1 Year Of Being Happily Retired- Bring On Year 2!

1 Year Of Being Happily Retired- Bring On Year 2!

On May 14th, 2020, I retired from my job of many years as a college professor. It was during the early days of the Covid pandemic, and while there was a lot of uncertainty in that regard, I had no hesitation as I moved on to the next stage of life. So this week’s blog post is a reflection on the past year.

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I made the decision to retire two years before the actual date. I wanted plenty of time to get the financial side of things in place. I also like to plan ahead and let ideas “sink in”, so the lead time was beneficial in that respect. I didn’t share my decision with anyone at work until the last year I planned to be there. I also found a fun countdown app for my phone that had pictures of palm trees similar to the photo above. It had the time down to weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds. I found it entertaining, and a good conversation starter.

Things were moving along smoothly in the fall semester of 2020, and the search for my successor was starting. I was luckily able to participate in that process. This gave my students and the College time to get ready for the change in leadership, and also allowed me to wrap up some long term projects. There were also some funny moments. My desk top computer had a very old modem and monitor. When they weren’t working well, I asked the IT department for a date when they would be replaced. Their first response was that they heard I was retiring, as if that meant I didn’t need a functional computer for the 10 months I would still be there. But they did finally get some new equipment installed, and I was able to use it.

One of my retired friends told me the last year would fly by, and she was right. It also gave me a new perspective on decisions that faculty were involved in. When you have an unknown amount of time left to work, you are more vested in the impact of certain decisions. With this in mind, I tried not to offer my opinion on things I wouldn’t be around to experience. Unless it involved something with legal implications, and then I usually couldn’t help myself. I remained engaged and hopefully served as a resource due to working for a lot of different leaders, and having served on almost every committee imaginable.

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The year was moving along at a rapid clip until the middle of March, when the pandemic hit the Midwest, and we seemed to shut down overnight. It also meant moving the entire curriculum online, and making sure my adjunct instructors and students were navigating this monumental transition that we pulled off in less than a week. I am eternally grateful to my part time faculty and former students for rising to the occasion, and finishing the semester on time. We learned a lot, and had some fun moments too as working and studying from home became the norm. Family members inadvertently “attending” classes as they walked through a room. Very relaxed students with hoodies covering their faces and pets draped around their shoulders or in their lap. And we had to develop some rules, such as turning on your camera during class so that we knew who was present.

My last visit to campus was in May, when I cleaned out my office. I didn’t bring much home, but there was one gem on my bulletin board that made the trip. It was an old cartoon, where a person is going to a meeting at a new office. When they arrive, they tell the receptionist they are looking for a conference room called Where Hope Goes to Die. She says it is down the hall, near the Rectangle of Futility. It still makes me laugh.

Even though my last days were not what I envisioned, I happily settled in for my new life. I spent the first month enjoying my ability to stay up late and sleep in as long as I wanted in the morning. Heavenly for a natural night owl. I also started on some long delayed house projects, like cleaning junk drawers and closets. We weren’t going to restaurants, so we started cooking new recipes and enjoying old favorites. I also rediscovered my love of baking. Unfortunately, I also rediscovered my love of eating way too much of everything I baked. Case in point would be cinnamon roles. I found my tried and true recipe to make these from scratch, but they didn’t rise very well. I baked them anyway, and they looked flat and bizarre, at best. Did this stop me from eating them? No. Sugar, butter, and cinnamon should never go to waste.

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Warmer weather brought the ability to get outside and play some socially distant golf, and float around a friend’s pool every week after we played. So fun after being isolated for so long. I also played pickleball, which is a cross between tennis and racket ball, played on a smaller court. Ideal for older folks. And great exercise for those who over ate their baked goods.

We tried to stay in touch via Zoom calls with our extended family, who were living in two countries, four states and four different time zones. We managed to put this together a few times, even though some cameras were pointing at the ceiling, and schedules could be hard to coordinate. During one call, my then four year old granddaughter said “This is chaos!”. How right she was. But it was good to connect because we were still unable to visit in person.

August was an interesting month because I wasn’t going back to the classroom for the first time in decades. I had a nagging feeling, that I couldn’t quite shake, that I was behind and needed to get ready. I was able to play fall golf for the first time in years. But as October came along, and outdoor sports closed for the season, it was time to focus on activities at home again. Netflix was a great escape, and we got caught up on several series we hadn’t had time to watch in pre-Covid days.

The holidays were hard without sharing them with family, and winter weather settled in for its usual stay. But I had fun writing this blog, and keeping in touch with family via phone calls and video chats. And I watched along with everyone else as vaccines were developed and tested in a record amount of time. It was a huge relief to get the Pfizer version of the shot in February and March. Our public health department and medical professionals did an outstanding job of getting the vaccines distributed, and they continue to do so.

Overall, I have found that being retired is one of the best stages of life. In many ways it reminds me of middle school. That is the last time I remember having loads of free time, playing sports, hanging out with friends, and minimal responsibilities. So for me, retirement has been a lot like middle school, but with money, a permanent boyfriend/spouse, and a driver’s license. What’s not to love about that?

If you are thinking of retiring, I highly recommend it. You will know when the time is right, and hopefully will be able to do so on your own terms and timetable. And check out the free retirement countdown app with the palm trees. It will come in handy!

Social Media Wasn’t Around When We Were Young And Foolish (Thank Goodness!)

Social Media Wasn’t Around When We Were Young And Foolish (Thank Goodness!)

As I get older, I increasingly notice how different my high school and college years were compared to the social media era. It was somewhat noticeable when raising my own children, but they didn’t have social media to deal with until their late high school or college years. While I love keeping in touch with friends and relatives via Facebook, I am also aware of the hazards that arise when every aspect of life is subject to being recorded, and viewed by the world. And the permanence of those images can create a lot of unintended consequences. That is why I am thankful that none of of this was around in the 70’s and 80’s. But some of the memories live on, and they are funny.

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I will start with high school. The most high tech thing we had in those days was a polaroid camera like the one pictured above. Regular cameras had film that had to be developed. But these new fangled cameras produced pictures instantly and printed them out one at a time. That is the closest thing we had to anything simultaneous. And you could destroy any of them you didn’t like, so not really a permanent thing.

What would smart phones have recorded in those days? Silly stuff, like driving around in cars with too many people inside, and not a seat belt in site. Funny things too. Streaking was a fad in the 70’s, and naked boys would run amok in the strangest places, hoping not to get caught. There was even a hit song called The Streak, where the singer tries to shield his wife from the streakers by saying “Don’t look Ethel!”. There were streakers at sports events on tv, concerts, and even my all girls high school. That created quite a stir, because girls would run to the windows, scream, and try and figure out who they were.

But the most infamous evening would have been the one time I had a more than a few friends over for a party at my house. It was the summer before my senior year, and my friends and I were pretty bored. We all had part time jobs, but also spent a lot of time at a neighborhood pool where one friend was a life guard. The party plan was hatched one afternoon in June, and we decided it would be more fun if we invited as many people as possible, not just our group of friends. So the date was chosen, and the word was spread by the only means we had- phone calls, and telling everyone we ran into for about two weeks. The concern was that not very many people would show up.

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The big night arrived, and my fellow party planners arrived early to get ready. We had some pop in coolers, and other illegal beverages reserved for ourselves inside the house, snuck into the basement from the lower level sliding door. A few snacks outside, where the party was supposed to be taking place. Our illegal beverages consisted of one bottle of wine (Boone’s Farm, which still makes me shudder thinking of the taste), and one can of beer. I don’t remember how we got them, but it wasn’t much for a group of four. So we had some laughs, sampled our beverages, and waited for the guests to arrive.


And boy did they arrive. A trickle at first, but as it got dark out it was more of a tsunami. We knew the first wave of attendees, but as the night wore on, most were strangers. Our yard was very flat and pretty big, and it was full. The crowd was also spilling over into the neighbor’s yard, a nice Mormon family with ten kids. Their lights were on and several of the kids were watching the party unfold, but the parents never came out so I’m guessing they were gone for the evening. I never did an actual count, but am guessing we had at least 100 guests. Impressive considering it was all word of mouth. The first “casualties” of the evening were a couple of friends my mom recognized as she stood on the deck overlooking the back yard; their erratic behavior prompted a phone call to their parents to come pick them up. I walked one of them to her mom’s car, and told her that someone had spiked her can of pop with vodka. My first legal client! And it seemed to work.

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But the party carried on, and people were still arriving at the time we said it would be over. I knew it was time to try and get people to leave, but wasn’t having much success. The final straw was hearing the unmistakable cadence of Harley Davidson engines. A caravan of of them, with burly guys wearing leather jackets, pulled up in front of the house. Their bikes had Iowa plates, so word had really spread. My mom had been the only one monitoring the event up to that point, but the bikers were too much. My dad went out to greet them, and told them to move along. And with that, the party was over.

The next phase was the clean up. Most of the guests had brought their own illegal beverages, so some friends and I cleaned up everything we could see. The debris filled several garbage bags. The grass didn’t fair too well either. And we didn’t get all of the empty cans and bottles. The following fall, spring and summer, they were still popping up. Kind of like an unintentional archeological dig. Not surprisingly, that was the first and last such event I hosted.

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College and law school parties were on another level. In college, people started renting apartments, and 19 was the drinking age, so a more legal way to entertain ourselves. Lots of people smoked cigarettes, so the parties were usually hazy rooms with pizza on the floor and albums playing on stereos. Apartment clubhouses were occasionally rented, and there were some interesting moments. I recall one funny but reckless friend who liked to dive into apartment pools, fully clothed and wearing heavy boots. He also rode a tricycle into a pool once, in the fall when it didn’t have any water. He would also eat anything within reach, so nothing was safe.

And then we have law school, the three years of immense stress that produced many a memorable evening. Some of the best ones were on weeknights, planned around 10 pm while sitting in the library. Some friends lived in a decrepit house we called the Cockroach Palace, or Palace for short. They hosted most of these impromptu gatherings, and it was easy because everyone brought their own drinks and they didn’t keep any food around because of the roaches. Sometimes these were designated as Hat Parties. You had to wear one to get in. I had a brown velvet number, with netting in the front, that I got at a thrift store. I kept it in the car since these parties could pop up at any time.

My last year, I lived in a townhouse with three other law students, and we hosted some fun gatherings too. I have a vivid memory of someone who became a respected corporate attorney sitting on our kitchen floor, eating cookie dough with a huge spoon. Another classmate liked to write, and he would sit at a desk and type a story (yes, typewriters were all we had!) created about the attendees. Anyone could add to the story, which usually was a cross between a western and a romance novel. They were hilarious, and I wish I had saved them.

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Music tended toward 60’s classics; The Supremes and Beach Boys were played a lot. Leslie Gore was also a favorite. A coffee table, used as a surf board, crumbled one night. All of our furniture was garage sale quality, but the roommate who owned it wasn’t there that evening and was not amused. Picky, picky. And there may have been some lip synching of Stop in the Name of Love, complete with choreography. I may have been Diana Ross a time or two. Actually, all the time. At our graduation, a classmate introduced me to his girlfriend, and she said “Aren’t you the one who imitates Diana Ross?” I told her she had me confused with someone else. Note- there were only about 25 women in our class of 140, so this wasn’t a very effective diversionary tactic.

Although I think social media can come back to haunt anyone in their future endeavors, attorneys have to be particularly careful. Imagine the questions U.S Senators would ask of a nominee to a federal judgeship who graduated when everything was recorded-Can you tell us why you’re sitting on the floor, and what you are eating from the bowl in this photo? Please refer to exhibit number two. You appear to be using a coffee table as a surfboard in this picture. Do you have any recollection of doing this? In exhibits 3-7, you have a beer in your hand, and are wearing a hat that looks like a dead animal. What were you doing when these photos were taken?

Our last party was held the weekend we graduated. By this time, the party planners lived in a better house, and we invited our families, at least for the first part of the evening. They also served food, so there were some adult touches to this last hurrah. But it didn’t take long for the music to get turned up a little too loud, and the party goers to lapse back into their old habits. Some of my classmates had parents who were attorneys or judges. They were the first to leave. My parents took their cue from them and made a hasty exit as well. But the rest of us stayed, and celebrated our final get together before the dreaded bar exam that would take place in a few short months.

As my generation retires and heads to the days of rest and relaxation, I wish the social media generation luck as they contend with their digital past. While there will be a lot of harmless photos of what they ate, a phenomena I really don’t understand, there will also be less flattering images floating around. And from our easy chairs, the Boomers will look back fondly, and once again give thanks for the anonymity of our young and foolish days.

Every Mother Is A Working Mother

Every Mother Is A Working Mother

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With Mother’s Day on the horizon, and thirty plus years of being a mom under my belt, this seems like a good week to post some reflections on motherhood. And a few funny stories too, since humor is one of the reasons this blog exists. As I look back on my adult years, I realize that I have lived a variety of stages of motherhood- from being home full time, to working part time, and working full time. Those stories will come later. First, I’ll start with the working full time, childless era, distant memory that it is.

DINKS

Baby Boomers were the first generation that had a lot of dual income married couples, without kids. I saw this referred to once as DINKS- double income, no kids. This time of life was interesting, because we were navigating our first professional jobs, and getting used to being married too. In most ways it was a fun time, with disposable income and time to enjoy family and friends. The only downside was that interest rates, which I never paid attention to prior to this time, were sky high. In 1982, we got a 13% interest rate on our first mortgage, and were lucky to have one below 16-17%. Luckily that didn’t last forever, but it made buying your first home a challenge. After you were married a year or two, the questions usually started. Questions from this era– when are you going to have kids? How many kids do you want? These were usually from well meaning friends or family, but a bit intrusive. I would smile and say “someday” and leave it at that. Or pretend I didn’t hear them, and look confused.

Stay At Home Mom

After child number one arrived, I decided to take off what I thought would be a few years to stay home with her. There wasn’t a part time work option in the legal field, or I might have tried that at some point. But I was fortunate to have the ability to take time off. Baby number two came along three years later, so a few years off stretched into eight. These were very busy times, and if you had a spouse who worked long hours or traveled for a living like mine did, it was also very tiring. In a strange way, the days were usually long but the years seemed to fly by. And for some reason, these days were also part of what came to be known as Mommy Wars. What a bleak term. But it pretty well sums up the divide between some moms who were working full time, and some who were home full time. Although the idea was supposed to be that women could choose how to approach motherhood and paid employment, that got lost along the way. It was as if your choice was the only correct thing to do. It also didn’t take into account that many moms don’t have a choice at all, and need to work to survive. For me, it also lead to some strange interactions. Questions from this era– why did you go to law school, if you were going to stay home with your kids? Don’t you get bored being at home all the time? And my personal favorite, what do you do all day? After a few years, I started losing my patience with all of this. By that point, my answers were as follows- I went to law school because I though seven years of college would be a barrel of fun, and I am so busy taking care of two little kids I don’t have time to be bored. But I saved my favorite answer for the last question. What do I do all day? I was asked this once at a cocktail party, and said ” I sit on the couch, and eat bon bons. The toddlers feed, cloth, and change themselves. Sometimes I turn them loose outside, unattended.” I may have had a glass or two of wine. And it may have been a little more colorful than that, but you get the idea, since this is a wholesome blog.

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Full Time Mom and Employee

I was able to work part time for several years when my kids were in grade school, and that was an ideal arrangement at the time. I got to keep up to date in my field, but also be available for the many activities and events that the school years bring. Eventually, a full time position became available at the college where I was teaching part time. So I applied and was hired for what became a long career as a law professor. I enjoyed teaching, and I found the job’s time off and flexibility ideal for raising school aged kids who became teenagers and college students during my career. Just as the stay at home years flew by, the high school and college years went even faster. I remain gratified that I was able to find a job that allowed me to do what I needed to do at home and at work. Questions during this era-not really mom related, but there was the occasional, why aren’t you practicing law? Easy to answer this one. I did a lot of free legal work for my family, and teaching law was way more fun than the practice thereof. I made less money, but having summers and lots of other time off was worth it.

Every Mother Is A Working Mother

So my various work/motherhood arrangements have lead me to the conclusion that every mother works her hardest at whatever path she chooses to take. And the way employers treat their working mothers has a lot to do with how they feel about their jobs. Unfortunately, I think moms are frequently expected to work as if they don’t have children, and parent as if they don’t have a job. Talk about a “no win” situation. Sadly, I think Mommy Wars still exist to some degree, and I have read that it extends now more toward different parenting philosophies and practices rather than stay at home versus career moms. Add in the advent of social media, and there is plenty of room for judgment and discord. But I also think there are lots of moms who want to connect and support each other. Maybe the pandemic has given us all a reminder just how hard it is to raise kids, and that connecting with other parents is something that moms and dads really need.

In the coming week, I will be remembering my late mother, who was a working mom in the 1960’s, long before it was a common thing to do. I hope you all have time to celebrate the moms in your lives, or their memories, next weekend. Happy Mother’s Day, one and all.

The Girl Scouts Go To Mall Of America

The Girl Scouts Go To Mall Of America

One of my favorite activities during grade school was being a Girl Scout. I went to a very large Catholic grade school, so becoming a Brownie, and later, a Girl Scout, was a great way to be with friends in a smaller group. I had a very nice leader, and we met at her house one afternoon a week. We worked on badges, sold cookies, and went camping at a lodge once a year. Great fun, and wonderful memories. The only challenging part was the once a year gathering of all the troops in the school parking lot, where the overall school coordinator was in charge. I think she had been in the women’s army corps during WWII, because she had a scout uniform and had us marching around in our uniforms. It must have been a sight. But overall, scouting was a good experience.

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When my oldest daughter started first grade, she joined a Brownie troop, and later became a Girl Scout too. I helped with the troop starting in about fifth grade, and the leader was a good match for me because she did a lot of camping and was familiar with the camps and lodges the local council owned. That troop was very “outdoorsy”. We not only camped in lodges, she convinced me to come along for platform tent camping one frigid fall weekend. It was the first time I had slept in a tent, and while I enjoyed it, I struggled with the outhouses. But a good time was had by all, and I appreciated my indoor plumbing a lot when I got home.

When my younger daughter joined Brownies, I once again volunteered to help. Apparently I was the only one, and so by default became the leader. Luckily another mom agreed to chair the cookie sales, and we had a pact to stay active as long as the other one was on board. We ended up selling a lot of cookies every year, and that was fortunate since a major trip was in our future. But first a few funny stories.

I remember having about six girls in my van on the way home from a scouting activity. The radio was on, and the dj was talking about what he wore to bed at night- in his case, pajamas. The girls then decided to share with me what each of their father’s wore, or in some cases didn’t wear, to bed. I never knew so many middle aged dads went commando in the evening, if they were telling the truth. I also tried to change the subject several times, but to no avail. It was months before I could make eye contact with some of the dads at school events.

Another memorable trip was camping at one of the scout lodges. I was in charge of making the camp fire, and it was a first for me. If you read the blog regularly you will know that I spent all of my summers playing in tennis tournaments, so I never went to summer camp. But I knew we needed a fire to make smores, so I had my instruction book from the scout office, my kindling, and logs ready to go. The girls stood by with their graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows and growing skepticism as I fumbled along. But I did eventually get the fire going, we had our smores, and I didn’t have to use the back up toaster smores I brought along. Crises avoided.

When the girls got older, and busier with sports and other activties, it was hard to find time for scouts. So the cookie mom and I came up with an idea for the girls- we suggested they plan a trip and raise money as a troop to pay for it. We would spend two years planning it, and sell as many cookies as possible to pay for it. The goal was to have enough money for each troop member and her mom to participate, and that food, lodging, and gas money would come from the troop’s account.

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The next step was to choose the destination. The girls unanimously chose Mall of America, and it worked out quite well. It was within driving distance from Nebraska, and we had several volunteers who had vans and could drive. We made a budget, and the girls set goals for cookie sales to cover the costs. After two years of planning and selling cookies, we had enough money to make the trip. The fact that our troop would travel to a mall did elicit some comments, mostly from former Boy Scout dads, along the lines of “What kind of scout troop goes to a mall?” Well, ours does! It also created a stir with another troop of girls the same age at our school, who heard about our trip and then planned one, also to Mall of America, but at a different time.

So on a warm spring day when there was a break from school, we loaded up our minivans and set out for the mall. Two moms and four girls per van was a perfect ratio. I wasn’t in the lead because of my legendarily bad sense of direction, (see prior post here https://funnynana.com/2021/04/05/help-for-the-directionally-challenged/,) so it was an uneventful trip to Minnesota, and we arrived at our hotel. It had an atrium, a free breakfast buffet, and elevators the girls loved to ride. If you have ever travelled with middle school aged girls, you will know that going to sleep at a reasonable hour isn’t their strong suit. There were lots of giggles and attempts to leave one room and visit another, but this wasn’t our first rodeo in terms of chaperoning. It took awhile, but once we got everyone settled in, several hours of slumber occurred. And the next day, we were ready for our first foray to the mall.

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We ate at the Rainforest Cafe, and went to the indoor amusement park they had complete with a ferris wheel and other rides. And of course some shopping occurred. Two funny things happened as we shopped. My credit card kept getting denied. This had never happened to me before, and after three or four times, I finally asked the store manager to call the card company ( pre cell phone days), and let me talk to them. They said it was because of atypical charge activity, but once we had a chat all was well. And one of the other moms, who had recently gotten a very short haircut, kept being called “sir” when she was paying for her merchandise. We laughed a lot about all of this, but it did slow our day down unnecessarily.

The last day we were in Minnesota was a Sunday, so we took the girls to mass at a lovely church near the mall, and then hit the road back home. Most of the girls slept on this portion of the trip, and we pulled into Omaha in time to get everyone home and ready for school the next day.

The mall trip was planned to coincide with their last year in scouts, so as the school year drew to a close, so did our troop. I am not sure how the ensuing years have gone by so quickly, but they certainly have. The girls have all grown up, and gone on to full lives of their own. I hope they have fond memories of our troop, all of our badges and activities, and of course, the infamous trip to the mall. It was a great way to end our years together.

Laughter, Even At The Wrong Time, Is The Best Medicine

Laughter, Even At The Wrong Time, Is The Best Medicine

Who among us doesn’t love a good laugh? And there is research that laugher really is the best medicine. It is one of the most therapeutic things around- it can lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, and doesn’t cost a thing. And it can help patients heal from illness or deal with chronic conditions. The humor- health connection came to prominence in the late 70’s with the publication of the book, Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient, by journalist Norman Cousins. In this best selling book, he recounted watching Marx Brothers movies and reading humorous books to help him cope with a debilitating illness. He discovered that “a good belly laugh” could lead to much lower pain for up to two hours. Taking Mr. Cousins’ advice to heart, I will recount three personal examples of laughter providing some much needed relief, even if done at the wrong time.

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My first example involved a ukalele, an elderly relative, and a musical performance. It was not, of course, intended to be funny, but I thought it was hilarious. Some background is in order- my maternal grandmother, Joyce, was number ten out of eleven children. With that many offspring, there was a large age difference between her and some of her older sisters. One of them, Annie, had married Joe Casey and moved to South Dakota, where she had a large family of her own. Annie missed her family a great deal, and needed help with her children, so my grandmother was sent to live with her for a year to help. I guess when you have eleven kids, it isn’t unusual to farm one out for awhile. But Joyce was very good natured and helpful, so off she went. Even though Joyce eventually had a large number of nieces and nephews, she maintained a close relationship with the Caseys for the rest of her life.

My mom also got to know the Caseys quite well, and over the years they would come to visit, usually one at a time but sometimes in a group. One group visit occurred when I was about ten years old. We were all invited to a dinner at a relative’s house, and there were a lot of people in attendance. I had received my usual instructions that “children should be seen, and not heard”. (See my first blog post for a refresher on my ability to disrupt events, like a church service https://funnynana.com/2020/11/12/before-i-was-a-nana-i-was-pretty-funny/ ).

I did well that evening until one of the Casey cousins, a woman in her sixties, pulled out her ukalele and started to play. I was ok with the playing, but then she started to sing. It wasn’t really singing, more of a warble. This all seemed perfectly normal to the adults, but not to me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stifle the laughter, especially when she tried to hit a high note. And she had quite a repertoire of songs, so there were a lot of high notes. After some dagger like stares from my mom, I excused myself to an upstairs bedroom until the “concert” was over. But I had to avoid eye contact with the performer for the rest of the night or I would start laughing again.

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Laughter Incident Number Two happened at an annual social event held by the college where I worked. It was designed to honor students, and they were introduced to the audience during a formal dinner. As each student came forward, the emcee read a reflection that they had written. Several of the students being honored this particular evening were visiting our college as foreign exchange students. One of the exchange student’s introduction mentioned how much she loved all of the cafeteria food, and then listed each thing she liked- in great detail. Then it said her favorite thing to read was a student published newsletter called The Toilet Paper, which was posted every week in, you guessed it, the stalls in the bathrooms. I was laughing with the food list, but completely lost it when The Toilet Paper was mentioned. Once again, this lead to me excusing myself from the room.

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Incident Number Three happened at work, in one of our seemingly endless meetings. It wasn’t as jovial as the photo above, but that is the best one I could find in the Pexels free photo bank. One of my colleagues, who was a wise and funny woman, had coined a name for our small school based on a tv show. Instead of The Little House on the Prairie, she jokingly called our institution of higher learning The Little College on the Prairie. She saved this nickname for meetings that went on too long, or when strange policy decisions were announced. It struck most faculty as being pretty funny, and the nickname stuck.

The only problem with it was that the powers that be decided it had taken on a negative connotation, so she was asked not to use it anymore. Being a team player, she didn’t say it out loud, and neither did anyone else to avoid getting in trouble. But as many people react to censorship, she got more creative in her use of it. She shortened it to LCOP ( not all the initial letters, but close enough). We all knew what she meant. And even though she didn’t utter the words, she would occasionally sit next to me at meetings, and just for fun, write LCOP on my agenda. Several times. This was fun because it was the forbidden fruit of faculty humor, and it always made me laugh. She was also a master at analyzing other people’s motivations and abilities. If a colleague was taking exception to some minor thing, or asking endless questions, she would smile and say “That’s her gift”. Either one of these could send me into fits of laughter that I had a hard time containing. But it was all in good fun, and the LCOP moniker lives on for a few faculty who remember it.

My inopportune laughing has decreased quite a bit since I’ve retired, but I still find humor in many situations. This is a good thing since I have taken up writing a blog focused on the funny side of life. I hope your days are filled with some laughter as often as possible, because it really is the best medicine!

Learn To Play Golf- It’s Fun Sometimes!

Learn To Play Golf- It’s Fun Sometimes!

As we continue our march through spring in the Midwest, it’s time to dust off my golf equipment and get ready for my league to start. It’s a sport with many advantages- being outside on beautiful courses, spending time with friends, and some exercise if you walk. Once you learn to play golf, it can be a lot of fun. It also presents some challenges and comical moments.

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My path to taking up golf was delayed by my affinity for tennis, a sport I grew up playing. My first lessons were at age five and I entered my first tournament at six. It was fun, and since I played in tournaments it was the only sport I pursued for many years. But by my late thirties, injuries began to interfere with my game. Knee surgery and a rotator cuff tear were the final nails in my playing days. So I decided to take up golf since several of my friends already played. My impression of the sport was that it was fun to watch, but I didn’t think it would be that difficult to learn because I could hit a moving ball quite well. A stationary one should be much easier, right?

I took beginner lessons and found out how hard it actually is. There is a lot to remember- grip, stance, weight shift, head position, and aiming for where the ball allegedly would go. One of the most surprising things to me was missing the ball entirely. Whiffing, as it is so pleasantly called, is common for new golfers. My main problem with it was that I got the giggles whenever I did it. But after awhile, I started connecting more and whiffing less. Time to hit the course.

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My first attempts to play were on easy 9 hole courses, followed by joining a ladies league with three friends. The league officers were friendly when we signed up, and we explained that we were all beginners. Unfortunately, the other ladies in the group weren’t quite so welcoming. They were quick to point out our high scores on every hole, and quoted the rules of the game frequently. Stressful to say the least. We all dreaded playing, so after one year of that joy we decided to start our own league.

That turned out much better. We stayed at the same relatively easy course, and found a lot of other like minded golfers to join us. In the early years, we had flag days, guest days, and an end of the year dinner. We named the league Penny Putters, and every week, for each putt over 18, you had to put the equivalent amount of pennies in the league birdhouse. At the end of the season, the person with the lowest average putts got the money. We kept all kinds of statistics too, and turned in our score cards each week.

Now getting close to our 25th year, Penny Putters has evolved, but we are still golfing every Wednesday morning at the same course. Quite a few things have changed- first, we stopped doing the money in the birdhouse. Some players forgot to put money in, or turn in their scores. The course didn’t like storing our birdhouse, so someone had to keep track of it and bring it every week. Our statistician moved, and no one wanted to take it on. We still have a flag day, unless there is a pandemic, and that is enough structured activity for all of our members. And we typically start planning our after golf lunch around the third hole.

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A couple of funny stories- for many years, I walked and used a pull cart for my clubs during league play. One morning, running late, I got to the course without a water bottle, and figured I’d buy one from the drink cart. Except the drink cart never came, and it was really hot and humid. The course water coolers usually look grungy to me, so no go there. By the sixth hole, about as far away as you can get from the clubhouse, I started feeling poorly. The best I could do was lay down under a tree and pour some grungy course water on my head. The ranger pulled up just as I was feeling better, and thought he needed to follow me the rest of the way around the course. That really helped my game! That was also the end of my walking days, and it’s been 100% carts since then. And they’re fun to drive, so really not a problem to make the change.

The second funny story is about our bank account. I am the lifetime treasurer for the league, and happy to do so, but it has been interesting. I opened a free checking account and titled it Penny Putters, with my address. It makes for easy record keeping, but the bank has never figured out that Penny isn’t a person. I have received phone calls from the bank for years asking if they can speak to her. I used to try and explain it was a golf league, but the callers never seem to get it. So I just say she’s golfing and not available to take the call.

And then there’s the game itself. Beyond frustrating. You can hit a beautiful tee shot on one hole, and by the next one shank one it into the rough as if you never played the game. It is the only sport I can think of where your ability to do it varies so widely from one minute to the next. In tennis, once you have a forehand down, you can always hit it. Sometimes better than others, but from point to point you don’t completely lose your ability to hit the ball. So my ideas about a stationary ball being easier to hit? Out the window very early on. There’s a reason one of the best selling golf books is titled A Good Walk Spoiled.

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There are also major differences between the way most women play versus most men. For starters, we won’t spend endless time searching for lost balls. Unless it’s a pretty pink or yellow one, then maybe. I have never bet on the golf course, and find it amazing how many betting games guys can invent. Since I usually play in the morning, drinking isn’t an issue, but being able to make room for a cooler in the cart is a common thing for guys. And if you really want to see some differences, go to a guy golf mecca like Myrtle Beach, S.C. The courses have names like Tiger Paw and Charging Cheetah, complete with billboards featuring large, menacing animals. Not exactly catering to the female golf crowd.

In spite of the occasional frustrations, it is an enjoyable sport that you can play for years. Injuries are rare for amateur players. And it requires a lot of concentration, so it clears your mind and helps you think about something besides work or your “to do” list. You can be as serious or casual as you like about your game as long as you play at a reasonable speed and don’t hold anyone up behind you.

I will close with a funny golf joke I heard years ago when I first started playing. A group of four ladies had been playing golf every Friday morning for years. Their course was near a well travelled street, which you could see from several tee boxes. One morning, as they were about the tee off, a funeral procession slowly made its way past the course. When the hearse was visible, the first member of the group, who was on the tee, removed her visor, and bowed her head. Her friends were surprised, and asked her what prompted her to do so. Her reply? “Well, he really was a very good husband.”

Help For The Directionally Challenged

Help For The Directionally Challenged

After receiving the Covid vaccine, and waiting two weeks for full effectiveness, I am ready to start venturing out of the house more this spring and summer. Road trips have been on my “to do list” since retiring, so I am hopeful we will get a few planned. While I love to plan trips, and go on them, I rarely do the driving. There are two reasons: I like to take naps in the car, but primarily because I am directionally challenged. As in, no sense of direction. It’s not that I occasionally take a wrong turn, or need help finding a new place. It is more like this- I still get lost while driving in my hometown, where I have lived almost my entire life, except for the three years I lived in the state capitol, and I got lost there too. So it is really non-existent. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Maps helps the directionally challenged

This of course has lead to some entertaining stories. I will start with an ill fated trip to a friend’s lake house during my law school years. I was back home for the summer, and working part time. The photo is a good illustration of how we got around in those days. On this particular evening, I left my parents’ house on the far north side of Omaha, and headed south ending up on a two lane highway. It should have taken about 45-50 minutes. It was around 9:30 p.m. when I left, which is close to my current bedtime. But in those days, it was normal to start the evening that late.

In my trusty old Chevelle, with a broken speedometer, I cruised along listening to the radio, the only option for entertainment. I had to leave it on one station to be sure I could hear it throughout the trip. The Little River Band had a hit song that received a lot of airplay at the time called Lonesome Loser. It was about a guy who is unlucky in love, and by himself because of it. If you remember the song, you are probably humming the refrain right now- “Have you heard about the lonesome loser, beaten by the queen of hearts everytime?” A very catchy tune. I heard it about ten times.

I must have been singing along a lot too, because I was driving longer than I thought it would take to make the turn to the lake. This became apparent when I read the sign that said “Entering Otoe County” and arrived at its largest town, Nebraska City. I had missed the turn by about 20 miles. What is a lost person to do? I pulled into the closest convenience store, and went inside to ask for directions. Unfortunately, he started talking about north, south, east and west, instead of the universal language of the perpetually lost- something like turn right just past the billboard for the local bank. Landmarks for pete’s sake Mr. Convenience Store. I thanked him, and decided to get back on the road I came in on, follow the signs toward Omaha, and look for any turns toward the lake I might have missed.

I also decided I needed something to prove to my friends that I had indeed gotten really lost. This was also to explain why I would arrive so late. There was a phone booth nearby, so I went inside and decided to take an unimportant page from the front of the local phone book. As luck would have it, one of Nebraska City’s police officers saw me do this, and came over to chat. He was especially giddy when he saw my license plate, because in those days the first number was based on the size of the county where you lived. Omaha was numero uno, and the smaller towns didn’t really like the bigger ones. So I was from the big, bad, city. Probably out on parole or a fugitive from justice.

I decided to explain my predicament and just keep talking until he told me to stop. No tears, but I could have mustered some up if needed. After checking to see if I had any outstanding warrants, which I think disappointed him when I didn’t, he decided to let me go without a citation. But he did follow me out of town to make sure I was on my way out of Otoe County. After many more miles, and in spite of my best efforts, I never made it to the cabin. With the detour to Nebraska City and the police chat, I didn’t make it home until the wee hours of the morning. One of my more memorable misadventures in the car. And anytime I hear Lonesome Loser, it reminds of the journey.

I have had a lot of other driving mishaps over the years. When my daughter played soccer, we frequently went to out of town tournaments. One of them annually occurred in Sioux City, Iowa. That is an especially strange place to get to because there are three Sioux Cities right next to each other- one in Iowa, one in Nebraska, and one in South Dakota. Good grief. Couldn’t they come up with some other names?

My most recent misadventure occurred a few summers ago, when I decided to drive by myself to Indiana and meet my sister at a lake resort. Armed with directions on my phone, Mapquest printed directions as a back up, and a lot of caffeine, I set out on the one day drive. Getting through Chicago traffic was harrowing, but I was close at that point. The problem cropped up when I got within a mile of the resort. GPS took me to a cemetery. It was still daylight, but there wasn’t anybody around.

I called the resort. In a weird twist of fate, I managed to connect with the most confused front desk clerk in Indiana. She had no idea where I was, and neither did I. In fact, I am not sure she knew where she was either, because all she kept asking me was if I was close to the lake. Nope, just me and the dearly departed. Eventually I wandered onto a main road, and finally connected with my sister.

So much for GPS. It helps if you have the following conditions-one, there isn’t any construction at any point in your trip. And two, your phone has to be able to read the directions to you. You know- in two miles, you will take Exit 422, on the left. My Android phone tends to malfunction in this regard a lot. The GPS built into my most recent car purchase is ok, but you have to update a sm card to keep it current, and it doesn’t talk. Note to Mazda- make sure your GPS system speaks on future models- sincerely, every 60 something person who buys your cars.

You would think there would be a Catholic saint for this. We have one for lost things, ( St. Anthony), and lost causes, (St. Jude). And apparently one for lost heads- the above photo is entitled “Medieval Portrayal of Saints.” The one on the bottom row, second from the right, is St. Denis, the Patron Saint of Paris, whose severed head could allegedly preach while he carried it around. Many of the saints met with grizzly deaths, so I guess a decapitated one isn’t a huge surprise. But I hereby request a Patron Saint of the Perpetually Lost. Surely someone at the Vatican is reading my blog and will take this into consideration!

For those of you who share my affliction, I feel your pain. For those who live with us, here are a few tips to help your directionally challenged loved one:

1. Remember we only know one way to get to most destinations.

2. You need to give us directions using landmarks and interesting sites, and if they have changed keep using the old one, i.e. turn left where the Burger King used to be that’s now a donut shop.

3. Remember that changes to things like interstate exits and on ramps really don’t register with us.

Keep all of this in mind if we are behind the wheel, or better yet, just drive and let us nap. Doing so is one of the secrets to a long and happy marriage!

Our Senior Trip To New Orleans- What A Party!

Our Senior Trip To New Orleans- What A Party!

The high school I graduated from was an all female, Catholic school that organized two trips for students-one during our junior year, and one in our senior year. The trips were optional, but usually well attended. The junior trip was to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York, but the senior trip varied in location. In our senior year, we went to New Orleans. There were many factors that converged to make it one of the most fun, interesting and talked about trip of our lives. And we went about this time of year, so this seems like an appropriate week to share it. The details follow.

I will start with the east coast trip. For many of us, it was our first visit to those cities. We saw all of the famous sites, and it was fascinating to me since I loved American history. The day we visited Mount Vernon, we also took a boat down the Potomac back to Washington. I remember telling my parents I wanted to live there someday with a view of the water. Pretty funny since the only way to do that was to buy a multimillion dollar home. In New York, we ate at Mama Leone’s near the theatre district, and a small group of us went to a new Broadway show called Grease. This was before the movie, and I remember trying to explain to friends who didn’t see the show how good it was. Our chaperones were well organized, as was the entire week.

The New Orleans trip was quite different from the very tame journey the year before. One of the reasons was due to the difference in legal drinking age- New York had been 21, but Louisiana was 18. And in a bit of poor planning, no one thought to check our ages before we left. Many of us had already turned 18, so it was a very different dynamic. Add to that a memorable remark from one of our “chaperones” the day we checked into the hotel- as he went down the hall, he said ” Ok girls, beer and wine is 18, everything else is 21″. More about the “chaperones” in a minute. His announcement was the first clue we had that this was going to be a very memorable outing. In our home state of Nebraska, the drinking age was 19, but in our next door neighbor, Iowa, it was 18. So there had been some legal trips to Iowa, but New Orleans was in another realm in terms of bars and entertainment. Actually, more like another planet.

It didn’t take long for us to venture out on the town, and the French Quarter was very close to our hotel. I remember walking down Bourbon street, with its interesting architecture, and the doormen trying to get us into their establishments. The barely clad dancers on swings going in and out of second floor windows is a distinct memory. Musicians on every street corner, and the strains of jazz and zydeco coming from many of the clubs. We didn’t have enough sense to go to Preservation Hall and hear the best jazz in the world, but at least we heard some as we walked around.

A bit more about our “chaperones”. I use the term in quotes because they were pretty lax, to say the least. I thought that was spiffy at the time, but I look back on it now and know it wasn’t what any of our parents, or the school, had in mind. There were two “chaperones” that I remember, one a part time coach ( he of the beer and wine is 18 advice), and the other a full time teacher who had very recently gotten married. He may have been using the trip as his honeymoon, because I only remember seeing him on the first and last days of the trip.

So basically a bunch of 17 and 18 year old girls were turned loose in the French Quarter and any place else they could get to for an entire week. Kind of like Billy Joel’s classic song Only The Good Die Young. Most of us still had midnight curfews at home, so the ability to stay out as late as we wanted, and do whatever we wanted to do, was quite fun. There were a few daytime bus trips that were available to see the sites, but no one kept track of whether you went or not. So attendance was very affected by what had gone on the night before.

The things that happened the night before varied quite a bit. I shared a room with three of my closest friends, so we did everything together. One of the first places we discovered was Pat O’Briens, home of the famous hurricane drink, that came with a souvenir glass. What fun! They tasted just like fruit juice! And the “everything else is 21” advice didn’t exist. Nobody was being carded. If you could walk into the establishment and order a drink, it was yours. We went there more than once, and had so many souvenir glasses that I took the extras home in my suitcase. I remember my dad asking what was rattling around when he picked me up from the airport. Souvenirs, I replied. Lots and lots of souvenirs.

I remember sitting in the hotel lobby one night, and seeing several of my classmates get off the elevator in nice, formal dresses. They were soon met by a group of Navy members in uniform who were their dates to some type of military ball. Since New Orleans is a port, this shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it kind of was. I was amazed they had either packed or purchased dresses for the occasion. Anchors Aweigh! And it just so happened that we had a sailor theme for our school’s hotly contested annual Field Day that would be held when we got home. Of course our classmates had to attend that ball.

In addition to the entertaining evenings, we did make it to some of the famous restaurants. I remember Cafe Du Monde and Brennans, with the pastel exterior and bananas foster. And we found a relatively quiet bar right across the street from the hotel, where we met some locals who were our age. They were a lot of fun, and we were the first Midwesterners they had ever met. There was a jukebox, and the song we requested repeatedly was The Locomotion, by Grand Funk Railroad. Nobody knew how to actually do the dance, so we made up our own- kind of a conga line. It worked well, and when we’ve had class reunions with music it’s always requested.

The last full day we were in the city was a Sunday, and it may have been Easter- unlike Pat O’Brien’s, I don’t remember that part with any certainty! We were all expected to show up for mass at the St Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. That was the only time anyone took attendance, and apparently we all made it because no missing persons bulletins were issued. The church was fairly close to our hotel, and platform shoes were in style at the time, so it was an interesting walk on the old style streets to get there. I’m sure we looked like a group of devout, high school girls on vacation. And on that morning, I guess we were.

The trip home was uneventful, and shortly thereafter we won the Field Day competition, graduated, and went on with life. I am happy to say I am still friends with my roommates from the trip. Over the years, our class has had a lot of fun reunions, and invariably the senior trip is mentioned. In the days before Facebook and email, we used to ask classmates to send in their contact info and high school memories, and we put together a booklet. Lots of senior trip memories, but I think the one that summed it up best was the following: “New Orleans- some party!” And we all knew what exactly what she meant.

4 Fun Tips For Travelling With Kids

4 Fun Tips For Travelling With Kids

Spring has arrived, the virus is receding, and families are starting to organize summer trips with their kids and grandkids again. After some memorable travel adventures while my children were growing up, I offer some funny memories and tips to assist with your planning.

Aerial photo of the California coast

One of our first trips as a family was to California when our first born was 18 months old. We flew to Monterey, rented a car and planned to site see for a few days, then drive south on the beautiful Highway 101 to San Luis Obispo to visit relatives. Although we had driven on the Pacific Coast Highway before, it was our first visit to Monterey. The plane rides to California took all day with layovers, so we were all tired when we got there.

After a night of not too restful sleep due to adjusting to Pacific Time, we decided to see some sites. The 17 Mile Drive, from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, seemed like a good choice. Hugging the coastline, and with views of beautiful homes and a famous golf course, we thought the little one would probably fall asleep while we enjoyed the drive. We had made sure to time it after eating lunch and changing diapers. The little one had other ideas. After we paid the fee to get onto the drive, it was only about 30 minutes until the crying started. Non stop, full on, over tired, I am not on Pacific Time, not in my own bed, toddler howling.

We thought the motion of the car would eventually lull said child to sleep. We also thought the drive was only 17 miles, so how long could it take? Well, quite awhile with traffic. Trying to stop and console the little one outside the car didn’t work, so I moved to the backseat in the hope of helping, and we drove as fast as we could. It was like being on a European road race, but with traffic. I remember seeing a bit of the ocean, some pricey homes, one hole at the Pebble Beach golf course, and the trunk of the famous Cypress tree.

The little one did eventually tire herself out and fall asleep, after we exited the famous drive. Then we had to drive around to keep her asleep with the hope of a more restful night. From that day forth, I have referred to this picturesque locale as the 117 Mile Drive, because that is what it felt like. A return trip might be in order now that retirement has set in.

Fun Travel Tip Number One- if your kids wear diapers and take naps, avoid air travel and stick with driving trips close to home, in the same time zone. Or just stay home.

After baby number two arrived, we knew better than to fly anywhere with two toddlers. But that didn’t stop us from naively planning a driving trip to a lake with another family. The photo of the dismembered Barbie doll above, which I am amazed was available on the free photo site, gives you an idea of how this one went.

Our kids were two and four, but the friends children were a bit older. Since they might be more flexible than we could be, one of our favorite babysitters came along on the trip. She was thirteen, and very willing to help out. The drive to the lake we were visiting went pretty well, and when we got to our destination each family checked into their own condo. That was a great help since we had different schedules our kids were used to, and no one had to adapt too much.

The lake resort was nice, but with two toddlers I spent a lot of time in the condo with one or the other changing diapers or putting someone down for a nap. Our babysitter was a huge help, but we wanted her to have some time at the pool too, so it was a lot of juggling. I remember it as more of a working vacation than restful but not too surprising.

The only real drama occurred on the drive home. The toddlers and babysitter were in the middle row of our van, and each of the kids had a bag of books, toys and snacks. This worked well until the two year old fell asleep with a Barbie doll in her hand. She woke up about 45 minutes later, and apparently wasn’t done with her nap, because for no obvious reason she started hitting the babysitter on the head with the doll. And I mean hitting. By the time we pulled over, and extracted the sitter, the doll was pretty mangled. After some time to regroup, I decided to move to the middle seat and let the poor sitter get a break in the front. Miraculously, the sitter did take care of our kids again, and when she grew up even had three of her own.

Fun Travel Tip Number Two- when travelling with small children who take naps in the car, remove anything that could become a weapon when they fall asleep. Or just stay home.

Photo of the Santa Barbara airport

The next trip happened when the kids were 3 and 5, and involved another vacation to California. Learning from the 117 Mile Drive, no sight seeing was planned, and we flew into the Santa Barbara airport. Our final destination wasn’t too far away. It is a small airport, and has a lot palm trees and open areas since the climate is so temperate. The children, their grandmother and I arrived after a full day of connecting flights. The next stop was the car rental counter.

I took the five year old, and sent the three year old in a stroller with her grandmother while we got the car. The line was full of business travellers, and I clearly wasn’t- I had on elastic waste pants, a sweater, and looked like I had been travelling with toddlers all day. As the line grew, I asked one of the business people to save my place, and I put the five year old on a bench nearby, where I could see her, with stern instructions not to move or talk to anyone. Once I was back in my place, she said, as loudly as possible “Sure, I’ll sit here, and I’ll do whatever you say, you big, fat butt”. There were some stifled laughs. I mumbled something about how verbal she was for only being five, but I felt like my derriere was inflating by the minute. And I made a note not to wear sweat pants again on a flight. Ever.

Fun Travel Tip Number Three-keep your precocious, verbal children in front of you when you are in lines at an airport to avoid any unsolicited comments about your backside. Or just stay home.

The last adventure was when my daughters were 11 and 13. We were at a beach in North Carolina that had a lot of family activities- in addition to the ocean, miniature golf, go carts, and a great ice cream shop on the main street to and from the beach. We visited every year starting when the girls were much younger, but the activities remained the same. It was a popular place, but almost all of the businesses were small, family owned and had great service.

We were long past any missed naps or other mishaps by this point, but something happened that really caught me off guard. One night at the ice cream store, the nice young man serving my daughters mentioned that theirs were free. I thought it was some kind special deal for the family. Then it dawned on me- mine wasn’t free- only theirs, and he was flirting with them! What was he thinking? They were still young children my mind. I swooped in like a mother bird, paid for all of our treats, and hustled them out the door. Our vacations had hit a whole new zone.

Fun Travel Tip Number Four- when your daughters are over age 10, assume that all of the boys you see on vacation will think they are old enough to date. Dispel all boys of this notion by hovering over your girls at all times. It’s not practical to stay home at these ages, so make the best of it.

I hope this post has given you a few laughs, and some ideas for future trips with your family members, especially the kids. Happy vacation planning!


Early Birds, Night Owls, And Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

Early Birds, Night Owls, And Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

It is after midnight, and I am writing the first draft of this week’s blog post. The imminent change to our clocks on Sunday morning has me thinking about time, our natural sleep and wake cycles, and how changes to our routines affect everything we do.

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The world seems to be divided into two main groups, Early Birds and Night Owls. This is based on the 20,000 nerve cells in our brains that set our “master clock”, also called our chronotype. As a natural Night Owl, I see great advantages in this approach to being awake. It is very quiet late at night, and I do my best thinking under those conditions. Even if I feel sleepy early in the evening, at around 10 pm, I get my second wind. That usually leads to staying up until the wee hours of the morning doing things I like to do- read a good book, watch a favorite movie, or write blog posts. This happened when I was still working, and usually made me fairly tired when the alarm went off in the morning. But as a retired person, it has worked out quite well. I never make appointments in the morning, so I can stay up as late as I want, and sleep in as late I choose to as well. I am convinced this is my natural circadian rhythm because I feel most relaxed and rested when following this schedule. For my fellow Night Owls who read the blog- I see you, and you are my people. Hopefully the world appreciates our round the clock vigilance in case an emergency arises at night. We are at the ready, and will inform the rest of the world.

The only time I get up early enough to see the sunrise ( or as we Night Owls say, what is that giant yellow brightness in the sky?) is if I have an early flight that has been booked to save money. Some airlines even have planes that depart at 6 am from our fair city. With a flight that early, which requires arriving at the airport by 4, I usually just stay up all night. Much easier. On my way to the airport I have frequently seen Early Birds who are leaving for work, and even some who are happily jogging around the neighborhood. Those are Super Early Birds to me- people who not only like early morning hours, but also accomplish important things.

So we all have our natural sleep and wake cycles, and adapt them as we work and raise families. Small children present unique challenges with schedules because getting the little cherubs to bed at a reasonable time, and hoping they don’t get up too early, is a never ending thing. I remember after baths, stories, and getting everyone down for the night, sitting on the couch and enjoying the silence, usually with a bowl of ice cream. These plans were upended two times a year with the arrival of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Just when you had it down, you were gaining or losing an hour and wreaking havoc with your carefully crafted home life. The Spring Forward rule was the worst, but Fall Back had its disadvantages too. And since this is a DST weekend, it made me wonder yet again why do we do this?

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A little research reveals it started in the US in 1918, ostensibly to make better use of daylight and save energy during wartime. Moving clocks ahead one hour in the spring was supposed to save energy and give people an extra hour of sunlight in the evening to be outside, attend events and not use artificial light. Urban areas liked it because people were spending more money, but rural areas opposed it because their work had to be done no matter what time the clock said it was. And since 1918, DST has remained a controversial idea. Various laws have been passed to make it uniform and applicable in every state, but there has always been at least one state, Arizona, that chooses not to do it. But it would be difficult to find a state that has struggled more with this than Indiana. Over the past 100 years, they have passed several laws about DST, only to repeal them a year or two later. At one time, twelve counties in the state were on Central Time and followed DST, but the remaining eighty counties were on Eastern Time year round, without DST. Finally, in 2006, all counties were expected to follow DST. Good grief.

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From my perspective, gaining an hour of sleep in the fall is ok. The daylight part of the whole process is wasted on me, but I wholeheartedly support an extra hour of sleep. Fall is a nice season in the Midwest, with changing leaves and crisp, cool temperatures. Time for football games, hayrack rides and haunted houses. I don’t remember the fall time change being as hard to manage with small kids as the spring one, but I do recall some homecoming weekends during the high school years that coincided with the extra hour. Since the time changed at 2 am to 3 am, that seemed like a good time to come home from the after party to me. As the person who waited up for the teenagers to come home, the arrival time was relevant, even for a Night Owl parent.

So on we go with another round of saving daylight. Some of my devices will automatically update, and some will require manual assistance. Most notably my car, and that one will take several attempts because I only do it twice a year. I will start the car, back out of the garage, and sit in the driveway. Then I start with settings, and keep pushing buttons until something about the clock pops up. The next step is to fumble around until I remember how to change the time. But it will all be worth it, because I have an extra hour of daylight to figure it out. And I’m retired, so there’s no rush!