Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is It Retirement Yet?

Unfortunately not; but some days I am so ready. So is my husband, of course, but for different reasons. Like being tired of working sixty hour weeks at a crazy, difficult, dirty industrial job for the last forty years (that after making it home intact from a crazy, difficult, dirty jungle-fought war.) No, I can't compare my pain to his, since I actually retired from my last full-time job (teaching middle school home economics) twenty years ago this June. I have been a privileged "kept" woman since.

Dave tries out the concept of retirement: Nope, not quite ready.

The retirement I want is where we get to move on to a new adventure, together and individually, to have new surroundings and experiences, and think about life in new ways. Our destination, on hold for a while yet, is the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, with the city of Portland as our likely base of operation. We have been there: we are smitten. You can't talk us out of it (at least, I hope not.) But we'll have to settle at the moment for a late summer vacation there and continue to plot and plan.

Enjoying the beautiful campus of Furman University in Greenville, SC

These ducks were excellent "posers," but alas, I had come with
 companions and there was no time to draw.

Meanwhile some very close friends who have shared our life in both Maryland and Indiana did indeed find a way to retire early and skipped out on the "Lake Effect Snow Belt" we call Michigan City to move to the year round warm climate of South Carolina. For me, a tad too Southerly. I'm a Northerner, a coastie, and a cool weather kind of girl, but after the winter (and spring we've had so far) it was wonderful to thaw out with a week of Southern climate and hospitality.

We set out on our road trip in the midst of all those torrential rains of Easter weekend, nervously crossing the Ohio River to see Louisville somewhat submerged around the edges already. We were hydroplaning on bridge surfaces, and large trucks were menacing (passed one that had made it into the median just short of the other side of the highway.) The news had daily reports of evil winds playing havoc with threats of more to come. I kept wondering why it had to be so crazy just when we most needed some uneventful and laid back time. For a week we traveled on the edge of disasters, but were blessed to personally skirt it all.

I had decided to start a journal specifically for trying out and saving patterns and textures. I found these individual doodle blocks to be the perfect size before-bed project for a hotel room. Something I may carry on at home.

Although Lexington, Kentucky is the midpoint of our mileage and a stopover, this time we had to pass on the horsey delights of the wonderful Kentucky Horse Park, and the pre-Derby races at gorgeous Keeneland. If you have experienced neither and love horses, put them on your travel wish list. On our last trip through I got to meet (among others) the horse that played the role of "Seabiscuit" in the movie with Tobey Maguire, and when the crazy cocktail-party-in-heels at Keeneland was standing room only, I got to stand at the railing next to the winner's circle.

I finally started my practice of journaling on this trip. Yeah! I used the little accordion fold ones I showed you last time. This one is for all "coffeehouse" related subjects.

First time drawing flowers in their natural setting. I was also standing most of the time, and trying to create a pleasing composition on the spot. Unfortunately I had to do the painting a couple days later from photos. You can only keep friends waiting so long, and the hot weather was defeating my enthusiasm as well. This one will be all about gardens.

Our brief stay in Greenville was a foray into summer (before knowing spring), and as lovely and fun as was the experience, it was also a reminder of why I don't want to retire South: I hate humidity! I don't do sultry well (at least not in that sense!) I also require a bigger town with more variety of scene within and without. A little edgier. A small scale big city set between a mountain and an ocean, well you get my drift.

Posing outside our friends' house. It was too warm in SC, and we only had a couple opportunities for wearing them later in the week. To this date, no comments from strangers!

But I totally understand our friends' love affair with their new home. Number one is their proximity to Furman University, and its welcoming attitude to townies, and especially seniors. They get to call campus home to attend the arts, walk the gardens, but further, to study, tuition free with the same respect and involvement as the paying clientele. Oh, the joys of a well endowed university. My friend is planning a two year course in photography for only the cost of materials and lab fees. I am quite awed at this opportunity.

Back home I couldn't wait to get back to my needle and cloth. I can tell I'm going to be a fool for embroidery. This is a detail of the heart sampler I'm working on.

I am hoping and dreaming that such situations will arise for us when we finally make it to the next phase. Meanwhile too much busy reality intrudes from the here and now. Yes, formal art study would be grand, but this home schooling business isn't such a bad thing. Gives me a chance to build my "portfolio," find my preferred medium. Every day is a gift and life is the best school. So what should I work on next? Time to get back to Carla's "Silly" lessons. No time to talk about Asheville today. We'll save that for our next chat. Later, fellow travelers!


  1. what a great post. loved seeing your zentangles and drawings and especially loved seeing you both wearing those famous woven denim jackets. your heart piece has inspired me to try embroidering on doodles. i love what you did with that.
    i do have Carla's book but haven't gotten into it much yet.

  2. really nice patterns, and awesome sketches! =) Those jackets are cool~!

  3. First visit here - I really enjoyed myself!

  4. LOVE the doodle blocks!
    And really like your idea of retirement being about new adventures! :) I couldn't agree more...though I am a long way from retirement myself. :)

    So glad I found you through the miz kate dot com Artist blog hop!
    I am your newest blog follower. :)
    Looking forward to seeing your upcoming posts!

    I welcome you to check out my art blog, too!

    Mary C. Nasser

  5. Fun to see all your art work from your travels!
    You guys look great in your denim art jackets!

    I miss your comments on Joggles forum, as I am taking Jane's art quilt class now.

    Happy stitching!

  6. i can't believe i missed this picture of the jackets. love it!