Earth Day, Arbor Day, Bard’s B-day, and More…

(Week Twelve)

For those who indulge in commemoration, this was truly a busy week. Earth Day on Tuesday, Shakespeare’s 450th birthday AND Administrative Professionals Day on Wednesday, and Arbor Day on Friday. And these are only the big ones. Did you know, for example, it was Bedbug Awareness Week?

For others of us, this was a busy week for entirely different reasons. Now…don’t get me wrong. I observe Earth and Arbor Day each year with due fervor (I did not invest in a custom fitted, period authentic druid costume just for show). We were a little more occupied this week, however, with the big move to the Big Island. With the arrival of the pods on Tuesday, the pack out began in earnest.

So…have you ever found yourself in the middle of a cross-globe move and needing to render eight or ten pounds of beef fat before you could depart? Few things are now “normal’ about our lives, and this week proved no different. Trying to eat our way through our larder as we wind down here in this house, we discovered in the freezer a king’s share of suet patiently awaiting its fate–to become a fine, all natural topical that will nourish and protect the skin of the good people who buy it.

(I know what you are thinking. "Who doesn’t keep such stock on hand these days?”)

So…the bride was busy into the wee hours many a’night thermally squeezing every ounce of goodness out of the leaf fat before we hit the road. In her copious free time, she also designed a new snazzy label for her product to match the new packaging. Watch out Avon!

I failed to mention in my opening diatribe that this week also marked the passing of Take Your Kid To Work Day. So…I dutifully ushered the kids into my office (dining room) and had them look at my desk (dinner table). I introduced them to my boss (the bride) and showed them my fancy work station (an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard). They grabbed a piece of fruit from our grand cafeteria, walked out by the motor pool, and then headed for their bus stop down by our mail room. Self-employment is…interesting.

Self-employed, Unemployed, Retired, Other?

That reminds me…it has been really funny to step out of convention and then figure out how to characterize yourself in discussions with people. You see…after 20-plus years in federal service, some regard us as “retired” (banks, of all places). I’m okay with telling folks that I am in “early retirement,” but we like to see ourselves as “self-employed” (though the pay is not very good yet). Others, like Uncle Sam, readily consider us “unemployed,” but it is funny to note that, in our state of “unemployment,” Uncle Sam also takes the liberty to hold our savings against us, counting them as income, and I have yet to receive a welfare check. (I guess I am both unemployed and a wealthy taxpayer at the same time, existing in two states at once, something you might find on the fringes of particle physics.) All this said, I must say that while I like the term “self-employed,” I am gravitating toward some other brands; “bohemian free lancer” is currently at the top of my list.

And Then There Was Thursday…

…which lacked any major reason for commemoration in a week full of venerable days, giving rise to Thursday’s sense of loneliness–a sense so strong that it compelled our mini-van, out of pity, to do something extraordinary to make this particular Thursday feel special for us all. Mind you, this is the good tempered vehicle that we intend to drive across the country.

First, said vehicle, decided to spruce up the appearance of her dashboard with the warm glow of a “check engine” light (in a lovely shade of amber, nonetheless). Nothing alarming; she has shown this type of charm before. Quietly, she purred on. But it turns out that she was just warming up.

For the first time in my 28 years of piloting land vehicles, I watched the speedometer drop to zero (while we were still moving at a good clip) and the odometer freeze. Engine running, wheels turning, no-deceleration, and the van perfectly responsive to my every input…yet our instruments registered no movement, no speed. I suppose you could say that, as far as our craft was concerned, we were traveling, but at the speed of stillness.

Now, had we experienced only these latter two novel events, I would have quickly concluded that we had reached light speed or warp speed or, in the parlance of the Mel Brooks classic Space Balls, “gone plaid.” Or maybe we could have hit a wormhole sideways, but in that precise way that causes automobiles to react in such a peculiar fashion. That “check engine” light, however, suggested reason for attention, if not mild concern. So…off to the shop to drop the little beastie for a quick check up, which–interestingly–we had planned to do that very evening before the spectacular instrument display and space-time event. I also put in a call to Stephen Hawking.

Wrapping Up

Other than that, it was a week of winding down. The kids were all sent off from their last day at school with parties of varying sorts and relatives dropped by one-after-another to see the pack out in progress and wish us well. Oh…and there was a prom for one of our young ladies, who got all gussied up and spent the evening indulging in fine dining and dance. (As far as we know, no police were involved, so all is good.)

As for me, looks like I may have secured the best job in the world. Someone actually wants to pay me to drive nice new cars across a tropical paradise island a few hours a week (in between the planting, harvesting, and milking). A great venue for gathering my thoughts and diving into audio books, language lessons, and online college lectures while I watch the countryside fly by. I was also offered the opportunity to start conducting a type of telecommuting research, which should put a little more coin in pocket. Between these and ad hoc writing gigs, I can really get used to the freelance lifestyle (as long as we can manage to continue feeding ourselves).

I’ll close here. There is final packing to be done so that we can begin our great journey, and I have included in the post below some words on the matter of travel by James Madison. Also, check out the nifty device below if you have any interest in camping, boating, emergency preparedness, or–perhaps–primitive midwifery.

Kelly Kettle


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