Friday, January 28, 2011

Retirement, End of Month 1

End of Month 1 of Retirement and doing OK.


Drawing Realistic Ears
As I have mentioned before,  I am living a vampire's life this month and have only been going out at night. Hubby, bless his heart, comes home at 5, sees my mood and says "lets go someplace".  Most times I do (whether I want to or not), but lately with all the snow we have been having, I have been home-bound day and night.  Our evenings now consist of sitting in the family room in our assigned seats and telling each other about our day.  After those 2 minutes, hubby will talk about the cats and I will nod.  I have found that if our conversations go beyond these boundaries, we will spend the rest of the evening saying "huh, what did you say".  We both have some hearing problems from a car accident we had about 10 years ago and, of course, age has played a part in it also.  My loss is in my right ear and his in his left.  We have become one of those Shoebox cards that I used to laugh at.   He denies that there is anything wrong with him, it is me, I have an accent (left NY at age 16) and I am mumbling. There is no point in arguing as my philosophy has always been  "why go into battle after you have lost the war", so he goes back to talking about one of the cats and I go back to nodding.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Retirement, End of 4th Week

Day 25 or so of Retirement and doing OK.

Fear and Snow

Weathermen are terrorists!  They usually look like mild-mannered geeks or are beautiful blond women.  Don't let their appearance fool you.  They are there to cut short your life by years through the spread of fear and anxiety.  Their predictions, even with Doppler (whatever that is), charts, and other weather instruments are going to be either right or wrong - and except for hurricanes and other such possible disasters where people can be evacuated, can we really do anything about it since we have no control of mother nature?

The East Coast has been hit with snow storms about every week since late December.  However, before the winter season started, the weather broadcasters were predicting "how bad" it will be so we can all start worrying about what's to come .  As winter approached, they unleashed their fear campaign, and even if the weather that day was not too bad, they needed to tell us about the next "big one" that was coming soon.  Day by day, they tell us about this imminent disaster. Blood pressures now rise and anxiety takes over.  Then it snows and life as we know it does go on. 

We in the Middle Atlantic states have four seasons, summer when it is hot, autumn when it cools, winter when it is cold with a probability of snow, and spring when it will warm up and may be rainy.  It has been going on for ages.  Why is it big news, why has it become sensational?

I can tell you my hubby loves watching weather reports.  His favorite TV is the weather channel.  Second though is to watch weather patterns on the Internet.  He gets excited over the thought of a bad weather system, the worse, the better.  It might be a male thing.  He looks unkindly at me when I tell him that looking through the window or going out will tell me what the weather is like.   This drives him crazy and that is probably why I say it to him.  It is a female thing. 

Yesterday, the predictions were not quite right and the snow came down 12 hours before expected.  The news programs geared up and it became all about snow, snow, and more snow.  Granted it was a big storm and the area got from 4 to 6" between the hours of 5 am and 2 pm.  I had the TV on and every half hour they showed cars sliding up and down hills.  They showed people shoveling, kids making snowmen, and people complaining that they had never seen the likes of this.  They must have short memories as last year we got 2 or 3 storms of 25".  These broadcasts went on all day and then the 4 o'clock news came on for 2 1/2 half hours showing cars sliding up and down hills, people shoveling, kids making snowmen, and people complaining that they had never seen the likes of this.  At the end of this newscast they said they would return for a one hour special at 7 for another report on the storm.  I think I saw the same Prius sliding on the road going up an embankment and then getting control again at least 5 times.  Overnight we got more snow than the day before and we now have between 9" to 14" on the ground.  It is a beautiful sight, but I say this knowing I do not have to go out and drive in it.  So today the weather reports are constant like yesterday and I just heard the announcer say "more snow on the way"  Oh goody!  I better stock up on meds.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Retirement, Week 4

Week 4 of my retirement and doing OK

What the hell happened to my eyebrows?

Life gives and life takes.  Changes occur sometimes slowly and.sometimes at rapid speed.  As you age, the body you once had now leans downward. Your clothes don't fit just right, yet you are the same weight. You become shorter and the your body parts have moved closer together.  What's there to do?  According to infomercials, everything can be fixed. Wrinkles on your face, no problem, this cream or that cream will erase them all; can't see, there are laser treatments; balding, there is the hairclub for men and now woman;  face falling, there is a 1 hour procedure that you can have during your lunch hour that will lift your face and make you look 10 to 20 years younger.  They have all kinds of exercise equipment that will stretch you out and and promise to give you the shape of a 20 year old.   These are all tempting (and expensive), as everyone wants youth,. As you may know "old is out" in our society.

Now, I have been persuaded to buy some of these products with the hope of pushing off age-related problems.  I have creams galore, defoliating contraptions and  products that promise thick and shiny hair.  My bathroom is a room of jars. My latest purchase was one I saw on Rachel Ray showing this doctor (?) putting cream on an audience member's  face and then, lo and behold,  a miracle happened within 2 minutes. The wrinkles disappeared!  I got so excited, I ordered it right away.  It has not arrived yet (ordered it 2 weeks ago) but in the meantime I read the reviews.   Apparently, this is for going out at night and being in low lighting and it only last a few hours.  You see, this cream is like a glue substance and begins to flake off after a short time. You cannot stay too long at a party as your face will deteriorate as the evening gets longer.  This might work if you are going to a Halloween costume affair.   You could go as the "The Portrait of Dorian Grey"  For those who are unfamiliar with this book by Oscar Wilde,  Dorian Gray is beautiful and stays young forever, but his picture ages and changes because of the way he lived his life.  I would suggest if you go to a party wearing this miracle substance, you should stay in dim lighting, before you start moulting.

About 10 years ago I went shopping with my friend Anne to Tuesday Morning, a sort of Marshall's for junk.  We came across this mirror that magnified 5Xs and had a light.  My friend told me she had one and loved it, so I bought it.  This mirror is not large, with a diameter of about 2 inches and you can only see half of your face in it. That worked for me as seeing parts are usually better than the whole. Since my sight was getting worse and you take your glasses off before applying makeup, I thought this would help and used it for a few years   Over time I decided to be kinder to myself and got a larger mirror with less magnification. Two months ago, I took it out again - for what reason, I do not know.  It was frightening! One thing that I noticed was that my eyebrows that I had been grooming for years were now balding.  The majority was still there, but with this extreme magnifier, I saw how sparse the hairs were.  This depressed me so and I was bound and determined to find a remedy.  I used brushes and pencils but looking in the mirror, the amount of cover up I was using looked even scarier. I became eyebrow face.  That afternoon I tuned in The Doctors', a TV program with 4 physicians discussing problems that people write in about.  Amazingly, one woman wrote in about losing her eyebrows.  They said it is something that happens to woman (not men, have you seen Andy Rooney?) due to some medical problems or over plucking.  One of their suggestions was hair transplant.  Somehow, I do not think this is covered by Medicare.  How do I explain to hubby that I need $1000 to get my eyebrows back.  I do not think this would fly.  Another solution was to keep brushing them and it might stimulate hair growth.  I have little faith in that as at this point in my life, when I brush my hair, more seems to come out in my comb.  I decided to give it a chance though and for the past week have been routinely brushing  the heck out of my brows.  What do I have to lose.

I want to end this blog with something that my friend Kathy sent me this morning via e-mail.  (You know this is retirees #1 past time, sending jokes or scary information to all their acquaintances.)  However this was so beautiful and touched me so, I wanted to share it .  Many or all of you might have seen this already as anything on the Internet spreads like lightening, but here it is. 
The Bright Red Hat

At 2, she looks in the mirror and sees a princess.

At 7, she sees herself as the beautiful Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.

At 14, she sees herself as a young lady, but fat with pimples and thinks she cannot possibly be seen this way. "How awful" she says.

At 20 years of age, she sees herself as too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall; hair too curly or too straight but she goes out anyways.

At 30 years of age, she still sees herself as too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short but decides she does not have time to fix all that and goes out anyways.

At 40, she still sees herself as too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short; hair too curly or too straight, but she thinks "Hey, I'm alive" and goes out anyway.

At 50, she sees herself in the mirror and says "Finally, I am me".  She goes out and thinks I'm even better!

At 60, she looks at herself and thinks of all the women who cannot look at themselves in the mirror.  She goes out and conquers the world.

At 70, she sees her worth, her wisdom, her happiness and recognizes her ability.  She goes out and enjoys life to the fullest.

At 80, she does not preoccupy herself with looking in the mirror.  She simply puts on her bright red hat and goes out and enjoys all the fun that life has to offer.

Let us enjoy each and every moment and share those with the ones we love.

PS from Arleen
I have reached the age where I can laugh about my life, and  inside I know I am OK and am proud of the woman I have become.  Besides being wife, mother and grandmother, I am me and I am quite something!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Retirement, End of Week 3

19 days of retirement and doing OK


I wake up every day to watch Good Morning America.  As the hosts and guests are speaking, they stream news on the bottom of the screen. I find this very distracting as I do not know on what to concentrate .  However, for the first 5 minutes I watch the bottom of the screen just to see the words "Good Morning America, the date, day and time is".  This gets me going as now I have the basics and can plan better.

I have never worn a watch or ever felt the need to have one and I have seldom been late for anything.  Of course, this might be due to being married to Father Time.  Time is (one of) his obsession.  If we have someplace to go he will ask me at what time I plan to leave.  I know that whatever I say will not be early enough for him but I say it anyway.  I think we have had more "discussions" about this matter than anything else in our 43 years of marrriage.  We are usually the first ones in a theater for a movie when not even the commercials have begun, we get to parties when the host is still getting dressed, and long before you had to be at the airport two hours before your flight, that was our routine.  My children always remember when one New Year's Eve we decided to go as a family to see  2010, A Space Oddesy. Because hubby was sure the theater would be packed, we left a few hours early for a show that was playing 20 minutes away.  Now back in the 80's most theaters were only showing 2 movies, not like the mega theaters of today, and many times the movies sold out.  When we arrived, there was nobody there and for a few hours I had to listen to 4 winey kids complaining.  My grown up children are seldom on time today and I blame it on that night. I think it is their subconscious still rebelling.

Now back to me.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I have started jogging in my house.  On my first day, I barely got through 3000 steps.  Yesterday, I did 12,240.  Now this was not in one clip.  I had jogged 9237 in the morning and was so in awe of myself.  We went out to dinner with friends that evening and along with a club sandwich I had a glass or two of fine wine.  We had a great time and when I got home around 9, I felt engergized.  I mentioned to hubby that I thought I would run my route for a while but did not get a positive response.  As he fell asleep in his old man's chair, I started my jog. I was not sure my pedometer would add on these extra steps to what I had already done, but I did not care.  I did another 3003 and was so excited when I saw 12,240 steps pop up in my history.  However, my goal everyday is to beat the day before's number and was not sure my old body could do this.  Knowing now that my pedometer would add up all previous runs for the day, I though I could do 4000+ three different times thoughout the day.  Today,  I was ready to start around ten but looked out my window and saw 5 cars parked in front of my house.  My home, being on a corner, is a school bus stop and because of snow, the kids had a 2 hour delay.  I thought it best to wait as I thought people would see an old woman running past the window every minute or two wearing what looked to be a cape (but is my bathrobe). I did not want anyone to call 911.  When the coast was cleared, I started with the intention of doing my first 4000 of the day.  Funny thing is that when I got to my mark, I knew I could do more, so my goal became 8000.  When I reached that number and was still breathing, I convinced myself that I could do 10,000. When I was finally done, the screen on my phone showed 13,003.   I am so proud of myself but now I have to beat that tomorrow.  I also want to do it in a shorter time.

My next blog will be about  compulsive disorders.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Retirement, Week 3

Week 3 of Retirement and doing OK


All the daytime TV shows are promoting "the new year, the new you".  Since it is the new year and my new life, and by the very fact that I am watching  too much TV because there is not much else to do, I have been paying attention to their message.  Exercise, I never really liked it although in my younger years I went to many classes and also worked out with some pulleys attached to a door handle.  Hubby got these for me, such a dear man.  I always told myself and others that I did these exercises for 30 minutes, but if truth be told,it was closer to 10.  I actually thought running around after four kids was enough.  However, now that I have no one to run around after, I have to do something to keep my heart beating. I thought it over carefully as to what sort of misery I could inflict upon myself.  There are gyms, but working out with skinny young people did not appeal to me.  I am also not ready to join one of those "mature" classes where they move slowly around in the water. That would totally depress me as I consider myself "older, not elderly".  Arobics are out as I have always thought of these as something you might see in a Mel Gibson torture movie.  I needed something that would not involve learning routines, people seeing me flopping around and something that when I was through, I would still be alive. 

The word "jog" had never been one of my favorites.  It is a silly word and no one looks good doing it.  The sweat on their clothes and the frightening grimaces on their faces does not say "fun".  However, that is what I am now doing - in the comfort of my home.  I have mapped out a route, carry a pedometer, and each day try to jog further than I did the day before.   My course starts in foyer, makes a left at the livng room, onto the dinng room and once around the table, another left into the kitchen, once around the island, into the breakfast room, go to the corner of the family room, around the coffee table, back into the breakfast room and left into the hallway and back to the foyer.   I am now up to 6023 steps which on my pedometer is 3.6 miles and I am doing this without stopping.  There are times though during my jog when I reach over to the table where the candy dish is and pick up a few M&Ms to help keep me going.    Everybody deserves a reward. 

You might ask why don't I get a treadmill or a stairmaster like most other sensible human beings.   A treadmill is boring and reminds me of my yearly heart examine. A stairmaster would kill me.  I look at my jogging as not only good for my health, but something to help keep my floors shiny.  As I jog, my fuzzy socks that I wear dust the wooden floors very well.  It's a twofer. As my floors have become an obsession with me since I got my new steamer cleaner, keeping them shinny gives me great joy.  Yes, I have to get out more. 

On to my exercise..., you know bathing suit weather is right around the corner and I can't wait to wear one - oh yeah, that won't happen.  The world may not be ready for that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Retirement, End of Second Week

12 days of Retirement and doing OK.

Mistakes and Regrets.

Yes, I have had a few but with age they become less important and many times laughable.  My latest was to dye my hair a purple/mahogony color three hours before my retirement party. Now I really hadn't planned on doing such a thing, but when I left work early that day to get ready for my big night, I noticed that my hair was about 3 week past dying.  I did not have time to go to a salon and remembered  that I had some boxes of dye at home. What I found was that they were all different brands and colors.  Companies like to change their packaging often and sometimes confuse me.  I realized that these were "mistake" purchases, however, I was determined to get rid of the grey, time was getting short and I had to make a choice.  One of the selections was darker than the others and after much consideration, I chose that one.  I usually go with a reddish blond, but I worried about it coming out a Clarabell Orange, (which I had experienced once before) so I thought it safest to go with dark. Oh, what a unique shade it was!  It was the color of my drapes.  At the party, everybody was very polite and never mentioned anything about it.  They all complimented me on my necklace.  I know this was to keep their eyes down and off my head . I felt it was a moment where people think "What do I say" so my necklace became the thing to talk about.   However, they have all been witness to many of my foibles, so this was just another "Arleen moment".  I have a reputation. 

Regrets, yes I have some, but that is what life is about.  You can learn from everything and what you do wrong is always a good lesson.  I believe they have made me a wiser and better person.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Retirement, Week 2

Week 2 of Retirement and doing OK.

"Linguists vote 'app" Word of the Year."  Well that news made my day! Even though I have reached senior citizen status, I am well aware of what an "app" is, however, I am appless.  Somehow, I will survive. Getting information within seconds allows you not to think, answers are instantaneous. The weather report is at your fingertips, although if you put your hand outside, you will be able to feel rain, snow, hail, heat and cold.  If you look up and see the sun or black clouds, you have your answer.  These are the old fashion apps, but they work just as fast and are probably more reliable than a weather forecast. However, on your smartphone, you can track the clouds.  You can worry about that far off weather pattern and because of your anxiety, you miss the good weather you are in at that moment. 

Smart phones will get smarter and unforutnately people won't have to.  There will be no need to remember anybody or anything.  It will all be at your fingertips.  See a person you somewhat recognize, no problem not knowing their name, check your facebook list on your phone and out of the hundreds you have listed, their face will pop up.  They will probably have to look you up also. I can envision a roomful of people at a party glued to their phones looking up everybody on their IPhones or Blackberries to remind them who their "friends" are. 

I must admit that as I get more and more into my forgetful years, this can be a help.  However, do you think any friends around my age will continually replace their pictures as they grow older. They will use photos of their grandchildren or their cat or dog.  I won't use my grandchildren, but I am now looking at photos of my cats to pick out the one who is most photogenic.

BTW (see, I can speak text language) I found my missing sock and now my day is less stressful.

Yes, life has changed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Retirement, Day 5

Day 5 and I am doing ok.  Notice the ok is in small letters today.  I'm mixing it up, I feel like being wild and crazy.

The other day I noticed that I was wearing unmatching socks; one was black and the other black and brown striped.  My goal for that day was to find at least one match.  I did not want to set the bar too high and finding the match for 2 seemed a little lofty. As I was searching through the container of unpaired items that sits on top of the dryer, I realized I would never find the black fuzzy one.  A light bulb went off in my head (a monumental moment lately) and I remembered that last year while emptying out the dryer, I came across this flat grizzly item that looked like road kill.  After checking to see that my black cat was still around, I realized that what I held in my hand was the fuzzy sock and it had melted.  It must have been made with some funky material and probably had washing instructions, but who would look for washing instructions on socks. I am curious why I have the other one though.  So my goal for the day went unfulfilled, however, I do still have to find the brown and black match, so I have something to look forward to.

We got some snow this morning; this is the day I have been waiting for.  I NO LONGER HAVE TO GO TO WORK. .  For the past five or so years I have been inflicted with snowitis.  I shake at the site of a flake, but only when I have to drive (or have "hubby drive).  However, I am cured now; I look at this lovely white snow with a new and peaceful attitude.  Retirement is de bomb!  I hope I used that expression correctly, I am trying to stay up to date on pop culture. 

Well, the weekend is here; funny thing though, in retirement, everyday seems like Friday at 4:30.  I might have to get a white board like they have in hospitals and have hubby write, Good Morning, today is Monday or whatever and the date is ....., your husband is Bob

Time to think about going back down to the basement and look at my nice neat piles again, but what about that sock I was going to look for.  Which is more important.  Decisions, decisions!

My Retirement, Day 3

Day 3 of Retirement and doing OK.

I googled myself today. My name appears on Facebook (how cool am I) and Linkedln.  On Linkedln I see I have two contacts.  Wow!  I have no idea who they are but it makes me feel good that someone would want me as a contact.  Of course that was B/R (before retirement).  I wonder how they came up with a name of Linkedln, I get the Link, but the edln, I don't.  I will have to look that up on Wikepedia today - another goal.  I have often mispronounced it to people as Linkeydink. I am sure that impressed them; maybe that is why I only have two contacts.  Perhaps when I let my hair go white and apply for a job at The Hallmark Store where I can dust statues, I can use those contacts.  However, I will have to remember the password to get in the site and there is no chance of that happening.

My name was also referenced in a Sound Off column from the local newspaper.  Last year I had written them a letter about tolerance for other people and their ideas.  This person was very nice to call in and say that she liked what I said and it got me a blurb on Google.  The good thing is that all the hate mail that I received did not.  I am concerned though that about 6 months ago when I also googled my name, I appeared on a few sites.  My letter showed up on Google, some responses were in Google, and I was also on the hubby's ancestory site. Those do not appear anymore.  Am I slowly disappearing from cyber life?  Have the Polish found out I am really Irish?  Then I got on Facebook and asked to see all thse listed with my last name.  There were over 250 names and I was not one of them.  Do you have to have a 100 friends to make the list?  Maybe I will have to give my cats an e-mail address and get them included as my friends.  Maybe they do not include old people in their count because they don't buy enough on line.

Today I have the pleasure of watching over my granddaughter who is not feeling well.  She is the greatest and one of the six most beautiful children ever born.  She is funny and clever and great company and is going to make Day 3 of my retirement go easier.  She is also an excuse for me not tackling the neat piles I have assembled in the basement.   

We just finished watching Alien Autopsy on Comcast, excuse me, Xfinity.   Great movie, must have missed it when it first came out.  Wonder if it will be up for an award this year.  Yes, yes, this is what retirement is all about - the opportunity to experience cultural events.

Because I have company today, I will have to forego some of my organizing till tomorrow.  However, I must have a goal.  I looked down at my feet and I have two different fuzzy socks on so my chore today will be to find the matches. 

Tomorrow is another day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Retirement, Day 2

Day 2 of retirement and doing OK.  I am planning on getting my life and junk in order and I hope to be as enthusiastic about this next week as I am this week.  However, my feeling is that my adult attention deficit will kick in on about Thursday or maybe sooner.  It may have already begun.

Yesterday I  took down the Christmas decorations and started classifying them in boxes in my basement.  The key word is "started".  Two of the nine containers are completed.  The rest of the stuff is in different piles on the floor waiting for me to sort out which goes and which stays. At my age I know that two boxes of decorations is enough, but disposing of memories is difficult. I intended to get back to that today but I noticed my new steamer cleaner and chose to do my floors instead. Woo Hoo, such excitement.  The floors look great and the steamer works well.  It usually takes me between 15 to 30 minutes to mop but with my super-duper steamer, it took most of my morning.  Yes, life could not get better.

Last night I decided to actually cook a meal using my new stainless steel oven.   As a working woman, eating out or microwaving 5 minute meals was always OK with me.  I have actually had the oven for 1 1/2 years but other than holidays and occasional heating up of frozen appetizers, it has had minimal use.  I decided on scalloped potatoes, steak and a side salad; a good healthy dinner and it would be a surprise for my husband Bob - and oh, how I love to surprise Bob.  Not having real potatoes handy, I went to my overstocked pantry (which is full of Triscuts and cans of food that I give to the boyscouts once a year) and found some boxes of cheese potatoes.  Easy!!!  I poured the potatoes into my casserole dish, mixed the cheese with the butter, milk and water, poured the mix over the dried potatoes and put it in the oven at 450 degrees.  I got distracted and forgot the salad, but what the heck, Bob is basically a meat and potato man and was excited to have a dinner at home PLUS HE WAS IN A GOOD MOOD - an extra!!  All was going well.  I put the potatoes on my plate and they looked so good and tasted yummy.  The steak was tender and done just right.  Bob enjoyed his meal also and went to take seconds of the potatoes.  All of a sudden I hear him say, "What is this?"  He had pulled out this long piece of cellophane out of the yummy potatoes.  Now, I remember cutting the top of the cheese packet and throwing it away, but I did not remember any cellophane being in the package.  Bob (Mr. Q/C)  investigated and found another box in the pantry and "politely" pointed out to me that the potatoes came in a cellophane wrapping.  This possibly happened when in my enthusiasm for cooking a home cooked meal, I tore the wrapping in such glee, that a piece fell into the food without me seeing it.  Before he went to bed last night Bob suggested I pick out a restaurant to eat in tonight.  However, I am undaunted and will continue to cultivate my culinary talents. 

It's about 3 pm so I guess I should wash my hair and get dressed.  I wouldn't want Bob to think I am going to pot.  I'll only have to wear something "daytime" for a few hours though, I can get back into my pj's by 6 pm. Now I understand why senior citizens wear elastic waist pants, daytime and nighttime clothes are the same.  What you wear to bed, you can wear everywhere.  I am deciding that this is maybe a plus.  Sometime when I get the energy to go out past my mailbox, I'll shop for a few pairs of black "loungewear". 

My plan tomorrow is to clean out a closet, or maybe a cupboard, or maybe I will go back in the basement and look at the nice neat piles I have created and think of another excuse to put that off.