Category Archives: Retirement

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 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 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 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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