(Enjoying the View) Empty Nest Probs and Chain Saw Observations

No one lives in the country without a chain saw… except city kids who have been putting off spending money on one. We have had a chain saw before… several times. Like when we lived on the Gulf Coast, and we had a hurricane, and lots of trees were down, and the very muscular men who chopped up our downed-tree just chop, chop, chopped it like butter. The men made it look so easy, I said, ” We gotta get us a chain saw… because who lives on the Gulf Coast (where there are frequent storms) without a chain saw?” We never got to use it because we moved.

I think we sold it.

In our next city, far from the coast, there was a huge ice storm. I mean HUGE. Trees were snapping all around us. People were without power for days. It got so cold you could see your breath INSIDE our house. A very large tree limb smashed our deck. A very large tree fell in our yard. Large limbs were resting precariously against our house. The sound of chain-sawing could be heard all around the neighborhood, so I said, ” We gotta get us a chain saw… because who lives through an ice storm clean-up without a chain saw?” We bought a chain saw. When we cut the limb which was resting precariously against our house, the very large oak appendage  ended up smashing like a torpedo INTO our house. Physics. You know that subject which deals with matter, energy, motion, and force? We should have paid more attention in college.

After that, the chain saw rusted and rotted in the basement.

Fast forward… we live in the country. We heat our house with a super-cool, fancy, wood-burning central heating system. My husband actually enjoys loading it several times a day. We have the NICEST wood man in the county. He promptly delivers whenever we call. However, our wood pile frequently looks forlorn and bare at times because city kids don’t like to think about wood. It’s not in our DNA. Where we come from, wood-burning fireplaces are for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, sometimes, when company comes over and we want to look all hearth-y.

But… in the country… wood means our house is warm.

The daffodils are blooming here at HC Farm. This has been an excessively cold winter, and I am holding out for spring. The other day, I said, “We gotta get us a chain saw… because for the price of several truck-loads of wood, we could cut-up about ten downed-trees right on the edge of our 19 Acre Wood. We will pay for the chain saw in no time!”

Chain-sawing is backbreaking work. Hauling chopped wood up a steep mountain hill is hard labor. But, we did it, and no one chopped off their leg. When we piled up the fruits of our sawing… we figured we are worth about ten dollars  an hour ( in Wood Pile Land). Depressing. We are gonna have to make a lot more trips down to those trees before we can pay for this new chain saw.

Hard work is… hard.

And so is raking leaves (When we rake leaves, both my husband and myself morph into 10 year-old grade schoolers. We whine and complain and get grumpy like you would not believe.) and preparing a garden (Easy to dream about all winter and draw up plans and look through seed catalogs…hard to accomplish) and digging up the front sidewalk (I did this today, and I lasted 2.5 hours, and it is still not done).

I’m really missing those three sons (who grew up and flew out of the nest) about now. It is so awesome when your boy turns 12. He is all-about physical labor, and ten dollars will get the job done. We had some really good years with really good help. But, the day comes when you look at each other and say,

“Well, it’s just you and me again.”

Slightly older now..


Empty nest problems.



7.5 Incredible Insider Secrets of Why Cruising Will Rock Your World

I completed my first cruise. I am now (because the internet allows me to self-proclaim whatever I desire.) an expert, an insider, a person who possesses all cruising secrets I now have the authority to tell you cruising will rock your world.

Me, having my world rocked:

I had some pre-cruise fears, of which I had previously written: sea sickness, weight gain, onboard charges, bathing suit, white skin, sun damage, a tsunami, unknowns, bathing suit, and bathing suit.

World Rocker #1:  I am happy to report zero sea sickness. Even though I have cruised exactly one time and (because: internet) I am now an expert, my entire 7 days at sea was smooth sailing. Still… no sea sickness. I wore the sea band the first day, but as I looked around and saw no other cruiser wearing  sea bands, I took them off.

World Rocker #2:  My ship had a walking track. Yay! I think being able to exercise helped me to not feel “stuck on a boat”. Walking several miles daily also whispered in my ear,”You earned that chocolate molten lava cake!” Double yay!

Port Days also helped me to not feel stuck:

World Rocker #3:  It took me a day to figure out the best way to get coffee and whole milk (not creamer in those small plastic things) and how to hoard cereal and milk cartons, in case I needed a midnight snack.( We had a refrigerator in our cabin!) I also watched how other cruisers were doing stuff and, being a college graduate and part-time genius, I figured  out how to keep my expense account to a bare minimum. I’m not a drinker, so this was pretty simple. I did, however, get a bit lax with my Ben and Jerry charges the last two days.

World Rocker #4: The answer to the bathing suit fear: my very stylish cover-up.

White skin: I am very late to the party on using bronzing lotion. It looked super real and was just enough to help my skin out a bit.

I am 99.9% faithful in using sunscreen to protect my skin. A tsunami did  not happen. There was one unknown which I will explain in a minute, and bathing suit, bathing suit… oh well. Added Bonus: I took ZERO selfies and, quite frankly, NO ONE was noticing me.

Except this selfie, I took this one:

World Rocker #5: We made friends with our cabin steward. An experienced cruiser friend had given us a dry erase marker for mirror note writing. We encouraged our cabin steward friend daily (and she encouraged us!) We also tipped her (in addition to the standard pre-paid tip) at the beginning of the week, as well as at the end. All this friendliness worked to my advantage when my diamond earrings, stored stupidly in tissue paper, were thrown away. We called our cabin steward, and she dug through the ship’s trash to retrieve my earrings! Wow.

World Rocker #6:  Private Balcony. It is the only way to cruise. My balcony was peaceful and…well…private. It was the place where I sunned, read, and napped. A true vacation. Being on the top deck was LOUD and way too people-y.

Can’t you just feel the peace:

World Rocker #7: The food in the main dining room was super good. The portions were small, but we could order as many courses as we wanted. The food at the casual buffet was ehhhh, but we only ate there twice. The food in the pay-extra restaurant was definitely worth the splurge. The pay-extra desserts were definitely a notch up from the main dining (5 star for sure). And I give out my stars according to the desserts.

World Rocker #7.5:  Would I go again? Of all the vacation choices in all the world, I would probably choose an active vacation (skiing, bicycle touring, hiking) over cruising.

Look at this amazingly peaceful view:

HOWEVER, was cruising a true vacation? Yes. For this reason alone… cruising will rock your (fast-paced) world. 

I think you should go.

One last beautiful view. (Good-Bye, Jamaica!)

P.S. Yes, I know it is called a “ship” not a “boat”. (Emoji with tongue stuck out.)

P.P.S. We took zero excursions (At least $100 a pop, and, in my “expert” opinion, not worth the price.) We shopped on our port days, ate at the local restaurants, and returned early to the quiet ship. If you like spa treatments, this would have been a good time to snag a good deal.