Category Archives: Blogging

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 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 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 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 114: What Am I Thinking?

I just posted a link on Got My Reservations that commits me to posting every day in October. Apparently, I should be committed.

Yet I’m hopeful about this project. I have a lot of material in my photo archives to use and I’m working at making my posts shorter, although you’d never know it from the Sunday Review posts or the self-examination posts I’ve been doing here at Retirement 365.

Short and sweet. That’s my motto for October. I’ll hope you’ll join me this month on the “other side.”

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 Thirteen: The Aftermath of the Gardening Apocalypse

As several of you commented, yesterday’s plan was quite ambitious, even if I wasn’t doing the majority of the work. I’m going to contact the landscaping company and tell them what good work Hugo and his crew did in the high 90s heat.

My garden had a serious intervention — it’s almost scary to think how much brush and weeds were carted away — but I know those poor bare stems will start branching out quickly. For the moment, however, it looks like the bad haircuts my brothers and I used to get from mom. 🙂

I got out this morning and had my fasting blood tests done, but then succumbed to temptation and did the McDonald’s drive through. Bad me. I’ll have to eat lots of lettuce for lunch today!

Now that I’m alone in the house and don’t have to follow tradesmen around, I can really get things done. These items still remain on my list for today.

  1. Antique sewing machine cabinet
  2. Take inventory of what’s in the freezers and do some meal planning.
  3. Unpack and evaluate what I actually wore on this trip. What can I leave home the next time?
  4. Restock/repurchase toiletries for travel case/re-evaluate usefulness. Same question as above.
  5. Check the loose connection on my small travel case and put away luggage.
  6. Correspondence
  7. Garment bags

As always seems to happens, yesterday’s plumbing work caused another item to be added to the eternal list. There’s a stack of garment bags laying on my living room floor, and they are full of formal dresses and coats. I guess I need to go through them before I put back the garment bags; I’m sure there are some items that can be donated to Goodwill that neither Engineering Barbie or I will never wear again. I just hate to get rid of formal dresses — who knows when we might be invited to an ’80s party?

Yesterday I read an article recommended by a friend from the Chicago Tribune about food photography. One of the professional photographers recommended the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone, and I took this photo with it. Somehow, I think I don’t have the basics of the different lens styles down pat yet, thus the green tint. Watch for more tries with this new app!

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Day One: My Introduction to Retirement

Retirement. What a concept. One day I just decided I was done dealing with bratty teenagers and their delusional parents and I wanted to be able to go on vacation in the spring and the fall. After that it was easy.

The first thing that people ask when one decides to retire is, “What are you going to do?” My answer is, “I’m a photojournalist and I’m going to write a book.” Before one can write a book, however, one must have material, so I decided to chronicle the first year of retirement. I’ve created a new blog and will freely co-mingle my postings with my other blog, Got My Reservations, as well as my Facebook page. 

One of my first tasks in retirement will be to create a new design format for Retirement 365, so I decided to take a quote from one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun, and misuse it for my own intent. I’m not sure whether Audrey Wells or Frances Mayes actually wrote it, because I can’t find my well-thumbed copy of the book.

The trick to overcoming buyer’s remorse is to have a plan. Pick one room and make it yours. Go slowly through the house. Be polite. Introduce yourself so it can introduce itself to you.

So that’s my plan. I’m going to take retirement slowly and let it introduce itself to me, one day at a time. And I’ll take you along on my journey.

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