Camp Connell, CA - Remember all those dull seminars, usually entitled "Managing Change," or "Planning for Success in 2020" or something like that.
Our retired lifestyle in the mountains is exempt from the business-world platitudes, but not from change.
We hiked. We read lots of books. We traveled. We enjoyed our nearby children and grandchildren. We volunteered, each according to our skill set: Pat taught children at church and in the nearby state park, and I led guided walks and worked on the trail maintenance in the forest.
It was as comfortable as an AARP magazine article.
Starting last year we began to notice cosmic shifts in our universe. Pat tripped (chasing a 12-year-old) and ended up having minor surgery on her nose, which didn't work.
Son Zack found employment at a nearby ski resort, and came to live with us to be near his job.
I took a hard fall on icy snow the first day of ski season and had to lay off a month while my ribs healed. Then on a routine visit to the skin doctor he found a skin cancer which required minor surgery -- you guessed it -- on my nose. The surgery turned out to be a bit more extensive than I expected and required a graft, which did not improve my semi-rugged looks. I ended up with a notched nose, decided the pirate look was okay, but was grounded for two months during the healing process.
Then Cabin Fever set in.
Just as the endless winter seemed to be over (it snowed again this week) Zack's 12-year-old daughter Katelynn came to live with him, and us.
The empty nest is not so empty any more.
Katie's a joy and a blessing. Zack is a help, and a blessing.
And we are all very busy.
As you might imagine, the empty nest quiet has been replaced by Justin Beiber music, home schooling, and discussions about appropriate wear for an almost-teen.
We also have a new dog named Rusty. He's technically Katie's dog but she lets us share him.
Pat is principal of our "school," and carries most of the workload. A good friend Jim Lashbrook volunteered to teach her math class, which has been a blessing. For those who know anything about our family's math abilities, we can do math but don't really remember why.
I teach spelling and grammar, and Zack (who is working) works on reading.
Pat has learned a lot about home school requirements and resources, and the public school system here has been a great help.
So here we are, with both our children and their families nearby, and two of them living with us.
That's a blessing few people have in this modern world of scattered families, though we certainly know several.
Years ago Pat and I moved 3,000 miles away from our families to take a California job, leaving our parents and all our kinfolk back East.
We now feel a bit like the Waltons, with three generations under one roof, particularly at bedtime when voices from within the house call out:
"Goodnight Grandma. Goodnight Papa."
And then Zack chips in "Goodnight Mom. Goodnight Dad."
And then I say: "Did someone take the dog out?"
And it gets very quiet.