Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Day 85: Ten Things…

When one retires, the most common question is, “What are you going to do with all that extra time?”

What is this extra time of which you are speaking? I haven’t found any so far.

Well, maybe a little.

Ten things that retirement meant to me this week  …

  1. I can go to the doctor during the day. Amazing.
  2. I can hem the pants that have been sitting in my sewing corner for two years.
  3. I can go to the outlet stores mid-day on a weekday.
  4. I can shop every other day for organic produce.
  5. I can do the laundry on a weekday — (thanks, Debbie K.,  for that realization)
  6. I don’t have to have enough clothes in my closet to last for two weeks (or more) in case I don’t get around to laundry.
  7. I can be a tourist with friends and family who visit on a weekday — I’m really looking forward to my brother and his wife coming for the Christmas in Chicago road trip!
  8. I can learn quilting techniques and tricks that have emerged in the last twenty-five years since I actually made a full-out quilt.
  9. I know you’ll hate me for this one, but I can sleep in when I want to — no more 5:15 AM wake ups.
  10. I don’t have crazy stories to tell about school — I can listen to my husband’s stories with my full attention.

And one thing more… 

  • I can dye my hair a new color on a weekday and no snarky teenager will comment on it. Sweet.

Have a wonderful weekend. Even though I love weekdays now, I still love my weekends just like I always did.

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Day 83: In My Little Town — Katie’s Kitchen

I love diner breakfast.

Image Credit

It’s a fact that I cannot deny. Omelettes smothered in cheese and veggies. Crispy hash browns with the soft center. The bottomless cup of coffee. Yum and yum and yum again.

Being retired makes diner breakfasts with friends on weekdays a new possibility in my life and I’m taking advantage of it.

Options are endless in my area to celebrate diner breakfast and I visit them all.

I have breakfast in Buffalo Grove at The Buffalo with Michele — it’s halfway in between our houses, and we’ve been having Saturday gab fests there for years. Now that I’m retired and she teaches college students on the late shift, we can have breakfast during the week. Yay!

A local institution is the Egg Harbor Cafe, which I have described as my happy place. It’s fun to meet up with Melinda at Egg Harbor and catch up on our lives. Part of a regional chain, I know that I will have lots of choices at Egg Harbor.

There’s Mrs. V’s Restaurant in Des Plaines, which is a classic neighborhood diner with an extensive menu of lovely fried food.

Which brings us to my current favorite place to enjoy diner breakfast, Katie’s Kitchen in Des Plaines.

A quick strafe down Central takes me to this unassuming restaurant in a strip mall. You would never know from the street view or even from the classic diner decor what is in store for you when you choose your breakfast.

I have had the good fortune to have breakfast twice at Katie’s Kitchen — the first time was apparently a CRAFT * moment.

I went to Katie’s last week to meet friends for breakfast, but I got my date wrong. I was a week early. Not being a person who passes up an opportunity to have diner breakfast, I ordered anyway and ate by myself. I had the Midwest Egg White Scrambler with smoked salmon, onions, capers, tomatoes, and cream cheese for $9.99 and it was delicious. As you can see, the order included toast, fruit cup, and a corn relish.

On the RIGHT day, I met up with my friends for another round of diner breakfast.

Debbie W. had Katie’s specialty, the Sunrise Baked Oatmeal topped with dark sweet cherries, bananas, molasses, macadamia nuts baked with a cinnamon cobbler mix.

Debbie K. ordered blueberry pancakes with a strawberry and blueberry topping.

Since I just started a somewhat restricted diet, I went with a veggie omelette and fruit cup. I have to say, although I was very virtuous, my omelette would have benefitted from a little cheese. But that’s just me.

Katie’s Kitchen is also open on Friday evenings and has a BYOB policy. If you look at the menu, you’ll see that it’s typical diner food, but if it’s as good as the morning offerings, it’s certainly worth a try.

And just so you are clear, Katie does not serve baked oatmeal in the evenings. 🙂

* Can’t Remember a F %&# ing Thing (you insert the middle letters as you wish)

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Day 81: Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Music Man asked me yesterday if I was still writing Retirement 365.

Indignantly, I gave him a long story — and you know how I tell long stories — about the difficulties I’m having going back and forth between two blogs. I will spare you the details, but that’s why I don’t always write faithfully on either blog.

But what is faithful blogging?

I have a friend who wrote faithfully once a week in a travel blog and very few people commented on it. Blogging is a two-way street, and she and a few friends were the only ones driving. She became frustrated and has been trying to find other alternatives to promote her travel services and her book. But I miss her wonderful, in-depth posts and recommendations about places that I’ll visit someday. I can understand her frustration, though. When I put my soul out there for the world to see, I am desperately hoping that I’ll make a connection with someone else who is sharing my emotion.

It’s a trade-off between writing to be read and writing for writing.

I think I used to write because it was a personal outlet for me to escape from the shackles of teaching eighth graders. There was a certain inner triumph in knowing that although my students did not appear to be listening to or applying much that I taught, I was a different person online. In my blogging life I  kind of felt like Sally Field — “you like me, you really like me” — instead of knowing that I was perceived to be the grammar nazi in my classroom. I was writing to save my soul.

But for what and for whom am I writing now?

When I created Retirement 365, I thought there might be a book in it. I know that’s probably a crazy notion, but it’s a really good thing to say when people are scratching their heads over why someone would retire from teaching. But I’m pretty sure that there’s no book about retirement in me; maybe there’s another book, but I think the retirement card is being played pretty well by others.

When you signed up for Retirement 365, what did you expect to find? What do you want to know? Are you, like me, looking for meaningful ways to structure your retirement? Are you looking for a more mature blogging voice that doesn’t revolve around home-schooling and tantrum-throwing? Are you looking for recipes? My son says that I need to target my audience better if I want my blog to grow. I’d really like to know who you are and why you are visiting my blog… 🙂

 And now for the rest of the quarterbacking about last week …

As I started to write about all of the things I learned and got accomplished last week, it occurred to me that I really should be writing about these as they happen. That was what I thought I’d be doing when I started Retirement 365 — chronicling the first year of my retirement.

So I’m expunging  last week from this post — oh, the glory of the “highlight, copy, paste” commands — and I’m going to start Retirement 365 again.

I hope that you’ll first give me some feedback and then stay with me. I appreciate the time you take to read my self-indulgent reflections.

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Day 75: In My Little Town — Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns

Retirement gives one the opportunity to discover and rediscover one’s surroundings, and I’m already taking advantage of that.

I live in a Chicago suburb of approximately 75,000 people. It’s not really a little town; it’s a large city with a downtown, malls, two train stations, a racetrack, and lots and lots of residences. In the big picture that is Chicagoland, though, it is kind of a little town.

I’ve started taking walks and popping into stores, greeting the shopkeepers, and generally getting to know what’s up in the Heights.

It was pretty embarrassing to walk into this cute yarn shop that I’ve never even seen and find out they’ve been open for three years. And I call myself a knitter. The shop is spacious and has room for classes and hanging out.

You may remember that I have several quilts to finish and a knitted baby blanket that’s almost done. So I’m putting Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns on my radar for this winter. Maybe I’ll take a class.

Anyone want to join me?

Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns

218 West Campbell St.

Arlington Heights, IL 60005                 


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Day 67: The Real Beginning

Normally on this day in August I would be getting ready to go to school to crack open those boxes and put up my posters.

Instead, I’m at home, trying to figure out what my new life is going to look like.

It’s a scary thought. I could easily become the person who stays in her pajamas until 4:30 pm, hurriedly taking a shower before the hubby gets home. The person who has spent the entire day on the computer, the person in front of the television watching recorded programs, the person reading an entire book in one day.

Wait! I already am that person.

But I have to be someone else now. My work is now at home. I no longer have to commute further than from one room to another in my house, but I still need to structure my days to maintain my sanity.

I did emerge from teaching with my sanity intact.

In fact, I might even go so far as to say I emerged from teaching and regained my sanity. No more ridiculous parents blaming me for their child’s poor grades. No more spending my weekends grading papers that students don’t even look at. No more dealing with administrators who play favorites and pretend that their top-down decisions are generated by teachers. I’m pretty excited about listening to my friends complain while not having to experience it myself. Sorry, kids.

So I’m making a list and sticking to it today.

Weigh-in — check. Healthy breakfast — check. Social media limited to one hour in the morning — check. Dinner started in the crock pot — check. I still need to visit my chiropractor, exercise, and then start working on a baby quilt.

I also have to return my new glasses which don’t seem to have the correct lenses in them. I’m afraid that’s going to be a nightmare and I wish I could stop today’s list with the baby quilt. It’s really pink and cute.

One day at a time. My new normal.

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Day 62: Retirement Benefits

Normally at this time in August, I’m feeling pretty stressed about going back to school. This year feels like summer with benefits.

So far this has been a pretty normal summer, with all the fabulous Chicago activities, the family reunion, travel to California, and delicious evenings of music at Ravinia. Next week will start my real “retirement” — when my teacher friends all start making their way back into their classrooms to set up for school. It’s going to feel very different from how this summer has felt. I’ve already booked a lunch and a photography outing with a friend next week. This would not have been a possibility for the last twenty years.

I love going out for breakfast, and I plan to do this often during retirement.

Yesterday I had a celebratory breakfast with a friend who retired at an even earlier age than I did. She brought me two gag gifts, these decision dice and a “grow your retirement account” pig that expands when one puts it in water. I love the concept of being able to decide what to do based on the throw of a pair of dice. Nap? Put something off until later? Sounds good to me.

I also love that I’m able to pursue something interesting without stressing about “wasting” time.

While at the dry cleaner’s, I saw that there was a mattress store next door, one that I’d never even noticed. I’ve been wondering about memory foam mattresses, so I stopped in. The owner was lonely and garrulous; he talked my arm off about the pros and cons of sleeping on foam. I thought it was interesting enough to share here…

  1. Memory foam is not green. It is indestructible and will never break down in a landfill.
  2. Memory foam initially feels cool to the skin, but will build up heat after about 45 minutes. One must vent the mattress appropriately, and using fitted sheets just escalates the problem.
  3. To combat the heat problem, in the last six months manufacturers have added gel capsules to the foam mix to cool it down.
  4. One of the major complaints of memory foam mattresses is that it’s hard to have sex on them because one cannot easily slide around.

I’m kind of sad about the heat build-up issue because the mattress actually felt wonderful when I laid on it. It really supported my back well. And then there’s that pesky problem with sliding about…

See? Aren’t you glad I’m retired so that I can save you the trouble of buying a memory foam mattress? I might like this pillow, though.

Now I need to throw the dice to decide what to do next.

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Day 60: Playing with My Photos

A little Lomo here, a little Vignetting there…

Life in the Barn

Day 58: Summer Staycation Continues

Many friends have told me that I will be busier in retirement than I ever was while teaching.

I’m not sure that’s possible, but I already know after two months that I’m going to be busy doing things that I WANT to do, and not as many as I don’t want to do. That’s progress.

In the last ten days, I have been very busy being “retired.” You can judge for yourself.

I sat with a friend who was in the hospital and took photos of her flowers, playing with some of the new camera apps I’ve downloaded to my iPhone.

I went to the bakery and bought a beautiful loaf of multi-grain bread, which we devoured; it was going to spoil quickly anyway, right? While there, I couldn’t help taking photos of these delicious desserts.

I know this is out of focus, but the little dessert dishes were so cute, I had to include them.

We went to Ravinia Festival twice over three days, and as usual, I got some interesting photos.

I was intrigued by the guy on the right who managed to put all of his picnic stuff into one very large duffel bag on wheels. No Griswold-style Ravinia entry for them!

I cut up masses of watermelon for the birthday girl.

Ravinia and the Adler Planetarium partnered up to have a jumbo-tron viewing of a movie made to go along with Gustav Holst’s The Planets. As one of my friends said, “Genius!”

There’s nothing quite like an outdoor concert where one pays ten dollars to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and gets the screaming cicadas for free.

If this is what being too busy in retirement means, I don’t want to be less busy. So far, I’m having a fabulous time.

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