30, 2017

 

Day 240 of my retirement.              

                         “Wildflowers in the Mountains”

 

     My wife and I made our annual weekend journey to the Smoky Mountains this past weekend. We try to go about this time each year as we seek out certain wildflowers that usually bloom about this time of year.

 

     We make our weekend trip to look for our wildflower  friends who we have come to know over the past forty seven years. We hike the same trails and look behind the same boulders every year. We want to be sure that our colorful little friends have survived another season.

 

     This was our first trip since the fire. We traveled with dread and fear in anticipation of what we might see. We were surprised at how much the fire’s scars have already healed. Yes, there is still evidence of the horrific damage. But I am convinced that in time the mountains will heal. The new green of spring has covered much of the ash. The personal losses will take some people longer.

 

     The most amazing discovery for my wife and me was where the fire did NOT burn on the familiar trails where we travel. We are a lover of the native orchids; flowers called Showy Orchids, Pink and Yellow Lady Slippers, Rattlesnake Plantain and Lady’s Tresses to mention a few. We look especially for the orchids. We know where the orchids live. One of the locations where we see both Pink and Yellow Lady Slippers each year is a location near intense fire scarring. Yet to our amazement the fire stopped literally feet from where a large colony of Lady Slippers reside. We counted eighty four pink and six yellow all in bloom just feet from where the blaze had been!

     Conclusion about this day: Coincidence?  I do not think so. Maybe God loves the wild orchids also. I would have been willing to have seen the orchids lost if somehow the people lost in the fire could have been saved. But I did have a smile when I saw these ladies yesterday!  teh

 
 
 

 


April 29, 2017
Day 239 of my retirement.
                                                  "A Walk in the Woods"
 
     People take many paths to personal wellness. Some people rely on medications to give them a sense of well-being. Some people take a more active approach to wellness through exercise and personal fitness. Still others take an approach involving meditation and being “in the present”.
     All of these approaches are fine for those who have chosen that particular path. I find that my preferred path involves my close connections with nature. I like to walk in the woods!
      Today my wife and I walked several miles in the woods along trails that have existed for countless years. The rocks and tree roots provided the obstacles for an easy walk. But somehow the resistance provided by these natural barriers along with the noticeable inclines and warm breezes gave me something to overcome that caused me to feel a certain pride. We met several other hikers along the way.
     We stopped and chatted with a couple from Ashville, North Carolina and a couple from Gwinnett County, Georgia. All of those we met were fifteen to twenty years younger than we. I felt pleased that I could walk at a pace close to theirs and could spot many wildflowers that they would have overlooked. They enjoyed the walking instructions about the plants and trees along the trail we shared. I also gave them suggestions for other trails they could travel on another day.
     When our day had ended, I felt rested and such that I had overdone my fitness level. I had a number of photo images with which I was pleased. But most of all I felt that my stress for this day had become lost somewhere back on the trail. And I had no desire to return and seek it out. Tonight I feel grand!
Conclusions about this day: Neil Diamond said in a song, “Some days are diamonds---“. This was a twenty four caret one! teh
 

 

April 28, 2017

Day 238 of my retirement.                                           “Health Scare”

     I have Diabetes. I have had the silent disease for more than twenty years. For many years, I treated the disease with pills and lifestyle choices. And for many years, the disease was controlled with little difficulty.

     A few years ago, I began the protocol of giving myself injections of Insulin. I do not have any problems with giving myself shots. I do not concern myself with the little stick of the needle. The Insulin works very slowly and lasts twenty four hours. So, I only give myself a shot once a day. I give myself pills twice a day. I eat sensibly and rarely eat foods that are high in sugars. I do enjoy fresh fruits and fruit juices. I will occasionally make myself a smoothie using fruit and juices.

     Last evening, I had a meeting at my church. I ate my dinner before going to the meeting. When I came home, I was not hungry. I did some work on my computer and called it a day or night around ten PM. The last thing I did was give myself a shot of insulin. As I returned the vial of insulin to the refrigerator, I noticed some fresh blackberries in the fruit drawer. I decided to eat seven or eight as a bedtime snack.

     I climbed into bed and wrote an entry into my daily journal. I turned out my light and was asleep in only a few minutes. Then something went wrong. I was aware of being hot but I was having difficulty awakening. Finally I realized I was soaking wet and so was my bed. I arose from bed and sat on the bed side. I awakened my wife. It was eleven fifteen. I told her to go get me some orange juice. She ran and brought me juice. I chugged it down. She went and got a second juice glass. I still felt disconnected but felt steadier on my feet. My wife said she was going to fix something to eat and told me to check my blood sugar reading. I stuck my finger and got an immediate reading. It was way too low. After drinking the second juice glass, I got in the shower and took a hot bath. After drying off, I went to the kitchen and retested my blood sugar. It had risen 24 points in fifteen minutes. I was now close to low normal.

     My wife scrambled some eggs and made me a piece of toast and  jelly. I chased that midnight meal with a glass of milk. At that point, I felt almost normal. We sat up a few minutes longer and then retired to a newly made bed with dry linens. I fell back to sleep and slept all night.

     Interesting this AM, I felt fine and had no effects from my crash last night. That was the lowest blood sugar I have ever had. The thought went through my head, eight months after retirement, and I have a small health crisis. I spoke with my endocrinologist today. He changed the dosage for one of my medications. I have an appointment in two weeks. He said I could come in sooner if I wanted to do so. But he was not overly concerned otherwise.

     Conclusions about this day: Good health we tend to take for granted. When we have some health “hiccup”, we step back and recognize the importance of taking care of our health. I will continue to monitor my blood sugars with a heightened awareness of slipping to the low side.    teh

 


April 27, 2017

Day 237 of my retirement.                                        

 

   “The Old Barn”
 

     I am privileged to live on land that has been in our family one hundred fifty five years. The original farm of more than two hundred acres has been divided among children and much has been sold off. However, I still own eighty four acres of the original farm land. On that land stands one structure that is by far the oldest structure on the land. It is an old tobacco barn.  

     The original structure was built in the late eighteen hundreds. It is described as a peg barn with regards to construction methodology. It blew down sometime before 1910 in tornadic winds. The structure originally was much larger than the barn that was rebuilt. The reason is that the rebuilt barn was constructed out of lumber that was salvaged from the original barn construction. In the past sixty years, I have witnessed two new roofs on the barn, new boxing on three sides and a shed built on the east side of the original construction. But the pole constructed skeleton remains original. 

     In the past couple years I realized that the west side of the barn had begun to lean and settle. The sills along the west side were rotting and the ancient hemlock pillars on which the supporting posts stood were giving way. As I look around the countryside here in Shelby County, I witness many tobacco barns gradually falling down. I just was not willing to see this landmark fall down with the rest of them. 

     A little more than a month ago, I contracted with a gentleman I have worked with before. He agreed to rebuild the sills along the west side of the barn and replace the rotted boards where needed. Yesterday, the concrete was poured for new footers along the side under repair. My contractor says he expects to be done early next week. With this repair, this old barn should stand another hundred or so years. Or at least until another tornado comes along!

     Conclusions about this day: I feel closeness with this land and the improvements made to it. I do not intend to abandon the farm during my watch. As the subdivisions move closer and closer, I recognize a day will come when the farm may be sold. But, God willing, that will not be on my watch!   teh


April 26, 2017

Day 235 of my retirement.                      

     “Iridaceae”

     The common bearded Iris is one of my favorite flowers in our garden. As the many daffodils we have in the garden are coming to an end, the Iris is just beginning to bloom. I still have a few late daffodils blooming. And yesterday our first Iris was spotted blooming!

     The name Iris means “rainbow”! What an appropriate name for this remarkable plant. I have enjoyed the Iris in our garden for many years. We have a variety of colors. Almost all the colors of a rainbow! Today I spent time in the garden placing support wires on each bloom spike. The spikes can grow to three feet tall or greater. A windy day can destroy an entire season of Iris. The support wires increase the likelihood that the bloom spikes will not be damaged by a gust of wind. 

     Today I counted 86 bloom spikes. Each bloom spike has at least three blossoms. The time span for the blooms will run till around Memorial Day. By that time, the day lilies will be in bloom and continue the bloom season in the garden.

Conclusion about this day: I find gardening to be a grand replacement for my day job from which I have now retired. I don't find it difficult to spend my entire day out in the yard among my flower beds. In the past, I never had time to do what I am now doing. Only rain slows my desire to spend the day outside every day!        teh
 

April 25, 2017
 

Day 235 of my retirement.                  

“Crazy---, Still Crazy After All These Years"”

     I’ve been accused of being a bit crazy about spring wildflowers. That accusation goes back to college botany class about fifty years ago. I fell in love with wildflowers and my attempts to identify as many as I could in the field. Every year about this time of year I go to the woods looking for these little colorful friends.

     "Phacelia purshii, whose common name is Miami mist, is a spring flowering annual flower with blue blossoms that is native to eastern and central North America. It is native to the Appalachian Mountains"* and is found here in Shelby County with some regularity. This week I saw it along Hooper Station Road near Guist Creek and along Bardstown Trail not far from the banks of Jeptha Creek.

     Today as I drove to Shelbyville, I decided to make a controlled stop along my country road to confirm the little blue flowers I had noticed in the past week was indeed Miami Mist. I found a safe place to stop in a neighbor’s driveway and walked a hundred yards or so to check it out. Sure enough! There was a whole bank of these little guys. Three autos slowed as they passed me along the road. I could almost read their minds. “Crazy”! Then one of them recognized me. He stopped in the road and rolled down a window. One word was spoken by him. “Wildflowers”? I nodded yes. He drove away.

Conclusions about this day: We all have our passions. I have several. One of those is wildflower identification. Another is photographing wildflowers. Crazy? Maybe so, even after all these years!   teh

*Wikipedia

 

 April 24, 2017

Day 234 of my retirement.                           “Think harder!”

There is one thing about retirement that I have discovered that I do not like one bit. That one thing of which I speak is the realization that thinking requires more effort than it once did. Let me be clear as to what I am saying. As we age, our ability to think through all the options takes more time and effort. It becomes increasingly difficult for the human brain to have the elasticity to learn new information and achieve new skill sets.

Today, I had a slight “oops” while feeding my cattle a roll of hay. I broke a glass in my tractor cab. Not a huge deal. No injury, all can be repaired with little work. But the “oops” took place while doing an activity that I have done countless times before. The reason for the “oops” today was a variable that was new. Some of my cows seemed intent on walking out of the gate that I had to open in order to bring another roll of hay into the feed station. I hurried to get the tractor with hay through the gate before the cows walked out. The result was that the gate struck the tractor window.

I soothed my hurt feelings that I had done the first damage to my tractor now two years old. Then I began to evaluate the underlying cause of the accident. I realized that this would not have occurred if I had someone to stand at the gate as I moved the hay roll.

Conclusions about this day: I do not like the idea of asking someone else to assist me with my farm work projects. But variability will take place in activities I routinely do. I must remain alert and focused on what I am doing as well as what is transpiring around me. I must continue to train my mind to be focused on my world around me. I may need to seek assistance with some farm activities I do from time to time.  I can do that!                                          teh


April 23, 2017

Day 233 of my retirement.                           “Yard work alongside my wife”

Today is Sunday. Traditionally a day of rest. Traditionally a day of worship in God’s house. Traditionally a day when I get up early and prepare breakfast for my wife before awakening her to come join me for breakfast.

This Sabbath began with a remarkable sunrise. I happened to see it outside my window and hurried out to capture its color before it faded. I have a tradition of making biscuits and gravy on Sunday mornings for breakfast. I refrain from making this delight any other day of the week. Even though I do enjoy this family tradition and southern favorite very much, I do not allow it on any other day.

Today I was a speaker for the Gideon Ministry at another church in the county. It was a real joy to attend Bible study and then be part of the Sunday Worship service. I spoke about ten minutes about the work of the Gideons at the end of the service.

Then after lunch, my wife suggested we spend a little time working out in the yard together. This is an activity I had expected to do more of in retirement. There is something special about working alongside your spouse in your yard. We both enjoy the yard and our various flower plantings that dot our property around our home. We worked together a couple hours before returning to the house and doing another shared activity, taking an afternoon snooze for about an hour.

Conclusions about this day: I believe that one of the keys to a successful marriage is engaging in work activities that you can do alongside your spouse.  Retirement allows me more time to have these occasions together with my wife!

 
 
 
 

April 22, 2017

Day 232 of my retirement.                           “A day with grandchildren at Pleasant Hill”

Back in January, my daughter learned about an event at Shakertown, (a.k.a. Pleasant Hill) called “Brunch with the Babies”. It was a children’s event where different young animals at Shakertown would be available for small children to see and pet in the barn area.

Our daughter planned to take our two younger grandchildren and invited my wife and me to come and go along. This invitation took place back in January. I did not think a lot about it at the time since it was such a long time away. As the date got closer, I became a bit excited about the day. Shakertown has special meaning for my family. My first recollection of going there was back a long time ago when I was less than twelve years old. That means this memory was in the 1950’s. More recently, about twelve years ago, my son-in-law proposed marriage to our daughter in the presence of fifty or so close friends and family during a surprise engagement dinner at Shakertown.

Today, when I got up early to prepare breakfast for my wife, daughter and grandchildren, I did not feel such enthusiasm for going to Harrodsburg what with a forecast of rain all day long. On our drive down to Mercer County, I suggested to my daughter as she drove there, that I asked God for just three or four hours of nice weather and then it could rain the rest of the day. Little did I know that the rain would stop for more than three hours? The sun did not come out but the weather was much improved over the drive down there. After we returned home, the sun actually came out and the afternoon was sunny but cool.

Conclusions about this day: A part of retirement is spending more time with my children and grandchildren. Today was one of those days when I got in some quality time with both. I was most pleased with the fact that my daughter invited us to go along. I hope I will be included in the future on other occasions with children and grandchildren.

 

 
 
 
 

 April 21, 2017

Day 231 of my retirement.                           “Early morning sounds”

I am an early riser. I have been so most of my life. I guess part of my early ritual goes back to childhood and growing up on a farm where I was in the barn by shortly after five AM and helping with the feeding and milking the cows. Then later in my adult life, I always expected myself to arrive at my place of work at least one hour before my day was scheduled to begin. This meant that I would be at work by seven AM as my day was scheduled to begin at eight.

When we built our home many years ago here on the farm, my wife and I decided to have patio doors out on to a deck from our bedroom. A few years ago, we replaced the deck with a screened in porch. This allows us to have our patio doors open whenever we chose to do so. Now we will go to sleep at night with these doors open. We do not worry about the two or four legged critters as the porch is ten feet above the ground. The night sounds are comforting to me. I love the summer sounds of the night.

This morning, before it was light, I lay in my bed and listened with pleasure to the cacophony of bird sounds in the meadow and surrounding woods that I could hear through my bedroom doors. One does not require any imagination to hear in the bird sounds, their enthusiasm about the start of a new day!

Conclusions about this day: I’m a lot like the birds. I love the start of a new day. I’m always excited to be up and out of my bd. Who knows, maybe today I get the early worm prize?

 

 

 

 


April 20, 2017

Day 230 of my retirement.                           “Affinity Ministry”

Last September when I retired, I had already contemplated some of the new activities I would undertake as I moved into the next phase in my life. I had planned to do more fun things but also planned to volunteer more time in my community. I planned to do this in voluntary settings such as The Gideons, United Way and Community Foundations. But my main interest was doing more volunteer activities through my church in programs globally known as “Affinity Ministry”.

Affinity ministry is a general term for the use of hobbies and personal interests as a means of bringing people together through church sponsored activities such as weight loss groups, lay counseling groups, creative writing groups and photography groups. All of these groups focus on adults age fifty to seventy five years.

Tonight, I continued to lead the photography group that has now been in existence for fourteen months. Tonight we had fifteen persons present. Last month we had nineteen. We have gone on two photo trips the most was to Bernheim Forest earlier this month.

I enjoy photography. But I also enjoy teaching photography to others. And it has been a joy to see how much the photography skills have expanded among the persons who attend month after month.

 

Conclusions about this day: Giving back to my community is part of retirement for me. I hope to give back much more in the time God gives me.                                teh

 

 

 


 

April 19, 2017

Day 229 of my retirement.                           “Retired Gardner”

For as long as we have lived here in Shelby County, we have raised a garden. The size of the garden has varied from year to year. It was close to an acre many years ago when my parents were alive and our children were going through their teen years. We always enjoyed the fresh produce we could harvest daily or as needed. Beans, tomatoes, potatoes and corn were our focus in those days.

After our parents passed and our children left home, the size of the garden contracted and the length of rows committed to beets, onions, yellow squash and broccoli became much smaller. We still enjoyed the okra, turnips, winter squash, zucchini and peas. In the past few years, the garden has begun to grow once more. This time the size is determined by our four grandchildren and their love for fresh vegetables.

When I retired last year, I expected to maybe move the garden to our deck or patio. I expected to leave the garden plot fallow and put the tiller and hoes out to rest. But in February, the spring preview arrived and my children needed their garden space plowed. After putting the tiller on our tractor, it just seemed foolish to not turn over our garden space while the tool was available.

Today I spent one half of the day in the garden. We have spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, Broccoli, and lettuce planted. I ran the hand tiller through the garden and chopped between the plants. Tonight at church one of my friends asked about why my face was red. I started to say, I worked too hard. Then I remembered, it was sunny and I had worked outside. I wore a hat but still my face got pink.

Conclusions about this day:  Stop working does not equate with retirement from gardening. I look forward to another season of fresh vegetables and maybe, just maybe our first ripe tomato by July fourth!                               teh

 
 
 


April 18, 2017

Day 228 of my retirement.                           “Cattlemen’s Meeting”

Since retirement, I have made a greater focus on farming and activities associated with farming. We restarted our beef herd this past year. And have tried to attend the quarterly Cattlemen’s meeting when we can.

My wife and I both believe that becoming better informed about live stock is a key to successful beef operations. We have signed up for a summer long training program through our cooperative extension service this year. We are excited to be able to continue to learn even after retirement.

Tonight we attended a beef Cattlemen’s meeting. The meeting also included a fine beef steak meal. There was a nice crowd at the Cooperative Extension Office for this dinner meeting. I noticed around the room the amount of gray hair I observed of those attending. Most were dressed in jeans or work clothes. Most men were wearing baseball caps representing the brand of tractor or type of fertilizer they preferred. And at the moment of prayer blessing before eating, every hat in the room was removed as in unison.

I suspect that many of the younger farmers did not attend the meeting tonight. It was good weather and planting time is in high gear. None the less, farming in Shelby County is still done by men and women well beyond retirement age. And I see no indication that most of them have plans to stop soon.

 

Conclusions about this day: “I farm, you eat”! A truism that still exists in the suburban and rural counties in Kentucky. God bless the farmers!

 

 


Day 227 of my retirement.                       

                                            “What Ever Happened to Courtesy?”

     I thought after retiring, I might actually travel less. Thus far, that has not proven to be true. It seems most every day; there is somewhere I must travel. Sometimes it is the “honey-do” travel but often, it is some project or necessity that requires travel outside Shelby County to some destination requiring up to an hour’s drive.

     I do not enjoy driving that much any longer. Part of why I do not enjoy driving is the busy highways and expressways on which I must travel. Even delaying my departure so as to avoid the rush hours seems to have little impact on the amount of traffic I encounter. Another reason I no longer driving is the high rate of speed every other vehicle is traveling. Now I do not drive that slowly. If the speed limit is sixty, I will drive between sixty and sixty five. If the speed limit is seventy, I set my cruise control on seventy six. It does not matter at all. The majority of traffic will be traveling a good ten to fifteen miles above the posted limit.

     But what distresses me the most about driving these days is the lack of courtesy by other drivers on the road. Apparently, there is a belief that your car will run as long as the turn signals work. If you never use your turn signals, your vehicle will never wear out. Then there is the loveable tailgater who sees how close they can get on your bumper before you will pull over. Don’t speed up when they are behind, they just speed up as well. I was taught that a courteous driver always passed on the left! That rule has either changed or else most drivers ignore it. And finally, if you are at a stop light and the light changes green for you, do not move for at least ten seconds. It is likely someone will run the yellow light for them and could T-bone you. Besides those behind you will enjoy blowing their horns at you for not speeding away from the light.

Conclusions about this day: My comments reflect my observations about just this day and my drive to Middletown KY and back. I am a careful driver but maybe just lucky that I have had no accidents in more than fifteen years (except Bambi X2). I think I may have no trouble someday giving up the keys to the truck. It’s just not a courteous world out there on I-64!

 


April 16, 2017

Day 226 of my retirement.                       

                                                                                  “Easter Traditions”

This morning as I was getting up to prepare breakfast, the thought came to me about Easter Sundays of the past. The first round of rains on this Holy Sabbath brought back the memories of years ago when an Easter sunrise service would be held in the cemetery at Salem Baptist Church here in the county. I attended Salem when my children were young. We would be there for a seven AM service followed by breakfast in the Fellowship Hall. It always seemed fitting to celebrate Easter in the grave yard! After leaving Salem, I have never attended a sunrise service since those days.

Today, we get dressed for Easter Sabbath services and dress much the same as any other Sunday. My childhood memories were that all the ladies would be sporting new Easter outfits along with a pretty hat. Today at my church, I did not see one hat among any of the ladies there in attendance. The times and dress have changed.

 

This afternoon, we celebrated Easter at our home with a traditional Easter menu of baked ham, deviled eggs and all the side dishes. My children and grandchildren were all in attendance. Between showers, we had the annual Easter egg hunt in the back yard. It was a little funny with all wearing boots looking for eggs hidden by this author. And as tradition has it, there always is an egg or two that gets lost in the melee. Next summer or autumn, I will find the eggs as I trim or use the power blower. The money inside will still spend. Maybe I will buy myself a milk shake with the find!

 Conclusions about this day: Traditions are not all bad. I find that our family traditions are part of how we can sew our memories together. Memories that can endure a lifetime!                          teh

 

 


April 15, 2017 
 

                                    “Our God is Sovereign!”

 

     Today as I prepared to write my journal entry , I had contemplated that I would write about a Saturday Easter hunt with some of my grandchildren. We had a preliminary hunt today since the forecast is for rain on Easter Sunday. I thought that topic worthwhile. I had even planned the ending.
      Then  my plans changed. Slightly before eight PM tonight, I went out into the garden to spray a gallon of herbicide on some invasive weeds that are threatening some of my flower beds. I was mixing the spray when my wife called from the kitchen door. She asked where I was. I responded that I was in the garden, not far away. She shouted for me to look into the west beyond the stand of apple trees that have just begun to put out tiny green sprouts.
     There in the west was a magnificent sunset. A special one for this day or any day at all. The thought came to my mind, Easter eve. Well, isn’t that just like My God? He is reminding me that tomorrow when next I see that bright shining object, it will be Easter Sunday.
     Just yesterday, my daughter expressed some angst about the saber rattling going on between North Korea, China and the US. She expressed worry for the safety of her children, my grandchildren. She asked me if I worried about war when I had young children. I assured her I did and that anxiety is normal. Then I reminded her that our God is sovereign. He is in control of all that happens to us. He has promised to protect us from evil, go with us through evil or take us home because of evil.   
     I have lived most of my life. I do not fear death. Until I let go of fearing death, I cannot truly live. But God is in control. I believe it. And I try to live it every day.

 

 Conclusions about this day: What a wonderful ending to Easter eve with that glorious sunset. I do not know what tomorrow will hold. But I do know who is in control of all that is. I will go to church tomorrow as I do most every Sunday. But tomorrow I will be saying that old shout of the ages, “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed”! Happy Easter!

 

 


April 14, 2017

 

Day 223 of my retirement.            

                                                    “The Sweet Fragrance of Lilacs”

        I am a visual person. I think most men are. Our eyes are how we make sense out of much that we encounter. As a result of my visual focus, my choosing of plantings for our garden are for the most part, determined by the colors and sizes of the blossoms. 

      I am particularly drawn to the plants that display a shower of blossoms whenever they bloom. Today, the azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom. They fill my garden with white, pink, red and purples. My plantings are mostly older plants that have been in the garden for many years. Hence, they are a bit larger.   

     Today as I walked in the early morning glow of light as the sun was just crawling above the horizon, I caught the fragrance of the two Viburnum bushes that presently are covered with fist sized white with pink tinged blossoms. The viburnum is a pretty plant but more so, it has a lovely fragrance this time of the year. The smell is strong and fills the garden. 

     As I walked near the southeastern corner of the yard, something else caught my attention. It is an old fashioned Lilac bush.  Without much fanfare, the bush has burst forth with blossoms of purple and rusty blue/purple. I have not noticed this plant because of its location and because I have another lilac closer to the entrance of the garden that has not yet begun to put forth any colors. The fragrance of the Lilac, I had almost forgot how amazing the smell to be. It is lovely but one must stand close to catch its special perfume.  

     Conclusions about this day: Beauty cannot be determined just by the appearance. In the cases of the Viburnum and Lilac, the beauty is also in the fragrance. I’m glad I did not miss that experience!

 


April 13, 2017
Day 223 of my retirement.                           “Patience friend, patience!”
I am a man of limited patience . I suspect God is continuing to work on that behavior with me. Take for example yesterday at the Kroger store in Middletown.
I was there buying groceries for Easter Sunday. We tend to be a bit traditional in what our menu will be as we gather after church on Sunday with children and grandchildren for our Easter gathering. We still hide eggs in the yard for the grandchildren. But we no longer place candy in the eggs. Now we put coins and paper money as our grandchildren enjoy different interests now than they did in the past. We usually have the hunt sometime in the afternoon after the Easter dinner.
So I am ready to check out at Kroger. I usually go through one of the express checkout lanes. I am comfortable with the automated process most of the time. That day, I determined that since we had a number of produce items, it might be easier to go through a traditional line with a checker as he would know the four digit codes for the produce. I looked for a line that might be shorter than the others. I found a line with an assistant manager operating the checkout. There were only two persons in the line in front of me. Both were well advanced senior citizens.
The first lady had an extensive number of items to purchase. The checker was quite efficient and was able to ring up the purchase. The lady seemed undecided how she might pay for her groceries. At first, she seemed determined to pay by check. She examined her purse for a minute or so. She seemed unable to locate her check book. Finally she decided she did not have the check book and opted for paying by credit card. She withdrew a card from a paper envelope and attempted to enter the card. The reader seemed to not accept her card. The checker assisted her and she inserted card into reader as the card was not one to be scanned. The purchase was finally made. Then the lady entered into a conversation of a couple minutes. I could not hear the topic but the lady seemed insistent in telling her story as the customer in front and I waited our turn to pay.
Then the lady in front of me had her turn to check out. She had only a few items. She had a couple frozen individual meals, a box of frozen sausage biscuits, a tub of cottage cheese and a box of “Depends”. She was asked by the checker about her Kroger card. She reached into her purse and withdrew what I assumed to be her card. She laid the card on the moving belt and the card disappeared into the bowels of the checkout counter. The checker when told what had happened turned to me and said this will only take a moment. I then had the opportunity to see a checkout machine completely dissembled while I watched in amazement. The lady who lost her card appeared to become anxious. The slight Parkinsonian tremor I had noted previously became much more pronounced. The checker assured her that she would get her discount. The lady was more focused on getting her card returned. After a five minute search, the checker informed the elderly lady that her card was officially lost. I do not understand that decision but was grateful that the ten minute wait I was having might soon end. The checker gave the lady a new card and instructed her to take the card to the service desk to activate the card. The lady at this point seemed completely mystified as to what to do next. The checker took the lady by the hand and began to lead her to the service desk just as another employee came to assist. The checker passed the elderly lady to the other employee and returned to complete my long awaited checkout. My checkout was uneventful and I was quickly on my way home with spiral sliced ham and all the accessories.
Conclusion about this day: My wife reminds me that both ladies in front of me were no more than ten to fifteen years older than I. Would some day in the future some person be behind me in line and they would experience what I had just experienced? Maybe so. But I hope not, at least on the “ Depends” part!
 
 

April 12, 2017
Day 222 of my retirement.                                           “Quiet times in the garden”
I am an early riser. I find my way to the kitchen and make a pot of strong coffee. I head out the side door towards the garden. I love to get out in our garden when the sun is still low in the sky. A time of cool breezes and the song birds calling out to a mate perhaps warning of a giant nearby but more likely giving notice of a food source discovered around the spot the giant human just dug up nearby.
The morning is often a time when the sweet light or Gloaming (Scottish) is still present. As a result of this beautiful time of day, I usually carry a small digital camera in my pocket. I feel the cool breeze upon my face. I am grateful I keep my muck boots near the side door where I can slip them on before venturing out into the wet grass. Last night with the combination of rain combined with the heavy dew overnight, by the first step, my boots are shiny with the moisture of this new day.
I wander around the yard and garden looking at the various flowers and plantings. Some are new to the garden space and others have resided there for many years. The early blossoms of March and April have begun to fade and the petals have fallen away. The last daffodils and tulip blossoms are a colorful reminder of the March flush of yellow and red that not long ago filled the beds in the back yard.
Now the buds of Columbine and Jacob’s ladder are about to burst forth. The new dogwood bracts are a pale greenish white. The crabapple blossoms are pink or white. There is a soft fragrance near my garden bench that reminds me that the snowball shaped blossoms of the Viburnum are also in full bloom. The white with a touch of red blossoms is drooping near by.
I usually bring a cup of coffee along with me while I make this brief journey. Today, I failed to bring my cup. I turn and head for the house to enjoy the savory hot cup that awaits me this day. I will leave my boots on the porch stoop and head inside. Maybe I will make pecan waffles to go with my rapidly diminishing supply of maple syrup we made just this past winter not that far from the garden where I just visited.
Conclusions about this day: Our garden is my most favored spot I know of. It is a place of rest and refuge. It has given my retirement a focus for my day when I wish to spend time out of doors. I celebrate this time of year. I celebrate retirement with a hot cup of coffee.

April 11, 2017
Day 221 of my retirement.                           “Family Tree”
Last evening I stopped at the local interstate service station to fill up my vehicle with gas. I had been to Louisville earlier in the day and noted a forty cent increase in gas prices there. I expected that increase would arrive here in Shelbyville soon. As I was pumping gas, I noted the auto in the next bay with a New Mexico license plate. In curiosity, I walked the five or six steps to inquire of the driver about his New Mexico connection’s out it is an acquaintance I know. The auto was a lease vehicle with the out of state license.
Our conversation, though brief, turned to family trees and he like I have a certain interest in genealogy and our families of origin. My interest in genealogy is driven partly by living on a family farm that has been owned by my ancestors since 1862. My great grandfather purchased the farm (much larger then) at the courthouse steps after the past owner could not pay the taxes on the land.
I had anticipated in retirement that I would spend greater time exploring my family tree. I actually have significant information about my ancestors going back to the operation of a small grist mill in New Jersey in the early 1700’s after arriving from Ireland. I have a distant cousin here in the county. He spends a great amount of time working on his family tree. Much of the past history beyond my great grandfather, he shares the same tree as I. He oversees a small cemetery near Mount Eden KY. I send him money to help pay for the maintenance. That way we stay in touch and can exchange genealogy information.
Conclusions about this day: There is little we can do to change our past. When we begin to dig into the past, we cannot tell what we may discover. But I intend to continue to seek answers about whom I am and where I came from.
 

 
April 10, 2017
Day 220 of my retirement.                           “Retirement and work”
There are myths about many things in life. Myths that retirement means that one does not working any longer. This myth I have found to be seriously in error. Yes, since retirement, I do not go to my office and do counseling. No there are some things I no longer engage in. But I still do work.
Today is a reasonable example of my new work schedule. I begin my day by making coffee before my wife gets up. I find the aroma of coffee is a grand way to begin any new day. When she rises, I prepare breakfast for the both of us. After breakfast and the dishes are done, (We share the dish washing duties) I usually go to desk and sit down at one of our computers. I check mail and social media. I play a few “brain games” on the computer to keep my mind sharp. Then today, I dressed and drove to town to get a tire replaced on my trailer. After getting trailer repaired, I took trailer to other end of town to get the wiring harness repaired.
I then returned home and went out into our garden. I had six broccoli plants to plant, which I did. I also chopped out the one row of cold crops already in the ground. I checked our cold frame and pulled a few weeds from around the tomato and pepper seedlings that now stand about three inches tall. I then ventured over to a flower bed and began to pull weeds from the flower bed.
By now it is lunch time. My wife asked me to go with her to Middletown to a couple big box stores there. We purchased what we went for and returned home. I had a training program at Church I lead on Monday evenings. I needed to do some preparation for the group at seven PM. I worked until 5:30PM. My wife had prepared dinner by that time. We ate together. I excused myself to go and change clothes. I left the house by six twenty. I stopped for gas on my way to the meeting. There I encountered an old acquaintance at the gas station. I had not seen this friend in ten years. The friend had much they wished to share. I listened. I then departed for my meeting. My meeting ran from seven PM until eight fifty. I arrived home at nine ten.
I am now sitting at my computer writing this posting. It is ten ten PM.
Conclusions about this day: Today is a typical day since my retirement. I am not complaining. I find the work I do now to be quite different than I have done in the past. My work is mostly manual where in the past it was mostly mental work. Work gives me a sense of purpose. I hope I will be able to continue to work as long as I am able. Living on a farm, there is always much to be done.                            teh
 
 
 

April 9, 2017
Day 219 of my retirement.                                           “Palm Sunday 2017”
Today is Palm Sunday. This day we as Christians commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem the same week he is crucified on a Roman Cross. How fickle people can be! One day they celebrate a person as a great hero and a few days later they mob him and want him killed.
Times have not changed so much. Two thousand years later, people are still fickle. One day they praise a man and vote to make him president. Just a few weeks later, it seems he can do no right. A man coaches a team to a championship. Everyone calls him a great hero for the school. The next year, when they lose a few games, the fans want him fired.
I tend to be more graded in my assessment of people. I recognize that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. I make some almost every day.
Conclusions about this day: The eighty degrees today remind me that hot weather is not too far away. This Sunday is just a week away from Easter Sunday. This week I will be busy. But I will not allow myself to be so busy that I overlook the true meaning of the Easter season. Christ died for my sins. His death is instead of my eternal death for my sins. Thank you Jesus.     teh
 
 
 
 

April 8, 2017
Day 218 of my retirement.                           “A photo group to Bernheim Forest”
I am the leader of a photo group at First Baptist Church in Shelbyville Kentucky. The group consists of about twenty five members who come with an interest in photography. Today twelve of this group traveled to Bernheim Forest near Clermont KY for a day of photo shooting.
The day was perfect although it began as a frosty morning. By afternoon the mid sixty temperature affirmed the value of dressing in layers and being able to shed a layer or two as the temperature rose. We traveled around the forest to several venues including Lake Neven.
When we arrived at the Forest it was slightly before nine AM. The lake was like a pane of glass. Not a ripple anywhere. We had great fun photographing the many reflections we saw in the water. This was the most popular time of the day!
We dined at Isaac’s Restaurant in the visitor’s center. We had pre-booked the meal and were served soup, sandwiches, salad from the garden and peach cobbler! The cobbler was my second favorite of the day. But the meal was well prepared and everyone was well satisfied with the amount.
Conclusions about this day: I feel the fatigue of being the group leader today. I truly enjoyed this fine group of people. I would do it again. But not tomorrow. I need a day or two to rest up from this adventure.                                            teh
 
 
 
 

April 7, 2017
Day 217 of my retirement.                           “The eyes of my beloved”
 
Fridays, since retirement have begun to settle into a routine that I actually look forward toward to as much as one can what with a schedule of taking the recyclable to the County Convenience Center and then to lunch with my wife and finally stopping at the grocery on the way home.
 
Today we followed that routine just as we have most every day since retirement last September. There was a chill in the air as we loaded the farm truck with the plastic bins we use each week. We divide the recyclables into four tubs. One tub contains paper. Another contains cardboard. It is surprising how often this tub is the most filled. The third tub contains plastics. Yes, that too is often filled with packaging we acquire each week mostly for food stuff. The final tub contains everything else that can be recycled. Glass, metal cans, and certain other metal containers. We deliver that assortment to the recycling center before dropping the rest of the wet trash at the dumpster on the other side of the Center.
We have two or three restaurants we seem to rotate between for lunch on Fridays. We go to lunch either in Shelbyville or Middletown. Today we went to the latter one. We arrived there after the lunch rush had passed. We like to arrive after the restaurant parking lot has cleared out and we can find a parking spot without difficulty. Our fare is usually soup and sandwiches. Simple but always hot and tasty.
As we dined today, I reminded myself to park the cell phone in my pocket during lunch. It is interesting how my focus was on my wife’s eyes today I noticed how blue they are. Could it be that after almost forty nine years, I was surprised at how blue they are. Our talk was not about anything special. Just talk about the grocery list and meals we want to prepare next week. I pick the breakfast menu. She picks the other meals.
Our trip to the grocery turned out to be a trip to two groceries. We did not like the looks of the produce at one. It is interesting how much recyclable packaging I noticed that was a part of the grocery purchase. That is one of the downsides of going to the grocery on a recycle day!
 
Conclusions about this day: Routines are comforting in all phases of life. Routine allows some predictability in our existence. But that routine was broken this afternoon just for a moment as I gazed into the eyes of my beloved!
 
 
 

April 6, 2017
Day 216 of my retirement.                 “Like dogs and cats”!
Two of my grandchildren spent the night at our home last evening. As there is no school this week, it was an opportune time for them to share the evening at our home. These children are still quite young. Our older one is in kindergarten. The younger is three.
During the course of the evening last night, the two were continually irritating each other. Nothing serious. Just being boy and girl siblings. Just making sure each has control of the attention they are seeking from their grandparents.
This morning, I arose quietly and crept into the kitchen to begin to cook breakfast. I know where the squeaky board is in the hallway. I stepped over it and was able to get to the kitchen without notice. I had special blueberry muffins made, the table set and the bacon in the oven before our three year old arrived in kitchen. The sleepy eyes and big yawn told me to encourage a side trip to family room and a climb up in recliner with a throw blanket for a while longer. The older grandchild would be another forty minutes before making a similar appearance.
This series of encounters reminded me of when it was my own children who would with sleepy eyes make their way into the kitchen. Their question of “What’s for breakfast”? would be met with a father’s hug and kiss. For a moment I longed to return to those days more than thirty years ago.
The “dogs and cats” behavior of my grandchildren last night was replaced this morning as they both met in the kitchen with the two of them giving each other a hug and my overhearing my granddaughter tell her brother that she loved him. How quickly their behaviors can change!
Conclusions about this day: It is a joy to relive a bit of my children’s past through my grandchildren. But the truth is that once is quite enough. Thank you Lord for that brief snapshot of my grandchildren showing affection for each other instead of fighting like dogs and cats!     teh
 
 

April 5, 2017

Day 215 of my retirement.                           “What is in a name?”

Since I have been retired, I have found myself more introspective. Introspective is meaning thoughtful about who I am and what I want to be in the next chapter of my life. You see, I believe each of us has many chapters in our lives. The retirement chapter, I believe will not be my final chapter in my life. I am hopeful that there are maybe two or three more chapters before I am finished.

Today, as I drove home from Shelbyville, I passed Grove Hill Cemetery. There is many of my extended family members interred there. The thought came to mind as to the names they were called during their lives. For example, I always called my father the name “Dad”. I never had any other name by which I called him. My paternal grandfather was called “Pop” by my father and his brother, uncle RJ. My maternal grandfather was called “Grandpa Keltner” by all who I ever heard speak of him. I do think my mother referred to him as just “Pa”.

My mother I referred to as “Mom”. My paternal grandmother was called “Grandma” by me. I was her only grandson, so that was the only name for her. My great grandmother was called Grandmother Thurman and Grandmother Hedden”. I never knew these ladies but heard stories of great respect for both ladies. My maternal grandmother had many grandchildren. She had one name shared by all. That name was used by all, “Grandma”. I did occasionally hear one cousin use the term of endearment name “Ma” for my grandmother. I never knew anything about my maternal great grandparents.

Conclusions about this day: My wife and I both were given names by our grandchildren. I was given the name “Pops” and my wife the name, “Meme”. It is clear that we all are far more than a name. But how we are recalled in years to come will be based upon the lives we lived, not the names we were called.

 
 
 
 
 


 

 “Breakfast with Christian Brothers”

April 4, 2017

Day 214 of my retirement.                          

Chuck is an old friend of mine. Jim is a new friend of mine! We met this morning for breakfast at Carriss’s Grocery at Southville KY. It was Chuck’s suggestion for place. But the location was perfect. We were able to enjoy a two hour breakfast with no distraction and good coffee that store management kept our coffee cups filled.

I have known Chuck about fifty one years. I met him while he was still a teen and a part of a church youth group in Louisville KY where I served as a youth minister in the years I was in graduate school. Chuck and I kept in touch but only tenuously. Last week I happened upon Chuck at a traffic light in Middletown KY. I tried to get his attention but was unable to do so. I sent him an email which resulted in our breakfast meeting this morning. I quickly discovered that Jim and Chuck are close friends who have known eacd other for many years also. Chuck invited Jim to join our breakfast gathering.  I knew who Jim was but did not know him personally. We had a fine breakfast together today.

Conclusions about this day: Old friends with whom you have lost touch with as well as new friends who you have not known before can both become an easy and most pleasant communication once you find a shared interest or passion. We three share a common Christian walk. We speak one Christ centered language. That language is a love for our Lord. We did not talk a lot about the Bible. We talked about all being retired recently and how men seek to give back to a world that has given much to us. Each does that giving in our own way. But each has a way to do that which brings us closer to our understanding of what we believe God has called us to do and be. Great coffee and fine hash browns and wonderful fellowship around the table! Amen!      teh
 
 
 
 
 
 

April 3, 2017

Day 213 of my retirement.                                           “A walk in the woods”

As I make my way through the thick canopy of the first year of my retirement, I have discovered the joys of sharing my life learning with my children and grandchildren. The transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next or maybe second generation (grandchildren) is part of how I define immortality. The passing of, not only knowledge, but also memories that will last possibly a lifetime for the recipient.

Today was such a day. My wife and I had our youngest granddaughter for the day today. We left early this morning with rain sprinkling down here in Shelby County and drove west on I-64 and 265 to the Lewis and Clark Bridge. We exited on US 62 in Clarksville IN and quickly found ourselves at Clarksville State Park in southern Indiana just along the north edge of the Ohio River. My wife and I make this an annual trek sometime around the first of April. We have walked trail number 6 which is a wildflower heaven at this time of year. Some of our most favorite little flower friends live along the edge of this walking trail. Today we introduced our Lillie to these little blue, yellow and white flower friends. Their names include Dutchman’s breeches, Wood Poppy, Virginia Bluebell, Rue Anemone, Larkspur, and White Violet.

Lillie took to the discovery of the home of these little friends. She stepped delicately through the underbrush in order to visit the little neighborhoods where some of these friends lived in complex villages. She began to shout out to us her own discoveries of more of these friends. Before getting back in our auto, I quizzed her about four or five wildflowers by color we had seen along the two mile trail. She scored 100% with only a little cueing. But more importantly, she expressed excitement as to when we might “do it again Pops”!

Conclusions about this day: Today was the first weekday of spring break for our grandchildren. One of my grandchildren is in Central America on a Mission trip. And one of my grandchildren went “to the moon and back“today! Maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration for Lillie. But for me it was a sky high adventure introducing my granddaughter to spring wildflowers in the oak/hardwood forest of southern Indiana today! I will sleep well tonight.          teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 April 2, 2017

Day 212 of my retirement.                           “The last of her generation”

Today I drove to Louisville to visit with my only surviving aunt on my mother’s side who had been admitted to a local hospital. She was rushed there due to an event in her home on Friday when she lost consciousness and EMS was called. Their initial assessment was that she had experienced another heart attack. She had experienced a previous one last summer.

After a number of tests were done at the hospital, it was determined that she had an internal bleed related to a change in medications of a few weeks ago. It appears she may be able to return home in a few days with new medications and a couple pints of donated blood on board.

My mother was the eldest of her siblings. This surviving aunt is the youngest of that generation. My mother had five siblings. Three of the five have died of complications related to heart disease. Now my surviving aunt has heart disease. The one of my uncles without heart disease died of lung cancer at a younger age.

As I have joined the ranks of the retired generation, I now begin to contemplate what may be my course of health decline. Heart disease?  Maybe. But my father lived to be ninety four with a good heart. So I also have that gene loading.

Conclusions about this day: It was good to visit with my aunt today. She was alert and strong willed as always! I also saw her husband and younger son. It is good to have family support when you experience a health crisis. Today, I will not worry about my own health. I will do my best to remain healthy and active for another day. I thank God for every day when I am free from pain!                 teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

April 1, 2017

Day 211 of my retirement.                           “Memories”

Retirement has allowed me to redirect my attention in some ways that seem different than in the past. For example, I now watch very little television. In the past, I watched some TV but have not found most commercial TV to be that entertaining. I do watch the news, public television and some TV sports. Once, I might have literally spent the evening in front of the TV.

My introduction to TV began around 1954. I learned that my neighbor Bill, who lived down the street four Victorian homes to the west, had a small 18 inch black and white TV. I was able to create a way to be at his house late in the afternoon and see Mickey Mouse Club, Howdy Doodie, and T Bar V Ranch. The schedule would lead to my mother having to call or come after me to get me home for dinner each day. I would fuss and groan about having to come home. Finally my father announced that he was purchasing a 20 inch Emerson black and white TV. I thought I had gone to Heaven the first Saturday I was able to watch Space Cadets, Sky King, Roy Rogers, and Disney cartoons all on Saturday morning. Then in the afternoon, I could watch Dizzy Dean as he called the New York Yankees against whoever they played that day. Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Enos “Country” Slaughter and all my Yankee heroes would be there.

My first color TV did not come into my home till 1968 when my wife and I got married and moved into a two bedroom apartment on Brownsboro Road in east Louisville. It was a 16 inch television with fake plastic that looked like wood doors that closed in front of the screen giving the appearance of a nice piece of furniture. We still owned that TV when we moved to Shelby County in October, 1977. We now own our fourth TV in nearly half a century. This most recent TV was purchased about five years ago after lightning struck in our yard and “fried” our last one of more than ten years.

Conclusions about this day: As I have aged and now retired, I recognize that TV watching has fallen well down my list of interests. I love gardening, reading a good book, photography, cooking and socializing with my friends all more than TV watching. And that does not include the work on the farm or preparing for teaching a Bible study group. I’m OK with not watching TV. Even being on the internet is far more interesting to me!                  teh

 
 
 
 

March 31, 2017

Day 210 of my retirement.                           “Running in a different gear”

As I have now almost reached seven months into my retirement, I can now reflect on some changes within how I view life now as a retired man. I am aware that as I look at life and its urgencies, I see my course ahead is a distinctly different way than I did my past.

I had an “epiphany” today as I drove down Midland Trail here in Shelbyville. I was driving in the passing lane as I prepared to turn into one of our numerous Hispanic restaurants here in the city. I caught in my rear-view vision a silver auto coming fast in the right lane. The car rapidly passed me on the right and immediately cut in front of me for only a few feet before cutting back to the right to again pass another auto in the left hand lane in front of me. I thought to myself, “I wonder what caused that man in that silver car to be in such a hurry?” I wondered if he was on his way to the hospital due to someone being seriously ill. I tried to consider some other practical reason why that person would be in such a hurry. My epiphany was that as a retired man, I have stopped wearing my wrist watch. Time is much gentler with me now. I either get to my destination at a safe pace or I get to my destination late (at a safe pace!)

Conclusions about this day: I think since retiring, I have shifted my way of thinking about life in a different gear. Time is limited. We have a finite amount of time. I now choose to celebrate my days just as much as in the past. But now I will do so in a bit of a more reasonable gear!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

March 30, 2017

 

Day 209 of my retirement.                           “Mammy’s”

 

Yesterday, my wife and I went to Bernheim Forest for the purpose of scoping out the venue for a photo Club trip there next week. I had not been to Bernheim in almost ten years. It seemed that there was much change since last I was there. The day was warm and partly sunny.

Our drive there, thanks to “Siri” took us along roads that I thought I was hearing banjo and guitar music coming from the woods. There appeared to have been flooding in some of the area we passed through within just a day or so before. I knew a better way to travel this route and should not have listened to artificial intelligence.

Part of our scouting trip was to determine the food source there. The restaurant in the gift shop is called “Isaacs”. I met two ladies in food service that were most helpful to us. Jackie and Karen gave us details about catering services and what we needed to do so as to have food served in a catered and streamlined manner. They helped me to get our day arranged with a minimum of difficulty.

As I was speaking with Jackie, she convinced me to try their daily special for the day. I was served an amazing lunch of homemade meatloaf and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. But the best was yet to come! Peach cobbler that also was homemade! After completing my lunch, I sought out Jackie to tell her what a fine meal I had enjoyed. Jackie smiled and told me the following story.

In 1972, she went to Richmond KY to visit a friend at EKU. They went to dinner together. The friend suggested a small restaurant near the University campus. The name of the Restaurant was “Mammy’s”. It was operated by a grandmotherly lady known affectionately as Mammy. Mammy I’m told cooked all her food and kept it warm on the stove. The patron was invited into her kitchen to choose what they liked on the stove. Then they would select the portion amount they wished to eat. Finally they would go back to the dining room with their plate and sit down to eat. Mammy would come out to the table and look at the plate of food. She would then announce to her customer, “That looks like two fifty to me”! Thank you Jackie for such a fine story!

Conclusions about this day: I’m not sure that the “old days” were not better in some ways than things are today. I wish I could find a “Mammy’s Restaurant” today. But for now, I’m pretty taken with Isaac’s at Bernheim Forest!          teh


 

March 29, 2017

Day 208 of my retirement.                        

 

 A Cloudless Day

 

It is 8:21 in the morning. I have been up almost 2 hours. My wife is still asleep. So the house is quiet. I have breakfast almost made, just waiting for her to arise and seek out the coffee we both trust for our day starting ritual. 

I look out the window and notice the crabapple tree in the yard has reached almost its maximum blossom for this year. I note the dark shadows where the rising sun has not yet illuminated that space. The contrast between light and dark moves me to compose a simple photo image. I quietly open the storm door and walk out on the deck in my sweats and slippers. The deck is dry but the breeze out of the northeast this AM is chilling. I will not remain here too long.

Then I hear the sounds of springtime this day. There are mockingbirds and robins singing a morning chorus. I do not know their words but I am clear as to the emotion with which they shout out their feelings about this day. Another sound catches my ear. I recognize immediately it is the crunching sound of the cattle across the fence chewing the new grass in the meadow not far away.

I experience a chill and decide to shoot my image and return inside our warm house. The sun is climbing the eastern sky. Soon the day will be full speed ahead. But for the moment, I celebrate my retirement and being able to catch moments such as this.
Conclusions about this day: “Carpe diem”- seize the day. Capture each and every moment. Remember mornings like this!        teh

 

 

 


March 28, 2017

Day 207 of my retirement.                           “Working together”

I am a co-leader of an adult Bible study class at my church in Shelbyville KY. I have taught this class of about forty adults for many years. My co teacher is my good friend Tom. I teach a month and he teaches a month. It gives both of us regular breaks.

Out class decided several weeks ago to do some spring cleaning in our classroom. We decided to paint the walls, clean out “stuff” we no longer need and to replace the draperies. Our thinking is that we desire our classroom to be clean and inviting to guests and visitors. After all we want our room to show respect for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today seven class members came together to spend the majority of the day painting this large room. There were four men and three women. We worked hard and by midafternoon, the painting was completed. The room is now ready for the installation of new draperies.

Conclusion about the day: There was no way the work done today could have been completed without the cooperation of all these persons working together. It is a joy being part of a working team laboring together for a common cause all team members have endorsed equally!

 
 
 
 

March 27, 2017

Day 206 of my retirement.                           “Whoopee, --- I think!”

Getting important news is a difficult process for me to understand. My wife and I watch a lot of cable news shows. I might say we have the TV turned on to a station with cable news as the program. I will not say I watch that news show so much. Actually my wife is a bit of a “news junkie”. She says she wants to be informed about what is going on.

I do not feel everything that is called news may meet my own personal definition of news. Then there is the part where we are told of “breaking news”! I suppose such a term is subject to interpretation with countless definitions. Fortunately, my definition of breaking news followed by the 9/11 tragic announcement, space shuttle explosion announcements, or president being shot announcements rarely take place but would meet my definition of breaking news!

Last night at our home we had what I would also define as breaking news! My oldest grandson, announced that he had received notification that he was accepted at Emory University in Atlanta/Oxford Georgia to begin his pre-med studies. This was his first choice for college. It is an exceptional university to begin the preparation for a young person planning to be a Doctor/surgeon.

Conclusions about the day: I am unsure exactly how much scholarship will be offered by this university. I am certain that he will have some part that he will be responsible for. I believe in the importance of higher education. But at what price? A young person who goes through college, medical school and residency may incur close to a half million debt before they make their first dollar in that career. Then they will spend much of their career repaying that debt. I am excited about this announcement. I know he is excited about the results. But that is a ton of money to owe at the start of one’s career!          teh

 
 
 
 
 

March 26, 2017

Day 205 of my retirement.                           “Springtime in Kentucky”

As an amateur photographer, my favorite season of the year is autumn. The bright red, orange and yellow colors make amazing photo opportunities almost any direction in which you look. I am often out walking on the farm just seeking out some tree or leaf patterns that are illuminated by the bright autumn sun.

My second favorite season of the year is without a doubt, the springtime. The season begins with the patches of white or yellow colors in our garden flower beds. The pace of color picks up by late March and by mid-April; our garden and orchard will be alive with color from all points on the rainbow. I have a bench in our garden where I like to sit and listen to the sounds of spring time. The sounds are often made by the many song birds building a nest or calling to their mate. I can peer around my place of sitting and see the pinks of the apple and peach trees in the orchard. Today, I enjoyed the Virginia Bluebells, the purple and pink hyacinths, the last of the yellow daffodils and the red blossoms on the flowering quince.

Today I sat a while in our garden. The warm southwest breeze made my stay most comfortable.  I could almost hear the grass growing in the pasture just across the board fence from where I was sitting. The rain shower from earlier in the afternoon had given every plant a much needed drink. Now the sunshine encouraged the growth. Our cows in the pasture were well satisfied with the green foliage that they now were enjoying.

Conclusions about this day: With the passage of days such as this, the memory of the just passed winter of 2016-17 can be soon forgotten. In its place not only the beauty of the springtime but also the hazy hot summer that will follow. But let’s not get too far ahead!   teh

 
 
 
 
 

Image goes here.
The Ritz theater as it appeared in 1920's.

“Putting on the Ritz”

March 25, 2017

Day 204 of my retirement.                           

I grew up in old Louisville. My home was razed in 1966 to make way for the UL expansion of their Belknap campus. The street, the houses in my neighborhood and the movie theaters are all gone. I have not been back for many years to that part of the city. Without any landmarks, it is difficult for me to make sense of the space around where I called it my childhood home.

My longest friend in terms of years we have known each other (more than 65 years) now lives in St. Joseph Michigan on the shore of Lake Michigan. I do not get to see Bill/Billy very often. It has been maybe three years since we last saw each other. But we exchange text messages from time to time. Our most regular exchanges seem around UL/UK sporting events. He is as strong a UL fan as I am a UK fan.

Bill texted me about taking one of his grandchildren to the movies today. That activity stirred a memory for him which he reminded me of. Bill recalled days long ago when going to the neighborhood movies would be our Saturday adventure. He and I and maybe a couple other neighborhood friends would spend the afternoon at the theater. It had 500 seats and likely would have no more than 100 patrons. When we both were under ten years of age, we would be allowed to walk together to the neighborhood theater for the Saturday afternoon matinee and see the latest saga of cowboys and Indians on the big screen. Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid; It really did not matter. I recall that a dollar allowed admission plus popcorn and a soda. In those days, most folks in our neighborhood did not have air conditioning. So in the hot summer, going to the movies was a reason regardless of the show to be able to spend two or three hours in an air conditioned room. There was a manager who would walk around the theater with a flashlight. He would shine the light down an aisle and call out someone for being rowdy or maybe sitting with the opposite sex too low in the seat.

The theater was called The Ritz and it was located at 1601 South Second Street. It too was demolished many years ago to make room for the Performing Arts School of Jefferson County Public Schools.

Conclusions about this day: Bill brought back fine memories for me in his recollections about this Saturday adventure. The theater and our elementary school was less than one block apart. Since we walked the five blocks to school each day, a walk to the Ritz was not a big deal. As I continue in my retirement, I find these early memories worthy of putting to print. Maybe my grandkids will get a chuckle out of them someday. Thanks Bill for another trip down memory lane!

 
 
 
 
 

 March 24, 2017

Day 203 of my retirement.                           “Lunch with friends”

For many years, I have tried to set aside Friday as a day when I can meet friends, new and old for lunch. I began doing this right after retiring from Norton Healthcare in April of 2001. Over the years I have been able to retain contact with a number of persons I worked with as well as went to school with.

It has been difficult for me to retain some of these friendships. I think for most of those who have ceased to continue, it was more because of the other person rather than my efforts to sustain that friendship. But if both persons do not invest in that relationship, the relationship will usually come to an end.

But I have several friendships that have remained strong over the years. Today, my wife and I met two friends for lunch at Gander in Middletown. One friend, Mimi, is a colleague with whom I have worked about sixteen years with. The other is Janice, the widow of my dear friend George, who passed about a year ago. Our lunch was a good time of visiting and chatting about past memories and shared experiences. We shared a good meal together as well. 

 Conclusion about this day: I intend to retain this routine of meeting friends for lunch on Fridays as often as I can. It is a good way to keep up with friends out of my past. Today I ordered shrimp and grits for my lunch meal! It was one of the finest meals of that fare I have enjoyed in a long time. The only thing better today was the fellowship around the table!     teh


March 23, 2017

Day 202 of my retirement.                           “What is the value of a human life?”

One benefit (?) of retirement is having the time to watch the various news reports on television while I sip coffee in the morning. It has quickly become a morning routine as I prepare for the new day. I am not a frequent viewer of commercial television. But I do feel some responsibility for keeping current with local and national news.

Today as I was watching the local and national news headlines, I was struck with a shared theme in the news headlines. On the local level, I learned about our state legislature requiring an ultrasound of the unborn child before allowing an abortion of an unborn child to proceed. The legal organizations in the form of the ACLU have decided to fight the new law which I believe is intended to protect the unborn child. I wondered about the value of a human life, especially with the unborn. What potential might that child offer to the world if allowed to be born?

Then the news shifted to the world news. The focus today is on the terrorist event yesterday in down town London England. A terrorist killed multiple persons before he was killed by London police. Many other persons in the wrong place at the wrong time were seriously injured. More may not survive. What is the value of a human life? I find the terrorist answer is that human life has no value. The more westerners killed by ISIS, the better the radical cause is satisfied!

Conclusions about this day: There are some things I am quite traditional about. One of those things is my belief that there is a universal obligation that we all protect that which we cannot create. We participate in the creation of human life. But life does not exist without the blessing of GOD. I will remain committed to the effort to protect all human lives. That duty does not stop at retirement! teh

 
 
 
 

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The Hedden tobacco barn                          “Our Family's Treasure”

 

March 22, 2017

Day 201 of my retirement.                          

Our family farm came into the Hedden Family on December 2, 1862. My Great grandfather purchased the land on the Shelby County Courthouse steps at a Master Commissioner’s sale for the purpose of collecting unpaid taxes. The farm was over one hundred seventy acres when Grandfather Jacob Hedden made the purchase. The sale (Hall versus Ballard) brought the land I have learned to love so deeply to be my home just as it has been for five generations of Hedden’s.

On the eighty nine acres that remains of that original purchase, only one improvement is still present. It is a four bent tobacco barn. It was constructed in the 1890’s out of cypress dressed lumber. In about 1907, a tornado came through and blew the barn down. In those days, you attempted to salvage the unbroken lumber and rebuild the structure. The same lumber was used and the new barn was built at about the same footprint, only one third smaller.

During the years we grew tobacco, I spent many a day in that barn up on a tier hanging burley tobacco. I hated the work at the time. But today the memories of all our family hard at work are some of my fondest memories. One tradition when housing tobacco was about the middle of the afternoon, we would stop our hard work and all gather on the north side of the barn in the shade and rest on the bluegrass sod. We would then pull out the washtub filled with an iced watermelon. We would cut the melon and not worry about the sweet juice oozing down our chins as we inhaled the sweet fruit. We were already too dirty that its stickiness made any difference to us.

The old barn still stands. I put a new roof on it a few years ago. I have replaced siding from time to time. I added a “barn quilt” to the north side several years ago. The barn now is listed on the Shelby coop. barn quilt tour. It is also one of my favorite photographic topics. Today, my friend Keith Yeary began a rehab of the west side of the barn. It had begun to settle where a post had rotted. I will spend more than the barn is possibly worth. But for me it remains a historical landmark.

Conclusions about the day: Today, I am spending my children’s inheritance.  I did not discuss that decision with them. They likely would not have agreed. But I will not allow that part of my history succumb to time and deterioration during “my watch”!           teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March 21, 2017

Day 200 of my retirement.                                           “The artist within”

Upon retirement, I expected to have time to try new things. Things that I felt I did not have the time for previously. Not long ago, I joined an oil painting group at my church. Actually, my wife wanted to join and she asked me to go with her to the group. I am not an artist! Yes, I enjoy photography and am told that some of my images are liked by others. I’ve even been told that I create nice pictures with my cameras.

But painting an image on a white canvas is a different art form all together. I understand the basic rules of photographic composition. And oil painting does follow some of the same principles as do photography. But my ability to translate my photographic skills to canvas has not progressed quickly or effectively. I look around me and see a number of “artists” who are highly gifted with their work on canvas. I must admit I feel a bit intimidated by them.

I remind myself that most “gifts” are not acquired without much practice and time spent. I have been pursuing this craft less than five hours. Is that realistic to expect something extraordinary with no more work than that?

Conclusions about this day: I am thankful to GOD for his having given me an eye to see His world and the beauty that He placed within it. I am also grateful that He has allowed me to travel to see many of those special places He created with such beauty. My eyes have seen and been moved by that beauty. Just do not ask me to paint what I have seen! That is why I use a camera!     teh

 
 
 
 

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Clouds and spring showers.

“A spring like day in March”

March 20, 2017

Day 199 of my retirement.                           

Today is the first day of spring. But yesterday did also feel like spring time. I went to my daughter and son-in-law’s home yesterday to assist with tree pruning in their yard. The job itself was not that long in duration. I was able to complete the project in less than an hour. It seems that my retirement has availed to me a reputation of being some kind of authority in my family on “stuff” I never held before!

My two youngest grandchildren were out in the yard as I finished my work. My granddaughter invited me to push her on the swing behind their lovely home. My three year old grandson came and joined us and I was asked by both to continue to push the swings. After a time, my grandchildren then wanted to play and act out imaginary stories. My granddaughter had been to see “Beauty and the Beast” last week. So all her playing involved princesses and evil magicians. I was assigned the duty of rescue of the princess from the hands of the evil magician! The three year old magician became quite involved in his role and was getting overly excited.

I called time out and suggested we sit down and I would tell them a story. To my surprise, they agreed to sit and I told them a ten minute story of a time in my childhood when I was seven years old and walked two miles to school and back home again by myself. The particular memory was a day when it had rained most of the day. That morning I crossed a creek on a big log across the stream. There was no bridge and autos just drove through the eight to ten inches of water that usually ran.

After the rain of all day, the creek had risen substantially since my crossing that morning. In fact I could no longer see the log crossing the creek. I was trapped on the wrong side of the creek and sundown was not too far away. I became frightened of being stuck. Then the mailman came down the hill from behind me. He was driving a world war two jeep (in 1952) that was open with no doors and a floorboard with rusty holes in it. He offered me a ride across the Adams Creek. I was told to lift my feet as we crossed the swollen stream as water began to rise up through the rusty floor. After the successful crossing, the mailman continued to drive me another one half mile to my grandmother’s home as the postal route passed the family farm.

My grandchildren had some initial doubt that my story was true. But I assured them that it is as I recall it. Later that evening, I overheard my granddaughter proudly recount this story to her mother. As she told the story with surprising accuracy, she beamed as she informed her mom that the story was a true story about her “Pops”.

Conclusions about this day: Telling our family stories are an important way of sustaining our family traditions. How wonderful it felt when I heard my granddaughter tell my story!     teh

 

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Tulips and pansies           “Blooming where you are planted”

 

March 19, 2017

Day 198 of my retirement.                          

It is an old saying that says “bloom where you are planted”! I like the saying. It speaks to making the best out of whatever your circumstances.

This past long weekend of Wednesday through Saturday, my visit to the sunny south turned out to be a trip to the cloudy and chilly north Georgia. Our visit was primarily to spend a little time with our friends Mike and Reba in Rome Georgia. But we also planned a visit to Gibbs Garden near Ball Ground Georgia about sixty five miles east of Rome.

Gibbs is a well-known garden of more than two hundred acres of which forty acres are planted with more than twenty million daffodils of many varying colors. I was quite disappointed that most of the daffodils had finished their bloom cycle last Friday when we were there. The evidence of their spent blossoms was quite apparent. A few yellow blossoms continued to wave in the strong north winds that whistled through the tall long needled pines at the garden. I sought out color when and where I could find it.

The “Manor House” is Jim and Susan Gibbs home at the garden that carries the Gibbs name. It was there I found the most color I would see that day.  Tulips and pansies were planted in beds and serpentine displays across the terraced lawn that sweeps down the tall hill on which the estate home stands at its pinnacle. The yellow tulips and purple pansies continued to bloom as they had been planted even surviving the bitter cold twenty degree night of the north Georgia mountains.

Conclusions about the day: Beauty is where you find it. Had the daffodils been in bloom as they might have been at this time in other years, the tulips and pansies would have gone unnoticed. But these flowers bloomed as they were bred to do. And they bloomed with amazement when other flowers were no longer present. And I was able to enjoy the work of their efforts that chilly afternoon.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Our dear friends!

“Parting is such sweet sorrow”!

March 18, 2017

Day 197 of my retirement.                                           

Mr. Shakespeare said it long before me. He wrote this famous line in his play Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is saying good night to Romeo. Their sorrowful parting is also “sweet” because it makes them think about the next time they will see each other.

This morning my wife and I prepared to leave our dear friends, Mike and Reba in Rome Georgia. I spoke that line to them as we made our leave for Shelbyville. It seemed fitting at the moment. We have visited each other in both their and our homes countless times over the forty plus years we have known each other. The farewells are never easy and we all dread that moment. But there is indeed sweetness none the less. We know and have already planned another gathering later this year in the mountains. We feel a certain excitement that our old friendship will be sustained until we one or all have “slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings---“. (Thanks to Mr. John J. Magee yr. for that last quote).

Conclusions about this day: With retirement, I had hoped to travel more often. Thus far that has not happened. But I will continue to plan those get away times and make possible the times when we see our friends, especially those who are not so close by. But that will be another day!     teh
 

 March 17, 2017

 

Day 196 of my retirement.           “The things people say”

 

Today, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite places for trees and flowers. It is like a combination of Bernheim Forest Kentucky, Franklin Park Ohio, Calloway Gardens Georgia and the gardens at Biltmore North Carolina all in one. The place is called Gibbs Garden near Ball Ground Georgia. I have visited it several times before. The garden is famous for the planting of twenty million daffodils on a forty acre track. I planned this visit several months ago and expected in mid March to catch the 20 million flowers in full bloom. I was wrong. The warm February led to the flowers being at peak color two or three weeks ago. But none the less it was a fine day.

 

The garden has a sandwich shop which serves great chicken salad sandwiches on whole wheat/cranberry/walnut bread. I selected one along with a bag of kettle chips and soda. As I was eating my sandwich in the table area, I became aware of a couple sitting right behind me who were speaking too loud for what they were saying. This one person acknowledged a recent inheritance of some substantial amount of dollars. The other person asked what would be done with the inheritance. A couple ideas were offered including charity or helping adult children. The recipient of the inheritance replied with no hesitation, “No, I think I will spend it all on myself”!

 

Conclusions about this day: People say the strangest things. And although I had no business listening to the conversation described above, the volume was far too loud to miss. We live in a time when far too much is all about self. I pray that we all will realize that we are the recipients of many gifts both large and small every day. Often these gifts are not monetary but are through relationships. This life I live is not all about me. It is about our interaction with all the people our lives encounter every day. I hope this person I quote above someday figures that out.     teh

 


 

March 16, 2017

 

Day 195 of my retirement.           “Walk On”

 

Today, I spent most of the afternoon walking downtown with our friends, Mike and Reba. We had no particular destination in mind. It was a cool but dry day and so we walked along Main Street for several blocks in downtown Rome Georgia. When we came to cross streets, we had to wait to proceed as the traffic was more frequent and we chose to not take a chance with traffic otherwise.

 

At one intersection, as we prepared to cross, my friend Mike spoke in a humorous command, “Walk on”! The thought came to my memory of long ago when my uncle RJ Hedden Jr. used this same wording to command his team of work horses here on the farm. This memory goes back to before 1958 when my uncle sold his farm adjacent to our farm and moved permanently to Florida. He owned three horses in the 1950’s. Two mares, (Maud and Mable) and a white stallion named Starlight. The mares were the work horses that pulled a wagon or sled used in day to day work on the farm. Starlight was a hot tempered stallion that was more of a pet to my uncle. My uncle used very few instructions with the work horses. His commands included, “whoa”, (stop): “gee, (go right): “haa”, (go left): and “baaack up” (back up). My favorite instruction to the horses was the simple “walk on”! And with that command, the horses would in unison move forward.

 

Conclusions about this day: I wish all communication were as simple. I wish when we give a clear message, the recipient of the message was as cooperative as Maud and Mable were those many years ago. A good memory stirred from my past as I spent time with these dear friends today. I thank GOD for their presence in my life.     teh

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

March 15, 2017
Day 194 of my retirement.                    "The price for aging"
 
Today I had the opportunity to spend time with two of my dearest and long time friends, Mike and reba. I met them for the first time on March 3, 1973 the day my son was born. We lived in Georgia at that time. Reba was the nurse assigned to care for my wife that day. Out of that chance encounter of firty four years ago grew a friendship that feels today like family.
 
Our conversation this day was about aging. Yes we all four are aging and are far removed from who we were those days when first we met. We were speaking about how some people seem to become very negative as they age. And the negativity leads to estrangement from family and friends.
 
\I think about myself as I have retired. I resist thinking of myself as old. I resist thinking of myself as being seen as negative. But I realize it is easy to be pessimistic about elements in our lives. I genuinely believe I am usually a positive person. And I enjoy being around others who are an optimist. I think that is part of the reason I find these dear friends, Mike and Reba, to be so important in my life.
 
Conclusions about this day: I believe negativity is a choice. We can choose to be otherwise. Today, I chose to be positive. I cannot control aging, but I will control my attitude about living! teh
 
 
 

March 14, 2017

Day 193 of my retirement.                                           “Live longer?”

With the coming of retirement, I find that my priorities have changed a bit. In younger years, my priorities/goals were pretty basic. Find a wife, get a good job, start a family, buy or build a home, get kids through college. Check, check, check and check. Also on that list of priorities was keeping one’s health till beyond retirement. I think I have been reasonably successful with that one as well. But now as a retired man, my goal is to stay well as long as I can.

I read an interesting set of statistics this week about wellness and life expectancy. The article listed potential factors that could lengthen one’s lifetime. They included such factors as marriage, church attendance, taking vacations and a number of other variables. I am not convinced that these factors are by themselves, aids in lengthening one’s lifetime. But there were one or two I found especially compelling.

One was having and maintaining friendships with others. The author suggests that loneliness may increase the risk of early death by forty five percent. The second factor I thought of interest is having a four legged pet in your home. The writer stated that owning a pet can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and even improve the likelihood of surviving a heart attack!

Conclusions about this day: We all are leaving this life in exactly the same way. I do believe in an afterlife in a place called Heaven. I plan to go there. But I am in no hurry to begin that journey. In the interim, I will continue to celebrate the presence of friends in my life,--both the two and four legged variety!  teh

 
 
 
 
 

March 13, 2017

Day 192 of my retirement.                           “Are there still good people in this world?”

When you work a long time in a certain career, you begin to acquire certain habits. Those habits are often incorporated into your routines of daily living. The time you get up and go to bed are just a small example of what I am describing. After you retire, you also acquire other habits that seem associated with your retirement. I have discovered that Mondays, my wife and I seem to end up in Middletown for one reason or another. Today I had an ophthalmologist appointment. My wife suggested she accompany me and we go to lunch together following the noon appointment.

As I was coming out of my doctor’s appointment, I turned my phone back on. There are signs in his office asking you to turn phone off while in the office. I immediately observed five separate phone calls in the past thirty minutes from my retirement broker. I called his office and his office manager answered my call. She asked me if I had sent her an email today asking that a large amount of money be wired to an account in New York. I said no. I knew nothing about it. She then told me of a lengthy email appearing to have been sent by me asking for this monetary exchange. I was shaken and then angered. How dare someone attempt such a blatant deception? She assured me that she had thought it bogus and had no intent to release any money unless she heard my voice tell her that. We have a secret password we use when we speak by phone. I changed all my passwords today. It is a hassle but appears necessary at times such as this.

After lunch with my wife, we went to a big box store nearby.  We selected several items and went to a checkout line with only one customer in front of us. That customer was about my age and was paying for a number of grocery items. She paid with credit card.  As she prepared to leave the checkout, she noted a small item that was beneath her purse in the child seat on the bascart. She quickly pushed back to the check out and called this small oversight to the checkout person. She was clearly embarrassed and wanted to right the wrong as soon as she could.

Conclusions about this day: I am sure there are good people in the world. I am sure the computer and internet are generally very good and worthwhile. But there are a few bad people who can and would use the internet to steal from someone the likely have never met or know. Steal money that could destroy the life and safety of someone who they do not know. I could have been that person today. I am thankful that I had friends at my retirement manager’s business who were looking out for me today. I am also glad that GOD placed the lady in front of me at the checkout to see her urgency that she not walk out without paying for that small item beneath her purse. GOD is good to remind me that goodness still exists in our world today!  teh

 
 
 

March 12, 2017

Day 191 of my retirement.                  “Books”

 Retirement for me has necessitated my taking inventory of stuff I have collected and acquired over the past fifty plus years. This all began when I began the process of closing down my office. I had an entire room filled with a combination of necessary things along with things I had acquired sometimes from clients who wished to leave some part of self in tribute to the work and progress they made with me. I treasure those objects and have placed them in a safe place.

One of the largest collections I am now faced with deciding what to do with is the library of books I am in possession of. Some of the books go back to college or graduate school. Some of the books are more recent and reflect my taste in leisure reading. I am one of those boomers who still prefer the paper version of a reading over that of an electronic “e-book”. These days my wife is asking me to cull those books I no longer have a desire to hold on to. I have discovered this to not be an easy task. Some books hold pleasant memories for me. Others are nothing more than a kind of literary stepping stone that I used in the past to get to an informational destination.

Today as I was filling a large box with books for discarding, I realized I also was parting with books that connected with goals from my past that now seem unattainable or maybe more so no longer desirable as once they might have been. Vacations taken as well as vacations that were abandoned were included in the box of cast-asides. My emotions are mixed as I put words to this experience today. I have a temptation to return and remove a book or two from the stack. But I will not be doing that. Because tomorrow, I think I would just wonder what I will do with a book on “Migratory Water Birds of the Mississippi Flyway”?

Conclusions about this day: Retiring for me is becoming far more complex than once I had thought. The effects of lifestyle changes extend far beyond not going to one’s office daily. The effects also spill over into the lives of children and close friends. I am certain I have become a different person since retirement. I am not sure whether that is good or bad. I will await that conclusion for another day.          teh

 

 
 March 11, 2017

Day 190 of my retirement.                           “Death and Taxes”

It has been said that there are only two certainties in life. Those being death and taxes. I suppose it is true on both of the above. I am planning on waiting a while on the former but the latter is on my agenda today.

I have spent much of this day working on my tax preparation for my CPA with whom I intend to meet with in the next couple days. My taxes are not all that difficult. They just take time to organize and arrange by categories my CPA desires for me to provide to him. I spend much of my time collecting all the spent checks, credit receipts and so forth from a large basket in which I store such information all year long.

My biggest expenses are usually associated with our farm. This year was especially complicated as I built two barns and added some cattle. I sometimes wonder if my life would be simpler if we had no farming operation. But I still enjoy life here on our land. It is a tradition far too long in years to stop at this time.

I do not object to paying my fair share of taxes. I sometimes think my share fees unfair in amount. But then I think about what a good life I enjoy. And I recall how my taxes do pay for much of the necessities that I depend upon from police, fire, roads, and so forth. We would be in a far worse situation without such services.

Conclusions about this day: I will collect my tax materials as best I can. I will pay my taxes as soon as I can. I will forget about the check I must write to the IRS as quickly as I can!                         teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Flowering Quince 3/10/2017

“Breakfast with my grandson”

Day 189 of my retirement.                                           

One of the challenges about growing old is finding the time to spend a quality moment with your grandchildren. There are those times when you might get to spend with all of them together. Times such as thanksgiving and Christmas may be an occasion for family to gathers together and spend a quality evening or mealtime together with your grandchildren. But to spend an hour or two with just one grandchild alone is exceedingly rare for me.

Today was one of those rare occasions. My oldest grandchild met me for a two hour breakfast today at Cracker Barrel. We met at eight in the morning for breakfast and time to talk and listen. Our family is a family of breakfast eaters. So meeting for breakfast is complementary to our breakfast tradition. My wife also joined this meal time. We each ate a full breakfast of bacon, eggs and biscuits!

But we quickly dismissed the food aspect of the gathering and then turned to talk about my grandson’s future. He is just about two months from graduation from high school. He has lofty goals for himself. A prestigious college and a pre-med degree are in his sights. Then off to medical school. His long range goal is that of thoracic and heart surgeon. He has detailed dreams for his life and his future. I found myself jealous for just a moment. The places he will go and the things he can and will do.

Conclusions about the day: I do not recall at the age of seventeen years having such a clear view of where I was going with my life and career. Now at the end of my career, I have no energy to begin again some new career even if I had the years to do it. But I remain very proud of what this grandchild has done already and what he will do in the future. And I remind myself that I have three more grandchildren who each will follow with a different road of their own. As a retired person, I will have more time to watch each of their journeys and cheer them along! teh

 


 
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Releasing a bulldozer from mud.

“Friend helping friend”

March 9, 2017

Day 188 of my retirement.                           

One of the goals I set for myself after retirement was to expand our beef production here on the farm. Expanding production requires more than just acquiring more livestock. It also requires more land for forage. We have the land. But the land we would eventually use would require new fencing. Most of this fence was constructed more than twenty years ago. In those times, we have seen the fence deteriorate and need to be replaced in its entirety. In order to replace the fence, we must first clear the fence and the trees and bushes that have invaded the fence line.

I contracted with a friend who has done bulldozing for me in the past. I trust his work and felt he would do the work at a reasonable price. As we were about to get done with the fence clearing today, I asked the bulldozer operator to take a look at a pond that had a bad leak in the bottom. He agreed to do so. Not five minutes later he had got the dozer stuck in the muck at the pond bottom.

My friend called another contractor to come and help. He did not give me any details; he just said help was on the way. About thirty minutes later, a pickup truck is coming up my driveway pulling a trailer loaded with a “mini excavator” not one sixth the size of the trapped bulldozer. My first thought was to wonder why this second contractor had come to help with such a small piece of equipment. In not more than fifteen minutes the dozer was released from its muddy resting place and back working without any further difficulty.

Conclusions about this day: Friends helping friends does not necessarily mean both parties have equal power or skills. We help with what we have. We do it to the best of our ability. And sometimes that is just enough to help a friend out of a hole. And today, that was the final outcome to this sticky situation.  teh

 
 
 
 
 

One of my pastimes is growing orchids.

 “Serving others”

March 8, 2017

Day 187 of my retirement.                          

I always expected that in retirement, I would have the opportunity to spend my days doing different things than I have done during my professional career. And thus far, more than six months into retirement, I have been able to do a variety of things for pleasure. I am involved in a photography group, a weight loss group and a group of volunteer counselors at my church. I am also presently seeking the formation of a creative writing group that I might participate in. I have found the oil painting group of which I recently joined to be more challenging than I anticipated. And I must not forget my interest in perennial flowers and orchids.

But beyond the above groups, I also expected to spend time in service to others. I feel quite passionately about the idea of volunteerism. I see many friends and neighbors who have found places of service doing volunteering for some worthy cause. I am a bit surprised that others seem I regret to say indifferent towards using their talents and serving others. My Christian background compels me to help others. Not just with monetary gifts but also with my time. But I also do not believe it is right to talk about how you volunteer in service to others. If you do some voluntary activity, you keep that action private and do not talk about what you did. The Bible speaks that in bragging, you got your reward just then.

Conclusions about this day: I will continue to volunteer my time when and where I can. But I will not choose to tell others what I am doing. That will be between me and my Father in Heaven.Type text here.               teh
 
 
 
 

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Saucer White Chinese Magnolia

 “The letter”

March 7, 2017

Day 186 of my retirement.                                          

A sad truth about retirement is the fact that I lose contact with clients I have come to know within my years of practice. Regardless of what some might say, my clients were almost always more than just a folder or chart. I found them to be very real and special in many different ways. But with retirement, some of these former clients are now in a therapeutic alliance with other clinicians. And since I do not wish to interfere in that collaboration, I lose contact with these former clients.

Saturday, I received a letter at my home from an address I did not initially recognize. It was a hand written letter very neatly sent in a card with envelope. One seldom receives a hand written letter in the US mail any longer. I carefully opened the letter to see its contents. It turns out it was from a client of more than four years ago. I had no contact with this person since I last saw them. As I began to read the three page letter, I recognized this person very clearly.

The letter detailed a period of time with both the good and not so good. This person told me of difficult hills they had climbed since we last saw each other. But they also told me of recollections and words I had spoken when we worked together. They said that my counseling had been very helpful both four years ago as well as during a recent difficulty. The letter was to let me know how much they appreciated my help!

Conclusions about the day: I have received other letters from clients over the years. Most have been positive. A few letters were not so positive. But most letters arrived shortly after we had finished our work together. A letter from a client of four years ago is a bit unusual. But it was an amazing boost to my self-esteem. I my profession, I do not always hear the “rest of the story”. I sometimes hear that story about some other clinical person who had helped a client. But I do not so much hear from my own clients. I wrote a letter yesterday to this person thanking them for their correspondence. And to let them know what a bright moment in my day they did provide to me!          teh
 
 
 
 
 

March 6, 2017

Day 185 of my retirement.                           “The anniversary of a very special day”

There are a few days in your life that you just never want to forget. Days like the day you were married. Or days like when you graduated from high school or college. Days such as when you retired. I am especially fond of recalling my last day at the office. The clients I saw that day. They too knew this was my last day. And after my day ended at noon, my son in law taking me out to lunch and picking up the check!

Another day that stands out in my memory is the anniversaries of the birth of both of my children. My daughter was born in September and my son was born forty four years ago today. We lived near Atlanta in those days. He was born on a rainy Tuesday morning during Atlanta’s rush hour. I had doubts that we would make to Georgia Baptist Hospital in time. But I was wrong. We had almost an hour to spare!

This evening, we had dinner at my son’s home along with my daughter and her family. The only immediate family member not present was my grandson. He is a senior in high school and will soon graduate. He works as a pharmacy tech at a local drug store. He works most evenings after school. I feel so blessed that I have good children who have good marriages and wonderful, smart grandchildren. It is a great joy to sit around the table and visit after having been served a grand dinner complete with Italian Cream birthday cake.

Conclusions about this day: God blesses us in many different ways. One of those ways is to allow us the joy of celebrating anniversaries with family and friends. Another blessing is recognizing that though our lifetime is limited, we gain a degree of immortality by passing along to our children and grandchildren the advice and love we possess which likely was given to us by our parents or grandparents.                               teh

 
 
 
 

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Wind in the trees today.

“The winds they called Mariah”   

March 5, 2017

Day 184 of my retirement.                                  

What a grand day it was today! I went to church and it was quite chilly. When I walked out of church, the temperature had risen almost twenty degrees and the sun was shining. After lunch, I determined that this day was far too good to not be outside as much as I could today.

So after lunch, I got our UTV out and drove it across the farm. I noticed that the winter tans are beginning to give in to the pale greens of early spring. The sun and the warm breezes seemed to beacon the trees and bushes to release those first tiny blades of color from the still tightly wrapped buds of a new season. I stopped my vehicle near the family garden and listened to the silence. It was so pleasant. Then I heard off in the distant trees of the woodlot some distance to the southeast. I heard the wind rising in the treetops. I heard the soft whistle along with the sounds of treetops swaying and clicking into other trees in the neighboring trees across the meadow. The whistling rose as the gust of spring breeze moved closer. Then the breeze was upon me and I felt the swirling air as it moved from southeast to northwest.

Words came to my mind. Words from a movie of long ago. “They called the wind Mariah.” The song was from the musical western Paint Your Wagons” and the music was written by Lerner and Lowe. This song was the hit song of the musical and the lyrics have been recorded by countless musicians. “The rain is Tess, the fire is Joe and they called the wind Mariah”!

Conclusions about the day: Retirement allows my daily schedule to adjust to doing things I wish to do and do them when I choose to do it. I like that! And I like the spring winds blowing across the meadow. The spring winds they called Mariah!          teh

 
 
 
 

March 4, 2017

Day 183 of my retirement.                           “Bulldozing and midpoints”

Today has turned out to be a grand day with warming temperatures and sunny skies. Several months ago, I spoke with a contractor who operates a bulldozer. This contractor has worked for me on two previous occasions and his work was very acceptable to me in the past. I was able to contract with him back in December regarding clearing some fence rows. He had agreed to do this work for me. We agreed on the price and the only remaining issue was when he might arrive to do the work.

Today he came. He started about nine twenty this morning and worked five and half hours today. He will return on Monday and possibly complete the job. I spent the day out in the field watching and spotting him when he was pushing down trees close to the road. All went very well today. I look forward to his return and completing the project next week.

Today as I was sitting down to write this note, it occurred that today marks the midpoint of my journey through the first year of my retirement. In 182 days more, I will have completed a full year of being retired. And that will end my daily published journal. When first I began this journey of daily writing, I could not have imagined what the commitment would have been like. No regrets. Just it has been a major time commitment.

Conclusions about the day: “Tempus fugit”; time flies! It seems only a short time ago I packed my office and moved my desk chair back home. I like my new routine. I remain busy and cannot say it feels as though I am truly retired. It just feels as if I shifted gears! Just like operating a bulldozer! teh

 
 
 
 
 

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“First Friday in Lent”

March 3, 2017

Day 182 of my retirement.                           

I am a lifelong member of the Baptist Church. In the course of my spiritual journey, I have since age fifteen been a member of five churches, all Baptist. From Louisville to Atlanta Georgia back to Elizabethtown Kentucky and finally to Shelbyville Kentucky, I have worshipped in Baptist churches where ever we resided. I have worshipped in churches of other denominations including Catholic Cathedrals, Jewish synagogues, the National Cathedral, the Old North Church(Anglican), Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Church of God and Disciples of Christ. Some of these churches felt very familiar with their worship traditions, others were quite different for me.

The traditional season of Lent that proceeds the Easter Sunday is not a tradition in any of the Baptist Churches with which I have been affiliated. I actually know little about Lent other than the practice of applying ashes from the previous year’s palm branches (now burned to ash) to the forehead of the faithful worshipper on Ash Wednesday. The season of Lent is of significance in Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic denominations. Members of these denominations consider Lent a season of preparation for Easter, a time to contemplate the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. During Lent, members of these denominations fast and practice a moderate, disciplined way of life. This usually entails the sacrificing of something chosen by the faithful. Within the Roman Catholic Church, the choice is often red meat in deference to fish. The Catholic Church nearest to my home hosts a weekly fish fry on each Friday of the Lenten season each year.

Conclusion about this day: This evening my wife and I once again attended the Catholic Fish Fry at the local Catholic Church. We have done this at least one Friday each year for several years. It always is quite good and reasonably priced. This year the fish was exceptional! But the best of all about the fish on this Lenten Friday was the dessert! Bread Pudding! I am a bit of a connoisseur of good bread and banana pudding. I could have made a meal out of the bread pudding! But I should not have driven after dining on that pudding! My hat’s off to the good folks at the local Catholic Church and their continuing their tradition of fish fries during the Lenten season!   teh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 March 2, 2017

Day 181 of my retirement                            “Being real!”

My wife and I have always enjoyed certain children’s books enough that many have been retained in our own personal library here at our home on the farm. One of my favorite children’s books is the 1922 classic “The Velveteen Rabbit” written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson.

The book tells the story of a velveteen rabbit that has been mostly worn out by being loved by its  young owner for a very long time. After the owner suffers a bout with scarlet fever, the parents decide it is time to get rid of the toys in the nursery as they might spread the disease to other children. Before the toys are burned in the garden, the velveteen rabbit and a “skin horse” (rocking horse) have a conversation in the garden about becoming real instead of being stuffed animals. The horse tells the rabbit that in order to become real, you must be loved by someone so long that your fur is rubbed off and your wood shavings are falling out!

As humans we struggle with being real also. Just today my daughter tells me about taking a box of fresh farm eggs to a friend at work yesterday in the rain. As she was crossing Clear Creek Bridge, she saw a deer cross the road in front of her. She applied her brakes too hard and the eggs scooted to the floor breaking four eggs. In an attempt to clean up the egg mess on the floor, she somehow got eggs on her slacks that she was wearing to work. She did not know about the egg mess on her slacks till she dropped our grandson at daycare thirty minutes later. She used some baby wipes to clean her slacks and off to work she drove with wet slacks. She said later in the day the slacks had a stiff starched feel thanks to egg mess! That is what I call being real!!!

Conclusions about this day: Being real is a noble challenge. Sometimes, it seems that as we get older, it gets easier to be real. Maybe it is because we realize then that being honest and sincere is part of becoming real. Or maybe then, being real only takes place when we begin to wear out and our skin gets rough with liver spots and our stuffing begins to spill over our belt and suspenders! teh

 
 
 
 
 

March 1, 2017

Day 181 of my retirement.

“Stormy Nights”

The bedside clock showed the time to be three forty seven in the morning. My wife and I both bolted up in the bed at exactly the same moment. A bright flash of light from out through the bedroom window had interrupted our slumber and caused us to react to the flash in such an extreme manner. The crash of thunder that followed insured that neither of us would quickly fall back asleep at this early morning time.

I had watched the weather last night at the ten o’clock news hour. We were told that lines of potentially severe storms would pass through during the night. But I did not expect the sudden awakening I received. Actually there was only one other loud clap of thunder before the sheets of heavy rain that followed. I have always found the sound of rainfall on one’s roof to be one of the best sleep agents I know. And eventually I did fall back to sleep. That is till five forty five this morning when I was aroused by the continuous sound of distant thunder followed by the whistle of rising winds. As this time is close to my regular time of arising, I decided to get up and check the weather radar. A new day had begun.

Conclusion about this day: Stormy nights can be a bit unsettling. We possess within our being those beliefs that we might somehow be safer if we do not sleep during any storm that arrives at night. But I always find that the new day and the light of morning always changes my perspective on that day. Once the sun had risen, all the ghosts and goblins of the stormy night just passed seemed to have slithered away into some dark crevasse and no longer give me any pause in my otherwise pleasant spring day.                  teh

 
 
 
 

February 28, 2017

Day 180 of my retirement.                           “We were created for relationship”

Joe and I spoke today at “The Barrel” where we sometimes see each other early in the morning. I have not known Joe very long. We began our friendship around a shared interest. That interest is the Holy Scriptures. I view Joe as a deep thinker. I’m not sure that title belongs to me. But I do find it stimulating that we chat once or twice a week with our conversation often evolving around some theological question. We sometimes are on the opposite sides of some scriptural dialogue. But usually we hold views that are complementary to each other.

There is a truth that in retirement I have realized at a deeper level. That truth is that we all need to have outlets for dialogue with other people. GOD created us to need and seek out conversation with others. It is part of the signature DNA GOD placed within all people. It is one thing that makes us different from all other creations. Sometimes that dialogue is for the purpose of validation of a thought or view we are holding. Other times that interaction is for the purpose of seeking advice or counsel. We all serve as a counselor each and every day when we interact with another person. There are times when our sharing may become confrontational when we see that person engaged in some action we find of danger or potentially conflicted. A meaningfully relationship can endure such important exchanges of truth.

Conclusions about this day: As I continue in this retirement, I am able to feel much gratitude that GOD has placed special persons in my life who have offered to me an ongoing dialogue with me that holds me accountable for the positive and negative thoughts I can share with these people I call “my special friends”!                                          teh

 
 
 
 

February 27, 2017

Day 179 of my retirement.                           “A close call!”

Sometimes we are confronted in a sudden and frightening way of the uncertainty of our lives as we expect to live it. Today was one of those days for me.

I was driving my wife to Macy’s in St Matthews this afternoon. We were traveling north on Hurst borne Lane at Linn Station Road. The light was red and I was in the first position for a left turn. The light held a couple minutes. It then changed to green. I gave my car some gas and we began to move across three lanes. Suddenly a car in the far right lane came flying through the intersection crossing my path. I hit the brakes and he sailed through. It took a moment for me to realize what had just happened. No cars struck. No one was injured. But it was a very close call. I had to absorb the Adrenalin that was now coursing through my body. I then drove on.

But how different things might have been. The fast moving vehicle might have struck the passenger side of my car. My wife and her safety were at the top of my list. Our auto might have been badly damaged or totaled. We both could have been hurt. But thanks to GOD for watching over us, no harm, and no foul.

Conclusions about the day:  Today is still another reminder of how quickly our lives can be changed, possibly forever.  You just must be in the wrong place at the wrong time. My reflexes were quick enough to hit the brake pedal. The anti-locking mechanism in my brake system worked on damp roads. We spoke several minutes later about the close call. And then we moved on with our lives. This is not something I want to dwell too long upon. But for an instant, my life began to pass before my---never mind!                  teh

 
 
 
 

February 26, 2017

Day 178 of my retirement.                           "Life’s uncertainties”

Today, as I write, I look out the window by my desk and see the bright sun shining in the garden and orchard beyond. To the observer from inside the house, it looks like a lovely, early spring day. However, I returned home from Church and Bible study a short time ago. It is not warm outside. It is forty-one degrees headed for a high of maybe fifty degrees. That is close to normal for this time of year in Kentucky. But on Friday, just passed, it is quite chilly compared to the almost eighty degrees of only two days before.

I noticed as I traveled my driveway that the white Chinese Magnolia blossoms have turned distinctly brown and wilted. They appear to have frozen in the twenty four degrees of early morning today. The weather had been forecasted a number of days ago that we would have this roller coaster ride with the weather. I was hoping it would be wrong. Once the weather was more of an art than a science in predicting weather a week or so into the future. Now, the predictions are much more precise for the good weather and the bad!

One of my awareness’s about retirement is my wish for certainty and predictability in my life. I want to feel some sense of control over my existence. But with retirement, I also am aware that I must accept the fact that I do not have such absolute control. In fact as I grow older, my ability to have any control becomes gradually lessened. I must find ways to accept the unexpected and become comfortable with those times.

Conclusions about this day: The freezing weather today stole away the spring beauty that was present only yesterday. Yes the crocus, daffodils and hellebores remain pretty. But many other spring flowers are burned by the cold. Yet there is beauty in my world. I just must look in different places. I do not have the ability to control the weather otherwise.                                      teh

 
 
 
 
 

February 25, 2017

Day 177 of my retirement.                           “Caring about others.”

Today, my Bible study class continued a project we started two years ago. On one or two Saturdays a year, we ask our Senior Adult Pastor to provide several families in our church who live in an area that is close together and we deliver homemade soup and cornbread.

Today there were nine homes that a group of eleven from our Seekers Bible Study class made that delivery. In as much as this was a “biting” cold day, the soup was a decidedly good menu for this day. Yesterday, ice cream might have been a better choice!

My wife and I made two stops along the way. We visited in homes of one occupant. Though our visits were short, we were able to engage the recipients in some social interaction before our departure.

I find that such projects always give me more than I give to others. There is always a sweet spirit that I experience as I visit and share some home-made cooking that is still hot and ready to eat.

Conclusions about the day: Part of my retirement includes the saving of time that I may spend in service to others. Rick Warren, in his book, “Purpose Driven Life “began his writing with the statement, (Life)-“it’s not all about you”! I believe this is a great statement of fact. As a retired person, that truth becomes more realized each day.          teh

 
 
 
 


February 24, 2017

Day 176 of my retirement.                                  “The support offered by my grandson.”

I have spoken in the past two weeks or so of my having cataract surgery on both my eyes. The second surgery was yesterday. As part of the recovery period is the placement of drops in both my eyes on a daily basis. Initially following the surgery the protocol calls for five drops a day in the affected eye. After a week, the number of drops declines to two a day for another two weeks.

My wife has been most helpful in administering the drops in my eyes. The drops must be administered more than ten minutes apart. This means that the eye drop protocol extends for an hour or longer.

Today my three year old grandson was at our house for the day. He overheard my wife speak of it being time for eye drops. I walked in the kitchen where my wife and grandson were sitting. I sat down in a kitchen chair to await the administration of the drop. Suddenly my grandson was pulling another chair up next to mine. Then he grabbed my hand and said, “Pops I want to hold your hand while Meme (my wife) gives you your drops”. “I want to help you so you don’t hurt so badly. I love you so much Pops!”

Conclusion about this day: Sometimes grand kids say the darndest things! My grandson made my day with his spontaneous expression of love and concern towards me. It is a memory to be treasured by me for a very long time.               teh

 
 
 

February 23, 2017

Day 175 of my retirement                            “The other eye”

Today has been a day I have been anxious to get to. Today is the finish line, at least sort-of in my schedule to get cataract removal from both of my eyes. I had the first cataract removed two weeks ago today. My ophthalmologist in Middletown KY also did surgery on my wife’s eyes ten years ago and again last year.

I arose early today in order to be at the outpatient surgery center by seven thirty AM. As is often true, my surgery did not actually begin till about nine fifteen AM. (It was scheduled for nine AM). The surgery was completed and I was in my auto by ten fifteen ready to go get something to eat. (You are restricted to nothing more than water or black coffee in the AM up till one hour before surgery).

I stopped on my return home trip for a much needed breakfast and was home by eleven thirty. The discomfort is minimal with nothing more than blurred vision in the surgical eye and a scratchy feel on the eyeball. After arrival back home, to my surprise, I sat down in my recliner and dozed for two hours. When I arose, I definitely felt refreshed and good enough to attend a leadership meeting at my church this evening.

Conclusions about this day: With retirement, my focused has switched a bit. Now my attention is placed on personal wellness and monitoring my body in order that I do as much as I can each new day. I do continue to trust GOD for how he plans to use me each day. My challenge is to keep my body capable of doing as much as I can as long as I can. Today’s surgery was a step in the right direction!                             teh

 
 
 
 

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Dwarf daffodils.

 “Warm weather and outdoor work”

February 22, 2017

Day 174 of my retirement.                          

Today here on the old Coca Cola thermometer on the barn, the temperature registered seventy one degrees at two ten PM. The thermometer is on the north side of our tool barn and is usually a quite reliable gauge of the air temperature. The thermometer is old and rusty. But its reliability is beyond question.

As it was such a nice afternoon, I determined to engage in several projects so as to not waste such good weather for outside work. I finished planting our two new cold frames. I planted four different types of tomatoes and two kinds of bell peppers. I also planted broccoli. Previously I had planted lettuce, radishes and spinach.

I noted that one of the apple trees is breaking dormancy and tiny green buds can be spotted. I made a note to spray all the fruit trees in the next two days with pre-emergent oil spray for fruit trees. It is much too early for trees to break dormancy. But this is an unusual winter. I took my pruning shears and finished trimming the peach trees. I had trimmed the apple trees two weeks ago on one of those pleasant days much like today.

The daffodils, crocus and hellebores are all blooming. The dwarf daffodils which my wife so enjoys broke into blossom just today. We have five separate plantings in our yard. Three of those plantings bloomed with the remaining two clumps likely to bloom in the next couple days. I also noted that one of the forsythia bushes is beginning to turn yellow.

The other project I had set as a priority was the work on removing the remainder of the tree branches my son cut this past Sunday. I was able to cut the branches into manageable lengths today. I will load and haul them away tomorrow.

Conclusions about this day: This was an exceptional day today. I accomplished a lot of small projects. There will be more to do tomorrow. I have the other eye surgery tomorrow. So I may need to delay my yard work all or at least part of the day tomorrow. But the extended forecast gives promise of more days to work in the garden over the next week.                                          teh

 
 
 
 
 

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“Old and new friends”

February 21, 2017

Day 173 of my retirement.                           

Today, as is my usual tradition on Tuesdays, I went to the men’s Bible study at the Cracker Barrel. What was a little different today is that I was charged to continue a study of 1 Samuel, chapter 15. I enjoy the studies and generally do not object to leading the discussion.

Following the Bible study, I went by to retrieve my auto which was being worked on at Roy Bailey’s Service Center. Roy and his wife are what I consider old friends. I have relied on their services for many years. I find them to be trustworthy and honest. And they have kept my sixteen year old auto on the road.

Next, I went to my former practice location. I had a check to pick up. But I made sure to stop when many of my former colleagues would be present. It is always nice to chat briefly with those old friends with whom I have worked with in the past.

Finally, I came home and put on my farm work clothes. I am cleaning up some tree branches I have removed in the orchard and garden. I have a sink hole I dump such organic trash within. I had backed by truck near the hole. I happened to look out the window of the truck and noticed something that caught my attention. The grass is mostly a straw color at this time. But there was a spot of bright green grass much taller than any around it. I walked toward the tall green clump. I heard a strange sound. I stopped and looked more carefully. Then I saw a small ground bird with a very long beak. A Woodcock! I do not recall the last time I saw a woodcock in the wild! What a treat. What a nice new friend!

Conclusions about the day: Friends are a gift from GOD. Both the old variety and the new ones. Today I was blessed with both!               teh

 
 
 
 
 

February 20, 2017

Day 172 of my retirement.                           “There still are good people”

What a beautiful day it was today. It was exactly like what I envision an early spring day to be like. Sunshine, a few clouds and a warm southwestern breeze. The cows spent most of the afternoon just lying in the sun and “cow snoozing”. I even saw a groundhog in the pasture looking for clover sprouts. How do I know? Groundhogs love fresh clover sprouts as much as I like my daughter’s banana pudding!

After working most of the morning outside, I accompanied my wife to the big box store from Bentonville Arkansas. The store is located in Middletown KY. We think they have a better grocery selection than does the Shelbyville store. As has become our habit, we usually try and park in the same general area of the parking lot so we do not have to worry about not remembering where our car is located after the shopping is completed.

As we were walking through the parking lot, we were met by three ladies. My first thought was that they were going to ask me for money. Then I realized one lady, much older than the other two, and pushing a shopping cart was in tears. The younger two ladies told me that the distressed lady could not locate her automobile. She apparently had been unsuccessful in her search for several minutes. The young lady asked me and my wife to help with the auto search.

The lady told us that her car was a Mercury Topaz and was a cream color. She told us she lost her car fob after she was robbed last week by a young man. She had no panic button to press to locate the car. After a couple minutes of inquiring of any other recollections, she said she had parked in a handicap place. That helped the search that already had covered half the expansive lot. We narrowed our search to the six to eight spaces in each row closest to the store doors.

Finally one of the young ladies found the car. It was some distance from where we had been searching. The older lady once more broke into tears. This time tears of relief. We walked her to her car and then departed for the big box store and our own shopping.

Conclusion about this day: It was a beautiful day for mid-February. The encounter at the store parking lot reaffirmed to me that there are still good people in the world that will assist persons in distress. I’m glad these young ladies included us in the search. I’m hopeful the young man who robbed this elderly lady will get the help he needs. We speak about hate crimes against certain populations such as minorities, immigrants and police officers. Maybe we might add the frail and elderly to that list of hate crimes! God bless the lady with the lost auto. She may need to have someone travel with her when she goes out to shop.          teh

 
 
 
 

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Brayden with friends!

“I love you with all my heart!”

February 19, 2017

Day 171 of my retirement.                           

Our grandson Brayden is three years and three months old. We are supposed to be beyond the “terrible two’s”! And actually, I think we are. But this grandson is a poster boy for a strong willed child. He is very challenging to redirect him from some idea he has already acquired.

For those who have read my journal, you know I had cataract surgery on one eye ten days ago. I will have the second one done next week. Part of the “rehab” from the surgery is the multiple eye drops daily that one must administer for weeks after the surgery. I continue to follow this regimen at this time.

Brayden has seen his “meme” putting eye drops in his “Pops” eyes on days when he is spending time with us. On this particular day I had seated myself at the kitchen table in preparation for my wife to place a drop from this protocol in my right eye. I noticed Brayden pulling another kitchen chair up beside the chair I was sitting in. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was going to sit next to me and hold my hand while I was getting the eye drops. He was concerned I might cry or resist the drops. He then said, “Pops, I love you with all my heart!”

I’m not sure when or where he acquired the perception that I did not want the eye drops or that I would be resistant to this administration. But he did as he said and held my hand tightly while I received the eye drops.

Conclusion about the day: Grandchildren are a joy and a treasured part of our generative years. I write these memories so I will not forget them. And I write these memories so my grandchildren may have a written document of a year in the lives of my family.                          tehType text here.
 
 
 
 

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First daffodil of 2017.

“It is better to give---“

February 18, 2017

Day 170 of my retirement.           

Saturday mornings for me have a certain routine for me. I get up at 5:30 AM and at the “Barrel” at around 6:40AM. Yes, I could sleep later and still get there on time. But I enjoy the slow routine I can follow with my coffee drinking and checking emails before departing for my Gideon meeting at seven AM.

As is part of my routine, I arrived early enough to stop and speak with a friend or two before my meeting began. Today, I visited briefly with my neighbor Joe before joining the Gideon table located in the back of the restaurant. When I arrived at my table, four other Gideon’s were already present.

Our meeting consists of scripture reading, attending to Gideon programs around the world and ending with breakfast together. The meeting usually runs about one hour. We place our food order but the food is not served till after our extended season of prayer.

Today, when Sandy, a well-liked server at the Barrel brought us our food, she told our table that a table of Shelbyville police officers had paid for our food today! I was stunned and a bit embarrassed. I have for many years paid for meals of police officers in uniform when I dined in the same restaurant as them. I had never had a police officer pay for my meal.

I had noticed a group of four uniformed officers arrive and sit not too far from our table. I had not paid further attention to them after they arrived. When I was ready to leave, I walked over to the table of officers and thanked them for my breakfast. They smiled but said nothing more.

Conclusion about this day: I think I am much more comfortable giving than receiving. I was very touched by the generosity of these four officers. I recognized two but the other two officers, I had never seen before. Having a son who is in law enforcement, I am well convinced that there are fine men and women in police uniforms around the country. We are blessed to have good officers here in Shelbyville as well. God bless and keep our law enforcement personnel safe this day!                              teh.
 
 


 

                         “Could it be spring?”

February 17, 2017

Day 169 of my retirement.                           

What a glorious day it was today. The morning was indeed cool. But with sunshine all morning and afternoon, the warm southwest air made for a quick warmup here on the farm. Our afternoon high temperature was seventy degrees!

I spent much of the day away from the farm doing several tasks that required an extended trip to Louisville for several needs including getting new glasses for driving after my cataract surgery last week. After returning from the city, I needed to put hay out for the cows. That chore resulted in my also working a bit in our cold frames in the garden behind the tool barn.

I still had not noticed what would be the highlight of this day. As I was returning to the house, some dots of color caught my attention. The purple and white was the plethora of crocus that now are in bloom in the shade garden near the kitchen door. But it was the other color, the bright lemon yellow that I had not expected to see this early in the spring. Could it be? I turned and walked toward the color in the special bed near the south door of our home. Yes, two March flowers or daffodils had opened their once tight buds and revealed a brilliant fresh blossom this afternoon. I then noticed that there were countless buds that had risen from their mulch setting. It will still be a few days before they make their presence known. But soon, very soon the garden will be filled with yellow, white and two toned blossoms of our dearly loved Daffodils. We have planted this bulb every year for many years. It is one of our favorite flowers in the garden. And it is the beginning of a six month or so parade of colors in our perennial garden. The daffodils will be followed by iris, day lilies, oriental lilies, chrysanthemums and perennial hibiscus. By then, frost will be on the pumpkins and everywhere else.

Conclusions about the day: By tradition, when the “March Flowers” begin to appear, spring time is not far away. But then for me, I consider March one the first day of spring! And that is just eleven days away!                                  tehype text here.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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My grandson on left.

  “Stick shift and memories made”

February 16, 2017

Day 168 of my retirement.                         

I was driving to Louisville this morning. I needed to get some new lenses in my glasses as I will be having surgery on my other eye next week. My existing glasses will soon be of no use for me. The eye that was operated on last week seems to have made a full recovery and my vision is almost perfect in that eye. I hope to have as good success next week with the other eye.

But after the eye surgery next week, I will still need glasses for driving only. My distant vision will need the aid of glasses. So as I was driving to the optical company for the drop off of glasses and prescription, I began to think about the time last summer when I taught my grandson how to drive a stick shift.

 He is seventeen years old and very smart. He had asked me several months before if I would give him such a lesson. Of course I said yes. My stick shift is fifteen years old. Too old to sell or trade. But it still runs very well and is generally in good shape. He did very well that day. In fact he drove home with little instruction by me. I expect we may need a refresher class someday. But that may be more about my spending time with him rather than his need for the lesson.

Conclusions about the day: An important activity that I cherish in retirement is my finding occasion to engage my grandchildren in some kind of shared time activity with them. I want my grandchildren to remember me when I am no more as one who wanted to spend time with his grandchildren. I also want them to see me as someone who challenged them to learn from me. I want to be remembered as benevolent/ teacher and “Pops”.

 
 
 
 

February 15, 2017

Day 167 of my retirement.  “Hot and Cold”

Today was a pretty day here on the farm. The sun was bright but the wind was chilly. I went outside this morning to get a few chores done with the sunshine inspiring me to go ill prepared for the cold breeze that was present. In fact, I turned around and went back inside so as to get warmer clothing so I might remain warm while working in the garden.

One of the projects I wanted to accomplish today was to prepare the place for the “cold frame”. A cold frame is a miniature green house that one uses to plant seeds early so as to have a longer growing season in the garden.

Cold frames can be quite simple or can be very sophisticated. The simplest cold frame can be no more than a few bales of straw arranged in a rectangle and covered with a piece of plastic. Or a frame can be several one by eights placed on their sides with an old glass window frame over the opening. I had this kind of frame for many years. This past Christmas my daughter and son-in-law constructed a very fine cold frame of treated lumber and a window frame placed at an angle so as to gibe from one to two feet growing space in the growing area. The whole principle is to create a small protected piece of ground that is warmed by the sunlight passing through the glass. This small parcel of earth is then able to promote the germination of seeds for tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, and even a little lettuce and radishes.

My goal is to get the cold frame planted by mid-February and have tomato plants ready to be transplanted by the first of April. It is always a bit of a guessing game as to when the actual garden ground can be plowed and prepared for planting. I have cleared the debris from the garden space but the ground is still far too wet for tractor and tiller. I will hopefully catch that day sometime in March.

Conclusions about this day: It was indeed a chilly day for preparing a cold frame. But the bright sunshine gave me promise for warm and even hot times ahead! For now I will settle for a parcel of ground about two feet by five feet and some seeds in ground that soon will be my February greenhouse!               teh

 
 
 

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More Crocus in the sun!

“A remarkable feat”

February 14, 2017

Day 166 of my retirement.           

I began Valentine’s Day today with my usual group of guy friends at the “Barrel” for breakfast and Bible study. This is a group that has met weekly for ten years or longer. Some new additions and some who like me have been present for many years.

We meet at the ungodly hour of 6 AM, just as the Barrel opens! We study a book of the Bible from beginning to end of that book. We take the book a chapter a week led by one of the group members who is enlisted for that chapter at the beginning of that study. We have covered many books of the Bible over the years. Included in our studies were the book of Psalms which took 2½ years and the book of Job that took about one year.

Today we are in 2 Samuel, the fifteenth chapter. Admittedly a bit of a strange chapter to study on Valentine’s Day. But as we went around the table sharing blessings on this day, a theme began to unfurl. The theme was gratitude for significant others who have been part of our lives over the years. As our group of ten disclosed, we as a group have been married more than 360 years! The shortest marriage was 19 years while the longest was 52 years.  Seven of those present have been married 47 years or longer!

We reminded each other to be sure and get a Valentine card for their special “sweetie”. We did not seem so much into flowers. But there was an interest in chocolates. We may need to do a focus study someday on that issue!

Conclusion about this day: Long marriages have not fallen out of interest and pleasure. Even in an era where more than fifty percent of women in the US today are single, our men’s group enjoys marriages that have endured for greater than 35 year average. I consider that a remarkable feat! But let me say, marriages that have not just endured, but thrived! Happy Valentine’s Day all!

 
 

February 13, 2017

Day165 of my retirement.                            “First meetings”

I live out in the country. I have lived here many years. Over the years, you learn certain principles of being a good neighbor to those who live around you. Those principles, in no certain order are as follows:

a.        Keep good fences between your property and your neighbor.

b.      If an ambulance/ fire engine go down the road with lights and sirens you find out if it involves a neighbor.

c.       Offer to help neighbor when their equipment breaks and rain is coming.

d.      If your cattle or bull go roaming in a neighbor’s field, offer to pay damages.

e.      When a new neighbor moves in, you stop and introduce yourself.

 

This last principle I attempted to do today. A new neighbor is working on land to build a new house. I saw the bulldozer working in the field. I drove my UTV over to say hello. I lost track of the bulldozer as I drove down the long access road. I could not find the person working there. I turned around and started back home when I saw the man and his equipment. He was walking toward me. I stopped and turned off my engine. He asked what I was doing there. I realized suddenly, the man did not want me there. I apologized and introduced myself to this stranger. Over the next fifteen minutes or so, I learned that this man was the new owner. And that he had been victimized twice or more since purchasing the land. One of those occasions, someone stole 140 gallons of fuel from a gas tank nearby. He admitted to being distrustful and concerned when a stranger drives on his property.

Over the time we spoke, he became much more satisfied that I was a safe person. We spoke about his children and my grandchildren who live close by. We spoke of how the children might play together some day. We shook hands and I departed.

Conclusion about the day: With new friends, we do not always know their full story. Their initial reluctance to engage us may have good reason we do not know or understand. If we are fortunate, we will eventually understand the rest of that story. Today I was fortunate with my new neighbor.     teh

               

 

 
 
 
 

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Crocus in my yard

 “Things do not always go as desired.”

February 12, 2017

Day 164 of my retirement.                                          

Today was another lovely late winter/early spring day. It was just too nice to not spend much of the afternoon out of doors. I had several projects I wanted to do today. As it was warm enough to not require a jacket, I set about the continued work of clearing flower beds.

I have several clumps of very tall ornamental grasses. The best way to trim them is with a chain saw! You may laugh but I have found that I can trim a two foot clump in five seconds with the chain saw. It takes twenty minutes to trim that same size clump with hand clippers.

So, after completing the ornamental grass clipping, I turned my attention to a relatively small ash tree on the edge of my wood fenced garden. The ash is about twenty years old and stands maybe twenty feet tall. I liked the tree till I discovered the telltale evidence that it too had been attacked by the “Purple Ash Borer”.

I took my chain saw and set about to notch the tree in such a way that it would fall into the yard on the grass. The plan was for the tree to fall away from the board fence. The plan did not work out. The tree fell right across the board fence breaking the top board in the process. Oh well! I proceeded to cut the fallen tree into small blocks that will fit in our wood stove in the basement. Then I set about to find a board to replace the now-broken board in the fence. And luck prevailed as I found a new board in the barn that will fit almost exactly!

Conclusion about the day: Things do not always go as they were planned or desired. Case in point. A tree falls exactly the opposite as it was planned. My plans do not always work out as I had hoped for. But with a bit of planning and ingenuity, that fence will be good as new --- tomorrow!                     teh
 
 
 
 
 

February 11, 2017

Day 163 of my retirement.                           “An unusual mixed up day”

Saturdays were once a very special day when I worked five days a week full time. It was the day I focused upon as one of two days I had free to do whatever I wished to do. Since I attend church on Sunday, Saturday was a full twenty four hours for non-work activities. Except living on the farm, there is always work to be done on Saturdays here on the farm.

Since I am now retired, Saturdays do not have the same urgency to get all the projects of the week done. Today, I began my day with a weekly Gideon meeting at the “Barrel”. I hurried home to prepare breakfast for my wife and myself. Then after doing dishes, we both got dressed in order to travel to Lexington for a funeral visitation. We returned home and I went to help my son-in-law finish a poultry expansion on his farm. After completing what he planned to do today, I hurried to get out the tractor and haul hay to our cows.

After completing that work, I stopped at my Son’s barn and visited briefly with my son and daughter-in-law. They were building cabinets to go in a closet. After a nice chat with the two of them, I came home. Before dark set in on this cloudy afternoon, I decided to walk out into the garden and orchard. The sounds of the birds singing and the ripe smell of the feedlot behind my orchard gave me clear reminders of the changing season all around. Spring is near at hand. Though the breeze is cool, the day remains comfortable. The spring flowers are coming out of the ground everywhere. The birds believe it is spring. I hope they are right.

Tomorrow is God’s day. I will rejoice in that day of rest. I will rest indeed!

Conclusion about the day: It was a good and busy day. A lot was done and a lot more needs to be done----another day. Tonight I will rest. Tonight I am able to read and write with my right eye without glasses for the first time in a very long time. God is good!                                           teh

 
 
 

February 10, 2017

Day 162 of my retirement.                                           “An Impatient Patient”

I had cataract surgery on my right eye yesterday. The procedure itself was mostly uneventful and involved a minimum of pain or discomfort.

I went to bed last evening with blurred vision in the affected eye but hopeful it would be much improved today. I had hoped my vision would clear and my sight might be as good as it once was before I had to begin wearing glasses more than thirty years ago. I awakened this morning and immediately thought my surgically treated eye was worse today. Then I realized I had worn a plastic cover over my eye last night to protect the eye. I still had the cover on this AM as I tried to read the alarm clock. I removed the tape and plastic lens. My sight was better than last night but not as I had hoped.

Today I administered eye drops throughout the day as instructed. No pain. No discomfort. But just not clear vision. This afternoon I had a scheduled follow-up appointment with my ophthalmologist for his checking of my eye. I was in the office maybe ten minutes. The doctor examined my eye under a kind of microscope. He said all looked OK except for a little swelling. He told me that should abate over the next couple days. I was told to return again in five days to be examined again. And the appointment was over.

Conclusion about the day: Overall, I think I am a good patient. I try to follow the doctor’s instructions. Maybe I was a bit overzealous in my expectations about my eye in twenty four hours. As I type this posting, I am aware that my vision in my right eye allows me to type without any glasses. My right eye is clearer than my left eye without glasses. Hopefully, tomorrow I will see further improvement!               teh

 
 

February 9, 2017

Day 161 of my retirement.                 “Cutting to a Better View”

My optometrist mentioned to me several years ago that she was beginning to see evidence of cataracts forming in one of my eyes. I know cataracts are not some strange eye disease but rather a side effect of natural aging.

According to Wikipedia,” a cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms may include faded colors, blurry vision, and halos around light, trouble with bright lights, and trouble seeing at night. This may result in trouble driving, reading, or recognizing faces. Poor vision caused by cataracts may also result in an increased risk of falling and depression”.

For me, night driving was my indicator that my vision was changing enough that my wife asked me a couple months ago to voluntarily stop driving at night. This is because I might face an oncoming vehicle and be momentarily blinded by the aura around the oncoming vehicle’s headlights. I had told her of this experience on more than one occasion. I reluctantly agreed to her request to stop driving at night. I was not happy with this concession. Every time we went anywhere after dark, I knew that I would not be driving.

No big deal? Well, it should not be a big deal. But I suppose it becomes a bigger deal just because there is something I routinely do that now I cannot or should not do.

Today at seven o’clock in the morning I arrived, as driven by my wife, at the outpatient surgical center in Louisville for the cataract removal in my right eye. I will have my left eye done in two weeks. It was a simple procedure. The discomfort was minimal. The whole process from arrival to return to my car was two and a half hours. At least one half of that time was waiting.

Conclusions about the day: This afternoon, my vision in my right eye remains blurred. I was told to expect that for today. I have follow up appointment with my ophthalmologist/surgeon tomorrow. I expect my vision to be improved by then. As part of retirement, I will maintain a closer focus on my health and wellbeing. My body is not young any more. That means I will take the best care I can to insure I am able to do all that I hope and want to do every day. Today was the beginning of repair to my vision. With photography, travel, writing and reading as part of my retirement plans, I need my eyes to remain clear and sharp.          teh

 
 

 February 8, 2017

Day 160 of my retirement.                           “A Man and His Career”

It has been at times an uncertain journey over these past 160 days. Any journey of which you have not traveled before can contain unexpected curves and dips along this new path called retirement. There can even be dangerously slick spots where you may least expect to slip up and tumble off the retirement path. Though I do not call myself an expert on retirement, I did do extensive reading and research before I launched out on this retirement path.

Today, I had a regular doctor’s appointment with a physician I have come to know rather well over the many years I have seen him. I feel, as does he, very comfortable talking about my life both before retirement as well as after retirement. In the past year he too has begun to speak about his plans for retirement. This disclosure has allowed me to share a bit of my retirement journey with him. I have spoken about the importance of having a plan beyond retirement. Also I have talked about having goals to continue to pursue.  He spoke of his “bucket list” and I shared from my “list” as well.

It is quite clear that men tie far more of their identity to their careers than do women. I am convinced that women are much better equipped to face retirement than some men I know. Men think of themselves often in terms of what they do or did. Women define themselves in terms of relationships as well as careers.

Conclusion about the day: As a man approaching being retired six months, I continue to see the many obstacles along the retirement road. But I think I am getting better seeing myself as more than one who quit a career and sat down. I continue to remain active. And part of that being active is volunteering as a “guide “to other men who are beginning their own personal journey down that retirement road.               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Today's crocus sighting.

“Could it be Spring?”

February 7, 2017

Day 159 of my retirement.                           

I was out in the garden and orchard between showers. The ground was soft and spongy beneath my feet. I was looking for the early green shoots of daffodils or March Flowers as they are known by some. As I walked past the old Double Cola thermometer on the barn wall, I noted that the afternoon reading was sixty one degrees. That thermometer has counted many days’ temperatures and is usually quite reliable.

I thought to myself that today is a bit unusual for this time of year with the rain earlier today that included thunder. The warm breeze out of the southwest caused me to think of early spring in Kentucky. I wondered if any spring flowers, either the yellow daffodil or purple crocus might be showing a bit of color. I began to examine the flower beds more carefully in order to determine the “early riser” and colors of springtime.

I found lots of daffodils which had risen in the flower mulch to a height of two to four inches. I actually was able to discern some flower spikes in the daffodil beds but still weeks from their yellow blossoms being fully open. I pictured in my thoughts the beds filled with yellow blossoms swaying gently in the sun-lit springtime breeze. The birds are singing and the low hanging clouds moving quickly above my down gazing head.

There it is! Right near the edge of the flower bed by the spot where I park the farm truck. Nestled there in the leaf mulch surrounded with the remains of last autumn’s sweet gum balls from the large tree standing overhead. Standing just an inch or so tall was a bright purple trumpet shaped blossom filled with golden sepals we recognize as a tender crocus blossom. The first flower of springtime 2017!

Conclusion about the day: The forecast for tomorrow is falling temperatures and the possibility of snow showers on Thursday. No, spring is not likely here to stay in our neighborhood. But today is definitely a pleasant preview of spring time that will be here in two to three weeks. I choose springtime as one of my two favorite seasons of the year. P.S. I found another purple blossom before being chased into the house by another spring shower. Ah, February in Kentucky! teh

 
 
 
 
 

February 6, 2017

Day 158 of my retirement.                                           “One Nation with Many Faces”

In the past month, much has been said about immigrants being allowed to continue entering the US while others have held out for more vetting of persons coming from certain Middle East nations. We have seen the increase in terrorism here in the US. As Americans, there is a belief that terrorism always originates by a foreign national who has somehow illegally made their way into our nation just for the purpose of killing as many Americans as they can. When we read carefully the details of terrorism here in our country, the threat does not always originate from persons from foreign nations. Many of the terrorist attacks originate by persons who are Native Americans.

Today I drove my wife to the public library in Middletown. As she did not plan to be there long in the library, I chose to sit in our car while she went inside. I was parked in a spot where I was looking at persons entering and exiting the library. Then it struck me! As I sat there in the five to ten minutes I noted the diversity of cultures represented by persons exiting a public library in Middle America. White Anglos, black Americans, Hispanic females, Asian male and female. All these diverse citizens in that short time.

Conclusion about the day: We as America, have many faces. We represent the four corners of the world. What makes our nation great is our ability to include those persons from other countries and make them citizens of our nation. America is not white, black, or yellow. We are the sum total of all nationalities of persons who choose to become citizens of this nation. So, what do I conclude about terrorism? Terrorism will always be a threat. But I still endorse the inclusion of people from other countries when they want to become citizens of this nation. I too am an immigrant from Europe. My family came to New Jersey from Ireland--------- in 1756. Most Americans are immigrants. May God bless our country and all our immigrants?   teh

 
 
 
 

February 5, 2017

Day 157 of my retirement.                           “A Farmer’s Definition of Hope”

I’m not sure I am qualified to call myself a farmer. The truth is I live on a family farm that has been in my family since 1864. My great grandfather bought the farm at the courthouse steps here in Shelby County during a Master Commissioner’s sale after the previous owner could not pay his taxes. This was in the last year of the “War of Northern Aggression” or as some folks calls it, “The Civil War”.

My family has lived on the farm since then. My ancestors sold portions of the farm reducing the property size from 320 acres down to the current 89 acres. My son and his family also live on this land. I have grown corn, soybeans, tobacco and livestock on this good land. Today I decided to burn the ground where we traditionally grow our garden. This is an old tradition in our family. By burning the ground where we will plant our garden, we are killing some of the weed seeds that are present from the past year’s weed growth. By burning the plant residue, we add a small amount of lime into the soil.

I found myself thinking as I worked in the sunshine of late winter; one must have a certain amount of hope to be preparing for a garden that is at least six weeks away from planting. And at least four months away from harvested spring crops. Hope? Or call it cockeyed optimism! We will have more snow and cold weather before we have anything to eat from the garden. But today, I felt hopeful that we will plant and harvest a garden that will afford us some fresh vegetables later this year.

Conclusion about the day: Webster defines hope as “the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen: a feeling that something good will happen or be true.” I believe God gave the country farmer an extra dose of hope. Otherwise, the farmer would lose the confidence to begin preparing the soil two months before planting and a full four months before the first harvest of the season. Thank you God for giving us hope!               teh

 
 

February 4, 2017

Day 156 of my retirement.                           “Which is better?”

Today, after a meeting with a group of guys at the “Barrel”, one friend and I remained a while longer. We continued to speak after all the rest had left. Our chat was about a variety of topics. Finally, we came to a topic we spoke about for several minutes. We spoke of the blessing of both of us having enjoyed a successful career in our chosen fields.

Then the question arose. What was the reason for success in our careers? We both spoke of the value of doing a job well done. We both spoke about having a will to do things right regardless of the monetary compensation.

Our discussion then turned to an interesting theme. That theme was the question of which was a greater motivator in our lives. Is it a good income or is it good friends? Does a good salary give more pleasure or does having good friends give greater meaning in life?

I am reasonably certain that the question does not have a universal answer. My answer was quick and certain. For me, having good friends has far greater value. I do recognize that having substantial income often leads to many friends. But I am unsure as to the quality of all those friendships that are based on my checkbook. Good friends do not take into account how much money we have. They accept me for who I am, not what I own. My friend and I found full agreement on that subject!

Conclusion about the day: Good friends are of greater value than silver or gold! I think I have read that somewhere before!

 
 
 

February 3, 2017

Day 155 of my retirement.                           “Company for Dinner”

My wife is quite an excellent cook. Throughout the forty plus years we have been married, she has been an excellent cook making far too many special meals for me to recount the number. It is a bit funny that my wife tells me that when we married, she did not think herself a very good cook. She said that she actually did not cook that much before we married. I’m not sure I believe that completely as she always has been a good cook for me.

We came to an agreement early in our marriage. I agreed to cook breakfast and she would cook the evening meal. Usually the lunch meal was eaten out so neither of us had to prepare that meal. I enjoy cooking breakfast and have enough different meals that I prepare so we do not have the same breakfast twice in the same week.

Tonight, we were preparing to eat at home. My wife was fixing a Mexican dish she has prepared before. It is a dish we both like. Our daughter called and asked what we were doing for dinner tonight. That conversation led to my wife inviting our daughter’s family to dinner tonight. I was impressed how my wife converted a simple dinner for two into a dinner for six in less than thirty minutes. I do not know how she pulled it off. But the meal was outstanding!

Conclusion about the day:  My wife is a very fine cook. But in addition to being a good cook, she is also a bit of a magician. It took magic for her to transition a dinner for two into a dinner for six in less than thirty minutes. And it was a dinner that seemed enjoyed by all.                                teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Brayden watching cartoons            “Brayden’s Day at Meme’s House”

February 2, 2017

Day 154 of my retirement.                         

We are blessed that all our grandchildren live nearby. They live close enough that we can see them usually at least once a month. Our two youngest grandchildren are able to visit weekly. Our youngest grandchild, Brayden is at our house twice a week. Today was one of those special days when he was here to spend the day with us.

Brayden is three years old. His vocabulary far exceeds the norm for a three year old. His conversation skills are that of a much older child. I expect that is partly due to his close relationship with his older sister who also has an exceptional vocabulary. It is a wonder what Brayden will talk with you about. He is filled with questions that go beyond the “why’ and “how” that he often poses to me.

We do not allow the TV to be turned on very often when he is here at our house. We try to engage him in other activities when he is here. But he does LOVE some of the Disney cartoons that are run in the mornings. He can sit for thirty minutes and hardly move as he is “laser-focused” on the cartoon show. Fortunately, when he is told that it is time to turn off the TV, he is usually ready to move on to other things.

Conclusion about the day: It seems it was only yesterday when our first grandchild came into our family. But it was more than seventeen years ago. Now our last grandchild is three years old. How quickly the time has passed. I must hold on to each day we get to spend with any grandchild. Too soon they will be grown and living a life beyond our reach and influence.itle

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Photo on my last day working

 “A brief visit to my past”

February 1, 2017

Day 153 of my retirement .                                          

Yesterday, I stopped at the office where I spent the last days of my practice here in Shelbyville. I stopped by to pick up my 1099 tax form and to get a small check for receipts from client services paid since the first of the year.

I still have a key to the staff entrance. I entered through that door. I was surprised when Susan, the office manager called out my name even before she could see me. As I entered, I inquired as to how she knew it was me. She said she had seen my car pull into the parking lot. We visited briefly and she caught me up on office business as well as the tax form I had come to get. I got my small paycheck and was preparing to leave. Then she mentioned a new clinical staff member who had joined and was present today. She asked if I would like to meet this person. I said yes. In the course of meeting this person, I had the opportunity to greet two other staff whom I have known for many years.

It was a pleasant serendipitous reunion with colleagues who I also consider friends. My brief stop turned into about an hour visit. I felt welcomed and capable of other drop-ins in the future. They say you cannot return home again. The Whitten Psychological Services office is not home but it is a place of warm greeting even after more than five months of being away.

Conclusions about the day: It is always nice to go back and reconnect with friends from our past. And it is a special experience when old friends make you feel welcome for no real reason at all! teh

 
 
 
 
 

January 31, 2017

Day 152 of my retirement.                           “Finding Good in Usual Places”

My friend Joe and I were having an interesting conversation at the Barrel today about people we encounter who might not always be persons we would choose for friends. We discussed the changing attitudes of what makes someone likeable and what causes us to withhold our favor for still other persons. If we are to be honest, we tend to feel more comfortable with persons who tend to be more like ourselves with similar values and behaviors!

Joe told me about an acquaintance that, though not a person of financial means had a heart for helping others, especially children. He told of how this person would give generous amounts of candy and sweets at Halloween to children on the street. We spoke of how one might see Jesus in people who were not necessarily the same people we would expect to see in a church on a Sunday morning. We can see Jesus in the lives of people that some churches would feel uncomfortable inviting that person to worship in a house dedicated to God!

Conclusion about the day: We are all sin-filled people. We all need the power of Christ’s redeeming blood. We all do not deserve what God offers to cleanse us from our sin. But how blessed we are that God loves us anyhow. Even when we are dirty, smelly and self-focused. Only a loving God can love us when we are like filthy rags.  teh

 
 
 
 

January 30, 2017

Day 151 of my retirement.                           “The Return of the Snowbirds!”

Several members of my Bible Study Class have departed or are departing this week for the sunny south. I confess I feel a degree of envy as they make way to Florida and regions there about for the remainder of the winter season while I embrace the cold here in Kentucky another month or two.

This afternoon, I made my quarter mile walk to the mailbox and back again. The air was chilly but the sky bright with broken clouds and a persistent sun peeking from around those white puffs drifting from west to east. My observation of the skies was interrupted by a large congregation of gray birds with a rusty chest of feathers that immediately reminded me of their migratorial return. The faithful “Turdus Migratorius”, or as we better know them as Robins!

These birds seem to find their way north around the beginning of February each year. When I see one Robin, I can usually see twenty of these harbingers of spring time. Today, I counted more than twenty birds and then gave up as there were too many to adequately count. They were both high and low in the yard and along the field fence between me and the distant road.

Between now and early April, these social birds will take up residence around our bird feeding station. They will soon begin the construction of multiple nests and bird residences not far away in the garden and orchard. They will be opportunist to catch the early worm and the dropped sunflower seed from one of the bird feeders.

Conclusion about the day:  As my two legged friends begin their southern travel here in the winter months; my two winged bird friends are taking up residence here in the yard. They will remain nearby until my Florida travelers have returned to their old Kentucky home!  teh

 
 
 
 

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Almost sundown in midwinter 2017

“Midwinter”

January 29, 2017

Day 150 of my retirement.

 

 

The long notorious winter will distend her legs further out 
Before long will arrive the snow and ice on bleak afternoons 
O Winter the season that I am partial to for its obscure skies 
As we veer around the far side of the sun in midwinter light
 . (Dale Tice)

For those who know me well, you are well aware that my favorite season of the year is that bright clear weeks of September and October we refer to as autumn. My next favorite season is the weeks of mid-March through early May we call springtime in Kentucky. The remaining summer months of late May through August, I tolerate as the sunshine and heat forces the passage of time.

The final season, winter is a slow movement of season accentuated by unexpected depths of fresh snow between weeks of mud and gray skies. Yet occasionally, a bright clear, or nearly so, day reminds us that even winter can offer a respite of beauty in the monochromatic weather of late January. This was true on Saturday, January 28, 2017 here in Shelby County KY.

The attached photo image was shot on our family farm in late afternoon looking northeast towards Hempridge KY. The sun was about an hour from setting. The shadows were growing long.

Conclusions about the day: I must take care to not wish away the seasons of the year as if there is a limitless array of seasons within my watch. I must not waste the precious moments I can still enjoy!               teh

 
 
 
 

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Early daffodils!

 “Hope Springs Eternal”

January 28, 2017

Day 149 of my retirement.                                          

Today is what I call an “in-between day”.  In between in that it was a winter day with much sunshine and the temperature was not that cold. A day that falls in between winter and spring.

I was out feeding the cows this afternoon. The ground around their feeder is a swamp of muddy ground well beaten down by the cattle walking around the feeder and trough when the ground was wet and muddy. The cows seem unaffected by the mud as they push and nudge to get to the grain and sweet feed I put out in addition to the large hay rolls on a regular basis this time of year. These feeding chores are made easier today as it is warm enough that I do not have to break the ice on the pond where they get water.

After finishing with the feeding of the stock and returning the tractor to the barn, I noted along the path to the house fresh green shoots of “March flowers” that had broken through the frozen ground and pushed through the leaf mulch. The green shoots stood maybe four or five inches tall. No flower buds but the green shoots that in three to four weeks will give rise to those classical yellow daffodils waving in the warm spring breezes here in Shelby County. That familiar lemony fragrance that says spring has returned to Kentucky! Ah yes, I will not rush too quickly to fast forward to spring time! But those tender green shoots give me hope that spring is not that far away.

Conclusions about the day: We are technically in mid-winter. Spring on the calendar is still at least five weeks away. But on this sunny afternoon, with daffodils poking through the winter mulch, I can begin to think about warmer days and the fragrance of the early spring flowers such as the crocus, hellebores, daffodils and Iris! Ah spring! Ah-Choo!!     teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

January 27, 2017

Day 148 of my retirement.                           “What a Difference a Day Makes”

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.( William Blake)

I have battled a capable enemy all week. My enemy is called simply “the flu”. My enemy arrives Sunday evening, January 22 when I first realized that I was running a fever. All week long this adversary has accompanied me everywhere I traveled. And truth be known, except for MD visit and trips to the pharmacy, I have traveled little at all.

I tend to be an optimist about life and illness. My MD told me on Monday that I should be feeling better by Thursday. I committed that statement to memory and counted the coughing and sneezing hours till Thursday arrived. When that day came, I truthfully did not feel much better than the day before. I had faithfully taken my prescribed medication daily. My symptoms seemed worse each evening when I prepared for what seemed to be illusive sleep. My coughing prevented my falling or staying asleep.

Last night I took my prescribed medications and went to bed around eleven PM. I was up fifteen minutes later coughing and unable to find a position where I did not have that familiar tickling in my throat. I moved to the recliner in the family room and attempted to rest while sleeping sitting up. My cough continued till twelve fifteen AM this morning.

At that point I made the decision to do that which I had refused to do previously. In the back of the medicine cabinet was an old bottle of cough syrup with codeine which I had labeled to not use unless it an emergency. (You see, the last time I took this cough syrup, instead of making me drowsy, it wired me for that night and I got no sleep at all. I intentionally took the two teaspoons as labeled on the bottle. I went back to my bed and in ten or fifteen minutes, I was asleep. Asleep for eight hours that is! And today the bells are ringing and I feel much improved!

Conclusion about the day: Sometimes I just must be a risk taker. I understand that restful sleep can help with the healing process when nothing else seems to work. My sleep last night has given me renewed hope that my enemy (the flu) will soon have departed my existence. It will not be too soon!               teh

 
 
 
 

January 26, 2017

Day 147 of my retirement.                                           “Good Friends”

It has been said that it is not unusual for men to have some kind of a health crisis within six months of their retirement. I had not given that any thought until yesterday. As I was contemplating the fact that I will soon have been retired five months, I wondered if this bout with the flu is my part of a health crisis within six months of retiring. I do not know nor can I say with certainty that the flu would truly be considered a health crisis. But this has been a rough week and my symptoms have not all departed.

This morning, I was sitting in my family room reading I heard a noise in my driveway outside my family room. My wife had gone to stay with our grandchildren for the day. Since I was home alone I went to the window and saw a pickup truck I recognized. I had to think for a moment as to where or who it belonged to. As I was thinking, I heard footsteps on my deck coming towards my door. I went and opened my door. There I was met by one of my Bible study friends. He was carrying a bag of cough drops and a couple books. He did not seem interested in coming in or staying long. I confirmed that I was diagnosed with the flu. He said the books were on loan to me while I was laid up. He said the cough drops might come in handy while I was recovering. Then he wished me a speedy recovery and turned to leave. I thanked him as he departed off the deck.

Conclusion about the day; Good friends are welcome any time even when they come without any forewarning. It was good to see this friend taking the time to stop by and look in on me. I will not forget this fine act of kindness.               teh

 

January 25, 2017

Day 146 of my retirement.                           “Gray Divorce”

I read an article today about a subject that is not spoken so much about today. The article was entitled “Gray Divorce” and was published in the Baptist Press (January 25, 2016). The article addressed the dramatic rise in divorce among adults over the age of fifty years. The article also discussed the rise in sexually transmitted diseases in this same age group. Between 1990 and 2010 the divorce rate for Americans age 50-64 increased from 6.9 to 13.1 divorced persons per 1000 married persons. In 1990 fewer than 1 in 10 divorced persons were over the age of 50. The article goes on to say that today more than 1 in 4 divorcees are over 50!

Most of my close friends are over the age of fifty tears. Most of those friends are married to a spouse of more than twenty years. Many are now or soon will celebrate fifty year anniversaries. A myth for those persons over the age of fifty years is that the marriage will be OK. You have security in the long relationship and you can stop working on the marriage. These hard facts seem to say that is just not true! You must continue to work on the marriage just like your home. If you stop repairs, painting, redecorating the house, it begins to show wear and troubles soon follow. The same can be said for the long marriage. Leaving it alone will lead to some kind of a crisis eventually.

Conclusion about the day: I have been blessed by a marital union of almost forty nine years. I cannot become complacent and quit trying to work to make it better. After all, who wants to become one of those gray divorce statistics?          teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

January 24, 2017

Day 145 of my retirement.                                           “Good Medicine”

Today I continue my battle with symptoms that are classified as “the Flu”. As I am not fully recovered yet, my posting tonight will be brief. I began a regimen of drugs prescribed by my Physician for the flu yesterday. It is difficult to fully assess what response I may be having to the “Tamiflu” capsules. We all read about the placebo effect with any medication that is prescribed by an MD. But none-the-less, I do feel a bit better this evening.

Today I have been the recipient of numerous calls, e-mails and text messages from family and friends asking about my health and offering words of encouragement. Both of my children contacted me today. Several of my bible study companions sent me text or made calls as well. When I consider the reason for feeling some better tonight, I think it may be the concern expressed today by family and friends.

Conclusions about the day: People reaching out to you when you are ill is truly good medicine. And I received a powerful dose of good medicine from my friends today! teh


January 23, 2017

Day 144 of my retirement.                                           “The Flu!”

Warning reading this writing may expose you to whatever strain of influenza that is going around!

Last evening as I was settling down for the evening I experienced what in the past indicated a rising in my body temperature. It was accompanied by some vague muscle aches and a cough that had been around since yesterday morning. I took my temperature and found that I did have a slight fever. I did not think too much about it till I was ready to retire in bed. I took cough syrup and a couple Tylenol. I fell asleep. Then two hours later I awakened feeling much worse.

Deciding not to put my wife at greater risk I arose from my bed and went to the family room at the other end of the house and resumed my rest in a recliner I have slept in before when feeling poorly. I remained there the remainder of the night. I awakened several times but returned to sleep. Finally I arose at seven thirty and dressed myself. I went to my primary care doctor’s office and was seen as a walk in. I was seen in one hour. Not too bad for not having an appointment.

I was prescribed the usual medicines for the flu. I began taking immediately. I would like to say that I feel much better tonight. But that is an exaggeration. I feel no worse. My cough has abated but my fever hangs around.

Conclusion about the day: My doctor says I am contagious for three or four days. I need to stay at home, drink liquids and rest. And stay away from family and friends. That is the worse part. Isolating self from all people. Oh well, maybe I will catch up on some reading!          teh

 

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Son in law's birthday

 

January 22, 2017

Day 143 of my retirement.                           “My Son-in Law’s Birthday”

I do not generally enjoy my birthday. I am not sure as to why. I think I may feel a bit of attention of which I am not always comfortable with. And with my birthday only three days from Christmas, my day usually gets lost somehow in the Christmas rush.

I recall as a teen ager going with my parents and uncle to visit some extended family members around Salvisa KY. It was in the spring time. These family members lived a bit of a reclusive life. Their home was on the banks of the Kentucky River. I recall the house being dark and the only sounds other than the conversation was the sounds of a large “Regulator” clock hanging on the wall above the fireplace which was emanating the only warmth on this chilly day. One piece of conversation I recall was from an uncle “George” who noted that particular day to being his birthday. He said, “Well, I guess I eat my cornbread just the same (On his birthday)! I thought what a sad commentary on his life and a day that should in some way be special!

We celebrated my son in law’s birthday with more than cornbread! My wife made her special pasta dish along with a fine spring mix salad. And my daughter made her special banana pudding that both my son in law and I enjoy immensely. We gave him a couple gifts he had put out hints for after Christmas. (Carhart barn jacket and fleece lined vest). And all seemed to have a fine time, including grandchildren.

Conclusions about the day: I definitely enjoy other family member’s birthdays more than I enjoy my own. I enjoy giving gifts and I enjoy the expression on their faces as they discover what they have received. My birthday is eleven months away. I have plenty of time to prepare for it!  teh

 

 January 21, 2017

Day 142 of my retirement.                           “Words and Phrases Lost But Not Forgotten”

I was engaged in self-talk today. Talking in my head but saying nothing out loud. I was thinking about my wife and how almost forty nine years into our marriage, she can be like my mother. Yes, I know, it’s the old saying about wanting “a girl just like the girl that married dear old dad”!

What I said to myself about my mother and my wife is that my wife is almost a “carbon-copy” of my mother. Then the vague thought came to me. How many folks age 35 and below have ever heard the phrase “carbon- copy”?

When did we abandon the carbon between the waitress sheet and the copy that went to the kitchen? When did we stop using the page size carbon paper that allowed a copy of a document to be made while the original was in a typewriter? And who remembers a “typewriter”? And yes, what about a key punch, combination lock and a time card? Or a “Kodak (camera)?

I am sure there are many more words and phrases that are lost in the annuls of time. Words that have fallen out of usage and would get a questioning look from young people if we spoke those words today.

Conclusions about the day: The times, they are a changing! And I must change along with the times. Many changes bring us a better life and sometimes an easier life. Staying current with changes that go on around me is essential as a retired person. Being retired makes me need to be more aware of what is taking place both in terms of the electronic era as well as the spoken language. Being retired does not mean being out of touch!                                            teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

January 20, 2017

Day 141 of my retirement.                           “What’s in a Word”?

Today is Inauguration day of our forty fifth President, Donald John Trump. I watched the “Pomp and Circumstance” while eating my lunch. I was less than enthused about all the pageantry. We presently are a highly divided nation. I do not expect that to change very much regardless who is in control of our government.

I listened to what Mr. Trump said in his address. I found his pledges and promises to be minimally encouraging to me about the future of our government over the next four years. I did not hear any efforts made in attempting to join both sides of the aisle of our Federal branches of government. The truth is, as I see it that has not happened in the last quarter of a century in Washington DC. And no, I do not see it happening here on the home front in Frankfort. The two leading flag bearers of our two major political parties seem to make the news every few days with some sniper shot at the other over some cause or another.

I wonder why people choose politics as a career. Even the most optimists of persons must realize how unlikely it seems these days to bring about some semblance of cooperation between parties at state or national levels. The last time our nation appeared united was the days following 9/11. That rare air seemed present only briefly when our political cronies locked arms and sang “God Bless America” on the west steps of our US Capitol. Yes, and in three weeks, we seemed back to party loyalties.

Conclusion about the day: I am taught by the Holy Scriptures to pray for those elected leaders of our nation. I will pray for Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence. I will pray that they succeed in their elected roles of leading our nation. I will pray for their families. And I will pray for our armed forces who act upon the orders of our leaders. I will pray that GOD will not turn His back on this sinful nation. I will pray that we as a nation will return to being a God-fearing people who pray openly and in the school classroom. And lastly, I will pray that I will be faithful to lead my own household to honor the name of God wherever I go and with whomever I am associated with. So help me GOD!     teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A glimpse of sunlight on 1-19-2017            “The Winter Doldrums”

January 19, 2017

Day 140 of my retirement.                         

I have never had the privilege to sail on a ship of sails in the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. I have read novels about sailing ships that get caught in the oceans within five degrees either north or south of the equator and find there is a general absence of winds sometimes for days or weeks at a time. Before the diesel engine installation on ocean going ships, these doldrums could threaten the existence of the sailors  as food and water supplies ran low. Now we no longer depend on the wind currents to move our vessels on the water and take us from one location to another

Here on the farm, we seem to be experiencing our own form of the “Doldrums”.  The kind of doldrums we are experiencing are those of continual cloudy days with frequent showers. We experience the absence of sunlight which can cause a condition known as S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The response we have is that of sadness, loss of energy and depression.

We know when the sun appears, even briefly, we feel much better almost instantly. As I write this posting, the sun has broken the clouds and somehow I feel more energized. The prospect of rain later today leaves me feeling a sense that my mood may follow the cloudy weather back to a place of being de-energiced. But for the time the sun is shining, I will remain close to a window and allow the bright sun to warm my body and lift my spirits.

Conclusion about the day: Life is better when we are able to create our own sense of motion these winter days. Maintaining a daily schedule regardless of the weather can help with energy. Setting goals that are for “mastery” as well as “pleasure” can make our day more manageable. Mastery means doing something you are good or competent at while pleasure means doing something you genuinely enjoy. Keep the shades and curtains open on these days when there is any sunlight at all. Even a little sunlight can be helpful to all of us!               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Me, my grandchildren and my glasses.

 “I Can See (almost) Clearly Now!”

January 18, 2017

Day 139 of my retirement.                          

I do not recall exactly the day I went for my first appointment for my eye examination. I think it was about 1985 when I was having a major birthday that year. My vision had always been quite good. I never had any problems with reading even the smaller print.

Gradually, I began to notice changes in my vision. I seemed to squint more and noticed headaches that seemed to come on when I had spent a lot of time reading during the day. I went to a local ophthalmologist and told him I was having difficulty with my arms not being long enough to read some printed materials. He laughed and asks me how old I was? I told him that that year I was having a big birthday. He replied that I should understand that it was time for me to start wearing glasses.

I expected him to say that. I had prepared myself for his telling me that. Then he told me what I had not expected. He said I would be fitted for my first pair of glasses and the glasses would be “BIFOCALS”. My automatic thought was that bifocals were for old people. I did not consider myself old enough for bifocals at that time.

For the last thirty two years I have worn glasses every day. I have those little impressions on my nose where they have touched my face these many years. All the photos of me contain those various styles of glasses I have worn without too much thought about it. Well, all of that may be about to change.

Today I met with my Ophthalmologist in Middletown KY. I saw him about a month ago. It was then he told me that I have cataracts in both of my eyes. He told me I need surgery to remove those naturally growing obstacles to clear vision. Today my eyes were measured and the schedule was put in place for me to have surgery and the astigmatism be corrected. He told me I may not need glasses most of the time. He said my close-up vision will be such I only may need glasses for distant vision. Wow!

Conclusion about the day:  How amazing the field of medicine has progressed in my lifetime. Hearts, knees, hips, cancer. All these fields have made dramatic changes with much progress in only a few years. And eye disease as well. I am hopeful I can soon claim once more, “I can see clearly now”!               teh

 
 
 
 
 

January 17, 2017

Day 138 of my retirement.                           “Eggs, I Love Eggs”

My childhood was always linked to the farm. I spent much of my youth on the farm. At my house as well as that of both of my grandmothers, breakfast was an essential meal for those living and working on the farm.

One of my favorite memories of my early childhood was possibly in January 1952 the year when I lived on my grandmother’s farm in Green County KY. I was about seven years of age. I was expected to accompany my uncle Douglas to the barn before daylight each day. I was sent up into the hayloft with a kerosene lantern and carefully toss down hay to the cows and horses in their stalls below. It was not hard work but it was work I felt quite proud to do as a young child.

Our work was not completed till my Uncle Douglas has milked the three or four cows and turned them out of the barn for the day. This work would normally been completed by six o’clock AM. I can recall seeing the steam rising from the two gallon galvanized bucket as we carefully walked back to the house by the light of the single kerosene lantern. I would have been up before five AM and done these chores all before breakfast.

Arriving back at the house, we would enter the kitchen off the east side of the house having to navigate around the smokehouse and wood shed. I would without much thought pick up two or three blocks of firewood just the right size to place in the round sheet metal stove already glowing softly in the family room by the kitchen.

Grandmother would have overseen the breakfast preparation that day. The freshly baked homemade biscuits would seem to stand three inches tall, brown and fluffy. Home grown sausage from the meat house and milk gravy with flecks of red pepper harvested from the summer herb garden. But best of all were those fresh eggs. Eggs with yolks that was almost orange in color. These may well have been the eggs I helped Grandmother gather just yesterday as I carefully placed them in her ample apron as we brought the 8 to 10 eggs daily from the chicken house only a few steps from the house we all shared.

I liked fried, scrambled, poached, and hard boiled eggs. My favorite eggs were the scrambled eggs baptized in homemade ketchup. I still to this day love ketchup with my eggs.

Conclusion about the day: I arrived home late this evening from two meetings at my church. I did not have time for dinner till after 9 PM. My fall back favorite meal that late at night is, you guessed it, breakfast. Eggs, I still love eggs!               teh

 

 

January 16, 2016

Day 137 of my retirement.

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I have limited recollections of the day Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis Tennessee. April 4, 1968 was a day I was still in college. I heard the announcement on the radio that he had been shot. I somehow believed that he was only wounded and would not die.

In the course of about five years our nation experienced the death of an American President, a presidential candidate and Dr. King. Today we still speak about fire arms and the frequency of shootings both here in our state as well as around the country. Living on a farm, we have fire arms but they are used almost exclusively for critters that become a pest to ourselves or our stock. I recognize that people living in the city have firearms for the purpose of self-defense.

I have not formed a clear conclusion about firearms and the rights of people to own weapons. I have concluded that in my thinking, there is no place for assault weapons and ammunition that penetrates police officer safety vests. But that is just my opinion.

MLK day in 2017 was set as a day in which people were encouraged to help the needy and recall the intent of Dr. King to pursue non-violent strategies for equal rights. I think that is a good thing to do. Here on the farm, we feed the cattle and note the deep ruts in the mud due to the recent excessive rain of recent days.

Conclusion about the day: I need some sunshine! The winter blahs are sizeable even on a day of celebrating the work of a great civil rights giant of the 1960’s. Maybe tomorrow the sun will come out!               teh

 
 
 
 
 

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Pops with grandkids selfie on 1-15-2017

“Grandkids”

January 15, 2017

Day 136 of my retirement.                                           

 

Jeanie Rhodes once said “The most amazing thing about getting to be a grandparent is that the very kids you made so many mistakes with (may have, could have damaged irreparably) grow up and honor you by trusting you with their babies. Could there have been greater grace”? 

I have been greatly blessed by God’s gift to me and my wife of four grandchildren. My grandchildren range from a three year old in preschool all the way up to a seventeen year old senior in high school. Each grandchild is special in their own way. Each has gifts that make them capable of succeeding in their life in their unique way.

I love to have the opportunity to spend time with each of my grandchildren. I love to see how they are growing both physically and mentally. Their needs are different. But I think my role as grandfather is that of loving each child and letting them know how special they are to me.

Conclusions about the day: Grand parenting is a role that as a retired man I will have time to pursue. I look forward to that place in my life.          teh

 
 
 
 
 

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“A Long Drive in the Rain “

January 14, 2017

Day 135 of my retirement.                           

Last autumn we went through an extended period of time without adequate rain. I have believed that the weather usually averages out. Now we seem to be in a long period of “catch up rain” here in Shelby County. Today was another day that it rained most of the day.

Two weeks ago my son in law Chris and I took our two zero turn riding lawn mowers to the dealer where we purchased the mowers in southwest Louisville for the yearly winter service. The trip is about fifty miles one way and is located on US 31-W south of the Gene Snyder Freeway. We could go to a closer (Skag)dealer but we really like the folks at that store.

Today, Chris and I drove in the rain back to the dealer to pick up the mowers and bring them home. We hooked the sixteen foot trailer to our pickup truck and spent most of the morning making this round trip journey just the two of us.

I really enjoy the time alone with my son in law. It is male talking time. We talk about my daughter (Chris’ wife) and we talk about his life and his dreams. Recently when I saw the video of our President-elect and his man talk, I felt ashamed of such vulgar exchanges between two men. I do not believe normal male conversations must stoop to such a degradation of women. Our conversations never go to that kind of garbage.

Conclusion about the day: It is always a joy to spend a couple hours with my amazing son in law. He is a good man, a responsible friend and a fine husband to my daughter.                      teh

 

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January morning before the rain.

"An Afternoon at the Movies"

January 13, 2017

Day 134 of my retirement.  

Friday the thirteenth. Superstitious? I’m not so much. I think of it as just another Friday. Most Fridays, my wife and I pick up our own and our children’s trash and take it to the recycling center. It is about an hour project. We take the family farm truck and sometimes go on to Louisville afterwards for lunch or do some other projects.

Today, the rain made it an unpleasant day to do much of anything outside. So, after my wife and I made our run to the dump we decided to go to Jeffersontown and take in a movie, “Hidden Figures”, which I had heard a good report on by a friend who had seen the movie when first it came out.

The movie is a great story about three brilliant black women in the 1950-60s and their role with NASA. Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.

As a white male, I found myself truly embarrassed by how NASA treated these three brilliant black women in the age of segregation. Separate but equal! It is stunning to realize that when I was in middle school, these atrocities took place here in the US with people of color.

Anyway, the movie was well done and captured the wrong as well as the right in that time of the launching of the space race. A time in which that race had only two contestants and for a while, the US was in second place to the USSR.

Conclusions about the day: Going to the movies is a good pastime on a rainy winter day. My bride chose the back row of the theater just the way she did when we were teens! But now we must poke each other during the movie to stay awake!               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

 January 12, 2017

Day 133 of my retirement .                                 “Four speed Transmission lessons”

My grandson, Cameron is a senior at Shelby County High School. It seems only a short time ago. I met him for the first time at Norton Hospital in Louisville KY the day he was born. But those seventeen years have passed much too quickly. Now he stands on the crest of a great adventure as he considers what college he will choose to attend and potentially pursue a career in the field of medicine.

This summer, Cameron called me and asked me to fulfill a proposal I made to him some months ago. That proposal was that I teach him to drive a manual transmission auto. I have a Honda Accord that is a four speed stick shift.

I picked him up and we drove to Shelbyville and the church parking lot there which is quite large. There over the next ninety minutes, he became proficient starting and stopping the car without killing the engine. He also learned to stop and start on a hill again without killing the engine. Both he and I were quite proud of his achievement.

Then I had the thought about what other skill sets I might pass along to my grandchildren. What are skills that I take for granted that my grandchildren know nothing about? (That is a topic for another day).

Conclusions about the day: The transfer of knowledge from one generation to another is more than just the passing of knowledge. It is also that wonderful quality time we get to spend with that growing mind of a young person you love “to the moon and back”! We may be creating quality memories for our grandchildren they can retain long after we have passed on.     teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

January 11, 2017

Day 132 of my retirement.                           “The Sounds of Winter”

You might say that today was a strange day in winter. Actually today is day twenty of this winter season. But when you stepped outside, you must have wondered what kind of strange winter day this was. Rain, showers , clouds and the strong wind gusts.

I drove to Louisville today for a doctor’s appointment and a lunch date with an old friend from my days at The Norton Hospital. My drive to the city was a bit of an adventure as I gripped the steering wheel of my car coming and going. The wind was quite noticeable in my driving efforts.

Tonight as I sit in my office and enter this latest journal entry, I can still hear the restless winds outside my office window. My wind chimes on the deck and gate house nearby become a cacophony of sounds as the winds shake the bells and their attached pendulums. The winds rise and then settle only to arise again.

The winter’s warm breezes betray the true nature of this time of year. Only yesterday I walked through the frozen ground still covered in spots with the snowfall of a week before. I walked to the frozen pond with the giant steel tipped post to break the crust of the frozen pond so the cows could drink a bit of the icy waters. Today that ice is replaced by the mud and wet of the unusually warm reprieve this wind accompanies.

Sleep may be interrupted by the wind and my rustling wind chimes. But the weather will continue to hint for the next few days of a reprieve from winter. But soon the cold will return. Winter on the calendar is still another nine weeks more.

Conclusions about the day: Tomorrow, I must walk the fences and be certain that this windy day has not caused some dying ash tree to collapse on my good cattle fences built just a couple years ago. But tonight I sleep in the peace and calm of my bed with the sounds of wind chimes tinkling nearby.               teh

 
 
 
 
 

 

January 10, 2017

Day 131 of my Retirement.                          “Communication beyond Retirement”

My routine in retirement has not changed that much since I was in my clinical practice before September 1 of 2016. On Tuesday mornings I still arise at five AM and am at Cracker Barrel in Shelbyville by six AM. Each week one of ten or eleven guys who make up this Bible study group participate in a rotation of weekly being the leader of a chapter preassigned in the Bible for that week. Presently we are in an interesting study in Second Samuel. Today we read together chapter ten and Gary led the discussion. The subject was a story about two nations that go to war because one nation did not understand or believe the true intent of King Davis of the nation of Israel. Thousands of people died as a result. For me it was an excellent example of the failing of a monarch to clarify the message and intent of another monarch (King David).

Before leaving The Barrel, I stopped and had a brief visit with another friend Joe, who does not attend this Bible study. We talked about spiritual concepts such as forgiveness of sin, propitiation and atonement. It occurred to me as I was driving home a short time later how easy it is to discuss such complex religious concepts with another believer. But it is not easy to have any discussion with someone you hardly know or have some common ground with. Good communication is essential to cooperation within the family, neighborhood, county, state and nation. It distresses me a bit that the foreign nations of the world, such as North Korea, China, Russia, and Palestine are world “hot spots” where war could come far too quickly!

Conclusion about the day: I’m not sure which comes first, good communication or good relationships. It is certain there is a close connection. Even in retirement good communication is the key to preventing conflict in all arenas.               teh

 
 
 
 

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Some of my art class members

“Linseed oil and rules of three”

January 9, 2017

Day 130 of my retirement.                          

One of life’s challenges is the need to continue reinventing who we are. Just because I have retired, does not mean that I do not need to continue to learn and grow. I enjoy learning new facts and information every chance I get.

One of the allegations about me is when I am traveling and not the driver, I am constantly asking “Google” or “Cirri” questions about the companies that own the semi that we just passed. What might that truck be carrying? What is this town famous for and so forth? My family and friends get tired of my questions and my hunger to learn. I cannot explain why I find that of interest but my probing questions seem to make the long trip go much faster and I learn a bit along the way.

Part of reinventing ourselves is expanding the things we learn, the things we can do and the people we do those things with. Tonight I ventured a bit outside my comfort zone and joined a three month oil painting group. My experience with painting with oil, acrylics or latex consists of a house, a couple barns and some black and white board fences. Oh yes, and a red gate or two. I may have painted a few paint by number pictures when I was a kid. But nothing more!

No, I have no illusions of Grandma Moses, Grandpa Abraham or anyone else. Just trying something new and maybe learning a bit along the way. There were nine other persons in our class tonight. I suspect there were two or three “ringers” in the group. A couple mentioned having painted and sold their work. Another had taken lessons for several years! I just said I hoped to have some fun along the way.

Conclusions about the day: There is a fund of knowledge related to oil painting just as there is in photography or creative writing. I hope to acquire a bit of knowledge over these three months. I do not think I will worry about my finished work or whether my painting will ever hang on a wall, any wall. But I did have fun tonight. I look forward to going again and trying to not spill the linseed oil and maybe not fail in the rule of three!               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 January 8, 2017

Day 129 of my retirement.                           “Sunflower Seeds and Muck Boots”

These cold winter days are hard. The cold seems to just slow down my activities. Yes I get chores done. I do that which has to be done. But everything seems to move in a lower gear. A more demanding gear.

Today, before attending Church and teaching Bible study, I noticed the bird feeders were depleted of the suet, thistle seeds and black sunflower seeds that the songbirds so thrive on these cold days. We keep a metal garbage can (metal to ward of the raccoons) on our deck filled with the bird feed. I went out on the icy deck and filled all five of the various feeders. In just a short while these empty feeders will look like I-64 at rush hour with all kinds of songbirds traversing from the willow oak tree in the yard nearby to this feeding station. Grab a seed and fly back to the tree to consume. And so it will go most of the day.

After church and lunch, I decided I needed to take another roll of this summer’s hay forage to the cows. Before going to get the tractor from my son-in-law’s barn, I went to the garage to put on my “muck boots”. As I slipped the heavy rubber high tops on my feet, my right foot felt a bit uncomfortable. I did not think too much about it and went on to the pickup to drive to Chris’s barn and the tractor. When I stepped out of the truck and pressed my right foot into the remaining layer of snow, my foot again felt uncomfortable around my toes. I leaned against the dusty ford truck and pulled off my right muck boot. And then falling on the ground was an assortment of black sunflower seeds. Maybe twenty or so. Where did they come from? When did they get there? I do not have an answer. But apparently a mouse found its wat into my garage and invaded the spare bag of sunflower seed and stored some for winter since I last had worn these boots!

Conclusion about the day: Everything has some purpose and place. But sunflower seed in the wrong spot can be a pain under foot!                        teh

 
 
 
 

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Breaking Ice here on the farm for cows               .“The White Earth Stood Hard as Stone”

January 7, 2017

Day 128 of my retirement.                           

It was four degrees here on the Hedden Family Farm this morning. At least that is what the thermometer indicated. Our home was warm but when I ventured outside, I felt the intense cold on any bare skin almost immediately.

I had a Gideon Meeting at seven AM this morning at the Cracker Barrel. Since my car was in a heated garage, it was not so bad venturing out before daylight. My first real introduction to the cold was my walk from my warm car to the Cracker Barrel door. Later as I traveled home from the meeting, the sun had risen and the solar warmth was beginning to be felt.

My ventures outside today were mostly for wood to place in the fireplace insert in our basement. The wood fire makes our basement really toasty! As my Bible study class is having a special meeting tomorrow, I spent part of the morning making vegetable beef soup to take to the meeting after our Bible Study class. It was a pleasant thing to do on such a chilly day.

Then later this afternoon, I went outside again, this time to feed the cows. They seemed to be doing well but their appetite is much bigger on these cold days. I called my son-in-law, Chris to come over and help me break the ice on the pond so the cows would have water to drink. I went with him as I did not want either of us out on the pond bank alone. I had ventured there earlier and stepped on the ice only to hear that ominous cracking sound. Chris brought a heavy maul and made fast action on the three-quarter inch ice coating. Later I helped my son move a heavy cast iron stove with front end loader. With the reactor having a heated cab, the work was fine as long as I was inside the cab.

Conclusions about the day: On these bitterly cold days, the sense of family closeness is essential in order to get done some of what we must do. I am grateful that I have younger men in my family I can call upon. Living on the farm is a lot about family. As the retired senior male here on the farm, I can still do much to help with farm operations.                       teh

 
 
 
 
 

 

January 6, 2017

Day 127 of my retirement.                           “Lunch with Old and New Friends”

I have spoken before about my desire to maintain connections with colleagues with whom I have worked with over the years. It is often difficult to maintain these connections as many obstacles come into the efforts to hold on to these connections. One obstacle I have discovered is the death of a close friend in 2016 with whom I had enjoyed many a lunch repast over the years we knew each other.

Today, I enjoyed a barbecue sandwich with baked beans with a newer friend. This friend is experiencing a demon I call “depression”. This friend is not a client. This friend is just a friend with whom I am familiar with the demon who pursues my friend’s wellness. We enjoyed the lunch together as this friend unleashed the many foils this demon throws upon my friend. I am able to keep my friend focused on the demon’s trickery of telling my friend that friend is beyond help. That the pain my friend is experiencing is well deserved and even that “God has turned His back” on my friend!

As we talked, I tried to be a good listener and not offer unsolicited advice to this friend. This is rather easy for me as I recognize many parallels between my counseling career and meeting a friend for lunch.

Conclusion about the day:  God gave me skills to listen and counsel with people who are hurting. God allowed me to retire when I chose to do so, more than four months ago. But I have come to realize that God still requires me to use those skills in other settings, including a restaurant setting. I am clear that God is not finished with me yet!          teh

 

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"S.N.O.W!"

January 5, 2016

Day 126 of my retirement.                          

The day of our first predicted winter snow is finally upon us! Oh sorrows! Oh the suffering of us all! Oh the cataclysm of the year! Oh the excessive hysteria of our news media!

Schools were cancelled early today before any snow had moved into the region. Yes I understand the need for school systems to anticipate the weather later in the day! But it does seem that our TV and Radio media likes to be a bit excessive in their efforts to make the weather “breaking news” and “Special report” status.

When I was a child, I lived in Louisville and attended an elementary and high school both of which were about six city blocks from my home. That translated is about one half mile travel distance. That was before “Brown Versus Board of Education” (in 1955), the US Supreme Court ruling on the school system in Topeka Kansas that separate but equal was not consistent with our US Constitution. Children who attended predominately Black attended schools would be bussed to schools which had been predominately White attended schools. Thus was the beginning of busing for racial school equality. And that was the ending of neighborhood schools where children were able to walk to school.

I graduated from nearby duPont Manual High School in 1964 and completed my secondary education before busing altered the school makeup at Manual. I walked to school through high school. Our family had one auto and my father drove it. I purchased my first auto in the summer of 1964, a new Plymouth Valiant that cost a bit over $2000.00. I had saved my lawn mowing pay for more than five years in order to afford an auto to drive to college. I never lived on campus. So I drove to class in east Louisville while continuing to live at home and work full time in evenings at a local discount store.

Snow was an inconvenience for me while in school. I do not recall many days in which school was canceled. I do recall snowball fights en route to and returning home from school over those winters many years ago. I never thought anything about walking to school in the snow. I did not like wearing galoshes to school to protect my leather shoes from getting wet. I did not think the rubber covers for my shoes were “cool”. Back in those days, our “Chucks” (high top gym shoes) were only worn in P.E.class and not as a universal shoe dress as it is today. So when snow fell, I would slip my “penny loafers” in my galoshes and off to school I went, hoping not to be noticed by the “cool students” who were dressed very “preppy’ and dropped by parents at west door of school where the janitor service would always keep cleared from the snow fall.

Conclusions about the day:  Weather is an obstacle tour daily planning but is not a major life altering event. We do what we choose to do. We do not think a lot about going somewhere we choose to go. But we allow snow to be prevention to doing those things we care less to do!

 
 
 
 

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Winter here on the farm..

“I Do Not Understand”

January 4, 2017

Day 125 of my retirement.                           

Today after an annual visit to my Dermatologist Office in Middletown, my wife and I drove to LaGrange KY to take our UTV (four wheeler for two) to the dealer for annual service of this necessary farm vehicle. I say necessary as we use the vehicle for a variety of needs including hauling feed (grain) to stock, hauling firewood for the wood stove and running the maple syrup lines when sap is flowing. So, you see why I consider it an essential farm vehicle.

We hauled the UTV to LaGrange on a trailer made to haul riding lawn mowers and such. It is not a difficult chore but it does require a certain amount of caution and awareness as we travel two lane country roads between New Castle and LaGrange KY.

It was on our return drive between Eminence and Shelbyville on KY 53 that my confusion arose. KY 53 is a modern two lane highway with very wide shoulders that is essentially a straight line between Eminence on the Henry County line and Shelbyville fifteen miles away. Today approximately five miles from the Shelbyville bypass headed south I came upon a line of very slow moving vehicles. All were following a white pickup pulling two hay wagons loaded with unstripped tobacco. The pickup according to my speedometer was traveling about twenty five miles an hour. In Kentucky farm vehicles have the same rights on highways as do any other licensed vehicles.

My dilemma was why the pickup truck did not pull over on the lane wide paved shoulder and allow the ten plus vehicles to pass. This line of vehicles included three semi-trailers, one school bus several cars and my pickup truck pulling a fourteen foot empty trailer.

Conclusion about the day: As I am now officially retired, I find myself much more willing to allow others to get in front of me in line at Kroger, place their order at McD’s ahead of me and cut in front of me in line at the movies. I realize I have the entire day and no deadlines to meet. But I do not understand why people are so inconsiderate to line up multiple vehicles behind themselves when there was an easy and safe place to pull over and allow others to pass on by? Ah yes, life’s mysteries!               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bull Elk in Smokies 2015

“Fifty Years”

January 3, 2017

Day 124 of my retirement.                           

My friend Joe and I were talking today at the Cracker Barrel about years of our youth. We both are near in age though I am a few years older. We both attended high school in Louisville in the 1960’s. We both attended schools in the south end of Louisville although the schools were different.

Our conversation today focused on the fact that Joe is presently facing the fifty year anniversary of his high school graduation later this year. I on the other hand had my fifty year anniversary more than two years ago. I did attend my anniversary. Joe is thinking he will not attend his fifty year anniversary.

We discussed how much we realized that we both have changed in fifty years. We also recognize that those people we knew fifty years ago who were classmates in school have also changed a lot as well. The question for us is why people choose to return to such events and what do you gain from going back.

Our conclusion is that it may not be a good idea for all to attend such anniversary events. After all, most people we see there only look a bit like someone we knew in the past, but a whole lot older than the last time we saw them. Some people seem to come to be able to brag about their accomplishments in life. Some may choose not to come because life did not work out as they had hoped for. I told Joe that I went more out of curiosity than anything else. Curious for me about who would come to that event.

Conclusions about the day: We all know that one cannot go back to their past. We cannot nor should we try to change our past. If I choose to attend anniversary events, I will need to do so only with the intention of celebrating the fact that those in attendance were successful in achieving this milestone. As I get older, I am more aware that life is not so much about how many days we live but rather how well we lived the days we had. I choose to live each day to the best degree of caring for others. The memories those who exceed me will have about me are determined by how I treat them today.               teh

 

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Rainbow over the farm 12-26-2016.

     "How do You Define Love?"

January 2, 2017

Day 123 of my retirement.          

I had an 8AM appointment for a haircut today. Though I had not thought a lot about the time of day, my wife aroused from bed as I was dressing and said she would go with me to the appointment about 20 minutes away. My first thought was that it was not necessary for her to go along with me. One of my discoveries since retirement is that I do enjoy my private time. (I think of private time as when I can be alone and not have to communicate with anyone).

I told my wife I could go without her and that she should go back to sleep. She said it was dark and very foggy this early morning. Then I recalled what this conversation was really about. Several weeks ago, at my wife’s encouragement, I returned to my Opthamalogist for a follow-up on the formation of cataracts in my eyes. My vision is 20/20 in the daytime but is not good at night, especially when light shines in my eyes. This I am told is a hallmark of cataracts. My wife did not want me driving at night in fog before I have cataracts removed next month.

My first response was to be annoyed with her. My next reaction was to recognize her love for me and being willing to arise from her warm bed and drive me to my early appointment. Furthermore, we did not have time to eat breakfast before the appointment. It was almost 9:30 before we returned home. I had to make a secondary stop on the way at my prior office to pick up a check before heading  home.

Conclusions about the day: “Love”. How many ways can we define that four letter word? It is clear that love is far more than romantic feelings and Hollywood’s portrayal of the word. For me today love also means a wife insisting on driving me to a haircut when it would have been far easier to have remained in bed and slept another hour or so. I am certain I will make that clear to my wife today my understanding of that word, love!               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 


.“Christmas has ended”

 

January 1, 2017

Day 122 of my retirement.                                           

Christmas season ended today. Well, the Christmas tree was taken down and returned to it’s place in the tool shed by the house. The ten foot tree is a major undertaking to disassemble and put away.

There are fifteen strands of 200 lights each that are used to decorate the tree. And there are two large plastic cases in which we store the ornaments. Each ornament either goes in an individual box or is wrapped with care in tissue paper before being stored in the big two foot by three foot by two foot plastic case. The cases go to the basement where they are carefully stored on shelves until next Thanksgiving weekend when we once more unload the shelves and decorate the tree.

Some of the ornaments are the work of our two children while they were young. An ornament one of them made at school or church which has become a part of the tree decorations. Other ornaments are souveniers from a family vacation of years ago. Our tree is a tree of memories. It is not a tree that has any designer influence or prevailing color palate.

It saddens me to take down the tree because the red and green colors of the season are replaced by a drab absence of colors. The bleak winter is now here. It will be weeks to months before we begin to see the evolving hints of spring colors outside.

Conclusions about the day: The Christmas season is over. The colors of Christmas have passed. Next to the season of autumn, my next favorite season is just ahead. The season of spring offers a promise of new life and pastel colors. Now I will work to stay busy till that season arrives!  teh

 
 

December 31, 2016

Day 121 of my retirement.                           “Surprise Endings”

I admit it. I am a person who likes to know how the ending will be. Whether it is a movie on TV or an event in my life, I think about what I hope the story ending will be like. I tend to be a planner and anticipate the way a situation will end. I try to make my stories have a happy ending. I think many people liked the movie “Pretty Woman” with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere so well is because I like most viewers knew how that story would end. Realistic or not, we all like a happy, and romantic outcome.

Thursday evening I was out headed for a destination in the north end of the county just as the sun was setting. That evening there were large puffy clouds that were broken leaving blue skies between the clouds. I suspected that there might be a pretty sunset that evening. But as I was traveling with my wife and neighbors, I did not seriously consider stopping to photograph the “sweet light” that was appearing right before our windshield. My neighbor who was driving asked me if I wanted him to stop so I could photograph the red and orange clouds that now were reflecting the last light of the sun that now had fallen below the horizon to the west. I said no, as we had a destination to reach which was the part of my plan I had envisioned.

Then, I could decline no longer. I suggested that if there was a safe pull-off along Smithfield Road, I would appreciate a one or two minute photo shoot. Though I did not have my good camera, my newer phone has a really good camera I have become quite comfortable using. It has a number of professional features I have become familiar with. I made several shots looking west and northwest at the now rapidly fading light. The color was quite good. The images I captured were very satisfying.

Conclusions about the day: There is nothing really wrong with planning and having goals. We can have well thought out goals but they may need to be changed somewhere along the way. Sometimes the focus of our attention is altered beyond our abilities to anticipate. The sweet light of December 29 reminds me once more that only our Creator has a full understanding of how the story ends. And in my case, how the light of evening became a remembrance I could not have anticipated.

Another lesson from my brief stint with retirement is the realization that I must remain flexible in my expectations about what my goals are for each and every day.                          teh

 

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My uncle RJ and aunt Irene with Tommy
and Edith Webb, January 1955 in FL.

"Life-long friends and Neighbors"

December 30, 2016

Day 120 of my retirement.

Last evening my wife and I were the guests of our neighbors from across the road, Tommy and Edith Webb, while  going out for dinner at a local fine restaurant in Shelbyville. It is always a pleasure to visit with or have dinner with this fine Christian couple. They have been associated with my family since around 1955 when Tommy’s parents purchased part of the Hedden Family Farm from my paternal grandmother. We have been next door neighbors since around 2000.

More than the social gathering and eating dinner together is the interdependence that we have enjoyed over the years. Everything from jointly repairing adjacent fences to borrowing each other’s farm equipment. We have recognized the value of being a “good neighbor” to each other. There is an old saying that says “good fences make good neighbors”. Both families own some beef cattle. Maintaining good fences requires the routine inspection of those boundary fences. When a problem is found, it is easy and comfortable to tell this neighbor of the difficulty and together make the repairs.

Over the years we have watched his three sons and my two children, a son and daughter, grow up and leave the home place. But it is noteworthy that four of the five children from these two families presently live within two miles of their parent’s homes. I believe this indicates a healthy relationship between parents, children and neighbors.

Conclusions about the day: I celebrate daily the good fences we have within our neighborhood. I celebrate the enduring friendships that have been crafted over the years between the different generations of two families. I look forward to the years ahead as we continue to construct a well-built fence of respect between these neighbors/friends and our family.

Next time it is our turn to pay for dinner!                                            teh

 
 
 
 
 


 

"Lessons from a mom"

December 29, 2016

Day 119 of my retirement.

Over the course of Christmas break, I have enjoyed the occasion of observing my grandchildren more than usual. I have observed a lot of good and also funny interactions. I admit I have also seen an occasion or two when I would have liked to see a better action on the part of a grandchild. I cringe when I hear a phrase coming from a grandchild’s mouth that must have been a phrase heard spoken by an adult within that child’s hearing. A phrase I would not deem appropriate for that age child.

I had an observation today that made an impression upon me. I observed a mother and three year old child when the child received a small gift from another adult.

In my childhood (and in many other people’s childhoods, too, perhaps), when I accepted a gift from other people, my parents would tell me to say thank you to the giver. But this mother who I observed was different; she said thank you herself to the giver of the small gift. I was at first puzzled by the exchange. Then I began to speculate about what had just transpired. Maybe the mother was “modeling” positive behavior so that her son would copy her appropriate behavior.

And considering that a child is great at copying other people, maybe this is a great way to teach kids using our own thought-out actions where we model good behavior to our impressionable children and grandchildren. This mom set herself as an example for her son, instead of just telling him to do what she wanted him to do. With just this brief observation, I came to have a lot of respect for that mother.

Conclusions about the day: Adults, including grandparents, can be a positive influence on our children and grandchildren by modeling good behavior instead of telling children what behavior they should display.                                   teh 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sunrise today,12/28/16

“Conversations Worth Remembering”

December 28, 2016

Day 118 of my retirement.                                           

Today my son in law called me asking if I was interested in taking our riding lawn mowers to undergo their annual service. I had expected that he might call as we had spoken about a week ago about the need to get this done soon. Of course I said that I would like to go with him. We both own Skag riding lawn mowers. We take the mowers to south Dixie Highway where they were purchased. We are very loyal to the dealer there as that business has treated us very professionally every time we have gone there in the past seven years. (We drive past two other dealers to get there and one is only fifteen minutes away. This dealer is one hour away.

The reason I also like to go there is because it affords me a couple hours of men talk with my son in law. We do not usually have issues of great importance to speak about. But none the less it is valuable time for me to hear what his thoughts are about a range of topics. Today was no exception. We engaged in a full three hours of visiting. (We stopped at Moby Dick for a fish lunch and talked some more).

While we were gone with the lawn mowers, my daughter took our youngest granddaughter, Lillie with her to return a few gifts and allow Lillie to use the debit card she had received for Christmas. Lillie’s other grandmother had given her a fifty dollar debit card for her to spend as she chose. My daughter took Lillie to a couple stores where she purchased some hair bands and finger nail polish. Lillie was asked to sign the debit receipt which made her feel very old! Lillie is five and a half years old. Lillie spent the remainder of the day acting much older. On their return trip home, Lillie mentioned that she was thinking about having her ears pierced. A gentle conversation followed between mother and daughter. My daughter told me later today how she was feeling a bit shaken that her daughter was growing up too quickly. But I think she still was proud of the time the two of them had spent today.

Conclusions about the day: There is no better use of our time than to spend it in communication with people we love and care about. Today my family did very well. We must allow this to happen again very soon.                                         teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Another old friend, Suzanne and Jesse Wright.

 “A note from an old friend”

December 27, 2016

Day 117 of my retirement.                          

Today I received in the US Mail a note from an old friend and colleague of mine. This friend I have not heard from in several years. It was such a delight to receive just a note along with a mailing address (which I did not have).

The first thing I did after reading the note was to write a note right back to this friend. I included my pleasure at having heard from her as well as expressing my desire to know what has been going on with her. She lives all the way across the USA. My family had the privilege to visit her and her husband more than twenty years ago while vacationing in the area where she lives. Since that visit, I have seen her once or twice.

Conclusions about this day: This unexpected note reminds me of the importance of keeping in touch with friends, both old and new. I recognize that holding on to friendships is not always easy. We all have good intentions about sustaining those relationships. But we are busy people. Sometimes those linkages are miles apart. Distance makes those friendships more vulnerable.

None the less, good friends that endure over time are almost the same as family. They become people you share a portion of your life journey with. They even help you carry your life’s baggage from time to time. Yes we all have baggage. And yes, our baggage at times becomes too heavy to carry alone! That is why we need good friends!               teh

 
 
 
 
 

 
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Bible study by headlight                          “What a crazy, mixed up day today was!”

 

December 26, 2016

Day 116 of my retirement.                          

Today will be a day that will be recalled as a crazy, mixed up day filled with record high temperatures, amazing sun rises, rainbows, peaceful hike on the Anchorage trail and two hour power failures with grandkids spending the night with us.

Today began with my arising from bed at 6:30 AM and going out on the deck to check the air temperature (61 degrees). While standing there for a brief moment, I heard a non-familiar sound for late December. Coming from down over the hill behind our house was the sound of Spring Peepers! A small frog with a loud set of lungs usually heard in late March and beyond. But today a chorus of those baby amphibians was testing their ability to sing in unison this early morning on a day that the calendar calls “Boxer Day”. This holiday is an old tradition of British and Canadian subjects who dedicate the day to giving gifts to people who serve them such as the mail man or cleaning person a gift of appreciation on the day after Christmas each year.

I noted as I prepared to return into our house the beginnings of a pretty sunrise. A thin line of orange colors was drawn just above the eastern horizon. I made a quick decision to grab my truck keys and camera and head east to a location just a couple miles away that offers an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon in winter. When I arrived there just a few minutes later, the color had become richer and larger as the sun was just beginning to break the skyline of the eastern view. I stood and shot several images each time noting a bit more of that golden orb that would later be covered by the bank of clouds just to the west at this early hour. A lesson I learned many years ago as a photographer is to always look in both directions when photographing weather events. Today reminded me of this important rule. There in the west was a morning rainbow. It appeared to terminate just a mile or so from where I was standing. So I photographed east and west. And I was able to capture several images of which I was pleased with.

Later in the day my wife and I walked the two mile Anchorage trail. I think we were one of a very few hikers that were not accompanied by Fido, Rex, Lady or Scooter. Everyone we met had a four legged canine either in tow or being pulled by an anxious accompaniment. It was a lovely day for this day of the month setting an all-time high for December at 76 official degrees.

This evening we had agreed to keep our two youngest grandchildren while their parents went to a dinner that did not allow children. That was fine for us as we enjoy their company especially on those rare sleep-ins that we still have from time to time. But before bath and bedtime our power went off after two flickers and a flash! Everyone on our road we learned was without power. The power stayed off two hours before returning well after our grandchildren’s bedtime. They were a bit afraid at first without electricity but before long their grandmother was making a movie using her cellphone and flashlight with kids cackling like a bunch of hens! In the meantime, I am scheduled to lead a bible study at six AM tomorrow at the Barrel. So I am camped in my recliner with a hunter’s headlamp trying to read two commentaries on Second Samuel, chapter eight!

Conclusions from the day: A crazy day for sure! But a day filled with magical moments that I am choosing to leave it just the way it happened. But I will recall for some time the two views I had this AM looking east and west, still uncertain which view was the best!     teh

 

“Christmas Truths 2016”
 

December 25, 2016

Day 115 of my retirement                                            

We wait so long for this day to arrive. And then, so quickly the day passes. My wife and I were up past midnight last evening wrapping gifts and doing prep work for our Christmas Brunch with part of our family.

We arose early today and finished our work in time before the guests arrived. Our family at Christmas has certain traditions we have maintained for many years. One of those traditions is the measuring the heights of all our grandchildren on the inside part of a door of one of our closets. The door is carefully marked and labeled over the past sixteen years. Each grandchild has his or her own part of the door on which the lines rise up above the floor sometimes only a bit and other times as much as two inches or more since the last Christmas. We always marvel at the amount of growth for some each year.

Another tradition in which we maintain is the exchanging of gifts. We try to be attentive to wishes and spoken wants made by children and grandchildren throughout the year. We celebrate the joy and excitement that their faces demonstrate when the gift is opened.

One truth remains the same over the years. That truth is the realization that more often than not, one of the grandkids ends up enjoying the box more than what came in that box. That was noticeably true today with our grandson Brayden. Note the attached photo of Brayden with his “play box”.

Conclusions about the day: Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s son sent to be the atoning sacrifice for man’s sin. We must not forget the true meaning of the season!

 

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Christmas eve with granddaughters 2016

  “Christmas Eve on the Farm”

December 24, 2016

Day 114 of my retirement.                                         

You can walk out on the back porch this afternoon and there is a strange and eerie silence. This is a bit unusual as most Saturday afternoons this time of year are filled with sounds of engine noise. Tractors toting large twelve hundred pound rolls of summer hay to hungry cattle. Chain saws revving up to cut more firewood for the wood stoves that supplement electric heat or provide the only home heat on chilly winter days. Sounds of life in the country are absent today.

Families are gathered around the Christmas tree. Gifts are being exchanged. Conflicts that sometimes exist between family members are tabled this weekend. For some there is reflection of Christmases of long ago. Christmas of our youth. And Christmases when loved ones were seated around the Christmas table but are there no more.

My memories of most of seventy plus years at Christmas is fond. The Christmas fifteen years ago after I lost both parents that same summer was pained and troubled. But I have moved on to remember my children and grandchildren as a focus on what is rather than what is not.

My hope for you the reader is that you will embrace all the good about Christmas today as well as every day. Christmas does seem to make all of us better people. Christmas does bring peace to the nations if just briefly on that day. Peace, silence, hope, and love. “And the greatest of these is love”.

Conclusion about the day: I love the Holy Christmas season complete with spaghetti and meatballs!                                                                                  teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lillie and Brayden with their Meme!

“The Things Children Can Say”

December 22, 2016

Day 112 of my retirement.                           

Today is my birthday. Today our two youngest grandchildren are spending the day with us. Lillie age five and Brayden age three can be a challenge to stay ahead of. As I had taken my chain saw to be tuned up, only yesterday, I was a bit surprised to get a call today telling me it was ready to be picked up.

I suggested to the grandchildren that I was going to the store who worked on my saw in Simpsonville. I asked them if they might want to go with me to pick it up. They both said yes! The drive is only about twenty minutes from farm to store. As we were driving, Lillie commented that she had never rode in the car with me and their grandmother not being along. I jokingly said I was a pretty good driver and no grandchild had ever got hurt while riding with me. Lillie replied that I had not killed myself yet while driving!

I changed subjects! I asked the children if they would like to see where I was born. They both said yes. So, we drove a bit more indirect to get to see where the old “Kings Daughter’s Hospital” once stood seventy one years ago. It is now a nursing home in Shelbyville on Henry Clay Street. Lillie asked me why the old building did not look like a hospital any longer.  I explained that the hospital moved many years ago and was now a place for caring for older folks who needed special care. Lillie spoke up quickly and quipped, “Well, you can’t be born again.” That place is for old people. How glad I was for the moment in the mind of a five year old, I did not qualify as an old person!

Conclusions about the day: I really do not care much about birthdays for myself. I prefer the attention be focused on others, not me. The trip to the chain saw store will be a fond memory of today for me. After all, as Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids do say the darndest things!” Thanks Lillie and Brayden for your creative thinking and words!           teh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The two roads in my driveway

“Do you hear what I hear?”

December 21, 2016

Day 111 of my retirement.                 

For anyone born after the year 1956, you will most likely recall with distant horror, the events of October 15 through the 28th in the year 1962. For me, I recall with undeniably clear recollections of being at my home church that October 28th and being packed with people in a church that usually was about half filled. People came to church some anticipating that death for all of us might come in a few minutes. If we knew when we might die, then a church might be where we would choose to die. I recall our pastor, Leon Larimore announcing before his message that morning that the Russian Frigates carrying nuclear missiles had turned back from the US blockade that President Kennedy had ordered. We all collectively breathed a much needed sigh of relief. My dear friend, Dr. Wayne Willis writes in one of his collection of “Hope Notes” about that same time. It seems quite appropriate to share at this Christmas season.

October of 1962 may have been the most dangerous month in recorded history. Fidel Castro three years earlier had made Cuba the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere. The Soviet Union was busy constructing nuclear-tipped missile sites in Cuba that could reach most major cities in the United States. For 13 days, as the two sides postured, the world worried that nuclear annihilation could come from this showdown.

On one of those 13 days, composer Noel Regney and pianist Gloria Shayne Baker, a husband-and-wife team, wrote a song as their prayer for peace. He composed the lyrics and she added the music. Filled with dread over the Cuban Missile Crisis, as they watched babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalk outside Bloomingdale's in New York City, Regney and Baker wrote "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Neither of them could perform the song at the time because their emotions were so frayed. "Our little song broke us up," Baker said. "You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."


So, the Harry Simeone Chorale recorded the song and it sold 250,000 copies during one week of the 1962 Christmas holiday season. Regney said his favorite version was Robert Goulet's. When Goulet came to the line "Pray for peace, people everywhere!" he "almost shouted the words."

Following conjured images of innocent little lambs, shepherd boys and a child shivering in the cold, the song climaxes:

     "
Said the king to the people everywhere,
     listen to what I say
     pray for peace, people everywhere!
     Listen to what I say
     The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night,
     He will bring us goodness and light,
     He will bring us goodness and light."


Our times are out of joint, hate-filled and treacherous. Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Dr. Wayne Willis

Conclusions about this day: Peace is so very illusive. I cannot bring peace to all the world. That would be far too difficult. I cannot even bring peace to all my family. I can and will try to bring peace into my heart during this Christmas season. And yes, I too will pray for peace with people everywhere!               teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Cold frosty morning of December 20,2016here on the farm.

  “As we forgive our debtors”

December 20, 2016

Day 110 of my retirement.                         

Today I had an experience with forgiveness that I wish to speak of. I had two situations in which I was faced with the question of my forgiving another person for a wrong they inflicted upon me.

The first situation goes back about fourteen years. It involves business dealing and a person who did not pay me money that was owed to me for work I had done. This person lied to me and walked away from the debt. This is a person who claimed a high moral character. We have not spoken in fourteen years and our paths have gone in different directions. I ran into that person today. They said hello and I replied in the same. We did not talk further. But I had this epiphany that I had moved on and needed to have no further focus on what had been done many years ago. My not being repaid insured I have no further contact with this person. And that was how God led me to move on in a different direction with my career. And that was a very good thing!

The second situation involves a broken promise from a contractor to me. I was going to depend on this person to do a project for me. Then for reasons I have no idea, they withdrew from the agreement and refused to take my calls or explain what happened. This change in agreement has caused me some extra work and concern. But I cannot imagine why this person changed their agreement with me. I wanted to be angry at this person. But today I came to a place of understanding that anger is not the way. I need to try and show love. Either this person has had some major crisis in their home or business or else they have extremely poor contracting skills. And if it is the latter, then that can be devastating to a small business owner. Either way, this person needs my prayer.

Conclusion about the day: There are some things I just need to let it go. Holding on to my resentment will only cause me, not the other person, pain and suffering.    teh

 

 
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Sundown December 19, 2016 here on the farm.

“The sound of the winds”

December 19, 2016

Day 109 of my retirement.                           

 

Some people call me “unusual”. I have some interests that are a bit different. For example, I like perennial flowers. I have a garden that is full of day lilies, hosta, hellebores, and daffodils. I like to see flowers bloom in every season! Even now, I am excited to see the Lenten Rose blossoms peeking out from beneath the snow and frozen earth.

I have other unusual interests. I like to see the birds in the garden. The titmice, the house wrens, the orioles, as well as the robins and cardinals that are all residents at our feeders in winter. We have placed a number of seed and suet feeders in our yard near the back deck so as to be able to watch the little winged creatures as they flit from tree to feeder and back to the willow oak nearby. They show up just as it begins to become light and remain in the yard until almost dark.

The final interest I will share today is my love to hear the sound of the wind. For many years, we had two tiny Loblolly pine trees we brought in a coffee can to Kentucky from our home in Georgia many years ago . They grew to more than thirty feet tall. When the wind blew, we could hear the singing wind in the pine boughs outside our bedroom door. Then an ice storm destroyed both trees and we were forced to cut the trees. I missed that sound. I discovered a replacement for the singing pines! Wind chimes. Over several years, we purchased or were the recipient of several lovely wind chimes. Soprano, alto and baritone! We had chimes in all ranks and ranges. The soft breezes would render a tinkle here and there. But when the winds blew hard, it was like a cacophony of sounds on our screened porch outside our bedroom door.

Conclusions about the day: Flowers, birds and the sounds of the wind all give me simple pleasures I enjoy almost every day. Even in my retirement, these joys can be a part of my daily existence! teh

 
 
 
 

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         Sandhill Cranes over our farm.

 “The passing of the Croakers”

December 18, 2016

Day 108 of my retirement                           

What a painfully cold day today after the 62 degree spring like day yesterday. The rain came last evening and continued beyond my bedtime. My gauge registered 1.4 inches of rain for the day yesterday. Today when I awakened and looked out on my deck, I saw only ice. I was cooking a couple dishes for my Bible study class Christmas Brunch today during our Sunday Bible study hour. I arose at 5 AM. Between 5 and 7 AM, my thermometer on my deck fell from 32 to 28 degrees!

This afternoon after Bible study and Church, I was sitting in our family room reading about UK exciting basketball victory over North Carolina. My wife shouts to come outside quickly! I arose and ran outside. I heard what she was calling me to see. It was two wedges of Sandhill Cranes flying fairly low overhead just beyond our kitchen garden. Then I heard that familiar croaking sound close by and right above me. The call of this crane sounds a bit like a bullfrog with a deep "croaking" sound.  I looked up and counted 15 more cranes making a slow circle as they attempted to find an updraft before proceeding south with their forty or so companions who now were just dark spots it the southern horizon.

The wedge above my head now regrouped in a broken “V” and began to track towards the remaining cranes. I then realized that those cranes had “stopped” in that they were circling to the south waiting for this third collection to catch up. All the while, I continued to hear the wild and primitive croaking of the beautiful Sandhill cranes. It is noteworthy that these amazing cranes migrate from western Alaska to south Florida as part of their annual migratory trek to their winter breeding grounds.

Conclusions about the day: Beauty is sometimes seen, and heard, is surprising places! Sometimes, it can be found right above your head!          teh

 
 
 
 
 

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                 "Pops and grandkids"

A wonderful day as grandparents!

December 17, 2016

Day 107 of my retirement                            

God blessed me with four grandchildren, two grandsons and two granddaughters. My two youngest grandchildren, a boy and girl are ages three and five years. I get to see these two more frequently as they spend part of two days a week at our house. They live about two miles away from where we live.

My two older grandchildren are much older. They are a grandson age sixteen and a granddaughter age thirteen. They too live nearby. But we do not see them nearly as often. They both are very busy with school and extracurricular activities. The oldest is a senior in high school and planning on his college career. He is extremely smart and will do well where ever he goes and whatever he does. My older granddaughter is also quite smart and also is gifted in artistic areas.

Today, we spent about six hours with these two older grandchildren. We went out to lunch at Mark’s Feed Store, one of my grandson’s favorite restaurants. After that, we went shopping at three stores in east Louisville and were successful in both grandchildren picking out a couple gifts that they chose for themselves. These were gifts that we did not even have to wrap!

Before returning home, we stopped at our house and did what has become a routine. We stopped to take Christmas photographs near our Christmas tree. This is something we have done several years in a row. These images will become ornaments on next year’s tree.

Conclusion about the day: We are blessed to have grandchildren who live near to us. But we are even more blessed that we have teen age grandchildren who still enjoy spending time with their grandparents. May we continue to be people who can reach out to and connect with these amazing young people!               teh

 
 
 
 
 

Sunset on December 10, 2016

“Short Days and Long Nights”

December 16, 2016

Day 106 of my retirement.                           

We are now approaching the shortest days of the year. According to “Google”, December21, 2016 will be five hours and fifty minutes shorter than June 21, 2016 which was the longest day of the year. On that December 21 date we will have only nine hours and sixteen minutes of daylight with the sun setting at 5:44 PM here in Shelbyville. Nine hours and fifteen minutes of possible sunlight!

It is, of course the combination of earth tilt and the limited daylight that leads to the cooling of our atmosphere and the season we call winter. For me, I am challenged to get out in the sunshine as much as I can during the short days of winter. The sunlight just makes me feel better. Even on a bitterly cold day, sunlight passing through a window with curtains opened lifts my spirits significantly!

Some people I know suffer from a condition called SAD. That stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those folks are more sensitive to the absence of sunlight upon them. Those people often find comfort in using a special florescent light box that is somewhat like natural sunlight. Others just go south or southwest for an extended time in the winter to ward off the effects of cold and darkness.

Conclusions about the day: I need to stay busy in my retirement. I need to get outside every day. But especially on those days when the sun is shining.  Maybe I should change my name to “sunshine”!

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Caption goes here.

”Sweet Rosie, the love of our home”

December 15, 2016        

Day 105 of my retirement.                           

I’ve mentioned Rosie before. Rosie is the latest addition to our family. She only joined our household near to the time of my retirement. Rosie is a cat. Let me clarify, Rosie is a calico cat who came into our home after being born in the barn to our barn cat who has no interest or desire to reside anywhere beyond the tool barn behind our home.

Rosie, according to our Vet, is the “red haired rebellious cat” in the large community better known as Felix Domesticis or common housecat. Rosie was about two months old when we first met. She was small, opinionated and infested with fleas and ear mites. After three visits to the vet, she was given a clean bill of health.

Last Friday, after having received all her shots in past vet appointments and now officially six months old, she was scheduled to return for spaying. This visit was a three day trip as the surgery took place on Friday. The vet wanted to monitor her for at least 24 hours. As it turned out, she came home on Monday. She made it clear she was glad to be home but was not so happy that she had gone thru the surgery.

For three days, she laid around the house sleeping much of the time in my recliner chair. She would stare at you and then turn her back to you and go to sleep. The feisty Rosie we had come to know was no longer here.

That is until today! Glimpses of the other frolicking Rosie returned as she dashed through the house from one room to the next. She ran a while and then slept a while. But today, she stretches her head towards you indicating her wish to have her ears rubbed. And when I did, that sweet purring music was heard for the first time since last week.

Conclusion about the day: Our pets are an unmistakable part of the modern family. They take their place in the home as though we are there to serve them. But, in truth, they also take up residence in our hearts. And no one is complaining!          teh

 

 
           The John Deere at work!

 “Sooou-----Cows!”

December 14, 2016

Day 104 of my retirement.                          

I have been listening to the weather forecasts as have you. The predictions for tomorrow and beyond are to say the least, strange! Sub-zero wind chills and sixty plus temperatures! The weather is such that I thought today, while the sun was shining would be a good time to place a new hay out for our cattle.

I drove to the tractor barn and fired up the John Deere. It was a bit slow to start as it is a diesel tractor. But it came to life on the second try. I let it idol a few moments before backing it out of the barn. This is my first reactor with a cab and heater. I allowed the tractor to warm up before driving it the three miles from the tractor barn to the farm where we keep the cattle.

I stopped at the corral where the hay is stored in 1200 pound rolls. I lifted a roll with my front end loader and hay spear. It is a relatively easy task to accomplish with modern farm equipment technology. The only labor for me other than operating the equipment was getting out of the tractor and opening the field gate.

The cattle are a curious lot. As soon as they heard me coming they ran across the field to meet me. Kind of like a dog running to meet its master after the master’s long day at the office. Now they have hay for about a week. In the interim I will seek the best day on the weather calendar to plan to place more hay out for the cows! “Sooou----Cows!

Conclusions about the day:  Life on the farm is a life of patterns which are quite pleasant. I have spent most of my life in the rural community. Though many of my friends have moved to the city and patio homes or condos, I think this is where I will remain!          teh

 
 
 
 

 
 

 

                          “Old Dog’s Tricks---“

December 13, 2016

Day 104 of my retirement                           

My retirement is now three and a half months behind me. I feel I have made a reasonable adjustment to life as a retired psychotherapist. I have found a comfortable pattern in my days and the schedule I now follow.

Today I followed up on a pledge to meet a new friend for lunch in Middletown. I met this friend several months ago at church. This friend had recently gone through a personal tragedy and was reeling from the pain of that experience. I agreed to meet this friend primarily for the purpose of getting to know that person and share a lunch time together.

We met for lunch. We were actually together about two hours. Over that time I was able to help this person talk about and process the sources of pain for which this person is still stumbling. We agreed to get back together again for lunch in a couple weeks. We set the time and place and we each went our way.

Conclusions about the day: Though I am officially retired, my love for helping and counseling those in distress has not gone away. I have already recognized that as long as God puts people in my path who need what I can do, then I will continue to help those people. I am an old dog, but I still have a few tricks which I am pretty good at! Thank you Lord for using me as my talents can be used.                       teh
 
 
 
 
 

December 12, 2016

Day 102 of my retirement.                           “Christmas Shopping 2016 Style”

 

Part of retirement that I have not yet understood is how I should feel about accompanying my wife to go shopping. I am fine to go to the grocery or even the “big box” stores with her. But shopping in the malls and other shopping complexes which still seem to be thriving is not my cup of tea!

Today my wife asked me to accompany her to a mall to purchase a couple gifts for our grandchildren. I said I would go with her. We drove to river city and amazingly found a parking place in the first space nearest the door to the mall we planned to enter. We went in one store and made a purchase of what we planned to get.

Then we went to store number two. It was a specialty jewelry store. Everything was inside locked glass cases. There were five very young looking ladies each dressed in black who were the sales persons. There were ten to twelve shoppers there when we walked in. After standing for several minutes waiting our turn to be assisted, another customer told me we must “sign in” in order to be assisted. I thanked the customer and told her I had not been in this store before. Funny, but there was no posted instructions about sign ins.

So, we waited maybe ten minutes longer. Our name was finally called. The young lady was young enough to be a grandchild. We asked to see the merchandise which we were interested in. She then tells us that what we want is not available before Christmas. And she has no idea how or when we could purchase that item. These items are advertised on TV almost daily. I know that there are several stores in the Louisville area with the same name and same merchandise. No she would not call the other stores to help and yes, she had other customers to assist. So we were left and at that point we departed the business.

My conclusion about the day: I suppose when you have a store with a line of customers waiting to make a purchase, you can afford to blow off a customer or two. After all there are plenty more just behind you in the line. But I think I was also witnessing some reaction to the ages of two customers who were twenty to thirty years older than anyone else in that store including all the other customers there. If it were not a gift for our teen age granddaughter, we too would not have gone there.

When I owned a business, I thought the loss of any customer was a failed effort by our business to accomplish what we were there to do. But after retirement, maybe I just do not understand the modern business world of sales in 2016------NOT!          teh

 
 
 
 
 

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K-Pauls restaurant in New Orleans

 “Patience, and I want it  right now!”

December 11, 2016

Day 101 of my retirement                           

For those who know me very well, you understand that I have trouble with my patience. I think I always did. I tend to look at situations and begin to plan my response several moves in advance. For example, when I drive I am looking not just at the vehicle in front of me but also the vehicles two or three vehicles in front of me so as to plan my actions.

I was listening to public radio today on my drive home from church. They were talking about patience while waiting in lines. The memory that came to me was an evening many years ago when my wife and I had gone to New Orleans Louisiana for a CEU conference. One evening we decided to take in a famous restaurant in the French Quarter. It was known as K-Paul’s Cajun Restaurant (Chef Paul Prudhomme) located at 413 Chartres Street. When we arrived on the block where the restaurant is located, we found a line of fifty or so guests waiting outside the door in an orderly line. I left my wife in line and walked to the door. I inquired of the host as to the approximate wait or should I have made a reservation. He said reservations were not needed and that my wait was somewhere between thirty and forty five minutes. I returned to my place in line and told my wife what I had found out, we agreed to wait it out for at least thirty to forty five minutes.

It’s funny; I no longer recall much about the meal or the dining experience itself. What I do recall is our wait in the line along with other travelers who were hoping that the meal would be worth the wait. As we stood in line on the shady side of this old street, groups of children came along to entertain us as we waited. One group played Cajun music and another group did some rather remarkable tumbling along the sidewalk. They brought their tip buckets and were well rewarded for their talents.

We eventually were seated at tables of 10 to 12 customers who were near us in line. I recall we all shard a taste of our order with others around the table. And we all forty five minutes ago were total strangers!

Conclusion about the day: Twenty or so years later, I recall nothing about the meal that evening. But I do recall with fondness the joy of patience as we all waited in line with strangers who for the evening became dinner partners with us. And I had no regrets about being delayed. I learned some patience that evening in the French Quarter!  teh

 

“The Loss of a Friend”

December 10, 2016

Day 100 of my retirement.                                           

I count personal wealth for myself in terms of friends not dollars. The closer the friend is to me the greater the wealth for me.

This week I learned of the loss of a friend. I cannot say this friend was of great value, but my loss is felt none the less. This friend was acquired through my regular patronage of an eating establishment that I am in at least once a week. Often, I may be there more frequently than that. This friend was the store manager there. This friend was very quiet and closed about themself. I learned most of what I knew out of my own observation, rather than what this friend told me.

This person had a strong work ethic. In fact I was not surprised to see them any day I was in the restaurant. It seemed that most days my friend was there “leading the charge”. No matter how busy this person was, they would always speak or wave to me. This person was quite thin. I assumed that word drove this person more than food. The business was always well staffed by persons who appeared well trained and responsive to the needs of the customer. I attributed this training to my friend.

Last Monday, I was in this eating establishment. I spoke to a person who I recognized as an assistant manager. I said, “I haven’t seen B---- lately” The person replied that B---- is no longer working there! I was a bit shocked. The person went on to say that B---- left after 6 years managing this store and 15 years with the organization. My informant went on to say that B---- told her that they wanted to travel a while and see the USA.

Conclusion about the day: I understand that B---- had no obligation to inform me that they were leaving. They did nothing wrong as my relation was limited to the time and place where we encountered each other. Yes, I had been friendly with this person more than two years. But I felt sadness that I could not say goodbye to this person. I have experienced other friends of mine who suddenly made a hasty departure from my life. I feel sad for the lack of connections at times such as that. Ending a friendship is a loss for two persons. I am sad that some people think it is only about them when that relationship comes to an end.          teh

 

Our  Christmas Tree                                                        ”Snow and Other Dirty Words”
 
December 9, 2016

Day 99 of my retirement.                           

I knew this day would come. I began to think about this day back in October when we were still having those summer-like days with the unseasonal temperatures in the eighties. I knew the day would come while I did not wish to have it occur.

Snow! Well, today it was snow flurries. Just enough snow to see it and be reminded that this would not be the last time I would see those white crystals of frozen precipitation this winter. It can interfere with my day or evening. Yes, I do enjoy photographing snow when the conditions are not too intense. But for the most part, I can do without the mess!

So, today as the snowflakes fell from the gray clouds that framed my view out the window, my wife said it was time to put up the Christmas tree. I keep the tree in one of our barns. It is one of those artificial trees that actually look quite real from a few feet away. It stays boxed up in two large plastic tubs most of the year. Now I bring the tubs to the house and we assemble the tree in its place of honor in the family room. We even turn on the stereo and begin to dream of “a white Christmas”! I’m not a Scrooge about Christmas. But I do think we extend the marketing of the holiday far beyond what it should be. We white wash the season so as to not offend anyone with the perception that Christmas is about the birth of the CHRIST child.

Conclusion about the day: The first snow had to come someday. It did not interfere with any of my plans for today. Tomorrow and Sunday are forecast to be warmer. Next week, we will once more have an opportunity for snow. I’m going to stay focused on today and the tree that now resides here in our family room!                    teh
 

 
The Manual High Marching Band of 1960
That's me in row 6, fourth from left.

"The Sound of Music!”

 

December 8, 2016

Day 98 of my retirement.                                            

I love music! I formed a close bond with music while still in elementary school. My mother once said that music was in my blood. You see my maternal grandfather was said to be quite a fiddler. He played the fiddle and led the music singing at Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church in Adair County KY. Up to the Easter Sunday in 1950 when he passed suddenly of a heart attack.

I was encouraged to play music on a French horn as early as age eleven. I played that instrument throughout high school and became pretty good at it. I played in the Manual High School Marching and Concert Bands as well as the orchestra. It was as a result of those organizations, I acquired a liking for all kinds of music. My music ranged from “pop” to country and even to the classical.

Today, I came across a video of a “flash mob” somewhere in Europe playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. It struck me how the music brought strangers together and crossed ages generations as well as nationalities and race. The universal smiles observed seem to indicate to me that music soothes much of what is wrong with our world today. Maybe the world just needs more music and less political diplomacy!

Conclusions about the day: Music can change me from the inside out. It can bring a smile to my face, a tear to my eye and even make my feet begin to move without my thinking about it. Music can lower my blood pressure and take away my hunger. Well maybe a little bit on the hunger issue!   teh

 

               Dawn of a new day 12/7/2016
 

         “Thought Provoking Questions”

 
     December 7, 2016

Day 96 of my retirement


Today, the day began with another beautiful sunrise (see attached). The start of a day filled with beauty and challenges.  I had scheduled a busy day of appointments involving medical visits and the usual responsibilities of home and vehicle ownership.  Nothing all that outstanding. Things that I knew were on my schedule and had been so for weeks or months.

I have now been retired more than three months. Today, I received two requests to return to my clinical practice. I was a bit surprised. I confess, it does stroke my ego a bit to feel still needed. The aftermath of my years of clinical practice still swirls around me. I stopped by my last office location today and heard about how I was missed there. I think those sentiments were genuine and not words to flatter me.

None the less, I have closed that chapter in my life. I am really now ready to move on to whatever comes next. The new projects on my “radar” are appealing to me. I am excited about the things I now plan to do.

Conclusions about the day:  I was not expecting the inquiries into my return to work being so stimulating and strong. I have completed that part of my life. It’s time to look forward. “No turning back, no turning back”!               teh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Memories”

December 6, 2016

Day 96 of my retirement

Today is a chilly and rainy day here on the farm in Shelby County KY. The result is my reluctance to get outside and do much. If I must go somewhere, I will. Otherwise, I will stay close to home if not inside all together.

Recently, my wife and I have been in our basement cleaning out boxes of “stuff”. We have slipped behind in discarding things we have not used in the past two years. I was told if you had not used something in two years, you likely would not really need it further.

As I was opening an old book, I came across an old black and white image from long ago. (See attached photo) It goes back to 1972 or 73. It was during the time I was employed by the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home in Palmetto Georgia. Palmetto is a suburb southwest of Atlanta. This was my first professional position after graduate school. I served as the assistant superintendent of a residential treatment center with about 140 children between the ages of six and nineteen years.

This old image is of some of the cottage fathers and other staff after a serious softball game on the fourth of July. This game was an extremely rare win by the staff over the resident teen age boys and girls. The score was 18 to 13 in favor of the staff. In the three years I was there, this was the only time the adults won. This included either in softball or basketball.               

My photo is not shown in this image. I was the photographer that hot July day. But I do recall vaguely getting a hit that afternoon. My moment to shine!

Conclusion about the day: Forty four years later, I still recall those days of my youth with great satisfaction and pleasure. Would I like to go back to those days?  No, I will leave it the way it is in my memory. A happy and rewarding time in my then very young career.               teh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

December 5, 2016

Day 95 of my retirement                              Weary muscles but successful day

I am amazed at how fast I have made the transition to retirement. Ninety five days and still counting! Today was another busy day with several things to get done.

I began my day with helping a person with special needs get moved into an ADA capable apartment. My wife along with five other persons moved this person in about four hours. When I was working full time, I could not have found time to assist with this project. But since I am retired, I was able to give a half day to helping. Lifting furniture and carrying boxes is not an easy chore for a person of my age. But I was able to get it done without any serious injury.

Later in the day after a shower, I went to my church and met a member who is going through a family crisis. I spent an hour interacting with this person. It was easy for me to be back in a counseling mode, even though this was done on a volunteer basis.

This evening, I feel a few sore muscles. But I am satisfied with my work today. Not every day do I need to use these muscles. But I want to be able to do these things when needed to do so.

 Conclusions about the day: Yes, I have weary muscles tonight but it was a successful day! Tomorrow, I will do other things that may not require so much lifting.          teh

 


December 4, 2014

Day 94 of my retirement.                             “To Die For---“

 

I’ve heard the phrase “To die for’ in countless situations. You know. That cake is “to die for”! Or the ride in that Corvette is “to die for”! Still other references have to do with persons of the opposite sex and their “to die for” appearance.

My friend Joe and I had a conversation not long ago about the thought of whether or not there are things or persons we would be willing to die for. My thoughts are that there are no material things I would die for. I remind myself that this life is a time and place of passing through. This is not my home. I am bound for a home that my God and eternal Father has prepared for me. So there is nothing here I will take with me to Heaven.

But the more provocative question is whether or not there is anyone I would die for. The thought of being willing to “take a bullet” for the President of the United States the way the Secret Service does causes me to wonder. My wife, my children? Yes and yes. My grandchildren? Absolutely! But what about friends, even close friends? What about someone you know but may not like what that person may do? These questions are hard for me to answer. I would have to be in that situation to know what I would do.

Conclusion about the day; I believe my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ chose to die for me. He is a friend like no other for me. If I were in a situation where I was given the choice to live and reject my Lord or die by claiming Him, what would I do? Can I say, I would die for my faith? I want to say yes. But I do not think I can answer for sure unless that time came. Then I hope I am certain I would. A difficult question for anyone to answer.          teh

 

.

                                                                   “Tired back, tired feet---“

December 3, 2016

Day 93 of my retirement.                                            

I have a tired back, tired feet and a sense of getting a lot done today!

First of all, I arose early for a Saturday morning. It was about five AM.  I have said before and continue to believe one of the marks of health in retirement is to maintain the same schedule of sleep and awakening time have attempted to do that since my retirement.

Today I met with my Gideon Camp at seven AM at Cracker Barrel. I came home to prepare breakfast for my wife and then spend a couple hours in our basement cleaning out a storage room. We hurried to take trash to the dump before it closed this afternoon. We then went to our grandson’s birthday party which was celebrated at the local Fire Department. It was a fun time seeing the fire equipment and hearing a fire fighter telling about the equipment. But we did stand a lot!

After the birthday party, my wife and I drove to our church to assist with the “Evening in Bethlehem”. My job was to make hot chocolate for two and a half hours’ worth of autos driving through the Bethlehem set which our church family created over the past two or three weeks. I know I assisted with the making of more than fifty gallons of hot chocolate. And I stood outside for the entire evening. We had an excellent crew of folks who created an orderly process of filling and serving the hot beverage along with cookies to each car as it entered the “set”.

Conclusion about the day:  My back and feet are indeed tired tonight. But I feel good about all I did and what I helped to accomplish today. Tomorrow is another day. For me, I think I will make it a day of rest!          teh
 

Whitten Psychological Services staff out for a holiday dinner together.

“Holiday Gathering with the Gang”

December 2, 2016

Day 92 of my retirement                                              

Today, I was invited to a holiday gathering at one of my favorite restaurants here in Shelbyville KY. There are several restaurants here in the county I like. This one has been consistent with their service and quality of food. The restaurant is called La Cocina De Mama”. (My Mother’s Kitchen) It is a good Mexican Restaurant.

The holiday gathering was arranged by the office manager at the office from which I retired ninety two days ago. How honored I was to be invited to attend this fun gathering. There was fun and good fellowship around the table. And many laughs that went well with the burritos and enchiladas.

I am well aware that I am many years older than most of the staff at this fine practice group. But I was made to feel welcome with this group of mental health practioners.

Conclusion about the day:  The Christmas season can bring out the best in all of us. Even after retirement, my colleagues at my prior practice location made me feel very much a part of this holiday gathering!

 

 
 “Holiday Greetings”
December 1, 2016

Day 91 of my retirement.                            

There are a few old traditions I find to my liking to hold on to. Traditions such as still driving an auto stick shift with “four on the floor”. Other traditions I enjoy are writing letters in my own hand writing to old friends. And still another tradition I hold on to is the sending of Christmas cards sometime during the month of December,

Now that I am retired, I do have more time to dedicate to card sending. Today was that day. I spent nearly five hours today preparing our cards to be sent. I’ll admit I have a fairly long list of recipients to whom I send cards. But I also try and personalize as many as I can by writing a note to accompany each card. I also try and choose the proper card and verse that I think is better fitting for that recipient.

But I also include a non-traditional story each year in my Christmas Card. The story is a composition I begin in September or October. I love to write about the memories of my childhood. I enjoy especially memories of my mother’s family who lived on the Green and Adair County border in the 1920-80’s in south Kentucky. My mother was from a large family. There are many resources I can turn to supplement my story information. I have an aunt and several cousins who provide me ample memories so that my stories are always based on detailed memories. These writings, in addition to being a story tradition at Christmas, it also is a means of writing our family story in order that it can be passed from generation to generation.

I must confess I felt a degree of relief when I had finished the cards late this afternoon. But I also enjoy reading those cards I receive each year. I’m not the only one who still sends Christmas Greetings!

Conclusion about the day: Holiday cards go back many years. According to Google, the first cards were sent by Sir Henry Cole in England in 1843. I’m not that old, but I am glad the tradition lives on!


 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
My retirement portrait.

                                                                   “Story telling”

November 30, 2016

Day 90 of my retirement                            

Today I attended a fund raising event sponsored by a mental health organization I once served for a number of years on its advisory committee/board. I even served as board chair for one year.

It was a nice event and afforded me the opportunity to see and visit with several people whom I used to serve with and know fairly well. Somehow, I had misunderstood that the event was a breakfast. As I had to get up early (5:30 AM) for my drive to Louisville, I was ready for some breakfast when I got there. I was wrong about breakfast. They had coffee, fruit and rolls. It was good, but I left the event still hungry.

As I drove back towards Shelbyville, I decided to stop at the Cracker Barrel on Blankenbaker and eat breakfast. It was now past 9:30AM. I ordered and received a good breakfast. I was well satisfied with my food and ate almost all of it.

As I paid the lady at the Cracker Barrel checkout, she inquired about my satisfaction with my food. I told her that I especially enjoyed the biscuits right out of the oven steaming hot! That’s all I said! She proceeded to begin her abbreviated “Life Story”! She talked about how she was working longer hours. How she did not have time for breakfast today. How she had gone to the gym today and worked out today with her personal trainer. How he had helped her so much. And how she was feeling in such better shape! As I left the restaurant, I felt I had been the recipient of a stranger’s life story. This happens to me quite often. I’m not sure why me? My wife says there is a tattoo on my forehead that says “Tell me your story”! It’s as though absolute strangers somehow recognize my past without my ever having said anything about my career in psychotherapy.

Conclusion about the day:  People have a story to tell. All people want someone to listen to their stories. If you offer a moment (or a cup of cold water) to a stranger they will accept your offer and share their story with you. People need a listening ear. Maybe, in my retirement, God still calls me to His service in this capacity!          teh


Brayden with grandfather (Pops)

 

 

 “God Bless the Children”

 
 

November 29, 2016                                        

Day 89 of my retirement

I have on occasions wondered if the children born in the past twenty years were being raised to be as well behaved as the children born in my youth. I understand the opinion of anyone person is likely a subjective one.

Recently, I had the occasion to gather new information regarding my question. I was waiting at a restaurant for a friend (see journal entry for November 28, 2016). I arrived five to ten minutes before my friend arrived. This restaurant has two doors for entry. One takes you directly to the counter where you place your order. The other takes you to the tables and chairs. Since I had arrived early, I decided to proceed to the tables and sit and wait until my friend arrived before going to the counter and placing our orders.

I had been sitting there checking my emails when a young lady maybe age 9 or 10 came over and stood by my table until I looked up and acknowledged her. She spoke in a very soft voice and said, “Mister, you have to go to the counter and place your order. They do not come to your table”. I smiled, and chuckled. I said, “Thank you, I know that. I am waiting for a friend to join me for breakfast.” She quickly turned around and departed as quickly as she had arrived.

I followed her progress back to a table nearby. There was seated her mother and what appeared to be a younger sister. The mother smiled at me and mouthed “I’m sorry”. I mouthed back, “It’s OK thanks!”

When my friend arrived a few minutes later, I observed the same young lady poke her mother to get her attention. She pointed to my friend’s arrival and smiled at me!

Conclusion about the day: It is not a good idea to generalize about any person or groups of people. We all are different. There are the good and those who are not so good. But I am of the conclusion that most kids are no better and no worse than kids of my generation. The news media is just more capable of showing us the troubled kids today!          teh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Two colleagues and spouses at a Friday Lunch

 “Keeping up with Old Friends”!               

November 28, 2016

Day 88 of my retirement                             

One of my concerns about my retirement was my thoughts about keeping up with old friends and colleagues. Having worked for forty eight years in the field of Mental Health both private and public is the connecting with many friends that I have retained for many years.

Throughout the latter years of my career, I attempted to keep in contact with professionals I have worked with over the years. I set aside Friday afternoons as lunch times I would often schedule with these friends. These persons were ministers, physicians, law enforcement persons, special education teachers and administrators of other mental health facilities that sometimes were in competition with my organization. I also especially enjoyed those occasions when I was able to have lunch with other clinicians like myself.

After I retired on September 1, I promised myself I would not change this part of my life. In the past three months, I have been able to have four dates with persons from the above groupings. My most recent was a breakfast meeting earlier today with a police officer who I have known for several years. We met at ZeggZ in Middletown. The topics of conversation can be quite varied. He may speak about the stress of law enforcement or the joys of his two daughters. I share my learnings about life after retirement. He always is interested in my son who also has a career in law enforcement. Though they have not to my knowledge ever met, I suspect they could become good friends.

Our lunch lasted over an hour. The time seemed to go far too fast. But he had an appointment with a court testimony. So we said goodbye right after we scheduled another breakfast in early January 2017.

Lessons learned today:  Keeping connected with old friends is essential for me even beyond retirement. I will do a better job in the future reaching out to these friends and colleagues.   teh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Part of our woodlot here on the farm.

"An Afternoon in the Woodlot"

 
November 27, 2016

Day 87 of my retirement.                              

When one retires, it becomes necessary to continue to do other chores that one did before they retired. For me, here on the farm, keeping a reasonable stock of firewood is a necessary essential going into the winter season.

We have a fireplace insert that is situated in our basement fireplace. We have owned the insert for many years. It serves as a backup source of heat during the winter months. We generally build a fire in the stove and continue to keep it going until sometime in late March. We fill the stove about two times in a twenty four hour period and shut down the damper. The heat generated adds heat to the basement which passively goes through our furnace duct work to warm our house several degrees without the furnace being used.

I heard on the weather report that we will have several days with fairly comfortable outside temperatures this week. Today, being one of those comfortable days, I suggested to my son-in-law that we begin to cut some fire wood. He also has a fireplace in their new home. They like a fire at their home as much as we do.

So after Church and lunch today, he came over. In about two hours, we cut and loaded a UTV and a pickup truck with blocks of wood. We cut ash and walnut trees. The ash had fallen recently and the walnut was collateral damage when the ash fell. We cut far more than we loaded. We will pick up the rest another time.

Conclusion about the day: There is an old saying that says home cut firewood warms you four times. The first time is when you cut it. The second is when you split it. The third time is when you stack it. And the last time is when you burn it. Well, two down, and two to go! I will sleep well tonight.          teh

 
 
 
 

My father and his lady friend in 1925

What a difference a day makes!

November 26, 2016

Day 86 of my retirement                                              

This weekend, my wife and I have been working on a much needed project. A project I insisted on putting off till I retired. I am now retired so there were no excuses to delay this project! Cleaning out the basement! Thus far, we have made a reasonable start on this task. You see, there are three rooms plus a two bay garage in our basement. We have made a dent in one room and the two bays of the garage. But there will be much more to do in coming weeks after the holidays.

Today, my wife called a certain box to my attention. The box was beneath two other boxes that also required examination. Both of the upper boxes contained china and crystal belonging to my paternal grandmother. We ran those through the dishwasher and repacked them in bubble wrap.

The box at the bottom looked suspicious! It contained papers and very old toys that I recognized as my own from preschool years. And also in the box was a stack of very old photos. Most of the images were of my children as preschoolers. That makes those images between thirty and forty years of age. I also discovered an old sleeve of images in a “Sutcliffe” photo wrapper. Sutcliffe was a sporting goods store that went out of business more than fifty years ago. They also did photo printing in the days before there was a print shop in every neighborhood.

Out of that wrapper fell nine photo images. A few I did not recognize the subjects. But there were two images that I quickly recognized. One was an image of my father at the age of not quite eighteen years. The back of the image said that the image was made in 1925. And my father has his arm around a lady looking about the same age. The lady is not my mother! She was my father’s “first love”. I actually met this person shortly after my father’s death in 2001. I went to her home at her request and we visited for several hours. She gave me another photo of my father (and her brother) beyond the attached image shown here.

I learned that they had gone to elementary and middle school together. They actually grew up as neighbors out in the country. They had maintained contact with each other all through their lives. Both had married someone else and had long marriages. (My parents were married 56 years). My mother knew and talked with this lady many times.

It is and was clear that my father cared for this lady as did she toward my father. She sent a nice bouquet of flowers to his funeral. She was physically unable to attend Dad’s funeral. I had the thought today of wondering how things would have been different if my father had married her instead of my mother.  I concluded my writing this epistle would then not have been!

Conclusions about the day: As is true with so many events in life, timing is everything. Just a day or so different and the rest of the story might have been entirely different. But we trust God's plan and His timing. Of that I am sure of!   teh
 
 
 
 
 
 

My grandmother Sallie Hedden on mothers day 1961
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Lessons to be shared”

November 25, 2016

Day 86 of my retirement              

I found myself thinking today about information I have gained in the past seventy years of living that my grandchildren may never know. Things like balancing a checkbook, making correct change, sending a letter in the mail and even cursive writing. My grandmother , Sallie Hedden tried to teach me some of that important life information before she passed when I was fifteen years of age,But the list of information I needed was far longer.

I was discussing with my son in law this morning about planting crops in the right "phases of the moon". He looked at me in a quizzical way when I told him that it is important to plant root vegetables in the “dark of the moon”. I explained that dark of the moon did not mean planting in the middle of the night. Rather I said that means you must have a Farmer’s Almanac or some source to tell you what phase the moon is in. Planting potatoes for example is best done during a “new moon”.

How did I know this? Well, I was taught by my neighbor Fronie Webb many years ago. Mrs. Webb, now passed on, was the mother of my neighbor, Tommy Webb. Mrs. Webb was an excellent gardener and always has a fine garden of her own. I listened to Mrs. Webb, and my gardens grew better and produced more fresh vegetables. But people do not care about such old traditions any longer!

Too bad! Because those old traditions fed our grandparents and parents for most of their lives. But our grandchildren may not always have access to such grand old traditions.

Conclusions about the day: Not everything old is bad. Not everything new is good! Some old traditions will be missed. By the way, I still get a thrill going through “four on the floor”! But some young folks do not even know what I am speaking about!Too bad!    teh
 
 
 
 

                                duPont Manual H.S. band 1960                           Thanksgiving Day 2016

         November 24, 2016

Day 84 of my retirement                             

My grandchildren are here today. One of the things they love to do in the morning is to watch cartoons on the Disney Channel. As their grandparents, we resist too much TV watching while at our house. We feel there are many more things for them to do that are more engaging and basis for the creation of powerful memories for them as well as for us.

None the less we allow some cartoon viewing. The other day, they were watching a cartoon program called “Little Einstein”. The program has a fairly predictable line that the show follows. Children solving some mysteries. According to the website, Leo, Annie, Quincy and June are the Little Einsteins. This preschool series is full of adventures that introduce kids to nature, world cultures and the arts. Each episode has a mission and journey of discovery that incorporates a celebrated piece of classical music and a renowned work of art or world culture. The Little Einsteins use their passion and talents to work together and solve challenges.”

On this particular day I was working at my desk near the children. They were quietly engrossed in the cartoon show. Then I began to realize the music melody in my ear. It was a melody that traced back to my early youth. It was the “Triumphal March from Aida” It is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Opera music on a kid’s cartoon show at this early morning hour? Yes, yes it was!

My activities stopped. I sat there humming the familiar melody. Where and when did I first discover and appreciate this classic music? High school! I was in the concert band, marching band and orchestra at duPont manual High School for four years. It was there while I played French horn that this wonderful piece of music first joined my memory.

Now, so many years later, the music now takes up residence in the memories of my grandchildren. Yes there is a wide range of other types of music today. Rap, hip hop, country, rock and so on. But in my heart, I do hope the grandchildren of mine, all four, will find the beauty and love for the classical melodies I first discovered as a young teen. And those melodies thrill me as much today as they did back at Manual High!

Conclusions about the day: Music is a language for all ages. It speaks a universal language that touches the very heart and soul. I am glad that my younger grandchildren discovered and enjoy “Little Einsteins” and the music of Vivaldi, Verdi, Bach and Mozart! I still do as well!   teh

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

November 23, 2016

Day 83 of my retirement

“Men Working Together”

My son-in-law came by this morning after an early date with a tree stand during deer hunting season. He ate a late breakfast and offered to accompany me to the recycling center later in the day. I said that sounded good.

After delivering the recycle stuff to the Shelby County Center, Chris said he needed to stop at Lowes. It seemed that their microwave had died this morning. So we stopped and purchased a new microwave oven. I noted to Chris that we could get the oven installed for $99.00. We both laughed and concluded we could save the money and do it ourselves.

We stopped at Ken-Tex Barbecue for lunch before returning to his house to install the oven. I joked with Chris about the instruction book. But somewhere along the way, we both were looking at the instructions repeatedly as we worked to install the new oven. We attached the oven three times before it was in place as we both agreed that it should be done. Our quick install took two and a half hours to finally get completed. We both wanted this project to be done before my daughter /Chris’ wife to get home from the office.

Well it was done with twenty minutes to spare! And all worked on the new unit. It looked quite good and there was little evidence of what we had done all afternoon.

Conclusion about the day: That $99.00 installation charge might have been something we should have given a second thought to. But after all, we take away the fond memory of father and son-in-law spending an afternoon together as men working together!

 
 
 
 

My college graduation photo
a week before we married.

 “The Best of Times and the Worst of Times”

November 22, 2016

Day 82 of my retirement.                              

 Charles Dickens began the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities with this description of London in the eighteenth century. I read it the first time in high school as I suspect did you. It was one of those lengthy reads that at the time I found little of redemption for this reader. No fast autos or excitement with which I could connect as a teen male.

 I noted on the calendar today’s date and the thought of how I remember this day fifty three years ago. I have very strong recollection of hearing the voice of CBS news reporter Walter Cronkite interrupting the regular programming to give the announcement of shots being fired at the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas Texas that afternoon. Then I heard a short time later the shattering emotional announcement by Mr. Cronkite that John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated. What an unthinkable emotional “atomic bomb” for all Americans that Friday afternoon.

That same evening I had planned my first date with the pretty young lady who had agreed to go bowling with me. How lucky I had felt when she said yes. I had asked her more than a week before half way expecting she would decline my offer. After the shooting, I called her again to confirm if she wished to keep our date or cancel the plan. When I spoke by phone, she immediately said yes she would still go out with me.

Our date was an absolute failure as romantic evenings go. Everything was closed including bowling alleys, Frisch’s, Jerrys and even “The Ranch House”. So we drove around and listened to funeral dirge music and talked a little.

I drove her home early (by 9:30 PM) and asked her if I could make it up and take her out the next weekend. She declined the offer. At the time she did not tell me that she already had a date that weekend with an acquaintance of mine. About six months later we had our second date. And that was the beginning of our decision to plan our lives together. Following our joint graduation from college, we were married one week later. It was four years and eight months after that fateful day in November in Dallas.

Conclusions about the day: The best of times and the worst of times in the same day? There are things in life that we are not always able to determine which column in which we place that memory or event. Does it belong in the “best” column or the “worst” column? Where do you place a president’s death and a first date with the girl who would later agree to spend the rest of her life with me? I’m going to choose the best column. But one thing is certain. November 22, 1963 is a day that I will never forget as the historic and memorable day it turned out to be for me.   teh

 

 
The Keltner family with eight children.My mother is first row left.

“An Annual Holiday Tradition”

 
 

          November 21, 2016

          Day 81 of my retirement .             

In the latter years of my career, I have found pleasure in writing. Writing for me is, creating pictures with words. The pictures I enjoy creating are often pictures in my memory from years of my childhood now sixty or more years ago.

Nine years ago, or there about, I began writing an annual Christmas Story to include with our Christmas Greeting cards. I did not think too much about why I wrote the story but did try and keep the basic facts so as to provide for the younger reader a brief description of some elements of the Christmas season of my youth. As my father’s family was quite small, most of the family gatherings at Christmas involved my mother’s family which was quite large. My maternal grandparents were both widowed early in their first marriages. When they married the second time to each other, they proceeded to have six children. All total, ten children with their own kids and spouses would be a part of my childhood memories at Christmas. The attached photo is of my maternal grandparents made around 1930. My grandparents are in the center of the image surrounded by children and one son-in-law. My mother is little girl in sailor dress in the front row.

Today I wrote the first draft of what will be my Christmas story for this year. I hope to get the cards addressed with story placed inside the envelope by this weekend. Time will tell if I succeed. My story this year will be about the Christmas dinner my Grandmother would host on the Sunday after Christmas when all the family would try to come to celebrate this Holy Holiday with family and kin. I will share my Christmas story on this Christmas Day this year.

Conclusions about the day; One of the joys of retirement is my freedom and time to write stories when I feel inspired to write. Today was one of those inspiring days.

 


             Oriole at my feeder.

"Gee, Ain't it Funny How Time Slips Away"

 

November 20, 2016

Day 80 of my retirement              

Country Singer Willie Nelson wrote the words to the song “How Time Slips Away” in 1961. It was recorded by Billy Walker that same year. It became a hit on the country top 25 songs of that year. Later it was re-released by countless other singers including the likes of Ray Price, The Supremes, Elvis Presley and George Jones. The lyrics speak to the rapid passage of time for all of us. Especially have I observed that phenomena since September 1 and my retirement.

This afternoon, I was sitting at my desk looking at the winter birds that seem to have today discovered our bird feeding station. Maybe that is because several days ago, we began again to put out thistle seeds and black sunflower seeds in all of our feeders. These birds will remain near our feeders all winter and spend their time watching for my replenishing the seed supply daily or nearly that often.

As I sat here this sunny but chilly afternoon, I realized that my retirement is eighty days old. It is funny how quickly those days have slipped away! I recall how slowly, it seemed that the days passed prior to retiring. I counted the days but they moved so slowly in July and August. But now, the days seem to fly!

Part of the speed of time is the fact that I remain busy. Part is my focus on countless projects and small jobs here on the farm as we prepare for winter. And the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year!

Conclusions about the day: I must stay focused on the projects which I wish to complete daily and weekly. The value of the day is measured in what I completed, not what I wished to complete.

 
 
 
 
 

 
My Buttermilk Pie.

               "It Must have Been Something I Ate"

November 19, 2016

Day 79 of my retirement.

As a child, my mother insisted at an early age that I be able to take care of myself. That included doing my own laundry, ironing, keeping my check book balanced, making a bed and doing basic cooking.

As a teen, I railed a bit at such expectations being placed upon me. But eventually, I felt some pride in being able to fry an egg without burning it! Other culinary skills arrived later. But all I really wanted to know how to do was be able to drive the family car by myself.

I got married at the age of twenty three. I was in graduate school the first years of our marriage. My wife worked full time while I attended classes. I recognized that the delegation of labor around our apartment was unequal and I thought it appropriate that I offer to do more than I had been doing. Since I could fry an egg, I suggested that if she would cook two meals a day, I would try and cook breakfast!

After a few days, fried eggs began to be tiring and she wanted more. So, I began to learn how to prepare other breakfast foods. As the years passed, I became accomplished at cooking most any breakfast fare you might see in a restaurant. But there were a few dishes I liked best. Homemade cinnamon rolls, cheese grits casserole, sawmill gravy with biscuits, cinnamon fried apples, to mention only a few.

In our forty eight years of marriage, I have become the breakfast cook at our house. My son has followed in his Dad’s footsteps when it comes to breakfast cooking. I do not claim to be an accomplished cook beyond the breakfast menu.

But today was a cold, cloudy day. Not a great day to be outside. I told my bride, I thought I would make some vegetable beef soup. I have collected several recipes I keep in my computer. I found my soup recipe and set about making it. Along the way, I decided to make a couple buttermilk pies for dessert. Then I decided the soup needed a pan of cornbread. And so dinner was done. I’m not sure what came over me today. Maybe it was something I ate for breakfast!

Conclusion about the day: Times have changed since my teen years. The roles of men and women have blended in the home. Being able to cook does not threaten my “manhood”. It does allow me to continue to feel that I have a marriage that is balanced and I do not take my wife’s work for granted. Now that we both are retired, we continue to have a relationship that is 50/50.     teh

 
 
 

Type text here.
Sweet Gum with "gum balls"

"Old Digs"

November 18, 2016

Day 78 of my retirement                             

Yesterday, I made my occasional stop at my last place of employment. This was with Whitten Psychological Services here in Shelbyville. I practiced there for about 17 months. That actually is not a very long time considering I worked at the Norton Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry for more than twenty five years.

My visit to the Whitten office was initially to pick up a check for services that were collected during the previous month. I had received an email yesterday that I had a check awaiting my pick up. I arrived there about eleven fifteen and went to the business office where Susan had my check waiting. My business that brought me there was complete at that time. But I felt in no hurry to leave.

The office staff as well as clinicians were and still are some of the most caring professionals I have been privileged to work with. They seemed to enjoy my visit as much as I enjoyed being there. I have a good relation with Mike in particular. He seems to seek me out when he hears my voice in the beautiful restored Victorian structure. I have many years of management experience which he seeks to tap into when I am there. I enjoy being able to offer some ideas based on my own experience. It is stimulating for me to interact with him and see the other clinicians with whom I worked prior to my retirement at the end of August.

Conclusions about the day: My life has moved on since my retirement. I feel no desire to go back to practicing again as I did in the past. But old colleagues are still a joy to interact with. I will look forward to dropping in again on beautiful days when the sun is shining and the last leaves of summer have turned yellow but hold tightly to their branches still another day. But truth is I will drop in whatever the weather or temperature.  I still find joy visiting in the “old digs” with good friends and better memories!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
             November 17, 2016

                  A colorful side path                      Day 77 of my retirement                   “Teacher, Teacher!”

A lesser known fact about me is the fact that while in college; I trained to be a teacher. A Biology teacher that is. I completed all my required training to teach Biology including doing my “student teaching” at Louisville Male High School in 1967-68. I taught high school Biology five periods a day. I received my license to be a teacher within the state of Kentucky.

The year I taught a male, I began to see a need for more than showing high school students the finer points of nature and a little health thrown in. I saw the need to be able to deal with conduct and behavioral issues I was seeing in the classroom.  Just as we were getting married, I told my bride that I wanted to see if I could get into graduate school and learn about counseling!

That was to be the beginning of the next four years of graduate education at both the Baptist Seminary and the University of Louisville. By the time I had completed two Master Degrees; my focus took me away from the classroom to the clinician office. I never went back to the school as a teacher.

There have been times that I felt my education as a secondary school teacher was lost or wasted. After all, I never used that training to teach anyone about anything. Uh---wait a minute! What about teaching Bible Study at my church the past twenty or so years? And what about my leading the photography group today at my church? It does feel a bit like being a teacher after all.

Conclusion about the day: We all are complex people. We take a path in life that leads to a career. The career sometimes has side paths that we may explore from time to time. Those side paths do not end the career path but rather offer some side trips that give us a different view of the life we live. Today’s view was very pretty!    teh

 
 

My salad at Stony River
 

November 16, 2016

 

Day 76 of my retirement                              “A Four Course Dinner”

 

Last night my wife and I were the guests of a business I work with related to my retirement. We were invited along with several other couples I did not know to the Stony River Grill at The Paddock near Prospect KY.

We were seated in a private room and served four courses of a wonderful meal. The first course included two appetizers for our sampling. One was a delicious crab cake. The second was a beef composition that was served in a pastry shell. It too was fine eating. The second course was gigantic house salad filled with several different lettuces, cheese, bacon, tomatoes and some very tasty croutons on top. The salad was large enough to make a meal of it alone.

The third course was a thick filet mignon served as “Filet Oscar style” with crab meat, blanched asparagus tips and béarnaise sauce. It was accompanied with garlic mashed potatoes. The fourth and final course was a carrot cake that was three layers and stood about eight inches tall.

There was way too much for us to eat and enjoy ourselves. I sampled each course but did not attempt to eat nearly all that was on my plate. We did ask for a go box for our meat serving and ate it today for lunch. A memorable dinner served perfectly by waiters and waitresses who were at the top of their game!

Now I am a country boy. And a four course dinner does not impress me so much these days. I found myself amused at the fact that my waitress kept resetting my silver for each course. Some silver, I never touched. Yet it was efficiently taken away without any mention that it was being done. Someone had quite a job just washing silverware!

Conclusion about the day: We in America waste a lot of food. We spend enough money on meals out that would feed many of the world’s hungry every day. I feel guilty about how much my host spent on our meals. I feel bad that I physically could not eat all that was served to me. And I remind myself, that I would have been just as happy with a meal of bean soup and cornbread. But last night it was four courses and bean soup waits for another night!           teh
 
 
 
 
 


 
My mother and father in October 1985 

 

November 15, 2016

Day 75 of my retirement                               “Socks and Personality Traits”

Do you remember “tube socks”? I remember wearing them as a teen. They were usually white with a band of color around the upper end of the sock. The sock had no heel. It was literally a sleeve of thread woven as a round tube with the toe sewn shut. They were popular and relatively cheap in the 1950-60’s.

I was talking with my friend Joe today at “the Barrel” about memories of “tube socks” and the fact that my socks seemed to wear out at the heel first. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because the heel was not made in the construction of the sock. Maybe that was their engineering weakness. I feared that at school, I would be asked to remove my shoes for some reason and there would be a hole in the toe or heel of my sock. My mother always bleached my socks when she did the laundry. Ever since I had athletes foot in middle school. I think she wondered if she caused the skin irritation by not washing my socks properly. I know that was not the reason. Rather it was the dirty shower floors in the boy’s locker room. They always were gross with organic and non-organic materials I can only imagine.

Because my mother bleached my socks, I do not think my socks were destined to a long wear! But I vividly recall my mother darning my toe-less or heel-less socks at night time after the dinner dishes were washed and stacked in the cabinet. She would sit and use a spent light bulb to form the sock around the bulb. Then she carefully used white thread to mend the sock. In those days, I felt some embarrassment that I had to wear socks that were darned. Today I think how loving my mother was to do that for me!

In my later years, I think I resolved the mystery in my mind as to why my mother did such chores at night rather than sitting and listening to the radio, watching TV with her family or just relaxing. She needed a purpose in her time. Just sitting was not enough. She was always busy. She remained this way till a week or two before she passed away in 2001.

I am like her in that regard. I am more content with myself when I have a goal, project, or task to do. I find my comfort much greater when at a social gathering helping in some way the party host just doing something. Just like my mother.

Conclusion about the day: We are no matter how much we resist the thought, much like the parents from which we came. Maybe the best thing to do is to celebrate the good sides of our parents and not fight the thought!          teh

 

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November 14, 2016

Day 74 of my retirement                              “A Walk in the Woods”

This afternoon, I suggested to my wife that it might be a good day to get outside and enjoy the beauty of this late autumn weather. She agreed to go along. We set out for Anchorage KY and the walking trail we have hiked a number of times before.

Our walk on the spacious trail is a total of two miles and is laid out with mile markers along the way to tell us how far we have come and how far remains. The trail is paved for the walker, bicyclist and even those in wheelchairs can navigate this beautiful course.

The trail is a circular loop that takes us through some old woods as well as meadows that earlier in the summer were filled with Kentucky native wildflowers. It is also quite common to see Eastern Whitetail deer that make their homes in this rolling countryside on the edge of metro Louisville. The path crosses two streams. The bridges are wide and very safe. Parts of the trail also come to the banks of Willow Lake, a small body of water that often is a layover for migratory birds passing through on their journeys north or at this time, south.

Today as we walked, we had the trail almost totally to ourselves. Often we meet other walkers sometimes alone and other times with family and canine companion(s).

Conclusion about the day: A walk in the woods is more than an effort is staying reasonably fit. It is also a time to be with someone you love and enjoy their company. It is also a time to talk, listen and look around you at a world that is preparing for winter.          teh

 
 
 

 

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November 13, 2016

Day 73 of my retirement                              “Planting a Tree”

 

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” At least that is what the old Greek Proverb said. Today I planted a tiny Norway spruce tree in our yard.

 

I thought about the tree planting. I wondered how tall this tree might reach in my lifetime. That is a new and unusual thought for me. But then when you talk about the life of a spruce tree and think in terms of forty or fifty year life span. Well, as a man of seventy one years, more or less, the thought of forty years exceeds my realistic life expectation.

The Norway spruce tree is one of my favorite evergreen trees. The tree is a sturdy tall tree that looks amazing when snow rests on its branches. I planted it in a spot where it can grow tall and wide without being crowded by any other trees or obstacles. It will grow along my driveway where I can watch it grow and allow me to recall the day I planted it.

 

Conclusion about the day: Tree planting is part of how I can make our world a little prettier as well as making the world a bit healthier. I have no regrets that this tree may live much longer than I will be here to enjoy it. Maybe my grandchildren will someday sit in its shade!          teh

 
 
 
 

 
 
 

November 12, 2016

Day 72 of my retirement                              “Deer Season”

The deer season for 2016 modern gun hunting began today. The two week season is the time of year that hunters are allowed to hunt the eastern white tail deer that now is so abundant in the forests of Kentucky.

Here on our farm, the sudden appearance of these majestic creatures does not create the excitement that twenty years ago would be created. In those days, any sighting of a deer was an unusual occurrence. Now, it is almost a daily event. The farm is a family asset that has been a part of our family history since 1864. My wife and I moved to this land on October 15, 1977. We built the initial part of our home in what was then a soy bean field. We never saw white tail deer on the farm prior to 1990. In the past twenty five years, we have had the influx of deer, wild turkeys, coyotes and the terribly invasive black headed vulture. It is likely that within the next few years, we may also encounter the black bear as they migrate from the mountains of east Kentucky and Tennessee.

A large white tail buck was harvested today on our farm. I suspect it was the buck we saw every evening in late summer eating apples and pears in our orchard. The large male deer was a beautiful specimen with a large eight point rack. My feelings about the kill were mixed. On the one hand, we must control the growing population here in Shelby County. On the other hand, my deer hunting remains my preferred mode of shooting these beautiful deer. I shoot them every chance I get with my 35 millimeter camera. I aim for a head shot. When I finish shooting, both I and the deer can encounter each other another day.

Conclusions about the day: Nature can be cruel. Our ancestors who dealt with much wild game we no longer see, such as bear, elk, mountain lions, were in an era when man was not always at the top of the food pyramid.          teh

 
 
 
 
 


 November 11, 2016

Day 71 of my retirement                                              "An Afternoon with my Wife"

This Friday was another beautiful autumn day. The yellow maple in the yard was a beautiful color in the morning sunlight. Today, I had a few projects to do around the house. I was fortunate to be able to get them done by mid-morning. I told my wife that I had completed the projects I had needed to get done today. She told me she wanted to go to Louisville today. Then she asked me if I would like to go along.

Let me first say, my usual reply to her shopping inquiries is to politely decline and say I will just stay at home and do things here on the farm that always are available to do when I have a few hours to spend at home. She told me she needed to go to Wal-Mart, Sam’s, Sears and the public Library in Middletown. She also said she was planning to go to Moby Dick in Middletown for a fish sandwich. I confess, Moby Dick does have good fish sandwiches. I had not had one in quite a while.

I replied that I would be interested in going along. Her reply was, “Are you sure?” I said yes. She seemed pleased that I wanted to go along. The stops at Wal Mart, Sears and the library were uneventful. We stopped at the Moby Dick store and had two delightful fish sandwiches between us. Then we went to Sam’s.  Our afternoon went very smoothly and we did not get stuck in any traffic.

 We picked up our grandson, Brayden from his daycare in Louisville and brought him home with us. Although he is not quite three years of age, conversations with him can range from talking with a three year old who wants his way all the way up to a young man in elementary school who forever wants to know all he can about most everything and anything. He is a ray of bright sunshine no matter how cloudy the day!

Conclusions about the day: Retirement allows me greater latitude in what I do most any day. Spending time with a best friend doing things you do not routinely do can still be day of joy for both of you. Yesterday, it was a couple old guy friends for lunch. Today, it was shopping with my wife. Tomorrow? Who knows? But this I do know. Spending time with those you care about can never be considered time that is not profitable.here.   teh
 
  

 
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November 10, 2016

Day 70 of my retirement.                                             “Frost”

I knew the day would soon be here. Last PM as I watched the late news, I suspected today would be that day. I was awakened early today by the sounds of the furnace coming on. That sound reminded me it was likely chilly outside. Once it was light enough to go outside, I walked the length of our deck. There on the railings as well as on the plants in the hanging baskets was the evidence that the chill of winter was at hand. Frost! A fairly heavy white layer of ice crystals was present across all the surfaces of the deck. It was delicate as I laid my finger on the cold white surface. The white crystals of frost quickly became a spot of moisture beneath my finger’s warm touch.

The frost reminds me that the growing season of 2016 has come to an end. It is now time to cut down and rake up all that remains in our kitchen garden. We have for some time enjoyed the tomatoes, the Irish potatoes as well as the sweet potatoes from our small garden. Now we measure the use of the home grown produce and combine it with that which we purchase in the big stores so as to enjoy the flavor still longer of that which was picked when it was truly ripe in the garden.

Frost reminds us of the soon to be present snowflakes that accompany the season of staying near the wood fire in our basement family room. A time to reflect on the past season and anticipate the spring time that will eventually come to the farm here in Shelby County. It signals the time when we begin to tap the maple trees and collect the amber juice of the still colorful maple trees after the leaves have all dropped. That juice will some winter morning become maple syrup that will cover a hot pancake in our kitchen to break the cold winter fast of that frosty morning.

These cool autumn mornings are another part of retirement that I will enjoy. I can watch the warm sun sneak above the horizon and slowly melt that white glaze that was mysteriously painted on the landscape during the dark of night. That white layer of crystals will soon be gone entirely. Gone until some other night not so far away when once more it returns to cover the land with the preview of winter.

Conclusions about the day: The chill of autumn is as much a part of God’s plan for you and me as was the warm breezes of springtime, now only about 120 days away!   teh

 
 
 
 

 

November 9, 2016

Day 69 of my retirement                             

  The Day after the Election

     The sun rose as usual today. I cannot say I was surprised or in any way not expecting it to do so. The cows in the pasture seemed unaffected by all the hoopla. But some folks in reaction to the election yesterday seemed to believe that life would change as a result of a political upset greater than any I have seen in my lifetime.

     This Presidential election was much different than others. The mud- slinging was beyond reason for both major candidates. I guess, we the people, are somehow drawn to such antics. I found it distasteful. I also find speaking over someone else highly unpleasant for me as an audience.

     Come January 20, the President will have four years to show any change or fulfill any promise made while campaigning for election. If he does make changes as those who voted for him want, then his election has merit. If on the other hand, it is business as usual after January 20, then the people I hope will elect someone else in the next election.

     But it is refreshing how the government in this country can have a complete transition of power in just a day and there is no military uprising or rioting in the streets. My retirement has been smooth thus far. The adjustment has been fairly easy. Actually it has been easier than I anticipated. I wonder if Mr. Obama will find his retirement as smooth a transition.

     Conclusion about the day: Life goes on. Some things we cannot change must be allowed to pass quietly from our daily existence. I choose to focus on those I can change.  teh