Now that the heat wave has broken I am looking forward to summer. The pool is ready and we all went swimming yesterday. It is not an in ground pool so I cannot swim laps in it but it is still a lot of fun. I hope to go soaring one weekend soon and I am trying to get Teresa or Dana to go with me. I am also looking forward to traveling to Florida to see the launch of STS-125 from Cape Canaveral. Before that our church plans to send volunteers to Gulfport Mississippi to do disaster relief work. I went the year before last and I hope to go this year too. I have no other specific plans for the summer, just taking it easy and enjoying being retired. This will be my first summer since I retired and I plan to make it a memorable one.
Today the high was 97 degrees with a heat index of 114 degrees. I managed to plant grass seed in the far back of the yard that we just had graded. I will have to water the seed for the next 21 days and pray that it grows. Right now it is a dust bowl back there. I managed to mow part of the back yard before the heat and humidity became too much. The rest of the weekend and first part of next week are going to be much the same. Isn’t Summer still a couple of weeks away? Since I have been forced inside I have been doing a lot of reading and listening to podcasts. I finished ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz’ and have started started a collection of short stories titled ‘Beyond Armageddon.’ I am still looking for a gym or health center to join so that I can start losing some weight and get back into shape. I want to be in good condition when we go hiking in Yellowstone later this year. I also have decided that I am going to travel to Florida in October and see the next Shuttle take off from Cape Canaveral. The space program has been a part of my life since childhood and I really want to see a launch before I die. So come hell or high water I will be in Florida this October to watch STS-125 take off. It will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my life.
Tomorrow will be my last day as a civil service employee. After a retirement service and luncheon I will be heading home to enjoy the rest of my life as a retired person. Everything is go and I am really excited. There is still a little apprehension about things but that will go away after a month or two and I realize that I can get by on my pension and the other savings I have. My mother had her 89th birthday recently and the entire family gathered at my brother Jeff and his wife Donna’s house. It was Mexican night and the food was great and spending time with my family was even better. I hope that being retired will allow me to spend more time with my family and do some of the other things that I have been wanting to do for so long. So many plans, I just hope I will have the time to realize them.
I am still in countdown mode for retirement. After today I will have one more full week of work and then 4 days until I am unemployed. I am really looking forward to being retired. Any fears I might have had are gone. It is time for me to jump off the hamster cage I have been running in for all these years. If everything goes according to plan we will be moving within a year or two to our final home where I hope to spend the rest of my days. Momentous times are ahead and I look forward to them. Last night our church performed our annual Last Supper performance. Once again I played the part of John the Younger. The performance went off well but I wish we had more people attend. The major objective of our New Beginnings program and transition team is to find ways to attract new members and keep our church vital and growing in the coming years. I only regret that I will probably not be here to see the fruits of our labors but I plan on keeping in touch with the members of the church after we move.
I finished all the paperwork for retirement last week and wrote the check for my military buyback. I am now just waiting for April 3rd to roll around. My retirement luncheon is going to be at the Szechuan Inn in Hampton. I will have to make a retirement speech so I have to think of something fitting to say. Just got back from a spaghetti dinner at church which was followed by a Keith Maddrey concert. Keith’s band is a local Chesapeake band and they play great contemporary Christian music. I hope this last month of work before retirement doesn’t seem like an eternity. I have lots of plans for retirement and cannot wait to put them into motion. I expect that a significant part of my retirement will be spent in expanded duties at church, which I am looking forward to doing. I also want to whip our yard into shape this summer and fix up my upstairs room where I expect to spend a lot of time.
I don’t know why I have not written lately, I guess I have been pretty busy with other things. I have finished with the cottage meetings at our house for the New Beginnings program for our church. I attended a weekend retreat to learn communication, team building, and problem solving skills. I have also been going to a Chiropractor this week to see if he can help with my neck popping and sore shoulder. I am still reserving judgment on the Chiropractor for now. But I guess by far the biggest thing to report is that I will be retiring from civil service after 28 years. I will retire on April 3rd from my job with the U.S. Army at Fort Monroe. The finances look pretty good and I got a $25,000 VSIP bonus with the retirement package. So after working full-time for 41 years I am joining the ranks of the retired. I am still pinching myself to see if it is all really happening. To further reinforce the reality of my pending retirement my boss of 3 years at TRADOC retired today after 31 years of federal service. We had a retirement ceremony for him and he actually choked up near the end and could not speak. I fear the same might happen to me when my turn comes. We have many plans for our joint retirement, foremost among them being moving from Virginia to either Texas, New Mexico, Kentucky, or Tennessee. After living my entire adult life in Virginia I am ready for new horizons. Much more to report soon.
Still hoping for snow but I am not holding my breath. I received what I hope is my last performance appraisal at work yesterday. I got high marks in all areas and my senior rater said that I should be promoted as soon as possible. So maybe I will be a GS-13 before I retire. I would like that. But the chance for a promotion will not change my goal of being retired this year. I am still hoping that I will be off the work roles and into my golden years by August of this year. In other news I had my first cottage meeting at our house on Thursday. Only a couple of people showed up but it did give me an opportunity to practice my roll as a facilitator. I am in need on a mini-vacation soon or some sort of adventure as it seems that I am becoming bored and restless lately. Nothing seems to hold my attention for long. Taking rides to a park somewhere to walk Max are about the only things I look forward to lately. I think all that will change once I am retired.
I found out this week that my boss was retiring this March. Since I knew he was not old enough to retire I suspected that he was getting what the federal government calls a VERA. (Voluntary Early Retirement Authorization) This allows you to retire without meeting the mandatory age and time requirements. There is a penalty for retiring early but it is only about 2% per year that you retire early. So I asked him about the VERA and he told me that he did get one. I asked if they were still available and he told me yes. So to make a long story short I will be retiring this year. I will retire by August at the latest and May at the earliest. It all depends on how I want to cash in my accrued sick leave. Anyway, before the year is out I will be retired at the ripe old age of 59 with 28 years of federal service. Needless to say I am REALLY excited about this. I am finally starting to sense what being retired will really be like, and I can’t wait. So next week I will be busy getting all the calculations and paperwork done so that I can get a final retirement date. In the meantime I am giving serious thought to what I want to do with the rest of my life as a retired person. To use an Internet phrase W00T!!!
The New Year has come and gone and I have great hopes for this year. I hope that this year will be the last one where I am fully employed. I plan on retiring in January of 2009. I have many plans for my retirement, including moving to a new home and traveling. I want to have a vacation this year, hopefully at one of the national parks. I am planning, with some trepidation, on returning to Gulfport, Mississippi with my church again. I am also going to start exercising and hopefully lose some weight as I cannot stand being the weight I am now. I have been very active with my church and I anticipate being active all year. But mostly I am looking forward to being retired. Work has become very tedious for me lately and I am way past ready to start a new era in my life.