Author Archive: Jennie

Day 236: Facebooking and Dreaming

I’ve decided that since Facebook isn’t actually showing my posts anymore – one has to click at least twice to dig down through the menus —  I’m going to make my pithy remarks here. After all, you guys are the only ones actually reading this blog and I love you for it.

Life in general is wonderful, and I’m not sure that’s entirely due to the anti-anxiety herbs my chiro is giving me for my freeway claustrophobia. Every day away from the June day on which I freed myself from anger and frustration is another day of happiness. Sometimes I wish I were more regretful about leaving teaching, but then I have to slap myself into a reality check.

One of the things that is wonderful but also scary is that I’m dreaming again. For some reason, my Darth Vader CPAP mask keeps me from remembering my dreams. I just wake up refreshed with deep indents on my face where the straps were, and that’s a small price to pay for a good night’s sleep. The experts say that remembering dreams is a sign of good sleep, but I know I sleep very soundly with the CPAP.

Now I’m trying out the dental appliance, and I can remember my dreams. The first night I wore the appliance, I had a nightmare and woke up screaming that someone was breaking into the house. I will assume that was claustrophobia-driven, since I had this alien thing in my mouth. Recently, I’ve had dreams about wedding showers and being in a movie, which is not surprising since I’ve got my son’s wedding coming up and have been trying to see the Academy Award nominated movies. Growing up, I had a recurring nightmare about being followed that I recently had again. I’m not sure that I like having these dreams — I’ve gotten used to not having them. It will be interesting when I have the sleep study in March with the appliance and find out how many sleep disturbances I actually have.

I hope that you are also following the trajectory of Got My Reservations. I’ve been trying out new ideas to see what people really want to read. It’s fun and makes my brain work, which is good for me at my advanced age. 🙂

Day 223: A Blast from My Teaching Past

The Pillsbury Doughboy died last Friday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 51.

Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough, two children, John Dough and Jane Dough, who has a bun in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. The ceremonies were leavened with lighthearted reminiscences. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, Melba Toast, The California Raisins, Betty Crocker, and Captain Crunch. Sadly, The Hostess Twinkies were unable to attend as they recently bit the dust themselves. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes.

Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was considered a roll model for millions.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes on Tuesday.

I found this lesson in idioms in my paperwork, and thought it should have one more airing before being confined to the recycle bin. I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Day 221: Fashion Rant of the Day

On Friday I went to Costco and was so horrified by what I saw that I decided to write about it.

What, you are asking, could horrify me so?

Pleggings. OMG.

If I saw one more flabby ass in skin-tight leggings and a short shirt, I was going to have to slap the stupid woman wearing them. In other words, leggings worn as pants are NEVER acceptable in public. Even this picture of the stunning Olivia Wilde tells you that they look bad. And trust me, none of us look like Olivia Wilde — not even in our wildest dreams.

Let’s get one thing clear: if you are older than five, you are too old to wear leggings as pants.  I can’t tell you how many middle-school girls wore skin-tight pleggings to school with short shirts that didn’t cover their butt or their hoo-has. Really? Is that what their mothers and fathers wanted the middle school boys to think about all day?

I don’t hate leggings. Even I have leggings that I wear with long tunic tops and short sweater dresses. They are comfortable and appropriate for a mature woman if worn with a suitable tunic top. Apparently women wear them in France with tunics, so they must still be fashionable as well.

So ladies, get a grip. Grown-ups do not wear pleggings. Don’t let your daughters wear pleggings. End of story. And don’t even talk to me about meggings. Surely this is someone’s idea of a cruel joke.

Day 216: Which Way Is Up?

There’s a lot going on at The Farm these days.

I’ve been following a Weight Watchers’ regimen for 14 days and I’ve lost six pounds, give or take a couple of ounces. Yay me! I’ve found that banning the idea of “cheating” and replacing it with “choice” has possibly been a turning point for me. If I decide — make the choice — to eat something with lots of points, I have to make up for it somewhere else. It’s as simple as that, and it’s working for me. Yay me, again.

Just when I thought I’d established a workout routine that would work for me, I lost Cooking Channel at my gym. There is a wonderful program on at 11:30 C called French Food at Home with Laura Calder that I really liked. I would stake out the reclining bike and happily pedal for 30 minutes while charming Laura made something beautiful. I don’t get the Cooking Channel at home, but that’s not really the point. This program made the 11:30 time slot at the gym a destination for me and I’m bummed. I’m going to have to pursue this tomorrow with the guys at the front desk…

Mount ToBeRead

Mount ToBeRead

I’ve been reworking some things on my blog and taking advantage of the built-in programming in Goodreads rather than reinventing the wheel in WordPress. My Mt. TBR is getting higher and higher, though. 🙂

IMG_1107We’re also getting ready for Big Band Sunday, Music Man’s annual tour de force at our church. He gathers together a group of rockin’ musicians and we play the entire worship service “big band style” — and I have to admit it’s the highlight of my church year. This year, we’ll swing for God on February 10, 2013 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Mt. Prospect. Come and join us!

Day 211: New Year’s Resolutions

I resolve to shower and dress before I go downstairs. 2012 found me in my pajamas at 4:00 in the afternoon too many days.

I resolve to wait to weigh myself until I’ve had my moment with the porcelain bowl. It makes a difference in my weight loss charting but might have been TMI to share here. I promised you honesty, though.

I resolve to use Goodreads with intention and actually write reviews. Usually I’m too eager to start the next book to take time to review the one I just finished. You can find me using the name GotMyReservations if you’re interested in what I’m reading and writing.

Seriously, folks, there are some resolutions out there on my horizon, but they’re not much different from when I started writing about retirement in June. I’m serious about weight loss and getting healthier and have two goal timelines — the trip to France in April and the wedding of my son in September. I’m still sorting and purging our stuff, even though at this point it seems as though it will take more than a year to even make a dent. On the other side of the ledger are my growth as a photographer and a writer. I’m really pleased with the changes I’ve made to Got My Reservations and the direction I’m taking with it — I hope that you are following Reservations along with Retirement 365.

I’ll leave you with a January 1 photo taken at Dawes Park in Evanston. I love the contrast between the light and dark in this photo. Happy New Year!

IMG_6432 Copyright

Day 191: The Little Black Coat

I have needed a new all-purpose black coat for several years. There was this top-stitching that came loose a while back and it wasn’t really fixable because of the lining. I had to put a key ring on the zipper pull because the original pull disappeared years ago. Unfortunately, I hated to get rid of the coat because it was impermeable to rain, had a hood and zippered pockets, and the princess seaming and front zipper were relatively flattering. I wore it to death over the last ten years.

That’s right, it’s been ten years. I realized that I bought the coat for my first trip to Europe in 2003. We went to Austria over Spring Break and it was cold. And rainy. I layered the snot out of that coat and it just kept going — for ten more years.

When I was telling a friend about my beloved coat, I actually started looking carefully at it. I discovered that those lovely princess seams were all raveled on my right side — why only the right side, I don’t know. The loose top-stitching was worse and had become even more noticeable. We are going to California where it is spring in the winter with possible rain, and then to France in April when it is sure to rain. April in Paris, remember? It became glaringly obvious that I needed a new coat.

Check out this blogger's lovely description of Paris here.

Check out this blogger’s lovely description of Paris here.

Off I went to Burlington Coat Factory. They usually have coats in my size and I lucked out again. My new coat ticks all of my boxes — water-repellent, full length zipper, princess seaming, zippered pockets, and hood. And I bought it in a smaller size. Eureka.

It was kind of hard to throw away the old jacket. It’s got history and a lot of traveling under its belt. Here’s hoping that my new coat will bring ten more years of bucket list travel and fun!

Day 189: Sacrificing My Principles for Christmas

Recently, I posted a link on my Facebook page in which David Green, owner of the Hobby Lobby stores, explained his position on his lawsuit against Obamacare – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As expected, I received many positive and negative comments regarding a secular, for-profit business’s right to provide health care benefits based on the religious principles of the owners. We had a lively discussion.

In his open letter (see the letter and news clip here), Green says that federal health care mandates that his “family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance” which Hobby Lobby has not previously paid for in its self-funded insurance program. Hobby Lobby faces significant fines starting on January 1, 2013, if it does not comply with the contraception and abortion elements contained in PPACA.

While I’m not here to debate the bill itself,  or even to spend much time fighting about a private business’s right to discriminate against its employees because of the owners’ religious principles, Mr. Green’s position does bring me to today’s question of ethics. I would very much like to boycott Hobby Lobby for its owners’ stance on certain kinds of contraception and abortion for its employees, yet I found myself in the awkward position of having nowhere else to buy the bread bags we use for our Christmas baking every year.

IMG_3537

Over the years we have tried many different options, but found the over-sized bags at Hobby Lobby to be just right for our banana bread on steroids. Image my disappointment when, after driving all over town yesterday, I had to go back to Hobby Lobby to get the bags.

So — today’s question remains. The Hobby Lobby issue is currently percolating up in my social conscience, but I’m sure if I were to research other stores’ ethical practices, there wouldn’t be a single place I could shop. At least Hobby Lobby’s Green family HAS ethics, even if they don’t match up with my own sense of the word. We all make tiny sacrifices every day, and sometimes make larger ones that eat away at our soul. While not buying thirteen dollars worth of bread bags won’t do much to break David Green’s $3 billion business, it did break my spirit just a little to have to give him even that much.

Between now and next Christmas, I’ll be researching where we can buy our Kraft Sacks without going to Hobby Lobby. Or maybe I’ll be able to shop at Hobby Lobby again when David Green is forced to comply with the civil rights laws of the United States. I certainly hope so.

Day 188: 12 and 12 and 12

12/12/12. Where was I on this auspicious date at 12:12 pm?

Where any self-respecting Christmas shopper would be. At Woodfield Mall. Waiting in line. Trying to avoid impulse buying while waiting in line.

And hoping to avoid looking like this.

IMG_3536[1]The good news is that I have almost all of my shopping done. I even found the perfect thing for the impossible-to-buy-for people on my list.

Between that and getting to sing “And He Shall Purify” on Sunday at church, I’m a happy camper. This version, at warp speed and in Korean, is pretty much the coolest Handel I’ve ever seen. Enjoy!

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!