Saturday, November 19, 2011


Sometimes a little perspective is good.  Yesterday, talking with my friend on the phone and discussing our respective Thanksgiving plans, she planted a reminder so stark by comparison that I felt startled and saw my present life with new eyes.

This year there will be 11 of us at my table--children, grandchildren, and a couple of their friends.  The food will be non-traditional with no big golden bird as a centerpiece.  Salmon will be the highlight but with sliced turkey and ham available too.  And many sides.  I've consulted everyone and asked them for their favorite dish and there will be something to please everyone.  It will be fun and different.  With such a crowd coming, I've had a brainstorm for fitting them all in -- I am moving my dining room furniture into the spacious living room and the couch and chairs are getting relegated to the dining room.  I'll serve appetizers and drinks on my server.  I'll use my new dishes and I'm so glad I bought 12 place settings.  I described all of this to my friend on the phone.

And then my friend asks me, did I remember five years ago, just after she had moved back here from California, and I had decided not to even have Thanksgiving that year.  I sent my kids off to celebrate elsewhere and I stayed home alone and did nothing.  What a dark place I was in at the time.  Separated from my husband and life in limbo.  Feeling terribly wounded body and soul.

How did I get to here from there?

I don't know if I have answers or any profound advice.  Only to say that not only do bad things happen in all our lives, but that this is evidence of the resilience of the human spirit when we allow it to be.  I know I have a basic spark in me that loves life and people and looks for good in the world.  I am an optimist in spirit.  And seeking joyful things brings joy in abundance.

It has been a good year as I look back.  A very good year.  And I am happy with all the people and experiences that have graced my life.  I've lost what religious leanings I ever had, and I don't think the cosmos or a rabbit's foot have any say in my life either.  So I'm never quite sure now what to do with feelings of gratitude.  But I do feel, nevertheless, that my life is good and not entirely of my own doing.

For me, at this point in my life, let it suffice to say that I know I have a good life and I sincerely and humbly appreciate that and will not take for granted the good things.  And will do my best to weather the bad when they come.  And accept all life has to offer with increasing understanding and grace.

Monday, November 14, 2011

October - Catching Up

This is what you call lazy blogging.  I took one of my favorite get-away trips in October -- Bryce Canyon for just one day, and then a drive up beautiful Highway 12 to Capitol Reef National Park and Torrey, Utah.  I've already posted pictures on Facebook, so to make it easy, I'll link to my albums here.
Bryce Canyon
Torrey, Utah and Capitol Reef and more rock art near Torrey

And just days after I returned home, a neighbor couple and I threw a big party at my house for all the neighborhood and other family and friends.  I failed to get pictures of everyone there, but got extas of my family members.  Sigh.  A good time was had by all.
Halloween Party

In addition, finished up nearly all the clearing out in basement and garage and I'm ready to talk to the contractor and get this project going.  It was a very good October.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What'll I Do?

In 13 months I'll retire.  I'm literally counting the months now.  And everything I do is in preparation for this new phase of life.  Not that I'm treading water or anything right now.  I'm still working and playing and doing all the things I love.  But I am preparing.

"What will you do?"  That's the number one question people ask me when I mention retiring.

What'll I do?  Hah!  I will do all the things I do now only I won't have to fit in eight hours of work around them.  I'll be able to work in the yard when the temperatures are cool.  I'll be able to do more of the work myself and not hire helpers as much.  I'll be able to ride my bike on weekdays when the young fast riders are at work.  I'll paint when I'm awake and fresh and when the light is good.  I'll read during the day instead of at bedtime which puts me to sleep.  I'll help more with getting grand kids to and from school so their parents don't have to do such fancy juggling of their schedules.  I'll cook more and have people to dinner.  I'll play more piano and guitar.  And take some lessons--both music and painting.  I'll write more consistently and thoughtfully.  I'll walk every day but will find some new trails and vistas.  I'll take day trips to see birds and to photograph sights.  I will still do the concerts, movies, dining out with my friends.  Why would that change?

In short, I will do all the things I loving doing now but will have prime time for them instead of fitting them into the fringes of my day.  Maybe I'll add some new things, too.  I'm open to the possibilities.  But I don't see myself being idle or bored.

And I'm preparing.  For some months now I've put myself on a very strict budget, living on less than what my social security check will be, though in retirement I will also have a pension check.  My goal is to live frugally and put my pension check into savings.  If I need it, it's there.  I am putting a large portion of my paycheck now into a 401k (well, it's really a 407-something or other), my savings continue to grow.  I feel confident I will live comfortably on my income when I no longer work and will even be able to continue saving.

And I'm not suffering in my frugality.  I took a nice little vacation to Bryce Canyon, Highway 12, and Capitol Reef in October, and I bought a lovely set of dishes, managed birthday gifts and dinners and several outings with friends, some new clothing for me, all within budget without drawing on savings.  Oh, and threw a big Halloween party for the neighborhood.  How could I complain?

I will be getting that remodeling done in the basement soon and that will require drawing on some of my savings - it's part of the plan.  But then the major work in the house is all finished.  I will still paint a room occasionally or update things here and there.  But it will be my home for as long as I can manage it and I will enjoy all the updates now instead of doing them for new owners when the time comes I decide to sell. 

And that's what I'll do.  For starters . . .

P..S.  I will not be one of those Red Hat Ladies who have taken something that is all about uniqueness and individuality and made it all about sameness.