Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thaw - Please!

It has continued snowing every day this week.  We had another foot of snow on Monday, then a few more inches yesterday, and a few more still today.  This was to have ended yesterday, but you know how these winter storms are--sometimes they just keep going, and going, and going.

This week, they seem to let up around mid-day for awhile, long enough to shovel.  I have been trying to shovel around 2 in the afternoon as the sun starts to break through and the temps rise a little, so the shoveling goes better.  Monday, a neighbor came over and shoveled before I could get out.  I was pretty grateful as we had at least a foot that morning.  However, when I went out, I saw he has shoveled only one side of the driveway and had piled all the snow on the OTHER side of the driveway.  Oh man.  Now, in addition to keeping up with the daily snow, I have spent two days trying to clear the deep heavy snow my neighbor piled up for me.  I'm trying to feel appreciative for the thought.  But honestly, it would have been much, much easier if he would have just let me do my usual thing.  It's so much easier to clear fallen snow than piled up snow that seems to be heavier and icier.  I still have about a 10' x 12' section of that to do, and I've cleared about double that.  It really kills me and I can't just keep at it till it's done.  I just needed to complain a little here. so thanks for listening.  *sigh*

The weather guessers say this is the last storm for a week now.  I hope they are right.  The temperature tomorrow is supposed to be at or near 40.  It that happens, we'll finally start to see some melting.  We actually have a record amount of accumulated snow on the ground right now simply because of so many big storms one after another.  The piles on the sides of my driveway are taller in some places than I am.  It's going to take awhile for that to melt.

I have serious concerns about the roof.  Besides the snow depth and obvious weight, there has been an ice dam all along my rain gutters for weeks now.  I'll be surprised if my rain gutters survive the season.  And I may even have some roof damage as well.  But there's not a thing I can do right now but wait.  Next year, I'll take my son's advice and put heat tape in the rain gutters.  It must be like the heated rock I put in the bird bath.  It never gets hot or even warm to handle.  It just keeps the temperature above freezing so the ice can't form.

In half an hour, it will be time to go out and shovel for the day.  I may take a picture while out there.  Although, I'm so unthrilled with snow right now, I may not.

My biggest worry was what driving conditions would be going to the airport this evening as I'll be picking up my daughter and her husband and I just didn't want another white knuckle drive out there on that often treacherous stretch of freeway.. But the clouds are lifting now and the snow seems to have stopped falling.  And the best sign of all, the little birds have shown up at the feeders.  They always seem to know when it's safe to venture out.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Review: Game Change

Click this link to see my latest movie review; Game Change.  This HBO movie has already garnered many awards.  Julianne Moore's portrayal of Sarah Palin is truly remarkable.  If you've seen the movie, please leave me a comment at the Reel Women blog.  I'd love to know what you think.

Thoroughly, utterly, completely unequivocally SICK of snow!

After a promising morning yesterday, it turned out to just be Mother Nature's idea of torture.  A serious snowstorm set in by afternoon and we ended up today with about another foot of new snow.  And yet another storm is bearing down on us, to arrive tonight and tomorrow and maybe into Wednesday, bringing another five inches or so (they say).  I've been adding up the storm totals since just after Christmas, and with the storm tonight, we'll reach about 4 feet of snow fallen.  Of course, with the freak freezing rain last week and a couple of minor thaws, we probably have 30" on the ground right now in untrampled areas.

I'm so very tired of this winter.  I don't think I can face a wintry February.  I think I have S.A.D.  I really need to see some sunshine.  There has been almost none the entire month of January.  I'm stressing about having to drive to the airport Wednesday night to pick up my kids from vacation.  My luck, it will still be snowing, icy, foggy, or all of the above. 

Bears have the right idea about winter.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finally some relief for Utah - January 2013

It has been the worst January I remember for bad air and smog.  But today a small storm is coming in. The radar maps show it to be just on the other side of the lake now.  Sunrise brought a wonderful sight:  The moon and the sky.  The inversion appears to be breaking up.  Fog still clings to the lake shore, but everywhere else is looking sparkly clear.  I did attempt to walk down the driveway to get the newspaper, but that was a no-go.  It's a sheet of ice again.  The hospitals have been busy with people falling on the ice.  I didn't want to add my name to the list.  I'll just leave the newspaper at the end of the driveway until the ice melts.  Our temperature is right at freezing right now, but icicles are dripping, there's a slight breeze, and snow clumps are dropping from the trees.  I sense a slight thaw.

Update:  By the afternoon, winter had returned with a vengeance.  At this moment, the snow plow is STUCK in front of my house.  *sigh*

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Let's get this month over with!

Really, I've had it with the weather this January.  Our air pollution and inversion has been so bad for so long, it made the national news last night.  Finally yesterday, for the first time since January 10, our temperatures reached just above freezing.  Enough that I could venture out and attempt to remove a quarter inch or more of solid ice from my driveway.  It wasn't going to happen with just a snow shovel.   And it was too treacherous to walk on while spreading ice melt (my driveway is at a significant slant).  I had to walk along the sides (in the snow where I could get traction in my boots) and toss the ice melt out onto the concrete as best I could.  With a wide driveway, that meant trips down both sides.  I let the ice melt work for an hour or so and then went back out with a snow shovel and pushed and chipped away the ice, that now was melting and broke away into sheets and pieces.  It was still treacherous in places where melting hadn't occurred, and I had to test every step as you couldn't see the ice -- sometimes it just looked like wet concrete.

I also dealt with the back outdoor faucet that had formed an icicle of its own.  The ice melted and I checked the pipes inside.  I heard no dripping and saw no water, so hopefully, there was no pipe breakage.  Outside there was a small but persistent drip at the faucet.  With the help of some WD-40 and a wrench, I gave the nut on the faucet a small tighten and I think I stopped the drip.  Hopefully, the problem there is solved.

There are ice dams in the rain gutters.  I know this is bad and I can only hope that the melting of the next few days remedies that, too.  The icicles on the house started dripping and then growing, but as the day progressed and we got into upper 30's temperatures, the icicles actually started dropping off the eaves of their own accord.

And then last night when the temps dropped again . . . well let me just put it as I said on Facebook:
And now, as if in a final act of defiance before a Sunday storm that promises to finally clean out all the dirty air, Mother Nature has us socked in with a fog to rival a Sherlock Holmes scene.
 Between the ice removal and the heavy fog, I managed to get to the grocery store to restock.  Today the weather is supposed to remain smoggy.  But tomorrow we are getting a snowstorm that is supposed to scour out all this inversion and pollution.  I don't normally look forward to the snowstorms, but I'll make an exception for this one.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Freezing Rain in Utah - January 24, 2013

A rare occurrence in Utah - freezing rain.  Even when driving slowly, cars simply don't have control.  Ice buildup on roads that resists the usual salt treatments.  Water freezes on windshields and windows.  "More accidents than they can count so far," says the Highway Patrol.   In front of my house, several people slid off he road just trying to drive down the hill.  An SUV spun completely around.  Watching news reports this morning was not for the faint of heart.  Then sometime in the morning a plane slid off a taxiway at Salt Lake International Airport, and a decision was made to close all runways (first time in 20 years they had to close all runways).  Now, hours later, they remain closed with many flight delayed or cancelled, and travelers wondering what to do now.

I had volunteered to drive my grandson to school at 1 p.m. for a little spelling bee.  His class is off-track (year-round school schedule) right now, and so is not in class, but wanted to compete.  Unfortunately, as conditions worsened at the morning progressed, I cancelled.  I was sorry to do that, but thought it better for all of us to stay home and stay safe.

Normally, precipitation falls either as snow or rain in this state.  Freezing rain is rare and requires the specific conditions that exist right now.  It comes down to this long-term inversion we've had that has kept us well below freezing temps the whole month of January (apart from just two days).  Here's how the weather people explain it:
First, remember we have a deep layer of snow this month which keeps a cold layer of air near the ground, and that's what sets us up for the inversion to begin with.  The inversion means warmer temperatures at high altitudes, currently in the 30's and 40's, but cold near the ground where the trapped air is smoggy and currently from single digits to the 20's.  As this storm passes over the inversion, precipitation falls initially as rain.  But when it hits the cold lower level, the rain turns to freezing rain.  Normally, a storm is preceded by wind which scours out all the pollution and gets rid of the inversion.  That didn't happen this time, and with the inversion stuck here, the conditions were perfect for what happened today.

This is one of the worst days on Utah roads that most people even remember.  I have felt so anxious thinking about family members who had to go to work in this.

Of course, there are the global warming deniers who take a day like today and say, "What Global Warming?"  I happened to see an interesting article just today on what's causing this fierce cold weather.  To make it simple:  Global warning = less sea ice = sudden stratospheric warming event in Arctic = colder, snowier weather in North America and Europe. 

As for me, I made a cup of hot cocoa for some extra comfort this afternoon.  Chocolate for a little lift, and a hot mug to hold onto for comfort.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Raptors - West Warren, Utah

Identifying hawks has not been one of my strengths in the past.  At first they all look the same.  But over the past couple of years I've learned to positively identify the Northern Harrier seen everywhere I go birding, as well as the Sharp-Shinned Hawk that hangs out around my bird feeders.  And, of course, the distinctive little kestrel. So when I headed to West Warren yesterday, I was hoping to see and identify a few new (to me) hawks.  I was in luck.

Not many people even know where West Warren is.  Because I grew up in Ogden, I had actually been there a time or two.  Really, you just take 12th Street from Ogden and go west until you arrive at Little Mountain and can't go any further.  This is about where the Ogden River finds its way to the Great Salt Lake.  It's fenced farmland the whole way, mostly range land really, for cattle and horses.  Lots of flat fields.  There is a wildlife management area out there and I tried to find it, but I found the approach was snow-covered dirt roads.  I knew better than to try to tackle that with my Altima.  I contented myself with staying on 12th Street, and I wasn't disappointed.

I was sure to see Bald Eagles - which I did.   My best photo though, turned out to be this young one in a tree near the road.  I thought at first it was a Golden Eagle, but examining my photos later the ID was unmistakable.

The hawk I saw the greatest number of was this Rough-Legged Hawk.  From a distance, he looks like he's wearing a tuxedo jacket and the head seems darker. The white bib is very distinct
 Here is one hanging out in a tree with the other hawk I identified today, the Red-Tailed Hawk.
 I stopped off at Farmington Bay on the way home, hoping to see owls, and I did see more Rough-Legged hawks there.  But no owls. 
Here is a Red-Tailed Hawk that was kind enough to pose right by the road.  You can tell how rural the West Warren area is by the old wooden telephone poles.  I saw two or three Red-Tailed this day.
 Back at Farmington Bay, I decided to check out a small clump of trees where I had seen pheasants on my last visit, but had not been quick enough to photograph them.  This time I pulled up quietly and parked and waited.  Would you believe, they were there.  Two pair.  This male crossed the road and I got photos through my dirty windshield (so not great).  The other male was in the tree and the females were huddled underneath the tree and hard to see.  I was tickled for these bonus shots.

And the end of the day, looking directly into the sun through the dense haze at Farmington Bay, no mountains visible.  You can see the man-made Great Blue Heron's nests in the distance here.  I walked about a mile on icy, snow-packed roads here.  I was dressed for it and had good boots on.  But with temps at about 18 F, even bundled up, it was a relief to get back to my car.
Today, I'm visiting my sister in Plain City which is right next to West Warren.  While out there, I'm going to try harder to see owls.  I saw one Barn Owl yesterday, but wasn't quick enough to catch him in flight.  They are being forced to hunt by day because of the deep snow and difficulty finding food.  Some are starving.  There's more than one good reason to wish we'd get out of this deep freeze and the snow would starting melting.  We need a January thaw.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sundance - January in Utah

Every January the Sundance Film Festival descends on Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah.  This indie film festival brings in celebrities and thousands of visitors.  It provides some colorful (if sometimes tiresome) relief from the cold, snow, and smog that is ever-present in January.

You would think this would be an exciting time for someone like me - a big movie buff.  But the truth is, I have only viewed a couple of Sundance films actually during the festival over the years.  For one thing, it isn't easy to get tickets.  You have to sign up well ahead of time for a time to buy your tickets.  Before that time comes, you need to review all the available shows and show times.  And then sometimes your preferences are sold out by the time your turn rolls around.  I just hate that whole process.  Especially if you are trying to coordinate with other people who may or may not like the same movies.  We've done it, but sometimes you just have to compromise and go with what's available or what the rest of the group want.  And I'll admit, it has always been fun to attend.  There is such a sense of excitement surrounding all showings in the festival.

But really, I prefer to avoid the hassle and the crowds, and instead, write down the names of any movies that get good reviews.  Then I add them to my Netflix queue -- even if they're not available yet, they just go on a hold list until they do become available.  By adding to the hold list, you let Netflix know this is a film of interest and they are more likely to obtain it if enough people ask for it.  I do the same thing with the Oscars, particularly noting good foreign films.

You see, I don't feel the need to see a movie when it's the latest hot thing out.  If it's a good movie, it will stand the test of time.  Some of the Sundance movies will go mainstream after the festival - low-budget gems that make it to the big time.  And almost all the indie movies eventually become available on Netflix.  I'm willing to wait.  In many cases, they are out a year later.

Our local news noted five former Sundance films that are available now on Netflix  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just some random ones that writer chose to feature.  I may watch one of those.  Two don't interest me much, and two involve phobias of mine: fear of heights and claustrophobia.  I know I couldn't watch those.  But the documentary does interest me and I'll check it out.

The thing I love about indie films is the range and depth of subject matter.  Nothing is formula.  Most are surprising.  That's not to say that every indie is a fantastic movie, or even necessarily interesting to me.  But the choices are great and once you start watching, you're liable to be hooked and may never be satisfied with a blockbuster, big budget (but likely formula) movie again.

I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open.

Friday, January 18, 2013


More angst.  It's not out of my system yet.  Give me a little more time, I think.

Two weeks since I retired and I'm still floating along getting nothing done.  I seem to have caught up on my sleep and am sleeping longer at night; thus not more than one daytime nap is needed now.  I still function best after 4 p.m., my old quitting time.  These days I feel good if I accomplish one thing per day on my to do list.

I've come to realize that a job is an anchor in our lives.  It holds us down and stops us from doing a lot of things we imagine we'd rather be doing.  But there's predictability and security in that anchor.  And there's a certain Stockholm-syndrome-comfort in that.  Once we let loose of that anchor, it sets us off balance.  No-one is telling us what to do.  Every minute of the day is filled with something of our choosing.  And sometimes that's nothing.

It's a huge luxury of time I've never before experienced.  Clearly, it does not matter whether I vacuum today or wait until tomorrow.  And with no more pressing time schedules, I am drifting along, sitting on the couch, playing on the internet, watching TV, eating, and wasting a lot of time.

And maybe I need to do that for a bit.  I'm certainly giving myself a break with this.  But I don't want this to continue.  I'll be bored out of my mind and I'll become huge.  Well, I think I'm becoming both of those.

I blame the weather partly.  It's been a long time since we had such an ugly January with extended sub-freezing temps and the inversion that traps the smog in the valley.   Not to mention the short days.  I know this part will change and I believe I'll wake up more when it does.

And I realize I'm coming off an apparently stressful period.  About six weeks before retirement, when I started training my replacements, my old eye twitch showed up.  I hadn't had that since my previous highly stressful job.  I still have a bit of that twitch a couple of times a day.  I think I've failed to acknowledge how stressful the past few months have been in so many ways.  Another reason to give myself a break.

I've decided to think of this as the first two-week vacation I've had in probably 20 years or more.  Really.  I hadn't thought of it that way before, but my vacations have been snippets for many years.  So now I've had a good long rest from all kinds of work.  But I'm feeling the need to return "home" metaphorically, wherever that may be now.

(And gawd I hope I get over all this angst soon.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Movie Review: Elling

I have revived my "Reel Women" movie review blog and have posted my first review in several years.  Click this link to read my review of the Norwegian film "Elling".  I loved the movie and I gave it five stars.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I get an "F" in retirement -- so far

I suppose it doesn't help that I retired in January.  And that it has an especially ugly weather month so far.  Around Christmas, our temperatures dropped into a deep freeze, and by the new year, the inversion had set in.  My first week of retirement saw first several days of inversion and sub-freezing high temps, with a small break in temps just above freezing before the next storm blew in, taking away the smog, but keeping us mostly homebound for three days with constant snow, cold, treacherous driving.  And seemingly endless snow removal (two feet of snow at my house!).  This immediately is followed by arctic temps with a high today of 14 F, lows this week in the single digits and even below zero.  We won't even reach freezing in the next week.  And the inversion is expected to return in short order as well.  Depressing.

Yesterday, the skies finally cleared, and the bit of sunshine allowed us to get out despite the cold, and replenish food supplies.  In the evening, I noticed a beautiful sliver of moon just setting in the west.  No wonder things seem depressing.  In addition to the weather, it's a time of the shortest daylight hours and this is the week of the new moon with nearly no light from the sky, even when the clouds break, even at night.

Well, I can blame the weather, I guess.  But I'm really disappointed in myself with how I've spent my first week of retirement.  My number one activity (if you can call it that) has been sleeping.  Number two would be watching TV, movies, and internet.  Number three would be eating.  I managed to get the Christmas tree put away, although it took me three days.  I still haven't moved furniture back into place.  I got a couple of loads of laundry done and had sporadic bursts of housecleaning.  I paid a few bills, but have failed to even open most of the mail piling up on the desk..

The one day I got out for some birding was the highlight of the week.  And I did go to my grandson's birthday party the next evening, but left early and had a scary drive home in the snow.

I have largely wasted a whole week.  Maybe I needed to waste a week. Maybe it's a luxury after so many years of needing to be efficient with my time.  But it doesn't make me feel good at all.  It just makes me want to sleep more.

I recognize these are symptoms of depression, and I'll acknowledge that's a possibility, even for a normally upbeat person as I am.  But I think it's situational and will probably pass as the weather improves and as I manage to pull myself together and start accomplishing things.

So I get a failing grade for my first week.  I know I can do better.  I need to wake up.

P.S.  It doesn't help that they screwed up my final paycheck from work, shorting me a sum of money I was expecting to live on until my first SS check in February.  Now they had to back out the direct deposit and will send me a check instead -- next week.  And while I wait on that, congress is threatening to shut down the government and delay my first SS check.  No, I'm far from broke, but I didn't wish to start drawing on my savings so soon.  Grrr.

P.P.S.  The paycheck issue was satisfactorily resolved, if almost a week later.  But that does take some of the worry off.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Utah Snowstorm, January 2013, from Indoors

Still snowing.  The 18 inch total was from Friday at 10 a.m.  Nearly 24 hours later, we've had  5 or 6 more inches.  I have not shoveled since yesterday morning, and it has piled up a lot on the driveway.  In addition, it has turned much colder.  It's 14 F now and we are headed into several days of not even approaching freezing for our high temperatures.  In an hour the snow will or will not let up, as they've predicted.  Either way, I'll go out and shovel because if I let it pile up too much, it becomes too hard for me to remove.  I feel somewhat depressed, admittedly.  Since Christmas Eve, we haven't had one good weather day: we've had storms, sub-freezing temps, and smog/inversion.  My photos today are all from my perspective, looking out the windows and thinking about yet another round of shoveling -- which will not be the last, as lake effect continues to hit the communities along the lakeshore, and then a new wave of storms is expected tomorrow.

I am glad I purchased flowers the one day I went out this week.  I went a little overboard, spending $30 when I might normally spend $5-6 for a small bouquet.  As it turns out, these beautiful flowers are providing much needed cheer in this dismal weather.

I just couldn't resist this amazing orchid.  I will do my best to care for it better than I have previous orchids, and hopefully keep it alive longer.

Almost two feet has piled up in untouched areas.  The storm blew the covers off my patio furniture and they are covered in snow.
 I have bird feeders under the covered patio as well as a bird bath with heated rock.  I'm not even attempting to reach the other feeders for now.
 Icicles are forming along the eaves.
Under the heavy snow, some things are no longer recognizable--like these Pfitzer bushes.
 The street is clear.  The city does a good job with our street.
 From every window, I see how much snow has piled up
 Worst of all, the driveway looks like it hasn't been touched.  I'll go out in an hour.  I'll feel better once it's done.
 From yesterday, the little birds at the feeders under the patio: juncos, house finches, goldfinches, scrub jays, quail.  Today I've had just a few juncos.  I think the rest are waiting, like me, for the snow to stop falling.
I have put a "heated rock" in the bird bath which keeps the water temperature a little above freezing.  The birds seem to appreciate the fresh water with their food.
UPDATE:  11:30 a.m.  Well I got the driveway shoveled again.  Neighbor Nels shoveled out the driveway entrance again (the hardest part).  Neighbor behind did all the walks with the snowblower.  So in all, it only took me about half an hour.  The snow is getting so deep on the sides of the driveway, I almost can't toss the new snow on top.  An ice dam has formed in my ice gutters and it worries me that water will seep under the shingles.  I guess I may not know about damage until all of this melts.
UPDATE 2: 1 p.m.  The sun came out.  And despite all the work and worry, the world looks beautiful from here.  Sunshine has such a way of cheering us up.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Utah Snowstorm, January 10, 2013 (Gandalf)

They name these storms now.  This one's called "Gandalf," though I originally called it "Gandolfo."  It's a big one for most of the state. I'm guessing we got 15 to 18 inches (National Weather Service confirms 18 inches for North Salt Lake).  I had promised to drive the grandkids to school, so I was out shoveling late last night. First picture below is close to midnight. I had help from a neighbor, thank goodness. I was getting ready to go out this morning when I heard on the news they had cancelled schools today. This is a rare occurrence in Utah -- we don't close for snow. But with over a foot of snow in many areas, the snowplows just can't keep up and the risk is too great for school buses, teachers, and others. It's still snowing, but now I can take my time and go out when I'm good and ready. Snow will continue through tomorrow. So much for the weatherman's prediction last fall of a "warmer, drier winter." Hah!

I didn't clear the steps and by morning, the steps were no longer discernible--simply an incline.  I've cleared them since then.
 After the first path down the driveway, I knew what I was in for.
 Finished, looking from the street to the house.
 Here's my neighbor Nels, who help me clear the driveway the first time.
 Finished, looking from the house to the street.
From my living room window at 5 a.m. next morning. We are buried.  I think they sent the snow plow drivers home to sleep for a few hours. But they have made a couple of passes now by 6:30.
We got another 4 inches or so overnight.  I've cleared the driveway again including the heavy slushy entrance where the snowplow pushed snow and mud from the road.  My good neighbor did the upper and side walks once last night and once this morning.  He tried to tackle the front walk,  but it was too deep for his snowblower.  So I shoveled that out by hand.  It's snowing again and expected to continue through sometime tomorrow.  I believe I'm through shoveling until this thing finishes.  I have nowhere I need to go.

Here's the upper walks my neighbor cleared.
 Here's where he got stuck.
 Here's my meandering path meant to be a front walkway.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Smog and Birding

Salt Lake has the worst air in the country right now.  In fact, the air quality is worse than Beijing.  We're in the 11th day of our famous winter inversion that occurs pretty much every January (cold, stagnant air gets trapped in the valleys where pollutants just continue to build up, while clean air and warmer temperatures are found at the higher elevations such as at the ski resorts).  The temperature finally rose above freezing today and I decided I needed to get out of the house.  I headed to Farmington Bay for some afternoon birding.  I saw more people out there than birds.  Everything is frozen solid with very few spots of running water for ducks.  But despite the low numbers and the nasty air, it felt really good to get out of the house.  They are predicting a change in the weather with winds tomorrow to scour out the foul air, and then a big snowstorm charging down on us from the north, with about a foot of snow expected at my house and a return to the sub-freezing high temps.  Well, at least the smog should be gone.

Here are the best photos from today's trip.

Kestrel on a wire.  Looking straight up, the sky looked blue overhead.  I saw quite a few kestrels today.
 Mallards and Pintail ducks talking things over at a tiny spot of unfrozen water.
 Another kestrel, posed nicely against the already snow-laden mountains. 
 A very smoggy day, the view from a small hill looking south at the main dike, you can't see anything of the city or mountains in the background.  Cough, cough.
 A couple of bald eagles in their usual spot.  You can always count on seeing some on this old dead tree.  I saw maybe half a dozen in all today.
 And just some pretty grasses alongside the snow-packed and slick road driving around Farmington Bay.  Some of the other birds I spotted today were several Northern Harriers, some geese flushed by hunters, and a beautiful pheasant pair right by the side of the road (by the time I had my camera ready, they flew and I got one blurry shot of the male in flight).
While out, I got a few groceries and cleaning supplies, expecting to be housebound for the next two days for the snowstorm.  And I bought a bouquet of tulips and a most gorgeous, orchid--a break from being frugal.  The total came to $65, of which $30 was for flowers. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Adjusting, if slowly

It's early on in this retirement thing and I'm already becoming aware of some things about myself.  Not that a couple of days is enough to be definitive.  Only that I can see this will be a much bigger adjustment than I was prepared for.

So far I'm functioning at about 25 percent.  I have been sleeping a lot.  A LOT!  I awaken sometimes at 3 a.m., 5 a.m., 7 a.m.  I may get up, I may not.  I make coffee later in the morning, around 9.  I make some Scrabble moves and solve some Sudoku while still in pajamas.  I shower sometime in the morning -- at least I DO shower!  I may pull a blanket over me and nap on the couch for half an hour.  The napping happens throughout the day.  I have no idea how much total sleep I am getting.  But if I feel like sleeping, I simply do it.  I think I have been very tired for a very long time and really had no idea just how tired.

I have been very lazy.  I let the dishes pile up in the sink for the first three days, and finally cleaned up the kitchen yesterday.  No reason for it.  I like my kitchen cleaned up, so this was rather strange behavior on my part.  I am not eating regular meals.  I would call it foraging more than anything.  This must stop.  I am eating too often and too much.  Today for lunch I ate raw almonds directly from the bag.  Yesterday I ate donuts.

I think my mind and body are totally rebelling against all structure and rules--even my own.  At the same time I keep feeling someone is about to ask me to write this, edit that, send this, work on that, come to a meeting, adhere to a schedule dictated by someone else.  I do think about work, but not as to how they might be getting along without me, but more how I am getting along without it. I have a pile of filing stacked up on my desk--Social Security, Medicare, insurance stuff.  It would take me five minutes to file, but I avoid my office and keep the door closed.  I will at some point have to redesignate the purpose of that room.

Strangely, I am most functional after 4 p.m., approximately my old quitting time.  I get a burst of energy and motivation and suddenly start puttering around the house.  I'm good till about 8 and then I settle in for TV or a movie.  I try to stay up late, but fall asleep on the couch around 10.

Today has been my least sleepy day, and I see that as progress.  But I did forget to put out the garbage for pickup (no big deal, I don't make enough garbage to warrant a weekly pickup--it'll be fine till next time).

I don't feel emotional at all about my behavior.  I haven't had visitors or phone calls and just a few emails.  So I feel I can get away with this for a little while.  Yes, I recognize the need to establish some structure in my day; but for a little while at least, I want to just drift along through some days and just not mind about anything.

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Last Day, My First Day

The last day of the workaday world.  And the question of the day is, "What will you do now? Any big plans? Travel?"  My answer, "No real plans."

The following is my bucket list:
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .

That's right, nothing on the list.  I've never been much of a bucket list sort of person anyway--dreaming of things I might do sometime far off in the future.  The future always seems too far away to me.  I'm more of a short-term person.  I dream about today, this week, this month, and maybe a little later this year.  I have nothing of which to say, "I want to do xyz before I die."

In all sincerity, I feel life has been so very good to me.  Anything after this day is just gravy.  I have loved life.  I have enjoyed life.  I'm not closing the door on any of that.  I'm just getting a seating change--an upgrade to first class, as I see it.

Oh, I have things I want to do, but they are so small as to seem very insignificant in answer to that big question: What will I do?  I'll be busy.  I'll be occupied.  I may even travel -- once in awhile. And I'll write about it in my blog now and then, I'm sure.  Don't expect anything earthshaking -- that just wouldn't be me.

For the rest of my life, I will simply try to do what makes me and others happy.  For me, this isn't my last day.  It's my first day. 

I'm not ready to say how I feel about retirement yet.  I haven't yet experienced any real difference in my usual routine.  Perhaps next week.  And I want to write about the lovely send-off my co-workers gave me, too.  I have so much to process mentally.