GratiTuesday: Spring’s Gifts

At exactly 9:15 (Pacific Time) this morning, winter became spring. Today – the vernal equinox – the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator, making night and day approximately of equal lengths all over the world.

We switched our clocks to Daylight Saving Time a little over a week ago (I know that some people hate DST, but it makes me happy) and now, as the periods of daylight grow longer each day, I am grateful for the extra rays of sunshine that we will enjoy.

The orioles, who often nest in our neighborhood’s palm trees, are a delight to watch.

The hooded orioles have started to arrive after being away for the winter enjoying the serene climate of Southern Baja and mainland Mexico. I am grateful for their beauty and for the backyard entertainment they provide with their comical antics and happy chatter.

Bees have been busy pollinating the trees and making orange blossom honey.

After producing a tree full of tasty fruit during the winter months, our orange tree now is bursting with fragrant white blossoms. I am grateful not only for the blossoms’ heady fragrance that perfumes our yard but also for the promise of a new crop of oranges next fall and winter.

Although there might not be obvious indicators of the four seasons where I live, there are subtle changes that are noticeable for those who look for them. I am grateful for all the gifts of spring I see, and for those that nature still has in store.

The jacarandas will burst forth with their purple blossoms a little later in the spring.

Paper Purge

Up until recently, my husband and my efforts to reduce clutter have been mainly focused on things like clothes, books, and miscellaneous household items. I am fairly satisfied with our progress and am pleased that the “public” areas of our house are, if not clutter-free, at least not embarrassing if someone stops by unexpectedly.

Now, we’ve turned our attention to the gobs of paper engulfing our offices. These include financial documents, articles and recipes saved to do something with “someday,” and an astounding number of lists – written on notepaper, on the back of envelopes, on post-its, and at the bottom of other lists. The paper that clutters the top of my desk is bad enough but lurking inside my file cabinets, and in boxes in my closet, are even more papers, and they need to be sorted, shredded, or recycled.

At least I know that I come by my paper problem honestly. My mother had a hand-made sign on her desk that read:

“Those who keep a neat desk will never experience the incomparable joy of finding something they thought they had irretrievably lost.”

I’m not sure if she was the author of the quote (she was a writer/editor) or if it was borrowed but it perfectly described her desk… as it does mine.

So, for the past several days, my husband and I have been slowly working through our piles and files. Boxes with documents for shredding are filling up, as is our big blue recycle can. Although we still have a way to go, we are motivated by three notions:

  • Security: We enjoy traveling and plan to continue for as long as we can. So far, we’ve been lucky to have trusted friends take care of our house while we are gone but that might not always be possible. Our goal is to have limited personal/private documents so that if we participate in a home exchange or arrange for a housesit, securing these papers will be easy.
  • Flexibility: Although we are happy with our current home and neighborhood, recently we’ve talked about alternative living situations. Would we be happier in a condo (no yard to maintain, minimal upkeep, more security when we travel, etc.)? How about an active retirement community or, at least a smaller town with walkable neighborhoods? This decision may be many years away, but why not start purging now so it won’t be as difficult later?
  • Reality: Am I really ever going to read the articles I’ve saved? Nope. Especially with the Internet as my go-to source. Some of the information is worth keeping, but most can be tossed. And those random notes and lists? I am trying to corral them all into one notebook, and as I cross out items, or no longer need the information, the pages can be ripped out and recycled.

Although the process has been slow, the experience has been very satisfying. My desk is neater, my files drawers aren’t nearly as full, and – even better – a couple of times I’ve experienced the incomparable joy of finding items I thought were irretrievably lost.

GratiTuesday: The Young and the Restless

I imagine that just about every older generation looks at the younger ones nipping at their heels and wonders if they have the skills and fortitude to run the world one day. Are they too selfish? Unfocused? Lazy? Have they been sheltered too much or have their lives been made too easy? Are they overly obsessed with their status on social media? Will they be able to take the reins when the time comes for them to pick up where we left off?

I wish I could say that my generation has done a better job during our tenure. Sadly, the environment is in deep trouble, violence and conflict are seemingly everywhere and never-ending, and the chasm between the haves and have-nots is widening. We will be leaving them with a bit of a mess.

Yes, you are.

Two observations these last few weeks have given me a reason for hope: seeing the optimism of the young athletes who took part in the Olympics and following the focused passion of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I am grateful to see young people who are energized, who reject societal inequalities, and who see the urgent need to protect our environment. They are concerned and they are restless, and they understand that sitting down and shutting up is not an option.

If they are indicative of the generation coming up, I think we are in good hands.

Retirement Hours

Once again, I have the honor of having my guest post featured on my friend Donna’s blog, Retirement Reflections. Many of you are probably familiar with her uplifting and well-written blog, but those of you who aren’t please take some time to read a few of her past posts… I’m sure that you’ll be hooked like I am.

Please click on over to Retirement Reflections and read about the very stringent Hours of Operation I keep in retirement. If you could leave a comment on Donna’s site, we would both greatly appreciate it.

I hope to see you there!

GratiTuesday: Mom and Dad

By most standards, the beginning of my parents’ marriage did not bode well for its longevity. After meeting at a dance and dating for all of three months, they hopped on a bus to Las Vegas and got married. Because my father was in the army, they lived apart at first, only getting together for the short periods of time his leaves allowed. Then he shipped off to Europe with his outfit and was away for over a year.

My mother on her wedding day.
Two crazy kids in love.

Although they are both gone now, Valentine’s Day still means more to me than a Hallmark holiday; it is an annual reminder of the strength of their union, brought together in a time of war and fortified over the years as a relationship built on love, commitment, and shared values.

My brothers and I were lucky to be able to celebrate our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with them. My mother passed away in 2000, a few years shy of their 60th.  Tomorrow, on their Valentine’s Day anniversary, I will say a heartfelt “thank you.” Thank you for giving us a happy, secure childhood. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of an education and continued learning. Thank you for instilling in us a passion for travel. Thank you for showing us what love looks like.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for taking a chance and hopping on that bus. We are grateful.

Thursday Doors: Mare Island

Located just over the bridge from the city of Vallejo, California, Mare Island was established in 1854 as the first naval shipyard on the West Coast. During World War II the base had a population of 46,000 and played a critical role in the military’s efforts.

It was at Mare Island on Dec. 7, 1941, that an urgent transmission came reporting the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor. And it was there that the guts of the atomic bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima were loaded aboard the cruiser Indianapolis.

The shipyard was closed in 1996 after producing 512 ships, including 17 nuclear submarines. After years of neglect, Mare Island is currently reinventing itself as a desirable place to visit, recreate, and live.

Lucky for me and others who lust-for-rust and pray-for-decay, much of the old shipyard and many of the buildings used by the military still stand. Although the brick warehouses are being renovated into breweries, brewpubs, distilleries, and office space, the beautiful old shells – and doors – remain… at least for now.


Decay makes me happy.
Rust, broken windows, and doors… oh joy!
Rusty stairs.
What a great door for a brewpub!
I think I can see a door… but this shot really is for Dan.
Shelters built to protect shipyard workers from potential Japanese air raids.
The shelters literally line some streets.
Undated picture of children filing into the shelters.

Thursday Doors is a link-up of fellow door aficionados generously hosted by Norm Frampton. Head over to his blog to view all the amazing doors he and others have posted.