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Today is a special anniversary for me. Two years ago, on April Fool’s Day I got up and went to work for the very last time. That was it. My thirty year and one day anniversary of Federal employment. I would have reitred the day I was eligible but adding one day gave me the total, including unused sick leave, needed to add another month to my pension calculation.

I always said I would only work thirty years and then walk. I wanted to work, but no longer needed to, once we got our town house paid off. We were lucky that we bought our town house before the crazy real estate market in Maryland. We were smart to keep cars for 12-15 years, and never buy on credit.

We saved like crazy to buy this place we wanted for our retirement, so we could enjoy it and our hobbies, away from the traffic and the noise. The view from the front porch alone is worth it, most sunsets are spectacular.

I know I am lucky to be retired so young. I was 57 when I retired. I started working in 1968 when I was 15 1/2, in order to afford Catholic schools. Worked through college. Became a teacher. Met my husband, and at 27 fell into a mathematician job that had me coding computer models and traveling the world. I loved what I did back then. Of course, 30 years later, I was tired of bureaucracies, but the early years were fun.

My job took me cool places, so that now people say “Are you going to travel?”, and I say “No, not for a while.” Been there, done that, as they say. I spent so much time on the road in the 1980s and 90s, I was glad to take a headquarters job at the Navy Yard and stay in my office. Working for the Navy meant cool travel. Hawaii, San Diego, Bremerton, Port Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale, the Bahamas, Newport RI, the Arctic, and the UK. Bath Iron Works in January stunk, but the rest was pretty amazing.

Add to that, the cruises and trips with friends while we were unencumbered by a mortgage and we have hit four continents and about 60 countries.

Later, when we are finished enjoying the nearby attractions, we may go places again. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter if we hang around here for a while. We have done all sorts of projects, like the roof and the siding.

I just like staying home and tending my gardens.

Cooking up a storm.

Going to the Conservancy a few times a week.

Taking day trips.

Visiting wineries.

Whatever strikes us as interesting. Driving to Chicago for a week, for example. Or, taking trips to markets.

My recent surgery and the extended recovery is a wake up call as well. Health is something we should never take for granted. Putting off retirement if we have the means to do it is risky. I have so many old coworker friends who had health problems soon after retiring. All those years planning and dreaming, then endless doctor visits, surgeries and treatments. Life is precious and not predictable.

Today, one of our closest friends retires after almost twenty five years at the hospital. She is six months younger than I was when I walked. She knows she is lucky to get to do what she wants. She also started working at 15, and like me, worked at one place or another for 42 years. Never taking a break.

I wish her well, and hope we all have years of good times to come. Taking that big step into retirement is scary, we know. Those last few weeks test you as you keep wondering if it is the right thing to do.

I know it was for me.

Getting My Goat …

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… or finding ways to live with lactose intolerance. I already carry around little chewable tablets to deal with foods in restaurants and friend’s homes. As well as dealing with my love of cheese in the first place.

I use goat cheese more and more to avoid the unpleasant after effects of fresh milk cheeses.

Cherry Glen and Firefly Farms are my favorite local sources of goat cheese.

I now found a source of goat’s milk while shopping at Roots the other day.

Here’s to brownies and milk and no problems.

St. Patty’s Day Gifts

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We got lots of gifts today. Perfect weather.

Crock pot corned beef and cabbage.

Mojitos on the patio (hey, they’re green, aren’t they?)

and a spring clean up without lifting a finger.

When we knew I was having surgery, for the first time in seven years, my husband hired a local family owned business to do our spring clean up. I can’t lift or carry, and he was on his own doing things inside and outside our home.

We usually do all our yard work ourselves. I find it relaxing to putter around in my flower beds and spread mulch. I couldn’t do anything this year, so we bit the bullet and hired Rhine, a local west county family in the landscaping business.

Four really good guys came in, removed shrubs, edged all the beds on the property, cleaned it all up, and will be back tomorrow to mulch, with 40 cubic yards of mulch. That’s what it takes to do our entire property.

The fun part for me now is replacing all we took out. I get to choose my shrubs, bushes, ornamental trees and flowers. It was all cleared up and dug up, including a few massive stumps from dead trees we cut down after two years of blizzards.

A clean slate. And, a few froggies in my pond.

I still like to do things myself around here, but it is nice to have locally owned family businesses to turn to when you do need help. This was such a large job, and I can relax and know my husband isn’t pushing himself to the limit doing it all himself.

Now, when it comes to my garden, ain’t nobody touching it but me.


It’s been a few days since I posted and I am bored of doing mostly nothing, so I will be trying out some picture less posting while relying solely on the iPad.

Major surgery will do that to you. After two days at HCGH, being taken care of quite well, I might add, I am home driving my husband crazy with requests. Anterior spinal disk fusion is not simple, nor something from which you bounce back quickly.

Three months ago, I had no idea I needed this done. That’s why I am glad we retired when we did. I had almost two years doing what I wanted before life got in the way of having fun. But, a late Novembeer trip to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack changed all that. It wasn’t a heart attack. It mimicked one, though, and subsequent diagnosis showed degenerative disk disease affecting my back, neck, arms and causing numbness and pain. Not what you want daily in your life.

Friday they did surgery. I get to wear a hard collar for weeks, followed by a combination of hard and soft collars, and can’t lift anything greater than five pounds. No driving for at least a month. My family and friends are all pitching in to help me with things I need to have done.

It will impact my having a garden this year, and we won’t be getting those chickens just yet. Still, I am lucky it was found before the collapsing disks constricted spinal fluid. The garden will be smaller, and more low maintenance. My husband intends to make some raised beds that I can easily reach. We will be going more to Larriland’s and Baugher’s for u pick fruits and veggies.

I may have to change the tag line on my blog for a while to Life in the slowest lane, but that’s better than life in the pain lane.