Saturday, September 29, 2012

One day at a time

I've set January 4, 2013 as my target last day of work.  It's tempting to start counting down.  Everything in me wants to start crossing days off the calendar and marking milestones.  But if I've learned anything this year, it's that nothing follows the time schedule I prescribe.  Outside factors get in the way.  So my plan is to just wake up each day realizing I'm closer but not there yet.  What I have right now is today.  It's all I have and I'll try to enjoy it, make the most of it, love it.  Then tomorrow I'll do the same thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Medicare? Me?

Well, I've set the wheels in motion.  Called the Social Security office today and set up an appointment to apply for Medicare and Social Security.  Three months from tomorrow I'm 65.  There's apparently a rule that allows me to take my own social security for a year before I reach full retirement age (66), and then at 66 apply for my spousal benefit which will be higher.  Well it's higher anyway, but I will get the full spousal benefit by waiting a year to apply.  It's all complicated.  As is Medicare.

I finally sat down and read up on what I need to do about supplemental insurance.  It sounds like the safe way to go is something called an "Advantage" plan.  I need to wade through some literature and decide for sure and also which company's plan is best for me. 

It's a little bit of a shock--realizing I'm actually going to be in the Social Security/Medicare/retired people's demographic.  In just a few short months!  I've been talking about it for quite awhile now, but it's finally sinking in. 

But don't pigeon-hole me.  I know for sure I'm not going to be a blue-haired, lady and I'm not going to be a red hat lady.  Actually, I think I'll be pretty much who I've been all along--plain blue jeans me.  Except I won't be punching any time clock.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What would you do?

Yesterday at Target, while in the parking lot loading into my car a large unwieldy item that filled the cart, I discovered two $20 items in the bottom of the cart that both the cashier and I had overlooked.  I had not paid for them.  An extra $40 would be nice.  No-one would know but me.  I finished unloading the item and then returned to the store to pay for the other items.

It's not the first time.  Once I even returned to pay for a $4 carton of sodas.  It's what I do. 

Of course, I try to watch when they ring things up that I don't get overcharged as well.  But this incident yesterday got me to thinking and wondering what other people do.  I'm sure it happens to everyone.  Maybe they don't notice.  Or maybe they consider themselves lucky that day - like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk.  And maybe most of them return to the store to pay for the items. 

The thing about those kinds of decisions is the fact that no-one ever needs to know.  It's a true test of ethics and honesty--a test of what you believe about yourself.  Writing about this in my blog sort of negates that a bit.  Sharing the experience publicly so that everyone might know places a possible different motivation on my honesty.  But at the moment of decision, it was a test and a proof to myself at least.

The thing that fascinates me is that there is still a decision at all for me every time such a thing happens.  That I hesitate for even a second surprises me.  The hesitation before the decision proves I can be tempted.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Disaster Averted - Maybe

Discovered a leak in the sprinkling system at the shut-off valve this morning.  I had been meaning to get to those weeds for a long time and finally today was the day.  I was shocked at the saturated ground and the sight of water running out of the pipe to the turn-off valve.  Alberto came right out when I called.  We did a series of turning things on and off inside and out, and determined the bigger leak was caused because the valve had been only partially opened.  It had probably been that way a long time.  But there did seem to be a small leak at the stop and waste valve.  At least it is no longer just pouring out of the pipe.  It's a tiny leak now, and will be repaired on Monday.

My big worry is how long has it been leaking and what sort of water bill am I going to have?   This month's water bill was a good 50% higher than normal.  I thought I had been watering way too much.  Probably it was this leak.  And since the city's water bills run a month later, I can expect another one like that, or worse.  Erg!  I feel a little sick to my stomach.  I'll call the city on Monday and see if they'll come out and read the meter to let me know where it stands.

Thanks goodness I have Alberto to call on.  While he was here, he showed me how to turn off the water at the curb where it enters the property.  This is something good to know when you live alone.  Emergencies happen. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Found my contact lens

Found my missing contact lens. And it's a big deal because I lost it 24 hours ago. And I'd only had it a week--a replacement for one I had just lost before that. And these are so damned expensive--over $100 per lens--because they are gas permeable and bifocal, you don't want to be losing them every week. I knew I had lost it near the stairs so I searched the extended area all around (a blue contact on teal carpet?). Retraced my steps to the garage, in the car, to the pantry, everywhere I'd been, but no luck. I gave up and wore my old prescription lens today. Then tonight, putting some things away in the bedroom, I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be funny if I just looked down and there it was?" So I looked down. And there it was.

The moral of the story is: If you're going to get old and careless and senile, at least be lucky.

Looking for the right fit

In a political vein, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the other day she didn't know how any woman could vote for Mitt Romney.  A part of her quote really spoke to me and my own experience,

"I think there are some who believe they are actually protecting women, you know, and that it is better for women to be taken care of. I think women want to take care of themselves, and I think having a voice in how that is done is very important."
 I actually know a LOT of women who want to be taken care of.  And plenty of men who think that's their role.  But even way back in the 70s, I bristled at this idea.  I felt a healthy adult relationship required two people capable of taking care of themselves and jointly taking care of their mutual responsibilities.  I didn't want my husband to be a father to me, I wanted us to be equal in every way.  As an active member of the Mormon church at the time, I was way out of step.  Men were the "head of the household," held the priesthood (like a private men's club in the Mormon church), and were essential to a woman being able to achieve the highest reward in heaven.  Women were in every way auxiliary to men.  It was a big part of my reason for leaving the Mormons.

I just can't be auxiliary in the most important relationship in my life.  I need to be truly equal.

This concept has been on my mind a lot relative to this crazy activity of  "dating" after 60.  Having been on my own for six years or so, I have become even more self-reliant and independent.  For awhile I dated, with moderate success.  The best results seemed to be with men who had more liberal views of women.  It never worked out so well with the ones who wanted me to fit into THEIR idea of the ideal woman.  They seemed to have a fantasy of what I should be like rather than seeing the real me with eyes wide open.  And some seemed unreasonably compelled to carry out old traditional male/female roles.  And they wanted me to like what they like and do what they do without being very curious about what I might like.  The last guy I dated would ask me out telling me to choose a restaurant and then upon picking me up, would tell me where we were going.  This guy opened every door, picked up every check, and was so gentlemanly.  How could I complain?  This is probably the ideal man for 90 percent of women.  Unfortunately, I felt awkward and uncomfortable.  I didn't like being taken care of that much.

It's my own problem, of course.  I know that.  But sometimes it seems so silly to sit in the car while the guy runs around to open my door.  And if we both work, why shouldn't I help out with the cost of having fun together.  I like reciprocal kindnesses and courtesies.  And I'm as likely to open his door as he is mine--it's more a matter of what makes sense at the moment and not some arbitrary tradition.  Is that such a bad thing?  For some men it matters a great deal.

So where is that nice companion who fits me as well as I fit him?  One who accepts me as I am and doesn't try to push me into his idea of what I should be?  Is there such a one?  I'm starting to realize I hate the idea of growing old alone.  But I may be too choosy for my own good. 

Friday, September 7, 2012


I love to stand with the other parents and grandparents, on the sidewalk just outside the school, when the teacher struggles to contain the crowd as she opens the gate, and a stream of littleness comes flowing out and scatters in a moment of excited chaos.  And I see that one little face searching the crowd for mine, and the moment of recognition that shows both relief and anticipation as he can barely contain the words that will soon come pouring out, telling all about the day, the new things he learned, the new friends he made, that tomorrow his table has show and tell, that a boy pushed him on the playground, that he doesn't like the mean lady with the whistle, and on and on and on with almost no pause, all the way home right on through lunch.

I especially love the little stories, some imaginary but laced with facts.  Which stories, I'm instructed, I must never, ever, ever tell anyone. 

And for a short time I get to see the world through the eyes of a five-year old boy.

And here I thought it was going to be hard to fit this new duty into my daily schedule.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just moving along

The truth is, we're never really finished.  Fixing up, that is.  As long as we're homeowners, there's always something next for us to do.  Today I'm painting.  But just little jobs--nothing big.

Sometime this week, new blinds will be installed in the upstairs windows.  I had taken down the old ones five years ago when I got new windows and never replaced them.  Light curtains provided sufficient insultation and privacy.  But since I am getting shutters for the downstairs windows, I decided it was finally time to replace the blinds upstairs.

I got double-cell blinds, cordless, with bottom-up/top-down feature in the living room.  This will be nice for just blocking the lower part of the windows and providing enough privacy from the street while allowing for the long distance view of mountains and lake.  I opted against wood or faux-wood blinds as my windows are 72 inches high.  The stack of blinds when open would be about 14 inches, blocking a good portion of the upper window.  While I'm not a huge fan of the cell blinds, they offer a 3 inch stack when open.  I'm all about preserving the view.

Downstairs I opted for shutters just to dress up the windows more.  The family room does have large windows at a garden level, while the bedroom and bath have regular basement windows.  The cost was so reasonable for the size of the windows, I thought it was worth it to add a little more style to the rooms.

The couch and chair were delivered on Friday.  I am sure glad I didn't just go buy a whole bunch of furniture.  It's quite a small family room and is already getting filled up.  My idea was to arrange the major pieces of furniture first and then add end tables, coffee table, lamps, etc.  I won't get too carried away with moving the furniture around yet as the shutters don't get installed for three more weeks. 

Today I'm painting the upstairs window casings, having yesterday spackled the holes where the old blinds had been mounted.  While I'm at it, I'll do a little touch up painting in the bathroom where I caused some water damage.  And I'll touch up a spot on the doorway where the new furniture nicked the new walls. 

In the garage I have more things to sell, including a nice desk and four sets of golf clubs.  With the gold clubs out of the way, I can use the space under the stairs better for storing my vacuum and carpet cleaner.

Well, this update is more for my benefit than anything.  Definite progress has been made.  But I'm about ready to start thinking about the "doors and floors" project upstairs.  More on that another time. Let's get this finished first

Never really finished.