Since I got so off-point with last week's blog, I was determined to write on the topic of retirement this week. But then life threw us a curve on Saturday night/Sunday morning and I must write about it.
Since the story involves our yard and landscaping, I can also include the story of how Joe will never have to cut the grass again....ever! That happened thanks to me!
While playing golf with Navy friends in January of this year, he mentioned that I had taken my Social Security a year early but he was waiting until 70 in order to get the max. The friend asked, "So, are you getting your spousal share of Cathie's?" Joe remembered hearing about that when he went to his pre-retirement workshops, but he had forgotten about it.
Joe went off to the local office and found out that he was entitled but they could only make it retroactive for six months. The date he filed the paperwork was two days short of six months since I had started receiving benefits. Lucky! When he got the lump sum check, he told me he was going to use this new found treasure to replace all of the grass in the backyard with a putting green and a chipping green. One Putt Greens was the company we used and we are incredibly happy with the result. (What Joe didn't factor was my rose bushes that shed their petals onto his putting green whenever the winds pick up....he doesn't have to "mow" but now he has to vacuum.)
We re-landscaped our entire yard, including replacing the driveway with brick overlay, after the years of tricycles, bicycles, and kicking soccer balls were behind us. Joe wanted to minimize lawn-mowing and we both wanted an atmosphere of tranquility. We maintained some of the original landscaping on the slopes including some junipers that are trimmed to resemble bonsai trees (but much bigger of course) but the rest was redone in 2001. Much of the grass was replaced with brick and concrete/aggregate. We put in a pond and a beautiful waterfall that is right outside the windows that run the length of our living room/dining room.
Into that tranquil scene came an uninvited visitor on Sunday morning at 3 a.m. Joe thought he heard a crash on the main road that runs parallel to our smaller street (at the top of a 20 foot slope). He didn’t investigate, but when he heard the sound of tires spinning at around 5 a.m., he got up. He turned on the lights and saw a white car with its inside lights on moving very slowly up the hill in front of our home. He went to the garage to get shoes and a flashlight and by the time he turned on the outside lights and went outside, the car was gone. He checked the front and back of the house, but NOT along the living room/dining room area. He walked up to the corner and down to the neighbor's house, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
Later that morning when we were preparing to go to church, I noticed some black plastic around our waterfall. Upon closer scrutiny, we saw three of our full-grown hedges knocked down along with several smaller bushes and a very large palm tree. A branch on one of the bonsai-shaped juniper (planted 32 years ago) was also knocked off. Joe went outside and this picture is what he saw inside our pond. There were also two orange posts inside the pond. It dawned on us that the noise Joe heard was a car crashing. And it had crashed right into our waterfall. There was plastic and glass all over the place.