New Traditions


angel and dogCreative Pension Payment:  Learning New Things About Old Friends

My friend Judy Mackey told me about the red string of fate.  I was not familiar with the Asian legend of gods tying an invisible red string around those that are soul mates destined to be married.  Judy had written a short story about this, and it came up when I told her I wanted to start writing about traditions.  As a military dependent with no roots, I felt like my life was lacking in traditions.  I started to wonder how people with similar circumstances created traditions for themselves. I decided to start with Judy since we are similarly situated; middle-aged, no children/grand-children, grew up as a military dependent, etc.


Me with Judy in Japan 1976

I first met Judy in Japan where our Fathers were stationed and we were attending Camp Zama American High School.  I got to know Judy a bit better the summer of 1976 when  I vacationed in Japan and visited her family.  Over the years we stayed in touch sporadically, due to the distance and lack of technology, until Zama started having multi-class reunions.  We didn’t actually see each other for about 30 years. Once I moved to Texas, we started getting together occasionally for “mini reunion” breakfasts or sushi dinners.

After 40 years, we find ourselves nearly neighbors in Texas and talking about traditions.   Judy commented that Military Brats are “OK” not doing the same thing over and over.  I agreed. Moving all the time, different homes, schools, friends….what would our traditions be anyway?  Her comment was the prelude to learning she didn’t think she had many traditions of her own.  As a half Japanese, Buddhist married to an Italian Catholic, traditions were a challenge.  The first Christmas dinner she had with her then husband  was anything but traditional – shrimp tempura at her parents’ house.  She laughed as she explained how he showed up in a 3 piece corduroy suit, while she was in t-shirt and jeans.

However, hanging around with Judy these days she tells a different story.  She actually does have traditions, or customs and rituals, that she practices.  She is a unique combination of East and West: IKEA furniture with a formal kimono hanging on the wall; chardonnay served with wasabi peas; salt on her front door steps for luck backed up by a “” security camera; and an “Echo Dot” within inches of a crying Buddha sculpture.  angel and dogShe posts cheerful coffee memes on Facebook each morningShe paints angels.  She believes in the red string of fate, eating noodles at new year to celebrate a long life, and staying in touch with old friends like me.




Judy now


Judy is an accomplished palette knife artist, who loves painting still life, people, pets and angels. Her work can be found at Crate & Barrel, DaVinci Gallery, Facebook and at















The Art of Trees – Part 1

Tree sign

European Black Pine in Sapporo, Japan


Creative Pension Payment:  More Time to Appreciate Nature


Trees are badass.  They provide shelter and shade for other living things.  They’re beautiful and diverse.  Artists and photographers love trees.  I live in a community where trees are protected and I can see them from every window in my home.  This is a collection of photos of trees that are special to me.  That’s all.

garden stairs IMG_0983

I took this at Shikinomori Park in June.

Mark Vicksburg Tree

Taken on Washington St. in Vicksburg, Ms. by Mark Winslet.  I love this because it reminds me of historic down town, across the from Attic Gallery and Highway 61 Coffee Shop.

Lone Cypress Deb

Deborah Platt snapped this of the Lone Cypress in Monterey, CA last week.

Maple in Japan

I took this in Sapporo this May.











Writing From The Heart


Painting by Judy Mackey

Creative Pension Payment:  Being able to write about anything

I’ve always been a writer, of sorts.  When I was 12, I wrote a short story.  I even typed up the manuscript, but my Dad got transferred to Japan that summer and it was misplaced in the packing.  In middle school and high school I filled journals with poetry and teenaged revelations.  In college I wrote all the time (my BA is in Communications.) At work I wrote contracts, white papers and occasional articles for company publications. And then I went to graduate school…. It was exhausting after a while.

Now I’m a different kind of writer.  One of my goals for retiring was to research and write about three things:

  1. How people with non-traditional circumstances create traditions for themselves
  2. The non financial aspects of deciding when and how to retire, and how people spend their days
  3. Anything without a deadline

The purpose of my blog is to put that stuff out there, hopefully in an interesting way.  I’ve been told that I write “easily and with confidence”  using “vivid descriptions.”  I’ve also been told I’m too brief and provide insufficient supporting evidence for my “positions.”   The good thing about a blog is being able to write about whatever you want, however you want.  I like pictures and I like being brief.

Contact me if you have any unique traditions or crazy retirement adventures you’d like to share.