Monthly Archives: October, 2012

Day 145: A Lot of Fun and A Little Knowledge

You may be wondering what happened to me over the last week or so. Life got in my way.

I worked with a family member to book a cruise vacation; because I’m new at this, it took a lot of time and energy. But I learned a lot and am ready to work at my friend’s travel agency for the next week while she vacations in Europe. I’ve been training with her on a regular basis; I don’t feel very “retired.”

I photographed a friend’s glass party. I was scared to death, but it all turned out well. Some of my photos were even good.

We also had a series of social events that just plain wore me out. It’s hell getting old. Going to the Angels Ball to support Rainbow Hospice is always fun, but Music Man and I are both having knee issues. He was a good sport and danced anyway to the amazing band, The Gentlemen of Leisure Band. Awesome music! We played a band concert with the American Wind Band, and I had a solo that was a little nerve-wracking. We celebrated Music Man’s birthday with friends in their home for a lovely surf-and-turf dinner. We also had friends and family in from out-of-town and we went to Saigon Sisters and Kiki’s Bistro for fabulous food and enjoyed visiting. Fun, fun, fun, but by Friday I ran out of steam.

Knowing what happens to me when I’m exhausted (it isn’t pretty, folks), I decided to take a break from the world and I read two books in two days for close to 1000 pages. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s new adult novel (512 pages), was engaging and worth reading, but its teenage “disaffected youth” characters brought me too close to the kind of kids I want to avoid. Rowling is very concerned about disadvantaged youth and it was an integral part of this novel, which is ostensibly about filling a vacancy on a local government council in small-town England. Bring Up the Bodies (432 pages) is the second book in a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s councilor. It’s rare that I read a book where I learn something new about the Tudors, but Hilary Mantel’s research is wide-ranging and she sheds a new light on Cromwell. It was really good for me to take a break; I needed the solitude and quiet to re-energize.

After that mini-break from life,  I’m back on the exercise and eating-right wagon and tomorrow I go to the office full-time again. I know just enough to be dangerous; I’m a little scared of what I could do to Nadya’s computer system. Keep me in your thoughts; I’m hoping that good karma will hold me up while she’s gone.

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Day 137: In search of a pain au chocolat

I wasn’t asking for much — or so I thought.

A yearning for a simple chocolate croissant has emerged on my consciousness like an enormous elephant standing in front of my garage door. It won’t get out of the way.

I just finished reading a surprisingly good book called French Lessons in which French food plays an important part. Obviously when one is learning to speak French, ordering from a menu and choosing items in markets becomes very important. As the reviewers of this book say, the best part of it is Sussman’s vivid descriptions of Paris and I just wanted a pastry. That shouldn’t be so hard to find, should it?

This started last week; I went to my favorite bakery and was absolutely positive they would be able to satisfy my craving. Mais non! They only make pain au chocolat on the weekends.

Today I decided that I was going to find me some chocolate croissant action — I mean, give me a break. How hard can this be?

First I went to Corner Bakery, where I’m absolutely sure I’ve seen chocolate pastries many times. NOPE. Then I figured I would find something at Starbucks. NOPE again.

I was out of time so I caved in and got my second favorite guilty pleasure, a Rice Krispie treat and a lovely dark cup of coffee. Yummy, but not what I was craving.

While I was at it, I decided to try some more food photography practice, so I arranged said treat and the coffee on my lovely fall plates. My photography is getting better — I did this without flash in a fully manual mode. The big white coffee cup didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, though. I’m still learning, but I’m better than I was last week and the week before that.

Retirement is being very good to me, but I am still looking for that chocolate. Any ideas??

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Day 133: Words Not to Live By

Putting aside the “women in binders” awesomeness, this political campaign is just unhealthy for our psyches.

I was reading a post about how to be happier at work which wasn’t really applicable to my little start-up, but this quote caught my eye.

Criticizing has a brother. His name is Preaching. They share the same father: Judging.

If Emeril were reading my thoughts, he’d say “BAM!” three times. I’m criticizing others in my head, I’m preaching about my own opinions to my friends, and I’m judging all the time in the name of politics. None of these behaviors is good for my health or my happiness.

When I retired, I wanted to put aside my anger, resentment, and critical thoughts, but I can’t escape the ads on television and the junk people post on Facebook (and I’m guilty of doing some sharing myself.) Pretty soon I’m going to get deluged with political mail and people will be knocking on my door trying to drum up support for their candidates. I know I could choose escapism by not going on Facebook and not watching television, but that’s not really the point. I know who I think will make the best president and outside pressures are unlikely to change that opinion.

Even writing this post is a form of electioneering and judging — I know I’m being hypocritical.

This election can’t be over soon enough.

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Day 132: Retirement Reading

I’ve been reading up a storm during these first days of retirement.

In fact, I’ve gotten so many books from the library that I sometimes have to take them back and get in the queue again, with Bring Up the Bodies being a good example of this. Thank goodness a blogger announced that Bodies won the Booker Prize, because I rushed to get a copy from the library before the storm began. I’ve also “thought about” reading some classics, and I really do want to read Anna Karenina before the movie comes out. I never actually picked that one up when I got to the top of the library list. 🙂

Geoff Whaley, one of my blogging friends, talked about reading the classics, and this quote from his post really hit home with me.

I find it awesome that I’m reading books and authors who have inspired countless other authors, musicians and artists to create even more literature and art. The number of books I’ve read which have allusions to or direct references to older classics is staggering and the more I read the classics the more often I find these allusions and references or question whether an author/artist did do this.

Last night on Facebook after the debates, another friend quoted the line from The American President, where Michael Douglas tells Richard Dreyfus, “I AM the president”, which is one of the best movie lines of all time. I worry about the future of classic books and movies — will people “get” literature and film fully without understanding the allusions? I saw this in my classroom; many times I would quote a line from a movie or a book and the kids would look at me with blank stares. They had no idea what I (or the author we were studying) was referring to. It made me feel old, but it also made me sad for them. Do you remember this scene?

Am I the only one who cares about this?

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Day 130: How Old Is Old Enough?

I kinda want to go on a Mississippi River Cruise on a paddlewheel steamboat. How many days do I have to be retired to get away with this?

This cruise with Big Bands sounds like a lot of fun…

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Day 129: Question of the Week

This is the perfect saying for the week, courtesy of Pillows A La Mode.

Day 127: The Bare Refrigerator

My refrigerator is bare — it’s a good example of the meaning of the word barren.

I’ve been so busy burning the retirement candle at both ends for the last couple of weeks that I haven’t had the time or, quite frankly, the motivation to go grocery shopping. The top shelf is full of condiments and the door is full of salad dressing, but there’s nothing to put them on. There’s some floppy broccoli that’s going to have to turn into quiche or something. And I discovered this morning that there aren’t any eggs in the house. I can’t remember when that has ever happened. We ALWAYS have eggs.

Since I usually choose to take the positive side of stories, I’m going to look at my vast wasteland of a refrigerator as an opportunity to clean it.

And after that I’m going to clean my socks drawer. 🙂

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Day 126: Chomping at the Bit

I came home from our glorious weekend taking trains to Greenfield Village with just one thing in mind.

I have to figure out a way to stop carrying around my sleep apnea machine. I was determined to use my smaller carry-on suitcase on the train, but still take three pairs of shoes, my baby computer, my full camera bag, and my CPAP. Oh, and I needed clothing, too. It was almost an epic fail.

As you can see from this photo, the CPAP bag takes up half the suitcase, and the baby computer is tucked away between clothing packing bags. I carried the camera in my tote bag. If we were traveling by air, I wouldn’t be able to put the CPAP machine in the checked bag because it has to be hand scanned by TSA.  In order to get by with just one suitcase and one carry-on, then I would have to trust my camera bag to the airport baggage people. It’s not the fanciest camera in the world, but it’s my baby, and I don’t want to “lose it” in baggage hell.

I have been researching the use of dental appliances for sleep apnea. Remember when you had to wear a retainer for straightening your teeth? This is the grown-up version of a retainer — it forces your chin forward to clear the airway. I even went to see a doctor who charges $3500 up front for the privilege of making me an instrument of torture and somehow wasn’t able to get it approved by my insurance companies. After that, I was so disappointed I gave up on the idea.

But after this weekend, I’m back on the track. I’m determined to fix this problem before the next trip so that I don’t have to carry this enormous machine around with me. It has to be better to use the dental appliance. I got a referral from a friend for a doctor that seems to be more interested in my business.

All I have to figure out now is whether I’m going to the Lincoln Avenue location (more fun) or the Westmont location (probably easier to drive to). Wish me luck.

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Day 121: Saturday Share

Day 119: A Senior Moment

Yesterday I was working in the kitchen preparing supper when I realized that I didn’t need to wait to watch Dancing With the Stars on my DVR. I had what I needed right in front of me — my cable box with On Demand TV Entertainment.

There it was in all its sequiney spandexey glory — right on my countertop! Although I don’t have an On Demand button on my remote, if I plug in channel 01, it’s all there waiting for me. This means that we can watch Bones and Castle right at our kitchen island, and I can watch New Girl, Private Practice, and Grey’s Anatomy while I cook. We might even be able to watch Inside the NFL, but I haven’t checked to see if that’s available On Demand. 🙂

I’ve had cable for HOW MANY YEARS? Why has this not occurred to me? Frankly, it reminds me of the book I read this year called No, I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club. In it the newly retired heroine has what she calls CRAFT moments — can’t remember a f**king thing.

Perhaps that’s my problem.

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