As mentioned in an earlier post I bought a refurbished desktop computer for my study. Today I upgraded the memory and can multi-task a lot easier than before. It is still an i5, but now it has 32GB of Random Access Memory instead of 4GB which means I can have more than one application open and the computer does not slow down. It might be overkill, but whatever. It does mean that I actually spent twice as much on the computer than I’d planned (it was only $150 from Woot but the memory cost about the same). Still, not bad for a new-to-me computer.
Peepers and more
Dean texted me a week ago or so to tell me he heard spring peepers on a bike ride with Andrew. I was surprised, thinking they only sang at dusk. Today he wanted to show me where they were to hear for myself. Sure enough, once we got close to the ephemeral pools in an area of Rock Creek Park I could hear them sing.
Possibly even more exciting were the many spring wildflowers. It reminded me of a fieldtrip to Trout Park with my college botany teacher (including Dean’s sister Debbie who was also in that class). I could just see Mr. Steinbock trembling with excitement as he pointed out trout lilies, trillium, May apples and skunk cabbage.
I am quite the procrastinator when it comes to calling anyone on the phone. This includes calling for services such as repair. If there is an option to chat or email, I will take that any day. This week I made the commitment to contact people about various repairs. Yesterday’s connection with the Bosch people gave me the courage to contact other companies about repairs
In the last few weeks we’ve noticed an ever-widening gap between a few of our tiles in our kitchen. I noticed a small gap months ago, but Dean didn’t think it was a problem. Now it is a problem since the gap is a quarter-inch wide. We first considered fixing it ourselves; it only required us to remove the wooden transition trim between the dining room and kitchen and push the tiles inward towards the gap. This didn’t work because the smallest of the tiles are attached to the floor with some sort of adhesive. (The tiles have a tongue and groove and are not supposed to be stuck to the floor, but in this case it was necessary because they were tiny parts of the tiles.)
Anyway I contacted the first company (family-owned since 1923) on the list of recommended dealers for this particular product and the man who answered the phone was very nice and promised stop by the next day, a Thursday. He didn’t show up (or call). I called again on Wednesday because he’d mentioned he was tied up through Monday and he promised to stop by on Thursday. He didn’t show up (or call). I called him on Monday and left a message saying that if he was not planning on helping us out, just call and tell us and we’d move on. He never called back.
I looked at the list of dealers again and found another company that seemed promising (“family and friends” was part of the name). This time I emailed with the exact issue, a photo, and a plea to let us know if they were not able to help us since I’d already been ghosted by another company. These folks immediately returned my email, empathizing with me about the no-show/no-call company and saying they’d discuss it and get back to me with a time they could come fix it. Needless to say I was relived and delighted with that response.
As you may recall, we bought a teak outdoor dining set in the middle of winter. Dean put the set together in the dark on a freezing night just before a snowfall. In hindsight I think waiting until daytime and warmer weather might have been more practical. Anyway, I’ve been applying a teak protector on the furniture to keep it a honey-brown and noticed that some of the chairs were not put together well — in fact some of the chairs were missing dowels. I mentioned this to Dean, hoping he’d kept some of the hardware, but he hadn’t and instructed me to go to the hardware store to buy some.
I decided to try the company from whom we’d purchased the furniture (chatting this time) and within a few minutes was told that they’d send dowels to us at no charge. I guess we did spend a pretty penny on the furniture and it is under lifetime warranty, so I should not be surprised. But I was delighted nonetheless.
The temperature this afternoon made it into the upper 70s. Glorious! Delightful! This Carolina wren agreed with me.
I still have it
I’ve not thought about, much less worked on anything related to accessibility since the day I retired. I unsubscribed from my favorite accessibility email list and uninstalled all accessibility software from my computer. I found that thinking about it created anxiety and I didn’t want any more anxiety thank-you-very-much.
Then last week Clare asked me to help out with a PDF for her second job. Since I was converting a word file to PDF file I figured I would make it accessible too. That felt good.
This week she asked me to check the website for her second job and see what needed to be done to make it accessible (its a non-profit organization, but still should be accessible). So today I spent a few hours looking at it with my long-neglected accessibility perspective and sent the results to Clare.
It felt good to know that I still knew what I was doing. I’d gotten caught up on the fact that I was not the best in my field at work and the competition there was uncomfortable, thus my decision to retire early. But with something like this, I am the most knowledgeable person at the table (between Clare and myself and maybe the people who she works with) and I feel my confidence coming back. Which is a delightful feeling.
I really thought I could keep up and write every day, or at least keep up the illusion that I was writing every day, but I was wrong. I am not even sure I noticed all the daily delights since last I wrote.
Here are some that I remember.
I baked Italian bread twice. Both times it was delicious and once again, I was shocked that putting together flour, water, yeast and a few other ingredients made such delightful loaves. Note that I also baked sourdough, naan and sandwich bread, but they are less new than the Italian recipes.
Two memorable cocktails were the October 9 Tom Collins* cocktails in our republican presidents Tom Collins glasses (a tongue-in-cheek gift from my friend Catherine who was not republican either) and our Liberal** cocktails the evening after we voted.
The Pumpkin Murder
Remember the Egg Man’s Cinderella pumpkin? We murdered it on October 11 and recorded the gruesome act. Andrew is still working on the stop-action film, but above are some stills from the production.
After that we cooked it and ended up with over 30 cups of pumpkin puree.
*The gin we used is an amber color, that’s why the drink isn’t clear **We didn’t have the exact ingredients for the Liberal, cocktails, but made sure our cherries were held by blue mermaids.
As a way to get out of town and celebrate my retirement (and Dean’s 18-month-old promotion) we ventured to Washington, VA and splurged on dinner and a stay at The Inn at Little Washington. This included afternoon tea, dinner (and wine pairings), a night in a huge suite, and breakfast.
For dinner I had the vegetarian menu and Dean had the non-vegetarian menu. Everything was exquisitely delightful. Even Rupert dressed up for the occasion.
We took the long way home along Skyline Drive, purchasing a senior lifetime national park pass on the way in. I also saw my first of the year Dark-eyed Junco and Rupert took a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Shadows, rainbows and clouds
Shadows of everyday objects that appear when the afternoon sun shines through the west-facing windows delight me. Any kind of rainbow delights me. Sometimes clouds delight me too.
Retirement is still weird. I have no interest in doing anything that was on my retirement to-do list. I don’t even want to bake bread or feed my sourdough or read or organize or write. I think all that looked so inviting before I retired because it was what I did to avoid work. Now that list is work.
That said… I gave up on Habitica because I just don’t like the game aspect of it but found a different and in my opinion better task/project tracker: Todoist. It has everything Habitica has except the game aspect. You can divide your projects into tasks and the tasks into sub-tasks. This is kind of typical of me. I like making lists but I don’t always like doing what is on the lists. Maybe my retirement will be an endless list of things I didn’t do.
I listened to more of The Book of Delights to try to get back into the groove of finding delights. It’s always delightful to hear Ross’ voice telling me about his delights.
Before the pandemic I had the house to myself for at least 8 hours a day during the work week. Of course, I was also working, but it was pleasant not having someone else around for a good part of the day. I like silence, he likes background noises. I am quiet, he is not. I move slowly, he moves quickly.
Since the second week in March, there have been few days where he is out of the house for more than 45 minutes. It’s not terrible, not at all, but just not what I’d been used to, and not what I expected for my retirement, at least the first couple of years.
Last night Dean suggested we go to Mallows Bay where he could go kayaking among the sunken battleships and I could try out my new camera. I thought it was a great idea, but again I awoke in the middle of the night and when I finally got back to sleep, I didn’t want to get up early to drive a couple of hours to watch him kayak. He understood and went alone, leaving me the day to myself.
I made a list (including “shower” and “lunch”, Helen) and proceed to cross most of the items off as I quietly, slowly and silently went on with my day.
He came home with food for dinner which he cooked and, more importantly, several bottles of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc that he picked up at Total Wine on the way home. Sometimes he can be a delight!
Another delight was the monarch who visited my zinnias. (phone photo)
I am surprised how quickly this week is going, especially compared to last week, which seemed like a month. I think I might have found a solution to my not-quite-right feelings about my new life (delight!) Details below.
I spent much of today writing lists — long-term goals and regular goals — trying to organize my mind around how to spend my day-to-day retirement time. Then (being a “technology will solve everything” kind of gal) I searched for an app to help with those lists. I ended up downloading the Habitica app again, a program I’ve used before, but always discarded mostly because I don’t like the game aspect of it.
The program divides tasks into three categories:
Habits — things you want to change about yourself, good or bad
Dailies — regular goals, can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
To-Do — long-term goals
I like that you can create checklists for the goals (not habits though) to divide it into manageable tasks. Another thing I like about this app is that it can be used either as a mobile app or on a desktop, so it is always in my pocket, but I can enter or edit the goals on the computer if I want.
Everything this program does can be done with pen and paper, but this is easier for me.
Another delight today was a phone call from Clare. Even though she was upset about work, it is always nice to talk to her and I always feel honored that she feels comfortable unloading on me.
Still struggling with odd feelings of not-quite-rightness. Possibly with a little ennui tossed in. For instance, there are things I normally do on weekends — feed the sourdough starter is one, make bread is another, however I have no desire to do either, even though they must be done if I want to keep the starter alive and if we are to have homemade sourdough bread in the house.
The camera is turning out to be a true delight. Today I tried out the long lens (I am sure it has a better name — telephoto lens perhaps) and it took some decent photos. I’m still learning. Dean even gave it a go and remarked on how light it was. He was still not very enthusiastic about it, but at least didn’t complain about it.
Other delights today:
Reading and commenting on Lali’s blog again. I’d missed the entries from the beginning of the pandemic. Her writing is soothing.
A phone call from my SIL asking about my first (true) day and a half of retirement
More backyard birds (blue jays, northern cardinals, Carolina wrens, hairy woodpeckers, ruby-throated hummingbird, fish crows)
The return of the spider — it seems it likes the kitchen door in the late afternoons — I’d already taken out my contact lenses so didn’t try to take a photo this time.
The walk around the elementary school with Dean at lunchtime