You’ve Gotta Have Hope ~

Wordless Wednesday

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who follow a practice called Wordless Wednesday.    One day a week they post only photos.  Sometimes a picture really is worth 1,000 words.  I was intrigued by the idea, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I had a wee bit of trouble with the “wordless” part, so here’s my version… almost wordless Wednesday.  Since my 64th birthday is sneaking up on me later this month, this one’s about Hope through the ages.

In my 40’s, Hope came in a jar…

In my 50’s, Hope merged with Wisdom…In my 60’s, I still have Hope, but I really need a Miracle…As for my 70’s and beyond, should I be lucky enough to get there?  I think I’ll throw Hope and caution to the wind and let it all hang out.  Something like this…

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File that in the “When I’m Dead File” ~

To be honest, I don’t have a When I’m Dead File – yet.  But apparently I need one and apparently, as someone who has continued to live with my head planted firmly in the sand, I don’t give as much thought to the “when I’m dead” side of life as I should… at my age, because I’m, you know… getting OLD.  My kids already know not to expect any sudden windfalls when I leave this planet.  In fact, my standard line is something I stole from an old Moms Mabley joke I heard on TV 25 years ago… “It won’t be a happy day for anybody when I die”.  I used to threaten them with talk like “You get the car payment and you get my Nordstrom bill”.  Funny then.  Now, maybe not so much.

This topic came up while driving in the car the other evening with the hubs and my sister who’s visiting from Saipan.  Sis says, casually from the back seat, that she already has lists for me – all over her house.  What do to when she’s dead lists.   La La La La…hmmmm.  I do not want to discuss the possibility of either of us having to sort through the remains of each others’ life.  Too morbid.  Not now.  We’re on our way to dinner for God’s sake.  But she got me thinking and that always leads to trouble.  It’s a whole new world, too, with everything we now do online.  Think about it.   Online banking and bill paying are one thing, but even more important – who takes care of your place in the social media world when you are no longer around to post your own updates on Facebook or Linked In?  How do you gracefully shut down someone’s page and is that even possible if you can’t access their profile?   Does that person live on in Facebook limbo for all time?  Who sends out your last blog post?  Believe it or not, I could not find an answer to these questions when I googled them.   So, add this to the list…

My online search did come up with a great article on the Second Act blog entitled “10 Things For Your When I’m Dead File”.  Some of the things on the list were pretty obvious but, if you’re like me, it’s the little details that you tend to gloss over.  This list is a great reminder (or starting point for some of us). It was definitely the little kick-in-the-pants I needed to start getting my own house in order.

So, I’m working on a plan.  Here’s what I have so far ~

1.  Downsize now.  That’s where the whole “If it doesn’t fit in the backpack and rollie, do we really need it” idea first came into play.   How many blenders, waffle irons and crepe makers that we use once a year do we really need?  I posted about our trip to the Goodwill a while back and we’re still going strong in this area.

2.  Start my own When I’m Dead File.  This file should contain everything from the obvious (Will) to the little things you don’t even think about (gym membership) and everything in between.  The 10 Thing List is now printed and taped on the wall in my office.

3.  Have the Talk.  Let my important people know where The File is and, (note to self) for goodness sake, keep it up to date.

Whew!   Frankly, I’m exhausted just thinking about all of this but I’m so glad my sister brought it up.   It’s not much, but it is a start and a plan where no plan had ever been before.  And, it is much better to get started now, while I can still remember where we’ve stashed all those important papers and numbers.

Oh, and one more thing.  If you see my picture pop up on Facebook long after I’ve left this life, please leave me a comment and let me know what’s new.  Or at least click “Like”.  You never know…

Have you seen my glasses?

Or my car keys, or my book, or, or, or…   Oh yes, we’ve entered a new era at Casa Sims.  The one where you can’t remember what you did two minutes ago.  Like where the hell did I put my car keys because they certainly are not in the special car key compartment in my purse where I always put my car keys.  Except, apparently not this time.  So, the search begins – feel around in the giant purse I use because it holds all of the important things I must carry with me at all times.  Pull out the seemingly endless stream of tiny paper receipts, semi-used but still good in an emergency napkins, glasses (several pairs), wallet, phone, camera + + +.  It’s all there, but not the keys.  Search some more.  Upstairs.  Downstairs.  All over the house…no keys.  Try the purse one more time.  Voila.  They were there all the time.  Hiding from me in the one tiny corner I missed.  Hubby gets that certain smile on his face but keeps his mouth shut.  Smart man.  He knows.  It’s the same thing with the glasses.   Keys, glasses, glasses, keys.  Lost then found.  Only to be lost again.  Repeat daily.

Then there are the new and interesting conversations.  They go something like this…
Hubs, sitting in his recliner chair watching TV:  “What’s the name of that guy I like?”
Me: “What guy?”  Hubs:  “You know, the one on that TV show”  Me:  “What TV show?”  Hubs:  “The one with the guy I like.  I don’t remember the name …”  Me:  “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about!”  Hubs:  “Ok. Nevermind.”  Rinse and repeat.

It gets even better when we are both on the same wrong track.   Off we go to the grocery store.  Hubby and I.  Park the car.  Walk into the store having an animated conversation.  That’s when we suddenly stop, look at each other and, in unison:  “What was it we came in here for?”  I kid you not.

Is it just us or does this happen to everyone at some point?  Does grey in your hair automatically lead to mass dropping of functional brain cells?  Maybe…a little.  But I’m convinced that all this forgetfulness is Mother Nature’s not so subtle reminder to slow down.  Pay attention.  And for God’s sake, find our sense of humor.   Because it is funny.   We can’t control getting older.  Like it or not, it’s out of our hands.  But we can sit up, slow down, pay attention, live the details of every moment and savor the things we do remember.  Laugh out loud.  At ourselves.  Laughter is medicine.  And quit worrying about not finding the car keys.    The time to worry is when you can no longer find the car.

Now, where did I put my glasses?

Hicksville Here We Come ~

I’ve been taking a couple of mini vacation trips with my backpack, my rollie and my lovely family.  I love summer!

Until I’m back to regular posts, here’s another fun and unique travel option that was sent to me recently from my very LA hipster niece.  She knows all the cute and quirky places to stay in California and this is certainly one to add to the travel list.  If you’re traveling in Southern California, you might want to spend a night (or two) in Hicksville.Hicksville is a  “motel” resort with lodging comprised of themed trailers with names like The Fifi, The Pioneer, The Integratrailor, and The Sweet.  It’s located in Joshua Tree, but you won’t see an address on their website.  That’s because you can’t drive by…you only get the address after your reservation has been confirmed.  It’s the ultimate secret getaway.  But wait, it gets better – the whole place, including the swimming pool, runs on solar power.  Their amenities include the pool, a Tipi with a firepit, horseshoes, darts, table tennis, archery and of course a bar.  All the comforts of home.  Well, that probably depends on where you call home, but it would definitely be a great stay for a night or two of fun in the outdoors and under the stars in the California desert. These folks really “circled the wagons” in style.

Thanks Melissa!

Girl’s Night!

Why do women live longer than men?  Simple answer – girlfriends.  Women nourish other women.  We spend time together talking, laughing, sharing and sometimes crying – it raises the endorphins (good happy juice) and reduces cortisol (the bad stress hormone).  Throughout history it seems women have banded together in groups of some sort.  The kitting circles and quilting bees of the past have become Girl’s Night or Spa Day of the present.   Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family...  I agree wholeheartedly which is why, when the call came out over email a week ago “Time for Martinis with the MAM’s?” everyone in our little group replied with a resounding YES!!  I was so ready for a little girl time and apparently I was not alone.

This particular group of crazy wild women have been meeting every few months since the late 90’s when we all worked at a certain high tech company just a few miles south of Portland.  It all started innocently enough…interoffice email…Hey, I need an attitude adjustment lunch, can you go?  Sure!  What time?  NOW!  Oh, Okay, I’ll drive.  Back then, attitude adjustment came in the form of a couple of frosty Margaritas and several bowls of chips and salsa at a local chain restaurant – not a dining star in sight – but it got the job done and we were back in our offices feeling much more relaxed for another afternoon of meetings at the “meeting capital of the world”.  For a couple of us that evolved into swilling several glasses of wine before attending drawing class in the evening.  She’s a fantastic artist.  I needed liquid refreshment in mass quantity to put my inner art critic into a semi-stupor.  It was fun.  It was still girl time.

Today, it’s kinda more like old girl time, but after we get past the first few minutes of hugs and comparing wrinkles, sags where nothing had sagged before… (I won’t bore you with the rest), we forget that we are two retired, one about to be retired and one who hopes to be able to retire sometime in the not too distant future 60-somethings and we become those same wild and crazy gals who still get looks and laughs from other tables for our sometimes bawdy behavior.  But, really having this kind of fun is serious business.  It soothes the soul, recharges the batteries, lowers the blood pressure and brings back that girlish glow by the end of the evening.  In short, it’s just what the doctor ordered.  I’ll drink to that!

And, here’s one I forgot to tell last night … You have reached the breast self-examination hotline.  Please press 1 now.   Now press the other one.     

Zucchini-tini ~

Yes, it’s finally summer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.   Community gardens, urban farm plots and farmer’s markets are bursting with delicious bounty.  It’s my absolute favorite time of year.  Berries of all kind, cherries sweet and tart.  My fingertips are stained a dark purplish hue from July through August.  I always have big plans for the box loads of berries I buy every week, but mostly I eat them all by myself before they make it into a pie or cobbler or jam.  Last year the hubs and I did manage to distill a very tasty Framboise.  A liqueur made with vodka and fresh raspberries.  This year we’re going big and bottling it for Christmas gifts.  Way better than jam!

But, summer also brings on zucchini.  Lots and lots and lots of zucchini.  Oh, its fun at first, but pretty soon zucchini starts to take over.  You’ve eaten it every day for weeks and frankly, enough already with the zucchini – but it just keeps coming.  Now you start giving it away to your friends and family who don’t have gardens of their own – the pastie-white apartment and condo dwellers with no hint of a farmers tan or dirt under their nails.  At first they’re excited, grateful even, for this unexpected gift.  But it doesn’t take long and soon even these folks are dodging you and your gifts from the garden.  It’s been said that zucchini is the gifted fruitcake of vegetables.

So, with my new frugal retiree outlook on life, I’ve been on the hunt for new ways to use this little over achiever (besides trying to give a bag of it to the gas station attendant for filling up the gas tank).   Interesting side note:  August 8th is officially Leave Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.

Why not plan an entire meal around zucchini?   With all of the fabulous food blogs out there, it wasn’t hard to come up with a whole bunch of creative recipes.  Here’s my menu plan.  Sounds like a dinner party’s in the works at Casa Sims in the next couple of weeks.

Start with a pitcher of zucchini martinis and spicy zucchini chips, and you’ve got cocktail hour covered.  For the main course, I’m thinking this zucchini bread pudding looks absolutely delish.  Pair it with a zucchini carpaccio salad and this whole menu plan just keeps getting better.  Finish it all off with a scoop of zucchini ice cream. I’m thinking a few raspberries on top cuz I’m pretty sure even zucchini goes better with raspberries.  Call me crazy (you won’t be the first) but this sounds like a deliciously fun dinner to me.  Summer’s better tasting version of when we used to make the entirely green dinner on St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve book-marked the recipes and I’m going for it.  Who wants to join us?

Now, if you still have more zukes than you know what to do with, here are a couple of other interesting ideas.

Yes, folks, its the Zukapult Competition.  Really, what’s better than flying zucchinis?

Zuke Art?  Sure, why not…but would anybody really buy this for $200?

Disclaimer:  I’m one of the pastie condo dwellers and all of my garden bounty including the zukes are gifts from the beautiful gardens of my son and his farmgirl.  Thanks for sharing your bounty with us.

Honey, I’m off to the gym ~

No, not me…the Old Guy, my newly retired hubby who recently turned 66…HE’s off to the gym.  Every morning, you can set your clock by him.  Out the door by 9:00 a.m. – walking up the street to join the rest of the retirees, housewives and non 9-to-5ers who are lucky enough to spend their mornings plugging in their earbuds and “pounding it on the treadmill”.   That’s what the hubs calls it.  While he’s pounding it and cranking weights, I’m at my desk solving the travel problems of one small piece of the corporate world and thinking about my next blog post.  What the heck?

Here’s why this is such an interesting phenomenon.  Until three months ago, his main source of physical exertion (besides getting out of bed in the morning) was walking up and down the stairs to his office, doing the cocktail hour arm lift and bending over to pick up the remote when it fell.  Oh, and the once a year trip with his lifelong buds (other Old Guys) when they get together to hike and play as many rounds of golf as possible in three days.  Other than that – nada.

So, what’s the deal?  Retirement.  It’s that simple.  He is a new man.  He is HAPPY and he is relaxed and he has a whole lot of time on his hands.  Hours and hours and hours.   As the Chief Entertainment Officer (CEO) in our house, I have to admit I was more than a little concerned when retirement suddenly struck.  My office is upstairs and that part of the house was immediately designated off limits from 8am-4pm.  He’s handled it surprisingly well and I am thrilled to discover this seemingly new ability to entertain himself.

Here’s to Old Guys Learning New Tricks – knowing how to let go of the past and move on to new adventures.  Here’s to the fine art of learning how to fill all of the hours that used to be your working day with activities that are healthy and entertaining and new.  Now, if only he’d take a sudden interest in running the vacuum.  He tried it once, but it takes away from his gym time.