Tag 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!

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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 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!

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. 🙂

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 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 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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