Friday, March 20, 2009

So This Is What Retirement Is All About

   Since I retired a couple of months ago, it finally hit me why Debbie insisted all these years I learn her method of making a bed, dusting, vacuuming, putting in fabric softener into the washer, folding laundry a certain way and all the things that she did which I basically took for granted.  It was now my turn to take those duties over.  Not what I had planned to do while I was trying to figure out what retirement was all about.  Her thirty five year plan was now starting to pay off.  Even when I was working, I believed in helping around the house.  My thought was that I lived there also, and it wasn't fair to her to have to do all of the housework or cook nightly dinners while I sat on my ass and watched t.v.  I jumped in and tried to help out the best I could so she could also have her down time.  It never occurred to me that once I retired I was going to be a 'House Husband', doing pretty much everything.  Believe me, I don't mind doing it, because she gets up early to teach the Three R's.......Raping, Robbery and Rehilbitation to the future inmates of Jackson Prison.  I'm actually happy that she can come home after teaching to a clean home with dinner on the stove.  But, there's gotta more to retirement than this crap.
   Since my back injury, I have had to make some major life adjustments and cut out several things I really enjoy doing, or at least limit them.  At times when the pain was tolorable, I thought that I could go right back to doing it 100% like before, but would end up in more pain than ever.  What once would take me maybe an hour to do,  was now easily taking me a day or longer to accomplish, with a nap or two thrown in.  Until recently, I used to get upset about this, but with the help of my new Sports Psychologist, I have come to crips with the knowledge that due to this injury, I'm going to have to pace myself on most things and this is now how I have to live my life.  So, I've decided to find some new hobbies to occcupy my time.
   When we had the tornado come through our area last year wiping out 99% of our landscaping, I thought that I would really enjoy growing flowers and plants from seed.  It also could have been because Debbie went back out and purchased about $500 worth of plants to replace what was destroyed, so it looked like we did have some plant life for my 60th birthday party.  Since I won't be able to purchase a greenhouse this year, I thought I would jump right in with both feet and start growing some plant life in the basement.  With the help of The Greenhouse Gardener's Companion which Joe and Mona bought me for my birthday, and The Complete Book of Plant Propagation, a Christmas gift from Deb, I was in plant heaven and counting the days until the last frost date in Michigan, which by the way is May 31st if anyone is interested.
   I turned an old vanity I had in the basement into a propagation bench and purchased grow lights, trays and medium for the seed.  I rigged up a lighting frame out of conduit to hold the four full spectrum lights, and it can also be utilized to hold an upper shelf if I want to add more seed trays and lights.  Yeah, I have visions of being called to appear on HGTV, but first I had to plant the seeds.
   I left the plant selection in Deb's capable hands, and she returned one day with a varity of  plant seeds, Sanpdragons, Hollyhock, Purple Coneflower, Cosmos, Bachelor Button and Coleus, just to name a few varities.  She also purchased tomato seeds and Sun Flower seeds to run a boarder along the driveway (maybe).
   After reading the correct method of soil moistness and  enrichments, I started planting the Sun Flower seeds.  I had read that Sun Flowers do not like to be transplanted, so I had to purchase some bio-degradable pots to put directly into the ground after the fear of frost had ended. 
   Taking a break if you can call cooking dinner for Debbie while she knitted a break, Jennifer called and ask what I was doing.  I told her I was planting my flower seeds and she informed me that I turning into a Girly Man and needed to find a more manly hobby.  I told her that there was nothing faggish about a man gardening and she said, "Dad, you used to own a bakery also."  I didn't know that baking wasn't a manly thing to do either. 
   So call me names, I don't care.  She just cut herself out of  getting one of my Terra Cotta saucer and pot water feature with plants that her Old Man grew himself.  Guess what Jennifer????  I'm going to teach my new grandson the art of growing flowers and baking. 

Horticulturely speaking,


Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Day At Central Michigan University

   I'd been checking the weather all week long hoping that Saturday would turn out to be a nice day for our fall outing to Mt. Pleasant for the Central Michigan/Western Michigan football game.  It turned out to be in the high 50's, low 60's and perfect for a day of football.  Becky, Rick, Debbie and I rode to Mt. Pleasant together and were meeting up with Steve, Stacey, Mark and Libby at the South End of the stadium.  Niece Jamie and her friend Andrew already had their tickets and were on their way.  The stadium seated roughly 37,000 people, not exactly Spartan Stadium, but a typical size stadium for a school of that student size.  Our seats were on on the 49 yard line and I was sitting in front of Deb and used her knees as a back rest until she realized it and kept kneeing me.  Jamie, our youngest niece, who is actually the youngest of all the nieces and one nephew is considering going to CMU, so it was kind of a dual trip for her.
   We all met up as scheduled and entered the stadium.  I hadn't been to a college game with Debbie since she was a college student at Western and we were there with the rest of the clan to cheer on the Bronco's, with the exception of Mark who was a CMU grad and rooted for his team, which won by the way.  Both sides of the stadium were packed and with about 2:30 left before the half, I headed up to the concession stand for a Pepsi and a dog, only to find the lines extremely long.  But what the hell, I beat most everyone else up here. 
   Now, I don't find this hard to believe, but some jealous people in our group questioned it.  I don't have reason to lie or make myself look good, but as I was standing in the concession line, a young blonde lass came up to me, gave me a loving kiss on the cheek and said, "Hi, Mr. Johnson, I didn't know you were here."  I looked this young thing up and down in a 'Fatherly manner' and regretfully informed her that I wasn't Mr. Johnson.  She said, "I'm sorry." and kissed me again on the cheek, smiled and slowly walked away.  I was just glad that I was there to help make this lovely young co-ed's day, and also there for others if they chose to mistaken me for someone else, and make their football game more enjoyable.
   After the loss to CMU, we all headed to Mt. Pleasant for dinner at the buffet and then to the gaming floor.  We all headed in seperate directions, Debbie headed to the slot machine area in search of her favorite machine, 'Wheel Of Fortune', and I to the craps table.  Both Debbie and I had a 'Benjamin' to lose, but I had visions of walking away with a lot more than I came with.  Twenty minutes after I started playing, Deb was standing next to me.  She'd been wining on the slots and was taking a break and decided to come over and join me in my quest to break the bank. 
   While standing next to me, I could see her eyeing my abundance of chips, so I gave her back the $100 that I started out with and continued to play with the winnings that I'd aquired in twenty minutes of play and she walked away in search of that one winning machine in building of thousands.  Suddenly after winning about $80, the dice seemed to get cold and weren't rolling my way, so I picked up my chips and left in search of my wife to see how she was doing.  Finding her sitting at a machine, we decided to take a break and walked around the casino, talked and did some people watching.  After about fifteen minutes, she went back to the slots and I positioned myself at another craps table.  The tide had turned and I started losing and losing and losing.  The thought of leave while you're still ahead, entered and exited my mind, but like 99.99% of the people that go to casinos, you think damn, just one more roll of the dice, but it didn't happen the way I was thinking.  Well, the way I looked at it, I've played for a couple of hours, given my start-up money back to my wife, so I basically walked away even.  Earlier, I walked past  a 25 cent slot machine, put a $1 in and walked away with $22.75, which I had handed to Deb earlier, so in my mind, I was ahead of the game.  Finding Deb, we cashed in my chips, and also her winning tickets and we figured that after paying for our football tickets, dinner and gambling, we made a few bucks to take home, so we came out ahead.  Everyone had a great time at the football game and also at the casino.
   Stacey had meetings in Ann Arbor on Monday, so she drove back to spend the night with us and Rick and Becky had driven to our place in the morning so we could ride together, so they stayed and we continued to party back here until late in the evening. 
Until next timing-ly,


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How I Spent My Summer

It's been a while since I've been in the mood to write something in B.S. From J.E. The summer months seem to be more for enjoyment and doing things and besides, the six people that read this sh*t already know what I've been up to. I'll sum this up as briefly as possible and get you up to speed, if you're not one of the six people.

1. I turned 60 in August and had a big party for the occasion. Friends and family were here and we partied until the wee hours of the morning. Well, a lot people did, I was in bed by midnight resting my back. I received a lot of great gifts and it was great having everyone over to party. Nothing like having friends and family over that care about you, that would travel long distances to attend. Or maybe it was the keg of beer, the food and the 15 -20 fifths liquor that brought them around.
2. On July 2nd, a tornado or extremely high winds came through the the country side of Eaton Rapids and ripped the sh*t out of our place. We were without power for a few hours and couldn't get out of the driveway even if we wanted to because of the trees that were blocking the road. We had to put on a new roof, re-plant 90% of the flowers that Debbie worked so hard planting. I powerwashed and stained the deck, along with re-painting the shed that I finished painting two days prior to the storm. And, with the tree behind the shed uprooted, I also had to re-build the fence that was around the shed, finishing that chore two days before my birthday party. But, it all came together with Deb's assistance and 'Leadership'.
3. Deb taught summer school for the first time in her 25+ year teaching career. She said that she wanted to experience teaching summer school, but I heard her tell someone that she didn't want to spend all of her free time with me. Does that mean I'm free to go out on the 'Prowl'?
4. Summer is over and we really didn't do a damn thing exciting and I'm extremely bummed about it. Next year it will be different. I never even put the kayak in the water and maybe this weekend I will take it out to the Grand River and paddle from the Smithville Dam into town. Wow, that will take a whole 30 minutes to do. Takes longer to put the damn thing in the water than it will to go from one end to the other. Maybe I'll just take it to Narrow Lake and paddle around, or just say the hell with it and leave it in the garage until next year.
5. Thanks to Hurricane Ike, we received massive rains that flooded our side yard and that was all the damage it did to us. Maybe the 'Weather Gods' felt sorry for us because he ripped the sh*t out of us in July and decided that we had been through enough this year. Our house sits up on a hill and that saved us from any flooding. Of course, our sump pump ran a lot, but it did what it was supposed to do, keep the water out. I was thinking of putting the house up for sale, now that we have lake property and also have a home on a one hole golf course.
6. Now that summer is over, Deb is back at Frost Elementary where is she is a Third Grade Icon. I've heard rumors that they want to put a statue of her at the entrance to the school holding her class grade book, somewhat like the statue of Rocky Balboa in Pittsburgh. This though, with words on the granite base, "Yo De'Shawn, you be 16 and be going in da Fourff Grade."
Well, that's about it for my wonderful summer. It was short and it was sweet as summers go. It seems that the older you get, the faster the year goes by. But, it wasn't too hot and was very enjoyable sitting out on my deck, reading and hanging with Debbie and friends that stopped by. In about a month, it will be that time of the year to take the snow blowers from the shed and put EVERYTHING on the deck into the shed for the winter. Time to put the Christmas lights up before the snow flies and it gets to cold to do it. Guess it never ends.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

One Cat Is Fine - Five Cats Just Ain't Happening

The other day as Deb and I were turning out of our driveway to take in a show in Lansing, she noticed something down the road. Stopping the car, we noticed a black animal about 50 yards away near the weeds. We determined after a short and heated debate that it was either a Panther like she thought, or just a large black cat like I told her it was. As we were about to once again pull away, she slammed on the brakes and screamed, "Honey Look, there's two more." Rolling down the window there were two more kittens along side the road about 10 feet from our driveway. Deb started acting really nutty and going on a rant, "What are we going to do with them, they're probably hungry. Where will they sleep? How did they get here?" I looked at her in amazement and said, "Simple, some Sh*t Head dropped the damn things off out here so we'd have to deal with them. Let them catch a mouse and fall asleep in the field like the other cats that have been abandoned do. If they're around tomorrow, I'll try and catch them and take them to the vet." Finally,off to Lansing we drove for a night of entertainment and upon our return, no kittens to be seen. The next day was kitten free and we worked around the house getting it back in shape after the tornado, with History Sugar Hall, lounging around in the yard.

This morning, Sunday, we were sitting in the living room talking about how we were going to spend this gorgeous day. Deb got up and opened the front door and sat down and said, "Jim, History is on the front porch crying." and got up to let him in. As she opened the door, I hear her say "Oh my gosh, there's two kittens on the porch." I got up to look and indeed, two kittens approximately six to eight weeks old. "Don't feed them", I said, "Don't you remember what happened when we fed your brother Scott? He didn't leave for six months.", and went outside to see the little things, but they hauled ass around the back of the house and were on the lower deck. Within minutes, Deb was out there with two bowls of kitty food and a bowl of water. "Honey, they're so hungry and I feel so bad for them. What shall we do?" Looking at her in awe for never listening to me, I said, "Well, since you've fed them, they're not going away, so I'll try and snatch them up in the morning during their breakfast and take them to the Vet in town, so he can give them to a good home."

We went about our chores and Stephanie called and asked us if we wanted to go out for dinner at the Ukai Japanese Steakhouse and Hibachi Grill in Lansing. We set a dinner time as I told her about our new outside guests. Dinner was great at the Hibachi Grill. The Chef cooked our meal right at our table, throwing utensils and food in the air, and batting food with a spatula to our plates and catching an egg in his chef's hat. He fired up the grill and flames shot up about four feet in the air. Our chef made a volcano out of an onion which was really cool and I was just as amazed as the two little kids that were sitting at our table. I ordered Hibachi Sea Scallops, while Deb had Hibachi Steak and Steph having Hibachi veggies. If I had known Steph was buying, I would have had Lobster, but the Scallops were excellent and we all shared our meals. I was so impressed that I told Deb that we would be going back again. That is, when Stephanie is once again in the buying mood. After a nice visit back at Steph's, we headed home to kick back home for a nice relaxing evening, I thought.
Pulling into the driveway, we were greeted by two little silver streaked kittens waiting at the end of the driveway. I look at Debbie and I see her sort of smiling, like she's going to try and talk me into keeping one or both of them. "Don't even think about it," I said as we pulled into the garage. "I'm going to give them another bowl of food so they have something in their bellies for tonight," she said and inside she goes, returning with two bowls of food for our overnight guest. Living in the country is great, but when you happen to talk loudly, or I should say scream, it's heard for quite a distance, sort of like being on water and talking. I was about to go inside and watch t.v. when I heard this ear piercing scream, "There's two more. JIM get out here fast, we're being invaded." Looking at the two new kittens and then at her, she looked at me and said, "Guess I'll get two more bowls of food." Returning with two more bowls, we stood there and did the only thing we could do, laugh. Tomorrow instead of taking two kittens to the vet, I'll be taking four. I sure the hell hope he takes them, or tomorrow I'll either be heading to Charlotte to the Human Society or depositing them elsewhere, in someone elses space like someone did to me. Wouldn't it be funny if I lucked out and dropped them off at the same person's home that left them for me. As cute and as lovable as they are, they have already over stayed their welcome. If anyone wants a kitten, give me a call tomorrow by 10:00 a.m. because they are going bye-bye in the car.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Storm of 08

It's been a few months since I've added something to the B.S FROM J.E. Blog. The last time, I tried to write from my BlackBerry to see if I could mobile blog and it worked. Well, a lot of sh*t has happened since last I've written.....Deb decided to teach summer school for the first time EVER.....We survived a semi tornado.....and my back is still the same - bad. But, life goes on. In two days, Deb will be finished teaching summer school.....The insurance is giving us a good sized amount to get the roof, siding and personal items fixed and replaced.....And, my back is still the same - bad. The day the storm starting, Deb and I were in the garage putting on the new kayak rackswe purchased for the Jeep because we were heading North in two days for a fun packed long weekend of kayaking and kicking back with Steve & Stacey and Mark & Libby at their cabin on the Manistee River. History 'Sugar' Hall was in the garage with us, content with playing with the plastic wrapping that the racks came in. When the first of the hail started hit the house, he stopped dead in his tracks and then hauled ass into the field and wasn't seen again until six hours later. Debbie heard him meowing in the barn across the street as we were walking the road calling for him. It was storming and hailing so badly that I had given him up for dead. As we headed for shelter in the basement, the wind passed the family room door so hard that we thought a freight train was passing the house. I've heard people say who have been in a storm like this or worse, that was the sound the wind made and now I can attest it to be true. It was one scary sound.

Slowly, we are replacing everything that was damaged. All of our landscaping was destroyed in the tornado and my tomato garden that was growing up so nicely was trashed when the tree behind the shed split in two, crashed my fence and fell into the garden. Deb has replaced most of the flowers and shrubs that were destroyed. The flower garden that would normally have taken me a couple of hours to create by my tee boxes, but took me four days because of my back pain, was somewhat saved when a huge tree across the street fell into it and protected it from the hail and high winds. Our glass top patio table that matched all the other deck furniture was picked up and thrown over the deck railing, breaking upon landing and depositing a million pieces of glass into the lawn for me to figure out how to clean up so no one cut their feet. Problem solved: A wet vac, a stool and about eight of being hunched over, which really made my back feel great. The impact was so great, that glass was also thrown across and into the driveway and in the other yard area. Along with that, the roof was ripped to sh*t, some of the siding was torn off and deposited in the neighbor's yard and my picnic table was smashed.

Right after the storm was over, we walked outside to survey the damage and noticed that we were completely blocked in by two huge trees that had fallen. Two pick-up trucks arrived, each on either side of the fallen trees and chain saws began to start up. In a matter of thirty minutes, a path was cleared so we could get out. It was nice to see neighbor helping neighbor in a time of need. People stopping to ask if anyone was hurt and needed medical assistance. Something we see to little of. But, we survived the tornado of 08. The 107 arce bean field next to us and surrounding corn fields were destroyed. It looked like someone grabbed each plant at the bottom of the stalk and slide their hand up, ripping off all the leaves, leaving total devastation in some areas. We came out of it fine, but it could have been worse. I'm just glad that Deb and I were alright and History came out alive. I'd say he's got about one life left and then he will be History.