Category Archives: Retirement

Reflections on Reading

R and B

A moment to reflect on what reading means to me as this new year, 2017, begins…

It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been three-and-a-half years since my husband and I retired and moved to our beautiful old home in Oregon. Retirement, for us, continues to be an adventure. There are all kinds of things we are enjoying as “retired people” — shopping at Costco when it first opens on a weekday morning; traveling at non-peak times; getting discounts at local restaurants; immersing ourselves in a project without having to wait for the weekend!. Simply put, we love to get up every morning and “set our own agenda,” a phrase my mother shared with us.

I thought my retirement would be filled with lots of extra reading time, but I’m surprised to discover that I’m actually reading less than I did during my busy career years. There are many days now that I’ve been “too busy” doing other things to sit down and read. My time and attention are focused on many different things: gardening, going for long walks, spending time at the gym, knitting, playing Minecraft with the Grandboy.

Oh I still love my reading and it’s a major part of my life.  I’m just not concerned anymore about the numbers of books I read or that there might be books I should read. I read for the joy of it.

May 2017 be a year of joyful reading for all of us!

 

February and March Reading

Time to catch up with myself and let you know what books I have enjoyed reading in the last two months! I am a happy reader these days and my February and March choices reflect my “relaxing retirement reading” … plenty of mysteries, books about gardens and gardening, a sprinkle of classics, and books by favorite authors. My days are filled up and busy with lots of different kinds of activities now, but I still need and love my reading time. It’s just not about how many books I read anymore, but how I much I enjoy the ones I choose!

 

 

A Day in My Life: A Blogging Event

A-Day-in-the-Life-300x300

My blogging friend, Trish, (Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity) is hosting this 2nd annual blogging event. Last year, I so enjoyed reading about people’s lives, but didn’t post about my own. This year, I’m sharing a day in my own life, and will once again enjoy reading about yours!

Two and a half years ago, I retired after teaching for 27 years, and my husband and I moved to a small town in Oregon. The following is my account of a pretty typical day in this retired teacher’s new life.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2016

5:00am:  I wake up at this time no matter what. Inner clocks are incredibly difficult to reset, and even though I’m retired and could sleep-in as long as I want, this is the time my body says to get moving, so I get moving!

5:00-5:45am:  Wake, make a big pot of tea, and read (currently reading my first book by Ann Cleeves, A Bird in the Hand).

tea pot

5:45-6:15am:  Work on my Bullet Journal. One of the joys of retirement is getting up each morning and being able to set my own agenda! Our first year of retirement was pretty unscheduled — footloose and fancy free! Recently, I decided that I needed a little more structure to my day, so I set up my bullet journal and spend time each morning and each evening planning my day and then reflecting on each day. I love this! I’m much more efficient with my time, so I’m getting more reading done, more knitting, taking more long walks, remembering to send birthday cards on time, etc. I’m still setting my own agenda and enjoying my days even more! Delightful!

6:15-7:00am:  This is time usually spent on the computer reading, answering, and sending emails, and catching up on social media. I do a lot on Facebook, which is a nice way to communicate with my Mom and family, and friends and relatives that live near and far.

7:00-9:00am:  I ate breakfast and then got ready for my morning exercise activity. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I go to exercise class at the gym 3 blocks from my house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I meet a very special exercise buddy. My new friend, Gloria, is an 81-year-old runner! I meet her twice a week to walk/run on the hills near her home. I walk, she runs! Because my legs are long and I have a long walking stride, I can keep up with her (most of the time) while she runs. She’s been running for 40 years, and she has become my mentor as I learn to challenge myself and my body more and more. With her encouragement, I have signed up for a summer’s worth of 5k challenges. Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors 6 summer 5k walk/run events, each one at a different local park. My first ever 5k walk will be on May 15th. Gloria will run and I will walk. What fun! Can’t wait!

9:00am:  Back home, shower, get ready for the rest of the day!

9:15-10:30am:  Housecleaning, laundry, menu-planning. It’s been so rainy recently that I haven’t been out in the yard doing some of those morning tasks, but that will change very soon. Today, I swept the front porch to get ready to put out some potted plants soon.

10:30-11:30am:  I signed up for a Craftsy class on “Designing Edible Gardens,” so this morning I spent an hour working on that class. I take notes in my Bullet Journal, where I keep track of all  the planning I’m doing for our 2016 vegetable garden.

 

11:30-Noon:  Prepare lunch. Today’s lunch was a “rice bowl”… brown rice, stir fry veggies (no oil!), cubed tofu, mandarin orange slices, some slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup orange sauce. (Warmed it all up in the microwave.) A simple, but very healthy and satisfying lunch. Two years ago I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and taking 2 blood pressure medications as well as a cholesterol-lowering medication. My new doctor referred me to the Healthy Living department at Kaiser Permanente where I met with a doctor and his nurse who have changed my life! They gave me the information and support needed to change the way I eat.  I have worked hard to change old bad habits and establish a new and healthier lifestyle by eating a completely plant-based diet. The health benefits for me have been enormous. I’ve lost 25 pounds and Kaiser no longer classifies me as obese or pre-diabetic. I no longer take blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medication. “Food is my medicine.” And along with losing weight, I have become much more physically active. I go to exercise class three mornings a week, and meet with my running friend twice a week, so I have a good 1-hour/5 days a week exercise routine. I also go for long walks with my hubby, and ride my bicycle and go hiking when the weather permits.  Simply put, I am feeling better than I have felt in years!

orangericebowl

 

AFTERNOON:

12:30-2:00pm:  Running errands. Fred Meyer, car wash, JoAnn’s for some crafting supplies, and Best Buy to pick up a new exercise tracker to help me do some serious training for my summer of 5k races!

2:15-3:00pm:  Home again. I sat in the recliner, put my feet up, and called my Mom on the phone. I talk with my 96-1/2 year old Mom every day. She lives 800 miles away, but we bridge the distance by having long conversations about health, happenings at her retirement home, and about what we are currently reading. We never get tired of talking about books!

3:00-3:45pm:  Stayed sitting in that recliner and worked on my current knitting project while listening to my current audiobook, In the Wet, by Nevil Shute.

3:45pm:  Stood in the kitchen looking out the greenhouse window at the flock of little birds, the Scrub Jays, and the Acorn Woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeders. I could never get bored looking out that window. There’s a lot of bird (and squirrel and cat) drama to enjoy!

 

4:00-5:00pm:  The Grandboy and his daddy arrived. I was honored with an invitation to join his Minecraft world for awhile!

 

5:00-6:00pm:  I set the table while hubby cooked dinner tonight. He cooked a totally whole foods, plant-based meal for us — Cuban Black Beans. No, he hasn’t given up his meat or cheese (or pastries), but he has been very supportive of my plant-based needs. He likes to cook and bake, so he usually fixes 2 or 3 meals a week (yes, I’m spoiled!). Today, he fixed this one, which is one of our favorites!

6:00-6:30pm:  Dinner.

7:00-8:30pm:  We cleaned the kitchen, and then sat down to watch some TV. We chose a new Nature episode with David Attenborough. Love, love, love David Attenborough!

 

8:30-9:00pm:  Planning and reflection time with my Bullet Journal.

9:00-10:00pm (or so):  Reading in bed until too tired to read anymore. I love this!

Goodnight!

Notes:

** My “retired” days are busy and I love that. Although this has been a day where I mostly described my solo activities, my husband and I do many things together.  When we retired, we started a wonderful tradition of going “exploring” on Wednesdays. We call it our “Wandering Wednesday,” and it started as a way to get to know this new area we moved to. We visit historical sites, botanical gardens, libraries and bookstores, wetlands and forests. We post photos on Facebook for our family and friends to enjoy, and it’s become a delightful highlight of our week.

** I love my new focus on physical activity and healthy living. It just feels so darn good!  A number of years ago I read Reeve Lindbergh’s book, Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age — and Other Unexpected Adventures. In that book, she said that 60 is the “youth of old age.” I am closer to 70 now than to 60, but I feel more youthful today than I did when I turned 60. Although I haven’t always been good about this, I know how important it is, at any age, to take good care of yourself. My mother is a wonderful role model for aging gracefully and healthfully, and I hope I can do as good a job of moving into my elder years as my mother!

**  This is a new stage of life for me that comes with many, many changes, but the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for reading! With retirement, comes much more time to enjoy my books. What a luxury to be able to sit down and read on the front porch or in my favorite indoor spot at any time I want!

porch_photo

My favorite reading spot…

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about “my day in the life.”  Although I don’t post or comment as often as I used to, I still love the blogging community and enjoy visiting your blogs. I love to hear about what you are reading and what is happening in your lives.

Thank you, Trish, for hosting this annual event!

 

Early Morning Cocoon

IMG_0219

I’ve always been an early riser, but one of the pleasures of retirement?… I’ve replaced that early morning get-ready-for-work rush with my quiet cocoon of beauty — filled with words and yarn. Knitting while listening to an audiobook. What an enjoyable way to start a day! This morning I started a new knitting project with this silk yarn (a gift for a beautiful friend) while listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s gorgeous writing in The Poisonwood Bible.

Summer Reading

red_mug

Now that I’m retired, summer reading has taken on a whole new meaning for me. For one thing, my summer is longer with much more time for sitting on the porch and reading. Yay! I don’t have to spend most of June finishing teaching units, grading papers, and writing report cards. I don’t have to take classes in July to update my teaching certificate. And I don’t have to spend days and weeks in August preparing my classroom and going to district teacher meetings. Although I miss my kiddos, I am happy now that I can just enjoy reading on my front porch! And doesn’t that sounds heavenly?!

Hobbit-coverSo I decided to start my “Summer Reading” on June 1st this year with a re-read (this is the 6th time) of an absolute favorite of mine: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

It was early in 1968, having just returned from a year abroad as an exchange student, when I read a reprint of an article by W.H. Auden from The New York Times. It was a review of a series of books by an English author, J.R.R. Tolkien. They sounded so good, I quickly went out and bought all 4 books: The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Those delightful hours spent reading those books set the standard for my summer reading. Total immersion into a different world… Traveling there and back again without having to leave my comfortable summer reading spot… Complete enjoyment of beautiful writing and wonderful creativity…  I would love to recapture some of those delightful reading moments from long ago!

So… I am reading and enjoying, once again, The Hobbit.

By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green…

ORgarden08.5

Hobbit house at the Oregon Garden, Silverton, Oregon…

An FO and Audiobooks

scarf

A late Christmas gift…

In knitter’s language, an FO is a finished object. I don’t have many FOs to share, being a rather slow and formerly very distracted knitter, but I have actually been finishing some knitting projects since I retired from teaching last year. I mean actually starting AND finishing them! While I was working, I was great at starting those special projects, with all good intentions, but very few of them were finished. But nowadays I can focus on a project and see it through to the finish! Hooray!

So, slow knitter that I am…I just finished my son’s Christmas present. 🙂 Late, but finished! I did wrap it up unfinished still on the needles and gave it to him on Christmas, so he has been patiently waiting to receive it again when completed. It’s ready!

And I really enjoyed knitting it, because the yarn was lovely to work on and because I listened to a number of audiobooks throughout the project. So here are the audiobooks that went into the spirit of this very enjoyable project…

A Thanksgiving Audiobook: The Wizard of Oz

anne_hathaway

I am having so much fun listening to the audiobook version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, narrated by the incredibly talented Anne Hathaway! It was already on my listening wishlist, when Audible offered it to me free as a Thanksgiving gift. (If you’d like to listen to a 28-minute excerpt from the book, click here.)

This book was one of my favorite yearly read-alouds when I was teaching. I’m missing those favorites now that I’m retired, so thought that I could give myself a gift of listening to someone else read it to me. Little did I know that Anne Hathaway, with her passionate love for character and acting, would be my reader. I love Audible for gifting me this audiobook, and I’m loving Anne’s fun-filled, energy-packed interpretation of L.Frank Baum’s wonderful words!

On Having Time to Smell the Roses

the_soul_of_the_rose

My husband and I retired in July of this year. We are slowly adjusting to this new stage of life, and are starting to realize that we actually have  time to do some of the things we couldn’t do before. And we have time to get back to some things that we left off because of the frenetic pace of our work lives. For me, that means that I am now able to get back to knitting projects, long walks, some gardening, and the kind of relaxed reading I did before the pace of life got crazy on us. It feels like a reward for all that hard work! It feels like “coming home” again…to myself.

Yesterday, I spent some time looking at the books on our numerous bookshelves. As we prepared to move into our new home in July, we seriously culled our collection of books. We donated almost a thousand books to our local library…but we still have too many books! The ones we still have, however, were worth the pain of packing and loading into a U-Haul, and carting 220 miles to our new home. And it’s a wonderful collection of books to read!

me_reading-sm

So I decided to make a list of books I’d like to read or re-read now that I actually have some serious reading time. I used to love reading the classics, so I’ll start with a list of 50 Classics that have been patiently waiting for me on our bookshelves, and I will put a link to this list on the sidebar of my blog. In all honesty, I won’t promise to write a review of each book I read, but I’ll provide a link to any reviews I write and a date-finished for those not reviewed.

What a delight to have some time to ‘stop and smell the roses’…and, in my case, to get back to more reading!

My 50 Classics List:

Alcott, Louisa May Eight Cousins
Alcott, Louisa May Rose in Bloom
Allende, Isabel The House of the Spirits
Alvarez, Julia In the Time of Butterflies
Adichie, Chimamanga Ngozi Half of a Yellow Sun
Austen, Jane Persuasion
Austen, Jane Sense and Sensibility
Baum, L. Frank The Sea Fairies
Berry, Wendell Hannah Coulter
Bowen, Elizabeth The House in Paris
Bradbury, Ray Dandelion Wine
Bronte, Anne The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall
Bronte, Charlotte The Professor
Buck, Pearl S. Sons
Buck, Pearl S. A House Divided
Burnett, Francis Hodgson The Land of the Blue Flower (read November 2014)
Cather, Willa Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chandler, Raymond The Big Sleep (read February 2016)
Chesterton, G.K. The Innocence of Father Brown
Collette Claudine’s House
Conrad, Joseph The Secret Agent
Dahl, Roald The BFG (read October 2014)
Dickens, Charles Three Ghost Stories
Dinesen, Isak Winter’s Tales
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
du Maurier, Daphne My Cousin Rachel
Durrell, Gerald Marrying Off Mother, and other stories
Gibson, William Neuromancer
Godden, Rumer Coromandel Sea Change
Graham, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows (read January 2014)
Greene, Graham Travels with my Aunt
Grey, Zane The Rainbow Trail
Gunther, John Death Be Not Proud
Hardy, Thomas A Pair of Blue Eyes
Holtby, Winifred South Riding
Hudson, Henry Green Mansions
Jewett, Sarah Orne Country of the Pointed Firs
Kipling, Rudyard The Jungle Book
Kundera, Milan The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Mahfouz, Naguib Arabian Nights and Days
Malraux, Andre Man’s Fate
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia One Hundred Years of Solitude
Pyle, Howard The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Pym, Barbara Some Tame Gazelle
Pym, Barbara No Fond Return of Love (read November 2014)
Remarque, Erich Maria All Quiet on the Western Front
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye
Sandburg, Carl Rootabaga Stories
Smith, Betty A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Twain, Mark The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

NOTE:  I noticed that many of my blogging friends have lists of Classics on their blogs, too. Investigating, I discovered The Classics Club, and since this list is right in line with that self-challenge, I will provide a link to that site even though I haven’t joined up yet.

classicsclub-1 .

Keeping Me Busy

reading M.S

This is the book that’s keeping me busy this week. I’d like to be able to finish it within the time frame of Anbolyn’s “Mary Stewart Reading Week,” but it’s taking me longer to read than I anticipated. Could be that our trip to the Portland Japanese Gardens, going out for lunch two days this week, plus starting a new knitting project have all interfered a bit with my reading time. My niece calls those things #retiredpeopleproblems !

Overwhelmed, but still reading…

fast_motion

Life in fast motion…

My life right now is an interesting combination of a rushing blur of activity interspersed with stop-motion moments of beautiful, crystal clarity. My husband and I are preparing to retire at the end of this month and move to our beautiful new old home in Oregon. Making that happen is an enormous undertaking while finishing up our careers, selling our condo, and saying “goodbye” to dear friends and colleagues. OVERWHELMED is an understatement. But it’s all good, [our mantra throughout this time of stress] and we are excited and looking forward to beginning this new stage of life.

So, although life is crazy-busy right now, I am still reading (little bits at a time), and listening, and reading aloud to my Second Graders. Here are the reading delights of the last month: