Retirement – The First Month

It has been almost a month since I turned in my ID card and entered retirement. For the life of me I do not know how I had time to work. The first week I cleaned closets and organized drawers as if there were no work-free tomorrow. The second week, I started to let go of the need to hurry. By the end of the third week, I think I got the hang of it. During those three weeks, I bought a new car, introduced Jon to the joys of thrifty shopping, and made a quick trip out of state to help a friend in need.

For a few weeks before retirement, I shopped to trade in my 2016 Honda Pilot and get a car with a lower payment. I decided on a Kia Sorento. I visited my local Kia dealer but they could not give me the deal that I wanted.  My brother told me about a guy in Granbury that he deals with. Several days after retirement, I called the guy and told him I wanted a 2017 Kia Sorento EX V6, red with stone interior. I described my trade-in and told him how much I wanted to finance. He called back within an hour and told me he would make the deal. He said that he found the car that I wanted at another dealership, which happened to be the dealership I had been dealing with. Typical of my life, I drove 30 miles to Granbury to buy a car that I had first test driven less than a mile from my house. I really love the car and it did not take me long to break it in.

The Saturday following the car purchase, Jon and I went grocery shopping with the new car ride. We first made a trip to Southlake to visit a Centrally located Market wherein Jon could exercise his tendency to be a coffee snob. We also picked up a few things that that are not available at the average super market, one of which was was kimchee, which I hate to see come in the door of my kitchen. If you have ever at any time in your life smelled kimchee, you understand. After that stop we went to a local grocery store that is All about De low prices. Jon doesn’t like this particular store but I persuaded him with stories of all the good deals I found while wiling away retirement hours shopping for granola and bacon. This store requires that one bring their own sacks to bag the groceries. When Jon opened the back of the Sorento, the stuff from the fancy store tumbled out and rolled around the parking lot. The bag blew away and we gave chase to our items in the hot Texas sun. We put everything in the back of the car. I got tears of joy in my eyes when I saw that the kimchee jar did not break. We made our purchases, one of which was a gallon of milk for only $1.99. We loaded the car, retrieved our quarter from the shopping cart, and drove the short distance to our house. For the second time inside an hour, we got a shock when we opened the back of the car. This time, it was because during the ride home, the gallon of the milk tumped over, the cap dislodged, and 2/3 of the contents glug-glugged all over the back of the brand new car.  Luckily, the bulk of the spill was caught by a removable mat which Jon promptly carried to the patio to be sprayed clean. For the next half hour, in the hot Texas sun, we sprayed, sopped and sopped again. Finally, it seemed all traces of the milk were gone. Totally exhausted, I walked into the kitchen and plopped a stack of wet rags on the table, at the same time jostling a bag that crashed to the floor. The fumes that filled the kitchen confirmed that the resident of said bag was the jar of kimchee.

A couple of weeks after I retired, I called Cathy one evening to learn that her husband, who had been sick for a few days, had just been loaded onto a helicopter and was bound for a hospital about 120 miles away. She was frantically driving to the hospital alone. She left her house with no time to arrange for care for the cat or to gather extra clothes. A couple of days later I flew to St. Louis. The plan was to rent a car, drive about 120 miles to her house in rural Missouri, pack a bag, put the cat in boarding, then drive to the hospital to deliver the much needed clothes and to visit offer what support may be necessary. About 40 miles out of St. Louis, the tire pressure warning message came on. Several minutes later an exit boasted a Dollar General and fuel. I pulled into the parking lot of the convenience store with the fuel only to learn that a robbery had taken place at the Dollar General. That explained the presence of all three of the patrol cars for the surrounding counties clustered in the road. After securing a tire gauge from the clerk inside and googling the recommended tire pressure for the vehicle I was driving I determined that the rear tire on the driver’s side was indeed leaking — it was down to 24 of the recommended 34 psi. I topped it off and went on my way. Every time the warning came on, I stopped to get air. While bouncing down the gravel road that makes up the last five miles to Cathy’s house, I wondered how much more the faulty tire could take.  When I arrived at her house, I walked through the trees lining the walk to the door.  The minute I cracked the door, a black paw popped out announcing the cat’s intention to make to the outside.  I managed to ward her off while I squeezed inside. The cat began to yowl her insistence on getting out the door. I called the rent car company only to be told that I needed to go to the nearest airport or, if the tire went completely flat, call the road side service number for assistance for the small fee of $89.99. During this entire conversation, the cat was wrapped around my ankle vigorously kicking my feet with her back feet to convince me that she should be let out the door. I finally got off the phone, peeled the cat off my leg and began to pack a bag. I had no choice but to try to make it to the hospital with the faulty tire.

As I packed the suitcase for Cathy and her husband, I kept hearing a buzzing noise. Then, I felt something moving in my hair. I ran to the bathroom mirror and turned on the light. There was a bee stuck in my hair and trying very hard to sting me. I just about jumped out of my skin. I do not do well with creepy, crawly, buzzy things. I decided to flick the bee really hard, which dislodged it to zoom around trailed by the cat who jumped and tumbled across the room chasing the bee, leaving a scattering of overturned nick-nacks in her wake. Finally, with bag packed and cat in carrier, I set off to rendezvous with the boarding facility, then head for the hospital. I aired the tire before I left.  Little did I know that there were many miles between me and the next air pump.

As I left town, I picked up my phone and said “OK Google – navigate to hospital.” The screen indicated that I would arrive at my destination in 116 minutes. This did not happen. As Cathy’s small Missouri town faded from my rearview mirror, I was faced with nothing but corn fields. The navigation instructed that I continue on Hwy. 24 for 35 miles, then turn left on Hwy. 151. I did so without meeting any cars or seeing any sign of civilization. As I continued on Hwy. 151, minute after minute passed without a hint of civilization. I did not see another town, another car, no sign of life other than an occasional farm house about a mile off of the road.  The navigation instructed that I continue on Hwy. 151 for 55 miles, then turn right on Hwy. 22. At one point, with no Hwy. 22 in sight, the GPS announced “in 300 ft., turn left.” What?? Turn left on what, a corn row? Being a compliant person, I slowed the car and, as the GPS announced “turn left” spotted a deer trail of sorts – two lines of gravel separated by tall grass. I turned. I continued “for one mile” with gravel loudly beating the bottom of the car. I then, followed instruction and turned left on another trail, then another, then I was back to Hwy. 151 and turned left. I was beginning to think I was in the middle of a Stephen King movie. I called Jon and, in near panic, told him all that was happening. He located my phone and assured me that Hwy. 22 was ahead of me, that the GPS probably acted weird because it lost signal, and to stay on track until I got to Hwy. 22 no matter what the GPS said.  I white knuckled it for a few more minutes and did indeed find Hwy. 22. I took the turn on two wheels. I was amazed that the low pressure light was still silent. I made it to the hospital. Clothes were delivered, I was glad to see both Cathy and her husband. He had taken a turn for the better so Cathy and I went to dinner. The next morning the tire pressure was down to 10 psi. I drove the car to the local rental car office and traded for a little compact car that I barely fit. Small but sturdy, the car took me safely to the airport in St. Louis and I returned home without further incident. I gave a big sigh of relief that not one representative at the airport or car rental office realized that my driver’s license was expired.

Tomorrow, we fly to Virginia for the annual Keatley gathering where we will meet with Jon’s sisters and families in the town where Jodi, Jon’s mother is in a nursing home. This year the theme is tropical and they are decorating with parrots. I have two Jimmy Buffet parrot hats in my suitcase along with nine pair of parrot sunglasses. A good time should be had by all.

Happy July 4 to everyone; be safe.

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