19 days left until Feb 16th

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This year something great is going to happen at my house. It?s something I?ve been waiting for since I started working?I?m going to retire.

For the last 27 years I have been a fireman. I can not begin to count the number of smoky mountains I?ve climbed, times I?ve slept in the dirt with a rock for a pillow, burning buildings I?ve gone into, nor smashed up cars I have pulled people out of. Although not a job that is suited to everybody, fire fighting is one that has fit me like a glove. I have had some great times and worked with some wonderful people in some of the most stressful and physically demanding situations imaginable.

And as of Monday morning, I have finished my final fire season.

I have quite the interesting work schedule between now and Feb 16th, when I will sign my final time sheet. I work next week, then I have two weeks off, then I work a week, then I have two weeks off, then I work three weeks, and then I?m on vacation from the 5th of January until the day I retire. With holidays thrown into the mix, that means I actually have to physically show up a grand total of 19 more days between now and the day I retire. Yeah, I could cash all of the time in at the end?if I wanted to give forty percent of it to Uncle Sam and Uncle Arnie?but I?m going to simply use a bunch of the time I have saved up and do more enjoyable things.

There will be no shortage of those for me.

I have been blessed to have been placed in what I consider to be the best possible place to live in the state of California. Siskiyou County is one of the largest counties, area-wise, and yet has a population of only 43,000 people, give or take a few. I can point my pick-up in any direction and within twenty minutes, to an hour and a half, be hunting or fishing in some awesome places?many times completely alone in my immediate environment. I can drive anywhere in the county, and if the distance is fifty miles down the highway, it takes me no more than fifty minutes to get there; no matter what time of the day it is. People here drive pick-ups and SUV?s, they work hard and go to town smelling like cows or saw gas, they wear flannel shirts and blue jeans?by golly, they are my kind of people. I love it.

About the only downside of the whole deal, is that with so few people in the county it?s somewhat hard to find many bluegrassers. There?s a few, to be sure, but nothing like the numbers encountered in Sacramento. That?s OK, it?s a trade-off I will gladly make. I have always leaned toward the hermit side of life anyway, much to my bubbly wife?s chagrin, so this type of an area is right up my alley.

I remember way back when my oldest daughter was in her early teens, we would visit larger population centers and see all the tract houses stacked neatly in their rows. She would say how much she wanted to live in a place just like that. Then one summer she had the opportunity to do just that. At the end of that summer she couldn?t wait to get home and away from the rat race. Sarah, my middle daughter, adventurer and future conqueror of the world, enjoys spending time in more crowded conditions, but on the other hand, last Saturday she was out in the duck blind with me long before first light, trudging through the mud and having a great time. I think I?ll keep her in spite of her short term ?I want to visit the city? flaws. The youngest daughter is just happy to be alive. They have all grown up here. Shoot, we?ve been here since 1989?it?s home.

I?m waiting for the plans for my new shop to come back from the county. It?s too late to start something now as winter is almost upon us, but this spring will see the start of a 30 x 50 shop project right behind the house. Once that?s completed I will set up all of my woodworking equipment and build things. Imagine that: after a zillion years of living with a wife, three daughters, female exchange students, female dogs, female cats?even a bunch of stupid chickens?I will finally have a place of my own. I told my wife the first thing I was going to build was a sign with Spanky?s picture on it that says ?He Man Woman Haters Club? and hang it over the shop door. And I will too?as long as I get prior permission from her.

Hmm, 19 days heh? I?m not sure if I can do that?I may have to take a few more off. <

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