Category Archives: Retirement

A Trip to Asheville

One of the things you can do when you’re retired is pick up and go anywhere, any time.  My daughter was here visiting for just over a week in April and we put over 1,000 miles on our car – sightseeing in Charlotte, visiting family in Durham and Greenville and making a trip to Asheville.

It’s been a loooong time since I’ve been to Asheville.  It’s a good thing she had GPS on her phone because there are a lot of windy one way streets.

Dogwood tree                                  Dogwood branch







While she visited with her friend, we decided to drive South on The Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s still kind of early for most of the trees and flowers to be blooming but it was still a pretty drive.   There were dogwoods at the ranger visitor station and throughout the forests.  There was almost no traffic although lots of bikers.  Those roads aren’t really designed for bikes and cars to mix, so getting around them was, um, interesting.  Still, if you can ride your bike up the roads to get to the Blue Ridge, more power to you.

Looking Glass Rock

Looking Glass Rock

Blue Ridge Parkway tunnel

Parkway tunnel

Having moved from living at about 4,500 feet elevation, we did laugh when we heard a park ranger warn some people about the elevation.  We started at about 2,000 feet and ended up at about 5,000.

The first night we ate at Strada Italiano in downtown Asheville.  It was excellent.  They make all of their bread in house and it shows.  Our table had lasagna, chicken Marsala and Tuscan duck.  We will definitely go back!

Pansy quilt

Pansy quilt

The second day we visited the North Carolina Arboretum.  Early spring flowers were out and the butterflies were abundant.  One feature is the pansy quilt they plant each year.  The pattern is always different and the gift store had postcards with previous years’ patterns.  The water features had not been turned on, but the gardens are still very nice.  Well worth the trip.



Bonsai garden

Bonsai garden

For lunch we went to 12 Bones Smokehouse.  Once again, it was good someone knew the way because this is certainly off the beaten path.

12 Bones restaurant

12 Bones Smokehouse

Rumor has it that President Obama eats here every time he is in Asheville.  The line was out the door and into the parking lot when we arrived and when we left.  This was the first restaurant that I have seen that only serves Cheerwine products.  You have to be from the south to understand this.  I’ve never actually had Cheerwine but it has been described to me as a cross between root beer and Sprite – really sweet.

There’s a lot we didn’t get to on this trip (like the chocolate store) so I predict another visit is on the horizon.


Salt & Pepper or Pepper & Salt?

When I was young Morton Salt came out with those plastic salt and pepper shakers that had an “S” and “P” on them.  Maybe you’ve seen these at flea markets.  Everyone had them – hey, plastic was the in thing then.  These sat in the middle of our dinner table.  One night I noticed that they matched my sister’s and my first initials – salt and pepper, Susie and Peggie.  Hmmmmmm, interesting.

Salt & Pepper shakers

Many years later after we were both married, while ordering something to be monogrammed, I noticed that our married initials stilled matched those salt and pepper shakers – SP and PS.  Now this is more than interesting.  What are the odds?

Our married lives moved along, mine in New York, hers in Connecticut.  At some point my sister began collecting interesting salt and pepper shakers.  My favorite was a set with the Empire State building and King Kong.  She eventually found a ceramic “S” and “P” which she kept (and still does) on the window ledge in her kitchen – now also my kitchen.  While visiting on our annual vacation a few years ago, I mentioned to her that it was nice that she had shakers that were my initials.  Her response – “What?”


She had never noticed something that I had found interesting for many years.  She realized they were her initials, but never made the connection that they were also mine.  So now this is the running joke.  She still has the shakers in her window, and, on occasion, I rearrange them to suit me.  Whenever she notices it, she puts them back.  No one ever mentions it, but we know.

We’re Retired!

In June, 2013, my husband retired after 39 years of teaching, the last eight as chair of his department.  I had always thought he would die at his desk, but he proved me wrong.Our old house

We quickly began the process of preparing our house for sale.  Soffits were painted, knick knacks were packed away, realtors were interviewed, curb appeal considered and serious cleaning took place.

Our plan was to sell our house and move to North Carolina to live with my sister – not just for a while, but permanently.  Various friends and relatives have told us this will never work, we are seriously delusional or it will never happen, but we beg to differ.

This idea was hatched some years ago, after our father died.  My mother was left with a house and yard she could not maintain by herself.  One thing she really didn’t like was being alone in the house at night.  On one of our annual vacation trips, we suggested she look into having either of two sisters-in-law coming to live with her.  They both also lived alone and were within about 5 miles of her house.  She said no – she could never do that.  It wasn’t as easy as we thought.  Besides, could I live with my sister?  Yeah, I thought I could.

I had never thought about it until then, but it sparked an idea.  We jokingly said we could do it.  But could we? The big obstacle would be my husband – did he really want to live in a house with two women creating honey-do lists for him?  I didn’t think too much about it at the time.  We were all still working and retirement planning hadn’t even started.

Over various visits to my mother’s we continued to talk about this.  My mother eventually moved into a retirement village and we committed to moving in with my sister. The first test came when we had to stay with my sister on our annual visit – mother’s house had been sold.   No problem.

To put the idea more to the test, my sister and I spent two weeks in Paris in a 300 sq. ft. apartment.  It was great.  Of course, we were in Paris so it would have to be pretty bad to negatively influence us.    No problem.

Retirement came and we’re now in North Carolina looking for a house or land.  My sister and I are sharing the cooking, my husband is working on the house to get it ready to sell.  I still think this will work.  I’ll keep you posted.