Hunky Husband, during the 13 years when we were apart became a Country & Western music fan. I blame the wild women with whom he kept company; but, it could also have been the influence of our younger daughter, Bogie. One of HH's favorite recordings is Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places".
Well, HH may know the music, but I have the friends!
History: When I retired at the end of April, 2004, I planned to pursue volunteer endeavors. Not only did I wish to have something worthwhile to accomplish, I needed to find some women friends. Having been schooled and employed in settings where the populations were overwhelmingly male, I now had the opportunity to add to my paltry number of women friends. After all, I reasoned, when I wanted to go do something, it would not be seemly to call up a male friend to see if he wanted to join in.
Now: I have learned that, even more-so than was true of the workforce where I was employed, the volunteer workforce is a constantly fluctuating group. Only the employees stick around long enough with whom to build a long-term friendship. Well...that's OK; but, employees tend to need to be at work...and...they tend to be much younger. Thus, the friends that I've made in my nearly 10 years of volunteer work in disaster response are employed and younger and, just as when I was employed, I rarely see them outside work. In addition, all of the employees in the Wichita office are recently hired young people under age 40! To see any of the employed friends I've made while volunteering, I must travel.
Travel: During the month of March, I drove to Kansas City MO, twice, for 2-day meetings at FEMA's regional offices each time. (Yay!) It was wonderful getting to see all of my FEMA and other governmental friends - going out to lunch or chatting during breaks. It was a shot in the arm, for me!
Now we get to low places: You can't get much lower than some of the small towns in the great Midwestern part of the United States. When I was born, five generations of my family lived in/around a small community in Missouri comprising (I'm guessing) 300 souls. The last I checked that town, Milo, it was down to 68 souls.
When Hunky Husband and I moved to Derby KS in 1960, the population was about 7000. Derby is still small (it is now a bit over 23,000); but, it's no longer the case than I know every merchant by name or that all of the city officials recognize HH and me on sight.
Pratt KS is a city, approximately 90 miles WNW of Derby, with a population of just under 7,000 these days. There is one person in that town who is employed by the organization with which I volunteer, and there is a dedicated volunteer who is three months younger than me - 1938 having been a vintage year for the birth of baby women! The three of us get along famously. Every couple of years, I receive a request from Donna, the employee, to come help Ruby, the volunteer, with her computer challenges. I've never felt that Ruby needed the help, but I've always been happy to go spend a few hours with them - which I did Thursday.
I understand what it's like to run a small office that is distant from the parent organization, having "been there, done that" at Tyndall AFB FL in the early 1980s. (I had a handful or so of engineers, there, while my Program Manager was in McLean VA and my Line Manager was in Albuquerque NM.) Thus, I can empathize with Donna that she really, really needs to have an "outsider" off of whom to bounce ideas and obtain updates of information.
In this case, it took about 10 minutes for Ruby to realize that, what she had thought she needed to learn to do (write equations in a spreadsheet using variable values from a different file), she had learned to do on my next previous visit, a couple of years ago. From that point, we were free to exchange ideas/knowledge concerning a new program that Donna has been assigned to run for the organization, covering the states of Kansas and Nebraska and the Southwestern corner of Iowa.
Not only did I get to visit with my friends, but they bought my lunch and gave me posies (photo, below). And there was no one on the streets or in the restaurant or in the "general store" where we stopped to buy a cuppa who didn't call Donna by name - including the driver of the fire truck that was cruising down the street when we came out to get back into my car. (I gave Donna a lesson in driving a push-button car - my 2014 Lincoln MKZ - which she thoroughly enjoyed. Ruby, being a bit more timid, declined the opportunity to drive a strange car. I cannot talk with passengers while driving, so always try to get someone else to do the driving when I'm not alone.)
Prologue: This posting would have been made yesterday had we not had a big wind blow through just after midnight on the 3rd (that is, a few hours after my return from Pratt). HH always watches the weather, so he was smart enough not to put our trash cart out on Thursday night for pickup on Friday morning. Unfortunately, our neighbors were not. Two neighbors in our Home Owners Association are missing their carts - and trash. I, personally, retrieved enough trash from our yard to fill 1/2 of the space in our own trash cart - the trash having come from three identifiable households. There were spotty power outages in the Wichita vicinity, which meant that HH went into the office to help them evaluate the damage and establish a respite center for those who had lost power and needed it to run their medical support equipment.
Last but not only not the least (because - she's the most!): Bogie celebrated a birthday, yesterday. She was enjoying the day when we called her. Enjoy the posies in the photo, Bogie!