About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Perfect Evening

Copyright © 2018
By Ralph F. Couey

It was our last night in Denver, the inevitable closing of one set of doors.  Earlier in the day we had flown in from Maryland after tending to some grandparent duties with the East Coast branch of the family.  We were in the home of our youngest daughter, Jamie, having spent most of the afternoon and evening culling through the eight suitcases that constituted most of what we still owned in the world that was still mobile.  We had Chinese take-out, my favorite cuisine and were sitting around, just talking.  Cheryl was getting some tech help from Jamie when Jamie asked me to take her dog, Neil, out for a walk.  Having spent much of the previous three weeks NOT walking, I eagerly assented.  Clicking the leash onto the collar of a happy Neil, we headed out. 

It had been a beautiful day, and the air as we stepped off the porch was delightfully cool and crisp, a welcome change after swampy Maryland.  It was a reminder that fall was approaching, and I was feeling a little disappointed that I would not be around to see, hear, and feel what has always been my favorite season.  The sun had gone already, but the sky still held the vestiges of its dying rays.  Summer skies are different, in that during winter, when the sun goes away, the night moves in rapidly, the blackness taking quick possession.  But during the summer, sunset begins a longer transition.  The bright blue gives way slowly to a darker shade eventually becoming a soft purple.  As the color deepens, the stars and planets begin to appear, one by one, as if they were reluctant to share the stage with each other, the pinpoints of light begin to shine. 

This long, purple twilight has a purpose for summer days are hard to release.  There is so much life in that season, not just in nature, but in each other.  Children play in the gathering dusk until their mothers judge that the day is over, and they must return inside.  Accompanying the delicate end of the day, in the trees, grass, and bushes, crickets begin to chirp.  Like the stars, it begins individually, one here, one there.  Then the entire choir joins the chorus. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Culture, Weather, and Getting Acclimated

Oh yeah...

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

So, this sojourn we are on has us hopping time zones as we zig back and forth.  We left Denver on the 14th and flew to Maryland.  That's two time zones.  Then we flew back to Denver for about 18 hours. That's two back the other direction. Tomorrow at around oh-dark-thirty, we'll crawl on yet another airliner and hop four more time zones to Honolulu.  When I was younger, this kind of thing would completely scramble my internal clock, leaving me with sleepy days and sleepless nights.  But this time, I am aided by that peculiar time zone that always accompanies us senior citizens.  It really doesn't matter where we are, or when we are, we're always down for a nap.  Or two.That particular freedom that comes from retirement gives me nap leverage at any time of the day.  I'm old, so I sleep.  So, this particular body is on its own clock which seems to operate in its own dimension of time and space.  Were I still working, this would be its own kind of annoyance.  

Where I am struggling is not with the clock, but with the climate.  When we left Denver, it was warm and very, very dry.  When we exited the terminal at Baltimore-Washington International we walked into a totally tropical air mass; warm and very humid, the kind where you break a sweat just getting the keys out of your pocket.  The two weeks on the east coast were repetitious cycles of heat and humidity, except for two really nice days.  This morning I humped suitcases out of our son's house and once they were packed into his mini-van, I was ready for another shower.  But upon arrival back in Denver, we walked out into a day in the low seventy's with low humidity, about as perfect a day as one could ask for.  

Tomorrow we leave for Honolulu where it will once again be warm and humid.  My wife reminds me, "But the trade winds are always blowing," which in my experience is kinda the same thing as describing a Phoenix summer as "dry heat."  The thing is, if you stay their long enough, the skin pores open up and those conditions feel really nice.  Not as nice as a crisp October day in the lower 48 mind you, but still nice.  Acclimatization is a process for every place, though.  Coming to Denver for the first time some 20 months ago, we had to adapt to the altitude.  That took about six months of being chronically short of breath and dealing with some edema as well.  But once that was done, we really didn't notice the effect in our daily routines.  Where it showed  up for me was in hiking.  The first trail I did here involved a 700-foot ascent from a parking lot to a flat-topped mesa.  What had been a simple thing in Virginia darned near killed me here. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Age and the Downward Spiral of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

That age is best which is the first
When youth and blood are warmer
But being spent, the worse, and worst,
Times still exceed the former.
--Robert Herrick

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

They are curious, these feelings that drift through me these days, and it has been a challenge to sort them out.  In this transition time between Colorado and Hawai'i, we find ourselves at a church camp situated on the banks of the West River in eastern Maryland.  The scene is gentle and tranquil, and genuinely pretty.  It is a place where expensive homes stand in splendor along the river's twisting course leading out to the broad reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, the homes overlooking a sizable fleet of equally expensive sailboats.  Despite the trappings of the one per centers, it is a place of peace and contemplation.

The first night here during the de rigueur "get to know ya" exercise, I was asked, "where do you live?"  Always an easy one to answer, but this time I came up empty.

Denver is officially in our rear view mirror.  Honolulu still lies just over a two-week horizon, so in a very real sense, we are sans domicile.  Homeless, in other words.  We are on the road, but it is a strange feeling to not have a place to call home.

There is a positive aspect to this situation for us.  We are out of debt, save a car loan (the object of which is on it's way to the Port of Honolulu), thus our financial situation is as secure as its ever been.  Once there, our income will be freed up to accomplish two goals, fill our our rather skinny retirement accounts, and re-establish our emergency fund, three to six months of income.   Having sold or donated almost everything we own, we are no longer laden by thousands of pounds of household possessions.  What we have left, in a closet in Aurora and a small 4x4 storage unit, is substantially less than a thousand pounds which will be re-located at that as-yet undetermined point in time when we finally decide where to settle down.  Our options are freed up now and we can go wherever, whenever, and for however much time we choose.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Voyaging Without a Home Port

"Together we're in this relation ship,
We built it with care to last the whole trip,
Our true destination's not marked on any chart,
We're navigating for the shores of the heart."
--John Duhan

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

This situation, technically speaking, might be described as "on the brink."  It's Saturday, and we leave Tuesday, not for vacation, but quite possibly forever.  We go to Maryland for two weeks of delightful grandparent duty.  We do come back to Colorado after that, but only for about 16 hours, a "cup o' coffee" in the old baseball parlance.  After that pause, we board another jet bound for Hawai'i and the next chapter of our lives.  

Of course we've been there.  Cheryl is a bona fide Kama'aina, and we lived there for five years of Navy duty.  Plus, we've been back for visits more times than we could accurately enumerate.  But this time feels different, very much like being between two doors, one closing, and the other opening.

We haven't really been in Colorado all that long, having actually lived here for 12 out of the 20 months since I retired.  Still, it's been a good stay.  We've been with family, two daughters and their families, two grandkids, two granddogs, and one grandkitty.  We found a church home that is very hard to say goodbye to.  And as the time winds down, I am sorta vexed by the thoughts of all the things I wanted to do here, but somehow never got done.  There was always tomorrow, until I ran out of tomorrows.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Moving, Furniture, and Letting Go

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

It's always a shock when that wily beast known as "times have changed" jumps right up in your grill.  The effect is instant disorientation, and finally, that sense of loss.  

In preparation for our move to Hawai'i, we decided not to keep our household goods in storage.  It seemed easy enough to say, "we'll just sell it all."  As is often the case, easy to say is very hard to do.  What we had was that same mix of large and small that every homeowner acquires over decades.  I finally parted with a lot of those things I had hauled around in boxes for the last two or three decades.  Some got sold, some donated, some just thrown away, albeit reluctantly and painfully.  But those decisions have been much easier to make this time around as our backs are figuratively against the wall.  I wasn't worried about the furniture.  It is excellent quality, the marker of our decision to pay more to get more.  As the days have passed however, it would appear that the time of "big furniture" has passed us by.