I used to think these annual holiday letters were a bit narcissistic and pretentious. However, as I get older, I find I genuinely look forward to reading them to catch up with friends. So I am embarking on what will hopefully be an annual tradition of narcissism and pretension. Forgive me?
Our household has had a busy year. Who said that you slow down in retirement? In January, we started the year with a combination business/pleasure trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i. I attended a conference on echocardiography while the spousal unit golfed and hung out. We had the pleasure of being on the Kohala Coast which is advertised to get less than 10 inches of rain per year. In 2014, most of that rain occurred during our visit. Between the storms, we took a helicopter tour of the cliffs of the northern part of the island where we got to see the result of all that rain – beautiful waterfalls. To stay out of the rain, we turned into foodies, going to every restaurant in the area and sampling every specialty we could find. Oh, and let’s not forget the Super Swell that closed the beaches during the first part of the trip. But the sound of the surf was amazing from our hotel balcony. I won’t give too many details about our whale watching trip, except to say that the spousal unit can say “Keep taking pictures!” while looking at the bottom of a plastic bag.
Since retiring in late 2013, the spousal unit has pursued her passion for golf with a vengeance. She played in several tournaments this year, winning some of them and gaining friends along the way. High on her bucket list was winning the Industry Hills Club Championship in July. Her name is now permanently inscribed on the club trophy in the Industry Hills Club pro shop. She also won the EWGA-OC open invitational in July and the Public Links Women’s Championship in September. She continues to take lessons and still plays in golf events with ex-coworkers. Meanwhile, I complain bitterly about being a golf widow, which goes in one ear and out the other. Oh, did I mention all the ugly trophies sitting around the house? But really, I’m proud of her accomplishments.
I continue to work part-time at St. Jude Medical Center in the Non-Invasive Cardiology department. I call myself semi-retired. I do a little bit of everything, from administrative to echocardiography. I passed the Registered Vascular Technologist exam in September, adding yet another set of initials behind my name. I thought working part-time in a hospital would be less stressful than working full-time in the IT industry, but I was wrong. Somehow, making sure that a website works properly is so much less important than making sure that a patient doesn’t die under my watch. But I continue to enjoy learning something new every day I walk through the door.
Did I mention that we went to Vegas in August? Yes, August. Crazy hot, right? Believe it or not, it rained. Do you sense a theme? We saw Cirque Zumanity and Blue Man Group. Zumanity was both fascinating and bizarre. I had wanted to see Blue Man Group for years, and they were awesome. Another bucket item ticked off.
The feline family members continue to enjoy the pampered, spoiled life in the OC. Our most recent home improvement project was to tear out the back yard and start from scratch. This included a small screened-in porch which provides an optimal laboratory for feline ornithology. We enjoy it for reading, napping, and spying on our neighbors-some of our favorite retirement activities. However, I am still not allowed to read the OC Register opinion page. No one wants to hear me ranting and raving for the rest of the day. We do read a lot of books (I am a librarian’s daughter after all), and we started a book club with a bunch of friends who are also avid readers. We meet once a month to discuss a book. Oh, and we gossip, drink, and eat a lot. Retirement definitely does not suck.
In addition to golfing, the spousal unit started a program called “The Perfect Workout”. I have my doubts since she comes home feeling like a wrung-out dish rag. But she feels like it is helping to keep her in shape. I continue to swim at the local public pool, feeling lucky to be able to swim outside year around, rain or shine. We both need all the exercise we can get because we still spend too much time watching TV. I will probably die with a remote control to our DVR in my hand.
We occasionally get our Segways out of the garage and go for a glide. They are a great way to see a lot of territory without spending a lot of energy. We took them to Long Beach one day and went up and down the beach path, ending with lunch at the Belmont Brewery. But I found out that a Segway can also be a weapon of mass destruction when I fell off of mine over Labor Day weekend and ended up with a severely sprained knee. Keep repeating softly our 2014 mantra “It’s all good. It’s all good.”
In September, we went back to Ohio and Kentucky to visit with family and attend my niece’s wedding. We stayed with my younger brother, who found out what it is like to have two menopausal women invade his space armed with luggage and Trader Joe’s grocery bags. I’m pretty sure he was counting the minutes until our departure. During our visit we hosted a party in a suite at Paul Brown Stadium for the Bengals-Titans game. A great time was had by all. Except the Titans fans on the spouse’s side of the family – the Bengals spanked the Titans. But the food was good, right? In November, I returned to Ohio solo and stayed with my older brother. It snowed while I was there, and I was a picture-perfect OC princess trying to figure who to call to get the snow off my rental car. I also got to visit with several of my University of Cincinnati dormitory buddies for an evening of debauchery. Enough said. The trip wound up with a tour of childhood memories as my brother, sister-in-law, and I spread my Dad’s ashes around the Dayton-Beavercreek area. Sounds morbid, but we laughed a lot remembering little details of our early lives.
We hope that your 2014 has been healthy, happy, and productive. We are looking forward to 2015 and the adventures that it will bring. If we haven’t seen or talked to you in a while, please give us a call! And just to be clear, I (Julie) wrote this letter. But Melissa has approved this message.
Have a great holiday season!