Sunday, May 20, 2012


Today, my "baby" got married.  She is 26, as is her husband, and they've been seeing one another exclusively for five years.  They have a lot of common interests.

Both are artists.  My daughter's main medium is drawing - pen and ink over watercolor washes, but she does beautiful work in other areas as well.  She paints, does scratchboard pieces, draws with markers and color pencil, and has done some amazing pieces with cut paper.  My new son-in-law is schooled in animation, and that is the medium he loves.  But he also draws, does air brush work and pen and ink drawing.  For five years, I have watched them spend many hours sitting together on our couch drawing.  They go to the zoo to draw, as well as the aquarium.  They are currently working together on a short animated film about a character named Rackitty who they designed together quite a while ago.

They are both very straight-arrow young people as well.  Neither of them drinks at all.  Neither of them smokes pot or does any other kind of recreational drug.  They are both smart and introspective.  Neither of them flies off the handle over things.  I think they are well suited to one another.  And I don't think they made this decision to wed without giving it a lot of thought and discussion.

They had a very small and simple wedding.  They got married in a courthouse by a judge, with only their immediate families in attendence.  Both of them have only one sibling, so the group in attendence was very small, and the wedding felt intimate.  They spoke traditional vows promising to cherish one another and remain faithful.  The judge talked about the importance of communication, the committment to one another, the compromises that lie ahead, the importance of being honest with one another and of being able to forgive one another for their human frailties.  He also spoke with them alone in his chambers both before and after the wedding.  I think he did a wonderful job in performing their marriage ceremony.

I have grown to love Bill right along with Tasia.  He's a wonderful young man, who is level headed and has integrity.  I think Tasia has chosen a good partner.  And she is devoted to him.  I think he has made a good choice for a life partner as well.  They believe in one another's talents and strengths, and I believe they meant every word they spoke to one another today.

I wish them much luck.  Marriage has times when it is difficult - when the easier thing to do is to walk away.  Her dad and I have been together for 40 years.  And Bill's parents were together until his father died.  So they have both had examples of what it is to stay the course.  I hope they can do the same.

Life is hard at times, for all of us.  And it's nice to know that someone has your back, someone is with you on things.  If there is a God, I hope that he blesses this union with much joy and satisfaction:  With children if they decide they want them, and with an enduring love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

retirement concerns

I'm 61 and my husband is 63, so we have begun the process of deciding what to do about retirement.
Should be buy an annuity that provides $1,000 per month for the rest of either of our lives?  Should we take charge of our own destiny as far as our investments go?  Should we take a little more risk on the chance of getting a little more return?  Should we take our Social Security or should we wait til it's higher?

We started saving toward retirement later than we should have.  When you are young and you think you have lots of time in front of you, the kids need things; that's an easy trap to spring.  I'm pretty optimistic.  I think that we'll be okay regardless of what choices we make on the questions I posed.  My husband is more pragmatic, and maybe that comes from being the primary bread winner in our family (the only breadwinner when the kids were young).

I look at the people I know who are retired and they all seem to be doing okay.  Some are in better financial shape than others.  Some have more discretionary income than others.  But all of them seem to be fairly satisfied with what they've got.  I don't see any sign of them wishing things were other than they are.  All of them seem to be enjoying their lives whether they are free to travel or content themselves with the occasional movie and pizza.

I've pointed out that even after we retire, we still have options of change - we could sell the house in the Seattle area where we've lived the past 15-20 years and probably buy a house back in the midwest for half of what we'd make on the sale.  So that would give us some more cash assets.  If we bought a duplex instead of a house, we'd have potential income from the rent from the other unit. 

Not knowing what lies ahead is food for fear.  And the only thing that combats fear is hope.  So I hope.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

being proud of your daughters' accomplishments

This afternoon, my younger girl came in and put a display of her art work in the glass case of the library where I work.  She did a beautiful job with burgundy fabric behind the pieces and it really made them pop.  Most of the pieces are framed, but a few of her newer ones are just matted at this point and not framed.  She has three scratchboard pieces, a very realistic watercolor painting of a zebra finch, several stick bugs and moths she made by hand that look very realistic. and three new jellyfish which I just love.  The bugs are all so intricate that at first when people see them, they think they are just real bugs that have been preserved - not so.  They are constucted with matteboard, color pencils, watercolor paints, tiny bits of feathers and glue.  At times she had to put them together with tweezers because they wee too intricate to do with her hands.

When my boss comes in tomorrow, it will knock her socks off.  I want to find out when the next free month is and make arrangements for my older daughter to put her art work in the case for a month as well.  It might be more of a challange with Emily because a lot of her art pieces are larger than Tasia's, so we might not be able to put as many in.  Emily will be moving to Orcas Island soon, but I can always fill the case as long as she gives me the pieces to go in it.

Tasia was smart enough to leave some of her business cards on the bottom of the case, so if anyone is interested in any of the pieces, they will know how to contact her.  I didn't do that when I put my month's worth of art in that case (I don't own any business cards).  But people recognized my name and would come in and ask me about the process I had used, so that was fun.

My daughters and I spent a lot of time cutting paper, coloring, painting, etc. from the time they were wee ones.  So I would like to think I played a part in encouraging their interest in and love of art.  I didn't get serious about wanting to make my own art until after my kids were pretty well grown.  Until then, my creativity had gone into Rainbow Brite costumes and bats and snails costumes. 

I work only part time right now, so I have the luxury of time to devote to making lovely things.  I love trying new things - alcohol inks, encaustic wax.

thoughts for today

Yesterday, I handed in my letter of resignation on my second part-time job.  Whew!  This morning it felt so good to be able to go outside and plant bulbs in my garden instead of getting ready for another eight hour shift of mindlessness.  I wasn't at that job very long . . . just long enough to see that I wasn't going to learn anything I wanted to learn and that there are things I regard as unethical that I won't take part in.

My younger daughter is getting married this month.  My friend, Melinda, is coming out to visit me next month and in July, I will be taking a trip to my home town of Marquette, Michigan.  We will put my mom's ashes to rest in her cemetary plot there and I will spend some time sitting on the beach of Lake Superior contemplating things.

Hopefully I will see some friends I've known since we were kids and get to know a cousin I've never known but who graduated from high school with me.  Divorces have a way of preventing things like closeness or even friendship between cousins sometimes.

In September, my husband and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  It has been a long and amazing ride we've taken together.  Certainly there were times when neither of us were particularly smitten with the other, but we always respected one another.  Our friendship seemed to help sustain the relationship during the times when we weren't feeling "in love" with one another.  And then one of us would fall in love again, and so would the other.  And we'd have that magic back again.

These are the things I want to tell my daughter and her man as they embark on their trip together.  Be kind to one another.  Respect one another.  Be gentle to one another.  There are plenty of people in the world who will make your life harder, so be a respite for each other from that.  Have each other's back.  Remember the things you promise one another on your wedding day, and try to abide by them.  Forgive one another when you make mistakes.  Things will surprise you about one another no matter how well you feel you know each other.  Make each other laugh - that's important.  It feels really good to look back on my life and have my husband share so much of it with me.  I hope you will have that too.