I sat down with my calculator and tried to figure out just how many newspapers have contained my stories since my first reporter's job with the Record Advertiser in 1986.
As far as I can tell, it's 1,213. I can't even fathom the total number of stories in those papers.
I wrote for weekly papers from October 1986 through April 2009. That May, the North County News switched to a monthly format, dropping my story output significantly.
And now, that number will fall even more. I am retiring.
But, I'm not ready to make a clean break. In 2013, I hope to do some freelance writing and continue to introduce North County readers to remarkable local folks.
I have enjoyed each and every character I've interviewed over the years. I realize just how long I've been doing this when adults come up to me and ask if I remember doing a story on them when they were in kindergarten.
Lately, I've been thinking of what life would be without full-time work.
I could plan a vacation without first checking to see how it affects deadlines or production dates. Or I could spend more time with my husband, children and grandchildren without checking emails and phone messages.
I could take my dog for a long hike on a weekday, or I could sit in front of a fire instead of driving to a night meeting.
I've heard so many people comment on what a tight community we have up here in the Hereford Zone. There are many reasons for that closeness, and I believe the North County News has provided some of the glue that binds us together.
I consider myself very lucky to have held such a great job for 26 years. Now it's time for me to figure out what I will do with this thing called free time.