Days 47 – 64 Many Delights, Big and Small

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.

Bread

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.

Cocktails

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.

Voting

We voted.

An Excursion

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.

Skyline Drive

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.

Day 19: Todoist

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.

Day 15: The House to Myself

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)

Day 11: Organizing My Brain With Technology

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.

Profile card of Dona Patrick's Habitica character showing icon of warrior and pet fox.
My Habitica profile

Day 10: The New Camera (mostly)

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
Dean’s photo of a squirrel

Day 9: Mostly Lists but [Trigger Warning] a Spider Too!

I am going to have to figure this retirement thing out. While I forced structure on my work life when I first began working from home in 2003, that never spilled over to my non-work life and I flitted from task to task, often finishing none of them. That’s what happened today (despite the list I mentioned below). I fear this is what retirement will be like — a whole bunch of unfinished tasks.


I make lists nearly every day to help me keep on track. My lists have always included some work-related tasks in addition to home related tasks. This morning, as I made today’s list, I was delighted to note that my lists would never again feature work-related tasks (unless of course I do some side PDF gigs) (and I’m not counting volunteer tasks as work).

Other delights included:

  • The blue jays, Carolina wren and crows that provided background music for my morning coffee in the lodge — formally known as the screened in porch until it became a three-season room.
  • My camera arrived!
  • I found an extra 32 gigabyte SD card for my new camera
  • The camera takes better photos than my phone (Neither photos on this page are very good, but the bottom shows the hairs on the legs of the spider)
  • The huge spider who built a web outside our kitchen door
This was taken with the new camera (the top photo was with the phone).