Friday, February 17, 2006

A New Phase of Life

In previous posts I mentioned that I was "semi-retired." That was true then but not now. As of December 31st I notified my customers that I was closing the business and planned to enjoy my retirement. So, officially, I am RETIRED.

It's interesting how I pay no attention to clocks or calendars anymore, well perhaps to make sure I'm at my doctor's appointment on time. Other than that, I don't care if it's Friday or Tuesday or Saturday or 8:00 AM or 1:00 PM. If the weather is nice, and it has been all winter, I may do something outside. If it's raining I have a cup of tea and maybe read a book, or take a nap. If I feel like doing something productive, I do it but on my own terms and my own pace. No pressure.

I think I have easily transitioned myself into the role of "Retiree" and I like it.

The downside of all this is the lack of funds to do everything I would like to do. For example, I really would like to have a custom built paver stone patio and outdoor kitchen. Some of it I might be able to do myself but with a bum knee and some kind of painful foot problem, it won't be done anytime soon. But I've got lots of time.

So here I sit, casually planning my day. The only thing that "Must" be done is feed the fish. Then I think I will do my exercises and maybe have a second cup of coffee. Life is tough on days like this... And I love it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hot Air Ballooning

When I was looking up the Sailing photos I happened on some other fond memories. My sweetie gave me a hot air balloon ride one year for my birthday. So cool! Only she would think of something like that.

We lived in Jacksonville, Florida at the time and since we were not into boating anymore, or golfing or fishing there was not much else left to do.

We met up at dawn at Jacksonville University in the Arlington section of Jacksonville. There were three balloons being set up for us and two other couples. We were in the yellow one.

It was interesting to see how the burners blasted hot air into the balloons and gradually they became upright. That's when we boarded and the pilot shot the juice to it. Man, the heat it gave off and the noise was something else, but we started lifting up, up, up, more heat (schuuuuuuu) and up, above the trees and climbing. We were on our way and totally at the mercy of the wind.

We went up about four hundred feet before the pilot decided to change directions. Yep! Total surprise to me that he could control the direction of a balloon. He dropped down about a hundred feet and instead of heading south we were now moving east. Then he took it up a bit and we were headed south again.

It wasn't long before we realized that we would be going directly over our neighborhood. He took it down some and we saw our house only a couple of hundred feet below us. We could hear our dog, Punkin, barking at the sounds of the balloon and we called to her. It was so cool.

Then we went up again and moved once more toward the south. We could see the other balloons going up and down and east and west as they did their own thing. Finally we were near Baymeadows Country Club and the pilot said we would be landing there.

We landed on a fairway that was still wet from the morning dew. We helped deflate the balloon and load it into the chase vehicle then we had our customary glass of champaigne, an old French custom dating back a century or more.

We decided to mosey over to Judy's Mom's apartment a couple of blocks away and surprise her. It was funny seeing the look on her face so early in the morning, especially when she learned that we "floated" in to see her.

It was certainly one of the highlights of our lives and will never be forgotten. Here are a few of the photos we took. We also took some 8 mm movies but they didn't turn out so good.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


A friend of mine just got a sailboat. I'm really happy for him. He's been wanting one for as long as I've known him. He had this one built special and he can't wait to put it in the water. The only problem is that it's still Winter up where he lives. Cute huh?

Well, his excitement got me to thinking back to when we lived in Miami back in 1976. We thought we would enjoy sailing in Biscayne Bay and perhaps on down the Keys, even to Key West. Never having owned a sailboat and not knowing the first thing about sailing, we took the Coast Guard Class on Sailing. bought a 23' Aquarius and became instant sailors.

It's funny how excited we were about this new adventure and every weekend we looked forward to getting the boat in the water and sailing off into the unknown (unknown because we didn't know much about our new found hobby). Meanwhile, we would clean and wax and practice setting up the mast and taking it down, stowing cargo and anything else we could think of.

We finally got it in the water and our practice paid off. We were sailing. And there were those proud moments when it all came together. Just the two of us or with our friends, sailing, sailing and loving every minute of it.

Even though my Sweetie and Number One Deck Hand probably wondered if we would survive, she seemed to have enjoyed it too.

It was fun but we soon came to realize that we were probably out of our league and we sold the boat. Looking back, I wish we had kept it. At least the adventure could have continued and we just might be real sailors by now.