The New Normal

I’m still learning what my days are like now that I’m retired.  I still wake up really early (between 5:15 and 5:30), but now I don’t get up right away.  I spend a few minutes with my tablet, checking out Facebook and e-mail.  Sometimes I’ll finish watching whatever Netflix selection I fell asleep watching the night before.  More often I’ll read a chapter or two of whatever I’m currently reading.  (Note to self:  make a list of the Harry Potter books in chronological order so I can read them in sequence.  I’ve been meaning to read them for ages and have never gotten around to it.)

After breakfast, I take a morning walk, followed by a brief sunning session on the deck including reading the morning paper and doing a bit of knitting.  After this, I shower and dress for the day, whatever that includes.

We’ve not settled into any kind of routine yet as far as what we do on which day.  I’d rather leave that as open as I can.  Just my little early morning walk is enough of a scheduled event for me right now.  A routine will develop over time, I’m sure.

I’ve been knitting a lot, but it’s mostly finishing up things that I’d started and buried in my UFO basket.  I swear, there are things in there I’d completely forgotten about.  I’ve also made some progress on entering information into my genealogy program.  Hopefully after I get finished entering the old information I’ll be able to put some effort into gathering some new information.

Lots of time….finally!

Officially Retired

Today, June 1, 2017, is the first official day of my retirement.  (Even though Tuesday of last week was my last day in the office, I was on annual leave or holiday leave until today.)

I’ve looked forward to retirement for so long, and believe me, it’s worth the wait.  It’s been pretty busy up until today; things to do and places to be.  But it’s been just delicious not having to plan things around work.

Today we’ve declared a “couch day”.  Mom and I went to North Carolina yesterday and spent a lovely day with my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Wilton.  We had a wonderful time, but decided we needed to take today to rest from the trip.  It’s been a long time since we spent 6 hours in the car in a single day!

So, since today’s the first of the month I took care of household expense stuff first thing this morning.  Now I’ve settled into the recliner with my laptop and remote controls.  I’m going to work a little on some input into my genealogy software.  Then I plan to spend some time with sticks and yarn and Netflix.

I love that the biggest decision I have to make today is what movie to watch while I’m knitting.  I’m a happy girl.  🙂

Things I’ll Miss

As I drove to work this morning (my final Friday in the office), I mused about things I would and wouldn’t miss about my morning commute:

Things I’ll Miss:

  1. Waving and/or brief conversations with neighbors who are taking their doggies for their morning walk when I head out the door.
  2. Loudly singing 70’s rock along with the radio (WVEK-FM 102.7 FM is my currently preferred station).
  3. An occasional stop at Sonic for a large Diet Coke to sip on at my desk.
  4. Watching for interesting cloud formations developing in the early morning sun.
  5. Watching for the “Pa Fred” effect. This one will require a little more explanation.  At certain times of the year an interesting optical illusion is caused by the combination of the sun’s angle and my sight line of a “one way” street sign against a tree in the median of the Jonesboro Highway just after I leave I-81 heading for the college.  For a brief instant, the shadows form a visual image that looks like my grandfather standing in the median.  It’s weird, but oddly comforting.
  6. Waving good morning to the B&G guys who are tending to the college grounds as I drive onto campus.

Things I Won’t Miss One Little Bit:

  1. Cleaning snow and ice off the car on bitter cold mornings. From now on if the weather’s bad I can just stay home.  What a luxury that will be!
  2. Dreading sunny mornings. There’s a good reason for this.  My commute involves driving straight into the sun for a lot of my route.  Even with extra-dark sunglasses it gets rough some mornings.
  3. I can’t believe how much the traffic has increased during the years I’ve been driving from Bristol to Abingdon.  And how many more semis are on the road!
  4. Road construction. There has been construction going on somewhere between Bristol and Abingdon on I-81 for most of the time I’ve been making that commute.  It’s been especially icky since they started the restructuring of Exit 14.  And whose bright idea was it to do the work at Hall’s Bottom Road at the same time they have Exit 14 all messed up??
  5. The “picket fence” effect. Part of my route in the area around mile marker 13 has lots of tall, straight trees off to the right.  On sunny days, the sun filtering through the trees causes what I call the “picket fence” effect.  It can trigger a migraine for me in a heartbeat!

No doubt, it’s gonna be different after next Tuesday!

Comfort Food

I woke up a bit under the weather this morning.  Not SICK, really, just a little queasy.  I suspect that the pesto on a pizza Mom and I had yesterday didn’t agree with me.  So today is a “bland” day for my tummy.  Cream of wheat and tea for breakfast….exciting, eh?

When Mom asked me what I thought I could eat for lunch, I thought about it for a bit and answered “cooked macaroni”.  She immediately knew what I meant, because that it my standard request when I’m not feeling well.  She cooked it for my sister and me when we were growing up when we were sick, and it’s still a favorite of mine.

She cooks elbow macaroni in salted water until it’s cooked very well.  If there’s a lot of water remaining in the pot, she drains most of it off and adds milk, butter, and pepper to the pot and simmers the macaroni on slow heat until the milk cooks down to a creamy sauce.

I had a bowl for lunch a few minutes ago, and it’s remarkably soothing.  Mom told me something while we were eating that I didn’t remember ever hearing before.  Grandma Rose (my great-grandmother) used to keep a pot of this comforting macaroni dish on the back of the stove most of the time.  Mom said that she could remember going to their house when she was a little girl and having macaroni from the big pot on the stove.

I said that I’m sure that it would make great baked macaroni and cheese by just adding shredded cheddar to the top and baking it until the cheese melts.  Mom said that she could remember large pans of macaroni and cheese being removed from the oven at Grandma’s.  Grandma and Grandpa Rose had a total of twelve children, so I’m sure that Grandma probably knew a lot of tricks for feeding a large crowd on a budget.

I know that I always feel a little better after a bowl of that creamy macaroni!

Knitting notes:  One of the coasters that I knitted for the cup holders in the console in the car disappeared (probably accidentally picked up and dropped out in a parking lot somewhere), so I’m knitting a new set.  The old set was looking a little ratty anyway.  🙂  I also tried a new washcloth pattern that worked out nicely, so I’ll probably knit a few more of those.  I’ve become spoiled by hand-knit washcloths.

I’ve also finished a rectangular throw for evenings when the air conditioning feels just a bit too cool on my legs.  Well, the knitting part of it is finished; I still have to hide the dratted ends on it.

As always, I have a pair of socks on needles; they’re nearly up to the point of starting the heel.  I’ve not quite decided what the next project will be.  My next project SHOULD be straightening up my yarn stash, but that will probably wait for awhile.

I now have 17 more working days before retirement.  I spent some time out on the deck the past couple of mornings before the extreme heat set in, and my mind happily buzzed with the knowledge that soon this could turn into a daily habit.  Life is good.

The Final Countdown

It’s been months since I posted a blog entry.  Lots has happened, and a life-changing decision has been made since I last posted.  Let’s deal with only happy news in this post, okay?

The happiest news I have is that I have decided to retire effective June 1.  I plan to take a little annual leave before I go, so my last day in the office will be May 23.  I’m going to take another annual leave day at the end of next week, so as of today I have a total of 21 remaining working days.

I don’t have words to properly express how very happy I am to be retiring.  I’ve worked since I was 16, and that’s long enough.  I have so many other things to do.

What do I have to do, you may ask?  Well, a partial list includes:

  1. Taking Mom wherever she wants to go to do whatever she wants to do for as long as she’s able.  She’s 80 now, and still in reasonably good health, so I want her to be able to do some things, one of which is…
  2. Fishing.  I haven’t fished in years, but Mom mentioned that she might like to take a pole down to Steele Creek.  So I bought myself a county license, we bought some cheap rods, hooks, and such, and now we’re ready to spend a little time on the bank relaxing.
  3. Shopping.  This is more for Mom than for me.  I don’t enjoy shopping; never have.  Amazon is my idea of a shopping excursion.  Mom, however, loves to shop, so I will look at it as exercise and learn to navigate the Pinnacle parking lots without swearing.
  4. Enjoying sunshine instead of fluorescent lighting.  I swear, offices should not be allowed to install fluorescent lighting.  I’ve spend most of my life under it, and it’s just miserable.  I’m so looking forward to soaking up some serious Vitamin D!
  5. Knitting without a deadline.  My knitting mojo had suffered terribly lately, mostly just due to exhaustion.  Instead of using my knitting to try to wind down from stresses of the office, I look forward to just knitting for the pure enjoyment of the act.  I have an admittedly huge yarn stash, so I’m prepared to make my knitting a regular part of each day.
  6. Decluttering my spaces.  I’ve been making small attempts at this for a long time, but making real progress demands more time and energy than I’ve been able to devote.  It won’t happen quickly, but I’m anxious to begin serious work on clearing my clutter.  (Incidentally, yarn is not clutter.  *LOL*)
  7. Being able to sit up later than 8:00 p.m.  I swear, I’ve been so tired when I get home that I can barely stay up long enough to see Final Jeopardy.
  8. I have a guitar and a mountain dulcimer that I’ve had for years and haven’t learned to play either of them.  I plan to remedy that.
  9. A walking routine.  I’ve known for a long time that my sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy.  I know that it will have to begin slowly, but I’m going to make a sincere effort to incorporate more movement into my daily routine.  Keep your fingers crossed for me; this will be my toughest undertaking, I’m sure!
  10. Maybe a few bus trips.  There are a lot of local companies to schedule regular short bus trips in our area.  Though I don’t mind driving, it’s hard for us to travel long distances by car any more.  I think that there are probably several places we could go by bus, though, that would be more restful.  I’m looking into it.

This list is a work in progress, of course.  It will change as I adjust to retirement, I know.  I look forward to this new chapter in my life and am very excited about my new adventure!

Aftershocks

I think it’s fair to say that no matter what your political preferences may be, it’s been a rough election year for all of us.  I won’t get into my political views here because I believe that everyone has a right to their point of view, whether I agree with them or not.  So, I won’t bore you with mine.

In the final analysis, I can agree to disagree.  This is one of the things that makes it so easy for Mom and me to share an apartment.  We both believe that we don’t HAVE to agree on everything.  We can agree to respect each other’s opinion, even if we have opposite views (which, incidentally, doesn’t happen often).

I stepped away from Facebook for a good while to avoid subjecting myself to the bitterness and anger being spewed back and forth.  Yesterday, I went back.  I scrolled through the “day after the election” posts very briefly and was dismayed at the volume of negative posts.  Many of the posts reflected either anger and disillusionment or had a nasty, gloating tone.

Because I’d been away for so long, I found it easier than usual to scroll past the negativity.  The truth is that no matter who’d won the election, there was obviously going to be a lot of healing to do.  I’ve been voting for a long time, and I’ve never seen a nastier presidential election season than this one.

Was I happy with our choices of candidates?  No.  Did I vote?  Definitely.  I’ve always felt that it’s my duty to vote.  Many brave people have fought and died to ensure that I have the opportunity to freely express my opinion, so I always vote.

I’ve never seen a political race cause so much deep-seated anger.  I actually feared that there might be violence in the polling places, a fear I never had in the past.

Our political system has problems, without a doubt, but anger will not correct them.  We must search for solutions, seek out the underlying issues causing the problems and correct them.

Instead of spending our time sniping, let’s try to find a common ground where we can begin rebuilding our broken country.  And if you don’t believe it’s broken, just check out the newspaper headlines.  Time for a reality check, folks.

As for me, I’ll continue to vote.  I’ll vote for the person I feel is best equipped to serve our country well, regardless of party.  If there’s anything I can do to help in the repair efforts, I’ll be glad to pitch in.

But I won’t be part of an angry tirade; that’s wasted effort and I don’t have enough energy to waste it any more.

Let’s take a deep breath, recenter our thoughts, and try to move forward.  There are challenges ahead, but as Americans we’ve faced challenges before.  We can do this.

 

 

 

The Deep South

Having spent the past few days in the deep South on vacation, I’ve made a short list of pros and cons from my point of view.

Pros

  1. The people are friendly.  Even the people who aren’t really friendly are friendly in a knee-jerk reaction kind of way.  I’ve never been called “ma’am” so much in my life!
  2. The scenery is glorious.  You’ve never seen anything more beautiful than the Mississippi River under a September sky, trust me.
  3. Quarter slots.  I know that Vicksburg isn’t the only place to play slots, but where else can you get Diet Coke delivered with true Southern hospitality while spending a small fortune a quarter at a time?
  4. The food.  My biggest regret is that I’m allergic to seafood and can’t indulge in some of the delicious-looking things I’m seeing on menus.  I’m still managing to find plenty of wonderful food, though.

    Cons

    1. Heat.  Oh, boy, do they have serious heat down here.  Even worse than that, though is
    2. Humidity.  I feel a little like a boiled peanut.  Note to self: look for boiled peanuts while I’m here.
    3. Bugs.  I hate bugs, but they adore me.
    4. TillyCat isn’t here.  Biggest con of all.

    Of course, every area has its pros and cons.  But, as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home!”

    188

    If all goes as planned, I now have 188 working days until my retirement date.  I know that some folks have really mixed feelings about approaching retirement.  I have no qualms whatsoever.  I’ve been in the workforce since I was 16 years old.  I’m ready.

    “What on earth will you do with yourself when you retire?”  Everything I’ve been waiting to have enough time to do.  The list has grown longer with each passing year.  “Won’t you get bored?”  No.  My job has never been my life.  My job has always provided funds to support my life.

    Here’s a partial list of things I’m going to enjoy most:

    • unplugging my alarm clock….for good.
    • having time for a cup of coffee on the deck each morning, weather permitting.
    • being able to schedule appointments any time of the day I please.
    • being able to tell Mom “Sure, we can go to Pigeon Forge today.”
    • having our “big meal” in the middle of the day instead of after work.
    • being able to meet friends for lunch without keeping one eye on my watch to see if I need to get back to the office.
    • checking out activities available at the Senior Center.
    • learning to play my guitar.
    • learning to play my mountain dulcimer.
    • organizing my yarn stash.
    • decluttering my closets.
    • working on my genealogy.

    I have no doubt this list will grow longer as retirement day approaches.  Life is good.

    Staycation 2016

    I’ve been away from the office for the past week and was looking forward to restful days of knitting and Netflix.  Mom had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but otherwise my calendar was completely empty.  Bliss!

    On Day 1 of the Staycation (Saturday) we went to the Farmer’s Market on State Street and picked up some delicious produce.  Then we went to Kingsport to wash the car (they have a car wash down there that I really like) and go to the Dollar Tree.  When we got back home I did laundry and various little household chores.  A busy day.  Mom reminded me that Race Week was coming up (always an adventure in our hometown of Bristol).  So, we needed to make a WalMart trip and a grocery shopping trip early in the week to avoid being caught in the crowds of race fans that always appear mid-week.  No problem, I said.

    On Day 2 (Sunday) I announced that I was going to take a day to do nothing but relax.  And I pretty much did just that.  The weather here was hot and oppressive, so I vegged out.  If knitting was exercise I’d have dropped 10 pounds.

    On Day 3 (Monday) Mom needed to go to the bank.  I took along my change jar and was delighted to learn that I had nearly $60 in change.  (This is always my casino money when we go to Vicksburg, and we have a trip planned next month.)  We then went to WalMart and stocked up on a few items.  (Insert sarcastic snicker here.)  We’ve never in our lives picked up a “few items” at WalMart.  It’s a carload or nothing.  *LOL*

    On Day 4 (Tuesday) we made our grocery shopping trip.  Race fans were already arriving in our fair city, but we managed to avoid getting into a large crowd.  The hot, oppressive weather continued, so we were happy to get back to our comfortably air conditioned apartment.

    On Day 5 (Wednesday….also my birthday) Mom wanted to visit her sister in Clintwood.  It’s about a 90-minute drive, and Aunt Billie had told us that she would be in physical therapy until 11:30.  So we waited until nearly 10:00 to start over.  As soon as we went through the door, she said “I’d about give you up.”  I reminded her that she’d said she’d be in therapy until 11:30; she told us she’d changed her therapy to an afternoon session since we were coming to visit.  But she didn’t let us know the session had been changed.  *sigh*  Oh well.

    As we were returning to Bristol (planning to stop in Weber City for a Mexican birthday lunch), Mom and I were discussing whether to get chimichangas or to try something different on the menu.  I felt a bump as if I’d hit something in the road, but there was nothing either in front of us or behind us.  The road noise instantly rose to a roar.  Mom commented “This road’s so rough you wouldn’t be able to tell if you had a flat.”

    Unfortunately, I was already looking for a good place to get out of the road.  We’d blown our left rear tire.  We had no spare; the car didn’t come with a spare.  It was equipped with a “tire maintenance kit”, but that was for a flat due to a small puncture or such.  This was no small puncture.  I’ve never seen a tire as flat as that one was.

    So, I dug into my wallet and pulled out my Roadside Assistance card.  Let me tell you, people, it’s worth buying a Hyundai to get their Roadside Assistance.  They took some information, assured us that help was on the way, and made sure that we were uninjured and in a safe location.

    During the short time that we were waiting for a tow, several Good Samaritans stopped to see if we needed help.  It’s good to know that in this day and age people still stop to try to help you.  When the tow truck arrived, a very nice young man switched our flat tire to the front and towed our car to the Hyundai dealership in Bristol.  He dropped us off at Enterprise (very near the dealership) to rent a car since the service center at the dealership had already closed for the day.  (I’d called them to let them know what had happened and that we’d leave the key in their lockbox.)

    By the time we’d crawled into our rented Jeep Compass Mom and I were too exhausted for a birthday dinner.  So we went home and ate leftover chicken and macaroni salad from the refrigerator.  An eventful birthday, for sure!

    On Day 6 (Thursday) I talked to the dealership and learned that they didn’t have one of my tires in stock.  It would be ordered immediately, but wouldn’t be delivered until Friday morning.  *sigh*  So, other than a trip to the doctor’s office with Mom (just a regular check-up; everything was fine) nothing much happened that day other than waiting.  For which I’ve never had a knack.  I knit so much that the skin on my index finger became sore and puffy.  Also, I accidentally stuck my very sharp sock needle into the fingertip twice!  Owie.

    On Day 7 (Friday) I waited all day for the phone to ring.  I finally gave up and called the dealership at 2:45 to see how things were going.  They were aligning the car at that time and promised to call as soon as it was finished.  Luckily, they did call shortly after that and I went out on Volunteer Parkway to get the car.  Volunteer Parkway.  In Bristol.  On Friday of Race Week.  *double sigh*

    It was crowded, as expected, but traffic was moving well.  I turned in the rental car and picked up the Sonata at the dealership with a song in my heart.  I never knew how much I love that car until I had to be without it for a couple of days!

    So now we come to Day 8.  Today.  I took a shower and made my bed, but that’s as much as I’ve done today.  I’ve done a little knitting, but not a lot.  It’s awkward with a band-aid on my finger.  In about an hour I have our weekly Skype session with my little Aussie family.  Then I plan to do more nothing until bedtime.  Hopefully followed up tomorrow with still more nothing.

    I have a feeling that my next vacation week in September will be more restful than this one even though it will include a 1,300 mile trip.  *LOL*

     

    Monday, Monday

    Did you ever have one of those Mondays that made you wonder why you bothered to get out of bed? Sure, we all have. This has developed into one of those Mondays for me.
    When I woke up this morning, my first realization was that I’d slept through the entire night until the alarm buzzed me awake. This is not usual for me. I normally wake up at least once during the night, but not last night. A full night of restful sleep without interruption, a real treat.

    My next realization was that for the first time in days, I woke without a sinus headache. Hey, this day is shaping up great, right?

    I found leftover spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge to take to work for my lunch. If you’d ever had my Mom’s spaghetti, you’d know how happy this made me. There were bran muffins in the snack tray, one of which I tossed into my lunchbag for my breakfast.

    The morning was humid, but not as hot as it’s been lately. Traffic was much lighter than it’s been in the past few weeks, so my commute was pleasant.

    Then I got to the office…..and a cloud of gloom spread over my pleasant morning. *sigh* To cope with the frustrating situations landing on my desk, I turned on SimplyRain to calm my tattered nerves. If you’ve never used this, try it sometime. I use it often to reduce stress. And at the office I have a lot of stress.

    So now it’s lunchtime, and I’m enjoying Mom’s spaghetti and catching up with online stuff. And telling myself that at 4:30 this afternoon everything will get much, much better. 🙂