Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Evening Meanderings - My Week

So many of you have sent me cards and notes and emails to wish me well in my retirement - Thank You.  And a lot of you have asked how my first week in this new phase of my life has been going.  Well, I have to say, in all honesty, so far it only feels like I'm on vacation.  Just one of those lovely "stay-at-home" vacations. 

I've read a lot (imagine that!), and I've done some blogging and I've played a lot on my laptop.  I have one very big complaint.  I'm able to read my favorite blogs, but leaving comments on some is problematic (heck of a problem to have, huh?).  You know, we're on dial-up here on the edge of the wilderness.  So those of you who think I've been missing your blogging this week - not so.  I just can't always leave my comments.  And then too, some of you might have wished I had left some of my comments to myself this week.  I'm speaking of the heartbreaking piece Sarah Strohmeyer wrote for The Lipstick Chronicles about Melissa Mia Hall. If you missed it, I encourage you to read it, even though it will break your heart.   It may make you furious, and it may make you want to do something, like write to your representatives (like I did).

Sticking to my rule about attempting to balance out the negative with the positive - - there are benefits to our internet service being slow, so I'm not going to complain too loudly about it.  Actually, it's one of those things I could use to my benefit.  I could use it as an exercise to learn a bit of patience.  (we'll see how that goes . . . ).

I've also been able to keep up with the laundry this week.  AND the dishes, and I've actually even cooked a few meals.  All this in an effort not to feel that "I am already dreadfully inclined to indolence, lassitude, self-indulgence and procrastination."  (that's stolen borrowed directly from Amanda Cross IN THE LAST ANALYSIS.  I've recently discovered Ms. Cross' Kate Fansler mysteries and am besotted with them).  Aside from that, all in all, I think living the life of a reclusive housewife suits me to a "T."  I know that it wouldn't have a few years ago (I tried it, and it didn't), but the role seems to fit quite nicely now.

Another really good thing is being home with Harley Doodle Barley.  Margaret M. thought it would be fun for me to see what he's up to while we're gone.  Well, so far - he appears to just kinda sleep a lot.  Tasha Tudor said she believed Corgis have a lot of "cat" in them, and I do believe she was right.  Not that he has turned down any offers for a little walk outside though.  

Another good thing this week brought was an end to my haggling with our insurance company.  You'll remember, perhaps, the blog I wrote back in July about the insurance company denying claims for the helicopter ride Donald had to make from Boone to Asheville in May when he had a heart attack.

Well, this latest battle has been with the same insurance company denying the claims for the hospital stay during this same incident (or as we now refer to it here at home "that incident from back in May").

Suffice to say - with perseverance (like a pit bull), the good guys (that would be US), win again.  Y'all - I know many of you have had very good response from your insurance.  But some of you,  in all likelihood, may go through this torture of fighting them for what's fair and right at some point in your lives.  Please, please, please don't give up the battles.  Seek help anywhere and everywhere you can.  Keep a log of every phone call you make to the hospital, the doctors' offices, and the insurance company.  Note every person's name you speak with, the date AND the time and what the discussion included.   Arrange for a conference call with all parties involved and take notes on what everyone says.  Get your insurance commissioner involved.  Get your government representatives involved.  Get the media involved if necessary.  Do NOT let them intimidate you into giving up.  If you need to hire an attorney - do it.  A good attorney will handle this on a contingency basis so that you shouldn't end up winning the battle, but coming out of it broke.  

So, as you can see - it's been a week of ups and downs.  But more ups.  Way more ups.

My office sent me off with a lovely "do."  Nice things were said and lovely gifts were given. 


I only teared up a little.  No big emotional scenes, but I admit I came close.  The first time when my first Chair (Dr. Jesse Taylor, the man who hired me) in the Dept. of Philosophy and Religion said some awfully sweet things - 

Remember me telling you about how very much I loved and would miss a particular piece of art which hung in my office?  

A collage by Janet Bloch.

I adore this collage.  I would even make up little stories in my mind about it.

My department decided to give the collage to me as my retirement gift.  But.  That didn't work out.  It's part of a permanent collection at Appalachian State University's Turchin Center for the Visual Arts (which is faboo!).  But the Turchin Center got in touch with Ms. Bloch and made arrangements for me to have a signed print.

How sweet is that?!

Was I touched?! Pfttttt - I guess!  I was a puddle!

I don't have the print yet - but soon.

What I do have is a framed certificate saying "The bearer of this certificate is entitled to a framed, artist-signed print from the original "Dear Prudence" by Janet Bloch.

I love this.  And I've chosen THE perfect spot for it to hang.  Life is good.

And then came one more teary moment (but not till I had left the building), and it came when I said good-bye to my present boss - well, present up until we said out good-byes.  Dr. Conrad Eugene Ostwalt. aka "Ozzie."  No one could ever make up a boss as good as this one.  I will miss him.

 Then, the next evening my neighborhood gave me a little party.  One again - another of life's little gifts; our neighborhood.   It's the type of neighborhood people dream about living in, but don't really believe they exist.  Well, I''m here to tell you - they do.  How we were lucky enough to find this one is beyond me, but we do dearly love it.  (as a side note - they're all just the teeniest bit nuts - I mean that, of course, only in the nicest way).

Next up -
dinner with some of my favorite women on God's green earth - The Nutz - ta DA!

And rambling on, as I'm wont to do - there were some additional lovely things associated with my retirement.

Lovely words written by very good, and very cherished friends.  Bo Parker, Earl Staggs, and Ken Lewis.  Thank you - you guys are the best  . . . 

"I want to take this opportunity to offer a testimonial and a toast.

As one who has spent only a few minutes compared to the many hours
Kaye Barley has spent promoting the mystery genre as the host of
Meanderings and Muses, words within my vocabulary are not adequate to express the appreciation I have for her efforts.

Nor are they adequate to express the pleasure I have received from
the fact she opened her virtual door to others, providing an
opportunity for enjoyment and enlightenment that I know I would not have otherwise experienced.

So I ask all other DLers to join me in a toast to Kaye, Donald, and
Harley (yes, they are part of M&M).

Retirement opens a door to an almost endless list of opportunities.

It is my wish that you experience all of them, and find joy, peace,
and contentment in each and every one."
January 27, 2011

It started right here on DorothyL. Kaye posted a picture of her mom and dad. I went to have a look and saw something familiar behind them. They were standing in front of Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street in Baltimore where I spent many Sunday afternoons cheering for Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. I had to write her a private email to ask if she was from my hometown.

That started a long line of correspondence between us. Turned out she was not from Baltimore, but her family visited there often. Kaye grew up in Cambridge, a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I passed through there hundreds of times on my way to Ocean City. We chatted about how you can’t get better crabcakes anywhere in the world, about the magnificent beach and Boardwalk in Ocean City, the fudge they make there (finger-smackin’ good), Thrasher’s French Fries (world famous), and Maryland-grown tomatoes (slurpable right off the vine).

Before we were halfway through sharing our memories of Maryland, I was completely and unabashedly charmed. I’d never met anyone so delightful in my life. The way she talked about her adored husband, Donald, and Harley Doodle Barley, the Wonder Corgi. From her “Boy, howdy” to her signature “Pfffft,“ I looked forward to her emails with a warm smile.

She even sent me a box of fudge.

Then, she dropped the bomb. “I’m not a writer,” she said. “I’m only a reader.”

ONLY a reader? Pffft! Readers are more important than writers. Readers like her are why we do what we do.

NOT a writer? Boy, howdy! What is a writer but someone who strings words together in such a way you’re drawn into her world and want to stay there and whose infectious personality and love of life shine through in every sentence?

“You’re the most naturally gifted writer I know,” I argued. She countered with she’d have to learn how before she could be a writer. “Don’t even think about learning how to be a writer,” I persisted. “Just be natural and be yourself.”

I may have gotten through to her because she started a little blog called “Meanderings and Muses.” She began by writing about her life and the people in it and “squealed” about books she liked. Then she started inviting other people to guest blog on the site. Now, the guest list looks like a Who’s Who of the best writers around. I know those writers, like me, look forward to the entries by the Belle of Boone herself.

So that’s how it started, and my love affair with Kaye is still going strong, even though we’ve never met in person. One of these days, I hope to drive up to her house in Boone, North Carolina, and give her the biggest hug she’s ever had in her life. I’ll shake Donald’s hand, give Harley a good scratching behind the ears, and go inside full of hope she baked a cake that day.

Then I’ll pester her once again about writing her memoirs, something she absolutely must do now that she’s retired.

Tonsahugs to you, Kaye Darlin', as you begin a new chapter in your life.

January 29, 2011

Dear Kayester:

A little retirement poem for you:

For years she labored
And slaved at school
Then started a blog
That's oh so cool
She's retired now
And home every week
But all of us know
She's not ready to peak
She'll Meander here
And Muse over there
Keep on trimming
Her cute pixie hair
She'll laugh, and cry
Spit coffee from her nose
While bringing her readers
The best in prose
She's "Kaye from Boone"
Remember her name!
Retired, or not
She'll still be the same

January 29, 2011 

Did I boo-hoo when I read these sweet words from friends I treasure?!

what do you think?!

a total and complete puddle.

but in a very good way.


mybillcrider said...

You know what? You may always feel like you're just on vacation. I've been retired nearly 9 years now (!), and I feel like I could walk into one of the old classrooms tomorrow as if only the weekend had passed. The scary thing is that the 9 years have gone by nearly as fast as the weekends used to. Best wishes for a long and happy "vacation."

Vicki Lane said...

What a lovely send off! I know you're going to find yourself busier than ever now -- in a good way, of course.

Phyllis said...

What a lovely and productive first week you have had! It is clear your
friends, both virtual and local, love and appreciate you. You have a way of connecting with people, like me for instance, who have never met you but feel like we know you through your blog and your comments on Dorothy-L and Lipstick Chronicles. One reason for this connection is your honesty and openness about what you love/enjoy and what you dislike or find upsetting or unjust. I can't imagine you ever being bored or being boring. I look forward to participating in your retirement/vacation journey.

Jill said...

Now I know you are going to need a faster internet connection. I find it interesting that the weather has gotten warmer here since your retirement. I would also like to agree with the statement that most of the folks in your neighborhood are nuts. Except for me of course. Ha ha ha.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Bill - Thank you! A lot of truth to that saying about time flying when you're having fun, huh?! I don't want them to fly by too fast - wonder what I can do about that?

Hi, Vicki - sounds like you're having a good trip to Alabama - aside from the weather. One of these days I'm gonna show up on your doorstep begging for a cup of coffee and piece of Ba's cake.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

oh Phyllis, Thank You.

uh oh - a few more tears here (but good ones, of course!)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jill - noooooo - you're not nuts. Not at all.

Hey - let's go see Vicki, want to?!

And Seagrove! Want to?!

Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Thanks for sharing your party photos, Kaye. Everyone had fun, and I can imagine that tears were at least welling.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Glad to hear you are enjoying your retirement and there are more ups than downs. Know Harley must enjoy your being home.

Dial up can be such a pain. We just bought a Verizon MiFi and it works great and so much faster than dial up. You can be anywhere and it works. We're enjoying it because we can use it at home in the mountains and in Florida as well, including traveling.

Happy Valentine's day Kaye.