#70 “Farming”

Winter and spring 2018 and before (2016 and 2017) and in the future.

This is an ongoing retirement experience. While Mary Ann and my daughter Kristin have enthusiastically embraced gardening on a rather grand scale and do much of the work by themselves, they could always use a ‘farm hand’ to help out. There is a lot to do for gardening and poultry raising. I have helped build raised beds, weeded, harvested, watered, tilled the soil, generated leaf mulch, shoveled manure and much more secondary tasks.

For Kristin’s ‘farm’, I have tilled the soil, helped with the installing of the 8 foot deer fence posts for her massive garden, helped build the chicken coop and the fenced-in chicken run. Sometimes at night with headlamps on.

The garden work is seasonal – almost every season. It begins in the winter with indoor planting (before the plants can be popped in the soil in spring and summer) and ends in late fall with the last harvest.

(This was added as a suggestion from Kristin. She said that while I have 937 retirement experiences to do, might as well count this as one.  It was her way to encourage me to help in the placing the garden poles and the building of her chicken coop.)

Pictures below: (1) The fence posts we cemented into the ground. The garden is about a quarter acre. (2) Building the chicken coop at night.

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Photograph of the Month: February 2018

Grace and the Leaf Icicle

On 2/5/18 we had freezing rain overnight and as a result schools were closed. We watched the kids for most of the day. While investigating the ice on the plants and trees, Grace was able to completely remove the ice covering a bay laurel leaf, keeping the entire icicle intact – an exact replica of the leaf. This is the first time I had ever witnessed this. The icicle was very intriguing (and Grace is so cute).

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#69 Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and Art Gallery

On February 16, 2018 Mary Ann, Michele, Johnny, and I toured DC. One place we went was the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and Art Gallery. (While this was the second time going to this gallery since retiring, this is the first time I am writing this as a retirement experience.) Although this was the second time at the gallery, we still did not see everything.

I like this gallery, especially the painted and photographed portraits. I especially liked the sports portraits, the hall of presidents – portraits of each president, and the portraits of hard working Americans.

In this visit, this was the first time that the new portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama were on display for the public. There were long lines in front of each painted portrait. No picture of either of them is included here as I was unwilling to wait for a half hour to get my picture in front of the portrait.

A good museum to visit with a lot of interesting portraits.

#68 Skiing

On February 17, Mary Ann and I joined Laura, Jim, Johnny, and Michele for a full day of skiing at Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, PA. This was the first time in about a decade that I skied and only the third time ever. This was quite a retirement experience.

It seemed to be a pretty good day to ski. It was just cold enough. The snow on the slopes were what I expected – machine-made, granular and a bit icy. I guess the snow was appropriate for me. Why waste good snow on my ‘talent’. If I was going to have trouble skiing, I might as well have something to deflect the blame for me falling.

Mary Ann and I stayed on the ‘Green hills’ (for beginners) all day. The way I judge my performance and how much fun it is by how infrequently I fall. In the morning I fell only a few times. I felt pretty good. I still remembered the lessons the last time I skied. However, I still did not feel comfortable handling any of the more difficult hills. Mary Ann, bless her heart, stuck with me the whole day. Funny thing about each run, the most nerve racking part for me was just getting off the ski lift. I was scared each time that I would fall. It is embarrassing to fall before you even start out.

By mid-afternoon we thought we would take lessons to see if we could get better, as they were included in our ticket price. The instructor taught us a new way to turn to slow down and/or stop. It was supposed to be much easier. While it seemed to be a better way to ski, I had trouble doing what I was told. I lacked confidence to do exactly what I was told and I was getting fatigued. I worried that I would not being able to turn while increasing my downhill speed. The faster I skied the harder I found it to turn. The harder I found it to turn, the easier I found it to fall. By the end, I was great at getting up from falling (the instructor taught me that and I had ample opportunity to practice!)

I would chalk this up to a fairly good retirement experience. Next year I hope to ski again and hopefully grasp the concepts better, I will count that better experience as another retirement experience.

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