Retired and Glad of it!

I should be painting the bathroom. I should be cleaning the kitchen, and sweeping and mopping our new vinyl floors. I should be folding the laundry piled in the laundry basket. Instead, I’m sitting here at the computer goofing off.

And that’s okay cause I don’t have to punch a time clock. I don’t have to please a boss. I don’t even have to get dressed if I don’t want to. I’m retired. I’m my own boss. Even hubby’s boss. Okay, that’s stretching it a bit.

Twenty years ago, I never gave retirement a second thought and hardly dreamed it would sneak up on me so fast. But here I am. Retired eleven years, now. How time flies when you’re having fun.

Of course, I don’t just lay around all day doing nothing. I like staying busy. I like being spontaneous. I like driving my husband nuts re-arranging furniture and organizing closets and kitchen cabinets and putting things away and forgetting where I put them. But we have all the time in the world to look for them. It’s just a little inconvenient. And annoying.

Anyway, I can honestly say I like retirement. I’m so happy to finally be free to do as I please when I please and not feel guilty. I’ve earned this gold star and I like it!

 

The Outhouse on the Hill

Kenny followed Barbara everywhere, even to the outhouse where he waited patiently till she came back out. This moment frozen in time is one of my most cherished memories. Barbara, my only sister, died of breast cancer at the age of fifty-seven. Kenny is my only surviving brother of four.

Though just a child of long ago

I remember still

The narrow crooked rocky path

And the outhouse on the hill

It creaked and groaned against the wind

And possessed an awful smell

Yet stood tall and proud beneath the trees

And served its purpose well

I like the comforts of today

And know I always will

Yet sometimes think of yesteryear

And the outhouse on the hill

The Beginning of the End

I’m getting scared. I mean, really, really scared. My body is laughing at me, my eyes see things that aren’t there, and my brain plays tricks on me telling me it’s Monday when it’s Sunday or that it’s Monday when it’s Tuesday, making me forget where I put things and if I took one pill or two pills, and if it’s September or October.

Not funny guys!

Hubby and I sit and laugh at each other. Sometimes we cry, too. We’re both frustrated with our decaying bodies and absent-minded brains and wonder what a year from now is going to look like. I fear that some day my son will visit my sunken shell in the nursing home and wonder who that old woman is and what she did with his mother. I fear that his heart will rupture and bleed and I can’t kiss away his pain.

When we enter that brand new world where old people go to die, no one rolls out the red carpet for us to walk on. No one stands at the golden portals handing out pamphlets telling us what to expect. No welcome committee, no happy smiles no pats on the back. Just a big fat royal kick in the butt. A learn as you go, cold and cruel, sink or swim, everyone else’s world keeps spinning but your’s kick in the butt. It’s the beginning of the end and only those of us who are  there can know the grueling struggle it takes to survive in it.

But it’s not all cloudy and rainy. I love not having to get up and go to work every day. I enjoy lounging in my pajamas, cutting up with my husband, and doing nothing all day. I like cleaning when I want to. I like putting things off till tomorrow or the next day or dooms day. I like not having to follow a set of rules that no longer apply to me. I don’t have to dress up, put on a pretty face, paint my nails or even shave my legs if I don’t want to. I’m retired! I’m free! I can still do stuff! I’m happy and well and strong . . . kinda sorta.

So yes, I’ve entered the twilight zone, the beginning of the end of my life here on earth. It’s spooky, it’s scary, it’s clouded with uncertainties. But it is what it is. I can’t do a darned thing to change it. I can either dry up and blow away or I can continue to live until God calls me home. I can be scared to death or I can trust God. I can cry and moan and groan or I can praise God and thank Him for the blessings He has provided and continues providing every single day of my dwindling life.

I can’t do this without Him. I won’t do this without Him. It’s just too freaking dark and lonely and scary.

 

 

 

 

 

How Many More Sundown’s is it Going to Take?!

Five months. One trillion hours of blood, sweat, and tears. Two million nervous breakdowns. And we’re not finished yet!

I WANT A NEW HOUSE! A house that never falls apart, a house that is gentle and kind to old people, a house that doesn’t suck my blood till I’m dead!

Five months ago, we began stripping up carpet and laying vinyl plank flooring. Got three more rooms to go. Hey! We’re retired. We’re not punching a time-clock. Besides, my compulsive madness gets in the way of progress, which, hubby doesn’t mind except for when it involves more work for him. And it always involves more work for him. Sorry, hubby.

Three weeks ago, I stripped and painted my kitchen cabinets. Took me a week to complete. All hubby has to do now is hang the doors.

Piece of cake.

Nope!

Nothing is ever that simple for the man of our house! He’s been working on those doors all week long and ain’t got them hung yet. Who knew that installing new handles and hidden hinges would take longer than building a house?? 

Today. Before the sun goes down and the world goes to sleep, those cabinet doors better be hung!

I posted the above on Facebook three sundown’s ago, and I’m still waiting to see the end results.

The next time, which there will NEVER be a next time, we’ll install new kitchen cabinets. That would be a lot less stressful and a whole lot less time-consuming.

PROBLEM:
1. We’re old
2. Didn’t know what we were doing
3. Bought the wrong type of hidden hinges for our cabinets
4. Exchanged them for a different type
5. They didn’t work, either

SOLUTION:
1. Nailed blocks inside the cabinets
2. Re-aligned the doors. Again. And again
IMG_1210
Today. Before sundown. I WANT THOSE DOORS
HUNG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Art: Caricatures

Every now and then I let all my people out as long as they promise to behave.

I created my caricatures from photos. I don’t like pictures of myself, but I love distorting them into something humorous.

Using PaintShop Pro 2019 Ultimate, I first erase the backgrounds from the photos. Then, using the Warp Brush I manipulate the facial features. When I’m satisfied with the character I wish to create, I use plugins and other special effects to give it the finishing touch.

Click on any picture to enlarge

Free Digital Art: Inspirational Quotes

I’m always in the mood for happy and enjoy passing it along through my digital creations.

Free for your own personal use
Click on any picture to enlarge or begin slideshow

Are You Still Looking for the Golden Years?

We lost our jobs. We struggled from month to month on our skimpy Social Security checks. We battled depression, frustration, and feelings of hopelessness. We beat cancer and survived the seemingly worst years of our lives together.

It wasn’t until my husband started receiving disability benefits from the VA that we were finally able to come up for air and break free from the financial monster we faced every waking moment of every single day for three long, stressful years.

We planned many things before reaching retirement, those golden years we looked forward to spending debt free in splendid bliss traveling and cruising and collecting seashells on a sunny beach. But owing a mortgage wasn’t one of them. Nor did we plan on the tiny trees we planted to get so big and messy, and the lawn to get so bare and sparse, and the driveway to start cracking and growing weeds. Sure we occasionally stained the cedar siding and created flower beds bordered with tons of field rock we collected from a neighbor’s farm. But like a nagging shrew, a house is constantly demanding special attention and could care less if you’re old or sick or broke or if it’s too hot or too cold or if you throw up your hands and bawl your eyes out.

In a dream world, our hard-earned golden years would be having a bottomless money pit, hiring professionals to renovate the house and manicure the lawn, Molly Maid and Chief Ramsey to cook and clean and the Dog Whisperer to teach our wannabe, four-legged queens to behave.

But those are someone else’s golden-years, certainly not ours.

So, here we are, a pair of dried up bones, our house falling apart, feeling too hopeless and frustrated to do anything about it.

Still, more than the dead trees in the yard, weeds in the flower beds, and saplings growing in the gutters, we wanted that dirty, stinking, pee-stained carpet gone!

So, with a glimmer of hope, we convinced ourselves that we’re only half as old as we look, and if we want that carpet gone, we’re gonna have to get off the pot and make it happen. So, we watched a few how-to videos, high-fived each other, and with the adrenaline of a pair of goofy teens drunk on energy drinks, we decided to renovate the house.

Easy breezy, like sipping lemonade on a warm summer day by the pool.

NOT!

It’s been more like crawling across a hot desert with our shriveled tongues hanging out and furrowing the sand beneath the blazing sun.

On May 27, 2019, we began moving furniture and pulling up carpet, staples, nails, and carpet strips. Two days later while we were out, a woman ran the red light and plowed into us causing over two thousand dollars in car damages and six weeks in the body shop for repairs. Thankfully, other than being shook up and mad as a hornet, no one was hurt. It did, however, throw us off track for a few weeks dealing with insurance agents, numerous phone calls, and the rental car breaking down.

We have never laid flooring before and will never ever in a trillion years do it again. I’d rather kill a grizzly bear with my bear hands!

Being a perfectionist, having my house torn asunder with nothing in its place for weeks and weeks on end, hubby working an hour and resting four, the dogs acting stupid, and me going stark raving mad conjured up evil that would have made Charles Manson tremble in fear.

I’ve screamed, I’ve yelled, I’ve cried, I’ve threatened divorce, running away, pitching a tent in the woods, signing myself into a nursing home, seeking refuge with the homeless and hearing what they have to say about the golden years.

And as if it couldn’t get any worse, we ran into water damage and huge pee stained circles . . . lots and lots of circles like stepping stones zigzagging across the sub floor. Replacing one of those boards became a crumbled mess of sawdust like a box of Nilla Wafers smashed to smithereens with a sledgehammer.

Several grueling hours later we finally cleaned up the mess and nailed down a new sheet of ply board only to discover it was too thick. By now, we’re threatening to black each others eyes and I’m thinking of sticking a For Sale sign in the yard and moving to another planet where I’m sure the golden years must be hiding.

Then, to my husband’s dismay, I do the unthinkable. I caved in to my impulsive personality and stopped everything in midstream to refinish my grandmother’s cedar chest. I got tired of moving furniture, straining my back, and crawling on my hands and knees snapping vinyl planks together. I needed a change, a creative boost. I wanted to see instant results. After all, these are my golden years, right? I don’t have to abide by a set of rules telling me I’ll drop dead if I don’t finish everything by Christmas.

Besides, it’ll only take a few days.

Ha!

That little project took three long weeks of stripping paint and sanding and re-sanding and sanding again before it was ready to be stained. Then we did the blanket chest. Then I painted hubby’s computer desk. TWICE! I didn’t like the first color choice; it didn’t go with the furniture.

Obviously, we charged into this renovation with our eyes squeezed shut. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we didn’t know it would be like wrestling a thousand pound bull to the ground. And we had no experience or help from anyone other than Almighty God. I’ve fallen, banged my head, bruised my knee, scraped my elbow and bled on our new vinyl floor. I’ve questioned God, fought with my husband, hated the grimacing old woman in the mirror, and feared that I’ve gone totally mad. I’ve crumpled to the floor sobbing and feeling sorry for myself, envying those enjoying the golden years with their manicured homes and lawns and long, luxurious vacations. I’ve cursed myself for not planning ahead for the future and succumbed to feelings of shame and regret, and wishing for someone else’s golden years.

And here we are, at the end of August, celebrating our seventy-third birthday’s still pulling up carpet, counting the weeks when we’ll finally get finished and wondering when the golden years will suddenly appear.

Yet, through it all, God is teaching me more about Him and reminding me that life spent in His love and care and protection are the golden years. We don’t have to wait till a certain age to lounge in His comforting arms, travel the heights of joyful bliss, and sip the nectar of His eternal love, peace and comfort. Life is never gonna be what we expected it would be and many never live to get a mere glimpse of the golden years and those who do often feel cheated and disappointed. So, I’ve decide to paint each precious moment, each precious day, each precious year with gleaming joy and love and happiness and claim them as the golden years.

 

 

 

 

Look What’s Happening Behind My Back!

As some of you know, my husband, Buck and I have been ripping up carpet and laying vinyl plank flooring throughout the house. Thankfully we have a small house but it seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I guess that’s why it’s taking us so long to get finished. Not to mention that we don’t move as fast as we used to. https://sandistatondigitaldesigns.com/2019/05/24/golden-years-where-are-you/

Before we started this mammoth project back in May 2019, I had all my yard work done. No weeds. No honeysuckle chocking the Azaleas. No limbs all over the yard. Even the lawn was mowed.

Then we tore up the house.

Then it got hot. And humid. I don’t like hot and humid and sweat burning my eyes and the sun blistering my crepey skin. So I barely stuck my head out the door. 

So while we were busy with the floors, mean, hateful weeds snuck into my flower beds and took over. Now they’re laughing at me and sticking out their tongues.

Then Buck forgot how to operate the lawnmower. And the weedeater.

And the grass began to grow.

High.

Really high.

Then arguments sprouted. Big fat, ugly arguments with tongues of raging fire and hearts of unbendable steel.

Then I wanted to move to the Netherlands.

Buck said he’d help me pack.

But, here it is, three months later and we’re still living under the same roof with the same number of teeth we started with. Together. With our two loving, nerve-wracking, confused mutts.

 

Then we began tearing up the house. 

 

Making some headway.

 

Now the den.

 

And now this!

 

I’m not complaining.

Well, maybe a little.

Okay, I’m complaining.

A LOT!

But I’ve learned something about myself during all this mess. Something that many people don’t like and has tried very hard over the years to destroy. Something for which I have felt guilty for possessing because it terrifies people and even myself at times.

And that something is inner strength. That strength that makes me get back up again no matter how many times I fall and feel like staying on the ground drowning in my tears. That strength that lets me know I’m still alive in spite of all the cuts and bruises of life.

Yes, I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve threatened to burn down the house, but I got over it.

Eventually.

So there you have a panoramic view of my crazy world. If you liked anything at all, please click that little LIKE button and post a comment. And thank you for stopping by. Next time I’ll bake a cake. 

 

 

Laugh at Yourself! It Takes the Sting out of Stupid

I needed air in my tire so I searched all over High Point looking for an air pump. You know, the one with a handle on it that gave the pounds and free air. There wasn’t one.

Frustrated, I parked beside a weird-looking air pump and crammed two quarters in the slot. The stupid thing didn’t have a “pound” selection. Now what?! Okay, so I guess it’ll cut off when it reaches 50 cents.

Feeling like a martian, I connected the air hose to the tire and waited for the machine to cut off.

My tire was getting really fat!  Hurriedly, I stooped down to remove the air hose, then, POW!

So much for 50 cents worth of air! And my hubcap? It’s still zooming and clanging somewhere in the next county!

Don’t Make Me Come Over There!

Okay, I admit it. I’d rather fight a grizzly bear than run from an argument when my rights are being violated. And the more stressful the situation, the more fiercely I’d fight, from getting my hair washed to having to take a nap when I wasn’t even sleepy.

And speaking of getting my hair washed, It was the worst thing ever! Worse than getting it tangled in the bed springs. Even worse than falling off the high bridge into the rocky creek and getting my new shoes soaking wet.

One night, stripped down to my little white panties, my scrawny half-naked body wet and slippery, I wriggled free from mom’s Hulk-like grip. Out the door I ran, squealing like a terrified pig in the pitch dark, down the wooded, dirt path where bears and tigers and rabid wolves crouched and snarled and growled. Deciding that drowning was better than being eaten alive, I made a frantic U-turn back to the house. To my dismay, mom and daddy were still sitting beside the galvanized washtub, mom holding the shampoo bottle and daddy holding the switch.

And then, there were my brothers, pushing all the wrong buttons, especially when they began taking parts off my bike and putting them on theirs. One day I went to ride it and the handlebars were missing. Another time my light disappeared. Then my bicycle seat. They’d even take off the chain and peddles!

I worked hard to win that bike, in the wind and freezing cold painting a Halloween scene on the grocery store window. I earned it. It was my baby. My pride and joy. They had no right to even look at it without my permission!

One day I caught my brother taking a wheel off my bike. He didn’t know what stop meant so, I picked up a hammer and hit him on the head with it. Not hard. I didn’t kill him for Pete’s sake! But he made such a screaming-bloody-murder commotion that daddy came after me with the switch and I took off running.

Round and round the house we ran, daddy dragging a mile behind me, huffing and puffing like a freight train. Fearing he’d drop dead of a heart attack, I let him catch me. By then he was too weak and out of breath to give me the switching I deserved.

The most frightful event, however, was when I worked at Dunkin Doughnuts. I was having what I thought a playful argument with the baker, a fiery red-haired punk with a zillion freckles splattered all over his face. I knew he was crazy, but I didn’t know he was a blooming idiot.

As I turned to walk away, he grabbed my arm and began dragging me across the floor yelling, “I’m going to put you in the fryer!”

Fearful that I was going to be cooked alive, I punched him in the nose. Dazed, bleeding, and staggering like a drunk on a three-day binge, he loosened his grip and I ran.

Completely deranged now, he ran after me and pushed me on the floor. Before I could figure out what the heck just happened he straddled my back and began choking me. Immediately, several female co-workers attempted to pull him off, but fearing for their own lives, they gave up. Finally, hearing my piercing screams, three burly customers burst through the swinging doors and pulled the psychopath off me.

Then there was that time I got arrested. That was embarrassing, sitting in the back seat of the patrol car with my hair in rollers, wearing short shorts and a little white tank top. I didn’t feel like a tramp till another cop pulled up, rolled down his window and asked with a devilish grin, “Where’d you pick her up?”

I couldn’t believe she had me arrested! I kept telling her to stay away from me. But she insisted on barging into my life, spinning lies, causing trouble, and parking her butt on my doorstep when she pleased. So, she asked for it when I jerked her out of the chair and wrestled her out the door. Not my fault her skimpy dress ripped apart at the seams.

Having to appear in court was no trip to Disneyland, either, standing there listening to her ranting and raving. On the outside, I was a harmless pussy cat. But on the inside, I was a roaring lion ready to leap and rip out her lying tongue.

Maybe the judge possessed a sixth-sense. Maybe that’s why he pointed his finger at her saying, “Stay away from her!” and dismissed the stupid assault and battery charge. I did tell him determinedly, however, that if she ever came to my door again she would suffer the consequences. But I don’t think that had anything to do with his ruling.

For the record, I’ve never killed anyone, never put anyone in the hospital, and never hit my brother again, not with a hammer at least. And when push comes to shove, I always growl before I bite.

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fight-or-flight-response-2795194