Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wyoming and the planning continues

My trail run of my suitcase and bag have been completed.
We did 8 days of travel through Wyoming last week.
It was beautiful.
I packed for fall and ended up in summer.

My next trip is for 10 days
in Phoenix
This time I will pack for summer
and probably get fall.

The suit case pack worked with packing cubes.
Next trip will include compression cubes.
Stuff sack for dirty clothes worked better then expected.

Wyoming is either prairie grass
or mountains
Oregon Trail Ruts

 Fall in the mountains

 Medicine Bow Mountains
Red Hills outside of Buffalo

Tower Falls Yellowstone

Dinosaur Digs near Thermopolis
 Yellowstone Big Horn Sheep

 Billy Goats
And Pronghorn everywhere

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


I have lived through a typhoon, but not a hurricane.
It shouldn't come up the coast- but you never know.
From what I have seen, these things are like wild fire
and have a mind of its own.

Wind chimes are in
Water is stored
Hanging Solar lights are inside by a window
My canning is put away
Nothing on the floor in the basement
Gas in the car
The "glass with frozen water and coin on top" is in the freezer.
Not much more I can do then
pray for my southern friends.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

And now the map

We do take a physical map with us.
AAA is terrific at supplying one.
After we have spent our many hours planning
first we google map and then
out comes the travel map.
Highlight the cities of interest with the marker.
Use a different color for the route.
Tuck it away.

Some of the places we go are just not easy on a GPS.
Our next adventure overseas is already packed,
but the current USA adventure map is out.

We make hotel reservations well in advance.
The dreaded "no room at the inn" is mind blowing 
when you drive 400 miles somewhere!

If we decide differently along the way,
we simply cancel by 4 pm. 

We also carry pages of tour books.
Nope, we do not carry any regular tour books
 too heavy
 too many places we do not plan to see. 
My son taught me how to change a page to a PDF yesterday
Maybe the iPad will hold the next tour pages!

Plan it out and go for it. 
After hundreds of trips between the two of us
we have gotten pretty good at it.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Packing for trips- the base pack.

First, finding the right pack.
My bag of choice is the E bag Mother lode Weekender Convertible Junior.
AT 19 inches height and 3.5 lbs, this baby rocks the packing.
Hey, it is on my back, I can get it up stairs easier.
If you haven't checked one of these out,
you should.
It has been on a dozen domestic trips
so far. Looking forward to some

I keep either this or my rolling 21 inch Samsonite(5 lbs) packed almost all of the time.  The Samsonite is more for hubby. He hates me to carry on the plan, so it is checked.  I am going to try checking my back pack this next trip to see how it does.
What do I keep packed?
Packing cubes :).

In the packing cubes?
Seven undies, a bra,
Seven pairs of socks
My comfy pants and hoodie (both are black),
two shirts,
a long skirt,
a nightgown/ dress and short sweater
1 pair of Sketchers and Teva flip flops
A new 1 oz tube of toothpaste,  basic makeup, small sunscreen, small aloe, lip balm. small shampoo (bought the bottles years ago and refill from home), a tiny bottle of peppermint EO, & Deodorant. All in a see through bag for TSA in case I carry this on.
Regular brush, small soap, travel toothbrush (yes, that makes two tooth brushes),
My long scarf (occasionally lives in my carry on if I take a wheeled bag),
Light, hat that will squish,
A sliver of Castile soap
5 quart sized baggies and several snack sized in case things need to be kept apart or for souvenirs.

Travel week, I add in my current favorite jeans and/or shorts,
small jewelry in a tiny cosmetic container,
sections from a travel book (I am one of those. I rip out the part I need.)
two blouses (that makes four altogether)
Sometimes a swim suit.

On international flights I add a converter and appropriate plugs.

Sometimes I wear those comfy black pants and hoodie on the plane and replace them with some nicer slacks in the bag.

The objective, always, is that my pack or small suitcase only weighs 20 lbs.
That means if I take the rolling suitcase, I have to pack less. OW!
Lifting over 20 lbs can be an issue for me, so I am careful.

Yup, those things live in my backpack or suitcase year round.
They get taken out, laundered (or filled) and replaced.
Some think that is a terrible waste of resources. I just need a base.
For three years I worked for a publishing company.
My job was to fly around the country and talk about product.
I spoke in 700 places in those three years.
Having a base suitcase was a must.
It became habit.
Good thing, with the wild schedule this year,
habit is good.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Packing for trips- on the plane backpack

Packing no longer is an issue for me.
The suitcase lives with basics that are refilled each trip
but the base is the same.

What do I take?

For the plane is a small back pack.
The objective is the backpack weighs no more then about 5 lbs when packed.
The LLBean Stowaway is my current favorite. 14 oz- everything easily fits and has a place.

In it:
1)Blow up pillow. I have had many and they are all about the same. With blow up the amount of air varies depending on seat. It doubles for a hotel pillow with a towel in the middle. Gave up on all the other types long ago- bean bag, memory foam, etc. They tend to be too bulky for me- and much more expensive. This one is 2.4 oz with bag and eye mask.

2)Sony makes these collapsible phones (5 oz)

3)My ear buds are all over the place from noise canceling to cheap. My comfort level keeps me from bulky.  On long trips a spare set of really cheap are in my bag. Nothing like being on a flight and having your earbuds die. (Or end up next to someone who forgot theirs- you can give them a pair of cheap ones.) (1 oz)
4)My iPad and cord- music, movies and books loaded on this. (1 lbs 5 oz)
5) Caroline Dexflex by Payless. My feet like to be free- so something WAY lightweight are in my bag. About 7 oz. (My heaviest shoes are always worn onto the plane.- although they only weigh 2.3 lbs) They have a rubber bottom so the flight bathrooms are not as bad.

6) A long scarf that doubles as a blanket. Cotton is about 10oz
7) Refillable water bottle. Carried through security empty. Filled at airport water fountain (or buy a bottle of water and transfer it- trusting someone else's plastic bottle is a no go).
8) My phone and cord (3 oz)
9) Second set of  cheap reading glasses. (Old eyes).
10) My wallet. Mine is a small leather Coach two zip wallet with a wristlet. No purses on board.
Overseas my "goodies" will be in a neck carrier. The wallet is good for two currencies in the open. (4 oz)
11) Toothbrush, toothpaste in small baggie within a larger baggie with small brush. (3 oz)

12) Undies rolled in small baggie. (2 oz)
13) Granola bar/almonds

That is it. All together it is about 5 lbs without the water in the water bottle. Might be 7 lbs with it full.

What is in YOUR back pack?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Retirement- How is this school year shaping up?

Notice I use "school year".
After thirty years teaching, everything begins the first day of school.
Yesterday my neighborhood went back to school.
My NY grand begins next week.
My other grands begin after Labor Day.

Here is the plan.
Tuesdays at the local grand house until the snow comes.
Lots of sights to see and experience.
Wednesdays is the Food Bank.

Travel/Play is scheduled:
September - Wyoming
October- Phoenix - Aunt's 90th b day
November- DC overnight-
December - NYC for the Rockettes with grands.

Winter- I cook at the shelter twice a month once the weather turns.
January- Phoenix
February- NY grands
March- Israel
April- watching the grands while their parents travel
May- Missouri

The summer is when the garden goes in.
Next summer I do not plan to leave the East.
There will be one week of canning each month
finishing with August canning mania.

June- Niagara Falls
July- the beach--somewhere (this year we canceled- that was a mistake!)
August - canning!!!

Most of these trips I will do alone.
My husband does not believe in airports
after the flu season begins (which is almost year round these days.)

How will I survive?
My plan instead is to swim two to three times a week
and read at least one book a week.
Several daily conversations really help me smile as well.

Honestly, I thought about applying for a para professional position this year.
When would I fit it in?

BTW- Why is it that every time I give in and water really well
Suddenly a cloud shows up and rains
right over our house
for about 30 minutes?

Retirement - finance, the picture, not the numbers.

When we were first married, we were flush.
We both had good jobs, at least for us.
Living in the heart of free Europe,
we traveled all of the time.
Moved back to the States
and began the child/SAHM journey.
After being broke for a year
 I ran into a book by Ron Blue called Master Your Money.
Ron Blue is the precursor to Dave Ramsey.
Actually Dave Ramsey worked with Ron Blue
...and followed his advice to get debt free.
And so our financial journey began.
Here is the take away:
Twenty composition books of finances from the last thirty two years.
We went from budgeting every penny to tracking our portfolio
 to doing both and back again.

We rented while we were Army.
My husband retired and we paid off the house we built for us.

We have bought and sold four houses since his first retirement.
Mostly we broke even.
We continued to both work full time.

Only once, combined,  did we make more then $80,000 a year. 
That was long ago.
It went for kids' college.

We took our last five working years out 
and stashed 1/3 of our combined income into savings.
Then we retired for good.

There are times that happiness is way more important 
then the power a raise can give you.
There are times you have to do a job you hate to get ahead.
There is no need to continue to work if you feel the job fills no real needs.

Set a goal. 
End date.
Then set another.

It is weird, after saving for so long, to let that goal go
and begin to budget with that money.

We decided to center our giving on causes.
Homeless, struggling people and children 
instead of institutions and far away places.

We give the grands experiences over stuff.
Our presence is the most important piece of the puzzle.

And now we do what we want
within reason
just taking care of us.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Retirement- The count.

The number of pieces of furniture hubby has crafted-:
10 tables, 2 benches, 7 book shelves, 4 boxes and a million other "fixed things"

Types of food grown:
Carrots, Tomatoes (several variety), onions, garlic, peppers, spinach, lettuce, raspberries, blueberries
thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, marjoram, mustard, chocolate mint, lemon balm, and lots of lavender.
Number of canning jars canned:
Over 1,000 filled with cherries, peaches, tomatoes, applesauce, strawberries and lots of other things.

Milage in three years:
My car- 40,000m (back and forth to see grands)
My husband's truck- 7,000m
The play car- 300m
Number of trips to see my mother- 13 (50,000 m)
Number of trips to the West Coast to see grands- 5 (25,000m)
Trips to Disney- 3 (3500mDW+4600mDL)

Gathering in small IRAs into main account- 9

Number of husband SS checks- 37
Number of months until my first SS check- 60

Percent our insurance increased moving to the East Coast- 22%
Percent our energy bill has gone down moving to a state that has nuclear energy- 50%
Percent of savings from income since retiring- 10%
Percent our portfolio has increased since retiring - 0% (Our stocks are up 9%, but we spend it on everything else).

Number of grands added to the family- 3

Retirement- the pictures that go with the first two years of growth.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Retirement. What does that really mean? Part One

We moved to Delaware to be close to our daughter's family.
It is lovely here.
The climate, the water, the green, the flowers, and yes, even the cold.
We are retired. You know that means...relaxing, playing and free time.
We have added and subtracted to the house we purchased three years ago.
Both of us are at home "full time"
so there needs to be space to be alone and together. 

I became a gardener
of vegetables, fruits and grands.

My husband has enjoyed woodworking and is moving into crabbing.

What have we learned in the first three years of retirement?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Dishing it out

The person who gave the sermon on Sunday
is from Somalia.
He, and his friends, had been living a horrific civil war
for many, many years.

He spoke well to the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist
uniting the old and new testaments.
He is an amazing homilist.

At the end of his talk, two seconds of his fifteen minutes,
he said one thing

"You are the United States.
You have forgotten what tearing each other apart does to a nation.
You need to sit, talk, think and solve.
We, the world, are depending on you."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

To all the women who were never "Mother"

To the Mothers out there
who do not have children attached to their immediate lives
but choose to be attached to those who need guidance
or even an extra hand
I'd like to say, "Happy Mother's Day"
You do so much for us
in so many ways.

I have been fortune over the years to be
close to a number of women who were never
biological or adoptive mothers.

First, my sister.
She chose to be childless
but she has always taken great care in helping to raise
the children of her community.
We appreciate that she gave a different perspective
of the world to our children
a solid, non judgmental perspective.

Being Catholic I was raised with
Sisters and Nuns and Mothers in my life.
(Yes, some who take the vow are Mothers).
When we were in Vietnam,
where religion was entirely repressed,
we were taken to a "convent".
A Sister ran a large orphanage for disabled children.
(The children she received who were not disabled
she quickly placed into homes.)
She was everyone  Mother.

She gave me one of the pillars of my life.
"It is the Mother who passes on faith and
religion and the ability to love beyond the family/"
The most Motherly words I have ever heard
and keep with me today.

There are many Nuns in my heritage.
They were doctors, running large insane asylums,
they were "do gooders" who cared for children on the street,
they ran homes for the aged,
and, it always seemed
when their own fathers outlived their own mothers,
they took care of their fathers (and unmarried uncles)
in houses next to the convent.

My own father's mother died when he was a baby.
He went to boarding school the minute he was able.
The Sisters who ran it took complete care for him
since his father seemed always on the road- even during the holydays.
Those women were his mother.

And, of course, Happy Mother's Day to my own Mother,
My sister, sisters in law, daughter, daughter in law, numerous nieces and nieces in law.
You all are,,,,there are no words.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Is a house a home? Pt 1

My memories of where I grew up are all on one street.
Palmaire, in Phoenix
My dad designed and built the house.
A new subdivision for the solidly middle class
Doctors, lawyers, school administrators, a rabbi and a few business owners
families would enjoy together through long summer nights.
Kids would play in the orange grove at the end of the block
or catch crawdads that came in with the irrigation.

We were all a part of the summer migration
to San Diego
in July.
I think almost all of us stayed in a 2 mile radius of each other there.

Idyllic in many ways.
No real crime to worry about
Certainly no abductions.
Dads went to work and moms went to play tennis
once the youngest started school.

I lived in the same room with my sister for 18 years.
Wall of butterfly fabric
White triple dresser
two white twin beds.
Family bathroom that was shared by the five kids.
Five kids, ten years from oldest to youngest.

The house was used by all of us.
Yes, we broke a few of the precious things in the formal living room.
We had dance parties in the wooden floored den.
We played on the pool table and swam in the pool.
We snuck out of the huge bedroom windows.
We climbed the side tree.
We rode our bikes to school when we missed our carpool.
Or took the city bus and walked the last mile.

Home was a place to be.

One street
One house
One city
for 18 years.
It was the place to come back to for the next ten years.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Found Money

You know those friendly blog reminders to look for found money?
What the heck, might as well log on.

A state that we never lived in had a flag on it for me.
It did not have a sum
but it did have a telephone number.

Called it.
The young man on the other end explained that
 I, in fact, did have "unclaimed money" in the state coffers.
I asked him to look at the amount and tell me whether he would apply for it.
He did not hesitate.
Yup. Well worth doing the documentation for.

There were several hoops to jump through.
Fortunately, I had already suffered getting every piece of documentation
that existed to prove that I was a citizen in order to get a Delaware driver's license.
All of that paperwork was close by. Off it went in the mail.

It arrived today, ten weeks later.
Twenty five years ago my grandfather left me shares in a company.
It paid a quarterly dividend.
That company is long gone,
but there were two dividend checks that could not find me in 1996.
We moved in early 1996 home from Saudi.

For some reason they ended up in Maryland.
Maybe that is where all overseas service member undeliverable mail goes to die.
Maryland cashed the checks for me and used a part of the interest.

Maryland should not be in debt!
The check that I received was a bit over 10X the original amount
and that is the part "I" made off of the money.
Good job Maryland!

The check is not mind blowing
except the shock that it even existed.
It will not change my life
but it will be nice to do some things I have put on the back burner.
And I already put the taxes that I will need to pay on it in a savings account.
WOOOO HOOO! Found money!
Now, go log onto that website.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Finances 101 for our retirement

Currently we live on my husband's pension and social security.
It is frugal, but comfortable, living.
Actually, it is more money then we lived on when we were a one income household years ago.
We will be taking his IRA distributions beginning in a few years.
Fortunately, we rolled most of his IRA to a Roth.
I wish we had done more before his SS kicked in.
If we do it now, he will lose more SS.

Our current savings mix:
35% stocks
 4%  bonds
61% other

Our cash is spread all over the place.

We have one stock fund through the government.
The rest of our stocks are in specific companies.
We choose companies that we use their product:
Walmart, Costco, Apple, Amazon, Caterpillar....
and have, at least, 20 shares of each.
I wish our local farmer's market had stock shares to purchase!

We are in the "help the grandchildren with education and experiences" camp
over the "save money for our children's retirement (inheritance)" camp.
We do not plan to have enough money to do both.

Most of our travel money is consumed by traveling to see my mother in Phoenix.
Our trip overseas has been put on hold.
Really, neither of us are wild about overseas travel- BTDT.
We love the States and have lots to see here.

Grandchild #6 due at the beginning of the summer.
We have set aside a month for "resettling".

We are going ahead with the remodel of the bathroom.

Financial balance is a good topic at our dinner table these days.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sometimes I need a reference point.

Here is a great article 
about retirement income
that helped me understand where we stood.
What is the Average Retirement Income 2017 (Mean)?
 What is the Median Retirement Income 2017?
As you can see in the table below, 
median income is always lower and 
is probably closer to the reality for most households of retirement age.
You may have also noticed that 
average retirement income 2017 
varies significantly by the age of the head of household.
  Household incomes decline the older they become.
                          Median Income.  Mean Income

Households Aged 55-64     $62,802.     $89,986

Households Aged 65-74:    $47,432.     $68,905

Households Aged 75 &up   $30,635.     $45,989

SOURCE: Data is summarized from the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey(CPS) Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.  The CPS is a joint effort between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.

Don't forget
Mean is all of the incomes added divided by the number of people.
($10,000,000 / 100people would be  $100,000 mean income)

Medium is the middle point of the set
100 people  have incomes from $15,000 to $300,000.
Put everyone on a line and pick the middle person's income.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

First "Dump" cake

My apple pie filling was more then a year old
and needed to be used.
Had a devils food cake mix
that was begging to be baked.

Spray the pan
dump in the apple pie filling (I make my own)
dump in the cake mix
drizzle 3/4 cup of melted butter
and bake for an hour at 350.

It smelled heavenly.
The reviews will be in tomorrow.
Sorry, forgot the picture before taking it to the crowd!

Slow, Slow, Quick

Things are speeding up.
Spend yesterday at the Walk for Life.
Just me and about 500,000 of my friends.
It took me about thirty minuted to move from the mall
to Constitution Avenue
so we could march.
Crowded, but friendly!

I met an amazing woman lawyer from Cameroon.
We went through every topic in the book
from the Mexico agreement and how it affected her country
to the refugee status and borders.
We talked a very long time about the difference between
refugee and illegal immigrants.
It was enlightening from a different perspective.
We did have different perspectives,
since I grew up in the Southwest and
was a bit more familiar with the plight of the southern border people.
We solved nothing,
Exchanged numbers.
My hope is that I can help her help others.

And then, together, we joined the largest Human Rights march in the US.

Got home in time to field a call
for more food for the shelter nearby.
Cooked up a ton of pasta from my shelves
and delivered lunch today.
My coats from Black Friday are long gone
but socks are still on sale (if you need ideas for your shelter).

Spent some time discussing the implications of
the government shut down with my son.
He is a professor at a military academy.
It simply means he will be teaching more classes
and the cadets will spend more time cleaning their own spaces.
He will get paid sometime, but he loves his vocation.
Always a smile on that kid's lips.
How is it that our children are always kids- even after their 20's?

Getting ready to help my mother pull all of her electronics out
and connect them up.
What a mess!
Still, if I am that interested in the newest technology in my late 80's
that would be great!
We also are working on her giving up her car
and selling her vacation home.
Tall orders for the next few weeks.

February should slow, if the weather changes.
Hoping the weather changes.

I know that some of you reading are not on the same page as me politically.
No one I know is on that page :)
You have no idea, in general, where I am
but I am glad you are here.
Differing opinions on things is how our country works best.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Get Rich Slowly returns!

My writing of this diary blog began in 2006.
My husband had retired from the military
we had lived seven years in my family home state
and had moved to Kansas.
I started writing to keep track of the pace of life.

Kansas was sort of a do over.
We were struggling in many, many ways.
One was financially.
The first years I continued in a job that had me on the road,
with no complaints from me,
for about 200 nights a year.
That told us, both, our marriage was a mess.

Our children had moved away.
Both of us suffered, severely, with PTSD.
My sister's husband  and my husband's brother
were both suffering from the brutality that is cancer.
My dad was declining fast of Parkinson's
we were just holding on.
I do remember just trying to think of reasons to stay alive.

We were living paycheck to paycheck,
and making the most money
in our lives.

Blogs had just become a "thing".
Get rich slowly had just started up.
JD seemed like a nice enough guy.
Although I owed no money,
we had about $20,000 in savings for retirement
at the ages of 50 and 57.

And so JD's journey began, as did ours.
Although my husband never joined in the reading
he was willing to do what was needed to get on stable ground.

I quit the travel
and took a teaching job in town.
The three men passed, and then a sister in law.
Our daughter got married.

We followed three things: Mater Your Money by Ron Blue
Jane Bryant Quinn's Complete Money Book
and Get Rich Slowly.

We were well on our way when JD sold his blog in 2012
smooth sailing, never looking back
(OK- just a glance)
We stayed the course that JD set out
in our own way.
After twelve years of blogging I can say that we are solid in our plans
and our future
and our finances.
We are not rich,
as far as "rolling in the dough"
but I learned a lot from JD about how to think about money.

JD just bought back his blog in October!
His articles are solid.
He is one of the bet writers out there IMHO.
If you have any desire to rebuild or build further
you might consider getting on his feed.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Car trip with a dog

Being a military family
we have transported dogs across country and around the world.
Our bravest dog was Annie
She traveled from Australia to Hawaii to become our family member.

We transported her to Saudi Arabia.
She kept the workers out of our house and redid the kitchen when we left her too long.
Last, she moved with us to Flagstaff
As a shepherd, we thought she was much happier at 30 degrees then 120 degrees.

Most of the time we actually traveled, though,
our dogs have been kenneled.
(Well, there was that one 2400 mile Western tour
we did with Suzie the mastiff in the back seat.)

I digress.

Our last two moves we have transported the dogs in the front seat
with a platform of some sort
to help them see out the window.
Not ideal, but it worked for four days at a stretch.

Now our 20 lb, full of vim and vigor, Jack Russel

(who hates to travel)
will be in the truck with us.
The logistical nightmare will take some planning.
How about a platform made of storage areas for the back seat? 
If I take two of these boxes and cover the top with batting and flannel.
They might fit on either side of the bump in the well 
(Where everything disappears anyway).
What should I put on the bump?
Why hasn't anyone come up with a solution to this problem?
Heck, I am retired
what better time to figure it out.
I have a few months, after all.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Road Trip Experience?

My family is having a reunion
In Phoenix
We live
in Delaware

Did you know an average trip for two
to Phoenix
by plane
with a car
and a hotel
is about
Forget that!
We hate to fly and get sick almost every time.

We are going on a road trip!

As long as we are in the truck,
my husband wants to see Wyoming,
(Maybe we will live there one day,
so we need to see it. Of course that we are
in our 60's and have sworn that we will not
move for another 10 years means nothing.)
and his brother in Idaho,
and his sister in Lost Wages.

We have traveled most of the roads before
At different points of our lives.
We have basic expectations
no real schedule
and we have a reliable vehicle
which will be, for the most part, empty of heavy things
because we are staying in hotels.

is our friend
Indian owned
they will let us bring the dog!
We will also be looking at military base lodging along the way.

Our trip 6,000 mile trip will look a bit like this:
OK- stop laughing.
You have to keep in mind that I road tripped to Phoenix from Kansas
at least once a year before we moved.
My husband made five trips in a month to move us from
Kansas to Delaware.
Yes, the road is his friend.

The planning begins
I am finding my skills at packing for a month are sorely lacking
Without moving every 18 months, "Rusty" is my new middle name.
Pintrest is my new best friend.
Hubby is pretty good with trouble shooting the mechanics
We are good about sharing the driving.

What would you pack?
Time for the lists to begin!