Monday, January 23, 2012

Being calm that having a job is not the end game

We have been retired for more than a year. There is constant, underlaying factor in our retirement. Maybe,  just maybe, one of us should have a paying job. 

Both of us are employable. We could return to our fields and gain employment again. It wouldn't be overly difficult. We both get offers.

What is the purpose of working outside of the home for us? Time filled with meetings and paperwork. We would have more community- but not necessarily of our choosing.

What do we do when we are home? Hobbies, travel, talk to family on the phone, watch the hawks migrate. Working means we would not be able to pull the boat to the lake on warm summer days!

Do you ever feel that pull?
Like you SHOULD be working?
Do you feel that "Protestant work ethic" that someone not engaged in commerce is wasting time?

Sunday Night Chit Chat

I am joining Carla in her Sunday Night Chit Chat
What are you...
I finished The Queen's Rival and picked up Stealing Mona Lisa

Downton Abbey
Also the election news

Listening to?
Celtic music. I also enjoyed some Hawaiian music today

A pot roast with blue and red potatoes

Happy you accomplished this week?
An interesting IEP

Looking forward to this week?
Working with some students
Talking to my family

Thankful today?
That I am loved, cared for, and live in the 2000's
There are so many who live with less- even nobility of an earlier time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Four generations

We will descend upon my mother's new place in five weeks.
No longer in a house large enough for us to sleep on floors and couches
We will, for the first time, stay in a hotel.

Fortunately the hotel is across the street from mom's.
We plan on getting her on the scooter and having her drive to our place.
I am envisioning the boys- 61, 26, 25 and 4- trying to outdo each other on the scooter
While mom and the girls -81,54, 28 and 23 - laugh.

Mountains vs hill,
Parts of the country to settle,
Buying houses
and Dora the Explorer
Will all be explored.
Having mom in the mix will be delightful and intriguing.
Discussion and debate has always been the hallmark of my family.
The great grandchild will learn from the pro
(even though he can talk a blue streak already).

Spending time with my mom is time well spent.
Getting my children in one place is a miracle.
Spending time with all four generations is...a priceless memory.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Things are different for our kids.

My husband and I are from entirely different lives.
I grew up in a sales household.
He grew up in services.

In sales
you worked hard every day.
You made contacts.
You ate lunch and played tennis with those people.
When they needed (in our case) a car
they came to us.
We provided maintenance at a good price
We towed you in the middle of the night if you called us.
Really, all sales are the same, we just sell different things.
You relied on your self (with a bit from the company)
to see you through.

My family made a good living off of sales
and my grandfather and father invested well
in land, in equities and in the city
It has paid off and they are cared for in retirement.
As they passed they left various things to their children
and grandchildren.

In services
you worked hard every day.
You learned your techniques and administer them.
You make sure your boss was happy.
You had much less potential to make loads of money.
You relied on pensions and smaller savings to see you through retirement.

In my husband's case,
his father was a plumber
in some of the first nuclear plants in the US.
He worked 30 years at the same place.
When he retired- he DID get a gold(plated) watch and a pension.
He checked the boxes, lived a frugal life
and died leaving his children a small inheritance.

Fast forward to today.
Pensions for services are being protested by the general public.
They are being dismembered.
Salaries have to go up
in order for those people to put away money
for their retirement.

Sales are quickly being dried up by the internet
Sales people are accepting less money for their job
because there are many more people willing to do it for less.
They ask for the percentage compensation of the past
just to keep even.

Things are changing quickly.
What do you think the future holds for our children?
How about our grandchildren?
What will their mid to elder age look like?
All I know is
things are going to be different!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Long marriages/Divorce

Today the news that a long time blogger is getting a divorce.
Most saw it coming a while ago, still it is sad. (

Once we hit the twentieth year of marriage,
we started to see many long marriages cave.
Putting on my historical cap- I wondered.

Marriage for "love" is a pretty new concept.
Arranged marriages are still the norm in most of the world.
Somehow, we Western Europeans and Americans have in our heads
that one person is going to make us complete for the rest of our lives.
So short sighted.

Marriage was, and still is in most of the world, a way to unite families.
To unite and keep wealth and power.
To protect children and their eventual wealth and power
so the elders would not be left to themselves in misery of growing old.
Religions were used to make marriages "stick".
Vows were simple and in front of family.

My mother's generation used to talk about " marrying up".
Hers was the first generation of divorce - in great numbers.
Women, who had been misinformed
that their role was to care for -----whatever
often were left in the dust as a cuter, faster woman took her place.
 Men left the scene to "find love" in another place.
Women soon gained education and joined the workforce.

Men are no longer an issue since women can support themselves
and have children without them.
sounds hard core- but I am hearing that from the next generation.

As we have seen our friends and families struggle through staying together
we have witnessed a variety of ways to handle the inevitable stage of growth-
one person is growing quickly and the other is settled on being who they are.
Separation, instead of divorce, is becoming a well used tool.
Wealthy women used to go on Grand Tour of Europe
now they get a job in another country.
Still, the connection is not lost.

Most of our friends have chosen to stay together.
 Maybe it is peer support.
Maybe it is because of vows.
Maybe it is simply because we know each other well
and we know that we can grow together again.
Those who have chosen to divorce----
they really did not have the desire to be together at all.

When we see men leaving- without a spouse waiting
we often shake our heads.
Sure it looks like the dating scene is fun
but it isn't.

Unless there is a great desire for a new partner,
I don't see the need to end a marriage.
I may be traveling here and there-
but eventually, sitting by a fire with my loved one
in my older age is exactly where I want to be.

Think long term!

In this generations' speak
most millionaires (who did not inherit their money) are married
to their first spouse.
Getting rich may slow down for JD....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Taking out old things start again

I have always said that I collected artists.
Something about their creativeness draws me in.
My grandson knows that my favorite museums are filled with art.

For thirty years we have "carried" wood working tools.
We put much of it in storage when we lived in Hong Kong, Hawaii and Saudi Arabia.
It returned to our position in our first semi retirement home.
It never really found a place to be out in the open.
Now they own the barn.
They are making their appearance known.
First there was a sword holder for our son
We have four new doors- cedar and oak.

A small box for my sewing has appeared

This week our daughter's new dining table got a tent while it was being glued together.

An artist friend of mine passed through 
and saw a kinship with my husband

This man- with a growing white beard
is an artist 
I never really knew.

What is something you are seeing for the first time
or even what you have seen
but have not admitted seeing?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Slow cooking

Pull out that crock pot.
There are so many good meals waiting for you.

An easy start?
Two chicken breasts and two drum sticks
An onion sliced - not diced
Uncooked carrots- cut in chunks
Potatoes- we do small reds cut in quarters
Drained can of black beans
A bottle of our favorite Mexican sauce
4- 6 hours at low.

Stew meat- quickly browned
Root vegetables- your choice Potatoe,carrot,turnip, onion, Garlic(3 cloves minced)
A can of drained Northern beans
1 T virgin oil
Can of diced tomatoes (often flavored with herbs)
Some red pepper flakes
My husband puts in a bottle of beer and Worcester sauce - several tablespoons.
6 hours at low- can go all day.

Last? My dauter's
several boneless pieces of chicken
An 8 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
A small can of pineapple
4-6 hours

We used to cover the meat with liquid
Slowly we let go of it
We were really boiling the meat.
My sister puts no liquid I at all
As long as there is fat on the meat.

My daughter makes lazagna in the pot

I love my crock pot and use it several times a week.
Cooking is not tough
I'll be putting up a few more ideas soon.

Do you have a crockpot easy to share?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Travel? Cheap? Not so much!

How do people travel for so little?
Maybe they spent loads of money in their former life
and ended up with thousands of frequent flier miles.
Who says owning a small business is a bad thing?
Otherwise, seeing is believing!

One can spend time watching airlines play their price games.
American can actually change prices over $100 dollars in less than a day!
Southwest promises loads- but only if you live in their favorite cities.
Jet Air
New York to Paris for $210 (plus $530 in taxes).
And then there is Allegiant
They can fly you anywhere within 100 miles of a real city
unless you are headed to one of their hotels in Vegas or Orlando.
What a deal!

Now for a car.
Again a game.
Budget put out a $9.00 special.
Of course that was on alternating Saturdays.
One can still book and pay ahead.
Going to Phoenix?  $76 for the car and $56 for the taxes.
Will they ever stop?

Carry on or check it?
Are you a minimalist?
Can you get away with one extra shirt and pants?
Do you REALLY need to change your undies every day?
Maybe you can slip on one of those 100 pocket vests
and just weigh 300 lbs when you get on the plane.
What is a mere $30 a bag each way, anyway?

Taking a chance on a Hotwire hotel?
How many stars?
Do the stars mean the same thing in Vegas as they do in London?
How about Timbuktu?
If I bid  will there really be a bed for $29.99?

And that new passport.
$165. per person!

Who said that travel was cheap?
They are either sleeping on someone's couch
or they are hiding the fees
from themselves
to feel better!

My sarcasm drips.
We will travel in 8 weeks.
It has been a long time in coming.
It will be one that needs to last in our hearts.
For our pocket book cannot afford
to be taken  traveling very often anymore.

Art and life

What is she thinking?
Why is her heart showing?
What can she teach me?
Why is it important?
Is she sadly waiting?
Is she waiting for a warm summer day?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Money priorities

The reality is that no matter how much money we bring in, there has to be a priority of spending. Like the Andy Warhol painting, putting together this list can be hair raising- if not intimidating.

This is what we came up with after tracking expenses for a year.

1. We do not have a mortgage. That was a plan we made when my husband turned 40.
                By his 50th birthday we were mortgage free.
       We do have taxes and insurance.
Kansas does not lower taxes on property when you turn 60.
We have a house tax and insurance bill that is, currently, 15% of our income.
If you add taxes and insurance for our cars and boat it goes up to 22%.
         Those bills come twice a year.
In order to be ready, we save 22% off the top of every income check.
It goes into a "touch it and you might die" account at the bank.

2. Our food allowance is pretty substantial.
        We choose to eat well. We don't eat LOADS, but we don't skimp.
         Our food allowance for both eating in and out is about 18% of our income.
         Food prices are soaring here. Our last bill was 10% more than normal.
         We may have to start cutting fun foods out for a while until it stabilizes again

3. Utilities are becoming more and more unpredictable.
         Cable, phone, internet and water are stable at 6%.
         Electricity is very unstable at 8% right now---and ever growing.
         If it grows much more- cable will disappear.
         Netflix comes out of our allowances....which will be discussed later.

4. We travel ALOT.
          We only travel on money we make outside of our normal income.
          That will probably begin to change this year.
           I am thinking 5% of our income will go to travel.
           This does not include the gas for around here-
             which is currently about 5% of our income.

5. House repairs, car upkeep and fixes are staying steady at 7% of income.
           Including the tools to snow blow or cut grass.
There is another fund that has 5% of the income
     for major !ow! expenses- like a roof or a stove.
            We just bought a car.
            I don't think we will need a new one
            before my husband is on Social Security in 3-5 years.

6. Charity is about 5% right now.
      I am looking at ways to tithe my time and talent so I can feel closer  
          to the amount that I feel we should be giving.

7. Poochies are about 3%. Darn, those vet bills certainly rack up!

8. Presents and family "things" are about 3%.

9. The last 13% has always been our allowance. The allowance is given every two weeks. I usually use mine for clothes, hair and travel.  He uses his for wood and tools.   Nexflix is evenly divided.

We are considering cutting back to 10% of our income for allowance so we can save 3%. My husband makes a good argument for not doing that since we have a good nest egg and have not touched it... That nest egg has only made about  50 cents in the last we are not keeping up with inflation there. I don't see us using our nest egg for many, many years.

Decisions, decisions!
I still have my hair
although it often looks like Andy's these days!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

At 82- my mom is having fun!

There is a huge phobia in our society about "nursing homes". I am here to say that the entire model of nursing home of the last 50 years- a place to stuff and forget parents/ elderly- is slowly being eclipsed by elder care independent care facilities. Well off seniors are flooding to these types of places. Surprisingly, there are almost as many men as women. They are small towns with community stores, easy access to transportation (private cars for hire), and brain activities (large print libraries, revolving art collections, group trips to the theater/ theater in, movies, social gatherings in open areas,card tournaments and computer workshops). If one deems it necessary to go from family for elder years, this is the place most people would choose. My mother did not turn into a five year old who likes bingo because she turned 80!

My mother has spent the last eight years grieving. First three was taken up by my father dieing. Te next five being stuck in place, afraid to leave her house for fear of losing her independence- and her life.
She moved to a Baptist home, like the one described above, six months ago. My parents worked very hard for their money. I am glad to see she is finally enjoying her elder years.

Yesterday I was teasing my mom that she now lives in an apartment- much like we did when we went to college. She eats in the dining room every late afternoon. She chats with the ladies in the atruim in the late mornings. Her computer classes begin again in a month. She knows what is going on in everyone's lives. Exercise, chat, eat, listen and now she is considering taking the paper again. I imagine political discussions are in our near future.

Just five months ago I thought we were going to lose mom. Not from physical ailments, but boredom. Things have changed. At 82 my mom is having fun! Now when mom passes, for that is inevitable, I know that her final years she was happy.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

On finding a doctor

It seems my health care may be in jeopardy with the new look at spouse care through the military. We moved to Kansas for three reasons: we love the climate, we could both get jobs AND I could be seen at the military hospital. My husband has all of his xpcare through the VA.

For seven years before moving here my health care was hodge podge.
We lived in Flagstaff, Az. and very few doctors would take our military insurance.
Even fewer took Medicare and that was before the reforms in payments.

Here we are. Settled.
I am beginning to look "off post" for a primary care doctor now. I don't want to be on the bottom of the list when/ if military health care is revised.

I've started to ask who others go to. Generally our doctors work out of two hospitals.
Unfortunately, it seems that the doctors referred to me are mostly connected to the hospital that has a terrible morbidity rate. That could be attributed to the average age of the people in this area. Loads of people in rural Kansas are very old. Still, I think I will drive to a doctor who has a better record and a worse bedside manner.

What do I expect next?

Getting an appointment. I found that if you call about 10 am on a Tuesday or Wednesday one might find a receptive staff member willing to take your name. I am amazed how difficult it is to get an appointment!

Then the wait begins. The wait for the appointment. The wait for the doctor. I don't really expect to actually converse with a doctor, but a nurse practioner.

Then labs

Then the return visit in a few weeks.

Aggggg! I hate to change doctors!

The hunt is on!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Keeping costs down- electricity

The utility company started a users fee a few months ago.
Seems to be common in rural electric.

Since we have two poles- one for the house and the other for the barn
We have two users fees.
In order to have electricity flow to the property we pay $55 a month
The electric company also got a jump in prices last month

We have electric heat and cooling


Changes for the good are in order.
1. We bought styrofoam insulation boards to put in all of the downstairs windows.
Cut to size. They block the cold and lets heat rise.
If we are in the basement during the day, we take it down for natural light.

2. At the end of last season we bought some insulated curtains.
We don't have curtains on our house normally.
they are up in all upstairs windows- closed tightly at night.

3. We close everything that can be closed.
Doors to room, closets, cupboards, drawers

4. A small oil heater is used in the livingroom.
At night we move it to the hall, which keeps the core of the house warm.

5. Cooking and cleaning happen before 3 pm and after 9 pm.
We also warm the house before 6 am or after 9am.
Our electricity rate almost doubles from 4-8:30 pm and from 7-9am

6. Close vents in the bathrooms and extra rooms.

7. A blanket is over the stairs by the front door.
When we open the door for the dogs to go out the blanket prevents a ton of heat loss.
We are considering adding an unheated entry area next year by putting up wood on the front porch.

8. We open and close curtains with the passing of the sun. Natural light is always preferred.
Solar lights are used outside. They are carefully cleaned off after each snow.

9. Wash clothes on non rainy days after 9 am.
Clothes dry on the line, but are in the basket before the sun goes down.
They go into the dryer at 9 pm if they are not dry (or froze on the line).
Believe it or not, Kansas has few days when it is cloudy all day.

10. Wearing slippers, sweatshirts and taking a hot bath mid day round out the list.