What Day Of The Week?


One of the things I’m discovering about retirement is that every day seems like Saturday. I find it a little uncanny. Actually, if we can be candid, I find it very disturbing. From a mental health standpoint, I recognize the importance of being oriented to time and space. Yet, without the need for a calendar, I’m finding that more and more I need a calendar.


It’s strange. I post a daily blog and I generally save it on my computer by the date. Actually, I always save it on my computer by the date. The date simply gives me the day of the month. It doesn’t provide me the day of the week. I’m on uncharted waters here. I’ve never struggled to remember the days of the week before.


Don’t mistaken what I’m saying. I’m not saying that I don’t know that Monday follows Sunday and precedes Tuesday. I’ve got the days of the week down by rote memory. What I struggle with is remembering where I am in the process of experiencing the week. When each day looks and feels like the preceding day, I’m finding that it all runs together. Does that make any sense to you?


Who knows, maybe I should join the Rotary Club. Don’t they always eat lunch on Thursday? In the antiquated pages of my memory, I’ve always thought of them as being old men who drove Buicks and smoked cigars. However, I realize that times have changed. There are probably as many women Rotarians as there are men and I doubt that many drive Buicks. As far as being old, I don’t think that is a criterion any longer? Of course, I was forming my opinions in young adulthood and I may have made my assessment based on faulty information.


Now, I think I’m beginning to recognize why some of my friends play golf on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. For all I know, they may hate the game of golf, but it helps keep them oriented to what day of the week it actually is. I hate to say that I need a crutch, but I’m struggling with figuring this out.


The General says that all I do is sit in front of my computer. If all you’re looking at is a computer screen, the day is irrelevant. It all feels the same. I don’t like wondering if it is Monday or Thursday or maybe even Friday. I should wake up each day with anticipation of finding the adventure in the midst of the day. That part I’ve gotten down. I’m looking for the adventure and when I find it, I always find it in the midst of the ordinary. That’s the neighborhood where I live. Plain and simple is fairly descriptive of my life, but I am having fun in the process. I would just feel a little more settled if I had a better grasp on which day of the week I am experiencing.


I visited with a friend by phone last night. Before I hung up, I said, “Have a great weekend”. He laughed and replied: “Don – It is only Tuesday.” “So it is”, I said. I get that. I was in church three days ago. At least I’ve got the Sundays down. I always remember Sunday. For that matter, I always remember Saturday. Saturday is the day I make-ready for Sunday. I think about Sunday throughout the week, but I make my notes for Sunday on Saturday.  Can you imagine the mess I’d be in if I only went to church at Christmas and Easter? Actually, the mess would probably be a lot more than just wondering what day of the week I was experiencing. I could probably make a sermon out of that, but I’ll let it go for now. People read my blog for something other than religious instruction. The closest I get is simply sharing the transparency that I’m a fellow struggler. I need the lifeline I find each Sunday to help me sort out the interim between that experience and the next one. Surely, you know what I’m talking about?


So my question for you folks who’ve been around the block a time or two in retirement is whether or not my disorientation related to remembering the day of the week is normal?   In most other areas of my life, cognition doesn’t seem to be a problem. I’m still pretty good at remembering names. If I meet someone and repeat his or her name three times, it pretty well sticks in my brain. Consequently, face and name recognition come pretty easily for me most of the time. When they don’t, I can get by with saying: “Please forgive me. I’m having a senior moment. Can you help me remember your name?”


Unlike the General who initially turned to jigsaw puzzles to keep her synaptic connections vibrant, I’d prefer to carve out word pictures and paint a scenario with words that you can see in the resources of your mind by reading what I’ve written. When my stories remind you of your stories, I feel like I’ve hit a home run. I wasn’t good with baseball. My grandkids are and so I guess you could say, I’m vicariously experiencing what I missed as a kid through them and I’m grateful.


I stopped by my daughter’s for a brief visit last night. I would have stayed longer, but I had some unfinished business I needed to complete at home before bedtime. One day last week, I discovered that I had misplaced one of the keys to the Miata. That probably wouldn’t have been as disturbing as it was if it was uncharted territory for me. After all, don’t missing keys always show up eventually? I would say “Yes”, but the same thing happened with my truck about a year ago. I haven’t seen the key since.


I have looked everywhere in the house for the key over the past several days.   Yesterday morning I determined to leave no stone unturned.  I looked again for the key but to no avail. By happenstance, the salesman who sold me the Miata called yesterday afternoon wanting me to bring the car in for service. After all, it had been three months. Can that really be possible? At any rate, I responded: “You said to bring it in at 3,000 miles.” He confirmed that my memory was accurate. He seemed surprised that I’ve only driven the car 800 miles since I purchased it. If he knew me better, he’d know I don’t want to wear it out. Consequently, it stays mostly in the garage and I’ve yet to drive it over two miles without the top down. I told you I was big on finding the adventure.


Since the car salesman had me on the line, I asked him for the cost of a replacement key. I had the thought: “Why not go ahead and get one?” He didn’t know the cost, but said he’d talk to the parts department and call me back. Are you ready for this? The missing key will cost $380.00 to replace. You bet, I had unfinished business at home last night. I looked everywhere for the missing key. My morning report to you is that I went to bed last night with the key is still missing. The General drove my truck to Odessa. There is a slight outside chance I could have left the key to the Miata in the truck. How’s that for grasping at straws?   Maybe I’ll find it there.


It was a move of desperation on my part. Before I went to bed last night, I started drawing clock faces. You know, a perfect circle with the numbers 12 , 3, 6 and 9 written clockwise on the clock face. Actually, I added those numbers initially and then filled in the other the numbers one through eleven around the face of the clock just because I can. My ability to do that provided great comfort and reassurance. Folks with Alzheimer’s have great difficulty with that assignment. They can’t do it.  I can, so consequently, I’m ruling that one out even if I am clueless regarding where I put my keys.


I am pleased to report that I know today is Wednesday and before it is over, I may even find my keys.  I am fervently praying that I find the key to my car.  The one thing I know for certain is that I’m not paying $380.00 for a new key. Regardless, all is well in my world.


All My Best!









Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. Several folks asked on Wednesday what my agenda looked like for Thursday.   What I discovered is that being newly retired is a lot like having a birthday. There really wasn’t an appreciable difference. Apart from sleeping in a little later, there were things on my unwritten “to do list” that had to be addressed. Consequently, it wasn’t a day totally filled with leisure.  I am not quite to the “Life of Riley” phase.


A friend from Round Rock was working in Dripping Springs yesterday. Learning earlier in the week that he was going to be in the area, we planned to meet for lunch. He mentioned that the last time he was in Dripping Springs his venue for lunch proved something other than enjoyable. For starters, he said the meal wasn’t nearly as good as he anticipated it would be and the service was sadly lacking.


The most troubling thing about the lunch was what he observed as he was leaving the restaurant. There was a young man slumped over face down on a table. An ambulance was parked in the portico just outside the front door. One of the ambulance attendants rushed back to the ambulance to get rubber gloves and commented in his hearing: “I can’t get vital signs.”


As it turned out, that was the same restaurant I would have recommended for lunch yesterday. Consequently, I suggested instead that he come to my home. I’d fix lunch. You guessed it. I grilled steak for the second consecutive meal along with a side of grilled corn on the cob and grilled asparagus. If anything, in my humble opinion, it was a meal fit for a king.


The thing that made the meal remarkable was the company and the conversation. The guy isn’t professionally in what you’d typically think of as a human services delivery occupation, but he delights in opportunities to help others in lots of different venues and circumstances. I’ve also observed that he makes his servant leadership look amazingly easy. The guy is always smiling and seldom seems rattled over much.


We talked of many things over lunch and as is always the case, when you are in the midst of meaningful conversation there is never enough time. He had a mid-afternoon work commitment in Georgetown. Noticing my watch, I told him he needed to hit the road. I’m a seasoned commuter and I know it always takes a lot longer than you might anticipate.


The General has trained me well. Before I could get back to computer time and fulfilling some responsibilities in that regard, I needed to clean the kitchen. I noticed that the “high-end kitchen faucet” was set to sprayer mode. I’m sure I’d used it as such when I gave the kitchen sink the final rinse the evening before. I pressed the little black button for the normal flow of water and nothing happened. Surprisingly no water was coming out of the faucet. I subsequently pressed the button to return back to the sprayer mode. Guess what? “No water was coming out of the faucet at all. And just for the record it wasn’t because I had inadvertently turned off the faucet.


I immediately had a panic attack. I had tried my hand and home improvement when we replaced the faucet last time. The lady who waited on the General and I at Home Depot assured us that anybody could install the faucet. She had recently done so at her home and “if she could do it, anyone could do it”.


I took the bait and for a period of about four hours and another trip back to Home Depot to buy a special tool needed for installation, I did everything but stand on my head before the faucet installation was completed. I remember the experience well. I will never do it again!


At any rate, I opted to unscrew the faucet sprayer from the faucet. It was a simple process just like the one pictured above. This was going to be easy. I’d just make a quick trip to Home Depot and buy a new sprayer. The concept seemed valid, but it was all magical thinking on my part. “Sure, you can order a new one on-line if you know the model number, but we don’t carry them in the store”, were the disturbing words shared with me by the helpful employee of the store. He went with me over to look at the display of Moen faucets and wrote down a model number that probably would be closest.


He asked, “How old is the faucet”. I replied, “I don’t know, we’ve had it a long time.” What was I thinking? We haven’t had it a long time. I know that because I blogged about the experience of installing the last one. Actually, the General was so proud of me for the accomplishment that she thought I could single-handily take on replacing the hot water heater the following week when it went out.


For the record, I wasn’t that gullible. I knew I couldn’t do that! Consequently the plumber that came out to do the work, took one look of the hot water heater and stated to the General that the “CODE” had changed and several modifications needed to be made including electrical work and who knows what else. I never dreamed you could spend over $1,600 replacing a hot water heater, but if memory serves me correctly we did.


The guy at Home Depot said of the Moen faucet: “We can sell you a new one. It’s just a little over $400.” I smiled and said: “Thanks but no thanks! I was a sucker for believing anyone could install one last time. I’m not going there again.” He laughed and said: “I know what you mean. I wouldn’t take on a project like that either.”


Later I thought again about his question: “How old is it?”  I vaguely remember some reference to a warranty when we bought the last one. At this point, the kitchen faucet is inoperable. Will I get it repaired? Only time will tell.


At any rate, last night I invested several hours on the computer. Before I called it a night, I complied some information I had promised to send to a friend before the end of the day.  I looked at the clock. It was five minutes to midnight. I was going to be true to my word.  Just as I was reaching for the send button after attaching the document to my email, the notation came up “Server Not Found”.  Okay, so I invested another fifteen minutes looking for it only to discover, I could not get back online.


Today an air conditioner crew is coming to replace the air conditioner in our bedroom. That too, will be problematic because the attic in our bedroom is sequestered from the other areas of access in our home. They will have to enlarge the available space to we currently have in the ceiling of our bedroom closet in order to get a new unit in place.


This could be the beginning of a “No good, terrible, no good day.”


All My Best!


I’m Not Going To Sit By The Pool And Eat Bon-bons


If you find you have an aversion to jumping out of airplanes, it is probably best not to add skydiving to your bucket list. Profound statement, don’t you think? It was preceded by the thought: “What was I thinking when I gave up my day job?” My next thought was: “Is it too late to get it back?”


You know of course, I couldn’t make stuff like this up. I spent most of Friday working on my laptop from the sunroom. I’m finding the sun porch a perfect venue to get a sense of being outside while being inside in air-conditioned comfort. It is a very relaxing workspace and ideal work environment.


About 4:30 p.m., I moved my computer from the table I had been working on to charge the battery. I then went from the sun porch to my interior office. I had just sat down at my desk when the General walked it carrying a piece of paper. She tossed it on my desk while stating: “You left this piece of paper out there”. She then stated more emphatically: “I can’t have you just making messes around here.”


It actually was kind of comical. She wasn’t angry, she just wasn’t going to pass up a teaching moment. I felt like a three-year-old in Vacation Bible School. The nice lady was going to make sure I colored inside the lines.


The next round of redirection came when the General discovered I failed to move the bathroom rug from the floor to the edge of the bathtub after my shower. Another infraction of the rules! Who would have thought? Sometimes I can’t win for losing. I remember a time that we purchased expensive bathroom rugs to actually leave on the bathroom floor. Not any more, we are now duplicating a four star hotel with the bath mat carefully in reach, but not out flat.


God as my witness, I’m not making this up. It wasn’t ten minutes later that the General then asked: “So how is working from home working out for you?” I cheerfully responded: “It’s great! I don’t have to deal with traffic.”


So later, I left the house in my truck. The General and her mother were sitting on the sun porch. I had tossed a plastic garbage bag full of excess branches I’d pruned from the crepe myrtles in the yard into the back of my truck and driven it down to place them next to the canister for trash pick-up. When I returned she asked: “What have you been doing?” I answered truthfully, “I’ve been texting”. “You drove the truck to do that”, she asked. “No, that’s what I’ve been doing since I got back in the truck”. I then explained about the crepe myrtle branches. She immediately clutched at her chest and said: “Ethyl, it’s the big one! Not even a pacemaker can help with this.” “Very funny”, I said.


Actually, she is very funny. There is also a pleasant and playful inconsistency on her part. When I tossed my plastic empty water bottle in the trashcan located in our garage, I absentmindedly forgot the green bottle cap that went with it.  Like a hummingbird looking for nectar, she tracked me down. “Was that the green bottle cap from your bottle of water that you left on the table?” Before I had a chance or even the thought to answer: “No Ma’am, I’m sorry. I promise never to do it again”, she smiled and said, “If you’ll give me a hug I’ll throw it away for you”. Before the day was done and three hugs later I was out of trouble and beginning to think the retirement deal might work. That’s not to say there aren’t still looming questions. I’m still wondering: “What was I thinking when I gave up my day job and is it too late to get it back?”


Okay, so leading up to retirement my primary focus has been: “Do we have enough money in savings and does our monthly annuity and social security more than provide for our financial needs going forward? Thankfully, that isn’t an issue. Of course, my oldest grandson will be happy to know that. He is as frugal as my dad ever thought about being. Who know, maybe it’s in the name. They both share the same one.


I recently made some off-hand statement in front of my grandson about the General purchasing a new purse. I’ve mentioned in my blog that out of the generosity of my daughter and son-in-law, I’m a member of the Sock of the Month Club. Unknowingly, I think the General must have signed up for the Stash of a Month Club. Stash is the “Now” desirable brand if you collect purses and I promise you the General has quite a stash. She has a new purse every time I turn around. At any rate, I made some off-hand comment and William responded: “So granddad, are you concerned Gram is spending too much money on Stash?” The kid is really smart! He got it. Actually, I thought he had until he offered his take on the issue and finished his thought process. He said, “If you think Gram is spending too much money on Stash, maybe you need to stop buying a new car every 40,000 miles”.


I have a friend who truthfully confessed to me that following his retirement he really had a difficult time emotionally. He said, “I was like a fish out of water”. He went on to explain that he had only looked at financial affordability and had not stopped to consider the emotional impact. With the loss of his job, there was nothing immediately available to replace his career identity.


According to Robert Delamontagne,PhD, author of The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement: “Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active. Some retirees ease smoothly into retirement, spending more time with hobbies or family and friends. But others, research finds, experience anxiety, depression and debilitating feelings of loss.”

He went on to say: “People can go through hell when they retire and they will never say a word about it, often because they are embarrassed”.


Trust me, I am not that guy! If retirement doesn’t work for me, I will do something else. I promise you I am not going to be content watching reruns of Gunsmoke and the Andy Griffith Show on television. I don’t plan to wear my pajamas all day or sit by the pool and eat bonbons. For one thing, we don’t have a pool and secondly, the General doesn’t want me eating a lot of candy.
All My Best!



It Was A Day Of Surprises


Late yesterday afternoon I received a telephone call from the communications director of the agency where I work. Her call took me by surprise. I guess you could say it had been a day of surprises. First, I was the one who surprised all but one person in the room earlier in the day. The venue was the spring board meeting of the lead agency where I work.

When the communication’s director called, she referred to my morning’s communication with the board as a bombshell. She said, “I didn’t see that coming. No one did”. She then added something closely akin to: “I can promise you after your announcement everything else that had been discussed on the agenda paled in contrast.”

On a positive note she added: “I have to say your announcement was the classiest retirement announcement or notice of resignation that I’ve ever heard. It was extremely well done”. I don’t always get it right and it is refreshing when I do. They say timing is everything. Even if you’re bidding farewell, why not do it with class?

The communication’s director was calling to suggest that if I wanted the other four boards and agencies where I work to get the information directly from me, I should send out a written communication that day. Otherwise, chances were good that they would hear it from someone else.

So what did I communicate to the room full of unsuspecting people? I anticipated you’d want to know that, so I’m sharing most of the script:

As part of my programs and services report, I’d like to share a personal reflection. When anyone asks, ‘Exactly what is it that you do?’ I generally respond: ‘I do the best I can. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” That drew a laugh, but not nearly as much of a laugh as the board member who interjected the question: “Is it Todd (my boss) that asked you the question.”

I went on to say, “Occasionally, I throw in a few more details. Sometimes I even manage to say, ‘I’m just an old child welfare worker. I discovered a passion for this work a lifetime ago and it still gives me a reason to get out of bed in the mornings’.

Several weeks ago I flew back to Austin from Washington. It was on Friday, March 31. The lady seated to my right was reading a book. The man on my left was watching HGTV. I was the guy in the middle seat with nothing but time on my hands. Consequently, I eventually took out my laptop and began writing my blog for the following day.

At some point, the lady who had been reading engaged me in conversation. She asked: ‘What do you do?’ Before I could respond, she modified her question: ‘Are you a writer?’

I couldn’t help myself. I decided to go with it. I said ‘Yes, thanks for asking.’ I don’t know if she noticed my smile, but giving myself permission to be something other than an old child welfare worker felt good. It felt fresh. It felt new. It felt right.

Technically, my saying I was a writer wasn’t a flagrant misrepresentation of truth. For the past three years I’ve written a daily blog. Some of you read my blog. Others of you have more discriminating taste. Consequently, I think I can say with certainty that I am a writer. I didn’t say that I write well, but I can substantiate that I write often.

The following day was Saturday, April 1. I had put the self-imposed writing assignment off for as long as I could. I needed to write a letter. However this was a tough writing assignment and I struggled with where to start.

Maybe it wasn’t strictly coincidental that the letter was dated on April Fools Day. I couldn’t help but question the writing assignment. Seriously: Is there wisdom in leaving behind a job that I love and friends that I value to begin the next chapter of my life? Part of me said it was a foolish decision. The more cognitive and less emotional part of who I am said to stay the course and write the letter.

Four or five months ago, I read the autobiography of Sandy Koufax. He surprised the world by leaving Major League Baseball while he was still on top of his game. Of course, because of health reasons, he knew the tide would inevitably turn. He made the decision to retire while he was still on top.

Let me say up front, so you won’t think I’m delusional, ‘I’m not sure I’ve ever been on top of my game.’ However, for the past several months I’ve been at a crossroads. I live comfortably and mostly in denial that retirement is age appropriate for me. I even question that I can effectively embrace a less busy and more relaxed lifestyle. Whatever the future holds, it is my hope to continue to contribute something to the field of child welfare services.

Maybe I’m weird. But it is important to me that when folks learn of my resignation that they ask ‘Why’ rather than ‘When’. I love the work. I’ve known from the age of twenty-three that it is my life’s calling. I have had nothing but fun along the way (that may be a little overstated, but you get my drift). It has been an eventful and fulfilling adventure. I will always cherish the memories and the friendships will continue.

Consequently, I let Todd (my boss) know at the beginning of April, three weeks ago, that effective June 1, I’d like to begin exhausting my annual leave without the intent of re-establishing fulltime employment with the agency.

They say timing is everything and I couldn’t have picked a worse time to plan my departure. Consequently, Todd and I are still deliberating how I keep one foot in the door while the other foot is elsewhere.

I have been asked by the board of the Coalition of Residential Excellence in Washington D.C. to take on a leadership role with that agency as the Executive Director. Consequently that opportunity impacted the timetable for my making a decision. Most of my work will take place from home, but some travel to Washington and elsewhere will be required. I’ve always enjoyed advocacy related to child-welfare legislation, so the opportunity seems like a good fit. There is also a critical need to rebuild the organization, and some feel my gift of gab and personality are a good fit.

I have been honored to be associated with the Children at Heart Ministries’ family and the privilege of serving as part of the team. I’ve worked side by side with some of the most capable, competent and compassionate people that I’ve ever known. That is part of the reason that the work has been so meaningfully enjoyable.

In addition, the board members with each agency for whom I’ve worked have been incredibly supportive and committed to the cause and mission of the ministry. God’s hand has clearly been evident across the family of ministries. This ministry will always be at the top of the leaderboard in places where I served”.

The board meeting was followed by many well wishes and expressions of gratitude for the time I’ve shared with the agency.

So, I guess you could say: “The cat is out of the bag”. After the broadcast communication I transmitted electronically last night, all of the boards and staff members with whom I work now know the news. One of the executive directors that was at the meeting yesterday morning responded to my email: “It did not seem real until I got your email. I consider it an honor to have worked for you and to call you my friend. I look forward to working with you in future advocacy endeavors”.

All My Best!



Have I Stayed Too Long At The Fair?


Yesterday a friend from college telephoned. It took him little to no time to ask: “When are you going to retire?” Instead of having an immediate answer, I paused to give it some thought. Obviously the outside pressures I’ve been experiencing are at least getting honorable mention. Almost everywhere I look someone has an unsolicited opinion. My stock answer historically has been, “Never, the General much prefers my death be work related and accidental”. Yesterday, when my friend asked, I was at least willing to consider that it might have merit to come up with a “Plan B”.

My friend from college has been retired for three or four years. Of course, it really may be closer to five or six. I don’t know for certain, but he certainly seems to enjoy not having to follow anyone’s schedule but his own. He said to me, “At your age, you don’t have that much time left”. He then added: “You need to know it goes by really fast”. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I said he was a friend. As if to add insult to injury, he went on to say: “Don’t forget the cemetery is filled with indispensable people.”

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with any of that information. Saturday night at the work related event the General and I attended, I overheard a person I work with talking to the General. I held my breath. He told me a few days earlier that when he sees her next, he is going to suggest that I take the weekends off from writing my blog. I know, you’re thinking, “Why does it matter to him?” I couldn’t agree more, but he’d say, “He is looking out for my best interests. He thinks I should do a better job of establishing boundaries”.

On the way back home on Saturday night, I asked about the conversation. I was prepared to justify my need to craft something in writing on a daily basis. Apparently he didn’t mention the blog at all. The General said he was encouraging her to ask me to retire, not because he didn’t work to work with me any longer, but because he doesn’t want to be working when he is my age. He thinks I should be kinder to myself. What’s all that about?

On Sunday evening, the General and I visited with friends who are in the process of moving. Following retirement, they are off on a new adventure and moving to Maine. That seems crazy to me, but once again wise counsel was lofted my direction. “You know, when I retired I never looked back. After getting up at 4:00 a.m. for almost as long as I can remember in order to head to work by 5:00, the first morning after retirement I slept until 7:30 a.m. You have no idea how much more rested I’ve been over the past year.”

I’m not quite ready to turn the retirement corner, but I’m not totally discounting the advice that has been hurled in my direction. When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed that the grandfather clock in our living area needed to be wound. It hadn’t stop working, but it wouldn’t have made it through the next four hours. I did a quick inventory of the other two grandfather clocks in our home. One had stopped and the other was still working, but in need of being woud.

I had the passing thought that in some respects, my life has to be like a grandfather clock. Sooner or later, I’m going to run out of time. The thought is a startling realization of how quickly time goes by. Over the course of many years, I’ve visited friends of all ages in many different homes. Often times, I noticed folks who have incredible clocks in their homes and the clocks didn’t appear to be working. The hands are no longer making their way around the face of the clock.

I remember the first time the General and I spent the night in the home of my aunt and uncle. The bedroom we slept in was adjacent to the entry foyer of their home. The grandfather clock chimed every fifteen minutes all night long. I distinctly remember thinking, how does anyone sleep through that? I obviously didn’t

At some level, perhaps the sounds relate to what you get used to hearing. We have three grandfather clocks. I purposefully keep them set at a slightly different time so I can enjoy the sounds. At night, I am unaware of their chiming every fifteen minutes or striking the time on the hour. I sleep through it all.

Getting back to hands that no longer make it around the clock. I often noticed when visiting others that their clock(s) had stopped. Was it because the clock was broken or simply because that the clock had not been wound? In addition to our grandfather clocks, we have three other chiming clocks in our home. Two are in need of repair or they’d be wound regularly. The third is now located on a bookcase in our bedroom. It is not wound because the General can’t sleep when it’s ticking.

Some time ago, a friend who periodically reads my blogs asked, “Do you think your dying?” I was shocked and answered, “I certainly hope not.” He said he garnered the thought from reading my blogs. I’m still at a loss of what he was talking about unless of course he thinks I’m dangerously close to pushing the General over the edge. But even then, I don’t think she’ll be responsible for my demise.

The thing about the hands of the clock is that they make the same route or routine every day. They never vary if they are wound and in working order. Unlike the clock, I have the opportunity for variation and adventure in life. I am not bound by the same routine day after day.

Who knows where tomorrow will take me? It may or may not have any resemblance to the day before. One of the things I value about my work is the lack of predictability of what I may find myself doing. Of course, I could discover that variation or more in a host of many other things.

As I reach this point in my blog, the music to “Have I Stayed Too Long At The Fair” is making its way through the resources of my mind. It is a good sound, but the words are haunting:

“I wanted the music to play on forever

Have I stayed too long at the fair?

I wanted the clown to be constantly clever

Have I stayed too long at the fair?

I bought me blue ribbons to tie up my hair

But I couldn’t find anybody to care

The merry-go-round is beginning to slow now

Have I stayed too long at the fair?

The music has stopped and the children must go now

Have I stayed too long at the fair?

Oh, mother dear, I know you’re very proud

Your little girl and kingdom is so far above the crowd

No, daddy dear

You never could have known

That I would be successful, yet so very much alone

I wanted to live in a carnival city

With laughter and love everywhere

I wanted my friends to be thrilling and witty

I wanted somebody to care

I found my blue ribbons all shiny and new

But now I discover them no longer blue

The merry-go-round is beginning to taunt me

Have I stayed too long at the fair?

There is nothing to win

And there’s no one to want me

Have I stayed too long at the fair?”

All My Best!




A Penny For Your Thoughts – My Life As A Consultant


The General and I had a great day yesterday. That’s not to say part of it wasn’t stressful.  I had a work related commitment near Brenham last night. Consequently, we opted for an early start on Saturday and went to Sealy to watch Jenna and Jake, our oldest and youngest grandchildren, play basketball. Fortunately, (my value judgment) William opted to steer clear of basketball. He plays soccer, baseball, and football. Basketball doesn’t interest him (that may be in his DNA). Of course, William was at the games yesterday. He postured himself on a top bleacher and was content to be lost in the world of reading. I like his approach, “Why waste time when you can invest it in reading?”

Did I mention having Jenna, William & Jake within easy access is absolutely delightful? When the General and I discussed it Friday night, both of us admitted it feels like it’s been months since we last saw them. However, in reality, it had only been a month.

When they lived on the West Coast or the East Coast, we mostly saw them through Skype. In terms of face-to-face huggable experiences, we generally were limited to about three contacts annually. Having the kids (and their parents) a stone’s throw away has opened many doors in terms of sharing familial time together.

When it comes to sports, I am not a big sports enthusiast. In fact, I haven’t yet decided if I’m investing the time later today to watch the Super Bowl or not. However, I did watch the TCU win over Oregon and found the second half of that game of greatest interest. In fact, it was enough to make me wonder if I’ve missed out on something I should have had a greater interest in enjoying. My brother-in-law in Florida once told me I needed to closely follow football. He said it would make me a better pastor. I was a little perplexed by the recommendation, but I opted to let it go the way of much of the advice that comes my way. It may have been a great idea, but it fell on deaf ears.

Perhaps it is true that sports can add a dimension of excitement to life. For that matter, so can driving a car 100 mph. However, that affirmation is a very distant memory. Obviously, back in the day, I had guardian angels working overtime. I’ve heard that now driving 100 mph is a lot like playing Monopoly. If you get stopped, you get to go to jail free. Getting out of jail is a little more expensive.

Jenna was scheduled for an 8:00 a.m. game and a 10:00 a.m. game. Jake’s game was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. In order for us to get to the game by 8:00 a.m., we would have needed to leave the house by 5:00 a.m. or drive 100 mph. I love my grandkids, but like I said, I’m not a big sports enthusiast. Why forfeit sleep? Driving over 100 mph is out of the question. That wasn’t going to happen.

The General needs a sedative to quietly tolerate my driving. Although I’m sure that’s a true statement, it is strictly based on theory. I have absolutely no first hand experience to substantiate that it really works. I don’t remember a time that the General has ever quietly tolerated my driving. I think she considers telling me how to drive one of her Spiritual gifts. All I’ve got to say is that, she’s good at it.

Yesterday morning, for whatever reason, she was fearful that I was going to fall asleep. Since sleep apnea is one of my diagnosed physical maladies, I understand her concern. However, if she really thought my driving was putting us at risk, she could have chosen to drive. All I can say to that is, “She’d rather die telling me to keep my eyes open than to utter the sound, “Why don’t you let me drive?”

Of course, she did her part in attempting to orchestrate meaningful conversation. She seriously asked, “So what do you want to do in retirement?” Where did that question come from?  It was a question that didn’t get much of a response from me. Actually, my only response was a three-word-sentence. I truthfully answered, “I don’t know”.  My answer didn’t set particularly well with the General. I figure if she wants to talk, why not talk about something I’m familiar with and have some sense of perspective. I have absolutely no frame of reference to “the new me” and the “life after work” persona. Maybe I’m not tired of the old me yet.

The General obviously wanted the conversation to go on forever. “You could be a consultant” were the next words to come out of her mouth. I opted not to suggest I could be a resource person to teach others how to install a thermostat on their HACV systems. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how well that worked out for me.  Already, the General questions the amount of time I spend writing nonsense on the computer. Can you imagine what it would be like to have extra ten-to-eleven hours a day at my disposal? Seriously, don’t you have to know something to be a consultant? Perhaps the General is my biggest fan! She obviously thinks I have more going for me that reality dictates.

I have a friend who is probably twenty years younger than I am. He recently said, “I am so grateful to have a job. Every other person my age who previously worked in the oil business now find themselves out of work.”

At any rate, time shared with grandchildren (and their parents) was the obvious fix we both needed. Although it had only been a month since we last saw them, the time allotted us yesterday went by way too quickly. Already we are looking forward to the next time.

All My Best!