Climbing The Proverbial Hill

Ahh…birthdays?

For me, birthdays are a time of reflection. I usually think about what has been, what is, and that which is yet to come.

VintageOne thing for sure, I no longer have to wonder about where I will be (physically or spiritually), who will be in my life, or what I will look like when I’m forty-eight, yes that’s right…48 years old young.

Really, considering the grand scheme of things, forty-eight is not necessiarily that old, is it?  Yet I have seen and experienced much in my life. Just to name a few…I:

  • gave birth to three terrific children
  • have been blessed with three grandchildren, with a fourth due in July
  • have experienced what marriage should be like and what it shouldn’t be like
  • have four siblings I adore and couldn’t imagine my life without them
  • lost my oldest brother (Rick) in 2004 to pancreatic cancer when he was only 42-years old (beyond devastating for our family)
  • told my mom “I love you” for the last time, ten years ago this month, when we laid her to rest
  • shared five wonderful years with the love of my life
  • was a co-owner/operator of a family restaurant
  • have seen cellphones evolve from a huge contraption into a small device that I continually misplace
  • now have one remote control that operates my television, DVD player, VCR player (yes, I still have one of those), and my cable box, when in my teen years we only had a 4-button clicker for our T.V.
  • uprooted my child and moved 1,000 miles north to be closer to and care for my dad
  • have had some amazing people enter and exit my life, some by choice, others…not

What is this “hill” anyway, and where is it?

Hill of Life

Proverbial Hill of Life

As we trek through this thing called life, some of us have a planned our path but have had to make adjustments, some just go with the flow while others merely exist with no true form, fashion, no hopes, and no desire.

When I was little I remember hearing that my mom “turned 40” and though “man, she’s old!” Ohh, what I now know. Times have significantly changed during my stint thus far on earth.  Sixty year old women look like they’re barely in their 40s (Lord, please let this be me when I hit sixty.)

Last July, when my brother “T” turned the big 5-0, I began to wonder if he reached the peak of the ‘proverbial hill;” thinking 50 is a good goal to have as the halfway mark.  Then after reading an article written by the Huffington Post which quoted the OECD on life expectancy rates in the U.S., It hit me that I may have already reached the peak of the hill and without realizing it I am now on the downward slope! YIKES!

U.S. expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1. For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76, while it’s 81 for U.S. women. (At five years, this gap in life expectancy between men and women is smaller than the OECD average of six years).

Livin’ life and making the most of it!

In all honesty, I knew when entering my 40s that I was already halfway to my expiration date. However, if you know an Aquarian, you realize that we live life to the fullest and with optimism, we have a ton of friends (although only a few make our “short” list of “close” friends), we are outgoing and enjoy people in general. According to TLC’s Birthday Astrology Guide, those born on February 11th love challenges, are goal oriented, enjoy life, grow up early, are loyal, trusting, faithful, and honest (all these things I already knew.)  Here’s some more about those born on Feb. 11th.

  • February 11 people seem to feel that no one can have too many friends. They may have a colorful love life, even if it plays second fiddle to their professional goals during their twenties and thirties. Despite their reputation for enjoying the good life, they have a domestic side.
  • February 11 individuals grow up early. They have tremendous emotional resonance and often show a marked precocity in their childhood. They often put off starting a family until later in life because of career commitments. When they become parents, they’re more than equal to the task.
  • Men and women born on February 11 are highly competitive by nature. They’re determined to make it to the top of their profession and will go to great lengths and endure hardship to achieve their aims. They are adept at making money and even better at handling it.
  • February 11 people are among the most goal-oriented of the yearly cycle. They often begin to prepare for their chosen career while children. During the intervening years, they learn lessons about sacrifice and focus. Once they achieve career goals, they are likely to set greater goals. They are all about commitment and find it hard to walk away from a challenge.

Some well known individuals who also share my birthday are Eva Gabor (1919-1995); Jeb Bush, 61; Jennifer Aniston, 45; Cheryl Crow, 52; Burt Reynolds, 78; Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931); Sarah Palin, 50; Tina Louise, 80 (Ginger from Gilligan’s Island); and Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

Facing the future, planning for the retirement years.

As my dear cousin Steven reminded me this morning during his birthday wish, I only have two more years to wait until I will qualify for AARP (like I’m chomping at the bit to add that title to my repertoire of accomplishments.) Question: Can you be considered a “retired person” at the age of 50 if in the United States we have to work until we are at least 62.5 years  of age before we can consider retiring and collecting our earned benefits?  How exactly does that work?  It may be the onset of dementia, but I’m a bit discombobulated on how this works.

Although I bid farewell to the close of my 48th year of life last night I do not foresee many changes for my future.  I am who I am and that’s who I am.  I guess I should get serious about retirement and how all that stuff works but that’s another topic.

I will create my new chapter entitled “My 49th Year” doing what I’ve always done. Perhaps, I’ll add a sprinkle of new adventures, skills, and accomplishments.  There are some goals I’ve been working on, so maybe one or two of them will come to fruition this year.  Regardless of what my new year holds for me…I AM READY and say “Let the adventures continue!

I will close with an email I received from my dear friend John.  He said:

  • Happy birthday, you’re not getting older you’re just a little closer to death.
  • Birthdays are like boogers, the more you have the harder it is to breathe.
  • Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that people who have the most live the longest!
  • Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
  • Better to be over the hill than buried under it.
  • So many candles… so little cake.
  • We know we’re getting old when the only thing we want for our birthday is not to be reminded of it.
  • Happy birthday on your very special day, I hope that you don’t die before you eat your cake.
  • and last but not least; Happy birthday to a person who is smart, good looking, and funny and reminds me a lot of myself.

happy-birthday-to-me2

The Boy and His New Wagon

Good while it lasted

Blue Truck

Well, he drove it for roughly three months and now it has been more than four months since The Boy’s 1995 S10 finally went cuputz; leaving three active drivers with two functioning vehicles. Oh yes, the S10 has certainly seen better days, but nobody loved that bucket of bolts truck more than The Boy.  He had dreams of decking it out with a new “this” and a modified “that.”  He would spend a rare afternoon together with his older brother while looking at automobile parts books and discussing what would look way rad or awesome cool (not words they used but that is how my mind translated what I was hearing) on the truck to personalize it a little and make it his.

New Year, New Wagon

After several months of sharing my car with him and trying to figure out how we were going to acquire a dependable vehicle, I finally decided to just do it.  A few weeks ago we started perusing the internet looking at all types of cars, Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, etc. researching their reliability and durability.  About ten days ago we actually ventured out to car dealerships and braved the bombardment of annoying salespeople.

At one dealership, I was not even out of my car before a salesman was shaking The Boy’s hand and asking him what brought us to the lot. (Duh, a need for a vehicle.  Here’s your sign.)

Several emotionally painful visits to various car lots, I was done…poke me with a fork DONE! Problem was, a car had not yet been identified or purchased. Knowing I was growing tired of searching, The Boy’s older brother “J” offered to go with him to see what else was out there. I was ever so grateful it was a week day and I had to work.

Low and behold, about 90 minutes after their departure, they pull up in the driveway with a test car. I stepped outside and looked it over.  “J” said he checked it out and it seemed to be in good shape and mechanically sound. I asked The Boy if he was comfortable with the vehicle and would he be happy with it ; I was assured he was and would.  I called the dealership and made an appointment to go in the next day and sign the papers.

It’s A Deal

The next evening arrived and The Boy was chomping at the bit to pick up his car.  We arrived and were quickly greeted by the “new” used car sales guy who helped the brothers the day earlier.  Used car sales guy asked me to go with him to fill out documents and sign some papers.  No problem.  After signing several forms/documents that were not carbon, I confirmed that I would be getting a copy of everything I signed.  New used car sales guy replied “I’m not sure if we can do that.”  MOM’s response “you can and you will or we’re gonna have a problem.”  New used car sales guy checked, they could…they did…no problem.

An hour after driving onto the lot in one car, we are pulling out in two. The Boy was beaming from ear to ear and made the comment at dinner a short time later that “all was just right in his world.”

So, how does “The Boy and His New Wagon” come into play? The new (used) vehicle is a Subaru Impreza Wagon. He’s good with that and after looking online, there are many cool mod kits (kid lingo) out there that will jazz (mom lingo) it up and make it really cool!

2002 Subaru Impreza Wagon

2002 Subaru Impreza Wagon

I am impartial to what it looks like, how many doors it has or its color. I just want it to be mechanically sound, and starts when the key is turned. I am happy to have my car sitting in the driveway when I want it and not having to schedule my time with it.

In the end The Boy is uber happy with his new wagon and his friends like it too, probably because they’re not crammed in a little pickup truck; and mom is ecstatic to have her wheels back. (All is right in my world tonight.)

New Year, Adventures, and Memories

Happy New Year

2014-2.jpg

The time has arrive, we have crossed into the year of our Lord, TWO THOUSAND FOURTEEN.  I am ever so excited about what the new year holds for my family and I.  We are all looking forward to the adventures in store and the stories to be shared (blogged).

2014 will be a year of changes, additions, high expectations for us as The Boy graduates from high school in the summer and a couple of months after that, my fourth grandchild will make their arrival.  Sometime during the year I am hoping to get out to Seattle and visit with my oldest son and his family.

I hope you take time for adventures; making sure to include family and friends. From our home to yours, we wish you all a blessed, fulfilled, happy, and adventurous year!

Birthday Surprise Weekend (Part 2) ~ The Phone Call

As we were sitting at the gate waiting to board our flight to Florida, with a plane change in Charlotte, NC, I received a call from my sister-in-law “J”.  Now we all know how loud and busy airports can be and trying to keep our impending surprise a surprise would prove to be most difficult if someone you were trying to surprise called you while waiting at the gate.

My Dilemma

PhoneCallMy cell rings and I’m trying to decide if I should answer it, you see…it was my sister-in-law “J”.  I guess I took too long to answer and the call ended up going to voice mail.  I decided to ring “J” back and I ended up going to into her voice mail so I quickly left a message and hung up .  Wouldn’t you figure, she called me back within a couple of minutes and I had no option by to answer.

Shhh…Its A Secret

Taking the call I tried to walk to a quiet place in the airport (like that was possible), so I could chat and not alert her to my whereabouts by any background noise she might hear.  She was telling me about the party she has arranged for my brother and that she wished we could be there.  Just as I was about to tell her that I’m sure everyone will have a wonderful time…a voice came over the airport loud-speaker announcing our flight was beginning to board.  I panicked and blurted out that I had to go into a meeting and would call her later.  I didn’t give her time to respond as I needed to keep talking so that she couldn’t make out what was being said in the background.  I quickly told her I loved them, hope they have a wonderful time and would talk to her later today, then abruptly disconnected the call.  WHEW!!

After hanging up I started giving my sister a quick overview of the conversation.  Then it hit me. OH NO!!! I just told “J” that I had to go into a meeting.  I don’t go into meetings, I work from home.  Did I just tip her off that something was askew?

Oh well, if she suspected something was up there is nothing I can do about it now; it was time to board the plane and turn off our cell phones.  It would all make sense tonight when we show up to the party.

Check back later for Part 3~B’s First Flight in a Decade

Birthday Surprise Weekend (Part 1) ~ CVG Airport Security

50th BD Surprise

Oh yeah…we’ve known for many years that 2013 would mark our only surviving brother’s 50th birthday.  Although several of us tossed around ideas of what to do for a celebration, my sister-in-law sent a text saying that she’s throwing him a surprise party on July 19th.  My sister and I promptly turned to the internet and checked to see if we could afford a “last-minute” flight to Florida.  After finding airfare that fit within our budget, we quickly reserved three seats, one each for us girls and another for dad (pops).  We decided not to let anyone know we would be there and keep it as a surprise for everyone.

After waiting two very long weeks, our departure date finally arrived.  We woke early to finish some last-minute things on our to-do list, the zipped off to the airport (a full 10 minute drive), with enough time to find long-term parking, hitch a ride on a shuttle to the ticket counter, file through security, and make it to our gate.  Once arriving at the gate, we had about 20 minutes before they started boarding.

But wait, I am getting a little ahead of myself; let’s start from the beginning.

Security, Police Wanna-Be’s, Whatever You Call Them

I guess I should start with letting you know my sister “B” hasn’t flown in almost ten years as it will help you better understand her craziness.  So, it started at the security check point.  I explained to her that you all but strip (or so I sometimes feel) to pass through security.  I explained the totes that you have to put everything in them and walk through the body scanner with nothing in your hands or pockets. (Talk about deer in headlight eyes.)

I walked through the scanner first and was asked to step aside.  The TSA “woman” felt up my hair and quickly learned the bleep they were alerted of was only my hair clip.  After being cleared to retrieve my belongings, I walked over to my bag and was greeted with “Is this your bag?”  Yes, was my reply.  I was then informed that my bag needed to be searched, was asked to step over to another table with the TSA agent and was instructed not to touch the bag while it was being searched.  I said “sure thing” and stood calmly while she searched the bag, knowing I had nothing to hide.

While standing there as my bag was being searched, I looked over my shoulder I saw dad exiting the body scanner and my sister stepping in.  She was told to raise her hands above her head and assumed the “position.”  Being the goofball she is her comment was “ready for my spray tan.”  Nobody other than dad and me thought her comment was funny and I was laughing my head off while standing at the all serious search table with the TSA agent.

The Official Search

I am standing there, my carry on bag being searched and after the TSA agent opened the bag she went directly to my brother’s birthday gift which was in six parts.  As she removed one of the items, the conversation went like this:

TSA: This is a non-allowable item.

Me:  What, really?

TSA: Yes, this is what we consider “slurry.”

Me:  Slurry?  It’s not slurry, it’s Dixie Chili

TSA: Sorry, we cannot allow it on the plane.

Me:  It is in the original sealed can, not opened or tampered with.

Sister:  Can we put our name on it and pick it up when we return in two days?

TSA: Sorry, we have to dispose of it.

Me:  Yeah, we know what y’all are having for lunch.

Sister: Dixie Chili

So needless to say, brother did not get his six cans of the delicious Dixie Chili for his birthday but he thoroughly enjoyed the story and found the events at CVG Airport Security rather humorous, as we all did. (We haven’t even started the 3-day weekend and already….adventures are starting.)

tsaOn our walk to the gate dad shared with me that not only did he go though the body scanner, he also got the hands-on treatment.  To my amazement he asked the groping agent if “they were buying him dinner or at least giving him flowers.”  Gotta love the witty old man and his sense of humor.

Watch out Florida…here we come!

Check back for Part 2~The Phone Call