Monthly Archives: July, 2012

Day 48: Life’s Little Annoyances

Okay. I admit it. I’m kind of a nut about grammar and word usage.

One of the things I do while at home doing chores is to watch HGTV and I’m sometimes annoyed by imprecise language used by the hosts. Really? Isn’t someone listening and then making these people do a retake of the scene?

The trident kind of looks like this. Image Credit

Today on House Crashers (not my favorite show anyway), the homeowners own a very large trident spear.

I don’t know why; they have weapons and a goat. To each his own.

What really bothers me is that the host keeps calling it a triton.

Yeah — even my spell check doesn’t like that.

Just so we’re clear, Poseidon, the god of the sea, carries a trident. So does his son, Triton.

But I’m pretty sure you already knew this. After all, you read and write. A lot.

I think the moral of this story is that I watch too much television, but I’m willing to put up with a few petty annoyances to keep my brain occupied during mind-numbing ironing.

Why I’m ironing my pillowcases is a story for another day of Retirement 365.

Thanks for listening while I rant. 🙂 And don’t forget to visit my other blog, Got My Reservations.

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Sometimes life’s about the birds.

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Day 38: Making Fun of Myself

Day 35 : Music Hath Charms

People are predicting the death of classical music.

If this flash mob performance tells us anything, it’s that great music is ageless and everlasting.

Enjoy your weekend, and I hope you hear some glorious music yourself.

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Day 33: Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

I’m Jennie and today is my sixtieth birthday.

There. I’ve said it out loud. It’s my diamond jubilee.

To honor my love of all things English, my son had this portrait created for me.

I’m so glad he picked a flattering photo of me to insert into one of my favorite Elizabeth I paintings. It is particularly fitting because Elizabeth was in her sixties when this was painted but the artist painted her as a much younger woman.

Elizabeth I: The Rainbow Portrait, c1600, by Isaac Oliver. This portrait can be viewed at Hatfield House. Oliver was a pupil of Elizabeth’s favorite court painter, Nicholas Hilliard, and the brother-in-law of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Some historians have argued that Gheeraerts painted this portrait, but most favor Oliver.

It has the most elaborate and inventive iconography of any Tudor portrait. Elizabeth’s gown is embroidered with English wildflowers, thus allowing the queen to pose in the guise of Astraea, the virginal heroine of classical literature. Her cloak is decorated with eyes and ears, implying that she sees and hears all. Her headdress is an incredible design decorated lavishly with pearls and rubies and supports her royal crown. The pearls symbolize her virginity; the crown, of course, symbolizes her royalty. Pearls also adorn the transparent veil which hangs over her shoulders. Above her crown is a crescent-shaped jewel which alludes to Cynthia, the goddess of the moon.

A jeweled serpent is entwined along her left arm, and holds from its mouth a heart-shaped ruby. Above its head is a celestial sphere. The serpent symbolizes wisdom; it has captured the ruby, which in turn symbolizes the queen’s heart. In other words, the queen’s passions are controlled by her wisdom. The celestial sphere echoes this theme; it symbolizes wisdom and the queen’s royal command over nature.

Elizabeth’s right hand holds a rainbow with the Latin inscription ‘Non sine sole iris’ (‘No rainbow without the sun’). The rainbow symbolizes peace, and the inscription reminds viewers that only the queen’s wisdom can ensure peace and prosperity.


As my husband said this morning, this is the birthday that makes my retirement possible.

It can’t be all bad to be sixty, can it? I’m off to celebrate my birthday by cleaning my house so that I can entertain my birthday guests. I am a “servantless household” after all, unlike my beloved Elizabeth I (and II, for that matter.)

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Day 29: Reflections on the Gift of a Watermelon Pickle

Did you ever read the poetry book, Reflections on the Gift of a Watermelon Pickle?

It’s a collection of modern verse designed for middle school kids and is often used in classrooms. Its title is derived from an ode to summer, which you can see in its entirety here. Watermelon is used as a symbol of the summer that so quickly passes by us every year.

Its first two lines are speaking to me at the end of my first month of retirement.

During that summer
When unicorns were still possible

It has been a month of unicorn moments — seeing people and places that are new to me, being able to accomplish changes in areas that have been eating at my soul, creating the new normal. The watermelon is still firm and juicy; it’s amazingly sweet and can be devoured in one sitting. After all, I’ve still got a lot of summer ahead of me. At the end of the first month, it still seems like unicorns are possible.

This week not only marks my official retirement, it marks my 60th birthday on July 11.

A friend gave me a birthday card last night for which she shopped very carefully. I have to admit, it was quite jarring to see the big six-oh on a birthday card. I surely never thought I’d be this f-ing old. Like my mother. Like my grandmother. OLDE. My friend urged me to look past the number and read the sentiment, which talks about the future, and creating a new chapter for my life. I agree; that’s important and most days, I’m there. I don’t want to be my mother and certainly not my grandmother in my retirement years. Both were sick and often sick-and-tired of their lives. I don’t intend to be sick and certainly not sick-and-tired.

I can take my summer watermelon and mix it with a little vinegar and some spices and keep the important parts preserved for the future.

My almost manic cleansing of curriculum materials from our home and garage is necessary. It’s like an amputation, so I’m making it quick and clean. I’m not giving myself time to mourn over an educational system that no longer exists and that I no longer want to be a part of. I keep telling myself — and anyone who will listen — that recycling all this paper and emptying hundreds of dollars worth of binders and sheet protectors is only a symbol of who I was as a teacher. It’s all still in my head and a lot of it is still in my computer. If the time comes that I need it, I can recreate it. And it will be better than it was the first time, because I’m better now than I was then, too.

But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

My friend also gave me a Pandora bracelet for my birthday, and once again, she hit the symbolic nail on the head.

I can hardly think of a better way to start my retirement. The bracelet is small and doesn’t take up much space, but each charm that goes on it will celebrate another unicorn moment in my new life. I look forward to the charms that represent my children’s marriages, the births of grandchildren, and travel to new places. The first charm was a tiny Eiffel Tower — so perfect for the “now” me, not the old me.

Unicorns are still possible.

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Day Twenty Seven: Retro Images and Retro Thinking

The idea of being a stay-at-home spouse is kind out of my conceptual wheelhouse.

When I picked up the 1950s wallpaper and housewifely image for this blog, it was a tongue in cheek reference to my upcoming 60th birthday. I was born during the post-war craze to get all the women back in the kitchen where they “belonged.” Thank goodness we decided that how a woman and her family chooses to live life isn’t up to anyone but them. I’m not judging what other wives do nor am I apologizing for what I chose to do with my life.

Still, the gravitational pull toward my home has been pretty strong over the last few years. With the recent deaths of four parents, we’ve got a lot to deal with, both emotionally and financially — and a lot of their stuff to deal with, too. I am relishing being at home and am learning a new normal for me as a wife, mother, and homemaker. So far it’s great!

One of my favorite musical allusions to being a housewife occurs in Little Shop of Horrors. You already know I love satire, and this is one of the best. I hope you have “somewhere that’s green” in your life.

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Day Twenty Six: Mount Library TBR

Starting from the top of my To Be Read Stack:

The Help — somehow I managed to get through this year without seeing the movie. I’ve read the book twice, and I’m pretty excited about sitting down with Music Man sometime this weekend to catch up with pop culture.

A Year of Wonders — I’ve read several of Geraldine Brooks’s novels and loved them. Looking forward to this one.

The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel — Our library has book club books grouped together on a dedicated shelf, and I try to read these prior to our annual book choice meeting in December. This one looks interesting, but I’m a little concerned about the reviews that say it’s easy to figure out the mystery. I hope other plot elements keep me reading.

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island — Linda Greenlaw’s memoir went on my list at the hair salon. It was recommended in one of the tawdry magazines we all read in secret while waiting for our hair to become amazing, and I thought it was interesting that Greenlaw was one of the characters in the movie The Perfect Storm. I love memoirs, so this should be good.

Middlesex — Our book club read this, but I didn’t get around to it for some reason. It’s time.

The Weird Sisters — The reviewers say this book has “voice.” Bring it on.

Sushi for Beginners — Another hair salon choice. We’ll see.

Stay Close — I have read everything Harlan Coben has written, so I grabbed this new entry. Unfortunately, it seems to have bad reviews. It’s a good thing I have lots of other things to read just in case.

Enjoy your holiday and the upcoming weekend. I’ve got lots to do! What do you want to read?

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Day Twenty-Four: Monday, Monday

The Mama and the Papas told me I can’t trust Mondays.

Upon first waking up, Mondays seem innocuous, full of promise and endless hours available for getting things done. Then comes coffee and breakfast, my blogosphere connections, and perhaps a little correspondence and business. If I’m really feeling like a bad girl, I roll back into bed with my book. And yes, I might even fall asleep again for a few minutes. 🙂

Suddenly it’s ten o’clock and I haven’t really done anything.

Today was the day to clear the surfaces and the rest of the floor in my office. I can’t do much more with the sorting and cleaning in the other rooms until my spaces are free to use in the office. I worked steadily from ten to three with a short break for lunch.

Five hours have passed and there’s STILL stuff on most of the surfaces.

I’ve put massive amounts of papers in their appropriate files and I’ve filled another recycling bin today. I even threw away a whole year of Architectural Digests; you know how much that hurt. Yes, I recycled this very magazine.

I absolutely cannot go to bed tonight without finishing this job. I HAVE to wake up tomorrow morning to a fresh start. It’s a good thing I’ll have Tony to keep me company while I work tonight. Insert happy sigh here; I really hate to love Mr. Bourdain, but I just adore his snarky little self.

And just in case you didn’t get the reference to the Mamas and the Papas, here’s your answer.

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