Monday, January 02, 2012


Goodbye and farewell to 2011. I'm not sorry to see it go. In fact, it's not been the best year (nor the worst, either) and getting a fresh start seems advantageous at this juncture in our lives.

We started 2011 with Hubby's diagnosis of a-fib -- and which rapidly went into congestive heart failure. We spend most of the winter / spring months trying to regulate his meds. It was not an easy task but by fall we had pretty much reached a good medium and Hubby began to feel better and could ease up on the number of blood draws and doctors' appointments. Also I could begin to relax and not worry that every little cough, gasp, wheeze, and stagger meant something totally dire.

I spent the winter / spring semester in grad school, taking courses I hated and found irrevocably impractical. Though I've never enjoyed attending school, these six hours were so badly suited to my needs and wants that I had to re-evaluate just how much I wished to continue onward towards final SPED certification. I had to take grade extensions in both courses, and though I eventually ended up completing and Ace-ing each course, I finally decided that I was through with advanced education. I had earned 33 hours beyond my master's degree; it was time to quit.

At the end of the school year 2010 / 2011 I graduated one of my favorite students (SPED students remain on a case load for the four years they are in high school) and both my collaborating teachers resigned (well, one transferred into a new position).

Hubby and I met sister-in-law at Hubby's brother's Chesapeake Bay beach house for an extended week in July. We had purposely arrived too late to attend the family reunion but family kept arriving anyway. We had fun together, but the weather was way too hot and the Hubby's eldest brother came from Philadelphia and stayed with us the whole time which we had not anticipated. It was not the perfect vacation we had hoped for but we did get to see Washington, D.C., watch a gorgeous electric storm over the bay, eat crab cakes, and go to Mount Vernon.

Once school started, I found myself struggling to adjust to my new co-teachers and to my new case load. The added students, six incoming freshmen, were all came with huge behaviorial problems / diagnoses. The high school that had taken these type of students in previous years had been shut down for economic reasons and we now found ourselves "warehousing" students that needed significantly more behavior accommodations than we were prepared to meet. As the semester wore on, I became more and more disenchanted, and seeing that I was also unhappy about finishing my SPED certification, I eventually decided that retirement was looking more and more attractive.

In September my mother, aged 86 minus one day died on the eve of her birthday. Though I was not notified until after her death, I was at her burial here in Kansas City. She left most of her estate to others, including the home in Colorado that had been in our family since 1910. She also left my grandmother's antiques and family heirlooms to others. In an act of self-preservation, I have not asked to see the will or hear of her "fond" bequests to strangers. I missed her more than I thought I would -- but I'm clear that what I actually miss is the chance to straighten out our relationship. And I'm at least smart enough to realize that we could never actually have accomplished that. Still, it felt strange to actually be an orphan -- with no living family that knows me -- at age 65.

Our automobile remained the 1995 pink Lincoln town car. It has 187,000+ miles but Hubby keeps it running pretty darned well. We got a new TV in the summer but otherwise the house did not see any new acquisitions. We did not take our annual trip to Branson, something Hubby and I sorely missed. We spent money instead on Gussie and his teeth, Hubby and his doctors, and new eye glasses for us both.

The winter of 2011 had been miserably snowy and cold. We had to make up school days at the end of the year because of it. The summer weather was miserably hot. The fall has been fairly mild. So far we've had significant snow to end 2011.

Gas prices for the autos were very high throughout the year. Our water bill went up, as did our gas heating bills. We kept our land-line phone but we're not sure for how long now. Hubby pretty much depends on his cell while I have a 3-month basic plan that costs only $19 for the duration. This suits me just fine though I can't text or take pictures with my phone. We do maintain significant bills for Dish network TV and Earthlink for the computers. Because our Christmas gifts to each other were the Nook and the Kindle Fire, we are now investigation going WYFI -- but we haven't make a switch yet from our DSL line. Once that happens, I really see no reason to maintain a land-line phone.

In the fall, Luie jumped out the window of the rental car that Hubby was driving because he had been hit by a careless teen driver. We had Luie back within 28 hours -- but those hours were really bad, considering Luie was loose with no tags and he's blind. Luckily, the police across our state line found him and because we had a sea of advertisements 0n the web and around the neighborhood telephone poles, they returned him to us. Tears ensued all around.

Kansas City opened their new music hall to astonishingly grand reviews. We were very excited to have season tickets to their family series concerts, but have since found that we are not as "wild" about the hall(s) as the reviews led us to expect. The sound is gorgeous -- but the seating is terribly uncomfortable, with narrow seats and almost no leg room. Nearly all the seats require going up / down steps to get to them. Entrancing and exiting from the building is very congested. Parking requires miles of walking.

In December I got the flu and I've yet to recover. Also during that time Hubby managed the annual classroom Christmas celebration and it was a wonder. The kids were thrilled and well fed in the bargain. The entire celebration, though, rested totally in his lap. We also managed a week in Houston with Hubby's sister and her friends. We played games, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we shared, and we felt comforted being in each others' presence. We also had a bountiful gift exchange, even though we had each vowed we were "really and truly" cutting back this year. Both Hubby and Sister pampered me and took pains to ensure I didn't get sicker or wear out completely. We did the annual Christmas night movie (The War Horse) and we played cards and Sorry and Uno every day. It was, as always, the perfect Christmas.

We wrapped up 2011 by going to bed on the 31st at 9 p.m. -- and we were asleep when the new year rang itself in. Gussie was frightened by the gun fire that always occurs in the 'hood at midnight, so we cuddled him closer and turned over and snuggled back under our covers and went back to sleep.

Our dreams for 2012 are for good health and enough financial where-with-all to tolerate both Hubby and my retirement. Time will tell. Meanwhile, we are coping. We may not be thriving, yet -- but we are looking forward to a better year with greater personal satisfaction and inner peace. We are hoping that for us all.


Donna said...

I am so glad Cliff retired. Money is tight, of course, but we get by fine. It's worth it to see my husband so happy and relaxed.
I wonder if you have sinus infection. Cliff used to get that every winter, and he could never shake it without antibiotics.

Margaret said...

Wonderful recap and retirement sounds like it was meant to be. You summarize your year perfectly by looking at both the positives and negatives. I'm hoping for a better 2012 for all of us!