Showing posts with label retirement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label retirement. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2013

Made in the USA

When I hear laments  about how nothing is made here in this country anymore, or that all the jobs went overseas, etc. I often ask the people  what brand of car they drive, or brand of  TV or receiver, cell phone and how often they shop at Wal Mart, Dollar Stores, Target etc,  because there is part of the reason. We have become a country of over consuming whining commentators about the circumstance to which we have all contributed.  Consumer demands for more and more, bigger, better, newer and above all, Cheaper prices have led us just to where we are today.  Then don't even get me started on unions and their greed, demanding ever higher wages for less skills and less production and well, it does not take a genius to see what has happened.  

I try to buy Made in the USA (except for shoes made in Italy when I can find them) which means I buy fewer  things and often pay more for an item, but really in our retirement life, I need less so have diminished what was a big past time for me years back, shopping and grazing the aisles.  Of course online shopping can be done easily in the comfort of home and pj's but being an old school kind of gal, I like to see, feel, touch and observe what I might buy.  I use to excel at browsing, one never knows what they need unless they look.  I admit to purchasing frequently on Amazon, QVC and other online sites, but still get more satisfaction from the in person experience.  I like thrift type stores and decent craft shows, gravitating to "vintage" goods and or something made by someone with whom one can speak about the merchandise. While not particularly wild about goods, made in China, I have purchased them and sometimes the quality is amazingly good.  

Labels from new chair  cushions
When we are traveling we do a lot of shopping at Wal Marts which are handy with usually easy access off interstates and have ample parking for our big rig motor coach.  But here at home, I avoid WalMart.  However last Saturday, we were out and about and Jerry suggested we stop at Wal Mart because they carry the type of anti itch cream he uses at the cheapest price.  While there I decided to browse for new cushion for the new kitchen chairs.  I approached that aisle with my nose in the air, surely there is nothing, because I do not want "made in China."  I was astonished to see exactly what I was looking for, cushions with rubber gripper bottoms that do not slide and in color tones I liked.  Even more pleasantly astonished that the cushions were Made in the USA and of recycled materials.  And being Wal Mart the price was certainly cheap enough.  Victory, new cushions for the new chairs which are solid wood, that quickly tires the butt when sitting on them unless cushioned.  To find Made in the USA in Wal Mart was quite the deal for me.  Don't get me wrong, I am not anti Wal Mart by any means, they provide jobs and bargains  but I just try to support Made in America as much as I can. 

The temporary kitchen table and chairs
2004--2013
I am a fussy, very particular shopper, too which is why it took three years for me to find replacements for our kitchen table and chairs, but  find it we did at a new local furniture store to this area, HOM furniture. HOM handles a great variety of goods and some is imported as well as Amish made, imported from Indiana and  locally made. Criteria for replacement was fold down sides as it is in a small area and we liked that feature on the old set which we bought "cheap"  for something temporary in 2004 when we were still not living here full time.  Right, 6 years of "temporary."  I also did not like the bistro styles with high chairs and tables; I am short and do not want to use a step stool to climb up to a chair in my kitchen and then have my feet dangling.  When we bought the temporary set which has a mightily battle scarred top worn from Jerry there were many and plenty of these side fold down sets around. But today not so.  We use this seating for the two of us and it is just right, ala Goldilocks.  When we have others here we use the dining room table.  Let me introduce here the 2013 replacement, which has grown on me.....I would have preferred plain wood, not the painted black but all in all it is a substantial set and the temporary is downstairs right outside the door from Jerry's gym room and work spot, where it replaced an old card table that has been there since we moved in 2005.  
2013 new kitchen set

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Senior slips or fidgety blips

The phone rang as I was checking one last thing on the computer, right  afterwards I'd  venture out into this grey dreary day for a walk.  I  have nearly conquered this cold that has bothered me a  few days and am really  missing my physical activities while my body demanded a couple days rest to recover.  We are waiting word from a roofer and the contractor  who did our addition in 2007 about a seeping in the roof line over the guest bedroom,  that happened some time ago, we are not sure when but noticed a spot on the ceiling when we had the windows washed this month.  Lots of things going on, but I am used to juggling  many things at once, being a multi tasker driven sort while Jerry is a one thing at a time no rush kind of guy.  I might have known it would be this kind of a day when  I immediately began to gather clothes for a washer load, as I walked out to the kitchen this AM.  Usually I first get a big glass of water, take my meds, and  make a cuppa, but with the cold and sore throat I've  resumed hot tea instead,  likely I am lacking caffeine alertness. 

As soon as I answered the phone and heard Barb, the dental  hygienist who cleans my teeth every six months say, "Pat I expected to see you an hour ago?", I shreiked "OH NO"   I completely forgot my dental appointment  which might not sound like that big of a deal but it is bugging me.  I had to call their office to confirm this appointment a couple weeks ago; it was on my calendars on my  tablet and smart phone, neither of which I use much or look at  while at home and it was on the kitchen calendar which I walk by mindlessly entering the kitchen.  Jerry sits right near the calendar reading the daily newspaper with his morning coffee and usually looks at it and can remind me of things but he said nothing today either.  Well Barb laughed to hear I had just flat blanked out and said, "senior moment?" Because I never miss my appointments, she called to be sure I was alright.  We rescheduled for a couple of weeks from now and I circled the day in red on the kitchen calendar....now I have to look at it.  

I  Googled and reaffirmed what I  have learned that such things can just happen; here's a  link to interesting info on  a Psychology today website.  http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/p/forgetting.htm

Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve and Study
Forgetting like this or being absolutely mindless may seem no big deal, but to me whose Mom had Alzheimer's, I  worry.  I think many of us aging pre and  baby boomers worry about dementia, memory loss, and certainly the big A more than other generations.  We have seen more of it and are more aware.  Jerry shrugged and counseled, "well it's not fatal, no one died, go on about your day, be happy."  I did leave for my walk, out into the misty grey to clear my cobwebs and I started to hum  "don't worry, be happy" the old Bobby McFerrin . Released in September 1988, it became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the  Billboard 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. It was a philosophy I never quite adopted but here it came back clear as a song.  

Maybe I shouldn't worry about my senior moment so much or is it a blip from my fidgety?  Must I begin to pay better attention, one thing at a time?  Certainly  I must look at that calendar each morning first thing.  Here in retirement I make my own schedule but live a rather uncomplicated routine.  Deliberate forgetfulness or mindlessness?  I have  heard that simply forgetting is nothing to show concern  about unless it becomes routine and or unless one does not immediately recall when reminded, as I did in horror today.  That's my Halloween fright 2013 style. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Time and pens in retirement

 "Retirement that will be the time of our lives, wait and see" my colleagues and I often pondered how great it would be, no more early AM commutes, no more bureaucratic and legislative meetings, no more long hours when we didn't know  when we'd get home, no more canceling our vacations to take care of ever constant program emergencies:  we anticipated having all the time to do all we wanted without intrusions.  In reality time is a  4 letter word, an evasive wisp, and if not guarded oh so carefully and jealously, it will be tinkered with by others, stolen one moment at a time, accessed by intrusions, from others who would take our time.. 

This past week, I once again rejoiced that  I have time, now, being retired so I can spend my time chasing around and following up on what does not happen as planned or promised.  I spent several hours on the phone following up about RX insurance cards that had not arrived on time with the change in our health care supplemental coverage.  Not that we had changed plans because we get  a good deal through my former employer, but the system was being changed.  No longer one card, we'd have two, one for all  medical except for RX drug coverage and a separate for drug coverage.  Welcome to Obysmal health care, more government control, more paperwork, more mess, more things that will not work.  One card arrived, mine not Jerry's.  After online attempts, which are usually my first choice, I  resorted to phone.  I learned after finally reaching a human being on the phone after looping around their system five or six times, spinning  the merry-go-round,  that the check is in the mail, not all went out in the same batch, our system needed more adjustment time than planned and on it went.  I feel sorry for those who "man" the phones, call center staff, they don't screw up the works but they get to explain it to unhappy creatures, like me, the customers. 

Another time waster  was from  XM Sirius, the purveyor of our satellite radios.  We like our satellite radios, it allows us to listen to programs traveling where we otherwise would not get reception.  And at home we tune in to Tom Sullivan on Fox Talk radio.  We enjoy Tom, knew him back in California.  But when I  go t in my SUV on Wednesday channel 126 was gone, a recording suggesting other channels.   No longer on the air.  After I returned home and got on line I learned  that  yes indeed XM radio had dropped one of my favorite channels.  Grrrrr, I am an unhappy customer, same rate less of what I want to hear.  So I called to express this frustration.  Their call center mysteriously named "Listener care"to hires people who cannot understand nor speak English very well.  I hate that, I live in America not South America, I want to hear and speak to someone who understands.  Too bad for me, likely my problem, I must be a bigot of some kind for even thinking that.  After one patronizing "listener" repeated to me "don't you worry that's why you called here...." That's the English translation which came out as "dooon u wareeee" I explained to her in very plain English, "I am not worried,  I am annoyed, I am angry."  then following her  script, she offered me a free radio just for calling, all  I had to do  was pay shipping...WTH?    I told her that I did not want a radio, I have perfectly good radios.  I wanted the channel back that they dropped.  She repeated, "don't you worry I will feex it...."  I lost hope.  I asked if I could speak to someone who could understand me.  She said she would "see,  now don't you worry,"   put me on hold and after a few minutes I hung up.  I know I'm retired, nothing better to do but be the hostage to the phone....I called back and expressed my outrage again which they assured me they were recording. Well isn't that special?  After the phone fiasco  I  sent an online protest and an email to which they promptly responded, "A representative will be in touch with you...."  I don't want a representative, I want Channel 126 back, period.  I have done all the complaint lodging I will do.  We will likely cancel our XM subscription for both radios, the portable which we take in the motor home on travels and the one in my SUV.  I suspect this may have been a deal with the FCC to approve the XM Sirius merger last year, nah that wouldn't happen in America would it? 

For my favorite pens time is up refills needed 
I also spent time this week  in Office Depot  and  another office supply store while feeling like a throwback to the stone age.  I go to those places to buy thumb drives, computer paper, computer chairs, maybe a printer, but do not attempt to get a "refill for a pen."   People, those who work there look at you strangely, like "where are you from?"  One young man carefully explained to me that pens are all disposable and do not need to be refilled in a tone that conveyed mighty questions about my sanity or my knowledge.  Well I know I have disposables too, but I have 4 pens in particular that I love, they are in the photo above, I have had them for many many years.  And finding refills, each one different and not the normal Dr. Pilot kind of plastic refill, is a search.  The blue  pen and pencil set, two bottom ones in the photo with my initials inscribed in gold were a gift from Mom  over 30 years ago; she and Barney must have gotten some sort of deal  from the local jeweler and chose to gift them to me, and while  I gushed over them to her, all the while wondering, I have come to cherish them over the years.   I love the feel of them in my hand.  I have plenty of lead for the pencil, but the pen has been empty for  many months.  The white pen is about 35 years old,  very special to me, another gift this from a friend  who is not on the planet, but who is always in my heart.  The biggest , 2nd from the top in the photo,  could double as a weapon because it is very heavy and it is just perfect for writing.   I wait and wonder where I will find refills each time they need them, all three are different  making it a triple challenge.  All three are now out of ink because I set them aside one at a time until later on when I have time to go looking around for refills.  Well the time has come and now the fun begins.  Perhaps on our travels I will stumble across an established  store for  people like me who still use non-disposable pens.  The time has come, the search is on.  My pens need ink.  

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us all about time,  "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant......"  So here you have it time, the universal measurement limited or in abundance, it serves many and goes along without regard to our human striving to keep it.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How did I function in a professional career for 34+ years

I ask myself that question because tomorrow AM I should arise about 6:45AM for a medical, , appointment to which they request my presence 15 minutes ahead of the appointment time and to which I will be driving across the river, a mere 10 miles but nevertheless not just up the hill in our little town.  I groan because this means use of an alarm clock to awaken me before I am likely to be ready to depart the covers. I have become allergic to alarm clocks in retirement.   I"m ever so comfortable in getting up when I am good and ready, which is usually around 8:00AM when Jerry who has been  up for awhile returns to the bedroom to check in on me  inquiring if I intend to greet the day and grace the morning with my presence. I remind him that for  so many years I had a much earlier  wake up call than he did; he was just thinking of arising as I left.  This is now my turn so I have this phobia of arising before he has been up and around.   

It took me over a year into retirement to shake my habitual 4:30 AM risings endured for the commute all those years.  Gradually I phased  to sleeping mornings until 5:30, then 6:00 and finally 7:00.  But now for this  winter I have surpassed my own hopes and mastered an  8:00 sleep in.  But then why not, this is the beauty of this phase of life, I can operate on my own schedule not the alarm clocks.  


In a moment of unawareness I booked this appointment for 8:30 AM when it could have been much later in the day.  So here I am  in my  years of freedom from work and very resentful of anything that interferes and inflicts a wake up call on me , even when it is of my own making.  It makes me laugh, how did I do that for so long?  Well, I often found a dark seat on the commuter bus and slept the morning commute into downtown Sacramento, and I  used mass transit as much as I could, so preferable to sitting on those bumper to bumper California freeways. Today we live in an area with minimal traffic so that is not a concern, and most places are 10 to 15 minutes at most from my garage door to inside wherever I am going.  About the only complication can be the winter white weather, fluffy snow which has now returned to create a Minnesota winter wonderland.  Roads and highways are clear, but there is care to be taken.    


I found this blog link today in between computer "chores"  by a blogger who knows just what I'm talking about with retirement time and spurts and how life changes.... what caught my eye was the "Time Wasters"  tab http://marlisep.webs.com/


I also found a more opinionated, inspirational blog site suggesting what we ought and ought not to do in retirement,  way too ambitious  for me, but I do appreciate that someone went to the keyboard to solidify what I do automatically, like not spending my time with people I don't enjoy.   http://postworksavvy.com/2011/06/08/are-you-making-each-day-count-strategies-to-ensure-you-keep-growing/   


What I like most about retirement is the freedom to float along and not schedule myself hither an yon, not planning moment by moment but having float time.  Lollygagging, dabbling, I have almost perfected those arts.  Yes, I do have many hobbies and accomplish tasks, but when someone asks, "what are you going to do the rest of the day?" I am mostly mystified.  Huh? Did I miss something?  I worked all that time so that I could amble and even this attitude took a few years to adjust into.  But I have mastered it. 

I hate alarm clocks...
I spent six hours today at the computer on genealogy research, and scanning photos which I enjoy as well as financial analysis on our "investments" which is not quite so enjoyable but a necessity.  Of course I had the freedom to wander around and interrupt myself which I do readily.  I recall wishing I could "work at home" in my  p j's during career years telecommute the staff called it but  my profession/position  did not lend to that, nevertheless  I held that fantasy.  Well, now I can say it is  good thing I did not have that opportunity--it surely would not have worked for someone like me who can be easily distracted by herself.  And to think, I   closed my office door to minimize the bureaucratic interruptions between meetings and  more meetings back  then...Hmm.....life has changed, how did I not only function back then, but  function rather successfully which affords today's lifestyle  I  ponder, "how did I do that."  And another thing, "how did I even have time to work, because I seem to waste more time now than I could ever have dreamed of whiling away back in the day.....Truly I have overcome!


Well, so here I have done it again, sat at the keys and shared my thoughts with whoever happens by....what's your schedule these days,  like it  or not?     

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From Nordstroms to Dollar Stores and WalMart

It  has  just occurred to me again, as several times here in retirement land, how different things have become from my frantic  career professional days.  Today I have joined the ever increasing numbers of folks who browse the Dollar Stores searching for unknown bargains.   I shun most trinkets  in the Dollar Stores, made in China, but finding brand names like  Kleenex, Scrubbing Bubbles,  even Suave for $1 encourages me.  I notice locally the stores are filled with the college kids and many others as well, a far cry from CA where the yuppies wouldn't look twice.  Here in the Midwest where the economy seems far ahead of the left coast, people  are more cognizant of getting the most out of the dollar.

Jerry said years ago that I had become the queen of Walmart on our RV travels.  Well sometimes we do pull our   motor home into  a WM parking lot for a quick and free overnight stay and then it is very convenient to go inside and pick up a few items.  I have learned that merchandise can vary across the country, for example in New Mexico the attire was  bright and ornamental, appealing to the Hispanic populations. 

How different my world is today!  Back in my career days I had a personal shopper at  Nordstroms who would call me for the best sales, newest suits, wardrobe updates.  And I usually always bought something from the attire she had ready for my trying on.  Today J C Penney's and good old Wal Mart carry most of what I buy with an occasional trip to Herberger's or Macy's.  But today knit tops,  tank tops, shorts, jeans, capris and utmost casual attire  are my preferred garb.  It's way cheaper!  Even then I sometimes ponder, "I could sew this  for less"

Heck today I even get to Curves, bike around town for errands or take off in our motor home as right now without a drop of any makeup, lipstick, mascara or eyeliner, just my trusty lip balm.  Used to be at least I swabbed on the  mascara and eyebrow pencil, now, I feel perfect freedom to go as I am.  I never would have done this before in CA when I always  made sure I applied  mascara, liner and shadow to run to the grocery store!

Before we moved I donated so many women's clothes and shoes  to the women's shelter in Auburn for which  our church held an annual clothing drive event.  After we moved and more of the same attire sat in my closet I donated even more to a local similar place where clothing is free to women needing a hand and entering the job market.  I have not bought a suit since 2003!  I retired in 2004.  I have retained one  black and one  navy suit and a few of the fabulous knit ones that I became fond of, Weekender brand which was washable, saving lots of $$  on my weekly drycleaning.  Actually most of my working attire is all gone, but then I lost weight and trimmed down too so much no longer fit well. 

These thoughts just came meandering by at how my life has changed in retirement.  From Nordstroms to the Walmart and  $Dollar store!  I have become fascinated by the Dollar Stores across the country as there are  variations in offerings depending on region, too.       Another  find and favorite is my  local Aldi grocery stores with limited selection, but very good prices; when we travel we frequent an Aldi's when we can as well.  To think I shunned it for a long time because they charge 25 cents for the cart, refundable when the cart is returned to it's place, saving them loss of carts in parking lots.  Besides Aldi's has the very best European dark chocolate candy bar!  Finding bargains was not always on my mind but now I have become almost in an obsessive  contest with myself  in how much I can save!  Things change in retirement for sure.