#77 Ride a mechanical shark

In the end of May 2018, we were staying with friends at the beach in Kitty Hawk, NC. On a rainy day, the guys somehow managed to end up at a store to pick up a few shirts. In the back of the store there was a mechanical shark, similar to the common mechanical bull. Well, we just had to try it. Teddy went first and did real well, achieving the best time of the day. It was not easy and he really had to work it. I have never seen such concentration on his face.

Then it was my turn. I knew I wouldn’t last long. The operator knew it, too. (Well, he did have control of Jaws and could fling me off at any time with just a push of a button.) I had my 3 rides and got tossed rather quickly 3 times. I did manage to make the top 5 times with 26 seconds, but I may have been the fifth person that day.

Later, I was a bit sore, but not as much as Teddy. He had a large bruise on his arm. But then again, he got tossed around longer than I did.

Well, this was an interesting retirement experience. I had fun. But at age 61, this is probably not a good idea to attempt this. Leave the bull riding and shark riding to the younger kids. So, if you are building a list of experiences you want to do in retirement, you may want to skip this one.

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#76 Drink Wine I ‘Helped’ Make

On May 8, 2018 I tasted the 2017 vintage of Viognier wine from Catoctin Breeze Vineyards. This was one of 3 types of grapes I harvested in September 2017 (See #57 Harvest Grapes from Vineyard ). While I will claim to have helped make this wine, I will not be responsible for the taste. Honestly, I only cut the grape bunches and placed them in the buckets. From there, the wine maker and this team is responsible for the final product.

When I tasted the Viognier, I was slightly disappointed. Usually when I drink white wines, such as Viognier, I prefer the taste to be ‘dry’ (as opposed to ‘sweet’). While the wine was very flavorful, it tasted a bit too sweet for my liking.

An interesting wine note: I learned that white wines (Viognier and Chardonnay, for example) take less time from harvest to market than red wines. In this case, the whites will be ready to be served in less than 1 year. Red wines, however, take longer. I was told to not expect the ‘2017 Syrah’ until 2019.

I hope the Chardonnay and Syrah are good. If not, maybe they will fire me (from volunteering). Haha

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#75 Street Photography

During the month of April 2018, I took another evening class at Montgomery College. This one was dedicated to the art of street photography. It was an interesting concept which I find fascinating but I don’t know if I fully grasp. Street photography, as defined by the instructor, is spontaneously photographing ordinary people in their ordinary lives in an urban environment. Based on the examples it is a pretty vague of a concept. The challenge is to find interesting people and situations to photograph. Then photographing them in a way that they don’t get upset.

For my assignments I took two field trips to urban centers to take photographs. First, I went to the town center in Rockville, MD. Second, I took the Metro to downtown Washington DC. DC was more interesting. I saw a ‘march’, the circus of people outside the White House, the tourists and natives walking, running, or biking along the Mall between the US Capital and the Washington Monument, and a demonstration at the White House.

The ‘march’ was interesting as it was a ‘National March’, with speakers, signs, catchy slogans to yell out, a police escort, and a defined route from Farragut Square, past the White House, to the US Capital. The only problem with this ‘National March’ was the group consisted of about 30 or so demonstrators plus maybe 5 people photographing them. I guess you didn’t see this one on TV! In addition, across from the White House in Lafayette Square there was a well-organized demonstration, with a name that said there were 10,000 men in it. Again, the name did not live up to the attendance. It looked like they were short by about 9,900. Again, you probably didn’t see this one on TV, either. You got to love DC!

Below is one of the photographs I liked from DC. (See a future post for my favorite – Photograph of the Month: April 2018).

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#74 Being an Involved Grandpa

This retirement experience has been ongoing since I first retired. Originally my involvement with the grandkids was rather limited, however in the past year I have become more and more involved with various aspects of their life.  See the links at end for some of the experiences.

While spending time with the grandkids comes naturally for Mary Ann, it is more of a challenge for me. They have been a priority for her. She enjoys them and they enjoy her. It is great for a child to have a grandparent that you want to spend time with. I kid her that she is constantly earning “Grammy Points” for all the time she spends with them and love she gives them. Those Grammy Points seem to grow with interest.

My approach is different. I like to spend time with them but sometimes I am a bit overwhelmed and can’t handle it for too long. Other times I am not the best suited to a task by myself. Sometimes I think of myself as the relief pitcher in the bull pen that is called on late in the game when the best pitchers have been used or not available and the outcome is not on the line. Or I am the third (or forth) string quarterback. Sometimes I do things when the primary, talented adults are not available. Other times I do them because it is something I can handle well.

During the school year we have a certain routine. Mary Ann and I pick up George and Grace from school almost every day. (Occasionally it is just me doing the honors. That is when I really need to step up my game.) We really only spend about one hour with them on school nights unless they stay for dinner. But there is time before to prepare and time afterwards to unwind. We are consistent with them. Our routine is simple – give them an afterschool snack and get their homework done. After that there are different things we do. Sometimes I ‘wrastle’ with them to expend their built up energy. Sometimes I read with them. And sometimes we all just play games or they play by themselves. But I always try to have fun with them and I try to guide them a little along the way. In the process I have been slowly building up “Papa Points”.

You know when you have built up some Grammy Points and Papa Points when one or two or all three of them call you up and ask to come over and visit us.

As they get older, my involvement will evolve to their needs. As long as they live nearby and we are given the opportunity to be with them, we will continue to build on that relationship.

There will be more retirement experiences with the grandchildren in the future.

I have written about a few of my experiences with the grandkids. Check out these links…
#11 Minor league baseball game
#35 Jumping on a Trampoline with my grandkids
#54 Vacation with Grandkids
#56 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts with Grandkids
#62 Field Trip with Grandchildren

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#73 Raising Chickens

We have raised chickens since before I retired. Now that I am retired I have more time to help care for them. As long as we are living in an area where they are allowed, we will probably continue to raise them. We raise them only for their eggs. We don’t breed them.  We don’t eat them.  We only have hens, no roosters.

For my ladies (we currently have 8 egg-laying hens) I normally fill the water, fill the food, feed them weeds and food scraps, gather the eggs, clean the eggs, make hard boiled eggs, and talk to them (Often I have to tell them to stop pooping in their food. Do they listen to me? No. Chickens are not too smart).

The chickens are a year round activity. Of course they need food and water every day, and they lay eggs all year long. They don’t lay as many during the wintertime. With our 8 chickens we get about 5 to 6 eggs a day.

We have found that there are many misconceptions about chickens. Here are a few facts about chickens that have surprised a few people:

  1. You don’t need a rooster for the hens to lay eggs. You only need a rooster if you want chicks. Hens lay eggs regardless.
  2. A hen can lay only one egg in a day and will have some days when it does not lay an egg at all. The reasons for this laying schedule relate to the hen reproductive system. A hen’s body begins forming an egg shortly after the previous egg is laid, and it takes 26 hours for an egg to form fully. They lay less eggs in the winter than the summer due to less sunlight in the winter. Hens start laying eggs when they are about 4 to 5 months old. They lay the most when they are young and their production decreases with age.
  3. The color of eggs somewhat depends on the color of the hen’s earlobes. White ear lobed hens produces white eggs, red ear lobed hens produce blue, green, or brown eggs. (We normally have brown egg-laying hens, although we did have some blue egg-laying hens in the past).
  4. Brown eggs are not necessarily healthier than white eggs. (They just cost more at the store). The level of healthiness depends on how the chickens are raised.
  5. Yes, chickens do come home to roost. When it gets dark, they will go back to their coop and jump/fly up to their roost. The roost is a pole that we put up horizontally in the coop. The chickens perch on the coop’s roost to sleep. It seems that they do this to get safely off the ground and in a protective building, because, after all, they are chicken.

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#72 Riding in a Pontoon Boat

This is part 1 (hopefully followed by part 2) of the pontoon retirement experience.

While visiting my sister, Karen, and her husband, Bud, at their Bethany Beach house, I had the opportunity to ride in their pontoon boat. Being that this was ‘Spring’ (March 24th), they needed to get the boat out of storage and return it to their house. I offered to ride along to keep Captain Bud company, since I wanted to ride in the boat anyway and I knew it would be too cold for Karen to enjoy the ride. And cold it was. It was freezing – at least it felt that way. The temperature was in the low 40’s and we were motoring north into the 15 mph head winds. By motoring, we were going up to 25 knots. Add that up and it was plain cold. (I guess the wind chill must be around 10 degrees.) But it was a fun ride. At the end of the ride, we were looking forward to that promised hot adult beverage waiting for us. However, we arrived before Mary Ann and Karen could drive back. And when they did return, we found out that they kind of forgot about the hot adult beverage and instead went shopping. Oh, well.

(Part 2, hopefully, is when we can go out on the pontoon boat on a hot summer afternoon, enjoying the cool breeze and a cold one.)

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