Sunday, June 5, 2011

A new home

Leaving Alaska caused a lot of things to happen. One thing is to have Oscar shaved before we arrived in a hot climate. He will be much happier then with 6 inches of thick fur. His brother has a different fur and doesn't have the thick undercoat.

Both cats flew in the airplane with me. That was an adventure in itself. From Anchorage to Charlotte through Chicago was a 12 hour day for 2 felines to stay confined. Fortunately there is a wonderful chemical spray that my vet said would 'put my cats in a happy place.' He was so right. Except for going through airport security it wasn't a bad experience. Oscar slipped his harness at the checkpoint and I ended up with scratches. Please tell me that having TSA ex ray a pet carrier will help keep America safe.
A dear friend and her daughter came with me; you can only have one animal per person. 2 cats, 2 people.

The first week back was a whirlwind. Between getting the cats used to a new environment, showing friends around and unpacking a few things there were a lot of long days. The first weekend back in the 'Lower 48' we had tickets for the Charlotte Speedway. This was a real first experience and I must say it's impressive. 150,000 people, cars, noise and races. The noise and air generated by a pack of cars all going through a turn at the same time has to be experienced to be understood. Even with earplugs the noise is unbelievable.

The entry into the racetrack. People. people, people.

The racetrack sponsored a salute to disabled veterans. Everyone on the track was disabled in some devastating way.

The track is so impressive.

Energizer battery company wanted to set a record for the number of battery operated lights lit at once. They handed out thousands of LED headlamps and at 830 pm everyone turned them on. The record was set and I have a great headlamp.

The following weekend we took off to Carowinds Amusement Park. It's been over 30 years since I've been to the park. There are more rides, lots more people and a whole lot more expensive.

The park has added lots of new roller coasters, ones that go upside down and sideways. No thanks. I rode Thunder Road which is a double track wooden roller coaster and about had my head snapped off. I really don't enjoy roller coasters anymore. The neck doesn't like being snapped.

But the park is full of fountains and streams and beautiful little places to sit and watch the birds. But there is way too many people to enjoy the park.

Ken's reaction to the whole thing. Take a nap in the shade. He didn't enjoy it at all. Long hot day in and out of the sun made him sick. Problem with having mobility problems; can't enjoy amusement parks.

Next trip Myrtle Beach.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Starting life over

Well, I did it. Retired. Sold the house. Moved. Threw out the old book, started another one. All those cliques apply. I'm sitting on my back patio, in NC, writing on a netbook, drinking a rum and coke and watching the birds. Where do I start? March, I guess. First week of March 2011 I put my little ranch house in Anchorage on the market. Wait, didn't somebody say the housing market was terrible? I'll never get my asking price. Blah, blah, blah. The realtor says it'll take between 60-75 days to sell, at best. That works. I retire in April, move in May, regardless. So 75 days is good. I'll have a place to live as I'm getting ready to move. Just have to keep the house spotless, not let the cats leave furballs in the carpet, and deal with house showings every day. I can do that. The house goes on the market on a Monday, I'm traveling that whole week so I don't have to deal with visitors, piece of cake. I get an offer via email on Thursday for the full price! 4 days! 4 frigging days! Now what do I do? Suddenly everything goes into over drive.

Now it's dealing with house inspectors, appraisals, signing a pile of paperwork and trying not to panic that it's all happening too fast. Plus work and the travel that goes with it. The job had been demanding that I travel just about every week since Feb. and it's not slowing down any. Cell phones and computers are the only way I'm staying on top of it, 24 hours a day.
The good thing is that the new owner isn't in any hurry to close and isn't going to force me to either move into an apartment for a couple months or pay rent until I leave. That's a plus on my side. I take a fast trip to Charlotte the last week of March and come back to Anchorage to really knuckle down and get ready to move. Oh, while I was in Charlotte a new car fell into the driveway. HAH! Fell in. In other words I (we, Ken and I) bought the new vehicle that will hold me, Ken, a folding wheelchair, tow a trailer with a scooter. Wasn't planning to, but there it was. What can I say.

Back to moving, which includes garage sales, craigslists, donations, sorting out books I can't give up versus books that a collector might want and packing, packing, packing. Little by little things start to disappear. My biggest concerns are the library and my artwork. I have lots of both.
April comes and the house inspector has a list of repairs I have to do so the buyer can get a loan. Some of the repairs I anticipated, others were just plain stupid. The one that really caused the most problem was the rebuild of the stairs in the garage. The new building code demanded handrails on the stairs from the door to the garage floor. Add the handrails and guess what, you can't park a car inside anymore. Can't open the doors to the car. How dumb is that? Guess I'm glad it's not my house anymore. Just throw money at it and don't think about it.

The end of April is rapidly approaching. I'm going crazy between work travel, work, packing and trying to stay on top of logistics. Have to buy plane tickets, get 2 pet carriers that will fit under an airline seat, get the cats health certificates. And then there is the retirement thing. Somewhere in all of this I'm going out to dinner, lunch, brunch, drinks, saying goodbye to people I've known for a long time.
April 28 rolls around and I'm done working. I cleaned out my office, gave a bunch of stuff away, handed in my building key and left. A party is planned for the 29th at Lonestar. Turned into a good party.

Couple of interesting and unexpected retirement gifts. One, the Deputy Commissioner for Aviation managed to have a State flag that actually flew over the Capitol Building given as a retirement salute. First time it's ever been done. Has a certificate and everything. I'm the only person to receive one. That in itself is very neat. Guess the new Deputy Commissioner thought I was okay.

Then there was this; a lovely piece of metal with an airplane and plaque. The metal is aluminum that has been heated to create the colors. The plaque is just a salute for 29 years to the State of Alaska.

This was a real surprise. The guys out in the field at the rural airports got together and bought this. It's a big piece of jade with bears fishing. While lots of things happened over the past 29 years I never thought that the guys in the field thought very much of me. I was the one always in their face about rules and regulations, problems and issues. I got very little feedback from them on what they thought.

I got a nice plaque from FAA which surprised me too.

The party at Lonestar was lots of fun. I spent the whole time talking and never did manage to eat more then a couple of shrimp. I was drinking my favorite; lemon drop martinis. Every time I sat the glass down it would disappear and another one would be in its' place. Over the course of the evening I think I got to drink 2 drinks while I bet you 5 floated around me. Glad it wasn't my bar bill.

I dressed for the occasion. First time several guys ever even knew I had legs.

Me, my former boss (Troy) and Becky Cronkite (dear friend). Troy looks so good in my hat.

Me and David Cummings from Bethel. Doesn't he clean up nice!

Now that chapter is done. On to Charlotte