Monthly Archives: November, 2012

Day 166: Conferences — NOT!

If I were not retired, I would be participating in the marathon of conferences right now.

But I am retired and I’m responsible for no one but myself, so I guess it’s time for my retirement conference.

The first thing I said I was going to do was to build the Retirement 365 blog format. Check! I like the retro housewife theme and have gotten good reactions to it. A friend even gave me matching pot holders!

I said I was going to cook more thoughtfully. Check! With the exception of the two-ish weeks I spent being a full-time travel agent, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking at home and cooking a lot more carefully. I’ve worked with portion size and how to cook for just the two of us in our empty nest — I only want one meal of leftovers from anything I cook.

I said I was going to get rid of stuff. I can only give myself a C on this one, because although I’ve gotten rid of masses of stuff already, I still have masses to go. Yet, in school we rewarded progress toward a goal and individual achievement, so maybe I get more than a C on this one.

I said I was going to learn how to use my new DSLR camera. Check! I’ve made great progress toward understanding and using the manual settings of my camera. I’ve got a ways to go, but I even have one of my photos published on a friend’s web page and I photographed her recent glass show. I joined the local camera club and even submitted four of my photos for critique by the club.I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, and look forward to learning a lot more.

I said I was going to get healthy, and I’ve been going faithfully to strength training twice a week and have had good success with the chiropractic care of my neck and lower back problems. Check! Next stop, more weight loss.

Although not in my goals, I have spent the last month revamping my main blog, Got My Reservations. If you have not signed up to follow me there, please do. I control everything on the blog — it’s self-hosted — so I don’t have the support of WordPress to send me new followers. Please visit me; it’s kind of sad that no one even knows it’s there and I can tell that through my addiction to watching my statistics. 🙂

There are a lot more goals buried in the fifty-nine posts over the last 166 days, but these are the beginnings of my new normal. Since my mom and dad aren’t around for me to show them my portfolio, I’m showing you.

I appreciate your love and support as I figure out who the new me is.

Day 161: Defrumping My Fashion

Men, this is pretty much a post for the girls.

I recently discovered a blogger who writes as Fifty, Not Frumpy. Her posts about dressing one’s age are to the point and relevant to my first year of retirement. As I go through my clothing it’s important to have a point of reference. I’m pretty sure I will NEVER wear a skirted suit again, but since I never met a shiny thing I didn’t like, it’s hard to get rid of the beaded evening wear. And do I have to?

That being said, this understated but gorgeous collection would be easy to put together; you probably have most of it in your closet already.

Holiday Party

Susan at Fifty Not Frumpy uses Polyvore to create beautiful ensembles. If you have not tried Polyvore, it’s worth a retirement afternoon. Susan also has opinions about what to leave to our younger friends and relatives to wear.

Not a good look for us forty + gals.

See you at the party!

Day 154 : Tablescape Envy

I admit it. I have tablescape envy.

I spent the entire morning going through a linky party from Between Naps on the Porch, looking at beautiful Thanksgiving-themed tablescapes. Did you know there’s a whole blogging world out there filled with people who set their tables just for fun? Once again, I’ve been living under a rock, since I didn’t know this world existed — except in my own dish-room addicted heart.

I needed to share all this bounty.

Instead of just drooling over the photos myself, I decided to share them on my Pinterest board. I’m hoping that you can see them. While reading all these blogs, I learned some lessons about layering textures and using shiny things to add interest. Since I never met a shiny thing I didn’t like, I should be able to find a “few” items in my house to jazz up my own tablescapes.

There were a few misses among the tabletop hits. While the setting is beautiful in every other way, these white pumpkins on the column-like candlesticks are a bit much.

Hard on the heels of the tablescape linky email came another one from Apartment Therapy. It says that some people have given up entertaining because people don’t RSVP anymore. We’ve experienced this in our little book club; people don’t RSVP for a Monday night dinner until Sunday or even on Monday during the day. This just makes me so mad — when is the host supposed to shop if you don’t respond until Monday?

Despite rude people, I still love to get out my dishes, set a beautiful table, and even cook a nice meal for friends and family. I also hope they will invite me back and show me what they’ve got hidden away in their dish room. 🙂

P.S. I’d be the first one to say yes! if I got invited to this Mad Men party — as long it’s 2012-style with no smoking. 🙂

Day 152: Redundabundance

Dr. Internet has finally figured out what’s the matter with me. I have Redundabundance Disease.

Thanks to my blogging friend Leslie, who says that she also has this disease, I have been able to correctly diagnose what’s the matter with me and why I can’t get my house in order.

Redundabundance
NOUN.
1. Disease of excess, caused by repetitious acquisition; the continual desire and ability to obtain more and more of what one already has too much of.
2. Cause: affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more
3. Cure: reduction in possessions.

I followed Leslie’s 31 Days of Home Staging posts during October and it quickly became very clear that I was not crazy when I said it would take five years of retirement for me to get our house to the point where we could actually sell it. According to Leslie, who is a professional home stager, data shows that a staged home sells much faster than a non-staged home. She calls this the Pottery Barn/Timeshare mentality; a prospective buyer should encounter a simplified and neutral decor similar to what you find in a Pottery Barn catalog. Let’s just say that our house represents the opposite of this concept and leave it at that.

Leslie also hit our personal problematic nail right on the head. It doesn’t do us any good to just keep moving stuff around and buying more and more storage bins and shelving units. We need to get rid of it, not store it. The fact that we have hobbies is our usual excuse for keeping stuff, and I do have some hope that someday I’ll make that Christmas quilt and those pieces of jewelry. But those items don’t take up our entire crawl space.

Last night we had book club at a beautifully decorated home. Our hostess says that she loves decorating for the holidays and has many bins of decorations that she uses. Her rationale is simple; a house that is always ready for company is a happy home. This was her mother’s credo and it has become hers. Her house is always ready for company and I’d like mine to be that way, too.

Between now and Christmas I have six weeks to be ruthless. I need to go through my house and purge, especially the two spare rooms. While it’s not yet time to Pottery Barn-ize my house, it is time to get it ready for company.

Merry Christmas, darlings.

Day 147: A Book Riot

The list I’ve been waiting for arrived on my Facebook page today. 

One of the most important goals of retirement living was supposed to be to give myself time for reading. When Book Riot posted their poll on Facebook, I was quick to vote for my fave five. Happily, they are all here, plus some others I had totally forgotten about. I’m going to group them in order to make them easier to discuss. I’ve denoted in red the ones I have not read. That does not mean I liked all the other ones; some of them I read under duress. 🙂 So let’s get started…

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (126 votes)

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

4. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Of these five fabulous classics, I vote for The Great Gatsby. While I love J.K. Rowling and what she’s done for a whole generation of young readers, I’m not sure that I would put Harry Potter in the same grouping as these other four amazing classics. And, although I love, love, love Mockingbird, I question whether this poll is heavily weighted on the side of younger people for whom Atticus Finch was a life-changing character.

6. The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I tried to like Tolkien; I really did. He’s just not my cup of fantasy tea. In this section is my personal number one, Gone With the Wind, but I don’t think I’ve never read Catcher in the Rye. How did that happen? Just in case you didn’t catch it, GWTW allusions are so ubiquitous that Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy used Scarlett’s red dress, Rhett’s cravat, and the escape-from-burning-Atlanta wagon on Dancing With the Stars.

11. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

14. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

15. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Okay, now we’re getting down to cult classics. Marquez I like, but I’ve never even heard of The Secret History. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock for the last eight years, as it is a highly regarded “modern classic.” I’m putting it on my TBR list.

16. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

17. The Stand by Stephen King

18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

19. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

20. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

This group has some great authors, but given that I’m currently working through Anna Karenina and eagerly awaiting the November 16 release of the movie starring Keira Knightley, I’ll give Tolstoy the nod here. I’m also putting Infinite Jest on my TBR list.

21. Persuasion by Jane Austen

22. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

23. The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

24. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

25. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

To put these authors together in a group is kind of laughable, especially comparing Diana Gabaldon to Dostoevsky. That being said, I devoured all of the Outlander books with a spectacular guilty pleasure!

26. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

29. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

30. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

While I haven’t read all of this section, I have to give props to my literary hero, Ray Bradbury. He knew where our society was heading when he wrote F451 in 1953. If you have not read F451, it should be on your Must Read list. But then, so should Persuasion.

31. 1984 by George Orwell

32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

34. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

35. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I did pretty well in this section. Obviously, Little Women was one of my five votes; I’ve loved Louisa May Alcott since I was a child. I still shudder to think of the graduate class on American Renaissance authors in which I was forced to read Moby Dick. Thank goodness, Melville was punctuated by Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne who made me fall in love with this time period of American literature.

36. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

37. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

38. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

39. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

40. Ulysses by James Joyce

This is another interesting group to compare. Considering that I have a complete set of du Maurier’s novels with their original bookjackets still on them, you probably know what my choice would be here. But how does one compare Douglas Adams to James Joyce, or to Nabokov, for that matter? It’s all a matter of taste and interest level.

41. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

42. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

43. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

44. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

45. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Considering that I’ve only read two of these, I don’t know how to rate them, but Middlesex was one of the more interesting books I’ve read in a while. I know, I know; I have to read the two that are currently out in the movie theaters.

46. Dune by Frank Herbert

47. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

48. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

50. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (13 votes)

And that brings me to the last group. Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 and is historical fiction in the same ilk as Les Miserables, although it’s set during a different war. The Poisonwood Bible is also an epic novel with a complex plot. The other two are both mystical even though they were written many years apart and each is an extraordinary book in its own right. My final vote is for Les Mis and I’ve included the movie poster just in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know that there’s a blockbuster movie coming out on Christmas Day in the United States.

Now it’s your turn. What are your top five novels? Did the Book Riot readers get it right?

P.S. I still love every little thing Jane Austen ever wrote. 🙂