Semi Retirement Mid Nov 2018 to April 2019

Well if what I have heard about retirement from all my friends and family older than me is true, and I suspect it is, then I am sure I am going to enjoy it…I found out I do like semi retirement quite a bit, especially the part about sleeping in as late as I want to, and going to bed as late as I want to. 🙂

I heard from one of my bosses soon after returning from my fall trip to Arkansas in November of 2018, that while down in southern Arkansas collecting quartz crystals, they had received two small snowstorms and that ended my seasonal employment, which launched me into my semi retirement a little earlier than expected, mainly because our winter season was about to become a bit rougher than the previous five winters had been. I was ready to start my semi retirement phase…even though we usually get up early to go rockhunting, I was really getting tired of rising way before the crack of dawn for my daily workout. Yes we rockhounds get up early, but rarely do we get up as early as I had been getting up to go to work.

I kept myself fairly busy, got the two and a half acres of leaves raked at Mom`s well after we returned from Arkansas, last few days of November, mainly due to the wet and cold fall season we had, think it was two weeks after raking and leaf blowing before we could burn them, had to wait for it to dry out and then wait for a low wind day to do so….


Normally we rent a blower from a buddy of mine here in town, a Stihl blower, but found out he stopped renting them out when Stihl failed to keep their word and allow him to remain the sole rental on them in my area…I don`t blame them, they gave him their word, they should have kept their word. Matter of Principle…I believe strongly in that…Stihl blowers are the best product out there…but if you cannot keep your word, you have nothing…your word is your bond, matter of trust. I went shopping at Lowes and found they had a Poulan leaf blower on sale, at an unheard of price, so we bought one of those…runs great, starts great, only drawback I found, is that when you shut it off to refill it with fuel, you then have to allow it to cool down, at least 20 minutes before you can start it again…guess they want you to rest up as well.

During December I cleaned house and basement, put some shelves up in the basement to get things up off the floor, never know when you live in a low area, with two sump pumps running, when something might stop working or something back up and then you have things damaged. That happened about five to seven yrs ago, stormwater sewer backed up into my basement, got about ten inches deep down there, burned the sump pump up completely, was able to borrow a trash pump from my roofer and then replace the sump once the water was removed. I capped off that drain to the stormwater sewer and got one of those trash pumps for that corner, one that kicks on when the water gets up so high on it, hose attached to it takes that water over to the sump pump well in the basement and the sump pump ejects it from the basement. I wanted to avoid that again and organize the basement better, took me the better part of two weeks to do that….

…..I also joined the Rehab Gym here in town and kept walking a few miles a day, which helps my KETO do it`s job a bit better, kept my weight down to 160…over Christmas tho, I put a few pounds back on with all the goodies out there, but by February, I had that back under control again too. 🙂 

My friend Tim Weiskopf, who has his own Body Shop, was busy thru December, so I waited til the middle of January to take my truck over to him, to have the damage to the passenger side of the cab repaired…

…he and his sons and crew did a great job with it, looked brand new when he finished with it…and during the process of it, I found out that his son Dillon, also likes to collect rocks and minerals, so I took him a nice flat of various crystals and minerals from my collection, and since then have taken him rockhunting as well. I also had the chance to drive a nice Ford four door pickup during the week that Tim had my Tacoma in his shop…

…it had a lot of bells and whistles on it, picked it up the morning I dropped off my Tacoma to Tim at his shop, and could not find a manual on it, and the Enterprise guy didn`t have time to explain anything, so I drove it to a good friend who drives Ford pickups…Jack Cuneio, and asked if he could show me the basics on it…he came out and walked me right through it all…thanks again, Jack !!  About the only thing it didn`t have was four wheel drive, and luckily for me, Tim finished my Tacoma just in time for the first snowfall of 2019….

…and as you can see, it looks like it just rolled off the lot of a dealership…thanks again Tim, you guys did a great job with it !!   I finished out January by adding an area in one corner of my basement where I can clean rocks during cold weather or bad weather….

…yes as you can see, I have collected and cleaned up a lot of druse quartz…if you know someone that wants some, let me know…I took several buckets of grab bag material to MAGS, the Memphis Club, back in March, for their show later this month, and still have a few buckets of that if someone is in need of grab bag material. Also had a few dealers visit me over the winter to get some nice druse plates to sell in their locations as well. During February, I was kept busy shooting emergency calls for the local paper…we wound up with a lot of snow this winter and some ice as well, one ice storm causing all night calls for our local responders and snarling I-44 in several spots with overturned semi`s, five of them on the east side of our East Overpass…

…very few injuries, but could have been a real humdinger for sure…maybe the next time the authorities ask people to stay off the roads, there will be a few more truckdrivers comply with that request. We had a commonsense rule when I was driving fire trucks…you won`t do anyone any good, if you cannot get the truck to the scene safely…meaning slow down or stay off the road completely…won`t do anyone any good if you have a wreck or get injured or killed. Duh….

Few nights later was a house fire at the neighboring town…five fire departments trying to save something for the residents with water problems getting in the way…huge house up on a hill and firefighters had problems pumping water up that hill to the hoselines manned by other firefighters…during another snowstorm mixed with sleet no less….

…I can safely tell ya, firefighters do not like to sit or stand around and watch someone`s property or house, burn down….it is the most helpless feeling one will ever have and it just demoralizes us when it happens…luckily soon after I took these initial photos of this house fully involved, they were able to get water up the hill and into the hoselines so firefighters could do the job they were called there to do….

…and then four days later, I woke to the sound of chatter on the scanner early in the morning about a fire at our local truck stop, so I got up, dressed, grabbed the camera, and Onyx went with me to the fire…turned out to be two tractor trailers parked side by side on the back row of the truck stop and well involved in heavy fire…smoke from it could be seen for miles….

the one above was taken by a truck driver parked a few feet away and facing the fire, shot it through his windshield….the others I shot…this fire had many on edge in town fearing hazardous materials were involved, they heard explosions before I arrived…those were the semi tires blowing up….both trucks were carrying food products only….

I got to watch a young department come together with a lot of teamwork at this fire, lots of young firefighters on this department once again, they did a great job and were there all morning long, trying to gain access to the trailer transporting Mac N Cheese Edibles, hence the heavy fire seen before…

Then one day in mid March, I drove out to photograph a car on fire and wound up helping the lone firefighter who responded to the call with the fire truck…the paid crew went to a reported vehicle accident involving a semi and while listening to the second call, I thought he had a crew on board the truck, but on my arrival to photograph the fire, found he was alone, so I offered to run the pump on the truck while he fought the fire…something I had done for 36 of my nearly 40 years on the local fire department….

He had a few minutes of excitement when he trained the hose stream down into the cab of the car through the front windshield and the water stream hit the steering column, obviously made of magnesium which reacts with water and looks like roman candles going off around you….

…then he discovered by accident that the gas tank was obviously leaking gasoline, as the flames kept jumping from side to side underneath the car…refusing to go out…you can always tell flames that are fuel fed, they are extra unique looking….

The paid crews arrived about 25 minutes later as Jimmy was beginning to get more control over the fuel fed fire….I am sure he was glad to see them too…

After posting the story on my FB page, one of my female friends who is a reporter with St Louis Channel 4 News,, spotted it and called me to see if they could use my video for a short story and I gave them permission to do so…she put together a very nice story on it….thanks again Paige !!

By this time in March, our weather was beginning to lighten up and warm up, and I was looking forward to doing some rockhunting in the weeks ahead…:)