After almost a dozen years of planning, two RV's purchased (the first was not full-time-ready), debt paid down and medical coverage arranged, I have less than a month until I stop working for a living. Sure, I'll still work to supplement our lifestyle and travel, and I'll finally be able to write several hours a day instead of when I can make the time. There will still be photos to take and blogs to fill. However, my 9-to-5 life (really it's been 6:30-to-4) will finally be in the past.
Writing full-time has been a goal of mine since I began creating and publishing poetry in 2007. Since then, working around my full-time hours, I have published over 300 poems, many with accompanying photos, a poetry primer and five mystery novels (so far), in addition to having a poem purchased and published in a 6th grade textbook by McGraw-Hill. I have had over 7,000 copies of my novels distributed and I'm hoping to increase that tenfold.
Now and in the coming month the retirement transition process is our focus. My wife had already retired but continues to work a few hours a week and that will continue. Our house just sold and we have a slight timing problem -- we have to move out two weeks before my last day at work -- so we have to make arrangements to park our RV somewhere with proximity to my jobsite in the interim. We'll be selling furniture, packing stuff to keep, packing stuff to give to family or donate, and gathering the rest to dispose of.
Our first several months on the road are already planned. We'll be using South Dakota as our home state and we must visit to make those provisions. We have friends in Wyoming to call on, a campout in Moab with our Good Sam group and a few nights on the road before June's Escapade gathering in Missouri. The road then takes us to Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Boston, Montreal and Nashville before heading south for the winter.
My dad passed away when he was just 55, long before he was able to fulfill his retirement plans. Just when my wife's parents were to embark on their retirement adventures, her mom became gravely ill, thwarting their dreams. We feel very fortunate indeed to be able to achieve ours.
A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by a well-known blog, Universal By Design. I'm not all that comfortable on camera, as you'll be able to see, but I think I did explain my journey as a writer pretty well.
Thanks, UBD, for the interview and your other services, which have been outstanding.
Well, it's now on the news... Actual news anchors, whose job it is to talk, are now pronouncing words with the letter "T" without pronouncing the "T." Imagine "bu-un" instead of "button," "Moun-en" rather than "mountain," "cur-en" in place of "curtain." Aaargh! It drives me ba-y...
I first noticed this phenomenon a few years ago when I heard a few millennials having trouble pronouncing words with a single or a double "T" in the middle. They would get right up to the "T" sound and instead pronounce a hard vowel, whatever the following vowel was. It bugged me, but I felt sorry for the young hipsters with the speech impediment. But now, several people at work do this, people in the store, people in all walks of life, and yes, public figures and news anchors. How embarrassing!
Maybe someday I'll be the embarrassed one for speaking in such a quaint, old-fashioned, proper manner.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but I find that photographs are much better at provoking emotion than videos on subjects where both are options. I give the nod to movies, documentaries and other interesting story-telling segments, such as you might find on YouTube or Facebook. America's Funniest Videos wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as America's Funniest Pictures...
I have thought many times about shooting video rather than photos. Both of my cameras can record HD and 3D video, in fact. But as I move through the Internet, I'm often moved by pictures far more than by other media.
Some of the most famous, iconic photography in history- the Hindenburg burning, Half Dome at Yosemite, workers on a skyscraper girder,the bodies from the Holocaust, etc.- would not be as iconic as video. Video is spoon-fed to viewers, always making them focus on the movement and thinking about what the videographer intends. Photographs give a viewer time to think, time to explore the picture, time to remember similar sights, time to see what they can see.
The Hindenburg disaster is a perfect example. The film is horrific, but it goes from the beginning to end while one watches the dirigible go up in flames. But once over, you have but a few seconds to feel sadness or horror, or whatever one might experience. Then you move on.
However, one may look at a photograph for several minutes, or longer, conjuring one's own story or memories, experiences from the past, or pure awe. It takes time for this to happen and photography allows one the time.
There are exceptions. I remember several distinct videos over the years. One was from 1978 when Karl Walenda fell to his death on camera while he was crossing a high wire between two skyscrapers in Puerto Rico. Another was when a reporter, stopped at a checkpoint in Nicaragua and being filmed by his crew, was kicked in the side and then shot in the head while prone on the ground. One more that comes to mind was watching live as the second jet hit the World Trade Center.
Photos, though, are able to reach your mind like no other medium.
Last summer, they cut down a 50' tall tree in our front year because of its rotting trunk. Squirrels and a dozen or so species of birds frequented that tree, and my eight bird feeders seemed to need filling continuously. This spring, there are fewer squirrels and almost no birds to be seen. My bird feeders haven't needed refilling in over a month. Even the birds that were feeding through the winter aren't here any longer.
Seems really odd... There are still an abundance of trees around my neighborhood, just not the big one in my yard. In fact, my front yard still has a couple of large trees near the street and we have a nicely growing set of aspens in the back. What gives?
If you have never played baseball, you may never be able to appreciate the sport like those who have. Softball doesn't count- the feel of the ball hitting the bat, catching a fly or a grounder... it's just different from hardball.
Some of my fondest memories as a kid were of playing baseball in the schoolyard behind my house. We never had eighteen kids to play at one time, so we used to make up games for as few as three players. One such game was called cutthroat, though we often played with four or six kids. The grass field at the schoolground bordered a fenced tennis court, and the chain link fence was about fifteen feet tall, perfect! It also had a horizontal steel tension bar halfway to the top, an ideal differentiator for doubles and triples.
We walked off a good distance from the base of the fence, usually about 200 paces, and set up our makeshift home plate with whatever we could find- a paper sack, a textbook, or maybe a bald spot in the grass. We then set up foul guides the same way. Any ball that went left of the left foul "pole," right of the right pole, or didn't make it to the imaginary line between them was a foul ball.
The team that was "up" had the bat and ball, the others took the field between the foul line and the back fence. Teams pitched underhand to themselves and we kept track of imaginary runners on bases by recounting after each at-bat. Runners were only forced forward by a single, double, triple or home run, never advancing otherwise, and never taking an extra base. Any ball caught by the fielding team by fly or grounder was out, as was any pop foul caught. If a ball got past the fielders to the fence on the ground, it was deemed a single. If a ball hit the fence on the fly it was either a double or triple, depending if it hit above or below the steel divider. A home run cleared the fence into the tennis courts, which, since we paced correctly, almost never happened.
One summer afternoon we were playing and my team was down by three with two outs in the 9th inning. I came to bat with the bases loaded, having not hit a home run all season. My good friend and teammate Scott Powell pitched to me and I hit a foul ball. Then something remarkable happened- I hit the next pitch but never felt the ball hit the bat. Now I know that I had hit it on the "sweet spot" of the bat, but that ball almost cleared the back fence on the other side of the courts. A grand slam that won the game? Absolutely exciting to a 14-year-old kid with asthma. But that was secondary to the memory of just hitting the ball so perfectly.
That was one of my favorite summers growing up- not yet in high school but old enough to do many things with my friends. Baseball filled our lives with activity, competitiveness and many, many memories.
I am picking up our 5th wheel this evening, newly de-winterized, and preparing to take only our second trip in our RV since we bought it. Last fall, we had taken one trip and while we were waiting to take one last mini-vacation in November before winter set in, an arctic blast arrived and put an end to any plans for the season.
My little brother and his wife will be joining us on Friday for a nice weekend away to celebrate his half-century birthday. Of course, this is Colorado, so naturally snow showed up yesterday in the forecast. Snow or not, nature is calling to me and my camera equipment is charged and ready. I'm like the postman: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night..."
Diane Tegarden recently released a book called "How to Do It Yourself... From A to Z" and I wanted to pass along my review:
A cross between "Hints from Heloise" (anyone remember that?) and the latest "life hack" series, Diane Tegarden's latest work seems to have many of the answers to questions often asked, at least the ones that are from A to Z. She tells how and why to start a budget, when to co-mingle finances, how to avoid being burglarized, how to be ecology-minded at Christmas time, how and why to break up with the Internet, how to eat healthier, and many other very interesting tidbits. An easy read, this was most enjoyable and I recommend it to anyone who might have a question or two about living life.
Here's where to find the book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Do-Yourself-A-Z-Tegarden-ebook/dp/B00VTRNLLI/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8
As I close in on my target weight and the one year mark since I began limiting calories, I think about my go-to snacks-- Minute Maid Soft Frozen Lemonade, Lo-cal pumpkin spice bread, Slow-churned vanilla ice cream and trail mix. Trail mix, in particular, seems to be natures perfect concoction. Peanuts, cashews, almonds, raisins and M&M's give me both the salt and sweet I crave without adding a single pound to my weight. At least, that's the way it seems.
For the record, I do supplement the trail mix I get from Sam's Club with craisins, more cashews, and dry roasted peanuts.
When I searched the Internet for trail mix articles, I found that some strongly railed against both M&M's and craisins in many trail mixes as unreasonable sources of sugar. My own results seem to contradict these reports. Sometimes a little sugar keeps me from eating a lot of sugar.
Finding go-to low-calorie snacks is vital to a successful weight-loss program. As a non-professional in nutritian and dietary matters, I highly recommend the perfect food.
People have mentioned it to me before, but it does seem like most extremely creative people enjoy a variety of art genres. Personally, I write poetry, lyrics, novels, op-ed pieces and blogs, shoot photography, dabble in interior design, enjoy website design, sing karaoke, and if I had any talent with it, I'd probably play a musical instrument. For some reason I don't do well with painting or sculpting, but I used to draw quite a bit. I'll bet if I looked for other creative crafts, I'd probably try them. You should have seen me with Legos when my kids were in grade school...
I believe the world needs creative minds, but I don't know if everyone has the talent for it. You can't teach art to someone without aptitude or interest. You can, however, teach art appreciation. One problem in today's modern world is that there are many genres being neglected to make room for gaming, reality shows and sports.
There was a time where every school kid was expected to give a musical instrument a try. School budgets don't allow for that these days. I tried the piano, the baritone and the coronet, but I just didn't have any talent. It's one shortcoming I have- if I can't be good at something, I tend not to do it.
How does one get to Carnegie Hall? Via GPS, of course...